Open Carry Conversations

What do you say to people who ask you why you have a gun?

In our open carry shopping escapades of last week, GB and I bumped into someone who asked us that question. It all started when we were waiting in line at Sam’s Club’s Customer Service Desk. We were hoping to find someone who could sell us the beautiful yellow and white gold diamond ring I wanted. A man walked up to the line and bypassed it to stand next to his wife at the counter. He said, “Uhoh. I don’t think I should be cutting in line when the people I’m cutting in front of have guns.” His wife and GB and I all chuckled at his joke. When the laughter died down, his wife turned around in line to face us and asked, “Are you police officers?” GB replied, “No, we’re not.” Then the line-cutter’s wife asked, “If you’re not law enforcement, why do you have guns?”

When I’m out open carrying by myself and someone asks me this question, my reply to the “Are you police officers?” question goes something like this: “No, but open carry is legal in Nevada. I don’t have to be a police officer to carry.” The conversation nearly always turns to the person asking me if they can carry too. Usually, the answer is “Sure you can!”, but sometimes I run into felons and the answer is no. But this day, I wasn’t fielding the questions, GB was and so I got to hear his spiel. It was a simple spiel, only one sentence.

“I’m exercising my second amendment rights.”

I held my breath for a second waiting on the reaction of the line-cutter and his wife. I needn’t have worried at all. Her response was, “Oh, that’s cool.” From there we chatted with them a bit more and learned that he’s a retired preacher, she’s a housewife, they’ve got a college-aged son with them today and that they too are from Texas. They and GB compared their Texas roots and then the preacher offered that they are gun owners too. It was a great conversation.

When the preacher first made his line-jumping joke, I felt betrayed. Outed to the people behind the customer service desk and around us in line who hadn’t yet noticed GB’s Springfield XD Subcompact and my Walther P22. But a day or two after the conversation, I found my mind drifting back to it and then I realized that by him outing us to the line and counter staff, he educated them. They all heard about how a preacher, a housewife, a technical support person and a paper-pusher all have and carry guns and we do so without causing harm to those around us. Hopefully, any eavesdroppers to our conversation walked away with a new idea of what gun owners look like, what they do and how they act.

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