Brad Thor, No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen books, resided in Chicago, where he was born and raised, until last June. But the rise in violent crime, in combination with the continued rise in both taxes and institutionalized discrimination against gun owners, motivated him to leave the city he had called home for most of his life in search of a city more supportive of his right of self-defense.
My family depends on me to protect them, and I realize that, as with all emergencies, I won’t have the luxury of choosing the time and place that someone may try to victimize my family or me. That’s why I don’t go anywhere without my emergency rescue tools, one of which is a handgun.
When the Supreme Court ruled that Illinois had to start respecting the right to carry, several friends called to congratulate me. In my opinion, though, it was a hollow victory. We had to take our state all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for our God-given right to self-defense. That’s insane—and in the end, it didn’t solve much.
The county I lived in still doesn’t allow tactical rifles. In fact, there are 12-gauge shotguns that are considered assault weapons there. Show me any weapon that can’t be used for assault—it’s the dumbest term in the world.
The court decision actually seemed to increase the institutionalized discrimination against gun owners. A few months before I left, I visited one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, only to find a “No Guns Allowed” sign on the front door. Businesses don’t post their gun policies on their websites, and this really impacted how my wife (who also carries concealed) was able to run the family’s daily errands. How could she plan her day when she was continually turned away by a growing list of misguided businesses?
The Supreme Court upheld my right to self-defense, but these establishments picked up where the state left off. If I had decided to meet a client for coffee, and I showed up to see a “No Guns” sign, was I just supposed to turn around, take my gun back home and return unarmed?
That wasn’t an option, and here’s why—the violence in Chicago is out of control, and it had come to my doorstep. At the subway station I used to use, four Guardian Angels were slashed trying to help a robbery victim. We have two popular beaches downtown, and we had to tell our babysitter not to take our children there anymore because of all the thefts and assaults. What’s more, in November 2012, at the Westin Hotel, a bartender tried to jump in against a man sticking someone up in the hotel bathroom. If there had been a good guy with a gun, there wouldn’t have been two men stabbed—and this happened in one of our nicest hotels, right next to the John Hancock building!
The taxes were also getting out of control. Instead of using the additional revenue to go after those committing violent acts, Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago continue to treat lawful gun owners as the criminals, and add spurious and discriminatory firearm taxes to our already egregious tax rates.
I’m about freedom. I believe the freer people are, the better society is. So I started looking at places where we could be free, where the lawmakers understand that gun owners are first-class citizens, and where there is less likelihood that my gun will ever have to come out of its holster outside the range. A place where businesses realize that gun owners are the most honest and law-abiding people you could hope to meet, and are happy to have them as patrons.
After much research, we found that Nashville, Tenn., exceeded our expectations. As soon as the children finished school last June, we packed up and moved that day. It pained me to leave the place I called home most of my life, but I have no doubt that it’s the right decision for my family.
Photo by Michael Ives