Marty and I stopped for lunch at the Black Bear Café one day during our recent trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming, and noticed a man sitting at the counter with a pistol in his belt. The Black Bear is anything but a Wild West saloon, with swinging doors. In fact it is a family oriented restaurant, favored by locals and visitors, alike. “Jack” helped himself to coffee, from one of the glass pots on the burner. Since we were not served yet, he poured coffee for us and started a conversation. He said that since Wyoming was a state that permitted carrying guns he might as well keep his visible.
One afternoon, about a week or so later, we stopped at the Bear for pie and coffee. We noticed Jack leave, but since he was in another part of the store, we thought he hadn’t seen us. When we were about to pay, we were surprised to learn that our friend treated us to our dessert. Jack seems like a nice person, and I’m sure that there are many nice people who tote guns.
Some states allow open carry of guns in public places; few have laws preventing it. But as Gail Collins wrote, “The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police.”
I thought of the snake of dubious nature that I caught sight of at the counter in a Dunkin Donuts restaurant. People who flaunt weapons and wild animals seek to draw attention to themselves and shock others. Like Jack, many of these people may be very nice. However we don’t know when anger might trigger a violent response.
There is no place for reptiles at Dunkin Donuts, and there is no place for guns, whether concealed or in full view, in restaurants and at playgrounds.
Do we need another Charleston?