Ada County officials report that in the first quarter of this year, the number of applications for concealed handgun permits tripled the figures from the same period in recent years. They're on a pace to add more than 7,000 such permits to the thousands already out there.
This remarkable surge in the collective desire of so many of our neighbors to strap on a Colt or a Glock, a .38 or a .45, a snub-nose or an automatic--or in the spirit of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, all of them at once--has me curious. Are we experiencing a corresponding rise in violent crime that I'm not aware of? Is somebody not telling us that the people of Boise and Meridian and Columbia Village are being murdered at an alarming rate? Or raped? Or mugged or car-jacked or kidnapped? Are the citizens of Kuna and Garden City being assaulted on the street? At their work? On their way to rent a movie or to get their tires rotated? Have our city parks and strip malls and Moxie Javas become such crime-ridden hell holes that these concealed weapons people dare not leave the house without that great equalizer stashed away under their clothing?
It must be, I realize now, as there would be no need for a concealed handgun permit at home.
As far as I know, you can openly display as many handguns as you want at home. You can keep one on the kitchen counter, or on the toilet. On the coffee table, the knickknack shelf, the piano, the clothes hamper. Why, a fellow can keep a handgun on every flat surface in the whole damn house, if he can afford it.
And that's the thing, isn't it? You don't need a concealed weapons permit back at the castle, where most of the time, we keep our valuables, our beloved pets and our families. So it's got to be outside that has become so fearful. Out in public. Out where those !#%&@*!$ people are!
Bars! Bowling alleys! Convenience stores where I go for Slim Jims and Red Bull! How can I have been so stupid to have gone there without a gun? What in hell was I thinking? I guess the only thing that saved my dumb ass was the fact that I was likely surrounded by smarter people than me. People smart enough to never, ever, go anywhere without a rod in their armpit. A gat in their pants. A heater under their hoodie.
I shudder just to think about it. Like that guy last night. He looked a little like Ted Kaczynski, hanging around about 30 feet downwind from my ATM. He had me nervous, no kidding. But now that I know there are thousands and thousands of concealed handgun permits--old, new and pending--out there among the people I live around, it's more likely he and his hidden gun saved me from a horrible incident, isn't it, rather than involving me in one? It's like the gun proponents always argue: It's all those guns you didn't see that saved us from all those criminal acts that didn't happen.
Anyway, whew! I dodged a bullet, probably. Maybe hundreds of bullets, all thanks to those vigilant folks who, with their secret magnums and Dirty Harry dreams, protect us from all the worst possible scenarios that stalk our streets.
But... hold on. I just thought of something. What if all those guys with concealed gun permits don't actually have a gun concealed on them? What if they just want the permits because they're worried somebody's going to come along some day and take away their ability to get such permits? What if it's not a matter of so much crime going on... or any prospect of so much crime ever going on, not as long as we have modern conveniences like policemen and car doors that lock... or the absence of any tangible reason for so many Idahoans to be hiding firearms in their clothing... but what if it's nothing more than those people wanting to get hold of something they don't need because they heard somewhere that something which has never been proposed--never even been suggested and certainly never been legislated--might happen anyway.
And wouldn't that mean this frantic scramble for concealed weapons permits is bringing out the most gullible, most panic-prone, scaredy-pants, illogically fearful men and women? Men and women who are once more being terrified into buying things they don't need to fend off attacks that won't happen by criminals that don't exist? Or just as bad, what if this has absolutely nothing to do with personal safety or self protection, keeping one's car from being jacked or purse from being snatched, but is really just several thousand of our neighbors throwing a little pissy fit because they think somebody, some day, might tell them they can't get everything they want?
And now they're out there. Among us. Thousands of them. Spoiled, gullible, fraidy cats maybe with guns tucked away under their duds, or maybe not. Out there where you and I might inadvertently cut them off in traffic. Accidentally step on their toes in a crowd. Let slip a perceived insult in a bar or approach them too quickly in a parking garage. Or simply tell them something they don't want to hear on the job.
And we already know how well they take disappointment, don't we? Whether it's real or imagined.
Crap! Now I'm scared. Maybe I should get a concealed gun permit, what do you think? Like, what if one of these petulant, panicky assholes pulls a gun on me? I've been told I look a little like Ted Kaczynski, but I still have a right to protect myself, don't I? And if you think I'm gonna sit there like a dummy, waiting to see who fires first, you're !#%&@*!$ nuts!