Ever since earning my Rife Shooting Merit Badge at Boy Scout Camp, I've enjoyed trips to the gun range. Over the years, I've considered getting a concealed permit, but haven't ever gotten around to it. On one the forums I follow, the book The Concealed Handgun Manual by Chris Bird was recommended to an individual looking to learn about the topic. Sure enough, our library had it in circulation so I was able to rent it.
The book opens with a whopping 132 pages of pro-gun advocacy. Some of the arguments presented make a lot of sense, and some practically made me gag (because so many people are on welfare, they've lost the will to defend themselves. Uh, yeah, right). I had to flat out skip the section on TSA, as I couldn't stomach hearing many of the standard talking points again.
And then on page 133 the book flips. It gets into the nuts and bolts of concealed carry; covering topics from choosing a handgun to different drills you should be practicing at the range. This section of the book definitely delivers. While it's no substitute for an extensive class, it opened my eyes up to techniques and ideas I'd never thought about before. The section on what happens after a shooting was perhaps most enlightening, as it's the ramifications of a shooting that I've probably thought least about.
Perhaps the biggest take-away I had from the book was the juxtaposition between two pro-gun stances. You've got The Advocate, which makes his argument in the first 132 pages, and you've got The Realist who speaks for the rest of the book (until the last chapter when The Advocate makes an appearance again.).
To The Advocate, every gun law serves the same purposes: to disarm the American people. To The Realist, laws requiring extensive training (including non-gun topics like hostage negotiation) and ideas such as Gun Insurance are of real value.
To The Advocate, people choose not to fight back with a gun because they are brain washed by the government or liberal polices. To The Realist, pulling a gun should be the last option, and avoiding a fight is considered most ideal.
To The Advocate, all within-the-law shootings are righteous. To The Realist, it's not so simple. Shootings frequently happen under times of intense stress when decision making skills are at their least effective. And it's these decisions that one has to live with for the rest of their lives.
To The Advocate, the concealed carry holder is a hero in waiting, ready to swoop in and save the day. To The Realist, this notion of jumping into other people's fights is an awful idea. As the author states, that scruffy looking man running down the street carrying a gun may be a bad guy, or he may be an undercover copy chasing the bad guy.
To The Advocate, there's no excuse, other than laziness or mental-weakness for not carrying a firearm. To The Realist, there are personality types that simply don't make themselves a good fit for concealed carry.
In short, I read the advocacy section of the book and couldn't help but have the urge to run out and buy a gun. After reading the functional part of the book, I'm not so sure. With great power comes great responsibility, and handgun offers both of these things.
I understand there's a time and place for the simplistic view of The Advocate. Though, I wish when it came to matters of policy, the loudest voice was that the of The Realist.