View Full Version : Help me help my disabled neighbor...

Rich Miranda
March 31, 2009, 02:34 AM
My next-door neighbor is disabled. He and I have done a lot of talking and he knows I like guns. He approached me a few days ago and asked me if I could help him with getting a gun (this includes, selecting, training, firearm safety, etc) for home defense (no CCW). Of course, I said yes.

I haven't gone into detail with him yet, so I can only generalize about his condition: he has reduced balance, trouble with muscle coordination, and an inability to walk. He does however have incredibly strong hands and arms.

I really want to do what's right by him, even if that means recommending that he not buy a gun. However, I do believe that he would be perfectly capable of using a gun safely and correctly as long as he gets practice (I'll sacrifice and take him to the range :D ). I let him hold and dry-fire my SP101 and he seemed to like the weight and feel.

So, on to the meat:

Please make any recommendations you can with regard to this. I am a blank slate. I want to be able to help him but I need to know more. Just post anything you can think of that I should consider in helping him out. Thanks!

March 31, 2009, 02:46 AM
Another thought!
My mother has many of the same type problems, confined to wheel chair most of the time, alone most of the day. She made the same request of me 1& 1/2 years ago, appears after further questioning of her on the subject; she wanted the gun to "exit this world", I do believe:(

Could this be his motive?

March 31, 2009, 04:34 AM
I wouldn't take the chance... No matter his intentions, the fact that you're unsure of what to do should tell you something. If I had even the slightest inclination that this fella might do something irrational with a firearm that I helped him obtain... not a chance. I don't know how disabled he is, but if he wants to get a gun and cant do it on his own then he probably shouldn't have one.

I'm all for helping out a neighbor, but I'd let him figure this one out on his own. Give all the advice you see fit, but steer clear of actually facilitating any kind of gun purchase for him.

Rich Miranda
March 31, 2009, 04:34 AM
Could this be his motive?

Well, anything is possible, but I highly doubt it. He has a pregnant girlfriend and is doing just fine. He goes to the same church as I and is devout.

I left this part out because I didn't want my original post to be super long: what caused him to want a gun is that one night a few weeks ago a guy was pounding on his door and wouldn't stop. He wasn't expecting anyone and it was the middle of the night so he ignored it. The guy finally went away. The next day the neighbor informed him that the 'pounder' was drunk and just hit the wrong door (it's apartments, they all look the same, of course).

So, it occurred to him that, if they got inside the door or window, he'd be defenseless. That's when he thought of me.

Rich Miranda
March 31, 2009, 04:38 AM
...and cant do it on his own then he probably shouldn't have one.

Let's not let this go the wrong way...he is perfectly able to drive a car, and buy and shoot a gun. He just wants guidance from someone who has experience as opposed to just walking in a gun shop and starting from scratch. The same as if an inexperienced able-bodied person were asking for advice. He just has additional consideration due to his limitations.

As for me being "unsure of what to do", that is not the case. I just thought I'd solicit some helpful advice as to gun size and shape choices, revolver v. SA, caliber, ammo, etc.

Do y'all really think all challenged people are out to off themselves? :confused:

March 31, 2009, 05:11 AM
The next day the neighbor informed him that the 'pounder' was drunk and just hit the wrong door
So if this guy did have a gun, what do you suppose he would have done?

Shoot the drunk??

Are you sure you want to take him down that road because of this one incident???


March 31, 2009, 06:01 AM
Hey, what's the deal?
We sit here saying we need to introduce new shooters to our world, then someone brings one and we turn him away??
If this was a single lady we'd be saying "she could've been raped, she needs a gun NOW!"
Sorry time is short or I'd rant on.
Start with him at Pax's site www.corneredcat.com then try a range that has loaner guns. It may be best for him to take a NRA course with law/ shoot / no shoot sections.
Basically same as any other new shooter.

March 31, 2009, 07:10 AM
I accept your evaluation of his mental condition and reasoning for wanting a gun for HD. As for shooting a drunk who breaks in - that works for me. If someone forces their way into my house, I'm going to assume they want to harm me. The penalty for assuming otherwise is too great. "I was in imminent fear of my life, Officer."

Now - to your question...

Advise him, but let HIM pick the gun:

The "best" gun is the one YOU like, not anyone else. It will be a compromise of:

1. Fit - It should fit in your hand like you were born with it there.
2. Reliability - It should go BANG about 99.8% of the time you pull the trigger.
3. Accuracy - In YOUR hand. It's how well YOU shoot it.
4. *Removed* - NA in this situation)
5. Cost - You don't want to scrimp on your "life protector" weapon, but you probably don't need a $1,000 Kimber, either.

If he has normal function of his upper body, he should be able to handle any HD handgun. A shotgun would be a little awkward, I believe. Check your local range for basic firearms safety/handling courses.

Sigma 40 Blaster
March 31, 2009, 07:31 AM
Maaaaannn. This is worse than the "law enforcement and military only" philosophy of the anti's. This guy probably has a more legitimate worry about self defense than any able bodied man but I guess people are worried that physical ailments will definitely lead to dementia, suicide, and irresponsible behavior? I've seen some elitist garbage on these threads but nothing like this...apparently if you can't walk you shouldn't own a gun.

Keltyke and others are correct, he'll really need to be able to rent a few guns and shoot them before buying before finalizing a caliber. If we buy gun that's too much for us we can compensate with our upper and lower bodies and I'd hate to see someone choose 9mm "because it's the smallest viable SD caliber" without finding out if that's really what they want.

I'd let him handle a couple of revolvers and maybe any semi-autos I had so he could see which ones "feel" the best and let him shoot 'em. You could introduce him to more caliber options if there's a rental range around.

That is the process I use for anyone wanting to buy a gun for the first time no matter what age or sex.

March 31, 2009, 10:05 AM
Quote from theotherTexasRich:"Do y'all really think all challenged people are out to off themselves? "

Hey Texas, my thoughts were only to help you in this process. I only mentioned the story about my mother should the worse case scenario be happening. I would not want you to live with it , as I would have had to with my mother doing something stupid. As you stated , you did leave out some details, had I had them in the OP ; I would not have suspected the possibility of the above.

To answer your question; NO, I don't think ALL challenged people are out to off themselves.

March 31, 2009, 11:38 AM
My next-door neighbor is disabled.

Sorry bro, I was going off of the very small amount of info that you provided. Without any explanation of his disability in your OP... I was just giving you food for thought what you provided.

Do y'all really think all challenged people are out to off themselves?

Not at all, but when I responded there was no indication of what type of challenges he is living with. I can think of situations where a person might be "challenged" to the point where they should not own a gun... Based on your second post, I can see that is not the case with your neighbor.

As for me being "unsure of what to do", that is not the case. I just thought I'd solicit some helpful advice as to gun size and shape choices, revolver v. SA, caliber, ammo, etc.

I may be wrong... but this makes you sound a bit "unsure" -

I really want to do what's right by him, even if that means recommending that he not buy a gun.

Rich Miranda
March 31, 2009, 12:02 PM
First of all, I'm sorry if I stirred things up a bit with my "off themselves" comment. It was the middle of the night. I'll just say that.

If I sound unsure, it's because I've never done this before. This would literally be the very first person that I've helped with a firearm before. So, sure, I'm new and unsure as to how that process really works.

Honestly, the reason I am committed to helping him is that the reason he gave me for desiring a self-defense weapon is the SAME reason I give for HAVING a self-defense weapon. It just hit home. If it had been MY door that drunk was pounding on, I would have quickly gotten my Ruger P90 in hand, ready to defend myself. Why should he not have the same option? He just needs additional help.

Finally, I would not even begin helping him with this process if I wasn't going to follow through completely with safety, training, range practice, etc. As far as I'm concerned, I just gained a shooting buddy! :)

Oh, and I turned him on to TFL and the usefulness of the internets for acquiring information but his computer is out right now. He may join up when it's back up.

So, after our short detour which I take responsibility for, let's generate even more ideas!

Glenn E. Meyer
March 31, 2009, 02:51 PM
Two things:

The gentleman in question might benefit from some supportive practice. At the IDPA club I shoot at (see rivercity in my sig), we have had challenged shooters and have been really supportive with such folks. If he came out (and you too!) - we would happy to have him help navigate the course.

I also recommend that in addition to your instruction - contact www.krtraining.com - very professional and Karl or Penny might give you some tips on helping the challenged.

As far as all the motive gurus here - pardon me but :barf:

March 31, 2009, 03:11 PM
As with anyone, I don't know what will fit him, but here's a few suggestions that I always throw in the mix.

Glock 22 - .40 S&W

Glock 17/19 - 9mm

Springfield XD - 9mm or .40 S&W

S&W revolver (insert model here) - .357 Mag or .38 Spl

S&W M&P series - 9mm or .40 S&W

If he liked the feel of the SP101, take him out and let him shoot it. It's a perfectly fine revolver for HD.

As with any gun, make sure he has the necessary tools to go along with it. Magazines/speedloaders/speed strips, proper HD/SD ammunition, some way of securing the gun, especially if children are a factor, flashlight, and most importantly: proper training (to include applicable laws regarding legal/illegal times to shoot).

Best of luck and hope this helped a bit.

March 31, 2009, 03:12 PM
While my disabled buddy doesn't suffer the same coordination issue you mentioned... my bud is a paraplegic who was shot in the neck as a kid by a drunk guy at a wedding reception. He is very capable in so many ways but his injury prevented him from developing strength below the armpits so he is also unable to get real strong in the shoulders and arms. He is ALWAYS armed with a .38 4-5.5 inch barrel revolver under his thigh in the wheel chair. Before we break out the Crown Royal, he removes the gun and puts it up. We hog hunt and such together at times and I got to go on a limited mobility hunt with him and he and his .308 took a nice buck each of the 2 days...
I must admit he is one of the most mentally stable and strong minded folks you will ever meet!
Rich, Best of luck to you both! I suggest the revolver for simplicity in operation and lesser 2 handed requirements such as mag changes and slide operation, not to mention the very possible stove pipe needing cleared...

Jim March
March 31, 2009, 03:21 PM
In my book, the way to take this guy is towards a DA wheelgun. Starting with an SP101 is fine to try the concept out. Load it mild at first of course.

The DA wheelgun has the simplest operating drill, the lowest likelihood of AD and the best ammo flexibility. If the guy's hands and arms are strong, the DA trigger pull will be a non-issue.

A LOT of people in wheelchairs use fanny packs and that in turn makes it really easy to pack something fairly big 24/7 in all weather. I carry my New Vaquero 357 that way :). He might want to consider a 4" barrel GP100 or similar medium-size 357 over a snubbie if he's going to do a fanny pack. A mid-frame like the GP100 or S&W L-frame is faster to reload than a snubbie, easier to control with medium-to-hot ammo, generally has better sights and of course holds at least one more slug.

One trick with a fanny pack and wheelchair combo: modify the straps so that it has snaps either side of the pack itself. That way, if he's going into a courthouse or something or otherwise needs to turn the gun over to somebody with a badge, he can unsnap both and hand them the core pack unopened, and leave the rest of the strap behind him. When he retrieves the piece, snap it back on both sides and he's ready to rock without having to get up and re-seat everything. Any army surplus place will have extra snaps and straps to build it up this way.

March 31, 2009, 03:46 PM
If there's one available, a NRA handgun class might be very helpful for him, as well as a lot of fun. I took one and got a lot out of it.

It will also give him the opportunity to try out some different handguns.

As others have said, that will help him decide what he likes. He does need to try out a variety of different things until he finds what he likes and what fits him best and he can operate most easily. While that may be a revolver, I wouldn't eliminate semiautomatics until he has a chance to try them out.

Is there a particular reason for saying no CCW?

March 31, 2009, 04:05 PM
One thing I noticed is no one has paid attention to the demographic. He lives in an apartment. Something tells me a .357 magnum may have too much penetration in the event of a miss. From what you have described would he be capable of handling a 12 gauge standing? you say he has weak balance but you don't specify how weak or in what way. I think a 18.5" bbl Mossberg 500 would do him justice with #4 buck. But if his physique prevents him from holding and maneuvering a long gun... Maybe a Taurus judge in 3" chamber? He seemed to like your SP so it might be a good idea to start with revolvers. Fortunately since he is not looking to CCW we don't have to worry about size, shape, and - as hand strength is described - weight too much.

Rich Miranda
March 31, 2009, 05:20 PM
Thank you all for the great tips. I appreciate them all. I'm actually making a checklist so that I can go through each item and tip in a sequence to try to cover all possible bases.

Is there a particular reason for saying no CCW?

Well, no CCW just yet. :D The time may come soon when this is the next step.

March 31, 2009, 05:45 PM
As far as all the motive gurus here - pardon me but

No kidding! Most disabled people I know are far more secure with themselves spiritually speaking than the rest of us.

March 31, 2009, 05:49 PM
Been in a wheelchair since I was 28, and there's some good advice so far. I would also try and get him to practice shooting with either hand. You can't fire and move a wheelchair around very easy, being able to fire with either hand makes it a lot easier to stay put and still cover all angles.

He'll chose the type weapon that he's comfortable with, and with you teaching him technique, he should learn the safe way. The fanny pack is a good idea, I use a regular backpack...and have carried a Cobray M9/11 in there with no problems. There are many places on a wheelchair to adapt for a firearm.;)

April 1, 2009, 01:55 AM
Wanting a firearm to protect oneself is understandable, wheelchair or not.

Since your friend is considering a gun, the first thing I would do is get him a copy of Massad Ayoob's book, "In The Gravest Extreme. After he reads that, then I would have him take a basic "safety" class. Hopefully he will get the opportunity to talk with a few people about different guns, and shoot a few. That will help him better decide.

Then I would proceed to a range where he could rent different guns and have him try them on for size. With all that said, the simplest defensive handgun to operate is a Double Action Revolver, of which I am a fan of. The negative to the revolver is of course the limited capacity, and the amount of time it takes to reload. Those issues can be dealth with through training and tactics.

I've come to realize that people that start on revolvers seem to more aware of the limited ammo capacity and tend to make their shots count better. Heck, even my groups are tighter with a revolver than with my Glock 19. If you can really learn to "run" a wheelie, it's a piece of cake to transition over to an autoloader. The same cannot be said in reverse, IME.

Also, since this is a first gun, if he goes with a revolver, I'd suggest a .357 Magnum even if he loads it with 38 Special loads. In fact I would urge him to use 38 Specials until he got better. If he goes with an autoloader I would urge him to go with a 9mm. Later on down the road he can look at moving up in caliber. What he needs right now is "trigger time", and that can get expensive.

Another thing to consider is some type of sighting device, no matter the gun. I'm a fan of the Crimson Trace Laser Grips for defensive usage. My current EDC gun is a High Power in .40 S&W with Night Sights and Crimson Trace Laser Grips. If I could only have one, it would be the Laser Grips.

Having, carrying or using a gun for self defense takes, IMO, a lot of deep forethought and isn't for the faint of heart. Too many people don't think about what happens after using their gun. Be prepared for that before you have to use your gun. That's why I say, if you really want to be a friend, get him a copy of Mas' book. :)

Take care and stay safe,


Mark whiz
April 1, 2009, 02:01 PM
My 1st course of action would be to take him out shooting. Let him shoot your stuff and you can observe how well he handles the equipment - that should help settle your mind as to whether or not he will be safe with one.
Also - IF he might be inclined to be using this as an opportunity for suicide - feeling the violence of firing an arm often disuades such thoughts.......it definitely tends to make a person more respectful of arms.

My friends have worked often with Buckmasters on "disability" hunts and seeing those folks in such conditions and enjoying themselves is such a rush - so don't count anyone out because of a "challenge or disability".

If he goes ahead with a purchase, I would 2nd the idea that choice of caliber is important in an apartment situation. Magnums are probably out and some frangible ammo like Glazers would probably be a good call.

Too bad sawed-off shotguns are a no-no with the authorities - that might be the best in-house protection piece he could have. :(

April 1, 2009, 04:24 PM
Maaaaannn. This is worse than the "law enforcement and military only" philosophy of the anti's. This guy probably has a more legitimate worry about self defense than any able bodied man but I guess people are worried that physical ailments will definitely lead to dementia, suicide, and irresponsible behavior? I've seen some elitist garbage on these threads but nothing like this...apparently if you can't walk you shouldn't own a gun.

Hahaha! I was getting ready to post that after reading the first few posts until i got to yours.

I would let the man shoot everything you have and see if there's something he really likes. If not I would invite some other buddies to go shooting with you and see if you neighbor likes any of their guns. At this point it should become apparent what caliber he favors and if he hasnt found a gun he likes a trip to any good gun shop should do the trick! Goodluck and thats for recruiting another gun owner!!!!

Deaf Smith
April 1, 2009, 07:38 PM

I say introduce him to a good Glock with a NY-1 trigger. Since he has strong hands I bet he can rack it easly.

And maybe a good shotgun if he wants it.

And while you are at it, a Surefire light. I perfer the E2D so you can fight with it as well as use it as a light but I'm sure others have their perferances.

Now a NRA course or a basic handgun course would help. But a real CHL class where he learns the laws to would be even better. After all, he and you are in Texas right?

I'd help him out. He souds OK.

April 1, 2009, 08:50 PM
I am disabled with poor balance, weak left side strength, poor left/right coordination and walk with a cane (poor balance) quite slowly.

I prefer a revolver simply because the trigger pull is more forgiving when it comes to the variable muscle strength I experience. I found a 4" S&W 686 a really good 1st handgun.

I practice with 158 grain SJSP I load to about 50% load level (13.8 grains of Alliant 2400 with magnum CCI SP primers). I load for home security with Winchester 145 grain Silver Tip Hollow Point, or Speer 158 grain Gold Dot Hollow Point.

If your friend has strong upper body strength, these ought not be a problem. If the blast and recoil is a problem, Speer also makes 135 grain Short Barrel Gold Dot Hollow Point ammunition that I find shoots quite milder in my 4" S&W 686.

I wish your friend luck in finding a match and figure you and he will enjoy the quest. :)

I find reading this thread I have some interesting thoughts. Some of the posters sound like the 'anti-gun' group deciding who should, or should not have a gun. Some folks seem to think the gun will be used for evil purposes by the poor unfortunate individual, who really cannot be trusted. Some speculate on him shooting a drunk in error.

I can only offer that I would have liked a friend help me shoot a few different handguns before I made my 1st choice. I was fortunate to have a gunsmith/gun shop that I used before I became disabled help guide me in my 1st choice, the S&W 4" 686.

If the guy is not a fellon, an American citizen, and has not been adjudicated incompetent, then why does he not have the right to buy a handgun. If he has that right, why not help a disabled citizen in that quest ?

April 2, 2009, 02:01 AM
If the guy is not a fellon, an American citizen, and has not been adjudicated incompetent, then why does he not have the right to buy a handgun. If he has that right, why not help a disabled citizen in that quest ?

I agree, and if you look at my post you will see that I recommended training and knowledge, as I would for anyone.

I prefer to see a beginner start off with a good instructor to prevent any "bad habits" developing at the start.


April 2, 2009, 02:27 AM
I would have to echo the remarks of Jim March in post number 16 of this thread. I also would highly recommend a revolver due to its simplicity and effectiveness. I have carried and still do carry a revolver on many occasions. I prefer carrying a .357 as I can either use full-caliber loads or I can downsize to .38 Special ammunition if the need arises!
Good luck in your efforts and congrats/thank you for bringing yet another enthusiastic member to the great shooting family!! Good luck to your friend as well. May his journey be a fun and informative one!!

Jim March
April 2, 2009, 11:05 AM
I did a whole post on modifying a fanny pack, including a "dual snap" adaptation:


I missed noting that I used 20lb test fishing line as the "thread" connecting the revised straps. It's tough as nails when used this way and due to the way it folds behind each latch the stitching is invisible.

The "dual snap" setup was just the easiest way to go in my case, and it gives me the advantage of being able to remove the rig with either hand. But for somebody in a wheelchair, it would be particularly useful as the strap behind you can be left in place while removing the "core".

April 2, 2009, 12:04 PM
If he is mostly looking for a SD weapon for home use, maybe a handgun is not the best choice.

A shotgun, or some kind of carbine might be the ticket.

April 3, 2009, 01:54 PM
for goodness sakes, round up every gun you can lay your hands on and some buddies and theirs if possible and go shoot. most wepons will not even be a choice for him but i am sure with some help he can fire them all and will have a blast. you can teach him to shoot and help decide what he is best off with.
and you will probly have a friend for life.
i bet he will be up for some shooting anytime you are.
i have a cupple of friends and some buddies of dads and even 1 of pappies that come out to shoot that are disabled in various ways from amputations to old age. old joe is almost 100 and we hunt whisle pigs. which means we sit in old lawn chairs back at the creek and if i see one i shoot it. he swears he can see them but wont even be looking the right way. between his catnaps we have some great conversations.
so go have fun and probly make a new friend. he is disabled not demented. you will both know when you find the right gun.