also be hazardous to the unwary rider.
My group of riding friends has always been small and intimate. It’s gotten even smaller recently as one of the two couples we routinely ride with sold their motorcycle. Health issues have caused the other couple to ride less, and rarely for great distances. Thus, my wife and I find ourselves most often alone on the bike.
We find we enjoy being on our own sometimes. There are no group decisions to make.We leave when we want, go where we want, stop for a rest when we feel like it and head for home at our own discretion. But this new-found freedom comes with a price. We’re on our own. In the event of trouble, there are no longer any friendly faces roaring along beside us.
We also prefer the smaller back roads to the more well-traveled highways and Interstates. Hopefully we can have help on the way, in case of a mechanical breakdown, with a simple cell phone call. But other forms of trouble are out there for which a cell phone my not be adequate. Taking those roads less traveled can lead you into some places that don’t often see, nor readily welcomes outsiders.
On more than one occasion, I’ve been awakened from complacently admiring beautiful scenery by angry dogs charging from somebody’s yard. I’ve also noticed suspicious glares at the two-wheeled apparition invading what is probably considered a private road.
Most of the little road-side quick stops and gas stations are friendly and welcome new customers. But not all of them are so accommodating. Even when the business owner is glad to see us, often the other clientele are not so friendly.
I don’t go out looking for trouble nor intentionally select a location where I’m not welcome. It doesn’t happen on most rides. But it only takes one time when things go really bad to change your life. I eventually came to the conclusion, if we were going to continue to ride, we would need some sort of backup. That is why I got a concealed handgun license.
This was not a decision I jumped to, nor made lightly. It is certainly not a macho or ego thing. I took this step only after much consideration. My surgery in September of last year may have also played a part in my decision. Though I am mostly recovered a year later, I still am not quite back to 100 percent of where I was before. Weak and alone is the perfect recipe for becoming a victim.
This decision comes with great responsibilities and potential burdens. Now that I’m armed, I must immediately attempt to de-escalate or escape confrontations. Letting my ego direct the course of events is no longer feasible as there is now deadly potential in the outcome. Instead of having to shoot somebody, I will apologize even though I know I’m right, or run away if I can. And if some ignorant redneck thinks I’m a coward, who cares? It doesn’t say much for my self-respect if I’m worried about his opinion. If you can’t take an insult, or your pride demands a response to any challenge, then leave the firearm at home. I’m not a police officer. It is not my intention to go into a situation, gun blazing, dispensing justice and righting wrongs. This is a resource of last resort, to avoid death or serious injury to me or my wife.
In the unfortunate event I am ever forced to use my weapon, it will not be without consequences. The use will have been justified. I won’t pull it out otherwise. But if the only witness are the perps’ friends, I may not come off so well. Even without hostile witnesses, once law enforcement arrives, I will undoubtably be cuffed and hauled off to jail until they can sort the situation out.
Once the authorities clear me, there is the strong possibility of litigation by the perps’ friends and family. I may well wind up spending ten of thousands of dollars in legal fees, even though my actions were perfectly justified.
But at the end of the day, an old cliché says it perfectly. “I’d rather be judged by 12 of my peers than carried by six of my friends. And I’d much rather my wife have to watch me put in a cell, than me to watch her put in a grave.
My plan is to never need this option. But just like helmets and seat belts, you can’t wait until you need them to get them. Having a gun you don’t need is far better than needing a gun you don’t have.
－ Guy Wheatley