In a previous article, I mentioned that I had done a favor by moving a lady and her possessions across the country. The trip became a bit more memorable near the end. In the last hundred miles before the drop off point, I was informed that a prominent outlaw motorcycle gang had found out that she had been in Arizona, and now knew that she was moving back to the Midwest. I was told that she had been instrumental in putting one of the leaders of the group in prison for a few years. I was also assured that they were not interested in me . . .

I asked her about it, and she said that if they were going to do anything to her, it would have happened a long time ago. Part of the goods being moved was a Harley.

I dropped her off, loaded up, and headed back. Crossing northern Texas, I stopped at a Love’s Truck Stop to refuel both vehicle and body. While doing so a Texan came in with a rifle in a rack in his truck. I count that as open carry.

I asked if I could take some pictures. Mr. Kenneth Ware agreed, but he didn’t want his face plastered on the Internet.     He farms three sections of wheat that he and his wife own, debt free. That’s 1,920 acres for people who don’t have a background in surveying. Another way to describe the size of the farm is land that’s one mile deep by three miles wide.   He does most of the work himself. He said he farmed it with antique equipment because a new tractor would cost as much as one of the sections of land.

The rifle was a Winchester model 67 with most of the finish gone. He said it was still accurate enough to pot a rabbit at 100 yards. I said he had good eyes.

He remarked that I was the first person to ask about the rifle. It had belonged to his wife’s grandfather. Her uncle had it until he died at the age of 100. Now he has it. The grandfather probably bought it new as an adult, as the model 67 was introduced in 1934.

It says a lot about a culture that the crime rate is so low that a rifle can be left in a truck rack without much worry. I remember not locking the doors on our house in northern Wisconsin in the 1950’s and ’60s. Vast swaths of the United States are still in that condition.

If you pay attention in the original movie “The Parent Trap“, you will notice a rifle in a truck rack on the California ranch. It appeared to be a Remington .22 to me, but It has been a long time since I saw the picture. “The Parent Trap” came out in 1961. At that time, you could order anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft cannon and ammunition through the mail and have them delivered to your door. I do not recall a single crime being committed with them.

Kenneth appeared to be about 70, because he had a grandson that had graduated from West Point and was now in Baghdad. I asked Kenneth to thank him for his service, and mentioned that I had also been in the Army. I wonder if the grandson had shot his great, great , grandfather’s  rifle. I bet that the West Point officer can shoot.

There are rough estimates that gun owners are about one  third of the U.S. population.   My experience is that the percentage approaches three quarters when you are talking about the military and combat arms.   It is well known that the best places to recruit soldiers and Marines are the rural South, Midwest, and West.   Those places have high concentrations of combat veterans.   Nearly all are members of the gun culture.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

65 Responses to Open Carry at a North Texas Love’s

  1. Rifles and shotgun in pickup truck window racks were ubiquitous when I was growing up in the 60s-70s in the midwest. It was only after smash-and-grab crime started to escalate that they were moved to behind the seat (out of sight, out of mind).

        • I remember that well. I lived there from 1968 to 1978. The only comments I ever heard had to do with banging a gun around in a rack might be hard on the sights.

    • I remember getting on planes back in the late ’50s and seeing guys now and then with holstered six-shooters. The stewardesses didn’t blink; they didn’t start hyperventilating or starting their periods early, or anything; it was all taken in stride.

      Back then, the common goal was that we were all Americans, first. Any religious affiliations took a functional chair in the second row, so to speak.

      BTW, back then, if you didn’t have a jacket and tie, you took the bus or a train. Even coach had a dress code.

    • Yep. Pickup trucks had gun racks (usually with guns) and a CNG (compressed natural gas) tank bolted to the truck bed under the rear window…

      And that was the mid-70’s Southwest Oklahoma…

  2. Now, that was a nice story. Thanks.

    I hope and fight that someday people in my country will be able to tell such stories.

  3. ” I was informed that a prominent outlaw motorcycle gang had found out that she had been in Arizona, and now knew that she was moving back to the Midwest. I was told that she had been instrumental in putting one of the leaders of the group in prison for a few years. I was also assured that they were not interested in me . . .”
    .
    .Always good to ask pertinent questions BEFORE undertaking such a task, my friend.
    .

  4. as Dr. Ben Carson remarked on Fox News the other day, when describing the anti-police culture, let’s remove the police for 24 hrs from the communities that are quick to attack the police and see how their feelings change. I think the same applies to gun culture. Let’s bus in the yoots that the liberals want to protect,save and promote so they can resolve thier own racial guilt. and let’s bus them into the liberals suburbia. and let’s remove all guns by force from suburbia vis-a-vis Boston storm troopers, I mean cops, . . . suddenly, the rural south will seem attractive and maybe Green Acres 2.0 will become a popular tv show

    • I say F yeah. All cops on vacation for a month. All citizen armed and betcha crime drops. Only reason to call them off vacation is to investigate dead criminals.

      The benefits are unclogging the courts, prison population reduction, less parole officers, fewer lawyers, less taxes.

  5. Hell, you can’t leave a Garmin or Tom Tom in your window in cities in Illinois, much less a cased or uncased rifle in the back window. Law violations aside, smash and grabs are common.

    Doubt me? Just go into any pawn shop and see their large collection of GPS units.

    John

    • In some cases, no smashing is necessary, just a “dash”. I’ve heard of teens on bicycles or on foot just grabbing the window-mounted GPS/phones through open windows when folks are stopped at a red light in heavy traffic. What are the drivers gonna do, abandon the vehicle to give chase on foot? Keep this in mind if you use a left-side window-near-the-pillar mount and drive with the window down for any reason…

      • I believe it. Bold, petty thieves in Houston and elsewhere are starting to engage in what’s called on the streets “apple picking.” It’s simple: someone’s chatting away on their cell phone someplace, completely oblivious to their surroundings. A thief sneaks up behind them, snatches the phone right out out of their hand, in mid conversation, and bolts.

        The crime has been caught on surveillance video sometimes. It just happens so quickly that the phone owner has no reaction but surprise.

    • Funny, when we lived in a “gentrifying” area of Jersey City (not gentrified yet), we would sometimes forget the GPS, sunglasses case, etc., and never a problem. Try that in in peaceful Vancouver, Canada where I grew up, and you’ll be robbed in a second. Peacefully of course.

    • I had one stolen from my car, and I guarantee it went to a pawn shop somewhere. After that I started joking that I should leave a sign that says if you want anything from inside the car, call this number and I’ll give it to you, because the window they broke to get the Garmin cost more than the GPS.

      • A similar thing happened to me. Car window smashed so they could steal a portable CD player that was a whopping $19.95 new, and this one was beat up from lots of use.

        The replacement window didn’t fit properly (wrong curvature), and left a half-inch inch gap. It wasn’t covered by insurance either. I then had to drive home cross country across two timezones and into a third, and pray I didn’t encounter any rainstorms. I did have a friend with me, it was possible to get the window to seal if you pushed on the top edge of the glass as you shut the door–impossible to do from the inside! He had to close the door for me every time we finished a gas/bathroom stop.

        All this so some a$$w!pe could MAYBE get a buck for a beat up CD player.

  6. Started life on a small farm in WV. Single shot shotguns and .22’s were practically standard issue there. The older standard cab fors pickups that my dad liked had the flip forward seat. There was enough room behind the seat to scabbard up a long gun. Seen it done with everything including .30-30’s, the old timers assualt rifle.

  7. This was very common where I grew up in rural North Florida in the late 70s. There were no thefts that I recall. I mean, who would be stupid enough to steal from someone who likely had another gun available?

    Oh, yeah, forget I asked that question…

  8. When I was a city prosecutor, about once a month an irate and surprised victim would come in the courtroom complaining that her purse had been stolen from the from the front seat of her car while she was in court. “Lady,” I’d say, “this is a criminal court. We have thieves, wife-beaters, drunks, and liars all over the place here-and that’s just the lawyers!”

    • You win the Internets for today.

      In Vancouver the Criminal Court, the Jail, the main Police Station, the Needle Exchange, and the heart of skid row (aka Dowtown East Side) are all within 4 square blocks. Very convenient – no commute for criminals.

  9. It is extremely common to see rifles and shotguns on gun racks in pickup trucks in my state. It did not get its nickname “The Sportsman’s Paradise” by accident. Either there is hunting: deer, duck, dove, alligator, feral hogs, etc. or personal or family protection, but guns are seen at every truck stop in my area. In fact, the truck stop close to a main road has all its employees trained and wearing holstered pistols in open carry, which is legal in my state. Not to see that would be very abnormal.

  10. Truck looks about as old as the rifle. I remember getting a GMC farm truck back in the 60’s it was as plane as you could get it. No radio, rubber carpet, bench seat. It wasn’t made for looks or comfort but it got the job done. Carried a .22 Walthers Nazi Youth training rifle in the rifle rack for the life of the truck. At 100 yards that old Walthers could put five rounds within 1/2 inch of each other. Must have been more than twelve dozen people ask me if it was a Maser. That rifle was responsible for killing probably over two hundred coyotes and no telling how many Jackrabbits. Nailed one Jack at over 300 yards with it. Probably luck but at the time I wasn’t saying so. Got down in my heels in early 2000 and sold it for $200.00 the dealer said it was all it was worth. Still think I got robbed. Before any of you get upset over my killing Coyotes or Jack Rabbits, let me tell you. They were responsible for most of the chickens disappearing from the farm, couple of sheep and even a new born calf. A jack could eat his weight in alfalfa in one night, and when there are a hundred or so of them critters they can put you out of business pretty damn quick.

    • Business is business and it’s your livelihood that feeds your family. Can’t fault a man for that. You just have to be careful sometimes, though, because it’s possible to upset the local ecosystem to the point of fostering unintended consequences.

      For example, plenty of people will hunt king snakes and opossums on their land. That’s fine, up to a point, that point being when there are too few king snakes and opossums to keep the coral snake population in check. Coral snakes are highly venomous, though unfortunately for them, their major predators, king snakes and opossums, are immune to their venom. Some property owners in Texas with larger parcels and coral snake infestations have been known to reintroduce king snake and/or opossum couples to restore balance.

  11. It’s like hunting, which is supposedly considered a “protected class” of gun owners by the liberal elite. I have worked out in the country here and have seen lots of little boys driving around unsupervised on their ATVs with .22 rifles, looking for possums and such. Even as common and ordinary as this is to us, that doesn’t stop them from attacking the culture by proposing bans on kids hunting, calling them “children with guns” and implying they are just as bad as inner city gang bangers. And I don’t have to tell anyone here what they think about ADULTS who hunt. I don’t imagine the opposition would see this story and think “he’s a farmer, he can have a gun.” When the time comes for them to “do something!” he will just be an “old redneck” who probably lynched black people when he was a kid, and therefore deserves no special exemption from unconstitutional laws. Remember, Cliven Bundy was a rancher.

  12. In Rural NE OH on the Penn border growing up the HS parking lot had several trucks with guns in gun racks. The boys liked to do hunting before or after school, no one gave it a second glance. This was before Columbine but after the AWB

    • I remember in middle school in the 1980s it was very common in woodshop for boys to build gun racks. You’d probably get suspended and sent to counseling today even for proposing that as your project.

      Also, we used to take our pellet guns to school so we could shoot after school in the adjacent field and marsh for rats, snakes, field mice, whatever. Now, we weren’t stalking the halls with them, of course, but they were in our backpacks or in little nylon rifle carrying cases and stored in our lockers. Never was an issue. Today, that would be called a felony. But back then? I guess we just called it Wednesday.

    • I remember rifles on rack in the back window of pick-ups during deer season back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. No one thought anything of it, then Columbine happened. After that we couldn’t even bring pocket knives into shop class.

  13. “That’s 1,960 acres for people who don’t have a background in surveying.”
    Actually, that’s 1,920 acres for those who don’t have a background in math.

  14. Three sections (three square miles) would total 1,920 acres by my calculation (640 acres/square mile).

    The urbanites and suburbanites of the US, both pro- and anti- gun rights, would do well to spend some time in rural communities. The openly visible guns would scare the crap out of the antis, and the fact that they aren’t all secured in a safe would scare the crap out of the urban gun owners.

  15. Got my Mom’s Model 67. The trigger pivots on a pin thru the stock. It shoots great. The gun is more accurate than most people can shoot. Cheers!

  16. we had guns in class in elementary school, had an indoor range in HS,,, 40 miles from downtown LA. Rifles in trucks at work meant nothing. Still had guns in trucks until the Libs grabbed the state .Guv where I now live

  17. Seriously RF fire the company that does the ads.from the time it took me to read the article to finish this comment I’ve been redirected to the google play store 4 times for farmville 2 and 2 times for the Sims.

        • Thanks for the recommendation. But TTAG’s advertising agency has been an issue before even causing the mobile site to crash when using Google’s browser. The advertising agency isnt monitoring how their clients are advertising and thats going to drive new readers away. Why would anyone who just found this blog think “hey I should download an ad blocker just so I can actually manage to read one article that I just stumbled upon”

        • Because anyone who uses a web browser will want to download an ad and popup blocker sooner or later.

  18. Got me two vintage Remington 22’s: a Speedmaster from 1967 and a 512 bolty from 1941.

    Ain’t a chance in hell I’d ever hang one of them in my windows, let alone leave it in the car in the open for someone to make off with.

    That’s like putting one of my kids on display. Not no way, not no how.

    But I live in St. Louis, so go figure.

    And by the way: a single shot, 22LR, open sights, picking off a rabbit at 100 yards? Am I the only one that finds that impressive?

    How big is this rabbit? Is that one of them Texas Jackrabbits? That “creature” that everyone keeps seeing, can’t think of the name for the life of me.

  19. I’d say the ownership levels are higher than a third. I live in Washington and Elway polling conducted a poll regarding support for I-591 and I-594, along with that they asked respondents whether or not they had a firearm in their household. 49% said no, 35% said yes and 15% refused to answer either way. With a 4.5% margin of error on the polling I think we can take a decent stab at true firearm ownership levels. Based on my own sentiments, and the sentiments I have observed of money gun owners, I would be willing to bet money that a significant portion of those who refused to answer do in own weapons.

    So Washington potentially has firearm ownership up to 50%. My money is that true percentage is somewhere between 40 to 45%. Washington is 36th in terms of gun ownership, or in the 4th quintile. Something for the anti-gunners to chew on.

    • I believe that you are correct. My recollection of the statistics is that the percent of respondents claiming ownership of firearms goes up when there has not been any mention of “gun control” for a few years, while it goes down when “gun control” is in the news.

      There is also an inverse relationship with the actual sale of firearms. Surprisingly (or not) the number of people claiming ownership goes down as the number of firearm sales skyrockets!

  20. I graduated from high school in 1982, from a rural district in east central Oklahoma. I nearly always had either a rifle or shotgun and at least one knife in my vehicle, along with a chainsaw, an axe, a maul, and several wedges for splitting wood.

    I was a normal kid for the time and place.

  21. It’s kind of sad if a pickup with a rifle rack, in Texas, is a notable thing. I grew up in Texas and pickups with rifles and shotguns in a rack were so common, you didn’t even look twice when you saw one.

  22. Thanks for that article. That picture took me back to my Air Force days. That was a common sight in the Dakotas in the 1970s. People teased me all the time because I always locked the car.

    And concerning the farmer, I used to hunt on farmers’ and ranchers’ land that was typically four sections or more. They never had a problem with letting “one of the boys from the base” hunt antelope or deer or pheasant or rabbit, as long as we didn’t shoot the place up and left gates the way they were when we got there. They were right happy if we reduced the coyote or antelope population, since these were informally considered pests locally.

  23. i overheard a texan describing his weekly rounds surveying the perimiter of his ranch. he claimed to need all of four days to complete his rounds, with a layover near each corner of his property.
    non- plussed, the vermonter he was relating this to commented, “i had a truck like that once.”

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