Caleb talks about the philosophical differences between “shooting to kill” and “shooting to stop the threat”, and does a good job breaking down the self-defense mindset. Responsible gun owners don’t shoot to kill, they shoot to stop the threat to their lives.
But before that, you must first make the decision that you are willing to use (potentially) deadly force in defence of your life or the lives of others.
I must confess, I wasn’t always willing to do that. I didn’t grow up with guns in the house, and I didn’t grow up with the idea that self-defense is a fundamental right.
This is not to say I grew up without guns. I spent a couple of summers on my uncle’s farm, feeding the hogs at 0dark30 and then working long past sunset every day. On a farm, a gun isn’t a fearful instrument of mass destruction, it’s a tool, just like the hay baler or the seed drill. You use a gun to clean out the gophers in a stubble field or harvest a few ducks for dinner or snag some venison for a family feast: It’s no more mysterious than a tractor, and just like a tractor, it needs to be treated with respect and used properly at all times.
Then my family moved to Arizona, and things changed.
In Arizona, I could defend my life with deadly force more readily, the question is, did I want to?
I grew up (and still am) in the evangelical Christian church. I believed, (and still do) that for me to live is Christ, to die is gain, and nothing that I owned was worth my life or the life of someone else. There are Christians who believe differently, and that’s fine, there’s a lot of room inside the church for everyone. But for me, at that time, I couldn’t see myself taking a life.
And then I got married and had a family, and things changed again.
Now that I am married, I no longer live my life for my Saviour, others and myself, I live it for my family as well. When I was single, I decided that nothing I owned was worth a human life, but now that I am married and have a wife and two exceptional young men to raise up, I believe that God has given me stewardship over more than just my life, and their welfare is more important than the welfare of someone who might threaten our lives. I can decide for myself if someone ‘s life is or is not worth what is here on Earth, but I do not have the right to decide that question for the family that God has entrusted me with. My God-given responsibilities as a parent and a husband trumps my previous concerns. Both of these ideas extend from a love of God and the awesome challenge He has put before me.
The mission may have changed, but the duty has not.