Four Things I Carry … Always

Now that I have lived past my teens, well past the age when the Selective Service Commission will hunt me down for induction into the military during some national crisis, I can’t seem to find my old draft card. I used to carry it regularly.

The draft card now probably resides in an old shoebox in the closet, along with yearbook pictures of the high school girlfriend, a band medal, a Canadian loonie from the family vacation to Niagara Falls and a letter my grandma wrote when “her favorite” went off to college.

My wallet contains today’s everyday necessities instead: a driver’s license and auto insurance card, a library card and a picture of my wife and children, perhaps even a few dollars just in case.

But now the wallet also includes a Medicare card — Parts A and B, my Department of Veteran’s Affairs eligibility card and a union membership card. Good God, where does the time go?

The fenced-in entrance to a school with a sign reading KINDERGARTEN beneath an awning laced with razor wire

Since when did a kindergarten require double fencing, an armed deputy (school resource officer) and razor wire? Times change. We must adapt or become victims in a landscape that we do not understand. Photo by Rick Sapp.

When I was a kid, we hunted squirrels or rabbits on the way to school, stashed the BB gun in the teacher’s closet and then hunted again on the way home. People rode around with rifles in racks in the back of pickup trucks. Nobody had, or needed, a concealed carry permit. But unfortunately, violence has now become customary, even routine.

And so today, besides grabbing my wallet, I have to stop and think. Can I carry in this restaurant if I don’t drink? Is this hardware store a “gun-free zone?” Do I carry my pistol or trust my luck?

When I finally make it out the door, these are the four things I have on my person to ensure my family’s safety:

  1. My Smith & Wesson .38 Bodyguard. It may limit the places I can go, but I’d rather be selective about my dining or shopping options than be caught unarmed should an incident arise.
  1. My cellphone. If I’m involved in a scrape, I want to call 911 immediately to give dispatch my description of events as the good guy. There are simply too many cases of cops arriving on a scene and apprehending the wrong person. Plus, if possible or appropriate, I want to turn on the video feature, realizing the phone will be seized and the video used as evidence by the public prosecutor.
  1. I must have my Concealed Handgun License (CHL) with me. It’s the law here in New Mexico, and probably where you live as well. Here in the Land of Enchantment, the license says, “Licensee shall carry only one concealed handgun at any given time.” Which eliminates a backup gun but does not speak to the S&W .38 Special +P with pink grips in my wife’s handbag.
  1. My United States Concealed Carry Association membership card. The card has post-incident instructions printed on the back and the number for the 24/7/365 Critical Response Team. I also carry the USCCA’s “Defensive Shooting Guidelines for the Responsibly Armed Citizen” card. Now and then I pull these out and re-read them because I know that in a moment of crisis, the tongue and the brain sometimes short-circuit.

Albuquerque ranks high in homicides, gang violence, auto theft and any number of other categories of misery. With these things, though, I can keep my family safe — the pistol, the cellphone, my concealed carry permit and the protection of the USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD.

Times change. We have to change too … or die.