I’ve been writing about my evolution on guns since the Boston manhunt (see here and here). Last week I made my first foray into gun culture by getting my hands on some actual guns.

Once I made the decision to exercise my 2nd Amendment right to self-defense rather than to be a helpless victim, I began to research my options for home protection. I contacted friends who are qualified to dispense advice on the topic and I sent them emails with my requirements. I said I wanted a gun for home use (not for concealed carry at this point), one that is easy to load and shoot (and wouldn’t require me to be an expert marksman), and one for which ammo is readily available. They responded with helpful suggestions and all had a 12-gauge shotgun at the top of their lists. One said a 12-gauge pump shotgun is “ tried and true, easy to use, and ammo is plentiful.” Another said, “For home protection get a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. A Mossberg 500 and a Remington 870 are essentially the same weapon. 12-gauge 00 buckshot is still fairly cheap and plentiful. Anything you shoot at will be vaporized at close range.”

That sounded good, though the thought of “vaporized at close range” in my home was unnerving. Let’s not forget that until a few weeks ago my weapon of choice was a bug vacuum (don’t judge me, this is a process).

My friend and neighbor, Doug Deeken, who is on the board of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, sent me a detailed email with a list of handgun and long gun options. He also thought a shotgun might be a good choice for home use, but offered some cautions,

Long guns are easier overall, and a bit safer for the user, but aren’t quite as easy to use in a hallway with that long barrel sticking out there.  Personally, I have a pump-action Mossberg 500 12-gauge for my home-defense gun. Unless you are familiar with the recoil of a 12-gauge, you’d be well advised to look for either a 20-gauge or .410 gauge pump-action shotgun.  Either a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 will work fine. Get a “Youth” or “Bantam” model, because it’ll have a shorter stock that is easier for you to hold correctly.

When three out of three friends had shotguns at the top of their recommendation lists, I latched onto that idea and told my husband and son that I was leaning toward a shotgun. Ryan, my 21-year-old son, has many years of experience with a variety of guns (what happened at camp, stayed at camp — I didn’t want to know the scary details all those years). When I told him (via Facebook chat) about my plans to get a shotgun, he didn’t agree. Actually, “scoffed” might be a better word, but he tried to be gentle: