3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding to Carry a Gun

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.

Responsibility Matters

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.

comments

  1. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    I thought there were only two questions….
    Did I fire five or six shots?
    And Do I feel lucky?

    1. avatar 16V says:

      “Ah, ah. I know what you’re thinkin’. Did he fire six shots, or, only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kinda lost track myself But bein’ as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off…

  2. avatar greg marks says:

    The point about some people not being level-headed enough to carry is so true and so over-looked. In spite of the right to bear arms, there are some people who simply should not carry a gun due to their own personalities and tempers. All of us have to be honest with ourselves about this. It takes a bigger man to not carry a gun when they know they can’t handle it. I carry but I’ve gone through the soul searching.

  3. avatar Ed says:

    Three things to overthink about when deciding to carry a pistol. Long winded drivel.

  4. avatar TwoJohnsonsAreBetterThanOne says:

    That gun on the picture looks like a Sig p320 – not drop safe!

    1. avatar Erik says:

      I noticed that too, my question was going to be “do you plan not to drop your gun!?”
      Lol

    2. avatar RetMSgt in Pa. says:

      Then don’t drop it. Under your control means under your control.

  5. avatar Larry says:

    Y-A-W-N ……

  6. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I had one gun class last year and two this year. And I have another class at the end of the month.
    If the time comes, I hope I’m ready. Ruger p89. I think all the bugs have been worked of them, compared to a sig 320. I prefer a hammer fired gun.

    1. avatar Swobard says:

      Love those 80’s vintage Ruger “bricks with triggers”. Still shoot my old P85 & 89, and they still haven’t failed me.

    2. avatar james says:

      +1 on the P89DC Ruger with the Terhune AntiCorro finish.

      “All barrels, whether for blued chrome-moly pistols or stainless-steel pistols, are cast from heat-treated 400-series stainless steel. The specific stainless alloy used in the P-Series pistols has been designated as “Terhune Anticorro” by Ruger, and that label is stamped on the side of the slides. (It is named for longtime manager of Ruger’s Prescott investment cast foundry Stan Terhune, and it is the only name other than Bill Ruger’s that has ever appeared on a standard-production Ruger firearm.) Many other small parts—such as hammers and triggers—in all P-Series pistols are also made of stainless steel.”

  7. avatar strych9 says:

    Dragged into arguments? Brah, walk away. Those people usually aren’t worth talking to in the first place.

    Maybe I just have a calm demeanor but 99.9% of the time I just don’t get how people react to this kind of thing. STFU and walk away. Who cares what a bunch of people you don’t really know (and probably don’t like) think about any issue, nevermind your personal life?

    As for trusting yourself… I find this to be a fairly silly point. Dumbass people trust themselves to the hilt and/or don’t give this sort of thing much thought. Ergo it’s pointless to discuss this with most people because if you ask the most retarded and violence prone person you know if they trust themselves there’s a better than 95% chance that they will say “Yes.”.

    People too stupid or too emo to have a gun are usually too stupid or too emo to realize/admit that they’re too stupid or emo to have a gun.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The people who trust themselves the most are the ones who are the products of the “self esteem movement” – and are some of the people I’d trust the least to have sober and adult judgement with a gun.

    2. avatar MarkPA says:

      Tragically, you may be not far off in your assessment. Nevertheless, We the PotG ought to start to think about how to address this issue. Everything was fine so long as the carry community was comprised of old gun guys who understood such issues; we all sort of worked through the issue ourselves.

      Today, we want to popularize carry by every qualified adult; indeed, we NEED to do so to protect the 2A. As our outreach extends more deeply into the general population we will invite plenty of people who really aren’t up to assuming the responsibility of carrying. How can we advise such people to self-screen themselves out?

      We don’t need the bad publicity that comes with the MSM reporting on road-rage types of incidents by CWP-holders.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    “As a gun carrier, you will face reactions such as anger and even fear from others.”

    Good.

    “Guns are a topic marred by controversy, one that can create dissent even amongst the best of friends.”

    If it creates dissent, they’re not my friends.

    “Do You Trust Yourself?”

    Yes, more than anyone else, and certainly way more than the po-po who are supposed to protect me but don’t.

    1. avatar Lee G. says:

      While I understand your point, the reason why you may not be able to trust the police to protect you is because people negatively answer the first two questions, thus creating laws or rules causing the police not to be able to protect you (because we don’t want to lose our jobs because we have to provide for our own families). It’s a shame, but police are so scared at times to act because of the backlash of the news and the citizens that have no idea of what truly happened at a particular incident. I’m not saying police are always right, but we aren’t nearly as wrong as people nowadays seem to think…

  9. avatar jwm says:

    Seriously. If I can’t trust myself who can I trust. As for a confrontation? A heated argument? That takes 2 people.

    If you follow me as I walk away that’s not an argument. That’s stalking/harassment and if you escalate, that’s an attack, not an argument.

    To get a confrontation with me you will have to be the aggressor. And that’s why we carry weapons. For self defense.

  10. avatar Ed says:

    Sig P320, when your absolutely positively sure you won’t drop your pistol…it’ll work.

    (Just don’t get taken to the ground, fall or have anyone blindside you in the hip with a shopping cart at lowes. You should be fine.)

  11. avatar Frank says:

    1) Self defense
    2) Defense of myself, my service dog, and anyone else who is defenseless.
    3) Yes I do trust myself. More than the police or anyone else.

  12. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    1) Why Do You Want a Gun?
    Because I like to have options.
    2) What Is Your Gun to You?
    It’s an option.
    3) Do You Trust Yourself?
    Yes. I also trust myself with automobiles, toxic chemicals, swimming pools and stairways. All of those things are involved in more accidental deaths than guns.

  13. avatar BLoving says:

    To be fair:
    This article wasn’t directed to the majority of us here – we who have long before considered all of these questions and arrived at our own satisfactory answers.
    It is directed at the person who may not have yet decided to purchase or start carrying their gun, to give them something else to consider in their decision making.
    None of it is wrong or unnecessary, just that it is ground most of us have covered, but I like to think TTAG would be a good resource for noobs too, particularly before making their first purchase.

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      I disagree, quite a bit of it is wrong by implication.

  14. avatar RKBA in CO says:

    Why do I want a gun?
    Because the Constitution of fhe United States of America enshrines my civil right to have as many as I deem necessary.
    End of story.

  15. avatar rt66paul says:

    There are many people who should not carry. That being said, I am not your keeper or your conscience, so you do what you need to do. I wouldn’t even own a gun when I drank – every day – now that I am sober, I would, if the sherrif in my county would allow me to. Non LEOs do not get CCWs here in Los Angeles County.

  16. avatar No one of consequence says:

    “Some people choose to carry guns as a status symbol or as a representation of their political views. That’s perfectly valid,”

    and that should have been a full stop, but it goes on to say

    “to a certain point. But if that’s your only reason for carrying you might need to reevaluate.”

    That’s the same attitude that leads to may-issue permitting systems. And then there’s this gem:

    “It does precisely what you tell it to unless you’re careless.”

    In which case it still does what you tell it to. A gun has no moral judgment, sense of right or wrong, or knowledge of the appropriateness of the trigger pull. This is the same reasoning that leads to stupid phrases like “gun violence.”

    1. avatar Frank says:

      Not to mention gun confiscation.

  17. avatar Specialist38 says:

    An armed society is a polite society.

    If you are a dick or a dumbass, a gun will not cure that.

    If you carry a gun, society will hold you responsible….. unless you are rich or a Chicago gangbanger.

  18. avatar Alan Esworthy says:

    What a load of fetid dingos’ kidneys.

  19. avatar Mark N. says:

    1) Why Do You Want a Gun?
    I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I want to kill! I want to see
    Blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth! Eat dead, burnt bodies! I
    Mean: Kill. Kill!”

    And I started jumpin’ up and down, yellin’ “KILL! KILL!” and he started
    Jumpin’ up and down with me, and we was both jumpin’ up and down, yellin’,
    “KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!” and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me,
    Sent me down the hall, said “You’re our boy”.

    2) What Is Your Gun to You?
    My Precioussss.

    3) Do You Trust Yourself?
    (Whispering) Trust no one.

    1. avatar i1uluz says:

      You Can Get Anything You Want, At Alice’s Restaurant, Gollum.

  20. avatar Joe R. says:

    I can’t believe this is Galco’s guy. Sounds like they hired somebody upthe college who needed a job, and the best they could get doesn’t really like guns or gun owners.

    Sorry this read like drivers ed. It read like I imagine dui / driving ticket school lectures go.

  21. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I get the sense that gun-grabbers have had an unwelcomed influence on the author …

    [A firearm’s] ultimate purpose is to stop threats to your safety or the safety of those you love.

    Wrong. A firearm’s only purpose is delivering a tiny projectile, in a known direction, at a known velocity, in a highly repeatable manner. Whether someone applies that purpose to recreational target shooting, hunting, self-defense, or attacking someone is entirely up to the user.

    By carrying a gun … that weapon has the chance of falling into dangerous hands through negligence.

    This happens so rarely as to be statistically insignificant. Quite literally, ANYTHING could happen. And yet we don’t alter our behavior or choices because of everything that could happen. If someone is going to mention the downside to something, they should mention the ENTIRE downside, including how rare the downside occurs.

    A gun, in and of itself, isn’t fundamentally good or bad; its nature depends on the nature of the person holding it.

    A gun has no nature at all. All it does is launch a tiny projectile in a known direction, at a known velocity, in a repeatable manner. How someone applies that design is up to the user.

  22. avatar GS650G says:

    Take these questions and apply to new police officers. Why do you want to be a cop? Ready for the responsibility? You’ll be met with scorn by a large number of people. You’re responsible for every bullet and action.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      . . . Do you find yourself thinking that you are better than those around you? Do you think hanging a badge on you will get you there? Are you wanting a job in public service to “serve”? Does “public service” mean that you serve them, or they serve you? WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT YOU WILL EVER EQUAL?

  23. avatar MamaLiberty says:

    “If a human holding a gun makes bad choices, people can and do get hurt.”

    And people can and do get hurt if they are helpless to defend themselves. They get hurt in dozens of other ways as well. Break out the bubble wrap!!!

    If only those who are perfect paragons of virtue may go armed… forget about it. But, given the fact that most non-criminal people who carry a gun do NOT shoot others indiscriminately, or even cause many accidents anymore, maybe we don’t have to be so perfect after all.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Galco hired a sliding 1984 facist.

  24. avatar Gman says:

    The very first question to ask yourself before deciding to carry a gun is:
    “Am I willing to, and capable of, using it?”

    And therein lies the soul searching. Everything else stems from the answer to that one question.

  25. avatar H says:

    “Does it make me look fat?” 🙂

  26. avatar Timothy says:

    A lot of support and opposition to this piece. Frankly, I think gun owners should be responsible and consider many aspects of their lives before carrying. This article (to me at least) doesn’t call for stringent licensing as some in this threat have claimed. It calls for you yourself to be responsible. It’s my job to be responsible for me. To personally be safe. This felt like advice to me on how best to do that. I’ll listen. It’s not government’s job to protect me from myself and I didn’t get the message this guy wants government to protect us from ourselves.

  27. avatar BierceAmbrose says:

    4) Does this make me look fat?

  28. avatar Ad Astra says:

    3. Do you trust yourself?
    This you can trust.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vOofKsny66o

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