Ryan Flohr says he’s carried his CZ Scorpion pistol to the grocery store on multiple occasions, but never had any issue until the last weekend in September, when managers at a Giant grocery ended up calling police after a customer said something. Store managers ended up evacuating the building after Flohr went into a bathroom with the firearm, but after police arrived and spoke with Flohr, customers were allowed to return. Flohr wasn’t arrested or charged with any crime, and now he’s speaking out to the local paper, and says he’ll “never cave.”

“I have nothing to apologize for,” Flohr said. “I’m never going to cave to people who are uneducated about guns. I feel that people need to be more gun aware than gun fearing.”

While I agree with Flohr that non-gun owners need to be more “gun aware” than “gun-fearing”, I’m not sure that walking around a grocery store while open-carrying a Scorpion is really the conversation starter that Flohr thinks it is.

He said he believes that owning and carrying a gun, and showing he has the power to protect himself and others, might deter a mass shooter. He said it was laughable to compare the gun he carried to the weapons that mass shooters seem to prefer.

“You never hear of a mass shooting where the shooter had a pistol,” he said. “Mass shooters come into the store with ‘assault rifles’ and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and bulletproof vests.”

Actually, that’s not the case at all. Active shooters use handguns more frequently than rifles, according to the FBI, so Flohr is wrong about that.

Flohr said his gun is a 9 mm loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition. He said he didn’t have any additional ammunition with him, and the safety was turned on.

“My thing about all the mass shootings around the country, if a gunman came in to shoot up the grocery store, and they saw me, they’d think twice about shopping there,” he said. “Or, maybe I’d become the first target, I don’t know.”

Or maybe you wouldn’t run into a gunman at all. Maybe someone would see you with a gun and think you’re the gunman, and alert store managers, who in turn would call police and evacuate the store. I mean, that’s a possibility too, right?

Responsible gun owners need to band together to help prevent the next mass shooting, he said. He said he fears banning open carry is the start of an unraveling of gun owners’ rights.

“We’re going to be told you can’t open carry, that you can conceal carry only on Wednesdays after 6 p.m., and then we’re going to be told you can’t have guns,” he said. “Our rights will slowly be taken away.”

I’m in complete agreement with Flohr that gun control advocates want to take away our rights. I’d even go so far as to say that this is the best opportunity for gun control advocates to enact a portion of their agenda since the Gun Control Act of 1968. I also agree that gun owners need to band together, not just to prevent the next mass shooting, but to protect our rights to keep and bear arms. That’s not the question. The question is, tactically speaking, what’s the best way to do that?

Flohr undoubtably sees himself as a good guy with a gun, but what do shoppers see when they run into him carrying what looks to them like a big black scary gun in the ice cream aisle? They don’t see a good guy with a gun. They see a guy with a gun. A gun that looks scary to them. As much as gun owners might want that to be a teachable moment, where the shopper walks away thinking “Oh, that guy had a scary-looking gun, but he wasn’t hurting anybody with it”, the reality is most folks are going to walk away thinking “Why the hell would that guy be carrying that gun around the grocery store?”

The gun control advocates Flohr’s fighting against are well-funded and well organized, but they’re also committed to being as effective as possible. If you’ve never read it before, go check out the anti-gun playbook Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging. It will likely infuriate you to see the cold and calculated strategies on how to use the media after a mass shooting, ways to try and divide and conquer gun owners, and other strategies for making the laws and our culture more anti-gun, but unfortunately it’s working. Gun owners need to be strategic as well, and that starts with an honest reckoning of the political and cultural environment that exists today.

I do applaud Flohr for his passion. However, I urge him to start to think tactically about protecting his rights and restoring a culture of lawful gun ownership.Right now we’re living in a ban-happy environment generally, and a moral panic over guns.   Tactical mistakes on our part can lead to eroding the very rights we’re trying to protect. We need more Sun Tzu’s and fewer Leeeeeroy Jenkins’s in order to secure our rights and effectively counter the anti-gun playbook.