Category: Operation Open Carry Nerf

OOCN: Walmart Edition

In my continuing effort to look like an idiot, exercise my First Amendment rights, and protect the world from evildoers, I took my Operation Open Carry Nerf show on the road to Walmart.

I'll bet you feel safer already.

I’ll bet you feel safer already.

This visit was difficult for several reasons: 1. I don’t like to shop at Walmart. I do my shopping at local stores as much as possible because then I can write self-righteous sentences like, “I don’t shop at Walmart.”  2. Walmart’s corporate policy (according to the gun nut websites I checked) is unclear. A letter from Walmart Customer Service has been widely circulated on these paranoid-end times-I live in a hole in my backyard-gun nut sites claiming that Walmart will follow local laws but does not want Open Carry to take place in their stores. 3. A majority of the voting age members of my family would like me to stop my stupid Open Carry project before they have to identify my body at the local morgue. 4. It’s Walmart, no one will notice that you are wearing a bright orange shirt that says, “Open Carry Nerf” and carrying a large Nerf gun.

Why did I then decide to go to Walmart? Well, at our local Walmart their corporate policy is not being followed. (In other words, people are open carrying in the store and nobody is stopping them.) It could be that the people who are Open Carrying are doing so discretely enough not to be noticed, or it could be that no one has complained. This is where a normal adult would simply talk to a manager and say, “I have seen people openly carrying guns like they are Wyatt Earp in you store. Isn’t that against your policy?”

Instead of acting like an adult, I got out my trusty Nerf gun, put on my bright orange shirt, and went to Walmart to buy some toothpaste.

Walmart's usually crowded aisles were not blocked for me.

Walmart’s usually crowded aisles were not blocked for me.

One of the most annoying things about Walmart is the layout of their stores. I am certain that Walmart has purposefully studied and placed the automotive section as far away from men’s socks in the hopes that you will pick up ten things while walking between getting an oil filter and $3 package of 50 tube socks. The stores are designed more like a maze than a logical, organized collection of goods for sale.  Everything is purposefully placed to get you to impulsively buy something you don’t really need, so I knew that my walk to the toothpaste aisle would be lined with temptation. The good news was that nobody got in may way, the bad new is that I passed up the opportunity to own a BluRay collection the three Matrix movies for $5.

After a quick stop at the RedBox machine to pick up a couple movies for my assistant, I was off to find the toothpaste.

The Walmart employee is probably thinking, "At least he has on pants."

The Walmart employee is probably thinking, “At least he’s not wearing yoga pants.”

The toothpaste was a long walk from the entrance, but I managed without jumping into one of those electric scooters that every third person rides into Walmart. Why are there so many scooters in Walmart? Is it that 80% of the parking is for handicapped people? Is it because the parking lots are designed to make you walk so far that the average Walmart shopper is exhausted by the time they reach the entrance? Or, does Walmart hire people to drive the scooters around to block aisles and force people to pick up the three Matrix movies on VHS for $2? It didn’t matter to me because nobody got in my way. I had one lady do a double take, but other than that it seemed that walking through Walmart carrying a large Nerf gun was an expected behavior.

I found the toothpaste. Remember when toothpaste decisions were Colgate or Crest? These days it’s like ordering a drink at Starbucks. Whitening? Sensitive? Gum building? Multi-surface? High gloss? Mint? Pacific Northwest flavor?  Fine Grain? There was an entire aisle of nothing but toothpaste. This is when a man with a gun could be forced to make a rash decision and do something he would later regret, but I found the toothpaste with the most stuff on the label and decided live la vida loca and just get it.

Getting the multipurpose, fluoride infused, fine grain, fresh breath flavored toothpaste.

Getting the multipurpose, fluoride infused, fine grain, fresh breath flavored toothpaste.

I could have gone through the self-check out, but since I am a jerk and desperately seeking attention, I went to the longest line I could find. The lady who was in front of me turned around to see who I was and I got the response I was hoping for: she saw me, saw my shirt, saw my Nerf gun, and then turned her back on me trying to make me disappear. It reminded me of those nights when I was a kid when I would wake up from a nightmare certain that a space alien was in my room ready to pounce on me if I moved. She finished her purchase and scooted away from me as quickly as she could leaving me with a checker who refused to look at me.

Sending my hard earned money off to Arkansas where it will be used to destroy America.

Sending my hard earned money off to Arkansas where it will be used to destroy America.

I don’t blame the checker for not looking at me. When I see crazy people I don’t look at them either. It is uncomfortable to see someone carrying a Nerf gun in a store because they have absolutely lost touch with reality. It is an action full of sound and fury signifying nothing. The only thing crazier would be carrying a real gun in a store full of people who you don’t know.



s to

OOCN: Protecting Costco


Using my First Amendment to look like an idiot in public.

“And so it begins.” Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings. 

Today I launched my movement of one: Operation Open Carry Nerf. What is OOCN? It is me, a bright orange T-shirt, and my loyal Nerf gun protecting the community from evil doers. You can see my Not so FAQs if you are interested in the philosophy behind this movement of one, but since you probably ended up here by accident, I will get to today’s action.

My first visit was to Costco. Why Costco? Because I have seen other gentlemen Open Carrying there and since those guys thought it must be a dangerous location, I decided to do my part to regulate.

I prepared for today’s visit by getting into my superhero costume and grabbing my Nerf gun. If I was going to pick up those needed cherry tomatoes then I wanted to be safe in the process.

I parked far enough away so that people would not become alarmed when they saw a tall dork in a bright orange shirt approaching with a Nerf gun and a bandolier holding extra Nerf arrows.

I come in peace. I not only come in peace, I am bringing the peace with me by bringing a weapon.

I come in peace. I not only come in peace, I am bringing the peace with me by carrying a weapon.

When I arrived at the entrance it was already clear that people felt safe around me. Most people looked at me and then made an effort to make sure that I was unable to make eye contact with them. I will admit, I felt powerful and intimidating as people scurried away from me. I guess they didn’t know that I was there to protect them. I can understand their reaction, when I see a strange person with a gun my initial reaction is to flee, but once they saw that I was there to protect them (and they were out of range of my Nerf gun) they went about their business.

I showed my membership card to the employee standing by the entryway and was asked, “What is that?”

I told the truth, I’m not here to hide anything, “It is my Nerf gun,” I said as I strolled into the vast warehouse pushing my shopping cart. One of the first rules of OOCN is that you must act like what you are doing is perfectly normal. Am I carrying a child’s toy while wearing an orange T-shirt that reads Open Carry Nerf? Yes, and what is wrong with that? It’s not like I am doing something really crazy like carrying a loaded weapon in a store to buy bulk Cheerios.

Rule #2: Act like you own the place.

Rule #2: Act like you own the place.

I helped my assistant/photographer pick out a nice pair of black pants from the piles and noticed that this trip to Costco was different than most of my visits. I was able to navigate the aisles without anyone getting in my way. Usually I have to wait for other shoppers to get out of the way. This time no one blocked the aisles with their cart while stuffing samples of Kirkland Honey Mustard dressing and deep fried dinosaur shaped chicken chunks in their mouths. I was beginning to understand why someone would want to carry a gun with them wherever they go; it saves time.

I picked up the remaining items and started to feel a little paranoid. Everyone avoided me. I was alone in an indifferent universe.* Employees would see me and then scoot away. Was this their normal behavior, or was it because they saw my Nerf gun? Did having a powerful weapon make me see the world differently? Was I drunk with power? Would someone try to stop me?  I began wondering if the management was going to be waiting for me by the cash registers so they could revoke my membership on some shaky grounds like insanity. Did Costco have a mirrored room where they took shop-lifters and crazy people? (I doubt it because there is no way you can fit anything Costco-sized in your pants to shop-lift, and the one time I saw someone arrested in Costco it was done under the fluorescent glow of the overhead lamps.)

Doing the two things that keep America running: Buying stuff and carrying a gun.

Doing the two things that keep America running: Buying stuff and carrying a gun.

I approached the check-out station and unloaded my cart. The workers were friendly, but they did not give me eye-contact or ask if I found everything I was looking for. In other words, I think they just wanted me to go away fast. I paid and made my way out of the store. At Costco you must hand your receipt to someone as you exit so they can see if you have all of your stuff and to see if you are try to steal something. The employee at the door took my receipt and then asked, “What is that?”

“It is my Nerf gun. I carry it for protection.”

“You big baby,” the employee said after handing me my receipt.

I wasn’t sure how to take the “big baby” comment. Was it a comment indicating that I needed a real gun to get any respect in Costco? Or, was it a comment about people carrying guns in general? I guess it doesn’t matter because Costco was safe for the time being and I had done my part.

I left Costco feeling like I had done something…something absurd, something moronic, something that made me the center of attention, something slightly insane, something like carrying a real gun in public.




*Sentence paraphrased from The Stranger, by Albert Camus.




1. What’s your problem?

I knew you would ask that. My problem (it is probably more like problems) is that people in my community are carrying guns openly like they live in the Wild West.

2. Haven’t you heard of the Second Amendment?

I have.

3. You know you look stupid?

That’s the point.

4. Are you trying to help Obama get my guns?

No. I don’t want your guns, but I do want people to think about why they feel the need to carry a gun openly in public. There was a time in my life when I would have taken your guns and put them in a big sinkhole in Florida and covered them with concrete, but my thinking has evolved on this matter and now I just want people to keep their guns at home.

5. Is there a reason your thinking has evolved?

Yes, people are more paranoid than ever and you can’t reason with a paranoid person. I still want to take everyone’s guns and drop them in a big hole in Florida, but I realize I am wasting my time talking to gun nuts about their need for guns.

6. Did you just call me a gun nut?

Maybe, I believe there are two types of gun owners: Gun nuts, and people who own guns. The difference between a gun nut and a gun owner is that a gun nut wants an arsenal of AK-47s and long-range sniper rifles. Gun nuts also do the Open Carry thing. Gun owners might own guns for hunting and a hand gun because they think zombies are going to attack.

7. What if a bad man with a gun tried to shoot you, then wouldn’t you want a gun or somebody with a gun to protect you?

No, in the highly unlikely event that someone starts shooting at me I will run like the big Pinko-Liberal-Pansy-ChickenLivered-GirlyBoy that I am. If I get shot then I guess I get shot. I would prefer to live in a world where nobody has a gun. Guns do not make people safer.

8. If you don’t like it here then you can leave.

That’s not a question. I do like a lot of things about the United States, but I also feel like I am trapped in an abusive relationship.

9. When did you come up with the idea of  carrying a big Nerf gun around?

I don’t know the exact moment when my idea turned from idea to action, but I think it was when my daughter came home from her summer job and said that a guy was doing his Open Carry thing in her workplace. It scared her to have someone she did not know pretending to be Barney Fife with his gun on his hip. It also made me think about who we would allow to carry a gun openly in our society. To me the Open Carry movement is just another example of how militarized our culture is and how there is an underlying racism that we continually fail to acknowledge.

10. Hold on a moment, how is this a racist movement?

How long would this movement last if groups of young black men started walking through malls with big guns? What if a group of men from Saudi Arabia started walking around Walmart with AK-47s? How long do you think it would take before people called the SWAT team to surround and disarm those groups? That is how the movement is racist.

11. You didn’t explain the militarized culture thing, are you planning on defending that statement?

Fear is the world’s great motivator. Fear is what is driving this Open Carry movement and fear is what causes the United States to spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined. Fear doesn’t solve problems, it creates problems. Fear causes us to spend money on weapons that will only cause us to need more weapons. Here is a math problem for you: If a bomb costs 1 million dollars and the United States drops 50 bombs a day on a smaller country, how long will it take for the United States to spend a billion dollars on bombs? Put away your calculator. It is a trick question. It doesn’t matter how long because in the United States the only thing we have an endless supply of money for is bombs.

12. How long do you plan on doing this stupid thing?

I don’t know.

13. Aren’t you worried that someone will want to hurt you?

There is that possibility, but sometimes people need to stand up for what they believe in, and I believe in exercising my First Amendment to make a point.

14. And…that point is?

I can look like an idiot in public just like the real Open Carry guys.

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