By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- Cody, Wyoming is the jumping-off point for hundreds of thousands of tourists every year about to enter the east gate of Yellowstone National Park.
They make that last stop after their long drive in from eastern states for gas and food before entering the park.
On a warm sunny July day, rancher Bob drives his pickup truck into Cody to gas up. Bob has been working cattle all day and has a tool of his trade on his belt–a handgun.
Carrying a handgun in an open holster is legal in Wyoming, and Bob thinks nothing of his actions as he is pumping gas in his truck. Bob’s soon-discovered problem is the person in the vehicle next to him at the gas station that has Connecticut license plates and is suffering from hoplophobia.
Hoplophobia, as defined by Colonel Jeff Cooper, is the irrational fear and debilitating hatred of weapons and/or an armed person.
Society has worked very hard over the past one hundred years to disarm the average law-abiding citizen. In doing so, the federal, state, and local laws, statuettes, and ordinances have done a great job of convincing the public that your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is really a scary idea.
Frightened Connie from Connecticut dials 911 and starts screaming on the phone to the police dispatcher that there is a man with a gun standing next to her. Now, the Cody police know that open carry is not only legal in Wyoming but practiced every day in that State; however, they have to respond to the concerned citizen. So the dispatcher rolls a squad car and a backup unit to the gas station.
Of course, rancher Bob has no idea what is going on and is fixing to drive away after paying for his fuel. The officer exits his car as Connie from Connecticut is yelling “that’s him” and pointing to unsuspecting rancher Bob.
The officer is young and fresh out of the police academy. He was trained to take charge of the situation and control the outcome. He tells Bob to step out of his truck and keep his hands up. Bob does not understand what is going on, is now a little irritated with the officer, and verbally expresses his unhappiness with the situation. Connie is still trying to instruct the officer in a loud annoying east coast accent, that he needs to do something about Bob’s handgun because she is afraid of weapons.
Her hoplophobic fear is now boarding on hysteria. Rancher Bob is in no mood to hear what the young officer has to say and starts to get back into his truck. Warnings of increased use of force are uttered by the young officer, and Bob is getting more agitated by the second. Luckily, the older officer in the backup unit has experience dealing with hoplophobia manifested in out-of-state citizens. He asks Bob if he would mind giving him a minute of his time to sort out Connie’s irrational fears.
The older officer approaches Connie and advises her that in Wyoming, as in many of the western states, there are open carry laws that allow a citizen to carry their firearm exposed in public.
“But I am from Connecticut, I am afraid of guns and I don’t like this,” shouts Connie.
The older officer advises that this is Wyoming, and if she is really that afraid, perhaps she should turn her minivan around and head back east to safety.
This story is fictional, but situations involving a legally armed citizen and hoplophobic people play out routinely in this country. In many of the cases, the fears of the unprepared, unarmed hoplophobia-suffering person trump the rights of the law-abiding armed citizen. Wyoming has a conceal carry law. You are in a store and you reach down to grab an item off the shelf. For a second, your legal handgun is exposed and a hoplophobic person panics and calls 911. You are in the right but please, when that young officer arrives, follow his instructions no matter how upset you are.
Anyone, including a trained police officer, can suffer from a sudden case of hoplophobia when stress and a weapon are present. Former Army Captain Erik Scott was shot in a store in Las Vegas, NV allegedly because a hoplophobic store employee panicked. Scott died with his concealed carry permit in his pocket. He was dead right.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret. , is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Now retired, these days he enjoys camping, traveling, volunteering with the Girl Scouts and writing. [email protected]