Here's something people need to understand about gun nuts: They really think the world revolves around them. And they simply do not care that the loving object of their fetish is certain to inspire fear and terror, or at the very least profound concern, in every person they encounter -- and quite reasonably so.
Last summer I went down in the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana, a tourist attraction wherein people hike in guide-led groups deep into a spectacular set of caves, not far from Three Forks. About midway down I noticed that one of our fellow hikers was packing a pistol on a holster on his hip.
As we emerged from the cave, I asked him why he felt he needed a pistol to go with a group of tourists into a confined cave where any shot is likely to ricochet and harm someone. He shrugged and said, "Well, you never know when the bad guys are gonna do their thing."
I looked at him and chuckled. "Sure, but how the hell do I know that you're not the bad guy?"
He shrugged and smiled. That wasn't his problem.
Obviously, the answer was that I didn't, and couldn't, know that. The only solution was to pack my own semiautomatic.
Which brings us to the most recent demonstration of "gun rights" by a couple of blithering morons in Portland, courtesy of KPTV:
Two men carrying assault rifles on their backs said they were simply exercising their Second Amendment right, but police said they scared plenty of people.
Calls started coming in to 911 dispatchers shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday. Callers said two men with guns strapped to their backs were walking through the area of Southeast Seventh Avenue and Spokane Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood.
Officers arrived in the area and contacted both 22-year-old men. They were carrying rifles openly on their backs and were valid concealed handgun license holders in Oregon.
The men told officers they were hoping to educate the public about gun rights.
Officers explained that they were likely to continue generating 911 calls from alarmed people in the area, which would require a police response. Officers reported neither man seemed interested in those concerns.
No, of course they weren't interested. It seems not to occur to these guys that brandishing a gun is an implied threat. In reality, of course, it more than occurs to them -- most gun nuts positively revel in the fear-inducing power of their weapons. But they want to make this disingenuous argument -- that people ought to be able to just walk around with their guns openly and not scare anyone -- because what they really want is to be able to openly display their manhoods.
This argument also disingenuously pretends that the people in this neighborhood are being irrational by responding with fear and panic. Reality check: The last thing most of the victims of the recent spate of mass shootings saw was someone brandishing a gun in a place where they would have no reason to do so. Is it a surprise that this sight would inspire fear? On the contrary, it only makes sense.
But no, the only thing that matters to these fools is that they can make a statement. Well, they make one, all right: They made irrevocably clear how utterly helpless and vulnerable ordinary citizens are to the presence of a gun threat, because the gun-rights lobby has so skewed the laws that packing an assault rifle into a shopping area will not get you arrested.
Because to these clowns, brandishing an assault weapon is "peacefully exercising your rights in public":
"Exercising my rights with a rifle to try to decrease the demonizing of peacefully exercising your rights in public," one of the men told Fox 12. He said his name is Warren, but did not want to provide a last name.
Portland police identified the men as Warren Drouin and Steven Boyce.
Officers said carrying firearms openly is legal in Oregon and carrying a concealed gun is legal with a valid license. However, doing one or both may generate 911 calls and possibly tie up resources that are needed for a true emergency.
Warren said he hoped people would approach them and talk to them, instead of calling police.
"What they really should do is observe the person to determine if the person is aggressive," he said of seeing someone with a gun in public. "We're not doing anything threatening to anyone."
The thing is, most gun nuts in fact are acutely aware of the threatening power of a gun. That's why, if you get them too mad, they'll pull out their guns and display them prominently (I've seen this happen several times in cases of "road rage"). Because they know that just brandishing that gun is enough to make the point.
And that point always is: Back down or I'm gonna shoot you.
And it always works. Almost. Unless, of course, the guy you're threatening has an even bigger gun.
No big surprise, then, that this is exactly what these guys, and their gun-nut leadership in the NRA, and their "tactical weapons" heroes, are doing to the rest of the country -- especially the people fed up with senseless gun violence -- right now.