Do you own a handgun?
Do you know when to use it?
Can you take care of it?
Do you know how to use it?
These are not dumb questions to ask, because not everyone is knowledgeable about firearms, not even the ones they have in their own houses. Sometimes people buy handguns in reaction to a nearby shooting, but don’t take the time to learn about the firearm they have plopped down good money for. Sometimes one spouse has purchased the gun(s) and the other spouse is not familiar or comfortable with handling it (them).
Luckily, there are licensed, NRA sanctioned, firearms training facilities all across the country where a person can attend classes that teach the laws governing the use of firearms. The classes also cover safety, as well as proficiency, in handling a firearm.
In the USA, you must have a permit to legally purchase a handgun. You fill out a form at the gun shop, and in about a week, after the background check has been completed, you can actually purchase the gun.
If you need to obtain a concealed/carry permit, you must attend a class that includes:
information about the gun laws,
definitions of what is meant by lethal force,
safe care and handling of a handgun,
a written test,
a handgun proficiency test.
If you meet all the requirements, then a stricter background check is run and in 4-6 weeks, the permit may be issued.
You need to know the laws in your state for owning and operating your firearm.
Not all states have the same laws about gun ownership. Some states allow open carrying, some allow concealed carrying, some allow properly licensed handgun owners to cross state lines with their guns, some don’t. Violation of these laws in any of these situations can land you in jail. And, by the way, ignorance of the law is not an excuse to avoid jail time or hefty fines.
There are legal definitions about when (and where) you are allowed to use your gun in self-defense and they vary somewhat from state to state. Ya can’t just go shootin’ your gun off in public. That will land you in jail everywhere.
Even if you have the proper credentials and concealed/carry permits, there are some places where you absolutely cannot take your gun. After a deadly shooting in a health care facility in North Carolina a few years ago, the laws were changed to bar handguns for everyone visiting private health care facilities except for law enforcement personnel. Some restaurants allow handguns, but if liquor is served, the law is different. A training class will point out the most recent changes in the law for a dozen different public settings – parks, bars, parades, etc.
How does one decide when to use a gun for self-defense?
Ask yourself whether firing it is an appropriate use of lethal force, because make no mistake, if the bullet leaves the gun, it can kill somebody.
Think before firing. There are legal ramifications to your decisions. The law requires certain legal hurdles to be met before a shooting can be justified.
Is it reasonable to shoot this person?
If the person is your size or larger, as fit as you or stronger, is threatening you with serious bodily harm, you are sure that walking away will not stop the threat, and if the police won’t get there in time, then you may be within your rights to shoot – but not always.
Is it proportional to what has already happened?
If talking the situation over has not worked, or if the other person has escalated the violence in the situation, if you are being robbed, if you are being beaten, or if you are being threatened with a gun, then you may be within your rights to shoot – but not always.
Is it necessary to shoot this person?
The danger for harm to yourself must be immediate – that is, if you don’t take a shot right then, it will be too late. You may be within your rights to shoot – but not always.
You do not have the right to shoot someone else “just ‘cause they had it coming.”
In every court case where a shooting is involved, when the phrase ‘reasonable force’ is used, the prosecution and the defense alike are looking quite seriously at what led up to the actual shooting – who did what to whom and why.
There is more to owning a gun than buying it and sticking it in a drawer.
Future posts will deal with loading your handgun safely without shooting yourself in the face or foot, proper storage of your firearm, as well as caring for your firearm so that it will fire properly when it’s needed.
*photos taken by Patti Phillips at Freedom Firearms Training, in Carthage, NC.
Many thanks to Steve Jones and his staff for allowing me to visit during one of his concealed/carry permit classes.
Steve Jones is an experienced NRA firearms instructor and is the owner/operator of Freedom Firearms Training.
Please visit www.FreedomFirearmsTrainingnc.com for information about the training available at this well-run facility.
Ireland is a land with great small pubs tucked into the corners of the countryside, both a traveler’s relief and a tourist destination. Enter at lunchtime and prepare to enjoy one of the several rustic dishes that Ireland is famous for – lamb stew, colcannon, peasant soup, brown bread, bangers and mash, fresh fish, or Shepherd’s Pie. During one of our trips, Sheila and I realized that there are as many versions of Shepherd’s Pie as there are cooks in the kitchen. We had always thought that perhaps, except for spices, the ingredients would be the same everywhere. Nope. I think the only common factors we found were the peas and carrots in every bowl (or plate) served. Even the toppings varied from pub to pub – we had both pie crust and mashed potatoes covering the tasty meat and veggie dish. Some had ground lamb for the meat, instead of the beef that we use in this recipe.
Shepherd’s Pie, in whatever form, is a fairly simple dish to create. After tinkering a bit, this is what Sheila created. And, of course, taste tested by me.
Serve right away, with brown bread and butter.
*Photo by Patti Phillips
Kerrian’s Notebook has been around for 100 pages. That deserves some serious noisemakers. Maybe that should be 100 handcuffs rattling or 100 jail cells slamming shut on the bad guys, but whatever noise we use to celebrate? Make it loud. We love a party!
In honor of the 100 pages, here is a list of 100 ways to die by unnatural causes. A death certificate (which lists the cause of death) is issued after any death in the USA, whether natural or otherwise, but if the attending medical practitioner notes anything suspicious, an inquiry may or may not be conducted. Keep in mind that a law enforcement officer will only investigate these deaths if a dastardly deed is suspected. Sometimes, foul play is not always apparent.
Can you spot the ones in the list that indicate murder was afoot?
1) Drowning in bathtub
2) Drowning in ocean because of undertow
3) Drowning in a molasses spill
4) Suffocation by pillow
5) Suffocation after entire body has been painted
6) Hanging by rope
7) Electrocution for death penalty
8) Electrocution by hairdryer
9) Electrocution by electrified fence
10) Electrocution while changing light bulb
11) Hit by lightning
12) Knife in the chest
13) Knife in the leg
14) Axe to the head
15) Bleeding out because of slit wrists
17) Gas leak in house
18) Smoke inhalation
19) Bullet to the head
20) Accidental drug overdose
21) Medical malpractice
22) Tripped and hit head, cracking skull
23) Beaten to death
24) Death by roller coaster
25) Vending machine fell with your arm in it
26) Lethal mix of drugs and alcohol
27) Alcohol poisoning
28) Radiation poisoning
29) Arsenic in tea
30) Baked in an oven
31) Allergic reaction to shellfish
32) Allergic reaction to nuts
33) Attacked by wolves
34) Bitten by cobra
35) Clawed by tiger
36) Mauled by a shark
37) Attacked by alligator – C.C.J.
38) Bitten by several fire ants
39) Bitten by poisonous spiders
40) Crushed by boa constrictor
41) Thrown from a horse
42) Trampled by elephants
43) Gored by a bull
44) Bitten by scorpion
45) Bitten by mosquito during sleep – allergic reaction to bite – B.R
46) Poisoned by contact with weed killers
47) Poisoned by ingesting toxic flowers/leaves
48) Crushed by falling tree
49) Stepped on a land mine
50) Bomb explosion
51) Rocket attack
52) Hit in the head by a pitched ball
53) Death in a boxing match
54) Car accident, crushed
55) Car accident, gas tank explodes
56) Car accident – car ripped in half by telephone wire – anonymous
57) Hit by a car while crossing the street
58) Hit by commuter train
59) Propane tank on BBQ exploded
60) Chemical spill
61) Airplane crash
62) Airplane mid-air explosion
63) Parachute didn’t open
64) Parasail collided with cliff
65) Choked on food
66) Choked on bottle cap
67) Pushed off a cliff
68) Fell off a roof
69) Jumped out a window
70) Froze in a snow bank
71) Stabbed with icicle
72) Buried in an avalanche
73) Fell off a ski lift
74) Starved to death
75) Mercury poisoning
76) Asbestos poisoning
78) Strangled by another person
79) Strangled – tie caught in laminating machine while wearing it
80) Sword fight
81) Sniper bullet
82) Stabbed with knitting needle
83) Hung upside down by feet until dead
84) Death by dehydration
85) Sinkhole collapsed with person in it – C.C.J.
86) Latrine on flatbed of truck fell onto your car – J.P.M.
87) Death by barbed wire fence – J.P.M.
88) Cyanide salts in an almond cake – E.M.
89) Elevator doors malfunctioned and closed on neck
90) Walked into empty elevator shaft
91) Jumped off diving board into empty pool
92) Got stuck in a storm drain while trying to retrieve wallet
93) Trapped inside a folding bed
94) Buried under falling bookshelves
95) Mangled by farming/industrial machinery
97) Shot yourself while cleaning a gun
98) Crashed into tree while ziplining
99) Bungee cord broke while jumping
Sources? I’ve lived longer than I’d like to admit and over 90 of these deaths are ones I’ve heard about in the news or seen in the movies over the years. Some of the Kerrian’s Notebook readers have told me about a few more. Thanks to Barbara Rosario, Christy Crowley Johnson, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and a person who prefers to remain anonymous, for their ripped-from-the-headlines suggestions. Thanks to mystery writer Edith Maxwell for an intriguing cause of death. I wonder if one of her books will include that COD? Remind me to stay away from any almond dishes at her house. 😉
*Photos by Patti Phillips, but nobody died while she was shooting them, nor is the body part in the fourth picture real flesh and blood.