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[politics] You’d better run said the man with the gun

A day or two ago, [info]kenscholes and I were enjoying a leisurely breakfast in The Bomber, in Milwaukie, OR. It’s a sleepy little diner mostly patronized by older folks in a sleepy little suburb south of Portland. In other words, about as a dangerous as your living room. Probably less so.

A very large man walked in with a pistol on his hip, open carry. I am extremely dubious that he was a peace officer off duty, based on his hair, clothes and grooming. I turned to Ken and said, “We need to leave.” We did. I didn’t follow my normal policy of dialing 911 whenever I see a weapon in public because the diner staff had taken no action.

Open carry scares the hell out of me. So does concealed carry, frankly, but concealed carry is a defensive measure, at least in theory. Open carry is a very deliberate threat. It’s a gun owner saying, if in my judgment you are dangerous, I will shoot you down.

I am far, far more frightened of someone who feels the need to walk around openly displaying a handgun than I am of any theoretical criminals that might have been menacing Milwaukie that day. The fact that this guy had that need to threaten everyone he encountered telegraphs some very negative information about both his emotional stability and situational judgement. Open carry isn’t about safety, it’s about dominance.

The weird part is how hard this is to prove. The same conservatives who loudly assure us that firearms are safe and that firearms improve public safety have for decades banned Federally funded research into precisely those questions. If guns were such an excellent safety tool, wouldn’t gun rights enthusiasts be eagerly embracing the research to underscore their point?

Quite the opposite. A firearm is a tool for killing. It serves literally no other purpose. All the collateral uses such as target shooting or hunting are simply practice for the killing. Even the gun lobby knows better, hence the research ban. They just don’t want people thinking in those terms because it’s bad P.R.

I do not want to be around another human being who feels the need to threaten to kill me for the sake of their own sense of security. It saddens me that this is legal, acceptable behavior, and people who practice open carry in normal, everyday situations scare the living hell out of me.

This is not a well-ordered militia, as the always-neglected part of the Second Amendment calls for.

30,000 people die every year in shootings in this country. It is one of the great shames of our society, and will eventually be one of history’s greatest puzzles that we as a society embraced this wholesale slaughter when every other similar industrialized society of our era managed a much more peaceful solution with much lower death rates.

Why would I want to be a part of conservative America’s rain of blood just to satisfy some guy’s paranoid ego?


If past experience proves true, I will catch a lot of flak for this post. A note to head off at least one line of criticism: I am quite comfortable with firearms, am a rather good shot, and understand range safety. In other words, I am not speaking from some thick-headed liberal ignorance. It’s precisely because I understand guns that I don’t want to be around them.

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