I receive this question frequently when discussing CCW with new people, and it throws me every time. It comes from so far outside of my everyday thinking that I can’t come up with a spontaneous explanation that bridges the gap. However, the next time someone asks, I will have this answer ready:
No, I’m not paranoid. Violent crime really exists.
According to FBI crime statistics, in 2010 there were 1,246,248 violent crimes reported* in the United States. That’s once every 13 seconds. There were 2,159,878 home invasions reported. That’s once every 7 seconds. Violence doesn’t just happen on the TV news and in movies. It’s real. It is happening all around us, everywhere, all the time. We are all in danger. Is it going to happen to us tomorrow or this week? Probably not. However, the conclusion to be drawn from the statistics is that most of us will be confronted with a criminally violent situation at least once in our lives.
Perhaps my answer to this question should be, “Are you oblivious?” We’ve all heard numbers like this before. We see murders on the television. Everyone knows, at some level, that we live in a violent world. Yet so many people have not accepted this as reality. As children, we are completely naive to the evils of the world. As we grow up, we begin to see the world as it really is, one dirty fact at a time. One of those facts is that violence will probably happen to us. However, not everyone experiences all of these sad realizations. There are millions of Americans who haven’t grasped this simple truth — and those people think it is silly to prepare against violence.
I find this attitude particularly astonishing when it comes from people who live in areas with high crime rates, as many of my friends do. If you live in the City of St. Louis, there is an almost one in twenty chance that your home will be burglarized this year. If you live there long enough, it will happen. Someone will be in your home. You or your family may be there at the time. The invader will be alert and ready, probably prepared to commit violence, and possibly armed. You will be surprised, taken off guard, and possibly asleep. The chances of being a victim of assault, robbery, rape, or murder in St. Louis this year are close to one in fifty.
This is the world we live in. If I carry a gun, does that really make me paranoid? From my point of view, if you don’t carry a gun, you have chosen to eventually become a victim.
(* It should be obvious that many violent crimes go unreported. For example, among several friends I know who have been raped, only one of those incidents was reported to police.)