Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why I Carry (part 2)

I read an editorial yesterday suggesting that "the only two legitimate uses of guns" are for hunting and target shooting. The writer advocated that guns be kept in armories, where gun owners would be able to come and check out their firearms for these uses. The writer of the editorial simply lives in a different world than I do, so let me explain.

As many of you know, I'm a rancher, so I spend time out on the range alone with my herd, in country inhabited by a variety of large carnivores, some of which I come in close contact with when they try to enter the herd for a meal I don't intend they receive. Each one of our ranch trucks are equipped with needed tools: fencing pliers, knives, flashlights, shovels, jumper cables, ropes, gloves, and firearms. Our firearms are tools, used to provide protection for our family and our herd, to make noise to deter predators, and to put down an animal that is suffering. Firearms are a necessary tool in the ranching trade.

I am also a woman who travels – alone – thousands of miles each year, often on the gorgeous open roads of the Rocky Mountains, where a response to a call for help could be at least an hour away (at best). Some parts of my sheep range are 60 miles from town and have no cell service, so being able to place a call for help simply isn't possible.

I have a concealed carry permit, and carry a firearm when I travel - as I have for decades. I've been through gun-safety training, worked with a law enforcement officer when selecting my pistol and my method of carry, was fingerprinted, and underwent a background check in order to get my permit. Very few people I encounter are aware that I have a firearm. But when I want to enter a remote rest area for a bathroom break, I slip my pistol into my purse before I depart the truck, as I do when I get my luggage to head for my lodging for the night.

I'm cautious not from a sense of paranoia, but from a sense of responsibility. I know my safety depends a large part on my own actions. I cannot and will not pawn what I believe to be my personal responsibility for my own safety off on law enforcement officers who can't be everywhere there may be trouble. I obey concealed carry laws, am comfortable and familiar with the specific firearms I shoot, and I don't flaunt firearms in public.

I enjoy the solitude that comes from living and working in a wild landscape, but I have no intention of going out without the tools I need. Like throwing on your slicker before going out into a rain storm, living with firearms, practicing gun safety and responsible gun ownership, is part of the package.

In 2010, I wrote an editorial "Why I Carry" on this blog. I described the threats I had received in my time as a news reporter, in separate incidents, from two men who had mental disorders and had gone off their medications. One of them was later institutionalized, released, institutionalized, then released again. He's back in our community now. I believe he still poses a threat to the safety of women in our community – but unlike some women who haven't been his target, I am well aware that he is a threat. Since the newspaper spread featuring me going through the process of getting a concealed firearm permit, he also knows I'm armed.

It's not my intent to start an argument about gun use and ownership. Instead, I want to share why I feel so differently than the editorial writer from Milwaukee. I'm a law-abiding gun owner, and intend to stay that way. I'm not the one who should be disarmed.


Chas S. Clifton said...

I read almost the same article (less the sheep) from Linda Hasselstrom once. It's the long drives across the prairie to readings and book-signings that you have in common!

But there are still too many people out there who do not think that self-defense is a natural right, not bestowed by the government.

Steve Bodio said...

I have carried when I wanted since my Boston days-- I actually had a permit there. I have never "brandished", and I have defused at least two potentially deadly situations over the last 40 years without ever drawing a gun, perhaps because I had the confidence I could back it up if I had to.

Many people like the editorialist were simply raised on a different planet than me (or Cat or Chas). Guns are normal tools and do not have any ability to (favorite verb of banners) "discharge."

Suzanne said...

And if the most vocal "second amendment protesters" were as reasonable as you there wouldn't be a need for such an editorial. Unfortunately, concealed carry permit holders aren't really a part of the national conversation right now, and the NRA's support of loud-mouthed idiots carrying AR's into grocery stores isn't helping at all.

Cat Urbigkit said...

Chas, I've long been a fan of Linda Hasselstrom - we are kindred spirits in many ways.

Suzanne, loud-mouthed idiots is right. I sure as hell wouldn't go near an establishment where people were behaving like that – they may have the right, but they apparently don't have a lick of sense. They certainly aren't helping me.

Steve, like you, I've never "brandished." I have set my holstered pistol on the dash of the truck in front of me though, when I met a truckload of gun-toting trespassers on my remote lambing ground. I was alone, and unsure what the heck the guys were doing when they approached, since they had gone through several marked gates to get there.

Chas, back to what you said about self-defense being a natural right. Sometimes I really have to wonder if people have seriously thought about their own self defense - it should be something that is a reality, not a hypothetical.

Karen Carroll said...

I am one who does not understand nor accept the notion from what I call: "Scared Soccer Moms" (the anti-gun women who I encounter) who live in a fantasy world gated communities, who never have had to defend themselves nor their families. I am proud of my self reliance and do not brandish my firearm. I keep it quiet and out of site. Unfortunately, I do not carry when I tour, because of the anti-gun anti-carry laws that prevent a law-abiding CCW holder like me from carrying in certain states (like my home state of Maryland). I feel that a CCW permit should be nationwide.

Jameson Parker said...

My wife and I both have concealed carry licenses, and I carry my sidearm every day. A man put two bullets into me, and I got him sent to prison. He swore he would finish the job, and he is now out, and has violated his parole conditions. My local sheriff's sub-station is eight to ten minutes away if there is someone there when I call, if the weather conditions are right, if there is no traffic when I call, and if there is no more pressing emergency (officer under fire, for example). I have studied with a Highway Patrol range instructor, a county sheriff's range instructor, at Gunsite, at ITTS, with Chuck Taylor, and I compete in IDPA. I shoot more practice rounds per month than an NYPD officer has to shoot in a year to qualify. I make no apologies to anyone, but I would point out that there are approximately 10,000 homicides per year in America, that approximately 70% of those are committed with firearms, and that the vast bulk of violent crime of any type is committed by a small percentage of hardcore repeat offenders. Against that, there are between eighty to ninety million law-abiding gun owners in American who never break the law with their firearms; and there are approximately one million (1,000,000) justified defensive uses of a firearm (that is the low estimate, by the way) every year in America. Do the math. Do we punish the vast majority for the sins of a tiny minority? I believe God and Abraham had much the same conversation many years ago, and even God came around to Abraham's point of view.
Jameson Parker

Steve Bodio said...

Hear hear, JP. Nobody has paid more dues than you.