Letter I wrote in response to letter published on the News-Times website by Jeff Gewert. I sent it to the News-Times this evening. Let’s see if they’ll publish it.

Jeff’s original letter is here:http://www.newstimes.com/…/Jeff-Gewert-High-noon-in-the-Wil…

Jeff: Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on the gun issue, you have to wonder what would possess someone to carry a weapon openly into a supermarket in a well-to-do, virtually crime-free community. It’s one thing to have a gun locked up at home or in the glove compartment, but an entirely different matter carrying it in public. What need could there possibly be to have a weapon in a supermarket? All the wildlife is already dead, butchered, and frozen.

Me: The need to be armed in public is simply because I don’t know who the next Adam Lanza might be. I’ve been vetted by local, State, and Federal law enforcement to be entrusted by the State of Connecticut to carry a gun in public, and paid all applicable fees as well. The same cannot be said for everyone else I interact with while being about my business in the public forum of Bethel and the surrounding towns. Mass-shooters don’t exactly broadcast their intentions.

Jeff: I would like to remind the small number of wannabe gunslingers roaming the rough-and-tumble streets of Fairfield County that real men don’t live in fear and hence don’t need a gun strapped to their hip. Real men don’t resort to bravado. Their character speaks for itself. And real men are not afraid to be sensitive to the feelings of others even if they don’t share the same point-of-view.

Me: By using words such as “wannabe gunslingers”, and by alluding to what “real men” do or do not do, you are merely seeking to bait this conversation. I would counter and say that a real man protects himself, his family, and innocents, and this real man does so by carrying his legal firearms when in public and in the presence of said innocents.

Jeff: Those carrying a weapon who might think they are performing a public service in the event of trouble need to consider that many residents don’t share that view and certainly don’t fear for their lives when rolling a shopping cart up to the checkout counter. Would a typical mother with her child prefer to have an untrained, inexperienced vigilante shooting-up the place to thwart some crime, real or imagined, or would they prefer to just wait for the “real” police to handle it?

Me: To obtain a permit to carry in CT, one must go through mandated gun safety training that requires a 100% final grade, no exceptions. Many “typical mothers”, as you say, are gun carriers in CT, and rightly so. Protecting children from madmen should be the utmost priority of any parent. Indirectly referring to gun carriers as “untrained, inexperienced vigilante(s)” is you again seeking to inject snark and condescension when none is needed. Local police, whom I wholeheartedly support, cannot respond as fast as a mass-shooter can shoot. This is simply a fact. They can respond to an emergency, or a trained and permitted gun carrier in the situation can react and quite possibly save lives. We all know what happens when a mass-shooter is unchallenged, and the police are on the way. We also know what happens when a criminal seeks to inflict harm and is stopped by a legal gun carrier. A simple Google search can supply you with many unreported stories of defensive gun use that saves lives.

Jeff: Also, consider that people openly displaying these guns are likely afraid of something and fearful people are not the most composed and clear minded in life-and-death situations, and therefore, not the kind of people you want in a neighborhood firefight.

Even trained police officers sometimes mistake unarmed people as lethal threats. Do we want average citizens making that judgment call in our local markets?

Me: A porcupine has quills to basically tell predators to leave them alone, and not to fuss with them. Being armed openly is a version of having similar quills. I am motivated by caution, not fear, since, (as I mentioned before), I do not know who is or who is not a real threat to any of us. Better to have the means to protect oneself than to realize you wish you did. Besides, no one need fear my legal gun if they themselves are simply being about their business as I am. Since even trained police officers can make mistakes as you mentioned, should they in turn be unarmed? Of course not. Likewise, average citizens, as you say, should still be armed despite the subtle hint you are dropping about their supposed inability to make sound decisions when needed. People that go through the effort to obtain a permit to legally carry a gun in CT are not known for being ignorant to proper gun usage and employment, and have a strong sober-minded sense of responsibility.

Jeff: I would surmise that some of these gun-toting individuals may not intend to ever use their weapons. Some do so as a deterrent ignoring the absence of evidence to support that belief. Others wear them as a defiant symbol of their pro-gun position. Both justifications are insensitive to fellow residents who it offends or frightens, and is egregiously disrespectful in a community just a few miles from the elementary school where a crazed gun-toting fanatic killed 20 young children and six adults.

Me: You hint at a lack of evidence for the need to carry a legal gun, yet reference Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook is one of the biggest reasons to carry a legal gun. As to offending or frightening anyone I interact with, or casually encounter, by the presence of my legal gun, I simply haven’t the time or luxury to accommodate their irrational fear of this inanimate hunk of steel and polymer I have in a holster on my right hip when I venture forth daily. When approached by the curious, I gladly take the time to educate them on CT gun laws, and answer their questions about my personal and legal guns. I’ll even show them my Permit To Carry Pistols and Revolvers so they get a better understanding of how gun carriers are needlessly vilified by gun-control advocates through fear-mongering and misinformation. But I cannot and will not accommodate a person who suffers from hoplophobia, because their irrational fear clouds their ability to have meaningful dialogue. If my legal guns frighten anyone, that fear is on them, for I do not desire it nor do I gloat in it. They should seek medical help, plainly put.

Jeff: But some gun advocates seem to get pleasure being controversial and flaunting their beliefs. Take for instance, Newtown’s own National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a prominent pro-gun, lobbying firm that rivals the National Rifle Association (NRA). The Hearst Connecticut Media organization recently noted: “NSSF’s lobbying budget in 2012 — the year of the Newtown massacre — was $810,000. The next year it was more than triple that, or $2.95 million, according to congressional lobbying disclosure forms culled from the Center for Responsive Politics’ opensecrets.org website.”

With that kind of budget, you would think they, as well as the industry they represent, would have had the decency and compassion for the victims and their survivors to move their office to another community. Yet, they remain in town boldly sticking their pro-gun crusade in the face of a still grieving community.

Me: The NSSF is not culpable or responsible for the machinations of the very insane and very dead Adam Lanza. Nor is The Second Amendment. Nor is the NRA. To say that the NSSF should leave their location in Newtown because of Sandy Hook is akin to blaming NASCAR when people get speeding tickets. Not a one person at NSSF murdered those 20 children that awful Friday morning. If you wish to speak of budgets used to push a “pro-gun crusade”, can we also look at Bloomberg’s anti-gun crusade and see their financial budget? From 2014: http://www.usnews.com/…/will-bloombergs-50-million-anti-gun… You say that Newtown is a “still grieving community”. I wonder how they can actually begin to heal when local anti-gun groups use them as their poster-children for their own agenda, throwing them down like some kind of emotional “trump card” when faced with losing the argument. Please stop using the Sandy Hook murders as some kind of self-righteous justification for hating guns. It’s petty and offensive. We all cried that Friday morning as the news unfolded before us, and not a one gun-owner I personally know gloried in it or took any joy in it.

Jeff: Caraluzzi’s is trying to skirt the volatile issue by stating that “open carry” is permitted by Connecticut law and who are they to challenge it. But what they fail to mention is they do have the lawful discretion to prohibit these people from entering their stores. It’s not against the law for me to walk barefoot, yet they do not permit barefooted people in their stores. It’s legal to solicit businesses, yet Caraluzzi’s posts signs on their doors prohibiting it. Caraluzzi’s behavior might be understandable if its four supermarkets were not all within a few miles of the second worst school shooting in U.S. history.

Me: Poor Caraluzzi’s keeps getting dragged into this by the anti-gun crowd, and not by the pro-gunners. Let this company sell groceries and leave them out of your anti-gun narrative. Also, Caraluzzi’s has three locations, not four. Again you reference Sandy Hook and the location of one Caraluzzi’s store. Should Caraluzzi’s move, as well? Leave Caraluzzi’s alone. They have done nothing illegal or wrong. They support our Federal Second Amendment and our own State Constitution. Is that a crime? Is that horrible to you?

Jeff: Even Wyatt Earp made everyone check their guns at his office before entering Dodge City for the simple reasons it stopped violence, saved lives, and made the public feel safer. That was the “wild west” so why can’t we do the same in businesses in affluent, ultra-civilized Fairfield County?

Me: I’ll gladly leave my guns at home when every single business I frequent, and the local police, can guarantee my safety and the safety of my family. But they can’t. If you believe otherwise, you are wholly foolish.

Jeff: Area residents need to decide whether they want to take a stand on this issue and, as a result, honor the memory of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A concerted boycott of stores allowing open guns will very likely succeed. People just need to make themselves heard rather than relying on unresponsive politicians to do so on their behalf.

Me: Honoring the memory of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School means I open carry my legal firearm and stay aware and in-tune with my surroundings so that if the next Adam Lanza shows up looking to murder innocents, it won’t end like it did on Friday 14 Dec 2012. You are calling for a boycott of a lawfully-obedient local business with deep roots in the community, and a history stretching back to 1949, simply because they are upholding our gun laws and you don’t like that about them. Shame on you. Caraluzzi’s is more than neutral in this issue. Why are you seeking to bully them to obey you?