Self-Defense: Top 5 Myths And Realities

There are a lot of myths—and some straight-up lunacy—in the world of self-defense. And while some myths and rumors are more pervasive than others, many are silly enough to be easily dismissed outright. However, some myths fall into a gray enough area that it might be difficult to tell what is and isn’t reality. We’re going to explain the top 5 self-defense myths that could actually hurt someone, and what the reality behind them is.

holstered gun
Carrying a gun for self-defense is a wise choice, but you also need to be trained and understand the realities of everyday carry. (Photo: Kirkpatrick Leather Holsters)

You Don’t Need Self-Defense Insurance, Because You’ll Be Right

It’s quite common to hear people brush off the idea of getting any type of carry coverage for self-defense incidents because they believe they’ll be right. They think that whatever they face, their actions will be just, and that means no one will question it. In reality, it’s wise to have self-defense insurance because if you’re ever forced to defend yourself or others, you’re incredibly likely to require legal help.

When law enforcement comes on the scene of a self-defense incident, they don’t know how it went down. Even if there are cameras present, the odds of a video showing every nuance are slim to none. To you, it might be a cut-and-dry case of justified self-defense against a credible, immediate threat, but it isn’t necessarily going to be that clear to law enforcement or the prosecutor. Aside from the fact that the events leading up to the use of your firearm might not be crystal clear, there’s the cold reality that issues like whether it’s an election year or if the prosecutor dislikes firearms can absolutely come into play. Having good carry coverage protects you from going bankrupt trying to pay for a criminal lawyer. Don’t underestimate its importance. The odds are good that you’ll never need it, but if you’re among the few who do, you’ll be grateful it’s there.

You Have to Carry the Same Ammo as Local Law Enforcement

Another myth that’s been circulating for decades is the idea that you have to use the same ammunition the local law enforcement does for your carry gun. This assumes a few things, including the idea that you have or must have the same caliber gun they do. Does it hurt to have the same ammo as the police in your area? Probably not, but just using the same ammunition is not going to protect you from being charged in a self-defense case.

Let’s assume you have the same caliber handgun and are able to find out what kind of ammo your local police use. Is it good ammo, or is it the load the department has been using for years because it was either cheap or popular last time duty guns and gear were chosen? Does it perform like you need it to?

Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish by carrying the same ammo as your local police (then remember you have no idea where a self-defense incident will take place or what ammo the local law enforcement community will be using). If you’re hoping for broad immunity from charges, you’re going to have a bad time. Do your research, make sure the ammo you’re using is quality and reliable, and go from there.

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Think you should carry the cheapest gun possible? Guess again. (Photo: Black Arch Holsters)

You Should Carry Your Cheapest Gun So You Don’t Lose a Nice Gun

The idea that you should carry a cheap handgun for self-defense so you don’t lose an expensive gun in the event of a self-defense scenario is understandable. No one wants to lose a high-end handgun to confiscation in the aftermath of a self-defense shooting. And while you might think you’ll eventually get it back, that’s hit or miss. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. If you do get it back, it’s likely to be way down the road after a case is tried or charges dropped.

Your carry gun should be reliable, accurate, and comfortable for you to shoot. Regarding the comfortable part, what that means is you should have the skill and ability for rapid follow-up shots and target acquisition as opposed to using a gun that’s so snappy or recoils so significantly you can’t get back on target fast. No, you probably don’t want to risk your favorite handgun being confiscated, but you should be carrying a good gun that you’re very familiar with. Don’t go cheap just to avoid losing a nicer gun. The gun you carry must perform at the most important moment of your life, so choose wisely.

Having a Gun—Any Gun—is Better Than No Gun

This is one of those half-and-half myths because, yes, it’s better to have some sort of firearm for self-defense than no gun at all. If your .22 LR is all you have, carry it. However, this concept is used by many people on social media and in the gun world at large to justify the use of a subpar or somehow inadequate weapon. It’s used to say that it is perfectly fine to toss a snubby .357 Magnum in your purse or to use a little rimfire pistol as your carry gun.

Rather than justify the use of a gun that could fail at a vital moment that someone really can’t fire accurately or a gun that might or might not create a large enough wound cavity to stop a threat, look for solutions. If the caliber itself is small, find the best possible ammo. If the caliber is magnum or something else that’s truly difficult for the person in question to handle, see if you can find a load that’s better suited to their skill level.

Further, if the gun is flat-out poor quality, take really good care of it until it can be replaced. That’s really the key: replace those subpar guns. It isn’t going to be possible to throw money at guns at random, but it’s certainly possible to slowly save over time and eventually get a better gun. Find solutions, not excuses. Those solutions might take a long time to put into action, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on them.

concealed carry permit
Having a concealed carry permit is never a bad thing. (Photo credit: Morgan County Sheriff’s Office)

You Don’t Need a Carry Permit in Permitless States

As time goes by, a greater number of states are going for Constitutional Carry, meaning no carry permit is required by law for concealed carry (or open carry, depending on the location). Legally speaking, assuming you’re allowed to possess and carry a firearm by law, you do not technically need a permit in permitless states. However, having a carry permit isn’t a bad idea.

When you have a current concealed carry permit, there are benefits. In some states, having that permit makes it possible for you to legally carry in areas you cannot if you don’t have a permit. This comes down to knowing the law in your area, so be sure you do. Taking things a step further, if you’re ever involved in a self-defense incident, the fact that you possess a current carry permit can make it clear to law enforcement that you’re a responsible gun owner. There’s no guarantee it’ll happen that way, but it’s one of those additional layers of security that’s nice to have. Also, there’s reciprocity with other states where you might not otherwise be legally allowed to carry. Having a permit makes it possible for you to carry elsewhere (assuming the state in question offers reciprocity with your state).

What myths have you heard about self-defense? Share them in the comments.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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