When I was a boy growing up in Georgia, my father made sure I knew how to shoot. Of course, he did the same for my siblings, but he made sure to impress the importance of this skill and my proficiency in it upon me from a very early age. In fact, I believe I was seven or eight when I first fired (under extremely close supervision!) a weapon. He always told me that I may someday need the skill, more than most.
The reason my dad wanted me to be proficient in firearms is that I am, like millions of my fellow Americans, disabled. I was born with fairly severe spina-bifida and had to have a leg amputated, as well as some nerve damage due to spinal malformation. Fortunately, I’m relatively unaffected. I can do almost everything that most people can do, with the notable exceptions of walking and fighting.
This makes self defense a rather tricky proposition. Non-lethal deterrents simply aren’t good enough. If I mace or taze someone, the fact is that there is all too real a possibility that they could get up before help arrives or I have safely fled the area. To this end, I always keep my trusty 1911 tucked just under my wheelchair – in a place where I can access it at a moment’s notice with one smooth, well-practiced motion.
However, this has led to things being rather tricky for me politically. On the one hand, I personally agree with a lot of social positions to which the Democrats often pay lip service. I don’t think that the government has any place to tell gay people that they can’t get married, for example, or that the government should be passing any laws telling women that they can’t get abortions. I was very much against the Iraq War, and I believe that the corporate tax rate is a bit too low.
These things mean a lot less to me than my personal safety, as selfish as that may sound. So every year I end up voting for whichever candidate tells me that they’re going to keep my gun rights secure. Sadly, this is most often a Republican.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that politics is a pretty awful proposition. No matter who gets elected, they’ll end up supporting the same corporate interests and the same abysmal foreign policies and the same horrendous mistakes that are, frankly, destroying this country. I’m not so idealistic as to think that’s going to change. However, gun rights are an issue that seems to be highly flexible from candidate to candidate, and since it’s so important to me, I’ve no qualms about voting nearly solely on this point.
This irks quite a number of my fellow disabled friends, though. Firearms are not seen as particularly important to many of the other handicapped people I know. A lot of us voted Democrat a few years back in the belief that then-Candidate Obama would make healthcare much more accessible and much less expensive for people like us. This is a very noble goal, of course, and I do agree that it’s the right thing to do.
However, his past stance on guns made me incredibly uneasy. What good was having adequate healthcare if my CCW license was null and void due to new laws? What would it matter if I could afford to keep my wheelchair in working order if I couldn’t eat because some degenerate had mugged me and I couldn’t defend myself?
And this is the point that I’m trying to make, here. While I’m sure many anti-gun people have fine motives – they can’t all be fascists, after all – I’m even more sure that they’re forgetting about disabled Americans. To many of us, a firearm is really the only plausible option we have to defend ourselves. If our guns are taken away, we’re basically rolling ATMs to any debased junkie looking for a fix. Does that seem right to you? Because it sure doesn’t to me.
It’s why I tell every disabled person I know to carry a gun. I’ve gotten at least two people I know to get their Georgia Weapons License so that they, like me, can protect themselves. I just wish that more disabled people could appreciate how important this right is to us, and that more Americans realized that any vote against gun rights is a vote against the rights of the physically disadvantaged to defend themselves.