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Reader Ripcord writes:

For the first time in two years, the family and I are headed out on a real vacation. We booked it months ago to jibe with my work schedule and their school schedules. Saturday we boarded a plane and off we went. We landed grabbed the bags and off to the hotel. After checking in, it was a three-block walk to a Japanese restaurant and I commented how naked I felt with without my 1911. The walk was on a lit street area, but it still didn’t feel right.

As a part time LEO, I usually carry just about everywhere, but since we would be leaving Florida for the Bahamas, there’s no way to cary as the places we would be wouldn’t allow it and there was no way to get a handgun out of the country. After a decent steak and an eight course meal, the walk back uneventful. I capped off the evening with some Tom Clancy and it was good night.

Next morning, standing in line for a roller coaster, I checked my phone, looked at Drudge and that’s when I see it — a shooting in Orlando. Wanna guess what city we were in? Yup.

The wife started getting on me about checking my phone every few minutes, reminding me I’m suppose to be on vacation. Then I showed her the headline.

As the morning progressed, I started seeing more security — unarmed security walking around the park. Now in pairs and then, everyone once in a while, groups of 4 or 5. My head was on a swivel looking at all the places to egress if necessary. Then there were reports of a tweet about something happening at a hospital.

Mid way through the day I pulled the wife aside and said, if something were to happen, the smartest thing will be not to run with the masses. We go sideways and look for a place to hunker down. There are plenty of areas with lots of vegetation, and only animated animals, not real ones. The plan was to get low and not be part of a human wave being crushed in a panic for exists.

She agreed and we have a short discussion with the boys that if a panic were to break out, follow us, not crowd. Stay close so as to not get separated. If we do get separated, we picked a place to meet.

After the park I grabbed the Mrs. and we went for a walk around the hotel. She thought we are looking for a place for dinner. I’m looking at the hard and soft points.

We stop for a drink and ask the bartender about what he’d heard as a local. He hadn’t hear much, but the property owners are keeping the talk to a minimum. Not a single TV I’d seen since Sunday morning had been on a news channel. All have been on sports or something else.

My biggest challenge now is getting my CRKT knife past security so I have something more than a ball point pen and my hands. At the water taxi, we were getting wanded before entering the park again. As I empty the pockets of my cargo shorts, the female “security” officer started to fumble with my wallet looking at the bulge and asks whats inside.

“My star,” I answer. “Where from?” I tell her I then tell her my thoughts about the bullshit of off-dutys not being able to carry around here in light of what happened. She rolls her eyes. Her expression says that the security officers can’t even carry and they don’t like it.

But Capt. Obvious, her partner with the wand, must have heard something and decided to go over me with a fine-toothed comb. His pseudo Harry Potter stick went off around by waist, and asks me if I’m carrying? “No,” was the answer, and then he asked me to lift my shirt. So my sun-deprived belly and rigger’s belt are there for him to see. Satisfied, I retrieve my stuff and move along.

Day two was much the same. More security out and about in the parks, nothing on the tubes and thousands of people walking around like Harry Potter and Diagon Alley are real. Every line is an exercise in finding the best egress routes and with family splitting up, establishing rally points.

The wife is really bad about answering her cell phone, unlike moi, who has it as an electronic leash. I have the greatest wife in the world, but getting her to think like this has been a slow process. At least we’re past the point  of 1000 questions. It’s no longer “Do you really think they would….”  The headlines this week tell us the answer is yes.

As I pound these thoughts out at the bar, I’ve spotted more than one person packing. None of them seem to fit the LE “type.” One patron says I’m working way to hard and we broach the subject. This is Florida, not New York is his first retort. “True but the rules are….” His response was, “If that had happened in a biker bar, how many dead? — Two, the first biker and the shooter.”

Based on the GLOCK 43 and or LCP that appear to be in some front pockets, some people aren’t leaving this up to someone else. That leaves some of my faith in humanity intact.

There may be rooms of black-clad armor-wearing private contractors waiting to go should something erupt, but thousands of people are are more than content to act as if nothing has changed, that Shrek, the Minions and Harry Potter really exist. Yet over 100 people were just shot, about half of them killed some 48 hours ago on the other side of town.

I feel for the people who were murdered. And the hypocrisy of the left on this will be left for another column. But one thing has been reinforced since early Sunday morning. We are responsible for our own safety and self defense. The circumstances here are less than ideal; no carry piece, no truck gun, no backup, or friend close by to phone. Nothing more than a multi-tool and a pocket knife (and my 16-year-old argued with me about putting one of the Surefire lights in his pack).

I feel like MacGyver.

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  1. Well written… you capture some of the same feelings I experience while on a cruise to the Bahamas on 9/11, being escorted back to port by USCG, visiting the Disney parks, and then a few days later barely catching a flight to Maine and renting a car from the same place the terrorists had. Guys on planes were eyeballing each other and giving the “I’ve got your back” nod to those who looked capable. It was a surreal time.

  2. You never know where you’ll be when your gun-grabbing neighbors compel the need for you to respond really badly.

    Your RTKABA will outlive, by millennia, anyone’s right to regulate it.

  3. There was a time you could carry at Disney World, I did. But that was a lot of years ago, since then when I went back, I only carried a sturdy folder and a good flashlight. Haven’t been there in the last few years, useless security theater as described doesn’t reassure me at all.

    • My last Disney / Universal trip was in 2014. Bags were searched but no wanding. That’s where the LC9 shines. Spare mag in the cell pocket & flashlight clipped to a hip pocket. I had no hassles.

      Now my trip to Independence Hall in Philadelphia in March–that was a challenge. Still got it through though.

      Be prepared!

    • I carried in Disneyworld in 2010-2012.

      They have wands and metal detectors now.

      I need to spend that money on ammo and mags anyway.

  4. “if something were to happen, the smartest thing will be not to run with the masses. We go sideways and look for a place to hunker down.”

    I recommend you *not* hunkering down in or near that calm, peaceful-looking water you see everywhere in Florida (and most of the southern US).

    It’s not been a good week around here.

    Please keep the family of the missing 2 year-old in your thoughts…

  5. This was how I felt vacationing in Costa Rica.

    It was the first time years I was without a firearm but I carried two knives and a flashlight on me at all times. Had a small axe and 6in knife in the hotel room (part of camping kit).

    The only time I felt a bit on edge was the day we arrived — we got in at 11pm in San Jose and we didn’t get checked into the hotel till 2am. It was a bit of an ordeal finding the hotel due to being given the wrong address by the rental agency. Thank goodness for wifi hotspot devices and Google Maps.

  6. Dont forget about the Orlando alligators gobbling up the kiddies…. One more reason to carry in the orange juice state.

    • The gator didn’t eat the kid.

      The kid was a bit big for that size gator, (estimate size was 6 foot or so) so the gator did what gators do and stashed the kid under some structure to be eaten later.

      The kid was recovered intact, but drowned with bite marks.

      Now they will kill every gator in that lake and find the one that matches the bite marks.

      That family will get a nice payout from Disney on this one…

      • Not to be harsh on the parents of the toddler at this time , well actually never , they have just experienced the worst tragedy imaginable and their guilt will be tremendous , I pray for their healing and would hope they will turn to God for their comfort .

        Everything you say is most likely spot on and the posted sign to not get close to the water is not enough to protect Disney from liability nor will it protect the remaining alligators from extinction until everyone is satisfied that the guilty alligator , who was stupidly relying on only it’s primitive instincts rather than following the Disney alligator protocols , is captured and pays for it’s crimes by death .
        If someone post a sign that says danger , I have very good reason to believe that getting to close to these waters could result in personal injury to you , as the reader of said sign , you may want to get back .
        If your child says , I’m going to play with the gorilla and you think it is in any way possible they may get into the enclosure with said gorilla , well , common sense is important .
        I’m not saying that the gorilla shouldn’t have been shot or that the alligator should have been permitted to keep it’s prey , but lack of common sense should never be rewarded .
        I only pray that this family can move forward in life and grow in faith through this tragedy .

  7. The job of the ego part of the brain is to keep you safe. The ego voice is constantly talking in all of us: “Watch your step… It’s dark….. What if…..” That is its job. And you are always its center of attention.

    But if the ego voice gets out of control, then it can degrade the joy of your life. I suggest that the writer learn to hear the ego’s voice in his thoughts and research the ways to tame its voice. You can not eliminate its voice but rather just tame it so that it is not so intrusive.

    If your first thought is that I am suggesting that the writer not take steps to protect himself in life, then that was your ego’s voice in your thought… always standing guard and reacting, etc.

  8. I was extremely confused reading this story. The author mentioned being unarmed because he was leaving Florida for the Bahamas. Then he describes what sounds like Florida amusement parks and people being armed in Florida … but the author wasn’t armed and was supposed to be in the Bahamas.

    Upon reading it a second time, I am thinking that the author left his home state for a vacation that started in Florida and would continue to the Bahamas?

  9. I was in Pittsburg the week end of “Orlando “, 100,000 in town for the pride parade , 100,00 outside watching the Stanley cup and us for 2 baseball games oh and Trump was in town.

    My 3 ccw’s are not good in Penn. and of course PNC Park .

    It was relatively easy to get my Spyderco past the metal detectors at the ball park. Which was nice for the walk back to the hotel after the games .

    • I’ve had my pocket P238 beep one of those wands at a sporting event. Must be so many false positives the security folks didn’t even question the beep or ask me anything. Maybe it had something to do with carrying my 2 year old daughter…

      • At baseball games, just put your right to bear arm in your cooler. The cooler does not go through the metal detector. The just look inside but do not empty the contents. Once inside, go to the nearest bathroom stall, transgender or otherwise, and strap up.

  10. I chartered a sailboat in Fort Lauderdale and sailed to the Bahamas with my family
    We had a folding stock AK 47 and the Bahamian customs had no problems with our being armed
    They just recorded the serial number
    They did count our ammo so we could not sell any
    All the U.S. Boats we met were armed

  11. You don’t know where you’ll be when something bad happens, but it’d be a very safe bet that you’ll be a Gun Free Zone.

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