As I’m enjoying my dinner, a man walks in with a gun. Few were in the place, so there was not a mad reaction. This man had a gun. It was a good size pistol, right there in the restaurant. It was a startling thing. But my reaction was the opposite of what you might imagine and I was personally struck by this.
I felt safer than before he walked in. Why?
This man was a dressed casually, but nicely, in jeans, cowboy boots and an outdoor work shirt, tucked in. He had his pistol neatly holstered to his substantive leather belt. There was no reason to think he was a law enforcement authority who would naturally carry a gun. He simply appeared to be a regular, but responsible, citizen with a fire arm strapped to his side. (Colorado permits open carry.)
It did startle me because you don’t normally see such a thing in public life. As quickly as I felt the startle, I realized that if something were to go south in this taco place, a terrorist attack or a robbery, I’d be much safer with this particular man with his gun there. Then I wondered why I felt this way. What made this different than another, different person totting a gun through the door?
It was how the gun was displayed.
Ironically because it was in clear sight. If he had the gun obviously hidden, but easily accessible tucked under a coat, that would have had me hit the floor. If he had it clearly in the open, in his hand, even more scary!
But this man had the gun, safely tucked away, but clearly ready to use it if needed. Does one hold a gun like that if he means harm? Anyone knew he had that gun for protective reasons, for a noble purpose. It was not for evil. It was not for sport, but for protection of himself and others.
You could also tell by the way he carried the gun that he likely knew how to handle it in such a situation. He had a humble confidence, it wasn’t for show or as a statement. That is important.
Guns in public can be scary for sure. Especially in a society where mass shootings have sadly become regular events. But guns can also be comforting, as this man’s presence demonstrated to me. It is not the gun itself that determines this, but in whose hand it is and how they intend to handle it.
I’m glad that that man with that gun was there, even if he might ever need to use it.