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By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

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People are talking about carrying guns, gun laws and mass shootings. I was in a Long Range Surveillance Unit in the U.S. military and I grew up with guns in my family. But I don’t carry a gun. Here’s why:

  1. I Don’t Want To Live In a Community Self-Governed by Threat of Force.

I’ve traveled all over the world. Been to conflict zones on three continents. I have seen first hand what it is to live in a community governed by threat of force. That is not how I want to live. Our society and culture develops congruent with our vision. If our vision is an armed society, that will be our reality. If our vision is a society less reliant on arms to solve and prevent problems, our reality will manifest that way. That is how I want to live. So I do.

  1. Carrying a Gun is Inconvenient. 

When I did carry a gun it was a significant responsibility, and it was inconvenient. The heavy pistol concealed on my belt caused my pants to fall down when I went to the bathroom. The handgun dug into my back when I sat in a car. I couldn’t draw it in a hurry from a concealed position in a car anyway. When I got home at night I had to secure the weapon in my house. It was a lot of extra work and responsibility. I don’t want that.

  1. I Probably Couldn’t Hit Anything Anyway.

I haven’t pulled a trigger in over a year. I am not current or proficient in combat shooting. And, with the small pistols commonly carried as a concealed firearm, I doubt I could hit anything beyond 10 yards accurately and dependably anyway. For me to carry a gun and then employ it effectively and safely in a civilian setting I would need extensive re-training and then ongoing proficiency training. In the military we had to qualify with our weapons on a regular basis. I haven’t done that in a long time. Despite my military and civilian experience, I’m not qualified.

  1. I Don’t Want The Responsibility of Deciding Whether or Not to Take a Life.

If I carry a gun to defend others, and myself but I make a bad decision and accidentally shoot the wrong person, I would regret that- and cannot undo it. Carrying a gun is making the decision that you are willing, and ready, to kill. I am not- at least not at a moments notice in a civilian setting.

Many people don’t realize that the responsibility of shooting another person, even when justified, exposes you to significant civil liability. If you shoot a criminal and your actions are judged to be legally justified, you won’t do jail time. However, you may be financially responsible for some loss the criminal you shot may suffer. These losses can include medical bills, disfigurement and compensation to a surviving family. You may stay out of jail for a justified self-defense shooting, but it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in a civil suit in addition to the cost of mounting a costly defense.

  1. It Is Unsettling to People, Especially Some of My Friends.

I have friends on both sides of the firearms debate. Some carry firearms, some are opposed to even owning guns. I respect both perspectives. I also consider myself an animal rights advocate, but I don’t brandish my animal empathy in front of someone eating a steak. Ultimately, we all have to get along. I am a shooting enthusiast, I love to shoot, and I own guns. But I do it respectfully. I know carrying a gun, openly or concealed, makes some people uncomfortable. I don’t want to do that.

  1. It’s unlikely I’ll Ever Really Need It. 

I’ve climbed mountains, fallen in crevices, jumped out of airplanes, visited all seven continents, swam with sharks. I’ve never been in a civilian situation where I needed deadly force. The odds are, I never will. I have had to take medications to save my life when I had a heart defect. I still have that heart defect, but I don’t carry the medications; because I likely will never need them again and it is inconvenient. I view having to use a gun to save my life as a very remote possibility. I don’t carry a fire extinguisher (although my house is full of them), a CPR mask or a personal flotation device with me (I live near water). Like a gun, it is statistically unlikely I will need any of those things on a daily basis. So I don’t bother with it.