It’s been a while since I’ve written here at TTAG. In fact it’s been well over a year since my last post. But I am happy to in form you that I’m back for a weekly column that I’m tentatively calling “Shots Reported,” and for good reason. One of the things I’ll be doing is surveying people and breaking down the results I gather for you. They may be anything from an opinion on a certain carry style or caliber to hard-hitting topics in current politics or philosophy.
For my inaugural column, I decided to go with a controversial topic: carrying and drinking.
Despite the fact that I quit drinking (several times) over the last few years, I know that a great many of us who carry also enjoy a beer or three when we’re out with our family and friends. So I devised a simple survey and headed down to a local joint that I’ve been known to frequent from time to time.
It’s a business that caters to people who partake in American culture and I knew it would be a perfect place to ask patrons a few questions. I didn’t want to go to a sports retailer because I didn’t think that I’d get real results without scrutiny. People tend to get far more hostile about their opinions in gun shops than is necessary.
The survey I issued went like this:
-What are your opinions on carrying a gun while drinking?
-Have you ever had a drink while carrying?
-Do you see a problem with drinking and shooting?
-Have you ever drunk alcohol while shooting?
-Do you think that you would be able to defend yourself if you’d been drinking?
Armed with these questions, I asked away. After a few hours, I had a sample group that was comprised of a mixture of men (30) and women (20). All respondents were granted anonymity to ensure the honesty of answers. The general results of the responses were fascinating.
All but one person had a negative reaction to carrying a gun while drinking. The general responses were along the lines of ‘it’s illegal’ or ‘I wouldn’t want someone to do that around me.’ I take it that this is rooted in deep-set values that demand personal responsibility and accountability to friends and family. This was, without a doubt, the only question that was somewhat black-and-white. The next question went a different way.
Of my fifty respondents, a staggering 80% admitted to drinking while carrying. I asked about the situation, and the response was near universal. “I had a beer or glass of wine with my dinner at a restaurant.”
This is a typical situation for most people. It’s hardly unusual to go down to the local burger joint, get a beer and a burger, and go about the rest of your day with little issue. For most people, a single beer isn’t enough to raise their blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
It varies from state to state, but in her Michigan that’s a BAC of .02%. Having a single beer with a burger and fries, most people will be fine. An average-sized man wouldn’t even be breaking .08% BAC for driving with that meal.
But is it a good idea? Tell me in the comments. The remaining 20% of the people I talked to differed in that they thought it was either situationally appropriate (four individuals) or completely out of the question (six individuals).
When asked if they saw a problem with drinking and shooting, and if they’d ever done it, most said that it wasn’t a great idea, but either had done it themselves or had been around friends while they did. I wasn’t entirely surprised at this, mostly because Michigan has lots of woods and places that people hunt and shoot and drink.
In fact, a full 100% of my group were either ‘guilty of’ or had been a party to drinking in hunting camps. In discussing it with them, the general consensus was that there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Drinking and partying at a deer camp was part of the event. I’m sure that almost everyone in the Midwest knows someone who’s brought a couple brews up to the deer stand.
The final question, the one about self-defense while drinking, produced mixed answers. Five people (10%) said that they thought that they’d face charges if they defended themselves with alcohol in their system and didn’t think it was a good idea. The bulk of individuals (28/56%) said that they’d feel comfortable defending themselves after a normal meal with a beer or glass of wine involved.
I dug a little further in and the consensus was that they shouldn’t have to alter their law-abiding behavior and enjoyment at the price of losing their ability to defend themselves. Seven people (14%) stated that they would never carry a gun because they couldn’t control their drinking in public. The remaining ten (20%) individuals were mixed in response, with all agreeing that they wouldn’t be sure.
With these results in hand, I’ve developed a pretty good picture of attitudes. Very few people have a problem with recreational drinking and shooting. Sportsmen and alcohol have a long history together it doesn’t seem that will end any time soon.
The interesting aspect, at least to me, is that the attitude changes with the severity of the situation. Since we can’t control when life-and-death situations arise, should gun owners always be sober? Some think so, but I’m a realist. That just isn’t going to happen. Should we be defenseless, leaving our guns at home when having fun? Again, some think so.
So what are your thoughts on my little survey? Yay or nay to having a brew or two while packing some heat? I look forward to your answers. In the mean time, feel free to comment with suggestions for more surveys you’d like to see.