In one way or another I have been armed since I was old enough to have my own .22 rifle. When I was of age I applied for and received a carry permit, and have held one most of my years since then. Truth be told, permit or not I have always had a weapon near me, as long as I can remember.
Since I grew up with weapons as tools, the morality of being armed was never raised as an issue. You had a chain saw to cut wood, and you had a firearm to defend yourself. You learned to use the chainsaw safely because you would need the skill as a capable adult. For the same reason you learned to shoot well and safely keep a weapon, as defending oneself is what a capable adult does. Personal responsibility demands one be able to do what’s needed, and be able to use the tools to meet that need. Anything less is a failure to oneself, ones loved ones, and ones community.
Later, in adult years, as introspection grew and answers to life’s questions were sought, I faced the issue of self defense. After carrying a weapon for years I finally took the time to ask myself why, and took the time to reason out an answer, or at least one of them.
I carry a weapon because it is the moral thing to do. It meets with my definition of doing ‘right’. Being prepared to defend myself and loved ones is part of being a responsible person.
Please allow me to explain…
I believe people have a ‘moral obligation’ to take responsibility for themselves, not leaving the task as a burden to others. I know this may not be a popular concept in some circles, but that doesn't change it as my belief. I know we are laden with entire generations of people who honestly think they bear no responsibility for their own safety, well being, and actions. I interact with such people every day.
I choose not to be one of those people.
I carry a weapon for much the same reasons as I usually have a pocket knife and a flashlight around me. These are all tools I may need to take care of myself and pull my own weight. To think of them other than tools is silly. Everything a man lays his hands on to complete a task is a tool, and no morality can possibly reside in the inanimate objects we use.
Why not leave my personal defense to ‘The Authorities’?
For several reasons, as I’ll explain.
It’s simply not possible for any government authority to defend my person. There is no arguing this point. Even in the most restrictive environments imaginable, our federal prison system, there are daily physical attacks resulting in death and injury. There is no ‘civilized’ society in the world where government authority has been able to protect and defend the individual citizen from criminals bent on harm. There is an element, a breed, of humans who live as predators on their fellow humans, and they reside next door to each of us. No amount of authority can take on the task of defending the individual, no matter how well meaning. If it must be done, then I must do it myself.
This notion of ‘The Authorities’ is often a nebulous one, with folks forgetting that government service is peopled with humans no different than ourselves. Good and bad, competent and worthless, our government mirrors our population and that should cause a moments thought. When I call on the police to help me, what am I really doing? I am asking my neighbor to put his life on the line for my needs. Perhaps not when simply investigating a break in or calming a troubled situation, but often enough when danger calls. For an unreasonably small handful of dollars I should expect the officer to arrive with weapon in hand and interpose himself between trouble and I? Is this right?
It’s here that morality raises its ugly head. How can I ask my neighbor to risk his life for me when I am not willing to do so for myself? How can I in good conscience expect an officer to care more for my loved ones and me, than I do myself?
I was raised understanding that a man did for himself, and only asked for help when he had to. This went hand in hand with the idea that you always helped your neighbor when they asked, because they wouldn’t ask if they didn’t really need it. That and it was part of the contract that they would be there when you asked in return. This contract has fallen by the wayside in our society, in many places. Too many now demand ‘help’ with every problem real or perceived, and too many honestly believe that ‘help’ is owed them by society for some unknown reason. Far too often, ‘help’ is defined as ‘Someone come and do this for me because I don’t want to!’
I carry a weapon because I believe a person has a moral responsibility to take care of themselves and not be a burden on others. The pistol I carry on my belt, and the rifle stored in my safe, are nothing more than tools needed to meet my responsibility. This is not a responsibility that can be relieved by some fool wishing it so and announcing it.
It’s a moral obligation that can only be self imposed, self delivered, and self administered.