Preparedness, by Dave McCracken
(Editor's note: this article was written shortly after the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11/2001).
Well, it's not 9 AM yet, and I've already fielded one call from an acquaintance about guns for defense in these perilous times. By the way, my number's unlisted and this person found me anyway. Motivation can move mountains.
I answered some questions yesterday at the range about home defense ammo from members of the Geezer League, and the kids tell me a neighbor stopped by and asked if I was selling any shotguns. It's been crazy since 9/11.
Personal note: wife was off sick on 9-11 from her job at the Pentagon. Her office was just to the right of the rubble, down from where the fireman hoisted the first flag. She's changing jobs.
Anyway, it's surprising how some of the same folks who regarded me as a trifle extreme and possibly dangerous pre-9/11 are regarding me as an "Authority" and maybe savior now. But, all this has brought up some points folks may need to know here.
And these are my opinions, and to the best of my knowledge, none are engraved on stone....
Presented in the form of FAQs....
WHY HAVE A GUN IN THE FIRST PLACE?
For the same reasons we have smoke detectors, first aid stuff, fire extinguishers and both life and home insurance. Because having a Plan B means we're more likely to be around after it hits the fan.
Because any life worth living is worth defending.
Because some werewolves do not need a full moon. Because the world is full of dark corners, sharp edges and things that bite.
AS A NON SHOOTER, WHAT GUNS CAN YOU RECOMMEND FOR DEFENSE?
None. Having a gun without taking the time and effort to learn how to do this right means you're a part of the problem and not the solution.
FOR AN INEXPERIENCED, NEW SHOOTER, WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR DEFENSE?
Plenty of choices here, but it can boil down to a few things.
.38/.357 revolvers are excellent sidearms, limited only by their capacity. 5-6 shots are often enough, and a reasonable level of expertise is not hard to attain for most folks. For home defense, all responsible adults in the house need to be proficient. Decent used revolvers are around for much less than a used semi auto.
As to shotguns, there's a pair of approaches, for different levels of expense.
Cheap way. Buy a used 12, 16 or 20 ga single shot like the NEFs, the old Winchester 37 or the H&Rs. Shoot it some with light loads, and tape a few to the stock. Only one shot, but that's often enough. And at home defense ranges, a 7/8 oz field load will be just as effective as a 10 ga 000 barnburner.
Not so cheap way. Get hold of a used police turnin or other used, US-made (by major makers) pump gun. I'd avoid the old Nobles,High Standards, or S&Ws. Make sure the stock fits, and shoot it.
Keep these handy but secure, and practice often enough that you're dangerous ONLY to the right people.
As for ammo, 100 rounds of buckshot and 50 slugs will carry you through most any situation that's survivable anyway. Add some field loads for practice and small game, and you're set. For the revolvers, wadcutters are cheap and reliable for practice, and pick a high end hollowpoint load that groups well in your handgun. Placement is more crucial than sheer power or a trick bullet.
Also, a decent, semi-auto 22 rifle is a good thing to have. Cheap practice, no kick, and a round inserted into the Center Of Mass of a perp is a good stopper. Get a 10-22, Marlin 60, Rem 597 or the old Nylon 66, and enjoy.
A FEW GUNS AREN'T GOING TO BE MUCH HELP IF SOME WHACKO AIMS AN AIRPLANE AT YOU, OR SOME ANTHRAX SPORES. WHY ARE YOU SO SET ON HAVING GUNS?
Because, it's nigh a given that there will be turmoil ahead, possibly riots, and this is a war with NO noncombatants, no safe zones, no quarter asked or given. As members of a community, we owe that community a committment of effort, a sharing of risk, and possibly "Our lives, our fortunes, and our Sacred Honor". That's a price others were willing to pay, and now it MAY be our turn.
Hope this helps....
Dave McCracken has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.