About Weapons

I never really planned on owning firearms.  Frankly, I never gave it much thought.  My father, who passed away a couple years ago, always had a small Ruger .22 pistol at the ready for dispatching marauding groundhogs from his garden to that great groundhog beyond.   But to my knowledge, that’s all he ever used it for.  When I was a little kid, he took me out in the woods and let me shoot it.  My admittedly vague memories of the day are that he told me it was a hair trigger and then I popped off three rounds into a nearby tree and that was that.

At summer camp, I always took marksmanship classes, though for a couple of years, I got really excited about archery.  Archery has a certain elegance about it that I still find appealing.  I even had my own bow and a modest quiver of arrows from the Bear Archery Company and got to be pretty good for a kid of my limited age.  But as most things do when you’re young, I lost interest after a couple of years and discovered some other hobby to pursue.  

Fast forward to the Army.  In my nearly 29-year career, I shot all sort of goodies from howitzers and machine guns to the Beretta 9mm, the standard issue for Army officers for the last half of my career.  For nearly 270 days straight while deployed to Bosnia, I strapped my 9mm to my shoulder and walked around with live ammunition, occasionally loading the magazine into the weapon for trips off post.  That was mandatory.  So was clearing it three times a day on each trip to the chow hall.  Safety first and all that.

I’ve never been shot at and I’ve never fired a weapon in self-defense even though I’ve spent time in places where such things routinely occurred.  Let’s face it, rifle ranges are intended to work in one direction only, and if you find yourself on a two-way rifle range, you’re in a shootin’ war of some sort.  I got lucky and never had to experience that.

So the upshot (pun intended) of all this is that I have fired and carried firearms for most of my adult life. Though even during the Los Angeles riots in the early ‘90’s, I’ve never been in a situation in which I needed to brandish my weapon for defense or for any other reason.  But I understand weapons, know how to use them and have a healthy respect for the damage they can inflict when used for nefarious purposes.  

After the massacre at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater a few months back, I found myself thinking about what I’d do if I found myself in such a situation.   (We guys always do that!  You know, like could I land a 747 if the pilots were all out of commission?)  More importantly, I found myself thinking about what I would do to defend Nate or Garrett, the 5 and 7-year-old kidlings I often take to the movies.   My first thought was that I’d hope I have the presence of mind and the courage to cover them with my body and protect them.  But the more I thought about this, the more I thought that all I was doing was trying to prevent them from becoming victims not really defending them.  As for me?  Well, such an action would have no hint of defense in it for me.  Instead, I would be instantaneously submitting myself to victimhood no matter the perceived nobility of purpose.  And I didn’t like the sound of that.

It’s an academic discussion.  I fully recognize that such a scenario is extremely unlikely to unfold in my presence making it all a fun exercise in mental gum chewing.  But I still didn’t like the idea of immediately submitting myself to victimhood.  It bugged me.  

Then came the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Just as the rest of our Nation did, I watched the news unfold as the information assaulted me from TV, radio and the Internet.  I thought about what it would be like to have been in a position to stop the slaughter or at the very least to mitigate the carnage.  But I would have been just as helpless as the principal at Sandy Hook, Dawn Hochsprung, who armed only with her passion to protect her students, courageously and nobly tried to subdue the vicious, crazy bastard and lost her life in the process.  She didn’t stand a chance.  She became a victim the moment that she took the first step toward the attacker.

I’m not going to make the argument about gun control from the facts in these words I’ve written.  I’m not in a position to make decisions for you or for anyone else.  Each of us has to decide what they can live with and what they can’t.  When you stare at yourself in the mirror in the morning, we each have to live with whatever decisions we make.  I’m not going to make decisions for anyone about what constitutes “having done enough” to protect the people they care about.  But for me, I’ve come to the conclusion that submitting myself to victimhood in order to protect my family is not enough.   

I’m trained and will continue to train.  I have a healthy respect for firearms and what they can do.  I also know that were I ever to draw a firearm in defense of life or property, I’m going for the head shot.  There’s no such thing as “shoot to wound.”  That protects the attacker and not the family. I’m not in the attacker protecting business.  

So now I’m armed.  Not all the time, of course, but I’m not going to publish openly under what conditions I will be.  I don’t like the idea, but for me it’s not enough to hope that you’re not going to get hit by a random gunman’s bullet.  Hope is no more of a defense than it is an economic strategy.  My checkbook balance represents this harsh reality.  My legally concealed handgun represents it too.

Our world has become a very different and very weird place since my dad took me out to shoot his .22 Ruger back in the early 60’s.  The world has even changed since I left Los Angeles just ten years ago.   It used to seem that you could stay safe by avoiding parts of town known for higher crime rates, but it seems as though it’s getting tougher and tougher to do that.  It’s not enough for me to avoid bad areas and plan to sacrifice myself for the safety of my family.  

It’s just not enough.

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