Question of the Day: Can You Spot a ‘Gun Guy’ When You See One?

courtesy newsitem.com

Dan Baum’s busy doing the full court press tour for his recently released book, Gun Guys: A Road Trip. In an interview at theatlantic.com yesterday, he’s asked by Hope Reese how he was affected by toting a heater (sometimes openly, sometimes concealed) every day during his journey of discovery. “It was…a good way to camouflage myself. I don’t look like a gun guy, I don’t sound like a gun guy — I sound like just the opposite and I look like just the opposite. They can see me coming a mile away. But if I’m wearing a gun, I’m one of them.” An answer which, to those with the hair-trigger outrage gene, might seem less than politically correct . . .

If he’d been talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses, bowlers or the Irish, more than a few might have thought that answer bigoted. Just what does a gun owner look like, Mr. Baum? Then again, stop into your LGS on any Saturday afternoon and you’d be forgiven for wondering if the guys fondling the ARs (if there are any in stock), those looking at shotguns and the dood buying a refill of Hoppe’s are all members of the same extended family.

But as Dan so ably points out in the interview, there are all kinds of gun owners out there these days. Which, you’d think, would make them more than a little difficult to readily ID in the crowd on any particular street corner. How ’bout you? Can you tell a gun owner when you see one coming the other way?

comments

  1. avatar mlopilato says:

    I know I definitely stick out. Mostly for being the youngest guy there.

    1. avatar gearhead231 says:

      +1

  2. avatar AaronW says:

    When on vacation, I make it a point to wear gun-related apparel, especially if the resort is in a non-permissive place like the Islands or a cruise ship. Good conversation starter.

    1. avatar Ron Burgundy says:

      I’m considering buying one of those nice Beretta rolling luggage things, to use as carry-on luggage when flying. Especially nice in CA. 🙂

  3. avatar chris says:

    Usually can tell once they open their mouth (if at a gun shop, sporting goods section of walmart, etc.). As far as on the street, or in a crowded public place, can’t really tell, but isn’t that the point??

  4. avatar Peter says:

    I don’t own a piece of camouflage, which is camouflage out in public

    1. avatar Brian S says:

      best urban camo would be an Obama tshirt

      1. avatar Peter says:

        Ohhh fo sho. But I could never do it. Ever. It would definitely not be camo around my circle of friends…

        1. avatar Brian S says:

          would be a target? lol

    2. avatar Gyufygy says:

      +1 on the no camo.

  5. avatar Shenandoah says:

    Not all gun owners are OFWG with NRA stickers on the back of their trucks, but all OFWG with NRA stickers on their trucks are gun owners.

    1. avatar Martin Albright says:

      Which is why I will happily wear an NRA hat but no longer rock an NRA sticker on my truck. Don’t want it to get broken into again.

      1. avatar 16V says:

        I pulled that and my sticker that says “Driver is always carrying at least $2K in cash.”

        I firmly believe that supermodels have the Constitutional Right to fall asleep nekkid on Central Park benches and that every Hasidim diamond merchant should carry his wares in a sandwich baggie, in an extended hand.

        That said, sometimes discretion is a prudent course of action. Temptation and whatnot…

        1. avatar Paul W says:

          Exactly. Zero bumper or window stickers advertise my guns.

    2. avatar Gene says:

      What is OFWG? And Yes, no bumper stickers. That’s like a big red flag “steal my car cause it might have a gun in it.”

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Old Fat White Guy.

  6. avatar In Memphis says:

    I just assume everyone is carrying, even if its a little kid with a NERF gun. Are toy guns still legal?

  7. avatar Swarf says:

    I have no idea whether I can tell a fellow gun owner or not because I don’t walk up to strangers in the street and ask them.

  8. avatar AlphaGeek says:

    I assume that if I see you at the range, the FFL, or the gun store, and you don’t look completely lost and bewildered, you are likely a Gun Person. 🙂

    1. avatar SGC says:

      YEP…theres your sign…:)

  9. avatar dwb says:

    This is Maryland. If i can spot a gun owner (and its not at the range or hunting) then its likely a criminal. And: in Maryland, outside your home, you have a duty to be a victim retreat.

  10. avatar OODAloop says:

    Sometimes. If they wear anything gun brand-related it’s a call out, but camo is popular so that’s not a general indicator. Cabelas is close too, so that’s not a good give-away. Generally I, or one of my kids, spots a bulge in their coat/shirt at 4 o’clock and that’s a good sign. My girls are good at it, mostly because that’s eye-level for them and we make a game out of spotting who’s carrying. Other than that, it’s hard.

    Mind you, if you’re at Wal-Mart and there are 20 guys just “hanging around” sporting goods at 7:00a, that’s a good indicator that they’re all Gun Guys…

    1. avatar Terry says:

      True on that @ 0700.
      I see what you did with your name. Boyd fan?

      1. avatar OODAloop says:

        Yup. Big fan. In practice it’s very effective. I had an instructor years ago that was big on “MOVE!” and shooting happens when needed. In the meantime, you better fscking move. Do things to change your orientation/attitude and even if you draw last you’ll still be ahead of your opponent. Clint Smith uses this in his training too. “If you’re not shootin’ you should be loadin’. If you’re not loadin’ you should be movin’. If you’re not movin’, somone’s gonna cut your head off and put it on a stick.”

    2. avatar mountocean says:

      Only once was I so confident I made a guy to point him out to my wife, “that guy across the restaurant with the high-speed web belt and commando pants; he’s carrying a gun”. A few months later the same old duff was teaching my CCW class. I felt like a real badass, started drafting my resume for the FBI in my head. Well it turned out he was a retired local cop that taught knifefghting to the rookies, but he didn’t carry. He always had three knives on him, but no gun. I consider it a confirmed 50%.

    3. avatar Brock says:

      I personally like my Midwayusa hat. Only other gun guys and girls are likely to know what it is.

  11. avatar Ralph says:

    Gun guys kinda slide under the radar, except when they’re at the range or the LGS, so I can’t always spot a brother. How to spot a gun guy at the range? He’s the one who sees you looking at his pistol or rifle and asks if you want to shoot it.

    The sisters are more difficult to spot, because they don’t usually talk to guys that they don’t know. Noobs are easy to spot, and I try to help them out as much as I can. Hey, we were all newbies once.

    1. avatar OODAloop says:

      You know, they should be hard to spot. It’s the entire concept behind the “Grey Man”. If you wear camo or tactical crap, it calls you out as being a mall ninja (Google “Gecko45 mall ninja”) or a poseur. Not only that, but they’re the ones that get hassled by the PoPo and generally picked out as a target, either for ridicule or eradication.

      I learned a long time ago that it’s better to be on the inside and create havoc within than to be on the outside and ostracized. Same thing with being a “Gun Guy”. You can be all Gunny with friends, but elsewhere you need to dress like the sheeple and try to appear to be like one of them. It gives you an added advantage of concealment and surprise and just that alone is enough to turn a situation in your favor. So tactical to me is cargo construction pants (Riggs Rangers) and a long-tailed polo or simple untucked button-up shirt. Gets you storage for BSI supplies, phone, Israeli bandage, extra mag and firearm. After that, FTW (old definition). Bring it on, I’m ready.

      1. avatar Paul W says:

        Frankly, mall ninjas and what I’ll term Rambo wanna-be’s kind of earn some teasing. If you show up to a range, head to toe camo and combat boots, shaved bald, 300 lbs, talking tough, but have never been in the military or even been in a fistfight after high school…I’m probably going to snicker to myself.

  12. avatar MMGG says:

    Other than somebody wearing hunting gear or gun or gun culture related clothing it is impossible to tell. My shooting buddies are Asian, Latino, black, white catholic, Buddhist, Jewish and atheist. Some of them voted for Obama, all are very disappointed with his anti-gun crusade. The stereotypical Realtree wearing grey haired dyed-in-the-wool Republican doesn’t fit around here, but late middle-aged to 60s white males might be overrepresented, especially among hunters. I’m in the New York metro area though, so things might be different. Having any type of positive view of guns and gun rights goes against the grain here.

  13. avatar Silver says:

    “Gun owners” can be anyone, from a drug dealer to treasonous scum like Difi.

    “Gun guys” are something else. Spotting them is less about apparel and NRA gear and more about how they carry themselves. They’re usually well-spoken, stand stall, confident, polite, and decent. Incidentally, you can spot a progressive by looking for the exact opposite of that.

  14. avatar Sleezus says:

    Whenever I see someone wearing a paracord bracelet, I check to see if they are printing.

    1. avatar DisThunder says:

      Guilty. Also watch for the Suuntos and G-Shock watches.

      1. avatar Rebecca says:

        I wear a Seiko 5 watch. Mechanical, auto-wind. EMP proof. I’m contemplating making another paracord band for it like I had for my previous watch… and I do wear a paracord bracelet.

    2. avatar Evan says:

      Lol I wear 2 paracoard braclets. No printing on me though:( only cops and senators have guns in NJ.

    3. avatar schizuki says:

      I was wondering if someone would beat me to the paracord bracelet. It’s the “Live Strong” of gun culture.

      And yes, I wear one.

  15. avatar Mark says:

    I still remember the gay in Cedar Park Tx wearing a LaRue Tatical Shirt and I could clearly see his 1911 through his shirt, walking into Target.
    It was one of those
    “Should I tell him he’s printing?”

    1. avatar AaronW says:

      Just tell him it looks Fabulous.

      1. avatar Ropingdown says:

        I think he meant “guy.”

      2. avatar Ronald RayGun says:

        +100

  16. avatar Rab says:

    Gun guys blend. Liberals pretending to be gun guys stick out like a sore thumb. Wearing a gun makes you a gun guy like a large belt buckle makes you a texan.

  17. avatar Anmut says:

    It’s not really about picking the gun owners out – it’s easier to pick the non-gun people out for me. I’ll make a slight list and if you’re offended by it, well tough titty said the kitty.
    – any idiot with holes in his ear that I could toss a 12g shell through from 6 feet.
    – any woman with short hair and sports that tight, anus-holding-in-a-fart face.
    – any dope in a hybrid car
    – frizzy and gray-haired people that are extremely skinny that hang around coffee shops
    – anyone in front of a TV that watches shows such as American Idol

    1. avatar schizuki says:

      Careful, you’re giving the “No Hesitation” target makers ideas.

    2. avatar Rokurota says:

      And the problem with hybrids is….?

      1. avatar Air Force TSgt says:

        nothing…. more money to spend on ammo and less money going to our “allies” …

      2. avatar Anmut says:

        I had a 3 cylinder Geo Metro that got 50mpg city in 1997. That’s the problem with hybrids.

      3. avatar Jeff says:

        When you can tell me the environmental and economic impact of producing and disposing of the battery in that hybrid, then you can tell me what’s wrong with hybrids.

    3. avatar Ropingdown says:

      Ferrari has just started to deliver their hybrid, amazingly enough. It’d go with a gun. Without checking, I’d guess it’s 700 hp gas, 21 hp electric.

      1. avatar 16V says:

        100+HP 600+FT/LB sub 60 kg. wheel motors are available right now.

        Even the 918 Porsche is a very average ~500 HP gas + 220 HP electric (and all those fully-available-from-zero torques).

        Oh, and the LaFerrari is about ~800HP gas + ~170HP electric.

    4. avatar Chaz says:

      any dope in a hybrid car

      Oh, there’s some problem with high mileage and easy to park?

      My Prius is a stealth-mobile. This mostly ‘liberal’ town is filthy with them. Town folk may think I’m a ‘liberal’ like them.

      Muhahaha…! ;->

  18. avatar Rokurota says:

    I was inadvertently outed for the first time this week. I was at a church meeting taking off my jacket, when my sweater rode up. I pulled it down, but not before our young vicar burst out, “Are you PACKING?” I was very embarrassed, but I managed a confident, “Yes, I am,” and that was the end of that.

    His surprise probably comes from: 1) his out-of-state origin; 2) the fact that I’m 5′ 7″, Asian and not swagger-ish at all, in other words, so not a “gun guy.” So I’m guessing most strangers wouldn’t make me. On the other hand, a surprising number of men at my church have started up conversations with me involving guns, so maybe there is something “CCW” about me.

    At work, I’m definitely “out,” as we have a major firearms manufacturer as a client, and since I am one of the only senior employees who knows the difference between .40S&W and .357SIG, I am often called to “translate.” No matter. I now organize range outings, and have helped hook several non-gunnies, including two women who are hot to get CCW permits.

    But I try to keep my appearance understated. I never wear gun gear, even from my client, unless I’m going to the range or a competition. (Even then I feel like a poser.) I do have three clips showing on my pockets (knife, pen and light), so if I see someone with a knife clip showing, I figure they may be carrying.

    Then again, maybe something about me does scream “gun.” I wonder if my .357 makes me look fat.

  19. avatar Azimuth says:

    Sorry, but liking guns, shooting guns, carrying open and concealed guns, and writing about that experience, does not make one a “gun guy” or anything of the sort. It only means you like guns. Maybe, for all the wrong reasons? After reading The Atlantic article, I’ve got him down as a guy who likes guns. Why? He asks/talks about the emotional aspect as though that was the main reason why “gun guys” are gun guys. Now there’s a trick. Liberal metrosexuals telling us what they know about guns and gun guys. Well, that’s just funny. Of many things, funny it ain’t.
    For people like me, and nearly everyone I know or shoot with, who grew up with guns, guns are merely tools for doing a particular job, in this case, self defense. Mr. Baum briefly mentions playing the sheepdog role, then asks us if he should run to the sound of the shooting. A true sheepdog already knows the answer to that question, before he decided to carry a firearm. Does Dan know the answer to that question? If you carry, I believe that your response should be an automatic, woof! Personal, or situational liabilities notwithstanding, are you willing to put yourself in harms way…for complete strangers? Would you, would Dan? Given my life experiences, I think I would. I’m sure there are people here who already know.

    The whole Kerouacian road trip makes for an interesting premise, in a limited NYT Sunday Edition; On the Road with Charles Keralt sort of way, but is Dan the road map to a better understanding between liberals and conservatives on the topic of guns, “gun guys,” or the ass-ault weapons elected to Congress now attacking our gun rights? From the tone of The Atlantic article, the book has a lot off ground to cover before I can decide if Dan is really here to help. I have a big problem with his passive/aggressive routine when his cadre of liberal hipster’s s**t on gun owners.
    I mean, who lets their friends s**t on them like that, and still chooses to associate with them? Anyone here…..anyone…anyone…?

    1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

      The Atlantic interview strengthens my opinion that liberal’s lives are full of contradictions. I just don’t see the daily contradictions in non-liberals.

      1. avatar Wylde Chamber says:

        non-liberals – “Dear Gov’t, don’t tell us how to live our lives. Feel free to tell others however what they can’t do with their bodies and personal relationships.”

        1. avatar Silver says:

          The fact that you equate non-liberals with hardline religious Republicans shows a pathetically immature worldview.

      2. avatar 16V says:

        To steal a phrase, abre los ojos.

        As I remember quite clearly, a “conservative” President took away my right to by new auto-guns and another one enthusiastically pushed through and signed Patriot, one of the most vile and greatest acts of high treason in the last 100 years.

        So yeah, I get that Dems are the current pushers of gun confiscation, but the Repubs have very little to help. Very little.

  20. avatar Nazgul says:

    Who cares about trying to spot Gun Guys? I’d rather be looking at hot women (with or without guns).

    1. avatar SGC says:

      We have a winner!!! I’m with the Naz…:)

  21. avatar Tom RKBA says:

    Look for:
    1) the folding knife clipped to either pocket.
    2) any flashlight.
    3) tactical or hunting clothing.
    4) tactical or hunting boots or footwear.
    5) badly concealed handgun on the belt or in a front pocket.
    6) their heightened state of awareness. “Head on a swivel”.
    7) change in attitude or demeanor if you know them.

    1. avatar theaton says:

      Tactical looking pants are everywhere. That is not a good indication of a gun guy. Now if you have a 60s plus guy wearing khakis and wearing a fanny pack, that is a dead give away.

      1. avatar Mosinfan says:

        I work in the medical field and my patients have to change out of their street clothes before seeing me. I get to have several conversations about CCW each month as I get to see what and how my patients carry. (Their clothes and gear stay in the room with them for exams/treatments). “Shoot-me-first-vests” are the number one “I’m carrying” neon sign. Only time I have seen a guy in a vest that wasn’t carrying a gun was a biker in his leathers. (He did, however, have a knife). Number two is any gun/hunting related logos on clothes. These people don’t always carry, but at least own guns. Half of the people I see that carry or are gun enthusiasts do not dress the part. About 1/3 are women. No camo, tactical anything, they blend in well. Sadly, most have little to no training or experience in situational awareness.

  22. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The poseurs? Sure. Easy to spot. They do everything but shout “Look at me! I be ridin’ the drama llama!” There’s some guys who are easier to spot in a crowd than a matador in a convent.

    The serious guys and gals? They’re often damned hard to spot, except for noticing their situational awareness. Quit looking for their rig or a print, and instead look at where their eyes are scanning… and you find out quickly who might be packing. This has turned out to give a much better rate of success, in my experience.

    What’s interesting to notice is the moms who are packing here in Wyoming. Their kids are very well behaved … and also very situationally aware. Those kids notice everything… including me, and I try very hard to not be noticed.

    What the kids sometimes aren’t is subtle: “Mommy, is that man … you know, carrying?

  23. avatar James1000 says:

    Except for the occasional idiot walking around Walmart with a SIGMA 9 dangling from an uncle Mikes holster and not even remotely secured to their front pocket…..no, other then that I can’t tell.

  24. avatar Sosalty Sosauty says:

    My home has NRA stickers right on the window where it would be broken to get at the inside door locks. Both my neighbors, as well as most folks on our street, have been burgularized in the past 2 years, not us. But I carry ever so discreetly.
    Herein lies another issue though. Half our citizens are gun owners with a significant minority actively carrying. I think poloticians and libs believe we’re a smaller minority cause we blend in and often conceal our ability to meet force with force. Me thinks they have underestimated their pro-2A supporters.

  25. avatar Jordan says:

    I figured my flat brim baseball cap, ironic Ts and skinny jeans gave me away as a CCP holder. I guess not!

  26. avatar RealitiCzech says:

    Beards. Guys with beards tend to be gun people.

    Clothing varies a lot from area to area. Mall ninja apparel is very common in some places, so sometimes it’s a useless metric. The 5.11 holster shirt seems to be very blatant mall ninja gear, I’ve had many gun guys come out of the woodwork to ask about it whenever I wear it.

    1. avatar mamabird says:

      Really? “Guys with beards tend to be gun people”? My dad has a beard and he don’t even own a gun. What difference does it make what people wear, or the kind of stickers they have on their windows, or the other things that were mentioned here? It doesn’t matter whether you are a gun person or not. You are just a person. Why do people always have to be labeled?

  27. “Shoot me first” vest. 5.11 pants. Rigger belt. “Operator” hat with flag on velcro.

    …when worn anywhere else but the range or out hunting.

    guilty of all of the above…!

  28. avatar gloomhound says:

    I play the odds and assume everyone I meet is a “gun guy” Seeing as how I live in WV I’ve yet to be wrong.

  29. avatar Bub says:

    Young, tattooed biker. PTA meetings are fun too!

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