In her Thursday article, “Armed, dangerous and dead,” Kathleen Parker appears to be making a case for why we should not carry guns. I am not going to dispute her reasoning here, but rather, I see the subject matter to be a possible teachable moment.
I have carried a gun for many years and have never, thank God, felt the need to draw my weapon against another human being. Some might argue that this is proof that I don’t need to carry. However, I keep a fire extinguisher in my vehicles and in my home and I have never had a fire. The gun, like the fire extinguisher, is better to have and not need than to need it and not have it.
I know every time I leave my house carrying my gun that I could encounter a situation that would require me to act. I also know that if I choose to engage a shooter, as Mr. Wilcox did in Las Vegas, it could cost me my life. That being said, I choose not to be a victim and to have the means at my disposal to protect myself and my loved ones.
I also know that if I have to use my gun against another person, my troubles only begin when I pull the trigger. When you shoot another person, there will be an investigation. You will be put under the legal microscope. Everything that you did and said before, during and after the shooting will be examined. There is also the possibility of a civil suit being filed against you. If we have decided to carry a gun, we had best have all these issues and more resolved in our mind beforehand.
The situation Mr. Wilcox found himself in at that Las Vegas Wal-Mart — and I don’t have all the information — I can surmise is one that any of us could find ourselves in. He encountered an individual with a gun who was acting in a threatening manner. He would have naturally had reason to fear for his life and that of others in the store.
This is similar to the situation an off-duty police officer I am aware of in California found himself one day. He had stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few things on the way home and found himself in the middle of a robbery in progress. When the bad guy started pistol-whipping a young boxboy, he intervened. What he did not know was that an accomplice was behind him. That mistake cost him his life.
The lesson here is situational awareness. Where there is one bad guy, there are likely more. As the Las Vegas incident makes painfully clear, bad guys can be female. We need to be aware of everything around us at all times because there is only a split second to make a decision and act and our life depends on getting it right.