Intro courses: An AWESOME responsibility

February was our opening month for the 2019 training season and we couldn’t be more happy with our start. Our Essential Handgun class is our “first time shooter” and even a “not yet a shooter” course and is designed to make newcomers to this activity feel safe and comfortable as they transition from fear/anxiety over something new, to respect for something well understood. When we designed this course, we didn’t look at the basics: we started at our top level courses and worked our way back.

“Training you forward” is what we do in this course. We hope to see each student move on to get their concealed pistol license, and the intermediate/advanced training that comes after it. With this hope, we ensure that what we teach in the basic class integrates with what will be taught in the advanced classes. Have you ever taken an advanced class in something and spent the day de-programming bad muscle memory or understanding with something new? It happens to all of us at some point. And while that day wasn’t the growth opportunity it could have been while you de-programmed a bad habit, it did eventually get you to the next level. What if you never had bad programming to begin with?

“Begin with the end in mind.”

Habit 2 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People -Steven Covey.

In our Intermediate Handgun 1 course, we instruct multiple targets and multiple target zones (many bad guys and where to shoot at on them). Near the end, we add “no shoot” targets which may vary in consequence to engage the shooter in problem solving. In our Intermediate Handgun 2 course, we add in close contact and making-distance drills. This is MANY steps removed from the basics of Essential Handgun, but the standard rule of firearm safety “Be aware of your target and what is beyond it” as normally taught improves to “Be aware of your target, what is in front of it, and what is beyond it”. If you just got done palm-fisting bad guy’s nose as you make distance to shoot and your support hand is still in front of you, it’s a good idea to be aware of what is in front of your target so you’re not retrieving your own digits from the ground. Impressing these ideas initially adds to the student’s awareness of the safety topics, and prepares him for what lies ahead.

Technique is the proficiency in which one executes fundamental movements to create application.

-Don Alley, Keep and Bear, LLC.

A couple definitions here…

Technique is the ability of a person to perform a task. It improves with practice, it needs renewal with lack of practice, and it gets sloppy when exhaustion sets in.

Application is the activity being performed. The drill. The martial arts sequence. The ‘subroutine’ needed to execute a particular objective.

Fixing technique is one of our primary activities in our Intermediate Handgun courses because technique was never effectively acquired earlier on. This is NOT a dig on any student. They are in class, and that makes them a rock star in our minds. But, it’s hard for someone to move and shoot when their shooting stance is business casual. It’s hard to get follow up shots when they’re leaning away from the pistol and not into it.

Essential Handgun lets us get these more optimized sooner so they can get plugged right in to the application. With a solid isosceles or fighting stance, moving and shooting is one less step (going from a rather undefined stance to a “oh, I have to move now?” stance, and then into a movable stance). Leaning into the stance slightly helps mitigate recoil which helps for faster follow up shots. Building these fundamentals in early is always the right thing to do to avoid relearning.

An AWESOME responsibility

We designed every aspect of Essential Handgun around our later courses. From terminology needed, function understanding of the firearm, some legalities of ownership, and more. Every slide is scrutinized with “how does this help our student’s understanding?”. Every slide is about them.

We love watching our students gain understanding and grow confident in their technique. We love watching the light bulb turn on as one idea leads to many possibilities or conclusions. We love watching them ingrain a safety mindset in how they operate and handle firearms, and we love the sense of empowerment they leave with. This is never self-righteous “I know about guns” smugness, but the solid reassurance that they accomplished something that was an anxiety for them pre-class.

Our joy is in their continued safety and accomplishment.

Vehicle emergency kit (Winter)

I was out of town for the holiday break. Coming back to Michigan, we encountered very slick roads, and witnessed 10 cars off the road.

We have an emergency preparedness class for a reason. That reason is that 99% of all threat we face is not interpersonal conflict, it’s us against some condition or event.

Did these people have a charged phone to call for help? (I was driving slow enough to see a glow from each vehicle, presumably their phones while calls were made). Did they have cold weather gear or at least a blanket for each occupant?

How long was their wait until the overtaxed tow-services could get to them?

These are the reasons we prepare. Not just for bad guy with a gun, but so good guys stay safe and keep their families safe.

So what goes into a vehicle kit for the winter? Start with this list:

Vehicle needs:
Ice scraper/brush.
Extra windshield fluid.
Jumper cables.
Air compressor and tire gauge.
Tire replacement tools (jack, lug wrench, etc).
Foam tire sealant.
Fire extinguisher.
Basic tool kit.
Reflective markers and vest (yes, really).
Work gloves and safety glasses.
Tow strap.
Sand or kitty litter for traction. (Or MaxTrax).
Shovel.
Headlamp (with spare Li Ion batteries).

Shelter:
(Assumes occupants already have winter jackets.)
Blanket for each occupant.
Mittens and boots for each occupant.
Lighter, matches, and at least 3 tea candles.

Hydration/Nutrition:
At least 1 bottle of water per occupant.
At least 1000 calories / occupant in energy bars.

Rescue/Mitigation:
Spare cash (approx $300() for towing/hotel, repair.
Phone charger and cable.
GPS (if not in phone).
Paper maps.
Vehicle first aid kit.




Evolution of carry gun choices

I received my concealed carry license in 2001. In Michigan, that was about the earliest it could be obtained unless you had some serious connections that caused the gun board to vote for you. This means I’ve been a concealed carrier for 17 years, and diligently carry wherever possible.

In that time, I’ve learned quite a bit about what makes a good carry gun for me and my lifestyle. In parallel, the nation has become more shall-issue state to state, causing the gun industry to ramp up selections for this enthusiastic market segment.

This article really deals more with rationale, experiences, and evolving needs and understanding than it does with grams, muzzle velocity, and technical stuff. Sure, a lot of that helped make the choices of carry guns, but very few people hold up a spec sheet side-by-side and pick solely off that.

My first carry gun: the Beretta 92 FS

This was actually my first pistol purchase made 10 years earlier, and was not purchased with the intent of a CPL-intent sidearm. It was a range gun, and I liked the looks, I liked the heft, and I liked that it was the military M9 with associated testing to verify it. When my little blue card arrived letting me know that my right to carry had been purchased back from the government, it was the only handgun in my collection suitable.

When most people think of concealed carry, the full framed Beretta 92 FS does not come to mind. It’s big, it’s bulky, the grip is thick, the slide is long. It is everything that a carry gun shouldn’t be… except reliable, accurate, manageable. Wait…

As a first carry gun, its mass was rather daunting. Coupled with concealed carry being a new thing in Michigan as well as me being a new carrier, I was certain this near-anvil chunk of metal was printing wildly on my side and causing my gait to list to port (I’m a lefty). Truth is, people are oblivious and I wasn’t printing hardly at all. The mass, though… That got me to thinking about something smaller. Much smaller.

My second carry gun: the Beretta 3032 Tomcat Inox

As much as I loved the Beretta 92 FS, I decided to stick with the brand for my next purchase. Keep in mind this was about 2002 and the huge array of concealed carry pistols were not out yet.

I caught some major grief from some friends at this choice, most from one particular friend that held the attitude that if it was not a Colt 1911 45ACP it was not actually a firearm. To him, this pistol was a sissy gun, and a weak sissy at that. To me, it was a relief from the very heavy 92 FS, the ability to concealed carry practically anywhere without fear of printing, and most importantly, a means to always have a firearm on me, whether dressed up, regular clothes, or in a pair of shorts while getting a Slurpee after mowing the lawn.

My argument was a 3032 Tomcat on my person was more powerful than a 45 in the dresser back home. I wasn’t wrong in this assessment, but the 32 ACP had some issues in the power department, and trusting one’s life to such a small caliber wasn’t the wisest thing out there.

At the time, 380’s were the compacts of choice, but coming off the 92 FS I wanted something more subcompact. I eventually sold this gun to fund my next concealed carry purchase…

The Heckler and Koch USP Compact 45

This gun was a dream come true. It was the sweet spot between the big ole 92FS and the small 3032. It was a beefy caliber. It shot like a dream, and the recoil was more of a long shove than a jumpy abrupt kick.

With the two magazine choices, I had the better feeling extended magazine and the shorter flush one, making this a great gun to take to the range and a comfortable one to shoot as well as carry.

The day comes when we all realize that the class to get the dumb blue card ill-prepared us for an actual altercation. For me, this day came in summer of 2004 during a traffic altercation. Another motorist decided he didn’t like my driving, and chose to express himself with the threat of violence.

I was fortunate to have been carrying that day, as I was in my old Jeep with no top and no doors and traffic was going nowhere. I was pinned in. Fortunately, the presence of the firearm proved to be enough of a visual deterrent that he followed orders to drop his baseball bat that he articulated he was going to kill me with and move on with his day. Needing training was now on my mind.

Later that year, I was winter camping solo and encountered a pack of wild dogs. Their modus operantdi seemed to include growling at people until they threw them food, watch as they scurried off, and then eat food. (I learned this later from some backpacking forum posts for that area.) Since I only had freeze dry, and I was not about to set up camp to entertain a pack of wild dogs while I prepared their lunch, the need to defend myself was evident. I drew the USP Compact 45, and put one right in front of what appeared to be their leader. This scared them off for a time, and effectively ended my trip since I didn’t want them coming back  while I was set up and possibly sleeping.

Getting some training

The next Spring I resolved I would get some training from a legitimate source. I managed to find that training and took a Handgun I and Handgun II course with round counts of 350-400 per day. This was common round counts in the pre-Sandy-Hook days of training. Classes had many drills with high reps per drill. It was here I realized that as much as I loved my 45, ammo costs for training were prohibitive.

To solve this issue, I took the training with my Beretta 92 FS. It may seem counter-intuitive to not ‘train like you fight’, but I felt it was more important to get the knowledge in a way I could afford rather than wait. I also took copious notes and trained in my 45 with those drills as I was able to afford.

Some big take aways were:

Ammunition capacity: With a loaded 92FS and 2 spare magazines, I had 46 shots available. With the USP Compact, I had 25 rounds. Nearly half.

Shooting dynamics: Anyone that says “I carry 45 because I only need to shoot once” is either really, really good, or they are a stupid idiot. Odds are generally on the latter. In an altercation, with all the stressors of conflict, the overload of senses, the worrying you’re doing the right thing, the determination this is last resort, the moving, potential bullets coming your way, trying to get cover, etc., you really aren’t going to hit what you’re aiming at unless it’s very close. Or unless you’ve really trained hard.  Capacity becomes your friend so you don;’t hear the dreaded ‘click’ on an empty mag.

After this training, I started to realize that the USP45C might not be the best choice. During the next couple years, strides in cartridge advancement started to close the 45 vs 9mm performance gap. After nearly a decade with the Heckler and Kock USP Compact 45 as my primary carry gun, it was time to make the transition.

The Heckler and Koch P30

The P30 in 9mm is the perfect firearm for the left handed. Ambi mag release, ambi slide lock lever, no external safety. With 46 shots on body (the loaded handgun and 2 spare mags), the P30 is a phenomenal shooter.

This firearm has been my daily carry for the past 6 years. I have approximately 10,000 rounds through it with multiple classes as a student and many as an instructor myself. It has not once malfunctioned on me. It is the cold, stoic, and reassuring friend that has my back, and I have never once doubted its performance.

That being said, I’ve never shot with it particularly well, and have had great difficulty in pinning down why. I always shoot slightly low, and slightly left. This is not a trigger position thing; I’ve tried adjusting this in a controlled manner. Follow up shots are tight, but consistently off. I’ve adjusted sights, and moved point of aim to achieve acceptable results, but still fail to get the groupings that I can easily achieve on my Beretta 92 FS or my USP Compact.

Reassess Constantly

This summer, when shooting at my home range with my son, we tried a few different drills. The first was double taps. With the P30, I was regularly 8 inches apart vertically and within 2 inches horizontally. With my 92 FS, I was regularly 2 inches apart vertically and negligible drift horizontally. This was approximately 30 double taps with each, with deliberate focus on control.

My next set of drills was a 30 yard shot. No timing, no constraints other than aim and shoot. At 30 yards, I was 18 inches off center with the P30. With the 92 FS, I was a mere 4 inches off center (both were low).

My last set of drills was one handed shooting at 10 yards, no time limit. I was on target (about a 1.5 inch grouping) with 15 shots with the 92 FS. When I performed this with the P30, my grouping was 3.25 inches with 15 shots. Both are within acceptable parameters for self defense needs.

During the nearly 20 year span of concealed carry, holsters have also made great strides. The days of leather-only holsters are long gone, with many kydex and performance plastic ones on the market that make large frame pistols far more manageable and concealable than the days of yore.

My experimentation showed I was a better shooter with the 92 FS. With that knowledge, I ordered a modern holster for it. The modern holster makes the large framed pistol easily concealable, the weight manageable, and printing minimal.

My current carry

My current daily carry is my Beretta 92 FS. It has some drawbacks which I understand. It is assuredly not on the same advancement level as the HK P30, and it is still a bit big for discrete carry everywhere. Added to this is a small Glock 43, for when the full frame pistol is not an option.

Between these two, I am covered for concealability vs capacity. But both operate as intended every time I ask. I shoot well with them both, and both serve their purpose.

Educated shooters will wonder Whiskey Tango Foxtrot at my choice, and they are certainly within the realm of reason to do so. But the gun is one part of the whole system, and with me as part of that system, the 92 FS seems to perform better. For me.

Honest assessment.


The Get Home Bag (Cold weather)

Most emergencies are weathered by shelter-in-place, meaning we aren’t going to leave the home to go somewhere else. The home is the shelter of choice for them. ALL preparedness plans should begin with a thorough planning regiment and only then move to developing some type of emergency bag for evacuation. When we finally do get around to making these bags, they should support the PLAN we’ve already made.

There is one exception: the Get Home Bag.

The Get Home Bag (GHB) has a single purpose. To have the tools and resources on hand to get home from wherever you may be. The GHB should assume the worst case for getting home, such as in a blizzard, and having to travel on foot.

Here are some common assumptions:

  • Inclement weather (dangerous cold, snow).
  • Late start time (the emergency happened in late afternoon or early evening).
  • Longest commute distance regularly encountered by the individual.
  • Vehicle unavailable early (the vehicle broke down or was blocked initially or early in the trip, most of the trip will  be walked).
  • Reasonable physical condition. Able bodied, and generally able to hike for 8 hours a day with breaks with a 20 pound load.

In modern suburban America, the average commute is 16.2 miles one way. Extreme commute distances (more than 30 miles one way) is the fastest growing commute segment. It is important to be honest with one’s commute distance and train/prepare for it plus up to 50% more (detours, escape/avoidance, etc).

The first step is determining what the requirements for the GHB are. This article will assume a 25 mile commute one way, and that worst case, the GHB must be employed immediately (the trip is starting out on foot rather than abandoning the vehicle after several miles into the commute).

There is a check list at the bottom of the article. We’re going to ‘game’ this scenario a bit, to understand some of the intricacies. It’s better to read everything and understand the rationale for some items and determine if there is need for them in YOUR plan and YOUR kit.

 

Assess the situation

Overcome normalcy bias. Now. You’ve entered a situation that may require outside-the-norm decision making. Yes, when you leave work for the day and drive home, that work laptop is important. If you have to ditch the vehicle to walk home, is the laptop worth taking, or is it dead weight? It is important to become brutally honest about the situation, the priorities, and the consequences of decisions.

Hint: The password protected and encrypted laptop will be just fine remaining in the locked vehicle until you retrieve it. (It may not be, but seriously, get over it.)

How bad is the weather? Can it be reasonably navigated (such as 4 inches of snow or less)? How late is it? Is it imperative to get home as soon as possible? Is it possible to shelter at work/location until the next day? Most parents are going to think “I need to get home now!” to ensure their family is safe. Overcome this anxiety and collectedly assess.

Communications is important. Gather information via phone calls or radio. Have important numbers, emails, contacts in your phone. Have the very important ones hardcopied in your GHB notebook. It’d even better to understand HAM radio, repeaters, and have those you’re trying to reach equally versed. Some threat events will not allow communications. What is your school’s policy on holding kids until parents come? Do you and your spouse have a plan to enact in the case of no-vehicle no-communications? What is expected of each of you?

Hint: Texts will often go through a cellular system even though voice calls cannot.

Fully understand the situation as it pertains to you.

 

In the vehicle

A vehicle has ample space to store needed equipment and supplies and costs little resources to move it about. There are several things that can be put in the vehicle as options, and chosen for inclusion in the human-portable GHB to be used (we are assuming we will have to abandon the vehicle).

Common in-vehicle gear includes:

  • Weather appropriate clothing.
  • Emergency blankets.
  • Emergency food, water.
  • Tools.
  • Maps/Atlas.
  • Communications (CB, HAM).
  • Electronics charging.

Of these, only a few items will be helpful during a worst-case Get Home effort. The maps, probably. Weather appropriate clothing, as long as it is suitable for hiking/mobility. “Stadium warmth” bulky clothing may be ill-suited for high exertion and mobility (but will be desirable for sheltering). Some food, some water. Useful tools may be limited to a saw, small hatchet, and pry bar. Bottom line, though, is all the stuff in the vehicle that could help the situation isn’t necessarily human-portable. Trying to drag it may not be helpful.

 

Primary activity: Walking

In a Get-Home situation, the primary activity will be walking. Yes, luck may provide a ride, or the vehicle is accessible, but we must plan on this 25 mile walk. What is needed for a walk of this magnitude?

First, we must be in reasonable shape. That means training. Recreational backpacking and hiking is the ultimate answer here. Proficiency with this activity will turn a get-home event into nothing more than a hike with more urgency than usual.

Hint: much of the gear obtained to enjoy this hobby will be directly usable in a get-home bag.

A practiced hiker/backpacker carries a 30 pound load for 8-10 hours a day on unimproved trails, averaging about 3 miles per hour on mostly level terrain. In those 8-10 hours are approximately 15 minute breaks per hour, a lunch taking about an hour, and generally one morning and afternoon extended “packs off” break of 30 minutes. Assuming a full 10 hour day, this equates to 3 hours of break, giving a total range of 7 hrs x 3 mph = 21 miles.

Some of the discontinuities in this data and the Get-Homer are that he may not be a ‘practiced hiker’. The stamina and surefootedness are earned. Another discontinuity is the 30 pounds of gear are recreation-intent, light weight  equipment designed to support a pleasurable hobby. Much of it translates (such as a sleeping bag), but some does not. The Get-Homer may need protective weapons, tools to secure supplies (such as pry bars, etc), communications, and more. Water sources may not be as well understood as a researched and planned hike, resulting in more carrying.

Planning and training are critical to helping ensure a successful get-home excursion.

Pro tip: Store your phone and all spare batteries near your body while walking. The cold will greatly reduce battery life. Your body heat will prolong it. Keep conversations short. Possibly keep the phone off and only power on once an hour to send updates.

 

Secondary Activity: Shelter

Outdoorsmen spend a significant amount of time balancing clothing’s ability to retain heat during sedentary times and shedding heat during mobile times (assuming winter). High quality outdoor gear is made for this. Sweat is enemy number one. Gear selected must be versatile enough to accomplish these things. Modern military wear, prosumer-grade outdoor gear, and high-end hunting gear is designed explicitly for this. It must be researched, it must be tested. Shelter is survival priority number 1. Understanding the clothing in one’s gear must also be.

One of the assumptions was that the ‘event’ causing a Get-Home excursion to be necessary happened later in the day. In northern USA in December winter it gets dark at 5 PM. Worst case is setting out later than this, but much later and there should be a very compelling reason to set out and not wait until morning.

It is unlikely the average person will be able to hike through the night. Training and equipment may allow it, but after 4-5 hours the urge to bed down somewhere will be evident. Finding shelter is an art unto itself, as is making expedient shelters from natural resources. Abandoned vehicles, utility buildings, retail outlets, and more can serve as a means of getting out of the elements. The goal is simple: Get out of the elements, and find a way to retain warmth.

The expectation of getting a good sleep should be removed. It will be a shivering, cold, poor sleep filled with anxiety. It may even only be for a few hours before the weariness fades and the urge to get home overtakes it. All this should be expected. To help ensure the possibility of a regenerative sleep, we should be versed in fire making, have at least a very warm wool blanket, and a means of getting out of the elements. A good silicon impregnated nylon tarp is an excellent light-weight means of providing shelter. Whether in an ‘A-frame’ configuration or even as a lean-to setup to help retain some fire warmth, the wind/snow block is important.

The wool blanket may seem like a heavy, archaic form of sleep system, but it has multiple advantages over a sleeping bag. First, it is easy to get out from under in the event of a threat or other quick-reaction event. A sleeping bag can become a warm coffin in such a situation. Secondly, it retains some warmth retention even when wet, as the fibers are naturally hydrophobic. Thirdly, while wool may singe due to embers from the fire, it does not destructively melt like nylon will. Fourth, it can act as a cover or wrapping and still allow the user to be mobile.

Pro-tip: A mylar blanket does little to keep one actually warm. In a lean-to setup with a tarp, use the emergency blanket inside the nylon tarp to help protect it from embers as well as reflect a substantial amount of the fire’s heat back towards you.

 

Supporting equipment and activities

There are a number of training items, equipment, and necessities to support a get home excursion of this magnitude and under worst cases. The following items are a short list with some explanations.

Handgun and ammunition: Desperate times bring out the worst in some people and the best in others. It is despicable to prey upon someone in times of need. Protection is a foundation of all preparedness, and the fact that you’ve prepared does not create an obligation to help those that have not, no matter how desperately they demand or beg. The handgun keeps your life yours, and your things yours, unless you choose to do otherwise. Without it, the choice will be made for you by evildoers. Training required for effectiveness.

First aid kit: Moving out of one’s normal actions and environments brings inherent risk due to unfamiliarity. Risk potentially leads to injury. An adequate firs aid kit is essential, as is the training to use its contents.

Layered clothing: Everyone in the USA understands the idea of layering. No need to write more here.

Fire starting: Bic lighters, ferro rod, some dryer lint, and a half hour searching for suitable fuel gets you a fire. Know how to start one, know how to keep it going. Training required for effectiveness.

Hydration: K&B recommends a 40 oz widemouth Klean Kanteen with single wall construction. When moving, odds are water will not freeze unless it is exceptionally cold. The steel container can be used to boil water, or at least warm it up well for added comfort. Water filters are useless in the cold (the element will break from freezing). Melting snow is generally safe, but time consuming. Aquamira tablets can be used to purify water, but extend the reaction time recommended if the water is too cold. The average person will need 40-80 fl oz for a trip of this magnitude, and will be slightly dehydrated at its conclusion. Plan on 120-160 fl oz for this trip if possible.

Nutrition: A trip of this magnitude is able to be accomplished without food, but the body will be expending up to 4000 calories each day. No food will make it colder and more difficult. Some food, such as a high calorie emergency ration, or freeze dry meal, will be very beneficial.

Illumination: There are 3 categories of illumination: low level but long duration, medium, and high illumination with short duration. It’s important to have all three in one’s kit. Glow sticks are excellent for 4-6 hours (in the cold) where low illumination is all that’s needed. A headlamp can provide medium illumination (most have multiple settings now for low light and bright light, trading off duration). High intensity tactical flashlights are essential when defensive measures are required.

Cash: For a Get-Home situation, silver and gold will be utterly useless. Yes, survivalists of old, they will. A get-home situation is most likely at the onset of a threat event, and society as a whole will not have acclimated to a precious metal monetary paradigm. It would take weeks and possibly months for that. Cash on hand buys you options. Maybe some skis at the store, maybe a ride on a truck that was unaffected by the event, maybe a night in a hotel somewhere. Cash is versatility to obtain lacking resources.

Battery backups: Have spare batteries for all electronics. Spare batteries should be stored on one’s person to prevent power loss. For maximum resiliency use lithium ion batteries and buy gear that is compatible with Li-ion.

10 Essentials: Outdoorsmen have long understood the necessity of the 10 essentials. In their quest to pare down weight for more enjoyable hiking, they often remove things not used or seldom used from their packs. The exceptions are the 10 essentials, which stay a part of the pack regardless of frequency of use.

  1. First-aid kit.
  2. Knife.
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen.
  4. Extra clothing.
  5. Rain gear.
  6. Firestarter and matches.
  7. Extra water.
  8. Extra food.
  9. Headlamp or flashlight.
  10. Map and compass

Some of these are covered elsewhere. The utility of the rest of these items should be self-evident.

Navigation: Using GPS apps, maps, and compass should all be a well-practiced skill set. GPS and map datums should match. Maps should NEVER show destinations! Plot courses to the nearest major intersection or significant landmark that you know how to get home from. Label each route home. Ensure your spouse has copies of these routes in case they have a working vehicle and can safely rendezvous with you (assuming you have communications).  Likewise, have copies of their routes. Annotate with water sources, caches, shelter options, and other resources. Maps should be durable.

 

Everyday Carry on-body (Tier 1) and Get Home Bag (Tier 2) Checklist:

Tier 1 Tier 2
Protection
Handgun Yes N/A
Spare mag 1-2 mag 2 mag
Holster Yes N/A
Melee handheld Tactical pen
Tactical flashlight
N/A
Long Gun N/A N/A
Scabbard/sling N/A N/A
Spare Mag N/A N/A
First aid
First aid kit Pocket Kit First Aid Kit
Medications in Pocket kit N/A
Shelter
Daily clothing Yes N/A
Headwear N/A Wool hat

Full brim hat

Face covering N/A Shemegh/ bandana
Filter/Respirator
Spare Underwear N/A Yes
Base layers N/A 1 Merino Wool
Midlayers N/A N/A
Heavy layers N/A Yes
Shells N/A Yes
Gloves (not work gloves) N/A 1 pr glove liner

1 pr heavy

Socks N/A 1 pr midweight wool

1 pr heavy weight wool
1 pr sock liner

Footwear N/A Hiking / Winter
Fire starting N/A Bic Lighter x2
Ferro Rod
Tea candles x2
Fire perpetuation N/A N/A
Fuel N/A N/A
Shelter (expedient) N/A N/A
Shelter (normal) N/A SilNylon tarp
Insulation/Bedding N/A Silk bag liner
Mylar blanketWool blanket 1-2
Hydration
Water N/A 40 fl oz
Purification N/A Aquamira

Floss / Carbon / Bottle

Container N/A Klean Kanteen
bladder
Nutrition
Foods N/A Yes (2 servings)
Preparation items N/A N/A
Serving items N/A N/A
Hygiene/Personal
Nail clippers N/A Yes
Toothbrush/paste/floss N/A (optional)
Soap N/A Yes
Towel N/A Yes
Disposable wipes / TP N/A Yes
Hand sanitizer N/A Yes
Deodorant N/A N/A
Spare Glasses Yes Yes
Rescue / Mitigation
Knife Folding Full tang
Spare folding
Multi-tool N/A Yes
Pry bar N/A Yes
Saw N/A (folding optional)
Tape/Fastening N/A 20′ duct tape
10 large zip ties
Hatchet N/A (optional)
Safety glasses N/A Yes
Work gloves N/A Yes
Needle/thread N/A Yes
Compass N/A Yes
Maps N/A Work to Home
GPS app / handheld smartphone N/A
Pace counters N/A Yes
TX/RX Radio + charger N/A Yes
Cell phone charger N/A Charging block
USB cord
Signal mirror N/A Yes
Emergency whistle N/A Yes
Flashlight Surefire E2D N/A
Headlamp N/A Yes
Glowstick N/A x2 red

x2 green

Ziplock bags N/A 4
Garbage bags N/A 2
Paracord N/A 100’
Emergency currency $100 in $20’s $100 in $5’s
$100 in $20’s
USB Drive + documents N/A Yes
Spare batteries N/A Battery block for phone
Tac Light: 1 refill
Headlamp: 1 refillOptics: 1 refill
Notepad N/A Yes
Pack N/A approx 2000 ci

NOTES ON USING THIS CHECKLIST:

  • Items marked N/A may not appear on that tier (for instance, you’re not expected to have 4 glow sticks on-body carry) but may be applicable for another tier. Items that have N/A for both tiers shown might be a bug-out-bag (tier 3), or bug-out-vehicle (tier 4) item.
  • Some items have hyperlinks with suggested product.

 

 

 

 

Choosing YOUR concealed pistol

We are often asked what firearm a person should get for concealed carry. It’s easy to answer Glock 19 or Sig P365 or any other popular and prevalent firearm currently on the market, and sadly, many people answer with a specific make/model without taking the time to define what requirements the inquirer may have. In this article, we’re not going to answer this question, but we will help identify what some common requirements are for a CPL-intent firearm so that you can answer it for yourself.

Before we get too much into this, though, let’s take a moment to understand that the firearm is one part of a system that includes the firearm, carry location, holster used, and clothing. Some of these concepts are discussed in our previous article, The box full of holsters, the box full of lessons.

Each of these subsections should be thought of as a filter, allowing the shopper to remove items from the list of firearms they are considering.

Concealability

Whaaaaaaaa? Reliability isn’t first? No, not at first, it isn’t. Why? Because the AK-47 is not a concealable firearm. “But but but… we’re talking about pistols!”, I hear you cry. Correct, which is why concealability comes first. It’s a concealed pistol license. Duh?

In Michigan, there’s no real penalty for printing (the pistol is exposed through clothing, or otherwise identifiable) but in some states, printing is a serious issue. Either way, the professionally minded concealed carrier will choose to conceal or open carry, and it shall be that way. ‘Casual’ concealed carry, where some printing is acceptable, is for amateurs.

Concealability will vary for everyone, and it will depend on the firearm-location-holster-clothing system the carrier has in place. Women especially understand this system as they are faced with more form-fitting clothing that makes concealability harder. For them, even mid-size firearms like a Glock 19 will not be concealable.

Climate

Also, consider the climate. Here in Michigan it is shorts and t-shirt weather for 4 months. Carrying a mid frame pistol may be a challenge. “Sun’s out guns out” isn’t a phrase about open carry! The firearm you choose should still be concealable. For the remaining 8 months of the year, it may be relatively easy to do. It’s not uncommon to have 2 or even 3 pistols that can be considered for concealability as wardrobe changes.

Discretion

Let’s just face it. Some places are filled with obliviots that wouldn’t notice the negligent discharge of a flare gun. Strip malls and Starbucks are filled with these types. Even then, if for some reason your concealed pistol were spotted, the worst that would happen is you’d be asked to leave without your triple machiato by the timid barista.

Some places, though, might carry some real consequence. Your workplace may not have rules against concealed carry, but it might not be the best thing to be spotted with it. You may have the permission of your pastor to carry at church, but some families spotting the gun may not be so comfortable.

For these places, smaller generally means more concealable. If your travels include a ‘high discretion’ location, this is worth noting in your selection process.

Reliability

Yes, now we will talk about reliability, now that we’re actually talking about concealed carry pistols. Simply put:

  • It must go bang when the trigger is actuated.
  • It must not fail to go bang when the trigger is actuated.
  • It must not go bang when the trigger is not actuated.

Pretty simple, right? So far, it is. But let’s talk about something called functional reliability. Everyone likes to talk about how revolvers are the most reliable handgun. In truth, they are not. The myth of revolver reliability is most borne out of two points:

1) In the early days of semiautomatics, ammunition used poor quality primers (they were good in their day) that caused frequent failures to fire (misfires). This, coupled with the cartridge manufacturing skills of the day, caused variability in ammunition quality. This brings about point 2…

2) In a semiautomatic handgun, failure to fire requires a slide manipulation to cycle past the malfunctioning cartridge and bring another cartridge into the system. This is a more time consuming process than simply squeezing the trigger again like on a revolver.

In practice, a reputable-manufacture revolver is less mechanically reliable than a reputable-manufacturer semi-automatic.  However, once the user is added to the system, a revolver is more functionally reliable than a semiautomatic. Simply put, the semiautomatic requires a stable hold so that the slide can move relative to the frame, to cycle the action. “Limp wristing” can cause this relative movement to be impeded. A revolver does not have this drawback.

As always, the shooter is a factor in the system. Those with weak grips, must shoot one handed, or other limitations that may exacerbate malfunction need to consider this in their reliability assessment of the shooter-firearm system.

Manufacturer reputation is also a part of reliability. Do they have the know-how to make a reliable firearm? Do they have the infrastructure to correct (recall) any issues? Will they stand by their product? One only needs look at the Remington R51 fiasco to understand it’s not just about name, it’s about real reliability.

Stopping Power and Manageability

Stopping power is the difficult to define concept of the cartridge’s ability to deliver the force to neutralize a threat. In truth all handgun cartridges are poor stoppers, and it must be recognized we are trading convenience/concealability for effectiveness. It’s just the way it is.

To make matters easier, the following cartridges are common CPL-intent.

Semiautomatic:

  • .380 ACP
  • 9x19mm
  • .40 S&W
  • .45ACP

Revolver:

  • .38 Special
  • .357 Magnum

Yes, there are others. Yes, we know you have your favorite. Yes, it may not be on this list. But let’s be honest, if your .43 cal Acme FullSemi Obscurus  is the very best there is and you swear by this mythological wildcat cartridge, why are you reading an intro to CPL article? Hmm?

For the rest of us, the above cartridges represent commonly available, readily purchasable, and affordably trainable cartridges that have a wide array of CPL-intent pistol models available.

Now let’s talk about manageability. We group stopping power and manageability together because it’s not just about the cartridge, it’s about the firearm-shooter system. the .357 Mag and the .40 S&W tend to be a bit ‘abrupt’ in their recoil. Smaller frame pistols may also have this effect and feel when shooting less powerful carteridges.

The FBI explored the powerful 10 mm auto cartridge in the late 1980’s after a shootout in Miami left two agents dead and five more injured. It was concluded that the 10 mm auto had improved power, but its manageability was unsuitable for most agents. We have the same concerns, and most of us have fewer training opportunities than an FBI agent.

We must find the firearm-cartridge combination that gives us the most stopping power that we can safely and effectively wield. And that means trying out multiple handguns in multiple calibers. To the gun store!  But wait…

Manageability Part 2

A big part of manageability is the firearm’s ergonomics. Is it the right size for us? Is the grip wide/narrow enough to effectively shoot? Can we get enough grip contact to create a reliable shooting platform?

Note I did not say “does the gun feel good to hold/shoot”? This is largely the most ridiculous ‘gun guy’ pieces of advice out there. I’ve seen countless Facebook posts from these guys that say “go to the gun store and pick what feels good in your hands”. NO! Worst advice ever.

The measurable is “Can you effectively wield it?”, not “does it feel good in your hand?”. There is a vast difference, and failure to understand this leaves you with possibly violating item #1 (Concealability). You’ll walk out with a full frame Walther P99, H&K VP9 or some target-intent pistol, with no real way to conceal carry it. (Although, an H&K P30 is my carry gun, but I’m 6’2″ and dress as necessary to do so…)

Effectively wield. Key words.

 

Capacity

Capacity is unfortunately the sacrificial lamb in all of this. It’d be nice if the grips contained some magical space where 3000 rounds could be placed and fed reliability, but that technology seems to have been lost with the demise of the 1980’s soldier of fortune movies where reloads were either optional or just a plot device to go hand-to-hand.

If high capacity is an absolute requirement, item #1 (Concealability) may have to give a bit of leeway, as will your carry location and attire. Balance these needs appropriately.

In conclusion…

I sincerely hope this helps. There are tons of great guns out there, and they are improving in quality every day. It’d be easy to spout off favorite models, or just tell you to get a Glock 19 like everyone else on the planet, but this would be giving you my solution and not yours. Investigate the above topics. Try them out. Ask friends that have them and actually put them on with the holster, etc. Carry them for a day if you’re able (as law permits). Is your solution one gun or two or more? That’s OK too.

Just remember this is a filtering process, and it truly helps to be unforgiving honest in in your approach. I know you love that gold plated Desert Eagle 50AE because it matches your Texas Centennial commemorative belt buckle, but if we take a moment to be objective, it might not be the best carry choice. Not saying don’t own it, just be diligently pragmatic about its suitability for this role.

The box full of holsters, the box full of lessons

Most experienced CPL people have a box full of holsters. Why? The truth is, we spend a great deal of research on the firearm we will concealed carry. What is the right size for me? How do I balance capacity with concealability? How do I balance ergonomic control against concealability? Does it support my accessory requirements? Do I like the grips? Does it go pew pew when I hit the trigger?

We spend far less time understanding that the blaster is only one part of the system that is made up of firearm-location-holster-clothing. All of these factors are important if we hope to maximize firearm capability against the requirement of concealability. It is also important to note that the firearm and the clothing in this system are somewhat fixed: They’re already determined. The newly minted CPL’er rarely goes out and buys a whole new wardrobe to accommodate his new firearm, and after such an investment, he is unlikely to buy a new firearm right away to something that may be more suitable.

What’s left is the carry location and the holster that must interface and integrate these two ‘fixed’ factors.

For carry location, the new CPL’er must learn what works for him. Is strong side 3 o’clock the best method? Appendix carry? Small of back? Cross draw? It takes time to learn what works for someone, and each person’s daily range-of-motion requirements may be different. A full time driver who is right handed may find cross draw to be beneficial, or a good shoulder holster position. A desk jockey may get a bit pinched up at appendix carry. Small of back is mostly for sadists.

Once it’s determined where to carry, one then needs to find a holster that carries well in that position. But, In the Waistband (IWB) or Outside the Waistband (OWB)? Which is more concealable with my daily wardrobe? Which is more comfortable? Which is more effective?

While making this decision, along enters the marketing. A simple search engine result will yield a sea of holster flotsam floating towards the screen, each one being the superior product with superior ergo that superior warriors in Kydexstan all swear that they and their Special Forces brethren have trusted their lives with. It’s easy to buy into this for features one may not need, that are just poorly made, or have a bad form factor that would have some people just leaving the uncomfortable mess at home.

We mostly end up getting a holster based on internet reviews and a couple personal recommendations.

Now for the re-do loops.

The odds of assessing all of this correctly on the first go around is slim. As with a sore and injured body part, we rarely understand the range of motion we actually use in a day until something painful is screaming at us about it. And yes, pinching leather or Kydex and an unforgiving pistol slide can be painful. So, a reassessment of carry location occurs. Sometimes the holster can be used in the new location. Sometimes it cannot. Order up another one and throw this in the box.

Once the carry position is a bit better understood, and the holster made for this position is obtained, how does it feel? Does it work as intended? Does it pinch? Does it dig in? Does it________? Odds are this is another holster in the box and a new one purchased. IWB? OWB? New location for these? Add it to the box.

We haven’t even tried to draw it under training duress yet.

It becomes easy to see how concealed carry results in these assessments. It becomes a point of humor among veteran CPL’ers about the box full of holsters and the slight pause after mentioning it as we remember the trials of optimizing OUR carry system for US.

It does get better. After the initial carry gun is replaced with a newer model or another purpose (many people carry a compact model firearm every day but have a ‘mouse gun’ backup of some type for discretionary carry), the lessons learned from the box of holsters are not repeated for the new gun. Range of motion is understood. Carry location has already been determined. Wardrobe considerations have been addressed through experience and modified as time went by.

The system is understood. It is a box of lessons.

 

Safety rules: Not optional, no matter how ‘Murica you are

I had a lovely ‘discussion’ with a FB denizen yesterday regarding gun safety in class. A person indicated they were concealed carrying (they had an out of state permit) through the entirety of the CPL class they took (not a K&B class).

Since there is a strict “No ammo in the classroom” rule, this would have been a huge NO. A guy who we will aptly name Fudd enters the conversation, decrying that I am an anti-gun liberal doing nothing more than creating a pistol-free zone because I do not believe in the 2A. Those that know me know there is really nothing further from the truth.

The reasons for the no ammo in the classroom are this:

1) The NRA says so, and this is an NRA class. When one agrees to instruct something and effectively enters a contract, one upholds his word to do so, not just the parts they like.

2) (more importantly) In order for a firearm to discharge, 3 things are needed. A firearm, ammunition, and trigger actuation. To ENSURE a safe training environment where students and instructor may be handling firearms AND where dry-fire trigger actuation may occur, the means to make the situation safe is simply deny the presence of live ammunition.

Many things are taught in our CPL class, including DA/SA trigger pull, trigger reset, and other factors that require dry fire.

In a similar vein, if we were teaching a reloading class, and ammo must be present to address the coursework, the firearm would be what was denied in the classroom.

Fudd insisted that separating ammunition from the training area where firearms and trigger actuation was occurring was anti-2A. It is not. It is establishing a safe environment for all involved.

GSSF Recap with Berge Avesian

by Berge Avesian

I just got back from my very first Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF) competition! It was great and I highly recommend it. My performance on the other hand was not so stellar. Let me preface this with a little background: My EDC is a Sig. I carry Sigs on duty. I’ve gone to competitions with my Sig (and done quite well). I am basically a Sig guy. Now in my safe I have a number of pistols, Glocks among them, but none get so exercised as my Sigs. If I was shooting my Sig 226 today, in competition, I have no doubt I would have put up some formidable numbers but…I wasn’t shooting my Sig.

This GSSF competition was limited to Glocks only. So I pulled my Glock 22 in .40 cal from the back of my safe, grabbed my pistol bag and extra magazines and headed to the range. In hindsight I should have realized I had a problem the moment I picked up my spare mags; two of them were 10 rounders left over from the 1994 AWB! Are you starting to see how I’ve let this pistol languish? Any way I headed out the competition and honestly didn’t do too bad in the 1st two events. The 3rd and final event was the metal plates. Where the first two events could mask my poor marksmanship thanks to larger targets, the plates meant I’d have to be on target with my sights and missed shots would not go unnoticed. 4 strings of fire, 6 plates each and I only hit 15 with 44 rounds! Now I’ve been shooting for a long time and I am very familiar with all manner of firearms and how to handle them. But that doesn’t mean I’ve spent enough time on all of them to understand their nuances and how they shoot (high, low, right, left?).

When the buzzer beeped and I brought my Glock 22 up to bear on the first plate, I was dead on with my sights! The front and rear sight were in near perfect alignment. I squeezed the trigger. Bang! The plate remained unmoved. Follow up shots all had proper sight alignment yet all but the last in that magazine failed to find its mark! What happened?! It took me 2 magazines to figure out the front sight on my Glock is a bit low and every one of my missed shots hit exactly below the steel plate. D’oh! Needless to say I caught on to my sights too late to salvage the heat. If I had just given my Glock as much attention as my Sig I might have figured the sights out and shot a much better score.

Don’t let this happen to you. Whether you are like me and have a bunch of guns or just have one or two, you need to practice with everything you have. Try to run every gun you have enough that you become intimately familiar with its fit and function. Don’t wait till competition or worse a life or death situation to realize you should have been training with your guns more!

Happy Hunting!

Berge Avesian

Gun: An American Conversation (wrap up)

For the month of April, the news outlet MLive and other outlets around the country, ran a program called “Guns: An American Conversation”. The idea behind this project was to get people communicating about gun violence, and entertain possible solutions. The framework was to remain respectful, give well-reasoned answers or stances, and, again, remain respectful. If we could take away different perspectives and different stances, then we would become closer to finding solutions.

Keep and Bear, LLC instructor Don Alley was one of those chosen to be a part of this conversation.

The group consisted of about 150 people total from around the country, with viewpoints spanning the spectrum of gun rights and gun violence. While the participants weren’t 100% respectful at all times, and were sometimes steadfast in their beliefs (Don included), the month long conversation certainly didn’t devolve to the typical Facebook vitriol so common elsewhere. In that, at least, the program was a success. Here is Don’s experience.

Initial thoughts

My initial thoughts, admittedly, was that a media outlet was setting up a group to reinforce via echo-chamber that gun rights were collectively granted, alterable, negotiable, and therefore were readily adjustable via consensus. At the very worst, I figured I’d end up being a lightning rod for individual rights by questioning what authority others had over my rights. (As my involvement in the project continued, I discovered that there were certainly those that held that exact viewpoint).

Guidelines for expectations of discourse were provide, which were easy enough to follow should discussion remain fact based, purpose-driven, and earnestly looking for answers.

The beginning

The month long session dove right in, somewhat predictably. There were many anti-gun people eager to make a difference by proposing ideas that they thought would reduce firearm related violence. These tended to trample the Second Amendment, and those proposing these ideas were alright with that.

There was more than a few members that made it clear that any law, any regulation, or any disqualifier to owning arms was more than acceptable to them. If an idea resulted in any firearm being banned, confiscated, or not for sale, they were clearly for it.

Conversely, there were other members who held the opposite viewpoint. Firearm ownership was an inherent right of a free people, and others do not have the authority to alter it. Anti-gunners were quick to point out that because infringement is currently occurring, that infringement is OK.

There were many in the middle, who were either unaware of the nature of a ‘right’, or felt that reasonable limits were acceptable. These people were, ultimately my target audience for conversation, and wanted to delve more deeply into this neutral/unfamiliar conscientious to understand and relate to them better. Fortunately, the best way to show the end-game of an anti-gun stance is to simply ask more questions. With a few leading questions, the motive becomes clear: control over others. Here were some more observations…

The ‘reasonable restrictions’ argument (part 1)

Anti-gunners use the notion that ‘reasonable restrictions’ are allowed by government to safeguard the public peace. Once the authority to restrict is thus established, they argue it’s just a matter of where those restrictions lie, and ‘we all’ get a say in that. There are a number of issues with this approach.

Anti-gunners like to equate the 1A to infringing the 2A. “You cannot yell Fire! in a crowded theater. This is an example of a reasonable restriction”, they like to argue. Thy are correct that you cannot do that, but they are incorrect calling it a reasonable restriction. It’s actually a crime called ‘inciting’. A ‘restriction’ in this case would be to make it so the word “fire” was illegal to utter. Other popular 1A crimes include slander, libel, and fraud. The system has taken these 1A-based actions and criminalized them because they can lead to physical or financial harm. Aside from these, the 1A is held in high public regard, and further limitations to the 1A are generally held unfavorably.

Likewise, 2A-based abuses are also crimes. These include assault, manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, and murder 1, 2, 3. These actions are already criminalized, and as such, if the 2A were held in the same regard as the 1A, further restriction would not be pursued, but the understanding that lawbreakers would be brought to justice.

‘Reasonable restrictions’ are not warranted if the action under scrutiny is already a crime.

The ‘reasonable restrictions’ argument (part 2)

Of interest in the ‘reasonable restriction’ argument, the SCOTUS case DC vs Heller clarified that the 2A is an individual right, but that the government had authority to restrict “unusual” firearms. Since recent estimates show that there are at least 2.4 million AR-15 style defensive carbines in private ownership in the USA, with who knows how many other ‘assault weapons’ (please forgive my use of the term) in private ownership, this style of firearm cannot be considered ‘unusual’, and the ruling would actually prohibit government entities from banning this particular arm.

The ‘restrictions are not infringement’ argument

Yes, they are, by definition. I posted a progression of a firearms transaction from total freedom to authoritarianism. It went like this:

  • Total freedom: I walk into the gun store, choose the firearm I want, voluntarily transact, and leave with the firearm I’ve purchased.
  • Add firearm restrictions: I walk into a gun store, choose the firearm I want (from a list of features the government has deemed I may purchase), voluntarily transact, and leave with the firearm I’ve purchased.
  • Add background checks: I walk into a gun store, choose the firearm I want (from a list of features the government has deemed I may purchase), get NICS checked (ensure I am not on a list that the government has deemed not allowed to purchase a firearm), voluntarily transact, and leave with the firearm I’ve purchased.
  • Add purchase permits: I first go to the government, take a test to prove I am eligible, wait on those results, get issued a purchase permit, I walk into a gun store, choose the firearm I want (from a list of features the government has deemed I may purchase), get NICS checked (ensure I am not on a list that the government has deemed not allowed to purchase a firearm), voluntarily transact, and leave with the firearm I’ve purchased.
  • Add waiting periods: I first go to the government, take a test to prove I am eligible, wait on those results, get issued a purchase permit, I walk into a gun store, choose the firearm I want (from a list of features the government has deemed I may purchase), get NICS checked (ensure I am not on a list that the government has deemed not allowed to purchase a firearm), voluntarily transact, leave the gun store, wait 3 days to ‘cool off’, return, and leave with the firearm I’ve purchased.
  • Add red flag laws: I first go to the government, take a test to prove I am eligible, wait on those results, get issued a purchase permit, I walk into a gun store, choose the firearm I want (from a list of features the government has deemed I may purchase), get NICS checked (ensure I am not on a list that the government has deemed not allowed to purchase a firearm), voluntarily transact, leave the gun store, wait 3 days to ‘cool off’, return, and leave with the firearm I’ve purchased, which I may keep only until such a time that the collective preference of society deems I am allowed to have it, and I must surrender them should a single judge deem it so. I will not be afforded due process, I will not be able to face my accuser, and I will not have a say in their disposition. I may have to prove myself worthy of exercising my right, and the state may make that proof as attainable or unattainable as it sees fit.
  • Authoritarianism: Gun store? We outlawed those. Why do you need a gun? I am reporting you.

Each step above cumulatively infringes on a person’s right, and distances the freedom the 2A enumerates into a set of privileges and preferences, eventually ensuring that no firearms and no people are in the ‘approved set’.

Anti-gunners are quick to point out how ‘quick’ it is to get a firearm. You can walk in and walk out with one. This is as it should be when exercising a Right. What they don’t emphasize is that the person is run through a somewhat efficient database that is able to check ineligibility right away. Because something is ‘quick’ does not mean that it isn’t thorough or comprehensive.

Rejection of the slippery-slope argument

In logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and case law, is a consequentialist logical device in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect.

Anti-gunners like to call out the cautions and concerns of pro-gunners as being slippery slope arguments. “Just because we enact regulation now does not mean that we will enact more legislation later.”, they say.

Yes, it does. Yes, they will.

We had the 1934 National Firearm Act which effectively outlawed automatic weapons,  short barrel rifles and shotguns, and suppressors. This was followed with the 1968 Gun Control Act, which regulated firearms as interstate commerce, restricted many firearms, and attempted to relegate firearm ownership as “sporting purpose” in origin and not militaristic in origin. From there, an 80’s era assault weapon ban attempted to prohibit ‘military style’ firearms. A myriad of state level and local bans have followed in the years since. We now have a retired SCOTUS judge calling for the repeal of the 2A, and multiple politicians introducing bills that outright ban firearms.

A slippery slope argument is no longer a logical fallacy when the slope has been proven to exist and is indeed slippery.

In fact, another participant used the “pieces of cake” argument to highlight the iterative, repeated infringement. He likened one’s rights to a cake. When someone came along and said “I will take a piece of your cake, but you get to keep the rest”, the cake owners acquiesced. When they came back for more, the cake owner protested but gave in. Now, with only a slice left, they are coming for it once again.

The anti-gunners were actually livid with this analogy. My take on it was that they were clearly exposed as incrementally infringing rights, and their call for “middle ground common sense” legislation was highlighted as another failure in a long history of gun control failures.

I asked “If we do another gun ban like you’re asking, can we add language to the bill that any future politician suggesting further bans shall be forcibly removed from his office, even upon pain of death, and those enforcing that removal have a full and complete pardon?” I did not get a reply.

The qualifications of those that would make you defenseless

This was actually a post that infuriated me the most. It was a ladies-only post, so I respected their space, but I still read it and took away what I could. The reason for my anger was how ill-informed some of the participants were regarding self defense. After exhibiting potentially lethal ignorance on the topic, they continued to use the group to talk about protective actions. Hint: If your personal protection strategy is based on ‘hope’, or ‘willful ignorance’, don’t try to impose your viewpoints on to others via gun control.

That being said, many/most of the participants cited situational awareness, staying in areas known to be safer, having some defense training, and many only go walking about with their dog.

Here are some of the personal protection strategies of some in the group:

  • I am disabled and ride an electric scooter. I feel that is my armor. I also carry a can of hairspray that will temporarily stop someone if sprayed in their eyes. I also have one of those really loud alarm buttons I can press to attract attention if needed.”
  • “..I assume my world is essentially a safe place and should I be a victim of violence, it would be a random circumstance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would never carry a gun.
  • I also know some basic self defense just from watching some videos.”   followed up with a question as to what videos she watches. She answered “The ones that pop up on my Facebook feed and Twitter“.
  • I was raised to use my house keys as weapons. Putting one or two between my knuckles to pierce my attacker and wound him.
  • Protection of the female from male predators has been throughout our history and part of our present.. I don’t think carrying a gun will fix our future..

Another prevalent topic was the need to ‘feel’ safe. Not ‘be’ safe, feel safe. This is a false measurable, as how one feels is unimportant when protective topics are addressed, yet the solutions offered throughout the project seemed to repeatedly be based on how to ‘feel safe’.

There were more than a few posts with women knowing a good bit of martial arts, carrying defensive firearms, and carrying pepper spray/gel, and again, there was a high degree of stated situational awareness.

There is, however, a danger in considering a vocal gun control proponent’s argument, however. They are, quite literally, arguing to make you defenseless. The ‘bait’, is that you will not need defense any more if all guns are taken away, but the sum of human history up to the invention of the firearm shows that theory to be in error. In fact, advent of the firearm helps ensure females are safer than they ever have been in history, as the device relies on a chemical reaction (the cartridge going off), rather than physical strength, to project protective force.

How gun owners are perceived

It has been my experience that gun owners view the American population in two groups:

  1. People who want violence eliminated (but the means in which this is accomplished varies greatly).
  2. Criminals.

During this month long project, it became clear that anti-gun people view Americans in 3 categories:

  1. People who are anti-gun and therefore want violence eliminated.
  2. Pro-gun people who are alright with violence, or are themselves criminals waiting to happen.
  3. Criminals.

This attitude was prevalent throughout the project, with gun owners sometimes outright vilified. One post even stated “another good guy with a gun, until he wasn’t” regarding an assaultive encounter under discussion.

I see this as the biggest divide on this issue. To the anti-gunner, the 2A is not really a right, it’s a road block to imposing their preference. It must be questioned, marginalized, scrutinized, and the founding fathers’ intent on it must be doubted. This is the only way it can be eroded. Then, they will have their way.

Until then, pro-gunners are apparently one step away from becoming criminals.

I, for one, will continue to see American’s in the 2-category model I first mentioned, and I will continue to reject and vehemently oppose the notion that gun owners are violence proponents simply by virtue of employing a means of protection.

The obligatory NRA bashing

This is the time honored tradition of the anti-gunner, but also represents one of the biggest wins this project offered. The topic started with the usual “NRA wants dead babies” statements. Not put out there as fact, but rather that the NRA is complicit in every shooting occurring in the USA.

Fortunately, there were many pro-2A people who were able to shed some reason on it. Some of these points were:

  • Issues you (anti-gunners) are for have lobbies. Why do you not oppose them? Are lobbies evil or not?
  • Why do you feel the NRA is racist? (Apparently Ted Nugent’s opinions translate to the entirety of the organization.)
  • Who is the NRA made up of? (Answer: Between 5 and 10 million Americans willing to open their wallet and their junk mail boxes to support their cause).
  • For your causes, you (anti-gunners) get corporate support (such as Soros funded protests). Why is it that the NRA getting corporate support from related industry members vilified?

As I mentioned, I felt this was out biggest ‘win’ in the discussion. It became very clear that the answer to “Why is the NRA vilified” is “Because they are effective.” Based on the responses of many centrist viewpoints in the group, they felt the NRA and its members were unfairly targeted and vilified for supporting their cause.

Gun owners should have to ____________

I mentioned this one in last month’s post, and it remained prevalent throughout the month long project. The restrictions proposed, and the solutions offered seemed to largely revolve around this format.  ‘Solutions’ varied from carrying extra liability insurance (ensuring gun rights are only for the wealthy), to mandatory safety training (enabling anti-gun areas to impose very difficult testing), to waiting periods, to more invasive background checks, to even getting clearance from a psychologist, the solution was clear: gun owners must bear the brunt of freedom infringement for the mere feeling of safety in others.

One of the moderator’s favorite participants had an op-ed piece published in his local paper, suggesting that liability insurance be required for gun owners. It was heartening to find his op-ed received a near-90% disapproval to his ill-thought suggestions.

Built-in bias

The program was moderated such that only a few new topics were introduced each day, and conversation swirled around those. During this month, a homeowner used an AR-15 to stop multiple people invading his home. This link was rejected as a talking point. The same day, another gun control school walk out occurred, where one student was shot in the ankle. This article was rushed through to the top of the line and published.

The AR-15 link was rejected ‘because we already know guns like this can be used defensively’. But, don’t we already know school walkouts occur? Don’t we already know sometimes someone in a large group suffers injury?

While the conversation was free on each topic, the conversation was indeed steered by what topics were brought up.

Conclusion

I’ve come away with a somewhat hopeful feeling: That truth, logic, safety, and true freedom lie on the side of the pro-gun community. We rely on our training to protect us during an altercation, and the justice system to follow up. The anti-gun side relies on the justice system upfront to make them safe, but their disarmament goals ensure that failures within the justice system will continue to harm peaceable Americans.