OpenCarry.org was founded in 2004 by Virginia residents John Pierce and Mike Stollenwerk to be a pro-gun Internet community focused on the right to openly carry properly holstered handguns in daily American life.
The idea to establish OpenCarry.org arose in Virginia where state law (now repealed effective July 1, 2010) actually required open carry at restaurants serving alcohol. In July, 2004, Fairfax County, VA police briefly appeared at the Reston, VA Champps restaurant to investigate a 911 call about patrons openly carrying holstered handguns. Mike was at Champps eating a steak and drinking a coke that night while openly carrying and he describes the police response as something Cesar might have said: “They came, they saw, they left.”
But then the Washington Post ran a series of very critical articles and scathing editorials attacking the practice of open carry. Reacting to this “news” coverage, gun owners in Virginia and across the United States naturally wondered about the law of open carry in the fifty states – but gun rights Internet resources at that time focused almost exclusively on “concealed” carry. Research soon revealed that state legislatures and courts have largely protected open carry rights since the time of our nation’s founding, and that most states require no permit to open carry.
So thanks to the Washington Post’s “sky is falling” hoplophobic coverage of the Champps non-incident, OpenCarry.org was born!
In addition to being an invaluable “starting point” legal resource and discussion forum for gun owners, OpenCarry.org has grown to become the social networking portal for the open carry movement. Tens of thousands of “OCDO” registered members have already made a difference in their communities! Since 2004, the open carry of handguns has become much more common and less controversial as open carriers’ friends, neighbors and local law enforcement discover that open carry is legal and wholesome. In fact a recent FBI report essentially concludes that criminals don’t open carry handguns.
Anthropologist Charles Springwood sums it up nicely when he commented that open carriers are trying to “naturalize the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent, and expected. Over time, the gun becomes a symbol of ordinary personhood.”
OpenCarry.org believes that “a right unexercised is a right lost,” and increasingly gun owners are agreeing – it’s time gun carry comes out of the closet across America!
Bios & Press Contact
John Pierce is an attorney who lives in Bristol Virginia where he also owns a software consulting business. John is a life-long gun rights advocate and an NRA certified instructor. He has an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems, an MBA from George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia and is a 2012 honors graduate of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN.
Professionally, John is a member of the American Bar Association Second Amendment Civil Rights Litigation Subcommittee and his writings have been published by the ABA Civil Rights Litigation Committee and the ABA Minority Trial Lawyer Committee.
Mike Stollenwerk lives in Virginia where he retired from the United States Army (in which he served as an armored cavalry officer and economist for over 20 years) in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
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