The ↑Kroger gun stunt sparks 2nd Amendment debate, NBC reported yesterday:
Charlottesville police say the man who showed up at a Kroger grocery store with a loaded gun wanted to make a point. On Sunday, an unidentified 22-year-old man carried a loaded AR-15 into the Kroger store on Emmet Street and Hydraulic Road, sparking not only a scare for customers and employees but also a 2nd Amendment debate.
Charlottesville police drew their guns on the man after witnesses reported he brought a gun into the store. They restrained the man to ask him questions, but released him after they confirmed he is not a convicted felon, owned the gun legally and it was not concealed.
Police say he was cooperative and did nothing illegal. Officers did find a note in his pocket spelling out his intent to express his 2nd Amendment rights. [...]
Now compare this to the following scene from Neal Stephenson’s ‘Cryptonomicon’ (1999):
In the lot of the 24 Jam, Mike or Mark has joined three other elvishlooking sorts in black cowboy hats and bandannas, whom Randy can identify based on the length and color of their ponytails and beards. There’s Stu, a Berkeley grad student who is somehow mixed up in Avi’s HEAP project, and Phil, who invented a major programming language a couple of years ago and goes helicopter-skiing in his spare time, and Craig, who knows everything there is to know about encrypted credit-card transactions on the Net and is a devotee of traditional Nipponese archery. Some of these guys are wearing long coats and some aren’t. There is a lot of Secret Admirers iconography: t-shirts bearing the number 56, which is a code for Yamamoto, or just pictures of Yamamoto himself, or big fat question marks. They are having an energetic and very happy conversation–though it looks a bit forced–because, to a man, they are carrying long weapons out in plain sight. One of them has a hunting rifle, and each of the others is slinging a rudimentary-looking gun with a banana clip sticking out of the side. Randy thinks, but is not sure, that these are HEAP guns.
This scene, not surprisingly, has caught the attention of the police, who have surrounded these four with squad cars, and who are standing at the ready with rifles and shotguns. It is an oddity of the law in many jurisdictions that, while carrying (say) a concealed one-shot .22 derringer requires a license, openly carrying (e.g.) a big game rifle is perfectly legal. Concealed weapons are outlawed or at least heavily regulated, and unconcealed ones are not. So a lot of Secret Admirers–who tend to be gun nuts–have taken to going around conspicuously armed as a way of pointing out the absurdity of those rules. Their point is this: who gives a shit about concealed weapons anyway, since they are only useful for defending oneself against assaults by petty criminals, which almost never happens? The real reason the Constitution provides for the right to bear arms is defending oneself against oppressive governments, and when it comes to that, your handgun is close to useless. So (according to these guys) if you are going to assert your right to keep and bear arms you should do it openly, by packing something really big. (Stephenson 1999: chpt. 76)