There is something I should admit. Guns scare me.
Though guns have been around me throughout my life, I wouldn’t say they were institutional, like they are in some families. I learned to shoot as a Boyscout with 22 caliber rifles, but after I left the BSA sometime around my 16th birthday, I didn’t pick up another one until my mid 20’s. I wish I had much more instruction growing up.
The first handgun I ever shot was with a friend, at a range. It was a Glock 9mm. And then again there was a long pause. Shooting isn’t a big thrill for me. As one ages, the difference between life and death becomes more visceral, and the sheer force I experience when shooting brands into me the scope of the damage that could be done with this simple tool in my hand.
For some, I don’t know what it is, but perhaps it’s this power that brings excitement. That doesn’t make them bad people. But for me, I know that if I make one mistake, it could be catastrophic. That sobers me. And when I shoot, I feel responsible, aware, attentive, and serious. Every action is internally scrutinized because more than anything I do not want to be a danger to myself or others.
Mass shootings occur too often.
One is too many, but it’s happened enough in my lifetime that I have consciously and carefully considered the hows and the whys. I’m a why man, so as much as it would be in my nature to really drill into this, I fear the answer is a simple one. Harming the innocent is fucking evil – no matter who does it, or why they do it. After the harming, the why is moot. And as only actions can determine if one is moral or otherwise, if one harms the innocent, one is evil. There’s no debate.
And in recent years I’ve come to a more important realization. It is my responsibility to ensure the safety of my loved ones.
Once I let that sink in, and as cheesy as I’m afraid it sounds, it became a promise – not one I’m sure I’ve ever said out loud, but a promise nonetheless. If I am confronted by evil, I know that it is my job, as a husband, brother, son, friend, and fellow human, to stop it. Or at least try with all that I am.
NH is one of the safest places in the world.
There is a relationship between a community’s safety and their acceptance of guns. And the inverse is true. The vast majority (like approaching 100%) of all mass shootings occur in gun free zones. The most violent cities also tend to have the most restrictive gun laws. Taking guns away from law abiding people does not make a safer community. It makes an easier target for evil people. They’re evil, but they’re not stupid. They know they can do the most damage where they’ll have the least resistance.
My social community has a lot of families with children. And though I have no children of my own, I feel responsible for their wellbeing. And when we’re together, it’s unspoken, but I see us all look after each other, and each other’s children, as they explore and play. Many of them carry, as do I. Instead of thinking, this is a safe place, so there’s no need to carry, we think this place is safe because we carry.
I hope that I will never have to use force as long as I live. But I would never forgive myself if something happened that I could have prevented.
That’s why I carry.