I don’t smoke marijuana. I have no idea what it’s like when a wave of THC-enhanced paranoia washes over you, filling every muscle, nerve, fiber and cell of your body with a sense of dread. I imagine it must be similar to the feeling I got when an elderly lady walking towards the supermarket clocked my Glock and freaked. Mind you, it was a minor freak. She looked at me like a Japanese extra in a Godzilla movie, her eyes widened in silent fear. She jinked left, slightly. Her pace quickened, almost imperceptibly. And that was that. Or was it? My mind started to race . . .
What if she called the cops? I’d already run the scenario through my head dozens of times. Officer Krupke arrives, cherries alight, siren ablaze. I freeze. He bolts out of his car, draws his gun and yes, points it at me. I remain frozen, staring down the business end of a firearm identical to my own, save the larger caliber cartridges.
I do whatever I’m told, slowly. He disarms me. At some point, somehow, slowly, I extract and proffer my Pistol Permit. I tell him the laminated card allows me to open carry (stifling any desire to use the word “right”).
As the cop and I attempt to climb down off adrenalin mountain, his colleagues arrive. A crowd forms. Decision time. Not for me. At this point, I’m powerless, doing the STFU thing. The cop and his brothers in blue have to decide whether or not to arrest me. If they do, I’ll have to call my housekeeper to look after my eight-year-old.
And then my lawyer. I’ve got a good one—who charges me $300 an hour. I get stuffed into the Impala and away we go. No matter what happens I’m headed for a Kafkaesque nightmare of police paperwork and prosecutorial investigation. During this kerfuffle, I’ll lose my gun, maybe all my guns, and my Pistol Permit.
Best case: no charges, charges dropped or I win in court. Worst case: I lose, buddy-up with Bubba in the hoosegow and lose my gun rights forever. Oh, and Lola’s father, a single parent in all but name, is absent without leave.
What are the odds? I don’t know. But this I do know: the local constabulary aren’t exactly au fait with open carry laws. One of my cigar guys told me he’d mentioned my open carry (and right to do so) to a State Police officer. “The Statie said, ‘No way . . . Never heard of it in twenty-years.’”
It’s not inconceivable that the police will yank my open carry chain under the principle that it’s better to do so than not, and let the guys back in the station sort it out. “What if they send a SWAT team?” the rabbi asked when I’d made it back to base. “Chances are they’d find something to charge you with.”
Oh great. A SWAT team. Nothing like seeing that little red dot bouncing around on your T-shirt to turn an OK day into a not-so-OK day—no matter how it turns out.
Equally, I’m not insensible to the socio-political argument against open carry made by more than a few members of Armed Intelligentsia. How does frightening the locals help promote gun rights? “You’re scaring the sheeple,” the rabbi remarked, echoing the sentiment. “Your gun confirms their prejudice against carrying . . . It does nothing to convince them that guns in civilian hands are OK.”
“If you get hauled into court and win, who benefits?” he continued. “Society. Not you . . . It’s the same thing as defending someone else with your gun. It may be the right thing to do but you have to ask yourself, is it worth it?”
Bottom line: Lola. By standing on principle I’m being a selfish prick. Especially if I’m honest and admit that I consider open carry a way to generate blog fodder. I mean, “explore the philosophical, legal and practical benefits of exercising my Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
And speaking of Lola, is open carry a suitable carry way to protect my daughter in public? According to the rabbi, Rob Pincus, Wayne at AFS and a range of gun gurus, hell no. I’m of two minds on that. On one hand, yes, my openly displayed firearm says “shoot me first.” On the other hand, it’s says “Don’t fuck with me with me fellas.” And open carry is a much faster draw.
Long story short, I stopped. I decided not to open carry anymore. And then I ran into my pal Steve at Stafano’s . . .
Steve open carries his Bodyguard everywhere without any qualms (A Farewell to Qualms?). Four months in and he’s not had a single LEO encounter. As I watched him kick my ass at pool (1 for 3) I noticed that Steve’s gun isn’t really noticeable. Neither was my Caracal C in its Kydex sheath. Maybe my issues have something to do with the switch to a big ass Glock 19 in a HERE IT IS retention holster. Maybe not.
By the same token, maybe I’ll revisit this open carry thing in a couple of days. Or after Lola leaves the nest. Meanwhile, it feels good to live life outside of condition orange, without all those paranoid rushes. But it doesn’t feel right.