Open carry picnic returns to Seymour Lake Park
September 14, 2011 - Only in America can a person spend time in a beautiful public park with a hamburger in one hand, a cold beverage in the other and a pistol on their hip.
If that image sounds appealing, then Oxford resident John Roshek, 31, encourages you to attend the 3rd Annual Open Carry Picnic at Seymour Lake Township Park on Sunday, Sept. 25 beginning at 1 p.m.
"We want to just keep educating people about their Second Amendment rights," said Roshek, who's president of the Citizens League for Self Defense, which is sponsoring the picnic. "It's not something that we want to tell people about once and hope they remember. It's something we want to continually remind people of and work with them to make sure they understand what their rights are."
Those who attend the picnic are invited to openly carry a handgun as is their legal right in this state.
Any Michigan resident who is at least 18 years old and owns a legally registered handgun may openly carry it in a holster, with or without a concealed pistol license (CPL), in all places not explicitly exempt by law.
Despite the legality of open carry, Roshek noted there are still many Michigan residents who are unaware of this right and believe the only way to legally carry a handgun in public is with a CPL.
This picnic is designed to dispel that myth and help educate everyone from responsible gun owners to folks who possess no firearms whatsoever.
Roshek openly carries his handgun most of the time as a means of self-defense, not to make any political statements.
He's always happy to chat with anyone who comes up to him and inquires as to why he's got a holstered firearm on his hip. He views these conversations as opportunities to raise awareness.
Roshek noted picnic attendees are not required to openly carry a handgun. Those who wish to exercise their CPL rights or come unarmed are more than welcome to break bread.
"I would say probably 50 percent of the people at the first picnic weren't even carrying," he said. "They just came to either show their support or find out what it was all about."
Roshek held Oxford's first Open Carry Picnic back in August 2009. The response was huge as approximately 300 people attended.
Despite the fears, concerns and opposition expressed by some local residents in letters to the editor published prior to the first event, Roshek indicated "nothing out of the ordinary" happened at either that picnic or the one that followed last year.
"Not one negative comment" was expressed to Roshek by any of the folks who were visiting the park for other reasons while the picnic was happening.
Just the opposite.
"We had a ton of people coming out thanking us for doing the work that we do," Roshek said. "It was a positive experience."
As always, Roshek is hoping for a large turnout at this year's picnic so he can help educate people about gun rights and motivate folks to protect them.
"We have very few rights that are recognized in this country nowadays," he said. "I think what a lot of people overlook is that the Second Amendment is the (constitutional) right that protects all other rights. Without that, there's nothing left."
Whatever the right, whatever the cause, Roshek encourages people to "stand up for something that you're passionate about and believe in."
"I think that's one thing that is really lacking in the country," he explained. "People might talk about it, but nobody wants to stand up and fight for anything anymore."
The picnic is a potluck affair, so attendees are encouraged, but not required, to bring a dish to pass. No alcoholic beverages are allowed at the park per township ordinance.
"Usually, the picnics go about three hours or so, but people are welcome to stay as long as they want – as long as the park's open," Roshek said. "Come on out and learn something about your Second Amendment rights."
For more information, visit www.citizensleaguesd.com.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.