Debby recently wrote about an experience at work that disturbed her a little.
Seems a regular customer, by all accounts a nice guy, walked into the store to get some hardware. Nothing unusual about that. Only this time Debby eyed a handgun sticking out of his pocket.
She had no reason to believe this customer was up to anything out of the ordinary but it gave her a little bit of a jolt and she kept her eye on him, and on that gun.
I am not a hunter. I can count on one hand the times I have shot a gun in my life. It’s just not my thing. But I have countless friends and family members who love to hunt, and a few who don’t hunt but just love guns and go to these ranges where they shoot for sport. Sometimes they go to gun shows.
As I have told them when I have received an invitation to accompany any of them, they have my blessing. I fully believe in their right to “bear arms” as the Second Amendment says; it’s just not a hobby I’m interested in.
As I told Debby when I commented on her blog, I consider myself “pro-gun” but I am also “pro-common sense.” Is there really any reason to carry a handgun into Tractor Supply unless you’re a law enforcement officer? The fact of the matter is that exposed weapons scare people.
And maybe I’m missing something, but I just don’t see any reason this guy needed to be toting his gun into Tractor Supply and making good folks like Debby uncomfortable. I just don’t see the point.
Debby’s story reminded me of something that happened to me a number of years ago when I was working at a law firm in Little Rock.
There was a young lady who worked for us doing title and lien searches, if I remember correctly. Her name was Emily and she was a tiny little thing, maybe a hair over five feet tall.
I was working in my office one morning when my phone rang.
“Mr. McKinney,” the male voice on the other end said in a serious tone, “this is the U.S. Marshall’s Office.”
The guy then proceeded to tell me that he had Emily there in their holding unit. She had set off the alarm when going through Security in the Federal Courthouse. Upon inspection, a handgun had been found in her purse. That’s right, this little wisp of a girl was packing iron. After being taken into custody, she told them to call me.
Now you must understand that the call to me was almost laughable. The only experience I had ever had with Criminal Law at that time was (a) the course I had taken my first year of law school and (b) entering a plea for a client of one of my colleagues, something that took about a minute. I knew nothing of how to get someone out of jail or anything like that.
As I recall, I asked the guy in the Marshall’s office what I should do and he rather sarcastically said he didn’t know, but Emily wasn’t going anywhere until somebody showed up to, I guess, get her sprung -- however that was supposed to have happened.
I asked him if I might be able to talk to her. He put her on the line. She said “hello” as if I had just called her at home.
“Uh . . . Emily,” I said, “the guy tells me you had a gun in your purse – like a loaded handgun,” just knowing there was some mistake.
“That’s right,” Emily said in a very matter-of-fact fashion.
I know I was taking a risk asking the next question, but I proceeded with a really stupid one. (To say I was winging it would be 100 percent accurate.)
“OK Emily, can you tell me why you would be taking a handgun to the courthouse?”
“Oh yeah. Well, I’m going out of town later today.”
“Not sure you understood me there, Emily. What I asked was, why did you take a handgun to the courthouse?”
Emily repeated that she was going out of town later that day. She had forgotten she had to go by the courthouse first when she stuck said handgun in her purse.
At this point I was just wishing the gun were readily available so I could put myself out of my misery but I just told Emily to hold tight and I would see what I could do. She put the officer back on the phone, who again told me that Emily would be sitting right there and would be booked if somebody didn’t soon appear on her behalf.
What he did not tell me was what in the world I was supposed to do once I got there. I didn’t much think my showing up and saying, “Emily didn’t really mean anything by it, have a nice day,” would go very far.
I hung up the phone and went looking for my colleague, Jack, the only guy in our small firm who practiced criminal law, the one for whom I had gone to court a couple of years earlier.
His secretary told me he was in a hearing and, as it turned out, he was in the same courthouse where Emily was being held. Somehow I found him, told him what was going on and, when he was done with whatever he was doing, he and I went to the Marshall’s office.
And there sat petite little Emily with her legs crossed, reading a magazine as if she might have been sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. She smiled and waved at me, seeming not the least bit unnerved by recent events (unlike me).
From there Jack did the talking and my memory completely fails me from there. But I know he got her out and I guess she got her gun back.
I did ask Emily again what the point of having that gun might have been and she, beginning to lose patience, told me a third time that she was going out of town later that day.
To this day I still chuckle, picturing little five-foot Emily with that gun, just ready to take out anybody that might mess with her on the roads of Arkansas.
It definitely takes all kinds.