One important point frequently forgotten in the heated gun debates is that a well armed civilian population is primarily helpful in checking government sponsered crime while protecting ourselves from individual criminals is just a nice side effect. The anti-gun crowd rarely stops to consider that the greatest mass murderers of all time have been governments and not individual criminals. Self defense is primarily important when it comes to governments and I view my arsenal of military style weapons as there for my last ditch opposition/defense against the government when peaceful means are ignored and exhausted. I also have them as a deterant to random criminality but this is of only secondary importance since the chances of a home invasion in the US is very small (thanks, in no small part, to the fear of meeting up with a well armed home owner) and the chances of running into a random psycho killer almost statistically non existant.
The same anti-gun crowd who are terrified of their otherwise trusted friends and nieghbors owning guns is inexplicably all for arming a bunch of 18 year olds trained by paid killers to fill out the ranks of the government's various military branches. Young people are notoriously lacking in compassion, life experiance, and common sense and this leads them into black and white thinking and hence capable of the horrific atrocities performed by these compliant young soldiers over and over again throughout history all ordered and excused by selfish or just plain evil government officials. I would much rather see an equal number of weapons in the hands of the doctors, engineers, university teachers, home builders, day care workers, and numerous other professionals we all trust our lives and most valuable possesions with on a dailey basis. Middle aged family oriented folks are who I trust the most as a class with weapons since they have rich life experiances of nuturing children, caring for aged parents, and are capable of understanding mortality, the true value of life, and of realizing that there are shades of gray among the complex issues they have delt with over a lifetime. Religious/political fanatics and power freaks who control government and it's impersonal authority to kill and coerce is the time proven murder machine of history. If government has a complete monopoly over lethal force they will use it always justified by an appeal to "the common good".
Powerful governments are the real threat and not tools made of wood, steel, and plastics. A gun, sword, ax, club, or spear has no evil intent nor the power to activate themselves into diabolical action. Only ambitious humans using the power of government can kill on a mass scale and history has proven that, unless checked by an armed civilian population, governments will always resort to mass murder to achieve any goal deemed important enough by those who hold the monopoly on this power. Guns are not demons with the power to change a kind, responsible, normal person into a psycho killer by it's mere touch. Governments do however, have the coercive power to brainwash, propagandize, and mold opinion so that normal people are changed into monsters capable of torture and murder time proven over and over again. We don't need gun control we need government control and elimminating government monopolies on weapons is the only time proven method for controling the government's inevitable abuses of it's power.