(From left) Andrew Bobo, Geoff DeVries, Miles Brandow, and Spencer Brandow eat lunch during the Second Amendment Barbecue in Riverside Park on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Attendees were encouraged to bring their firearms. (Lauren Petracca | MLive.com)
(From left) Andrew Bobo, Geoff DeVries, Miles Brandow, and Spencer Brandow eat lunch during the Second Amendment Barbecue in Riverside Park on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Attendees were encouraged to bring their firearms. (Lauren Petracca | MLive.com)

Gun rights supporters have been taking a beating lately due to the more extreme elements of the open carry movement.

A man suggesting he was trying to “educate” citizens when he entered the New Mexico Capitol carrying a loaded AR-15 and a pistol strapped to his hip has led to bipartisan calls to take away that right from all citizens.

Similar in-your-face displays of (primarily) long guns put Starbucks—which has tried desperately to stay neutral after involuntarily being forced front and center into a controversy they never wanted—into the uncomfortable position of having to ask gun owners to leave their firearms at home, without actually banning them.

Fortunately, there are open carry rights activists that understand that there are better ways to acclimate citizens to seeing firearms without intimidating them. Michigan Open Carry gets it:

Phillip Hofmeister, president of Michigan Open Carry, acknowledged that many see gun owners as being in two groups – the police or a criminal.

“We’re trying to show people there’s a third group, ordinary everyday good people,” he said. “The best way to stop a madman with a gun is another good person with a gun.”

Those in attendance included several families, many with young children.

Dylan Stark, 32, of Grand Rapids brought his kids, ages 8 and 6.

Stark said he has open-carried for several months. His 8-year-old shoots a gun in practice often, but always with direct supervision.

“They know the does and don’ts; they see guns all the time,” Stark said, noting several of his neighbors also have permits to carry. “We’re our own little neighborhood watch.”

Many running by the picnic, located at a far end of Riverside Park, glanced at signs inviting visitors to bring a passing dish and a firearm. Otherwise, they paid little attention.

Michigan Open Carry seems to get it.

Let us hope other open carry groups follow their lead.