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Simple question, isn’t it? Why did you decide to join thousands and thousands of other people like yourself and purchase a firearm for self-defense?
If you’re like me (and I know I am), it was because of a real threat (a psychotic relative) and a perceived threat (a rise in violent crime in the Phoenix area). Either is a very valid reason to arm yourself and your family against the threat of grievous bodily harm, and if you’ve done so already, congratulations, you’ve made the most adult decision you’ll ever make in your life.
But what are you willing to defend with your gun? Your life? You family’s lives? Your co-worker’s lives? The life of a random stranger on the street? Your car? Your stuff? Someone else’s stuff? These are all questions will you need to answer before your gun is in your hand, because there will not be time to answer them when the shooting starts.
Let’s look at a recent very high profile court case, the trial of George Zimmerman. I’m not going to try to break down what happened that night and how it might apply to you: Massad Ayoob (who literally wrote the book on armed personal defense) already has done that for us. Instead, let’s look at the decisions made by Mr. Zimmerman before that fateful night. By volunteering to be a Neighbor Watch patrolman, Mr. Zimmerman made the decision that he was willing to intervene in the affairs of others (his neighbors), and by carrying a pistol while doing so, he decided he was willing to use lethal force to defend his life and the lives of his neighbors if needed.
Were those the right decisions? Not for me to say: I wasn’t in his position, and a jury of his peers has exonerated him of any wrongdoing that night. I do know that I decided what is and is not worth my involvement when I started down the journey of concealed carry, and I heartily suggest everyone else do that as well.
Get a book on the firearms laws of your area and read it cover to cover. Consult with a lawyer. Get training. Consider buying self-defense insurance. Talk with your spouse or significant other about what they consider is worth defending with your lives. Ultimately, you should consider what is important and irreplaceable in your life and what is not. For me, I can always by another TV set or car, but I can’t replace my wife and children.
Your gun is not a talisman of self-protection and the more you know now about when and if you’ll need to use it, the quicker and more effective you’ll be, if, God forbid, you need it to save your life or the life of someone else.