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Machen, Gerald T.

English 101
CRN 48341

Wild West Still Alive in the U.S.

Imagine walking around a town where a majority of the people are wearing

guns on their person, some on their hip and others on their ribs. Picture yourself

sitting down in your favorite eatery and being served by a waiter or waitress

wearing a handgun in holster. Thoughts such as these conjure up images of the

Wild West in many people. A time when a dispute could be settled by a pistol duel

in the streets and lawmen were sometimes indistinguishable from outlaws.

Although these images are from the past, they could also be seen in the not-so-

distant future if the open carry law proponents have their say. Open carry is a

shortened name used to describe openly carrying a firearm in public. Although

there are some outliers, the issue is generally considered a split down the middle of

the political spectrum. The conservative right are generally seen to be the open

carry advocates whereas the liberal left are the open carry opponents. As a

member of the liberal left, I can positively say that I am a member of the latter

group. Open carry not only sets back our evolution as a society but it also infringes

upon the rights of members of society that choose not to own or carry a firearm.

As a society, we have spent countless years since our inception trying to

progress. The enactment of a piece of legislature that allows the ability for gun

owners to carry their loaded weapons in public would wipe away much of the

progress made thus far. Advocates for more restrictive gun control believe that to

maintain this progress, the answer is fewer guns. On the opposite side of the
argument, gun-rights advocates suggest that more guns could be the answer. In an

article for The New Yorker, reporter Jill Lepore (2012) wrote When carrying a

concealed weapon for self-defense is understood not as a failure of civil society, to

be mourned, but as an act of citizenship, to be vaunted, there is little civilian life

left. This statement describes the breakdown in society that has occurred and will

continue to occur if people are allowed to brandish their firearms with no


The most prominent argument that advocates of open carry make is that this

is already a right guaranteed by the constitution. While this argument could be

very effective depending upon who you ask. This argument is based loosely upon

the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads A well-

regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the

people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. This coupled with the

conservative view of originalism, a word that signifies the interpretation the

constitution the way it was meant to be interpreted when it was originally signed,

allows an argument to be posed that the founding fathers meant for everyone to be

able to carry weapons. There is also much debate as to which meaning of the word

bear was used by the founding fathers. There is the definition that mean to show

or carry or the other definition that means to hold or possess. The argument

brought forward by these gun advocates is one of semantics. This is simply a clever

ploy to distract people the simple truth, this is a law that will allow private citizens

to act as judge, jury, and possibly executioner.

If you do not believe this will happen, consider the actions of both George

Zimmerman and Curtis Reeves, Jr. In both instances, a person with the ability to

carry a concealed weapon took the law into their own hands. Both situations
happened in Florida, which has a stand your ground law. The stand your ground law

makes it legal for anyone in fear for their life to use deadly force. In the George

Zimmerman case, a man followed a young adult and confronted him. This led to a

physical confrontation in which Mr. Zimmerman decided he needed to shoot the

other male. The fact that someone can start a confrontation and then end it by

taking the other mans life because he is allowed to carry a firearm is sickening. In

the case of Curtis Reeves, Jr, he is accused of shooting a man for throwing popcorn

at him in a movie theater. The two men had a dispute over texting during the

movie, after which a man took Mr. Reeves popcorn from him and threw it at him.

Mr. Reeves responded by drawing his concealed weapon and shooting the man.

According to CNN, the same bullet went through the hand of the victims wife when

she tried to stop Mr. Reeves from shooting her husband (Castillo, Mclaughlin, Hanna,

2014). Nicole Oulson, the victims wife had not exchanged a single word with Mr.

Reeves yet she was injured in the situation nonetheless.

What makes these events any different than any other gun violence that

happens on a daily basis is the state of Florida said that these men were mentally

sound and capable of carrying that concealed weapon. This is what is most

troubling is how a government could determine if someone is mentally stable. It

has been proven that people can hide their psychological issues in order to achieve

a specific goal. Unless an applicant need undergo years a psychological evaluation

and surveillance, how can we clearly say that they are fit to carry a weapon in

public? If a person owns a gun in their home, that only puts themselves and their

family at unnecessary risk; whereas, if they possess these loaded weapons in public

it puts the entire nation at risk (Horwitz, 2012). If society chooses to ignore the

danger and perils that come with allowing guns to be worn in public in order to
protect their supposed God given right to carry their loaded weapon, there is little

that can be said to dissuade them. All that can be done is to educate and rely on

our countrys desire to progress and remain one of the worlds foremost powers to

eventually shift the view of the younger generation. A shift to an outlook that both

secures the safety of the people and promotes compromise, an ideal that was

instrumental in the founding of the United States of America.

Castillo, M., McLaughlin, E., Hanna, J. No threats before movie theater shooting,
widow says. CNN. Retrieved from
Horwitz, J. (2012, April 25). Carry a Firearm Puts the Community at Risk. U.S. News.
Retrieved from
Lepore, J. (2012, April 23). Battleground America. The New Yorker. Retrieved from