Alone, I can’t change American culture and this strange relationship we have with guns and ammunition. There are so many different things that America could do, to change the levels of gun violence in America, and the numbers of events of school shootings in our country. But this isn’t small problem, these solutions aren’t tiny ones, either, and I’m afraid that I haven’t come upon one yet that I can implement myself, which will bring national, regional, or cultural change.
But what I can do is model the behavior I want to see. The behavior I want to see in my children, the behavior I want to see in society, the behavior I want to see in others.
I own firearms. I keep them at home, very well locked up. I do not store ammunition in the home. I am very well trained in the use of firearms; I spent 20 years in the military, and 25 years in intelligence, when firearms were often something that were key to keeping me alive. I was the dog of war society unleashed in time of need, only to put back on leash afterward.
I have a conceal carry permit. I do not carry. I do not want to have to carry. I want ours – mine – to be a society wherein I do not feel a requirement to be armed. I have been to war before; I know what they feels like, to feel the need for a sidearm, for a long rifle, for hundreds of rounds of ammunition. I know what it feels like, to need to be ever ready, ever vigilant, ready to lash out with that level of violence. I do not want mine – ours – to be that society, wherein I need to be ready to break the seal and unleash hell. I have been there, and I do not want to ever go back.
I want to help my fellow man, every day of every week, in every way I can. It’s how I was raised, it reflects who I am, it is indicative of the values I hold. It is something I have practiced since my youth, and is something I have modeled as a citizen, a husband, a father, a Soldier, and a leader.
And if that means running towards the sound of gunfire, during the time of need, with nothing more than my body with which to react, I know I will. I’d rather respond in that way – or with a rock, or a sharp, pointy stick – than go back to being the man I was, armed for combat and ready to do harm unto others. I can react to the worst things this world brings; I do not want to model preparing for it. I want to model preparing for the good here, let that be my legacy.
I am not alone in this. Outside of Paris, Airman Spencer Stone and Specialist Alek Skarlatos didn’t flinch in deciding to run towards a gunman on a train, in thwarting an attack. Yesterday, at Skarlatos’ alma mater, Army Veteran Chris Mintz blocked the shooter on the Umpqua Community College campus in an effort to save others, with reports indicating he was shot seven times and had both his legs broken. I would rather be forced to model that behavior, of continued selfless service to others, if the slimmest of slim chances occurred and I found myself in such a situation.
Because I know what I would do. I would do the same thing I have always done. I would run towards the sound of gunfire.