Concealed Lifestyle: Who We Are And Why We Carry
Unless you live under a rock, you have almost certainly seen the gun control debate raging in the United States. Every news channel, political candidate, and keyboard warrior seems to be putting their two cents in regarding the Second Amendment and the right for US Citizens to own firearms for self-defense and protection from government overreach.
While the second portion of that sentence above is important, today we are going to focus on what exactly is a concealed weapons permit (also known as a concealed carry permit or a concealed handgun license.)
In its most simplistic form, a concealed weapons permit is the license that a state or county office issues enabling a US Citizen to legally carry a firearm for the purpose of self-defense. Most states require some sort of organized training from a state approved organization. These classes can range anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on your state.
What Are the Popular Views Regarding Gun Control
This is the part of the debate where personal opinion and ideology come into play. The right to self-defense is by far the most charged constitutional issue these days. Similar to a high percentage of issues in this country, most people align themselves with one side or the other.
In the first camp, we have many people, organizations, and politicians calling for more strict regulations regarding firearms and carry permits in the name of public safety. On the other end, we have citizens that are fundamentally opposed to further restrictions of what they see as not only a constitutional right, but a natural human right to self-defense.
I first off want to disclose that I belong to the second group. I will try to keep my bias out of this as much as possible, but it will be evident to some degree.
Both sides site statistics, case studies, and polls in an almost fruitless attempt to convince the other side that they are right. This article is not intended to do either, rather its intent is to provide a robust prospective on what it means to be a responsibly armed citizen.
Why Should I Carry
While I cannot answer this question in its entirety for everyone, the general reason that people decide to carry a firearm is for self-defense. The reasoning is the same that you buckle your seat belt, get your teeth cleaned twice a year, and purchase auto insurance. Carrying a firearm is simply an insurance policy. No one buckles their seat belt hoping that they get in an accident, or goes to the dentist and hopes that they have cavities. These activities can all be classified as “preventative measures.”
Carrying a defensive firearm, for most people, is a method to insulate their exposure to criminal activity. The firearm would only be utilized as a last resort should you or anyone else find themselves in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm. I call that out because in every state in the union, that is the baseline requirement to employee deadly force for self-defense.
When I carry, my mindset is not that of a vigilante seeking street justice for criminals. Rather, I live life just like anyone else. I am not paranoid. I am not actively seeking trouble out. I am living out my mundane (and sometimes boring) suburban lifestyle. I treat any dangerous situations the same when I am carrying as I would if I am not. If a dangerous situation arises, I first evaluate my options and attempt to remove myself from the situation if possible. Please note that this activity is actually part of the law in a lot of states (see “Stand Your Ground” laws.) If I am able to remove myself from that situation safely, I do so and call law enforcement.
If I am unable to safely remove myself from the situation, I must reevaluate again and determine if I can use any lesser force option than deadly force. This is a unilateral requirement that must be met before employing deadly force. If all else fails and I believe that my life or the lives of others are in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm, I cannot retreat, and I have no lessor force option, I am then legally afforded the opportunity to defend myself or others.
The reason that I break this down into so much detail is that one of the most common arguments against carrying every day is that somehow having a firearm on my body transforms me into maniacal vigilante that will actively seek out situations to enforce street justice. That with the capability to shoot someone automatically comes the desire to do so.
Let me be clear, if I can make it through my entire life without ever having to draw my firearm, I would be one happy old man. Would it diminish the reasons that I carried my entire life? Absolutely not. Just the same way I will go out and buy a Powerball ticket if the jackpot is over $300 million. While the chances of that are extremely slim I still purchase a ticket just in case. That is in contrast to your chance in a lifetime of becoming a victim of a violent crime. 2013’s violent crime rate was 367.9/100,000. If that number remained the same and you lived to be 80 years old, you have a 29.43% chance to be a victim of a violent crime in your lifetime (the math is not perfect as there are so many individual, underlying factors, but it gives you some perspective.
Who We Are
Over the past year, the number of active permits in the United States surpassed 11 million. That is about one for every twenty adults. Pretty shocking right? The next time you walk down the street count twenty adults. Statistically, one of them has a permit and is possibly carrying a firearm.
We are everyday people. Hard working, caring, thoughtful individuals. We do not have malicious intent. We do not want to cause trouble. We simply want to live our lives normally and have the ability to defend ourselves.
When most police are over ten minutes away, I want to make sure that I do not become a victim. I want to at least have a fighting chance to make it home to my family if someone sticks a gun or knife in my face. I don’t want to cause trouble, but if trouble finds me I want to ensure that I at least have a fighting chance.