You have made the decision to arm yourself. Recent statistics regarding the sale of firearms in America clearly indicate you are not alone. There were 15,966,389 guns sold in America in the first four months of this year, with a large percentage of them being concealable, thus concentrating tremendous firepower in a small package. Knowledgeable folks estimate that 5,000,000 buyers were first time gun owners. (Sales were up 40% to women in 2020.) Interestingly, our neighbor to the east, Illinois, with 4% of the US population accounted for 27% of all sales nationally in the first four months of 2021. Who is buying, carrying and most importantly why? Read on.
Gun ownership is guaranteed by our Constitution. As a result of this guarantee, Americans buy for as many reasons as there are people. Social scientists are at odds with the root reasons for gun ownership but are in agreement that a very significant part of the population acquires a firearm for personal protection. You would be consumed with naïveté if you cannot see why this is happening given the chaos in the streets and the proliferation of violence. I am not a social scientist, so will leave this issue to them. I have carried a firearm for 50 years or so of my life, both professionally and as an ordinary citizen. As a result of this experience, I am offering a commentary on several key elements attendant to the carrying of a firearm for personal protection. Here we go.
Proficiency: If you are going to carry a firearm, it is imperative that you know how to operate it. That is load, unload, clean it and shoot reasonably accurately. If you have not mastered these elements, carry a brick instead, and learn to throw it at an intended target.
The law: Shooting someone in your defense or the defense of others is opening yourself up to the vagaries of the law, both criminally and civilly. That 75 cent bullet can cost you everything you own or will hope to own if you fail to exercise excellent judgement when you send it on it’s way. Lawyers love the smell of gunpowder.
Mission: Are you protecting your home, yourself or those around you. If you are simply protecting your home, there are a number of shorter, but legal, shotguns on the market that are far superior to a handgun for this job. If personal protection is your goal, then you have a tremendous selection to choose from; tiny, powerful hand cannons, medium frame pistols and full sized handguns, some with amazing magazine capacities that are rarely of significance in an armed encounter. Protecting yourself and another person standing along side you is entirely different than engaging a shooter in a church or shopping mall where a number of souls are in peril. To a large extent, the extreme differences in intended mission will determine what kind of firearm you carry. The effectiveness of a big bore, full sized handgun is remarkably different than a .380 pocket pistol in your waistband, though both will certainly kill. The perfect handgun has yet to be developed, however; the manufacturers continue to work to this end.
Will: Do you have the will to shoot another human being? It is not as easy as it appears on television. Circumstance be damned, if you cannot aim a firearm at another human being and kill him or her, you are going to join the surprising numbers of folks who have chosen to seek cover as opposed to engaging a shooter that is threatening others, even when armed. Police officers face this same dilemma and they are trained to engage the shooter and protect others and not just themselves. This hesitation has cost officer’s lives and will your’s too, if you assume the role of active engagement on behalf of others, without the will to shoot a human being. On a much lesser scale, it is akin to teaching a young hunter to calmly look at a beautiful, young deer and shoot it to death. There is no dignity in death. An armed encounter, folks, is not a turn the other cheek proposition.
This is not intended as an all inclusive treatise on the implications of carrying a firearm. It is intended to offer an insight into four elements that are essential to consider when you make the decision to carry. There are other considerations, such as open carry vs. concealed carry (I am not a fan of open carry having heard every argument relative to this consideration), security of the gun you carry and carry positions on your person. Do not talk to the gun shop owner for 15 minutes, buy it, load it and stick it in your pocket. You would be much better suited to buying that brick and a whistle and going forth. Give thought to your decision and seek training. Your preparation will make a difference when the trigger is pulled, I can guarantee it.
Have a great weekend!