Washington Times

Article explores the logistics and responsibilities of owning guns for self-defense


Gun Purchase Isn’t a Shot in the Dark

Experts stress training, weighing decision carefully

You’ve see the pattern repeated time and again: An act of violence such as the Starbucks slayings occurs close to home, and suddenly many residents are talking about buying firearms to protect themselves.

But gun experts and police officers warn would-be gun owners from making a hasty decision in the throes of fear and insecurity: Bringing home a gun is a serious undertaking.

“Using a gun for self-defense is not for everyone,” says Ernie Lyles, co-owner of Gilbert’s Small Arms Range in Lorton, which has taught handgun safety classes for 13 years. “First-time buyers must weigh the repercussions of using deadly force.”

“You must train sufficiently to be comfortable using the gun before you bring it home,” says Capt. Pat Sullins of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office.

They suggest that potential gun owners confront two key issues:

  • Would fear or anger impair your ability to assess a situation? If you answer yes, you should consider another form of self-defense.
  • Could you kill someone and live with the consequences? Many new buyers believe they will be able to merely wound an attacker by aiming at an arm or leg instead of the trunk. But not aiming at the widest part of the body increases the likelihood of missing the target.