When guns are outlawed…

charlie-hebdo-je-suis-ahmed_5183387

… you know the rest.

The Telegraph is shocked, SHOCKED to find out that people who want to commit mass murder are also willing to break a few laws about who can own guns and rocket launchers and the like.

Last week it was confirmed by Belgian police that the weapons used in the Paris attacks had been purchased in Brussels and Charleroi by Coulibaly, who had travelled to the country expressly to buy the Kalashnikovs, Skorpion, Tokarev and rocket launcher.

Why, it’s almost as if criminals are, by definition, law-breakers, or something.

Belgium has some pretty tough gun laws: You need a permit to own a gun, any gun, and “semi-automatic assault rifles” are banned, yet somehow, the Islamic terrorists who committed mass murder at Charlie Hebdo managed to get their hands on full-auto AK’s and Scorpion machine pistols and even an RPG-7 variant.

And in a break with how things are done in the U.S., it wasn’t Belgium’s equivalent of the BATFE who gave them their weapons.

WYSIWYS.

Tunnel vision

“What you see is what you’re going to shoot.”

Steve Anderson.

While that quote is meant to apply to sight picture and accuracy at a match, it can also apply to the “tactical” world as well. Is knowing FOR CERTAIN that your sights were on target a good thing in a defensive shooting situation, especially if you (God forbid) have to go to trial?

I’d say so.

So tell me again how competition shooting is going to get you killed on the streets.

The Fundamentals Never Go Out Of Style

Had a fun little night-time training session with Jeff and Robyn from Step By Step Training last week. I learned a lot about my gear (memo to self: Get night sights for the Shield, STAT!), and talked with them about a bit about what drives their passions.

Me? I’m a gamer, with trainer tendencies. I’m concerned about my personal protection, but I’ve decided my path to mastery (or at least not-suckery) goes through learning to shoot for shoot’s sake.

An explanation.

Going back and looking at that match video from earlier this month, nothing there, by itself, is “tactically unsound”. Most (if not all) of what we can “tactical training” has to do with NOT shooting a gun. Getting a smooth draw, quick reload and fast, accurate hits is something at applies to training range and pistol match alike.

So why some people think that “competition will get you killed on the streets” is something I’ll never know.

A Backup Plan for your Backup Plan, Pt. 2

One thing that Charlie Hebdo, Mumbai, and even the Boston bombing attacks have in common is that they all took place at or near a place of business. Unless you’re out in the woods 100 miles away from civilization, you’re near a business, and the boonies aren’t where urban terrorists are going to attack. That means there’s a 1/3 chance (or greater) that if (God Forbid) you suffer the effects of an urban terrorist attack, it’ll be at, near or on your way to your place of work. Somebody else isn’t going help you or protect your place of business if disaster strikes, you are.

Let’s start this off by acknowledging the reality that terrorists will control when and where they will strike (that’s why they’re called “terrorists” and not “corpses”). We may notice the backpack with the pressure cooker bomb in it, or we may spot the buttstock of the AK under the jacket and take appropriate measures, but in general, we are not “in the know” about the latest intelligence of their movements. When or if it happens, it will be a complete and utter surprise to us.

Hence the use of the word “terror” to describe their actions.

Since chances are we won’t stop the threat before it happens, we have two possible responses: Active Reaction, or stopping the threat before more damage is done, and Reactive Reaction, or mitigating the effects of the terrorist’s actions.

Active Reaction

This is 90% of what you’ll go through in an active shooter drill. Situational awareness. Long-range pistol work. Trunk guns. A lot of stuff has been written about this topic elsewhere, and I have nothing new to add to the conversation besides carry your frickin’ guns, people, so let’s move on.

Reactive Reaction

This, however, is a topic on which I’m not seeing people talk about, at least when it comes to an active shooter/terrorism situation. There is plenty of information out there on how to react to a natural disaster and mitigate the effects of such things on your life, but strangely, there’s almost nothing out there about dealing with the after-effects of a mass casualty event. Maybe it’s because we’re comfortable with the idea that we can’t control the weather, but uncomfortable with the idea we can’t control another person’s actions.

By carrying a gun on our person, we’ve decided we’re going to be our own first responder. However, there is more than just one kind of first responder.

What would have saved more lives on the scene at the Boston bombing: A Glock, or Quikclot?  Getting back to the topic of staying safe at work, if your work freaks out about guns, leave them behind. Make sure, though, you have a well-stocked first aid kit at your desk, along with water, a flashlight and a multitool. No one will freak out about having those things at your desk, if anything, it’ll help you do your job better. I can’t tell you the amount of times that a flashlight has helped me chase down a stray cable under my desk, and the same multitool that has that pointy-stabby blade on it is just dandy for tightening monitor cables. Being known as the unofficial handyman is not a bad thing when it comes time for the boss to evaluate your performance.

Optics Planet Messenger Bag

I’ve carried a mid-sized man purse messenger bag with me into work for a few months now, and it has the stuff in it I need to deal with the effects of a gunshot wound or other severe injury, plus enough other stuff to stay semi-comfortable on my own for 24 hours, no matter what. The whole kit is listed out over at the Smart Suburban Survival Kit blog, but some highlights include the aforementioned multitool, a CAT tourniquet, a fixed blade knife (ok, that might not be a good thing for some offices) and a good flashlight with spare batteries.

Most important, though, is something you probably already have if you’re reading this, and that is mindset. To quote Tam’s Zen preparedness koan,

“Upon hearing the story of the bandit in the village, the student went to the Master:

‘Master, it saddens me that this evildoer is preying on the helpless. I have listened to and practiced all that you have taught me to prepare myself; I truly believe in my heart that I can defeat this bandit.

Everywhere I go on my daily rounds, I keep an eye out for him, walking upright, staying alert and looking around, studying the people around me, and yet the monster never shows himself, never chooses me, but preys on the defenseless instead. Why, Master?’

The Master only smiled.

And the student was enlightened.”

Stay safe. Have fun.

A Backup Plan for your Backup Plan, Pt 1.

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London, Mumbai, Ft. Hood, Boston, Ottawa, Paris. With so many rotten apples, it’s the orchard that’s the problem.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris have once again (briefly) shone a light on the fact that western civilization is undergoing a determined, fanatical assault on our very existence. I’m sure that we’ll soon forget about such things once Kim Kardashian shows off her butt again or some sports teams wins a championship of some kind, but until that happens, let’s take advantage of things and inform the public that yes, they really ARE trying to kill us.

And prepare.

As I’ve said before, if you’ve made the decision to arm yourself against lethal force, you realize you are no longer “somebody else”. Here’s what I mean:

I grew up in Canada, and I never thought of violent crime as something that could affect my family. We lived in good neighbourhoods, we didn’t do stupid things with stupid people, and besides, there would ALWAYS be a Mountie nearby when we needed one, right?

Then one night, a group of friends and myself went camping. Late at night, after we’d all retired, a group of yokels made camp near us, lit up a huge bonfire and started shooting shotguns off into the air. That night, I realized that if they meant to do us harm, a cop would NOT be there to protect us and the only thing we had to defend ourselves was a hatchet.

Somebody else’s problem became MY problem, and quickly. That’s when I realized that believing bad things only happened to other people was NOT going to keep me safe, I was going to have to be my own first responder.

And sonuvagun if the FBI and Department of Homeland Security don’t agree with me on that one.

In a joint bulletin issued to local, state and federal law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI said that while they are “unaware of any specific, credible threats against the Homeland” and find most threats to the U.S. homeland by supporters of ISIS “not credible,” they cannot rule out attacks in the United States from sympathizers radicalized by the group’s online propaganda.

“[B]ecause of the individualized nature of the radicalization process – it is difficult to predict triggers that will contribute to [homegrown violent extremists] attempting acts of violence,” the bulletin states. Moreover, such lone offenders “present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt plots, which frequently involve simple plotting against targets of opportunity,” according to the bulletin.

Translation: Look, we cops can’t be everywhere at once: You’re on your own.

Well, at least it’s nice of them to admit it. So what does being somebody else’s “somebody else” mean in a world where terrorists commit mass murder in even our largest cities? We need options. A gun on our person gives us more options for self-defense than not having one. Having a flashlight gives us more options when the lights are out than not having one. What other stuff is there there gives us even more options when things go south?

More on that tomorrow.

Second Thoughts On Police Militarization

After the cops in Ferguson made almost-perfect fools of themselves by rolling out the heavy artillery to quell a bunch of marchers, there’s been a bunch of people (including myself) raising questions about how the police use their surplus military gear.

But.

If a half-dozen or so people roll up on me with full-auto AK’s and an RPG, I want a heavily militarized police presence. I fact, if I were a cop on that beat, I’d much prefer to be so heavily militarized there is little difference between my fellow cops and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

See this? I don’t EVER want to see a cop pleading for his life like this on the streets of America.

charliehebdocopkilled

The trick is knowing when to patrol in full battle-rattle, and when not to. It’s not that the police have military gear that is the problem; cops have carried weapons of war on the streets since the days of the night watch patrolling the city walls with a cuirass, halberd and short sword, the problem is how they are used, and when. One can be simultaneously against the indiscriminate use of force by the protectors of our society AND be for said protectors having the means they need to safely protect us and themselves.

Discretion, after all, is the better part of valor.

It’s Tam’s internet, we just play in it.

As seen on the Book Of Face:

A thread I have never ever seen on a firearms forum:

“Hi, everybody! Well, with the news stories that have been on lately, my boyfriend has decided that he wants to start CCWing. He’s been resistant to the idea before, so I didn’t try to force him, but now that he wants to carry, I realize I have no idea what would be a good gun for a man. You married ladies, what kind of gun is popular with the fellas in your life?”

Because that would sound %$@#ing retarded.

That’s all for me, folks, I can’t top that today.

Product Review: Sig Sauer CP-1 Scope and STL-300 Stoplite.

kel-tac su16c

My “trunk gun”: A Kel-Tec SU16C with a SigTac CP1 scope and an STL300 laser/light.

I shot a 3 gun match last year with my trunk gun, a Kel-Tec SU-16C, to see how well it worked under stressful conditions. The rifle was surprisingly accurate and I was able to work the cross bolt safety with ease, which surprised me, because I shoot that gun left-handed due to my cross-eye dominance. One thing that did pop up, though, was that I forgot to turn on my red-dot sight before I started my first stage.

Whoops.

Now at a match, all that means is I’m a little more embarrassed than I usually am and a few wasted seconds to turn on the dot. However, if this had been a two-way shooting match with rounds incoming, that simple mistake would have serious issues.

SigTac CP1 3x Scope

Advantages: Clear optics, great value, good combo of magnification and field of view
Disadvantages: Confusing reticle
Rating: Four out of five stars

I decided to replace the Vortex Strikefire on top of my gun with an optic that was always on, and I settled on a Sig Sauer CP1 3×32 optic. I chose this optic for a couple of reasons: I wanted an “always on” optic that I could quickly use, and I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank and leave me heartbroken if it broke on me. Yes, I could get an ACOG and get everything I wanted (and more) but somehow, putting a $900 optic on a $600 gun that I’m not going to use all that often just doesn’t make sense to me. Also, a fixed power 3x magnification scope gives me enough power to help reach out and touch people at 200+ yards and yet doesn’t give me tunnel vision for closer work.

reticleThe CP1 scope mounted quickly on the top of my SU-16, although its eye relief is a little short compared to the red dot I had on there before. If you closely look at the picture above, you’ll note that the scope is right up against the rear backup sight, and I still get a little blackout on it at times. The scope sighted in quickly: I prefer a 50 yard sight-in on my .223 AR’s, and I was able to get this one dialed in quite fast. The scope comes with options to light up the reticle in red or green light, and those controls are easy to activate and manipulate. The reticle, however, is my biggest complaint about this scope: It is much more confusing than a simple scope like this requires, and there is just too much information going on to quickly make a good decision about what line for what use at what range. A simple duplex or cleaner BDC reticle would have been much more useful than the mumbo jumbo inside this scope

Optically, however, the scope is quite nice, easily keeping up with other scopes in its price range. The colors are clear, the details are crisp and there is no noticeable “rainbows” of chromatic aberration in the reticle. It’s not an ACOG or a HAMR, but what it does, it does well.

SigTac STL300 Stoplite

Advantages: Blindingly bright, versatile, easy to set up and use
Disadvantages: Do I really need a strobe mode?
Rating: Five out of five stars

AA_magliteThe SigTac STL300 Stoplite is a natural compliment to the CP1 scope. It’s a powerful LED light, laser sight and vertical foregrip all in one, and attaches easily to any Picatinny-compatible rail. The LED light is very bright, and to test it, I set my camera on a tripod about 40 feet away from a white rollup garage door with the exposure set for 1 second at f5.6, ISO 400. The first pic is the garage door lit up with my old standby, a AA Maglite that I carried with me across two continents. The second shot is lit up with the STL300.

sig_stopliteAs I said, it’s bright.

The light on the STL300 has a “strobe” setting that I think is unnecessary and needlessly complicates things. If the bad guy(s) you are lighting up are not understanding that their lives are about to change for the worse, I don’t see how strobing them is going to reinforce that message.

The controls on the STL300 were set exactly where I wanted them: I found the laser and the flashlight easy to switch on, but due to my cross-eye dominance, I shoot long guns left-handed, and the controls may not be as well-placed for right-handed shooters.

The STL300 may not have the same rugged appearance as its higher-priced cousins from other manufacturers, and I haven’t done a ‘torture test” on it to see how it fares under highly stressful conditions, but you know what? I don’t care. I am NOT a Tier √-1 Operator operating operationally in an operational operating environment: I have a trunk gun in my trunk for the (thankfully) very slim chance that I’ll need something more than my CCW gun to deal with the crap going on around me, so that means the accessories on that gun are probably never going to be put to the test.

But I’m comfortable and secure with what the CP1 and STL300 will do if, God Forbid, I need to call on them. They’re not top-of-the line milspec gear, but I’m not a top-of-the-line milspec guy. Howver, these two SigTac accessories are definitely a step or three up from the bargain brands you see out there on Amazon.com and such.

If you’re looking for a couple of accessories to make your AR more effective in a hairy situation, you’d do a lot worse than these two SigTac accessories. I found both the CP1 scope and the STL300 Stoplite to be a good value for the money.

Cover drill

Miami ViceI’m doing something many men never, ever do, and that’s re-thinking my wardrobe. For a lot of guys, “wardrobe” consists of jeans and t-shirts with logos on them, and that’s ok, they’re guys.

I, however, have had a conscious “style” for the last 20 years, and it was black. Black t-shirts or long-sleeve shirts (NEVER a polo shirt or short-sleeve dress shirt), no logos, no brands and either jeans or khakis, and it served goofy artistic me very well, as I what I wore became part of how people thought of me.

It’s called “branding”, people, and it’s not just for corporations.

But it’s time for a change. I’m going to be changing gradually this year to something more tropical and lighter weight, and part of what I need to consider in my new wardrobe is concealed carry.

For daily wear, I’m gravitating towards guayabera shirts in white or off-white and khakis. I’ve liked them for a while now (ever since I lived in Costa Rica) and apparently they’re pretty darn good for concealed carry as well, so that takes care of my off-work sartorial needs.

For work, that’s easy. I have a uniform (first time I’ve had that since I worked fast food). It’s a nice black Columbia Sportswear shirt which needs to be tucked in, and for a bunch of reasons (the least of which is to help acclimatize people to such things), I want to open carry inside the store. I’m looking to pickup a nice OWB holster for the P07 for shop use, but that presents a problem: What do I do when I walk outside the store? Florida doesn’t have open carry (yet), so for the first time in my life, I need a cover garment that isn’t an untucked shirt.

I’ve narrowed it down to three options, and I’d appreciate your input.

  1. A lightweight IDPA “Shoot me first!” vest. There’s a ton of fishing going on here, but almost none of it involves the stuff you need a vest for. I’d stick out like a sore thumb in a vest, but on the other hand, I work in a gun store, and looking all tac’d out would not be a bad thing.
  2. A lightweight dress shirt, like something in chambray or linen. I *love* chambray shirts, I used to wear them all the time layered over a t-shirt. A shirt like this would conceal the gun and not look too out of place, and it’d also be my least-expensive option. Downside: Stray winds exposing the gun. Florida’s “brandishing” laws seem pretty good, but still, why take a chance?
  3. A lightweight suit jacket. Properly made, a summer weight jacket is very easy to wear in the all but the hottest of climates, and as Naples has MONEY, it’d make me look a bit spiffier outside of work. Downside? Being nicknamed “Crockett”.

Your thoughts? Is there something I overlooked?