Recently, a 22 year old Caucasian male walked into a JC Penney in Utah with an AR-15 strapped to his back and a Glock19C against his thigh. Some customers in the store were alarmed and left quickly and one clerk refused to serve him. Others, however, went calmly about their business as though nothing was out of the ordinary. Police were unconcerned as well; it turns out that they had received a call from the man earlier that morning to let them know he would be carrying the unloaded guns to the store as a statement about gun ownership. When he arrived, therefore, police did not question or accost him.
The incident has brought several questions to my mind, however:
- How could the police know the man was telling the truth about his intent or about the weapons being unloaded? They merely took his word for it, despite the fact that he could have been lying. The phone call could have been a ruse to put police off their guard while he went on a shooting spree.
- What if a man with a middle eastern accent and name had called up and expressed HIS intent to walk around with an AR-15 strapped to his back? Would they have taken him at his word? Or would he have been greeted at the entrance to the store by a SWAT team?
- How would customers have reacted to the site of a middle eastern male in Islamic-style garb carrying a weapon openly through a store? Would they have been as calm and accepting of seeing a person choosing to exercise his second amendment rights? Or would there have been many frantic phone calls to the police about a "terrorist"?
- What if, instead of being a 22 year old Caucasian male, he were a 22 year old, inner city black youth carrying that same weapon around, unloaded, after having alerted police? Would they have taken HIM at his word and not even bothered to check his ID or check for a weapon? Would so many people have remained so unperturbed?
Frankly, I doubt most people, including the police, would be as trusting and calm at the sight of a Muslim male or a black youth openly displaying such weapons. Yet, if they are law-abiding citizens, they have as much right to carrying around a weapon as any other citizen, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.
What is your opinion?