We went to the range yesterday and rented a 9mm Taurus 24/7 for an hour.
My wife had NEVER fired a handgun before then. She consistently hit the silhouette target at different ranges, managing to land many head shots and body shots, proving once and for all that the hardest thing about shooting is actually driving to the range (that and coughing up the money).
The Taurus 24/7 we rented had a 17 round capacity, was easy to point and shoot, was accurate enough to make head shots, and more than good enough for standard torso shots where the average shooter will be aiming. The downside to me was a slightly heavier trigger pull than what I would desire for accurate target shooting- that you either over or under-compensate for... but that wouldn't stop you from hitting what you are aimed at and actually makes this a great defensive weapon (more to follow)!
What makes this a good gun for new or non-gun people?
The slide is very easy to pull. If you want to fire your gun you do not want to struggle with the slide.
The "heavier" trigger pull- If you are not a "gun person," and even if you are, this is actually a GOOD thing for defense when your pulse is racing and you are revved up (if not nailing the head of a pin at 30 ft without a scope). It means you have to make a conscious effort to pull the trigger. You do not want a hair trigger that will discharge the weapon the moment you put your finger on it under stressful conditions- something I had to keep reminding my wife not to do until she was ABSOLUTELY ready to shoot.
Let me say that again, do not put your finger on the trigger of any gun until you are absolutely ready to shoot!
The high capacity magazine means more time shooting, less time reloading.
Much of the Taurus line comes with a great and potentially life saving feature that will convert the gun from single action to double action in the event of a "fail to fire" and will clear the chamber by you just pulling the trigger. This means if you are shooting your weapon (for whatever reason) and it stops shooting you can just pull the trigger again and it should discharge the weapon (unless of course you are out of ammo, then pulling the trigger will leave you with only a sad little "click" noise). ;-P
The slit rubber blade grip ensures the gun fits and stays in your hand (well unless you purposefully let go).
At around $400 it is definitely a good buy for a solid gun. You don't have to take my word for it- just look up other reviews or head to the range and rent one!
Remember to keep your weapon pointed down range or a safe direction and unload it when walking to and from the range.
Some people argue for a revolver as a first gun or as a carry weapon, and I won't argue with their logic, but for those who want a semi-auto that is affordable and reliable 24/7, a Taurus 24/7 is a very good choice. I'm looking forward to the release of the 24/7 OSS in the near future.
Again, everyone should read Armed Response by David Kenik.