The Back Story:
When you live in Texas, someone tries to break-in, and you are a woman that lives alone – chances are that you start considering whether or not you should own a gun or a Doberman. When I found myself in that situation, I turned to a trusted source and authority on guns, Clayton Smith – former Naval Officer, husband, and dad – for a gun tutorial. (I decided I would hold off on the Doberman for now. You don’t need to walk a gun.)
First Things First
The first thing I learned – a gun is a weapon, and that’s the term that military personnel use in lieu of “gun”. That term put my situation in context for me. I have no problem whipping out a credit card to pay for a gun…looking for gun…but the thing about having a gun… you have to be willing to use it. Otherwise, the gun is just a decorative object – that can cause a lot of damage, and be used against you.
So, I had to check my fear and my gut “I’ll get a gun” reaction, and ask – would I actually use a gun? Getting one sounds easy. It is easy. Actually having the nerve to pull it out, aim, and fire… A big, weighty decision. Also, you have to learn how to use the gun – otherwise again – you have one dangerous paperweight on your hands.
3 Fundamental Gun Safety Tips
Whether you own a gun, are learning how to use one, or are just around one, Clayton walked me through life-saving fundamentals.
- The one time in life you should make an assumption – always assume a gun is loaded – always check it yourself to see if it is. NEVER take anyone else’s word.
- Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot
- Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire
You’d think these things would be common sense, but you really have to be mindful holding a gun. I found my finger naturally wanting to rest on the trigger. Eek.
Guns = Bruising? Huh?
I thought – hey – I’ll go test out a sampler of guns at the gun range. Maybe a rifle, PA-10 rifles, a shotgun, some handguns…then I’ll head over to my yoga class and do some downward facing dogs, maybe hit Trader Joe’s on the way home. Oh contraire. When a bullet is discharged from a gun, that energy must be absorbed somewhere, somehow, by something…like your arm or shoulder. Commonly referred to as “kick back,” the gun absorbs some of the energy, but not all of it. Women also tend to want to get a lighter gun. Well the heavier the gun, the more the gun absorbs. The lighter the gun, the more you will absorb. Oy vey. It’s simple physics that somehow escaped me from all of those years of James Bond flicks… every action creates an equal and opposite reaction.
I found out that the possibly of “post-gun practice” bruising and soreness would be high.
Two Hands and More
Another thing I cleared up – that Scarface style of shooting – gun in one or each hand. You are not shooting anything like that. You need to have both hands on the gun to shoot a target.
And again – having a gun means you have an intent to shoot a target.
Best Guns for Ladies
Clayton and I walked through guns for women – especially those of us on the petite side.
- Pistol – little kick back, good for close range
- 9 Millimeter – same as pistol
- 20 gauge shotgun – awesome, scary cocking sound
The range that a bullet will reach isn’t far on shotgun, but the shots spread wide. The 20 gauge shot gun still has that same intimidating cocking sound larger shotguns have. Hopefully, you could just get away with cocking it. Although, isn’t there an app for that? That cocking sound…hmmm….This weapon was still a little too big for me, but for that cocking sound – might be worth getting used to it.
Big Bad Bullet
The larger a number on a bullet, the larger it is in size, and the more damage it can do. Fairly simple concept. Here’s an innovation in bullet technology I was never aware of – the hollow point bullet – designed to expand once inside the target. By expanding, the bullet is designed to create more damage, and to remain inside the target. Scary, serious stuff.
You are responsible for a bullet until it stops. So, if it goes through a wall or window and hits an innocent bystander – that is your responsibility. Gun ownership carries serious consequences. You not only want the bullet to go into your target, you want it to stop there. Hence – the hollow point bullet mentioned above.
As I sat there across from a table full of weapons, I kept thinking – shooting someone – who has time for that? Aside from the emotional ramifications – think about the police report, the trial, the therapy visits…
3 Types of Weapons
- Handgun – (most common for women)
- Semi Automatic Weapon
- Automatic (Rambo style)
Handgun vs. Shotgun
For several reasons, ladies tend to go for small handguns. Small guns are easier to manage and wield. If a gun is too big and clunky, and you can’t get to it in time…well, that defeats the purpose of having the gun. However, the challenge with a small gun – it might do some damage, but ultimately, it might not stop the intruder. You might have to keep shooting and shooting. (Seriously, why can’t we all just get along.)
A shotgun on the other hand can definitely do some damage (provided that you can get to it, and can operate it quickly, etc.) As mentioned previously, the shotgun is meant for more of a close range, but the bullets spread wide.
Loaded vs. Unloaded
A seriously hot topic. To state the obvious – you can shoot faster if the gun is easy to access and loaded. However, the liability of a loaded gun…and it being used against you…
There are gun safes (like what you imagine) and something called speed boxes. Speed boxes give you access to your weapon in seconds via a numeric code and digit combo. There are also ammo boxes/safes as well.
Am I Getting a Gun?
I need to learn how to use one first. If I can successfully use a gun in target practice, and feel comfortable…a gun might be in my future. Although, you can cuddle with a Doberman…and they are a deterrent. Guns are only a deterrent when you are in the 11th hour.
Hospitality at Its Finest
As Clayton explained the nuances of each type of gun, I could see how guns could be a hobby – they are fascinating. It also became evident that guns are no different from my many plate collections from Anthropologie. Who cares how many plates I have, and why is it your business, anyway? For someone that has always been a little weirded out by guns, I started to get it. I like entertaining, and I like having options. And yes, there was a level of camaraderie and hospitality that was embodied by that assortment of guns on the kitchen table. I’m grateful for Clayton’s hospitality and knowledge.
Clayton owns and operates Mr. Sidewalk – a professional uneven sidewalk raising and walkway leveling business. If you need sidewalk repair, and are interested in supporting a veteran-owned business, and a cool dude: www.mrsidewalk.com