Ready or Not

By Kellene Bishop

When I was still learning of the importance of the use of a firearm for self-defense, I attempted to take my proactive self-defense steps in teeny-tiny degrees—much like trying to ease myself into an ice cold lake on a hot summer’s day.  I’m sure that many women can relate to these steps.  You know:

  • ammunition-firearmFirst shoot a firearm a couple times, only to immediately relinquish the scary thing back into the hands of someone else when you’re finished. 
  • Then get your concealed carry permit, but that’s it. 
  • Next, perhaps owning a firearm, but store it away, unloaded.  Then actually owning bullets.  (Yup—as crazy as it sounds, for some that’s actually a completely separate step.)  
  • Then practicing with your firearm a couple of times.  And then, maybe, keeping it LOADED in a safe, with a trigger lock. 
  • Then, getting comfortable enough to carry it in the car, unloaded, with the rounds close by.  
  • And then perhaps the gun migrates to your purse, still unloaded. 
  • Then, the next step (and final for some) in self-defense is to actually carry the gun, loaded, in your purse.  
  • And then there’s the ultimate step typically thought to be taken only by zealots—actually carrying the loaded firearm on your person.  (I hear some folks waffle about whether or not they carry with bullet in the chamber.) 

Ultimately, these steps are necessary for many people—male and female—in order for them to gradually become mentally comfortable with the possession of a loaded firearm on them in such a way that it would be most effective for self-defense.  And I would never discount the merits of such steps for the mental strength of a gun owner. However, in an effort to get you to your ideal state of self-defense preparedness, I’d like to point out a couple of critical considerations.

movie-gunsContrary to what you may see in the movies, it’s not likely that you will have a lot of time in a confrontation with an aggressor to stall, get your gun, load it, and then use it for self-defense.  (Even less likely is for you to be able to convince the aggressor to “get in your sites, pretty please.”)  As I’m sure the rational part of your mind will tell you, criminals use the element of surprise, combined with their disregard for human life and safety, to their benefit.  Criminals don’t intend to give you warning.  They don’t intend to allow you to defend yourself.  With that in mind, expecting that you’ll be able to even load a magazine in your firearm fast enough to use it defensively is wishful thinking.

If you believe that you need a firearm for self-defense (and I pray to God that you do realize this at some level) then you need to be sure that your actions do not disable this valuable tool with faulty logic or rationale watered down by emotion.

Perhaps some of you remember the horrific multiple victim shooting which took place in Killeen, Texas at a Luby’s restaurant.  One of the women in that shooting reports losing her parents in the shooting because she had failed to have her firearm on her person that day.  Instead, it was sitting out inefficiently in her car (due to state laws at that time).  She was helpless to fight back, even though she was in a perfect strategic position to do so otherwise.  

The key aspect in this account is that the woman wasn’t in a dark alley, or alone on the streets late at night.  She was in a public, family restaurant enjoying a meal with her family.  But the accessibility of her means of self-defense was out of reach. 

The police did not arrive until long after 23 individuals were killed and several more wounded.  The police didn’t stop the gunman, rather he committed suicide.  Out of a jam-packed restaurant, no one was prepared to stop this madman. 

When my husband was teaching me the need to be ready with a firearm in the event that I needed to use it for self-defense, he orchestrated an example.  He provided me with a practice gun and a magazine clip to go with it.  He then walked to the other side of the room, and told me that he was going to pull his practice gun on me at the count of “three.”  Even though I was proficient with the practice gun and how to load it, AND I had the practice gun in one hand with the clip in the other (where it most certainly would NOT be if I was surprised by an attacker) and KNOWING what was going to happen didn’t make a difference.  I couldn’t load that firearm, cock it, and prepare to shoot prior to my husband lifting his shirt, pulling his gun and pulling the trigger.  Repeatedly we did this exercise, and no matter how “ready” I was, I couldn’t load the firearm fast enough.  After that exercise I realized the need to be prepared at all times to use my firearm immediately if my life, or someone else’s, was threatened.  (Warning: Please don’t try this exercise with real firearms.)  

Photo c/o

Photo c/o

This moment was a huge shift in my feelings about being ready with a loaded firearm on my person at all times.  I also realized that a firearm on my person was a lot safer than leaving it in my purse, where I didn’t always have access to it while visiting a friend or at a family gathering, where prying little hands might get ahold of it.  I also realized that if I was going to take the responsibility to use a firearm, I needed to also take the responsibility of being proficient and skillful with that firearm as well.  Consequently, my practice time increased dramatically, and as a result, my concerns of having a loaded firearm subsided with the newly acquired skills.  I also had peace of mind knowing that I would never wonder “what if” in the event my life did encounter a moment in which I could have acted to save someone else or my own life “if only I had been ready, truly ready, to fire.”

As such, I not only practice shooting the firearm, but I also practice lifting up my clothing expeditiously so that I can get to my firearm.  I practice rotating the firearm from the holster towards my target.  I practice exactly when my finger goes on the trigger.  I even practice shooting from my hip as opposed to extended in front of me.  I practice shooting one handed.  I practice shooting with my weak hand, in the event that’s the only angle I have available to me while maintaining appropriate cover.  And lastly, I even practice a quick magazine change as well.  I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to let what’s portrayed in movies, on television, or the evil that lurks in men’s hearts frighten me from being truly prepared to defend myself, my loved ones, my nation–because then the “bad guys” have already won.   

So, for the record, yes, I carry my firearm on my person anywhere it is legal to do so.  Yes, I carry it fully loaded WITH one in the chamber.  I don’t indulge in a mechanical safety to disengage (as I carry a Glock).  I have made all of these personal decisions so that if an occasion arises in which I need to pull out the firearm, I can use it precisely for what it was intended—to save a life—and never have to live with the regret that I could have done better. 

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.
You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.  

2 Responses

  1. I actually carry 2 on my person. Ready to go. This weekend, I will assist in a womens only class on firearms. My job, to show that you can dress like girl and carry. I will be wearing at least 3, possibly 4 firearms on my 130lb 5’4″ frame that will be undetectable to the regular observer. Yeah, I’ll have pictures.

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