To a person who has no food, even a modest meal is a life-saver. To another, well fed and sated, additional food is of little marginal utility. A pair of pants is a boon to the naked, while a whole closet full of outfits is of minor importance to the clothed. It’s the same with defensive weapons: the first weapon is of utmost importance, the rest merely refine the solution. By weapon, I mean both the object and the mindset required for its use. A knife, a stick, or a rock are all weapons in trained and willing hands, while a rifle unsupported by the will to use it is merely a firearm.
Consider this Winchester model 60 bolt action rifle dating back to the early 1930s. It’s almost identical in mechanism and performance to the modern kids’ rifles, the Crickett and the Mini Bolt. It lacks the punch and the rate of fire of dedicated defensive rifles, but it still allows the owner to pose a credible threat to a foe out past a hundred yards. Its performance is mostly independent of the strength of the shooter, and its ability to keep a menacing animal or human at a stand-off range makes it a viable defensive tool though better weapons obviously exist. A thug willing to stand twenty yards away from a victim armed with a knife would unlikely be willing to do the same in the case of a rifle…even a whimpy, slow single-shot .22 bolt action. The same would apply even to the black powder muzzle loading arms — they were a formidable tool when new and have not become less potent since. Even BB guns have been known to suffice for defense when used competently as weapons. Almost any ranged weapon is a greater upgrade from an empty hand than the further degree of improvement from that stop-gap to a proper battle rifle.
The service such weapons perform goes beyond emergency defensive uses. Possessed of a weapon as a specific category of tools, a wise owner will think to the possible uses and what-if-then scenarios. Upgrades of training, of firearm and possibly of the general circumstances become more likely. That is why gifts of weapons — with an explanation of the purpose and function — are so good for making the recipients more independent. A gift of a weapon implies many things, among them the trust for the recipient’s judgment, and a confirmation of the peaceable intentions of the giver. No one gives arms and training to a person selected for later victimization, so a gift of a weapon is a definite peace offering. So give peace a chance — gift a weapon to someone you love.