The 2nd amendment gives us the right to bear arms and 49 of the 50 States in America have the right to conceal and carry in some way. The choice to conceal and carry a gun for self-protection is a heated debate in America even with the laws permitting it.
According to the FBI’s uniform crime report, January 2011-December of 2011 had the following REPORTED statistics for my neck of the woods:
Kansas City – 5,536 violent crimes, 265 forcible rapes, 1,665 robberies, 3,498 aggravated assaults and 3,392 motor-vehicle thefts. There was a total of 102 murders reported. With a population estimated at 461,458 roughly 3% of Kansas City experienced some type of crime that was or had the potential of being violent. (This does not include reports on property damage, burglary, larceny theft and arson).
The numbers by themselves seem intimidating, but when one looks at the percentage, 3-4% it doesn’t seem too bad right? As a small woman I feel like I am an easy target for would be attackers. My husband is always tense when he knows I’m going out somewhere by myself, worried that I will become the next number in the crime statistics. Crime seems ever on the rise, and the nightly news reports alone are enough to make one more vigilant and cautious when heading out or staying home.
To personally be more vigilant I signed up for a self-protection martial arts class, Krav Maga. Learning explosive defensive and offensive moves in the few months of taking the class has taught me that I can, even for my small size, cause enough damage to create a window of opportunity to escape if attacked. I learned through a Krav Maga training seminar how to disarm a gunned attacker and turn the gun on him. This was exciting, yet I had no idea how to handle a gun if I got possession of it. Common sense says to pull the trigger but, without proper gun training, in a high-stress situation I would have no idea how to check to make sure the safety was off, if the gun jammed or the chamber was loaded and ready to fire. The other question this seminar made me think was “what about in a public area like a store where there does not seem to be an immediate way to escape, and the guy has a gun? How would I defend myself if I was one of many possible targets, and the escape route blocked?”
I decided to continue my vigilance by researching the need for a conceal carry permit. I wanted to know and understand the ramifications and responsibility that go along with gun ownership. I wanted to decide if I could handle being a conceal carry permit holder with a gun. I began my research by reading up on the current Missouri laws. I checked books out from the library that discussed how to handle a criminal confrontation, and I attended the conceal carry required training course.
What I discovered through months of research surprised me. Before the start of this journey, I would have told you 110% that I was set to buy a gun, as soon as I had permit in hand, hide the gun on me somewhere and blow a hole in anybody that attempted to do harm to me or my family. I was gun-ho and eager to load, but as I got deeper into my research, I found several pieces of information that made me pull back on the reins of my gun-toting plan.
One of the first pieces of information I found was a simple question; could I 100% say yes to be able to kill another human being? My original response would absolutely be yes, especially if my family was in danger. I felt that even though I had only shot a gun one time I would be able to point, shoot and ask questions later. However, as I read some articles and books, I found that even seasoned police officers when off duty as civilians found it difficult, under stress, to pull the trigger to protect themselves in a home invasion or being attacked outside of the home. They had trained mentally and physically to prepare for shooting in their jobs, but as a civilian they found they hesitated because they had not mentally trained as civilians. With this information, I felt that I needed to take my time and really evaluate the responsibility and commitment that come with carrying a gun safely.
Stanford Strong makes a clear point about the responsibility of using a gun in his book Strong On Defense: Survival Rules To Protect You And Your Family From Crime. Strong states that:
“A lot of people know a little about guns, some know a lot about guns, but few know anything about using guns at critical distances and under deadly conditions. Using a gun or not using a gun is your decision. But if you want to include a gun in your family’s protection plan, you must know how to use it effectively and safely. You need to go beyond just being armed.”
After reading Strong’s book, Paxton Quigley’s book Not An Easy Target: Self-Protection for Woman and Gavin DeBecker’s book The Gift of Fear; I decided that a gun is not for every well-meaning, honest American who wants a conceal carry permit just because the law says they can, or feels the need to protect their home from intruders with little or no shooting experience. Serious reconsideration took place on my part as well. I decided the only way I would conceal and carry or own a gun for home protection was if I felt 100% confidant that under stress, I could pull a gun, and aim with speed and accuracy. Most important I would own a gun, if I could, without hesitation, destroy whomever I pointed the barrel at if I felt my life or those of my family were in mortal danger.
I urge anyone thinking about purchasing a gun or obtaining their conceal carry permit to take careful consideration of the following input I collected in my search, and make a well-informed decision based on your own research, whether you could or could not take on the FULL responsibility of gun ownership.
1. CAN I KILL ANOTHER HUMAN
If you cannot say yes, you should not own a gun for self-protection. Shooting to kill is the only option when seconds count and you choose to fire a gun in self-defense.
If you say “maybe I could kill someone depending on the circumstance, I would need a second to take in the situation”, you probably should not own a gun. Hesitation will give your attacker the few seconds needed to take control of you or the chance to take your gun and use it against you or your family.
If you can “yes, without a doubt I would process shoot/don’t shoot in a split second and destroy a human without hesitation who is placing me or my family in immediate danger of death” then you may be a good candidate for gun ownership.
Be informed. Look up and study the laws for your State. Read as many books or articles as you can on self-protection to have a well-rounded opinion on the responsibility that comes with owning and using a gun. Do not assume that just because you took the required gun safety course to get your conceal carry permit that you are a safe gun owner. Do not take one or two people’s opinion as gold, do your own research, make your own educated decision.
Practice with your gun. Know exactly how to hold, load, fire, break down and put back together as well as how to handle if the gun jams. Shoot often so you know how your gun works (recoil, single action verses double action), how sensitive the trigger is and to make sure you are proficient at hitting center mass with and without the use of sites. Check with a shooting range in your area, many offer classes both private and in small group settings to help you become familiar with and confident shooting a gun. Some ranges even allow you to “rent” guns for shooting practice. Renting gives you the opportunity to practice until you feel confident and lets you to try different styles or brands to find what is comfortable for you before buying.
Take into consideration how you will store the gun. If you have children, gun locks are a good idea but are not always user-friendly when you are under stress, attempting to get your gun out and ready in seconds. Gun safes are great as long as children do not have access to the key or knowledge of the code. When using an ordinary gun safe you need to check how well you can get the key in or code done in the dark within seconds under stress. Bio-metric gun safes or strong boxes are a newer storage option. These work by taking a scan of your finger(s) or palm print and can only be opened when the designated print matches. A back up key is given in case the battery dies for the scanner. The bio-metric scan strong box is ideal to keep unwanted people (my kids, intruders) from getting to a gun yet only takes seconds to scan and open when needed.
5. MENTALLY PREPARE
Cops and Military both train in “what if” style scenarios. The average citizen most likely will never have access to live action “what ifs”. Mind-setting (mentally preparing and visualizing) is an important key to being able to stay calm and think clearly under stress. You must mentally be ready on how you will react if you pull your gun on an attacker or intruder and how you will react in multiple different scenarios. In my research I also found there was a common theme, escape. Escaping should always be the first choice and pulling a gun the last resort. This is a split second decision, mentally preparing can help you make that decision while remaining calm.
I support conceal carry laws and urge others who are contemplating getting a gun not to take the decision to conceal and carry lightly. The responsibility that goes along with gun ownership and conceal carry permits is monumental. If you do not take the proper steps to be fully trained and continue your training often, you really should not conceal and carry. Until you become completely comfortable and capable at all the above, be responsible and leave your gun at home. I believe people can create more of a danger to themselves and innocent bystanders if they are not, beyond a doubt, 100% confident in their ability to use a gun quickly and accurately when escape is not an option.