An eager reader turned our discussion of the relative safety of rural and urban areas to the South Dakota Open Carry march taking place in Sioux Falls this evening. At 5:15 p.m., a group of armed individuals will assemble at Twin Oaks Place on South Minnesota Avenue, march a couple miles up the street to Starbucks (whose manager says gun-toters are as welcome as hipsters to pay too much for coffee), then mosey back, all with pistols on their hips or rifles over their shoulders.

SD Open Carry vice-president Jesse Rierson says the point of this armed stroll is to educate the public as to their right to openly carry firearms in public. "If you don't do it, people are never going to get used to it," he tells KELO. "People are never going to learn their rights."

Pastor Kristi McLaughlin of the Anew United Church of Christ was organizing a counter-protest to show that she'd rather people didn't get used to guns. :

“It’s more of a response to the idea of being comfortable with weapons in public,” she said. “I would like for us to have an alternative image of the society we live in.”

...McLaughlin said she doesn’t want to attack the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, but questions whether society should be comfortable with people carrying guns in the streets.

“I don’t want my grandchild to live in a world where guns on the street are an everyday thing,” she said [Chris Mueller, "Mitchell Pastor Plans Alternative to Sioux Falls Gun Rally," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2013.07.26].

McLaughlin was organizing a counter-protest; after catching some online flak, she decided to cancel her event, saying making her point was "not worth someone getting hurt."

To his credit, SDOC's Rierson says he hopes no one from his group made Pastor McLaughlin feel so threatened and expresses support for the exercise of First Amendment rights alongside Second Amendment rights.

I'm disappointed with Pastor McLaughlin's decision to back off. As a UCC pastor who supports GLBT equality—heck, as a minister of a faith based on the teachings guy who got nailed to cross—McLaughlin should have a thicker skin. She should know that folks talking smack online are mostly blowhards who won't stand up to a face-to-face confrontation.

Yet McLaughlin is correct that attending the Open Carry promenade would increase her risk of getting hurt this evening.

Let's be clear: I do not think any member of South Dakota Open Carry plans to shoot anyone tonight. They are fantasizing about it, hoping they might get the chance to play Lone Ranger on some hapless Saturday night bank robbers. But I am confident that I could walk up to their troop tonight; follow them all the way up and down Minnesota Avenue asking reported attendees Ken Santema, Senator Ernie Otten and Rep. Manny Steele pointed blog questions about the Constitution, the utility of guns in modern society, and their insecure manhood; and not provoke one of those gun-toters to draw, let alone fire.

Consider, though, a counter-rally. I enjoy screwing. I screw regularly, in the house, out in the yard, over helping at the neighbors, even sometimes at school. I have a right to screw in public—responsibly and safely, of course.

To that end, I like walking around town with my electric drill. I walk down the street with my drill, and people say, "Hey! There's a guy who can screw."

But I don't walk around with my drill, not unless there are IKEA curtain rods or a new overhang on Dad's garage or rehearsal cubes to be screwed. Sure, I handle my drill carefully all the time, but I could drop it. If the drill is loaded with a fresh battery, it could hurt somebody. To walk around with a drill just for show strikes me as irresponsible tool use.

We can say the same of tonight's gun show. Yes, we have a right to carry a gun. We can parade up and down Main Street to demonstrate that right. But making a show of our guns increases the risk to those around us with no concrete benefit to those around us.

Related: David Newquist puts the utility of guns in solving real problems in perspective in his take on the gun owners parade.