If someone asks Jon Wayne Taylor why he carries a gun, he has a simple, honest answer: “In case I have to shoot someone.” Dan’s a tad more circumspect: “One, because it’s my right. Two, why do you own a fire extinguisher?”

Have you ever been asked why you carry? (I haven’t and I open carry.) What would you/did you say when asked? Who was it? How’d they take your reply?

Recommended For You

120 Responses to CapArms Question of the Day: What Do You Say When People Ask You Why You Carry A Gun?

    • Bingo! Loose lips sink ships and all that.

      For my nosey libtard neighbors, if they happen to see it, I use their feeelz parlance: “Because I feel like it.”

      • One of my neighbors (not nosy, but Dems from NoVa) saw my pistol and asked me about it. I told her it was to protect HER children.

  1. “Because no matter how often I practice, I haven’t been able to throw the bullets fast enough to kill someone.”

        • No. If they already know you carry, a reasonable and polite answer will go a lot further than telling them to go boil their heads because opsec (another pet peeve: How can you have opsec without an op?).

          If they know you own guns, you represent gun owners to them. You turn people off by telling them it’s none of their business. It feeds the whole “bitterly clinging” stereotype.

          Is it really that hard to say you carry because of any number of good reasons?

        • OmnivorousBeorn – do you, personally, answer rude questions from total strangers? “What’s your sign? What’s your political party? What’s your sexual orientation and frferred pronoun?”

          “Because fuck you, that’s why!” is a perfectly cromulent response to a rude question.

        • I just don’t consider it rude for someone to ask me why I carry. There’s a difference between rude and curious.

          It depends on the question. I consider my house’s location private, but not my party. Guns are also private, but if they know anyways, why not try some proselytizing?

  2. No one has ever asked. Of course, I live in a non open-carry state.

    If we ever get to open carry, I’m more of an old-school smile and keep moving kind of guy.

  3. For the same reason I wear a seat belt when traveling in my vehicle. It may not keep me from getting killed but, it certainly improves my odds if the occasion arrives.

  4. A number of friends will get together and talk about what type of firearms we all own and carry. People outside of the group will sometimes ask why do you carry/own guns.

    My response has always been self protection and that is usually enough. Once in a while someone will push the response and say something like why not call the police. To which I say you will be robbed/dead/raped long before law enforcement arrives.

    I try to educate the non2A crowd rather than say things like its my right.

    • Bingo!

      All the flippant answers may make the speaker feel good, but they also make enemies. Education can make friends. A case in point from my college days, when a dorm-mate of one of my shooting friends asked “What are you doing with guns?!?!?!” as we were getting ready to go shooting: my friend told him the long guns were for meditation and the sidearms were for protection. The guy blinked, opened his mouth, shut it… and asked if he could come along. He’d never touched a gun before, but after putting fifty rounds of .22 long into a textbook we all hated, he became a regular. It took three outings before he tried a pistol, but after that he was hooked.
      If someone had said, “A cop is too heavy”, would this guy have gone shooting with us? I think not.

      • Agreed on the sentiment. If someone is asking you why you carry they are either A) genuinely, harmlessly curious or B) they’re trying to engage you in some sort of political debate in which case their mind won’t be changed anyway.

      • It depends on who’s asking and how. People’s responses here probably assume a particular scenario of being asked that question. The more flippant responses probably envision a nosy, triggered little busybody rushing up in a huff, with a head full steam, to ask the question.

        That person just wants to cause trouble, maybe embarrass the carrier, rather than ask a serious question for a legitimate purpose.

        The more measured responses are more likely considering a scenario such as your experience, where an interested person honestly would just like to know.

  5. My mother, who has always been supportive of my father’s shooting, hunting, and gun collection hobbies asked me if I carried at her house because I didn’t feel safe there.

    My response was that home invasions are more common than bank or store robberies and that while I feel safe pretty much everywhere I go, gun or no gun, it’s be foolish to assume that anyplace is out of reach for a bad guy

  6. I haven’t been asked. If I was to be asked, my response would depend on my reading of the question and the questioner. If the questioner was honestly curious, I would explain about the need for self-defense. If the questioner was just being a dick, I would tell him to stop being a dick.

    • “tell him to stop being a dick.”

      Especially to a guy who’s carrying a gun.

      It always amazes me how in-your-face some antis get, given how they’re always claiming we’re prone to violence and such.

      • A more politically incorrect answer to the assaultive question “why do you carry a gun” would be “stop being a dick or you’ll find out.”

        But I wouldn’t say that. No sir. I wouldn’t. But it might be inferred.

  7. Since shooting is something I enjoy it is easy for me to maintain a MUCH higher standard of marksmanship, training and safety than any standard police force in the country. The act of physically carrying it is simple. If something awful were to happen to me or my family I am not sure I could live with the knowledge that I could have saved them if I had not willfully removed my ability to do so.

    In short, the training is fun, carrying is easy enough to consider trivial, and god forbid it is needed . . . the alternative is unthinkable.

  8. I’m asked only when I open carry, which is a scant minority of the time. Most of the time, only the very observant can tell that I’m carrying, and let’s be honest here: most people aren’t that observant.

      • Show up on any accident scene and ask bystanders “What happened?” and you will learn that most people are wandering around in their own little worlds, completely devoid of situational awareness.

  9. For me the answer is simple. I’m no longer able to use much in the way of physicle strength anymore. Due to my diabetes. My arm strength just isnt enough anymore.

  10. I own my life and am the only one responsible for that life and my safety. I can and do, work with others – including the local sheriff’s dept. – for mutual defense, but in the end it is the responsibility of each person to guard their own safety and that of their legitimate dependents. https://thepriceofliberty.org/i-carry-a-gun-get-over-it/

    I used to get asked quite often, but not much recently. Everyone in town knows that this old lady carries a gun… some even when they can’t see it. 🙂

  11. “F’s it to you” is all that’s required if your best WTF look don’t get it done.

    I give a .05% chance any such ahole is actually looking for a cognitive answer, or making conversation.

  12. For me the answer is. I’m no longer able to use much in the way of physicle strength anymore. Due to my diabetes. My arm strength just isnt enough anymore.

  13. You will only get asked this question if you are a frequent “machismo signaling” type of person. Or one of those 2nd amendment ideologues that likes to say “what part of shall not be infringed don’t you understand”?

    You ain’t getting teachable moments with the average citizen. They don’t get your fetish.

    • If you assume you’ll never get teachable moments, then certainly you won’t.

      And that’s a big fail.

    • I’m a data point that disproves your theory. Shortly after I started OCing, I was asked twice, in the same week, while I was sitting in a restaurant, on my phone, paying attention to pretty much nothing but my cancer-burger (with a side of SA), with exactly ZERO amount of “machismo signaling” or ideology.

      Interestingly enough, since I’ve started OCing a lot more recently, I get asked a lot less than I used to. I actually try to see if anyone even notices (by, say, taking a double-take at my hip, etc.), and I can’t say that they do.

      It is left as an exercise for the reader as to what can be done with that broad brush with which I’ve been painted…

    • I’m not a very “machismo signaling” guy, and I’m also not a very vocal 2A idealouge (even though in beliefs I am an absolutist), and I’ve been asked this question multiple times. My answers vary depending on whos asking and the circumstances, but a few occasions have become teachable moments that broadened the understanding of those asking.

      • I had to laugh at the “machismo” bit. The one guy I know who has been asked multiple times why he carries a gun happens to be not-quite flaming gay. He gets asked precisely because he ISN’T signalling any kind of “machismo”.

      • No need to be a dick about what he said. Perhaps he didn’t phrase it quite as elegantly as you would have?

  14. To someone not carrying: “Because I am a member of the unorganized militia of the United States of America. YOU ARE SHIRKING YOUR DUTY!”

  15. Depends on the person and the circumstances. While I’m OC’ing in public, very few have just come up and asked me why I OC a firearm. Some have just thanked me for OC’ing, a number of people have asked if I am a bounty hunter or an off duty cop. When I say I’m just a law abiding citizen practicing my second amendment rights, many didn’t know it is legal to OC without a license here in NM, then we go on about our business. But only a few will ask why I carry a firearm.

    But when it does come up as a question, depending on the circumstances, I’ll make basic points about a firearm being the symbol of a free person; or about the history of the US and it’s second amendment; or about personal responsibility and that cops are not responsible for our protection. It just depends on how long we talk about the question and the responses I make depending on the points or questions made by the person.

  16. I tell ’em the truth.

    I was out for a bike ride late one night, and a guy thought it would be funny to sic his dog on me…

  17. Because until Trump was elected, it was the fastest way to make a self righteous Liberal’s panties bunch up.

  18. I simply explain that at least 2 male members of my family have served in every war our country has ever fought to save the right to do so. I’m not going to dishonor their service by not carrying. I live by it so I don’t have to helplessly die by it.

  19. B’cuz ‘Murica!

    Actually, the punk nosy little bastards usually ask: “what are you afraid of?” So I steal a line from the little old lady joke and say: “not a damned thing!”

    • A friend got asked that question. He deliberately stared at the guy until the silence was uncomfortable, then asked, “Dude, don’t you watch the NEWS? There are BAD PEOPLE out there!”

      The guy stammered, “Oh, uh, yeah, oh, yeah.”

  20. I think I had one person ask me why I was carrying a firearm. My simple response: for protection for my family and myself.

    I have had a couple people wonder if I was an off-duty policeman. My simple response: no.

    If anyone ever does inquire, I will tell them the same simple response: to defend my family and myself. If they want more detail, then I will share the following simple facts:
    — I place great value on the lives of my family and myself.
    — A firearm is a great tool for protecting my family and myself.
    — Attackers can maim/kill in seconds.
    — Police arrive minutes (or sometimes hours) AFTER an attack.
    — I will almost never know when I will need to protect my family and myself so I carry my firearm with me.

  21. I don’t have a go to answer. It depends on who I’m with, where we are, and the way the question is presented.
    I don’t usually try to be funny, or a smart ass, even though that’s my natural inclination.
    I usually don’t give a one liner, opting to engage in logical dialogue. I usually work this line in: “Nobody that was ever assaulted had prior knowledge of where or when it would happen so it’s best to always be prepared. “

    • The fire extinguisher thing is my go-to because it’s non-confrontational and logically sound enough to make it hard for a reasonable person to argue with. I save the “because it’s my Constitutionally-protected right and because screw you” part for the ones who do want to argue past that.

      Oh, sorry; was that too harsh for you, TTAG? Should I have smeared myself with marshmallow fluff and given them a nice big hug instead? We always wanna take the high road and all, especially since they’re, y’know, shooting at us now.

  22. I was the victim of “gun violence ” once. Never again. Testified against the perp, he got 15 years. He made 5 separate death threats against me and mine during the legal process. He’s out now.

  23. (Actual conversation)
    Me: “Why don’t you?”
    Random Stranger: “I don’t need one”
    M: “You sure about that? Have you been paying attention to the news?”
    RS: “Why not just call the police?”
    M: “Tell me something, who is responsible for protecting your from violent criminals? Here’s a hint: it’s the same person who is responsible for putting food on your table, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head. And if your answer to any of those is ‘the government’ then you need to grow up and start thinking like an adult. The government can’t protect you every minute of every day. The police aren’t obligated to protect you, their job is to enforce laws, and in almost every single case in which the police were sued for failing to stop a criminal, these cases mostly happening in localities where the people are denied the Right to keep and bear arms to defend themselves, the courts ruled in favor of the police. That’s right, the government can deny you the Right to have the tools to defend yourself, and throw you in prison for ignoring their unjust laws and doing so anyway, and then turn around and not protect you. It’s a lose lose situation if you live in one of those jurisdictions, but luckily we don’t in this area, and I want to make sure that everyone knows it so that they, too, can protect themselves.”

  24. I usually give the same one JWT does. “In case I have to shoot someone.” Very few who know I carry actually ask, because most already know the “why.”
    If it’s someone I don’t really know well, I just go with “to protect myself and my family.” There really isn’t anything they can counter with that I can’t respond with, “but my family’s immediate safety is important to me.”

    • Good response!

      Personally I have good support for that, since a gun has saved my hide, prevented a gal I know from being raped, and made a child molester decide he really had somewhere else he needed to be. Given concrete examples, I have yet to find anyone who can look me in the eye and say it would have been better if no good guy had been armed in those situations.

  25. The one time I can recall being asked directly and in a somewhat respectful manner, I didn’t even have to answer — the lady’s ten-year-old son did for me, telling his mom that the police won’t and can’t protect people.

    The one time I was asked if I was a cop, I said no, I’m the guy they work for. That broke open a conversation where I got to explain that the reason cops can carry guns is because we the citizens have allowed them to do so because we’ve delegated some of our authority to protect ourselves and others to them, authorizing them to go after bad guys once crimes have been committed, but we retain the right to protect ourselves and since cops aren’t bodyguards it’s a good idea to do so.

    And another time when I was asked what I was afraid of, I used my friend’s line, “Don’t you watch the news?” Told it’s the cops’ job to stop the bad guys, I said, “Cops are slow.” I didn’t have to go farther because some bystander quipped, “Yeah — a pizza will get here faster.” The questioner snidely asserted that pizza doesn’t deliver to the beach — to which someone else responded, “Wanna bet?” and pulled out his phone. Fifteen minutes later we had pizza.
    Unfortunately that didn’t turn out to be a teaching moment — at least not for the original questioner, though it did for a couple who saw the pizza arrive and asked why we’d had it delivered at the beach, so we shared pizza and the story and left them thoughtful.

    Mostly, though, I don’t get asked, I just hear stupid comments from people I figure are too chicken to talk to an armed citizen.

  26. There once was a time when no self respecting man of means would be caught dead without his weapon and his armour. Human nature has not changed since then, only the circumstances. It seem to me that too many people are suffering the collective delusion that peace and tranquillity are the natural state of things. I am not delusional, and prefer to hedge my bets.

    • “Although difficult for modern man to fathom, it was once widely believed that life was a gift from God, that to not defend that life when offered violence was to hold God’s gift in contempt, to be a coward and to breach one’s duty to one’s community.”

      from the original “Nation of Cowards”:

      http://jim.com/cowards.htm

  27. I was once pulled over for speeding (25 in a 20, oh man) and when asked for my insurance I stated it was in the center console where my gun was. The cop then asked me:

    “Why do you have a gun in your car?”

    I answered immediately without thinking, “Because I can,” and didn’t realize what I said or how I said it until she gave me a very taken aback look.

    She was so concerned about my gun and whether I was legally allowed to have it in my car (Texas, but I didn’t have a CHL at the time) that she called for another cop who showed up and promptly told her I was indeed allowed (in a manner indicative of “You should know this.”). She gave me the ticket and I was on my way.

    Funny enough she never did look at my insurance, which I later found out was actually expired.

    • I was pulled over about 5 years ago by a deputy and during our conversation he noticed a case on the back seat of my truck and asked “what’s in the case”? I said it was an HK 51. His eyes got a little big and said “why do you have THAT”? I immediately replied “because I’m a terrible pistol shot”. He just shook his head and chuckled.

      37 years driving and still have never had a ticket.

  28. Well, I think the above posts have the smart ass spectrum of responses covered.

    Anyone else remember the old series Kung Fu with David Carridine… Master, how is it you can hear the grasshopper? Young grasshopper, how is it you cannot?

    I don’t OC and have never been caught CC, so the only conversations I have are with friends and family who know I do, and their friends and family I’ve met at parties and whatnot. Some of the time the questions I get are honest and legit, other times, there is ‘attitude’ behind it.

    My polite response most cases is: The reason I carry a gun should be obvious–in case I need it. I think a better question is– “Why don’t you?”.

    Depending on how much I want to rib/teach/interact with them, I might add: Don’t misunderstand me–there are many reasons people shouldn’t. Some people are too stupid or temperamental or whatever to safely carry a gun. However, I am none of those things. Are you?

    Again, depending on how they approached me I may add, I carry many tools I might need every time I leave the house– a small flashlight, a small swiss army knife… It doesn’t mean I’m afraid of the dark or of having a hangnail. it just means I’m prepared for a wider range of situations than others.

  29. I tell them,

    Memorize:
    1. Police have no legal duty to protect individuals.
    2. Police have no legal liability when they fail to protect individuals.
    3. Police not assigned specifically as bodyguards have virtually no ability to protect individuals.

    Police don’t protect individuals. They draw chalk outlines around individuals who are unable or unwilling to protect themselves.

    If you’re not willing and able to protect YOURSELF, you’re just not going to get protected AT ALL.

    Anybody who tells you different is a LIAR.

  30. “It’s insurance.”
    “Insurance? Insurance against what?”
    “Insurance against a foreseeable risk of serious harm in the event of circumstances where its use is necessary.”

    Actually, I have never been asked. This is, after all, a concealed carry state.

  31. Problem solving.

    I’m fascinated with solving the problem of being responsible for my own individual security for as much of the day, week, year as possible.

    You should try it some time…it’s a tough one.

  32. I’ve never been asked that question. Probably because people are always more interested in asking about the razor-sharp steel hook I have where my left hand *used* to be….

  33. “when seconds count, the police are minutes away”

    But that’s probably too high-minded and intellectual for most Leftists to understand.

    • Good one, Evan. I’ve been in three different situations where something bad could have happened, and I never would have remotely thought it could happen there.

      But I was armed, the bad guy recognized that and realized the need to be elsewhere.

  34. I have carried for 30 years and have never been asked why I carry even when I conceal carry my bulky 40 cal.

  35. My answer is “it’s my hobby”. Target shooting that is…

    Sometimes that starts a conversation about firearms technology, etc.

  36. First I try too be in stealth mode so no one know I carry, Second I want a chance! third: have carried so long my holster is growing whiskers and has become quite a conversation piece!

  37. I’ve never had anyone specifically ask me why. I live in an area that is probably at least 75-80 percent active, honorably discharged or retired military. Open carry is legal here where I live, and you can get a concealed carry permit as long as you qualify. I mostly conceal carry, but I will occasionally open carry some of my larger/heavier Pistols such as my full size 1911. Most of the time, I don’t get a second look, but occasionally someone will do a double take, but never make any comments. I also see other people open carrying on a fairly frequent basis. If someone were to ask me why, I guess my reply would hinge on “how” they ask me. A smartass attitude will get a smartass answer. Someone who seems calm and generally curious as to why, will get a calm and matter of fact answer.

  38. A wise friend once said:

    “You not need this… but when you need this, you really fu**ing need this.” (Vietnamese accent)

    – He was talking about a tool that cuts zip ties perfectly and cleanly…

  39. Funny thing. My granddaughter, who is 9 going on 25, saw me slipping on my concealed carry this morning and asked this very question. My response: “To protect all of us; you, me, Grandma, your mom and dad, your sisters…all of us”. We proceeded to talk about the idea that there are some bad people in the world and, while we shouldn’t be scared, we should be ready for them. It was a teaching moment.

  40. There are people in the world with no respect for the persons or property of others. Only physical force will stop them from preying on whomever they choose. The personal firearm is the most effective tool yet invented for applying that force.

  41. My wife asked something similar recently. Can’t remember how it was said but it had to do with having a gun with cops around or something. I said because the police have guns is exactly why I carry. Citizens are equal, subjects are ruled. She gave me the oh ya, expression.

  42. 1. Because a cop is too heavy.
    2. For people who ask too many questions.
    3. Who says I carry “A” gun?
    4. I thought everyone had life insurance.
    5. My wife made me.
    6. I can’t figure out how to take it off.
    7. Gotta have some place to keep my bullets.
    8. I’m the race starter.
    9. I took it away from Barney.
    10. So my dog will recognize me.
    11. Religious reasons.
    12. Nobody else seems to want to carry it for me.
    13. It’s the best way to always have it.
    14. It keeps my holster from collapsing.
    15. Ballast.
    16. Gun? What gun?
    17. So people will know I’m a Good Guy.
    18. My tank’s in the shop.
    19. I’m old and slow.
    20. The instructor said to.
    21. Thomas Jefferson said to.
    22. Because I can.
    23. Because you don’t.
    24. My protective detail keeps getting lost.
    25. To tick off the liberals by not shooting anybody.

  43. Because crime doesn’t happen on a schedule and criminals don’t make appointments in advance. Self-defense is a come-as-you-are party and I am the first responder.

    The statistical probability of being attacked (or hit by a meteor for that matter) may in fact be low, but the consequences for the INDIVIDUAL in that situation can really SUCK.

  44. To make society better. An armed society is a polite society. And an armed society is not crime-compliant. I like living in a society that’s hostile to the bullies and thugs. Don’t you think criminals prefer honest citizens (aka victims) to be unarmed?

  45. Nehemiah 4

    New International Version (NIV)

    Opposition to the Rebuilding

    4 [a]When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

    3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

    4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of[b] the builders.

    6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

    7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

    10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

    11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

    12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

    13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

    15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

    16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

    19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

    21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.[c]

  46. I have never been asked, well maybe once or twice at some time ago. My response would have been to protect myself and my family. A better one might be a quote that I saw a few years ago. I use it now when I make scrimshaw powder horns or some other pieces. Look up “Luke, 11, 21” in the Bible. When I saw it the first time it almost took me for a loop. I wrote the scripture down and checked it when I got home. It’s a version of the 2nd Amendment written almost two thousand years ago. Check it out. It would be a great response for the question of “Why do you carry?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *