I’m probably one of very few (liberal) Democrats who is pro-gun. I’m not sure “pro-gun” is really the right term. Essentially, I think that the bad guys are always going to have access to guns, so I strongly oppose the notion that I shouldn’t be allowed to have one. “Gun control” is a really loaded (hi hi) phrase, but I’m not at all opposed to people being required to have a fairly clean background, or to demonstrate that they understand safe gun handling and whatnot. Because those things wouldn’t disqualify me, but would probably make society safer than issuing gun permits to felons, or allowing people to carry guns without them every demonstrating that they’re not going to put their sunglasses in their purse and accidentally press them into the trigger, accidentally shooting a baby in the head. I think it should be kind of like auto licensing.
But there are a few things that still don’t make sense to me. One is the type of people who carry guns with them everywhere. Honestly, this alone might make sense. If I lived in a bad neighborhood, I could see myself applying for a concealed carry permit, and keeping a small pistol tucked under my shirt. But to some people, a gun is just something else you put on in the morning, just like your shoes. And I always thought “open carry” was strange, too.
Today I was helping at my mom’s school, and ran down to the quaint little market down the street from her school to pick up lunch. You need to understand that, while I live in a town with very little crime, my mom’s school is in a place with astronomically less crime. I’m pretty sure that you could fill a wheelbarrow up with millions of dollars in cash, be a frail old lady, and push it around the town during the middle of night, and the only thing that might happen would be some people stopping to ask if you needed directions or wanted to borrow their flashlight.
When I was paying for my sub, the guy in line in front of me was well-dressed, but had an M1911 on his belt. He didn’t appear to be a cop (it was really way too “flashy” of a gun for a police department to issue, and I was once told that any plainclothes detective who’s openly carrying a gun will have their badge displayed right next to the gun), just a well-to-do business man who felt the need to bring his pistol with him as he went to grab lunch. It seemed a bit strange, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought it was kind of silly that he felt the need to do so.
It made me realize that I’d actually prefer that people who carried guns did so in a concealed fashion. The law tends to view concealed carry as something more “severe” than open-carry: in NH, you need a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but my interpretation of the law is that, if it’s in plain sight, no permit is needed to wear your pistol around in public. And honestly, if the purpose is safety, it’s probably an accurate assumption that those who carry a firearm in plain view are less likely to use it in a crime. But it just looks like the lawless west when people walk around with guns hanging off their belts, and it seems to creep lots of people out.
(Plus, most of what I’ve heard is that the “I want everyone to know I’m packing heat” school of thought is actually flawed. While you’re probably less likely to be attacked, the type of people who would still attack you are exactly the type of people that you carry a gun to protect against, and now they know what you’re carrying and where. Keep it concealed, and you have a nice element of surprise.)
I’ve also found that NH has a sizable contingent of the “free state” people, who seem to border on lunacy when it comes to guns. There was a video on Youtube a while back of a guy in NH who had a pistol strapped to his leg while walking around downtown Manchester, and he was seemingly marching around like a madman with it on display. A police officer happened to be in the area, and stopped to ask him what was going on. He started screaming about how it was turning into a police state, and how the police were trampling his constitutional rights.
The video was accompanied by a bunch of text about how it’s imperitive that people ‘defend’ their Second Amendment rights by doing things like that. And all I could think is that he’s really making a great case for stricter gun control. Legal arguments aside, if you take a random sampling of people and ask them how they feel knowing that thousands of NH residents choose to go about their daily lives with a concealed pistol, I bet the majority would say that it doesn’t bother them at all. But if you asked that same random sampling of people how they felt knowing that people were marching around the city with firearms strapped to their leg, screaming about how we live in a police state, I bet an overwhelming majority would agree that gun laws are too lax. The guy, at least to me, seemed to do a good job of showing exactly the opposite of what he was trying to prove.
Which leads into my next point: I never thought of the Second Amendment as a reason to carry a gun. You might carry a gun because you enjoy target shooting, because you’re concerned for your safety, or because you’re a hunter. And you might become a big supporter of the Constitutional Amendment allowing you to do so. But I’ve never understood the people who cite the Second Amendment as a reason for gun ownership. To me, it would be like burning crosses* on my front lawn because of the First Amendment, or me joining the Church of Satan because of the Free Exercise clause.
I suppose this is really just meandering diatribe. But my point is that a lot of what goes on with gun ownership just seems weird to me. Even though I don’t think we live in an area where it’s really “necessary” to carry a gun, it’s certainly something I can understand. (If I were to work again in a place that sometimes had be closing a big cash-centric business, and walking out of the building at 1am by myself, I might give it some thought.) But I’m struggling to think of a reason I’d want it on display, other than to show off: I think it would freak out “innocent” people, get drunkards to lunge for it as a joke… But more importantly, if I carried a gun, I wouldn’t want anyone who might do me harm to know anything about it. And the Second Amendment doesn’t make me ‘want’ to go buy a gun in any way.
* I don’t know the citations off the top of my head, but I should point out that case law on cross-burning is stacked against what’s probably the most common use of cross-burning. Burning crosses, in and of itself, is legally permissible (as long as you get a fire permit?). But when it’s used as a threat (as the KKK seems fond of doing to black people), it’s quite clearly illegal. It’s really no different than arguing with your neighbor and saying, “I’m going to go back to my house, get my axe, and come murder you and your family.” Freedom of speech doesn’t protect against threats, and it makes no difference if the threat is implicit or explicit.