Monday, February 29, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Saturday, February 27, 2016
The “What If” Game: Action Beats Reaction
So many times, I get a chance to read some very heroic stories of fellow concealed carriers who were faced with having to use their firearm either to save themselves or an innocent person from an attack. Reading these stories always makes me ask myself, “what if?”
I have a friend who is a former FBI agent, SWAT leader and retired Captain from the Marine Corps. He’s also a firearms instructor. He actually gave that question a name, as he, too, is very in tune with situational awareness. He calls it “The What If Game.”
This game is more of an inner dialogue than it is a competition. It’s another mental training exercise to keep you sharp and aware of your surroundings. It’s also a method of getting you to ask yourself a series of questions in certain everyday situations. For example, if you’re in rush hour traffic, and you had to suddenly exit the gridlock, how do you have to position your vehicle within the confines of traffic to ensure that you could make an exit if you had to? Would you be right up on the next guy’s bumper, or would you hang back a few extra feet to allow yourself room to maneuver. As a kid, I did this when I was playing softball…”if it’s hit to me, what am I going to do with it?”
Ladies, how many of you have been driving to work, putting on some lip balm, or lipstick or talking on your phone paying very little attention to what’s happening outside your car? I know that it’s easy to lose focus of our surroundings. It happens. We’re human. But try to start asking yourself “what if” in situations where you’re at stoplights. “What if” I saw a suspicious person approaching my door? Are my doors locked? Am I in a position that I can even make a decision to avoid contact if approached? How could I get away? Carjackings happen frequently, so play the scenario in your head. Ask yourself if you’re prepared to react to the situation or act before it becomes a situation.
Our friend taught us an axiom used by law enforcement nationwide: Action beats reaction. In other words, even if you know an attack is imminent, your reaction will come after the attacker’s action. Make sense? If you’re at a stoplight and a carjacker sticks his gun in the window and tells you to get out. Even if you have your firearm in your hand, whoever makes the first move has the upper hand because the other person is in the position of having to react.
So, how do we prepare for these different contingencies as concealed carriers? It’s easy to say you’ll pull out your gun and shoot, but if you’re in a position where someone catches you off guard and has a gun in your face, the chances of you successfully presenting your firearm have diminished greatly.
Finding training courses is paramount. Through training you can learn ways to significantly decrease your chances of becoming a victim, and more advanced training can also show you some ways that could save your life if you find yourself in a life-threatening encounter. James Yeager of Tactical Response in Tennessee always says, “your responsibility to be ready for the fight never ends.” Well, he’s right. But also preparing to avoid the fight is an even better alternative. Training and planning are both part of being ready for different contingencies so you can take action to avoid reaction. The first step is asking “what if?”
Remember, the best gunfight to win, is the one you didn’t get in. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Before You Draw Your Weapon by Randy Ferris
Before You Draw Your Weapon—Part One
The Case for Leaning to Use Avoidance Strategies, De-escalation Techniques, Empty Handed Close Combat Skills, and Less than Lethal Weapons
Let’s make the assumption that if you have been sent this newsletter you have a concealed carry permit, are exercising your 2nd Amendment rights and have discovered the outstanding value, comfort, and conceal-ability of the Remora Brand Holsters. I congratulate you for taking responsibility for your own personal security. I sincerely hope that you either have or will enroll in the most comprehensive training that is available to you.
Along with carrying a concealed weapon it also important to learn avoidance strategies and de-escalation techniques to stay out of a shooting situation in the first place. It is equally important to learn empty-handed close combat skills and weapons retention techniques. Avoidance strategies, de-escalation techniques, empty handed combat, weapons retention techniques and tactical shooting skills are all a part of a well balanced personal protection training program. Unfortunately, you will be hard pressed to find one training facility that incorporates all of these skill sets. You are going to have to do your research to find instruction for all of them. While engaging in your search here are some things to take into consideration:
Knowing When You Can Present Your Weapon and When it Violates the Law
My first premise for writing this article is that the use of your handgun is not appropriate for all situations in which you may feel threatened. A common condition that must be present in order to present your weapon (which shows that you intend to use deadly force) is that you must be in fear for your life or in fear of great bodily injury (and by great bodily injury I am referring to serious physical damage from which a person may not completely recover). If you wind up using deadly force and there is any question as to the legality of your choice you will probably find yourself in court with a jury of 12 people judging your actions against the Reasonable Person Doctrine. Basically this means that the jury will be contemplating your use of deadly force and saying “is this what a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances?” Therefore it is important to understand when deadly force can be used and have some less than lethal options and avoidance/de-escalation strategies.
In order to consider whether the use of deadly force can legally be employed in response to verbal harassment there must be a threat or a statement of an intention to do harm. If someone is calling you names, making racial slurs, or questioning the morals of your mother, as long as there is no statement of an intention to do you harm there is no threat. Even if there are statements of an intention to do you harm you may not legally be able respond with force unless the instigator not only made the threat but also has the means to imminently carry it out.
On the other hand, threats that are vague, implied, or not realistically possible may not be cause for the use of deadly force. If you are told that “someday you are going to get it” that statement in and of itself alone, does not pose an imminent threat.
Before You Draw Your Weapon—Part Two
Avoidance: The Art of Staying Out of Trouble and Avoiding the Wrong Kind of People
It seems that all my life I have encountered people who have a hard time staying out of trouble. Earlier in my life they were kids in school who always seemed to pick fights and later they were college acquaintances that drank too much (and then committed acts of vandalism, insulted the wrong person, or made a pass at girls whose boyfriends were nearby). As an adult I realized that there were people who thrive on creating drama wherever they go that could occasionally escalate into physical confrontations. All of these people have one thing in common: they are always stirring up the pot. They are experts at creating turmoil where turmoil did not exist, and dragging others down with them. Trust me on this; you will lead a much happier life if these people are not in it. Avoiding them, avoids trouble.
Staying Out of the Wrong Place At All Times
Whenever possible stay out of places where you know trouble likes to visit. If there is a small corner tavern where four generations of your family have gathered every Friday night to celebrate the end of another workweek then it is understandable that you want to continue to participate in this tradition. However, if this corner tavern has become a hangout for undesirable elements resulting in frequent visits from local law enforcement to break up fights, bust drug dealers, and mop up after assaults and periodic homicides, then it is time to move your family tradition to another location. Avoiding these places avoids trouble.
This is probably best illustrated by a fellow student in the tactical shooting class who told us that, on the prior week, he decided to take a short cut home through a higher crime area. While sitting at an intersection waiting for the green light a man in a hooded sweatshirt came bursting out of a convenience store on the corner and ran past the front of the student’s car. A second later another man burst out of the convenience store’s door; he was presumably employed there, and was brandishing a handgun. This man fired at the man running who spun around and returned fire. In the flash of a second the student’s mind began calculating possible scenarios and his probably options. Fortunately the shootout was over quickly, the light turned green and the student drove off while fumbling with his cell phone to call 911. From this point on the student took the freeway. Although it was not as direct of a route there were no late-night convenience stores that were prone to robbery along the highway.
Getting out of the Wrong Place at the Right Time
Although we don’t necessarily want to go to the wrong place sometimes we find ourselves there. Your child comes down with an ear infection and high fever at 1 AM and you have to go to the emergency room; an hour later you find yourself at the all night pharmacy getting the prescription for an antibiotic filled. The pharmacy may be in a high crime area but you can still utilize skills to help keep you out of harm’s way.
One of the best works on personal survival is a book titled “The Gift of Fear, Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence”. It was written by Gavin De Becker in 1997 and was published by Little, Brown, and Company. It is available in paperback and should be stocked in most bookstores if not, Amazon.com carries it. Gavin De Becker’s company, Gavin De Becker & Associates, offers fantastic training. Aside from the book they have a number of DVDs and other training material along with live training seminars. Their training seminars are normally not open to the public but if you work in a profession that has “a need to know” such as law enforcement, security, executive protection, social work, counseling, etc. they are happy to share their knowledge with you.
De Becker states that everyone is born with a very powerful survival tool called intuition. Frequently men refer to it as a “gut reaction or gut feeling”. Intuition quite simply is “knowing something without knowing why” and in the context of what we are talking about it is “knowing that something is wrong without immediately knowing why”. Unfortunately all of your life you have been socialized not to pay attention to your intuition. You have been told by your parents and taught all throughout your schooling not to “judge a book by its cover” and to deal in facts, not emotion. Unfortunately many people wrongfully conclude that intuition and emotion are the same, but they are clearly not the same thing. Intuition is your subconscious mind recognizing danger signs and communicating that to you before your conscious mind evaluates the situation and provides you with the hard data.
Let’s go back to the scenario mentioned above; it’s 2 AM and you find yourself at an all night pharmacy getting a prescription filled for your child. As soon as you open the door to the pharmacy you see someone talking with the Pharmacist and you feel uncomfortable, nervous, your stomach begins producing too much acid (hence the origins of the “gut feeling”) and you are a little confused because you feel that something is not right but you are not immediately able to detect the cause of that feeling. Your subconscious, in a split second evaluated the facial reaction of both the pharmacist and the customer when you opened the door, it evaluated their body language, what the customer was carrying, whether or not the customer’s appearance was appropriate for the surroundings, and the whether his clothing was compatible with the weather conditions and many other factors that you cannot immediately recognize.
Your intuition is telling you to leave; will you listen to your intuition or suppress it?
Gavin De Becker’s book has a lot of excellent material in it. Please purchase a copy or borrow it from your library. Chapter four, “Survival Signals”, details seven methods by which an attacker may try to ingratiate himself with his intended victim so that the victim will let their guard down and ignore their intuition. This chapter also lists 13 messengers of intuition to help you understand the form in which your intuitive survival signals may come to you. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Before You Draw Your Weapon—Part Three
De-Escalation Techniques and the Art of Retreating
De-escalation techniques can be effective if used early in a confrontation when it is still in the talking stages, well before it turns physical. Even if the person you are dealing with is not completely rational trying these techniques will at least show that you attempted peaceful alternatives before force became necessary. If physically attacked, respond accordingly, but if the encounter begins with words, see if you can give these techniques a try.
To de-escalate a confrontation I follow what I have termed the A.C.C.O.R.D. process, which stands for:
Acknowledge that they are upset.
Show some compassion for their perspective (even though it may not be justified or rational).
Try to find some common groundbetween you.
Or, if the above techniques are not working
Redirect and Deflect their anger toward something else.
Let’s look at an example involving “parking lot” rage. Let’s say that you’re at a crowded shopping mall and as you pull into a aisle a car pulls out and you park in the recently vacated space. As you exit your car you see that another vehicle has pulled up behind your car. The red-faced driver jumps out of his car and aggressively approaches you spewing all sorts of salty language. You calmly acknowledge that he certainly seems upset and ask him why. In between his expletives and spitting you ascertain that he had just passed this space as the previous driver was getting into his car. Your new agitated acquaintance drove around the aisle to get back to this space just as you were pulling in. You show some compassion by stating that you understand why he is upset. Looking for CommonGround you ask how long he had been circling the lot looking for a space. He tells you 15 minutes. You could apologize stating that you did not know he had “seen the parking space first” and you offer to move. Hopefully by now you have de-escalated his rage and he declines your offer to move. Even if he doesn’t wouldn’t it be worth moving your car to keep from becoming entangled in a physical altercation?
If these techniques don’t work then I would try to redirect his anger and deflect it onto some other issue. Try to get the person to agree that the reason this happened was due to some factor other than you. For instance, I might try to get him to agree that the reason for the shortage of spaces is because of all the empty handicapped spots available in the lot and tell him that after you move your car you are going to march right into the mall’s office and give them a piece of your mind (and I would march right to the mall office but only to tell them what happened and give them a description of the man so that their security staff can be on the lookout in case he is intent on causing other problems while in the mall).
One of the keys to controlling and de-escalating these types of verbal encounters is how you react to and treat the other person. Treating them with dignity and respect won’t hurt and may help diffuse the situation; treating them with sarcasm and anger will probably only escalate the situation. Please note: treating someone with dignity and respect should be done with focus and control so that the other party does not perceive it as fear. Try to conduct yourself with a gracious but command presence. In his book Gavin De Becker explains that “fear is the currency” of the person making the threat. This is a simple but very important observation. The more fear you show when threatened the more threats and verbal harassment you have just purchased from the instigator. If the person can see that their harassment or threats have had an impact on you, you are bound to get more of them. I like to follow a process (are you ready for another acronym?) I refer to as “C.E.R.T.” which stands for Calm Control, Eye Contact, Relaxed, and Tactful. C.E.R.T. is all about “maintaining” yourself; maintaining your calm control over both your temper and the situation, maintaining eye contact with the person (this shows that you are in control and not afraid), maintaining a relaxed appearance (showing a tense appearance will only create more tension in the situation), and maintain tact in your responses.
A long time ago a Cook County, Illinois Corrections Officer that I was working with taught me a great technique that was my basis for C.E.R.T. This officer, who was charged with controlling the worst of the worst in the City of Chicago and County of Cook faced threats and verbal harassment from gang bangers, degenerates, and the criminally unstable on a daily basis. He told me to pick a spot on the instigator’s forehead and stare at it while they are spewing their verbal garbage. This will give them the appearance that you are looking them in the eye without having to see (and possibly react to) their facial expressions. Then, make yourself yawn. Nothing shows a complete lack of fear any more than a yawn. The icy stare and the yawn have helped me suck the wind out of many a blowhard.
One sometimes overlooked avoidance strategy is to retreat. In a stressful situation some people get confused and do not recognize that they have an opening to retreat while others get their adrenaline flowing and disregard the option altogether. Some jurisdictions legally mandate that you retreat if that opportunity is available. Other jurisdictions believe in the “your house is your castle” doctrine and do not require you to retreat if you are in your home. A few states have passed legislation that do not mandate retreat under most conditions. While you need to understand the legal limitations on the use of deadly force in your place of residence my perspective is that discretion is the better part of valor and if retreat is available and does not put anyone else in danger then take it. Why run the risk of a physical or shooting encounter if it is not necessary?
Before You Draw Your Weapon—Part Four
Less than lethal options
All threats are not equally serious. There are times when you may need to defend yourself but the use or even presentation of a firearm may be considered excessive force. In these instances empty handed combat skills and less than lethal weapons may be more appropriate. Just a few days ago someone asked me for advice on less than lethal weapons for a relative that had no interest in firearms. First of all it is important to understand what is classified as less than lethal. Some people think that it is anything outside of a firearm and this is incorrect. Lethal weapons could include any implement that could cause death or great bodily injury such as expandable batons, knives, and blackjacks and may also pertain to tools designed for other purposes but used as a weapon such as hammers, nail guns, letter openers, and box cutters (remember on 9-11-2001 we incurred a major terrorist attack that was primarily perpetrated at the beginning of the attack by the use of box cutters).
I have not really had any experience with most less-than-lethal weapons but I have an opinion that I am more than happy to share. So let me run down the most common less than lethal weapons and my feelings toward them:
1. Mace or Pepper Spray. I am not a big fan of sprays for a couple of reasons:
a. I am aware of them being used in retail establishments causing the establishment to have to close while the fire department’s hazmat unit comes in and blows out the building with their fans.
b. I am aware of them being used in a high school where many students not involved in the altercation, especially those with asthma, had to be treated at a local hospital.
c. I have seen episodes of “Cops” (here’s where my lack of experience really shines) where the perpetrator was inebriated and the Mace/Pepper spray had little effect.
d. In other episodes of cops it was sprayed on a perpetrator outside and several of the officers had to be treated because the wind blew the spray into their faces.
That being said, there are important differences between Mace and Pepper Spray. Chemical sprays like mace take 5 to 30 seconds to become effective; they cause pain & irritation to the mucus membranes, but rely on pain compliance to be effective. So drunks, people on drugs, people on an adrenaline high, or those with extremely high pain tolerances might not be affected by mace/chemical spray. Pepper spray (as the name indicates) is made from peppers and not only causes a burning sensation, but also creates inflammation of the airways. When a person is sprayed with Pepper Spray two things happen; his eyes involuntarily slam shut (and if he is able to open them he can't see because the ingredient, Oleoresin Capsicum, dilates the capillaries of the eye causing temporary blindness) and an immediate fit of uncontrollable coughing doubles the person over and often sends them to their knees.
As mentioned above my fear is that sprays can cause too much collateral damage indoors and outdoors it might be blown right back into your face.
2. Stun Guns. I am not a big fan of these because they are a close quarter weapon. You have to push the electrodes on the device against the attacker. If the stun gun is not fully charged or the attacker is wearing heavy, thick clothing it might not have the intended effect. If this is the case you are up close and personal and in position to be pummeled by the attacker.
3. Tasers. In my opinion Tasers are a step up from sprays and stun guns. They allow you to use them at some distance and are usually (but not always) effective. The two negative aspects of the Tasers are their size (again they are another belt holstered weapon) and price. Good ones run from $400 to $1,000.00.
Another thing to bear in mind with Sprays, Stun Guns, and Tasers is that they are not convenient weapons with which to practice. Bear in mind that in a stressful situation muscle memory wins the day. During an attack is no time to learn to use a new weapon system. Even though they are simple devices to use fine motor skills disappear under extreme stress. Remember the tactical student mentioned above who witnessed a shoot out just in front of his vehicle? I wrote that as he drove away he fumbled trying to dial 911. Under normal circumstances he can drive, dial, and talk on the phone very easily. Add gunfire to the equation and this normally simple process becomes anything but simple.
4. High Intensity Flashlights. Now these I like. In the 1970’s every cop carried a large aircraft aluminum Mag Light, many times in place of their traditional hickory nightstick. They were big, heavy and wouldn’t break. They also provided a good amount of light. Fast-forward to today and every cop carries a small high intensity flashlight. They are lightweight and take up little space on the officer’s belt. They are still made pretty darn indestructible but they have a huge advantage over the large Mag Light; they produce high intensity, blinding white light. The most prolific manufacturer of these items is Surfire and years ago when they first introduced their lower priced polymer G3 with an output of 80 lumens I picked one up. One night a storm knocked out the power and my Surefire G3 was in easy reach so I picked it up. I was making my way down the hallway and, without thinking opened the bedroom door. The 80 lumens of light hit the bedroom mirror and shown back in my face. I was immediately blinded and somewhat disoriented. For a few seconds I wondered if my eyesight would return. I learned from that how powerful these little lights are. I have learned to respect their power and keep one with me. I may not be able to take my handgun with me to New York City or Los Angeles but flashlights are still allowed. These are sold at most gun shops and sporting goods stores and many great bargains can be found on Ebay or Amazon.com.
Before You Draw Your Weapon—Part Five
Reasons for Leaning Empty Handed Close Combat Skills
1. You May Not Be Able to Get to Your Weapon
The attack may begin at close quarters. Ever heard of the Tueller Drill? Salt Lake City Police Sergeant Dennis Tuller was working as a training instructor when a police recruit asked him how close he should let a charging assailant come before using force. Tueller assumed it would be about four paces but decided to find out. Knowing that it took the average officer 1.5 seconds to draw and fire from a duty holster Tueller decided to find out how much ground someone could cover in that amount of time. He was surprised to find that the answer was 21 feet. That’s a pretty fair amount of real estate. If someone within 21 feet is charging with a knife, a club, or even their fists, they will be on you before you can draw and fire especially if you are carrying your weapon in deeper concealment than a uniformed police officer. Do you have the close quarter fighting skills to ward off this attack until you can get to your pistol?
Also pulling your handgun at close quarters may not be a good idea unless you have some training to learn how to protect the draw. As one gun writer (whose name I have long forgotten) once said “when you and your assailant are at arm’s length away from each other your pistol belongs to both of you”. If someone has the will to do it, it is not difficult to disarm someone holding a handgun. If you grab the slide of a pistol and push it slightly to the rear it will not fire. If you grab the cylinder of a revolver and hold tightly the trigger cannot be pulled unless the hammer is already cocked. Once someone has a hold on the handgun it is a simple process of wrenching the pistol against the joint of the trigger finger and wrist, usually breaking the finger as the pistol comes free. Prison inmates have been noted practicing this in their exercise facilities. Do you know how to protect, retain, and properly present your weapon when you are up close and personal with an assailant?
2. Creating Space
Do you know how to create the space needed to draw and fire under close quarter combat distances by throwing a powerful kick with the weak side foot or by shoving your weak side palm into the sternum while digging your middle finger into the trachea and violently pushing the assailant backwards? If so, do you practice these techniques regularly enough to develop the muscle memory needed to make them happen automatically? Do you regularly practice handgun retention techniques?
3. The Need for Competent Instruction
Everything mentioned above is a part of the curriculum of Krav Maga.
While I stumbled into Krav Maga it turned out to be an excellent choice of empty handed combat training for the shooter who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Krav Maga is the hand-to-hand system taught to the Israeli Defense Forces; the words Krav Maga are Hebrew meaning “contact combat”. The reason that Krav Maga is an excellent choice for me is because it is a modern fighting system that incorporates modern weapons and firearms into its scope of training.
Krav Maga is based upon instinctive movements to respond to attacks. The movements are designed to keep it simple as fine motor skills deteriorate under stress.
I realize that recommending a martial art is as controversial as recommending a particular firearm. Somebody is always going to take issue with your suggestion. Let me say this: what you carry and what fighting style you study are not nearly as important as what YOUare prepared to do with them. You can own the finest and most accurate handgun in the world but if you can’t bring yourself to pull the trigger when being attacked it has done you no good. Similarly you can be an expert in any martial art, but if you are not mentally prepared to fight back and stay focused while responding with aggressive finality, then your training has done you no good. Like most things in life your successful deployment of your survival skills is a 70% mental and 30% physical proposition. I would recommend that you look for martial art and instructor that focuses more on defensive combat and less on tournaments.
In conclusion (and not a minute too soon)
The series has presented subjects that I cannot completely cover within the confines of a newsletter, nor do I profess to know “everything” that should be discussed. My intention has been to provide you some food for thought. Hopefully this discussion will inspire you to do your own research to provide more options and expertise to your personal self-defense portfolio. If it has done that then I will feel very satisfied. I hope you are never attacked. If you are I hope you make it home safely.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
$100 - Utah, Florida & Arizona CCW License Class - for Illinois residents
Letter to millennials: I’m a young woman and here’s why I carry a gun
Dear fellow millennials,
I’m a young, single woman living in a high crime urban area. I’m 5 ft. tall and 110 lbs.
Like most millennials, I’m constantly on the go between business meetings, Pilates, dinner with friends, and the mall. I’m in and out of parking lots throughout the day, usually wearing leggings and most definitely answering emails or texting on my phone. In other words, I’m a perfect target for criminals.
So, how do I protect myself? I carry a gun.
My highest priority is being able to defend myself. That requires being a responsible gun owner, obtaining my concealed carry permit, educating myself about gun safety, and making time to practice shooting at the range. Beyond going to the range, I’m taking self-defense classes designed for women with NRA certified instructors.
To make sure I’m always carrying, I purchased a stylish brown leather concealed carry handbag, large enough for my MacBook Pro and perfectly designed for young professionals. It comes with a built in holster located in a discrete outside pocket for quick and easy access to your gun in the case of emergency.
You probably wouldn’t think someone who fits my profile would be a gun owner. Unfortunately, the media has done a brilliant job in portraying all gun owners to be angry men or hunters. Well, surprise, surprise!
Young women can be gun owners — we do exist! I don’t live in the boondocks or own a gun for hunting. That’s not to judge those who do, but I was a vegetarian for over 10 years and hunting is just not my thing.
I carry for personal protection. My gun is my tool for self-defense.
In fact, about half (48%) of gun owners said the main reason they owned a gun was for protection.
80 percent of rape victims are under the age of 30, and women 18-24 years old enrolled in college are three times more likely than women in general to suffer from sexual violence. Yet, there is a substantial gender gap when it comes to gun ownership. Men are three times more likely than women to personally own a gun.
Girls, if you think it can’t happen to you, think again. Any of us can be a victim of assault. My mom was attacked midday in a grocery store parking lot, located in an upscale neighborhood just a few miles from home. Other than bruises on her arms and neck, and a stolen purse, she did not suffer any serious injuries. She was lucky. But, why test our luck? The incident woke us up. We got educated, and we got armed.
If you’re like me, you may not be able to fight back against a violent assailant, but you can level the playing field by having a gun. The real war on women is disarming us or assuming that girls can’t possibly handle guns.
I got involved in politics to serve as voice for millennials. Not enough young women have a seat at the table when it comes to many issues, and if we don’t stand up and protect our rights, who will?
President Obama’s executive actions did not create new laws targeting the illegal flow of guns, or felons possessing and trafficking guns. Instead, the measures targeted law-abiding citizens by infringing and restricting their access to firearms.
The Obama administration plans to gain support for these executive actions by targeting the millennial generation to support gun restrictions. The administration is looking to take advantage of our energy and social media know-how to advance their agenda through our networks. Well, after seven long years of failed leadership, millennials should know better.
Young women in particular should not support restrictions that can make it more difficult for us to purchase a gun, because such restrictions can leave us more vulnerable to rape, domestic violence, theft, and burglaries. It’s common sense that criminals are more likely to target unarmed victims.
Millennials will play a pivotal role in electing the next president of the United States. We’re 95 million strong and make up 30.5 percent of eligible voters. This could be our #MillennialMoment.
The question is, can we use our new power to influence policy?
It’s critical we know the truth about gun control, so we can vote accordingly in 2016. Our generation values transparency and with facts, we can make up our own minds.
So, here are a few things that Obama did not tell us during the press conference or the town hall last week:
1. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been calling on the federal government for increased federal funding for mental health.
2. States underreport criminal records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). With hundreds of thousands of missing criminal records, stopping the sale of firearms to felons is nearly impossible.
3. If you seek help for anxiety and are treated for depression during college, or if you are prescribed medication, your records could be made public to the federal government, and they could restrict your Second Amendment right.
4. A “gun-free zone” sign will notstop a mentally ill gunman or ideological terrorist. In that situation only an armed policeman or civilian can thwart a tragedy from occurring. Remember, the San Bernandino shooting took place in a federal building and was an act of terror. Numerous school shootings have taken place in gun-free zones. It goes on and on…
Taya Kyle, the wife of American sniper Chris Kyle told the president during the Guns in America town hall that his laws give people “false hope.” She insisted that gun control does not make us safer.
Here’s what we know for certain:
1. Obama’s measures wouldn’t have prevented the recent high profile mass shootings that he used as examples to justify his executive actions, because all of the murderers in the recent shootings either passed a background check or obtained their guns illegally.
2. The truth is that more guns = less crime. The U.S has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world and yet, the rate of gun crime has been on the decline. According to the FBI report on crime, in 2014 there were 8,124 gun-related homicides. That’s a rate of 2.56 gun-related murders per every 100,000.
3. There are measures we can and should take to control gun-related crimes while protecting our Second Amendment rights, including doing a better job educating people about gun safety and at diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.
4. Mental health is a growing crisis for the millennial generation. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 5 million college students struggle with their mental health. That means that more than 25 percent of college students have a diagnosable mental illness and have been treated in the past year. The pressure to get good grades or excel in sports, get a job to pay off our debts, improve our appearances, experiment with drugs, have sex, etc…for all of these reasons and more, students are now, more than ever, on medication or undergoing treatment for mental health problems during college. Under President Obama’s new executive actions, all of these people are ineligible to purchase a firearm.
It’s not surprising that Obama is targeting our generation for support. We’ve been the driving force behind many cultural changes. However, a recent Pew Research Center report found that millennials favor protecting gun rights over gun control, and that today’s young adults support gun rights at historically high rates. This is important because previously, adults under 30 were the least likely of any age group to favor gun rights.
Hillary Clinton says she is fighting for us… But, doesn’t being “pro-women” mean empowering us so we can fight for ourselves?
I’m optimistic that there’s an opportunity for young women to lead the effort to take back the gun narrative and to share the truth about our rights with a brand new generation.
That’s why I believe this is our fight to win.
A young female gun owner
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
12 Steps For Concealed Carry Success
by Ben Findley*
Now some 240 years later, being faced with menacing terrorist activities here at home and abroad, we can certainly identify with his words. We are even more aware now of the necessity for being prepared just in case to defend our way of life and our very lives.
There are things we can do now to be prepared for our own personal protection when we carry concealed.
What follows are my 12 key guidelines and prerequisites to help you to achieve concealed carry success.
Concealed Carry Success Step 1: Accept Responsibility and Have Proper Mindset.
As armed and legally-licensed concealed carriers, we have the ability to instantly defend ourselves and others in deadly force encounters and this has far-reaching affects. With this ability, comes tremendous responsibility to use our handguns appropriately for lawful self-defense, to employ correct fundamentals of shooting, and to follow the handgun safety rules.
Carrying a handgun means you have great responsibility both before and after a self-defense shooting. You must have a disciplined and proper concealed carry (CC) mindset.
If possible to do so safely, you should retreat and avoid an encounter. This does not mean you are weak, afraid, or do not have the skills for defensive action. When engaging someone in a confrontation with a handgun, it can get out of hand quickly.
So, if appropriate for your situation, emphasize overall safety and go out of your way to avoid conflict and confrontations. Any time you introduce a handgun into any situation, you escalate it and blow it out of proportion… just because there is a gun involved.
Also, after the use of a gun, in most states you must show that you used deadly force appropriately and justify your actions. This can be difficult to do, depending on the variables in the situation. Are you innocent until proven guilty or do you have the burden of proof to justify your use of deadly force?
One must be disciplined with a controlled and mellow, easy-going attitude and accept responsibility for all of one’s actions. There can be many complexities, time, and costs involved with your use of deadly force, even in a righteous shoot. I believe John Farnham was the first to say “The best way to ‘win’ a gunfight is to avoid it all together.”
Recognize that a gun is only a tool and the mind is the true weapon.
Concealed Carry Success Step 2: Be Prepared with Comprehensive and Thorough Handgun Training
It is important that your training and skills in shooting your handgun be current and include the latest techniques, basics, and strategies. The training should include not just the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and breath control, but also key topics like reloading techniques, shooting while moving, drawing, multiple targets, one-handed shooting, and support-hand shooting, etc. Continued education and training in and beyond the basic fundamentals are important. If the training you receive and the drills and repetitions you do in your practice are incorrect and outdated, you will not be properly prepared and will train poor technique or incorrect fundamentals into your muscle memory.
If you take a short handgun course or try to get by with just an overview of topics with minimal training, you are cheating yourself and it may jeopardize your life. Do not settle for training that does not include hands-on, live-fire training. If possible, get training from a certified, currently-trained and experienced professional, rather than Rifleman Bill or Uncle Jim who was in the military 20 years ago. There are differences between long gun rifle and shotgun training and handgun pistols and revolvers. Do not believe you are prepared just because ten years ago or so you received a solid basics course.
Techniques and methods improve and change, so you can learn something by attending a new refresher course.
Concealed Carry Success Step 3: Understand Handgun and Deadly Force Laws in Your State and Jurisdiction
You should know the current handgun laws and requirements for your state and jurisdiction, so learn them from a legal professional in your area. This includes such laws as your Castle Doctrine, Stand Your Ground Law, use of deadly force, self-defense, brandishing, improper exhibition, warning shots, CC reciprocity, off-limits carry, home protection, etc. Learn when you can shoot and when you cannot shoot, according to your state’s laws and your jurisdiction. You also need to know if you are required to show your CC license/permit when stopped routinely by a police officer, what are the disparate force factors, and how to communicate with the police if there is a shooting, and what to do after a shooting, etc.
Concealed Carry Success Step 4: Carry Regularly
You should carry ALL the time, if legally licensed to do so. There are several excuses often given for not carrying, so put them aside and always carry.
Do not use the potential for legal problems as an excuse to not carry.
Some justify to themselves for not carrying by saying that the threat level is not that high. They carry only when they feel very endangered. Reality today is that any place and any situation has the potential to escalate and be dangerous, including even [or especially] gun-free zones like schools, malls, churches, etc.
Some justify to themselves not carrying because it is uncomfortable. The holster is rubbing, the gun does not fit right in the holster, it won’t conceal properly under my shirt or with shorts, etc. So fix it.
If the gun is too heavy, too long, too wide, has too much recoil, does not fit right, or if your holster, belt or carry method is not optimal, then change them. Any gun with you is better than the gun left in the safe at home. Find the best gun, holster, belt, carry rig combination that works best for you and carry it always. Become comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber and the safety engaged. B disciplined with the proper training to not put your finger on the trigger until you have your eyes and sights on the target and you are ready to shoot.
You will never know when that fateful encounter might occur. Be prepared just in case.
Concealed Carry Success Step 5: Do Not Constantly Check Your Carry Gun
Most people do not even notice that you are carrying, so do not be so self-conscious and feel that everyone is staring at your gun. Usually only those that carry themselves or law enforcement personnel will really notice. You draw attention to yourself and look suspicious when you constantly tug and adjust your shirt. There is no need to constantly check, adjust, and think about how your gun is riding, if your shirt is properly covering it, if your pants are too tight to reveal the gun’s outline, etc. You do not have to repeatedly touch your gun through your shirt to see if it is properly positioned.
So, break that habit because you can actually draw more attention to yourself and your gun.
Concealed Carry Success Step 6: Practice with Your Carry Gun and Self-Defense Ammo
Certainly, it is important to train with the gun and ammo you carry. Recognize that the techniques and fundamentals you routinely perform in training when you practice become engrained in your muscle memory and become automatic responses in stressful encounters. Of course, they do influence your performance in actual self-defense and deadly force encounters.
Get very familiar and comfortable with your gun, holster, ammo, mag pouch, and other accessories, so you can naturally use and handle them easily and effectively in emergency encounters. They should be second nature to you. For example, most carry hollow point rounds, but mostly train with least expensive full metal jacket ammo.
However, you should also train regularly with your hollow point rounds to get familiar with how your gun cycles and handles it. Do not let the higher cost of the self-defense hollow point ammo deter you from practicing with it. What price do you place on your life?
The gun you carry is probably going to be a compromise and blend of various features. Guns with longer barrels, heavier weight, and bigger dimensions and calibers which are generally considered to be more capable may also be more difficult to conceal and may require more practice for optimal accuracy.
However, you also need to understand that concealment is usually more a matter of holster design and cover garments than gun size. It is your responsibility to weigh the several personal considerations and decide and select the “best” gun and ammo for yourself.
I believe it is crucial to shoot your gun before you buy it and use it to defend your life.
Concealed Carry Success Step 7: Select a Proper Holster
A custom made, quality holster from a reputable manufacturer is designed specifically for your carry gun, if you carry with a holster. Sure, you can keep your gun in a nylon holster when it’s in the range bag, but use a quality, custom-fit holster for your carry gun. This also applies to carry by fanny pack, day planner, etc.
A holster or carry device made for your gun model will usually allow you to draw and secure your gun better, as well as help to make it more concealable and accessible. It will fit your gun better. A customized holster for your specific gun model will completely cover and protect the trigger from contact with outside objects, including your trigger finger. A properly-designed holster made specifically for your gun will retain the gun until you intentionally draw it.
Inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters are usually more concealable, but may be less comfortable. They may also require a bigger trouser and belt size to compensate for the added bulk. An outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster is usually more comfortable, but also usually more difficult to conceal.
You can make your carry gun concealable, but sometimes at the cost of a much slower access and draw. Or you can have a faster access and draw, but with less concealability, giving up a major tactical advantage.
This is your personal decision.
Concealed Carry Success Step 8: Select a Proper Gun Belt
A quality gun belt is extremely important to support your handgun… some believe even more so than a holster. In any event for most folks, a gun belt is a must-have accessory for your handgun rig. You need the support for your gun and accessibility that you can count on. A rigid, high-quality, full-grain, bull-hide leather gun belt will help minimize movement of your gun, be strong and resilient for long-lasting durability, help distribute weight, and add to comfort. A leather belt that has been reinforced with an inner layer of Kydex will be rigid and help it from deforming, rolling up and sagging. Price is usually an indicator of quality, so spend the money to get a good gun belt, rather than the low-priced discount store flimsy belt.
Concealed Carry Success Step 9: Select Proper Carry Clothing
In some areas, you may carry the same way all year long, while in other locations, you may wear shorts and T-shirts in the summer and heavy coats and gloves in the winter. The climate, your job, lifestyle, daily activities and where you live have a significant affect on your Concealed Carry Clothing. These differences can be frustrating and challenging, but you must adapt. A plain white dress shirt, for example, is usually plenty of concealment if you’ve got an IWB holster. A loose, untucked casual shirt, like a guayabera, Hawaiian or camp shirt can easily hide the grip of a handgun from the casual observer. A sweatshirt or hoodie adds bulk around the waist that probably can hide most large handguns. It just depends on your gun, its size and dimensions, and your body build.
I find as a horizontally-challenged geezer in warm Florida weather that wearing loose and baggy clothing and oversized, untucked casual shirts make CC easier, but not so stylish. I live with it.
On occasion, I switch from OWB carry to IWB carry and it seems to conceal some of my smaller guns better. Another option is to consider carrying one of the smaller firearms, be it one of the new .380s or 9mms. There are many lightweight, ergonomically-rounded, reduced-snag polymer-framed pistols and revolvers made especially for carry. Whether you change your method of carry for one day or the entire season, remember the importance of being familiar with your carry method. Some CC methods require you to access and get past clothing used as cover, which makes drawing more difficult and time consuming.
Practice is key for you to be able to deal with your clothing as cover, draw properly, etc.
Concealed Carry Success Step 10: Focus on Situational Awareness
Situational awareness (SA) is of critical importance for everyone at all times. We should be cautious, practice observation, scan and assess our particular environment, and know the variables at play in each situation we encounter, even though it is difficult to do so sometimes.
SA is simply knowing what’s going on around you and knowing your surroundings. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice and keen observation skills and focus. This is challenging in a stressful encounter or even in a non-threatening environment. We tend to “behave in a way that makes sense to ourselves” and unwittingly neglect certain things. Our reality is based on our limited set of experiences and relative knowledge. It makes “sense” to us because of particular unique experiences, controllable and uncontrollable factors — some of which we may not be aware. Maybe it is because we “don’t know what we don’t know.”
Research shows that when we get nervous or stressed, our attention and focus narrows, causing us to concentrate on just a few things at a time. A narrow focus can therefore cause us to miss important threats and details in our environment. SA is an important skill to learn which takes focus and concentration with a big-picture perspective.
In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.
Concealed Carry Success Step 11: Know Your Handgun and Maintain It Properly
You should develop skills with your particular carry gun so you can respond without thinking about where your external safety, magazine release, slide-lock lever and controls are located on your gun. Some say it takes about 3,000 to 5,000 repetitions of the same action or behavior to develop and instill an automatic muscle-memory response, as a subconscious reaction to an external stimuli. So you have to practice clearing that malfunction, for example, over and over again with the gun you carry.
If a specific shooting skill or technique is performed incorrectly and continually repeated, then unfortunately the muscle memories created for how you complete the task will also be flawed. So, you will not perform it correctly when you must perform it (automatically) in a deadly-force encounter.
When beginning to learn a new shooting skill or technique, it is best to go slow and pay close attention to what and how you are performing it. This ensures the actions being repeated later are correct as opposed to incorrect.
Know how to operate and use your handgun without taking time to think about it. Develop the muscle memory. Sadly, some law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty because of their lack of familiarity with their handguns and incorrect training procedures or lack of practice. Take time to regularly practice with your CC gun and use your self-defense ammo to practice with occasionally.
It is necessary to regularly maintain and clean your CC gun. Every time I shoot my gun, even if only 50 rounds, I clean it. Some say that is not necessary, but I want to have the peace of mind and security knowing that my gun’s reliability probability will be increased because of the ten minutes I took to clean it. I do not want to take even a 1% chance of death because I didn’t devote just a few minutes to clean and maintain my gun.
I believe you should inspect, function check, clean and maintain your concealed carry gun at least monthly.
Concealed Carry Success Step 12: Practice, Practice, Practice
Without a doubt, training in the fundamentals of shooting your carry gun and the key safety rules are mandatory for effectiveness. Start your CC training by analyzing your present skills and where you need improvement. Maybe you need to focus on trigger control and speed. Or maybe shooting one-handed or while moving. It is imperative to build positive and useful training and practice habits early.
Shooters should review their training process and topics on an annual basis and constantly, then design your practice plan with specific drills to help improve certain identified skills or areas needing improvement.
There is always something to learn or improve upon. Shooting fundamentals and skills are perishable, and they deteriorate if not practiced. You must practice on a regular basis. Every year I try to complete at least one course for improvement. Recognize that while practice is critical, so is how you practice. Do not just shoot holes in paper, but have a planned course of fire and specific drills to focus on key fundamentals and areas where you need improvement. Snap caps and dry firing can be helpful. Snap Caps ( http://goo.gl/PM040U ) have a spring-damped false primer or one of plastic that cushions and protects the firing pin for many repeated strikes and protects your gun’s components. Dry firing is practicing at home with snap caps and an unloaded gun. Understand that while dry-fire practice drills with snap caps are useful, there is no substitute for live fire practice. Try to plan a monthly range shooting practice session, but go at least every 7 to 8 weeks as a minimum.
You can practice dry firing as a supplement in your home once a week. Be prepared and practice. It just might save your life.
Continued Success and Be Safe!
About the Author Col. Ben Findley *
Col. Ben Findley is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as “Expert” in small arms. Ben is an experienced NRA-certified pistol instructor, NRA range safety officer and Florida concealed carry license instructor. Ben recently wrote the book “Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection” with 57 comprehensive chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
Lead Photo: Alien Gear
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you establish your own criteria based on your personal needs, goals, purpose, and priorities. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2015 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.