Why Carry a Gun? 7 Objections Destroyed

Concealed Carry: Why Carry a Gun? Massad Ayoob explains.

The question is constantly asked: Why do you want to carry a gun? Here are Massad Ayoob’s 7 proven answers vindicating concealed carry.

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1. “Why do you carry a gun?”

Kathy Jackson said it best on her website (www.corneredcat.com): “I carry a gun because I can’t carry a policeman.”

2. “But aren’t you worried that if more people carry guns, more arguments will escalate into people being shot and killed?”

No. Responsible gun owners are too practical to worry about things that don’t happen.

3. “Why should a person who lives in a low crime area feel they had to carry a gun?”

Famed combat small arms instructor John Farnam said it best. He was teaching an officer survival class to rural police when one officer asked him, “Hey, how often do you think cops get killed around here, anyway?” Farnam’s reply was classic: “Same as anywhere. Just once.”

4. “Why can’t you face the fact that a study has proven that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a member of the household than a burglar?”

Probably because, being logical people, most of us who carry guns detest having to look at such fact-twisting exercises in sophistry.

5. “A review of strategy discussions on Internet gun boards reveals the fact that many people who are licensed to carry guns carry more than one. If this is not an indication of two-gun cowboy mentality, how else can it be explained?”

Firearms instructor and author David Kenik was once asked, “Why do you carry three guns?” He calmly replied, “Because four would be ostentatious.”

Ankle holsters allow business-casual dressers to be prepared at all times. Who could be against that?

Ankle holsters allow business-casual dressers to be prepared at all times. Who could be against that?

6. “You bloodthirsty gun people only carry weapons because you want a chance to hurt or kill someone!”

On the contrary, we carry guns so we will be less likely to have to kill or cripple someone. It’s called “Peace Through Superior Firepower.”

7. “You don’t have any right to carry guns anyway! The Second Amendment is about the National Guard, not personal protection!”

The Bill of Rights was framed shortly after the American Revolution. A “National Guard” in the time of the revolution would have been Tories loyal to King George and duty-bound to crush the American patriots. Do you really think this was what the framers intended to empower and enable?

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the new Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, 2nd Edition. For a detailed analysis of these answers and more reasons on why you should carry, don’t wait to get your copy.


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30 thoughts on “Why Carry a Gun? 7 Objections Destroyed

  1. DJL2

    #1: It’s a tool that I might need and which I would be considerably disadvantaged if I were not to have it when I need it. It’s utility and applicability are quite narrow, but specialized in such a fashion that no other tool will easily suffice when it is required. It is one of my most cherished rights and one I elect to exercise on principle.

    #2: Not especially. Perhaps that’s callous, but I believe that if people bear in mind that their actions have real consequences and some of them may be dire, they might stop to consider if yelling a steam of invective, emotionally charged filth at those around them is truly a manner in which they should conduct themselves. It is unquestionably true that a number of people operate act in a manner that is irresponsible and carefree everyday and that people can and do die from this. Texting and driving is a great example. I cannot stop them from doing that and I cannot effectively discourage their behavior from afar, particularly if they are already breaking the law. “An armed society is a polite society” has some applicability here.

    #3: Reality Check – you are responsible for your personal safety and no matter where you are, it is only as safe as you make it. Sometimes, bad things happen in “good” areas – it is irrational and fanciful to act is if criminal’s obey some imaginary rules or boundaries and limit their crimes to certain areas and times. It is true that local culture can change from area to area and societal norms can affect behavior and violence – but there is no truly safe zone or place.

    #4: Composite Risk Management is part of everyday life. We makes choices that affect the level of risk we are exposed to everyday. Maybe we’re meeting someone in a new part of town we don’t know to buy something on Craig’s List or Tailgating in traffic or swimming in a lake with no life guards – all of these things entail risk and gun ownership does as well. It is an individual decision as to which risks we accept and how we try to mitigate those risks.

    #5: Many people that own cars or televisions own more than one – so what? That is flippant, to be sure, but ultimately you need to treat people as individuals and understand that there is no blanket explanation or single personality that suffices to explain a behavior. Could someone carrying two guns fancy themselves a cowboy? Maybe. Could they be a former service member or police officer? Maybe. Could they be someone that believes that if their luck is every bad enough to need a gun to defend themselves it might be bad enough that they need more than one? Maybe. Without talking to that individual, I’ll never know. As long as they act within the law and uphold their rights and mine, I don’t care how or what they carry (or even if they do at all).

    #6: Oh dear – a terribly unfair generalization if there was one. It is also not terribly sensible. It is unfortunate that our society contains criminals, sociopaths and psychopaths – I would point out that, as a practical matter, these individuals are usually predators. They hunt their victims actively, they do not rely on chance encounters in the hopes that they might then perpetrate a violent crime. Setting out to murder is a wholly different proposition than carrying a gun for self defense. Using a pistol defensively is an atrocious tactical scenario – you are already on the wrong side of a criminal’s aggression, reacting to violence that threatens your life. The deck is stacked against you and you’re hoping that when you pull an ace it can beat the other guy’s hand – and a reasonable person can see this intuitively, it’s obvious. The idea that I would place myself at risk for grievous bodily harm or death in the hope that perhaps I might prevail through the use of force at the last moment is asinine.

    #7: The Bill of Rights is intended to preserve my rights and those of the several states. It was drafted in the 18th century to prevent the Federal Government from usurping too much power and The Constitution was a non-starter without its inclusion. A military organization controlled by the federal government which did not exist before the 20th century does not meet the intent of the document – that should be clear. Somehow, the meaning of “The People” is thought to clearly represent individual citizens when almost any other other right or issue is discussed, but then becomes a catch all for large over arching government organizations in this one specific instance. The collective rights interpretation of the Bill of Rights is nothing more than a convenient fallacy adopted by people that believe amending The Constitution is far more difficult and less fruitful than simply ignoring the parts they find inconvenient.

    I can certainly understand that some object to the trite nature of the remarks in the article – unfortunately, pithy remarks and catchy sound bites is the usual level of discourse in much of the Republic at this point in time.

  2. Marion King

    I also registered for this site to respond to this article. Answer the questions properly without being a snippy little kid.

    1. I carry so I can keep myself and the ones I love safe. NOT some quip about not being able to carry a police officer.

    2. Yes. Not all gun owners are responsible. I hope that the policies and procedures that are in place can weed out the ‘losers’ who are the problem while letting us responsible gun carriers enjoy our freedoms.

    3. While I live in a safe neighborhood, my daily travels take me into the areas that I don’t feel safe in or I don’t know. I’d rather be safe then sorry.

    4. People use guns to kill each other. That is a fact. Responsible gun owners don’t allow that to happen in theirhouseholds. We sshouldn’t have to be denied our rights because of the bad elements of our society.

    5. Those who carry 2 or more firearms at a time most likely got the idea from the fact that police officers do. Because a small number carry 2 or more doesn’t mean that all those who carry have that mentality. Judging a group of people by the actions of a few is wrong in all levels.

    6. I hope I never have to use my handgun against another human. I will if I have to though.

    7. The 2nd Amendment, through the use of punctuation, does give the right of gun ownership to citizens.
    The word militia (IMO) does mean what we call today the National Guard.

    It’s sad to think that any professional writer would answer any questions half heartedly and include them in any published work.

    We don’t need cute sharp answers to good questions. We need to be having an educated discussion to show we are serious about our safety and our right s.

    1. DJL2

      re: #7 – the National Guard

      A simple question: when the National Guard used force to integrate schools were they under the control of the Federal Government? Yes.

      Questions two: when National Guard units are called to active duty and deployed overseas are the under the control of the Federal Government? Yes.

      It is ludicrous for someone to contend that an organization that did not exist until the 20th century and which can be usurped and commanded by the Federal government at will meets the intent of a document drafted in the 18th century intended to preserve the liberty of individuals and states.

  3. mike @gunshopps.com

    From: mike@GUNSHOPPS.COM
    Subject: I own a Gun

    I don’t own a gun because….

    Some people wonder why they own or do not own a gun
    It has never been a problem with me.

    For instance, Although not all reasons are original with me
    They express my thought’s

    I don’t own a gun for killing. I own a gun for the sport of 
    Harvesting tasty table fare and target shooting.

    I don’t own a gun to feel like a man, I own a gun because
    A man knows how to protect himself and the ones he loves.

    I don’t own a gun because I feel inadequate.  
    I own a gun because unarmed and facing
     armed thugs I am inadequate.

    I don’t own a gun because I am evil.
    I own a gun because I have lived
    long enough to see the evil in the world.

    I don’t own a gun to kill people,
    I own a gun to keep from being killed.

    I don’t own a gun to scare people,I own
    A gun because sometimes the world is a scary place.

    I don’t own a gun because I am paranoid,
    I own a gun because there are real threats in the world.

    I don’t own a gun because I hate the government,
    I own a gun because I know the limitations of government.

    I don’t own a gun because I am angry,  I own a gun
    So that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life hating
    Myself for not being prepared.

    I don’t own a gun because I want to shoot someone,
    I own a gun because I want to die at a ripe old age
    In my bed.

    I don’t own a gun because I want to be a cowboy,
    I own a gun because when I die and go to heaven
    I want to be a cowboy

    I don’t own a gun because I love it, I own a gun
    Because I love life and the people who make it meaningful
    For me.

    My training in the military didn’t teach me to kill.
    But rather to protect myself and the ones I am with.

    Police protection is an oxymoron, Free citizens must
    protect themselves as officers do not necessarily 
    protect you from crime and usually they investigate
    A crime after it has been committed.
    An 85 year old man was beaten near to death in his
    Driveway, if he had a gun he might have saved himself.

    The average response time to a 911 is over 4 minutes.
    The average response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.
    I hope you have a gun too and know how to use it and never
    Need it for anything but target shooting or legally hunting.

  4. aworker inthe fields

    Before I started my former career, my aunt and sisters asked me why I carried a gun? My response was I didn’t like the neighborhood that my aunt lived in, it was my Constitutional Right to carry if I wanted to, and at the time, it was law to know where your handguns were at every moment. This way, I always knew! When I was off duty, and carrying, I was asked why, and my response was, because I never knew when I would be called back to duty at a moment’s notice, or would see something at a store or somewhere else, and would jump in to assist. After retirement, I was asked why I carry, and my response is: “There are never any big rocks to throw within easy reach!” With the new law that my governor has enacted in January of 2013, the hoops that a retired policeman has to jump through is ridiculous! Thank you Andrew Cuomo!

  5. nnorris7

    Dear Mr. Ayoob,

    I registered for GunDigest just so I could leave this comment.

    While I think your article asks exactly the right questions, I honestly couldn’t be more disappointed with your answers. Perhaps I come at this article from a different perspective but I find your answers come across as completely flippant, which does all gun owners, myself included, a huge disservice. We are not the audience you need to convince. You need to have real answers to these questions and address some of the “uncomfortable” facts out there.

    For example, your question #4:
    4. “Why can’t you face the fact that a study has proven that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a member of the household than a burglar?”

    Probably because, being logical people, most of us who carry guns detest having to look at such fact-twisting exercises in sophistry.


    I don’t know about the 43 times more likely study you refer to but a new study in the American Journal of Public Health found that states with greater levels of gun ownership tend to have higher rates of gun-related murder. Here’s a link to a Huffington Post article about the study: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/gun-violence-study_n_3924063.html .

    The simple fact is, some people kill other people and they use guns to do it. These are the types of questions responsible gun owners need to have real, credible answers to.

    Now I don’t like to criticize and not provide a solution, it’s not helping solve the problem. Having said that, I don’t believe the comments section is the place to work this through. I would be more than happy to work with you on an updated post to would provide gun owners with solid, verifiable answers to difficult questions. It’s something we would all benefit from. If interested, please contact me directly.

    1. wcwardrn

      My objection to all of the studies that approach gun ownership from a medical or public health standpoint is the obvious bias of the researchers. The originators of these “studies” knew what the conclusion was that they wanted before they started. I live in Montana, a state with a high rate of gun ownership and a low murder rate. Compare Montana to any big city in Illinois or to New Orleans.

      1. emsi653

        There is an inherent problem with the 43 Times claim and the new study in the American Journal of Public Health that found states with greater levels of gun ownership tend to have higher rates of gun-related murder. The first thing one should learn about statistics is you can manipulate most of your data to support your desired results.

        When these people who try to use the study found in the American Journal of Public Health they never show their work to determine where they obtained the number of guns owned in a given area. Are they including illegally or unregistered owned firearms? Since the number of illegally or unregistered owned firearms in this category cannot be determined the true numbers to base this study on are not a true reflection of the firearms that are really in any given area. Also, using States as your geographical area of study will add addition problems as state populations and population centers are disproportional. Many states that have high numbers of traceable gun ownership, yet their cities (New York, NY and Chicago IL. for example) have high regulation and low gun ownership while these two cities have disproportionally high gun violence.

        Another problem that should be well recognized by the medical community is to really identify gun violence you need to count firearms injuries and not deaths. The DEATH rates in all categories, motor vehicle, weapons (all), along with strokes and heart attacks have gone down because of better trained and equip Hospitals, Trauma Centers, Ambulances and Advances Paramedics but the acts of violence have gone up. In addition when the medical community reports a gun related injury or death they never note or may never know if that was an illegal firearm or legally owned. This information is usually known by law enforcement but doesn’t make it to these studies. If studies were not only to attempt to track the gun related injury or death but also determine that the gun responsible was either illegal or legally owned (registered or not as allowed by each state) then you might be closer to determine what guns are responsible for this violence. In addition many mass shooting in the last 15+ years are a result of stolen firearms, many even stolen from a family member of the shooter, and the weapon may who may have properly stored. In addition people who plan to commit a crime and legally purchase a firearm for that purpose or falsify applications to obtain a gun may also be an additional category. These points add new categories of firearms into the discussion. A proper study could be done but would take discipline and controls.

        From my experience of 22+ years in law enforcement and even more as a paramedic I believe such study would find that most firearms that cause deaths (or injuries if included) would be found to be the result of illegal guns or stolen firearm (many of which are properly stored) and not those owned by law abiding citizens.

    2. DJL2

      Ah, Dr. Kellerman. The methodology behind this “study” was debunked years ago. The author himself revised his original assertions. However, that’s really just foot notes to a rather glaring math error:

      – probability that a non-existent gun can be used to kill you = 0% – reference the definition of non-existent and you understand this is impossible.

      – Let us assume the probability of a gun in my home harming someone in my home is one in 100 Trillion = or .000 000 000 001 %.

      That’s pretty low, right? However, if you understand math, it is INFINITELY more likely an injury might occur from a gun stored in the home at my home than my neighbors because any chance at all is still infinitely more probable than an utter impossibility.

      It is an absolute fact that you assume risk, no matter how small, not matter how well mitigated, when you store any tool/object that can cause injury. It could be a chainsaw, a deep frier, a space heater, a gun, a pool, a fireplace, it doesn’t matter – they all represent some risk that a person without that object/tool is not subject to. In a free country, you are allowed to choose for yourself if you wish to assume that risk provided you do not infringe the rights of anyone else.

  6. ikeguy

    Some of these replies are really well thought out & clever, and right to the point. Some might seem to
    be bitter rantings of scared people.
    I carry mostly because of my profession (pharmacist) & the extremes to which dopers (right-wing &
    left-leaning) alike will go to for their habits. Law enforcement does a great job & couldn’t be expected
    to do better w/o starting to infringe our liberties, so we have to take some responsibilities on ourselves.

  7. deweys1427

    Carry a gun, concealed or open carry is like having an insurance policy for life, auto or home. You hope you never have to use it, but should the need arise, it’s there. If you don’t have insurance when you need you it can be catastrophic and change or ruin your life in an instant. The same is true for not having a weapon, the knowledge or skill to defend yourself, if and when needed. It’s not as easy as it use to be to tell the good from the bad people these days. Mall shootings, convenience store robberies, car jackings and occasional bank robberies?? Where will you be at when you need your weapon? You don’t know! I don’t know! The police can’t be everywhere, all the time, right! So you really have two choices. Hope for the best and that your never in the wrong place at the wrong time and if you are, hope someone else will take care of it. Or, you can make a conscious decision to be mental prepared to protect yourself and/or others, (family, friends, co-workers, innocent bystanders).
    It’s not a cowboy mentality, it’s not a super hero thing, nor is it a macho thing. It’s a choice and a freedom to attempt to have some say in your destiny, if and when faced with a life or death situation. Without it, there is only one outcome. RIP to those who choose not to protect themselves.

  8. cbryan751

    Don’t understand the “someone asked me why I carry” line of thought. In my state, we must carry concealed. If it’s concealed, who asks “why”? For reasons of “surprise”, you don’t want anyone…repeat ANYONE…to know what or if you are carrying. ITS A SECRET!!! Can’t ya keep it?

  9. Ribcracker

    Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Most human interaction falls into one of those two categories: Reason or force.
    In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
    When I carry a gun, you can’t force me to do anything. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or your employment of force.
    The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old thug, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunks with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
    There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed.
    People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a monopoly on force.
    Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise might only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the weaker.
    People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip and black eye. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.
    The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.
    When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I’m looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation… and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
    An ideal civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.

    1. xanthan_gum

      Ribcracker. Although I instinctively understand your points, I would be hard pressed to articulate them as clearly. EXTREMELY well put. I will paraphrase your logic in the future. Best comment this year.

      1. Patrick4800

        I registered just to point out this post is stolen from a blog titled “Why the Gun IS Civilization” and was authored by Marko Kloos. Having read this MANY times in the past and saved the article as one of my favorites I also immediately noticed the word gay was removed from the sentence “and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunks with baseball bats.” One doesn’t hear the word gay in articles about guns ever so it stood out. I guess ribcracker didn’t want to get caught sounding like he supported gays? I don’t care (though it is strange), I simply dislike theft and thought you should know.

        I ran it through the Microsoft Word compare function against the original article and there were 23 deletions and 22 insertions. I guess an attempt to hide the plagarism? So much effort that might have been put into an original thought or at least a by-line. The entire final sentence is original at least though it doesn’t have the impact of “and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.”

  10. Jumpmaster15K

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Let me explain this for the logically challenged. States have the right to form militias at any time they choose, so in order for this to be possible, no government entity has any right to deny the people of the State the ability to own firearms of their choice. The second amendment was designed to limit the government, not the people.

    1. ddbutton

      Also, “…, the right of the people…” is the same phrase used in the 4th Amendment. It means individual persons, houses and possessions. If the meaning in the 2nd Amendment had been intended for the “State”, the wording should be different in the 4th.
      And remember that the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution because of the efforts by people in the States that believed there needed to be additional safeguards spelled out.

  11. JCKelly

    Why do I carry? Honestly, because I can.

    When Michigan got the right to carry that meant I could go through some paperwork & have my gun along, either empty in the car trunk or in my pocket. Just like I did as a young guy in southern Delaware. See an old Colt auto at a gun show? Buy it on impulse, well it looked good. Shoot, clean then put away in a drawer.

    Most of you are too young to recall, but (outside of New York state) this used to be a Free Country.

    After thinking about it I bought a S&W snubnose .38 for pocket carry. It was an uneasy feeling, buying that revolver. I have lived around guns all my life but I never bought one specifically for personal combat. I live in a very peaceful town, though it is close to less peaceful areas, e.g. Pontiac and Detroit. I suppose I am more concerned about being alone on country roads than I am walking about town. My loaded revolver stays in my trousers pocket, hung by the bed at night. Other than that, i never ever leave a loaded gun unattended. If I were more serious I would, when traveling, carry an S&W 4″ .357, or some such weapon useful against an idiot in a car.

    I have some concern about that article above. It is is full of those smart-a– comments which may sell magazines to the choir. One would not copy it for a friend who is on the fence, though. A little more thought and less B.S. would be good for all of us. IMHO.

    I carry because I’m not worth anything in a fight, too old & fat to run. Live in a very peaceful small town. It is, of course, just a few miles from Pontiac and Detroit, which are not so peaceful.

    1. rrussell2244

      Hi JCKelly, I absolutely agree with you. The reasoning should be free from BS. Gun accidents happen, because people do not keep guns safe. I am from Germany and we MUST have a gun safe, otherwise we will not get a permit. In the USA, too many bad guys carry guns, that’s why the good guys have to carry. In Germany, a large pepper spray is sufficient because guns are very rare here. I always carried when I Iived in Tennessee and Georgia and I believe it saved my life more than once. Luckily, I never had to shoot. But I did have to draw it a couple of times.

  12. fbanta

    The Bill of Rights lists some of the INALIENABLE rights of people over which the Founders denied government ANY authority; or limited authority with specific demands.

    The reason that the Militia is mentioned in the 2nd Amendment is because the Right of Self Defense, that justifies the keeping and bearing of Arms is an INDIVIDUAL INALIENABLE right. The Founders were simply noting that the right of self defense extends to multiple members of a community working together for self-defense.

    The 2nd Amendment prohibits the FEDERAL government any authority to infringe the right of the people to Keep and Bear Arms (without caveat for who, what, or why). The 14th Amendment extends that prohibition to State and local government. Therefore there is no political entity in the US with lawful, Constitutional authority to infringe the right to keep and bear Arms!

  13. jfk111070

    Why is it I next to never hear that the 2nd amendment is #2 in the bill of rights. That the first ten amendments were written to protect individuals rights. Just look at the other amendments in that first ten. Kinda hard to argue that they are not for each person’s protection in one way shape or form. All other reasoning aside, based on the fact that the bill of rights is for the individual, all firearm based laws should be repealed. Try telling the lefties that they can’t spew their bs rhetoric and the first thing out of their slanted pie hole would be freedom of speech