Heavy Artillery and the Wisdom of Strangers

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Ferriday, Louisiana—Ever since we jettisoned our trebuchet somewhere outside Murfreesboro, we’ve been traveling a little light in the way of high-powered weaponry. If pressed, our first line of defense would probably be a bag of fried pig skins (impulse buy), but even at their most potent, those would take a few decades to kill you. We’re toast, basically—as strangers we’ve met have been quick to point. Here’s some sage advice we received—entirely unsolicited—from the two employees of a one-room diner in Natchez, the first a thirtysomething male named (I think) Marsaw, and the second a woman a few decades his senior.

“You’re going through Texas!,” says Marsaw. “What kinda gun you got?”

“Just our fists.”

“You mean you’re not carrying a gun?” Marsaw’s incredulous.

“We like to think we’re pretty intimidating people.”

The woman laughs, which I’ll just assume is her defense mechanism. We get that a lot.

“My dad always said, ‘Always have a flashlight and a gun wherever you go,'” says Marsaw. “‘That way if you need to stop and fight you won’t get shot in the back.’ You can pull out the .22. Protect yourself.”

The flashlight seems kind of superfluous in that scenario, but okay.

The woman jumps in: “Well you can just use the tire iron [she makes a violent thwacking gesture]. You know, it’s legal to put the tire iron in the glove compartment in Mississippi, from the trunk. You can just do that.”

“Well they should get the .22, too.”

“Yeah, but if they don’t have a .22 they gotta use the tire iron.”

“Yeah, .22 and a tire iron.”

Done and done. Of course, if you buy a .22, you’ll probably want a concealed-carry permit to go with it. Utah, anyone?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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