It had to happen at some point. I was sitting in Overman Park on a Sunday afternoon with my wife, son and his wife, daughter and her husband, and four grandchildren. Every year we listen to the music and enjoy the food at Cedar Falls annual Sturgis Falls Celebration. I had just taken a bite of a delicious sandwich from one of the local vendors. Directly across our family circle and beyond my son’s shoulders I spotted the pistol carrying gentleman you see on the left. The area was also fully protected by real, official, Cedar Falls police officers and reserves. I’m thinking this perfectly legal young citizen was not working undercover. He was pushing a child’s stroller, for God’s sake!
I’m not at all sure about other blogger’s motivations for writing, but I am usually just trying to think through how I feel about a particular situation. This time, though, that’s not the purpose. This time, there is no doubt about how I feel. Iowa gun law is absolutely crazy.
I really, really do not feel comfortable at events where most anybody can walk around toting his gun. And this man apparently thought some good was being served by his presence with a pistol on his hip. You’ve heard the reasoning. If some nut in that park had pulled out his Uzi and begun to spray us all with gunfire, Mr. Open Carry there could unholster his weapon and save the day. Does anybody really believe that?
Now, I’m used to people having and using rifles, shotguns and handguns. Having them around doesn’t bother me. And there are people who have a valid use for that gun. Hunters use them. Law officers need them. Security people might have a need. Jewelry dealers, ditto. But at a concert in the park? This all seemed so unwarranted.
If I understand Iowa’s law, the state issues a “Permit to Carry Weapons,” and you must have one to carry a handgun. If you want to carry that handgun concealed, the state “shall issue” a concealed weapon permit. If you prefer to carry that gun out in the open where it can impress the rest of the world, more power to you. Apparently, Iowa law actually prefers that people carry their weapons out in the open where they are easily observed. And I can imagine all kinds of arguments supporting that idea. But I’m not buying it.
Many gun organizations seem to encourage their members to abide by the requests of private businesses that prefer unarmed shoppers. Target stores, for instance, feel that firearms in the store make their customers uncomfortable, and they ask gun owners to leave their weapons at home or in the car. This seems appropriate, but I’d like to see people in the park accorded the same respect and freedom to spend a few hours away from the 1860 Dodge City look.
At this time, carrying a weapon on your belt is legal, though not really socially acceptable. But I’m guessing that Mr. Open Carry in the park is going to give somebody else a warped idea of what is cool. It won’t take too long before everybody like him who doesn’t yet have a criminal record will be strutting around with his own personal Glock 42. If you’re already interested, you too can have one for about the price of a decent cell phone. I know that sounds like a slippery slope argument, but, hey, tackiness is everywhere. It hasn’t been that long since we laughed at people who walked the streets wearing their ball caps backward.