A few weeks ago, my wife and I had some friends over for dinner. I'm not quite sure how we got on to the subject, but it transpired that one of them carried a gun in her purse. Now this freaked me out slightly, not just because I'm British, but also because I didn't think any of our friends in Texas felt the need to carry guns.Yup, it’s perfectly natural, even expected of an Englishman, that he startle like a frightened pony, nostrils flaring, if his dinner guest has one of those things on her person. At least, it is in Mr Hannaford’s circle, no doubt....
She tried to reassure us that she'd been to the firing range earlier that day to practice (in case, presumably, we thought she was a bad shot).
Actually, it transpires that she didn’t even have it in close proximity to the brave Mr Hannaford (luckily, or he might have had a little accident at table):
Quite aside from the question of why she was even carrying a gun (to defend herself, she said, even though in Austin, a city of just under 750,000 people, there were just 30 murders last year, compared to, say, the London borough of Lambeth, population 273,000, where there were 23), at least she'd left it in her car. The law in Texas states that you must conceal your gun if you own one.And since that’s the law in Texas, and Mr Hannaford is dining in Texas, what’s the problem?
Well, it seems Mr Hannaford doesn’t think that the laws in Texas are good enough. Mr Hannaford would like to see them made a little more, shall we say, accommodating to an Englishman. It’s only fair, isn’t it? After all, Mr Hannaford is residing there, among these rough colonials, even inviting some of them to dinner, and gracing the poor hicks with the bons mots that drop from his lips.
Couldn’t they see fit, in return, to, well, change their laws? Just for him?
But why, in a country where gun ownership is enshrined in law, are there people who want to have them on display? Surely as long as the man standing next to you in line at the grocery store isn't visibly packing heat, you won't start sweating and making for the nearest exit.And if he is...? Assuming he doesn’t also have a stocking over his face and an empty bag marked ‘swag’ in one hand, why exactly would you start sweating....?
It seems Mr Hannaford doesn’t just mistrust the Texas public with handguns, he’s a bit leery of the police too:
Back in 1999, a friend and I hitched a ride in a Long Island suburb, and five minutes into the journey we realised our driver was wearing a pistol. It turned out he was a plain-clothed police officer, but the damage to my nerves was already done. I think if Americans must exercise their right to bear arms, they should do so in private where it can't hurt anybody (or have I missed the point?).Umm, yes, I’d say you’d missed the point spectacularly...
Although I sympathise with Stollenwerk that the law needs clarifying, I think if people must play with big boys' toys, they should do so at a firing range or otherwise keep them under lock and key. If our friend had turned up and put her Glock on the kitchen counter while she enjoyed dinner, I think I would have been more than a little nervous – particularly if I'd said something to offend her.Imaging how nervous you might feel if she reads this, Mr Hannaford. Imagine how she’s going to feel, having been invited to dinner so she can become the butt of your condescending little article on the simple habits of the primitive tribes of the Texas Ranges, as viewed by the sophisticated English man-about-town....?
Gun? Hell, if I’d been your dinner guest treated in this way, you’d have to make sure I wasn’t provided with so much as a blunt fork at the next meal.
Or I’d bury it so far in your throat, it’d still be vibrating when the Swat Team arrived....