Why would someone choose gun ownership over their own well-being?

Not looking for a debate on the 2nd Amendment here, or even about gun ownership in general. I just want insight into a friend’s decision that I find utterly baffling.

My friend has severe, chronic back pain from a long-ago injury. Surgery didn’t help. She takes a ton of vicodin and just barely manages the pain. We live in Illinois, so she can apply for medical marijuana, and (as a former nurse) she believes it would probably help her a lot.

But she won’t apply for a medical marijuana card, because under federal law it would negate her concealed carry license.

This strikes me as insane. Even if you believe it’s essential to carry a gun at all times for self-protection, what are the odds you’ll ever actually use it? One in 1000 is probably way too high, but let’s go with that. So my friend is basically choosing a 1/1000 scenario over one that will help her feel better every single day.

We have gun owners and gun-rights advocates here. Explain how this mindset makes sense.

She may be mistaken about a couple of things. Concealed carry licenses in Illinois are issued by the state police, not the federal government - are you sure there is a federal law that holders of a medical marijuana card may not hold a concealed carry license? But chronic users of medical opiates can?

And the evidence that marijuana helps more than opiates for chronic pain is not clear-cut.

Perhaps her understanding of the situation is either different from what you describe, or is not accurate.

Or maybe it’s all correct, and she just would rather be able to concealed carry than use marijuana. People weight different options differently.


It’s not just concealed carry-Medical marijuana card holders cannot own guns.

First off:

Although the laws and regulations of Illinois allow a medical cannabis patient to obtain a FOID card, in reality, the Illinois State Police will not approve a gun purchase by any medical cannabis patient due to a federal law forbidding users of a controlled substance from owning a gun.


Second – no, it makes no sense that opioid users can own guns and pot users can’t. Take it up with USAG Sessions.

Third – of course “she just would rather be able to concealed carry than use marijuana.” That’s the whole point of my question. WHY?

Because she weighs the concern about giving up her self-defense strengths greater than the physical pain she’s experiencing, and because she did’t nominate you to make those judgements for her, because you don’t weigh either condition the same way she does.

Would you make the same choice if you were in her situation?

So you speculate that it’s fear then? That the poor woman has made a careful assessment of her risk of being attacked and determined that giving up her gun is sufficiently likely to bring her to harm that it is worth any pain to avoid?

'Cause my uneduacated guess would be that it’s more of a kneejerk, nothing takes my guns sort of thought process, where threats to armament are rejected out of hand. However I wouldn’t say that the “living in terror” explanation is entirely implausible.

That’s just begging the question though. What rational reason is there for self defense to be more important than immediate, immense pain? What are you potentially defending against with any realistic probability of causing worse harm than not taking the marijuana?

My quote function is malfunctioning, so here’s me responding to Bricker:

“Because she weighs the concern about giving up her self-defense strengths greater than the physical pain she’s experiencing …,”

No shit. Can someone explain WHY “self-defense strengths” would outweigh physical well-being, when lethal self-defense is something most people will never in their lives require?

“… and because she did’t nominate you to make those judgements for her, because you don’t weigh either condition the same way she does.”

Again, no shit. She’s told me her thinking, I’ve told her she’s nuts, and we agree to disagree. That doesn’t help me understand her thought process.

And, before you say, “Why don’t you ask her?” – I have. She basically says, “I feel this way because that’s the way I feel.” And let me repeat – I AM NOT DEBATING HER RIGHT TO FEEL THIS WAY. I really just want to understand why she does.

I have a family member who has made the same decision. They do not want to have to give up their firearm rights for a new source of pain relief. They will stick to federally approved prescriptions, rather than end up on a federal watch list.

And they see their self-protection as important to their life as well, and they don’t have a substitute for that like they do for marijuana.

Sessions doesn’t make the laws (any longer). Congress makes the laws, and Sessions job is to enforce them.Bitching to him won’t really help.

The whole idea of states making pot ‘legal’ while it’s illegal at a federal level is about as stupid a thing as I’ve ever heard. It’s right up there with making having and using pot legal (or at least, not a crime), while the production and distribution of pot is illegal. It’s the same as happened during Prohibition, it didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now.

Have you found out whether she wants the gun because of fears of safety, or simply because she wants to own a gun, period?

I can actually see somebody being pissed at the idea people are telling them they can’t own one. (And honestly I’m surprised that this federal law hasn’t been attacked on second amendment grounds.) If somebody told me that I couldn’t own a lego set if I was on medical marijuana, I’d be outraged. I can see that sentiment also being applied to less useful things like guns.

Would the pain be worth owning that Lego set…especially if that Lego set sat unused for years?

Depends on the pain and depends on the lego set. (And to be fair, we don’t know that the woman’s lego set sits unused for years. She might take it and play with her toy on the shooting range and such on a regular basis, as far as we know.)

I’m just thinking that when you’re accustomed to defending the idea of owning your lego set, in a cultural environment where any regulation or restriction of your lego sets is characterized as a life or death ideological struggle, your rejection of restrictions on it could be kneejerk and illogical, rather than a measured comparison of goods and needs satisfied. If you’ve been hearing “You’ll have to pry my lego set from my cold dead hands” for your entire life, then you might think “pain < death” and thus automatically the lego set trumps all.

A gun is the only thing available for self-protection?

This post offers less helpful information and insight that I thought would be possible. In fact, it’s basically restating what the OP told us about his friend’s situation and offers nothing more.

I think it’s a little of both. She’s expressed fears for her safety (which I find hilariously irrational and paranoid, but* I’m not questioning her right to harbor them*), but I think she’s also bought into the whole idea that it’s somehow her patriotic duty to own a gun.

Interestingly, she’s had the pain a lot longer than the gun.

Only is a big word to play with. But, yes, having a firearm is often the last stage in self protection - and is quite affordable as well. When my only housing choice was to live in a less than desirable neighborhood, my shotgun served for self protection. Other options were call the cops (had already done so), move (could not afford it), or hand over my possessions (could not afford replacement).

Others feel the same way - they want that final bit of insurance, and there is not a substitute for it in their price range or in their lifestyle choice.

So the choice to forego the use of medicinal marijuana is a logical, understandable, choice. There are more choices among painkillers at their price point than there are options for self protection.

Yes, I know Sessions doesn’t make the laws. He’s just a convenient symbol of the dying mindset that marijuana must be illegal. But that’s a topic for another thread.

Wait, if you have a medical marijuana card, you can’t even buy a gun for home defense? No type of gun at all?