Many gun rights supporters seem to take great pride in conducting Second Amendment audits.
They walk into a public place carrying an openly visible firearm and gauge the public and police response.
Afterward, these so-called auditors usually take to social media to post comments and even videos about what happened, especially if their open carry statement is met with a negative reaction by anyone with the misfortune of witnessing the spectacle.
In Idaho, it’s legal to open carry in most places and the vast majority of Idahoans support the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. So it seems odd that gun rights activists would conduct Second Amendment audits in our state.
But they do.
One such audit was recently conducted by state Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon. With a holstered pistol on his waist, Christensen walked into the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot to see what would happen. To his surprise he was not hassled or told to leave.
Many of us have been in a public place when someone walks in with a firearm openly visible.
In a world without weekly mass shootings, an armed individual in our midst might be no reason for concern. But in 2019 America, the sight of someone open carrying a firearm in a place such as a restaurant, retail store or county fairgrounds captures everyone’s attention and is disconcerting, even to people who support the Second Amendment.
It’s so alarming that several major chain stores, such as Albertsons, Kroger (the owner of Fred Meyer) and Walmart, have recently told their customers to not open carry guns in their establishments.
Whatever outcome Christensen and other Second Amendment auditors hope to achieve by toting guns in public places, the only definite result of such antics is to scare people.
Even locally, people have called the police to report individuals who are openly carrying firearms in public places, even though Idaho is an open carry state. The police are called because it’s unusual to see someone open carrying and people who witness such individuals are concerned about the armed person’s motives — even here in pro-gun Idaho.
The ensuing confrontations between the police and these armed individuals are obviously stressful for everyone involved and could end in tragedy if the Second Amendment auditor is mistaken for a mass shooter.
The bottom line is there’s no good reason to open carry.
Christensen and other Second Amendment auditors here in the Gem State need to realize that they’re living in one of the most gun friendly states in the nation.
There are probably more guns than people in Idaho and any attempt at gun control here will correctly be met with lots of opposition.
We support the Second Amendment, period.
That being said, there’s absolutely no need to walk around with an openly visible firearm on your person to test how Idahoans feel about guns.
Those who do so are not only making everyone in their presence feel very uncomfortable and creating a potentially dangerous situation, but they’re reinforcing the fears about guns and misconceptions about gun owners that some people have.
Does anyone really believe that a man conducting a Second Amendment audit by walking through a neighborhood with an AR-15 rifle is winning any anti-gun person over to his side?
That man is terrifying everyone in that neighborhood and making pro-gun folks look like nut jobs.
Trust us when we say that even pro-Second Amendment people will be calling the police if they spot an AR-15 toting individual walking down their street.
So if Second Amendment auditors shouldn’t conduct their audits, how else can they express their support for the Second Amendment?
That’s a fair question.
It’s true the Second Amendment is under attack in parts of our country and not every state is as friendly toward firearms as Idaho. Some states are clearly anti-gun.
Some more effective alternatives to Second Amendment audits for gun rights activists are to vote for pro-gun candidates on election day or better yet help those candidates with their campaigns.
Simply explaining the need for the Second Amendment to your anti-gun acquaintances is something all pro-gun individuals can do and we guarantee those acquaintances will be much more willing to listen to you if you’re not openly carrying a firearm.
Or in Christensen’s case, how about opening a Second Amendment booth at the fair to educate East Idahoans about the right to bear arms?
We guarantee such a booth would be very popular with fair-goers.
Anything is better than walking into a crowded public place with a gun on your hip.
The Second Amendment is an integral part of our Constitution and gun rights are part of our DNA here in Idaho.
But promoting and protecting the Second Amendment should and can be done without making a scene.
Many Idahoans do carry firearms around with them all the time but the weapons are concealed — something that’s also legal under Idaho law.
We endorse concealed carry over open carry for obvious reasons and we encourage Christensen and other Second Amendment auditors to realize there are better and less terrifying ways to get their point across.