I have to deal with both everywhere I go, even at my church... The real friends ask me for advise, ask me to help them locate a specific type of gun, or schedule private lessons. The others walk uneasily around me as if I am a case of sweating dynamite that, if not handled properly, will explode. These are the same people that have never had any sort of physical confrontation with anyone in their life, and for some reason they often deem themselves stationed at a level "above" those that would resort to violence. Now... Of course, if on some Sunday morning some islamofacist decided that he would come into our church and take out a bunch of Christians, these same people would be looking to me and a few of my students to solve the problem for all of us... There are "sheepdogs" among the flock (pun intended.) If it ever comes down to it, we will take care of the problem should it occur. When someone gets the nerve up to question me as to how I can teach others to kill with such efficiency (as in my "Tactical Anatomy" class) I just tell them to go look up Psalm 144:1.
It's like the old saying goes: "An armed society is a polite society." I treat everyone nice... I smile and say "Hello!"... I play with the kids and complement the babies... But nothing changes the parameters of how I am treated by the "friendlies."
I agree with you that it is a good reputation to have. In regard to your "moments of introspection" I would just say that we are who we are... We can't "unlearn" what we know or change how we react to a threat. But the good thing is that we don't have to. I've been through some "very stressful" situations in my time where firearms were involved (let's leave it at that) and have mornings that I get up and ask "Am I a good person?" and I know the answer is "yes."
I teach law enforcement agencies and military units in large classes, and civilians in private instruction... I know that what I am teaching them, based upon years of everyday experience and my combat experiences, will help them get home to their families. I am doing a good thing in my work - that I know for sure.
And those people that "just don't get us"? Well, they are the ones with the problem - not us... They are the ones that will be found with the phone in their hands by the homocide detective there to work the latest case of (choose one) home invasion; car jacking; street mugging; rape; or "he looked at me disrespectfully" that turned into a murder.
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, we are who we are. I think most people have the potential. Unfortunately, one cannot pick up a lifetime of skills, attitudes, and worldview in an afternoon.