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Gun Ownership and The Southern Gentleman


I received the following email, and realized that it may be of interest to others:

I am a recent arrival to Virginia and I am much taken with the state. However I do not carry or own a firearm. Is it a must for a Southern Gentleman to possess a gun?


The answer is an emphatic “No – absolutely not.” Gun ownership is a very personal decision, and one that should not be dictated or even influenced by cultural or social factors. You are to be congratulated for having the wisdom to know yourself well enough to make the right decision.

Let me also point out here that deciding that gun ownership is not for you does not relieve you of the obligation to defend yourself and your family and those you love and care for. That is a personal responsibility that cannot be delegated to others. Make no mistake – defending yourself and your family and those you love and care for is a non-negotiable obligation of any gentleman – especially a Southern gentleman.

Just a quick read of the news will demonstrate the need for an effective means of self-defense. Saying that “The meek shall inherit the earth” doesn’t work. When Jesus told His disciples to sell their garment and buy a sword if they didn’t already have one, He wasn’t telling them to use the sword for cutting firewood.

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Luke 22:36

At this point in history, a gun is the best tool available for the job, but there are alternative tools available to you. I like the way another writer put it: “I am not usually armed. I am always armed.”

Shown in the photo on the header of this site is a Colt Mustang with custom rosewood grips and an upgraded guide rod. It has been quite a while since I have carried this one. It is a beautifully made sidearm, but not my best choice at this time. The .380 round is often considered the absolute minimum acceptable power for personal defense, and the smaller magazine capacity doesn’t help things. It is a beautiful gun though. I now carry something with more power and greater capacity

Now let’s look at some alternatives.

The tactical pen can be carried anywhere, and it can be a formidable weapon. In fact, any rugged metal pen can be used, but a purpose-designed tactical pen is going to be much easier to get a solid grip on, and will definitely be the better choice. I found mine on Amazon for just a bit over $5, although I see the current price is about $13 – still a bargain.

An umbrella that is designed for self defense serves two purposes. First, a good quality umbrella is something that every gentleman should own. Second, a strong umbrella can be a very effective weapon. I looked around at what was available and chose The Unbreakable Umbrella. It stays in the car and goes with me any time that the sidearm can’t. It is perfectly OK to carry it on an airliner, in a courthouse, or anywhere else. Be careful in choosing a brand. Like just about everything else, there are cheap imitations that should be avoided. The Unbreakable Umbrella is, for all practical purposes, just that – unbreakable. Take a look at some of their videos to see what “unbreakable” really means.

A collapsable baton is in a somewhat different category from the tactical pen and the umbrella. In many, if not most, places, it is considered a weapon and carrying it is regulated just as a firearm would be.

Pepper Spray and a Taser are two popular options; however, I have only limited experience with pepper spray and none with the Taser. My experience with pepper spray was not encouraging. It was an old can with an expired date on it. Before replacing it, I tried to spray it and all that came out was a little squirt about a foot away from the can. Absolutely useless and quite dangerous if I really needed to use it. The lesson learned is to make certain that it is always replaced before the expire date.





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  1. Sig Sawyer's Gravatar Sig Sawyer
    September 4, 2016    

    I recently read a study of successful self-defense cases, and by far the most successful caliber of gun for self-defense was .22- both because most people practice with a .22 and find it familiar, and because at the close ranges that self-defense usually occurs at, a .22 will bounce around the skull or chest cavity, doing a lot of damage.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee's Gravatar Stephen Clay McGehee
      September 5, 2016    

      Thanks for commenting, sir. I’ve read similar articles, but I cannot agree with the conclusion. One reason that the .22 is so often used is that it is so common and available, thus increasing the number of self-defense uses.

      Using the “bounce around the skull” story (one that I have heard several times), I witnessed the results of an attempted suicide many years ago when I managed a private ambulance service in a small rural county. The shot to the head ended up skimming around the inside of the skull leaving the person very much alive, but blind and probably a host of other problems. Yes, the .22 can do some very weird things, but none of those actions are dependable or consistent, nor are they generally fast acting. The objective of self defense is to immediately stop the aggression – not to kill the person. Stopping an attacker will, however, likely result in killing that attacker. Yes, the .22 may well end up with the same results, but the bad guy can still do a lot of damage before the wound(s) finally stop him.

      A more powerful cartridge will do more damage and thus stop the aggression faster, and that is the objective. Given the choice, one should generally go with the most powerful cartridge that can be effectively used – routinely carried, accurately fired, and absolutely reliable. With all that said, when asked for my opinion, I always tell folks to find what they are comfortable with and confident in. Of equal importance with physics and physiology, is the mental aspects of being comfortable with your sidearm and confident in your abilities and confident in the absolute reliability of that sidearm.

      This is an area that is almost guaranteed to generate vigorous discussion. This is just my own opinion and I wouldn’t want to try talking anyone out of their own preferences as long as they have considered all the aspects of it. For the record, my current personal sidearm is a S&W Shield in 9mm; prior to that it was a S&W Model 640 in .357 mag, and at various times I have carried a 1911 in .45 ACP. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages – there is no perfect choice.

      Again, thanks for writing.

  2. John's Gravatar John
    April 28, 2017    

    I’ve often heard that the perfect defense gun is the one you can comfortably and effectively shoot. I agree with this %100. The problem with calibers tend to be an ego thing amongst men. Some think nothing short of a .45 ACP will do. Some try to max the minimum with 9mm… truth is, anything from .38 Special up can kill. Anything from there that you can shoot in the tightest pattern possible and feel good about is your best weapon.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee's Gravatar Stephen Clay McGehee
      April 28, 2017    

      Bullseye on that one, John. Carrying a personal defense weapon is a very personal decision. It is one in which confidence and comfort play a very large part. There are three different sidearms that I have carried at various times – a .357 magnum 5-shot revolver (S&W 640), a 1911 in .45, and my current sidearm (which I have on as I write this), a S&W Shield in 9mm. I have full confidence in each of them, yet each has its own special niche to fill. The revolver was perfect for many years, and it’s still a favorite. What changed is the “social situation”. When thugs made gang attacks the norm, those 5 shots just didn’t seem like enough, so I went with the higher capacity of the Shield, along with two spare magazines that I carry. The 1911 just isn’t carried much simply because of the size and weight of it. There have been a very few high threat situations (only one that I specifically recall now) in which I felt the higher fire power of the 1911 justified the more difficulty in carrying it, but I don’t anticipate carrying it as a routine.

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The Civil Right – Traditional Southern culture and civility, and the social/political system that results from it.