Carrying a gun. Who does it? Well, for as long as I have known anything about guns and have been able to make my own decisions, I have, without hesitation, been opposed to carrying a gun. Let me be clear, my opposition has been solely directly inward. I have never, nor would I ever, feel that I have any right to tell another person what he/she can/cannot own or carry. The Amendment takes care of that very clearly and I am not more powerful than any Amendment. My opposition has been based on my feeling that I would not be able to, or want to, protect myself from a perpetrator. I would say, “I have lived a good life and if it is my time to go, then, I go.”
The events of 9/11 were horrific. I awoke from working a midnight shift around noon and was so dazed and confused by what I was seeing on TV that I called a friend and said, “Please, tell me what the hell is going on!” So many years later, the one thing that I continue to recall, that I cannot get out of my head, is the people who were using their cellphones to call their family/friends. Not long after 9/11, without even thinking about it or making a conscious decision, I began to take my cellphone when ever I go into a business. To this day, if I get out of the car without it, I go back to retrieve it. I do not want to be in a situation where I need to make a call and I am forced to rely on someone else to let me use their phone.
About three years ago, as a matter of fact, just the other day, Google asked me to “Remember this day?” I did not realize the day until I started scrolling through the pictures and, I froze. This was the day that the “granddaughters” and I were in a very large store. The girls were jumping on beds, I was getting in trouble for their actions, and we were all very happy. The store was very busy for a Sunday morning. Then, just like that, someone taps me on the shoulder and says, ma’am, we are evacuating the store. I turned around to find out who was talking to me and I saw that everyone in the store was in line and heading out. No additional information was given. I immediately picked the youngest up and grabbed the hand of the oldest. I told the oldest, Do NOT let go of my hand for any reason! We got in line and all I kept thinking was, “I have to protect these girls. I do not know from who or what but I have to protect them. I have nothing to protect them with but my body.” We existed the store after passing sheriff deputies armed with rifles, still not knowing what was happening. I did not find out until much later that there had been a road rage incident that involved a gun and the perpetrators had run into the store. I have never been back to that store. I do not blame the business, they did what they knew and did it well and orderly. However, I will never feel comfortable in that store again. I will never be able to shop in that store without constantly looking over my shoulder and worrying about my safety and the safety of those who are with me.
With all of the shootings that have happened, it is not just this store that I do not feel safe in. Honestly, I never feel safe in any store. Frequently, when I am shopping, at some point I think, “What if someone come in right now and starts shooting?” Inside, I feel a little fearful but I keep going about my day. I will not let the “what ifs” paralyze me but, I cannot ignore the world as it exists today.
Moving along. Recently there was the Pulse Nightclub shooting. I was out of town and that morning, I was told that there had been a shooting in Orlando on Orange Blossom Trail. I took it lightly and replied, “Oh, it was probably some prostitute/pimp altercation.” When I returned home, that afternoon I received a call inquiring about my knowledge of the shooting. At this point, I figured it was time to “Ask Google”. Well, I was speechless. People enjoying themselves at a nightclub, gunned down simply because they were there. The gunman did not ask for credentials, resumes, CVs, or bios. The mission was to kill, which seems to oftentimes be the mission. People die because they pick the wrong time/place to conduct their business or attempt to have fun.
The day after the Pulse shooting, I said, “NO MORE!” I have no desire to let some random person take my life without even attempting to protect myself. I will not be killed without at least saying, “I tried to save my own life.” In one month, I went from having no interest in guns to owning a gun, obtaining a concealed carry permit, going to the gun range, and carrying a concealed weapon. I stress, this is not a decision that I took lightly nor do I believe that any person should do as I have done.
When discussing this topics with others, some were aligned with my way of thinking and said they could understand why I would although, it was not for them. My favorite response was the few who said they do not believe in guns (as though they are magical unicorns) and they refused to even discuss the topic. I appreciate one’s desire either way but I find it troubling that one person would shut another down simply because of differing beliefs. Oh wait, people behave this way every single day. Sigh.
My desire to own a gun and conceal carry is the direct result of my experiences and the feelings that have developed within me related to my safety and the ability of the government (federal and local) to adequately protect me. I absolutely hope to never have to pull the trigger. In a situation where I have to take it out (and I hope to never), I would like to believe that showing it will be enough to have the perpetrator back away. However, my bottom line is that I value my life and the lives of those closest to me too much to allow any person to end it all for us without at least trying to fight back.