Why I Profile People: Prospective from a Wary Gun Owner

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So, I’ve been getting some heavy flak recently for an article I wrote on the motorcycle gang fight in Waco, Texas. People are pissed off because I essentially told them to stay away from nefarious organizations, aka outlaw biker gangs.

Now, I get where they are coming from to some extent. Not all bikers* are bad people — or outlaws for that matter. Truth be told, the majority of bikers are law-abiding citizens who probably exercise their right to keep and bear arms. In most cases, they’re not going to bother you or harm you or cause trouble in anyway.

I understand that. But my overall point — one that I think still holds true — is that, well, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them…”

Let’s not kid ourselves about biker culture. It’s not by accident that bikers have a reputation as ruffians, tough guys and badasses. For better or worse, they’ve earned that reputation. What’s more is that bikers don’t publicly deflect or dismiss this machismo stereotype, rather, if anything, they widely embrace and perpetuate it.

Between the gnarly facial hair, the colorful and prominently-placed tattoos, the deliberately loud motorcycles, the feuds with rival gangs, and the leather vests with club names like, “Hells Angels,” “Cossacks” and “Bandidos,” they’re not exactly saying we’re a soft, wholesome family organization with traditional values.

So, what are they saying? Well, many things, but as it relates to me as a gun owner they’re basically saying, “Don’t mess with us, we’re trouble.” To quote an old Bandidos slogan, “God forgives. Bandidos don’t” or a more recent one, “We’re the people your parents warned you about.”

Okay, I got the message — loud and clear. Through their actions (from NY Times, “two members of the Bandidos, including the president of the Abilene chapter, were indicted on charges of stabbing two men, in what the police said was a conflict with the Cossacks,”) and their words, I got it. I believe them. And I’m not interested in finding out if they’re sending mixed signals or if they’re having a crisis of identity and really aren’t who they’re projecting to be.

Now, I won’t judge them all for the actions of a few, but I will certainly steer clear of them, specifically when they congregate in large groups like they did in Waco. Sorry if some folks are offended by that but that’s just they way I see it. By the same token, you won’t see me hanging out at a street corner in the inner city or at a dubious Italian restaurant known for its colorful patrons.

As a gun owner, someone who has the capacity to take someone else’s life, I’m not going to willingly or needlessly put myself in a situation or setting where there is an increased probability of it turning ugly. Call it situational awareness if you like or plain old common sense, but it is they way I operate. And I won’t apologize for that.

On a related note, I’m sure some of you will argue, “Well, those cops set up those bikers. The cops knew they were there and they just waited until something went wrong so they could go over there and shoot them.” Yeah, that might be true. But it also misses the larger point which is that trouble follows motorcycle gangs. From a pure survivability standpoint, who cares who starts the trouble, whether it was justified or who finishes it (those are issues for the judicial system), I just don’t want to be around when it goes down because a cop’s bullet is every bit as deadly as a biker’s.

*Bikers – for the sake of clarity, when I use the term “biker” in this article, I’m not referring to anyone who owns a motorcycle but rather strictly people who belong to a club or affiliate biker organization which has had a history of run-ins with the law.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Calico Jack September 30, 2015, 1:33 pm

    This is not only an ignorant, but ill informed article. Regardless of whether or not it is just opinion. There is a stark lack of information in this that should be pointed out. Like the fact that the only shots fired in Waco were by Law Enforcement (Proven Fact), and that the majority of those arrested were members of christian and veteran clubs with nearly zero history of run in’s with the law.

    Things like this only serve to perpetuate the mistaken stereotypes and negative opinion of bikers in general. And while this may distinguish clubs by name or some other distinction in your mind, as a general rule, people don’t distinguish between clubs. They see a patch and the assume it is a bad thing.

    As a member of a motorcycle club who has been targeted just because of that fact, I can tell you these things from experience. There is no consideration that I have no criminal record, I am a firearms instructor, I teach free courses for women and children, I coach Special Olympics and the athletes call me Uncle Bill, I personally and at my own expense do several major charity fundraisers a year, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    You have successfully contributed to pigeon holing us all as “Bad Guys” when in reality, you only have partial information, opinion, and no real personal experience. Shame on you!!!

  • jimspd9 June 2, 2015, 3:57 pm

    Don’t think profiling doesn’t work both ways!! If you walk around looking like prey, you will be preyed upon!
    You don’t go down to the hood and strike up a conversations with some guy who stands on the corner 15 hrs a day and has baggies hidden in a bush. That bulge in his waistband ain’t his manhood. If you go looking for S&!; , you’ll probably get it.
    Luckily when I was 17, I was 6’2″/200 lbs. that saved me some trouble to be sure, but now at age 68 I’ve carried a weapon since age 17 as a military member & LEO/retired.

    Put your concealed carry on and be aware of what is going on around you. Who is around you, or on an intersecting path with you. Who is following you in or out of stores, gas stations, supermkt.
    See who is more than a casual observer in checkout line.
    Women go out with nice hand bags, nice clothes, nice cars, and don’t realize the are targets at age 16 to 60+.
    Learn to go back into the store if you are the least bit suspicious of any circumstance and wait it out.
    Drive to the police station if you are being followed in a vehicle and blow the horn until help arrives.

    Profiling is not only smart but necessary in this world of people who steal and kill because they are to dammed lazy to work or because you don’t go to the same church they do.
    JimSpd9

  • Don June 2, 2015, 2:32 pm

    I don’t get why you caught flak for your last article. For one thing, you did qualify “organizations” with “nefarious” and you qualified “biker gangs” with “outlaw.” Are there really gun owners who have overly sensitive thin skins? I mean, if they want to be stupid about it and ignore the message you were trying to make and take their family near such groups, heaven forbid anything should happen.

  • John Taylor June 1, 2015, 4:04 pm

    Read “the Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker. Situational Awareness, six-senses, commons sense, et all. If you want me to think yr a “Badass Duck, by walkin like a Badass Duck, I’ m not gona try to be your friend while carrying! It’s that simple.

  • dancinbill June 1, 2015, 3:47 pm

    profiling is as natural as breathing. we all do it to some degree.
    it’s a survival skill inbred into modern man from days when we were prey.

  • Damon June 1, 2015, 3:15 pm

    If you carry a firearm as part of your EDC, you MUST profile. You cannot allow yourself to partake of the sheepish complacency so common amongst the majority of American citizens. To do so is to invite disaster.

  • Steiner June 1, 2015, 2:33 pm

    Show someone who says they don’t profile you and I’ll show the kind f person conmen prey on.

  • Phil June 1, 2015, 10:42 am

    Everyone should profile and judge in this way. It’s called street smarts, wisdom, survival instincts, or whatever catchy phrase you like to use. If you don’t, you lack these types of skills. Pretty simple.

    • Rick June 1, 2015, 11:41 am

      Exactly, Phil!

  • Tom Horn June 1, 2015, 10:30 am

    We like to say that we are not prejudice, but luckily we all are. Pre-judging is a defense mechanism that is hardwired into our brains through genetics. It come from lessons our ancestors learned in their environments. They learned through their experience, that lion ahead is likely to eat me if I don’t take evasive or defensive actions, because I saw cousin Lester get eaten buy one last week.

    Those defensive mechanisms became hard-wired into our genetics, so that now when we walk down the street and see three burly guys wearing leather vests with insignias displayed, our brains are alerted to take defensive or evasive action. They could be the color guard for a charitable organization, or could be nefarious henchmen of hell, but luckily our brains send an alarm to tell us we need to sort this thing out quickly.

  • Chris Mallory June 1, 2015, 9:49 am

    I apply the same reasoning to cops. Sure, an individual cop may be “nice”. But he wears the colors of a large street gang. Better to avoid all contact with them and to take steps to defend yourself when they are near.

  • joe bob June 1, 2015, 9:27 am

    I think some of you “bikers” are hyper-sensitive. I don’t think anyone reads an article such as the author’s and concludes we should all run away whenever someone rides up on a motorcycle.

    I don’t normally bat an eye when a bunch of guys ride up on Harleys. I’d certainly have done exactly what the author recommended had I seen this group show up.

  • Greg June 1, 2015, 7:21 am

    As Jesse Jackson said, he was walking in a large city and heard two guys coming up behind him…he looked back and was happy and relieved to see it was 2 white guys. No racism, profiling who was apt to rob/murder him. Like Jesse, I’m more worried about black thugs and guys on motorcycles no matter what the dress.

    I used to ride a motorcycle…too many accidents (yes, all caused by female drivers…profiling?) and gave it up. I once rode my 850 Norton up to Michigan from Virginia…of course, it rained once I hit Pennsylvania…I would slow down to get under a bridge…saw what was under the bridge (some nasty looking bikers) and went to the next bridge miles down the road…yep’, another group I didn’t want to be around. Criminal groups are not your friends, those who wish to dress to mimic criminal groups are also not your friends no matter how warm and fuzzy they claim to be.

  • HR June 1, 2015, 6:37 am

    I’m a die hard motorcycle nut and if there was hostility in your previous article, as you state others saw, I guess missed it.
    Maybe some are getting their panties in
    a bunch because you didn’t jump on the PC band wagon and give a 25 word definition as to what your definition of the difference between those who ride and obey the law and those who ride and don’t obey the law.
    I think most people got your drift but obviously others didn’t.

  • Martin B May 27, 2015, 6:40 pm

    It’s actually about 10% of Americans who ride motorcycles, and only 1% of them are criminals. Yes, bike gangs are criminal organizations for which RICO laws are appropriately but insufficiently enforced. They give everybody riding a motorcycle a bad name, though as said, 99% of bike riders are everyday people with jobs and families. As motorcycle criminals have declared war on America through their conduct, and leave numerous victims in their wake, I say that Police Officers have every right to harass, search and arrest these scum wherever they find them. They have no rights, as they do not follow US law. They should have ther citizenship removed and be deported to Mexico to enjoy the hospitality of their cartel overlords. I do not think they would last long.

  • Will Drider May 27, 2015, 12:31 pm

    Remember the 1963 ad “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”? Lol. I agree with your content but your application of “Biker” is a poor choice. Correct terminology is 1%er: as in 99% of bikers are law abiding citizens and 1% primarily engage in criminal activity. Outlaw motorcycle gangs/clubs and their feeder clubs are actually far smaller in number then 1% of the riding motorcycling population. Tattoos on bikers don’t make them criminals just as the ladybug ankle tattoo doesn’t make a person a whore. If you have no experience, do some research on gang and prison tattoos so you can judge the book by the cover.
    The major part of our security is evaluating our surroundings and the people there. To cast all bikers together, is the same as the gun grabbers labeling all gun owners as danderous after a mass murder where firearms were used.

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