Open Carry & De Facto Criminalization

No PasaranAlthough alien to many European readers, in the United States of America many areas allow what is called open carry. Without going into the details — as many states, counties and cities have different laws — Americans are allowed to openly carry a rifle in public spaces. This is rooted in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. However, authoritarians and statists have progressively chipped away at the legal rights of individuals to own and openly carry weapons over the last few decades. In response, many liberty-minded individuals have taken to openly carrying rifles in public areas. This is not common, but it is fully legal. Yet, due to the irrational fears of firearms and the authoritarian preference for safety over liberty, it almost always results in the inevitable call to law enforcement. As a result, YouTube is full of videos such as this:

If you’ve watched the video you may have noticed that the man was able to carry a rifle through a major city in the USA. This was legal. However, the police officer forced him to leave. How was he able to do this when the man was not breaking a law? Well, this is due to what are known as pretext laws. By citing “disorderly conduct,” a vague statute, the police officer was able to force the individual to return and put his firearm away. The rationale is that because individuals subjectively felt alarm at a man with a rifle that man was engaging in an act of disorderly conduct.

This type of legislation opens the door to virtually any subjective restriction at the hands of law enforcement. Individuals have been arrested for shouting, for having peaceful parties, for protests, for engaging in activism and, in this case, for openly carrying a weapon. None of which is illegal, except when an officer subjectively decides that it is “disorderly.”

This is a form of de facto criminalization. The act of owning a firearm is legal. The act of carrying it in public is legal. However, a law was passed that makes it impossible to exercise that legal right. Or, more specifically, a law was passed that allows a police officer to subjectively stifle that right at will.

If you are an American, I would recommend visiting and getting involved in an Open Carry Group. This is not a right/left, liberal/conservative issue. This is an issue of individual rights and individual liberty versus the police state and a growing culture of fear, authoritarianism and suppression.


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