As a firearm law attorney, I get asked a lot of questions about guns. Many are predictable technical questions: folks want to know how to get a conceal carry license, where they can carry, how does castle doctrine work, etc. Others are more nuanced: what exactly did the U.S. Supreme Court rule in the Heller decision? But none are more frequently asked by those who do not own guns: why do people need to own guns? Since these come up so often, I wanted to take a moment and using the next insufficient 500 words, try to give a few answers.

Let me start by noting that we do not have the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms, in order to facilitate deer hunting. Our Founders bestowed upon this nation that basic civil right because they viewed the right of self-protection to be as inalienable as free speech and religion –and apparently more so than open judicial process and immunity from cruel and unusual punishment, if the order of the Bill of Rights is to give us a clue into their thought. This must be the starting point of any discussion involving the civil rights we call firearm rights: firearm rights are meant for self-protection.

The next point is to remember that firearms save lives. If you just spat out your coffee, please gather yourself and re-read that sentence. We all watch the evening news and see how thugs abuse firearms to take lives without want or regret. But how many of us witness the estimated 5,500 times each day across America that a firearm is used in self defense?* This need not be a shooting, perhaps only a brandishing or a few terse words to scare off an unwanted street advance or home intrusion.

Not to give away the ending, but the book titled "More Guns, Less Crime" argues from a strictly economist perspective of studying gun control laws and crime statistics to reach the same conclusion that authorities have in other countries already: all too often the fewer firearms that may be legally owned, the more crimes will be committed with guns. As an example, despite decades of increasing disarmament in the United Kingdom, crime with firearms increased by some 196% between 1981 to 1991. In other words, the fewer guns in the hands of legal responsible citizens and the fewer guns in general circulation, the more guns were obtained and used by the violent criminal element.

The bottom line is that someone who has made the conscious decision that they are going to break into another person's home, or rob them on a street, probably does not hold human life in the same high regard that you do. As the expression goes, when seconds count police are just minutes away. That is not an indictment on law enforcement, they cannot be everywhere at once, but is instead a sober reminder that ultimately we are all responsible for our own safety.

As a former prosecutor and now defense attorney, I often also get asked by friends and strangers: how do I protect myself from violent crime. My answer is usually to be aware of your surroundings and have a plan. Owning and carrying a weapon, such as a knife or firearm, is not the right answer for everyone. If you decide you are ready to carry a firearm, or are simply interested in exploring that option further, then get yourself into a quality firearm self-defense class, like those taught by the National Association of Certified Firearm Instructors.

Lastly, I wanted to close by sharing a quote from Thomas Jefferson.

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. ... [I]t gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind ... Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.
--- Thomas Jefferson

*Please contact the author for any citations wanted that were not used for space concerns.
DISCLAIMER: This article is NOT intended to be legal advice. You need to consult with an attorney who can make specific recommendations to fit your circumstance.