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Assuming Responsibility

Assuming Responsibility

Photo credit: LM Otero | AP Photo

Two men celebrate American freedom across the street from the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, where an off-duty police officer stopped a terrorist attack.

About a week ago in Garland, Texas, homegrown terrorists chose their time and place to attack. What they failed to take into account was that brave and skilled Americans with guns might stop them dead in their tracks—literally. 

It is easy to understand that the off-duty Garland police officer with a pistol, assisted by a cadre of SWAT officers, saved dozens of lives that day. Instead of the mainstream news’ minimal reporting of the incident of skilled heroism, it could have been weeks of incessant talk of mass fatalities and the “need” to make citizens more vulnerable by disarming them with more gun control.

I have lived around terrorism before. I drove by the Pentagon on Jefferson Davis Highway just minutes before it was struck on 9/11. I saw the billowing smoke in my rearview mirror. I can recall the anger and helplessness I experienced that day like it was yesterday. 

Now, this latest incident in Garland occurred only 18 miles from my house. I felt the anger this time, but not the helplessness.

The Lone Star State is far from the “permissive” gun law bastion that the media likes to portray, but it still generally respects the natural right of citizens to defend themselves with the most efficient tools available—firearms. I legally carry a handgun here in Texas every day. It’s not easy or convenient, but I see it as my duty to myself and those I care about. I have spent thousands of hours in training and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition in an effort to ensure that I have the skills necessary to prevail over any threat I may someday face.

This is the reason I didn’t experience a sense of helplessness after the Garland incident. Had I been in his place, I would have been similarly armed, and I truly believe that I would have done my level best to act as efficiently and resolutely as the off-duty officer did. Of course, there is no way for me to really know until that bell rings, and I hope it never does. The fact of the matter is, though, I would have had the opportunity to act to stop the threat because the government does not mandate my disarmament here. Who really believes that ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab or any of the other bloodthirsty groups out there will continue to attack if they constantly see the results they realized last week? The score was a 2-0 shutout in favor of the good guys.

Who really believes that ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab or any of the other bloodthirsty groups out there will continue to attack if they constantly see the results they realized last week? The score was a 2-0 shutout in favor of the good guys. If an NFL team’s game day strategy is to throw it deep on every play and the quarterback gets sacked the first 10 plays of the game, I’m pretty certain that the game plan is going to be changed.

There are those who want to impose helplessness on all American citizens by disarming them. Then, there are those of us who want to empower people to assume responsibility for their own safety by going armed. We believe that more guns in the hands of good Americans make us all safer. In the face of all of the evidence, the anti-gun crowd will continue to blindly chant, “More guns mean more violence.”

I’m still waiting for them to explain how this can be possible when today there are record numbers of guns in civilian hands (about 300 million), gun owners (100 million), concealed weapon permit holders (12 million), and Right-to-Carry states (43), all while the FBI reports that homicide and general violent crime rates are near historic lows. We are safer from violent crime today than we have been since the 1960s! More guns clearly do not mean more crime, but who can expect the facts to ever mean anything to the emotional gun-control proponents?

Watching the news last night, I heard one talking head ask the other what Americans can do in the face of the threats posed by homegrown terrorists. Every time I hear the question, I want to yell, “Arm themselves!” But I know this most logical answer will never come. It’s always something along the lines of being vigilant and ready to call the authorities whenever something strange is observed. Yep, that’s going to do a lot of good when you round a corner and there are a couple of jihadists standing there ready to make an example of you. Have we really been relegated to such a state of utter dependency on government that we accept this as reasonable advice? If so, it’s hard to argue the American spirit is not broken.

What these media folks are setting the stage for is another Fort Hood. The 43 military servicemen who were killed or wounded there in Nidal Hasan’s terrorist attack (I don’t care what the president calls it) had the skill and experience to eliminate him as a threat but were deprived of the essential defensive tools by their own government. Gun possession is prohibited on military bases by anyone other than a select few who perform a policing role. It was these armed good guys who finally came along and stopped the bad guy. Vigilance and a phone weren’t going to save the men and women serving our country that day. Firearms in their hands would have. 

Three-quarters of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions where the government cannot deny a law-abiding gun owner the ability to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. We have the choice not to be as helpless as those soldiers were that day at Fort Hood. We have the choice to assume responsibility for our own safety. I’ve always considered it immoral to expect others to engage in life-risking behavior on my behalf when I am unwilling to engage in that same behavior on my own behalf. This is just one reason why I carry a gun.