By Rob Morse
The man across the restaurant has a gun.
I look up. Yeah, there it is carried on his hip. I nod and go pack to checking my mail while we wait for our food to arrive. I know some people with strange phobias and they are afraid of firearms. The few people with phobias are unusual; not the 110 million gun owners in the US. It is time for the rest of us to get over the novelty and drama of firearms ownership. The guy has a gun. So what?
Today, good guys have guns. Good guys have guns everywhere. Good guys and gals have guns.. and nothing happens. Most of the time you don’t even notice. It isn’t newsworthy. I want to change the attitude of the guy on the street towards firearms. But, I don’t want to stop there. It is time our legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and the media to come to terms with gun ownership as well. We are not there yet.
We have a long way to go until guns are unremarkable. I can ask my friend if he has a gun. “Sure, I have a gun,” he says. To me it is insignificant, but saying those same words is considered a threat if my friend says them to a bank teller along with a note demanding the bank’s money. Context is everything, and “I have a gun” has too many meanings today.
-“Yes, I have a gun” means her search is over when my neighbor wants to find firearms safety instruction for her teenagers.
-“Yes, that is my gun” means another new firearm to try for the friend who asks at the shooting range.
-“I have another gun” means we have to change our insurance policy when I tell my insurance agent.
-“I have a gun if we need it” means reassurance and safety as two women walk together across a dark parking lot late at night.
-“I have a gun” means it is time for him to leave when a thief hears those words as he climbs through a ground floor window.
-To the sheriff’s deputy being beaten by a thug, “Stop, I have a gun” means that good guys have finally arrived.
-I’m not sure what “Yes, officer, I have a firearm.” means to police officers these days. Some officers recognize that concealed carry holders are vastly more law abiding than the average citizen. Other officers see gun owners as an easy conviction given our contradictory gun laws.
-For many journalists, “He had a gun” means the story is over and written. The reporter can play to the audience’s emotions. The story becomes about the gun rather than the real life drama that just took place.
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