For those who are looking for a well-reasoned, political discussion on gun issues--this is not for you. If you would like a rant about the horrors of guns and the people who use them, I would suggest going elsewhere. Sure, I have political views and it isn't too difficult to read between the lines--but I am not one of those "in your face" types who starts railing against this and that. I save that for FOX News and MSNBC.
I enjoy a nice copy of coffee. Often, I drive about 15 miles to a neighboring city where I can sit at a coffee shop and read while looking out across the parking lot. The shop is in a strip mall, and I've been a frequent customer for the past decade.
Through the large picture windows, I have watched fluffy snow fall to the ground, lightning flash across the sky, and the line of trees that edge the lot change from green to bright orange to a barren grey and back to green.
But, lately, all I see are guns, everywhere guns.
Through the democratic process, a law recently passed that is not unlike laws in most of the states of the country. To emphasize my political ignorance, I confess I don't even know the official name of this law ("Conceal-Carry".."Conceal and Carry"..."Conceal while Carrying"...?).
The city where I sit sipping my coffee is the most affluent in the county. Often, I feel like people somehow know that I am from the bastardized and much poorer town to the northwest. It's as if they have a neighborhood watch group tracking license plates as soon as you park. They give me inquisitive glances, and one time I overheard a grey-haired woman wearing a pastel pink sweatshirt with puffy-paint kitties on it chasing yarn balls; she talked about my town, saying to her grand-daughter, "Oh, no, honey, you don't want to go there, those people are a little on the trashy side, you know."
I almost threw my book at her.
In the strip mall, about two months ago, two new spots have opened. One is some sort of martial arts studio, the other sports a sign that talks of safety, weapons, and something with "contact" in the title. I only caught a glimpse of it, and it is not a very well-designed window decal--very wordy and a pale yellow that vanishes with the glare of the sun.
A couple weeks back, I was enjoying my tea when three women passed the picture window. They had camouflage pants on--iron-pressed camouflage pants--black matching t-shirts with the logo of that...um...store? club? organization?..that has just been added to the strip mall. On their hips, they had guns, and one of them also had a taser. They came wandering into the coffee shop, bought some beverages, and headed down the walkway.
For several weeks, whenever I stopped by for some coffee, may it be morning, noon, night, weekday or weekend, I saw many people passing with guns in holsters, walking proud and confident.
I admit, I don't get it. My uncle has a "gun vault" that just teems with hundreds and hundreds of guns. He polishes them weekly. My mother collects weepy eyed stone critters sold from Hallmark; my grandmother, Beanie Babies--I guess it's kind of the same thing.... right?
I'm not sure. Perhaps I'm just noticing it since it is a new sight in our state, and perhaps there are so many people doing it just to show off because it is something they are allowed to do under our new law.
Whatever it is, I just don't care for it.
This weekend, I walked down toward the end of the stip mall. I walked past the...whatever it is...and there were two women sitting outside on a bench. They were in dark colors, hair severely pulled back, and next to them was a card-table. Duct-taped to the side of the table was a piece of yellow construction paper with the words "Jewelry for sale" scrawled in thick black sharpie that bled across the page. On top of the table was a display of earings made of bullets--little wires somehow attached to a naked bullet that simply hung down, looking like mini-missiles for your ears.
"Are those real bullets?" I asked casually, slowing my pace but not entirely stopping.
The one girl, with the bright red lipstick and reflective sunglasses like Eric Estrada from C.H.I.P.S., gave me a little smirk: "Yup, sure are."
And the other girl, the dark hair one, barked: "BANG!"
And the two of them giggled.
I walked passed, quickly.
I know it's not a rational feeling and it has no grounding in anything factual whatsoever--but I simply don't feel as safe as I once did.