I like them. I enjoy shooting, I enjoy working on them.
If all goes to hell, having that option for self-defense is very comforting.
Haven't hunted in years, but I can; there's something special about being in the woods looking for meat.
History. Hold a Garand that went through WWII and maybe Korea, same for a M1 Carbine; it's a literal physical piece of American history. Same thing with lots of other firearms. One of my favorites: looked at what appeared to be a standard WWII K98 Mauser. Then you looked closer and the German markings on the receiver had been defaced, and on top of the ring was a six-pointed start. It was one of the rifles brought into what was then British Palestine by some people in real need of arms. It delights me to think of Hitler & Co. gnashing their teeth in hell at the knowledge that a bunch of Jews used Nazi-produced arms to help create and defend the state of Israel.
Because I can, because the founders of this country understood how powerful, how necessary is the right to arms of a free people. And rights not exercised, politicians tend to think they have some privilege to take away.
Reloading. Being able to roll your own ammo, whether to save money or tune loads to a particular gun, it's a wonderful thing. Recently went to the range with a friend and his son; back during some bad weather a year ago the son had spent a day at my house, and I'd taken him through reloading some .357 Mag ammo. He got to take ammo he'd put together and use it to make holes in targets; he liked it.
Back to that 'working on them' thing; looking at the inside of, say, a S&W revolver and watching what Tam once called the ballet that goes on inside as the action works; marveling at the way, say, a Colt Model M comes apart and goes back together; and all of it capable of controlling some really amazing amounts of pressure so as to direct a projectile downrange. Kind of marvelous.
One thing about the original questioning that does tick me off:
So the idea of going out and purposefully purchasing something that could be used to quite easily kill someone... someone who wouldn't have a chance to get close enough to fight back or defend themselves... it doesn't sit quite right with me.”
Well, assuming you're speaking of a law-abiding citizen, they won't be just going out and committing murder, will they? And in self-defense, well, I have news for you, Richochet: the whole idea of a firearm is to PREVENT an attacker from getting hold of you("...call on me, I'll Equalize"). I do not understand this attitude, that somehow keeping some thug from getting close enough to use a chain or knife or boots on me is somehow bad... I'm reminded of two things: one was the idiots in the SCA who thought guns for self-defense were bad because "It's not honorable to shoot someone that way," who'd talk with great enthusiasm about the knife or axe or sword they kept by the bed*. What the HELL does honor have to do with protecting yourself and family and home from some goblin intent on harm?
Second: ever read any of the Matt Helm novels? There was a passage in one that stuck with me, along the lines of "All anyone has to do to get along in peace with me is leave me and mine alone; it'll all be smiles and happiness. But if they threaten me I'll do whatever it takes; they open the door to violence, they've got no right to whine because more than they expected walks through."
For what it's worth, there's some of my reasons.
*Also not understood by me: shooting someone is horrible and awful, but sticking a couple of feet of steel in their guts, or opening up their body with a sharp edge, well, THAT'S just fine!