A pretty terrific philosophical examination of the problem of being in a place where open-carry activists decide to hold a demonstration, along with a proposal for how to respond to the open-carry provocation:
The question that concerns me now is how we bystanders should react when people come into a store with guns. There really is no legitimate way of determining intent. Even if the people with guns are carrying a sign claiming to be activists (which they do not do), they could be lying, just setting us all up for slaughter. And since there is no way to know what is on their minds, all we have are our instincts, but as we all should know, our instincts are often racist, classist, and frequently mistaken. So, what should we do?
My proposal is as follows: we should all leave. Immediately. Leave the food on the table in the restaurant. Leave the groceries in the cart, in the aisle. Stop talking or engaging in the exchange. Just leave, unceremoniously, and fast.
But here is the key part: don’t pay. Stopping to pay in the presence of a person with a gun means risking your and your loved ones’ lives; money shouldn’t trump this. It doesn’t matter if you ate the meal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just received food from the deli counter that can’t be resold. It doesn’t matter if you just got a haircut. Leave. If the business loses money, so be it. They can make the activists pay.
The difficulty of knowing other people’s intent is a classic philosophical problem. It is epistemological in that it involves the limits of our knowledge. We can’t really know what anyone else hopes to do, and sometimes, because of the subconscious and of self-deception, we don’t ever know what our own true intent is. It is also an example of the problem of other minds. We can never really enter into the perspective of any other person, nor can we ever really know what they think (or even if they think). We are discrete individuals and communication is unreliable.
My point: the political and economic realities of running from gun activists is, yet again, founded on classic philosophical issues, and when we take positions on issues of the day, we are really taking positions philosophically.