Several Negative Outcomes were brought to my attention this week. One was yet another incident of someone shooting their spouse, thinking it was a burglar. She died as a result of one shot to the chest.
The husband told police it was an accident. He told officers he woke up around 4:15 Saturday morning and heard noises in his house … He told investigators he grabbed his gun and when he saw a light on and someone standing in the distance, he took a shot. He said the person he ended up hitting once in the chest was his wife.
This sad situation bolsters my contention that when we pick up a pistol at home, we have to pick up a flashlight at the same time. That’s why I made flashlight shooting an integral part of The Tactical Professor’s Pistol Practice Program. To get some repetitions in and reinforce the habit for myself, I went to the range this week and shot the entire NRA Defensive Pistol I marksmanship program using a flashlight.
As a curiosity, I also used a timer instead of going by the PAR times in the program. The pistol I used was a Beretta Jaguar in .22 Long Rifle. Many in the industry poo-poo the .22 as a defensive tool but .22s have worked for me. An aspect of .22s I like in the practice context is that shooting several hundred rounds in one session isn’t punishing, either physically or financially. I shot it at my gun club but the way Defensive Pistol I is structured, it can be shot at just about any indoor range. That’s an aspect of the program I really like.
What I did was to have my pistol, my flashlight, and the timer on a stool in front of me. The target was downrange at the specified seven yards.
When the timer went off, I would pick up my pistol and flashlight simultaneously, assume the cheek position, and then shoot the specified string of fire. For the phases requiring loading the pistol on the clock, I picked up the pistol and magazine, loaded it, and then picked up the flashlight. After each string, I recorded my times. The NRA provides a scoresheet but it is set up for Pass/fail scoring, so I made my own scoring matrix.
I checked the target after each string to make sure that I had the required 100 percent hits. At the end of each phase; Pro-Marksman, Marksman, etc., I marked the target with blue dots to cover my hits.
For most of the program, I used the cheek technique.
The Expert phase requires shooting around both sides of the cover. When shooting around the left side, I continued to use the cheek technique. When shooting around the right side, I used the Harries technique.
The Distinguished Expert phase doesn’t specify shooting around both sides of the cover. However, it does requires eight runs instead of four, so I shot four around the right side and four around the left side.
I was able to maintain the 100 percent standard and got a good idea of my times to accomplish each Phase.
“The 3-year-old located a handgun that was in the vehicle and discharged a round which resulted in the striking of the 1-year-old,” said Sarasota Sheriff’s Office Lt. Vince Mayer.
This morning, yet another Negative Outcome was brought to my attention. In this incident, a young boy gained unauthorized access to his mother’s pistol, which was unsecured in her car, and accidentally shot his little sister. I use the term ‘accidentally’ because from the little boy’s perspective, it was utterly accidental. In the broader context, it was a training and doctrine failure. Fortunately, her injuries are not life threatening, but I bet they will be life changing for all involved.
Informally, a number of people in our community are starting to include an addition to the cardinal Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling. ‘Rule 5’ tends to be worded something like “In addition to the Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling, always store weapons where they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.” It’s about time we break with tradition and make Rule 5 a formal part of our doctrine.
I don’t know if her pistol was in her purse, in the glove box, or somewhere else in the car. Whichever was the case is irrelevant. The little boy got hold of it and touched off a round. It’s inexcusable and irresponsible. More than getting stolen, I consider this kind of occurrence to be the major downside of off body carry. And when I say ‘off body carry,’ I’m not just talking about purses and briefcases.
The incident demonstrates yet another reason I am totally opposed to glove box carry, console carry, door pocket carry, etc. that are commonly used in vehicles These foolish methods people use to secure pistols almost always result from having a pistol that’s too big to carry on them or with them consistently. It’s a downside of the ‘carry enough gun’ doctrine espoused by the training community.
In that sense, I think the community needs to take some responsibility for recommending equipment that simply doesn’t fit into the totality of our students’ lifestyles. With regard to understanding the lifestyles of normal people, our ‘square range’ mentality is complete.
Many trainers tend to view their students in the military or law enforcement model where the students are molded into something new and different, as a result of the training. Sorry folks, that’s just not the case. What we’re doing is the equivalent of teaching people how to paint, not turning them into painters. Sometimes, it seems to me that the training community’s approach to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins’ turns into ‘put a load of buckshot into someone, then take their moccasins and walk off in them.’
When I first started writing this post, I had in mind talking about lockboxes for securing pistols in cars, which I still think is a necessary idea. But, as I began writing, I realized I was on the wrong track. In this case, trying to secure the pistol in a lockbox would most likely have entailed repeated instances during the trip of gunhandling in the car to secure the pistol. That’s dangerous and unrealistic. The less we handle guns in vehicles, the better. It’s a target rich environment with too much potential for a Negative Outcome.
As the number of people who carry guns continues to increase, we trainers are going to have to focus more on ‘Living with Guns,’ as John Farnam put it years ago, rather than just ‘shooting guns.’ Shooting guns is fun and provides immediate gratification; we can see when our students get it. Teaching people about Living with Guns provides no gratification whatsoever because it happens after they leave our class. Are we performers or teachers?
Let’s consider a variant of my question “What’s the ‘worst possible case’?” Is it encountering a really determined criminal who soaks up whole magazines of bullets or having a family member accidentally shoot another family member? I’d really like to hear a definitive answer to that question.
Living with Guns is the tedious drudgery of the armed lifestyle that we, both trainers and gunowners, tend to ignore. It’s easy to focus on marksmanship, ballistics, legalistics, and equipment because those things are obvious and we’re reminded of them regularly. The hard part will be re-directing our attention toward the less obvious but just as important lifestyle aspects. That change in focus needs to happen quickly if we really want to consider ourselves responsible.
Perhaps a criterion we need to add to our selection list when talking about purchasing a pistol is something like “How convenient is it for this purchaser to carry, and secure, this particular pistol 18/7?” If it fails that criterion, that might be a deal breaker.
It’s a sad fact that people shoot other people unintentionally. I’m not talking about mistaken identity shootings but completely unintentional shootings. Probably the most famous incident was when Vice President Dick Cheney shot his hunting partner. However, that was far from an isolated occurrence. Reading the news reports provides plenty of such incidents.
We absolutely don’t want to shoot someone unintentionally nor let someone get shot unintentionally. A firearm is an instrument of ultimate personal responsibility. It’s not like a car, where sometimes we can blame someone else for negative outcomes. When a firearm we are handling goes off, we have to bear the consequences, period. If we leave it sitting around unsecured and someone else makes it goes off, we have to the bear the consequences, period. Sometimes, the consequences are tragic, in either case.