This is a very frustrating question to receive when discussing RKBA, not because it’s difficult to answer but because of a single, overwhelming fact:
The people asking the question never really want to know the answer. They have already assumed that there is no justification for the desire (said justification qualifying as “need”).
“If you need 30 rounds to hunt, you suck at hunting,” they’ll say. They don’t care that it’s not about hunting. Or even if it is, some forms of hunting aren’t sport, or even for meat for the table. They’re pest control. There are cases out there where the best means to selectively control the population of certain pest species is through hunting. Traps and poisons can harm species other than the target, species you don’t want to. So sometimes, the most effective method with the least harm to the ecosystem is to have someone out there with a rifle and lots of ammunition, to cull as many of the pest species as possible as quickly as possible. Yes, it’s possible to have that job handled by “professionals”, but someone on his own land who can do it himself isn’t going to want to pay professionals to do it for him. And, for public lands or other such, why burden the taxpayers with the task when there are folk who not only will do it for free but often will pay for the privilege! (See most African big game hunts as examples–they are not someone going out and killing whatever strikes their fancy, but organized as a part of responsible wildlife management and getting people to pay large sums of money to do what you otherwise would have to pay someone else to do.)
But the “why do you need” people don’t care about any of that. They’re not interested in explanations of wildlife management, pest control, and the realities of dealing with fecund species that not only interfere with human activities (like, for instance, crop damage, or predation on livestock) but can harm other wildlife species and habitats as well. You can explain all of that until you’re blue in the face and it won’t matter one bit to the people asking why you need a firearm with particular characteristics.
The “Why do you need” people just do not care.
“Just get a shotgun” is a popular one on the subject of home defense. Part of the problem with that one is that it’s a defensible argument in many cases but not all. The problem is that the people making the argument have developed a mythology around them that reality does not bear out. Yes, you still need to aim a shotgun. At interior distances the spread of shot is only a few inches. That means the center of your line of aim has to be within that few inches for some of your shot to hit. (Conversely, if you’re within that few inches of the edge of the target on the inside, that means some of your shot will miss.) Yes, shot of sufficient penetration to reliably stop an intruder will also go through residential walls and present a possible risk to others. No, “racking” the slide of a pump action shotgun does not automatically make any threats run away. No, firing both barrels of your double barrel shotgun into the air from your porch is not guaranteed to scare would-be intruders away (and is very likely illegal depending on where you are). Yes, shooting through the door of your residence (see “will penetrate residential walls) is not a good way to deal with a would-be intruder and is extremely likely to get you up on felony charged.
Do you have children or other people in your residence who might be taken hostage by an intruder? Remember that the odds of recovering a hostage alive go way down of the hostage is taken from the scene. Then remember the spread of that shot from the gun. Can you hit the target but miss the hostage? Or just let them go with the hostage and hope you beat those odds?
And sometimes “illegal entry of residence with resident’s present” (i.e. “home invasion) often involves multiple invaders. And often, even with “big” guns with lots of “stopping power” it takes more than one shot to reliably stop a threat. Oh, he may be dead on his feet but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped. He can do a lot of damage to you and yours between the time he receives the mortal wound and the time he finally goes down. You may need additional shots to actually stop him.
I’ve dealt with this before. The features that the “why do you need…” people criticize are exactly what resolves those kinds of issues. If one wants to be armed against the possibility of home invasion (of which over one million happened average per year between 1994 and 2010) then a very strong argument can be made that a so-called “assault weapon” is the best choice for dealing with the widest range of possible situations.
But the “why do you need…” people don’t want to hear that. They don’t care. They’ve made up their mind and to blazes with your facts.
“But the government has tanks and planes and nukes…” This one comes up in “answer” to the primary purpose of the Second Amendment: as a protection against a government gone rogue and turned to tyranny. “Being necessary to the security of a free state” (emphasis added). And, once again, it’s another one I’ve dealt with before. Yes, the government has tanks and bombers and fighters and nukes of every size from small, tactical warheads to big city-busters. And most of it is of limited if any use against an insurgency, particularly when the insurgents are thoroughly mixed with the people you are supposedly “defending.” Yes, you might nuke Des Moines to get some insurgents, but how many loyalists would you kill with them? What are you going to do with those tanks that doesn’t make you the kind of tyrant that justifies the insurgency in the first place?
But again, the “why do you need…” people don’t want to hear that. They don’t care. The narrative they’ve created in their own mind is impervious to any arguments, any facts that don’t fit, anything but the sole answer they’re looking for, admission that “we don’t.”
And then there’s the attempt to point out to them that rights are not contingent on “need.” We don’t have to justify the “need” for something to have the right to it. Rosa Parks didn’t “need” to keep her seat at the front of the bus. The back of the bus went to all the same stops, after all. No, she just demanded her right to remain where she was.
But, again, none of this matters to the “why do you need…” crowd. If you don’t have a “need” that they accept (and they will accept none), then clearly that’s a green light to ban away.
Your “rights” are just what they want you to have. No more.
So, given all the uselessness of trying to convince the “why do you need…” people that there are legitimate needs, and that even without that, the absence of those needs would still not justify banning, why do I keep making the arguments?
Well, there were 3.86 million people born in the US in 2017. Similar numbers in previous years. (Actually, 2017 was the lowest since 1990 per the linked source.) That’s 3.86 million new people who are neither in the “pro RKBA” camp nor in the “why do you need…” camp. That’s 3.86 million new people who, at some time in the future (two year olds are probably a little early to try persuading) might be convinced to one side or the other. Going beyond that one sample year, there are clearly millions of people out there who are still amenable to persuasion one way or the other.
So my purpose here is threefold:
- I am trying to reach as many of that large body of persuadable people as I can. Obviously that’s not very many considering the readership of this blog (and the various other venues where I also make these arguments).
- I am providing data and arguments for others to use in their effort to reach those that they can.
- Since the media is so thoroughly in the “why do you need” camp, I am vocal so that those who are in my own camp can see that they are not alone. The unanimity the media likes to pretend exists is just that, pretense.
So…go, and do thou likewise.