I used to say that if a criminal ever decided to pick on me at any given moment, he had a 50/50 shot of running into an armed victim. That was because I had not yet made the decision to carry my firearm with me everywhere I went, every single day.
Years earlier, and fresh out of college, I had purchased a handgun for self-defense after realizing that my first real job required me to spend time in seedy industrial areas of big, unfamiliar cities and towns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. That was back in the mid-eighties, before the landmark 1987 Florida legislation that launched the modern-day CCW movement. Back in those days we never even gave a permit a thought. I did not know anything about a permit, only that I had a Second Amendment right to own and carry a gun.
Young and just getting started in the real world, I bought what I could afford at the time—a small Raven Arms .25 caliber pistol. I carried that gun with me to work, keeping it in my overcoat pocket, my briefcase, or my pants pocket whenever I exited my vehicle on a sales call.
I eventually upgraded my firepower and obtained a Florida CCW upon relocating to the Sunshine State in 1992. I began seeking knowledge and professional training but still had not made the decision to holster my firearm everywhere I went, although I lived in a pretty bad area of Tampa at the time.
I resided in a neighborhood known as “Suitcase City,” named after the transient nature of the community and its low-income citizens and housing. The glut of cheap, overbuilt apartments near the University of South Florida campus (including my complex) attracted drugs and crime. I look back now and shake my head. What was it going to take for me to decide to carry my gun every day? The answer would come to me a few short years later.
The date was November 18, 2002. I had been married for two years and was living in a beautiful new subdivision in a better part of town. As I got ready to step out the door to begin my work day—around 6 AM—I decided to take my gun with me. I will never know what made me carry my gun that particular morning but the decision to do so changed my life, and many other lives, forever. And that is because on that day, two individuals in an SUV stopped traffic at an intersection and attempted to gain entry into a car directly off my front left bumper. Unable to do so and with time running out, one of the two attackers then turned his attention towards me. He was unaware that I had unholstered my Glock handgun and was preparing to unleash its firepower in his direction if he took one more step.
He then took that step. I responded by raising my arms, gun in hand, and leveling the muzzle directly at his head and chest over the steering wheel—my finger was on the trigger. I made the instant decision that I was going home that day, at the expense of he and his partner, if necessary. Faced with an inevitable and violent response to their actions, both men retreated to the relative safety of their vehicle and fled the scene.
What does the Second Amendment mean to me? It means my then two-week-old daughter—who is now 14—still has a father to mentor her, teach her, and protect her. It says my son would be born two short years later and enjoy his father attending his basketball games, teaching him how to water-ski and being there for him as he grows into a young man. And it means my young wife did not wind up a widow in her thirties. In short, it means my family survived.
The Second Amendment means I carry a firearm with me everywhere I go and I will be dependent on no man or government for my protection should evil make the mistake of visiting me again. The Second Amendment means that I am alive today to dedicate the rest of my life to fighting for your right to do the same.
In the meantime carry on, carry often, carry absolutely everywhere. Never leave your cave without your club.
Mark Walters is the host of Armed American Radio and a guest columnist for “Bullet Points with AWR Hawkins.”