I had an interesting conversation yesterday with some associates on the topic of guns in Utah.

In our small group, I was a bit surprised to hear 2 of them admit to having a concealed weapon permit. But maybe I should not have been too surprised, for as I understand it in the State of Utah you can carry your concealed weapon onto school grounds. Guns are very popular here, and the “right to bear arms” is vigorously defended.

I listened as my associates described various scenarios that justify using lethal force, from protecting family to ensuring that you don’t get robbed. One associate, who I would have guessed would be afraid of guns, described having no qualms about putting buckshot in the ass of anyone who presented a threat.

After listening for awhile, I started to voice my concerns about the commonality of guns here, about carrying weapons and keeping them in the home.

I said, “What good is it to have a gun in the home to prevent robbery when surely you would keep it locked away so that your children are not harmed?” I was shocked to hear them, almost in unison, say that guns don’t need to be locked up as long as you teach your children from an early age how to respect guns and handle them. In fact, it is preferable not to lock them up so that they are always at the ready.

I said, “I think you guys are making a big mistake by ‘packing heat,’ because even if you seem to be justified in using a gun to protect yourself or whatever, you risk destroying someone’s life, risk experiencing lengthy courtroom participation, or risk civil suits and the like. No one was moved by these concerns.

As one associate was about to leave, I said, “There ain’t nothing I own, or will ever own, that is worth killing someone to protect it from being stolen.” He agreed.

Finally, in response to the argument that if criminals know you have a gun inside the house, they will pass your house and go to the next house, I said, “Well, you’re just pushing trouble onto your neighbor.” Silence.

On the drive home from work, as if on queue, I saw a large orange sign that said, Utah Gun Show – South Towne Expo Center. That happens to be the largest convention center here in Salt Lake City, a HUGE facility that is capable of holding dozens of RVs and camping trailers during the Camping Expo. I would imagine that there will be thousands of guns at the Gun Show.

A few miles later, I was driving behind a tow truck that had posted a message in large letters on the back windshield of the truck, it read, “Driver carries lots of cash … and plenty of ammunition.”

This morning, on the front page of there is a headline that reads, “Boy finds forgotten gun, shoots self in head.” No doubt his parents wish they had not kept THAT gun.

And I won’t even detail the tragedy in Mexico, which has some of the strictest guns laws in the world, but where border towns are becoming ghost towns because the drug lords have arsenals that they acquired in America.

I somehow think that we have moved beyond protecting country, and moved beyond protecting family, to protecting our stuff and our egos.