As our nation commemorates this week the sacrifices of 2,400 of our fellow citizens at Pearl Harbor, and the horrific war fought in the aftermath, there are still lessons we can learn from those sacrifices.

We learned at Pearl Harbor the cost of failing to recognize, and prepare for, the reality of evil in the world. And though experts disagree on what steps might have been taken in a free society to prevent the dastardly strikes on the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, we learned again that day of the reality that evil is real and bad people do want to hurt us.

Now, our nation tries to do a better job at military preparedness, so another Pearl Harbor could never happen. And we seem as a nation committed - perhaps even at the risk of our personal liberties - to improvements in our "homeland" preparedness, against another attack like 9/11.

So here's my call for being better prepared at home, and about our daily lives.

We owe it to ourselves and our families, indeed, we owe it to one another as responsible citizens, to make it as difficult as we can for bad people with evil intent to disrupt our lives and destroy our freedoms.

All of us regularly read or hear the stories of folks who leave their keys in their vehicles and come out to find them stolen. Or how showing signs of being out of town for extended periods of time - such as leaving newspapers to accumulate in the driveway - is an invitation for house burglary. So most of us try to be conscientious about locking our cars and trucks, and taking proper precautions when we are away to have friends keep an eye on our homes.

Candidly, though, most of us would have to admit that we are not nearly as careful about our own safety and that of our families as we are about our vehicles and our homes.

Simple steps such as parking nearer a store and in lighted portions of parking lots when shopping, and scanning the area outside the store before returning to the car, significantly reduce opportunities for those bent on mayhem or robbery to have an advantage. Law enforcement officials always recommend that ladies keep their bags clutched tightly in to their bodies, using both a shoulder strap and a hand on their bags, to keep them as secure as possible and discourage "grab and dash" thieves.

And for some of us, serious consideration must be given to whether and in what circumstances we will choose to be armed for the protection of ourselves, our families, and people around us.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution was not included merely to protect the right of hunters to keep shotguns for bird hunting, as some opponents of personal ownership of firearms for personal defense have argued. Fortunately, in two very important cases in the past two years, the United States Supreme Court has flatly ruled that neither the District of Columbia nor the several states may prohibit law abiding citizens from owning guns, including those owned only for personal protection.

Over the past two decades, virtually every state has adopted some form of a personal carry law, allowing citizens legally to carry their sidearms with them in public.

When these laws began to proliferate around the country, editorial boards from the left predictably wailed that an increase in gun crimes would soon follow. But the facts are exactly the opposite.

Where people without criminal backgrounds are allowed to carry personal defense firearms, violent crime has gone down in location after location. Simply stated, bad guys do not want to rumble with a person who might reasonably be believed to be armed and willing to use a weapon for personal protection.

So here's a call to arms, quite literally. If you are a gun owner, and can use your weapon safely and responsibly, think seriously about whether you might owe a duty to yourself, your family and your neighbors to carry a sidearm in public. Even if not, hold yourself as though you might well be armed. Ladies can keep a hand inside their purses and look people in the eye as they approach in a parking lot. Gentlemen should keep a hand in a coat pocket and walk confidently and tall. And if that hand clutches a personal defense arm, so much the better.

Bad guys won't like it. That's a good thing.

Andy Taggart of Madison is an attorney with the firm of Taggart, Rimes & Usry, PLLC, and a frequent political commentator in print and on WLBT TV3's weekly "Red Blue Review". He may be reached at