No! No! 1000 times No!

A man was shot at after he said he flipped off another driver on the highway in Travis County, deputies say. Meanwhile, that suspect driver told them he believed he was allowed to fire a “warning shot.”

Read the whole thing. (h/t KR Training)

Everything is wrong here.

Driver 1 gets cut off in traffic, so he gets pissed and flips off Driver 2.

Driver 2 gets pissed off and pursues Driver 1.

Driver 2 pulls out a gun and shoots at Driver 1.

Driver 2 gets followed by police. Police observe an occupant of Driver 2’s car throw marijuana out the window.

Driver 2 gets pulled over. Admits to what he did.

“Ernesto [Molinary-Garcia] stated that he did so because he was under the belief that he was allowed, as a Licensed Handgun Carrier, to shoot a ‘warning shot,’” the affidavit stated. “Ernesto claimed that [the victim] was purposefully merging into his lane while on the on-ramp after the near-collision incident.”

WTF? There is no where in Texas statute that permits this (reference: LTC-16, the official document published by the Texas Department of Public Safety that contains the relevant portions of statute for license holders). And if his LTC Instructor taught him this, that instructor needs to have their credentials pulled immediately. However, I suspect he wasn’t taught this and is either bullshitting or a dumbass; maybe both.

Everything in here is wrong. Both parties made poor choices. Both parties are paying the price for their poor choices.

Learn from this: do NOT do what either party did.

Exercise is self-defense

I’ve said it before, and Dr. Sherman House said it again:

My point is, it does you or anyone else in your charge little good if you’re a real-life Paul Kersey, but you stroke out after the fight in the immediate aftermath.

I’ve phrased it differently when I said it, but it was Sherm’s phrasing here that spurred me to write.

Aftermath.

About 3 years ago I was involved in a self-defense incident. I’m happy to have been in good physical shape, as I believe it made a difference in not only managing the incident itself, but the aftermath.

I lost 6 pounds of bodyweight that day.

The stress on the entire body, the heart, the lungs, etc.. It’s tremendous, and sudden. Look at yourself right now: do you think your body and internal systems can handle the volume suddenly being turned up to 11?

Being in good physical shape helps with keeping calm, with just enabling the body to function under greater stress, because it’s already used to “greater stress”.

And let’s step back from “self-defense” and just consider something.

You chose to carry a gun to protect and preserve your life, right? Your life is that valuable, that precious to protect – to keep yourself alive.

So, why not do something that will have far greater impact upon your ability to live? Clean up your diet. Get some exercise. Stop smoking. Lose weight. Try to get your body healthy so you can get off meds/drugs.

That’s a far more impactful and daily-impactful defense of your body, your self.

Discussing Minimum Competency Drills

Karl Rehn is guest hosting the Handgun World Podcast, and in Episode 443, he and I discuss a topic near to our hearts: Minimum Competency, and drills for them. You can listen to the episode here, or anywhere you can get podcasts (like iTunes).

Karl came up with a list of 10 drills, arranged by scale. I added a couple more. It’s a good corpus of drills you can use to assess your level of defensive handgun competency, as well as use to maintain and improve skill level.

If you don’t have time to listen to the episode, you can read Karl’s write-up where he lists the 10+2 drills.

On my phone, I keep a PDF of drills that I like to run. Doesn’t mean I’m a master at all the drills, just they are ones I consider to be important to my skill and practice. In there I have drills like the 5×5, 3 Seconds or Less, 3M Test, various Rangemaster tests (Instructor, Core Skills, Bullseye), FBI qual, BAFTE qual, The Test, Super Test, Walk-Back, Gunsite 250 & 350. I also keep some in there for metrics and reference, like Gabe White’s Standards, MAG-40/LFI, and the TX LTC test.

Start making your own collection. Strive to put in a good variety that covers the depth and breadth of skills relevant to your context. Put in ones that push you, that expose your flaws and weaknesses, and that can be used over time to help you measure progress.

Monsters exist

Hayes and Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted 11-year-old Michaela. The pathologist who conducted the autopsies testified that both suspects’ DNA was found in semen recovered from Michaela’s rectum. Komisarjevsky, who had photographed the sexual assault of the little girl on his cell phone, then provoked Hayes into raping the mother, Jennifer. Hayes raped her on the living room floor. Hayes then strangled Jennifer with a piece of rope, then doused her lifeless body and parts of the house, including the daughters’ rooms, with gasoline. While tied to their beds, both daughters had been doused with gasoline; each had her head covered with a pillowcase. A fire was started, and Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the scene. Hayley and Michaela both died of smoke inhalation, but only after suffering extensive 2nd and 3rd degree burns on their feet and legs as they lay bound to burning beds.

What’s worse?

The police remained outside the Petit home for more than half an hour, taking these preliminary measures, while the assailants were raping and murdering the women inside the house. The police made no effort to make the assailants aware of their presence, choosing to remain out of sight in an extended perimeter around the home.

You can read the full article in the December 2017 Rangemaster newsletter.

Yes, it’s heinous.

Yes, it makes any human with a shred of decency shudder – but you need to read it –especially for the 6 lessons Tom provides.

You need to understand there are malevolent people who exist on this Earth.

You are more than welcome to hate guns, to wish them gone. You can think violence is a terrible thing and “never the answer”.

But it won’t make evil people disappear.

It won’t stop evil people from inflicting their will upon you.

Ignorance and denial doesn’t make evil things go away.

Monsters exist.

The Civilian Defender

Dr. Sherman House recently rebranded as Civilian Defender. (yes I’m a little late on this… been busy).

I’m very happy to see him embracing this mode, because it’s a great mindset and we need more people not just like Sherm, but doing what Sherm does. Promoting this mentality, this approach, it’s great stuff. If you haven’t read his essay on Becoming the Civilian Defender, you should. It’s a comprehensive look at a topic, and even if you don’t agree – well, that’s a great opportunity to continue the discussion! Because I guess the bottom line is simple: most people enter this “world” because guns, but alas most people never go beyond that thinking.

I think about some Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics points out. He’ll ask his class how many people had been in a gunfight or seen a gunshot wound in the past year – typically no hands go up. Then he asks how many people had seen a car accident – and hands always go up. Medical skills are useful to everyone, and you’re far more likely to need medical skills in your lifetime than a gun.

And that’s a facet in the comprehensiveness of Civilian Defender.

Check it out. Again, even if you don’t agree, hopefully some thoughts are provoked and you can be spurred into action, into self-improvement in some manner.

We’re approaching that time for New Years Resolutions – so, how are you going to improve yourself in 2018?

(And as an aside, I’m with Sherm about the M&P family. Currently enjoying my M&P9 M2.0 Compact… which I’ll write more about eventually).

As instructors, we have a grave responsibility

I used to ride a motorcycle.

If I’m honest with myself – and I haven’t admitted this publicly until now – part of the reason I gave it up was I wasn’t a good enough rider. I wasn’t capable enough to handle the realities of riding a motorcycle, especially in town. While the fault is ultimately my own, speaking as a long-time teacher – and one that currently teaches people in dangerous activities – I can recognize and lay some fault at the hands of my riding instructors.

On the roads in Austin, there are just too many people engaging in distracted driving – like with their eyes on their mobile phone instead of the road. I had far too many close-calls with people simply not paying attention to their driving (almost rear-ended by a dump truck was particularly harrowing). That’s scary enough when you have a protective steel cage around you (like in a car), but it’s far worse when you’re naked and vulnerable on a bike. I just got tired of dealing with the constant fear and realities of too many close-calls.

Part of the fault was my own, because I didn’t have the skills and abilities I should have to successfully/defensively ride a motorcycle in town. I was too excited to get out on the open road on my awesome motorcycle, be a part of that lifestyle, and all the cool things that came with it. I was not prepared for the realities that came as well.

Let’s look back on my motorcycle rider safety course.

I did OK in the class. But the final test? I passed it on a technicality. The riding portion involved navigating a skills course. You lost points for mistakes, bigger mistakes losing more points. For example, if you laid the bike down – foot pegs touch pavement – you basically failed. I don’t recall the specifics of my run and points, but I was executing a tight S-turn, didn’t do it right, and started to go down. Since the bike was a Kawasaki Eliminator 125 (weighs 300 lb.) and I’m decently healthy and strong, I was able to easily save myself: I put my foot down and was able to keep the pegs from touching pavement.

I looked right at the instructor running the course. She said I was good and let me continue.

She shouldn’t have.

For all intents and purposes, I laid the bike down. I failed the skill. But because I’m strong and the bike weighs nothing, I was able to prevent the loss of points. Correct to the letter of the test, but NOT to the intent.

But I didn’t care. I passed! I could get my motorcycle license, get my motor runnin’, head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes my way!

The instructors said nothing to me. Beyond that look of “you’re fine, continue along”, then the handshake on the way out the door, nothing.

At the time, I didn’t know any better. I leaned on and expected if the instructors thought I was OK, then I was OK.

That was my naive mistake.

Because as I got out on the road, while I had no problem with most things, I just didn’t have the level of skill necessary for emergency action. I didn’t have the ability to do things like make tight turns, nor the confidence in knowing I could do such things if suddenly called upon. I look back and wish I had failed the test – or been failed – so I would have put more work into those skills, or at least not been let out on the road due to a technicality.

As I look back on my experience, I now think to myself that I don’t recall the instructors from the class actually caring whether we learned or not. Maybe they did, but I don’t recall any impression they truly cared. That they understood the gravity of what they were doing, and how what they were teaching may be that vital bit that could affect the rest of someone’s life. They seemed to just want to run the class, sign the certificates, and get paid.

Or maybe they did care, but after hundreds of classes they were jaded and/or complacent. Or maybe they thought failing people wasn’t good for business. I really don’t know why they did what they did. All I can do is learn from this and strive to do better in my own realm.

I know ultimately the responsiblity and fault is my own. But when you’re a n00b; when you don’t know what you don’t know; when you have to rely and trust the guidance of someone claiming to be your teacher – you hope they have your best interests at heart and will do right by you!

I’ve been a professional firearms instructor for 9 years. At KR Training we have classes that end in a test and require a passing grade in order to proceed to the next class. Sometimes the students squeak by, technically passing the test. But I and the entire KR Training cadre take the time to be straight with the student about their skills and abilities. We point out where they need work. We strive to put their skills and testing into perspective – even if it’s not fun to hear. Yes we want people to succeed, but helping a student feel good and get a gold star when their skills really aren’t where they need to be? That’s doing a grave disservice to the student. This is a time for honest assessment. We want true success, real success – even if today it means failure.

As instructors – especially instructors of skill that affect life and death – we all must remember the gravity of what we are teaching. Even if a student technically passes the test, we must speak with them honestly and work with them earnestly to help them have a true assessment of their skills, even if it injures the ego. Because if we do not give our students correct assessment of their skills and abilities, that could lead to them getting hurt or killed.

As instructors we have a deep responsibility, and we need to always remember that responsibility and live up to it.

When your past affects your future

Dude, that’s not just a funny bumper sticker about your weekend hobby. It’s also discoverable evidence about your mindset should you ever have to defend yourself.

Kathy Jackson, Facebook post.

Recently Kathy reposted it, and I privately messaged her about it. I went private because I didn’t feel like bringing it up in public. Kathy responded:

There are some excellent points in that, John. Wish it weren’t sensitive, because it’s the type of thing that needs to be said. Lots there to ponder. Thanks for sharing it with me.

So I thought about it, and I’m sharing it here. It is important and meaningful, just a little awkward for me to globally share. But that’s OK – if my experiences and my awkwardness improves things for the grander community. I’ve edited it slightly, for composition and presentation.

The Message

That post you just shared about the cute t-shirt, anger issues, discoverable evidence…

So back when my home invasion incident happened, my lawyer wanted my online presence to go dark (a reasonable thing). So blog went private, Twitter, etc..

As I looked back on it, I realized it wouldn’t really have mattered. First, the media already combed the Internets for everything they could – it was interesting to watch the things uncovered and reported about me in the hours immediately after the incident. So they had likely already exhausted my blog.

But that’s the thing – there was no dirt to be found. My blog isn’t full of stupid shit – well, except maybe for the Sunday Metal music posts. 😉 You read my blog and find that I like music, lifting weights, and when I do write about self-defense and guns and such, it may not be something you agree with but it’s not “crazy”. In fact, a lot of what I write is reasonable enough I felt it would help my case if in fact it did go to trial. It would be (then) 7-ish years of proof as to my mindset and stance on everything.

So yeah, it’s a good lesson in living your daily life. Because you don’t get to choose the moment your past becomes relevant to your future.

Understanding Lethality

…the intention of a person to do lethal harm to another may be key to understanding different outcomes, rather than the mechanism used (at least when comparing different types of firearms…)

For additional context, read his prior post: “Revolvers Kill! (May Be Even More Lethal Than Semi-Automatic Handguns)”.

Because people apparently love science and data, so here’s some.

Why not both?

Greg Ellifritz posted this meme to Facebook:

As expected, comments and sharing ensued.

Via another avenue, I learned about a share of Greg’s posting with sharer commentary. The sharer’s commentary said this was bullshit, that you don’t need to have physical fitness, beards, tattoos – you just need a determined mindset (and even better if it’s determination backed up by a gun). Of course the commenting on that went off the rails too.

While pictorial memes can be fun(ny) and useful, their problem is they cannot convey depth. They’re the modern equivalent of a sound bite. Remember what George Carlin said about that:

And so, on television news there is, oddly, very little emphasis on the present; on today’s actual news. The present exists only in thirty-second stories built around eight-second sound bites. Remember, “sound bite” is their phrase. that’s what they give you. Just a bite. No chewing, no digestion, no nourishment. Malnutrition.

Because here’s the thing: there’s a kernel of truth in what both people are saying. Reality is more nuanced than a meme or a share-rant can provide.

Let’s start with the original meme. The premise is to help in the decision to take tactical training. The creator/poster of the meme believes there are prerequisites to tactical training, such as having a reasonable level of physical fitness, and that maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve gotten punched in the face. On the points, the author isn’t necessarily wrong.

So you want tactical training, so you carry a gun – why? Ostensibly because you want to save lives, to preserve life, etc.. If such is the case, then physical fitness will do more for you. The reality is violent crime and other situations whose answer is “using a gun” are few and far between – they are rare events. Death from heart attacks? obesity, and obesity-related matters? Quite common. You are more likely to die because of that extra 100 lb. you’re hauling around than from a violent crime. So you better believe that physical fitness will do more for your life in general. If you care about protecting life so much, start with your own personal health.

I see it in classes all the time. People who cannot keep up with even a small bit of physical exertion. I mean, our classes at KR Training may not all be the most physically demanding, but there is a lot of walking that goes on. You will be on your feet all day. You will be in the hot Texas sun all day. It WILL take a physical toll on you. And if you bomb out of the day for those reasons, then it was a lot of your time and money wasted. That $400 for a weekend class may be better spent on an annual gym membership.

But do you need to be able to run a marathon? Do you need to be able to squat 600 lb? Do you need to have 5% bodyfat? in order to take a training class? Probably not, tho that would vary depending upon the class (an Intro to Marksmanship class vs. a Shivworks ECQC do have rather different requirements). So to need to be “physically fit” is certainly relative. As well, should we deny a frail elderly person, or someone with physical handicaps/limitations (including simply being obese) from being able to receive training in self-defense? Nope. But of course, there may be limitations in terms of the training one can receive.

So the original meme has a kernel of truth, but reality isn’t as plain as the meme tries to make it. The sharer’s calling of “bullshit” on the meme has some ground.

And on the sharer’s side they speak of the importance of a determined mindset. There’s no question that is important. We hear the countless stories of people receiving superficial (and totally survivable) wounds and falling over dead because they gave up. Then other people who are put through literal hell, but are so determined to fight and win they do and live to regale us with their battle stories. Determined mindset cannot be discounted, and we all work to teach and imbue that in our students.

What’s interesting is the sharer gave examples like “what do they teach in Army Basic Training”, and allusions to military groups of yore. That those groups are just all about determined mindset. But you know what all those groups received?

Tactical Training.

And you know what’s part of that training? Physical fitness. By pleasant coincidence John M. Buol, Jr. just posted the 2018 Army Combat Readiness Test. How do YOU score on that test? If the US Army thinks physical fitness is an important part of combat readiness – that’s what we call a clue, that physical fitness is an important component and possible prerequisite.

So maybe the original meme has some ground too.

I know we now live in a world of absolutes. Where what I say and believe is right, and what you say and believe is wrong. Where Truth only exists in meme or Tweet-able form, and anything “tl;dr” (like this article) is… well… too long and no one’s going to read it. But no matter how you believe reality to be – reality is what it is, regardless of your belief. And often that reality isn’t as simple nor as black-and-white as you wish to make it. Instead of trying to be right, work to seek Truth. Work to see the other’s point of view, because maybe there is a sliver of merit. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Beware Simple Answers

Beware simple answers. They are reassuring but may not achieve the desired results given our framework of government, practical realities, and the flawed nature of human beings.

I’ve been following David’s writing and research for some time. It’s compelling and interesting.