Practical Uses for a Handgun?

Posted by Spencer on December 23rd, 2012

There’s a lot of discussion going on right now about gun laws, and I see a lot of pro-gun posts from some of my friends on Facebook. Most of these consist of graphics that feature a one-liner or something to that effect, and the arguments they make are pretty weak. I hate dumb arguments, and am naturally drawn to pointing out their logical falacies; however, in doing so I risk starting a flame war and being branded anti-gun, which I’m not.

While I wasn’t raised in a gun household, and never owned one myself, I’ve never been particularly against them. Thanks to friends and family (and, you know, living in Michigan), I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to them, and have had occassion to recreationally fire handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Like everyone else, I’ve also witnessed guns being glamorized in books, TV, and movies.

I’m a fairly pragmatic person. I’m also a nerd, so it made sense to me to lay out my thoughts on practical arguments for handgun ownership in a pro-con spreadsheet.

Pro Con
Cost Even considering gun, ammo, case, ammunition, training, and care, it’s still cheaper than, say, a laptop There’s probably something better to spend money on. Like an iPad! (hint hint my bday is coming up) Tie?
Home Defense It can stop a theif Is your black-friday-discount TV worth more than a life? Do you not have insurance? Also, can’t they just rob you when you aren’t home?
Home Defense I live in an extremely remote or dangerous area, and there is insufficient police or community to deter otherwise reluctant criminals
Personal Defense It can stop a random attacker (rapist, manson-esque psychos) As long as they aren’t smart enough to consider their victim might be armed, and factor that into their attack plan As long as gun ownership/carrying doesn’t get any more widespread, most attackers may not account for it, so this one goes to “pro”
Personal Defense It can stop someone who really wants to kill you (stalker, enemy, personal vendettas) If someone is intent on killing you, they will likely find a way. You can’t be vigilant 100% of the time, and there are many other ways they can kill you (poisoning, IED, sabotage, arson) where your gun won’t make a difference
Home/Personal Defense Non-lethal options exist to stop/wound/deter attackers with less potential for err (spray, tazer, alarm, dogs, baseball bat)
Hunting Some people hunt with them I guess But rifles/shotguns are going to be way better, and bows more fun
Guberment You can defend your home from the police state They will win anyway.
Job If you’re in law enforcement/army and you will use it in your work, it makes sense to practice off-duty
General Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Unlike pretty much every object you will ever interact with, their primary reason for existence is to be used to kill. The risk of someone geting killed in the presence of a handgun is inherently higher than in the presence of, say, a spatula.
Cool Factor Owning and operating a handgun makes you feel like a total badass More likely to show off or take risks Badass factor, all the way. Helps if an NWA song is playing in the background
Crime Reduction Gun laws don’t mean less violent crime Gun laws do mean less violent crime There are so many studies on both sides. It’s also a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario much of the time.
Zombie Apocalypse In a zombie outbreak, nuclear holocaust, or other breakdown-of-all-society situation, a handgun would be very “handy” (+1 for pun!) A zombie outbreak, however fun to imagine, is unlikely for several reasons (like, science). Post-society situations are theoretically possible, but still extremely unlikely, and it’s not necessarily clear how a handgun would benefit you more than another type of gun, or other survival measures

My Conclusions (so far)

If you consider it highly probable that you will be attacked in your home by several armed people, to the extent that no other home defense method would suffice, owning a handgun makes sense.

It seems comon sense to me though that you might be better off moving to an area where you aren’t in grave danger, or working with the community to improve the conditions for everyone.

For me, I don’t really see much of a practical point to owning a handgun. I think the “cool factor” is the only reason I’d ever consider it.

I’m still undecided where I fall on the gun control issue. I think some people have legitimate reasons for owning a gun, and I believe it’s also the burden of the state to prove the necessity for such laws (ie that it makes society safer for all). But I also don’t feel it’s a great personal sacrifice, or that I’d be losing something truly valuable, if handguns were further restricted in some way, or the consequences for posessing one illegally were increased.

Posted in Miscellany