To Carry or not to Carry...that is the 2nd Amendment Question
Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you hate guns, you’re probably not on this site to begin with. If you hate guns but somehow ended up here because you thought perhaps I hunted animals with a gentle spearing or hugs and kisses, then I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but this is a gun-friendly website. If you are okay with firearms for the purpose of hunting, but believe they have no place in society outside of the wilderness…then you’re about to feel uncomfortable.
The choice to carry a firearm on a daily basis is a big deal…I would never dismiss that or say otherwise. However, I believe it is every law-abiding citizen’s duty to – at the very least – consider why they would or would not want to adopt that lifestyle, and make a conscious decision one way or the other. Unfortunately, the general perception is that civilians walking around with guns are a bunch of vigilantes, wannabe cops, or have some sort of Dwight Schrute complex.
Sadly, I’m sure in a few cases that is true; however, that is a small minority of the everyday armed human beings out there. Most of us are simply spouses, parents, concerned citizens, and generally normal people that want to live peaceful and safe lives, but recognize that the world is a dangerous place and crazy people do evil things sometimes. Perhaps walking you through the mental process that led to my personal concealed carry decision will help illustrate the point.
I had been a “gun guy” since I fell in love with shooting at Boy Scout camp. Though there wasn’t a gun in my house until I was 18 and could buy my own, I made up for lost time by shooting with my buddies almost every week all through college. As time went on and I started a family, I still had the safe full of guns and loved to go out and shoot whenever the opportunity arose, but they were still just tools I had acquired for hunting and target shooting…purely recreational. However, as I think any dad will attest, something changes within you once you have a child. I’ve always felt protective of my wife, but having a kid increased that drive to a surprising degree. And it seemed with each additional child (we have three), that protective instinct grew even more intense.
So, the progression quickly grew from having a small collection of recreational firearms, to one gun in the safe that was ready to go in the event of a home invasion, to a few guns in a couple safes in different points around the house to better deal with an intruder. That, coupled with a security system, and I felt like I could go to bed at night feeling fairly confident that within the four walls of our home, my family would be safe.
Now, it’s not like I had never considered concealed carry until I had children. I have a close friend who started carrying early in his twenties, and it kind of blew my mind at the time, to be honest. I had only experienced guns in the wilderness or at the range, and the thought that a dude could be sitting there eating dinner at the mall with a gun discreetly tucked away seemed like something from the old west. At 23 with no children, it seemed awesome, but unnecessary to me. However, as the years went on, the children multiplied, and the world got a little crazier, I began to look at this notion with fresh eyes. I would be out with my family looking around, and I would notice someone who looked a little shifty or wildly out of place given the setting. I would think to myself: “What would I do if this guy suddenly did X, Y, or Z? How would I protect my wife and kids? How could I protect any of the hundreds of others of innocent people in the vicinity?” I couldn’t shake those questions, and I started to understand how your average, run of the mill dude could come to the conclusion that he should be armed at all times.
Now, it’s not to say that I grew hyper-paranoid, or that I suspected every person with sun glasses or a baggy coat at the mall. I didn’t turn into a hermit and keep my family from going out, and I didn’t believe that everyone was out to get me. However, I firmly believe that one of my primary, God-given roles on this earth is to protect my wife and kids. The fundamental question that I couldn’t get over was, “how would I live with myself if something horrible happened to my family while we were out, and the means of defending them was neatly tucked away in a safe at home?” I didn’t have a good answer for that, and it drove me to finally take the plunge into the concealed carry lifestyle.
As I said in the beginning, I believe this is a huge decision, so I didn’t just jam a gun in my waistband and start walking around Walmart (if that seems oddly specific, it’s because I’ve seen that exact scenario). I got my permit (even though Arizona doesn’t require them), and I even sought training above and beyond the basic content covered in the CCW class. I invested in a quality holster and belt, bought longer shirts to ensure it stayed covered, and began carrying extra EDC (Every Day Carry) items like a quality flashlight and sharpened knife. Then I made sure I stayed disciplined to get out and practice at least once a month. To be clear, by “practice,” I don’t mean shooting a box of ammo one slow round at a time in the comfort of an indoor range and creating a nice tight group in the middle of a target. I mean getting out somewhere where I could draw from the holster, practicing moving, shooting from cover, reloads, malfunction drills…truly practicing and trying to replicate what might actually be required in a self-defense situation. I wanted to have confidence and muscle memory dialed in so that if I ever had to defend myself or my family in a life or death scenario, I would be able to prevail.
I did not arrive at that decision lightly, and the progression outlined above was at least a three-year process. But hopefully seeing it outlined like that will shed some light on what a majority of responsibly armed Americans have gone through before deciding to carry a pistol every day. Most of us aren’t renegade cowboys or wannabe Navy SEALS; we aren’t overly paranoid and convinced terrorists are going to take over a small Montana town like in Red Dawn. We have simply come to the conclusion that “it could never happen here” is one of the most dangerous things a person can think. We have accepted the harsh reality that “it” could happen anywhere! I live in a fairly nice suburb with terrifically low crime statistics, and the odds are that I will never have to draw my gun in self-defense as long as I live. I truly hope and pray that is the case! But I refuse to let that lull me into a false sense of security where the one in a million actually happens, and I have no way to effectively protect myself, my family or other innocent human beings.
So, to those of you still reading that aren’t necessarily comfortable with the idea of everyday civilians carrying weapons, please understand where those people are coming from. They are not careless, they are not flippant with the power that rides on their hip, and they have weighed that severity and have taken that responsibility upon themselves with reverence. I won’t fill this with a long list of statistics, but let me give just a couple of lines of thinking that may give you a fresh perspective. 1) If a criminal was going to target any given public location, don’t you imagine he would strategically target places with the least probable resistance? Every time a state loosens restrictions on concealed carry, crime rates decrease. It gives the criminal pause to know that any given location he might try and commit violence could very well contain an armed citizen prepared to fight back, and so they move to select an easier target.
Which leads to a side thought we’ll call 1A) If you operate an establishment with a no firearms sign at the front door, please think that through. I can understand if you are unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable with guns, and have a desire to keep them off of your property. But anyone seeking to cause harm or steal from you is not going to be thwarted by your little sign...they’ve already mentally crossed the threshold of committing armed robbery or worse, so I don’t think the misdemeanor charge of disregarding your posted sign is all that worrisome to them. In fact, the only thing it will tell the would-be criminal is that all the law abiding citizens who might be present to put up a fight have either disarmed before entering, or chosen not to patronize your establishment in the first place (which is my personal choice, and one I would encourage all proponents of the 2nd Amendment to adopt).
My final plea to the non-carrying crowd is to try and find comfort in the responsibly armed citizens you may encounter. If you happen to notice a bulge under a guy’s jacket or his shirt comes up a little and you catch a glimpse of a pistol, resist the urge to react with fear. If he seems like a normal guy just out to dinner or whatever and he has a gun, he has no desire to use that gun tonight. His biggest hope is to have an enjoyable evening, and go home and put the pistol back in the safe having never even touched it. Furthermore, that is a guy who would be willing to step in front of you to confront a threat while your only option would be to duck for cover and pray to God that you survive. He isn’t crazy, he doesn’t want to hurt anybody, but he is willing to do what it takes to put a stop to pure evil if it presents itself that evening.
Now, a quick note to the concealed carry crowd: please keep it low key! The whole point of carrying concealed in the first place is the tactical advantage it gives you in terms of surprise against an armed attacker, as well as not bringing alarm to the rest of society who is not terribly used to seeing guns in everyday situations (we’re a long ways away from Wyatt Erp, folks). We won’t win any friends or advocates by insisting that they accept our beliefs and walking into Wendy’s with an AR-15 strapped to our backs simply because it’s our Constitutional right. Keep it on the D.L., please! I work very hard to ensure that the only people who know I’m carrying at any given moment are my wife, my kids (who only know because I had to teach them what to do should they ever see me draw my weapon in public), and a couple of my close friends. That’s it! If you feel the uncontrollable urge to flash your gun to a buddy because you think it’s cool and you think he’ll find you dangerous and awesome, you probably aren’t truly understanding the immense weight of carrying a gun in the first place and maybe shouldn’t be carrying at all until you sort that out. Climb back into your lifted truck with the Metal Mulisha sticker on the back, and go home and consider if carrying a gun really means anything to you other than the ability to defend someone in an emergency. (Put another way: a gun doesn’t make your manhood bigger)
I firmly believe that one of man’s primary roles is that of protector. To those of us God has entrusted with wives and kids, it is our job to keep them safe to the best of our ability. I truly wish we didn’t live in a world where a firearm was a necessary tool for that purpose, but my personal belief is that we do. We can bemoan that and argue for eons about the evils of gun violence and blah, blah, blah…but wishing things were different doesn’t actually make them different. Evil is real. People sometimes do despicable and evil things to other innocent people. And if evil presents itself armed to the teeth, a philosophical discussion or a “please stop” is not going to change anything. A sudden life or death situation can only be met with sudden life or death action. Until we live in a different world where that is not the case, I will be carrying any means necessary to protect the people I love.