As the explosions rang out in Belgium over 30 lives ended, 100 more were wounded, and thousands had their worldview changed forever. If the past year is any indication it has shown that a trip to the airport, subway, concert hall, sports stadium, café, or even office Christmas Party is fair game to the Islamic State and this has led me to ponder if good men now have a responsibility to carry more than even before. The NRA has coined the phrase, “good guy with a gun” but I’m not going to use it as liberally as that. For I don’t take every man with a gun who doesn’t intend evil to be the quintessential “good guy” of which we speak. But the type of person, man or woman, who would pursue education on the use of firearms is quite possibly that “good guy” and I think it is an important conversation to have for us to have.
The Good Guy
I am a United States Marine Veteran of Iraq and I don’t carry a weapon at all times. In fact, as I type this at a coffee shop this very moment I am not carrying, but as a look around the room I’ve come to realize I don’t think there is a single “good guy” in this place apart from myself. Which means if ISIS busts in here with an AK today it’s going to be a hipster massacre of mass proportions. Just the thought of nose rings and skinny jeans strewn all over the place is enough to make one shudder. And yet here I am, a fully capable man who just happened to need internet access on the road able to provide for the defense of these kids and all I have is the hot coffee in front of me.
Like it or not, we are a nation at war. You can call it anything from domestic workplace violence to terrorism if you like, but make no mistake about it we are at war with a self-declared foreign state. And in a time of war where the enemy can strike anywhere, do those of us civilian or military who know what they are doing enough to be considered a “good guy” have a responsibility to the citizenry.
Sure, our first is to our family and their safety, but I lack the void in character to sit here in this coffee shop and watch kids get gunned down while I hide. Perhaps if you are the type of person who knows they will act in such a moment, maybe you are in fact fulfilling your responsibility to your family by carrying a firearm so you come home alive to them.
Truthfully, the odds of a person encountering a terror attack are fascinatingly low. Cows kill over 20 people in America every year and dogs kill 28 which means you are just as likely to get killed by a cow or a dog as you are a terrorist on American soil. The chances that you will be in the right place at the right time when a terror attack occurs is miniscule. But Veterans, active military, proficiently trained civilians make quite a large pool of “good guys” and if we all did our part we cover a little more territory now don’t we?
It’s not a matter of if, but when. The United States of America will be hit with another terrorist attack likely before the year is even out. So I can sit here and ponder the odds all I want, but that will do little to comfort me in my sleep as I recount a massacre I could have at least had a chance to stop. I’m not a superhero and I don’t wear a cape. It is not my interest to walk America in hopes of witnessing a crime so I can play the hero.
Rather, just like my time in Iraq I’m just a Marine who wants to be able to say he did his part when his nation was at war. Perhaps my part as a Veteran a little too out of shape throw back on the uniform is to quietly train for the day when the odds are not in my favor and war breaks out right in front of me. And so that is my question to us all.
Again, there is no legal responsibility to carry a gun and you can honestly do what you want. I’m just wondering for this current season of life while ISIS persists perhaps it is best if those with the ability put themselves on a wartime footing opted to do so. After all, we are in fact at war and ISIS will remind America of that soon I fear. If you don’t consider yourself extremely proficient, perhaps it is time you seek out the training to become so. Our training is not designed just to get more guns out there, the training we offer is designed to create more “good guys” who might be there for our family the day we are not.
So here I sit surrounded in a crowded coffee shop with a bunch of Millennial kids that would have me grizzling like Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino if I had to carry on a 2 minute conversation with them. And yet, with the exception of the weird guy with the lip piercing and skinny jeans who keeps giving me the stink eye over in the corner, I honestly wish them no harm to them. These kids are not saving anyone I promise you, but if a few more of us “good guys” put ourselves on the right war footing we just might be in the right place at the right time.