OP-ED: Never Bring A Gun To A Word FightWashCo Dems op-ed article

By Clayton Callahan, Washington County Democrats Communications Committee Member

So, I want everyone to hear this from a “gun guy”:

Bringing a firearm to a protest is an extremely stupid thing to do. Not only is it stupid–it’s dumb, moronic, idiotic, brainless, foolish, imbecilic and ill-advised.

In short, don’t!

Now, who am I to know? Well, I happen to be a man who’s spent his entire professional life packing a piece. I’ve served in the US Navy as well as the US Army (yes, you can do that). I’ve also worked as a deputy sheriff, a US Special Agent, and a prison officer. Also, I’ve held a concealed-carry permit in two states. As such, I’ve been in situations where the guns are out, and people’s lives depend on the decision I must make in seconds.

Trust me, hindsight being 20/20, I’d rather have been a musician.

Now, let me get one thing out of the way right off the bat…yes, you do have the right to keep and bear arms. Happy? Good. But we all know that rights without responsibility is not freedom–it’s anarchy. Sure, I have the right to quit my job. Yea, me! But I also have the responsibility to feed my family. Actions have consequences, so before you take that AR-15 to the rally, let’s take a look at what those consequences might entail, hmm?

Generally speaking, killing people is against the law. As a correctional officer, I get to spend a lot of time with people doing time for just that. And believe me, the courts aren’t interested in hearing you cry “self-defense” unless the stars align just right. Oh, and you will want a darn good/expensive attorney. So, not to give any legal advice (I’ve never been a lawyer), but unless your actions were absolutely necessary to save the life of yourself or another, you’re likely going to wear the label “felon” long after that gavel slams down.

But you may say to me, “Hey! I only meant to scare them…to exercise my rights…to send a message—or worst of all—to look cool for my girlfriend!”

Folks, this is not a video game, and the rules are probably not what you think they are. For instance, I’ve been told, by amateurs, that just showing a gun will make the other person run. Nope. My real world experience harshly contradicts that. To wit, I was once forced to draw a pistol on a guy, and his only response was, “Oh, yeah? You think you’re brave because you got a gun?”

Yes, I could tell you that whole story here, but I won’t.

Suffice to say that in my professional gun-toting life, I have yet to shoot anybody. Why? Because every time I could have, I was fortunate enough to find another way—through a combination of training, experience, and some damn good luck. Trust me, professionals have a hard enough time making these decisions under pressure, it’s no place for hobbyists.

Which brings me to the inspiration for this little screed. I recently watched a video of two clowns (the nicest term I could think of for them) pointing guns at a crowd of protesters in St. Louis.

Apparently, there is a certain cross section of American gun-owners who desperately want to know what prison food tastes like. I’ve also seen similar nincompoops bring guns to protest what they consider to be the tyranny of lock-downs. I will not go into these people’s politics because, believe me, they are totally irrelevant once the bullets start flying.

Now, due to my convictions, I have been to many protests of late. Passions run high, tempers flare, and people’s ability to critically think about the situation they’re in diminishes proportionally. No one is immune to this psychological dynamic! The more stress you are under, the less clear your thinking. Period.

And by adding a gun into this already volatile equation, you are begging to be part of something tragically, permanently, and irrevocably stupid. Remember, once you pull a trigger there is no way you can EVER call that bullet back!

So, one last time–yes, you have a right to own a gun. Go you. But you also have the awesome responsibility that goes with it. And if a guy with my training and experience knows not to bring a firearm to a protest, for everyone’s sake, you shouldn’t either.

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