The Fear of Guns
One night my wife and I were coming out of a late movie at the mall theater in Albany, NY and as we were walking down the dark sidewalk to the back parking lot we ran into a situation. Sue was walking down the center of the sidewalk and I was to her right (closest to the curb). Walking directly toward her, also in the center of the sidewalk was this guy. This angry looking guy, about six foot five, maybe two hundred and fifty pounds, wearing a hoodie so I could barely see his face. But I could tell he was not happy and he was not moving to the side. Keep in mind this sidewalk was plenty wide enough to accommodate three people from side to side. When you recognize a situation like this, it is hard to rationalize it away because there is an instant “Fight or Flight” mechanism that kicks in when we sense some sort of danger. As much as some people will tell you not to judge people or assume they are bad and looking for trouble, it can be a challenge you to keep your internal thoughts calm in a time when you sense danger. I don’t care who you are; you get scared because you don’t know the outcome. But you must stay rational and when you are prepared to defend yourself, the fear is decreased.
So, as this creep get’s closer to Sue, walking straight toward her, I’m boiling over with adrenaline and trying to keep calm. “He is not moving to the side”, I thought. “He’s going to run right into her”. When he got about three feet away from her, she quickly moved to her right and he bumped her so hard in the shoulder that she bumped into me and knocked me off the curb. We both almost fell over and he kept walking down the center of the sidewalk like he owned it. This was no accident. He was clearly looking for trouble and trying to get a reaction out of me.
I turned around still holding her hand and was just about ready to lay into this A$$hole, but before the words came out, visions of my wife, my son, my great life and everything I’ve worked so hard to build flashed before my eyes. I had a moment of reality and realized that it’s not worth it to put everything at risk. To be honest, I didn’t want to get hurt. Most importantly, I didn’t want my wife to get hurt. And if something tragic were to happen, I didn’t want my son to be alone. How did I know what this guy was capable of? Somehow I had this moment of clarity and we slowly walked to the car as I bit my lip. To be clear, had I been carrying I would have had even more reason to keep my mouth shut and keep walking but if this guy decided he wanted a bigger piece of me I would have at least been able to protect myself and my wife.
Sue and I got into the car and were silent for a few minutes. I slowly put the key in the ignition; turned to look at her-feeling the most shameful, irresponsible and incapable I have ever felt. I told her I was sorry. I was sorry I put her in a situation like that. I was sorry that I might not have been able to defended her against this monster if a situation had arisen. I was sorry I was unable to protect and defend one of the two most important people in my life. I realized in that moment that life is vulnerable and as a man it is my responsibility to take care of and protect my family. That night I did not and I was ashamed.
Throughout my life, I’ve seen some wild things, done some wild things and been in some situations that……well, let’s just say it’s a miracle I’m here. But I’m a bit older now. I’d like to think I’m wiser and beyond the point in my life that I want to be rolling around on the ground exchanging punches with anyone. I told Sue in the car that night, that as long as she was with me I would never let her be put in a situation where she was defenseless again. I told her I was getting a gun.
Now, keep in mind when it comes to guns, Sue was clueless. She had never been around them, didn’t know the first thing about them and held the belief that most media outlets love to propagate-the misconception that guns are bad and only kill people. So it took some persuading and reassuring to help her feel comfortable-first with the idea, then with the physicality of actual guns in the house and one in my belt.
As a gun owner there is a completely different understanding of what we are capable of and the responsibility we have that we didn’t have before. People who conceal carry are much more likely to avoid the situation and have a different view of situations with respect to reactions and emotions. A lot changes and interactions are handled completely different now because the fear level is different and the understanding of your ability is different. It’s even more crucial to avoid any confrontation whatsoever.
Through the process of getting re-trained, licensing, educating myself on all the models and features new handguns have, ammo options, safes, holsters and all the safety procedures I started to gain a passion for these interesting devices. Frankly, they’re pretty cool. Mechanically they are amazing and I literally can’t wait to get to the range. Lucky for me, I have some really informative, articulate and skillful friends who walked me through the entire process and took great care in training me and holding me accountable to every aspect of the process. The friends I have met that shoot are some of the most respectful and responsible people I know. The interesting thing that non-gun owners may not be aware of is that there is a mental piece that goes along with gun ownership and a responsibility that many people will never understand. I now understand what Dad was talking about. The entire process of embracing the gun culture and working through my wife’s emotions and beliefs (as well as my own) has been an enlightening experience. When we are now in a potentially dangerous location, she asks if I’m carrying.
The whole reason I am writing this is to get to the psychological piece. I know there are some people reading this that will never allow themselves to accept gun ownership and that’s ok but by recognizing the fear of guns and addressing the fact that most of what we see in the media depicts guns as killing devices, we may start to be able to see through that propaganda and understand the value in preserving the precious gift of life.
When some people think of guns they instantly think of death and the killing of people. I think it is so sad that these folks have to walk around all day with these destructive, murderous thoughts in their minds, while others are able to recognize the beauty of being able to defend themselves and feel comfortable and safe. I prefer the feeling of safety to fear and would assume you agree. Now getting back to the fear thing. What is fear? I talk about fear in my book“Defining Success in America” in depth but in a nutshell fear is caused by a situation where some information is missing. In other words, a lack of data where having certain information would allow you to see the entire picture, know the outcome and feel safe. There comes a sense of certainty when you have all the relevant data on something. As gun owners, we would be better off understanding that it is fear and lack of knowledge that drives the anti-gun people. Understanding that much may serve us better when it comes to educating them and counteracting some of their misguided rhetoric and anger. I also believe that rather than taking a reactive approach to the demonizing of guns, we as gun owners would be much more effective if we were to take a proactive forward moving approach. It seems like we are always defending our rights rather than exercising them. Implementing new firearm related events and options for the public would be a great start. The truth is, more people are showing an interest in firearms than the media would like us to believe. The problem is, the minority is much louder.
Now, with that in mind let’s look at how the media portrays guns. We all know that we can turn on any news channel and if they are talking about guns it is never positive and always a story about how guns can kill people. The truth about guns is that they save lives. Ask yourself who you would rather have defend you in the parking lot of a convenience store at two in the morning when a knife wielding maniac is demanding your money. Would you like a soft-spoken person with a kind heart and compassion for the criminal or would you prefer an armed police officer. Any logical thinking person would pick the police officer in a time of desperate need. But the problem is, the police officer is never there. Oh, he will be but you may have to give him 5-10 minutes. So you’ll have to ask the parking lot maniac to hold on while you call 911, navigate through the operator’s questions and then ask your new friend to put his knife down and sit on the curb with you while the two of you wait for the cops to arrive and straighten this misunderstanding out.
Of course I’m being sarcastic! Who in their right mind cannot see the logic here? The fact is, there are a few possible ways this situation can play out.
1. The knife-wielding lunatic can come to his senses and walk away, leaving you unharmed.
2. You can time-travel to another location.
3. The maniac kills you and takes your money.
4. You shoot the Criminal and save your own life.
Look, the reality is (whether you want to see it or not) it is possible that you too may find yourself in a situation like this. Heck, it happens to people every single day. The question you may want to ask yourself is, “Do you want to be able to defend yourself?” Maybe you don’t. I guess that’s ok too. I do want to defend myself. I also want to defend my loved ones and the good people around me. Some that I may have never even met.
I was talking to a guy who was anti-gun (I say “was” because he was finally able to see the benefit of self-defense) and I gave him a scenario. I said:
“Let’s say hypothetically that you and I are walking through the mall. We don’t know each other but it’s Christmas time and the place is hopping’. People are walking around with their shopping bags full of gifts that they can’t wait for their families to open, Jingle Bell Rock is playing on the sound system, you have your Starbucks Latte in your hand and we happen to be near each other. All of a sudden a masked gunman announces that everyone needs to lie down on the floor as he starts shooting people. I know this could never happen <sarcasm>. But if it could and knowing your strict anti-gun rules, you knew that I had a licensed firearm on me. You knew this because you saw me duck behind a wall as I pulled it out of my belt. My question to you is, in that moment what thoughts and feelings are rushing through you and………who just became your new best friend?”
Sometimes logic does prevail and sometimes people can put their political beliefs aside so they can allow themselves the right to protect their own life. I understand that to some the political narrative is much stronger than the ability to believe that harm can come their way even amidst the countless number of times these horrible situations occur. The general argument among the “Anti-gunners” is that the world would be a better place if all guns were removed from society. Although that may be a nice thought with respect to safety, it is fear that drives that thought process. It’s the fear of not understanding guns and not knowing how to use them. Some people think guns “go off” all by them self and they are dangerous just sitting there. We all know that’s not true. Some people believe that it is actually possible to take guns out of existence. That is just not true. Gun restrictions only restrict the people who obey the laws. In other words; “the good guys”. Here’s the logic that has been falling on deaf ears for decades. Bad guys don’t pay attention to gun laws. They will still have guns while good people are left unarmed and helpless.
So why in the world would anyone support this kind of regulation against something so vital to our existence?
There is an element of our society that wants Utopia and they believe it can be achieved. You know, a world where everyone is kind to one and other, there is no poverty, everyone has the same amount of money, all are considered equal, everyone is singing Kumbaya in unison and there are no bad guys. There is a delusional mindset among us that believes this could actually be possible. It’s a fringe element of our society that is becoming more mainstream as the years go by. In the process of creating this Utopian society many actions would need to be taken. The disarming of citizens is only one of them. You see, if this government-controlled society were to exist, it could not have any opposition. It sounds great in theory, but in the inevitably impossible attempt to create this dreamland we will simultaneously be putting ourselves in grave danger.
You decide how important government is to you. You decide what values you hold as an American…And you decide what you are willing to do to preserve the way of life that you want your kids and grandkids to live.
To your Success,