Reasons to be cheerful, Part 2.9.5: Carrying a concealed firearm is the first step to reclaiming responsibility for your own self-defense.

Arizona State Senate Bill 1070 — the “Welcome to the Hotel California” legislation that has drawn so much attention nation-wide — will take effect on July 29th, 2010. Two other bills that will become law that day are more interesting to me, if not to TV-camera-mugging know-nothings in other states.

First, it will be lawful in Arizona for citizens to carry a concealed weapon without applying for a state permit. Arizona has always been an open-carry state, and, until now, a concealed carry permit required nothing more than a small fee plus 16 hours of instruction. With or without the legal requirement, the instruction is not a bad idea. But what will change on July 29th is the attitude of bad guys. Unlike thugs in, say, Chicago, criminals in Phoenix know there is a high degree of likelihood that ordinary people will be armed. As Robert A. Heinlein said, “An armed society is a polite society.”

Second, firearms manufactured and sold within the state of Arizona will not be subject to the Federal Brady Law’s national firearms database. It’s not a big deal right now, but it is plausible that there will come a time that the Feds — or their surlier successors — might try to confiscate every gun they know about. Having weapons Johnny G-Man knows nothing about might turn out to be an important advantage, if the shit hits the fan.

Look at this:

Isn’t that a sweet little pistol? It’s a Ruger LCP, specifically designed for concealed carry. It’s a .380, six rounds in the grip, one in the chamber, so it’s strictly a self-defense weapon. But it’s just a little bit larger in all dimensions than a pack of index cards, so it is very easy to conceal on your person. You can get a belt-mounted holster for it that looks like a camera case.

That’s a Realtor’s gun, a salesperson’s gun, a weapon for people who go to a lot of places they’ve never been before and don’t know what to expect. Less than ten ounces, and no one knows you have it until it turns out to be your other lock box key. And now that both the U.S. Border Patrol and the Toronto Police Department have made it plain that you are on your own, should you need to defend your own life or property, it seems like a gun like that might be a good investment.

Take note: This is not a SHTF weapon. I intend to talk about what might happen if some or all of western civilization hits the skids — taking account, always, that I do not expect this to happen — but a gun this size is not adequate for self-defense if self-defense becomes an everyday chore. Per Steve Earle, “It can get you into trouble, but it can’t get you out.” But this is a very nice form factor for a concealed weapon, just enough firepower to contain casual idiocy.

And here is where I live right now: I’m going to buy two of these in August, one for each of us to carry every day. I truly do not believe the shit is going to hit the fan, but I am less resolved in that belief than I have been at any time in my life so far. I want for my mother back home to buy and learn to use a Colt 1911, also, but I know she won’t. I sent her pepper spray and rosary beads, instead.

What’s even sweeter for me about that Ruger LCP is that Sturm Ruger’s factories are in Prescott. Janet Napolitano, the very-publicly-inept head of the department of Homeland Security, was the gun-hating governor of Arizona in her last disaster of a job. Next month she and the entire BATF can go pound sand. That much makes me proud to call myself an Arizonan.

But what about you? Should you arm yourself now, just in case? I think like a Realtor, and I think every female Realtor should be armed at all times. I think every post-pubescent female should be armed to the teeth, though, so maybe that doesn’t count. But, male or female, if it’s plausible to you that being able to brandish or even fire a weapon could prevent a worse harm, to you or to another party, I think you have a responsibility to yourself, to your family and to your estate to be able adequately to defend yourself, your property and your companions. The adverb matters: Simply owning and carrying a firearm is not enough. It’s much more important to learn to use and maintain the weapon safely and effectively. Usus est magister optimus. Practice is the best teacher.

So: Do I carry a weapon now? No. But I want Cathleen to do this. And I do recognize that events can take us by surprise, our haughty hubris notwithstanding. And I like it that Arizona is doing this, and I agree wholeheartedly with the underlying sentiment: Not only is it our right as Americans to provide for our own defense, it is also our responsibility to do this. The perfect symbol of the American citizen is not an eagle but a Saguaro cactus: Not solitary, but proudly independent, armed mightily, but never in offense, yet utterly ruthless, inconquerable and unforgettable in defense.

Reasons to be cheerful
Reasons to be cheerful: Defying the specter of ugly fates.

Manifest your own destiny: You say you want a revolution? Yeah, well anyone can piss and moan about how bad everything is. If you want things to change, I’m making a stout effort to show you how to achieve revolutionary change — from the inside out. But your own efforts at self-improvement will bear sweeter fruit sooner if you share what you’re learning with other people who love to live. You’ve never heard anything like this before. Why would you hoard it to yourself?

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