Why Do You Bear Arms?

(In response to Bob’s gracious invitation to share some of my unconventional views on the defensive use of firearms with the readers of Bearing Arms, I’ll follow some conventional advice – start with the general, then move to the specifics, albeit in subsequent postings.)


I remain amazed–roughly six years after the Heller ruling and four years after the McDonald ruling–to still see and hear people on the left parroting the line that the Second Amendment only applies to service in a state militia. By choice, I live in Arizona, where the state constitution promises that, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired…”

Closer to the age of 70 than 60, I know or have known people who bear or have borne arms for a variety of reasons. For some it’s to carry out national policy in military service. For some it’s to enforce local, state, or federal laws. For some it’s to put food on the table. For some it’s to participate in this month’s match. Some claim to do so openly to educate others about the right.

For me and for many others it’s primarily for defense of self, family, and home.

That said, it’s crucial to realize (a) that merely owning or even carrying a firearm does not protect you from harm and (b) that the firearm only covers part of the spectrum of self-defense. The gun is not a talisman that will ward off evil based on all the training that came with it in the box. Conversely, if you go to the gun without adequate justification, you will likely end up in prison. When I returned to Arizona and began teaching what used to be an authorized course to qualify for a Concealed Weapon Permit, it was still illegal to tell or show someone with whom you were having a dispute that you were armed until you actually had the justification to use deadly force. Even under the state’s more recent defensive-display statute, that same justification is still required to draw the gun.


Not only must you be prepared to recognize–and optimally to avoid–threats as they evolve, you also need to be prepared to deal with those that do not rise to the level to justify the use of deadly force. You may well find yourself in need of the ability to use some lower levels of force. Further, it’s not very likely that the justification to use deadly force will be made by a stationary target, at least seven yards from you. At bad-breath range–where that justification is most likely to emerge–you will likely need some physical skills to deflect an attack as you are drawing the gun. Sadly, not all of us have such abilities. One of my late friends, who had serious balance issues, watched with me a video on close-quarters combat and remarked that, of the eight techniques shown, he’d probably be best served by going over backward, then firing from the ground.

I have sought to sketch a background for some of the topics I hope to discuss in the coming months. If there are some that you’d like me to address, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. It may, however, be worth your time and mine first to read through my website to see if I’ve already addressed those issues.


I might have been more successful financially as a firearms instructor had I been more oriented toward boosting scores in the monthly matches, However, that’s no why I bear arms. I do so to help ensure that I get home with no more holes in me than I had when I left.

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