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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Fear Factor

I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.
--Some Still-Alive Citizen

I held an introductory pistol class this weekend.  All women.  I'm really likin' this trend of more and more women taking the step to learn about firearms and self-defense.  I don't know if it's just because I'm in California - with our virulent anti-gun culture - but most women I come across are afraid of guns.  I'm very happy to see that changing, at least in my little slice of the world.

One of the ladies taking the class this weekend attended it with her mother.  She is a college student, and her apartment was broken into (she was not there at the time).  The maggot that did the breaking in was a convicted rapist.

Her dad insisted she learn how to shoot.  Good on him.

Dad had a nice S & W .38 Special five shot revolver.  The plan was for her to use this gun during the range time of the class.  Mom elected to do the rental program we've got set up with the range (use of a .22LR revolver and semi-auto).

Before the students start shooting, I put a round down range so that they can hear what it sounds like with their ear protection on.  If a student brings their own gun - larger than a .22 - I'll shoot a round from that gun as well.

I shoot the .22, and everyone is A-OK.  I shoot the .38 Special, turn around, and the girl's eyes are all red, and then there are tears streaming down her face.

Oh crap!  My first "crier".  I've taught over 500 students at this range over the years, and never even had puffy eyes.  Lots of shakes, fidgeting and sweating, but no tears.

Her mom suggests that they swap stations - daughter will use the .22's, and mom will shoot the .38 spl.

The daughter does great shooting the .22's.  I'm giving her lots of encouragement, and slight adjustments to her stance and grip.  Her mom is just about finished, and has 2 rounds left.  I tell her to wait.

I tell the daughter that I want her to shoot the remaining .38's.  She has a look of horror in her eyes.  Seriously.  I reinforce that she's been doing great, and can easily shoot the .38.  I make a deal with her:  I'll load up 1 round, and she'll put it down range.  If it's too tough, she can call it quits, and no one is the worse.  If it works out OK, she can put the next shot down range as well.


I load up the gun, and hand it to her.  She cocks the pistol, bends her knees, leans into the shot, locks her elbow, brings the gun to eye-level and squeezes the trigger.


You've never seen so much happiness on a face in your life!  I loaded up the next round, and she damned near put it through the same hole.  It was awesome.

Not too long ago, a woman in Oakland was working in her front garden.  She's digging around and finds a black duffel bag buried in the garden -
Inside was an assault rifle, shotgun shells, a black ski mask, black gloves and a towel.
Twenty years ago, if you found a bag of guns buried in your yard, you wouldn't even miss a beat. You'd be on the phone to the police immediately. Not so, any more.
Vanaman's heart raced as she stared at her discovery and tried desperately to figure out what to do.
She was paralized with fear. Why would that be? Because in Oakland - and many surrounding cities in the SF Bay Area - gangs run the joint. If you cross the gangs, you can end up dead.
When Vanaman returned, four young men stood in her frontyard. "What did you do with the guns?" one of them asked. "I called the police," she told him. "I didn't know what to do. I'm sorry."

The man scowled and told her she owed him $800 and said she had a week to come up with the money. "I don't make that much," she replied. "Bitches get killed for that," he told her. "Bitches get tortured for that."

A keen observer of others, Vanaman noticed the young man used the passive voice so she couldn't accuse him of threatening her directly. But the implication was clear. "Bitches get raped for that," he shouted.

Suddenly, she felt torn. For years, she had rationalized her choices in coping with the danger outside her door. Now, she knew turning in the gun was the right moral decision, but it had put her life at risk.

With the man still berating her, Vanaman said she would sell whatever valuables she could to get the money.
She and her roommates have moved out.  The police were called numerous times, but only showed up on rare occasions.  They were there to provide protection when she was moving her stuff out.

Two stories of fearful individuals.  One appears to be taking the path of not allowing herself to be intimidated.  She seemed more fearful of being raped or killed than she was of learning how to shoot a gun for self-defense.  She fought through the fear and learned the skills to defend herself.

The other lady is folding up her tent, and getting out of Dodge.  The bad guys won that one.

In the same situation as the second lady, I don't know that I'd have acted differently.  This horrific State of California has stripped her of her ability to keep a means of deadly self-defense (to be used against weapons of deadly offense against her) with her at all times.  She might have a gun with her in her home, but venture outside, and you're stripped naked, while the bad guys are still heavily armed.

Being caught by "the authorities" with the means to defend herself - a loaded handgun - outside of her home or business makes her a felon in this state.  You don't need to shoot anyone, you just need to be in possession of the loaded handgun.  An otherwise law-abiding citizen merely possessing the means with which to defend her life or the life of another, and she goes away for many years.

And, ironically, once she becomes a felon, she now forfeits her right to possess a handgun in (I believe) all states.

The various arms of our government keep telling us that crime is down.  We're safer than we've ever been.  Our nation's police agencies are takin' care of business.

I just don't believe it.  And judging from my perpetually sold out gun classes, regular citizens aren't swallowing the tripe either.


Related:  THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!
A 66 Year Old Texan Vic Stacey Puts Four 357 Magnum Pistol Rounds into a Killer Rifleman at 165 Yards
Some whacko had killed his neighbor and her dog, and the first responding cop was pinned down by the bad guy.  The citizen's first shot hit the bad guy in the thigh.  Three of the next 4 shots also hit their mark.  This gave the cop the ability to turn his AR-15 on the bad guy and take him out.

Once again, a responsible, armed citizen helping to keep his community safe.

Accept The Challenge

Which fears have beaten you down?  Which have you beaten?  Which have you figured a "work around" to make the fear irrelevant?

Anyone who's dropped by here more than once knows my stance on the issue of self-defense.  I'll not end up dead simply to ensure I'm following the law.  It's really that simple.

Are there risks in this approach?  Hell yes.  Each of us has to do the whole risk/reward calculation for ourselves.

This moronic state has even criminalized your ability to possess an unloaded, cased gun, unless you are traveling between "approved" locations or activities.  From your home to the firing range, for instance.

Keep a cased gun in your car while on your way to pick up some burgers, and you've broken the law.

This issue is number two on the list of reasons why my wife and I are leaving this state after her retirement (number one being the financial idiocy of our state government).  We will be moving to a state which recognizes the Constitutionaly guaranteed right of citizens to keep and bear arms.  California doesn't do so, and won't for a very long time.  Longer than I have left on this earth, so we're bailing out.

Until that time, I will likely, on occasion, be breaking the law.  So be it.

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

The recent shooting in NY City was front and center for the entire day on the Cable news shows. Kind of irritating I watch the news to see all the news and they spent the entire day speculating about who, what, why and replaying virtually meaningless "eye witness" reports that offerred zero insight into what happened. The next morning as I turned on the news I fully expected another day of wall to wall reports about the shooting but... nothing! Not a peep. I was suprised and pleased to finally hear other news but it wasn't until later in the day that I heard why the story fell off the cliff; it seems to policemen shot all the bystanders not the shooter! Suddenly this is no longer news worthy!!?? Suddenly no one cares that innocent people were shot because it wasn't some wild eyed gunman excercising his 2nd amendment rights. More proof that the media uses these incidents to push for gun control. Speaking of gun control, the fact that these two cops shot 9 bystanders kind of scares the shit out of me. Don't they teach cops to shoot anymore? I appreciate what our police and other first responders do for us everyday but seriously 9 bystanders shot!! The only gun control needed here is teaching these guys how to control where they shoot.

Chief Instructor said...

On Saturday morning, I took one of my sons and his buddy to the range. They were doing the typical range "practice" - strong side, supported shooting. I told them that every time they go to the range, they MUST use techniques that they suck at. Strong side unsupported, weak side unsupported, etc. I gave them some technique input, and soon enough, they were hitting about 70% of their shots into the 6 inch paste-on target at 10 yards (with 100% of the shots hitting inside the center mass outline of the main target).

We finished up, and had to stop by the PM shop for me to pick up some "homework". One of my partners and the employee on hand (a retired cop) asked if I had heard about the NYC shooting.

I wasn't overly surprised. In my personal experience, LEOs, as a group, are some of the worst shooters I've come across. At my former gun club, only two members have been permanently banned from the range. Yep, both were cops.

[Painting with a VERY broad brush here] My experience has been that cops fall into two broad categories: Good, decent people who truly want to do good for the community. The other are power freaks. The, "I've got a gun and a badge, and you'll do as I say. Or else."

This latter group doesn't seem to feel the need to practice their craft. They've got their POST certificate and the aforementioned gun and badge. That's all they need.

The "good guys" work at their craft. Virtually every time I teach my advanced Practical Defensive Pistol class, there are LEOs on that range practicing their holster/draw/shoot skills.

It's almost always the same guys.

Regarding the gun grabbers, I noticed the same thing. It went from, "another gun toting mad man has mowed down scores of innocent bystanders" to "oops" and it fell off the face of the earth.

Not to let a shooting go to waste, I read an article decrying the large caliber (.45 ACP) handgun that the nut was using. "Do we really need THAT MUCH descructive force in the hands of mere citzens?"

Adam said...

A couple points:

First, you are correct in that most cops don't practice a lot. You'd be amazed at how many cops aren't "gun people."

Second, if you actually look at the specifics of the shooting, they did well. They shot 16 times, hit the bad guy 10 times. Only 3 people got hit with bullets and the other 6 got hit with fragments (concrete chips, glass, grazes, etc).

Third, most shootings have a less than 50% hit rate, that was a rate of 62.5%. Shooting on the range is COMPLETELY different than shooting when someone has a gun and is trying to kill you.

Fourth, It is why practicing is so important. But trust me, when you have that adrenaline dump, it is like nothing you've ever experienced unless you've been in a similar situation. No amount of training can prepare you for it.

Fifth, it's unfortunate, but that shooting was the price of doing business. It was a crappy situation all the way around. Most places are not as crowded as NYC in the morning. God forbid if the cops didn't shoot at him and he had shot other random people on the street, they'd have been crucified for not shooting at him.

Sixth, the media showed their true colors with the reporting on this story. Does it matter who shot the 9 people? Not really, but it isn't sensational anymore. The media could not fulfill their agenda, so they moved on.

Chief Instructor said...

Adam, first off, bad on me. Honestly, I meant to mention the adrenaline dump factor in my reply. Having a gun pointed in your direction - in anger - would fry your circuits.

That being said, I still score this as a horrible piece of police work.

In this situation, those cops MUST anticipate that the guy was going to do exactly what he did - turn towards them with a gun.

Their training regeim is horrible.

When an apperant maggot enters my store, my hand either goes to my gun, or at the very least, I ensure my clothing is not restricting access. I expect the person to act badly.

I've gone through dozens and dozens of scenarios about how we could be hit, and I've gone through dozens and dozens of potential responses. Both mentally and in the range.

Every cop in America should be required to be a member of the IDPA, and they should be required to keep their IDPA certification as a condition of keeping their badge. Just as a CPA is required to maintain their knowledge of tax laws, police should be required to maintain their knowledge of situations and responses.

True, the stress of IDPA would not exactly match that of being shot at, but the stress of time constraints, accuracy requirements and bragging rights would at least be better than annual gun "qualifying".

Those two cops were caught by surprise. They were falling all over themselves. Their lack of focus and training resulted in 1 dead bad guy and 9 injured civilians. Civilian deaths not exceeding bad guys deaths was nothing short of miraculous.