From VCDL ALLERT
My personal journey with open carry
Every day we have the opportunity to influence how other people view
responsible gun owners. Who have you influenced today?.
Marc Montoni emailed me this:
My Personal Journey with Open Carry
by Marc Montoni
In 1971, at the age of 9, I was stuffing envelopes for a Democratic
candidate I didn't even know, while on a family visit to Pittsfield,
MA. My mother had taken me and my sister to see relatives in the
area, and one of the relatives was supporting a local campaign for
office. Two things I remember about the mailing party we stumbled
upon during our visit were 1) one of the relatives making an impromptu
speech about guns and how they should all be outlawed, and 2) I was a
super mean envelope-stuffer. People around the table were amazed at
how fast I was assembling the mailing. I distinctly remember the
sound of those custom-imprinted nail files with the candidate's name
and office on them, hitting the envelopes I was stuffing.
In retrospect, I probably wasn't so fast so much as everyone else was
yakking a lot about the campaign.
Throughout the seventies as I became a young adult, I remember many
conversations with my parents about gun laws in the United States.
The often bemoaned their still-(somewhat)-legal status. At that time,
I swallowed their line without question.
Then, in 1980, a friend handed me a copy of 'The Fountainhead', by Ayn
Rand, and from there I became affiliated with the Libertarian Party.
I changed my mind about guns, but consciously declined to buy one for
myself for several years. I remember thinking about it, but I was too
nervous about guns -- a relic of my upbringing -- to own a "real"
one. I had shot BB guns and even a small .22 during my youth, and it
didn't seem a big deal -- but bigger guns seemed like magical objects
That changed in 1993. By chance one day, I saw a friend on the
Henrico County police force, Officer Pace, looking through some
collectible comics at a comic shop. Pace had helped me on a couple of
previous occassions (accidents or crimes I had witnessed, I think). I
believe this is the same Officer Pace in this [very poor] photo:
For whatever reason, we got on the subject of guns. He told me that
citizens can wear a gun openly, on their hip, or three points visible
in a car, without a permit. I'd been thinking more and more about
guns in the years leading up to this, and I was looking for a way to
increase public awareness of the law-abiding ownership and carrying of
weapons. Officer Pace's words on open carry inspired me to do more
research on the law.
Eventually I decided that open carry fulfilled my goal perfectly, so I
went to a local gun dealer and bought my first gun, a Davis P-380 semi-
In retrospect, it was a laughable carry piece. It was too small for
my hand -- two of my fingers were all that could securely grip the
handle. But for the moment, it would do. Besides, Davis Industries
was a pretty cool little company. It was a California shop, and it
warranted all of its guns for life -- which came in handy when a
couple of parts eventually broke on the gun. Too bad they, like many
others, were sued out of existence.
But in any case, I knew if I owned a gun, I needed to know how it
worked, so about a week after I bought it, I stopped in at a then-
brand-new shooting range, U.S. Training & Development (now called Top
Gun Shooting Range), in Harrisonburg, VA. I nervously bought my first
box of ammo, a couple of targets, borrowed eyes and ears, and went to
the lane. On the first round I shot, my hands were so shaky I there
was this nagging thought I should just forget it and leave. But I
squeezed it off, and except for a few jams that the attendant showed
me how to handle, 50 shots went flying away just fine.
A couple of thousand rounds later, that gun is pretty much toast, and
I have a better carry piece that actually fits my hand now.
But in between my first outing in the spring of 1993 and now, I have
been in places all over Virginia with a gun on my hip, and have fired
thousands of rounds through every conceivable type of gun at numerous
indoor and outdoor ranges.
Most places I have been, there were no issues. However, I was thrown
out of the Valley Mall once in Harrisonburg (1995), I was asked to
leave The Grey Wolf Grill (1998) at Willow Lawn Shopping Center in
Henrico (ironically the Grey Wolf was two doors down from where that
conversation with Officer Pace had taken place almost five years
earlier), an old man in the buffet line at a Western Sizzlin in
Henrico angrily asked me and my friend Chris why we were carrying, and
verbally berated us for doing so, and a few other minor incidents of a
I have been stopped once or twice for traffic violations, and it's
never been much of an issue with the officer involved.
In all, I'd say my experience was positive, and advanced gun rights.
* My mother, who had been anti-gun all her life, started talking to me
about them. Eventually, she agreed to go target shooting with me --
the first time she'd *ever* held a gun, much less fired one.
* My best friend, Chris, began a gun collection and open-carrying
odyssey of his own -- he now has more guns in more varieties than I do
(a fact which I agree shames me).
* The barber I used to go to regularly began talking to me about guns
and carrying, over the course of six months' worth of periodic hair
cuts. By the end of that six months, I accompanied her to a gun store
to shop. While she didn't buy that day, she did buy shortly
thereafter -- and I treated her to her first 50 rounds of ammo and an
hour at the range.
* When I bought my first house, one of my longest-term roommates was a
good friend -- a fellow I'd sold a car to in 1982, and we'd remained
friends ever since (must have been a good car to him). After seeing
me carry for a while, he bought his own gun, too.
* Another roommate was a student from mainland China. I took her
shooting with all of my guns also. We had several interesting
conversations about guns -- she told me that all Chinese citizens are
trained to arms from a young age. That meant shooting was nothing new
to this bantamweight 18-year-old young lady, which surprised me no end.
* Countless other friends have gone shooting for the first time in
their lives -- with my guns.
I eventually created a flyer to carry in my back pocket about open
carry / any kind of carry, just to answer the most common questions
(unfortunately, as open carry has become more accepted and I've had to
explain it less, I managed to lose my digital file of that flyer).
The gist of it was I'd been telling questioners verbally: that I
believed a right not used is a right you will lose; and that I wanted
to confront the image most people had of guns. TV news had long
promoted a very one-sided view of guns - they would show the aftermath
of violence in DC readily, but they would put stories of people
defending themselves in the dustbin. The only other times citizens
saw guns were when they were on the hips of government cops.
In short, I became a missionary for gun rights as much as I had become
a missionary for the Libertarian Party. It was a happy coupling,
though. The Libertarian Party has by far the strongest position of
any U.S. political party on the private ownership of weapons.
Libertarians are probably more consistent on weapons than even some of
the most radical gun groups. My own version of libertarianism says
that if a weapon is too dangerous for citizens to own, then it's too
dangerous for governments to own as well. Readers may then surmise
that I believe as as the Founders believed - that individuals should
be allowed to own & bear military-class weapons, primarily as the best
defense against tyranny.
I continue to carry to this day, and it warms my heart to see so many
others have joined the movement. Thank you, Internet.
And thank you, Officer Pace.
Great story; makes me want to start open carrying more. I wonder if Officer Pace knows all this...
I thought Golf Claps were a thing of past history.
Originally Posted by Janq
With all the hollering today, I expect to hear someone shout "IN THE HOLD" when someone tees off on a par 5. :rolleyes: