So This Happened.

So This Happened.

I am the last person you’d describe as a “Tactical Timmy.” However, a few months ago, I wound up owning a couple of soft IIIA bullet-resistant armor plates, and rather than have them sit around on a closet shelf, I bought something to carry them in. Yes, it’s Condor gear, but it will suffice for now as this is my first plate carrier and I’m still figuring out what works for me.

This will NOT be a regular use item for me. At best, it’ll sit in my safe room until needed, or taken to the range for a class. The two smaller pouches will probably contain a handheld light and a spicy treat dispenser, and I may swap out one of the rifle pouches for a tourniquet.

AR500 plate carrier

It’s a start.

And Tam, Of Course, Is Correct.

And Tam, Of Course, Is Correct.

As someone who’s had to learn how to integrate various levels of armed self-defense into a white-collar working environment for almost a dozen years now, let me just add “HELL YES.”

“‘Dressing around the gun’ is the single dumbest godd*** concept the industry has ever come up with. Espoused principally by two groups; those who carry under color of law and those who don’t have real jobs. That is to say, not on the same planet as the rest of us.” –Claude Werner
There are people who work daily in non-permissive environments with dress codes, where a gun may be legal to carry, but would be a firing offense. Telling a 5’4″ woman in a skirt with no belt loops to “dress around” a Glock 19 in an IWB holster makes one sound a little dense.
There are people who have social lives who like to dress normally around their friends and peers at dinners or cocktail parties. There is a place for a gun that can be carried very discreetly.

IDPA knew this from the very start, which is why they came up with the Back Up Gun division, a division that’s now officially a part of that sport.

Firearms trainers? They’re still working on it. There are precious few pocket-gun specific classes out there, even though the LCP and its successor have been selling like hotcakes for the last ten years.

To me, “Reality-based” firearms training for new gun owners has to start by training beginners to use the guns they own, not the guns the trainer thinks they should own. You want more students in your class? Teach them how to shoot, not how to buy a gun you like.

How Do You Change The World?

How Do You Change The World?

I dunno, let’s ask Steve Jobs how he changed the world. Maybe there’s answers here for us as well.

Playboy: How about some concrete reasons to buy a computer today? An executive in your industry recently said, “We’ve given people computers, but we haven’t shown them what to do with them. I can balance my checkbook faster by hand than on my computer.” Why should a person buy a computer?

Jobs: There are different answers for different people. In business, that question is easy to answer: You really can prepare documents much faster and at a higher quality level, and you can do many things to increase office productivity. A computer frees people from much of the menial work.

Playboy: Those are arguments for computers in business and in schools, but what about the home?

Jobs: So far, that’s more of a conceptual market than a real market. The primary reasons to buy a computer for your home now are that you want to do some business work at home or you want to run educational software for yourself or your children. If you can’t justify buying a computer for one of those two reasons, the only other possible reason is that you just want to be computer literate. You know there’s something going on, you don’t exactly know what it is, so you want to learn. This will change: Computers will be essential in most homes.

Playboy: Was the initial market hobbyists?

Jobs: The difference was that you didn’t have to be a hardware hobbyist with the Apple II. You could be a software hobbyist. That was one of the key breakthroughs with the Apple II: realizing that there were a whole lot more people who wanted to play with a computer, just like Woz and me, than there were people who could build their own.

Let’s pause for a second and re-write those paragraphs a bit.

Playboy: How about some concrete reasons to buy a gun today? An executive in your industry recently said, “We’ve given people guns, but we haven’t shown them what to do with them.

Jobs: There are different answers for different people. In law enforcement, that question is easy to answer. You defend your life and the lives of the innocent much faster and at a longer ranges than just your fists, and you can reduce the danger to yourself. A gun frees people from much of the fist and nightstick work.

Playboy: Those are arguments for guns in law enforcement and the military, but what about the home?

Jobs: So far, that’s more of a conceptual market than a real market. The primary reasons to buy a gun for your home now are that you want to do some recreational shooting or you want you to protect you and your children from a real and specific threat. If you can’t justify buying a gun for one of those two reasons, the only other possible reason is that you just want to be feel safe. You know there’s something going on, you don’t exactly know what it is, so you want to learn.

Playboy: Was the initial market hobbyists?

Jobs: The difference was that you didn’t have to be a hardware hobbyist with the Glock 17. You could be a training hobbyist. That was one of the key breakthroughs with the (product that hasn’t been developed yet… or has it?): realizing that there were a whole lot more people who wanted to enjoy guns, just like Woz and me, than there were people who could build their own.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Guns have the same place in society right now as computers did in back in 1985. Most of us know we should have a gun around, but we struggle to come up with a reason why.

And this part is interesting as well: Jobs was predicting the home internet in 1985, back when the Internet was Arpanet and the .com had just been rolled out.

Jobs: The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people—as remarkable as the telephone.

Playboy: Specifically, what kind of breakthrough are you talking about?

Jobs: I can only begin to speculate. We see that a lot in our industry: You don’t know exactly what’s going to result, but you know it’s something very big and very good.

What will happen when the personal safety empowerment that a gun provides (and the skills, attitude and courage to use it wisely) gets connected?

Can it get connected? Will connecting gun owners like we connect computers change society, or will it be something else?

Prep Work.

Prep Work.

I picked up an assignment, many years ago, to take pictures of Magic Johnson right after he gave a speech at a luxury Phoenix resort. I knew his time would be limited, so I arrived early, scouted a good location, and my assistant and I set up four high-powered strobe lights to properly expose him and wonderful Arizona sunset that would happen just as the shot was scheduled to happen.

But what DID happen was that the resort’s circuits weren’t up to the task of handling my strobes and their outdoor lighting at the same time, so my first test shoot blew a breaker and everything went dark.

I had to take a picture of Magic Johnson, and I had to take it NOW, no matter if my primary light source just went into the crapper.

Fortunately for me, I knew that resort pretty well and I knew the outside breezeways looked pretty good and went east-west so there was still light in them even as the sun was going down. I grabbed my assistant, my tripod and a flex fill, and away we all went for an impromptu available light shoot as the light slowly faded in the west.

And the chromes turned out pretty good. Good enough that I picked up two more assignments from the agency who assigned me.

Now think about it… if I hadn’t been familiar with the environment around me and I didn’t have that reflector and/or assistant with me and was inexperienced at slow shutter speed photography, I’d be completely out of luck and would have p!ssed off a basketball legend and not gotten paid by my client for the job.

Familiarity with your surroundings… having a backup plan and backup gear… recognizing what the issue is and working around it on the spot… why does that all seem so familiar? 😉

Oh, and if you get a chance to take photos of Mr. Johnson, do so. He was, BY FAR, the most approachable and laid-back celebrity I’ve ever photographed. It’s not an act with him.

Know When To Say When.

Know When To Say When.

Say when.

John Correia of Active Self Protection brought up an interesting idea in the midst of a recent interview on the Safety Solutions Academy podcast: For the armed citizen, it’s usually going to be us who initiates the fight, not the bad guy.

“In a law enforcement setting, the cop initiates contact with the bad guy. The fight starts when the bad guy decides to start fighting, and the fight ends with either the bad guy in cuffs or the cop is dead. In a CCW gunfight, it’s almost the exact opposite. The gunfight in the middle is almost the same, but as a CCW holder, it’s your actions, in a territorial violence situation, that initiates the fight, and the fight ends when you break contact with the bad guy.”

It took me awhile to figure it out, but I can see his point. The bad guy is going to want something from us that, unless we run into an asocial predator who wants nothing more from us than our death, is NOT going to be our life and limbs. They are using the threat of violence to get our money or car or something else from us, and they don’t expect us to fight back. As such, while the bad guy initiates the threat, the fact of the matter is, it is US that initiates the violence.

Is that empowering? You better believe it is.

You are no longer the victim in this scenario: YOU get to decide how the scenario will play out, and by being patient and then willing and able to counter the threat of physical violence with an overwhelming amount of actual violence if needed, we take away his (or her) power in one swell foop.

Waiting your turn for violence fits in well with a de-escalation strategery which should be (and is) our preferred method of dealing with “monkey dance” violence, but it also adds in another fear-reducing element: WE are the ones who are in charge of how violent an encounter will get. The crook is NOT expecting violence: He’s expecting that the threat alone will be sufficient to produce the desired reward, and the minute that doesn’t happen, WE have the upper hand.

That’s hellaciously empowering.

Disarming Smile

Disarming Smile

The Colonel

Michael Bane posted this great quote from Jeff Cooper on Facebook:

“You will probably finish a fight with what you have in your pistol, but carry at least one spare magazine with you at all times. Reload after the fight, because it is just unseemly to walk around with a half empty gun”

Which is part of the reason why I carry a reload, even when I carry a higher-capacity gun like my P07. Do I expect to get into a running gun battle that will require a dozen round or more? No. I don’t expect to get into ANY sort of gun battle at all. However, it’s nice to know that I can reset back to “normal” when the shooting is over.

EDC Pistol Training has more thoughts on this subject, and they’re quite good. Go check them out.

Changing Things Up A Bit.

Changing Things Up A Bit.

CZ P07

I don’t have a “carry rotation” of defensive pistols. I carry an LCPII if I need to be discrete, and either an S&W Shield or a CZ P07 for other purposes. I made the decision last year to go with the Shield as my primary gun, and it’s worked really well for me. The Shield is skinny and light (two BIG advantages in a concealed carry pistol) and I know that I can get first-shot hits with it out to 50 yards in under 3 seconds because Jeff Street has watched me do it.

But the Shield has one big drawback: It can hold 8 rounds max in the magazine, or 10 rounds if I want to make my gun print a little more. I’m not expecting to get into a gun fight where I’m going to need an extendo clip, but then again, I’m not expecting to get into a gunfight AT ALL.

But.

I’m not a fan of how things are headed as of late, and being on my own for a few days has increased my awareness of how badly things can go wrong if and when they go wrong. Yes, the statistics clearly prove that 8+1 plus another 8 on the belt will get me through any bad things that might be headed my way, however, having double the boollits in the gun and double the boollits on my belt provides a level of comfort that is very, very real, so it’s back to the P07, at least for a while.

I’m also wearing sandals less-frequently, and wearing shoes that I can run in more often (which can be a real hardship here in sunny Florida). I’m also figuring out ways I can carry my cheap and dirty trauma kit with me all the time, not just when I’m wearing a pair of jeans.

Is it silly to do such things? Yes, right up to the point when it’s not.

Lessons From Garland.

Lessons From Garland.

Garland Attack

“When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol will be a dead man!”

Ramon Rojo 

“The hell you say.”

Garland Texas Police Officer Greg Stevens 

Stevens immediately drew his Glock 21 pistol and engaged Simpson with four to five rounds as Simpson fired at him and Joiner with the rifle.

As Stevens fired, he slowly advanced on the suspects from 15 yards away, pressing the attack on the pair as he fired “rhythmically,” obtaining a “decent sight picture” for each round. Stevens was conscious of the fact he had to make his hits count, and his deliberation was rewarded with the sight of Simpson falling to the ground and dropping his rifle.

Switching to the next threat, Stevens pivoted to the left and fired at the driver, Nadir Soofi, who also wore soft armor and LBE, and had a backpack and a pistol. As Soofi rounded the back of the car with his rifle raised in the firing position, his left side was exposed to Stevens, who drew careful aim and shot Soofi in the elbow, above the elbow, the side of the chest and the shoulder, as he continued to advance and fire at a controlled pace.

Read the whole thing: It’s an absolutely rivetng after-action report, full of lessons for all of us.

One thing I will note is how “situational awareness” played a part in Officer Stevens’ success. He knew that because of the detail he was on, there was an increased chance of an attack, so he was in a more-alert state than if he was processing paperwork in his patrol car. As such, when a car rolled up with out-of-state plates and blocked an entry to the venue he was watching, he was on high alert, knowing that the potential for trouble was even more greater now. When the balloon eventually did go up, he didn’t hesitate: There was no ramp-up time to combat mode because he had already crossed those bridges way before two guys with AK’s popped out of the car.

There are those who say that situational awareness is of marginal use in a self-defense situation, that when lightning strikes, you should learn how to react quickly, and not worry about what happened beforehand.

I say that lightning only strikes after the thunderclouds have rolled in, and if you’re paying attention, you can see (and hear) those clouds coming in from miles away.

The First Step Is The One That Counts.

The First Step Is The One That Counts.

I noticed something interesting during my too-brief time behind the gun counter: Elderly people would shy away from even mid-sized guns like the Glock 19 and LC9, and immediately assume that smaller guns like the SIG P238 and Ruger LCP would be easier for them to handle. The feeling in their minds was that smaller guns = smaller recoil, which is, of course, not the case.

Not by a long shot.

The other thing I noticed was their reaction to failing to perform the (apparently) simple task of cycling the slide.

Think about it: What’s the first thing that any (competent) gun store clerk does when pulling a gun out of the case? They drop the mag (if there is one) and cycle the action to prove that the gun is unloaded (Rule 1!) and then hand it to the customer. We do it so often, it’s like breathing to us, and we make it look like it’s a super-easy task to perform.

But what if, for reasons of age and/or upper body strength, it’s not a super-easy task to perform? All of a sudden, a basic task that signals the start of using a gun is an impossible thing to perform, which creates doubts in the person’s mind… if I can’t do THAT, what else can I not do?

Yes, this seems silly to those of us who shoot a lot and can cycle a slide in our sleep, but I assure you, it’s really, and it sold a LOT of P238’s, a small gun that is (relatively) easy to shoot and very easy to cycle.