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By Faisal Garand

“You’re only good dead.”

“I hate you.”

“I can’t wait for you to be placed in a camp.”

“Someday we’ll get you.”

“I’ll kill you first.”

These are things my fellow Americans say to me. But why? Did I strangle a baby? Did I sell secrets to North Korea? Did I burn 2,000 puppies alive in a shipping container? No, nothing like that. My great sin? Being a Muslim. These are just a tenth of one percent all the hateful things I have been told, either in person or online, due to my religious conviction.

If you are Muslim like me, Chapel Hill made you feel fearful. Three Muslims were murdered on February 10, 2015, allegedly over a parking or noise dispute, but a quick look into the killer revealed he had a burning hatred of Muslims. Did you know that just this past March, two Muslims were gunned down in broad daylight in New York City for their faith? You must have heard about the Indian man killed in a bar by someone who thought he was Muslim and wanted to kill himself a terrorist like a true patriotic hero. Then there was the man who shot up the Baitul Aman Masjid in 2015. Then the attack in Canada in 2017. Then there was the ramming attack in the United Kingdom just last year…

Before anything else, this isn’t unprecedented, and Islam is not under attack; Islam will survive unscathed. Not even the Meccans and their army could slay Mohammed and his beleaguered one hundred believers. If Islam were meant to die in blood, that would have been the day. There is no need to fear genocide or extermination, but we Muslims are a targeted group. Our concern should be in the immediate future: how do we protect ourselves, not even as believers, but as human beings with a right to life?

The answer is with the most effective method: the right to keep and bear arms. I have no compunctions about this. I am an American, I am a Muslim, and I exercise my Second Amendment right. We Muslims in America can actually do something more than thoughts and (daily) prayers. Why not just rely on the police? It has been ruled many times that their job is the investigation of crimes and recommendation of charges; they have no obligation to protect us. But we have the right to actually defend ourselves. We should use it.

Twenty-two states have Affirmative Defense Laws; with nuances particular to each, you are allowed to defend yourself against attack without fear. This means if you are walking from your job to get lunch and you are attacked with reasonable fear for your life, you may defend yourself until the danger ceases. These laws do not give license to provoke an encounter or to cover your tracks in commission of a crime. You can’t initiate fisticuffs with someone then “stand your ground” when you start losing. Far fewer states have Duty to Retreat, which is exactly as it says on the tin.

But, does civilian self-defense work? Is it common? Well, as always, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Detractors, like the Violence Policy Center, will try to spin the data as “X gun deaths (not distinguishing homicide, suicide, justified shootings) versus Y justifiable homicides (only taken from ruled court verdicts, a small minority of all defensive shootings),” therefore, defensive gun use is a myth, you Rambo Redneck McWannabe!” The DOJ will cite about 70,000 defensive gun uses per year. This is just times it made it into the police reports or a survey. However, the CDC, and criminologist Gary Kleck, have done their own studies with much more data and actual statistical methods. The results are strikingly different.

In Kleck’s 1997 study, Armed Resistance to Crime, he postulated that at least one million defensive gun uses happen in the U.S. annually, with a potential cap between two and three million. He found that most uses are not reported, primarily because, in ninety percent of defensive incidents, the weapon is never fired. It is shown or threatened, and that makes the brigand flee. Even when shots are fired, the end result is usually victory for the defender. The CDC found very similar results when they looked into it, and in a 2013 statement, they affirmed that gun ownership and use are effective crime deterrents. Moreover, in surveys of convicted felons, a near universal top fear was an armed victim, with such encounters being common.

So now it is established that defensive gun use is legal, common, and effective; what does that mean for a Muslim in the USA? Well, it means that we should follow the teachings of Islam for defending ourselves. To be brief: do not seek fights, try to defuse fights, only apply force when first subjected to force, do not kill those who flee or surrender. God is with the righteous. We are also not to target noncombatants nor to preemptively assail. Remember, Allah will hold us accountable for our actions.

By probability, very few of us will ever need to defend ourselves. However, it is essential to remember to behave; we are not terrorists. Inshallah, may I never need my gun, but wallahi, should I, I will use it best. Because every human being has the right to protect themselves, and that includes us. So arm yourself, train, study, and carry. Nobody but you can guarantee your safety.

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