I got a call from someone I know pretty well who was in a coffee shop in a certain Seattle suburb, when a guy walked in with a pistol on his hip – just as the latest school shooting outside Portland – was all over the news.
She called me up and asked what’s with that? Why would someone openly wear a pistol in a Starbucks?
I explained that the law here allows the open carrying of pistols, and that he probably believes that it puts the bad guys on notice. If somebody were to come in with the idea of shooting up a coffee shop, which has happened here, the shooter would see the openly-carried pistol, think twice, and attack some other coffee shop, or preferably, see the error of his ways and become a sane, law-abiding citizen.
The stated principle behind it is to make people feel safer, since the police can’t be everywhere.
Yet, she said that seeing the gun didn’t make her feel particularly safe. Which of course is why she had called. So I told her, ‘You’re free to leave.’
But it does bring up a reasonable question for the open-carry movement. If the intention is to make the other customers feel safe, what happens when the other customers, for what ever reason, find they feel less safe?
Do their feelings matter? Or should they be dismissed as naive?
And when say, five or six people show up at a business with handguns on their hips – or, as has been happening in Texas, rifles slung over their shoulders – how are the other customers supposed to tell whether they’ve come to buy coffee or take hostages?
I guess that’s why so many people use the drive-thru.