Question of the Day: What Kind of Man Carries a Gun?

In the course of my average day, I make hundreds of decisions based on my sense of right and wrong. Do I go shooting with my BFF or take my teenage step-daughter to a concert in Boston? Do I tell a writer his work is a PITA to edit, or do I correct his copy and thank my lucky stars that someone with knowledge and passion is willing to donate his time to TTAG? More prosaically, do I let that car back out of that parking space or do I drive past? These are not moral dilemmas. Like operating software, my foundational ethics are up and running somewhere in the background. But there is at least one moment in every day where I contemplate my true nature: when I put my gun into my holster . . .

When you wear a gun, you’re giving yourself the power of life or death over others. It’s a huge responsibility that begs a simple question: can I handle it? Do I have the wisdom and skill needed to use this weapon effectively in a life-threatening situation? Do I have the courage to do what needs doing—and nothing more?

Equally troubling: whom would I act to save? Would I intercede on behalf of a stranger or would I apply a more literal definition of self-defense, only protecting myself and my loved ones?

What kind of man am I?

Despite what the gun grabbers would have you believe, despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, concealed carry license holders do not carry their weapon lightly. In fact, less than 10 percent of people who have an LTC holster a gun on a daily basis. Somewhere deep inside, most licensees aren’t ready for the responsibility of lethal force. They’re scared.

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. But they need to get over it. They should carry a gun to protect themselves and the ones they love. To serve as a deterrent to those who would rip the fabric of our otherwise peaceful society for their own criminal ends. To protect my gun rights by exercising theirs.

As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, fear is the mother of morality. Whenever I carry a gun, I’m frightened that I may have to use it. I’m frightened that I won’t be up to the task. But I am not afraid of my fear. It forces me to check my moral compass and remember my responsibilities to myself and others.

I’m not proud to carry a gun. I’m wary. And cynical. And determined. If you carry a gun, what kind of man (or woman) are you?

comments

  1. avatar Sean says:

    Sadly, what people don’t realize is that every time you start your car, you’re potentially taking the lives of others in your hands.

  2. avatar Phil H says:

    I’m glad you made this post. I think about this question a lot. I am not in the 10% who carry every day, though I could be (unless you’re wearing a speedo, you can almost always hide a S&W 442). Our society is overly forgiving in some ways, and horribly unforgiving in others, and I am afraid that anyone who makes a mistake with a concealed handgun might experience more unforgiveness than forgiveness. That’s still not a reason to keep the gun at home. I’m getting better at it. There may be some chuckleheads out there who think they are Wyatt Earp; but I suspect there are far fewer of them than some of us assume. Wearing a gun is a huge damned responsibility.

    1. avatar Gregg says:

      Our society is overly forgiving in some ways, and horribly unforgiving in others
      +1

  3. avatar michael says:

    When you wear a gun, you’re giving yourself the power of life or death over others.

    I don’t see it this way. You could say the same thing about driving a car. What you are doing, in fact, is giving yourself an advantage (hopefully) over someone who probably doesn’t care if you or your family lives or dies as they attempt to assault you.

    Whenever I carry a gun, I’m frightened that I may have to use it.

    You should get over your fright. If you are really that frightened, you should rethink the entire proposition. Carrying a gun is not a good idea for someone who is emotional, and scared.

    Somewhere deep inside, most licensees aren’t ready for the responsibility of lethal force. They’re scared.

    How would you know that? I’m guessing that it is the other way around. When I go out I am always armed. I walk upright, look people in the eye, and attempt to always be aware of my surroundings. I mentally enact scenarios. I mentally think about options that will preclude me having to be in danger. Being scared and frightened is not part of the plan. Fear is the mind killer, as has been said.

  4. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    Great question, but I’d really like to know what kind of woman carries a gun. Our Pastors sermon this morning was about how fear rules our lives. He said that fear can help or hurt us depending on how we act on it. Some amount of fear can be a good thing, but if you have to much fear it can ruin your life.

    1. avatar Rebecca says:

      Margaret and I are both planning on getting our CCW permits. Then yes, we will carry. How often? Don’t know yet. It’s not about fear, though; it’s about having an equalizing tool.

      1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

        Good for you! I see it just like having tools or emergency equipment in my truck: I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. And when it comes to the life of those I care about, nothing is more important.

        1. avatar Rebecca says:

          +1

  5. avatar miforest says:

    most of us who have a ccw understand that evil is real, and we understand that we have to deal with it if chooses you as a victim whether we like it or not . I can’t at work or parking lot there so Its not like I carry daily .

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    I’m with michael on this one. Carrying a gun is no more of a conundrum than driving a car. Less, really, because a moving car is a projectile, while a holstered gun is just a slab of metal.

    I carry every day, all day. So what kind of person am I?

    Normal.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      That’s a vast exaggeration.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Semi-normal?

    2. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

      The same kid of person who carries a first aid kit in their car. Or knows how to fix a flat. Or has a fire extinguisher in the home. Or who has life insurance. Or health insurance. Or car insurance.

      In other words, a person who understands that s*** happens.

      1. avatar Roger says:

        I really like that – the insurance angle. We spend a few thousand a year (easily) on car and home insurance, first aid, fire extinguishers, etc. All of that to avoid a financial loss. I carry to avoid a loss of life – rather more important than a mere financial disaster, IMO.

    3. avatar bobby b says:

      “Carrying a gun is no more of a conundrum than driving a car.”

      Half of the population isn’t going to be calling the police if they see that I am in possession of a car. I do not face, from half of the population, the automatic assumption that I have a car so that I can run over and kill people who annoy me. If I run into someone with my car, I probably won’t be jailed until I can prove that I wasn’t trying to kill them.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Half the population is a dumb as a box of hammers. Half the population voted for Obama. Half the population would kill their fellow man because they don’t like his religion or color or creed or the shape of his toes. That’s their problem, not mine. Besides, I carry concealed.

        1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

          Don’t worry, Ralph! You are as normal as me, any day of the week! Oh, wait a minute, to quote A Critic from the past, I am a barbarian-sorry…

        2. avatar Rebecca says:

          Up to now I’ve avoided the political talk, and turned away from the anti-Obama blather. I have a lot of respect for you, Ralph, but I’m not stupid. *I* voted for Obama. Less than half voted for McCain, a Manchurian Candidate if ever there might be one, and Palin, a dim-witted moron. I do not want to think what shape this country would be in right now if McCain/Palin were in office.

    4. avatar Rebecca says:

      Pfffft. “Normal” is a setting on a washing machine. Bears no resemblance to Human Beings.

  7. avatar Sam Wright says:

    A person (man or woman) who carries is one who is realistically aware that the cops cannot be everywhere and protect everyone at all times. I am a rugged individualist who takes responsibility for my own safety.

  8. avatar nightowl says:

    I’m one of those that probably carries about 80% of the time. I took on this responsiblity to protect myself and my loved ones and no one else. But yet the person I fear most is not a criminal; it’s the a$$hole with a badge, with a god complex, one who thinks all people are criminals and only he has the right to go home at the end of the day. All one has to do is view the video from Ohio or read about the Vet with PTSD in AZ gunned down by SWAT because he took up black rifle to protect his family.

  9. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

    I was, at one time, a person who did not carry a gun. I was single, and believed (and in fact still do) that (Warning: religious content ahead), that “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”, and nothing I owned was worth dying over.*

    But.

    I am married with a family now, and I cannot make decisions for just myself anymore. To the best of my experience, my family will be better off with me around, and I with them. As I am not living my life just for myself anymore, I must take steps to make sure that life continues for as long as possible. I think it was Massad Ayoob who said that once someone loves you, you give up your right to give up your life.

    * If your interpretation of Scripture is/was different, that’s cool. There’s lots of wiggle room on this one.

  10. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

    Psst, RF, it ain’t just men who carry guns. Some insight from the feminine side of the 2nd Amendment might be insightful here….

  11. avatar HAVEGUN says:

    I carry daily and wear seat belts. Same rational applies to both.
    I’m scared of what might happen if I don’t.

    Seat Belts are easy. Put them on, good to go. When one carries it is after holstering the real job begins.

    All one can do is prepare, sharpen skills and awareness. That is the easy part.

    For me it is fear which is the real unknown. I hope that should the SHTF just being scared enough would conquer fear. A little anger could go a long ways.

    Taking care of me and my own is a given. For strangers? Not really partial to that. Way to much liability and potential financial cost.

    But then again, nothing is written in stone. I still like sleeping at night.

  12. avatar Magoo says:

    I think that people who carry concealed handguns must be more fearful of other people and the world around them than I am.

    1. avatar Rebecca says:

      I think you’re mistaken.

      1. avatar Magoo says:

        Well, I own a number of handguns and I am more than capable of using them. So why don’t I carry? Why do I feel perfectly and reasonably safe without a gun?

        1. avatar David says:

          Ever had someone threaten your life on a very poorly lit street, with no other people in sight, in a bad part of town, at 9:30 at night, for no reason other than you did not respond to his remark in a way that he wanted you to?

        2. avatar Wellington says:

          Well, aren’t you a skilled rhetorician, Magoo. Why don’t you answer your own questions? I hope you know more about yourself than I do since you think you know more about me than I do.

        3. avatar Giao Nguyen says:

          “Why do I feel perfectly and reasonably safe without a gun?”

          Ultimately, your feelings are your choice. Someone who isn’t safe – reasonably or perfectly – can feel safe. Your feelings have no bearings on the reality of being safe.

          I don’t carry a gun to feel safe. I carry a gun to be safe.

        4. avatar Ralph says:

          “Why do I feel perfectly and reasonably safe without a gun?”

          It doesn’t matter. You’re entitled to feel any way you want, as are we. But you don’t have the right to call us “fearful” anymore than I would have the right to call you “oblivious.”

      2. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

        Yeah, Magoo-I am just freaking terrified of my own shadow…

    2. avatar David says:

      I am not afraid of going about my daily business. I just submitted my application for a CHP because the man who threatened me with serious bodily harm a couple months ago had no problem with attempting to intimidate me and make me fearful for my life. If he was not afraid of threatening me, then he may have not been afraid of actually trying to hurt me. I know that 99.99% of people out there will never do anything to try to injure me. I’m not afraid that I will meet Mr .01% ever again. He is not going to stop when I tell him that I’m a nice guy and not “fearful of other people and the world around” me.

      Am I fearful that I will run into him late at night, alone again? No. Probably will never happen again.

      Do I want the ability to prevent him from harming me should he attempt to follow through with his threat, hell yes.

    3. avatar RAN says:

      I don’t think fearful. I think wary of people.

    4. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

      I guess that anyone who has life, home or accident insurance is in constant fear that they will die or their house will burn down or they’ll get into a car accident. I have insurance just in case something bad happens, because chances are I’ll never use them. I’ve been lucky so far cuz I’m still alive and my house has never caught fire and I’ve never hit another car. I also have guns just in case I may need one, but chances are that I won’t use the gun or insurance.

  13. avatar Wellington says:

    This is a good question to ask any day and certainly on a Sunday.

    Count me in with Sean and Michael and their car analogy.

    When I’m getting behind the wheel—with all the micro and macro decisions I know I will make through the day—I’m trying to be aware of the fact that it won’t matter how many times I’d made the right decision. It will take just one wrong decision to undo it all. That’s the nature of our physical existence.

    I try as much as possible to have at least a brief moment of reflection before I turn the ignition key. Do I contemplate my “true nature” when I do it? I don’t know, maybe. I try to be fully present, wary and aware. I ask for grace to keep my luck going because I’ll need it even when I do everything right. I try hard to overcome any false sense of pride and accomplishment based on my acquired driving skills and my past driving record. None of it will matter. The past doesn’t exist in any real sense when you know that in seconds you could hurt or kill the loved ones in your car or strangers on the road.

    I think the humility, wariness and determination with which I try to do it is very similar to holstering a gun. The differences you are describing are real but they seem to come second for me.

  14. avatar michael says:

    A lot of it, maybe most of it depends on where you are. If you live in the country, or a rural suburbia area, where crime is low and people are civil, it may not be much of an issue. I live in a relatively safe area, but it is downtown in a medium size city. My wife and I walk in a park, and there are always ne’er do wells about. We are proactive, crossing the street before encountering a questionable character. We are not out late at night. We stay away from known trouble spots. We have been lucky. But luck is like a lot of things. Soon it always runs out. Yet I am not willing to be a prisoner in my building, and so we must always be prepared.

  15. avatar Mthughes says:

    Kevin, I read a pastor online about concealed carry one time,had many good points

    The best one was Apostles carried swords, did Jesus tell them not to carry swords? Peter cut off a guys ear in the garden. In one part when Jesus sent out the twelve he told them to take a sword.

    Dying because you are a Christian is one thing, dying because your not prepared for evil is another.

    1. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

      I respect the differing viewpoints on this. There isn’t one “right” answer on this, as there are also many exhortations that border on outright pacifism. This falls under “To those that want to eat meat, eat. To those that don’t, don’t”.

      1. avatar Mthughes says:

        I agree, but you might enjoy this site http://www.biblicalselfdefense.com/
        Lots of info on tahe subject

        1. avatar IGB says:

          Nothing wrong with a CCW and the use of force for self defense.

          I would be cautious trying to use the bible to defend it. Bible verses interpreted subjectively can be used to justify many things. Self defense with firearms is violent and if you apply WWJD, the most unlikely answer would be pull your Glock.

  16. avatar Tony says:

    There are lots of reasons I carry. I carry always unless going somewhere with a metal detector that I’m not allowed to carry. I tend to avoid those places. My pistol goes on as a matter of habit just like my knife, my watch, and my wallet.

    1. Not sure of the whole quote or who said it ‘he who has taken a family has given hostages to fate”. Sometimes fate jumps up to bite you in the rear and I mean to be able to contest it.

    2. The advice from Machiavelli, “this before all else, go armed”.

    3. The preacher that said if you allow someone to take your life without fighting you are calling worthless the gift of God, your life. I value my life and my family’s lives.

    4. Just in case. The same reason I wear a seat belt. The same reason I have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. The same reason I wear a helmet when on my motorcycle.

  17. avatar Don says:

    I am a liberal nerd who understands that there exists two governing principles in civilization, the idealistic rules of society and the practical laws of nature. The idealistic rules of society only keep you safe so far as the people with whom you are interacting agree with and respect the rules. You can never know to what extent they do. The practical laws of nature require no such mutual agreement and respect between interacting parties. They do not require that you somehow magically pinpoint the sensibilities of those with whom you are interacting with. The idealistic rules of society are often things that we wish were true but aren’t, and some people choose to delude themselves into thinking that they are for the sake of their own mental comfort. The practical laws of nature are things that are true that we sometimes wish weren’t, and some people choose to delude themselves into thinking that they aren’t. We wish to believe rules like “don’t hurt people” have power over society. They do not. Laws like “strength wins the fight” are uncomfortable to admit but incontrovertible. I am a man who recognizes the power of a law and the impotence of a rule.

    1. avatar Phil H says:

      Well said, sir.

    2. avatar racer88 says:

      Quotable!

    3. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

      Well said.

      There is the world we want, and the world we live in. We must always seek to improve our world, but confusing what we want with what we have always leads to disaster.

    4. avatar Ralph says:

      “I am a man who recognizes the power of a law and the impotence of a rule.”

      You’re also pretty damn smart.

    5. avatar HAVEGUN says:

      Well said.

  18. avatar ThomasD says:

    The thing I fear most, and the thing that limits my carrying is theft.

    Most of the time I spend away from the house is work related. I cannot legally carry into the places I work, so I would need to leave the weapon in the car, and that thought just bothers the heck out of me.

    I really should look into getting one of those mini vaults.

    1. avatar michael says:

      I am in the same situation, but with the car locked and the gun further locked in the glove box, you have taken reasonable precautions. Nothing is foolproof, and one can always come up with an argument against anything. Just don’t argue away your competitive advantage.

      1. avatar Rebecca says:

        Having had my car stolen in 2009, there is no way I’m ever leaving a weapon in the car. Not even in a gunvault. Nuh-uh, no way, no how.

        Do you guys know how easy it is to break into a car and drive it away? Takes less than 30 seconds. And car alarms? When was the last time you heard one go off and call the cops? Or did you just mutter angrily at the car owner and go on about your business?

  19. avatar Leo says:

    I despise evil man, their capabilities to harm those weaker than them are all over the daily news. So I choose to be strong rather than weak and that strength come to me in the form of a glock 32.

    I will fear no evil.

  20. avatar Van says:

    For some reason this topic reminded me of this song that is popular on the radio right now.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ldsF65cLM

    Which refers to this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westroads_Mall_shooting

  21. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    I can’t see how it is such a complex issue! I always carry at least one firearm and a fighting knife and a utility knife. I have had too many run ins with former clients after working in jails, and I see being armed as an extra edge on being able to survive any run in out in the street. I have no problem using my bare hands, but they don’t stop bullets. I know Magoo tries to sell his ability to fight, but you can now go to TTAG’s facebook page and see I am not a 90 pound weakling ( and have an awesome RPK machinegun). I don’t want to die from some punk’s bullet in a grocery store or gas station w/o a fighting chance.

    1. avatar Magoo says:

      That is the exact opposite of everything I’ve said here. At some point you will be able to hear what I’m saying and then we can have an actual conversation. Or you won’t. It’s that simple.

  22. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    I completed part one of the NRA Personal Protection in the Home Instructor Course today. My favorite quote in the manual was about the way in which people carry themselves can either attract or deter an attack. “Look like a sheep and you will be eaten by the wolves” The image that people project often is a primary factor in whether or not they will be targeted as a victim. Criminals are looking for soft targets, and most of them want nothing to do with someone who may fight back.

  23. avatar WoodChuck says:

    Though eloquent, you guys waste words. It is what it is. The world is not what you want it to be or what it should be. It is a harsh and unfair place and life is a war. I will steal someone else’s quote. I carry a firearm for when kind words fail.

  24. avatar Terry says:

    It’s a sad thing, really – to think that we would feel the need to arm ourselves before venturing out each day. But, I’ve reached the age that “I’m too young to die and too old to take an a$$-beating”. And I can recognize that the world that we live in now has very few similarities to the one that I grew up in, but in the same breath I can still maintain the hope that some of the younger generation may still hold some of those same values. Carrying a firearm doesn’t necessarily mean that the carrier has given up hope – it’s just that we realize that not everyone out there holds to the same values that we do, and there’s no use in expecting the best out of everyone that you might bump into while we travel along in our day-to-day journeys.
    BTW, excellent blog – I really enjoy reading it!

    1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      Well put, Sir!

  25. avatar Roman says:

    It’s insurance that you should never be without. I broke down in a vehicle with my family while traveling across country some years back. My weapon came in handy.

  26. avatar Magoo says:

    Ralph says:
    “Why do I feel perfectly and reasonably safe without a gun?”

    It doesn’t matter. You’re entitled to feel any way you want, as are we. But you don’t have the right to call us “fearful” anymore than I would have the right to call you “oblivious.””

    It was never meant to be pejorative. If you prefer, please substitute “concerned” or “distrustful” or any other word that you feel best represents your perspective. I’m only noting that if you carry, you must perceive a greater threat than I do.

    1. avatar AntiCitizenOne says:

      And there’s nothing wrong with perceiving a greater threat than anyone else, as long as you are not a danger to yourself or others.

      Telling lies about our mental states however is a completely different story.

  27. avatar Magoo says:

    David says: “Ever had someone threaten your life on a very poorly lit street, with no other people in sight, in a bad part of town, at 9:30 at night, for no reason other than you did not respond to his remark in a way that he wanted you to?”

    Yes, very close to that. I’ve had at least three episodes in recent years where I felt physically endangered:

    1. Attempted carjacking
    2. Attacked by insane street person
    3. stalked and assaulted by former handyman I fired

    Through these events, I never felt compelled to start carrying because frankly, a handgun would be of little or no use in these cases.

    1. avatar AntiCitizenOne says:

      That’s your decision and I respect that.

      You should probably do the same for mine and everyone else here.

  28. avatar Forester says:

    This is a very complex issue in which there is no “right and correct” answer. To carry or not carry is a very personal choice that must result in your being comfortable with yourself and the mantle of responsibility that you assume when arming yourself. I am an avid hunter and fisherman in my personal life and I’m a forester in the professional world. My choices and obligations both personally and in my profession often result in my being alone in the middle of the back end of nowhere and responsible for my own safety. I have come upon poachers, grows, labs, and stills. The people involved in those types of activities have little regard for the law or anything else that might get in the way of what they are doing. I have also been treed by agressive feral hogs and stalked by coyotes and feral dogs, to say nothing of the venonous snakes that are so common in South Carolina and Georgia. For me a handgun is just another tool that helps me get home in one piece whether I’m in the woods, on the water, or in the asphalt jungle.

  29. avatar jb says:

    Thx for the site, Robert and the op for chatter. I only carry when I’ll be in unfamiliar territory or out at night on a bike or golfcart. I would have no hesitation protecting my life nor that of friends or loved ones if I felt the situation called for it. I have taken the CC course a couple times and my Bersa Thunder .380 is an easy carry underneath an outside shirt or a sweater or jacket. jb

  30. avatar Shaun L. says:

    I’ve had the same general convo several times and thought about the subject at length. When I really look down deep I FEEL like I know who I am based on my past actions as well as how I THINK I would react to a given situation(lost yet?)… it seems like a much better analog to judge myself by.

    As an example…. if the situation involved only myself and “badguy a” I would much rather distance myself from the situation(flee) or at least consider using less than lethal force to end or distance myself from the situation. In other words I believe I’d be more likely to hesitate, flee or fight depending on the specific circumstances rather than drawing/shooting. While I know this isn’t the best tactical approach it’s what my gut tells me I would do. Call me “yeller” all you want as long as I’m alive to hear it.

    If, on the other hand the situation involves “badguy a” and someone I hold dear(girlfriend, any child, family) I FEEL I would be much quicker to decisive action(i.e. use of deadly force).

    I may not be half the wordsmith some of you are but to me it boils down to…. If you touch me I’ll break your nose, if you touch her you’ll wish I’d only broke your nose.

    To some degree that mentality bothers me but to another degree it gives me a strange sense of pride(of sorts). I was raised by men who were MEN and saw that as being a responsibility in and of itself. I was taught to avoid conflict when possible but not to fear it when needed.

    I carry daily and hope each and every morning when I load out that I never EVER have to use that tool, at the same time I feel an almost palpable responsibility to have it at my disposal if the need should ever arise not only for myself but for those around me. I believe one of the main reasons I carry daily is that I don’t know how I would handle the “what if” if something did go wrong and I was unprepared when I had the right tool locked up at home.

    Sorry if that all seemed a bit scattered, just trying to make a long subject short and wondering if others felt similar.

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