Thursday, June 16, 2011

Regarding Firearms, Personal Protection and Safety

Anyone who thinks through the implications of having a firearm available in the event of a serious threat soon realizes that compromises have to be made between protection and safety.

I have talked with several NRA certified instructors, and they all believed that a loaded revolver, kept handy, was the only way to go: loaded, because an unloaded handgun is useless, and a revolver, because of its reliability and simplicity. Nevertheless, I have made different choices because I believe that an accident with a handgun is much more likely than its use as intended.

I had a license to carry in Massachusetts for 30 years, and now that I am a Florida resident, I have one here. Not once have I ever had to use or even show a firearm in all that time. I have chosen to own two semiautomatic .380 pistols, a Walther PPK and a Kel-tec P3. I chose a .380 caliber because that is the smallest round that will stop an attacker if a non-lethal spot is hit.

My biggest fear with handguns has always been that a child would gain access to one and have a terrible accident. I chose pistols over revolvers because you can keep the chamber empty until a threat is perceived, and many pistols have external safety switches as well, which revolvers do not. You can also keep the clip separate from the pistol. The NRA instructors scoff at this, maintaining that, in the heat of the moment, the average person will fumble getting the pistol ready to shoot. I decided that I would just have to live with that. Pistols are also easier to carry on your person because they are flatter and smaller than the typical revolver.

I bought the Walther PPK many years ago. It has every feature one could want and is a marvel of design and workmanship. It is both single and double-action and has an external safety switch. It is very accurate and reliable, and it has a pin that sticks out when a round is in the chamber. Its only disadvantage is that it is a little heavy to carry. That is why I also bought the Kel-tec P3 to carry, which is very light and so small, it looks like a child’s cap gun. You could keep it comfortably in your pocket. The Kel-tec’s grip and lower body is made of plastic; the frame is aluminum, and the firing mechanism, the barrel and the slide are hardened steel. Even though there is little danger of an accidental firing because the hammer is recessed, and there is a trigger safety, I still carry it without a round in the chamber.

Another thing I like about both the Walther and the Kel-tec, having originally learned how to shoot and clean a Colt 1911 A1 (which are a bitch to clean without taking someone’s eye out with the recoil spring), is that they are both easy to disassemble, clean and reassemble.

I carry the Kel-tec and keep the Walther in my nightstand, and I made a small change in my handling of the Walther; I decided later in life to move a bit toward protection and away from safety. In the movies you always see someone who hears a noise in the night call out, “Who’s there?”. In real life this is the last thing you want to do. In real life you want to surprise the intruder, not the other way around. You want to approach in complete silence until you understand the situation; therefore you do not want to pull back the slide on your pistol. That makes a very loud sound in the middle of the night. Since there is virtually no chance of a child being in my condo now (when grandchildren visit I lock up my guns), I do keep a round in the chamber of the Walther, and I keep the safety on.

When I was a younger man with children in the house I kept my firearms secret and locked up at all times. There are two schools of thought on this. One is to teach your children all about guns and how to handle and to shoot them. The other theory is the one I followed. There were always so many children, stepchildren and playmates in and out of my house that I felt I had to keep the guns secure, out of sight and out of mind.


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At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russ, I think your comments make a lot of sense. Had you talked about owning a weapon 15-20 years ago, I would have held a very different position about owning a gun (pistol/revolver). Today, our society I believe is very much more violent. Most of that having to do with illegal drugs, gangs, and general decline of morals/ethics and lack of respect for others (decline in ethics, morals, value of life itself, etc) I think it is wise for anyone to carry a weapon (legally).

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

A great post Russ. I really learned something from this.

Meanwhile, the stinking Democrats in "The People's Republic of Massachusetts" are coming out with a lot of anti-gun bills right now as we speak. It really blows my mind why people vote for them. They only know how to raise your taxes and take your guns away.


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