Friday, 9 October 2009

Looking for trouble?

In the latest issue of American Iron Magazine, columnist Genevieve Schmitt has a piece entitled Packing Protection in which she talks about carrying a weapon of some sort while riding. Recently, a fellow blogger described a day trip for which his riding gear included two handguns and a knife. And as anyone who’s been to Sturgis can attest sheath knives, the longer (i.e. more bad-assed) the better, are a common fashion accessory.
Has riding really become a blood sport?
Over many, many thousands of miles I have mingled freely with bikers of all sorts, and with strangers in campgrounds, some of whom were heavily armed. I have ridden most Canadian provinces and many of the more northern states. I have ridden major cities and rural byways. I have ridden alone and with others. And through all of that I have never felt threatened or otherwise unsafe while on the road (aside from traffic hazards) or even while camping in some pretty remote locations.
Now I will state that I don’t go looking for trouble – never have and never will – so that has a lot to do with it. But I also firmly believe that carrying a weapon – especially one that’s  exposed – can just as easily invite trouble as defuse it. It seems to me that wearing a 10-inch Bowie knife on your belt is an open invitation to the guy with a 12-inch model to prove how those extra 2 inches make him tougher than you. No thanks. And let’s be honest, carrying a knife does not make you a knife-fighter any more than wearing a black belt makes you a karate expert.
Perhaps I’m just a simple, naive Canadian, but if I had to arm myself to the teeth to enjoy my sport, I’d take up fishing.


  1. I always wear my multi-tool which has two knives in it. Does that count as wearing protection? Most likely not. I have never had the urge to be armed while riding.

    I wish more people could ride their motorcycle without feeling like they had to be "Bad to the Bone" while doing so. I find myself laughing at 'Image' bikers.

  2. Dear Sir:

    It is a well-known fact that I an "Brand X" lifestyle rider, who does not exactly conform to Harley or cruiser parameters. If I were riding in a country where the dangers of civil strife exceeded the aggravation and inconvenience of arrest or civil suit, I might consider riding with a pistol.

    But it has been my experience that in most cases it is easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble. Naturally there is always the exception that proves the rule.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said:

    Pascifism Kicks Ass!

    I, myself have never owned a handgun, never felt it necessary. I don't go looking for trouble either.

  4. Danny - forgot my Swiss army knife. I guess that makes me armed - and moderately dangerous.

    Jack - Exactly.

    cpa3485 - Good sticker. It's not the answer in all cases, but it sure could be used more than it is. (btw, that's quite a handle - cpa3485 - the 34th Certified Public Accountant that graduated from the class of '85?)

  5. hmmm. ive not read the article yet. ive got to admit, im curious about it now...

  6. I ride a lot in many different areas. Mostly solo and with the rare exception, in over 400,000 miles and 38 years, I have never had any trouble.

    There was the one time in Louisiana that a couple of coon asses tried to run me off the road at 5:30 in the morning, but I attribute that to the beer they started drinking on Saturday. They could drive fast, but not very straight. If I had a gun on me at that time I might be posting this from Angola. It was easier to outrun them to the next exit because I needed gas anyway.

  7. Been riding my own since 1971. Have never needed or wanted to "carry" anything other than the tools I need to keep my bike on the road. That does include a small knife. Nothing that I can get at in a hurry that's for sure.

    I've owned a small .22 semi auto pistol...and a Sat. night special .38. Neither have seen ANY time on my bike.

    I travel thousands of miles a year. I've found myself in places like Watts in CA. and in Liberty City in Miami...and while I was not happy about being there, I didn't need a gun either.

  8. A thought-provoking post Canajun. I think much of the "packing" is done for posing, which I think is ludicrous and only perpetuates the bad image that the public has on certain riders. Riding the roads is dangerous enough; if I have to pack in fear of my fellow riders, I am hanging with the wrong crowd.

  9. Close but no cigar! LOL.
    It actually is my certificate number. They are issued sequentially here and they currently are over 11,000 or so. It makes me feel old.
    But don't tell anybody. Don't want people to know how old I may be.

  10. Thanks to all who posted comments on this post. It's encouraging to know that not every other rider out there is loaded for bear, just waiting for an excuse - real or imagined - to take offence and aerate my body. Your comments also reinforce my experience which has been that overall most anyone you'll meet on a bike is a potential friend, and not a threat.
    Ride safe everyone.

  11. Only guns I carry are the biceps on my arms. They ain't all that big either. LOL!

  12. Mr. M.
    Lots of arguments can be settled with a good arm-wrestle!

  13. I felt compelled to comment here, I ride in South Africa which has been rated very high on the list of "most dangerous countries in the world" - very high in all sorts of horrible statistics but my gun stays in the safe at home, the last time I carried a gun on a trip was 1984, it hasn't been necessary but believe me if I thought it was I would not hesitate to take it along.

  14. Rider - Certainly it boils down to the real threat level and there are some places on this planet I wouldn't ride at all, and if I did have to for some reason, I would do so armed. But over here in North America we're not dealing with an armed insurgency, or civil war, or anything at all like that so this "need" to be armed is, in my opinion, excessive and as some commenters have said more a matter of image than anything.
    And I guess the fact that you don't feel the need to be armed when riding in SA just goes to support the point.
    Anyway, thanks for the comment, it's always good to get additional perspectives.
    Ride safe - we expect to see you in Sturgis!

  15. I have been riding for several years, and I have been licensed to carry a concealed handgun for longer than that. I am almost always armed in public whether on the VTX or in the car, or in the store... I feel it's my right and responsibility to do so, and I follow the law when I do. I have never had a reason to use my handgun, and I pray I never do. I don't believe that anyone but my family and a few very close friends with similar views have ever been aware that I have a weapon along. I agree with the comments that those that choose to carry an exposed gun, or who use a weapon of any kind as an extension of their ego are really bad for society in general, and for those who carry responsibly.

    Ride safe, and be safe.

  16. Anon - thanks for the comment.

    Personally I don't understand the need to be armed at all times, and I feel extremely uncomfortable when around someone who is unless they are in law enforcement or the military. I guess you could say I understand the "right" part of it but not the "responsibibility".

    But don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to get into a debate over this - that's been done to death and nothing I have to say would change anyone's mind either way - but just to state my point of view.


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