"Open-Carry" Gunmen Rile Lake Forest Shoppers

Robert Cowdell

concedes he and his members did stop and consider whether openly displaying handguns in a Lake Forest shopping center was appropriate in light of the recent mass-shooting tragedy in Arizona.

But after a half-second of pause, the answer was obvious: Hell, yes, it's appropriate.

Former OC Weekling Spencer Kornhaber gets the scoop for the new AOL community-news site, Lake Forest Patch.

"We can't just let ourselves be massacred," Cowdell--with a Glock strapped to his hip--told the reporter Sunday afternoon. " We're here to be able to defend ourselves if the need arises."

The scene of the spectacle.

But the spectacle of armed men milling about the Corner Bakery and surrounding Orchard center on El Toro Road was enough to alarm some patrons and bring out Orange County sheriff's deputies, who collected each demonstrator's weapon to ensure each was unloaded.

Cowdell and his cohorts advocate "open-carry" laws that allow a handgun on one's person as long as it is holstered, unloaded, plainly visible and not being carried in a sensitive area like a school or government building.

Of course, as Tucson residents and the rest of the world learned Jan. 8, a busy shopping center can be a sensitive area these days. The Corner Bakery management reportedly gave the green light to the open carriers before they arrived, but in the light of daylight shining off the demonstrators' pieces, the bread makers thought better of it and called the deputies in to break up the affair.

Glock owner Vincent Burke told Kornhaber it's no big whoop, that having average guys and their sidearms blend in with the shopping-center crowd was the whole point of the big reveal.

"I do this to help acclimate law enforcement to the fact that this is legal and acclimate the public that if you see someone walking around with a gun at their hip, they're not always a gangbanger," said Burke, who dressed special for the occasion. "Who can be afraid of someone in a Hawaiian shirt? How threatening can I be?"


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