Since I started out today by mocking the Karen in Pennsylvania who threatened to shoot anyone who got near her without wearing a mask, I suppose its fitting to end the day by talking about why I do wear a mask when I’m out shopping and why I think it’s the consistent position for gun owners to take.

Like most gun owners, I have firearms so that I can protect myself and my family from those who wish to do us harm. That’s also precisely the reason why I mask up before I head into my local Tractor Supply Company, gun shop, or grocery storet; to protect myself and my family from a virus that could cause irreparable harm. Just as with carrying a gun for self-defense, wearing a mask won’t provide me with 100% protection against the coronavirus, but it does increase my chances of keeping my family safe.

Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit takes a look at a new study from Hong Kong on the efficacy of wearing masks to prevent coronavirus transmission, and the results are pretty striking.

There were two noteworthy takeaways. First, it does seem to be true that masks do more to prevent you from infecting others than prevent you from being infected by others, which is what we’d expect. A mask covering an infected person’s mouth is intercepting the entire load of virus-carrying droplets at a moment when they’re confined to a small space. If instead there’s no mask and that spray is ejected into the air, it can spread out, float around, and potentially sneak into a second person’s nose or mouth even if they’re wearing a mask by slipping through small spaces between that person’s mask and skin. Gotta stop transmission at the source. And since asymptomatic people are the key vector for transmission, that means everyone needs to operate on the assumption that they’re infected.

Second, the Hong Kong researchers discovered that healthy hamsters who were infected despite having a mask barrier over their cages nonetheless “had less of the virus in their bodies compared to those infected without the masks.” That’s potentially important because scientists have speculated that the amount of the virus that enters your body may affect how severe your symptoms are. In other words, wearing a mask may not keep you from getting infected — but it may keep you from dying. Which is a pretty good reason to wear a mask.

According to the study, about 66-percent of the hamsters that had no mask barrier in place became infected with the coronavirus within a week. When mask barriers were put over the cages of infected hamsters, the infection rate declined to 16-percent. Even with masks material placed only around cages of uninfected hamsters, the infection rate was 33-percent. And as Allahpundit notes, the healthy hamsters that did get infected were found to have less of a viral load than hamsters that had no protection from masks at all.

In fact, here’s an arresting stat providing circumstantial evidence of how effective masks might be in holding down the body count. Although New York and Hong Kong are both high-density major metropolises (NYC has around a million more people than HK), New York has endured many thousands of COVID-19 deaths. Hong Kong, where masks are ubiquitous, has endured four. Not four thousand. Four. Which seems like the right note on which to remind you that a recent computer model assembled by academics showed that universal mask-wearing in the U.S. (i.e. more than 80 percent of the public wearing masks) would be far more effective in limiting deaths going forward than even an indefinite lockdown would.

There are plenty of good reasons to wear a mask when shopping or spending an extended amount of time indoors, but here’s a really bad reason: because the government says so. Just as I’m opposed to things like training mandates for new gun owners or those who want to carry a firearm, I reject government mandates to wear a mask. In fact, I think a mandate only makes things worse by bringing out our innate American libertarianism. Disobedience is in our cultural DNA, and the surest way to get us to oppose something is to try to force us into compliance.

I don’t wear a mask when I go to the store because Gov. Ralph Northam wants me to. I do it because my wife has been battling lung cancer for almost four years now and her immune system isn’t the greatest in the world, especially when she’s undergoing chemotherapy. I don’t need the government promising to punish me if I don’t wear a mask, and even politicians like Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio have come to the conclusion that mask mandates do more harm than good.

What do I do when I see someone at the store who’s not wearing a mask? Nothing. I don’t call police, I don’t alert a manager, and I don’t freak out on them either. If, however, someone knowingly visits a store that has a policy requiring masks and makes a scene about not wearing one, I will definitely roll my eyes (Warning: some NSFW language).

“I won’t do it because I woke up in a free country.” Indeed you did, and that includes the freedom for businesses to establish policies for customers that you may not agree with. Gun owners have been dealing with this for years, and many of us try very hard not to visit businesses that ban the lawful carrying of firearms. There’s a Buffalo Wild Wings in Farmville, Virginia, for example, that I’ve never gone into because of the chain’s “no-guns allowed” policy. It’s the company’s decision to set the policies for their stores, and it’s my decision to not spend a dime on their chicken wings as a result.

From the #Resist movement to the scores of Second Amendment Sanctuaries that have popped up across the country in recent months, Americans on both sides of the aisle have a growing habit of disregarding politicians we disagree with. We can argue about whether or not this is a positive development, but it is an undeniable fact.

If we’re going to get through the current crisis as quickly and with as little pain as possible, politicians need to back off their ill-advised and potentially unconstitutional mandates and develop a lighter touch when it comes to working with the American people. They should drop their demands for all of us to mask up and instead promote public awareness campaigns about the benefits of wearing masks. Heck, enlist “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to take on the idea that “real men don’t wear masks.” That would be more helpful than attempting to enforce an order mandating masks be worn in public, and for politicians more interested in getting results than assuming powers, it should be an easy call to make.