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L. Neil Smith's
Number 820, May 4, 2015

When Donald Trump is forced to train his weird,
alien hair to do a little dance for nickels in
a tin cup, then we'll know we've won.

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Oh No!!! Not ANOTHER Article on What Gun To Carry!!!
by Neale Osborn

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

This seems to be an ongoing topic in gun magazines, on-line gun forums and blogs, and half the conversations at the shooting range. This one MIGHT be a touch different, though. "Why?" I hear you ask. Read on, and see if I was correct!

Carrying a gun is a personal decision that NO ONE should take lightly. If you don't think you could shoot a human being, no matter what he is threatening to do to you or yours, DON'T CARRY! If you aren't going to go to the range and become familiar enough with your chosen gun that you can reliably hit a target 7 yards (21 feet) away every shot, DON'T CARRY! If you're not going to carry ALL the time, DON'T CARRY! If you cannot maintain "Situational Awareness" when you're out and about, keeping one hand free to draw at need, watching people around you, DON'T CARRY! If you are not prepared to honor signs on stores that prohibit carry on their premises, either be prepared to accept the consequences of violating the storeowner's right, or DON'T CARRY! And last, but certainly not least, if you are not willing to risk being tried by 12 of your peers for taking the life of a criminal attacker (which WILL happen in many states if you Do shoot) DON'T CARRY!

Despite the fact that (smallest number I could find) 195,000 Americans who defend their lives, their families, and their property every year with a gun NEVER KILL AN OFFENDER, or even fire a shot to wound or scare the perp, a gun is NOT a magic wand. mere possession of one does not guarantee you won't need it someday. Somewhere between 800 and 1200 of us each year DO kill a criminal with our gun, some at home, some on the streets. Owning a gun does not make you safe any more than owning a Corvette makes you a race car driver. You MUST practice with either to be good enough with one to do what would need to be done.

Personally, I carry one of three guns—a snub nosed revolver, a small semi-auto pistol, or a compact large-bore semi-auto. But we're not talking about ME, I've been carrying for over 25 years, and shooting since I was 5, 46 years ago. We're talking about Joe or Joan America, who is feeling that, greatly increased response times from the police, and the increasing violence of the thugs who Do commit crimes, they need to possess the means of self defense. So, what do you choose? There is no "One size fits all" approach. So here's what you ought to do.

First, I'd recommend a safety class. The NRA has instructors who offer them nearly every weekend in nice weather at outdoor ranges, and year round at indoor ranges. Take one, it's a great first step. THEN, find a local shooting range. Call them up, and ask them what days a lot of people shoot pistols. Go on one of those days. Since you took that class (you DID take one, didn't you??) now is the time to really start investigating WHAT to shoot. and here's how...... Talk to those shooting. We're a friendly, talkative group. we'll talk your ears off about our favorite gun, favorite caliber, local, state, and federal laws, whether to carry, what to carry, and how to carry. And we'll usually let ANYONE try out our guns.

Let me take a moment to talk about our bad reputation. If you only read the newspapers and watch mainstream media on TV, you KNOW that shooters all white men with beer guts, tattoos, pickup trucks, and a hatred of minorities, the gubmint, and anyone who isn't a Christian. This just isn't true. Yes, more gun owners are white than black. Of course, there's far more WHITES in the country than blacks, so that is to be expected. But we don't hate minorities. These days, half the people at the range are there in family groups. My wife is a better shot than I am. I'm agnostic, and don't care what faith you hold, as long as you don't try to force your faith on me. I've been a member of ranges and gun clubs across the country, and only met one or two people in the 45 years of shooting who actually fit the stereotype. So don't be afraid of us.

Now, you're at the range, there's 10 lanes occupied by groups of shooters. What do you do next? First, are you wearing shooting glasses (or your prescription glasses) and hearing protection? If not, get some before you get too close. Shooting involves burning gasses (the main reason for eye protection) and loud noises (do I REALLY need to say what this necessitates?), and you need to be safe. Next, introduce yourself. Don't be shy. TELL US why you're there. Within moments, you'll be surrounded by well meant (and often contradictory) info on what you "need". And you'll be offered the chance to shoot most guns there. ASK THE CALIBER of what you're trying out! ANYTHING with "magnum" in the name will probably kick—if this scares you, decline to shoot them. Anything that starts with "Forty....." or larger, stay away from if you aren't comfortable with recoil yet. I'd recommend offering to pay for some ammo, even though most of us will refuse it, just to be polite. Don't be shy, ask questions and TAKE NOTES IF YOU FIND SOMETHING GREAT (or horrible to shoot). If something just feels right in your hand, write down make, model, and caliber. Sometimes, you might need a few visits to find the right thing. patience WILL be rewarded.

So you've now found the gun that fits your hand, what next? Here's where I'm going to have to be a little careful. FOLLOW FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL FIREARMS LAWS. Do not, I repeat DO NOT just buy a gun from a guy at the range. Not until you know if that is legal in your state. Follow all laws regarding carry in your state. Just about every state offers copies of the laws on line. DO NOT BREAK THEM if you do not want to wind up in jail or worse. Some other time, I'll pontificate on my opinion of these laws, but this is not the place for that.

You will notice that I haven't told you what to carry. And I won't. The gun to carry is the gun you WILL carry. In my case, it's the three guns I mentioned above. I didn't put in calibers, models, and such because they are all MY personal choices. Yours might well be different. One last thought, then I'll let you go for now. Guns are not only dangerous, fun to shoot, and useful tools, they are valuable investments. If you maintain your gun according to the instruction manuals included with the gun, or available from the manufacturer if missing, after the initial "It isn't brand new and un-fired anymore" value drop, guns hold their value if you buy decent ones. Buy the best one you can afford that fits your hand. Engraving, pretty colors, and custom embellishments aren't necessary, but quality IS. So buy the best you can. MOST gun shops will be happy to let you look up their offerings in the current "Blue Book of Gun Values" or equivalent. IF they won't, shop somewhere else. It will list the values of that model in various conditions. Use it to determine if your model has maintained value, and choose the best you can afford. Did I mention buy the best you can afford? I hope you will join me, and millions of your fellow Americans in being armed citizens.

Reprinted from
Author's biography—Neale Osborn is a lifetime shooter, gunsmith, and (retired) plumber, who currently resides in western NY. He has carried, open and concealed, since 1989.

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