Help me, I’m floundering. I don’t want a gun in my house but I’m not so certain how I feel about other people owning them any more. I don’t believe it is my father’s strong republican beliefs coming out as I get older. I once felt strongly opposed to guns because their only purpose is to kill. I’ve been along on enough hunting trips to see the damage that guns do but my peace-loving self has been overtaken by my maternal instincts. Yet, I suspect it is fear that makes me not quite mind if the world knows that most Americans are armed. I don’t like this maybe feeling. Am I for or against private gun ownership? How do I decide? What questions must I ask myself?

40 thoughts on “112975519074898502

  1. watch ‘bowling for columbine’ would be my recomendation, but I am biased, so I am not much help my dear one

    very important question though

  2. There have been a couple of times I’m glad I didn’t own a gun. If I had, I would probably be in prison today for using it on some of the animals we used to call neighbors. I’m very serious. These “people” were bottom of the barrel, alcohol driven, thieving, harassing, nightmares. Plus, having a kid in the house is even more reason to avoid one. There is always the possibility in a nasty mistake that could be tragic.

  3. Very good question, Cathy, and I’m in a similar place as you. Opposed to the use of guns…opposed, too, to the somewhat “awe” of guns some folks have that approaches a kind of hyper-hobby, almost a worship. But mostly afraid of what might happen with kids in the home, and the chances geometrically increase with the # of kids so you’re in even worse shape than us (with only 2).

    But I have to protect them. I will protect them. But how do I protect them from themselves and their own curiosity? Arg.

  4. Growing up my parents always had guns in the house. They were maninly shot guns and were used for hunting. Dad did have some handguns but these were usually for running his birddogs and were filled with blanks. They did not have them loaded and the shells were nowhere to be found. The guns were also locked away. For many years I did not know there were guns in the house. I don’t necessarily like guns but I will not tell someone else that they don’t have the right to carry one. We also have a shot gun in our house and it is in a locked case and the shells are stored away from it as well. I don’t think a gun should be the first way people think to protect themselves either.

  5. Technology and affluence come from having a wealth of easily obtainable, cheap energy. Without easily obtainable, cheap energy, you end up with the disorder New Orleans experienced.

    The earliest predictions are that we will run out of oil in the next 10 years. Most predictions focus on 40-60 years. I challenge you to reach out and touch something near you right now that did not have to use oil to be in your possession. Unless you have a flower from your garden sitting beside your computer you probably can’t and I can make an agrument that you wouldn’t have that flower without oil either.

    See Waiting for the lights to go out.

    What will society look like when the oil runs out?

    So can we have one of these?!

    btw, I’ve heard that there is 400 years worth of oil in more difficult to extract geography such as Canada’s sand (that’s not quite right but basically its not a clean pool of oil) and Nevada’s shale (and maybe that’s a different state but one of the western states).

  6. I’m an advocate of the second amendment, but gun ownership isn’t for everyone. It depends on your mindset. Are you willing to use lethal force to defend your family? If not, the gun isn’t much good.

    Likewise, if you decide to buy a gun you have to take on additional responsibilities. You’ll need to learn safe gun handling. Then if you’re going to use the gun for self defense you’ll need to understand the laws on self defense. Getting your Tennessee handgun carry permit will cover some of the latter.

    Gun owners tend to be very helpful, and lots of people will offer to take you shooting. Take them up on it, but also consider professional instruction. Coal Creek Armory here in Knoxville has classes, and the NRA offers safety classes all over the country.

    Among the various gun defense writers and trainers I’m fond of John Farnam and Massad Ayoob. Farnam’s book, The Farnam Method of Self-Defense, lays out a very sensible approach to choosing and using a gun for self-defense.

  7. “watch ‘bowling for columbine’ would be my recomendation”

    Please do, if you want nothing but misrepresentations about the gun debate.

    “What’s the date on that amendment little brother?”

    Same as the first, fourth and fifth amendments. Are they too old too? Stating that a right is irrelevant because it is old is a dangerous precedent.

    I’d advise you to take les’ advice. Head to Coal Creek one Tuesday night (when ladies shoot free) and tell them you want to shoot. They will rent you a gun and give you a little safety info. You may take a couple of shots and decide it isn’t for you.

    If you ever want to go shooting, shoot me an email. Guns and ammo are on me.

    My wife was always lukewarm on guns until we had a baby.

    As to deciding, do some research on crime and guns. 30K deaths per year, and half are suicides. The prevalence of gun control has not had any affect on crime, according to the CDC and DOJ. And the DOJ reports that gun are used defensively over 700,000 times. As for small kids dying due to a gun, it happens fewer times per year than drowning in the bath tub and poisoning from household chemicals.

    Keep guns inaccessible (like you do chemicals) and supervise your kids (like you do when they’re in the tub) and you absolutely eliminate the problem.

  8. Despite always having rifles at home, I only became a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment in the last couple of years. I still dislike the NRA.

    Ultimately, I find it to be a matter of:
    1) personal responsibility
    2) a wider question of civil liberties, which I feel will become a matter of great concern in the next decade.

    Good luck with a tough subject.

  9. In my opinion, guns are tools. They are like knives, chemicals, and first aid kits. All of these things are kept around the house with a specific purpose in mind. Some we hope are never needed. Some are handled so casually we don’t even consider how dangerous they are.

    Millions of children grow up in homes with firearms. And they grow up safely. I have read that in one year more kids died from falling down the stairs in their home than from a firearm in the home. But like all statistics, only you can decide if they apply to you and your family.

    I see on your site that you have a dog in your home. That helps a lot with home security. Late at night, when you hear a noise, check the dog. If it is concerned, so should you. If not, go back to sleep. I live in the city of Detroit. Only when the dog goes towards the door with with hair on it’s back standing up do I get out of bed.

    Being aware of your surroundings is the first step in being safe. If you feel confident that your home’s structure can prevent an intruder from violating your space and endangering your family, then you need take no further action. But if you think there may come a night where a door left unlocked might result in an invader, you need to have some form of protection. If not, then you aren’t being the best provider you can be.

    The fact that you’ve made this post indicates you don’t feel safe. You’ve trusted many other “Motherly Instincts”. Trust this one too. You’ve done many things as a new mom you weren’t comfortable with, but knew were necessary for the best interest of your family. Deciding how to protect your family is one of them.

    Good Luck.

  10. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should BUT I do worry about the loss of individual freedom. I do think that time changes things. I would defend my children tooth and nail. How can I go from thinking no one should be armed to thinking anyone can be armed?

  11. OK, Full Disclosure.
    I am a Bill of Rights nut, I believe the Bill of Rights is the de facto law of the land, though I do not advocate breaking laws just to defy un-constitional laws.
    I read Les Jones, Saysuncle, and several more “Gun Blogs”
    I own 2 guns and I have a toddler.
    Therefore I have a gun cabinet mounted to the wall and locked at all times, more to please my wife then for my own peace of mine.

    Obviously I would suggest you own a gun, but much more, you should practice with it regularly, clean it, work with it, get used to it. Owning a gun does nothing to help you defend yourself if you are unable to use it properly.
    There are tremendous ways to lock your gun up to protect your children, but you can never childproof a gun, you must gunproof your child, if you like I can recomend some books.

    Oh an a comment to David, the poster concerned about his inability to not shoot someone, David, do you not own any other killing devices? NO bats, hammers, knives, or even an automobile? If your neighbors are so bad, why have you not flown into a murderous rampage with some other murderous device?
    Just asking.

  12. Cathy, as far as whether to have a gun, it depends at least in part on your circumstances and your perception of the world.

    I’ve been shooting since I was eight and my parents gave me first gun when I was 10. Thing is, I never thought much about the defensive use of guns until about five years ago. Until then, I rarely even kept ammunition in the house unless I remembered to save a few rounds when I went shooting.

    What changed for me was a family member who got mixed up with drugs in a bad way (and still is mixed up with drugs – numerous trips to rehab, jail, and the emergency room haven’t changed anything). That led to a lot of explosive situations, and I decided I wasn’t going to walk into any more of them without a weapon. It also opened my eyes to some of the bad people and bad things in the world, even in sleepy Maryville and Knoxville. I started looking at handguns as something other than devices for punching holes in paper targets, and got a handgun carry permit.

    So, your circumstances will affect your decision. What kind of neighborhood do you live in, where do you travel, what line of work are you in.

    Then again, bad things happen even in nice neighborhoods. I grew up in a nice area next to Maryville College a half mile from the city police station and county sheriff’s office, and 20 years ago a single woman on that street was raped in her own home. I don’t answer the door late at night without a pistol.

  13. Cathy,

    If you ever had to defend your children “tooth and nail”, you’d probably lose. Anyone attacking your children is very likely to be

    1. male
    2. bigger than you
    3. better armed than you
    4. evil.

    With a gun and the skill to use it, all those are equalized. Guns are cheap, and sufficient skill is easy to acquire. Honest.

    And, if you’re worried about the kids, I can just tell you a couple facts. There are about 70,000,000 households with guns in the US. Number of accidental shootings of and by small children? About 20 a year. Every one a tragedy, but be careful and you’ll never have a problem.


  14. Couple more thoughts.

    If you’re smart, you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. The fire department can’t prevent a stovetop fire from spreading to engulf your house, though they’re good at putting out fires once they get there. But if you’ve got an extinguisher, you can stop it before your house is half gone. You’re the first line of defense.

    The police are pretty good at arresting people once they’ve committed a crime, but they can’t get there fast enough to keep an attempted rape from turning into a rape.

    The best tool for stopping a fire is an extinguisher, not 911. The best tool for stopping an attack is a gun.


  15. Lots of good words up above, I’ll add just a few. Having a firearm gives you the ability to say “No”, in a lot of situations where you may not otherwise have a pleasant option.

  16. One very useful site is the CDC’s searchable Injury Mortality Report (http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_sy.html). All statistics are per 100,000 deaths.

    Searching for “unintentional” intent and “firearm” mechanism yields 762 deaths in 2002 (the most recent year for which data are available). If you restrict the data to ages 0-17 the number falls to 115. For ages 0-10 the number falls to 30. For comparision purposes there were 3,447 deaths by drowning (1,007 from 0-17; 698 from 0-10), 16,257 deaths by fall (125 from 0-17; 76 from 0-10), 17,550 by poisoning (256 from 0-17; 256 from 0-10). Unintentional deaths as a pedestrian number 5,041 (662 from 0-17; 330 from 0-10).

    Even if you control for the fact that only about half of all households have a gun, your child is still far, far more likely to die from things like taking a bath or crossing the street. Of course, we think of these sorts of things as being low risk and we mitigate the risk further by taking appropriate measures such as holding a child’s hand when crossing the road and keeping poisonous items locked away and/or out of reach. Also, bathtubs and crosswalks are so commonplace that the associated risks are already factored in, whereas for someone who did not grow up learning firearm safety has to contemplate and perhaps incorporate a new set of risk factors.

    Legal gun owners are not, as far as I know, correlated with higher rates of aggressive behavior. In fact, based on my (admittedly anectodal) experience, just the opposite is true. Besides, the notion that legal gun owners will snap use their firearms to take it out on people they dislike is wholly unsubstantiated. Doubtless you have encountered a crazy driver on the road who is making you late and making the road unsafe. Did you ram him with your car just because you could? Have you ever been behind someone smaller than you who was taking forever at the ATM, making you late and frustrated? Did you push him aside just because you could?

    Gun ownership certainly is not for everyone. If even after careful, reasoned, dispassionate consideration you do not think yourself capable of using one, don’t get one! It would just be a poor doorstop. Just walk in to a range or take up any of the local gun guys on their offers to take you shooting. Try it out. You do yourself and your family a disservice by refusing to consider it rationally.

  17. Another thing to consider in using a gun to defend yourself is you have to be willing to use it. Otherwise you are putting yourself in more danger.

  18. I am trying to be rational and figure out exactly where I stand on gun ownership and gun control. I don’t want to make a decision based on fear. I am just a Mom. I am not Ted Nugent.

  19. There is nothing wrong with fear. Fear is reasonable. It turns wrong when you let fear overcome you and do nothing about it. If a safely and responsibly handled firearm will mitigate your fears, I say do it. If you decide to, ask us what to get and then we’ll get into those specifics.

  20. I just wanted to make it clear that I don’t think you’re being irrational. Firearm ownership is certainly not for everybody. Weight the risks and the increased responsibilities it brings and make an honest assessment of the circumstances under which you’d use the gun.

    The only thing us gunnies here are doing is ensuring that no bogus statistics are taken at face value and that kneejerk responses are avoided.

    One of the things you have going for you is the fact that you live in a gun-friendly city and state. If you do decide that owning a firearm is the right choice for you and your family, the government does not prohibit you from doing so.

  21. Wow, the mere fact that a mum is thoughts of whether or not to get a gun at all, is unbelievable living as I do in the UK. It would not even be considered here, it would be unusual to have a cricket bat (or baseball bat) in the house for defensive reasons. We have about 65 murders a year in the UK with guns, I think that there are about 8200 in the US. Have a look at http://www.nationmaster.com/
    and make up your own mind if a gun will make you or US society safer.

  22. There have been a lot of great comments from the likes of SayUncle and others, I will not try and add anything substantial to their well thought out arguments and offers (which you should really take them up on).

    My only thought to add is this.

    What are you going to do in the 10 to 20 minutes between the time you call 911 and the the time the police actually arrive?

    As far as comparing the US and the UK you really should as crime (especially violent crime) is on the rise, their answer is to ban anything because god knows the people are not the problem. Especially home invasions and such.

    The UK serves as a warning for the US not an example…

  23. Dave, please remind me of the population of the UK and the US again?

    Cathy, you already sound like you are either too fearful to own a gun or “use” one if the need arises regardless of what one of us “gun nuts” say. I would suggest an alarm system, burglar bars, several large dogs that bark at strange noises, barb wire around your windows and locking your bedroom doors with dead bolts at night. Fear should not be a factor in whether to purcvhase a gun nor to decide “if its ok” for other people to own/buy them.

  24. “Am I for or against private gun ownership?”
    If you have to ask, you are probably against it.

    “How do I decide?”
    How would you decide any issue? I would read about it, get as much information from as many different sources. Remove the sources which are untrustworthy. Look at stats, figures, and numbers in an unbaised manner.

    Of course I am extremly baised toward the gun side. I also feel that once you look at the numbers from both points of view you will probably go buy a gun.

    “What questions must I ask myself?”
    Are you responsible?
    Can you handle responsiblity?
    Would you actually use the gun to protect yourself or your family?

    The asnwer to those questions should be yes before you consider buying.

    I would definatly go to nation master. Look at all the stats for the OCED countires. The us has a lower crime rate than several European countires.

  25. A UNITED Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America.
    England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults while Northern Ireland recorded the fewest.


    While Switzerland has a remarkably low crime rate, even though 17% of households have military assault rifles and many cantons allow concealed carry of handguns.

    Guns are not the cause of violence. Some societies are more violent than others, its that simple. The causes are however very complex.

    If you compare the murder rates in the US and Canada, and eliminate the gun murders, the US still has a higher rate than Canada. Americans are more violent than Canadians, but are less violent than Britons.

  26. Justin you’re sounding a bit self-righteous there. I’m not afraid of guns. I was raised in a household with guns and went along on several of my relatives hunting trips. I’ve collected dead quail and watched a deer be field dressed. When I left home I planted myself in guns are for killing land and supported gun control. Recently I realized don’t see things so black and white. Now I’m trying to decide exactly where I stand.

  27. “We have about 65 murders a year in the UK with guns,”

    Yeah, but you have more violent crime. You can pick any measure and get the result you want.

  28. Dave,

    I took a look at http://www.nationmaster.com, specifically this page: http://www.nation

    I’m not fully up to speed with respect to the gun laws of all the contries on th
    at list, but I do know that South Africa, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Mexico, and Costa
    Rica have very restrictive gun laws. You’ll need to explain why these countries
    have significantly higher rates of firearm murders than the US if you want to ex
    plain that stringent gun laws correlate to fewer murders. You will also need to
    explain why countries with relatively permissive gun laws like Switzerland and I
    srael (and to a lesser extent, Canada) have per-capita murder rates that are sig
    nificantly lower that the US. Could it be that people intent on murdering others
    will do so with whatever means available, and those who are uninterested in mur
    der decline to do so irrespective of whether or not a firearm is available? Sele
    ctively choosing a single data point is misleading at worst and proves nothing a
    t best.

    Speaking of UK statistics, I also took at look at the Crime in England and Wales
    2003/04 report (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/hosb1004.pdf — linked
    from http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk). On page 67 the report notes some 1,100,000 inc
    idents of violent crime. The UK has about 60,000,000 people, for a per-capita ra
    te of about 18 incidents per 1,000 people. The US, according to the FBI Uniform
    Crime Report (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/violent_crime/ind
    ex.html) had about 1,400,000 incidents of violent crime. The US has about 296,00
    0,000 people, for a per-capita violent crime rate of about 5 incidents per 1,000
    people. If more guns equals more murders, do more guns equal less violent crime
    ? I would suggest that there is more going on than can be discovered with a simp
    le glance at a selective group of statistics.

    (I don’t know if the definitions of “violent crime” used in the UK Home Office r
    eport and the FBI report are identical. A cursory look shows them to be pretty c
    lose but these are not perfect apples-to-apples comparisions.)

  29. Hi Cathy,

    I think some posters are confusing what you are asking. You are not asking if you should own a gun but how you should feel about others owning guns and perhaps how you should feel about gun control, correct?

    I believe there are basically 3 types of gun owners
    1) honest, law abiding citizens who treat the right to keep and bear arms seriously and responsibly
    2) honest, law abiding citizens who are not so serious or responsible and get into trouble with their weapon
    3) criminals or those with no regard for the law

    Gun control laws are passed to keep guns out of the hands of group 3. But by their very definition, criminals do not respect laws telling them they cannot own guns. Laws banning guns only have an effect on group #1 and group #2, the effect of which is disarming honest citizens.

    In an essay this week by John Stossel, he quotes several criminals he met in maximum security prison of their opinions on gun control:

    “I’m not going in the store to buy no gun so, I could care less if they had a background check or not.”

    “There’s guns everywhere. If you got money, you can get a gun.”

    Gun control laws universally fail at the one thing they are intended to do. That is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The only people who dutifully hand over their weapons when required to by the state are groups #1 and #2. It’s a nasty truth that gun control laws do not faze those who seek to do harm any more than laws against rape or murder do.

    I differentiated groups #1 and #2 for a specific reason. There seems to be widespread fear that even law abiding gun owners will eventually run amok. I am of the opinion that most people who think that are merely projecting like David does up above. Just because he would have become violent doesn’t mean most other people will.

    Some states do track and publish the statistics of the ratio of group #2 to group #1. The following are permit revocation rates for states that track/publish the statistic.

    Florida: 798,732 issued, 146 (0.02%) revoked due to firearm crimes by licensees. (Dept. of State, 10/1/87-2/29/02)
    Kentucky: 71,770 valid permits, 585 (0.8%) revoked for any reason. (State Police, 10/1/96-12/31/01)
    Louisiana.: 15,319 issued, 67 (0.4%) revoked for any reason. (State Police, (11/1/96-2/28/02)
    Oklahoma: 35,329 issued, 108 (0.30%) revoked for any reason. (SBI, 2/28/ 2002)
    North Carolina: 47,046 issued, 242 (0.5%) revoked for any reason. (SBI, 12/1/95-9/29/01)
    South Carolina: 33,492 issued, 164 (0.5%) revoked for any reason. (SLED, 8/96-5/26/02)
    Texas: 223,584 issued, 1,772 (0.8%) revoked for any reason. (DPS, 1/1/96-5/1/02)
    Tennessee.: 130,187 issued, 1,126 (0.9%) revoked for any reason. (DPS, 12/96-5/4/02)
    Utah: 44,173 issued, 565 (1.3%) revoked for any reason. (Dec. 31, 2001)
    Virginia: 172,347 issued, 372 (0.2%) revoked for any reason. (State Police, 7/95-4/02)
    Wyoming: 7,480 issued, 20 (0.3%) revoked for any reason. (Dept. of Criminal Investigation, 10/1/94-2/02)

    So as you can see, group #2 as I defined up top are a fraction of a percentage. These statistics are for permits revoked for _any_ reason. The majority of those permits were revoked for reasons other than violence or criminal activity involving guns. Gun owners as a whole are about the most law abiding and responsible demographic in the nation. Group #2 is such a minority population of #1.

    I however believe in protecting the liberty of individual gun ownership based on principle rather than statistics. Once the government starts depriving people of liberties because they might abuse them, our experiment in democracy and freedom is over.

    If putting hard constraints on the Second Amendment would keep us safer, why not the pesky Fifth Amendment? If we could lock up criminals with out due process, think of how much safer we would all be. We might catch a lot of innocent people in the process, but the net gain would be safety for the rest of us.

    The right to gun ownership is a personal decision and not necessarily for everyone. But it is a right that should absolutely be protected and maintained.

  30. Checking in as a gun owner here. I’m tweaky about my kids at people’s houses who have guns, but it’s a control thing. I KNOW where my guns are, where my ammo is, and how to use it. I teach my kids safety, but there’s still curiosity level.

    So I do know what you’re saying Cathy. It’s just something you’ve got to decide for yourself. When your kids are not with you, it’s a whole different thing to let go of that control. That’s the scariest part – guns or no guns.

  31. SayUncle, Fun Bob, et al, have provided some good info. I’ll add a bit…

    I’m a gun owner. I have a concealed carry permit. When asked by friends and relatives why I carry a gun “everywhere” (I don’t, really), I simply reply, “For the same reason you wear your seat belt: You don’t PLAN to use it, but if you need it, by gummy, you need it NOW.”

    Maybe I’m off on a tangent here…if so, sorry. There are lots of great training programs and/or people (SayUncle being one of them, apparently) who will be more than willing to help you learn to shoot, using their firearms, should you decide you want to give it a try.

    If you were anywhere near me, I would offer, too, though I’m no professional.

    Good luck!

  32. Like Fun Bob, I’d like to address your concerns over knowing that you live in an armed society.

    I started a charity 14 years ago, teaching violent crime victims the skills they needed for self defense. Most of my students are the most vulnerable people imaginable, and IÂ’ve gained a certain measure of fame for training the elderly and those with physical disabilities. Some of them arenÂ’t disabled or weak at all, but they were victimized in spite of that. IÂ’ve had the honor of having over 600 people take my course.

    If thereÂ’s one thing that my students have proven time and again is that firearms are necessary to protect the innocent. With guns they might have had a chance, without guns they were screaming meat.

    The aftermath of a violent crime isnÂ’t pretty. The person that existed before the attack is destroyed, replaced by someone who has great difficulty doing things that the rest of us take in stride. Relationships suffer from the emotional strain, their health will probably deteriorate.

    In many cases knowing that they can prevent or end another attack allows the victim to begin to put their life back together. Most of them become fierce advocates for self defense, determined to protect anyone who is near from an experience like their own. This wouldnÂ’t be possible if they were quaking mice, afraid to emerge from their homes into the light of day.

    It is your own personal choice if you decide to avoid guns for the rest of your life. But please consider: if you advocate outlawing all personal firearms then you are in favor of destroying peopleÂ’s lives, because that is what happens when you remove all hope of living free from fear.

    James R. Rummel

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