How We View People Carrying Firearms Depends On Who We Are

The Eye of the Beholder courtesy saatchiart.com

By MarkPA

Each of us has opinions about whether others ought to have guns. These sentiments are very much cultural and often irrational. There are also sub-cultures who hold radically different sentiments even though they are parts of the same society. To explore this, let’s study two nations and cultures, the United States and Mexico.

In America, uniformed police routinely carry guns openly. In most of the country, it’s rare to see civilians openly carrying firearms within municipalities. Consequently, the great majority of citizens think nothing of seeing armed police, but are apt to be surprised to see a civilian carrying openly in a city.  

Now, let’s turn to an exceptional sub-culture. Consider the adherents of the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of this sub-culture have a heightened fear of the police, especially because they are armed. There can be disagreement about how rational that fear should be. The fact is that they feel what they feel and these sentiments are based on their very personal life experiences. This is also just the way it is for the vast majority of citizens who have not suffered from their encounters with armed police.

This author, as the preeminent authority on his own sentiments, is one of the vast majority of Americans who think nothing of seeing armed police. Even so, I can empathize with the sentiments of BLM adherents.

Turning to Mexico, uniformed police likewise carry guns openly. In Mexican municipalities it is unheard of to see a civilian openly carrying a gun (unless he is a uniformed private security guard.) Thus far, U.S. and Mexican practices of open carry of firearms are similar. A very important difference is the civilian population’s view of their police forces. The overwhelming majority of Mexican citizens have strong reservations about the propensity for violence by police forces.

The author is deeply immersed in both cultures and is familiar with the sentiments of these cultures. I am also well-acquainted with the sentiments of civilian gun owners and carriers. But I accept the fact that uniformed police will be armed whether anyone likes it or not. And I have experienced stressful encounters with armed Mexican police officers.

I once had a traffic accident in a Mexican resort city. It was my fault—I inadvertently drove straight through an intersection and went the wrong way down a one-way street. A little old lady crossing at the next intersection crashed her motor scooter into, and partly under, my vehicle. The police were summoned and an armed officer arrived to take charge of the accident investigation. The evidence weighed heavily against me.

I was acutely aware of the fact that the officer was armed (and, of course, I was not.) However, I was reassured about his competence, integrity and reliability by his professional demeanor throughout the encounter. He prepared the paperwork and explained in detail the formalities for disposing of my infraction. My expectations were confirmed at the conclusion of the encounter. We settled the matter according to culturally established local norms and parted ways. No surprises whatsoever, and zero concern on my part about the fact that he was armed.

What are the differences in how people feel about encountering armed strangers, whether a cop in America, in Mexico, or elsewhere in the world versus civilians?

My own feelings are consistent. I don’t care whether the stranger is armed or not, whether he is a police officer or a civilian. Armed or not, his demeanor is the only thing that influences me.

Others’ sentiments will be based on their own life experiences. But no one can really know the exact jeopardy posed by an encounter with a stranger. That the stranger is wearing a uniform proves little. An American BLM adherent will experience apprehension from a uniformed armed cop that a native of a Latin American country would experience in the same situation in his neighborhood. The reasons for their feelings are similar even though the broader cultures and motivations of the individuals are very different.

Not being uniformed is similarly not determinative. I encountered two openly-armed women not in uniform in “gun-free” New Jersey, one in a court house and another in a coffee shop. The armed woman in the court house assured me that she was not a police officer. The coffee shop patron claimed to be a detective. Regardless of supposed “gun free” laws, one should never assume that civilian strangers are unarmed. They could be carrying concealed firearms legally or not.

I nearly always carry, concealed. No one I encounter shows the slightest fear of my presence. It doesn’t cross their minds to wonder whether I’m armed.

How concerned should we be about how our fellow citizens feel about people they encounter being armed? We should be more concerned about our fellow citizens going unarmed into parking garages. Mrs. Dustin Friedland, whose husband was gunned-down before her eyes in a Short Hills, New Jersey parking ramp by Hanif Thompson in December, 2013, must have strong feelings.

We should be concerned about how Amanda Collins feels, who was raped by James Biela in sight of the closed-for-the-night campus police department on October 22, 2007. Although she had a Nevada carry permit, the University of Nevada-Reno forbade on-campus carry. UNV only begrudgingly granted her special permission to carry after she was raped because she “felt terrified to go on campus.”

We know how Ms. Collins feels about being deprived of the means of effective self-defense. We won’t ever know how Briana Denison might feel that Amanda didn’t have a gun on October 22. Because Amanda couldn’t stop Biela, he went on to kidnap, rape and murder Briana near campus in January 2008.

How do each of us feel about the possibility that strangers in our midst might be armed? That’s all about culture. It’s far more important how we feel about not being armed in the midst of strangers who are.

 

’MarkPA’ is trained in economics, a life-long gun owner, NRA Instructor and Massad Ayoob graduate. He is inspired by our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and holds that having the means to defend oneself and one’s community is vital to securing them.

This post originally appeared at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Open carry, concealed carry, I really don’t care if we can get to 50% on the street are armed. Crime and mass shootings will cease, nearly completely, except for those who are suicidal, who will be served promptly.

  2. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

    “We settled the matter according to culturally established local norms and parted ways.”

    Over or under five hundred bucks? 😉

    And curious, would you visit that same resort today?

    1. avatar Bloving says:

      Dammit, Geoff! Ya beat me to It!
      We just know that meant “bribe”, didn’t we?
      🤠

      1. avatar Imayeti says:

        “La mordida” in Spanish. A little bite means a little part of the action.

    2. avatar MarkPA says:

      Under; “a precios populates”. Absolutely YES! Lovely place. Have 2 vacations booked to the same area.

  3. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    I dont fear anyone who carries a gun. Openly or in uniform. Here in Florida you can spot the plain closed detective by his dress a thousand miles away. Open Hawian shirt and t-shirts for the most part.
    I carry a gun 20/7 or any time Im awake practically.
    I carry concealed and dress the same every day.
    No one in over 25 years has ever asked or said a word to me.
    Except back in NY in the 90s. I have a NYS carry permit too. An old friend who I hadn’t seen in years. Gave me a hug, and then said is that a gun?? I actually answered affirmative and then changed the subject.
    That’s it in all my carrying days. No one cares here in Florida or so it seems. Or in Upstate NY. Look the part dress well enough no one asks. Whether they see my extra mag in its horizontal carrier next to my phone or the loops of my IWB. Not a word has ever been said to me.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      Hawaiian shirts? So Floridian fashion really is stuck in the world of 80s action movies and cop shows… I do remember that story on here about the fat federal agent who shot himself at an airport or whatever, and he was wearing an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt and a fudd vest over that. When I see plainclothes cops it’s usually around courts (and my uncle who used to be a sheriff’s deputy) and they all wear blue dress shirts with black pants and sportcoats.

      For the record, I do sometimes wear unbuttoned short-sleeve shirts over a t-shirt or wifebeater in the summer, but I’m no cop.

      1. avatar Bruce Clark says:

        I can assure you, North of the Keys nobody wears printed Floral Hawaiian shirts anymore. I haven’t seen one in years. If you see somebody dressed in one they’re most assuredly a tourist, probably from Canada. As far as the subject matter of this article goes, I carry daily and I have complete trust of others around me that do so. It’s more of a mindset than anything else. And I look at it as they’ve got my back, and I have theirs. As hard as the police try, they just can’t always be there for us which is completely understandable. So I live by, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. As far as the authors justification and almost glorification of BLM activities, I disagree. It’s my belief that they cause more problems and more issues than they’re worth. If police shootings were running rampant then I could justify someone like BLM “rising up angry”. But the amount of people that are killed each year unjustifiably by the police doesn’t even come close to the number police that are killed unjustifiably by criminals.

  4. avatar 16V says:

    What a waste of electrons….

    Here’s the summation in a few lines. Everybody that you/we don’t want to be armed, is .

    Mexico, US? Matters little, irrefutably the bad guys got gats.

    This is joke of an “article” is what happens when you pay kids by the word….

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    How We View People Carrying Firearms Depends On Who They Are

    FIFY

  6. avatar bob says:

    I don’t trust anybody, I feel better if I am armed, at least that way I can level the playing field if there is aggression toward me.
    I cannot stress how wrong it is that a person who is trusted to carry in their state is not trusted to carry in another state. I just cannot wrap my head around grown adults believing someone would become a criminal because they cross state lines.

    As for other countries, same statement, I trust nobody and would prefer to carry my own protection.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Bob,

      I just cannot wrap my head around grown adults believing someone would become a criminal because they cross state lines.

      Well first of all, in many cases we are talking about “grown adults” who have a physical age over 18 years old and a mental developmental age that is three years old — which allows for their “magical thinking” that laws, “firearms prohibited” signs, and well-wishes will abate violent criminals.

      The rest of the cases do not believe any such thing at all. Rather, they are petty-tyrants who get-off on dictating what other people can and cannot do.

      Regarding people who oppose our right to keep and bear arms: their opposition is NOT based on truth and what is right. Their position is based on emotion, virtue, and/or evil desires. The sooner that everyone understands and accepts this, the sooner that we can update our strategy.

      1. avatar Bruce Clark says:

        “Gun control has nothing to do about guns, and everything to do with control”. You see it’s really pretty simple, if the Sheep carry guns, it makes the Wolves job so much harder to control each and every aspect of American life. 2nd amendment or not, it doesn’t matter a damned to me. I will continue to be armed anytime I want to be, until they pry it out of my cold dead hands. And I trust there are 10’s of millions of others just like me in this country. Besides, any and all talk about gun control is all BS, as long as the sale of guns and ammo is still such a money maker for Republicans and Democrats politicians it will continue well into the future. With one hand of the politicians taking money from those who want to ban Gun’s while the other hand takes money from those who support the 2nd amendment. It’s just all smoke and mirrors folks.

  7. avatar GS650G says:

    I don’t fear those who carry. Now if they point it at me that’s another story.

  8. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Each of us has opinions about whether others ought to have guns. These sentiments are very much cultural and often irrational.

    I was acutely aware of the fact that the [Mexican police] officer was armed … However, I was reassured … by his professional demeanor throughout the encounter. … No surprises whatsoever, and zero concern on my part about the fact that he was armed.

    I don’t care whether the stranger is armed or not, whether he is a police officer or a civilian. Armed or not, his demeanor is the only thing that influences me.

    But no one can really know the exact jeopardy posed by an encounter with a stranger. That the stranger is wearing a uniform proves little.

    BOOM!!!

    Those are some HUGE truth bombs right there!

  9. avatar little horn says:

    wait what? each person has their own unique view point created by their unique individual experiences?? NEWS FLASH

  10. avatar ChanceMcCall says:

    “We settled the matter according to culturally established local norms and parted ways.”

    The best laugh I’ve had in a week. Very creative wordsmithing.

  11. avatar Ams says:

    Um, well duh.

    In Brazil where my almost ex is from only the police and bad guys have guns, sometimes it’s one and the same. She recoils at the sight of a glock on someone’s hip.

    I grew up with guns. The first person I met that concealed carried was my mom. When I see someone carrying my reaction is usually ‘ew glock’ or ‘ew uncle mike’s’ or ‘ew scummy looking dude needs a bath’ or ‘nice gun’ or ‘meh’

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