Hels recently commented on her own blog that we Australians and British do not understand the Patriot Movement in the US, nor the need to own guns, and she is quite right. We do not.
Growing up on a farm I have some knowledge of guns, that is how to use them. But to use them on a human being is whole other kettle of fish. (ok, yes I did shoot a slug gun (air rifle) pellet at my brother, but he was being very annoying and deserved it. Sadly I missed).
I've fired a .22 and a .303 along with a very old gun from one of the world wars but I forget its name (Enfield? No, I remember now, a Martini). They were my father's guns and not registered as they have bee legally required to be here, nor securely locked away and my step mother had possession of them until a few years ago. I think she stored them in the ceiling space. She asked us, Father's children if any of us wanted them and we all said no and so she took them to the police station to be crushed, no questions asked.
Now, I am trying to put myself in the situation. If I am in house in the countryside and someone was clearly up to no good on my property, I could fire a warning shot and I expect they would take off. Actually, my father did that once on the farm when someone was stealing petrol from our large storage tank and it worked.
But, what if the intruder was in your home and confronting you with either a knife of a gun? While there is a possibility of sexual assault, the mostly likely reason is to steal something of yours. Can you shoot him, mostly likely a him? I could not. Maybe if I was being attacked, but then it would probably be too late.
So aside from warning shots, I really don't understand American gun culture.