There’s one side of the gun debate: the average civilian should not own nor carry a firearm. Then there’s the other side of the debate: Americans have the right to bear arms. Well, that’s not exactly the other side of the debate. To the right of the Second Amendment über alles postion (irony intended), some believe that concealed carry permit holders have an obligation to carry their piece everywhere, anywhere, every time, all the time. And to the right of this unfortunately named “sheepdog” philosophy, there are those who say that ALL citizens have a obligation to carry a firearm, to protect society from assault. That’s way, way out there. Isn’t it?

As I ease into my parentally paranoid fifties, I’m increasingly aware of the random acts of savagery bedeviling society. I try to see them in their proper perspective. I’m sure there’s no more violence in America now than there was fifty years ago, and a lot less than there was a hundred years ago. Or back when American slaves got what my father used to call the shitty end of the lollipop. I’m also aware that America is a safe haven; Somalia is no place for an unarmed civilian to be on Saturday night. BUT—

I don’t want extreme violence to happen to me or my loved ones. Actually, I don’t want it to happen NEAR me or my loved ones. And if it does, I want someone to stop it. Preferably not me. A security guard, cop or even some random stranger with a concealed carry permit. ‘Cause I’m not the violent sort. While I can do it, it’s not how I roll. To quote Loudon Wainwright III, I’m into the power of the arched eyebrow. BUT—

If it has to be done, and there’s no one else to do it, I’ll step up. You can’t let that sort of shit go unchallenged. It’s not right. Besides, from a practical POV, tolerance of violence breeds more violence. I enjoy the advantages of a relatively safe society. I’m willing to shoulder my responsibility to protect it. And not just by subsidizing the police.

Nowadays, I’ll be somewhere away from the police—walking the dogs in the woods or, yes, outside my daughter’s school—when the thought occurs: what if something bad happens right here, right now (the funk soul brother)? What then?

So I’m applying for a RI concealed carry permit. (Blogs to follow.) And I’m wondering. The vast majority of my friends and acquaintances are anti-gun. As I said, I’ll do what I can to protect them from harm, regardless of their views about guns or gun control. But don’t they have the same responsibility to look after me and mine? Shouldn’t they at least train in the use of firearms? Or, better yet, carry a gun?

From the AP:

A woman who stabbed and wounded four people in a busy Target store Monday afternoon was arrested when an off-duty sheriff’s deputy pulled his gun and ordered the woman to the ground as screaming shoppers ran from the building, authorities said.

Layla Trawick used a butcher’s knife and a carving knife to attack the victims, using both blades at the same time — one in each hand — and slashing in a downward arc like in the movie “Psycho,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

“She was literally walking up and down the aisles slashing people,” he said.

A mother holding her baby was stabbed in the neck and was taken to the hospital, where she was in stable condition, Whitmore said. The baby was unhurt and all four victims were expected to survive.

3 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Have An Obligation to Carry a Gun?

  1. This is a good launching point for a discusion of positive and negative rights. I support the right to carry, but I wouldn't demand that others do it. It is a massive responsibility and I don't know that everyone is up for that 24/7.

  2. To add to what Lance said, many CCW permit holders carry only rarely because, to be honest, carrying is a real PITA. I have yet to find a really comfortable IWB (inside waistband) holster for my Glock 23, and when carrying you have to be careful not to inadvertently expose your weapon to the public (in some states it's just frowned upon but in others it can actually be a crime called "brandishing.")

    I don't know what percentage of CCW permittees carry on a regular basis but based on my own experience and that of others I know, I would be surprised if it exceeded 10%.

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