It happened to me again the other day: the same, old question about firearms that I get more often than I like: “Why do you need a ___?” Fill in the blank.
This time, it was in regard to a suppressor. “Why does anyone need to hunt with a silencer?”
Back in the early 2000s, I proudly showed off my new Kalashnikov to a hunting associate. I thought it was really cool, and it gave me great satisfaction to shoot. It’s a semiauto, it’s military style, it’s legendary; and at the time, ammo was plentiful and dirt cheap. And most of all, when I need a shooting fix, the recoil and report are more satisfying than on an AR or .22 rifle.
His response: a dismissive grunt, followed by, “Huh. Why do you need an AK? Why would anyone need an AK?”
I even hear it from other gun owners. As ARs were starting to trickle into hunting camps in the mid-2000s but were still uncommon, I was showing off my new Ambush 6.8 hunting rifle.
One of my hunting buddies said, “You need an assault rifle to kill a deer? I only use one shot to kill mine.”
When discussing my AR collection (which might or might not be larger than the TO of an infantry platoon), with a friend, I got the same type of reaction.
The most common one I get is (and I’ve heard this from several family members just in the last year alone), “I fully support gun ownership, but I don’t think anyone needs an assault rifle like an AR or AK.”
In all these situations, I found myself quickly taking to my podium and educating them about what was wrong with what they said. The sad thing is, most of these were gun guys.
Rarely is the question done for the purpose of gathering information, as in, “Why is it better to hunt with a suppressor?” Instead, it’s accusatory and dismissive in nature.
But, the larger picture? This is America, and when do we ever have to need something to own it? Do we need the V-8 when a 4-banger will do the job? Do we need a massive SUV or pickup truck when most of the time, it’s just us, alone, in the vehicle? Do we need a BMW when a Honda Civic would get us to work just the same? Does everyone need an iPhone or equivalent smart phone when a flip-phone would work just fine?
The answer to all of these questions is, “No.” Yet, no one bats an eye at these things. No one has ever put me to task with, “Why do you need a watch with dozens of functions and the only thing you ever use it for is to tell time? Ridiculous!”
As a gun owner, I shouldn’t have to justify my firearm purchases to anyone (except my wife)—especially to other gun owners. What these people are really saying is, “I don’t think you should own that.” Or, in the case of hunting with a suppressor, “I don’t agree with what you’re doing.”
To that, I answer by educating them on what purpose it serves, but I don’t try to justify why I own it.
If, after I explain things to them, they still don’t get it, I simply point out the Second Amendment and tell them that if they need further explanation, they need to read the Federalist Papers. GW