I wonder if I have been making a selfish mistake when it comes to the Second Amendment and my personal safety. Specifically, I am reflecting on the idea that I may have been living a life that is a bit out of balance. The scales tipped to far toward my personal security and away from Second Amendment advocacy.
The thought crossed my mind last night while I was driving a car full of kids home from theater practice, but the spark in my brain was ignited a couple of hours before. An individual noticed the shirt that I was wearing and decided to comment on it.
The shirt is a plain black t-shirt with an actual size gray outline of a GLOCK 43 on it. It is exactly the kind of shirt I tend NOT to wear.
In general, I don’t draw attention to the fact that I am a gun guy. I typically don’t wear gun clothing unless I’m teaching and even my company shirts are gun agnostic simply displaying my logo.
The reason I avoid the tactical look and the gun guy look is that I don’t want to be made as a guy carrying a gun. I don’t want to draw the attention of regular people, of other concealed carry permit holders, law enforcement or bad guys. I would prefer to blend in. You know, to be the “gray man.”
Yesterday was a touch different though. Not that I wanted to be noticed or that I had the desire to stand out, but it was different because just the day before “The Gunny, “ R. Lee Ermey passed away. I didn’t know Gunny but we had met and I know the deep dedication he had to the firearms industry, his fans and the Second Amendment. So as silly as it may sound I wanted to give Gunny my own little silent tribute. I don’t own a “Full Metal Jacket” t-shirt or any USMC garb, but I do have one GLOCK t-shirt.
It was perfect. Gunny represented GLOCK faithfully for many years, so, in my head, GLOCK was going to return the favor and represent Gunny. Of course, no one would notice.
I was wrong. Someone did notice. Someone that I have exchanged pleasantries with dozens of times. Someone that sees me as a kind man and a good father. Someone that probably doesn’t feel favorably toward firearms or firearm owners.
She came over to say, “Hello.” When we greeted, she saw my shirt and said, “A gun!?! Why would you be wearing a shirt with a gun on it?”
I smiled and politely replied, “I am an author and a filmmaker in the firearms industry.”
She was almost immediately called away to fulfill her responsibilities but under her breath I heard her say, “Well, I’m gonna have to hear more about that!”
The interaction wasn’t amazingly positive. At the same time, it wasn’t amazingly negative. It was a gun related interaction that wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have been wearing my gun shirt…
So I’ve been reflecting.
For the past 20 years I have been hiding my life as an armed citizen, a professional defensive firearms trainer, an author and now a filmmaker from the rest of the world. Now I am wondering how many neutral, gun related interactions I have missed because I don’t wear gun shirts?
As I have worked to become a “gray man” along with all my other gun peers have we inadvertently created a “gray gun culture?” A group that simply blends in with everyone else? Blends in so well that it disappears? Literally.
I am guessing that you understand exactly what I am talking about here, but in case you don’t I’ll just spell it out:
I don’t display my passion for firearms because I want to blend in. I tell my kids to avoid conversations about guns so that they don’t stand out and find themselves in trouble. I teach my students to blend in and hold their firearms experience close to their vest so they don’t attract unwanted attention.
I’m starting to think this may have been a mistake.
I am worried that in my desire for personal safety and anonymity I have allowed the world to believe that I’m not a supporter of the Second Amendment. I am worried that in our modern gun culture we have all done such a good job in blending in that we have all but disappeared from every day life.
In our busy world with so much vying for our attention, blending in and disappearing as almost synonymous with extinction and the last thing I want is for our gun culture to become extinct. Our culture is positive, vibrant and exciting. After my short but interesting interaction yesterday I feel like there may be some great reasons to every once in a while come out of hiding.
What do you think?