One of the best gun quotes I've seen was a man who's wife asked him "Do you think you will need a gun at Sam's Club?". His reply: "If I thought I was going to need a gun at Sam's club, I wouldn't go there". That sums up a lot of my thoughts on carrying a gun. Since getting my license, I generally carry when it isn't fairly inconvenient. I don't carry at work because it is posted no guns at the turnstiles. I could almost certainly get away with keeping a gun in my car, I don't like that idea on a regular basis--although I've never had anything stolen from a locked car, I'm paranoid about having a gun stolen. I avoid shopping where stores have chosen to ban legal guns, I will shop (or eat) where the business is required by law to ban guns.
I didn't initially plan to carry much. I got my license for two reasons--One was political, the other was so my wife would get hers. We took the training together, she applied in our county, I applied in an adjacent county and mine came first. I wanted to work the bugs out so I could give her better advice, and discovered that I like carrying. It doesn't make me tough. In fact, it does exactly the opposite--I can't risk escalating a minor situation into violence, so I need to back down in most cases. I think it will help to know that I am choosing to back down for the other guy's safety, or because shooting someone is expensive, not out of fear of physical violence. The gun isn't to let me wander bad neighborhoods, it isn't to protect property--It is to protect my life and the lives of those I love. I might use it to protect another innocent, but that depends a lot on the situation.
In the fairly short time I've been carrying, I've had a couple of minor incidents that made me think about the gun. The first was only a few days after I started--Wife and I were walking our dogs, and another dog burst out of his yard and charged us, and started scuffling with our bigger dog. I began to reach for my gun out of a startled reflex, but stopped that before I even got my shirt out of the way. Instead I kept my hand near, and challenged the dog, towering over him and shouting at him to go home. He did. Don't know what would have been different without the gun--Now that I've thought of the proper response, I think I'd act the same way, but I don't think I'd have been able to bluff as well without either the gun or some prior thought. The gun helped me act like "top dog", and helped to think of a good nonviolent way to stop the problem, knowing I had backup.
Memorial day weekend fireworks in the nearby city (we live in a small town)--On the way to the car there was a fairly narrow, crowded bike path. Ahead was a drunk muttering angrily to himself about someone pushing him. We held back, and we let him go 20 feet or so ahead. Again, not much different in how I would have handled it without being armed, except possibly more amusing than it would have been otherwise. Drunk was somewhat smaller than me, although I'm guessing a far more experienced street fighter, since I haven't thrown a blow in anger since junior high school in the late 1970's. He finally picked a small old man to verbally challenge-I watched until he staggered off, apparently satisfied after a brief verbal assault. I did try to figure out what I should do if he physically assaulted the old man--I still don't know.
Third time, same city was brief--Was alone, walking downtown--Fairly unusual, I do that about once every other year or so. A fairly respectable looking black man in his 20's was carrying grocery bags. As he passed he said to me (at least I think it was to me, there was nobody else close) "Next time I'll kick your F***ing Ass". No clue why. Again the only difference because I was carrying is that I was more amused than frightened. Didn't change my behavior--I watched to make sure he kept going by, as I continued in the opposite direction.