I wouldn’t consider myself a gun nut. As a country boy, I grew up around guns. I enjoyed shooting, but wasn’t one of the people who headed to the range or the woods for hunting every weekend. I hunted occasionally and enjoyed plinking at cans or paper targets.
In some ways, I fit the liberal stereotype of gun owners. I’m a white male. I grew up in the South and still live there.
In others, I don’t. Even though I live in the country, I’m not a bumpkin or a redneck. I’m a college-educated professional who is the happily married father of two children. My oldest, a 14-year-old boy, has an interest in guns and enjoys shooting as well.
I’ve never been in the military. My formal firearms training is limited to the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. As a post-September 12 airline pilot, I volunteered for training to protect my flights from potential terrorist attacks. In my capacity as a federal agent, I carried a gun for two years until I left the airlines. I never shot a terrorist – or anyone else for that matter – but I felt like I was a small footnote in the War on Terror.
The reason that I applied to the FFDO program is that I put myself into the shoes of the passengers and crews of the hijacked planes on September 11. It is difficult to imagine sitting on an airplane just waiting to die without any real means of fighting back. If al Qaeda happened to target my flight, I intended to go down fighting.
I have lived most of my life in rural areas where self-defense is a consideration. There were a handful of deputies to cover the entire county. If you were in trouble and needed police help and the deputies happened to be on the other side of the county, it might take them half an hour or longer to respond. Country folks don’t like being defenseless targets any more than airline pilots do.
Even living in the city with constant police patrols doesn’t guarantee a fast response. Like the Broward County deputies at Parkland, police withdrew from entire neighborhoods during the 1992 LA riots and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
My brother, formerly a city cop, told the story of responding to a call about a home invasion in the middle of the night. He went into the house and and arrested the armed perpetrator, who was still inside the house with the residents. For his heroism, my brother had to perform a carpet dance because he did not wait for backup.
I have a lot of respect for the police, but they cannot be depended upon to protect everyone 24 hours per day. People need to be able to protect themselves for at least a little while. In a riot or disaster like Hurricane Harvey, which my family weathered last year, it might be more than a little while. Far more often than they stop a crime in progress, police are there to arrest the perp after the damage has been done.
Even though we live in the sticks, I’ve never had to fight off a burglar. I know that I could if I had to though. Could you? My Boy Scout training, which did include marksmanship and gun safety at summer camp, screams, “Be Prepared.”
What I have done is fight off nuisance animals. I’ve shot vicious little rodents that we call ‘possums (the “o” is silent) that can kill pets and damage houses. I’ve shot venomous snakes that threatened my children. I’ve shot wild hogs that destroyed my land and foxes that preyed on our chickens and ducks.
I already have several guns that are useful in these situations. Why, then, did I decide to buy an AR-15? There are several reasons.
I bought an AR-15 because it looked fun to shoot. It is a cool-looking gun and I found a good deal on one. I bought an AR-15 because people like David Hogg, Dianne Feinstein and maybe even Donald Trump don’t want me to have one.
I bought an AR-15 because I wanted one and could afford it. In a free country, that is reason enough.
Originally published on The Resurgent