I own guns.
Guns. Plural. More than one.
Shotguns. Rifles. Handguns. I got ‘em.
When someone broke into my house in the middle of the night — for the second time in as many days — I grabbed a gun. Twelve-gauge. Good spread. Little need to aim. Works great in the dark.
So to say I’m anti-gun is a fallacy. I got no beef with owning a gun to protect yourself, your family and your property. It’s a dangerous world and there are people who would do you harm. Having a gun in the home is a comfort to me, and I’ve emerged from my bedroom with a firearm in hand more than once.
It has, however, never occurred to me to take one to Target. Or church. Or out to eat.
This is because I’m secure in my own person. I don’t worry that I’m likely to be a victim of a violent crime. I know the crime statistics for where I live, I know the odds, and I feel safe when I’m out and about, even sans sidearm.
I also don’t think my wife requires a gun to go out, and she’s never expressed any interest in having one. She’s not even real happy about the ones we have, though I think she’s accepted them as something of a necessity (aside from intruders, we live on the edge of some acres of woods, and wildlife is also a concern).
But then, we’re not emotional children, either. And this is what I have to assume those who cannot leave the house without a gun on them must be: insecure, scared and untrusting.
The fact that someone is so imbalanced that they can’t leave home unarmed makes that individual exactly the type, in my way of reasoning, who shouldn’t have a gun.
A philosopher from the University of North Dakota, Jack Russell Weinstein, posited the following observation:
“They believe their minds are transparent. But this is because they are all extreme narcissists. It baffles them that we don’t all know exactly what they are thinking. It shocks them that we don’t know that Jim is a good guy, and that Sally would never murder anyone. But they are wrong. We don’t know them and we don’t know how they think. The only thing that makes us notice them at all is that they have guns and truthfully, that’s why they carry them in the first place. They want to be celebrities, heroes, and the centers of attention.”
Let’s propose the one event that gun-packing narcissists live for: an active shooter. Someone strolls into a shopping mall — hey, it’s happened, again and again — and begins randomly firing into a crowd. A shopper in Sears (because Sears seems like the kind of place a gun nut would shop) hears the shots, draws that gun on his hip and charges toward the echoing pop-pop-pop.
What is he likely to encounter en route to the shooting? Potentially, someone else with a gun with the same designs as Shooter A: he’s going to save the day. Since Shooter A and Shooter B are both searching for someone with a gun, what is the likely response when their paths cross? Well, more pop-pop-pops, most likely, from two shooters who are excited about firing at each other and whose accuracy, in their excitement, is probably a little off. So, now we’ve got three people shooting in a crowded shopping mall.
Enter another element in our scenario: law enforcement. After the Columbine High School shooting, law officers changed their training in response to mass shootings. They don’t set up a perimeter and wait for backup anymore, because studies have shown that more lives are saved if they’re able to interrupt the shooter. So, now the first officers on the scene are grabbing their shotguns and running in. And what are they looking for?
Well, some asshole with a gun, first and foremost. Like Shooter A and Shooter B. More pop-pops.
The idea of taking guns into restaurants and stores was initially repulsive even to the National Rifle Association, who tried to convince supporters that doing so was “weird.” But the NRA then retracted that position when supporters began to criticize them for not being hardcore enough, and has since broadly expanded its support for “open carry.”
In a recent post on the Philosophy Questions Every Day blog, Professor Weinstein postulated a proposal in responding to people who openly carry in public: leave.
If at a restaurant, stand, turn, and walk toward the door. Do not pay, as this will only slow you down. Epistemologically, you cannot know if the armed individual who has entered wishes you harm or not, nor can you be sure that, should he or she begin shooting for whatever reason, you won’t be caught in the crossfire.
Indeed, the likelihood that two open carry activists might run afoul of each other is high, since all are secure in the responsibility of their own actions and suspicious of everyone else’s. That very thing happened earlier this year in Valdosta, Ga. Indeed, because of the proliferation of “stand your ground” laws, someone openly carrying a firearm can consider himself or herself justified in opening fire even if they simply feel threatened. And since we can’t know for sure what other people external from ourselves are thinking, we can’t know what might frighten them enough to begin shooting.
In dealing with someone who comes into a public place carrying a gun, says Professor Weinstein…
“My proposal is as follows: we should all leave. Immediately. Leave the food on the table in the restaurant. Leave the groceries in the cart, in the aisle. Stop talking or engaging in the exchange. Just leave, unceremoniously, and fast.
“But here is the key part: don’t pay. Stopping to pay in the presence of a person with a gun means risking your and your loved ones’ lives; money shouldn’t trump this. It doesn’t matter if you ate the meal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just received food from the deli counter that can’t be resold. It doesn’t matter if you just got a haircut. Leave. If the business loses money, so be it. They can make the activists pay.”
Since you have no way of determining the intent of the individual with the gun, you should leave. Flee. If the establishment wants you to stay and pay for your meal, it is their responsibility to remove either the threat posed by the firearm or the unstable individual who has it.
If at a deli, set down the cold cuts you’ve ordered and walk out. At the grocery store, leave your cart and go. You don’t have to put yourself in danger because of someone else’s insecurity. And perhaps, if this catches on, businesses will begin invoking their right as property owners to forbid patrons from carrying guns inside their establishments and we’ll all be a lot more comfortable.
There is a time and place for firearms. But if you are so juvenile that you must strut around with a gun strapped to your hip all your waking hours (and cradled under your pillow as you sleep), then you’re evidently doing so for the attention it gives you and the pleasure you derive in making other people uncomfortable.
But I’m within my right not to humor you.