If It Is To Be,
It's Up To Me:

The Little-Known Backstory of the United States Concealed Carry Association

If It Is To Be, It's Up To Me:

The Little-Known Backstory of the
United States Concealed Carry Association

Chapter 16:

And Now We're Back Where We Started

Roy: Tell me some more about your Dad.

Tim: Dad was diagnosed with ALS in 2015.

Roy: Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Tim: With ALS, you either suffocate to death or you starve to death. Dad was an aggressive eater, so he suffocated to death. But that’s what happens, and it usually takes about two to four years.

So, in 2015, I knew I would have my dad for maybe a couple more years, but I also knew that I would have him for only a couple more years.

Dad lived long enough to see the USCCA become what we had dreamed it could be. Then he passed away right after I got that FedEx letter from the NRA.

Dad died 22 months after his diagnosis.

Roy: You got that letter before your dad died?

Tim: [Nods his head yes]

Roy: I need to make a phone call. I’ll be back in a few minutes.

[Six minutes later] Are you ready to wrap this up?

Tim: We had just built this beautiful headquarters building. Up until that point, all of our offices were in crappy little business parks. Everything was always on the cheap. But finally I decided, “We’re going to build the headquarters building our members expect us to have.” So we built it and moved in, and all the employees were there, and Mom brought Dad down, and he was at that point where he had to wear a pressurized face mask that makes it easier to breathe. He hadn’t started the morphine yet, which takes away the anxiety from not being able to breathe.

So he was really struggling with that. He never wanted to be seen wearing it, so he would take it off and pretend it didn’t exist. He came hobbling into the office, but I had already asked Mom if she thought it would be all right if I got him one of those high-tech electric wheelchairs because he was such a prideful man that he never wanted … he wouldn’t even tell his brothers and sisters he had ALS.

Mom said, “You know what Tim? I think he would be OK with it.”

So I got him the best of the best. It had a little joystick, and it could go like 15 miles an hour and it was black. Very cool. I hid it in the cafeteria.

When Dad came in, I said, “Hey, Dad, totally up to you. I understand if you don’t want it. I can help you get around. But I got you this cool wheelchair. You want to check it out? It’s a hot rod.”

“Yeah, Tim, I’d like that.” [Laughing]

I’m telling you the look on his face as he tooled around that office … he was going so fast we could hardly keep up with him. We had over 100 call center agents watching him while they were on the phones. He was so proud.

He died three weeks later.

Roy: Tim, tell me again about what happened to your Dad’s nickel-plated .357 that made you feel so safe when you were out in the woods?

Tim: Dad could barely talk, and he had this recliner in the living room, and he motioned me over to him, and then he took his mask off and made a signal to Mom, and she went back to their bedroom. When she came back out, I knew exactly what it was. It was-

Roy: She was carrying the gun?

Tim: Dad was always a frugal man, so, yes, on certain things, he would get the best of the best, but with everything else he was very frugal. So he had this beautiful nickel-plated Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum in this custom-made cowboy holster with one of those belts that had all the little loops for the ammunition. But he stored it in this … it was a hard case, but it wasn’t made for a gun. It could’ve been, I don’t know, for a hair dryer or something.

I remember when Dad would bring the gun out, it was always in that strange hard case. But as soon as Mom came out of the bedroom carrying it, I thought it was the most precious thing I had ever seen. I looked at Dad and he looked at me. He couldn’t say the words, but Mom put the gun in his lap, and he held it out to me with both hands. And he had a look in his eyes that I will never forget

Roy: No words?

Tim: His eyes and his hands said, “This is for you, son.” He couldn’t talk, and I couldn’t either.

Roy: I’ve only got one last question: do you keep it in that weird hair dryer hard case?

Tim: You better believe I do.

The Constitutional Right and Social Obligation to Carry a Gun
By Robert Boatman
Reprinted in part and by permission of BoatmanBooks.com


There’s an old wisecrack, true as witticisms, proverbs and aphorisms usually are. It goes like this: Funny the things you see when you don’t have a gun.

Suzanna Gratia (now Gratia Hupp) was having a pleasant lunch with her parents in Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, when she saw a pickup truck come crashing through the wall. A man armed with two guns and plenty of spare magazines emerged from the truck and started shooting everyone in sight, including Gratia’s mother and father. Al Gratia was shot fatally in the chest. Ursula Gratia was shot point-blank in the head. More than 20 other people in the cafeteria were murdered in cold blood before the killer turned one of his guns on himself and blew his own brains out.

Suzanna hid under a table, clutching her purse, which normally contained a .38 revolver. In deference to Texas law at that time, which prohibited carrying concealed weapons on one’s person, she had left her gun in her car. Several more dead diners had guns legally and inaccessibly locked in their cars. Suzanna Gratia Hupp has vowed never to make that mistake again, though such pronouncements always come far too late.

“The decision to follow the law cost me the lives of my parents,” she says. “There is not a day that goes by when I do not think about that.”

Not long after the Killeen massacre, John Taylor and Craig Godineaux knocked on the locked front door of a Wendy’s restaurant in New York City. They called out to the manager, Jean Dumel Auguste, by name. Taylor was familiar with the operation and layout of the restaurant, having worked there for a short time before he was dismissed for theft. The manager opened the door for Taylor and Godineaux and led them to his basement office. Minutes later, he used the store’s intercom to summon his entire night crew of six employees down into the basement for a meeting. What followed was one of the worst massacres in New York history.

The two armed killers herded all seven Wendy’s employees into a walk-in refrigerator, bound their hands, gagged their mouths, covered their heads with plastic bags, ordered them to kneel on the floor, and methodically shot each person in the head with a small-caliber pistol at point-blank range. They then stole about $2,000 in cash and left. New York law and Wendy’s corporate policy had prohibited the victims from arming themselves.

All of the people involved in these incidents were, in a profound way, responsible for their own deaths or the deaths of loved ones. They were equally responsible for the deaths of innocents who dared associate with them and, by abstract extension, for the deaths of everyone ever killed in similar circumstances. Anti-gun laws and policies are always complicit in the execution of innocents. And it’s appropriate that survivors are always ashamed of their inadequacy.

In the final analysis, to face evil with impotence — whether out of cowardice or feeble-mindedness or submission to foolish laws — could well be responsible for the death of society.

Suzanna Gratia Hupp decided to fight back. She set out to change the foolish laws. She turned her anger on her legislators who had “legislated me out of the right to protect myself and my family.” She joined the crusade for the right to carry concealed weapons in Texas, and she ran for the state Legislature. She was successful on both counts, though not in time to save the lives of her parents.

Today, Rep. Hupp has some harsh words for those gun-control fanatics who come out of the woodwork every time there’s a mass slaying like Columbine: “Why is it that mass shootings now seem to always take place in schools and post offices, places where guns are not allowed? They’re always in these so-called gun-free safety zones.” Like Luby’s Cafeteria.

Five Wendy’s employees — Ramon Nazario, Anita C. Smith, Jeremy Mele, Ali Ibadat and Jean Dumel Auguste — took their shame to their graves. There was no good reason on earth why it had to end that way.

A scenario almost identical to that of Wendy’s in New York began to unfold at Shoney’s restaurant in Anniston, Alabama. Two armed robbers took over the restaurant, which was filled with two dozen customers and several employees, and started to herd everyone into the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator. But, this time, a smart employee, Thomas Terry, drew his concealed .45 and shot both of the bad guys before this particular mass execution could take place. In a matter of seconds, one criminal lay dead, the other incapacitated, and more than two dozen innocent people had been handed back their lives thanks to a man who had a gun and was not afraid to use it. Thomas Terry, bleeding from a grazing wound to the hip, was happy to play the hero with so many lives at stake.

And still they ask, “Why do you carry a gun? What are you afraid of? Do you think some nut is going to drive through the wall and start shooting everybody? Do you think a couple of hardened criminals are going to shove you in the refrigerator and execute you?” To which you can only reply, “Do you think when you walk out of here and cross the street, you’re going to be hit by a truck?”

Only when the custom of carrying a gun once again achieves its deserved high level of social legitimacy and political priority will this country get back on the track of respect for human freedom and dignity that has set it apart from the rest of the world for two centuries…

In the beginning, weapons grew on trees.

In the lost paradise of our species, every man, woman and child was armed to the teeth with the finest state-of-the-art killing machines society could produce, and all was well. As man grew more sophisticated and his weapons grew even more effective at protecting weaker citizens from stronger ones, the first evil caveman genius saw that, as a precursor to the enslavement and destruction of his intended victims, all who would dare resist him must first be disarmed. In the name of peace. In the name of social harmony. In the name of common sense. To save the children…

Whom are we to trust with our lives and our liberties, other than ourselves?

Carrying a gun is an absolute right. The Framers of the Constitution were under no pressure from the NRA when they wrote “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed. The right of the people TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS shall NOT be infringed. The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED…

The Constitution of the state of Pennsylvania (adopted Sept. 28, 1776) allocated more words to make the point even more unmistakable: “XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

The Second Amendment, like most other articles in the Bill of Rights, was adopted from the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which, in turn, was based on centuries of English Common Law. English jurist Sir William Blackstone observed that the English Bill of Rights clearly meant that Englishmen possessed “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense” and that “having arms suitable for their defense” was one of the five auxiliary rights people possessed “to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights,” the first of which is “personal security.”

The great Roman philosopher and senator, Cicero, immortalized armed self-defense as an “inalienable right” more than 2,000 years before the U.S. Constitution did so. Cicero said:

There exists a law, not written down anywhere but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading but by derivation and absorption and adoption from nature itself; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.

Even people to whom armed self-defense is but a remote abstraction often endorse, without even realizing it, the unquestionable principles underlying the right to carry a gun. Jaron Lanier, writing in Discover Magazine (February 2001) said in reference to new copyright-protection technology, “In a democracy, citizens are supposed to act as partners in enforcing laws. Those forced to follow rules without being trusted even for a Moment are, in fact, slaves.”

Even the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize and all, said in May of 2001 during a speech about “nonviolent resolutions to conflict” to 7,600 Oregon and Washington high-school students, “But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” So said the Dalai Lama.

There are criminals among us who are both homicidal and incorrigible. Their parents took a shot at civilizing them and failed. Their schoolteachers took a shot at them and failed. The odds are overwhelming that government welfare programs and penal institutions took a shot at them and failed. If it ever becomes your turn to take a shot at them, don’t fail.

Carrying a gun has always been both a right and a duty.

There have been many societies in which not carrying a weapon was a serious and severely punishable crime. This was true in Greece, Rome, Europe, Britain and, though seldom enforced, is still true in certain places in America today. This is as it should be. A citizen who shirks his duty to contribute to the security of his community is little better than the criminal who threatens it, and is better off living in a society that places lesser demands on his capacity to accept responsibility. As cowards from the Vietnam era discovered, that’s what Canada is for.

English scholar Granville Sharpe, who helped bring about the abolition of slavery in England and supported American independence, wrote in 1782 that “no Englishman can be truly loyal who opposes the principles of English law whereby the people are required to have arms of defence and peace, for mutual as well as private defence … The laws of England always required the people to be armed, and not only armed, but to be expert in arms.”

In 1785, William Blizard, chief legal advisor to London’s mayor and city council, stated that “the right of his majesty’s Protestant subjects, to have arms for their own defence, and to use them for lawful purposes, is most clear and undeniable. It seems, indeed, to be considered, by the ancient laws of this kingdom, not only as a right, but as a duty…”

Commenting on the early legal requirement that every American male and every American household be armed, attorney Don B. Kates says that citizens “were not simply allowed to keep their own arms but affirmatively required to do so.” He further says that these statutes reflect the classical world view that “arms possession for protection of self, family and polity was both the hallmark of the individual’s freedom and one of the two primary factors in his developing the independent, self-reliant, responsible character which classical political philosophers deemed necessary to the citizenry of a free state.”

There have not always been police. England had none until 1829, America had none until 1845, and only in the so-called modern era have police officers been armed. At one time, fear of anything resembling a standing army was so intense that police were, in fact, the only citizens not allowed to carry guns. Throughout much of 19th century England and America, the policy of forbidding police to have arms while on duty was the only form of gun control.

Police were expected to rely on a fully armed citizenry to come to their aid when armed enforcement of the law was necessary.

(A) In 1986, Don Bennett of Oak Park, Illinois, was shot at by two men who had just stolen $1,200 in cash and jewelry from his suburban Chicago service station. The police arrested Bennett for violating Oak Park’s handgun ban. The police never caught the actual criminals.

(B) Ronald Biggs, a resident of Goldsboro, North Carolina, was arrested for shooting an intruder in 1990. Four men broke into Biggs’ residence one night, ransacked the home and then assaulted him with a baseball bat. When Biggs attempted to escape through the back door, the group chased him, and Biggs turned and shot one of the assailants in the stomach. Biggs was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon — a felony. His assailants were charged with misdemeanors.

(C) Don Campbell, of Port Huron, Michigan, was arrested, jailed and criminally charged after he shot a criminal assailant in 1991. The thief had broken into Campbell’s store and attacked him. The prosecutor plea-bargained with the assailant and planned to use him to testify against Campbell for felonious use of a firearm. Only after intense community pressure did the prosecutor finally drop the charges.

Notwithstanding the fact that most people do not carry guns, the mere possibility that an intended victim could be armed with a handgun eliminates millions of crimes every year.

According to the FBI, states with “shall-issue” right-to-carry laws have a 26 percent lower total violent crime rate, a 20 percent lower homicide rate, a 39 percent lower robbery rate and a 22 percent lower aggravated assault rate than those states that do not allow their citizens to legally carry guns.

Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, Gary Kleck, in Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter Publishers, 1991), found that “robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all.”

Convicted felons reveal in surveys that they are more afraid of armed citizens than they are of the police. And well they should be. Armed citizens kill 2,000 to 3,000 criminals each year, three times the number killed by the police. And only 2 percent of civilian shootings involve an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal, whereas the error rate for the police is more than five times that high.

Kleck’s research shows that private citizens use firearms to protect themselves and thwart crime about 2.5 million times a year. Citizens use firearms to prevent mass killings, bank robberies, gang attacks, carjackings, rapes, kidnappings and hostage-takings.

The beauty of armed self-defense is that, because of its immediate, sure and severe nature, the mere threat is usually enough to stop the behavior. Is it any wonder that states that pass concealed carry laws experience immediate and obvious drops in crime rates? The violent criminal in these states isn’t nearly as worried about being arrested for his crime as he is about being shot by his would-be victim. This fact fits perfectly with well-established principles of behavior modification.

On the flip side, gun-control advocates, with their notions that we should submit to criminal assault, reward criminal behavior. The criminal gets what he wants — your money, your dignity and maybe your life. Since positive reinforcement — reward — is the strongest, most effective behavior-modification tool, that criminal behavior is likely to be repeated. In other words, by submitting to criminal demands, you are encouraging criminal behavior.

Gun ownership saves lives.

Gun ownership also saves money. Nationwide, each 1 percent increase in the number of people owning guns reduces crime-victim costs by over $3 billion.

Concealed handgun carry by private citizens reduces violent crimes, including rape, murder, aggravated assault and robbery, throughout the entire community and in surrounding communities.

When a state passes a right-to-carry law, crime reduction is immediate and substantial, and crime-reduction benefits continue to grow the longer the law is in effect.

The greater the number of concealed handgun permits issued, the greater the reduction in crime.

Mass shootings in public places are reduced to virtually zero within four or five years after right-to-carry laws are passed — except in designated “gun-free” zones, such as schools, where self-defense is known to be prohibited. The largest drops in violent crime from concealed handgun carry occur in the most urban areas with the greatest populations and the highest crime rates.

Citizens who do not carry guns benefit equally from the crime reduction which results when other citizens carry guns. The people who benefit most from this “halo” effect are women, children and the elderly. 

Of all the methods studied by economists, the carrying of concealed handguns is by far the most cost-effective method for reducing crime. Each and every concealed handgun permit issued reduces total economic losses to crime victims by $3,000 to $5,000.

Accident and suicide rates are unaltered by the presence of concealed handguns.

The effect of increased penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime is small.

Bottom line, in keeping with the title of his work, the more guns there are in society and the more these guns are carried by private citizens, the less crime there is.

These are some of the reasons why police, who fight crime for a living and are well aware of the realities of street criminals, support right-to-carry laws for private citizens by an overwhelming three-to-one margin. This is an even higher margin of support for right-to-carry than the strong support voiced by the civilian population.

Policemen are nobody’s personal bodyguards. Their jobs are to find and arrest people who have committed crimes, not to prevent such potential crimes from happening in the first place. Clearly, the responsibility for victim-prevention lies with the victim-to-be.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Bowers v. DeVito, 1982) did not mince words when it ruled, “There is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.”

That loaded Glock in your holster is a powerful expression of your constitutionally guaranteed liberty as an American citizen, your recognition of the solemn duty you have to your fellow man and your willingness to accept the full weight of a life-and-death responsibility.

When you are prepared to defend yourself, you are equally prepared to defend all of society and all of its guiding principles. Your responsibilities are therefore many — moral, legal and tactical. That is why most people, including lifelong gun owners, experienced hunters and competitive shooters, even in states that freely issue concealed carry permits, do not choose to carry a gun.

Your moral responsibilities are to fire your gun into another human being only when the line of necessity has clearly been reached, and then to fire without hesitation and to full effect. Remember the words of Cicero.

Your legal responsibilities are to justify your actions to those who would call you a criminal … and quite possibly to a jury of your peers.

Your tactical responsibilities are to carry your gun with confidence, to be well-trained in your ability to operate it effectively, and to have instilled in yourself an iron will to use deadly force to prevent or end violence committed against yourself or others.

Violence happens either at random or directed toward the obviously vulnerable or toward someone in particular for a reason. You can rest assured it will not happen at the shooting range. It will happen when you are home sleeping in your bed, shopping at the grocery store, walking out to get the mail, mowing the grass, at dinner, at church, at the theater.

The most dangerous places in the world are those so-called “gun-free safety zones.” Even an adolescent school kid can figure out that an advertised killing field where no one is allowed to shoot back is the safest location in the world to carry out a mass shooting.

The assistant principal of a high school in Pearl, Mississippi, broke the law. He kept a .45 in his car parked on the school grounds. When a deranged student opened fire, Joel Myrick ran for his gun. Two students were killed because Myrick had to retrieve his gun from his car instead of his holster. But the .45 eventually prevailed, and Myrick stopped the massacre long before police arrived on the scene. God only knows how many lives he saved. But assistant principal Joel Myrick wasn’t awarded any medals. Of the several hundred newspaper and television stories about the incident, only a few even mentioned his name. Almost none revealed the fact that he used a gun to stop the killings.

If you ever find yourself under attack by an armed criminal, you will be on the defensive and he will be on the offensive. In other words, he will have a strong advantage going in. And, though he will not have trained himself to shoot nearly as well as you have trained, he will be far more experienced in the art of killing. The odds are, any criminal who is intent on killing you has probably killed men before, knows how to do it, knows how it feels and likes it. You’re not going to talk him out of it, scare him out of it or wound him out of it. You’re going to have to kill him.

Studies show that simply brandishing a weapon saves many lives, but I am personally against the idea of waving a gun around while your adversary thinks. The way to overcome his offensive advantage is to strike without warning. Once you make the decision to free your Glock from its holster, the entire situation should be over and done within a second or two.

More than a century of military and police research tells us that most people, including up to 85 percent of trained soldiers and cops, are psychologically unable to use deadly force in a life-or-death situation no matter how compelling the circumstances may be. If you can’t kill, there is no reason for you to carry a lethal weapon.

Carrying a loaded gun with the ability and will to use it is not a casual fling meant to bring some excitement into your boring life. It is an all-embracing lifestyle and must take precedence over your respect for law, your fear of social criticism, your love of humanity, your wardrobe and your drinking habits.

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