″(a)ll persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property, and the state.” – Part 1, Article 2-a of the New Hampshire Constitution
Recently, I wrote an article on the need for a real conversation on firearms, the Second Amendment, and their place in “civil society” (https://bit.ly/2Ihv7lq). As expected I received several emails that offered suggestions as to how I might approach this conversation. Some helpful, some not so much. A conversation such as this requires focus, respect and patience, which is why I waited to write this series of columns away from the heat of the moment, while spreading the thought process over several articles.
As with most issues, it is important to be definitive when determining the end goal of a conversation, and we are far better off dissecting the conversation into small, well-defined tracks that lead us to that end goal. My goal for this conversation is simple: to eliminate the illegal use of firearms. That may not be your goal, or you may have different ideas on this topic. However, if this is a goal you can agree with, then we are already halfway there.
When I need to approach a conversation in the effort to build consensus (not necessarily total agreement), I find myself using a method some of you may be familiar with, the 6 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
When we discuss firearms in America, the 6W method is extremely helpful. Questions include who should be allowed to possess a firearm; what kind of firearms should be available; where should firearms be allowed to be carried; what is government’s role in the possession of firearms; what is an individual’s responsibility as a firearms owner; what kind of firearms should be legal and how do we prevent gun violence?
There are many more questions that can be added to this topic, and many would be similar in nature, just asked differently. However, surrounding all these questions is the most important W, the word why. The biggest why is “why do people own firearms?” I cannot speak for all firearms owners, but I can for myself.
When you meet me, you can be certain of two things. I am both gracious and armed. The degree to which I may be armed will vary depending on the situation, but my graciousness knows no bounds. Some of you might be taken aback, perplexed either by the fact I believe myself to be gracious, but more likely because I state without reservation that I am committed to my own self-defense. Some may ask why I feel the need to carry weapon. That is a great first question when we commit ourselves to a rational conversation on firearms. Who owns a firearm and why they choose to exercise the right of self-defense will surprise many who choose not to be armed.
Too often we only seem to talk about those among us who use guns in a criminal manner, and it is fair conversation to have, but it is only a small part of the equation. Every day you pass by law-abiding citizens who are armed and you don’t even know it. Each of us is ordained with certain natural rights. Chief among these is the right to life and one’s ability to defend themselves. No reasonable person would argue a law-abiding person should be denied the right to their own self-defense. That defense will vary greatly based on numerous factors.
Should you choose not to possess a firearm, or other instruments that may aid in your survival, that is your right. But if you have not planned and prepared as to how you would handle a violent encounter, you have already labeled yourself a victim. And if that plan is to wait for the police, you have already lost. The police are under no obligation to protect you, and even the best police response will not be quick enough to prevent you from being victimized. Ask any police officer (off the record), and most will say they have never responded to the pre-scene of a crime. If that were not a true statement, the adage “there is never a cop around when you need one” would not be part of our lexicon.
I don’t hunt, nor am I part of a biathlon team. I am neither interested in Bambi or a gold medal. I am concerned with one simple fact, the safety of my family, friends and my community. I have a firearm (as well as other self-defense tools) for one reason only: to protect my safety and that of those around me, including you. That is it. I do not have an inferiority complex, nor am I not paranoid. This juvenile approach to this conversation only makes you look foolish and ill-prepared for a serious conversation on not just firearms, but the larger discussion on violence and self-defense.
What I do possess is an absolute clarity of the world we live in. It is a world filled will decent, trusting people. It is also a world with just enough bad people for us as a society to always be vigilant. This is not a new epidemic, but a constant condition of mankind.
My possessing arms in the defense of my family in no way impedes on your freedoms. The illegal application of an instrument such as a gun, knife, car, computer to inflict harm on another provides us the opportunity as a culture to construct laws that address the offenders, while respecting a person’s right to self-defense and privacy.
In my next few articles we will explore more of the 6 Ws related to firearms.