Yesterday, I went to Toys R Us. As a regular reader of my own website, I knew that the toy emporium banned guns from their premises out of “an abundance of caution” for “children and families shopping with us.” Just in case I had any doubts whether or not my local Toys R Us was down with the ban, I clocked the sign outside their front door. Yup: “possession of firearms is prohibited on these premises.” So I had to make a choice: stow my XD-M in the glove box or break the law . . .
I am not a lawbreaker. Now that I don’t own a sports car, now that I’ve got a permit to carry a concealed weapon, I no longer fear the long arm of the law tapping on my shoulder. I am transformed! I am . . . Responsible Citizen Man! The One Who Never Parks Where It Is Not Legal to Do So Dude!
My initial response: put the gun away. Barbie and Call of Duty Black Ops await. And then I thought, well, what if something happens in there?
I know: the odds of walking into an active shooter situation at Toys R Us are lower than the odds of hitting the Powerball. This from a guy who only buys a ticket when the jackpot crests $100 million (otherwise, it’s not worth it). A fatalist who reckons if he did win Powerball, he’d probably get bitten by a shark and struck by lightning the same day.
As they say, common sense is not so common. Probably because it’s not so compelling. “It’ll never happen” is nowhere near as potent a thought as “what if it does?” In this case, if I did need my gun at Toys R Us and I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t blame Toys R Us. I’d blame myself. For the rest of my life.
As Glenn Beck and his ilk like to point out, the rights enshrined by the U.S. Constitution are not granted by the U.S. Constitution. They’re guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The rights are “inalienable.” No, Erich Von Daniken fans, they weren’t bestowed upon mankind by aliens. They were given to us by God.
I don’t need local, state, federal or Toys R Us laws to tell me that I have a right to protect my family. To quote Elwood Blues, I’m on a mission from God. Even if we ditch the religious thing, it’s still the same deal. A million years of evolution have hard-wired humans to protect their biological and assumed genetic legacy. It’s absurd to think I’d do anything else.
The question is: how am I going to do it? Armed or unarmed? Generally speaking, I’ve chosen armed. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit. That said . . .
My 19-round Springfield XD-M is only a part of my self-defense tool-kit. It’s not even the most important part. That honor belongs to situational awareness. Does everything look OK in Geoffrey Giraffe’s domain? Any weirdos? Where would be a good place to hide? That’s the kind of calculus that speaks to the sum (some?) of my fears.
So do I “need” a gun for self-defense? That depends on a bunch of variables completely beyond my control.
The most prominent of which is . . . the bad guy. (Armed as I am, I’m not the one out to hurt people.) There are three types of people who might put me in harm’s way at a Toys R Us (excluding bratty kids on skateboards and bikes): disgruntled employees, armed robbers and spree killers.
Of these, I’m most likely to encounter armed robbers. Click here for an example at the Stoneham, MA Toys R Us Express. Click here to read about an armed robbery at the Toys R Us in Vallejo, California, where police shot and killed one suspect. Click here for a Van Nuys, CA Toys R Us robbery involving three teens and a shotgun. Click here to discover a man who secretly lived inside a Toys R Us for seven months—and then robbed it at gunpoint.
And so on. As for the crazies, well, you’d have to be extra special nuts to be a Toys R Us spree killer. But maybe just sane enough to know that you won’t encounter anyone with a gun who can stop you. It’s that “gun free zone” thing that aggravates so many concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit holders—especially when they’re forced to place their children inside it.
Only Toys R Us is not a public school. I had–have a choice whether or not to take my children into Toys R Us. In theory. In practice, a seven-year-old and a 13-year-old are the dictionary definition of pester power. But I did have the option to leave my gun behind. Needless to say, I made the right choice. I left my gun behind.
I didn’t like doing it, and I’ll think twice about shopping at Toy R Us in the future. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do so you can do what you gotta do, later. If you know what I mean.