“Have Gun -Will Travel”

I was on the internet last night reading different news articles when I came across an interesting one out of Carson City, Nevada:

Proposal Could Make It Easier To Carry Concealed  Semi-Automatic Weapon

A bill to make carrying concealed weapons easier?  Just what Nevada needs. And this is going to make the citizens of Nevada safer! how? What’s the Senate doing, competing with Arizona for lawlessness?

Reading the article brought back memories of a rather heated discussion I had sixteen years ago with a group of friends about the virtues of carrying a concealed weapon.

We had gotten together on New Year’s eve to play some cards and welcome in the new year. At some point the conversation turned to hand guns and my opposition to carrying a concealed weapon for protection was not well received.

A couple of them argued that the world outside the front door is not a very safe place with danger around every corner. Gang members, ex cons, mental misfits, bullies and other criminal types are out there with guns ready to blow us all away. If they have guns then so should we, you know, just in case.

One friend told of his son being scared by three guys in a pick up truck that he’d accidentally cut off. They’d followed him and finally pulled up along side him at a traffic light, where they supposedly began flashing gang signs and hassled him. When the light turned green, instead of going straight he made a quick right and lost them. He said that when his son got home he was pretty shaken up. His son told him what happened, so my friend grabbed a baseball bat and went out looking for the truck.  I asked him what he would have done if he would have found them. He said he would have gotten some revenge.                                                                                                                                    Revenge! for what? Because his seventeen year old son got scared? Truly a great reason to go out and bust some heads. I reminded him that his son had cut them off and they hadn’t really done anything. “They scared the shit out of my son, he said angrily, that’s reason enough.”

Then another of the men chimed in. He told a story about carrying a concealed weapon into a bad situation involving five young black men who were hassling his son. (I should mention that his son had just backed his truck into one of their parked cars.)  His son called him and explained what had happened and what was going on. My friend grabbed his handgun and left. He said he had the gun in his pocket to give him the edge, a pocket full of courage. Just knowing the gun was there gave him the courage to handle the situation in a ‘take charge’ manner. He said he walked right up to the guys and said, “How do you want to handle this? We can do it the easy way or the hard way, whatever you like.” The guys ended up being totally cooperative, in fact when he arrived they were on one side of the street talking and his son was across the street, sitting in his truck waiting.

I continued to insist that the gun had not been necessary. I reminded him of when we were younger and all the times that we use to hassle younger drivers for a lot less than hitting our car. Sometimes we just did it for the hell of it. He didn’t agree. He said we didn’t belong to gangs or carry guns. He was quite certain that these guys did. I told him he was assuming an awful lot and asked if he ever saw a gun. He hadn’t seen one, but he knew they were carrying. If any of them had pulled a gun, he would have, as he put it, “taken  some of them down with me.” He said that defending his family would have been an honorable way to go. To do anything less would be cowardly.

Nearly everyone agreed with him. I was shocked to say the least. I couldn’t believe these were the same peace, love and party people I had grown up with. It was as though I was seeing them, the real them, for the very first time and I didn’t particularly like what I was seeing. I hated to see them so paranoid.  As  I sat there listening I wondered if our parents had felt this paranoid about our safety. I didn’t think so.

I’m sure they thought my views were unrealistic and that I was being naive. Maybe they were right. Perhaps I am a dreamer, a romantic and a fool, or perhaps I’m just overly optimistic, I don’t know, but I’d rather imagine a society in which we work together to improve things peacefully rather than with force or violence. We do not live in the wild west. There is no need for everyone to walk around with concealed weapons. That is not the answer to what ails this nation. Guns are not the tools we need to restructure our society.  We are much better off being a society of dreamers, romantics and fools than being a bunch of gun touting,  paranoids!                                                                                  One thing I know for sure is that after that conversation we never quite looked at each other the same way again. We all learned something about each other that night and though we remain good friends, they changed forever that evening as did I.  Life goes on…

J S

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