Gun Movement Encourages Display Of Weapons The new message of some gun supporters: keep it out in the open.

Gun Movement Encourages Display Of Weapons

Gun Movement Encourages Display Of Weapons

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Americans have carried guns in open holsters since frontier days. This revolver dates back to the 1870s. Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

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Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images

For years, gun advocates have fought for laws that would allow gun owners to lawfully carry concealed weapons.

Now, some gun supporters are joining in a new movement whose followers make a point of openly displaying their pistols in public, on their hips.

John Pierce, one of the leaders of the so-called "open carry" movement, likens it to the gay rights movement. "One of the reasons we make that comparison," he says, "is that open carry is really gun ownership coming out of the closet."

Keeping guns out of sight hurts gun owners, Pierce says. He doesn't want to be confrontational, but he thinks that the obvious presence of guns would help to make people more comfortable about guns and their owners.

If more people saw normal, law-abiding people carrying guns, Pierce says, public attitudes towards guns would change. "We've allowed this social stigma of guns somehow being unwholesome to be perpetuated," he says. "People tend to treat them as something that has to be kept out of sight."

If gun owners "made it very clear to their friends, to their neighbors and people that they meet every day that gun ownership is a wholesome and responsible activity," says Pierce, "we would see many of the negative stereotypes go away."