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I just returned from New York City. It was my first excursion to the mighty metropolis since receiving my RI concealed carry permit. I didn’t take a gun. While I’m all about Constitutional Carry, someone who writes about guns for a living has to play everything by the book. My livelihood or my life? Nah. It’s not like that. Pounding the pavement, I never felt so safe. Sure, I shared the City That Never Sleeps with some shady-looking people, some of which sized-me-up faster than a card shark at a private poker game. But there’s safety in numbers, right?

Right. Just as an individual fish faces minimal danger in the midst of an enormous school of fish, a Manhattanite mingling with the midtown masses is almost as safe as a mid-western shopper at the Mall of America. Never mind all that “hustle and bustle” and “cold, cruel city” stuff. As long as you stick to the main thoroughfares, hanging in New York City is as comfortable as a warm bath.

In fact, I found myself slipping into condition white (blissful ignorance). My spidey senses only tingled twice. Once during a solitary journey down a steep staircase to the Carnegie Deli’s tiny bathroom (one way down, one way up). The other when I clocked the look on a security guard’s face as he hauled cash from a 5th Avenue boutique to a shiny Garda armored car. Generally speaking, I was on mental holiday.

As I savored the sights and sounds of the City, I came to understand the average urban dweller’s antipathy towards firearms. Who needs guns in this shop-’til-you-drop playground with its millions of hard working inhabitants? Sure, New York City has Glock-toting cops at most of the major tourist attractions: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Natural History Museum, the Empire State building, etc. But the po-po keep it on the down-low, patrolling a city without apparent guns.

Note the word “apparent.” Like man-eating sharks, armed criminals are out there, somewhere. In 2008, the New York City Police recovered nearly 6000 unregistered or improperly registered guns. If you (optimistically) figure the NYPD removed a tenth of the total, there are some 60,000 tooled-up criminals in the City. Violent crime is down, but New York is still the scene of over a thousand shootings a year.

In truth, New York City is all sweetness and light—right until it isn’t. There’s a momentary flash of white and a swirling stain of blood as some unlucky bastard gets torn to pieces. And then the school goes back to the business of swimming around, looking for food, mating, electing public officials, paying taxes, keeping up with the Bergdorf Goodmans, bitching about the weather, etc.

On one hand, good on ya New York. The City’s relatively carefree not-to-say oblivious citizenry is a sure sign of social stability and good governance. On the other hand, they are gun rights’ greatest enemy. It’s this upscale firearms-oblivious urban electorate who are responsible for the bone-headed gun control legislation bedeviling Americans seeking to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

It’s no coincidence that The City So Big They Had to Name It Twice spawned gun control crusader Michael Bloomberg and his odious Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Or that all of the New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut politicians pushing gun control come from Democrat-controlled conurbations.

It’s ironic. Most gun violence is America is urban (and gang-related). And yet the people closest to it geographically are taxpayers for whom violent crime is somewhere “out there.” Thanks to “thin blue line” policing and other forms of quarantine, they’re isolated from its effects.

Of course, the city residents who aren’t isolated from gun crime want firearms for self-defense. Many have them illegally. But they are politically powerless. The inhabitants who are relatively safe from gun crime, the people who put the guns in the hands of the police, make the rules. And they don’t want Second Amendment rights. Not for themselves. And not for anyone else. They’re convinced that everyone’s safer without guns.

If large numbers of currently safe city slickers suddenly faced violent crime, this anti-gun attitude would change. Otherwise, open carry is the only way to get city folk to accept Americans’ constitutional guaranteed right to armed self-defense. If people in gun-aversive cities see people carrying guns who aren’t criminals or cops, they’d gradually come to see firearms as a natural, normal part of the landscape. Then they’d get off of gun owners’ proverbial lawn.

Make no mistake: Democratic-controlled cities are the battleground where gun rights must be won. First in the courts, and then on the streets. Despite their admirable civility, New York City needs open carry. Not for New Yorkers’ sake. For the sake of all Americans who understand that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

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  1. Agree, but as was experienced by the poor sap trying to open carry in Philadelphia, this will be a hard won, long slog. As Otter said, we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthy effort, just that those who are promoting gun normalization in these areas should be prepared. For the most part, only the deepest of deep blue enclaves are left in the anti-gun column and they’re only going to be dragged over to the other side kicking and screaming.

  2. The average New Yorker is a perfect citizen of an Orwellian state. Oh, well, if g-d didn’t want them sheared, he wouldn’t have made them sheep.

  3. Robert, You are a great writer. You describe your paranoid delusions beautifully. The way you smoothly slipped from extremely descriptive prose into what’s in your head and what MIGHT happen or the POTENTIAL for violence, was masterful.

    This is exactly what your readers need. They need cool ways to justify that which is truly unnecessary and even counterproductive.

  4. Yeah, too bad there isn’t more violent crime so everybody will need to carry a firearm. Then life would be great. Wait, what?

    • Hey, if you want to be a defenseless victim, knock yourself out – that’s your choice.

      But I flat-out demand that you respect my choice not to be a defenseless victim, thank you very kindly.

  5. Having grown up around guns in NM and moving to NYC after graduating college, I found a similarly surreal experience. The gritty, anonymous nature of city allows you to ignore the headline violence that is not in your tiny neighborhood. Stuff that does happen close by is treated as a ‘that’s life with 8 million people, glad it wasn’t my number that was up.’ Guns are dangerous by thinking of them. Ignored is the fact that people could shoot .22s at Coney Island at the turn of the century or that Kimber’s HQ is 20 miles from the city. I should note that I live in Chicago now, and for all the hoopla about the gun laws in both cities, and regardless if conceal carry will happen in IL, it won’t matter in the end. The fear or apathy about guns is deep rooted, so aside from the Armed Intelligensia, the vast majority of people will not go through the effort to overcome a lifetime of ‘education’ about guns, or the shear effort to legally register a gun.

  6. I’m in NYC all the time, and I’ve experienced the same dynamic tension of knowing that there are plenty of bad folks with ill intent, but still feeling statistically safe.
    I try really hard to not lose situational awareness, especially on the subways, since once you are in one of those cars, escape options are pretty limited.
    I went to a “singles event” at the Westside Pistol Range (Lower West Side of Manhattan), which involved a quick lesson in riflery, and 50 rounds of shooting through a Ruger .22 rifle.
    There were more women than men – everyone was really into it, and I overheard several people saying that they’d probably come back to “rent” some time on the Ruger again.

    • Aaron, are you still in NYC? If so, and you want to spend time on the range in NJ (which is where I am) I’m more than happy to host. Rifles, pistols, shotguns we could do it all!

      • Paul,

        Thanks for the invite. I’d be happy to stop by and shoot.
        I actually live north of there, but have to go to ‘Jersey roughly once a month for business reasons.
        BTW, I’d be happy to host you at my local outdoor range in the middle of Westchester County if you’re ever in my area.

  7. Want to neutralize an anti? Take them shooting. Appleseed clinics are awesome. Open carry is the most powerful tool we have. A stronger deterrent than concealed, and a very powerful educational tool for those around you. Concealed is what the anti’s want if they can’t ban carry, as you said: out of sight, out of mind.

  8. I had the same experience in ’94, when I and my wife ran the NYC marathon- I still treasure my “Times Square Rolex” bought on the street at 1 AM. We found the people in Manhattan to be some of the friendliest- Now a night-time stroll through Brooklyn or Bed-Sty would be another matter entirely……

  9. Growing up in the suburbs of NY, I earned my NRA Marksman patches in the basement of a local police station. Always felt safe and the per capita statistics did and do back that up. I will say that I never felt the anti-gun stigma attached to the northeast. My high school (in Westchester) even had a gun club.

  10. Damn, I’m glad I’m not a yankee! I grew up shooting targets in my backyard.

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