Shot Timers Aid Training

If you’re like me, you probably have thought, what does anyone need a shot timer for?  I realized that they were used in shooting matches, etc., but I don’t think I ever appreciated what a useful adjunct they are to training.  Like the Go Pro camera, mentioned here,  the Shot Timer is an excellent addition to your range day, if for no other reason than to see what your response times, draw times, and second target response times are in a crisis situation.  This is a shot timer:IMG_6276

A shot timer, for those of you who do not know, works by measuring the overpressure wave from a gun’s discharge.  They can be used in two ways.  In IDPA and other competitive shooting events, after a shooter announces ready, the buzzer on the unit is triggered and the response time and split times between targets is measured as part of the score-keeping that goes on.IMG_6281

When used for training, you can set a random delay up to 4 seconds where the shot timer, after being pushed, will wait a random interval before giving you the beep.  You then fire whatever drill you want, and the result is whatever the result is.

This Friday I set up my range at the gun club with two targets at 7 yards.range1  I wanted to see whether “boarding house rules” was an effective strategy for me to use.  For those of you who do not know, boarding house rules say everyone gets a first helping before anyone gets seconds.  So, one shot to both, and then follow up shots.  After playing around a little, I determined that these rules are probably not going to work for me.  At 62 I am much slower on execution than I was at 19, and as a result, I am not going to shoot each target once, then shoot each target a second time.  Not and live to tell the tale.

So after experimenting, I applied the drill I recorded in an earlier post, and repost here:

Drill First Second Third Fourth
1 1.93 .28 1.2 .26
2 1.62 .24 .79 .23
3 1.41 .76 .59 .45
4 1.47 .20 .93 .44

Average First Shot:  1.60

Here is what some of that data look like:IMG_6280

It took me an average of 1.6 seconds to draw my weapon and get off the second shot, and an additional .3 seconds to get off the second shot.  The third shot came in around .85 seconds, and the fourth about .37 seconds.

I would stand closer to one target than the other, and, applying what I learned in the Army that the guy closest to you can kill you quickest, I shot the closest, and then the next closest with two rounds each.  I then set the range up with targets at 5 and 7 yards, offset somewhat.

I did the same thing, with roughly repeatable results.  The information derived from the shot timer has been very helpful.

And, while we’re on it, a word about targets.  This is one of the targets I use.IMG_6269 You can see the other in this video:

 

As you will notice, the targets are not flapping in the wind.  They stay put.  I bought these in bulk from Omaha Targets.  They are all-weather, durable targets, and they are a dream to staple to the range beams for practice.  It is rare when a product exceeds my expectations.  Usually, I am disappointed.  I can’t tell you how many targets have torn while being stapled to the target posts.  Not these!  These stay put, don’t tear, and are easy to both put up and take down.  The selection on line is truly amazing, with lots of different photo targets similar to those shown above.  Pretty much any kind of target you can think of, they have.  They truly get the job done.  I will be buying more of these from this company!

 

 

Semper Paratus

My guess is that if  you heard someone hum the first few lines of The Navy Anthem “Anchors Aweigh” you’d recognize it immediately.  The same for the Marine’s Hymn and the Air Force song about the Wild Blue Yonder.  Likely you’d get the Army song too.  But there is likely one you would not get, and that is particularly sad, because its words speak volumes about what they do.  You can listen to it here.

The song is entitled Semper Paratus, Latin, which means “always prepared.”  In my view it is the perfect motto for the concealed carrier.  At every moment of every day, we should be semper paratus.

I don’t know what your experience as a concealed carrier has been (I hope you’ll share it in comments), but I have noticed I am seeing a lot more things than I used to.  I find myself looking at men’s waistbands for telltale bulges, and at how close to a person’s midsection their hands tend to stay.  I’ve found myself looking at anyone who adjusts their shirt or clothing, because as a new carrier, I found myself doing that constantly (a habit I had to force myself to break).  I no longer park close to vans, and even if it is the only slot left in the parking lot, I won’t park between two vans or trucks.  It simply limits visibility way too much.  At night, I park under the street light in the parking lot, even if means I am parking further from the door.  Even if the door is closer, if there is limited light, or I cannot clearly see people around the door, I won’t park close.  I also look around 360 degrees.  When you are engaged in mechanical tasks (like opening or locking your car door) your mind is engaged in something, and you’re vulnerable.

I carry a flashlight at dusk or thereafter, everywhere.  So that when I return to my car from the store or mall, I can check around the car.  At night, I walk with my wife to the car door and I put her in.  I do not let her get in by herself.  No, it’s not chivalry so much as making sure she can’t be harmed by someone looking to steal the car, or her purse, etc.  Light not only causes vampires to withdraw, it usually sends criminals scurrying back like the cockroaches they are.

In order to do these things, and make them work for you, these things have to become a habit.  If they do not become a habit, if you do not pick up that flashlight and put it in your pocket before you leave the house, then you are left with good luck determining your fate.  Luck is a finicky mistress, and she’s just as likely to shiv you as kiss you.

Because I do forget sometimes, I have flashlights in the car.  I rarely use them now, but they are there specifically for the times I do forget.  And I try to remember to change the batteries every six months.  I actually put it on my calendar for work.  Reminders are very good things!

I have also been bad about forgetting my cell phone, an absolute no-no for concealed carriers.  You want to be the one who calls 911 (because you become the victim); you do not want a bystander to describe a crazy man with a gun.  And, even when they recognize you’re the victim, people say and do really stupid things.  I do not believe in trusting my fate to others. So I now store my phone with my car keys so that I can’t get one without getting the others.

Habits are important things. Not only can they help insure your safety, when all else fails, they can insure you survive.

Recently I read an article where someone recommended doing a “press check” before holstering the weapon and going about your business.  I wondered “what the hell is a press check?”  Turns out that it is the act of pushing your pistol out of battery to see if you have a round chambered (apparently necessary in Glocks because they do not have a chamber-loaded indicator).  Most people advise against this tactic because taking your gun out of battery is never a good idea, and it may not go back fully into battery without some force.  I have never done a press check.  The reason I have never done it is because I know, at all times, whether a round is chambered.  Additionally, I treat every gun as if it were always chambered with a live round, even if I have just finished cleaning it and it has no magazine, and even if it can’t fire without a magazine, because that’s how I trained.  So the idea that I would need to “check and see” that the gun is loaded is just crazy.  The gun on my hip is loaded, even if it isn’t loaded, because all guns are loaded.  If you carry a weapon and do not know whether there is a round in the chamber, you should not be carrying a weapon.  You should be in a nice quiet environment with helpful nurses and that lovely juice that makes you sing happy songs.

Pasteur is rumored to have said that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  I think a better way to say that is the bad luck is what happens when lack of preparation meets calamity.  In almost every instance where someone gets hurt, “bad luck” can be traced back to a failure to prepare or plan.  Exhibit A: Nicholas Cruz, anyone?

Situational awareness is important, but good habits and good preparation on a daily basis are also very important.

Do you have a habit of cleaning and oiling your weapons every week to two weeks even if you haven’t fired them?  Do  you inspect your holster every week for signs of wear, weak connections, or weak clips?  Do you periodically switch magazines so that you’re carrying a magazine with a strong spring rather than one that’s been weakened by remaining loaded since Queen Elizabeth was coronated? Do you fire your personal protection loads at least once a year and replace them?  These are things you should put on your calendar.

Early on in combat medic training in the Army we were told to always inventory our medical bags every day to make sure that (a) everything we needed was there; and (b)  that some other schmuck hadn’t taken something out, when we were not looking, that we might need later.

About 12 weeks into my first deployment we got a call for a company first sergeant who was having trouble breathing.  We went to the unit, walked in, and found that he was no longer having trouble breathing: he had quit.  We started CPR, and my partner realized, much to his annoyance, that he had forgotten to get his ambu bag (the device we use to breathe for people).  He had to do mouth-to-mouth on the guy until I could get mine assembled and over to him.  To this day the guy can’t eat creamed corn!  It was only like 30 seconds, but he said it was the worst 30 seconds of his life.  It taught me a valuable lesson.  After that, I never borrowed his ambu bag again, and I returned the one I had borrowed the day before but did so after he went to brush his teeth.  I do not believe he ever was any the wiser.  But I was.  I learned a valuable lesson.

If you want to be successful as a concealed carrier, identify the habits that you need to be successful.  Incorporate those habits into your daily life.  And train as often as you can.  Life is short.  Don’t make it shorter by being a putz.

Sig Sauer P320

It was back in December when I bought my last firearm.  At the time I got a S&W M&P 2.0 in 9mm, the compact variety, and really liked it.  I enjoyed shooting it at the range, but in training I learned that the safety was a clear impediment in terms of rapid action in an emergency.  During training at least twice I found that the safety hung me up, and kept me from getting off a shot on time.  At one point my time was 3 seconds to draw.  Yikes!  That’s head to the morgue time.

So, although I have a Glock 19 (and a 17, and a 34, and a 22, 26, 27, and 21) as well as a Sig P229, ultimately I determined I wanted to go in a different direction.  I am, at some point, going to sell my .40 calibers and standardize on the .45 and 9 mm platforms.

Sig Sauer recently won the Modular Handgun System contract (some suggest they stole it away from Glock) with the design of the P320.  While the M17 handgun is certainly different in some respects than the P320, it nonetheless has enough of the same material that you could argue you were carrying the same pistol that Special Forces carried.  While I do not brag about what I carry or suppose that my choice is any better or worse than any others, the chief reason I chose the P320 was that if the Army has them, they are going to be around for a long time, and so will the parts.

Now, at the same time it is worth noting that shortly after it was released in the civilian market, someone decided to drop test it.

Okay, who does this?  Who says, “Geez, I just spent $800 on this gun, let me drop it and see what happens?”

If dropped in the right way, the P320 would fire if there was a round in the chamber.  I am exceptionally careful about firearms and firearms safety, but even I drop things from time to time.  The last thing I wanted was a gun that was going to go bang without me pulling the trigger.

However, reputable gun stores had already had their stocks retrofitted by the end of the year last year, and in March, when I went to get my P320, the model I received was already retrofitted.

Because the P320 comes in a variety of configurations, including the updated X-Five version (a race gun coveted by many IDPA contenders), I had to decide whether, and to what extent I wanted a stock unmodified gun, or one of the more custom jobs.  After talking with my wife about it, I decided on the P320RX which comes in the compact version with a Romeo1 sight built in.  My wife, in her uncharacteristically snarky manner, suggested that to hit the “broad side of a barn” I had better get the reflex sight.  I would note, she can shoot the antennas of a gnat’s ass as 100 yards, so I decided to listen to her.img_1362

As it happened, I bought the gun the very day that the worthless, no good, rotten, lying Republican in Name Only Rick Scott signed the “Screw the 18 Year Old Voter Act” into law, banning sales to those between 18 and 21.  Federal law already prevented 18 year olds from owning pistols, but this now prevents them from buying them in Florida.

But not from possessing them.

Which means, of course, that anyone who wants one will simply drive across the state line to Alabama or Georgia and buy their AR-15 there.  Yes, we should probably not bother telling the pearl-clutching, weak-kneed “We’ve got to DO SOMETHING” crowd that federal gun laws allow sales to these prohibited buyers in contiguous states.

Anyway, apparently the FDLE had to shut down and reprogram their computers and it took two hours for background checks to go through.  That was very frustrating.  But eventually I was able to take my new P320 home, install the battery, and play with the weapon in dry-fire mode.

One thing I really liked was the degree of variability in the light intensity on the Romeo sight, and the auto-shutoff that turns the sight off when not in use.  That will surely save some CR1632 batteries down the road.

The first major problem I discovered, much like when I purchased the Smith, was that there were not a lot of holsters designed for the 320RX.  I finally found one on Amazon from Concealment Express that should be arriving shortly.  I am looking forward to reporting on how it works.

Range report will appear here soon!

In Fear For Your Life

One of the things that constantly amazes me is how examples of bad defensive gun use somehow get bronzed and polished into examples of excellence.  One of those is found here on Brietbart.  While I get the general idea that this is an example of someone standing up for themselves, the entire sequence demonstrates how completely stupid it is to have a firearm and not be willing or able to use it properly.

Several weeks ago I wrote here about I took a course from Central Alabama Firearms Training LLC (www.caftllc.com) and how it was a tremendous help to me.  I detected errors in my approach that could get me killed, and got some excellent coaching.  I took that training (even though I have my CCW and didn’t need it for that purpose) because I believe you need training every two years to stay on top of perishable skills.  I noted that because they use Go-Pro cameras, I incorporated them into my own training, and how that has helped me improve.

Watching the surveillance video from the beginning, it’s clear that the woman behind the register is in condition white.  Otherwise, when a shotgun-weilding robber entered the store she would have grabbed the gun, aimed and fired.  Instead she is calmly eating something and then HOLY SHIT HE HAS A SHOTGUN!

Okay, genius, maybe this is why you need to be in condition yellow at all times, particularly in a place that is like a robber-magnet.  Holding up a liquor store is, after all, nearly a cliche.  She quickly goes for her gun but then is stopped by the gun-toting, hoodie-wearing thug.  Let me also note that this is why its called “conceal and CARRY.”  If it isn’t on your person, you can’t get to it to use it!

Twice more she goes for it, twice more she backs off, and the ignorant thug manages not to find and take the pistols.  Let me say that again, he knows or suspects there are guns, and he doesn’t take them.  My bet: he has had lots of time in the hospital to regret this course of action, and as soon as he gets out of prison he is going to kill the next store owner he robs.

Yeah, it’s not until around the 40 second mark that both mom and daughter grab their weapons and do the first smart thing they’ll do today: they hide.  I am good with hiding.  I am good with not chasing the bad guy who has a scatter-gun.  That’s smart.  What is NOT smart is thinking that a gun has magical powers and will protect you.

But the certifiable genius who decided to rob the store comes back around the counter one last time and takes at least one round center mass, then she fires another couple with doubtful effect.  I am not sure what the round count is here, but I think by the time she finishes with Mr. Hoodie, her gun is empty.  File that under “thank God.”

Let me editorialize for the benefit of smarter criminals.  This would be the time to run like hell, not stay around and see if you can outgun a superior force of women who, despite being ineffective marksmen to this point, have at least managed to alter your anatomy and affect your physiology.

Let me editorialize for the benefit of smarter store-owners.  It is a full 1 minute 12 seconds before the genius daughter calls 911.  Survival would have dictated an earlier call.  One might even have considered  – I don’t know – a burglar alarm?

Now, back to the action.  After chasing the robber outside the cage, she gets shot at, and has to go back behind the cage.  Instead of just leaving, Mr. Hoodie pursues. And, at 1:22 in the video we see him take two more in the guts from the wheelgun Big Mama has.  But he isn’t done yet.  Shot, wounded, probably seriously pissed at this point, he decides to wrestle Big Mama for the gun.  If you’re counting rounds, like I was, Mama is either out or has 1 round left.  So he’s grappling for the empty gun!  Is this guy a Mensa candidate or what?

At this point the daughter enters the fray, seeing that Big Mama is perilously close to getting a .38 sandwich.  She manages to violate the third and fourth rule of gun safety.  After watching the kabuki dance between Mr. Hoodie and Big Mama, while her mother is directly behind the bad guy, she fires into his back.  The daughter is not exactly going to pass the Mensa entrance exam either!

Now seriously pissed, he wrestled the gun away from Big Mama and hears the Dead Man’s Click when he fires on an empty chamber at the daughter.  Then he manages to stumble around and nearly destroy the place as he recognizes, finally, that he is about to bleed out and die.  He left a nice blood trail and the cops found him fairly quickly it looks like, working on his Darwin Award application.

Okay, now, I have pointed out a number of screw ups here, but let’s look at the biggest mistake of all: not being willing to do what it takes to survive a gunfight.  My guess: neither mama nor daughter had firearms training, nor ever done any preparatory work to establish their will to win that kind of confrontation.  They trusted that a gun alone made them safe.  This is one point where I agree with the gunsense idiots. A gun does not make you safe.  Using a gun quickly and with deadly effect makes you safe. Simply put, in defensive firearms instruction, you learn to stop the threat.  If the bad guy falls and drops his weapon, fine.  But if he doesn’t, you keep shooting until he is not a threat any longer.  If someone is pursuing, armed or not, he isn’t after first aid, as this thug demonstrated.  Big Mama’s second mistake was letting him get his hands on the gun.  She should never have let him get that close.

Defensive shooting doesn’t mean you execute the attacker.  It means you have to stop him.  At 0:54 Big Mama should have kept shooting until the fight was out of him.  And if she chooses to pursue him, as she did, she needs to shoot to make sure he doesn’t have any more fight left in him.  At this point, with him having access to a shotgun, it’s “kill or be killed.”

In essence, this video demonstrates a situation peculiar to many women, and God bless them for it.  They do not want to be the instrument of someone’s death.  Certainly that’s not all women.  Women can be psychopaths too.  But criminals sense that peculiar female weakness and that is exactly why Mr. Hoodie pursued Big Mama here.  He knew she didn’t have the stomach to kill him, and he knew he had the stomach, and the will, to fight her for the gun and kill her.  But here’s the rub: the idiot couldn’t count.

If there is anything that absolutely must be drilled into women when teaching a firearms course it is that predators smell prey and thrive on displayed weakness.  They either cue on pheromones, or on facial expression, or on language, and they see someone who has a gun, not because she wants to defend her life, but because she wants to scare off someone.  And predators are risk takers.  They seize the moment.  They are unmerciful.  Once in possession of the gun, he would have killed her.  There is no question in my mind.

I have talked at length with my wife about what it takes to actually shoot a human being, about how huge that decision is, and how difficult it is to make, but how necessary it is to do it if the situation requires it.  Would I hesitate to pull the trigger if I confronted a man with a  shotgun?  Hell no.  But, yeah, I worry about my wife, God bless her.

GoPro: Shooters Friend

Okay, I admit it, I’m a geek.  I always have been, and I probably always will be.  They are likely to bury me with my Ipad (assuming the nursing home people do not take it away).

As I mentioned yesterday, I have started taking my GoPro to the range when I go.  I thought I might offer some advice for those of you who want to try this and have not done so yet.

First, choice of camera.  I had one of the original GoPros (GoPro 3) and I bought every single available attachment for it.  By the time I finished with it, I had more junk than I could carry.  There were problems with this original GoPro (pictured here)

DSC_4624

One problem was bulk.  It was giant and clunky and no matter where you put it, it got in the way.  And even though there were a dozen or so accessories for the damned thing, there was nothing that put it at eye level, or even close except for a device that was designed to strap it to a bike helmet.  Now, if you go to the range with a bike helmet on, they are liable to ask you to head back to Happy Acres and call the men in the white coats if you don’t leave quietly.  So the bike helmet thing was a non-starter.

There was a head mount. (pictured)

DSC_4627

Again, the problem here is that wearing this in public makes you look a little like the Borg from Star Trek.  Not my favorite look!

One potential solution was the chest strap.  The chest harness wrapped around your chest and held the camera out in front of your chest, and just like the other mounts, it was clunky and you couldn’t go to high compressed ready without bumping it.  Here it is mounted over a chair with the GoPro3 attached so you can see it.

DSC_4628

Not very practical.  So strike two.

Then, following a trip to Italy, my GoPro got lost, and my wife bought me a GoPro Session.  Unlike the others, this one had a built in battery you couldn’t change, and roughly the same length of running time.  More importantly, it was lightweight and much much smaller (pictured here)

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Along about the same time the ball cap mount came out.  (pictured here)

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It fits on the brim of your hat, only slightly above your eye level and it provides a good view of the action if you adjust it properly.  On its initial break in run at Disneyland, I must confess to having some great views of dark ceilings because I did not adjust it right.  And this is pretty dumb because with the GoPro app on your phone you can get a dynamic view of what your camera is seeing so that you know whether you are capturing your shooting or getting a really good view of the sky.  Once you have the camera adjusted, assuming you don’t mess with the hat, you should be set for video capture.

One really good thing, as I have already pointed out, is that a camera records everything you do right, and everything you do wrong.  Unlike setting up a video camera and walking away to do shooting, you simply tap the button on the top of the Session (the newest version is the Session 5) and start shooting.  You get the shooter’s view of the shooting (very much like the bodycam video you see every now and then).  In retrospective analysis it makes it much easier to see what you’re doing wrong and also what you do well.

I believe its important not to judge your shooting solely on the basis of targets with holes in them.  Anyone can punch holes in paper given enough time.  Being able to accurately see what you’re doing, how you’re holding the firearm, etc, is a huge advantage in trying to figure out why, for example, all of your bullets are grouped on one side of the target. (pictured here).

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So, that’s my take on GoPro as a shooter’s aid.  I hope you’ve found it helpful.

Good Guy With A Gun

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun”

– Wayne LaPierre, NRA

 

“I never see a ‘good guy with a gun:’ I see a human more likely to exacerbate a tragedy than to stop it.”

– Charles Clymer, HuffPost Blogger

Media Silence

I find it interesting that one of the things that consistently seems to happen in the media is that defensive gun uses, where a concealed carrier or home owner uses a firearm to stop a violent or criminal enterprise, is vastly underreported, yet every other shooting is magnified and followed by puff pieces like the one above by Charles Clymer.  Clymer asserts that because of his “infantry training” and the Army’s strict training protocols, only monotonous training, repeated ad nauseum, can prepare a person to shoot to kill.

Pardon me while I laugh out loud at this ridiculous joke!  Putting aside for the moment the fact that human life is not precious to the criminal class, and adopting the idea that Clymer seems to suggest that us “normals” are squeamish about shooting people, let’s deconstruct this nonsense.

There are two components to taking a human life with a firearm.  The first is marksmanship, the ability to hit what you aim at.  While it indeed takes a few days to master the M-16, as Clymer says, remember that it is a weapon capable of automatic fire (though now in burst mode).  Still, it is not some complex machine that requires 18 full days of training to be able to use effectively.  I taught my wife how to shoot it in about two hours.  Also of note, Adam Lanza didn’t have that training and he certainly mastered his AR-knockoff while killing dozens.  So don’t give me a bunch of crap about “normal people” being unable to operate a sporting rifle.  That’s just crap.  Clymer knows it, which makes it worse.

With handguns the training required to aim, shoot and hit a target can be done in 8 hours according to pretty much every state that issues handgun permits.  While I do not think that is an appropriate amount of time personally, and believe that true safety comes from repetitive training and a dedication to mastering responses to stressful situations, I am not crazy enough to believe that someone willing to carry a firearm is somehow incapable of deploying it successfully, even under stress, because deploying it doesn’t always mean firing it.  Moreover, great training programs for civilians, like this one, exist.  They teach fundamentals as well as tactics in an integrated environment, and perhaps most importantly, simulate a defensive shooting situation for the students.  Yes, that’s right, to complete the course you have to demonstrate that in a defensive encounter you have the skills to perform the tasks necessary to save your life.  But again, the marksmanship aspect of defensive shooting is pretty basic, and most gun fights occur between 6 and 10 feet (and in most cases, even with trained law enforcement, half the shots miss).

Skills are perishable and require practice.  But they can be learned.  Clymer is hiding the facts by using the M-16, a fully automatic rifle, to mask his hidden agenda on gun control.

Clymer’s second assertion is that the psychological aspects require long monotonous training to make killing second nature.  Again, lets put aside the gang-bangers from MS-13 who view life as cheap, and the thugs who shoot down children and old people.  They are not a part of this discussion because Clymer doesn’t want (or is afraid to take) their guns.

He says normals are not capable of becoming killing machines.  Uh, yeah. And THANK GOD!

We are not at war in America.  Killing does not need to be second nature.  It needs to be a last resort.  We do not want people desensitized to taking human life.  If we have to shoot, we shoot not to kill another human being, but rather, to protect our life or the life of another. We are not a nation of shoot-first-ask-questions-later Neanderthals, we are a nation of laws.  Clymer doesn’t get this, principally because his a liberal and principally because he would be happiest when all power is concentrated in Democratic hands.

The idea that “the good guy with a gun is a myth,” however, is debunked almost daily with stories of people defending themselves or others, and many times without ever firing a shot.  Consider the case of Derek Meyer.  Meyer was driving along, minding his own business when he saw a crazy man kicking the living shit out of a cop.  The officer had to be hospitalized with a fractured eye socket.  We’re not talking love taps here.  This is Brutus giving Popeye the no-spinach treatment!

Meyer is a lawful concealed carrier.  He gets out of his car, points his gun at the criminal, and orders him to stop the attack.  The bad guy runs.

Here is where the story gets good, and Clymer’s point gets totally destroyed.  If killing were truly second nature, Meyer would not have issued an order, he would have shot the guy.  In that limited situation he might have been justified if he believed shooting was necessary to prevent death or serious injury to the police officer only.

But he didn’t shoot.  He used words first.  Yes, like a civilized person, he told the guy to break off the attack.  And the guy did.

What happened next?  The bad guy ran.  And what didn’t happen next?  Our hero did not shoot him.

Why?  Because the bad guy presented no threat, and because Meyer was trained to react defensively, not like Hitman 47.  No shots fired.  Bad guy arrested afterwards hiding under a trailer.  Cop got medical treatment.  A happy ending.

Interestingly the police lauded Meyer saying that the event could have ended badly for both the criminal and the cop if Meyer had not acted.

This is what happens time and again.  The cops on the street do not fear civilians who legally conceal and carry.  They fear those who break the law, because if you won’t obey a law that requires you to get a permit to carry a firearm (or that forbids you from owning a firearm) a law against shooting a police officer is not going to stop you either.

So, the next time you hear that the “good guy with a gun” is a myth, direct them to this article where they can see for themselves that the good guy with a gun is not a myth, it’s the duty of law abiding citizens who choose to undertake it.

 

Here are a few more “good guys with guns” stories I found on Google in about 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Duty to Retreat

Do You Have A Duty to Retreat?

Probably not.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it as a practical first step in self defense.

Most of the jurisdictions in the United States where there are adequate concealed carry laws have abandoned the age-old doctrine of requiring retreat before using deadly force.  Alabama is a good example:

Ala.Code 1975 § 13A-3-23: Use of force in defense of a person.

(a) A person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he or she may use a degree of force which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose. A person may use deadly physical force, and is legally presumed to be justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense or the defense of another person pursuant to subdivision (5), if the person reasonably believes that another person is:

(1) Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force.

(2) Using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling.

(3) Committing or about to commit a kidnapping in any degree, assault in the first or second degree, burglary in any degree, robbery in any degree, forcible rape, or forcible sodomy.

(4) Using or about to use physical force against an owner, employee, or other person authorized to be on business property when the business is closed to the public while committing or attempting to commit a crime involving death, serious physical injury, robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, or a crime of a sexual nature involving a child under the age of 12.

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(b) A person who is justified under subsection (a) in using physical force, including deadly physical force, and who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in any place where he or she has the right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.

 

While there are other exceptions in the statute, the bottom line is that you can use deadly force against perceived deadly force when there is a threat a reasonable person would presume required it.  The law in Florida and other “stand your ground” states is similar.  But, that does not mean that retreating is not a sound practical way to ensure you don’t spend the rest of your life in the gulag.

Why do I say that?

Because, for the most part, the police do not make charging decisions.  The police are unelected.  They do not answer to the electorate; only their bosses do.  More importantly, the prosecuting attorney, who does answer to the public, is the entity that makes the decision to charge or not charge an individual with a gun-related crime.  This is true for all levels of government, except the FBI when the defendant’s last name is Clinton.

So, what does that mean?  It means that there are a lot of people in elected office who get elected because they’re perceived as “tough on crime” who are in fact charlatans.  They tout conviction rates: “97% of our cases resulted in a guilty plea or conviction,” they say.

Yeah, about that.  When Jethro gets caught with 14 pounds of weed, his attorney plea-bargains possession with intent to sell down to simple possession, a misdemeanor in most cases, and Jethro gets credit for the 14 days he spent in jail before his mama could make his bail.  Jethro walks out a free man.  But – hey – it’s a conviction, right?

When Tyrone goes out and decides to stop Jimmy from selling dope on his street corner, and puts Jimbo in the hospital with high-velocity lead poisoning, it gets sent to the prosecutor as assault with intent to kill, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and maybe a few other charges like use of a firearm in a drug-related felony.  But Tyrone didn’t have any dope on him when he got arrested, and the police might have been unable to get Jimmy to testify, because Jimmy has his own plans about justice.  So this mayhem gets reduced to simple assault and Tyrone gets probation.

Tough on crime!  You betcha!  Except, not really.

Exceptions

Now, Susie Homemaker is baking cookies for the Boy Scout Jamboree when Cletus decides he needs to sample the goodies (and I don’t mean the cookies).  Cletus breaks in, grabs a knife off the kitchen counter, and comes after Susie, who stands her ground with a .38 Chief’s Special.  Cletus goes down for good.

Stand your ground, right?

Maybe, but maybe not too.

The police will be sympathetic, and will write a report that does not recommend prosecution.  But the prosecutor is running for re-election, and Susie is black, Cletus is white.  There is a racial overtone to the shooting that has absolutely nothing to do with the crime.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  It doesn’t matter.  In a “duty to retreat” state where there is a duty to retreat, it often applies and courts in those states often go through legal gymnastics to find that duty.

Take the case of Patton Gainer versus Maryland.  In that case Gainer was involved in an altercation in his own house with his sister’s boyfriend.  Patton was 16 at the time.  The other boy was older and known to carry a .44 magnum.  When the victim went out for more beer, he returned holding his hands behind his back and saying that he “had something for” Patton, and that he was going to kill him.  Patton shot him when he saw the hands move.  Two slugs from a .22 rifle beat out a non-existent .44 magnum (which reminds us of the first rule of gun-fighting: bring a gun).

The state knew the evidence was in conflict with the sister calling it murder and Momma and the boy’s brothers calling it justifiable.  So an energetic prosecutor brought murder charges and then argued against a self-defense jury instruction.  Under Maryland law, while a duty to retreat exists in public, it does not exist in the home (Maryland has by case law adopted the castle doctrine).  As a result, the appeals court reversed the conviction.

Could You Have Retreated?

So, if Susie/Cletus happens in one of those jurisdictions the first question will be “could you have retreated?”  And if she could have gotten to the bedroom and locked the door, then she is likely to be prosecuted for murder, even though it is likely that Cletus would have plea-bargained a sexual assault case down to simple assault and walked in 13 months.  The prosecutor will argue that Cletus was shot because he was white, or black, or purple, or gay, or whatever because the idea that people defend themselves is somehow foreign to people who surround themselves with armed guards all day long.

So, while there may not be a duty to retreat under your state’s law, and while that duty may be slowly receding in state law generally, retreat is often the best option for several reasons.

Home Invasion

Let’s take a home invasion setting to begin with.

First, if you can safely retreat (that is, if you can get you and everyone you love into one room), and barricade yourself in, you can call 911 and let the police handle the matter.  Sure, the thief may get Grandma’s ring and that $50 you had in the candy jar, but he’ll also likely get caught and you won’t get hurt.  Second, you won’t have to worry about whether you did the right thing by shooting him.  Third, if he comes through the barricade, and particularly if there is more than just you in that room, then it is obvious he is after more than property, and any action you take at this point will be hard for a prosecutor to quarrel with later.

Your Property

Suppose you’re on your front lawn and your crazy neighbor comes swinging a ball bat.  If you can make it inside and lock the door, again, that is not only safer for both of you, it establishes that you had no intent to harm him.  If he bashes in your front window and comes after you anyway, then you have to shoot.

Out in Public

Now, you walk up to the bank and you notice a masked man pointing a gun and demanding money.  He is pointing a gun right at the teller’s head.  Do you enter and take him down?

Not if you’re smart.  If you’re smart you call 911, give your location, describe the situation, and if possible, get cell phone video of the robbery and the person doing the robbery.  Hide.  If the robber doesn’t shoot anyone you can’t be sure he was going to (or that will be the argument the state will make).  And what if this is a simulation for the bank employees?  So, you wait for officers to arrive and then you retreat further.  They get paid to do that kind of work; they know the risks and the tactics.

If the robber starts shooting people, that’s another story.  Now you have a reasonable fear that he will harm others, and now you may act.  But keep in mind, you don’t know who is working with the robber, and you may be placing yourself in both legal jeopardy and personal jeopardy by getting involved.  That’s especially true if you shoot a bystander by accident.  That’s especially true if you use a round that over-penetrates.

If your life, or the life of someone you love is not personally in danger, it is always better to call for help.

Heroes Often Fail

Like Gordon Lightfoot told us, “Heroes often fail.”

Many will argue that helping others is the reason that they carry.  Indeed, in many jurisdictions intervening to stop a robbery is considered heroic.  But it is also important to remember that this isn’t the way things always work out.  In the San Antonio mall shooting last year, the mall had signs prohibiting gun owners from carrying.  It didn’t stop the guy who stopped the robbery, and it sure didn’t stop the two hoodlums who were committing it.  The headline in the USA Today said Shopper Who Shot Suspect Not Allowed to Carry.  You had to read nearly to the end to find out that it was a policy of the mall; the man had a valid permit.  Under Texas law, a sign has the force of law if it meets the state standards.  Still, I would rather be guilty of a Class C Misdemeanor than dead.  That the mall complained about the concealed carrier and not the robber should certainly convince people not to shop there.

Training

When I train, I always train to move back from the target saying “Stop, I’m armed, I will shoot.”  Obviously if you have time in an emergency it is a good thing to do this.  But, defense of life comes before defense in court.  Or said more plainly: you have to survive to be prosecuted.

The Bottom Line

Retreat is a good idea if you have time.  It is a good idea to practice this in range sessions if allowed, and if not, saying “Stop!” to yourself before you pull the trigger is a good way to build it in to your routine if you’re in an indoor no-draw range.