#030–Why would anyone who is NOT a peace officer want to “open carry” a firearm?

January 1st, 2016–I spent the morning and afternoon in Starbucks, looking at everybody who came in the door to see who had a handgun holster. That day, the open-carry law in Texas was in effect, and out of curiosity, I left the house to see it (and work on some research project of mine in theoretical peace).

In weeks previous, my state job was passing e-mails and conducting meetings about what open carry meant for us and the public. The disturbing part is that when we had questions, it was clear they were still making the guidelines and regulations. One highlight was we had a SWAT trainer come in and tell us about the best things to do during mass shooter situations (which made it easily the most useful safety-brief ever on that job).

Some of my co-workers were bummed out because they learned, since they were not peace officers of the state, they were not allowed to open carry on the job.

I admit I was glad of that because most guys I know I’d hesitate to be around if they had a gun on ’em. The most persistent one, clearly daydreaming of his “rig” all the time, was a “John Wayne-wannabe.” He wanted to wear a cowboy hat and have a big pistol on his belt.

I’m not kidding–the guy practically worshiped John Wayne (but thanks to his girth, looked a bit more like a nearsighted Buford T. Justice). In those weeks he asked everyone if they were going to open carry. He was practically giddy at the idea.

I told him flat-out that I had a few reservations about open-carry.

When I saw the picture above, of people with rifles at restaurants or shopping at Walmart, I was annoyed and incredulous as what I was seeing. But I do realize (for most people, anyway) that this is a more extreme form of “open carry” meant mainly for publicity purposes.

I’m sure some did want to strap one of those on anyway. If you feel like you need one of those guns on you when you go to buy Oreo’s at the grocery store, I’m going to be more concerned about what is going through your head, not a potential robber’s or terrorist’s.

(And I’m also not sure how sensible their rig is for their assault weapons if they have to pull them out in a hurry. But I’ve never tried one on and don’t have one of those weapons, so maybe there’s a way to get to it that looks complicated but is super easy. Anyhoo–)

I don’t really like guns, but acknowledge the right to have them and wouldn’t dream of taking them away from everybody (the curse of being identified as liberal in conservative country–the C’s assume that’s what you want most). My dad even bought me my own Beretta he was teaching me to use. That’s our father-daughter bonding time, I guess.

I acknowledge the right to own guns. I don’t have a problem with that, and I definitely don’t have a problem with concealed carry (provided you’ve been trained and done the legal documentation)

One of my former co-workers (who got roped into “J-W-W”‘s conversation) had a very good point about open carry. Sometimes when he had to reach for something at the store (being short) and was carrying, his shirt or jacket would ride up and show his weapon. According to the law, he could be considered in violation of concealed-carry rules, though it was an accident.

Doing the open carry law to prevent getting hassled for things like that I can totally understand. It makes sense, because some men’s shirts or jackets don’t cover well, especially for the more “portly” carriers.

I just can’t imagine about putting a gun belt and handgun on your hip (like J-W-W wanted to do) or even a clip holster without concealing it.

As a person who has never had an unfortunate encounter with the police, I place a good deal of trust in them. But even as a kid, when a cop walked into a public place, the first thing my eyes go to is their belt. If the gun’s holstered, nothing’s going on that requires concern. If the holster’s ever empty, it’s probably because it’s in their hands and some (potentially) crazy shit’s about to go down.

It’s something I’ve always done, even though they were peace officers on duty and supposed to open carry for easy access. My eyes still went to the belt to check where the gun was.

Probably too many episodes of COPS growing up, I dunno.

But it makes me wonder why someone–who is NOT a cop–invites that scrutiny from the public around them, and is okay with potentially becoming a target.

My dad has bought and sold so many guns, as has most of my family. I have a damn good idea how much money is in those guns. Demand for good guns seems consistent and for many people it’s a lot more reliable than investing in gold. With that in mind, since the average handgun can resell for hundreds of dollars in one transaction, why the hell would somebody bother going for your wallet when the gun is right there (and theoretically easier to off-load)? It’s not like somebody’s gonna come for you from a hundred yards away straight on and go for the gun…they’re gonna be sneaky and you run the risk of getting killed by your own prominently displayed weapon.

With conceal carry, a person carrying the gun is less of a target all around. If someone DID want to cause trouble or rob a place, I’m sure they do what I’ve done with cops–look for anybody with a gun. The person open-carrying, if they’re not fast enough, is probably the first one to get taken out just to be on the safe side.

In cases of mass shootings, I always see somebody say ” if more people carried guns anywhere, they could have taken down the shooter.” I worry about once the shooting starts. If the unarmed civilians are just keeping their heads down or trying to escape, and bullets are flying, unless the idiot is ranting and raving about why he’s committing this crime, how are the others supposed to know who is protecting them vs. trying to kill them? And when the cops come on the scene, how are THEY supposed to know who is trying to stop the bad guy and who is the bad guy?

Obviously, these are all “what if’s” and speculation, but these are the questions I have. Concealed carry, I totally get. Open carry–I just don’t get it unless you’re a peace officer on duty.

And as for “J-W-W,” when he realized not everybody was as giddy about open carry as he was, I think he chickened out and decided not to wear his rig around (or at least not boast about it).

Besides, unless you’ve got a low-slung gun belt, suspenders, and a brown coat like a certain awesome Firefly captain, I don’t wanna to see your rig.

Seriously, suspenders and a low-slung belt never looked so good… I’d sail the ‘verse with him any day.

On that January day at Starbucks. I was surprised that I didn’t see a single person come in open-carrying. I guess they all had the same reservations I did about it.

Probably because when I looked around, I noticed other people glancing at new customers’ belt-and-pocket lines, too.

 

***Edited at 10:20 to correct glitches and misspellings kept when internet glitched and post ended up published anyway. Sorry for the confusion***

3 thoughts on “#030–Why would anyone who is NOT a peace officer want to “open carry” a firearm?

  1. Andrew says:

    Some very interesting points to discuss here. Open carry, by it’s very nature, doesn’t make sense to me. To your point, the open carry peeps are the first to be dealt with in any illegal situation, it doesn’t do you any good if you’re taken out before you ever get your gut out and fired. Although holsters are designed for easy extraction and firing, as in it takes me just under 2 seconds to draw, aim and fire 2 shots, the fact that it was there during the time the area was most likely getting cased means that I’m numero uno on the target list.

    Human nature is something that perceives threats in order to make a fight or flight response. An open carry gun, even on a police officer, causes many people to zero in on the gun regardless of who is carrying it. You’re brain is instinctively thinking that its a weapon that can take your life and anything that can take your life requires a fight or flight response if its perceived as a big enough threat. Seeing someone walking through the grocery store while traveling in Oklahoma a few years back didn’t make me feel safe, on the contrary, I felt uneasy. Why did that person think it necessary to have his gun on to go food shopping? I get it to a certain extent, it’s protection, the whole idea of an open-carry firearm is deterrence and the hope, I think, is have it on so you don’t have to ever use it if people are smart. The problem is that crowds of people are actually quite dumb once mob mentality takes over and it only takes one shot fired to trigger that situation.

    When bullets are fired, it doesn’t matter whether it’s friend, foe, or otherwise; we either run for our lives or fight for our lives. We’re a brutal race of people with our own bodies as weapons and having firearms just takes that potential for brutality higher. So many people have pulled the trigger in the midst of a fight response and only later, felt the true impact of taking a life and the regret that comes with it. Ask any war veteran that has seen action or a police officer that’s fired their gun and chances are good they wish they hadn’t. I own a gun, I know how to fire it safely and I keep it stored in as safe a manner as possible. In a situation where someone is in my house, I’ll announce the presence of a loaded weapon before taking any further action because at the end of the day, I don’t ever want to take anyone’s life. A person open carrying says the opposite; that their life is above everyone else that doesn’t.

    Our country needs to seriously consider whether the 2nd amendment is still relevant when there are plenty of countries where not even all the police officers carry guns, let alone the citizens. One thing is for sure though, anyone attacking the United States has one hell of a fighting force to contend with because its more likely a citizen has a firearm than they don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      The “mob mentality” part is the biggest concern I have. Reminds me of the Men in Black line from K: “A Person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” Frankly, I’m all for what I learned from the mass shooter scenario class. You don’t always need a gun to stop somebody: you need brains, the ability to be calm, and strategy…and knowing where the exits are helps, I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. PiedType.com says:

    I agree with every point you’ve made. However, if I see anyone carrying a gun (other than a uniformed police officer), I’m outta there. I see no reason for anyone to be carrying a gun anywhere except on a range or when actively hunting.

    Liked by 1 person

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