You who’ve been reading my columns off and on over the past 30-plus years know that I am enthusiastic about carrying concealed firearms, not only for self-protection but also to possibly help others in trouble.Remember, just because you are carrying a firearm doesn’t mean you have to use it, but the choice is yours, not the bad guy’s. In a previous column I mentioned carrying for more than 60 years and never drawing my weapon. Of course, in those earlier days our world wasn’t insane.Criminals are cowards. They’re all afraid of being caught, and the sane ones are also afraid of being shot. The school-shooter nut cases are obviously not afraid to die so I’m not talking about them here. That issue is being well-addressed by the NRA. My concern is with rapists, robbers and troublemakers in general. These guys are stoppable if you are armed, alert and trained.Now, there is an ideal firearm for every individual and situation, and many certified experts to help you in selecting and learning to use it. And target shooting is lots of fun once you get the feel of your weapon and know you are its master. The basics are simple common sense. Over the years when walking, I’ve developed the habit of scanning the area around me for anything unusual, particularly going to and from my car. Crowded parking lots are ideal for stalkers to pick and choose their prey, especially at night. I’m amazed at how many women I see leaving a super market, laden with groceries, paying little attention to anything around them.If anyone needs to be armed in this screwball age, it’s women. But women are picky in their clothing choices, making quick access to a weapon very difficult from an overloaded purse. Carrying one’s weapon in one’s car is certainly better than nothing but is of little help except when driving. And when your car is being serviced you must remove it or else it might be stolen. You don’t want your registered weapon ending up in the hands of thieves. Ladies, I have nothing to offer other than trying to talk you into sacrificing sleekness for safety. When you visit the Sheriff’s Department to apply for your concealed weapon permit, talk to a female deputy about the best way for a woman to carry. There are several small but effective handguns on the market which are enough to spoil a rapist’s or robber’s day.It’s been said many times by experts that you shouldn’t carry a firearm unless you are 100 percent committed to using it if there is no other obvious choice. If you can’t stomach wounding or killing someone who is determined to harm you, then forget carrying a firearm. Merely threatening someone with a gun, having no personal commitment to use it, could get you in more trouble than being robbed. The reason for being committed is because hard-core criminals can move awfully fast to disarm you if you hesitate, and rapists are crazy enough to think you’re afraid to shoot.In conclusion, it’s been suggested by the NRA and other expert groups that we must eliminate “gun-free” zones such as schools because the nut cases who want to commit mass murder know they need not worry about being stopped in a gun-free zone. Only bad guys have guns in gun-free zones. It has also been suggested that we go one step further and place an armed security person on each school campus. I concur — if he or she is a well trained, plainclothes deputy sheriff and not a rent-a-cop. It is essential that bad guys cannot identify security persons simply by spotting a uniform. If fact, rotating security people weekly between campuses might be a good idea. How about volunteers? I’ve recently learned that some Jewish schools have solved the child assassination problem by using well-armed volunteer fathers in every classroom. Jewish children have been targets for centuries. Jews know more about dealing with assailants than any other group. We, too, could recruit weapons-trained, volunteer fathers to serve for one school day per month. • Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board, the airport authority and as a state assemblyman. His website is www.worldclassentrepreneur.com.