“Carrying, owning or planning to use a firearm as a defensive weapon requires much careful consideration and is a very personal issue. Get all of the information you can, jiggle it around in your head, calculate risks, benefits and probabilities and make a decision for yourself. Keep in mind, that as new information is added and/or as you contemplate, you just might change your choice many times. This is absolutely acceptable.” –Shepard Humphries
I taught an NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home class last weekend, and one of the students was a retired lady. She loves riding her horses in the mountains where wolves, coyotes, bears and human predators roam, and she wanted something to defend herself. She was a smart and thoughtful lady. She had previously taken several basic pistol and armed protection classes, and because it had been some years, she wanted a refresher. She also wondered about her caliber, as she had been told by some that it was not big enough for personal protection.
This lady brought with her a .22 Ruger Mark II pistol with one magazine. As I lectured, I could tell that she was deep in thought. I discussed the cost of legal civil defense in the event of a shooting, and I offered numerous “what if” scenarios. I talked about the caliber necessary for stopping a bear, and that even a 9mm or a .45ACP was not sufficient to immediately stop a grizzly bear and that Pepper Spray was much more effective.
I discussed the goal of personal protection, and that no-where in the goal was a firearm a requirement. I said that while I am a “gun guy” they come with a great level of risk, and owners have a great responsibility. I explained probabilities and the potential for an unarmed attacker to become armed by taking a victim’s gun from them.
When we moved out to the range she shot well with her .22, but was not fast. Her gun handling skills were not great and she recognized her weaknesses. She realized from the Tueller Drill that even a skilled shooter was not very capable of smooth defensive actions.
At the end of the day, this lady made a thoughtful comment. She said, “You know, I have decided that I am not going to use this gun for self defense.” She went on to explain that with her particular situation, the amount of time she was willing to dedicate to practice, her comfort level with anything larger than a .22 caliber and other pacifist-leaning factors, she was not prepared to use a firearm to defend herself.
She said that she would keep it unloaded under her bed, but for right now, she planned to buy pepper spray to use as her primary defensive weapon.
I very much support her decision. My decision is different regarding my personal practices, however my set of circumstances is very different. As HCW instructor Gloria Courser says, “Our personal choices regarding self defense reflect not only our ideals but our limitations as well.” This is wise counsel, and we are all well advised to seriously analyze our unique situation, solicit counsel from those we trust, and make our decision for that moment, knowing it can change.