Contributor Post Created with Sketch. So You’ve Decided Not to Own a Gun…

 

shutterstock_406864429Author’s Note: One of the nice things about being a member of Ricochet is participating in the robust discussions in the Member Feed and joining in on the activities there, such as topic-specific group writing projects. This month, the topic is guns, and this is my contribution. If you like this sort of thing and want to add something the conversation, please consider joining Ricochet.com.

I recently attended the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting, and given the title of this post and the NRA’s reputation, I’ll bet you’re expecting me to write a long missive about why gun ownership is for everyone and you’re crazy if you don’t want to own a gun.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many good reasons not to own a gun, and gun ownership is not to be taken lightly. Taking control of your personal security and the security of your loved ones is one of the most adult decisions you can make in your life and, sometimes, the answer to that question is “no.”

I’m fine with people making the decision not to own a gun. There are some people out there who are just not emotionally capable of having routine access to a compact means of applying deadly force. There are some people who live in California, New York, and other places outside of America who don’t see the hassle of owning a gun there as worth the trouble it brings, and still others rely on the herd immunity that an armed citizenry provides them. It’s all good: Just let me chose to arm myself, and I’ll let you chose to not arm yourself.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be safe.

I talk about “situational awareness” quite a lot because it works. To put it bluntly, if you’d don’t look or act like prey, you won’t get eaten and, if you don’t look or act like a victim, you won’t be one. Aside from active shooters who want nothing more than your death, criminals look for victims that offer the best risk/reward possible. There are reasons why lions attack the sick and the very young, and there are reasons why crooks prefer their victims unaware and unarmed. Let’s walk through the victim selection that a typical crook might use:

  1. Does the victim have something I want?
    Are you acting like you have something that the crook might consider risking his/her life for? Is that something you can hide from him/her?
    It’s interesting to note here that guns* and drugs are two things that crooks consider to be more valuable than cold, hard cash. Be very careful about how you refill your prescriptions, and maybe you should re-consider that “I DIAL 1911, NOT 911” bumper sticker on your car.**
  2. Does the potential victim look like a victim?
    Crooks tend to take the path of least resistance, or at least the perceived path of least resistance. If you look and act like you’re aware of your surroundings and can handle yourself, they’ll move on to someone else.
  3. Is there an opportunity for me to act?
    Tom Givens, one of the smartest firearms trainers out there, says that for the armed civilian, there is no such thing as “street crime,” there is only parking lot crime, because crooks tend to strike when we are transitioning from one location to another, such as from a store to our car. This is true in the larger sense as well, as responsible citizens tend to avoid the stupid places, but get caught when they are on the fringes of a high-crime area.

If the answer to any one of those questions is “no,” you don’t look or act like a victim, the crook moves on to someone else, and you didn’t need a gun. This means that a gun is only needed if, for some reason, you or the crook makes an error in that process and decides to commit a violent, life-threatening crime against a gun owner. Then, and only then, would a legally-owned firearm come into play.

Not everyone needs to own a firearm because, as we’ve just seen, the odds of needing one to defend yourself are low, and the game can easily be tilted in your favor. However, while the chances of needing a gun are small, the stakes in the game are quite literally mortal. If you choose to play, play to win.


* I openly-carried a sidearm on occasion when I lived in Arizona, and if Florida was an open-carry state, I’d do it here as well. However, please consider that, to a crook, showing that you have a gun on your person is like showing that you have a half-dozen or more $100 bills stapled to your shirt, and let that reality guide your decision to open-carry.

** Your goal as a responsible gun owner is to never, ever hear the words “Your Honor, the prosecution would like to enter into evidence…” applied to anything you do or own. If (God forbid) you have to use a firearm to defend your life, does a bumper sticker like that help you make the case you acted responsibly, or hinder it?

There are 25 comments.

  1. Kozak Member

    Kevin Creighton: I’m fine with people making the decision not to own a gun. There are some people out there who are just not emotionally capable of having routine access to a compact means of applying deadly force.

    Me too. Just don’t try and force me into the position by taking away my rights.

    • #1
    • May 24, 2016, at 5:48 AM PST
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  2. Vectorman Thatcher

    Kevin, thanks for being part of our May Group Writing Series on Firearms.

    For Ricochet members, you can join our June Group Writing Series on what Bugs you. Never started a conversation before? You can sign up here and have a great possibility of being promoted to the main feed, such as this recent one about Concealed Carry – A Woman’s Perspective.

    • #2
    • May 24, 2016, at 5:52 AM PST
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  3. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    When I moved from South Carolina to Georgia, I had to apply for a new carry permit. While reading the rules, I was surprised to discover that Georgia’s permit authorizes both concealed and open carry. My South Carolina permit only authorized concealed carry, so I’d never really thought about it.

    Then, in the process of applying, I spent some time chatting with the sheriff’s deputy who took my fingerprints — he strongly encouraged open carry as a deterrent to criminals. So I spent several years mostly carrying openly.

    I’ve since learned to pick the right holster, and conceal most of the time, but still open carry at times. It’s particularly handy when I expect to enter a gun-free zone and need to disarm/re-arm easily.

    I’m no longer so sure the deputy’s advice was as good for me as it might have been good for the community as a whole, but I appreciate the extra freedom in Georgia.

    • #3
    • May 24, 2016, at 5:58 AM PST
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  4. Aaron Miller Member

    On a related note, did you know that it is illegal to carry a Bowie knife in Texas? The 2nd Amendment regards “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”, not just a right to bear firearms.

    • #4
    • May 24, 2016, at 5:59 AM PST
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  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    My mother and my wife are individuals I would prefer not to carry a gun. They would not do the work to keep and understand their weaponry as well as not having the personality type that I would want to make the quick decisions necessary in a life and death situation. In both case I have given them stun gun / flash lights. (link below) While not a definitive as a gun it does at least give them a surprise and some additional fightback protection. There are many forms of self defense weaponry and a person should choose the one that is best for them and their situation.

    http://www.amazon.com/Guard-Dog-Security-Concealed-Flashlight/dp/B00BP3UNNA?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00

    • #5
    • May 24, 2016, at 6:40 AM PST
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  6. Austin Murrey Inactive

    Aaron Miller:On a related note, did you know that it is illegal to carry a Bowie knife in Texas? The 2nd Amendment regards “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”, not just a right to bear firearms.

    I think it’s illegal to carry a switchblade or OTF knife as well.

    I love Texas dearly but we’ve got some screwy laws on the books.

    • #6
    • May 24, 2016, at 7:10 AM PST
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  7. KC Mulville Inactive

    I’m an unashamed free-rider.

    In my opinion, the chief benefit of gun ownership is the uncertainty that it creates in anyone or any group who would rob or attack my home. It doesn’t matter whether I actually have a gun individually; what matters is if the potential attackers believe there’s a strong possibility that I might have one. Therefore, we all benefit if gun ownership is widespread; but I benefit whether I own a gun or not.

    As it is, I have no objection to owning a gun, but based on my video game experience, I’m more likely to hit the neighbor’s cat than any bad guy.

    • #7
    • May 24, 2016, at 7:27 AM PST
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  8. Aaron Miller Member

    I don’t own a handgun mainly because I can’t yet afford the related expenses of ammunition, practice, and training.

    In the meantime, I’ve got a mean stare.

    • #8
    • May 24, 2016, at 7:43 AM PST
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  9. David Carroll Thatcher

    * I openly-carried a sidearm on occasion when I lived in Arizona, and if Florida was an open-carry state, I’d do it here as well. However, please consider that, to a crook, showing that you have a gun on your person is like showing that you have a half-dozen or more $100 bills stapled to your shirt, and let that reality guide your decision to open-carry.

    I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    • #9
    • May 24, 2016, at 8:04 AM PST
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  10. David Carroll Thatcher

    In additional to self defense, the Second Amendment is also about the States’ rights to a militia which many of us believe was intended to be (in part) a deterrent to Federal tyranny (obviously an ineffective deterrent in recent years).

    To that end, I am perfectly happy with progressives making the personal decision not to own a gun.

    • #10
    • May 24, 2016, at 8:08 AM PST
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  11. danok1 Member

    David Carroll: I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    I’d like to see some statistics on this. I see a google search in my future.

    • #11
    • May 24, 2016, at 8:22 AM PST
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  12. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    David Carroll:

    * I openly-carried a sidearm on occasion when I lived in Arizona, and if Florida was an open-carry state, I’d do it here as well. However, please consider that, to a crook, showing that you have a gun on your person is like showing that you have a half-dozen or more $100 bills stapled to your shirt, and let that reality guide your decision to open-carry.

    I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    Guns are a high-risk, high-reward item for the crook because to him, they’re worth more than cash is.

    • #12
    • May 24, 2016, at 9:03 AM PST
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  13. Austin Murrey Inactive

    Kevin Creighton:

    David Carroll:

    * I openly-carried a sidearm on occasion when I lived in Arizona, and if Florida was an open-carry state, I’d do it here as well. However, please consider that, to a crook, showing that you have a gun on your person is like showing that you have a half-dozen or more $100 bills stapled to your shirt, and let that reality guide your decision to open-carry.

    I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    Guns are a high-risk, high-reward item for the crook because to him, they’re worth more than cash is.

    Particularly when there’s no good way to connect them to him – like if the owner is dead.

    • #13
    • May 24, 2016, at 9:53 AM PST
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  14. GrannyDude Member

    Austin Murrey:

    Kevin Creighton:

    David Carroll:

    * I openly-carried a sidearm on occasion when I lived in Arizona, and if Florida was an open-carry state, I’d do it here as well. However, please consider that, to a crook, showing that you have a gun on your person is like showing that you have a half-dozen or more $100 bills stapled to your shirt, and let that reality guide your decision to open-carry.

    I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    Guns are a high-risk, high-reward item for the crook because to him, they’re worth more than cash is.

    Particularly when there’s no good way to connect them to him – like if the owner is dead.

    And depending on how desperate the crook is (not financially, mind, just pharmaceutically). Drug addicts do incredibly stupid things out of desperation. If your local heroin dealer breaks into your house to get that small, valuable object he saw strapped to your hip earlier in the day, winning the fight will be a very unpleasant experience for you and yours.

    Anyway, nice OP Kevin! I’m a free rider myself—literally, now that I think of it, since I ride around with armed guys for a living.

    • #14
    • May 24, 2016, at 11:08 AM PST
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  15. Gary McVey Contributor

    A great post, Kevin. You’d be a fine spokesman for most any cause you took up.

    • #15
    • May 24, 2016, at 11:17 AM PST
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  16. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    The costs involved in gun ownership, as Aaron Miller pointed out, can be quite high. The weapon itself, membership in a range where one can practice on a regular basis, holsters, safe storage for the weapon when not being carried, etc, all add up to a fair sized investment. Then there are things like insurance payable in the event that you are involved in a justified shooting. It can be a great deal of money, and many, I am sure, do not feel it is worth the investment.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with those who choose to not own or carry a firearm so long as they do not try to impose their choice on me. I felt the same way about military service. There are those who fit in, and those who are better doing something else for their own safety and that of others.

    • #16
    • May 24, 2016, at 12:29 PM PST
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  17. Kozak Member

    Fake John/Jane Galt: There are many forms of self defense weaponry and a person should choose the one that is best for them and their situation.

    My CCW teacher recommended if were going to carry, we should also have pepper spray or a stun gun to use as an option, to avoid potential deadly force depending on the situation we found ourselves.

    So I frequently leave the house with my pistol, pepper spray a stun gun and what amounts to brass knuckles on my keychain…

    41kx+DFn4gL

    my daughter has the keychain on her keys ( and a stun gun in her purse).

    • #17
    • May 24, 2016, at 12:42 PM PST
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  18. Kozak Member

    KC Mulville: In my opinion, the chief benefit of gun ownership is the uncertainty that it creates in anyone or any group who would rob or attack my home. It doesn’t matter whether I actually have a gun individually; what matters is if the potential attackers believe there’s a strong possibility that I might have one.

    Why I love this idea….

    Yard_sign

    • #18
    • May 24, 2016, at 12:45 PM PST
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  19. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Kozak:

    Fake John/Jane Galt: There are many forms of self defense weaponry and a person should choose the one that is best for them and their situation.

    My CCW teacher recommended if were going to carry, we should also have pepper spray or a stun gun to use as an option, to avoid potential deadly force depending on the situation we found ourselves.

    So I frequently leave the house with my pistol, pepper spray a stun gun and what amounts to brass knuckles on my keychain…

    41kx+DFn4gL

    my daughter has the keychain on her keys ( and a stun gun in her purse).

    I agree, I carry my pistol. (S&W .38 airweight humpback), as well as pepper spray, tactical flashlight / stun gun / glass breaker, expandable baton, etc. Some are on me directly some in my truck or computer bag. Every situation may need a different weapon so it is best to have an assortment. Example, a while back a friend of mine asked me over to help talk with his kid that has a drug issue. He was scared what the young man might do when confronted. The stun light and baton were the tools for this job. Shooting a friends kid even if he is in his 20s and on drugs tends to put a strain on a friendship. Luckily the boy was in a crying mood and not a fighting mood but you never know what you are going to run into.

    • #19
    • May 24, 2016, at 2:31 PM PST
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  20. wilber forge Member

    Aaron Miller:On a related note, did you know that it is illegal to carry a Bowie knife in Texas? The 2nd Amendment regards “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”, not just a right to bear firearms.

    Cannot carry an old fashioned Sap either. For some reason using a blunt instrument for defense ( An Ax for instance ) is frowned upon –

    • #20
    • May 24, 2016, at 4:38 PM PST
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  21. Gary McVey Contributor

    On late night TV I often watch reruns of “Perry Mason” (1957-65), and of course it’s a different world. One recurring thing that always makes me laugh is the utter casualness–“Well, let’s see…I always keep an extra gun in the glove compartment, and my desk drawer at home, and I never lock my car or my front door, so I guess it could be my gun…”

    Another Masonism: “I feel so much better after giving my secretary a gun…”

    Which she’s never fired and doesn’t know how to hold properly.

    After we’ve already established that she’s a flighty alcoholic who sees ghosts.

    It’s funny to bring this stuff up, fifty years later. But it’s nice to know that the actual experts see what’s wrong in these premises. Kevin’s right in his intro: don’t stereotype gun owners as believing that everyone should carry. Some can’t, some shouldn’t.

    • #21
    • May 24, 2016, at 4:50 PM PST
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  22. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Eugene Kriegsmann: The costs involved in gun ownership, as Aaron Miller pointed out, can be quite high. The weapon itself, membership in a range where one can practice on a regular basis, holsters, safe storage for the weapon when not being carried, etc, all add up to a fair sized investment.

    About ten grand, all tolled.

    If you want to be competent with your firearm(s) of choice, figure on spending at least twice again the money you spent on your gun for ammo, training and gear. A $500 pistol should be accompanied with 500-1000 rounds of rounds of ammo ($300 or so), a defensive pistol class ($200 on up, the more $$$, the more you learn), range fees, defensive ammo, holsters, belts, magazines, etc.

    You’re looking at a $1500 or so investment to be competent with a defensive pistol. Yes, that seems expensive, and there’s really very little chance you’ll need to use it, but if you do need it, there will not be an effective substitute for having the will and the skill to defend what matters most to you.

    • #22
    • May 25, 2016, at 5:40 AM PST
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  23. David Carroll Thatcher

    danok1:

    David Carroll: I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    I’d like to see some statistics on this. I see a google search in my future.

    Please share any statistics you may find. I am occasionally in communication with John Lott, Author of More Guns, Less Crime. I will ask him.

    So far, all I have seen are opinions on both sides, not evidence in the way of statistics.

    I am sure it is situational. If the criminal merely sees an unidentified citizen armed in public, the criminal is unlikely to find that person’s home for a later burglary. If the criminal is high on crack or something that makes the criminal feel invincible, maybe the criminal will make a try for a holstered gun. But I would still suspect the criminal will go for the easiest, least risky target for money. Still, it is certainly true today that the visible firearm makes the armed citizen stand out from the crowd.

    If the criminal is merely looking for a safe, easy target, the gun is likely a deterrent, it seems to me, unless the criminal is a well-practiced pickpocket.

    • #23
    • May 25, 2016, at 10:06 AM PST
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  24. Kozak Member

    David Carroll:

    danok1:

    David Carroll: I am not so sure this is true. I think criminals prefer an easy mark. An open-carrier looks like a tough win. The open carrier sends the message that the potential victim is prepared to defend life and property.

    I’d like to see some statistics on this. I see a google search in my future.

    Please share any statistics you may find. I am occasionally in communication with John Lott, Author of More Guns, Less Crime. I will ask him.

    So far, all I have seen are opinions on both sides, not evidence in the way of statistics.

    I wonder how many times the criminal wonders if the open carrier is actually a LEO….

    • #24
    • May 25, 2016, at 1:56 PM PST
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  25. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Kozak: I wonder how many times the criminal wonders if the open carrier is actually a LEO….

    Plausible. Back when I open-carried more often, I’d occasionally be asked if I was an off-duty cop. Sometimes followed by hostility when the answer was “no”. { Based on the lack of southern accents, I’d guess those were visitors or transplants that hadn’t acclimated to Georgia yet. :-) }

    • #25
    • May 25, 2016, at 2:08 PM PST
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