Ignorance and the Internet, Part II…

In the continuing saga of “people making things up, assigning them to other people, and then attacking them for the things they’ve made up and assigned to other people” along with the serving of “making comparisons that people don’t make, and then saying those comparisons are wrong” we have yet another person attacking competition shooting as something that will get you killed.    (This article also showed up on war-doll.com, which should also tell you something.)

As before (in Ignorance the Internet Part I), the original article will be in italics, and my words will be in standard font.  As as before:  I don’t know “Shaun A” who is the author of the nonsense I am responding to (though I do know a bit about what he does currently to pay the bills, but I’m going to leave that out of this) so I don’t know his skill level, what he is like as a person, etc.  I’m just responding to what he said in his article.  I note also that I’m quoting his article directly, so any typos, grammatical errors, etc, are what he wrote. Continue reading

What makes an expert?

(Third in the series about thoughts spawned by attending the Rangemaster Instructor Development Class with Tom Givens.  The first time, the post was about something that hadn’t occurred to me.  The second time, it was about something I already knew, explained in a different fashion.  This time, it is about something that annoys me greatly on pretty much a weekly basis.)


“He’s a great self-defense instructor, he learned it in the military!”

“That firearms group is the best for CCW training, because they all have law enforcement experience.  That guy TEACHES other cops!”

“He has 25 years of firearms experience–he knows what he is talking about!”


The first two statements above are flat-out wrong.  The third is a non sequitur.

And yet, people KEEP saying things like that. Continue reading

Why are you so mean?

Periodically, someone asks me why I’m so direct with my replies regarding civil rights such as self-defense.  They get angry because I say what I mean, without cushioning it for their feelings.  I’m not impolite, I just (quite some time ago) lost patience with caring about certain people’s feelings if I tell the truth, back it with facts, and state my conclusions from it, and they get all angry because their defense is purely emotional, with no rational basis.

“Why are you so mean?” I hear. Continue reading

“Mass Shooting”

I see that after the events in San Bernadino (actually, in several politician’s cases, during the events in San Bernadino as they felt no need to actually wait until they had an understanding of the situation), a number of people have decried “gun violence” and many others have vehemently argued that “mass shootings” are horrible (absolutely true) and that Something Must Be Done About All These Mass Shootings.

(If there was a font available that adequately conveyed the sense of smug self-righteousness combined with cloying fake concern and elitist condescending behavior most often demonstrated by people who Talk In Capital Letters about such things, I’d use it.)

It is everywhere—“310th mass shooting in the U.S. this year,” “we must take action to stop gun violence now, what happened in San Bernadino must not be allowed to happen again,” and my personal favorite “I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings; this just doesn’t happen in other countries.” (…which was great since Obama said that while standing in Paris.  Ahem.  Mr. President, do you know what happened several weeks ago in Paris?  Just curious.)

Seriously, comments like that are everywhere.  Suddenly (and again) many people who have no understanding of crime and violence (hint:  being alive in a city in which crime occurs doesn’t actually give you an understanding of violence) have The Solution (or at least a serious complaint that Something Must Be Done!) for “gun violence” and “mass shootings.”

So many comments.  Attempting to refute them all using actual facts seems like the labors of Sisyphus, particularly because the minute you try, an emotional reaction is what you get back, instead a discussion.

Here’s the thing:

If you think “gun violence” should be an issue about guns,

and/or

…if you think “gun violence” is something that can be solved by removing guns from law-abiding citizen’s hands,

and/or

…if you think “mass shootings” as a category adequately covers terrorist acts, gang-related drive-by shootings outside of clubs, AND murders by mentally disturbed people all at the same time, and also believe that there is a single fix for this category, then…

…you are too ignorant to discuss this with respect to the topics of crime, violence, and mental health.  (Whether you are stupid or not depends on your reaction when faced with your ignorance:  If you attempt to find facts to reduce your ignorance, you are not stupid.  If you attempt to argue emotionally from the depths of your ignorance, you are stupid.)

There isn’t anything wrong with being ignorant, per se.   Ignorance is fixable.  However, thinking that even though you are ignorant regarding the subject matter 1) your opinion is valid, and 2) your opinion should be respected by others, is ridiculous.  (And you should probably stop blathering until you reduce your ignorance.)

Terrorist actions, gang activity, and mental health issues leading to violence are all huge subjects, and incredibly different in terms of causes, actions, and possible defenses/solutions.  If your blanket “solution” for all of these things while calling them “mass murders” is “more gun control” then you LITERALLY are too ignorant to have a conversation with on this topic.  You know so little about any of those topics that attempting to discuss them with you would require starting from from square one, because you currently don’t know anything.

The question is, knowing that you are ignorant, are you going to fix your ignorance?

Or are you going to be stupid?

(By the way, love the idea that a “mass shooting” is defined as four or more people shot when you count the criminal as a victim of shooting, and also can’t apparently count all the way up to four when tallying your numbers.  Excellent work, reddit.  This, by the way, is why crowd-sourced “facts” aren’t considered good enough for anything remotely scientific requiring precision and accuracy.)

 

Ignorance and the Internet…

Recently, David Windham posted an article titled “5 differences between competitive shooting and combat shooting”  at policeone.com.  The writing deserves such a response that I’m going to go through it bit by bit, for several reasons:

1) So that people don’t think I’m picking and choosing what I’m deciding to respond to, and thus people know the original context that I’m responding to, and
2) So I can respond to all of parts of the truly execrable pile of ignorance-based opinion that were presented.

Before I get started, I should note:  I don’t know Mr. Windham.  I took a look at his website, where he offers training, but it doesn’t really tell me much about him as a shooter/trainer, as his background isn’t really much different than a vast multitude of other people who shoot who have a NRA Pistol Instructor rating and are cops.  He may be a great shooter and a great trainer, he might be–something other than that.  None of my comments to follow are in any way directed to his personal shooting skills or his training skills.  Any comments I make personally about him have to do with his opinions about competition shooting, most of which seem to be based on a complete lack of understanding about competition shooting.

In this response, his words will be quoted in italics, my words will be in standard font.

Here’s his tagline that went with his title:
“A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances.”

I’m thinking that if that is what a gunfighter trains for, then 1) he has no sense of priorities, and 2) he either has unlimited time and resources, or no understanding how good the “best in the world” really are.  Because on your worse day, you can’t beat the best in the world except by pure luck–and if you disagree with that, then you have no concept of how truly amazing the “best in the world” really are.

“I’m not anti-competition shooting, but I do find fault with most of the competitions out there. The reason being they aren’t realistic and cause the shooter to form extremely bad habits that can get them killed on the street. I realize that most gun owners will never be involved in a shooting incident, but it can happen at any moment to any of us, hence my passion to train in a realistic manner so that I am prepared as well as those I regularly train.”

You are not anti-competition shooting but you find fault with most competitions?  Okay.

This part doesn’t really have anything for me to comment on, other than to relate my amusement that it took only two sentences for the phrase “get them killed on the street” to appear, which is a good indicator for people who have been in the self-defense culture for awhile to expect a certain lack of knowledge from the author.  You’ll have to make up your own mind as to whether that happened in this case.

For the remainder of this, however, remember that his main two issues with competition shooting are 1) aren’t realistic, and 2) cause the shooter to form extremely bad habits that can get them killed on the street.

And then wait for his comments about competition shooting that have nothing to do with those two things.

“I also despise indoor ranges that don’t allow realistic shooting. If one can’t even draw his weapon from the holster, how can he be prepared for a real life shoot out?

Competition shooters are on the whole amazingly fast when it comes to getting off accurate shots. In and of itself, that is a great thing.

However, there are some huge downfalls.”

I’m not really thrilled about a number of indoor ranges that don’t allow draws from the holster or rapid fire, either.  I get why they do it, from both a liability standpoint and from the standpoint of someone who has watched the VASTLY varying levels of competency demonstrated at commercial indoor ranges.  But, that’s why I am a member of a gun club where I can practice solid gun handling techniques useful for competition and self-defense.  What does that have to do with this topic, though?

We see here that he starts by saying that competition shooters are amazingly fast and accurate.  So….what’s the problem?

“1. All targets are single shot targets for the most part. Training yourself to fire one bullet at a target can mean your death in real life. Regardless of what caliber you shoot, in a real life gun fight you will generally need multiple shots on target to end a threat to your life. Training to fire once and then look for more targets can be a deadly habit to form.”

….in what type of competition is this true?  Let’s see, USPSA, IDPA, Multigun, Bianchi….none of those have “single shot targets for the most part,” except in the cases where the targets are steel which fall if hit correctly (just like a threat to your life, I’ll note).  I suppose Steel Challenge could be considered a “single shot target” type match, if you had to think about it that way.

Seriously, is he lumping all shooting competitions together and saying they are all the same with respect to targets?  That’s so far from the truth that it bears no resemblance to reality.  The fact that his first “huge downfall” is completely wrong about competition shooting is not a good sign.

2. Speed reigns supreme in competition. Speed is important, but not at the expense of accuracy and tactical technique. A good example of this is the goofy overhand grip you see many three-gun shooters using. It’s said that this grip helps them steer the gun. Okay, whatever works for them is fine, because no one is shooting back!

Didn’t he just say above that competition shooters are amazingly fast at getting off accurate shots?  So how does that match with “speed is important but not at the expense of accuracy” if he has already said that competition shooters have that speed while maintaining accuracy?

And his example, the “goofy overhand grip”? That would be the one that is used for those amazingly fast and accurate shots?  The one that he makes this derogatory comment about here, but on his own website, his partner suggests that people take a Chris Costa class…this Chris Costa?

 

Seriously?  (I note that I think that Costa’s grip is bad, and doesn’t work nearly as well for fast and accurate shooting as the grips used in various Multigun matches, the vast majority of which do not lock the arm out, and do not have the hand over the barrel in that fashion.  Costa’s version is significantly more “goofy” and “overhand” than most competition shooter’s grips.)  But apparently, Costa’s version is fine, but competition shooting people aren’t doing it right…?

I’m also curious what “people shooting back” has to do with how you are holding the gun.  If you are holding it in a way that causes you to manage fast, accurate shots, how will holding it a different way (that causes you to be less fast and less accurate) somehow be better if someone is shooting back at you?  Let’s find out:

The problem is that many people see this technique and adopt it without considering real life situations. The most solid offhand shooting platform is using a vertical or horizontal grip that allows you to pull the gun tight into your shoulder pocket with your arms tucked in tight. This helps reduce muzzle rise, make quicker follow-up shots, and assists in overall control of your weapon.

So, contrary to what we see in competition, in which shooters have (according to the author) amazing speed and accuracy in which they don’t normally use vertical grips, the author says that doing something else makes for less muzzle rise and quicker followup shots, even though literally millions of fired shots in multigun competitions have shown that the current “competition” grip tends to work best for “amazingly fast” and accurate shooting, and that other versions are not as fast and accurate.

His description of the “most solid offhand shooting platform” seems odd to me, as parts of it match what is done in competition shooting, and parts of it are either detrimental to shooting quickly and accurately, or make no difference.

Does he think that in competition shooting, more muzzle rise and slower followup shots are okay?  If what he says DID help, wouldn’t we see more people doing it in competition?

3. There’s no need to take cover. What’s even better is the use of the kneeling or prone position if possible. By doing so, you reduce your profile and make yourself a smaller target as well as form a more solid shooting platform by having the ability to triangulate your limbs for support.

I’m not sure about you, but the vast majority of pistol altercations that I’ve seen don’t make use of the kneeling or prone position.  And since he lumps all competition shooting together, well….

In a real life shootout, if the rifle or carbine has come out it is pretty damned serious and likely everything is happening at a distance where cover can be chosen, so this isn’t necessarily a hindrance to be prone because you have dug into your position and it’s safe. If you only practice off hand you will remain standing when you should be looking for cover and making yourself as small a target as humanly possible.”

I’m curious—does he think that if you have practiced to be an outstanding offhand shooter, that suddenly you’ll be much worse using kneeling or prone?

Anyway, I agree that competitions that include rifles don’t normally require any sort of cover.  There is extensive use of kneeling, prone, and irregular positions (that’s actually the signature of a good match, really, requiring the shooters to demonstrate an array of shooting position skills), but cover isn’t required.

Of course, it isn’t supposed to be.  And unless he does all his shooting practice from cover, I’m not sure why it SHOULD be, either.  Meaning, we shoot all the time without use of cover.  Just because we do this doesn’t mean we don’t practice use of cover, or somehow cannot do so.  Why does he assume that competition shooters don’t practice anything outside of their competition-style of shooting?

Speaking of cover, competition shooters never use cover in a tactical manner. They use the cover in a manner that facilitates speed. There is never any “slicing the pie” technique. What I normally see is peek and shoot at best or the shooter leaning out as far as possible to engage as many targets as possible.

Agreed.  That is because in the few sports that require some sort of “cover,” the requirement for a good score is still based on speed, and “slicing the pie” is simply slow.

…again, does the author assume that just because cover isn’t being used correctly (or at all) in a particular competition that the shooters are unable to do so?  Or is he instead thinking that shooting a situation in which cover is not used means that you will instill bad habits and thus not use cover when you should?  Those are two very different things.

He never actually says what the problem really is–and that’s an issue.  After all, when I go to the range to practice with my pistol for self-defense purposes, I shoot a number of different drills—some for pure accuracy at distance (unlikely to be needed in self-defense), some for gun-handling such as the draw (likely to be necessary in self-defense) and reloading (unlikely to be needed in self-defense), some for transitions to multiple targets, some for shooting on the move, some that use cover, and some that are combinations of these.

I don’t practice all of those things at once for most of the practice, because if you try to practice 5 things simultaneously, when several of them are much weaker than the others, you won’t actually improve much.  So…if I can practice specific shooting skills individually without destroying my ability to respond effectively “on the street” (had to use that phrase somewhere), why does the author assume that competition shooters 1) will train themselves to never use cover, or 2) won’t be able to use cover?

I note that I do ALSO practice doing those things simultaneously, because integration is something that also needs to be practiced.  But integration is not the ONLY thing that should be practiced.

4. You’re limiting your configuration possibilities. There are only so many configurations for a shooting stage in a match. A person can become like a trained pony and expect certain things when shooting rather than reacting to the clear and present danger at hand. No matter how you cut it, this can be a bad habit to form that will get you killed.

I wish he had started with this, really, because it demonstrates that he really has no experience with competition shooting at all.  I have only been shooting USPSA and Multigun for 10 years, with an average of 16 local matches per year plus between 3 and 5 major matches each year.   In the over 650 stages I’ve shot in that time, I have yet to shoot even two stages that let me “expect certain things when shooting” because they were so similar (other than when shooting USPSA classifiers, which by definition are supposed to be set up in a specific, repeatable fashion).

So, the first part of what he said makes no sense, as it is completely wrong with respect to competition shooting.  The second part, about “reacting to the clear and present danger at hand” doesn’t really make sense either.  Or does he not do practice drills when training?  How exactly does he create a clear and present danger to react to every time, in his personal practice?

Oh, he doesn’t?  He just does different combinations of targets, with different numbers of shots, at different distances, under different circumstances?  How is that different from a stage setup?  (And yes, there are ways to create new reactive situations in practice.  But the vast majority of the time, in personal practice, people don’t do it that way because you need to be able to hit your target with accuracy at speed first before making it even harder.)

“Muscle memory is what controls your ability to shoot under extreme stress. If your muscles remember doing the same things over and over then that is what they will do. Shooting two close targets, five medium range target, and four long range targets at varying heights is great for a match, but isn’t very realistic.”

This makes no sense.  What USPSA, IDPA, or Multigun match does anything like this?  (And no, that ISN’T great for a match.  Matter of fact, that match would suck.)

He’s making an argument against something that doesn’t happen in competitions, which again shows that he doesn’t really have any understanding of competition shooting.

What happens when your strong side is injured in a fight and you have to shoot with your weak hand? Or you trip and have to shoot from your back? Did you practice these things while preparing for that three-gun shoot? Of course you didn’t. A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances.

Last I knew, lots of competition stages had required strong-hand-only and weak-hand-only sections.  Last year I shot in several matches in which I started from the supine position and shot from the ground.  And even better—why is he assuming that people who practice competition shooting ONLY practice competition shooting?

His arguments seem often to be “this isn’t in a competition match, therefore competition shooters can’t do it” which fails a simple logic test.  It is like saying “Indy 500 racecar drivers never make a right turn, therefore they can’t drive regular cars on the road since they’d have to make right turns.”

Ridiculous, right?

If instead he means “practicing this type of shooting will train you to do incorrect things” that might be different, but other than his cover comment above, that isn’t the type of argument he is making.  He is saying because it doesn’t happen in a match, you won’t be able to do it if you are a competition shooter.

(I’ll deal with his “trains for the worst case scenario” comment at the end of this.)

5. Competition shooting breeds an environment of gizmos, gadgets, and race guns. Reflex sights are great, but batteries fail. Any electronic gadget can and will fail, especially under harsh conditions. Daily carry is harsh! My gun gets wet, dirty, and beat up daily.

I actually take care of my carry gun, because I want it to be in good shape.  That’s immaterial to the discussion though, just like his comment.

Competition shooting breeds rapid innovation–which is why our military now uses red dot sights (hint:  those are battery-operated sights that originated in competition shooting, and now are used throughout our military).  And I’m pretty sure that people would agree that Iraq and Afghanistan qualify as “harsh conditions.”

His comment about “daily carry” is interesting, though—because now he seems to be talking about pistol shooting instead of rifle shooting, even though most of his earlier comments ignored the pistol.

It is certainly true that in competition, race guns exist.  Some of the USPSA Open guns are the most space-gun-looking things out there.  Example:

 

However, what he is missing (due to his obvious ignorance of competition shooting) is that there are a number of other divisions in which people shoot their out-of-the-box stock Glock 17, S&W M&P, and Springfield XDm. Or any one of a number of other guns.

Sure, plenty of people do work on their guns, smoothing the trigger, different sights, different grips–but that is true for all folks. Plenty of people do the exact same to their carry gun.

His comments here simply make no sense. Competition drives excellence to extremes, and the gear needed is treated harshly, and tested thoroughly. Again, that’s why our military now uses red dot sights.

The other big consideration is that the more there is hanging off your gun, the more likely you are to snag your gun upon drawing it from the holster. Competition shooters usually have belts set up for just that competition. Everything on the belt is easily reached and even the holster is built for speed. You aren’t going to carry your gun in the same manner that you shoot it in a competition. You’d walk around looking like Wyatt Earp at best and an idiot at worst.”

How that has anything to do with his main contention, I don’t see.  Remember, he started this out with:
“I’m not anti-competition shooting, but I do find fault with most of the competitions out there. The reason being they aren’t realistic and cause the shooter to form extremely bad habits that can get them killed on the street. “

Aren’t realistic:  True.  They aren’t supposed to be simulations of self-defense situations (no matter how IDPA advertises).  They are supposed to be tests of shooting skills, not tests of combat skills or self-defense skills.  As such, saying they are bad for that reason makes no sense.  (Though it is demonstrably true that having good shooting skills will make you more effective in terms of combat and self-defense.)

Where are any sort of arguments supporting his contention of how competitions make you form “extremely bad habits that can get them killed on the street,” though?

So a different holster and belt is used.  Does this mean that people don’t practice with their carry gun and their carry holster?  He seems to be making the assumption (which is often made, really) that competition shooters only practice for competition shooting, and therefore have no skills applicable to self-defense or combat.

Other than being really fast and accurate, of course. (Remember, Windham started out by saying that competition shooters are really fast and accurate.)  I would think that would be useful, but maybe not.

“Again, I’m not against matches or competition shooting. My point is to make you think. If you shoot IDPA or any other discipline, that’s great! Just don’t neglect real world training for real world situation that can occur. Mix things up, find new and different ways to challenge yourself and don’t live life preparing for a competition when your life is on the line!”

This interests me, because I completely agree with his last two sentences.  However, since that is NOT what he was talking about for pretty much the entirety of the rest of the article, this makes little sense.

He said up front that competition shooting instills habits that will get you killed on the street.  Then says “If you shoot IDPA or any other discipline, that’s great!”  I’m not sure that instilling habits that get me killed is great.

But I’m not worried, either, because what he said earlier was either incorrect due to a complete lack of understanding of competition shooting on his part, or incorrect due to a lack of logic on his part.  He even says in the end, train ALSO for real life (by which I assume he means self-defense or combat, as competitions occur in real life also, they aren’t online)–which means that if something doesn’t appear in a competition, that doesn’t mean a competition shooter can’t do it.

After all, just because we shoot competitions, doesn’t mean that is ALL we can do.

I would suggest that Mr. Windham do the following:

1) Actually go to a major match for either Multigun, USPSA, and IDPA, whereupon he will most likely get his ass handed to him judging from his shooting resume, whereupon he will see a rating scale for what the best can actually do,

2) Talk with competition shooters about what training they do, to fix his erroneous assumptions about how competition shooters only train in competition skills,

3) Think logically and practically about this comment: “ A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances” to recognize how it is not only logically ridiculous, but also detrimental to good practice as it will screw up training priorities.

There was more I was going to say, but this is already a book—and it is clear that Mr. Windham doesn’t actually know anything about action shooting competitions, can’t tell the difference between “this sport doesn’t contain that skill” and “people who shoot in this sport don’t have that skill,” and even with that can’t come up with logical reasons to support his contention that shooting competitions will get you “killed on the street.”

I was originally hoping this was satire, but it doesn’t seem to be, and again we hear from someone with no knowledge of a subject pontificating about “the street” due to his extensive experience in corrections and law enforcement plus his NRA training and his ability to score Expert and Marksman with pistol and rifle at LEO training levels.

Dude, I suggest you take a look at the Dunning-Kruger effect, and think seriously about why I would suggest that to you with respect to your understanding of shooting.

Why did I call this post “Ignorance and the Internet”?  Because the internet has again demonstrated that no matter how ignorant someone is, they can still find a podium from which to expound their lack of understanding.

What Gun?

I don’t care what gun you buy.  Really, I don’t.

—Well, I DO, but I’m only going to bother making suggestions or talking with you about it if you are going to 1) actually listen and act on my advice, and 2) plan on having your firearm be more than a talisman held to ward off evil things.

Lately, I’ve seen all sort of people asking some version of the extremely common question:  “What gun should I get for self-defense/carry/home defense?”  Variations on this also include “What gun should I suggest for my friend…” and “What gun is BEST for….”

Gun1After which, you get the common answers of “revolver, because reliable” or “.380, because less recoil” or “.45, because stopping power.”  (Though my favorite is “Jiminez, because you don’t need to spend that much–you’ll only shoot it a couple of times.”)  A couple of groups I’m in have a lot of these conversations happening.

And almost all answers to questions of this type are nonsense, from people who have no idea what they are talking about with respect to firearms (though they are completely well-meaning!) who also don’t understand anything about ballistics, violence, and self-defense.

If someone gives an answer before anyone asks the following questions, then those answers are nonsense that may not be even remotely relevant:

  1. Is this for daily carry, range practice, or home defense?
  2. What experience do you have with guns?  With rifles, shotguns, or handguns?
  3. Are you actually going to practice with this?

There are of course more questions needed if you really want to help someone choose a good firearm for their situation–but if no one has asked even those basic three, then no one has any idea what they should suggest which means that their suggestions ONLY relate to what THEY happen to like no matter how much those suggestions are completely inappropriate for the situation.

So if you ask me–sure, we can have a conversation about finding an appropriate firearm for your needs and requirements that is reliable and accurate for you to use competently under stress.  I am happy to talk guns, and am fine with helping you choose one that fits your needs as well as possible.

hipoint0But if you aren’t going to practice with it, or don’t plan on actually following my advice because you actually just want validation of your own choice (most likely based on cosmetic details and marketing hype)—we don’t need to actually talk about it.  Sure, go buy that Judge.  Or that Jiminez.  Or that Hi-Point.  Whatever. If you have it on you and can get it out in time during a self-defense situation, and it goes bang at least once, it really won’t matter which one you have.  All guns will be equally poor choices for you. You’ll be equally as unlikely to hit anything no matter what gun you have, and many self-defense situations end with just showing the firearm or after the first (defensive) shot.  So you’ll have a chance at getting equally lucky with your defensive actions no matter what gun you decided to buy.

People ACTUALLY interested in self-defense wouldn’t rely on that, of course.  But those people would practice and make good choices with respect to equipment.  If you aren’t one of those, and plan on having your firearm-shaped talisman simply create a magic bubble that doesn’t allow evil near you…

…buy whatever you want.  I can’t help you. So I don’t care what gun you get.  (If I did care, all it would do is frustrate me because you aren’t actually interested in being able to defend yourself.  You think that the gun will do that for you, and I can’t help that type of thinking.)

So I don’t care what gun you buy.

 

I have to include the Dynamic Pie Concepts Ultimate Hi-Point video, because it is brilliant.

What do you need to CCW?

The difference between NEED and WANT is that need means “required.”  Wants are not required.

So what do you NEED if you want to CCW?

Not much, really.  Gun, ammo and appropriate carrier, holster–that’s the equipment.  Your state’s version of a permit.  Some type of clothing that’ll cover the gun.

And that’s it.  That’s all you need to carry a concealed firearm.  You have a right to self-defense, you have a right to use appropriate tools for self-defense—and that’s all you need.

This, however, is completely separate from whether or not that will 1) help keep you and your loved ones safe, and 2) keep you out of jail or civil court due to your actions.

If you want those things (or at least, a better chance of doing those two things), then you are going to want more than what you merely need.

Think you already know how to use a gun?  Okay—how do you know?*  Have you actually rated yourself in terms of pistol skills, using common drills and metrics?  How’s your safety practice?  What’s your skill level on draw speed and accuracy?

Think you already know how to defend yourself?  How do you know?*  Have you studied self-defense tactics?  Gotten training in effective choices?  Can you protect your loved ones in your home and outside?  Do you know how to recognize incipient violence, and how to de-escalate?  Do you know appropriate choices to handle violence?  Where did you get that information?  Have you ever had stress-based training?  Scenario training, force-on-force practice?

Think you know the laws regarding use of force and self-defense? How do you know?*  Can you recognize lethal force situations?  Can you recognize when lethal force is NOT a legal choice?  Do you have other response choices available to you, or are your choices either “gun” or “nothing”?

There is a lot more to carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense than simply “having a gun on you.”  Sure, that’s really all you need.

But it shouldn’t be all you want.

——

HowDoYouKnow*Notice how often I’m asking “how do you know?”  I’ve found that many, many people who say “I’m a good shot” or “I know how to defend myself” are just guessing–they really don’t know.  They’ve never gotten training in self-defense, they’ve never tested themselves objectively–they actually have NO IDEA.  Luckily for them, most of them will never get attacked, especially with a lethal level of force, so they’ll never have to find out that their abilities just aren’t that good.  It will mean that people around them will have to put up with them acting like skilled experts, though, even though they aren’t. Hm.  I think I may need to write about this more in a later post.

——-

Edited to add, due to a NUMBER of messages I’ve gotten  (5.  So far.)  :  Yes, I know the graphic is logically incorrect.  Quite so, actually!   What makes it funny is how people understand exactly what it means (very clearly) even though what it SAYS makes no logical sense.  (And it is so clear, even though it is obviously wrong, that many people miss the fact that it is wrong.)

And yeah, I didn’t make it clear that I knew that, and no one knows my sense of humor, so of course people think that I can’t read Venn diagrams.  Fine, fine.  {sigh}

Edited to add more, because I got to thinking about why this diagram makes so much sense to people, even though it is logically possible.  (You can’t know and not-know something at the same time..):

If you treat it from a statement case, instead of a meaning case, it really IS logically consistent.  After all, if there is something you know and you don’t know, either:

1) you don’t know you know it, or
2) you know that you don’t know it

This diagram picks only one of those to go with.   (The first one.)

In terms of meaning, then yeah, logically you can’t know and not-know something.

You could think of it in terms of operators, instead of cases:  This circle contains a group of things.  The operation is that we know this group of things.  This other circle’s operation is that we DON’T know this group of things.  If an item is in both circles, it depends on which operation we apply first:

We don’t know this thing, and we know it.  (don’t know operates first)
We know this thing, but we don’t know it.  (know operates first)

“Know” of course also meaning realize.  (We realize that we don’t know this thing.  We don’t realize that we do know this thing.)

That probably is why this diagram is so clear to people, even though from a meaning perspective it is impossible.  From an operation or status perspective, it makes perfect sense.

9mm vs .45 — which really IS better?

Yes, I’m diving into the “9mm vs .45” war.  No, I don’t care that you have a preference.  (I don’t care in that it doesn’t matter to me, though obviously it should matter to you.)  Yes, I realize that many people will immediately hate me no matter what I’m going to say next.

Before I jump in, though, here’s my question to you:  Do you know what current research says about ballistic effectiveness when comparing modern self-defense rounds between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP?

If the answer is “No” then your opinion is useless, whether it happens to be right or wrong.  You see, here’s the deal:  Your ignorant opinion (ignorance:  lack of knowledge, which is not the same as stupidity) is simply not as valid as someone else’s knowledgeable opinion.  This doesn’t mean that you might not be right, and the other person can’t be wrong—but it DOES mean that if you start by saying “Well, I don’t know much about it, but I think…” —-then the rest of your sentence really should be— “….that I should shut up and learn about the subject before I express my opinion.”  If you happen to be right in your opinion, it is purely due to luck, since you have already admitted you don’t know what you are talking about.

Do you have a caliber preference in terms of self-defense round?  Probably.  Is that preference based on “feel,” personal expectations, personal experience, opinions heard on the internet, opinions heard from friends, or wide-scale research data?

Because while you are welcome to go with whatever your preference is, the only reason list above that is valid for reliable results is the last one—wide-scale research data.  How it “feels” doesn’t tell you anything.  Personal expectations based on what?   Personal experience—well, once you’ve shot 1000 people with varying rounds for comparison purposes, get back to me.  Opinions heard on the internet or from friends?  Please.  I’ve heard people advocating disassembling a handgun one-handed and putting the parts in a bag on the dashboard while coming to a stop on the highway when pulled over by the state patrol in order to make the LEO more comfortable with the firearm.

(No, I’m not kidding about that.  I wish I was.)

So why should you listen to my opinion?  Because I’m right?  How about because I’m telling you not to take my opinion as gospel, and instead telling you to look at what the research says, and what it means.

10mm-1

 

I realize that is actually considered sacrilege to the “.45acp is God’s Own Round” crowd and the “9mm capacity makes all the difference” crowd and the “.40 is the best of both worlds” crowd.  (Not to mention what the 10mm Manly Man are like on this topic.)  And yet—opinions based on lack of fact mean nothing.

Oh, good lord, I forgot the .357Sig fanatics.  Yeah, them too.

 

I’m bringing this up because I have a friend who carries a Glock 30 in .45acp all the time.   He likes to shoot IDPA matches, but realizes that particular gun is non-optimal for the IDPA game for all that IDPA touts itself as being for “real concealed carry” training.  In SSP or CDP he is at a “compact gun” disadvantage, and in SSP he is at a serious recoil disadvantage.

He asked me about switching to a 9mm for IDPA, and I asked him (since I knew he carried his G30) if he wanted IDPA to be for trigger time with his carry gun, or instead wanted to work on winning matches.  After all, while trigger time is always good, the grip on a full-size 9mm Glock is different from the grip on a G30, and if he wanted to work with both, it was going to take even more practice.  So, did he want to mazimize his SD practice and also play at IDPA, or did he want to practice with two guns, work on SD, and work on IDPA at the same time?  He decided that was really the question, and started thinking about it.

(I realize that at this time, the people who carry 5 different guns and rotate them out weekly or have the “you should be able to handle EVERY gun!” attitude will be wondering why this is a problem.  For you folks, never mind.)

Back to what my friend was thinking about:  When I thought about it, I really wondered if that really was the right question.  What if, instead, the real question is:  are you completely wedded to the idea of a .45acp for self-defense?

You know what current research says about modern self-defense rounds in 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP?  It says that 1) all are marginal in effectiveness, 2) reliable physiological stops only occur due to disruption of the central nervous system (CNS), 3) those calibers work equally well (or rather, equally badly) for shots placed in the CNS, and 4) all calibers (including .22) work equally well for psychological stops.  Oh:  5) Heavier bullets (in pistols) work slightly better to defeat intermediate barriers, if your lifestyle happens to be such that you often have to shoot through doors and windshields.

(How many .45/.40 folks just said, “Well yeah, see, mine is better” I wonder?)

How often DO you want to be able to shoot through intermediate barriers?  (Unless you have a job that potentially requires it, of course.)  Don’t people who think about normal citizen self-defense usually worry about the exact opposite?

So here’s the thing:  unless you have a job that requires you to have slightly better than pretty bad barrier penetration, there is no effective difference between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP.  For physiological stops, they are all very bad unless you get a precise CNS hit, whereupon they all work equally well.  For psychological stops, they all work as equally well as a .22 LR out of a Beretta Bobcat.

So truthfully, my suggestion to my friend?  Think about carrying a G17 or a G19 instead of that G30, and use a G17 or a G34 in competition.  The grip, trigger, and recoil will all be similar, you’ll have more rounds for self-defense (without giving up much of anything in effectiveness), and you’ll be more competitive in IDPA all at the same time.

That isn’t to say that everyone should carry a 9mm.  You should carry whatever you like!  This merely is my solution to my friend’s problem, and YOU may not have this problem.  You may just like the feel of a 1911 in .45acp better plus you think JMB was the last True Prophet.  Or you may like the .40 because muzzle blast, recoil, AND capacity should all be maximized simultaneously.  Or maybe you like 9mm because…..well, there’s probably a reason out there somewhere to like 9mm.

Pick what you like.  But 1) don’t base your decision on some supposed “advantage” to one caliber in terms of effectiveness—there isn’t one, and 2) don’t let your personal preference get in the way of making the most logical choice for all the reasons you might need a gun.

And quit telling me that your caliber is better than the others for random nonsense reasons that have no basis in reality.

 

(No, I haven’t forgotten about the “How to Learn To Shoot” series—part IIA will be coming relatively soon.)

I need a gun to feel like a man?

Awhile back, people locally made a number of comments on a local mall’s Facebook page about the mall’s proposed policy to make itself a “gun-free zone.”  The comments were fairly standard, saying that if the mall didn’t want to allow them effective self-defense, that they wouldn’t shop there.  Almost all of the comments stayed civil and factual from the pro-self-defense side.  (Not quite all—there are always idiots on every side.  But almost all.)

Whereupon a number of people commented back with things like:

  • “I’m not paranoid enough to need to pack a gun when shopping.”
  • “I’m glad that people who think they need guns will stay away.”
  • “Why are you so scared?  Why do you need a gun just to go out in public?”
  • And my favorite:  “I’m glad the freaks who need a gun to feel like a man will stay away.”

….and the comments went downhill from there.

I really don’t understand why people who say those things happen to think that way. After all, surely they have a reason to believe that.  If they didn’t have a reason, they wouldn’t just make up vicious derogatory commentary, would they?  Perhaps they had some information that I simply don’t have.

Recently, I had a friend (we’d been friends for a number of years) post a very anti-gun screed, to which I replied with a large set of statistics (and links for all of the citations where I got my facts, such as the CDC and the FBI)—and the entirety of her response was:  “Scared Thomas? Take your precious guns and move to El Salvador.”

Um, what?  I said:  “Scared?  Hm.  So, your response to a set of statistics refuting your commentary was a personal attack?  Why?”

Her response?  “Are you scared of [sic] someone is going to take your precious firearms away or that I have an opinion?  We get it already Thomas, you love your guns, maybe more than life itself.  Compensate much?”

What?   This was the response to a set of logical arguments backed with statistics on a particular topic?

Is it that scary to actually look at the facts?  It is so frightening that people might need to re-think their beliefs in the face of actual data describing reality?  So upsetting that moving immediately to personal attacks seems to be a good response?

Paranoid?  Compensating?  Scared?  Need a gun to feel like a man?

Why would people jump to those conclusions?  I mean, I know that for many people, cognitive dissonance results in serious emotional reactions—but immediately jumping to ridiculous conclusions that make no sense, giving emotional motives to other people that have no basis in reality?  Seriously?  I mean, I’ve read this article:  Raging Against Self-Defense, but you’d assume that most people would at least START a discussion before immediately reacting emotionally.

You see, when I carry, I like to think it is because I’m prudent, intelligent, and and have taken responsibility for the safety of myself and the people I love.

I wear a seatbelt whenever I’m in a motor vehicle, even though I haven’t been in even a minor fender-bender in years.  I have a fire extinguisher in my home, even though it has never been on fire.  (Well, the outside was once when my neighbor set his lawn on fire, but I was elsewhere at the time.)  I keep jumper cables and a spare tire in my car, though I haven’t needed them in years.    I wear safety glasses when using a power saw, even though nothing has ever contacted the glasses.  When cleaning up my student’s chemistry experiments, I wear protective gloves even though none of the materials they are using are likely to be remotely dangerous.

In a similar fashion, I carry a concealed firearm because 1) I have looked into the prevalence of crime in my area and the probability of my lifestyle intersecting with someone else’s criminal action–and it is low, but not zero, 2) I am aware that no one else is able to protect both myself and my loved ones in a self-defense situation (most likely, no one else would even try), and 3) taking steps for protective purposes (like having a fire extinguisher, wearing safety glasses, and wearing seltbelts) is not difficult—you just make it a part of your lifestyle.

I’m not paranoid—it is unlikely that I’ll ever have to use any weapon at all.  (And that is a good thing.)  I don’t think I’ll “need” a gun—if I thought I was going someplace where I’d need a gun, I’d simply not go–but if I had to go, I’d bring 30 friends with guns, preferably all armed with cannon.  In a similar fashion, I’m not scared to go out without a gun—but like wearing a seatbelt, since it is simple and potentially useful, why not do it?

As for the “feel like a man” comment—it doesn’t really deserve a response (particularly since a number of CCW permit holders I know are female) but I will say:  “Projecting much?”

I realize it derails the whole “trying to be calm and rational in discussion” thing I’m trying for here, but seriously:  I’m tired of attempting to explain my perfectly rational behavior to idiots who prefer to make commentary based on the ignorant emotional projections of people who can’t be bothered to learn anything remotely resembling facts, or use any form of basic logic.

Want to discuss firearms and violence?  Excellent.  I’d be happy to engage in a discussion in which we debate so that we end up closer to the truth in our understanding of the world.  Please read and follow these rules for having a rational discussion, and we’ll have a great time.


Edited to add:

Read this link:  But YOU SAID THIS!!! Or why arguing with crazy people is pointless.

The entire thing is good—-but the last paragraph is completely brilliant.  And quite frankly, leaving out the hyperbole due to frustration, is pretty much spot-on.  (Thanks to Kozball for the link!)