Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Deadly Force

Day before yesterday Ellen and I took an all-day course in "concealed carry." That is, as in weapon. You know: A gun. One of these days someone in my novels is going to get talked into carrying a gun – probably Betsy – and I wanted to know how the process of getting a permit works. Besides, maybe because I write so much about criminal behavior and how ordinary people can find themselves in danger that I began to wonder what I would do in real life when faced with a deadly threat.

But it’s an awesome thing to pick up a gun. In a strange kind of way, it’s like getting married. Dating can be fun, but marriage is serious, not something to be entered into lightly. Same with owning a gun. It’s an extremely adult thing, not something to do frivolously.

Our instructor was a woman and we were her only students for this class. She teaches at home – which is in a mobile home park. We sat on a comfortable leather couch facing the biggest big-screen tv I have ever seen in my life. Pauline had her class set up on her computer, which was connected to the television screen, so we read along as she taught us about guns, the law, and the heavy responsibilities laid on people who decide they need to carry a lethal weapon.

We looked at different kinds and sizes of bullets and learned how to identify rim fire from center fire cartridges. We looked at revolvers and semi automatics of various sizes and got to handle them in an unloaded state and learned their various parts. We learned about the laws concerning owning and carrying such weapons.

We learned that it’s true that pug dogs are friendly and that they snort and snore – Pauline owns a coal-black one, who wanted to take naps on our laps.

We ended the long day at a firing range. Even with ear protection, the man down the line firing an AK-47 was making a terrifying noise. When you know what you are doing, the fear of picking up a lethal weapon diminishes and empowerment happens. I was given the loan of a 9 mm semi automatic. I loaded the clip and inserted it into the grip, snapped off the safety, and put fifteen holes in a man-shaped paper target, thirteen in the center of his chest, one in his throat and one in his belly button – my hand was getting tired near the end. I hadn’t fired a gun in many years, so this was very satisfying. The distance was only eight yards, but in real life, that is about where the decision to pull the trigger happens. Sad and scary, and I most sincerely hope I never have to face a real threat. But now I know I can.

Ellen passed, too.


Betty Hechtman said...

I went to a firing range through the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA and we were offered all different guns and rifles to shoot. The noise, the smell, the energy waves that came off the guns were all overwhelming. I never got to the point of empowerment.

Camille Minichino said...

I went through a similar course, but never could actually pull the trigger.
I guess I've always chosen flight over fight.

squiresj said...

My husband is a deputy and carries two pistols and now a shot gun. I have no desire to learn how to shoot any of these guns. Yet I have had my girls grow up with guns in the house. My husband taught them gun safety at a very young age. He was an NRA Instructor for years before we met and married.
I would love to review this book for you. I had never heard of you before and have never read any of your books.

Ellen said...

Camille -- With my knees and ankles, 'flight or fight' is hardly a choice. I could be chased down by an agile turtle.

Monica Ferris said...

SquiresJ: Visit my web site at to learn more about my books. Contact me vis it if you have any questions. Welcome to my world!

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