Do you carry a gun all of the time? I don’t, and you can’t if you want to have a life. Get used to it.

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Every so often I’ll get together with other people who are in the business of defensive shooting training. Invariably they are shocked – sometimes to incredulity – when I tell them that no, I’m not carrying a gun (whether I am or not – I just like to see the look on their faces) and no, I don’t carry 24/7 (nobody can, unless the never go anywhere.)

From their reactions you’d think I’d violated some sacred oath, or was insanely irresponsible, for being an instructor and NOT having a heater (and a backup gat) strapped to my person. I’m quite sure that in some circles I’m no longer considered part of the imaginary brotherhood of armed citizens, excommunicated from the religion of omnipresent preparedness. I’ve been told as much.

I’m okay with that.

If I believed that only my handgun would keep me safe, to the point that I absolutely insisted on not going anywhere where I couldn’t have it, I’d be turning it into a talisman: a thing invested with the power to protect by its mere presence. If I allowed myself to feel unarmed or unsafe because I didn’t have it, that would simply confirm a belief in the talisman.

To be sure, the handgun is the most efficient method of protection when lethal force is warranted; of that there can be no doubt. But being the most efficient is not the same as being the only choice! The handgun is an invaluable piece of rescue equipment, but it’s not the only tool I have.

After many years I’ve come to be at ease with those times when I’m not able to carry a gun. When I’m on an airplane, for instance, I can’t have one. I also don’t worry about it, because I’m capable of using things in my environment and certain things I bring with me to protect myself. If I can get to the point that I’m comfortable on a flight with 200 other people, none of whom I know, why would I feel less safe in the restaurant at my destination?

What enables that comfort is a realistic assessment of the risks I face. Recently, for instance, I taught a class in another state, one which required that I fly. When the plane touched down I was met by a driver who had been vetted by my hosts; I went from the car directly into the lobby of the hotel, where I checked in and secured my room against entry. The next morning I was greeted in the lobby by my host, who I knew to be armed, and was transported in his vehicle to a range where I was surrounded by good people with guns. We went to dinner with some of them that evening, and then back to the hotel where I barricaded myself for the night. The next morning I was greeted by my driver, who took me to the front door of the airport.

My risk was very low the entire trip. Was I likely to need a gun at any time during that sojourn? No. Was there a plausible lethal threat at any time? Probably not. If there had been, the vast majority of the time I was around other people who had guns. During the times I wasn’t, I was prohibited from having one anyhow.

Don’t get me wrong: I carry whenever I can, and in my state (and some others) that means the vast majority of the time. What I’m saying is that I don’t allow my life to be defined or controlled by carrying, nor do I allow myself to feel unsafe when I can’t. I understand that what I’m giving up by not having the gun is defensive efficiency, not absolute efficacy.

I know too many people who won’t go to neat places and do neat things because they can’t have their gun with them. (I’m talking about legally prohibited, as opposed to being simply unwelcome.) Frankly, I’d rather live my life — to go to the neat places and do the neat things! By carefully assessing my risk and the plausibilities involved, and taking appropriate precautions, I know I can be reasonably safe even without a firearm in those instances where I can’t.

And I don’t lose any sleep over it.

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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