Dave Buchannon – Why I Teach Gun Safety.

 

Don’t hate me, I teach people about guns.  More specifically I teach a state certified firearms safety course to people from all walks of life who want to own firearms legally and lawfully.  And I hope you won’t be offended, but the battle to protect “our Second Amendment rights”, politics, or gun violence prevention are not part of the curriculum – nor do I write about them.  Safety and responsible gun ownership are the primary rubric for this course, which everyone must take before applying for a License to Carry (LTC).

trainingIronically, in a state with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, students can pass the required safety course, get their LTC, buy a gun and walk around with it without ever having fired a single round.  Not in my class, where you have to fire five rounds at a target and I’m less concerned about your score than I am that you get a sense of what it feels like to actually establish a solid grip and stance, point the gun correctly, and pull the trigger to make it go BANG!  The sights, sounds, and smells aren’t for everyone, and that’s just fine.  But if you’re thinking of getting a gun, you need to know it feels like to shoot one.  A small handful of students have fired the first shot and put the gun down because they didn’t like it.  They didn’t like it one bit, and that’s okay.  At least they know what it feels like.

I teach, because I enjoy sharing my interest in guns with other people, especially those who are interested but haven’t been exposed to them.  On the other hand, I’ve been interested in guns since childhood – the first book I ever borrowed from my elementary school library was “Guns of the American West.”  Imagine that, a GUN book in a school library being checked-out to a second grader!  My father hunted with an old lever-action rifle but that and a snub-nosed 38 special were the only guns in the house until I got my Daisy BB gun on my 11th Christmas.  Despite being so sick I could barely get out of bed on Christmas morning I spent the next three days launching a whole milk carton full BB’s at a makeshift target set up in our garage.

Ten years later I was on the range in the Police Academy, for forty hours of extremely intense training and scoring.  What might sound like a lot of fun was really five days of grueling  work – ah, who am I kidding… it was a blast!  A ton of serious information that emphasized responsibility, skill building, instantaneous decision-making, focus, control, and responsibility, but it was also a lot of fun.  Yes, I did write “responsibility” twice, on purpose, because the responsibility for every round fired was emphasized constantly.  I still carry those lessons with me to this day, and I teach in hopes that every student leaves the classroom with a tiny sense of that same responsibility I felt after range week.

I also teach gun safety because a close friend of mine in junior high school accidentally shot his older brother while playing with the revolver their mother kept hidden in her nightstand.  The older brother died, the younger was horribly affected and lived a life haunted by that event.

I do not teach gun safety for the money, I worry a little bit about those who do.  Building a teaching practice sufficient to replace day-job income requires creating a sense of need. You “need” this training because it’s a dangerous world where attackers are lurking behind every tree and hiding around every corner.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Statistic after statistic and study after study have proven that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than having to defend yourself with a gun against a violent crime.  Want to protect yourself from a home invasion?  Don’t become a drug dealer… simple as that.  I cannot name a single time in 30 years when I needed to defend myself against violent attack, but if you think you’ll be safer with a gun, learn everything you can about the gun, and more importantly, the law.

I teach because I really enjoy teaching, and I really enjoy guns.

Be of good cheer!

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Thomas Gabor–The Myth of the Benefits of an Armed Citizenry.

Following the slaughter of elementary school children in Newtown (CT), Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, stated: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  This statement was not only highly insensitive in removing the focus from the children and their grieving families, but was also cynical and dishonest, as LaPierre suggested that arming school staff was the only way to avoid such slaughters.  Every other advanced country has figured out a way to protect their children without turning schools into armed fortresses.

armedConsider the logic of arguing that more guns will reduce incidents of gun violence.  It is like saying that the best solution to opiate addiction is to make opiates more accessible or that our best means of tackling an influenza epidemic is to expose more people to the agent involved.

Following America’s worst church mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, much was made by gun rights advocates about the confrontation of the shooter by an armed resident as he left the church and the pursuit by truck of the shooter by the resident and another individual.  The church shooting was not stopped by the armed man but it has been claimed that the perpetrator may have harmed others had the armed citizen not intervened.  That is an unknown but the large-scale shooting (26 killed, 20 wounded) occurred before the armed resident became involved.

Previous incidents illustrate how infrequently armed private citizens intervene successfully to stop a shooting.   An FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000-2013 found that just one of these incidents was stopped by an armed civilian. By contrast, 21 incidents were resolved when unarmed individuals restrained or confronted the shooter.  Louis Klarevas, author of Rampage Nation, examined potential and actual mass shootings from 1966 to 2015 and found that just one twentieth of one percent (about one in every 2,000 cases) is successfully stopped by an armed civilian.

 

If arming civilians produced a net benefit with regard to public safety, we would expect places with more guns to have fewer crimes.  The US has about 90 civilian-owned guns per 100 people, the largest civilian arsenal on the planet.  At the same time, the US stands alone among high-income countries with a gun homicide rate that is 25 times that of the aggregated rate for other high-income countries. This pattern is repeated at the state level where states with higher levels of gun ownership tend to have more, not fewer, gun deaths.  In the five states with the highest gun death rates, half of all homes own a gun.  In the five states with the lowest gun death rates, just one in 7 homes owns a gun.

 

Each year, 90,000 US households are interviewed in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).  This survey, which does not cover homicides or suicides for obvious reasons, reveals about a half million gun crimes a year.  In addition, based on surveys of the prevalence of domestic violence, there are likely several hundred thousand gun threats each year against targeting domestic partners and other family members.  If the number is 200,000 (a conservative figure), the total number of harmful gun uses a year is in the 750,000 range.  The NCVS finds that the annual number of defensive gun uses against attackers is under 50,000.  Therefore, criminal and other harmful uses of guns likely outnumber defensive uses by a ratio of at least 15:1.

 

David Hemenway and Sara Solnick of Harvard used NCVS data to see examine the frequency and consequences of defensive gun uses in 14,000 personal contact crimes committed when the victim was present.  They found that fewer than one percent (.9%) used a gun in self-defense. They also found that using a gun for protection, as opposed to taking some other protective action, did not diminish the chances that a victim would incur an injury.

 

Genuine defensive gun uses are not just infrequent; gun carrying raises the risks of deadly mistakes and confusion during active-shooter incidents.  On July 7, 2016, an individual opened fire and killed five Dallas police officers.  The officers were on duty to provide security at a demonstration in which the killing of African-American men was being protested.  About 20-30 open-carry activists were also on the scene, carrying assault weapons and wearing fatigues and body armor.  Police Chief Brown stated that the armed individuals impeded the law enforcement response as they created confusion as to who the shooter was and whether there were multiple shooters.

 

Another side effect of an increase in gun carrying is more gun thefts from cars.  These thefts are skyrocketing—2-3.5 million firearms have been stolen in the last decade– and they are more commonplace in states in which more people carry firearms outside the home.  States in the South (e.g., Texas, Georgia, and Florida) with the most permissive gun laws are overrepresented among states with the largest number of guns stolen between 2012 and 2015.

 

Currently, 12 states do not require a permit to carry a firearm and this list has been growing.  Even in states requiring a permit, the vetting and training of permit applicants do not even approach the standards for law enforcement officers.  Since May 2007, concealed carry permit holders have killed more than 1100 people and have committed many other crimes, including 31 mass shootings and 19 police officer killings.

 

Joseph Vince is a former agent with the ATF for 27 years and is one of the leading experts on firearms and gun-related crime.  He and his associates state that for a citizen to carry a firearm, training should include mental preparation, knowledge of the law, judgment, as well as expertise and familiarity with firearms. They recommend basic initial training to receive a permit and biannual recertification to maintain the permit.  Both training and recertification should consist of decision-making during real-life scenarios, shooting accuracy in stressful situations, and firing range practice.

 

While half the states require some firearms training in relation to an application for a gun carry permit, most of the features emphasized by Vince et al. are seriously lacking in most states.  For example, Florida law does not specify the content of these courses, only the qualifications necessary for instructors.  There is no test for retention of the information covered about the law or the handling of a firearm, no test of marksmanship—a few shots are fired down the range or into a barrel—and no training with regard to judgment (when to shoot and not to shoot), no recertification, just an online renewal every 7 years.

 

Pete Blair trains law enforcement personnel to respond to active shooter situations.  Real-world scenarios prepare police officers for high-stress situations. Blair notes that one would expect people without training to “freeze up or not know what to do, and to have difficulty performing actions correctly.”  Research and police records show that even trained police officers miss their targets more often than they hit them during stressful combat situations.   Several analyses show that, in combat situations, trained officers miss the mark more than 80 % of the time.

 

Harmful and criminal uses of guns outnumber genuine defensive uses by a wide margin.  The average violent attack is over in 3 seconds.  Poor training makes it unlikely that a civilian without police or military training will use a gun successfully against an attacker and makes deadly mistakes more likely.  Poor vetting means that individuals who pose a serious risk to the public may gain access to arms through legal channels.  Yet the gun lobby and a certain segment of gun owners keeps trying to sell the fable of the armed citizen.  The evidence is clear that arming the average citizen seriously undermines public safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Poster-Girl For Concealed Carry.

     I knew it was only a matter of time until Sarah Palin would try to salvage what’s left of her tattered political career by stooping to the lowest common denominator and appealing to the concealed-carry crowd.  And when you stop top think about it, what better way to make a headline then by combining the idea of armed, self-defense with the current media frenzy about sexual harassment in the workplace, the public park and just about everywhere else?

palin     Palin shot her wad yesterday in an interview with a reporter from MSNBC following a meeting in the U.S. Capitol with Rand Paul.  God knows what those two jerks are cooking up; probably an alt-right/white national ticket for 2020 now that Trump appears to have lost whatever claims he once had to represent the populist-nationalist-racist rantings of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Roy Moore.

There’s no way that Palin’s comment, “a whole lot of people know I’m probably packing so I don’t think there’s a whole lot of people who would necessarily mess with me,” wasn’t rehearsed over the last couple of weeks. Because her PR firm knew that sooner or later the media would be so desperate to continue pushing the sexual harassment angle that they would get around to her. And notice how she repeats the phrase ‘whole lot of people’ just to make sure that: a) everyone knows how dumb she pretends to be; and, b) everyone else who is ‘packing’ can feel a real kinship with her.

This attempt to build some kind of special, personal relationship based on concealed-carry has been the stock-in-trade of every huckster and merchandiser who wants to promote some kind of product or service to the population that really believes they are protecting themselves by walking around with a gun.  It’s called ‘tribal marketing,’ and it’s based on the idea that consumers are linked together because of a shared belief about a particular brand. And in this case the brand is the ‘armed citizen,’ a phrase actually trademarked by the NRA, which has now been spun off into insurance, clothing, and of course, guns.

Take a look at Palin’s website. Prominently displayed is an ad for the Concealed Carry Association of America along with a ‘Free Guide To Choosing Your Best Concealed Carry Handgun,’ also courtesy of the CCAA.  Her website drew slightly less than 2 million visits over the last 30 days, so it’s not like her jumbled message about love, faith, God, and everything else is reaching any kind of a big crowd. All the more reason why she’s run the concealed-carry message up the media flagpole and hoping for a big response.

Here’s the real problem with using a celebrity like Palin to promote concealed-carry as a lifestyle kind of brand. You can’t carry a gun around unless you actually own a gun. And as gun sales continue to slide under Trump and the number of households containing a gun also seems to be on a steady decline, convincing more Americans that a gun may protect them may work in terms of public opinion, but it won’t help gun makers sell more guns.

WISHING EVERYONE A WONDERFUL AND SAFE HOLIDAY!

 

 

When It Comes To The Armed Citizen, One Good Scam Deserves Another.

Once upon a time there was an organization called the National Rifle Association, started out by two Civil War veteran officers who were concerned because most of the troops they commanded in the war didn’t know how to shoot. In those days the Federal Government built a national army by calling up militias from the states and these militias were comprised of volunteers who showed up with their own guns. So the idea behind the NRA was to prepare civilians for military duty before they were called up because we didn’t yet have a military draft and we didn’t stick new draftees in boot camps in order to teach them how to march, fire their weapons and other military things.

CG             Once we began maintaining a ‘standing’ army either with draftees or volunteers, the whole idea that we needed to train civilians in the proper use of firearms disappeared.  But just around the same time (post-1900) that hunters like Theodore Roosevelt and naturalists like George Grinnell realized that hunting was inextricably connected to conservation, America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ began combining safety training and marksmanship with sport and preservation of the outdoors as its primary goals.

These themes predominated in NRA messaging until the 1980s when open range started to disappear along with the hunters who took guns out to the country to engage in sport. In fact, the whole definition of ‘outdoor sports’ veered away from hunting and fishing to embrace hiking, camping, trekking and kayaking down a whitewater stream rather than sitting in a rowboat and casting a line into the pond.

If the gun industry and groups like the NRA hadn’t discovered a new reason to buy and own guns, there would be no gun industry.  And the new reason, as we know, is the idea of using guns for self-defense which previously had been nothing other than a marginal issue basically to justify the manufacture of the little teenie-weenie pocket guns like the Baby Browning or the 1908 Colt.

This is not the time or the place to discuss why some Americans have recently decided that the only thing which stands between their survival and complete annihilation is access to a gun.  Suffice it to say, however, that the armed-citizen subculture is invariably promoted by Gun-nut Nation and certain pro-gun sycophants as being much larger and more vibrant than it actually is (the lack of attendance at the recent concealed-carry expo in Milwaukee being a case in point.) Nevertheless, since concealed-carry appears to be the only issue that is keeping the industry alive, there’s no end to the new products being rolled out to meet market demand.

And one of those new product lines is the concealed-carry insurance program, Carry Guard, being sold by the NRA.  Today I just received an email from Carry Guard which gives me the opportunity to download a ‘free guide to lawful self-defense’ basically a come-on for selling me the insurance package that will ‘protect’ me in case I have to pull out the old banger and bang away.

The guide, written by ‘experts in the field,’ offers advice on such issues as: What to do with my gun after I shoot someone; how much should I talk to the police; what should I say to bystanders, etc.  In other words, the information in this guide is designed to protect me after I used my gun to protect me.

This guide is so stupid that either the NRA believes its members would score below the idiot level on an IQ test, or they really believe that people will always respond to any ‘free’ offer, or maybe both. If anyone spends one second considering any legal advice from anyone other than their personal attorney, then they deserve to get scammed. Which is exactly what this Carry Guard product is – a complete scam. But since the idea that walking around with a gun will protect you is simply not true, one good scam deserves another, right?

Want To Play A Live Video Game? Try NRA’s Carry Guard.

Fast on the heels of their floparoo NRA Carry Guard expo in Milwaukee, the boys from Fairfax are now ramping up their promotion and huckstering of the insurance and training products that are aimed (pardon the pun) at what they believe to be the ‘armed citizen’ market whose potential will somehow make up for the fact that gun sales continue to go down.

training             The latest FBI-NICS numbers confirm that it ain’t that rosy in Gun-nut Land, with handgun and long gun background checks for August down 10% from August, 2016 and dealer sales of handguns for the first eight months of this year down more than 10% from the year before.  Meanwhile, the stock price for Smith & Wesson (oops, sorry, it’s now something called American Outdoor Brands) has now dropped to $13 bucks a share, having been up to more than $28 the day that You Know Who shocked the world by finishing in first place.

On an earnings call last week, S&W President Jim Debney announced some more bad news, saying that shipments of both long guns and handguns were way down in the last quarter and that quarterly revenue was off by 40% from the same quarter last year. Our friend John Feinblatt told The Guardian that the Springfield gun maker acquired Gemtech, an outfit which produces silencers, in order to bolster overall revenues. Let me break it to both John and Jim gently: When consumers stop buying guns, they also stop buying all the accessory crap and paraphernalia which goes along with guns.

So what do you do to boost revenues when your product market is saturated? You sell services which enhance the value or the utility of the products that are already owned. And here is where the NRA seems to be leading the pack by rolling out their new brand, Carry Guard, which so far consists of insurance protection and training for folks who want to walk around carrying a gun.

The Carry Guard insurance is advertised as ‘America’s Most Complete Self-Defense Insurance Program,’ but if you believe that hype, you probably also believe that Martians keep landing at Area 51.  Recently a writer for a concealed-carry blog posted a comparison between the Carry Guard insurance and the insurance offered by the United States Concealed Carry Association, and if the comparison is accurate, I can only say that the NRA product basically offers a lot less and costs more. The Carry Guard program also gives you ‘access’ to the training program but anyone can sign up for the ‘gold standard’ training courses whether you buy the insurance or not.

And what exactly are these new training courses? Here’s what they say: “The mission of the NRA Carry Guard instructors is to provide the skills, education and training necessary for today’s changing conflict space.” Would someone please explain the phrase ‘today’s changing conflict space?’  Are they talking about all those antifa people who are going to assault you while you’re strolling down the street?

You can sign up for a three-day, live-fire course which costs $850 but you must bring 1,500 rounds of ammo which will run another $300 or more. First you learn the ‘fundamentals,’ such as stance, grip, holster draw, sight alignment, blah, blah, blah. Then after shooting your 1,500 rounds (that’s 100 hi-cap magazines over 3 days) you get to play some ‘real world’ training scenarios with Airsoft guns (those are toys, by the way.) In other words, over a long weekend you’ll progress from a complete novice to an expert at protecting yourself with a gun, right?  See how well your hands hold up.

The NRA started as a training organization and as a trainer certified in six, different NRA specialties I can tell you that when it comes to defining how to shoot a gun safely, America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ has it down pat. But Carry Guard isn’t training, it’s video gaming with live guns. What do you expect, now that the video-game generation has come of age?

 

 

 

Concealed-Carry: The Latest Marketing Gimmick.

On August 25 – 27 you can go to Milwaukee and spend the better part of 3 days immersing yourself in the NRA’s new playland for gun owners, a.k.a. the first Carry Guard Expo which is being hyped as “an educational and interactive experience dedicated to Individuals interested in increasing their knowledge and skills within personal protection, concealed carry and defense tactics.”

clothing            This event has got to be the most infantile expression of arrested mental development ever put together by the gun industry and if this moronic and laughable shindig  portends the future direction of gun ownership in this country, nobody has to worry that the surge in guns during the Obama ‘regime’ will eventually result in every American walking around with a gun.

The NRA claims that this event features an exhibit hall with “hundreds of top companies” but the truth is that there are slightly less than 150 exhibitors, basically the usual suspects (Glock, Ruger, S&W) along with a quarter of the total exhibitor booth space occupied by various NRA programs, including the video-television group, the firearms museum and let’s never forget the ‘t-shirts and bumper stickers from the ‘official’ NRA store.

The NRA used to take itself seriously as a training organization, its revenues derived from membership dues, magazine advertising and some program dough from the annual show. Now the organization is becoming an aggressive vendor of goods and services, the goods being in the form of insurance and related products, the services being a new training initiative which like all training these days, relies heavily on digital instruction and internet demand.

In the process of transitioning from a training to a marketing organization, the boys from Fairfax have come to believe that the concealed-carry population represents a golden opportunity just waiting to be tapped. And if you go to the Carry Guard Expo, you’ll have an opportunity to see first-hand how American entrepreneurship is moving quickly and decisively into this new and exciting product realm.

Don’t miss the Femme Fatale booth at the western end of the hall. This company sells Elegant Concealed Carry Holsters for Women Created by a Woman. A few steps away we have another booth, Lady Conceal, which calls itself an In the Bag Boutique, and further down the hall stop in at Dene Adams, which carries Concealed Carry Solutions for Women – for $69.95 you can buy a ‘body shaping thigh holster’ which not only gives your thigh that svelte, 20-something look, but is the perfect spot to store your Glock.

Hey – I like that! ‘The perfect spot to store your Glock.’ Now all I need is a product to go with my slogan and I’m all set. In fact, there’s still plenty of exhibitor space available because according to the show management, “Tens of thousands of freedom-loving Americans will be walking the aisles, looking at the latest and greatest concealed carry guns and gear.” Know what? Even the ad copy being used to attract exhibitors is infantile, to say the least.

When I was 11 years old, my father bought me a Daisy Red Ryder so I could pretend to be John Wayne. Better than that, I took my Red Ryder into the back yard of our house in the middle of Washington, D.C. and now I was riding alongside George Armstrong Custer going through the Black Hills. I once was about the be scalped at The Little Big Horn when my mother stuck her head out the window and yelled that dinner was on the table.

If you think there’s any difference between my backyard fantasies and the fantasies promoted at the Carry Guard Expo, think again. Concealed-carry, armed citizen, self-protection and all that other messaging crap is just a new kind of marketing hype designed to create a consumer market which otherwise wouldn’t exist.

Next time you flick on your television watch how that Dodge Ram truck goes flying over those ruts and muddy curves and then think about the same, twenty- mile drive you do every day back and forth to work.

 

Sorry, but walking around with a gun isn’t ‘free speech.’

In the wake of Charlottesville our friend John Feinblatt wrote an op-ed piece last week calling for restrictions on the open carry of guns. He was obviously reacting to the dopes who showed up in their camo clothing lugging their AR-15 assault rifles which, according to Governor McAuliffe, made the local cops feel outgunned. On the other hand, insofar as Virginia is an ‘open carry’ state; i.e., the law allows folks to publicly tote guns, the cops just can’t tell someone to put their gun away.

charles             Let’s get one thing clear right now: Anyone who wants to walk around with a visible gun in an open-carry jurisdiction can say that he wants everyone to know he’s carrying a gun, he may also say that he’s carrying the gun because he likes to carry a gun. Fine. But if he says he’s carrying the gun because he wants to protect himself against crime or help keep the peace, then he better make sure that he only uses that gun if he’s attacked by someone else. And this is where the situation in Charlottesville gets a little confused, because the only people who suffered any serious physical damage, up to the point of loss of life, were people protesting the fact that some of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist supporters of their President were walking around with guns.

And I really think that in the interests of honesty, full disclosure and an attempt to sort out right from wrong, it’s time to quit indulging the alt-white in their bullshit about how they showed up recently in Charlottesville, Boston, Austin and a few other spots demonstrating in favor of free speech.  There’s no question that the 1st Amendment gives these jerks the right to march down the street with Nazi banners in hand. But the idea that a political movement which venerates Adolf Hitler would ever become a beacon of free expression is about as likely as the possibility that Fox News would ever be fair and balanced.

I agree with John Feinblatt that open carry is an invitation to violence or worse. But I think there might be a quick and easy solution whenever a so-called citizen’s ‘militia’ announces their intention to show up at a public meeting schlepping their guns. They can be told that their presence in or near the event will be illegal if they show up armed. And despite what you may think, such a temporary ban doesn’t violate their 2nd-Amendment rights at all.

Why? Because until and unless another gun case comes before the Supreme Court, right now the Constitution protects the right of Americans to keep a handgun in the home. That’s all it does. And the fact that this state or that state gives out permits allowing residents to take the guns out of their homes doesn’t mean that such licensing has any kind of Constitutional authority behind it.  In fact, it does not.

Eugene Volokh is a noted Constitutional scholar at UCLA who has championed many of the legal cases removing or reducing gun restrictions over the last number of years.  In a very detailed paper which was cited by Justice Thomas’s dissent when the Court refused to hear a challenge to California’s restrictive CCW permitting process (Peruta v. California), Volokh argues that gun bans in “places where people have a right to be” is a “substantial burden on the right to bear arms for self-defense.”

There’s only one little problem. The Heller decision limited where and how a gun can be used for self-defense, and it didn’t grant any Constitutional protection to someone who shows up armed at a public meeting, no matter why the idiot feels like showing off his AR-15. And even if we grant Volokh’s unproven assumption that having a gun on your person no matter where you are is the best way to defend yourself from a criminal assault, that’s not what happened in Charlottesville – that’s not what happened at all.