On Guns and Waffle Houses

It’s a Schrödinger’s Cat dilemma. Instead of a cat, we have a legally armed citizen. Instead of a box, we have a Waffle House. All armed people are simultaneously law-abiding and crazy until they pull out their gun and we see which one they are. Call it Schrödinger’s Gun.

10 October 2015: A (presumably legally) armed customer shoots a burglar trying to rob a Waffle House.

27 November 2015: A (presumably legally) armed customer shoots a waitress in the head because she asked him to put out his cigarette.

Both stories happened in in America, both in gun-friendly states, nearly within a month of each other. Both shooting victims died shortly after.

The question in my mind, if I am in a Waffle House and I see a gun: “Which one of these guys is it?” So far, there is no way for the non-gun carrying citizen to tell which armed citizens are whack-o nut jobs and which are law-abiding until after the bullets are flying.


  1. Funny. I thought you were blogging about this Waffle House shooting that took place back in May: http://concealednation.org/2015/05/video-released-of-deadly-self-defense-shooting-in-ft-myers-waffle-house/ Trigger warning: video of a black guy shooting a skinhead.

    I believe that Schrödinger’s Gun is why 2A activists will frequently strut around town with their AR-15s in the open: to normalize people’s perception that people who carry are largely harmless and that murders of this sort are very rare in comparison. These activists draw criticism because they frighten many people.

    Question for you: if you saw one or two guns every time you went to a Waffle House do you think it would lead you to believe that such commonplace practices are largely harmless?

    Recall that Schrödinger’s cat was in the unfortunate situation of being in a compartment with a murder device that would kill it fifty percent of the time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger's_cat#The_thought_experiment We always forget that part of the thought experiment. Perhaps we’re desensitized to it.

    1. Let’s imagine that seeing guns all the time made us desensitised to them. Would that be a good thing? I mean if people walk around with machetes, swords, guns, etc. all over the place, shouldn’t we be frightened? Why should we be glad to be desensitised? I would much rather live in a world where seeing a gun is a solid indicator of danger, than to live in a world where seeing a gun is too ambiguous an indicator to factor into my risk calculation. I like the idea that gun equals run.

      I was with my mother in a grocery store about a year ago and there’s a guy doing his shopping in the grocery store with a holstered, presumably loaded, gun. Let me tell you, as an unarmed citizen, I felt profoundly uncomfortable. Do I go up and say “sir, your gun makes me uncomfortable.” Of course I don’t. I don’t know if he’ll take that as some kind of challenge. I don’t know if he’s sick and tired of being harrassed about carrying a firearm and I’m gonna be the last straw on his bad day. What I do know is that he’s massively more armed than me. I know that if I upset him sufficiently, he can end me. The reverse is in no way true for him. I’m a fat IT geek. The only thing I threaten is an all-you-can-eat buffet. He and I are not on equal footing in any conversation. How is a firearm not an implicit threat to everyone around it? And would it be good to be desensitised to and comfortable with this threat?

      The important part of the cat experiment is the existing in two contradictory states at the same time. No one was ever contemplating truly killing a cat, so there’s no actual death to be desensitised about.

  2. > How is a firearm not an implicit threat to everyone around it?

    It is; actually, to get on equal footing, you need to buy your own gun, which will only make things worse for everybody (except for gun manufacturers, of course). That being said, I generally have much less problems with people OWNING guns (opposed to the same people CARRYING them in public).

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