January 17, 2020
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What I think about when I carry my gun around town

George Danby | BDN
George Danby | BDN

“Oh my God. I shot him!”

I hope I never have to say those words.

Yes, I support the Second Amendment, and I do open carry most of the time, even though I’ve had a concealed carry permit since 1973. I don’t do it lightly. Open carry is already legal in Maine, but having the option to “cover it up” is good, too. Under the new law that goes into effect in October, covering up will not be illegal without a concealed weapons permit.

My words are for the folks who think they will feel empowered by walking around town with a semi-automatic pistol that can accommodate 20 rounds of hollow-point bullets. They are designed to do one thing — remove a threat quickly and efficiently. In other words, to kill.

I do not feel empowered, to be honest. I feel sick in the pit of my stomach as I walk out the door with my weapon visible or concealed. I know that people of all ages will see I’m carrying, and some people will be wondering if I’m nuts or not. If I have to use my weapon, I may be arrested. I may shoot an innocent person by mistake. If I have to use it, I could be sued, perhaps by multiple people. My life as it has been will never be the same, but it also would not be the same if the actor seriously harms me.

There is a good chance some anti-gun person may confront me with questions I don’t want to answer. I know that I have to walk away with little or no comment. I have to be super vigilant at all times. It’s tiring actually, and at the end of the day, I’m glad I can go home and remove my gun belt. But it’s never far away.

I don’t like that I don’t feel safe without having my sidearm handy. I read and hear about the drug problem in this area almost daily. I have worked in corrections, law enforcement, security and a local re-entry center for felons. I have seen these people up close and personal. Some are OK, but some are not.

Perhaps I am hoping if someone has it in mind to harm me, or others in my vicinity, they’ll see my sidearm, that I am vigilant, and will have second thoughts. Unfortunately, they may look elsewhere for an easier target.

The police will arrive five to seven minutes after someone tries to harm me if I don’t do something. The job of the police is to stabilize the situation, prevent further injury and investigate. They generally are not present to stop a shooting or a violent assault.

I had a young man walk into my house one day while I had stepped out. I did not know him. He just walked in unannounced. Fortunately, a neighbor saw him and called the police. I have several group homes in my neighborhood now and see strangers walking the streets every day. I know nothing about them. They don’t speak or make eye contact. My elder neighbor’s car was ransacked a few months ago. He lives alone and for all intents and purposes is defenseless.

I dislike this whole debate about guns, open carry and all that goes with it. I dislike that we live in a society where we are even talking about it. But we are having the debate, and we live in a society where unstable people are among us as well as homegrown, lone-wolf terrorists.

I refuse to go down like a lamb as happens in so many of these mass shootings. I have a means to defend myself and will use it if the situation calls for it. I practice my shooting skills weekly. I’ve taken many self-defense shooting classes and am taking another in August. I also carry a mace gun with a 25-foot range and a stun device. They give me options other than deadly force.

If you plan to open carry, you need to think about all of these things.

David Winslow lives in Brewer.


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