Understanding the 'Guy With the Gun'

"By open carrying, we're forcing people to confront the object of their prejudice," he said. "It's just like when gay and lesbian couple express affection in public -- it forces people to realize their friends, their neighbors, their relatives, their loves ones are in fact people who might live differently than they do but they're no less good people and they're no less good citizens."

"We never knew what this was going to turn into," Stollenwerk said. "We were just two guys following Virginia law, open carrying, and the next thing we know it's a movement."

The movement includes Levine. Along with his holstered pistol, the 48-year-old carries a small card with him detailing information on Virginians' open carry rights. He'll gladly pass it to anyone who questions his open carry decision -- not that he has to.

Levine, who lives in Potomac Falls, Va., says people ask him about his gun about once a week, and the questions are almost never negative. Often, he says, they're just interested in firearms training -- though Levine works in telecommunications by day, he's also a firearms instructor certified by the National Rifle Association.

Levine's 12-year-old daughter Brooke has been trained to use her own gun, a .22LR Caliber pistol. When the pair are together and someone asks her father why he's packing, Levine says Brooke has a ready answer: In a takeoff of a Mastercard commercial, Brooke points to the gun and says "$1,000" and then points to herself and says "priceless" -- a suggestion that the pretty penny Levine had to spend to buy the gun was worth it to protect his invaluable daughter.

Protecting himself and his family is why he carries a gun, Levine said. He has a concealed handgun permit that would allow him to be more discrete with his gun if he wanted to, but Levine says he often prefers to open carry because it's more comfortable and he has easier access to his gun if he needs it.

He hasn't needed it yet, he added.

"I hope I never do," he said.

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