The more I’m involved with the firearms training community, I’m learning a lot of things about society and people in general that I never expected to learn. One of those is an interesting phenomenon that people end up owning a gun that someone else wanted them to own. Here’s part 1 of this same question.
One thing I enjoy doing in class is asking people why they decided to buy their handgun. It helps me understand where everyone is coming from, as well as some very basic things about what kind of a person they are. I’ve heard some great answers to that question, some of which are truly inspiring and thought-provoking. But one that seems to come up in nearly every class is “my husband bought me this” (or father or neighbor or son who is in the Air Force).
And just to be clear, this happens with guys, too – we’re highly influenced by other guys’ gun choices, just as much as women are. Case-in-point: I have a friend who owns a classic Walther PPK, made in Germany before Smith & Wesson started screwing them up. Good little guns – not too small, not too huge; solid grips, decent trigger. Overall, there isn’t much to dislike. But does he own it because he did his research and bought the perfect gun? HECK NO!!! He owns it because if he ever has to wear a tux or get stuck on a life raft with two beautiful women, he has the perfect accessory!!
And is it strange that the world’s most famous fictional spy famously carried a German handgun? And how many of you just learned that there is an entire website dedicated to the lifestyle of James Bond?
That’s such an amazing study on human behavior all by itself… but it starts out with such great intentions from everyone involved. There’s a woman who wants to start protecting herself (clearly a good thing), a guy who wants to help her do that (also a good thing), it’s always nice to bring a friend along when you venture into uncharted territory, yada yada yada. All good things. But there’s a hidden undercurrent at play: one person is pretending to know what’s best for the other person… and the “victim” is very willing to let that happen.
Stereo-typically speaking, it’s been the man’s responsibility to be the gun expert. So many of us guys do a half-ass job of learning about something, then we do what we do best: we cover our tracks by selling our 5 minutes of internet research as the “absolute truth.”
Here’s how this usually plays out: we know that woman in our life, usually a relative or spouse, who we think may be open to owning a gun. We hear a marketing tag-line like “softest shooting .40 S&W on the market,” and that’s all it takes. We drag our special someone to the gun store and the whole car ride there is spent with stories like “I’ve done a ton of research. The 40-caliber is the best self-defense caliber there is and this new fancy Beretta is exactly what you need. It’s lightweight, easy to shoot, and it’ll kill anyone who comes in your door.”
Guys: how many of you have NOT had this exact conversation about 412,000 times in your life? How in heaven’s name do you think I got a new lawn mower a couple years ago? Was it because I happen to know a lot about lawn mowers and I could speak intelligently about the differences in the 145 different mowers in Home Depot? Please. It’s what we do, and we’re “professionals” at it.
But here’s the difference: now we’re convincing someone ELSE that we know what’s best for THEM. So guys, we shoulder 51% of the blame in this phenomenon. Be a man enough to know what you DON’T KNOW. Even if you do know guns inside-and-out, here’s a news flash: she may not like the same exact thing that we like. Give her the information, or refer her to someone who actually knows this stuff, then support her decision. That’s it. (well, then take her shooting later)
Ladies: you’re not off the hook either. I know that research is hard. And I know that you don’t trust many people, so when someone you DO trust starts giving you advice, it’s easy to take it and then move on with your life. But come on now!! Seriously, if your guy came home with these and said “I did a ton of research and I found you the perfect pair of shoes,” how long would it take you to slap him?
So there it is: you don’t take a guy’s advice on nearly anything… yet when it comes to guns, why do so many women get home with a pink revolver that they can’t even pull the trigger on or a semi-auto that has grips WAAYY to wide to hold well?
And yes, this happened at a range class over the weekend: an intelligent, distinguished woman ended up with a Beretta PX4 Compact, in .40 S&W, a gun that I personally love and want to own, but it was clearly not the gun for her. The gun is very wide and it took a lot of work changing her shooting grip to get her to the point where she could even shoot the thing without her left hand flying off of it after every shot… like she was some kind of Annie Oakley bull rider or something. Awesome little gun, but she had allowed someone to talk her into it recently. Shame on her for allowing that to happen (she knew it didn’t fit her even before she had fired the first shot) and shame on whoever that person was who talked her into it in the first place.
Far too many gun stores and “gun guys” talk women into buying something that clearly is not in their best interest. Stop telling women that they won’t ever be able to rack the slide on a semi-auto. Stop telling women that revolvers are more reliable. Stop telling women that you did a ton of research and that you know what’s best for them. Stop telling them that something is perfect for them. And please, don’t ever give them advice on buying shoes.