You’ll never miss on the street…

(Second in the series about thoughts spawned by attending the Rangemaster Instructor Development Class with Tom Givens.  Last time, the post was about something that hadn’t occurred to me.  This time, it is about something I already knew, explained in a different fashion.)

If you are carrying a concealed firearm, and have occasion to use it in public on the street (in a Walmart parking lot, at the local gas station, in a Walgreens store) you are never going to miss.

No, seriously, you aren’t.  No round you fire will have a bullet that misses.

That’s the problem, you see.  In public, every single bullet fired from your handgun will hit something.  You will not miss.  You may not hit your assailant, but you WILL hit SOMETHING.

That something may be a pregnant woman who was shopping.  That something may be a 4-year old child skipping merrily to school one morning.  That something may be 9 other people hit either by errant shots or by fragments.  Maybe you’ll get lucky and only hit brick buildings—but since you are already having to defend your life, it already isn’t your lucky day.

You aren’t going to miss.  Every bullet is going to hit something. As such, your practice needs to reflect the importance of hitting your target every time.

Now, this concept isn’t new—but I don’t really like the common “Every bullet has a lawyer with a 5 million dollar personal injury suit attached to it!!” type of phrasing, because we do not want people too scared to defend themselves.  We don’t want people thinking “I better not do this because I might get sued” at the moment where they have to be making a decision to defend themselves.

We need people thinking in practice:  I’m going to hit my target every time, and I’m going to practice enough to consistently hit my target every time.  That way, if I need to use my gun, I’ll do what I practiced so I don’t have to think about anything but saving my life.

While yes, you need to think about your surroundings in a self-defense situation, that is different from being too terrified of possible consequences to act.  We practice to hit our target at speed under stress.  We use this thought (“You aren’t going to miss in real life–you WILL hit something.”) to drive our practice so that we have the discipline to hit our target under stress in a real-life self-defense situation.

I practice differently with my competition gun and my concealment gun.  (This shouldn’t be a surprise.)  When practicing with my competition gun from my competition rig given an audible start signal, I push myself in terms of speed and movement, to the point where I might miss the target entirely.  I then dial it back until I get hits, get better at it, then dial it up again.  I push myself to the point where I miss.  When practicing with steel targets, I miss fairly often when I push myself.

When practicing to defend myself with my carry gun from concealment, on paper targets I have a small “sufficient hit” zone.  Part of the rest of the paper target is a “insufficient hit” zone, and worse than that simply isn’t acceptable.  If my technique is bad enough that I’m putting shots into the “insufficient hit” zone, I need to fix it.  My “pushing the speed” results in occasional shots into the “insufficient hit” zone, NOT the miss zone.  I don’t allow shots into the “miss zone” when I’m practicing to defend myself.

That’s significantly different from my competition training–and that’s just fine.  I might be using the same target for both, but they mean very different things.  I have a different mindset, I have a different mode of practice, and I have a different set of “what is allowed” for accuracy.

Here’s the two versions of “acceptable hit thinking” that I use for practice (of course I don’t write the words on the targets I use, but that’s how I think about it).  Obviously competition shooting is on the left, and self-defense practice is on the right:

You aren’t going to miss on the street.  So make sure that the hits you get are the ones you want.

 

Crime definitions you should think about…

I took the Rangemaster Instructor Development Course with Tom Givens just the other weekend. For the most part, it pretty much validated for me (using actual research data) the training priorities I teach with respect to citizen self-defense—which made me happy, because if I am teaching people to defend themselves, it is important I’m doing it right.  If I do it wrong, it can literally get people killed.

So yeah—a good presentation (from the holster) is important, point-shooting is stupid as using the sights can be done and WILL make a difference, shooting on the move, using cover, and having flashlights might be useful but almost never are even remotely necessary in a self-defense situation and as priorities fall far far far far far behind 1) having a gun, 2) being able to get it out quickly, and 3) being able to get multiple shots on target quickly.

….and what a surprise, citizen self-defense data, FBI agent data, and DEA agent data all support this.

Unsurprisingly, the class also gave me a number of things to think about, mostly about new ways to present things I already teach which makes sense as it was what the class was about.

However, occasionally there was something in the class that REALLY struck me.  As such, over the next couple of months, I’ll be writing some articles about some things that perhaps you haven’t thought about–and should, if you think that it is important that you be prepared to defend yourself.

Here’s the first:

When is the last time you heard someone being charged with attempted murder?  Never, right?  Why is that?

Because to convict on that, you have to prove intent to kill. And intent is tough.

So instead, what gets charged for the exact same situation?  Aggravated assault.

Here’s the thing–because of the wording, most of us think of “aggravated assault” as a slightly-more-serious version of “assault.”  But here’s the actual legal definition (wording may change slightly per jurisdiction, but it’ll still mean this) according to the FBI:

Aggravated assault—An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded.

Note the important phrase:  “…means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.”

That’s attempted murder.  However, since “intent to kill” is not part of the definition, it is easier to get a conviction on an aggravated assault charge.

Why is this important?  Because from a self-defense perspective, the criminal was trying to kill someone–or at the very least, knew what they were doing could kill someone else and didn’t care if it happened.

So when you look at crime statistics and think about homicides, you should probably actually add the “aggravated assault” category AND the homicide category together—because in both cases, the victim could have gotten killed.  In the aggravated assault cases, the criminal was just incompetent, or the victim got lucky.

In Omaha in 2012, there were 41 criminal homicides.  Sounds scary, but not a large number.  However, there were also 1442 aggravated assaults in the same year and every single one of those could have ended up a criminal homicide if the criminal had been even a little less incompetent, or the victim a little less lucky.

That we know of, criminals tried to kill someone else one thousand four hundred and eighty-three times in Omaha in 2012.

That’s a number you need to think about.

(In Lincoln criminals tried to kill someone six hundred and seventy one times in 2012.  And just so you know, in both Omaha and Lincoln, aggravated assaults were reported several times more often than robberies.  Yes, criminals doing something to kill you happens more often than criminals trying to rob you.  In Lincoln, 3.4 times as often.  In Omaha, 1.8 times as often.)

Source for violent crime stats:  FBI UCR Data-Reporting Tool

 

Stress Training…

I’m a big fan of stress training.  And when I say stress training, I mean a range of various training modes from light stress such as using a timer with people watching, to full-on adrenalized force-on-force with weapons, significant energetic verbal interaction, and additional special effects to simulate reality as close as possible.

Recently, there was a request from someone to actually talk more in depth on this topic, so here’s a brief discussion on the general concept:

Multiple studies over time have clearly shown that stress creates physiological changes in the human body that effect our abilities to perform physical and mental actions.  The level of stress felt by the individual (which is NOT the same thing for all people in the same situation) can occur along a huge range, and thus can create physiological reactions that range from minor to (extremely!) major.

So, the First Statement of stress reactions and training:  Nothing is an absolute.

What happens to a person physiologically depends on the perceived level of threat/stress, which is a function of immediacy, proximity, experience, and understanding of the situation.  It can also be effected by duration of stress, but that isn’t something we normally consider much in terms of citizen self-defense situations, though it IS something that needs to be considered for people whose jobs involve repeated stress events like law enforcement, military (on deployment), fire fighters, and some other first responders.  (Stress is cumulative and seems to be more geometric than additive.  In other words, stress over time ramps up quickly.)

Second Statement of stress reactions and training:  The most common physiological reactions felt by people under significant amounts of stress/adrenaline are, in no particular order:  tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, time dilation, increased speed and strength, and a decrease of physical control and precision.  (There are more, but those are the major ones.)  After the event has occurred, the “crash” that accompanies the stress response cycle (not only the adrenalized feeling that still occurs afterward, but the body’s reaction to that adrenaline going away) sometimes includes inability to speak coherently, tendency to babble, inability to remember time sequences and events in a precise and correct manner, shaking, nausea, light-headedness, and shock.

An example of these first two statements in use:  The first time a person is involved in a potential life-threatening self-defense situation (and realizes it), the stress is huge and crushing, and the person experiences significant tunnel vision, doesn’t hear anything around him, feels like he’s mired in mud and everything moves incredibly slowly, and his ability to do things seems stunted because he’s incredibly clumsy.  Afterward, he is shaking and can’t stop himself from talking, and his recollection of the details of what happened and in what order are significantly different from a video recording of the event.  He feels weak and sick to his stomach.

He then decides that this will never happen to him again.  He takes training that includes stress-training and force-on-force.

He then gets into another life-threatening situation—but this time it is a car crash.  The circumstances do not match what he has been training for.  His stress level is significantly high, but the practice he has done has made him better at dealing with the physiological effects.  He still feels them, but not quite to the same extent, and performs better (with a better ability to think and respond effectively) based on his experiences with stress.

Later in his life, he experiences another life-threatening self-defense situation.  (He’s not having a good year.)  Several things are in his favor:  He recognizes the situational type of attack, and has trained for it, therefore his stress level is significantly lower.   In addition, his training has prepared him for acting during high stress events.  As such, not only does he have less tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and self-discipline issues (the physiological reactions are significantly less serious), but his ability to handle said issues and react effectively is significantly better.

Afterward, he still feels some of the effects of the adrenal crash (though it is much less since he was less stressed than the first time this happened to him) however his ability to mitigate the affects is much better, AND his training tells him to shut up and not babble things that may not be correct.

For any person, the amount of stress that occurs is based on the perceived level of the situation—so the same situation may cause extremely different reactions in two different people with two different levels of training and experience.  Reactions to stress are NOT absolutes, so if someone says “This WILL happen to you, you WON’T be able to do this other thing” then there is a problem, because it doesn’t happen that way.

Sure, if you are untrained, have no experience with stress and violence, and are taken by surprise, the stress levels you will feel will probably be such that your ability to respond will be close to nonexistent.  But we train for a reason—and training both lowers perceived stress, and helps you handle the physiological reactions that occur.

So—sure, under stress you will want to stare at the attacker (or turn your head away completely), bring up your hands (perhaps in front of your face), and not pay attention to anything else.  If you have no training, experience, or practice in dealing with stress, that’s probably exactly what you are going to do. (If you can do that much.)  WITH practice, you CAN handle a firearm, aim using the sights, maintain situational awareness, move, and react effectively.  Among other things.

Violence, stress, and physical reactions are not absolutes—and they aren’t simple things.   The good thing is that you don’t need to be able to diagram the neural pathway and list the neurotransmitters engaged when stress stimulates the the hippocampus and amygdala…  (which again, is a simplification of what occurs in your brain and body)  …you can simply get good realistic training that increases your ability to handle stress, and then get training that realistically simulates self-defense situations to enable you to understand them—which will lower your perceived stress in self-defense situations.  The combination of those things WILL make you more capable of doing what you need to do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

More to come in a later article regarding specifics of what you can do for “stress inoculation,” which is a commonly used term describing training that 1) increases your ability to control your body and deal with the reactions caused by stress in general, and 2) reduces perceived stress during altercations by adding experience with those situations.

 

Some additional reading, if you want more.  The following is more phrased to apply to unarmed self-defense, but really is about all self-defense:

Marc MacYoung’s No Nonsense Self-Defense Page
(Warning:  Marc has a unique writing style.)

Killed in the Streets again…

“This is likely to be my last post. This morning I was told in no uncertain terms that using the sights is slow and I should point shoot ‘cause the fight will be less than three yards and I won’t have time to use the sights and shooting competition will likely get me killed on the streets and fine motor control…”

…such was the post from a friend of mine the other day on Facebook.

(Jump to the end for the TL;DR version, but first make sure to watch the video in the middle.)

Leaving aside the research on actual engagement distances for citizen self-defense situations, the research on sight usage (and the resulting effect on the various police departments that have updated their training methodology on sighted fire and have statistics on hit ratios that far exceed the national norms), our beyond-grade-school-level understanding of what the terms “gross motor skill” and “fine motor skill” actually entail, plus the many easily-found examples of using the sights at great speed….

….leaving ALL that aside because even a CURSORY search by anyone with Internet access could find those and therefore wouldn’t tell my friend anything that stupid…

….I thought I’d address through a simple example the “shooting competition will likely get me killed on the streets” section of that particular pile of nonsense.

On Saturday, August 22nd in Grand Island at the Heartland Shooting Park, the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) had their annual meeting, which among other things included informational presentations by various trainers and content-area experts in the morning plus a number of training sessions and shooting opportunities in the afternoon.

One of those opportunities was an almost-Steel Challenge stage, which I ran for anyone who wanted to give it a try. The stage was roughly Roundabout (for those who know SC stages) and centerfire pistol shooters could either run the stage from a holster or if they didn’t have a sufficient holster, from a table. Given time constraints (plus ammunition constraints on the part of the shooters) we only ran three strings of fire. We threw out the slowest run and added the other two together for score.

I of course shot it with my USPSA Production equipment setup—dropped/offset holster, BOSS hanger, CR Speed belt, Production-legal Glock 34. Other shooters (most of which had never shot a competition stage before) shot whatever handgun they had brought, from whatever holster they had.

After everyone got done, it occurred to me that here we had an opportunity to check how much competition shooting practice would get me killed on the streets. I would think that no matter what stupid ideas someone has about self-defense, we can all at least agree that with respect to CCW and self-defense, the primary handgun skillset is the ability to draw and get accurate shots on target quickly.

…and that’s what a Steel Challenge stage is all about—a good draw, and hitting those steel targets as fast as possible.. So, I grabbed a couple of people, and had them time and record me shooting the exact same stage, but this time with my actual carry gun from concealment. (At the end of the day, I had changed into different clothing to drive home, and was wearing my normal, everyday concealment rig, which meant I was using the gear I would be carrying “on the street” when my competition shooting would get me killed.)

Here’s the video:

…let’s make that really clear. Here were the times for the three runs using my USPSA rig—competition holster, belt, and gun.

1st Run: 3.70 2nd Run: 2.88 3rd Run: 3.40

My three runs with my carry holster/gun:

1st Run: 3.77  2nd Run: 4.32 3rd Run: 3.36

You can see that my first and third runs were effectively the same between my competition rig and my carry rig. The difference was in the second run, in which (with my carry rig) I forgot how to aim and had to take three makeup shots because I’m an idiot. With my competition rig I actually shot the second run correctly.

Out of the 37 entries in the centerfire pistol division of this stage, I won first with my competition gun. I got an unofficial third with my carry gun shooting from concealment, losing 2nd place by only 0.05 seconds to an A-class USPSA shooter using his competition gear. Another way of putting that: the nearest a non-competition shooter got to my CCW score was almost enough time for me to do an additional full string of fire. (The top three official shooters were competition shooters.) 28 of the 36 stage scores more than doubled my CCW score.

2015-PRT-SCscoresI participate in USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, and Multigun shooting competitions. The vast majority of my practice time is with my competition gun from my competition rig. And yet, with my carry gun from concealment, I was faster and more accurate than a random sampling of 34 other shooters who care about firearms ownership, who shot whatever gun they wanted, without concealment. (Some of whom, I’ve heard, say that competition shooting will get you killed on the street.)

I’m curious: What part of competition was going to get me killed there? The part where my shooting practice caused me to be faster and more accurate than almost everyone else except for the other people who shoot competitions and thus work on being better shooters?

 

TL;DR version: I shot a steel challenge stage with my carry gun from concealment almost as fast as with my competition gun from a competition holster, beating almost everyone else. 95% of my practice is with my competition rig. What part of competition shooting is going to get me killed on the street?

Gun Defenses and Disarms

I recently participated in a discussion regarding gun defenses, which started from a video by Polenar Tactical regarding how little it takes to cause a handgun’s slide to not function correctly.  It surprised me that many people didn’t know how easy it is to cause the slide of a semi-auto to not cycle correctly.  Merely putting a thumb on the rear of the slide is enough to stop the slide, and no, it doesn’t hurt your hand at all.

It led into a discussion about (after off-lining the gun) what to do when defending against a firearm:  perform a disarm at distance, use the body to control the gun, or enter while jamming.  For awhile at the beginning, there was some discussion as we all attempted to make sure we understood exactly what the other person meant by phrases like “jam the gun” or “use the body to control the gun.”  (Which was good, actually, because sometimes in discussions like that people don’t bother to make sure they are all talking about the same thing, and it goes downhill from there.)

It caught my attention a bit during the discussion about whether or not it was a good idea to close with the attacker and jam the gun, primarily because in my experience (which is limited to observations of training and force-on-force evolutions, not people actually being shot because having a large amount of experience at this is something I don’t want to gather) whether or not the defender should close is often highly based on the relative sizes of the attacker and defender.

Another way of saying that is if the attacker is bigger than you, closing with him isn’t a good idea unless you have no other choice.

Now–opinions vary on this.  Other people in the discussion had closing/jamming being their primary reaction.  (My response was “I bet you are a pretty big guy” because that would be an excellent choice for a big guy, though not necessarily for others.)

Here’s a little video showing the various conceptual choices you have regarding gun defenses.  In general, you can offline the gun and move outside, move inside, or you can offline the gun upward.  After that, you can perform a disarm/attack at distance, you can use your body to control the gun at distance, or you can close/jam the attacker.  Effectively, pretty much every gun defense (that doesn’t include weapons) is one of those things.

The video doesn’t include what to do after those points, and it definitely doesn’t include information about how to offline the gun in the first place.  You want to know how to get the attacker to miss the fact that you are removing yourself from harm’s way?  How to mis-align the attacker’s weapon so you don’t get shot?  Take a class.  Making it clear how to do that in public seems a great way to educate attackers, and I don’t really see a need for that.

The point of the video is to understand the common choices of entry, and then the pros and cons of the various followup ideas that are possible from that point–and there are certainly strengths and weaknesses for each.

In the video, I didn’t discuss at all what you can do with weapons of your own–such as having a gun and the ability to draw it quickly one handed for close-range shooting or having a quick-access blade for close-quarter work–because that changes things significantly.  It doesn’t make “not getting shot immediately” any easier, nor does it automatically make you safe or let you “win” if you think about it in that fashion.

But it does give you more choices.  For example, if you are moving in close to jam the gun, stopping the other person quickly isn’t easy to do, and you BOTH are effectively equal in terms of capabilities at that range, depending on your relative size.  If, however, you have a knife in hand, ANY strike you do can be significant. (That isn’t the same as debilitating, though.) Similarly, if you are able to jam the other person and simultaneously draw your own firearm and place shots into the attacker, that’s a big deal.

In those last two cases, size isn’t nearly as important a factor as it would be if you didn’t have a self-defense tool (read:  weapon) available to you.

There’s a lot of gun disarm/gun defense videos out there.  Many are pretty cool looking, some have solid technique.  Unfortunately, many are also pure nonsense in terms of actual effectiveness, much of which is because the technique itself is Hollywood-style crap that looks good but only works against someone who isn’t actually resisting.

When looking at gun defenses, bear in mind:

  • If the offline doesn’t work, you are dead.  It has to work against a resisting attacker.  The cool-looking gun strip at the end means nothing if you’ve already been shot in the face getting your hands on the gun.
  • If the technique is a distance disarm using arm strength that won’t work against someone who resists and can move, then it isn’t a good technique.
  • If the technique is a body-on-body gun jam that requires you to incapacitate the attacker while jamming the gun, then body size WILL make a difference unless you are lucky or catch the opponent by surprise.  (Because after that point in time your attacker has just as much chance to making a debilitating strike as you do at that range.)
  • If the guy teaching the technique won’t ever show you what it looks like versus an active attacker using a gas AirSoft gun and face/throat protection (or something similar, even a laser designator), he doesn’t think it’s any good either.
  • Different techniques are most effective for different people.  All techniques will not work equally for everyone.  Make sure you understand which ones fit your strengths best–and which ones you only try if you HAVE to do so.

Take this picture shown below, for example.  This is a promo picture from a certain training school/organization specifically for a gun defense seminar–and yet, looking at it (as a static picture, maybe a video would be better but I doubt it) it seems to violate several important things.  The direction of the gun is not controlled–the attacker can turn their wrist fairly easily as you can’t clamp very hard that way.  If the elbow strike by the defender is not significant, then the attacker is not particularly off-balance and the situation will effectively be on an even footing–except he has a gun that you don’t control, and he does.

What is stopping the attacker from simply turning his hand and shooting you?  Even by mistake?

What is stopping the attacker from simply turning his hand and shooting you? Even by mistake?

I realize that the picture makes it look as it the attackers are off-balance, but that is completely a function of the elbow strike.  If the elbow strike doesn’t work, is blocked, jammed, or off-target, the off-balance will not happen from that technique.  Stepping in, binding the arm but not the weapon, and relying on a striking technique to stop the attacker sufficiently so that even by mistake he doesn’t turn the gun into you and fire is just NOT A GOOD IDEA.

How about this picture?

Yes, because gun attacks look exactly like this.

Yes, because gun attacks look exactly like this.

Oddly enough, even though this picture by itself contains much contrived “let’s make it easy on the instructor by being completely non-realistic” derp, the YouTube video it comes from is actually not bad, and is one of the few I’ve seen that does a good job of describing how to make an upward offline technique work.  However, it still is a low-percentage technique for offlining in the first place–even though it LOOKS like it works really well in the video, it only looks good  because the gun is pointed so high in the first place that merely hunching the head down is sufficient to take it offline, and apparently no attacker ever pulls the gun downward by jerking the trigger.  (I’ll also note that the technique as taught piece-by-piece isn’t the technique the instructor uses at speed.)

Practicing versus a partner who is just holding the gun out is necessary in the beginning, as you need to practice the specifics of the technique in the beginning.  However, once that is solid, a GOOD instructor will have the students start training with increasing levels of resistance–and perhaps set up verbal interactions also.  However, since many schools/instructors don’t do this, many students are convinced that their techniques will work even if they have been taught poor technique.   As I said, if the guy teaching the technique won’t ever demonstrate it in a force-on-force situation where there is an actual consequence for failure (and gas AirSoft guns STING like you wouldn’t believe), then that’s a Bad Sign.

Force-on-force testing is a wonderful thing.  Failing a force-on-force test doesn’t automatically mean the technique is bad—nothing is foolproof, and you may well be doing it wrong.  However, if someone can easily shoot the instructor repeatedly, well…

….quit listening to that instructor.  He’s going to get you killed.

Hey, Special Snowflake!

A little while back, I got sent a link to this article ( Why We Suck ) discussing beliefs, training, and practice.  It resonated with a couple of things I’d been thinking recently (based on someone telling me that since they’d been carrying for awhile they didn’t need a scenario-training class in CCW) along with some other articles by Claude Werner and the Defensive Daddy which resulted in this post.

So here you go.  Some truth you probably don’t want to hear:

You aren’t a special snowflake.

If you aren’t a competition shooter, then you probably aren’t as good at shooting as you think you are. (If you are a competition shooter, that doesn’t mean you are automatically good—but it DOES mean you probably have a pretty good idea of how good you are.)

If you’ve never done scenario training, then you probably aren’t as good at self-defense as you think you are. (If you have done solid scenario training, that doesn’t mean you are good at self-defense–but it DOES mean you probably have a pretty good idea of how you will react in stressful situations, and how quickly things can occur.)

Special Snowflake
For some people (a small small tiny few), this won’t be true. But for most people (and yes, this means you no matter how much you think you are the Special Snowflake that is one of those small few)–if you’ve never actually done anything that forced you to perform under stress and had that performance critiqued and compared to others, then you really have no idea how good you are.

And most likely, it isn’t nearly as good as you think.  Matter of fact, it’s probably pretty bad.

Don’t believe me?  Okay–actually put your Dunning-Kruger-ed self out there and find out.  Shoot a Steel Challenge match.  Shoot a USPSA match.  Take a scenario training class.  Take a force-on-force course.  Put yourself on a timer, and find out if that “fast draw” of yours is actually what anyone ELSE would call fast. Try to hit those 8″ steel targets at speed from 20 yards. What you learn will be important.

Maybe you’ll learn that you really ARE as good as you think you are.

More likely, maybe you’ll learn that if you want to actually be able to defend yourself and your loved ones, you’d better practice, because you aren’t nearly as good as you think you are.

And isn’t that something you’d like to find out BEFORE it becomes important?

Everyone thinks they are above average, everyone wants to be the Special Snowflake that really IS that good.  Well, chances are you aren’t.  And if you haven’t tested yourself, you have no way of knowing.

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.