Sunday, August 24, 2014

Guns in Kroger and the myth of the open-carry Old West

You never know what mortal dangers you might face at the Kroger pharmacy, so be packing!

This story from HuffPo gives me deja vu from February 2013, because gun nuts have chosen Kroger stores to carry their AR-15s into as a display of their "rights." My response then still applies:

Imagine being with your child or grandchild and seeing this guy walk into the Kroger or Walmart before you toting an AR-15. At that moment, I guarantee that you won't be thinking, "Hooray for the Second Amendment!" You'll immediately go into fight-or-flight mode, fearing for the life of your child. You might use your own gun, preemptively, if you have one, creating all kinds of deadly confusion.

You might dial 911 and precipitate a costly and dangerous emergency, or a standoff situation if the guy is itching for it. In any case, I guarantee that you wouldn't not feel terror, it's just human instinct.

This is the country that the NRA and GOP have given us. This is not the country of our grandparents; there's nothing "conservative" or traditionally American about a guy casually walking into a grocery store with a deadly weapon that can fire more than 120 rounds per minute.

On the flip side, I have a second protest against an open-carry society: ironically, it would dull the instincts of those who carry guns to protect themselves and put them in danger. I mean, if everybody's carrying a gun and there's nothing alarming about that anymore, then how much time would you have to react if one of those folks in the crowd decides to point and shoot you? A second, maybe. Whereas if you see a guy with a gun today, in most cases, you're either immediately running away, calling the police or getting ready to defend yourself.  

That's why even in the Old West, where today we imagine everybody and his granny was packing, in fact many towns practiced gun control, for example in famous Dodge City, as my man Leonard Pitts recently pointed out: "Forget that myth about open carry’s Old West roots."

By Ben Hallman
August 18, 2014 | Huffington Post

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