My application for a concealed carry license is almost complete. The big Kahuna: a one-page letter explaining why I want to carry a concealed firearm. As Rhode Island is a “shall issue” state, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees me the right to bear arms, I shouldn’t have to write any such missive. But I do. So I will. In accordance with the recent McDonald decision, wherein the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Chicago’s handgun ban as an illegal diminution of citizens’ right to self defense (under the Second Amendment), I should be able to simple type “To defend the lives of myself and my family” and be done with it. But I can’t. So I won’t. Instead . . .
I’ll cite that desire and peg it to the fact that I regularly carry expensive firearms to and from FFL dealers, manufacturers, gun ranges, gun clubs and private citizens. A fact that is widely known thanks to the internet. Which makes me and my family a target.
True story. But that got me thinking, what private reasons might justify concealed carry? In other words, if someone is on the fence on the issue, what factors should they consider to decide whether or not they should carry a lethal weapon? Here are three:
1. You know someone who uses recreational drugs (someone REALLY close to you)
First, let me state unequivocally and for the record I do not use recreational drugs. I don’t smoke dope. I don’t snort coke. In fact, I don’t drink alcohol or keep booze in the house. And no, I’m not a Mormon, alcoholic, anti-drug zealot or alcoholic anti-drug Mormon. That’s just the way I roll.
Now, tens of millions of “normal” Americans—many of whom own guns—smoke marijuana. Plenty of these hard-working, tax-paying Americans consider their dope dealer a “friend.” They may be a friend; a lot of smokers get their grass from someone they know socially who gets it from a “real” dealer. But when it comes to the dope smokers’ security, their friendly neighborhood dope dealer is the weakest link.
The people providing these middle class folk with their weed are criminals. As a class, criminals are violent people. Maybe not the person at the very end of the supply chain. But there’s only one or two degrees of separation away between your garden variety dope smoker and someone who’s ready, willing and able to use violence to defend or extend their commercial interests. Or get some cash to feed their habit. Or just for the flying F of it.
That Mexican drug lord at the head of the supply chain may not be the dope smoker’s best bud (so to speak), but he’s out there, somewhere. And he’s got an entire army of people who will kill for him. Collectively, the drug Lords have murdered over a thousand people so far this year. Which overlaps with but doesn’t include the number of people who were tortured and survived. At the risk of sounding like Sgt. Joe Friday, think about that the next time you see someone light up a joint. And this . . .
Like any efficient criminal enterprise, the dope biz is good at gathering and disseminating information. Like, say, who’s got stuff worth stealing. Or who might be able to pay a ransom if someone kidnaps their children. A dope dealer can pass that information “up-line” in seconds. Remember: the [unseen] criminal syndicates selling “end users” dope are no less likely to pursue “brand extensions” than Coca-Cola. Their soldiers are clever, conniving, ruthless and ready to kill you dead.
If you’re smoking dope and holding down a job, sending your kids to school and generally being a productive member of society, you have resources worth stealing. You’re a target for criminal activity. And don’t forget that you’re the weakest link when it comes to police investigations. A street criminal is highly unlikely to rat out his supplier. You? You’re a pussy. You might have a fancy lawyer, but you have everything to lose. They’ll turn you in ten minutes.
When it comes to coke, crack, LSD, meths, etc., all of the above applies, only tenfold. Illegal prescription pills? Same again. Mind you, I’m not for a moment suggesting that recreational drug users should get a gun to protect themselves and their family. Quite the opposite. I’m saying they should man-up and stop using the drugs so they can keep themselves and their family safe. (Applies to women, obviously, and zero tolerance for children too.)
But if you know someone who smokes dope or does drugs recreationally, or live near recreational drug users, you have a real reason to fear for your life.
2. You live, work or visit dangerous places
You don’t have to be a criminologist to know there’s a geography of violence. Just go to spotcrime.com. Or use your common sense; they don’t call it “a bad part of town” because Michael Jackson liked it. Every major city also has transitional areas, places where gentrification puts wildly different ethnic, religious or income groups in close proximity. If you live, work or visit places where violent crime is likely to occur, the desire to arm yourself is entirely rational. BUT—
That’s not to say that a concealed carry weapon would make you any less likely to become a target for violent crime. It is, after all, a concealed weapon. You still need to take sensible steps to AVOID violent crime in an area where it occurs. Maintaining awareness, traveling in groups, staying away from groups that look threatening, leaving before nightfall, etc. are all far more important survival strategies than packing heat.
My father used to tell me if you want to shoot ducks, go where the ducks are. By the same token, if you’re a duck, don’t go where the shooters are. Just as removing yourself from illegal drugs is the best way to prevent drug-related violence, staying out of the criminals’ playpen whenever possible is a really good plan. Maybe you don’t want to park that far away from a trendy new downtown restaurant. Or, perhaps, go there at night. Or take that sales job that includes dangerous territory.
A lot of people consider a concealed carry weapon a “parachute”: an emergency device for the most dire of dire circumstances. Take it from someone who smashed his ankle to bits in a parachute accident—sorry, “negligent free fall.” Sometimes the best option is to forget about the parachute and stay away from the airport.
3. You live or work in or near a gun-free zone
Many gun rights groups consider legally mandated gun-free zones “killing fields.” True dat. Spree killers tend to carry out their evil plans in “target rich” environments where they’re not likely to encounter armed resistance (e.g. the Virginia Tech massacre, Columbine, the Lod Airport massacre and the Tyler Courthouse shooting).
In places where guns are banned—airports, court houses, some churches, schools, parks, entire cities—a citizen who believes that they may one day need to exercise their right to bear arms within the gun-free zone to stop mass murder is SOL. Ish. It’s legal for a concealed carry license holder to securely store a gun in their car just outside a gun-free zone. Call it the “maybe not on me but nearby” concealed carry justification.
This rationale also applies/appeals to people working in private businesses that ban firearms on their premises. (ALWAYS check the law—which is currently in flux on the matter in several states.) It’s worth remembering that awareness and strategic thinking are usually more important for personal survival than offensive capabilities. And you can keep and carry other forms of self-protection in many gun-free zones. Or improvise if needs be.
That said, having a child in gun-free school is the emotionally resonant reason to stash a concealed carry weapon outside a gun-free zone. While fires are a more realistic danger than firefights, I get it. Still, ask yourself this: if there was a shooting in my child’s school, would I retrieve my weapon and enter the fray? Should I? Could you, for example, tell the difference between a spree killer and an undercover cop attempting to take down a spree killer? Not to mention vice versa.
For many people seeking a concealed carry permit gives them access to a survival tool which they hope they’ll never have to use. To my mind, that’s fair enough. We shall see what the State of Rhode Island thinks on the subject.