truckers packing heat

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I’m no wuss when it come to guns. My dad introduced me to target and skeet shooting when I was just a lad so I’ve always been respectful around firearms. My neighbours at Riverrun are all hunters and that’s cool with me…I just don’t go up during deer season and I don’t mind if Charles at the end of the road picks off the odd grouse for the barbeque, or that Ron and his boys across the river go after ducks and geese in the autumn.
But for myself, I don’t play with anything more lethal than an archery set and lawn darts, did I mention lawn darts? Picked up a set at a garage sale in Thornhill, and banned everywhere in North America, but still enjoyed in the free state of Riverrun hard by the Salmon River–we are risk takers!
But when it comes to handguns, like most Canadians, I don’t see the need for them. I mean you’re not gonna take down a grouse with a Glock. The stratus of truckers with handguns gets murky and legally bizarre south of the border. I ask you, what Canadian trucking company would allow their employees to carry sidearms? But this is not unusual in the good ol’ US of A. If you’ve got a licence for a concealed carry, chances are good your employer will allow you to bring your weapon to work. There are probably a few places where you might not be welcome to bring in a gun, i.e., the US Post Office, and Columbine High School.
Gun ownership is a constitutional issue that’s deeply ingrained in the collective American psyche–a serious fixation with some Americans (and some Canadians for that matter). Who can forget the photograph of gun proponents who showed up with holstered automatic weapons at town hall meetings during the last US election. Where was that Arkansas, Arizona? Very strange.
To generalize, many pro-gun people believe owning handgun keeps them safe and free; it’s a heavily ideological stance, to say the least, and the more extreme view holds that one does not only have the right to bear arms, but it is almost one’s duty to carry a firearm (or at least a sharpened set of lawn darts).
Canada has its own microcosm of this story with the governing Harper conservatives spoiling to get the long gun registry abolished, despite the apparent distaste for this strategy among Canuck urbanites, and the fact that law enforcement officials are staunch supporters, and Canada’s police services consult the registry every day. But the governing party now has a champion in the shape of former OPP commissioner Fantino, newly elected in Vaughan, Ont., who can carry the no long gun registry banner high for Harper. (Canadians, with few exceptions, really aren’t big into handguns and it’s really not an issue here. We do, however, have our own horrendous psychotic killer in the figure of Marc Lepine, who put sexism in random mass murder by killing only women engineering students at Ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989 in Montreal ).
The States are schizoid when it comes to handgun legislation: some jurisdictions like New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts have very harsh proscriptions against carrying heaters, while others seemingly format legislation to make pro-gun people feel comfortable, i.e. Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, etc.
Via Internet, I got talking to Lee who runs the Drivers Alike website along with his wife Danielle. They live in rural Kentucky and also have significant following on Facebook. Danielle, 27, takes along her pearl-handled Colt 38 when she takes her two german shepherds for a walk. This is again slightly shocking image to an urban Canadian, but it’s legal in Kentucky (home of Daniel Boone right?), as long as the weapon is holstered. “The cops drive by and wave,” she tells me on Facebook.
Lee, 31 years old, drives flatdeck across the continental US and goes with an “American-made” Highpoint 380. As you can imagine, it must be challenging traveling to stay legal running cross-country through the US packing a revolver, but as a long distance trucker and proud gun owner, Lee’s up on all the regulations in the different states he travels through. He carries a lock box where he can secure the 380 while he’s traveling through states with stricter prohibitions.
All along, I figured Lee must be an owner operator. I had an image of a White Line Fever kind of guy making a stand who won’t let himself or his rig or his family get messed with. ‘Load up the Blue Mule for Houston. My name’s Carrol Joe Hummer and I’ve come to work!’ But he’s not and O/O, he’s a company driver. Lee tells me on the phone, if he gets certified for running Canada, he’ll have to either leave his gun at home or put it in a locker in Buffalo or somewhere like that.
And just to set this straight. Lee and Danielle and their passel of kids strike me as good, moral people. I wrote down the ages of kids somewhere, there are about five of them, but two of them are 3 and 2 years old and they’ve both shot a handgun, probably one of the couple’s 22 pistols. “How else are you going to teach them about gun safety?” Danielle comments. How indeed, but two and three years old firing off rounds? Just a tad early, I tut tut, up here in Canuckistan.
These are the kind of folks you’d like to have turkey dinner with and share a drink or two. Like many of my colleagues in the trucking world, they’re often highly-principled, straight-ahead people who would do anything to help you if you asked. And it’s not that I couldn’t love them, but I’ve always been happy not to have firearms around the house. Isn’t there some statistic that most homicides are between people who know each other, and are often related? So it’s not that I don’t like guns, it’s just that I’m a whole lot more comfortable when they’re not around.
So what percentage of American truckers carry firearms? Back in 2009 I asked Don Kirk of “InterState Sportsman”, who had been featured on Dave Nemo’s satellite radio show. Kirk email back:
“That’s a pretty broad question, but I’m happy to put my two-cents worth in. Because felony and certain misdemeanor convictions are not uncommon, and especially so, among professional drivers, a sizeable percentage of the total number of drivers cannot legal have any sort of firearm in their possession.
Another factor is that some companies prohibit firearms on trucks, and in that same vein, laws in New York and Texas are quite different. The more restrictive a state’s law is, the lower the percentage of drivers with firearms.
Now, among those drivers who are no legally or job curtailed from having a firearm somewhere in their truck, I think is is better than 50%. Among independent drivers who work almost exclusively in states that recognize other state’s “carry permits” I think it may be as high as 80 to 90 percent. Conversely in Massachusetts it probably very low.
Now, when it comes to individual in individual states, the numbers differ. Alabama has liberal concealed weapon laws. I have been told that one in four adult drivers are armed. I suspect it is not so different in Florida, Texas or Arkansas. I hope this is helpful.”
It sure is Don. Wait here while I sharpen my lawn darts.

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Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.

With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude.

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  • In Canada, I would imagine most truckers have something in their cabs for self defense. A crowbar under the seat, or perhaps a flare pistol. Both being legal. Some may also have a handgun under the seat perhaps, in keeping with the statement “It’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six”. ‘You’ may not see a need for handguns (there’s that doctrine of ‘need’ again) but many, many, Canadians are using them for competition and general target shooting. Back in the 60’s you were also able to use them for hunting, until Trudeau, in another Liberal knee jerk reaction to a another problem in Quebec (FLQ), passed laws that said they could only be used on a range. Quite frankly I had always found hunting game with a handgun to be FAR safer than with a rifle. The H.G. was in a holster until needed, and not being hand carried where the user may trip and cause a unintended discharge.
    As for firearms in general, the public is safer as long as their around.. One of the best essays ever written on this subject, is “Why the Gun Is Civilization” by Marko Kloos.
    It makes a LOT of sense, and clearly defines the gun in society. Read it, and try to disagree with it. It pretty difficult, except for perhaps some very hardcore hoplophobes who will not entertain any idea that treads on their phobias.
    This Blog won’t allow you to post right after you preview? That’s strange…

  • Im a trucker in the states and a follower of lee and danielles site as well. Im posting this from my truck which is parralel parked in New York City. Just ask a trucker whst they think of this place. Very dangerous city, and also one that bans packing heat. Im not packing heat but would like to. But i do have improvisable weapons. Imk sure youu wouldnt want to be hit in the head with a fire extinguisher…which is required by federal law and typically mounted next to the drivers seat. Anyway, when you ban guns, you only ban law abiding citizens from protecting themselves. Criminals dont care if they are legal. There are strict controls on buying handguns here, but private sales are basically unregulated. Also, the freeways in nyc have a 50 mph speed limit, but traffic was flowing about 75 or more when i got here tghis morning. My company bans “weapons” but i bet 50% of our drivers have guns. Im only ok with it if they can aim. Also, from what i hear from you canucks, our country is pretty dangerous compared to yours
    Heres a fun one: in texas its legal to shoot people for trespassing. I talked to a texan about this once, and he pointed out that at night it takes over an hour for police to arrive. He lived in the boooonies for sure. I think id pack heat there too.

  • When I was running Canada – US, I carried a pistol with me in the US, left it at a friend’s at the border before coming north, and picked it up on my way south. I live in Canada, but have dual US/Canadian citizenship and have lived in the US for many years….also a US Army veteran. I would not drive interstate without a firearm. Not only is it protection, but also a deterrent. I have spoken with shady people in the past, and have been told that the reason there are not more attacks on truckers and trucks is because of the belief that most drivers are armed. While certain states are more restrictive than others, I have had law enforcement officers recommend I carry even in those states. A lock box in the sleeper or in the side compartment meets carry requirements in, I daresay, all states. Out of reach is, I believe, one standard. When you are in your sleeper and bedded down for a period, it is your home, and as such you may have a weapon there for protection.
    Would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.

  • I,m retired now, however, when I drove (professionally) it was into a lot of very unsavory places, like Hunt’s Point, New York, for instance. For those of you unfamiliar with the goings on in Hunt’s Point, I can describe it in a few words; average of 7 homocides a week !!!
    Now this was in the late 70’s until mid 90’s. I delivered fresh produce, and occasionally fresh or frozen meats. All of these comodities required refrigeration, which on all trailers meant a LOUD, noisy cooling unit was running, almost constantly. This became a beacon for anyone with a gun, to locate and stop my truck, so they could help themselves to the product!
    My boss(es) always reminded us, “the load is insured and replaceable,so DON’T bother to offer any resistance, just let them take what they want”! That’s assuming of course, they don’t just shoot first, and steal, later! Regardless,of the circumstances, when the opportunity to purchase a VERY illegal hand-gun from some dude in a Chevy van, at Stockyards Truckstop, in Chicago, I jumped at the chance!
    It was a 7″ barrel nickel-plated .44 magnum, and along with two speedloaders,and 200 rounds of hollow-point ammunition, it set me back about $650(U.S.) However, the feeling of security it gave me made it well worth the price. For the record, I NEVER fired the gun at anyone, but, I did in fact point the old girl, at some nasty people. I kept the gun in my possession for over 12 years, and when I determined I would make a change in my profession, and “come off the road” as the saying goes, I took the gun (and all ammo) and launched it into a very deep river from a very high bridge. I calculate the odds of anyone finding it,around 10,000,000- to one. Even if they did, I left it in a state where re-assembling it would be almost impossible.
    I could tell you endless stories regarding the number of times it came to my (and my families) assistance, but I would prefer not to bore you (any more than I already have).
    I’ll leave you with this. In the right hands,being used primarily as a method of defence,or deterrant, a gun can be a wonderful tool.Like everything else in this world,though, too many fall into possession of low-lifes, whose only need is another “hit on the pipe”,or the just plain lazy slobs, who use a gun to support their life-style,through a withdrawal of property, money, or just about anything of value,say, like a life!! I often agonize over the prospect of the “what if” situation.What if I was really backed into a corner, and the only remedy at that time would be to, “squeeze the trigger”? I really don’t know. It’s easy to sit here, in my nice warm basement office, and pontificate to the world my answer.Thankfully, it never came to that.
    Until the people of this planet, come to grips with the knowledge that the world would be an incredibly safer place,if we just took ALL the guns and melted them down into one massive statue, depicting a “peace” insignia, and hey!! they could place it at the entrance of the Hunt’s Point market………………………..’nuff said.

  • The gun registry is a waste of money. Sure, you have a registry of all people that have decided to register.
    I’ve yet to hear of a case where the police have solved a murder with the assistance of the registry.
    I was taught the proper handling of weapons when I was 5 years old by my grandfather.
    If you have a corrupt government that decides it is not going to relinquish power after an election; are you going to follow obediantly or wag your finger in admonishment at them.
    One of the first tenets of population ‘control’ is take away the people’s weapons. (Communist doctrine)
    Most crimes by firearms are committed by criminals with unregistered weapons.
    The registry does NOTHING in the prevention of firearm related crime.
    It is another example of Government getting access to our homes.

  • If everyone was packin or had the option, there would be less crime because people would stop and think before committing. The way it is now there’s no deterent,if the cops do catch them ( very highly unlikely) they only get a slap on the wrist or community service, oh booho such is the terrible life of a criminal. Clint said it best ” Go ahead punk make my day”.