Dear editor:

Thank you for Bryan Miller’s article “Guns & Women” [February 4]. I found it informative and mostly accurate.

I agree with Miller completely that information dispensed in four-week martial arts classes and seminars is inadequate, impractical or just plain wrong. I would add dangerous to that list. I know of one case where a Chimera (women’s self defense) trained individual attacked and injured a man simply because he bumped into her. I see angry (rightfully so) women walking around half-trained waiting to provoke a confrontation.

Good firearm training disposes of the notion that anger is somehow part of self defense. Anger will kill you, not the perp. A trained individual will find the firearm in hand and ready to fire automatically. Once the decision has been made to use deadly force the only action that will reverse the process is the perp leaving, relinquishing a weapon or giving up.

The decision to train with a firearm is not one to be taken lightly. The only purpose of this training is to teach one how to kill or incapacitate a rapist, burglar, carjacker, whatever. Anyone who buys a gun with the intention of threatening or scaring an offender is asking to have the firearm used against her.

A couple of comments about guns for women. Never buy a gun that you won’t take with you because it’s too big. A .44 in the trunk of your car is useless if you’re being raped in the alley 100 yards away. Never display a weapon unless you have the intention of using it. If you’re confronted with a gun store clerk who tries to sell you “a nice little ladies’ gun” get the hell out of there. Guns are tools, not macho playthings.

Your cover photo violates one of the first rules of good gun handling. The finger never enters the trigger guard until you are ready to fire. Where I train, people are thrown off the range if this rule is violated. Your story relates an instance where a woman cocked a revolver in a self-defense situation. A revolver is never cocked in a self-defense situation. You always shoot it double-action.

Miller’s statement that our gun laws affect only the law-abiding is accurate. Felons don’t register guns.

Unfortunately we live in a city and society that coddles criminals and encourages the law-abiding to go forth defenseless. I appreciate one former liberal woman’s statement in the article that “she had decided she had to have a gun.” It’s tragic that a catastrophic event had to occur before she realized her peril.

It’s mostly illegal to own or carry a weapon in Chicago. You have to take that into consideration before you go forth armed. The reality of the situation is that if you use a weapon in self-defense an illegal use of weapons charge is going to be the least of your problems.

Women (and men) who are interested should read books by such notables in the self-defense field as Massad Ayoob and Colonel Jeff Cooper. Both authors give no-nonsense approaches to gun training and ownership.

Regarding nonlethal weapons. Miller is right that there are problems with Mace. Mace is a thing of the past. The newest products on the market in this vein contain capsicum, a resin extracted from hot peppers. This stuff will handle dogs, PCP users and drunks every time, no exceptions. Make sure you get at least a five percent solution. Wind has to be gale force before this concentrated stream is affected.