I have always lived in homes that were protected by firearms. I’ve never had to use one in self-defense, but I have often felt more secure in the knowledge that they are close by if needed. When I moved away to college, my father suggested that I take my revolver with me. He taught me the rules of gun safety and made sure that I was proficient with my weapon before I carried it on my own. That little .38 special gave us both peace of mind during that time period. 

 

Years later, my daily commute took me through remote areas with no cell phone service. I applied for my Concealed Handgun Permit and began to carry a firearm in the car. One summer evening, I made a quick trip to the local garden center just as night was falling. When I left the store, the area in which I had parked was dark and vacant. I noticed the figure of a man standing in the empty shopping cart return adjacent to my vehicle. With no one parked nearby, I couldn’t think of a good reason for him to be there. As if that weren’t enough, I noticed a large passenger van slowly circling the parking lot. I made a wide arc around the man, who seemed to take no notice of me. I quickly climbed into the opposite side of the car with my purchases, locked the doors, and opened the center console so that I could access my gun if it became necessary. I drove away without incident, but it was then that I realized that my firearm would be much more useful if I kept it on my person. Ever since then, I carry. 

I carry because I was raised to take responsibility for protecting myself, my home, and my family. I live in a rural area with unreliable cell phone coverage. Even if I am able to call the police, they are often more than twenty minutes away. A lot of bad things can happen in twenty minutes. 

 

I carry because we live in a world where my kids worry about active shooters at the movies, in church, or at the mall. It can be tempting to live in fear, but I believe that the antidote to fear is action. I choose to be prepared. 

 

I carry because it is my right as an American. Our founding fathers understood the importance of preserving the right of the citizens to own firearms as a defense against tyranny and corruption. It was so important to them that they included it in The Constitution of the United States, which is the supreme law of our country. I believe that the ability to defend oneself is a basic human right that should be protected. 

 

I carry because I want to set an example for others. I enjoy introducing people from all walks of life to firearms and concealed carry. There are so many innovative products on the market that I believe that anyone can find a safe and comfortable way to carry. 

 

I carry because, no matter how much I work out, I’m still a physically small person. Petite women, the elderly, or the disabled may look like easy targets, but a firearm can be a very effective equalizer for all of them. There is nothing more empowering than taking responsibility for your own protection.  

 

I carry because anything can happen at any time. If you watch the news on TV, you know that people are attacked while running through the park, pumping gas at the service station, or carrying groceries from the car to the house. These are all everyday activities that most of us do without giving them a second thought. It’s easy to tell myself that I don’t need to bother with my gun and holster when I’m just running to the store for milk, but I understand that we don’t get to choose when we’ll need to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, the criminal makes that decision for us. It’s up to us to be prepared to respond effectively. That not only entails carrying the self-defense tools of our choice, but also training with them to achieve and maintain proficiency. Concealed carry should be more than just carrying a firearm. I believe it should include dry fire and live fire training, practicing drawing from concealment, knowledge of firearms safety, and basic first aid skills. 

 

Concealed carry isn’t for everyone, but it is the right choice for me. I have much more to learn, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Because I carry, I am not afraid, but confident. I am not paranoid, but aware. I am not a victim, but a protector. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

 

-Tara, Virginia

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