People state self defense as one of the most popular reasons for owning a gun. There are some very good reasons why guns are used in self defense. They’re effective at stopping the perpetrator, and defensive gun use statistics show that they’re largely effective at preventing an attack before it even begins.
However, there’s also an argument against guns for self defense, so it’s important to look at all the facts to determine the best course of action. If you’re interested in using a gun for self defense, you’ll need to understand both sides of the coin, the law, and your rights.
Carrying a gun for self defense requires you to understand what’s legal in your state and whether or not you are legally allowed to conceal it. You don’t want to start out by carrying a gun illegally, because even if you are using it for self defense, you could still be subject to criminal charges for illegal possession.
One of the tricky parts of this argument is defining self defense. The lines tend to blur when it comes to what’s a reasonable amount of force and what’s excessive. While all states have laws prohibiting domestic violence offenders and convicted felons from owning guns, some states also prohibit the use of certain types of weapons by anyone.
Defining Self Defense
The law does not condone using violence simply because someone else made a threat or threw the first punch. Most self defense laws require that you first act reasonably, retreat if possible, and only use the amount of force necessary to stop the attacker.
You can always use the reasoning that if someone tries to fight you can shoot them. If someone raises their fist or hits you, the law dictates that you walk away if it’s possible. If you are charged with a crime, you can claim self defense, but the jury will consider whether you had the chance to retreat and whether or not you took it.
If the attack is ongoing, you are trapped, or you tried to retreat but the aggressor followed you, the jury will then decide if you are reasonably in fear for your safety and whether the force you used was appropriate.
Even if the attacker doesn’t have a gun, you can argue self defense when they have some other deadly weapon like a knife or a bat. You may also be justified in using a gun if the aggressor is threatening and attacking using their fists.
Castle doctrine states that you do not need to retreat in your own home. You are justified in using force to defend your home if you are in danger, without having to flee first. It’s reasonable not to expect someone to have to retreat in their own home, but instead to defend it at all costs.
In some states, “stand your ground” laws also state that this castle doctrine extends to any confrontation that takes place immediately outside of your home. That could include your front porch, your back yard, or any property you own, depending on how the law is written or interpreted.
Arguments for Gun Control
Many proponents of gun control will argue against these laws by stating that guns are rarely used in self defense and that they instead give possessors more of an opportunity to act unreasonably. They also open up an opportunity for guns used against owners.
For instance, as a carrier of a firearm, you will have more opportunities on a daily basis to use your gun inappropriately than you will have opportunities to defend yourself with it. Tempers get elevated, arguments break out, and guns are used offensively rather than defensively.
In fact, in light of mass shootings and tragic incidents everywhere, the knee-jerk reaction from gun control enthusiasts everywhere is to take away the guns, ban them completely, and set up new laws that will prevent it from happening ever again.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the laws already in place have failed and the laws they’re calling for wouldn’t have been effective. After all, people who want guns are going to get a hold of them somehow, whether they’re allowed to have them or not.
It’s also important to remember that someone who’s hell bent on committing a criminal act will not hesitate to resort to theft if it means they will then be in possession of the tools they need to commit it. If they plan on using a firearm illegally, what’s to stop them from obtaining it illegally in the first place, especially on a thriving black market?
Guns Used in Self Defense
Rather than looking at how many people are killed by guns every year, it may be beneficial to look at how many lives they save. While it’s a hard statistic to prove, guns used in self defense stats could give us a better idea of what kind of deterrent they are without ever injuring anyone at all. The point isn’t to shoot the bad guy, it’s to prevent people from getting shot, even the attacker.
For instance, guns are estimated to prevent almost 7000 crimes every day. That’s 2.5 million crimes per year. No blood is shed, and no gun is ever fired. Simply the presence of a gun does more to stop it than anything else.
It can be hard to estimate how many lives are saved, simply because when no lives are lost, it’s rarely news, and it’s rarely reported. If, for some reason, the aggressor is shot, he’s unlikely to go to the hospital, because the hospital is required by law to report that incident to the police. It’s not hard to understand that’s the last thing a criminal wants.
That being said, there are still plenty of instances we know about where the good guy with a gun stopped the bad guy.
More than half of convicted felons will admit that they avoid committing a crime when they know the victim is armed. Wouldn’t you rather go after someone who you know can’t defend themselves? They make for a much better target.
In that same vein, both criminologists and economists both agree that proclaiming your property as a gun-free zone is a surefire way to attract criminals rather than deter them. Criminals are much less likely to enter a place where they know people are armed. They’re also much less likely to break into a house when they know people are at home.
Best Self Defense Weapon
None of this is to say that a gun is the best self defense weapon, although it is an excellent one. Many attackers will back off when they realize their target is armed. A knife could do the trick, too. However, a gun makes a much more powerful statement.
Semi automatic pistols and revolvers are some of the firearms most commonly used for self defense because they’re lightweight, easy to use, and conceal well in many different ways. They’re also easy to store next to the bed or in a glove compartment.
However, for home defense, if you’re interested in the truths behind the castle doctrine, there are more powerful choices. For instance, any Mossberg 500 model has incredible stopping power, is easy to use, is very intimidating, and is a pure classic.
When considering what to use for self defense, look into the conceal carry and self defense laws in your state. You may find that a bit of training and education surrounding carrying a gun for self defense is the easiest and safest thing to do.