Last night, the DigiHusband and I attended the first 4 hours of an 8-hour class that will permit us to obtain carry permits in Tennessee. I admit, when asked why I wanted to obtain the permit, after everyone else said, "Safety," or "Self-defense," I answered "To make my friends and neighbors back in California jealous." Smart ass.
Mind you, Tennessee technically does not have a "concealed weapon permit" because what its carry permit allows you to do is to carry a firearm - concealed or not - "ready" to fire, that is, loaded and ready to use. There are exceptions, of course - you are not going to be carrying when you walk into a courtroom and I recall a court administrator telling me how when that law first went into effect, the bushes outside the courtroom would be loaded with guns, carefully stowed by folks before entering to conduct business.
Does this seem dangerous to you (no, not leaving your guns in the bushes, but the carry permit)? For many people coming from states like New York, Illinois, or California, they see it as EXTREMELY DANGEROUS BECAUSE GUNS KILL PEOPLE. To others, a gun is merely a tool and - like a blender, an automobile, or a table saw - it requires proper and careful use lest someone get hurt. A gun is not dangerous. A malicious, ignorant, or careless person with a gun is - and no gun law will stop anyone meeting the first adjective.
But I also learned about Tennessee's "Castle Doctrine." The castle doctrine goes back to the English common law of the Middle Ages and basically says that you have a right to defend your castle against invaders. While barbarians are no longer storming the gates with battering rams, some - but not all - states have adopted a version of this.
Tennessee got it right. If someone is unlawfully and forcibly entering your "castle" - home, dwelling (as an example, a motel room, albeit temporary, qualifies as a dwelling), or vehicle - you have no duty to retreat, but rather it is presumed there is reasonable fear that allows you to use deadly force then and there to stop the intruder. "Forcibly" does not necessarily mean "smashing down a door" - turning a doorknob can be a forcible entry.
It is 2:00 a.m. You are awakened by the sound of someone breaking and entering. Let's say you are alone in the house and have your firearm by your bed. What do you do?
In some states, there are weakened versions of the castle doctrine. You have to retreat if there is a means of doing so. You have to assess the situation to see if the person entering really is a bad guy. In some states, you have to ascertain that they have a weapon or that they mean you serious bodily harm - who knows, maybe they just want to take your TV set and leave? Some states may even require you first to ask the person to leave, which really does not make sense since you would think they know they are unwelcome if they are coming in with malice aforethought.
What did I learn last night? I learned that a human can cover 30 feet in approximately 1.5 seconds. So - how big is your living room? That does not leave much time to "assess" the situation, especially if you are already scared. In such a situation, and especially if I have kids sleeping upstairs, the tweaker who was just busting in to scrounge through my refrigerator is going to be shot.
|That's Kimber. She's my home girl.|
But . . . you are always responsible for every shot. So while a strong castle doctrine such as Tennessee has is a great thing, you should - no, make that must - know how to safely and effectively operate your firearm. I have to confess, I have been remiss since coming to Tennessee in that I have not visited a range.I am looking forward to tomorrow when we complete the remaining four hours of class with live fire.
A dear friend of mine, the Pyro Priest (his nickname earned because come Holy Saturday, he likes to build his Pashcal Fire BIG) once said to me, "An unshot gun is an unloved gun." Kimber and I have not been spending time together, and while I hope she and I enjoy range time together only, some day she may be my backup in my family room, in my kitchen, or in my car. I want her - and me - to be ready.