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Like Grandma used to say, "There's a time and place for everything."

This week, Celebrating Conservatism marked its one-year anniversary with a Second Amendment themed shindig at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds. The night's highlights included a chili cook-off, live country and western music, an ammunition raffle and speeches by local gun-rights proponent Gary Marbut and Alaska's Second Amendment Task Force frontman Schaeffer Cox.

And just like past meetings, a large number of the group's members openly packed sidearms at the party.

Now, we have no qualms with the Second Amendment. Firearms have long held a special place in American culture. In fact, several Indy staffers are proud gun owners (a total workplace bonus if you're a fan of venison). But in light of this rising "open-carry" fashion statement, we feel it's high time for a little discussion of social etiquette.

Take the stir over President Barack Obama's town hall meetings in August. A handful of conservatives were seen invoking their rights under open-carry laws, presumably under the guise of decrying the anti-gun rights lobby.

Increasing fear about Obama's stance toward the Second Amendment freedoms has proven a powerful recruitment tool for groups on the far right in the past year. Websites like offer vast forums for the exchange of rhetoric, with catchphrases like "A right unexercised is a right lost."

No one is arguing with the right to own a rifle or handgun, only the supposed need to display those weapons in public—and in close proximity to our nation's leader. Such actions are more threat than message, serving no higher purpose than widespread shock and awe. In their brash attempt to be taken seriously, the activists at Obama's town hall meetings shot their beloved open-carry movement in the foot, so to speak.

Openly brandishing a sidearm is downright rude. Guns are made for a single purpose, to kill, and the sight of a 9 millie in public generates not respect or civil discourse but intimidation. Unless Celebrating Conservatism members expect hordes of zombies to crash their hootenanny at the fairgrounds, guns have no place in the chili line.

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