How far should I go to protect my family? #Nitty Gritty#emergency#safety#weapons November 7 | Cat Rocketship Image courtesy Chicks With Guns One of the weirdest conversations I've had as an adult was the time my husband and I talked about safety in our new home. There had been a few home invasions in the area, where men had entered houses at night and demanded money or delivered pistolwhippings. Our conversation wandered from deadbolt locks to mace to, "What if we got a gun?" We'd never discussed gun ownership before — and I don't have many opinions on guns, other than I like shooting my dad's .22 at hay bales. So my head reeled a little bit when hub said, "I'm just not sure I feel comfortable with what owning a gun for self-defense would mean — that I'd have to accept that any time I might pull the trigger I might kill another person." The question just rolled around in my head for a few months, until Lindsay McCrum's book Chicks with Guns came out. It's a collection of portraits of American women and their firearms, and it's…diverse. To have a gun or not to have a gun is a strange conversational space for a woman. Women with firearms are still sort of a novelty — even in the Midwest, I see at least one human interest story a year where a local news crew talks about some lady who likes to hunt. The thought! At the same time, one of the few people I know who owns a gun is my lady housemate (even though she doesn't keep it here). In popular culture, the talk about women and guns often centers on how we should use "less-lethal" methods to protect ourselves because our weapons are likely to be turned against us, and that's sometimes as deep as it goes. Related Post Always be prepared: How much water do I need to keep on hand in case of emergency? If disaster strikes tonight, if Godzilla comes down your street, crushing the pavement, ripping up water lines and making travel difficult, will you be prepared?... Read more That conversation happened months ago, and I'm still not sure if I'm comfortable with owning a gun. Of course, I know deep down in the heat of a scary moment I might feel differently, but right now I don't know if I trust myself enough to make the right decisions when adrenaline is pumping and fight or flight decisions are happening. I don't know if I could own a gun, knowing that I might kill somebody with it, whether they "deserved" it or not. Image courtesy Chicks With Guns For now, we've decided we'd rather not have a gun in our house because we aren't ready for that commitment. Have you had this conversation at home? Did you have any weird adult realizations when you did? Dish. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Cat Rocketship I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things. PREVIOUS Aging beers in casks and imagining pet bats — reader photos NEXT Practice gratefulness today — for your home and all its flaws Show/Hide comments [ 194 ] I don't have a solution here, just an experience to share. I had a similar conversation with my boyfriend before we moved into an apartment together. Although we had both lived outside of our parents' homes for years, this felt like a more "permanent" situation, I guess. Unlike our college years, we were starting to have possessions that someone might consider worth breaking in for. I grew up on a farm with men and women in my family hunting, target shooting, and collecting antique weapons. Somehow, I turned out to be not only a terrible shot, but pretty uncomfortable firing a gun. It actually, embarrassingly, makes me tear up to even fire a handgun at a target. My boyfriend, who hunts occasionally, had mentioned he was considering purchasing a handgun to keep at the apartment. I'd always figured eventually there would be rifles in our house because there always were growing up and how else would you get venison? But never a handgun. I wasn't totally against the idea, but it did make me uncomfortable. For me it was the difference between the two types of guns, one was for hunting and one was for potentially shooting another person. I remember only once growing up seeing my dad grab his rifle to have a conversation with some strangers who had walked into our far-back from the road yard. That was the only defensive thing I'd ever seen my dad do with a gun. And somehow, it was like he could have just been out taking care of a rabid opossum and happened to have his rifle on him. I never finished the conversation with the boyfriend. There isn't currently a gun in our apartment. Might be eventually. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. 7 agree Reply You don't have to kill someone with a gun…you can simply disarm/immobilize them if you take the proper training. You can also get a lazer sight which puts a colored dot exactly where you are aiming. If you get a gun a suggest spending a good deal of time at the local gun range to get used to shooting it. Whatever you do for home safety you should be prepared to use and feel comfortable with because 2 am when a stranger is coming in the window is not the time to learn how to take a trigger guard off or try to find the panic button on your alarm system 22 agree Reply This was not how I was trained. If I am pointing a gun at someone, I am going to try and kill them. That is what guns are for. "Disarming/imobilizing" them is very unlikely – either they will be injured/enraged but mobile, or they will be dying. There's not a lot of middle groud. For that reason, I won't keep a gun for self defense. It's unlikely I could get to a gun, load it, and be prepared for a home invader, and it's much, much more likely that it will be involved in a accidental shooting or a spur-of-the-moment suicide than to protect my family. 56 agree Reply Agreed. If you want to just immobilize someone, get a Taser, I guess. You should never shoot anything you aren't prepared to kill. (You should never POINT your gun at anything you aren't prepared to kill.) 71 agree Reply This a billion, billion times. Guns are meant to be lethal. You don't point one at anyone or anything without the intent to kill them. They are not meant to "disable" and generally, I think people who assume it would be easy to disable someone with a firearm may get the wrong impression from television and/or have never shot a handgun. Even with years of practice, they will still never be "point and click" unless someone is an exceptionally talented shot. You have to be prepared to kill if you point a gun at someone because, even if you're aiming for their kneecaps, there is the very strong possibility you will miss and hit something more vital. If you're not prepared for that, you don't need to own a gun, plain and simple. 25 agree Reply I have a different perspective on this. Growing up with hunters and guns, I was always taught this lesson: "A gun is a tool for killing things. However, if you have the option to seriously injure instead of killing, take it. You shouldn't pick up a gun at all if you aren't okay with the idea of killing another living thing, but that does not mean you should always go for a kill shot." There is one thing guns have over tasers: distance. If I have a gun pointed at my face from across the room, how in the world is a taser or pepper spray going to protect me? They are useless. I will probably get shot and killed before I even get halfway there. I hope I never have to use a gun for self defense against another human being (I did have to kill a coyote once, though). However, if another person comes into my house with the intention of killing me, it will even out the playing field. Many criminals admit that they will back off if they find out the victim has a gun. I am prepared to shoot should I be in that situation, but I am also prepared to try my best not to take life if I can help it. I will try to hold the fort and wait for police to arrive for as long as I can. Just because I have a gun does not mean I have to kill people. It is a last resort weapon only. 13 agree shoot to kill and be ready to be responsible for whatever you do but if you shoot to maim or incopassitate you yourself could be hurt and honestly with how messed up this country is your burgalar could try to sue you for hurting them and win look it up it blows my mind and ticks me off to high hell but its the truth if your that afraid and KNOW beyond any doubt this person is going to hurt you SHOOT TO KILL im sorry to put it like that but its the cold hard truth it makes me sad but its what you should do to protect your life and your children etc. 9 agree Reply the problem with immobilizing is when the scumbag lives, he will sue your pants off you. 21 agree Reply Yeah but it's hard to substantiate a claim like "she assaulted me! Alls I was doing was invading her home so I could thieve and pillage like any honest person does." 5 agree Reply you would think that, and i would honestly love it to be true, but a man sued (and won!!!) the owners of the house he was breaking into because he fell through the sky light and landed on a kitchen counter that had knives on it and cut himself up…. how he won i have no idea….. 14 agree Reply Any sources for that? I'd be really interested to read the details! 2 agree wasn't that from the movie liar liar? 8 agree http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1711925/posts not totally the same but criminals have successfully sued for injuries sustained during b&e's quite frequently 2 agree I know this isn't particularly relevant to you, but here in South Africa it is quite common for people to be arrested for protecting themselves. You can CCTV footage of a person breaking into your home, they could have weapon etc etc etc. But if they claim in court that you invited them into your home and made them a victim, the court will entertain the claim. Here, "shoot to kill" is the sad reality with break-ins, because it is very much a case of "dead bodies tell no lies". I don't know if it is like that in the US (or whereever you are) or not. 4 agree Reply We do have a gun in our home. It was not a hard decision. We don't live in the best of neighborhoods and our house already had bullett holes in it. What we chose was a pistol grip shot gun with the hope of the sound of it being loaded would scare people away without ever firing a shot. 12 agree Reply Oh, really interesting! I grew up in a home with lots of guns, a father who loves hunting, and who takes gun safety very seriously. So even though I've only fired a gun once in my life (and not because my dad didn't think it was worth teaching a girl to shoot — he would have LOVED to, but I wasn't interested), I've known Cooper's rules by heart all my life. He wants to get me a gun — for protection, for fun, because he thinks guns make the best presents — but your husband's description is what I've never been able to put into words: I'm just not sure I feel comfortable with what owning a gun for self-defense would mean — that I'd have to accept that any time I might pull the trigger I might kill another person. I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that sometimes it is OK to kill another person if saving your own life requires it. But it's a big leap from there to "in that situation, I wouldn't panic and lose my shit and it would all go to hell." It's a leap I haven't made, yet. Also those photos are amazing. I want to look at that book. 5 agree Reply I don't like guns much at all. I'm kind of a pacifist. However, my husband likes collecting guns, so we have about eight in our home. We make an odd pair in that way. I don't like it, but our compromise is that we are incredibly safe with them. He has taken hunter safety classes (even though he doesn't hunt) and a concealed carry class (although he never, ever wants to carry). I've gone shooting a couple of times to gain a better understanding of the guns. My husband takes a lot of our friends shooting because they are eager to learn more about guns, and I can appreciate that he is sharing a lot of safety lessons along the way. Our guns are in a safe in a remote spot in the house, with the ammo stored elsewhere. Every gun has a trigger lock and those keys and the safe key are stored far away from the safe. The guns only leave the safe when he is cleaning them or taking them to the range. Because of how we store our guns, they will never be useful for self-defense. Accessing and loading them would take far too long in an emergency. I hope we never feel so unsafe as to need a gun in the nightstand or something like that. We have lots of visitors, including kids (whom we never tell that we have guns, much less where they are). We need to be super vigilant about storage. That's the challenge with planning to have a gun for defense–for it to be useful, you have to make it accessible. Then it's far more likely to be used inappropriately or accidentally than it is to be used for protection. I wrestle with these ideas a lot, because I hope I never need to use a gun yet I live with someone who sees them as a small hobby. I look forward to reading others' perspectives! 11 agree Reply Never! Never! Never! But I have the luxury of living somewhere where I'm statistically safer than I'm guessing many places where other readers live (in Canada). This is also part of the reason I'd never live in the States 🙁 Sorry if that sounds harsh. 19 agree Reply I think your view of the States might be a little bit of a generalization. I've been passively considering moving to Canada for the last couple years, and one of the first things I did was read a couple Canadian news sites to see what goes on in certain areas in the way of crime. There were just as many murders and acts of violence on those sites as I see on American news sites. The fact of the matter is that crazy people can lurk anywhere, and anyone can be a target. I feel very safe where I live (suburban Chicago), but I still keep my guard up when I go places because it's the common sense thing to do. At the risk of sounding paranoid, you're never 100% safe no matter where you are. The world's a pretty messed up place. But I'd still like to move to Canada someday. 🙂 13 agree Reply I'll totally agree that it's a huge generalization to assume Canada is safer: I won't walk alone at night in downtown Halifax, but my American roommate, from small-town Vermont, is used to safety at night. But as a journalist and an editor, I'll say that checking local media sites is not really the way to go if you want to get a sense of an overall crime rate. The fact is that crime sells papers (although that's not a discussion I want to get into) and that no matter where you go there will be extensive media coverage of bad news. The media is hugely selective and does not necessarily paint an accurate overall picture of a country, unfortunately. 12 agree Reply That's also true. It just seemed like the commenter above me was basing his/her views on the States only on what's reported in the media — which, as you said, always reports the bad news — so it seemed only fair to point out that Canadian media also report the bad news. There are lots of lovely, super-safe towns in the U.S., just like there are some not-so-safe places in Canada (and every country). Like I said, you're not 100% safe anywhere. You just have to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. And maybe learn to kick some ass, as I'm now inspired to do after reading Cat's link. 🙂 1 agrees Reply Exactly. And, if you look at statistics, overall, Canada is safer than the States. So it may be a generalization, but it's true. It's just that statistics at the national level don't necessarily mean much at a local level. 7 agree Reply Yep I agree! That was a generalization! I certainly don't feel safe in some areas of big cities here, like anywhere. I avoid certain streets not too far from my home, mostly to avoid harassment as a woman but partly for a legit fear for my safety. I guess I was thinking more about gun culture in general. It's simply smaller in Canada. It does exist, but not in my (mostly urban) circles. Like the commenter in the UK talked about, the attitude to guns in the US is historical and constitutional (right?), so it's restricted to the US to a large extent. I do feel generally safer in Canada not necessarily due to statistics of home invasions, etc but because of the lack of gun culture. I NEVER think about if someone I meet in the street or who knocks on my door has a gun on him because it simply doesn't occur to me. And for good reason. It would never ever occur to me or my male or female friends to own a gun unless we were on a farm, so the fact that this issue is coming up on this site says something about the US-base of this site. Which is fine! It's just interesting to me. I do however have one American friend from Wisconsin who misses her rifles! I was (naively) shocked when I heard about that! And I judged her on it.. I'm rethinking that now after reading all this cause it seems more normal than I thought. 6 agree Reply Well now that you've clarified, I agree completely. I forget sometimes that the whole gun culture is largely an American thing, and it's definitely something that makes me nervous as well. 1 agrees Reply I'm American and it would never occur to me or any of my friends to own a gun, either. But that wasn't true when I lived in a rural area–plenty of people had guns there. I wouldn't be surprised if someday you meet someone from rural Saskatchewan who also misses her rifles… 1 agrees Reply I lived blocks from one of the most dangerous cities in the US (Camden, NJ) for a few years. Not to make light of the crime that does happen, but it's not like you walk around and there are murders and muggings going on all over the place. I left my windows open (not unlocked, but OPEN) regularly, and nobody ever broke in (not the smartest thing, I know). No matter where you live, there's a certain amount of common sense safety precaution everyone should abide by. Be aware of your surroundings, don't make yourself a target, and stay out of the worst neighborhoods. 1 agrees Reply To an extent, I agree. I am a Canadian too. However, I live in the 4th or 7th (I forget which) highest murder rate cities in the country! But our gun violence is extremely low (while stabbings are the "preferred" method of violence). And whenever you do hear about gun violence, it's always with illegally obtained weapons. The thing that would make me second guess moving to the US (even though I love parts of it), is how EASY it is to get guns. In Canada, it's a huge process, which I like. I also like that many weapons are illegal here, and that US travellers and immigrants cannot bring their weapons in. So while Canada can still be violent, it's the gun culture of America that I don't like. 6 agree Reply It's easy to get guns in some places, but not all. Every state has its own laws. My home state of New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. From Wikipedia: In New Jersey, firearm owners are required to get a lifetime Firearm Purchaser card for the purchase of rifles, shotguns or handguns. To purchase a handgun, a separate permit is needed from the local police department for each handgun to be purchased and expires after 90 days. These, like the initial Firearms Identification card (FID), are provided to applicants on a shall-issue basis. They require in-depth application questioning, multiple references and background checks via the State Bureau of Identification and New Jersey State Police; however, authorities do not have discretion and must issue permits to applicants who satisfy the criteria described in the statutes. NJ law states that Firearms Identification approval and/or handgun purchase permit(s) must be issued within 30 days; however, this rule is frequently ignored and permits and/or ID cards often take several months to be issued. Applicants are able to appeal the denial of permits. Looks pretty stringent to me. And while there is certainly a "gun culture" in America, it's definitely regional. I wouldn't say there's much of a gun culture where I live. I've known people who hunt, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen a gun with my own eyes in the 33 years I've lived here (not including police officers). 2 agree Reply I don't know much about Canada but I live in Virginia close to Washington, DC. DC which has very strict gun laws but has A LOT of gun violence. This is likely because its nestled in between 2 states that aren't as strict. Despite being in close proximity to DC and the fact that its easier to obtain guns in Virginia, there aren't that many places I truly feel uncomfortable in while in Virginia at least. 2 agree Reply I don't know if I'd blame the intensity of gun laws (and their variance from state to state) as much as the huge black market. I bet if you were looking for a gun and asked the "right" (read: wrong! very bad!) people, you wouldn't have to deal with any red tape, so long as you could manage to get to someone's car trunk with a couple of bucks. 2 agree Totally agree that it's regional. I've known a couple of hunters (friends' dads), but have never actually SEEN a gun in someone's home, including when I lived in Iowa. In the Northern coastal cities I've lived in for most of my life, I think gun ownership pretty uncommon and (to counter one of the comments from Canada) whether or not someone has a gun is certainly not something I ever feel I have to think about. Though, to be fair, I did know one Wall St guy in Manhattan who collected all kinds of ridiculous weapons (including things like Uzis), but he was a fucking psycho and apparently acquired them illegally. 1 agrees Reply We have guns in our house. For protection, for fun (.22), and for hunting. I don't have any issues with that. What would be awesome would be a roundup of "how to have a gun safe in your house without looking ridiculous/like you live in Cabellas." Def. offbeat. 15 agree Reply We had a gun safe in our house growing up. It totally looked like we lived in Cabella's. I think the thing may have been purchased as Cabella's! It had a really complicated combination, which would have made it impossible to open quickly in an emergency, and it just screamed "I CONTAIN ALL THE GUNS AND JEWELRY AND IMPORTANT PAPERS IN THE HOUSE! IT'S ALL RIGHT HERE!!!" Fortunately, it was wayyy too big to be carried off by robbers. But if I had a gun safe these days, I'd want it to be more inconspicuous. 3 agree Reply A DIY or Mid Century Modern Gun Safe project would definitely be a great OBH post!!! 9 agree Reply I would LOVE to see this too. Our gun safe is a big eyesore. Reply Instead, you should get a safe that CAN be carried off, and leave all the important papers somewhere else. 2 agree Reply My parents have a gun safe for my dad's hunting rifles. It's in a closet in their bedrooom. No one knows that behind the closet door there aren't more clothes but a big ass safe. I realize this isn't a solution for most people. Reply We have our giant gun/other stuff safe bolted to the concrete floor in our basement. It's not going anywhere and very few people ever go to our basement. We have smaller handgun safes in our bedrooms, but they're just inside drawers or behind books. 1 agrees Reply My husband is a veteran and loves to target shoot. It's turned into a hobby since he did so much of it in the Army. We have what is essentially an assault rifle in our home (and he's getting another one for Christmas from yours truly). For my part, guns scare the living sh!t out of me because I didn't grow up with them, and my father is pretty terrified of them too. But when Rob bought his gun, despite my tears and panic attacks, he had me fire it at the range and understand the safety concerns that go into gun ownership. Gun safety is extremely important to him. He told me that if we were going to have such a powerful object in the house, I best know how it works and how to respect it. He has said many times that when we have children we will (1) have locks on it and (2) teach them the importance of gun safety and respect. So while I hardly ever touch the thing (and when I do I clear it about 17 times) the idea of its existence in my home does make me feel somewhat safer, as we live in a rural area that has a lot of drug-related robberies. My husband has said many times, however, that one should not confront a burglar with it unless one is prepared to shoot them, because once you hold a gun up to someone they are at that point threatened, and may use any weapons against you to protect their own skin. I think that if I were alone and a burglar came into the house I'd hide under the bed and hope for the best, quite honestly, haha! I think if neither of you are 110% comfortable with holding a gun, you shouldn't own one, period. They require a lot of respect and knowledge and there are a lot of things at stake should you ever find yourself needing to use it. I'm sure there are gun safety classes you can take where you can hold guns and practice shooting to see if it's something you're comfortable with. 12 agree Reply i went from a gun hater to a collector in a few short years. owning a firearm in Baltimore, to me, is a no-brainer. i live in a "nice" part of town, but break-ins are a daily occurrence in my area. going for nonlethal options ONLY works if you're able to actively escape your attacker – in your home, you should NOT have to escape. i've talked about this at length in my blog here and here, and my SO wrote a post about it here. there are things you can do to secure your home from an invader, but those are mostly deterrents. if someone wants in, they're coming in, and if you happen to be there when they are your life is at risk. the police are not there to protect you, and please remember, if you DO call them and they DO actually come out, they will always be too late. when seconds count, the police are minutes away. overall…please, be careful. have exterior lights on your home that light up all doorways. lock all doors and windows, and make sure you have windows that cannot be jimmied open. 13 agree Reply I respectfully disagree with everything you just implied about my police family. I do agree, though, that the best plan for self defense is to have a plan to defend yourself rather than leaving it to others. 2 agree Reply I have a friend whose ex-husband is a police officer. He has stated that the job of the police is to catch criminals, not prevent crime. "To 'protect and serve' is just PR." Now there are, no doubt, plenty of officers who will risk their necks to stop a crime in process, but I doubt he is alone in his view that that is not actually his job. 11 agree Reply This was NOT meant as an insult, but what is now considered legal precedent. Individual officers are a different matter completely. On the whole, the police exist to keep the peace, NOT to help individuals, and in my little microcosm it's rare to encounter an officer who's actually worth his meager salary. I met one when I lived in an apartment, and I wish I'd bothered to get his name…he really cared about his job and cared about keeping people safe. When we had a break-in in our building he made a point to check on me since I was the only single lady in the building, and he wanted to make sure I felt safe. I fully respect officers who do their jobs, do them well, and actually treat people properly. I do not respect officers/entire police forces who refuse to investigate whole categories of crime. Last year, Baltimore police refused to investigate rapes, and frequently refused to fill out paperwork after victims reported it. For every good cop, there's a crapload of bad. 17 agree Reply While I am fully prepared to shoot an intruder if it came to that I did purchase a pump action shot gun so that hopefully the noise would scare the person off before it came to that. Even the gun store owner said that the sound of a pump action shotgun being cocked is usually enough to scare anyone away! 6 agree Reply It's certainly not a bad idea to keep a shotgun in the house! 1 agrees Reply That sound is THE reason I want a pump action shotgun in my home. Hopefully after the boy and I get our own place, I'll get one. I know he already owns guns, I just don't know what kind. 3 agree Reply it just occurred to me that my previous comment breaks the rules. i seem to be on a roll with that. 🙁 my whole point, in a nutshell: the cops don't have to protect you. there is now legal precedent showing this (look up Warren v. District of Columbia for more info). even if the cops do come out, they're always minutes away when seconds count the most. if you're in an area where you're questioning your safety, decide how far you're willing to go to protect a loved one who may be staring down the barrel of a gun. would you kill to protect them? if so, get trained – yes, both of you – and carefully shop for a firearm. if not, do your best to seem less enticing. secure all windows and doors. have lights outside all entryways, and keep them on all night long. light up the whole dang street if you must. if you buy expensive items, break down the boxes into smaller pieces, and keep them in the trash rather than putting them out for recycling. putting them on the curb is like a neon sign saying PLEASE BREAK INTO MY HOME AND STEAL MY STUFF. also, consider a safe for particularly precious items. or consider moving. all in all, please be careful. 7 agree Reply I own a gun. My dad trades, sells and restores guns and he gave me a little .22 pistol. I don't have it with my in my apartment because I don't have a permit, but I would. Would I shoot someone and kill/injure them for entering my apartment? I'll let you know if (God forbid) I find out. My roommate was possibly almost carjacked once (we weren't sure what the person's motive was, but they reached inside her cracked window.) That's really the closest we've ever come to a situation in which a gun might be handy, aside from occasional poisonous snakes in/around my parents' property. 2 agree Reply you need a permit to keep a .22 in your home? in what state do you reside? 1 agrees Reply She may not have a permit to own the firearm. Though if her dad sells, owns and restores, you'd think he'd have taken care of that… Reply again, this is a state-specific thing. in most states one does not need a permit to own a firearm of any kind. to my knowledge (i am not a lawyer, nor am i up on the laws of other states), New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the only states that require a permit to own a firearm, but those permits act as concealed carry permits as well. the District of Columbia also requires a permit to own a pistol, but not to own a long gun (and one cannot carry in the District). if dootsiebug doesn't live in one of the aforementioned locations, i'd like to know mostly to update my own list of information. 3 agree Reply Illinois also has extremely strict laws on who is allowed to own a gun/rifle (old anti-mob laws ala Chicago) and I believe California has strict laws on who is allowed to own a handgun though I don't recall details since I haven't been there in years. Illinois requires police/military affiliation I believe. Also, some states like Florida limit where a resident can purchase handguns/rifles and the other 49 states restrict sales to those residents. My husband and I travel extensively so we are constantly having to check gun laws across states and they are annoyingly inconsistent. 3 agree It's considered concealed carry to have a firearm in your home within reach here, and it's against the law without a permit. No one's going to arrest me for that, but there can be fines if you discharge the gun. I live in an apartment, so a lot of complexes have clauses about firearms in their leases. In a couple of leases I've looked at, having one at all in the apartment without a license is grounds for eviction. Reply …whoa. seriously? now i'm dying to know what part of the country/world you live in, because i have only heard that in relation to D.C. though i totally understand not sharing, you've piqued my curiosity. i think i'll be googling the answer. 1 agrees Reply Oh, no, more than fine. I'm in Kentucky! Quick Guide to the Law Kentucky's law is actually pretty in line with a lot of other states (as far as I'm aware) with concealed carry, though most people just don't know that it's like this. They think because they bought it by proper channels and don't have it under a trench coat, that they're free and clear under the law. And that's not quite so! Like I said before… who's going to get you in trouble for doing what TONS of other people are doing? Probably no one. But in the event of an accidental or intentional discharge, it's just a bit safer to have a permit! The form won't allow me to respond to your last comment, but thanks for the information. You're the first person I've encountered who owns a firearm in Kentucky, so I honestly had no idea! Reply We have two handguns in our apartment and our rifles and shotguns are in a safe at my in-laws. We do go hunting (well more the hubby then me) and we do a lot of target practice. It is fun for us. But the handguns are for protection, both in the home and for when we go camping. Where we live, has one of the lowest crime rates but I wasn't raised in this area. I was raised in areas where you always locked your doors and did everything you can to keep your self safe (sad to say my father was in the military and military families are not always placed in safe areas). So my hubby and I had the conversation once we had kids. We decided guns provide a good piece of mind. The kids cannot get to them and in a miracle if they could get to them, no way their fingers could undo the trigger lock. A little story to show that you need to be comfortable with your gun and what you can do with it: My hubby was out hunting and I was home alone with the kids (including my 16 yo bother). Around 2AM, I was woken up hearing someone in the front of the apartment (by the front door). Once I had the gun in hand and unlocked, I slipped to the kids room and shut/locked the door. I could hear someone moving around between the door and living room/kitchen. I waited until they where by the front door to kick on the light while aiming the gun at the door. The look on my brother and his friend's face was terrifying. They were getting snacks before they were sneaking out for the evening. I had the 5 boys sit at my dinning room table while we called their parents. The whole time they could not take their eyes off the gun. I told the parents what happen and some can never come over again while others live at my house every other weekend. For me it was terrifying, but I know in my heart if they would of posed a threat to my and my kids, I would of shoot them. No matter what. I did not get any sleep that night and I don't think any of those boys did too. So the point of my story is if you plan on having a gun in your home and plan on using it, make sure you are comfortable with your self in those situations. Split second decisions have to be made and be lived by. And in my opinion, this topic is very much a preference thing. 7 agree Reply Can I just point out that in the UK we can't have tasers legally, nor can we arm ourselves with hand-guns. Guns for sport require licensing and proper locked storage, with the exception of air rifles and air pistols. This is a very different question for anyone without such power! It's been in the news a lot over the past few years, victims of home intrusions in the UK being imprisoned for murder or at least manslaughter for killing the intruders without firearms. Seems to me if someone is in your house without permission to commit crimes against you or your family they should be fair game. If you have a gun, your intention must be to kill, or else you wont use it. Guns kill, it's quite simple. 13 agree Reply I always forget this! Even though I didn't grow up around guns, the US has its 2nd Amendment so the idea of not being allowed to have guns seems odd. So odd. 4 agree Reply See to me, the kind of guns you are talking about are for killing, to want one in your family home seems so odd to me! I do understand the concern about your safety (and the safety of your loved ones) but if it wasn't so normal for people to have guns maybe there would be less of a threat in the first place. It's a logical assumption that a western country that allows guns so freely versus those countries that don't is going to have a higher prevalence of gun related death. Just to add some figures, fire-arm related death rate per 100,000 people per year for United States = 15.22, for Canada = 4.78, and for Wales = 0.38. I'd like to add that my dad is a very good marksman who shoots for sport, so I'm used to some form of weapon in the house. I shoot inanimate targets only, and actually feel comfortable with a gun myself, but terrified when your average person 'has a go' as they often have no respect for the weapons, no fear, no concept of the consequences if they make a mistake. The thought of those people being able to 'have a go' of a hand gun as they can in the US is absurd, and for them to have one they never fire in their home waiting for the day they face an intruder is terrifying. 12 agree Reply Forgot to put the figures in context, sorry! That was for 1990-1995. I didn't see any direct comparison current figures. Reply It's not usually the people that get guns legally that are the problem. Usually the people you are defending yourself against are the note so legal folks. They would get them if they want them anyway. 4 agree Reply Yes. England has the advantage of being an Island, which gives it far more easily secured borders. Guns are illegal and, as a result, both law abiding citizens and criminals can find them hard to get a hold of. By contrast, as long as guns are legal and prevalent in Mexico, you aren't going to get them out of the hands of American criminals – just law abiding citizens. This seems counter productive. That said, I think getting a gun license should require the same proof of competency as getting a driver's license. We would have a lot fewer accidental deaths if people were required to know gun safety and maintenance before purchasing a weapon. 6 agree I realise it's crazy-impractical but personally I'd like to see people have to prove their compentacy before getting anything that could be easily misused. Like for example pass a test to prove you know you have to feed a dog and can't keep them chained outside 24/7 when it's below freezing (even if they have fur!) before you're allowed to buy one. Or understand that a mobility scooter is not a weapon and you can't ram it into closed doors, other people, or strollers to get where you want to be. But I'd definately say anything that was actually made as a weapon should be top of the list. 2 agree Sometimes it is the law-abiding people who are the problem. It seems like, in many mass-shootings, the shooter had no prior criminal record. In many cases, they had the gun legally. Not such a problem if you can't go out and buy a gun. 10 agree uh, you don't have to be a law abiding citizen to get a gun legally. at least half the states allow convicted felons to have guns: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/us/felons-finding-it-easy-to-regain-gun-rights.html?ref=us 3 agree One thing to consider in the "does US gun culture make the US inherently more dangerous" is that although our *firearms* death rates are noticably higher, reports I've seen on the BBC have suggested to me that many of the deliberate killings that would use a gun in the US happen with weirder things in the UK. (We're also perfectly fine with most knives and swords in the US, and don't have any kind of killing-spree problem with them; that has happened elsewhere, because some loon wanted to kill and found them handy.) And I suspect a non-trivial number of gun suicides would turn into suicides by some other method, although by no means all. I'm not suggesting that the gun culture here is perfect, and there are a really heartbreaking number of deaths from accidental firearms discharge here. But a simple head-to-head statistic in firearms deaths isn't going to get the data that one really needs to judge the effects of gun policy. 2 agree Reply I know many people don't agree with Micheal Moore, but his film "Bowling for Columbine" was pretty enlightening. I actually wrote a paper on it in college. 4 agree Since the UK is considering banning knives, I'd say you're correct in that assumption. I'd like to see a comparison of all violent crime involving weapons in the US and UK. I grew up with guns in the house. My father is a collector as well. I have a couple of guns myself, and feel much safer out here in the country. Our nearest neighbor is a mile away on a twisting gravel road, and drug crime is a factor in our area. Could I shoot to kill someone? You bet. My kids lives come before any home invader. 4 agree The important measure is TOTAL crime, not gun crime. If guns are absent so people kill each other with baseball bats instead, you haven't gained anything. 2 agree Reply Ha! It's totally the opposite for people who have grown up in countries where you are not allowed to have guns. In Norway, not even the police carry guns (but they sometimes have them locked up in their car). I remember the first time I went to London and saw some guards at the airport who were actually carrying huge firearms. That kinda terrified me. 10 agree Reply Even though I'm from the US, I know exactly what you mean. I lived in New York City before and after 9/11/01, and afterwards seeing police in the subways armed with big automatic weapons was really scary (and made me feel far less safe — especially since some of them appeared to be only like 19 years old). It really creates an (IMO unnecessary) atmosphere of fear. 4 agree Reply Wow. (also a uk person) but wow. This whole debate is pretty scary! I have to admit I've never looked into home invasion stats (and I've grown up in/now live in 2 major uk cities) but from my perspective it seems you're much more likely to be threatened with a gun if people are allowed to own them. I target shoot with a bow and arrow – not a particularly useful weapon to anyone I hope these days! – but the idea of ever intending to kill someone is pretty abhorrent to me. I guess it must be a cultural thing though – after all guns here have been illegal since I was 10 so that's all I've ever known (and it's going the same way with carrying knives etc). This debate just highlights how different places can be I guess! 9 agree Reply Sadly, most people doing the threatening with guns around the US are people who've obtained them illegally. Some places around the world have had success with banning (whether it be guns, drugs, whatever), but most of the time in the US it either a)has little effect, since where there's a will there's a way, or b)creates a bigger problem (ex: underage drinking!). To me, the scary part isn't that people can legally own guns in the US — it's that so many people feel like they need one for protection. 2 agree Reply From http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp A 1982 survey of male felons in 11 state prisons dispersed across the U.S. found: • 34% had been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim" • 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they "knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun" • 69% personally knew other criminals who had been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim" 6 agree Reply Debs – totally agree. This conversation is kind of freaking me out a little! Like you, I was little when hand-guns were banned. (Trivia fact: the UK Olympic shooting team has to train in Switzerland, that's how illegal guns are.) Although I do remember when policemen started carrying machine guns in Whitehall – I think that was post-9/11 – that still freaks me out. Rifles etc are legal, but have to be kept in a certain way (special locked cabinet, checked by the police once a year, etc, etc). To get a licence you basically have to be a farmer / go hunting, as far as I know. Most hand-guns in the UK are (a) converted from replicas, and (b) passed round so many gangs over time that whenever one is found the gun is usually connected with a number of crimes. There are very, very few guns. Also, THIS: "To me, the scary part isn't that people can legally own guns in the US — it's that so many people feel like they need one for protection." Absolutely, Krista. 9 agree Reply we have guns it was never a debate for us though. if someone is willing to break into my home and rob me, they are most likely willing to kill me or my family for what they want and i'm not willing to "hope" that my mace will scare them away. we have guns, plenty of them. my only advice is, get one and get comfortable using it. for us, when it comes down to deciding weather im ok with killing someone who "deserved" it, we have to remember, my family and yours didn't deserve, what they were planning to do to us/you. rape, murder, kidnaping your children and worse. not worth the risk in my opinion. 6 agree Reply I would never in a million years keep a gun in the house. I just wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. I live in Florida and the area I'm in is pretty safe (and we have a security system). If I felt like I had to have a gun to feel safe, I wouldn't feel safe, haha. We do have some weapon replicas, though. Maybe seeing the Buffy Scythe hanging on the wall would deter some invaders =P 6 agree Reply We have quite a few firearms. We're pretty lax with our gun storage now, as it's just the two of us and we're BOTH experienced in firearms and BOTH have the shoot to kill mentality in regards to someone breaking into our house. That will change once baby comes. Something that struck me as interesting was the bit about killing someone and whether they will deserve it or not. The bottom line, in my eyes of course, is if someone is breaking into your house, they deserve anything they have coming to them. As far as deterrents, we have gun brand stickers on our windows, specifically HK and Remington. People generally know what a Remington is, and anyone breaking into houses better know what an HK is (handgun), their life depends on it. It's a subtle way of letting people know you're armed and hopefully deterring them from attempting a breakin, forcing you to use your weapon. Also, I'm of the belief that children should be taught gun safety as well. I'm not saying allow your children to play with guns, but the guns should definitely be introduced to them and explained. A lot of gun accidents with children are the direct result of parents saying, "Don't touch these," and nothing else, instead of explaining the purposes and dangers and reiterating that they are not toys. There are safe ways to introduce your kids to firearms and the people at gun stores or indoor ranges can help you with that. All that said, guns really aren't for everyone and you do have to be 100% before you own one. Make sure you read all firearm laws for your state. Some states are extremely strict as far as who you can shoot and when. For instance, here in New Mexico, I can shoot a home invader -no problem. In California, I believe I have to fire a warning shot before I can be justified in shooting a home invader. Hope I helped! 7 agree Reply I very much agree with the "don't touch" approach with kids being dangerous. They need to understand gun safety and the gravity of what happens when a bullet hits it's target. This is why we use something that reacts, like a watermelon, for target shooting. I am a concealed carry permit holder and I do carry openly and concealed. I am also active in our community for maintaining and expanding our gun rights. I hope no one that is on the fence about gun ownership ever ends up in the situation where they really wish they had one. When I was 15 a neighbor tried to break into our home (single mom with two daughters at home) on three separate occasions. He finally got caught on the third. There is no feeling more terrifying than standing in my hallway with a Louisville Slugger wondering wtf is about to happen or if he is armed? I was really wishing I had something a little more powerful than a baseball bat. This was not nearly the only situation like this in my life. Now I have a rapid access handgun safe that I keep in my nightstand and I sleep a whole lot better for it. 4 agree Reply While some day I would like to own a gun, I currently don't. I don't own one now because it's a lot of investment. Having a NRA dad, I know I would need the gun, the permit, the safe, the respect and room to clean it (alone), and then if I wanted to have it for home protection I wouldn't feel safe until I went through concealed carry AND defense classes that teach you to use the gun in scary situations. All of THAT would have to happen after I took it to a range and learned to shoot with it very well. It's a lot of time and money for me to currently give up, because if I'm going to have a gun, I'm going to do it right. And yes, you never shoot to disarm, you shoot to kill. Besides giving the person the ability to come after you, they can speak against you in court. It's a nasty truth that if you're going to shoot a person, you don't leave them with the ability to speak against you. You have to live with the idea that not only will you have to kill them, you'll have to do it to save yourself some legal hurtles. 5 agree Reply Wait, being in court for killing someone is less of a "legal hurdle" than being in court for injuring them? That… doesn't sound right. Sorry. 3 agree Reply Depending on the state, yes…simply injuring a person in self defense can open a massive legal can of worms, because it becomes a he said/she said game. When the attacker is dead, there's only one story to worry about. 5 agree Reply We just got a big ass dog. We live way out in the country and so it makes me feel VERY secure to have dogs. I also remember watching a few shows on TV where they say the #1 crime prevention idea is a dog. I heard a story on this American Life where the murderers specifically avoided a house because they had a big dog. Just my 2 cents… I would never live without a dog. 12 agree Reply My house was broken into when I was a kid, and the cop told us that in virtually all the home invasions he responded to, not a single one had a dog. It was VERY rare that he had a home invasion where a dog was present. Most burglars won't f–k with a dog because of the potential for noise, let alone the potential of the dog attacking them. I have a friend who is a former petty criminal (used to break into houses of people he knew…long story, it's behind him now) who said that you didn't want to mess with people who had dogs or guns. That's one reason I'm very happy to have our little 70-pounder 🙂 4 agree Reply They don't even have to be big! I have two 30-pounders and they can make some NOISE. 2 agree Reply We had a daytime break-in at our old house (all indications pointed to a neighborhood kid — they mostly just stole alcohol), and the first thing I noticed that something was amiss was the dog pee on the floor. My 12-pounder had greeted the intruder at back door, piddled herself in excitement, and then run to hide. I love my little dog, but she is not useful in this particular matter. 🙂 8 agree Reply I read a statement from a cop that in the city a noisy small dog was preferred to deter housebreakers. But in the country with no close neighbors to alert with barking, a BIG dog was a better deterrent for home invaders. I keep both…and guns in case the meth heads just shoot my dog. 5 agree Reply I used to have a pitbull who was 55 pounds of lick-you-to-death, and it always cracked me up to see the thuggish looking kids in the neighborhood cross to the other side of the street when they saw us approaching. I had to break into my own apartment once when I locked myself out. Dog didn't even bark, let alone get off the couch. Worst guard dog ever. 3 agree Reply We have a 90 pound shepherd wolf-looking dog. She is, however, afraid of snakes and only hunts bugs. She is also completely silent. So, when our house was broken into, I don't think that the person saw or heard her until they had my laptop in hand. Then they ran back out the window with it, without taking the guitars, music production equipment, jewelry, or the other computer. Later, just as the police officer said "who would rob a house with a dog that looks like this?" she walked over, laid down on her back at his feet and started pawing at him to pet her belly. She may have protected our stuff just with her presence, but she's too sweet to hurt anyone and I wouldn't want her to get hurt to protect any of our possessions. There is nothing I own that is worth more to me than she is, though I know she would protect me or my husband if it came down to it. 6 agree Reply We also have large dogs, they sleep in our room and they're the first people out of our bedroom door if we hear a noise downstairs or if someone starts knocking on our door at 2am. They're loud and protective, but well-trained. I'd love a gun, but with our gun laws (Aussie) it wouldn't ever be the first line of defense. 2 agree Reply Our dogs have honestly been our best home defense as well. We had a rash of break-ins a few months ago, several on our street alone. None of the houses with dogs were broken into. Our dogs aren't super big (they're both about the size of large beagle), but they *sound* big and are very vocal when they think something is amiss. Plus our female dog is super territorial and, unless I or my partner greet someone personally when they enter the house, she *will* lunge at them because they haven't been deemed as "safe." 2 agree Reply Oh, also, for the record, not all gun owners are trigger happy murderers. In fact, legitimate gun owners are the most law abiding citizens you will probably ever meet. It is criminals that give guns a bad rap. Legit gun owners go through a background check etc. Criminal gun owners buy guns illegally. Be sure when/if you do purchase your first firearm that you do so through a legitimate dealer and not your brother's cousin's uncle. Private sales aren't illegal, but I think the peace of mind you get from buying from a dealer, all the paperwork, is rather calming and reassuring, especially for your first time. 10 agree Reply My fiance and I both have small collections of guns. They always ALL used to be locked up in the gun safe at all times because they are only for target shooting and hunting. Well one day I was home alone sitting on our couch cleaning my tiny Sig .22 when a man BARGED into our house yelling about how someone owed him money. My first instinct was to point the unloaded, partially disassembled gun at him. He was too high to realize there was no way this gun would fire. I held him at (useless) gunpoint in my own living room while I called 911, and kept him there until the cops showed up. He had a taser and a knife on him. Turns out he was looking for our next door neighbor who had scammed him in a drug deal (we live in what is considered a fairly safe neighborhood so finding this out was terrifying.) I can say two things I learned from that experience. 1) When I am home alone at night (which is often as my fiance works nights) I lock the front door and have one of my hand guns in the same room as me. 2) As a victim of sexual assault I definitely could have shot him. I know that sounds terrible, but I will NEVER go through something like that again and this breaking and entering was close enough to that to make me have nightmares every night for a good while after. 12 agree Reply I'm another UK resident so it's pretty much a non-issue for me. But if it was an option I think I'd be put off by a story my friend told me. She's American and did own a gun. I don't know the specifics but it was a pistol she bought for protection. She'd grown up around guns, took all the relevant classes, practiced regularly at the range and felt totally confident with it. She was told she was a great marksman too. The one time she used it outside the range was as a last resort to try and get rid of a possum that kept getting into her house. She waited in the kitchen for it and when it showed she….panicked, missed, the bullet ricocheted and the doctor at ER told her she was lucky not to lose an eye. That was a possum. A possum she was fully expecting to see. Luckily a possum can't take a gun off you and use it against you after you've frozen up or missed. To me owning a gun for self defense is in the same catergory as planning to run like hell or go for the eyes if you're attacked in a dark street. You can have all the good intentions and plans in the world but until you're actually in that situation you can't know how you will really react and I'd rather not introduce factors that could make it infinately worse. If someone breaks into my home intending to kill me and I'm just hoping I'll be able to do whatever is neccesary to defend myself they already have a major advantage. I don't want to give them an extra incentive or the tools to finish the job. If they're not intending harm, if they're a burglar or whatever I'd rather consider home insurance my protection. 9 agree Reply I have no interest in owning a gun only because I don't trust myself with the practical precautions of storing it. We have a two-year-old, and intend to have another child. My in-laws own guns both for military collection purposes and protection and for shooting off the back porch (they own a farm in the country, turned it into a range), and they're very serious about gun safety. They have a vault in the basement. Guns are never left loaded, and they're always in safe places. I can barely keep my medication out of reach in bathroom. We made an impromptu visit this past week, and the child has spent all day running in circles through their bedroom. When my father in law got home, he remembered that there was a pistol (unloaded) in the bedroom. The child didn't get into it, and it was quickly moved to a safe location — but the fear that he might have found it, that even if it was unloaded he might make the association of gun as toy is a real concern in our family. I don't trust myself to treat a gun with the gravity it requires. That said, I do think it's a valid home safety measure if everyone is trained and prepared to do everything necessary to make it safe. 1 agrees Reply I grew up in a home where my dad had several rifles in a locked gun cabinet. He didn't have any ammo, and I don't know if they'd even work (Most were antiques). I do know they weren't part of the plan for defending ourselves from an intruder. I enjoy shooting guns…at the gun range, in a controlled environment…but I would not be comfortable having one in my home, especially a handgun. My husband does have a rifle, but it's kept hidden and we don't have ammo for it. This is literally the only issue my husband and I have fought about during our 3 year marriage. He wants to have a gun for protection, and I do not. He says we'll keep the gun locked in a safe with the ammo hidden in another location. I say, what good is that going to do us if I have to run from room to room trying to load a gun and keep hidden from an intruder?! Plus, my husband is an EXTREMELY heavy sleeper, and he is groggy and disoriented when he wakes up. That's not the state of mind I want him to be in when handling a firearm. I keep a replica sword in between the bedframe and the mattress. It's not sharp, but it's heavy and could deal a pretty painful thwack if needed. There's also a bat in the closet. But honestly, if someone is in my house, I'm going to be trying to get OUT of the house–not thinking of what weapon to use to hit the person. 4 agree Reply If you plan on using a handgun for personal protection in the home, please remember that bullets can go through drywall and still be deadly (try not to fire in the direction of otherpeople in your house like children's or roommate's rooms). Something a lot of people don't think about. 16 agree Reply THIS. A gun was fired in my sister's neighbor's apartment. The bullet when through the wall between the apartments, through a door, across the kitchen, and lodged in the ceiling. Very lucky neither my sister nor her roommate were home at the time. 3 agree Reply A friend of mine (who is admittedly a bit of a gun nut) keeps her "nightstand gun" loaded with something similar to bird shot for just this reason. At close range, the shot is still enough to do a heaping amount of damage, but unlike a bullet it's a lot less likely to hurt someone through drywall. 1 agrees Reply This is an issue that I am very glad my husband and I are on the same side of, which is "No guns, thanks." Like others have said, in the event in your run of the mill home invasion, you're unlikely to be able to get to your gun, load it, and use it properly. This is especially the case if you have kids like me and want to keep the gun unloaded and locked up for their safety. It's probably not super popular to say out loud, but I'm a believer in aggressive stimuli, too. My father was in law enforcement when I was a kid and there were always guns around. Their presence never made me feel safer, so I guess that is part of the reason I know one wouldn't make me feel any safer now. I know I don't have it in me to go practice at shooting ranges and develop a gun culture in our home, either; so there is pretty much no aspect of gun ownership that fits our family. 2 agree Reply Guns terrify me and I will never have them in my house. My father had rifles for hunting and also carried a handgun for his job. I remember there being guns around when I was little, but I was always too scared of them to ever lay a finger on one. (I don't remember being taught not to touch them, but that fear must have come from somewhere.) My husband, being English, also has no desire to have a gun in the house, either. (Although he did buy a few swords the other day…) When Dad died last year, my four siblings were discussing how to divide up the guns. After I said that we didn't want any, my sister asked if we wanted her to save some for our potential future children. And I found that very strange, and a very American mentality – if we don't want a gun, why would we want to pass them on to our children? 4 agree Reply This is a weird discussion for me, and one that hits VERY close to home. When I was in college, I had a gun held to my head and my bag stolen while walking home to my apartment. This was in a neighborhood of million dollar homes, not the 'hood. I realized two very important things from this experience. 1. Anything can happen anywhere to anyone. 2. Guns are FREAKING scary. My fiance is in the testing process to be a police officer for our county. If he makes it through (and has been making it through each step with flying colors thus far) he will have to carry a firearm on the job. And it will come home with him. This has been an ongoing discussion as to how to make this safe and comfortable. We have researched gun safes and he has already started talking to me about learning to use it, which I'm not excited about. Because I support my future husband's career aspirations (it's what he's wanted to do since we were kids) I have to live with a gun in the house. I'll never be super comfortable with that. But at least I can educate myself and learn how to load and shoot it and practice all the necessary safety measures to be a responsible gun owner. Reply My question is this: Why is your family not worth killing someone. If they break into your house, they are willing to kill you. I am certainly not going to let my families safety rest on a "security system" or mace. An armed society is a polite society. Guns are inanimate objects that are no more dangerous than the person behind them. It is certainly the hope that you will never have to use a gun to hurt someone, but if you do, in order to save your butt legally, your conversation with 911 and the cops should always be that I shot that person to stop the threat. If you shoot someone, begin CPR and first aid and call 911 immediately, and inform the person on the other end what happened and that youre performing CPR and first aid. Your intent is to stop the threat, not to kill them because they broke in. If that means killing to save yourself and your family, so be it, but it is of course not the desired outcome. 10 agree Reply I disagree with the statement that anyone who breaks into a house is willing to kill. Anyone I have ever come across that has broken into a house has done so to steal property. 14 agree Reply You must not live in Baltimore. If someone's breaking into a home here, it's pretty safe to expect they're armed and *will* shoot if needed. 4 agree Reply We have a gun in our house. Or perhaps I should be more specific to say that my husband owns a hunting rifle (or maybe a muzzle-loader) and it is currently propped up by the back door. Previously it was living under the bed and I didn't know it. I will admit to being momentarily surprised that we had a gun in the house, but how else are we going to get venison? (Please, not with my car again!) But since we don't have any kids, my husband was a gunner in the Army, and I grew up a country kid who knows better than to touch a firearm that is not my own, I am not worried about it. But that gun is for hunting, not protection. Because I live in the Big, Bad suburbs of Detroit now, my dad keeps trying to get me a handgun. Which I refuse because I am very clumsy and I am the last person you want handling any sort of gun. Plus, I likely wouldn't shoot anyone and so there is no point in having a gun that I would never use. (Because no one really uses a handgun to go deer hunting. Handguns are for target practice or shooting people.) Reply My dad is a policeman, and I grew up with him carrying a handgun everywhere, including to church every Sunday. I also didn't realize he kept his guns in the house until I was a teenager – they were kept in his uniform closet, the one place in our house that I was NEVER allowed to go. I seem to remember growing up believing instant death would rain down on my head if I ever crossed the threshold. I never touched a gun until I was well into high school; guns were things police had, and I didn't. So I think saying 'I wouldn't have guns in the house with kids' is, although understandable, unnecessary. It is certainly possible to keep guns in the house and put the fear of God into your kids about not touching them. Guns scared the hell out of me BECAUSE my dad used them in his job, not because I had never been around one. To add a new perspective from my current situation – my boyfriend is ex-military and has a concealed carry license. He's pretty much always got a gun with him. I am okay with this; yes, because he has the stability of character and motives to assure me he wouldn't use lethal force unless the situation absolutely demanded it, but more because he's a safe, experienced, and reassuringly accurate shot. He has put in years of training with various kinds of firearms. To me, experience and comfort are key. To reference the linked article in the original post: it IS condescending and wrong to assume that lethal weapons will be taken from a woman by a stronger (assumed male) person and used against her. But that does happen, because we assume an unwarranted familiarity with dangerous and complicated tools. If you think putting a dusty pistol in your bedside drawer and forgetting about it is going to keep you from getting raped, you're wrong. But I seriously doubt that a female Marine is going to get her gun taken away by a thug on the street corner. I guess what I'm saying is – if you want to carry, put in the time and effort required to become competent and reliable. If you own or carry a gun without doing so, you're a danger to yourself and everyone around you. People who do put in that time and effort, though, don't automatically become more likely to shoot people; they just have an additional option available in case of certain violent and dangerous situations. It's a risk, but a calculated one, and not one that I feel is unreasonable. 17 agree Reply So well said! 2 agree Reply My husband is a police officer, so having guns in our home is a no-brainer. I used to become physically ill at the thought of having to defend myself against an attacker (the only time using a gun to murder someone would be in the cards) but my thinking changed completely as soon as we were married – I had a family to protect and to go home to regardless of what someone else's plans were. Not only do we both have personal hand guns in addition to his issued guns, but we feel it is our position in the community to protect others. I don't carry a gun with me in public, but have drawn it at home when I've heard strange noises or the dogs have gone into protection mode (our 50 lb puppy is half boxer and puffs her chest up noticeably when she suspects someone else in the house, so it's pretty clear what she's doing), and neighbors know we're a police family and will run to us for help in a crisis, so I may end up being the only one with a gun for that family, too. My husband carries a gun on him most everywhere because it's his duty to protect others and people have opened fire in the middle of church services before. We view them as a necessary evils and yeah, unfortunately we've had to resolve ourselves to the fact that we may end up killing someone one day if they put themselves in poor circumstances but we feel it's our duty to others. I could never live with myself if I stood back and allowed someone else to hurt others when I could have prevented it. 7 agree Reply I come from a hunting family. I hunt deer because I love the outdoors, and I love to get back to my roots so to speak. To be a hunter, dependent on your skills and patience for your meal. I personally have no problem with guns in the house. In fact I can't wait to have (unloaded/locked) guns on display in the house. My fiance doesn't come from a hunting family, and although he also loves the outdoors he doesn't like the concept of hunting, and only likes target shooting. We both are into martial arts and that's my only real form of exercise! We both firmly believe that if you do conceal and carry, it is a last resort. "Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting." -Sun Tzu Art of War. my fiance encountered 4 drunk college kids with baseball bats, looking to pick a fight. He couldn't run away. Instead of escalating, or easily kicking their asses, he offered them something to eat. And you know what, it worked. I may love and enjoy shooting guns, but if you do have to fire one to protect your family, take a gun defense course, to learn how not to let the bad guy get the gun. Oh and make sure you kill them. A dead man can't sue or defend himself in court. Stay aware, stay safe! 1 agrees Reply Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here. If so, please explain. Are you really saying that it's better to kill someone than to have to deal with a lawsuit or let a home invader have a trial? Why? Why do you consider you killing that person preferable to the other two options? 4 agree Reply If you go to a concealed carry class, a lot of times that's exactly what they'll tell you to do. A home invader who had every intention of robbing you and doing worse is still a person, and if you let them live, they have the ability to get a lawyer and make sure YOU get put behind bars. So yes, if you have a gun, and you point that gun at a person, you better be darn willing to kill them. And if you kill them, you don't utter another word without a lawyer. Not one. 3 agree Reply Imba – It does sound crazy that it is better to kill but unfortunately, because of the legal system, it is. If a person breaks into your home and injures themselves on the window they broke, they can sue you. If you shoot them and don't kill, they can sue. You can also go to jail for holding a robber at gunpoint in your home until the police get there. There are cases where a homeowner beat someone with a baseball bat and because the suspect lived, the homeowner went to jail. It is a very hard mentality to get into but I would not want to go to jail because someone broke into my home (with ill intent towards me and my family) and then hurt themselves. 6 agree Reply Being married to a police officer, we def keep guns in our home. The daily death threats on our family and running into offenders he's arrested around town (30mins outside of the city he works in) is enough for me to want to get comfortable using the weapons we possess. Unlike many of the other commenters, we keep our weapons loaded and hidden strategically around our home. We also possess 2 shepards who also serve as protection but ultimately are a means for us to have enough time to move our kids to a safe spot and access our firearms in the event of a serious threat. Along with or kids and dogs, we go out in the country and shoot all of our weapons every few months. This allows me to be comfortable with them and kills the curiosity in our boys. Its also a way to teach them to respect the guns. I would say, if you are going to buy one firearm to keep in your home, go with a shotgun. You dont have to have precise aim in a moment of panic, its easy to load and the sound of loading it is enough to scare an intruder away. My husband always tells me, if you are prepared to shoot at someone for self protection, you ALWAYS shoot to kill and be ready to articulate how you got into that predicament. 2 agree Reply Can I just say that OBH is awesome because of conversations like this? I love all of the diverse lifestyles represented and how reasoned, thoughtful, and respectful everyone has been about a topic that can be very polarizing and emotional. Cat, thanks for moderating so that this can be a safe place to discuss! 8 agree Reply I agree! This issue has really thrown me BECAUSE it's on OBH. I usually identify so much with the issues brought up here, but in this one, I'm the minority. I think I could have gotten riled up about it, but everyone is very respectful and thoughtful that it made me think twice. I had to really look at the issue from other perspectives and question my assumptions about my subculture and many others. And isn't that the point here?! Well one of the points 🙂 6 agree Reply Even as a publisher, I'm sort of in awe of this discussion. Y'all impress me something serious. 6 agree Reply My husband has guns, both hand guns and rifles, and while I have shot his .22 before I wouldn't say I'm anywhere near comfortable handling them. This, however, doesn't make me uncomfortable having them in the house(especially since it's just the two of us right now). I doubt I could ever be truly comfortable with a handgun simply because i have no desire to learn to properly shoot the thing and it really has only one purpose. Rifles on the other hand fascinate me, along with the idea of learning how to hunt, so someday I'm sure I will have my own one of those. As far as personal protection goes, if someone tries to assault me either in home or out my first instinct will always to grab for my pocket knife. This is simply because i have training in knife arts, both attacking and defending, and unlike a firearm a folded pocket knife can be just as effective as an open one. Really I think that if anyone wants to protect themselves from any sort of attack they should be confident and competent in whatever they chose, whether it's a gun, a knife, or a baseball bat. 1 agrees Reply For me, I'll never own a gun. And I live in Memphis, which has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. It's partly because I'm a pacifist, and I feel like adding more guns to the mix is never going to solve the problem. It's more because I work with kids with brain injuries. Like a four year old who finds his grandma's handgun and thinks it's a toy, and then accidentally shoots himself in the head. You just can't look in the eyes of a kid who is now unable to talk or even sit by himself – just because we are all trying to one-up each other with our guns – and not think that there's a problem with our way of dealing with things. It's just not worth it in my opinion. That said, if I think of someone coming after my husband or the theoretical kids I might have someday, I can see why people would be willing to do anything. But for me… still not worth it. 7 agree Reply J and I have had the gun discussion before. Once I am properly trained in gun safety and once we no longer have roommates, we will have guns in the house. J would like to have one now, but I put my foot down because I don't want anything bad to happen because I didn't know what I was doing and he agrees with me. In the meantime we have two kabars (one on each side of the bed,) a kukri, and a badass warhammer made out of rebar. Our roommate has two swords and an axe. Soon I will have my recurve bow. We're also a household with a Zombie Apocalypse plan. 1 agrees Reply We have lots of guns and the majority are mine. But, even with a household of trained shooters, we do not keep them loaded. Even when I am home alone I sleep with a great big club instead. Why? 1. I wear corrective lenses… need to pop those in before I can shoot. 2. I know exactly how riled up I get preparing to kill a turkey, multiply that by 1000. 3. I can cause great personal damage to my self, partner and neighbors if I roll over a loaded pistol. The club just means I feel cold and move it. To be honest a person who buys a pistol and fires 6 rounds through it before bringing it home to protect their family probably won't even remember how to turn off the safety in an emergency. Think about how hard it is to remember how to run your microwave or alarm clock when you get startled out of sleep. I forget where the bathroom is. Get a gun if you want but I strongly suggest having a form of protection you are really comfortable with first. But to answer the question. I'll go as far as I have to. 4 agree Reply Wow, this post was a major cross-cultural moment for me. I'm Canadian and I live in one of the most "dangerous" areas of Toronto in a very unsecured apartment on the ground floor. We have had violence happen down the hall in the lobby and have had an intoxicated person try to get into our home. There is also fairly significant gun violence that happens in our neighbourhood. All of this being said, it has NEVER occurred to my husband or to me that we should have any kind of weapon on hand for use on intruders. Ever! When we consider safety in our not-always-super-safe environment, we do things like check the hallway mirrors to make sure no one follows us in (and stay in the lobby and make a phone call if someone seems suspicious), use the peephole and lock the door behind us when we come in. If someone were to break in, the goal would be to escape the apartment, not to kill the intruder. I'm sympathetic to the highly charged emotions and the real dangers of home invasion, but I just can't get on board with the idea that "anyone who breaks into my home deserves whatever they get." The reasons people have for committing crimes are super diverse, and I really don't think I could accept the possibility that I might kill someone who may not have been a real and immediate threat to my life and might have been either in a confused state due to mental illness/addiction issues (as is often the case for many of my neighbours) or after a new laptop or something. The thought that somebody's kid could be shot dead by my hand when the only thing I'm actually preventing could be the theft of something worth a few hundred dollars is just not something I can live with. That being said, I think it's interesting to be awakened to my own cultural bias and to recognize that the "givens" I base my perspective on are not at all the same as many people who live not too far from here! It's also interesting to me to consider the question of gun ownership (as separate from guns-as-protection-against-people) because I am going to be moving very soon to a remote community in the arctic circle where carrying firearms is a way of life for both hunting and (I'm being serious here) for protection against polar bears! This will be a major cultural adjustment for me and I am really going to have to think through my assumptions about not carrying/owning firearms. 16 agree Reply As a fellow Canadian I totally agree with all of your comments. Guns, all of them, make me extremely nervous. That being said when I worked in the Arctic (remote field camp, not near a community) I were required to carry a shotgun for polar bear protection. It was very strange and I got somewhat used to it but I still really dislike guns. When you do move to your arctic town be aware that some communities do not like people carrying guns in town, they are for on the land only. Also consider borrowing a dog from your neighbors you want to go for a walk near town as a dog can really scare a polar bear away. The dogs are trained to do this. Have fun! 1 agrees Reply I'm an American and I totally agree with all of your comments! Your point about mental illness is really important. Mentally ill people are far more likely to be shot by cops, as well. We should be trying to make our communities safer by getting people the help they need, rather than just killing them. 3 agree Reply My partner owns a rifle, but he keeps it at his parents house because of how much I dislike firearms. I live in New Zealand, and not many people have guns, except for farmers and that sort of thing. Not even all our police officers have guns – some have them in lockboxes in their cars, but I've never seen an officer with one on their hip in my life. Most of my friends have probably never seen a gun either, I didn't lay eyes on one until I was 19. As far as home protection does, deadbolts and alarms are more my style than guns. Reply If you do get a gun, I do not recommend a Glock. Those are known to accidentally discharge because they lack a safety. If you purchase a shotgun, be sure to shoot one first. Shotguns definitely have some kickback to them. Racking back a shotgun is not always enough to scare someone so you better be prepared to use it and know how to properly unload it. An unloaded shotgun can be easily taken from you and still used as a weapon against you. As for pistols, I recommend a revolver with a Fobus holster. It is physically impossible for the gun to go off while in the holster. If guns aren't an option then I hear wasp spray is an excellent substitute for mace 🙂 Reply FYI: Glocks DO have a safety built into the trigger. This doesn't necessarily mean they're the safest guns in the world. The most frequent "accidental discharges" come from improper holsters or overly worn holsters (or people forgetting to keep their booger hooks off the bang switch, if you get my meaning). 2 agree Reply I'm surprised nobody has hitherto mentioned knives. Guns are out of the question because a) we live in the UK, and b) I have trouble throwing a ball to a willing recipient in broad daylight and a calm state of mind, let alone waking up panicked and in the dark and firing a heavy machine which will squirm around like a snake once the trigger is pulled at somebody who really does not want to get shot. Knives though, knives I can use. I carried one when I was 15 or so, as we lived way out in the sticks and I'd take a five-mile walk to visit my friends. When my grandad found out, he wisely decided to teach me how to use it. Note: my education in how to use a knife was how to deliver a killing blow. I would prefer not to have to kill anybody, but it's useful to have that knowledge. One of the good things about knives is that you don't need to worry about permits or the like, and having children pick them up isn't as much of an issue as with guns because basically every parent has had the "no, put that down, it's sharp" conversation, so there's a lot of precedent for dealing with that. There was something else, which I've forgotten… Oh yes! The downside of using a knife for home defense though is that there's not much threatening you can do… there's no distinct noise that can scare off invaders like there is with, say, a pump-action shotgun. Unless you invest in a good-quality katana and practise unsheathing it for hours on end to get that sssshing sound… So if you have a gun, you can use the mere sight of it to scare people off, but knives are more familiar and thus less scary and thus the sight of a woman wielding a knife doesn't seem like a threat, it seems like a scared woman has gone for the first pointy thing she could find. That said, although we live in the third most violent city in the UK, we've never encountered any problems. I still carried a knife with me for a while (back when I was working in a nightclub and walking home alone through the dodgy end of town at 4am) but then I pretty much figured that if I get attacked I won't have time to grab it and if the police happen to do a random stop-and-search, hello prison! I would say whatever you're comfortable and familiar with is always the best weapon, whether it's a knife, gun, dog, bit of wood, karate skills or landmines. 7 agree Reply I love that last line. 🙂 2 agree Reply This is exactly my point in my above post and it's nice to see another knife chick out there! 3 agree Reply Honestly, I think that the "powers that be" don't want the populace having firearms, and one of their major arguments is because of "children's safety". My boyfriend and his 2 siblings grew up in a home where there was always a loaded rifle leaned in a corner by the front door. Always, as in from the time they were babies. They knew not to touch it. Simple as that. They were homeschooled, so they were home ALL THE TIME with it, and none of them ever touched it without permission or hurt themselves. My dad was a gun collector, and I grew up in a house with 20+ firearms, though none were kept by the living room door, lol. Neither me nor my sister ever touched a gun without permission, even into our teenage years. My boyfriend and I have 2 toddlers, and we have several guns, one of which we keep loaded in a place where the children couldn't reach it, but either one of us could quickly if we needed to. Both the kids have been trained not to touch the guns. Kids CAN be taught to obey, and you don't have to be afraid to have a gun just because you have children in the house. 4 agree Reply I've shot guns before, my mom's a huge gun enthusiast (see, she made me stop saying "gun nut!") and I have *tons* of friends who are into guns. That said, my husband and I have mentioned it to each other a couple times and every time we come to the conclusion that we just don't feel safe with one in the house. We live in Richmond, VA ("murder city", yay!) but we don't own a flat screen which is what the last rash of home breakins was for reportedly — if you can manage to boost up to see in the one un-curtained window into the living room, it's very obvious that we have a clunker TV. Plus, we have a Corgi (ok, not very intimidating) and an Aussie (there we go! bigger!) who are happy to bark at anything coming near our house. I'm just not comfortable with the idea of a gun in the home. The risks outweigh the benefits to me. For some people, the scales tilt differently, which is fine — I'm Quaker-ish, so I just can't see myself being okay with shooting someone to kill. We're trying to have a baby, so maybe I'll think differently once there's a kid I have to protect, but I think the likelihood that we'd need a gun for self defense is slim, and I'd rather chance it with the dogs, yanno? 2 agree Reply Just having the dogs in the house is a deterrent, regardless of size. When I was a kid, there were a string of robberies in the neighborhood where they were literally making their way down the street. They hit the two houses next door, but not ours, because we had a collie that barked at anyone (but was the sweetest thing). 1 agrees Reply I have a .22 for safety in my home. I am not prepared to shoot a stranger, unless they are threatening my family. In this case, I would probably have said gun on my person, but not ready to shoot. I would be getting out of my house rather than confronting someone. However, if my ex shows up, I would be ready to shoot the weapon to defend myself with no hesitation. He's the entire reason I own the gun. 1 agrees Reply My husband owns guns. They are not for protection, because they are unloaded and stored out of reach. We have other means of protection and have discussed our plans multiple times. For those saying "of course I'd kill someone" … Yes, I think many of us would to protect our selves and/or our families. But please don't think that–even in that situation–it is something to take lightly. A friend's late ex-husband had to shoot an intruder (after trying to work with him to just let him take stuff and realizing that was not going to work) and it *destroyed* him. IMHO, it's completely appropriate that the original poster's husband is grappling with that question. 5 agree Reply I feel the need to put some perspective on this epic discussion. First, guns kill people and animals. Weapons also kill people and animals. They are not toys. Much like a motor vehicle, you should not own one without knowing how to safely operate it. Everyone in your home should also know how to safely operate and respect said firearm, whether it be a gun or a rifle. The same could be said about any weapon designed to kill or maim, including bows, swords, tasers, etc. Second, there are many, many laws in place that regulate when or how you can protect yourself, even in your own home. In my own state (NC in the US), you cannot shoot or even threaten to shoot an intruder in your home unless they are a) in the act of entering, so you cannot determine their intent, or b) attacking you in a way that is meant to kill or maim you. So, the argument that many are making that you just shoot an intruder to protect your family is not legally sound. In most states, you cannot just shoot someone for breaking into your house with the intent for robbery. So remember that "protecting your family" in many places means "protecting your family when an assailant has illegally entered your home and is carrying a weapon in such a way that you feel he will kill or maim a member of your family". 3 agree Reply Yeah, having an attitude of "I'll just shoot the bastard" probably isn't a good idea, for legal reasons as well as for the simple fact that most of us, especially as women, really don't have the capability to just kill someone, either mentally or just straight up being able to get to your gun, aim it, fire correctly, etc, before the intruder got to you, especially if they had a gun. I'm the girl with loaded gun in the house and the 2 toddlers, and just shooting a random burglar isn't the first plan. If I needed to defend myself from a human, there are a few very specific individuals that I'm worried about. More likely, I would use the gun for a snake/coyote/stray feral dog in the yard. If there was ever a random break-in, I would try calling 911, hiding (we're a 1-car family, so when my boyfriend is at work it looks like no one is home sometimes if you just looked in the yard if no one was outside), or slipping out a window and running through the woods to a neighbor's house. Just shooting someone is the absolute last resort. 1 agrees Reply Great discussion, all around, and I'd like to add to it if I may. I'd like to really address many people's repeated comments about "guns killing people". I feel it's a much more appropriate statement to say that (as was stated upthread but bears repeating) a gun is an inanimate object and only as dangerous as the user. Gun safety, respect and training is an absolutely must in my opinion, if you choose to carry, or own one. …I guess I just want to address the issue of "intruder intent". There have been a lot of really great views on this, but I feel very strongly that if someone were to enter into my home, I simply don't care about the "why" of it…. I don't have time to muse over why they've broken in…or what they are there to steal, or do. I don't want to take the time to debate what to do. I want to feel confident that I have a plan in place, whatever that may be, that I am comfortable with to defend my house, my possessions and my life. This most obviously will vary from person to person, depending on their level of comfort. But I'm struggling with how to say that owning a gun isn't bad, and I don't think that I'm a bad person for knowing that if it came down to it, I have to do whatever it takes to save my life. In that moment, I simply cannot care about anything other than my safety. Will I kill? If I'm smart I know not to draw my weapon of choice unless I intend to remove the threat. Am I always comfortable with that? Perhaps not – shit gets scary when you don't know what's going on or your adrenaline is pumping. But in a splitsecond moment I don't have the luxury of thinking about it when my life may be on the line – and I'm certainly not about to ask my intruder what his/her intentions are….I have to assume the possible worst. 5 agree Reply I think the thing that might be missing out of this discussion is, not just if you hear someone breaking in/actually inside your house, it seems more if there is no other option. Let's face it, not everyone lives in a house/apartment/whatever that is laid out to make escape quickly a possibility, and depending on where/how the intruder breaks in may mean they have you cornered whether they meant to or not. So, say I'm sleeping and hear someone break into the front door or even our living room window; in that sort of situation it's much less risky to slam the bedroom door shut and lock it while barreling out the bedroom window onto our patio. We live on the ground floor so it's safe and fast but if we were one or more floors up(since there are no fire escapes or such in these apartments) we'd either have to jump and hope not to break anything or have ourselves cornered no matter what. I think in every case, if escape is a feasible option that is where you should start. However it is not always so cut and dry, especially if the intruder has any sort of nefarious ideas other than robbing you. One thing that makes me worry when my husband and I finally do have kids is the lay out of the house. Most houses these days have a split floor plan, meaning the master bedroom is on one end of the house and the other bedroom(s) are on the opposite. Should someone break in somewhere in the middle of the house and effectively separate us from our children, whether they mean nothing more than burglary or not, makes no difference. I'm not about to escape while my babies are sleeping in the other end of the house and some stranger is lurking inside. In that case you better believe I'm going to do something active to remove the threat from my family, be it a gun or a few good whacks with one of the heavy rattan sticks we have around the house. 4 agree Reply Yes, husband and I not only have a gun, we have several, and several types. We often shoot clay pigeons as our favorite pastime and hobby, but we also have antique guns and handguns, as well as home defense shot guns. (Just call me when the Zombie Apocalypse happens.) Like any tool or appliance, it's important to practice good habits and safety, and also to carry the proper insurance. As the saying goes, guns don't kill or make mistakes… people do. (Sorry, it's true…) YES, there's always the threat and the unease of the idea that you have something in your home that could kill someone. But to follow that logic, many things in the home can be used in that manner. I can tell you that I've never slept so soundly in my life; and it can impart a sense of responsibility and power to a person to be able to operate and trust oneself with a firearm. Again, it's imperative that if you choose to own firearms, you not only know where it is at all times, but that you know how to buy, store, keep, carry, and operate it SAFELY, RESPONSIBLY, and within the bounds of the law. And be prepared to be extra vigilant in the case of guests and children who are invited into your home. (Gun safes are a very good idea.) 3 agree Reply My boyfriend is in the army and I have at least pseudo discussed this with him because of that. I told him that either there were no guns in the house or that I learned how to shoot it. And that given my personality and need to be medicated, I frankly didn't think I should be allowed a gun. 4 agree Reply I respect you a great deal for making that decision for yourself. You – and no one else – can truly determine whether you should be trusted with a firearm. 5 agree Reply This is a point that hasn't gotten much consideration yet… Research shows that suicide attempts happen pretty spontaneously– if people have the means, they go for it, but if they don't the feeling will pass. Does anyone here with kids feel certain that they won't ever be depressed? What about your partner(s), or when your sister moves in with you for a little while post-breakup? I don't want that for my family, and I don't want that in my home. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/guns-suicide_n_3240065.html Reply We do own guns, my husband is a former farmboy and an excellent shot (seriously, during the testing for his concealed carry license, the rear sight of his gun fell off, and he still got a 243 out of 250). I, on the other hand, had never handled so much as a BB rifle before I met him, and I've still never fired a gun. I know my husband would have no problem shooting and killing an attacker (as well as avoiding shooting, say, our son as a teenager coming home after sneaking out), and in theory, I don't either, but I know enough to know it's different in practice. I really want more practice and training, too, because if my husband's home, we're safe, but if it's just me, alone, the gun's just a liability at this point. 1 agrees Reply I got my first gun as a birthday present from my step-father when I was 13. (Best birthday gift ever!) It was a single shot .22 with a .20 gauge barrel that could be switched out. I used it all the time, mostly on cans or flimsy paper targets. My step-father took me to one of the courses for youth's on gun safety. I love shooting any kind of gun and my family does a lot of recreational shooting. My mother was a real estate agent for a while and one day showing a house someone was squatting in the house. It scared the pants off of her, so she decided to buy a hand gun after much research. She got a .357 and then took the classes to receive her permit to carry concealed. She practiced every weekend for two months straight. Later on my step father purchased himself a gun and then my grandfather and my uncle too. Hand guns became popular with my family, but they were always extremely safe about it. For instance, my parents bought a safe to keep the guns in, which only they know the combo to. When they took the classes to carry concealed the first lesson is that "when you shoot at someone, be prepared to kill them." It's the best thing to keep in mind when you do own a gun specifically for self defense. Personally, I love guns so this a no brainer. Also, if someone were to invade my house I would have no problem shooting them, possibly killing them. That might make me a bad person, but honestly if someone is going through the trouble to break into my house… well, you get what you ask for. Having children really cemented this for me. My husband agrees. We keep our hand guns unloaded high up in our closet normally, but we keep 'old faithful' (my single shot .20 guage) by the bed with bullets easily accessed. (Our son has no access to our room, and the gun goes up during the day along with the bullets.) My in-laws absolutely hate guns however. They have two young kids and live in a rough area, but they really just aren't comfortable with the idea of having a gun in their home, let alone using it to possibly kill someone. I can totally understand not wanting to have a gun, but like the boy scouts say "Always be prepared." 4 agree Reply When my uncle was still alive (and living in a neighborhood that still has a Mafia presence), he had quite the collection of new and antique weapons. He also pulled a .45 on my grandmother when she let herself in one night without calling him first. (It was unintentional – he assumed she was a burglar.) Coming that close to killing his own mother bothered him until he died. That said…he was a very sensible gun owner. The antique guns were on display, but he'd disabled all of them so they couldn't be fired. The newer guns, meant for defense, were locked up in discreet locations. Ditto the boxes of bullets. He didn't have to rely solely on firearms, though…my grandfather used to teach martial arts, so my uncle knew how to disarm an attacker. I do not have a gun (ironically, an email pal in Canada kept trying to talk me into buying one for protection…I told him I would probably accidentally shoot myself while cleaning it). Uncle taught me how to quickly improvise a weapon out of almost anything, and I live in an area with extremely low crime, so I don't see myself buying a firearm. My brother inherited Uncle's guns, but he also lives in a safe area and only uses them at the firing range. Reply Wow, how weird and fascinating. As an Australian, this is such an alien discussion. I couldn't imagine living in a house with a gun (they scare me). It wouldn't even be allowed here (having one just…loose…in the house). When my brother lived with us there was about 5 rifles in a bolted, locked safe in the garage (three stories down) with ammo locked away elsewhere (as required by law). He had them for hunting out on a friend's property, which is the only time they ever left the safe. That's about as close to living with projectile weaponry as I'll ever be likely to get. In case of home invasion (unlikely in our current apartment), we've always thought we'd just wallop the dude over the head. Worse case, I figure he might have a knife. How terrifying if they'd be more likely to have a gun. Not sure what I'd do. Hmm. Interesting discussion. 5 agree Reply Yes, Americans are insane. We need guns in our homes. While those same guns are used in school shooting after school shooting. But no, "I" am responsible with my guns. Whatever. We're crazy gun nuts who deserve what we get. Reply I have to say, I'm absolutely thrilled with how…mature…this discussion has been. Normally, if firearms are brought up in discussion it leads to OMG BAN ALL GUNS RAWR by the masses. That this discussion stayed on topic without devolving into a slapfest gives me hope. 6 agree Reply I completely agree. One of the best things about the OBH readership is that we pride ourselves on being…well, mature! No matter what, I know I can come here for a really awesome discussion and I know that my viewpoints will be heard, even if others don't agree with me. Way to go, team! 4 agree Reply I guess I'm used to forums and websites where the majority of the readership is younger or less mature…this place consistently reminds me that there are mature people out there who can have a discussion about a particularly volatile subject. 3 agree Reply I grew up in a home where guns where considered nothing different, Southern state, family went hunting, guns were used for protection if necessary, etc. I like them, but I also have a healthy respect for them. Our children were taught they were tools, just like our power tools, not to be played with but used for a specific purpose. My husband and I have eight now, mostly for hunting and protection as we live in a very rural area. I have absolutely no probelm with shooting someone who comes in my home and offers me or my family violence. I guess I basically am a violent person when it comes to that. I used to keep a baseball bat near the door when my kids were small since we lived in a rough neighborhood. The thought of going out and looking for someone to harm or kill is, indeed, repugnant. But it's a different story for me when someone comes in my home and tries to hurt or rob me. I am now considering getting a handgun and going to concealed carry classes for self protection. I am also willing to trust my own judgement about what to do in an emergency, a benefit of age and having been through a lot of experiences where I had to rely on myself. 1 agrees Reply We haven't talked about having a gun for protection but that's mostly because the odds of a gun being useful to us during an invasion while simultaneously being stored safely during all other times = basically 0. The logistics of keeping a loaded gun at the ready just don't work for me in my current living situation. That said, there are rifles here, because I hunt (for meat). I am pretty "pro-gun" in the sense that I do want to own them, use them, etc. But for home defense … I think I would do better to grab the cell phone / lock myself in whatever room I'm currently in. 2 agree Reply As someone from the UK this conversation is SO VERY WEIRD. How do you all have guns? So many people with guns! This freaks me out no end. In my head only bad people have guns. Actually last time I was in the states I saw someone walk into McDonalds with a gun on a holster and no one reacted whilst my heart was racing. I think allowing just anyone to own a gun is completely ridiculous, but I am clearly from a very different culture. 8 agree Reply As a Canadian people talking about owning guns seems bizarre to me. In fact in the ongoing recent store break-ins that have been occurring in my city in which knifes, and actually nothing at all have been used in the break in. (also have heard of assaults with needles just not in those particular robberies) I never hear about guns being used in the hold up. For me protection really comes down to prevention. Parking under street lights (dark at 5:30pm today), not wandering around in bad neighbourhoods, and locking my door etc. Oh, and my city was just rated murder capital in Canada for the second year in a row. 3 agree Reply I am American, and I agree with you. No one NEEDS a damn gun in their home. Reply I have always wanted to join the FBI, so one point I mentioned that to a (now ex-)boyfriend and he completely freaked out at me, telling me in no uncertain terms would he ever have a gun in his house. I was pretty taken aback by this – at that point it was just that it would be a job requirement after all to have one, not that I would cover the house in rifles. That wasn't his only problem – there's a reason he's an ex, but that was by far the most bizarre conversation I ever had about owning guns – and I wasn't even that gung ho about them at the time. Now, I have a concealed carry permit and a 38 special revolver. I've taken the concealed class and two yearly shooting training through work. I keep mine in my gun safe, unloaded because frankly, I'm not quite ready mentally to carry consistently. I want to train much more on my own prior to doing so. My husband is not thrilled with guns but unlike the ex understands the path I'm on (which will hopefully one day still lead to the FBI!) and has been his usual live and let live self about it. If anyone is thinking of getting a gun, specifically a handgun, a revolver is the most reliable. A semiautomatic can jam and can be difficult to un-jam in a hurry if you're not comfortable with guns. Most everyone in my office carries .38 special revolvers. The ruger lcr is pretty light and concealable. 4 agree Reply The hubs and I happen to be far-left libby feminist academes and I happen to have been born in Appalachia to a gunsmith. So I have a gun, and I always will. I grew up watching guns used as a craft, an art, a skill, and a means of feeding our family healthy, organic, inexpensive, free-range meat that died very humanely. In a house of 20 guns and a converted garage-cum-gunshop, I never once saw one of them used to create danger, threat, or harm. I moved to a major city a few years ago; guns are different here. Obviously. In May 2011, my home was burglarized. We weren't home. If I had been, I don't know what what would have happened. I don't know if I would have used my .38 or not. Above all, I do know that gun has never had power or control: we do. It's an object, and it's as inanimate as my dirty house shoes. 5 agree Reply For the record, while I don't oppose gun ownership, I will never have one in my house. I am close to someone who once tried to kill himself and for this reason I would never ever ever have a gun in my home. My gun-owning friends don't get it, since this family member now lives far away. But my experiences mean that I'm far more scared of someone harming themselves than of a possible home intruder. I just couldn't forgive myself or whoever brought in the gun if something happened. Obviously this situation doesn't apply to everyone, but you should consider the possibility of suicide or accidents and how that may affect you. 2 agree Reply This is such a massive culture shock for me – living in Australia, the thought of owning a gun is bizarre! This debate has totally opened my eyes to another side of gun laws, and while I don't agree with 'the right to bear arms', and could NEVER own a gun, this has been fascinating. And why I love the OBE! 2 agree Reply My knee-jerk reaction has always been, "No Gun! Guns are bad!" However we live on an isolated mountain in the Colorado Rockies and have two dogs. A mountain lion ate our neighbor's goats. She figured she no longer had livestock to protect and gave us her shotgun. We have it not so much for shooting a predator but for scaring off predators were they to attack our little mutts. And it seems like much less of a big deal than I thought it would be! I'm the last person I ever thought would have a gun in the house, but I'm actually glad of the thing. 3 agree Reply Zombie plan anyone? Ok, that's not why my fiancee and I have gun. We're both 24 and have four guns in our home (three rifles and two shotgun). All are functional, and two are loaded as I type. We don't have children and we don't live in a neighborhood with a lot of people. We love target practice, and I seasonally hunt with my family. I am one of those people who is comfortable around guns. My fiancee and I have had to defend out home once. My home was willed to me by my uncle. He was sometimes involved in…questionable activities to say the least. One evening a man started hatcheting the lock on our door to get in the house. When he opened the door he was confronted with two (we were both 19 at the time) teenagers with shotguns aimed at him. We each took a side and held him there until the police arrived. Of course I can speak for the dangerous side as I have shot myself accidentally. My first hunting trip I fall due to a crumbling old wall I was trying to climb over. I did not hold my shotgun away from me. I was lucky that I wasn't badly hurt, but I did need to have over 40 pellets removed from my calf and ankle. Despite that experience, over a decade later I still have gun. I think there are many other wonderful ways to protect your home with fewer variables, but as a child free home in a small neighborhood, I'm happy with my guns. 2 agree Reply My husband has about 10 guns in our house. One stays in the bedroom with the bulletts hidden across the room. The rest are locked up in a gun cabinet. I have never really been around guns so Im always nervous of them. My husband, on the other side, is a firm believer in protecting what we've worked for. We live in a bad area with a lot of break ins. I dont think that I would have the ability to shoot someone, but if my baby is in risk, I'd be more liable of doing something, but I'd doubt it would be with a gun. I've seen my husband run people off with one gun. They seen it and ran. The police told us that 9 times out of 10 that a gun is never even fired; its just seen. 2 agree Reply My husband and I are in the no guns club. EVER. I personally cannot grasp the idea of it being okay to kill someone, even in defense of children. I guess I am just not wired that way. Neither of my parents approved of gun ownership or hunting either, so that gave me a shove in the right (for me) direction. My dad immigrated here in the 1950s to escape WW2 Hungary and saw so much violence first hand that he couldn't stomach it. I have been robbed at gunpoint 3 separate times and would still never own a gun. I would like to make one point, though. Gun culture =/= polite society. Some comments have blamed Mexico for the import of illegal guns, but the statistics actually show the flow of guns going south. The huge gun problem in Mexico that has violence creeping over our border starts in the US. http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/counting-mexicos-guns/ 3 agree Reply You do realize that link is horribly out of date, as our own government is responsible for funneling firearms to drug cartels in Mexico…right? 2 agree Reply I didn't grow up with guns, but I like them, although I don't own one at this point. I am almost fearfully respectful of them, as in untrained hands, anything could happen, and if ever one is handed to me, I check that it's unloaded almost constantly. I'm not sure whether I'll ever get one, as MadCat has pointed out his psychotic episodes and warned me that if one should be in the house, I would have to take steps to make sure it's accessible only to me. That's no problem; I'd be extremely gun-conscious in any event. That said, MadCat has an air rifle, which we use for target shooting, and we are both exceedingly careful with it – those things can still put out an eye! Having had more than one break-in in my life, one of which was very violent and ended up in a sexual assault, I keep all manner of weapons at my bedside to protect myself. Currently, I have four very sharp swords scattered around my bedroom, one of which is always close at hand – I'm alone at home every second week and South Africa is known for violent crime that, more often than not, involves torture or ends up in rape and/or death. I'm taking no chances and I have no compunction about causing as much bodily harm as possible to anyone breaking into my home. MadCat and I have also discussed the use of paintball guns filled with pepper shot and solid shot, as a deterrent. They're relatively inexpensive, don't require a licence, are easy to equip and are bloody painful on the target. It's that or, as a police reservist advised us recently, a crossbow, which is quite capable of delivering a killing shot. Again, having been attacked by someone without a conscience, who did his level best to kill me, and knowing what kind of violent crime is endemic to my country, I have absolutely no issue with taking the life of someone who's endangering me or my family (which, yes, includes my four-footed kids). That's not to say I don't understand those who would prefer not to take the violent route, but I'll take what works for me. 2 agree Reply I grew up with guns. My parents gave me a respect of exactly what a firearm can do to a person and they were NEVER,EVER to be touched unless an adult was with you at the range. Safety was always number one. That said, my mom is an excellent pistol shot. Her father (a Marine who served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam conflicts) taught her, and myself well. That came in handy one night when a man, high on something, broke into the house. He was ranting and raving, saying he was going to kill everyone. My mother told me to hide under her bed. She then pulled her .38 from her nightstand drawer, went to the top of the stairs, (the assailant was half way up, standing on the landing) she ordered him to stop or she would shoot. He didn't, she did. She shot both of his knee caps and then his shoulder because he wouldn't stop. My mom did this to protect herself and her 7 year old daughter. My dad was out of the country at the time. My mom is not proud of this, but it was something she had to do. Again, my mom is an excellent shot. I'm not as good as she is with a pistol, but I will not hesitate to pull the trigger if I am aiming at a human being. If I have a gun leveled at you, that means I am in fear for mine, and my loved ones life. I will soot to kill. That is the question you should really consider when thinking about buying a firearm for protection. And for the love of peanut butter, take concealed and safety courses, and spend LOTS of time at the range! In my house, we are all armed, have had the appropriate training in firearms as well as edged weapons and martial arts. But that is also a art of who we are. If this isn't who you are, please don't buy a gun. That gun will be of no use if you can't pull the trigger and be willing to kill another human being in defense. 2 agree Reply Wow. Go, Mom! 5 agree Reply There are two things I actually don't remember learning because I was so young when my parents introduced it. The first is skiing. The second is shooting. My parents both were big believers in introducing us to guns at an early age so that they would have no mystique and we would know how to handle ourselves around them. We used to go to the rifle and pistol ranges with my dad every month or so during the warmer time of the year. I actually find shooting to be a very zen-like experience. At the range you try to lower your heartbeat and breathe in a controlled fashion to be as steady as possible. It's very much like meditating. Hunting is the most primal way of getting back in touch with nature – rejoining with the reality that steaks and porkchops aren't magically brought into existence at the grocery store and I can't take that food for granted. When I was twelve, dad showed me and my sister where he kept the revolver he used for protection and the speed loader. I still remember what he taught us. 1) Don't pick it up unless you're prepared to use it 2) The first five shots were the bird-shot sort. Drywall would stop them. 3) The last round was one meant for serious killing power. If someone was still coming after you fired five shots then the last one would stop them. 4)Let them take your stuff. Stuff is just stuff and it's covered by insurance. Stay in the bedroom and call the cops. 5)Fire the first shot out the window at the lawn or someplace equally harmless. This will let the intruder know you are armed. If they keep coming then it is safe to assume they have intent to harm you or your loved ones 6) Fire at the center of mass. I don't have the guns for protection. I have them because I enjoy using them in a safe, controlled environment. However, I do have a speed loader so they can be used for protection if needed. 5 agree Reply Like several of you, I grew up in a home with a dad that hunted and was not only interested in teaching me personal safety but spent hours making sure I learned my way around several kinds of firearms: shotguns, rifles and handguns. When I lived alone with my elderly great aunt, he put the old five-shot in my hand and told me "if someone tries to come in, aim at his center of mass and shoot until he stops moving." Crazy? Maybe. But he didn't want anything bad to happen to his little 22-year-old girl, or his aunt. I live in the same house now and I have two babies. And my choice is between the intruder, who has no legitimate business being way up on this hill, or myself and my two babies. For me it's not so much a question of whether I'm prepared to take another person's life. It's a question of whether I'm willing for them to take my life or my children's lives. I am not willing that myself or my babies be hurt, sullied, or otherwise offered violence. Under those circumstances, I am absolutely willing [though not happy] to take another person's life. I didn't choose for them to come up here looking for trouble, any more than any other woman asks to be abused, violated or taken advantage of. So I pack heat, and I know how to use it. And I might have to go to counseling after the fact and deal with the consequences, but my babies are going to be able to rest without fear knowing their mama loves them and will do whatever she has to for their protection. Just my two bits. I'm a fussy mother hen most of the time who can't remember the last time I ate or slept four hours together, I'm sidetracked and forgetful and a little hazy. But there are matters upon which I have absolutely frightening clarity. Blessings. 2 agree Reply The answer in our house = crossbows, swords, throwing knives, and a set of bows. Potential to be lethal, yes, but not as likely. We feel we have more "control" over these items (less likely to misfire). 1 agrees Reply I grew up with guns but no one in my family was hunters. As a military brat I have seen handguns and rifles as part of everyday life but also part of that daily life is safety and regiment. As much as I would never walk into a strangers house, I would never point a weapon at anything I did not fully intend to shoot. I can't explain it anymore other than to say: these are things that you just do not ever do under any circumstance. There is no thought or discussion about it (to me) how to handle a firearm. Dad, brother, and husband's birthday is always spent at the range. Safety is reviewed each time before and weapons are properly cleaned each time after. We have a dozen handguns and rifles properly locked and stored in our house in the farthest corner away from any entrances. We have a small handgun in our bedroom (which stays locked when we have guests) for protection that is loaded with rounds intended to kill. If my life or my husbands life is threatened, the threat will be killed. I realize this might sound a little fanatical (I swear I'm not!) but I intend to be this serious about it because it is a very serious matter to have a gun for protection. I've also grown up with a very real awareness of death, knowing every time my father was deployed he might die and now knowing the same for my husband. On a lighter note, I belong to a group we call the BFF's (Bitches, Firearms, and Fondue) made up of military women and a few wives from early 20's to 60's who get together once a month for range time and then have fondue and martinis afterward. It started because several of the women were having difficulty weapons qualifying after being excused for maternity for lengthy periods. There are 15 of us that go to the police range together to support and encourage each other. Oh yeah and we do it in heels; because if someone tries to attack you late at night on the street they aren't going to give you a minute to take your heels off before trying to defend yourself. I should caveat here that I live in Florida and therefore have the right to own all of these weapons without permit and also have the right to defend my life on my property or anywhere in public without having to retreat first. This is a very distinct right in the state of Florida and is not common throughout the US and especially not outside of the country. If you are considering owning a gun for protection I suggest you sign up for a concealed carry permit in your state because they will teach you the rights and laws concerning guns and defense in that state even if you don't intend to carry it with you. Also, you could talk with your police department or nearby range about a women's shooting group for training, safety, and some solidarity. And if you don't think you could shoot and kill someone, do not keep a gun at hand in your home. I have several friends (male and female) that would be more of a danger to themselves with a loaded gun and would never suggest that they keep one at the ready. 4 agree Reply I used to be all against guns. So many things could go wrong, and accidents happen every day. But I was also young, and very optimistic about pretty much everything. I had that untouchable feeling like nothing bad will happen, I'll die when I'm the average 72 year old woman. Then I got pregnant right out of highschool, and I started to worry. Worry about everything. Some things, I'll admit, were irrational (zombies, for example). Most however were completely justified, like a flu pandemic, the government collapsing, nuclear attacks, extreme natural distasters (like tornados, I live in Leavenworth, Kansas), peak oil, or some kind of foreign invasion. Even though they think I'm crazy, I tell my family all the time that they are very real dangers that can happen at any time. It's not "if" one of these will happen, it's "when". Shortly after I realized it wasn't just me that would need protecting, I started to prepare. Yeah, sounds pretty serious. And yes, sometimes I laugh at myself. But still, I began collecting canned goods, flats of bottled water, putting together Bug-Out-Backpacks for everyone in my house, making first aid kits, and buying tons of Instant Lunches (You just need hot water, only cost 35 cents, and are surprisingly nutritious! Talk about a preppers dream). Protection took an important role in this. If there is any form of anarchy or lack of food, home invasion and defense is inevitable. Because I've always been scared of guns (especially pistols! unbelievably easy to shoot) I opted for a cross bow. My boyfriend bought one for me this last Christmas. Will it do more damage than a gun? Yes. But you really have to work to cock it and aim to shoot, so I'm guessing anyone would be more careful and concentrated with a bow. Not to mention it's pretty scary looking, more like if-I-saw-one-pointed-at-me-I-would-shit-my-pants-looking. Foremost, I can use it to hunt if we are ever scarce on food. Which is the only time I would hunt. For the "real world" my boyfriend owns a pistol. We both know how to shoot it and have a gun safe, since we now have two kids. Safety first. So firearms in the house? Or a crossbow, if you're a little obsessed like me? Personal preference, obviously. Two years ago I would have freaked, but now I would feel vulnerable without them. I hope someone posts an article about Preparedness on here soon! If not, maybe I will start working on one. 🙂 2 agree Reply On the topic of preparedness: This tongue-in-cheek yet valid article from the CDC has information on how to deal with an impending zombie apocalypse. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_blog.asp 2 agree Reply I saw that! Pretty funny. Reply The only conversation my husband and I had was what kind of gun do you want. I personally own 7 guns 4 of which are hand guns. I have one in my night stand and one in my car at all times. I don't like the idea of taking someone elses life but if it comes down to me or them I'm fighting for me. My husband owns his own security business and we have a state of the art security alarm in our house but I still feel more secure knowing that I have my gun and I can defend myself if it comes down to it. I'm not one of those women who like to hunt but I do enjoy shooting my gun. But for those of you who do not like guns and don't want them in your house I strongly urge you to look into a home security system. 3 agree Reply I grew up with guns. My father is a gun collector and hunter and we lived in a very rural area. His philosophy was that if us kids knew what a gun was and what it could do, we would not be tempted to play with it as though it were a toy. I am comfortable with firearms and have been since an early age. Even my sweet southern Mama knows how to fire a 12 gauge. I have a healthy respect for what a gun can do, and I am a straight up dead shot, have been since my teen years. For years, I lived without a gun, simply because I was living on college campuses where they were forbidden and in apartment complexes where I feared firing a gun might be dangerous. Then I was married to a man who just did. not. need. access to firearms because frankly he was too mentally unstable. Even as a divorced lady living alone in a fairly bad neighborhood, I never bothered to arm myself because I didn't think I needed to. Then I moved out into the country with my beloved, and one night while he was at work late and my car was in the shop, two shady characters came up at dusk and knocked on the door of what they assumed was my empty house. I have not lived a sheltered life, and I know what two men with hoodies pulled down to their noses want when they knock on the door that time of night. It was near Christmas, and there had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood. They were not there to sell me Girl Scout cookies. I spoke to them through the locked door and they were visibly shocked to find someone home. I then proceeded to watch them, out my bedroom window, stand in my driveway and have an animated conversation which no doubt in my mind consisted of whether or not it would be worth their while to break in the house with me inside. I knew there was a gun in the house and I knew where it was, so I loaded it and I waited. Eventually they decided to move on. If they had attempted to break into my home, I would have assumed they were coming in to do me harm, and I would have killed them. No shooting to wound or incapacitate, sorry, because I am not trying to spend the rest of my life working to support someone who was trying to break into my home and hurt me, and unfortunately we DO live in a world where injured burglars have successfully sued the homeowner who injured them. Where we live, there is a lot of crime. Not too long ago, some burglars broke into a home where an 11 year old girl was home sick from school, and when she surprised them they pistol whipped her to death. One of them was a 17 year old boy. On some fundamental level, I think it might harm my soul to take a human life no matter the circumstances. But, still, I have a gun in my home and I always will, and if I have to use it, I am confident that I can do so with a steady hand. The world is a scary place and I do not see it getting any better. Guns are not scary or complicated, and anyone with the determination to go to the firing range and practice and take classes if you need it can become proficient at shooting. It's better to have a gun and never ever need it than to need a gun and not have one, IMHO. 3 agree Reply I don't know where you all are where you've never seen a gun in someone's house. Now, it may be because I was a military kid AND lived in the south, but I know people who could arm small militias. Also, realize that people who own guns typically don't flaunt them; many keep them locked or hidden. Side note: A bird shot shotgun is a good defense option. It isn't lethal but it hurts like the dickens and it's a "point and shoot". Also, it won't go through walls…it'll take a lot of clean up and patching but better that than someone else cleaning up your own blood. Plus, everyone knows the "shotgun cocking" noise…my dad went overseas to Iraq and THEY know what that noise meant. It's a pretty good deterrent. 3 agree Reply Lots of our readers are in Europe and Australia, where gun laws are quite different. To have a gun in the UK is super illegal. 8 agree Reply I used to be a pacifist, but then my fiance bought his gun, and I didn't want to live under the same roof as something I was petrified of or take away my fiance's right to protect our family. I went to the shooting range to learn how the gun works and to make sure that I knew how to use it (it is silly to have one in the house and not even be competent using it after all – that would be a recipe for disater!). The big surprise was that I absolutely love it! I have now started competition shooting and have taken it on as a sport. It is wonderful! I am now comfortable in the knowledge that I know the "killing machines" in my house inside and out, and that I know how to use them well. Accidents will always be possible, bad things happen, but I am confident in that I am more capable to handle a bad situation in my home now than I was beforehand – and (go figure) I actually feel safer with the guns in my house than I did without them! I never saw that one coming! 🙂 2 agree Reply It's not just about guns, you know. Another weapon that's kind of terrifying, and surprisingly unlikely to be lethal if the home invader gets medical attention, is a machete. If you don't hit him in the head or neck, he probably won't die. But he will bleed, a lot, and that is scary. 1 agrees Reply I was always taught that if you pick up a gun, be prepared to shoot to kill. If you're prepared to shoot to kill, be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions. Could I take another person's life? Maybe. I'm certain there are some extreme situations (protecting the lives of my family or myself for example) in which I could kill without question. Could I deal with the consequences of taking a person's life? I don't mean the legal consequences. I mean could I continue to look myself in the eye in the mirror and live with the fact that I just took someone's child/sibling/grandchild from this world. Generally speaking, I don't know that I could do that. Things are just things. THINGS can be replaced. I have insurance for a reason. And there are very few THINGS in life that I can't live without. I may not WANT to live without them, but I can. ***I*** cannot be replaced though. All life is precious. I don't believe that any one person has the right to take the life of another. That includes me and that includes my family, friends, and neighbors. In the few extreme situations where I could take a life without question, yeah I think I'd eventually be able to sleep at night again. Outside of those very extreme situations, such as if someone just tried to steal from me, no I don't believe I could that. I grew up somewhat around guns and have had good/bad experiences with them. I'm not anti-gun. I don't fear them but I do respect, although I may fear the person wielding them. They're just not for me. I do want to someday take a course or two on them however just to have the knowledge of gun safety and operation just in case. I'd rather know and never need the knowledge than vice versa. I do however have a dog. He's a 47 pound terrier mix who barks if a squirrel farts wrong down the block. My baseball bat is under my bed, my buck knife is under mattress, I generally have a blade on or near me most times at home. If someone breaks in and my dog doesn't deter them, I'm up/awake by that point and I'm insured. If they try to touch me personally, they've come far enough into the house that they intend me harm and I'm prepared to make them pay for that decision. 3 agree Reply Easy decision for my husband and me, because it's against our religion to carry a weapon unless you need it for your line of work (police, farmer, etc.). My sister owns a handgun, but for sport, not protection. I don't think I'd ever be okay shooting at a human being, and I'm pretty sure anyone who saw me holding a gun would be able to see that, so it wouldn't help me even if I wanted to own a firearm. 🙂 3 agree Reply So glad I live somewhere this is not an issue. There is strict laws against owning guns in Australia and most people that do own them live on farms. It's terrifying and to me, and excessive that people can keep HANDGUNS, weapons made for the explicit purpose of killing people next to their beds. My house was broken into once, the frying pan was more than effective. 4 agree Reply My Dad's an RVer, and he told me once about a conversation he saw on an RV online forum. American RVers were complaining that they couldn't bring their guns into Canada, and were saying that they couldn't understand how Canadian Rvers travelled without guns. A Canadian responded by saying "What do I need a gun for? I have a tire iron and a can of Easy Off Oven Cleaner". 3 agree Reply Hubs has guns- several. He grew up shooting, and keeps them mostly for sport, but every once and a while he lapses into the macho "I shall protect house" (Grunt) mentality, which makes me uncomfortable- but I try to understand. We're impeccable about safety/storage- to the extent that I don't know if we'd be even able to GET to a firearm in "the nick of time" (not that I'd ever tell HIM that!) We're both trained in Krav Maga, which is an Israeli self defense/street fighting technique, and, don't laugh- but we've made sure that there are light switches on double sides of rooms so, god forbid someone breaks in and we're THERE, we can turn the light off on them and have the "we know the house" advantage while we retzev them to incapacity. …But then again, we also have a more or less viable Zombie plan. So there you go. As uncomfortable as I am with guns, I realize that 90% of it comes from my upbringing. My mother refused to let them in her house- she was 150% anti-gun, to the point of fanaticism. I'm a trained rifle marksman, and even though Hubs grew up shooting, I'm the far better shot. Ironically, I'm the least likely to go for the gun in time of need. It's interesting to think that a lot of our discomfort about weapons may be from our upbringing (either through positive or negative examples) as much as it is our own gut feelings. 3 agree Reply something i went through when my s.o. moved in too. he doesn't hunt, but has a large gun collection for fun shooting, and reenactments. when he first moved in, i didn't want any guns here. we had a lot of handsy kids in the house, and they'd pick up and play with anything they saw. because we both also cosplay and he has replica guns that look like real guns. and at cast metal weigh the same as a real gun, and look the same. (he removes orange tips for pictures)so it's really hard to tell a real gun from a fake one in his collection. my brother is also a gun nut though and heard my plight. plus he and my bf went to my parents because we had a drug dealer living next door and a few shots fired in a park not far from the house and fist fights in the drive way. so my parents and brother bought gun locks for every gun my s.o. owned that would be considered home defense, (shot guns and one hand gun) you need keys to open them, and only the s.o. has the keys but one. i do. been shown how to load it and fire it. it's actually not much different than my nerf shot gun, except heavier. but he also leaves me a billy club in the nook in the bed, a police knight stick by the headboard, and a metal baton on my side table along with pepper spray. before he moved in, it was a solid oak boken, a 6" knife and pepper spray i kept by the bed. 🙂 i still prefer baseball bat and boken. though i am happy my s.o. had his gun when my friends ex who is a crazy gun toting nut, tried to break into our house when we were babysitting his son, because he didn't want too. (go figure we were doing the nut a favor) i was asleep with the toddler when he tried to break in. bf got his shot gun and met him at the back room. he had guns in his car. 1 agrees Reply I can't imagine owning a gun….I've never even seen a real gun.I live in UK where it is illegal to own a gun (there are some types like air rifles you can own, I think, not sure..) Even our police don't have guns routinely. However gun crime IS on the increase in the UK and it makes me scared.I can't imagine a society where you can buy bullets in the supermarket. It seems insane to me. 3 agree Reply After reading this post and all of the comments I am now scared to even visit the US. Its not a gun issue, I am comfortable shooting targets and clay pigeons, but I have never felt the need to have any kind of weapon to defend my home. If I ever owned a gun it would be kept unloaded in a gun safe, the bullets would be locked away somewhere else. 2 agree Reply For many people, protecting the family is unquestionable especially at this time when danger is lurking almost enywhere. Owning a gun is a smart move to defend your family against criminals but of course, responsibility comes along with its possession. 1 agrees Reply Have a gun, always. 1 agrees Reply I grew up in a small town in PA. Dad hunted and always had guns in the house. When I was born, I was gifted a shotgun by a friend of my dad's. I learned to hold a gun the same age I learned to fish- kindergarten. I learned to shoot when I was 8, which is quite normal because you can hunt at 12 and you need to be good at it by then (I'm in my twenties and a better shot than my dad now!). Everyone that I knew had at least one gun. The culture of my town was learn young and learn right. Guns were always treated as weapons and not as toys or ego-strokers. We never had a case of gun violence that I can recall in the twenty-some years I lived there. We always played outside without supervision and went to the grocery store and such on foot alone. My dad also has an amazing gun cabinet. I joke with my husband that if someone dropped an atomic bomb on us that we could hide in it and we'd be okay. We don't own a gun now but I'd be okay with one. We were living outside DC and a bunch of people moved out of our complex and some scary people moved in. They would smoke and drink and scream at each other right outside our door (we were on the first floor which I hated). The people above us had parties where they would go until 4 AM and once somebody kicked a dog up there. We complained to management but they did nothing (we got new management who sucked; our old management always took noise complaints seriously). One night, there was a car parked facing into our living room windows with the lights on blasting very inappropriate music. It was so loud that we couldn't hear the TV over it. I got mad and tried to talk to the guy in the car but he ignored me. I ended up calling 911 and I was berated by the woman on the phone, saying :"What, is his music scaring you?" like I was a baby. Thankfully, a very nice cop showed up 5 minutes later and made the guy go away and apologized for the rude dispatcher. The next day, a friend took me home from work because my husband worked late. When he dropped me off, I saw the car that had been parked outside from the night before. Once my friend pulled away, the door of the car opened and the guy started getting out. I bolted into my apartment in terror. I am an archer, so I sat with my compound bow loaded next to me on the couch until my husband came home. At that moment, I really wished I had a gun. We moved out a week later. I had to pay $2000 to break the lease but it was worth every penny. We now live somewhere super safe. We're on the 2nd floor, the people are cool, and our door has two deadbolts and the outside key is electronic so there is no handle or keyhole to pick. It really makes me miss my hometown, really. 1 agrees Reply I just realized I wasn't clear on why I called the cops. It wasn't because of the loud music. He was sitting in his car, all the lights off, with the car pointed towards my windows and had this headlights on as bright as they could go shining into my apartment along with the music. It was very unsettling. 1 agrees Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.