Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yesterday, I was working at Tractor Supply and a man came in. He was familiar to me. He's always been friendly, and he's always stopped to chat, if I don't have a line. He's a young man. No more than thirty, I would guess. He is rebuilding his motorcycle, and we are the cheapest store around to buy the nuts and bolts and all that sort of hardware that he needs, so we see him quite frequently.

This time, he stood in my line quietly, but unmistakeably, there was a gun in his pocket. A handgun's handle protruded from the pocket of his cargo pants. And I froze a little, even as I continued to wait on customers in a friendly cheerful way. Inside, I wondered at his motives. Did that cheerful chatter hide the mind of a psychopath? He's a loner, that's for sure, even though he seems friendly enough. And without looking at him, I tried to get a reading on his demeanor, even as I planned what I would do if he pulled it.

Finally, it was his turn, and he came up and lay his purchases down on the counter. I spoke with him cheerfully, and he responded cheerfully, and I was very, very alert. I asked him about his motorcycle, and he talked about that. I noted that he was not buying a lot of hardware, so I asked if he were nearly finished. Even as, from the corner of my eyes, I watched where his hands were AT ALL TIMES, and I listened carefully to what he was saying, how he was saying it. He said, "Oh, you know, I'll always shop at Tractor Supply. Always. It's not only the best place to get hardware, it's really about the most pleasant store I've ever been in. I love this place. Everyone is so nice here."

He gathered his stuff, and he walked out of the store, the butt of that gun sticking out of his pocket. I couldn't believe it. People have a right to have guns. That's the way it is in our country. Tim has so many guns that I could not put a number to it. Truly. But honest to God, I see no reason why a person would need a gun in the Tractor Supply. I don't get that.

And as stupid as it will sound, when he left, I felt like I had dodged a bullet. No pun intended.

Late Edit: Turns out that open carry is illegal in Pennsylvania. Some folks do have concealed weapon permits, and are allowed to carry a concealed weapon. However as soon as that weapon is visible, it becomes illegal.

18 comments:

Mary Paddock said...

It would have given me chills. I'm impressed that you stayed so friendly. I think--being me--I'd have asked about the weapon.

We have concealed weapons laws here and it gives me little comfort.

BUSH BABE said...

See... this is the bit I don't get. It's where your country and my country are so very, very different.

While we have guns on properties, and I see them and know their purpose, the minute someone has one on their person anywhere near a town I would totally expect the worst. The cops would be all over them like a rash...

You know I am trying to talk my hubby into coming to your country, right? I am SO not showing him this post...

BB

Donna said...

Mighty peculiar. Lots of stores have signs on the door saying no guns are to be carried in.

Bob said...

100% agree. I am what you would call pro-gun. But I'm also pro-common sense. Just no reason to have a gun in a store like this. None at all. And it makes gun proponents look bad.

Reminds me of an experience I had years ago -- I'll write about it soon.

BB -- don't let experiences like this taint your vision of us and your desire to visit. We've got crazies, as well as people who don't think, but for the most part we're harmless.

WhiteStone said...

Makes me shudder. I can understand the pro-gun thought, the amendment right, etc. But even in the Old West, when Law became established the guns became un-allowable in stores or in towns.

Bill of Wasilla said...

Not only were you keeping a sharp eye on his gun, but it you had been the proverbial store owner with the pistol in the drawer, you would likely have making certain that you were near that drawer. You might have even opened it slightly - just to make certain that if need be, you could put that pistol in action in a flash. And if you were the trigger happy or panicy kind and the young man had made an innocent move wrongly interpretted...

And these foolish bullies who have made a point to carry guns to political rallies as a statement... well, if those on the other side were to do the same, in the name of protection, and the debate really get hot and emotions running high...

Scary experience, glad you kept your cool. I imagine this was a young guy just wanting to look cool, not knowing that he was coming off a fool, injecting a measure of unnecessary danger into the situation.

I'm glad you kept your cool!

Mikey said...

I know how you feel. After I got robbed at gunpoint, I was so leery of anyone. I moved to AZ and did not realize people carried openly here. This guy walked into the store with what looked like an Uzi under his arm. Girl, I nearly fainted. I thought for sure that was it, he was here to kill me. Took me over a year before I could get over it and not have a physical reaction to the sight of a gun in public.
Dang sure makes you aware, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Debby, Im sure glad I wasnt there and inline when he was! Im sorry I didnt get to chat with you when we were in last night but we didnt purchase anything afterall and only looked at some boot chocies and you had customers at the checkout when we left, on our way to catch a movie that was starting soon, hope to chat with you next time im in though and find out how your new grandson is doing, havent heard a word about him since his actual birth, jsut that post on you put on when they were on way to hospital. Am so proud of you for keeping your cool with this gun-toting customer!

Anonymous said...

sorry , forgot to add my name to that post about being in your store sat night, it sme , Debbie L.!

Mrs.Spit said...

I'm with Bush Babe - little Canadian me is very used to rifles. Hand guns? Ermm. Rifles are for hunting, culling squirrels, dealing with obnoxious wildlife that won't stay wild. Handguns are for killing people. I'm sorry, they really have no other sensible use. And why on earth would *anyone* need to carry a weapon around in their pocket? Do you have no police? It seems the very height of stupidity.

This would have left me panicked.

Lydia said...

Yep, if someone is in the vicinity with a gun, I'm mighty friendly. don't want to tick that guy off, and you want to keep an eye on them.

I am very pro-gun, but very aware of the need to be sensible.

Kelly said...

You know I'm pro-gun and believe in carry permits, though my preferences lie in shotguns (for hunting and clay targets). Still... this whole incident makes me wonder what he was up to.

Bob Barbanes said...

There is absolutely no problem with law-abiding citizens carrying guns. But society has demonized guns to the point that the mere sight of one makes people jumpy and nervous. In the case of Tractor Supply, perhaps the sight of the young man's gun deterred someone *else* in the store from doing anything illegal.

Debby, you should not worry about the guns you see. You should worry about the guns you do *not* see. Someone who has a gun that is as visible as the young man in your store knows that he may very well be questioned about it by the cops. Obviously he was prepared for that.

I do not believe that open-carry laws will lead to "wild west shootouts" any more than Florida's fairly lax concealed-carry laws have lead to them in our state. Here, you never really know who has a gun and who doesn't. I always assume people do. And yes, I am unfailingly polite.

One final note to those who think that the police prevent crime: They do not. The cops usually arrive *after* the crime has been committed. Well after. The old "cop on the beat" may have deterred some neighborhood crime, but it is very foolish and naive to think that merely having a police force can stop a crime before it is committed.

Debby said...

Hi, Debbie. I wondered where you went. I saw you and you never checked out. The grandchild has not yet been born. We are waiting.

quid said...

Scary. I don't get it. Anyone who has ever been a teller and been held up at a bank will tell you that.

quid

Debby said...

Message for Anonymous: If you do not identify yourself, you are not welcome to leave a comment. Thanks. I will check out the website you have forwarded, but I will delete your comments until you are ready to identify yourself. It's the principal of the thing.

J-Dog said...

It was me Debby, J-dog. I posted the message before i put my name in. Open carry is legal, but you never see anybody walking down the street with a 357 mag on their side. Imagine if somebody was walking around all the time with a pistol on their side. That would turn some heads. I was out hunting once and stopped in a gas station to get some snacks, while standing in line i realized i still had my pistol and holster on my side. At first i was like oh crap but then i realized i wasnt doing anything wrong and funny enough nobody in line said a word nor gave me any funny looks. An article in our very own paper last year stated that 1 in 9 people i believe in warren county have a concealed weapons permit.

Debby said...

J-Dog! E-mail me. I guess I don't have your current e-mail. I tried to reach you a while back...forget why now. I'm old. You know.

Our manager said that open carry was not legal in Pa. I took him at his word. I guess my take on it is that it is so unnecessary to be staring at a guy in the Tractor Supply store, trying to figure out his mind set. You have A-puppy now. If you saw him wandering by a stranger with a gun, I believe it would raise dad hackles, and you would be uncomfortable. That's the way I felt. I don't see the need for a gun in the Tractor Supply. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I take your correction though. People: it is legal to open carry in Pa (except in Philadelphia). However, even the most conservative websites agree that it opens you up to unwelcome attention from the police and the public and suggest that it might be wiser to simply carry your weapon concealed.