Saturday, October 04, 2014

Don't Be Afraid - Be Prepared!

With all the threats of ISIS and various calls by them for “lone wolf” terrorist activities in the news, not to mention the added complications to preparedness brought about by the Ebola scare, I wanted to take an opportunity to speak up further on the issue, and at least let you know what I am doing to protect myself and my family.   In my last article, The ISIS Threat - Coming To a City Near You, I discussed some specific emergency preparation steps you can take to prepare you and your family.  So in this article, I want to take that discussion further and specifically dive deeper and discuss some things that you as an individual can do to ensure that you are staying safe.  This will allow you to then take this knowledge to share with others.

We have to take threats of terrorists looking up the names and addresses of our military families for possible targeting as credible and plausible.  But then again, we also have to show them that our willingness to respond and defend is just as credible and plausible.  We need to give them some things to be fearful of.

First I’ll say that causing drastic behavior modification and instilling fear are a few of the goals of terrorism.  Having said that, I will say that I’m not modifying my behavior for them, and I‘m not afraid.  I already practice awareness and the other preparedness activities that I will discuss in this article, and I’m always armed.  These thugs aren’t going to make me modify my behavior for them, and I refuse to live in fear of them.
They will indeed bring their terror to our soil, as if they haven’t already.  But know this:  We will fight, and we will win.  America will not become a Sharia haven on my watch, and I will not have my family, friends, and neighbors living in fear.  It's their turn to be afraid, and I mean to make them live in fear of me and my fellow sheepdogs.  There are several hundred thousand of us in this country.  Something to ponder before they decide they want to ride that train.  As Judge Jeanine says:  "It's US against THEM!"

So I’m not expecting anyone else to live in fear or do drastic behavior modifications to suit terrorist goals.  And I’m not being an alarmist.  But I am asking those of you who do not already practice some common sense awareness and self-defense techniques, which you should be doing anyway, to maybe consider some simple measures, and do what you can.  These things mentioned below are the things that I do based on the fact that I am a “sheepdog” and have been at this a while.  What you do will depend on your needs, abilities, training, and personal goals.  But don’t feel like you have to be able to do this all at once.  Start slowly, but steadily and smartly, to build up to a level that makes you ready to respond as soon as possible.

Be Aware:  This is probably one of the most basic, yet most effective tools you can have.  Be aware of your surroundings.  If you are out and about, be aware of things or people that just don’t look right.  Be aware of people around you, and people who may be following you.  The key to awareness is basically just to pay attention, and not be walking around oblivious to your surrounds with an iPod plugged into your ears, or blindly walking around looking down at your shoes, or strolling along and talking on the phone all the time.

Be a Hard Target:  Make yourself as undesirable a target as possible.  Awareness, as mentioned above, is the first step.  Then, as an aware individual, you won’t be walking around looking at your shoes, but rather be that confident and well poised individual who looks ready for anything.  Terrorists are like any other criminal:  They prey on people who look like they are weak, afraid, and unprepared.  Look strong, and look confident.  Look like you are waiting for them.  Make sure your home is hardened by locking doors and having other home security measures in place (I wrote another article about that here). 

Be Unpredictable:  Don’t take the same route to school or work every day.  If you think you're being followed, take evasive measures, such as making them follow you to a police station.  When you take your dogs for a walk, take different routes, and don't always do it at the same time of day.  Don't publish your schedules or whereabouts online in social media sites or elsewhere.  Don't post a bunch of images or other stuff to your social media sites that have GPS or other location information from your phone.  Control who can see your social media profiles.  Don't necessarily give ALL of your emergency preparedness strategies out to everyone.  Yep - I'm giving you lots of info here about what I do - but no one has a clue about EVERYTHING that I do ;)

Be Prepared:  I mean this not only in the sense of having ample supplies of food, water, first-aid, and ammunition (beans, bullets, and band aids) for yourself, but also in the sense making sure others close to you are prepared.  Just as they say in the air safety brief when you fly – put on YOUR OWN oxygen mask, and THEN help others.  The same goes for prepping.  Prepare yourself and your family first.  Then reach out (cautiously, I might add) to your neighbors who seem perceptive to such things.  Then reach out to your church, and try to get your pastors on-board with getting the church body prepared.  The list of the specific items to have on hand is the subject of other articles, and has been written about by many.  Do your homework, and find out what your and your family’s needs are.  Then be able to help others identify their own needs, and point them in the right direction for obtaining their supplies.  I wrote some tips on specific preparedness items in my last article to help you prepare.

Be a Life Boat:  Knowing how to respond in an emergency will be a key leadership principle, and YOU may be called upon to be that leader.  Remember – these acts of terror don’t necessarily mean barbarian attacks on individuals, but they may also very well take the form of attacks on our infrastructure.  If power or other services are taken down for a long time, emergency responders will not be able to get to you right away.  Get some Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training from your local fire authority or city emergency preparedness management.  You will be the one in your neighborhood with the skills to organize people, perform emergency functions such as turning off water and gas mains, performing first aid, and even getting emergency food and water.   As mentioned above – be proactive and reach out to others ahead of time, and help them prepare themselves.

Be a Defender:  Arm yourselves.  That’s the only way I can put it.  Have sufficient and varied weapons (and ammunition) to be able to stop an attack when it happens.  You may need to be able to hand a rifle to a family member or neighbor to get more guns into the fight.  This is a serious matter, and those who mean to do us harm will be bringing their weapons.  Get trained and know how to run your weapons, and keep them running.  Be able to train your neighbors and family members.  I'm not talking about just going to a range and getting in some target practice at paper targets.  Get some advanced training, and learn some defensive and gun fighting skills.  This is truly a life saver when you are called to bring these skills to bear.

As I stated before - I refuse to live in fear.   It's their turn to be afraid.  Be a sheepdog in your communities, and be ready to show these thugs that they're on our turf, we aren't going softly into that goodnight, and we won't go down without a fight.

Stay free, fellow patriots!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The ISIS Threat - Coming To a City Near You!

I always enjoy Judge Jeanine Pirro's opening statement each week.  She is pretty straight forward in her comments, and leaves no doubt about where she stands on the issues.  She is typically very correct in her analysis of the issues, and what the current administration is doing (or usually not doing) to handle it.  Her Opening Statement from 9/20/14 was particularly alarming, however.  And this from a woman who I know is not an alarmist or some crazy paranoid lunatic trying to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  But as another source I read on this subject stated:  "The Gates of Hell have been opened..."  I don't think this is exaggeration.  I think this is a dire and credible warning.

I have to be honest, I have never heard her give such a stern and imminent warning before, as she did concerning the ISIS threat in this opening statement on 9/20/14.  The words in her opening statement were very chilling, and should alert us all to take immediate action to prepare ourselves, our families, and our communities.  Take a listen...

The gates of hell have indeed been opened, and I think we need to act accordingly.  My assessment of Judge Jeanine's advice is simply this.... PREPARE!  And now that we have started bombing in Syria, warnings abound about an increased threat of lone wolf attacks here in the United States.

First - I'll say that if you haven't even started preparing, you are too late.  But please take this warning, and at least get started right away in getting a few basic necessities in place.  Below, I outline what I think are some of the urgent and immediate needs, as well as some strategic planning needs (if you have enough time before the chaos starts), that you need to consider.

Second, I'll say that it's not a matter of "IF" they get here - they are already here.  There are reports of domestic "Lone Wolves" already in our midst.  Plus, our porous open border has been an entry point for terrorists for quite some time.  Radical Islamic terrorist training camps have been right here on our own soil for quite some time.  Law enforcement has been successful in shutting some of them down, but the terrorists have in turn been successful in moving on and planning/training elsewhere.  And with social media being what it is today, their communications network is firmly in place.

Please, for the sake of your family and friends, heed this advice and start planning.  If you have already planned, and have your supplies and strategies in place, then help others get up to speed - and do it rapidly.  This is urgent.  We are in grave danger.  But We The People are going to be the ones to save this country - not this clueless administration, and certainly not any other country.  The police and military are going to be overwhelmed.  We The People are going to be called into service to confront this evil ourselves.  So here is what YOU can do...

Immediate Planning Needs:

These are the things you must do IMMEDIATELY to ensure that you have the basics to survive for a minimum of 72 hours, and give you time to plan what to do next - beyond that 72 hour period.  Remember - the "Rule of Threes" in a survival situation:  You cannot live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.  But I will add another "3" for you:  You need to decide within 3 seconds of the emergency that you are going to have the will to live, and the will to improvise, adapt, and overcome to survive.  Without that will to survive and WIN, the other "3's" don't matter.   Having a good attitude, and finding ways to keep morale high are as vital to survival as anything else mentioned below.

Spiritual:  Get your spiritual life in order, and get right with God.  The Gates of Hell have indeed been opened, and God is the only one who can give us strength in this dark hour.  God is our hope, God is our strength, and God's Son, Jesus Christ is the warrior who will ultimately vanquish this evil from our midst.  Put on the armor of God, let Him speak to our hearts and let Him give us the tools to prepare us for battle.  He will speak to your heart and tell you what you need to do - please pray, and please listen to His guidance.  Having hope and having a good frame of mind is critical to keeping good morale.

Shelter:  If you are going to shelter in place, you need to make sure your location is protected and secure.  You need to be able to secure your location from weather, intruders, and provide adequate fire protection.  If you are going to bug out, you need to make sure that your bug out location has shelter - some sort of defensible structure.  Your shelter location needs to have accommodations for sanitation.  Many deaths in a crisis situation are caused by diseases that can be easily prevented with good sanitation.

Water:  You need one gallon, per person per day of water to survive.  That is bare minimum,  Don't forget - not only do you need water to drink, but you need water for cooking, and water for sanitation needs.  Current wisdom puts that figure at more like three gallons of water per day per person.  Don't forget about your pets - they need water too.  Have this minimum water supply in initial storage, and be able to plan for obtaining water for other sources for emergencies that go long term.  Water resupply, filtration and the ability to purify water is a vital element of survival.

Food:  The average human consumes 2,500 calories of food per day.  I highly recommend a storage system for food that allows you to rotate commonly used items, and allows you to have a supply of foods that you are used to eating.  Having a supply of soy bars high in calories is going to get mighty old, mighty fast. Make sure you have a good supply of foods that you normally eat.  Good "comfort foods" will help you and your family maintain a sense of "normalcy" in a crisis situation.  Build of a good supply, and maintain freshness by rotating your food supplies.

Medical/First Aid:  As mentioned above, many illnesses lead to death in a crisis situation, but could have been prevented if proper sanitation were observed.  Have a way to dispose of human waste, and keeping it away from living areas and food preparation areas.  If you take prescription medications, make sure you have a good supply on hand - don't wait until you are down to your last few days worth to renew.  Have plenty of first aid supplies to treat things such as gun shot wounds, serious knife wounds, bug and snake bites, and minor injuries.  Having a simple cut on your hand can turn into a serious infection very quickly if exposed to the elements, unsanitary surfaces, etc.  Have good supplies of sanitizer and antibiotic ointmenets.

Communication:  Know how to get in touch with your family members and your support structure.  Cell phones and land lines may very well go down completely.  The Internet will be down also.  At the very least, phone lines and cell phone circuits will be overwhelmed.  But text messages often go through as long as cell towers are operable, even if the cellular calling circuits are overwhelmed.  Get your HAM radio license now so that you can practice using them.  Have GMRS/FRS radios.  CB radios are still useful.  Have extra batteries and a way to recharge them if you have rechargeable batteries.

Self Defense:  All of your food, water, and other survival items can be taken away from you very quickly unless you have the means with which to defend them.  Guns and ammo, my friends.  And lots of them. A good folding knife and a tactical flashlight are "must have" items as well.  As I will mention in a later section, having them yourself is not enough.  You need to be able to set security teams that can perform security and defense.  Try to arm yourselves with weapons of common calibers - .223/5.56mm, 7.62X39 for rifle, and 9mm/.45ACP for pistol are common calibers that you will be able to easily obtain, and even find in a crisis.  .22 LR is a necessary caliber, but is still hard to find.  Stock up onn this crucial caliber as best as you are able.  A good bow or cross-bow will also be helpful.  Remember - your weapons will not only be needed for self defense, but also for hunting as well.  A good high power pellet gun will be essential for hunting small game, and help you conserve precious ammo.

Miscellaneous Tools:  A good multi-tool is worth its weight in gold.  Have tools available for turning off gas and water mains.   Tools for general cutting, digging, and hammering.  Make sure you have the needed tools to maintain and clean weapons, sharpen knives, cut food (particularly game), and start fires.  Extra batteries are a must.  Have several flashlights - put them everywhere.  A good personal flashlight can also be a self defense weapon.  An emergency hand-crank radio will be useful for getting updates, even in a power outage.

Strategic Planning Needs:

Once those essential basics are met, you need to start working on a strategy to band together with others.  Statistics show that small groups of people have a greater chance for survival than those who go it alone.  Large groups tend to have too many personality and conflict problems, and can't get much done.  But small groups that closer emulate the family and the immediate community (a neighborhood, for example), tend to do much better and are more cohesive.

Here are some things you can do in addition to the essentials above taken care of.  If you are just starting out with prepping, getting together into small groups is especially useful for helping each other with prepping ideas and support.

Meet Your Neighbors:  Get out in your neighborhood, find out who you can count on, and who still has their head in the sand.  Not all of your neighbors are going to be on board, and some will even think you are crazy or paranoid.  But get out and see who you can form an alliance with, and then build your support group.  Unfortunately, when the worst happens, these folks who had their head in the sand will come to you wanting help.  And unfortunately, you will have to say no to some, and possibly even defend yourself from those people who get desperate and turn against you.  But meet your neighbors now and find out who is who.

Form Groups:  Prepper groups, even community citizen militias, will be necessary in this coming storm.  Form small teams in your neighborhoods and communities.  Hopefully, you are forming good alliances in your neighborhood, but you will also want to form alliances in your city/town.

Form a CERT:  You can get trained to become a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member.  This training will give you the fundamentals in firefighting, first aid, search and rescue, and general emergency response concepts.  These are vital skills that will give you a leg up on response to major issues in your neighborhood.

Get Your Church Involved:  The church is the ultimate support structure, and many churches are made up of like minded people who already know each other well, trust each other, and can quickly band together to provide support for each other.

Form Security Teams:  In each of the above groups, you need to have people who can act as security team members.  You can't stay up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but security is a 24/7 proposition.  Not only is security necessary for you homes, but you may find yourself needing to secure entry into and out of an entire neighborhood.

Times are uncertain, and these events of late have increased our level of uncertainty, and also the level of urgency to prepare.  You can't do it alone.  Support groups of trusted and close people will be key to survival and overcoming in the crises that are surely coming our way.

This is a dynamic article, and I will be adding to it and updating it as I think of some additional preparedness issues that need to be addressed.  Please check back often for updates.

About The Author:  "The Gonz" is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, and an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer, with several years of advanced tactical firearms and emergency preparedness training.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When Is It OK To Use Deadly Force?

With all the publicity that cases like the George Zimmerman trial and other cases where deadly force was used to stop an attack attracted, a great deal of speculation abounds with regard to the questions about using deadly force, or any force for that matter, against another human being in self defense.  In fact, questions that my students often ask is "When is it OK to use deadly force?  When are we allowed to deploy a firearm to defend ourselves"  While the answer to those questions about the use of deadly force really depends on the scenario, some of which will be discussed in this article, there are a few rules of thumb you can use to help you understand when you are more likely to be justified in using deadly force.  Remembering that the possibilities for attack scenarios are endless, however, and this humble writer cannot possibly presume to know them all. I simply urge you to do some homework, ask a lawyer if needed, and above all use common sense!  But read on, and I will attempt to at least clear up a few of the questions surrounding the use of firearms for self defense.  
Disclaimer:  I am not a lawyer.  This is not legal advice.  The following information is for educational, illustrative, and instructive purposes only.  I cannot presume to know all the possible scenarios where self defense skills will come into play.  Please consult a lawyer in your area to find out what laws exist, and how they apply to you and your particular situation.  Use common sense.

Reasonable Force versus Deadly Force:  One of the first things to realize when it comes to the question of whether or not to use deadly force in a self defense situation, is that the amount of force needed to defend one's self needs to be appropriate to the attack.  You cannot use deadly force simply because you are being attacked or threatened.  For example, if you are a normal and healthy 175 pound man and you are being attacked by another normal and healthy 175 pound man who is unarmed, then deadly force will most likely be looked upon as being excessive.  In this example, you are at risk for getting a fat lip or some bruises.  Responding by using an implement which breaks the attacker's bones or kills the attacker is simply not justified. I suggest you take some empty hand self defense training, in addition to your firearms training.  But what if you are that same 175 pound man facing three 175 pound men, at least one of whom has a bat or a knife?  You are facing disparate force in this case, and your only way to defend yourself may be your firearm.  Deadly force is probably justified.  One very common definition for the justification of deadly force is often stated like this:
"Deadly force may only be used when there is an immediate, and unavoidable danger of death or great/grave bodily harm to an innocent person, where no other option exists other than the use of deadly force."
Note the words/phrases "immediate," "unavoidable," "death or great/grave bodily harm," "innocent," and "no other options exist."  I think these are pretty self explanatory.  But let those words sink in real good because if you are ever involved in a self defense shooting, you will need to be able to articulate how each one of those phrases applied to your situation.

The Purpose of Using a Firearm (Deadly Force): One of the most common questions about carrying a concealed firearm that should be first and foremost in our minds - "what is the purpose for carrying a firearm for self defense?"  This answer is, and always should be, that a firearm is simply a tool of last resort to stop an attack where you risk death or severe bodily injury from an attacker.  Firearms are the great equalizer against an attacker, or multiple attackers, who present greater strength or deadly force of their own.  Whether it is a 200+ pound thug attacking a 125 pound woman, or a lunatic with a knife attacking someone, even if the victim is about their same size and weight, or multiple attackers with varying degrees of physical strength and unknown  weapons, a gun allows a person to defend themselves and stop the attack.
Deadly force is a component of self defense that the firearm gives us.  People who have been trained (at least by ME anyway), know that the purpose for using a firearm in self defense is not to kill; it is not to maim; it is not to injure.  The purpose for carrying a firearm for self defense is to use as a tool to stop an attack where we risk death or grave injury, and when no other means will do.  A firearm is a tool of last resort, in other words.  For example,  I am suddenly being attacked on the street, I brandish my firearm and give a command to the attacker to stop.  If the attacker stops and/or runs off, then I have stopped the attack.  No shots fired, deadly force not used, attack stopped.  The firearm was the likely reason why the attack was stopped, even though I didn't need to fire a single shot.  Another example: an attacker is running at me with a knife, and will have it planted firmly in my chest within the next second or two.  I quickly sidestep away of his line of attack, un-holster my firearm, and shoot the attacker.  The attacker goes down.  The attack is stopped.  
The Shark Tank Analogy:  One of the simplest ways to answer the question at hand is to use this analogy.  Imagine that you are standing near the edge of a deep tank of water, and there are man-eating great white sharks swimming around in that tank.  Question:  What has to happen in order to make you willing to jump into that tank?  If your child fell into the tank, would you jump in to save your child, even knowing that you may die or be severely injured in the process?  Of course you would.  If your brand new iPhone fell into the water, would you jump in to retrieve it?  Hopefully, not.
The principle is this:  Ask yourself the question "What danger has to exist to make me willing to potentially take another human life, and risk going to prison in order to take action and use deadly force?"  Life?  Property?  If it's not worth risking jail for, then it's not worth using deadly force against.  If your life  or another innocent life is in immediate danger, then a firearm is a tool at your disposal.  If only property is at risk, then let the property go, call for help, be a good witness, and go on to live another day knowing that your freedom is not about to be taken away.

Using the "AOJP" Principle:  There is a short acronym that you can remember to help illustrate the decision flow for whether or not to use deadly force:  "AOJP"

A - Does a potential attacker have the Ability to cause harm?
O - Does a potential attacker have the Opportunity to cause harm?
J - Does a potential attacker place you in immediate Jeopardy?
P - Is there any way this attack could have been Precluded?

Note that "immediate" is the key part of "jeopardy."  While the word "immediate" may be subjective, you will need to articulate why it is that you felt that you were in immediate danger.  When it comes to "preclusion," think of conflict avoidance.  You may be required to articulate why it is that there was no way for you to avoid being in the dangerous situation to begin with.

So let's take a look at a few scenarios to help illustrate how the AOJP decision process might work:

Scenario 1:  You are in a gun store looking around.  There are many gun owners there.  Some are probably carrying concealed firearms.  The people who work there are all openly carrying loaded firearms.

A - Do the people in the gun store have the Ability to do you harm?  Yes - many people in the store have firearms, and they probable know how to use them.  Firearms are readily available elsewhere in the store.  Ammunition is also readily available.
O - Do they have the Opportunity to do you harm?  Yes - the people with the firearms are right there, right now, and can easily deploy one to hurt you.  Firearms are readily available.  Ammunition is readily available.
J - Are you in immediate Jeopardy? NO!  No one is threatening you at the moment.  In fact, knowing the gun store crowd the way I do, they are probably being very cordial and striking up friendly conversations.  You are not in any immediate or perceived danger.
P - Is there any way to Preclude being in danger in a gun store?  Yes - don't go into the gun store.

Actually - in this scenario, you need not even go past "J" since you weren't in any danger in this situation.  You would not be justified in using deadly force.

Scenario 2:  You are walking your dog at night.  You notice that down the street, on the same side of the block you are on, there is a suspicious individual whom you have never seen in your neighborhood before.  That individual is walking towards you very quickly.  They are not talking, and they have made no gestures toward you.

A - Does the person coming toward you have the Ability to do you harm?  Possibly.  You don't know who this person is, you do not know their intent, and you do not know if they have a weapon or can physically overpower you.
O - Do they have the Opportunity to do you harm?  Possibly.  They are walking toward you quickly, and their opportunity is increasing by the second.
J - Are you in immediate Jeopardy? NO!  No one is threatening you at the moment.  They look suspicious, and they look potentially threatening.  But they have not yet communicated a threat verbally or physically.  You are not in any immediate danger.
P - Is there any way to Preclude being in danger in this situation?  Yes - go across the street; go down a different street if able; find the safety of a well lighted and public place if there is one readily available.  Run away.

In this scenario, even though the other person was quickly heading toward you, you did not perceive an immediate threat.  They were not actually threatening you.  And since there was a way for you to avoid being in immediate danger in this situation you probably would not be justified in using deadly force.
Scenario 3:  You are sitting in your home reading a book.  Your spouse is in another room watching TV, and your child is in her room sleeping.  Suddenly, an unknown person comes crashing through your back door, and has a crow bar in their hand.  Like all good armed citizens, you have a firearm within easy and immediate reach.

A - Does the person who just broke into your house have the Ability to do you harm?  YES.  You don't know who this person is, they came into your home uninvited, and you feel that they are obviously there to commit a crime.  That crow bar he is holding is raised in a threatening manner to be used against you.
O - Do they have the Opportunity to do you harm?  YES.  This unknown person is right there, right now, and that crow bar he is holding is raised in a threatening manner to be used against you.
J - Are you in immediate Jeopardy? YES!  An intruder is in your house, he has something that can be used as a weapon against you capable of killing or gravely injuring you, and he is right there, right now.
P - Is there any way to Preclude being in danger in this situation?  NO!  You are in your own home, you are in a confined space, and there is nowhere to run to get away.

In this scenario, since there was an immediate threat of severe injury or death to you and possibly other family members from an uninvited home invader.  You probably would be justified in using deadly force.  But, you have to be aware of some state laws.  There are some states that dictate that you have a duty to retreat, even in your own home.

So What Can You Do?  For starters, here are some important things to remember:

  • Raise your levels of awareness.  Know what's going on immediately around you and near you, and be able to anticipate likely scenarios.
  • If you use deadly force, or even brandish a firearm in a defensive situation, you will face legal consequences.  Make sure you have a lawyer whom you can contact in the event of an event. 
  • If you need a lawyer, you are going to need a way to pay for the fees.  I highly recommend that you join the US Concealed Carry Association, and take advantage of their Defensive Shield coverage.
  • Make sure you also have liability insurance for coverage of damages.  Remember - the standard of care in a civil case is much lower than the standard of care in a criminal case.  Even if you are acquitted in the criminal case, you may still be found liable in the civil case.  Insurance will help offset these costs.  Again - the US Concealed Carry Association can help with that.
  • Get trained in self-defense and defensive firearm use.  Continue with advanced training.  Your knowledge of the laws and how they apply to you will be key in helping you avoid a defensive shooting situation if it possibly can be avoided.  Your knowledge and skills in firearms handling will help you ensure that when you are required to deploy a firearm for defensive us, you will engage as proficiently and accurately as possible to prevent unintended injuries.
  • Stay informed and stay safe.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Club Didn't Kill Abel

The following was originally attributed as having been delivered to a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Subcommittee by Darrell Scott, the father of one of the children killed at Columbine High School.  This has circulated over the Internet via email, and many of the facts surrounding the speech have been embellished over the years, but the message below nevertheless rings true.

It isn't the guns that kill.  It is the person behind the gun – the one pulling the trigger – who takes another human life.  Sometimes this is a senseless act of violence.  But many more times it is a person defending themselves from a violent attack.  But somehow the media seems to ignore all that in their effort to distort the truth about firearms.  The truth is simply that guns don’t kill – people kill.  Guns do not have a mind of their own – the person behind the gun makes the choice.

So why are so many of our politicians proclaiming that the guns must be stopped?  That the guns must be taken off the streets?  I, for one, think it has nothing to do with public safety, but has everything to do with disarming those who would oppose the power-mongers and politicians.  If our politicians really do care about public safety, then they should be showing us their support for one of the principles that our 9.12 Project supports - that which states that the law should be applied equally, and no one is above the law.  

Prosecute the criminals, keep them off our streets, and stop punishing law abiding citizens.


"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women.. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart.

In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy -- it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need! 

Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up , we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.

As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA -- I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!

My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Getting Off The "X" - The Need For Tactical Training

I recently had the opportunity to go back for some excellent tactical training – a refresher in Level III Advance Gun Fighting (Pistol).  Excellent course - I highly recommend it.  So anyway - I’m not sure exactly what prompted the comment, but I recently mentioned to someone that I had just taken some formal tactical firearms training to refresh my own skills.  That prompted the comment: “Tactical training?!  Why in the world do you need tactical training?  You’re not a police officer or a member of the military special forces!”   

That’s true.  I’m neither of those things.   And I’m pretty sure I won’t be gearing up to storm a hardened complex or rescue hostages any time soon.  But I am a “Sheepdog” - a concealed carry permit holder who loves his fellow citizens, and knows that I may very well be present someday in a crisis situation.  If I am present in such a situation (and the police are not), I want to make a difference and help preserve innocent life while waiting for the police to arrive.  Because of my commitment, I carry a concealed firearm for self-defense nearly always (except at work and when I’m in the shower).  I have made the commitment to protect my family, my neighborhood, and the members of my church.  That being said, I then also have an obligation to be proficient and have the ability to be as effective as possible if the opportunity for using my firearm in self-defense presents itself.  And to be honest, standing on a line in front of static paper bulls-eye targets in no way represents the types of situations encountered in real-world self-defense crisis situations.

The Obligation: First, let me say this about the requirement for training: I do not believe it should be mandated by law.  The obligation to be proficient in firearms handling is a moral obligation, and each person needs to make the decision for themselves as to what level of training they think will give them the proficiency they need for their particular circumstances.  But if I am going to be a "Sheepdog" - one who is willing to be present in a crisis situation and I am armed, I then I feel that I have the duty to not be the cause of harm to others or myself.  If I freeze up, hesitate, or simply don’t know what to do, my chances of causing more harm are much greater.  This can lead to a whole variety of legal implications for me, or even more serious physical and emotional implications for all those present at the scene.  My goal then is to render aid to others, preserve life, protect the innocent, stop any imminent violence by the bad guys, and be an effective resource for the police who eventually arrive to investigate.  Again, I submit that performing proficiency training that involves standing on a line and shooting at static paper targets in no way prepares me to do any of the above.  But if I am engaged in a training regimen that teaches the concepts of moving, shooting, communicating, and making sound, decisions, my ability to be effective and prevent further harm greatly improves.  Tactical training provides just that environment, plus it provides a multitude of "stresses" that static target shooting does not provide.

"The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours." - LTC Dave Grossman, "On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs"

Enter a piece of terminology we in the self-defense circles fondly refer to as “getting off the X.”  If someone is attacking you, and you stand there like a statue, you will get injured or worse - shot.  It’s as simple as that.  But if you move and make quick, decisive actions, your chances of winning the fight and avoiding injury are greatly increased.  And if you can get the bad guy to “stand on his X,” then you further increase your chances of winning and stopping the attack.  The “X” is the place that gives an adversary static predictability.  In that case the person on the X might just as well be a paper target – easy to hit, and sure to be injured.  Your goal is to stay off of your “X” and put the bad guy back on his.

So what is out there in the way of tactical training, and what does the term “tactical training” actually entail? Tactical firearms training, hand-to-hand (or “empty hand”) training, and sporting competitions all lend themselves well to this idea of tactical training to address immediate threats. The word “tactical” simply implies trying to make decisions to help meet an immediate or short term goal. The immediate goal in this case is that of stopping a bad series of gravely harmful events. Tactics nearly always involves movement, quick decisions, and having contingencies. Tactical training does not always mean donning forty-five pounds of web gear and playing Rambo. Receiving tactical training means training for a variety of events and environments, and with a variety of methods, skills, and tools.

Tactical Firearms Training: If you’re going to carry a gun for self-defense, you need to be able to deploy it beyond the paper targets at the pistol range. This can (and should) involve a variety of formal training environments where actual experts in this field of study are there to give you real-world insights. In Northern Colorado, we have one excellent resource at The Makhaira Group. Gunsite Academy (located in Arizona), Front Sight (located in Nevada), and Suarez International (various training venues) are all excellent examples of well-renowned and affordable firearms training venues to help you sharpen your tactical skills. The key here is formal training from experts in their field. Get a professional set of eyes (not your well-meaning buddy) on your techniques and use the guidance of a disinterested third party to improve your tactics through professional instruction, and honest criticism and opinion.

Hand-to-Hand Training: Often referred to as “open hand” training. You may not be able to draw your gun, you may not have your gun with you (shame on you!), or the firearm may just not even be the appropriate level of response. Tactics involves a variety of tools. Knowing how to stop an immediate threat through a variety of means, even your own body, is an important aspect of being willing to be that “Sheepdog” in a crisis situation. If you’re going to step up to help out in a crisis situation, you’re going to get hurt. That’s a fact. This type of training will not only help build skills to employ various empty handed defenses, but will help condition your body to be ready and will help make it “hurt” less. See your local health club, self-defense school, or other types of activities in your area. There are a variety of video courses that you can take, but the actual physical practice is irreplaceable.

Shooting Competition Activities: There are a wide variety of firearms recreational and sporting activities that lend themselves well to the idea of thinking on your feet and practicing tactical movements. IDPA, defensive pistol, and even steel challenge competitions fit right in with this category of training. Many shooting ranges even offer “combat leagues” and other dynamic events. Here in Northern Colorado, the Northern Colorado Rod and Gun Club hosts International Defensive Pistol (IDPA), Defensive Pistol, and Steel Challenge matches monthly. Participation is open to the public, and participation fees are minimal (usually $10 dollars). Not only are these events dynamic, but they are well attended, and you can meet many others who are trying to build up their skills and you can share ideas.

Professional Reading: You heard me right! I know reading doesn’t sound very “tactical.” Do some homework and find out what’s going on out in the real world. All those “armed citizen” reports and such are chock full of real-life examples where someone defended themselves successfully (or tragically not), and have some very detailed descriptions of what was done right, what was done wrong, and lessons learned for improvement. Learn from others. Monthly magazines from professionally written sources such as the US Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA), for example, have sections devoted to reporting on these incidents and can provide valuable insight into what others went through. Those publications also have a plethora of well written articles that talk about holster and concealment techniques, equipment suggestions, and additional training ideas.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, you need to “get off the X” and make additional training an ongoing endeavor. Tactical skills tend to diminish rapidly as they are largely a matter of muscle memory and ingraining behavior so that it becomes second nature. To keep skills sharp, you need to continually practice and get training in updated techniques. Getting off of your X may mean being able to putting bad guy back on his X in a crisis situation. There are no points for second place in this game – you need to be in it to win it.