By Ryan Bridges
With great power comes great responsibility – I think I heard that in a movie once. Guns can be powerful tools for self-defense and provide unparalleled peace of mind, but they can also be dangerous to their owners and others when people fail to use them properly.
Even a moment of carelessness can lead to a fatal accident, which is why we must expect more from people who choose to carry. Guns are a topic marred by controversy, one that can create dissent even amongst the best of friends. That, it seems, will never go away. But there are several fundamental things you can — and should — consider before purchasing a gun if you want to do it the right way.
1) Why Do You Want a Gun?
Have you been mugged before? Do you live in an area that scares you? Are there wild animals near your home? All gun owners have their own reasons for carrying a weapon. Since choosing to carry a firearm comes with a great deal of responsibility, it is vital to get inside your own head and understand your reasons for wanting a gun in the first place.
Self-defense is the most common reason for owning and carrying a gun. That may seem to be a simple concept, but the details can get surprisingly complicated. Gun laws vary from state to state and the topic of “defense” can become subjective. Shooters who focus on defense need to think about the situations in which they are willing to use their firearm. Thinking about these situations in advance ensures that shooters will be mentally prepared in an emergency.
As a gun carrier, you will face reactions such as anger and even fear from others. Some people aren’t going to understand your reasoning for choosing to arm yourself. Are your convictions strong enough that you can face this kind of push-back and openly explain your beliefs to others? Some people choose to carry guns as a status symbol or as a representation of their political views. That’s perfectly valid, to a certain point. But if that’s your only reason for carrying you might need to reevaluate.
2) What Is Your Gun to You?
Responsible shooters study and understand the nature of the firearm that they carry. It’s best to strip away the popular perceptions of guns and think about what they really are. A gun is ultimately a tool. One that’s capable of killing. Its ultimate purpose is to stop threats to your safety or the safety of those you love.
By carrying a gun you’re potentially introducing a weapon to any situation – and that weapon has the chance of falling into dangerous hands through negligence. A gun, in and of itself, isn’t fundamentally good or bad; its nature depends on the nature of the person holding it.
Your gun is an extension of you. It does precisely what you tell it to unless you’re careless. That means that all shooters need to know that they’re responsible for every bullet fired from their weapon, deliberately or accidentally. Individuals who don’t want to assume that responsibility should leave their weapons at home.
3) Do You Trust Yourself?
The final consideration calls for some heavy introspection. Gun politics are highly controversial in the best of times so people who carry guns can get dragged into heated arguments. You need to ask yourself if you can stay calm and responsible if that happens. Avoiding questionable and possibly antagonistic situations is always the best course of action, particularly when you’re armed. Even a single mistake can lead to serious consequences.
Bluntly, not everyone can do that under pressure. If you aren’t positive that you can handle problems in a calm and rational way if and when they occur, you should err on the side of caution and avoid carrying a firearm. There’s no shame in admitting that and making the responsible choice. The key is to look at yourself and make the decision as honestly as possible.
Whether we like it or not, guns are a source of controversy. They probably always will be. They’re more dangerous than sharks, snakes and natural disasters because at the end of the day they are used by humans. If a human holding a gun makes bad choices, people can and do get hurt.
But if you’re level-headed, responsible, and conscious of the tool at your disposal, it’s still possible to carry a gun safely and do a lot of good with it. What’s important is to recognize the decision as a serious choice and to treat it with all the respect that it deserves. If you consider the matter carefully and do all that you can to stay safe, you should feel free to carry your gun whenever it is legal and appropriate to do so.
Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for Galco Gun Leather. He regularly produces content for a variety of businesses and gun safety blogs.