Are guns an evil necessity?

When I was very young (and by very young I mean under the age of 7 years) my grandfather decided that it would be a good idea to have me use his rifle to try to shoot some glass bottles off of a log. He did not put any kind of ear protection on my head, and did not warn me that there would be any recoil. I probably weighed all of forty pounds, had never been around guns before, and this was a very new experience for me. I remember lying down on my stomach and propping the gun on a log, and aiming the gun. The noise was very loud, and the recoil was very painful. I was scared and hurt. I cried. That was the end of my wanting anything to do with guns.

Rifle (free clip art)
Rifle (free clip art)

Ever since then I have respected the right of individuals to own and enjoy guns, but I have avoided them. There have been so many terrible stories in the news all of my life about the horrible things that have been done with guns. I am a peace-loving person that would prefer to reason with people than to fight with them. As a middle child, I’ve always been a peace-maker, a negotiator, a diplomat. I’m a lover, not a fighter!

I have not wanted to look at, touch, or hear guns. When I was single, and dating guys, if they expressed any interest in guns, I broke up with them! That was a deal-breaker! I did not even want any guns in my house, out of fear of someone getting hurt.

But recent events with a neighbor who has threatened the safety of my family has forced me to reconsider my position. I reluctantly agreed to learn to handle a gun. Just in case I really needed to use one in self-defense. But I did so with great trepidation. What if the recoil hurt my hands, which already hurt so much from that traffic accident that I was in a few years ago? And so my gun-loving friends and relatives have come out in droves to encourage me to learn to shoot.

Browning Buckmark 22 handgun (free clip art)
Browning Buckmark 22 handgun (free clip art)

This week I agreed to “try” one of my stepfather’s guns while I was visiting with my parents at their house. I think that my agreeing to try it shocked us all – I have been very reluctant to have anything to do with guns up until this point. But I decided to “suck it up” and give it a try. I won’t lie about it – I was nervous. Very nervous. I almost wanted to cry when he put the gun in my hand! He gave me a Browning Buckmark 22 pistol to use. He gave me some ear protectors that looked like overgrown ear-muffs, and I put them on. I was surprised that I could still hear his voice a bit after I put them on!

I listened to his instructions, then took a deep breath to calm my nerves and turned towards the target. The target was twenty-five feet away, stapled to a wooden pallet and was actually at a bit of an angle away from me – I could not see it “straight on” so the circles were actually a bit smaller than if I had been able to see it “straight on.” I held the pistol with both hands, propped my elbow against a pole he had implanted in the ground, closed one eye, and aimed at the target. I was very aware of my breathing, and focused on keeping my breathing calm and steady. When I couldn’t “put it off” any longer, I tried to keep my hands steady (which is hard to do when you suffer from “essential tremors”) and very cautiously, slowly, squeezed the trigger. The recoil was a lot less than I expected, (the gun went upwards instead of back into the palm of my hand) and I actually hit the target! Unbelievable! I’ve always been terrible at sports when I had to aim at something – basketball, archery, bowling…. You name it, if I had to “aim” at something, I was horrible! But this shot actually was within the circles of the target! Amazing!

First time with 22 pistol 8-27-14
First time with 22 pistol 8-27-14

I put the gun down and went to inspect the hole for myself – yes, it really was there! I laughed and said “I can’t believe I actually hit the target! Must be beginner’s luck!” Then I proceeded to shoot again. I hit the target again! And again! I experimented with which eye to close, whether to have my left foot or right foot forward. Most of my shots hit within the circles – and quite a few hit within the bulls-eye rings! My step-father encouraged me to shoot 100 rounds, so I kept going. The most difficult part was loading the ammo into the clip – holding the spring-loaded clip open with my thumbs was painful, so I had to figure out a way to load the clips without using my thumbs to hold the clip open. It was awkward, and slow, but I managed.

By the end of the 100 rounds, I was firing the rounds off quickly, and my aim became more reckless, but I was experimenting to see how well I could shoot if I had to shoot several rounds off quickly. For the most part I still hit within the circles, so I was satisfied that this was something I might actually be able to do.

When we finished for the day he said “I think I’ve created a Monster” and I laughed, replying “Now people are going to start calling me Annie Oakley!” I took some pictures of the target, and texted my hubby with the picture. His reply was “Well well, Annie….” And so it begins…..

Today he took me to the range close to where I live, and I managed to get off 90 rounds. I used the same pistol as before. This time the target was only twenty feet away. I think I did better, but I don’t know if that’s because I am getting better, or if it is because the target was closer.

8-29-14 Opal VA 20 ft distance
8-29-14 Opal VA 20 ft distance

Now my hubby, step-father, and mother are all encouraging me to go out and buy a hand gun of my own. I went to Gander Mountain yesterday with my step-father while we were running errands to try to buy some ammo for his guns, and while we were there we consulted with the guys in the firearms department about their recommendation. I have small hands, and some physical concerns.

Bersa Thunder 380 (picture from Wikipedia)
Bersa Thunder 380 (picture from Wikipedia)

They recommended a Bersa Thunder 380. I was shocked to see how expensive guns are! They let me hold one in my hand, and I agreed that it felt “right” in my hand. As if a gun will ever feel “right” in my hand. But it had a good light weight to it, and felt well-balanced. They told me that if I wanted a gun for protection that a 22 caliber was not a good idea. (They said that if a guy was attacking me that the 22 caliber would just “piss him off” but that the 380 caliber would stop him. Since I don’t want to “piss off” an attacker, I guess that a 380 would be a better choice.) The told me that this Bersa Thunder 380 gun has very little recoil, and is very accurate. They explained that this type of gun had a different recoil that would be going back into my body more than upwards, and that should decrease the possibility of hurting my hands. (I’m not sure which type of recoil is actually “better” for me at this point!)

I was concerned about the barrel length because the Bersa barrel is shorter than the barrel of the 22 I was using, and I thought that a shorter barrel would be less accurate. My hubby tells me that the velocity of a 380 will make up for the shorter barrel. I don’t know that much about the logistics of guns, so I’ll have to trust him on that one! I like that the Bersa has an optional laser feature that could be used to increase accuracy. I like that idea a lot! If I’m trying to defend myself, that would be a big benefit!

I’ve been watching some YouTube video reviews about the Bersa Thunder 380, and I haven’t come across any negative information about the gun yet.

I don’t know if I will end up getting one or not. I’d like to try it out before I buy it, and I don’t know if there is anywhere around here that will let me test fire one before committing to the purchase.

Are guns an evil necessity? I hate to think that they are, but maybe they are. That makes me sad.

I’ll have to give this some serious consideration. My money doesn’t grow on trees, and I still am ambivalent about being a gun-owner. But I AM concerned about protecting myself against my crazy neighbor. I’ve already tried to get the police to help, and there really isn’t much they can do until he actually attacks/kills one of us….. what to do, what to do…