A 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.