Opinions about concealed guns changed over the yrs.

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Point of View by Brian Hensley

My father never hunted. I didn’t have any uncles who took me under their wing and taught me to shoot. Our family had a different hobby. Since I hadn’t ever been exposed to guns, debate has often confused me. I really never felt the government would come in and take guns away.  I never really understood the need for a citizen to carry a gun, but then I moved to Texas. For four years I lived in Texas, where guns and concealed guns are a part of life.

Brian Hensley

Brian Hensley

One evening, as a group of about 12 sat around a campfire telling stories, my belief system took a direct hit. The conversation turned to guns, hunting and carrying a concealed weapon on a daily basis. This group consisted of people with ages from 23-63 with occupations like business owners, teachers, a retired gentleman and his wife, a bar owner and nurses.

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It was my opinion that hunting and any guns or accessories that would be used for hunting, shouldn’t have any restrictions. That argument was pretty easy. If someone wants to hunt for food or game why should that be restricted. It’s a recreation that is very important in many families and a great way for parents to teach important life skills to their children. Children begin to learn at an early age the cycle of life, respect for nature, discipline and where food comes from.

But I struggled with handguns. Sure, they could be used for protection in your home and business, and the government can’t protect everyone, everywhere, all the time. It’s a personal responsibility to protect your family and yourself on your property. That can’t or shouldn’t be restricted.

I especially struggled with individuals carrying weapons in public under concealment. I expressed my opinion around that campfire that I wasn’t for carry and concealed guns and got no response. I looked around to this group that was never very quiet, wondering why it was so suddenly deathly silent. Someone asked me why I felt this way.

I shared that I had never been robbed, never felt threatened and it scared me more to think about a bunch of everyday citizens carrying guns hidden in their pockets.  What if someone got road rage? What if someone drank too much in a bar? What if a husband with a violent past got angry at his wife? I wasn’t sure I wanted them to have a gun on their bodies whenever they wanted.

To my shock, someone in the group said, “I’m carrying right now.” “Me too.” “Yep, it’s right here.” In all, seven or eight of the 12 in our group were carrying a concealed weapon. My jaw literally hit the floor. I was pretty shocked. I asked, how often they carried, why they carried and what prompted them to start carrying. I asked about their training. I asked about what made them decide to carry. I asked when and if they would use their gun to protect themselves or others.  It was a very educational experience.

Two questions were asked that have stuck in my mind since that evening. “What if something happens, like something that is happening around this city, state, county, world, and you aren’t carrying a concealed weapon and can’t protect your family or friends?” “Do you think those that want to break the law or do bad things are not going to break the law and carry a gun?”

The actions that happened on Friday in Paris reminded me of this campfire discussion. A customer in the concert hall in Paris watched as over 100 people were killed by two gunmen executing people in a slow methodical process. It was horrifying to hear. No one could defend themselves or defend the group. It took police 15 minutes to arrive due to the confusion around the city.

Unfortunately, these events aren’t limited to overseas.  Whether it’s a church Bible study, a movie theater, a school, a mall, a concert hall or an Army base, these events can happen anywhere and at anytime.

France has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. All the weapons used in the attack were illegal. That doesn’t stop criminals from using them. Those who want to create terror, whether they are an extremist religious group, or a 16-year-old student, will create terror with illegal items. They may choose a gun, a suicide vest, a knife, a box cutter, an airplane or something unimaginable.

The debate around concealed handguns has changed in my mind since that evening around the campfire.  The question now is whether the government is going to determine if I can defend myself or not in the manner I choose.


Brian Hensley is a chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party and a local financial adviser with Intego Financial Group. Brian also serves on the city of Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Board. All opinions are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the organizations he is associated with.