So the author has started thinking. That's good.
But until she answers the very personal and powerful question of "Will I kill another human being?" she is just as vulnerable with the handgun there next to her bed (even moreso because it's unloaded) than she was before she brought it home - and maybe even more vulnerable because she thinks it is some magic talisman.
Firearms can only protect us if we are willing to use them - unhesitatingly willing.
It is a difficult decision to make and the consequences of the choice - to kill or not to kill - may someday define one's entire future. This is something that I often think is purposely left out of the discussion of whether or not to own/carry a firearm for personal defense. It's scary to think that way. It's unsettling - to say the least. It makes one confront every belief and value they hold and decide if they are true expressions of the person we are saying we want to be when we say we want to defend ourself against aggression that could cause us death or serious bodily injury. If we have not already made the decision it may be too late to do so in the parking deck or on the street or in the convenience store when life hangs on the split-second it takes to pull or not pull the trigger.
My very biased opinion is that it is not the public answer we give that is the expression of that decision, but the one we arrive at in the small dark hours of the night when we think something is happening that may cause us to carry out the decision.