A writer from Gun Digest contacted me about the Five Year Armed Citizen study TAC 5 year w tables I did a while back. He asked if I would give him a quote about it, so this was my reply.
“Analyzing incidents involving Armed Private Citizens, rather than LE/MIL situations, leads to different conclusions. Common discussion topics among Armed Private Citizens, such as equipment and caliber issues, rarely are the cause of Negative Outcomes. Negative Outcomes result from 1) lack of conceptual understanding leading to poor decision-making, and 2) lack of appropriate and necessary skills, techniques, and tactics.
Carrying and being capable of using a small gun adequately will yield much better results than owning a large pistol that isn’t carried or shot well. More criminals have been planted in the ground by .22s that hit than by .45s that miss.”
Periodically, I am asked to opine about the various plans available to cover the expenses of a legal defense after a personal protection incident. This article by Marty Hayes covers it in much better detail than I could explain.
The [plans] can be categorized into four types:
2) Insurance backed
3) Pre-paid legal services
4) The Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc., a membership organization.
Fair disclaimer: I am a member of ACLDN and have a relationship with them.
Taurus Manufacturing has officially released the Curve, a small, polymer .380 pistol with a distinct curved frame, meant to comfortably wrap around your hip or thigh when carrying inside the waistband or in a pocket, respectively.
Here’s my gripe about ‘range tests’:
First, some quick range notes: After handling and firing the Curve I can straight away can [sic] tell you that the 100 or so rounds I fired through the gun fed well and the empty cases ejected perfectly. The long trigger was decently smooth and the recoil, while sharp, was manageable. And not only was the gun a reliable shooter, it also hit where I aimed, thanks in part to its integrated light and laser.
How much meaningful information does that convey? What distance, what was the target, what speed, what anything? How about putting a trigger pull gauge and ruler to it? Then we might know what ‘long’ means, in a couple of dimensions.
I’m actually interested in doing a comparative test of the Curve. Anything that has generated so much hate without even being seen, handled, or fired deserves a second look. Perhaps I’ll do something even slightly scientific, such as firing it on the same course of fire as a full size gun or perhaps a competitive gun, e.g., an LCP.
If they’re going to fire 100 rounds anyway, why not do something meaningful with it? For example, “I fired the XX State weapons carry qualification course with the Curve and an LCP. With the Curve, I was able to make a score of XX in a time of XX. The LCP gave me a score of XX in XX seconds. So, XX produced better results, for me, than the XX. Then I fired the same course with a Glock 17, which produced XX results. So the smaller guns gave up XX percentage of performance.”
Larry Potterfield, of MidwayUSA, even developed his own analysis protocol for testing handguns. His procedure is not what I would use but I give him credit for doing something original, measured, and somewhat informative.
C’mon guys, this isn’t that hard if you think about it just a bit. You don’t have to put on a Top Gear show to provide some kind of meaningful information for people to use in decision-making.
This is the second installment of my Negative Outcomes series. I’ve already been taken to task for commenting about imprecise language and I understand where he’s coming from. The fact of the matter is, however, that we, in the instructional community, take a lot of our subject matter knowledge for granted.
Frequently, I hear comments to the effect that NRA courses go too much into depth about things like the individual components of ammunition, etc. I disagree with that completely. The influx of new gunowners requires that we educate them thoroughly. Many of the new owners have never operated any hand held device more complicated than an electric toothbrush.
As I commented to a student last night, I previously had a student in a class who was using a Sig pistol. He had owned and been shooting it regularly for almost two years. When I told him to ‘decock,’ he looked at me and said “What does that mean?” He had never used the decocking lever before and didn’t understand what its function was. He was actually a good shot, too. But elements of the pistol’s manual of arms had never been explained to him.
When dealing with deadly weapons, we can leave nothing to chance, including our vocabulary and students’ understanding thereof.
There are so many times in a day when you have to let people into your space. I think we have to accept it. My tolerance changes radically when I’m in transitional areas like parking lots etc.
It’s important to take context into account when speaking about SAP. There’s been some commentary about my post that I must not live in a big city or ever take the subway. Since I grew up in Chicargo and live in Atlanta, that’s not true. I ride public transportation quite often, even when I don’t have to.
The comment about transitional areas is on point. Rarely are we concerned about being robbed or beaten up in line at Starbucks. The video of the dude getting mugged in NOLA recently is more our concern and representative of the positioning I’m getting at.
While public places, e.g., the coffee shop in Lakewood WA, and crowds are not totally risk free, I think my colleague William Aprill would say our risk profile for violent crime is lower there than in transitional areas or when we are alone. The criminal incidents that I personally have had to deal with all fell in those two categories. Either positioning or awareness, along with will, allowed me to control those situations. Controlling the situations allowed them to conclude without anyone getting shot or stabbed, which is my desired outcome.
In fact, one of my encounters took place at a MARTA train station in Atlanta at 9 a.m. I was alone and midway through the station on my way to work, so both criteria (alone and in transition) were met. It was what I call an “opportunistic meeting engagement.” Three individuals coming from another direction apparently liked the fact I was on crutches and in a boot from a recent surgery. It was the first time in my life I experienced Clint Smith’s saying “Predators look at you like you’re food.” But I saw their look, change of demeanor, and change of direction from the full width of the upper platform while they were still about 15 yards away. That immediately put me into Condition Orange and I initiated my reaction. Because I had seen them so far away, I had time to react on my terms, rather than theirs. There was no escape for me since I could barely hobble on my crutches. So I faced them, put my hand in my overcoat pocket on my snub revolver and said to myself “Guys, this isn’t going to turn out the way you think it is.” I don’t believe I said it out loud and no words were exchanged between us. At the moment I thought it though, the Marine Corps Drill Team could not have done a better Right Flank, March than those guys did, in unison. Clearly, this was not their first rodeo.
What happened was that they targeted me in an obvious fashion. When a sketchy character, or three of them, changes direction and begins to close with you, it’s an indicator that an incident is developing. As a police officer friend says “Nothing good is coming of that.” However, I failed to act in the way I was supposed to. In John Farnam’s vernacular, I ‘failed the interview.’ Most criminal predations on the street begin with an evaluation by the predator as to whether it has the potential for being a successful victimization, as opposed to turning into a fight. Economic predators are not generally interested in a fight. They know all too well that there is an element of chance in every violent encounter. That is not to say they won’t fight, but rather given the choice between a victimization and a fight, they will pick the victimization.
So our object is to see them early enough and understand what is happening such that we can set ourselves up to fail the interview. The criminal then moves on to find another victim. I would prefer that they pick an undercover police officer and then get dealt with.
However, what happens afterward is not my problem. I am not a police officer; my weapons and tactics are for protecting me and mine, not society at large. That’s the way our legal system is structured; I understand it and abide by it.
I’m not so sure about the empirical reality of the Farnham [sic] idea: “The person most likely to shoot you is YOU. Why? Because you’re always there.” It just seems incorrect to say, so I am wondering what the broader idea he is conveying is supposed to be.
Since John’s statement generated some incredulity, I will elaborate on it. His comment referred to the often atrocious gunhandling he sees, not people committing suicide. Improper and dangerous gunhandling regularly results in gunowners turning themselves into casualties, although not necessarily fatalities.
The reason I included John’s quote began with a statement he made in the first DTI class I took. The statement was “Eighty percent of police officers who are shot shoot themselves.” Once again, he was not referring to suicide but rather negligent shootings where the officer injured himself or herself. Whether that is still true, I don’t know. I do know that holster manufacturers are sued numerous times each year, unsuccessfully, by police officers who shoot themselves in the process of drawing or holstering. However, given the multiplicity of reports I have about private citizens who accidentally shoot themselves, I wouldn’t be surprised. It happens a lot more often than we like to think. The two casualties I have had on ranges I have been running were self-inflicted non-fatal wounds. One was a highly trained and experienced police officer who had a momentary lapse of concentration and technique.
Here are a few recent examples:
This is an excerpt from a detailed incident report by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners.
Officer A was off-duty and inside his residence. Officer A was seated alone in the living room of the residence cleaning and putting tactical lights on his personally owned handguns. Officer A indicated that he had completed cleaning his .40 caliber Springfield Arms semi-automatic pistol and during this process he had inadvertently seated a partially loaded magazine and released the pistol slide that chambered a round. Officer A mistakenly believed the weapon was not loaded, so he pulled the trigger and caused the weapon to discharge.
Officer A received a through and through bullet wound to his left hand just below the little finger. The bullet traveled through Officer A’s hand, then through the back of a couch [the interior decorator in me thinks it was a sofa and not a couch], and the living room wall adjacent to the couch, entering the garage and striking the metal back of a clothes dryer before falling to the garage floor.
Officer A was treated and released from the hospital the day of the shooting.
The BOPC found that Officer A’s use of force was negligent, requiring Administrative Disapproval.
Unfortunately, some incidents prove fatal. Gunshot wounds to the upper leg can sever the femoral artery, resulting in rapid death. RIP Sgt. Davis, who was an experienced officer with 8 years of service, including on SWAT.
This video of Tex Grebner shooting himself contains explicit language. I give him credit for taking responsibility and showing how easily this can happen.
There is an image I see used on Internet websites that makes me cringe whenever I look at it.
That’s a good way to shoot yourself in the support hand. The number of beginners I see doing this at IDPA matches is legion. I warn them immediately to stop doing that. If your holster doesn’t allow you to draw from it with one hand, then you need to stop using it immediately and get a new holster.
If IDPA and USPSA Production Class do nothing else other than to train people to draw their gun without putting their support hand on the holster, that’s a great contribution to the shooting community. For those who say IDPA isn’t training, I would counter that it’s excellent training in safe gunhandling. There’s nothing like getting disqualified for a safety violation to make the point that someone’s gunhandling needs work.
So the point of John’s Master Lesson is twofold:
- Proper gunhandling has to be at the forefront of our minds anytime we handle a firearm. Firearms are mechanical devices; they do no more and no less than we make them do. Consequently, they are relentlessly unforgiving of carelessness and/or stupidity.
- Pointing your weapon at yourself can have serious consequences. Some holsters force us to point our weapons at ourselves. But placing your hand in front of the muzzle when the pistol is out of the holster is a prescription for an unhappy outcome. One of my personal peeves is the devices that shotguns shooters put on their shoes to rest the muzzle on. I have some really nasty pictures of feet with holes from shotguns in them. Those people are unlikely to ever walk right again. Similarly, taking a high performance anti-personnel bullet in the hand at point blank range is unlikely to enhance your ability to play the piano.
Reflecting on Shunryu Suzuki’s comment – “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few,” some frequently ignored or overlooked fundamentals taught by people who have been at this a long time come to mind. My research on ‘bad shootings’ has reinforced some things to me.
Jeff Cooper – The Four Rules
1. ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED.
2. NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DESTROY.
3. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET.
4. BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEYOND IT.
The person most likely to shoot you is YOU. Why? Because you’re always there.
• Muzzle direction is the primary safety; always has been and always will be.
• Identify your target at night, preferably with a flashlight, before you shoot it.
The Most Dangerous Man
• Shooting isn’t always the optimal solution.
• Holding someone at gunpoint isn’t as easy as it seems.
Ken Hackathorn –
It’s a downrange world
Avoiding the problem (implied task) is a lot easier than fixing the problem, either at the moment or in the legal system later.
A few people drink from the fountain of knowledge but most only gargle.
Gun Digest recently published an online article about holster retention systems. The article begins by referencing Safariland’s retention holster rating system as being the standard. Unfortunately, the author, Corey Graff, should have done a little research and contacted Safariland about their retention rating system before writing about it.
That system, devised by Bill Rogers, the inventor of the modern security holster, has nothing to do with the number of mechanisms that the holster has. Corey’s interpretation is a common misconception in the industry. Safariland’s system is based on a series of hands-on performance tests in which the holster is physically attacked and tested. The holster must pass, in sequential order, each test to achieve a given level of rating. A holster can have several mechanisms on it and still not achieve any rating at all if it doesn’t pass the hands-on (literally) tests.
In point of fact, the Blackhawk Serpa holster pictured in the article will not pass even a Level I rating test, regardless of the number of mechanisms it might possess. The reason is that the holster must remain attached to the belt while attacker is pulling on it with a given amount of force. Because of its relatively small mounting area where the screws attach to the belt plate, the entire Serpa holster will pull off the belt when subjected to a Level I test. Unless, of course, the holster itself breaks, which has also been known to happen, when subjected to a hands-on test.
I won’t go into the plethora other unsatisfactory aspects of the Serpa holster.
Unreinforced leather holsters, such as the Blackhawk leather slide holster pictured, will not pass a Level I test either. They lack rigidity in the strap holding the pistol in place and the pistol will simply pull out of the holster when subjected to a significant amount of force. This is why true security holsters must be made from a rigid synthetic material.
It’s interesting that the author used Blackhawk holsters as illustrations despite the fact that they don’t pass the Safariland rating system. What is up with that, I don’t know, but it’s certainly poor research and understanding of the topic. Since this article is an excerpt from a book about Concealed Carry Holsters, I certainly hope the rest of the book is better researched and based on factual information rather than common misconceptions.
Pointing guns at people you have no intention of shooting to force compliance with your demands is poor business.
–Ed Head in his article Pistol Provocation
I agree with this statement and feel it can be even further amplified from the perspective of training people how to Control a Confrontation. The statement can be, and has been, misconstrued by the inexperienced into “I believe that the first time any bad guy should know you are armed is when he sees the muzzle flash.” As a philosophy, reluctance to display a firearm without firing is a mistake. The majority of criminals are looking for a victimization not a fight. The display of a firearm by the intended victim, along with the obvious intent to use it if necessary, is an indicator that the victimization has the potential to turn into a fight. That’s not what economic predators are looking for.
Let’s consider the Policy (556.80) of the Los Angeles Police Department for DRAWING OR EXHIBITING FIREARMS.
Officers shall not draw or exhibit a firearm unless the circumstances surrounding the incident create a reasonable belief that it may be necessary to use the firearm in conformance with this policy on the use of firearms.
Stated as a positive action when adjudicating Use of Force incidents, the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners generally uses language similar to the following, when the Drawing/Exhibiting was ruled justifiable.
The BOPC determined that all personnel had sufficient information to believe the situation might escalate to the point where deadly force may become necessary. Therefore drawing the weapon was in policy.
Armed Citizens need to practice two Presentations; 1) Challenge and 2) Shoot. I use the term Presentation in a broad sense because the pistol might be in a container other than a holster, for instance, someone at home may have a pistol in a container or safe. The principle still applies. While some trainers would say this violates Hick’s Law, the fact is that the effect of Hick’s Law has been proven to dissipate when training in the various options has been undertaken.
Challenging should be done from a Ready position that does not involve pointing the pistol at the aggressor, just as Ed states. If the necessity to shoot arises, the pistol is then brought on target and fired.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no time difference between bringing the weapon onto target to fire vis-à-vis having the weapon already aimed at the target. Nor is there any demonstrable difference of starting out with the finger on the trigger v. off the trigger.
My experience is that very few gunowners practice the Presentation to Challenge nor firing beginning from a Challenge position. This is a major weakness in their skill sets. Challenging can easily be practiced at home with an inert (blue) gun. Anyone who is serious about improving their skillset should own a bluegun of their real defensive gun.
There is a caveat to this doctrine. A friend of mine lives and works in Central America as a security consultant and trainer. His counsel to me is that, in his experience over the past three decades, Latins rarely find the presence of a pistol unsettling “unless they are looking down the bore.” With the heavy influx of Central Americans into the United States lately, this may be a consideration.