Your Viewpoint Determines Your Vision

Stephen King asks three questions which provide us with an interesting peek into the mind of an anti-gun activist, (via Kathy Jackson).

“I guess the question is, how paranoid do you want to be? How many guns does it take to make you feel safe? And how do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren?”

Let’s address those three questions individually.

“How paranoid do you want to be?”
This question assumes that deciding to be your own first responder is a paranoid act, as if having a fire extinguisher means you’re convinced there’s an arsonist on the loose or having a first aid kit means you’re surrounded by clumsy oafs who constantly injure themselves.

Actually, as I have two young sons, that last sentence is, in truth, correct …

I digress.

It’s not a question of being paranoid, because paranoia is by definition based on unreasonable fears, and wanting to defend your loved ones from harm is an entirely reasonable desire that inhabits the entire animal kingdom. Every critter in the forest defends what’s important to them, why should mankind be any different?

It’s important to note here that acknowledging the existence of tigers in the forest does not detract from the beauty of the forest itself. I don’t consider my life as an armed individual to be any less rewarding or fulfilling than my unarmed life. If anything, I feel more empowered because I know for certain I can effectively deal with whatever life can throw at me.

It’s not paranoia that drives me, Mr. King, it’s empowerment.

How many guns does it take to make you feel safe?
That one’s easy: How many guns? However many it takes to stop a threat to myself or my loved ones. The actual number of guns involved will vary from time to time and from person to person. For me, that number is four: A gun on my person, a gun near me when I’m outside of the house that is more powerful than the gun on my person, a gun near me in the home, and a gun in my home that is more powerful than the other home gun.

YMMV.

How do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren?
There are two ways I accomplish the first part of that question. The first way is to keep a gun on my person wherever and whenever I can, including when I’m relaxing around the house. If the safest and quickest way to store a gun when I’m outside the house is on my person, it makes sense that the safest and easiest way to store a gun inside the house is also on my person.

Duh.

Secondly, I am a BIG proponent of the easy-access gun safe for home defense pistols. We did a simple test over at Teamgunblogger that showed that getting a gun out of a safe was just as easy and just as fast as finding one in your sock drawer, so I’m pretty confident in both the security of my guns and the security of my house.

To answer the second part of that question, I deal with the inquisitive nature of children in my life by reducing the allure of guns. If guns are commonplace and a part of your everyday life, they aren’t as a unusual or seen as the “forbidden fruit”. My kids know (and practice) the guidelines laid down in the NRA’s “Eddie The Eagle” program, and I whole-hearted recommend it as a starting point for teaching gun safety to children.

Mr. King’s questions are valid and right, from his point of view. It’s a point of view that is not shared by millions and millions of other people, but it is nevertheless a point of view that is commonplace and, in some ways, informative, because it shows the underlying fears that anti-gun activists have. They KNOW the world is “unsafe”, they just can’t put their finger on “why”, so they blame the instruments of violence rather than the instigators of violence. It’s a beguiling intellectual shortcut to solving the problem of violence, but it’s a shortcut that leads to a dead-end: Even if you reduce the instruments of violence down to man’s most basic tools, the knife and blunt instrument, the violence still remains.

The problem isn’t what’s in a man’s hand, the problem is in his heart. Banning or restricting what  man can use to defend lives will never, ever change his heart.

Running on past promises

The rollout of the Glock 43 has highlighted something interesting in the gun world, the ongoing legend of Glock reliability.

First, a word about brand loyalty (or as some call it, being a fanboy).

I’m an unabashed Apple Fanboy. I don’t just drink the Apple Koolaid, I snort the raw powder (it’s faster that way). In 1988, the user interface of the Mac operating was a wonder to behold: Nothing else existed like that UI at the time, and it was another five years before Windows even approached the same ease of use with Windows 3.1.1. Today, though, to be honest, while the iOS interface is good, I’m really intrigued by the Windows Phone UI more than I am iOS.

In other words, over the last 35+ years, through innovation and experimentation, the other brands in the marketplace have caught up (and maybe even surpassed) the brand leader. Even more recently, Dell Computers absolutely dominated the market by creating a supply chain that allowed them to build premium computers for a discount price. However, once the other manufacturers out there figured out how to build a similar supply chain, Dell’s market advantage withered away, and they became just another computer manufacturer.

In 1988, the reliability of the Glock was a wonder to behold, it truly was earth-shattering/ground-breaking/insert metaphor here. But just like the Mac/Windows race, maybe it’s time to look at things with fresh eyes. Have the other companies out there figured out how to build a gun that is just as reliable as a Glock? I dunno.

Is it still true in 2015 that Glocks are head-and-shoulders reliable above everyone else, or has everybody and their dog caught up with Glock in the past 35+ years? That’s an entire generation of gun owners who have grown up with the Glock: Can truly say that NONE of those people have figured out a way to surpass the Glock on reliablity, or do we want to switch the dogma of the 1911 for the dogma of the Glock?

Now here’s where some might say “Ah-ha, you’re a known CZ fanboy!” and well, yes, I am. I also know the limits of CZ’s. I wouldn’t recommend one as a daily carry gun because they’re heavier and wider than similar guns. I still carry my P07 (it’s on my hip as I type this), but it’s not my “go-to” recommendation for most gun owners. Now, do CZ’s make a great competition gun? Oh yeah. Would I recommend my beloved Macs to someone setting up an enterprise-level retail environment? Oh no. I know the limitations of my manias of choice, and live within them.

Bottom line is, if your gun passes a 2000 round challenge, carry it with confidence. Anything else is just arguing Coke vs. Pepsi.

Gaston Glock, Steve Jobs

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So Glock is coming out with a gun that almost everyone else has had for at least three years now.

Pardon my yawn.

Glock reminds me of where Apple is right now. Did they do some tremendous work in UI, design and integration to give us things that we didn’t know we needed like the Glock 17/iPod?

Yes.

Have they built upon that success by expanding their product line into other areas of the market like the iPhone/iPad and the 26/34?

Yes.

Have they done anything recently that shows they’re willing to break some eggs and create new products that really shake up our lives?

Not really.

Glock is going to sell a metric buttload of these guns, just like Apple still sells a metric buttload of phones. Both are going to be blindsided by The Next Big Thing.

Update: Found this on the Facebook page for The Shooter’s Mindset.

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So yeah, this is happening, and with only a $580 MSRP. Wow, that’s only ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS MORE than the equivalent M&P. Wowza.

Look, I’m an unabashed Apple fanboy, so I get the idea of premium brands, but is there really $130 worth of difference between this and a Shield?

Here is your future, unarmed America

Let’s count it down, shall we?

Failed attempts at gun control? Check.
Increasing crime rates? Check.
Violent, ruthless street gangs? Check.
Politicization and corruption of law enforcement? Check.

I have seen your future, California, and it looks a lot like Caracas.

Interview With A Professional Kidnapper

Gonzalez began by explaining “the market.” He targeted Venezuela’s middle classes, rather than the rich. Going after the rich invited additional police scrutiny or, worse heavily armed private guards driving armoured vehicles. For the same reasons and because they seldom had Venezuelan bank accounts that could be quickly emptied, it did not make economic sense to kidnap foreigners.

Before deciding whether to kidnap someone, gang members followed their movements closely for about a month to understand how and where they lived, worked and played. This was not only to figure out the best time and place to grab them, but also to find out whether their kin were likely to be able to cough up a ransom of 100,000 to 200,000 bolivars (about US$300 to US$600 on the black market, US$16,000 to $32,000 at the official exchange rate).

And before you think, “Well, that’s just Venezuela. What are the chances this could happen close to the U.S.?”…

… have you seen what is (still) going on in Mexico City?

In Mexico, with its history of drug-war violence and corrupt police, kidnapping is an old story. In the past, the crime tended to target the rich. Now it has become more egalitarian. Victims these days are often shopkeepers, taxi drivers, service employees, parking attendants and taco vendors who often work in cash or in Mexico’s “informal” economy. Targets also tend to be young — students, with parents willing to pay ransoms, are commonly targeted.

How long before MS13, La eMe, etc, figure out there’s as much money to be made from kidnapping middle class citizenry as there is from smuggling in people and/or drugs into the U.S.?

The only two things that are holding back this nightmare scenario from happening that I can see are the (mostly) honest police forces in the U.S. and the presence of a well-armed middle class.

When those two things go away, what hope is there for the citizenry?

Being your own first responder by arming yourself is a very good thing indeed, but it’s even better if it is also backed up by the fair and firm rule of law. When the rule of law becomes politicized, the criminals will realize that politics is the way to power.

Update: A little cheerful reading for you on a Tuesday morning – When the Music Stops. I’d like to believe that such a scenario is unlikely (even improbable), but given the reality of today’s political situation, I can’t.

Another one more thing

This is from my friend Robert, who’s smarter than me.

“Saving your spouse or children from the worst day of their lives is nothing to be ashamed of. Why then, do people call the day they need to use their gun defensively as ‘worst day of their lives’. Saving your life or the lives of your spouse or children should not be the worst day you’ve ever had, when compared to the other options. It’s not the ‘worst day of my life’, it’s ‘the best thing I’ve ever done for my family’.”

A-yup.

Choosing a good practice ammo

From a comment on an earlier post…

“I just bought my first pistol, a smith-Wesson 9mm sd9ve. I’m trying to get the right ammo for my abilities at shooting. I am a beginner. I went to the range an shot 50 rounds of 115 grain fmj hornaday an 16 rounds of 124 grain hollow point american eagle. I want ammo that will give me less recoil an more control. Is the 95 grain a good choice?”

Well, to be honest, IMO, no, it’s not.

I’m not an expert (nor do I play one on TV, and I did not sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night…) but it seems to me that the point of practice is to develop some consistent results, and that means a consistent supply of ammo and consistency between your defensive ammo and your carry ammo. The world will go to hell in a hand basket right quickly if (God forbid) you need to use your gun defensively, and the last thing you need is one more distraction like way more recoil and muzzle flip from your gun than what you’re used to from your practice rounds.

To quote Vince Lombardi, act like you’ve been there before.

The other thing is that 95 grain 9mm isn’t the most common 9mm round out there, and when it comes to learning to control recoil, more practice trumps lighter loads, so I think a more commonly available ammo that you’ll shoot more would be a better choice. Practice, not ammo, is the make or break item on your checklist.

9mm defensive ammo test

Some suggestions I’d have would be 115 grain Federal for practice and 115 grain Hornady XTP for defense, because based on a blind test from awhile ago, those two rounds feel about the same when you shoot it. If not that, try the Winchester W/T line, which ballistically matches a defensive round with a training round so there’s no surprises with your ammo on the worst day of your life. You can save a buck or two on that training ammo and get the regular White Box 147 grain instead, as it’s pretty much the same ammo.

If you’re worried about the recoil from those 147 grain Winchester rounds, don’t be. As Sir Isaac Newton once said, F=MA (Force=Mass x Acceleration), so the key to finding ammo that’s comfortable to shoot isn’t bullet weight, but rather muzzle energy, and you’ll find those rounds are right in-line with other rounds.

Also, please consider getting a good training class. You’ll find that having someone there to coach you and see things you don’t see will really help with EVERYTHING gun-related.

Enjoy the gun, Eugene, and thanks for writing.

Ok, so now what?

Wrapping up this dead horse (how’s THAT for a mixed metaphor?), what would a marketing campaign for firearms training that focuses on the positive actually look like?

Well, something like the life insurance industry, to be frank. Which is, after all, what we are actually selling (just without the actuarial tables and polyester sports coats). We are selling something that helps our customers and their loved ones lead longer, happier, more fulfilling lives. As firearms/self-defense trainers, we are not selling people the secrets that Tier √-1 Operators use to kill bad guys overseas, (unless that’s our actual market) we are selling people the idea that they will live a better, longer, more secure, less fearful life if they take our class.

Kathy Jackson gets this: The metaphor she uses is swimming lessons, and it’s a very, very good one. But swimming lessons aren’t sold because people are afraid of water or to help people survive a boat crash, they’re sold because people want to have more fun in the water with their friends.

People tend to want to do fun things, (that’s why Disneyland was invented), and they tend to NOT want to do the “responsible” things like taking cod liver oil or filling out tax forms. Anything we can do to take firearms training out from underneath cod liver oil and into the realm of fun (while still safely teaching them what they need to know/do) will increase the market for firearms and firearms training.

Let Me Tell You How To Save Your Family’s Life

Thinking more about yesterday’s post, maybe we in the training community aren’t selling products for the people in our classrooms, maybe we’re selling to the people who AREN’T in our classrooms.

A comparison.

What if life insurance was sold on the idea that there is cancer, traffic accidents, meteor strikes, whatever, so in order to be safe, you need to buy life insurance? Nobody would buy it, because we don’t buy life insurance for ourselves, we buy it for our beneficiaries.

Ditto with self-protection training and guns.

The closest I’ve seen any firearms company come to approaching this basic fact of WHY Gun Culture 2.0 buys guns is this ad for Daniel Defense.

Positive. Open. Friendly. The message of “Guns are what I use to defend the people I love the most” comes through loud and clear, a message that relates very strongly with me.

I wonder if it’s just me, or is this a message that we’re not sending out to our customers?

Update: A commenter on Facebook suggested that because the Daniel Defense ad was shut out of the Super Bowl, it was a failure.

Au contraire.

I contend, it was never MEANT to air during the Super Bowl. The point of the ad was to mainstream the ownership of AR-15’s, and because the shutout became the story, this ad played for free on darn near every entire libertarian/conservative new media and old media outlet in existence. Daniel Defense was able to advertise to their target market and get Super Bowl-level exposure without having to pay Super Bowl-level ad prices.

Well-played.