Monday, February 06, 2006

Pick On Someone Your Own Caliber

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Duane over at recounts several episodes of violence against gay people, including the Massachusetts case of Jacob Robida. In case you haven't heard, Robida is the neo-Nazi who walked into a gay bar and started flailing a hatchet at patrons before opening fire with a handgun. He then apparently abducted an ex-girlfriend, whom he killed, and shot an Arkansas police officer to death before other cops finally popped a couple of holes in this dirtbag and sent him to Hell. Duane also tells of another story out of London:

In London, a gay couple's house was set on fire, and other gay people have been attacked and beaten in the streets. They believe it is a backlash to the legalization of gay civil unions in Britain. The police are recommending that gays, lesbians, and transgenders be as careful as possible when walking outside.

Duane goes on to lament the state of our culture in which gays must worry about physical violence. However, I was struck by the police's advice. "Be as careful as possible." That's the best you've got, bobbies? I guess so in a country where you cannot use lethal force to defend yourself.

But here in America, we have another option -- which became a topic of discussion among a group of BaT friends: Arm yourself, train yourself and protect yourself. It's not only in the United States. The Swiss certainly understand that a well-armed society is a polite society. In Switzerland, it is law that each home is equipped with a gun. And this in a country known for its neutrality -- and for the fact that only Napoleon has invaded Switzerland since the 12th century.

These are my words of advice to every gay person I meet: Obtain a RtC permit and use it. What is an RtC, one friend of BaT asks? RtC stands for "right to carry." It's the correct term for "a concealed weapons permit," which the anti-self-defense groups like to use because "concealed" sounds more ominous. Thirty-eight states have RtC laws for qualifying citizens. Among the 12 that don't are some of the worst crime statistics. If you are unfortunate to live in one of those dozen states then you have to make a moral judgment on what is more important to you.

Owning a firearm for personal protection carries with it a great responsibility. You must receive proper training, both for your own safety and for others. Local law enforcement agencies often offer regular training classes, as do private firing ranges where most of the instructors are former military or police experts. I was training by a former SWAT member. Once you have received proper training, there are several like-minded groups you can join to sharpen your skills and help you navigate the permitting process. My favorite is Pink Pistols, a GLBT-friendly organization. They have local chapters throughout the country, and I've always found them to be a great bunch of people.

You should also secure your weapons, so that only you (or your partner, if you trust them with a gun and he/she has received proper training, as well) may use them. Gun locks are an excellent idea (at times -- more on that in a bit), and some states require that you purchase one when you buy a gun.

Which leads us to the two questions I am asked the most:

1. What gun is right for me?

2. Do you use gun locks?

Let's address Question 2 first. Yes, I have gun locks for all of my firearms. With only one exception, all of my firearms are locked. (A little background: A gun lock is a device which secures the trigger with a mechanism that prevents accidental firing. You must have a key or a combination to unlock the guard. This prevents stolen guns from being used or keeps children and other untrained people from hurting themselves or others.)

However, when I am carrying the weapon on my person, I do not lock it. Also, the firearm closest to me at night is unlocked. I do not have children living with me, nor do I want to take the time to unlock and load a weapon in a time of need. If children are at the house, the lock goes on. If I am transporting the gun or leaving it unattended, the lock goes on. I have this lock on my guns. It doesn't require a key, but uses a combination and has a lighted keypad. You can also buy key locks, but in darkness and confusion, I do not want to bother with a key.

Now, onto which gun is right for you. There are many schools of thought. I suggest you find a qualified instructor and a gun range which "rents" firearms for practice. You can then pick and choose until you find a gun that's right for you. Many people will suggest that a first-timer go with a low-caliber sidearm, such as a .22. While that may be good advice for those starting to shoot, I would not purchase one for self-defense purposes. When only one or two shots is all you get, you'll want the stopping power of a larger-caliber gun.

Then there's the semiautomatic vs. revolver debate. Semiautomatics can jam, which isn't pleasant if you really need to use it. This jamming is usually less about the gun's quality and more about the user's inability to correct hold it. Revolvers are simpler guns. However, they also carry very limited rounds -- usually six to eight "bullets." Semiautomatics, depending on state gun laws, carry anywhere from 10 to 15 rounds. So, if you're new and don't plan on sport shooting, I would recommend a revolver. It's close to dummy-proof for the novice. A word of advice on revolvers, however. But a snub-nose weapon (i.e., a shorter barrel). If in a close-up struggle, you don't not want to give the bad guy a good grip on your weapon.

Personally, I do not own a revolver anymore. When I did, I went with a Smith & Wesson .38 like this one. What I am carrying -- legally, mind you, as I live in a RtC state and I have a police-issued permit -- are one of these two: a Makarov .380 or a SIG P226 9 mm. Both are excellent weapons -- the Makarov the preferred sidearm of the Russian Army and the SIG produced by the Swiss, who know a little something about precision.

I don't make specific gun recommendations, as that is up to you, your instructor and your trusted firearms dealers. But I do recommend that you purchase your firearm new from a reputable dealer and a reputable company. No pawn shops, no knockoffs. Like with everything else, you get what you pay for -- and this purchase isn't something you want to skimp on.

P.S.: If you are anti-self-defense, then save your breath. You won't convince me with any argument, lame or otherwise, that I do not have the capability or right to protect myself -- especially if you are the same sort who will also say that we must "understand" why people commit crimes. No, I don't have to understand sh*t, and I'll take my chances with my 25 years of firearms knowledge over waiting 5 minutes while 911 responds.

As the T-shirt once said, "I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6."

UPDATE: Thanks to BfT and Bruce at Gay Patriot for the link love. Go here and here to read some of the comments for and against this post. Also, this points out that I never added GP to the blog roll. That's now corrected. I'm not a Republican, but I sure find that they agree with me more than I agree with them -- or that I thought I agreed with them.

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