Rights vs. Responsibilities – Part II

Published: March 31, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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You walk into your local Starbucks to grab a Frappuccino (tall, half-ice, no whip cream), and discover Clint Eastwood standing next to you in-line with a .44 Magnum, “the most powerful handgun in the world,” strapped to his side.  What do you do?

Okay, it’s not Eastwood, but what if the man with the gun on his hip is Joe Schmoe?

I’d feel a little uneasy and probably head for the door, especially if I had kids in tow.

That’s the situation currently facing a lot of people due to the fact that a) most states (38) allow adults to openly carry guns into a business establishment; and b) although a business has the legal authority to ban displays of guns on its property, Starbucks, for one, doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.

Members of an organization called OpenCarry.org are currently engaging in such high-profile demonstrations in order to press their Second Amendment right to openly carry a gun without fear of seizure. The Supreme Court is due to make a ruling in June to determine whether state and local gun-control ordinances violate the Second Amendment (McDonald v. Chicago).

Although businesses such as California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee & Tea have banned open weapons in their establishments for obvious concerns, Starbucks issued a statement saying that “the political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.”

In recent years, Starbucks has not only become a culture icon, but a meeting place for both business and social groups, and now, it would seem to be the new meeting place of choice for the open-carry group.

In a recent New York Times article (Mar. 7), Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of OpenCarry.org says, “Our point is to do the same thing that concealed carriers do.  We’re just taking off our jackets.”

“Their goal,” the Times writes, “at least in part, is to make the case for liberalized concealed weapon laws by demonstrating how uncomfortable many people are with publicly displayed guns.”

But not all gun advocacy groups see it that way.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation said “I’m all for open-carry laws, but I don’t think flaunting it is very productive for our cause. It just scares people.”

Do you think he has a point?

However, there’s a strange twist to the issue.  While California allows you to carry a gun openly, the gun cannot be loaded.  Every other state allows for a loaded, open-carry gun, except California.  So, I guess we’re “safe” in California.

“Ethics,” Justice Potter Stewart once said, “is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”


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