Starting from an early age my father began educating me about guns. For instance, they are not a toy. And he demonstrated how to safely handle a firearm. He also made sure that I knew why we had them — to protect ourselves if need be. Protecting what is ours, something our country was founded on, whether it’s you, yourself or tangible property.
Last week I went to qualify for my concealed hand gun license. And I ended up surprising myself with my reaction. But more on that in a minute. For background, I knew that in 1995, Texas enacted its “concealed carry” law. Citizens able to pass a background check, attend a class demonstrating knowledge of their weapon to include qualifying at various distances would be able to carry a weapon on them in designated places so as it was properly concealed.
The political debate over open vs. concealed has been always been a highly debated subject, but recently it has been gaining momentum. For instance, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis is in favor of open carry. That means citizens with a license can openly display their weapon. Her recent support is causing a stir within her own political party. Her timing is questionable to say the least, in previous years she has voted against may second amendment rights. After all our President, also a Democrat, is calling for more restrictive gun laws. Is she trying to appeal to the “good ol’ boys” or is she trying to gain votes from the other side? In the past, if you look at Davis’ voting record regarding gun control vs. open carry, one can only wonder why now she’s chosen to advocate for the latter.
With all of that on my mind, last week I walked into the facility looking for my concealed license. I was expecting the course to cover the top “pro-gun” advocacy. And surprisingly, that was not the case. Yes, we discussed why you should carry and we went over the circumstances where you can carry, but more importantly we discussed the consequences of firing your weapon. It was something I had not given much consideration prior to the class.
Before you assume I didn’t think there would be any consequences, allow me to explain. I knew there would be consequences. I did not know to what extent. For example, knowing the difference in the legal process of receiving no bill (not being taken to court for firing your weapon) versus billing (taken to court for firing weapon) for a trial. After countless examples and audio recordings of situations involving CHL carriers, I felt a weight begin to settle on my shoulders. Am I really prepared to take on this responsibility? Yes, I’m ready to defend myself, but am I willing to handle the repercussions? Should that day come, the end result, right or wrong, will still be the same. In a worst case scenario a life will have been taken.
Whatever Davis’ stance on open carry may be, I hope she will take it seriously and will not minimize the severity of this issue to serve her own agenda. The simple fact is this: It comes down to choices and with that comes responsibility. And after taking the CHL class, it is ultimately my choice to decide if I’m going to carry or not.
And that’s not a choice I will take lightly.
Emily Garrison is a reporter for TSB.