Carrying a gun without knowing the law? Words just fail me. (sticky)

If you carry a gun for self-defense, you have to know the law.  Just because you are skilled at driving a car does not mean that you know the laws of the road and are safe driving on them.

Invest the money you’d spend on shaving a tenth of a second off your splits with Andrew Branca’s book or seminars — it’ll pay far greater dividends. Visit this link to learn more, and use the discount code “streetstandards” for a 10% discount.

Also, strongly consider shooting self-defense legal “insurance” plans.  They are NOT all the same.  I believe in the model and services of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network.  This link explains the different models of after-the-event legal aid.  Caveat emptor!

Why I dislike gimmick weapons

Tactical pens, cleverly disguised saps, modified brass knuckles, and so on.  There’s a whole industry out there selling hidden/disguised weapons to the self-defense crowd.

I like none of them.  I suppose I could be forced to make an argument for them if boxed into an intellectual and tactical corner, but in general they are gimmicks, sold to people who 1) aren’t thinking the problem through, 2) are dazzled by the latest tacti-cool thingy, or 3) are strange rangers, mall ninjas or both.

OK.  Got that off my chest.  Now here’s why.

Many years ago I wrote an article for Combat Handguns (RIP) pointing out that there were six levels of force options that a well-prepared person ought to have available on them.

  1. Verbal/de-escalation skills
  2. Soft empty hand skills
  3. Hard empty hand skills
  4. Impact weapon capability
  5. Chemical options
  6. Deadly force

Let’s set aside the fact that most people never bother to study, let alone acquire, appropriate street verbal/de-escalation skills, soft hand skills and hard (striking) hand skills.  That aside, this list means, again to most people, that they need to carry a piece of hardware to have options 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 available to them.  But if you’ve made the appropriate investments of time all you need is a can of OC and a gun to have all six options at your immediate disposal.  Carrying some gimmick to achieve options 2, 3 and 4 means that you don’t have enough investment in good combatives/martial arts skills…and let’s be honest, that’s a serious deficit.  (Note that I’m saying that impact weapons capability can be achieved with good striking skills…there’s blows, and there’s blows!)

When I’ve argued this point with a gimmick-enthralled person the reply I usually get is, “That’s all well and good for someone with martial arts training, but I don’t have any”, usually followed by some variant of “Besides, I’m not in great shape.”  Well kid, get your lazy ass off the couch, get in shape and learn some skills; you got no sympathy from me. I know it’s more fun to feel like a man by shooing guns, but if you’re deficient in these other areas, going to the range instead of going to the gym or dojo is just being irresponsible,  lazy, and self-indulgent.

You know: hard work and sweat.  They’re still virtues.

There’s also some very serious tactical reasons that I don’t like these gimmick weapons:

  • They take time to access; using your empty hands is always faster.
  • They can perform only certain tasks and thus limit what you can do with them; you lose the flexibility to flow into some other technique in real time.
  • Once they are in your hand you become focused on using them and continue to try and deploy them even if the situation has changed and they aren’t the best or even an appropriate option.  Related: you become reluctant to simply drop them and flow into a more appropriate technique or level of force (either force escalation or  de-escalation).

Finally, there’s one other, admittedly second-level reason, that I don’t like them.  If you’re searched or arrested with one of more of them on you, you look for all the world to a DA and a potential jury pool like a paranoid strange ranger, and that can only work against you.

Bottom line: you don’t need them, and they are actually tactically harmful.

Diminished Fighter Theory and Shot Placement

Hoch Hochheim, one of the great trainers working today, coined the term “Diminished Fighter Theory” years ago.  Here’s one of his posts explaining the concept.  He echos what I recall Paul Vunak saying to a class years ago: “Yes, the juk-chun-choy [your transliteration may vary] are little .22 caliber punches, but they buy you time for, and set up, a .308-class punch like a cross.”

I’ve often articulated this concept as it relates to self-defense shooting as “a shot anywhere on a person is a good shot because it will get a reaction and buy you time for a follow-up shot.”  Essentially, every shot that lands buys you at least a quarter second window in which to place another shot on your attacker.  Usually.  Even a wing shot; I don’t know about you, but taking a 9mm to my even my bicep is going to cost me at least a quarter second of down time, and that’s time enough for my opponent to aim and place a better shot.

I am NOT advocating “spray and pray”.  At all, and for many reasons (including liability).  I AM suggesting that getting off your best shot quickly is better than getting off a much better shot later.  Your first shot will likely gain you the window in which to place that better shot, while waiting to make that perfect shot may give your attacker his window of harm opportunity.

What I am hoping to point out is that the argument that “only shots to vital areas count” is not valid.   Yes, they are better, and they should be your training and street goal, but on the street a shot to a non-vital area will usually buy you the time you need to make the vital-area shot.  I really dislike the macho posturing that you have to make high center-chest shots every time or you 1) are wasting your time, 2) are a failed, poor and miserable shooter, and 3) aren’t a real man.


Understanding how the vendor/writer relationship works

Was reading this post on Soldier Systems about some dick head that wanted to scam some free shit out of a vendor.  The vendor’s response was way too polite, IMO.

Anyway. it caused me to dust off and expand a piece I’d written earlier on the relationship between industry writers, vendors, and readers.  The piece is here; it’s 3000 words long and will only take a couple minutes to read.  Here’s the title and sub-titles, explaining what it’s about:


For Vendors: How Not to Get Written About

For Writers: How to Not be an Ass

For Readers: How to Read a Magazine

Three-and-a-half resources for learning the law of self defense

View, and act.  Make use of at least one – don’t be a fool.

Update – I’m now reading Andrew Branca’s new 3rd edition of his book and it’s obvious that there are many elements and subtleties of the law –  as well as a large variation in the law between states – which aren’t addressed in the Armed Response DVD that I mention.  So I suggest that you simply stick with Atty. Branca’s book, as well as the classics by Mas Ayoob.

Gun rights in a nutshell

I first formulated these sentences over 30 years ago.  The thought isn’t original, certainly, but I think this formulation is.

You can not simultaneously assert a right and deny its means of expression.  You can no more assert a right to self defense and deny access to firearms than you can assert a right to free speech and prohibit printing presses.