I have seen it repeated over and over again as an argument against open carry, concealed carry, or gun ownership in general; that my carrying of a firearm violates someone’s right to “feel safe.” There is no right to feel safe. What feels safe to me and what feels safe to someone else are all completely subjective.
Safety to us is a matter of what we call “acceptable risk.” There is a chance that a plane might crash, but we fly anyway, because the chance of a plane crash is very low. It is an acceptable risk. We drive to and from work, back and forth from our families’ homes, on vacation, etc., even though there is a chance that we could get into a fatal car accident. It is an acceptable risk. Swimming in the ocean means you are potentially shark food, but again, acceptable risk. Swimming pools, stairs, elevators, skydiving, motorcycles, boating, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, scuba diving, spelunking, parkour, cosmetic surgery, hockey, alligator wrestling, mosh pits, restaurants, sex… all are acceptable risks, at least to some people. Simply living even has risks, such as disease. There are things that I prefer not to do, because it is not an acceptable risk to me. I won’t bungee jump. To me personally, the risk of injury or death is too high. Other people do it though. Is there a chance that they could still get injured? Of course. The chances of them getting injured, and me getting injured are exactly the same. To them though, there are enough safety precautions that it is an acceptable risk. I drive, even though there is a chance that I will get into a serious accident and die. The chances of it are very low, but it could still happen. Driving, to me, is an acceptable risk.
There is nowhere that you can actually be completely “safe.” Imagine you are alone in a remote area, such as a desert or forest, with nothing but the clothes on your back. There are all manner of wild animals that could potentially do you harm, the proverbial “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” Realistically, it would be more like Feral Hogs, Bobcats, Wolves, Coyotes, Cougars, Bears, Snakes, etc. Any of these critters can easily injure you severely, if not kill you outright. How does this affect your right to feel safe? Let’s change up that scenario a bit. Instead of being in the wilderness, you’re in a crowded shopping mall. Every single person there is potentially a threat to your safety. Granted, it’s not very likely, but it is possible. Some wayward youths could decide to play “the knockout game” with you as their target. A random lunatic could go running from the kiosk that sells cheap kitchen knives stabbing everyone he gets near. Some senile person could decide that the best place to park their car is in the fountain in the food court. In this environment you might feel safe, but you actually aren’t any safer here than if you were still out in the wilderness.
Lots of stuff can kill you.
Feeling safe is simply a state of mind. It is a matter of feeling as though you are in control of what the risks are. Feeling safe means that you don’t perceive an immediate threat. In simple terms, it means you aren’t scared. There are even some conditions where people irrationally don’t “feel” safe. If someone is agoraphobic, or claustrophobic, they don’t feel safe in circumstances that are otherwise completely normal. What about their right to feel safe? Someone might be uncomfortable around someone who has a gun, like me. The fact that I have a gun does not threaten anyone’s safety, no matter how much they want to believe it does. (They even have a name for that irrational fear; hoplophobia.) The chance of that gun, that has them so frightened, being used against them is extremely minute. The only reason it would be, is if they were actually threatening my safety. By threatening my safety I don’t mean some vague or imagined intent either, but an actual discernable threat.
Taking away guns as a means of attempting to make someone feel safer, is equivalent to taking away 32 ounce sodas in order to protect their health. It doesn’t actually do anything to make them healthier, but they might think they are healthier since they only get 12 ounce sodas. The fact that they get sixteen of them instead of one 32 ounce soda makes that gesture meaningless. It’s the same with firearms. Taking away my firearm might make them think they are safer, but they actually aren’t, and are probably less safe in reality. They have just as much a chance of being shot by a deranged idiot as before. The difference now is that the people who stood a chance of confronting, and possibly stopping the deranged idiot are now just as defenseless. This is not an acceptable risk to me. I don’t want to risk having to depend on someone else who may or may not be there for my safety.
So is there really a right to “feel safe?” Who is there to enforce that right? More importantly, who actually took away that mythical right? The answer is no one, because you do not have a right to “feel safe.” It doesn’t exist.