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Readers of this site endure the mockery of a few trolls who diss and dismiss our decision to own, train with, and carry concealed firearms. These folks view firearms ownership, practice and portage a kind of mental illness. They consider armed citizens delusional and paranoid. Most members of this site’s Armed Intelligentsia shrug-off these insults and see them for what they are: a textbook example of psychological projection. But you can’t say that to a gun grabber. Besides, there are bigger fish to fry: the gun control community’s assertion that defensive firearms are pointless. The odds of needing a defensive gun do not justify owning one . . .

The nay-sayers are not entirely wrong: the odds of needing to employ armed self-defense are statistically insignificant. And they go down from there. Live in a nice neighborhood? Leave criminal enterprises to criminals? Avoid stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places? As RF says, the average American can round down their odds of experiencing a defensive gun use to zero.

You can’t eliminate the chance of a lethal threat against yourself or your family, but it’s small enough to ignore. Or is it?

While the odds of being ‘right’ about the need for concealed carry are extremely low, the costs of being ‘wrong’ can be extremely high. Leaving home with a gun is the odds-on favorite in the “nothing will happen” department, but that’s cold comfort to the person who is unlucky enough to fall on the wrong side of that equation.

To a statistically rare victim of a violent attack the cost of not carrying concealed can be enormous. Life changing or life ending. Hence the concealed carry mantra: I’d rather have a gun and not need it than need a gun and not have it.

When faced with that calculus, gun control advocates quickly raise another set of odds: what are the chance you’ll injure yourself or someone with a negligent discharge (ND) with one of your self-defense guns? They believe that the chances of an ND are far greater than the odds of a successful gun use.

There are a lot of statistical shenanigans involved in that math. Remove suicides from the stats and the odds of an firearms-owning individual causing an ND plummet from near zero to a lot nearer to zero. In truth, the odds of needing a concealed carry weapon and the costs of having one are both statistically insignificant. The exact differential is relatively unimportant.

So why are we having this argument in the first place? Do we make the decision on whether or not to carry a concealed firearm based on a subjective/personal assessment of our behavior and environment, or do we do it according to hard data from a scientific statistical survey taken from a large sample? Humans make decisions by weighing the risks of doing something against the cost of not doing something, usually without hard numbers.

The odds of being injured in an automobile accident are far greater than the odds of needing to defend oneself with a concealed firearm. Yet we pile into a mass of rolling iron every day, sometimes all day. The cost of not doing so is high. No job, foreclosed mortgage, can’t feed the kids, kids screaming about soccer practice high.

The odds of accidental injury in a car are not that great. But drivers believe that the cost of getting into an accident without wearing a seatbelt is too much to bear. So they wear one, just as gun owners carry a gun because the cost of not having one could be too high.

Gun control advocates have a final defense against that particular brand of common sense: it’s not all about you. It’s all about society. Concealed carry is socially irresponsible Selfish. Your gun ownership “costs” us. Me first . . .

For me to carry concealed costs a gun control advocate nothing. Nothing. I’m the one dealing with the costs, not them. I pay for the firearms and ammo. I pay for the training. I pay for the practice. I pay for the discomfort of carrying 38 ounces of loaded handgun most everywhere.

I’m not going to shoot you unless you’re in the middle of trying to cause me or mine grievous bodily harm or death. So you can stop worrying about that.

As for the cost to society, the gun grabbers believe that guns stolen from legal gun owners arm criminals. That’s how my gun hurts others.

That horse left the barn decades ago. If American gun makers stopped production today, it would take centuries to “starve” criminals of firearms. Firearms registration or confiscation as criminal cost containment is scientifically unproven and completely impractical.

So consider all this the next time you can’t help yourself and hear someone blurt out, “Why do you need a gun? You’re preparing for something that will never happen.” From your lips to God’s ears. And given the odds, you’re most likely correct. You win. Yay!  Go Team You!”

But I’ll thank you not to mock my cost-benefit analysis. Thanks to the Second Amendment, the cost of carrying vs. the benefit of being ready for a statistical anomaly is not yours to debate.

27 Responses to It’s Not the Odds; It’s the Cost

  1. I don’t carry a gun because my society is dangerous, I carry a gun to keep my society from becoming dangerous.

    Criminals adapt to their environment, just like any other living creature. If all guns were magically removed from society tomorrow, they would learn. They would learn that they are now free to do as they like. That’s a lesson I don’t want them to learn. So I carry. Not because I expect to be attacked, but because I want criminals to expect attacking people to be an activity that carries a high degree of risk.

    An attack deterred is an attack prevented, even though no guns are ever drawn.

    People who object to weapons aren’t abolishing violence, they’re begging for rule by brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were always automatically ‘right.’ Guns ended that, and social democracy is a hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work.
    – L. Neil Smith, The Probability Broach

  2. Excellent points C-man, and I hope you stay with us for a long time. I’ve been trying to keep from flaming the lowlife TROLLS who seem to have nothing better to do than piss me off. RF does a good job keeping me in line and every now and then he’ll remind me to ease up a bit, but it’s not easy dealing with fools who try their hardest to make us shoot a few flames their way. Maybe we can have a flame throwing day once a month where we can unload on all the TROLLS, and let off some steam.

    • Yeah, it’s all about you, Joe. We’re here to piss YOU off.

      I also enjoyed the post because it was very accurate, as far as it went. The description of how miniscule the chance of needing the gun to save the day was good, but it failed to mention the downside.

      Owning guns increases the chances of having those guns misused in some way. You start out at zero, like in my house there’s zero chance, and you work your way up from there. Unlike the “upside,” the chance of ever needing the gun, which as the Cabinet Man described can be brought down nearly zero, it’s not like that with the downside.

      The more guns you have the higher it is. If you have kids in the house, especially teenagers, up it goes. If you drink or smoke dope, it goes way up. If you’re like millions of other Americans and suffer from depression, with ocassional severe bouts of the disease, your moving way above zero.

      You get the idea.

      I’m afraid calling me names is not going to change the fact that what you guys have decided to do is pretty foolish, at least in most cases.

      • True. But that small possibility of an accident should be weighed against the possibility that the firearm may be needed in self defense. According to Wikipedia,* there are about twice as many deliberate non-fatal injuries from firearms as accidental ones in the USA in a given year. (I think it’s safe to say that the disparity will only increase if you include fatal shootings– I don’t have numbers for that, but I don’t think many people shoot themselves fatally.)

        In other words, the chances that someone will shoot at you deliberately are greater than the chance that you’ll be shot accidentally. The same is true for your wife, kids, guests, and anyone else who might be ‘endangered’ by a gun in your house.

        Unless I’m misinterpreting my statistics? Someone correct me if I am.

        *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States#cite_note-WISQARS-3 (see second paragraph)

  3. ISC2 has a calculation defined as the cost of an incident multiplied by its probability. That number tells you how much you should spend to prevent the incident from occurring, e.g. power outage at your data center or compromise of your information systems. Even when the probability is extremely low, if the cost approaches infinity (death or rape of loved one) then it is worth spending money to prevent.

    And more to the point, as you say, it costs society nothing for me to carry, so why don’t the grabbers mind their own business.

    • Just like dictators, most times it’s about control. They want control over you and your potential. More times than not, these are the same people who would gladly silence your right to free speech if you didn’t agree with them.

  4. If I don’t want to drive a car, there reasonable substitutes available in most cities like bicycles or mass transit.

    If I don’t want to own a fire extinguisher, there are reasonable substitutes available like baking soda, water or plain ol’ dirt.

    I carry a gun because there is no reasonable substitute for doing so when it comes to self-protection, period full stop.

  5. I carry because I can.

    The mobs that recently had fun “wilding” in England and here in the U.S. wouldn’t dare try that stuff here in Tejas.

    Thanks for the post, C-man.

  6. Superb post. Please write more.

    I have gone through this statistical process and argument many times over. Thanks for explaining it so well.

  7. That fictional vegan woman in the video is so typical, and that is what makes it funny. Women, black folk, jews, and homosexuals are more likely to be accosted than us OFWGs. (Someone help me out with some stats to support my outrageous claim.) Those same demographics that need protection most are the same ones that vote more for the Democrat party. The party, whose leadership anyways, would like to see America be like SarahBradyLand over in the U.K. I know many gun totin´ democrats here in Texas. I just cannot understand the mentality of why they vote for politicians that would like to disarm not just the redneck Tea Party Christians, but also the women and minorities who are more likely to be victims.

    • It has been pointed out to me that I may have come across as bigoted. I assure you that I meant to insult all equally. There is no intentional bias or bigotry on my part. Thank you.

  8. If it cost any other person, party or body of government for -me- to carry a gun I would have gotten a bill by now with the invoice reading “Payable to society.”

  9. It is not a matter of the odds or the cost. It’s a matter of the Constitution. The 2nd Amendment was written to allow for an armed populace to defend against tyrrany. Hunting and defending against ordinary crime was such a given that no one even thought to question it or mention it in 1789, any more than they would have needed an amendment to allow for breathing.

    As far as the left is concerned, this issue has been fought and lost. Outside of a few liberal enclaves, gun control is radioactive and even Democrats run away from it as fast as they can. Eternal vigilance, of course, but we’ve won this one.

  10. On unarmed proponents of ‘GUN CONTROL‘…
    “The llogical, irrational and irresponsible attempting to convince those who don’t know any better that assuming an indefensible position is reasonable.“
    Gw

  11. I’ve owned a number of handguns, for quite a few years. I advocated for shall-issue laws, and when we finally passed a shall-issue law in my state, I obtained a permit, and carried with some regularity. But I never thought I was at much risk.

    After all, I didn’t do drugs, I wasn’t involved in gang activity, I had none of the characteristics that would make it statistically likely that I’d be targeted as a victim of violent crime.

    Then I came home from work, one day, and found a strange woman sleeping on my couch. She was an old friend of my housemate, and was in hiding after having fled an abusive boyfriend.

    Most people are not at risk. But risk can change very quickly.

  12. You really do not provide any facts to support your argument. Opinions and feelings are not facts. Reality is most gun owners have zero experience and training to deal with violent situations. Statistically they are more likely to be victims of gun violence then those without gun when a situation does occur. http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2009/09/gun-possession-safety/ Granted the study was done by doctors and a university hospital who’s primary purpose is to save lives so it may be biased to save lives.

    • your forgetting all the other ND factors besides suicide… hurting freinds family or a aggravating a situation

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