If we want to believe that we only do things for the right reasons, we need to know why we are doing those things. Have you thought about why you carry a gun?

The easy answer is “for protection.” But that is a pretty amorphous response. There are lots of things we can and should do “for protection.” Carrying a gun is just one part of your overall personal-protection plan. And, as you know, it is the final option in that plan — only to be used when nothing else will work to keep you safe.

Notice I did not say a gun should be employed only after all other options have failed. You may not have time to try all your other defensive options before you pull your gun — but you should at least consider them. That’s a topic for another column.

Let’s get back to asking why we carry a gun. There are those who would say the only use for a handgun is to “shoot people.” While I don’t believe that for a minute, it is true that carrying a concealed handgun as part of your personal-protection plan does mean you might, one day, be forced to shoot someone in self-defense. While this is not the only use for that gun, it is the use that will have the biggest impact on your life. But we do not carry guns because our goal is to shoot people.

In fact, our goal should be to avoid shooting people unless we are forced to do so. When I say forced, I mean that you are acting to protect yourself or someone you would die for from an imminent and unavoidable threat of death or great bodily harm. Shooting another person will likely be one of the most traumatic experiences of your entire life. If you think for a minute you can take this action without consideration of what will happen afterward, you are sorely mistaken.

I guess I’ve been pretty clear on where I stand on the topic of shooting people, so I will get back to the question of why we carry guns.

Carrying a gun gives us the option to choose deadly force once we realize nothing else will suffice. Without a gun, our options are limited. That limit also happens to come at the very time we most need one more option — when we are facing a threat so severe that we must use any possible means to stop that threat as quickly as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I carry a gun for only one reason: I never want to be in a position of thinking, “I wish I had a gun right now.”

I will put up with all the discomfort and all the inconvenience and all the legal and financial jeopardy so that in the unlikely event that I am forced into a position where I must defend my life, I am not busy searching for something that will put the odds in my favor.

Let’s be clear. I don’t want to use my gun. But I carry it — I train with it — and maintain my proficiency with it because I want every advantage if I am forced to defend my life.