Karin Bugge of Altadena, California isn’t afraid of her neighbors. She’s not afraid of strangers on the street. Writing for altadeena.patch.com, Ms. Bugge pens a piece announcing her fearless support of Assemblyman Tortantino’s bill to ban citizens from openly carrying long guns. (The bill would close the “long gun loophole,” now that the Golden State has banned civilians from openly carrying handguns). Bugge wonders why anyone would be so frightened as to carry a long gun *gasp* in public . . .
Anthony Portantino has introduced a bill to ban the open-carry of rifles in public. This seems like such a reasonable bill, such a no-brainer, I’ve been nonplussed by the sturm and drang emanating from the gun advocate corner. I wonder about all these folks who are afraid to leave the house unescorted, without a lethal weapon by their side. I wonder what extra baggage, besides that rifle and ammo clip, they might be carrying.
Okay, a couple of nits need picking before we get to the substance.
First, it is traditional to italicize foreign words when writing for publication. Second, it is more usual, when using a foreign phrase to keep the original language throughout. The German phrase is sturm und drang (literally storm and stress) and means turmoil or uproar; by stating it as sturm and drang Ms. Bugge it would be assumed that she means the literal words rather than the idiom.
There. I feel better. On to the meat of the matter . . .
Only it’s really hard to address this sort of question on any sort of substantive basis, as Ms. Bugge’s polemic is based on a false assumption. None of the gun owners I know are afraid of people in general. Some of them are/were/may be afraid of a specific person (e.g., their stalker, an ex, a disgruntled business partner). But even in these cases I don’t think the word “afraid“ is correct. “Concerned”—leading, perhaps, to “alarmed”—would be a better term.
The people I know who carry a firearm in public don’t live as if they’re in the federal Witness Protection program. They are aware that there is someone out there, somewhere, who may mean them harm and they have taken the steps they feel necessary to protect themselves. They do not, as Ms. Bugge implies, spend every day trembling with the anticipation of being attacked.
I’ve run into this attitude before, the assumption that I carry a weapon (or two) because I am anticipating a violent encounter at any minute. There’s an old joke about a fancy dinner party and a woman notices that the man next to her is carrying a pistol. She asks him if he is expecting trouble, to which he replies “No ma’am, if I was expecting trouble I would have brought a rifle.”
I don’t walk out the door expecting trouble just as I don’t get in the car expecting an accident or a flat tire, but I still have insurance and carry a spare. Ms. Bugge (okay, I’m going to switch to Karin now, I hope she doesn’t mind) continues:
With all the noise and obfuscation, it might have escaped notice that the proposed bill has absolutely no impact on one’s ability to keep a firearm in the privacy of one’s own home.
No, Karin, it hasn’t escaped our notice. It’s just completely irrelevant.
But some gun advocates feel their rights are in danger if they’re not able to flash their guns and ammo in public.
The California open carry movement wasn’t (isn’t?) about “flashing” a gun. It was about citizens protesting their inability to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear (as in carry) arms. Because unless you’re rich, famous or politically connected, it’s virtually impossible to get a concealed carry permit (still is, for that matter) within California’s urban enclaves.
To drive this political point home (without the risk of becoming a felon) gun rights advocates started carrying the only way they could: openly with unloaded guns.
So, in a sense, you could say that Assemblyman Portantino’s AB 144 and proposed long gun ban are, in fact, all about stifling unpopular political dissent. He and “Bull” Connor probably would have gotten along famously, trading stories about quelling protests and protesters.
As for the danger of open carry, fuhgeddaboutit. Despite the level-headed assurances of some cops, it was primarily the police (officers like East Palo Alto Det. Rod Tuason for example) who caused problems and confrontations with open carriers.
Karin’s confusion on these issues is without bounds. She displays a classic misinterpretation of what constitutes a “right”:
Well, this member of the public feels her rights are very much in danger if they’re able to do so. And not just because of the intimidation factor. There is no guarantee that whoever carries a gun has any sense of aim, any sense of how of when to use a lethal weapon, or any sense, period.
If something requires positive action on the part of someone else, then it is not “a right.” The right to worship as I choose does not mean that the government must supply me with a church. I believe it was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who said “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
To put it in terms Karin might understand, my right to carry a weapon doesn’t end when she sees me with a gun and wets herself. It ends when I shoot at her. Which of course, I would never do—unless she posed an imminent, credible threat to my life or the life of my loved ones, and imminence was imminent.
As for “the intimidation factor” posed by people exercising their 2A rights in public, I’m 6’5″ tall, 300+ pounds, I have a shaved head and a big red . . . okay, formerly red, now graying, beard. People routinely ask me if I ride a Harley. One of my friends used to (affectionately) call me a Viking axe murderer (innocent). Are you saying that I should not be able to walk down the street because my size and demeanor might intimidate you?
Finally, for someone who says she is “not afraid of people; neighbors or strangers with whom I share the streets, parks, shops, gas stations” Karin seem awfully afraid of, well, people with whom she shares the streets, parks, shops and gas stations—if those people are openly carrying an unloaded firearm. Just sayin’.
 “[G]ang members aren’t known to open carry.”
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Phelps, San Bernadino Sun, September 6, 2010
“We don’t suggest that people panic,
because there hasn’t been a problem with open-carry demonstrations in other cities.”
Palo Alto, CA police Lt. Sandra Brown, Mercury News, March 5, 2010