As I sit to write this entry, I am looking at a red cylinder with a hose coming out, an activation handle and a pressure gauge. It doesn’t take a great deal of writing skill on my part for you to get the word picture in your head that what I’m referring to is a fire extinguisher.
I think that when I describe the mindset of self-defense with a firearm the best metaphor I have is a fire extinguisher. No one would object if your house or business or car were on fire and you simply picked up that fire extinguisher and tended to your business. However, when those men in the leather jackets, big hats and the red truck show up we would all expect that you would step back and let the professionals do their job.
In the same manner, if we were in a school and the building was on fire, we would say (at the very least) that the teacher was negligent if he/she didn’t attempt to use the fire extinguisher to put the fire out. Just as we would also say it would be crazy when the firemen showed up for her/him to lock them outside and say, "I’ve got this. After all, I have a fire extinguisher."
Using a firearm for self-defense is no more paranoid than owning a fire extinguisher.
I remember as a youth being trained in the Boy Scouts to use the fire extinguisher for various types of fires. This simple training didn’t turn me into a pyromaniac. Nor did it make me want to insert myself into every call the fire department made. Firearms training and use for self-defense should fit much the same model; invite the professionals to the emergency as early as possible. And on those occasions when we don’t have the gift of time to allow for the professionals to arrive we should be well versed in judiciously deploying our firearm.
The training I received on extinguishing fires helped me to understand that different types of fire extinguishers worked on different types of fires. It also taught me that one size does not fit all. As you begin to look for your emergency equipment, remember that whether you select a full-sized pistol such as the Walther Arms P99 or perhaps the P99C, choose the right tool to match your ability, training and needs. Only you can weigh the trade-offs (like size vs. capacity) and determine what is right for you.
Jon Hodoway is owner/instructor at Nighthawk Custom Training Academy. Hodoway actively competes in IDPA, USPSA and other shooting sports.