Open carry AP feat
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

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By Will Mitchell

As a rural Alabama civilian I’ve never experienced any type of major crime. Never has my home been burglarized, never have I experienced an armed robbery, and never have I ever felt like my life, or my family’s lives been in danger. But as times change so does my opinion of society.

I began thinking, “What if my life was in danger, all because someone wanted to take something that was mine?” So about a year ago I made the decision to visit my local county sheriff’s office and apply for an Alabama pistol permit. The process was quick and hassle free and I became a permit holder in under twenty minutes.

Having grown up around guns I feel like I have a sensible amount of knowledge on gun safety, but as much as it shames me to admit, I am, in fact, not an expert and a pistol was an entirely new tool in my tool belt. I consulted several close friends who I knew carried every day including my boss who I often see put his gun in a drawer in his desk. He informed me that his son had a small pistol for sale.

I contacted him and bought one of the cheapest (both in appearance and price) firearms I’ve ever purchased, a Jimenez Arms J.A. .380 for everyday carry. The slim profile and inside the waistband holster helped me “blend into the crowd” as some people would put it. After three trips to the local firing range I became comfortable with the gun and was ready to carry on a daily basis.

Why the background? Because as my boss and I entered our local Piggly Wiggly to stock up on spare ribs to cook for the Fourth of July, we turned a corner onto an aisle to see two boys — emphasis on the boys — each carrying revolvers on their hips and I was immediately taken back.

I didn’t think the boys were any older than 19 and I could tell by their demeanor they thought they were, “Billy Badasses” with these revolvers in big leather holsters hanging on their hips.

As we walked by, we gave nods and they nodded in return. But as we walked into the next aisle, my boss said, “Boys must think they’re hot stuff carrying those little things around.” “Little things!?” I thought to myself, those pistols ran halfway down their thighs. He proceeded to tell me that both guns were .22 caliber, and that he owned the same ones. These were simple guns, used to shoot snakes in the yard, not something you strap to your belt on a trip to the grocery store.

As we concluded our shopping and made our way to the register, I noticed Billy the Kid and his partner checking out just two registers to the left of us, so naturally I inconspicuously watched them. The owner of the store walked out of his office and stood several feet behind one of the open carriers. The tension in the air could have been cut with a knife.

Nothing was said, nothing was done, but every aisle these boys walked down immediately cleared out. Little did anyone in the store know I had more firepower in my waistband than the two combined.

As a strongly conservative Republican I am not the type to put down other people’s beliefs like most left-wing liberals feel the necessity to nowadays, but in my personal opinion, open carry is an irresponsible and unnecessary way to carry that basically screams, “Look at me I have a gun!” As the day went on I couldn’t help but wonder why these two felt the need to strap their guns to their hips on the way to the grocery store.

Suppose these wanna-be cowboys carried their .22s to protect the innocent shoppers of Piggly Wiggly. Any gunman would immediately target them, then be armed with two more firearms. Or, what if they wanted to do harm and were scoping out the place? Not sure how well that would have gone seeing as every person in the grocery store was already suspicious of them including the management and at least one armed citizen: me.

I’m not a writer by any means. I failed English Comp 2 at Auburn University my freshman year of college. But if this story caught your attention, let the moral be twice as attention grabbing: if anyone but you knows that you’re carrying a pistol, you’re doing it wrong.


This post was originally published in 2015.

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