Category Archives: Serious Mistakes

Defense of Others


‘Self-defense’ is only one subset of Personal Protection. Defense of Others is the other subset. September’s Armed Citizen column of the NRA Journals Shooting Illustrated – September 2021 has two incidents involving Defense of Others. Both occurred in public places outside the home. One was successful, the other Not So Much. Defense of Others situations often do not fall in the 3 shots, 3 seconds, 3 yards paradigm.

In the successful incident, a man and woman were in a Madera, California Wal-Mart parking lot. The man was attacked, the woman pulled out her pistol from her car, fired one round, and dropped the attacker in his tracks at 10 yards. In the words of commentator Raymond:

In the Not So Much successful incident, Calvin ‘Mad Dog’ Gonnigan shot at three people in Chicargo who were celebrating Independence Day. A nearby Concealed Carry Licensee shot at ‘Mad Dog’ but only peripherally wounded him several times. ‘Mad Dog’ left but then came back to murder one of his victims by shooting her in the face and even further seriously wounding the other two victims. Eventually, the POlice arrived from the District Headquarters, which was a block away, and took ‘Mad Dog’ into custody.

Photo: Chicargo POlice Department

Madera County is largely rural. It’s a likely bet that the woman had practiced her aim before. Chicargo, being an urban area, is unlikely to result in much practice. That’s probably why ‘Mad Dog’ did most of his shooting at close range and probably why the CCL was not particularly successful. The Illinois qualification course can be passed by only hitting one shot out of 10 at 10 yards and that only has to hit an arm of the silhouette target.

For those who carry a gun not only to protect themselves but also to protect their loved ones and friends, getting in a little structured practice can be useful, maybe even life saving. Indoor Range Practice Sessions has a series of drills that could be done even in Chicargoland. And Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with your purchase.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Serious Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part III)

Teen finds mom shot to death after stray bullet hits her in her sleep

Police said the 22-year-old neighbor told them he had an ‘accidental discharge’ while he was loading [sic] his firearm. His attorney, Jeff Sliz, said his client was cleaning his 9 millimeter pistol at the time.

‘He didn’t have the magazine in it, but he was cleaning it and apparently there was a bullet [sic] in the chamber and it accidentally discharged and went through the wall,’ Sliz said.

My colleague Chuck Haggard made the comment: “I see people using random walls as a ‘safe direction’ way too often.”

I believe it was Mas Ayoob who said many years ago that the only reasonably ‘safe direction’ in an apartment or motel is the bowl of a terlet. The combination of water, porcelain, and pipes are far more bullet resistant than two sheets of drywall. Shooting it would be a mess but less likely to kill someone else than sending a bullet through a wall into an adjacent unit..

The man who fired the shot has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct. Odds are that he will do some prison time. So much for the idea of joining the Navy and becoming a diver.

It’s hard to imagine what life will be like for the son who found his mother dead. Let’s face it, a close range bullet wound to the head was probably an ugly wound. That’s a psychological scar that will be with him as long as he lives.

This is an example of why I believe the commonly taught sequence of ‘magazine out then clear the chamber’ is incorrect. I lock the gun open first thing, then remove the magazine, and finally visually and physically check the chamber for no ammunition. The magazine is not the source of ammunition, it’s the source of follow-on ammunition. The chamber is the source of the fireable ammunition and should be dealt with first. But that’s just me.

There are so many Negative Outcomes that will result from one Serious Mistake. It’s very sad.

Click on the image to purchase my book Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Suspect Held at Gunpoint (temporarily)

Sequence of events

  • Perp establishes Line of Business consisting of checking car door handles for unlocked cars to burglarize
  • Perp finds gun in unlocked car and steals it
    • “The firearm used by the suspect in this murder was found to be stolen from an unlocked vehicle in the same neighborhood just eleven days prior.” –JSO
  • Eleven days later, perp is carrying said stolen pistol while burglarizing the car of a USCG Servicemember
  • Servicemember detects the burglary in progress
  • SM calls 911
  • SM gets own pistol and confronts would-be burglar, ordering him to remain in place until POlice arrive
  • Perp refuses to comply and instead draws stolen pistol
  • Perp fires several shots and hits SM at least once, incapacitating her
  • Perp departs
  • POlice arrive and ‘attend’ to SM
  • SM dies from wounds
  • POlice identify perp
  • Perp turns himself in
  • Family, friends, and fellow SM are heartbroken
  • Perp is charged with murder in the second degree
  • Family, friends, and fellow SM are still heartbroken

Negative Outcome for everyone involved

“Don’t go looking for trouble not expecting to find it.” –John Farnam https://defense-training.

Possible tactical alternatives

  • If you feel compelled to challenge a criminal, do so from a position of cover (concealment does not count as cover). If no cover is available, do not challenge.
  • Use a high intensity flashlight to illuminate and blind the perp before issuing the challenge.
  • If your car door is locked, illuminate the perp with your flashlight from a considerable distance without issuing a challenge.
  • At your own residence, have a large bear-spray type canister of OC close at hand. Spray the perp, without warning, at the maximum range of the container. Be sure to saturate him from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. Then immediately seek cover if you’re not already behind it.
    • “Begin to attrit the enemy at the maximum effective range of your weapons.” –Infantry maxim

Facebook link to Sheriff’s Office Press Conference

We strongly recommend citizens lock their vehicles and absolutely remove their firearms when exiting. Please do not provide criminals with easy access to a gun that will only be used in more criminal, and as in this case, violent acts.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

Very sad. RIP Airman Schollaert

Serious Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part II)

The Unintentional Discharge (UD) into the Florida Representative’s office Bullet fired into Representative’s district office, which caused six people to UNsubscribe from my blog, provides a good backdrop for further exploration of the topic of Unintentional Discharges. Part I Serious Gunowner Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part I) began the discussion of definitional issues. This post will explore the categories of UDs in Serious Mistakes and make some observations about preventing this undesirable phenomenon.

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make divides Unintentional Discharges into three categories. There’s a fourth category that needs to be added because of its implications and long term effects. The first category in Serious Mistakes is UDs that cause some kind of property damage. The shot into the Representative’s office is an example of this. No one was physically injured but there was obvious property damage. Coming into your office and finding a bullet hole in the wall is not how anyone wants to start their day. Such a discharge can occur in tactical situations with undesirable results. The LAPD Board of Police Commissioners refers to these as “Tactical Unintentional Discharges (TUD).”

According to Officer A, after stopping his/her police vehicle near the location of the call, he/she utilized his/her left hand to open his/her door and remove his/her safety belt while simultaneously utilizing his/her right hand to unholster his/her handgun. Once the handgun was out of its holster, he/she held it in front of his/her body in a close-contact position, while simultaneously using his/her left hand to grab the top of the pistol’s slide. He/she did this in order to safely control the handgun with his/her left hand while freeing his/her right hand to place the vehicle in park and turn off the ignition. After turning off the ignition, Officer A began exiting the vehicle while simultaneously transitioning the handgun back into his/her right hand. As he/she did so, he/she unintentionally placed his/her finger on the trigger, causing the handgun to discharge a single round into the driver’s door.

LAPD Board of Police Commissioners

Don’t think that TUDs are limited to POlice service only. The recent episode of the attempted home invasion in California where the assailant peed his pants is a good example. While narrating the video of the incident, the homeowner stated “That was a misfire” when referring to the first shot of the gunfight. It wasn’t a ‘misfire,’ it was an Unintentional Discharge and it escalated what had been a verbal confrontation into a gunfight.

The second category is self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The pictures and videos of such unfortunate incidents are so numerous that they can’t even be listed adequately. This article lists nine celebrities who unintentionally gave themselves lead injections. Within the gun community, Tex Grebner is one of the most famous self-shooters. Tex deserves credit for admitting his mistake and posting a cautionary video about it.

The worst of these three categories is Unintentional Shootings. This doesn’t mean Mistaken Identity Shootings but rather when an Unintentional Discharge results in injury or death to another person. The repercussions of such an incident can be severe. A very sad incident recently occurred in Oklahoma in which a boy was ‘playing with a pistol’ in his living room and had a UD. The bullet travelled through the wall to the adjacent room and struck his mother in the head, killing her instantly. The boy was so distraught that he then went outside and killed himself with the same pistol. Interior walls in most homes are as bullet resistant as a sheet of paper, which is to say, not at all.

A fourth category needs to be added to the Second Edition. It is UDs that cause no reportable property damage. For instance, at a range into the walls, ceiling, backstop, or off into the sunset. This is probably the most common UD of them all, occurring thousands of times EACH DAY. The major problem with these non-reportable UDs is that they insidiously create a ‘practice scar.’ That scar is the subconscious thought that UDs don’t have consequences. The scar is a bigger problem than is generally realized.

Best Practices to prevent Unintentional Discharges and minimize damage

Practice keeping the finger outside and above the trigger guard whenever you’re not prepared for the gun to fire. Rule 3, keep your trigger finger above the trigger guard as a default position. Placing the finger on the front of the trigger guard used to be considered acceptable but we have come to understand that it’s not much better than being in the trigger guard.

“That was a misfire” from the California ‘Home Invader Pees His Pants’ incident most likely resulted from having his finger in the trigger guard while chambering a round.

For guns that are not carried in a holster, some form of tactile indicator, e.g., Velcro, is worthwhile as an aid to keeping the finger in the proper position.

Velcro applied as tactile indicator for correct trigger finger position.

Smith & Wesson’s SD9VE is factory equipped with a tactile indicator above the trigger guard. This is a feature more manufacturers should emulate.

Muzzle direction is the primary safety. Always has been, always will be.

–Bill Rogers

Practice muzzle awareness at all times. Rule Two, keep guns pointed in the safest possible direction. Parts of your body or other people’s bodies are not on the list.

Complacency injures and kills. Many otherwise good and informative videos are ruined by lack of muzzle awareness.

The recent video of a Fourth World person shooting his hand during a wedding is an excellent example of why keeping the muzzle away from our hands is a best practice. The aftermath shown in the video is gory but this is the moment that immediately precedes the UD.

He removed the pistol from the holster, chambered a round, and then fired a shot in the air immediately before this. Most likely because he uses chamber empty carry, he forgot that removing the magazine after firing a round does not clear the chamber. As a consequence, his left hand will never be the same again.

Firearms are relentlessly unforgiving of carelessness, just like electricity. We don’t stick our fingers in electrical sockets “even when it’s not plugged in” because we learn at any early age that electricity, while a useful servant, can also kill. Firearms need to be given the same respect for the same reason.

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Note that Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with the purchase of any other book.

Bullet fired into Representative’s district office

Rep. Spencer Roach’s district office staff returned to work Monday to find a bullet hole in the building.

The shot entered the office feet from Roach’s desk.

Negative Outcome.

Serious Gunowner Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part I)

One of the categories of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is ‘Unintentional Discharges.’ A colleague texted me this question.

Would it be fair to say that most of the negligent shootings on ranges are when people are re‑holstering too quickly?

There are some definitional issues involved in answering the question. First, are we talking about ‘Shootings,’ i.e., an injury occurs, or ‘Discharges,’ where an unplanned discharge occurs that may or may not involve injury?

So far, I haven’t done a statistical analysis about Shootings, per se. However, my collection of images of extremity (hands and feet) injuries that are the result of self-inflicted gun shot wounds is many times larger than my collection of images relating to holster related injuries. It is worthy of note how gory the shotgun wounds through the foot are as a result of using those toe popper shoe attachments that are popular in the clay target sports. The injuries are similar to those caused by the M14 Toepopper Anti-Personnel Mine.

It’s sometimes difficult to tell in either case whether the injury occurred at the range or somewhere else. Whether the discharge occurred at the range or elsewhere may or may not be important, depending on your point of view.

My opinion is that, regardless of where they occur, holster related injuries are not the majority but they are the most publicized. The reasons are simple. First, they tend to be graphic injuries that lend themselves well to being posted and viralized on social media. Second, they are the most likely to occur where someone will capture an image or video. However, a video recently surfaced of a party in an underdeveloped part of the world at which an attendee shot himself in the hand. Nothing good comes of placing the muzzle of a pistol against the palm of your hand and pulling the trigger. His friend was very angry about the copious amount of blood that went all over his sandals.

Another definitional issue is the distinction between Unintentional Discharges (UD), Accidental Discharges (AD), and Negligent Discharges (ND). The Los Angeles Police Department Board of Police Commissioners draws a distinction between AD and ND as concerns LAPD Officers and considers each type to be a separate subset of UD. AD are caused by equipment failure, i.e., the mechanism of the firearm itself malfunctioned, which caused the Discharge. While this is rare, it does occur. By contrast, the BOPC defines ND as the result an operator error of a fully functional firearm. This distinction was made explicit in Categorical Use of Force Report 045-09 NON-TACTICAL UNINTENTIONAL DISCHARGE This report was in regard to an Unintentional Discharge by an officer while Outside the City.

A. Unintentional Discharge

The definitions for an Unintentional Discharge, both Accidental and Negligent, are as follows:

Accidental Discharge: The unintentional discharge of a firearm as a result of an accident such as a firearm malfunction or other mechanical failure, not the result of operator error.

Negligent Discharge: Finding where it was determined that the unintentional discharge of a firearm resulted from operator error, such as the violation of firearm safety rules.

LAPD Board of Police Commissioners

A third definitional issue has been raised by Marty Hayes, President of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. He commented that the circumstances of most Unintentional Discharges do not fit the legal definition of ‘Negligent.’ Given the firearms community’s preoccupation with the distinction between ‘clip’ and ‘magazine,’ his comment is particularly cogent. The possibility exists that a ‘Negligent’ Discharge might have to be defined in the context of Intentional but Undesirable Discharges (resulting in a Negative Outcome) rather than Unintentional Discharges.

Getting back to the original question, it is easy to make a simple numerical contrast relating to ‘Discharges.’ Observe the number of bullet impacts on the ceiling and floor of an indoor range. Almost every one of those was a Discharge that was unplanned and went somewhere other than it was intended.

I say ‘almost,’ because I was once asked to give a private lesson to a lady who literally shot her revolver like Antonio Banderas in Desperado. Most likely several rounds of each cylinder hit the ceiling. While the shots were Planned, they did not impact anywhere near the target.

There are something like 4,000 shooting facilities in the US, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Given the number of unplanned impacts at Atlanta area ranges alone, it’s likely that Unplanned Discharges occur thousands of times daily throughout the US. However, almost all of those cause only property damage or no damage at all. So, while we can probably safely say that Unplanned Discharges are relatively common, Unplanned Shootings are relatively rare.

Part II of this series will explore the types of UDs in Serious Mistakes, discuss definitional issues further, and make some observations about preventing this undesirable phenomenon.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Note that Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with the purchase of any other book.

Consistency (again)

In my book, consistency does not mean 70%, it means 100%. I’ve written about it before but it’s worth mentioning again.

That’s the reason I prefer evaluation protocols that involve short 100% standards that are done repetitively. I would rather someone know exactly what they can do to a 100% standard and stay within those boundaries than have two rounds out of six going into someone else’s house.

Two NRA standards come to mind.

  1. the Red, White, and Blue Levels of the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting
  2. the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program – Defensive Pistol I

Naturally, I love the 5^5 standard I developed, based on Gila Hayes‘ original 5 times 4 idea.

Work on learning to do one thing consistently well, then move on to more Cool Kid Cosplay stuff.

Package Deal Update

I’m gratified that Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection has been well received. One reader sent me the following comment, which I found quite gratifying.

I went through the book quickly and my initial impression is that it is superb. Tremendous intellectual effort and incredibly sage and mature counsel on the subject. It’s also incredibly in-depth and thoughtful.


I want to spread the word as far as I can so I’ve now included it in the Shooting Drills Package

The Package still includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make, also.

I appreciate the loyalty of those who have already purchased the Package, so I will be sending previous purchasers a download link for the book.

Two non-gun related books heavily influenced me in writing the book. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli and Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom are both very insightful books about topics that aren’t often discussed.

Without knowing a proper name for it, I’ve been working with ‘small data’ for decades. I think Lindstrom would have approved of the Deloitte & Touche Real Estate Capital Markets Database that I created years ago. It started out with a few notes in Word and eventually grew into the broadest analysis of Wall Street’s entry into the commercial real estate finance business that has been done. Even the Wall Street soothsayers were only tracking 20 percent of the data in my database.

Contrary to the popular opinion that “the plural of anecdote is not data,” Lindstrom’s work shows that the opposite is actually true. All of Gary Klein’s work about decision-making is based on small data. Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, one of the books in the Package, is based on the concept of small data.

The collection of books in the Package presents a very comprehensive view of using firearms and other tools for preservation of life. Tools, skills, philosophy, and pitfalls are all covered. Those who are serious about our Art will find them useful reading, I am sure. I hope you will consider purchasing the collection.

Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection

My new book is finished and available on my Payloadz store for download as a PDF.

Fighting is a ‘game’ of minds.

–Rich Grassi, Editor of The Tactical Wire

Mental preparation for Personal Protection using tools is what the book is all about. Mr. Grassi’s comment encapsulates that concept superbly.

This book is a collection of my articles and essays, some previously published, some unpublished, some published but no longer available. The focus is on the mental processes that lead to achieving Positive Outcomes and avoiding Negative Outcomes. Many of the articles reference actual incidents to provide context from The Real World™ for what would otherwise be hypothetical or theoretical topics.

As alluded to in the title, Self-Defense is only a subset of Personal Protection. Often the person being protected is not ourselves but a loved one, friend, or innocent bystander. While gunowners usually think of a confrontation occurring between themselves and a criminal, the fact is that we are usually around other people. The possibility that another person will probably be peripherally involved and perhaps in danger is high. This simple fact requires serious thought ahead of time because people do unexpected things under stress.

The book is organized into several sections. Each section contains a number of articles that pertain to a topic. In many cases, an article relates to several sections so the most appropriate category was used.

  • Mindset
  • Awareness
  • Know the Rules
  • Decision-making
  • Incident Analysis
  • Negative Outcomes
  • Appendix of shooting drills

No publication can be a definitive work about such a broad subject but my hope is to stimulate thinking about the complexity of the subject from a different perspective than usual. It’s 105 pages of discussion that often gets overlooked when we talk about Personal Protection.

If you would like to purchase a copy for only $7.99, here is the link.

As with all my books, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with your purchase.

BOGO on Tactical Professor books

I’m grateful to my subscribers who send me news reports about the Negative Outcomes gunowners encounter. The ones about children gaining unauthorized access to guns really make me sad, especially because some folks defend practices that lead to those tragedies. Consequently, the purchase of any Tactical Professor book now includes a free copy of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

In addition, I have reduced the price of Serious Mistakes by itself to $4.99. I’d make it free except that people only value things they pay for.

If anyone who has purchased any of my books would like a free copy of Serious Mistakes, email me through the About section above and I will send you one.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)