Ooh debate time.
Being born, raised and presently located in the UK this side of 1980 means there are next to no legitimate* weapons around here (at least not in the numbers seen in the US, Canada, mainland Europe and just about everywhere else in the world).
I am however the son of a Texan and more than a few associates of family and myself play military or other similar lines of work so I would like to think I know my way around a weapon, perhaps not as much as I would like and indeed it has been several years since I shot anything other than an air rifle, a shotgun (breech loaded, standard birdshot or occasionally buckshot rather than anything fun like single slug) at a clay pigeon or something with a laser in it not to mention I would probably fail hard in a game of identify weapons from pictures let alone their "stats".
@Skyline969 a valid point but we must never to use personal experience or unfounded opinion as a justification in such debates, as an anecdote sure but never as a justification.
"Guns don't kill people; people kill people"
Indeed they do but on measure it makes it a considerably easier task than most other methods so it is perhaps not the binary situation/line of thought the phrase is framed around and I sense this reasoning is what many of those who would argue against such a phrase would use. Does on balance this outweigh the "need" for a firearm?
Secondly while I say easier my secondary argument here is that without putting serious time in down at a range (as in hundreds of rounds a month, preferably a week) or equivalent you are danger to everyone.
Even then personal defence almost invariably means close quarters which is another game entirely (it is certainly not sufficient to just be accurate)
Targets as well as not having the same mental block present (see various studies done post world war 2 on getting aimed for killshot percentages higher- it could also be spun the opposite way in that a firearm presents an emotional disconnect of sorts seeing as you may not have to use much/any force or see blood on you from your actions)
Fear kicking in (you have to train long and hard to allow you to "think" in a danger scenario)
Furthermore you also have to factor in draw time (done properly my knife or otherwise drawn, readied and aimed weapon will have killed you "long" before you get to the point where your firearm is combat effective) and whether your shot will incapacitate your opponent; a trained, armoured or "drugged up" person can usually take a shot outside of the kill zone at least for long enough to finish the task of hurting you, especially when using civilian ammunition (gun types please spare everyone a debate here although I shall take the opportunity to swipe at the .45).
"I also approve gun ownership for battered/abused women in danger of serious harm"
I thought you just discounted the mentally unstable.
*going slightly off topic. I would argue that there is a measure of protection afforded by knowing that people may well be armed but it is near impossible to quantify and if you could it would be significant but only just. Similarly criminals by definition do not follow the law which leads to the real reason for this aside- even though weapons are for the most part banned in the UK it is still entirely possible to get one for a nominal outlay- existing weapons, black market imports, homebuilt (it is not hard with modern tools and materials) or recommissioned (at various points in time decommissioned weapons were allowed: decommissioning can mean just about anything that renders the weapon unable to fire other than a safety catch depending on the person you speak to).
Back on topic I suppose we have to decide on many things.
What number of "preventable" deaths or injuries is acceptable (indeed do we count suicides in there; right to life surely means right to death)? this factors in to how we can use statistics to back up arguments which is inherently tricky depending on how you break them down (age range, location, type or work, time of day, time of year........ have all be used to hide things, promote things or completely gloss over alternative reasoning, not gun related but holds nice examples of what I am going for: http://www.ted.com/talks/emily_oster_flips..._in_africa.html
In what situations is lethal force acceptable? Police have loads of rules here and they vary widely by unit type and location, what standards should the "man on the street" be held to?
In what situations is causing serious injury (I kneecap someone and they will probably never walk the same) acceptable?
A thinking point: by about 14 years old most males will be able to gain an appreciable amount of muscle and skill that is able to be used to hurt someone well enough as well as the presence of thought sufficient enough to understand the ramifications of their actions. Is it acceptable as someone ten years older to kick the crap out of them when they threaten a/that person, if not just a single one what about two of them at the same time?
Spin 2 here: special needs types. Same scenarios and questions at the end.
What types of weapon, weapon modifications and ammunition are acceptable?
Many will immediately go for automatic weapons here- are they significantly more troublesome to the "wronged" parties in the situations that exist?
Are clip/magazine sizes justified in being limited, speed loading methods have also taken fire on occasion (even something as simple as taping two magazines together).
What makes ammunition of a given type unsuitable?
Hair triggers or other modifications there (two stage, hair triggers, single action/double action tweaks/removal)?
Barrel mods (thinking shotgun but I will also include silencers or combat "tips" ( http://www.shotgunreport.com/index.html
) and maybe even smooth bore)
Concealed carry vs open carry (places might allow you to have a weapon on a visible holster but to keep it beneath a coat or in a bag is not acceptable). By similar line of thought: carried loaded or unloaded*?
These examples have all come under fire in various parts of the world.
*factors into the whole ability to ready a weapon in a reasonable time.
Location based restrictions: no discharging in city limits, nothing near a school*, police station, en route to a (gun) club?
Before kneejerking; killing a policeman, killing a schoolkid, killing an average adult, as a crude form of euthanasia or killing a hobo?
Which is worse and if everyone is equal enough in terms of right to life why should one be worse than another (looking towards drawing heat from law enforcement or media attention)?
What are acceptable uses for a weapon and indeed does it even need positive justifications (can I just say my weapon is not for unjustifiably hurting things or otherwise unlawful activity and be on my way, can it be sold with that as the unsaid proviso, can it be sold with the unsaid proviso of "just don't be a dick about it"?)
I hinted at it earlier but is there an inherent need to be armed with a firearm; balls to the wall- hunter* gatherer/modern quality of life scenario is there a need for a firearm?
*anyone making the obvious remark gets an internet slap.
Self defence is an interesting one too: one the one hand some might argue that police should do the job, others would argue they are just a nice bonus (you are responsible for you) and others still would argue that police are too few in number (indeed you venture into the sticks and there are likely to only be one or two to cover a considerable area*) so while they should physics/experience/reality dictates they can not be there to help you in a reasonable time should needs be.
*effectively lawless zones are often amazing places to be, you guys should try it some time.