Nice article in my local paper...


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Finch
March 4, 2007, 06:08 AM
It rare to see a gun friendly article in a newspaper, and even more rare in a city who's population exceeds a million. So I was plesently suprised to see this on the front page of the "Nevada" section of our paper.

JANE ANN MORRISON: With a little knowledge of guns come less fear, more respect

Lloyd Phillips is a brave man. When warned I was having some double vision problems, he didn't flinch, even though a few hours later I would be firing guns by his side in my first handgun class.

However, I would be the one flinching, along with my new shooting buddy, Shanna Fletcher, 64, who wants a gun for protection.

"The times are scary," she said. "It's not safe in your own home now."

Phillips and I became acquainted via e-mail after I wrote a column last summer about what I thought might be a carjacking. Politely, but forcefully, he took issue with my last sentence: "But fear is a powerful emotion that can affect your judgment. Some would argue, if I'd been armed, I could have protected myself if it had been a carjacking. But I might have shot some men who were only trying to switch off driving."

Phillips offered to teach me a basic handgun class to correct my misconceptions. Ever game, I agreed. So Shanna and I spent last Saturday learning the basics and, most important, the safety aspects of shooting. Then we did the deed.

When we arrived to start the class at Phillips' home, two blue plastic Beretta semi-automatic pistols and a Roy Rogers pistol (not the technical term) were among the materials laid out on his dining room table.

Shanna couldn't wait to touch her Beretta, and her finger went straight to the trigger. I avoided touching even a plastic handgun.

Phillips, who is a supervisor in the city's Neighborhood Services Department, has privately taught gun classes for about 10 years. First, he taught us theory, history and safety, all with a high level of competence and a sense of humor.

"In the military, you use a handgun to fight your way to a real gun," said the former Marine.

The National Rifle Association mantra was drilled into us: Treat all guns as if they are always loaded, keep your hands off the dang trigger because an instinctive startle reflex could cause you to shoot someone accidentally.

The one NRA rule he doesn't follow: His weapons are always loaded. (The NRA says keep them unloaded until you're ready to use them.)

Advancing to his garage, still with our plastic guns, we learned the Weaver stance, then learned to use the sight by pointing our plastic Berettas at his eye, so that he could see how good our sighting was.

In the afternoon, we hit the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club, where I aimed at a picture of a woman shooting directly at me.

Eventually, Shanna and I both managed, with some consistency, to put two in the chest and one between the eyes from a distance of 9 feet.

Phillips said he relishes that moment when his students' eyes widen, and they make the transition from fear and apprehension to "Hey, I can control it, it does what I want it to do."

With me, he said, he saw that moment "the second time you hit the bull's-eye. The first time you thought it was a fluke." (He read that right.)

He started us with a Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver, a .38 Special. Then we went to a Czech CZ-52, a semi-automatic pistol. Finally we shot with his .45 Colt Model 1911.

People keep asking me if I'm going to get a weapon now. Honestly, I don't know. But I have less fear of the weapon itself, which is Step 1, and more respect for those like Phillips who know how to defend themselves and their families.

Now there's a tiny bit more self-confidence in my abilities. When I asked Phillips to judge how I did, he gave a much better rating than I expected with this verdict: "You're a little bit better than average."

I might have written this all off as column fodder, except that the night before the class, someone kicked in the door of the Summerlin home where Phillips' son and his family live.

They think the baby's cries let the bad guys know someone was in the house, so they fled.

That reminded me that there are plenty of people willing to break into my home. What would I do? Throw the cat at them?

Jane Ann Morrison's column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call 383-0275.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2007/Mar-03-Sat-2007/news/12932625.html

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