Should I get a gun for self-defense?

Many people who come into the range where I work ask if they should get a gun for their self-defense. My answer is, it depends.

Now, before those of you who are die-hard gun owners get upset with me, hear me out.

It depends on if they are planning on changing their lifestyle to include the responsibilities that come along with having a gun. Yes, a gun can save your life in numerous situations, but only if you know how to use it.

Buying a gun, taking it home and locking it in a safe will not help anyone protect themselves. But, buying a gun, taking it home, getting to know how the gun functions, training with it on the range religiously, training some more and keeping it in a safe condition at home (which all depends on your home environment), can help you protect yourself.

What are the first things you’d suggest to anyone who is thinking about buying a gun for their self-defense?


I start with a question. “Are you willing to use this gun to take someone’s life, to kill a fellow human being?” If the answer is yes, then we talk firearms and training. If the answer is no we have the how to choose the best Mace discussion and discuss self defense training.


Agreed Gerard9…are you willing AND…do you believe that you are capable !!


Are you ready to change your life? Because buying and owning a gun, learning how to use it, training to be able to defend yourself with it, will change your life in ways you haven’t even considered.

You will come to understand not just the true significance of protecting yourself and your family, but the importance of our rights as Americans to be able to do so, and that will lead to a greater awareness of the world around you as well.


I’m opposite to “killing thinking”.
I’ve never found clear answer for this question: “Are you willing to kill or take other human’s life?”
No, you don’t know it. Actually if the answer is YES… are you really a good person?

Owning the firearm for self defense definitely will change the life style, will change your awareness and even habits. But all these in good way, you bacome just better and more responsible person.

The first thing I’d suggest to the person willing to have a self defense firearm is to make it another tool needed to live a nice and long life. It has to become handy tool, you have to be first comfortable then proficient with it.
It doesn’t mean you will have to kill, it means you may have to use it one day and you have to know how.
Self defense means defending yourself. You can defend without pulling from holster. But this can be also learned once you own the firearm.


I agree with the most important question Can you pull the trigger with intent to kill?.
Can you depend upon anyone else to protect you if your were being attacked by another human being or animal?
Will dialing “911” protect you from the attack?
Would it make a difference if your loved ones were standing behind you?


I agree with those above. You have to be willing and able to utilize “violence” to defend yourself from the true violence others might force upon you.

If you really struggle with the willing and able questions the answer is likely no.Though there are lots of stories of otherwise passive or even timid people flipping that switch when they or their families are threatened. But if you point a firearm at a person threatening you and then hesitate to use it you may just be providing them with another weapon to do you and others harm.

Do any of us who haven’t been there truly know if we are able until we are actually in that situation?

I’m a very non violent, conflict avoiding kind of person. I have made the conscious decision to defend myself and my family if imminently threatened. With the training and mental scenarios I have run I am pretty confident I will flip that switch when I need to. Hopefully I will spend the rest of my life never knowing for sure if I am truly capable:)


I will add that my intent will never be to kill. My intent is to pull the trigger or use whatever tools available to me as many times as I need to end the threat as quickly as possible to myself or family, friends and other innocents. If that results in the death of a violent person trying to harm innocent people, I am pretty sure I can live with that. But still hope to never find out for sure.


I understand what you’re saying, but I look at it from a different perspective. Can you pull the trigger to stop a threat, knowing that the outcome may be ending someone’s life? I’m not trying to dance around the issue, but the “intent” isn’t to kill, it’s to cancel the threat which may result in the attacker’s death.

Edit (guess I should read all the way to the end of the thread first…): Yes, what @Shamrock said.

Also, this:

Lots of philosophy about this sentiment. “Don’t let my desire for peace allow you to think I cannot be violent,” and “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” for example.


Stopping the threat could result in death for someone.

Many good people have had to kill to protect themselves or others. Willing to in this situation doesn’t make you bad, hoping to is another discussion entirely.


I was home watching a movie with my then-20-year old daughter when she turned to me and asked,
“Dad, would you die for me?”

I didn’t know where the question came from and I was speechless for a couple seconds.
Then, I smiled and told her,
“Of course, I would even kill for you!”

There’s no escaping the word. Note though that I didn’t use the word murder.
(There’s a similar discussion on this related to the Ten Commandments but I digress).

Going back to the OP, my initial goal would be to desensitize them until they look at a gun as a tool or a means to accomplish the task of self defense.

First thing I would do is ask the person to join me on a trip to the range on a regular basis.

They pay for gun rental and ammo. If they’re not willing to shell out $$$ now, they wouldn’t be willing to invest in training and practice down the road.


You also have to consider your temperament. Fo you find that you get angry easily and are very confrontational? If so, you need to be able to keep that on a tight leash.

There are too many stories in the news of irresponsible gun owners starting arguments that escalate and result in them shooting someone.


Only if you are willing to commit to training with it and getting to know it literally inside and out. Before you buy a firearm, talk to people that are knowlegable. If you know a police officer, veteran or someone that has knowlege of guns and how to use them. Before you buy a gun do your research. Do you want a revolver, or a semi auto? What caliber? What size best suits you hands and body strength? Check out the options and get familiar with the terminology. When you go to purchase a gun, take a knowlegable friend with you. Gun shops are in the busines of selling gun and many don’t care what you buy as long as you buy. Don’t get stuck with a gun that doesn’t fit you or meet your needs. Also buy self defense ammo and practice ammo, a lot of practice ammo. Also buy a cleanung kit or supplies sized for your gun. When you get home carefully read the instructions and safety information and then disassemble your gun and thoroughly clean it. Get familiar with the parts and how they fit together. Then reassemble your gun. Then break it down and reassembe it over and over until it becoomes second nature. Now you’re ready for the range. Take a knowledgeable friend and. Be sure to follow all the safety rules of the range and firearms handling and use your ear and eye protection. Fire the gun at the target. Don’t worry about accuraqcy at first. Get the fell of the gun. Work the safety, feel the triger set, practice trigger squeeze the work you way to the sights and learn sight picture. Practice two handed and single handed and practice with your non-dominate hand. Go to the range often and keep practicing. When you feel confident, practice some more. Then try to find an obstacle shooting course where you can learn to shoot under pressure and stress. If you can find one in your area, an indor and outdoor scenario training facility will train you to shoot / no shoot in various situations. Keep up your training on a regular basis. Join a club or range. Have fun and be safe



When I’m armed, I “give up” my right to respond to insults, someone cutting me off on the road, etc. Just not worth losing my CCW permit.


Welcome to the community @John1184 !

I agree that the more training, practice and familiarity with your defensive tool of choice the better off you will be. However I don’t think you need to be special forces or a gunsmith to defend yourself either.

Most of us here want to be the best that we can be so that we can handle as many threatening situations as possible. That is a worthy goal that I am certainly pursuing. But assuming you need that level of devotion may turn away many people considering whether or not to take on more responsibility for defending themselves and their families. Some folks just are not able to devote such a significant portion of their time to this lifestyle. But I think those people can still benefit from being responsibly armed citizens.

Vigilantly practicing the 4 safety rules, responsibly storing and carrying their firearm, and gaining a reasonable level of competence with shooting and maintaining their firearm is a pretty good foundation for many folks. Hopefully they will choose to build their skills from there but even at that level they are far more capable than most I would think.


There are two things a person should do before getting a gun.

  1. Take a gun safety class.
  2. Go to a range and rent different guns.

If they are lucky they should at least go out with a knowledgeable friend or neighbor who can let them try some different guns in a safe range or outdoor setting. I have taken a few new folks out lately. I always recommend they look for a good introductory class taught by a well regarded teacher if they hadn’t taken one already.


What I outlined was a long term training goal. A novice shouldn’t go out and buy a gun and hit the range a few times and think they are good to go. In a self defense situation they will be under stress, have tunnel vision, shortness of breath, high heart rate, and loss of fine motor skills. The only way to overcome these is training and muscle memory. Basically responding without the need to think about it. Just automatically seeking cover, checking downrange beyond the target, focusing on center mass, and so on. You can’t learn that with a couple trips to the range. It’s fine to go to the range and learn to shoot accurately but that bears no resemblance to what it will be like in an actual live or die situation. So, like I said, I laid out a very basic long term training goal. I’ve spent my life training as a retired military vet and a retired law enforcement. I just don’t want someone to buy a gun, hit the range a few time and go out in public armed feeling confident they can handle whatever comes up. They can’t. They will either freeze up, run, or worst of all, pull their gun and not hit the target but someone behind the target. I’ve seen it and delt with it.


I agree with pretty much everything you are saying. My point is that when you throw the whole big picture at inexperienced folks it is easy for them to become overwhelmed thinking they can never get to that point. I fear that may lead many people to not start down this path in the first place and others that have started may just put the gun in the safe thinking they’ll never be able to reach that level of ability.

There are lots of stories of inexperienced people freezing or harming themselves or others. But there are also many stories of people with little or no training and experience successfully defending themselves with a firearm. No one starts out as an expert. Many people will never be experts. But with a little learning and practice most people can achieve some useful level of competence.

My wife has no interest in learning how to maintain a gun or take advanced tactical classes. But I occasionally get her out to the range for some drills that she just thinks are fun and games. She can safely handle a firearm, shoots better than most, and is a lot less defenseless than most people despite her lack of training.


We should stay focused on the OP, the question is about a self defense tool, not about a recreational device. Many of us have owned handguns for far longer than we have been carrying them. Purchasing, using, learning about them for recreational purposes like target shooting, competition, hunting or collecting is not the question. I didn’t start carrying until I realized I couldn’t rely on physically fighting off one or more attackers to defend my family when out in the world.