Having a gun isn't enough to keep you safe. You have to have the skill set, presence of mind, practice and the other aspects of emergency preparation in place as well.
Do you know, understand and apply the Four Basic Safety Rules all the time?
Do you know the laws for where you are concerning carrying firearms and the use of lethal force?
Do you practice at least twice a week? (Dry practice counts.)
Do you practice drawing, moving, communicating, and using cover?
Do you have a basic response to a potential threat already in your mind and ready to implement?
Do you shoot at least once a month, and if so do you shoot while moving?
Do you know what to do afterwards, if it is necessary to use your weapon?
Do you have a lawyer ready, willing, and capable of representing you if you have to use your weapon?
Do you have a plan in case of an attack when you're not carrying a firearm?
Do you have the equipment close by and the basic skills necessary to deal with some type of major trauma, wound or injury?
Do you have a flashlight on you right now?
Do you know where the fire extinguisher is, and how to operate it?
Do your family members know what to do in case of an emergency?
Do you - where it is legal - have a firearm on you or within arms reach?
Do you know how to keep someone from taking your weapon away, disarming you?
Do you know if you are ready or not?
Personal protection is an individual responsibility. If you answered "no," to any of the questions above, or "maybe" - there's nothing worse than not knowing for sure - then you are not ready to take care of yourself and family. And, these are the easy questions.
Truly being responsible, prepared to deal with emergencies, is about answering questions, not how many training courses you've attended or the quantity of firearms you own. Your job is to anticipate all the questions and figure out their answers in advance, prior to the time lives depend on what you know and can do. And, if you're responsible for other people, like your family, then shame on you for not being ready. It's one thing if you're not prepared to take care of yourself. It's unforgivable to not be ready and able to take care of those who depend on you.
Being responsible means being ready for trouble all times, not just when you think it might happen. If you knew when it was going to happen you'd be somewhere safe, or fully prepared, which means there wouldn't be any danger. Trouble comes at unexpected times and in all forms, both man-made and natural. Understand and acknowledge this: You have to be ready all the time. That should change your priorities and how you live. It's a sad fact, but most people can operate the remote for their home entertainment system better than they can their pistol.
Answering "no" to any of the questions above means you don't get it, yet. So you reset your mind and make the necessary sacrifices and changes, or quit kidding yourself and invest in a rabbit's foot or other good luck charm.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org