For the past year or so I have kept it kind of hidden that I now own a handgun and occasionally carry it out in public. For some reason the other day I thought that I should share my thoughts on why I do this, so here it goes.
Why own a gun in the first place?
Yet again this is Randy‘s fault as he got into it first and got me thinking about it. About a year ago there was rumor of a few robberies in my neighboorhood. Randy had recently purchased a handgun and as a good friend was trying to suck me into it as well. One night Kaylene and I were talking about the neighborhood break-ins and I wondered what I would really do if it happened in our home. If some crazed individual (or individuals) were to break into our home what would I do? How would I get to my sons’ rooms across the hall crossing in front of whatever danger was on it’s way up the steps? How would I defend them? Go ahead and think through this scenario right now. Imagine you are in bed and you hear a window break. What is your plan of action? How do you get your family safe and what will you use to defend them?
I did this very thing. I looked around the bedroom to see what I could use as some form of a weapon if it happened right then. The most threatening thing I could find was the $10 table lamp from Wal-mart… literally. There was no bat or pole or metal bar to use as clubs. Nothing heavy to throw. I had a lamp to defend my family with. My inner cave man was screaming that this was not acceptable. I had no way to defend my family other then my fists and a lamp. This wasn’t going to dissuade someone who had already crossed the line of coming into my home.
This started a several month process of research, pondering and convincing on my part to get Kaylene to let me get the gun. One day she finally said yes, and I bought the gun the next day before she could change her mind. The gun I purchased is a Springfield Armory XD Sub-Compact 40S&W. I also immediately signed up for a class to allow me to get my Concealed Firearm Permit to allow me to carry my gun in a concealed manner. More on this further down.
Think of the Children
How to keep the kids safe around a firearm was my top priority. The day I purchased the gun I also purchased a safe for it on the way home. The safe I purchased is a GunVault Mini. This is a small safe but it is large enough to hold the gun and an extra magazine of rounds. What good would the gun be if it took a while to get to in an emergency (in the closet under some clothes or wherever). I wanted it within reach when I was asleep and the small size allowed it to fit under my bedside table.
It has a keypad that your fingers can easily find for entering the combination in the dark. After 3 incorrect attempts is locks for a few minutes. This means that when the boys inevitably were playing with the buttons they had 3 chances at that 1 in 12 million chance of guessing my combo before it locked up.
On the microscopic chance they got into the safe, or if by my stupidity the safe was left open or the gun laying around (at point I would get rid of the gun myself due to negligence) then the gun I chose has a number of safety’s built into it.
- At this point in time I do not leave the gun in a state where you can just pull the trigger to fire it. You would first need to pull back the slide to rack the first round (you know, like you see in the movies). This takes a decent amount of force and is a hair difficult for me, a bit difficult for Kaylene and near impossible for a 4 year old. Keeping it in this state makes it slower for me to be ready to engage a threat, but for now it gives me peace of mind with the kids.
- If another evil miracle occurs and a 4 year old is able to rack the slide there are two safetys built into the gun for firing. There is a trigger safety as well as a grip safety. You have to pull the trigger as well as be pushing in fairly hard on the back of the grip for the gun to fire. Fairly hard means there have been a few times where I have gone to shoot when practicing and it wouldn’t fire because my grip was incorrect or I wasn’t squeezing hard enough. These safety’s make it so it won’t go off if it’s dropped. You can’t just pull the trigger by itself and have it go off. In the world of handguns… this is a fairly safe gun.
With these precautions in place (which were all part of my discussions with Kaylene before hand) I feel very safe with a gun in the house with children. Kaylene is still a bit wary, but that is a good thing and keeps me in check.
Randy also gave me a link to a cheesy little video that he has shown to his kids about gun safety. I have watched this many times with Dallin and will review the principles from it with him from time to time.
Carrying Outside the Home
As of this writing, I don’t carry outside of the home every time I leave. Nor do I carry most the time when I am at home. I will carry when I am going to the store, out to run errands, or going on a family drive. Unfortunately my place of employment does not allow carrying on the premises, nor leaving the gun in a vehicle (I have another safe for in the car). So this makes it difficult to carry on a daily basis. But when I am not going to work, or to church (they don’t allow it either) I try to carry as often as I can remember to.
For carrying at home I have the dilemma of how to interact with my rambunctious 4 year old. It’s hard to spontaneously wrestle with him or have him grab me with a painful hunk of metal on my hip, which happens to be his head height. I have to constantly be aware of what side to keep him on in the wrestling so he doesn’t get hurt by it, and I don’t like having to do that. So for now, playing with the kid trumps the extra safety at home. Yeah that doesn’t match with my logic for having the gun in the first place, but that’s just how it goes.
But Aaron, we live in Happy Valley… nothing is going to happen where you will need a gun. Tell that to the people who were at Trolley square or this story of a guy simply driving down a dirt road. I honestly hope that I never have to use my gun in self defense. But I also wear a seatbelt hoping to never get in an accident. I don’t wear it because it’s the law, I wear it because in the rare chance I get in an accident, I want to come home to my family. I don’t have a fire extinguisher in the closet hoping to put out a fire (ok, secretly that would be awesome… just not INSIDE my house please), but just in case there is one. There are many precautions we take every day on the off chance of bad things happening. For me, this is just another one of those precautions. Something that will allow me to get home to my family in the rare chance that it is needed. Or if inside my home, keep the bad thing away from them so they are safe.
Guns Aren’t for Everyone
I respect the fact that not everyone wants guns in their home. In addition to the places I listed above, I have a friend or two that I have brought it up with and they said their wife isn’t comfortable with guns in their home. I either don’t wear my gun when going there, or I leave it in the gun safe in my car when I get there. If I haven’t brought it up with someone yet, I err to the side of caution and leave the gun in the car. This can be a very touchy subject (although I personally don’t think it needs to be), and so I feel it’s best to avoid the issue of them finding out I brought a gun into their home without their knowledge.
Hopefully this article gives me a chance to open a dialogue with more friends and family about why I choose to carry and what it’s all about.
I try to go out to practice every now and then and would love the opportunity to take any of my friends or family who are interested in learning more about guns or just want to try to shoot one to see what it’s like. I try to be very safety conscious and will make it a good experience. I take gun ownership very seriously and would expect anyone who wants to handle one to do so as well.
So that’s it. That’s my announcement to the world that I have a gun, I occasionally carry it around, and why I have it in the first place. Hopefully it has been enlightening to some. If you made it this far, congrats.
I now have the ability to defend my family. If I hear the window break, I can reach down to the side of my bed and have a significant weapon in my hand within a few seconds. When I need to go into the hallway to get to my kids rooms the odds are that I will be more prepared then the threat that could be coming up the stairs. I will feel more comfortable taking that step out into the hallway knowing that just the sight of a gun will deter a threat, let alone the force of actually using the gun. Again, I hope to never have to use it for defense, just like I hope to never really NEED my seat belt. But it is a comfort to me to know that it is there if the need arises.