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.