About owning a gun

In my previous post, I talked about the different ways that I’ve found to feel safer in my home and community. One of those ways was purchasing a gun. This is, of course, a very personal decision. It is not a decision you should rush into. The first, and most important question to ask yourself is, “If someone is coming after you, or someone you love, would you really be able to shoot, and kill them? Really?” If the answer is yes, then you should consider it. If not, just don’t. I would highly recommend a book called The Cornered Cat. This book is from a woman’s perspective of owning a gun, and many considerations you should make.

If you’ve decided that you would like to purchase a gun, you need to do some research. Learn the local laws on owning a gun. Some states require registration, some do not. You may need a license. There may be restrictions on when and where you can have the gun. Be sure to research the laws before you purchase.

Beyond just researching the laws, you also want to determine what type of gun you are most comfortable with. Grab a friend and head to a gun range. Try different guns – .22, 9m, .45, etc. Try different sizes, different calibers, different grips, and see what you feel comfortable with. My first gun I really liked, but the grip was too large and I just couldn’t hold it as well as I needed to. Be sure the gun you end up with fits your hand and is comfortable to you.

Once you’ve done the research and purchased your gun, you need to keep it accessible and safe in your home. Here are some tips on keeping a gun in your home:

Basic Gun Handling & Safety

If you own a gun, you need to know the basics of firearms safety. There are many variations of firearms safety rules they can be summarized into four basic easy-to-remember rules. These rules build upon each other and are almost bulletproof (pardon the pun).

1. All guns are always loaded

Treat all guns as if they’re loaded, even if someone told you it’s empty or you know that the gun was empty before. Check it again. It is always a good practice to check the gun to see if it’s really empty every time you pick it up. Ammunition has a strange way of finding itself in the gun. Check the gun, by first removing the magazine, then pulling the slide back and looking into the chamber for any ammunition.

2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy

Imagine a laser beam coming out of the muzzle and don’t sweep or point it at anything you don’t wish to destroy. By following this rule, if you fail to follow one or more of the other rules and the gun goes off, the bullet will not hit anything important.

A good, safe way to hold the gun is with your muzzle pointing down, not up like Charlie’s Angels (which is an insanely bad way of carrying a gun). If the gun goes off pointing up, it’ll go through the roof and kill someone nearby when it comes back down.

IMG_37583. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target

With all the modern safeties in guns these days, guns cannot go off on their own. It’s physically impossible for a gun to go off if you did not pull the trigger. So, make sure that when you handle the gun, your trigger finger is straight along the side of the gun, until you have the sights on target and you’re sure that you’re ready to shoot.

IMG_37614. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Be sure of what you are shooting and what is beyond. If it’s dark, as it most likely will be in a violent encounter, you need to be sure the person you’re shooting is not someone you know. That’s why a light is important to identify your opponent. Also, bullets go through almost everything in the home, especially dry-wall. Make sure you know what’s behind your target as well. You don’t want to accidentally send a round through your opponent, the wall behind, and your friend or loved one in the other room.

IMG_3763Gun storage

Finding a place to store your gun is important. You want to be sure that it is kept in a safe, dry place. Safe away from prying eyes/hands and yet, it should be easy for you to retrieve it when the need arises. I keep my Colt 1911 in a gun case, locked and loaded, under my bed. I don’t have kids and friends rarely come into my bedroom anyway. It’s there so I can get to it when something happens at home. My ammunition is kept in ammo boxes that you can buy at most Surplus stores for $10-15 each. These are sturdy metal boxes that are waterproof. I also keep my cleaning equipment in them.

Gun Use

Owning a gun is not enough, you need to be comfortable with it. Shoot it often. Find a gun range that has ladies night where you get to shoot for free. Drag some of your co-workers or friends along and practice shooting your gun. It’ll keep your skills up, get you comfortable handling a gun and ensure that you gun is always operational.

Maintaining a gun

Once you’ve shot it, clean it. As with every other hardware you own, like your house or car, cleanliness is important. Some people might tell you that you don’t need to clean certain guns, but doing it will ensure dirt and grime won’t build up and run the risk of causing a malfunction. Also a clean gun is a mark of respect for it. By knowing how to take apart your gun and clean it, you’ll build confidence in handling it.

What to do when friends are around?

Are you just hosting a party? Or are you having house guests staying with you? As for a party, leaving your gun under the bed is a safe place to store it as no-one will usually be in your bedroom during the party. If you’re having a house guest, have an open conversation about it and find out what they are comfortable. If you trust them, leave the gun where you normally do. If not, be sure to hide and lock it away during their stay.

When travelling

If you own a gun, it is your responsibility to ensure that the gun will never fall into someone else’s hands, or worse, used in a crime. The best thing to do here is to invest in a safe, not only to store a gun, but your other valuables as well. Have the safe kept in a safe place and bolted to the ground. If you don’t have a safe, and know that you’ll be travelling for a while, then perhaps the best way would be to ask a friend to keep it for you. Make sure your friend is comfortable with keeping/caring for your gun and that he/she is trustworthy.
There is plenty more I could cover, but honestly, I don’t want to start a gun blog. Please, do your research. Use some common sense. And do all you can to ensure your own safety.

Feeling safe in your own home

I truly love living alone. But, I have to admit that I continually have a heightened sense of awareness. Even after a year, I still am always conscious of my own safety. And I think that’s not a bad thing. A single girl, or any girl really, should be cautious and have a plan to protect herself. Here’s what I have done to make myself feel more safe in my home, and in my neighborhood.

Be aware of your home and neighborhood

IMG_3741The neighborhood I live in is not the safest. My area is cute and family-oriented, but just a few blocks away is a high-crime area. My car has been broken into twice, and my outbuilding and fence has been tagged with graffiti. The one thing I have in my favor is that I’m on a corner lot, with a street light nearby. But, I’ve done a few things to make it safer:

Lighting. I installed motion-sensor flood lights on my outbuilding, and along the alley that lines it. Hooking it up is not too tough, and even the neighbors have thanked me for it. My back door has a motion-sensor light also, as the back door is hidden from the street. I don’t have a motion light on my front door, but the light is always on. And I’ve added solar lights on the path leading up to my front door. Having a well-lit outside makes an intruder think twice.

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On Living Alone

This last weekend marked the one  year anniversary of my living alone for the first time in my life. Before getting married, I had always lived with my parents, or dorm mates or roommates, primarily for financial reasons. When the marriage ended, I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to keep the house and live in it alone. It was an exciting, but scary prospect. For the first couple of months, I heard every strange noise in the dark, and kept pepper spray by the bed (ok, I still do). But soon, I felt comfortable and relatively safe and settled in to enjoy the time alone.

There are a few things I miss about having roommates. Most of these fall into the category of ‘shared responsibility.’ Having someone to share the chores, whether it’s doing the dishes, taking out the trash, or vacuuming. The last few weeks at work have been so stressful, and I’ve been taking work home nearly every night. My coworkers are in the same situation, but they’re all married. When they work at home in the evenings, they still have someone who cooks them dinner, and washes clothes and keeps the house organized. I eat fast food or delivery, have dishes piled up for a week and am digging deep to find the granny panties in the back of the drawer ‘cause nothing else is clean. I miss having someone who can step up when I can’t do much, and then being able to return the favor when it’s their turn.

I also miss the entertainment – there’s always a funny story to share, personal problems to discuss or even just a night sharing a fun tv show. Facebook and texting make this much easier (which explains my frequent postings), but its not as much fun as snark in person. And it’s fun to have a readily available buddy to go shopping with, or go on impromptu movie outings.

On the other hand, there is so much I enjoy about living alone. There is the lack of responsibility – if I don’t want to do dishes, I don’t have to. If I want to throw my clothes on the floor, I can. If I wanna curl up on the couch and eat junk food and watch tv all night, no one can make me feel guilty except myself. Of course, then I’m stuck cleaning up later (see above).

I enjoy the quiet. I don’t have to be “on”, I don’t have to talk about my day or answer questions like “is everything ok” when I just want to chill out and read all night.

And really, my friends aren’t that far away, and are still crazy enough to talk me into a midnight showing of the latest Twilight movie on a work night (thanks Stef!) or IM all night about the ridiculous costumes on Dancing with the Stars (Becky!)

I still get nervous sometimes. I own a gun now (Smith & Wesson M&P .45). I go jogging with pepper spray attached to my wrist and a switchblade clipped to my waistband (you never can be too careful).

But overall, I love living alone. I feel like I am finally the strong, independent woman I always thought I could be!  (Although, I really should hire a maid service).