Why do you go to the range? Pure enjoyment? To refine your skills? A combination of both, maybe? What about your reasons for carrying a firearm? Is it for self-defense? Based off of my conversations with gun-owners, I’m going to generalize that most people who regularly practice and carry have a self-defense mindset. That is, if the outcome is between your life (or your family’s) and theirs, you have no qualms in using your firearm to sway that outcome in your favor. In essence, you train to take a life, do you not? That is the purpose of the many advanced self-defense firearm courses available to the public. That is the purpose of obtaining a concealed carry license. One does not take a self-defense course to put their hands up in the air and give themselves over to an assailant.
Where am I going with all of this, you ask? Well, since I’ve established my belief that most gun owners/carriers are prepared to defend their own lives, it leaves me wondering how many of them are prepared to save a life. Think about it; 1.73 million concealed carry licenses have been obtained this year alone. Since 2007, there has been a 215% increase in the number of permit-holders. Overall, between 400-600 million guns are owned by Americans. Now, whether one is mentally prepared to take a life is an entirely different story, but the premise of owning a gun for self-defense reasons still stands; you will take a life should you have to.
Whether you’re a “prepper” or just paranoid, you might be one of those people like myself who expect bad things to happen. For those reasons, we prepare for it. If you’re preparing for a mass shooting, why are you not preparing to render aid to casualties? Pause for one moment and honestly analyze your response to that question. Maybe that is the most extreme scenario to consider, but the point remains; if you know how to take a life, you should know how to save one.
Earlier this year I took a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course through North American Rescue, a leading manufacturer and provider of emergency medical supplies for the military, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. It was a monumental turning point in how I viewed my responsibility as a gun owner. All of the classes we go through, the training we ensure to receive, the ridiculous amount of money we spend on ammo in order to practice regularly---and yet, no one mentions the importance of knowing how to treat a gunshot wound, the injury we’re trained to inflict?
This TCCC course taught pre-hospital treatment of gunshot wounds and various other injuries. It focused on treatment of the three leading causes of preventable combat death; hemorrhage, airway obstruction, and tension pneumothorax. Guess what? All three of those can be caused by a gunshot wound. You may not be preparing for the next mass shooting, but accidents at the range are still known to occur. Another scenario, what if you were near Pulse nightclub when the shooting occurred? What if your knowledge on treatment of gunshot wounds was able to save just one or two more lives before EMS arrived?
Carrying or shooting a gun is not “cool.” It does not endow you with certain powers. It is a tremendous and serious responsibility. Someone’s life is in your hands. Even at the range, there are certain safety rules that must be abided to ensure the line between “fun” and “dangerous” is not crossed. Accidents DO happen, no matter where you are. I have gotten in the habit of carrying North American Rescue's range safety kit in my truck as well as at the range. I even carry a smaller version of the kit in my backpack (since school shootings have become less of a rarity) and aboard planes. You never know what’s going to happen until it happens. If you think this is a crazy or paranoid thought, then why do you own a gun for the primary or secondary purpose of self/home defense? You are preparing for something that may or may not occur—it is the same thing.
If you know how to take a life, shouldn’t you know how to save one?
Theresa Vail is a member of the Kansas Army National Guard, Miss Kansas 2013, and current Host of NRA All Access.
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