Monday, September 29, 2014

Maybe It's Just Me

I only saw it from the other side. When I wrote about seeing a holstered handgun at breakfast, all my questions were directed at him.  Was the world such a frightening place to him?  Were the eggs looking back in a threatening manner?  Was he fueling up for robbing the cashier instead of paying his check? 

I never looked inside myself.  I assumed that I was right.  I couldn't understand how anyone could see the situation in any other way.  That's never a promising way to begin a conversation, but I wasn't trying to have a conversation.  My way or the highway, buster, and don't look back. 

Then Brenda Starr wrote about our breakfast in her weekly newspaper column.  She expressed the same outrage and dismay you found in The Burrow. She has a much broader readership than I; we both have a few frequent commenters who keep us on our toes.  There were some pieces of an ongoing conversation about the right to bear arms in Southern Arizona which sent me en pointe right away.  I wasn't prepared to be surprised.  I wasn't ready to hear a reasoned argument for bringing your weapon into a coffee shop. I couldn't imagine that such an argument existed.

I was wrong.  A responsible sounding gun owner said that he could never forgive himself if he left his weapon at home and found himself in a situation where that weapon could save his family. He could never survive the guilt, knowing he had the means to protect them, but had chosen not to carry it.  That hit me right in in the heart.  I spend some part of almost every day wondering what if.  I don't dwell on it, and some days it's not part of the equation at all, but I wonder if I had been armed and trained and carrying if I would have been more alert.  I was standing behind the shooter.  If I had been paying attention.... and surely I would have been paying attention because I was carrying a loaded weapon in a public place.... then....

I let that percolate for a day or two.  He'd opened my eyes to another perspective, one I had never imagined I'd find.  I got it.  He seemed like a good guy (ok, here's the link to the Ray Rice post), a sane person, one who wondered why, if I felt that way about seeing guns on the streets, why in the world had I moved to Tucson?

And so I thought back to why we moved here.  The Wild West was a big part of it.  I loved Gabby Giffords' re-election ads, with her cowgirl hat, jeans and boots, walking the scrub with mustachioed sheriffs with big belt buckles and bigger hats and even bigger guns.  It is wild country; I have peccaries strolling through my front yard. 
These are not cuddly beasts.  They eat spiny cacti for breakfast.

Weaponry is not an altogether inappropriate response.
So why did it seem completely acceptable to me in 2006?  Why was I more willing to adapt to different mores then than now?  The commenter was right; the guns were here before I was.  Who am I to step in and tell him what to do?  His family has been here for generations.
He was right.  I was wrong.  And then I saw the solution. We completely agree with one another.  We just don't know it.
We both think that it is permissible for well-educated, well-trained adults to carry firearms.  He was not packing an Uzi, so I assume that his handgun carries sufficient fire power to calm his fears.  Given that he is responsible and not looking for trouble and living in Arizona, and that he's not a stalker or a domestic abuser or...... that's where I think there is overlap.  I can't imagine that a responsible, well-trained, not looking for trouble citizen of the Copper State wouldn't want to assume that everyone else who is carrying a weapon into the coffee shop meets that same standard.
That's all I'm asking - keep the guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them.  Yes, some will slip through and no, it's not a perfect solution, but had everything gone as planned but not funded and therefore not done, our shooter's rejection from the armed services for mental instability and drug use would have been available to the salesperson who legally sold  him a gun.  With those facts, no purchase would have been authorized.  Even the Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in my district thinks it's right to include these things in regulations. I'm giving my unknown interlocutor the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he agrees, too.
We weren't talking about long guns.  That is a separate issue. 
Then there is my reaction to seeing that gun.  Another comment referred to the concealed weapons which are all around me, in fanny packs and back packs and under bulky sweatshirts.  That was a startling image, and I was anxious for a few days... but only for a few days.  I wasn't prepared to be that stressed all the time.  It was the opposite of Mindfulness, a state I've been actively cultivating of late.  I refuse to let the shooter occupy that much of my life.  I will not be frightened out of living my life.
I am cautious.  I seek out security guards and thank them for their help in keeping us safe.  I know where the exits are.  But those are things that a more prudent person might have been doing all of her life.  I never noticed anything.  I was rarely put off by appearances.  I have good reason to be more skeptical, more observant, more self-protective.  I'm on-guard when I'm out in the world, even when I don't know that I am. 
Should that be someone else's problem? 
Today, sadly, it is, because I have no way of knowing that the man at the other table isn't out for coffee before committing a heinous crime.  I don't know that he is certified and qualified and verified.  I just know that he is carrying a weapon.
I wonder what the commenter would do if someone else were open carrying.  Is there a secret handshake or eyebrow raise signifying that you're trained?  I'd like a hologram on every holster, with a device I could carry assuring me that the gun enclosed is worn by a person who knows what she's doing.
I moved here, into their space.  I have to respect that. 
I was shot by a young man who  never  should have had access to a gun.  They have to respect that.


  1. I don't see the logic of carrying a gun on someone's hip these days. If someone feels compelled to go armed, there are shoulder holsters that nobody would even know they were there. Anyone who thinks they can use a gun to protect others better think long and hard about whether they really could. The day you were shot, there was a man there who was armed but he wasn't sure who to shoot. That's not an unusual problem. It's the reason we should concentrate on keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them as a first defense.

    1. I had you in mind when I was writing this post, Rain. You are absolutely right - keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them is the first line of defense. Walking around with your weapon on your hip is sending a hostile message.. and a scary one to me.

  2. I don't understand the need at all--Arizona or Virginia. Are people that scared of what's out there in the real world that they have to carry a gun? Why should we have to determine if someone should have a gun or not? Even my dad, who is a gun owner, says he had to go through an extensive background check and he wants everyone to go through the same. He even said to me that if everyone had to go through one, it would go a long way in weeding out those who should not. I think there lies the problem... There are too many people getting guns who should not be near a gun.

    I saw this report yesterday. Thought it was interesting...


    Megan xxx

    1. And your dad is right, Megan, and that's kind of my point in the post. If only we had a "well-regulated" group of gun owners I'd be a lot less fearful.


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