I recently spent most of a week in Vermont for a party I give every year. This is normal; although I'm a New Yorker, we've had that house for decades and in fact this is the 22nd year in a row we've had that party.

This year, I wore a gun for every day I was in Vermont. I wore it in the house and while out, although I removed it each day before having my first drink.

I was asked by several people why I was wearing it (I was wearing it concealed but not taking care to hide it in the house, it was in a shoulder rig). The first answer I gave, which is 100% true, was that I was breaking in the holster - I'd purchased the holster a couple of months ago, and because I can't have the gun in New York I'd never been able to break it in or test it for fit. A couple of people then asked "Is it loaded?" My answer to that was generally "Chamber empty." Only one person went on to ask "But the magazine is loaded?" to which I said "Yes."

While nobody told me they were uncomfortable (and I recognize that as the host of the party, people might have been unwilling to do so) I started thinking about what was different while carrying the gun.

On the physical side, I had adjustments to make. The weight of the gun and two magazines in the mag carrier on the other side, coupled with the slight restriction of the straps around my arms and shoulders meant that I had an unconscious tendency to hunch which I had to fight. However, after a day or two, it felt natural and I would generally forget I was wearing it unless I thought about it.

On the mental side, things were very different. I'm obsessed with gear, and that was certainly part of it - I had posted my EDC picture to Reddit to include the gun and holster, and I felt I should carry as declared. However, I found I had a very different outlook on the world while wearing it. I was much more alert about my surroundings. I was less confident of my safety, rather than more so - I didn't feel like I was in more danger from external sources or taking more risks on my side, but I felt that my safety and that of those around me was much more my responsibility, and I was paying much more attention. Not in the 'protector' sense, but in the sense of 'I am carrying a dangerous tool, and it is my responsibility to ensure it does not harm anyone.'

That was sobering but also a good feeling. I felt that I was paying much more attention to the world around me, and those people in it. Which, I think, is what one would hope would happen. At no time did I feel like I had greater weight, or authority, or power, or anything like that - on the contrary, I felt that I was continually at much higher risk of making mistakes which would have extremely high costs to myself and those around me. This, however, was not a negative - I have the same feeling when driving and, more so, when operating an aircraft. Having the same feeling in my day to day existence made me feel like I was getting more out of the world, being forced to pay more attention to it rather than obliviously wander through it.

I'm back in New York, and obviously, the gun is not. I need to get training in its use and in the relevant laws and practices, of course. But walking in the woods in Vermont, I did unship it and take a potshot at a tree branch, just for the heck of it.

Felt good.