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Roxane Gay (

“Two years ago I moved to Indiana, an open-carry state. At first, it was disconcerting, seeing a random guy in cargo shorts and a worn T-shirt with a gun strapped to his hip, buying coffee at the gas station at 8 in the morning. When it happens, I tense up. I find myself holding my breath. I don’t feel safe, but I imagine they do. Then the moment passes. My day goes on. It’s almost scary how normal something like open carry can become.” – Roxane Gay in To Own a Gun, or Not to Own a Gun [via]


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  1. But if that same guy has a badge on his belt, you feel OK?

    Given CCW holders are less likely to commit crime than police officers, I’d be real interested in OC vs LEO crime stats. Seems to me criminals would always CC vs OC.

    Anyone have any insight on this one?

    • Nope, no blind badge worship here, in fact it’s hard to disagree with much of what she says:

      As a black woman, my concerns about safety are multiplied by the nature of my skin… I spend more time than I should wondering, Is my life in danger from law enforcement? I do everything I can to not give a trigger-happy cop a reason to put a bullet in my black body, while I’m painfully aware that they do not need a reason.

      I even agree with her conclusion, the same one my own mom reached at the age of 70 (Mom later decided a dead young felon beat a dead old her and got a LCP), Ms Gay isn’t ready to take that step and is wise enough to recognize it:

      Or it comes down to this. Despite the ways in which I am forced to think about safety, despite statistics, despite the gun owners I have known and respected, despite politicians’ hypotheticals, I recognize that to own a gun, to keep a gun in my home, to carry a gun on my person means I am taking on the responsibility of using that gun. I am taking on the responsibility of being willing to take another human life. And over and over—even as I lock my doors, even as I look over my shoulder—that is not a responsibility I am willing to bear.

      • She personally saw and experienced what a beast did to her mother and herself. So if she has children, or family members, or friends, she would rather let them be savaged, even murdered by beasts, whether animal or human, rather than to use lethal force in defense of self or others.

        Self awareness? Being honest with herself? Then she should be self aware enough to call it what it is. Cowardice.

        • Carrying a weapon is neither a duty nor an obligation. It is a right to be freely exercised by those who recognize both its value and limitations.

          The willingness to take the life of another is a major commitment and one that cannot be forced. It is better to recognize that you are incapable of doing so and make decisions accordingly than to be forced to go beyond that.

        • The willingness to take the life of another is a major commitment and one that cannot be forced. It is better to recognize that you are incapable of doing so and make decisions accordingly than to be forced to go beyond that.
          This is also known as evolution in action.
          Somewhere along the line, one must figure out if the lives of good innocent people are worth more than evil thugs.
          Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

        • There is Katy, a reason why human beings have the ability to feel shame. It tells us when we are not meeting the basic levels of what it is to be a mature, responsible adult.

          The basics would be providing for ones own food, shelter, warmth and self defense. Then the next level would be to provide for the defense of ones family and friends, then ones community, then ones country.

          That defense would entail the basic understanding that sometimes lethal force is needed in defense of self and others. We are talking about something so basic, even a mother cat, mother dog or mother bear understand this requirement. And yet some human beings can’t seem to understand this most basic of requirements.

          No Katy, it is the sickness of political correctness that says we can’t judge the actions of others, and call it for what it is. And in this case, we can call it plain and simple cowardice.

        • Remember, that the person who believes that they could not kill another is unlikely to train to do so. Do you really want someone who has not, and will not, train with their firearm to carry that firearm?

          Defense of self is intensely personal. What one may consider acceptable another may consider too much and a third consider insufficient. Each person should take appropriate precautions. After all, if we are talking about protecting the self, Obamacare and the insurance mandate would certainly meet that standard.

          Arguably, defense of others also entails a willingness to enter a burning building. Yet, even the FD will make a calculated decision about when they cannot enter and have to let trapped occupants go. Are you willing to enter a fire, or do you think less of the FD for not doing so?

        • “Do you really want someone who has not, and will not, train with their firearm to carry that firearm?” Well Katy, the point is, she is not even willing to take the most basic first step. So she won’t even be carrying a firearm, if she is ever attacked. So her level of training is immaterial.

          “After all, if we are talking about protecting the self, Obamacare and the insurance mandate would certainly meet that standard”. Obama care is the antithesis of personal responsibility. Obama Care is the epitome of government abuse and over reach in dictating to people about something that is a mature adults responsibility to provide for one self, not the job of the government.

          “Are you willing to enter a fire, or do you think less of the FD for not doing so?” We are not talking about someone risking their life for others, we are talking about someone using lethal force against another person in defense of self or others.

          So enough deflection and back to the main point. If she was like most people, if she was being threatened, or having a home invasion, she would be calling 911, so good guys with guns could show up, and if need be, shoot and maybe kill the bad guy that is trying to hurt her or her family. Now why is it alright for those guys with a badge and a gun to use lethal force, but she is unwilling to take that responsibility? It’s not.

        • Have you spent a lot of time as a middle aged, out of shape, black woman? Sounds like she is taking her time to make the best choice she can to me. Bravo to her for not jumping in too fast. Maybe she just doesn’t feel she has the physical skills to arm herself. Even the simplest things become exponentially more difficult once people get older and overweight. This lady (all due respect) looks like she couldn’t jog to her car without gassing substantially, i’d be surprised if she has ever had an athletically induced adrenaline rush in her entire life. How about you tough guy, If someone told you that base-jumping would keep your family safe, but only if you do it successfully everyday, 10x a day, without fail, otherwise your family is safer if you just leave the base-jumping alone, would you be jumping off the fucking cliff everyday? If you answered yes, can you imagine your grandmother jumping off the cliff everday? You call her a coward for recognizing her own limitations and carefully considering the best path forward…you sir…are an asshole.

        • Oh Joshua. I do notice that the deflection keeps happening. First Katy, now you Joshua.

          No where in anything that Roxanne wrote does she even hint that her reasons for not carrying a firearm is based on infirmity.

          For you to even suggest with a straight face that this woman with basic health, even though overweight, can’t pick up and use a firearm that can weigh less than a 16 ounces is sexist in the extreme!

          It comes back down to the basic facts. You cannot refute my points, so you make up stuff that never was talked about by the author, and then call me names along the way for simply pointing out the obvious hypocrisy that Roxanne, (since she does not claim to be a pacifist) has no problem having agents of the state do her killing for her. And you don’t like that.

        • I’m with Katy. You can’t make a sheep be a sheepdog. It’s unfortunate that sheep can’t or won’t use leathal force, but you can’t make them. Most (if not all) of us reading this can’t imagine why a reasonable person wouldn’t take up a firearm to protect themselves or their loved ones, but some say they just can’t. I don’t understand sheep, but I don’t try cram it down their throats either.

        • OOTGG. In tbe end, she is not a sheep. She is not a dog. She is a human being that has a choice. She chooses to allow others to do the heavy lifting of being willing to use lethal force to defend her, her family, her friends and her fellow americans.

          It is a choice. And as a the end result of hundreds of millions of years of making the choice to use lethal force better than the other species on this planet, we are the top of the food chain for a reason.

        • I have to agree with Katy and OneofTheGoodGuys.

          There is no point in arming yourself with a weapon you are unable or unwilling to use.

          Ultimately the reason you can’t/won’t use it is immaterial. What matters is that you won’t use it. That means it’s just a liability.

          If you know you can’t shoot someone then there is no reason for you to carry a gun. If you need time to sort things through in your head and decide if carrying a gun is right for you, well bravo for taking the time. It’s far easier to jump to one conclusion or another than it is to sit down and seriously contemplate the best course of action.

      • Hey, if she feels that SHE PERSONALLY doesn’t have the training, emotional predictability, or mindset to carry a gun, where’s the problem? It’s not like somebody is FORCING her to carry a gun. As long as she is not agitating to pass laws to prevent everybody ELSE from carrying a gun (and I don’t get the sense from this article that that’s her plan here), I’m absolutely fine with her. We’ll do lunch.

    • I feel even more uneasy seeing cops than seeing thugs. Thugs can shoot me i can shoot back and we argue it out in court. Try that with cops. I fear them, for they can ruin my life with a flip of a mental switch. No one else has that kinda power of screwing but not paying. All it takes is one cop in a bad mood and my life is down the friggin drain. The society needs cops, but i darent even nearly tread around them.

      • Exactly. If a cop decides to attack you, defending yourself is almost certain to get you killed (since they have hundreds of violent friends they can call who’ll drop everything to try and kill you) or if you survive, you’re facing decades in jail.

      • Yep. When I’m on an EMT or fire call, I usually don’t like seeing the LEO’s show up, even tho most of them stay out of our way.

        The biggest fear I have is that as I’m moving along rather smartly in my private car to a EMT call for a heart attack or stroke, I get pulled over and we end up with a real cluster down at the station later on. For such a rural state, with so much of the EMS/fire response being volunteer and widely dispersed, the legislature is wholly and fundamentally stupid in how we’re at the mercy of law enforcement for traffic violations while responding to a call – even if we’re in a fire truck.

    • My best friend of 35 yrs. has so many guns that if an entire regiment broke into his home, not a one would be left standing. But, for some odd reason, he says that if he sees anyone with a rifle, an AR15 or a 410 slung around his back, he is leaving. He believes that closed carry is the most viable side to be on because it doesn’t make others–like himself–feel uncomfortable, but no criminal would know if you had a gun on you or not, whereas if you carry one, you may have well have a loudspeaker telling the criminals to stay away. In his utopia, the criminal would come in, and be surprised, taken down quickly and in jail with the other criminals of minimal mentality. I, on the other hand, was proud as Hell when we first had open carry. Men and women, walking down the street admiring each others AR15’s to whatever else someone had on. The furor has died down now, not so many at all guns out in public, but we also defied the EPA with our vote sealing our 2nd amendment rights in blood. One has to first recognize that we, like the Americans, do have a DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. And we are a different breed. So, the law goes such: “All citizens have the inalienable right to hunt(what do you hunt with?) fish, and to harvest wildlife in the traditional manner as a means of conserving wildlife.” (But the trespass laws as well as no shooting off guns in public still applies). So, I wouldn’t call it the wild, wild, West, but we are indeed safer for it. When you consider over 50 murders a month in every Progressively held city like Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, I could go on and on, have the most harshest and Draconian gun laws there are. Houston, the 3rd largest city in the nation has MAYBE 100 murders a year? That is absolutely no ARGUMENT but SHEER PROOF that gun laws do work. Before this new amendment, my brother had issues with depression and had some criminal issues, none of them dangerous or in any way harmful to others including himself. He couldn’t even get a firing pin fixed on a cheap 410, (he loves hunting and eats what he catches. He loves to fish also). But that just goes to show the gun laws on the books now WORK. Now he doesn’t need a license for a shotgun. But he could never buy a pistol. They say that gun shows are directly related to gun violence. I disagree. I went to one with a friend of mine and sure as summer comes, they checked to see if she was legal to own one. Now come on guys, JACK THE RIPPER USED A KNIFE!

  2. She describes that normalization is working on her, but she even finds it scary that she’s starting to find it normal to see an inanimate object in plain sight harming nobody.

    • Something stinks about this whole story. She claims she dated 2 guys in her life that were big gun guys, they even took her shooting. So she has lived, or at least frequently been near, people with guns. Yet she gets scared when she sees them? Nope, not passing the smell test.

      • I’ve seen that. We have family friends where the wife grew up without firearms. Her husband is a big gun guy, as is his whole family.

        She’s familiar with firearms, but still isn’t totally comfortable around them. I’m pretty sure she would have similar reactions to the woman here if she saw a lot of OC (not a lot of that here on the west side of Houston – I still haven’t seen one).

      • Most likely possibility: she’s really not scared of the guns. She’s scared of the stability of the people carrying the guns.

  3. Apparently marieclare has turned into a mouthpiece for antigunners. Not sure what else they do over there but they love to quote scary stats about domestic violence without real counter arguments.

    • Seriously doubt she would pee her pants over a weapon collection!
      “It’s almost scary how normal something like open carry can become.”
      Operative word is “almost” Given the her experience of her father killing her mother, shooting her, it’s a tribute to a woman who has overcome a horrific experience. I think the take on her statement is; it’s not the gun, it’s who has the gun. We are all affected by our personal experiences. This is a strong woman who has overcome something that would leave some curled up in a fetal position, whimpering at the very sight of a holstered gun.

      • This is a strong woman who has overcome something that would leave some curled up in a fetal position,
        This is a weak ignorant woman who just has knee jerk reactions. It would be like saying that since i was in a bad car wreck that I should have an unreasonable fear of anyone driving a car.

  4. Here’s the thing, he went about his business and wasn’t brothering you. Reason being that he is a law abiding citizen exercising a right.

  5. Ignorance is bliss for fools. Ignorance is the foundation for legislation for politicians.

    • “Willful” ignorance is the foundation for legislation for politicians…fixed it for you. Willfully ignorant legislators gonna legislate ignorantly.

  6. Growing up, I used to see guns all the time during hunting season, and no one cared. Heck, I used to see rifles hanging from gun racks in the back windows of trucks sitting unattended in parking lots in the off season. Open carry is not a new thing.

  7. Interesting. Every day, the average motorist confronts dozens or hundreds of oncoming drivers whom they trust implicitly to honor a yellow painted stripe on the pavement, instead of veering into them head-on. Yet a fellow citizen openly exercising a constitutional right reflexively induces breathless mortal fear. Whassup wiffat?

    • Ooohhh, I like that trust a painted line thing although comes from a privilege, must pass a written and ability tests then years of experience navigating roads. One concern though is a total stranger doing road rage, crossing double yellow and hoping that lawful self defense airbag helps the impending jam.

      • The yellow paint stripe provides a nice image, driving home the point that nothing substantive providing protection or deterrence on the road. Try not to take it too literally and attach the trappings of driving privileges to it, though.

        The underlying point is that even without guns, had they never been invented, anyone can still kill anyone else almost at will. People standing near the edge of subway platforms have been pushed before oncoming trains (in real life, not just T.V. shows). People can drop bricks off bridges onto the crowd below. Lunatics can set fires, cut brake lines, poison buffet lines. The list is endless.

        This woman need not fear an armed individual peacefully going about his business any more than she should fear the perhaps thousands of people whose paths she crosses daily. Even without guns, each of them is armed with lethal potency which she already casually (ignorantly?) accepts.

      • must pass a written and ability tests then years of experience navigating roads.
        In what state do you have to possess years of experience navigating roads to get a driver’s license? I would not put too much faith in the written and ability tests either.

  8. It’s been almost three years since I moved to Nevada after having grown up in New Jersey and the last place I lived out east was Long Island. When I see someone open carrying I still have the same reaction that I did when I first did; I take breath and a single word resonates within my mind.


    • I had the same big city upbringing, only NYC to Long Island to Ohio. Now my reaction is, damn, that’s a nice gun.

    • I have that same thought on Thursday nights when I hear the local trap club shooting clays. From about 5-9 I can hear the pop-pop-pop of a 3 gun Annie game.

    • Welcome to NV! I hope you’re not down in the freedom hating areas of Vegas, although it kinda sounds like it. I don’t see much OC up here in the northern part, but I KNOW that a majority of us CC.

  9. I’m certainly not the first to make this observation, but it bears repeating: why do antis always talk about “feeling safe?” It’s just such a different mindset… And she does something many of them do, which is to assume that others think the same way she does. Notice how she projects “feeling safe” onto her hypothetical open carrier, assuming he carries so that he “feels safe.” I guess that’s why they can accuse us of being fearful: fear is what would motivate THEM to carry, if they carried, so they figure that must be the reason we do the things we do… If only antis were as smart, compassionate, and open-minded as they like to think they are…

  10. I read the whole blog. There are some interesting opinions and not all of them antigun. I like a debate and will revisit her site.

    • Yes, I was pleasantly surprised with the relative balance. It was mostly the usual anti-gun lies and half-truths. But they did try to cover the other side with a story of a rape victim and a not entirely negative look at the NRA. Certainly more balanced than anything found in the New York Times.

  11. It is funny how or own personnel rationalization of reality affects us, each of us has a simple choice yes or no, problem is our rationalizations get in the way which in turn issues parameters for our conditional reflex, it is when another persons Conditional response conflicts with mine and become a insult to my way of thinking because of the tendency for people with a negative aspect when compared too mine tend to be control freaks, or most overbearing to say the least by wanting to force me too except their views, with the implied threat of force legal or otherwise! Being a free man with freedom of choice their kind of reasoning causes great consternation! I in turn respond with words like Traitor, Seditious, Anti American, and other invective’s! Problem is, people like to solve problems that don’t need fixing just to feel good about being able to do something about nothing while ignoring the ones that do! Molon Labe, Semper Fortis

  12. One nephew wanted to try when I was splitting wood. I still go old school, with a maul, for the workout.

    Funny was the greek chorus of sis, bro in law and mom, watching anxiously n lobbing directions. We stopped that, with a “One at a time n you can show him if you like.” Plus a bit of “You be over there if yr gonna be out here.”

    He did O K, still young n strong, so he had a harder time getting the rythm of the movement. I eventually got over the groundlings complete indifference to me maybe getting hurt vs. him. They think I’m competent, I tell myself.

    Nobody wants to get hit with a maul. Yet, humans as tool users wield potentially deadly forces all the time. In the modern world one can do so quite a bit without being aware of the terrible power. Get out n push that crossover one time. Smash some ice cubes by hand to make a smoothie that the half a horse on your counter does in seconds. Leave some bleach on yr hands.

    A gun is four times an uncomfortable symbol. Of the power and reach we wield so casually, so often. Of the knowing choice to wield power, or not. Of how much we exist on sufference. And at the last to choose to wield deadly power, or not, when sufference isn’t enough to get out alive.

    Carrying a gun reminds of these things, and one other. This is how it is, whether you would have it so, or not; whether you deny it or not.

    Of course seeing a gun is uncomfortable for someome distant from these truths. And of course people with guns are amathema to would-be authorities who want underlings, not citizens.

  13. Everyone here should take the time to go and read the entire article. Ms Gays words clearly spell out her fear but there are two other compelling voices that equally convey the importance of firearms for defense and sport. Overall it’s pretty even handed…

  14. I thought it was even handed. She’s talking about her quandary. How many people just stay numb or oblivious? She is confronting her own fears. I like that she knows we aren’t safe.

    She certainly isn’t an anti. She’s a true American to me in that she’s deciding what’s right for her not what’s right for me.

    I wanted to tell her that with training and regular practice she wouldn’t have all those reactions under stress.

    Thanks folks for including this piece.

  15. That’s right. Get over it. Criminals aren’t going to bother to go through a permitting process. More than likely a criminal would conceal the weapon until the last moment. At least fear the criminal – not the weapon.

  16. YAY Indiana! My beautiful wife just did fabulously well at the Hunt and Gather(antique) Market in Crown Point. AND nobody got shot by the few open carriers. And she’s black and likes guns. What a whiny racist attitude you have(and isn’t this the same unattractive gal who did a hit piece on the Crown Point gun show?-in the SAME building btw)…sorry the banality of open carry is too much for you princess. NO-I don’t plan on perusing any further blogging on her part.

  17. I feel sorry for Ms. Gay. Anyone as phobic as she is needs an intervention and a whole lot of Prozak.

  18. And this my friends is why open carry is a good thing…
    It may not be the most tactically advantageous but normalization is a worthwhile goal.

  19. What Roxane Gay is really saying is “ize dun b uh-phrayd dat sum ray-ciss gunna du my chile lyke deyz didz Trayvon n Mike Brown”, see she’s actually more concerned that someone in society, maybe a member of her own community will defend themselves when set upon by her poorly raised offspring.

    Vote Trump!

    Only Donald J. Trump with push Congress to pass then sign National Concealed Carry for all law0abiding Americans.

  20. I haven’t seen any open carriers in Houston, yet. I do however see loads of signs banning concealed and open carry in establishments.

  21. “It’s almost scary how normal something like open carry can become”

    On the other hand it’s very scary that something so innocuous can become so entirely demonized in short order.

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