The Gun as Talisman Fallacy

Your gun does not protect you just by virtue of you owning or carrying it.

by posted on February 17, 2022
Handgun Amidst Shells

Learning how to shoot and taking responsibility for your personal safety by carrying a concealed firearm is empowering. It’s so empowering, in fact, that if you don’t have the right mindset, it can actually cause you to fall into a dangerous mental quirk: the “gun as talisman” fallacy.

A talisman, sometimes called an amulet, is an object believed to ward off evil and bring good fortune, typically by magic or mysticism. Some cultures (ancient and current) and religions place a lot of emphasis on talismans. They’re like souped-up good luck charms.

If you have an object you think is lucky or protective, no problem. But let me be clear: Your gun is not it. Your gun does not protect you just by virtue of you owning or carrying it. If you have a vague, maybe even subconscious sense that somehow it does, you’ve fallen into the gun as talisman fallacy. What’s wrong with that?

A concealed carrier who views her gun as a talisman runs the risk of becoming overconfident. It’s far too easy for her to think, “I’ve got a gun; I’ll be safe,” and walk right into a potentially dangerous situation that she’d be better off avoiding. If you wouldn’t do something unarmed, but you’re willing to do it while you’re carrying, you might have fallen into gun-as-talisman thinking. Stop and think for a second. If you’d go to a particular place only if you’re armed, but never consider it without your gun, there’s a good chance you shouldn’t be going there at all—armed or not.

Your gun does not increase your level of personal safety just by existing, and thinking that it does can lead you to do some just plain dumb stuff or get yourself into stupid situations you should have avoided. If anything, you should be more mindful of where you go and what you do when you’re carrying for the opposite reason—that whole “With great power comes great responsibility” thing. What does increase your level of personal safety?

Your gun, combined with the ability to use it, the willingness to use it, the wisdom to avoid having to use it if possible, and perhaps most importantly, the mindset and situational awareness to avoid situations where it might be needed in the first place—those things keep you safe. It’s worth noting that not only is a gun not a magical object that protects you—it’s a last-resort measure when all other self-defense options have failed or were never on the table to begin with. It's far better to use common sense and awareness to keep yourself out of any situation where you might wish you had a magical talisman.

This isn’t to say that a gun is never the answer—obviously, sometimes it is. And it’s not to say that you have to be John Wick in order to use one effectively—countless tales of defensive gun uses have proven that false. However, you should be sufficiently trained and practice with your firearm.

But remember: A gun is not a talisman that magically keeps you safe just by virtue of its existence. Rather, it’s a tool that, when combined with other tools in your self-defense toolkit, can increase your personal safety in unavoidable situations.  

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