Friday, January 28, 2011


We've Moved! Our new blog address is Please update your links!

Also, Defensive Force Instructors LLC has a new home on the web: CLICK HERE for information about our upcoming courses and dates.

*NOTE* We will no longer be regularly updating this site. Please visit our new home!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CLE for Virginia Gun Law

I am happy to announce that we are filling out the forms for CLE credit for Virginia. If you want to register for the October 23rd seminar, and want CLE credit for it, the fee is $125. We are submitting an application for 2.5 hours of CLE credit. Sorry, no ethics hours.

Non-attorneys are also invited, cost is $75/$65 for VCDL members.

We plan on three hours minimum of instruction, with a couple of short breaks in the middle that will boil down to 2.5 hours of credit. The outline is as follows:

  • 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
  • Purchase and possession of arms in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • What is "open carry" and what is "concealed carry" in Virginia? Not quite what you think.
  • Virginia Knife Law (a surprisingly active area of the law)
  • 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
If you are interested, email me at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where Even Prosecutors Can't Carry

Uncle links to a story about a man who fires some warning shots because a gang of, well, gang members was threatening him. The comments discuss the wisdom of warning shots and legal implications.

Here's some additional background. The Nassau County DA's Office is reeeaaaally anti-gun. The office has a policy of barring handgun ownership by its employees. That's in great contrast with a lot of places like Virginia, where prosecutors can carry concealed anywhere, even in bars while drinking, without the training necessary for a concealed handgun permit. Because they're like you and me, only better.

Here is the application for assistant district attorney, and here is the one for interns. Note the following in background questions:

Applicant Questionnaire: Yes or No
3. Have you ever had a license to possess a firearm in this state or any other state?

And the closing (signature-required) condition:
Gun ownership: I understand that assistant district attorneys are not permitted to apply for a handgun permit nor own or possess a handgun while employed by the Nassau County District Attorney. Any exception to this policy must be in writing and approved by the District Attorney.

So, anybody think that this attitude may, even unconsciously, affect the judgment of the prosecutors in this case?

There's nothing so egregious as this in Virginia, but I discuss a lot of relevant self-defense considerations such as the standards for the use of deadly force in Virginia in my legal seminars. Next one is October 23, 2010; contact me to sign up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Required Reading for Concealed Carry

Here is a good write-up of a self-defense shooting that went to court twice. HT Snowflakes in Hell

The defendant, Mr. Hickey, was involved in a self-defense shooting when he was attacked by three neighbors in his own driveway. He was charged with aggravated assault and spent 71 days in jail. Massad Ayoob gave expert testimony in the second trial, possibly saving Mr. Hickey's bacon.

One of the commenters notes that Mr. Hickey's wife might have been treated better by the police, and that's probably true. Hickey is a part-time firearms instructor and trains troops preparing to deploy.

The write-up is the September newsletter for the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network, an organization that provides legal assistance to members that have to defend their self-defense actions in court.

SIRT Pistol for Training

Caleb has a post up on the SIRT pistol, a dedicated dry-fire handgun that shoots a laser out the barrel whenever the gun is "fired."

While this seems like a good way to train, I'd be afraid that it would make me look for the laser and not call my shots - see the sights, take the shot, and move on knowing that I'd hit the target.

I dry-fire with a trigger kit from Southwest Shooting Authority. The kit replaces the trigger for your Glock, and automatically resets. Print out some 1/3 scale targets (available here), post them on your basement/garage wall, and dry-fire away.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Malum Prohibitum

The NY Times reports that Chicago's gun ordinance, as well as state gun laws, aren't successfully used to deter violent crime. HT Uncle.

“We do bypass our ordinance because the penalties are more serious under state laws,” Ms. Hoyle said. “But there’s this idea that we didn’t really enforce the ordinance, and that’s just not true. We prosecute people all the time.”

Those prosecutions, however, rarely result in convictions, according to the data from the clerk’s office. While the police have made 12,967 arrests since 2000, city attorneys have won just 2,068 convictions.

But these ineffective (and unconstitutional) gun laws have to be defended in court:

Charles Boesel, director of communications for the Joyce Foundation, said in a written statement that the city’s gun ordinance was worth defending regardless of how often it was enforced, because a decision to apply the Second Amendment to states and municipalities “could have profound implications for current and future gun policy in Chicago and nationwide.”

Good to know. Next time you defend a gun law on the basis that it's "for the kids," you'll just stipulate up front that they don't work, and you're just doing this because: (a) the Joyce Foundation pays you to, and (b) you think that people are better off dead and in compliance with nonsensical laws than being able to defend themselves, right?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chesapeake Shooting Ruled Justified

The shooting in Chesapeake earlier this month has been ruled justified. Decent coverage here and here. Sumdood fired shots at armed citizen while said citizen was standing outside his family's home. Armed citizen, a concealed handgun permit holder, returned fire and fatally wounded sumdood. Sumdood's accomplice was picked up and charged with five counts of attempted malicious wounding.

Here is the prosecutor's letter to the chief of police declaring the shooting justified.

I'm a bit curious about this article, which describes sumdood as a "teen." That's technically correct - he was 18 years old - but at that age he's legally an adult. This is remniscent of studies during the crack wars that defined a "youth" as anyone age 24 or younger, painting gun violence as a phenomenon that impacts kids disproportionately.

If by "kid" you mean that someone under the age of 18 found an unsecured firearm and accidentally shot themself, that happens about 120 times a year. Less dangerous than swimming pools, but that doesn't fit the media narrative some folks are pushing. If by "kid" you mean a teenage gang-banger that was killed in an exchange of gunfire with rivals or intended victims, that happens a lot.

But I wouldn't put that in the "kids as victims of gun violence" category.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reloading Shotgun for 3-Gun Competition

Here's a good video from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit on speedloading your shotty for 3-gun. Looks like a good gig if you can get it.

Here's another good video with a breakdown of the shooter's technique.

Permalinked for future reference.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting Out of Traffic Ticket by Carrying a Gun

Extreme Tolerance relates his story of getting out of a ticket by virtue of legally carrying a gun. The officer that pulls you over will know as soon as he looks up your license plate that you have a concealed carry permit, which with many cops is a "certified upstanding citizen" indicator.

I had a similar experience. I was riding my motorcycle (back when I still had such vestiges of my single days) here in Northern Virginia, going down a really big hill. Light turned yellow as I was approaching a T-intersection traffic light at the bottom, and when I made it through the intersection it had already turned red. This wasn't so much a case of me not paying attention to the light, but more of a case of not wanting to slam on my front brake so much that I endo (bring the bike up on the front wheel for the non-biker crowd) at the stoplight and dump the bike. A police officer was waiting at the light, and he pulled me over.

I had just moved to VA and was still carrying with my reciprocal out-of-state CCW. I didn't have to tell the officer I was carrying (VA law doesn't require it) but did so anyway. The officer was surprised; carrying in your own state means that an officer running your license will know you have a permit when he runs your plate or driver's license, but to my knowledge states don't generally share carry permit info with each others' DMV systems.

He asked me where I was carrying, and I told him it was on my left ankle. I didn't make any sudden moves to show him what caliber it was.

He checked my traffic record - clean since 1997 or so - and sent me on my way. He thanked me for notifying him that I was carrying, and suspect that this played a part in not getting a ticket.

Side note: when riding a motorcycle, I recommend carrying ankle carry. I once laid a bike down while ankle carrying with no ill effects, but if I'd been carrying on my hip I suspect that the gun would've become a semi-permanent part of my pelvis.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Galil Ace and Krebs AK

Galil Ace Rifle over at The Firearm Blog.

As he puts it, "the consumer AK accessory industry is sure to start producing handguards, pistol grips and stocks for dressing up a AK-clone as an Galil Ace."

That already exists. Here is the Krebs Custom AK rifle page, and the KTR-series rifle is at the top.

It has M16-style sights and thumb safety, handguards with rails, and a collapsible stock. I recommend them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

DEA Looking for Ebonics Translators

That's not a joke, that's the headline at CNN. HT Tam. Another sign of our failing public school systems. Used to be lots of fluent Ebonics speakers around, and you could find one anywhere, even on an airplane.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Best Internet Thread You Will Ever Read

Over at The High Road, I stumbled on a thread chronicling over a year's worth of one man's struggle to control the wild hog population on his property in East Texas. Well written, numerous pictures. It is now at 22 pages, and covers everything from caliber selection, wildlife cameras, traps, and the author's purchase and use of an AR in .458 SOCOM. Seriously, grab a cup of coffee (or whatever beverage you enjoy while reading internet randomness) and set aside at least half an hour to read it.

Without exagerration, it is the best internet thread I've ever read. I've added it to the perma-link list.

Read the whole thing. If anyone has a better read from a gun forum (or anywhere on the innertubes), feel free to post it in the comments.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Value of a Quick Draw

In this post, Hell in a Handbasket says that a quick draw of your defensive tool may not be that big of a deal:

I’ve never been very keen on developing fast draw skills. Though necessary for
competition, they should be unneeded for defense as long as someone maintains a
decent level of situational awareness.
Caleb disagrees, and outlines the value of having your defensive tools out and ready lickety-split in this post on his encounter with a would-be mugger. I'm with Caleb on this one - practicing your draw from your carry setup is a valuable use of your time.

Uncle approximates his draw time as such:

I can draw and fire center mass accurately in over a second but less than two.
Not a real spiffy time but, you know, not a slouch either. And that’s with a
Glock and a CompTac. It’s faster with a Serpa holster and much slower when I
pocket carry.

That's a good place to be and I'm somewhere in that band of performance. So are federal air marshals - their standard is to draw from concealment and fire two rounds in 1.65 seconds.

As Todd G at says, "Call me crazy, but I'm going to keep working on my draw."

Zombie FAIL

Great article at on why a zombie outbreak wouldn't look like it does in the movies. I've long suspected that this was overblown, and now the internet has given us a real answer. (HT Sebastian)

Bottom line: guns rule.
Remember, the whole reason hunting licenses exist is to limit the number of
animals you're allowed to kill, because if you just declared free reign for
everybody with a gun, everything in the forest would be dead by sundown. Even
the trees would be mounted proudly above the late-arriving hunter's mantles.
It's safe to assume that when the game changes from "three deer" to "all the
rotting dead people trying to eat us," there will be no shortage of volunteers.
And that's just from the civilian population; counting the military
and police, we have another three million or so armed people, and instead of
just handguns shotguns and hunting rifles, they have machine guns, combat
shotguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, sub-machine guns, grenade launchers and
the occasional taser, not to mention the training to use them effectively. But
why would they even bother? When they could just roll over swaths of zombies in
tanks, blast them with cluster bombs and MOABs and mow them down with miniguns
from the god damn Air Force that every zombie flick seems to forget about.

Seriously, RTWT.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

AR vs. Shotgun for Home Defense

James Rummel takes me to task for my first and second posts on whether an AR makes a good home defense firearm.

As he puts it:
In the second post, Dave devotes the very first paragraph to the issue of verpentration. After that it is rather pointedly ignored. Strange, as I think
that it is the one issue that should be discussed the most.
What I said was:
Let me start by saying that I'm not making a recommendation one way or the other. If you can intelligently explain your choice of defensive tools, then drive on with your bad self. If I decide to equip the hearth and home with an AR, I've got the fact that Uncle Sam spent a bunch of time and money teaching me how to use it, I've fought overseas with one, and there's simply no firearm that I perform better with. Apartments may not be ideal keeping AR rounds out of your neighbor's place, but according to the Box O' Truth, pistol rounds go through sheetrock pretty well too. So maybe the overpenetration concern is universal if sheetrock is all that separates you from next door. I wonder what separates townhouses from each other. Anyone
in construction have a line on this?
I'm not sure where James gets a lack of concern on my part on overpenetration liability in urban settings. I said that if you live in an apartment any round could punch through the walls. I wondered what the barriers are between townhouses, the norm in Northern Virginia. I don't have my place AR-equipped for the reasons he lays out - because I don't know what ballistically separates me from my neighbors. That's concern for overpenetration, and I asked about what separates me from shooting a neighbor. I'm not blowing the issue off.

'Cause houses come in different forms. The average NoVa townhouse was built in the late 1970's or so. If it were a slap-dash early 2000's structure there's no way I'd shoot an AR inside the house, but I don't know how much sturdier the older places are. New construction in parts of Florida is hurricane-resistant, so there's a cinderblock skeleton underneath that retro-Miami Vice adobe exterior. So go crazy down there. Here? My place? No idea.

Checking at The Box O' Truth reveals a few things. In Installment #1, we find out that pistol rounds and .223 penetrate pretty well. Here we discover that shotgun rounds penetrate to a varying degree - small shot not so much (but it doesn't do a good job of stopping a pissed off assailant) - slugs too much. 00 Buck may fit a sweet spot, who knows? In Installment #3, we find that 00 Buck penetrates 8 sheetrock boards, which is 4 walls.

As the folks at Box O' Truth put it:
But doesn't 00 Buck penetrate too much in interior walls to be a "safe" load in a home?
Yes, it does penetrate a lot. But any load that is going to be effective will need to penetrate walls to have enough power to penetrate bad guys. If our only concern was to be sure we didn't penetrate walls, we would use BB guns. However, BB guns will not stop bad guys.
And, as they said at the end of #2:

I have brick exterior on my home. I do not have to worry about any round exiting my home. The brick stopped all rounds tested.
So, we must use loads that will STOP bad guys, and this means that they will also penetrate walls. Be sure you hit the bad guy and do not shoot into walls where innocents are on the other side, because anything short of brick is really just concealment, not cover.

The guys in the comments at Snowflakes in Hell make the case for a short-barrelled and suppressed AR. Which, if you want to shoot a rifle indoors and reduce the overpenetration risk is a good way to go. So is frangible ammunition, as these guys point out. There's a spread of opinion at Uncle's place.

Bottom line:
1. What are the your exterior/dividing walls made of?
2. What bullet weight/type are you using, and through what length of barrel?
3. Will #2 punch through #1?

Calibrate your home defense rounds accordingly.

Shoot Him to the Ground - and Yourself in the Foot

Matthew Temkin has a video out he calls "Shoot Him to the Ground." I think that this is neither good shooting technique nor smart tactics, as Jason points out. Worse yet, it could help get you prosecuted. Here's the YouTube of the promo:

The tactical implications of charging one-handed at your assailant are bad enough. Guns are effective missile weapons because they take you out of melee distance. If you have to shoot someone at arm's length, so be it. Many self-defense encounters happen at spitting distance, but that's no excuse to put yourself there if you don't have to. It's worse with multiple assailants, where retreating to cover while firing, or sidestepping to "get off the x," may be the best course of action. Distance is your friend.

The legal implications, depending on the state, could be terrible. Some states, in spite of a strong "Castle Doctrine" statute, maintain a generalized duty to retreat (if possible) outside the home. I'm looking at you, North Carolina, California of the South. If you have a duty to retreat when possible, then charging your assailant and firing your last round while standing over him is a pretty bad idea. Witnesses may provide a less-than-flattering account of your actions. "Joe was just talkin' to this guy and reached in his pocket, when the defendant whipped out his gun, ran at Joe and blazed away, puttin' the last round in his eyeball!"

That defensive shootings outside the home that occur in North Carolina (and other states with a duty to retreat) where sumdood's intended victim didn't retreat is a testament to prosecutorial discretion, or at least prosecutors' recognition that the upstanding citizen defended herself against a violent assailant, and that no jury will convict on those facts. Like in this case.

Bottom line: I don't plan to buy Temkin's video, nor use his tactics.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Legal Seminar and CHP Course October 23rd

We will be holding two legal seminars on Saturday, October 23rd, at the Marriott Courtyard near the NRA Range. Directions here.

There will be two sessions - one at 10:00 am, one at 2:00 pm. If you want to get your Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP), the legal seminar and some range time afterward qualifies you and I will sign off on the certificate that will get you your CHP. If you want the CHP, contact me and sign up for the 2:00 slot, and we'll head over to the NRA range afterwards.

Cost for the seminar is $75, $65 for VCDL members. $25 extra if you want to get your CHP.

Contact me if interested. Pre-course emails get sent out a week before class, so don't wait until the last minute.

More on the AR for Home Defense

My post yesterday on using an AR (or AK, I suppose) for home defense elicited a few comments worth discussion.

Let me start by saying that I'm not making a recommendation one way or the other. If you can intelligently explain your choice of defensive tools, then drive on with your bad self. If I decide to equip the hearth and home with an AR, I've got the fact that Uncle Sam spent a bunch of time and money teaching me how to use it, I've fought overseas with one, and there's simply no firearm that I perform better with. Apartments may not be ideal keeping AR rounds out of your neighbor's place, but according to the Box O' Truth, pistol rounds go through sheetrock pretty well too. So maybe the overpenetration concern is universal if sheetrock is all that separates you from next door. I wonder what separates townhouses from each other. Anyone in construction have a line on this?

As Tim pointed out, Harold Fish's prosecution for murder was an outlier, and not a good gauge of what to expect if you use force in self-defense. However, Arizona's laws at the time, where self-defense is an affirmative defense, remains the rule in the overwhelming majority of the states. That's IF you get prosecuted. Prosecutorial discretion is the factor that makes most self-defense shootings remain news stories and not court cases.

Frank W. James weighed in to point out that the castle doctrine makes the weapon a non-issue inside the home. That's true in certain instances. But all "castle doctrine" statutes are not created equal. Some are really "stand your ground" statutes that remove the duty to retreat outside the home. Some are just laws strengthening defense of habitation claims.

Take North Carolina, the California of the South in terms of gun laws. The Castle Doctrine statute is really a defense of habitation measure. If a lawful occupant is preventing or terminating unlawful entry that they reasonably believe is going to harm/kill someone inside or commit a felony, then the lawful occupant can use any level of force against the intruder. But once they are inside, then the proportionality of force requirement applies, but without the duty to retreat (if reasonable) that exists outside the home. If you come downstairs for a glass of milk at night and find an intruder already inside who does nothing to threaten you, then ejecting a trespasser is supposed to be done first with "gentle hands." The NRA-supported bill to change this state of affairs bogged down.

Virginia doesn't have a castle doctrine statute, but the case law on self-defense is such that you'd have to really screw up to get prosecuted for shooting someone in your own home. There's a lot more to that explanation, and it takes about three hours.

Frank also had some smart things to say about magazine retention and bugging out if society breaks down or the zombiepocalypse hits us. Then he said some more smart stuff. Good blog, now on the blogroll.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

AR for Home Defense?

A reader (and attendee at one of last year's legal seminars) writes to ask about whether the Great Black Rifle Buying Spree of recent years has removed the stigma possibly associated with using an AR-15 in a self-defense scenario.

This is a good question to ask in Northern Virginia, since one of the few instances of using an automatic weapon (yes, I know that AR-15's are not fully automatic, but bear with me) in self-defense happened in Fairfax County a little over 25 years ago. Gary Fadden used an AC556, the select-fire version of the Ruger Mini-14, to defend himself against a belligerent assailant that chased Fadden and Fadden's fiancee until they had nowhere else to retreat to. Massad Ayoob's excellent write-up is here.

Fadden believes that if he had used a pump-action shotgun to kill his attacker, then he wouldn't have been prosecuted.

So, is it unwise to put your AR in the closet as a tool to use against home invaders?

Two things to note on this issue.

First, ANY gun can be demonized by a prosecutor to allege that the defendant acted outside the bounds of self-defense or was otherwise up to no good. Harold Fish was walking a trail in Arizona in an area where mountain lions roam, armed with a 10mm loaded with hollowpoint ammunition. If you were to ask me what gun to carry for mountain lion, I would tell you to carry what Fish had. Yet when he killed a man who charged him on the trail with (presumably) murderous intent, the prosecutor railed on about what an overpowered gun Fish had and how the bullets he carried would violate the Hague Regulations (not the Geneva Conventions, a popular misconception) if used on the battlefield. Never mind that the cops in Arizona (and everywhere else in America) carry hollowpoints for the same reasons Fish did.

Second, there is no solid answer as to whether your particular choice of carry gun or home defense longarm will strike a jury as evidence of murderous intent. Harold Fish was demonized as a vigilante and convicted of murder in Arizona, not San Francisco. The jury selection process makes a big difference in this regard, and you never know what you're going to get. I suspect that the concealed carry revolution of the 1990's and two Supreme Court decisions supporting a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense move the general direction of public support in favor of self-defense claims, but I also suspect that the urbanization of Northern Virginia makes it less gun-friendly than the rest of the Commonwealth.

If I decide to put a longarm (shotgun or black rifle) under the bed or in the closet, I'll use one of the action locks that GunVault produces: AR and shotgun versions available. And I'd put a light on it.

What are your thoughts on using an AR for self-defense?

By the way, I've scheduled two legal seminars for Saturday, October 23rd. If you want to get certified for a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit, let me know and we can do range time afterwards, meeting the requirements for your permit AND giving you a good legal education on self-defense in the Commonwealth. Contact me if interested.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brady Bunch Endorses Self-Defense

Michigan man shoots at five would-be robbers who accosted him in his driveway. Which would be illegal under the new Chicago gun regulations. Peter Hamm of the Brady Bunch says it was justified.


Well that’s a Kodak moment. Of course, if it were left to the Brady Bunch, the hurdles to legal gun ownership would be so difficult that only movie stars and politicians could jump them. AND, all you could own is, maybe a .22 or an Airsoft rifle.
A lot more on the contradictions inherent in Brady Bunch positions from Linoge.