Monday, December 10, 2007

Guns: Carrying a gun

Others more eloquent than myself have answered the question. And many stories are written about people who make the choice. In the end, carrying a firearm for self-defense is always a personal decision, almost the most personal decision one can make. I thought it'd be interesting to discuss what led to me getting a concealed weapons permit nearly three years ago...

Like a lot of people nowadays, I didn't shoot growing up, and I had never even really thought about guns or gun control until I started doing a student presentation in high school about it. While doing the research for the presentation, I noticed that for every website or organization dedicated to gun control, there were literally dozens of others that advocated the opposite - fewer restrictions on guns, fewer laws, and more people owning and shooting guns. I have to admit that at the time, though, sites like Oleg's carried what was an alien and opposite worldview.

Don't guns just increase the possibility someone will get hurt? Why did people carry guns? Is life so dangerous that you can't get by without one? These are all questions that people ask. Unfortunately, the media isn't exactly the best source of info on the subject, often painting someone who would carry a gun for self-defense as a vigilante:

Even people who do carry concealed weapons sometimes do a middling job at answering these questions. My theory is that there's a bit of a disconnect between someone who carries and someone who doesn't - the two can move through the same culture, work at the same jobs, have the same friends and hobbies - but the perspective has been shifted just so, enough that a simple question can spawn a whole lot of confusion.

Some have cited the pragmatic reasons for carrying a gun. Look at the tragic death of Sean Taylor - here was a guy who could easily run faster, react quicker, and hit harder than 99.9% of the people on the planet, but he was no match for an armed attacker. And then there's the recent shootings in Omaha and Colorado - one was ended by an armed security guard, and the other continued until the shooter killed himself. But these reasons, while certainly valid, weren't really my motivation for carrying.

For me, the act of attending college, that fateful first time away from home (which some people seem to mistake for a party) was a strange experience. I realized then that I was going to have to look after myself - cleaning up, getting to school, and keeping healthy. Part of that last bit, somewhere along the way, involved owning and carrying guns.

But perhaps I give too much space to the firearm itself. The thing is just a piece of metal. It won't "go off." It's only as safe as the person using it. It doesn't have a mind of its own, like some people would have you think:

So, in the end, why did I decide to carry a gun? The shortest and most correct answer is to defend myself and my loved ones. The long answer, buried or transfigured in questions of personal autonomy, personal responsibility, and personal identity, is still something I'm figuring out.


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