Open Carry: Homeland Defense Aid or Hindrance
Armed and ready, the Miracle family of Sterling Heights, Michigan is fully prepared to take on any terrorist threat. Like a growing number of Americans, they believe such readiness, including a house with 25 firearms, is their civic duty. According to Lee Miracle, “We see preparedness as like having a fire extinguisher – you never want to use it, but it is there”. Lee Miracle also believes in his right to bear arms as provided in the US constitution. He, along with others, feels that by openly carrying their weapons they are standing on the front lines of America’s homeland defense. (Alison, 2010)
Lee and his family are members of a militia that cherishes the constitutional right to bear arms and to protect your own homes. "We are similar to the Home Guard in the UK during the Second World War. We're normal families exercising our constitutional rights to bear arms and to protect our way of life and our community". Mr. Miracle explains that militia members believe self-defense is a fundamental human right and emphasis individual responsibility. "We are first and foremost great patriots. We don't think the federal government can be there to protect us all the time, every day. We can't expect emergency services funded by the taxpayer to just arrive and help us when we are in difficulty. You have to make a stand for yourself, to look after what is important to you." Of his militia group affiliation, Miracle says: "We like to think of ourselves as a giant Neighborhood Watch. I want to know that if something like Hurricane Katrina happened here, I'd know how to protect my family from looters or social unrest." (Alison, 2010)
The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry handguns while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years. This activity has been encouraged by libertarian groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and the Free State Project. Recently a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness have taken place. Starbucks recently found itself in the middle of the debate when armed meet-ups occurred at several of its locations. (Wingfield, 2010)
The Bay Area gun owners, loosely affiliated with OpenCarry.org, are hoping to draw attention to what they see as a Second Amendment guarantee: the right to carry a gun without fear that it will be confiscated. The meet-ups are meant to highlight shortcomings in California's gun laws. You can carry a gun openly in California, but it can't be loaded. Every other state that allows you to carry a gun openly also allows it to be a functioning weapon.(Mueller, 2010)
43 states' constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, but none specifically refer to the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, but none mention open carry specifically. Nine states' constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature which could be considered, by exclusion to indicate that the open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states, though this is not explicitly stated and is therefore debatable. (Wingfield, 2010)
The second amendment to the Constitution reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." Gun rights proponents have argued that the use of the word "Militia" refers not to the State National Guard Units, but to the citizens of the United States. (Mueller, 2010) James Madison was responsible for proposing this amendment and was one of three authors of the Federalist Papers, a group of essays published in newspapers to explain and lobby for...
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