Petzal: Just Because You Can

Thirty-odd years ago I got a pistol permit for the county in which I live, and because the law was so vague I asked the detective who processed my application what it meant in real terms when it came to carrying the gat.

"We don't care what you do," he said. "Just don't go showing it off in public." This was good advice 30 years ago, and it still is.

I'm referring, of course, to meet-ups, the social occasions where people who believe in open carry get together in public to display their hardware and to hopefully provoke lawmakers into making it easier to carry concealed. Starbucks has been the host to meet-ups, and to its everlasting credit has refused to turn its pistol-packing customers away, despite enraged screeches from appalled anti-gunners.

If you want to carry openly and can do it legally, why have at it. But be reminded of the following. Many people, when they see a gun riding on the belt of someone who is not obviously a cop, are startled, shocked, or scared pissless, and when they learn that packing heat openly is legal, they may decide that it should not be legal, and will vote accordingly.

And there is a more practical side. As the fabric of our society continues to disintegrate and every whack job with a grievance decides to get his (or her) 15 minutes of fame with a gun (or a light plane)--absolutely guaranteed by the media--you would do well to be careful about displaying weapons lest your motives be misconstrued by the nearest cop. The officer who fires a warning shot through your heart will feel terrible about it after he learns that you were only expressing a political opinion. You, however, will not feel much of anything, ever again.