Why She Bought a Gun

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About Mark Ellis

Portland journalist and writer Mark Ellis is the author of  Ladder Memory: Stories from the Painting Trade


  1. I think you mean a Glock 26 small frame 9mm. A 269mm would be the equivalent of a 11 inch naval cannon; kind of hard to conceal, permit or no.

  2. So… woman buys gun… gets into a rage (toilet seat is up!) shoots and kills husband/boyfriend… claims abuse and/or self defense. White knight judge/jury lets her go.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • John Anderson says:

      A woman I had known for years found out that I knew martial arts and exclaimed, but you’re such a nice guy. A 6’ 5” 300 lb. man is no more likely to commit violence than a 5’ 6” 150lb. man. Just because a person has the capability to defend themselves doesn’t mean that they’re going to utilize that same capability to mess with someone else.

  3. Thanks, Texpat. Though I enjoyed this assignment, and actually took the beginner’s class so as not to seem like a writerly dweeb, and though I fully support the Second Amendment, I don’t own a gun, and have never really been a firearms kind of guy.

    Private man, I know this does happen. I think women who’ve been forced to use a firearm have most often done so in legitimate self defense.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    For best results, a handgun should be just one part of a larger self-defense approach. It is no substitute for learning how to fight without a gun. It should be in addition to other training in self-defense, how to defuse a situation, verbal and physical self-defense, safety awareness, etc. It would also be crucial for anyone carrying a gun to know how to stop someone from taking your gun and using it against you. Learn how to defend yourself against your own gun pointed at you.

    I wonder how many guns used in crime are guns stolen from other people’s homes, guns originally intended for self-defense. I also wonder how many times a homeowner’s gun was turned on the homeowner. Any numbers out there? Once you buy one, don’t let other people take it from you….

    One woman in the article mentioned a very crucial point – it’s only effective if you can get it in your hands.

  5. John Anderson says:

    I’ve always advocated systems of self defense. That’s why I never liked the seminar approach and would advocate a martial art. Most martial arts are already a system of self defense. I won’t advocate for one art over another. Each has its own little quirks and many teach weapons use. Even in taekwondo, which is a sport in Korea, we learned the use of a sword. It was taught to the higher belts although I’ve heard that some arts stress weapons use earlier, like the Philippine arnis.

    Responsible gun ownership is just another aspect of a good self defense system. When I was younger, I remember some guys would find out I knew martial arts and would immediately remark I own a gun. I’d smile and ask do you have it with you. I wasn’t the fastest guy in the dojang, but I could register a kick in 7 tenth of a second and a punch in half that. A guy I knew related a story about his dad, who was well over 6’ tall and a monster of a man. He decided to pick a fight with a small Asian man in the 1960s. He pulled his arm back and felt himself get hit 4 times. He didn’t see the strikes coming, but got a nice view of the sky. After that, the first aspect of his dad’s self defense system was don’t start a fight.

    It’s nice that women can feel safe. I had a gun myself once. At one point there were as many as three firearms in our house. It came in handy when the local street gang tried to recruit me. They sent female gang members to do it, which was the carrot. When that wasn’t working, one of them mentioned that a member of the gang, I had had words with, could come back with a gun. That was the stick. I remember flashing the 9mm Smith and Wesson and asking if it was like this one. She was surprised that about half the guys my age in the Asian community in the neighborhood had at least one gun. Even martial artists don’t take a knife to a gun fight.

    It comes in handy, but there are limitations. You have to be able to get to it and you have to be willing and capable to effectively use it. It should only be an aspect of your self defense strategy.

  6. I travel in hotels a great deal for business , and my husband bought me a Ruger 380. Small and easy to conceal under a suit. I took lessons and it does make me feel much safer. I also realize 2 things. One is to carry it ,you have to be willing to shoot someone and understand the reality of that, and two if you pull it out it is not to threaten someone but to take them down. If you do not have a comfort level with your judgement of when and where to use it, then do not carry one. They are not for a feeling of macho empowerment but for a feeling of safety .

  7. Getting a gun to survive a domestic violence situation is not a good reason to get a gun.

    Perfect partners do not suddenly turn abusive. Abuse ratchets up slowly, and the victim normalises it at every step, until suddenly extreme violence is normal. Having a gun just increases the chance that someone will die.

    The other reasons, feeling safe with strangers, extra confidence, etcetera are totally different and good reasons to get a gun.

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