It always seems neccesary to preface a “gun rights” issue, with the admission that, yes, you too own a gun, as if only gun owners are credible commentators on guns. So here goes: I own guns, two of ‘em to be exact, a Winchester 30-30 deer rifle and a S&W Chief’s Special 38. But I hasten to add, I own the guns, the guns don’t own me. I make this distinction, because it seems like a lot of gun owners are obsessive-compulsive about their purchasing choices, and you may never, ever learn what kind of a car they drive, their favorite restaurants, TV shows, movies, or books, or what kind of coffee maker gets their jack going in the morning, but by god, they want desperately for you to know that they own guns.
I find this look-at-me-I-own-a-gun attitude a little weird because, if there really is something to the notion that an armed society is a safer society, than you want the “bad guys” to not know who owns and doesn’t own a firearm. The element of surprise is important in that regard, if you catch my meaning.
Where I grew up in Pennsylvania, everybody owned a gun, and when buck, doe, or bear season opened up in the fall, it was a free fire zone. But after a few weeks of traipsing through the woods, high on Ballentyne Ale, blasting away at whatever moved, most everybody made sure the guns went safely back into their cabinets to rest up for the next round of animal slaughter (although skunk, porcupine, ‘coon, and timber rattler season went year ’round, if you really felt that ambitious). Point is, guns were no big deal, not much different than your chainsaw, a pipe wrench, or your wrist watch: a handy tool to have when no other tool would do.
What the hell happened? When did gun ownership become this chest-pounding source of pride and self-identity? At exactly what point in history did the the tribe splinter from guys-who-own-guns into GUYS-WHO-OWN-GUNS-GOD-DAMN-IT!!!
I don’t know the exact statistics, but I believe that most of the 10’s of millions of guns in America are in the hands of mere 10’s of thousands of people. In other words, only a tiny percentage of Americans actually own guns, but there about 5 guns for every man, woman, and child in the country sold annually. Thus the name “gun nut”.
The latest little show-and-tell by the gun nuts revolves around something called “open carry“. This means walking around town, going into restaurants and stores, I suppose even Toys-R-Us, toting un-loaded guns. The point, exactly, you ask? Beats me. According to John Pierce, the founder of the “open carry movement”: “I think the reason is that in many parts of the state, law abiding citizens are completely denied the right to protect themselves and the only option they have is unloaded open carry if they want to exercise the God given right of self-defense.” Make sense now? No? Ok, guess I’m not alone.
So what has been the net result of this “movement”? Well here in San Diego County, where the last buck, doe, and bear hightailed for the national forest several decades ago, a bunch of open-carriers strolled down the boardwalk at Mission Beach brandishing unloaded firearms on a sunny spring afternoon recently (I’m not kidding about that), ultimately provoking a local pol into re-thinking the law. One thing led to another and Whoops! That ol’ law of unintended consequences reared its ugly head again!
But all’s okee-dokey in Gun-nutville. Because if these guys had nothing to bitch about, well….they’d have nothing to bitch about. Then they would lose their reason for living.
But like all causes, sometimes the purists must be forced to deal with those for whom guns are a part of, but not the center of their universe. In Keene, NH, recently, an “open breast” fanatic decided to exercise her god-given rights as only she knew how.