The culture we grew up in kept firearms
unloaded, locked and boxed until we reached the hunting grounds, the
firing range, the gun club or the gunsmith. I grew up in a country
where the public commons, and any other public place or private
business, with logical exceptions, was gun-free. Millions upon
millions of Americans, for generations, have taken this for normal.
Call it a blessing of liberty. Call it a common consent that this is
the public commons we wanted, and made. It is the public commons they
fought for, one that is free from fear.
I have lived in that country, and
traversed that public commons, for over half a century. Welcome,
young citizen, to the country we have made, which you now inherit. Is
it possible you take our labor for granted? Are the sacrifices and
service of my family invisible? They mean nothing to you? Your
dubious "right" is paramount?
Recently a paranoid minority have
pushed through new laws making it easier to carry sidearms in public.
Their rationale; it is their "right". But these same people are
strangely quiet about their responsibility to their fellow Americans,
and remain mute and tongue-tied about the sanctity of a gun-free
Tribal thinking serves a platoon well,
especially in hostile territory, among a hostile populace. But I
challenge you to make a concise list of the ways in which civilian
life in America is not, repeat not, like a tour of duty in Iraq.
Reintegrating into American culture after a tour of duty is far more
demanding, will take far more intellect, cunning, courage and
discipline, than anything you have done in your young life to date.
You say you want to be ready to protect
your family and friends. You do so at a cost, one you seem unwilling
to notice: you intimidate innocent civilians who haven't lived
private and public lives in the presence of firearms, haven't had to,
and to whom the sight of an openly-carried sidearm is shocking. I
have grown up around firearms, can field strip and reassemble a 100
year-old Savage .32 caliber semiautomatic blindfolded, and I'm
shocked to see open-carry sidearms in public. I also choose to be
aware of the shocking and stupid number of gun-related mishaps, and
the harm they have caused the innocent.
I take my responsibility to other
law-abiding, patriotic Americans very seriously. Their sense of
safety matters to me. Have you really simplified your thinking to
"It's me and my tribe against the world."? If so, you are pushing
for a paradigm shift. A toxic one. Sorry, but most Americans, plenty
of veterans among them, aren't ready to see public spaces and private
businesses crowded with open-carry advocates. That is not the public
commons that they, or my family, strove to create.
You open carry a sidearm into a Pick 'n
Save, to be ready for any threat, but you fail to be ready for cold
weather, for the possibility you'll have to spend more than a few
minutes outdoors? Which scenario was more likely? It was so
inconvenient to bring along a jacket? Is this balanced thinking? Or
is it seriously distorted and faulty threat-assessment?
You emphasize that exposure numbed your
arms and severely restricted the movement of your hands and fingers.
Your concern: you couldn't draw your firearm in the Pick 'n Save
My concern: you couldn't render first
aid. What if an accident occurred in that parking lot? Statistically,
that event is far, far more likely to occur. And you were not ready.
What if the victim of that accident had been a nephew, a niece, or
You make the specious claim that you
carry a sidearm to protect family members. You will soon be an uncle.
You know a great deal about your firearm. I do too, and I also know a
great deal about children. They are acutely aware of the emotional
environment around them, and they have evolved to be experts in
detecting fear and paranoia. Exposure to it does them great, long
That is why I and the majority of
Americans do not carry sidearms in public, concealed or otherwise.
Together, as Americans, we create a public commons where children,
families, our elders, fathers and mothers, are protected from fear
and paranoia, a far more prevalent and rampant malady than physical
I suggest that you are not being honest
with yourself, or with us. I suggest that you, at some level, planned
to be a provocateur, that you are not so innocent, not so much the
victim you portray. Your editorial is a cry for help.
Fear compels you to carry that firearm
to guard against the statistically extremely remote possibility of a
need to use it. I have a truly terrifying suggestion, one that no
firearm can protect you from. See a therapist. The enemy isn't "out
there" somewhere. The enemy has already broached your perimeter and
burrowed into your psyche. You did not deprogram completely after
your tour. You harbor trust issues that cause you to draw stark but
illusory lines between your tribe and "outsiders". No sidearm can
dislodge an enemy that lies within. And you can't face this enemy
alone. You were trained and disciplined to work in a team.
The issue of your "right" to
open-carry a sidearm is a red herring. The real issues will emerge
after you summon the courage to submit to professionally facilitated
self-examination, after you volunteer for a tour of duty inside your
psyche. You are bound by honor, duty and self-respect to take that
tour. You also owe it to your family and friends.
On this last tour of duty you will face
fears more formidable, devious and cunning than any foe you faced in
Iraq. But there is more. You will not be alone. And you will learn to
throttle fear, to make your weakness a source of strength. You will
gain new means to assess threats. You will forge new intellectual
weapons to protect yourself, your family and your friends from fear.
These are more powerful than any sidearm. And they are a gift to
those you love.