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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fear and Loathing In Walmart: Handguns In Public Places




"I am persuaded that the world has been tricked into adopting
some false and most pernicious notions about consistency -
and to such a degree that the average man has
turned the rights and wrongs of things entirely around
and is proud to be "consistent," unchanging, immovable, fossilized,
where it should be his humiliation."

--Mark Twain

The very fact that we have to talk about the necessity for toting handguns in 2013 makes me uneasy. I understand in some dangerous circumstances, people absolutely need the protection a gun may provide; however, the frontier philosophy that a gun is an essential item for personal carry -- in stores, in restaurants, in all private and public places -- goes against all my trust in human nature.

I must be in the minority, but I don't worry about needing to use deadly force in my everyday life. In fact, I can't imagine feeling so frightened for my safety and for the safety of my family that I must be "glued" to a gun upon every trip out my front door. To me, having this degree of fear would make life almost unbearable. I cannot imagine living my life in such a conceived "war zone."

I know I would feel "safe" carrying a concealed or open weapon in public. Instead, I would worry about impulsively judging someone as a threat and killing an innocent person. Also, I would fret that someone else -- friend or foe -- would seize my weapon if I drew it and kill me and my loved ones. And, I would anguish about injuring myself or others with an accidental discharge.

Does the fact that I do not carry a gun leave me and my family vulnerable to a deadly attack from an armed assailant? Yes, of course it does. Still, the fact remains that becoming a 21st century gunslinger is not in my DNA. A handgun carried into public places is a device with the express purpose of killing human beings. Drawing it and pulling the trigger are acts with extremely serious consequences. I choose to take my calculated risks and remain unarmed. 

Does this mean I expect a fellow citizen to be the Lone Ranger and come to my defense in the rare case where my life and the lives of my loved ones are threatened by an armed assailant? No. I do think about proactive behaviors and defensive strategies to deploy should a psychopath choose to attack with a weapon. I certainly am not a Ninja or a Navy Seal, but I try to remain cognizant of potential dangers and to avoid undue risks. In normal circumstances, I choose to trust in God and goodness. I pray fear from others never overwhelms me to the point gunpowder is a necessity for leaving my home. I am certain the people in my family all choose to follow this philosophy.

All in all, I am more afraid that an armed, well-meaning person will make a mistake with his weapon than I am that a criminal with a gun will assault me. Why? I know many people carrying handguns in public lack sufficient judgment, do not retain satisfactory gun training, and possess violent, "hair-trigger" natures. I am certain many of these folks have bought into the "blow them away" mentality that encourages them to stand their ground and draw their weapons despite the severity of potential danger.

Have you encountered Walmartians lately who look as if they are lacking a couple of screws? Do you discover angry drivers hugging your bumper as you innocently cruise down the highway? Do you see totally ripped testosterone devotees eager to display their warrior rage? I do, and I often wonder if they may be legally toting a gun and itching for a target. These are the people whom I fear the most -- the righteous but distorted Second Amendment public militia. 

Call me a pussy, a wimp, a liberal, a willing victim, and a traitor. I don't care. I refuse to submit to terror from within: terror from within my own mind and from within my own reference of common sense. I have seen the power of love and the power of violence, and I believe that only trust, love, and education can end death by guns. Even wars in this world are predicated on revenge and blood lust. Future disputes between people and between nations are inevitable, but use of the gun will never solve the problems facing humankind.

The club, the knife, the gun -- all are matter that may be used to destroy a foe. To harbor enough distrust and fear to arm yourself with the most deadly mechanisms to even a deadly threat is a step toward offensive action. A bullet-proof vest, a helmet, some pepper spray, martial arts training, and a stun gun would all be less dangerous alternatives to carrying a gun in public.



Our nation will always be filled with threats from criminals and nuts who can take our lives. This is part of the price we pay for our liberty and freedom. The question is how best to handle danger from within.

America is what we make it. If we choose to live in fear and to continue to fight violence with violence, I'm pretty sure our doting offspring will be more than willing to follow in armed readiness. Is that outcome, in itself, a crime? Do we want to continue to allow the gun to be the symbol and the end to solving threats to our beings? At some point, we must turn the tide of terror and anxiety. I believe that can only happen with a better educated, less violent, more respectful generation.

We citizens can continue to preach stockpiling weapons and toting handguns. Or, we can begin to employ meaningful measures to make everyone more responsible to employ actions other than using weapons, specifically guns. Arming, arming, arming ... where should it stop? Some would say possession should never have limits. They believe bigger guns and bigger bullets will deter violence and crime. I worry about who carries those big guns and big bullets.

You can carry all the lead and full metal jackets you want. Still, you cannot hide behind a gun. Rest assured another person intent on killing you could lay your body down before you ever got off one shot. Is it the fear of attack, the distrust of strangers, the feeling of security, or the macho tendencies of a violent imagination that make someone carry a gun in public?

Rest in peace, John Wayne. The macho need such heroes. But also, rest in peace, Andy Griffith. I know you readers don't live in Mayberry, but I also know you care for your children and grandchildren. Do you intend on raising them to live in the Old West or, even if it's a fantasy, to live in a peaceful, respectful "one horse" town where a deputy keeps his single bullet in his pocket. Call me simple ... I won't blow you away for a conceived insult.



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