Why Do You Carry A Gun?
Let me tell you about three events in my life that changed how I feel about guns.
The first event didn’t happen to me, it happened to my wife, long before I met her. Her family lived on a acreage along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, and one night, a violent motorcycle gang from Phoenix decided to head up into the woods and have a party. The local sheriff was called in, but he soon found himself outnumbered and backed away from the goings-on. My future father-in-law spent a sleepless night on the couch of his home with a shotgun on his lap while members of one Arizona’s most vicious gangs drove up and down the road outside of his house, threatening his life and the lives of his family.
A few years later, I was on a weekend camping trip with friends of mine from my college group at church. We had just settled down for the evening in our campsite when out of the blue, the camping spot next to us got very noisy, and the people there started whooping and hollering and firing shotguns into the air. I suddenly realized two things: We had a tentful of college age girls at our campsite, and if those yayhoos next door wanted to do something, all we had to defend ourselves against their shotguns was a couple of hatchets.
Not a good place to be.
The third incident happened after my wife and I were married and we had our first child. We were living in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, and we saw on the news that there was a violent home invasion in east Phoenix, in a neighborhood we were both familiar with and knew not to be a crime-ridden cesspool. At the time, Phoenix was in the grip of a crime wave brought on by drug wars and human trafficking, so we were used to hearing about violent crime in our town, but made this particular real to us is that a three year old boy was kidnapped during the home invasion, and our oldest son was also three years old at the time.
All of a sudden, what had been theoretical was now real. We knew the neighborhood where this crime occurred, and we could easily imagine the heartbreak of having our child taken away from us by force.
“What would we do if that happened to us?” asked my wife.
“We could yell and hope that the cops arrive soon,” was my utterly inadequate response.
“I want an alarm system,” said my wife.
“Good idea. I want a gun.” I said to her.
Do Something To Save Your Life
Those incidents are what gave me the motivation to carry a gun wherever I could. It wasn’t vague concerns about increasing crime rates or a breakdown of law and order, it was specific incidents where I knew that waiting for law enforcement to arrive was just not an option. Because the problems were so real and immediate, I could easily visualize something bad happening to those I hold dear, and I knew what I had in place and what I knew about self-protection was not up to the task. I took an NSSF First Shots class, then an NRA Basic Pistol Class. I started competing in USPSA, and got my concealed carry permit. I bought smaller pistols that would allow me to carry a gun with me more often. I took more classes. I competed in more matches. I bought more guns. I started writing about what I was doing, and here I am today.
You’re Not Alone
What surprised me, though, was how so many other people followed this same path. I recently asked a few friends of mine who are all top-level trainers, competitors and leading figures in the gun world about what motivated them to carry a gun on a regular basis and learn to shoot better. Their responses fell into three categories:
- They had grown up around guns, with people in their lives such as police officers who made their living protecting other people with guns
- They started competing in one of the practical shooting sports, found that it was fun (and it is) and realized that they needed to do more than just compete with a gun, they needed to carry a gun as well
- They had a specific incident in their lives that put them in immediate danger, and they realized what they knew and what they had with them were not up to the task of protecting themselves from harm
That last group outnumbered the other two put together, which, if I’m honest, was a surprise to me. What motivated these people, some of the best and the brightest in the worlds of firearms training and competition, wasn’t a vague concept of wanting to “feel safe,” it was a real and specific incident in their lives that motivated them to train and practice and carry day in, day out.
What’s Important To You?
So now my question is, what about your life? Can you see yourself in a specific situation where you might need to defend your life or the life of someone you hold dear? We’re not talking about a vague feeling of “Oh, I’m worried about rising crime” here, think about specific incidents, and apply them to your life. Look at your front door: What would you do if a heavily armed home invasion crew burst through it right now? Think about your last trip to the grocery store: Do you remember if there was anything sketchy about the parking lot as you walked in? Did you even look?
Like so many of my friends, I didn’t realize I needed to take responsibility for my own protection until that need showed up, in person, right in front of me. If you’ve not made the decision to get training and carry a gun on regular basis, do so now. Don’t worry about finding the perfect gun, start carrying now, and starting improving your skill with your carry gun of choice.
The life you save may be your own.