A new event came across my desk this week. Down in Spanish Fork they are planning the first ever "Run4Guns Open Carry" run this September. The event has a 0.5 mile "Armed Dash" for those who aren't up for the full event. The main event is the 3.1 mile Open Carry run. The event is planned as a demonstration of support for our Second Amendment rights, which, despite Congress's inability to enact even the most watered-down gun safety legislation, are rumored to be under attack. There are sinister forces at work who would record all our phone calls, copy all of our emails into a huge database in Bluffdale, and ultimately seize our guns. It all sounds like paranoid delusions, except the stuff about the Stasi being alive and well and living in Bluffdale.
Anyway, the Run4Guns event is a chance to stand up against all that. As their press release says, the "Open Carry run is more than just a race. It's a way of thinking." We get a little insight into their way of thinking by the description of the race itself as a 3.1 mile course. Throughout the world of running, that would be called a 5k course. But this event is sponsored by real Americans who don't do no metric stuff.
They have a website run4guns.com with additional information on the event. It's early, and the site is still under construction. There was nothing available at the event store, for example. The video piece was mostly a Powerpoint presentation that ends with the background being shot full of holes. There was a section of FAQ that didn't answer the most frequent question, which was, "What??"
My other question was whether the race would begin with an official firing a starting pistol, and if so, is it appropriate to return fire?
So you have a couple of hundred well-armed people running through the streets of Spanish Fork, many of them perhaps not in marathon shape (walkers are encouraged by the promoters). The event sponsors are familiar with guns, and have thought of everything. Participants are encouraged to run with their weapons carried openly, which is their right. The website says, "We encourage you to wear multiple firearms." The weapons are supposed to be unloaded for the event. "Unloaded" is a more complicated concept than the casual observer might think. A gun can have bullets in it and still be "unloaded" for purposes of the open carry law. The race rules state: "Official Race Policy - If the trigger is not covered by a holster the firearm cannot have ammo in the chamber or in the attached magazine. All firearms which are not holstered must be checked in and will be zip tied. This is a matter of safety, and there are no exceptions." So if the trigger is covered by the holster, it's perfectly OK to have a cartridge in the chamber? What could possibly go wrong?
I would not want to be in charge of buying insurance for this event.
One of the reasons for the Run4Guns event is to push back against the assault on gun rights. There was that unreasonable proposal (supported by 90% of the population) that would have required background checks for gun purchases. The gun rights folks went nuts over that. They weren't about to sit still for any regulation that required a minimal background check that might prevent the sale of guns to people on the terrorist watch list, for example. So I find it a little ironic that in order to participate in the Open Carry run, you will have to submit to a background check. The official race rules state that "Every participant who plans to Open Carry must show ID with a photo and their Date of Birth (DOB). If you do not have an ID that shows both bring multiple forms of ID. If you do not have ID you cannot Open Carry, but you can still run/walk."
We can all rest better knowing that our Second Amendment rights are being defended in Spanish Fork, albeit with a questionable background check required before participating in the Open Carry or Armed Dash.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.