Home Defense Firearms

A lot of email inquiries come in about choice of firearms for home defense. There are a lot of choices out there and a lot of things to consider. If I am to respond honestly, I will tell you that anytime anyone answers this question, they are merely giving their opinion. My answer here is only my opinion as well, so take it for what it is.

The answer is – whatever you are comfortable with.

If I try to give a blanket answer, it would be out of thinking my views are all that matters. An example. My Wife is a tiny person. If I left her with the only option of using my rifle (a Marlin 1895 lever-action 45-70 Govt), using the idea that anything you shoot with it is likely to just fall down and die, but ignoring her tiny stature, she would get knocked down the moment she pulls the trigger…not good.

So, the gun you will defend yourself with has to be, in my opinion, the one you shoot the best.

I love the idea of a shotgun for home defense, but they are not right for everyone. I have a love of the old Coach Guns, the double barrel side-by-side shotguns. If I ever find the right one, I guarantee it will be the external hammers version. With the internal hammers, if you keep it loaded, it is cocked. At least with the external hammers, you have that added safety.

AR-15 style rifles need to be considered as well. They don’t have the recoil issue, and with the right magazine, you would be able to handle the situation if you find your home invaded by a group, provided you don’t live in a State that doesn’t trust you with high capacity. If you like the AR style, they should be on your list to be considered for home defense.

If you want to consider a handgun instead of a long-gun, you will still need to go through the debate of stopping power vs. capacity. And which you are a better shot with. Personally, I love my S&W 686 SSR 357 magnum revolver. Stopping power it has, high capacity, not so much. And there is also the issue of over-penetration. The 357 will punch right through sheetrock and barely notice. I have a 9mm semi-auto (Walther Creed), lower stopping power but it holds 16 plus one in the chamber. And the deal is sealed by the fact that I am a much better shot with the Walther. So, in the interest of safety, I would grab the semi-auto if the need arises. I hope it never does.

And a final word on stopping power, you are not going to war. A person who has made the series of bad choices that it takes to reach a point of home invasion is certainly not a military-grade superman. I assure you, a single shot from a 9mm is enough to make most people stop doing whatever it was that made you shoot them in the first place.

So, there is my opinion. I know this does not narrow down the choices much, but go into a gun purchase with these ideas, as well as knowing that many gun ranges offer gun rentals, where you can try out a gun and see if it works for you. And if you are brand new to guns, most of them offer gun safety training as well as firearms training.

Ask questions, study, train, and go with your personal preference.

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Caricatures of Characters

A while back I wrote a few posts on people assuming digital identities and from the safety of home, acting out in ways which were totally unlike their actual self. Lately, I have been concerned with another issue. This has to do with the way in which people are approaching real life, actual reality as if they were playing a part in a play or a movie.

In truth, I see this more as an issue on University campuses and at political rallies than anything I see happening in regular day-to-day life. And I have to admit, I only allow the relatively sane people to stay in my life in any meaningful way. If any of my extended Family were to start acting in the way we will be looking at here, I would give them one warning to knock it off, or they would have to go away.

There are people who are play-acting their entire life. They choose an ism and run with it. They are not trying to make the world better, they are trying to get attention through posturing their way through each day as a caricature of a character. Not really believing what they profess, they instead act the way they think a person would act if they truly believed these things. This is the only explanation I can come up with for the truly bizarre behavior of our society. These behaviors are not doing any good and they jeopardize your own safety.

Healthy well-adjusted people don’t show up at businesses with protest signs over non-issues, or drive cars into crowds of people over politics, or smash windows and burn cars over an election outcome, or become suddenly upset over statues that have been in the same  spot for a hundred years, or advocate genocide, or build entire worldviews around conspiracy theories.

The entire concept of finding your identity through a social cause is strange to me. I have no issue with believing in things and wanting a better world. I want a better world too. But keeping things in perspective allows me to stay sane. There are things that are under my control, things that I can influence, and things that are beyond my control. This understanding lets me not act like a lunatic every time that I don’t get my way.

Having priorities helps too. I have a Family that I need to provide for, so that means I have to fulfill my work obligations first. Maybe I really think it is wrong that the bakery across the street specializes in a custard made with real platypus eggs and platypus milk, and while I am extremely curious as to how that custard would taste, I think it is just wrong. And I feel obligated to protest that store and drive him out of business, but I have to go to work.

My job is how I feed my Family. In all honesty, I find my identity, my self-actualization, who I really am, in my Family. I don’t need a cause. And I think that if these full-time protesters were ever to reassess their priorities, they might find a life that is pretty awesome. I can promise that if they never take a good look at their priorities, they will have a lot of regrets in their later years.

It is really important to allow yourself to be happy. And it is wonderful to know when you are happy. There are enough people in the world looking for something to be mad about. Such people will never find joy in life until they get past that mindset. A good starting point is to be nice to people. This will make those around you happier, and you will find yourself becoming happy as well.

Life is short, and the ride gets rocky often enough without adding to the problems everyone has to face. Anytime that the option is available, be nice.

 

On Bullying

There have been several highly publicized news stories on people who were bullied and ended up committing suicide, even one that I read was only 10 years old. There was also a viral video online of a parent interviewing her crying son on the subject of his experiences of being bullied. I am going to look at the topic here today, and I hope this helps in some small way if any of you are or know someone who is going through bullying.

Although it might be hard to imagine when looking at a six-and-a-half foot tall, 255 lbs. 6th Degree Black Belt, but I was bullied in my youth. In middle school, it started, and in high school, it only grew worse.

In retrospect, I think the hardest part about the experience was the feeling of isolation. I had friends, but for the most part, none of them lifted a finger to stop what was happening. No one got involved to help me. This does have long-term consequences for the bullied. To this day I only count a very few people as true friends. In general, there are trust issues that a person who was bullied will carry with them. It comes with the territory.

My story changed when I reached a point of being strong enough to fight back. I trained, grew strong and confident, and I solved my issue on my own and was immune to bullies from that point on.

And I never looked back.

Kids today, they don’t have that as an option. When we, as a society, label all violence as wrong, we hinder the ability of the bullied to stand up for themselves. And then we end up where we are now – wringing our hands over what shall we do about the problem of bullying? 

It sounds good to say violence is never the answer. I understand that. I understand the knee-jerk reaction that we should teach our kids to never be violent. I get it. And I will grant that living in a world completely free of all violence would be awesome! But that isn’t the world we live in. It will not be the world we live in anytime soon. There are a lot of bad people in this world, people who would kill you for your shoes, or over words, or over political differences. Hell, I’ve had death threats and I’m a lovable little nobody! There are crazy insane people out there. Thankfully they are outnumbered by those who would never hurt you, but this does not change the base fact that you need to be prepared and able to use violence to stop the bad people when the occasion arises.

Currently, the option of fighting back has been taken off of the table for our youth. What is left is the harder road of understanding that bullying ends. The bully will eventually get bored and find someone else to bully. Sadly, this does not end the actual bullying, it merely changes the victim. But under our current societal structure, this is how things work. The bullied person would do well to find a group to be a part of. Martial arts classes are great, but so is the wrestling team, or even a chess club. Find a group of friends who have a shared interest with you. Spend time with people who understand you and you can build trust with. Report the bully over and over to anyone with authority. Even when you do not like the system you are working in, you still need to follow the rules. There are ways to make the bully leave you alone. Keep working until something is done. It isn’t easy, but you can do it. Know that you are not the only one to experience it. And don’t opt for a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

In closing, if you know someone who is being bullied, please take the step of notifying someone. Many times, the act of asking for help is not within the field of view for the person being bullied. They see only the constant attack and cannot see the way to make the attacker stop. If you are a friend, be a friend. Help someone.

NICS: Flaws and Solutions

Due in large part to the way in which people are assuming roles as if they are in a movie, my correspondence after shooting events such as Sutherland Springs, Texas tend to be one extreme or the other. On the one hand, I hear from people who say, how does it feel to advocate ownership of firearms and know that what happened could have been prevented if not for people like you. And on the other side of the debate, I hear that we need to keep up the fight because they are going to disarm us all. We need to push back until we have unrestricted access to military grade weapons to be able to outgun the crazy mass shooters.

Both sides of the gun debate are engaging in false dichotomies. The fact that the murderer in Sutherland Springs was stopped by an equally armed good guy proves that the good guy with a gun does, in fact, stop the bad guy with a gun. It proves that armed citizens can be of great community service, especially in times such as we currently live in. There is no blood on the hands of those who believe in private gun ownership, so stop emailing me such BS. An idiot who has no business being free, much less owning guns, who decides to murder people, in no way reflects a society too irresponsible to own guns.

And then there are those who claim that not only can we not allow ourselves to be disarmed (which I agree with), we need fewer restrictions on what we can own. When these people start to harp on not being allowed to own military grade weapons they lose me. I don’t believe there is a Constitutional right to keep and bear ICBM’s. I’m quite alright with preventing private citizens from owning nukes. For the most part, I believe that, if they were fully enforced, our current gun laws would be quite sufficient in preventing many tragedies, while admitting that not all tragedies can be prevented. That is one major fact that is ignored too often – nothing can be done to prevent every possible tragedy. There will always be bad people who do bad things.

Still speaking of Sutherland Springs, had everyone along the way done their part, this loser would never have been able to purchase a gun legally. He fell through some flaw in the NICS system.

So, how would we go about fixing that flaw?

I am actually of a mind that we could fix it with two simple steps. One, scrap the NICS system entirely. And two, if people cannot be trusted to live with all of our Constitutional rights in society, keep them locked up.

If we keep the status quo, which every politician wants to do because that is how they always have an issue with which to push you to vote for them at reelection time, nothing will change. Mass shootings will still happen. Since it is deeply flawed and fails to prevent guns from getting into the hands of mass shooters, the NICS  can be set aside. But if we are going to have no NICS, what do we do to keep guns out of the hands of people who cannot be trusted with them?

Simple, if you really cannot trust them to not kill people, don’t let them walk among us in society. Eliminating gun ownership will never eliminate murder. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the Nation, and they have had over 600 murders this year. I’m going to make a wild assumption that those murders were not committed by people who passed the NICS.

It is similar to what I teach in my self-defense courses. Most people in the world would never even think to hurt you intentionally. Set aside all of the cute ways in which we divide ourselves into little in-groups, the majority of people out there don’t want to hurt anyone. Most people could be handed a fully loaded firearm and have no impulse whatsoever to point and shoot at another human being. Access to firearms is not what sets any of you apart from the Sutherland Springs murderer, or the Las Vegas Murderer, or any other mass murderer. What sets you apart is being a decent human being who respects other human beings regardless of personal political, racial, or religious differences.

It is the bad people we need to address, not the tools. Bad people will find a way to do what they want. Looking at them for what they are will lead to better answers.

A special thanks to those of you who reached out and were checking on me and my Family. It will not be forgotten.

Be nice to each other.

Common Sense Gun Laws

I had a family emergency which resulted in my extended absence from this blog. I have not been ignoring the questions and emails which have come in, I was just not in any shape to do anything. While things have settled, this is a situation that cannot be cured, only endured. Those who know me personally know what happened, those who do not will, I am sure, bear with me as I try to get everything going again.

There was a horrific mass shooting in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. At the last count I have as of this writing, 26 people were murdered and another 20 were injured. The victims ranged in age from unborn to 77 years old. As might be expected in a small town, nine of the victims were from the same family. As the gunman exited the Church, he was met with fire from one of the citizens of Sutherland Springs, Stephen Wileford. Wileford shot the murderer twice, causing him to drop his rifle. The attacker then tried to escape in his vehicle. Wileford flagged down a passing motorist, Johnnie Langendorff, informed him of what had happened, and the two pursued the killer. The killer ended up as mass shooters do when confronted by opposing force – he shot himself in the head.

Without leaving any time for the families to mourn their dead, politicians and media began calls for gun control and even gun confiscation. The term common sense began to get more use, as happens after these tragedies.

But, under existing gun law, the murderer should not have been allowed to buy the guns at all. Everything that serves to prevent a person from buying a gun, this killer had. Dishonorable discharge from the military, spousal abuse, child abuse, mental health issues, and on and on. No one, from your most blue liberal to the reddest conservative would want someone like this guy to be able to purchase firearms.

Here is a fact that is ignored; the bad guy attacked with an AR-15 style weapon, and was stopped by a good guy with an AR-15 style firearm. Having an AR type weapon put the good guy on equal footing with the bad guy, and bad guys hate that. When confronted by an equal force, the bad guys tend to get very suicidal. This was a case of the bad guy with a gun being stopped by a good guy with a gun, writ large. Proof positive that there are gun owners who do not want to hurt anyone, but will definitely take out the bad guy when and if the time comes.

While politicians wring their hands and say we must do something the simple facts are screaming an answer. If we enforce existing laws, and if we start to look seriously at the mental health factor in these crimes, we can start to make progress. While personal responsibility seems to be an almost quaint idea from a bygone era, we need to be honest enough to admit that the individuals who kill are the ones who should be blamed, and not our society, or the tools which the sickos use.

I am at a point right now where I am having a very hard time pretending that trivialities are important. So please take this as it is, coming from my heart. Be nice to one another, look out for each other, hug those you love, tell them that you love them even if you think they grow tired of hearing it, be there when they need you, live as an example to the world, dampen your angry talk, ignore hateful people, don’t escalate violent talk, be quick to forgive, and if the bad guy shows up to harm the innocents in any way, do what needs to be done. Do the right thing, even when there are easier and safer choices. You will never regret doing the right thing.

Vegas: Conspiracies, Doubts, and Lies

After a good number of questions coming in following my thoughts on the attack in Las Vegas with an up-front lean toward accepting one or another of the many conspiracy “theories”, I have opted to put some thoughts together on this, and hopefully in some small way get people focused back on the truth instead of the fantasy.

In our culture of instant gratification, it is expected, I suppose, that people might want answers to certain questions sooner than such answers can be had. Idle minds are apt to create a story where no such story exists.

Adding to the problem is the social media fame-seeking issue. People who want desperately to be seen as relevant take any path they see as controversial in order to increase likes and follows.

Lives were lost. That is a reality that we must not forget. Using tragedies for increasing your own fame is sub-human behavior.

By far, the most frequently repeated conspiracy theory involves the idea that there was more than one shooter. They are basing this on the known fact of more than twenty guns in the hotel room, and adjustments to the timeline of the event as reported by Law Enforcement.

All conspiracy theories have to use facts which will then be interpreted in favor of the theory. They ignore that they are looking to support a foregone conclusion. The problem is that this is no way to find the truth.

So, let’s begin with the multiple gun issue.

Why would one man have so many guns in the room? There had to have been more than one shooter with that many weapons there? Right?!?!?!

Wrong.

Any semi-automatic weapon is engineered from the start to be a semi-automatic weapon. Ask anyone who knows anything at all about bump-fire stocks and they will tell you that it absolutely causes a drastic increase in the number of malfunctions you will have. Some of these malfunctions can be cleared easily, some leave the weapon inoperable. The killer obviously knew this, hence the many weapons. He intended to kill a lot of people, and knew he would not have a lot of time to clear a jammed rifle or fix a malfunction, so he opted for swapping out a jammed rifle for a different one.

See! There is a perfectly logical explanation available that does not resort to the conspiracy justifications.

But, but, but…why does the official timeline of the event keep changing?

There are two factors at play here, and in all honesty, I do not know which one is having the bigger influence on the slow information and the changing timeline. So, I will just give you these two things to think about: lawsuits and pressure.

It should not need to be pointed out, but everyone is going to get sued. The hotel, the city, the concert promoter – anyone with any connection to the area on the night of October 1st is going to be sued. This fact will slow the information coming from the hotel and any other potentially sued party to Law Enforcement.

Law Enforcement is under pressure from the media and the public to start giving answers. They are still going through the investigation process, but people feel they have a right to know now. Even before Law Enforcement has the answers.

I would advise anyone who will listen, please calm down. It is better for the investigation to end up with the right answer than it is for them to give you what you want to hear. I have watched every video I can find that was taken while the shooting was happening and I can find nothing to make me think that more than one gun was being fired at the same time. I have even watched the video and listened to the audio from people who think there was audio proof. It simply isn’t there. My number of subscribers and the number of shares would increase incredibly if I were willing to promote some of the conspiracy theories floating around, especially if I were to make one of my own so I could be the “journalist” who “breaks the story”, but I am not like that. Calm down, drink a chamomile tea, and wait while the professionals do their job.

Be nice to each other, things are rough out there right now.                                    

Left-Handed Shooting in a Right-Handed World

There are many guns on the market that have certain ambidextrous features. There are some that have interchangeable options for the left-handed shooter. And there are some designed specifically for lefties. Those guns designed for the left-handed were far and away out of my price range. Nothing that appealed to me had the left-handed options.

In terms of handguns, I have a revolver which had no options other than to learn to use it as-is, and a semi-auto which had some options to reverse to make it easier for me. I did research how to change out the magazine release on the Walther Creed. But in the end, I opted to leave it the way it came.

Every new shooter has ideas of certain tactical practice. Although I might have been the oldest new shooter, I was not immune to the thoughts of the tactical.  Being left-handed, purchasing the Smith and Wesson 686 allowed me to dive into the world of adapting to a gun designed for a right-handed person.

At first, I tried to release the cylinder by pressing the latch with my left thumb.20171014_162737   This posed several problems. Not the least of which was the instability of the weapon in my hand. I was able to release the cylinder, but there was, especially later into the range time, the problem of a very hot cylinder rolling out onto my index finger. I tried several different hand positions for using this technique, but none of them did anything to decrease the time it took for me to eject the spent shells and reload.

So, I gave up on making the revolver work the way a lefty might want it to work, and instead put my focus on making myself adapt to what I needed to do to properly and efficiently use the firearm. Now I use the following technique:

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I carefully switch hands. I shift the gun into my right hand, use my right thumb to press the latch, swing out the cylinder, tip the gun up and press the ejection rod to drop the spent brass.

Is it as fast as a righty might perform a reload? Certainly not. But I can say that I am not terribly slow at this either. And after so much practice, this method requires no thought.

Good safety practices must still prevail. But with time and practice, a left-handed person can use the standard reloading practices with the only modification being the passing of the gun from one hand to the other.

The semi-auto was another story. It gave me the very tempting option of changing the magazine release to allow me to press it with my left thumb.

I chose not to make the change, after a lot of thought both ways on the idea. In the end, I suppose prompted partially by my adapting to the revolver, that I would just adapt to the way the Creed was built. There were two ideas that really sealed the deal for me in the end. In speaking with a Police Officer friend of mine, two very important considerations came up. One, I am the only lefty in my house. And two, why would I train myself into a position of rendering my training useless in the event things go to hell and I need to pick up someone else’s gun to defend myself and/or others?

So, my Walther is still designed for a right-handed person. I simply made these additions to my reload or malfunction clearing:

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The first step I use is to press the magazine release with my index finger. This was a simple adjustment and in a short amount of time, anyone could turn this into a habit.

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Next, turn the ejection port down. In the event of a jam, you want to avoid any hand positioning that might press a misfired or improperly ejected shell into the gun’s interior. Having the ejection port facing down allows gravity to be your friend.

From here it is a simple matter of placing a new magazine into the gun, rack the slide, and you are back in business.

This may not be official or common practice, but it is what I do and it works for me. I prefer the thought that if I fall, my Wife would be able to pick up the gun and use it normally and without her trying to make adjustments she had not trained for. Anyway, those are my thoughts.