Last year, on the way the Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), I had an unexpected encounter at a diner in central Texas. I rode my motorcycle to that GRPC. This year I took my truck to the conference in Chicago. I have friends and family in Wisconsin who I wanted to visit, as well as some items that would have been less comfortable to carry on two wheels. This year my chance encounter happened after the conference . . .
I was traveling up I-90/94 when I decided to stop for dinner on the northern edge of the Wisconsin Dells. Last year I had parked my motorcycle at that Denny’s for lunch. There had been a lot of construction then. Now, a year later, the construction had been completed. I grew up in Wisconsin and have followed their fight to restore Second Amendment rights in their state. I knew it was legal to open carry, so that’s what I did. I noticed that one of the customers “made” me as I came in the door and sat down in a booth. His booth was adjacent to mine, but I faced his back as he faced away from me.
I wondered if he would say something to me. He had that self confident look that made me wonder if there might be a verbal exchange.
It’s hard to read the back of a head. The waitress had delivered my coffee and I was trying to relax and rest up for the next leg of my trip. Then he put on his hat. On the back of it was a Gadsden flag. I opened by mouth and said, “I like your hat.” He turned around and we started talking.
He had just come up from Chicago, he said. So had I, I remarked. He had attended a conference. So had I. He sat in the back row of the GRPC. I sat in the front.
By now, we were friends. We traded cards and experiences. He had come to Chicago through Indiana, stopping at the last rest stop before the Illinois border to stow his carry gun. He said that he saw several cars that were stopped and doing the same thing; holsters coming off, guns being unloaded and stowed to be sure of compliance with the law.
I had followed the Illinois fight to restore rights closely, and I had read the law. If you could carry legally elsewhere, you dd not have to unload as you travel through Illinois. Gun culture members are careful and law abiding, and they know that there can be a difference between the law on the books and how it’s interpreted on the street. The law is still fairly new, so it makes sense to be cautious. Don is a great guy, and I hope to see him again.
The old media has worked hard to convince the gun culture that we are marginalized and isolated. We sometimes worry enough about harassment to avoid putting on bumper stickers or wearing a pin. From Don’s picture, you can see that he’s not shy about his views. I was openly carrying. Everyone has to evaluate their own situation.
I have found that we are not isolated, we are not alone, our views are very much mainstream, not out of date and dying out. There are friends and allies all around us. Sometimes you find them in unexpected places. Don struck me as the kind of man you could trust at your back. Maybe a Gadsden flag pin, or a Second Amendment bumper sticker is something I should try.
The more I look for friends and allies, the more I find them. I have decided not to let those who want to destroy the gun culture decide who is mainstream and who is not.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.