Today is probably the worst day of my life. I’ve known for a few months now that something was wrong. I finally went to my Dr. after a few weeks and confirmed the worst. Cancer. I can’t even say the word without tearing up. My world has been changed. I have to go home tonight and explain to my family that this could be the last summer vacation, the last birthday party, the last Christmas that Dad will be home for. I will go and get all the medical help my insurance will allow. I will talk with our church leaders and pray for help to overcome this. I will cry more than I would like to admit and more than I think I should because of my manly ego. But one thing I know now that I can’t do is get emotional help from any licensed counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Because if I do I am acutely aware that I could be branded with the modern day “scarlet letter” of someone who needs medication for mental issues. I would then lose my right to own a weapon or even have one in the house.
The thought that I will have to do this without the kind of professional support that so many people who have survived have described as crucial to their success is terrifying. The things that I needed to get done today just don’t seem to matter anymore. How can I tell my wife, my kids that I might die? I have four children ages 15-5; certainly the younger ones can not comprehend what this means? The older ones will understand and that scares the hell out of me. What now?
You may ask now what does any of this have to do with gun control? You see I am sitting here writing this because I am afraid to go home today. Afraid of the inevitable discussion I must have because of the test results I received today. I am afraid to tell anyone that I need help. I have lost family members to cancer. In fact my family is going to a funeral this week for an Uncle who passed away from pancreatic cancer just days ago. The fear this will bring into my home is overwhelming. I have seen the depression, the stress, the toll that it takes on a family. I know that to get through it I will need to get counseling. So will my wife and kids. I will need medications, some of them may be prescribed for the stress, depression, pain. But I also know that if I do what I need to do to beat this disease, I may lose my career and ability to support my family forever. I could lose the generations of hunting experiences I have treasured with my children, my father and grandfather. If my wife was to need help with depression during this time or, God forbid, after I am gone, then she would suffer the same stigma, the same type of discrimination and lose the ability to defend our family as a single mother of four. My sons who after our family tradition would inherit my gun collection would be denied their birthright by a Government who would confiscate it not for any crime or infraction they had committed.
I work in the Security business. I am responsible for over $1 Billion in physical assets and the safety of more than 2000 people in 75 locations. I teach classes at Law Enforcement academies and Training Conferences to pass along the experience I have. I serve on International committees for Standards within the industry used by governments around the world. I am exceptionally good at what I do. But it is a dangerous business. Therefore I myself and my staff of officers are armed. It is part of the business. We work as partners with Law Enforcement on a daily basis. Most of my staff are Veterans of Iraq and/or Afghanistan. I worked exceptionally hard to get to where I am today. For much of the last 10 years 70 hours + per week were the norm. I am a high school graduate never went to college. Instead I worked and learned and improved. When I found what I wanted to do I worked hard to become the best. Years and Years of hard work, study, and learning from mentors got me here. I have planned and run Event Security for (2) US House Speakers, Governors, and a Senator. I donate a portion of my salary to charity. I work in the Boy Scout program with my son. I volunteer as a coach for soccer and tee-ball. In January I started an organization with Security consultants and business leaders in my community and from around the country to develop a physical security assessment system that public school administrators can use to determine weaknesses and areas for improvement. We provide this system and additional consultation PRO BONO to any school who wants to use it.
Today I write all this as I realize that even after the work I have done, the lives that I have affected, the changes I have fought for to make life better for my community, it is just not enough. I am heartbroken, I am depressed, and at least for today, I am lost. I don’t know what my future holds, I don’t know if this cancer will beat me. But damn it, my life work has been to be an example of one of the good guys. It is not right that I should have to choose whether or not to fight this thing with all the resources available in modern medicine and counseling. Because if I do and I beat it, whats next? If I can’t own or carry a weapon my opportunities are severely limited. If I become part a Government “registry” that impedes my right to privacy I will lose security clearances further limiting my ability to provide for my family. What is wrong here? Haven’t I done enough to prove I am one of the good guys? We all deserve better.