“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” — G.K. Chesterton
I am a former Army officer. I am a former police officer, SWAT officer, and police firearms, instructor. I have been a recreational shooter so far back that I have no memory of the first time I shot a gun. I say this so that you understand that guns have always been a part of my life, as both vocation and avocation.
But it has only been in the last 10 years that I came to embrace concealed carry as a way of life. Even when I was a police officer, I rarely carried off-duty; it was not required or even encouraged in my department. I even knew other officers who ridiculed those who did carry off-duty as paranoid, and the more religious someone was about off-duty carry, the more disdain they tended to receive. I
ended up leaving that organization after a few years, and it was for the best.
Still, I credit my education as a cop for eventually waking me up: As a police officer, I learned that there are truly bad people in the world, and they do bad things to good people, every day, everywhere. Living in a good neighborhood is no insurance. The bad people are more than happy to come to you, and denial of this fact provides no protection from it.
With that in mind, I was forced to look at my life. While I have no children of my own, my sister is a single mother, whose ex-has basically fled the area and left her to raise two daughters on her own. As I live very close by, I took up a very active role in helping her out and found myself with two young girls in my care on a pretty regular basis.
I asked myself, “If something bad were to happen while these two children were in my care, am I prepared to protect them?” At that time, I did not carry, and realized that the honest answer was, “No.” The obvious follow-up question was, “Could you live with yourself if you were unprepared, and one of these children were hurt, or worse?” The even more obvious response to that question was an unequivocal, “No.” I knew that in such an eventuality, where my nieces were harmed while my gun was sitting at home, I would also be destroyed. Denial was no longer an option. I made a decision to change.
I got my concealed carry permit and started carrying. I didn’t carry all the time at first, but eventually my education as a street cop resurfaced. I knew that violence could happen anywhere, anytime…and thus I knew I had to commit fully and carry at all times. I made that commitment, and I honor it every day.
My nieces are older now, but we still spend time together. They know I carry, and they know why. As teenagers, they might think I’m a little weird, but I think they understand down deep inside that they are just a little bit safer when I’m around.
You probably have a similar story. You probably carry to protect those you love or to protect yourself so that you can be there for the ones you love. We have all chosen to make the gun a part of our lives out of love, not hate. The anti-gun forces don’t understand this, and I’m not sure I have the words to convince anyone who cannot grasp this simple truth. What I do know is that because of my love for my family, I place the highest value on the right and the freedom to arm myself as I see fit to ensure their safety. No police officer, no member of Congress, no president or sawed-off tyrant of a mayor will take responsibility for them…but I will. So as I see it, when you try to strip that right from me, you diminish my ability to protect those I love. You are threatening them…and my response will be just what you would expect. That is why I carry. That is why I fight.