This weekend, a bunch of folks affiliated with Open Carry Texas went into a Dallas Chipotle carrying loaded assault rifles. On the heels of a recent incident in which Open Carry activists brought weapons into a Fort Worth Jack in the Box – reportedly prompting some terrified staff to lock themselves in the restaurant freezer – this weekend’s scene in that Dallas Chipotle prompted substantial pushback, and ultimately resulted in the chain requesting customers not open carry long guns in its franchises.
Naturally, Open Carry Texas is shocked, shocked at the response. As OC Texas founder CJ Grisham told Forbes “We don’t go there just to carry guns into a restaurant,” he said. “We always let the manager know we’re coming. We try very hard to make people feel comfortable.”
Of course they didn’t go to Chipotle just to carry their guns there. They went for the barbacoa bowls and watery margaritas, and like all good foodies, they had to take a few selfies of their meal and post them online. Of course, they just happened to have their assault rifles with them at the time. But that’s not the point. Stop getting so sensitive and stuff, people. Open Carry Texas is trying very hard to make you feel comfortable.
Let’s call this what it is: trolling, pure and simple. It’s doing something outrageous that clearly codes one way – threatening and aggressive – and then throwing hands up in the air, protesting-too-much, disowning all responsibility, and claiming victim status. We’re not threatening you, say the gun trolls. In fact, it’s you who is threatening them by questioning the appropriateness and prudence of their walking around the local strip mall locked and loaded for World War III. And if you do feel threatened, well, it’s your problem, not theirs.
But of course it’s objectively threatening, and they know it. As a veteran friend who now works in law enforcement pointed out, carrying a long gun slung across your chest is called “at the ready” for a reason – and it’s not because you’re ready to eat tacos. I’ve been in plenty of places where people do openly carry weapons – Switzerland, for starters, and those rifles were fully automatic, in point of fact – but whenever I’ve seen it it’s always been done with extreme caution, responsibility, and restraint, and never at the ready. Open Carry Texas’s trollishness is obvious and reasonable pro-gun folks aren’t happy about it either.
Some people troll Internet comments sections with lame gifs and snark; others troll Twitter with sock puppets and vitriol; and still others troll fast food joints with assault rifles. As a rule, you shouldn’t feed the trolls. But it’s crucial to assess Open Carry Texas’s veneer of good faith, recognize the insane troll logic that underwrites it, and then stop feeding them — denying them attention and, if needs be, burritos, too.
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So wait. What about the presumption that people who follow the law are objectionable and that the open exercise of their rights is shocking? When I followed the link to ‘guntrolling’ I expected exactly the opposite of what I got here. I expected to see some examples of citizens barking at shooters because they shoot, at gun owners because they own, at anti-gun activists presuming the worst in their fellow citizens. Do you not see how activists are trolling for reprehensible people to represent all gun owners?