I’ve got to run to the market later today. Maybe I’ll also make a lightning stop at a hardware store, I don’t know. But in any event, I won’t be taking a gun with me. Because there’s absolutely no need to.
Also, okay, I don’t own a gun. So realistically I couldn’t take a gun with me even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. I don’t own a gun for the same reason I’m not taking one to the market. I don’t need a gun. I have zero use for a gun.
I’ve no need for a gun, but I rather like them. They’re incredibly efficient tech, they make a loud noise (sometimes I enjoy making a loud noise), they can make a hole suddenly appear in a target a distance away (which is actually sort of cool), and if you fire them at night, you see flame come out (which is very cool). Guns can be fun to shoot. But I don’t have any need for one.
I’ve been in situations where I could justify owning and carrying a gun. I spent several years as a private investigator specializing in criminal defense work. Most folks think that if you’re working to defend an accused criminal, other criminals will like you. Not so. The thing is, defending an accused criminal often means finding and revealing other criminals who may be guilty of the crime. Or they might have information that could implicate them in some way. Information they DO NOT want you to have.
And let’s face it, nobody–not even an innocent person–wants a stranger asking them nosy, impertinent, personal questions. It tends to piss people off. And here’s another thing: criminals don’t keep normal business hours. Which means a lot of the time you end up asking criminals nosy, impertinent, personal questions at their home, or in a bar, or when they’re with friends (who are often criminals as well).
As a PI, I had a concealed carry permit. I considered carrying a gun several times. But I was always concerned that if I had a gun, I’d get too confident. I’d get cocky, take more chances, take more stupid chances–because I’d be carrying protection. I never carried a gun because I know how easy it is to make a really bad impulsive decision. On those occasions where I had to enter a situation where there was a realistic chance I’d get hurt, I took a partner. Reliable guy–he’d been a LRRP in Vietnam and a police detective. He’d be armed, he’d enter the bar before me and take up a position. I’d come in a bit later and do my thing. And if it all started to go sideways, I knew he’d step up. So I felt…not safe, certainly not safe enough to be cocky, but I felt the odds of getting seriously hurt were low enough to risk.
My point, such as it is, is this: I know what it’s like to be afraid that somebody might realistically decide to assault you. Or stab you. Or pull a gun and shoot you. Genuinely afraid. Not-sure-you-can-control-your-bladder afraid. And yet, despite being in those situations multiple times, I’ve never actually had to physically defend myself. Or have somebody else defend me.
So yeah, I can go buy groceries without carrying a gun. And so can you and everybody else.
Some folks will insist that the only way to preserve a legal right is to use it. There’s some truth in that. But the gun-toting folks who make that argument are almost always the same folks who are willing–even eager–to make it more difficult to exercise other legal rights. To vote, to get an abortion, to marry somebody you love, to peacefully protest.
There’s really only one reason to carry a gun: to shoot something or somebody. You don’t have to intend to shoot something or somebody, but carrying a gun indicates you’re prepared to do that. There’s only one genuine motivation for carrying a gun. Fear. You’re either afraid somebody or something may harm you, or you’re afraid somebody or something will harm somebody else.
People who are genuinely afraid to leave the house unless they’re strapped are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be armed. You can’t trust a scared person to make good decisions. Scared people are much more likely to make really bad decisions. But I suspect folks who are genuinely that frightened are a very small minority. I suspect the vast majority of people who insist on being armed when they leave home are either fantasists who like to imagine themselves as tough and heroic, or assholes who just want to intimidate other folks. Or they’re both–fantasists who are also assholes.
Regardless of their reason for wanting to carry a gun, the fact is they don’t need to. They’re far more likely to need to carry a flashlight, or an umbrella, or a breath mint, maybe a magnet. I mean, those things actually come in handy sometimes. A gun? Almost never.
I think I’m going to start announcing this on Twitter whenever I have an errand to run. “I’m going to the market for cheese. I’m #NotTakingAGun.” It’s silly, but that’s the point. Taking a gun to go buy cheese is silly.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Okay, I did it. Went shopping, made it home safely. Notified Twitter.