Why your gun makes me nervous
Lynda Waddington, Exact Change
There’s a mantra quickly repeating in my head: “Please have a badge. Please have a badge. Please have a badge.” It’s a steady heartbeat as I begin a conversation with a shop clerk and reposition myself so I can peer over her shoulder.
I’ve already seen the bulge in his jacket, and it’s clear from the size and shape that he has a holstered gun. Now my eyes are quickly scanning, hoping to find a law enforcement badge clipped to his belt.
Ms Waddington, as a rule if the weapon is concealed, so is the badge. If someone saw a badge without a pistol, they may get the impression we have a cop unarmed. That may lead to errors in judgement. We go on.
I’m in a local bookstore and there’s a sticker near the door asking patrons not to carry weapons on the premises. My two children scurried off the moment we entered, each in search of their own treasures.
And from what I read of Iowa concealed carry law, a book store is not a restricted location, such as a bar or courthouse. Remember, the sign says "asks", not "it is unlawful".
The man with the weapon is as interested with the bookstore patrons as he is with the books on display. I’ve watched him watch others. The way he tracks them is unnerving.
I do not know this man, have no knowledge of his profession, personality or character. I am unaware of his mental state, of why he feels the need to carry a weapon into a bookstore. Frankly, I’m not that interested in his reasons right now. My mind is too busy filtering through the various scenarios that could be taking place. They flick before me like movie trailers, and I watch, casting some aside and mentally marking others for further consideration.
There’s no badge — at least not one I can see. And my inspection of him has not gone unnoticed. I rotate my handbag so that more of it rests toward the front of my body and gently pat it. It’s a tell by women who are packing heat in their purse. Many do it without thinking, a subtle check of hard steel through the leather. My touch is greeted by the bristles on my hairbrush, but no one else knows that.
The man recognizes the gesture, his eyes briefly flicking to my own before he moves past us in the aisle.
I still don’t know him, and the movie trailers increase. He could be the stalker, searching for his mark. He could be contemplating a robbery, or seeking someone to abduct. He could be an off-duty police officer, or even one that is undercover. He could be paranoid, thinking the world is out to get him or knowing someone truly is. He could be a fugitive, a drug dealer, a rapist or the owner of a sporting goods store. He could be a million things.
Thanking the clerk, I walk toward the YA section and my children. We won’t be spending money in this store today. We will be leaving as quickly as I can get them through the door, away from the man.
OK, you have an armed man, got it. And you have no idea what he is, got it. But something you may have and not notice. You may have another person in the store armed and not wanting to be identified for rather bad reasons. You could have a felon, robber, fugitive, gang member in the store, casing it or preparing to rob it. You don't know. A discussion point of a few cops on POLICEONE.COM a few years centered on where you would never go unarmed. A man made the point, "The last place I would go not carrying was a church because that is the place most feel safest and where they are least likely to be armed. I need to be prepared if the wolves comes growing."
BTY, he may be a cop with his B&C (Badge and credentials, aka ID) in his wallet. Just something to add to your rambling list of possibilities.
Although he is unknown to me, I do know Iowa’s lackluster gun laws and that they offer no assurances. While law enforcement officers have been trained with their weapons, civilians handed licenses to carry weapons in Iowa need not have ever touched, much less fired a weapon.
Mandated classes do not teach those who carry to use, nor do they assess accuracy or respect.
I do not know the last time the weapon in the man’s holster was maintained, and state law provides no assurances he knows how to maintain it.
As we leave, I am angered by lawmakers and gun advocates who preach blind trust in the same breath as they extol the dangers of society as their reason for needing to carry a weapon in a bookstore.
Well, I've seen trained law enforcement handle weapons before, and sometimes it not so reassuring! :<) Again Ms. Waddington, see my point of what you have. You are assuming the worse on the man and the best on the situation. I've been a cop for 17 years and yes, when I go to a restaurant or bar off duty (or on for that matter) I generally sit with a wall to my back and a view of the entrance. I generally don't know who is the bad guy just by sight but I need to be ready. You are to be commented for your awareness of you surroundings. The fact is it's not as safe as it used to be and for that reason some law abiding people feel they should be armed. And I hate to share this with you, the criminals are already armed. They don't care about the law, that's why they are called criminals. It's a felony in Texas if a felon is in possession of a firearm. Guess what, they still carry guns. That's why they are called criminals, they don't obey the laws, like the ones saying you can't rob, rape or murder. And I know they are hostile and they don't care about you or me. So yes, I have no issue with the non-criminal element of Iowa, or Texas, having a concealed weapon if they feel they need to. Maybe you should spend some time at a concealed carry class, get some training on firearms and you will see the people in the class or just like you. You wouldn't like to be a Carl Rowan now would you?
While I was reading this post, I saw a link to another by a guest columnist, the owner of an outfitters. And a CHL holder.
I carry a gun every day
Ernie Traugh, guest columnist
Every day I get up and put on a gun. It’s part of my daily routine. No different from making coffee or feeding the dogs before I leave for work.
There is so much misinformation about who that makes me. I’m a “gun nut.” I’m one of “those right-wing Second Amendment people.” I’m the scourge of the earth to some.
Funny how that works.
They don’t even know me but they are worried that I’m what’s wrong with this country, this state and this city I call home. I walk among them and they don’t even know it. I’m the guy in the jeans and Under Armour shirt, the guy in the $200 sport coat and $125 shoes, the guy in Nike pants and a hoodie, and some days I’m the guy with dirty hands from working in the yard, but most of all I’m the guy they never see.
Oh, they acknowledge me sometimes. When I hold the door for them because my parents raised me that way. When I let them go ahead of me in line at the gas station because they seem to be in a hurry. When I pick up their baby’s pacifier in the aisle at the grocery store and hand it back to them because it fell out and they didn’t notice. But they don’t see me. I’m just another guy in the store with things in my hand. But only my left hand. I don’t carry things in my right hand. Not at the store. Not in public.
Good point on keeping your weapon hand free Mr. Traugh.
Why? Because I’m “that guy.” I know that bad things happen. Every day. Everywhere. So I try to be aware. I try to study my surroundings. I expect to not see it coming every time. I expect that evil may show up while I’m shopping or walking through the mall or eating at a restaurant. It doesn’t make me crazy. It doesn’t make me paranoid. It simply makes me aware. Unlike a lot of people that walk by me every day. Looking at their phones, their notes, their purses, or any of the other distractions that plague us. I get it.
I also get that there are wolves. Hungry. Lean. Skilled at their trade. Studying you. Studying me. They like you. They don’t like me. I see them at the mall. I see them at the gas station. I see them right here in this town. Do they know I’m armed? No, they don’t. They know that I’m aware. I look at them. Kill them with kindness. It’s a like a mutual agreement. I see you; you see me. Let’s not kid each other.
It’s weird in a way. The man and his friend in the store that looked all around and even glanced at the camera above us — those guys see me. I’m aware that the door is over there. I’m aware that the coffee pot is within reach and full. He urges me to go first to the counter. “Oh no, you go please. I have all day,” I reply. Now he has to make a purchase. Now he knows I’m polite …. I’m polite and I do not want them behind me in line...
You can finish Mr. Traugh's column at the link and it's a good review of why people have to more aware of their surroundings these days and yes, there are more bad guys out there. So they choose, in accordance with the law, to be armed. And guy what, the crooks are too. so it's only there to make sure you can be prepared in case of the worse situation possible.
I'm glad this went over better than this: