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:
- 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.
- These are my current opinions. I reserve the right to change them at any time and I may or may not update the post.
- 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).
- 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.
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