Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Support Open-Carry Hugs
We've all seen the images or personally encountered people in real-life who are advocates of open-carry proudly showing us their weapons. As a person who doesn't particularly like guns, all I can try to do is understand what would motivate someone to want to be that person. And don't get me wrong, I'm not against the legal ownership of guns should citizens choose to exercise that right. But I wouldn't object if one day this country decided all guns should no longer exist here, nor would I complain if they were eliminated around the world.

What I often reflect on is the motivation and intention of those who advocate for open-carry laws. Especially when I listen to the enthusiasm with which they exclaim that right prior to and directly after getting those laws in place enabling them to finally do so. 

I consistently hear that the right to protect one's self is the biggest reason, and I would support that thought process as we do have a second amendment right to keep and bear arms. However, I would also think the desire to own guns for protection (whether one or an arsenal) and/or open-carry is motivated by fear, specifically being fearful of the intention of others. In other words, gun owners seem suspicious and not trusting; like they are thinking "someone, anyone whose actions at any time could or will potentially hurt me, so I must be prepared."

We all feel that way from time to time because we have encountered something that made us experience that emotion, but in open-carry situations it seems that is the mindset all day long. Smacks of paranoia to me if gun owners think everyone is potentially out to get them. On the outside they might say that's not true, but they are expecting something to happen otherwise why would they feel the need to be cloaked in a manner that will protect them 24/7? I guess someone needs to explain that to me if I've interpreted that incorrectly.

Living in this world, I see all the vile behaviors whether on the news, or in print and social media. Gun owners, and especially open-carry advocates, would tout this as a reason to have the right to protect themselves. Having personally encountered some unsavory situations in my past  - one when our home was broken into when I was a teenager, and another when an unwelcome visitor made an appearance in my apartment in the middle of the night when I was a young mother - I get that someone would want to have something at their disposal that could potentially protect them during acts of criminality. Luckily no one was hurt, us or the perpetrators, and no guns were involved in either situation. Both were frightening experiences, but I think they would have been made even more stressful had guns been present. Self-preservation is a factor in wanting protection, but I'm not sure that guns would have provided me with the outcome I was hoping for had I been in possession of a gun. Just as I would not like to end up with a bullet hole, neither do I want to inflict that kind of damage to another human being, even if that person was trying to hurt me. Also, data tends tell us that if a gun is in the home, the risks of violence and/or suicide increases. So, adding a potential threat, even if no other criminal action enters into my residence, tells me that guns really have no place in my life.

But I guess what I always keep coming back to is that mindset of paranoia. I remember how I felt after those incidents, and they weren't pleasant. I was fearful and I was anxious, but I still didn't want to go out and buy a gun. Maybe it would have empowered me in that moment. I'm sure that many, if not most, gun advocates would say "exactly!" and that's the point they've been trying to make all along. It's not about paranoia, but being in control rather than being at the mercy of another and their indecent intentions. It's as if they legitimize their strength (paranoia) because a gun makes them feel invincible. Maybe not to the point where they would go around pistol-whipping complete innocents, but still they scrutinize and assess any situation as potentially threatening while being rational about their paranoia. Otherwise, why carry a gun to begin with? I know I can't speak for others, only myself, but open-carry still suggests to me there is a certain amount of paranoia. 

Paranoia is a form of fear, and fear can create panic. When you have anxiety about something it is sometimes difficult to think rationally in a situation that should actually require it in order to remain calm and ensure your safety. An anxiety-filled situation can leave you with no desire to think positively about the person in this situation that you believe will do you harm. It is quite understandable. One hopes that would only be in a life-threatening situation and one where you think someone is truly out to get you.

Imagine a nation, hell a world, where the opposite of that mindset existed! They actually have a word for that state of mind - pronoia, enjoying the feeling that the world around them conspires to do them good. What if we all went around expecting we were going to be treated right by others? Just wow. The deep-feeling, empathetic human in me is experiencing thrills as I picture this. How could we not want to feel like this always? The imagery would obviously not include guns because living in a world where you know everyone has your back wouldn't require guns or the fear they instill. We would have nothing to be fearful about as no one desires anything but the best for us.

So, I'll start. I have an arsenal and it's called my arms. I'm prepared to use them at the appropriate time. It'll be my mission to see that sad people are to be comforted and uplifted, happy people would experience one more bonus of good fortune in their day, hurried people would slow down and enjoy the humanity. People with an aversion to touch, please wear signs. What I think is appropriate, you may not! But small problem considering this world would be a better place, and certainly the more loving place that we always talk about wanting.

I propose that what would help to change the current mindset in this country is for people to want to think well of others rather than believe other's intentions are only about hurting them. Because in reality, it's not just gun owners in favor of open-carry who feel this way, it's many others who don't own guns who have a chip on their shoulder about people who are out to get them. Of course, we know there are bad people out there, but let's not have fear or paranoia claim there are more out there on the wrong side than there are good ones.

What sends a more powerful positive message to the people around you - a warm embrace and smiles or guns at the hip ready to discharge? Would you rather be on the receiving end of a hug or a bullet? Because really, that's what it boils down to emotionally - someone either suspects an imminent commission of crime out of you or they think you are worthy of their humanity. Which mindset would you prefer?

I support open-carry hugs and less paranoia.

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