by Gila Hayes

I think it’s natural to want to convert people of different beliefs over to our way of thinking. Through mankind’s history conversions have been brought about by force, have been the result of peer pressure and have been encouraged by loving concern with many variations along that scale. A genuine conversion comes from a deep personal resolve, a decision made to change how one lives. Most other conversions lack the deep conviction that carries the new believer through tough times.

In a perfect world, conversion should only occur when the individual is personally convinced to change their ways, so genuine conversion must be free from other human influence to as great an extent as possible. That is why I believe that no one should be subjected to outside pressure when deciding to own and carry guns for self defense. A decision to go armed should be made only after intensive study and soul searching to balance concerns about taking the life of an attacker against needing to save one’s own life or the lives of loved ones.

You’re probably asking yourself, “What started that diatribe?” A former member recently emailed the following experience. Despite “being on the fence,” he had gone along with getting a gun for self defense and obtained a concealed carry license. Throughout the process of buying his gun and getting his state carry license, he felt hesitant and uncertain.

The man and his wife joined the Network, understanding the need for financial assistance with legal fees after self defense. He studied the entire member education set. As he grasped the seriousness of the aftermath of a self-defense shooting, combined with his other concerns, he decided to stop carrying his gun and, he wrote, take his chances that he won’t need a gun for self defense.

The finality of shooting in self defense focused his concerns not on saving his life or his loved ones’ lives, but instead on the potential that he could kill someone. He commented in a post script that he believes that people who carry guns are prepared to end “someone’s life either on purpose or by accident if they miss and shoot the wrong person.”

I am sad that this manifestly kind-hearted man has chosen to gamble with his life, but having acknowledged the sadness, I also feel relief that he has reached this decision before being thrust into a situation where hesitation to use the deadly force he possessed could create even more dire consequences. He had obtained the power to wield deadly force without the mental preparation to do so. The fears he expressed about killing accidentally spoke to the absence of the dedicated and ongoing skill building and maintenance that is the hallmark of the responsible armed citizen.

I don’t know the full story behind his change of heart and it is none of my business so I really don’t want to know details. The frankness with which the gentleman described his experience highlights the problem of talking undedicated persons into becoming armed citizens. No one should pressure another person into buying a gun. Please don’t do it.

We love opportunities to chat about the fun of shooting sports and the satisfaction of honing shooting skills and completing tough training or competitive challenges. These are personal experiences that may provide a model for another to become a responsible gun owner. While sharing those experiences, let’s not forget to also talk about the responsibilities of gun ownership along with the moral and ethical decisions inherent in owning guns for self defense. To promote one without the other does a grave disservice.

Answer questions with candor and honesty from personal perspectives and experiences but keep in mind that your choices may not be the right ones for the person with whom you are chatting. That person’s beliefs need to grow and mature before undertaking gun ownership, and like all genuine convictions the choice to own guns must not arise from a sense of not keeping up with one’s peers, or fear of disappointing a family member who wants a loved one to go armed, or any other external pressure.

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.