It's been 18 years since I last wielded steel and ammo. Today I passed the Concealed Weapons Permit course that now allows me to apply for a concealed weapon permit in the State of South Carolina (and 20 other states). I took the course from Richardson Security Consulting. Russell Richardson is the instructor and makes the content of the exam and gun-handling very simple to understand. The course consists of a 50 question exam that covers the laws that govern concealed weapon permits in the State of South Carolina and a 50-round qualification course where you must hit your target at 70% or better.
When I was 19 I lived in New Mexico. That is where I discovered the power of a gun. My boyfriend at the time introduced me to a lovely little 380 pistol. We would go out into the desert and shoot a couple of rounds into the sand dunes. The desert landscape of New Mexico boasts miles and miles of open space and it was the perfect backdrop for an afternoon of shooting. I still remember like it was yesterday, the power in my hands, the sound of the gun when it lit, and how crazy scary it was. When he exited my life, my gun-toting days were done. Going to a gun range dug up old memories of him and I and I just couldn't do it. He was such a special man in my life and before today, I had not picked up a gun since we parted ways.
I don't believe the world is any crazier than it was in the wild, wild, west. In fact, I think it is still the same. The only difference is that we have social media and an ongoing news loop via CNN, MSNBC, FOXnews, etc. that creates a divide in the general public and selectively sensationalizes themes and stories. One should really consider all angles outside of what is regurgitated on the news magazines.
Short and to the point - I do not intend for this post to be a pro-gun, pro-2nd amendment rant. Not at all. Although I respect the people who tout the 2nd Amendment, that is not my motivation. There is only one truth that I accept - I am in charge of my safety and well-being! I will not give that power up to someone else. Being free to carry a gun is one avenue that I have to protect my well-being because, as I stated, I am in charge of my safety!! I pray I will never have to use deadly force but should the matter arise, I would like to be prepared. Hand to hand combat is another way one can prepare for people with ill intent. One particular memory in my life would have a different outcome if I had been prepared. I have talked openly about being raped. Though it was a private struggle, I share my experience that others might be able to dig from beneath the shame of sexual assault. But that is a different discussion for another day.
Another thought that keeps me in the conversation of protecting my right to bear arms is the fact that anti-gun laws are meant for law-abiding citizens. Criminals will acquire and use guns whether or not there is a law to bar its use. Thus, I should be able to protect myself if I should cross paths with someone trying to harm me. Deadly force is not something I am comfortable with however, I rather be ready than to wait for an officer of the law to arrive on the scene. If an officer's response time averages thirty minutes -- that's about 29 minutes and 45 seconds too late. A gun-wielding person like myself is fully aware of the consequences of gun use. I would NEVER use deadly force unless it was absolutely a life or death situation.
Today, as I was doing my 50-round course, my nerves were a mess. The power of the gun, the sound, the weight of the firearm was all very overwhelming. The sound of the shots from the other participants on the range was also very nerve-wracking. The gentleman next to me was very experienced and was popping off rounds one after the other in succession so quick I had to stop and catch my breath. I am happy to say that I hit my target 47 times out of 50. The distance varied between ten and 30 feet.
Every thing changes and yet every thing stays the same. There will always be unsavory elements in society and there will always be good people willing to be "the good" in the world. I stand with people wanting to be "the good," people who want to do good, who want to express kindness and compassion. I hope that part of me never changes. Me wanting to be a responsible and knowledgable gun owner will never change that about me. Gun ownership does not mean that I do not sympathize with those who have lost family and friends to gun violence, it just means that I want to be one of the good guys that is ready should a crisis arrive.