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By Michael Lacheta

Memorial Day weekend was winding to a close, the barbeque was over, all the coals had burnt out and I found myself with my girlfriend on the screen porch watching the rain and thunderstorms that had rolled in as we were finishing the last plate of BBQ for the evening. All our friends had gone home and most of the mess was cleaned up and put away. As we were killing the last few hours of the night, thoughts of the weekend fun and a great holiday started to float around in my mind and, as they always do, quickly turned to firearms . . .

The thought that stuck this night was one that has been there before. I’ve always considered my thought process as more of a “train wreck” of thought versus an actual “train” of thought and tonight was no exception. While we were listening to the thunder and watching the rain and enjoying a few more morsels of flame-kissed meat much to our waistlines’ dismay, the thoughts of our weekend fun and the reason for this great holiday became derailed when I shifted in my chair and felt the weight of the firearm on my hip.

“Why?” was all I could think. We live in a pretty nice neighborhood, a small rural town, with not a whole lot of crime. I wouldn’t call it Mayberry, but Mayberry is definitely not too distant a cousin to our mostly quiet little town.

With our state’s newly-enacted CCL laws, it’s rare that you will find me unarmed, even in my own home. Is it worth it? Do I need to be armed every waking moment? What about all of the OODA loops and the countless hours watching PDN videos? Reading book after book on everything from mindset to tactics? The color codes of awareness and the constant “what-if” scenarios that I play in my mind? (I’d throw the training classes and range time in here too but who am I kidding? That stuff is just plain fun.) The EDC gear? I mean for heaven sakes, I keep tourniquets in all our vehicles. Has my train run off the tracks?

Odds are — statistics are — that I will never have to put any of those things to their intended use. Why do I put myself through all the trouble? Life would be so much simpler without all the hassle and the hours spent. Has all this made me as big a train wreck as my thought process?

My answer was right across the table from me. The storm had begun to clear and the setting sun lit up my girlfriend’s face with the most beautiful light and when our eyes met I knew why all the hours and effort were and still are worth it. It’s the people I love most in this life.

The cold hard truth is that this world can be a dark place and even with a concealed carry license we are the potential victims. We don’t get to choose a time or place to be attacked. We don’t get to pick the weather or situation. Criminals don’t care if we had a bad day and just want to be left alone or even if were just an innocent bystander who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or any other circumstance for that matter.

The only thing that we do get to choose is how prepared we are going to be. What level of skill we will attain and maintain with our firearm. And, in my opinion, most importantly, how well we will use situational awareness and how vigilant we will be at maintaining Condition Yellow.

A saying that has really stuck with me is this, “We do not rise to the level of our expectations but rather we fall to the level of our training.” I whole-heartedly agree. So why would I not do everything in my power to prepare myself for the very real, though statistically slim chance that I may be forced to defend myself or loved ones?

I also came to the realization that I really do enjoy all of these things. Most of the books are fascinating and crammed full of great information. There are so many good training videos and sites out there that I could quite literally spend years watching them trying to soak up all the information. And who doesn’t love a new piece of gear and the opportunity to try it out at the range or a training course?

Chance favors the prepared and many of the things I love to do help me be as prepared as possible for the worst case scenarios. They point me down the right track of defending my own life and in becoming a sheepdog to keep the wolves away. These efforts also make me realize how little I really know and that I have a long road ahead. I must never stop being a student or improving my skills by any means available. All the OODAs and hours, all the reading and trigger time and everything in-between are just all part of the vigilance that is a necessary part of being ready for whatever life may have in store.

So when doubt and statistical logic start to tell me that I have nothing to fear, and human nature tells me that the effort is too great, all that’s needed is a gentle reminder that today could be the day that I’m forced to defend myself or the ones I hold closest to my heart. I can look into the eyes of my family and my friends, of my young niece and nephews and believe, without a doubt, that all my hours and efforts behind the gun haven’t caused a train wreck. I will continue to do whatever it takes to be able to wake up on all of my tomorrows and look into the eyes of the people that make my life worth living. Because today may be the day I am forced to defend myself.

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  1. I completely agree. Some folks reading this might think you’re paranoid. I’m not one of them. Carry on.

  2. Nice. Thanks for this submission.

    I like the emphasis on this:

    “We don’t get to choose a time or place to be attacked. We don’t get to pick the weather or situation.”

    That can’t be said enough.

    And, if I may paraphrase something I read here in the TTAG comments while back:

    We don’t carry because the odds of getting attacked are high, we carry because the consequences are huge.

    • I would add, even though the odds are very low of being attacked, it goes on constantly all over the world, and who can guarantee you wont be the next one in line!

  3. I only wish I could consider “multiple” plates of Barbecue but I keep reminding myself how freaking hard it was to loose the weight so I stop at my allotted calorie limit for the day (life stinks to some degree for all of us…). Back to the subject matter at hand–The amount of training, education etc. will always be subject to debate but I personally do not consider your regiment strange in the least (your poignant reference to the precious nature of Life says it all). That said, I do not train as much as you but do shoot monthly which keeps “me” sharp. The one “absolute” to me, however, is to have a firearm at your disposal at “ALL” times and yes this includes the shower.

  4. nice article. After taking the second 20 hour class that is not required for my state ccl, I just realized I enjoy it. But I also enjoy the feeling of knowing I wont be helpless if the unthinkable and unlikely does occur. At the same time I understand the person who calculates the odds of a violent encounter and decides not to bother with CC. As long as they let me make my choice.

  5. Dan, that was cruel forcing that plate of goodies on us. After seeing that food yesterday on the Moscow eatery, and how they prepared it, and now this! You can mail me some new pants and a belt!
    P.S. And tell my wife it’s not my fault!

  6. I look at this as likelihood and consequences. For most of us the likelihood of needing our “protection” is low but the consequences of not being prepared is huge.

  7. Sometimes I look at my sleeping wife and I know the answer. Its incumbent on me to do what I can to provide the protection she expects and deserves.

    That’s an easy one and it gets to the heart of this issue. All the arguments and statistics in the world will not change the fact that I am supposed to be the provider and protector.

    It is what is.

  8. With my J-frame and an old familiar holster, I have more trouble with my dentures than my gun. I know it’s there, and I can’t find any reason NOT to wear it.

  9. As an armed security officer and bodyguard, I wear a pistol on the job. As I see my daughter walk in and kiss my wife and I goodnight…..I know Why and Who I carry for when I am not on the job.

  10. The author, as are many gun owners, is just aware of the worlds status more than other people, and typically gun owners implement measures that allow them to protect themselves as well as what they care about.

    BTW my BBQ gun is a wilson combat xtac or a M&P 9 depending if I’m at my house or someone else’s.

    • “The only thing that we do get to choose is how prepared we are going to be.”

      It is beyond my comprehension how many people are ill prepared for even the smallest crisis. Their spare tire is flat. No winter coat should their car fail them. Not enough food and water to sustain them for even three days. No first aid kit. The examples are many.

      I’m not talking about once in decade or century weather events, or complete societal collapse. I’m talking just run-of-the-mill bad luck that can happen to anyone.

      I guess they trust that someone will spare them any hardship. What is worse, they expect someone to.

      • I shake my head in bewilderment at the same people you do. There is a LARGE segment of the population that totally clueless as to what to do, if something bad happens. “Bad” can be a flood, a storm, a building fire, an injury, a mugger or a rapist. I have jumper cables, a first aid kit, a poncho, a fire extinguisher and a basic tool kit in the trunk of each car, because I want my wife to have the tools at hand should she need them and I’m not there. A firearm is a tool that I hope none of us ever HAS to use defensively, just as I hope none of us ever HAS to use a fire extinguisher, or perform CPR, or shelter in place during a tornado. But it sure is a good thing to have those options and skills when you need them.

  11. Short of the few really insane States/munis, when on property that you ‘own, manage, or control’ you’re pretty much free to do as you wish vis-a-vis carrying a firearm.

  12. What if, there was A little butter on that bread to roll that corncob on…and an ice cold miller lite to replace that coke with…

  13. Best argument against home carry? Why inconvenience yourself when you can get big F*** Off dogs that love you, but will eat someone breaking in? If they can buy you even 45 seconds of warning you should be able to get to a defense weapon. And 100 lbs of teeth and anger are pretty good at buying time. I mean seriously, what do you think this kid has to worry about at night?

    Absolutely nothing, that’s what.

  14. Excellent post (and I have to admit I do not carry for many of the reasons you stated above).

    Like homeowners insurance, you will rarely meet anyone who has ever got their money back on a homeowners insurance policy but you also will likely never meet anyone who would go through life without paying the premium for a policy.

  15. I love guns, love ’em, don’t know why, but you mentioned girl friend and I was hoping for a picture of that. Even if she’s in a Parka, which I think speaks to your actual topic, if you can imagine, we can imagine, and they can imagine. That process will never end until God collects us all home. Those that wish us harm or evil can only be assumed to be (working to be) one step ahead.

    “Regardless of which selection you make from the above choices it is logical, for your
    minimum level of Security [12], to employ a two-prong Clausewitz-ian [13] strategy, in
    developing a defense. First by considering that 1) the best strategy is always to follow your first
    instinct until you are certain that you are incorrect, and 2) that never can it be assumed that a
    possible adversary is interested in anything other than your immediate and total destruction, and
    that a hope for a negotiated peace is devoid of anything of any promise. To which the author
    also humbly adds: to that which can be labeled “enemy” should always (regardless of any and all
    other contrary experience) also be labeled focused, tireless, fearless, insidious, fathomless,
    relentless and hungry.” TERMS, J.M.Thomas R., 2012, pg. 182


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