A friend recently asked me why I own “so many” guns. (This friend is a gun owner himself – although he owns only a couple of guns and hasn’t fired one in years.) So, I took a few minutes to explain to that friend why I own over a dozen guns. Although I’ve already addressed why people own multiple guns in the abstract, I’ve decided to post the specific examples that I gave to that friend, in the hope that such examples may help inform other people as well:
Different guns serve different purposes
Guns are designed for specific purposes. The single-shot break-open shotgun I use for trapshooting would be a terrible choice for a self defense guns. Similarly, my self defense pump-action shotgun would be inadequate for trapshooting. My .22 target rifle is not suitable for hunting deer, and a deer hunting rifle is not permitted at .22 target rifle competitions. My concealed carry handgun is not one I would use for a long-range pistol competition, and a target pistol is not something I would want to rely upon for self defense.
Analogizing to vehicles, a dump truck, a motorcycle, a passenger car, and a pickup truck all fill different needs. If a person has a need to haul tons of gravel, a passenger car isn’t going to cut it. Similarly, when going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, a dump truck isn’t likely the right vehicle for the evening. During a snowstorm, few people would opt for a motorcycle.
The analogy also works with golf clubs. When teeing off, a driver, rather than a putter, is the right choice. When stuck in a bunker, few golfers will reach for a fairway wood. On the green, a sand wedge is not really the proper choice.
Similarly, when it comes to cameras, one size does not fit all. A cheap point and shoot camera might be the right choice for photographing a day at the zoo, while an expensive digital SLR could be a better choice for a professional photo shoot. When photographing under water, a camera with a waterproof housing and buttons adapted for use by a diver’s gloved fingers may be necessary. If the camera is a gift for a small child, then perhaps a more durable camera with fewer fewer features is called for.
While I could go on and on with more analogies, the point should be clear: different tasks require different tools. Even when it is possible to get by with a “one size fits all” tool, the result is often sub-standard. In the case of vehicles, it is often the case that a person can’t afford to buy the half-dozen or so vehicles (e.g. a hybrid for summertime city driving, a pickup truck for towing, a large SUV/van for family outings, a 4wd car for commuting in the snow, etc.) that would be ideal. The result is that many people drive their large 4WD SUV in the summer, even on days when they could get by with a much more fuel efficient car – if they owned such a second car. However, in the case of guns, many gun owners can afford to have a shotgun that is ideal for trapshooting, another that is ideal for duck hunting, another that is idea for home defense, etc.
Another reason that I own multiple guns is redundancy. While I go to great lengths to maintain my guns, mechanical failures are a real possibility. I’ve had a trapshooting shotgun experience a failure of its gas piston system, and had I not had another shotgun, I would have missed a couple weeks of trapshooting. In the case of home defense guns, a mechanical failure that renders the house gunless could have more dire consequences, should a criminal choose to break in while the only gun is at the gunsmith’s shop. Worse yet, when a gun is used in self defense, the police will often confiscate it as evidence. While the gun will likely be returned at some point in the future, if the citizen has only one gun, then they will be defenseless until the gun is returned or they acquire a new one. Given the gun waiting periods that are often imposed on law abiding citizens, it is prudent to have more than one self defense gun.
Guns are also collectible items. Some gun owners collect guns of historic significance. For example, I know a gentleman who has examples of many of the small arms issued to US, Canadian and British infantry for the last couple of centuries. Indeed, this gentleman owns more 1911‘s from the WWII period than all the guns I own put together and doubled. Other gun owners (myself included) like to collect guns that vary based upon their mode of operation. For example, I enjoy owning and firing guns are blowback, short recoil, gas piston, direct impingement, pump action, and break open operated. I appreciate the mechanical differences between those modes of operation, and even within a given mode (e.g. gas piston operated) the different ways that each manufacturer designs their particular system. Still other gun owners have their particular collecting goals. Just as enthusiasts of stamps, coins, and just about everything else enjoy having many items, so do gun owners.
The bigger point – no justification of gun ownership is needed
However, the real point is that a gun owner need not justify their decision to own gun(s). Gun ownership is a constitutional rights, and like other constitutional rights, its exercise need not be justified. A person need not explain their religious beliefs, or their decision to seek an attorney’s advice. Nor must a person justify why they don’t wish to have the police search their home without a warrant, or why they hold a particular political belief. The same hold true for gun rights – whether a person owns one gun or many guns.