An Iraq war veteran posted this editorial/opinion piece in the Wausau Daily Herald last week. My response follows.
"I am an American citizen, a college graduate, an Iraq War veteran, a brother, a friend, a role model and very soon I will be an uncle. For each of these people that I am, there is always one constant: I carry a firearm, concealed or open, legally, for the protection of myself, my family and my friends."
He went on to describe an incident at a Pick 'n Save grocery store in a small Wisconsin town. He entered that store in late January, without a jacket appropriate for the weather, wearing just a short sleeve shirt, pants and a cap, his .45 caliber semiautomatic clearly visible in a hip holster.
A store manager asked him to cover the weapon, stating that customers were becoming uneasy at the sight of it. Dressed as he was, the armed man was not able to comply, and apparently not willing to ask his friend for a jacket to drape over the sidearm, and the store manager asked him to leave.
Quoting from the opinion piece:
"My friend exited the store sometime later, and the manager walked back inside. She and I went to the car and went home. The cold had numbed my arms and severely restricted the movement of my hands and fingers. If I had needed to draw my weapon in the Pick 'N Save parking lot, I would have been unsuccessful.
I believe I should not be demonized for carrying my personal firearm for personal protection. I have spent time overseas carrying firearms every day, but when I come home, it's as if I'm suddenly no longer qualified to use the very tools I've been using in a combat zone. That does not sit right at all. In fact, it has only made me more determined to familiarize myself with state laws and company policies, so that I will be prepared to confront those who would violate my Second Amendment rights."
You have presented your credentials. I
present mine. I too am an American. I am a husband, a father, a son,
an uncle, a college graduate, the son of a veteran. Perhaps I, too,
have served as a role model. And I am old enough to be your father.
My father owned many different types of
firearms and taught my brother and I the awesome responsibility that
comes with owning, carrying and brandishing firearms. I have owned
many firearms over the years, in almost every caliber manufactured.
You were brave enough to submit your
grievance to what, in this nation, is called the marketplace of
ideas. Your claims will be scrutinized for truth and honesty. But
true courage compels you to hear what your fellow Americans have to
say on the matter, and to weigh their thoughts carefully, completely,
over time. Even more than that, you also have to be willing to grow,
to evolve, to change your mind even.
I grew up among relatives who were very
comfortable around firearms. Some of my cousins are veterans, among
them one who served in Vietnam. They have served in the Army, the Air
Force and the Marines. My father-in-law is a Navy veteran. My father
is an Army veteran. But my relatives and I differ in our worldview,
in several profound ways, from the one you present in your editorial.
Although we could carry sidearms in the
public commons, we do not. And we do not because our "right" to
do so, a right that is not nearly so clear as Second Amendment
fanatics want it to seem, takes a back seat to our responsibility for
the land we love, and its citizens, all of them. We do not engage in
tribal thinking, we do not draw a line in the sand between our
families and friends and anyone supposedly put on the other side of
that imaginary line.
We are our brothers' keepers.