No, they’re not ideal, but…
There’s a joke floating about the self-defense community that goes something like this: “If anyone ever shoots me with a .25–and I find out about it—I’m going to be pissed.” That’s because the conventional wisdom is that any handgun chambered in a caliber smaller than .380 doesn’t have the stopping power necessary to halt an attack, and such pistols have been rather dismissively dubbed “mouse guns.” I’m going to start by acknowledging that the science behind that aphorism is solid, and that small-caliber handguns are not ideal for self-defense purposes. My argument here is that we should remember not to make the perfect the enemy of the good, and here’s why.
The .22 You Have is Better Than the .45 You Don’t
Despite the stunning innovations the firearms industry has introduced in ever-smaller guns chambered in beefier calibers like the .380 ACP and 9mm, not everyone can afford the latest and greatest. It wasn’t too long ago that if you needed a handgun that you could slip into a pocket or a small handbag, you were looking at something in a .32, .25, or even .22. So if that’s the gun you have, then by golly, that’s the gun you should carry. It’s better than a hatpin, or, God help us all, some of the other suggestions we’ve heard from anti-gunners.
All Guns Look Huge From the Wrong End
There’s a passage in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that goes like this: “The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. ‘Make it evil,’ he’d been told. ‘Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them.”
Although Douglas Adams’ Kill-o-Zap gun is a creative wonder, the truth is that all guns look like Kill-o-Zaps when you’re on the wrong end. Have you ever had some careless idiot muzzle you (e.g., swing the muzzle of their gun in your direction)? If the answer is “no,” then consider yourself lucky. I have, and I am here to tell you that I could hear the damn ocean in that thing. It looked like the Lincoln Tunnel. I, personally, don’t want to get shot with a .32, or a .25, or even a BB gun. Had I been a miscreant bent on mayhem, I would have seen that absolute cannon of a .22 and remembered urgent business elsewhere.
Mice Can Roar
One of the most instructive things you can do as a person interested in self-defense is to keep an eye on NRA’s “Armed Citizen” column. Although these are anecdotes, not statistics, you will note something: When the news articles do mention a caliber (they don’t always), that caliber is frequently on the small side. That’s because senior citizens and the disabled are common targets for criminal attack, and many seniors and other folks who are dealing with physical pain,reduced mobility, and limited hand strength find that they’re most comfortable with small-caliber guns. And, with proper shot placement, it is possible to end a criminal attack with a mouse gun.
Again, I want to reiterate that no, small-caliber guns aren’t ideal for self-defense purposes…but here in the real world, sometimes we simply have no choice but to play the hand we’ve been dealt. And a mouse in your pocket is better than the lion you left at home.
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