A while back, I was discussing gun rights with a friend, when the issue of paranoia versus reasonable concerns came up. This friend suggested that gun ownership for home defense was not needed, due to the relatively low risk of a home invasion, and that therefore only a paranoid person would feel the need to own a gun. Politicians have also made similar remarks. I, of course, disagree, and believe that gun ownership is a wise and prudent choice:
Types of risks
We all face a variety of risks, each and every moment of our lives. Some of these risks carry large consequences (such as death), while other risks carry trivial consequences (such as the loss of $1). Some risks are more likely to occur (such as car collisions) while others are less likely to occur (such as injury from falling meteorites).
Balancing risks and mitigation costs
Were we to try and mitigate all the risks in life, we would end up spending every waking moment and all of our time/money/energy trying to avoid bad things, leaving us with no time/money/energy to be productive or enjoy life. That means that we can’t guard against every risk, but must instead guard against those risks that carry the highest consequences, are most likely, and are most easily prevented. Thus, if a risk is likely to occur, has high consequences, or is easily mitigated, a prudent person would act to reduce that risk. For example, I wear a seatbelt because car accidents happen rather frequently, the consequences can include death or serious bodily harm, and bucking my seatbelt costs nothing and only takes a second of my time. However I don’t live in an underground bunker to avoid the risk of falling meteorites, due to the exceedingly low risk, and the extremely high costs of avoiding the risk that a meteorite might strike me.
Applied to gun ownership for self/home defense
Although home invasions happen every day, the odds of a particular citizen facing a home invasion on a given day are rather low. However the consequence of a home invasion can be dire, and the risk of such harm is easily reduced through home security and gun ownership (such as a $300 shotgun). Balancing the risks, consequences, and costs of mitigation, I see gun ownership as a wise and reasonable choice.
Note: To those that would suggest gun ownership is dangerous, or that people are more likely to harm themselves than an intruder, please see the following articles to debunk those myths: Gun Control Myths and Facts, Individuals vs. Statistics, Every 13 seconds an American Uses a Gun in Self Defense, and There is No Such Thing as an Accidental Shooting.