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.