Tales of a Feminist Gun Owner: Fear

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.


About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

7 Responses to Tales of a Feminist Gun Owner: Fear

  1. falnfenix says:

    man…i just got my CCW, so i’m now able to carry concealed in all the states surrounding Maryland. the idea of carrying openly honestly terrifies me right now.

    you need to start reading more gunblogs…and talking to people who do it every day. yes, there will be those who act nervous around you, but overall? most folks will ignore it.

    • Brittany-Ann says:

      This is new! I’ve never had someone tell me to read more blogs. However, that is one topic that is not covered in my daily reading. Part of it, I’m sure, is because they tend to be conservative. Part of it is that I’m still new to this–it’s been less than a year. Before several friends in college started buying and carrying, I was very afraid of guns and gun owners due to a bad experience in the past.

      You’re right–most do ignore it. But for those that don’t, I do not want to frighten. And I don’t want to have to hide it in order to do that. I will, eventually–because not carrying in certain places to avoid scaring people kind of defeats the point. But I get how you feel–a lot of friends describe the same feeling–that they can’t imagine open carrying now that they don’t have to. You do feel terribly exposed.

      • falnfenix says:

        Yeah, some of them are pretty overwhelmingly conservative. I’m right smack in the middle (I refuse to identify with either extreme), so I end up skimming over a lot of things I read simply to avoid calling anyone an idiot, but still…it’s nice to know there’s a lot of folks out there who regularly OC without issue. 😉

        I understand the desire to avoid frightening the general population, but seriously…if they have no reason to fear you (you’re being polite, etc), then one would hope they’d eventually get over it. Some folks, however, never will. Don’t worry so much about these people. Simply stick to what your local laws state regarding where you can and cannot carry openly, and those people cannot do anything to you.

        I haven’t yet carried openly. Maryland is a “May Issue” state for permits, and that covers both open and concealed carry. I went to the NRA convention as a member of the media a couple of months ago, and while I knew I could carry openly if I wanted, I was terrified of the idea of doing so without that little card in my wallet. I’ve only carried concealed once since it showed up, and I was incredibly nervous. How do you DO that regularly? My nerves would be an absolute wreck!

        • Brittany-Ann says:

          Ah. Well, Kentucky is rather different than Maryland, especially when it comes to gun laws. You don’t have to have a license to open carry here–only when you want to conceal. This state is rather fond of guns, so I suppose that impacts a lot of things–I was nervous carrying at first. I started small–carry when I go to the grocery or to buy gas. Put it away to go to the bank, put it on to drive across town to visit my mother. Gradually the nervousness goes away, but the acute self and situational awareness does not–and that’s a good thing.

          I carry for the same reason I chose to buy a gun: for self protection. It’s not going to do me much good sitting at home if I’m not there, eh? Everything I feel carrying is ten times better than the fear I sometimes felt before. I’ve written about this actually–the link is in this post.

  2. Danielle says:

    I definitely appreciate that you’re aware of how it can change others’ perceptions of you and your actions.

    My experiences thus far with people open carrying are ones who are less willing to analyze their actions and, occasionally, ones wishing to provoke a reaction so they can use it to make a point about their right to carry. How I perceive a person who pushes the boundaries of personal space and is resistant to accepting that I do not wish to converse further with them definitely changes when that person is carrying a firearm in the open. For the record, my vague examples here are not theoretical, rather being descriptions of actual experiences I’ve had in the past year.

  3. Please don’t let the “fears” of others shake your own convictions. Open Carry is in my opinion the best way to Carry. It works as a deterrent to those who may see you as a victim. If you feel that your carrying is frightful to someone in your daily life use it as an opportunity to educate that person. In most cases the fear is out of “ignorance”. And I do not use the term ignorance as a derogatory term.

  4. Pingback: Beemer’s Exciting News Update! « A Bookish Beemer

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