A very common question today, and especially within the past couple of weeks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic:
Should I buy/carry a firearm?
HERE’S MY ANSWER/OPINION:
Firearm and ammunition sales, and correspondingly pistol permit applications, in the United States are very suddenly at an all-time as a result of the fear that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. Think about how life has changed in two short weeks! In fact, right now, we are truly on the edge of chaos and, whether or not we will actually get to chaos, or not, is still out for verdict. The fact, however, is that regardless of who you are; how you’ve thought in the past; and whether, or not, you were an advocate of gun ownership, you are likely, at minimum, thinking about whether or not a firearm might be of value in your current and future safety and security needs. You, if you are like so many people, are concerned about the very real possibility of having to defend yourself against people who are trying to survive, protect, and provide for their families and, many of you may have recently added a firearm to your safety and security toolbox.
The fact that gun and ammo sales are very suddenly at an all-time high, likely means that many of those who have been anti-gun, are now actually buying them for themselves. Why? Because suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it has become completely clear to everyone that their personal safety and security could be in jeopardy. The change comes quickly when we actually believe that we can become victims and might need a firearm to protect ourselves and/or our loved-one’s. The reaction creates that “oh, now I get it” revelation. You see, it’s very easy to be against something that we don’t feel we’d ever need, want, or have interest in ourselves?
My personal comparison would be to that of alcoholic beverages. I rarely consume alcoholic beverages and, in fact, I could care less if I never had another. Here’s a fact about alcoholic beverages: They are responsible for far, far, far more deaths in this country each day, and year, than firearms; it’s not even close! So, this being fact, why is there no discussion or consideration about banning alcoholic beverages with the same intensity as there is with guns? The foundational argument about guns centers around the care about loss of life and injury and, again, it is far greater with alcoholic beverages than with guns. So I would conclude that if you truly care about the causes of loss of life and injury then you should be a very strong advocate for the banning of alcoholic beverages; and even in far greater intensity than with guns.
So, because I don’t rely on alcoholic beverages, I don’t want them, have an interest in them, or care if they exist; just like the majority of people who are anti-gun, feel about guns, I am a strong advocate for banning alcoholic beverages. Now, I admit, that if it was suddenly determined that alcoholic beverages could destroy cancer, prevent it, or save lives I would likely very quickly change my mind, especially if it could have a direct and positive impact on my own personal life or the life of someone that I love and care about.
This is exactly the reason why, very suddenly, many who were anti-gun are suddenly buying them for themselves – because they suddenly realize that owning a firearm could have a positive impact on their own safety and security.
And, in all honesty, I am not for the banning of alcoholic beverages! I was only using it to create a point. Alcoholic beverages are not the cause of deaths; it’s the people who irresponsibly consume it and the things that they do after irresponsibly consuming it that causes death. Alcoholic beverages are no more the cause of drunk driving deaths than the automobiles that are involved.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS?
The other side of this is that you are someone who possessed firearms prior to this new, potentially materializing threat. In other words, you saw the potential value in a firearm as a safety and security tool well before a threat materialized. You were proactive rather than reactive. As a result, you are in a far better position than those who are now reacting. It’s what you’ve done with that firearm between the time that you gained possession of it, until now, that will determine whether or not it’s a good idea for you to have or carry it. As you are about to see, however, you very likely should not possess, and definitely should not carry, a firearm! Don’t be offended by this because it applies to well over 90% of all firearm owners. Understanding this, however, could save your life.
HERE’S THE OTHER PROBLEM:
For those who are buying firearms reactively, right now, it will be virtually impossible, at least in the very near future, to get any training at all, let alone all of the training and resources that will be needed.
SO, IN GENERAL:
There are very, very, very few people who possess the real skills needed to responsibly carry or own a firearm! I’ll emphasize this again – very, very, very few people!
IS THIS GUY IMPRESSIVE?
Picture yourself at your local firearm range. A guy comes in, takes the lane right next to you, and begins to unpack his “range bag”. What does he have in it? Numerous different pistols, maybe a shotgun, and maybe even a rifle (depending on the range); he’s got some ammunition; some high-tech headphones that allow him to talk in normal voice while they block out the harmful noise; protective glasses; maybe some tactical or other type of gloves; targets, stapler/tape, etc.
Now, as he points the muzzle in a safe direction, down range (rather than down) he locks the slide of each firearm back to demonstrate his understanding of safe handling and compliance with range rules, lays them on the counter, and preloads his magazines for convenience.
He attaches his target to the automatic carrier, pushes a button, and then watches it travel away from him until it gets to the ideal distance for him at which time, he releases the button and stops the target.
Next, he picks up his firearm, inserts a magazine, gets into a comfortable position, releases the slide, disengages the safety, places his finger on the trigger and……you thought I was gonna say that he starts shooting. But no, because his target is still moving back and forth because of the moment stoppage as he moved his target, he waits for it to stop moving (because the movement will detract from his accuracy) and only then does he start to shoot. Slow…controlled breathing…line up the sights…smooth trigger pull…trigger rese…and so on. He fires 8-20 rounds (firearm dependent) out of a magazine before its empty and the slide locks back.
The result? A really small, tightly clustered 1” group. WOW. Impressive! That guy is really skilled right?
Absolutely not! Anyone can do that under these circumstances. Anyone! And it doesn’t even take much practice. The other thing that is important to understand is that if this guy doesn’t practice, very regularly, even this fairly easily achieved “skill” will quickly perish.
This is the important question that needs to be asked about this “skill”:
Does he possess the same skills when his heart rate is 175bpm+ due to very high-level stress; can he do it under highly dynamic, dangerous, and changing circumstances; can he do it when he’s moving; can he do it when his target is moving; can he do it when both he and his target is moving; can he do it when all of these conditions exist? The answer? Absolutely, 100%, not. The most important of these conditions, the one that impacts ability the most? The elevated heart rate. How do you train for that? The answer is, it takes a lot of work, effort, time, equipment, and the right facilities to accomplish this. In general, this means law enforcement, military, and very specific professions. The fact is that very few have the means to acquire the physical skills but, even more importantly, the mental capacity and decision-making skills that will be necessary under the circumstances as they will be faced when they are needed.
Here’s the bottom line:
If you make a wrong decision, even if well-meaning, and someone gets hurt under circumstances that didn’t justify them getting hurt, and it was at your hand and based on a bad decision or lack of appropriate skill, you will be prosecuted and potentially sent to prison and, even if not prison in the end, the process to acquittal will destroy your life and the life or your family.
And further, there are many, many more things that will play a role in the potential consequences, or lack thereof. You would not believe the results of many of the stand your ground and/or self-defense cases, what was argued, and how judges and juries responded to these arguments. The bottom line is that there is no cut-and-dry case! Ever or under any circumstances! In fact, we have a 4-hour long course on Stand Your Ground and Responsible Firearm Ownership that takes that long to explain all of the dangers and risks that come with firearm carry and ownership.
THIS WILL SURPRISE YOU:
Regardless of who you are, how tough, capable, and able you think yourself to be to defend yourself or take the life of another, you will likely hesitate, and maybe too long. Unless you’ve been there and know what it feels like, you cannot know for certain and should never assume yourself to be able. I have seen some of the apparently most capable and tough people absolutely fold under high stress circumstances. Seriously, don’t assume yourself capable of things you might not be capable of; it could cause you your life or the life of someone you love and care about.
SO, WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?
If you are going to carry or possess a firearm, make sure it is a very well-informed decision and that you commit yourself to finding the resources that will be required to raise your skill levels in both shooting and decision-making under realistic, very high-stress circumstances. This truly does equate to a lot of time and investment.
HERE’S THE GOOD THING:
In my opinion, you don’t need a firearm in order to defend yourself, or your home. Does it help? Absolutely. The more tools the better. And I should emphasize that there is a vast difference between having a firearm in your home and carrying one. Everything that I have outlined as concern still applies in your home. It just applies differently because we are far less likely to need them within our homes and, if we do, it is likely (not guaranteed) we’ll have circumstances that would likely be more easily considered self-defense. Again, keep in mind that I said “likely” – not guaranteed. If you take our Stand Your Ground Course (coming soon in Blue-U Safe Kids, Family, Community) you will understand exactly why this is. In fact, all of the educational and training resources in Blue-U Safe Kids, Family, and Community are designed to provide practical, effective solutions to both prevention and survival.
So, before you make the decision to own or carry a firearm, just make certain that you are well versed in law, skill, mental capacity, and much more. I love guns! I only want people to understand the responsibility and risk that accompanies owning and carrying them.