The second amendment to the Constitution recognizes (not grants, recognizes) everyone's right to be armed for the defense of person and property unless and until that right has been surrendered by virtue of criminal activity. Lately it seems that the criminal activity has been on the part of governing tyrants making rules to reserve civil rights unto themselves and their cronies, and enforcing those rules purporting them to be law. Should you be resident in such locales it is incumbent upon you to take whatever steps are necessary to have any such illegal laws (doesn't that seem an oxymoron?) struck from the books before society falls into the state known as WROL; without rule of law. WROL is what happens when the police are dis-inclined or unable to protect society such as what happened during hurricane Katrina in New Orleans the other day. At that time, up to and including the present, authorities went house to house confiscating personal property at gunpoint and have not as yet returned all to rightful owners. So if your firearms were stolen by the cops in New Orleans back then, good luck ever seeing them again. And if the cops also broke into your storefront in an effort to harvest emergency supplies for the public good, good luck in getting your TVs and DVD players back again too. Case law has proven time and again that governmental agencies have NO DUTY TO PROTECT YOU! Police are provided by governments to protect society as a whole (which primarily means the government) and to apprehend criminal perpetrators for prosecution by the government (and incidentally the people) they are hired to protect. Note that I refer to them as hired, not sworn. Duly sworn law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the people, but hired to protect the government. The US Capitol Police Department consists of approximately 1600 officers, or about three protectors for each member of the Congress. Granted there are more than 535 people in the Capitol but God forbid there ever was a hostage situation in the building guess who would be saved first, the young page just beginning her life or the geriatric doddering old fool who has been sitting on his butt swilling uselessly at the public trough for the last 60 years. Bottom line YOU are responsible for your own life and safety. There are numerous ways to protect the life and safety of yourself and loved ones. You can study martial arts and after 20 or 30 years develop the skills required to disarm someone bent on your destruction. Of course if he is bent on destructing you with anything more destructive than a club or knife you will no doubt find yourself at a net deficit. Two 9mm slugs beat a 10th dan black belt 9 out of 10 times. Maybe that's why they call them 9mm. Those self same 2 each 9mm can easily be trumped however by 2 equivalent 9mm traveling on a reciprocal vector; especially if dispatched first. If you are alive, you have a life to protect. If you are married with children, or even if you have parents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbours, or in-laws you have multiple lives to protect. (Although in the case of in-laws there has been vigorous debate from time immemorial.) THERE IS NOBODY OUT THERE TO COVER YOUR BACKSIDE BUT YOU, SKIPPY! Bottom line: get armed, get trained, get good. Unarmed you are a slave to circumstance. Un-trained you are a criminal case waiting to be prosecuted. Un-good you are a hazard to yourself and others. There is little consolation having shot a loved one in the fact that you thought you were aiming at the bad guy. The first question anyone who has decided to take his responsibility seriously (And here I hasten to state that the masculine pronoun is gender unspecific. I refuse to butcher the language of Shakespeare and Keats in an effort to appear politically correct. Those who know me, know better and those who know me not, matter not.) will ask is, "What kind of gun should I buy." As a veteran of close to two decades of military service I will immediately respond that a gun is something that lives on the deck of a ship, so unless you are a navy you are shopping for either a rifle, a shotgun (I know, I know sometimes things are wrong enough long enough to be accepted as correct. See my PC comment earlier.) or a sidearm. ("Handgun" isn't the only thing those Bozos of the Brady bunch screw up.) Ask this question of ten people and if you get less than a dozen different answers you are probably in the newsroom of the L.A. Times. (Gun? Why would you want a gun? The police are there to protect you. Guns are dangerous. Guns should be outlawed. Yadda, yadda, and/or yadda. You can tell the sheeple by the tune they bleat.) Quick answer: firearms are designed to make dead stuff out of live stuff, so what are you needing to kill? And where and under what circumstances. The ONLY justification for killing something is if it is trying to kill you or another innocent or if you are going to eat it. If your attacker is an elephant on the African veldt a nice double rifle in .600 Nitro Express is quite appropriate. But if accosted by a club wielding panther at a Philadelphia polling place you might find a discrete sidearm in 9mm quite sufficient. Conventional wisdom says that you want something big enough to knock the bad guy on his bum, but small enough not to knock you on your own bum. Further consideration must be given to blatancy. If you chose to carry a long arm (rifle or shotgun) discretion is difficult at best to exhibit; some sort of sidearm will be necessary if you choose not to advertise the fact that you are equipped to protect yourself. That means that in all but three states you will need a note from Mommy saying you are allowed to exercise your God given right to self defense. Most states today have laws stating that they MUST give you a note to teacher as long as you are not a proven dirt bag. Several states have laws saying you MAY get a note if the government feels like giving it to you (ie. you know, or blow, someone) and at the pinnacle of ignorance of human rights we find the states of Wisconsin and Illinois (plus the territories of Guam and Northern Marianas) where concealed carry of a sidearm is not allowed for the hoi polloi and civil rights are reserved to minions of the state. Granted Wisconsin allows open carry of a sidearm when you can get away without police harassment, and Illinois allows open carry when you are outside city limits. At least you can protect yourself from a rabid triceratops, but Heaven fore-fend that you might consign some inner city scum attempting to murder,rape or rob you to a long term career as a sub-subterranean horticulturist. (Just lying there pushing up daisies.) Of course, like everything in this life, there ain't no free lunch, and everyone has an opinion or two. If I were shopping for a first firearm I think I would be looking for a pistol caliber carbine, preferably in 9mm Parabellum (also known as 9mm Luger, 9mm NATO or 9x19mm) because that's what the government uses. If rule of law collapses the first thing the powers that will stop at nothing to continue to be will do is shut down access to ammunition. "Borrowing" from the authorities to return one round at a time may be your only option and a long firearm is easier to handle and aim than a sidearm. A carbine is compact enough to be used as a home protection weapon in most circumstances and the 9x19 round is tender enough not to be a hand cannon but sturdy enough to be quite dissuading in a social situation. Besides when it comes time to graduate to a pistol you will be using common ammunition and in some cases even common magazines. Next purchase (NO ONE is properly equipped without several firearms) I would recommend in my never to be humble opinion is a .22 caliber pistol. While the .22 Long Rifle cartridge is fairly anemic as a defensive cartridge, ammo is quite inexpensive (sometimes as low as a nickel a round in bulk) and learning to handle a sidearm without the flash, bang and buck of a larger caliber is a good thing. Add the fact that most "22" pistols hold at least 10 rounds and will put serious sting on an assailant at danger range (generally considered to be within 7 yards) and you will only be under equipped in an all out gunfight. Knife or bludgeon wielding assailants, you could probably hold your own. Third candidate for your hard earned dollars is a pistol in the same caliber as the carbine. At this point you will have to decide if you will be discreet carrying or not, and select a sidearm appropriately sized to be easily concealed or large enough to be more accurate. Remember that social situations usually develop at fairly close distances so the ability to group 5 shots under a quarter from 50 yards away is not necessary. (Fun, but not necessary.) Unless you are going to be one those "gun nuts" fabled in movies and media you are probably going to want something reasonably concealable based on hand and body size. When rule of law collapses, collapse of access to food will follow quite rapidly. If grocery store shelves empty at threat of a half foot of snow now, imagine what will happen at the threat of half a year of armed lawlessness. A .22 rifle is a handy pot hunting firearm for small game like rabbits and squirrels. Again the cost of ammunition is too cheap not to get and stay proficient. Last but far from least I would recommend a good rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO. Again that is the current issue of government forces and is essentially the same as .223 civilian ammo. Make sure the firearm you are considering will digest either. Some .223 rifles will not chamber 5.56 or will not like the higher pressure of military ammo. Base your decisions on the fact that it could come to "appropriating" ammunition from military sources, and not necessarily US forces. There are "mutual aid" agreements in place to allow foreign troops onto American soil, and you can (and are) bet your life if rule of law collapses in this country there will be UN forces running around the country attempting to disarm the populous. I like the Ruger Ranch Rifle in this caliber as it is not huge nor overly heavy and can take larger game like deer and antelope. Compared to the cost of AR platform firearms the Ranch Rifle runs 1/2 to 1/4 the price as well. I like the thought of having at least 500, preferably 1000 rounds for each muzzle in your inventory. I recommend you buy as much as you can each month until you reach what is your comfort level. Remember the first commodity to disappear will be ammunition. You should have a year's supply on hand to balance your year's supply of subsistence commodities. Now that you have all the essentials in hand you might consider a shotgun or two. 12 gauge generally has the greatest selection of munitions while 20 ga. is easier on the physiology. Smooth-bore barrels on many models can be changed for rifled barrels that will throw a sabot discarding slug a respectable distance and put some pretty big game in the pot. Fresh meat is always a negotiable currency in hard times. My personal preference for a daily carry piece is a .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) caliber compact pistol. Like a very wise man once said, ".45 ACP; because shooting twice is silly." Not for the faint of heart or hand, the .45 does what it was designed to do puts bad guys down quick. Few are there who remain standing after 45 hollow points knock on their chests. Remember: It's not paranoia if they really are after you. Pray for peace, but lock and load.