It’s Like This

Updated: June 1, 2018

Gen. Tso’s revolver

By Bob Palmer

The family sat in the booth in front of me last weekend. The couple looked older than what one would expect for the approximately 12-year-old boy who was with them. I speculated to myself, they must be grandparents.

The man removed his gimme cap. They joined hands and prayed quietly. I found an odd moment of satisfaction in their private devotions. I think it must have been a sense of pride that I lived in an area where people still said grace before a meal.

Personally, I’ll often bow my head and silently express my thanks for the day and the food. I sense no need to verbalize, but if that is what someone wants to do, it doesn’t bother me. Besides, prayer before consuming an all-you-can eat Chinese buffet is probably a good idea, particularly if you want to sample the sushi.

The hat went back on top of the man’s head and he stood to attack the pot stickers and spring rolls. That’s when I noticed a pistol strapped to his hip. The sight of the weapon after their moment of prayer jarred me. I could almost hear Hillary Clinton crashing through the restaurant wall, pointing a finger and screaming, “See, down South all they care about is God and guns.”

Both Arkansas and Texas now allow what is called “Open Carry.” You can parade around town with a holstered handgun on full display as long as you do not appear threatening.

I certainly understand a liquor store or convenience store owner wanting to be armed. I once knew a Dairy Queen owner who always carried a gun when he locked up and took the night deposit to the bank. Risking indigestion from the fake crab on the buffet does not carry the same threat level to me.

Open Carry participants send two messages with their sidearms on display. One is they perceive the world around them – their community – as so dangerous they need a gun to protect themselves. This is a vision I do not share and resent how their actions make their view more plausible than mine. Secondly, one must wonder about someone wanting to tote a gun without a credible threat present. Is their self-image or esteem so fragile, they need to show off a gun to bolster their ego?

I eat oriental food with chopsticks, so I had plenty of time to also muse on the juxtaposition of prayer and carrying a Smith & Wesson .380. Had I mis-read the Bible or not understood what Jesus said? I seem to recall there was something about being sent out like sheep among wolves and turning the other cheek. I also remember the part when Jesus urged his followers to arm themselves, but he chided Peter when the disciple used his sword.

I admit part of the problem is me. Behavior or conduct that was not acceptable when I was young, like people with guns on their hips or public displays of affection among members of the same gender, send a shock through my nervous system. I can tolerate it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As state and nation attempt to discern measures to help prevent more school shootings and determine what could be reasonable gun regulations, this good family reminds us the answers will not be simple or universally welcomed.