Some of you, including my mother, probably figured that I’d be all bent out of shape by Target Corporation’s new policy on guns in their stores. You would be wrong.
It’s simple: it’s their playground and if they don’t want guns in the store they get to say that to the world. I think it’s a dumb policy, poorly phrased to address the issue they were confronting, and it will certainly keep a lot of people off the lot and usher them to Walmart.
For those of you who don’t know the background on this, I’ll provide a taste of the conundrum Target faced, as well as my reasons for not getting all wrapped around my axle on this issue.
First, I’m a Life Member of the NRA – I’m actually some kind of grand-poobah member, I paid the extra couple-of-hundred bucks to secure my genuine commemorative knife and beat back the foes of the Second Amendment. I say that seriously: if you like the First Amendment, you have to support the Second Amendment. I have also had a concealed carry permit for a number of years (off-and-on) in a state where people poop their depends when you say “gun.” I never talk about when I carry, but it is a fact of my life. So, over the 30+ years I’ve carried a firearm, would you like to guess how many times I’ve even pulled the thing and pointed it at someone?
Yeah, in your dreams. Let’s just say that it is a rare occasion and fully warranted under the law (and well past the statute of limitations on the issue…) My point is that I am a highly-trained, licensed person who has no joy in the prospect of taking a life. But I still think that non-felons, and the folks who are legally able to carry, have a certain moral obligation to be prepared to do so. Mainly because police officers are really heavy to carry around. The average cop, even the skinny ones, tilts the scales at well over 150 pounds with body armor, radios, weapons, and all that stuff. Don’t even think about throwing in a canine partner. I’d never get past my garage with that load. But a 9mm pistol is under 5 pounds. Way under. With ammunition. Lots of ammunition. I can carry that all day and never be tired.
And more than once I’ve been truly thankful that I’ve done just that, and gotten out of the scrape with nobody hurt. But it did stop, on two occasions, acts of extreme violence that were about to take place. You never hear about those on the news. Kind of like jobs saved. Invisible. Prove it, etc. But it’s the simple truth: that loaded handgun saved lives.
So, are my papers in order? Do I have a right to discuss this topic? Yup. Now, on to what Target was facing.
In some parts of the country there is a movement to openly carry weapons. In those states it is legal, without a permit, to carry a firearm in public. It’s one way to keep people thinking about the Second Amendment – exercise the right in public. Most of the time the organizers call the local police and say, “Hey, we’re having a rally next Saturday in the parking lot down at Harry’s Hamburger Haven. We wanted to let you know that all of our members will be legally carrying a gun, some of them rifles, some shotguns, all of them loaded. We don’t want any trouble, so we’re letting you know what’s up as a courtesy.” Most law enforcement departments do well with that sort of thing. They like the heads up. And the rally goes off peacefully and everyone wins.
Then, (and here’s where I will attract much fecal matter from the haters) there’s another group with the same goal as the group above, but lacking the common courtesy. They feel that nobody needs to be notified, nobody needs to answer questions, nobody needs to be involved except them because it’s their legal right. So they get a group, sometimes as small as two or three people, and they grab their shotgun and their rifle, and they head off to Target, Starbucks, McDonalds, etc., and walk around with the weapons openly displayed. Well within their legal rights, but pushing an issue that scares people. Speaking as a guy with a gun myself, if I saw three dudes walk into the same store as me, and they all were carrying rifles on their shoulders, I’d be dialing 911 and looking for a good place to shoot back from before they got going on their murderous rampage.
Perception is a big part of any publicity stunt. I, for example, am legally able to put on a thong, and then create garments with clear plastic wrap that cover my body. No naughty bits showing, covering on all surfaces, perfectly legal. But I’d be a complete jackass to do it, and it would gross out most people that eat. Ever. For a really long time. So I don’t do it in consideration of their feelings. Same thing with hauling a pump shotgun into the coffee shop: it’s legal but it’s not good imagery.
Target was getting this on a semi-regular basis in a few places. Another group, an astro-turf bunch of ninnies that think nobody should have a gun anywhere or anytime, counter protested them – basically to bait the guys with rifles into being aggressive and stupid and looking bad on camera. Target looked at the money, and only the money. Customers don’t generally try to push past guys with guns. They go elsewhere. So Target asked all of us not to bring our guns into the store. Okay. I simply won’t be in to shop. Lots of other places to go for what I need.
Target, just like Starbucks before them, suffered at the hands of the corporate image makers and lawyers. What they should have said, instead of asking all of us not to bring guns into the stores (and you’ll never know how many people carry concealed all the time) was, “We honor the Second Amendment, but respectfully request that our customers not openly carry weapons in the store as it disturbs some of our patrons and we want the experience in Target to be good for everyone. Concealed carry permit weapons are perfectly legal and we have no issue with legal carry.
But you know what would have been even better? If they guys with the rifles and the shotguns had been thinking about common courtesy before they became committed to being famous. The first group I mentioned got their point across peacefully. But the second group that aggressively pushed the issue in small numbers, scared citizens. I get it. It would scare me. It has in the past. (that’s a great story, by the way, buy me a coffee and I’ll tell you about the Uzi I grabbed away – well, back to the point.)
Folks, all of us have to get along better than this. Be polite and respectful of others. Take their sensitivities into account (but don’t cave in) when making your plans. Most of all, don’t make me get the thong out.
I won’t be shopping at Target. They did ask nicely. But I haven’t seen that sign up at Walmart. I buy a lot of stuff there this time of year. Works out well. I’m not going to tell you what to do, that’s your choice. Ain’t Murica great?
Well, gotta go clean my rifle. I have some shopping to do. Not. Later folks, be safe out there.