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Just as in home defense, the first idea is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By this, one should stay out of trouble, or situations that might lead to trouble. For example, if you are in the middle of a heated argument over a parking space, give it up. How did you get in such an argument in the first place? It's not worth it. Don't worry, you're not a "wimp."
If somebody calls you scumbucket, or whatever, don't take the bait and fight. Don't feel that you must "defend your masculinity" or demonstrate how "tough" you are.
Maintain your car and be sure that it will not break down in a bad neighborhood. (Try to stay away from bad neighborhoods, in passing.) Always leave 1-2 car lengths in front of you when you stop. That way, you may have room to manuver and get out. Your car windows should be rolled up and doors locked. Do not leave valuable things like a purse on the front passenger seat, as somebody can "smash and grab"---keep it on the floor, or in the trunk. If somebody bumps you from behind at low speed, think twice before you stop and get out; could it be a carjacking? Keep all shooting supplies, targets empty ammo boxes, radios, etc. out of sight; don't invite attention to your car or belongings.
Some of your "nasty" friends might be a lot of fun, but you should stay away from them---in the long run, they might get you in some serious trouble. Don't invite criminal attention: don't wear excessive jewelry, flash stacks of hundred-dollar bills, etc. Don't put stickers on your car that advertise expensive things that might be inside it. Ask your local police for advice about safety.
If you obey rules of this nature, it is relatively unlikely that you will be threatened. However, it is possible that even though you try to stay out of trouble, it might come to you.
Carrying a pistol provides you with a last means to protect your life if you feel that you are about to be killed or seriously injured. Many people---mainly males, for some reason---confuse a pistol with a means of defending their virility, a guarantee that they can tell other people to "f*** off" with confidence; they mistakenly think that flashing their "piece" is a means of saying "don't f*** with me, I'm one tough S.O.B." These people are confused, and *their* pistol is merely a means of getting them killed or imprisoned, because such behavior is both *illegal* and *dangerous*. If one breaks a law with a pistol, it is *very* easy to end up in prison. Would you want to go to the big house over something as stupid as pulling your gun out to scare an obnoxious drunk patron who spat upon you in a bar? Of course not....
If you decide that you want to carry a pistol, first you must see about securing the required concealed carry permits from the police. In some places, they are very hard---or impossible---to obtain. If you are in this unfortunate situation, you can do nothing more than try to lobby your local government, or consult a lawyer, depending on the specifics of your case.
Next, you have to attend a safety/defense classes. The pistol is such a difficult weapon to use that it takes a lifetime to master. You should constantly practice shooting if you are serious about carry, at distances that are typical of gunfights---3ft to 30ft. You should take as many classes as possible.
V.D.1: Selection of Weapon
You should fire a wide variety of pistols in order to decide what you wish to purchace. Your pistol should probably be a self-loading "automatic," in either 9mm, .40S&W, or .45acp. Calibers that are smaller than 9mm are questionable unless you are an extremely good shot. (If you can place two shots on an index card in about one second at 20 feet, you should carry whatever you want, even a .22lr; everybody else is probably better off with 9mm.)
Your pistol should have tritium sights. These sights contain an isotope of hydrogen (3H) which is in a capsule that glows in the dark. If you have to shoot at night---which is the case in 70% of all gunfights---they let you use your sights. If you have a pistol like a Glock 17, you probably don't need a second magazine, as the weapon can hold up to eighteen rounds. If you have a smaller pistol, like an HK P7, which can hold up to eight rounds, you might want a second magazine.
Your pistol should have a modern "jacketed hollowpoint" (JHP) rounds inside it. Brand names like Golden Saber, Black Tallon, and Gold Dot are typical of this type of ammunition.
You should resist impractical pistols like Desert Eagles and the like. Unless you are massive, you probably will never be able to hide them. Huge revolvers are very difficult to shoot rapidly and accurately, and the muzzle blast can blind you, making it difficult to use the sights---this is *unacceptable*. Finally, if the round is too powerful, it will pass through the target (assuming that you hit them), and through lots of other things, too, which is also unacceptable. You have a responsibility to be reasonable in your selection of ammunition.
You should get a high-quality pistol. Pistols are described elsewhere in this FAQ. Consider pistols from HK, Glock, SIG, Taurus, Colt, etc.
Where should you put your pistol? For men, the best place is in an "inside the pants" holster. If you wear a suit, you might be able to get away with a shoulder holster, but you must be very careful that it does not show through. Your co-workers will probably get very upset if they realize that you have a pistol, particularly if you work in a city, where most people do not shoot or understand guns. If you get an "inside the pants" holster, you probably should get a few pairs of larger pants and see your tailor. Be sure to wear the empty pistol in a holster to insure proper fit.
Women can put their pistol inside a bag, but it might be difficult to reach. (The pistol should not be free inside the bag; it should be in a special holster.) Also, an aggressor might be very interested in the bag. A woman can also use an "inside the pants" holster, but it is difficult to look stylish this way. While quite ugly looking, one of the best choices for women is a "fanny pack" holster. If you can get something like this custom-made for you, it is probably a good idea, since the common brands can be recognized by people with a good eye, which is to be avoided.
There are numerous other places to hide a pistol---like ankle holsters, belly bands, etc.,---but they are not very useful or practical. Unfortunately, the right holster for you depends on the shape of your body, the amount of clothes that you wear, etc. This issue is often discussed at length in gun magazines, but you should study some catalogs to see what is possible.
If you buy a holster, you should get a custom high-quality leather model which is specific to your pistol. A list of holster makers is provided elsewhere in the FAQ.
V.D.3: Mode of Carry
There are several ways to carry a pistol, C-1, C-2, C-3, and C-4.
C-1: This holds for pistols like the Colt .45. The pistol is "cocked and locked," meaning that you draw it, flip off the safety with your thumb, and start shooting.
Many people advocate C-1 carry, but I think that they are mistaken, for reasons that will be discussed shortly.
C-2: This holds for pistols like the SIG/Sauer. The pistol is loaded, but the hammer is down. When you draw the pistol, the first shot demands that you pull the trigger though a very long motion. The remaining rounds can be fired with a lighter trigger. C-2 carry is considered safer than C-1 carry, and there are no safties to take off. Most modern designs are C-2.
C-3: This mode of carry can be used for any pistol. The pistol is kept with an empty chamber, with all of the safeties off. When the pistol is drawn, the slide is "racked" back and released to put a round into the chamber moments before shooting. This is an extremely safe mode of carry, since even a malfunction of the pistol will not result in an accidental discharge.
C-4: This mode of carry has an empty pistol with no ammunition in it. The pistol must be drawn, the magazine inserted (putting it into C-3), and then the slide must be drawn back and released before the weapon is ready to fire. C-4 demands the operator to find two things, the pistol and the magazine, and combine them; this might not be a good idea under a high-stress situation.
C-3 is probably the best mode of carry. Correct presentation of the pistol involves putting your hand on the butt, clearing the holster, putting your hands together, pulling the slide back as you bring the pistol in front of your line of sight, obtaining the "Weaver" stance, and then using aimed fire. Because the "racking" of the slide is "pipelined" with the presentation, C-3 does *not* take longer than C-1.
The major problems with C-3 carry is that you need two hands to do it, and it might therefore be useless if you are jumped at very short distance. However, if you opt for C-3 carry, you must *ALWAYS* practice it, and nothing else. (Racking the slide on a draw must be a habit that you don't have to think about.)
YOU SHOULD ALWAYS INSPECT AND CLEAN YOUR PISTOL, so it is clean and happy, no matter what your chosen mode of carry is.
V.D.4: When to draw or shoot?
Three conditions have to met before you can even consider drawing your pistol:
--> somebody has the *intent* of killing or severely hurting you --> they have the *means* of doing so (a knife, pistol, shotgun, their hands, etc.) --> they have the immediate *opportunity* to do so
Can you escape without danger? If so, DO IT! In some states, this is required of you.
If there is nothing that you can do to escape without making your position more desparate, in one smooth motion you draw your pistol, rack the slide while bringing it up to eye level, and shoot until you stop the person. Shoot for the center of the torso. Do not issue any warnings; you should not be shooting unless the situation is very grave, and there is nothing more that you can do for them.
If the first few shots are not having any effect, either you are missing (very easy to do with a pistol), or they are wearing armor; in this case, you must shoot for the head or perhaps the pelvis. Your intent is *NOT* to kill the person, it is only to stop them. Do not try to "shoot for the leg," since you are probably not good enough to hit a small moving target. The moment that you stop them, STOP SHOOTING! Render your gun safe, holster it, and call the police and an ambulance.
Of course, you should aways remember that there may be people behind both you and your target. You should try very hard to be careful not to kill a bystander by accident.
Be very careful about what you say to the police without your lawyer, and see if you can get the name of any witnesses who might have seen what happened.
Here are some examples of when you should *NOT* draw your pistol:
-- somebody stole your purse or briefcase
Resist the temptation to shoot them in the back, it's illegal!
-- somebody is kicking your car in a parking lot
Don't draw and try to "hold them for the police;" just back off and call the police.
-- somebody is exposing themselves to you, or playing with themselves
This will not kill you, so don't draw!
-- a gang of youths are walking towards you
Back off, cross the street, etc. Don't look scared, since you know what to do if they force you.
-- somebody is mugging you
Don't shoot to protect your wallet. Only shoot to protect yourself. So, if some heroin addict is demanding your wallet, hand it over. If they try to hurt you, however, you must draw and shoot to stop, as outlined above.
-- somebody is trying to cut you with a knife from behind a big fence
If they can't reach you, you are not in immediate harm, so DO NOT SHOOT! ALL THREE CONDITIONS must be met before you shoot.
As mentioned above, it is very difficult to shoot with a pistol, so you should take as many lessons as possible. As always, you should be *intimately* familiar with the local laws of your state. If you carry a pistol, you must be on your best behavior, trying very hard to stay out of fights and arguments.