2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Right to Bear Arms (Why Concealed Carry?)

I am a CCW (Concealed Carry of Weapons) licensee in the State of Ohio. Simple enough. In Ohio it is legal (but uncommon) to carry a weapon in public as long as it is kept in plain sight and is legal to own otherwise. Every year there are open carry marches held around the state for people to exercise this right. However, if you are like me and wish to carry a firearm concealed under clothing or in a vehicle, you must apply for a license to do so through your local county sheriff. There are a bunch of us and growing more by the day. Why? Not so simple enough. To the many out there that think that gun ownership is just a way for somebody to compensate for their lack of self-esteem, a Freudian phallic juxtaposition, rampant paranoia, the beginning stages of a mass murder yet to be committed or other such crap, I say "get real". Sure, there are bound to be people to which these theories hold true. If there weren't those of us in the pro-gun category would be able to easily cast aside these accusations. To these folks the ideas that there may be some among them carrying weapons causes the greatest of fear responses. But alas, their fears of fender benders turning into wild west shoot outs and random senseless shootings in the streets have been left unfulfilled.

There arguments are almost never ending; "I don't need a gun, that's what we have the police for". Fair enough argument, I'll give you that. Major respect for the boys and girls in blue (or white as they are here in Columbus) and the work that they do - God knows I wouldn't want to have to conduct a traffic stop in the middle of the night in a bad section of town. But again I say "get real". The police, no matter how dedicated they are, can not follow me around and guarantee my personal safety or that of my family 24 hours a day. Nor are they legally bound to per the supreme court. They are responsible for the body public at large. While they may be liable for any injuries or harm that comes to a member of this body due to their own actions/in-actions, they are not liable for the injury/harm of one member due to the actions of another member. In most major cities it takes from 2 - 5 minutes for a response to a 911 call. Where I live it takes slightly longer. How long does it take a round of ammunition traveling from 900 - 1200 feet per second to travel the few feet it may be separating myself from an assailant? I don't have those numbers but I will venture to guess significantly less than 2 - 5 minutes.

The truth is this. The vast majority of those of us who choose to legally carry a firearm are honest, law abiding citizens. Just to get a license we have to provide proof of training that enables us to handle firearms safely and pass a criminal background check. How many other random individuals that you come across every day can you say that about? We are all around you, and growing. We are white collar, blue collar, white, black, hispanic, men, women, old, young, straight, gay, urban, rural, rich, poor, republican and democrat (I know some will question that one but its true - out current CCW law was even signed by our Democrat Governor) and every other description under the sun. I myself am a 40 year old white male who is also father, state employee, husband, veteran and many things that differentiates me from other CCW holders. One thing we all have in common is the belief that we have the inherent right to protect ourselves and our loved ones and are willing to act on this belief to the utmost extent possible. If I get in a situation where I feel that there is an imminent serious threat to myself or my family and I have a means at hand to remove that threat, even through deadly force, I am removing that threat. I don't care if my assailant came from a broken or abusive home, was mentally unbalances, was stuck in a circle of violence or had life crap on him for the past 20 years or any of that. If push comes to shove, I'll be the one pushing.

So to those who may oppose my opinion and ask me why I carry I say this - I carry because you cannot be trusted to do so yourself. It seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to understand. If I am the bad guy (who doesn't buy guns through legal channels that require a background check at the time of purchase anyway) and I know that every single person walking around me can't defend themselves (and don't kid yourself about martial arts - anyone who knows anything about firearms will not allow themselves to get close enough to allow you to go Bruce Lee on them) well that makes target selection a lot easier if I am carrying my illegally gotten firearm now, doesn't it? I want that SOB to know that we are out there, trained and prepared to take care of business if it comes to it. I want that waste of oxygen to know that every time he attempts to intimidate, rob or injure a citizen that he is risking his own ass in the process. Call it the unluckiest lottery for them, if you win it I may have 155 grains of .40 JHP +P silvertips for you to take home as a prize.

So if you actually read this (and I doubt few ever will by the lack of feedback I get on this blog) and want to carry yourself I will leave you with these few pieces of advice:

  • Be sure that this is something that you can commit to, if you think you may hesitate at the moment of decisive action, don't carry. You'll only endanger yourself and those around you if you draw and elevate a situation without the will to end it.
  • Possessing a CCW does not make you a cop or otherwise empower you in any way. Before you go and start thinking you can go out and make citizen arrests at the end of a weapon, think again and don't. Here in Ohio you may use force to defend somebody else, but only if that person would of been justified in their own right to use such force and was unable to do so themselves. In other words, all a CCW permit does is to give you an additional option to use in case your life is in danger due to the hostile actions of another, thats it!
  • Consult you local or state law enforcement and Attorney General's office for licensing requirements and any questions you may have about CCW. I was able to obtain my license by proving a copy of my DD 214 (military discharge papers) showing that I have had firearms training. However I got materials from the Ohio AG's office on the legal responsibilities of CCW and made damn sure I knew them before I applied for my license or carried for the first time.
  • If you have not had training, get it. Its a requirement anyway in most cases. Even if you have training, be sure to keep it up to date. I received some informal coaching from more knowledgeable persons on carrying and drawing before I ever left the door armed the first time.
  • Consult your local firearms instructor or gun shop owner if you are purchasing a CCW weapon for the first time. What may seem fine for one person may not be a good fit for you. They should be able to help you develop an idea of what you need and provide recommendations for you. Also enlist their help on selecting the right holster for your weapon. I prefer inside the waistband holsters but your tastes may vary.
  • Find out the name and number of a lawyer in your area that has experience in dealing with CCW issues and self defence trial experience. If you need to use your weapon you need to talk to this person before you say anything to the police. As well meaning as they are, anything you say can and will be used against you later. What you may assume is a solid self defense situation may be turned into a vigilante act by an overzealous prosecutor at a later time.
  • When the Police arrive, do not approach them with your weapon drawn (Police do not like drawn weapons in their presence), identify yourself as the shooter and politely ask to call your lawyer - if you have not been able to do so already. That's it, take all instructions from your counsel at that time. Don't offer any further information other than your name until you are in the presence of your lawyer. You will probably be asked to turn over your weapon at this time, do not argue, just do it properly (ask permission to draw it, clear and check the chamber before handing it over to the police). This isn't Hurricane Katrina, your weapons are not being confiscated randomly, you are a participant in a crime scene and they will want to collect evidence accordingly. When you are found to of been justified in the shooting it will be returned to you.

State of Ohio Attorney General's CCW Page

CCW status by state as of 2008

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