Why I Carry

Meetings and Montessori and Greens, oh my, No. 10, 14 January, 2001

by Paul Hager © 2001

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

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

This week I attended New Year kick-off meetings for two different organizations. The Monroe County Libertarian Party held its regular monthly meeting at the Irish Lion restaurant in Bloomington. I was penciled into the agenda to give a short speech that would bring everyone up to date about my self-defense campaign. There were a number of questions about goals and strategy. I said that at some point it is my intention to challenge Gary, Indiana's anti-carry ordinance. With proper preparation and the right plaintiff, this should be a walkover for our side that will set the stage for subsequent legal action against more deeply entrenched opponents.

My second meeting was on Wednesday evening with an Indianapolis group called S.A.F.E., which is an acronym for Second Amendment is For Everyone. I told the S.A.F.E. folks about my plans for the coming weeks and months, which they endorsed. I will defer discussing those plans here until I've had a chance to put them into play and see if they achieve the desired goals.

Both of my daughters attend the Bloomington Montessori School. My youngest wanted me to come and see her in a program her class was putting on called "Culture Fest". I told her I would, but warned her that because I would be wearing my holster, there was a chance I'd be asked to leave. I have to say that of all the various places I've carried openly, I expected Montessori to be the most likely to produce a negative reaction. Of course, I've usually carried when I've gone there in the past, but I was carrying concealed. Some of the parents there know that I carry and are supporters of the right of self-defense. But, a fairly large number of parents are connected with Indiana University, and have a political orientation that is distinctly anti-self-defense.

The event started at 5 PM -- I arrived about 2 minutes early. After dispensing with my coat, I went to the room where all of the kids and parents were and found my wife and daughter. The room was literally packed. I told my wife that I was keeping track on my watch of the elapsed time so as to be able to record how long it took for me to be asked to leave. Nothing happened for the entire duration of the event -- one hour. I'm fairly certain that some people knew about my campaign and saw the holster. However, I'm guessing that most of the parents there were focused on their kids and just didn't see it. They didn't expect to see a holster and their brains didn't process what their eyes may have seen.

Saturday was a full day. It began with a sortie to the College Mall to get a haircut. At one time the College Mall (which is owned by the same people who own the Circle Center Mall in downtown Indianapolis) had signs posted that no guns were allowed anywhere on the premises unless carried by police and /or security personnel. Those signs have been removed in the past year or so. The owner of the barbershop is a personable fellow with whom I usually talk politics, and this occasion was no exception. It was only near the end of the haircut and our conversation that he asked how my carry campaign was going. I said that it was surprisingly uneventful. He said that he approved of what I was doing and wished me well.

I was supposed to meet a buddy of mine to go to the YMCA and work out at one o' clock, which left me some time to kill. I had uncharacteristically gotten 9 hours sleep the night before and was feeling drugged, so I went to the coffee shop in the Borders bookstore to imbibe a legal central nervous system stimulant. After purchasing the aforementioned drug and a blueberry scone, I discovered that there were no empty tables so I asked a young woman if I could sit with her. She was shortly joined by a friend visiting from Louisville, Kentucky. The three of us ended up talking about politics -- mostly Social Security privatization and what was in store for the Bush administration. It transpired that both of my companions were fairly libertarian. When I left, I gave them each one of my cards on which I wrote the URL of the national Libertarian Party.

At the YMCA, I left the gun/holster locked in my car. The YMCA is posted no guns, but I wouldn't have the gun with me during a workout in any case. After doing weights with my buddy, I went to the track to do my solo run and saw Bob Zaltsberg, the editor of the Herald-Times, go jogging past. I caught up with him and struck up a conversation. After an exchange of the usual pleasantries, he asked if my gun was in my car (since I was obviously unarmed). I averred that it was and that I had never worked out while carrying a gun, though I asserted that it would be a good idea for women running or bicycling to carry a small pistol in a pack. I asked Bob if he'd visited my web site, and when he answered that he hadn't I informed him that I'd criticized the H-T in a recent piece in this series (see The new millenium). In fairness, Bob makes a genuine effort to be conscientious and unbiased and I've frequently defended his editorial policies both verbally and in print. In an unguarded moment on local talk radio Bob once admitted that he'd even voted Libertarian, so he's clearly open to libertarian ideas. Bob defended the placement of the national story about the office shooting in Massachusetts first. I said, OK, I'll accept that. But how about a story that appeared yesterday (Friday) in which a man in Bloomington shot and wounded his wife. Since we both agree that violence against women is a national problem, why was an assault by a man front page news but armed defense by a woman buried with no follow-up? Bob acknowledged that I had a point. I left it there, having planted a seed.

On Sunday, I was a participant in a forum on the 2000 election and voting reform sponsored by the Monroe County Green Party. My talk was entitled Approval Voting: Rational, Constitutional Electoral Reform. Appearing as a panelist in this forum posed a dilemma for me to solve. Since I was asked to participate on the basis of my being a former Libertarian Congressional candidate, I followed my usual practice and wore a suit and tie. Displaying the holster openly would necessitate that I "dress down". The other problem was that, were I to remove my suit jacket, I would still either be seated at a table or speaking from behind a podium. Either eventuality would make the holster hard to see. I could have done various things that would have called attention to the fact that I was carrying but that would be going against my own program as well as being perceived by the organizers as hijacking their event. My solution was to invite several of my libertarian friends to be in the audience -- at some point in the Q&A session, one of them would ask me an off-topic question about my self-defense campaign and if I was carrying. That would allow me to respond in the affirmative, let everyone know what I was doing, and then return to the topic of the forum. In the event, none of my shills showed up. Although the forum went well and I was able to present arguments in support of the Electoral College that other panelists and members of the audience hadn't considered, it did nothing to advance the cause. Some rethinking of strategy when confronted with similar events is clearly in order.

Tomorrow, I appear on the Stan Soloman show at 3 PM.