Recently, I had the pleasure of helping my mother install a home security system. I thought it was a great first step in her home security and it’s something she’s talked to me about for awhile. It brought up another topic of conversation: home defense and gun ownership.
In my family, I have an aunt and my mom. My aunt lives in Alaska and introduced me to firearms for the first time when I was twelve. In Alaska, gun ownership isn’t a topic of conversation — it’s a requirement. There’s more than just two-legged bad guys wandering around. In a rural wilderness where Kodiak bears, wolves, and predators roam, being able to defend yourself is just a simple requirement for living in that area.
My mother, however, is like the flip side of that coin. She never grew up with firearms and I don’t think she’s ever shot anything outside of the times she’s visited my aunt. However, we have a real threat emerging in the local area: heroin addiction.
It’s turning communities in this area inside out and there’s arguably not a single household in a square mile radius that hasn’t been personally affected by this epidemic.
Unfortunately, it’s also turning a lot of people into criminals. These are people who have one thing in mind: getting that next fix. And a rural home in the countryside isn’t such a bad target when that’s on your mind.
She asked my advice on home defense and I kept it to three simple points:
- Home surveillance
- A decent dog
- And a gun that was kept accessible at all times
She’s a traveling caretaker and her major concern was coming home to find bad people rummaging through her home. It’s not unheard of, even in these rural parts of the Northeast. She was also worried about bad guys getting access to the few guns in the home: a simple shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle.
This is where the conversation about gun ownership starts: the home.
We can all agree we want to live in a place that is safe. But safety requires our participation. It’s not good enough to just call the police, though that IS a step in the process. So, I did the only thing I knew to do: I ran her through that scenario.
“Okay, ma, you come home and you notice the front door is open. What do you do?”
“I call the police.”
“What then?” I asked.
She thought about it for a second and then said, “I stay outside and wait for them.”
“What happens if you see them come out?”
“I hope the police arrive?”
Optimistic, but alright.
If she was serious about defending herself in or around her home, she’d need some basic idea of where to start.
I broke it down to a few basic concepts:
- Securing firearms in the home
- Learning basic firearm safety
- Developing a basic strategy to deal with threats
- Feeling safe and competent to use a handgun for personal protection
The guns that are in the house, I showed her how to lock them up. That was easy. My step-dad has some understanding of firearms and he’s competent with a shotgun. But, if my mom is stuck out in a bad place, I want to make sure she knows what works best for her. And there’s only one way to find that out: I had to take her to the range.
For someone who has never actively handled firearms and is likely apprehensive about carrying one in the first place, the first thing I had to work past was the concept of a gun as a ‘scary thing’.
Her hands are quite a bit smaller than mine so the guns I choose for me likely won’t be a good fit for her. Thankfully, there’s a range not too far that allows you to rent handguns. I recommended she start with more compact pistols that would fit her hand. A lot of my guesses started with the .380 Auto, compact 9s like the Kahr CM9, and .38 snubs. For the .380 Autos, there’s usually reduced recoil but my mom ended up liking the Kahr CM9 for some reason.
This is a woman who doesn’t really like guns. No amount of range time is going to suddenly make her a convert. That’s not the point of this. A person doesn’t have to particularly love guns to understand their basic role in self protection.
The reason why I ended up liking her decision to go with a Kahr was because it appeared it worked well for her. She could get basic sight alignment and structure well with just the plain sights and she had no problem operating it at a basic level. Best of all: it was something she could carry on her or in the car.
That’s where it begins — finding where a firearm can be meaningful to a person’s self-defense in his or her daily life.
Not everyone can or wants to be some ultra-tacticool operator. Concealed carry isn’t about being the baddest guy on the block. A big segment of the population — moms, dads, aunts, uncles, daughters in college — these people need a firearm as much as any of us do. In fact, in quite a few cases, they may need it more because they’re some of the first targets bad guys prey upon.
But it’s more than just having a conversation about owning a firearm — it’s the conversation about carrying it every single day, everywhere you legally can. That’s why the next part of that conversation with my mom went to taking a basic firearm safety class at the range. It’s the next step. Working with a professional instructor takes the lesson outside of simply a family member’s recommendation and gets that person to self-identify as a gun owner and someone who needs to be responsible and accountable for how that firearm gets used.
So, my advice to anyone who wants to talk to their parents about owning and carrying a gun is first get the parent to see where a gun applies to their own personal everyday lives. This should go alongside the need to consider home defense as a system — not just an individual component. And then the next step is checking off that system.
- Home surveillance? Check.
- Locked doors? Check.
- Unused guns in safe? Check.
- Plan of action in case of bad guys? Check. Check.
- Gun ownership? Check.
- Carry everyday, everywhere… Check.
We can’t be all places at all times. It’s good to know that if my mom or step-dad needs to use a gun to protect each other, they’re taking the steps to competently do that. If my process helps you, leave a comment in the section below.