Why I Carry

Reflections on the first week - part 2, No. 6b, 17 December, 2000

by Paul Hager © 2000

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

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

Before I getting into part 2 of my discussion of the first week, I wanted to say a bit more about the mode of carry that I've chosen. As previously stated, the Makarov holster has a flap, secured by a leather strap, that completely encloses the pistol. In order to remove the pistol from the holster, it is necessary to undo the strap, open the flap, and then to pull a cord under the pistol that raises it high enough out of the holster that it can be grasped by the hand and removed. From the self-defense standpoint, this arrangement is far from ideal because it is so time consuming to bring the pistol into action. However, the pistol is secure such that it would be essentially impossible for anyone to "pick my pocket" or otherwise take it away from me. The fact that the pistol is concealed by the holster also means that it is impossible for anyone to know for certain if there is actually anything in the holster. A modicum of uncertainty may help to raise the comfort level of people who have never seen anyone other than police wearing a sidearm.

I've already said that if you've lived in Bloomington and seen me around town during the last seven years, the odds are good that I've been armed. The holster serves as a visible clue that I'm probably armed. The rule that I will follow is to not advertise the holster/pistol, but if asked about it to show my license to verify that I'm compliant with state law.

Thus far, no one has taken any notice of the holster. This is not altogether surprising given where I've been. On Saturday, I took my wife and oldest daughter to see Unbreakable, the new movie by M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense). I had seen the movie the previous weekend, and wanted to see it again. Aside from that, in the event that the management wanted me to leave, I wouldn't be missing out on anything.

The movie was being shown in the new West side cineplex, which has stadium-style seating. I found seats in the middle of the theater, which would be most visible by people entering. However, practically speaking, the holster was clearly visible for only a few seconds when I removed my jacket before I sat down. Once I was seated and the lights were lowered, no one was going to notice it. If anyone saw the holster, it apparently elicited no reaction.

When seeing a first-run movie in Bloomington, the only option is to see it in one of the Kerasotes chain's theaters. It was the Kerasotes theater in the College Mall where I saw Conan back in 1984. It will be interesting to see how Kerasotes handles me when I eventually get noticed since I do have the one prior data point relating to armed patrons.

I want to make a couple of comments about Unbreakable itself that bear on the subject of carry. In an early scene, the security guard played by Bruce Willis suspects that a man coming into a college football stadium is armed. This is considered a problem, and a security guard with Willis starts to pat people down in the line ahead of the man. Pennsylvania is one of the states which has shall-issue carry licenses. Yet, the movie implicitly takes the position that people shouldn't have their self-defense weapons with them at all times. If people leave their guns in their cars it leaves them vulnerable to being mugged in the parking lot or in a restroom. Even worse was the idea presented by the movie that it was OK for private security guards to start laying hands on people. The circumstances in which police may do a pat-down are limited (not nearly enough due to numerous drug war "exceptions" to the Bill of Rights). Police would not have had the authority to conduct a pat-down in the situation presented in the movie. In reality, private security guards trying to pat people down against their will might constitute battery, and could expose the employer of the guards to civil liability.

Moreover, it is unclear whether or not the university depicted in the movie is state or private. It would be well within the right of the trustees of a private university to bar guns from campus, but a state university would arguably be violating the rights of citizens by interfering with their right of self-defense. This is particularly true in the case of Indiana University's no gun policy which almost certainly violates Article I, Section 32 of the Indiana Constitution.

After the movie, my wife expressed a craving for a cheeseburger. I suggested Opie Taylor's, which is located just off the square downtown. We got there around 5 PM, and there were few patrons present. While sitting in the booth it was hard to see the holster. Accordingly, when it came time to pay, I went to the register without my jacket. If anyone saw the holster, they made no comment. As is my wont, I struck up a conversation with our server as she was ringing up the bill. It transpired that this was the second of two jobs she works. Her husband is an I.U. student, and they have two kids they are sending to private school. Naturally, I talked about school choice and why I think it is so important for parents to have options other than what the state provides. When I told her that I was a Libertarian and had run for office, she gave me a thumbs up.

The final test for the weekend was the regular Sunday outing at the Uptown. I was sitting in such a way that servers could see the holster. Again, if they did, there was no comment.

The next step in the program will be the issuance of a press release. This should increase the likelihood that the holster will be noticed.