Why I Carry

Bye, Bye Billy, No. 11, 21 January, 2001

by Paul Hager © 2001

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

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

Yesterday, George W. Bush was inaugurated. This meant that Bill Clinton was no longer President. I've been anticipating this day since Clinton was elected to his 2nd term -- absent repeal of the 22nd Amendment, 20 January, 2001 would be the last day we would ever have to endure a Clinton administration. For all that time, I've wanted to celebrate Clinton's departure in some fashion. I wanted to have a formal occasion where I could say, "Bye, bye Billy, we're glad to see you go." Unfortunately, the only events of which I was aware were Republican-sponsored celebrations of the Bush inauguration. I have no real enmity toward Bush yet, but the only way I'm going to get excited about a new administration coming to power is if it's headed by a Libertarian. What I finally came up with was a party for two -- my wife and I would do dinner and a movie.

We ended up going to the Colorado Steak House for dinner. I sat holster-outward. My wife thought that the patrons at the table beside ours took notice but, if they did, nothing happened one way or the other. My wife and I ordered 9 ounce Jack Daniels marinated steaks, which were excellent.

The movie we selected was Thirteen Days, the inside story of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I've always thought that JFK was a terrible President and the Missile Crisis should never have taken place. However, for about 5 minutes after leaving the theater I actually experienced warm feelings for JFK -- a testament to how effective the movie was. One thing the movie captured particularly well was the extent to which the hawks tried to take advantage of the rules of engagement to force an escalation and push Kennedy in a direction he didn't want to go. At one point, in exasperation, JFK says that only he has the constitutional authority to make war. I leaned over and whispered to my wife, "What about Congress?" (I've written on the subject of war powers before -- see, Clinton's "Wag the Dog" problem due to Congressional surrender of war powers.)

JFK, ironically, was a member of the NRA. This was at a time when there was no active "gun control" movement and the NRA was primarily viewed as an organization of hunters who were concerned about wildlife and habitat conservation. Being a member of the NRA was politically smart back then and JFK was nothing if not politically savvy. Things have changed tremendously in the 38 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis, influenced in part by Kennedy's assassination. The NRA is labeled extremist even though it is, at best, an indifferent defender of RKBA. The incoming Bush administration, though not actively hostile to RKBA and the right of self-defense the way a Gore administration would have been, has nonetheless demonstrated that it is unwilling to take any political heat to defend our rights. A case in point is Bush's nominee for Attorney General, John Ashcroft. It has been reported in the press that under intense questioning, Ashcroft has said that the Brady Bill and the ban on so-called "assault weapons" are both constitutional. This is supposedly a complete reversal of the position he took as a Senator. I offer this as more evidence that defense of our rights has to be a bottom-up, grassroots effort. The Washington politicos cannot be trusted.

Other than the Saturday evening outing and the usual Sunday breakfast at the Uptown, the week was mostly a matter of passing out my "Why I Carry" cards to various people. I conclude this journal entry by relating just a couple of my encounters.

On Monday, I went on Stan Solomon's radio show. In recognition of Martin Luther King's birthday, Stan had Anaré Holmes, the editor of the Indianapolis Recorder, as his co-host for the day. The Recorder is a weekly newspaper that focuses on issues of interest to Indianapolis' African-American community. Anaré, Stan, and I talked a little bit about my "Why I Carry" campaign but we spent the bulk of my allotted hour discussing gun control. Anaré argued for "reasonable" regulation. Both Stan and I countered that regulations that sounded "reasonable" were just infringements of the camel's nose variety that set the stage for more restrictions down the line. Anaré said that he thought people did have the right to defend themselves and expressed no conviction that guns were evil. Though skeptical about some of what Stan and I had to say, he seemed open to considering the idea that perhaps gun control had gone too far. In our off-air discussions, it became clear that Anaré might well be congenial to a libertarian perspective. For example, at one point he talked about ending the drug war and legalizing at least some drugs -- an idea that is anathema to Stan. This allowed me to point out the similarity between drug prohibition and the current move toward gun prohibition. After the show, Anaré and I exchanged contact information and I suggested that we meet for lunch sometime. There may be more to report on this in the future.

On my daily commute, there is a convenience store north of Martinsville that I frequently use as my refueling stop. Early in the week, after I tanked up and added oil, when I went in to pay I noticed that the young woman behind the counter was new. While she was running my credit card, she asked if this store was a "meeting place". She wondered because a guy in a van had been sitting in the parking lot for an extended period. I said I didn't know. This led to a discussion about working in convenience stores and how risky an occupation it was. When she said that she didn't feel safe I asked her if she'd ever considered getting a gun. She said she'd thought about it and her boyfriend had made suggestions along those lines as well. Outside of Bloomington I'm not carrying openly at present, but at this point I opened my jacket to show her that I was armed. I also gave her one of my cards. We ended up chatting for about 10 minutes or so -- other than me and the guy in the van there was no one else around. By the time I left, I got the impression that she was ready to take the necessary steps to obtain a self-protection license and get a gun. As I went out to my car I scoped out the guy in the van, which was parked on the periphery of the lot. He gave every indication that he was waiting to meet someone, so I took no action and just drove away.

Next week I may be meeting with a pro-RKBA group in the southern part of the state. As always, anything of interest that transpires will be reported here.