Stupid stuff that “instructors” say, part 1

My friend, Marcus Wynne, in a long-ish post that gives some excellent advice to the new gunner, had this to say about the mandatory classes that you are required to take in some jurisdictions:

If you are required to take mandatory training before you can purchase (like CCW etc.), take the cheapest/fastest/closest training – and compare what you’ve learned from your previous research with what you may be shown/exposed to in such a class. It may be wise to just keep your mouth shut and your head down and get your ticket punched. Don’t expect much.

I agree; just get it out of the way and then start some actual training with real instructors (Marcus’ post is an excellent guide on just how to do that).  Why do I bring this up?  Well, this is Part 1 of what I suspect will be a long series over the upcoming years on stupid things that stupid instructors, stupid gun owners, and stupid gun-store clerks will tell you at some point.  And many instructors of these ridiculous mandatory classes are just that: stupid.  And TERRIBLE.  I mean barf worthy, cousin-marrying terrible.  But to be fair, not all of them.  Some are actually really good instructors trying to teach you as much as they are allowed given the format of the class, and the main constraint on their ability to do so is that most students in these classes just want to get the hell out of there and don’t care if they learn anything.

Buy a gun, plan on carrying it, and not want to learn anything.  Yup!

Anyway, here’s our stupid advice for the day: If you draw your gun it should be to shoot.  Alternate forms: 1) don’t draw unless you shoot, 2) keep your gun holstered until its time to shoot.

This assumes that you let a situation that you could have controlled with a proper display of your gun coupled with appropriate verbalization (called “challenging”) devolve to the far more dangerous point (for you!) where shooting is necessary.  You let a situation that would have been a simple police report turn into a life-changing, years-long hell hole of likely financial ruin, emotional ruin, and relationship ruin.

Way to go.  I don’t know if the stupid is strong here, Walter Mitty is being channeled, or the testosterone is out of control.  Whatever: whoever says something like this should not be allowed to procreate — I would actually vote for a law that disallows it!

The best articulation of the right advice here is something that Massad Ayoob has been saying for decades: The great power of the gun is the power to intimidate.  Use your gun, during legally and tactically appropriate circumstances, and in a defensible and legal way, to challenge a suspect that is threatening you.  This is far safer for you, likely to dissuade the BG, and it leads to a far less bad – maybe a not bad at all – outcome for you.

This assumes you know how to recognize legally and tactically appropriate circumstances, and you know how to challenge in a defensible and legal way.  You’ll need good instruction for that, and I refer you to Marcus’ post that I started this piece with.



11 thoughts on “Stupid stuff that “instructors” say, part 1

  1. I may end up being on your list of stupid people who say stupid stuff, but I think you made an assumption on this one that is not entirely correct. Specifically, I think you made the assumption that what you suggest (drawing the gun before there is a need to shoot) is legal. In Colorado, where I live, it is not. Colorado does not recognize a distinction between lethal force and the threat of lethal force, so, if I draw my gun in an attempt to keep a situation from escalating to the point where I would need to shoot (but where shooting in not yet justified), I have just used lethal force in a situation where, by my own acknowledgement, it was not justified. I don’t like that, but that is how the law stands currently; there is currently no legally appropriate way to dissuade a bad gun with a gun in Colorado when you are not also justified in shooting.

    In states where it is legal to draw your gun as a deterrent, I have no issue with your argument, but making the blanket assumption that “don’t draw until you have to shoot” is stupid advice worthy of euthanasia in all cases misses the mark a bit.


  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I appreciate it.

    In response, I have to say that as dismayed as I am by so many gun laws (like those in my state of MA), I would be completely shocked if CO law said that challenging with a gun is precisely and exactly the same thing as shooting someone with one, with the same applicable legal process and penalties. Please see my post of today above titled “How to get crappy, but easy and cheap, advice on legal gun use”.

    Respectfully, I would want to hear what you are claiming from Andrew Branca, Marty Hayes, or Mas Ayoob – all legal experts on this subject, or John Farnam or Michael Bane – both CO residents, extremely smart guys, and top-shelf gun industry veterans.

    If what you are saying is true, then there has to be a carve-out for cops who can’t do their job without challenging suspects. Is there?


    • To be fair, I may have overstated the case a bit; in re-reading the statute, challenging with a gun would be a misdemeanor, so the the same legal process and penalties would not apply. I based my comment on Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S) 18-12-106. Prohibited use of weapons. (see

      C.R.S. 18-12-106:
      (1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if:
      (a) He knowingly and unlawfully aims a firearm at another person

      Also note that, “Self-defense is not a valid defense to the crime of prohibited use of weapons. People v. Beckett, 782 P.2d 812 (Colo. App. 1989), aff’d, 800 P.2d 74 (Colo. 1990).”

      So, even if pointing a gun is not the same as shooting someone, it is still (as I read this) illegal. This particular discussion came up on another blog where Andrew Branca participated (, and he did not challenge my interpretation of this statue. That said, not challenging me doesn’t mean the same thing as supporting or agreeing with me, either.

      I have not found any “carve-out” or exception for law enforcement in the 18-12-x series of statutes (the “Offenses relating to firearms and weapons” section of the criminal code) , so if it exists, I had a really poor reading comprehension moment (which is sadly possible), or that exception is in some other are where I did not think to look.

      Ultimately, I would love to find that I am wrong and could use a gun to challenge or dissuade (within a legally appropriate context, of course) as it does have benefits; I’m just not sure I want to be the test case who finds out exactly how the statute will be applied.


      • Well. I certainly don’t know the answer, but to repeat, I’d be shocked if your interpretation is accurate, and I think that if so it would now be notorious in the firearms community. But stranger things have happened. Just to play the devil’s advocate here:

        – “knowingly and unlawfully” requires the action to be unlawful, which it may not be IN AN APPROPRIATE SITUATION
        – If there’s no exception for LE than that’s a clue
        – If you were right there would be lots of case law on the subject
        – The article you reference has Mas Ayoob disagreeing with you – That’s not a place I’d like to be in! 🙂

        What I don’t doubt is that the case law, and maybe even the statuary law, in CO, has nuances that differ from other states. You’d be doing yourself a big favor to read Atty. Branca’s book and order his CO specific addendum here:

        Or buy his on0line CO-specific training here:


      • Just for the sake of completeness if someone else references this information later, Colorado law does make an exception for police officers. It can be found in C.R.S 18-1-707 (2) (b).

        (2) A peace officer is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person for a purpose specified in subsection (1) of this section only when he reasonably believes that it is necessary:

        (b) To effect an arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody, of a person whom he reasonably believes:

        (I) Has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon; or

        (II) Is attempting to escape by the use of a deadly weapon; or

        (III) Otherwise indicates, except through a motor vehicle violation, that he is likely to endanger human life or to inflict serious bodily injury to another unless apprehended without delay.

        Thanks to Andrew Branca’s “The Law of Self Defense” which referenced another point in 18-1-707 which got me looking in the right place.


  3. Like I said, I hope I am wrong and you (and Mas Ayoob) are right. Either way, thanks for taking the time to discuss the issue with me. I appreciate your feedback.


    • Just FYI, it looks like the CO addendum is not currently available.

      At the risk of beating a dead horse, Andrew Branca posted the following in the other thread that I referenced (emphasis his):

      “There ARE states in which it IS legal to POINT a gun at someone under circumstances in which it would NOT be legal to ACTUALLY SHOOT THEM. Indeed, MOST states fall into this class, if the appropriate circumstances are met. In the majority of states THREAT of force is not identical to USE of force.

      There are OTHER states in which you would ONLY be lawfully entitled to POINT a gun at someone if you would ALSO have been lawfully entitled to SHOOT that person. My home state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is one such example–here, the THREAT of force IS identical to the USE of force, legally speaking.”

      Given what he says about Massachusets, and the fact that you indicated you live there, is there a distinction between “threatening” and “challenging” that I am missing? I’m really not trying to be contrary; I am fascinated by this and want to understand it better.


  4. I will play devils advocate here, and say that displaying a gun may not have the desired effect. Your opponents response may simply be to shoot you without missing a beat. In this sense the advice that you are criticizing has value in that unless you anticipate this you may think you have the upper hand when you don’t. I know of an example on a security cam where one BG challenged another BG; the challengee made the mistake of merely lifting his shirt to show his gun and the challenger immediately shot him with a gun he had hidden in his hand. Here is a link to a story where the good guy thought he could challenge someone and he died Now if the BG gives up, great. Just be forewarned.


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