Democrats are right. “We must do something about guns.” However, that “something” should not be a mass indictment of law-abiding gun owners by pushing confiscation, raising the age limit for purchase of all firearms to 21, or banning a long rifle that fits under the politically expedient narrative as an “assault weapon” strictly based upon looks. What we must do first is educate a new generation of Americans on the pivotal role guns have played in preserving our freedom, particularly in the Revolutionary War and Civil War. For black people, it’s particularly important they understand why Democrats forbade them from owning guns during the slavery era, Reconstruction and of course during Jim Crow.
When a person obtains a gun, legally or illegally, he already has an intended use in mind at the point of purchase. The vast majority of gun owners (my guess would be 99 percent) will only draw their weapon if they believe their life or the life of another is being imminently threatened – self-defense, or for sport and hunting. In fact, since I’ve become a concealed weapons carrier (CWC) myself, I can tell you I’ve become hyper-vigilante about avoiding any and all confrontations whenever possible. I don’t stare at people; I avoid honking at bad drivers more than I used to; I don’t even look at people if I think it could pose a problem. Why? Because I value life – my life and the life of others. Owning a gun is a huge responsibility I don’t take lightly. When I didn’t carry that wasn’t the case, because I felt a need to walk around with a sense of machismo, so people would think twice about harming me.
I’m sympathetic to some of the uninformed anti-gun crowd, because they simply have never been taught about guns, or even taught to think about the importance of preserving our Second Amendment. Such was the case with me.
I was born in Compton, California. I also lived in Lynwood and Long Beach, California. The areas I grew up in were infested with gangs and Democrats. Although I was a “B” student and had a religious upbringing, thanks to my parents, I spent a lot of my youth in the streets with people I had no business hanging around. Why? Because frankly, the peer pressure to be involved in gangs and crime was overwhelming. If you weren’t a nerd or a jock, you were a tagger, gang member, or a wanna-be gang member.
We practiced a different type of “peace through strength” in the ‘hood – look tough, act tough and hopefully you could avoid fights or worse. It’s no way to grow up. I’ve always had a healthy fear of guns but for different reasons. Everyone, I knew growing up in the hood was either anti-gun or didn’t talk about guns. Although California wasn’t entirely the anti-Second Amendment state it is today, it was trending that way. I grew up being taught that guns were bad. Oddly, they were all around. Friends of mine, some as young as 14, had a gun, usually a small caliber .22 or .25, or access to a gun. In my mind, guns were always associated with violence, robbing someone or hopefully having one on your side in case you were the victim of a drive-by shooting. No one cared about the law except when it was time to run or hide from “5-0,” aka the cops.
It wasn’t until I moved to Florida for my junior year of high school that I began to see guns in a different light. Kids at my school carried their shotguns in the back of their pick-up windows. No one stole them! They’d hunt after school or on the weekends with their dad or grandpa. I was so scared at first because I thought these white people could shoot and kill me any time they wanted to. It never happened. When I talked to classmates about guns, they talked about the Second Amendment, hunting, plinking, etc. They didn’t talk about using their guns to hold up a liquor store or kill a rival gang member. Weird. They were responsible with their guns, and they didn’t hide them from cops. They were in plain sight for everyone to see. Suffice it to say, I never picked a fight with those kids, either.
The difference between my friends in Los Angeles that carried guns illegally and my friends in Florida that obtained them legally was a fundamental understanding of their intended purposes. There was an attitudinal and cultural difference in Florida. The kids in Florida were taught about the value of life, what it meant to be responsible with a deadly weapon, and about the history of the Second Amendment. That wasn’t the case in Los Angeles. I’d never heard of the Second Amendment until I moved to Florida.
Democrats are right. We should have a conversation about guns, an honest one that involves our God-given right to self-defense thanks to the Second Amendment.