First, I must admit that I’m relatively new to the world of guns. But I am an expert on disabilities, and the convergence of gun ownership and being handicapped is the focus of this article.
For 46 out of my 57 years, I have learned to cope with the devastating effects of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Four total hip replacements, two knee replacements and reconstructive hand surgeries have awarded me an advanced degree in dealing with a major disability.
Nearly four years ago, I set out to find a pistol that would be an appropriate home defense weapon when my condition worsened and forced me to retire on permanent disability.
Feeling more vulnerable than ever before in my life, I thought a gun purchase would not only alleviate my fears but also allow me to take up target shooting as a new hobby to enjoy now that I had time on my hands. My journey introduced me to all the major gun manufacturers and calibers.
Whether disabled or able-bodied, I quickly realized that it would be a good idea for a first-time gun owner, such as myself, to invest in a handgun safety course. There are many such courses across the country — conducted by NRA-certified instructors or local/state police officers who often partner with local gun shops.
In my investigations, I found a variety of one-day courses or ones spread out over three to four sessions. Because an eight-hour course would be difficult for me to sit through due to my disability, I signed up for four sessions that met once a week for one month. This also allowed me to try out different handguns for free since the rental of the guns was covered by the cost of the course.
The first class might have been my last if not for the intervention of my understanding instructor. A straight-laced former SWAT commander, Andy, saw I was having trouble bringing the gun up to eye level to sight in the pistol due to a bad shoulder.
Sensing my frustration, Andy worked with me on my form to get me to where I felt most comfortable.