The thought of living in a society that has become so degenerate that one may require lethal force to protect life and property is justly repellent to rational people. And yet a barbarous society could easily develop in the desperate aftermath of an economic crisis. Since it appears that such a crisis is distinctly possible (some would even say probable) it seems necessary for prudent people to give careful if reluctant thought towards selecting and learning to use defense firearms suited to their individual needs. Matching weapons and appropriate training methods to common defense situations is the major topic of this article.
No prior experience with firearms is expected on the part of the reader. Indeed, people who are knowledgeable in the use of firearms have doubtless suitably equipped themselves and are not in need of additional assistance. The discussion which follows is intended for the novice who wishes to achieve an effective level of competence in the use of one or two well-chosen weapons without spending an undue amount of time and energy in the process. Fortunately this goal is not difficult to achieve.
Modern firearms are specialized tools and choosing single weapons for multiple uses involves unavoidable compromise. Still it is possible to find excellent firearms that will perform one's priority functions extremely well and yet remain adequately effective in related secondary situations. Priority functions for most people are: 1) the defense of the home and its contents, 2) the defense of one's person while out of the home.
In the defense of the home no finer weapon exists than the shotgun whose formidable power is legendary. (Indeed, shotguns are frequently used by professional hunters in East Africa when it is necessary to pursue wounded lions in dense brush.) And yet for all its effectiveness the level of skill needed for home defense may be achieved by most people in a single afternoon's practice. In addition, shotguns may be obtained in most areas with a minimum of bureaucratic fuss.
The shotgun selected should be a pump action model in either 12 or 20 gauge with a short, open-choked barrel designed for shooting deer. Such a weapon holds five cartridges; it is short enough to manipulate quickly, and will allow the fullest spread of pellets in the shortest possible distance. An excellent choice is the Remington 870 Brushmaster. Select the more powerful 12 gauge model if all the individuals who will be shooting it weigh at least 125 lbs; otherwise the 20 gauge should be chosen. Please note that for purposes of short range defense shooting the smaller 20 gauge does not result in decreased effectiveness. Thus if any question exists regarding the choice of gauge, opt for the more easily controlled 20.
Ammunition intended for interior use should be the variety designed for shooting doves and quail. Such loads will stop an aggressor instantly but will not so severely upset the shooter as to delay a quick second shot in the event of a miss. Moreover, these medium powered loads, while being completely effective against humans, are not likely to penetrate walls and perhaps injure innocent people elsewhere in the building. Under no circumstances should apartment dwellers or persons with large households keep shotguns loaded with magnum ammunition. However, powerful loads should be readily available in case it becomes necessary to protect one's well-provisioned home against plunder. Buckshot loads are ideal for such grim service.
All individuals in the household who may need to use the shotgun must receive sufficient practice with the weapon to insure success in a crisis. First, basic familiarity with the firearm must be achieved. Know how the shotgun functions, how it is loaded, and how it is made safe. Please keep in mind that a weapon is most likely to be needed at night and all operations should be sufficiently familiar that they may be performed in the dark. Next, by firing at targets set at different distances everyone should note the degree to which the shot cloud expands at expected ranges. Lastly, each user must fully understand the lethal potential of the weapon they may one day use in earnest. As a demonstration a large, water-filled can or bucket should be shot and its total destruction duly noted by all concerned.
Once everyone is familiar with the safe operation of the shotgun and understands its capabilities it will be necessary to practice firing under simulated conditions. Earmuffs should always be worn during such sessions. Since household defense is intended the ranges need be no longer than the greatest distance in the home. Targets should be large to approximate the human torso: sheets from a legal tablet serve well. Emphasize accuracy over speed at all times and do not neglect to continually stress the need to clearly identify any target before firing—unhappily, many people are killed each year in their homes by family members who mistook them for burglars.
The following practice game is suggested which promotes good defense shooting skills plus positive target identification. Several targets are set up behind a shooter which are in every way identical except for clearly visible numbers marked on their faces. On signal the shooter turns and fires at a single directed number only. Speeds and hits are recorded for scoring purposes but mistakenly shot targets result in an automatic loss. From time to time vary the practice by giving one number immunity while requiring the shooter to hit the others as rapidly as possible. Again scores are recorded and disqualifications result if a safe target is hit. Individuals who are proficient at this game may be relied upon to give an aggressor a short but highly exciting time indeed and yet present no threat whatever to family members and friends. This training is enjoyable but yet extremely effective since a high level of skill is quickly reached by all shooters. Additionally these successes build confidence which is essential to effective action in a crisis.
IN DEFENSE OF PERSON
During the unsettled times following an economic crisis it will not be possible for most people to remain in their homes until normalcy returns, and yet travel outside the home may be very dangerous. In preparation for such an eventuality the reader is urged to acquire and gain proficiency in the use of one final weapon—a small but powerful handgun which is to be worn hidden about the person but may be produced and fired quickly in an emergency. Unfortunately in many parts of America handguns are difficult to obtain in a straightforward manner. However, those readers who live in areas where handguns are highly restricted may be certain that in such localities a weapon will be needed all the more and whatever effort is required to procure one should be expended.
What is needed is a small .38 caliber revolver with a rounded handle and a barrel not longer than three inches. An ideal choice is the Smith & Wesson Model 36 or its stainless steel equivalent, the Model 60. Such a weapon is utterly devastating when used with high velocity, hollow point ammunition and is far easier to shoot accurately than most individuals have been led to expect.
Some readers may be tempted to rely upon an automatic loading pistol instead of a revolver. The only important advantage of an automatic is its quicker reloading capability. Although this feature is of decided importance to a soldier in a situation where many highly trained and determined aggressors may be encountered at once, in a civilian situation one is unlikely to meet a group of more than two or three adversaries in which case a revolver's 5 or 6 shots are more than adequate. Of far more importance to a private citizen are such factors as safety, concealability, reliability, accessibility, and simplicity of use. In these areas a revolver of the type previously recommended is clearly a superior weapon.
Before practicing with the handgun it will be necessary to first obtain a suitable holster. Select a hip scabbard with a slight forward tilt and without a retaining strap. Such a holster will fit either a man or a woman and will conceal a firearm under a coat or jacket while maintaining the weapon in the proper position for rapid use. Small individuals who may have difficulty fully concealing a firearm are urged to select a suit of bulky clothes for those occasions when it must be carried. Weapons must never be carried in purses or briefcases which might be snatched away.
One last item must be attended to prior to shooting—the weapon must be made to fit the shooter's hand properly if it doesn't already do so. Individuals with small hands usually experience no difficulty in this regard but large people often require oversized grips. Items of this sort may be obtained at modest cost through firearm dealers.
Training with a defense handgun must approximate real life situations as closely as possible. In almost every case where deadly force is needed to preserve life in the street, the aggressor is within a very few feet of the victim. Frequently both parties are in physical contact. Survival depends upon the ability to quickly deliver one or more shots somewhere in the attacker's torso. Thus, pinpoint accuracy as learned on traditional target ranges is completely inappropriate to actual conditions.
Defense training should begin in the home with an unloaded weapon. Practice drawing, extending, and firing the handgun in one smooth, continuous motion. Keep the firearm low and pay no attention to the sights. Practice only to the point where one is certain that the weapon is not being fired until safely clear of the body then switch to an outdoor setting and live ammunition. Use a piece of legal sized note paper as a target placed not more than three feet away and slightly above stomach level. Repeatedly draw and fire as was done at home with primary attention being given first to accuracy and then to speed. With a bit of practice the shooter will begin to turn in increasingly impressive scores which are the source of much satisfaction. Vary the sessions by adding multiple targets ahead of and then behind the shooter. Initially each variation will result in lowered scores but performance quickly improves to the point where the shooter may be considered deadly in any close range situation.
Once the preceding task is mastered target distances may be gradually increased. As this is done one automatically extends the weapon further from the body and somewhat higher than was true at very close ranges. In spite of this adjustment however, the shooter will reach a point at which scores begin to fall off. At distances greater than a few feet good performances may only be obtained by holding the weapon with both hands (one around the other) and paying increasing attention to the sights. But do not become too concerned with distant targets. A high level of proficiency in close shooting offers the greatest survival value and is neither difficult nor excessively time consuming to achieve.
ON USING FORCE
At this point a few words are in order regarding the use of deadly force to repel violence. The moment a person initiates a violent act that person relinquishes the right to be safe from violence. At the same moment the intended victim is released from the obligation to withhold force and if, in the defense of life, such force is required it may be applied with the conviction that to do so is a moral act. The point is that the aggressor in attempting to do murder repudiates life and thereby unavoidably validates death. That death should be such a person's fate is completely appropriate to their expressed philosophy.
Although it is not pleasant to coldly plan the means to destroy another human being it is nevertheless true that deadly weapons have often enabled gentle people—and all that they represent—to survive in the midst of savagery.
May you live a long and prosperous life.
Paul R. Benjamin first became interested in defense firearms white working as an accountant with Ives, Gregson and Company in New York, in his spare time he developed his well-known techniques for using these weapons and has recently moved to Chicago where he is devoting full time to improving the civil use of firearms.
Remington Arms Company, Inc.
P. O. Box 9500
Bridgeport, CT 06602
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2100 Roosevelt Ave.
Springfield, MA 01101
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This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Deadly Weapons for Gentle People".