A CCW permit isn’t all fun and games

‘'The great object is that every man be armed.'’ —Patrick Henry

OK, it’s official; the world is coming to an end. Or so I thought when I read editor D. Brian Burghart’s revelation that he has a permit to pack heat (“The gun club,” RN&R, July 6, 2006).

I wasn’t sure what surprised me more, that he had a permit to carry or that he had a particular brand of ammunition I hadn’t heard of. Perhaps it was caliber envy.

In contrast to Burghart, it should come as no surprise that I am a “gun nut.”

So, whether you carry or are considering carrying, here are some salient points to consider from the Hook’s perspective.

First, if you have a CCW permit, that means you decided to take some responsibility for either your own protection or for some individual you might have occasion to help in the event of a criminally induced and potentially life-threatening situation.

But it isn’t as simple as getting that almighty permit and strapping on a six-shooter.

To “carry” means at some point you may have to make an instant decision to take another human being’s life. That sounds easy when you envision pumping a few well-deserved hollow points into a gangsta-thug in a dark alley. But then consider even gangsta-thugs have girlfriends or mothers or maybe even children. (I’m a cold-hearted bastard, but that one was tough to contemplate, even for me.)

Assuming you have mentally prepared yourself for the concept of blowing out another human being’s spine and entrails, you must now weigh your ability to survive a second life-changing event. That would be judgment by a jury of 12 unreasonable people in the event those pesky law-enforcement types deem your actions unjustified in light of the circumstances. (Even if you avoid criminal prosecution, you still run the risk of a civil wrongful-death lawsuit—or, at a minimum, a personal-injury suit—if the bad guy doesn’t have the good graces to die.)

Of course, the easiest way to avoid being a victim is to pay attention and be aware of your surroundings; this advice is applicable even to people who don’t carry. The easiest way to avoid having to use lethal force is to avoid situations where it would be needed. (Granted, bad stuff does happen to even the most careful of us. Hence the “carry” part.)

And lest you think a gun and permit is the be-all and end-all to personal defense, consider the 21-Foot Rule. Twenty-one feet is the danger zone. Said another way, an able-bodied bad guy within 21 feet of you and your weapon can generally cover that distance before you could ever hope to draw said weapon and dispatch him. Actually, the distance is probably slightly farther because in real life, you have to identify the bad guy and then react. In my class, I already knew who he was and could anticipate his approach.

In reality, no firearm is of any use if you aren’t intimately familiar with how to use it. A large-caliber semi-automatic is nothing but an oversized paperweight if you can’t quickly clear a feed jam. And in a high-stress situation—like, oh, say, a firefight—your fingers become the functional equivalent of 2x4s. I could argue you’re better off with a six-shot revolver. As the saying goes, if you can’t hit it in six shots, 15 won’t help.

My point is that with rights come responsibilities. I’ve just outlined several of the latter.

Now, if you aren’t overwhelmed, get thyself to the range and join the club!

Otherwise, get to the same range and learn why you the club is not for you.