I teach high school English, a profession commonly thought to number among the most touchy-feely. I love books. And if that weren’t bad enough, I’m a professional, classically trained singer, a first tenor. Yes, the highest male voice. One of a few good–and rare–men, sometimes in tights. I regularly don a tuxedo and sing the works of the masters with a symphony orchestra, and I often get paid for singing. I occasionally wear a Renaissance costume — tights and all — and sing madrigals. I’ve been known to shed a tear at the occasional movie, and even during the many years on the police force in my misspent (relative) youth, people, upon learning my job, would exclaim in surprise: “You don’t look like a cop!” They couldn’t tell me what a cop looked like, but they were pretty sure it wasn’t me.
Knowing that background, it’s not hard to understand that people are often surprised to learn that I’m a certified firearm instructor and carry a concealed handgun virtually everywhere. And a spear gun in the shower. OK, so I’m exaggerating a little about the spear gun. Maybe.
This requires explanations, and the occasional trip to the range to introduce a neophyte to the joys and responsibilities of shooting. Those explanations and conversations inspire me to think about why I carry a handgun, and upon occasion, to update and refine those reasons. Occasions like now.
I carry a handgun because:
* I can’t foretell the future. I carry not for the things I can anticipate, but for the things I can’t.
* Evil exists and may confront anyone at any time and any place.
* Self-defense is a God-given, natural, unalienable right.
* There is no gift so precious as God’s gift of life.
* To fail to protect the greatest gift devalues all life.
* My life is worth far more to me, those that love me, and to a just society than the lives of vicious brutes that would take it.
* The lives of the innocent—friend or stranger—are worth far more to me and to a just society than the lives of vicious brutes that would take them.
* Three times in my life I have raised my right hand and sworn a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. I have never betrayed those oaths and never will.
* The Constitution is only paper, a statement of principles and intentions. When the will wavers and when some wish to change, ignore or destroy those principles and intentions for light and transient reasons, only the threat and force of arms will suffice to preserve liberty.
* From time to time, politicians forget their place. The carrying and use of arms by law abiding citizens helps them, gently, to remember.
* A handgun is the most convenient, usual and effective means of self-defense.
* By carrying my handgun, I honor the foresight and wisdom of the Founders in writing the Second Amendment.
* Going armed reinforces and upholds the Social Contract.
* I know that Thomas Jefferson was right:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
That’s why we have a Second Amendment, not for hunting, not for self-defense, but to allow the common man–if necessary–to resist a tyrannical government and always to deter tyranny.
* It demonstrates—day after day—that I am the master of my government, not its slave; that elected officials work for me.
* I am a free man and no evidence of that fact is more meaningful and convincing than that I own and carry the firearms I prefer.
* It sorely vexes those who would enslave me—all of us—through tyranny, soft or hard.
* It reminds them that in America, there are lines no rational, honest politician dare cross.
* It reminds them that in America, there are lines no irrational, dishonest politician dare cross.
* It reminds them that every iota of power they possess is on temporary loan from me and every other American.
* It reminds us all that the whims of the highest politician may not prevail over the Bill of Rights because our will has not flagged and will not flag.
* It is the very means by which an oppressed citizenry may force despots to respect the Bill of Rights.
* Because politicians harboring tyrannical intentions fear armed citizens like a vampire fears a crucifix, it serves to positively identify those that hide behind spin, teleprompters and clever lies.
* Most politicians care about the welfare and continuing existence of individual citizens only in the abstract. Even honorable politicians can do little more than those who only pretend to care.
* Even in our democracy, tyrants are always present and always waiting their chance.
* With this in mind, Hubert Humphrey, one of the most famous and orthodox Democrats of the last century was right–and refreshingly honest and non-partisan–when he said:
“Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be carefully used and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of the citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”
* Those who willingly and meekly surrender to criminals surrender more than valuables; they surrender their dignity and honor; they surrender civilization itself.
* I am old-fashioned enough to think it my duty to protect those who have less ability than mine to protect themselves.
* I could not live with myself for failing to protect a woman in danger. Call it sexist if you must, but if you’re unarmed and under attack, would you really want to call an unarmed, untrained statist? Would Pajama Boy save you?
* I know human nature. Like the Shadow, I know what evil lurks in the hearts of men.
* I know that many criminals experience pangs of conscience. I also know that it does not prevent them from being predators, only that it occasionally causes them to feel badly, for a few fleeting seconds, thereafter.
* I know that sociopaths exist, in greater numbers than most imagine, and that they have no conscience.
* I know that some people really like hurting others. Rarely does one need to engage in psychological navel gazing to understand the actions of predators. They do it because they want to do it, because they like to do it, and some, because it is an intense sexual thrill.
* I know that such people are everywhere, and are for most, impossible to pick out from the mass of humankind.
* I know that such people can be stopped only by the presence of overwhelming and imminent force: the gun.
* I know that living a virtuous life is no defense against such people.
* I know that having a Progressive political and social philosophy not only is no defense against such people, it encourages, helps, even creates them.
* I know that only bullets will stop some predators. Using reason or empathy on such “people” is like the cries of a wounded bird to a carnivore.
* Politicians sometimes speak of a “war on crime.” They have no idea. The streets are the battlefield, and whether we like it or not, we are all the combatants.
* The predators that would carry that battlefield into our homes are usually the most dangerous of all.
* The police have no legal obligation to protect me—or anyone.
* The police simply can’t protect anyone; there are far too few of them and far too many of us.
* When seconds count, the police are always minutes (or in Detroit and many, many other places, an hour) away.
* I accept personal responsibility and live accordingly.
* As an adult, I am solely responsible for my continuing existence.
* As an adult, I am also responsible for the continuing existence of children.
* Accepting personal responsibility encourages me to be continually aware of my surroundings, to be tactically, situationally aware.
* Having situational awareness makes it more likely I won’t ever need to use my handgun.
* My training and experience give me confidence that if I do need it, I will use it effectively and properly, though I will always pray to be fast and accurate.
* It gives me the ability to deter those younger, stronger or more numerous than myself.
* It gives me the ability to defeat those younger, stronger or more numerous than myself if they are too stupid, too drugged, or too predatory to be deterred.
* I know that criminals fear the guns of armed citizens far more than the guns of the police. They should.
* Domestic terrorists and murderers have always been with us. The victims and survivors of Columbine High School (1999), Virginia Tech (2007), Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012), and the Boston Marathon attack (2013)—and I–have no doubt of this.
* In virtually every school shooting in recent American history, the police played virtually no role in stopping the killers. Armed citizens did.
* We are at war with uniquely deranged, blood-thirsty terrorists determined to slaughter Americans on American soil.
* I have no doubt that Islamist terrorists are waiting for their chance, and on American soil. I have no doubt others will soon walk over our open borders.
* I frequent the places (schools, theaters, shopping malls, grocery stores and other soft targets) terrorists long to attack.
* I can imagine few feelings worse than being unarmed when and where a terrorist attack takes place.
* Even unarmed, I would have no option but to attack armed terrorists shooting innocents.
* Armed, I would be able to save at least some lives and stop at least some killers.
* I could not bear the thought that I was less prepared than the Boy Scouts—in any situation.
* It is important to me to know that I can make a real difference when it most matters.
* I appreciate well-designed and made devices.
* Firearms are like fire extinguishers. When one is needed, it’s needed right now, badly, and nothing else will do.
* The discipline of the gun helps to make me a better, more aware and more effective person.
* Thomas Jefferson was also right when, in 1785, he advised his 15 year old nephew and ward:
“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind.”
* Shooting and being a part of the “gun culture” is uplifting and simply fun.
* I recognize that I am the weapon; the handgun is simply a tool.
* Everyone that carries a handgun, without incident, every day, makes a stronger legal and political case for fully honoring the intent of the Founders and expanding Second American freedoms.
* The mark of civilization is not what a man or a people are willing to say about it, but what they are willing and able to do to defend it.
* The battle for liberty never ends. I’ll do my part, symbolically, and if necessary, in fact.
* Foremost, I am an American; I am a free man; it is my tradition and heritage.
* As an American, I do it for no reason other than I want to.