“So Mom, what were you and that one guy talking about?” “He was telling me that he was carrying a concealed gun and a woman gets raped every two minutes.” Those aren’t exact quotes, but that’s the gist of a conversation I had with my mom following the annual Tartan Day commemoration at the state capitol on Saturday, of which I was a participant and she was a spectator. Tartan Day is a non-political event — that part will be quite important in subsequent paragraphs — where Scots celebrate Scottish culture on the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. It’s equivalent to the American Declaration of Independence, but still, in America anyway, not a political event. It’s a day to say that kilts are manly, bagpipes sound great, and our favorite color is plaid. Nothing to do with bragging about your concealed gun to my mom, OK?
So over the course of the event, other Tartan Day events and gatherings get announced, and some strange person, who I won’t identify because I’m only 95% sure I know who he is and I don’t want to disparage the innocent, somehow talked his way into getting a bit of microphone time. He started out saying he was very disappointed with the results of the last election. This is a bad way to start a speech at a non-political event. Participants hold lots of differing opinions, which are normally kept out of conversation, being utterly irrelevant. Let’s just say I’m not the only one who thinks the NRA is vile, while others might well have Wayne LaPierre posters in their bedrooms.
So gun-nut guy says he wants to tell us about an event we would be interested in — in his really wrong opinion — that turns out to have utterly no connection to Tartan Day, Scottish cultural groups, or anything whatsoever to do with why we’re there. He could have announced a Tupperware party and been just as relevant. He had come to tell us about Patriot Day, a rally at the same spot at the capitol where we were standing and is the only thread of commonality to be found. It’s a rally to celebrate the right of people whose sanity you can only guess at to walk around with loaded guns. From the flyer my mom had the presence of mind to hang on to, it looks like the top billing goes to Rep. Tony Cornish, yes, fire-at-will Tony Cornish, which probably tells you everything you need to know about the organizers’ point of view. I did learn a new phrase, “constitutional pastor”, when gun-nut guy touted the “constitutional pastor” coming to the rally. I’m not sure what that means. It must mean a pastor who respects the separation of church and state, right?
Why did gun-nut guy think this was an appropriate time to publicize his Tupperware party, er, gun manufacturers scare-athon? I don’t know. I have no idea what anyone told him about the event before he came. One of the local Scottish cultural organizations is a group of historic reenactors (which includes me) with reproduction 17th century muskets, so maybe he thought this was just some old-timey looking kilted gun show. I don’t know what he said to wheedle some microphone time.
As clueless as gun-nut guy was about the inappropriateness of politicizing a cultural event, I’m not suggesting he was close to pulling his concealed gun and popping off some rounds if he heard something he didn’t like. I have little doubt that when his concealed gun allowed him to brag about the gun he concealed, the concealed gun had then fulfilled the entirety of its purpose. Yet, when you find out your mom was innocently talking to some guy who was packing and he wasn’t a cop, or anyone else with a good reason to be armed, but just — some guy, you get a bit ticked off. What’s laughable, though not really in a good way, is our historic reenactor group arranged a firearms permit with capitol security — for 17th century muskets that take half a minute to load one shot if you’ve been practicing, and we just fired blanks. Gun-nut guy shows up with a modern loaded concealed gun. That rally he touted is probably going to be like the hearing rooms inside the capitol when the gun sanity bills were in committee, full of who knows who carrying loaded guns and just hoping that the trouble they’re looking for will finally break out, or at least something close enough that they can finally shoot.
Let me see if I can boil this down for you: if you need to brag to strangers about carrying a concealed gun, you’re a walking argument for stricter gun laws.
So I guess I’ll show up at Patriot Day. No, I’m not planning to counter-protest. I’m not generally a believer in counter-protesting. I prefer to let other people have their protests and opponents should hold their own. I do however intend to trick my way into some microphone time where I can announce to the crowd that there’s an event they’ll want to know about, and then tell them about some event that has absolutely nothing to do with anything they’re there for. What’s the date of that Tupperware party again?