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Show Me Your Guns

I get asked - not infrequently - whether I carry gun(s) with me on my numerous outdoor adventures. So without further ado, here is what might be my most controversial post ever. You've been warned.

First a few ground rules:

  1. I want to try to stay non-political. I recognize that this is a highly politicized topic in society today, but I'm not approaching it from that perspective.
  2. These are my current opinions. I reserve the right to change them at any time and I may or may not update the post.
  3. I'm totally fine with anyone else having the same or different opinions to me - that's the great thing about our country: we don't all have to agree. I do wish is that our society was more OK with being accepting of disagreement, instead of the polarized hatred of those who disagree, which seems so prevalent today (and is amplified by media, social media algorithms, and politicians on both sides).
  4. For a lot of the trips I go on, I'm not alone - there are other adventurers with me, so I'll answer just for myself. I know for a fact that these are not the answers some of them would give, and are similar to what some would say. Anyone - that I travel with or not - can chime in below with their (respectful) opinion.

OK, so now let's get to the question: Do you carry guns on your trips?

I've got these two guns right here with me all the time buddy.

Seriously though, I don't carry any firearms on trips. I am not opposed to guns as a rule (I like shooting them very much - I think it's great fun), but I am also cognizant of the fact that:

  • Guns for protection from wildlife are generally unnecessary for the trips I go on, for several reasons:
    • Wildlife is generally more scared of humans.
    • I'm generally around the truck or camp, where wildlife is more likely to keep its distance anyway.
    • I'm more likely to be "attacked" by a snake when I step in the wrong place or reach my hand up while climbing, or by falling off a high cliff, than I am to be attacked by a large animal.
    • I am alert/cognizant of my surroundings when hiking/walking. These things help with wildlife awareness, but also are just good for general safety (like snakes and high cliffs).
    • If there's some crazy bear charging me because I've been stupid and am not paying attention:
      • I've probably done something else seriously wrong that I shouldn't have.
      • Having the wherewithal to calmly draw and fire the gun in a way that actually protects me is - I would say - a 50-50 chance anyway. (I can only imagine the adrenaline in that situation.)
    • If there's some crazy bear or mountain lion attacking @mrs.turbodb or @mini.turbodb, I'm unlikely to want to fire at that bear anyway, for obvious reasons.
  • Having guns around poses a safety risk for everyone else on the trip. (Note: the size of that risk is, I understand, debatable.)
  • Having guns for protection from other humans is not a good idea in my experience, for several reasons:
    • It implies that you are ready to escalate to the level that guns are required, rather than de-escalating or walking away.
    • It implies that you are ready to take another human life and live with that for the rest of your life.
    • It implies that you have the gun with you, loaded, and easily accessible at all times, since another human may approach even while you are in your vehicle. (vs. for wildlife protection, where you could simply load/carry while hiking, etc.)
  • I'd rather spend my time on trips
    • Not worrying about a gun at all (not just with me, but even more so for the safety of others).
    • Chatting around the campfire, rather than shooting a gun (and picking up all the trash as a result - I pick up enough brass from other people already).
    • Shooting (pun intended, sorry, I know that's a bad one) photos. (Here's my post on that.)

Anyway, I've grown up camping my whole (not short, lol) life, and I've been around plenty of bears, seen plenty of mountain lions, and I've never needed a gun. Notably of course, I'm not out looking for/hunting them, or creeping quietly through the underbrush in a way I might flush them out - if that were the case, I'd likely have different gun behavior.

Much of my family lives in what is essentially the edge of wilderness, and while guns are owned and understood to be a useful tool, I don't believe any of them have carried guns on-person when out hiking around/camping/etc. If they have, it wasn't on the thousand+ hikes/nights camping/etc. I was on...so it's unlikely that they have done it at other times. So, personal experience reinforces my current behavior.

So, really, it's about trade-offs. I mean, all decisions in life are about trade-offs . In this case, it's a safety trade off. IMO, I am reasonably safe when I'm out "in the woods" - probably safer than I was when I was walking some of the city streets I frequented when I was growing up, where I was subjected to gun violence several times and lost two friends to it a block from school. And, since I want my trip entertainment to come from things other than guns... no gun necessary.

Well, except for these two bad boys. 

 

While You're Here, Check Out Some Trip Reports!

 

 

12 Comments

  1. John Moore
    John Moore April 27, 2020

    Well said. I agree on your stance. Mine is the opposite, but that is just opinion.

    • turbodb
      turbodb April 27, 2020

      Thanks John. I'd love to hear more about your stance, if you're willing to share!

  2. AJ
    AJ April 27, 2020

    Sorry in advance for the cliche, but like most of the gear we carry, better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. I completely respect your opinion though.

    Also, this is my first comment here. I love reading your trip reports and your photos are amazing!

    • turbodb
      turbodb April 27, 2020

      Totally cool AJ - thanks for posting up. I do know that - especially in the 'outdoor adventurer' group, I may be in a minority. Glad you found the site and are enjoying the trip reports - lots more coming in the future, hopefully!

  3. Dan
    Dan April 27, 2020

    I agree with everything said except the gun escalating part. I carry have my CCW and a never without I do go out in the wilderness and camping I have come across Mountain lions and even seen a few bears. I have never felt the need to escalate to the point of killing that animal. I am also not one of those people that waves my gun around and is like hey look at me. I have been trained very well and in no way does this endanger those around me or those camping with me. Just my thought on this

    • turbodb
      turbodb April 27, 2020

      I think this is a great point to make - thanks for raising it. I didn't mean to imply that carrying a gun necessarily means that you WILL escalate. But it does mean that you have to be ready to at SOME POINT. And, that point may be different for different people. Sounds like it's in a good place in your case, which I applaud.

  4. Yaniv
    Yaniv April 27, 2020

    Humans are for sure more dangerous than wildlife
    My considerations of whether to carry or not would be only about the human factor.

    In any case, I'm not in the US so it's totally different here 🙂

    • turbodb
      turbodb April 28, 2020

      Thanks Yaniv - location is a good consideration as well. I'm sure there are places where, if I was exploring there, I'd be much more likely to want to carry a gun. Hope you're enjoying the posts, and thanks again for the insight!

  5. MH
    MH April 28, 2020

    I truly enjoy these posts and have to say am completely peanut butter and jealous of the amount free time you enjoy to go out adventuring!
    That is a fantastic question and good points made all around. I agree with AJ...like a jack...better to have it and not need it etc... Have we learned nothing from BlackHawk Down? Always take your NVDs!!! 🙂
    I live on the WA side of the Columbia River Gorge (about 45 minutes east of the mystical planet of Portlandia on the Oregon/Washington border) where we have several threats in them thar hills 1) Cats...big ones... even in my front yard 2) bear...though ive only seen tracks (thank God) and 3) drug users...Though Ive only seen (and smelled) their trash, stripped wire and extinguished campfires. I wont go run or hike without some sort of weapon. Outside of that.... I avoid going to Portland like I avoid licking escalator hand rails at the airport but if I do go, its a very conscious and deliberate decision...and like a surgical strike. In and out....and I wont go without carrying (a 9 AND a $1M concealed carry insurance policy) . Ill always err on walking away and handing over the wallet in lieu of getting shanked but at the end of the day
    I have a family to go home to and it's truly a shame but there are too many people out there going off their meds and out of their minds these days...and you can find them everywhere...even in what you think is the middle of nowhere.

    Stay safe and God Bless, MH

    • turbodb
      turbodb April 28, 2020

      OK, first of all - I've never heard "peanut butter and jealous" - and I LOVE IT! Gonna be in my repertoire now ;).

      As for the points about carrying - thank you very much for sharing that perspective, even if it's not mine, I do understand where you're coming from and I know I've got a similar perspective about other tools (which, at the end of the day is what we're talking about here). Someone else mentioned to me that one of the things that comes with good gun training is the knowledge - as you mentioned - that the best option is to walk away (rather than feel like you should engage b/c the gun will back you up) - so I appreciate the reinforcement of that from your story.

      Glad you're enjoying the stories and posts - keep on coming back for more (and sign up here if you haven't already - Don’t miss the next adventure!)

  6. Brian Franke
    Brian Franke May 18, 2020

    Great write up. I carry daily and so does my wife. I apologize for all the idiots leaving brass that you’ve had to pick up. I believe in practicing this skill at home or in a controlled range setting, not on public land. I absolutely respect your position and support you. Thank you for sharing it in a respectful manner. The world needs more of your example here. If you ever change your mind and want some private instruction, feel free to reach out to me. Safe travels. 🤘🏻

    • turbodb
      turbodb May 18, 2020

      Thanks for weighing in Brian. Can't agree with you more on having open respectful conversations about this kind of thing. The more we can have these types of discussions without all getting angry at each other, the better world we're creating. 👍 on picking up brass too - on the one hand, I understand the freedom of shooting where there's more open space; on the other, it seems like picking up after oneself is just part of respecting nature! (and no need to apologize for others, you can't control them!)

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