Category Archives: Serious Mistakes

No one is above the rules

One of the students involved in this went up and took the blank gun … from the instructor’s [emphasis mine] waistband and placed that against the instructor’s back and fired

Not the student’s fault. No one is supposed to have weapons capable of causing injury at such an event.
Either the school’s training protocols are incorrect or the instructor didn’t follow them. Either way, this incident is on the cadre not the student. This is a Serious Mistake on the trainers’ side. There are reasons we have rules about how to conduct Force on Force. This is an example of why. Fortunately, it appears the injury wasn’t serious but the incident is an example of how Negative Outcomes occur.
Guns are deadly weapons. We can never relax our vigilance around them. Thinking that anyone is exempt from the rules is “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Have a decent holster

Police responded to the scene and determined that a person who had a valid concealed firearms carry permit was seated in the theater and had accidentally dropped his firearm to the floor and retrieved and re-holstered it.

http://wfla.com/2015/09/07/tampa-police-respond-to-call-about-person-with-gun-at-movie-theater/

I have no idea what kind of holster this man had. What is clear is that the holster didn’t perform a primary function, to wit: keeping the gun in place. Who knows, it might even have been the crappy holster that inspired my Scam artists in the firearms community post.

POS holster NO

Keep in mind that when carrying a gun in public, eventually you will probably sit down. Make sure your holster doesn’t rely solely on gravity to retain the gun. When you sit or slouch, that’s going to stop working. Either a retention system or being fitted to the specific handgun is important.

When carrying a pistol, the gun and holster form a system. That system has to work in a lot of conditions other than what you will encounter at a gun shop or shooting facility. Have that fundamental reality as part of your purchase decision.

Safariland, Galco, and even Blackhawk make decent holsters. Well, some Blackhawks, anyway; my distaste for the Slurpa is well known. But I’ve never heard of a Slurpa letting the gun fall on the ground in a movie theater, so there’s that. There are numerous smaller manufacturers who make high quality gear, as well. One clue is that if it’s made from nylon fabric, you should probably choose something else.

Having to interact with Law Enforcement because your gun fell on the ground is a Serious Mistake. Don’t scrimp for a few dollars and put yourself in that position.

Scientific Theory v. Legal Theory

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. [Scientific theory] refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

For example, the theory of plate tectonics is a scientific theory. There is ample evidence, which is indisputable, that the surface of the Earth is divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales.

Scientific theory is much different than legal theory but those who casually study personal protection often confuse the two. “Legal theory refers to the principle under which a litigant proceeds, or on which a litigant bases its claims or defenses in a case.” Legal theory is much closer to being a hypothesis, in the scientific sense. In some ways, legal theories are not even hypotheses but are, in fact, merely speculation by an attorney.

We ignore this distinction at our peril. A recent court decision in Pennsylvania provides good examples of why. Among those with a casual knowledge of personal protection concepts, the phrase ‘disparity of force’ is parroted as an almost ironclad defense if a much larger person has been shot. However, ‘disparity of force’ is merely a legal theory that one’s defense attorney can raise at trial. While the defense might be bolstered in this effort by expert witnesses, the shooter cannot take it for granted this theory will have any effect on the outcome.

australianparrots-cropSimilarly, the concept of ‘shoot him to the ground’ is often blathered on about. This idea is rooted in the notion that ‘if the first shot was justified, the rest won’t matter.’ As can be seen in the Pennsylvania case, courts may find this idea unconvincing.

The Kimball case in Maine gives another example of how these two often regurgitated legal theories failed to sway either the jury or the court. “Kimball’s attorneys argue Cole made a mistake by not instructing the jury that it could find that Kimball had been adequately provoked by Kelley, who was 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, after being repeatedly struck as he retreated away from Kelley.” The Maine Supreme Judicial Court found this argument unconvincing and rejected it. Merrill Kimball, 74 years old, will spend the rest of his life in prison, an unpleasant prospect. The fact he fired three shots rather than just one was raised at trial by the judge.

There are other legal theories I periodically hear that, while they sound good, similarly cannot be counted on to prevail in a courtroom. We need to be cautious about using potential legal theories an attorney could raise in our defense when formulating the doctrine we will use for our decision-making.

The law is not logical and does not necessarily ‘make sense’ to the uneducated. We are best served by being knowledgeable, rather than speculating, about what it is or assuming what we think it should be. The one assumption we can make is that nearly everything we read on the Internet about the law is wrong.

chinese whispers

For those who carry weapons of any kind, including personal weapons (hands, feet, etc. as the FBI defines them), obtaining some real legal training is well worthwhile. Law Of Self Defense, Massad Ayoob Group, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, and other organizations provide information, not speculation, about what we can and cannot do in our defense and the defense of our loved ones. The cost is about equal to one hour of a criminal defense attorney’s time; that’s a good tradeoff.

Note: I am not a lawyer and by no means am I giving legal advice. I am merely pointing out fallacies in thinking that I often observe.

Fair disclaimer: I have taken training from Law Of Self Defense, Massad Ayoob Group, and am a local affiliate trainer for the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network.

Standards (Part V – Know the Rules)

Deputies: Homeowner arrested after fatally shooting intruder in shower

The man went inside and confronted another man he found in his shower, deputies said. The homeowner left after the two exchanged words.

‘He returned home, retrieved a firearm, came back over to the residence and fired multiple rounds into the shower … killing the intruder,’ said Mason County Sheriff’s Lt. Travis Adams.

The homeowner called 911 and told dispatchers that he had just shot and killed an intruder, Adams said.

It’s not clear how long [the intruder] had been inside the home, but detectives don’t believe the homeowner gave him any warnings before he fired his gun, they said.

Deputies later arrested the homeowner for second-degree murder. They believe he had ample time to call for help when he went back home.

The odds are that the shooter will spend a significant portion of the rest of his life in prison. This is a Negative Outcome. It’s a clear example of how foolish the “I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house” ideology is.

I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house.

Bad idea

When I posted the link to the story on my Facebook page, one person replied that he SHOULD have been allowed to kill the intruder. My response was: “No, adjusting our response to the context of the situation is what keeps us from being savages.” Usually, it makes me cringe when news stories refer to someone being ‘gunned down’ but in this case, I think it would be appropriate. What the shooter did was a savage act of unnecessary lethal violence. It wasn’t motivated by fear for his safety or the safety of his loved ones; rather, it was a senseless expression of emotional outrage. We shoot people only when we have to not because we want to.

Another person commented that it was his property and the intruder had committed the offense of breaking and entering. The question was why wasn’t this a Castle Doctrine case. The Castle Doctrine is not an absolute defense. Reasonableness of your response will almost always be applied as a test of the response’s legality. Gunning someone down while they’re taking a shower isn’t likely to be viewed as ‘reasonable.’ As Massad Ayoob put it in the linked article:

Yes, your home is that castle. However, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to install an execution chamber.

The number of people who own firearms or other deadly weapons and yet haven’t the slightest clue about the legal ramifications of their use is astounding. Know the Rules needs to be a standard of our conduct just as much as the physical ability to use the weapon. What you might think the rules are or should be is irrelevant. The actual rules are all that are important.

It used to be that reliable information about the legalities of personal protection was hard to come by. Not anymore. There are numerous readily available sources of information about the law. Without leaving the comfort of your home, several good sources are available.

For the lack of reading and understanding a book, the Washington shooter will pay dearly. His legal fees for the trial will most likely cost him everything he owns and he’ll still probably go to prison.

I recently attended the Law Of Self Defense Level I and II classes. They were an excellent legal education resource, tailored specifically to the State I live in, Georgia. The law does not necessarily make sense nor does it have anything to do with what you think it should be. The cost of such training is minor compared to the cost of a trial or even just being arrested on a charge that is later dropped. The optional simulator exercise at the end of the day was also a sobering demonstration of how poorly unpracticed people tend to shoot under stress. LOSD classes are available all over the country and are specifically tailored to the laws of the State they are given in.

LOSD certificates

A benefit of membership in the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is the training DVDs provided with membership. Once again, you can learn a great deal about the appropriate and inappropriate uses of forces without having to leave your living room.

Don’t guess, don’t listen to the foolishness you read on Internet Forums, and don’t make decisions based on what you think the rules SHOULD be. Invest at least a little of your resources and find out what the rules really are. It’s true that most situations are fairly cut and dried and work out legally for the defender. The issue is that when things go bad, they tend to go really badly. The rest of your life can easily be at stake. Very few of us would look forward to spending decades in the can (prison) without a Man Lock by McGard.

McGard Manhole ad crop

Perhaps the most unintentionally funny advertisement ever.

Also, if you’ve taken a State CCW class, the one hour briefing when your eyes glazed over doesn’t count as any kind of meaningful legal education. Don’t confuse that with education that actually teaches you how to apply the law to your personal situation.

Fair disclaimer: I was a guest of LOSD for the classes and didn’t have to pay for them. However, no promotional consideration for my recommendation was offered nor accepted by me.

Endnote: The intruder in Washington was probably a confused drunk. That’s not going to go over well for the shooter, either.

Pre-election Day product blowout sale

I don’t know what going to happen on Tuesday but I do know that if The Evil One is elected, a lot of people will be buying guns. Some of them will be your friends and family.

Since many of them won’t be  familiar at all with firearms, I’m making a special offer. The Pistol Practice Program and Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make combo set is only $20 now on my webstore. Very few people are interested in training and they often won’t listen to you but maybe they’ll listen to me if you give the CDs to them. I’m discontinuing production of physical products, so when these are gone, that will be the last.

I’ve also reduced the price of Glock 17 ALS holsters to only $20, so if they buy a Glock they don’t have to use a crappy holster.

Doing some cleaning, I found a few more copies of my Secrets of the Snubby DVD. These have been reduced to $15 on my webstore.

secrets-dvd

Maximum shipping for any order is only $10, so this offer is a great way to get some Christmas shopping done and promote firearms safety for your friends and family.

To order any or all of them visit my webstore.

Sheepdogs almost get bitten

[Seven soldiers] said they had witnessed a disturbance between [the couple] in a parking lot, and they said they intervened. They said they believed they had deescalated the situation and began to walk back to their vehicle.

Police said Gallegos and Garzes are boyfriend and girlfriend. As the soldiers started to leave, they said Garzes [the girlfriend] ran to her boyfriend’s truck and pulled out a handgun.

She handed it to Gallegos [the boyfriend], and the soldiers told police he began firing the weapon.

Pair arrested after firing at Fort Hood soldiers

One possible strategy in the context of personal protection is ‘being a hero.’ This is one of the underlying motives for ‘sheepdogism.’ However, it’s useful to remember that the highest award given by our country for heroism is the Medal of Honor, which is often awarded posthumously.

 

Problem solving v. decision-making

In the context of personal protection, I find this highly relevant.

Never bring the problem solving stage into the decision making stage. Otherwise, you surrender yourself to the problem rather than the solution.

– Robert H. Schuller: American pastor, motivational speaker

From Nightingale-Conant

How does that apply to us?

“I’m going to shoot anyone I find in my house.” That’s repeated so much by gunowners, it has become a meme. It’s a perfect example of bringing problem solving (gunfire) into the decision process (how to best protect my home and, by extension, my family). As I bring up on a regular basis, doing so periodically results in Negative Outcomes.

We make many decisions ahead of time, and that’s generally a good thing. What we have to be careful of is thinking like a hammer in search of a nail.

hammer-and-nail

Dryfire drills and objectives

Over the years, I have designed dozens of different dryfire drills for my practice sessions. The first was for a dryfire VHS tape that I produced almost 20 years ago. Frankly, the session and the tape weren’t that good but it was a start. I just kept creating and refining more of them. Now I have a menu of options to choose from each day. Most of them are recordings that I have on my computer and/or my cell phone.

Having a library of pre-made sessions accomplishes a number of things for me.

  • Keeps me from getting bored. Since I’m close to finishing my second run of 1000 Days of Dryfire, that’s really important. Let’s face it, having to do the same thing for 1000 days would make it hard to complete the 1000 days. It’s human nature to get bored and we need to accept and anticipate that.
  • Having some short sessions makes the 1000 days manageable. A number of my regimens are less than 5 minutes, including setup. Otherwise, I’d probably end up missing a day due to scheduling, fatigue, or other factors. If you want to design some longer sessions like Ben Stoeger or Steve Anderson, that’s great. It’s good practice and I encourage it. However, you should have at least two ready sessions of five minutes or less duration that you can fall back on when you’re busy or tired.
  • If you’re a little fatigued, doing a short session helps prevent practicing bad form. Better to get 30 quality reps and end it there rather than doing a longer session and overlaying 70 bad reps on top of 30 good ones.
  • Designing short sessions helps me re-focus my long term goals periodically. I shot IDPA heavily for over a decade and a half.  During that time, my dryfire sessions were designed around that activity. Doing a lot of dryfire was one of things that helped me win six State Championships. When I became the Chief Instructor at the elite Rogers Shooting School, I created sessions that were more in tune with the skills I demonstrated and taught there. Now that I have become focused on Decision-Making and avoiding Serious Mistakes, my sessions revolve around those objectives.
  • Two or three short sessions can be combined into a longer one. For instance, I could combine a timed accuracy oriented session, such as the one I created based on the LAPD Bonus Course, with a Serious Mistakes session, such as flashlight practice.

Think about your goals and what the skills that relate to them are. There are numerous references about dryfire on the Internet and YouTube. My colleague Greg Ellifritz made some very pertinent comments to me recently.

It’s so easy to be good at shooting in today’s world.  It takes so little effort to obtain knowledge that was completely cutting edge (and not disseminated outside a very tight knit group of professionals) 25 years ago. A simple google search will provide all the information that took me 10-15 years of constant study to learn.

Just be sure to vet your sources to be sure that it’s not some goober who thinks pointing a pistol at a student’s face, or worse, shooting them, is okay or excusable.

Intervene and die – Part II

Police: Student stabbed to death on Georgia college campus

ATLANTA – A freshman at Fort Valley State University was stabbed to death after he came to the aid of some female students who were being harassed and groped by a man outside the school cafeteria, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent said Wednesday.

When someone is engaging in socially unacceptable behavior, it’s hard to tell how far they’re willing to take it. Unless you passed that Mind Reading 101 class with flying colors, you have no way of knowing.

And pulling your gun on someone who is ‘harassing and groping’ might not work out too well, either. This kind of situation is so touchy and nebulous that there’s not much upside and a great deal of downside.

Self-inflicted gunshot wounds and unintentional spouse/child/sibling shootings happen much more often than people think. So do Negative Outcomes from interventions.

If you insist on thinking intervening is a good idea, be smart about it. Years ago, I heard a struggle and shouting going on in the hallway of the apartment building I lived in. Even 25 years ago, I kept a large can of unpleasant chemical called Phaser by my front door. It was a can of CS gas the size of a small fire extinguisher. My plan was to open the door and hose everyone outside down with gas because I had no way of knowing who was whom and what was going on. When I opened the door, it turned out to be two Atlanta police officers trying to get the bracelets on some low-life. So I let them finish the job, without hosing them down, and then went back to my book.

Verbalization is for pre-fight situations. Once a struggle has begun, the time for talking is over. I didn’t plan to say anything to whomever was in the hall, I was just going to let them have it. But I did have enough decision-making sense to abort my plan when I saw who was involved. Subject identification is always necessary.

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

Proverbs 26:17

I’m not a particularly religious man but there’s a lot of wisdom in that saying. It’s been true for thousands of years and probably will be for thousands more.

Apr2016PressConferencePic_20

Campus Police Chief Kenneth Morgan (left) and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson at a May 4, 2016 press conference about the murder.

 

 

Intervene and die

Concealed carry gun-wielder intervenes in domestic dispute and shot dead in Texas

The concealed carry permit holder was trying to intervene in a domestic dispute, trying to disarm the fleeing shooter, trying to do [t]he job ordinarily reserved for police.

The man leaves behind a wife and three now fatherless children.

“Getting shot while intervening in affairs that are not yours” is an item I will now have to add to my list of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make. Having your wife widowed and your children orphaned for someone else’s issues definitely qualifies as a “Negative Outcome.” So many things can go wrong in an intervention that it’s almost never a good decision, regardless of what ‘sheepdogs‘ might think. Sheep dip is probably a better general analogy.

CatonWoodvilleLightBrigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade

‘He went into protective mode. He’s a father, he’s protective by nature,’ [the deceased man]’s pastor, Marc Lowrance, told reporters Monday. ‘And he thought he could help everyone involved, and tragically it went a different way.’

[He], Lowrance said, ‘sacrificed himself for this family, much the way he sacrificed himself for strangers today.’

The above comment accentuates why we need to think about and plan for events in advance. Think about what’s most important to you, your family or a stranger? Make your decisions in advance accordingly.”In every encounter, there is an element of chance.”

I often say “The conscious mind has a lifespan of one shot.” That’s not only the shot you fire but it can be the round fired by someone else. A common saying in the training industry is “You won’t rise to the occasion but will rather default to the level of your training.” While this is almost always used in the context of skills, it is equally applicable to decision-making. In that sense, this man’s death has similarities to the man killed trying to stop two active shooters in the Las Vegas Walmart in 2014. In the absence of decisions proactively made in our best interests and the best interests of our families, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.

The worst part of the whole situation is that he sacrificed himself for nothing in the situation. The shooter had finished his violent act, which inflicted a non-life threatening wound, and was trying to leave when Mr. Antell intervened and was killed trying to stop him. The best way we can honor his sacrifice is to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.