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  • 4 Ethical Lessons of Bearing Arms

    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... (Historian J.G.A. Pocock, describing the beliefs of the founders of the U.S.)

    There is nothing like having your finger on the trigger of a gun to reveal who you really are. Life or death in one twitch — ultimate decision, with the ultimate price for carelessness or bad choices.

    It is a kind of acid test, an initiation, to know that there is lethal force in your hand and all the complexities and ambiguities of moral choice have fined down to a single action: fire or not?

    In truth, we are called upon to make life-or-death choices more often than we generally realize. Every political choice ultimately reduces to a choice about when and how to use lethal force, because the threat of lethal force is what makes politics and law more than a game out of which anyone could opt at any time.

    But most of our life-and-death choices are abstract; their costs are diffused and distant. We are insulated from those costs by layers of institutions we have created to specialize in controlled violence (police, prisons, armies) and to direct that violence (legislatures, courts). As such, the lessons those choices teach seldom become personal to most of us.

    Nothing most of us will ever do combines the moral weight of life-or-death choice with the concrete immediacy of the moment as thoroughly as the conscious handling of instruments deliberately designed to kill. As such, there are lessons both merciless and priceless to be learned from bearing arms — lessons which are not merely instructive to the intellect but transformative of one's whole emotional, reflexive, and moral character.

    The first and most important of these lessons is this: it all comes down to you.

    This is the beginning of a short but thoughtful essay on the ethical nature of owning or carrying a firearm by Eric S. Raymond.

    When it comes to firearms, most of us focus on the purely practical most of the time. We talk about caliber. We ask questions about law. We train on tactics. This is as it should be since guns are practical tools.

    However, if you take on the responsibility of knowing how to use a firearm for self defense, it doesn't hurt to think a little more deeply about that responsibility. This essay suggests four ethical lessons every gun owner should know and it's worth the few minutes it will take you to read it.

    From our friends at Second Call Defense...

  • Your Tactical Training Scenario…Robbed While Doing Yard Work
    by Greg Ellifritz

    Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were attacked while outside doing yardwork? Most people working in their yards aren’t expecting criminal violence. That makes them a good target for predatory criminals.

    A man in Florida was confronted by two teen-aged robbers as he was cutting some branches in his yard. The two boys pulled a gun and tried to take the man’s gold chain. He fought back, but he was unsuccessful. He ended up hit by three bullets. The robbers are still at large. Read more about the story at the link below.

    Thieves shoot man for gold chain

    What would you do if you were approached by a criminal while doing yardwork? Here are a couple questions to ask yourself:

    1) Do you carry any weapons while working outside? For those of you who carry guns, a .38 snub revolver makes a lightweight and handy “yard gun”. If you don’t want to carry a firearm, at least consider a knife or pepper spray whenever you leave your house. You may also consider mounting a weapon to your lawn mower for convenience. A large machete or axe wouldn’t look out of place.

    2) Are there improvised weapons you can use? This homeowner attempted to cut the robber’s hand off with a pair of limb cutters. He wasn’t successful, but at least he was thinking on his feet enough to utilize what he had in his hand to defend himself. If you are using power tools like chain saws, weed whackers, or hedge trimmers, resist the urge to turn them off if you are approached by a stranger. The criminal will likely pretend he can’t hear you and motion for you to power down your equipment. Don’t do it. Most power tools make excellent improvised weapons.

    3) Do you carry a communications device with you while outside? I don’t personally care for constantly carrying my cell phone, but I can appreciate their role if you are attacked or injured and can’t make it back inside your house.

    4) Do you normally wear headphones when doing yard work? Recognize that the sounds of power equipment or music can reduce your ability to detect an attacker’s approach. Be certain to remain extra vigilant visually if your sense of hearing is diminished.

    5) What do you do to secure your house while you are outside? I once had someone steal a mountain bike from my garage while I was mowing the grass in the back of my house. I had left the garage door up and the bike was easy pickings for the thief. He could have just as easily gone inside my house, as the door from the garage was unlocked as well. It makes a lot of sense to shut and lock exterior doors to your house whenever you are not in their direct line of sight or preoccupied. If you leave your house unlocked, do you have a plan to deal with an attacker who surprises you when you finally finish your work and go back inside? What would you do if you saw someone running from your house or garage while carrying some of your possessions?

    I hate yard work as much as anyone else. The only thing worse than mowing grass is getting robbed while your are mowing grass! Work through these issues so that you are alive to enjoy the cold beer you’ve earned after all your hard work!

    Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master's degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute.

    For more information or to contact Greg, visit his training site at Active Response Training.

  • Things to consider when triggering a lockdown
    by Greg Ellifritz

    Many of you who have been reading my work for a long time recognize that I have been vocally critical of the “lockdown” process in the past, especially in the case of school shootings.  While I have been critical, I don’t have any problem with the idea of lockdown itself….I just think that poorly implemented lockdowns will cause more student deaths than other available response strategies in an active killer event.

    Lockdowns can work well and have saved lives in the past.  They work best when the following criteria are met:

    1. A fast responding police intervention
    2. The rooms the students are using for lockdown are truly capable of being secured
    3. There is an escape route in the lockdown location
    4. Teachers have planned and trained to deal with unexpected contingencies (like breaches, fires, explosions, and medical emergencies)

    Lockdowns could be a good solution for responding to a school shooter if all of the above criteria are met.  But I rarely see a school that covers all of those bases.  The usual response is to lock down in a room that can’t be well secured and has no emergency exits.  It is a rare school district that properly trains and equips its staff to deal with emergency contingencies.  Furthermore, the idea of a school lockdown in a district that has a 20-30 minute police response time is laughable.  Cops won’t get there in time to save the students.  Locking then down merely concentrates all of the victims into convenient areas, allowing the killer to “shoot fish in a barrel.”

    If all of my above criteria are met, I think lockdowns are an excellent response.  If they aren’t, lockdowns can lead to more dead students and school staff.

    Despite my thoughts on the topic, lockdowns remain the single most popular response tactic that schools use to deal with an active killer.  I recognize that I am not likely to change that fact.  If we are going to have lockdowns, we need to do them right.

    Triggering the lockdown has been a contentious issue.  Who has the authority to trigger a lockdown?  What procedure is used to notify staff and students?  Who has the authority to break a lockdown?  Are the triggering words broadcast is plain language, or is a code used?  All of these are questions that need to be examined before relying on lockdown as a defensive strategy.

    Most schools will trigger a lockdown with a verbal announcement over the school’s PA system.  Some schools don’t want to alert the killer as to what is happening, so they use a code word.  Principals will get on the PA system and say something like “Code Red.  Code Red.”  Students and teachers are instructed to secure classroom doors and seek cover if they hear the announcement.

    The use of code words is becoming problematic.  There are two major problems with non-specific lockdown instructions:

    1. Students are exposed to other schools of thought on the issue.  With the “Run.Hide Fight.” strategy being promulgated by various government agencies, students may choose to flee (rather than locking down) in the event a lockdown is triggered.  That might be a good tactic.  It might be fatal.  It depends on the situation.
    2. Lockdowns are triggered for other reasons besides school shooters.  “Soft lockdowns” are triggered when there is a dangerous situation outside nearby (like a fleeing armed robber in the area).  Lockdown is also used when a parent attempts to enter a school to take custody of his or her child outside of the bounds of a custody agreement.  In both of these locations, a fleeing student might be exposed to more danger than one who follows the lockdown instructions.

    Lockdown triggering should not be coded.  We need differing response options for differing risks.  The lockdown should be announced by a person of authority.  That person should use plain language and explain exactly what he/she wants the students and staff to do.  A simple “Code Red” is no longer adequate.

    A proper lockdown command should sound something like this:

    “An armed robber has been reported outside the school.  At this point, all exterior doors should be locked and students should seek shelter in the nearest secure classroom.  No one should exit the building until an “all clear” is given by police.”


    “Someone is shooting students in the East wing.  All students should flee via the west doorways and seek shelter.  If anyone cannot flee, they should secure themselves in the closest classroom.  The police are responding.  Get out of the building or keep your doors locked until an all clear announcement is given by police.  If students are injured, staff should notify the authorities via 911.”

    Do you see how such specific instruction is more valuable than any generic code word?  Code words can be forgotten.  Plain language is what we want to use for maximum efficiency in a crisis.

    Any school shooter already knows that as soon as shots are fired, a lockdown will be triggered.  You aren’t fooling anyone with your fancy codes.  Provide specific clear instructions that are tailored to the expected threats.  Don’t rely on any cryptic code words.

    If you work in an office, how is your lockdown triggered?  What about your child’s school?  Is lockdown in plain language or triggered by a code?  If it is a code, your school or employer has not kept up with the best practices in active shooter response.

    Provide them with a copy of this article.  Encourage them to change their outdated procedures.  Our kids deserve better.

    Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master's degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute.

    For more information or to contact Greg, visit his training site at Active Response Training.

  • May 2016 firearms sales jump 1.1% over prior year
    by Chad D. Baus

    After several months of increased sales of firearms following the December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernadino, CA and President Obama's ongoing attempts to intimidate peaceable gun owners through executive actions, May saw a more modest increase from the previous year.

    The May 2016 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 928,532 is an increase of 1.1 percent compared to the May 2015 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 918,707. For comparison, the unadjusted May 2016 FBI NICS figure of 1,860,699 reflects an 18.4 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 1,570,893 in May 2015.

    The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks used by several states such as Connecticut, Illinois, and Utah for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases.

    Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide a more accurate picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions of firearms sales and transfers on new and used handguns and long guns.

    Now that another terrorist attack is dominating the airwaves, and with Obama, Clinton and their Democrat friends in Congress and the Senate seeking to blame American gun owners instead of jihadists, there is little doubt that sales numbers and concealed handgun license applications will continue on the rapid pace that have become common in the Obama years.

    Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

  • Reacting to The Threat of/from Orlando
    by Jim Shepherd

    [In the short time] after the Orlando murders, the battle lines have been drawn. And the coming fight over even more legislation to regulate the law-abiding citizen (criminals are never bothered by laws) has apparently driven some legislators mad as hatters.

    In California, Senator Isadore Hall called gun owners "crazy, vicious and heartless". He doubled down and said if you were a gun owner you were responsible for the attack in Orlando and had (I'm not making this up) "a dirty, filthy mouth that needs to be washed with soap."


    Kudos to the Firearms Policy Coalition of California for sending their lobbyist Craig DeLuz by Senator Hall's office with a note - and a bar of soap.

    Now, they're offering gun owners the chance to sign a petition that calls him out for his comments, saying "Your disingenuous statements about gun owners are totally ridiculous. It is 'crazy, vicious and heartless' to blame gun owners for a terrorist attack. You should immediately retract your statements!" (Their petition is online at:https://www.firearmspolicy.org/alerts/fight-the-senator-who-called-gun-o...)

    Gotta give it to the FPC, they're not backing down, even from apparently overwrought politicians. 

    Meanwhile, in Washington the push by anti-gun members of Congress is - finally- getting some pushback. After a 15-hour filibuster by Connecticut's Senator Chris Murphy failed to drive a vote on measures intended to ban anyone on the no-fly list from buying a firearm, other senators are finally speaking up to defend the Constitution. Personally, I liked Kentucky Senator (and Majority Leader) Mitch McConnel's description of the filibuster as a "campaign talk-a-thon" that did nothing but delay votes on real legislative matters.

    Texas Sen. John Cornyn introduced what has been called a "dueling measure" that would delay a gun sale to anyone on those lists for up to 72 hours, but require prosecutors to go to court and show probable cause to block the sale permanently.

    New York Sen. Chuck Schuler described that bill as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" that would allow "every terrorist to get a gun". 

    Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon called Cornyn's legislation a "smokescreen". 

    Cornyn responded pretty directly, calling that response "an incredibly ignorant thing to say," going on to say, "That anyone can be denied their constitutional rights without due process of law and without the government coming forward and establishing probable cause, that's simply un-American."

    Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas also have legislation working that would notify law enforcement if anyone investigated for terrorism in the past five years tried to buy a gun- along with other measures. In response to the Democratic measures, Cruz said he found it "ridiculous that in response to an ISIS terror attack, the Democrats go on high dudgeon that we've got to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."

    "This," he said, "is not a gun control issue, it's a terrorism issue."

    The Justice Department has said it supports those measures, despite FBI Director James Comey saying those bans could alert terrorists they are being investigated.

    Meanwhile, as Congress plays politics with terrorism, CIA Director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence committee yesterday that U.S. led efforts to strike at ISIS have not hampered it's "terrorism capability and global reach". Brennan went on to tell the committee that, despite pressure on core groups in Iraq and Syria, the group continues to work on ways to infiltrate operatives into the West including "refugee groups, smuggling routes and legitimate methods of travel."

    Around the rest of the country, pro-gun groups are reaching out to LBGT communities. In Ohio, the Buckeye Firearms Association is offering free self-defense class for residents of central Ohio, although the event is actually called "introduction to Self Defense with a Firearm". 

    "We're saddened by the tragic murders in Orlando," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of BFA. "But we're also angry. While we still don't know all the details, our understanding is that apart from one off-duty police officer, it was illegal for anyone in the Pulse nightclub to carry a firearm for self-defense.

    "News reports indicate that many people were trapped with no clear exit and no means of defending themselves. The advice in these situations is to run, hide, or fight. Unfortunately, in this given situation, many people had nowhere to run or hide. And they had no practical way to fight."

    Rieck says this has nothing to do with politics, but everything to do with having options for personal safety. "I know this is a hot button issue and people have widely different opinions about guns. But it is our view that no matter who you are, you should have the freedom to choose how to respond in a life-or-death situation.

    As we're checking in with our industry contacts around the country, it seems average Americans aren't counting on the government when it comes to either their safety or their individual rights. 

    Checks with independent gun dealers around the country show that the once-again demonized AR-style rifles are disappearing off store shelves. Unlike those disappearing guns at Academy Sports and Outdoors, however, those others around the country are being snapped up by consumers, not hidden by corporate instruction.

    And just when you thought it was possible to see ammunition once again back to respectable levels, we're hearing reports of runs on ammo in all the "usual" calibers. 

    Hopefully, things will calm down this weekend. Regardless, we'll keep you posted.

    Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

  • Hey New York Times...What “Strong Case” for Gun Registration?

    Most guns aren’t registered, most gun owners aren’t licensed, and firearm-related violent crime is at nearly an all-time low, but in the New York Times [recently], gun control supporter Alan Berlow claimed that “the case for registration and licensing is stronger now than ever.”

    The rest of Berlow’s theory is just as illogical. Berlow says that because the federal government hasn’t confiscated the fully-automatic firearms, “short”-barreled rifles and shotguns, and suppressors (“silencers”) that are registered under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), it wouldn’t confiscate other firearms, if they were registered in the future.

    As for what other firearms Berlow thinks should be registered, in 2012 he wrote, “many easily obtainable semi-automatic weapons, including many designed for use by the military, are no less dangerous, and in many cases far more dangerous, than the guns covered by the ’34 National Firearms Act (NFA). Yet no licensing or registration is required. The ’34 law should be updated with assault rifles and many other highly lethal weapons brought under its purview.”

    For the record and for the umpteenth time, the semi-automatic rifles that gun control supporters call “assault rifles” are not designed for military use; military service rifles are capable of fully-automatic fire. And Berlow’s idea, first advocated by the Violence Policy Center in 2003, that semi-automatic rifles are “far more dangerous” than selective-fire rifles used by the military is just plain silly.

    So is Berlow’s NFA argument. For starters, the federal government has never attempted to confiscate firearms registered under the NFA because, before any confiscation effort could begin, gun control supporters would have to convince Congress and the president to ban the possession of NFA guns. And thus far, gun control supporters have focused their gun-prohibition campaigns on other, more common categories of guns.

    Handguns, for example. In the 1970s, the Brady Campaign, then called the National Council to Control Handguns, said, “There are now 40 million handguns owned by private individuals in the United States . . . . [T]he number could build to 100 million by the year 2000 . . . . The consequences can be terrible to imagine—unless something is done.” It said, “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition—except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors—totally illegal.”

    We’re willing to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to anyone who thinks that the Brady Campaign wouldn’t resume its campaign against handguns, if such a campaign appeared to have a significant chance of success. And lest any of Berlow’s readers think that his record-keeping interest is limited to owners of AR-15s and other detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles, Berlow has separately advocated background checks and a single, permanent database for all gun sales.

    Berlow hoped to advance the cause of gun registration. Instead, though it took him several commentaries to do so, Berlow showed why NRA is right to oppose gun registration, gun owner licensing, expanded background checks for gun purchases, and the permanent retention of records on people who pass those checks.

    As Berlow made clear, this isn’t the 1970s and early 1980s, when the Brady Campaign and other gun control supporters pretended they wanted to get only handguns or compact handguns banned. Today, all guns and their owners are somewhere on gun control supporters’ list of things to restrict.

    © 2016 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

  • “Journalists” Renew Attack Upon “Assault Weapons”

    Katie Couric may be the journalist – we use the term loosely – that for the last few days has been taking the most heat for dishonest coverage of guns. But some in the TV “news” business have been just as dishonest in the past, and others are just as dishonest today.

    In the early days of the “assault weapon” issue, network news programs ran footage of machine guns being fired during stories about semi-automatic firearms.

    CBS 48 Hours did so when “assault weapons” became a national issue in 1989, the later-discredited Dan Rather intoning, “the right to bear arms, have we gone too far?”

    NBC’s Today Show with Couric and Bryant Gumbel did so when the Senate was debating the federal “assault weapon” ban in 1993, a reporter falsely saying that the ban would affect “weapons like these” as 32 rounds were fired out of a fully-automatic machine pistol in 1.6 seconds.

    NBC did so again when the House of Representatives was debating the legislation in 1994, a reporter referring to “assault weapons” as the camera showed 32 rounds fired out of a fully-automatic Uzi submachinegun.

    CNN did the same thing when Congress was refusing to extend the ban in 2004, future felon Ken Jenne narrating as bursts were fired from a fully-automatic AK-47.

    And NBC’s Chicago affiliate, with the complicity of Andrew Traver, President Obama’s 2010 nominee to head ATF, did so in 2009, reporter Kim Vatis referring to “assault weapons,” then firing a fully-automatic AK-47, waving the gun back and forth for effect.

    Fast forward to Bryant Gumbel, who, last year, told Rolling Stone magazine, “There are few things I hate more than the NRA. . . . I think they’re pigs. . . . I think they are a curse upon the American landscape.” Now Gumbel is trying to deceive the public into thinking that Americans shouldn’t have any firearm that is similar to a “military” firearm, and for that reason shouldn’t be allowed to have AR-15s. 

    In an episode of his “HBO Real Sports” program, Gumbel says, “I’m talking about a gun now known as the AR-15, a weapon designed for wartime.” A smug Gumbel associate asks Larry Keane, of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “You don’t dispute the AR-15’s military heritage, though, right? . . . . But we don’t let every military munition be adapted to civilian life, right? So, I guess the question is where to draw the line between civilian arms and military arms. Can you define where that line is?”

    As Keane points out, the AR-15 was not designed for the military, but Americans have had many of the same firearms as the military throughout our nation’s history. It is also true that many firearms and firearm modifications developed for civilians were later adopted by the military, and that the right to arms has always included the right to what gun control supporters misleadingly characterize as “military” arms. 

    Gallup polling finds that only 21 percent of Americans have confidence in newspapers and the TV news.  If reporting on other issues is as biased as coverage of firearms and the Second Amendment, we’re left to wonder how the number remains that high.

    © 2016 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

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