Is “Some Gun” Always “Better Than No Gun?”

Whenever people start justifying their equipment selection for everyday carry, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “some gun is better than no gun”. Alternatively, you’ll hear “Rule 1” invoked. Not Cooper’s “Rule 1” mind you, but the first of the apocryphal “Rules of Gunfighting”: Carry a gun.

As with many quips and tropes it’s rooted in truth, but it’s become so overused as to dilute its original meaning.

Yes, it’s true you can’t get into a gunfight if you don’t have a gun. The best you can manage is to be on the receiving end of a shooting, which we can all agree is less than ideal.

The track record of Rangemaster alumni supports this idea. Tom Givens’ students that were involved in defensive encounters have never lost; there have unfortunately been several “forfeits” where the victim was unarmed at the time of their assault.

All of this certainly seems to reinforce the idea that some gun is better than no gun, doesn’t it? And yet, personally, I’m not a fan of the expression, and I think there are decidedly instances where no gun is better than some gun.

Now before you start breaking out the torches and pitchforks, let me explain what I mean.

The thought, expressed on its own without any explanation or context, can be highly detrimental to those folks new to a defensive-oriented lifestyle. It’s not a big leap from “some gun is better than no gun” to the talismanic thinking that the gun is the be-all, end-all solution. Once they’ve got the gun, then they’re suddenly protected.

Especially for novices who are still learning all the facets of victim selection, situational awareness, and so on, it can give a false sense of accomplishment, having the gun.

Let me use this analogy: Most drivers will be more cautious in heavy rain or icy conditions, expressly because they understand that they are at greater risk of crashing or losing control than on a dry sunny day. If someone thinks that the presence of a firearm somehow reduces their risk of violent assault, then they may not be as diligent with all the pre-assault variables.

I’ve said in the past that I think a lot of folks would be far better off with a can of OC (pepper spray) and a copy of Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear, than a concealed carry pistol that they think is the magic wand that wards off evil. If they recognize that they’re less equipped, it’ll force them to pay more attention and exercise more caution.

Now don’t misconstrue this. I’m not suggesting that anyone be prohibited or discouraged from carrying a firearm if they so choose. Just that we need to be careful in the language we use to ensure that we’re setting the correct expectations, especially with the influx of new gun owners and gun carriers that aren’t already familiar with all the things we take for granted as obvious and par for the course.

The Suited Shootist
Alex Sansone took his first formal pistol class in 2009, and has since accumulated almost 500 total hours of open enrollment training from many of the nation's top instructors including Massad Ayoob, Craig Douglas, Tom Givens, Gabe White, Cecil Burch, Chuck Haggard, Darryl Bolke, and many others. Spending his professional life in the corporate world, Alex quickly realized incongruities between "best practices" in the defensive world, and the practical realities of his professional and social limitations. "I've never carried a gun professionally. I'm just a yuppie suburbanite that happens to live an armed lifestyle. Having worked in the corporate arena for the last decade, I've discovered that a lot of the "requirements" and norms of gun carriers at large aren't necessarily compatible with that professional environment. I also have a pretty diverse social background, having grown up in the Northeast, and there are many people in my life that are either gun-agnostic or uncomfortable with the idea of private gun ownership. This has afforded me not only insights into how we are perceived by different subcultures, but how to manage and interact with people that may not share your point of view without coming across as combative or antisocial. This is why my focus is the overlooked social aspects of the armed lifestyle."