OK, now that I've set up the idea that this topic is remaining "civil" for a long time, I must take to task one of the statements in the originating post (and also commend the original poster for a well-written and much-needed thread).

Quote:
CBTENGR said:
(statistics show that if you present a firearm and show weakness in using it, even in a life-threatening situation, it is more likely to be used against you)


As a long-time poster on boards like this (and this board in particular) I must insist that all claims of fact based on 3rd party evidence must include a citation to the original work to substantiate the assertion. This is the original purpose of the World Wide Web - to create a mesh of cross-citations of works in order to allow those with knowledge and opinion to share, as widely as possible, their body of work.

Further, in the event of a quotation of statistics, the only acceptable studies must have a mathematical vigor applied to them in order to establish the veracity of the interpretation. When a statistic uses a subjective term like "shows weakness" I am wary of drawing any conclusions from that report, as there is little or no means of assigning an objective standard to "shows weakness". Similarly, "more likely" - as in "more likely to be used against you" is a comparative statement that is set off against a subjective statement, and "more likely" does not give me a full picture of the situation.
If we can accept that there is a way to measure "shows weakness" objectively, so that any observer would say that in a given situation, someone is "showing weakness", then we need to assign a value to "more likely" - and the problem is that "more" is a specific term that does not mean "always".

For example, if I buy a cup of coffee on the way to work, I am "more likely" to spill it on my nice clean work shirt before I get to the office. However, that does not mean I WILL spill coffee on my shirt, or that I always spill coffee on my shirt, it just means that once the variable of "coffee" is introduced into my vehicle, there is a possibility that I will spill it on my shirt. No coffee, no spill. However in this argument, the presence of coffee is objective and binary - I have it (and risk spills) or I don't.

In the case of the "use the gun against you" argument, in fact that is true is that if you don't have a gun, it can't be used against you. That is undeniable. The "shows weakness" element is specious and detracts from the central argument of the author, which is that possession of a firearm on your person introduces a certain risk factor, that of your own gun being turned against you, a risk that can be limited to a large extent through preparation in the form of constant training in the use of a firearm in a defensive situation.

However, there is a real, knowable risk in carrying any weapon, and the question is really if your risk profile and likely need for a defensive weapon is high enough that it offsets the risk of your defensive weapon being used against you in a situation you can't control. Basically, the increased risk of carrying a weapon needs to be less than the risk you realistically face in a given situation. Think of it this way - the increased risk of driving a car can be reduced - but not eliminated - by wearing a seatbelt - but there's still a risk of being killed in a car wreck, a risk that is not there if you don't drive at all. The risk of being killed in a car wreck can be totally eliminated! But of course, hardly anyone in the mainstream is proposing a 100% carless society. The risk/reward benefit calculation puts millions and millions of us in a car every day, but also kills 44,000 of us a year in car wrecks. We deem this an acceptable risk/reward ratio.

And there is the crux of the matter - while risk assessment is a well-established science, the reality is that human beings are very poor at assessing real risk . We see significant risks where there are minimal ones (brain-eating amoebas!) , and we ignore real risks when they require to "radical" a change to our behavior (exercise a few days a week, lay off the crap food). Even our assessment of risky places and actions is not accurate.

I know there are plenty of people reading this who would rather eat a live bat whole than to regularly commute to Manhattan (where I work), because they perceive New York as a "High Risk" place (it isn't - Gary, Indiana is a "high risk" place, New York is the 4th Safest City in the USA. .

Let me give you some real risk factors:

Here are the 15 leading causes of death in the USA (2004 Data)

Diseases of heart (heart disease);
Malignant neoplasms (cancer);
Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke);
Chronic lower respiratory diseases;
Accidents (unintentional injuries);
Diabetes mellitus;
Alzheimerís disease;
Influenza and pneumonia;
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease);
Septicemia (Infections, typically bacterial)
Intentional self-harm (suicide);
Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis;
Essential (primary) hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (hypertension or high blood pressure);
Parkinsonís disease;
Assault (homicide)

Sounds pretty grim when you look at "Assault" being right in there with High Blood Pressure, right?

Now look at the actual data as a chart: (source)


Yow! The largest risks are ones that I control directly, personally, with diet and exercise! What a drag! I can't blame anyone else for my health issues! Any my Glock won't ward off any of them!

So back to the guns.

So, while I do own firearms, I do train with them - not just holes in paper, but really hard defensive pistol & shotgun training that makes me sweat and work and breathe hard, using a real-world gun in a real-world carry condition (like under a tucked-in shirt). Like one of the other posters, I have experienced the 20 foot rule in training, and it was one of the most shocking training events I ever attended - and it really brought into sharp focus what a real defensive stance is all about, and how hard it is to get off a shot while you're looking for cover or concealment and the target is coming at you, and you don't want to shoot anything behind the target. In Law Enforcement there is a training program about an "active shooter" situation and my brother went through it and all I can say is it's the second most scary thing you can do as a cop (# 1 being a car stop alone at night on an empty highway).

So, if you carry, think about it first. Are you a hazard to yourself and others or are you really improving the odds? Are you ready to solve problems are will you become a problem? It's like all other Equipped stuff - all the gear in the world is useless if you can't use it correctly.

Carry on.