I believe that many certified firearms instructors do a great job of teaching people about the responsibilities of gun ownership and about the possible legal, moral and financial ramifications of using a firearm for self-defense. As we have learned, a dynamic critical incident can be a very scary situation, especially considering that, after the fact, prosecutors will pick apart every action and dig through whatever they can (firearms training, work history, financial records, social media participation, 2A memberships, etc.) to put blame on the defendant, even if the situation involved a perfectly “legal shoot.”
Of course, even though the legal aftermath of using a firearm for self-defense is not likely to involve a criminal case, it can — and does — happen. A civil case can cause great concern as well. The criminal and/or his or her family members may claim that they are in the right or believe, somehow, that they are owed something. With that, it’s the idea of the “reasonable person test.” Unfortunately, today’s definition of what a reasonable person would have done in the same circumstances doesn’t always match up to what a responsibly armed individual would do.
The possibilities of going to jail and being tried in court can certainly make someone think — or even reconsider carrying a gun for protection. I’ve had some students take our USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense class and tell me that they aren’t ready to carry a gun. I applaud that decision because it means that they are really thinking about the circumstances, the possibilities and the outcomes. But I also make a point to find out where they are in their concealed carry journey … and how to get them where they need to be.
Nevertheless, with all the talk of the aftermath and with all of the unsettling information regarding the seriousness of using a gun to protect life, an intriguing question was recently brought up in class: Knowing what we know about the body’s responses to a threatening situation, and recognizing what problems may occur legally, financially and even emotionally after the fact, why should anyone carry a firearm?
Undoubtedly, the decision to own and carry a gun is a very important one. But here are five reasons why it’s a really good one as well.
1. Because you can. Our Founding Fathers thought long and hard about what a successful and efficient government looked like, and they knew that they needed to protect “We, the people” from tyrannical governments … and from terrible people. The Second Amendment is one way to ensure that our government cannot take away a natural-born right to self-defense with a firearm. That’s something to be recognized and put into action.
2. Because bad people exist. Despite there being innumerable good people with good intentions, we know that evil exists in our world, in our country and even within our own communities. Vile individuals have done unspeakable things to fellow human beings, and they will continue to do so. Criminals want us to feel vulnerable, and they will try to do whatever they can to victimize us.
3. Because you can’t depend on others. We are responsible for ourselves. And we can’t expect family, government, military or law enforcement to protect us, even if they want to! Police cannot take care of all citizens all the time. That’s not even their job. We, then, must ensure that we have the right skills, the correct mindset and the necessary tools to do the job ourselves. That doesn’t mean we can’t dial 911 for help. It means we don’t have to hopelessly and defenselessly count the minutes for help to arrive.
4. Because guns save lives. People defend themselves with guns all the time, often without ever having to press the trigger. I have several friends who are alive today because someone was able to fend off a deadly attack with a weapon. Some of these people had to shoot their firearms. Some didn’t. But they all are a powerful testament to the use of guns to protect and save lives … including their own.
5. Because everyone deserves a chance. A firearm is often referred to as an equalizer; it literally provides a fighting chance against an attacker. And while we know that part of the ethos of being a responsible gun owner is to be aware of our surroundings and avoid getting into bad situations whenever possible, sometimes violent conflict is unavoidable. Lethal force is an extreme action and a last resort, but at least it’s an option in the most serious of criminal threats. We all deserve that chance. Life is worth protecting!