To Own A Gun Or Not To Own A Gun? That’s Still My Question

Alright, technically, my question is not whether I should own a gun or not own a gun but whether I should own ammunition or not own ammunition. I already own a gun, but the underlying principle of the question remains the same: does the importance of providing safety for my family override the importance of maintaining a safe environment for my family?

I grew up in a small country town in Utah where young boys bragged about the number of guns their dads owned. Many fathers in that town owned what seemed to be full arsenals of guns and even some mothers had arsenals of guns. My own father owned around ten guns and had a closet stocked with ammunition. Fast forward several years and here I am with my own house, a wife, two kids and two guns that I received as gifts at a young age. Those two guns have not been used in over a decade and are currently tucked away in a closet, and I have not owned ammunition for those guns over that timeframe.

An individual’s right and need to use a gun for protection is a hot-button issue right now in this country. Trayvon Martin was recently killed by someone who believed it was necessary to carry a gun for his protection. Sean Taylor, former safety for the Washington Redskins, was shot and killed by a home intruder in 2007.  Recently, an Oklahoma woman, while protecting her three month old baby, used a 12-guage shotgun to kill a man who had broken into her home. The woman had been prepared for the invasion and when she heard two men trying to break into her home, she took her baby into her bedroom, and loaded a pistol and a 12-guage shotgun and waited. Nobody really knows what would have happened had the woman not had her guns available and ready to protect her and her baby. What we do know is that one of those two men is now dead and, although, that woman and her baby are safe, she now gets to live with the reality of that death for the rest of her life.

Indiana recently passed a statute that codifies an individual’s right to use deadly force against an intruder, including against a police officer, if that individual believes the intruder is unlawfully entering his or her home. The use of deadly force in self-defense is a long standing common law doctrine in many jurisdictions and is often referred to as a person’s right to protect his or her curtilage. The need of such a right has become important enough in Indiana that the Indiana legislature felt it necessary to actually codify that right.

However, owning a gun and ammunition is certainly not a guarantee of safety, either. A college professor living in Utah who owned many guns was killed in his home by two intruders who, ironically, killed the professor because they wanted to steal his guns. The fact that this man owned many guns did not protect him in the end. Also, there is no guarantee that owning a gun will result in its use if an intruder does break into someone’s home. Death is not something that should be taken lightly. I, for one, would rather take a beating and the loss of my personal property than have to live with the knowledge that I ended someone’s life.

Additionally, having guns and ammunition in the home increases the chance of an accident occurring when the guns are mishandled. People are encouraged to keep their guns locked in a cabinet and away from children. The ammunition should be locked and stored in a separate location. These safety measures are put into place to protect children by preventing accidents involving guns. “Prevent” is the key word in that statement. Children seem to have the ability to meander through these safety measures which can ultimately end with an accident or at least what could have ended in an accident.

As a child, I learned exactly how to navigate my father’s safety measures and I basically had free reign to his stockpile of ammunition. This access, which he did not know I had, resulted in me discovering how to take a shotgun shell or bullet and transform it into a firecracker. One of my friends who had also discovered that a bullet could be converted into a firecracker ended up shooting off his own finger while at school—no gun was necessary to do that damage. One of my biggest fears is that if I buy ammunition, my children, who have some of my traits and tendencies, will learn how to navigate my safety measures and they will not be as lucky as I was.

Maybe my own experiences growing up have left me more sensitive and fearful than I need to be; however, the point remains. Here I am today, torn about whether I should buy ammunition and know that I would at least have the opportunity to protect my family if needed while also exposing my children to additional risks, or if I should eliminate the risk to my children of an accident from the misuse of my guns by not buying ammunition while taking a risk that I will never have need of ammunition from home intruders. While I do not have an answer to this question, and may never have an answer, here is what I do know: death is forever. The person killed is forever dead from this life, and the person who committed the killing will forever have to deal with the knowledge of that death, and the death of a child will be equally tragic for that child’s parents whether the death of that child was caused by an accident with a gun or by an intruder.

Which would you do?

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