Why I Carry A Gun

Badge OPD LtA friend of mine from California recently asked me why I carry a gun. I know the anti-gun sentiment is very strong in some circles, that to some people the mere possession of a gun by anyone is offensive, and that the solution to the problem of violence is to outlaw guns. I have friends who feel this way…and yes, they’re still my friends.

In answering this question, I’ll assume my friend really wanted an answer and didn’t ask it in the manner of my ex-wife’s questions that took the form of, “Why do you need to track dirt into the house?”

Before I answer the question, I need to tell you about me. For nearly thirty years, I carried a badge and gun for a living. During those years, I saw firsthand what evil things people can do to others. I learned that there are bad men (and a few bad women) out there who will use physical violence to hurt and take advantage of those weaker than them.

I’ve seen it on battlefields on the other side of the world and on the streets of our nation’s cities. I’ve seen the results of that evil firsthand in thousands of assault, rapes and murder victims as a police officer in Oakland. I’ve seen it in a larger scale in mass graves and senseless IED bombings in Iraq.

The U.S. Army and the Oakland Police Department have given me some of the best training in the world so that I could combat that evil. For 30 years, I used that training countless times, as did my brother and sister police officers and soldiers. I know my efforts saved many lives over the years and put away many evil men.

Federal law authorizes off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms nationwide. Our lawmakers recognized the existence of the kind of evil about which I mentioned and the special abilities of off-duty and retired officers to combat it whenever and wherever it appears.

From the time I was legally authorized to do so, I carried a concealed firearm even when off-duty. I didn’t carry it openly wear a macho tee-shirt to advertise my armed status. My friend in California, who only knew me off-duty, might be surprised to know that every time she saw me—several times a week for more than ten years—I was armed. I never expected to use it off-duty and hoped I would never have to. I didn’t carry a gun because I hoped to get into a gunfight any more than I kept a fire extinguisher in my house because I hoped for a house fire or wore a seatbelt because I expected to crash my car.

Nearly 40 years ago, I chose a life path dedicated to protecting the weaker members of society from those who would do them physical harm. I didn’t chose that path because I thought I was better, tougher, or somehow morally superior. I didn’t choose that path because I wanted to inflict violence on others. I chose it because I wanted to protect.

In a more perfect world, there would be no need for people such as me. However, that is not the world as it is. I wish evil did not exist, but wishful thinking doesn’t change the reality. I’ve seen it happen in places once deemed safe: schools, churches, movie theaters, shopping malls, and our homes. If I knew exactly when and where it would occur, I could probably leave my gun in my home safe 99.9% of the time.

In retirement, I pray I will never have to face a violent individual intent upon killing or seriously injuring an innocent person. However, if the situation arises, I want to be ready to do whatever is necessary to protect innocents from harm.

That’s why I carry a gun.

11 thoughts on “Why I Carry A Gun

  1. If people didn’t have guns in America, you wouldn’t need to carry one: note Britain or Australia. And you don’t need a sub-machine gun or armour-piercing bullets. As a matter of fact both were legalized under Bush despite opposition by the heads of police departments. America sells fear better than any nation except perhaps Russia. No doubt as a police officer you can agree there is no reason why we have such munitions nor any reason why we don’t register all guns. Maybe you are a good person, but I know some police are not: they have guns and power and those are misused because absolute power is not a good thing.

  2. This is the best, most honest explanation I’ve heard yet about gun possession. Thank you for both your service and your integrity.
    Being a police officer never appealed to me, not for lack of respect for the job, but for a much more mundane reason. I don’t like to drive at night, and I don’t like to shoot guns. I took a course in shooting, and disliked all of it. My hands turned to hamburger. You’ve heard the old saw about not being able to hit the broad side of a barn? That was me. I hate the loud noise (thank God we live in a country where they don’t inscript women into the military; I would have PTSD by the end of the first day of battle.) Frankly, I took the class just so I would have a clue if, during direct conflict, I got a hold of a weapon. I would at least want to know to unlock it. I don’t own a gun. You wouldn’t want me to have a gun. I already have (mild) chronic PTSD from having been run over by a bus years ago. I have a temper. And I have been the target of violent characters in Berkeley and Oakland for activism in community policing.

    • Thank you, Sam, for reading this and your comments. I too, appreciate, your honesty. One of the many things wonderful about our country is our freedom of choice. Everyone does not need to be a soldier or police officer. Those who are best suited to those roles gladly assume them and protect those who, for a variety of reasons, take up other roles in our society. I’m sure you contribute to society and your community in other ways, quite possibly doing things I had no desire to do.

Please comment or tell me what you think about this.