It’s been awhile since I wrote an article here, as I have been focusing primarily on catching up my YouTube channel with videos on the guns I previously had written reviews on. In that time however, I began piecing this article together in my mind. It’s a question I have been asked many times since I became a gun owner, and one that most gun owners have likely been asked themselves. So, if by some stroke of luck, your internet search for answers to the question in the title has landed you here, sit down and get comfortable.
For the purpose of this article, I will be assuming you are asking the question in good faith, with a genuine interest to know why many of us choose to own and even carry a firearm. No, I do not speak for all gun owners, or even anyone other than myself, but I hope this piece may help you understand better the reasons for gun ownership and being armed in public. Let’s start with dispelling some misconceptions.
- It’s not because of fear. I don’t wake up afraid that today will be the day I will be a victim of violent crime. The reality is that violent crime trends have been on a consistent downturn for several years. The world IS getting safer, regardless of the impression given by newspapers and broadcasts daily. For those of us living outside of major metropolitan areas, even more so. BUT, the other reality is that there still exists a segment of humanity who, whether for financial gain, religious motivation, drug dependence, or just unadulterated sociopath or psychopathic tendencies, will not hesitate to harm other human beings. Statistics show that these people are present in all areas to some degree, whether you live in the idyllic, serene countryside, or the bustle of city dwelling. There is someone there who would hurt you, given the right circumstances. I don’t fear those people. Rather, I acknowledge they exist, and I do what I can to be prepared for the off chance that they may become a threat to myself or my family.
- We don’t WANT to shoot anyone. It’s pretty sad that I have to toss this one in, but alas, I do. As I said at the start of this article, I can’t speak for everyone, but I run in a lot of circles, the majority of which consist of people who carry guns daily. None of them want to shoot anyone, and I certainly don’t either. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming consensus seems to be that we all hope we DON’T ever have to shoot anyone. Aside from the moral cost it has on a sane individual to take a human life, or even grievously wound someone, there is also the legal costs of defending oneself, even if such actions were ruled completely justified. Anyone who says they could and would take a life and be fine with it, is either full of shit, to put it bluntly, or mentally unhinged. Most likely the former. Being prepared to defend oneself, and being prepared for the lifetime of second guessing and potential guilt that come along with such actions are two totally different things.
Those are really the two biggest misconceptions I have run across. But there’s more reasons folks choose to own guns than self defense, although that seems to be the biggest reason I have heard from talking to fellow gun owners. Let’s discuss a few of these in a little more depth.
Hunting– Whether you are for it, or against it, it’s legal and it’s popular. While not a hunter myself, many of my friends are. For them, it is an excellent way to put wholesome food on their family’s table and for some, a direct way to engage in conservation efforts. Believe it or not, many species which are hunted here in America are grossly overpopulated. This presents some potentially devastating situations for other species of animals and even vegetation in some cases. Not to mention things such as deer getting hit by cars, which costs BILLIONS in property damage every year, and has resulted in many injuries and deaths as well. Hunting with firearms is probably the most popular way to hunt here in America.
Recreational- While this may surprise you, many of us gun owners really enjoy shooting our guns. For folks like me, who grew up shooting regularly and availed themselves of every opportunity to get behind a trigger, recreational shooting is something we have been doing for years and is a great source of relaxation. Recreational, or target shooting, can be a great exercise in hand-eye coordination and a fun way to challenge yourself to achieve better levels of marksmanship each time you go to the range. In addition to casual, individual shooting, there are many forms of competitive shooting emphasizing speed and accuracy.
Getting back to the defensive side of owning and carrying firearms will require us to get into the many reasons folks decide that they need to take the step to prepare themselves to potentially use deadly force to defend themselves or their families. Many people I know go years owning firearms before they decide to start carrying one on their person daily. Sometimes, this decision is prompted by a violent crime happening near them, to someone they know, or even to them personally. While this may seem like a fear based decision, people that I know who survived a violent encounter and decided to arm themselves going forward are not making that decision out of fear, but rather, a sense of resolve and acknowledgement of the evil that exists. These people are making a commitment to taking the steps necessary to protect themselves should such an event occur again. That takes courage not fear.
For others, the decision to carry a gun may stem from military service or law enforcement experience. Both of these two professions routinely show individuals the ruthless and brutal traits humanity can exhibit. These individuals in many cases have a very visceral knowledge of what some humans can be capable of, and thus wish to be prepared to confront that reality when off duty as well.
The third category of defensive gun owners typically have learned from the other two categories, or have arrived at the decision by their own deductive reasoning.
One last motivation for owning firearms will trace its roots back to the birth of our nation when the founders of this country successfully defeated the tyrannical British empire in a war for our independence. While the degree of tyranny we live under now is wildly debatable, the fact that tyranny can rear its ugly head is not. History has long shown that an armed populace is simply harder to oppress and has a much better chance of preserving individual liberties from a government set on restricting or eliminating them. Most of the folks I know do not advocate overthrowing the government or any such behavior. However, should the United States descend into a dystopian nightmare, privately owned firearms may well be the last recourse for the restoration of liberty for all, gun owners and non gun owners alike.
I hope this may have shed some light on the reasons many of us own firearms. This is by no means an all inclusive list, just my musings as someone who has been shooting guns for over 20 years, and being a gun owner for almost 10 years. Thanks for reading!!