It’s almost hard to believe it’s been 20 years since 9/11.
It’s been 20 years since I watched the second tower fall while on the phone with my mother, relaying information from the TV while she was at work. I remember sitting there just saying, “It’s gone.”
“What? What’s gone?” she asked.
“The World Trade Center. It’s…gone.”
For some, they don’t really remember that day. They were young when it happened and it didn’t really register for whatever reason. My son is among them. While 9/11 happened, my wife had him at his two-month checkup.
So there I was, at home. I was sitting there by myself for much of the day except for when a neighbor without TV came over to see what was going on and wondering, “What’s next?”
I went into my bedroom and looked around. There should have been a gun there, but there wasn’t.
I wasn’t morally opposed to them or anything, but it wasn’t a priority. I had a wife and a child and wasn’t working jobs that paid particularly well. We were struggling to get by and a gun wasn’t high on the list of priorities at that time.
After that day, it was.
For those of you who remember, you may recall us wondering what was next. The World Trade Center gone. The Pentagon with a giant hole in it. A plane down in a field in Pennsylvania. It felt so surreally horrifying. I couldn’t help but think about what I’d do for a follow-on if I were the bad guys.
I could see Al Queda shifting gears and start initiating smaller-scale attacks. What if they went through neighborhoods in rural parts of the country just to terrify people even more? What if it were my neighborhood?
Now, 20 years later, I can look back and think about how silly that sounded but at the time, it felt real.
There I was with a wife and a child to protect and I had absolutely no way to protect them. I didn’t have any of the tools needed to do so. If terrorists showed up, what was I going to do? Call 9-1-1?
I’d love to tell you that I went out and bought a gun that day, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Money was still tight and we were just barely surviving. I had to scrimp and save for a while before I could get a gun. That experience is part of why I bring up the cost of gun control efforts so often. I’ve been dirt poor and I know how hard it can be to save up to get a firearm, even without having to pay for mandatory training, a special license, or any of that other nonsense.
Since that day, we’ve seen other terrorist attacks on American soil. We’ve seen mass shootings and domestic terrorism. I’ve seen a thousand and one reasons why I should own a gun, even while anti-Second Amendment zealots try to explain why I shouldn’t be able to have one.
For me, though, the first was 20 years ago today. That was the day I decided I would get a gun.
Not a day has passed where I felt bad about that decision.