In support of our Liberty…

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Early last week S.C.O.P.E. (Shooters Committee on Political Education) told us that we needed to contact our government officials STAT which I did immediately.  Then last week we New Yorkers were treated to the State of the State address by Governor Cuomo and it became very, very clear that I needed to become even more involved. I drafted a letter to be sent to our 600+ Club members via email to call them to action and decided right then and there that I needed to not only attend the our local gun show that was under protest, which we had already planned on doing to show our support, but to attend the pro-gun rally!  I just couldn’t allow the antis to steal the show.

To be quite honest, I was a little nervous leaving the house yesterday morning.  I’ve never made signs or gone to a rally before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  From what the media reported about Saratoga over the last few weeks I was expecting a gigantic crowd of anti-gun protestors.

We got there around 8:30 and at that point the line to get into the gun show was pretty long, longer than most said they had ever seen it—it wrapped around the side of the building.  When our friends came around 10 they said the line was all the way down to the parking lot. It was at least an hour wait to get it.

At first it was the rally organizers, hubby, me, and a few other people but it really picked up pretty quickly.  Pro gun people were on one side of a larger electric sign in front of the City Center and the protestors on the other side holding very large angels to represent each victim of Sandy Hook.  I can honestly tell you that I never felt mad, or angry at the protestors.  I loved that we could all be there to voice our opinions.  Another great thing about America!

Protector8 line at 830 gunshsowrallyprb_tx728_fsharpen

I made 4 signs which was great because a lot of people didn’t make signs so it really worked out for those of us who made extra ones.  The support from cars passing by was amazing!  One of my signs was “Honk if you’re Pro-2A”.  It was almost a constant stream of beep, beep, beep…it was great!

Over the past few weeks the local media made it seem like the area was against guns and against the gun show and clearly that was not the case.  I was absolutely thrilled with the turnout.

This is what my husband had to say,

The best part about today was the outpouring of community support. One of my goals was to inspire others to action only to find myself inspired by the actions of others. I was awestruck by the sheer number of honking horns and thumb ups not only from the citizenry at large but from the Army and Marines, EMTs, Firemen, Court Officials, Bus Drivers, Taxi Drivers, Security Guards and local businesses.

It was more of an emotional day than I had expected.  We originally had planned on “rallying” for an hour and then going in with Club members that were meeting us there.  That didn’t happen; Hubby and I discussed it and felt that because the turnout for the gun show itself was so good with thousands of people showing up with anywhere from a 1-2 hour wait to get in, that our time was best served being outside.

We were standing right in front so we could see right into the cars and one of the best things for me was to see so many women honking and showing their support!  Many people driving by were thanking us for being there, giving us thumbs up, honking, gun show attendees were coming out to visit us after going into the show to say “thanks for being out here why I got to be inside”, a Jewish woman stopped to say thank you to a man who was holding the “Guns didn’t kill Jews” sign and told us her story with tears in her eyes.  Military people stopping their cars and everyone standing at the rally telling them “thank you” for their service and them telling us thank you right back.  People rolling down their windows and yelling FREEDOM!!!

Don’t get me wrong we had our fair share of looks of disgust, being called crazy, some guy stuck his tongue out at us, and we were flipped off as well.  Sometimes it was quite comical, but it didn’t bother us, I think that you have to expect that not to mention that because there was so much negative press I honestly thought that there was going to be a huge turnout for the anti-side and that just didn’t happen.  I’ll be generous and say that they had 50 people.  Being there from 8:30 until 3:30 non-stop I would still say that that the Second Amendment supporters far outnumbered the other side.

I did learn some things from yesterday for the next rally we attend.

  • Make more signs than you think you’ll need because not everyone will make their own yet they still want one to hold!
  • Use the huge black Sharpie marker
  • Make signs with less words (easier to read)
  • The Honk for Pro-2A sign was extremely effective
  • Be prepared to talk to the press – or designate someone as a spokesperson for the group.  Not everyone is a good speaker and it only takes one bad comment to make the entire group look bad.
  • Bring gloves!  We hadn’t planned on staying out for the rally for more than an hour so that is why I was unprepared! I was frozen!!
  • Keep your cool.  No matter what the other side says do not engage.  I must say that the local police on duty were fantastic and did not tolerate that at all.  They were kind and polite but were like NO; go back to your side.

Overall it was an extremely inspiring day for me.  I’ve decided that I can no longer remain silent; too many gun owners are doing just that because they feel this legislation will not affect them. Apathy is troublesome and I can’t help but think of this quote by Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Gun owners, are under a massive attack here in New York and I can’t just sit here, I have to do something.  If the legislation is passed I will have done all that I can; I don’t want to be that person who is crying in a month saying, “I wish that I had…”.   I’ve written, emailed, and called our government officials and plan on attending another rally down in Albany next weekend. I’ve been posting links so my friends and followers can read the proposed legislation. I invited people to the gun show and to go to the rallies with us.  We’ve joined the NRA and NYSRPA.

If you are a gun owner, in New York or not, please take action now!

I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the family…My Glock

So, its official I’m now the proud owner of a Glock 19 Gen4!

glock

Why a new gun? Isn’t Walther good enough?  No worries, I don’t plan on getting rid of Walther.  He was my first firearm ever and will always hold a special place in my heart.  The thing is I really want to take more training and noticed that the places or the people providing the training that I’ve been considering require that I have at least a 9mm or .38 Special.  Some of the training facilities said that I could rent “equipment” but to me it makes more sense to train with something I own.

Why a semi-automatic and not a revolver?  Revolvers are great; I love their simplicity and reliability not to mention that you don’t have to pick up the brass.  On the other hand even with speed loaders using a revolver to train on doesn’t seem like fun at all, at least not to me.    Walther had FTF and FTEs when he wasn’t fed the ammunition that he prefers so I feel very comfortable clearing either and would still prefer dealing with either of those issues than loading a revolver.

Why a 9mm?  Well a few reasons.  Again, I wanted to take some other training courses and noticed that most of them required that I have at least a 9mm.  I really didn’t want a .45.  Hubby has a 1911 and although I can handle it just fine I don’t find it particularly fun to shoot especially sending anywhere from 250-500 rounds down range.  Secondly, when I priced out ammo nine millimeter ammunition in comparison to .40 and .45 it was much cheaper.  Some people  may say that $2-$4 more per box is no big deal but when you start figuring in how often we go to the range that little difference will add up quickly!

How did I go about picking which 9mm to get?  Unfortunately, I haven’t run into many 9mms at the range and you cannot rent guns locally to try them out.  So I started by posing a question to my friends on Walther and Me’s Facebook page asking for suggestions.  They totally hooked me up with a great starting point.  Some 9mms that were suggested were Springfield XD and XDm, Glock 19, Smith and Wesson M&P 9 or Shield, Walther PPQ and PPS, Kimber Solo, Sig Sauer P226, and CZ 75.

I spent a night or two researching each, reading reviews, and tried to get an idea on how much they would cost.  Then it was time to hit the stores.  I could “ooh”, and “ahhh” over every picture that I looked at but I really needed to hold each one in my hand in order to make a decision.

How was my shopping experience? Honestly I dreaded going shopping because of how I was treated when I bought Walther  and my other recent experience at a big box store but I was determined to get a new gun come hell or high water.   I ended up going to 4 gun shops.

Let me start by telling you about the second two stores that I went to on my own.  At both stores I told them exactly why I wanted a 9mm and the ones I’d like to see but that I was open to other suggestions if they had any.  At this particular shop the gentleman behind the counter took out about 6 options laid them down, walked away and preceded to stock ammo.  I tried to engage him in conversation and asked questions about reliability and accuracy and he said no matter which one I picked I’d be happy.  It was a Saturday afternoon so perhaps he needed to get the ammo put away before the end of his shift and would have to stay late if it didn’t get done?  I’m really not sure what the deal was but I knew at that point I wasn’t going to buy a gun from them.  Although they had a decent selection they were also the shop with the most expensive prices.

The other store I went to on my own I was also treated just fine but they would NOT listen to me.  I said I wanted a 9mm and again explained my reasoning just like I have to you and they  still told me that I did not really want a 9mm, that no one wants 9mms that I should consider a .40 or a .45.  When I said no, they insisted and actually started pulling .40s and .45s out of the case for me to look at.  I didn’t want to be rude so I did handle them but in the end said that I’d  need to sleep on it.  I probably wouldn’t go there again.  They were nice enough but if you’re not going to listen to me at all then it’s not worth it for me.

I had a better experience when I went with my husband to the first two stores although he did NOT do any of the talking.  When we walked in he was greeted first but when the guys asked, “What can I help you with?” hubby was like, “I’m with her.”  He walked away and browsed shotguns and rifles and left the guys behind the counter to talk to me.  I was very pleasantly surprised!  They asked what I was looking for, they listened to me and because I had done my research in advance I had a list in my head that I could rattle off.

Between these first two stores I was able to hold a CZ, a Kimber Solo, 2 Sigs P226 (a two-tone and one with rosewood grips), Smith & Wesson M&P 9,and the Glock 17, 19, and 26.

The Kimber and the Sigs were gorgeous.  I mean seriously look at these lovely ladies:

What a beauty! Kimber Solo

What a beauty! Kimber Solo

Sig Sauer P226

So pretty! Love, love, love. Sig Sauer P226

Absolutely beautiful and both fit in my hand perfectly however they were expensive (both just over $1,000) and so good looking I’m not sure that I’d want to use them for training.  I can’t help but compare it to when my husband bought a Corvette a few years back.  Low mileage, never saw a winter and he wouldn’t use it on a daily basis, we take it out a few times a year for a nice long ride.  So for the purpose I was looking for, training specifically, I sadly eliminated them from my list rather quickly.

The CZ 75 B Stainless  was also a nice looking gun, less expensive than the Kimber and Sig.  I don’t know if it was just me but it felt a little beefier.  It fit comfortably in my hand but not like a glove.  I would have loved the chance to use it at the range but I couldn’t find anyone that had one to let me try it out.

Next up was the Smith & Wesson M&P 9.  Kind of middle of the road for looks and again just didn’t feel quite right in my hand.

Then came the Glocks.  The ugly, boxy Glocks.  I knew from reading and from watching videos putting them through stress tests that Glocks are reliable.  I figured since I was at the store that I should still give them a chance.  The clerk pulled out a Glock 17 Gen 4 that had had a Nickel Boron coating.  It really made this pistol much more handsome in my opinion.  When I held it though it was just a little bit too big for my hand.  The 26 was a little too short in my hand but fit perfectly with the pinky extension on the magazine.  The Glock 19 fit my hand like a glove.

How did I make a final decision? 

Before I made the final decision I asked around at our range meeting if anyone had a CZ or a M&P that I could try and no one had one so I felt that without being able to try one of these others that I just couldn’t select them.

Luckily one of my friends is a Glock guy and he offered to take me to his range to try out his Glock 17, 19, and 26.  I really loved the way the Nickel Boron coating looked so I really wanted to try to make the Glock 17 work for me but it really was just a little bit too big for my hand and could really tell that when I fired it.  So it was out.

Then he had me try the 26 which had the pinky extension.  Fit my hand like a glove, sweet! BUT…not sure how it happened but each time I fired it my pinky was somehow getting pinched.  Weird, I know, but I swear it happened. My friend was dumbfounded because it didn’t happen to him so maybe it has something to do with smaller hands?  I’m not sure but there was no way I could deal with that.

Then I tried the 19.  Again it fit my hand like a glove and I really enjoyed shooting it.  Honestly, I was very accurate with each Glock.  My friend was kind enough to let me use an entire box of ammo and I by the end of the hour I felt like the Glock 19 was the gun for me.

I’m proud to say that I went back to my selected gun store by myself and the gentleman behind the counter remembered me and I told him I was ready to make my purchase.  We talked about adding the Nickel Boron coating but I decided against it because for the added price I could get myself a good holster, gun belt, and the sights I wanted to get put on the Glock and still come out below what it would have cost if I went with the Kimber or Sig.  I was trying to be as practical as possible!  He said I could always send it out in the future if I changed my mind.

So I feel that I did the best I could to find a 9mm that I’ll be able to use to obtain more training over the coming year.  Now I just need to think of a name for him….hmmmmm….

Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving week seems like the perfect time for me to stop for a moment and give thanks to two people that I’m extremely grateful to have in my life.  They have both played a huge part in my journey into the gun world.

First, I’d like to thank my father-in-law, Big Jimmy who served as my personal tour guide through the gun industry during my graduate project–a Strategic Plan for Opening My Own Gun Store.

I can remember very vividly meeting my future father in law for the first time almost 20 years ago.  Let me see…how should I describe him…he’s like Ted Nugent but looks like Bill Mosley’s character in The Devil’s Rejects with a more bushy beard…I wish I had a side by side picture to show you and you’d see the uncanny resemblance.

When we sat down for dinner the first thing he did was take his 10mm Colt Delta Elite  and put in on the table.  Being that I didn’t grow up in a house with guns I was absolutely horrified.  Then as if that wasn’t terrifying enough he took his fork and scratched his beard with it while he was talking to us.  I thought he was crazy!  At that point I had no idea why anyone would ever want or need a gun in a million years. I mean didn’t he know that the police were here to save us and that we live in a town where crime could never happened? I’m inserting a brief pause here for you to roll your eyes at me.   Over the years we probably had no fewer than a hundred arguments over hunting and anything else having to do with firearms.

I remember calling him crazy, a Bambi killer, and a red neck amongst other unkind things. I was passionate that guns were bad but had no facts to back my bias up. Unlike me, he stayed calm and never gave up on me, never disrespected me, and never even called me names.  How he kept his cool I’ll never know.

Fast forward to a little over 2 years ago when we decided to get our pistol permit.  He was SO excited!  He brought over no fewer than 5 guns to the house to show me how they all worked.

Then last fall when I was trying to decide on a topic for my graduate project, I called him one day and asked him what he thought of me doing my capstone project on opening a gun shop.  He was immediately on board basically saying we can never have enough gun shops and that he would help me in whatever way he could.  When I began doing gun industry research Big Jimmy was there.  When I had questions about any gun topic, issue, or law, or didn’t understand something, he was always there to answer whatever it was.

Each section of the project I finished I sent to him, he’d read it and give me feedback.  When I needed to come up with a complete inventory plan he brought me over his wholesaler books.  Every step of the way he supported me, boosted my confidence which really helped to further energized me and make me continue to keep moving forward in this journey into the gun world.

This is Big Jimmy at the range on Father’s Day.  I’m sorry that you can’t see his long grey hair and beard better.  I love him very much and will be forever in debt for his patience and support.

The second person that I’d like to take a moment to thank is my husband.  I love this man more than anything in the world.  He not only supported my project, he still thinks that we should move forward and actually make it happen.  I keep telling him we will as soon as we hit the lottery!

During the entire time that I was in graduate school he was amazing.  He stepped up to help clean, cook, and pretty much everything else while my nose was in books, doing research and writing papers.  He was also kind enough to be the proofreader of ALL of my papers not just my gun project ones.

When I was nervous about using Walther and going to the range, he had me practice to get more comfortable.  He comes with me to the range, he backed me when I said I wanted to start a ladies shooting group up at the range, and has been 100% supportive of my becoming an instructor.  I appreciate his love and support.

I gave my husband a great birthday present when I called to let him know that I was contacted by the school to let me know that I was one of two students selected out of the entire MBA graduating class to come back and give our presentation to the incoming MBA students this fall.

What an honor, I was so proud and know that both my husband and Big Jimmy were too.  They no doubt played a huge part in the success of my project, I’m so grateful to them.

The icing was going back this fall and giving the presentation.  I was very nervous.  I wasn’t sure how the topic would go over; I practiced the PowerPoint for days and.  Once I got up there in front of everyone, I looked out into the audience and there my husband sat with a smile.  That small gesture gave me the confidence boost I needed and I couldn’t wait to tell the students about the gun industry and the business plan I came up with.

There were two great parts of the evening.  First, when the professor said that our projects were “the best of the best”.  Holy cow!  The college is telling me that my gun store project rocks?  Who knew that was even possible? Second, when done with the presentation women kept coming up to me saying they wanted to get together to shoot with me and loved the project because they felt and were treated the same exact way when they went shopping for their first firearm.

Seriously, how awesome is that?  I’m so happy that my husband came to me about getting a pistol permit, it literally changed my life.  This journey is nowhere near being over but I have to say a gigantic THANK YOU to both my husband and my father-in-law for everything they have done to have my back. Their love and support means the world to me and I wanted you all to know it!

I’ve been downgraded!

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Last weekend at our ladies shoot I fired a 12 gauge shotgun at some stationary clays.  I had no problem hitting each one or with handling the shotgun at all and I absolutely LOVED it!  I was told last weekend that its “hard to miss” with a shotgun but still it was fun and now I want one. 

I was feeling pretty disheartened yesterday after the election results so to make myself feel a little better I went to Walmart to pick up some ammo and since I was there figured that I’d check out their shotguns.  I really don’t know anything about shotguns like which brand I should get so I was happy to see 5 or so men in the sporting goods area decked out in their camo so I decided to ask if any of them had a shotgun. 

Most replied “yes” and were happy to engage in a conversation about which brand they had.  Nearly everyone had a Remington and one guy said he had a Mossberg. The men got what they needed, told me good luck, and left. It was now my turn at the counter.   

I started by asking for my boxes of ammunition the CCI Mini Mags that Walther loves but they were sold out so I picked up some boxes of Winchester for the rifle and this is what transpired next:

Me: “If I was to get a shotgun, what kind would you recommend?”

The clerk said with a look of concern on his face: “Mam, I don’t mean to ‘downgrade women’ but you couldn’t handle one. If you do get one you should get a 20 gauge.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  At least he didn’t ask me if I wanted it in pink!   

Just to make it clear he wasn’t NOT going to sell me one like the story we heard a few months ago where a Walmart store clerk refused to sell a women a shotgun because it was “too much gun” for her.  In fact, he did tell me if I wanted to buy one that I’d need to provide photo ID and go through a background check but that shouldn’t take long at all especially since I already had my pistol permit which he knew I had because he asked to see the ID to purchase the ammunition.

I honestly don’t think that he meant any harm; I think that in his mind he was helping me because he believed that I could not handle the firearm being a woman. 

So far, no matter where I go locally to purchase firearms or ammunition it seems that I’m treated differently simply because I am a woman.  That somehow I couldn’t possibly know about nor have a passion for firearms.  

Don’t you worry though, even though I’ve been downgraded I haven’t given up, I’m sure my perfect gun store is out there I just haven’t found it yet!   

Review of NRA Basic Pistol Course

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Before I review the class I want to remind you of where I’m at regarding my skill level and experience with guns.

I took the required pistol safety course to obtain my NYS pistol permit in 2010, that class was NOT a live fire course.  We were not allowed to handle guns in that class but went over parts of a pistol and the rules for safe gun handling.

I then proceeded to lock Walther in the safe and did not even touch it again until May of this year when someone we knew had a break-in while they were home.  That pretty much gave me the push I needed to really take my first steps.

In May we joined a range and have made every effort to go up at least once a week since then.  While there I typically shoot a couple hundred rounds but have had NO formal training.

I’ve done a lot of reading including articles from Massad Ayoob like How to Shoot a Handgun Accurately , books like Kathy Jackson’s The Cornered Cat,   Kathy Jackson and Mark Walters’ Lessons from Armed America just to name a few.

All of the books have been great and hold a wealth of information but reading does not replace hands on training!  I needed to start somewhere so that is why I decided to sign up for the NRA Basic Pistol Course.  The Basic Pistol class is also a prerequisite for the NRA Personal Protection in the Home and the Personal Protection Outside the Home courses so I felt it was a good decision.

So let’s get to it!

How did I find the course? 

I went to the NRA’s website and used the “find a course” function which can be found here.  I couldn’t find any courses within a 25 mile radius so I had to go out to 50 miles and found a course offered at the Brunswick Sportsman’s Club and registered right then and there online.

By the next day I had received an email directly from the instructors (Ed and Scott) welcoming me to the course and they attached a memo to let me know more about the course and told me that if I had any questions between then and the time of the course to let them know.  I sent them a few emails and was really pleased that they answered quickly.

What is the course about?

The NRA Basic Pistol Course is geared to the novice shooter.  They broke it up over a two day period, Thursday evening was the majority of the classroom portion, and Saturday morning was a combination of classroom work, grading our exam, and live fire at the range.

The course seeks to teach the basic knowledge, skills, and attitude for owning and operating a pistol safely.  Topics included:

  •  Pistol parts, operation, and basic firearm safety
  • Ammunition components and safety
  • Fundamentals of pistol shooting (eye dominance, grip, aiming, breath control, hold control, trigger control, follow through, stance)
  • Clearing stoppages
  • How to select, clean, and store your firearm
  • Safety, safety, safety, safety (Did I mention safety?)
  • They also took time to discuss with us the different ways we can work on developing our skills

The classroom portion consisted of a Powerpoint presentation along with both instructors offering stories and deeper explanations to help better understand and to clarify any information.  Of course we could ask questions throughout the presentation at any time, which we ALL did.

The course started with a review of what we had learned in the pistol safety course and provided us with a solid foundation of knowledge, understanding, and hands on experience with both semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.  The course included an exam that consisted of 50 multiple choice and true/false questions which we all passed with flying colors.  The course ended with time on the range!!

How many people were in the class and what was their experience levels?

There were 5 of us in the class and it seemed to me that all of the men in the class (I was the only woman) were much more knowledgeable about handguns than I was.  I suppose that it is possible that they felt the classroom portion was slow but I don’t believe so since everyone was engaged in conversation and had something to add.  I have no doubt that everyone in the class learned something regardless of their experience level.

What did I think?

I think that this class was excellent and that I was probably the perfect audience for this course; I was familiar enough with the concepts and terminology to not be lost but new enough to guns that there was plenty to learn, so I was able to walk away with a lot of new information.  I would recommend it to novice shooters but do believe that ANYONE taking this course will learn something.

I felt very comfortable with loading and unloading the semi-automatics because that is what I’m used to handling (Walther and hubby’s 1911 are both semi-automatics) but thanks to this course I was able to handle and learn about revolvers so that was a great experience for me.

I don’t think that you can underscore the importance of the stories and examples the instructors discussed with us and what you can get from the ability to discuss all of this information in a group setting.  I think that we were very lucky to have such a small group which allowed each of us to get extremely valuable one on one time. I felt very comfortable asking my questions and never once felt left out of a conversation.  It was a great group of people.

I also really enjoyed our time at the range which started with a safety briefing.  During the entire time the instructors were close by and of course made sure that we were handling the guns safely.  They encouraged us to take our time, to not feel rushed, and I really appreciated that.

In just the short time we were there I found that I had much better groupings and was shooting much more consistently than I typically do just practicing at the range.  Scott and Ed took time with each one of us individually and offered guidance, suggestions, and encouragement.  I felt great and energized leaving the range!

Scott and Ed were great and totally supportive of all of us continuing with learning as much as we can not only with NRA courses but to take advantage of other training opportunities like at Sig Sauer Academy which is only a few hours away.  They also encouraged us all to become instructors so that we can “give back to the next generation of gun owners”.   Awesome ideas and both are a part of my long term plan.

If you live in Upstate NY around the Capital District and have been thinking about taking a beginners pistol course or want to improve your knowledge and skills I’d highly recommend the NRA Basic Pistol Course. I thought my instructors Scott and Ed were outstanding and I must say they didn’t baby me or treat me any differently than anyone else in the class.   They did a great job answering questions and supporting each one of us.

I’m looking to take the Personal Protection Inside the Home Course next but don’t see any scheduled within the 50 mile radius.  They (Scott and Ed) are working on getting their credentials to teach that course and plan to start offering it at the Brunswick Sportsman’s Club in the spring of 2013.  If I can’t find the course offered somewhere else locally over the next few months I look forward to teaming up with these guys again in the spring to further my knowledge!

If you have any specific questions please feel free to ask!

Too Weak to Make a Stand

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Once, as a boy, I saw what happened; I saw them beat him down to the cold, cold ground; Watched those big boys beat that man down; I was too weak to make a stand

~Dave Matthews Band #27 listen to it here.

So besides guns I LOVE Dave Matthews Band, I love the stories they tell through their music.

That verse of #27 always sits with me.  I’d like to think that in that situation I’d at least try to stop an attack in whatever way I could.  I’m not talking guns blazing I’m saying to make a phone call, tell the assailants that I’ve called the police, something, anything rather than to just sit there and do nothing.  But I have to wonder if there would be any situations that would happen where I’d be too weak to make a stand? Man I hope not.

We are very fortunate to live in an area rich in culture and there is an outdoor concert venue nearby so I’ve been able to go to more concerts than most people.  I typically go to concerts with my sister-in-law.  Why not hubby, you ask?  Have you ever seen the Direct TV Commercial where it says, when people think you’re tough they want to know how tough?  I swear that is the case with my husband.  He is 6’ 3” 260lbs and EVERY single time he’s gone to a concert with me someone starts with him.

My husband was diagnosed in 2009 with Chiari Malformation, Type 1 and had a surgery that left him with a soft spot on the back of his head where they had to take out a piece of his skull.  He can no longer go on roller coasters or do anything at all that will jar his head which obviously includes fighting.  If he hits his head just right the harsh reality is that he could die.  So instead of taking the risk of going to a concert and possibly getting in a fight because other guys want to test out how tough he is he just makes the choice to stay home.

I’m sorry, I digress, one of his sister’s and my favorite things to do at concerts is to people watch.  What always amazes us is the number of girls who get too drunk to know what they were doing.  Some even to the point of passing out.  We could never believe that the girls would let themselves get that drunk and furthermore that their friends would leave them outside of the gates for the wolves while they went in to enjoy their concert.  I can remember more than one occasion where we’ve gone over to “rescue” a girl from boys who want to take advantage of her state while other people were willing to just keep walking by.  I don’t think that I could ever forgive myself if I saw her face on the news the next day if something bad happened to her and we chose to do nothing.

So I can’t help but wonder, would everyone else be strong enough to make a stand if they saw something bad happening to me?

I’d like to think so but I’m not so sure about that.  I started wondering about it when I read the story of Kitty Genovese where 38 people, yes 38, did nothing to help save her when she was being attacked. Because no one came to her aid she didn’t survive her attack.  Some people may say well that was in the 60s that would never happen now however it happened in April in Baltimore where a tourist was beaten and robbed while bystanders did nothing.  How do we know they did nothing?  It was caught on tape.

Or how about the case of the homeless man  who helped a woman being attacked only to be stabbed himself and 25 people walked past without offering help.  Do you think they didn’t stop because the man was homeless?  Or perhaps that the people in NYC are so hardened that they just didn’t even think to check on him?  Were they too busy to get wherever they were going?  What if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t they want someone, anyone to stop or even make a call for help?

I think part of the challenge that I’ve run into in changing my own mindset is that I want to follow what my mother and grandparents always taught me.  Always be polite, nice, and respectful and mind my own business.  Or as my grandmother would say, “Keep your eyes on your own plate, honey”.

I think that the problem might be that many people have taken this advice of “minding our own business” a little too much to heart.   Since we’ve been told so frequently to not get involved it has in turn prevented many people from “making a stand” when they see something bad happening, because they didn’t want to offend anyone, be seen as a snitch, get into any trouble themselves, or are afraid that someone will turn the violence towards them.  So that is what many people do, avoid the conflict because if it involves someone else it isn’t their business.

So I can’t help but wonder if we put too much faith in believing that other people will save us.  The incidents above happened in very public places yet no one helped.  So what happens if we’re out in public or even worse in our own homes?  Who will hear us?  Will anyone come to our aid then?

I have a friend who lives by herself in a townhouse.  The good news is that she has a neighbor on each side but I have to wonder if it gives her a false sense of security.  I worry about her and don’t want her to count on her neighbors to save her if something God forbid was to happen.  It begs the question, who is responsible for her safety?

For all that matters, who then is responsible for my safety? The answer is clearly ME.  I cannot rely on anyone but MYSELF for my own protection.  And there we have it. Coming to this realization is exactly why I’m making the changes in my life that I am.

So in the words of Dave:

I will live as I see fit, and there will be those who do not like it…

 Here’s to being strong enough to make a stand for what is most important, ME.

Please, lock your doors!

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The other night I read this Hot Lead Versus Cold Blood  post by Massad Ayoob which told us the story about the murder of the Cutter family in the 1950’s.  This was the story that inspired Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.   Mr. Ayoob told us how the family was unarmed and reminded us that if you can’t reach your gun quickly during an emergency it is useless.  It made me feel pretty good that Walther and Smitty were both in the room with us while I was reading the article.

When I scanned through the comments I saw someone reference the murder of the Petit family in Connecticut in 2007 which I was unfamiliar with.  The Petit family suffered a brutal home invasion where the husband was severely beaten, his wife and one daughter were raped and then the house was set on fire.  Sadly, Dr. Petit was the only one of his family to survive the ordeal.  It was a horrible and hard story to get through but what immediately stuck out to me was that the criminals had entered their house through an unlocked basement door.

They lived in a beautiful upper-middle class neighborhood and neighbors were “shocked” that anything like that could happen there.  Which should serve again as a reminder that crime can happen at any time and to anyone, even if you live in a “nice” area.  This is why we MUST not fall into thinking that crime could not happen to us.  The men who broke in were not strangers to the life of crime, they were both parolees.  I read at least one article where one of the attackers said that they always searched for homes with unlocked doors.

I can’t help but wonder how things may have turned out differently if their doors had been locked and if the family was armed.  But for the purpose of this post I’d like to focus on the unlocked door.  Locking a door is such a simple thing that we can do to add to our toolbox against predators.  Let’s try to make it as hard as possible for them to get into our homes.

One thing that really pushed me to learn how to use Walther and learn more about personal safety was when two people we know had their homes broken into earlier this year.  One happened during the day, their doors were locked, and luckily they were not home.

It is a common misconception, by the way, that burglaries occur only at night because that is what we see on TV shows and in the movies but let’s remind ourselves what criminals want…an EASY target so it is much preferable to them to go to an empty house during the day while we’re all at work.

Of course some criminals don’t care, they want what they want and are not going to stop to get it.  The other break-in that happened earlier this year occurred at night, when the family was home, and the intruder came in through the back door which was unlocked.  This was the crime that really freaked me out and made me make changes for our personal safety.  I just can’t imagine waking up and finding an intruder in my kitchen.

I found the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Criminal Victimization, 2009 Report and looking at 2008 & 2009 there were about 3.1 million household burglaries each year.

Holy cow that is more than I had expected!!  That means that a burglary occurs approximately every 10 seconds and that around 30% are classified as “unlawful entry” which means the intruder came in through an unlocked door or window.  I’d venture to say that most of the 30% of people who left their doors or windows unlocked never EXPECTED that crime would happen to them.

We have been guilty on more than one occasion to not only leave a door unlocked but the garage door open with the lights on.  We should have just put a flashing neon sign outside saying “Burglars Welcome”.  I also used to leave the front door unlocked when I got home from work since my husband would be home within 30 minutes of me getting home.  I’m happy to report that we don’t either of those things any longer.

I did a quick Google search of “crime” and “unlocked doors” in the news and came back with these stories:

Papa John Robbers come in unlocked back door

Burglars Hit Homes With Unlocked Doors In Neighborhood

Burglars targeting unlocked vehicles to steal garage door openers I always lock my car but if you don’t this is yet another reason why you should especially if you keep your garage door opener in your car!

Police cuts and rumors of easy targets boost thievery

The list of stories about unlocked doors actually went on for a few pages but I’m sure you get the point.

So let me leave you with this: Do you keep your windows and doors locked all of the time? 

If not, I urge you to add locking your doors as one little change to part of your personal safety strategy. It may not keep all of the bad guys out but if you are able to hear a bad guy knocking down your door or breaking your window that may just give you enough time to arm yourself. Or it may be just enough deterrent to make them go away.

Don’t make it easy for the criminals to get into your home, don’t be an easy target.

Please, lock your doors!!  You and your family are worth it.    

Prepared NOT Paranoid

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So between my new love of firearms and interest in personal safety I went from being fun loving, friendly, and “normal” in some of my friends and family’s eyes to paranoid, over concerned, fearful, and maybe even crazy.  How the heck did that happen?

Maybe the people who now think I’m paranoid have forgotten the difference between being prepared and being paranoid so let’s take a quick minute to look at their definitions thanks to The Free Dictionary:

pre•pare  v. pre·pared, pre·par·ing, pre·pares

1. To make ready beforehand for a specific purpose, as for an event or occasion: The teacher prepared the students for the exams.

2. To put together or make by combining various elements or ingredients; manufacture or compound: prepared a meal; prepared the lecture.

3. To fit out; equip: prepared the ship for an arctic expedition.

4. Music To lead up to and soften (a dissonance or its impact) by means of preparation.

par•a•noid   

1. Relating to, characteristic of, or affected with paranoia.

2. Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others: a paranoid suspicion that the phone might be bugged.

n. One affected with paranoia.

Here is the definition of paranoia:

par•a•noi•a   

1. A psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason.

2. Extreme, irrational distrust of others.

I did not realize that having a plan or being prepared was a bad thing.  If you’re having a wedding or party outside you have to consider that it may rain that day and be prepared.  No one would think you are crazy or paranoid then.  In fact they’d think that you were smart especially if it did rain because if it did rain you’d be screwed and your wedding would be ruined.

Many of us have fire extinguishers in the kitchen but that doesn’t make us paranoid it makes us prepared just in case of a fire.  So I have to ask why should preparing for our personal safety be any different?

I don’t have an irrational fear or distrust in others, I feel that I’m trying to be ready just in case, to have a plan as opposed to thinking crime could never happen to me.  My husband and those who know me best know I’m overly friendly with strangers to a fault.  In fact my husband always says that I’d be the girl in Silence of The Lambs   who would get into the van to help the creepy dude (don’t worry, I’m working on not being so trusting).

NO ONE expects that crime is going to happen to them.  I used to live in a complete state of denial.  I thought that crime couldn’t happen to me or anyone I knew because we live in a “nice” town and we don’t put ourselves in bad situations.

However, earlier this year I found this wasn’t true when two people we know had their homes broken into, my friend had her purse stolen out of her car, and even more recently another friend had her GPS stolen out of her car-yes the car was unlocked but still someone came into their driveway and tried to open the car door, what if they tried their front door while they were at it?

Again not a single one of these people expected that crime was going to happen to them.  After all they live in “nice” areas, and have “nice” homes.  So how could these things possibly happen if crime doesn’t happen in “nice” areas?

The fact is crime can happen at any time to anyone.

Criminals don’t care what color our skin is, what time of day it is, if we are rich or poor, and they definitely don’t care how we’ll be voting in November.  They want an easy target and I’m just trying my best to not be an easy target any more.  So I’m educating myself, becoming more aware, and changing my mindset.

So because I go to the range each weekend and I’ve come to realize that any of us can be a victim of crime while some of my friends and family refuse to believe that it could possibly happen that somehow makes me paranoid?  I don’t think so.

Now that I have a different perspective they choose to roll their eyes at me or poke fun at me.  Do you know how many times I’ve been called Annie Oakley in the past few months?  I could only hope to someday shoot like she did and wish I could consider it a compliment but clearly they say it as a dig.

I’m just not sure why they are so angry and disappointed with me.  Is it because they want me to continue to believe what they think?  Perhaps they don’t want to think about crime because then it won’t happen? Or maybe if they pick on me enough they think that I’ll revert to my old ways of thinking so that they don’t have to hear me talk about personal safety anymore?  I can tell you if that is what they are thinking it is not going to work.

I’d much rather have a plan and try my best to be prepared than to be caught completely off guard and not have any idea of what to do.  We don’t tend to work well or make quick decisions under pressure.  If the first time we are considering being assaulted is when we are attacked that’s too late and is probably not going to turn out well.

I’m done with being the following:

naïve

1 simple and straightforward in one’s way of thinking, speaking etc.

2 ignorantly simple.

sheep•ish    

1. abashed or embarrassed, esp through looking foolish or being in the wrong

2. resembling a sheep in timidity or lack of initiative

Or living in de•ni•al    

1. an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false: Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse. The politician issued a denial of his opponent’s charges.

2. refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.

3. disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.

I’m not going to say sorry for, or feel guilty or embarrassed about educating myself about personal safety, or learning how to better use my gun.  To me it is no different than having jumper cables or a spare tire in my trunk and knowing how to use them.  I don’t have them because I’m afraid; I have them just in case.  And that’s exactly why I’m educating and preparing myself…just in case.  And I don’t see any harm in that.

So as much as I love my friends and family, if they disapprove of the changes I’m making we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.  This is my new way of living and I’m not turning back.  I’m educating myself which makes me feel more confident and empowered…not paranoid at all.

My Very First Gun Show

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I was super psyched to go to my first gun show this weekend.  We showed up about 15 minutes before the doors opened and the line to get in was very long, which I was glad to see.  There were some people in line who brought their rifles to try to sell, trade, or have appraised (think of a firearms version of Pawn Stars).  The rest of us just wanted to get inside to look at all of the treasures the room had to hold.

As expected a large majority of the people attending the gun show were men.  There were women in attendance but most seemed to be wives or girlfriends of the male customers or the dealers and not so much gun lovers themselves.

Hubby and I had a little chat before going and agreed that we were really just going to look and not to buy.  Since we didn’t have something specific in mind we knew purchasing a gun without performing our due diligence first could be a really bad idea.

The event organizers, NEACA, Inc.,  made it very clear that the carrying of firearms in holsters, belts, or in your pockets were prohibited and that loaded firearms were also forbidden.  Another rule that stuck out was that all guns sold had to go through a NICS background check and that transfers of modern (post 1898) handguns to the public would NOT be allowed at the show, only at a dealer’s business.  In other words you could buy the gun that day but you had to pick it up at the dealer’s shop.  There was a table set up where you could have the NICS check performed which was clearly labeled and easy to find.

If you brought a firearm with you it was necessary to check in using a separate line so that they could make sure that the gun was unloaded and had a gun lock on it before you could enter the show.

When we walked in the door it was set up like all the craft fairs that I have ever attended.   Exhibitors had long tables set up with their offerings spread out and you were able to walk up and down long isles but you could NOT touch guns without first asking.  There was a wide assortment of guns, some were pre-owned, some were new, and others were collectibles.  You were allowed to buy, sell, and get appraisals, I even heard a few people trying to negotiate a trade with a gun they brought.

Each booth seemed to have a specialty.  Some had WWII era weapons and gear; others had beautifully engraved shotguns, or newer rifles, while others had handguns.  There were also a few tables with ammunition which we thought were overpriced.  For example, the Tul Ammo .45 box of 50 we saw priced as $25 when we just bought that kind on sale at Walmart for $14.

Some of the hand guns were gigantic!  Two that stick out in my mind are the 454 Casull, this thing was a beast.  The picture in the link does it no justice of how large it is.

The other memorable one was a revolver with a barrel that had to have been 11 or 12 inches.  I think it was a Colt of some sort but can’t remember.  I’ve never seen a barrel on a pistol that long.

Of course there were plenty of other vendors offering gun accessories like scopes, clips, magazines, zombie targets, and concealed carry purses and bags.  I found the elusive Smith and Wesson M&P Shield so I asked if I could handle it; just by holding it I didn’t love it but would welcome the opportunity to shoot one.  The guy behind the table told me that I should try a Ruger LC9.  I told him I already had and wasn’t a fan of the long trigger pull and he said that he liked it a lot and that it would be a great carry gun because you could carry it in your pocket without a holster.  Well alrighty then…

Not only were there guns, there were tons of knives.  Big knives, little knives, mini knives, knife holsters (my husband informed me that they are actually called sheaths), knives on key chains, hunting knives, and folding knives.  Then there were axes, machetes, hatchets, and daggers.

There were also two educational tables, one about conservation and the other was for the Appleseed program. These guys were so super nice and really into US History so I’m going to try to take one of their courses in November.  I figure it would be a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving by delving into history all while learning how to better use the rifle.

So although the show had all of this neat stuff there are a few things that I felt were missing:

  •  Holsters and belts.  There were no vendors there selling holsters or gun belts.  Not even cheap ones.  I saw a “collectible” holster here and there.
  • Items geared toward women.  The men who were selling concealed carry purses seemed to feel that they were just another item to make money on and not really interested in talking about them, no one selling Flashbang holsters, and no cool ladies gear.  Even though the men outnumbered the women at the show there enough women to warrant at least a table or two of ladies stuff.  Maybe women would be more interested in attending gun shows if there would be something of interest to them or more women vendors to talk to.
  • Jerky.  Everyone told me that jerky and guns went together and that some of the best jerky they’ve ever had was sold at gun shows. Where the heck were the people selling jerky???

We stayed for about 2 ½ hours and found that a gun show is a great place to see a wide variety of firearms up-close and personal as well as to have the opportunity to hang out with other gun lovers.  I can’t wait to go to the next one in September!

Fellow New Yorkers -Contact Your NY Senators!

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If you haven’t already heard NY State Senator José R. Peralta sponsored Senate Bill 7828 which would limit the sale of ammunition and goes something like this:

  • No retail dealer shall sell or transfer more than 500 rounds of any ammunition to any person during a 30 day period.
  • No person shall purchase or receive more than 500 rounds in a 30 day period but would not apply to any shooting range, police office, law enforcement, correction agency, members of the armed forces, or firearms dealers.
  • Dealers will be required to record the name, address, DOB, and phone number of the purchaser, and the quantity, manufacturer, type, and caliber or gauge of the ammunition purchased.
  •  Any person who violates the provisions will be guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor.

The microstamping bill didn’t pass not so long ago so I don’t believe that this will be passed either, especially this close to an election BUT you never can tell. So best to be sure and let them know how we feel!

I took the time to email a few of our NY Senators as well as some Representatives to let them know how passing this bill would affect me personally.  If you live in NY and care about our rights as gun owners you should contact them too just to make it clear to them where their constituents stand.

Follow these links and enter your addess and zip to find out who to contact:

To contact your NY State Senator

NY Assembly Person

Helpful tip: Save some time and make it easier on yourself by typing up your message in a Word document first then just copy and paste it into their online forms.

The more of us who speak up the better!

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