Saturday, February 26, 2005

Why carry?

Not 'why own guns?', that's a question I'll go to later. Specifically, why carry?

Oklahoma specifically forbade concealed carry up until a few years ago. There were the usual hysterical denunciations("bodies in the streets, blood in the gutters", etc.), but it was passed. I didn't get a carry permit right off. Partly inertia, partly because I had become much more protective of the 2nd Amendment and it pissed me off that I had to be 'approved' by the state to carry.

I had carried in my vehicle for years; every trip I made a revolver was under the seat. I had decided my fathers' attitude was the right one, better to possibly face trouble if caught with it than to be in a bad situation and not have it. However, I did not carry on my motorcycle, and that's where my decision came in. At the time we were having a lot of the noise about gang problems, with some of the big-name coastal gangs moving into the city, and I had to drive through the area of town they were most active in. And I liked the idea of having arms legally handy, just in case. So I took the course.

The class I attended was taught by two local police officers, who did a good job of it. The range test was straightforward, and I passed it and the classroom both. So I got two pictures taken, and went to the Sheriff's office to have my prints taken, paid the fees and sent it all in. In due time I was notified to pick up my permit, and did so. It was exciting to have it, and I began carrying wherever I legally could.

No, I wasn't just jiggly-happy, and I didn't flash it or take it lightly. What it did to my attitude was reinforce what I'd already learned. My dad was a law officer, and when teaching me to handle handguns had been unsparing as to the responsibility arms carried. When I'd decided to keep a gun handy at home, and to carry in the car on trips, the thought of "what happens if I pull the trigger?" had gone through my mind. A lot. And this simply made it more locked into my mind that I was responsible here.

Face it, in some ways it's a pain to carry. In hot weather it can be difficult. In any season you have to make sure you don't take it somewhere you shouldn't. Some friends will think you're a nut, and some people will treat you like a mass-murderer in waiting just for speaking about it- they find out you actually carry a deadly weapon on your person! well, what is wrong with you? that's the job of the police to protect you, etc. And the responsibility is always there, and the weight that you come to not consciously notice reminds you of it. Think about that last; it reminds you of your responsibility. And that responsibility is a big reason why I carry.

One of the facts of life has always been that you are responsible for your own safety and protection, and the police came in to clean up. If you were able to call them in in time to help protect you, all to the good, but you were the one there, you were the one next door to your neighbor when they screamed for help. It became more and more the attitude that the cops will take care of everything, and we started hearing directions about how to behave when you were robbed or raped, including all too many officials telling you how you should submit to pretty much anything so as 'not to make the situation worse'. And NEVER should you 'take the law into your own hands', which was how so many of these beaurocrats with badges saw self-defense; YOU weren't qualified, YOU were not properly able to act, wait for the PROFESSIONALS from the government to show up.

There were problems, of course. You had to actually call the cops before they could do anything, or someone seeing or hearing you being attacked had to call them, and they had to find an officer free to come over. And something else happened. There were a couple of cases where people who did call were harmed or killed, and they or their family sued the cops. And the courts ruled you couldn't do that, because the cops had no responsibility to you; their responsibility was only to 'society' in general, and if they fell down and you died or were crippled, too bad, now stop making noise and annoying us. So we don't have to do anything to protect you, but we sure don't want you doing it yourself!

The fact is that you are the primary one responsible for your/your familys' safety. You can try to farm it out, but that's always the fact. That doesn't mean everyone should go out and buy a gun; it does mean you have to think about it. If getting an alarm system for the house and some pepper spray for pocket or purse makes you feel better, fine. It makes me feel better too, because you have actually thought about your safety and how to safeguard it. My thoughts for safety include firearms. I have no desire to get into a fight, because at best people get hurt and I'm allergic to pain. If it comes to it, I want the best tool for the job, and that's a gun. Don't lecture me about batons or whatever; if I or my familys' safety is in danger, damned if I'm going to choose something that means I have to get within reach of some orc with a knife or chain, let alone trying to play disarm games against somebody with a gun.

I took a friend to the range for the first time a couple of months ago, first time she'd ever fired a handgun, and she did quite well. She wanted to get one to keep in the house due to some problems in the neighborhood, and we did some talking about what to do if you actually have to grab it. She commented a couple of times about how big a thing this was, and I made sure she kept thinking about it. Taking up any weapon means lethal force, and it is not to be taken lightly. Ever. Every time I put that sidearm on my belt and walk out the door I know the responsibility I carry, literally, for my actions. And that's a good thing.

Note: someone had the usual question of a friend, do you carry a pistol because you want a fight? In one of David Drakes' books a character was carrying a .38 revolver, and noted that it was just in case; if he knew he was heading into trouble, he'd have an automatic rifle. True enough.

5 comments:

Grinder said...

I'm yet to be convinced of the need to carry.
I can only comment based on my own experience which includes eight years of working on the street at night in and around the city of Adelaide, Australia. On some occasions I've worked with plain clothed police with concealed weapons also. I've seen a few fights but never been involved in any serious conflict of my own.
Neither at work or going about my other business can I think of when I would have needed a weapon. I find it nuisance enough carrying a phone. Surely carrying a gun is hardly worthwhile.
The argument of what might happen still needs to be realistic. I'm more likely to have a car accident. In my case, (I dont pretend to know how bad things are elsewhere), my freedom would be impaired by a measure that has only the smallest chance of ever paying off. Never mind the risks of a firearm getting me (or others) in to more trouble in the first place.
Each to their own, but is it a realistic need to carry? How often have you been in a threatening situation you couldn't have got out of without a gun?
(Don't get me wrong here. I really just want to know, not argue or tell you what you should do. I may even be convinced its a good idea)

Firehand said...

Appreciate the comments/questions. Let me take this in order.

Very happily, I've never had to lay hand to sidearm. Does that mean it's not worthwhile to have it? I think it's quite worthwhile, if only for the knowledge that if the worst does happen, I have a weapon with which to deal with it. There is also the simple fact that when bad guys do not know who may be armed, it puts a damper on things(that has been shown many times).

As to the 'realism' of the argument, it's a case of prepare for the worst/hope for the best. I'd rather be prepared and not need it.
As to the risks of getting you or others into more trouble, how? If someone acts irresponsibly, yeah, a sidearm might get them into trouble(as Lazarus Long put it, "If having a gun makes you feel nine feet tall and covered with hair, you SHOULDN'T carry one); that's a matter of personal responsibility that you have to answer for.

Further on the 'realistic' argument: about 18 months ago I saw a warning at work/about a month or so before it was publicly announced/ about possible terrorist tactics. According to training/planning materials found in Afghanistan, al Queda plans included taking over a store/office/restaurant, killing anyone who resisted, making it a big loud hostage situation, and in the end killing everybody; there was no intention of anyone getting out alive. Is it 'likely' to happen here? Probably not. It wasn't real likely that someone would decide to blow up a federal office building here, either; but there's a big empty space where one used to be.

I'm curious, why would your freedom be impaired by carry? And I HOPE that there's only the smallest chance that I'll ever need that weight on my hip.

Firehand said...

I'll throw in, Kevin at Smallest Minority has put this much more eloquently, you might check out some of his works.

Kevin said...

Thank you, Firehand, but you did a fine job on your own. Particularly the part about RESPONSIBILITY.

Grinder, you have demonstrated that you, personally, have no need of a weapon for personal protection. I'm fine with that. That's a decision I think everyone should ponder for him/herself. The problem I have is when the ability to make that decision for oneself is taken away by the State. As in "I don't need a gun, so you don't either!"

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