Just HOW Gun-Friendly Is Your State, Anyways?

I was kinda surprised how many limitations there were on gun ownership when I moved to Florida. This state has a reputation as being “gun friendly” (aka “the Gunshine State”), but in reality, it’s just not so, and it’s not just the lack of open carry. For instance, you don’t realize how much time you save on a busy Saturday at the gun store by not having to do a background check on a gun purchase if you have your concealed carry permit, as you do in Arizona. And then there’s the need for a concealed carry permit and a bunch of other things that  add up.

The Smoking Barrel has a great little round up of per-state gun laws that puts it all in perspective. It’s pretty useful, go check it out.

Also, it’s worth noting that there is a big difference between states that have good laws regarding gun ownership, and good laws that cover the defensive use of guns, and according to Andrew Branca (who knows a thing or two about this sort of stuff…) Florida has the best laws for armed civilians who need to (legally) defend their lives, so we got that going for us.

Well Done, Walther. Well Done.

I like this program. I like it a lot.

I like it because Walther is handing out money to ALL levels of shooters, not just the GMs.
Let’s face it, a D Class Shooter getting a win with a Walther is a better story to tell your customer base than a GM winning, who’d be good with just about anything.

The bounties the offer are pretty darn good, and they’re in CASH, rather than winning your your weight in free beer koozies or something.

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Think of the free advertising this is getting Walther if you show up on a stage at a qualifying match shooting one of their guns:

“Hey, why the Walther? Why are you shooting that Walther instead of (insert gun brand here)?”
“Well, I’ll tell you…”

Sure beats having a CRO mention your company’s name in the stage briefing and tossing up a few posters on a stage. Cheaper, too. Congrats, Walther, you’ve just upset the practical shooting apple cart, and in a very meaningful way.

Ruger LCP II 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1-222

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If you’ve been in a gun shop recently or spent any time reading a gun magazine, you’ll soon find out that there is a big gap between the guns that the experts recommend for concealed carry and the guns that people can carry without major adjustments in their lifestyle. As Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, once said,

What we of the ‘cognoscenti’ fail to recognize and accept is that few average people will carry a service weapon. Here’s why: A holstered Glock 19 is the size of a Small Priority Mail Flat Rate Box and weighs as much as two cans of uncondensed soup. What normal person wants to carry that on their belt or in their pants?

This is where the ultra-small .380 pocket pistol comes into play. The original Ruger LCP in .380ACP  marked the beginning of the boom in concealed carry and concealed carry pistols, and now Ruger has rolled out a new, improved version, the LCP II, with reworked texturing and in-demand features like last-round slide lock and an improved trigger.

And it’s a good little gun. The most controllable, most-shootable pocket .380 I’ve found (so far) is the Sig Sauer P238. The P238 is comfortable and easy to shoot, but because it’s based on the 1911 platform, it’s also heavier than most pocket guns and has a manual thumb safety that needs to be flicked off before it can be put to work. It’s also more expensive than a lot of pocket. 380’s, and let’s face it, that does play a big part of the cost/benefit analysis when it comes to buying a gun for anyone whose life doesn’t revolve around guns.

If this were a side-by-side test (and it’s not), the LCP II would be in second-place when it comes shootability and comfort for pocket .380’s, and it’s a LOT more affordable than the P238. The LCP II is a single-action only (SAO), hammer-fired gun that comes from the factory with a six round magazine, a pocket holster and a crisp six and 1/2 pound trigger pull. The trigger on the LCPII is, quite frankly, the best trigger I’ve encountered in a pocket .380 that’s not based on a 1911 and is a marked improvement from the original LCP trigger. The pistol has a blade trigger safety, a drop safety and small, but usable sights for aiming. The LCP II is comfortable to shoot, although more than 100 or so rounds in a given range session might be a bit too much for comfort.

The sights on the LCP II are an improvement from the LCP, but they are still small and hard to pick up in low-light conditions compared to larger, more conventional sight setups.  The magazine comes with a flat floorplate and an optional pinkie extension, and that extension really helped me get a grip on the gun while shooting it.

Speaking of shooting it, let’s get to the reason for this post.

Shooting the LCP II – The First 222 Rounds

The 2000 Round Challenge was proposed by the late Todd Green as a way to measure the reliability of any given gun. The rules are quite simple: Shoot 2000 rounds through your pistol, any type of ammo, over any length of time, and report what stoppages/malfunctions/misfeeds you run into along the way. 2000 rounds without a hiccup is a fairly big challenge for stock service pistols that have to survive being carried around by cops for years and years, so if a small pocket gun like the LCP II can make through this challenge (or even make it through a significant part of it) without any major malfunctions, I’d say Ruger has a winner on his hands.

Lucky Gunner was kind enough to provide the first 500 rounds for this test: 400 rounds PMC Bronze .380 ammo and 100 round of Hornady Critical Defense. This, along with a hodgepodge of rounds from my ammo cans are where we’ll start, and I’ll mix in more ammo types as we go along.

The pistol was field-stripped and lubed with Brownells Friction Defense Extreme gun oil and then taken to the range. It will not be disassembled or lubed again until it reaches 2000 rounds or the test results show it can’t take anymore firing. Most of these rounds were shot with a two-handed grip, however, some were shot one-handed with the strong and support-side hand alone, which did affect the results, as we’ll see in a bit.

Ammo shot through the gun so far:

12 Rounds Hornady Critical Defense 90 grain Hollow Point 
12 Rounds Tula Ammo 91 Grain Full Metal Jacket
200 Rounds PMC Bronze 90 Grain Full Metal Jacket

I encountered one Failure to Feed (FTF) at round number 112 with the first magazine of ammo I put through the gun shooting with only one hand. I believe that FTF was due to me not gripping the gun enough for it to cycle properly, (I was just getting used to the darn thing), but I will note it here with an asterisk and see if it happens any more.

2000 Round Challenge Results:

Rounds Fired: 222
Failures Encountered: Round 116, FTF*
*Probably user-induced

So far, so good. 200+ rounds, and only one little (probably user-induced) hiccup. Not bad for something the size of a chocolate chip cookie.

After-Class Report: The Law Of Self Defense With Andrew Branca

I’ve read his book (twice), and I’ve watched all the DVD’s on self-defense law I received with my ACLDN membership at least two times each.

So why would I want to spend the money and time to also go to Andrew Branca’s Law Of Self-Defense Seminar?

Because going to the seminar means you’ll learn what Andrew Branca thinks is important about self-defense law, not what I think is important about self-defense law as I went along in his book. One of the biggest takeaways for me from the seminar (not necessarily the book) is that a legal strategy of self-defense only applies after you admit to the fact that you used deadly force against someone to defend your life. Your defense, essentially is “Yes, I shot him/her, BUT it was justified because I did it in self-defense.”

See the problem there? You’re admitting that you shot someone, and you’re betting on the fact you did it legally because it was in self-defense. If that self-defense justification goes away, you’ve just admitted you used deadly force.

The book and seminar are both built around five principals of legal self-defense (I won’t say what they are here: Spend the money for the book, it’s worth it. However, all five elements he speaks about are CUMULATIVE: All of them must be present in some form or another for a self-defense claim to be valid. If one or more of those elements aren’t present, everything we talked about in the “but” part of your previous statement (“Yes, I shot him/her, but it was justified”) vanishes, and the “Yes, I shot him/her.” is all that remains.

See why this is so important now?

It’s important because law cares about the law, not your intentions. Just as it is up to us to know the rules of the road before we drive a car, it is up to us to learn the rules of self-defense as well. If we blow through a red light, the law doesn’t care if we did it because we meant to do it or because we didn’t see the signal light change, the law says we’re getting a ticket.

By looking around and watching other drivers, we can learn that running through red lights is a bad idea (although the drivers here in Florida do give me pause about this fact…). Yes, we can learn a little bit about the rules of the road by observing the environment and we can learn a bit of the rules of self-defense from the environment of gun forums and magazines around us, but if I learned to drive from watching the antics of my fellow drivers here in Florida, I’d be dead by now.

And yet so, so many gun owners think they know about the legalities of self-defense because of what other gun owners tell them.

Whoops.

A few more thoughts…

The class had a professional environment and was blissfully free of the usual “Can I shoot him now? Ok, what about now? Ok, now?” kind of questions that are so typical to concealed carry courses and other legal seminars. Also, the seminar really brought home the need to have at least one option for non-deadly force handy at all times. We are 5x more likely to be faced with a non-deadly force than deadly force, but are we 5x more likely to get training in the use of non-deadly force like OC spray or combatives than we are to get pistol training?

If not, why not?

When if comes to how and when you can use deadly force, what you learn about this class about the legal complexities of using deadly force in defense of your property and others should swiftly disabuse you of any “sheepdog” notion. The law gets really, really tricky when you start to talk about the use of force to help a third-party, and the law is even less on your side when it comes to using deadly force to defend your personal property.

You are not Batman. You are not charged with wiping out the criminal element in your town, so don’t do that.

Serious drivers are not content to mimic the bad habits of their fellow drivers, they take the time to learn the rules of the road from serious people. If you are serious about self-defense, you should take the law of self-defense seriously as well.

The Family That Stacks Together, Attacks Together

What would a “Tactical Gentleman’s Weekend” for Gun Culture 2.0 look like?

It’s an interesting challenge, because let’s face it, shooting stuff from speedboats is FUN, while learning how to de-escalate an angry drunk has a certain “eat your broccoli, it’s good for you” feel to it. It’s been my goal for a while now to eat my broccoli and become a responsible gun owner in every sense of the word. The issue is, though, that society today does not see “responsible” as a desirable thing, so balancing the broccoli and the ice cream is an ongoing challenge.

With that in-mind, here’s what I’d like to see in two-day “tactical gentleman’s” weekend that would apply to today’s CCW holder.

  • A Heavy Emphasis On Concealed Carry
    Ideally, you’d have to commit to coming to class with your primary carry rig, along with a few extra mag pouches for administration purposes.
  • Holistic, lifestyle-based approach to personal protection.
    Concealed carry, home defense, whatever.
  • Defending others as well as yourself.
    Girlfriend, friends, family, whatever. We don’t live on a deserted island, and our training shouldn’t reflect that either.

Some specific topics to cover:

  • Creating a safe room, home security, low-light ops
  • De-Escalation / Situational Awareness
  • Intro to Empty hand / Combatives
  • Basic Trauma Care
  • Shoot / No Shoot (ideally in a shoothouse of some kind

Will I ever see such a thing in my lifetime? Dunno. But it’d be cool when it happens.

 

Gentlemen Prefer Bombs.

This is an interesting take on the usual weekend-long tactical training class.

11 spots left for Tactical Gentlemen’s Weekend! This next one will be at Strange Farms in Georgia! Thursday, March 23rd through Sunday, March 26th. 4 days 3 nights. All the food and beer is included along with over a $1,000 in training classes! We will also be sponsoring 4 wounded vets from Wishes For Warriors. Classes being offered for the weekend.
Advanced Handgun Class:
Low-Light Night Class:
Vehicle Defense Class:
Close Quarters Combatives Armed & Unarmed Class:
Last day will feature a surprise with water operations(speed boat)! Cost for the entire weekend is $1200.

Okay, I like where this is headed. Sorta. It smacks a little too much of “Get drunk and shoot guns in the woods” for my liking, but I like how it’s about more than just shooting guns; it’s about guys becoming better at a bunch of things that would help them defend themselves and their loved ones.

But high-speed water operations in a speedboat? Just how exactly does that apply to my life? Yes, it sounds like fun, but look, if I want to fun things with guns for the sake of doing fun things with guns, I’ll beg, whine and plead to go out to something like this the next time it’s in town.

As I said earlier, though, I like where this is headed. But what would a version of this “Gentlemen’s weekend” look like for those of us who don’t consider MOLLE webbing to be a fashion statement?

More on that later.

Firmware > Hardware.

Thinking more about this post, another similarity between guns now and computers in the early 80’s was how all the computer manufacturers out there were scrambling around for a piece of the consumer market, and how almost all of them missed the big picture.

Zenith (remember them?), Tele-Tech, KayPro, Commodore , Osbourne and IBM’s PC division were just a few of the big names in computers that are long-gone now. They focused on the machine, and it ended them.

Kinda feels like the pistol market today. We’ve got the equivalent of IBM with Glock, and then after that, there is, um, err, ahh. In 1984, there was dozens of companies trying to shoehorn their way into the PC-compatible market, and that’s what’s happening today. Avidity, Honor Defense, Hudson Manufacturing, Canik (and now CZ as well)… the list goes on an on, and all of them are all, if I may so, pretty much all the same.

Gun companies might learn a thing or two from how  a couple of computer companies made it out of the scrum of the 1980’s computer market, though.

Microsoft: Microsoft focused on the operating system, the HOW behind what made computers run, and now, (despite their best efforts) they’re still around and doing well.

Apple: Apple focused on the WHY we used computers, and they’re now the #1 company in the world.

We’re not even in the beginning stages of “how” when it comes to guns, but I’m willing to bet we will be, and soon. Extending computers into a “digital lifestyle” is how Apple became #1, and the reality of a consumer-level “armed lifestyle” isn’t even on the horizon for us.

Yet.

Primary And Secondary.

Medium Speed. Moderate Drag.

Why is it that I can find MUCH more training about how to transition from my AR-15 to my sidearm than I can about how to carry a pocket pistol rather than a larger pistol?

Does the firearms training community REALLY think that we civilians would be better served by doing drills like the one in the photo above rather than learning how to use the guns we frequently carry?

It’d cool if someone came up with a one or two day class where half the time was devoted to larger carry guns like the Glock 19 or even single-stack 9mm’s like the Shield or Glock 43, and then the other half devoted to snub-nosed .38’s and pocket .380’s.

What we need is “primary and secondary” training that’s relevant to the life of the average joe, not G.I. Joe.

Owning The Audience Is Better Than Owning The Factory.

At least that’s the way it is for most consumer products out there right now, with one noticeable exception.

Guns.

As I’ve said before, guns right now are where computers were at about 1982 or so. People are starting to wake up to the idea that they’re useful to have around, but they have NO FREAKIN’ CLUE what to do with them.

Fun fact: Computer manufacturers used to say that organizing your recipes was a big reason to have a computer in the home.

No, really, they did.

That’s where we are with Gun Culture 2.0 right now. There are a lot of companies creating new gadgets, but what those companies don’t provide along with their new Blast-o-magic 3000 is a reason for people to own a gun beyond “It’s a gun. It’s got our name in it. Buy it, or get lost.”.

Yeah, that’s a message that’ll play well, now that guns are become a mass commodity consumer good.

Yeah, So I Didn’t Go To SHOT This Year…

And I’m ok with it. I’m realizing that for me, it’s not about the guns, it’s about what you can do with them. I had the same attitude when I was a shooter (click click): My cameras were not the bleeding edge F4’s and 500ELX’s, I shot with an FM2 and a twenty year old 500CM. I didn’t really care about the gadgets I used to pictures, I cared about the pictures I was taking. If a gadget like a wireless strobe slave or a spot meter allowed me to take better pictures, it was useful. If not, I didn’t care about it.

SHOT Show is in the cards for me next year, though, and if things go right, it will be someone else paying the way. In the meantime, my hotel for the NRA AM is booked, so I’ll see everyone there instead.

And Alf, I’m buying dinner this time.