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Considering concealed carry — a serious choice

October 12, 2010

My wife is thinking about packing heat.

This is a new development. Even though I’m the pragmatic, thoughtful liberal and she’s the conservative wingnut, the missus has never been interested in carrying. To her credit, I think she recognizes the responsibility involved in going out in public armed, especially with children at her side.

Her thinking changed because strange men have been harassing women in our neighborhood. We live in a neat, modest community sandwiched between two public parks. These parks used to be harbors of prostitution and drug-dealing, but the police cleaned them up five years ago. Now, it appears the old ways are returning, at least in the dark hours of the night. The traffic these illicit activities bring may be spilling over. The wife has reported several incidents of being “chatted up” by strange, lone men. One in particular set off her alarms by refusing to take his hands out of his pockets. Knowing what I keep in my pockets, I think she was right to hustle off as fast (and in her case, politely) as possible.

At the last neighborhood forum, our neighbor, a young married woman who runs with her dog, reported being followed home by a man in a car. That was the last straw for her. She now carries a gun openly on her runs, at least until she receives her concealed handgun permit. “It freaks out the soccer moms, but I don’t care,” she says. At least once, she suspected a man was following her, so she moved her jacket aside to give him a better view of her pistol. The man changed directions. Suspicion confirmed.

All of these incidents happened in broad daylight. My wife’s encounter with hands-in-pockets man happened on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of our neighborhood. The fellow who shadowed my neighbor made her on the greenway that connects the public parks. This greenway is the pride of our city, meandering along the river and providing avenues of foot and bike traffic separated from motor vehicles. It also provides a causeway for our small homeless population, many of whom camp out in caves along the river or in park shelters. I’ve spoken with quite a few of them and can report most are harmless, if in need of mental health services. But my wife still gets creeped out by their persistent leering, especially since these other, more threatening incidents.

“It is so annoying to have to think about these things!” my wife constantly complains. She now avoids the park and its beautiful greenways unless she’s certain others will be around. That is annoying, and that is also why she asked for some recommendations on concealable firearms. Since the missus is smarter than I am, and also because it’s the right thing to do, I instead referred her to some websites by women for women about carrying firearms. The first question to answer is not what you should carry but if you should carry. I would feel better if she decided to pack a pistol, but not if she felt compelled to by me (not likely) or by an irrational fear. Since the wife has refused to carry even pepper spray, moving up to a gun has to be a thoroughly thought-out decision.

I suspect part of her hesitance is her aforementioned irritation at reality. But I suspect she also realizes what a sea change this will be in her life. I admit, I did not take concealed carry very seriously at first. I read a few self-defense stories, picked up an inexpensive, yet reliable Kel-Tec P3AT and just did it. There was a part of me that thought, “I’m carrying a gun! This is kind of cool!” I now see how immature that thinking was.

The missus isn’t like that. She’s a “ruminator,” as she likes to say — and one who’s heard enough stories of death and crime as an attorney. She knows carrying a gun is worse than worthless if she’s not trained and willing to use it. She knows she’ll have to consider where to carry it, and how to secure it from our four-year old. She will have to change her mindset, knowing a gun means more responsibility to avoid danger and conflict, not less. She will weigh all the facts, and come to her own decision. If she decides to carry, it will be a seriously considered and correct decision. Same if she decides against it.


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