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(I wrote this last year but for obvious reasons went back to re-read it today, to see if I still felt the same. Thought I’d share it here.)

Why do we Americans insist on carrying guns publicly, as so many people are today?

Does wielding a pistol in a safe public place (far from rattlesnakes and other wild animals) gives its owner a feeling of extra security? Perhaps there’s a feeling that it’s needed in case of a physical threat.

On the other hand, absent any real threat it brands the carrier a coward and a weakling. It displays, for all to see, an unreasonable fear of others: the paranoid’s fear of the crowd and of ordinary people. read further…

[I’m going to put a little update here, because some people commenting seem to think I’m saying no one should be allowed guns. I didn’t say that. I grew up on a farm with guns. They’re just things people need to have in some places. What I wrote about was wondering why some people feel the need to display them in public.

Growing up out in the country, we talked about rifles and guns on the bus in elementary school, and all the kids bragged about what they had back home. Guns were normal. On the other hand, we all knew a few guys that liked to show off their guns outside of hunting, and talked about them just a little too much, and too intently, and that was a little odd. We lumped them in with guys who wore spurs but didn’t ride a horse (yes I’ve seen people do this and we pointed and laughed). 

It was part of a persona that evidently made them feel tough. If you’re offended by that observation or that generalization, well, perhaps you should be. If you’ve got your reasons for carrying and this doesn’t apply to you, well then perhaps you shouldn’t be. Just be aware that people may defer to you simply because they think you’re likely a psycho. No different than we (all gun-owners in some way) did to those guys who obsessed daily over ammo. Open-carrying private citizens give the same impression.]