A question for gun owners. (re usage of weapon)

As the majority of Dopers seem to be based in the USA, it’s no surprise to notice there are a lot of gun-owners on the board, and I was wondering how many of them have actually had occasion to fire their weapon at another person? Can anyone provide a figure for the likelihood of a civilian having to do so, in an average lifetime, or provide a link to where my question has been raised before?

Even on thehighroad.org (one of the biggest and certainly the most intelligent gun forums online) there is next to nobody who, in a civilian context outside of law-enforcement, has ever shot someone else. It is exceptionally uncommon. I can recall maybe one or two people in all my reading of THR’s forums who have ever shot someone outside of combat.

The kind of people who shoot other people tend to be criminals killing each other, not the type of folks who are actively part of the “gun culture.”

Ivan astikov, if I may hijack your thread a bit (assuming Argent Towers gave a definitive answer) how many of the people active on such messageboards have ever shot an animal with their firearms?

The majority of them, probably, but what has that got to do with anything?

And how many of these gun owners who have not shot someone carry their guns with them “at all times”? Or do they own guns just for range practice, home protection, sport, show, etc?

If I had to guess I would say the majority of them do carry all the time.

And yet still you say hardly anyone outside of law enforcement or the military, ever gets to fire them at another person? So essentially, you carry them “Just in case!”, even though the “Just in case!” rarely, if ever, arises?

The vast majority of police officers in this country have never shot a person either.

What the hell is this? This seems like some kind of loaded question and from the OP’s tone I gather that he’s trying to start some kind of debate - well, this is the wrong place for it.

Is this a lottery ticket kinda thing, where the potential payout is so much that it is ok living with the odds? That if the need ever arises to use the gun, the difference it will make is so much that it makes it ok to carry it for nothing an entire life?

I think it is a fair question and that you have been doing a great job of answering it factually and without making it a debate.

It depends. That’s part of it. Most people who carry will say that it’s for that reason. Some of them are being completely honest. Others carry because it gives them a feeling of power. Others are interested in the technology of handguns and simply get attached to the pistol as an object, and like to have it with them everywhere they go. (I personally think that a carry pistol should be something common and readily replaceable just like a home defense shotgun should be a very common model like a Remington 870 - if you ever are forced into the situation of actually having to shoot someone, you might never get your gun back. It might sit in an evidence room forever, even if you’re not convicted of anything. So don’t take a valuable or sentimental piece and use that as a defense weapon. That’s my outlook on it.)

A common analogy that a lot of people use is, “you’re probably never going to need to use a fire extinguisher, but you’d be foolish not to have one anyway.” This doesn’t really satisfy the anti-gun crowd because, of course, you can’t use a fire extinguisher to kill someone (even though you could conceivably beat them to death with it, it’s unlikely.) But that’s a change-the-subject nonargument. The point is, it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it, and that adage is especially important when your life is potentially at stake.

And if I was asking about them, that would be a relevant point. But seeing as you mention it, what percentage of police officers have actually fired their gun at another person? I’m sure this figure must be recorded somewhere.

An acceptable point, but that analogy is usually used with a coat or a condom where I live, and not something that can potentially take another persons life. Would I be within my rights to say “Better I carry a machete and never need it, etc”, then?

Fine, if you want to carry a huge-ass blade around, sure, go ahead. That analogy doesn’t really make sense. The whole point of a concealed weapon is that it’s concealed. Putting aside the assholes who take out their carry guns to show off to people in public, you’re never supposed to know whether someone has a gun or not. That’s the idea behind it. It’s not like a machete.

If you cannot see the relevance, then you are being intentionally obtuse. If no officers carried weapons, criminals would be more likely to use guns against them. The fact that officers carry weapons discourages criminals from using weapons against them. You cannot measure the effectiveness of an armed police force at preventing violent crime against police officers merely by counting how many cops have shot criminals.

Similarly, the fact that citizens do carry, discourages some gun crime. Surveys have shown that many criminals admit they’ve opted against specific crimes for fear that their intended victim was armed.

Citizens carrying weapons has more of an effect on overall crime than just specific crimes against a specific citizen. Just like one red light camera at one intersection will discourage people from running red lights all over the city.
So you can’t just measure their effectiveness by polling the gun carrying community and seeing how many needed to use their pistol. It doesn’t work like that. Citizens carrying weapons may have prevented some noncarrying citizen from being attacked simply because the criminal thought that person might be armed.

What’s the “idea” behind it? Carrying a concealed weapon makes you less likely to be attacked? I could say my visible machete would make me far less likely to be attacked, than your unseen gun.

Bear Nanno, check my OP for my specific question, and then tell me where the relevance of law enforcement officials comes in.*

  • Except in their recording of instances.

Not to nit-pick, but an average of 1-2 people die each year from using a fire extinguisher, primarily due to somehow sucking a large quantity of propellant or dousing material. Used to be a lot higher back when they used tetra-something or other, a chemical that turned extremely poisonous when exposed to heat. (Well, engineers aren’t always the most thorough…)

As for the number of US gun owners that carry a sidearm with them at all times, I’d say it’s a very small minority, but depends on the region. It’s higher in Texarkana, larger cities, and so on, but most people simply don’t see a need to remain armed 24/7. Most would probably move away from an area that worried them to that degree, but not everyone can afford to live in a safer area, and as with the Texarkana areas, it’s more a heritage issue than a necessity. Of course, Bear’s point that you don’t know who is, and who isn’t armed, is an important part of the equation.

For myself, only when it’s part of the job, or when I’m otherwise forced to be in a place I wouldn’t go on my own. Newark, for instance. :wink:

The idea is to discreetly carry a handgun, in case you might need to use it, and that nobody needs to know about it except you, but this knowledge will give you the confidence to walk in a dangerous area without being afraid. In states where a lot of people have concealed handguns, criminals know that an average person they might try to take advantage of might be armed (much more likely than in, say, California.)