Dann brings the big guns out and intelligently opines on a topic near and dear to my heart. What do you bring to the gunfight? I wrote about this in September, Carry as much gun as you can, but Dann does it better.
While you're at it head on over to Brigid's place and peruse her writings on this as well as many other firearms subjects. Tam might have written one or two posts that might possibly be on topic. How about Miguel or Fred or Murphy's Law or Borepatch or Frank or Michael or Keads or The Mad Ogre or Rourke or Mr. Completely or North or ASM826 or Say Uncle or Breda or Kevin or Oleg or WhenTheBalloonGoesUp or, well, you get the idea (and my apologies to anyone I missed, it was unintentional. I get easily distracted by shiny things).
My point is that there's a wealth of information out there just in my blogroll. People who are educated and experienced and who have nothing to sell and no hidden agenda beyond a desire to voluntarily give of the knowledge they've gained in lifetimes of effort and sometimes dangerous work. People we should all read, listen to and heed. And they're just the literal tip of the iceberg. A casual perusal of their writings and blogrolls yields a veritable wealth of folks who have been there and done that when it comes to firearms and self defense. And here's the funny thing. None of them, not a single one, will look you in the eye and tell you they are the be all/end all of shooting and bad guy defeating. It's the instructors responsibility to justify their teachings and advice and everyone who opines on these subjects is presenting themselves as teachers or subject matter experts and yes, that does include me and this very post. Don't be afraid to call BS when you see it. A good instructor welcomes hard questions.
For me the bottom line is this. Do your homework. Ask questions (and in that vein question everything you're told). Be a cautious consumer. Take everything with a large grain of salt. Ask yourself (and whatever source you're considering) what they're selling, especially if it's themselves. I've been to a lot of shooting/self defense classes and all instructors are not created equal. By the same token, someone I hate may be the bee's knees for you. Like instructors, students are as different as their needs and learning abilities. It's your money, spend it wisely.
I'll end this scribbling with something I've said many times and will continue to say. The 'experts' may be right or they may be wrong on any given subject but which they are depends on you; who you are, what you want, what you need and what you can afford. Knowing that is the beginning of wisdom in a field rife with gadgets, charlatans, tactical cool, fan boys, big boys and a disappointing tendency toward a herd mentality.
Carry. Carry what you can, what you believe in, what you can afford but carry. Train. Beg, borrow or steal the best instruction you can find and afford. This is an area which surprisingly does not follow the 'you get what you pay for' meme. There's an awful lot of very good free information out there if you dig a little. There's also an awful lot of high priced ignorance and stupidity. Figuring out which is which and who is who is the essence of becoming and staying an informed shooter. Discernment isn't just a fancy word, it's a requirement. And if someone calls you a fool because you don't carry what they recommend or train the same way they do then consider the source, learn what you can of value from them and move on. Self defense is a subject that is vitally important and it's far too easy to get discouraged by the ramblings of the self described elite. The mall ninja meme is funny right up to the point where you've paid for it and the price might be very dear indeed.
A big Thank You to all the gunnies on my list (and those I neglected to mention). I have learned something important from each and every one of you. And it didn't cost me a thing except a little time. Your efforts may go essentially unrewarded on the web but they don't go unappreciated. I hope you continue.