Why I wrote this:
All the talk about terror, immigration, refugees and related topics since the Paris attacks made me wonder how we have such varied and strong opinions on this topic? My opinions on these subjects were not always congruent with people who I typically agree with on other topics. I asked myself if I reacted to these situations in the same way as other people? And if I do, then why? And if I don't, then why?
I reasoned I might have one particular, atypical event in my past that shaped my opinion.
This post is dedicated to just one small part of the larger questions about terror. It's aimed at the topic of guns. And it's offered as a tool for seeing a topic from a different perspective. And with that new perspective, maybe greater understanding for all.
I've carried a gun for years. Ever since I got mugged, robbed and hit with a baseball bat by a group of guys yelling, "Kill Whitey".
I've shot no one since that day. No one has ever seen my gun in that time (it happened in 1983). I love everyone who doesn't want to do me physical harm.
However on social media, if you admit to carrying a gun or supporting gun rights; you are accused of being "a hater" or "paranoid". I don't see the connection? I carry other tools to keep safe, without the same accusations.
I carry a leatherman tool (photo). It could be used for aggression. However, no one has ever called me any names for having that tool.
In my truck I have duct tape, a battery charger and spare tire. More things specifically designed to keep me safe in situations when things go wrong. Do these items I carry make me "paranoid"?
The larger question may be: Where does "prepared" stop and "paranoid" begin?
The gun comes in handy when I had to carry large amounts of cash in sketchy situations. For example, I sold Christmas trees at odd hours (mostly at night) in different neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area. I was a target for anyone interested in crime and paying attention. I like knowing I had the option to fight back. I prefer that option to being robbed and then killed to cover the attackers tracks. I would like to think that my wife and family also prefer I have the option of fighting back, to simply handing over our hard earned money, and then hoping my life is spared as I lay in the street.
It's also been handy to fulfill my Boy Scout promise to myself to "be prepared". I sure felt unprepared when I was getting beat, our car destroyed, and those same attackers went on to shoot someone else in the area of my attack. I might have saved that other person, had I been prepared that night.
I carry, not out of hate, but out of love.
I love people who don't want to hurt me. I love my family. I love my life. I love providing jobs and opportunity to my communtiy by running my own business. I believe I am responsible for myself, my family and my community. I don't believe I can delegate that responsibility to others: and crime statistics support my belief.
If it makes you feel happy or superior to think being unprepared makes you a better person than me: I can live with your position. On the other hand, you may someday literally find yourself in a stituation that does not allow you to live with your "unprepared is better" theory.
I envy those lucky enough to not have the same experiences I had. However, know that you are projecting your theories, out of ignorance. Are you willing to bet your life that your premises are correct?
How likely am I to be a victim?
There is lots of information on which to get an answer to this question. A 1987 New York Times article claims you are 83% likely to be a victim of violent crime in your life. It goes on to say, "Eighty-three percent of 12-year-old children in the United States will be victims or intended victims of violent crimes at least once in their lifetimes, the Justice Department reported today. Fifty-two percent will be victims of such crimes more than once."
The U.S. Department of Justice produced the statistics seen right that show you have about a 4% chance per year±, of being involved in a violent crime.
The goal of this article is not to get you a definitive answer to that question, but to simply illustrate that A LOT of us might come in contact with violent crime over the course of our lifetimes. And I believe if/when that event happens: it will change your life. That event has a lot to do with how you live your life from that point forward. Your personal safety and how you view your relationship with staying safe is forever altered.
I'll always replay the day I felt defenseless. It was a foreign feeling to me at that point in my life. I've considered things I could have done differently. How I might have diffused the situation? Would I have saved anyone (or myself) if I had been more prepared?
None of my reviews lead me to the conclusion that I would have been better off if I had been less prepared.
Can others keep me safe?
What number of terror attacks would make you realize that no one can keep you safe...but maybe you?
- - If we had three attacks in the U.S. this week, would that convince you?
- - If there were 10 more attacks overseas this week, would that do it?
- - One dirty nuke in a city?
- - Would terror need to actually kill someone from your family, for you to stand up for yourself?
We all have our own tolerances for terror, of course. And "terror" is not just something caused by a few radicals wearing scary black clothes and masks. Terror is alive and well, right here in your hometown. Right here in your backyard.
There are 3,282 "terror attacks" right here in the United States every single day. All violent crime is a "terror attack", launched by an aggressor against a peaceful person. I care not about their affiliation, race, religion or cause. When you are in it: you just want to be alive to see the next day.
All who want to do me harm, are equally my enemy. Foreign and domestic.
Governments have one primary job: keep their citizens safe. They do this in exchange for extracted money from taxes.
Sadly, government also has a pretty consistent record of either starting things that make us all less safe, not fixing unsafe conditions, or being quickly overwhelmed in times of intense need (read Katrina) - and thereby failing to deliver on their basic promise to it's citizens.
How much evidence do you need to make you decide to give government a hand; and take responisibility for yourself? In your heart and mind, you know the protectors can't actually protect you. There is history, and there is logic that supports your suspicions. Is it even reasonable to expect others to intervene in life and death situations...anywhere in our country...at any time...day or night...when seconds count? And if it's not reasonable, is pretending and hoping you get assistance (when your life depends on it) really a good plan?
And what of helping others? How prepared are you in all situations to help others in dire need of help? Have you taken the time to learn CPR? Basic first aid? Self defense skills and gun safety? Or, if things got bad, would you turn into a zombie: completely dependent on the system? Would you be one of the folks, helpless to help yourself or others? Doesn't that position seem a little selfish?
I'm tired of finger pointing and expecting Superman to come to the rescue. He's not coming. The betterment of this world is DIRECTLY UP TO YOU. No pawning it off on others. What are YOU PERSONALLY doing? These ar the questions I ask myself, that lead me to believe the choice to carry is a loving, considerate and caring decision.
Boiling it down (for me)
Only two positions possible:
- You feel it is my right to peacfully and lawfully have the option to protect myself and family from violent aggressors.
- You feel it is my civic duty to not protect myself, so that you can feel comfortable as we both lie down in the dirt and await execution.
Thanks for listening.