Elizabeth Stuart, "Packing heat, no apologies; 'We are normal people who just happen to carry guns', Deseret Morning News, Oct. 22, 2007, available at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1...220748,00.html.
Packing heat, no apologies
'We are normal people who just happen to carry guns'
By Elizabeth Stuart
Deseret Morning News
Published: October 22, 2007
PROVO — For Clachelle Jensen, preparing to leave the house with her two children goes something like this: Baby wipes? Check. Extra diapers? Check. Glock pistol? Check.
"I just feel safer when I have my gun on my hip," said Jensen, 28, who lives in Santaquin. "There's so many lunatics and crazies out there, you never know when something's going to happen."
The petite brunette's not shy about showing off her weapon, either. The Glock has a semipermanent home on her belt.
Jensen packed her pistol to the Red Robin in Provo Saturday, where she met up with about a dozen other unabashedly armed Utahns.
They looked imposing, walking in together, loaded pistols at their sides. The somber spell was broken though, when Jensen's baby started fussing and someone's cell phone went off.
"We're not gangsters," said Brian Nelson, 27, a soft-spoken man from Layton. "We are normal people. We just happen to carry guns."
A couple of the men work in gun-related businesses; the rest ranged in occupation from computer software engineer to political lobbyist. The youngest was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, the eldest had nearly-grown children. The group first met in an online chat room, OpenCarry.org, where they discuss their decision not to conceal their weapons.
"It's a whole lifestyle change," Nelson said.
He said he feels responsible for the safety of those around him when he has a gun on his hip. He always assesses the situation and looks for the exits when he walks into a room.
"You've got to envision what could go wrong because if you make the wrong decision with a gun in your hand, you'll be spending time in jail — and rightfully so," he said.
OpenCarry.org touts the slogan: "A right unexercised is a right lost." Saturday's group of pistol packers echoed the sentiment. A bonus to keeping the gun in the open, said Pether Jensen, a self-proclaimed cowboy from West Valley City, is the opportunity it presents to educate people about Utah's gun laws. No permit is required to openly carry a gun in Utah.
"I have the right to protect my family," he said. "A lot of people don't know they have that right."
Utah gun laws are some of the most relaxed in the country, said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. His elbow rubbed against the handle of his pistol as he munched on his hamburger. Utah also boasts one of the lowest rates of crimes committed using lawfully-obtained firearms, he said. "We aren't apologizing for a felon trying to buy a gun," he said. "We obey the law and expect everyone else to also."
The only things Clachelle Jensen has ever taken out with her pistol are targets and broken bottles. None of the diners had ever taken aim at a human being.
"I hope the day never comes when I have to use my weapon," said Kevin Jensen, Clachelle's husband. "I just like to have it there in case of emergency."
All agreed that keeping the gun out in the open encourages criminals to stay at bay.
"An armed society is a polite society," they said. Kevin Jensen said he wanted his wife to keep her gun on her belt because she didn't always have hold of the purse she kept it in. He didn't want her to end up "arming a purse-snatcher," he said.
He prefers to wear his Glock strapped to his thigh. He shrugged when someone asked if he was a member of the FBI.
"If I wear it on my waist, I can't tuck my shirt in," he said, while bouncing his 3-month-old on his hip.