That is how many Americans currently hold concealed carry permits. However, it’s only a snapshot of the staggering growth in the number of citizens who have made the physical, mental and financial commitment to legally carry a firearm in defense of themselves and others.
Contrary to their portrayal in popular media, these are not Americans who are looking for an opportunity to dispense death. Rather, by assuming the awesome responsibility to legally carry a firearm, they have chosen to carry life—on their hip or in their handbag.
“Carry Life” is our new column for these readers who are willing to take on the burdens associated with legally carrying a defensive firearm. We’ll talk about gear and training, of course, about what works and is safe, and about what is legal and honorable.
But we will also argue that there is much more to the Carry Life. It’s well and good that you’ve chosen to be, as the popular metaphor goes, a sheepdog—now we hope you’ll choose to be a really good one. This means a lifelong dedication to self-improvement, and not merely in your martial skills. It means levels of awareness beyond personal White, Yellow, Orange, Red and Black. For this, “Carry Life” will bring you experts in a bigger, and in many ways tougher, fight—the battle against a sneering, malignant derision that asserts a genuine concern for and protection of your fellow citizens is simply beyond the regular Joe (or Josephine). We will provide not merely the next level of skills, but—just maybe—a whole new way to think about your Carry Life and how its protections can extend beyond your family, town and workplace.
“Carry Life” will also bring you the lessons and stories from those who have very literally put their skin in your game—military, law enforcement and first responders who are, as Richard Grenier, George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling said, “the rough men who stand ready to do violence on (your) behalf.” These are men and women who don’t just “carry” their own lives on their hips: They carry the life of the Republic.
More than 11 million Americans have chosen to carry life as of this writing. By tomorrow that number will have inexorably grown, just as it will for every foreseeable tomorrow. This column means to be a tool for those who choose to hone the skills of the Carry Life—consciously prepared for an ugly, desperate moment they pray will never come.
Next Week: Having stirred the M855 ammo-ban brew, does an AR pistol deserve a place in your Carry Life, or is it just a gun makers’ gimmick?
Frank Winn is the Guns & Gear editor for NRA American Warrior magazine.