Meet an Average Concealed Pistol License Holder

Tim Cooper, Family 1st Defense

I am pro-2nd Amendment, own guns and, yes, I have concealed a pistol license (CPL). Due to the stereotypes casually tossed around by certain politicians and members of the media, some try to peg me as a fringe element, overzealous religious fanatic, who might be planning the next sensational mass shooting. Of course, that is not true and you are probably not that judgmental. Still, you may have a few of misconceptions about the average CPL holder.

It’s my belief that the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was not to protect hunters’ rights or give the government the right to create the National Guard. It was intended to give individual, law-abiding citizens like you and me the right to own and carry firearms for self-defense. As an American, I take great pride in knowing the 2nd Amendment does not discriminate — it extends to all citizens regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. By the same token, I understand guns aren’t for everyone and respect the wishes of those who choose not to own and carry them.

As an average CPL holder, I am responsible and respect our laws, including those governing firearms. Did you know citizens who legally carry concealed in Michigan are required to register there fingerprints and handgun serial numbers with law enforcement? That’s right — I voluntarily give the police advance notice that I own and carry firearms, which makes it quite difficult for me to get away with a gun crime (or any crime at all for that matter). This fact helps explain the results of one recent study, published by the Crime Prevention Research Center. It found that, as a group, CPL holders have been convicted of 83% fewer of crimes than even police officers – in other words, we are among the most law-abiding people in the country.

I own multiple firearms, not as a “wannabe” cop or soldier but as an educated individual who recognizes different guns have different applications — hunting, home defense, and concealed carry to name a few. These weapons do not grant me special powers. They are simply last resort options, available to protect me and the ones I love. Carrying a gun is not a paranoid response to social issues. It’s a recognition that evil exists in this world. A CPL holder refuses to be a victim.

Some say a gun on my waist makes me dangerous but I pose a threat to no one. Safety is my top priority. I’m the prepared guy who drives around with a battery booster, flashlight, and tow straps in my truck, ready to help if you’re stranded. I lock-up my firearms to keep them away from children and criminals, and regularly train at local shooting ranges to pound safe gun handling habits into muscle memory. As an average CPL holder, I follow a code of conduct that encourages the mentorship of new gun owners to make them safe and responsible too.

But here is what you really need to know about me: In most ways, I’m just like you. I love my family, go to work every day, own a business in the local community, and stand behind you at the convenience store waiting to pay. By the way, that guy who just entered the store owns a gun too and stuffed it down his pants before getting out of his car. He’s looking for some quick cash to support his drug habit and doesn’t care who he hurts to get it. When one of us can finally make the 911 call, the police will be at least 4½ minutes away ….

Pleased to meet you. I’m an average CPL holder, joining millions of others across the United States who are men and women, Republicans and Democrats, members of every race and religion, LGBTQ and straight. Until you can guarantee me the bad guys aren’t carrying guns, I just feel safer having my own. You are welcome to disagree with my beliefs, but please refrain from lumping me in with the perpetrators of violent crime. I’m on your side.

School Shootings — Cutting Through the Noise

Family 1st Defense

It’s time for all of us to quit looking at school gun violence through a political prism. Many of you are old enough to remember that we used to be able to talk about difficult issues in this country without going off the rails in a rage. Let’s turn off the TV, close the Facebook app, and engage in a thoughtful, intellectually honest discussion about how to make changes that do not depend upon the political parties controlling Congress and the White House.

While the watch the predictable media circus that follows every school shooting, it’s important to remember that most of us — regardless of where we stand on guns — want the same thing. We want our kids and grandkids to be safe at school. Sadly, this common thread gets lost in the popular media which is really more concerned about ratings than solving problems. So where do we go from here?

Any meaningful dialogue on this topic needs start with the recognition that our local law enforcement personnel, as good as they are, cannot be everywhere at the precise moment they are needed. In fact, statistics reveal the national average emergency response time is 4-1/2 minutes – and that’s just to arrive on the scene. These statistics do not consider the minutes and seconds it takes for someone in the middle of the chaos to call 911; nor do they consider the time it takes the police to assess the situation and neutralize the threat. My point is, 4-1/2 minutes plus X and Y is plenty of time to hurt and kill a lot of people, whether the weapon of choice is an AR-15, shotgun, pistol, knife or a baseball bat.

Next, it’s important to recognize that all school shootings have one big thing in common – they take place in “gun free zones.” It should be obvious by now that our schools are certainly not gun-free. But why should they be? Seriously, what have we actually done to ensure schools are truly gun-free? We’ve posted signs outside the buildings that merely make a declaration. In reality, the signs are welcome mats for evil people who want to turn schools into hunting grounds, making our children the prey. Why? Because these individuals know they are more likely to be unopposed in a gun-free zone. Give an attacker 4-1/2 minutes plus a guarantee there will be no armed opposition, and well … you see where we are going here.

Most school systems, including Portage and Kalamazoo, have embraced emergency response training programs that teach students and faculty to escape, barricade and fight, in that order. That’s all well and good, but that is not a plan for preventing violence in the first place. If our federal, state, and local officials want to keep schools gun-free, it’s on these entities to make it so. Our airports, stadiums, and government buildings are declared gun-free, but these locations are protected by security personnel. We accept this, and even come to expect it. Most of us feel safer knowing trained professionals have our backs. It is therefore puzzling that, in the age of terrorism, armed security at our schools is so controversial. Just like our volunteer firefighters offer their time to enter burning buildings to save our neighbors, we have an endless supply of highly trained military veterans and retired police offers who would proudly answer the call to protect our kids at school. If teachers are willing to complete special firearms training and submit to fingerprinting like CPL holders, let’s consider them too.

That said, most reasonable people on the pro-gun side could be talked into setting the armed security debate aside for now because there are so many other preventative measures our schools can and should be adopting. How many of our schools in suburban and rural areas routinely use metal detectors to monitor students and visitors as they arrive? How many use video surveillance and actually monitor cameras in real-time? How many have hired professionals to perform threat assessments and followed their recommendations to harden security? Inner city schools, by sheer necessity, are doing these things; and mass shootings are not taking place inside those buildings.

Hanging our hopes on signs posted outside schools and expecting criminally insane people to comply is simply absurd. It’s time we take deliberate and meaningful steps to truly protect and defend our kids. School administrators, police chiefs, mayors, legislators, governors and, President Trump, we have a message for you: We’ve seen something. We’ve said something. It’s now time for you to do something.