By Aaron J.
I’ve always been a gun guy. Born in east Texas in the mid-80’s to an oil field family, I was raised in south Mississippi in the community that 5 generations of my clan have called home. My first deer was harvested at age 9 by a thrilling combination of a 7mm Magnum, my vision and trigger finger, and my father’s iron shoulder and nerves of something-tougher-than-iron. Guns are part of the very fabric of my being and culture. I have Mosins and German Mausers and .22 rifles from the early 1930’s, as well as a modest fleet of modern polymer handguns that I don’t shoot as often as I’d like. My point is, firearms come naturally to me, and are completely accepted in my world . . .
A relatively new concept, however, is the use of those weapons for the purposes of self-defense. It can be easily justified why it took me so long to realize the possibility of shooting for non-sporting purposes. My community has a very low crime rate, and, until this year, multiple murders per year in the county were nearly unheard of. When I moved to the big city (population – 60,000) for college, I was introduced to a whole new side of humanity. Murder and rape, while tragic, were just part of the week-to-week life of this new world I was living in. Robbery was something to be concerned about. Doors remained locked; bikes must be chained to the railing if left on the patio. My small town view of the world was inescapably altered.
I survived that newfound jungle by what can only be described as dumb luck. I partied hard, drank a lot, associated with strangers on good faith, and just generally goofed off. Midway through my college years, things got even more interesting. My big brother moved to the city to work. He was a beast of a man – 6’1”, 290 lbs. of collegiate-level offensive lineman who was fiercely protective of his little brother. We were close, and partied together frequently. I exploited his size and strength like an emperor drunk with power. Some dude looking a little too hard at me in the club? All it took was one flippant gesture by me and my brother would haul his ass out with a few other buddies to have a little chat in the parking lot.
Life went on like that for a while. Fortunately for everyone, somewhere along the way I grew up. Married life has treated me well, and just last June, I was blessed with a daughter who looks enough like me that I don’t need to bother with a paternity test. My girls (wife and daughter) have given me yet another new perspective on life and how to live it. A shift in consciousness occurred when I learned that my wife was pregnant. I applied for my concealed carry. I studied for weeks on what would be my best choice for EDC. I practiced with a purpose now instead of pure recreation and pleasure.
More important than how or even what I carried, I had to strive to conduct myself in a dramatically different manner. With all these life changes came the sobering fact that I could never again instigate a fight with anyone, for any reason. I always had to be the first to apologize in a minor dispute. I had to learn to dial my smart mouth down about 4 notches. I couldn’t continue to associate with the people of ill-repute that I had so much fun with in college. Putting myself in these situations that used to be “just good fun” was no longer an option. The only fight I would ever be allowed to win again would be a genuine matter of life or death. On ALL other matters, I had to be meek and conciliatory.
I suppose there’s a point in need of clarification here at the end: the reality of my previous partying years was that it was most certainly NOT “all in good fun”. It was dangerous, reckless, and just plain mean. Bonds were formed and memories were made, sure, but it wasn’t smart and many situations could’ve had dramatically different results had God not been watching out for our ignorant selves. Another point is this: it always perplexes me when concealed carry holders are painted in a rootin’-tootin’, shoot-first-ask-questions-later light. As far as my journey to responsible gun ownership is concerned, I graduated from that immature mindset the moment I decided to carry a gun daily.