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.