Thinking about this, I was reminded of an anecdote I’d heard long ago: a sheriff asked his deputies “why do we carry handguns?”. One deputy replied, “to protect the citizens”. Another replied, “to defend ourselves”. Yet another answered, “to stop a violent criminal”. The sheriff told them, “you’re all wrong. We carry handguns because we don’t expect trouble. A handgun is a terrible choice for a fight. It is less accurate or powerful than a rifle. It has less effective range than either a rifle or shotgun. It is more difficult to control than a long gun, particularly under stress. If we knew we were going into a fight, we will take a rifle or shotgun because we want the best weapon that will give us the advantage. The handgun is for any other situation that we did not foresee or had time to prepare for.”
We carry handguns because we don’t expect trouble. A handgun is a terrible choice for a fight.
So is having a handgun wise?
Well, if you knew you were going to need a gun somewhere — the wiser choice would be to not go there. We carry handguns because we might need a gun. We aren’t looking for trouble but as mature adults we understand that once in a while bad things happen to good people. And criminals don’t politely make appointments in advance. We can’t easily take a shotgun or rifle with us as we peacefully go about our daily business. And some cramped places (like the inside of a vehicle or small room or narrow hallway) are places where a long gun would be at a disadvantage. Handguns are convenient and easy to carry. And in an unforeseen emergency, they may be the best we can do.
So yes. Having a handgun is much wiser than having nothing. Buy a handgun that you will actually carry and have at the ready. Do not choose a gun that you will be tempted to leave behind because it was uncomfortable or inconvenient to carry. The best firearm your money can buy will do you no good at all if it is still locked away at home when you are anywhere else.
—by William Loving, Gun Nerd, Educator of Noobs, Sharp Object Enthusiast