There I was, walking down the aisle in my usual Wal-mart, and there he was, in front of me, browsing through the $5 movie bin. He looked like he’d been twenty-one for about three hours. He didn’t look angry, or evil, or really like he was paying much attention to anything at all. What attracted my gaze?
The Smith and Wesson M&P proudly displayed on his hip. Black gun, black holster, a little velcro strap holding it in there. I wondered if I could yank it off his hip without him stopping me. (Probably.) I wondered if he knew I was carrying too. (Doubtful.)
This is the world we live in now, at least in Nevada, where open carry is legal.
I remember a friend coming back from Costa Rica in the early 90’s and showing me a photo of the young toughs who acted as community servants with their motorcycles, machetes, and machine guns. They were the guardians of that country, hanging out on corners to make sure no one broke the law. They had no uniforms. I remember saying that I would be scared to wander around in a place where those muscle-bound young men with guns were the last resort for protection. What did it say about Costa Rica?
It is scary to see a young man carrying a gun, no doubt about it. I can’t imagine that this fellow has the training or the judgement to properly use that firearm in any situation. I shudder to think what a grandmother, passing him on the way to get her groceries, must think. And yet, I understand the concept behind it. If someone walked into that Wal-mart wanting to indiscriminately harm people, would they be deterred by that young man, who no doubt went and bought himself a firearm and then said, dammit, I can legally carry it, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I mean, why else did I buy it? I’ve got to do something with it.
I see more and more of them. They’re almost always young. None of them look like they have any sense. But I still think I like it. Because I think that the answer to my question above-can their presence, can their bearing arms in public, be a deterence to the random violence that seems to be the newsworthy story of our age-may be yes. I think that people who randomly shoot other people are cowardly, and the presence of any gun-toting person may definitely deter them, make them go somewhere else for their targets.
My friend who came back from Costa Rica said it was the most peaceful, friendly place he’d ever been. He couldn’t wait to go back. Is it a shame that, to keep the peace, we need to return to the Old West, with six shooters on all our hips? Yes, it is a shame. Might it also be the answer? Yes, it might.