My fiancé and I vehemently disagree on whether we should acquire a firearm (and of course be trained in how to use it) for home safety purposes. I'm very much in favor of owning a gun so that we have a means to protect our family, but the fiancé worries that the risks of having one in the home outweigh the benefits.
What are the most persuasive arguments in favor of owning a firearm?
Answer by Barkha Herman
I had a friend who was raped in her home when she was young. She became a gun enthusiast, and learnt how to defend herself. She slept a lot better after that.
When my daughter was 8 months old, we visited another friends house. My friend brought out some old toys for her to play with - among which as a toy gun. It did not have any projectiles, just made a noise. My daughter did not know what to do with it. She tried holding it in all directions, making it go like a car, couldn't figure out. Stared right into the barrel. No clue what to do with it.
When I got home, I bought her a Nerf gun. I needed her to know what it was so she did not accidently shoot herself (with real or toy guns).
My daughter, now 18, is an excellent marks(wo)man and loves going shooting with me.
Both me and my daughter are trained in martial arts, and are petite. Having sparred with enough men almost twice my size, I have no illusions of defending myself against a large man, intending to do me harm, especially if they surprised me. Huge difference between winning points in a sparring situation and a street fight. I would need the advantage of a gun in the knife / fist fight.
You have to decide at what point the danger outweighs the usefulness of something. It's the entire Prometheus / fire thing. Fire burns - but it's also darn useful. I for one would rather play with the new danger and learn to control it - than to avoid it. You seem the type as well.
Why not start with just taking the lessons, going to the gun range, practice, and see if you love it?
Answer by John Murdoch
One issue to consider is where you and your husband will live. Will you stay in the tony precincts of the South Bay--or move elsewhere?
I live in a rural area--adjacent to a state park. I'm one of the few people in my neighborhood that does not own a gun, and I candidly admit that I'm a freeloader. (I have a mentally-retarded child--no guns.) My mother-in-law lives in south Georgia, about two miles off the paved road. She's in her early 90s, and still loads and shoots a 12 gauge.
Guns aren't just for protection from criminals. The most compelling reason to own a gun is protection from wildlife. That adorable raccoon rustling in your trash cans? There's a strong likelihood that he's carrying rabies. If you see him (a nocturnal animal) in the daylight, it's almost a certainty. Shoot him--before he bites your dog, and before he bites your neighbor's child.
Daughter and Daughter.Husband have guns. He's in the Army--they live off-post. Apparently the local wise guys have figured out that if the battalion is deployed, that means a lot of off-base townhouses are either empty, or populated by victims. One night, right after they moved in, my son-in-law was on duty. Someone tried to jimmy open the back door. Daughter marched up to the back door, pumped the shotgun, and loudly announced, "you need to be somewhere else."
Note that in all of those cases, a shotgun was effective.
I'm not a gun owner. I'm not a gun expert--or even a wannabe. But my son-in-law (SSGT), cousin (SSGT), nephew (CAPT), brother (Lt. Col. Ret.), and brother-in-law (Lt. Col. Ret.) all agree that the best weapon for the home is a well-maintained, frequently-practiced-with shotgun.
Answer by Elizabeth Herring
You will not win this in debate. Instead, agree to take a gun safety class together where professionals can teach her about guns, gun safety, and self-defense. If possible, have her take a ladies shooting class. Let shooting win her over while the professionals erase her fears. Do not start her out as the guys do with the bigger is better approach because high caliber in a small gun will not be comfortable for the female hand, especially in the case of the novice shooter. I started my daughters with a Smith and Wesson Lady Airlight .22 revolver. I think revolvers are simpler for the novice....no magazine to load, no safety to remember, no slide to deal with.... Good luck.
Answer by Tom Lindholtz
Calm reasoned argument for owning a gun. Marksmanship is a "sport" and, like other sports, mastering the disciplines necessary to excel in asports will provide personal enjoyment and some spin-off ancillary benefits.
A gun is nothing more nor less than a tool, an item of property. (In my opinion) the Constitution gives you the right to own a gun. Yes a gun may be dangerous. So is that chefs knife in your kitchen, the power saw in your shop, the car in your garage, etc. Danger, per se, is no reason to avoid something if it will provide utility or enjoyment. Unlike Barkha, I have never known anyone who had any need for protection. That leaves hunting which a number of people I know enjoy.
Bottom line, from a utilitarian perspective, a gun is a tool to kill. a hand gun is a tool to kill people. A rifle is a tool to kill animals. (Generally, you can't get close enough to most animals to kill them with a hand gun, and unless you're a sniper, you're not going to want to kill people at long range.)
I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't observe that, in my opinion, the purchase of a gun commits you to an ongoing expense and time commitment. You need to be shooting regularly to be good enough with a tool to be effective and safe. You will need to buy or reload ammunition. You will need to stay abreast of the legal climate. (Under what conditions can you use deadly force without facing a legal penalty yourself?)
In the end, my two bits, it is a waste of money for most people. The actual risk against which you are protecting yourself is extraordinarily low foremost people. Of course, if it happens, then it is 100%. The protection a gun offers is less than you think for two reasons. First, it is harder to hit something than it looks. (When I qualified with the .45 in the Army, thestandard line was that the effective range of the .45 was as far as you could throw it.) second, it is a lot easier to shoot a black circle on a piece of paper, or a black silhouette than it is to shoot a person. Not to mention the possibility of being disarmed and having your gun used against you. In the end it is easier to increase your safety by exercising care than by shooting a bad guy.
Answer by HVTs
If you follow a few simple guidelines, firearms are less dangerous than a kitchen knife.
1. Obtain professional training in the safe and effective use of firearms.
2. Keep your firearms unloaded and locked up in an appropriate container (or install a trigger lock) when not in use or deployed by your side.
3. Never point a firearm at anything you don't intend to kill, not even if you are certain it's unloaded or you think it's just in jest. Develop the habit of only pointing it at things that you feel must be killed (which includes practice targets), even if stopping it with less-then-deadly force might be possible.
4. Remember that a firearm is most effective not when killing or physically stopping an attacker, but when it buys time for law enforcement to intervene. Your weapon and your cell phone are twins that should not be separated at birth. Shooting someone isn't easy for normal people for a whole host of reasons. You really just want the assailant to leave you alone long enough for help to arrive.
I can't really add anything to the list of reasons why you should have a gun. Actually, I'm not overly convinced they are reasons why you should have a gun unless you live near a gator infested swamp or next to a nuclear factory that produces mutant zombies. But there are plenty of reasons why having a gun is not really an issue. I'll go after the "safety" factor.
My 7 year old daughter nearly cut her thumb off last summer with a utility knife she found in the garage amongst my tools. I mean, we are talking the flesh removed from her first knuckle to her second knuckle, bone showing, blood everywhere, surgery, physical therapy, the whole deal. Do you know how many times she's gone into the garage and gotten something of mine for some nefarious purpose? A million if she's done it once. You know how many times she's gone into my closet and gotten one of my firearms? Never. Not once. None of my kids have. That's because I've always let them look at my firearms when they ask, let them hold them, and taught them to be safe. And when they were old enough I took them out and showed them how to use them. And my dad did the same for me. It's as simple as that.
Answer by Shane McGuire
Children should learn how to respect, and ultimately handle firearms. Parents should be intentional in the way they raise children in this regard, with a view toward their children growing up with a healthy respect of firearms, without irrational fear.
Second, a firearm is much more likely to prevent a home invasion than harm your child, particularly if kept in the right place. A friend's daughter recently suffered a break-in--her husband was out of town, so it was just her and a small child. She shot and killed the intruder. She has emotional trauma from that experience, but she and her child are alive.
Third, your husband will feel more like a man if he's properly trained in how to use firearms. It's a right of passage. He'll be more attractive to you. Trust me.
Lastly, if you get a pump-action shotgun, you may not even need to keep it loaded. The sound of the pump is enough to cause most intruders to flee. And you don't have to be a good shot to knock someone out with a shotgun.
Answer by ChristmasBeard
I'm having the same, albeit internal, debate. And for me it has boiled down to a few points:
- This is a great opportunity to exercise your 2nd Amendment right.
- Making sure that the family is familiar and trained with firearms makes it less "scary" and would likely make everyone more cautious/respectful. Be safe and responsible.
- I would rather have a gun and not need it, than need a gun and not have it. I will defend myself and my family when needed.
Answer by flownover
I read the comments, shotgun is right, as it has multiple uses and it's hard to hit rabid raccoons effectively with a handgun. Self defense is like putting on a seatbelt, the time spent contemplating whether or not to put it on is like arguing with yourself about the acceptable degree of injuries to oneself. Halfbaked ideas about defending yourself against a criminal, probably high on something , who has risked everything to invade your house is like deciding how much they will steal, how much you'll be injured , and who else will get hurt.
After some training in accuracy, then you can decide whether to kneecap them and disable rather than kill. But first protect. If you like, I will introduce you to a nice SF policeman who can explain the threat.
Answer by Steven Potter
I'm a late-comer to the owning of firearms. I started contemplating the issue once I found out my dad was carrying concealed. Our family never owned firearms, except for an old WWI rifle that has been handed-down. Once I left CA, I took the opportunity to go down the path of learning, owning, and carrying.
For me, it came down to the fact that the police are not always there to protect you. Even in the best circumstances it could take some time for the police to show up. Think of the Oklahoma woman who waited 20+ minutes for the cops to show up and had to defend herself and her newborn baby with a shotgun. That may be at an extreme end in terms of waiting for police response, but it still happened. You never need a firearm until you need it, essentially. I've never felt I was in a situation that I needed one and hopefully it stays that way. Mastering the skill of shooting accurately is also fun, in my opinion, albeit expensive.
The one thing to keep in mind is that it is a lifestyle change compared to not owning one. It is learned and not hard to do, as long as you want to have the responsibility. That means learning the safe operation of firearms, and learning the specific operation of your chosen firearm so that when you find yourself in a situation you know how to use it. It is always in my mind that I'm handling something that can potentially be dangerous if I don't respect my responsibility. For me, Jeff Cooper's 4 Rules of gun safety are the commandments to live by for firearm safety. A recent firearm safety course I took added 1 to the end of that list: When not in use, it should be secured (i.e. in a safe) at all times. I'd bet most, if not all, accidental firearm injuries/fatalities that I've heard on the news come from one of those rules being violated. As others before me have stated, it can be safe. I've probably made it sound like a big ordeal handle firearms safely, but it's not. It just requires the willingness to be responsible about it.
One last comment is if you and your fiancé do go down the route of owning a firearm for home defense make sure you understand the laws. Any good introductory firearm course should go over that. If you personally know someone that is a responsible gun-owner ask them for advice on what issues to think about, classes to take, recommendations for what you are looking for, etc.
Answer by HeartofAmerica
We used to have a couple of rifles in the house but we sold them when we had our son. We also had a pistol (inherited from an uncle) stowed away in the house but no ammunition. My son, now an adult and living with us until he heads to grad school, decided it was time to purchase a hand gun but I was against it. After having many discussions about it, I finally relented but put some conditions around it, including taking a firearm class with his father. He has since purchased his own gun, maintains it and uses it at a local state conservation shooting range. It's the same place where he took the class.
I must admit that I have "come around" and have become more comfortable with it. He's even shown me how to load/unload and other safety features regarding the weapon. And after all that...am now considering purchasing a gun for us. If I do, I will attend a class as well. Safety is a must in my opinion. Your fiance might feel more inclined if this is a joint effort: both taking a gun safety class, purchasing the weapon together, planning the storage within your home and occasionally going to the shooting range together.
Answer by skipsul
This will sound glib, but:
When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
On a serious note, please read the following post from last year from member Wacky Hermit:
You won't win this argument by arguing - experience is best here. Your fiance seems afraid of guns as one would be afraid of monsters, only the wisdom of real experience here will change that.
Answer by Ameriherron
I have an AR-15, and that revelation is invariably followed by the inquiry "why do you need that?" to which I invariably respond, "I hope I never do."
I will not need a gun until I find myself in a situation that necessitates it. I want to hunt. I want to become an able marksman. I want to learn about maintenance and operation. I want all of these things now in the hope that they will not one day be necessary for my survival or freedom. The day we truly need firearms in America, God help us all.
Most people today seem to think they do not need a firearm. I understand why. The average American has lived in relative peace for several decades. That is why they ask "why do you need that?" All they expect is more peace and safety because they have not experienced any different.
I, too, have only known peace, and I hope for more, but history is replete with people hoping for peace that received anything but. Given human nature and history with its innumerable slaughters of unarmed, unprepared, and unexpecting victims, I would prefer to live as the weirdo with an unnecessary AR-15 than the voice in the wilderness crying, "I told you so."
That is the trajectory (pun not intended) of my argument.
Answer by M1919A4
Ma'am, I am, first of all, surprised that your finance would argue with anything that you wanted. If I were he, I'd agree to having a 'gator in the kitchen, if it were a condition of marrrying you.
On the subject of having a firearm in the house, I'd remind him that a firearm is nothing more than a tool, akin to a circular saw or an axe, good for some things, not so good for others. If I were trying to start a fire in the wilderness, I'd prefer the axe; if I were building a house, I'd want the circular saw. But, if I were confronting a bandit, I'd want the firearm. And, MY firearm of choice for home defense is the one mentioned so often above: a pump action shotgun in 12 gauge. Remington (the model 870), Mossberg (the 500 series) and Benelli (the Nova series) all make fine defense guns. (I load mine with a "turkey" load in the first position in the magazine, follow it with low recoil buckshot, and keep it beside my bed, action tripped, that is, the striker "fired" and the safety off. In that condition, all I need to do is rack the slide once and commence firing.)
Never once have my three daughters, even when they were little girls, "fooled" with Daddy's firearms. Early on, we had a session in which I explained the purpose of the pistol that I kept beside my bed when they were young and I supplied each one with an S&W .38 when they went to college. Even with many other youngsters, nieces and nephews, and, now, grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews around the house, we have never had any kind of episode with a firearm. The key, I think, is NOT to make a big deal about them. They are meant to kill, humans or lesser creatures, and there is neither fun nor glory in using them for their intended purpose.
Get your fellow to familiarize himself with firearms at a range (a skeet or trap range is a good start). If he is the man you deserve, he'll enjoy mastering a new challenge and will shed the instinctive aversion to the sound of the discharge and the destruction at the end of the bullet's flight.