Almost all my readers are "gun people", in that they own guns already, are interested in guns, guns are a hobby and form of recreation for them etc...
However, I'm also a part of several other communities or subcultures if you will, where guns are an uncomfortable subject, or just a mystery.
For example, I teach basic self defense, to women, and to gays, for free. I fully and firmly believe, armed women don't get raped, and armed gays don't get bashed.
I have a lot of friends in what you might call "alternative sexuality" or "alternative lifestyle" communities. These folks often engage in what you might consider fairly risky behavior; in that they meet strangers in private places etc... Basically, a lot of the necessary conventions of these communities, because they require discretion, privacy, secrecy etc... are the exact things the self defense classes and books tell you NOT to do.
I used to have a lot of friends who were escorts, strippers, in porn, or some combination of all of the above (I did security for them. You make friends pretty quickly in those situation). They have all those same risks, only turned up to 11.
I'm involved in gaming, both casual and hardcore, both tabletop and video gaming; and a lot of gamers and geeks just don't know a damn thing about guns or self defense... or worse, what they "know" is dead wrong... meaning it will get them, and others, dead.
We in the gun community or the gun culture if you will, understand that there is a hell of a lot of just plain bad information out there in the non-gun world; and we should, when we can, try to help others to get GOOD information, and to learn how to defend themselves safely, and responsibly.
To that end, I'm going to repost something I wrote on a forum for one of those groups I mention above.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid being in danger in the first place, absolutely; but when that plan fails, the best way to defend yourself is a weapon.
Less lethal weapons are always an option if you feel you can't carry a gun, or can't kill someone who is trying to hurt you. Stun guns and chemical irritant sprays CAN be useful and effective if used properly.
Though I have seen far too many cases where they were not effective enough, to trust them as a primary means of self defense, any advantage you can give yourself in a life or death situation, is one you should tale. Also, unfortunately, in many places, these may be your only lawful means of self defense.
If you do choose to use a contact stun gun, a taser (they are two very different things by the way, and the difference is important), or a chemical irritant; you NEED to get training in how to use them safely, and effectively; and you ABSOLUTELY must practice with them at least once.
The time to say "huh, that didn't work the way I thought it would" is in training, NOT when someone is about to rape you to death.
Now, lot of folks in this community are not comfortably with firearms, but they carry knives; and they believe they will defend themselves with a knife if the time comes.
Let me tell you right now, you want to think of a knife as your absolute last resort in a defensive situation.
Unless you are an expert martial artist, trained for years in self defense with a knife, you are unlikely to be very effective in doing so; and you are likely to hurt yourself badly if it ever happens.
Even knife experts, and I'm one of them; hurt themselves badly, when defending themselves with a knife... and I'm one of them.
I've been in a couple of knife fights. Trust me on this, you REALLY want to avoid a knife fight under any circumstances. Next time you see me, ask me to show you some of my scars.
The two things most people don't understand are:
1. It's VERY hard to defend yourself with a knife. It's pretty easy to hurt someone pretty badly, but it's very hard to STOP them from attacking you, which is your goal; and it's very easy to hurt yourself in the process. Plus in order to use a knife effectively, you have to be close enough that they can grab you, and really, you should avoid that if there's any way you can.
2. You are far more likely to die or be permanently disabled or disfigured by a knife wound, than by a gunshot.
That's counterintuitive, but ER statistics prove it out. You are far more likely to die from a knife wound, because you are likely to lose more blood, have a greater chance of shock, and are more likely to suffer more severe infections, and more secondary infections.
So, while I won't say knives are useless for self defense, or not to grab one if it's your only weapon (any weapon you can use, is better than no weapon at all, if you're defending your life)... don't make it your plan to defend yourself with a knife, and don't carry a knife for self defense, unless it's your only option, or it's a backup to your other self defense methods.
My personal recommendation is, if you are able to deal mentally and emotionally with the concept of killing someone (and you need to be 100% able to deal with it, otherwise you are going to be a bigger danger to yourself and others than a rapist or killer is. If you can't, stick to less lethal weapons) you should carry a firearm.
Nothing stops a rapist so well as a bullet... or five.
Again, I want to stress, you shouldn't carry a gun unless you are entirely comfortable doing so; and have accepted the idea that you may, no matter how much you dont want to, need to use the thing on another human being, and you are safe, mature, stable, and responsible enough to do so.
If you are bi-polar or depressive, and your illness is not well controlled with medication you take religiously, you probably shouldn't have a gun. If you're an addict who is not doing well in recovery, you probably shouldn't have a gun (if you are an addict who is not in recovery at all, it is illegal for you to have a gun). In general, if you're someone who has great difficulties with mental or emotional stability... you probably shouldn't have a gun.
I won't say you definitely shouldn't, because everyone is different, as are everyones individual issues... but in general, unless you are sober, and stable, you shouldn't have a gun.
Also, you shouldn't carry a gun if you are not physically safe and secure (crackhead roommate? No guns til you move, which you should do immediately), responsible and conscientious about your possessions (if you lose your purse every week... don't carry a gun), and you have received training in self defense shooting, and the legal issues surrounding armed self defense in your state.
Note, I'm not saying it should be illegal for you to own or carry a gun without training in firearms safety and the legal aspects of self defense. What I'm saying is that unless it's a life or death emergency, you shouldn't, you're an idiot if you do, and I don't want you carrying a gun around me or mine.
You should also train with your defensive firearm at least once a month; both to ensure that your skills in shooting are adequate and safe for self defense, and to ensure that the firearm is still functioning properly.
Finally, when you decide to own and carry a gun, you accept a burden to behave in a safe and responsible manner.
People who carry guns for lawful self defense, can't allow their anger, or their depression, to get the best of them. They can't get into bar fights. They can't get into domestic disturbances. They can't get drunk or high.
Carrying a gun for lawful self defense means you always need to be the better man or woman in any situation. You need to turn the other cheek, and exercise restraint and caution, even further than those who don't carry.
Now, if I haven't scared you off after all that heavy stuff, here's my offer.
I am an NRA certified firearms instructor; and have additionally been trained in firearms use and instruction by Gunsite Academy, Frontsight Academy, Massad Ayoobs Lethal Force Institute, and several other firearms training facilities. I have acted as a trainer for several law enforcement organizations, security contractors, and for private clients; for almost 15 years.
If anyone in my region, wishes to learn how to shoot a gun for the first time, wants to learn about firearms safety, want's their kids, or family to learn about firearms safety; want's advice about firearms for defending themselves, or wants to get back into shooting; I will give them free instruction, and use of my firearms and safety gear, any time I'm available.
The only thing I ask, is that if you can, you pay for the ammo. If you can't afford it, I've got a fair bit, and I'm glad to share it with you... but ammo isn't free, and these days, it isn't particularly cheap.