If you like guns and shooting, people assume that you must be politically-conservative. I think that’s a false assumption. A person can be liberal or moderate or conservative, politically, and still enjoy shooting at a target range or hunting. But I’d like to address another one of the false assumptions about guns, that persons who own a gun for defense of family and self must like guns and shooting. Yes, if you like to shoot, you probably own a gun that could also serve the role of home defense, if the necessity arises. However, if you don’t like guns and shooting as a recreation, you should still give some consideration to owning a gun for self-defense. People who dislike guns have a tendency to shy away from buying a gun for home defense, but it could save lives.
I’m not saying and I do not believe, that everyone needs to own a gun for self-defense. Only you can make that determination, based on the particulars of your situation. But if you are prepping for various short-term or long-term disasters, the defense of yourself, your family, and your home deserves some attention. If you lose your life, all your preparations were in vain. If you lose a family member to an attack by criminals, all the stored supplies and equipment will not make up for that loss.
A mistake that experienced shooters often make in recommending a gun for self-defense is to recommend what they themselves would use. They prefer .40 or .45 caliber over 9mm, and a semi-automatic handgun over a revolver. They prefer an AR-15 military-style rifle. They can handle the recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun. So they make recommendations based on those preferences.
But someone who does not enjoy shooting is probably not going to spend much time practicing with their self-defense gun. Without practice, the greater recoil and muzzle blast of higher calibers is a big disadvantage. You can’t defend yourself with a gun, if you can’t hit anything. If you don’t like guns, and you are considering getting a gun for self-defense, first, choose a caliber with less recoil and muzzle blast: 9mm, or .380 auto, or .38 special, or even .22 long rifle.
If you are thinking of getting a handgun, consider a revolver over a semi-automatic. A semi-auto has a removable magazine. You have to rack the slide to load a round from the magazine. There may be a manual safety that must be flipped to the ‘fire’ position. A round can jam, or the brass may fail to eject. Despite all the boasts of reliability of certain semi-automatic pistols, a revolver is more reliable. As Butch pointed out in a previous post, an inexperienced shooter is probably better off with a revolver than a semi-auto, “they’re generally easier to operate, more reliable, and less likely to jam up.”
But even a revolver loaded with .38 special ammo has a considerable kick to it, from the point of view of a new shooter. And if you have rarely shot any gun, you cannot expect to be very accurate with a handgun, even if it is reliable and has little recoil. It’s not easy to hit a target at more than 10 feet or so, without some practice at a range. An inexperienced shooter, under duress from an attacker using deadly force, is not going to be able to hit that attacker with a handgun until he is all too close. Even at that, the shot will not be very accurate. Some of the shots may miss altogether.
In police officer shootings, when an officer must use deadly force in the line of duty, the ratio of hits to total shots fired is lower than you might expect. The numbers vary a great deal depending on the circumstances, but a self-defense shooting might have difficult circumstances as well. And remember, these are trained professionals:
“For example, it has long been believed that officers overall have a dismal 15-25 percent hit probability in street encounters, suggesting truly poor performance under the stress of a real shooting situation. Actually, this figure, while essentially true in the aggregate, is markedly skewed by certain shooting variables, Aveni found.
“During a 13-year span, the Baltimore County PD, which Aveni regards as one of the best trained in the country, achieved an average hit ratio of 64 percent in daylight shootings – not ideal, but clearly much better than commonly believed. In shootings that occurred in low-light surroundings, however, average hits dropped to 45 percent, a 30 percent decline. The data from Los Angeles County (LAC) reveals a somewhat comparable 24 percent decline.”
How accurate will an inexperienced shooter be under duress? Much less accurate than a well-trained police officer. It’s not like shooting paper at a firing range.
That’s why you might consider getting a long gun for home defense. Even a shooter with little experience will be able to shoot a long gun with much greater accuracy than a handgun. Self-defense with guns is not primarily about firepower, but shot placement. Hunters say the same thing about taking game; accuracy is crucial.
Of course, you defeat this advantage if you get a long gun that has too much power, recoil, and muzzle blast for a new shooter. That’s why I would suggest new shooters pass on getting a 12 gauge shotgun, or any of the larger caliber rifles (like .308), as a self-defense weapon.
The recoil on a 9mm carbine is greatly reduced from that of a handgun by the greater weight of the carbine, and by the fact that you brace the weapon against your shoulder. The muzzle blast and noise is reduced by the longer barrel. Accuracy is much greater than in a 9mm pistol. And all of these advantages come with an increase in firepower, because the longer barrel increases the velocity of the bullet.
I know many people say that the .22 long rifle round is too small for self-defense. But with the accuracy of a long gun and good shot placement, it is suitable for a new shooter or someone who is more sensitive to recoil and noise. When you use a gun in self-defense, you probably do not have time to put on hearing protection. And if you are shooting in-doors, in a narrow hallway for example, the noise is even greater.
I don’t think you want a lever-action rifle or a bolt-action rifle for self-defense. Under the stress of a deadly threat, you might have some difficulty working the lever or the bolt to load the next round.