Dr. Shackelford of The Jawa Report has concluded, after the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting, that he's going to buy a gun. The "Armed Liberal" at Winds of Change has some advice for others considering the same purchase, and his commenters have more. Much more. Here's my 2¢:
Good advice, and not so good advice. But I'm glad the topic has come up.Go read the whole thing.
Armed Liberal advises: "First, go sleep on it. Owning a gun is, more than anything, a responsibility (one this too many people take far too lightly). You are responsible for the gun 24/7; are you prepared for that? Owning a gun doesn't intrinsically make you safer; Jeff Cooper famously said that 'owning a gun doesn't make you a shooter any more than owning a piano makes you a musician'."
As I recall, the quote goes more: "Owning a gun doesn't make you armed..." - a subtle but pertinent point. Even shooters aren't necessarily "armed" when it comes to the mindset necessary to defend oneself or others. A lot of people are "shooters" - and keep their trap & skeet shotguns or target pistols locked up in safes at home. They own guns, but are not "armed."
There's a lot of advice in this comment thread - some of it good, most of it not. If you read Dr. Shackelford's declaration and said to yourself, "He's right, I should too," then avail yourself of one of the blogosphere's myriad useful features, the gunbloggers. There's 107 of us at last count. Most of us are reachable by email and we're happy to answer questions. Or, if you're interested in the idea, but unsure for certain you want to go the distance and buy a gun, check out this list of people who will give introductory instruction - free of charge, using our own firearms and ammunition. We're all over the country.
Now, on to some of the more excellent to egregious comments.
Comment #1 from Gunshy has already been handled ably by others. My comment: Do some research. You'd be surprised.
Comment #13 from ed: While it's true that handguns are not particularly effective weapons at dropping an assailant at one shot, most defensive shootings occur at ranges of 21' (yes, feet) or less. A 4" barrelled revolver is adequately accurate at that range, if the operator does his job properly. At 21' or less, it is quite possible that an assailant can cover the distance to the defender rapidly enough to get inside the swing of the barrel of a shotgun, rendering it ineffective. But even a .38 snubbie works quite well if it's pressed against flesh. Handguns are useful. So are shotguns. But they are not interchangeable. Handguns are more convenient. That's why cops don't carry their riot guns while writing traffic tickets.
Comment #20 from celebrim: Bravo, sir! I've archived that one.
Comment #26 from blabberjabber: Again, skillfully handled by others. The lowest number of self-defense incidents I've ever seen came from a Bureau of Justice Statistics study. It was 168,000 defensive gun uses annually. That's 460 a day. How many does there need to be to make gun ownership justifiable?
Comment #28 from David Blue: Thank you for your sentiment. I feel for you.
Comment #29 from Conrad, who wrote: "Someone who carries a sidearm in order to defend his country against terrorists is a buffoon." Tell that to the victims of the shooter in Seattle. The only one armed there was the terrorist. (And yes, he was a terrorist. Why do you think he shot only women?)
Comment #41 from Ric Locke: Hear hear! Absolutely correct - and completely ignored by those unwilling to "to participate rather than being a passive member of society."
Comment #45 from hmmmm, who wrote: "If you think your life is in imminent danger and desparately need a real gun, seek help. Move. Get a restraining order. Don't get a gun unless you are ready to kill someone, because that is what is going to happen." I suggest you read the blog of Zendo Deb at wheelgun.blogspot.com. Her specialty is citing story after story of people who have done all that you suggest - and still end up dead. She also covers stories that turn out somewhat better - when a defender is armed.