David George DeMersseman was 54 years old, an insurance executive and on a road trip. He was sitting in a Waffle House on a major thoroughfare next to an entrance/exit off Interstate 12 in my town, having an early breakfast or a late dinner - the newspapers didn't specify.

What they did specify was that DeMersseman was the victim of yet another senseless killing by another useless waste of human skin enveloping a body that couldn't approach being the type of person DeMersseman apparently was.

By early reports, he was a hard-working individual who gave back to his community in Valdosta, Ga. He was civic-minded, worked with youth, was involved in his home town and, according to his son, was the type of guy who would do exactly what he did that resulted in his death.

A cretin piece of trash walked in the Waffle House where DeMersseman was the only customer at 1:20 a.m., and announced a holdup. When he tried to take DeMersseman's wallet, DeMersseman tried to take the gun away from the slug, and was shot and killed. The animal still robbed the restaurant before running out and jumping in a car.

DeMersseman was dead.

Law-enforcement friends said it was more of an incident where he struck the gun away from his body, and the thug fired, the bullet striking DeMersseman in the head, killing him instantly.

Why has this affected me so?

Because I am tired of good people being destroyed by things that do not deserve to breathe their air. I am tired of thugs robbing people, and then executing them for no good reason, except they enjoy the notoriety and thrill of killing.

I can only think and hope that if DeMersseman had a gun, a concealed carry permit, maybe he would be alive, and the thug would be where he needs to be, instead of incarcerated (yes, they caught him and his cowardly two buddies in their get-away car), awaiting trial, and what will likely be a life sentence - a far better fate than he granted DeMersseman on May 4, 2010, in Baton Rouge.

While mulling all this, anguished over the death of a good man by a thug who gives lie to the mantra that every human life has worth, I received a Taurus PT709 "Slim" for testing.

This is an interesting small firearm. As witnessed by the story above, there is a crying need for more easily concealed yet powerful handguns. Let's face it folks, it can happen anywhere today - you may need a gun.

This is a good choice. I am a big proponent of the 9mm cartridge. While many sneer at its supposedly weak stopping power, it seems every other week you hear of someone stopping someone with, yes, a 9mm.

I like the cartridge because it is common and cheap, which leads one to be able to buy lots of ammo at reasonable prices, and practice with it. And friends, in this day and age, practice is what it's all about. There are tons of good self-defense rounds out there. Pick one and load up with it after expending several boxes of practice ammo each month.

The Taurus is a smaller pistol. In fact, it is noticeably smaller than a Glock 19, the medium-framed 9mm that I consider excellent for size, stopping power and concealability.

This striker-fired, 7- to 9-pound trigger-pull semi-auto carries seven rounds of 9mm in the magazine and one in the chamber. This little gun falls between the ubiquitous Ruger LCP and the Glock 19 - a medium-framed semi-auto that offers enough size to be able to play and plink but small enough to hide as a concealed handgun.

I was surprised at the handling abilities of the gun, and expected a heck of a lot more recoil than I felt. Similar to Glock, the recoil spring is an encapsulated design, with one spring inside of another, reducing the felt recoil far below what you would expect from a pistol that weighs in at only 19 ounces.

Interestingly, Taurus has incorporated a security system into this pistol that allows a special tool (two are included with the gun, along with two magazines) to be inserted into a hole in the rear of the slide, turning it clockwise, and completely locking up the trigger and the slide.

It is a single-action/double action trigger, meaning it has a very short stroke to fire the gun the first time, and if the cartridge misfires, just pull the trigger again with a long trigger stroke, to receive a second-strike capability. Sometimes, the second strike of the firing pin achieves the desired result.

A huge plus for the gun is the adjustable rear sight. That tool that locks the action also has a smaller screwdriver attached that adjusts the rear sight for windage and elevation - practically unheard of in a gun this size.

So, how did it shoot?

Surprisingly well, as it turns out. I don't have the eyesight to test at 25 yards anymore - a bit excessive for self-defense practice anyway. So I test at 21-25 feet, and see how the gun performs at this much more "in-your-face" distance.

I printed several different groups off sandbags at 21 and 25 feet, and once I learned the trigger, produced several six-shot groups under 2 inches. The little gun shoots very accurately.

But remembering DeMersseman and his tragic fate, I determined that this time I was going to practice for a real-life confrontation - rapid-fire, almost panic shooting.

The Taurus PT709 Slim has a well-designed thumb safety that is easily disengaged as the shooter rips it from his waistband, ankle holster or wherever he elects to keep it.

Pulling the gun quickly, in what I considered a panic-mode, I ripped off two magazines as fast as I could aim and pull the trigger. I did this several times.

Immensely controllable, I kept all 14 rounds within a 1-foot circle in the chest area of a standard B-27 silhouette -sufficient to ruin the day of any knuckle-dragging beast that might come in and disturb my innocent breakfast.

I don't want to exhort anyone to get into a gunfight. DeMersseman might have avoided this terrible fate had he simply complied, and handed over his wallet. We will probably never know.

But with a little practice, I can assure you the Taurus PT709 Slim would have brought some serious cards to the table, and perhaps would have changed the outcome, or at least exacted some revenge.


Read more guns, shooting, and firearms politics on Hutchinson's blog, www.theshootist.net or at www.gordonhutchinson.com.

Hutchinson is the author (along with Todd Masson) of The Great New Orleans Gun Grab, an expose' of the confiscations of privately owned firearms from citizens in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It can be ordered from the publisher at www.neworleansgungrab.com or by calling 800-538-4355.