It’s Tam’s Internet, we just post on it.

I was talking with a local firearms trainer over lunch last week about how situational awareness plays into a safe, secure lifestyle. We both agree that trainers who poo-poo the concept are missing the point of situational awareness: It’s not going to help you that much* when the proverbial stuff hits the proverbial fan, but it will help you avoid large amounts of fans and even larger amounts of, errr, stuff.

The main reason I carry a gun is because my situational awareness is not perfect. If it were, I’d stroll on out of the area and let the gunfight happen to somebody else.

Memo to self: Re-read “The Gift of Fear” in the very near future.

* I would like to revise and extend my previous remarks. As they say, knowing is half the battle, and knowing who you’re facing, where they are and how you can get away from them if needed is all part of gathering tactical intelligence-gathering. Or situational awareness, as we civilians call it.

Should I carry without a round in the chamber?


In a word, no.

In two words, HELL NO.

I met quite a few gun owners / CCW holders at the old job who routinely carried semi-auto pistols without a round in the chamber because, they said, they were afraid to carry around a gun with one in the chamber because of potential safety issues.

This is, of course, insane.

Unlike other people, I didn’t grow up with a 1911 in my hands: This is all fairly new to me, but even I know that if you follow the rules of gun safety and carry in a good holster, the chances of your gun going “bang” when you don’t want it to is pretty much diddly and/or squat.

The chances of having enough time and hands to draw, rack the slide, chamber a round and THEN point the gun at the threat fast enough to be effective? Also pretty much diddly and/or squat.

Tam has some interesting thoughts on engagement distances, and I think she’s spot-on here. The fact is, to a criminal, we are prey: We have something that the crook wants, and in order to get it, he/she is going to have to come close enough to take it from us. Unless it’s a home invasion situation where the loot is scattered about our abode, that means the bad guy/gal will need to get within bad-breath distance at some point in the encounter to get what they want.

Whether or not they’ll be able to accomplish such actions is up to us.

A gun, ANY gun is not a talisman of self-protection. A $150 Hi-Point or a $1500 Zev are equally useless in protecting the lives of your loved ones if they’re not ready for use when you need them the most. Carrying a semi-auto without a round in the chamber is magical thinking at its’ very worst, because it presupposes you’ll have time to recognize the threat and prepare for what’s next. Unless I’m in my domicile or have to defend the lives of my loved ones, if I have time to recognize the threat and charge up a gun, I also have time to imitate Jesse Owens and get the @$!% out of Dodge.

I think that home-defence might be influencing people’s thought processes here. In a home invasion situation, yes, there might (MIGHT) be enough time and warning to access an unloaded gun and get it ready for use, but if the bad guy is within spitting distance of you, the time to get your gun loaded happened a long time ago.

The color code in black and white

I ranted for awhile on Facebook last week about the media shooting in Virginia and why there’s no real takeaway from it other than “you can’t be 100% aware all the time”.

The fact is, the tunnel vision and stress I experience at a practical shooting match is pretty much identical to the tunnel vision and stress I experience on a photo shoot. When you’ve got 30 minutes to set up lights, get a test shot and be ready to take pictures of a celebrity who will give you 5 minutes, you need to be on your game 100% and not be distracted by anything other than taking the shot. That’s the reality of location photography, and it’s a reality I lived with for over ten years.

On a semi-related note, on one of my very first  USPSA stages there was a popper that needed calibrating. I had shot *maybe* two matches at that point in time, but I was the only one on my squad who was shooting 9mm factory ammo, so it was up to me to test it out. With all my squad watching me, I drew, aimed, and squeezed off one shot that hit the popper in the centre of the circle, and it fell.

My CCW instructor was on that squad with me, and he asked me why I wasn’t nervous taking that shot. I couldn’t answer him at the time, but looking back on it, I think years and years of having to make snap judgements under lots of time and pressure constraints while behind the camera has made me a little more immune to performance anxiety than most people. Maybe it will also help me when bad things happen and I need to defend my life, but I honestly hope I never find out.

The premise is wrong, therefore, the conclusions are wrong.

For the record, I like The Gunmart blog. I’ve linked to them in the past, and I’ll continue to link to them in the future.

However, this question completely misses the point of open carry:

“The exit question here is, Is open carry really a deterrent?”

No, of course not. Open carry is no more of a deterrent to crime than having a cop cruise around a neighborhood once a week. Good policing requires the police to be involved in their community, and good gun ownership requires gun owners to be good citizens first, gun owners second.

The point of open carry is that it turns the bearing of arms a normal thing, period full stop. If you want good gun laws, get good people carrying guns out into the public eye. Do you think that fact that Arizona has had the best gun laws in the country for two years running might, just might, have something to do with the fact that open carry has been legal in the state since before it was even a state?

Me too.

Open carry is not a deterrent to crime, because if you’re in a neighborhood where you need to open-carry to stop a criminal, buddy, are you ever in the wrong neighborhood. Rather, open carry is a way to show normal people (not criminals) that guns are not bad, because nice people carry guns. If you act badly with carrying a gun, expect people to think that guns are bad, because the people who have them are arrogant pr!cks and might do something bad with a gun.

The Unorganized Militia Strikes Again.

The more we learn about this latest outbreak of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome in France, the worse it gets for the authorities, and more for having a dispersed response to a dispersed threat.

“Train staff on board the high speed train which was the scene of a suspected Islamic extremist attack yesterday have been accused of barricading themselves in their staffroom and locking the door, leaving passengers to fend for themselves.”

Which, fortunately, they did, thanks to some off-duty U.S. servicemen.

US airman Spencer Stone, who on board the train during the attack, spotted the 26-year-old Moroccan acting suspiciously and heard him trying to load his weapon in the toilet.

He was travelling with Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, 22, who was on leave and travelling through Europe at the time after returning from a tour in Afghanistan.

With the help of their friend Anthony Sadler, from Pittsburg, California, and fellow passenger British IT consultant Chris Norman, they managed to wrestle the attacker to the ground, stopping what could have been a deadly terrorist attack.

A U.S. airman spotted someone acting suspiciously and heard him load up an AK in the bathroom, then clobbered him as him tried to shoot up a train.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the very definition of how situational awareness should work. Kudos to Airman Spencer and all involved, and may the train staff who ran and hid be ridiculed for the cowards they are.

Between this incident and the incident in Philly, conditioning and weapons retention training have now zoomed to the top of training priorities.

Information Is Life

I’ve attended some training classes that poo-poo the idea of “situational awareness” as if it were some kind of sooper-sekrit ninja skill that will keep you safe in any circumstance. Then they tell you what you REALLY need is the skills they teach in their class, the one that you’re paying for..

Look, I get the idea that firearms are what you use after every single thing has not worked, but still, the more information you have about what’s around you, the more you’re able to not have to use your firearms skills.

Does situational awareness work every time? No. Nothing does. Not even a Glock.

Does situational awareness keep you from having to use your Glock (or your S&W, or Sig, or Ruger…) Yep.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Awhile ago, I talked about the sharing economy and how it mimics current attitudes towards guns.

Ever since the glory days of BBS’s (kids, ask your parents about those), we’ve been deciding what personal info we will and will not share with peers and strangers online, so moving into sharing our possessions is the next logical step.

What happens when people decide to band together and volunteer to protect each other? Was the Zimmerman trial about “stand your ground”, or was it about the concept of an armed neighborhood watch? What if a company decided to “loan” trained, bonded and insured CCW holders out as personal security?

The “sharing economy” allows ordinary people to turn their consumption goods into capital goods. A strong climate of CCW and personal self-defense allows people to protect their lives with “sporting goods”. Both CCW and Über are about taking control of our lives from the central powers and moving it down the chain of command into our own hands.

Freedom is freedom, no matter where it comes from.

A positive spin on firearms training

I was noodling things a bit last week after attending a class on Florida self-defense law put on by Donald Day and Step By Step Gun Training. The class emphasized (as all good classes like this do) that retreat and de-escalizing is almost ALWAYS preferable to armed confrontation.

I realized that we when give up our “right” to be upset at the actions of others, we gain the ability to save our lives and the lives of our loved ones. 

And that’s a pretty big thing indeed.

Maybe it’s a good thing that Tracking Point went out of business

Because the same WiFi connection they use on their rifles to foist off video onto an iPad can be used to seriously mess with the aiming system of their wiz-bang rifle.

The married hacker couple have developed a set of techniques that could allow an attacker to compromise the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection and exploit vulnerabilities in its software. Their tricks can change variables in the scope’s calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope’s computer, or even prevent the gun from firing. In a demonstration for WIRED (shown in the video above), the researchers were able to dial in their changes to the scope’s targeting system so precisely that they could cause a bullet to hit a bullseye of the hacker’s choosing rather than the one chosen by the shooter.

That’s… not good, and further proof that anything that can be used to push data out can be used as a way to force data in. Security and safety should extend to your gadgets and gear, not just your firearms.