Ask most any law enforcement officer, off the record of course, about the need for law-abiding citizens to have guns for self-defense and protection and they will nod and say, absolutely. They will likely qualify that response by saying that gun owners need to know how to handle guns safely and responsibly. But they know how dangerous it is out there and they know that law enforcement just cannot be there to stop an assault before it happens or while it’s happening. In that moment, it’s between the attacker and the attacked. That’s reality.
But there are some fundamental questions Americans must answer.
_1 Do we have the right to possess and use firearms?
_2 What sort of firearms should we be allowed to possess and use?
_3 Who should be allowed to possess and use firearms?
_4 How should we control and regulate the possession and use of firearms?
_5 What should the penalties be for illegally possessing or using firearms?
We know there is very little agreement between Progressives and Conservatives when it comes to answering these questions. We also know that guns are used to kill a lot of people in this country and that certain types of guns are often used by the crazies who decide to commit mass murder. Note that I said “guns are used”; not that guns kill. Big difference.
So where does this leave us? I don’t know about the nation as a whole; but I do know about my own circumstances. We live outside the city limits. If bad guys show up, my wife and I are on our own. This would still be true if we lived in the city, even if it was in an apartment with neighbors all around. But it’s especially true out where we live now. I have a shotgun in my office. I am prepared for varmints, two or four-legged. We have handguns in the house, one in the family room, a 9MM semi-auto; and one in our bedroom, a .357 revolver. We have several other handguns, rifles and shotguns. We lock them all up when we have visitors or kids around.
My wife is also a realtor and handles property from the northern suburbs of DFW all the way into Southern Oklahoma. She has her concealed carry license. I’m glad that she is armed. Realtors, especially female realtors are targets and more than a few have been attacked, raped, and murdered.
I also have a concealed carry license. When I was a younger man, I didn’t worry too much about defending myself. I was big, strong, tough, and athletic. I had a false sense of security and didn’t see the need for a gun. Now I am older, slower, and weaker. And more of the bad guys are well-armed. So, I keep a pistol in my truck just in case.
I don’t own an AR-15 type rifle, but some of my neighbors do. Most everyone out here is armed to some degree and most folks have a dog or two or three hanging around. Some of us have security systems and cameras. Are we being paranoid, overly cautious? Perhaps. But the bad guys know that folks around here are well-armed and prepared. I will acknowledge that having guns around makes it more likely that some one will be shot accidently or commit suicide with a gun or in the heat of the moment shoot another family member or neighbor. But on balance, we’ll take our chances with those unlikely outcomes versus being unarmed and unprepared. And that’s our choice to make. Because for the most part, we are on our own out here.
Am I ignoring recent events? Not at all. What happened in Buffalo and Uvalde and Tulsa and Ames and on and on; are tragic and must be addressed. Tighter regulations on who can own what sort of guns makes sense. It might help some. But those bent on killing will find other ways to kill. We must do better when it comes to recognizing those who are mentally unstable and on the brink. We must improve security around soft targets. And sadly, we must accept that we are on our own. Taking guns away is not the solution, it’s just surrender.
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson