6 Reasons Why I Don’t Carry a Gun.

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com


People are talking about carrying guns, gun laws and mass shootings. I was in a Long Range Surveillance Unit in the U.S. military and I grew up with guns in my family. But I don’t carry a gun. Here’s why:

  1. I Don’t Want To Live In a Community Self-Governed by Threat of Force.

I’ve traveled all over the world. Been to conflict zones on three continents. I have seen first hand what it is to live in a community governed by threat of force. That is not how I want to live. Our society and culture develops congruent with our vision. If our vision is an armed society, that will be our reality. If our vision is a society less reliant on arms to solve and prevent problems, our reality will manifest that way. That is how I want to live. So I do.

  1. Carrying a Gun is Inconvenient. 

When I did carry a gun it was a significant responsibility, and it was inconvenient. The heavy pistol concealed on my belt caused my pants to fall down when I went to the bathroom. The handgun dug into my back when I sat in a car. I couldn’t draw it in a hurry from a concealed position in a car anyway. When I got home at night I had to secure the weapon in my house. It was a lot of extra work and responsibility. I don’t want that.

  1. I Probably Couldn’t Hit Anything Anyway.

I haven’t pulled a trigger in over a year. I am not current or proficient in combat shooting. And, with the small pistols commonly carried as a concealed firearm, I doubt I could hit anything beyond 10 yards accurately and dependably anyway. For me to carry a gun and then employ it effectively and safely in a civilian setting I would need extensive re-training and then ongoing proficiency training. In the military we had to qualify with our weapons on a regular basis. I haven’t done that in a long time. Despite my military and civilian experience, I’m not qualified.

  1. I Don’t Want The Responsibility of Deciding Whether or Not to Take a Life.

If I carry a gun to defend others, and myself but I make a bad decision and accidentally shoot the wrong person, I would regret that- and cannot undo it. Carrying a gun is making the decision that you are willing, and ready, to kill. I am not- at least not at a moments notice in a civilian setting.

Many people don’t realize that the responsibility of shooting another person, even when justified, exposes you to significant civil liability. If you shoot a criminal and your actions are judged to be legally justified, you won’t do jail time. However, you may be financially responsible for some loss the criminal you shot may suffer. These losses can include medical bills, disfigurement and compensation to a surviving family. You may stay out of jail for a justified self-defense shooting, but it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in a civil suit in addition to the cost of mounting a costly defense.

  1. It Is Unsettling to People, Especially Some of My Friends.

I have friends on both sides of the firearms debate. Some carry firearms, some are opposed to even owning guns. I respect both perspectives. I also consider myself an animal rights advocate, but I don’t brandish my animal empathy in front of someone eating a steak. Ultimately, we all have to get along. I am a shooting enthusiast, I love to shoot, and I own guns. But I do it respectfully. I know carrying a gun, openly or concealed, makes some people uncomfortable. I don’t want to do that.

  1. It’s unlikely I’ll Ever Really Need It. 

I’ve climbed mountains, fallen in crevices, jumped out of airplanes, visited all seven continents, swam with sharks. I’ve never been in a civilian situation where I needed deadly force. The odds are, I never will. I have had to take medications to save my life when I had a heart defect. I still have that heart defect, but I don’t carry the medications; because I likely will never need them again and it is inconvenient. I view having to use a gun to save my life as a very remote possibility. I don’t carry a fire extinguisher (although my house is full of them), a CPR mask or a personal flotation device with me (I live near water). Like a gun, it is statistically unlikely I will need any of those things on a daily basis. So I don’t bother with it.







  1. Nice article. It’s unfortunate that it often takes years of maturity to come to such an understanding and viewpoint. I’m willing to bet those who do feel a need to carry firearms haven’t fully considered the reasons you offer not to carry.

    • Thank you Will, appreciate you reading Sir. -Tom D.

  2. KJQ said:

    Tom. I totally respect your viewpoint. Neither I nor anyone I know would advocate forcing anyone to own or carry a firearm. The problem of course for people like me is that others who don’t want to own or carry a firearm want that right removed from others. I hope you’re not advocating that. As for the threat of force, every society on the planet uses the threat of force to keep the peace and/or administer justice. The bible calls this “bearing the sword”. In some countries it’s very obvious (e.g. armed military roaming the streets). I for one would rather fellow citizens carry firearms rather than have to depend upon others (e.g. police) to protect them, as this is not de facto possible. I think that regardless of what civilized people would like their society to be, it is largely the criminal element that determines the reality for day-to-day reality. Lastly, being a former paramedic and volunteer firefighter, I know first hand just how awful it is when unlikely events happen (e.g. fires, medical emergencies, violent crime). It is so awful that I determined many years ago to be as prepared as I can to both prevent and respond to “unlikely” events. So I have trauma kits, fire extinguishers, flares, escape ladders, smoke detectors, firearms etc. at home, in our vehicles, and some on my person at all times. I’ve shown and trained myself and my family on using all of said equipment, and we drill regularly in “what if” scenarios. Some think we’re prudent, others think we’re paranoid (BTW, just because someone is paranoid doesn’t mean nothing bad will ever happen to them or their loved ones). That is the beauty of choice living in a free country. Regards.

  3. love this post


  4. Hmmm. You could buy an actual gun belt, take some training and actually conceal it so your friends don’t know.

    But if you don’t want to… you don’t want to and it wouldn’t be a right if you “had” to.

  5. twilkas said:

    Great piece Tom, thank you. I know of your background, so I was able to read it with that framework of understanding of your experience.
    If even you don’t think you could hit anything, why would I think I could?, I’m a sport shooter and not even current. I ranted to a friend that more armed citizens would be an answer to the kind of barbaric act we just saw in CA, but the odds of having just the right person on site, properly prepared with skills and equipment at that most needed time, are pretty slim.
    Your point of being prepared to take a life hit home too, and that’s another huge responsibility. I know I’ve not considered the full weight of that.
    But some are well prepared to handle the responsibility and don’t find it inconvenient to carry or to keep current in training, and KJQ’s point to the criminal element dictating reality is a good one. Personally, I’d not make the decision lightly, and your points are a good outline for what should be gravely considered.

  6. Lynn Bamrick O'Meara said:

    Tom, so we’ll written, and logical. Will you volunteer as tribute, and run for something, I’d vote for you.

  7. Jon said:

    I would like to comment on the whole you couldn’t hit anything, not wanting the responsibility of taking a life, unsettling for friends, and unlikely that you would need it. The thing about not being able to hit anything is that if you don’t take the time to learn how to properly handle, and use a firearm than you should certainly consider it. If you don’t try, you will never improve. It doesn’t matter if it is unsettling for friends, or the people around you because they shouldn’t know about it. People carry everyday aroud you, and you don’t know it. That’s the whole point of concealed carry, is not raising that unsettling, or anxious feeling. So if you don’t let them know, it is better for the whole of you. Plus you want to be able to forget about it until you need it, if you’re constantly thinking about it you will ruin your everyday pleasures. I agree that the responsibility of taking a life is scary, but in some cases it needs to be a thought. Police, and military are also presented with that responsibility, and civilians need to be able to defend themselves when the need rises. You said how you were in the military, and even for long range surveillance you have the responsibility of not only possibly taking enemy lives, but protecting your own brothers in arms. Sure, it is unlikely you will need it, but in today’s world you cannot take that chance. If that time comes and you are not capable of defending yourself you will wish you had taken that extra step of preparedness, and readiness.

  8. Lisa Burns said:

    This was exactly what I tried to express about my own beliefs and thoughts regarding this subject. I am refreshed by your clarity and strong depth of integrity I am glad you are here to help teach people like me. thanks

    • Lisa, thank you for reading and commenting Ma’am.

  9. jeff adamson said:

    Yeah, I agree. You shouldnt carry a gun if you dont want to. Now on the other hand, I and millions of others want to and we do. We somehow overcome these issues day to day. Yes, they are uncomfortable. Yes, the odds of me needing it are small(so is fire insurance).
    But, you already live in a community self governed by the threat of force. Your friends wont know unless you tell them you are carrying, and training can lessen the probability of an accident.
    This is America. We have a right to bear arms. It isnt a mandate.

  10. Ryan said:

    Wow. You are rarer than hen’s teeth. Much credit to you for your perspective. I agree totally. As someone trained, licensed, and ‘competent’ with firearms, I also see no need to walk out the door with them. And I had never thought of putting it into such a great line as you have with the whole force concept. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the very real issue of responsibility for every round fired. Kudos for a great and thoughtful article.

    • Thank you for reading, and for your comment Sir.

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