A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE
The post last week about women and guns has gotten me to thinkin' about the first time I taught a woman how to shoot. (This will take a while, so if you're bored just scroll on past. Plenty of other stuff below.)
It was nine years ago. She introduced herself as "Elizabeth call me Liza". She was around 65 years old, and two months after her husband died someone kicked in her front door. In broad daylight.
She grabbed a cordless phone and hid in her bedroom closet while dialing 911. When she heard the guy walk in to the bedroom she covered the earpiece with her hand and tried hard not to breath. Before he got around to opening the closet, sirens could be heard a few blocks away. So he cut and ran. They never found the guy.
Liza wanted to learn how to shoot. Good idea! But problems became apparent during the course. She had arthritis pretty bad, so much so that she had trouble closing her fingers around something as small as a single round. It took her forever to load a revolver
, but she had (barely) enough strength left to work the slide of a autoloader
. But the real problem was one of recoil, since she said that it hurt her hands. And it had to be a handgun since she was too intimidated by long guns to even pick one up.
So I needed to find a gun that was powerful enough to to be used for serious defensive work, but still fired a low recoil round. And the gun itself had to be large to damp muzzle flip. It took some doing, but I managed to find one of these
. It fires a .380 ACP cartridge, which is about half the power of a full sized 9mm. And the gun was large enough so Liza's hands wouldn't be beaten to death. But the best feature was a tip up barrel
. Liza could tip the barrel up and load a single round, so she wouldn't even have to work the slide. Pretty neat, huh?
Well, that was that. Except eight years later (a bit more than a year ago) I got a call from Liza. She wanted me to come over to her house and say howdy do. I found that the years had not been kind. Her arthritis had gotten worse, and her hands looked like bundles of walnuts held together with fishing line and parchment. She was confined to a wheelchair. But she had some saddlebags attached to the arms of the chair
. In one she had her TV Guide, cough drops, stuff like that. The other one had her gun and ten extra magazines ("So I won't ever run dry.").
We did a few dry fire excercises. If anyone tries to get through her door I'm sure she can shoot at least three of them before they get to her. That's good enough for me.
I found out why she asked me over when her daughter and son-in-law showed up. They started to browbeat me while Liza huddled in her chair and didn't say anything. The kids wanted Liza to sign the house over to them while they stuck her in a nursing home. To try and convince me to help them they kept talking about what would happen if someone tried to break in. I had to say that anyone who broke in probably wouldn't live to regret it. After that Liza perked up and the kids shut up.
It's said that the teacher bears some responsibility for his students. I've been thinking about Liza lately, sitting so small and frail in her chair. I've been thinking about what would happen if someone did break in, and what my responsibility might be. So I went to an antique coin dealer and bought ten silver dimes. That way, should anyone be stupid enough to try and give her some trouble, I'd have something to put on their eyes just before the coffin lid comes down for the last time.
But don't tell Liza. She'd say that it would be a bad waste for good silver.