This blog is based on an interview I did on Facebook live May 5, 2020, as part of my Tips with Trish series. You can watch the interview here.
One of the most common questions I get asked is: “Should I get a gun for self-defense?” As a retired police lieutenant, I have a lot of experience with firearms. While I don’t conduct classes on guns, I have a lot of experience with gun ownership and safety and have some advice for any woman considering purchasing a gun for self-defense.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Gun Ownership?
The first question you need to ask yourself when you’re considering buying a gun is: Am I willing to accept killing another person? Firearms are lethal weapons, intended to eliminate a target. If you aren’t willing to accept that possibility any time you aim your weapon at someone, you aren’t ready to own a gun. (There are other self-defense tools you can use, though — I have a list below.)
Another question to ask yourself is why do you want a weapon? If you are a woman who lives alone or whose partner or spouse travels often, you may want a handgun in your nightstand to protect you in case of an intruder. Or if you are a runner and want to feel safer when you go on a run alone, you may consider a small handgun that you can conceal (with the proper permit, of course) in your waistband.
Knowing why you want a gun will also help you choose what kind you’d like, whether it’s a handgun or shotgun and if you want a semi-automatic. If you feel that a gun would enhance your personal safety and that you are willing to accept responsibility for it, you’re probably a good candidate for gun ownership.
Think About Others When Considering a Firearm
When thinking of buying a gun, you need to consider who in your life will be affected by it. Anyone you live with should be trained to recognize the importance of a loaded weapon and basic gun safety rules, even if they aren’t going to be using your gun themselves.
If you have young children in your house who aren’t old enough to be trained on gun safety, your home may not be a suitable place for a firearm. Additionally, if anyone in your house or anyone who visits your home has suicidal thoughts, keeping a firearm can be a dangerous issue. Suicide is the leading cause of gun death in America, and it’s important to keep guns away from anyone who may be feeling suicidal. Again, the lives of anyone impacted by your firearm are your responsibility.
Be Willing to Maintain Your Training
Another aspect of gun ownership is training. Ask yourself how much training you’re willing to take and maintain in order to own a firearm responsibly. Firearm and self-defense fundamental training classes are readily available and not necessarily expensive, but you need to be willing to go through them in order to be adept with responsible gun ownership.
Also, you will need to have time and space to practice shooting drills in a number of scenarios so that you can be confident with your firearm. As with any self-defense tool or system, confidence is the key to using it effectively when the time comes. Confidence comes through maintaining your training and being comfortable with your firearm, equipment, and shooting techniques.
I have a list of great gun training classes in New Mexico on my resources page.
Research Gun Laws in Your Home State and Others
Part of your training should include research into the laws in your state regarding registration, ownership, and how you can carry your firearm. I recommend getting a concealed carry permit, which will allow you to carry a gun in your purse or a holster under your clothes. As with other self-defense tools, guns are more useful if an attacker doesn’t know you have it.
Many states honor other states’ concealed carry permits, but it’s still important to understand other aspects of gun laws that may vary from state to state, such as where you can’t take a gun (like liquor stores or schools). You should also be aware of any gun storage requirements or what types of guns are legal in different jurisdictions. A good place to start your research is handgunlaw.us.
Other Self-Defense Tool Options
If owning a firearm is too much of a responsibility for you, first of all: good on you for admitting that. Better to be safe than sorry. But secondly, there are a number of other tools you can use to protect yourself. Some of them even come in fun colors and settings meant just for women.
Similar to home protection, I recommend layering your tools. You can start with something as small as a pen and move up to more advanced weapons from there. I recommend the following in order of the kind of damage they can do to an attacker:
- Body alarms or screechers
- Equalizer keychain
- Pepper spray
- Stun gun
- Machete (yes, I keep one in my home!)
As with any firearm, you have to be willing to accept responsibility for what the weapon can do to another person. Again, none of these is necessarily lethal, but you can still injure someone, whether on purpose or by accident. You should also be willing to practice with these tools and maintain your training.
If you’re interested in learning more about self-defense with or without a gun, contact me about setting up a class today.
You can watch the video interview about this topic below.
Tips with Trish
Posted by Women Against Crime LLC on Tuesday, May 5, 2020