ATLANTA, GEORGIA — A series of videos have made their way onto YouTube depicting an open carrier by the name of Jim Cooley walking onto the premises of Hartfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. These videos have stirred up quite a bit of controversy as the man is confronted by police as he makes his way through the unrestricted areas of the airport.
One such video can be seen below:
Cooley is trying to make a point many open carriers have made and continue to make: he is legally authorized to openly carry his weapons into any place not specifically prohibited by Federal and Georgia (state) law.
It’s reminiscent of recent open carry marches held in St. Louis, Missouri.
But, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And on the 15th of June, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia, 4th District) put forth a proposal for legislation that would make firearms prohibited except by specifically listed authorized agents.
“Our nation’s airports are economic and cultural engines that drive our local and state economies. They are the front door for many of our communities. Unfortunately, they are also a known target for those seeking to incite fear.
Two weeks ago a man entered the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta, Georgia, carry an AR-15 automatic weapon with an extended capacity 100 round magazine.
He did so only to make a point and that was to show that he was legally able to carry his firearm in the airport.
Mister Speaker, actions like this, which follow shootings in airports in Los Angeles and Houston, undermine public security in the same way as yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.
Today, I will introduce legislation to prohibit the carrying of loaded weapons in our nation’s airport.
The Airport Security Act is a common sense bill and I urge my colleagues to join me in keeping the traveling public safe…”
Rep. Hank Johnson, June 15, 2015, House of Representatives (C-SPAN)
Rep. Hank Johnson gives an eloquent speech in front of the House of Representatives where he depicts Cooley’s actions as an attempt to instill fear into visitors – many of whom are not from the United States and are uncomfortable with seeing a lone, armed man with a high capacity semi-automatic weapon standing in the terminal.
More importantly, he is using the actions of Cooley to drive legislation that will prohibit any such future act. And he has all the ammunition in the world to do it – courtesy of Cooley.
Are Open Carry Activists Ruining It For The Rest Of Us?!
Concealed carry is about being armed in public without being a distraction. There is no lack of bad press for violent offenders and it’s hard to keep the public informed about how concealed carriers actually help make public places safer. In the midst of this is, of course, is the push to keep the public informed about their rights as law-abiding citizens.
Open carry activists – like Jim Cooley and others – seem to be giving anti-gun legislators all the ammunition they need to make things harder. And that’s precisely what we don’t need.
There shouldn’t be a pro-gun/anti-gun debate in the first place! A well armed, well trained populace is more apt to respond to criminal behavior than a poorly armed, poorly trained one. But those two aspects – training and firearms – have to go hand-in-hand.
Jim Cooley and others seek to make a spectacle in asserting their rights. And that is their right – for as long as those rights exist. It’s also important to realize that public perception may not always be in favor of such displays. And when it could lead to stricter laws that seek to strip away the ability for a citizen to protect himself, his family, and his property – we truly have to ask, “is it worth it?”