It’s been a long time since I’ve transported any firearms around town. The recent passing of a friend changed that. I cleared a number of weapons from her house at the request of those packing the house up. It was late when I left the house to head to Wal-Mart to buy a locking case for them while I temporarily stored them. As I saw a stop light go yellow, I sped up a bit to get through and barely made it. It was late at night in a dark area. My first thought was if I get pulled over, put both hands out the window and notify the officer that I have multiple unloaded firearms (and one sword) in the vehicle. And then I thought about my white privilege.
I probably wouldn’t need to take those steps except for my own piece of mind. As a veteran, gun owner, former competitive shooter, and former public safety staff, I knew the laws. I wasn’t breaking any laws. I am legally allowed to possess firearms and transport them. But yet, I knew the officer would see the weapons laying in the back when they walked up. An officer who thought they were doing a routine traffic stop and just wants to make sure they get home to their family (like me). There was a brief moment of concern in me as I thought of the culture of fear that has crept into many of our law enforcement agencies. What sort of officer would I get? Would my whiteness and legality be enough to protect me? Would the officer assume no ill intention? Would it be different if I was a person of color? Should it be different based on the color of my skin?
I have a family to think about. I decided I probably shouldn’t risk it. I would just put my hands out and notify the officer as soon as it happened. And if they decided to have me lay on the ground or handcuff me for their safety, I’m okay with that. Although it only would perpetuate my curiosity about the culture of fear. If they didn’t ask me to do that, I would forever be left wondering if it was because I was a middle-age white guy driving a mini-van. Maybe the veteran license plate would help. Maybe not. Lots of stereotypes there too.
In the end, I didn’t get pulled over. But instead the yellow light went on in my mind that hasn’t yet gone off.