Defeating the “Legal Fear Mongering” with Concealed Carry

CCL

I have had a lot of students, friends and associates email me recently about how best to be prepared for the legal ramifications AFTER a justified shooting while carrying your concealed carry weapon in Texas or elsewhere. The George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case once again brought this important issue to light, if not created an Atmosphere of Fear over carrying and eventually USING a weapon to defend yourself. Part of this Fear Mongering has no doubt had it’s beginnings from the left side of the fence, with our Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama leading the charge, once again attempting their assault on American’s Right to Keep and Bear Arms and specifically honing in on the “Stand your Ground” statutes in Florida and elsewhere.

First of all guys, you have to understand as in any War, (and please understand WE ARE currently engaged in a WAR of IDEALS with those elements in our society and Government who seek to disarm us in the name of Political Correctness) you will always have the “Psychological Operations”  (or “Psy-Ops” for short) element in Play. This includes the systematic manipulation of the mass media and all other forms of mass communication (internet, radio, TV) with propaganda meant to demoralize, dissuade and fundamentally CHANGE the enemy’s value and belief system from wanting to continue the fight.

The fundamental message behind most propaganda meant to dissuade or stop certain behavior is almost always FEAR based. To prove this point, go to any CCL Online forum and browse back to when the Zimmerman/Martin case started and you will see what I mean. If People did not realize that the REAL FIGHT in a self-defense encounter really begins after the shots have been fired and the threat is over, they did now. Add to this the political agenda attached to this case by the NAACP, Eric Holder and President Obama (who by extension are continuing their fight to disarm America) and folks realized if they got into the wrong situation, this could be them all over again. And so the fear began and the vultures began to circle.

Anytime you have fear mongering on a large-scale, you are always going to have people (aka vultures) trying to cash in on that fear. There were a multitude of “companies”, “organizations” and “alliances” that popped up soon after the trial began offering anything from legal advice to a “Self-defense insurance policy” for lawyers, bail and even grief counseling. Now I am not one to try to give financial advice to anybody, but I think I am safe here in saying there are better things you could spend your money on to prepare for a self-defense trial.

So all that being said, let’s set aside the fear tactics currently being employed and get down to brass tacks on how to prepare for “the fight after the fight”.

oh shit

Number one, don’t wait for the “oh shit” moment (as above) to find a lawyer! Find yourself a good trial lawyer NOW and put them on retainer. Find somebody with self-defense trial experience and a good “not guilty” or “acquittal” record. Keep open communication with him/her. Ask them questions…grill them frequently, make your money work for you! Remember knowledge is power, and somebody with trial experience is going to not only know the law, but also know what local District Court judges and juries like and dislike when it comes to Self-Defense Trials.

Number Two, don’t fall into the “Political Correctness Trap” of always worrying how something will “look” to someone else, thinking that will help if you have to shoot somebody trying to harm you or your family! Whether worrying about if your weapon has had too many modifications, or if that firearms class you took last year was such a good ideal…leave the “spinning” of your character to your lawyer, (trust me, the prosecution will be doing the same for their client, so don’t feel bad!) that is his job. Bottom line, let these two words drive everything you do concerning Firearms, Self-Defense Training and how you conduct yourself on the street and you will be fine:  Good Judgement, Responsibility and Self-Control.

In closing guys, the bottom line is you have to understand and believe that GUNS SAVE LIVES, that is why you carry one 24/7..it is not just something you “do” because it looks cool, it is a mentality and a lifestyle. A lifestyle that many people despise and want to see done away with..why? Because when people are armed, they cannot be controlled easily..they can rebel, they can fight. You see, when you are armed, you are a CITIZEN, when you are not, you are just a SUBJECT.

Remember the words of a really smart dude who said: “When cops only have guns, that  is called a POLICE STATE!!”

Consider the words of J.G.A. Peacock who said: “The Bearing of Arms is the essential medium through which the individual asserts both his SOCIAL POWER and his Participation in Politics as a Responsible MORAL BEING.”

Stay Armed, Stay Dangerous and Carry 24/7 or Guess Right!!

The Fallacy of the “Panic Room”

(It has been brought to my attention by some LE Friends and Family that this article generalizes the shortcoming of Law Enforcement too much, therefore, I have made some revisions to clarify my points..I support all LEO’s and the job they do everyday..the point of this article was not to denigrate them, but raise awareness that a person’s personal and home Security is their OWN Responsibility..not any Local, State or Federal Agency. The 2nd amendment is a privilege, not just a right…let us never forget that.)

 

 

Behind every popular, hip cultural term (and Hollywood Movie starring Jodie Foster) today is an Idealogy that drives it. Let me say from the jump that in writing this article I am not shooting down the “IDEAL” of the Panic Room as a logical response for the Civilian Operator when confronted with a burglary, home invasion or other SHTF situation. What I am attacking as a fallacy is the “IDEALOGY” that drives the Panic Room craze, ie;  when something goes wrong, Lock Your self  in a room, call 911 and hope the Police will get there in time.

This, in the authors humble opinion, is a symptom of the “Nanny State” mentality that has been vigorously promoted in the past 4 years by our fine leadership at the local, state and federal levels.  No need to worry about anything, Big Brother has your best interest at heart, so when some crack head, knocks down your door and wants to rape your 12 year old daughter and sodomize your 8 year old son, we want you to run like a scared little girl to your titanium enforced vault and call the Police. Wow. Why doesn’t the powers that be just hand out cyanide tablets and tell people anytime they feel threatened, eat this. It would be much more humane, don’t you think? No, the humane thing to do would be to promote civil responsibility and 2nd amendment rights..it YOUR job to protect YOU and your family, not the County, City, State or Government. Gee, I think I read that somewhere in a document dated 1791, the Bill of Rights??

The concept of establishing a fixed, secure position to defend yourself and your family is solid defensive thinking, and can be qualified with solid military dogma dating back hundreds of years. The concept of hiding and hope the Police will save your skin, is not. Unfortunately, one can do a quick google search and find some very disconcerting stories to qualify this point also. I think I have expressed this as clearly and bluntly as I know how, so let’s start expanding on what WE SHOULD DO when trouble comes a knocking.

First of all, it is beyond the scope of this article to cover all the possible scenarios that might drive a person to “Hunker down” and defend their home and family. Currently I am working on a very in-depth 3 part article entitled “Defending the Castle” that will cover those topics.  That being said, I will assume for this scenario, things have gotten out of hand, you are armed with a firearm you are proficient with and you have decided to collect your family and retreat to a pre-selected area that offers the following (we will discuss these in detail):

  • Hard Line or Cell Phone Service
  • Rear Security
  • Hard Cover
  • Clear Fields of Fire & Background
  • Escape Route

Communication: Make sure you have either a hard-line or cell phone service where you decide to make your stand; there are some that say you should not depend on a hard-line, because a “professional burglar” will cut your telephone line since most burglar alarms are connected through them..Once again, I am not going to go down that path in this particular article to refute that, because although that logic is going in the right direction, it is nieve. Suffice to say make sure you either have a hard-line available or get good reception with your cell in your safe room.

Just because SOME police departments are notoriously late and/or a no-show when called in an emergency does not mean we should not call them. There are several reasons for this, the most important is to cover yourself legally in case things go south while defending your property and life. Again, for the sake of time, it will be suffice to say “Just Call Them” and report the situation, but be cautious in what you say. Take into account, the 911 tape will be the prosecutions Number one piece of evidence against you if this incident goes to trial.

Rear Security in this situation simply means “Watching your Ass”, or,  putting your back to a solid wall or area that cannot be breached easily. If you are using a bedroom for instance as a safe room or “Fall Back Position”, and there is only one entrance into the room, placing your back a Foot (12 inches) or more away from the opposite wall across from the door is sufficient. Without going into more detail than this article will allow, bullets follow walls; more on that later.  Avoid Windows, doors and sliding glass doors obviously; If there is more than one person that is armed in your group and for whatever reason, you have to fall back to a room with more than one entrance, (which is highly un-advisable) that person can act as “rear security” and guard that door…We will expand on this quite a bit in the Castle article on integrating small unit tactics and using  security elements; we will also explain choosing a safe room with a single, natural “choke point” to avoid having to guard two zones.

I get asked this quite a bit and the easy answer is Hard Cover is something that would stop or slow down a bullet..STOP being the primary word. Be creative here, but be smart. The most logical choice in most domestic scenarios is a hardwood dresser or night stand; these are typically constructed out of solid hard wood and will act as a good barrier. I have heard people promote using mattresses or box springs for this, and although that might work well in a tornado or hurricane, these would make poor bullet stops. The other principal you are trying to accomplish here besides something to take cover behind is something that would slow down the bad guy in the event the bad guy makes the mistake of trying to breach your safe room. Of course, for this scenario, the heavier and bigger, the better but adding the very important caveat that if the object is so big and heavy the woman of the house could not move it herself, it is a moot point. Plan accordingly.

Clear fields of fire and background is a Two part challenge: Having clear “Fields of Fire” is simply making sure your safe room gives you ample space and a clear lane to make a shot if need be. Choosing an architecturally advantageous position that creates a natural “Choke Point” or “Funnel” is recommended. Hallways are my favorite, but we will discuss this at length later on.  The second and most important factor in choosing a “Shooting Lane” is considering your background. We always think that in a life or death struggle, we will always shoot like Rob Latham, hit our target and take down the bad guy. This, unfortunately is not always reality. When under stress, people miss and bullets have to go somewhere. Considering the caliber of your weapon and the bullet type you have in the gun at the time, even if you do HIT the BG, bullets have a tendency to keep going through all types of medium. We need to give sufficient thought to this. Here is the short list to consider:

  • Head Count. Having your entire family accounted for in the safe room. Of course, Murphy’s Law is always active, so in the event you do not have a head count and still have to engage the BG, the second point is very IMPORTANT. In these types of situations, there is no such thing as “FRIENDLY FIRE”.
  • Firearm and Bullet selection. This is an expansive subject and we will cover it in-depth in Protecting your Castle. For purposes of this article and scenario, Hollow Points or Frangible ammunition are the best choice. As for Firearm choice, I will make it simple and tell you as long as you are not using a RPG , that will not only kill the intruder, but your next door neighbor and his cat, we can work with it.

The escape route is simply a way to evacuate the structure from your safe room. Ideally, You DO NOT want to have to leave your safe room to escape; but of course Mr. Murphy will never allow that to be written in stone.  This will typically be a window, but could also be something such as an attic or cellar also. Any alternate route that allows you to escape quickly. This goes hand in parcel with your pre-planned “Action” plan you should have gone over with your entire family and practiced exhaustively to not only include an Intruder, but any SHTF situation such as fire or tornado for example. Of course inevitably this brings up the obvious question: “If someone is really trying to harm you or your family, why not just escape at the first sign of trouble??” This requires a lengthy (and legal response) so stay with me for the answer.

As I said before, this article was written really as a prologue to the article currently in it’s infancy entitled “Protecting your Castle”. I wanted to get your minds in the right gear and wet your appetites a little. Between now and then, make good use of your time and study your States Self-Defense statutes. This includes the Penal Code and Code of Criminal  Procedure. Although I would read all of it, pay close attention to PC 9.31-9.44.  For my fellow Texans, that can be found HERE.

Botched ATM Robbery Vid

Although I would never tell anybody to do this, since money is never worth dying over, this guy took the initiative and made the perp idiot pay for not paying attention! The Robbery was botched and the perp arrested a short time after.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=8ea_1332618406

 

The Discretionary Mindset

With the recent headlines of the neighborhood watch shooting of Treyvon Martin by Martin Zimmerman in Sanford Florida, I thought it pertinent to touch upon the topic of discretion in relation to Concealed Carry and personal defense. Since the gun-prohibitionist movement wants to use this case to demonize ALL people who carry concealed firearms, I will be commenting on what we need to do as RESPONSIBLE gun owners and Concealed Carry License Holders to combat the type of behavior Mr. Zimmerman exhibited that night, as documented in the Sanford PD report. The bottom line is Zimmerman was within his legal means OWNING and CARRYING the weapon, but not how he USED the weapon. This I believe is a training and education issue that each individual concealed gun owner needs to address. We will reverse engineer this scenario and discuss in detail how we do that.

Firstly, let’s define Discretion from Webster’s:

“Quality of being discreet; careful in speech and conduct; prudent, cautious.”

I am going to start out with a credo that was taught to me when I first started carrying a gun concealed. These three basics are taught to Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) and security personnel worldwide. They are simple and easy to remember:

  • Avoidance:  Stay Away from Stupid People and Stupid Places and DO NOT Start Fights (“Rambo Syndrome”).

  • Deterrence: The act of detouring bad behavior

  • De-Escalation: If a fight starts, try to walk away at all cost from it and eat your pride, because if you have the only gun in the fight, on moral grounds alone, you are required to use more DISCRETION than the other guy because ultimately, you have the option of LETHAL FORCE if certain criteria are met.

Since we are using someone’s bad example of what NOT TO DO, the blatantly simple ideal of not starting confrontations needs to be discussed.

Most all States self-defense penal codes are clear on “Verbal provocation never being justified grounds for force against another“(Texas PC 9.31). Simply put, a civilian confronting somebody on suspicion (because of the type of clothing they are wearing for instance) or verbal accusations alone, is pure stupidity and NEVER legally constitutes USE OF FORCE.

People notice what type of clothing you are wearing, as we have already discussed in a previous article. Often first impressions of people are often deduced from the type of clothing alone and not their actions.

We need to exercise EXTREME caution in this area, both in how we dress and how we perceive others, as this is one of the factors that got Zimmerman in trouble.   The “Rambo Syndrome” typically stems from people who think they are the self-appointed “law enforcement” in their community or neighborhood.

Trayvon Martin

Let me be clear on this: If you don’t have a badge, you are not a cop. Don’t be a Hero! Report the crime (or suspicious behavior) and let the police do their jobs. Even if they fall short in this area, let the blame squarely rest on their shoulders and not yours. Be Smart and objective, not hotheaded and trigger happy. As a sidebar to this warning I will also say being “level headed” does not mean being STUPID and depend on the Police to protect you when some crack head has beat down your door and entered your home…the laws regarding Use of Force are not rocket science guys, just read them frequently and if you are not clear on them, have your lawyer explain it to you.

Deterrence can be readily defined as:

“The act of making someone decide not to do something. The act of preventing a particular act or behavior from happening.”

Although it is a hotly debated topic whether firearm carry laws actually deter or stop violent crime, anybody who is willing to look at the statistics honestly must give CCL some credit for the reduction in crime I feel. Although the actual numbers vary, since each state issue those statistics seperately. Texas for instance between the years of 1994 and 2008 had a reduction in violent crime of 6,274 and 648  homicides. I believe Carrying a gun legally deters crime. The more people who have a CCL, the better off we are as a nation.  The case in question in Florida is the exception and not the rule IMO. It is simply a case of a person who was poorly trained and overly enthusiastic to “fight crime”.  A very wise man once told me “Never confuse ENTHUSIASM for CAPABILITY.” Words to live by.

De-Escalation can be defined:

“To decrease the size, scope, or intensity of  a conflict (a war, for example).”

Once you have tried all the above and you still find yourself in a situation where violence is about to occur, your last obligation is try to diffuse the situation by all means. The two areas to diffuse are  language and gesture. If you have ever been in a fight, the verbal part of it, on both sides, is often the final straw.  We have to be the adult here and swallow our ego. We can start off by saying “I don’t want to fight, please, just leave me alone…I am walking away.”

Say this LOUDLY and within EARSHOT of any bystanders. While doing this, put your hands in a non-threatening posture, above your waist, but in a position where you can defend yourself and access your weapon.  Never take your eyes off your attacker; find a clear route of escape and start making your way there. If the “hostile party” wants to block your escape, now we have entered an area that technically (and legally) can be defined as Assault, and we need to now cross the bridge of taking action.

 Always consider the flip side of this coin also; are YOU, by your immediate actions, PROVOKING the other party? Zimmerman gave chase to Martin after being advised not to do so by the PD Dispatcher. Take into account this was at night and Zimmerman was yelling commands and expletives while running after him. This clearly is not “Standing your Ground” as set forth in the Florida Penal Code, so was use of force justified? We will come back to that.

Granted, we do not yet know the full story or Martin’s motives during this time, but put yourself in Martin’s shoes at that moment; you are holding a soda and a bag of candy walking down the street and a stranger starts chasing and yelling at you at night, would you be on the defensive? Would you react to defend your life?

When we reverse engineer a tragedy like this, we can readily identify where doing ONE thing differently could have changed the outcome and  POSSIBLY made the difference between life and death. That one thing in this scenario is Zimmerman chasing Martin.

When we look at the Penal Code Statute, as soon as Martin fled, Zimmerman was obligated to stop; it was no longer a Use of Force Situation. When Zimmerman pursued, he was “PROVOKING” Martin (Texas PC 9.32) and therefore, in the authors opinion from all the information available, Zimmerman  WAS NOT justified in the Use of DEADLY FORCE.

We would be amiss here not to discuss the use of “less than lethal” options as a deterrent and de-escalation tactic. Having this tool in your toolbox could prove invaluable when lethal force is not yet needed. Since the laws of each State vary dramatically in this area, I am going to once again, add this caveat:

Check with your local and State laws before carrying any device! This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for training by a qualified and licensed instructor.

The primary less than lethal option that I would consider is Pepper Spray or OC. In Texas, it clearly states in Penal Code Section 46 (14) a small Chemical Dispensing Device for personal protection is legal. A small 2 oz can of OC can easily fit into your front pocket or a key chain, which I recommend since your keys are with you 24/7.

Just like any other weapon, you need to realize the potential of harm that OC can inflict and you need to practice with it as often as you practice with your gun. The only way to realize the potential is to get sprayed, just like cops do in Police Academies across the nation. You also need to buy a few “inert” (harmless) cans to practice with. We will be doing an in-depth piece on OC coming up, so I will not go into the specifics of training here. Please visit our store for OC that we would recommend and also some excellent non-lethal training DVD’s.

In closing, there is no doubt that the recent shooting in FL was a tragedy. A young man was shot and killed due to another man’s poor judgment. Sadly, poor judgment shoots are more common in Law Enforcement than in Concealed Carry cases, but never the less, in either case, the subject of TRAINING and EDUCATION needs to be openly discussed. I am aware that Hindsight is always 20/20 and “tactical quarterbacking” situations like these can be unfair, but we have to learn from these debacles if we are not going to repeat them. I am not an advocate of the State’s or Federal government re-examining Florida’s Concealed Carry laws and instituting tighter restrictions or training, ultimately making it harder for somebody to get a CCL by more bureaucratic intrusion. The last thing this country needs more of  is bigger Government telling us how to live our lives.

I am an advocate of more PERSONAL responsibility in Concealed Carry License holders seeking more open source training for themselves and also being Educated on all of their State’s specific Personal Defense STATUTES. Knowing what “Stand your Ground” and “No Duty to Retreat” really means is every CCL holder’s responsibility.

Texas Penal Code Section 9.32(c)

“A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against who the deadly force is used and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is NOT REQUIRED TO RETREAT BEFORE USING DEADLY FORCE AS DESCRIBED BY THIS SECTION.”

Most States Concealed Carry License Class only teach the fundamentals and is never intended to be the ONLY training the licensee receives. I always tell new license holders…”Always budget for a GOOD Advanced Concealed Carry Class from a reputable teacher after you get your CCL… A good gun is useless without a GOOD plan.”

We can never prepare for all the eventualities in life. We can only train for the worst and hope for the best. But make no mistake, when you legally carry a gun, you are  making a choice to always take the moral high ground, meaning you have to be the one to know the LAW regarding self-defense, exercise self-control, good judgment and a cool head, without exception. You owe it to yourself and your family to train regularly and educate yourself to NOT get into the type of situation that happened in Sanford, FL.

Stay Safe and Stay Dangerous!