The Choices We Make

2013-11-26 07.34.18“What about a gym? I’m not sure I’d want people to concealed carry in a gym!”

I looked curiously at my friend. We’d been discussing gun stuff, and he offered the thought that there are some places that should be off-limits for law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon. When I asked him for an example of such a place, that was the one he came up with.

“Why a gym?” I asked him.

“Maybe this isn’t a problem for women,” he replied, “but I know the testosterone gets pretty thick in a gym, and I’d hate for someone to see a gun under my shirt and make a grab for it. It’s just not worth the risk. I mean, what would you do?”

I thought about it for a second. “If I felt that having someone make a grab for my gun in a gym was a serious risk,” I answered, “I’d probably choose someplace else to work out.”

His next question threw me for a loop. “Don’t you feel like your focus on safety and self-defense is limiting your life too much? Where’s the point at which you say it’s not worth it?”

I thought about the question for a long time, both because this is a friend I care about, and because he’s a pretty pro-gun, pro-self defense sort of guy and so his question deserved an honest and reflective answer. And I realized that the answer is simply this: By choosing to learn and practice our situational awareness and self-defense skills, by choosing to carry gun or knife or other weapon, by choosing to be self-reliant and responsible for our own safety, we are making a foundational choice about the values by which we live our lives. That choice, and those values, will always shape what we do in our lives.

In some cases, making the choice to be responsible for our own safety means there are things we can’t do, places we can’t go. Just like my friend’s hypothetical gym, there are places and activities I avoid. I don’t hang out on the main street downtown on a Friday night, because fights between drunk college kids are distressingly common there and I have no desire to land in the middle of a group of “stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places.” I don’t walk in the creek bed near my house at night, when mountain lions and two-legged predators might be about. I don’t voluntarily incapacitate myself with drugs or alcohol. I don’t get into a car with the guy I just met in the restaurant, no matter how nice he seems. I carry my cell phone, flashlight, and pistol even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient. And to my friend’s point, in one sense each of these choices limits, to a certain extent, the things I can do.

But choosing to live a lifestyle of relaxed awareness, choosing to carry and train with the tools with which I ensure my safety, has benefits too. Apart from the amazing community which those choices make me a part of, there are other benefits that come from being a lawfully armed citizen. For one thing, I can engage in the activities I enjoy with the knowledge that, if something bad happens, To borrow Kathy Jackson’s example, I don’t have to fear the tow truck driver who comes to pick me up on the side of a dark road (as happened to me recently, in fact). I can be calmly confident knowing that I can handle what life has to offer, and that confidence liberates me to focus on the people and activities that really matter to me.

In fact, this is probably the reality: A place where it would be dangerous to go with a gun is probably a place (at least for my lifestyle) where it would be even more dangerous to go without one.

“I don’t think there’s ever a place where being aware, where being equipped and prepared to protect myself, where having the tools to safeguard myself and my loved ones becomes not worth it,” I told my friend at last. “In the final analysis, I’m not making a choice just about carrying a gun. I’m making a choice about what kind of person I am and how I want to live my life, and if that choice requires trade-offs, so be it.”

Being a lawfully armed citizen, autonomous and self-reliant and self-responsible, is about so much more than the tools I carry. It’s about who I am and what matters to me. Living authentically is never not worth it.

What about you? What are the values that drive you to the choices you make? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. waltinpa says:

    A place where it would be dangerous to go with a gun is probably a place (at least for my lifestyle) where it would be even more dangerous to go without one.
    I think you make an excellent point. If I *think* I might need my gun to go to a particular place, I avoid going there. The gun on my hip (or in my pocket) is an insurance policy that I’d prefer to never use but, it is there if I ever need it.
    For the record, I carry at the gym and it has never been a problem. A good holster (I use a Pistol Wear PT-One) paired with a small gun (S&W Bodyguard) and you’ll almost forget you’re wearing it, even on the treadmill.

    • Thanks for your comment, Walt! I totally agree with your idea of the firearm as an insurance policy – we hope never to have to use deadly force to protect ourselves, but we carry because predators don’t care what we hope. :-)

  2. Outstanding, Tammy! I’ve never heard this topic explained any better. I plan to explore this idea myself and add it to my book. You’ll eventually have to be listed as a co-author!! :)

  3. Why not a gym? Just look around at the sheer number of weapons available in a gym. Yikes!

    Really, I think being situationally aware and self-confident is FREEING. I’m free from fear, because I don’t live in constant fear. I know what’s going on around me and don’t have to worry about “what if”. I choose to go places where I am comfortable, why borrow trouble? Avoiding the three stupids is a lot easier than you think, and it’s not much of a lifestyle change – mostly it’s just called growing up.

    • Absolutely agree. I don’t live in a state of fear and paranoia. I live in a state of relaxed awareness and confidence, knowing that I am better equipped to respond to the very worst that life has to throw at me, and that I have other choices besides helplessness. Thanks for your comment!

  4. “By choosing to learn and practice our situational awareness and self-defense skills, by choosing to carry gun or knife or other weapon, by choosing to be self-reliant and responsible for our own safety, we are making a foundational choice about the values by which we live our lives. That choice, and those values, will always shape what we do in our lives.”

    That is a good answer, and very well expressed.

    “And to my friend’s point, in one sense each of these choices limits, to a certain extent, the things I can do.”

    The book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker is a good read, especially I think for girls. He is not very pro-gun as far as I can tell, but he makes some good points. One point he made to me, a point that I as a male had not really thought about before, is that for a woman these decisions can be life or death decisions. By nature maybe women have more reason to be careful. Guys are conditioned a little different psychologically for the most part.

    So did you say these things to him, and how did he take it?

    regards,

    lwk

    • Excellent points – thank you for sharing them!

      My friend’s response was pretty positive, overall. I’m still not sure he’d choose to carry all the time (if he carried) but I think he agreed that he could understand why I make the choice to.

  5. Rascal says:

    Interesting comment, lwk, about the dangers for women vs. guys. I do think women have to be more careful because they are more vulnerable, however, I think guys in general underestimate the risks of being in a certain place at a certain time, and vastly underestimate their ability to deal with dangerous situations. Almost all of us guys are going to be much less proficient at violence than someone who essentially makes their living by victimizing others. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we’re just as vulnerable as the ladies.

    • Thanks for this comment – I think you’re right about the fact that men are also vulnerable to violence, and the law-abiding are less likely, on average, to be experienced in the dynamics of real violence than the criminals. Also, men and women tend to be victims of different types of violence – but that’s a topic for another post.

      • “and the law-abiding are less likely, on average, to be experienced in the dynamics of real violence than the criminals”

        Yes, this is a moral failing of many men. To paraphrase an old saying, those who wish to avoid violence should practice the art of violence. Those who prey on others can easily recognize sheep.

        regards,

        lwk

    • “Almost all of us guys are going to be much less proficient at violence than someone who essentially makes their living by victimizing others.”

      Jeffrey Snyder in his article (copy on my blog) said it well enough:

      “One who values his life and takes seriously his responsibilities to his family and community will possess and cultivate the means of fighting back, and will retaliate when threatened with death or grievous injury to himself or a loved one. He will never be content to rely solely on others for his safety, or to think he has done all that is possible by being aware of his surroundings and taking measures of avoidance. Let’s not mince words: He will be armed, will be trained in the use of his weapon, and will defend himself when faced with lethal violence.”

      http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/a-nation-of-cowards/

      When I leave my house there is a loaded handgun on my person, always. And I know how to use it, and have used it to convince others that I would not be their victim.

      regards,

      lwk

      • Rascal says:

        Bravo! Good for you! If you haven’t seen it, there’s an essay I totally relate to called ‘On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs’ by Lt. Col David Grossman (retired), an Army Ranger, trained clinical psychologist, and former professor of military studies at the University of Arkansas. (He formerly taught at West Point as well). The link is http://www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm

  6. Rascal writes:
    2014.04.04 at 5:23 am
    “…there’s an essay I totally relate to called ‘On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs’ by Lt. Col David Grossman (retired), an Army Ranger, trained clinical psychologist, and former professor of military studies at the University of Arkansas. (He formerly taught at West Point as well). The link is http://www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm

    Yes, have read it.I also read Grossman’s book “On Killing” which was deeply moving, and disturbing as it spoke of my generation and the war we fought (among other things). He also has written another book on the theme of teaching kids to kill (with video games). I have promised myself to read it. My older son thinks it must be nonsense – he is very much into video games. I think I can see some of both points of view. His book “On Killing” is worth reading. It can change how you see this subject in some very important ways.

    In life we always think we know what things are and how they work, but often we find that we are seeing things upside down, we are seeing good for evil as Isaiah spoke of in the Old Testament;

    Isaiah 5:20
    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that count darkness as light, and light as darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    I have lived a long time now, and I fully identify with what Isaiah said. We see things one way, until we realize we are seeing it totally ass backwards, as we used to say. :)

    regards,

    lwk

  7. Rascal says:

    I also read On Killing. I have his Bullet Proof Mind series of DVD’s too and haven’t gotten round to watching them yet. I’m also going to read On Combat too. My best to you… sounds like you were in Viet Nam. My cousin did 3 tours (he went career afterwards). I missed Viet Nam by 1 year, Class of ’73. On year sooner and I would probably not be here. Life… who can explain it? I’ve heard is said that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Sure seems that way!
    Cheers!

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