Jack Bolle looked down at the dealer’s display case. There, under tha glass on a small white pedestal in the middle of the neatly spaced rows of other, lesser pistols, was the one he wanted. He had been to several local dealers to look at it, to ask to handle it, to cradle it in the palm of his hand, feel its heft, to hold it up in front of him, in the two-armed pose favored by law enforcement, and aim it at the wall, at the paper calendar and the posters, out through the window. It was a Glock, the 19 Gen 5, matte black with the latest high traction surface texture, unmatched, they said, in hardness and resistance to damage and rust. An unmatched reputation. It was cool, figuratively and literally, a solid room temperature object, but it warmed to his touch as he wrapped his palm around the grip, as his index finger caressed the trigger guard. He had read all about it on web sites and talked to the salesmen and listened to everything they could tell him. It had been recommended by carry1open.com and many other sites. But none of the photos and written descriptions could compare with direct physical contact. It was beautiful, a miracle of engineering and manufacturing. He knew he wanted it; he needed it.
It would be expensive, yes, as much as eight hundred including the gun and the polymer thumb-release holster he wanted, and the ammo, and the tax, always the taxes. Government overreach. At least there was nothing they could do to stop him from buying it. And then he would have it. It would be his. He knew exactly where he would keep it, too. When he wasn’t wearing it, it would be kept on the shelf in the hidden cabinet he had built in the closet under the stairs, along with the other guns, the two he had inherited from his father and the others he had gradually added to his collection. But mostly the Glock is the one he would be wearing, whenever and wherever he went out. It would be his everyday defense weapon. He’d finally received his open carry permit; that had cost a bunch, too, what with the required training and all that, but it, too, was all worth it. His wife didn’t seem like she thought so, but by now she had stopped saying anything about it, so it was all good. They had enough income, and he had provided most of it. And, anyway, she spent a lot more money on shoes and clothes than he did, and there was that new vacuum cleaner she had wanted. That wasn’t cheap, either. Now, it was time for him again, it was time to buy the Glock. He filled out the application forms and handed them to the guy behind the counter, officially beginning the waiting period and the required background check. He would wait there at the display case a little while longer, until he could see that the Glock, his Glock now, had been moved from the display case into the room in the back where they kept the weapons that had been reserved for purchasers.
As Jack waited for the salesman to review his application form his eyes briefly scanned the sporting rifles hanging on the wall behind the counter, especially the Wyndam CDI. That was also tempting; a semiauto, 5.56-millimeter Bushmaster-style long gun, sleek black, rapid firing, a 30-round magazine. It would be fun at the range. But it wasn’t something he could carry every day. That would be impractical. And it was more expensive, too; he didn’t think he could get his wife to go for that, not quite yet. If he bought that it would have to join his other so-called assault rifles, the old generic Diamondback DB-15 and the Smith and Wesson M&P15 Sport, all of them standing vertically on the rack in the closet. He had planned ahead so there were three empty slots in there, room for future additions. The Wyndam would also take the place of the older rifles at the range on the weekends that he went there, once a month, at least for the first few months until the novelty wore off and people there got used to seeing it. He could imagine it pressed firmly against his shoulder, the momentary bumps and the sharp pops of each burst as he repeatedly squeezed the trigger.
It was only a week later that he finally brought the Glock home, and the day after that it was neewly cleaned and readied and in the new holster and hanging from his belt as he stood in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom. He adjusted the belt to fit a bit lower on his hips and shifted it slightly further backward, then forward again. It looked great. It was just as cool as he had imagined. He practiced a release and draw movement, a bit awkwardly at first, then again and again, watching the mirror until the muscle memory took over and he had smoothed out the action. He smiled.
Two days after that, on a Saturday, he made a trip to the hardware store, the Glock holstered on his hip. As he had driven to the store and walked from his car to the door he sensed a new awareness, a heightened vigilance to everything around him, a readiness for rapid armed response to anything that might happen. On TV he had continued to hear, repeatedly, endlessly, about all of the crimes perpetrated by the bad guys in their city, the robberies and carjackings and assaults and revenge killings. The news was full of it. The police always arrived after the fact, too late. Now, at least, he would be prepared. He would be the good guy with a gun, prepared and observant and armed, ready to respond to any possible threat or assault with deadly force. He could avoid being a victim. He could defend others. That recognition reinforced his heightened sense of awareness, accompanied by a sort of adrenaline boost. He felt more alive, more energized, than ever. His eyes scanned the streets and parking lot around him, newly alert for any behavior that might be suspicious, anything out of the ordinary. His right hand slid down to rest on the reassuringly solid handle of the Glock on his hip. Yes, he was ready.
Inside the store, Jack noted the actions of others around him. For the most part, they would first look in his direction, then their eyes would drop to his waist, then they would look another direction, then simply turn and walk away, veering off into a side aisle or leaving the aisle that he had entered. For that reason he usually had a full aisle to himself. Out of the corner of his eye as he looked at the products on the shelves he spotted people who would stop at the end of the aisle, look in his direction, then move on. Nobody said anything, but it did seem that people were avoiding him. That was okay, he decided. They would soon realize that he was there to protect them, to keep them safer. They would learn to appreciate men like him. He soon found the paint and brush that he needed to put a new coat on his storage shed, paid for it, and went home.
As the month went on his experiences in other public places were similar, that is, in those locations that he could enter with his weapon, the locations that didn’t have “no gun” signs at the front door. There weren’t many of those in his small town. One, of course, was the church they attended, but he always went there with his wife and she made it clear that she wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving the house with him wearing the gun. In other places, when he was alone, he thought about ignoring the signs, but decided, at least for now, not to confront anyone. He could leave the holster and its contents in his car, it wasn’t a problem, even as he recognized that that would leave him unprotected and a bit nervous. Before he started open carry he had been concerned that maybe some lib or other anti-gun nut might raise a stink seeing him in public—he knew that some web sites had posted complaints about that—but he found that nobody he saw did, at least overtly. It was mostly just avoidance, that and some momentary surprised expressions and pauses as people looked in his direction. No, nobody said anything. Gradually he even began to realize that his previous heightened awareness of others had diminished. In fact, the overall intensity of his interactions with the world seemed to have decreased and he was less and less conscious of the holster itself, noticing it only occasionally, as when his right hand brushed up against it or when it bumped against the central console as he slid into his car seat. It was, he thought, moving from being a life enhancer to being a minor inconvenience.
The solution, he decided, was to renew his awareness of the threat. Jack increased the time he spent on open carry websites, searching out stories of individuals who had successfully defended themselves or others using the weapons they had available. He could imagine himself in those situations, backing down a perp, maybe even firing a well-placed shot. At first he thought there were a large number of such incidents, but soon realized that there was a lot of duplication and that many different web sites copied the same information. Still, that did provide him a new rededication for a few months. He again felt like a potential hero, a supporter of law and order. But then nothing happened. He never had any reason to pull the Glock out. The stories about gun owners foiling criminals were still out there, and new ones were added on occasion. Stories on the TV news about robberies and road rage and mass shootings were still there, but they always involved people and locations he didn’t know. Nothing seemed to happen around him.
It was not just that his life was boring; in fact, it was mostly like life before he started open carry, but it now was in contrast with that brief period of heightened awareness. In addition, there was the continuing inconvenience of that weight on his hip that got in his way when he wanted something out of his pocket or when he slid into his car seat. And then there was the tendency, still noticeable, of people avoiding him in stores. More and more when he went out he didn’t bother to get the Glock out of the closet. More and more, it seemed that it just wasn’t worth it.