No, The Shotgun Is Not A Magic Self-Defense Wand

Yesterday, I was checking out the blogs I follow and I came across a post by Tam Keel over at her blog. I like Tam’s writing style and she’s incredibly knowledgeable about the topic of guns and self-defense. I’ve rarely disagreed with her on much of anything I’ve seen her write.


However, yesterday, she wrote something that floored me. It’s not that I don’t believe her, but that I can’t believe this is still happening.

You see, she was auditing a gun class or two and there was a guy there who wasn’t your typical gun guy. It turns out he wanted something for home defense but, because of a medical issue, was limited on how to shoot it. What got me was how he ended up with a shotgun.

The student had, it seemed, shot 3 Position Smallbore Rifle in college, and remembered the difficulty of hitting the tiny bullseye at 25 yards. Because of this, he had wanted a defensive weapon he wouldn’t have to aim under stress. Further, due to medical issues, he wasn’t able to raise his right arm above shoulder level or effectively shoulder a shotgun.

He’d been sold a shotgun as a weapon that could be fired from the hip and sweep a room or hallway clear with a devastating wall of lead that would knock intruders from their feet, all without having to aim under the stressful conditions of having an intruder in the house.

I’ll be honest, I’m floored that people are still running this line of bull. I shouldn’t be, but I am.

Look, a shotgun is a good choice for a home defense weapon for a lot of people. It’s a great choice for a gun for a lot of things, actually. It’s not my choice, personally, but I don’t fault anyone who uses one to defend their home. But it’s it’s not an insta-kill weapon that will hit the bad guy no matter where they are. It’s just not.


What a shotgun actually happens to be is a gun that may be a little bit more forgiving of your aim being off just a bit than a carbine or a handgun. That’s it. At most.

Now, this is far from the dumbest line I’ve heard used at a gun store to sell a firearm, but I only say that because there are enough people who say similar stuff like this that it’s easier for a new shooter to believe. It’s still pretty bad, though.

Honestly, I really wish this myth would die a horrible, painful death. I can’t help but feel that this is the kind of thing that will get people killed if it hasn’t already. It’s one of many, of course, but this one is particularly insidious. The fact that so many supposedly knowledgeable people–the folks who work at the gun store should know guns, right?–spread it just makes it that much worse.

If you want to use a shotgun for home defense, more power to you. Understand what you have, what it can do, and what it’s limitations are are you’re good to go.

But don’t think you basically just bought a homeowner-grade bazooka.

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