Right now I am in the far northern part of the island of Manhattan, hanging out with my son who lives here. I flew out of Denver last week, leaving my M&P Shield 9mm in the car to be stowed at home until I return. Although the state of Colorado has deemed it good that I be licensed for concealed carry, the state of New York feels otherwise. Even so, being an honorably discharged veteran who was trained and encouraged to be proficient with weapons of many kinds for eight years of active duty, I am considered by New York to be somehow not capable of carrying a firearm responsibly while in that state.
Anyone who has walked the streets in the Big Apple, especially later at night just trying to get from here to there, or rides the subway, knows how it feels to be unarmed in the midst of what can be charitably called "sketchy people". Uneasy is not quite the right word. Especially if one is a so-called senior citizen, which I happen to be. Large, strong dudes who might be more than happy, given the right set of circumstances, to relieve you of your valuables, can pretty much have their way considering the fact that New York's Finest are seldom seen in certain neighborhoods. Like the rats scuttling through Central Park near the Natural History Museum (a very cool place, by the way) the feeling of vulnerability is constantly with you as you walk the streets of New York.
I think this partly stems from the attitudes I saw last night. We are in midtown Manhattan, after seven p.m., walking through the mobbed sidewalks, dodging people who are headed straight for you, with their earphones firmly plugged in, or perhaps scrolling their smart phones for directions or the subway map, maybe thumbing a text to a friend all the while dodging quickly around the EMTs wheeling a victim out of a store into the ambulance double parked in the street. They are uncaring, unconcerned with the human drama unfolding around them, intent on their own purposes, unconcerned with and unconnected to the humans around them — that is a key to understanding how oblivious and uncaring those who live like this can become. Be ready to protect myself or other innocents from possible and intentional harm? Not me, brother. It is everyone for themselves and count me out if I have to get involved on your behalf.
Is this harsh? Yes. Is it true? Probably more so than I would like to believe.
Would the police like to be in a situation in which things have gone irretrievably bad, weapons are drawn and the bad guys, the cops and the honest civilians are armed? No. But, what about the much more likely scenario in which the cops aren't there (they really can't be everywhere, nor should they be required to be) and it is just the bad guys with the guns, knives, baseball bags, chains, tire irons or muscles and the college student on the way home for the day, or the grandmother who has spent part of her social security check at the grocery store who runs afoul of neighborhood thugs looking for drug money?
Why anyone thinks that an honest, law-abiding citizen should be prohibited from carrying a gun for self defense while criminals and crazies are illegally armed is frankly beyond me. Probably the same people who think that having armed forces to protect our country and freedoms is fine unless one of them gets hurt or killed in the process.
A very ignorant person once said to me, after seeing me in my uniform after I had carried a flag with our home town color guard, "Freedom is free". He went on to say that wars and armed forces weren't necessary. I pointed out that because many men and women had worn the uniform and put their lives on the line in order that he have the freedom to utter such crap, that freedom is brought at a price. The same must be said about our individual freedoms.
There is no clear answer to evil and violence. These have been with us as long as we have been able to recount them in song and story. To wish them away by telling honest, good people that they can not have the rights and means to protect themselves and other innocents from evil and violence is certainly wrong, short sighted and certainly immoral.