Are we ready for Concealed Carry for those who run and ride?

By Christopher Cudworth

The inside scoop on Concealed Carry is that people really don't know how the law works.

The inside scoop on Concealed Carry is that people really don’t know how the law works.

In 40+ years of running and 10+ years of cycling, I’ve spent thousands of hours on the roads encountering all sorts of traffic and other random ass behavior.

Which has taught me a few things about random ass behavior. One: it really is random. Two: there are quite a few asses in this world.

Things have actually gotten better over the years for those of us who run. Back in the 1970s when I started training on the roads runners were a real novelty. That meant people felt it was funny to lean out the car window and shout things at us. Some even threw bottles at me, or half empty cans of beer. But there was a time….

So funny. Not.

One enterprising group of kids happened to have water balloons in the car for some reason. If it sounds funny to throw a water balloon at someone considering the fact that a car traveling at 25 mph increases the velocity of that balloon and it realllly hurts when you get struck in the back. I could hear them laughing as they drove ahead down the road but had I had a gun at the moment I would gladly have shot out their tires.

Knife attack. 

A year after that incident I was running through the quiet little town of Geneva, Illinois when a group of kids hanging out in front of the theater decided to harass me as I ran by. One yelled something about my manhood and I turned and gave him an angry fist pump in return. Big mistake. He came running after me with all 250 lbs of his girth but lost the footrace. Then he jumped in an orange Renault and a car full of them pursued me around the block until one of them jumped out and literally threw a big knife at me.

Had I been armed at that point, I would gladly have shot him in the kneecap.

Road rage. In deed. 

Then when I took up cycling the threats to my health turned even stranger and more dangerous. People seem to get angry that they have to share the road with a bike. It happens fairly often, usually once a week in fact. Some turbocharged soul drives by with his engine gunning and flips you the bird. A month ago one of them yelled “Get on the bike path!” even though there were no bike paths in sight. Not for 10 miles in fact. Talk about irrational thinking. See, he’d stored up his anger and was just waiting for someone to release it upon. But his anger backfired.

I kept my pace of 20mph and rolled up behind him at the next stop sign. That’s when he pulled his truck onto the gravel shoulder to block my path. So I stopped and said calmly to the open window in the back of his pickup cab, “It’s called a road bike genius. That’s why we ride it on the road.”

Fist fights.

If only most encounters ended so mildly. Because quite a few drivers over the years have turned anger into threats. One of my riding companions was accosted physically by a man who first swerved his car at the group of cyclists and then pulled his vehicle to the side of the road, jumped out in front of them on their bikes and threw a punch at a rider while yelling something about “getting off the road.”

That fellow got the worst of it when his punch missed and one of the cyclists responded with a solid punch to his tense jaw. Down he went. Then the cops arrived and the guy who threw the first punched pressed charges. The cyclist who connected was issued a ticket by the policemen who arrived on the scene.

How is that even close to justice? It isn’t. The aggressions shown toward cyclists and runners don’t always ends in fist fights or thrown knifes. But those are genuine threats.

The law.

What also constitutes a threat? Is driving too close to cyclist a threat? Passing inside of three feet of a cyclist with a vehicle is against the law here in Illinois. But what is the implication if along with passing too close a driver lays on the horn loudly and hollers a threat or makes an obscene gesture. How do we determine if that is intended as an act of violence toward those innocently using the roads for transportation or recreation.

If we abide by the Concealed Carry laws now in effect in 50 states, one could legitimately argue that in such circumstances a cyclist or runner would have the right to defend themselves. If you carry a firearm and perceive yourself to be at risk for physical harm or even death, it is technically your call on how to use that firearm. You could shoot out the tires of a truck or car whose driver showed open aggression toward you. Or you could shoot the driver who jumps out of their vehicle brandishing a knife or throwing punches in your direction.

Ignorance abounds.

The fact of the matter is that very few people really know the law as it pertains to these situations. If those actions stemming from Concealed Carry are not lawful, then they must be delineated through firearms education.

A story on CBSLocal.com outlines the poor understanding of how Concealed Carry laws really apply. “Even McCarthy (a state police officer) who has been one of the most vocal critics of the law allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed firearms in public, warned there will be confrontations that could escalate into a deadly shooting – similar to January, when a retired police officer shot and killed a man who had been using his cell phones during the previews at a movie theater; or when a Florida man shot four teens – killing one – during an argument over loud rap music in 2012.”

Beyond theory. 

So it is not some theoretical issue that those who run and ride might want to protect themselves. One could definitely understand the reasons why a woman might want to carry a pistol to protect themselves while running. The risks of rape or harassment are indeed real in many locations. So if a woman runner or cyclist pistol-whipped a potential rapist how would the law determine if his intent were real or misunderstood? Our culture and especially politicians clearly struggle with understanding rape and how to interpret what actually constitutes rape.

Violent fantasies.

My own violent fantasies have often escalated when threatened by crazed drivers. Sitting there on your bike at a stop light while some deranged guy yells epithets at you can make you feel pretty vulnerable. And pretty angry. And if that guy gets out of this truck with a weapon of some sort, even a hammer, what is there to defend your honor and well-being except a bike pump and maybe a wrench?

But if you whip out a pistol things get even real quick, don’t they?

Pro-gun? Not really. 

Now I’m not a gun advocate. I think Concealed Carry laws are nuts. The fact that we have them in all 50 states is testament not to the intelligence of our culture but the power and ability of the most stupid interpreters of the Second Amendment to threaten and cajole the public into approving of Concealed Carry. They have played on our fears and our most aggressive instincts, and plied the political process with money and threats to the point where justice can no longer be managed or served.

That’s because the type of guns and the number of them now available far outstrips the Second Amendment law that says our nation shall have a well-regulated militia. The Second Amendment does not, as gun proponents like to claim, guarantee absolute freedom to own weapons without restrictions. A well-regulated citizenry must absolutely protect against the establishment of vigilante justice, which is where the laws providing Concealed Carry now rest. More Americans have been killed by gun violence than all the soldiers who have ever died in American wars on foreign soils. We’re literally at war with ourselves. All because of the fantasy that guns protect our freedoms. It’s a violent farce. A black comedy. We see proof of that every time a new rash of gun violence and mass killings breaks out. It will never stop unless we hold the Second Amendment to its promise of a well-regulated gun culture.

Surprise, surprise. 

See, right now the balance is tipped heavily toward those who love to own guns and see them as the great equalizer in society. And we all expect as a rule that gun owners abide by the law. But what does that really mean? If self-defense is that important to society, what if it starts to get turned on its head by the weakest elements of society such as cyclists or runners who simply want to Share the Road and keep getting threatened by those who don’t know how to abide by the law. A vehicle can serve as much as a weapon as any gun you might want to own.

So it is interesting to think about the surprise of some gun-toting pickup driver jumping out of his F-250 with angry threats toward a cyclist for riding on the road only to face the barrel of a dark little glock pistol held by a lycra-wrapped cyclist with blood-red eyes behind his Oakley shades. “Get back in your fucking truck right now,” the cyclist would growl. “Before I give that ugly tire around your waist a permanent flat.”

Oh, the violent joy in that would make the papers indeed. But would all those traditional gun lovers love the tale? Or would they accuse some liberal candy-ass cyclist wearing a stretchy outfit and bright colors of taking liberties against someone with more rights to the road. Would the conservative faction of this nation jump to the defense of the motorist as having more rights than the cyclist? Or would the conservative crowd find merit in the idea that freedom means freedom for all, not just those with motorized wheels? That’s the tarsnake of all this Concealed Carry stuff.

Those are questions yet to be asked or answered. But perhaps it’s time someone took a shot at it. Because that’s how America rolls.

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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6 Responses to Are we ready for Concealed Carry for those who run and ride?

  1. bgddyjim says:

    I disagree entirely with your take on the second amendment but because I doubt I could change your mind (and it’s late) I’ll refrain from the particulars. When I ride in downtown Flint, I always carry and I ride my cheapest bike. On the bike path, when there was a project a short distance from the trail, violent crime was rampant. I never even thought of pulling it once. For one simple reason… Anyone who has taken a ccw course knows that if you pull a pistol, no matter how justified, it’s a MINIMUM of a $10,000 act to defend it, but can run as much as $100,000 if you pull the trigger. Not only that, when you do go to trial, they’ll make it look like you shot a saint, no matter the circumstances. Worse, if you use your pistol to defend someone else you run the risk of inserting yourself into a situation in which you could end up in prison (there are technical ways around this).

    To the vast majority of legal gun owners, carrying a pistol is a serious right and responsibility, and it is absolutely not to be squandered on petty grievances such as “making someone respect you” which never works well. You quote two extreme examples of pistols wielded by ignoramuses to justify your position while glossing over the hundreds of thousands of times that pistols have been used properly by a person defending his, or his family’s, life. We’ll have to try to go for a century some time and talk it through. I’m game for that (and I’ll leave my pistol locked in the hotel safe).

    • Jami says:

      Well said bdggyjim! Thanks for saying what I was thinking. As a runner, a cyclist, and a gun owner I’d have to agree with you – the vast majority of those who carry take that privilege very seriously and would not unnecessarily jeopardize that right. Having said that, the one time I need to pull out my weapon I damn well won’t regret it!

    • It’s very interesting the bouncy, excitable language gun proponents use when they talk about guns. It’s always words like “jeopardize” and “weapon” and protection and “proper use” and on and on an on ooonnn. Okay, to you, we get it. Happiness is a Warm Gun. But set aside your enthusiasm for a second and consider the facts. More Americans have actually died from accidental, intentional or self-inflicted gunshots than all the soldiers EVER KILLED IN WARS ON FOREIGN SOILS.

      So for all the talk talk talk about a legal circumstances and rights and regrets I have never heard anyone cogently address the fact that our country is a killing machine of its own citizens. It’s like the deaths are simply collateral damage to the right to own weapons. That pathetic phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a pathetic excuse for logic because it denies any responsibility on the part of gun owners and manufacturers for the carnage guns create.

      So consider this: My point in writing the essay was not to debate gun rights so much as it was to raise the issue about public safety and the general intellect and actions of the public at large. I admit my own violent fantasies in the process. These, I think, are an indictment of sort of violent fantasies as a whole. There’s simply too much of the public imagination gobbled up in the power and justice of guns. Even gun owners can’t make sense of it. So they let the NRA do the dirty work of creating and defending public policy. And what has that wrought? More slaughters. More accidental shootings. More intentional shootings. The claim that law-abiding gun owners don’t do any of that stuff is impertinent. Law abiding drivers also don’t drive drunk and kill people. But the difference here is that guns are designed to kill while cars are designed for transportation. So there’s an added responsibility that, if the tool cannot be adequately controlled it must be further regulated. Because violent fantasies combined with violent weapons result in violent deaths. It’s the design of the tool.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Your one sentence about your own violent fantasies says everything we need to know brother… You’re projecting your inner violence on the millions of law abiding citizens who successfully own firearms. I am not like you. I know damn good and well if I pull my firearm in public, even justified, it’s a $10,000 offense. If I pull the trigger, $100,000 – and that’s a minimum. I’ve been through countless hours of training and courses – I’ve put in the hours at the timed tactical ranges. I do what is right to abide by the constitution and carry a well regulated firearm. The FBI has my fingerprints on file so I may do so… So don’t preach to me about how I should be allowed to defend myself based on your fantasies.

        The second you make a cop light enough to carry, I’ll turn in my pistol.

        Also, write as if gun violence happens in a vacuum. It doesn’t. It is MUCH harder for a citizen in Mexico to own a personal firearm and they cannot remove it from there residence – yet OUR OWN Government supplied criminals in Mexico with AUTOMATIC and semi-automatic weapons. When you outlaw firearms you ensure that the only armed people are the criminals and those who clean up after the carnage. No thanks man.

        Gun control is the notion that it’s better to find a woman raped and strangled with her own nylons than to find that woman explaining to an officer of the law why that rapist has a few holes in him.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Oh, and I almost forgot about your accidental death claim… How many more people die in auto accidents? Five times? Ten? One hundred times? Should we all forego automobiles for bikes? Of course not.

  2. I find it ironic that while well-argued, the points you make here do add up to a philosophy of “let’s do nothing” about gun violence. It feels like what you’re asking is to be simply be left alone with your legal weapons. But the problem with that form of “right to bear arms” is that it denies the fact that people with violent fantasies can and do also get guns legally. That was my point. That human nature, being imperfect from both a humanistic and spiritual perspective, is fundamentally flawed. Guns by contrast are an absolute expression in material form of the desire to dominate as well as to protect. Guns weren’t invented just for protection. They were invented to maim and kill. So the benign stance you advocate is not so benign at all. By far the greater debate is about how many supremely deadly weapons are now available to people whose anger or disenfranchisement, whose greed or lawlessness, whose flawed fundamental nature and access to murderous weapons combine to create mass shootings, crime and the internal threats of war so prized by modern-day “militias” so paranoid about their existence they don’t feel normal unless armed to the teeth. I’m not saying that’s you. I’m saying that the Constitution says that “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” is not what we have. So you can shriek all you want that we’re not creating a vigilante state. In truth we have with Concealed Carry laws now in effect in all 50 states. Do most people have the training and sophisticated knowledge you document? Not likely. The kid who stole his mom’s military grade weapons and shot dozens of little kids cares not one whit about all that. He knows how to load ammunition and pull triggers. His violent fantasies soon enough came to life, and it resulted in deaths. Arming teachers or janitors wont’ help. Even military bases aren’t safe from angry people with weapons. And to “do nothing” won’t solve those problems. As for cars, which you have pointed out in accidental deaths, that’s the point of my original article. Do we need guns to protect ourselves from people with violent fantasies driving cars?

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