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Phoebe Parsons, 25, of White Rock participates in a Sporting Clay event at the Vancouver Gun Club in Richmond, B.C., March 25, 2012.

Amid the gun control debate raging in the U.S., we asked readers their reasons for being gun owners. Here are some of their responses. You can add yours by filling out the form at the bottom of the page.

I love to spend time with my friends and family target shooting. It is a very safe and rewarding sport, with a great community. While self-defense isn't a valid reason to own firearms in Canada, I have to admit I do sleep better knowing I have them in the house. I feel so much safer knowing that I could defend my family if they were threatened.

Drake Blemings, Waterloo, Ont.

I own a few guns, all exclusively for hunting. Ownership of guns for self-defense is, in my opinion, neither appropriate nor congruent with Canadian values and underpins many of the problems in the U.S. After all, "self-defense" means owning guns for the contingent purpose of shooting someone.

Ross Hedley, West Vancouver, B.C.

I have guns to hunt with, others to shoot for pleasure and some as collectables to enjoy for their mechanical beauty. My ownership does not make me feel any safer than any other resident of my city. It is not my job to protect myself or my family outside of the law. We have first-rate police, and our fine armed forces for that.

Mark Krasic, Toronto

I own a gun because I choose to.  Not for power, or to make up for "inadequacies".  I bear no ill intent towards anyone. It does not make me evil, or "a nut". I understand the responsibility involved. Why do people buy overpowered sports cars when a mid-size car will get them there just as safely?  From my perspective, someone who owns one of those is more likely to place others in danger by reckless driving than gun owners are likely to go out and shoot someone.

Doug Buckwald, Renfrew County, Ont.

I own a gun because I hunt. I own a gun because I target shoot. I own a gun because I'm a free man. I feel safer with a gun in the same way I feel safer with a seatbelt or a fire extinguisher; one more tool to protect myself and others with in the unlikely event that it is needed.

Daniel Styles, Pembroke, Ont.

I live in northwestern Quebec and there are great hunting opportunities in the region. My guns are locked up in the basement according to firearm regulations and I have never considered them as instruments for assuring my family's safety. I believe owning guns in Canada is a privilege and not a right, as many do, particularly in the U.S.

Brian Harvey, Rapide-Danseur, Que.

Yes I do own guns and it is purely because I love the mechanism, smell and the thrill you get when shooting. It is a great sport and also in the hands of a good law-abiding citizen it can serve as protection of life when it is not possible to escape from grievous bodily harm or even death. Yes a gun makes me feel safer as I know that in any given situation I would be able to defend myself and family if we were to be faced with the most lethal force.

Mathieu Dumas, Ottawa

Because I hunt. Because I enjoy shooting one (where it is safe and legal). Because I'm a law-abiding citizen who believes in defending myself and my family. In many rural areas of Canada, police response can take up to an hour or more, so having a means to self-defense is absolutely crucial. If someone breaks into my place, I will do what I must to defuse the situation, but also to defend my body and life.

Leo Sun, Victoria