Tag: Firearms

Pay Attention to What You’re Paying Attention To


shutterstock_216207001There’s been a tremendous increase in firearms ownership in America in the past few years. From concern over the availability of firearms under this political climate to the threat of active shooters, Americans are arming themselves more and more as of late.

Arming yourself with a gun, however, is an optional checkpoint on the road to personal security. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A firearm is not a talisman against evil, it requires a skilled and determined operator to be effective. If you’ve decided that a gun should be a part of your personal security inside and outside the home, get the training you need to safely own and/or carry your gun, and then get some more. After all, no one ever survived a gunfight thinking “Wow, did I ever overtrain for that!”

Before buying a gun, however, consider all the other things in your lifestyle that might be points of vulnerability in your life. Using a firearm to defend your life should be, in the words of Massad Ayoob, only in the gravest extreme*. If it’s possible to avoid a situation where a gun is needed, do so first, last, and foremost.

“When May I Shoot a Student?”


shutterstock_195431228As a professor, I have academic colleagues forwarding the panicked reactions to the bills in various states allowing weapons to be legally carried on campus. One passed around this New York Times op-ed with the sarcastically-calm title by an Idaho professor “When May I Shoot a Student?” If students are allowed to carry guns on campus, then this professor wants to know under what circumstances he can legally shoot them.

The assumption is that allowing students to carry weapons on campus creates a novel, dangerous, and unprecedented situation. With the column’s mud-thick sarcasm getting in the way, I can’t tell whether he understands that the law already affirms the right of people to carry firearms when he walks around town. Does he also worry about when he can shoot an armed person on the street?

His claim is that students are specially upset at him — by virtue of being in his class and earning bad grades — so he’s at special risk there.  I’ve had my share of stressed, upset students over the years, so let’s not dismiss this point. But allowing legal carry on campus doesn’t change the situation. The dangerous ones have always been dangerous and a student with murder in his mind isn’t deterred by a campus rule prohibiting weapons.

First Gun, Favorite Gun, Next Gun?


working_gun-2The Ricochet community includes many responsible gun owners, from hunters to law enforcement, military personnel to weekend target shooters, Second Amendment enthusiasts to those just wanting personal protection. Borrowing from Jon Gabriel, what was your first gun, your favorite gun, and your next gun?

By “favorite,” I mean in terms of sentimental value, i.e., the gun that shows up the most in the lies stories that you tell.


You Are Your Own Safe Space


property-rightsGrant Cunningham, who’s one of the most-respected firearms trainers out there today, had an interesting post last month about what really keeps us safe:

With such limited application, there is no way the gun can really keep you safe — it’s all the other stuff you do that keeps you safe; the gun simply gives you a way out when things go horrendously bad. The gun has often been compared to a fire extinguisher: does a fire extinguisher prevent fires? Of course not. It’s just a tool to allow immediate response in case one breaks out.

Preventing fires in and around your residence is pretty easy. We all recognize the iconic image of Smokey the Bear and his message about putting out campfires and we know not to let our kids play with matches. When my oldest was in Boy Scouts, we drew up a fire escape plan for our house, and then we — out of all the families in the pack — also drew up a home invasion plan that laid out where our safe room was and what he and the rest of the family should do if a there was a “bad guy” (Or guys. Or gals.) in the house.

7 Essential Accessories for Your New Defensive Pistol


shutterstock_294491978Choosing to carry a gun on a regular basis is a very big decision. You’ve realized, along with a growing number of people, that there may not be a policeman around when you need one, and you’ve concluded that you have the temperament needed to safely carry a gun.

Deciding to take care of your own personal safety is crucial because you are, and always will be, your own first responder. Carrying a pistol with you, concealed or not, allows for more options in defense of your life that not having a firearm gives you. For most of us, the chances are slim that we’ll ever need a gun to defend our lives, and that is a very good thing indeed. It’s not the odds of having a lethal force encounter that matter, but rather the stakes — and the stakes when guns are involved are extremely high for everyone.

So what other things might you need to accompany a concealed carry pistol to help keep you safe?

Why Did You Decide to Start Carrying a Gun?


dressing-concealed-carry-gunSimple question, isn’t it? Why did you decide to join thousands and thousands of other people like yourself and purchase a firearm for self-defense?

If you’re like me (and I know I am), it was because of a real threat (a psychotic relative) and a perceived threat (a rise in violent crime in the Phoenix area). Either is a very valid reason to arm yourself and your family against the threat of grievous bodily harm, and if you’ve done so already, congratulations, you’ve made the most adult decision you’ll ever make in your life.

But what are you willing to defend with your gun? Your life? You family’s lives? Your co-worker’s lives? The life of a random stranger on the street? Your car? Your stuff? Someone else’s stuff? These are all questions will you need to answer before your gun is in your hand, because there will not be time to answer them when the shooting starts.

Skill Drills For New Pistol Owners


shutterstock_89863252“You are what you practice.” — Ken Hackathorn

The gun business is booming. There were enough guns sold on Black Friday last year to equip the United States Marines (and a couple of extra Army divisions). However, there’s an annoying tendency within the firearms business community to view the sale of a firearm as the be-all, end-all of gun ownership, without helping the customer learn how to use their gun. The fact is, aside from collectors, very few people buy a gun just for the sake of owning one; rather, they buy with a specific purpose in mind. That purpose, according to a 2014 survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is target shooting and self-defense.

Today’s new target shooters tend to live in cities instead of in the country, so their access to large pistol bays or open land where shooting is permitted is limited at best. However, today’s urban gun owners can take advantage of the fast-growing phenomenon of the luxury gun range, or “guntry club,” shooting in a comfortable, well-lit indoor range, or shoot pistols from a bench at a public outdoor range.

The Biblical Basis for Self-Defense


“See, now I’m thinking: maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here … he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous *** in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. And I’d like that. But that **** ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ REAL hard to be the shepherd.” 

Jules Winnfield 

Defending Against an Active Shooter


On his podcast last week, Michael Bane talked about altering our practice to accommodate the new reality of Islamic terrorism. In essence, we should prepare ourselves to deal with some of the same kind of things that Israel has been dealing with since about 1947 or so (Thankfully without the hordes of invading T-62′s for now, at least.).

Since at least the early ’70s, the paradigm in the United States for armed personal defense has been defending against street crime: Muggers and rapists were our greatest worry, not a re-creation of Charlie Hebdo on American soil. Sadly, those days are in the past. We’re no longer worried about the bad guy coming within bad-breath distance to do us harm, now we also need to worry about attackers with rifles whose intentions aren’t to rob us, but to kill us in the name of their god. Because there is nothing that an active shooter with a rifle wants from you besides your death, the distance of a potential deadly encounter is significantly increased, which affects how we practice and train with our defensive pistol.

Member Post


Sunday night President Obama called for a ban on gun ownership by persons on the No Fly List. The hue and cry immediately erupted: “Obama wants to seize all the guns.” Now I think it safe to say that Mr. Obama would seize a huge number of guns were it within his power. Fortunately, if […]

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Choosing Your First Defensive Firearm


woman-at-gun-rangeIf you’ve decided to take responsibility for your own self-protection and become your own first responder, you’re in good company. This year, on Black Friday, Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Marine Corps (and a few extra Army Divisions as well).

The fact is, though, that going into a gun store to purchase a firearm can be an intimidating event. It’s like buying a new big screen TV for your home or upgrading the stereo in your car: There are a lot of technical terms and a lot of choices to make, sometimes with no clear distinction between one product and another. Guns, for the most part, are a consumer item, just like a blender or a microwave or a television, so what you plan on doing with your gun is going to affect what kind of gun you’re going to buy. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume you’re looking for something that is first and foremost to help keep yourself and your family safe inside your home, and then possibly to carry outside the home as well.

If that’s your situation, I would recommend starting with a modern, compact polymer service pistol in 9mm, such as the Glock 19, the Smith & Wesson M&P9c, the Sig Sauer P320 Carry, Ruger SR9-C, or the FNS-9 Compact. All of these guns are very reliable, very safe to handle, and very easy to use. Also, most of these have a wide variety of accessories available so your gun can grow in capabilities as you do.

A Culture of Good Marksmanship Makes for a Good Police Force


The news of the death of Laquan Macdonald last year is shining a spotlight on the training and ethics of the Chicago police force. This is a situation that we’ve seen far too often, but my question is, why is it that the police forces of cities like Chicago seem to have problems with basic marksmanship? Is it because there’s no history and culture of civilian marksmanship to flatten the learning curve when it comes to gun safety?

Gift Ideas for the Gun Nut in Your Life


2360-000-110_MediumLet’s face it: If you’re a shooting sports enthusiast gun nut, you’re not easy to buy gifts for: Try explaining to your wife that yes, those magazines for an AK are wonderful, but you own an AR, not an AK. She’ll say “It’s just one letter, what’s the big deal?” and then go on about how she doesn’t actually own six pairs of black pumps, she owns one pair that’s black, one’s that ebony, one that’s jet, one that’s deep charcoal, one that’s…

Where was I? Oh yeah; gun gift ideas.

I’ve had a fair amount of experience with this sort of thing because of my previous career as an advertising photographer. I learned to drop subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints to my family about what specific items I wanted for Christmas, because If I didn’t drop hints, they’d end up buying me 20 rolls of 24-exposure VR-G 100, and photographers can always use more film, right?

What Can Men Do Against Such Reckless Hate?


In the comments of my article on lessons from the Paris attacks, Mike Silver commented,

“You need professionals to fight off jihadis. A bunch of kids carrying guns would be a formula for a Bastille Day celebration. Half of them high on the music or high otherwise. I really don’t see the applicability of a Second Amendment argument in this case. It’s an audience out for a good time, not capable of defending themselves with or without guns. It’s they who need protection, and apparently none existed.”

Member Post


What follows may sound nutty, almost survivalist. Last night on the news a reporter explained that the FBI is keeping an eye on potential Muslim terrorists in every state in the Union. That didn’t surprise me. Our enemies are determined—it sometimes seems much more than we—to inflict as much pain as possible wherever they can. […]

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What to Do After You Get Your Concealed Carry Permit


shutterstock_166788203You’d be surprised how many people take a concealed carry permit class and then rarely, if ever, carry a pistol on regular basis. After all, it’s not a “Concealed Leave-In-It-Your-House Permit,” is it? The problem is that, for most of us, carrying a pound or more of metal on your hip is not a natural act, and making concealed carry a part of everyday life is an uphill climb. Some suggestions to make the transition to the concealed carry lifestyle are:

  1. Shoot a practical pistol match. Aside from the fact that they are chock-full of good people and a lot of fun to shoot, you’ll be walking around with an (unloaded) gun on your hip and getting used to how it feels to have one with you all the time. Plus, there is no better way to find out how you’ll handle the major stress of having to use a gun in defense of your life than learning how you use a gun during the minor stress of shooting a match.
  2. Carry your gun around the house. Actually, this is a good idea before and after you get your permit. Most states (consult with a lawyer on this to be sure) allow for concealed carry on the premises of your abode, and the safest place to store a gun outside the home (on your person) is also the safest place to store a gun inside it. Plus, carrying a gun around the house gets you used to what it feels like to walk around with your sidearm on your hip in anticipation of that fabulous day when your concealed carry permit arrives in the mail.
  3. Take a firearms training class. Your concealed carry class was not a firearms training class; it was a firearms licensing class. It no more taught you how shoot quickly and accurately under stressful (very stressful) conditions than your driver’s license test taught you how to avoid sliding on an icy road. The NRA’s Basic Pistol and Personal Protection classes are two great ways to get started in firearms training as they provide certification that is recognized nation-wide and deliver solid, useful information on how to use your pistol to defend your life. Start with those, then look around for other trainers in your area.
    For example, there is a married couple here in southwest Florida who teach firearms training, and their “shoot n scoot” event is a unique blend of training and practical pistol match which really gets new gun owners used to the idea of carrying a gun on their hip and uses practical shooting to teach them to shoot well under stressful situations. This is important, because if, God forbid, you need to use your gun to defend your life, you won’t rise to the occasion; you’ll fall to your lowest level of mastery.

Years ago, during my first concealed carry class, my instructor told us that on average, only one in three of his students will make the decision to carry on a regular basis and the rest will just carry a gun “when they feel they need it.” We’ll talk about that latter stupidity at a later date but, for now, make the commitment to carry your defensive firearm whenever and wherever you can, because you probably won’t get to chose the time and day when you’ll need your gun the most.

First Learn Our Language, Then We Can Have a Conversation


Once again, Democrats are calling for a “conversation” about guns in America. But when a state-enforced ban and confiscation of semi-automatic firearms is one of their talking points, it’s hard to believe a “conversation” is what they really want. Would we be having a “conversation” about the First Amendment if they were proposing to ban whole categories of news outlets or implement background checks for journalists? I would doubt the sincerity of anyone suggesting such things, and I doubt the sincerity of anyone proposing universal background checks for gun owners, too.

The anti-gunners believe that if they talk enough at gun owners, we’ll see the light (their light), trust in their good intentions, and turn in our guns. The problem is that they have no clue how you actually talk about guns, as California State Senator Kevin de Leon (D) will now demonstrate:

What You Need to Know Before Your Concealed Carry Class


Shooter practices tactical shooting in an Idaho Falls, ID gun range, Nov. 18, 2014. (B Brown / Shutterstock.com)

If you’re one of the thousands of people who have decided to take your self-protection seriously and apply for a concealed carry permit, congratulations, you’re in good company. The ranks of people who have decided to stop being a victim and become their own first responder are growing every day, and carrying a concealed weapon is an empowering act that signifies you are adult enough to take charge of your personal safety and the safety of your loved ones.

Inside, Outside, Upside Down: Choosing a Holster for Concealed Carry


Purchasing a defensive firearm is not a (pardon the pun) one-shot deal. You’re making the most adult decision you’ve ever made in your life, namely, taking personal responsibility for the safety of your loved ones. As Marty McFly might say, “that’s heavy.”

A firearm is not a talisman of self-protection: You don’t buy one and then leave it in a place of veneration in your home so it will somehow provide an umbrella of protection to all who dwell within. A pistol has to be readily accessible in order to be effective, and that means having it near you both when you’re inside and outside your home.