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Firearms instructor encourages people to consider carrying guns

December 16th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

Victim believes the presence of a gun may have at least scared her attacker.

By Kristi Ottley

LOGAN — It was a beautiful fall day when 20-year-old Elsa Miller decided to go for a run in her Orem neighborhood, having no idea that such a simple decision would completely change her life. She had been out on many runs before on the same trail.

“It was in October,” said Miller, “It was one of those beautiful fall days; I felt I couldn’t pass it up. I went for an afternoon run, never expecting it to end the way it did.”

Miller had successfully completed her run and was on her way back home when she saw the man who would soon become her own personal villain. She was just two blocks away from her apartment when the man grabbed her, she said.

“I remember falling and trying to crawl back up,” Miller said. She still hasn’t been able to recall the horrific details of the attack itself that happened over two years ago, her memory gets blotchy whenever she thinks about the attack, she said. Miller remembers being grabbed and consumed with fear, and her next memory is of waking up in the hospital, her body covered in bruises and road rash.

Miller admits that since the attack she has often wondered, “What if I had been carrying a gun? Would I have been able to protect myself?” She also admits that she doesn’t know if she would have had the courage to use a weapon if she would have been carrying one that day, but believes that the presence of a gun may have at least scared her attacker.


Self-defense is one of many reasons people choose to become certified to carry a gun, said firearms instructor Dex Taylor. Other reasons include learning what the laws surrounding owning and carrying firearms are, gaining knowledge of how to use a gun, to be prepared, and in some cases an individual already has a current threat against them and wants to know how they can protect themselves, said Taylor.

The National Rifle Association website states, “Self-defense is a fundamental right. The U.S. constitution, the constitutions of 44 states, common law, and the laws of all states recognize the right to use arms in self-defense. RTC (Right to Carry) laws respect the right to self-defense by allowing individuals to carry firearms for protection.”

There is much debate and controversy surrounding guns and the laws relating to carrying and owning guns. Taylor, who is a retired police officer from Logan City Police Department, says that some people feel that allowing individuals to carry weapons just increases violence in America and leads to more crime.

“Just because you have a firearm permit, you don’t go looking for trouble,” Taylor said. A good majority of people who have concealed weapons permits don’t actually carry a gun most of the time, said Taylor. He likened a concealed weapons permit to a driver’s license. “A lot of people have a driver’s license, but do not own or regularly drive a car,” Taylor said.

“Realistically, law-abiding citizens aren’t just going to go out, and pull their gun without having cause to do so,” said Brandon Douglas of Logan City Police. It is smart for citizens to carry a gun if they are certified to do so, just in case a situation arises and they need it to protect themselves or others, he said.

Some people are concerned that anyone can receive a concealed weapons permit and purchase a gun, but there are many steps necessary before someone can apply for a permit. An individual seeking a permit must pass a background check, be at least 21 years old, have their fingerprints processed, get their picture taken, and pass a written test at the end of the four-hour class, said Taylor.

The FBI website states, “The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is all about saving lives and protecting people from harm-by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands.”

A complete background check takes about 60 days, said Taylor. An individual will not be issued a concealed weapons permit until they complete all steps and clear a background check. Taylor said all precautions necessary are taken to ensure that they do not issue a permit to anyone who does not meet all requirements to carry.

When an individual goes to a retailer to purchase a firearm, the retailer is required to call the FBI and clear the individual. The FBI website says, “NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.”

Feeling of safety

Another common reason people are against the right to carry a weapon is because it disrupts their feeling of safety, said Taylor. Some people get nervous when they start thinking about the possibility that the people around them may be carrying a gun.

“The constitutional right to keep and carry weapons is the thing that a criminal fears more than the police, more than prison, they fear you, the common civilian who might be carrying a gun,” Taylor said.

According to Taylor, other countries, like Israel, have lower crime rates than America because their government arms their people and pretty much everyone in their country carries a gun. With this being the case, there are fewer who cannot protect themselves for criminals to prey on, said Taylor.

“Allowing Americans to own and carry guns actually make our country safer,” said Douglas. “If you study history of other countries you will see that the countries that have taken guns away from their people have higher rates of crime.”

Here in America many buildings, campuses, and shopping centers have signs posted prohibiting guns and other weapons from being carried on their premises. Taylor believes these signs are an invitation for trouble because they alert criminals that guns should not be present at these locations, giving them an opportunity to commit a crime with less chance of being stopped.

“These signs actually encourage criminals, not discourage them,” said Taylor.

Taylor said an example of these signs doing the opposite of keeping weapons off their premises is the shooting spree that occurred at the Trolley Square shopping center in Salt Lake City in February, 2007. There were signs prohibiting guns on the premises, but they didn’t stop the shooter from entering the shopping mall with his gun and taking five innocent lives, said Taylor, and the only reason it wasn’t much worse was because there was an off-duty police officer at the mall carrying a concealed weapon who held the shooter off until help arrived.

The shooting at the Virginia Tech College in April of 2007 is another example of signs that were meant to deter the presence of guns on its campus actually doing the opposite, said Taylor. An individual chose to ignore the signs prohibiting weapons on campus and opened fire on students, professors, and staff. This shooting spree ended with 32 innocent lives taken, 25 physically injured, and many more emotionally and mentally scarred for life.

“Prohibiting carrying of guns doesn’t solve anything, because criminals will still get them and use them,” said Taylor.

Danger to children

Another reason many people are against concealed weapons permits is the belief that they are the cause of many accidental children’s deaths. Taylor says this is a common and inaccurate misconception.

“The Center of Disease Control is the department that measures accidental deaths of children every year, and it’s fewer than 50 children killed accidentally with firearms,” said Taylor. “Far more children are killed by drowning, choking, smoke inhalation, and car accidents with drowning being number one.”

“Of all gun-related accidents, 99 percent of them are caused by two things, ignorance and carelessness,” said Taylor.

In his concealed weapons permit class, Taylor teaches gun responsibility, skills and safety, “You learn how to load and unload a gun, how to hold a gun, and how to aim. The most important thing I teach is that you always behave as if the gun is loaded, and you never point it at someone unless you are serious about shooting,” said Taylor.

Many Americans do have concealed weapons permits and own guns, “Last year in America there were over 65 million guns that didn’t kill anybody,” Taylor said.

He has no qualms about admitting that guns are sometimes used in violent acts, but this is why he says people should be allowed to carry if they want to. “If the need arises you can better protect yourself and your family if you are prepared,” said Taylor.

Protecting yourself

Miller has yet to get her concealed weapons permit, but has been thinking about doing so ever since that terrible day that changed her forever. Miller said the road to recovery has been rough and full of challenges, and while she has been able to move on with her life, she still has days that are really tough.

“Afterwards things were hard, physically and emotionally,” said Miller. “Every time I looked in the mirror I saw my beat-up face, a constant reminder. Anytime I left the house I saw the stares and heard the questions. There was one morning where my roommate found me crying in the bathroom because I couldn’t hide it. Soon they became scars, always reminding me. Reminding what he had done to me.”

Miller says, she has often wondered if she would have been able to protect herself and stopped the attack if she had been carrying a gun that fateful day. She said she thinks it is very wise for people to carry a gun so that if they ever find themselves in a situation similar to the one she was in they can at least try to stop it.

“I carry my gun with me everywhere I go, just to be prepared, even when I am off-duty,” Douglas said.

Taylor strongly suggests anyone who has ever thought about getting a concealed weapons permit to do so. He said, “I’d much rather have a gun and never need it, than to need one and not have one.”


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