We Don’t Carry Guns for You

By Jeff Knox

Fallen Hero by Quent0S
Fallen Hero image by Quent0S

Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- Like many Americans, I frequently carry a gun. I’ve done so for over 30 years without ever laying hand to it in need.

Professor John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center reports that some 12.8 million people, over 5.2% of the adult U.S. population, are licensed to carry a concealed handgun.

In addition to concealed carry license holders in all 49 states, 7 states require no permit at all for concealed carry, and 39 states have few restrictions on carrying as long as the gun is visible, [ 1 state, New Jersey, has concealed carry on the books but does not grant their citizens the “right” / paperwork to carry.].

On top of that, as I have reported recently, there appears to be a growing trend among people who routinely carry a firearm to also routinely ignore signs that tell them they can’t. It is a growing form of civil disobedience that puts no one at increased risk of death or injury. As the number of concealed carriers grows, violent crime continues to fall.

This doesn’t prove that more guns equals less crime, but it irrefutably proves that more guns do not equate to more crime.

Unless you live in one of the extremely restrictive states like New York, New Jersey, or Massachusetts, any time you are on the street or anywhere that does not have controlled access, with metal detectors and bag searches, etc., there is a fairly high probability that someone nearby is legally carrying a gun. But they are not carrying that gun to protect you.

A popular essay from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, divided humans into three categories: “Sheep,” “Wolves,” and “Sheepdogs.

I would suggest that Lt. Col. Grossman left out an important fourth category: “Porcupines.”

My wife is neither “sheep” nor “sheepdog,” and she certainly is no “wolf.” She is a “porcupine;” harmless and docile if left alone, but ferocious and dangerous if threatened – even more so if her progeny are threatened. She would choose flight over fight every time, if flight is a viable option. But if flight is not an option, she has the tools, training, and mindset to win the fight.

I am Sheep Dog
I am Sheep Dog

Our nation’s convoluted laws on self-defense and liability also force all but the most dedicated “sheepdogs” into the role of “porcupine” as well, making “porcupines” the most prevalent variety of armed citizen. We won’t passively stand by while the wolves have their way with us or our families, but neither can we take responsibility for protecting the “sheep” from the “wolves.”

Certainly most people who carry would take action to help someone in need if there was an opportunity to do so, and there was no obvious alternative, and while many of us would probably prefer to characterize ourselves as “sheepdogs” rather than “porcupines,” the reality is that protecting you, your spouse, and your children is your responsibility, not ours. You should also be aware that protection of you and your family is not the responsibility of the police either. The courts have conclusively ruled that the police have a duty to protect only the public at large, not individuals.

Those of us who have a natural inclination toward being “sheepdogs” have some pretty significant disincentives to acting on those inclinations. Not only is it physically dangerous to intervene in a violent situation, it is a legal minefield that in most cases must be navigated in a matter of seconds.

While laws and jurisprudence protect police from prosecution and civil liability, and while some protections exist for individuals acting in defense of themselves and their families, there are few shields for someone acting on behalf of a stranger. Armed citizens who intervene in situations where they or their families are not in imminent danger, place themselves at significant risk of prosecution and civil penalties.

We also tend to be keenly aware of the fact that any error involving a firearm can be devastating and permanent.

Violent encounters usually happen quickly, and they can be very confusing. It’s not always clear who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy.” Anyone who has ever been through a quality personal defense course has been cautioned to avoid deploying a firearm or engaging an aggressor unless there is no other alternative.

In any shooting situation, there are two key problems to deal with.

  1. Problem One is survival.
  2. Problem Two is dealing with the legal and emotional fallout from solving Problem One.

Ending a life can be emotionally devastating, and the legal consequences can destroy bank accounts and quality of life as surely as being gravely wounded. For most of us, there are no legal repercussions for running away. In the real world, this means flight is better than fight. Our training, and often the law, dictates that if we’re enjoying a movie when a homicidal lunatic starts shooting people on the other side of the theater, our first responsibility is to get out and away, especially if our family is with us. If we’re in a college class and we hear gunfire from the next building or a classroom down the hall, we, just like our unarmed classmates or students, should evacuate or “shelter in place,” not head toward the gunfire.

This approach is galling to many gun owners, especially those of us with a natural inclination toward being “sheepdogs.” We would rather fight than run. We would rather put ourselves at risk than allow evil to go unchecked. But regardless of the level of training and skill a person has, the multiple layers of risk that are inherent in any shooting situation stack the deck against playing the hero unless there is no other alternative.

Both sides of the debate over bearing arms have a tendency to relegate armed citizens to the role of “sheepdog,” but that is a role that the law and prudence won’t let us accept, though some of us will try despite the obstacles. For the most part, we are “porcupines.” We are armed for defense of ourselves and our families, not for you and yours.

In a worst-case scenario, one of us might be present and save your life in defending our own, but don’t count on it. We don’t carry for you.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org

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Jeff NH

Great analogy. If the idea of being surrounded by fellow porcupines intrigues you, check out the “free state project” and move to NH.

Bob Gibson

I had this reaction when I first encountered the sheep/wolves/sheepdogs idea in American Sniper: There are those of us who are neither sheep, wolves, nor sheepdogs. This confuses and angers both the wolves and the sheepdogs. Worse, when the sheepdogs try to make we non-sheep (I *love* the porcupine metaphor – stolen) into sheep in order to fit us into their self-appointed and self-serving world view, they all to often convert themselves into wolves.

Bob Gibson

I realized this after watching the American Sniper movie where I first encountered the sheep/wolf/sheepdog analogy: There are those of us who are neither sheep, wolves, nor sheepdogs. This confuses and angers both the wolves and the sheepdogs. Also, in trying to make we not-sheep (I *really* like the porcupine metaphor – stolen) into sheep in order to fit us into their self-appointed and self-serving worldview, the sheepdogs in all too many cases turn themselves into wolves.

Jerry Corliss

I never liked the sheep/sheepdog/wolf analogy. The sheepdog works for the shepherd not the sheep. He protects sheep for the shepherd not for the sheep. He hopes to be rewarded by the shepherd with some mutton, and guess where that comes from. And are the sheep any better off getting sheared and plopped in the stew pot than they would be if the wolves got them? The wolves, as you know, are the criminals. The sheep are, of course, the citizenry. But the sheepdogs are not the armed among the population as you have ben lead to believe. The sheepdogs… Read more »


Actually I’m perfectly willing to step up and help others. That’s why I regularly schedule classes.
The “Teach a person to fish” method.


Very good article and thank you for putting it in format that is easier to explain to others. When I have been asked why I carry I have always told folks it is to protect myself and family and when asked about protecting others it has always been a litter harder to explain.
I like many other folks who Conceal Carrey would not have a problem helping others depending on the situation at the time but that is not and has never been my priority.


I like your porcupine analogy. I’ll have to print this to share in the classroom.


All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing. (Attribution questionable, see http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/12/04/good-men-do/ ) I will be a sheepdog in all situations where I can come to a reasonable conclusion of guilt. In other words if I know without question who the guilty party is I will intervene if it is necessary to protect the sanctity of life of any other person. To do any less is to foster evil’s concerns and allow the perpetuation of harmful acts. My ethics and morals allow me to do no less. In all other… Read more »


I carry to protect me and mine. When in a restaurant, we sit where we can either get out of an emergency exit, or go to ground and fight if we have to. I would stop a rape or a child abduction under the right circumstances, those being I felt I could succeed. But in the final analysis, I carry to protect myself and my wife, and if other people are too Liberal or too stupid to carry, then I respect their sensibilities and wish them the best. I would never want to offend anyone by saving their life with… Read more »


The Porcupine spirit in action.


Been saying this for years, You can NOT carry MY gun, go get your own. …or don’t, I don’t care.


People are responsible for their own safety and that of their family.


This is posted Buckeye AZ I lived in AZ for my teenage years and went to High School in Buckeye. If the author was in Buckeye during the early to mid 60s give him or her my email please.
And yes I am definitely of the PORCUPINE breed, with a little Badger thrown in.


Excellent article on why there needs to be a victim justice system instead of a criminal justice system. Also explains why you should never vote for a democrat/socialist/communist. They don’t like independent people which explains why they are so big on “gun” control laws that affect only the law abiding.