Americans taking personal protection more seriously than ever

Terrorist attacks spark renewed interest in carrying handguns

The debate over legislative control of guns continues to rage. This summer, the National Rifle Association, the NRA, pulled its 2007 convention out of Columbus, Ohio, after that city passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale or possession of semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips and detachable magazines. The city is the first major city to pass such a ban after similar federal legislation expired last fall. According to the NRA, the ban is unnecessary and ineffective.

Columbus city officials complain that the NRA knew they were considering the ban and chose the city as a host site for their convention simply to make a point. The point being that many Americans want guns for recreation and safety, and such legislation can be too limiting and even unconstitutional.

Indeed, according to at least one weapons expert, Americans are feeling the need for gun ownership to protect themselves like never before. This trend started with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “For decades, Americans have been brainwashed into taking a passive role in their own survival,” says Chris Bird, a journalist and handgun expert. “On Sept. 11th, we learned that the government and the professionals could not protect us.”

Bird is so convinced of the need for people to take their protection seriously that he wrote a book titled, The Concealed Handgun Manual: How to Choose, Carry, and Shoot a Gun in Self-defense. Bird was a commissioned officer in the Royal Military Police of the British Army in the 1960s, where he served as company weapon-training officer. Since then, he has moved to the U.S. and has taken an active role in educating others about the safe and wise use of weapons.

His book provides current or prospective gun-owners with insight about owning and using a handgun. With so many people interested in owning and carrying a concealed weapon, there is a need for definitive information for prospective gun owners. In fact, 46 states allow people to carry a concealed handgun, and it is estimated that there are more than 3.3 million people who have licenses to carry concealed handguns.

Bird cites numerous cases where people were able to protect themselves because they carried a handgun—cases where they would not have survived had they not been “packing.” Bird says handguns may be a smart choice for all kinds of people, especially women. “Some of the people most at-risk of becoming victims of violence are women who are being stalked,” says Bird. “They do not need to be told that the police cannot protect them—they know.” Bird explains how to carry and conceal a handgun, when and how to use it, and the implications of using it.

Like many in the “pro-gun” community, Bird says he doesn’t necessarily want everyone to run out and buy a handgun. But he says law-abiding citizens need to realize their own safety is largely up to them. Taking the responsibility, he believes, is an important part of being an American.

The NRA agrees. Commenting on the NRA pull-out of Columbus, NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre implied that gun ownership is very American when he said, “When freedom comes back to Columbus, we will come back to Columbus.”

From the Feb. 8-15, 2006, issue

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