The thought of what each of us might do when confronted with ruthless violence is, and should be, in the back of our minds at all times. It is something we need to prepare for.
When the time comes, and we are forced to fight, we need to be ferocious. We need to fight without mercy to stop the threat as quickly as possible in order to prevent death or great bodily harm from befalling those we have chosen to protect.
But the operative words in the previous paragraph are the first four: When the time comes…
We all know it is our responsibility to know when we can use force and when we must not use force. Then, inside those legal parameters, we must make a personal decision. You may have the RIGHT to use force, but only YOU will know when the time is right for you to make that decision. I would prefer you not hesitate, because I believe if you are reading this you are good person who cares deeply about what it really means to be a responsibly armed American. I hate it when good people are injured or killed. Hesitation could cost you more than you are willing to give up. But again, that is a personal decision. Part of my job is to give you the information that will help you make a decision you can live with.
From a legal standpoint, you can use deadly force ONLY until the threat stops. Then you must stop. You must then return to being a kind, caring, and helpful citizen. So, yes, I’m telling you to be a hard-core, badass defender of life and limb. I want you to fight with terrible fury when the time comes, but I don’t want you to lose your humanity along the way.
This comes up now not just because it is the holiday season; not just because tensions are high after brutal terror attacks; not just because someone shot up an abortion clinic; and not just because demonstrators are once again in the streets proclaiming black lives matter. This column comes out of careful thought regarding all those things and the rhetoric that surrounds them.
I’ve said in the past—here and in my Into The Fray videos—that we, as responsibly armed Americans, should tone down the bravado. Carrying a gun every day for self-defense is not about being macho. It is not about showing the world how tough we are. It is about being ready to defend the people we care about. By carrying a gun, we accept the awesome responsibility that comes with the right we hold so dear.
Why would we tarnish that with words and deeds that do not represent the true value of what we believe?
Do you believe in the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution? If so, then is the First Amendment just as important as the Second? What about the Fourth? Are we really presuming that everyone—everyone—is innocent until proven guilty? I don’t want someone to be able to search me or my things without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. So I will protect that Constitutional right as zealously as I protect all the others. And I will demand that those rights apply to all people, regardless of their race, creed, sexual orientation, marital status, or the kind of car they drive. It’s the proper thing to do.
Anti-gunners want to portray us as right-wing extremists, bent on violence, filled with hate and rage. We are not that. We should not let our words portray us thusly and we can use our deeds to prove we are just the opposite.
Maybe it is time we as gun owners step up and show our humanity. Perhaps your local gun club (which is very likely in the suburbs or some rural area) could make a substantial donation to an urban food pantry or homeless shelter. Or better yet, show up and serve food or help with distribution. If you still have your “gun owner“ rubber stamp, stamp up a bunch of money and drop it in the Salvation Army kettle. If you don’t want to stamp your money, get some business cards printed up that simply say, “You have just been assisted by a responsibly armed American. Guns save lives.” Every time you do a good deed, hand the recipient of that good deed one of your cards. That, of course, requires you to do plenty of good deeds if you want to go through a couple hundred business cards. Put on your Range Safety Officer vest and pick up trash where everyone can see you. Make a donation to Toys for Tots.
What if every gun show in America was a collection point for food for the local food pantry? What do you think of me now Michael Bloomberg?
We can retake control of our image with just a few small actions. You likely do them anyway. Just make a point to do them as a responsibly armed American.
We can be tough and kind at the same time.
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