It snowed in Albuquerque. Overnight, a light blanket of fluff covered our adobe home in the down-scale (but adorable in its own way, my wife says) South Valley.

Our 1,700-mile, four-day drive from Atlanta was uneventful. My Walther .40 remained in the center console: loaded but without a chambered round. Georgia — Alabama — Mississippi — Louisiana — Texas — New Mexico. Six states; six different concealed carry statutes. All recognized my Georgia Concealed Weapons Carry License — except our new home. All are “shall-issue” with conservative, constitutional reputations — except politically mixed New Mexico. Dang.

I don’t support a national concealed carry law; after all, the Founding Fathers gave us Amendment 2 — but a long-distance drive makes me wonder if I’m right.

1. Georgia: With a Georgia or reciprocal license, your firearm can be in the glove box or center console, but not in non-closeable map pockets. With a permit, anywhere in the car is basically okay. Georgia’s “Castle Doctrine” — thinking of hotels along the route — says if you’re lawfully present where you’re threatened and not engaged in illegal conduct, there’s no duty to retreat.
2. Alabama: An Alabama or reciprocal permit lets you carry a firearm in a vehicle if you are legally permitted to possess it. And Alabama authorizes unfettered deadly force in self-defense; there’s no duty to retreat from an attacker in any place where you are lawfully present.
3. Mississippi: The law reads, “It shall not be a violation … for any person over the age of 18 to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed in whole or in part within the confines of his own home or his place of business, or any real property associated with his home or business or within any motor vehicle.” Period!
4. Louisiana: Louisiana law is oddly written, but open or concealed carry in a vehicle is permissible. It is a “Castle Doctrine” state, which includes home, car or place of business. In Louisiana, a vehicle is an extension of the home and carry is permissible.
5. Texas: Anyone traveling in Texas, a strong “Castle Doctrine” state, can carry a loaded handgun in his or her vehicle — and concealed handgun permit holders can now carry handguns openly.
6. New Mexico: Loaded, concealed firearms may be carried anywhere in a private automobile for self-protection … but the “Land of Enchantment” does not recognize my Georgia license.

So, we are in our new home — exhausted from travel and endless unpacking — and three nights later at about 9:00 p.m. a car drives into our small, tightly knit neighborhood. It stops catty-cornered at the T-intersection beside our house. The night is dark, but the driver switches off the car’s lights, although now and then a foot taps the brake and the motor continues to run. The passenger shines a light into home windows, including ours. This brings my wife and I to the window. He shines the light on us.

Several minutes later, the car is still in the intersection, lights out, and I decide to investigate. I walk outside, unarmed but obvious to car inhabitants. They shine the light on me but do not otherwise move. I return inside and, still, they remain in the intersection. My wife calls the Albuquerque police and I cock a round into the chamber of my pistol, place it beside me on the truck seat and drive out to confront whomever is inside — as it turns out two people, mid-to-late 20s, tattooed, woman driving with man beside her, sedan (dark blue I think) heavily damaged on the driver’s side.

“Isn’t it about time for you two to shove off?”
“Who are you? Neighborhood watch patrol?”
“You’re G—D—right I am.”
“I don’t think so…”

They laugh and drive off only to turn around in my driveway and head back toward me. I turn the truck, the pistol beside me on the seat, and accelerate toward them as fast as possible. They swerve, make a hand gesture and drive away.

Back in the house, I realize I’m quivering and perhaps have a bit of tunnel-vision, tunnel-thinking. Who were they? What were they doing? Had I placed my life in danger unnecessarily? What side would the law have come down on if the confrontation had escalated?

And the Albuquerque police? With 1,100 sworn officers and a nice page, they never showed up … or not as far as we could determine. What Tim Schmidt, the publisher of Concealed Carry Magazine, says is true: “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”