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"GRAY MAN" VS "PERSONAE"

First off, this is NOT a rant. It is not intended to slam any individual or group in the “community”. It is just food for thought about what we do and why we do it.

A recent post on another Facebook page asked if anyone was still using the ubiquitous photographer's vest as cover garb. These vests, originally made popular by Banana Republic FOR photographers are now made by a number of companies, including those that specialize in the manufacture of “tactical” clothing”. I was, I must admit, somewhat surprised by the number of responses from those that do in fact use them, and in particular by the feeling that they only flag to those “in the community.”

Respectfully, I must disagree. While they may not flag to John Q. Public, they DO NOT even slightly resemble anything that the average person would wear in public. This DRAWS ATTENTION, and as a person who carries, this is the LAST thing I want to do.\

Why wear this type of cover? It's not particularly cooler, especially in the 95 degree, 100% humidity we enjoy during NC's summer season. It doesn't make a statement about your fashion sense (except to say you have none), so why use it at all?

Only two reasons that I can think of, (and, I must admit, a friend of mine pointed out one of them on the post that prompted this one.)

The first is comfort/convenience. It IS very easy to shrug on an oversized vest to pretty much cover up a howitzer underneath it. And it allows said howitzer to be carried in any manner desired, OWB, extended paddle holster, shoulder rig, etc. It DOES make physically hiding the weapon easier, and definitely simplifies wardrobe selection (let's see – it's Tuesday, so I know, I'll wear my vest – just like I do every other day of the week…)

The other reason, the one previously mentioned, is that for whatever reason, people wear these vests to DELIBERATELY FLAG THEMSELVES AS CCW USERS. Sort of like a “secret handshake” if you will. Members of a fraternity that only the other members can or will recognize. Sorry. Doesn't work like that.

Yes, you are correct, and members of the “community” will recognize you as a weapon carrier. I would argue that this is not necessarily a GOOD thing, but whatever. The problem is that not everyone is as stupid as those who voted for Obama, even among BAD GUYS.

Stop and think about it. Someone else posted that he sees these vests being worn all the time by “plainclothes” police officers and/or investigators. True. They do. That means that EVERYONE THEY HAVE HAD CONTACT WITH NOW ASSOCIATES THAT CLOTHING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT. Hello! Common sense calling.

This doesn’t even take into account criminals (and they do exist – look a prison surveillance tapes) who train and study the opposition. How they dress, what they do, how they do it. These are hard-core bad guys, and unless your training is excellent, and your game is good, you might very well lose in a confrontation with them. Do I want to be in line at the bank wearing my “SHOOT ME FIRST” vest (yeah—I said it) if they come through the door? Fantasies aside, this would be a bad, bad position to be in. Likely? No. Possible? Sure. Aren’t these possibilities the reason we go armed?

Here’s another scenario. You’re in a public place and something goes down. Betty Big-Mouth, who has a cousin/brother-in-law/neighbor in law enforcement, sees you and screams “YOU’RE A COP – WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING?!?!?!” Now you’re the focus of EVERYONE’S attention, including whoever is responsible for Betty’s outburst.

Don’t think this could happen? I know of an incident in a mall food court where EXACTLY this scenario played out. Luckily, it was just a domestic argument between another couple, and the mall security was able to handle it effectively, but it makes the point, doesn’t it? (BTW, in case you were wondering, I was not the vest wearer targeted. Mine, and I did own several, were retired years previously.)

There might be a time and a place where these vests “fit in”. If you are carrying a camera bag, have an SLR slung on the front of your body, and are somewhere photography is an appropriate activity (nature trails, events, etc.) then fine. These circumstances are going to be pretty rare in everyday life.

There are currently two schools of thought by those in the community that really pay attention to what they are doing, the “Grey Man” and the “Personae” Understand that by wearing that “Tacti-Cool” vest you ARE adopting a Personae (in the psychology of C. G. Jung: the mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality) and that Personae may not be one that is advantageous to your ultimate goal.