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 signonsandiego.com:
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?