Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My question is—are these guys early adopters or late neanderthals?

Packing in public: Gun owners tired of hiding their weapons embrace 'open carry'

I knew I should have blogged this yesterday when, mysteriously, this LA Times piece appeared in the paper formerly known as my local paper. See Dave Neiwert at Orcinius for an educated take on this. I prefer to point and hoot:

PROVO, UTAH -- For years, Kevin Jensen carried a pistol everywhere he went, tucked in a shoulder holster beneath his clothes.

These guys are strong, capable, determined—they can be trusted with guns at all times because they put public safety above all other considerations...except chafing. More...

In hot weather the holster was almost unbearable. Pressed against Jensen's skin, the firearm was heavy and uncomfortable. Hiding the weapon made him feel like a criminal.

They're normal too, just like the rest of us

"What we're trying to say is, 'Hey, we're normal people who carry guns,' " said Travis Deveraux, 36, of West Valley, a Salt Lake City suburb. Deveraux works for a credit card company and sometimes walks around town wearing a cowboy hat and packing a pistol in plain sight. "We want the public to understand it's not just cops who can carry guns."

So far, public feedback has been good:

Now Jensen carries his Glock 23 openly into his bank, restaurants and shopping centers. He wore the gun to a Ron Paul rally. He and his wife, Clachelle, drop off their 5-year-old daughter at elementary school with pistols hanging from their hip holsters, and have never received a complaint or a wary look.

Although there have been a few, tiny, hiccups in the new system:

Police Chief John Greiner recalled that last year in Ogden, Utah, a man was openly carrying a shotgun on the street. When officers pulled up to ask him about the gun, he started firing. Police killed the man.

And sometimes you get the feeling these guys have a little too much to prove in some other departments:

Travis White, 19, who has ear and chin piercings, congratulated Brandon Trask, 21, on carrying openly for the first time that night. "Just wait until you get confronted by a cop," White said. "It'll make you feel brave."

While as for others, they have a point:

Glancing around the restaurant, as armed families like the Jensens dined with men in cowboy hats and professionals like himself, Thompson smiled.

"I love this," he said. "I want people to be aware that crazy people are not the only ones with guns. Normal people carry them."

Okay, granted, but which is which?