The gun is the ultimate show of power for the average person. If you have a gun then you have the power to kill, maim or intimidate. Of course if your opponent has a gun then they also hold that power.
So the logic of gun ownership goes like this : I cannot know that any potential opponent will not have a gun, so I need to have a gun to ensure that I can protect myself in all circumstances.
This assumes that all the risks of gun ownership are manageable. The most obvious risks are:
1. Those who are untrained and unready to use guns, get access
(eg. a crazy son steals and uses his moms weapons or a child finds a gun and plays with it).
2. In the heat of the moment a bad decision is made about gun use
(eg. a home owner kills his child by mistake while looking for an intruder at night or during an argument over dog shit on the lawn a neighbor is shot, or a scared neighborhood watchman kills a suspected intruder because be uses a gun rather than calling the police).
3. The loaded state of a weapon is incorrectly assessed and an accident takes place
(eg. Opps I thought that shotgun was unloaded or the safety was on when I shot you in the face by accident).
4. Gun thefts place weapons in the hands of criminals
(eg. I keep guns for personal protection, but don’t lock my house at night because I live in a safe neighborhood or I have a gun-safe/trigger guard, but the thieves stole the safe or the key to the guard with the guns).
These are all direct examples I have read about, spoken to gun owners about or have seen on the news. These risks have proven themselves to be too great.
It is extremely rare (but not non-existent) that guns held for personal defense are used effectively for personal defense. While the errors listed above are all caused by gun ownership, are well documented and occur very regularly.
Quite simply if someone goes out to perform a crime and takes a gun, they have taken days or weeks to mentally prepare themselves. While anyone thrust into a situation with a gun-wielding criminal cannot have known even a second before that this was going to happen. So they are mentally unprepared and will be suffering from the effects of immediate and intense adrenaline release. This makes decision-making and effective aggression difficult. When attacked in this way the human body is much better at flight than fight. It takes soldiers and professional security forces years of intense training to be able to deal with this, the most difficult of all situations. And even most of them will find it hard to achieve a “win” in these situations. The best action taken by these experts is to find cover and build a defensive strategy.
Pundits that propose that more guns would have in retrospect saved any particular situation have never been in a similar situation. If they had they would know better.
In the cases where weapons are required for personal protection, I suspect most of the time non-lethal weapons would work better, as they remove many of the risks. But where lethal weapons are required then their needs to be an increased level of regulation and professionalism employed.
I question why the average city dweller should have a gun, but I can see why people living a long way from society may have a need. But I cannot see why military type weapons are needed even then. The risks to others are just too great.
Guns are not toys. I know that many people see them in the same way they see hot girls wearing little clothing and baby oil, excellent rock music, or a six-pack of domestic beer. Guns are not the same. I know hot girls can be dangerous, head banging holds the risk of brain damage and beer doesn’t mix well with thinking or driving. But guns have a unique and terminal purpose.
What is it going to take to ensure that crazies and criminals can’t get their hands on guns?
And please stop talking about the need to have guns to protect us against the government. That kind of thinking is so below the concept of American exceptionalism. Conspiracy theorists have their rights of course, the right to a tin foil hat and to put Hitler mustaches of images of those they don’t like. I don’t like or agree with them but I accept they have those rights. But they don’t have the right to stop strong regulation to protect us all from crazies and criminals.