Events like the Sept. 11 atrocity motivate a certain kind of first-time gun buyer. This type of buyer is not the prospective hunter who has been thinking about hunting, reading about what guns are available, and developing a good idea of what he wants. Instead, this is someone thinking in a bigger picture and making a decision more suddenly. This is a customer who needs more of your time in helping him determine what to buy.
Do a quick assessment of the purchaser's motivation and span of attention along with price range and intent. Sure, when cost is no object a $1000 semi-auto shotgun setup to do a SEAL-team member proud might seem a logical choice. But is the buyer committed sufficiently to learn and retain its manual of arms?
Yes that $1,500 premium 1911 with the tactical light is within this buyer's budget. But is he ready to work a cocked-and-locked pistol with a short, easy trigger? Is he cool enough that he won't accidentally honk the trigger in panic when he is searching his house for something that went bump in the night, and is startled by what he sees in the beam of the flashlight? If this happens, he might shoot whatever is in the light -- and it might not be a "shoot target."
In handguns, the double-action revolver has traditionally been the recommendation of those who believe in the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. The double-action-only revolver is, even simpler, and more forgiving of stupidity. The double-barrel shotgun, preferably the hammerless kind...