This morning at the Coaster Saloon, (744 Ventura Pl San Diego, CA 92109 - (858) 488-4438) I met my buddy Dennis for our usual tri-tip and eggs breakfast. They have some of the best in town. Incidentally, this is the same bar outside of which I had my most intimate dealing with the cops while I was carrying.
That was back in November and I've been to the Coaster probably a dozen times since then, always carrying my Glock. The barmaid, Ginny, knows Dennis and I by name and every time I've been in she's commented on my sidearm and asked how my case against the police is going.
I expected much the same this morning and the day did start out that way. Ginny was there, said hello, and said hello to and petted my service dog. The following is verbatim from my voice recorder.:
Our waitress walked up, "So I gotta ask. What's the gun?"
"Oh, it's a Glock 17C."
"No, not what kind it is, I mean why are you carrying it? Why do you get to?"
"Everybody gets to. It's the second amendment."
"So that's why you do it, because you can?"
"Well, because I can and because we're losing our rights in this country in a rapid fashion and if people don't start exercising them we're going to lose them all and this place will be Fascist and it'll be a fricken disaster. That's basically it. Also in case some jackass came in here and started shooting the place up, we all wouldn't have to all cower and go 'please don't shoot me!'"
Waitress laughs. "Hey, they had that thing, was it here on the boardwalk, I think it was in PB, that the people were walking, skating or biking or something, exercising their second amendment rights and they had some articles on that."
"Yeah, that was me!"
"Oh! That was you in the paper?"
"Oh yeah. Actually we're going to be in the Reader too, on the front page coming up. We're doing a photo shoot this Friday. We already did a day-long interview with a reporter from the Reader. It should be a pretty positive article. What some of us are trying to do is get the police dispatcher, when someone calls in and says 'there's a man with a gun,' the dispatcher will say, 'Well, is he doing anything? And if not, leave him alone!'"
We ordered, Dennis and I talked for 10 minutes or so. Then things got interesting. Two guys came walking up, one short youngish guy and one who looked like a reformed homeless person. The short guy has an attitude very much like you'd find in a bureaucrat or that certain type of cop you love to hate. You know the ones: Pompous and authoritarian, but clueless.
"I wanted to ask you about the gun and the dog. Do you have a license or a badge or something like that?"
"Uh, for what?"
"For both. The firearm and the dog."
"Actually, there is no license required for either."
"For an eye dog? For a seeing eye dog?"
"It's not a seeing eye dog. It's a service dog."
"What kind of service?"
"She does all kinds of things. Whatever I need. She picks things up, holds doors open, all kinds of stuff. "
"Well, what about the firearm?"
"There's no license required for that either."
"For a firearm in public in California I definitely think so."
pompous guy pounces. "In California? Absolutely."
homeless guy chimes in. "You can't carry a firearm in California. "
"Ok. Do you guys really think I'd be wearing a firearm in public if I didn't know the law forwards and backwards?"
homeless guy (HG), through an alcohol-induced time warp: "Well, we know you got rolled up a couple weeks ago."
"Oh, that was months ago. That was like 6 months ago."
HG "We'd appreciate it, I mean, it's just..."
M (who turned out to be the manager, but at this point was still looking like a patron) "I think you can own a gun but I'm darn near positive you can't carry a firearm in public in California, or concealed for that matter, without a license or some kind of..."
"Well, I'll tell you what. If you want, I'll go out to my truck and get a flyer that lays out all the codes and everything and you can read it. If you want."
HG switching tactics. "We just don't like firearms in here."
Are they saying it's their policy, or just that they're afraid? "Ok, well if you're asking me to leave I'll leave, but I've been in here about 10 times just like ths, Ginny knows me really well."
M "With both the dog and the gun?"
"Sometimes the dog, sometimes the gun, sometimes both. "
M, feeling kinda squirmy. "I am not an aficionado of the law but um, I, there can't, I need to definitely look at this, you're not causing any trouble at all but it is making us uncomfortable."
so it's hoplophobia, huh?
"Who are you? Do you work here?"
M, re-inflating ego: "I'm the general manager, yes. "
"Ok. Oh, the owner's seen me in here."
M "And he's the one who asked me to verify...usually we need a card of some kind just for a dog. I mean if that were the case then anybody would be able to come in here and say 'oh, the dog helps me or something." Now, this looks perfectly legit with the jacket on..."
"Ok, just so you know, and I'm not making this up, under federal law, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is no requirement for a vest, there is no requirement for a license, there is no requirement for anything."
M "Usually there is some kind of card that people have, whether it's a license or something like that... "
"Right, sometimes they do."
M "..because the health department doesn't allow us to have dogs in here because we'reserving food unless they're some kind of a life assistance or service animal...we would need some kind of way to verify it or else some health inspector could walk in here and say, 'hey, animal in here, you're fined.' I think they definitely would, as difficult as they are to deal with."
"I understand, but under federal law..."
M "Which I don't know the letter of-"
"I do. Because like I said, I wouldn't be doing this stuff if I didn't know the law forwards and backwards. Under federal law there is no requirement for anything. Technically, she doesn't even need to have a vest on. I could just say, 'well, it's a service animal.'"
M "I won't argue a point that I'm not fluent on, but I am going to have to ask you to leave...between the firearm and the dog, these are points of the law that I'm not familiar with and I'm just looking out for the establishment. "
"Are you for real?"
M "You're not causing any trouble at all, I'll give you that any day."
"OK, so what's the problem?"
M "You don't have a license or any kind of..."
"There is no license required. Have you ever read the Constitution?"
M "In college. And I'm not going to argue that point. I don't believe you're allowed to carry a gun in public without some kind of a license or some kind of a..."
"OK, if I go out and get you proof?"
M "From a police officer's mouth is the only proof that I'll accept at this point."
"Well, why don't we call the police then? And ask them?"
M "I'm going to research this, but for the time being I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
Those words are still hanging in the air and the food arrives.
M "Could you leave the firearm in the car or something?"
"I could. Yeah. Well, sure. This is private property and you have the right to say, 'well, you can't being that in here. And that's totally fine. There's nothing wrong with that."
M "I'm going to look up the law, I'm going to research it, but in the 26 years this place has been open I don't think we've ever let somebody just walk in with a gun without some kind of an official capacity. "
"I understand that. And I've offered four times to get you something that shows what all the laws are. Would you like me to get you a brochure while I'm out there putting this away?"
M "I won't accept it, to be honest. I don't know where it came from."
M "I'm going to go to the police and verify this personally. For the time being, I don't want that in here."
now I'm trying to determine if I should cross this place off my list of places to patronize.
"OK. And once you verify that it is legal, then would you have a problem with me bringing it in?"
M "Not at all. Once I verify it, through my own means..."
"Well why don't we call the police right now? Seriously." I start dialing my phone.
M "I don't want to. I'm not going to argue politics or Constitutional points because I, I really don't believe that's legal in California to just walk around with a gun in public without some kind of official capacity. "
i figure i ought to get paid for educating this guy.
"Want to bet on it?" (put up or shut up, punk!)
M "I'm not going to. You can put it in the car or just leave."
I couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity. "You just said that once you verify with the police it's ok and I offered to verify with the police right now, I'll call them right now, I'll call dispatch."
M "If you want to leave it in the car, that's just fine."
"OK. Sioux, stay right there."
Walk out to car, drop off gun, grab tri-fold, back into the Coaster, humming. Encounter manager on his way out as I'm heading in. He's a lot shorter than I thought, and about as wide as he is tall. That explains some of the trouble- the ol' Napoleon complex.
"What's your name?"
M "Darren. And you are?"
"Sam. Good to meet you. " We shake hands. "So, anyway, this details all the...."
M "Lemme look at it."
Darren reads, and decides to concentrate on the web address on the flyer, specifically the "mywowbb" part. I have no idea why. probably to avoid the evidence that is hitting him in the eye.
M "Do you have any idea what that stands for?"
"That's a web address."
M "But I'm asking you what my-w-o-w-b-b stands for."
"I don't know, something-bulletin board. "
M "See, again this is much more research but it's definitely not official, it doesn't say ca.gov or something. "
and if it did, this clown would accuse me of photoshopping the whole thing.
"Well, let me show you this. these are all penal code sections here..."
M "These could all have been pulled out of somebody's ass for all I know. I don't know the penal code."
....aaaaand the paper is not quite the right shade....
M "As I said, I'm going to look all this up. I mean, if it's perfectly legal I'm gonna start carrying on in public, frankly."
I had to laugh again. It's all becoming clear. Apparently what we have here is a case of penis envy. "Well, why don't you?"
M "I'm going to verify it. I take it for granted that you can't do this without some kind of a license or official capacity. I lived in Nevada for several years, very right-wing state, they don't let you carry in public without some kind of a permit."
"Yeah, they do."
M "I'm not buying that."
"OK, well, hang on to this."
M "As I said, this could have been pulled out of somebody's ass. Some idiot..."
"Why would I do that?"
"I just need to verify. "
"Ok, go verify. And here's my number so you can call me when you find out it's legal, and I'll teach you how to carry in public and stay ahead of the law."
More conversation about their house policy which homeless guy says seems to ban weapons (remember where manager said 5 minutes ago that it would be OK if it's legal?) Then the worst part. Ginny is sitting at at booth. "Ginny. Can you tell Darren how many times you've seen me bring a firearm in here?"
Of course she lied.
"Uhhh...I know you own guns but I've never seen you bring one in here."
I'm floored. "Really?"
I get it. She's afraid of losing her job. Ugh. Sometimes people are so predictable it's sickening.
I can't wait for the call back from Darren. The irony of him becoming an OC'er from this encounter is so juicy and delicious.
In the meantime, maybe give the Coaster a call and let them know you'll be buying your breakfast somewhere where they don't require you to be helpless.
I just had a great idea. Imagine if we got 30 people together for breakfast, called and made a reservation, then showed up with all thirty packing and let them decide whether to let $400 worth of business sashay right out the door.