I was leaving my local grocery store in a suburban Raleigh/Cary neighborhood. I was excited and nervous about the arrival of my best friend, really sister, from The Netherlands later today. As I was leaving, an unremarkable middle-aged white man was striding through the parking lot when he rather nonchalantly flipped open his jacket to reveal to me his handgun holstered to his side, wrapped in black leather. I have to say I really did not know how to respond. Was he going into the store to commit mass murder? Was he somehow signalling to me that this was his intention? Does everyone who brings a weapon into the neighborhood Harris Teeter need to flash all the bystanders? Or was he merely demonstrating his "manliness" by showing me his "compensator"? I am a Texan, so I have mixed feelings about guns. I know their utility in the proper circumstances, and I would never deny a rancher their right to have a firearm on hand. However, I do not see the need to carry a weapon into the neighborhood grocery store. I thought that I should call 911, or perhaps go into hysterics right there in the parking lot to publicly embarrass the man, but I did none of these things. Instead I got in my car, more than a bit perplexed, and headed home; anticipating my friend's arrival from overseas. On the way home, I had the unexpected surprise of seeing a bald eagle soaring over our local small lake, and my excitement over this rare event eclipsed my concern over the firearm encounter, until later tonight when I was recounting this incident to my family and dear friend. It is ironic that our symbol of freedom distracted me from this infringement on my rights, and it is truly astounding that we have to endure situations where we must decide why a person is bringing a firearm into a grocery store. I take my child to that store, and if I had been heading into it rather than out, I surely would have turned around and left after seeing that gun on his hip. How are we as a society supposed to deal with this? I will be contacting Harris Teeter tomorrow to ask them what their policy is on customers carrying in their store. I am terrified to think I am surrounded by armed and potentially angry citizens everywhere I and my child go. How do we deal with this?
Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:22 PM PT: First time on the rec list! Thanks everyone for the great info and advice in the comments. I think that an action item stemming from my experience and that of Cpqemp at the pizza buffet in another recd diary is that we must make businesses take a stand on open carry. We must tell them that we will not frequent their businesses if they allow people to brandish their weapons in our presence!
Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:44 PM PT: I am off to bed. Please talk nicely amongst yourselves and I will respond to comments tomorrow.
7:58 AM PT: A quick update to address the questions in the comments about this man's intent. Although it is a matter of opinion, I do feel that his action of flipping open his jacket and looking at me was purposeful, but I don't think this man was trying to threaten me. Instead he seemed to be showing off. Whether he was brandishing a concealed weapon or "unconcealing" an open carry weapon is debatable, and this point highlights the vagaries of our handgun laws. It is the fact that me as an unarmed citizen and mother of a young child must interpret these situations in my grocery store parking lot that I feel is the issue. This man's "right" to carry his weapon is infringing on my right to feel safe and secure buying food for my family.