Carrying that gun was a tremendous blessing for me, because it allowed me to go about my life (almost) just like I had before, with the confidence that I had deadly force at hand if I needed it. And much like at least some of the open (and concealed) carry enthusiasts complaining about Walmart this week, I did my best to be a careful, responsible, well-prepared gun owner, ready to protect others as well as myself.

But over time, I learned something that I wish more gun owners knew: Carrying a gun isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I learned that most people I encountered actually didn’t feel better knowing that I had a gun. And, though I tried to keep it concealed in a hip holster under a shirt or jacket, the people who inevitably did glimpse it frequently wondered why I had it and whether my gun or my presence put them in danger — like the staff and customers who panicked at that Walmart in Missouri. Even the people who knew and trusted me — knowing that I was a responsible gun owner who had been threatened — wondered if being near me in public exposed them to the same danger in which I’d found myself.

I also learned that carrying a gun — even with a license, training and a real need for it — doesn’t make me as worthy of that responsibility as real cops and soldiers are, and it didn’t make me an action movie hero. Yes, I had a real, articulable need to carry a firearm and I carried one of the best made and engineered handguns available on my hip — which would have been super cool to 16-year-old me, but I didn’t have the training or responsibility of a real cop and I wasn’t any Jason Bourne.