When the Newtown school massacre happened I actually called a friend in the Sheriff's department to ask if I should "drop a dime" on these guys. My argument was that, while they had never hurt anyone in their lives, perhaps they could one day blow a fuse and use their arsenal to kill innocent people.
This was a troubling call for me. I am not anti-gun at all. I don't happen to own any. Yet, I don't have any fundamental objections to law-abiding people owning them. The Newtown event rattled me as much as it probably did lots of people.
To my surprise my friend, the Sheriff, said not to worry. He went on to tell me that this sort of thing (stock-piling weapons and ammo) is very common. He said lots of cops do it. He went further and told me "we can find most of these people because they are being tracked one way or the other, whether they know it or not".
I didn't think much of that last statement until the latest government scandals started to surface, from the IRS targeting political groups (regardless of alignment, would you like it to happen to you in the future?) to this PRISM/surveillance mess. You now have to wonder where else the government is tracking us. Or, perhaps, the right question could very well be the opposite: Where are you safe?
All of a sudden these "nut-cases" who stockpile weapons and wake up every day thinking the government is out to get them actually have something to point to and say: "See, I told you so". I already got that call, BTW.
No, I am not going out to buy guns. Not interested. I have enough fun shooting them at the range. I don't feel I need to own any of them for any reason. But, you know, how can I now tell these guys they are insane for thinking the way they do?
Would I criticize someone for not locking their front door? No. Locks only keep honest people honest, and the chances of your property being broken into are fairly slim.
Would I criticize someone for preparing themselves for a collapse/rebellion/revolution of some kind? Absolutely not. The cost of not doing so is much higher than lost possessions. Rights, Your life, etc...
The main thing to take away from this, is that you can't know for sure, and everybody reacts to those percentages differently. It's better to be safe than sorry, or you can live fast and die young without worries.
I should note that the duality above can be taken in both contexts.
When I want to throw out something like a bike it can stay on the sidewalk for weeks if I don't put a sign on it that says "free, take me". So it should come as no surprise that we don't really feel the need to own weapons for any reason whatsoever. I enjoy target practice at the range a few times a year with my son. It's fun, and I think it is important to learn --particularly safety.
Now, I have lived and worked in areas of Los Angeles where you would not dare leave your car unlocked for one hour. I've had car stereos and whole cars stolen from right outside my window in those areas. What did we do? We moved.
Ultimately you need to consider what it is you want from life. If I have to own a weapon to feel safe at home I am living in the wrong place. I realize one isn't always free to make these kinds of choices. I get it. I also have to question if owning a few guns is of any use whatsoever as it pertains to curtailing a corrupt or over-reaching government.
Perhaps my point is that, if we have to resort to an internal armed conflict to bring our government in line we will have already failed at so many levels that this will, at that time, in no way resemble the country I grew up in.
I was just referring to the effects of these variables on people's minds. I agree with you that it's almost always contextual, but you'll find the odd person or two that feel very strongly about a low odd potentiality and it can definitely make you feel like their are some crazies...
But I think everyone does this to some degree. If you cancel a marathon in Halifax because of a 5 seconds phone call to the police referencing a the Boston Bomber, then most understand that... However, when one looks at the facts, in my country no one has died from Terrorism in the last 9 years... a far fetched reason for this government power grab. So I don't know. Maybe the Gun Nuts are wrong, and they have nothing to fear. But maybe most of the populations of OECD countries are completely wrong in this manufactured fear.