Gun owners are not a “protected group” under the Constitution, according to a philosophy professor at the University of North Dakota (UND).
Jack Russell Weinstein, who is also the director of the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life at UND, claimed that people uncomfortable with open-carry gun owners should simply leave a business or restaurant where the activists are present—even if that means not paying the tab. He refuted the idea that to actively treat gun owners as if one is afraid of them is discriminatory in nature because gun owners are not “traditionally marginalized” and are not a “protected group.”
“First of all, under the Constitution, we have protected groups and traditionally marginalized people—women in this country, African-Americans in this country, gays and lesbians in this country—if you leave because they’re there and they’re no threat to you, than that’s a problem. Gun owners are not a protected group,” Weinstein said in a video. “The right to carry weapons may be, depending on where you are; the right to bear arms certainly is, but of course the right to bear arms doesn’t mean the right to bear every arm, it doesn’t mean the right to bear all the arms. It only means the rights to bear arms.”
“[G]un rights activists do not have a history of institutional discrimination,” Weinstein continued. “They do not have a history of being denied the right to marry, the right to go to school, being denied the right to vote. They haven’t been slaves. They weren’t subject to the Holocaust. They haven’t been beaten in the streets.”
Weinstein said that he addresses the gun rights debate as a “philosopher asking how to solve an intractable problem.” In the video, he said the gun carry activists—particularly in Texas—want the ability to openly carry guns, “often high-powered automatic weapons,” making other people uneasy and afraid.
“There really is no legitimate way of determining intent,” Weinstein wrote in an earlier blog post. “Even if the people with guns are carrying a sign claiming to be activists (which they do not do), they could be lying, just setting us all up for slaughter.”
Weinstein then encouraged people who are afraid of a gun carrier to simply leave the restaurant—without paying the bill.
“If you’re afraid for your life, you just get up and leave,” he said. “Maybe the restaurant pays the bill themselves, maybe the activists pay the bill.”
Weinstein added that if gun activists “really care about gun rights, they won’t mind paying for the hundreds of meals that they inspired the innocent bystanders to leave behind.”
“Most gun-rights activists describe a world of tremendous dangers,” Weinstein said. “Guns, they repeatedly tell us, are the only thing between home invasion, rape, murder, and government intrusion. Okay, well if that’s true, then we bystanders should be equally afraid, and react instantaneously to keep away the chaos and the violence. We learned to be afraid from the gun-rights supporters. They have gotten everything they wanted.”
According to Weinstein, most people who saw his original blog post presenting this idea, saw it as a “rational, calm, safe” approach.
Recently, gun rights activists in Texas garnered national attention by protesting for open carry by bringing guns into stores and restaurants. Only six states, including Texas, do not permit people to openly display handguns.
North Dakota is a shall-issue state that issues permits both for concealed and open carry.