The Mark of Abel
Gabrielle Adelade sits back and observes. She likes to arrive early, and watch things develop. That suits her employer, the Lone Star Review magazine: it makes her the best reporter on staff. Clayton Arnall, her publisher, has a special assignment. So many women are learning to shoot for protection he wants Gabrielle to buy a gun, take an advanced self-defense course, and write an expose on the process.
So she, and her faithful cairn terrier Pulitzer, set out to work all that in with the other stories she is working on. In the long run, though, is observing enough?
Pulitzer lay at Gabrielles feet, looking quizzically up at her. She sat at her kitchen table, looking down at the gun. It lay in its box. She didnt want to touch it. The Community Education class schedule lying beside it said she had toher first Personal Protection session started at seven, on the first Tuesday in October. That was an hour away.
"This is silly," she told him. "It isnt even loaded." She looked at it again. "I dont think."
Neither of them were counting on Gabrielle making a very dangerous enemy.
Real Life Self-Defense
For many people deciding to purchase a first firearm is an intensely personal experience. This is doubly true if the reason for the decision is personal protection. It can also be intensely liberating.
Taking responsibility for your own safety, and the safety of your loved ones, is a big step. So is firing your first shot. I have seen women approach it trembling. I suspect there are men who do the same, but they tend to hide it.
But in my experience as an instructor, any reasonably adult person can succeed in taking that step, and learn to safely and competently handle firearms. Doing so, particularly for those who thus lay aside an unreasonable fear of these tools, can be a mountaintop experience.
Those who do dont turn into maniacs. I have trained thousands of students. Overwhelmingly they appreciated the responsibility they were undertaking.
The first training Gabrielle undertakes is the National Rifle Association Personal Protection class. Thousands of NRA instructors nationwide teach it, and other basic firearm classes. It is good both for the new shooter whose only experience with a trigger is a spray bottle, and for experienced shooters as a review.
There are a number of nationally recognized courses focusing on different aspects of shooting. Most are open to people with clean police records. Most of them consist of shooting hundreds of rounds of ammunition to develop shooting skills while learning how to handle situations.
Most of the fifty states now have right-to-carry laws, where qualified individuals can get a license or permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. Most have some training requirement. Some states, like Texas, have designed a state-specific course that includes information on state laws pertaining to carrying and to justification of self-defense.
Gabrielles friend, Sarah Aguilar, is a good example of the kind of person who gets a license and carries regularly. Statistics indicate that they tend to be far more peaceful than the average person who is not licensed.
- ShootSafe, my school
- Texas Concealed Handgun Association, where Im a director and webmaster
- Cornered Cat, an excellent place to start
- NRA Gun Laws, for extensive information on state and federal firearms laws
Gabrielle's companion is a cairn terrier. Cairns are fiesty little dogs originally bred to dig burrowing pests out of stone cairns (piles of rock). They are independent, curious, hardy, and loyal. Their forgiving nature leads them to be very good with children.
My cairns, Andy and Corky, have gone to their reward. But while they were part of our family they helped raise our two daughters and eased our transition into the empty nest.
Like Pulitzer, they also were very protective.They earned our gratitude several times for alerting us to danger or, as was the case with a rather large rat, solving the problem on their own.