I believe in the axiom that a firearm is “a piece of emergency lifesaving equipment” and should be treated as such. If a gun is to be used only to stop an imminent deadly threat, then, when faced with that threat, one should reasonably be expected to deploy that gun immediately in the face of such a threat.

That’s why we say, “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.” When you need a gun, you need it right now and nothing else will do. That’s why I get so angry when I see businesses posted as “gun-free zones.” Most of the time you won’t need a gun, but when you need a gun, you really need a gun.

Take this story from Cleveland as an example. Back in September 2017, the local Fox News affiliate reported that just before 3 a.m., two men wearing masks walked into a Taco Bell and demanded that everyone get down on the floor. Instead of following the orders of the would-be robbers, three of the five Taco Bell employees — that’s right … three of the five — pulled out their own guns and opened fire. One robber fled; the other was hit several times and died later at a local hospital.

I bring up this story because a couple years ago, I stopped going to my “favorite” Taco Bell because I arrived at the store to find a sign on the door that said, “Firearms and other weapons not allowed inside this building.” Of course I went in anyway, ordered my food and then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t reach my wallet because my gun is in the way. I should just go.” But that is another story.

People who work late at night in establishments that handle cash should be armed. I don’t care if you are in Cleveland or at some convenience store on a lonely stretch of highway somewhere in west Texas. Criminals are predators and predators are opportunists. Most crimes are not planned days or weeks in advance. The robbery of a Taco Bell at 3 a.m. is not akin to the plotline of Ocean’s Eleven. The attacks happen quickly and they must be dealt with equally quickly. Do you think that Taco Bell will ever be robbed again? Word is out in Cleveland. Believe that.

Now the question becomes, “What are you prepared to do?”

Will you make the commitment to carry your firearm every day? I know from experience that carrying a gun can be uncomfortable. Carrying a gun forces you to be more vigilant, more knowledgeable about the laws, more thoughtful and deliberate in your actions. Carrying a gun opens you up to increased legal liability and you must remember that to fight is to risk death. I firmly believe that refusing to fight also puts you at an increased risk of being killed, but that is perhaps a topic for another column.

To stop a criminal, one must take action against the criminal at the time the crime is being committed. This requires the ability to respond, in kind, to any assault. If you are more than three seconds away from your gun, you are unarmed. Don’t be unarmed.