Sunday, April 21, 2013

It seems prudent to do some research and analysis before choosing to buy a gun for home defense.

People thinking about buying guns for home defense should have some knowledge on which to bast their decision, and should do some analysis before making their decision on what weapon to buy if they do buy a weapon.
I got into a brief discussion about weapons for home defense. Let me say first that I was something of a gun nut as a young man, I owned several guns, spent a lot of time target shooting, and hunted. However, I don't think it is a good idea for most people to keep a gun in their homes for home defense.

I did some reading on the Internet. There is a lot of information available, and some of it seems useful. Surely it seems worthwhile to do a little research before deciding whether to have a gun in the house for home protection. The articles I read suggested that "experts" are very divided in their responses to the question of what kind of weapon to own for such a purpose.

Perhaps the first question you should ask yourself is where to put your effort. Would you be better off planning on ways to avoid having to defend your home rather than planning how to defend your home? It is almost certainly better to call the police and let them defend your home rather than do it yourself, if that is feasible. Do you know how to keep yourself safe were someone to try to invade your home?

The couple I was chatting with on the topic were both mature army veterans with no children at home. They of course had had training in weapons safety. The couple live in what seems to me a very safe area, and see the shotgun in the home as useful also for varmint hunting. They seem to be capable of making a rational decision. Are you?

Surely someone contemplating having weapons for home defense should have training on gun safety. Fortunately it is readily available -- one of the public services of the NRA. You probably have friends who own guns and know how to use them -- people who would be pleased to share their knowledge and perhaps even to take you out and let you use their guns. You might find you enjoy practicing with a rifle, a shotgun or a pistol. That would be important for you to understand. You might enjoy hunting, or you might hate killing animals. That too would be important for you to understand.

Most of the short pieces I read seemed to me to start too late. For example, they did not deal with the question of the risk of having a weapon in the house versus the risk involved in not having a weapon for home defense when one would be useful. Check out this article. I would suspect that hand guns, rifles and shotguns have different risks of accidents or misuse in the home and different values in home defense. People in different neighborhoods have very different risks of home invasion. The best choice would seem to be very different for different families.

Incidentally, if you ever suspect someone you don't know is in your home or trying to get in your home, my guess is that the best solution is to call the police and let them take care of the situation. If you come home and think someone is inside, don't go in. If you think someone is trying to get in by a window or door, go out by the furthest door.

I recall a neighbor years ago who heard someone in his back yard who had climbed over the fence in the middle of the night. My neighbor had a pistol for home defense. He got it and went out into the yard to confront the intruder. The next day my neighbor described to me confronting the guy across a small goldfish pond before the man turned around and disappeared over the wall. It was only in the light of the next morning that my neighbor found a pistol on the ground where the intruder had apparently dropped it. My neighbor might well have been killed had the intruder decided to shoot at him at a distance of 10 feet. Are you better prepared for a gun fight in the night?

Some articles dealt with the risk when shooting of the bullet going past the intended target and endangering others. In our dense urban areas with thin walled houses, that seems a significant question to me. Some weapons and some ammunition are much less likely to be dangerous to your neighbors.

The articles didn't seem to take into account who would be using a weapon for home defense. The 6 foot, 200 pound man, who is a military veteran, who hunts and who enjoys target shooting would seem to want a different weapon than a 5 foot, 98 pound woman who is afraid of guns and would not have time to practice with them.

Would you want to kill someone who was simply trying to steal you television set? If you simply wanted to scare someone away from your house, a big bang might be just as effective and much safer than a bullet. Maybe a starter pistol with blanks might be a good alternative or a good part of household weaponry. Of course you don't want to confront an armed intruder with a starter pistol!

Some of the articles seem to assume that the right weapon would have lots of fire power -- capable of rapid fire, with lots of stopping power. I kind of wonder whether a small gauge shotgun with bird shot or a small caliber pistol firing low velocity, small caliber bullets might offer a better balance of potential benefit and risk. One source suggested that mace might be still a better solution.

How about the economics involved? How much can you afford to spend? Would you use a pistol, rifle of shotgun for other purposes than home protection, such as hunting or target shooting -- home protection is not the first choice for most gun owners. What would be the benefits of the total package of benefits (recreation, food on the table, protection) versus the cost and versus the risk?

This blog focuses on the benefits of knowledge and analytic decision making. Those benefits also apply in decisions on whether or not to own a weapon, and what kind of weapon to own if one so chose.

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