How Many Guns Are Too Many Guns?

I remember years ago (in my 2A infancy) when my husband and I had a Springfield Armory XD … and that was about it. One handgun. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Having a gun for home protection seemed to be a smart thing to do. And training with it was even smarter. But it didn’t really occur to me that we could — or should — have more. And when my husband eventually brought it up, I recall thinking, “Why would we need another gun? We already have one. Besides, they are basically all the same!”

My mistake. Guns are not “basically all the same,” and now that I am an instructor, a competitive shooter and a vocal 2nd Amendment supporter, my views on firearms — and the amounts that one should or should not have — are much different than they used to be. It seems that Americans’ views may have changed a bit, as well. A 2017 Harvard/Northwestern University joint study estimated that our country’s 319 million citizens currently own about 265 million guns. And while in 1994, the “typical gun-owning household” owned 4.2 guns, in 2015, The Washington Post revealed that this average number of firearms owned has nearly doubled to 8.1 guns per household. And that trend has only gone up since! (On a side note: How many of you are now thinking: “I guess I am not a typical gun-owning household!”?)

From 1911s and guns just for show to shotguns and ARs and guns on the go, there are so many different firearms out there … and just as many different reasons to have them. So when a friend recently posed the question: “How many firearms is considered ‘too many?,’” it reminded me of how far I’ve come. And it got me thinking about possible answers to this intriguing topic.

No doubt, the anti-gun groups would claim that even just one gun is too many. They constantly tell us that having more guns equals more crime … and, therefore, we should take away all guns. Thankfully, there are people who speak the truth about this falsehood — people like John Lott, who explores and explains in his book More Guns, Less Crime that locations with the largest increases in gun ownership actually have the largest drops in violent crimes. There are also folks like Steve Scalise (R-La.) who was shot this past summer at a GOP baseball practice near Washington D.C., but who rejects the argument that there are too many guns in Americans’ hands. “The problem is not that there are too many guns,” Scalise explains, “It’s that there are people that will go out and break the law, whether it’s a gun or some other weapon or a bomb.”

Another possible answer that might come up is that having “too many” firearms could become a burden. A lot of people say that if you ever wind up in court, having too many guns may be a liability. In this line of thinking, having that mysterious number of superfluous firearms (whatever that number is) could look suspicious, especially in a day and age in which the media reports discovering “arsenals” in people’s homes that consist of a dozen or so guns and a few thousand rounds of ammunition. Either way, this is something to consider … and perhaps something to discuss with your lawyer.

When I think of a “real” answer to “How many firearms is considered ‘too many?’” (besides the “You can never have enough!” statement that I’d love to use), I suppose there might be a few red flags. For instance, if firearms have become some kind of unhealthy obsession and they are ruining relationships or sending you down a financial black hole, then that is probably a sign of “too many.” I believe, as well, if you can no longer safely secure (and/or maintain) your guns, then that is also a sign of “too many” (or a hint that it’s time to purchase another Liberty Safe).

Undoubtedly, the answer to this question is completely unique for every individual, based on factors like your lifestyle, family, interests, hobbies, values, skills, income, job, etc. And, of course, it depends on the intended use(s) for the gun(s). Do you hunt? Are you a gunsmith? Do you enjoy shooting sports? Are you an instructor? Do you carry on body for self-defense? Are you a collector? Do you stage guns for protection in the home? Have you considered having a backup … or a backup for your backup?

All in all, there’s really no fail-safe, foolproof right or wrong reply to the question: “How many firearms is considered ‘too many?’” If you think about it, firearms are, in and of themselves, a very unique investment. They are an investment that may one day provide some money in return … but most importantly, they are investment for your safety and for your future. And in that case, there can never be too much.