October 04, 2008


Last week, I decided to buy a handgun.

Actually, that's not such an accurate statement. Kim du Toit and Bill Whittle helped me decide to buy a handgun a long time ago. But I'm just now getting around to turning theory into reality.

Kim du Toit's goal of turning us back into a nation of riflemen worked on me. I began to see gun ownership in a whole new light after reading his site. And he's right that

after reading my stuff, people have come to realize that they don’t have to be ashamed of wanting to own a gun, of wanting to protect their families, of wanting to protect themselves, and of understanding that the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting, buddy.

I began to understand what Mrs. du Toit meant when she said:

I expected other people to protect me. I expected my husband to do it when he was home and I expected a cop to be there to rescue me if something happened to my husband. Yet I was perfectly happy for a criminal to be shot, by someone else, if he threatened me or my kids. Shame on me.

It was the realization of that hypocrisy that finally pushed me over the edge. I should not expect others to do for me what I am not willing to do for myself. I was the one whose morals were all screwed-up. How dare I think that someone else should risk his or her life for me (be it my husband or a police officer) if I wasn't willing to lift a finger for anyone else or even myself?

It was after this realization that the real meaning of the Second Amendment became crystal clear. Not only did I have the right to defend my country and myself, I had the RESPONSIBILITY to do so.

And his essay on Why I Own a Gun is crucial, especially the section on Civic Responsibility. Plus, in his discussion of the Second Amendment, he combines two of my loves, grammar and the Constitution:

Now for the penultimate phrase: ”the right of the people to keep and bear arms”. Not just “the people who can afford to buy a gun license”, or “only the police” or “only Mayor Daley’s bodyguards" -- it says, “the people” without qualification. Can’t be much plainer than that, really --

-- except perhaps for the last phrase: ”shall not be infringed.” Note carefully that the Second does not say, “Congress shall not” or “government shall not” or “Mayor Daley shall not”. The use of the passive voice is quite intentional: it is a clear, universal statement that the right to keep and bear arms cannot be circumscribed, by anyone or by any institution.

And that, my friends, is the perfect example of the role of passive voice. Take that, grammar check.

So Kim du Toit, who will be sorely missed when he retires from blogging soon, laid the foundation for me to accept my role as a gun owner. But Bill Whittle, he really solidified it for me. Allow me to repeat a quote from Freedom that changed so much for me:

We as a nation suffer an appalling number of handgun-related deaths each year -- perhaps 11,000 of them. The number is not important; each is a personal tragedy and those lives can never be replaced.

If we attempt to reduce this horrible number by banning handguns, we are taking away the property of a person who has broken no laws, by a government whose legitimacy is determined by a document that specifically allows that property, namely guns.

Destroy that trust by punishing the innocent, by pulling a plank from the Bill of Rights, and the contract between the government and the people falls apart. Once the Second Amendment goes, the First will soon follow, because if some unelected elite determines that the people can't be trusted with dangerous guns, then it's just a matter of time until they decide they can't be trusted with dangerous ideas, either. Dangerous ideas have killed many millions more people than dangerous handguns -- listen to the voices from the Gulag, the death camps, and all the blood-soaked killing fields through history.

The Framers, in their wisdom, put the 2nd Amendment there to give teeth to the revolutionary, unheard-of idea that the power rests with We The People. They did not depend on good will or promises. They made sure that when push came to shove, we'd be the ones doing the pushing and shoving, not the folks in Washington. And by the way, gun rights supporters are frequently mocked when they say it deters foreign invasion -- after all, come on, grow up, be realistic: Who's nuts enough to invade America? Exactly. It's unthinkable. Good. 2nd Amendment Mission 1 accomplished.

And thus I became a rifleman, even before owning a rifle.

And thus ends the poetics, and now we get down to the brass tacks of actually becoming an owner.

On Monday, I went to the webpage for our local sherriff's office. The link to info on handgun purchase is broken, naturally. I had to go down to the office, provide my driver's license and a thumbprint, and I got the paperwork. I needed a character witness, which proved a tad difficult. It had to be someone who lives in my county, who has this state's driver's license, and who has known me for more than six months. Finding someone who fit all three criteria was not easy; most of our military friends have licenses from other states. I ended up having to asking the girl who cuts my hair, which was a tad awkward. Luckily she said, "You just figured I was a redneck Republican who would agree to do this, didn't you? You were right!"

I returned the paperwork on Tuesday, and I picked up the permit on Friday. This afternoon I headed to the gun show and a couple of stores with my husband's friend. I haven't settled on one yet, but we plan to return next weekend to rent a couple at the range and see what is a good fit for me.

(And yes, I fully expect to get suggestions here.)

So Kim du Toit hooked another one in the twilight of his blogging. Plus, I got two permits, so I can buy one for my husband when he gets home too.

We're joining this nation of riflemen.

Posted by Sarah at October 4, 2008 11:05 PM | TrackBack

So I'm curious, which one are you thinking about? I'm a big Sigarms fan (though my Kimber is always handy).

Posted by: R1 at October 5, 2008 12:52 AM


Posted by: kannie at October 5, 2008 12:56 AM

Great minds, Sarah...great minds. :)

YES. We CAN go shooting.

We have lots of ranges around here. :)

Posted by: Guard Wife at October 5, 2008 12:25 PM

DH would like to know how much money you want to spend first.

Budget, alwasy preminent in the discussion of firearms.

Posted by: awtm at October 5, 2008 12:27 PM

Hopefully around $400, no more than $500 if possible.

Posted by: Sarah at October 5, 2008 12:35 PM

OK dear...

now DH is suggesting that the following might be good choices...


Springfield XD in the 45 cal

Springfield 1911 champion in the 45 cal


Remmington 870 express police model with an 181/2 inch barrel, or similar

Mossburg N 500

Mossburg makes a 410 that is specifically designed for ladies that has a front pistol grip, it is easy to shoot


Ruger mini 14

*of course this is all pending on your comfort and ability with each...

also note gas op rod, design AR type rifle.

such as made made Patriot ordinance very accurate, very easy to maintain, and can be used for a lifetime without lubrication.

spend the money for that and some sort of non magnified illuminated site...

such as the EO techcivilian model that takes AA battries...

*all of this will be intimidating, price wise, which is why purchasing a weapon is a BIG deal, but the high end is good and will hold value for a long time...an AR style with an adjustable stock, would make a weapon for both of you....

(Also note Sarah I have a pistol 22, Walter it is small, but I can shoot accurately with it. I like that as my carry around weapon. I am able to also shoot 9, etc...but I am still comfortable most with my 22. a good practice a ruger 10 22 is a fun weapon to practice with, and cheap to take out and shoot for the weekend, it is under $200. Enjoy and have fun. Pick what you want. Oh and I would urge you to become a member of the NRA, although you will get endless streams of mailings....)

Posted by: awtm at October 5, 2008 03:00 PM

I know exactly what AWTM means about endless mailings... I feel guilty for the NRA spending so much on double mailings for our one household, simply because DH and I are both members.
Welcome to the club!

Posted by: Green at October 5, 2008 03:35 PM

We get triple mailings, as 3 members in our house are life members.

Everytime I get something I am like..."preaching to the choir"...

I wrote them a note asking them to stop it...

Posted by: AWTM at October 5, 2008 04:13 PM

10-15 years ago my wife decided she wanted to get a gun (now 6). Neither of us is from a 'shooting' family, though we both had done some .22 rifle shooting as youth. When she told her family what she had done the universal response was "What in the world do you want a gun for?" Her reply is the absolute best I have ever heard anywhere: "Because 'they' don't want me to have one."
BTW, her first is still her favorite - a .22 Ruger single-action revolver; it's attractive, reliable, easy to handle, cheap to practice with, and it makes you think about each shot seperately.

Posted by: Glenmore at October 5, 2008 07:41 PM

I have a Glock 19 (9mm) with a 15 round magazine that I've owned for about 14-15 years.

Light, accurate and dependable. I've put thousands of rounds through it over the years. Hubs took it through the police academy and took "top gun" with it.

I've owned several other weapons since I bought the Glock, but it's the one I always go back to.

Hubs carries a Sig P226 and loves it.

I'll second the Remington 870 express as a shotgun. That puppy is a workhorse. We have the Combo - it's a little pricer, but with 2 barrels hubs uses for hunting, but the shorter barrel is onthe rest of the time. Easier to use in tighter quarters if ever needed for home defense.

Good luck in your hunt.

Posted by: Tink at October 5, 2008 08:38 PM


In your price range you want to buy a Glock 19, at least 6 magazines, and a great deal of ammo, think about 1000 rounds.

Posted by: Badger 6 at October 5, 2008 09:58 PM

I have a Lady Smith and Wesson .38 for general carry. I have a Taurus .22 lightweight short barrel for concealed carry (i.e. in my purse or boot). I have a Glock .9mm for when I'm feeling saucy. I have others but those are my staple carries. I have my eye on a .45 at the moment and a PPK but I'm broke.

Happy shooting.

Posted by: oddybobo at October 5, 2008 11:41 PM

Whatever handgun you end up getting, make sure it fits. Something you can hold well and doesn't beat the hell out of your wrist when you shoot it.

Practice will strengthen your wrist and later you can get something larger.

Rifles are the same way.

If you get a shotgun, I recommend a 20 gauge. Some will tell you that a 20 is too small, but so what? Recoil is far lighter than a 12 and with smaller buck you have just as many pellets to spread around.

Take your shotgun to the range and set up a bunch of blank targets. Shoot different loads from different manufacturers at different ranges...you'll see pellet spreads from different loads and you can select the best all around load for your shotgun and choke. (Its better to know this now than when you really need to know.)

Posted by: deskmerc at October 6, 2008 05:33 AM

I own a Springfield 1911 .45 and I couldn't be happier with it!

Posted by: Ashley at October 6, 2008 12:11 PM

My husband has a Kimber 1911, and I have a .38 Special revolver. My gun was my husband's Christmas gift to me the Christmas before we were married. I had never shot a gun, or even seen one in person outside of a display case, before meeting my husband. He was proud of buying me a gun. "Nothing says 'I trust this woman' like buying her a gun," he told his friends.

I still haven't gotten around to getting a concealed carry permit, though hubby has one. Our guns stay in the house anyway, unless we're going to a shooting range.

Posted by: Emily at October 6, 2008 02:29 PM

I plan on buying my first handgun soon, as well. But as I am an Ohio resident, I cannot buy here.

Are you planning to do concealed carry?

Posted by: Kasey at October 6, 2008 04:24 PM

I don't know how to add a picture to a comment, but this one is appropriate.
I own a rifle and a shotgun, but my wife and I are looking a his and hers pistols. She likes the Kahr P40 and I like the Kimber Ultra Carry II in .45 caliber. Welcome to responsible American adulthood!
You should email Kim and let him know of his influence and impact. He will be sorely missed when he retires from blogging.

Posted by: SciFiJim at October 6, 2008 05:38 PM

You mught look hard at a double action revolver in .38 Special or .357 Mag. There are bazillions of them on the used market.

The best thing about a DA revolver is that you don't need to worry about safeties or magazines or any of that nonsense. You want it to be safe, keep your finger off the trigger. You want it to go "BANG!" pull the trigger. It is that simple and there is much to be said for simple.

Posted by: Peter at October 7, 2008 01:56 AM


Congrats--but I gotta ask, did you need to buy a permit to carry (open), to carry concealed, or to own a gun at all? (Because if th answer is to option #3, you really need to move.)

Now then, on to specifics;
For simple, everyday home defense, Carren has an ultralight taurus 38.. It has no hammer to get hung up in anything, is small, and fits in her hand (or my left hand) well.

.38 is not my favoritest caliber, but it's loaded with +phollowpoints so it will do the job. It has a five-round cylinder, which is about all you'll need for most situations.

DO NOT rely on anything lower than .38 for self-defense. .380, .25., .32, .22, all fun plinking guns, but they have tiny bullets with tiny powder charges, and save for hea shots, will likely NEVER stop someone intent on hurting you. And by stop, I mean kill.

Okay, now that we've established a baseline for handguns, (and I'm not really tickled about the .38, I'd prefer a .357 or .40 for her) we should discuss long guns.

Forget a rifle for home defense, and I doubt you'll carry one in your purse. So we are left with shotguns. A double barrel shotgun has a wonderful threatening posture when pushed into someone's nose, but a semi-auto shotgun (a la the mossberg 500) has that beautiful sound from racking the chamber. That sound is often enough deterrent. Go with the mossberg. you should be able to find one for under $300, if not, I'll sell youone of mine. (I traded a lawnmower for one.)

If you do want to get into semi-auto rifles, I suggest mil-surplus, as they are usually plentiful, relatively inexpensive, and generally reliable. An M1 carbine (not the garand) is a good starter. the Carbine shoots a .30 caliber pistol cartridge, and is easy on recoil. (The garand shoots the .30-06 and after a hundred rounds or so, bruises my shoulder pretty good.

The M4/M16 family, even in the .223 poodleshooter cartridge, is acceptable, as is any AK-47 variant (plus, they look great when you're doing the happy dance on the lawn.)

Back to the original question. You need a gun to fit your hand, first and formost. Large-frame pistols (the 1911 comes to mind) likely will not. But then again, it may. Try them out at the range or gun store. On the range, if you ask, most folks will let you shoot their guns, especially if you tell them you are new to shooting.

Caliber is secondary to frame. If you can't hold it, you can't shoot it. after frame, caliber comes to play. Ammo cost can be prohibitive, so I choose to stick to .40 cal, which is just as effective as .45, and usually 2/3 the cost. 9mm is cheap and plentiful, but I think it's an underpowered cartridge (although most 9mm pistols have large cap magazines, offsetting the weak bullet). That being said, I'd take a 9mm over a .38. .357, 44. and .50 are monster rounds, and if you don't have a heavy frame pistol, will start to hurt your wrist after a few shots--the weight of the frame does help absorb recoil.

a .22 pistol is great for plinking, and will help strengthen the wrist for hose larger calibers.

Yuo'll need to schedule lots of time for the range, and (despite what hubby says he can teach you) you really should look to training from a certified instuctor. They can make light years of difference in how fast you progress in terms of accuracy and speed. Repetiton of bad habits only makes you more dangerous to everyone, including yourself.

Finally, ammo. For home defense, your only choice should be frangible ammunition. It WILL NOT penetrate walls, even plasterboard walls. It will, however, make big holes in people/dogs/groundhogs. This is important because you don't want an errant round (or ricochet) to go bouncing aruond the nursery, or worse, into the TV. you can even get frangible buckshot or slug rounds for your shotgun.

For serious, if you really want to talk guns or have any other questions, you have my numbah.


Posted by: Chuck at October 7, 2008 01:21 PM