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My first day out after what felt like a near-fatal (fetal?) case of sinusitis (I’ll spare you the details), and I decided to treat my cabin fever with a visit to the local big-box book barn, a.k.a., Barnes & Noble. Now I know a thing or three about B&N, as my ex once worked for them. And it got me to thinking, just what would the Lords of B&N think/do if they knew I was packin’ heat?

The ruling class at B&N (from the CEO on down) favor the far left of the political spectrum. No problem. I can agree to disagree with the best of ’em. But they seem to hide it well (which I respect), putting commerce well ahead of ideology. That’s a happy thing, for I’d hate to see what life would be like if places like B&N self-censored to the point where they refused to carry books that ran counter to their own worldview, instead relying on more of a realpolitik approach. (In a largely conservative place like where I currently reside, their sales would plummet if they did, and I think that bears heavily on their decision-making process.)

But there’s a big difference in selling Guns ‘n Ammo magazine, coffee table books on the History of the 1911, and the Anarchist’s Cookbook (I just threw that one in…dunno if they carry it anymore or not), and in welcoming guns into their establishment, concealed or not.

As I sit in the Starbucks-subleased corner of B&N and survey the store from my front-row seat, I’m struck by a couple of thoughts (sorry, but this is gonna be kinda “puddle of conciousness”…I’m still having a bit o’ trouble with moving water): A) their friggin’ WiFi connection is slooooower than Theresa Hines Kerry’s namesake product, B) The likelihood of me needing my handgun in this place lies somewhere between “slim” and “none,” and “Slim” just left town, and C) if any of the patrons or staff knew I have a gun on me, cocked and locked with a round in the pipe, they would freak out. Like “call the police,” freak out.

“Why?,” you might ask. Well, glad you asked, because this would be a much shorter column if you didn’t, and while I don’t get paid by the word, the boss is philosophically opposed to padding, unless you’re Santa Claus.

My theory on why carrying would cause an outsized reaction (and keep in mind, this is only a theory), can be summed up in the aphorism birds of a feather flock together. Let me put it another way . . .

Let’s take a run out to Hallsville, the home of the relatively-famous Hallsville Drag Strip. Where do you think giving someone an unintentional peek at your gat go over better? There, or at a bookstore?

Bookstores are odd ducks in the retail world. Without really earning it, they benefit from the traditional ambience of a public library. (That’s Frenchy-French for “atmosphere” for those of you from the stix.) Your typical bookstore aims for that cloistered feel, and generally achieves it, through a mix of classical Muzak, employees that maintain low tones, and a generally willingness for the sheeple to play along.

Bringing a gun into that kind of sanctum sanctorum would be, I think, met with the same kind of enthusiasm that greets a rather large sample of fecal matter in the proverbial punchbowl, or more to the point, the way a wolf might be greeted at a sheep convention. It sullies the pseudo-academic trappings with the reality that we don’t live in Mayberry anymore.

Frankly, I don’t know if we ever did live in Mayberry. Dunno if it matters, really. But I can tell you this: the Law of Unintended Consequences, Murphy’s Law, and My Dumb Luck would form a perfect storm of crapaliciousness and pick this place over any logical one, were I to be involved in a robbery, mugging, or other armed assault. Lemme tell you a (true) story . . .

One day, my ex comes home (before she was my ex, natch). She tells me that she walked down (in an up-scale part of town, mind you) to a Starbucks in the same strip center where she then worked. It was around noon. Broad daylight. That sort of thing. Middle of the week. Lots of patrons. Two armed bozos walked in and robbed the joint. Right there in front of God and everybody.

It was the one day that she WASN’T carrying. I asked her, “what would have done, if you’d been carrying?” Her answer? “The same thing I did without it. Nothing. They didn’t threaten any of the customers, and there were too many people there to start shooting.” She went on to tell me that the only way she would have pulled her piece (had she been armed) is if the bad guys had started to herd everyone into the walk-in freezer in the back (a pretty sure sign that they don’t want to leave any witnesses, by the way).

And that was exactly the correct response. Too often, those that don’t conceal carry think that those of us that do are a bunch of trigger-happy Barney Fifes, just waiting for an excuse to haul out our Desert Eagle .50 cals and start ventilating bad guys, innocent civilians (and potential collateral damage/victims) be damned.

Not so much…you see, just because I sit here in B&N and have a gun on me, that does NOT mean I’m itching to shoot my way to safety. It doesn’t mean I’m looking for a fight. And it doesn’t mean that I’m hoping for a confrontation where I can prove my manhood. Nope. In terms simple enough for the Brady Bunch and Bloomberg’s Jackbooted Troops to understand, it means that like any Boy Scout, I’m prepared if something bad should happen, and I’m trained to deal with the threat in an appropriate manner.

How cool is that? And I think that’s the beauty of the concealed carry concept. If the bad guys have to worry that every customer might be locked, loaded, and ready to use measured force to deal with a real threat, they are going to be much less likely to stick up the joint. It’s not so much that everyone needs to carry. It’s that if the bad guys are busy worrying that someone – anyone – might be carrying, it will be enough to get them to stop and rethink their next career move.

So, Barnes & Noble, no thanks necessary. (Not that you would, but still.) Like the idiots in San Francisco that try to ban ROTC from campuses and support protests in front of military recruiting stations yet benefit from our military’s efforts to keep ALL of our country secure, you get to benefit from our nation’s concealed carry laws, even though your corporate honchos don’t support them. It’s a free country. At least for now. And I hope that by carrying, I’m doing my part to keep it that way.

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  1. I open carry in B&N’s all over Arizona, Utah, Vermont and New Hampshire.

    The occasional raised eyebrow, but then I am devilishly good looking…

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