There are millions of Americans who carry handguns for defense. There are nearly endless conversations happening on the internet around the following topics. How is what follows different? I hope you will discover that through reading my thoughts on the topics here, but let me sum it up with one phrase: I don’t know it all and am always learning.

I hope you enjoy what follows and please comment or contact us with any input or questions. Look forward to future posts where I will expand on each of these topics and much more. 

Why Carry a Gun?

If you are reading this, you are probably interested in carrying a handgun for defense, if you do not already. There are many reasons to carry a gun. Though we may read news reports of violent crime and have our determination increased to carry more often or to start carrying at all, we carry guns not out of fear.

A gun is a tool which gives you options. The primary purpose of a handgun in this context is self-defense. Life is valuable and precious so it is good and right to defend life. This extends to the lives of others. For some, these are choppy waters as they may intend to only defend themselves, never a stranger they may encounter who is in need. I will address topics such as that in the future. For our purposes here, let us agree we are better able to defend ourselves and our loved ones if we carry a gun and are skilled, willing, and able to use it effectively if ever in that most serious of circumstances.

So if we are serious about protecting our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and possibly the lives of innocent strangers, there are a good many questions which need to be resolved. Some of these questions indeed have absolute right and wrong answers, others are indeed in a gray zone where different answers make sense for different people, in different circumstances.

I will share in future articles how I become a person who carries a handgun and why.

Tactical Gear

Without a doubt, most of the discussions in the gun community are based around the guns themselves. There is no doubt some universal truths around what makes for a “good gun”. We should guard ourselves against insisting everyone carry what we do, or else proclaiming they are making a bad decision. If a person is very accurate, fast, and highly trained with a single stack 9mm, how could I proclaim the 45 double stack is better for them? These conversations will continue to dominate the gun community and that is fine, but I would like to encourage the conversations to be based more upon facts and data and less on unfounded opinions or beliefs.

I have evolved some on this topic myself. So long as a gun is well built, reliable, and of an acceptable capacity and caliber then I will not try to talk anyone out of carrying it. It has a thumb safety whereas I do not prefer one? That doesn’t make it a bad gun, so long as you train to use it. This is the sort of nuanced conversation which I wish to promote. Examine the gear objectively. So long as it is not poorly built or unsafe, acknowledge the reality around it in terms of benefits and drawbacks. Once those have been determined, train and practice accordingly and enjoy.

Look forward to gear reviews and discussions of new gear hitting the market.

Training vs Practice

Basically, training is learning how to do something. Then you go and practice that over and over. I recently took the Combative Pistol course offered by Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives. I went to this class to learn and grow, not to practice. We should attend whatever training we can, then return to our home ranges to practice those skills. Also, much practice can be done safely at home without having to spend a dollar.

High-level competitors may dry fire a thousand times forever live round fired. For all of us, time is limited and very valuable. If we can learn the correct things via training, then practice as much as we can at home, our time spent applying those skills in practice at the range can be well spent.

In the future, I will go over some of the dry fire drills which can be done at home which will greatly benefit you.

Competition

Shooting a pistol match introduces some positive aspects, which training and practice may not. Competing against others and having to handle situations for which you were unable to prepare, force the shooter to deal with stress. When under stress we find out just how highly developed our skills are from training and practice sessions. Competing can also teach us some bad habits when it comes to applying our defensive pistol skills.

My experience in competition is limited to a handful of International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) matches. I have a 3 Gun match planned this year and that will be a learning experience for sure. Look for my After Action Review (AAR) from that match later this year.

Mindset

One of the least well-understood aspects of handgun defense is needing the correct mindset. In contrast to what many anti-gun campaigners may make us out to be, none of us are eager to take a life, even to save a life. However, we must condition ourselves to be willing to do so.

This is a delicate subject indeed but it needs to be examined. Having the appropriate reverence for life, I will discuss this in the future in proper terms.

Background and What’s to Come

I first became interested in carrying a handgun for self-defense about 6 years ago now.  I have learned many good things in that relatively brief time. I have also unlearned some bad or wrong things, which I either believed based upon the wrong reasons or of which I convinced myself otherwise. It has been a journey and one of continual learning.

In this space, I intend to explore not only the topics discussed briefly above but a wide variety of gun-related topics which I think you will enjoy and from which you can learn. In all of it, I seek to maintain humility and a commitment to be constantly re-examining what I have learned and open to learning through new information and experiences.

Please ask any comments or questions you may have. I look forward to sharing what I have learned, continuing to learn, and connecting with the readers as we all work towards our goals in handgun defense.