I came accross this article from (generally anti-gun) Esquire magazine: http://men.msn.com/articlees.aspx?cp-documentid=4725556

It has a lot of interesting tid-bits about some of life's greatest and guiltiest pleasures (I can't believe how many Fat Darrell's, number 24 on the list, I have consumed), but this one struck me as particularly interesting.

48. A home firearm
My entire life is a series of hedged bets. As the 54-year-old dad of a 7-year-old, I take no uncalculated risks. I don't let the gas-gauge needle fall below the quarter-tank mark. I set the ADT alarm every night. You could not pay me to travel outside the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. Everywhere lurks doom; I acknowledge its inevitability by avoiding all danger at every turn. When I can, I avoid turns.

I spent a long time living dangerously. I was the guy they sent into the pharmacy with the forged quaalude prescription. The guy who sold weed by the pound to the outlaw bikers. The guy who ate ham-and-cheese sandwiches on Yom Kippur. Now I'm the guy who insists that his wife clean the dryer vent twice a year so the lint doesn't catch fire.

Still, a few feet from where I now sit typing on the third floor of our home in a Garden State suburb of leafy calm sits my shotgun. The safety's on, but it is loaded. I don't hunt. And though my "equipment" would win no bar bets, the shotgun doesn't make me feel larger. It is what it is: the most fearsome, effective, legal home-protection device around. Is it a danger to me and mine as well? Many studies say so, but I haven't seen a study yet that helps me get to sleep at night.

Call me crazy. Call me an ugly American. But don't expect me to call 911 if you break into my house — not till I've blown your head and neck clean off your shoulders.
—Scott Raab
Obviously, I don't think owning a firearm shortens my life expectancy, but it was nice to see self defence - even in this limited form - cited as "worth it" is such a magazine. It also got me thinking about some of the things I've done that certainly took some time off of my own clock, but that I don't regret doing at all...but that's another thread!