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Two nights ago, my daughter’s boyfriend asked me “Why do you carry a gun?” I told him I had the right to protect my family. Wrong answer. My “right” wasn’t in question. Nor should it be. It’s enshrined in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Says so right there: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Infringe as in “to limit or undermine.” So the Rhode Island concealed carry application process, which asks me roughly the same question as my first born’s squeeze (and a bunch more besides), violates my constitutional rights. But it’s still an excellent question. The correct response: “I have an obligation to protect my family.”

To which many gun rights groups would add “and myself.” Same thing. The survival of my favored genetic legacy (both blood and adopted) is my prime directive. I can’t protect my family’s interests if I’m dead.

So I do what it takes to make sure I can do what it takes to make sure my loved ones live, and live well. My home-defense handgun is a means to that end: a tool to help me protect my family.

While the vast majority of Americans understand, appreciate and support the idea of owning a firearm for self-defense, there are those who would limit it to home defense. Defend your castle with a firearm? Go for it. Carry a gun outside your home? First prove that you have a “special” need (e.g. carrying large amounts of cash or the recipient of a specific and credible death threat). Otherwise, fuhgeddaboutit.

That’s how it is here in Rhode Island, a “may issue” state. And California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Not to mention the “no issue” states, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The Supreme Court’s recent McDonald decision recently struck down Chicago’s handgun ban. But it singularly and spectacularly failed to address Windy City residents’ right to bear arms outside their home. In fact, the Court’s affirmation of “reasonable” firearms restrictions more of less upheld Chicago’s—and thus Illinois’ and Rhode Island’s—proscriptive concealed carry laws.

Post-McDonald, if a Chicago resident holding a legally registered firearm puts so much as one foot outside their door, even onto his porch, they can be arrested, fined and jailed. Here in the Ocean State, I face the same penalties if I take one step off my land whilst armed.

Where’s the sense in that?

Does the right to maintain effective self-defense begin and end on your doorstep or your property’s perimeter? Common sense suggests that the right to bear arms is a hundred times more important out there. Beyond your “castle walls.” Where the real monsters live.

Every day, gun violence strikes someone down in this country. Most of the time, it’s gang-related. Illegal drugs account for the next largest chunk of the poisoned pie. Avoid gangs and illegal drugs and you reduce the threat to your safety a thousand-fold. Yes but . . .

Check out Women dies saving granddaughter at

Sharrel Blankenbaker, 63, sacrificed her life last week when she stood up to an armed kidnapper who was pulling Cassidy into his truck at an Amarillo, Texas, gas station . . .

They stopped at a Love’s truckstop and store for drinks and a bathroom break. It was when they were walking back to their car that an overweight man in a cowboy hat and boots jumped out of his pickup and latched onto Cassidy’s wrist.

“He pointed a gun at me and told me, ‘Get in my truck.’ My grandma wouldn’t let him,” Cassidy said.

Her grandmother got in between them, yelling at the man to get away.

“He shot her, and I had gotten my arm loose from him. And I started running away, but he chased me,” Cassidy said.

Her brother, who had already carried his younger cousin to safety, came back for Cassidy. They ducked behind the counter of the gas station.

Then another man came in, frantically looking for his daughter.

The kidnapper had her. He had forced her into his pickup as she was walking along the road with a friend.

After relaying a description of the truck to 911, Potter County sheriff’s deputies pulled over Gary Don Carner, 58, who died in an exchange of gunfire. His 11-year-old captive was able to flee from the pickup and jump into a ditch.

Earlier that night, Carner had failed in attempts to kidnap two women.

This tragedy is statistically irrelevant. You can round down the chances of a random perp kidnapping your/my child at a gas station to zero. If you want to take an effective step to keep your children alive, teach them to buckle their seat belts whenever they get in a car.

Also, who’s to say that Granny could have used a handgun successfully? She may have shot her granddaughter by mistake. Or someone else’s kid. Hell, they all could have died in a gunfight. Not to mention the fact that her granddaughter might have shot herself accidentally before the family members even hit the road.

The average concealed carry handgun owner understands these risks. Some, like myself, train to minimize them. But we’ve decided to carry a gun on our person because we want the power to defend ourselves and the ones we love against out worst nightmare. As is our right.

At the moment, I’m restricted to home carry. Later today, I’m going to write a letter to the Providence Police explaining why I want a license to carry a concealed weapon. I still don’t know what to write. The truth: I want to protect my family against the unthinkable. How do you explain that without sounding like a nut?

The “worst case scenario” justification should be enough to guarantee the exercise of my constitutional right. But will it?

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  1. At the moment, I’m restricted to home carry. Later today, I’m going to write a letter to the Providence Police explaining why I want a license to carry a concealed weapon. I still don’t know what to write. The truth: I want to protect my family against the unthinkable. How do you explain that without sounding like a nut?

    The supreme (and infuriating) irony of that situation is that the police chief who reads this application likely packs a weapon wherever he goes and for the exact same reason that you desire to do so: To protect himself and his loved ones.

    Oh sure, he might say that he's carrying it in case he needs to back up one of his officers, or in order to affect an arrest, but let's get real: Unless it's a podunk police department with 3 sworn officers, the Chief himself isn't backing up or arresting anyone, any more than General Petraeus is going to be kicking in doors in Afghanistan.

    And that, IMO, should be the real impetus behind "shall issue" concealed carry. Because "may issue" laws, or laws that require non-law-enforcement applicants to state a "good reason" to carry concealed divide the population into two groups: Those who are allowed to be armed because they are special, privileged, and politically favored; and the rest of us riffraff who can't be trusted with guns. Such a situation may be common in parts of the world where there is no such thing as the US Constitution, but in our country, the politicians govern with the consent of the governed.

    Government officials (to include the police chief) are civil servants, not civil masters.

  2. Zealot makes some great points! However, no matter who point you make, or how eloquently you write them, if the Chief says "no", then it's a "no".

    • Then it’s time to elect a new Chief or other Government officials. Start at your local levels and move up and state the reasons loud and clear. It worked in 2010 in D.C.

  3. What we do for safety's sake is often more a response to culture and society than to reason. I wear a helmet and padded gloves when I bike and did so when I used to ride a motorcycle, but I see plenty of people bike without a helmet, and used to read diatribes against helmet laws in motorcycle magazines. But no one minds if I wear a helmet or padded gloves – on a bike.

    I suppose I'd be even safer wearing a helmet and knee and elbow pads in the car, and making my family wear them, too. But everyone would think we were odd. I could also wear a helmet and pads while walking around the streets, too, because many of the auto drivers and cyclists certainly aren't looking out for me. Even though people would have no fear that my helmet and pads would accidentally hurt them, I'd probably get branded as some sort of kook, or at least eccentric. All for trying to be a little more safe.

  4. “Why do you carry gun? Are you paranoid? Do you EXPECT trouble?”

    These are common questions we dedicated adherents to the 2nd Amendment face. My answer contains the same point you make about having an obligation to protect your family; I wear a seat belt not because I’m paranoid or expect to get in an accident. I wear it because I owe it to my children not to die in the unlikely event that I find myself in one. Ditto for smoke alarms. I don’t HOPE my house catches on fire, but what kind of husband/father would I be if I allowed a situation to exist where I didn’t minimize the likelihood of calamity in the wake of catastrophe?

    Like car accidents and house fires, there exists the potential for scenarios where carrying a gun MAY represent the difference between a bad experience and an awful tragedy. Like wearing seatbelts and checking batteries, I remain vigilant about minimizing the risks posed by such threats. I also drive carefully, don’t keep open solvents in the house and avoid places where the likelihood of a dangerous encounter are multiplied. Isn’t this all common sense?

  5. Robert, What if your gun, god forbid, ended up being misused and harming someone in your family. You don't deny that that happens, do you? Would you still be able to say what you did about "right" and "obligation" and all the rest?

    • I think it is a matter of judgment whether the risks of owning and carrying a gun outweigh the risks of going about unarmed. In settling North America there was certainly great risk from large animals, from poisonous animals, from the natives that we were displacing and from the general lawlessness of some areas. The many casualties to settlers from gun accidents – second only to disease – were accepted because the idea of going about unarmed seemed worse. In many places that equation changed, though not everywhere.

      At present, and throughout my life, I'd have to say that the risks of carrying a gun outweighed the benefits. But I see changes coming, so IMO Robert's preparations may well be worth it in the long run.

    • If you car got in the wrong hands and it killed a family would you stop driving or would take personal responsibility? You trained to drive a car and so must you train to own/carry a gun.

  6. Robert, I have read this post more than 20 times in the past year and a half. I’ve spent a great deal of time cconsidering whether to apply for my permit to carry in Rhode Island. I have contemplated it for 10 years, since I first moved into the state; but my circumstances have changed and I now have the obligation to protect and defend not only myself but a fiance and 3 girls, my family. I have been around guns my whole life, been a military member for 18 years, but I have sat down to write that letter over a dozen times and still can’t think of what to say! What it comes down to for me is that I have taken every reasonable precaution to protect my family except this last one, the last resort of having and bearing a firearm for protection. I have carried a firearm in the line of duty; I have trained officers and led men on the battlefield; I have fought for the freedoms for all Americans, yet I have been daunted by the writing of a letter that justifies my “need” to carry a pistol. I hope to never have to use a pistol in self defense as I KNOW that its use changes your life forever. However, to not have a pistol if one is needed is a situation that I am no longer willing to accept.

    What did you finally write? Could you please share and let us know if your application was successful? Thank you.

    p.s. I just finished the first draft of my letter. It’s so wordy that I can’t send it in as is. But I’m sitting here feeling like I have to justify every little decision that I have ever made on the battlefield and in my life regarding firearms and that the summation of all of those little decisions, all of those little facts, all of my experiences to date are the justification as to why I feel compelled to carry a firearm in order to protect myself and my family.

    Please feel free to comment back to my email if you don’t want to post back your letter. I just really am looking for guidance.

  7. Tom

    What did you come up with for your letter, I too have been working on this for quite some time now & have not been too successful at coming up with more than basically that it is my 2nd Ammendment Right.

    • Tom and Mark
      How did you make out? I too have been putting it off ,but now have a family and will do everything in my power to protect. If you have anything that would help me I would love to hear it.


  8. Long time reader of this site and just now seriously considering a RI CC permit and see that I’m not alone in having trouble writing my “need” letter in this, supposedly, “shall” state.

  9. If you live in a place where you do not have the right to defend yourself, you should move. Anybody in office should be voted out, next election. If I lived in a place that more than 50% of the population did not belive in the right to bare arms and self protection I would again move.

  10. Protecting your family is indeed important nowadays, so having an effective but responsible method would pay off. A concealed firearm may be difficult to get used to, but with enough training, I can manage to get used to it and protect my family. I’ll go and look for any places that have permit to carry classes so I can start my training.


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