Sunday, January 11, 2015

Reflections on "I Carry A Gun Every Day"

The article I wrote, published last Sunday, is now a week old.   The support from drop in’s at the store, phone calls, and most of all, emails, have moved me.    Emails have come to me from every corner of our country and six others.  The touching stories have made me reflect on why I do what I do.   Some only learn after they have been a victim.  Others learn from the videos and stories of violence happening to those around them.   Be the latter. Being proactive is always better.

The emails I’ve received have confirmed in me the good in people; in every state and in every corner of this world.   I am guilty myself of unconsciously writing off people that live in states with very different laws than those in Iowa.   It’s easy to forget that many laws are fought for at the local level.  The moving stories I’ve been told in the last week have make me reconsider.  Evil is everywhere; it is. 

There are also good people everywhere.    Single moms taking  steps to keep themselves and their families safe. Women whose spouses currently carry, writing me to say they "see the light," joining their spouses in the right to bear arms. Two sets of eyes, two rescue tools and two phones are always better than one.  I am so glad so many of them are empowering themselves. It all starts inside the head. Knowing that your life, and the lives of your loved ones, is precious and it doesn't make you a bad person to decide that you are willing to defend it. 

I've heard from doctors; one in Belgium, one in France.  A story of how you can train to keep yourself safe when law prevents carrying a firearm.   He and his daughters train in hand to hand self-defense and carry knives; also a great tool.    To be told that your words touched someone half a world away and helped reinforce to them why they train with a knife and hand-to-hand combat in a country where terrorists are fought with rifles is inspiring and sad.   Due to the time difference I got his email in the middle of the night; just six hours from catastrophe.     If he had posted my story in his hometown would he have been perceived as paranoid and frenetic?  Many trainers I know would tell you to master your gun skills and then master every other skill you could to try to ensure that you don't ever use that gun unless you have to.   This writer has no other option.

The emails from the East and West Coasts have been inspiring.  Living within the parameters of what is legally allowed is a challenge.   I remember Rob Pincus speaking to class about his experience training people that have different allocations of time, tools, range availability and even desire.  There are many that do not enjoy the freedoms that we have.  Even within our own country our freedoms vary greatly.

I do not have to justify what I do to anyone. I want to be educated and keep educating others on the strategies necessary to keep ourselves safe. The naysayers don't bother me at all. I can only help those who seek help.  It happens in my store, the classroom, and on the range.   And it’s clear that putting my thoughts to words has had a worldwide impact.   Those I know that choose to arm themselves and train don't do so out of bravado or some twisted vision of being a superhero. They simply value their life and the lives of those around them; truly believing they have made a commitment to come home to their family every day.

We see this happen with women's self-defense class.  A woman otherwise reserved would not hesitate to do any of that and more to protect her children. I meet people like this throughout my career. I simply asked them, would your children want to be an orphan? Are you not the keeper of their safety and their only mother?  It's not a guilt trip. It's simply getting them to see the logic that they are irreplaceable.   Getting them to see that their own life is worth defending is the first step.

There have been many events of violence in this country and others since my article was posted.  Some right here in our own state.   I don’t need affirmation to do what I do for a living.  These acts of violence have always happened and will keep happening but it may still not be enough for others to see the light.   That's okay. I'm not reaching out to people trying to change them. I'm reaching out to the people that are ready to make that change. I'm reaching out to the people that need to know that it's okay to value your life enough to defend it.   I don't personally know anyone filled with bravado that carries a gun. I only know people who choose to carry the right tools for bad situations.
It's not my cliché but it has been said many times before. "Good people sometimes have to do bad things to save themselves."  It's a lot easier to justify those bad things in the legal system than it is in your own head sometimes. Both are equally important.   Having a support group around you if you ever have to be that person is very important.   Mas Ayoob has changed the lives of many by speaking of the demons that rear their head after one has had to use deadly force to defend themselves.

This takes me back to all the emails I received from all across this country; states that many of us call "blue states.”  Cities that we consider "lost ". Well I for one am no longer going to think that way. Those very places are also filled with evil. Some I’ve received emails from are some of the most violent cities in this country.   There are many nationwide organizations designed to help those in a time of need; food, shelter, or other basic needs.    Many have reached out to me inquiring about a nationwide movement to communicate better about our choice to train, learn, and reach out to those who need help.  My technological talent is lacking but I’m dedicated to seeing that to fruition.  

I teach students to hear the words "your brain will keep you alive.”  Chris, who guides students in hands-on defensive techniques, has been training civilians and law enforcement for over 30 years.  His motto is “the will to survive is instinctive....the ability to survive is learned.”  Keep learning. Keep training.  And consider those that although they may live worlds apart, both literally and figuratively, that share the same mind set.   Sometimes those great divides are caused my laws... laws and borders is all.  And as for me?  I’m right here, ready to guide you an any way you need.

Ernie Traugh.

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