Why I Carry

Reflections on the first week - part 1, No. 6a, 12 December, 2000

by Paul Hager © 2000

IC Title 35, Article 47, Chapter 2. Regulation of Handguns

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

As some may have guessed observing the hiatus extending between installments 4 and 5, and my statement last time about flagging resolve, I've been approaching this week with a little hesitation. As I write this (day 2), I have yet to be in a social interaction in which my carrying has been a factor. This is not too surprising: Winter has arrived and I'm wearing a heavy jacket whenever I'm out of the house.

Of course, I fully expected this. It actually fits into the approach I'm using for this political action. My intention is to work this in slow easy stages. I want to begin by using the least threatening demeanor while allowing the person I interact with to see that I'm armed. For example, look at the picture that graces my home page. Note the holster I'm wearing. It completely hides the gun while making it perfectly unambiguous that I'm wearing a gun holster.

At a later stage -- to be determined -- I will be carrying a Glock 21 in a black leather, hi-retention holster. For those who know guns, a Makarov (see picture caption) is a knock-off of (or closely resembles) the Walther PPK that James Bond carried. In fact, I pointed this out to my wife while watching Goldfinger for the umpteenth time. I also pointed out that he was wearing a gray, three-piece suit -- just like the three I have hanging in the closet. This is purely an interesting coincidence, trust me. I much prefer the Glock and a plaid shirt. For the uninitiated a .45 Glock 21 is a black, large caliber semi-auto of the kind carried by police. It intimidates by mere size. Since I don't want to be intimidating, even though the Glock is what I usually carry concealed, I'm going to start out with the Makarov.

I'm not going to say anything more about what I'm up to -- I don't want to bias things too much. But I think it's important to let anyone who reads this know that I'm trying to approach this action with some intellectual deliberation. I want to educate, but I also want to learn. I want to learn what sort of political approach works.

In order to better understand my thinking here, let me share how I personally have reacted to situations involving people having and carrying guns.

The first occasion was at an afternoon showing of Conan the Destroyer (1984) with a couple of friends of mine. I saw a stocky fellow taking his seat a couple of rows ahead who was wearing a striped tank top which rode up to show a pistol in a back holster. I found this somewhat unsettling and pointed it out to my buddy. I was wondering what his reaction was -- pretty much the same as mine as it turned out. After a brief exchange, I quietly went and informed the manager. I told him it was a little strange for someone to bring a gun into a theater. I returned to my seat and I saw the manager talking to the guy. Then the manager came over and said to me that the guy was an off-duty police officer, had a license, and was encouraged by this department to carry off-duty. I have no way of knowing whether or not the guy told the manager the truth, but the manager's reaction was, oh, everything is OK now. I was willing to go along with this explanation since the manager was aware of the situation. (See Introduction for where this fits in the timeline of how my attitude about firearms has evolved.)

The second occasion was two years later. I was in Los Angeles and divorced. I had joined a video dating service -- it cost something like $1000 for 18 months. An amazing experience that I keep threatening to chronicle under the title, To Live and Date in L.A. In any case, one of the women who asked me out on a date was an athletic young lady (one of the characteristics I reported liking in women) with whom I had almost nothing in common. We had a pleasant enough evening -- I took her out to a restaurant that served "macrobiotic" food. I don't recall the details of the cuisine anymore, suffice that there was nothing I found appetizing. When I dropped her at her apartment she invited me in. At some point she mentioned that she kept a loaded .38 under her pillow. As politely as I could, I begged off and said that I had to get up early for work in the morning and I had a mild headache. Admittedly, I wasn't that attracted to the woman since other than both of us liking to run and work out, we were polar opposites. But I was a bit taken aback by the gun, so rather than stopping in for a brief chat, I decided to split. In retrospect, I've wondering what sort of message she was sending to me. Was she saying, "This is just going to be a friendly visit -- I've got a gun so be a gentleman" -- or was she saying, "Since you like self-assured, aggressive women (written in my profile), I've got a gun -- and I keep it in my bed." You be the judge.

So, I know from my own experience at least how one person might react to encountering someone with a gun.

A very good friend of mine -- who was one of the friends with me for Conan -- has been given the full explanation of what I'm doing here. Since I trust his judgment, I wanted to get some feedback. I would characterize it as concern. He's given me what I consider a pretty accurate worst-case scenario since it comports with mine. In describing his role, he said, "I'm the little bird who perches on your shoulder and says, 'Warning!'".

I do have a sense of where this all can lead, and I'm not just referring to some socially unpleasant encounters. I admit that when I decided for practical reasons that a delay was necessary, I actually felt relieved rather than disappointed. The reason for the delay, incidentally, was that I planned to issue a press release to the local media to coincide with the beginning of the action. Clearly, my limited capital as a past candidate for federal office isn't going to buy me any space while major historical events are going on. Temporizing seemed like the logical solution.

This past weekend, however, I decided that I could no longer afford to wait. I've kicked things off with the intention of issuing a press release when the Presidential election controversy is no longer commanding everyone's attention.