Your Own Personal Gaston.

Your Own Personal Gaston.

On a recent episode of Mike Seeklander’s podcast, Gabe Suarez said, in response to some rather fierce criticism he recently received online, that some people “treat this stuff (firearms training) as if it was some kind of religion.”.

But here’s the kicker: Firearms training actually IS a religion.

At least it should be.

Firearms trainers are telling their students how to save their lives from the evil people around us, and they also tell people how to change their lifestyle and live a better, happier life.

Isn’t that what a religion tells you to do? Religions tell people why bad things happen in the world, and how to have a mindset that “delivers us from evil.”

All the great martial arts have an element of religion in them as a way to focus one’s energy and calm the soul. Chi, Zanshin, Eye Of The Tiger, whatever you want to call it, the martial arts understands that, to quote The Bard, all things be ready if our minds be so.

One of the reasons why the martial arts includes this stuff is because history has taught us that people who are motivated by a higher calling tend to do more extraordinary things than those who aren’t, and a gunfight (and fights in general) are (thankfully) an extraordinary event in the lives of the average person.
If concealed carry wants to be a martial art, it’s probably going to need some kind of spiritual/emotional mindset development plan as well, something that goes beyond the Cooper Color Code and hazy talk of “situational awareness.”

We want people to react to extraordinary circumstances. That’s going to require extraordinary motivation.

A religion of CCW isn’t going to save your soul, but it just might save your life.

Mama Always Told Me Not To Look Into The Eyes Of The Sun

Mama Always Told Me Not To Look Into The Eyes Of The Sun

But Mama, that’s where the fun is. 

B. Springsteen

I remember chatting with a family friend years ago about one of my trips down into Mexico to work with the churches and orphanages in and around Hermosillo. He said he’d never go down to Mexico, for any reason, because he couldn’t carry a gun there. At the time, I didn’t understand his feelings. I’d been to Mexico time after time after time on both vacation trips and church trips, and not only did I not see any reason to avoid Mexico because you couldn’t be armed, I saw no reason to be armed in Mexico (or, if I’m honest, Arizona as well. Hey, I was young and stupid.).

I knew Mexico. I knew what to avoid, and how to not act like a dumb Norteamericano. In other words, I knew how to avoid the acting stupid and going to the stupid places. Also, I was with church people, so the “Stupid people” part of the Farnam Rules was also taken care of.

The Farnam Rule runs into trouble, though, because a significant part of the fun stuff in our lives is usually stupid things done in stupid places with stupid people. For years, the best place to go for New Mexican in Phoenix was in a fairly stupid place, as was one of the best Mexican bakeries. You knew it, you accepted it, and you balanced the risk and the reward. About 10 miles away from where I am sitting and writing this, there are a dozen or restaurants, all of which are in a town that is the epicenter for violent crime in our county.

Am I hungry for la verdera cosa when it comes to Mexican cuisine? You bet I am*.

Am I willing to go to stupid places at stupid times to do non-stupid things** surrounded by people who may or may not be stupid? Nope.

Stupid varies from person to person. What is safe for me may not be safe for others, and what is safe for them might be sheer insanity to me. To quote the 20th century’s greatest philosopher, a man has got to know his limitations.

If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.

Some old Chinese guy

Update: Thinking more about this statement, “I was with church people, so the ‘Stupid people’ part of the Farnam Rules was also taken care of,” it’s not actually true in this instance. Church people in church or in their usual neighborhoods are not stupid, but church people dropped into someplace that’s outside of their comfort zone can do very, very stupid things. Yes, the chances of doing tequila shots off a stripper goes WAY down when you’re with (most) church people, but the chances of being blissfully ignorant about how dangerous the world is goes way, way up.

Stupid is a relative term.


* Here’s a hint: If they don’t have corn tortillas available and there’s no cabbage or radishes for toppings, it ain’t a REAL Mexican taco joint. It may be good, but it ain’t the real thing.
** Eating tacos is never, ever stupid. Ever.

Darkness Falls.

Darkness Falls.

Something I said in the comments of this post got me a-pondering: Why do firearms trainers who have a SpecOps background place such a high emphasis on night training, and is that sort of thing really valuable to those of us who don’t wear a uniform and a gun.

Let’s think about things for a second. If you have to kick in doors for a living, it makes sense to kick in doors at night, when the element of surprise and the grogginess of sleep are on your side. Night ops are a great time for offensive operations, especially if you have night vision gear and the bad guys don’t.

But let’s back up for a second… why would I, a middle-aged marketing guru, have to go onto the offense at night? Yes, there is the 3 am crackhead burglar scenario and the dark Wal-Mart parking lot attack, but if we look at the concealed carry engagement stats from students of Tom Givens, you’ll see that NONE of them used a flashlight in their encounters.

Why? Why are night operations such a priority for the military, yet next to useless for we civilians?

For the armed citizenry, unless you’re up at 3am patrolling the streets like the SHEEPDOG! you think you are, defending your life at night, in inky blackness, is probably not that urgent, for three reasons:

  1. If you have time to get a flashlight out, you have time to get your gun out. If you need your gun, don’t get out your flashlight, and vice versa.
  2. Crooks associate high-output flashlights with security guards and cops, and they tend to shy away from said people. Therefore, if you’re using a modern, tactical flashlight, you are SCREAMING to the bad guys that you are predator, not prey. As armed citizens, our job isn’t to hunt others, our job is not to be eaten by the predator.
  3. If you can’t see well enough to recognize your target, either add light to the target (which might make it run away, as per option 1 above), or don’t shoot at it. Fortunately for we civvies, most of the places we inhabit do have at least some modicum of illumination, and that’s usually enough to get a good idea of what’s in front of our muzzle.

So is learning how to use a flashlight and weapon-mounted light useful for those of us who don’t wear a uniform and a gun? Sure. However, in reality, it’s about as useful as a learning how to run an AR-15 as a defensive weapon.

Take that as you will.

It’s Happened Again In London.

It’s Happened Again In London.

Don't hide. Fight.

In “1984”, Orwell talks about how the ultimate goal of Newspeak is to change the language and the culture so that the very idea of rebelling against the state is removed from people’s minds altogether. Britain (and indeed, all of Europe) has spent the last 50 years removing the idea that the people themselves can and should be in charge of their own security: The state is there to take care of you. Soldiers and police stand ready to do violence for you, you don’t need to worry about defending your life, that’s what government is for.

But what if that doesn’t work? What happens when we face a threat like this, which is designed to inflict as much violence on an unaware, unarmed and cowering populace so quickly and so brutally, the horror is accomplished before the call does out to central dispatch? It took eight minutes for UNARMED policemen to show up at the vehicle ramming / stabbing death of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and the armed cops who took out the attackers showed up fifteen minutes after the attack.

Fun fact: The human body usually bleeds out from a cut to a major artery in around 3 minutes, and it’s a matter of policy for paramedics not to treat the victims at the scene until it’s first been secured by the cops (Medics don’t like to get shot at. Go figure.).

My friend Erin Palette of Operation Blazing Sword said it better than just about anyone I know: Concealed carry is a herd immunity against crime. Want fewer victims of horrific terror attacks? Stop encouraging a culture of victimhood.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are two possible responses to the distributed threat of Islamic-backed terrorism: Clamping down hard on civil rights so you might catch the bad guys in the same net you throw over the general public, or a distributed, empowered response that can react faster than any agent of the state can.

London chose the first option, and it has not worked well. Whether or not they have the courage and trust in their citizenry to try the second option remains to be seen.  Chris Hernandez talks about the history and effectiveness of such attacks, Greg Ellifritz has some great info on what you and I can do right now to lessen our chances of being a victim in these situations, and my meager contributions are over at Ricochet.com.

Learn from this, and stay safe out there.

Pirates Of The Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Pirates Of The Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Sean Sorrentino posted a terrific Marc MacYoung piece on ‘The Disneyland State Of Mind“, a mindset that Marc describes as slightly (or more than slightly) out of control and believes that dammit, I have a RIGHT to a good time, and HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT ME HAVING A GOOD TIME!!!!!

I’ve written about how that applies to the interrupted good times of the Democratic Party over at Ricochet, but it also applies to our personal lives as well. To be honest, I was kinda troubled by how NORMAL it felt for me to carry around a knife and trauma kit inside a theme park. I mean, I’m on vacation, I’m SUPPOSED to be relaxing in a care-free environment with my family, and here I am wondering about how I’m going to smuggle things like a pointy-stabby blade past security.

And then I watched a violent domestic argument break out in front of me. No, I didn’t intervene, (because that’s what park security is for), but yes, it did wake me up to the fact that even though I was on vacation, reality itself was not on vacation, and bad things can and do happen in the happiest of places.

Having the means to defend myself and potentially deal with the consequences of lethal force didn’t affect my ability to have a good time. In fact, keeping an eye out for trouble also let me see the good things around me, like how many people around me were having as much fun as we were having inside the park. Being aware of what’s going around you means you’re aware of the good things going on around you, not just the bad things. It leads to a bigger life that’s more-connected with reality, not paranoia and fear.

Live in the moment. ALL of the moments.


Update: I wrote this post and queued it up for publishing before Monday night’s horror. If anything, it’s any more appropriate now.

Going Grey.

Going Grey.

Some really good advice on why you don’t want to look like a SHEEPDOG!, you want to look (and act) like everyone else who’s around you.

Without a doubt, none of us want to look like prey. That is all too readily apparent. But do we truly want to look like a predator?

Before you answer yes, think about this. In the wild, if you are a predator, are you immune to attack? Obviously not. So who is attacking? Other predators! And sometimes, that other predator may be the apex predator of the area.

I learned this lesson early on in life as a small, skinny kid with glasses who went to rough high school. Want to get beat up? Make yourself noticeable to those who are doing the beating up. Learning how to live your life as an armed citizen the same way you did as an unarmed citizen while applying the Farnam Rule is what our goals are, not walking around with a chip on our shoulder, asking people to labe our molons*. We highly recommend getting a dog to help protect you, and if you need help giving the dog all the exercise he needs then hire dog walkers in Atlanta. They can do the walking for you while you are at work.

Bottom line: If you make yourself a target, don’t act surprised when you get shot.


* Or is it molon our labes**. I took Spanish, not Greek, so I’m not certain on this.
** My Mac keeps autocorrecting “molon” to “moron” and “labe” to “label”, a fact that I find endlessly humorous, and somewhat appropriate…

NRA Carry Guard Versus Other Self Defense Insurance Plans

NRA Carry Guard Versus Other Self Defense Insurance Plans

The National Rifle Association has finally decided to get serious about the post-incident legal protection and launched NRA Carry Guard, their new product to compete against the United States Concealed Carry Association and a host of others.

There was bit of a controversy last week over the NRA rescinding the invites of competiting products to the Annual Meeting, and let’s face it, the timing kinda stunk. However, given the high-profile placement that NRA gave to their revamped and re-launched self-defense insurance product at the Annual Meeting, I can see why they didn’t want any competition on the floor

Did I mention that they went high-profile with this?

I wasn’t kidding. This was what we saw when we walked into the convention center…

NRA Carry Guard Advertisment

… and this was the primary entrance to the show floor itself.

NRA Carry Guard Review

Subtle, they are not.

But how does NRA Carry Guard stack up to all the other post-incident legal plans out there? Fortunately for you, I’ve written about this sort of thing in the past, so I can attempt some sort of apples to apples comparison of all the plans out there. All the information on this comparison chart was created from either from what was on each plan’s website or from talking with representatives of each plan in-person or on the phone. As such, there are some gaps, as I’ve not managed to pry some info out of the a few of the companies on this list, and I recommend you read your policy very carefully before you sign anything*.

Comparing NRA Carry Guard To Other Plans

 CCW SafeSecond Call BasicTexas / U.S. Law ShieldUSCCA SilverArmed Citizens NetworkSelf Defense
Association Gold
NRA Carry Guard Bronze
Bail$25,000 / $250,000$1,000 / $10,000$2,500 / $25,000$2,500 / $25,000$25,000 + Merits10% of Bail$2,500 / $25,000
Your Own Attorney-YNYYYY
Criminal DefenseY$10,000Legal Fees Only $50,000$25,000 + Merits$100,000 Combined$50,000
Civil DefenseYNLegal Fees Only $250,000 CombinedBased On Merits$100,000 Combined$250,000 Combined
Civil DamagesNNLegal Fees Only $250,000 CombinedBased On Merits$100,000 Combined$250,000 Combined
Any WeaponYNYYYYN
Expert WitnessesYYNUp To Coverage LimitsY-Y
"First Dollar" CoverageYUp To $2,000YYYYN
Cost$129/year$9.95/mo or $119/yr$16.85/mo or $202.20/yr

+ $19.95 setup
$13/mo or $147/yr$135/yr$15.92/mo or $179/yr$13.95/mo or $154.95/yr

How does NRA Carry Guard stack up? Well, as a self-insurance, it’s right in their with the rest of them. I’m glad to see them get serious about this product because they’ve been leaving money on the table for a long time now and others have jumped into the fray with some pretty good results.


* As always, this is where I tell you that I, personally, have ACLDN, and that I am a USCCA Affiliate. Take that, FTC. I’m also not a lawyer nor an expert in this sort of thing, so take anything I say here with a lick of salt or two (lime and tequila optional), and be sure to run the documents for your policy of choice by a professional before you sign up for anything

Armed? Who, Me?

Armed? Who, me?

I’ve got a family trip coming up to a couple of Orlando theme parks that use metal detectors and bag searches to make sure they’re “weapons-free” zones.

Uh-huh.

I’m not planning on carrying a firearm with me into the parks, but I do want to carry a knife with me because a knife is useful for more than just defending your life.

After a few searches and reading a few blogs that I trust, I settled on the Boker Plus 01BO010 credit card knife.

The knife is skinny and hides easily. It is, essentially, your daily carry folding knife’s anorexic midget cousin. Without the clip, it’s just a few millimeters wide, and the size is very conducive to carrying inconspicuously.

That’s the new Boker next to my usual covert carry knife, a CRKT Pazoda 2, and a AA battery on the right. The blade on the Boker is taller and longer than the Pazoda, but the handle is a little shorter, which means I can only grip it with two fingers instead of three. Yes, that is an issue, but no, I’m not too worried about it. This is not a fighting knife, as it takes me two hands to open, but it is very useful thing to have with you because it’s a knife, and knives are handy.

The blade is 440-C stainless, and out of the box, it was quite dull. This did not please me, but a few moments with a sharpener solved that problem.

Did I mention it’s easy to conceal? Believe it or not, the Boker is in this photo, tucked in between a couple of dollar bills.

What’s the first rule of camouflage? Help the people see what they’re expecting to see, and in this case, the aluminum in my Ridge wallet will set off the metal detector, along with the metal in the knife.

Overall, I’m very happy with this knife. Yes, there were other, more covert options out there that are better fighting knives, but I’m not really too concerned about fighting my way through the line for “It’s A Small World”. Rather, I want a knife with me because of all the other things a knife can do, and this little Boker seems about right for that job.

There Is No Such Thing As The United States Of America When It Comes To Guns.

There Is No Such Thing As The United States Of America When It Comes To Guns.

Spend a few minutes reading this post from David Yamane on who is usually guns to commit violence in America, and who is not. It’s well worth your time. Here’s a brief sample:

Taking an aggregate statistic like this, we often hear about how much higher the homicide rate is in the United States than other “similar” countries.

But there is a problem with such population averages: they gloss over important differences between subpopulations within the United States. For example, according to “Firearms Injuries in the United States,” the firearm homicide rate for those 25-34 is more than four times greater than the rate for those 55-64 (8.01 vs. 1.47). The rate for men is 6.13 and for women 1.15. The rate for non-Hispanic Blacks is 14.78 compared to 0.99 for non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Of course, these differences in subpopulations are related also to economics, and economics are closely related to residence in the United States. As I have argued previously, the problem with averages is that no one lives in “The United States.”

And it gets better from there. Go read it all.