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Peaceable – but not harmless

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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Back in September of 2021 a new Texas law went into effect allowing permit less carry of handguns. At its must basic definition, permit less carry means that, with certain restrictions, anyone who can legally buy and own a handgun, can carry it, openly or concealed, within the state.

This column isn’t about gun control. Or about whether it is a good idea to carry a handgun. The decision to carry a handgun is a very personal one. The most fundamental right a human being has is the right to defend their life or their family’s lives against someone trying to take it. Similarly, no one has a legal obligation to defend either themselves or others, including third parties (unless you are a law enforcement officer). Whether you have a moral obligation to do so is, again, a personal decision.

If you decide to carry a gun, though, you need to decide before something happens if you are really willing to use it. Self-defense situations usually happen and are resolved within seconds, at very close distance, with three rounds fired.

When someone is trying to kill you, there is no time to sort out the moral or legal details of defending yourself with deadly force. As my dad drilled into me from age 7 when he gave me my first rifle, never point a gun at anyone or anything you do not intend to kill or destroy. There are two old saws related to this: You can’t recall a bullet, and there is a lawyer attached to every round you fire. If you are not certain that you are willing to draw and kill with that weapon, please do not carry it.

Now, I don’t recommend strapping on a gun and putting yourself in sketchy situations. That kind of aggression is going to get you in trouble. Even if you get what you are looking for, a confrontation, you aren’t going to like the legal firestorm you will have to endure. Ask Kyle Rittenhouse. Even if you win, you and your family will go through hell.

Most of us though, are peaceable. We don’t go out looking for a fight. We interact peaceably with others. We avoid sketchy situations. We are, in appearance, exactly the kind of people bad guys decide to steal from, or carjack, or assault.

Bad guys often believe that because someone is peaceable, they are also harmless. The perfect mark for a crime. And they are often right. And if you carry a gun but are unwilling to use it to save yourself or other innocent people, I contend you are morally wrong, regardless of the legal implications.

We should be peaceable, but not harmless.

All of this is to try once again to make a point.

The U.S. carries a very big gun. Every day thousands more innocent people die in Ukraine because of the atrocities committed by Putin and his army.

If we don’t have the courage to use that big gun to defend innocent people, why spend $700 billion a year to keep it loaded? Because we fear Putin’s nuclear weapons? Then he can blackmail us into retreat and invade any country he wants knowing we will never attack him militarily (as the Biden administration keeps reminding him via the media).

The U.S. clearly needs to be a peaceable country. But it cannot remain harmless.

 

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