The Constitutional Carry Query

So, the other day I was finishing up a set of ass cheek squeezes (my physical therapist calls them “gluteal contractions”), when the doorbell rang. Oh, joy! Lunch is served! After pacifying Ike and Tina (Why is it that doorbells drive dogs insane?), I happily greeted the delivery dude, who couldn’t hand over my hot and sour soup quite fast enough. Nothing justifies a temporary discontinuation of ass cheek squeezes quite like piping hot, hot and sour soup.

I didn’t exactly snatch but eagerly received my bag of lunchie munchies and was leaning head-first into a spasm of gluttonous fury, when the delivery dude interjected, “Hey, mind if I ask you something?”

Hmm. Piping hot, hot and sour soup… Random, potentially personal interrogation. Food… Questions… No brainer. Why yes! I do actually mind, sir. But by then he had already asked, “What’s that logo on your shirt? The logo was this one:

Logo_Rangemaster_VectorOkay, fine. This time — for this topic only — I will forgive your heinous interruption of my highly-anticipated meal, Mr. Inquisitive Delivery Dude. I gave him the long and short of my involvement with Rangemaster and firearms training in general, and what’d’ya know! Turns out he’s a gun dude. A very enthusiastic young gun dude, who was super-excited to meet a kindred spirit. In fact, he was SO super-excited that he swept himself around, gave me his strong-side hip, yanked up the hem of his shirt, started diving with his gun hand, and almost did the unthinkable.

Generally speaking, my fervent policy on such events is, “Hey dude, you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” That’s especially true now that I’ve only got one good leg and far fewer avoidance options. But in this case, I recognized that even though he was about to do something idiotic, he didn’t have any real intent to harm me. So I calmly blocked his arm from rising any farther and said, “No need to take it out of the holster. I can see it just fine from there.” OMG, dude, seriously, don’t effing draw down on me. At best, that’s rude. At worst, it could be perceived as threatening, in which case the proverbial excrement would have swiftly hit the fan.

As the temperature came down a few notches (both on our interaction and on my soup), I politely explained to him the potential dangers of whipping out one’s equipment unexpectedly. I soon learned that he “grew up around guns” and felt totally comfortable handling them. He apologized for “startling me.” I guess he assumed I was less comfortable with guns than he was.

Thanks to this guy’s natural comfort with guns, he hadn’t been in much of a hurry to get any training before going armed. He was a Mississippi resident; and in Mississippi, training isn’t required unless you want an “enhanced” permit (topic for another post). Instead, all you have do to score yourself a Magnolia State carry permit is pay a hundred bucks and not be a minor, a psycho, a drunk, a drug addict, a felon, or a fugitive. So, regardless of the tactical soundness of the slick, shiny, smooth (and therefore slippery) grips on his Beretta 92, Delivery Dude was legally armed while lacking even the mere modicum of knowledge required to resist muzzling me on my own front porch.

Herein lies my beef with so-called “Constitutional Carry” (although I realize Mississippi isn’t technically a Constitutional carry state). I’ve been on the fence and pretty silent on this issue for quite a while. I was afraid that my initial reservations were treasonous to gun rights. But then, whenever I have an encounter like the one with Mr. Delivery Dude, I’m reminded of how quickly things can go south when armed citizens forego even basic, introductory-level training on the legal and practical precepts of defensive carry.

Training is important. I would argue it’s indispensable. But does that mean the government should mandate it? Hell, food is indispensable too (especially hot and sour soup), but there’s no law forcing us all to eat. Eh, that argument doesn’t fly. With food, the only potential “victim” is oneself. With firearms, however, there are dozens of potential victims floating around at any given moment.

Then there’s the argument that the firearms instructors are against Constitutional carry because it hurts their bottom line. Touché. But then again, this is capitalism. Everything affects somebody’s bottom line somewhere. So to me, that’s not really a strong argument either.

Then there’s the purist argument: The Bill of Rights explicitly deems it permissible to go armed, so no government regulation can ever stand in the way for any reason. That sounds lofty and righteous and chest thumpy, but it’s not terribly realistic. Truth be told, all the Amendments have limits, whether you agree with the scope of those limits or not. It’s a little naive to think any right is utterly absolute. One commentator snappily analogized, “Do you need a permission slip from the government to speak freely?” Short answer: Uh, yes. In some instances, you most certainly do. It’s called an assembly permit. Here’s how you get one in my hood, for example. Operative word: permit. What am I missing?

While I agree 100% with Constitutional ownership, I’m leaning against Constitutional carry. Yes, I know it says “keep and bear arms,” but still. Delivery Dude’s myopic dearth of training almost landed him a pickle. And of course it takes two to tango. For my own part, if I hadn’t had any training, I might have reacted very differently to his sudden reach for his firearm. The training I’m talking about really doesn’t have much to do with marksmanship. It has more to do with situational awareness, social fluency (what the legendary Southnarc calls “thin-slicing”), and full appreciation of the nuances of lawful self-defense. I just don’t think a few hours of education is too high a price for the power of life and death.

That being said, we all have the power of life and death anyway. I could stab somebody in the neck with a fountain pen in self-defense right now, and I wouldn’t need a permit to do it legally. Is this an artificial line I’m drawing?

I also know there are people and places that are vastly different from me and mine — different beyond my ability to even fathom. I don’t wake up thinking about grizzly bears or coyotes. I don’t kill my meals. Instead I get prosthetic hips and make people deliver hot and sour soup to my house. What about those folks who hunt on a daily basis, not because it’s fun or therapeutic but because it’s dinner time? Should those folks have to find and take a class somewhere and show the government a piece of paper before they can eat? And what about the many other people and situations that would never occur to me because my limited exposure only allows me to think in terms of clichés like fending off grizzly bears?


And then there’s the Big Brother theory. What if these relatively modest hoops were later tightened to the point where we couldn’t jump through them? After all, I’ve heard tell of a not-so-faraway time when black folks were perfectly “free to vote” — as long as they knew “What words are required by law to be on all coins and paper currency of the U.S.” Or as long as they could recount the Constitution’s take on “the suspension of the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.” And as long as they could answer 20 or so other questions correctly. On the fly. Without Google.

Damn it. See, just when I thought I had made up my mind, now I’m back on the fence again.