Discrimination: making pre-arranged behavior judgments about a person based on superficial criteria like size, hair style, skin color, or physical possessions. (my working definition)
If you pre-judge my behavior based on non-behavior criteria, that’s discrimination; and it’s exactly what Martin Luther King, Jr. fought so hard against.
Let’s back up for a minute. The root of the open carry issue, and really every gun issue, revolves around one very critical and very finite truth: I don’t want to get shot. I’m confident that everyone on both sides of the issue can agree on this. I know people who have been shot, and trust me, you don’t want to go through it. I don’t have many lofty goals in life, but here’s a few: teach my son how to drive, leave my family as much as I can when I kick the bucket, be a better person every day, and don’t get shot.
Or stabbed. That one would be bad, too. Maybe worse. But I digress.
So we agree!! Finally!!
But here is where the gun control crowd and I start to part ways: there is no good way to pre-judge a person to keep you from getting shot. Some people would like to be able to pre-determine someone’s actions based on other criteria. Let’s face it: if we could do that, crime would go waaaay down! We’d also be living in the Minority Report. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could know when crime was going to happen before it actually happens? Or if we knew based on how someone was dressed if they were a criminal or not? That would make classes like these a little moot, I think. And every self-defense professional would be out of a job. But man, life sure would be simpler.
Unfortunately, we all still have to live in the real world.
If a woman has a gun on her belt, does that mean she’s going to shoot me? Hmm… no.
“But she could shoot you!”
That’s very true. But she could also stab me. Or pull my hair. Or pee on me. Or slash my tires. Or set my house on fire. Or kick my son. But isn’t that always true? Has her carrying a gun changed any of those things? And all those things are crimes – thankfully!
Different scenario: If a woman is concealing a gun on her person, does that mean she’s going to shoot me? Of course not.
“But she could shoot you!”
Yes she could. “But it’ll take her longer to get to her gun!!” You haven’t watched my wife draw and shoot from concealment, have you? So why would you assume that it’s any slower than open carrying? Are you judging her physical skills based on the fact that she’s a woman? Are you assuming that a woman can’t adequately practice a skill? How does your wife or mother feel about that?
Regardless of whether or not I can see her gun, the odds of her committing a crime against me have not changed. So if I pre-judge her behavior, the odds that she’s going to commit a crime against me, based on her having a firearm, I’m discriminating against her. I’m unfairly judging her based on something she could do, but isn’t actually doing (and has no intent of doing at all). There is no difference between that and assuming a large black man is going to hurt me because he’s black. Or a man. Or large.
Judge me based on the color of shirt I picked out this morning (questionable, at best). Judge me based on how I treat my family. Judge me based on how I treat my friends. Judge me based on how I treat complete strangers. But don’t pre-assume anything about my behavior because I’m tall. No, I can’t dunk a basketball. But neither can Dennis Rodman, and he played in the NBA. And is buddies with Kim Jong Un, but that’s another story.
Judge my behavior based on, get this, my actions!
To put a self-defense spin on this (and my apologies for over-simplifying this, but I am trying to keep this relatively short), Massad Ayoob explains that there must be the simultaneous presence of three criteria to use deadly force: ability, opportunity, and jeopardy. Adam Weitzel, who teaches our Law of the Gun class, uses “jeopardy, ability, means = JAM,” but both include this magic word “jeopardy.” Translation: is this person acting in a manner to cause jeopardy? It’s this part that confirms we can’t just walk around shooting police officers – they certainly have the ability and opportunity to cause death or grave bodily injury, but are they acting in a manner to cause jeopardy? No!
Let’s sprinkle in another dose of reality: if a 6-foot-5, 290-pound weightlifter, bald, huge goatee, wearing a leather jacket walks into a police station, do you think maybe there will be some attention on him? Absolutely! Will the cops watch him to make sure that he doesn’t commit a crime while he’s there? It certainly seems likely. But has he become a criminal just because he walked into a police station? No. Here’s the distinction: it’s the behavior that makes you a criminal. It’s the behavior that the officers are observing. It’s the behavior that matters.
Fact: open carry attracts attention, just like blue hair does. I’m not a fan of either – in my life.
Fact: because open carry attracts attention, criminals are significantly less likely to do it. Think about that.
Fact: criminal behavior is the root of the real crime in this country and passing laws that turn normal, upstanding citizens into criminals accomplishes nothing. Massad Ayoob can use some fancy Latin words and describe this point better than I can.
Fact: there is no right in this country to avoid being offended. Imagine that!
Fact: open carry, in many cases, has deterred crime. It has also encouraged crime, but don’t lose sight of either side of this one.
Fact: concealed carry can turn into open carry when you bend over to pick up your keys. Picking up your keys shouldn’t make you a criminal.
Fact: the gun itself does not somehow magically make you want to commit a crime. It’s an inanimate object. Like a Pop Tart.
Fact: education is the key. Let’s work together to discourage the “But I need to make a political point!” freaks from open carrying. Let’s work together to learn how criminals behave: what they want, how their body movements change, and how pre-attack indicators manifest themselves — and then we don’t really need to worry about whether or not we can see a weapon.
Don’t pre-judge me.
Carry on, Colorado!