“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. “ More on that in a second.

Today, I openly carried an unloaded firearm. I was not in danger, I was not trying to intimidate anyone, and I’m not even a redneck. I did it because it was legal, I have a right to, and that right is being threatened with being taken away.

Before I get started, here is the meat of the relevant California Penal Code that deals with Unloaded Open Carry (UOC), a term for what I was practicing:

12025. (a) A person is guilty of carrying a concealed firearm when he or she does any of the following:

(1) Carries concealed within any vehicle which is under his or her control or direction any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.

(2) Carries concealed upon his or her person any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.

(f) Firearms carried openly in belt holsters are not concealed within the meaning of this section.

Right now there is an assembly bill, AB 1943, that wants to ban open carry. “So?” you might be asking me. Well, now we get back to that quote I started with, attributed (or possibly misattributed) to Voltaire.

Our country was founded with a very simple premise. Many of the founders did not agree on government, human rights, property rights, economics, or warfare. That sounds a lot like today, actually. One thing they could agree on, however, was the Bill of Rights. These rights were considered so basic, such fundamental human rights, that Alexander Hamilton did not even think they needed to be written down. It was understood, self-evident. Well, thankfully they did write them down and we defined a major difference for ourselves: The government does not grant them; these are your natural rights as a human being. If you are unfamiliar with or need a refresher in your rights, please educate yourself by clicking here.

For the most part, our liberties are upheld. Soldiers are not quartered in our homes. Warrants are issued before police investigations are performed, and our right to due process, protection against self-incrimination, and trial by a jury of our peers is ensured. The court system tries to not hand out cruel and unusual punishments. The average person’s right to free speech is heroically defended, so much so that groups like the Westboro Baptist Church are protected despite despicable rhetoric. And that’s a phenomenal thing, because as someone who may or may not have been Voltaire said, what you say isn’t as important as your right to say it.

The Second Amendment needs to be defended as much as any other, yet it seems to divide people more strongly than the others do. It is a right that is only necessary when things are at their worst, but no matter how much you wish that worst never comes, the right must be protected.

The argument that I have heard the most is that guns make people uncomfortable. For a vast majority of people, that is true. While I seek to be as understanding and accommodating as I can, I still have to say: Get over it. Comfort is not the aim of civil rights, however much that may pain you. People complain that gay marriages make them uncomfortable, just as they complained that mixed-race relationships were doomed; but they were wrong and so is this argument. Comfort is bred by familiarity and familiarity by acclimation.

Another belief is that guns promote violence and removing them from society will reduce crime and save lives. Unfortunately, while ideally true, there are several problems with this idea. The first, and foremost, is that guns are easy to make and their parts are common. The second problem is that it’s already illegal for criminals to possess a firearm – that hasn’t seemed to help, has it? The last piece of evidence, while contested, seems fairly consistent: as legal, civilian ownership of firearms goes up, crime goes down.

In closing, am I against gun control? Not entirely. When it comes to firearms, I believe responsibility in ownership is important above all. AB 1934 is not about responsibility. It’s about denying a legal and Constitutional right. Nowhere in the bill does it state that open carry will be illegal until proper training is received. Nor does it allow any form of carry for 99.92 percent of California citizens, as many counties in the state are “May-Issue” when it comes to CCW (a permit to carry concealed weapons) and have a less than 0.01 percent issuance rate.

Are guns necessary for your day-to-day life?

Does it frighten you that law abiding citizens (felons cannot own or possess a firearm) can carry legally registered firearms in public?

Do you personally own a gun?

These are all irrelevant questions. I disapprove of how you act, but I will defend to the death your right to express it.

For those that think I’m a criminal, for those who want to themselves open-carry, or who are interested in the legalities behind this, CaliforniaOpenCarry.org is an excellent source.

Tyler Johnson lives in Santa Barbara. He is not a Republican and was not born in Texas.


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