Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stealth Living

The nail that sticks up will be hammered down...
— Japanese proverb

I seem to have touched off a minor firestorm by mentioning the piece in Gabe Suarez' newsletter a couple of days ago. The piece on stealth living caught my attention because when I was traveling extensively in the Third World, I considered stealth living a fundamental survival skill. It wasn't that I slavish imitated the dress and mores of wherever I was...rather I focused on being invisible. I spent time observing people and making note of what stood out to me. Then I consciously tried to eliminate those "flags."

When I'm out of the country, I still aim for that goal. When I was in Milan on business, for example, I wore conservative Italian business wear, mid-line, nothing flashy. I stepped into a conference room and all the men were dressed pretty close to how I was...perfect.

I don't apply the same rigorous standards here at home, although when I travel to someplace I haven't been, my goal is to be nondescript. If I've been there, I generally know how the "natives" dress and pack accordingly. The first time I took my Sweetie to NYC, where I used to live, she admonished me, "You could have given me a heads-up that the only acceptable color here is black." I, in black slacks and a leather jacket like every other New Yorker, apologized profusely.

I've talked and written about how my goal in concealed carry is to have nothing on me that stands out. I don't buy into everything Suarez said, but it made me think. My car doesn't have stickers on it by design — I carry guns — (although I may have to put a Fred sticker on it just to fly the flag). I do occasionally wear t-shirts with gun logos, but so does the woman at the local ironism is a wonderful thing!

I realize I'm in sort of a differet a "professional communicator," I'm not looking for my voice. Reminds me of a friend of mine who was a big proponent of dance, an enthsiasm that I as a middle-aged white guy with two left feet, did not share. "But don't you want to express yourself?" she blurted one day. I replied that I was paid to express myself, thus rendering dance to an affectation. I'm a proud member of SASS, USPSA, IDPA, the NRA and several other organizations, but I usually put the stickers on my computer instead of my car.

This goes against my other inclination to highly visible as a gun owner and shooter. I do interviews and give talks on gun rights and the shooting sports, occasionally teach and work with new people at the range, but when it comes to my home and family, less visible is better...much better!


Anonymous said...

Since I've never traveled outside the good-ol-USA (well, Victoria, BC and Tijuana), my comments in the first thread were for how I live "at home". For work and travel I would agree that "keeping a low profile" makes more sence.
But, in my personal life I won't let the anti-gun crowd dictate my dress or how I show my pride in the NRA and shooting sports. To me, that would be letting the anti's win without a fight.

Cowboy Blob said...

Heh, at the 2000 Gunsite Invitational Match, I was the only one wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt over my carry gear and got ribbed for it by an old gent that just *might* have been Col. Cooper. I might have looked out of place, but at least I didn't look like I was carrying. Not so with many of the Tactical Tommies in attendance.

Not Available said...

Speaking of Tactical Tommies ...

Do they wear those clothes on the street or just when they go shooting or attend a class?

I've not noticed many guys wearing "tactical" clothing. Lots of guys wearing pants with cargo pockets...

Anonymous said...

BDU's are also known in certain circles as "geek pants." Plenty of pockets for all your personal electronics.

Michael Bane said...

Hey Blob;

They tell the story at GUNSITE that when I first walked out on the range in shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and designer sneakers, the instructors were momentarily stunned..."did he not get the memo?"

My favorite post-class comment from one of the instructors — who shall remain nameless but may be Bill Murphy — was something to the effect that before you make fun of Mr. Bane's clothing, gun and earring, you might notice that his targets all have holes in them...


Anonymous said...

Well, I got my Life Member NRA license plate, a Ruger sticker, a Bushmaster sticker, and a Smith and Wesson sticker on the ole truck. But, I live in good old KY, where such things are socially acceptable, and everybody knows better than to mess with a man's truck or his guns!

Anonymous said...

If I had to live in a place where others views decided my choice of clothes or what was stuck on my truck, I'd move.
Wait! I did that over 20 years ago when I vacated the Peoples Rebublic of Kalifornia ~ ; - )

Overload in Colorado said...

I have a sign in my front yard saying I have an alarm system. My neighbors do not. I hope I stick out to the wrong people. Is this non stealth living being an advantage?

Anonymous said...

I use to have all the NRA and Glock stickers on my car. They have been taken off for awhile now. Why advertise to badguys,police, or anybody else for that matter. I try not to dress too "tactical" but sometimes it gets the best of me. Sorry, I like my clothing with pockets,lots of pockets, they help me keep organized.

Anonymous said...


Let them make fun of Gabe if they wish but he makes a great point. Let us say a massive grid failure befalls the eastern seabord and it is found to be due to massive sabotage.

Everyone will be tense, and that includes the cops. If there is violence, and probably even if there isn't, most of the people that reads this blog will be armed, and chances are we will encounter a law enforcement officer.

If I am carrying two concealed handguns, I don't want to do one thing that will make me stand out.

Even though my CCW was just renewed, who is to say what a nervous LEO looking for terrorists might be apt to do?

I dont want to end up sitting in a makeshift jail in a gymnasium somewhere eating baloney sandwiches and sleeping on a mat for two weeks because some cop got scared of my pistol.

If I go through a crowd and ten people see me, I am doing well if all ten of them would give different descriptions of me.

That means not standing out.It means dressing like a conservative 43-year old dude from this neighborhood would dress.

Anonymous said...

I might also add that the only logo wear I have on my body is a WVU Mountaineers football jacket.

On my truck, just the same, plus my Zombie sticker(we make dead things deader)

Cowboy Blob said...

I guess I didn't get the memo either


Doug said...

My other nerdly pursuits provide me with a surfeit of entertaining clothing (wearing a Superman shirt right now), stickers (Manticore Naval Academy stickers) and hats (I had a Manticore Naval hat once, but right now, its an Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park baseball cap). If I have something to get the hoplophobes uptight, it's usually a nice large folding knife in a pocket, or appropriate magazine reading material carried with me, as Illinois is not a bastion of freedom, despite my voting efforts.

Anonymous said...

I just listened to the podcast where you mentioned stealth living. I can't believe how timely it was given the meltdown in Omaha. Situational awareness might have saved a few lives - as well as being able to carry - in that mall.

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