This is the question my wife asked me the other day. She was getting ready to go to a nearby park to walk Lilly, and I told her I’d like her to take one of her pistols.
“Why?” she asked. “What do you think is going to happen?”
“I don’t think anything is going to happen,” I replied. “If I did I’d be asking you to not go.”
It’s not the first time the question has been asked, and my answer has always pretty much been the same. I carry a pistol for self-defense. The chances I will ever need it are, let’s face it, pretty slim. There are well over 200,000,000 adults living in the USA, but only 300 civilian self-defense shootings a year. Of course this doesn’t count incidents where a gun is deployed that do not result in a shooting, but even if you do include those the odds of needing to use your gun are not high.
I don’t carry a gun because I think something is going to happen. If I thought something was going to happen I wouldn’t go. If I thought I would need a gun and for some unimaginable reason I went anyway I’d take a rifle, thanks very much.
So if I don’t expect anything to happen why carry a gun? Simple- for the same reason I have car insurance even though I don’t expect to get into an accident. For the same reason I have home-owners insurance even though I don’t expect my home to be damaged. For the same reason I have AAA even though I don’t expect my car to break down. For the same reason I take my cell-phone even if I am just going round the block to the convenience store. I do all these things because life has taught me that unexpected things happen. When these unexpected events occur I want the right tools on-hand to deal with the situation as best I can.
It’s axiomatic that it is better to have a thing and not need it than it is to need a thing and not have it. That’s really all of the justification you need.
To be clear- I carry a handgun for self-defense, or the defense of other innocents when there is absolutely no other option. I do not carry it to be a hero and I am not looking for trouble, or a reason to use it. In fact I go out of my way to avoid any situation where I might need it. I live on a pretty safe block, I am aware of my environment. I know my neighbors and my neighborhood. But despite our best intentions and efforts sometimes ‘excrement occurs’ and we have to deal with it, ready or not.
I doubt I will ever need my gun; in fact I earnestly hope that I will not. I would happily live out my days without ever shooting another human being. But if I ever really, really need to I’ll have a gun to do it with.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 4 May 2019
PS: May the 4th be with you!
ThaÃs os the best explanation I ever seen
The only time that I needed a gun for a situation with two-legged critters, having a gun in my hand was enough to stop things from going Western.
Don’t get lazy with your stats by not including incidents where a gun was deployed but not fired. Not including those incidents is a SERIOUS mistake. Why? If the person wasn’t carrying, it couldn’t be deployed as a deterrent – a deterrent in a situation with the threat of serious bodily injury or death. While we don’t know the true number exactly, it’s certainly much higher. Researchers have estimated 500-ish defensive firearms uses in the United States EVERY SINGLE DAY. 300 a year? Hardly.
Yup, wife asked the other day at breakfast why I wear my gun in the house? I looked her straight in the eye and answered truthfully, ” Because of the Decepticons!” I laughed. She laughed. The toaster laughed. I shot the toaster. It was a good time!
In all seriousness, 300 defensive gun uses is not the number we should be looking at. 1.25 Million (approximately) index crimes per year according to FBI crime data, is the number we should be focused on. That is 1.25 Million events each year where a gun might stop bad things from happening. Now multiply that 1.25 Million over a person’s entire lifetime and the chances of you needing a gun go up significantly.
I love the lede â€” â€œI donâ€™t think anything is going to happen. If I did Iâ€™d be asking you to not go.â€ Right on. Consider carefully.
However, the axiom “that it is better to have a thing and not need it than it is to need a thing and not have it. Thatâ€™s really all of the justification you need.” is a snappy but misleading aphorism. If you truly believed it, you would always and everywhere carry every single tool you know how to use or might quickly figure out how to use in need, and every supply you might require for the rest of your life. Because you never know, do you? Except that lifetime pile of crap would prevent you from ever moving a step from your starting point.
A less snappy but more useful axiom is to winnow down the lifetime pile into the most streamlined set you believe might allow you some chance of squeaking through both the most dire and the most likely circumstances between you and your next resupply â€” and will allow you to cope efficiently and gracefully with the challenges you reasonably expect that you actually will face in the coming minutes, hours, days, or years. There will always be limits, and there will always be choices â€” some days the choice might be to take a weapon or a ham sandwich. Consider carefully.
I only carried for about 6 years before I needed my LCP for self-defense. Took one shot and it failed to feed the next round. Luckily my attacker walked away. I switched to a Glock 42 not long after that and took a bunch of pistol courses from different instructors. Feel a lot better now about concealed carry.
On a somewhat related note: Statistics and probability are not exactly the same. You cannot accurately predict a future occurrence of something like a shooting self-defense situation because each one is unique and not subject to probability. It took me several semesters of college to truly grasp this concept. However you can say that statistically in the past American citizens have been better off with handguns than without. And we also know that repeated high-quality training has a huge impact on personal safety and combat effectiveness.