Why I Choose to Carry A Firearm

I know what some people immediately jump to when they hear about a white male that owns firearms: Uneducated, homophobic, misogynistic, white trash, racist—there is a certain stereotype to owning firearms.  This is far from the truth.  I start at The University of Alabama for Mechanical Engineering soon and also served in the U.S. Navy as an engineer.  I worked with guys I knew were gay, but it didn’t matter because it doesn’t affect me.  In fact, two friends and I stopped a couple of disputes one night at our barracks and were commended by the Honolulu police department for doing the right thing.  Most people in the Navy didn’t even know I was from the south on my ship, and I worked with every race.  I met good friends that I still keep in touch with: some in other countries now.  Of course there are always bad apples, just like there is always evil in the world. We see it every day in the media, or we know someone that’s affected by evil. I’ve had 2 incidents in life where I needed a firearm to protect me from evil, and I chose from then on to carry a firearm.

Shooting and hunting with guns and bows has been a big family affair most of my life. All 3 uncles and my grandfather on my mom’s side hunted.  For one uncle, it is a religion—he’s out every day during the season and has it down to a science. He collects pictures from game cameras, plants food plots, sets up hunting stands, and scouts potential areas during the off season to better improve his take when the season does comes around.  To most hunters that’s a big part of hunting because you’re hunting well before you pull the trigger—that’s part of fun.  My dad hunted years ago, but doesn’t have time now.  Most of his side of the family hunted (typical of people from Maine). So I grew up in a house with deer heads, antlers, and turkey feathers hanging on the wall, but most importantly: firearms.

I was always taught never to play with them because they are not toys but tools. Tools that can be deadly if mishandled or abused. Tools just like a bow and arrow, a knife, a vehicle, a baseball bat, or a 2×4.   It’s ultimately what you do with that tool that defines the person—good or bad. No tool decides one day to take a life—be it human or animal.  There is always a person behind it that made that decision. No tool is evil ether.  So why do people put that stigma on firearms but not a car, baseball bat, or any other object?  Is it because they are only seen as used just for killing?

Usually these people have never heard of any kind shooting sports. The National Rifle Association was started to improve rifle proficiency after the Civil War.  It was noted that during the Civil War, the Union troops fired 1,000 shots to every Confederate wounded—that was a severe lack in marksmanship. This ultimately turned it into a sport.   Today there are firearms designed just for competition based on speed and accuracy.

Being former Navy, I’ve seen firsthand many people who never shot a firearm let alone handled one. In the Navy when we go through boot camp, there is a several week course on handling firearms and safety. We drilled quite often before we even touched a real gun by using inoperable pistols. I caught the guy (a fellow recruit) in charge of the firearms one day muzzle sweeping (pointing at) people and twirling. I proceeded to chew him out because it’s not proper gun safety: even if they couldn’t fire a bullet, who is to say he doesn’t do that with a gun that could?

This all lead up to live fire and most of the guys around my rack had never shot before and were very nervous. I got them to relax and told them it’s not hard.  I told them that I bet after they shot they might want one. We get done with the training, and we go back to the apartment—all the guys who never shot were excited and wanted to do it again.  It was such foreign a concept to see.  I just reminded them why we were in the military, and that we can own things like that if we wanted to. I’m pretty sure I saw a few new/future gun owners that day. I was so happy for them I was not mad that my unit didn’t qualify me as expert shot even though I was one.  But that’s another story for another day.

Several years ago I use to work at a pizza place before I turned 21.  Another worker and I had shut down for the day.  It’s around 10-10:30pm, and I had let another worker go home around 9:30pm. As he walked out the back, I threw a box into the back area for the trash.  As my car was always parked around back,  I thought I’d just throw it away when I left.  I also decided to prop the door open to cool off the back area as I counted the day’s tickets. This was a huge mistake and one thing that still sits with me today about always being aware my personal surroundings.

As I counted the tickets I hear the door open thinking it was the guy I let go just 30 minutes before.  The guy who I think is my friend grabs me.   He always likes to mess around so I thought nothing of it.  He then puts me in a kind of headlock but not brutal choke hold or anything so I tell him to quite messing around.  But at the same time I feel a cold piece of metal in my ear, and I knew exactly what it was—it wasn’t a joke.

Everything doesn’t seem to move in normal time when you’re scared for your life.  I had no idea what this guy wants or what he could and might do. Obviously he wanted money, but what’s he going to do to me? I had already dropped the money in the lock box of the safe which I can’t get into.  There is only 100 bucks in 1 dollar bills and change—would that be enough to tide him over  or is he going to shot me and my coworker regardless? I was promptly asked if anyone else was in the store and was told to take the gunman to the back of the store. He pretty much had the same look of disbelief I had when he stepped into the back. He was grabbed and thrown into the bathroom.  As I now see there are 2 people.  The guy that had me became violent and demanded I open the safe.  He assaults me with the pistol and repeatedly hits me. Safe to say it didn’t get worse than that but I was a bloody mess. I was gnashed on the forehead right on my hairline and had a huge knot on the top of my head but other than that I was fine.

Now I’m not going to say a firearm would have made a difference—the fact is that I didn’t have one and wasn’t aware of my surroundings.  You can best believe I won’t drop my guard like that ever again. Now by the law if I did have a firearm on me, pulled it, shot, and killed him I would have been in the right, clear as black and white no doubt about it.  I was in fear of someone else’s life—in this case, my coworker’s–I can’t read minds to know what gunmen are going to do.  In that instance, it’s his life or my life. I’d rather he couldn’t do this to another person, but people will take my story seriously because everything ended okay or wasn’t that bad or whatever BS line they like to throw out.  What if the next night he did the same thing again but something went wrong and he killed an innocent person? No one has the right to treat another person like that nor do I blame the gun for busting my head open.

What’s the difference between a privilege and a right? A privilege is permission granted by law, a right is something no one can take away. You have a right to eat and to live.   No one can take that away without just cause.  Your privilege would be anything that the government provides like allowing you to drive or allowing children the opportunity to attend school.  Your ability to live, protect, and better yourself isn’t a privilege.  There is a reason it’s called the Bill of Rights not the Bill of Privileges. I always hear the anti-gun side spout that the second amendment is dated and should be changed or amended. Well while we’re at it, free speech is dated, due process is dated, and freedom of the press is dated.

People usually go on the tangent that I hate school children or little kids or something along those lines because I’m for guns. That couldn’t be further from the truth. No lawful gun owner wants to see or hear of children getting killed.  It’s a deranged crazy person infringing on someone’s rights and not the majority of gun owners. Why does that person’s actions dictate what I can’t and can own. I don’t wish to ever have to use my firearm—it’s there as a tool for a situation I can’t contain. A heated argument with someone no, a violent argument where the person threatens me with a knife or some other weapon yes.  A gun is a tool to defuse the situation, and if that doesn’t stop them then lethal force.

A lot of people tend to feel uncomfortable for that reason—that a person with a gun has too much power.  As I was saying in my story of the robbery and assault, I wouldn’t be willing put myself in that position ever again. I’m not paranoid just cautious like a female choosing not to walk down a dark unlit alley—maybe 99.9% of the time nothing happens but why put yourself in that position.  This is also why I advocate females carry too. Anti-gunners tend to think people who own guns want to be vigilantes or it’s go wild west.  Well I’m not Charles Bronson and this isn’t a Clint Eastwood western.  This is real life and in real life some people commit violent crimes. Recent data estimates there are anywhere from 200 million to 300 million legally owned firearms in America (these are only estimates because the government isn’t allowed to know what I own) and the most recent data from the FBI in 2011 shows 8,583 homicides from firearms (legally and illegally obtained). I would think if gun owners were trigger happy that number would be significantly higher.

My second incident came a couple years later right after I turned 21.  I choose to purchase a full sized Magnum Research IMI Baby Eagle .45ACP (not a Desert Eagle but the same company made both firearms and Magnum Research being the distributor for the states wanted to capitalize on the name sake) because I worked 3rd shift at a gas station.  All the freaks come out from 10pm-7am.  I carried at work every night.  Now a paper I signed when I started stated I couldn’t and could be fired for doing so but it’s not against the law.  I legally had a concealed carry permit and confirmed this with the local police. On the plus side my boss was a good friend and I had pushed him into buying guns.   In fact, he taught me how to reload ammo so he didn’t care that I did but the area manager did.

When I was off the clock, I had a bad habit of occasionally carrying it—my second mistake I won’t ever do again. So I had started talking to a female friend who decided to get dinner with me one night, and I meet her at her place and rode in her car to local restaurant. I had decided before I left the house I wasn’t going to carry the pistol tonight out of convenience to me, and so I didn’t have to explain that one to her. We get to the restaurant order our food and the night goes pretty well.   As we are eating, 2 police officers I see on night shift stop in for dinner. I say hello because they come in every night I work, and they sit a few booths away.  So as we are sitting and talking, a random stranger decides to sit down next to my female friend, and I can clearly see she is mortified of him. He starts a conversation with her like I’m not even there, and I interject and ask him who he is and what he wants. He shoots me a glare and tried to intimidate me by saying he was her boyfriend which she shot down pretty quickly.  Turns out, he was her ex, and they broke up some time ago. I can see she is in discomfort and doesn’t want to be near this guy. I kindly ask him to leave. He bows up in a threatening gesture at me. I laugh and point out the 2 police officers sitting only 10-15 feet away from him. He walks off, but he shows up as we are leaving (I also made a comment to the police officers about his behavior).  I tell her let’s just leave thinking this is the end of this.  How wrong I was? We get back to her place and talk for a little while.  She apologizes for the incident and this guy shows up at her house with 3 of his friends yelling for her to come out and something about me. Well her father runs them off and asks me to leave.  I comply but I’m not the bad guy here.  So I leave for my house unknown to me, the lowlife had parked several streets down and saw me leave. He commenced to chase me in his car.  I like to modify cars so he wasn’t getting near my car—I probable had 3 times the horsepower and torque he did and my car was 1000 pounds lighter. So on comes another of those “what do I do?” moments in life.

I can’t stop because there are 4 guys in that car.  I have no idea what is going across their minds—maybe not murder but assault more than likely. Again I have the right to protect myself and trust me I was mad I didn’t bring the pistol. So I do the only logical thing and call the police.  I explain what’s going on and that I was stopping at my work and going inside.  Lucky for me my work wasn’t far from her house—maybe a couple of miles away. I stop and tell the other nightshift guy at the time what was going on and that I was waiting on the police. I had another lucky break as the 2 police officers who were eating earlier where the ones who got the call so they kind of knew the story. I fill them in on what happened after we left.  They ask me a few questions like his name and all.   I didn’t know, and they can tell I’m flustered, and I say out loud those guys were lucky I wasn’t carrying tonight. One of the police officers heard this and tried to lecture me like I was 10 years old.   I shot back that being chased by 4 guys in the situation gives me the right to protect myself. Now I have a close family friend who was a well-known police officer in town and avid gun owner.  He had a brutal run in with some robbers when he was carrying, and it’s the reason he was hired as a police officer.  I told him the story care to guess what he had to say: I would have been in the right. Again I’m not going to say a firearm would have made the situation better or worse but what would have happened if they showed up before the police officers got there, beat me half to death, and send me to the hospital? They were willing to go as far as they did, why not lethally far?

I don’t want to have to use any of my firearms ever, but it’s there if I do. It’s something you really have to think about if you decide to carry.  No one can make that choice for you but you.  If you want my opinion though why would you want to wound someone who wants to kill you or cause you harm?  Also, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The whole time I’ve been writing this article I’ve had one of my guns on me the whole time.  Care to guess what it did? Nothing.  It sat in the holster unassumingly ready if I needed it. My other gun sat in my room in its holster all day, and I’m absolutely positive it didn’t shot anyone either.

I’ve also had to explain to people that guns don’t just go off.  I get that one all the time from my stepmother.  I’ve sat her down and showed it to her—it can’t possible go off.  My gun that I don’t carry often has quite a few safeties on it—a slide lock that not only locks the slide from raking in a new round but prevents the trigger from being pulled; a beaver tail safety that can only be activated by holding the gun and depressing a switch to disengage the safety; and a hammer that has to cocked backed.  If you manage to do all that, then you were trying to shot the gun.

My everyday carry revolver doesn’t have as nearly as many safeties, but it does have a 10 pound pull on the trigger.   To put that in perspective, try picking up a 10 pound weight with one finger. That’s one of the great things about owning firearms—you can get them to your style and preference.  If you’re thinking about wanting to buy a gun, then there is nothing better than actually holding one in your hands—never buy a gun without at least holding it. When you do decide on one, please think about practicality.  The Desert Eagle looks cool, but do you want to carry around 10 pounds of gun on your waist, in a bag, or in a purse all day?  Of course not.  You would carry it—defeating the whole purpose of owning it. On the flip side, do you want a gun that might not be enough to stop someone like a little .22? Yeah it’s small and concealable, but is it effective? After you choose the caliber, you also need to take in account magazine size: is 13 rounds of 9mm enough? What about 10 .40 S&W? I’ll stick to my 8 rounds of .45ACP and a backup magazine.

Do you like guns? Against them altogether? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

> on April 8, 2013 in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies

With Back-to-School season quickly on the horizon, shoppers all over America will soon reach maximum panic mode.  As hard as it is to believe, the vast majority of parents forget that their children start school every year in August (or September).  Obviously, I’m being exaggeratory.  However, many parents swear school shopping is an emergency and that they must use their “only for emergencies” credit card to get them through this unexpected situation.  Because I generally hate shenanigans, it is time for another great list—Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies:

(1) School Shopping | While we are on the subject of school shopping, let’s park here a bit.  If something happens at the exact same time every single year, then it is not an emergency.  Emergencies by definition are unexpected, catastrophic, and costly.  College-ruled paper obviously does not fit this definition.

(2) Christmas Shopping & Other Gift Shopping | Christmas shopping and birthday shopping are in the same category as school shopping. These occasions happen at the exact same time every year but catch people by surprise way too often.  Even gifts for weddings and baby showers aren’t unexpected—unless you weren’t invited :-/

(3) Automobile Maintenance & Repairs | Not only are oil changes not surprises but there is usually a reminder sticker in your windshield telling you to change your oil after a given mileage or given date.  Other automobile repairs are a bit trickier but not exactly rocket science.  Tires eventually wear out.  So budget a little bit for a new tires every month until you need new tires.  Please use this same strategy for car batteries, brake pads, etc.  If your transmission goes out, then yes, that is an emergency.  Act appropriately.

(4) Brand New Minivan & Other Bad Car Choices | College students (usually with student loan debt) graduate from school and suddenly “need” a new car.  New parents (with student loan debt and maybe new debt now) suddenly “need” a new minivan because their paid-for sedan is too small and uncomfortable for their 8 pound baby.  Automobile purchases are a lot cheaper if you save up ahead of time and buy smart.  I know this.  You know this.  Yet, financing always seems to happen.

(5) Home Renovations | This tends to get the baby boomers more so than millennials, but it affects everyone.  You have a reached some sense of unhappiness and all of a sudden, your kitchen or bathroom just isn’t good enough anymore.  All of a sudden, getting a $50,000 home equity line of credit (HELOC) seems like the smartest thing ever.  It isn’t.

Can you name any faux emergencies that I didn’t mention?

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Never Leave Kids an Inheritance

Please let me clarify before you start calling me a cold-hearted jerk.  As long as children are still dependents, then I believe parents should do everything in their power to perpetually provide for their spouse and children from the grave—hefty term life insurance and thoughtful savings invested into a good mutual fund (an endowment per se).  Whether the children are 2 years old or 17 years old, that is my firm stance.

However! The average age of death is roughly 75 years old, and parents are typically 20-30 years older than their descendants.  So in this example, the “children” are between 45 to 55 years old.  Suffice it to say, it is fairly disingenuous to call someone who might have grandchildren a “child.”  For that very reason, I wouldn’t give my children anything if I make it into my twilight years.

Yep, I would leave my “children” absolutely nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Natta.  Zero.

But what are a few reasons why I would do this?

(1) Proverbs 22:6 | “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  As a result, I do not worry about my future adult children.  I trust them to do well (better than well) because that is what Baxters do—pray hard, love hard, and work hard.  Because of early guidance and early monetary investment, our children will be far more successful than we could have ever imagined them to be.

(2) Actual Children | The amount of actual young children, orphans especially, who could benefit from the death of an old geezer is almost endless.

(3) Other Elderly People | There are so many widows, widowers, and otherwise disabled elderly who could really use a leg-up from a person who knows (or knew) exactly how they feel.

(4) Worthwhile Charities | Do you know who usually leaves big gobs of money for shelters that take care of battered women? Usually old dead people.  What about animal shelters? Again, old dead people. How about full ride academic scholarships? Once again, old dead people.  With all that good going around, why wouldn’t I want to be an awesome dead person too?

What about you? In an ideal world, would you give all your money to your kids?

Retirement

PS: All of this assumes that I do not have a successful business that my children could potentially become owners of one day. In that case, a succession plan is necessary so that that transition is a smooth one and not a train wreck.  However, since successful businesses are statistically improbable, I am assuming I just have a regular job that I have retired from.

Which In-Laws Should You Live Closest To?

This was a big hump to get over when my wife and I were engaged and getting married.  And I’m sure this discussion has caused a lot of heartburn for other couples as well—new relationships or old reliables.  Although you are not extrinsically valuing one set of in-laws over the other (or one spouse’s career over the other), intrinsically it tends to feel that way during the heat of battle… I mean… discussion.  But maybe this decision can get easier!

A few years ago, National Institutes of Health performed a 26-year longitudinal study that showed when a husband reported having a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce decreased by 20%.  Conversely, when a wife reported having a close relationship with her husband’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce increased by 20%.

I’m not a marriage expert by any means, but if I wanted to statistically safeguard a friend’s marriage, I would automatically tell him to submit and figure out a way to live near his wife’s parents.  There is a lot of benefit from a husband modeling what humbleness and submission looks like.

This will not solve all your marriage problems (you’ll have plenty).  But maybe it will help a little.

Do you agree? Should you live near your wife’s parents as a rule of thumb?

In-Laws

Unhappy People Shouldn’t Buy Houses

As you may know, I’m a big proponent of mobility—especially when we are young and ESPECIALLY if we are unhappy or unsatisfied with where we currently are.  So if you hate the current city that you live in or if you despise the current job that you have, then please DO NOT buy a house!  And do not over-leverage yourself (e.g. getting in too much debt)!

Nothing is more gut-wrenching than being stuck in a house that we really didn’t want… in a city that we really don’t like… in a job that we really want to quit!

If you are unhappy, please keep your options open—you never know what lies around the corner!

For instance, many companies do not offer relocation packages.  So even if you are perfect for a new job, if you’re upside down in a house 300 miles away from the dream job, then you’re pretty much STUCK where you are!

Likewise, if you’re deep in debt, you’re also STUCK.  How many times have you admired a great city, but your expectant income in that city is much lower than what you’re used to in the current city that you hate? Sallie Mae and Master Card are keeping you from living in your dream city, and that is shame!

What are some ways that you have kept your OPTIONS OPEN? #becomingyourtrueself

Mover Rates 2013

8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better

In wake of the Georgia Toddler Carseat trial, there have been millions of people coming out of the woodwork as perfect human beings similar to Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, and USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard.  But as someone who recognizes his own fallibility, I wanted to help bring reality back into the forefront.  So without further ado, here is the 8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better.

1. Not Buckling Themselves or Their Children – Sure I could easily start a debate on the misguided love of rushing to put a baby into a forward-facing carseat, but I wanted to focus on something even more mind-blowingly crazy.

  • According to the CDC, 33% of children who died in a crash in 2011 were NOT BUCKLED UP at all! But I cannot blame the children…
  • Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.

2. Driving While InTEXTicated – Did you know that texting while driving makes crashes 23 times more likely than if you were driving undistracted? But did you also know this?

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.  And 55% say that it is easy to text while driving.  But they come by it honest…
  • 48% of CHILDREN have been in a car while the ADULT DRIVER WAS TEXTING.

3. Self-Inflicted Workplace Accidents – Research shows that over 99% of all accidents are preventable.  Most accidents are because of hubris, impatience, and negligence.  I could not sum it better than this quote from Brad Miles:

  • “We don’t work in a dangerous environment. We work in a hazardous environment that we make dangerous by not following safe work procedures and wearing our PPE.”

4. Pre-marital Sex,  STIs, and Pregnancy – It is no secret that pre-marital sex is the overwhelming cause for sharing harmful Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.  It is also the leading cause of out-of-wedlock pregnancies (“virgin births” is the other cause).

  • According to the CDC, there are 20 MILLION new cases of STIs in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 BILLION in unnecessary preventable direct medical costs.  But we cannot blame this on current young adults, they come by it honest…
  • Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91% had had premarital sex by age 30.  Currently, 95% of men and women have had pre-marital sex by age 30.  This isn’t surprising as the median age of first marriage has risen to approximately 30 years old.
  • CDC data indicates that 40.7% of all 2012 births were out-of-wedlock.  This prevalency is much higher in people groups that are struggling economically, educationally, and criminally.  Common knowledge also says these unwanted pregnancies lead to abo…

5. Illegal Drug Use  – Almost 10% of individuals 12 years old or older are using illegal drugs (CDC 2012).  This is done despite the high health risks and despite the lowered chances of receiving/maintaining employment.

6. Consumer Debt “Playing with Fire” – The majority of Americans are weighed down by consumer debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc).  Yet laughably, people will walk right into a lion’s den and believe they can outsmart the world-class businesses  and lending institutions trained to prey on consumers.  For example, you WILL spend more if you use credit cards.  Businesses know this.  As a result, even by paying the debt bills on time, you ARE NOT beating the system!  The system is beating you!

7.  Ignoring Infant Sleep Safety – Despite the existence of compelling research and statistics about the importance of safe sleep in reducing our nation’s high rate of infant mortality, the number of babies who die in adult beds and other unsafe sleep environments is on the rise.

  • There are 4500 sudden, unexpected infant deaths each year.  Statistics show that as many as 80-90% are the result of unsafe sleep practices. These are preventable deaths.
  • For example, bumpers pads and pillows should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that these extra items prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

8.  Dropping Out of High School – Dropping out of high school is a choice.  A choice that anyone with half a brain knows is negative and dangerous.  Want proof? In the United States, high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes.  Using deductive reasoning, you can probably guess that this means that the majority of men and women actually in prison are high school dropouts too.  But these aren’t the only bad things…

  • A high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime.
  • The death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of education.

What do you think? Can you name other boneheaded acts that could be added to this list?

Safety

Ditch Your Honeymoon?

Recently, College Humor made an hilarious video about the mythical tradition of engagement rings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5kWu1ifBGU).  Similarly, since this is the height wedding season, I wanted to focus on the necessity of honeymoons.

As the median student loan balance for a recent graduate approaches $30,000, it really does make you wonder if newly married couples can even afford to go on an expensive honeymoon.  Although weddings are very expensive as well, parents on average still do take on a vast load of that monetary workload; however, the honeymoon is usually left up to the couple (usually the groom).

Given the large student loan debt (or other accrued debts like car loans), should couples still go on expensive honeymoons right after they get married?  Or should there be a grace period for the honeymoon?

And if you are married, what did you do in this situation?

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