Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Today, at the luncheonette where I was poised at the counter to order one of my three favorite workday lunches, I observed a man whose skin had a tawny Middle-Eastern hue darkened by a brilliant white shirt. He sat alone at a two-man booth, a newspaper folded back to an interior page spread on the table where a guest might have joined him, and under his left arm hung an uncomfortably large-looking gun blue-shining and snapped into its holster, which was the burnished tan of expensive leather.

As are we all, I am around people carrying guns often -- many of which I notice, some of which I do not, and others of which I am not supposed to notice, hence "concealed." Something about this firearm, however, prompted a shiver. What was it? I puzzled over it, my eyes as glued to the holster as the gun's owner's were to the small television broadcasting CNN with the sound muted, hands folded in front of his lips. His hair was trimmed three days' short of the scalp; his scalp's sheen complemented the muzzle.

Finally it came to me. Weapons unseen cast aside for the moment, since out of sight is, sometimes, out of mind, those weapons typically visible on the street are holstered at the hip, where no matter what the carrier's posture, they reliably point toward the ground, innocuously. This man's holster, however, snug under his arm, pointed horizontally across a restaurant aisle and toward a beverage cooler. No matter how minimal the risk, a half-dozen people obliviously took their lives in their hands while I awaited my order.

I never eat with a jacket on, unless a luncheon is so formal that professional etiquette so requires, but I think we need a new ordinance: in conjunction with a license to carry a concealed weapon should come a caveat: the weapon must either be concealed, or carried in a holster designed to keep its muzzle down, at all times.

[revised 1/25/05, 7:58 PM]

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