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L. Neil Smith's
Number 540, October 11, 2009

"The gun is a symbol of freedom, not tyranny"

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No One Ever Asks Why I Carry a Gun
by Paul Bonneau

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

There is a long thread on the Free State Wyoming forum called "Open Carry Experience stories" (visible only to those who join the forum, I believe). Just to cut to the chase, almost all the stories in this 43-page thread are essentially this: "I tried open carry in my Wyoming town today. Went all over town, took care of lots of chores. Nothing happened, and no one noticed or cared."

Actually, there are some posts on there where people did get asked about it, and the writer got to be a "good ambassador for RKBA", explaining why he is carrying openly. No one has ever asked me, though, even though I am always armed, and most of the time carry openly.

Perhaps it is because, rather than being nattily dressed (as every good ambassador is), I am often in dirty Carhartts. Probably look very tired and a little grumpy. Yeah, maybe that is it. Also, unlike good ambassadors I don't have a quality holster, but just go the Mexican route. Some ambassador!

I have gotten a few comments, but never The Question ("Why are you carrying a gun?"). Usually more like "Nice gun!", or "What caliber is that?", or "How does it shoot?" If you care, it is (lately) a CZ-75BD. Yeah, a measly 9mm. Never could understand .40 and .45 caliber snobbery.

I started carrying, concealed, maybe 20 years ago after a run-in with a racist skinhead (in good old liberal, "enlightened", downtown Portland!), who took exception to my choice of wife. His rude lesson was taken to heart, and I've carried ever since.

I keep waiting for The Question. Now, I'm not near as organized as Susan Callaway, with her cards to hand out. I figure what I say will depend on my mood, and who's asking. If I feel flip, I may respond with something like, "In case I need to shoot somebody," or the old, "Because a cop is too heavy," or just, "Because I want to." If I feel more grumpy, maybe, "Who's gonna stop me?"

If a man with a family asks, maybe it will be, "You mean you're NOT?" Of course intending to follow up with something like, "What if someone attacks your family, are you just going to stand there and watch it?" I know, that ain't exactly gentle, but sometimes a 2x4 across the bridge of the nose is a good thing.

Actually, carrying in Wyoming is almost unneeded, because so little crime is there (gee, I wonder why—it couldn't be because Wyoming has the highest per capita gun ownership, or something along those lines, could it?) But one still needs a gun now and then. I did just have to put a goat out of its misery, and old lame horses need shooting too. Some fella I know shoots deer off his back porch with his pistol, during hunting season of course (heaven forbid we offend the hunting bureaucrats). Got to keep that family fed. I should upgrade to my Smith 629 (.44 Magnum) for all those damn bears, though. Had a grizzly on the back porch once.

The main reason though, is tourists, who abound in the Cody area where I live. When tourists see ordinary folks walking around with guns, there are two possible mental reactions. If a gun lover, it is "Wyoming looks like a good place to live!" If a gun hater, it is "I could never live here!" This suits me fine.

Maybe I'm not such a good ambassador; I admit it. People don't seem to mind though, so I guess I won't either. Maybe it's more important to be an ambassador where cops stop anyone (other than other cops) for carrying; but that's not Wyoming. It's not like it never ever happens, but those new hires from out of state usually get sorted out pretty quickly.

By the way, there are no permits for open carry. There is no law at all. Freedom—it does happen now and then. Quite a rush.


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