I live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I was born in a left-wing nanny-state though, and I did not have much experience with firearms. In fact, I never even touched a real gun until I was 19, a couple of years after I left that state for school in Virginia.
Now I am a resident of this Commonwealth, and greatly appreciate the fact that I now have the right to bear arms, and to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home. The right to bear arms does include defense outside the home, contrary the fascist inklings of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Having lived in this Commonwealth for several years now, and having handled firearms for several years, I now have a bit of a different perspective than I did when I lived in my left-wing, regressive home state.
When I lived there, I knew about the right to bear arms in theory, but not in practice. I knew about the fundamental separation of powers that it represented, and that firearms are the best tool for self-defense, and I also knew that firearms also have a sort of “cool factor” to them (you know, everyone tends to pay attention to the guy with the gun).
And why is that? Because a firearm represents power. With that piece of polymer and metal, a person literally has the power of life and death of every single person in his/her vicinity. It is only when I actually started carrying a firearm (in the great Commonwealth of Virginia) that I began to realize this truth.
As this realization developed, I began to think about why I want to carry a gun. What is the real reason that I and millions of others are doing this? Sure, it’s our right to, but that shouldn’t be all, should it? I don’t think so.
With this in mind, I’m going to tell you a story that happened just the other day, mid-July 2016. I went to the grocery store, and decided to carry my handgun openly. Here in Virginia, open carry is 100% legal, a fair number of people do it, and law enforcement is well-educated as to its legality.
So I’m in the store, getting my groceries, walking around with a pistol strapped on my side. There were no freakouts, no mass panic or hysteria; just me and everyone else going about our business in standard operating mode, while I have that firearm on me.
I get everything I need and head up to the cash register. When I put my stuff on the conveyor belt, here’s the exchange I had with the store employee.This is what you should say anytime someone asks you why you carry a gun:
Seth: [Didn’t hear at first] “I’m sorry, could you say that again?’
E: “Nice, you’re carrying a firearm on you.”
S: “Yes, indeed I am.”
E: “Is that a 9mm?”
S: “Yeah it sure is!”
E: “Cool, usually I don’t guess correctly on the first time” *chuckles.*
E: “So, I ask this every time I see someone carrying. Why do you carry a gun?”
S: “Well, I believe that life is valuable, and therefore it is worth protecting. No matter who you are, if someone tries to harm you and I am close by and can help to defend you, I will do so.”
E: “Hmm, that’s a new one… You sir are a good person.”
S: “I try to be. Have a good one man.”
THIS is what we as gun owners should be saying when we are asked why we feel the need to own or carry guns. As I said before, sure it is our right, but our answer must involve something more than that, because the right itself is not an ends, it is merely a means.
Why do we even have the Second Amendment? We have it because here in the United States, our entire legal system is predicated on the fact that life is valuable. Hence, we must have a society where we can defend life, and where we can work to have good lives.
In order to defend our lives, we need the tools to do so. Hence, the right to bear arms stems directly from the presumption that life is valuable, and that it is worth protecting.
This is a line of reasoning that I have conveyed to several people when they asked that same question to me. Whenever I say that, it’s almost as if something kind of clicks in their mind. I don’t know what each of these people’s political views are, but what I do know is that we all, somewhere deep down, know that life is valuable.
Hence, by saying that I want to protect life, I have immediately established common ground with the person asking me the question. I do not say “It’s my right man!” or “I like having a weapon on me.” No, that is not what you want to say. And if you do say these things when asked, I highly advise you seriously reconsider your reasons for carrying a firearm.
Your reason for carrying a firearms should be for the protection of life, every single life that is in your surrounding vicinity. The “cool factor” of having a gun may be there, but it must not be the sole reason why you carry. It is your right to carry, but carrying is a means, not an ends.
More gun owners need to understand this lesson. If we are to win the hearts and minds of people who think we are a bunch of loonies, we cannot simply say “It’s my right” or”I like having a gun on me.” No, our reasoning must be better than that.
Why? Because we ARE better than that.
Photo credit: The Federalist Papers.