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Reader traildude writes:

So there I was on the hillside, a term that over-dignifies the erosion gully I was working to turn into safe access to a fantastic beach. My mind was on finishing the ballast for the railroad tie I’d just put in to make what most people would call a step, but which I’d learned to refer to as a “human erosion mitigation device” because the volunteer project had to be about erosion in order to comply with certain regulations. But that’s a different story. My mind was on that ballast because once it was packed in firmly, the step would be safe for use and I wouldn’t have to keep standing there in the sun, smelling the creosote baking out of every tie on the slope . . .

While I was working, human passage on the path — we didn’t dignify it by calling it a trail yet — was single-file. So out of politeness and in hopes of watching more donations to our project plop into the jar screwed to the nearest support post, I greeted each person with a smile as they all descended. I had two tools at hand, one in my hands to pound at ballast as another volunteer dumped it, the other on my hip in accordance with the old motto, “be prepared.”

Then the line of eager beachgoers halted. I felt the glare before I saw it, and looked up to behold a woman’s face contorted in disgust at the sight of the tool on my hip. She recognized the shiny Ruger .357 snuggled in its place on my belt in the same way I recognized a fresh dog dropping found by kneeling on it in the flower bed, something unwanted, fit to be disposed of.

“Why would you wear that… thing?!” she exclaimed — or something to that effect.  “Out where regular people can see it?!!!”

My thoughts went to the fact that given my shirtless condition in the heat and humidity with sweat everywhere, if I’d tried to keep it where no one could see it, I’d have been dousing it with oily human skin emissions made acidic by hard labor. I tried to formulate an answer that would be polite while shutting her up so she’d move on and let others get to the surf and sand.

But her son had my response time beat.

“Mom, the cops are twenty minutes away!  If he needs protection, a pizza would get here faster!”
I hardly believed I was hearing that old comparison in real life, and from a ten-year-old trying to squeeze past his parent to get on with the important matter of enjoyment of the border of King Neptune’s realm.

The woman glared at her son, glowered at me, stomped her foot, and moved on. My eyes met the boy’s and we exchanged a solemn fist-bump before he skipped down the clay slope with a grin.

“Pizza”, I thought, and shook my head.  It would take too long to arrive; the ballast would be set before then so I settled for a granola bar and a cold beer. After all, when something is really important, it’s response time that really matters, isn’t it?

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      • Tha’s when I started carrying a,pistol, a predator tried to mug me the first couple of weeks after I started delivering oizza. . I’ve been carrying ever since. Almost twenty years now.

  1. You’re helping to build the path, one human erosion mitigation device at a time. On so many different levels 🙂

  2. Guessing the kid takes after the father and this is evidence of an ongoing argument at home. He is use to rants from the protectionist of the family and knows the correct answers from what he hears dad say.

  3. I noticed the photo is of Black’s Beach. It would be a little awkward open carrying at Black’s Beach, even more awkward carrying concealed – Ouch!

    • LOL

      I thought I recognized that!

      The gully I tackled was a hard brown clay, not that crumbly gray stuff — and the human erosion mitigation devices were much more robust and far, far more firmly set (at regular intervals we dug holes and stuck 4 – 6 foot long broken railroad ties in as anchors, and the whole structure is connected together with 10-inch spikes).

      Though before anything was done, it was a lot more dangerous than Black’s Beach — the local fire chief, head of the rescue team, said the two summers before I started they did five dozen rescues requiring an ambulance, and all but a handful were from accidents on the slope.

      That’s one of the places my gun on my hip saved my skin: a guy who didn’t appreciate the changes picked up a 2×4 and came at me. Without thinking, I dropped into a Tae-Kwon-Do defensive stance, which turned my gun hip toward him; he saw the gun, and decided he didn’t need a 2×4 and really just wanted to move on.

  4. So you’re performing a public service, sweating your ass off to make Rude Mom’s life better, and she tries to shame you for legally carrying. Two thoughts: she probably frowns on “judgmental” people; and she obviously regards an openly carried weapon as no threat, or else she would have fled or kept her mouth shut, yet she will undoubtedly recall this event to her chardonnay book club as “chilling.”

    Mad props to her kid.

  5. “Why would you wear that… thing?!” she exclaimed — or something to that effect. “Out where regular people can see it?!!!”

    Some fun responses:

    “This tool on my belt symbolizes the fact that I paid attention in history class.”

    ” I have over 14 million reasons.”
    Source: See total incarcerated population in the US in 2008…

    “You may be regular. I’m educated.”

    “The same could be said of your face. Have a nice day.”

    “Because I don’t willfully choose to be ignorant about human behavior or intelligence.”

    “Thank you for reminding me that there are ignorant people out in the world that I have to be wary of.”

    “I wear this to remind me that this tool affords people like you the freedom to say such ignorant things.”

    • “You may be regular. I’m educated.”

      I’m stealing that. That’s so good, you need to bring along a drummer to give you a rim-shot and cymbal after you deliver it.

    • Given that a good hundred people had already gone by me that day, seen the Ruger and either smiled or just kept going, I was a bit too rocked back to come up with a snappy response.

      I love your last one!

      I’ll add:
      “Ma’am, it isn’t the regular people I wear it for”.

  6. I’m going to have to call BS on this story. No way it happened as told. We all know guns exercise their own agency and jump from their holsters and start mowing innocents down.

    No way she, her son, the story teller or anyone else at all survived if there was a gun present.

  7. All crime is based on response time. Cops wear a weapon constantly while hoping to never have to draw it, and “first responders” are always last on the scene.

    Nice handle of the prickly cactus, though a funnier response would have been: “everyone here’s carrying, where do you keep yours”.

  8. From the mouths of babes…
    It is funny the young one had more common sense than the mother had instilled “gun hate” into him.

    • My two fellow volunteers and I that day hoisted a few to him on the beach that day.

      I also encountered him later, as I hit the shallows while body surfing. When I stood up he asked where my gun was. I laughed and splashed him and said, “This is SALT water, dude!” He laughed and asked again, so I told him it was in a safe place being watched by one of my friends, and waved at said friend up on the rock berm. He nodded and sprinted into the waves, leaving me wondering just why he’d asked — making sure I was being responsible, maybe?

      • Sensible kid asking sensible questions. He most likely just wanted to make sure it was not left on the beach.

  9. I had a similar incident once while OC’ing with my Norinco 213 9mm at a Borders book store. While waiting to be checked out at one register, a mother & her 9-10yr old boy were standing in the adjacent line. I noticed he was staring at the pistol on my hip, and that his little mind was feverishly working at how to ask me about it. Meanwhile, his mother had also noticed; she had his hand locked in hers with a white-knuckle death-grip, and the look on her face was a cross between anger & fear.
    Finally he blurted out, “Mister, is that a real gun?”.
    “Yes sir, it is.” I said with a smile.
    Before he could reply, his mom whipped him around to the opposite side away from me, “Don’t say anything to him, or he might murder us!”
    “But mom, why?! There’s nobody else here to protect us from robbers!”

    That woman gave her boy a withering glare that promised profound punishment for daring to question her infinite wisdom, uttered a very profane comment about calling the cops on me for scaring people, snatched the book about trains from his free hand, tossed it onto the discount bin, yanked him violently out of line, and as she was leaving loudly announced to everyone within the checkout area to be watch out for the crazy gun-nut shopping at Borders.

    I got a lot of looks from people who hadn’t previously noticed I was carrying (most of them), but they quickly decided that I was not a threat and quietly went back to what they were doing. Meanwhile, the poor kid was crying hard and digging in his heels because his ignorant, spiteful, rude mother had just ruined his day.

    Just before she made it out, another customer (an older gentleman standing his wife next to the inner doors) briefly stopped her dramatic exit with a stern admonishment; “You’re the only crazy person here and I feel very sorry for your child”. Several customers who heard it began applauding his blunt assessment, and she stomped out of the store looking thoroughly embarrassed and pissed off.

    The employees looked more annoyed about her making an unnecessary & loud scene than my OC’ing; while the girl who rang me up told me about her boyfriend’s Glock, and that he was constantly bugging her to go shooting with him. I advised her that it was a lot of fun, especially when she ends up shooting better scores. She gave me a mischevious smile at that & admitted that she might just take him up on it. I hope she did, and that the poor little guy with a hoplophobic mother hasn’t inherited her ugly attitude & fear. She didn’t have a ring on her finger, so I doubly hope that he has a decent father who’s involved with his upbringing somehow, because the boy definitely needs all the help he can get.

    • Again, here’s a hoplophobe without a scintilla of fear her passive aggressive comment would put her in danger. Would she say that to a big dude in gang colors Mexican carrying? Never.

      “Ma’am, you’re not scared at all that I will murder you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have said that.”

      Say it in a level, matter-of-fact tone. If she takes it as an observation, maybe she’ll reconsider her stance. If she takes it as a threat, maybe she’ll reconsider her mouth.

    • Three cheers for the elderly gent!

      I’ve got a friend in his 80s who will intervene just as firmly. He believes that too many of today’s parents never grew up, and still need guidance — and has jumped in more than once to correct behavior that was bad for their kids.

  10. Back in the last political onslaught of gun control (the late 80’s through mid-90’s), we used to say:

    “Call a cop, a fireman and a pizza delivery joint. See who arrives first.”

  11. “Ma’am, that’s too much information. I really don’t want to know if you’re regular or constipated”.

  12. I open carried in south eastern Virginia for several years before giving in and asking permission to conceal. Until just last week, I would have been able to say that never, ever, have I had a negative response come my way. 95% of the time it’s a complete non issue as hapless people wander about completely clueless to their environ. The other 5% are the curious ones. Courteous and inquisitive they crave information about guns and carrying. It has been amazing to me how many people have no idea that guns are even legal. But, just the other day, after a morning at the range, my son and I went to have lunch at our usual pizza joint. There were two young college couples exiting so I held the door open for them and greeted them cheerily with a “Good Afternoon”. One of the girls looked at my holstered Sig and nearly freaked out. She stopped in her tracks and the expression on her face was as if she was witnessing the preamble to the next headline mass shooting. Her boyfriend was talking to his friend and did not notice she stopped so he ran right into her. My son and I just passed them by and went inside. Yet I wonder, did I miss an opportunity to engage in a constructive and educational conversation? And should I have?

    • With that reaction, no and no. And in fact perhaps it’s better you didn’t even try to engage.

      You’d need a lot more time than you’d have standing in the door of a restaurant, at the very least. And all you would have had is abuse, rather than an argument, with that initial reaction.

      I think you did the right thing. See? A gun, and … nothing happened.

    • I’ve OC’d for about right years here in NM. I started OC’ing because I could do so without a license.

      If I may ask, what caused you to get a CCL?

      • ThomasR – Interstate travel and convenience. At first I was reticent to volunteer the information that I am a gun owner and be entered into a state registry. Especially after the John Fillipidis incident. But the wife and I decided it was best to get our permits. We are both ex-military and in VA, your 214 is sufficient evidence of firearms training so that saved us $75 each. But it is nice to be able to put on a coat in winter without the worry of accidentally covering my weapon. My wife is a purse carrier. She has fell in love with Gun Tote’n Mommas line of leather gat bags.

        • Yep. If I traveled more I would consider it. We can also carry an unloaded concealed weapon without a license with a mag in the pocket or on the belt.

          I carried concealed for years that way. But the convenience of OC here in NM, especially with acceptance of the gun culture out here by the citizens and the police, is awesome.

  13. Wow! If a kid like that can survive the onslaught of anti-gun brainwashing I’m sure he’s exposed to, and come up with such a snappy and correct answer, maybe there is hope for this country yet.

  14. Nice story, up until you said you were going to have a beer and a granola bar. As a CHL holder in Texas, I could be considered under the influence with one sip while carrying and risk my license being suspended.

    • I’m guessing this wasn’t in Texas. Most states have more reasonable thresholds for being armed and intoxicated.

      Do you have sufficient motor function, judgment, reflexes and decision-making ability to operate a motor vehicle on the public roadways after one beer? If not, then don’t do it. If so, then drinking one beer while armed poses no risk.

    • bwomp womp…

      By law in most states a police officer can make a judgement call and arrest you for driving under the influence if your BAL comes back .01.

      Arbitrary law, silly concern. Don’t be a jackass and you won’t have problems. I’m quite sure the guy is capable of having a beer and carrying a firearm. I *gasp* do it every weekend when I work in my yard and frequently when I am just hanging around the house.

      Better find a tall tree and a long rope…

    • They CAN do that in Texas, but I don’t think it happens very often. Texas concealed carry permit holders, like those in other states, seem to have a VERY low rate of crimes committed. If people were getting busted for drinking and carrying all the time, that rate wouldn’t be very good.

    • I had that lunch on the beach, which I considered a very low-risk environment, not on the trail, where more than one idiot had already gotten threatening about changing his or her “special place”. And the beer got consumed over a good twenty minutes while traversing to the spot where we volunteers hung out after working, at which point the gun went into safe storage anyway.

      More than once people gave me cold beers as a thank-you for the trail work, and the few times I decided to indulge, the Ruger went back up the hill into the truck and its lock box.

  15. “No guns” signs are pretty rare when I live, but they carry the force of law. Both open and concealed carry are legal. Open carry is getting a lot more acceptable, but you still don’t see much of it.

    A few years back, one local gas station/restaurant/convenience store put one up. I was pretty annoyed, as out where I am there are only so many places you can go to get gas, or pick up a pizza, or get a quick item without driving all the way into town to the grocery store.

    I went in one day and asked, “Why did you put that sign up?” It’s been years, so I can’t remember the exact words but it was something along the lines of “we don’t want guns in here” and “insurance reasons.” I told her, “The only people who pay attention to that sign are the ones you don’t have to worry about.” She asked me, “Do you have a gun?” I didn’t, because, as I told her, “No, I respect your right to put up the sign.”

    Not long after, the sign was gone for good.

    Meanwhile, another similar place in the opposite direction put up a sign. I never bothered to confront them — I don’t head that way as often so it was less of an inconvenience, I guess.

    Apparently they’d had some burglaries, although I don’t know exactly what good they expected that sign to do.

    Just a couple weeks ago a man died in their parking lot. He got punched a few times, fell to the ground, fractured his skull. No guns involved. Maybe they should have a “no fists” sign. (For the record, according to news stories, there’s a decent chance the dead man was the aggressor — swung first — and the guy hit him in self-defense. Young man who hit him is poor and probably has a hard road ahead of him, though.).

  16. There is no way a request for aid, a dispatcher, a squad or radio car can improve on the response time of a citizen who is already on scene.

    The acceptance of the armed citizen as the norm greatly improves the odds that someone armed will be present when needed most. Gun control – in comparison – is absent when it is needed most.

    Gun control minions believe gun control means safety; gun control activists know what it really means, and that’s Moms against Moms.

    Gun owners know the difference.

    • Yeah. In all my volunteer work, I have been twenty minutes or more from the fastest possible police response. I got into a heavy dispute with a head park ranger once, though, over my wearing the Ruger while doing erosion repair on trails; he showed me the law’s fine print that says a firearm in an Oregon State Park cannot be loaded unless you’re going to or from hunting.

      I was taken aside later by their one untouchable employee — their only female park ranger, who was also a Native American and a lesbian — and told that the way some of the surfers who used the trail I was working on regarded anything bothering “their” shortcuts, I should load once out of sight of the parking lot. I’m glad I took that advice, because only a few weeks later two guys came after me with their surf boards when they saw me spiking a log into place to stop a trail edge from collapsing above a shortcut. I didn’t even have to draw; the moment they saw me pop the retainer strap, they and their surfboards were off the shortcut into the trees and gone.

      It occurred to me the result would have been the same if my Ruger hadn’t been loaded — but then, it might not have been, and on that spot, police response was at least forty-five minutes away, and except for the lady ranger, I wouldn’t count on any of the park staff to be of any use either.
      So I got quite proficient with a nice little zip-loader I bought.

  17. i had gone to the scrap yard after work to scrap an old work van. i was taking everything of mine out and clipped my 1911 to a pocket( hands were to full for to try for the belt). it was starting to sprinkle so one of the workers was going into the trailer, he stops at the sight of it and asked “why do you have that?” i looked at him and asked “why not?”. he replies in an even crappier tone the same question, so i reply the same answer only this time with a are you dumb look. he stormed into the trailer. point of my story i don’t have to have a reason to exercise a right to him or anyone, especially if they can’t even come up with a reason for me not to.

  18. What wonderful stories. To “never interrupt your opponent when he’s making a mistake” we could maybe add “always give them a opportunity to make a mistake.” Really, they look like such schmucks.

    It turns out, the people who thoughtfully choose to acquire a gun or similar are more composed and polite than the average. There really is a “gun culture” and that other thing, the thing the anti’s call a “gun culture” is something else. “Gratuitous violence culture” or something.

    All you gotta do is act civilized to show that the thing they claim to be bothered by is not you.

    /Story, knife not gun.
    So, I’m at this workshop-y thing (don’t judge) … not political but I am – er – the least “state-y” among them and it was at the height of the Obama-mania.(*) The guy orchestrating the thing, with legit civil rights cred and practice at civil disobedience back in the day, decides we should talk politics. Not on the agenda. (In the irony department, he’s spoken of the training and organization in non-violent civil disobedience from then.)

    So, he starts with a rambling monologue, which pushed a little more “extreme” with each go-around, never with a chance to clarify or object to the previous round. That’s a tactic & a technique, btw. He got to: “There’s still slavery in this country.” followed by the then current DNC talking points, and not-so-subtle allusions to the then-current spin on candidate Romney’s then-recent trip overseas.
    “I think we should look to our own country before talking about what other people are doing wrong.”

    That’s crap two different ways, and at least five given how he got there. Also, not so much “talking” and if I want to hear DNC talking points I’ll contact the DNC.

    So, I interrupted with: “OK, that’s enough.”

    To his dumb, faux-innocent look, I went there: “Slavery? Slavery? I’m pretty sure chattel slavery is illegal in the US. I wasn’t there at the time, but I’m told there was a civil war about mostly that. Plus, you know, several constitutional amendments thereafter. And a federal civil rights act, more or less 50 years ago, including enforcement in disagreeing states with federal troops. So, slavery isn’t legal, federally. We also have by both policy and action enforced the idea that for some things, federal trumps state and local …. like buying and selling people. Indentured servitude is out, too as I understand it.”

    It went on, and got a little heated. From my perspective it was mostly me not letting implicit BS pass. The little group was appalled, and Mr. “I teach stuff” ended up stomping out. Interesting. (No, I wasn’t rude. No, I didn’t threaten anybody. No, it wasn’t “animated”. No … etc. He just didn’t like being called on his BS – my opinion.)

    He left right after I went with: “Are you talking about trafficking? Coyotes with off-legal indenture of folks they transport? That’s an enforcement problem, because it’s already illegal. But what are you talking about? We already have a stop-and-investigate authority within 100 miles of a border … which includes right here. Are you saying we need more no-knock raids by the border patrol – they wear mostly brown, BTW.”

    Look, language-wrangler-guy was hitting piles of emotional hot buttons by implication (“For the children!”) I did it flat out, explicitly. More accurately, I called out the emotional implications he was making, which is what really got him. Can’t have that surfaced.

    A couple days later, somebody brought up this “incident” and how uncomfortable it made them. Workshop-guy allowed as how all was fine, it wasn’t like we were going to get into a fight, or whatever. He says: “You know, he has a knife, and so do I, but it’s not like we’re going to use them. Right Jim?” Says I: “Oh, I’m not looking for anything like that to happen. You’re the one with your hand on your knife, though.”

    Really, there’s a surprising blindness among some folks who have vigorous opinions, say on civilian gun ownership. The gun people are so judge-y, reactive and emotional, they say. Yet it’s the anti-gun folks who show themselves to be so judge-y, reactive and emotional.

    Really, all’s fair in a political discussion on the sly among “friends.” Pay no attention to my hand on my knife while I’m *saying* we’re not going to get into a fight here … exactly the same kind of sneakily saying one thing while distracting with another that workshop-guy was doing with his words about “politics.” No, we’re not going to get into a fight here, because you’re going to let me bully you on the sly, in this case by putting my hand on my knife … just as a joke, you know … while saying we aren’t gonna fight.

    (*) Not a Republican. Perhaps a *r*epublican. More a Mal-ist (from Firefly), Menckenite, classical liberal of the snark at the knuckleheads variety. The only people more to be mocked than the politocos are the rubes who fall for their act.

    That said, the US dems are the only people who could possibly get me to vote *R*epublican, as the lesser evil. I haven’t gone full “greater evil” yet, but when I do it’ll be between Cthulu and SMOD. I hear if you write in the name three times, it summons the beast.

  19. “Why would you carry that…thing?! Out where ordinary people can see it?!!”

    I only heard that once. I didn’t know my fly was down, and I wasn’t wearing underwear.

  20. Most people are under the impression that the response time is a measure of the display s latency, that ingame feeling of delay between hitting a button and seeing your command play out onscreen, controller lag as some people call it. A perfectly reasonable assumption; the value for response time is even given in milliseconds after all. So then, what exactly is response time all about?

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