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Reasons For And Against Having A Gun For Self Defense

Updated on June 24, 2015
Ruger LCR double-action revolver in .22 caliber.
Ruger LCR double-action revolver in .22 caliber. | Source

Guns For Self Defense

There are many good reasons to own guns including target shooting, hunting, and competition, but one of the most common reasons is for protection.

Many people see guns as being evil and gun owners as crazy. Even with these social stigmas attached, what makes firearms such a commonly chosen self-defense option among law-abiding citizens?

Equalizer

Guns are the only realistic way for the weak to defend against the strong. If you’re a 110 pound woman or an 80 year-old man, you really don’t have any reasonable chance of physically defending yourself against a larger person who is at the peak of his strength. Attackers know this. They specifically target the people who appear weak and defenseless.

Even if you’re in the prime of your life, most people won’t be able to defend themselves against multiple attackers. It’s not uncommon for a group of punks to gang up on an individual. They feel the strength their number and the weakness in yours.

In these situations, a gun can mean the difference between sleeping in your own bed that night or spending days or weeks recovering from injuries - or worse!

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Simple

Guns are easy to operate. They are simple machines and there isn’t much to know. You can become well-acquainted with their operation in an afternoon.

Learning good tactics for using a gun (efficiently drawing it from the holster, maneuvering, etc) takes a bit longer. There are classes available in many locations to teach you these things and allow you to practice. There are also many online resources that can explain the concepts.

Compare this to something like martial arts. It can take years to become proficient and takes frequent training sessions to stay that way. Most people don’t have the time or the dedication to do this. Many people aren’t physically capable of hand-to-hand combat. You can’t expect Grandma to duke it out with a burglar!

Reliable

Guns are very reliable even with minimal care. They fire when you pull the trigger and they don’t fire when you don’t pull the trigger. Take them to the shooting range on occasion. A few times a year would be enough, although more often would be better. That will help you stay comfortable with their operation. Clean them afterwards and they’ll be ready to use when you need them.

You may sometimes hear news stories where someone says that the gun "just went off". That doesn't really happen. A gun won't fire unless its trigger is pulled. What is much more likely to happen is that someone is holding the gun with their finger on the trigger (always a bad idea unless you intend to shoot at that moment) and they accidentally pull the trigger. They may have been startled or may have tripped over something. Either way, the gun fired because the trigger was pulled.

This is often referred to as an "accidental discharge". A more accurate description is "negligent discharge"; the gun fired not on its own, but because the person holding it was negligent.

Effective

Guns are very effective at ending an attack. Most of the time, the act of drawing the gun will cause the attacker to break off the attack and leave the scene. He won’t expect you to have any ability to defend yourself; that's why he selected you in the first place. When he sees that you're armed, he’ll often decide to go after an easier target instead.

If he chooses to continue his attack, a gun gives you the means to defend against the attack with minimal risk to yourself and your family. You need to be willing to take that step as a last resort.

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Immediate

The police cannot protect you; there aren’t enough of them. They can’t be everywhere at once and it takes time to get from one part of town to another. By the time they arrive at the scene, all they can do is file a report. A common saying among gun owners is, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

If you have a gun, your means of defending yourself is immediate. You don’t have to call 911 and hope that someone responds in time.

Good Reasons for NOT Having A Gun

While guns can be very effective for self defense, no tool is perfect in all situations. There are some circumstances where a gun may not be the right choice for you. If you fall into one or more of the following situations, you may want to consider a less effective alternative.

Legally Prohibited

If you are legally prohibited from owning a gun, then you should not have one. There are many reasons why you could be prohibited. Because of the inconsistent laws regarding firearms, these reasons often depend on your state of residence. Typical reasons include:

  • You’re a convicted felon.
  • There’s an active restraining order against you.
  • You’ve been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.
  • You live in a location that is somehow allowed to restrict your constitutional rights.

Irresponsible

If you’re inherently irresponsible, a gun may not be a good solution for you. We all know people like this; maybe you're one of them. They’re never sure where their car keys are, they’re always late, they may or may not file their taxes on time (if at all), etc.

A gun is a serious piece of equipment and there may be serious results if mishandled, misplaced, or used under circumstances that aren't justified. Before you take the serious step of gun ownership, get your act together.

Family Circumstances

If a member of your immediate family has mental health problems, think hard before getting a firearm. This is especially true if you aren’t 100% certain that this person cannot possibly access your gun. A sturdy safe where you are the only person with the combination is the minimum level of protection you need in these circumstances.

An unstable family member can be a potential tragedy. Adam Lanza, a 20 year-old male with mental problems gained access to his mother’s guns. He went on to kill his mother at home and 20 elementary school children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before taking his own life.

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Clinically Depressed

If you or someone in your household are clinically depressed or potentially suicidal, it may not be a good idea to have firearms readily available.

Sometimes, a depressed person will make an unsuccessful attempt at suicide as a way of calling out for help. They may overdose on prescription drugs, cut themselves, or harm themselves in some other way.

Having a gun available greatly increases their chances of success on their first try. What began as a call for help turns into a quick and permanent solution to what may have been a temporary problem.

Moral Objection

If you have a serious moral objection to the possibility of using lethal force to protect your life and the lives of your family, you shouldn’t own a gun. I can respect that decision even if I don’t agree with it. All I is ask is that you don’t try to prevent other responsible people from making their own decisions in this matter, even if those decisions differ from yours.

Substance Abuse

If you have major substance abuse problems, firearm ownership is probably a bad idea. Substance abuse affects your judgement and could lead to poor decisions with dire consequences. It probably also means that you're involved with the wrong crowd. Get clean before considering firearms.

Domestic Violence

If there is domestic violence in your home, owning a gun may be a bad idea. It would be much better to escape the situation rather than fight. Put as much distance as possible between you and the violence. Domestic violence can quickly escalate out of control resulting in the gun being used by the attacker or the defender. There’s no good reason to stay in that situation and knowingly take the risk.

Conclusion

Owning a gun for protection is a big step that should not be taken lightly. Ask yourself if you’re ready for the responsibility of owning - and potentially using - a firearm. If you think you are, get the necessary training to be as prepared as possible.

Related Information

Basic Rules of Safe and Responsible Gun Handling

These gun safety tips will help you understand how to handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner.

Guns - Tools for Protection or Evil Instruments of Death?

With gun-related violence in the headlines nearly every day, we have to ask: Are firearms a menace to society or do they have some redeeming value?

Situational Awareness - Increase Personal Safety Through Awareness of Your Surroundings

Keeping aware of your surroundings can help you stay safe from accidents and crime.

© 2014 Ron Bergeron

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      Kevin Kristofer 2 years ago from Portland Oregon

      Very good piece. You did however leave out another reason why not to own a gun. Timid people or those who lack fast and definitive decision making skills. Less than 1% of the time a potential victim pulls a gun to defend themselves, it is used against them. This could be further reduced by those who are unsure of themselves, not having it to begin with. Not to mention, a trait that should be improved in those who feel that way about themselves.

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      Ron Bergeron 2 years ago from Massachusetts, US

      Good point, Kevin. Hopefully anyone who chooses to take on the responsibility of gun ownership would seek out sufficient training to have confidence in not only HOW to use it but also WHEN (and when NOT) to use it.

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      Kevin Kristofer 2 years ago from Portland Oregon

      Well yea but knowing when you are in a potentially deadly situation is something we should all know, whether we own a weapon or not. Some of us are simply not capable of recognizing such a situation even if we are in one. That's a whole different story and much more complicated though.

    • ronbergeron profile image
      Author

      Ron Bergeron 2 years ago from Massachusetts, US

      True. That's more in line with my "Situational Awareness" HUB. I just added a link to that in the "Related Information" section above.

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