Dec 1, 2012

This past summer I went out with a high school classmate of mine while I was traveling for work.  When I got into his car, I noticed a gun on the floor.  I didn't freak out but a number of questions ran through my mind.  The gun was the clear "elephant" in the car so he started to explain why he had it as soon as he got into the car.  After which a debate ensued.  He had a permit.  He took some classes and I have no reason to think that he would be irresponsible and trigger-happy but he did not answer my questions satisfactorily about the true need to carry.  We grew up together in Gary, Indiana where there was high crime and many of our friends have been killed or survived a gunshot wound(s). I totally get his background but I still asked him quite a few questions.  Are you in imminent danger?  Have you been threatened by someone?  Do you live in a dangerous neighborhood?  Do you work in a dangerous neighborhood?  He answered no to all of these questions.  Then I asked was he paranoid, to which he was slightly offended.  He told me no but he just really couldn't shake the need for protection based on how we grew up.  In the end we agreed to disagree.  My final statement was he was grown man that could make his own decisions and he is carrying a weapon legally.  Yet I was disappointed.

My disappointment did not come about because I am so far removed from the environment in which we grew up.  I lock my doors hitting the lock button on my remote multiple times.  I check and recheck that I indeed locked the doors to my place.  Every now and then, I change up my driving routine as my dad told me to do when I was younger because you just never know who is watching and studying your routine.  My dad has also suggested to me to get a small pistol just to have.  I've seriously considered it and I will never rule out his suggestion.  I understand the logic.  I am not against the right to bear arms and protect yourself, your family and your property.  There was a gun in the house growing up.  I never knew where it was until there was an unexpected knock at the door and I went to my parents' room to tell my dad.  Apparently he heard the knock because by the time I peeked my head in to tell him, I saw him reach to an unusual spot and I thought, "hmm that must be where he keeps it." The whole reason I told him was I knew he probably would answer the door protected.  That's why I did not answer the late night knock even though I was closer to the door at the time.  I get it.  My own mother was packing one day because my brother foolishly did not come home on time after recently being threatened by his perpetrators' family after being found guilty of the armed robbery committed against my brother.  I totally get it.

Undeniably there are times when we are under a real threat of violence and crime.  That is the whole reason police, military, and security personnel are usually armed.  But aren't there times when there isn't a need?  Most people just say you never know when something will happen and there is a level of truth to that.  It is like an insurance policy.  You have it just in case or as with life and health insurance the inevitable.  But what about probabilities and likelihoods?  All things are possible but not probable.  Am I saying that those in low crime areas have no reason to carry a weapon?  No.  There are instances where risks are higher such as traveling alone, those late night unexpected knocks at the door, etc.  I can concede that you just never know.  But as I challenged my friend about being paranoid, there are times when people are looking for trouble when there is no trouble.  I am of the opinion that a person's threat antennas are always raised when carrying a weapon.  Every signal is construed as a threat.  Have you ever been around people that are always emotionally guarded?  They are always on edge and likely misread situations.  They overreact and true to the saying, they go off half-cocked.

Also, I think that people who carry are emboldened to do things they would not ordinarily do.  It is that way by design for police, military and security personnel.  (Even then they are trained to diffuse threats without the use of deadly force). Armed criminals have more coercive power than unarmed criminals.  And a man at a gas station would ask a group of teenagers to turn down loud music.  Wholeheartedly I believe the man who shot and killed Jordan Davis would have just sat in his car annoyed at the loud music while waiting on his girlfriend to return to the car, if he didn't have a weapon.  If you are unarmed, you think of ways to get out of a situation unharmed and without causing harm to others.  If you are armed, you are ready to fight and confront at a moment's notice.  Being egocentric, if you are armed, then the other person must be too.  Somehow a nonexistent or remotely possible threat now is perceived as a probable threat and one has to kill or be killed.  Really?  That is an acceptable mentality?  We tend to think to be emotionally guarded all the time is a sad way to live.  I posit to you that it is the a sad way to live to be physically guarded all the time.  To be guarded all the time emotionally or physically, one can not discern actual truth/fact with perception. And to err on the side of the "threat" can have devastating and fatal consequences.  We have too many examples of those fatal consequences, specifically with our black males, in this country.  Gun control was not a topic of real debate in this past election but I hope it comes to the fore and rational heads will prevail.  If we can render Citizens United pointless and a waste of money, we can come together and diminish the influence of the NRA and enact laws that can ultimately protect us from ourselves.

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