I tried really hard not to write about guns this week, but the subject seems to beg for my attention.
Don't worry though. I'm going to try to take a little different tack.
I'm not going to even attempt to persuade anyone to come over to the pro-Second Amendment side. People who are for gun control are the same people who trade liberty for the perception of security. Despite the clear language of the Constitution and the Supreme Court's ruling that the right to bear arms is an individual right, they're always going to assume that access to firearms should only be for the military, and that letting individuals have them is the avenue to a massacre.
And you can't convince them that these nuts would find another way -- James Holmes' apartment was full of homemade bombs and booby traps -- so why try? You could ask them, as Archie Bunker so eloquently asked when confronted by Gloria about the number of gun deaths, "Would it make you feel any better, little girl, if they was pushed outta windows?" And the answer in many of their minds, of course, would be to ban windows. So having an argument with these folks about the merits of a legally armed public is pointless.
The people I want to talk to are the ones who are already in the gun-toting boat. And the ones who soon will be.
I know that in the wake of the theater massacre, a lot of folks are going to be buying firearms and getting permits to carry them. For those of you who are new to guns, here are some things you need to know:
Owning a gun is a huge responsibility, and carrying it in public even moreso. I've been around guns all my life, and I was taught from a very young age how deadly they are and how to handle them safely. ("What comes out of the end of the barrel?" my daddy would ask. "Instant death," was the appropriate answer.) If you're walking around with a gun in your coat pocket and no idea how to use it or how deadly it is, guess what? I'm more scared of you shooting me accidentally than I am of the possibility of some nut going on a spree.
If you're going to buy one and carry it, learn how to handle it safely. ALWAYS treat it as if it were loaded, even when you think it's not. Getting in that habit is essential. Never point it at anything you don't want dead. There are no takebacks with bullets. (See the "instant death" paragraph.) Keep it clean, so it operates properly. Always keep the safety on until you're ready to pull the trigger.
And learn how to use the doggone thing. Just buying a gun and walking out into the world does not make you armed and ready. It makes you an idiot. Take a gun safety class. Go to the range. Practice shooting at a target until you're good. Then practice drawing from concealment until you're good at that. Then practice as often as you can.
Finally, realize this: most self-defense situations arise in a second or two. Most gunfights are over in three or four. Most of the time, the criminal will have the drop on you, because he's already got his gun in his hand and pointed at you by the time you think about drawing yours. And in a rare and chaotic situation like Aurora, all your Dirty Harry talk -- "Boy, if I'd been there with my gun, I woulda ... " -- is just talk. If you'd been in a dark, loud movie theater filled with tear gas, a screaming stampede and a lunatic, well, unless you're a Navy SEAL, I'm guessing you might've lost composure.
The point is, realize that carrying a gun means also shouldering the responsibility. And just because carrying a gun is a right, it is not a guarantee of defense against evil, but in this unpredictable, dangerous world, I certainly won't try to talk you out of it.
I'll only try to talk you into doing it correctly.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.