Three Good Reasons Not to Carry A Gun

courtesy gawker.com

I used to think all law-abiding Americans should carry a gun. I figured if the percentage of concealed and open carriers crested 20 percent – and beyond! – the criminal deterrence effect would be massive. Equally, our gun rights would be more than secure, they’d be assured. Yes, well, I’ve changed my mind. Not about increasing the population of Americans exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to bear arms. I changed my mind about the idea that everyone should carry a gun. There are [at least] three good reasons for people not to carry a gun. Let’s start with the mind killer . . .

You’re deathly afraid of guns

Hoplophobia – fear of guns – is a thing. I’m not talking about people who think guns are icky, or gun grabbers who consider firearms a threat to their utopian vision of a disarmed society. I’m talking about people who have a full-on phobic response around guns: sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, nausea, dilated pupils, dry mouth, inability to think or speak, etc.

I’ve seen this reaction twice. First, when a Mom Demanding Gun Sense in America tried to do a TV interview in front of an open carry demo in San Antonio (I remember the Alamo). Second, when my sister-in-law glimpsed my empty holster, gathered her kids, threw them in the minivan and lit out of my parents’ summer house like she was trying to outrace a nuclear explosion.

Note: chef don’t judge. Hoplophobia is born from trauma. My SIL had a couple of horrific encounters with firearm-wielding folks. My main problem: most hoplophobes don’t acknowledge that their fear is irrational and try to infringe on my rights to ameliorate their condition.

Hoplophobia can be cured by desensitization (a.k.a., gradual exposure) therapy and/or hypnosis. Just like gun owners “cure” young people when they’re starting out with shooting. But as far as fully formed adults are concerned, better you than me. I do NOT want to be around a hoplophobe handling a gun. Same goes for people with a milder form of the condition.

Simply put, the greater the fear, the smaller the amount of mental, physical and mental control they have around firearms. People who are strongly to deathly afraid of guns shouldn’t carry a gun. OK, unless they really need it. They have the same gun rights as anyone else, after all. But generally speaking, no.

You’re mentally or emotionally unstable

People who are well and truly crazy shouldn’t have access to firearms. Or cars. Or knives. They should be removed from society, monitored and treated. Should people who are not mentally ill to the point of hospitalization, under treatment or released from a mental health treatment facility be able to carry a gun? That’s not for me to say. That’s a matter for their doctor(s) and them to decide.

That said, anyone with a history of suicidal urges or violent outbursts should think very carefully about carrying a firearm. And re-think it from time to time. Which is exactly what they do. The vast majority of Americans facing the issue of gun possession, mental health and self-control exclude themselves from the gun-carrying population.

Back in the day, I sat next to a jovial OFWG at a rubber chicken NRA dinner. I asked him what gun he carried. “Oh I don’t carry a gun,” he said matter-of-factly. “If I did I’d probably shoot someone.” I’ve heard the exact same admission more than a dozen times, often from people who’ve never touched a gun. To which I say, fair enough.

You can’t be bothered to do it “right”

The average gun owner is a terrible shot, wouldn’t know a tactical mindset if a SWAT team practiced in their back yard (which some do) and practices some sloppy-ass gun handling, carrying and storage habits. And? Speaking of rounding down to zero, hundreds of thousands of Americans carry guns without shooting themselves, their children or other good guys.

These non-gun guy gun carriers somehow manage to deter or shoot bad guys. (Researchers peg the number of defensive gun uses at somewhere between 80k and 1.2m per year.) They should have training. But they don’t have training. And they still git ‘er done.

There shouldn’t be any barrier to entry for Americans seeking to exercise their gun rights. No training requirement, no ID check, no fees, nada. Buy a gun, carry a gun. Done. In that, the greatest of all possible worlds, millions more [lazy ass] Americans would carry. Here in the real world, millions of Americans simply can’t be bothered to jump through the hoops erected by 2A-infringing politicians.

So I’ll say this about that: if you can’t be bothered to jump through those despicable hoops and/or learn how to safely and responsibly store, handle, carry and shoot a gun, I don’t think you should store, handle, carry or shoot a gun. But that’s me. What do I know? Just this: the Second Amendment doesn’t have an asterisk indicating any firearms comfort level, mental health check or firearms-related competency requirement.

In short, there are [at least] three good reasons not to carry a gun. But none of them should stop you from doing so if that’s what you want to do.

comments

  1. avatar Mike Morrison says:

    Also, if it’s illegal.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      That’s a good reason to move.

      1. avatar Neil D says:

        Mike M.”Also, if it’s illegal.” Response: Hannibal: “That’s a good reason to move.” I think he might have meant illegal as in the person is a convicted felon rather than in a place where firearms are prohibited. Not sure but that is another take on what he said that would make sense yet have nothing to do with where someone lives.

    2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      And even in the “shall issue” states, there are a lot of places where it’s illegal. And some of us work in those “prohibited areas.”

    3. avatar Brentondadams says:

      I live in LA. I rolls the dice and takes my chances.

      With a gun or without a gun. Legal and illegal are just words in my neighborhood. The ‘law’ drives a black and white ford and you wave when they happen to drive by. Everyone else is on their own. It works out most of time, like peaceful anarchy through neglect.

      1. avatar Tommycat says:

        “It works out most of time, like peaceful anarchy through neglect.”

        that’s very poetic… In the literary sense. Mind if I thieve it for a story I’m writing?

        1. avatar Brentondadams says:

          You can have as many of my words as you want my friend. I got a million of them. Good luck.

      2. avatar Accur81 says:

        That was you who was waving?! That’s the only nice hand gesture I’ve had all day. Not to worry, there’s still plent of other folks to pull over.

        1. avatar Brentondadams says:

          I wave at cops. I like cops and the people in my nieghborhood work. They just might not pay taxes or be in the country legally… The LAPD are occupied elsewhere.

          My larger is point is just because something is illegal (everything in California is illegal) that isn’t necessarily an argument not to do it.
          I have as much respect for the law here as it has respect for me. I had to think that one out. My third world neighbors come by it naturally.

      3. avatar Omer Baker says:

        Peaceful anarchy? Anarchy is an absence of government, I would argue that anarchy would be quite peaceful. Who tells people they can’t consume this or that? Removes the option of judicial remedy to those who sell those ‘illegal’ substances so they see violence as their only recourse? Tells us to go fight these people thousands of miles away, kill women, children, any male old enough to hold an AK is a militant. I would say anarchy would be quite peaceful.

        1. avatar Tom Jefferson says:

          Government’s job- Control borders, keep the lights on. Everything else I can handle. Yeah, I’m up for a little anarchy.

        2. avatar Disgusted American says:

          Right up to the point that the guy down the block and his buddies decide that they have the right to your daughter and your stuff.

          There’s a reason that true anarchy never lasts, and places without governments always — ALWAYS — end up ruled by collections of armed men answering only to themselves. The theoretical “anarchy” that appeals to upper middle class kids from safe neighborhoods is no more likely or even possible than the “state that withers away” in the mythology of classic Marxism.

    4. avatar Stilicho says:

      Fail. Troll.

  2. avatar Joe R. says:

    I’m not sold (convinced), I think it’s like the t.v. show SURVIVOR. You may not like donkey spleen but that’s what’s on the menu, btw, you’re cooking tomorrow so you better have some donkey spleen hunted up by then, and we’d all appreciate some additional creativity on your recipe.

    Sick lame or lazy, if you’re counting on someone else for your personal safety, those same people may be counting on you.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      I get the “crazy” part, it’s just that I trust a crazy person with a gun (they will live up to your expectations more often than not), over a crazy person who thinks they’re sane enough to decide for anyone else who shouldn’t get one.

      It’s safer to assume that everyone has the possibility to harm you at-will in whatever fashion you haven’t prevented them from doing so (and some you haven’t even thought of).

      It’s safer to assume (legal or not) that everyone is carrying.

  3. avatar ADC USN/Ret says:

    Some truth to this maybe. Both 1 & 2 are good. 3 I think is a responsibility, so do it for the kids!

    @Joe R., you said “Sick lame or lazy, if you’re counting on someone else for your personal safety, those same people may be counting on you.”

    I think you mean all of the politicians and the folks who vote them in (killers of adults, children, and victims.) Ya know, Bloomberg, MDA, MAIG, that bunch ya know?

  4. avatar John says:

    One MDA soundbite coming up, courtesy of TTAG:
    “The average gun owner is a terrible shot…and practices some sloppy-ass gun handling, carrying and storage habits.”

    geez…

    1. avatar Craig says:

      +1

      Millions of people with barely any firearms (or bow) “training” take to the forests every year and manage to shoot and bring down all kinds of animals.

      I have yet to see a gun OWNER not be able to eventually put all the bullets through the paper or animal. People trying out guns for the first time shouldn’t be lumped into people who’ve own guns.

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      Yep. The pressure to keep posts coming overcomes the prudential requirement to reflect upon the words written.

      1. avatar Robert Farago says:

        I call it like I see it. If someone takes my words out of context, them’s the breaks.

        1. avatar John says:

          Ooooohhhh, it was CONTEXT that was missing. I thought it was a citation for an unsubstantiated (and therefore essentially worthless) assertion. My bad.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, nausea, dilated pupils, dry mouth, inability to think or speak, etc.

    This description covers hoplophobia, hangovers and a really bad divorce.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Really bad divorce syndrome comes with a permanently lightened wallet.

    2. avatar TxGal says:

      “sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, nausea, dilated pupils, dry mouth, inability to think or speak, etc.”
      Sounds also like Adrenaline dump to me. Had one after a fairly minor traffic accident, would add short term memory loss on details.Took a couple of days to remember a pertinent detail.
      Gave me a pretty good idea of what it feel like after a self defense incident, which is why if ever involved in one would limit conversation with 911 and responding police.

  6. avatar George says:

    The right to bear arms should be subject to the same limitations as the right to vote. An easy way to test whether a proposed restriction is unreasonable is to simply apply it to the right to vote.

    For example, should people be restrained from voting until they learn to do it “right”? After all, irresponsible voting has brought down more civilizations than purse carry.

    1. avatar jason says:

      Great comparison could you imagine background checks waiting periods and application fees to vote.

  7. avatar Mk10108 says:

    The law does not protect anyone from a criminal. Requiring paperwork to legally carry is an absurd notion thrust upon citizens in the name of making us safe.

    Government is not required to protect, yet denies the most effective tool for lawful self protection. Boggles my mind that we spend time discussing it.

  8. avatar Anonymous says:

    So… I looked at the picture and I see a stainless steel with alloy frame Ruger p-series and I’m liking it. The Ruger P-series was the pinnacle of Ruger quality. It’s been all downhill since. (PS. Ruger P95 does not count and is part of the downhill slope).

    If they could have just taken the p-series and worked on those triggers – would have been perfection.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      My first 9mm was a Ruger P89. If you were taking incoming fire you could get down behind it for cover. 289 bucks brand new. Never stuttered or missfired. Even shot surplus Egyptian sub machine ammo out of it. That crap shot fire like a flamethrower and rattled the booths at the indoor range. P89 showed no stress.

  9. avatar tdiinva says:

    I think the system mostly takes care of category 3 when it comes to actually carrying versus owning a gun. Having to go through the hassle of getting a permit weeds out most of the lazy and irresponsible. You have to be careful about generalizing the behavior of a self selecting group like the current crop of concealed carriers to the population at large. If the populaiton of concealed carriers looked like the general populaiton it would have the same characteristics as the rest of the population when it comes to illegal behavior.

    1. avatar JohnF says:

      I have to respectfully disagree. I just finished taking about a half dozen classes on different aspects of defensive pistol at the NRA Range, over 30 hours of training overall and I used to be a National Match pistol competitor. With each class the main thing I learned is how much I don’t know about using a pistol for defense and how limited my skills are.

      Their biggest class is NRA First Steps Pistol, which is the minimum required to get a VA permit. More than one of my instructors said that a ton of people take that class, get their permits, never take another class again and never come to a range again. It is just not enough instruction by a longshot. Another fun fact: At the end of each first steps class, they ask, by a show of hands, who feels they are ready to concealed carry. With few exceptions, all the guys put their hands up and very few of the women do. I think the guys are way over-confident.

      There is a huge training gap here. I don’t know how it should be closed, but it will cause the gun community problems down the road if it is not closed.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        But how many of those people who raised their hands will get a permit and carry on a regular basis? My guess is a small number and they will take it seriously. Carrying a gun on a regular basis is a hassle. It actually takes a lot fun out of life because you can have no lapses in responsible behavior.

      2. avatar JC says:

        I agree, I call most of the gun owners “pizza box commandos” meaning every once in awhile they tape a rifle target to a pizza box and shoot in its general direction. Not many people have gone to a class or on their own and really pushed themselves. Movement, shooting from cover, multiple targets, failure drills, different positions, etc. I cringe every time I see a guy with a wobbly holster and gun with little wear out and about. If they had actually TRAINED they would have a beat up gun and better holster. I don’t think it should be mandatory because I don’t trust the government to dictate what is sufficient however more people need to admit their shortcomings and work to fix them before carrying a gun around the public.

      3. avatar tdiinva says:

        Some further thoughts.

        People confuse instruction with training. Training is the Sig-Sauer Academy not your CCW or defense pistol classes. Training is a multi-day intensive activity where you live, sleep and breath TTPs. The other thing they forget is that your training begins to depreciate the second you walk off the course. It must be reinforced on a fairly regular schedule to be effective. Too many shooters take a course and walk saying “now I am ready for anthing.” They may be ready today or next week but they will be less ready in month and not really ready in six months unless they reinforce this training with practice. Few private citizens have time or money to do this. Training also has to be what the military calls mission oriented. Learning how the cops or military does things may be fun but it has negative value when your rules of engagement are radically different. The wrong training is often worse than no training. I fear the highly skilled competitive oriented mistrained “super operator” who thinks he is Leroy Jethro Gibbs more than the training challenged concealed carrier.

        When in comes to performance under stress some people have it and some people don’t. And just because you have it today doesn’t mean you will have it the next time around. There are “untrained” folks who outperform a shooter who has had multiple Sig-Sauer type training classes because they just instinctively know what to do.. Others are like Captain Herbert Sobel, the first commander of the E company 506 PI, who was superbly trained yet was a dud as combat leader and commander. Training does not equal skill.

        Not everybody has the opportunity or the facilities available to train up to LEO standards. People who make do with what they have and practice on a regular basis are serious about acquiring and maintaining the skills needed to be an effective shooter. When a square range with restrictive rules is all you got then you just have make the best use of it. There are just too many examples of people who do very little training or practice and successfully defend themselves with firearms to justify this tactical snobbery.

        Just remember that “It’s not the crate but the man in the crate” that makes the difference.

        1. avatar Tile floor says:

          When I was in the military, it took over a year of solid constant training to become proficient at MOUT, which encompasses shooting, moving, communicating, etc. Learning from those who had done it for realz in Afghanistan. Taking a course or two is definitely beneficial to the CCW holder, but I think a lot of people I see on here talking about how tactically sound they are, constantly second guessing and armchair quarterbacking people, would be surprised about how much more they have to learn and just how insanely stressful a DGU actually is. I’m not saying training should be a requirement to CCW or that just because you have training guarantees your success, all I’m sayin is exercise good judgement.

      4. avatar Drawer22 says:

        @JohnF (re post of 08 October 2014, 1602 hours):
        What’s a VA permit? Is the Veterans Administration permitting the right (Yeah, I know ─ oxymoronic impossibility.) to carry on VA property? How does one “qualify” for such a permit? And an NRA class is sufficient qualification?

        De Oppresso Liber

  10. avatar former water walker says:

    I have met more than one individual who shouldn’t carry. Like the tiny Hispanic goofball who whipped out his 1911 at Cabelas. To tell me I should buy the one in the glass case. No holster-gangbanger carried up his butt. And he swept the room. And I won’t get into the idiots I’ve seen at the shooting range in Indiana( where a boatload carry).

    1. avatar Steve Ludwig says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Even in my original CCW course there were two particular guys that seemed to want to carry just so they could play Billy Badass. Their questions and comments seemed geared toward the actual desire to shoot someone rather than the idea that it’s a measure of last resort when your life or those of an innocent are in jeopardy. They had visions of Rambo dancing in their heads.

      Just as troubling, they were – with one exception – the worst shots in the class. They insisted on going for the “head shot” and missing, at 5 yards.

      I wondered if I’d see their names in the paper as the CCW holders that missed their target and killed an innocent bystander in their hurry to be the hero.

    2. I won’t say how many shouldn’t carry but most shoot so bad that I don’t see why they bother. The gangs don’t seem to shoot any better maybe some of the CCers will get lucky.

  11. avatar Rambeast says:

    Robert, I get the feeling that you are becoming a gun snob/elitist with your shift in attitude. It was a simple “If you can’t be trusted without a custodian, then you can’t be trusted with a gun.”. Now you are harping on people that cannot train anywhere but a square range, aren’t expert shots, and aren’t comfortable with guns yet. Not everyone has the time or money to invest in constant training at their local Threat Management Bravo Mall Ninjas R Us. Not everyone has someone in their life that can break their fear of a tool that may have traumatized them in the hands of a negligent/criminal user or media stigma. Even those with a slight (read: not ajudicated/violent) mental or emotional issue still have the right to defend themselves.

    Get off your high horse. If you have an issue with these law abiding people carrying, then help them. Don’t discourage them because you are giving in to your emotions (read: fear) of someone you deem as a lesser.

  12. avatar Mark N. says:

    Why discriminate against suicidal individuals? Don’t they have an inalienable right to check out if they want to? They are only a problem if they are afraid to go alone…

  13. avatar JohnF says:

    I agree with the blog article, but I would add a fourth category. None of us knows how we will react if the time comes to use deadly force. Even those very few who have actually done it don’t know how they will react the next time.

    But my fourth category would be people who just KNOW that they could never use deadly force against another human being, to immediately end someone’s life when justified. I think this is much more prevalent than hoplophobia. I think there are a lot of people like that and it is not a disorder, per se. These people are better off with Mace or a Taser. The gun will just get used against them.

  14. avatar Jim R says:

    If you cannot honestly say to yourself that you are willing to take another person’s life if necessary,you should not carry the means to do so. Yes, I know. You carry so you hopefully won’t have to do that. Problem is, someday you might have to pull that trigger and if you don’t believe you would, you should not carry.

  15. avatar Roy says:

    This:

    “Should people who are not mentally ill to the point of hospitalization, under treatment or released from a mental health treatment facility be able to carry a gun? That’s not for me to say. That’s a matter for their doctor(s) and them to decide.”

    This is an issue I have with family. I’ve been under a psych-doc’s care for several decades for several issues, PTSD being prominent, and they figure that’s enough to make me a danger. But one psychiatrist, on seeing my NRA Life Member cap, decided I should undergo some special testing. He didn’t tell me what it was for, just that he thought it would be a good idea. Well, after at least four hours of multiple choice, rate 1-to-10, and other such questions, he tallied the results, and in my next session we talked about shooting. I had never been worried about whether I was a danger with a firearm, but he sort of clinched the issue: his conclusion was that I was not mentally or emotionally capable of even so much as threatening myself or anyone else with a firearm unless I had been severely provoked, and that probably only a mortal threat to myself would be enough to get me to use one in self-defense (though he said the bar was far lower for defending others).

    Predictably, some family said to get another doc, as this one was obviously prejudiced (actually they were right — he was, and admitted he was, prejudiced against guns).

    In conclusion: many thanks for pointing out that it’s up to the doctor and patient, NOT the government!

  16. avatar Mike L says:

    …or if you’re a convicted violent felon…

  17. avatar Rambeast says:

    So, in a nutshell:

    I support the second amendment but…

  18. avatar Independent George says:

    I’ve been a gun owner for barely a year, and I’ve seen enough idiocy at the shooting range that I’m wholly behind #3. Just because someone has a legal right to a gun doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for that person to have one. The same applies to driving a car, having a credit card, owning a dog, or raising children – there’s a world of difference between “can” and “should.”

  19. avatar David says:

    Remind me again. How many restrictions were there on carrying a gun when the Constitution was ratified? If someone wants to own and carry a gun, let them. If they do something criminal or stupid it will get sorted out and those events will become less over time. If someone chooses to not own or carry a gun, good luck with that.

    1. avatar Independent George says:

      What is so hard to understand about the difference between a legal right and personal responsibility?

      Nobody is talking about a legal restriction on your rights – just the practice of taking stock of yourself and being responsible for your actions. Saying I think you should call your Mom at least once a week doesn’t mean I think there should be a law mandating that you do so. Likewise, just because I think a person is legally entitled to own a gun doesn’t mean I think they make a good gun owner.

  20. avatar Scott Neves says:

    The beauty of liberty is that each is allowed to make his own choices and suffer the consequences of actions resulting from actions.

    I don’t care who carries what until they start shooting the innocent or destroying property.

  21. avatar Mark Gerrard says:

    If someone chooses to carry or not is one thing but to not have at least one firearm in your home to protect your family against God knows what or who these days seems crazy to me. I have always figured that if a person doesn’t have a gun at home to protect their family apparently their family just isnt worth protecting to them.

  22. avatar Mark Gerrard says:

    And having a gun on yourself is kinda like having money on you, its better to have it and not need it as opposed to needing it and not having it.

  23. avatar Mark Gerrard says:

    And whats the old cliché, ‘you can get more from someone with a gun and a smile as opposed to just a smile’ lol. (lol as in joking OK meaning not-serious)

  24. avatar Mike in NC says:

    Speaking of rounding down to zero, hundreds of thousands of Americans carry guns without shooting themselves, their children or other good guys.

    Last I heard, the estimate of concealed carry permit holders was around eleven million and this does not include those in states which have constitutional carry or those who choose open carry. Unless you have come across some data that there are more than ten permit holders who don’t carry for every one who does, you are off by an order of magnitude and the quoted line should read “millions” rather than “hundreds of thousands”.

    When the mainstream press is deliberately off by an order of magnitude, it is usually a sign of severe bias on whatever issue.

    1. avatar Chris Smith says:

      Hundreds of thousands nationally with permits? I live in Texas, and in Texas alone the figure was 708,048 in 2013 (source: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/reports/ActLicAndInstr/ActiveLicandInstr2013.pdf)…..and that’s just one state. Also, there are people who carry who are from states with “Constitutional Carry” (Arizona, Vermont, etc), and who probably don’t bother to obtain a carry license because it isn’t necessary where they live. My point is that nationwide, I’d be willing to bet that the number of people with carry licenses is in the millions, and that doesn’t include people who carry without a license because their laws don’t require it.

      If the streets were going to run red with blood, you’d think they’d have started by now.

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