According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the single most common reason for owning a gun is protection. The survey found that 48% of respondents own a gun for protection, 32% for hunting, and 7% for target shooting. If you plan on carrying a gun for the purpose of self-defense, however, there are a few things you should consider.
Which Gun Should I Carry?
If you asked ten different gun experts, you would probably get ten different answers. Everyone has their own personal favorite firearm for self-defense, which may include the Glock 19, Ruger LC9, Kahr CW9, or even the Sig Sauer P238. To answer the question of which gun YOU should carry, I recommend choosing the gun that you are most comfortable and familiar with. Let's hope it never happens, but if you are ever the victim of an attack, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. That means you must be able to pull your gun from its holster, aim and pull the trigger without any mishap.
To Conceal or Not to Conceal...
There are both pros and cons of carrying a concealed firearm. Keeping your gun hidden from plain sight may reduce your risk of becoming a target. If an attacker enters a public building or store and notices someone with a gun holstered around their waist, he or she may try to take it from them as a prelude to their other actions. But if you conceal your firearm, you will blend into the general public so you aren't a target.
Fully concealing a firearm isn't always an easy task, though. Depending on the size and weight of the gun – and the clothes you wear – you may have trouble hiding it. Furthermore, there are times when you may inadvertently expose your gun, which may frighten people around you, prompting them to call the police. If you are going to carry a concealed firearm for the purpose of self-defense, make sure it's hidden from plain sight at all times.
Stand Your Ground
When carrying a gun for self defense, it's important to familiarize yourself with the stand your ground law. This law, which is part of the Castle doctrine, gives citizens the right to use lethal force to defend themselves without retreating when faced with a direct or perceived threat.
Traditional self-defense laws require the victim of an attack to retreat when possible, and only use a “reasonable” amount of force to defend him or herself. With stand your ground, the victim of an attack is not required to retreat, and he or she may use deadly force if necessary.
As of this posting, here's a list of states that have adopted a version of the stand your ground law:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Firearms should only be used as a last resort in self-defense, even if you live in a state that has adopted the stand your ground law. Responsible gun carriers should attempt to remove themselves from the situation if possible. But if there's a clear danger that you believe is a threat to you or your family, you may have the right to defend yourself with lethal force.
* Image used by creative commons license, credited to Hayden Beaumont.