As I ponied-up to the counter at Lone Star Tobacco, a large gentleman approached my six with single-minded determination. “Can I take a picture of you gun?” he asked. “It’s the first open carry I’ve seen in the wild.” “Of course,” I replied as the adrenalin rush slowly subsided. A few minutes later, Rhonda and I basked in the sun outside the shop, a T52 fueling nicotine dreams. I asked the pistol peeping paparazzo, now seated nearby, why he doesn’t open carry . . .
“I don’t carry,” he confessed in heavily accented English, “I’ve got a terrible temper.”
I nodded. We agreed. A man’s gotta know his limitations. That said, the Haitian-born cigar aficionado confessed that he keeps a Mossberg shotgun at home, and he’s ready to use it,
“A man’s got two jobs in life,” he said, waving his cigar like a music conductor, “provider and protector.”
I’ve never had problems winning bread. Thanks to good luck, hard work and sensible investing I’ve managed to feed, house, clothe and educate four girls. Although I discovered the reason why divorce is so expensive — it’s worth it — I’m still standing, financially speaking. Still providing. Aide-toi et le ciel t’aiders (heaven helps those who help themselves) as my nouveau ami pronounced.
Heaven knows I assumed the protector role late in life. Oh sure, I protected my progeny from accidents and ill health. I bolstered their confidence and cushioned them from psychological setbacks as best I could. But I never thought about the potential need to personally defend them against violent attack. For whatever reason, part cultural, part personal, I lived in condition white.
My wake-up call came late and backwards.
Most Americans raised in anti- or non-gun home come to gun ownership after they realize they need a weapon to protect themselves and their family. I bought my first handgun because I thought guns are cool. (Still do.) And then I started thinking about what I’d do with my gun if I had to defend myself or my family by force of arms.
As I trained in armed self-defense, as I connected gun ownership with my Jewish heritage, I developed a full appreciation of the dangers I’d ignored. I realized that my previous defenselessness was more than blindness; it was selfish. What would my various children do if I was murdered? What if they were attacked?
And so I jumped over despicable hurdles to get my Rhode Island concealed carry permit. I moved to Texas, where I continue to train and carry a firearm wherever it’s legal to do so. While there’s no way to predict the outcome of a violent encounter, I’m ready to do my best to protect myself and my loved ones from violence. With a gun. Only I can’t . . .
Two of my daughters live in the “gun-free” UK. My ex-step-daughter lives in the Caribbean. The daughter who remains in my direct care isn’t old enough to carry. Every weekday I drop her off at a “gun free” school. “Run or ambush,” I say. “Love you.”
I’ve taught all my children to be situationally aware and discussed non-gun survival strategies. That’s all I can do. That’s all they can do, for now. Meanwhile, a father carries. A father worries. More than that, my lady love lives two-and-a-half hours away and doesn’t carry a gun. Yet.
Rhonda’s journey to concealed carry has taken two years, from our first date at the American Shooting Center to last year’s concealed carry class at the Athena Gun Club. It’s not over yet. Although she’s finally had her fingerprints taken for her Texas LTC, Rhonda’s still contemplating if, how and when she’ll carry.
If I could be with Rhonda all the time, I would. But I can’t. For much of our time we lead separate lives. So I urge her to find a way to carry a gun for self-protection; for herself, her children and me. Thankfully, for Rhonda’s safety and my peace of mind, she’s listening. She knows I can provide but I can’t always protect.
“A woman has to know her man’s limitations,” Rhonda said recently, placing her Ruger LCR by the bedside. By the same token, a man who loves a woman should encourage her to keep and bear arms. Gently, positively, relentlessly. Same for his family. After all, when seconds count, the police aren’t the only ones who may be minutes away.