Gun Use and the Law
Crime has increased and you have bought a gun. There is still the rule of law and home insurance will cover the losses from theft. A criminal has broken into your house while you are at home. Hopefully he intends to just steal. Will you engage the criminal to stop the theft at the risk of firing your gun or will you fall back with your gun to a defensible location and call the police? Considering the legal and psychological effects of shooting a person I have decided that my gun will be used only to protect my family not my property. However, a discharge of a weapon even in self defense can still result in arrest if not done in strict accordance with the law. Uninformed use of a gun can put one in serious legal jeopardy.
See the link for the legal problems that can arise from a self defense shooting and the ways to protect yourself from the legal system.
Assuming a rule of law situation have you thought about the circumstances under which you will pull the trigger and are you aware of the legal minefield that you will be stepping into?
Taking a life, any life, is a grave responsibility. I believe most deer hunters will tell you that it is no trivial decision to pull the trigger and kill an animal, even for food. Taking a human life is a much more serious matter and should only be contemplated when there is absolutely no alternative.
I believe that firearms are a legitimate tool for defending one's home against intruders. Indeed a firearm may be the only tool which will be effective against home invaders. But that doesn't mean it must be fired to work. In his book, More Guns Less Crime, John Lott cites statistics showing that most would-be criminals flee at the sight of a gun.
However, the basic rule is to never point a gun at anything you are not prepared to destroy and that includes the armed villain who just broke into your house. However, actually firing the gun must be an act of last resort when you are convinced that firing is the only means to prevent actual physical harm to yourself or another.
And its not just because killing someone is a serious matter. Pulling the trigger will bring down upon you a ferocious legal shit-storm of unbelievable magnitude and your life will never be the same again. No matter how justified or righteous the shooting, you may be subject to extreme abuse at the hands of police and the legal system, up to and including charges of homicide.
So should you own a gun? Absolutely! Just get some training in its use and be fully aware of the responsibility and risk you are taking on.