A Chance Encounter at a Wisconsin Diner

Don Hosmer

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.
Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar LongBeach says:

    In my (admittedly limited) personal experience, people with Gadsden flag stickers/pins/tattoos/apparel, and/or paracord bracelets are 2nd amendment supporters. I haven’t found an exception yet. The paracord is a bit more subtle way to denote firearms ownership than other methods. I do wear the bracelet, but don’t yet have any Gadsden flag stickers on my truck.

  2. avatar Mike says:

    I have really started bringing firearms up in conversation lately to gauge reactions. Surprisingly, even in the suburbs of Chicago where I live, I have not talked to a single person who thought owning a gun was abnormal or bad. Some are very uneducated (as was I before I delved into the lifestyle) and nervous about them, but none have an attitude that can’t be swayed. I was even shocked when my wife’s very liberal friend from NJ agreed to let her husband get one for home defense.

    1. avatar FoRealz? says:

      “Agreed to let her husband get one”

      I chuckle a lil bit. But good for him. 🙂

    2. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      I’ve met a few men over the years that really want to buy some guns but their wives refuse to allow one in the house. Their wives believe the anti gun cool aid that having a gun in the house means it will walk around the house loading itself and shooting everyone. It’s unfortunate. My wife, from europe, was anti gun until she found out if I couldn’t have guns I wasn’t getting married. Now almost four years later she wants to learn how to shoot.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        My wife’s dad had a few guns, mostly an SKS and a 700, shot both a few times, but that was about it for her experience. We weren’t gun owners when we got together, but I was certainly a fan long before. She was very uneasy with the thought of a gun in the house, thought they were dangerous, etc. It was just that she was uneducated and mostly exposed to the crap fed via media corporations and hollywood. Luckily she did have a lot of redneck friends and we went shooting with them a couple times. I finally got around to buying my own handgun for HD earlier this year (now that we’re no longer broke) and I’ve been teaching her everything I can about it, from the 4 Rules to cleaning. She’s gotten very good with it at the range. Now she’s beyond stoked to get her own this month. After testing some rentals, she’s decided, on her own accord, on the M&P9. And he’s pestering me to take her to the range again, this weekend. She was also completely closed to the idea of a long gun in the house before, but after I got a Mosin and the fact that now my mom has a 12ga and I’m building two ARs, including one specifically for her, she’s really come around. I caught her browsing the firearms section of a local pawnshop website the other day. I’m so proud 🙂

      2. avatar Bob92 says:

        I have experience with this. Have your wife attend a woman’s only basic pistol course that is taught by a woman. Keep her away from the tacticool instructors that fancy themselves as drill instructors. Do everything at her pace with only the most subtle nudges. Have her choose her own firearm and accessories. It is likely that she will shoot better than you, which requires a lot of praise. Start her with low recoil calibers, and work your way up. Before she chooses a firearm, go to a range that rents guns, and rent everything that fits her hand. Many men who sell guns are absolute jerks, and women pick up on that immediately. Shop around for a decent gun store, and zero in on women who sell guns. When your wife is working with a female gun sales clerk, walk to the other side of the store letting them talk, gossip, and compare guns. If you can hear them talk as they criticize men, especially husbands, you are too close. Firearms is a personal journey, and the more you respect that, the better. You can point her to the right people to help her, but stay out of the way. My wife started with a .22 caliber target pistol, and now she owns several full sized and compact 9mm pistols. I recently bought an AR-15, and she likes it so much, I am sure she is planning to buy one for herself.

        1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

          Outstanding advice! I instruct both men and women, and that works quite well out here, but I have taught a good number of ladies, one to one, who were very fearful of guns or had been brutalized by some rambo instructor.

          Women can and do overcome the unfortunate indoctrination and fear, and many come to shoot well and enthusiastically, but it’s a process. Women learn differently than men do, generally, and if an instructor does not address that, they will not be efffective.

        2. avatar fanfare ends says:

          Great post, make it into a brief article!

  3. avatar Mediocrates says:

    I was picking up some ground coffee and k-cups at Wally-world and saw a customer with a t-shirt that that said “We the People are packing heat.

    Made me chuckle.

  4. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    “I noticed that one of the customers “made” me as I came in the door”, another way of saying; “I drew the desired amount of attention to myself by openly displaying a firearm and ceding all the tactical advantage afforded by carrying concealed which tilts the odds in favor of the responsible armed citizen who actually carries for the purpose of protecting their life or the lives of others in the event of a violent encounter requiring the use of deadly force.”

    1. avatar FoRealz? says:

      Yawn.

      Your butt hurt. It bores me.

      To each their own. I’m no huge proponent of open carry, but c’mon. Plate carrier and AR at Starbucks -retarded. Pistol on the hip as you go about your day – whatevers.

      1. avatar Mediocrates says:

        LMAO. You know… Because open carrying a pistol is such an attention gathering exercise. {rolls eyes}

        1. avatar Grindstone says:

          About as attention-seeking as a scoop-neck shirt and some tight jeans.

          It’s just how some people like to dress.

        2. avatar Ted Unlis says:

          So Grindstone, do you color coordinate your gun and grips with your shirt and shoes? A nickel plated pistol with matching conchos? Authentic western attire to compliment a snazzy hand tooled leather rig? Pardon me for laughing, and even though it provides a compelling argument about folks who probably don’t need to be carrying a gun period, open or concealed, the concept of rationalizing open carry as a fashion statement is too funny.

        3. avatar Grindstone says:

          I carry two Glocks in shoulder rigs, but you can’t see them under my trench coat. But my fedora sure is snazzy.

        4. avatar NotoriousAPP says:

          I think Ted was birthed from Shannon Watt’s vagina. A vaginal Watt troll.

      2. avatar Ted Unlis says:

        If a person wants to open carry because it makes them feel invincible or gives them a thrill, what the hell, go for it. I can promise you I’ll never throw in with the gun haters who lose their minds any time they hear the words “Open Carry”. That being said, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s smart. Even though I support the rights of those who enjoy or need the attention to legally open carry to their little hearts desire, those of us who actually carry for defensive purposes know that concealed carry is one of several factors that increase the likelihood of survival in an armed encounter.

        1. avatar NV says:

          I open carry as a deterrent. Show me ONE story where an open carrier was targeted and harmed because he was open carrying.

          Same old bullpap of CC vs. OC.

        2. avatar Matt in TX says:

          Ted Unlis – “I can promise you I’ll never throw in with the gun haters who lose their minds any time they hear the words “Open Carry””

          You already have. You are either a troll or a member of the “I respect the 2nd Amendment, but! crowd. Both I bet.

        3. avatar Ted Unlis says:

          NV and Matt, like I said, just because it’s legal doesn’t change the fact that in most cases open carry is really stupid. As far as deterrent, a determined criminal turd is just as likely to perceive someone openly carrying as the fool to take out first. No way around it, when everyone around you knows your armed and you don’t know if any of them are armed, they have the advantage and you’re not a deterrent, you’re a target.

        4. avatar Defens says:

          I open carry while out hiking in the National Forests that practically surround my home. The firearm is usually my S&W 329 with a DeltaPoint on it, in a custom field holster. It’s a bit difficult to conceal while wearing backpacks with hip belts and chest straps, so I don’t even try. It’s also much quicker to access if I need to do so in a hurry – for attacks of any kind.

          When my wife and I stop by the local grocery store or burger joint after one of our excursions, I don’t bother to cover it up either, unless I’m wearing a jacket, ’cause, say, it’s cold or raining out. I don’t flaunt it and am not out seeking attention – it’s just the way it goes out in the woods. I’ve never had a single negative comment or “look”, but plenty of positive ones.

          When I head into Seattle, I carry concealed. Different regions, different cultures, different methods. One size does not fit all.

        5. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

          Ted Unlis, why the prejudice?

          “in most cases open carry is really stupid”

          Because … you don’t like it? Because of a mythical “tactical advantage” of being able to draw slower and carry a smaller gun with fewer rounds? Because of (as NV said) the assertion without proof that open carriers are targeted?

          “If a person wants to open carry because it makes them feel invincible or gives them a thrill, what the hell, go for it.”

          We don’t open carry for the thrill of it, or because it makes us feel invincible. We open carry for the same reason many people concealed carry – self-defense. You not accepting that fact does not make it any less true. You sound as bad as the anti-gun folks who believe that all gun owners are out to kill someone and/or compensating for undersized “equipment.”

          What would be the point of a reporter writing a story: “Man carries gun, nothing happens”

          It’s not reported because, of course, there’s nothing to report. Plenty of people open carry every day without incident. Many people don’t notice.

          “No way around it, when everyone around you knows your armed and you don’t know if any of them are armed, they have the advantage and you’re not a deterrent, you’re a target.”

          Please provide proof that open carriers are being targeted. We’re still waiting for something more than an assertion.

        6. I open carry mostly for political reasons. The chance of a defensive use for any kind of carry is small, while the ability to make a political statement is common, even ubiquitous.

          Carrying a firearm is strong, symbolic, protected political speech, an exercise of your first amendment rights as well as your second amendment rights.

          You ignore all the attacks that occur *because* the person concealed carried, instead of open carried. There have been a number of attacks that happened *because* the attacker did not know the person was armed, and a number of incidents where attacks *did not* occur because the person was openly carrying.

          It is hard to quantify these incidents, and say for certain that one method is always superior. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

        7. avatar AndrewPVD says:

          But Ted, he WAS wearing a “Patriot” Hat!

          OBVIOUSLY he had the ‘Merican tactical advantage!

    2. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      Oh good grief, Ted, that’s just hokey comment board argy-bargy.

      You’ve just picked up on an idea that sounds plausible and appealing, so now you’re running with it to sound relevant, even authoritative. Don’t. I doubt you’ve even considered the counterargument, and I’m willing to bet money that you’ve read no serious research investigating actual DGU outcomes of open vs. concealed carriers.

      I’m not saying it isn’t a worthy discussion to have, it is, but declaring like Moses fresh from the Mount that this is great and that is bad and blah blah blah…..is just, as the kids say, or used to say, retarded.

    3. avatar PeterZ in West Tennessee says:

      The clear implication I got from Dean was that he did not have a WI ccp, so his only option was open carry, which is legal for all non-prohibited persons in WI.

    4. avatar protaganis says:

      Except that if you aren’t sure about concealed carry reciprocity for Wisconsin, carrying open is your best legal recourse. Better free and legal than risk jail time and felony idiocy. Now let’s move on from the mall ninja tomfoolery.

  5. avatar PerplexedPistolero says:

    I was eating with my folks at an In-N-Out somewhere in the paranoid metro mass that is Southern California. We’d just had a wonderful range day and were talking calibers, pistols and just about anything else that came to mind. We get up to leave, the people in the booth behind say simply: it’s nice to hear someone else around here with an interest in guns. We spend another ten minutes talking guns before leaving. The more I talk about it, the more friends I find. I don’t mean acquaintances, I mean friends.

    1. avatar brentondadams says:

      That’s because gun people are good people.

      Even that guy you know, you know who Im talking about.. He’s a good guy too deep down.

      Anyone that is safe and responsible with their firearms and supports the bill of rights and the Second Amendment is a defacto good person.

      There I said it. I haven’t been proven wrong yet.

      1. avatar Wesley T. Hartman says:

        The klansmen at the last Indy 1500 I went to would beg to disagree. That said, I agree that the majority of 2nd Amendment supporters are good people. I just wouldn’t say all of them.

        1. avatar Fed Up says:

          When did “klansmen”, the inventors of anti-gun laws, become 2A supporters?
          You just call them 2A supporters because they’re fat old white guys?
          AFAIK, the last thing the sheetheads want is for “N***ers” to bear arms.

  6. avatar jwm says:

    For 20+ years I yucked it up about guns at a public school system in the heart of the bay area, CA. I noticed a trend before my retirement. The old entrenched berkely dogma held sway with the old line teachers. But the new kids coming in were much more open minded about guns.

    Saturday, returning from a quail hunting expedition. Dropping a hunting buddy off in berkely, the heart of darkness for gun owners. Round the corner to his house and his block is swarming with bpd. With a little nervesnous I pull up amongst them and begin unloading obvious cased guns and hunting gear.

    Female bpd sergeant asked us what we were hunting and how was our luck. We stood talking hunting and fishing with her until she was called off.

    Even here we have friends.

  7. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    It’s a good article, Dean. It’s easy, too easy sometimes, to start to feel like you’re alone in the wilderness and out of touch with mainstream America, all because you believe in and accept your responsibility to prepare for your own self-defense. This is a cultural battle than transcends open/concealed carry or even being pro/anti-gun, per se. This is about an individual’s freedom to choose for himself vs. his countryman’s power to choose for him.

  8. avatar Rokurota says:

    Gun culture is one thing that can bridge age divides. A disabled war vet up the street rolled by my house and somehow we got to talking guns (The Infidel patch on his hat was a tip-off). Last weekend my boys and I went over and gave his dogs some exercise. We’re all going shooting together soon, since he can’t get to the range by himself.

    1. avatar Taylor TX says:

      You got my vote for TTAG feel good story of the day.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    I sure can relate to the Illinois thing. I live south of Chicago. Most of Illinois outside of the city is pro-gun. My friends in Kankakee hunt, shoot at the NRA range and have dozens of guns each. And there’s a lot of them outside Chicago. Even in Cook County,Illinois most I talk to are pro-gun. Chance encounter-nah.

  10. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    This past summer I made a tee shirt online with the Mauser logo on it for fun. Then I decided to conduct a little experiment by wearing it in public in NJ and Texas to see if people caught on. In Texas I either got silent nods of approval or college kids asking me what country the Mauser soccer team is from which made me laugh, but in NJ I literally had guys young and old walk up to me and shake my hand like I was a long lost brother with ear-to-ear grins. It made me realize how tight knit we are in the hell-hole states because we all had to suffer through the same crap just to own a gun or drive ungodly commutes just to go shooting, so it really is a labor of love.

  11. avatar aaronw says:

    I call wearable items like these, “recognition totems” and it’s always interesting to see how people react to mine. Commenting on someone else’s “gun flair” has often led me to some enjoyable conversations.
    On a Manhattan subway a Korean War veteran’s eye lit up when he saw my pewter AR-15 and M1 Garand pins. Even as he exited the train car and melted into the crowd, he was crowing about the groups he shot at 500 yards during bootcamp…

  12. avatar Roscoe says:

    “…we are not alone, our views are very much mainstream…”

    Not according to the anti-gun crowd and the legacy liberal ‘mainstream’ media that promotes the antis’ cause and is working to hoodwink the uninformed public.

    Course, the antis and media liars don’t bother to ask the rest of us since no one else’s opinion matters but their own.

    Nice story and good point.

    Thanks!

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