I consider myself to be a good willed person. I consider those that are in my circle of friends and those I allow to influence me to be good willed people. If you ask them, I believe they will offer a similar simple assessment not only regarding their view of me, but also of themselves. They range from family and close friends to acquaintances. In regards to owning a firearm, the same can be said of those in that circle whom I know to be firearms owners. In that group it can range from defensive trainers, enthusiasts, hobbyists, or hunters to simply having a firearm on hand in the home. Gun owners are not the only people represented in that assembly of good willed people. Additionally there are those that choose to not own a gun, and they consist of those opposed to personal firearms as well as those that are unopposed. As a gun owner and defensive firearms trainer, I accept responsibility for the safe handling, safe instruction, and safe operation of my firearm. As responsible gun owners, we are all accountable for our personal conduct and to the law. Being accountable in these respects is no different for those who opt to not own a gun. There is common ground that we share as good willed people, irrelevant of your choice to own or not to own a firearm.
Let’s add personal responsibility to the equation, the key word being “personal”. Fill in the following blank:
As an adult, if I am ever faced with an immediate and present life-threatening situation, _______________ (am/is/are) responsible for my response, my safety, and my personal protection.
Answers may range depending on one’s view of personal responsibility. I agree with author and speaker Frank A. Thomas’ assessment of this sequence of words. “Personal responsibility is defined as a person’s ‘response-ability,’ that is, the ability of a person to maturely respond to the various challenges and circumstances of life.” In staying with the context of having your life threatened by an ill willed person, does this definition excuse them from inflicting evil on someone else? Obviously not. However, those who carry out evil are personally responsible for their conduct and are accountable to the law. They are only accountable to you in principle, perhaps only in theory. Giving someone else responsibility for your safety, especially a bad person, is not a good strategy to keep you or your loved ones safe, uninjured or alive. In the face of an immediate and lethal threat, lamenting to them about their responsibility for your safety makes for a pretty flimsy ballistic shield. In regards to firearms, note that we have differentiated the categories of good willed and ill willed. Am I saying that you do not believe in personal responsibility if you own a firearm? No, but I am also not saying that owning a firearm means that you have a higher belief in personal responsibility. In either case and in keeping with the idea that you are both good willed and hold to the concept of personal responsibility, let’s continue speaking of other thoughts to consider.
Get some perspective.
In other words, challenge your current beliefs. This goes for the gun owners as well. For those that try to shove acceptance of guns or being anti-gun down others’ throats, put the ego aside and meet each other on the common ground that you are both responsible and good willed. With this perspective, mutual respect is much easier to find. Here are some ideas:
-Discuss firearms in the context of personal protection with your peers that agree with your belief and also those who are opposed. -Read articles from a variety of credible sources, not just those that confirm what you already consider to be correct. -Objectively research the respective histories of “armed” vs “unarmed” societies and the pros and cons of each. Keep an open mind, and despite what you currently accept as true, leave bias out of the equation.
Get some training.
There are benefits to quality firearms training that help gun owners and non-gun owners alike. You may have no intention of owning or ever shooting a firearm. That being said, having a firsthand understanding of how they function always beats a good article and someone’s opinion or theory. This includes being familiar with how to unload and secure the firearm in a situation where someone irresponsibly left it lying out, perhaps in the presence of children. It could be a situation where an active shooter unknowingly dropped a firearm, and you are able to use what you know to either stop the threat or disable the firearm. More on that scenario in a video by Rob Pincus here: Picking up a Dropped Gun. If you don’t have practical knowledge, your credibility is diminished when discussing the subject. Furthermore, any belief you may have in personal responsibility can be summed up by someone else’s belief system, creating a very weak stance. Here are some additional points to take into account:
-Talk to those involved in or familiar with the firearms industry (more than one).
-Specify the context of the training you seek.
-Most trainers will offer private instruction. If the idea of being in a large group of experienced gun enthusiasts intimidates you, a private class is a great option for individualized attention.
-If you do not have or have no intention on buying a personal firearm, request a training firearm supplied by the trainer.
-Be very clear on your comfort level. Comfort is subjective, and not everyone is the same. There are two aspects when it comes to comfort. The first is physical comfort; are you physically able to perform the specific action? The second is emotional comfort; do you believe the action to be safe, and do you fully understand what is being asked of you? Communicate this to your instructor, or you risk the mental blocks and physical challenges of not addressing these realities.
Given our mutual ground, yet experiencing the observable and audible degrading of each other prevalent in our respective communities regarding personal firearms, what seems to be missing? Perhaps the missing ingredient is mutual respect. What if we incorporated that? As we continue to experience life together in whatever time is afforded to us, those who opt to not own a firearm are not enemies to those of us who chose to own one. I believe we have more in common than we realize, especially when it comes to resisting ill willed people whom have shown and will continue to show their hand against us.