Why carry a gun?
Russ Chastain 07.16.13
Many people in today’s world carry guns. Some of us do it legally, and go out of our way to meet legal requirements and pay the government for permission to exercise the fundamental human right to self-defense. Others do it illegally, and are the main reason why some people choose to arm themselves when they venture away from their homes. In this article, we’ll examine some concerns of proponents and opponents of allowing the law-abiding public to carry guns, and see where they naturally lead us.
Having never lived outside of gun ownership, I have a tough time imagining what it must be like to do so. Guns simply aren’t scary things to me — they are interesting, enjoyable, and very useful tools as well as objects of beauty. But I realize that some people are scared of guns for various reasons, and many people who are not frightened of guns are disturbed by the idea that some people carry them. I must point out that some people will always carry guns, regardless of the law. These are not good people; they are criminals who break laws for a living. They are just as unfazed by anti-gun laws as they are by anti-murder, anti-rape, and anti-theft laws.
No matter which side of the argument you find yourself on, remember that those who wish to legally carry concealed guns are people who do not want to be victims of such miscreants. They are just regular folks like you and me, people with families who would like to legally carry an effective means of defense on their person, just in case they encounter some of the bad folks in a situation where confrontation can’t be avoided. That’s all. They don’t want to shoot anyone, and most pray that never happens… they just want a chance.
I ran across the following quote, credited to one Scotty Reitz, that puts it well: “If some cretin intends to use violence on me, I want to have some input into the decision on whether or not I live or die. Having a firearm on me gives me a bit of choice in the matter.” (Source: Why Carry a Gun?, by Tim Lau)
Let’s look at some assumptions that many people make about gun owners, and especially those gun owners who choose to carry.
- Gun People Think They’re Rambo!
We really don’t. People who carry guns legally don’t wish to use them on others — ever. Sometimes they have to, but only when there is no other option, and choosing the safety of yourself or other victims over the well-being of someone seeking to do you harm is a no-brainer.
- You Have to be Paranoid to Carry a Gun
Not so; in fact, the opposite may be true. Gun owners who carry typically stay away from bad neighborhoods and situations in which conflict is likely… but if circumstances begin to look suspicious, those who go armed can be even more at ease than the unarmed masses. So in essence, we have less to fear than people who go unheeled.
- It’ll be the Wild West All Over Again! They’re Going to Shoot us All!
Um, no. This misconception has been disproven time and time again. In localities where free citizens are allowed to carry guns, crime goes down. The vast majority of gun owners never have to use their guns for defense, and those that do draw their guns usually do not have to fire them. The last thing we want is to have to shoot someone.
- Only the Government Can be Trusted With Guns
This really is how some people think — that the government, which is composed of ordinary people like you and me, is the only entity that can be trusted to have and use firearms. Nothing could be farther from the truth; history shows that governments are the worst abusers of rights and pose a larger threat to our well-being than criminals in the private sector.
- The Police Will Protect me
Even if you set aside the previous point because you believe in the inherent goodness of those who rule, consider how many police officers are likely to be present should you become threatened by a mugger or rapist: zero. The only folks around will probably be you and the bad guy(s). In that scenario, should the bad guys be the only ones who are armed? I think not. After all, when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
Here’s some truth about gun owners and gun toters.
- We Just Want to be Safe
That’s all it is, really… we want to remain secure against those who may seek to do us harm, and a convenient gun is a great tool to help achieve that. And get this: those who carry guns help to protect those who do not carry guns, even when gun-toters are not around, because criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t, which makes them a lot more hesitant to victimize people. Think about it: if everyone were armed, many types of crime would almost cease to exist, because an armed citizen is not a victim.
- Vigilance, not Paranoia
People who choose to carry guns do so not because they live in fear, but because they want to take responsibility for their own safety and that of other innocents. History has shown that nothing short of enduring vigilance can keep us safe in an unsafe world. After all, many notorious mass murders have been committed in “safe” places such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, etc. Keeping such places free of lawful guns is an open invitation to criminals, but the presence of responsible, law-abiding citizens with guns offers a feasible deterrent to mass murder.
- We Don’t Want to Shoot Anyone
It’s true; we do not want to have to drop the hammer on anyone. I can’t think of a much more traumatic experience than having to take a life, unless it’s suffering as a helpless victim under the cruel attentions of a criminal such as a rapist or murderer. No, I don’t ever want to pull a trigger in anger, but if it comes down to a choice between me and a bad guy, I’ll do everything I can to ensure that the bad guy loses.
- It’s a Dangerous World
If this world wasn’t dangerous, we wouldn’t have any debate about guns. But it most certainly is, and one must choose whether to live in denial that anything bad can happen, or accept reality and prepare oneself as best you can to protect yourself and your loved ones from whatever threat may arise.
- Armed Citizens Make Unarmed People Safer
I touched on this earlier, but it bears repetition: any portion of armed, non-criminal citizenry creates a measure of security for everyone else. When the bad guys have to guess at who does or doesn’t have a gun, it makes crime a less attractive career choice. On the other hand, in areas where the law-abiding can’t arm themselves (such as in schools or big cities with strict anti-gun laws), criminals can and do operate boldly.
- Use Your Rights – or Lose Them
Like many, I believe it’s wrong to have to beg permission, submit to scrutiny, and/or bribe the government in order to exercise a right that is not granted by government. That said, I have done so, and I hope that every able-bodied adult will do the same. Because the more of us there are who exercise these civil rights, the harder it will be for the government to steal these and other rights in the future.
- Carrying a Gun is Inconvenient and Uncomfortable
It’s true – toting a gun is a pain. A gun can poke, dig, gouge, protrude, aggravate, and otherwise just be a hassle to keep on your person – especially when you are legally obligated to keep it hidden at all times. But that’s something I’m willing to put up with, just in case someone ever points a gun at me and my family again. Yes, I did say, “again.” It happens, on public streets in broad daylight. One must choose whether to be prepared to resist, or to submit as a lamb to the slaughter.
The Right to Choose
In the end, it’s really about choice. Gun owners basically wish to be secure in our persons, and if things get ugly, we hope for a chance. Criminals do not like a fair fight, and will usually attack without warning, so being armed is not a get-out-of-crime-free card — it’s simply an edge. And for some, it can be a great equalizer. Criminals love to victimize the weak, and most women would have a hard time physically defending against an attack from a man, but having a firearm makes a woman just as powerful as any bad guy with a gun.
In fact, here’s a quote from a woman who regularly carries a firearm:
“Although the stereotype is that gun owners are after some sort of a ‘power rush,’ I never have felt super-powerful or invincible when carrying a gun, nor anything remotely like that. Instead, in a low-key sort of way, I simply feel confident that I am equipped to handle an unpleasant or even deadly situation if I really need to do so. Because I know I could cope with the worst that could happen, I am free to go about my regular business without a lot of that low-level, back-of-the-mind feeling of vulnerability that most women experience on some level in their daily lives (especially when traveling though big cities, or in deserted areas after dark). When I first began carrying, I really liked having that feeling of calm confidence which came from being prepared to cope with the worst life could possibly throw at me, and I wanted to keep feeling it.” (Source: Why I Carry a Gun, by Rachel Chumita)
As you can tell, we “good guys” who carry guns do so for many reasons, and believe strongly that it would be wrong to deny any citizen the right to keep and bear arms in order to defend against any potential threat. We don’t want to kill, but neither do we wish to be killed.
Carrying a gun is not for everyone; that choice is your own to make, and I hope this article helps with that decision.