Millions of Americans currently keep guns in their homes for hunting or self defense purposes. Many gun owners are outspoken proponents of gun ownership and gun rights, and appreciate the feeling of protection provided by their guns. Although a gun can give a sense of safety in the event of a street attack or home invasion, owning a gun also poses many dangers in and of itself.

Studies consistently show that guns kept inside the home are more likely to be used on a friend or family member than on an intruder or criminal. The gun owner may inadvertently shoot a perceived threat, not realizing that they have been frightened by a family member, friend, or acquaintance. This scenario is often referred to as the “shooting the milkman” situation. A scared gun owner may shoot first, before identifying the person. Tragically, this can lead to the accidental injury or even death of a loved one.

These dangers become compounded when there are children living in the home. Even if parents think the guns are secured, it can be surprising what children, even young ones, can get into. Too many adults take for granted that young children will understand the dangers of a gun. Unfortunately, news stories about kids accidentally killing friends or siblings with a gun they think is a toy show the true danger of guns in a home with children.

If you do keep a gun in the home, whether for hunting or for protection, it is crucial that you follow the appropriate safety precautions. Keep friends, family members, and yourself safe from gun related accidents in the home by storing the guns securely. The guns must not be accessible by anyone except the adults living in the home. Even if the gun is unloaded and the safety is on, never point a gun at anyone for fun, especially if your children are watching. Your finger should never touch the trigger of a firearm unless you plan to fire it at that instant.

Every adult with access to the gun should enroll in a class on proper ownership and use of a firearm. Knowing as much as you can about your gun is the key to safety. All gun owners should know what it feels like to shoot their gun, including the effect of kickback, as well as the safety lock and other essential features.

If you cannot own it responsibly and use it effectively, there is no reason to own a gun. In a self defense situation, many people would be too afraid to actually shoot the attacker. In this instance, it’s actually better not to pull out the gun at all. If you’re not prepared to shoot, it becomes more likely that your attacker will grab your gun away from you. Pulling out a gun is also likely to escalate the situation if you’re confronted by an armed attacker. Waving around a gun is not a sensible way to scare off an intruder in your home.

Although you certainly have the right to keep and bear arms, you should carefully consider the potential consequences of doing so. There are plenty of other options for those who aren’t prepared to deal with the safety issue of having a gun in the home. Stun guns and TASER devices are too examples of non-lethal self defense devices that will take an attacker down quickly, but won’t hurt innocent people.

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