If you’re enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant with your family and you see a man carrying an assault rifle walk in, it could be one of two things: either he’s a crazy person intent on killing someone or he’s a crazy person intent on showing his gun off in public and daring someone to ask him to leave it at home. While the NRA would say just give him the benefit of the doubt, the possibility that you could be the victim of a shooting might make you lose your appetite.
You would think that businesses wouldn’t want that kind of scenario being played out in their establishments – people afraid of dying don’t usually stay for dessert – but instead they are more concerned with upsetting the guys with guns. And for good reason. The NRA* and other pro-gun groups have demonstrated again and again, they are willing to bring down a world of pain on any business that they perceive as going soft on supporting people’s God-given right to carry machine guns wherever they go.
Consequently, there wasn’t really a good way to prevent this from happening.
Finally, a philosophy professor thinks he may have come up with a solution. Pro-gun businesses are going to hate it.
On the website Philosophy Questions Every Day, University of North Dakota professor Jack Russell Weinstein tackles the question of “how people should respond to open-carry gun-rights activists?”
Again, complaints haven’t worked. Gun nuts insist they are the “good guys” and liberals are just being weak-kneed. Businesses are afraid to get too much attention from gun groups. It seems like an intractable problem. Here’s how Weinstein says we should respond.
My proposal is as follows: we should all leave. Immediately. Leave the food on the table in the restaurant. Leave the groceries in the cart, in the aisle. Stop talking or engaging in the exchange. Just leave, unceremoniously, and fast.
But here is the key part: don’t pay. Stopping to pay in the presence of a person with a gun means risking your and your loved ones’ lives; money shouldn’t trump this. It doesn’t matter if you ate the meal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just received food from the deli counter that can’t be resold. It doesn’t matter if you just got a haircut. Leave. If the business loses money, so be it. They can make the activists pay.
It may seem rude or embarrassing to simply walk out, but is the alternative any better? In a very real sense, lives could be on the line and putting yourself at risk in order to not offend is not a smart move. It also hurts businesses where it matters most: their profits. If you leave without paying, you just cost the business a sale. If they want you to pay, they should do a better job of making you feel positive that you aren’t about to get shot. If businesses don’t like that then they have to go through the awkward motions of explaining why they are more concerned about a bill then they are about their customers’ safety.
The gun-rights activists think that their intent is obvious and that everyone knows what they hope to do. They believe their minds are transparent. But this is because they are all extreme narcissists. It baffles them that we don’t all know exactly what they are thinking. It shocks them that we don’t know that Jim is a good guy, and that Sally would never murder anyone. But they are wrong. We don’t know them and we don’t know how they think. The only thing that makes us notice them at all is that they have guns and truthfully, that’s why they carry them in the first place. They want to be celebrities, heroes, and the centers of attention.
So give them what they want, Weinstein argues. Let them eat in the restaurant alone while the owners struggle to justify protecting them. It’s not up to the rest of us to play by their rules.
After Weinstein’s argument went viral, he made a follow-up video where he further explained his reasoning. Check it out below:
h/t The Wonkette
*The NRA initially criticized open-carry advocates for bringing guns into restaurants saying they were being “weird.” However, I decided to include the organization because they later caved to pressure and retracted that condemnation.