So if you or friends are in that latter category, considering a gun for the first time in your life out of concern for your security, please heed my advice. First, if you cannot morally reconcile in your mind the taking of another human life do not get a gun for self-defense. Guns are lethal. Find a non-lethal option. Second, owning a gun makes you no more secure than owning a car qualifies you as a NASCAR driver. Using a gun for security infers a responsibility to know the weapon, plan for its use, and practice with it. I can’t tell you how many times concealed carry permit holders have come in to the store who don’t know the model gun they have nor have they shot the gun.
Why is this important? Run the possible defensive scenarios you could face through your mind. Now look at these facts. Personal defense shooting situations usually occur within three seconds and only 2 – 3 shots are fired. They also occur within seven yards. Now it may start out slowing but typically escalates quickly. That is why you hear that old saying, “When seconds count the police are only minutes away.” If you carry a holstered handgun, when you draw the gun the decision is already made to shoot. As you draw the gun the safety comes off (if it has a thumb safety) and you aim the gun in one motion. During that split second of drawing you must have enough situational awareness to make the decision to move your trigger finger from the frame to the trigger to fire.
Not having that level of proficiency allows two scenarios. The perpetrator gets off the first shot and you are dead or wounded, or in your hesitation they take the gun from you and shoot you with it. Seven yards is not that long and a bad guy can close the distance in a couple of seconds. We know you can’t go to the range every day, but should as much as possible. But you can practice your draw and fire with an empty gun using snap caps in your home to work on that timing.
If you are a first time gun purchaser we recommend you spend time with an NRA certified instructor learning handgun basics and safety. They don’t do it for free but it will be money well spent because it will increase your confidence in both the gun and your own ability. As I said before, owning a gun for security is a huge responsibility. By doing so you are now reconciled to take another human life to save your own. You can only accomplish that through proper training.
If you are not willing to make that commitment, choose a non-lethal option. The next step down is probably a civilian Taser that operates at a shorter range than law enforcement models and are designed to incapacitate a threat giving you time to leave the area and call police. Most other options including pepper spray and stun guns require you to be very close to the threat, usually arms length to five feet. In my mind that is too close.
People in this country are right to be concerned about their safety. There are both local threats and now as we see in California an existential threat from Islamic terrorist. We should not take the threats lightly. But when we do prepare ourselves for security there are some crucial questions that we must ask ourselves before choosing the right option to meet our needs. There is no silver bullet solution, and definitely not guns. But if that is your choice, you owe it to yourself and your family to do it properly.