Composed by Johnny Cash, and released on The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1959), this song may well be the best advice that I can think of in light of all of the Open Carry Texas bullshit. To be absolutely certain, Texas law does permit people to openly carry “long firearms” like rifles and shotguns. Legally, there’s no problem… except when people take their guns to places where alcoholic beverages are sold, like Target, in which case it’s against the law.
Why am I, a guy who works in a library and who likes to write stories, weighing in on this controversial topic? Well it started with an article forwarded to my department by one of my coworkers (who always regales us with fascinating and thought-provoking articles)… this one. Reading this certainly did provoke some thought. I have daughters… two of them… and perhaps I’m an idiot or just ridiculously naive, but I’ve never felt a need or desire to buy a gun to protect them… not a serious need/desire, anyway. Jokingly, I’ve told my girls that I intend to meet their first boyfriends at the door wearing a tutu and holding a shotgun… but that’s just to alarm the kids… you know: dad humor.
This isn’t funny, it’s sad. It smacks of victim hood… this is what happens when there’s too much fear-mongering — people get scared, and they turn to an easily misinterpreted passage in The Constitution to justify their “need” to arm themselves against an enemy that’s not coming… at least not in any way that an AK-47 used to hunt deer (???) will be meaningfully useful… but that’s the post-9/11 world we live in. This isn’t funny either… in fact this is down right, motherfucking scary! It’s no wonder organizations like Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are up in arms (no pun intended… seriously, I didn’t even think about that until after I read it back to myself… but I’m leaving it…). According to the ABC article I linked to: “FBI data shows that firearms are responsible for 69 percent of homicides in the United States,” however, other stats you find roving around the old interwebs will tell you other stories… like the Guns And the Christian site which posts “Facts you can use,” and says, “it is instructive to compare the non-firearms murder rate in the U.S. to the total murder rates in those countries which have strict gun control; e.g., Japan, where the total murder rate of .6 per 100,000 is about one quarter of the non-firearms murder rate in the U.S. This proves that the absence of firearms does not lead to lower murder rates.”
It’s hard to believe statistics because they can be skewed in any direction to make the issue appear to be in favor of one side or the other. The media is notorious for headlines like: “Violence up 60% over last year’s stats.” That sounds like a lot, unless you look at the data which may show that last year there were only four violent crimes and this year there are ten… that’s up 60%, right (or something like that… I suck at math…). It’s important to take all statistics with a grain of salt, especially if there’s a politician, activist, extremist, or other shithead waving them around. Don’t believe them because — holy shit — they lie. No, seriously… people lie to get their way; I know it’s a difficult concept to grasp. I’m being partly facetious here, but we all suffer from confirmation bias; that is, we tend to gravitate toward the things which agree with our beliefs and ignore the stuff that contradicts them.
I don’t give a shit if people own guns. I know many very responsible gun owners, and I know plenty of people who should be legally restricted from owning any sort of implement with which they can do harm to themselves or others. Personally, I’d never own a firearm — I’m not interested. I’ve fired a variety of firearms (handguns and long guns), mostly in my youth, and my take on the whole experience is, meh. I’m not scared. I’m not a pacifist, although I have a very strong leaning in the direction of peacefulness. I don’t need a firearm to prove anything to anyone. I appreciate the fact that I have a legal right to own a firearm, and that the state in which I reside gives me the legal right to carry around a long gun if I so choose, but the Open Carry movement is all twisted up over a “can/should” issue. Can Texas folks carry their long guns openly? Yes, legally they can. Should Texas folks carry their long guns openly? Well… I’m going to say, probably not… but that’s my opinion.
I hesitate to say, “it shouldn’t be done because seeing weapons carried openly like that upsets people,” because seeing public displays of affection between gay/bisexual/transgendered/trans-sexual/queer people upsets people (doesn’t bother me any… affection is a good thing) and it’s most definitely not in the same fucking ball park. I think brandishing weapons and being “in your face” about it is irresponsible… doing that with weapons which are loaded is on an order of magnitude even more irresponsible, and in light of the mass shootings in recent history, it’s insensitive… and that makes Open Carry folks dicks. Wheaton’s Law, folks: Don’t be a dick!
“Leave your guns at home, don’t take your guns to town…”