Concealed Carry|General

MWAG—Man With a Gun

Woman openly carrying a handgun

For those not up to speed, MWAG means Man with a Gun. I am a man with a gun, and I have been on the receiving end of a few police MWAG calls. When I lived in Florida, it happened twice. Both times, the responding officers were polite, very professional, and a little embarrassed to speak with me about it.

Woman openly carrying a handgun
Not mowing the lawn, but not threatening in anyway

For those who do not know. Florida is not an open carry state, with a few exceptions. One such exception is when you are on your own property. One call happened because I was openly carrying while push mowing the lawn. A person driving by was so unnerved, they called the police.

The officers and I had a pleasant conversation for about 30 minutes, mostly about guns. It made kind of a nice break from mowing. The other call was similar, and one of the officers knew me by reputation from the prior encounter.  He ended up meeting a group of us at the local range the next day, and a good time was had by all.

Sale ends July 28, 2019

Sale ends July 28, 2019

In Tennessee, an open carry state, I have also been the subject of an MWAG call on two occasions. The first one happened as a result of openly carrying while pumping gas. Someone called me in, and the police arrived as I was driving away. They followed and pulled me over.

One officer was very friendly and polite; the other was new and quite agitated. After about 5 minutes, everything was great, and I ended up giving them a recipe for candied bacon. They gave me a warning on my expired tag. We all left happy, and the veteran policeman used it as a training example for his freshly minted partner.

Woman openly carrying a handgun
Only scary to a hoplophobe… and bad actors

The second call went quite a bit differently. I will summarize the incident by saying that a local city cop fed into the fear of an assistant bank branch manager and almost chose to draw on me for the sin of openly carrying in a bank. It ended well, but it almost didn’t.

I bring this up to point out how important image is. In the first three incidents, the officers had a positive image of gun permit holders and entered the situation cautiously but with room for the assumption that I was a permit holder. After some initial polite questioning, everyone relaxed and we had pleasant conversations before peaceably going our separate ways.

Ironically, in the last incident, I was dressed the best. From that perspective, my image was great. My attire was khaki pants, a black button-down dress shirt, and freshly-polished combat boots. I had a spare mag on my left side and a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm in a Safariland level 3 retention holster on the right. That mattered not at all to the officer I encountered. He seemed to have a strong opinion against carry holders, and the fear and agitation of the bank employee fed into that preconceived idea. His brain did the math and came up with a probable bank robbery or similar.

Woman openly carrying a handgun
Prepared and ready…

When the officer arrived, I raised my left hand and waved him over. He slowly realized I was the MWAG and started to draw on me. His gun never actually got anywhere near clearing his holster, I think partly because I was waving him over and sitting calmly in a chair. It took him a while to overcome that preconceived image and deal with the reality in front of him. To his credit, he finally did.

Image is important. Whenever I openly carry, I present at least a decent image. That does not mean I am always clean shaven and wearing a suit. It does mean I am dressed well for what I am doing and leave any chip on my shoulder at home. My interactions with people are overtly courteous and polite. I am sure to open doors, thank people for similar courtesies, and actively work to project a picture of genteel civility.

On more than one occasion this has helped in the MWAG interaction. An example would be the second Florida interaction. My reputation preceded me. In the first Tennessee interaction, being in a button-down dress shirt and providing my driver’s license and carry permit as the officer reached my car window helped. My polite demeanor didn’t hurt either. It helped that the officers brought similar attitudes to those encounters as well.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We can choose to be our own best friends. Give it a try.

Are you a MWAG or WWAG? Do you favor or oppose open carry? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (97)

  1. Here is an open carry scenario which I think presents a reason not to do so. You are walking along the street in open carry mode. Approaching is a man with two children about 5-7 years old. The man has no opinions about guns or people who carry them, just couldn’t care less. This issue is simply not on his radar. As soon as you pass each other his little girl looks up at him and asks “Daddy, is that man going to shoot me? Well you guessed it. Now he the issue has popped up on his radar, and now he has an opinion, as uninformed as it may be. He was well dressed, and probably has some money which he will now donate to a politician who doesn’t like you either. And he votes, and will now vote for anybody who is anti-gun. You have made at least one, and possibly more enemies. And for what? To exercise your tiny ego by showing off your gun? Or to prove to nobody who cares that you have the right to open carry? What do you think you were going to gain or prove? And to top it off you have also created an enemy for me, and I wasn’t even involved.

  2. Carry while mowing lawn? What the heck,
    afraid of a grasshopper gettin the best of you?
    Relax your insecurities and mow like a man!

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