Last night after having several beers I found myself arguing gun laws with an attorney. While on the topic, we both said when we most likely felt the need to be armed. Interestingly enough, we were opposites. He said he felt the need to be armed when in the country or in non-urban areas. I said I felt the need more when I was in more urban areas. I didn’t think about it much until this morning. But we were both right. Neither one of us “needs” a gun.
There are only a few things any human truly needs. Oxygen, water, sustenance. Those are really the only needs to keep someone alive. But is that really living? Even monks who remove all personal possessions from their life and devote their waking moments towards spiritual enlightenment have more than just those basic three things. They have people around them to converse with, and they have their spiritual journey.
You see, living just to live, well… Isn’t really living at all, is it? Everyone must find purpose in life in order to feel they’re living for a reason. It doesn’t matter what your purpose is, or what makes you feel that you’re fulfilling your life goals. This is between you and yourself. You and your maker. God and you. Whatever you want to call it. What everyone else is doing is largely irrelevant.
So what does any of this have to do with our topic? Well, back to need. I don’t need a gun. It’s not something I’ve ever needed in my life, and it’s something I hope I will never need in my future. The attorney I had talked to, he too had never needed a gun, and I’m fairly certain that he wanted to keep things this way. Most people never want to need a gun, or any weapon for that matter. But that’s not why we have guns, is it? We don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on firearms because we need them. We don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on ammunition because we need it. We don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on firearm training because we need it. And we certainly don’t invest hours upon hours into deciding which gun to purchase, carry, train with, live with, because we need to.
We don’t need any of this, until we do.
This is where the argument for not needing a gun falls apart. You can tell me I don’t need a gun all day long, and I can agree with you all day long. We can both be in agreement all the way up until the point that I, or even you, need a gun. At this point you must admit, it’s certainly going to be awkward for you, or me, if we’ve spent our whole life saying we don’t need a gun, only to spend what quite possibly could be the last seconds of our life actually needing a gun.
We don’t need guns because they’re magical. They do not symbolize good, or bad. They’re not righteous or evil. A gun is a tool, a machine. “Call the cops” is a term we’re used to hearing. While law enforcement officers are people of good intention, they’re still just people. We don’t “call the cops” when we need a gun because they’re super people with special powers, we call them because we know they have gun, and they’re going to do their best to help innocent people.
What’s the downside to calling the cops? They’re trained, they have guns, they have numbers. Sounds like a great plan.
Except when it’s not.
Let’s pretend you aren’t the target of the attack. You see some guy with a gun, he starts shooting at someone or some people. You whip out your trusty cell phone and start taking video…
Wait, that’s the wrong train of thought for another article.
So, you whip out your trusty cell phone and call 911. Some how, you’re able to give an accurate description of the shooter, what he’s wearing, which way he’s walking/running, how many people are wounded, and if the shooter has any accomplices.
<bang> another person shot
<shooter runs towards another group of people>
<bang, bang, bang> two more people shot
<shooter walks over to a mother and child>
<bang, bang> both the mother and child are shot
This will continue until the cops show up, you know, the people with the guns. So, do you see why only relying on calling the cops is a bad idea? I’m not downplaying the role that first responders play in these incidents. Great strides have been taken to educate and train first responders across the country on how to deal with active shooter incidents. The problem is the wait. You call a dispatcher who has to call other people, or even another dispatcher who has to call people. The cops will show up, but the response time isn’t instant. How much is your time worth when you’re dying? How much money would you give to spend just another minute with your child, your mother, your wife?
Probably everything you have, right?
Let’s jump back a couple paragraphs now. I said you imagine you weren’t the target. Did you ask yourself why I said that? The reason I said this was so you could call 911 to report what was going on. But what if you are the target? If you’re the target, you won’t have time to call 911. You may not even see the attack starting. You may never even know that you died. That’s how this works in the real world. Gunmen don’t announce themselves. They just pick someone, and shoot. Sometimes they have a goal or a target, sometimes they do not. Sometimes these incidents take place in crowded areas, sometimes they do not. If you’re the target and you’re in the mall or other such crowded area, there’s a good chance that someone may call 911 instead of video tape you getting shot. But what if you’re in an alley? No one will call 911, not right away at least. But even if someone calls 911, you’re still waiting. Waiting for the cops to show up. Why? Because they have the guns, remember?
What about EMS? Yeah, those people are staged outside, at distance, waiting for the cops to clear the scene of any threats. The police probably won’t be too worried about you until they know there’s no more threat. Even once that’s done, they may not have trauma training, or have a kit on them to treat your wounds. So again, you’ll be waiting for EMS, which is staged, outside.
So you see, we don’t need guns, until we do. And when we do, we need it right now. Not in 5 minutes, not in 30 seconds. NOW! That’s the short sighted nature that causes people to lose their lives. It’s like getting into a car and not choosing to wear a seat belt because you’ll just put it on before the crash. Crashes are violent and abrupt, just like real life attacks.
While most of us would give anything and everything to be with our families just a few minutes more, sometimes there’s a cheaper and more permanent solution. A firearm and basic safety training generally run less than $1,000. This is cheap insurance that may be able to help you stay alive. Of course this isn’t foolproof. You can never know how any situation will turn out. But you can be ready, you can be more than a lost sheep trying to weather the storm. You can be the person who saves their own life.
In summary, I’ve never needed my smoke detector, my carbon monoxide detector, my fire extinguisher, my house alarm, my seat belt in my car, my airbags, the AED at the mall I walked by, or any number of safety items I routinely occupy the same space with. I’ve also never needed my firearms. I consider myself to be lucky, but also, prepared. I’m prepared for most emergencies, including violent attacks on me or my family. So, I don’t need a gun, but I want one. I want to have the choice to protect myself, just as I want the choice to put out a fire in my kitchen. I want the choice of wearing my seat belt. My life is about my choices that I make which impact me and the people around me. You may not need a gun, and I may not need a gun. But I choose to want a gun, I choose to carry a gun. Do not deprive me of my choice, because it may just be your life I save when you need a gun.