Answering The Tough Question: Should I Buy A Gun
Several years ago I went through some difficult deliberations with myself regarding whether or not to own a gun for self-defense. My wife and I had just experienced the second theft of an automobile from the parking area immediately outside our front door, prompting keen awareness that perhaps our home was vulnerable to invasion as well. There had been a number of recent home break-ins and brutal physical assaults on residents in other very nice Houston neighborhoods which greatly heightened our concern.
I had some limited experience with firearms at the time, having begun with BB guns as a youngster, graduating to small .22 caliber plinking rifles, and receiving some basic training with larger caliber arms in the military. However, my U.S. Air Force service as an air traffic controller “talking in” aircraft with radar for low-visibility landings didn’t involve carrying a weapon. Later, as a married graduate student living in a mobile home park where there had been some troubling incidents, I acquired an old WWII .32 caliber semiautomatic Beretta pistol, one I had never even practice-shot, but still owned. Yet I had no confidence, whatsoever, that either it or I could be counted on in an emergency.
There is a tremendous interest in firearms ownership right now. Firearms ownership has been on the rise for the last ten years or more, with no end in sight. There are many reasons for this surge in gun ownership. Five or ten years ago, people were worried that shifting government regulations would result in the banning or confiscation of popular firearms like the AR-15. The upcoming election has driven those worries once again, making the AR a hot seller once again. Add in the reality of violent protests in the streets of this nation, and it’s little wonder that firearms sales are breaking records every month.
As a result, (and because of what I do for a living) I have fielded quite a few questions from my friends and family about what gun they should buy. The first question to ask, though, isn’t “what gun should I buy,” it’s “why should I buy a gun?” Gun ownership is not to be taken lightly. Guns, when used improperly or for the wrong purposes, can and do cause tremendous pain and suffering in our society. Therefore, the decision as to whether you should buy a gun for the first time is never an automatic “yes.”
The Answer “To Should I Buy A Gun?” Isn’t Always “Yes”
Gun ownership is not to be taken lightly. There are many good reasons not to own a gun. 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. Sometimes, the answer to the gun ownership question is “No.”
There might be legal reasons why you can’t own a gun. When I worked in a gun store, I had more than a few customers find out they were legally barred from owning a gun. Usually, it was because of a long-forgotten run-in with the law in their past. If you can’t legally own a gun, please don’t have someone else buy them for you. That’s called a “straw purchase” and it’s a felony.
Secondly, be very cautious if there is someone who lives with you who cannot or should not be around guns due to medical or psychological reasons. There are also some people out there who are just not emotionally capable of having routine access to a compact means of applying deadly force such as a gun. If this is your situation, be very, very careful about how you store your guns. Keep them locked up when not in use, and keep the keys secure as well. Better still, maybe look at less-lethal options like pepper spray for self-defense, rather than a firearm.
Your Choice To Buy A Gun Is Your Choice
Thirdly, you may decide you don’t need a gun for moral or ethical reasons. I respect those decisions, as long as you make them with a basis of rational thinking and personal choice. However, I have less respect for deciding not to buy a gun if it’s made because of uneducated fear or mindless hoplophobia. I do have one caveat on this, though. I am okay with people deciding not to own guns. To be clear, I am not okay with people telling me I shouldn’t own one. Let me choose to arm myself, and I’ll let you choose to not arm yourself.
Lastly, 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. We can talk about how this situation may or may not infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights in those states at a later time. What we can do right now is accept that all those rules and regulations represent an uphill climb for many potential legal gun owners and that people should get involved in their local state gun rights organization. Jumping through the hoops of licensing fees, wait times and limited gun choices might be too much for some people in states with limited or restricted gun rights. Ramping up situational awareness, less-lethal options, and another self-defense training is probably best in those kinds of situations.
It’s A Family Affair
Only you can answer the question “Should I buy a gun?” In some ways, it’s a personal decision. It radically changes your relationship with your loved ones and society as a whole. However, deciding to own a gun alters your relationship with your loved ones. Your role in your relationship changes if you’ve decided to arm yourself. As such, it’s also a decision you should make in conjunction with your family, especially if you are the head of the household.
As I said, in many ways, deciding to own a gun is one of the most adult decisions you can make. If you have decided to own a gun and keep it near you, you’ve accepted the fact that the government cannot protect you every moment of your life. You’ve accepted the responsibility for the most fundamental right you have, the right to protect yourself and your loved ones from bodily harm.
However, just owning a gun doesn’t provide any special layer of protection to you or your family, any more than owning a car and parking it in your driveway makes your commute to work any easier. You have to use that car and drive it to work to make it useful and practical to you. Having one near you means nothing. Learning how to use it effectively is what makes it a useful purchase. Get training, and get in the habit of carrying your gun everywhere you can. The life you save may be your own.