Unless you were already treading down the career path of Anglo-American jurisprudence, you probably didn’t give much thought to American law beyond speed limits, drinking ages, and (perhaps) age of consent for romantic entanglements. But once you strap on a hunk of iron and get through the preliminaries of how to use it, your thoughts inevitably turn to when, and that leads you to becoming a student of the law.
More precisely, it leads you to a spaghetti bowl of code, 20,000+ laws, court cases, regulations, rules, and municipal ordinances, spread across fifty states and a few assorted districts and colonies, much of which is contradictory across jurisdictions, and in some cases contradictory within itself, too.
While I find it hard to endorse the jacked-up firearms regime that exists in my current home, the Wolverine State, at least they have the decency to supply you with a copy of the applicable state laws when they give you your concealed pistol license here. And you’d better read them — nay, not just read, but understand them — because an honest mistake that physically hurts no one can send you to prison on a felony.
Once you get beyond the black letter law, however, the average gun owner enters a Romulan Neutral Zone of “no gun” policies by private entities, judgment calls made by local constabularies or even “Pinks” hired by large corporations. Run afoul of those and you may not lose your freedom, but may experience a variety of negative social consequences starting with public embarrassment (if not for you, then perhaps for your spouse and children,) up to and including termination from your job. Not to mention spending the next few months hoping that your next interviewer is sympathetic to you and the notion of private gun ownership, too, and willing to tamp down objections to your employment based on the fact that you were fired by your previous employer for having a gun at work.
All of the above is true, and I think most gun owners — at least the good guys who carry guns every day — are conscious of all (or most) of the above on some level.
When I think of this, I get a wan smile when I hear someone say that the reason they own or carry a gun is because, “It’s my right.” With all due respect, if that’s your position, I think you’ve put the cart before the horse.
I don’t think it is. I think a lot of the rights talk is empty. Yes, yes, if you’re making a public act of political protest, fine. But for me, the fact that it’s a (kinda, sorta, not really) constitutionally-protected “right” greases the wheels for something many of us were going to do anyway.
There are a lot of reasons to carry a firearm, but make no mistake, it isn’t an easy decision. Further, it’s one that you have to consciously make every time you take one out of the armory and strap it to your hip, because there’s no room for unconsciousness when it comes to carrying a gun.
The reason I carry a firearm is simple:
Because I want to go home safe to my family (and protect them when I’m around). I want to be able to meet deadly force from a miscreant with deadly force.
That’s it. If I’m in a situation where I have certitude that I won’t be attacked, I won’t bother with the effort. If I have to go through a security screening to get to a certain place, depending on the context, I will either submit and disarm or else I’ll stay home.
That depends on the context. Airports tend to fall in the former; sports arenas the latter. Every place else? Well, your ‘no gun’ policy is cute and all, but if you don’t have a mechanism in place to catch me going in, you’re not catching anyone else, either. Try harder next time.
Am I carrying because it’s my right? No. No more so than I drive a car and go to work every day because it’s my right. I have an end I’m working toward with that, and driving a car is just the means. Same reason I have a gun with me. The right part? It just greases the wheels, makes it a little more likely that society won’t hassle me about it.
Call me pedantic if you want, but I state the above because I want perfect clarity with others and with myself as to what I do and why. For my own benefit, mostly. Misdirection and lying to themselves have sent more good men up a certain creek without a mental paddle than all the bad women and good booze in history. And as we fight those who would leave us defenseless simply because they don’t like the social class we run in, clarity to ourselves has to come first. Otherwise we’ll be just as lost as they are.
That’s all. For now.