I've railed for years about things like how easy it is to get married, how hard to get divorced, which is, if you think about it, kind of backwards. And how hard it is to get a driver's license, yet how easy it is to get a gun, and even, to get licensed in many states, to carry it in a concealed fashion.
There is a group called USCAA, the United States Concealed Carry Association. Through them you can not only get insurance for carrying a gun, but education about the responsibilities and the difficulties related to carrying one. As I said, I'm really not advocating carrying, however, if you are going to, know what the heck you are doing and be aware of what it means.
USCAA has a very good document on the topic of concealed carry:
NOTE: USCAA said there have been some misunderstandings about their services on the insurance side, so they produced this video.
Don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, I am NOT advocating carrying. The idea of some of the people I know are carrying, with too little experience and training, kind of scares me. In some cases, it out right terrifies me.
However, that being said, I can't help but think about all those incidents where some nutcase walks into a burger joint, or an office somewhere and simply starts opening up with automatic weapons fire. If ONE person were carrying and had the balls to pull and fire one shot, how many lives could have been saved over the years if that happened each time an incident like this started up? If there were one person, with no training, just a handgun, who could have simply shot the person who is shooting innocent people, I find that far more likeable a situation. But the last thing we need are a bunch of "Dirty Harry" types running around being vigilantes.
No, we don't need a bunch of citizens all pulling and firing, but on the other hand, if five or fifteen citizens pulled a gun on some nut, might he not be motivated by overwhelming force to lay down his arms? Or if not, die on the spot? Possibly (hopefully) without the loss of a single innocent life? If the potential killer is there to "die by cop" as they say, I'm all for him "dying by citizen", too. It's like I've always said about murder suicides, if ONLY they would kill themselves first, then turn their gun on their children, loved ones, coworkers or family members. But no, they always seem to have to kill the others first. Too bad, right?
I have all kinds of compassion for suicides, just not murder suicides, because really, I couldn't care less what their personal situation is if they are going to take out anyone besides themselves.
Okay, the idea of a bunch of citizens, American citizens, especially the types of people who typically can't take the time to educate themselves properly about nearly anything, does scare me. The thought of some nutcase pulling a gun to indiscriminately start killing people, then a bunch of those people to pull and fire, is pretty scary. Guns blazing, people firing scared, in possibly conflicting directions, innocents killed... it's a fearsome consideration.
In Basic Military Training I rated 120% on the M16. Don't ask how I did that, you'll figure it out in a minute. And five of those shots went into the guy's target next to me; you see, at that distance, it isn't really that hard to hit a target and then realize that it was the guy's target next to you; the point is you see, in that kind of scenario, simply to hit a target at that distance. That is, if you are shooting at an enemy "out there", you really just need to hit SOMEONE. If I were shooting alone as a sniper, yes, then it would be extremely good to hit whatever I was meaning to aim at. But that is with a long rifle, and at a distance. We're talking handgun here, and close up. And I've done quite well with that, too.
The scenario I'm talking about here, is a guy (or gal) right there in front of you, mere feet or yards away and there being no way to not know what you are aiming at positively. And just like the Good Samaritan, do you act or stand there? Not to mention, just because you have a weapon on you, does not mean you need to, or should, pull it, or should pull it and fire. That is something you have to make a split second decision about. But IF someone pulls a gun and shoots someone, and then takes aim at another, I don't know, I'm thinking, pull and fire?
But there are other issues to consider here, in fact, many.
When you carry, you really need to know what you are doing, and how to do it. Practice so that it's second nature (you don't want to be thinking too much, you want the decision, the right decision, to just happen). But how many simply buy a gun, then carry it, with no license? Or, get a license and carry, with no training. Or, get training but don't practice. Or, practice but don't practice for the reason they are carrying? Yeah, a lot, I'm sure.
UPDATE: NPR Article 1/29/2013 - Armed 'Good Guys' And The Realities Of Facing A Gunman
So, these USCAA people know all that. They want you to get that training and then they want to help you protect yourself, and others. Kind of like the Good Sam laws in some states.
Did you know that you can stop to help someone who is hurt, such as in a car accident, and if you make a mistake, or even if you don't, you can get sued for possibly saving the person's life? There have been situations where a citizen stopped to help someone dying, saved their life, then the person ends up permanently disabled, possibly because of their life being saved. Possibly, it was going to happen no matter who saved them. Then they sue the person that saved their life. Ridiculous, right? Even if they lose and you are proven right, it would be horrible being in that situation, maybe ending up in debt because of what, you tried to save someone's life? Makes you think you should have just let them die. But it has happened. And so some states have passed "Good Sam" laws so people wouldn't be thinking about that as they make up their mind to try to save someone's life.
The USCAA has insurance just for things like this. And for other cases. They give an example of a citizen who has taken his gun lawfully packed, to another state on a plane, but when he got there he was arrested, even though he believed he was following all the rules and laws. He got bailed out that same day by the USCAA and it was all worked out with the police.
So if you are going to carry, or in some cases, even own a gun, this might not be a bad deal for you. Plus, get any training they suggest. Because you can't just pull a gun and use it. Even if you need it, if you don't know what the hell you are doing, you are opening up a nasty can of worms.
Suzanna Gratia-Hupp's testamony video of her telling why she thinks people should be allowed to concealed carry after she was involved in a spree killing incident as a victim. It's an interesting statement.
They offer a document with seven things you absolutely have to know if you are going to concealed carry a handgun:
- When, do I have to shoot? - Knowing when to draw and fire. NEVER draw a gun as a warning, a bluff, or if you do not intend to kill. MAYBE, you can simply show your gun in its holster (and please, use a holster, putting a gun in your pants or pocket is unprofessional and can get you killed). If you draw a gun, especially if you aim it at someone, you need to have the mindset that you will kill that person, you have to be ready to squeeze that trigger, and you have to be prepared to kill them if necessary. Aim for the center body mass. IF your gun is aimed at someone in this scenario, they are going to die in a second or less, but if there is anyway you can NOT pull that trigger, that has to be a consideration. However, that being said, if you draw on them (and best not to get into a "quick draw" with someone, it's best to pull if they aren't looking at you, your mindset of their dying in a second, can be paramount in the possibility of their laying down their arms. Just don't expect it or depend on it, or you can get killed yourself. If they have killed someone and go to aim at you, I would suggest giving strong thought to squeezing and firing. Again, nothing like a professional giving you training on this (practice, practice, practice) before you have to deal with it.
- Training - Did I say to get a good professional trainer? Train. Have I mentioned you should Practice, regularly.This isn't the same as carrying a flashlight. This is a lethal weapon we're talking about here.
- The 21 foot rule - "The 21-foot rule is also known as the Tueller Drill, named after Dennis Tueller, a police officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department who asked the question: “How close is too close?” He essentially quantified the distance that an attacker can cover in
the same time that a defender can draw his pistol and fire a shot on target. He found that the distance of 21 feet can be covered in 1.5 seconds. This is the standard by which many defensive shootings have been measured. Shoot too soon, you are criminally liable. Shoot too late, you risk injury or death. There is very little margin for error." For myself, I've seen a martial artist, granted in a dojo, have someone draw a (fake) handgun on them, 15 feet away, and the guy with the handgun, lost. Something to think about when you are the one holding the cards, or better, the gun. Don't have false confidence. Don't let them get too close, but ask yourself, what IS too close.
- 10 seconds to fight - if you need to draw, you may only have a 1,000th of a second to decide, draw and fire, but if you are hit, you may only have 10 seconds to react, possibly to save yourself, and others. TV and movies, are NOT reality. I have a rule of thumb on this, if you try to kill someone, they will not die; if you only want to simply harm or fight someone, they will probably accidentally die. Shooting someone, does not kill them. You have to shoot them correctly, and possibly maybe many times. You may even have to empty your gun in a situation like this but, did they have a partner? Think, Columbine High School.
- Handgun retention - the art and science of defeating an attempt to disarm the legitimate
wearer of the gun. If someone has a gun, you CAN take it away if you know how, and practice it (I'm not suggesting this, I'm just saying it can be done); likewise, they can take yours from you. Every year there are many people who are shot with their own handgun. If you consider the speed it can take to think and react to fire a gun, it's been proven, you CAN (it's possible) take action against an assailant before they can react. The best way to do this however, is not to let them know you exist. If someone is on a shooting spree in my office and one or more people have gone down (not that I'd have a gun at work, after all, they are not allowed, think about THAT for a minute), so let's say the spree is in someone else's office, I'm NOT telling him a damn thing if I am carrying, he will die without even knowing where the bullet came from. After all, I am NOT a cop. Now that being said, I MIGHT give him warning, but if he even sweats, my gun will go off and he will go down. But then I am me, and you are you. It's to be burned in YOUR mind the rest of your life, no matter what you do on a day like that. Maybe I'll give warning, maybe I won't, it will all depend upon the exact scenario going on at that moment, to decide what I would do.
- The one armed draw - practicing a draw before you need it, is a necessity; being able to draw with either hand, can be life saving. If you draw, always try to use two hands, for stability, especially if you're adrenalin is pumping, your hands are shaking, you will need that stable aim, then squeeze and fire smoothly. Try NEVER to fast draw on someone. Yes, you may need to, if you are going to die anyway, do it. Even if they hit you, you don't have to die for no reason, die by stopping them from harming any others. Don't be a martyr, unless you can stop them. But then that, is up to you as to what to do. But if I know I'm going to die, I am NOT going alone if I can help it and no one is going to die after I do, if it is at all possible.
- Arrested after the draw - Even if you are innocent and perfectly in your rights, if you draw a gun, especially if you shoot and probably if you harm or kill, you may be arrested. You may also be released shortly thereafter but many do not realize that they can be arrested for doing what was right and correct. Do NOT scream at the cops, they are just doing their job, they have to sort out what very well may be an absolute mess. And that takes time to figure out what happened. If you pull a gun for whatever reason (and you may be let go on the spot, but you will still need to give a statement), expect that your life stops, until this is cleared up.
- The cost of Defense - Legal defense, not armed defense. "A private defense attorney will charge you a hefty retainer to even initiate a defense, as much as $50,000 or more, depending on what he believes he will need to spend to defend you. The money is usually paid up front, because once an attorney becomes the attorney of record, he likely cannot be dismissed from the case
just because you ran out of money to pay him. He is in it for the long haul. If you don’t have the money, some form of collateral will be established, like titles to your cars, your gun collection,
expensive jewelry, or even your equity in your house. In addition to attorney’s fees, you [may] will need to pay a private investigator to investigate for you. You see, the investigation the police do is intended to convict people of crimes, not to exonerate them [although, that may be part of their investigation by it's nature]. You need your own investigator to help prove your innocence. Figure on $5,000 for this. You will also likely need experts, and perhaps lots of them."
- When do I carry? - I always thought of it this way, if I feel like I'm not sure, if I think maybe I shouldn't, I don't. If I'm not sure, if I feel like maybe I should, I do. Most times, you just know and don't think about it. If I'm carrying a lot of money for instance, for some reason. Riding a motorcycle cross country, knowing you'll be at stop lights, in a city, in the middle of the night, things like that. When you are vulnerable, basically. That goes to the core of intent, you have to feel 100% into what you are doing, if not, better perhaps to take the chance of needing it, and not have it. Concurrently, if you feel the opposite, better to have it available. I also believe that if you are going to carry at all, you really need to carry for a while, as much as possible, until it becomes a part of you, second nature, then you can stop carrying all the time. It's like with wearing a suit. I always wore a suit like I was out of place. It was uncomfortable, it felt weird. So I started wearing it to work, "weirding" everyone out which was fun ("is he trying for another job? What's going on with him?"), but I did that for about six months until I felt like it was a part of me. Then I stopped. Now when I put on a suit I look better and feel better, I feel, "natural" wearing it. Carrying a gun is uncomfortable. You have to get the right holster, the right position, location on your body, with concerns to your draw, concealability, etc. What looks good walking, can be uncomfortable sitting. Do you need speed of draw, concealability, does the size/weight/shape of the gun mean you need a certain kind of holster? And so on.
- What do I carry? - You might want to get a trainer first, and let them help you choose. That being said, it depends upon several issues. What might you run into? How skilled are you? What are the chances you expect to run into (not that you can plan that, but still....) what kinds of situations? Will you use it for home defense too? It's legal to carry on your own property in most states and in your own home. There is a lot of disagreement in the field of what to carry and what the term "firepower" refers to; is it more, smaller cartridges, more powerful but fewer cartridges, or many powerful and many numbers of cartridges? You can always carry extras in "speed loaders" for revolvers, or extra magazines for semi-autos. But all you need to kill someone, and we're talking about killing, disabling if possible, but in many cases, that can get you killed. Do you use a revolver or a (semi) automatic? Where do you carry it? How much is concealment important to you as it relates to comfort and speed of the draw. DO not try to "shoot the gun out of their hand", do try to kill, and there are a few reasons for this. Why shoot if you're not going to kill, why pull a gun out if you don't need to kill?
When you are in public, or at home especially, you want to limit that, so there are bullets such as frangible or hollow point bullets, that transfer more of the impact power to the body and stop more quickly rather than pass on through when they strike something, as a "hard ball" round will. If it passes through someone, much of that power passes through with them, rather than impacting the body.
In fact, if you are doing home defense, I would strongly advise against even using a handgun. Get a nice short shotgun. Especially if you are small, a woman, or old. That's not sexist, it's reality. If you break into someone's home and you walk into a guy, or a guy with a gun, you're in trouble, but he may try to hold you for the police. If you run into a woman, especially if she's alone, she's probably scared and knows she may be easily outmatched.
Consider you just broke in, and you are now looking down the barrel of a shotgun with a scared individual behind it. DO NOTHING. DO whatever she says. Nothing is scarier than the sound of a 12 gauge pump action shotgun in the dark with a scared woman behind it or a small man, worse if they are old, or a kid; the point is, anyone that has reason to be afraid, because fear holding a gun at you, well, there's nothing scarier. If you do go for a shotgun and someone breaks in, call 911, then if you have to, lock the buttstock under your arm, use the right shells so they tend not to pass through the walls and kill you family or, well, if you can, it's best really to simply run out of the house....
The image above shows penetration over 12" which is deeper than most people are, meaning, you can run a bullet through a person and kill the person behind them. Ricochets are also to be considered. The FBI did a study years ago and ricochets off the ground tend to run parallel to the ground so lying on the ground is not always the best situation.
Consider noise levels. One will usually shoot in a gun range, with ear and eye protection, and you should, but if you EVER use a gun in an emergency, there will be no protection (try keeping your mouth open and your Eustachian tubes in your inner ear unplugged).
So, if you don't carry a gun and you are the type who is responsible and rational, you might consider it. If you do carry a gun now, get more training. If you are going to carry a gun, get used to it, really used to it; get used to it to the point that it seems like an extension of your body, or else you are putting everyone into some degree of danger. Think about the stories you may have heard about basketball players being told by the coach to carry the ball with them for the first weeks or months, even sleeping with it, so it becomes a part of them. I'm not saying, sleep with your gun, it's a simile.
Again, I don't mean to be advocating carrying a weapon. I know it may sound like it. But I also don't mean to ignore the reality of how the world is, or that people do and are carrying. And I know there are people out there who it would be nice if they did carry because they are the types you wish were carrying in some situations. I know some people that always want a gun on them. Seems paranoid to me. I've found in many cases, I can find a weapon, if I needed on, in the environment around me, wherever I am. The best weapon is (honestly? almost) always with you: your brain.
If you are going to carry, simply do it smart.
Think about it. Prepare for it. Find out what professionals say about it. Know what you are doing and what you might have to do. Practice until it's second nature. Know your responsibilities. Go into it wide awake and aware, knowledgeable and practiced, not "eyes wide shut". Do not drink if you are carrying a gun. Partying and guns don't mix. If you are doing anything questionable, don't carry a gun. If police find you with a gun and drugs or alcohol, it goes far worse for you. So use that brain.
But if you do carry, please, be damn sure you know what you are doing. I might be the guy on the other side of the killer, who you accidentally shoot. And I don't want to hear, "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you standing there." You should have. And I still have other things to do in my life.