As a gun enthusiast, I belong to several online communities serving the firearm and defensive carry community. Much to the chagrin of groups like Moms Demand Action and Any Town, by and large, these groups are populated by normal, quiet, America-loving patriots who want nothing more than to live their life in peace. They carry a gun for the same reason we wear seatbelts – just in case. They’re not hoping to get into an accident, rather, just the opposite: they’re praying that they don’t. Likewise, when they holster their firearms before leaving the house, they’re not itching to use it. They’re hoping they don’t have to.
Much like they can’t account for the other drivers on the road, necessitating taking safety precautions they hope they never have to use, we can’t account for bad guys that victimize people every day throughout the world. So we take precautions.
Now, AnyTownMomsDemandActionBradyCampaignEtc would have you believe that we, the armed, law-abiding citizens, are out just looking for trouble. Walking around, mad-dogging people in the hopes that they “go ahead, make our day.” This assertion is as ridiculous (and offensive, as much as I hate the term) as saying that mothers who strap their kids into car seats and then put their own seatbelts on before pulling out of the driveway want to get into an accident and start a demolition derby on the highway. Silly right?
But I digress…
One particular Facebook group to which I belong seems to be an outlier to this and it bothers me. The participants seem (mostly) young and fairly inexperienced when it comes to shooting and carrying a firearm. This group is filled, daily, with the participants posting pictures of their guns in posed shoots, such as laying across one’s thigh as he drives around town, or carefully and artistically laying 2-3 guns on their nightstand with a bible in the background. They obsessively modify (or “bling”) their guns: polishing barrels and other matte parts to a chrome-like finish, painting the embossed maker’s logo and model identifier in bright, slime-green colors, showing off their “Molon Labe” or skull-and-crossbones floor plates they’ve installed in their magazines, install trigger modification kits, new springs, polished sears, etc. All on their daily carry guns.
Maybe I’m just becoming an old foggie here but why in the hell would you do that?
Think, just for a second, about it. This is a gun that you’re carrying, ostensibly for self defense, in public. Where – God forbid – you may have to use it. If you use it, the gun will be seized and used as evidence. The prosecution will have that gun examined by experts who will meticulously categorize every single modification you’ve made to the gun and will use it against you in a court of law with carefully crafted arguments that you’re a vigilante, a wannabe cop, a fanatical gun nut just looking for an opportunity to use his heavily modified gun to murder this nice young boy, complete with pictures of the aforementioned nice young boy in his junior high football uniform.
The picture they paint for the jury, using your own gun, will be that you purposely modified a gun to make it more lethal. And the jury, carefully selected by that same prosecutor and, therefore, full of people who don’t like guns or people who own guns, might believe him. You’ve just made the state’s case against you easier. And for what? A half-pound lighter trigger or a barrel that looks like the spinning rims on a low-rider?
You: “But the gun shoots better.”
Me: “If you want to shoot better, practice more.”
Most modern firearms are much more accurate than their operators are. Instead of spending 16 hours polishing you barrel, spend 3 at the range. You owe it to the people you’ll be around with that gun on your hip.
The gun you carry shouldn’t be modified in any way. It should be stock – the way the manufacturer intended. If you’re so obsessed with guns that you can’t help yourself and have to keep messing with it, posing for pictures with it, touching it incessantly… well, maybe you should figure out what your deal is. Maybe you shouldn’t be carrying. Like I always tell my students: “The people who put on a gun to feel like a badass aren’t the people who should be putting on a gun.” After safety lessons, the most important thing I try to get my students to remember is that the last thing they should ever want to do is shoot someone. Just like the last thing you should want to happen while you’re driving is be kept from flying through the windshield by your seat belt.
Turning a tool that you hope you never have to use into a piece of lethal jewelry is stupid. It’s the equivalent of wearing a shirt that says “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.” I get it. You want to be able to defend yourself.
I get it.
A jury might not. And you’d best believe that a prosecutor is going to find that picture of you in your “Cold Dead Hands” shirt and all those pictures of you obsessively handling your guns.
Be smart. Be safe.