In Firearm Research & Statistics
By Rob Morse
Does a gun in your home make you safer, or does it put your family in greater danger? That is a great question, but we don’t have easy answers. There are risks if you have a gun and risks if you don’t. To further complicate the question, your situation is different than mine. You have to weigh both sides to know if you’re safer being armed.
We’ve seen new parents sell their guns because they had children in their home. We’ve also seen new parents purchase firearms because they had irreplaceable lives to protect. Some of the news articles that report on the decision to go armed are extremely misleading, so I’d ask you to read very carefully. Here are some obvious questions that measure your possible risk and your possible reward for owning a gun.
Do you face a risk of violent assault? If you have zero-risk of violent attack, then there is no benefit of having any defensive tools with you. Nor is there any benefit for learning how to defend yourself and your family. This situation would apply to you if you are a researcher in the middle of the desolate antarctic. Also, you wouldn’t be safer with a gun if you’re living on the space station. Out there, you won’t face any problems that a firearm could solve.
A more down to earth answer is that most of us face some risk. The FBI says that more than one-out-of-four of us will be victims of violent crime during our lifetime. I think of it this way. On average, you or your family will be victimized. Your chances of being attacked are much higher if you live in Baltimore and your relatives are druggies. In contrast, you’re much less likely to be attacked if you live a quiet life in Bismarck, North Dakota. Your chances are never zero. I’ve met people who were violently attacked for no good reason. Fortunately, they were armed. Having a gun saved their lives.
You probably don’t need to worry about physical protection if you already have paid professionals guarding your house. This would apply to high-ranking politicians or celebrities who purchased a full time security detail. There is very little you can contribute to your own physical security at home that they have not already done for you.
That isn’t how most of us live. When it comes to our families, most of us have to provide our own protection. Even then, it doesn’t make sense to incur the cost and the risk of a personal firearm in the home until we take simple precautions. I’m thinking of things like locking our doors and our windows. Improving the physical safety of your home with good locks, screws and safety film is much cheaper than having a gun and taking firearms training. A locked door and safety glass can keep a bad person away from the people you love.
That brings us to the heart of the discussion. A gun is an inanimate object. It doesn’t prevent bad things from happening. A firearm can be a useful tool of self-rescue if you’re attacked. A gun buys us time until the police arrive. That assumes you know how to use your gun. We’ve learned a lot during our centuries of experience living with firearms. Armed defense is simple, but not easy.
Earning the advantages of armed defense takes work. It requires both training and practice. A firearm is only part of a larger personal safety plan. Does your family know what to do if someone breaks into your home? What if your family is attacked on your driveway or front steps? While you can hope to be lucky in your violent encounter, we find that people who educate themselves and then train have better outcomes. The more you practice the luckier you get.
Buying a gun won’t make you safer. Safety depends on knowing when and how to use your firearm. Buying a gun and storing it carelessly might put you at greater risk than not having one at all. Safety isn’t something a firearm delivers to you. Safety is the result of using your knowledge and your tools to protect your family. A gun is just another tool.
I can’t know your situation. We know you’re hundreds of times more likely to protect yourself with a firearm than to have an accident with one. That shows that most people have learned to operate a firearm carefully and to reap the rewards of an armed defense. I record examples every day where people used a gun to save their lives. You can build a safety plan for you and your family. A firearm can make your family safer, but it needs your help.
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Keywords: Rob Morse, self-defense.