Since I cannot physically practice Kenpo anymore, I've had to reconsider personal defense. White American males of my age and class are not prime candidates for violent crime, and Kenpo has for years been more of a fascinating physical and mental discipline than a plan for Der Tag, but I do occasionally worry about my ability to deal with a situation since I can't practice and I can't count on my body to perform under stress.
When we moved back to the US, we had some specific concerns about Sara's safety. She appeared on at least one list of people destroying America on some rather unsavory rightwing sites. Having had some previous experience with a stalker, we took the matter rather seriously for a while, but eventually concluded that her lowered profile was probably sufficient protection.
During our research, however, we determined that Washington state has some of the weakest, if not the weakest, requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit in the country. I'm not going to talk about the sense of that, at least not now, but we did look at obtaining carry permits. With a carry permit (called a CPL -- Concealed Pistol License) you can carry concealed (Washington is generally an open carry state) in most locations and you don't have to deal with waiting periods while buying firearms in Washington state because they've already done a background check on you. You still need to do background checks as required by law (e.g. any firearm you buy from a licensed dealer), but there are no statutory waiting periods.
Each having a background with guns (both of us had at least partially rural upbringings, and my father thought he wanted to be Ernest Hemingway when he grew up), we had seriously discussed whether it was necessary to teach our children to shoot and about gun safety. We decided that they were more likely to be urbanites that we were, and put all our firearms in storage during their years in our house (and of course they stayed in storage in the US while we were in Canada). We never expected Kiernan to be the paintball reincarnation of Wyatt Earp :-).
With our empty nest came a desire to re-examine and re-experience shooting. We have bought several new firearms and visited a variety of local ranges as well as taking handgun training classes.
No, I'm not going to announce whether or not we have CPLs, nor am I going to announce whether or not we carry legally or otherwise.
But I will say that I have a new appreciation for pistolcraft as a martial art, having visited Gunsite Academy in Paulden, AZ for a one week Pistol 250 class in January. I would say it took 3-5 years of regular training (2+ hours a night 3-4 nights a week) to feel comfortable in my ability to handle a situation with Kenpo. One week of excellent training on top of years of casual shooting might have done it using a pistol. I put videos of the two simulators on youtube here and here.
So there will be quite a bit more conversation about guns than there has been. Since I doubt there are a whole lot of readers out there, I don't know if it matters. If I offend you and you leave, sorry about that.