Monday, January 18, 2016

The Man With the Gun in the Park Today

I was born and raised in Texas. I was raised in a gun culture. Nowadays, every American has to realize that they have been raised in a gun culture, but some locales are more...boisterous...about it than others. Undeniably, Texas holds onto a "wild west" persona. A badder-ass-than-you take-my-guns-and-die pompousness.

Texas recently became an open carry state. That is, licensed gun owners can carry their weapons in public, over their clothing, in approved holsters. This is an especially polarizing issue even among gun owners.

Today I saw my first open carrier in public. Throughout the debates about campus carry and open carry, those in favor of guns are quick to point out that on the whole, gun owners are a responsible, reverent lot who cherish their guns and wouldn't do things that are against the law to endanger owning them...or ya know...going to prison, so imagine my surprise, playing with Greyson at a favored local park, when I looked up and saw a man with a gun in a holster on his leg. Was I scared? Oddly, no. Not at all. The man was playing with his kids...a toddler and one younger, just able to walk. I was sitting on a bench across the park watching my own child run and play.

While I wasn't scared, I was most definitely angry. There's a sign at the front of the park declaring it a weapon free zone. I get so sick of hearing how responsible gun owners are, and they'd never put their ownership in jeopardy. Apparently this carrier was lacking in common sense and the ability to read.

Another excuse that slays me is that gun carriers have a RIGHT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. All caps for a reason. Imagine someone shouting it to the rooftops, if you will. But I have to wonder, in that moment, in a park full of children, mothers, the elderly, and one other dad, who was he worried about protecting himself from?

Finally, I am selfishly upset at having to explain these laws and these behaviors and this culture of intimidation and violence to my child. My son did not notice the man's gun today, but what if he had? How does a parent answer those questions? Recently, Greyson got in trouble at school for telling a classmate, "I'm gonna kill you!" when he was angry. Lord knows where he heard it. It could've been anywhere. Of course we had a long talk about what that means and why it's unacceptable.

But today, in a children's play area at a park, a man was carrying a gun so he could kill or harm someone if he needed to. The truth: don't say "kill" son, but you definitely have the right to wield a weapon made for killing.

And we wonder where we went wrong.


27 comments:

  1. It's all about ego. I grew up with people who hunt. They have no interest in open carrying anything unless it's a rifle on the way to the deer blind. They would protect their families, but they wouldn't carry one into a park or even a restaurant. It is a mall cop mentality.

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    1. Amen. "Mall cop mentality" may be the best I've heard yet.

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  2. Our gun culture scares me. People think they'll know how to react in a situation and, more than likely, they won't react correctly and the situation will just escalate.

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    1. Yep. Had a neighbor who shot someone on his property "in defense" and still went to prison. Wise up, people.

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  3. It's not even about guns anymore, it feels like. It's about what better (stricter, tbh) gun laws represent to them: TYRANNY!!! SHARIA CREEP!!! and whatever else. Of course, it doesn't help that the NRA gets funding on behalf of the gun manufacturing lobby to whip up that fear -- so that people go out and buy more guns. (I don't think the NRA has actually been invested in gun OWNER interests in a long time.)

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    1. "TYRANNY!!! SHARIA CREEP!!!" YESSSSS, THIS YES!

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  4. The most frustrating thing about this, I'm sure, is that there was nothing you could do about it. Talk to him and make a stir? Call the cops and have them treat you as hysterical and overreacting? UGH. I haven't seen an open carry yet - and I'm happy that HEB has outright banned it in their stores - but the idea still makes me squirm, even though I grew up in a family that think of guns as necessities (living out in the country on ranches, that sort of thing - VERY wild west...).

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    1. That is exactly the rub. I knew how it would go down if I made a stink, for sure. My family has always owned guns, but they weren't concerned with showing them off. More utilitarian than that.

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  5. I don't own a gun anymore, but do have a license & am friends with quite a few people who are licensed/owners. Most of them won't bother to carry, either open or concealed... they're hunters or collectors. And frankly, I wouldn't trust that most of them would be able to handle an attack, like if they were in a shop that was getting robbed or something. Most people who haven't been trained for that kind of violent situation just do not know how to safely handle a handgun in that case, even if they're overly prideful about their bravery/ability. The only folks I would trust to protect me in that case are a former military member and a current police officer. Sorry friends, but just because you can bag a deer or go to the range for fun every once in a while does not mean you're actually going to be useful if one of your coworkers decides today is the day he gets revenge for someone stealing his favorite stapler.

    Sorry for the rant, but this kind of thing touches a nerve. Born & raised in West Texas, totally on board with responsible gun ownership & reasonable gun rights in general, but this "all or nothing" attitude has got to stop. It's just so obvious that people are acting out of fear... fear that the govmint is going to take away their fun guns, and fear of being in a situation where someone is threatening their safety without some kind of protection. These are understandable fears, sure, but when fear is your entire motivation & is not accompanied by actual logic or proper training/preparation, you're more likely to cause harm than prevent it.

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    1. Praise hands to this: "Sorry friends, but just because you can bag a deer or go to the range for fun every once in a while does not mean you're actually going to be useful if one of your coworkers decides today is the day he gets revenge for someone stealing his favorite stapler."

      The all or nothing attitude has become so completely polarizing and detrimental, I can't even stand it. There is a huge difference. Couldn't agree with your response more.

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  6. Yikes! I think seeing regular people (i.e. not the police) openly carrying guns around town would totally unnerve me. And definitely not at a children's playground!

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    1. It's...different. lol Definitely unnerving. I know guns have been all around us with concealed carry in practice, but open carry seems a lot like flaunting.

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  7. People like this are really the cause for so much concern when it comes to Second Amendment "freedoms" and the backlash from folks who are against concealed carry, open carry and other state laws that have been enacted (most often in southern states, I might add)...as they should be. I just think there are way too many dumbasses in the world for this to be legal. My husband has a concealed carry permit and I'm not even sure how comfortable I am with that...as I was born and raised in Texas, as well - ha!

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    1. I understand completely. My husband asked me if I'd consider learning to shoot because he travels a lot and is concerned about our safety. Would it do me any good in a real showdown in my home? Very hard to say.

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  8. I do think that it would be handy to have a gun around when these school shootings come up. Ironic. I know. But I feel as if kids are sitting ducks sometimes. When my daughter was put on the disaster team, she said that she had to make sure that if a classmate was not inside the locked door, that she not let them in. That is not a decision that I want a child to make. In my head, I feel as if locked weapons and trained staff who can use them might at least give them a fighting chance. It's a mix, see? I am not all for it or all against it. I can see situations where it could be helpful and where it could be disastrous, like at a park!

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    1. And I can appreciate that. I definitely feel like our students may be sitting ducks. All the more reason to staff SROs, though I know our schools only have one four four campuses.

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    2. FOR FOUR. Can't type. lol

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  9. To each their own, but for me, carrying openly for the world to see would be an even bigger risk to the gun owner. If someone with malicious intent was going to open fire in this park, I would assume they would look for the biggest threats to take out first. They guy with a gun would be perceived as a bigger threat than most of the mom's playing with their little ones. If this guys is taken out first, even with all the training in the world, he wouldn't be much use to the children he wanted to protect. You would probably be pretty surprised how many of the mom's in that same park may be packing under their clothes or inside their purses. I would encourage each of you to check out a meeting of your local Armed Ladies group. Even if you don't want to carry a gun, these types of groups are great for helping you think of ways to protect yourself and your family inside your home and out in the world.

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    1. April, I can appreciate your point of view. My mom is a CHL carrier, but when it comes to open carry, she is very much opposed. That seems to be the dividing line within groups of gun owners as well as outside.

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  10. I grew up with guns all around me and had my first shotgun at age ten. They were used for hunting (we were hunters and gatherers for our food) and not so much for protection. However, in today's jump-on-a-bandwagon and fight-for-the-right-when-you-really-don't-know-what-right-you're-screaming-about culture and society, and considering that in my city a young fifteen-year-old was recently gunned down protecting his friends from gunfire, I'm not sure how I feel about the entire debate, anymore. I still own a gun but do not own (and probably won't apply for) a carry permit, but most of my family does. I think a telling thing about the man is that he was playing with his children, so I don't think I would have been unnerved, but would I have been if the carrier had looked a little malicious? Of course, that opens me up to stereotyping, which is another debate. In all of that, the carrier SHOULD HAVE READ THE SIGN! Insert "Here's your sign" routine. THAT is what I dislike about his carrying...he clearly put others at risk; those signs are there for a reason.

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  11. Bleh. Guns freak me right the hell out, and that's remained true my whole life, despite growing up and living in a gun-positive state. It is just so quick a step from okay to dead, when there are guns around, and ordinarily there are more steps in there. And I don't like that. I don't like feeling like someone else has that power over me and the people around me. I don't want them to have it, and I don't want me to have it.

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  12. Great post! In the interest of full disclosure, we have guns in our house -- they remain locked in the gun cabinet except when my husband takes out his service weapon to go to work. (He's a police officer). But I agree with you about our gun culture. I can't fathom the fact that we've become such a paranoid society that people loudly demand the right to be armed everywhere they go. Having reached that level of paranoia, people are more a danger to themselves than anything.

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  13. I was just reading about the fact that even if a gun has faulty safety measures, there is not way to make manufacturers fix it -- in fact, they seem to think fixing faults (like guns that fire when dropped) is admission of guilt. So, they just don't bother. And, yet, a single toy can cause a problem and every single one has to be recalled. How crazy is that? And, it's not a recent thing. The lack of accountability for gun manufacturers goes all the way back to the 70s.

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  14. Ohio is open carry and it doesn't bother me, but I've also never seen someone blatantly carrying. They have holsters under jackets and such. I would feel weird seeing a gun in a park of children though, like which one of these things doesn't belong?

    My son also got in trouble in school a couple of years ago for saying "I'm going to kill you" to a girl who was consistently harassing him. One day she switched their names on a paper on which she did poorly and he did well. He's had it. The principal told me he understood it didn't mean anything, but that they couldn't overlook it because there might be a time when it is a real problem.

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  15. I honestly don't know what to say. I understand your concerns. We used to have a handgun in the house. I know how to load and shoot one and have even enjoyed going to a gun range every so often to practice. HOWEVER, I do recognize that a gun is a weapon, and weapons are not something we let people carry around in the open for a reason. Are we going to allow people to carry swords or machetes on their backs? Where do you stop? Open carry prevents people from understanding just how dangerous guns are because then they become ordinary accessories in kids' eyes, nothing more than a glorified purse.

    In the meantime, I think the only thing you can do is educate your children that carrying a gun does not mean that one should use said gun. That seeing a gun in the open gives your child every right to view the person carrying it as a dangerous person because they are. I don't understand why others don't realize this.

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  16. I haven't seen anyone carrying yet but I have a feeling I'll be very uncomfortable the first time I see it. I don't blame you for being upset after seeing this at the park.

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