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Open Cary: Group armed with long guns stroll weekly through Carytown

RICHMOND, Va. — Three men armed with long guns, that they say are unloaded, have been turning heads as they walk through the busy urban retail district of Carytown.

People who live and work nearby said they’ve seen the group a handful of times, and few feel comfortable with the sight of the guns.

“It’s not all negative out there, a lot of it is positive,” said Scott Royale, who has spent several weekends walking with a small group of friends down Cary Street and through downtown.

His friend Jason Spitzer started showing up with a flag and his long gun, and shortly thereafter others began joining him.

They said part of their plan is to simply “raise awareness of responsible gun ownership.”

Not everyone in Carytown is enthusiastic about the display, and shop owner Sherry Burgess said “I just think it’s intimidating to people.”

One mother who has spotted the group, and who wishes to remain anonymous, is part of a group called “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.”

“My belief is that no one should be normalized to the site of these weapons in public,” she said. “There is no way to know if the person carrying one of these down Cary Street is a good guy or a bad guy.”

She added that many in their national organization aren’t anti-gun, and many in other states have open carry permits.

“It was something about seeing, large guns, with three people carrying a flag that made it a little scary,” said Teresa Cerully, who works in Carytown.

Most understand the young men are trying to make a statement, they just aren’t sure what it is,or why they picked Cary Street.

“A few weeks ago, they were standing in front of our store, talking to people about their cause and my customers were actually afraid to leave the store because they have small children and didn’t know exactly what their cause was,” said Sheri Doyle, Carytown shop owner.

Olivia Walthall had mixed re-actions when she first saw the men and their guns.

“They let me express how I felt and then I head their side of the story and it was nice to get some insight,” Walthall said about the encounter.

She snapped this photo of the group in Carytown, in front of a children’s book store, which is located beside a toy store.

Photo by Olivia Walthall

Photo by Olivia Walthall

 

Royale said that it hasn’t been all negative reactions along their six mile walks.

“People ride by, honk their horn at you, wave at you, put their thumbs up, thank you for what you are doing,” he said.

A spate of open carry gatherings have popped around the nation, resulting in several stores banning guns on their premises.

Open Carry Texas has been very outspoken and hope to change legislation to be “less restrictive.” Rifles are allowed for open carry in Texas, not handguns.

Philip Van Cleave, President of gun rights organization Virginia Citizens Defense League, said they don’t take a position on how people lawfully carry guns.

Though he did say here in Virginia that open carry of a long gun is odd since Virginia law allows handguns to be openly displayed.

Spitzer has invited over 300 people to another open carry event on July 4, in Carytown. He said that his long gun is not loaded, though his hand gun is loaded and chambered.

He seeks clarification from an attorney if Richmond allows loaded long guns, saying that Virginia law does, though it does not allow capacity to exceed a 20 round magazine. Spitzer says there is some confusion among the group whether the city is excluded from Virginia law.

“I can strongly advise, please don’t,” he said about others showing up with loaded long guns. He said if they find out they can carry loaded long guns, they will but the guns will not be chambered.

In the Facebook invitation Spitzer writes that it will be held rain or shine and anyone is welcome to join. The group will meet at 11:45 a.m. Byrd Theater Parking Garage on Friday.

“Getting up and doing something positive or negative is better than sitting around at your house with an opinion never actually getting up and standing for something. Nut up or shut up. I am a true patriot. Are you?” he writes.

79 comments

  • Jay

    Gotta love the black dude on the café bike…a Johnston/Lee Battle Flag….He’s Soooo complicated! Must take him 2 hours to get dressed. Can’t miss a photo-op, regardless of cause…..Idiot!

    • linda falkerson

      It’s a sad day in American when gun owners can openly carry weapons in family friendly public place.

      America has the highest gun murder rate among developed nations. The NRA preys on the fears and fragile egos of gun toting Americans like these men. The NRA frightens gun owners into thinking the government is the enemy and the government is going to confiscate their guns. Facing fewer job prospects, declining incomes and a world where they are no longer dominate, these (mostly white) men are easy prey for NRA rhetoric. They buy more guns, the gun manufacturers get rich and so do the board members of the NRA who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

      Who suffers? Innocent children in our elementary schools and colleges, wives and children of domestic abusers and Americans in our malls and movie theaters. Thank God for Moms who fight for sensible gun laws.

      • Ray

        Sorry, I have to respond to you. Back when my father and grandfather went to school, the children knew about guns and were taught gun safety. They would even bring in their .22 rifles to school for show and tell. If society was like it ‘use to be’ then people could carry their guns around with them, and no one would even have a second thought about it. It is because the ‘few’ unresposnsible people out there screw it up for everyone else shouldn’t mean that everyone should be punished. Yes, the United States may have the highest murder rate with guns, but most of those locations are places where guns are forbidden (Gun Free Zones). Look at the difference between Virgina and Washington DC crime rates. DC who had some of the most strict gun laws in the nation had the highest crime rate with guns, while in VA the rate was low. Once Chicago and DC residences were allowed to have guns in their houses, the crime rate has gone down. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/09/30/media-silence-is-deafening-about-important-gun-news/

  • Jeff Mo

    There is no way to know if anybody walking down the street is a good guy or a bad guy, regardless of whether or not they are carrying a firearm. I understand people have varying opinions, but that trope is so played out.

    • MissTee

      If they are carrying a rifle, but not hunting or going to target practice, there’s a much higher chance that they are carrying it because they want to kill. Before too long, someone will stand their ground against these losers. Their entire purpose is to threaten and intimidate. Absolutely solid ground for SYG defense.

      • manalishi

        Feel free to stand your ground against someone not breaking the law. I trust them more than you at that point.

      • Harry

        Because the only three reasons to carry a rifle is to hunt, target shoot, and kill? And that’s according to your almighty wisdom. Maybe they are carrying guns because they feel like it? When has that become unacceptable in a country where it’s your civic duty to speak freely, vote, and bear arms?

  • edison cates

    i guess if i didn’t have a snowballs chance in h3ll of getting laid i’d walk around carrying a rifle too. here an idea since the love carrying guns around so much, join the army, they’ll even pay for the weapon they’ll get to carry

  • boston1952

    They said part of their plan is to simply “raise awareness of responsible gun ownership.” Really? This statement is oxymoronic, the emphasis being on moronic.

    • Josh Ludeke

      @Boston1952, do you not believe in responsible gun ownership? I’ve owned a gun or 5 for the past 10 years and I have never done something irresponsible with them.

  • Justin

    I love the rationalization that people have, when it comes to guns. Honestly its probably not all there fault, however statistically, your safer with those three then you are driving home, or simply around the corner, and no one has a problem with driving? Also statistically you have a better chance of have a kid who is bullied in school, and faculty or staff knowing about it. Also you have a better chance of dying from cancer. Also all this talk just shows how far we have come from what america used to be. We judge situations to quickly, judging a book by its cover if you will, and over react “water drops”. You can’t really expect that everyone with a gun is going to shoot you, do you?
    Also how far would you go to protect something or someone you love? I am sure if you actually were placed in such a situation, you may surprise yourself.

  • Justin

    “normal”? because you know people who carry sidearms aren’t normal. You know whats not normal, thinking guns are actually the problem here. Ok so lets go over this logic, We ‘the united states’ bannes guns, every law abiding citizen turns in their guns. You now have everyone without a gun, right? No. If drugs have taught us anything, its that making something illegal doesn’t mean its impossible to get, Now you go to the movies, because hey you chose it, some guy walks in to said movies with a gun, starts gunning everyone down, Is your reaction somehow different? knowing that right off the bat this guy is gunning everyone down? Will this actually save lives? Police, take 30 minutes to arrive on average, may be longer, maybe its shorter. Welp sorry your stuck with this maniac till the police show up. Also you pass on coming cars all the time, right? how do you know that person is sober? sure you may say of that kills one person, well actually the average car holds six people, so full car, there is the possibility for 12 people right there to be killed, multiply that by multiple times a night per state, multiply that by 51 states, and not accounting for things like holidays when this number rises drastically, or states that have higher duis then a hundred a night, the number your talking about makes school shootings, gang shootings and other shootings look like a water drop, we choose to make a deal out of this because we are not used to that, we are used to people dieing in car crashes. Atlest that’s how it appears, because we don’t take much effort to at lest to pull alcohol of the shelves. Oh but then we would be blaming alcohol, and not the people, but hey people are ok with not taking responsibility for there OWN actions, we shove it off on a inanimate object, treating it like hey that gun pulled its own trigger. Since I am here and we wanted to use the Colorado incident, lets look at fort hood(x2), texas massacre, VT massacre, and sandy hook. It seems the only people to ask why this happened, was the media, and law enforcement. No one else cares why, they just want to pull the tool out of the hands of the people who are responsible, hoping that will fix the problem. How come no one fixes the underlying issue? Its already said every person who pulls this off has some sort of mental illness, why not take the time and money we are using to do something that wont work, and put it towards something that will. Just a thought.

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