Sunday, August 30, 2009

Police Officers and Gun Safety

We are often told that only military and law enforcement personnel should have guns. Here's a golden oldie from a decade ago after D.C. police switched from revolvers to Glocks.

I recommend reading the whole thing, but let's just see how many of the Four Rules the officers clearly violated, often with catastrophic results. Italics below are mine.

Rule One: All guns are always loaded.
The first accident occurred in February 1989 – less than a month before the
guns reached officers on the street. Officer Adam K. Schutz was helping to test
and clean the first shipment of guns when he shot himself in the fingers.
"It bit me," said Schutz, who was left with permanent damage to a finger on
his left hand. "I was moving my hand to lower the slide and it jumped forward. I
had assumed the gun was unloaded

Keep in mind that this is someone in the armorer's shop. It gets better.

Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

In January 1994, homicide detective Jeffrey Mayberry shot Officer James Dukes in
the stomach at police headquarters. "I hear a loud bang and Dukes is slowly falling to the floor," Detective Joseph Fox, Mayberry's partner, said in a deposition. "Jeff jumps up and says, 'Dukes, I didn't mean to do it, I didn't mean to do it.' "
Dukes said in a recent interview, "He was playing with the weapon. This was the second time I had told [Mayberry] during that tour of duty not to point the weapon at me."

Sorry, dude. Didn't mean to sweep you with my Glock and plug you in the gut.

Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
In October 1990, Officer Edward Wise fired accidentally and grazed a man's
head during an undercover drug operation at a Southeast Washington housing
complex, according to police and court documents. Wise said he had been
struggling with the man, Barry Braxton, who was unarmed. Braxton sued and
collected a $55,000 settlement from the District.
Sabrina Whittle, who was
Wise's partner, said in a recent interview that she and her partner were not
taught to keep their fingers off the triggers of their Glocks unless they
intended to fire.
"The most we had to go on was common sense," said Whittle,
then a 21-year-old police rookie, now a security guard. "It was dark and late
and we were scared. I know that, both of us being scared, he had his finger on
the trigger. Obviously, [with] your finger on the trigger, you're

Yes, prepared to accidentally shoot someone. The fact that this is in the paper and not buried in some investigation report, and that the former officer doesn't realize how wrong-headed it is - eesh.

Rule Four: Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
In March 1993, Officer Lakisha Poge fired a round through her bed while
unloading a Glock in her apartment
, a police report states. The bullet went
through the floor and hit Glowdean Catching in the apartment below. Catching,
who was wounded in both legs, has a suit pending against the District. Poge, who
has left the department, could not be reached for comment.

In this officer's defense, you could do worse than a bed and a floor as a backstop.

There is nothing magical about being in the military or carrying a badge along with your gun. There are people who invest in safe gun handling and proficiency. Sometimes those people happen to serve in the military or in law enforcement agenices. Sometimes they don't.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Link Rodeo 8/28/09

Rock, paper, scissors. Real gun trumps nail gun.

ATF changes its mind and will consider permanently attached 1.5" muzzle brakes as part of barrel length to meet the 16" minimum for rifles. In related news, I am not a federal felon.

David Hardy provides a link to the new NRA guide to interstate transportation of firearms and some coverage of the suit against the NYC/New Jersey Port Authority for arresting travelers at airports even though the TSA has said that they are transporting firearms in accordance with federal law.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Negligent Discharge in Virginia = Class 1 Misdemeanor

I talk about this in my legal seminars, but you don't hear about too many of these incidents. A guy dropped his Glock, tried to catch it while it was falling, and caused a Negligent Discharge (ND). (H/T Uncle)

The posting at is already at eight pages of discussion, but the bottom line is that if you put a round through your wall and it goes through the next three townhouses, expect the law to get involved. Also, Glocks have internal safeties that prevent a discharge upon impact with the floor. Let it drop.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Emergency 911 Cell Phones

In my post on Go-Pants I mentioned the importance of having a cell phone (or pocket to carry one) in your home defense kit. In this post, I'll discuss a gadget that makes this easier.

But first, let me clarify: though I didn't mention it, I was certainly armed when the suspicious character in my Go-Pants post knocked on the door. I wouldn't answer the door under these circumstances unarmed. Sebastian voiced this concern, I just wanted to set the record straight.

Back to helpful gear. In this comment, Joe recommends having an old cell phone handy because all cellphones are required to dial 911 free of charge. Sounds like a good idea. I'll have to dig up an old phone and keep it handy.

If you don't mind paying money for an emergency phone, the folks at have you covered. A student brought one of these in to my last legal seminar on self-defense laws in Virginia, and it seemed pretty useful. It comes with a neck lanyard (all the better to record your defensive encounter with while keeping your hands free to manipulate a handgun, flashlight, and guide loved ones to safety) and a single button preprogrammed to dial 911. The price seems a bit steep - $189.95, but there are no monthly fees associated. I'm not sure on dropping the scratch to get one, but if price were no object the simplicity of it is hard to argue with. Here's a picture:

Anyone own one of these things? Is the money worth it or is there some charitable cell phone recycling program that achieves this on the cheap?

Don't Brandish in a Bank

You'd think this would go without saying, but some guy in Florida did so rather innocently. In an open carry state like Virginia this is less of a problem, but since Florida has no open carry even casual exposure of a concealed handgun is a big deal. Read the whole thing. (H/T Robb)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MSNBC on Open Carry

MSNBC has a reasonably balanced article up on open carry. It starts and ends with an account of the Golden Market shooting down in Richmond, but has a bunch of GOA/SAF/Brady Bunch wrangling in between. On the upside is a parting word from the stop'n'rob clerk from the Golden Market now practicing open carry on a daily basis.

Friday, August 21, 2009

George the Travelling Salesman and the Joy of Go-Pants

A story about pants compelling enough to make Robb wear some.

A couple of weeks ago an odd fellow dropped by the house late on a Saturday night claiming to be a travelling salesman named George. He wasn't much of a salesman, and it seemed like a ruse to determine who was home that night and who wasn't. Plus, there was a white van trolling the neighborhood that was probably linked to George. Presumably it contained his accomplices who had plenty of cargo space in their vehicle to cart off televisions and the like.

I called the cops and suited up in my Go-Pants.

What are Go-Pants? Somewhere in between not being armed and strapping on a tactical vest and an AR-15 to survive the zombiepocalypse is a useful set of tools to deal with the problems that present themselves on a more regular basis. If you are out and about running errands, it may be a concealed handgun, a spare magazine, and a cell phone. When things go bump in the night it helps to have an emergency kit set up to deal with it. I'm a firm believer in being able to wear my emergency kit - my Go-Pants.

Go-Pants are what I have staged under my bedside gun safe. Handgun is locked up in a small safe, loaded and equipped with a rail-mounted light. Go-Pants have a retention holster, magazine pouch, two loaded magazines, and a separate flashlight with a neck lanyard. Plus plenty of pocket space to hold a cell phone, keys, and identification. If I have to leave the bedroom during a break-in (not Plan A) I'll be wearing them.

Picture of said Go-Pants below:

Yes, technically they are Go-Shorts - it's summer. I've played with a different name for them, but Readiness Trousers doesn't have the same ring.

Here is Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch describing a similar concept, a pouch with a neck lanyard to hold your spare magazine, cell phone, light, and keys:

The great thing about shooting competitively is that this is essentially my IDPA competition rig. So, all that time spent standing around with a gun on one hip and two magazines on the other isn't wasted - my magazines are where I am used to them being and I've got tools to deal with a lot more than I do with just a gun.

Back to George the Travelling Salesman. The police showed up and took him into custody for unlicensed soliciting. When they came to the door to take a statement from me, I stepped out on to the porch with my Go-Pants on. This is another advantage over carrying your defensive handgun around, a legal one. Open carry is legal in Virginia, but it ought to be done sensibly when the police are called to your location to investigate suspicious activity. A conversation with the police with a gun on your hip and one with a gun in your hand are two entirely different experiences. I'd bet there's a pretty clear change in tenor when you walk out of the front door with a gun in your hand.

Feedback from a friend in law enforcement advises me that I ought to add a cover garment to my kit to avoid being mistaken for the suspicious activity the police are looking for. This seems sensible, especially if something drew me out of the house while they were on their way. I can't think of what that might be, but it's a good reason to stage the whole IDPA kit, vest and all, under the nightstand.

Feel free to give some feedback on what I ought to add to the Go-Pants kit. Does anybody else keep a similar setup handy?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Legal Seminar on 26 September; 9:30 am and 2:00 pm

**Class announcement**

Defensive Force Instructors, LLC is holding two legal seminars on September 26, 2009; one at 9:30 am and one at 2:00 pm.

Seminars are held at the Marriott Courtyard near Dulles Airport. Location information is available here.
Cost is $75, $65 for members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL).
Please contact me to reserve a spot; this class will be limited to 20 people. Email me for reservations and billing information.
For the cost of 200 rounds of .45 ACP (if you can find it) you will get a much deeper understanding of self-defense in the Commonwealth of Virginia from an attorney. Plenty of shooters are willing to invest in their shooting skills but not many invest in their understanding of the legal boundaries of self-defense.

The seminar covers the following topics:

  • Purchase and possession of arms in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • General legal guidelines for the use of force
  • Justification versus Excuse
  • Self-defense
  • Virginia's lack of a "castle doctrine" - and why it (mostly) doesn't matter
  • Defense of Others
  • Defense of Property
  • What is "open carry" and what is "concealed carry" in Virginia? Not quite what you think.
  • Interacting with Law Enforcement Officers
  • Travelling armed: planes, trains, and automobiles
  • What to do when in other jurisdictions: a practical "travelling" mode for reciprocal states
The travelling part is not just one subject; it is covered throughout the brief so that students have an idea how to deal with the laws governing self-defense in other states. The important part is knowing how they generally differ from Virginia (and they differ a lot).

A legal seminar is not a concealed handgun course - it is a legal class on the statutes and case law governing the open or concealed carry of a handgun. This DOES NOT meet the Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) requirements. Rather, this is intended for people who already have a CHP but are not versed in the law. If you received your CHP after a basic concealed handgun course with no discussion of the legal implications of using a handgun in self-defense, this is for you.

Disclaimer: The information provided in the seminar is not intended as individualized legal advice. I am not your lawyer. You are not my client. Participation in this seminar is expressly intended NOT to create an attorney-client relationship. Students will sign a waiver and agree to hold harmless Defensive Force Instructors, LLC before class starts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

22 August Legal Seminar Full; Announcing September Seminar Soon

The Legal Seminar scheduled for 22 August is full - both the morning and afternoon sessions. I will be announcing a seminar in September on Monday. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Northern Virginia IDPA and USPSA Matches

Here is an updated list of Northern Virginia area IDPA and USPSA matches:

First Wednesday of the Month
Silver Eagle Group, 703-723-5173
44620 Guilford Dr
Ashburn, VA
Juan La Luz; Home: 703-850-6688; Work: 703-723-5173; Fax: 703-723-4979

First Sunday of the Month (March through November)
Fredericksburg Practical Shooters
Behind soccer fields

Second Wednesday of the Month
Blue Ridge Arsenal
14725-K Flint Lee Road
Chantilly, VA
Malcolm Blundell;

The Range
62 Potomac Creek Drive
Fredericksburg, Va. 22405> Phone (540) 720-5922

Second Saturday of the Month, 9:00 am
Black Creek IDPA, $20
4292 Range Rd
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Third Saturday of the Month, 8:30 am
Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club IDPA
1570 Old Lynchburg Road
Charlottesville, VA
David White; Home: 434-985-8299
Meg Rogers; Home: 540-672-1033; Work: 540-785-7860

Third Sunday of the Month, March through November
St. Charles Sportsmans Club
Andrew White, Severna Park, MD 21146
Home: (410) 544-0408, Work: (301) 877-8884, Fax: (301) 877-0914,

Third Sunday of the Month, March through November
North Mountain Practical Shooters
Located at the Shenandoah range at Lebanon Church (near Winchester)
Alan Meek;

Fourth Wednesday of the Month
The Range
62 Potomac Creek Drive
Fredericksburg, Va. 22405> Phone (540) 720-5922

Fourth Sunday of the Month, 9:00 am
Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club
Montpelier, VA (see map on website)
Andy Sweeney; Mobile: 308-909-6581
Thornton White, Jr.; Mobile: 804-305-7778

Last Saturday of the Month, 9:00 am
Black Creek 3-Gun, $15
4292 Range Rd
Mechanicsville, VA

I am adding this to the side of the blog in a permalink.

If anyone has any to add to this or corrections on contact information, email me.

Hampton Roads Shooting Ruled Justified

The Hampton Roads shooting I posted about earlier prompted no prosecution. The store owner that shot the thief at his place of business will not be charged.

Recidivist Horse Rapist

Now that the title caught your attention, Jonathan Turley has the story. Dude.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Glock Grips and Transitioning from G17 to a G21

Had a significant emotional event in my neighborhood Saturday night, one that warranted calling the police to report some suspicious activity. Had the Glock 21, a double-stack .45, on my hip. I figured this was as good an excuse as any to take the 21 out to the range on Sunday instead of the Glock 17 9mm.

My shooting was printing consistently left of where I aimed, which according to this diagram is indicative of the trigger finger not being far enough on the trigger. I attribute this to the heavy range time I get with the slimmer grip of the G17. Though the grips are similar, I wonder if the muscle memory I have on the slimmer grip makes my not put my finger in to the trigger guard far enough on the G21.

Which brings me to the subject of the Glock 21 Slim Frame. Does anybody own both a 17/22 and a 21SF? How much difference is there between the two grips? Is it worth getting a 21SF to reduce the amount of difference between my 9mm grip and my .45 grip?