Why Do People Own Guns?

          Are you on the brink of viewing civilian gun ownership in a more positive light? Are you considering purchasing your first firearm? Or are you just a person who is genuinely baffled by the people who take it upon themselves to purchase and use firearms? Either way, I have some things that you may want to know in order to make some sense of the situation.

          As anyone could expect, there are a variety of reasons a person may own a firearm but they all fit pretty neatly into 4 categories. Those include recreation, competition, utility, and self defense. Since these one or two word names-of-categories can’t provide a thoughtful explanation for someone who isn’t familiar with gun culture as to why people own them, I decided I shall give it a try at enlightening those on the fence or those on the anti-gun side who are willing to learn more on the subject of gun ownership.


          The simplest reason that a person may use to justify owning anything, let alone firearms, is recreation. Reaction is simply an activity done for enjoyment. Some people buy certain guns for the enjoyment of handling, owning and shooting historical significant guns or military surplus firearms from around the world. Others tend to buy guns that are featured in their favorite video games, movies, and TV shows. One type of hobby shooting that I enjoy the most is shooting clay pigeons. Clay pigeons are bright orange flying disks made of a fragile material which causes them to break-up easily as to clearly indicate a hit. I have always enjoyed going out to one of my friends rural home with a box of clays, some shotguns, and ammo to smash them with. It makes for a fun group activity but I’d say the affair that is most commonly associated with leisure-shooting is called “plinking”. Plinking is named such because it typically involves shooting guns that use low-cost, low-power ammunition at reactive targets like metal cans and specially designed hardened steel targets. The sound “plink” can be heard when landing shots on these kinds of targets. You may have heard of the ever-pervasive .22 caliber rimfire cartridge known as .22 Long Rifle. This would be the cartridge most used when shooting for fun, not that other cartridges aren’t just as fun to shoot. Another shooting activity that has recently risen in the amount participation is something known as long-range precision rifle shooting. It involves firing high-powered rifles at steel gong targets that are usually located from 200 to 1000 yards away. This is more of a rich man’s game, though.


          Many things that fall into the category of hobby typically have a professional side to them and shooting certainly is one of those activities. Some of these competitions, which can net the winners cash and trophies, include cowboy action shooting, the biathlon, practical shooting (combat shooting), clay and skeet shooting, long range and benchrest shooting, bullseye shooting, and field shooting. The rules and procedures differ from competition to competition but the entirety of these events listed above include the use of shotguns, rifles, and pistols, shooting at near and far distances, engaging one or more stationary and moving targets, and either from a single position or multiple positions in which the athlete must run to. Some of these events are rushed and feature rapid fire sequences while others provide ample time for participants to complete their turn. The governing bodies of these events include the National Skeet Shooting Association, the International Practical Shooting Confederation, the Single Action Shooting Society, and the International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations. Some people that have made a name for themselves participating in these competitions include Jerry Miculek, Lena Miculek, Julie Golob, Spencer Hoglund, Rob Leatham, Robert Vogel, and Kim Rhode.


          When I say people own guns for the sake of utility I am referring to uses that aren’t for the joy of it and are practical for completing a job or mundane task but don’t include self defense. Obviously mercenaries, soldiers, policeman, and corrections officers use firearms for their jobs and people like Jerry Miculek have used guns to make a living so it is practical in that sense but the class of use I am referring to would be for things like hunting, pest control, and protecting livestock. Let me break those down some more. Hunting for your food is a very common activity and has been one of man’s primary means of obtaining calories for a great long while. All wild predators must do the same thing that hunters do which is locating prey, killing it, and consuming it. I for one, admire the self-sustaining/independent qualities that hunting for food possesses but that isn’t here nor there. The bottom line is that harvesting animals for food is a reason for people to own guns. Pest control is another reason. Guns are used to dispatch unwanted and dangerous animals like poisonous snakes that find there way onto rural properties, or invasive species of animals and animals that are extremely destruction to property like the Eurasian wild boars that are currently tearing up Texas farms. Additionally, farmers and owners of rural land may shoot encroaching predators such as coyotes to prevent them from attacking, killing or spreading disease to pets and livestock.

Self Defense

          The most blatant reason for a person to own a firearm is to ensure their own safety and their friend’s and family’s safety in the face of a threat. Many people understand that they are the ones who are truly responsible for their own well being and that they will always be the most critical responder to their crisis situation. Simply based on what has happened in the past, the potential threats one may need to fight off could include the common street thug, deeply troubled people carrying out asocial violence, attacking animals, irrational violent mobs, invading foreign armies and even there own government (I know those last two will sound absurd to some but please stay with me here. I need you!).

          A self defense related reason for owning guns that is much more massive in scope, is the anticipation of a without-rule-of-law situation in which society becomes fundamental damaged. In this case, emergency responders would either be naturally disbanded or rendered over-burdened from the chaos of civil unrest whether it be during a short term disaster like large riots, food shortages, natural catastrophes, or energy disasters such as the failure of a nuclear power plant or long term disasters like a world war or hyper inflation/economic depression of a high magnitude. Some suspect a financial collapse is soon to strike the United States due to government monetary policy directed by the Federal Reserve and the factional reserve banking paradigm. Others anticipate natural disaster is more likely to be the event that disrupts comfortable, modern life. Obviously, people who own guns for such an event are expecting that their fellow man will become more brazen, desperate, irrational, and violent from the high amount of stress that civil breakdown will put on people thus they will need force-multipliers like firearms to defend from a spike in violence.

          Estimates vary but it is pretty obvious and undeniable that a person is able to defend with a firearm when attacked. Additionally, many Americans of the independent and strong-willed variety already believe that their self-preservation is their own endeavor. They have firearms around the house and carry firearms for defense and they do it without issue. As much as some would like to lead others to believe, safely handling and keeping firearms is not a hard task. It absolutely doesn’t require any amount military or police experience. Guns are simple mechanical devices and they are tools that require human intervention. They aren’t powered by black magic and the only times they can “go off on their own” is if the gun is cocked, loaded, and suffers from a mechanical failure in the trigger or sear components, which is rare enough to the point where I have never experienced one nor heard of one truly happening. Out of all the 1,000’s of rounds I have fired I have never had a gun go off “accidentally” or by mechanical failure. At the end of the day, there is no justifying the threat of government violence against those who simply make it their business to defend themselves from undue trauma.

          If you are anti-gun or in the middle of the road I hope you take a moment, right now, to attempt to extrapolate the idea that if people can commit overwhelming violence on innocent victims then people can absolutely commit overwhelming violence on aggressors, even without having a magical police badge or special power-granting soldier’s uniform in their possession. Now, I know my above comment about vicious invading foreign armies and tyrannical governments may sound very unbelievable to some but if you extend the same logic about violence being able to go both ways then you will realize that at the very least it is not impossible. Now, you will want to know if it is probable. Take into consideration the Vietnam War, the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980’s, and the current American War on Terror. In the Vietnam War, the American forces had to withdraw and South Vietnam was absorbed by the communist N.V.A. forces plus communist governments sprang up in the region. Hint, the superpower called America, lost. In the Soviet-Afghan War, the invading Soviets attempted to plant a communist government in Afghanistan but when it was all said and done the Soviet’s left without getting their way after a 9-year war fighting Mujahideen guerrillas. You are probably aware of the American War against Terrorism. Its in its 16th year of U.S. and coalition troops fighting sandal-wearing, AK-toting, improvised-bomb-building, third world radicals. Surely this war should be done by now if you believe superpower government militaries are unstoppable steam rollers. I’m not saying a victory is guaranteed for a smaller, less technologically advanced force when fighting a large traditional army. That goes against my intuition. I am saying that combat isn’t as simple as what a bunch of trendy, first-world no-nothings think. Conflicts aren’t turn-based games calculated by weapon stats. Furthermore, these types of asymmetric match-ups are fought with asymmetrical warfare and guerrilla tactics. It isn’t a direct, head-on battle between two forces. It is a highly agile, hard to distinguish group of people dotted among the normal population over a large area, attacking with speed and attacking support elements of a conventional standing army. These are highly dynamic and difficult to predict situations.

          Even without these concepts being stated, do you think an armed population could at least slow or give an attacking force hesitation. Call me crazy, but I think a squad of soldiers accomplishes things slower when they face an armed population as apposed to facing area where the population has been subject to generations of gun control laws. Additionally, resisting government tyranny doesn’t just mean fighting the national military. Federal agencies and local governments are just as capable of being ruthless and unjust thus the need for defense still stands. Also, the need to defend against invading armies set on conquest is even more likely in the event of a financial disaster where government is weakened and appears as a good opportunity to outside nations. In such an incident, I am a lot better of having a means of force such as a rifle, than I am simply banking on the mercy of strangers from a different culture who don’t know or care about me.

          People do have a reason to own guns. They actually have multiple. Heck, there is a lot on the line in the event some of these end up happen, which they probably will at some point. Please consider what I said in good faith. Take a moment to breath and consider my ideas. Now, I hope you are at least a hair more accepting of the idea since I have thrown those concepts onto the table.

          Alright, gun control proponents? what do you think? Have I answered any questions? Did I clear up any mysteries through my explanations? Did I happen to raise more questions and loose-ends than answers. Feel free to leave any serious questions and feedback in the comment section below. Remember to take the time formulating any feedback. And as always, thank you for reading my article.