By D. A. Nguyen

Growing up the child of parents who relocated to this glorious country from Vietnam, life as a second generation immigrant was a lesson in learning cultural differences, acceptance, and being accepted. My family, like many that come to America, started off as outcasts within our own community. We struggled to find neighbors that understood why we didn’t put out candy on Halloween night, friends that wouldn’t hate us for not knowing to bring gifts to a baby shower, and peers that believed in the same family values we hold so dear.  After a few years, we learned of these new customs and were able to establish long lasting friendships and niche within our community . . .

My parents had trusted friends from work, temple and my siblings and I found friends through school and extracurricular activities. Whenever there was a problem, we were able to count on each other for support and ways to solve it. We protected one another from disappointment, heartache, and anything else that would get in the way of us achieving our American dream. A tight-knit community was our way of ensuring that we survived and thrived in this new land of opportunity.

As I got older I learned to appreciate the gossip that spread within our community. I also realized that those same people that gossiped the most also looked out for us the best. They always knew whose son was playing what sport and which teenage girl was staying out past curfew. They looked out for us and protected us every step of the way.

When I went off to college, there was less of that community around. I felt like my parents when they first stepped foot onto this foreign land. I immersed myself in making friends and establishing my own community in college. But I found that it was more difficult than I thought.

Friends graduated and left. Classmates moved away and got married. I was alone once again and felt unsafe without the comforts of friends and family. After a few years, I too found a wonderful woman and got married. We decided to stay in the town of which we both went to college. It was a town we were familiar with and felt the most sense of security within this community. I had made new friends and found my sense of community once again.

But crime had been getting worse in our town. There were home invasions every week. People were getting robbed at gunpoint as they went out for a night on the town. The judicial system in our town did little to keep us safe. Criminals were let out on parole instead of being incarcerated. We found ourselves trapped in our homes as we were afraid to go out after sunset for fear of being victimized.

In order to feel less unsafe, I decided to travel with a baseball bat in my vehicle. I enjoyed going to the batting cages and it was natural to keep it in my car to protect myself while travelling. One evening after getting off work late, I sat at a red light oblivious to my surroundings listening to the radio. A man opened my car door and shoved a knife in my face and demanded my wallet. I looked for the bat, but it was in the back seat and I couldn’t reach for it fast enough. My only reaction was to step on the gas and take off.

Fortunately it worked and I was able to escape unharmed. But I thought to myself as I drove home, what would happen if I wasn’t able to floor it and make my escape? Worse, what would happen if I was followed home by multiple people with the intention to do me and my wife harm? Take away everything I had worked so hard for?  If we were victimized, the only defense we had was to call 911. By the time they arrived, we would likely be dead. I couldn’t take that chance any longer. Nobody else would keep me safe except for myself. The police were too busy to look out for us. They had their own priorities.

No longer wanting to feel like a victim, I saved my money up for a permit and a handgun. Meanwhile, until I had enough money for a gun, I decided to go to the range and find out which gun would best suit my needs. I rented several and practiced until I could no longer afford to for that weekend. I also took a gun safety course as well.

The day came when my carry permit came in the mail, I had enough money saved up and the local gun shop was having a cost sale. I decided on a fine American made gun with reliability and a name that was trusted amongst gun owners. I bought a Ruger and was supremely happy.

The sense of safety and security felt familiar to me once again. I no longer was afraid to go out for a meal with the wife. We could go to the movies after dark and were not worried about being mugged on the way back to the car. Most importantly I no longer feared being a victim. Being unarmed and a target was no longer as much of a concern. I no longer had to live my life avoiding certain activities at certain times of the day. Now I was free. Free to do what I wanted, to go where I wanted, to be secure when and where I was. I accepted that the only way to be safe was to provide my own safety measures. I was now free to be an American.

21 Responses to FNS-40 Contest Entry: That Feeling of Freedom

  1. My wife and I really appreciated your story sir! We both felt the same way too. A very inspiring story indeed! Thank you.

  2. @D. A. Nguyen, thanks for posting this. Just be careful out there — the gun is not a magic talisman. Just like your baseball bat made you feel “less unsafe,” your carry gun should also make you feel “less unsafe,” only moreso.

    What’s going to keep you safe is situational awareness, staying away from stupid people, places and things, and having a mindset that will allow you to ventilate a bad guy doing bad things.

  3. Good story!! I have signed up for a CCW class this weekend and will soon be among others who have the right to carry where ever I go…some limitations of course.

  4. Maintaining constant situational awareness will go a long way toward anticipating and avoiding or deflecting imminent or potential threats, armed or not.

    It is a learned skill, just as is armed self defense

  5. As the grandson of immigrants, I was the first in my family to own a gun. This God-given right is the very foundation of what makes us distinct as Americans. God bless you and your family!

  6. Great story!

    Good move, going from the bat to the firearm.

    If you have a bat for self defense and you’re willing to bludgeon some with that bat, you are admitting two things…

    1. You recognize the possible need for a weapon in self defense.
    2. You’re willing to hurt someone, or to end a life, if forced to do so.

    At that point why not just get a gun?

  7. Great story and good choice on the handgun. I was out of shooting for 15 years and had sold all my firearms until last December. Feeling the same as you, on New Years Eve I purchased a Ruger SR as well. I now am up to 9 firearms of various types and many on my want list. I practice, study and read on the subject constantly. 15 years after getting out of the service I found I was extremely out of practice and needed a lot of refresher training as well as new training.

    Keep an open mind and find what works for you. Take in everything. But remember that the weapon between your ears is better than any on your hip.

  8. Thank you for coming to this country. I hope we who were born here can live with insight and commitment to match yours. I am so proud to have several first-gen immigrant friends – the best, boldest people. They never seem to resent that I got for free something they had to work & risk for.

    I’m sorry about the knuckleheads. Really, many of them just don’t know any better – don’t know what it’s like where Leviathan is all, the rule of law is weaker, opportunity smaller, or the melting pot less open. I know it’s an imposition, but maybe you can help the rest of us remind them?

  9. Thanks for your story. I enjoyed it a lot. To my way of thinking, you did exactly the right thing when you fled the knife-wielding s.o.b. I’m glad it turned out the way it did.

  10. I had a good friend for many years; she was first generation from Vietnam; her father worked as a contractor and her mother ran a corner Vietnamese food store; my friend and her two sisters and one brother have two Bachelors and two Masters between them and living the upper middle class American dream.

    My friend and myself went out to the gun range many times; she became quite proficient at shooting a hand gun as well as a long gun. Yep; true Americans, I wish there were more people born in this country that would understand the incredible opportunities available to those that work hard and get a good education; and the freedom to KABA denied to most of the people on this planet.

  11. Wonderful to read your story and thank you for sharing it with us. My wife came here from Asia and she too enjoys the freedom here that she could not enjoy at home. She loves to go shooting and has more confidence in her ability to protect herself. I have also experienced the cultural differences you mentioned thru her eyes. We have a pretty tight group of friends made up of other married couples with Asian spouses, and we also look out for each other, so I could relate very well to your experiences.

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