Tales of a Feminist Gun Owner: Fear
July 8, 2011 7 Comments
For a variety of reasons, when I carry, I open carry. My handgun is there for all to see as I walk around. I do it mostly because I haven’t gotten my concealed carry license yet, but also because I want to be an example of a good gun owner.
That burden that I mentioned in this post, that is, the heavy responsibility that comes with choosing to carry a very dangerous tool, and the need to be sensitive to others’ reactions; to put them at ease–is a heavy one. I’ve chosen recently to keep my Ruger at home rather than take that burden up. Monday, I took it up again.
I sat in my car outside the gas station, debating whether or not to put it in my glovebox while I picked up a pack of cigarettes. It was a sunny Monday afternoon–but I know gas stations seem to be a favorite of thieves and armed robbers. I don’t want to frighten the gas station attendant. Finally, I decided to keep my Ruger on me, and my cheerful, sunny disposition coupled with my Southern manners will ease the tension brought by my gun.
It didn’t. I could see her glance down at my hip. She was nervous. I kept my hands on the counter or behind my back. I smiled. Please and thank you. I offered my ID. I did my best to put her at ease. The fear in her eyes did not go away. I returned to my car. I felt awful.
I wanted to toss my Ruger in the glove compartment and rush back inside and apologize over and over again. I fought that urge, because me rushing anywhere was a bad idea. Instead, I unwrapped my cigarettes and lit one up.
She was afraid of me. All I wanted was to escape that fear myself–and in so doing, I was inflicting it on others. I drove to a local coffee shop. I purchased an iced mocha and a grilled sandwich. I ate inside then moved to the patio to smoke and read. I was in Hemingway’s WWI Italy, but the gas station attendant’s fear haunted me still.
What could I do? Should I have said something? Was clasping my hands behind my back a bad idea? Probably. Does everyone who open carries feel this way? I texted a friend and asked.
There’s a reason for concealed carry.
I felt uncomfortable with that answer. It didn’t answer my questions. It didn’t make me feel better.
I chose this power. I chose this burden. I chose to take back my fear. Here was an in-my-face example of how I might be inflicting that same fear on others: what was I going to do about it?
Put my gun away? I couldn’t–I won’t expose myself again. Get my concealed carry license, and conceal my gun, and know that others would be afraid of me if they knew? I don’t know.
I can only keep doing what I’m doing–be aware of my surroundings, of the feelings that my gun inspires in others, and be sensitive to that. Keep going out of my way to put others at ease. Be a good gun owner. Be a feminist gun owner.