Upcoming Topics

December 2, 2008

I haven’t been as prolific in posting the past few weeks, mostly because I’ve got a lot going on at work as well as here at home. Doing a bit of home improvements, spending some time outside to stave off the winter fat, the usual.

But I figured I’d give my readers (both of you!) a preview of what’s to come. Some of the following topics are already simmering in my “Drafts” folder, and others are still swimming around in my holiday-addled brain.

I’ll be discussing food storage tips for small families, individials and couples, as well as pantry planning for those with less-than-stellar culinary skills (or inclinations).

What about bushcraft, you ask? I’m planning a winter backpacking weekend with a few bushcrafty friends, and I’ll be sure to report back in detail. I’ll be testing some equipment, recipes and skills, and if I make it back alive, there’s sure to be a bit of humor involved.

Of course, many of my readers want to know more about firearms, specifically personal defense handguns and concealed carry topics. I’ve got a bit to say about the importance of tactical training, and that will be towards the top of the list of future posts.

I’m really hoping to get some input from readers, including suggestions, comments, corrections and brilliant ideas beyond my personal experience. Maybe even a good joke or two.

So stay tuned!

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Random Concealed Carry Stuff

November 13, 2008

Today I stopped by the sheriff’s department to renew my concealed handgun permit. Took a total of fifteen minutes, including filling out the renewal application, and fifty bucks. I don’t carry as much as some people think I should, but having my permit in force makes me feel better.

When I first got my permit, the process took about 6 weeks start to finish. First, I had to take a course in handgun safety–I opted for the classroom course offered by the Sheriff’s department, since if anything ever “went down,” I wanted to be able to have that particular certificate on my side, though I’ve taken quite a few different classes before and since. Then, I had to set an appointment date to show my certificate, get fingerprinted, turn in my application and get my mugshot taken. From that date, it took about another 5 weeks for the permit card to arrive. Of course, this is just in my county, in my state; you can find out what hoops through which you need to hop in your own hometown here.

As I’ve mentioned, renewal was a breeze. Of course, my photo is going to be horrific, because I overslept this morning and last night, I got drenched adjusting the downspouts on my gutters in the middle of the first big deluge of the season. I’d have worn a hat all day at work to hide the horrible do, but knowing they’d make me take it off for the photo, I figured I’d avoid having a hat-head on my license for the next four years. Well, my driver’s license more than makes up for it. In that mugshot, I look totally hot.

Back on topic! While waiting the few minutes for my number to be called, I was pleased to see that several of the applicants were females my age or a bit younger, and two of them were accompanied by their beaus…one was renewing his license, and the other, like his lady, was a first-timer. Do I feel an “Ideas for the Perfect Date” article coming on? Maybe not, but the scene warmed my heart like a Hallmark ad, and without the nausea.

The cheerful, matronly lady behind the counter told me that since Monday, she’d processed 83 new concealed handgun permit applications. “Lots of folks whose permits expired decades ago are coming in to renew, too,” she said. “People are a little uneasy.”

She had her hands full indeed, so I saved my next question for the woman in the front office. Recently, newspaper publishers around the country have found it fashionable to request and print the identities of concealed weapons permittees under the Freedom of Information Act. (Permit applications, both approved and rejected, are usually considered public record). As applications are made at each citizen’s county sheriff’s office, it is the local sheriff who must fight (or invite) the release of this information.

So I politely asked the attitude of our sheriff toward releasing information to the media. The clerk smiled at me, and said, “He’ll fight it all the way.”

“Good,” I said. “Thank him for me.”

If you’re considering a concealed handgun/weapon permit, or if you already have one, consider contacting the sheriff’s department for your counties of work and residence. Let them know your feelings about this matter, and while you’re at it, ask him what his policy is on concealed handgun permits in general. Send an e-mail or write a letter expressing the importance of your right to carry, because he or she is an elected official, and it’s your responsibility to speak up for yourself as a constituent.

Are you on the fence about getting your permit? Here are a few things to consider.

Some folks say, “I don’t want to be on some list.” Well, chances are, you’re already on some list. If you had to go through the background check to purchase a gun, you’re on a list. If you frequent firearms or self-reliance forums, I’d bet my tinfoil hat you’re on a list. Heck, the Men in Black are probably monitoring you right now, this very second, dying to find out if Prada does indeed make a Bug Out Bag, and if so, can they legislate a tax stamp for it?

You don’t think you’ll ever really carry a weapon with you, so..what’s the point? Well, let’s see. Say you have a situation (stalker, disgruntled and violent ex beau/employee/etc.), and you have a good reason to feel the need for immediate protection. Regardless of expedited permits, which are rare by the way, it will take days if not weeks (or months, in some counties) to legally carry a concealed firearm. Having laid the groundwork, taken the required classes, and received your permit well in advance of any urgent need is a pretty good idea. If you’re like me, and you had somebody threatening you with bodily harm, you’d probably opt to carry illegally if you had no other choice, but if you’re caught, or if (gawd forbid) you have to use that firearm against your aggressor, you’re faaaaaaaar better off to be on the side of the law (even if you’re already on the side of the constitution, but let’s leave that one alone for now, shall we?)

Another good reason to have your permit is to show that you value your rights. You’re not supporting RKBA because you like to duck hunt every year with your Uncle Bob. You’re supporting RKBA because you know you’re responsible for yourself and your own when some creep comes barging in the front door at 2am. Other good people will go further, and tell you that your AR-15 is for protecting you from authority gone amok, and I tend to agree.

Even I’m stunned when I learn how many permit holders are in this or that county. When I looked around the waiting room this afternoon, I realized that even I stereotype the typical gun owner. We’re not toothless rednecks (not that there’s anything wrong with being toothless OR a redneck) we’re not gullible to so-called “fear-mongering”, and we’re not police-academy-reject-cop-wannabes.

But I’ll bet my satin panties that most folks who do have a permit, or who simply own a rifle for sporting purposes, have never put forth any effort toward the preservation of RKBA. Dianne Feinstein, for one, has a concealed handgun permit (AND armed bodyguards) but she’s doing her best to make sure us peasants can’t have the same rights to self-preservation. OK, that’s extreme–but what about you? Come on, write a letter to your Sheriff, your Senator, your Congressman, your mayor, your governor, whatever. Choose a viable RKBA organization to support, and send in your dues. Your firearm might be concealed, but you should let your government know exactly what’s on your mind.


YIKES.

November 5, 2008
In this case, change isn't good...

In this case, change isn't so hot.

“My first priority will be to reinstate the assault weapons ban as soon as I take office. Within 90 days, we will go back after kitchen table dealers, and work to end the gun show and internet sales loopholes. In the first year, I intend to work with Congress on a national no carry law, 1 gun a month purchase limits, and bans on all semi-automatic guns.”

–Barack Obama, VPC Fund Raiser, 2007


Concealed Carry Accessories

November 3, 2008

An important factor in selecting your carry firearm–or when deciding whether or not to carry at all–is how and where you will secure your firearm to your person. I’m hoping this post will save you the time and hassle many women have gone through in the search for the best carry method for their own personal style.

Following are a few options, and the pros and cons as I see them.

Purse Carry: Purse carry is among the least secure means of carrying your firearm. Unless your purse is specially designed for carry, your gun will be jumbled in with the rest of your urban survival items, and possibly covered in lint and Junior Mint crumbles. (Well, that last part is just me). Second, consider how easy it might be for you to “flash” your firearm when rummaging around looking for change, your library card, or your wallet. Honestly, people freak out when they see guns, and in many places here in the States, you could get into legal trouble for “flashing” a gun even if it’s barely visible from your handbag.

Of course, purses are easily ripped off or left behind. If you do insist on purse carry, look into the type that has a reinforced shoulder strap that can’t be cut by a passing pickpocket, and think carefully about your tendency to leave stuff behind.

Have nosy teens or young kids? If you think for a heartbeat that your purse could be accessed by kids without proper firearms safety training, don’t take this route. You may think your teenager is an angel, but I know of a lot of angelic teenagers (and pre-teens) that have fished a few bucks out of their mom’s coinpurse for one reason or another when Mom wasn’t looking. Just food for thought.

Last, but certainly not least, I have yet to find a concealed carry purse that wasn’t butt-ugly.

The Fanny Pack: There’s a saying among gun nuts. Any guy carrying a fanny pack is either gay or carrying a gun. Nothing wrong with either in my opinion, but it’s not a good idea to wave that flag if it’s the latter. Now, for women, we might be able to get away with a fanny pack, as long as we remember that if we say “fanny pack” among our British friends, we should expect gales of hysterical laughter. I’ll let you figure it out.

Fanny packs are a great option for women while running, hiking or doing that ridiculous speed-walking thing. (Wogging?). There are great packs out there that incorporate an interior holster to secure your firearm while leaving room for other essentials, such as a basic survival kit (necessary on any off-road jaunt) or a light jacket. Make sure you get a pack that has smooth, ergonomic access, and practice drawing your firearm. Don’t forget to take your CHL and another photo ID with you on your wogs!

Belt Holsters: Holsters come in all shapes and sizes, in leather, Kydex or nylon, to be worn inside or outside the waistband, with or without a belt, with or without pouches for magazines or moon clips. When I was a noob, my friend told me that it wouldn’t be long before I’d accumulated a huge box of tried-and-discarded holsters, but with a bit of research and trying-on, I found options that worked for me. You’ll have to do the same. But to be quick, I really like the Blade-Tech Ultimate Concealment Holster for my Kahr P9, and I’ll likely get one for my S&W 642 as well. For now, I’m carrying my S&W in a simple, cheap Uncle Mike’s IWB holster, and for this little pistol, it works great for pocket carry as well.

Shoulder Holsters: Ladies, you’re on your own here. I have no experience with shoulder holsters, as they require a jacket to keep concealment. A bit too “Barney Miller” for me. But they might work great for you, so suss it out and please comment on your findings!

Ankle/thigh holsters: Sexy, sure! But come on. No respectable or effective firearm can be worn on the feminine ankle, though it might be considered as a place for your “back up gun” (aka “bug gun”, “mouse gun”). My thinking is that if you’re planning on daily carry of more than one firearm, you need to move, change jobs, stop hooking, or do whatever you need to do to get yourself out of that necessity. Carry one firearm plus additional clips/mags, and learn to shoot well. Ankle/thigh holsters can, however, make good options for accessorizing formal gowns. For example, on your wedding day, you might want to wear a custom garter holster. Track down Lou Alessi and see if he’ll do something up for you in blue!

Belly Bands: I have one of these, and I’ll probably hold onto it. There are a few brands out there, and they have their place, but not for general everyday carry. Why? Well, some are itchy and can make you sweat; the more comfortable belts don’t accomodate larger handguns. You have to pull your shirt up or aside to reach or reholster your gun. Great if you’re good at those Girls Gone Wild moves; bad if you’re wearing lots of layers.

Some of these bands require “cross-draw” action, which–unless practiced diligently–increases your chances of self-injury or snagging of your firearm mid-draw.

None of these reasons should keep you from doing a bit of research. I’ve heard really good things about Smartcarry, and think they’d be a good fit for the compact 9mm or S&W Airweights with which I am most familiar in carry situations. Another one to look at is Thunderware, and you’ll find tons of forum threads comparing the two brands. (Note: Check out the hilarious pics on the Thunderware site. It looks like the wearer is about to whip something out of his pants, and “hard steel” isn’t what comes to mind)

The most important thing is to find something that works with your familiar style, without you having to go out and revamp your wardrobe to accomodate reinforced leather belts, suit jackets, fugly vests and nasty handbags. There is a balance between safety and fashion, and I’m not afraid to admit that if our gun rig makes us look like we’re hiding junk in the trunk, we won’t wear it.


The Perfect Lady’s Gun…

November 3, 2008
*As if* it were this easy to find the right gun. (sigh).

*As if* it were this easy to find the right gun. (sigh).

…is the gun you shoot well, and that you’ll actually carry.

There IS no end-all, be-all perfect woman’s gun, in spite of all the kvetching on our favorite gun forums and oodles of articles in convenience-store gun mags.

Women use different criteria when selecting their personal carry firearm. Most of us have a few more curves than our gentleman counterparts, and some of us have fashion standards that preclude us from wearing baggy clothing or those gawdawful concealment vests that look like they were dreamed up by somebody’s gramma suffering from fruitcake overload. (It’s easy to say, “What do you value, fashion or your life?” For some women, fashion IS life.)

This post isn’t going to go into the finer points of caliber selection, though I will caution anyone from selecting a caliber less powerful than .38+P for personal carry. Nor will I tell you what holsters you MUST get. What I will subject you to is a little story of how I came to carry the gun I do, and the path that got me here.

When I first decided to get my concealed handgun license, I set out to kick a lot of tires in the search for my personal firearm. I got a lot of stupid advice from well-meaning but less-than-brilliant men, such as “get a revolver! They’re not intimidating to the ladies, and don’t need much knowledge of firearms”. How insulting!

This advice propelled me toward autoloading pistols, and ultimately the Kahr P9. I know the 9mm round is a good, inexpensive and common round to shoot with. I knew that I’d find anything in .45acp to big and bulky for my own carry needs, in spite of the fact that I shoot far more accurately with the larger, more powerful caliber. (My next handgun will be a .45acp for non-carry use, i.e. fun and general non-carry protection).

I got a custom Kydex holster–which I loved–for my Kahr and began to carry it, but in truth, I never really shot well with this little pistol, no matter how much I practiced. Plus, I found that the stock protruded a bit in all but the loosest garments. (I shot far worse with the smaller PM9, in case you’re wondering). So, to make a long story short, I stopped carrying altogether.

And guess what? About a year ago, I sold the Kahr and purchased an S&W Airweight 642 revolver. And I love it.

I know that the six pre-loaded magazines for my Kahr were much easier to reload than the three full-moon revolver autoloading devices, but I’ve learned to use the latter quickly. I know that the .38+P round of my new S&W is less powerful than the 9mm+P+ that I used to didn’t carry, but the point is, a gun that’s left at home isn’t very powerful at all, is it?

I also love how easy my little revolver is to carry. It honestly fits in a pocket, and the name Airweight says it all. And while it has a heavy trigger pull, there’s a technique I use that allows me to draw the trigger back nearly all the way, check my target, then give one final squeeze, therefore using the firearm almost like a single action.

Even better, my little pistol has Crimson Trace sights. Useless during the day unless at very close range, but very handy for low-light situations, and a TON of fun during dry-firing practice.

Maintenance? A snap. To be fair, cleaning autoloading firearms isn’t rocket science, but nothing beats the simplicity of a revolver. And the same principle of simplicity makes a revolver a more reliable machine.

My old Kahr has found a happy home with a friend of mine who loves it, and shoots it well. It IS a good gun, just wasn’t my type. (“Honey, it’s not you, it’s me”). Fit and function will vary from person to person, which is why I recommend trying out as many guns as possible before making that important purchase. Many ranges will allow you to rent, and others may have members around who are more than willing to let you try out their handguns for a chance to show off their own skills. Work it, girl; don’t settle down until you’ve played the field. In my case, the “good guy” revolver came in last, but better late than never.

My baby.

My baby.