Life isn't like the movies.
Let's face it. At one point or another, we've all wished we were Bruce Willis in "Die Hard."
Who among us hasn't had the urge to strap a sidearm to our hip and roam around the local mall or college campus just daring the bad guys to try something so we can get our John McClane on? Because even the politicians among us have these fantasies, laws in several states are making it way easier to do so.
The thing is, reality has a funny way of interfering with even the most epic of fantasies. And being cavalier about guns — especially carrying a loaded one around with you with the intent to use it one day — is a very bad idea in reality.
As appealing as it may be, here are seven reasons why kicking ass and taking names is best left to the professionals.
Professionals like Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis in "Die Hard."
1. You're much more likely to injure or accidentally kill yourself with your own gun than you probably think.
In a major study that analyzed data across 19 years, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that there are seven times more accidental gun deaths in the states with the most guns than in the states with the least.
Not becoming one of those statistics ideally means not having a gun in the first place. Or, if you do have one, following proper gun safety protocol to the letter — which means not wandering around town with a loaded firearm — all the time, no exceptions, regardless of how annoying it may be or how experienced you are at handling it.
If you're Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," however, feel free to do this:
2. Guns are complicated machines, and it's not that hard to set them off accidentally.
For gun owners, it's incredible how much needless carnage can be prevented just by being the baseline amount of careful. A 1991 U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that having the safety on could have prevented 31% of accidental gun deaths, and a "loaded" indicator might have stopped 23% of unintentional death or injury in a one-year span.
If you're carrying around a gun, no matter how securely, there's always a chance you'll drop it or it will fall. And when you try to catch a falling gun, as is many people's first instinct, you don't know where it's pointing or if you'll inadvertently brush the trigger. No matter how you look at it, toting around an unsecured or barely secured sidearm increases the risk of disaster.
But if you're Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," you can totally go ahead and shoot into the sky with reckless abandon. It's what you were born to do.
3. Having a gun in the home is a major risk factor for suicide.
A 2013 study found that for every 1 percentage-point increase in the rate of personal gun ownership in the U.S., there's a corresponding 0.5-0.9% increase in the rate of suicide. In other words, in a state of 5 million people with a suicide rate of 14 per 100,000 people, even a tiny increase in gun ownership from 20% to 21% would mean an extra four to six suicides per year. That's four to six more families who have to deal with a terrible, irreversible loss. And people who attempt suicide-by-firearm are much more likely to succeed.
This, of course, does not apply if you're Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," since any lingering thoughts of self-harm have long since been replaced by the overwhelming urge to rescue your wife and seek revenge on her captors by any means necessary.
4. Guns are more frequently used as an intimidation tool than to defend against a legitimate wrong.
Let's face it. If you've got a gun at your side at all times — and you're not a cop or a soldier — there's at least a little piece of you that's saying "Be afraid of me, world. Be very afraid." And the data backs that up. More than one survey conducted by Harvard researchers found that guns were used far more frequently to intentionally scare others — loved ones in particular — than in legitimate self-defense.
Guns are frightening things. So if you do have a gun, please keep it locked up, and don't bring it to Starbucks. And for gods sake, don't take it out and brandish it. I don't care if you know you're a "good guy with a gun" because I don't know you. You're just a guy with a gun. In a public space. And that really scares the hell out of people.
If you're Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," however, go right ahead and whip that puppy out and fire it indiscriminately with a full 90-degree spread. Don't even think about where the bullets might fall. Just do it.
5. Unsecured guns and guns in the wrong hands are a major killer of children.
The evidence here is, sadly, pretty stark. Children who live in states with laxer gun laws are far more likely to die in both accidental shootings and intentional homicides. Much like adults, teenagers who commit suicide are much more likely to live in homes where firearms are present.
If you do have a gun in the home, storing it safely — which means locked up and unloaded — is crucial. A National Institutes of Health study found states that implemented "safe storage" laws in the early '90s saw a 23% decrease in firearm deaths of children under 15 in a four-year period.
But if you're Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," you don't need to worry about securing your gun because you don't even need to bring one. One will probably just be lying on the floor. Several, in fact. Most likely near the bodies of various East German (?) flunkies. Just take one. And go bonkers.
6. Anger issues and guns are a deadly cocktail.
An April 2015 CBS News report cited a recent study that found about 1 in 10 people with easy access to guns have a documented history of anger issues and impulsive behavior. According to researchers, that's a recipe for big trouble.
Unless you're a loner, estranged from his wife with nine years on the force, a chip on his shoulder, and nothing left to lose. In which case...
7. Your gun is much, much more likely to kill you or a member of your family than a home intruder.
A recent study conducted by the NIH found that for every time a gun is used legally in self-defense, there are four unintentional shootings, seven assaults or murders, and a whopping 11 suicides or attempted suicides.
If you're Bruce Willis in "Die Hard," however, feel free to ignore these statistics, as your gun only ever kills bad guys — 100% of the time.
Unfortunately, none of us are Bruce Willis in "Die Hard."
I'm not Bruce Willis in "Die Hard." You're not Bruce Willis in "Die Hard." Nobody is Bruce Willis in "Die Hard." Not even Bruce Willis is Bruce Willis in "Die Hard." He's just Bruce Willis.
"Die Hard" is a fantasy. A basically perfect, endlessly replayable fantasy (and surprisingly excellent Christmas movie to boot!). But a fantasy all the same.
And that's what's great about it.
Watching Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" allows us to satiate our urge to live out our gunslinger hero fantasies completely vicariously, with no cost to our own health or the lives of random bystanders or members of our own families.
This is America.
And in America, Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" gets to do this:
So that the rest of us don't have to.