Securing the sanctuary.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” 

– Matthew 5:43-45, NIV

If nothing else, the horror in Charleston last week should prompt churches into realizing that loving your enemies and relying on God to protect you is a great idea, but relying on God and 124 grain hollowpoints is a better idea. I don’t hate my enemies, but I won’t let them destroy me, either.

If you’re a church leader, and your church does not have a disaster plan, MAKE ONE, for God’s (literal) sake. That plan should cover fire, armed intruders and whatever natural disasters are common to your region: A church in Saskatchewan probably shouldn’t worry about a hurricane, but a blizzard that traps in a congregation overnight is a very real possibility in such climes.

Have a plan. Have a backup plan, and have the means to put those plans into action.

Stuff happens, and the Gospel of Matthew tells us it happens on the righteous and unrighteous in equal amounts. Pray about it, and then deal with it.

A World of Pain

knightTemplar

I carry a gun in church, and I’ve done so for as long as I could legally carry a gun on my person.

I’ve always understood that churches are a target for the those who wish to do harm to a great number of people at one time, just like people at a movie theater are a target, or a school, or a mall.

Motive, means, and opportunity, and churches represent a big opportunity for people who wish to commit such horrors.

My heart bleeds for my brothers in Christ in South Carolina. I pray for their safety, and for the safety of believers all around the world.

And I also carry a gun in church.

On track, on target, out of touch.

There’s an unfortunate tendency in some training circles to poo-poo the idea of “situational awareness” as a defensive tool.

“Situational awareness isn’t going to work”, they say, “You WILL be surprised by an attacker, and as such, you need to be ready to react to the bad guy and take charge of the situation.”

As with most things, there is an element of truth to this. As armed civilians, we don’t go out hunting for trouble like the cops do, trouble (unfortunately) finds us, so of course we’ll most likely be reacting to a situation and need to work on dealing with our startle response.

But that doesn’t mean that situational awareness isn’t an absolutely vital part of the armed lifestyle.

Take a moment to watch this video. Yes, I know, it’s aboot hockey, but watch what happens after the interview when the participants get to spend some quality time with Lord Stanley’s Cup. Two minutes into it, one fan stays true to the task she was assigned, and spends minute after minute filling out paperwork, blissfully unaware that one her life’s greatest dreams is sitting mere feet away from her.

She had a task to perform, and that task took 100% of her attention. Nothing else mattered, all she was worried about was filling out that paperwork. The Leprechaun Liberation Army could have been in the room, waiting to perform Irish jihad on her @$$, and she would have missed them and ended up as dead as disco.

Is situational awareness cloaking shield that stops you from having anything bad happen to you?
No.
Does it help stop bad things before they happen?
Absolutely yes.

The day and the hour is unknown

Yikes. Scary stuff happening in Waco yesterday.

Gunfire erupted Sunday among rival biker gangs in Waco, Texas, leaving at least nine people dead, according to police.

Authorities had anticipated trouble and pre-positioned officers.

“There were at least three rival gang groups here this morning for whatever reason. As they were here, we had officers on scene. We expected issues,” said Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, a police spokesman.

The fight broke out at Twin Peaks restaurant and spilled into the parking lot. It quickly escalated from hands and feet, as weapons, to gunfire, Swanton said.

  1. Kudos the Waco police for being on top of the situation from the get-go.
  2. This didn’t happen at Biker Billy’s Beef N Booze Roadhouse, it happened at a Twin Peaks, a chain restaurant in the grand tradition of Hooters, Tilted Kilt, etc.
  3. If you see a bunch of cops staked out at a restaurant, DON’T GO INTO THE RESTAURANT.
  4. If you don’t see the cops and still go into the restaurant, if there a lot of bikers fingering weapons and growling menacingly, LEAVE THE RESTAURANT. There isn’t a beer in the world worth dying over.
    Well, except for Saisson Dupont, of course…
  5. Sometimes, the bear finds you. The pastor at my old church was at Bike Week in Laughlin the day this happened, and he was literally minutes away from mixed up in this mess. Have a plan to avoid everything altogether, a plan to get out, and a plan if you can’t get out.

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.

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.

Amateurs, Dilletantes and Professionals

“Amateurs discuss tactics, dilettantes discuss strategy, professionals discuss logistics”.

– Anon

Thinking more about this throwaway line from my photography post last week

… gaffer’s tape, foam core and a-clamps, because let’s face it, when you get right down to it, those are more important than the camera.

… got me thinking. I assisted for a good number of photographers in my youth, both local and national, and while all of them shot with the same brands of cameras you could find in a decently good pro shop, the difference in their photos was in what else they brought to the shoot besides their camera.

For instance, for a typical on-location corporate or editorial shoot, we’d pack up the van with a big case of lights (3’x2’x4′), 2-3 strobe power packs, a stand bag as big as a big golf bag, a tripod, a grip case the size of a medium suitcase stuffed with cords, clamps and whatnot, a cooler for film (kids, ask your parents), and another case for the cameras.

Out of the seven or eight cases on the shoot, only one held the items to actually take the shot, the rest of the equipment was about getting the environment prepared to take the shot.

Even fashion shooters, who usually eschew artificial lighting, bring along an assortment of reflectors, scrims and umbrellas designed to produce the soft, open light they need for a shot. A pro knows it’s not about the camera in your hands, it’s about controlling the light and the composition. The actual tripping of the shutter is just the last step.

So what does this have to do with guns?

Think about how many wannabes out there are CONVINCED that all they for better pictures is a new camera or a new lens, when really, all they need to do is see the light and know how to turn it into something useful.

How many wannabees out there are CONVINCED that all they need to make GM is a new magwell and more grip tape and new sights and a new holster, when all they need to do is recognize how they shoot a stage and what they need to change in themselves?

How many wannabes out there are CONVINCED that all they need to secure their family’s safety is the latest Blastomatic3000 heater, when really, all they need to do is pay attention to their surroundings, don’t do dumb things with dumb people and carry their gun in a safe, secure holster on a good gun belt?

It’s not your gear that’s the limitation, it’s what you do with it and what you see that is holding you back.

As Dave Barry Might Say…

Florida Man“.

A Land O’ Lakes man faces a manslaughter charge after he allegedly tried to shoot a bucket from a man’s head — but missed, killing him.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, the whole thing started Sunday evening outside the Rock Harley Saloon in Land O’ Lakes. They say Billy Lee McDaniel was undergoing an initiation into the Southern Sons Motorcycle Club — an act that apparently involved holding a plastic bucket above his head while club members threw cups and bottles into it.

That’s when, deputies say, Jeffrey Camarda tried to shoot the bucket from McDaniel’s head, but missed and hit him in the head instead.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

I should have read this four years ago, but I couldn’t.

Because, sadly, the tactical training community doesn’t think like this.

When I was just beginning this blog (and my journey towards the firearms industry, I noticed that there was a gap between what I was being taught and what I needed. In all my tactical classes, in all my competitions, in everything I could find about personal defense (unarmed or not), it was about me dealing with a threat, or me dealing with the after effects of dealing with a threat, or me doing something else.

It was all about me. The fact is, however, as a married man with a family, it’s not about me, it’s about my family. I have a blowout kit nearby not only for myself, but also because I want my family to survive the use of deadly force if (God forbid) I need to use it. I’m not doing this just because I want to live (I do), I’m doing this because this I want me AND my loved ones to live.

And I know I’m not alone in this. You’d think that tactical instructors would realize that their ideal target market (middle-aged professionals) are concerned about protecting all they hold dear and stress training that covers not just the person in the classroom, but the people they know as well.

And you’d be wrong. Finally, though, that’s starting to change.

Defensive training and practice typically involve one person alone against single or multiple assailants. But most of our lives, we are with other people. The difference between training/practicing alone and working with others leaves a significant hole in our capabilities until we practice to fill that void.

Critically look at how having a partner would alter your response to a defensive incident. “Partner” can mean any number of different people: spouse or significant other, a small child, or an elderly parent. Each type of partner can impose different considerations on your tactics, techniques and procedures.

Read the whole thing because it is, quite frankly, the first thing I’ve found that lays out the steps a family needs to stay safe, beyond just recommending both parents get a gun and train as a team. Arming my wife is just not an option for me right now, but now I have a path I can follow to help my family stay safe. It may have taken four years to get here, but at least I’ve arrived.