An incident near Detroit in October of last year reminds those of us who exercise our right to carry firearms of the complexities of that choice. Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez witnessed a shoplifting at Home Depot and drew her concealed handgun in an attempt to aid the store’s security by shooting at the tires of the getaway vehicle. On the 11th of December, she was sentenced to eighteen months of probation and the loss of her carry license as a result of her reckless use of a firearm. Her response to all of this is that she will never try to help anyone again.
To that, I give a sigh of relief. If she had been searching for an opportunity to bring discredit on carry license holders, she could only have accomplished that goal more if she had injured or killed a bystander. While no one’s life was in danger and Duva-Rodriguez was not an employee of the store, she chose to use potentially lethal force without anyone asking or needing her to do so.
Her action fortunately only brought harm on herself, but it feeds into the attitude illustrated by the Violence Policy Center’s “Concealed Carry Killers,” the attitude that the twelve million of us who carry legally are a “direct threat to public safety.”
There is another problem, though, that this incident brings up. People who demand greater gun control present us with a dilemma regarding the carrying of firearms: If we don’t get involved, we’re called cowardly or selfish; if we do get involved, we’re called vigilantes. We’re either the reincarnation of Ayn Rand or George Zimmerman clones. As with much of the gun control argument, this is actually a logical fallacy—namely that of the false dichotomy.
Of course, if I must choose between the two—selfishness and vigilantism—I’ll choose the former. And so will most people, since protection of one’s own person is an instinct deeper than any philosophical justifications we layer on top of our actions. But labeling this instinct as selfishness strikes me as erroneous thinking. If I am to do good for other people, I first have to take care of myself. The instruction of airline employees that in case of emergency, you should put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else is an example of this. I also have to develop my own skills and resources if I’m to offer any value to the world. And when it comes to my own needs, who is better able to assess those than I am?
This applies to questions of self-defense as well, and that goes to the point of vigilantism. My ability to recognize that someone is trying to kill me is naturally going to be greater than my ability to understand what is going on in an interaction between two other persons—especially if they’re not known to me.
What gun control advocates are trying to do with the dilemma they present is to goad us into silly actions. Someone walking around with a firearm while not harming an innocent person is a continual challenge to their narrative. We aren’t obliged to accept their attempts to drag us into their framing of the subject of guns and gun rights. And the acts of someone like Duva-Rodriguez do more damage than would be created by our having done nothing at all. We’re told that we don’t stop mass shootings or other criminal assaults, even though that’s false, but doing nothing is better than doing something bad.
The point here is that we are responsible for our own actions and are not required to do what other people want to push us into doing. If we take care of making each action something we can defend without embarrassment, there will be much less force to attacks on us for what we chose not to do.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.