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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.

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  1. “With all these life changes came the sobering fact that I could never again instigate a fight with anyone, for any reason.” Hoplophobes have no idea people are capable of that realization.

    • Absolutely. I hate hearing anti-gunners express their thoughts that gun guys are all quick to pick a fight and that carrying a firearm on you gives you extreme confidence such that you will always escalate scenarios and act like a maniac because you have the power of a firearm on you. Why? Because that’s the COMPLETE opposite of the truth, and the vast, vast majority of CCW holders are exactly aligned with the quote you posted, Mark. We AVOID any sort of scenario that could escalate, from potential road rage incidents to arguments out in public (somebody cuts in front of you at line in the grocery store, for instance, or accuses you of doing it. You back down, precisely because you don’t who that person is and a verbal altercation could turn into a fistfight which could turn into that person going for a weapon or your weapon and could turn into a deadly force encounter), like the freaking plague.

      And, this DOES bear out in the numbers. This is precisely the reason that CCW holders get arrested at 1/12 to 1/20th the rate of the general population, and are convicted of crimes and felonies at a very, very, very low rate compared to the general population. In fact, CCW holders are convicted of felonies at a lower rate than police officers! We are a VERY law-abiding group, and it has been proven with multiple studies in multiple states.

      …to such a degree, in fact, that if you have a carry permit you can bypass the security line in the Texas State Capitol building. It is illegal to carry a weapon into the capitol, but by default of you having a permit the State says it trusts you. It says you have been background checked and proven to be trustworthy so, even though you obviously own a weapon, you can bypass the security line because you are a law-abiding citizen AND the State has proven that extensively, as I stated above…

  2. Maturity is a lost art in today’s society. Congrats on yours, and thanks for sharing that journey with us here. Gun ownership is a hard fought and sacred right, and I applaud you on taking it seriously. Everyone should.

  3. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never instigated a fight with anyone for any reason ever.
    And when a situation seemed to gaining momentum toward confrontation I always simply left.
    Is it strange to not go around picking fights and throwing punches?
    With the frequency in which people are always reminding each other not to and the anti’s seem to believe everyone will I sort of think I must be strange.

  4. I was a fighter. Any where, any time, any body.

    Before I started carrying, the last time I almost starred something was over a jackass ganking my parking space in a full lot. My wife was driving and her car has the doors that lock themselves, I grabbed the handle but was stopped by the momentary pause from being locked in (with an assist by the wtf are you doing? From my wife). A while after that, after we had baby boy, I started carrying, it changes your whole mental frame of reference.

    Pull out in front of me in traffic? That’s what I have brakes for. And I million other little slights that just now mean nothing because you are fully cognizant of where confrontations can lead. I will not interrupt you in your obviousness to the kind of ass you are, just do not threaten the health/lives of me or mine.

  5. Congrats, kids and a wife will do that to a fella. If you think your concern for your conduct has changed, just wait until the first time your daughter says or does something bad and you realize she is copying it from you! At about two and a half, my daughter was playing with some toys and she was pretending to cry. I asked her why her doll was sad and she told me in the sweetest little voice ‘the other doll knocked her off the F%&king chair’. It was at that moment I stopped swearing in traffic, at least when my kids were in the car.

  6. Having been young once, myself, this SO familiar. I went through my spell of chronic testosterone poisoning in the SIXTIES, too, for Wotan’s sake. Self-restraint was not viewed as all that admirable a trait in my circles in those days. I actually think the movement for legal CCW is helping produce a cadre of remarkably sane and responsible young folks these days. Another plus the Antis will never acknowledge.

    • The 60’s. What else needs to be said? I made it to California in the late 60’s. That was an eye opening experience.

      • I was on the Haight for the “Summer of Love”, made it to the Monterey Pop Festival, once rode a Ferris Wheel with Janis Joplin. She threw up in my lap.

        • It wasn’t Joplin, but i had a hippie chick that hadn’t mastered the gag reflex yak on me also. She’s no doubt a grandmother by now.

        • I am NOT claiming to have received any favors from Janice Joplin. “Ride the Ferris Wheel” is NOT code for aB.J.! Please!

  7. Appropriate cartoon for the narrative. Words are like bullets, once you say them, it’s impossible to call them back.

  8. Spot on, Aaron. I’ve heard it said men don’t truly mature until almost 30, and marriage and fatherhood help speed that along. I think the responsibility of carrying a gun and being a part of “the militia” helps as well.

  9. I had a similar realization quite recently.

    I was crossing a street at the corner when a guy jumped the light to turn right without looking and almost squished me.

    Scared the hell out of me, so I did what any rational person does when they are scared; flipped him off and started yelling at him.

    He yelled back and things started escalating.

    At that point, a very clear thought ran through my head. A crystal clear statement from myself to myself: “I’m the guy with the gun. I need to be the guy who walks away. Now.”

    And I did.

  10. Carrying a gun for most people acts like a mild dose of anti-anxiety medication. Little affronts that might have caused anger become laughable minor annoyances. Greater insults provide a good reason to just walk away. Only real threats, not imagined ones, are now important.

    Guns give law abiding citizens a boost of confidence in their every day activities. And confident people are calm people.

  11. even before I became an armed citizen, my motto was not to interact with people I was never going to see again, and certainly not participate in a life changing event with the same. Now that I am an armed citizen, I honorably accept the title of “professional chicken” and live to fight another day (and face real problems with nerves of steel).

  12. An armed society truly is a polite society. This is what the English don’t understand. Of course they banned handguns and now England has changed. If you visit Londonistan today it feels like the 5th grade playground. There are gangs of “Young Toughs” on every corner. They jeer at woman and dare you to walk through them. It’s like adults bullying other adults. The brawny characters rule the streets! You just don’t find that in America….. beyond grade school that is. Why? Because behavior like that will get you killed. Too many law abiding people carrying guns. No one can impose their will over you with muscle-power…. as it should be. This works both ways and those who choose to carry must avoid confrontation if possible. Legal guns end thuggery! I say again, LEGAL GUNS END THUGGERY!!

  13. I couldn’t agree more. When I’m carrying, I do NOT want to be in a situation where I have to draw my gun. Walk away is a better solution. I also have an absolute rule that I do not drink when I’m carrying. Not even in a “relaxed” situation when I’m out with family members. I might need to draw, and if that ever happens, I want to be cold sober.

  14. I can relate to you. The first time I shot a firearm, was with my mentor. I was an entitled brat growing up without much male direction in a wealthy bubble of my city. Differing slightly, I, from the get-go, was taught a standpoint of self-defense. Later on during a conversation with my mentor while in college, he said that moment I pulled my first trigger, a visible sense of maturity flooded in. That gentle acknowledgement of life and “playing for keeps”, even in the once seemingly innocuous situations, held fast in day to day conduct , until alcohol worked its way into life. And you’re very right, except by the grace of God went I. Daytime weekday mindset was still on point. Weekend evenings, situational roullete.

    It wasn’t until I purchase my first firearm that I started training, and focusing on the duties I felt I owed the general public to know my weapon, practice using it, and know the law. I still however never forwardly thought about the humility and humbleness I would need to openly display as a member of society who chose to carry a firearm as part of their daily routine. I was ready for the improbable home invasion, or chance mugging. I wasn’t ready for the idiot on the train that refused to passively antagonize me to the point of frustration.

    It was after work on a hellish weekday. So many clients, with so many needs. I wanted to mind my businness and watch the lives of others pass to the soundtrack of the train car. Just one stop after I boarded, so did Lil Wayne’s poor long lost cousin, crew in tow, bobbing their heads to the 808 inspired track playing futilely from the cell phone speakers. Lucky me, I won the asshat proximity lottery that day and said underfunded rapper and crew, sat directly behind me. After an excruciating 2 minutes of somebody with more gold teeth than my grandfather growling, babbling and grunting out of the speakers, I took a deep breath and turned to ask the man to turn off the music. Mind you, as annoyed as I was, this man was a human and deserved respect until proven otherwise. Well it didn’t take long for the man to spat back a kind “F*** you very much but no thanks.”

    I wanted to explode. I’d done everything appropriately. I was powerless to control the man. I mentally ran through my options.

    “No, I can’t intimidate him with my firearm. I can’t slam his face against the plate glass either. Hmm. Maybe I could say/do something snarky. No that might provoke a fight.”

    Sure, some of the situations would require his provocation to violence, but all came squarely back to my decision in that moment. All I could do is get up and leave. I walked to the other end of the car. That was one of the hardest and most conflicting moments as a man I had in my life to date. I’ve adopter my mentors reaponse to these types of situations since that day. Look your antogonist square in the eye and smile, a big ear to ear smile, as they get their way. You come off as impervious, slightly crazy, maybe enlightened. But then it hits the antagonist that you are allowing this, not enduring, because you possess something that trumps the field of force and decidedly wield it maturely.

  15. I’m pleased with the responses to my article so far. It came from a real place of truth and I shared it hoping to give a voice to those who had “learned their lesson” so to speak through the years.

  16. Purchased a new Sccy CBX-2 at Cabelas. Got home and discovered one of the NEW magazines was used and had been filed on at the upper rear of the mag. They will not respond to emails. Wow. Disgusted and now I dont even want the damn thing. Bad bad bad so buyer beware

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