In the past year, I went from thinking I would never need a gun to owning more than one firearm. And I am not alone; 5 million Americans are first-time gun owners in 2020.
Sales began to spike in March when the pandemic hit. NSSF reports that protests, calls for defunding the police, and threats of forcible gun confiscation also contributed to record-breaking sales.
I never thought I needed a gun. Growing up in rural Iowa, I was never in a situation where I feared for my life. We left our cars unlocked in the town square. I left my computer at the table in a coffee shop while I went to the bathroom. Though I was smart with my safety, I took no significant precautions for a night out. The need for self-defense never crossed my mind.
Guns scared me. Not because of how they are portrayed in the news or the increase in mass shootings, but because they are powerful machines, and I was afraid I would hurt myself. What if I mishandle it? What if I hurt someone else? What if it accidentally went off?
I think part of that fear came from the movies. As soon as a character pulls out a gun, the dramatic music plays, and something terrible happens. Action movies show that guns cause lots of damage; seeing blood and gore on the big screen let me know how powerful and destructive a firearm can be, especially in the wrong hands.
I didn’t know or see the positive side of the gun.
The last reason I didn’t think I needed a gun was that I was prideful and naive. I thought since I’m 5 foot 10 inches and 180 pounds, about the size of the average college football player (give or take position or division), no one would try to mess with me. Being above average, I thought no attacker would take on that kind of challenge; they would go for the smaller, easier target.
Again, I was just naive. Just because I’m above average in size does not mean I will be stronger than my attacker. It doesn’t mean I’m automatically going to know what to do if something happens.