There have been innumerable debates on gun ownership. These discussions generally address two critical factors: gun violence in inner cities and mass shootings. As a result, some Americans have called for the removal of certain weapons, such as the AR-15, from civilian ownership, and the limitation of magazines to 10 rounds as a means to combat these two problems. While I understand the desire to act quickly, we should not act in a way that makes villains of law-abiding gun owners who only wish to protect themselves and their families while simultaneously giving criminals the upper hand in their pursuit of destruction.
Can good, responsible citizens with firearms actually make a difference in life-threatening situations? A recent incident in Indianapolis demonstrates that, with training, a responsible gun owner can respond swiftly, safely and responsibly to save lives. A 22-year-old saved a significant number of lives when he eliminated a shooter who murdered three people and injured three more in an Indiana mall; the situation likely would have been much worse. Since 2021, there have been a total of 22 confirmed incidents of concealed carry permit holders employing deadly force to stop criminals in life-threatening situations. This number sounds insignificant in a vacuum; however, it is critical to consider that most shootings do not occur in places where firearm carry is permitted — for obvious reasons — thus there is generally no armed person available to stop a shooter.
As a gun owner with a license to carry a concealed handgun, I am fully aware that the use of force is an action of last resort. Firearm carriers are trained to avoid risky situations and make every attempt to deescalate whenever feasible. Nonetheless, taking a life is only appropriate if your own life is in imminent danger. I hope that I will never be in such a life-or-death scenario, but it is comforting to know that I can safeguard my life and the lives of others if necessary. After all, no sane individual goes about his or her day craving blood; rather, people carry to secure their own safety. Responsible individuals can use a weapon to prevent mass shootings and other types of deadly violence.
However, the villainization of law-abiding gun owners has prompted many Americans to distrust firearms and gun owners in general. This has occurred at the hands of government actors and gun control lobbyists who twist the facts to make people believe that guns are both dangerous and unnecessary in life-threatening situations. They make gun owners out to seem like fringe conspiracy theorists who have a deep distrust for authority.
Unsurprisingly, this could not be further from the truth. Gun owners are your neighbors, your friends and your family members. The firearms community is comprised of people you care about, and they are neither monsters nor evil; they are ordinary citizens concerned with their safety and the use of the fundamental right to defend themselves. No one should be at danger of having their rights and liberty infringed upon by criminals intent on causing bodily harm. Restrictive gun laws merely place criminals who flout the law in control.
When I recall growing up in rural South Carolina during a very difficult period in our nation’s history, I recognize that it was firearms that enabled Black people in the South to fend off the Ku Klux Klan. I consider today’s single moms and women who, in most cases, would be powerless against an assailant but could have the ability to protect themselves with a firearm. It goes without saying that members of the LGBTQ community have the right to keep and bear arms, and they most certainly ought to have the right to defend themselves if they find themselves a potential victim of a transphobic or homophobic attack. I consider the hatred of Asian people and atrocities committed against our Jewish brothers and sisters; they absolutely deserve to use deadly force against assailants who seek to harm them for their immutable characteristics. This privilege is available to all law-abiding Americans, regardless of color, religion, orientation or any other classification.
Criminals and those seeking to commit mass violence do not care if you are armed or not; they will find other ways to harm you. This has been the case since the beginning of human history. However, the question is how to strike a balance between protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens and keeping us safe from criminals. Maintaining access to weapons for law-abiding citizens is essential, and a balance must be struck between laws that screen out criminals and laws that make it difficult for law-abiding people to acquire and possess firearms.
You may not like firearms, and you may not want to possess one, but if you ever find yourself in a situation similar to the victims in that Indianapolis mall, you will wish there was a good Samaritan with a gun who could mean the difference between survival or death.