Here’s a great article at Salon by Heather Digby Parton on America’s messed up and often racist gun culture, and why “Open Carry” groups don’t understand the factors that create police brutality like the shooting of John Crawford in an Ohio Wal-Mart.
After finally being allowed to view the video of the police shooting of a man in an Ohio Wal-Mart, it’s very hard for any reasonable person to conclude that the authorities acted responsibly. They appear not to have given him any chance to drop the toy gun in his hand before shooting him. It’s possible that they were persuaded by the frightened 911 caller that they were entering a deadly situation, but there’s no evidence they heard anything but a description and location of a black man with an afro, wearing jeans and a T-shirt carrying a rifle and threatening people in Wal-Mart. An Ohio grand jury seems to have thought that it was reasonable for police in that situation to shoot first and ask questions later.
If you didn’t know it was a toy gun, it’s easy to see why someone might be afraid. Any time you see people casually carrying guns around you know there’s the potential for a deadly accident or some kind of altercation resulting in death. But obviously, the answer to that problem is not for the police to simply shoot them down. In fact, Ohio is an open carry state, which means that it is perfectly legal to walk around Wal-Mart with a real AR-15 much less a toy they sell right there in the store.
…Open carry advocates stage demonstrations to “exercise” their right to wear firearms in public all the time. For example, in May a couple of men in Medina, Ohio, walked the streets with such guns slung casually over their backs. Police were called numerous times by people alarmed at the sight of two men carrying AR-15 rifles in the town square. (You can listen to the 911 calls here.) But interestingly, in this case the police didn’t deploy a SWAT team or rush in with guns drawn and start shooting:
Their encounter with police was captured on video cameras, carried by both the men and the officers, which showed the men at first refusing to show their identification when approached by officers. The men complied only after an officer told them they would be disarmed if they didn’t. The officers said they were justified in demanding the IDs because of the 911 calls and because one of the men fumbled when asked his age.
The demand for the ID was the key issue cited by several demonstrators. “We have a constitutional right to carry a firearm to protect ourselves,” said Harry Wynn, of Stow, who wore an AR-15 across his chest and also carried a Glock 30. “Nobody should get forced ID’d because they have a firearm — I don’t care how many 911 calls came in.”
They were asked politely for their IDs. And when they provided them they were allowed to keep walking around in public with real AR-15s. A couple of weeks later a local open carry group staged a demonstration and the police didn’t ID any of them, much less shoot any of them, as they walked up and down the streets of Medina.