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Hello, I am Matthew Falkner. A 28 year old peace officer in the state of Utah, and an honorably discharged combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

While I definitely consider myself a gun rights activist, I am not an extremist. Some rights advocates would scoff at my acceptance of instant background checks. (See Background Checks and Waiting Periods) I also don't see any problem with the public not having access to missiles, grenades, or weapons of mass destruction. I do, however, believe that people should be able to defend themselves from their own government. (See Guns and Government Power)

When I was very young and unfamiliar with the gun issue, I leaned toward the side of gun control. This was partly because of what I saw in the media, which was and is mostly biased against guns. I also grew up with no guns in the home, and I really just never thought about the issue. I began to learn about guns when I became an armed security officer at the age of 18. At that time, I found out that I could not legally purchase a handgun despite my license to carry one Intil I turned 21. I thought this strange. I did some research, and found out that my father could give me his gun, but he could not buy one specifically for the purpose of giving it to me. I started to learn that gun laws don't necessarily follow rhyme or reason. Federal laws have to co-exist with the State laws, which are always being bent and warped by both pro and anti-gun groups. What may be legal In my state, would get me months in jail in another. Once I was able to actually get a gun, questions began to arise. I then wanted to learn all the gun laws in my state. I began to ask around, and found that they guy at the gun store had different answers than the police officer did, who gave me different answers than a gun book I read. Going to the law books themselves made it even more confusing.

I began to lean further toward my belief in gun rights one day then I was talking to my cousin. He told me a story about his friend who was just old enough in Utah to possess a gun. He decided to put one on his belt and walk around in public to see if he would get stopped by police. He did this because he knew it was legal to carry a gun on his belt as long as it was not loaded and plainly visible, but he had never seen anyone do it. I was surprised to hear this at first, because I didn't know it was legal to carry a gun at all without a "permit". He told me that there never was a permit to carry a gun in Utah, though there are permits to carry one concealed. You see, the Second Amendment makes it legal to bear arms, but gun control laws make it illegal to do it in certain ways. My next question was: "What difference does the right to carry a gun make if the gun isn't loaded?" Furthermore; "How is a gun any more dangerous if it's concealed?" I looked up the wording of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Wait a minute. Doesn't "Shall not be infringed" leave no room for bargaining? I learned that people who don't like the Second Amendment have somehow found a way to get away with enacting tedious laws to try and make gun carry as difficult as possible, and the Second Amendment as insignificant as possible. My cousin continued his story, and explained that his friend was in fact stopped by police, frisked, and was subsequently arrested for carrying a concealed dangerous weapon. It wasn't the gun he was arrested for, however, but the pocket knife that was found concealed in his pocket. Of course, since he was being arrested, police had to confiscate his gun.

Another incident that helped motivate my point of view, was one that occurred with The America Online Corporation in Utah. Somebody was reviewing past video surveillance of the building parking lot, and noticed an employee transferring a rifle, in a locked case, into another employees car after work. They had planned to go target shooting after the days work, and were carpooling to the range. AOL fired both employees because of a policy they had, which bans guns in the workplace. I thought to myself, "Is this their attempt to somehow prevent work related shootings?", "Wasn't it obvious that these employees were not bringing them for that purpose?"; "And if they were, was a company policy going to stop them?"; "Can private businesses over-rule the Second Amendment?" Both employees sued AOL.

My next gun experience, was a night that I came home from work to find all of the lights in my house turned off. I was still 18, living with my parents, and it was very unusual for all the lights to be off, because my parents always left a light on to make the house look occupied. I didn't get too over-worked about it, because I figured that they had just left the house before it became dark. I walked through my home, not going to the trouble of turning on any lights, and went to my room. I then heard a sound which I don't remember distinctly, but I remember knowing that it was a sound that could only be made by another person in the house. The fact that no cars were in the driveway, and that all the lights were turned off, told me that the person was not invited. I got my gun from a lock box under my bed, and loaded a round from the magazine into the chamber. This made a loud sound which broke the silence in the house. I walked through the main floor, glancing into each room, but I found no one. I walked down the stairs and when I neared basement, I heard someone run out the door on the main floor. I ran up and outside to see a man jump into a car which had been waiting for him across the street. The car sped off, and I was left only to imagine what might have happened if the situation was different. What would I have done without the gun? Did the burglar have a weapon of his own? By the time I realized somebody was in the house, the only phone I could have used to call the police was on the other side of it. The sound I had initially heard was definitely not the burglar trying to run out of the house. Was he trying to sneak up on me? Was he there for a reason other than theft? These are all 'what if' questions, but one thing was sure. Even if my life wasn't in danger, I had at least prevented the burglar from doing whatever he was there to do, and I had given myself a little peace of mind in knowing that I didn't have to face an unknown threat without the necessary tool to do so. Consequently, I lived in a small town, with little crime, and it was normal for people to leave their doors unlocked.

My education consists of High school, College Criminal Justice, and the Police Academy. I served as an infantry Marine during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where two of my good friends were shot and killed. I have never blamed the guns that killed them, but rather the murderers that pulled the trigger. I have lived in Utah, Arkansas, New York, and California. I have seen the stark contrast in American gun laws from state to state. What part of "Shall not be infringed" don't they understand?

NEXT: The Meaning of Gun Control

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