By David Tong
The question is, what handgun should the average, informed person carry for self-defense? Many folks who possess a concealed handgun permit do not carry at all. This is an interesting phenomena in itself, probably derived from the bearer's evaluation of his or her personal environs or some particular purpose. This article purports to encourage the reader to think about what we "should" have on our persons.
No one expects or wants to use a defensive handgun for its intended purpose. It would be one of the worst things most of us could imagine. Not just because of the seeming "double-jeopardy" of criminal and civil legal action, but also the potential psychological trauma.
I believe that the most relevant practice for self defense should be with full power cartridges, so that one is very familiar with the recoil and muzzle blast. The handgun that is carried should be drawn from its usual holster, fanny pack, vest, pocket, or however it is normally carried. It should be fired at targets quickly and repeatedly, under time constraints. The purpose is to produce some level of healthy stress to the exercise. This establishes the performance baseline. Improvement is a continuous process.
(Excellent suggestions for those able to follow them. Unfortunately, most urban and suburban shooting ranges do not allow carrying a loaded gun to or from the firing line, or drawing a loaded gun on the premises, or even loading a gun that is not already pointed downrange from a specified firing position. Nor do they allow "rapid fire." Indeed, many people do not have any local gun range. It may not be ideal, but ANY practice is better than no practice at all. -Editor)
Accessories to be carried with a handgun should include at least one and preferably two reloads for the gun, a cell phone to call relevant authorities, a small flashlight for dark places or to light up an aggressor and a folding utility knife.
I have never been one to carry a back-up handgun, believing that is generally the purview of law enforcement officers. Besides, most modern handguns are so reliable and durable that it smacks of overkill--to me, anyway.
That said, I think it is incumbent to take intelligent precautions and to be prepared (Boy Scout's motto) for a reasonable worst-case scenario. I avoid deep urban areas after dark. I am unfamiliar with the drug and gang under-culture in the city where I live, but I am not ignorant of the potential for random violence. I think it is prudent to prepare for the worst-case, not the best-case, potential altercation.
Recently, Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson was acquitted by a grand jury of the self-defense fatal shooting of a teenager during an altercation. Said teenager stood some six-foot-four and weighed close to 300 pounds. Mr. Wilson was (very reasonably) afraid for his life and the welfare of his family should harm come to him.
He stated after the acquittal that he fired up to 12 shots and managed seven hits on his assailant. We must keep in mind that he was a police officer shooting a full size, .40 S&W caliber, semi-automatic service pistol and using jacketed hollow point ammunition.
It is incidents of this kind that tend to support my belief that having between 8-15 rounds of ammunition on hand is a wise course of action. One may be able to get away with less, but is it not better to be ready?
To recap, I do NOT relish the idea of using a firearm to protect myself or my loved ones. I do NOT look forward to that day and I don't wish it upon anyone.
I will end with a quote from the late Jeff Cooper. When asked why he always carried a pistol, he replied, "Evil exists out there. Be grateful there is a means to stop it."
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