The PJ Tatler

Ms. Magazine's 'My Month with a Gun' Story Shooting Blanks?

Ms. Magazine’s Heidi Yewman writes about her harrowing experience obtaining a Glock pistol and a concealed carry permit. You can almost hear her labored breathing and see the sweat drip as she writes about it.


What’s got me jittery this morning is the 9mm Glock that’s holstered on my hip. Me, lead gun policy protester at the 2010 Starbuck’s shareholder meeting. Me, a board member of the Brady Campaign. Me, the author of a book about the impact of gun violence, Beyond the Bullet.

Yes, I bought a handgun and will carry it everywhere I go over the next 30 days. I have four rules: Carry it with me at all times, follow the laws of my state, only do what is minimally required for permits, licensing, purchasing and carrying, and finally be prepared to use it for protecting myself at home or in public.

So, in exercising your Second Amendment rights you’re similar to thousands of fine Texas women for 30 days? Ok, but there’s no reason to be worked up about it.

And she really is worked up about it.

I started my 30-day gun trial with a little window-shopping. I visited a gun show and two gun dealers. I ended up buying a Glock 9mm handgun from Tony, a gun dealer four miles from my house. I settled on this model because it was a smallish gun and because Tony recommended it for my stated purposes of protecting myself and my home.

It was obvious from the way I handled the gun that I knew nothing about firearms. Tony sold it to me anyway.

What else was he supposed to do? As an adult, it’s Yewman’s responsibility to become familiar with the product she is buying. This may strike some as too basic to bother writing, but gun dealers do not exist to stop adults from buying guns. That isn’t their job. Every gun dealer I have ever dealt with has been more than happy to explain anything and everything, if you ask. Gun range operators will show you how to hold and fire your weapon. They take the mystery out of it all. If you ask. Yewman shouldn’t imply any blame on the dealer for her own choice to protest something with which she is wholly unfamiliar, and then buy that product before becoming familiar with it.


Back to Yewman’s 30-day harrowing ordeal.

The whole thing [buying the gun] took  7 minutes. As a gratified consumer, I thought, “Well, that was easy.” Then the terrifying reality hit me, “Holy hell, that was EASY.”  Too easy. I still knew nothing about firearms.

But that never stopped her from protesting them and campaigning to outlaw them. What does this say about the leaders of the anti-Second Amendment movement?

Tony told me a Glock doesn’t have an external safety feature, so when I got home and opened the box and saw the magazine in the gun I freaked. I was too scared to try and eject it as thoughts flooded my mind of me accidentally shooting the gun and a bullet hitting my son in the house or rupturing the gas tank of my car, followed by an earth-shaking explosion. This was the first time my hands shook from the adrenaline surge and the first time I questioned the wisdom of this 30-day experiment.

Shooting a car’s gas tank will not cause an explosion. That’s cop show stuff. It may cause a dangerous leak, but you still need something to ignite the fuel. Modern firearms like Glock pistols are difficult if not impossible to discharge accidentally. Impossible, if they’re not loaded, and this one was definitely not loaded. More on that below.

Someone this emotionally spun-up probably should not purchase a firearm. Owning a firearm is a grave responsibility. Some people just are not cut out for it. I do realize that that is Yewman’s point — it’s too easy to buy a gun! They even let me buy one and carry it around without knowing anything about it!


It’s also too easy to misuse your First Amendment rights to militate against things you know nothing about, or that your audience knows nothing about. Anyone can do it. That doesn’t mean it should be illegal. If it was, Heidi Yewman would be out of a job.

Yewman was so worked up and so ignorant of her firearm that she could have gotten herself shot.

I needed help. I drove to where a police officer had pulled over another driver. Now, writing this, I realize that rolling up on an on-duty cop with a handgun in tow might not have been fully thought through.

Heh. Ya think?

I told him I just bought a gun, had no clue how to use it. I asked him to make sure there were no bullets in the magazine or chamber. He took the magazine out and cleared the chamber. He assured me it was empty and showed me how to look. Then he told me how great the gun was and how he had one just like it.

Nice cop. We could use more like him.

At least Yewman is calling the Glock’s magazine by its correct name. That’s more than most mainstream reporters have shown themselves capable of.

She describes the process by which she obtained her concealed carry permit as follows:

Getting the permit to carry a concealed weapon was simple. I filled out a form, had my fingerprints taken for a background check and paid $56.50. No training required. It took far longer to get my dog a license.


A commenter asked her which state this occurred in, and he emailed to tell PJM that his comment was deleted without explanation.

There may be issues with the fee paid and the timing.

According to this bio, Yewman lives in Washington state. But Ms. Yewman’s experience obtaining a concealed carry permit does not exactly match the regulations in Washington state. The concealed carry fee in Washington State is $52.50, not the $56.50 that Yewman states. In Washington state, applicants must undergo a background check separate from the background check they undergo when they purchase a firearm, which by regulation can take up to 30 days, not the seconds it takes to undergo a NICS check at the point of sale. Yewman mentions the second background check but states that she got the permit quickly, with no mention of any wait at all. That’s possible, but the fee doesn’t match. Also, wait times have been skyrocketing in Washington state this year. Concealed carry hopefuls tend to have to wait as long as two months everywhere but King County, which is first-come-first-serve. If you catch the courthouse there, or the Seattle police, on a good day, you won’t have to wait more than about 45 minutes. Maybe Yewman researched deeply enough to know that, or got lucky.

Yewman also states that it took her about 7 minutes to purchase the Glock. In Washington state, there is a five-day waiting period for firearm purchases. Well, there is an exception — purchasers who already have their concealed carry permit don’t have to undergo the five-day wait. Yewman appears to be aware of that, and obtained her concealed carry permit before buying the Glock to avoid the five-day wait. She should also be aware that Washington state regulations specify that firearms will be delivered securely wrapped and unloaded. So she need not have risked driving up to a police officer who was working a traffic stop to ask him to make sure the Glock was unloaded. Thankfully, the police officer was not alarmed, and it sounds like he was happy to help her.


Given her lack of familiarity with firearms, when she brought the gun home, Yewman should have checked the manual before doing anything with the gun. That’s the responsible thing to do. If there was no manual with it, she should have searched for one online. It takes a few seconds on the search engine of your choice to pull up manuals for just about every gun out there. There are also plenty of Glock safety videos on YouTube. There was no need to bother a police officer in the middle of a traffic stop. That was an irresponsible thing to do. There was no need to panic or run through mental nightmares about shooting your kid or blowing up your car like they used to do on Starsky & Hutch.

There is a state that charges $56.50 for concealed carry permits. That state is Iowa Idaho. But Iowa requires more than just the fee. Concealed carry applicants have to provide proof of familiarity with firearms, in the form of a certificate from a hunter safety course or NRA safety course. Heidi Yewman doesn’t live in Iowa and says that her state required nothing in the way of proof of familiarity with firearms.

I’m not quite calling shenanigans even though the details she provides aren’t a perfect match for any state’s concealed carry regulations, and Yewman may be maintaining her ignorance of guns in order to spin a yarn. An hour or two at a gun range with a decent range master would probably dispel all her fears. She has elected not to take advantage of any range time, though. She has elected to shoot off her mouth about things she admits she knows nothing about.


Hopefully her 30-day experience will remove her fear of firearms and help her recognize that the vast majority of American firearms owners have taken to their responsibility with the necessary seriousness and gravity required. Maybe she’ll also learn that no matter how many laws you pass, you can’t regulate irresponsibility out of existence. Grown-ups still have to be grown-ups. Maybe she will also learn how the Bill of Rights is supposed to work, and how one amendment strengthens another. At a minimum, people like Heidi Yewman should be passingly familiar with the Constitutional rights they’re agitating to take away from their fellow citizens.

Update: Perfect.

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