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Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a father who taught me how to handle and respect guns. This is probably the reason I never had that curious urge to “play” with daddy’s guns as a kid (note to ALL parents – even if guns are not kept in the house, you can still teach your kids how to use and handle them safely). Throughout college I never really thought of owning a gun (youthful ignorance, I guess). Sure, I went to the range a couple of times with my dad and brother but always used their hardware. Cue college graduation. . .

One gift stood out from the rest: my dad’s Ruger SR9. His reasoning was, “now that you will be officially on your own, you need to be able to protect yourself.” Of course, I accepted this great gift and placed it, unloaded, on the highest shelf in the closet. If I really needed it, I figured I could dust it off, find the ammo, have it loaded and ready in no time.

As frequently happens, life went on. Along came the wife and then the true game changer: my son. For me, having a kid made me take a hard look at my ability to effectively protect my family.

At first, I thought to myself, no problem, I have a gun. I probably should take it out to make sure it works. So, I dusted off the case and decided to take this neglected hunk of metal to the local gun range for a refresher.

I bought some targets, ammo, rented the eyes and ears and set up for my first shot. I aimed at the paper target…and missed. I spent the next two hours (buying a lot more expensive ammo) working on my accuracy and got a little better. Certainly nothing to write home about.

At the end of the embarrassing range session I came to the conclusion that I really need practice. The SR9  – even after all that time on the shelf – worked flawlessly. My problem was user error.

Bringing the gun home, along with a healthy load of shame, I remembered that I should probably clean the piece after all that shooting. It was then that I realized that I didn’t have any solvent, oil, tools, etc. Great. Needless to say, I was definitely NOT in a position to protect anyone (I won’t get into how it eventually took me longer than it should have to take down the gun to clean it for the first time).

I am not a fighter. If something were to ever hit the fan, looking tough would only get me so far. But that wouldn’t do much to protect my family if they were ever in real danger.

The playing field indeed needed to tilted more in my favor if a DGU was ever required. I decided that I needed to be mentally and physically prepared for a defensive scenario. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Well, that, and really knowing the inner workings of the tools available to you. So, I practiced and learned as much as I could. And in the process, I’ve really gotten into shooting sports – a great stress reliever after a busy work week.

Home carry and a quick-access gun vault now keep the one-year-old kid safe from the handguns in the house. Also, thanks to Ralph’s review, a closet wall-mounted H&R 1871 Pardner Pump Protector with a Blackhawk Recoil Reducing stock for good measure was added to the arsenal.

About three months after my epiphany, I had decided that only being able to protect my family inside the home was simply not enough and that a CCL would be necessary. Fortunately, I live in Florida so I had my CCL within 60 days.

At the time, though, the only pistol I owned was the Ruger SR9, not the most comfortable carry gun. But I made do. The best holster I found for it was a Theis IWB Holster (great holster) but the sheer weight of the rig tended to pull my pants down.

I’ve since graduated to something a bit smaller and more manageable – still with a Theis Holster – and have no problem carrying just about everywhere. Everywhere I’m allowed without being arrested or fired from work, that is.

Everyone comes to the realization that it’s their responsibility (and right) to protect themselves in their own way and time. I wanted to share my little tale because I am sure that there are many others out there who think they are prepared who really are not. It took years before I came to this realization and I hope my example can help someone take a look at where they stand and start “ironing out the bugs” now. Before they bite you.

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  1. Kinda puts paid to the idea that a gun-nut parent begets gun-nut kids.

    I hadn’t really thought about how having young kids has affected my outlook on self-protection, but in retrospect it does — and even more so than just having a wife I vowed to protect. I would give my life to defend my family, but it’s better to defend them ably and come out of it alive.

    Thanks for the sentiments.

  2. Excellent post.

    The truism cuts both ways.As surely as children of gun friendly households grow up armed and ready for the world,kids who grow up in a hoplophobic homestead leave the nest convinced guns are a bad thing.Unless said kid joins the military,as happened in my case.

  3. I totally reflect this story. I was bulletproof through my 20’s & 30’s (rock climbing, ww kayaking, etc) and didn’t realize that, even though I was married, there was someone else that needed my protection until my first daughter arrived on the scene 8 years ago. Wow, what an eye opener. Eight years on, both my wife and I carry daily and our kids are growing up in a safe and gun-educated home. Guns are not *the* answer, but they are definitely one of the components (along with education) of keeping the family safe.

    Great story. Let us know how your wife handles it. Mine thought I was crazy for the first few years (especially when I took classes like “Low-Light Operators” and “CQB pistol”). I never pushed and always invited her to the range when I went, so she’s slowly reversed her gears and sees that it’s not just the firearms, its the safety. These days we live in the country and can go outside to the “range”, but we love to plink .22’s together and she carries a mid-size .380 daily. My 8 y.o. has a Red Ryder and will probably graduate to a .22 when we get her into 4H.

    • Thank you! Truth be told, the wife is one of those souls that grew up in an anti-gun household so she brought the mindset that “guns are evil” to the table when we got together. At first she thought I was nuts for wanting to go to the range and carry a firearm around with me. And of course we had the conversation that went something along the lines of, “Why do you need more than one??!!”

      I completely agree with your strategy. I never pushed my beliefs on her and always invite her to come out shooting. She has since come a long way and now sees “the light”. She now respects their place (function?) in the household and has expressed more and more interest in learning about them along the way.

      I do look forward to the days when I can take my son out shooting with me and teaching him all I can. 🙂

  4. Remember this when it comes to raising your own kids. It’s not enough to just hand them a gun when they leave home. The real gift is the skill to use it, and the wisdom to understand what it’s for. The piece of steel itself should be a graduation present.

  5. Your article says “guns as a kid (not to ALL parents”, I think you meant to write “guns as a kid (note to ALL parents” note not not ? As in writing a note.

  6. Eric, your Dad gave you a great gift. You’re giving your wife and son an even better one. Kudos to you for an awesome post.

  7. No kids yet (and thank heavens for that, I’m not nearly responsible enough) but when I started to get serious with the fiancee, I started to get serious with my gun, and my whole lifestyle seemed to shift accordingly. Congrats on your family and your decision to take their defense and well-being seriously.

  8. Great article! My daughter is just a year older, however I didn’t find myself with a firearm until about a year and a half ago when my wife’s father passed. He was in law enforcement and left behind a few semis and wheel guns. I had never been around firearms growing up, and decided that if I were to have these in the house (yes, first purchase was a safe) I needed to learn how to use them. Yea, hooked now… CHL, range membership, starting to looking a reloading as an option.

  9. Wife was badly traumatized when she lost her brother to a crazy, shotgun wielding security guard at 17. She flat out refused to let me bring a gun in the house for almost 8 years. Like the others here, I was patient and understanding of her fears and invited her to join me from time to time. After 15 years and a daughter on the way, she relented and went with me to the range. I am happy to state that she has discovered the fun, stress relieving aspects of our sport.

    My only problem now is that it turns out she is a natural and shoots WAY better than me. And she wonders why I try not to bring her along when meeting with the shooting buddies.

  10. I taught both my kids how to shoot, and my daughter got a brand new Millenium Pro when she graduated college. Now that she has finally gotten a full time job, she’ll be able to take the classes to get qualified for her CCW.

  11. I always hear people complain about guns weighing down their pants; I haven’t really had this issue. My EDC is whichever of my XD9 pistols happens to be clean and loaded, my holster is a horsehide crossbreed, and my belt is a double-layer affair from Wild Bill’s Concealment.

    It seems to me that the piece of gear that everyone seems to forget is a good, thick, sturdy leather belt. Ideally you want it to stretch just enough to mold to your curves and corners so that you don’t get any hotspots. This may take awhile, and while you are breaking in a new belt be prepared for carry to be highly uncomfortable; it takes time. Rest assured that once your leather is broken in you won’t even feel it.


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