A Thought Exercise Submitted Anonymously to The Liberty Block
I live in an open-carry state, meaning that as long as you are legally allowed to own a firearm, you may carry it in plain visibility while in public. So, I started thinking about this and how it would work in a practical sense (as I’ve never had a need to carry a firearm on my person unless I’m on my property or at the range). Let’s work a scenario:
You live in an open-carry state, and you are walking down the street to get some ice cream with your wife and child. You have your pistol holstered on your belt for self-defense should the need arise. While walking, a police officer drives past and sees you, then turns around and stops in front of you. The cop exits his vehicle and approaches you, telling you to stay put. As he nears you and your family, he tells you to put your hands up and states that he is going to disarm you for his safety. We all know that this is a very common and likely scenario. It is generally accepted that when police encounter/detain a person with a firearm, they nearly always disarm the citizen, at least until the detention is over.
Would you allow the government agent to do this? If you don’t, the situation will escalate quickly. If you would, then what is the point of carrying a firearm if you are going to disarm yourself for any would-be tyrant that demands it of you?
There are a number of considerations here. First, you are fairly certain that you have done nothing wrong and violated no law. You know that you have a natural right to carry your firearm – and that this right is protected by the US Constitution. And you know that many people who were unarmed have been hurt or killed by authoritarian government agents, both in the US and abroad. You also believe that police do not have the right to simply stop you and disarm you for no reason. So, you have a right to be armed. You know this and appreciate this, otherwise you wouldn’t be carrying a firearm in the first place.
On the other hand, you know that deputies and police have a job to do, and during the faithful execution of those duties they have an established right to be safe and to disarm any detainee. This is why the courts have allowed ‘Terry stops’, or Terry pat-downs, during a detainment. However…you also know that the cop must have a reason to detain you. They cannot simply pull random people off the street and hold them “hostage” for no reason. But in our scenario, the cop has not identified any reason for your detainment…he has simply given you an order and expects you to comply. And you better comply. Or you could get hurt or be killed, and so could your family.
This is a deeply personal question, one that has no clear-cut answer. I simply pose the question to make you think about a potential realistic situation. I think most people would comply with the cop’s instructions, either out of respect for the cop’s authority or for fear of their family’s safety. Others might become obstinate and refuse, demanding a supervisor on the scene immediately. Personally, I don’t believe I could put my family in jeopardy going toe-to-toe with a cop on the sidewalk. I know that if I refuse the cop’s orders, however wrong I think they are, I will eventually be forced into submission – or worse.
So, there we have it, the heart of the issue: are you willing to trade your rights for your safety? Ideologically, we would all like to say “No, never, not me!” and stand tall with visions of our forefathers running through our minds. I think the reality of the situation, though, would lead an average man of average constitution down the path of safety and obedience. And there is no shame in that. You must be true to yourself, to your own beliefs and convictions…wherever those may lie.