Someone posed an interesting question on Quora the other day. “Why do so many people get nervous when they see a gun owner open carry?” Before you jump on that person for posing a stupid question, please understand that on Quora (if you’ve never used it), people often pose questions like that in order to start a discussion, so there’s no reason to assume he or she actually believes gun owners shouldn’t open carry.
That said, being originally from small-town Texas (and currently living in the DFW Metroplex), I have some strong opinions on guns and gun ownership.
The Second Amendment — the right to bear arms
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I’ll skip the back and forth of what everyone thinks that means, since you’ve all heard it before, except to note that this only applies to the federal government’s opinion of the reason for the need and leaves out that a militia isn’t the only reason people feel they need guns. And I think most people’s objection to them has more to do with some of the open carry nonsense that’s gone on recently (which also makes them nervous about concealed carry).
In defense of carry laws
People who want total open/concealed carry bans do so because guns are dangerous, and they believe, ergo, the people who carry them are as well. But guns aren’t used solely for malicious purposes. I can’t speak for the rest of the U.S., but part of the reason we have carry laws in Texas is that we have vast swatches of land that are in rural areas. It’s not that they’re entirely unsettled, it’s that there is less separation between settled areas and wild areas than one might find in, say, New York City (unless those sewer alligators are real).
When I was a kid, there were several times we found snakes not just outside but in our house as well (and while those were usually bull snakes, keep in mind we do have a large population of deadly rattlesnakes and copperheads, too). And, of course, you’d have the occasional “critter” in the backyard (i.e., possums, skunks), which while not inherently dangerous, can carry rabies.
Further out of town, there’s also the danger of much larger animals: mountain lions, coyotes (and if people in South Texas are to be believed, chupacabras). Carry bans would technically prevent people in areas like this from being able to carry weapons for personal protection. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere and see a mountain lion, I got news for ya. You’d better be armed because the fastest man alive only tops out under 30 mph — a cougar goes 40 to 50.
And I may live in the big city now, but there’s still a population of coyotes living essentially around the corner from me and other people I know.
A large city in Georgia recently dealt with the terror of extremely dangerous escaped zoo animals (due to flooding). The police and animal control were handling it, but you can only stay indoors for so long before you have to go out for food (and if you think a gorilla can’t get in your house, I have some bad news for you). And if you do come across one, I’d recommend being armed with more than just a smartphone.
There’s nowhere that you’re perfectly safe from nature.
The problem with open/concealed carry laws
To someone like me, it seems like a bunch of A-hole-rhinestone-cowboy-badass-wannabes apparently think a mountain lion’s going to pop into Starbucks for a spiced latte. I guess it’s possible. I just question whether someone with little enough sense to carry a semi-automatic weapon around children can make a shot like that. It’s not the same thing as shooting at soda cans or dudes made of paper. The good news is that while he’s distracting it, the rest of us can get away (if he doesn’t shoot us on our way out the door).
If you carry a weapon into a store in which you can reasonably expect that you’ll be safe, the only point you’re making to people from places where carrying a gun is sometimes necessary is that you’re one of those people who shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun — like, not even own one — never touch one — at all.
What about people, you say? If the worst does happen, all having a gun will do is make the bad guy shoot at you, confuse the police and potentially land you in a body bag. Having a gun puts a target on your back. If a lot of gun stores have rules regarding open carry, that should be your first clue that it isn’t a bright idea in other stores.
Which brings me to my point. The issue with carry laws here in Texas isn’t that it isn’t necessary because it absolutely is. It’s intended to allow people who may be in potentially dangerous situations the capability to appropriately defend themselves.
The issue is an abuse of the law. Carrying a gun to make a point about your right to carry a gun proves your grasp of gun safety and social appropriateness probably isn’t high enough to be carrying a gun at all (ah, the irony).
These nut jobs from the NRA trying to get open carry on school campuses should have their guns taken away. So you want to arm boys on school campuses who are already raping women? What a baller idea! (Moron.) Sure, the girls could also carry guns, but do they want to? Should they have to? Pepper spray works pretty damn well too… so long as he isn’t armed.
This is gun safety 101, people. You’re more likely to get shot or shoot someone accidentally if you’re carrying a gun. Only carry it when you need it, not when you’re in a place with adequate, speedy and well-trained animal control and police services.
It makes people nervous because not only is it possible you’re a criminal or a psycho (and we can’t tell the difference just by looking), what’s more likely is that if you lack the sense required not to carry a gun in a situation that’s inappropriate in the first place, I question whether you know to keep your safety on, not put your finger on or near your trigger unless you’re preparing to fire and not to point it at people (even if the safety is on). Have you ever fired it before? (Seriously, that happens.) Do you have any kind of gun safety training?
Honestly, I would be less nervous if I were back home and saw something like that because I have more ability to take it for granted that the individual was raised understanding gun safety (and if I still lived there, let’s face it, I’d probably know the person). Of course, where I’m from, someone going hunting would have the common freaking sense to leave his or her gun in the truck’s gun safe before stopping for a coffee. But in the city, I’m just not as confident.
And common sense is what it’s about. Common-sense gun control and socially appropriate adherence to the spirit of both open and concealed carry laws are exactly what’s necessary to protect our Second Amendment rights. Because if things get out of control, they’re gonna take your toys away because you clearly think a gun is a toy if you’re bringing it into Starbucks.
More on gun control
Man plans to openly carry a gun into the ‘no guns allowed’ Saint Louis Zoo
Vince Vaughn’s recent gun control comments have caused an internet debate
Police say mom shot the TV instead of turning it off because Primus sucks