After trying to decide whether I’d have not only the time to pick up, load, and aim my gun if someone broke into my house late at night, but the wherewithal, I decided on Day 5 that I really must start carrying Little Lethal everywhere. This was serious. I couldn’t be fumbling around with my own self-defense tool while trying to defend myself.

It wasn’t really on my computer. That was just for the picture.

That evening after work, gun with me while writing a blog post, I was happy to find it wasn’t making me as nervous as it had been. I felt like we were “good.”

Then Ian came home, wanted to show me something gun-related, and put one of my loaded magazines right next to it.

“What?” he said when I looked at the magazine with gleaming bullets stacked inside. “Not ready to have them so close, yet?”

(They’d been separated from the gun since I brought it home.)

“No. Not ready.”

I was pretty sure it was because I hadn’t shot it, yet. Having it be this mystery (a mystery that, for all I knew, could explode in my face the first time I used it), was, I figured, the final thing keeping me from fully embracing it.

“Okay,” he said. “I can show you without loading it.”

The first lesson (reminder: Ian had all kinds of weapon training in the Army) wasn’t one that would have been aided by having the gun loaded. It was “how to shoot without really aiming,” or “holding the gun close to your face and using the barrel, rather than the sights, as the guide.” The key was to use the body as a bracing element while both arms were bent to hold the gun close to the eye line in situations when it wouldn’t be practical to take the time to aim for the perfect shot. (See: any movie in which people walk through rooms with a handgun.)

I couldn’t quite figure out how to hold my arms. Or my body.

“You’re not supposed to duck down to the gun,” Ian said, raising my hands. “Stand normal and hold it higher, by where your face usually is.”

Once I got that part, he positioned my non-shooting arm so that it was braced against my body for support while my non-shooting hand cupped the bottom of the gun’s handle and my shooting hand.

“Then, when you sweep a room, you swing the support from side to side,” he said, demonstrating what it looks like to have the shooting arm supported by the body while the other is raised.

“That way feels funny,” I said.

“It does.”

Aiming or dancing?

I practiced doing it the normal way by putting the gun on the kitchen island, and then picking it up fast, holding it the way he’d taught me, and aiming at a picture on the wall in the living room.

“What are you doing?” he said, because I was doing what you see in the picture.

“I don’t know. Shut up.”

“Stand solid, and lean into it.”

The stance will take some time to feel natural, but I’m getting much closer to putting in the magazine, at least.


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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website:


nervous gun ownership, Writing


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