Owning a gun is a serious responsibility, but owning a gun is also having access to a tool capable of protecting life and property. With training and practice, a person can develop practical marksman skills which will help them confront violent crime and temporary states of emergency. Owning a gun also opens doors to shooting sports which are growing in popularity throughout the United States.
Self-defense is a Civil Right
American citizens have exercised the right to bear arms to combat corrupt political rule throughout its history. Quoted from a speech in 1867 by American writer, statesmen, abolitionist, and social reformer Frederick Douglass:
A man’s right rests in three boxes: The ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box.
During and after the Civil War, Douglass emphatically advocated for the bearing of arms as a means for black Americans to defend themselves against direct and open targeted violence. In absence of equal protection from elected authorities, the need for defense against racially-targeted violence and disenfranchisement would officially persist for more than a century until the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
Personal Protection and Home Defense
Being prepared to defend one’s home has been determined to be the best strategy against a home invasion. A 2013 Executive-commissioned study by the Center for Disease Control concluded that defensive use of a firearm during a violent home invasion was consistently effective:
Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.
The same study determined that the the number of defensive gun uses, though disputed by methodology, still occur in significant numbers even when using the most conservative estimates:
Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed. Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year , in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.
This study made no safety recommendations to limit the sale or access to firearms in light of their effectiveness in creating positive outcomes. Instead, it points toward identifying and addressing factors that contribute to crime and violence as a public health issue. This includes examining poverty, access to education, counseling and intervention resources.
In 2017, the FBI reported an estimated figure of 1,401,840 burglaries in the United States with at least 3% (44,850) of burglaries resulting in a violent crime. While effective home security requires a multi-layered approach, a firearm is the best option for personal defense during a home invasion .
States of Emergency and Civil Unrest
While large-scale violent civil disorder is very rare in the United States, events such as Hurricane Katrina and the 1992 LA Riots illustrate illustrate the explosive nature of civil unrest does occur.
By mid-morning, violence appeared widespread and unchecked as extensive looting and arson were witnessed across Los Angeles County. Rioting moved from South Central Los Angeles, going north through the neighborhoods of Central Los Angeles before reaching Hollywood. The looting and fires engulfed Hollywood Boulevard, before rioting erupted in the neighboring independent cities….
Communities abandoned or stranded from police and the National Guard were forced to band together and defend themselves from violence and lawlessness during the riots. Many residents armed themselves and stationed themselves to defend their property.
The lack of law enforcement forced Koreatown residents to organize their own armed security teams, mainly composed of store owners, to defend their businesses from looters…Open gun battles were televised, including an incident in which Korean shopkeepers armed with M1 carbines, Ruger Mini-14s, pump-action shotguns, and handguns exchanged gunfire with a group of armed looters, and forced their retreat.
While civil unrest is largely rare and isolated, natural disasters can cause prolonged outages of power, transport, and emergency services. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, flooding, and wildfires routinely disrupt power, government, and emergency services in affected areas.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina created an unprecedented state of emergency, with a severe shortage of resources to aid those stranded without power, police, or access to rescue. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy knocked out power across every Atlantic state with many areas deprived of power and fuel for weeks. In both cases, local and federal agencies underestimated the impact of these imminent severe weather events.
Fire departments, police, and EMS are usually incapable of responding to all but the most severe requests with some areas being entirely cut off depending on the severity of the disaster. While the total breakdown of assistance and authority is rare, it pays to have a firearm and be prepared for any short-term period where utilities and government are offline.
Hunting and Conservation
The abundance of small and large game plays a significant role in supplementing the American diet while helping to restore an ecosystem unbalanced by loss of habitat and lack of predators. Many species such as deer and wild boar require population control to prevent mass starvation, spread of disease, and to curb the reduction of biodiversity due to overpopulation.
Hunting regulates the method and manner game is harvested during a hunt, and conservationists determine annual tag limits to achieve ideal population sizes for certain game and pest species. Accurate numbers are heavily dependent on the sharing of information between hunters and park conservationists.
Feral hogs are an invasive species which requires culling by hunters and trappers on a large scale. Approximately 6 million feral hogs have spread across the American continent as far north as Canada with greater populations across the Southern United States. Feral hogs cause $4-5 billion worth of crop damage on an annual basis while hog populations also reduce the biodiversity of ecosystems where they choose to settle.
In states such as Texas, feral hogs have been classified as a destructive pest and can be harvested year-round with no tag limit. Is wild boar meat worth harvesting? Here’s statement from the Texas Park and Wild Life Department:
[M]eat from feral hogs is extremely tasty and much leaner than penraised pork. The meat from older boars may be tougher and rank tasting if not prepared adequately. As with all pork, care should be taken and the meat well cooked. Otherwise, it should be prepared just like market hogs.
Anyone interested in hunting should look into a Hunter’s Education course. Hunter’s Education will guide prospective hunters through basic information regarding firearms, outdoor gun safety, and ethical conservation practices. In addition to in-person classes, Hunter’s Education is now available online through the International Hunter Education Association.
Practical Marksmanship Competition
The fundamentals of marksmanship will always be the core of firearm proficiency, and competitive shooting adds the challenge of summoning these skills under pressure and duress. This element helps build practical marksmanship skills which emphasize consistency and efficiency under adverse conditions.
Practical shooting competitions (IDPA, IPSC) encourage accuracy, speed, and fast gun handling for shooting scenarios using common defensive handguns. These organizations and competitions helped define the “Modern Technique” of firearms currently used by military, police, competition, and defensive marksmen.
Clay pigeon shooting is a shotgun sport that trains accuracy and precision against fast-moving clay targets. Trapshooting is a popular variant of clay pigeon shooting with the Amateur Trapshooting Association of America dating back to 1923; it is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity for adults and school-aged competitors throughout America.
Bowling pin shooting is a form of competitive shooting where shooters race against an opponent to knock bowling pins off a table. Once very popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, bowling pin shooting events are fun, competitive, and they are exciting to watch as a spectator.
Other shooting competitions include multigun competitions where competitors employ two or more types of firearms (handgun, rifle, shotgun) in an arrayed course of targets. Competitors fire from stationary positions while also engaging targets while on the move. The goal is to showcase accuracy, efficiency, and speed in a practical shooting context.
Guns are fascinating pieces of engineering, and many Americans collect guns for their historical and technological value. Each design reflects a chronicle of engineering, technology, and research of its time. Some designs such as John Browning’s M1911 pistol still remains highly sought after more than a 110 years after its introduction, and it has created a legacy of designed based upon replicating its success.
Anyone who has a deep interest in military or police history can own, inspect, and shoot a historical firearm. For many, it provides a hands-on experience that offers a small glimpse of the firearm’s original era. Designed to be reliable even after decades of heavy use, many firearms are worthy as lifelong investments.
- “Ballot Box, Jury Box, Cartridge Box” by Quote Investigator, quoteinvestigator.com. April 9, 2018.
- “The Great Equalizer” by Charles C. W. Cooke, nationalreview.com. August 25, 2014.
- “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence” by Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. National Academies Press. June 5, 2013.
- “Robbery Table 2: Robbery, Llocation Percent Distribution Population Group, 2017” by FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, hcr.fbi.gov. 24 September, 2018.
- “1992 Los Angeles riots” by Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org. 26 June, 2019.
- “Feral Hogs,” by Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife, https://tpwd.texas.gov/. June 5, 2019.
- “Effects of Hurricane in New Orleans” by Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org. June 6, 2019.
- Wikipedia Contributors. (2005, September 11). Views of inundated areas in New Orleans following breaking of the levees surrounding the city as the result of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans, Louisiana. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:00, Resized, June 10, 2019, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wea02630_-_Flickr_-_NOAA_Photo_Library.jpg
- Wikipedia Contributors. (2016, February 16). Open division master class competition shooter. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:00, Resized, June 10, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Open_division_master_class_competition_shooter.jpg