News of the open letter from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, a polite request for gun owners to not bring guns to Starbucks, has set the gun world on fire - or at least my Facebook feed.
A condensed version of events: Starbucks has in years past not taken a stance on firearms in their stores. They've said that local, state, and federal laws are enough. Some gun owners took that as a version of support for open carry in their stores, and went so far as to walk into such establishments while carrying AKs, ARs, and shotguns. Because...other people were doing it, and it seemed like a good idea at the time?
This is sheer idiocy.
Understandably, the result is that Starbucks now doesn't want guns in their stores. It's not a hard rule, but a polite request. They didn't want to be involved, some folks dragged them into it, and they felt their only choice was to make a public statement about the topic.
I have heard a few statements repeated by extreme open carry advocates in recent days, and I would like to address them here.
"Because I can! It's my right and you can't take away my rights!"
There are a lot of things you "can" do. Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should, with great power comes great responsibility, etc etc.
Furthermore, you don't have a right to carry a firearm onto private property without the permission of the owner. And since the Supreme Court has ruled that the government can place some restrictions on the carry of firearms, I don't think California's ban on open carry (which came as a direct result of open carry demonstrations in the state!) will be overturned any time soon. You certainly won't be granted the ability to carry a firearm onto private property without the permission of the owner.
In other words, you can blather on about what you think should be reality, but actual-reality is different. It doesn't matter what you think or what I think. Stop participating in Second Amendment circle jerks on the Internet and face the reality that your actions have consequences.
"F*** you, Starbucks!"
First, if you are unable to articulate your position on a sensitive topic without expletives forming a significant portion of your statements, please stop talking. Your words reflect poorly on gun owners as a whole.
Second, every single private business in America is not a battleground for gun rights. Most business owners want to sell a product, employ people, serve people, whatever. Their business is not about us, and it is selfish, immature, and stupid for some gun owners to make everything about them. It is stupid to organize a boycott simply because a company wants to be left out of a heated discussion.
Finally, even if a company takes a stand against firearm ownership, so what? Life is too short to spend time hating people who don't like guns. I find it delightfully ironic that some of my Kenneth Cole clothing conceals certain firearms very well.
Variations on this theme: "We need to desensitize people to firearms!" or "People need to stop being uncomfortable around firearms!" or "You don't have a right to not be offended!"
So let me get this straight, long gun open carry advocates want average citizens to get used to firearms, and their plan to achieve this goal is to do something that they know is going to scare/offend/startle people?
Like I said, sheer idiocy.
I am comfortable around firearms. I carry a concealed firearm every day. I have too many guns, including scary black guns. I'm actually not as vehemently opposed to open carry as some others in the gun industry. Open carry has its place - Starbucks not included.
But if I was enjoying a Chai Tea Latte in my local Starbucks and saw a dude walk in carrying a shotgun, I would become very uncomfortable, very fast. I can only imagine how people who don't trip on five guns when they get out of bed would react. There is no need to make people upset in order to reach them, unless you are an attention whore.
What extreme open carry advocates seem to not understand is that we are winning this particular culture war - and that they are not helping. Politicians love to talk about what percentage of people support this gun control measure or that, but the number of people who own guns, and the number of people who think it's okay for average citizens to own guns? Those numbers are increasing, not decreasing. We might differ on the details of the type of gun and how they might be acquired, but gun owners are not facing a hostile US population.
That is, we aren't as long as we don't do stupid crap like carry AKs into Starbucks. What have massive open carry demonstrations achieved? Restrictions on how firearms may be carried in a major US state and a major US business chain.
We'll win over far more people if we show them that gun owners are intelligent, thoughtful, and polite.
Now that we have two training courses under our belt, Jim and I have made some further adjustments to the Vuurwapen Concepts course curriculum. The second course incorporated some pistol shooting, and all subsequent courses will expand on that. Most notably, however, we're moving to a three-day course format (with an optional fourth day at the beginning for refreshing fundamentals). This will allow for additional training and evaluation time over the two-day format, although the course fee remains relatively low at $450. We've scheduled courses for October 11-13 and November 8-10, again at Sniper Country in northern Utah.
Also relevant to potential students is that we have added approximately half a dozen instructors, all of whom have special operations experience in military or federal government units or agencies (or both). Their expertise varies from breaching to trauma medicine, although all are extremely proficient with firearms and capable of passing these skills on to others. We're working on bios and further information, but a lot of these guys are still working in their respective fields, so various security concerns may require that some information be withheld. I know this sounds super secret squirrel, but trust me, these guys are really impressive. Their expertise is also very relevant to the courses we're teaching (including the concealed carry portion of the class), and will allow for expanded course options in the future.
We will have at least three and most likely four instructors at each course. This will allow us to move from course module to course module smoothly while providing as much one-on-one instruction as possible.
Soon I will also share the Vuurwapen Concepts website and other cool stuff. Things are moving along quickly and I'm excited for what the future holds.
I wear flip flops almost every day and have done so for nearly my entire life. Therefore, I wear flip flops while shooting. This seems to upset some people when I post photos or videos online, so I'll take a moment to explain further.
Train How You Fight
I have said this a few times lately, but it really is important to "train how you fight." A long time ago, I was working on the "Lifesaving" merit badge. I had the fastest rescue time in part due to my ability to kick off flip flops much faster than the other kids could remove their shoes. Someone complained to a counselor, who said, "Andrew always wears flip flops, so he should wear them here, too." The same principle applies to concealed carry.
When I go to the range to practice drawing from concealment, I use the exact belt, holster, pistol, and clothing setups that I use for everyday concealed carry. Most people seem to agree with this sentiment - after all, it's pretty silly to do all of your shooting practice with a 1911 from the low ready if you carry a .38 snubnose in an ankle holster. I simply extend the concept to include my footwear.
While many people see flip flops as a detriment or drawback, I see them as comfy and easy to put on/take off. Did I mention comfy? I live in an area where triple digit temperatures are common, but even when I lived in Alaska I wore them during the summer.
There are occasions during which I wear shoes or boots: when I'm riding a motorcycle, when I'm on a long hike or walk, and some of the time when I work on cars, motorcycles, or airplanes. I will therefore sometimes wear shoes while shooting. For example, if I ride my motorcycle to the range, it would make sense that the shooting that day would include shoes.
Most of the time, however, I wear flip flops... so I wear flip flops while shooting. There are a number of reasons why people find this objectionable - here are the more common criticisms.
"But You'll Get Hot Brass Between Your Toes And Then Shoot Someone"
There are a number of arguments against shooting while wearing flip flops, and one of the least valid (to me, at least) is the "hot brass" argument. I can simply say from experience - shooting three or four times per week, every week for years on end, wearing flip flops at least 60% of the time, that I have only had hot brass land on my feet or between my toes a few times. For me, it is a non-issue. I have no problems maintaining bearing and muzzle discipline while I make a minor movement to rid myself of the troublesome case, whether it lands inside my shirt or between my toes. However, I have a higher pain tolerance than most people seem to have, at least in this regard.
"But You'll Lose A Flip Flop And Then Shoot Someone"
If you take a look at the above photo, you'll see that my right foot is curved in an odd manner and my little toe is sticking out somewhat. This is due to how I run while wearing flip flops: I curve my feet so as to keep the footwear attached. Yes, I (used to, before I hurt my knee) occasionally run while wearing flip flops. My all-time best mile run while wearing flip flops and carrying a 30lb backpack is 8:16. It is almost entirely avoidable to lose a flip flop while running, if proper methods are used.
I do sometimes have a flip flop fall off of a foot while I am moving backwards or stepping over or near obstacles - the back edge of the footwear will catch on something and be propelled off my foot. To avoid this, I keep my heels high if I am backing up or stepping over obstacles while wearing flip flops. Unlike keeping them on while running forward, this is not entirely avoidable. However, like the brass hitting my toes, it has almost no discernible effect on my shooting. I will simply finish whatever the string of fire may be and then retrieve my errant footwear.
"But You'll Hurt Your Foot And Then Shoot Someone"
Because I wear flip flops every day, I am rather used to stubbing my toes or people stepping on my toes or getting splinters or cactus spines stuck in my feet and so on. I even had a toenail ripped out once. Therefore, it is not a big deal when these same things happen while I am shooting. As I said before, it is not a problem to maintain muzzle discipline when something unexpected happens. If it is hard for you to not dance around pointing a gun at people with your finger on the trigger when a minor problem occurs, maybe you should not own or use guns.
Valid Reasons To Not Wear Flip Flops While Shooting
I can think of two valid reasons to not wear flip flops while shooting:
- My feet get really dirty if I'm shooting all day
- It doesn't look entirely professional
So in the future when I'm teaching a class, I might avoid wearing flip flops, simply because it might not present the professional image someone might expect when they pay good money for training. However, for day-to-day practice, I will continue to use whatever footwear I happen to be wearing when I leave for the range.
There are too many people in the firearm world - especially when it comes to "real world" or "defensive" use of firearms - who hide behind the word "tactical" as an excuse for poor technique or performance.
Today I would like to discuss reloading, both of handguns and rifles. Basically, anything with a magazine. There are many things to discuss when it comes to reloads, and this is a topic I plan on covering in detail in the future. To be specific, I believe that looking at the firearm during the reload, whether I am fighting or gaming, is important and beneficial.
Some people protest that you should never take your eyes off the target during a reload - that doing so is only for competition or "gaming." I beg to differ. If someone is trying to kill me while I reload, it isn't going to matter if I glance down at my pistol for a fraction of a second. They are still going to be doing the most dangerous thing they could possibly do, which is...try to kill me. My steely gaze is not magically slowing down their bullets.
The most complicated portion of a reload - perhaps better termed as the easiest portion of a reload to screw up - is inserting the magazine. During the time which the magazine is approaching the magazine well, looking at my pistol will help me return it to shooting condition as fast as possible. The weapon is already in front of me, it's not as if I need to turn my back to the threat to look at the magwell. If looking down speeds up my reloads, it follows that this will enable me to stay alive longer in a real gunfight.
It just so happens that this also makes split times faster during competition. Look, just because something is valued by a competition shooter (see the above linked photo of Bob Vogel) does not mean that it is immediately suspect for "tactical" or "gunfighting" purposes. It may or may not be useful, but it should be evaluated on its merits, not simply whether it is a "game" technique or not.
Here's what Mike Pannone had to say on the topic:
You look at it with a quick glance. Anyone who says “no” isn’t realistic. I was taught in every shooting package I ever did by every unit I was in or contracted shooter I shot with that if you can see, you should glance down quickly (maybe .20 sec) to ensure proper orientation and insertion of magazine. If you do this properly you are creating the proper procedural memory. This will allow you to perform the act even when you can’t see because you orient the pistol to your body and oncoming magazine the same way every time. You lose nothing in quantifiable situational awareness that you wouldn’t lose by blinking 2 times in rapid succession but you are affording yourself the highest likelihood for success. If it is at night and you have NVG’s you may still glance down because that is part of the action but with time your situational awareness of limited vision will remove that. With any useful vision available I will look, without I won’t.
Summary- Looking for a split second when vision is available is the way every great shooter (military, L/E and sport) I know does it. They do this for a specific reason and that is to have the best likelihood of success without loss of situational awareness.
If you get the chance to take any courses taught by Mike, I would highly recommend doing so.
I guess this thought has been at the back of my mind for a while, I just hadn't voiced it.
I recommend a number of different types of ammo for carry because 1) supply levels vary and 2) most modern defensive handgun loads from major manufacturers are really quite good and compare pretty well with one another. Segue to pretty photos...
Yesterday I shot some HST in .40 and .45 underwater. The photos are pretty cool.
I'm totally not done with this, by the way.
As pretty as this stuff is to look at, it is also painful - I have plenty of scars from being sliced and poked by metal objects, but holding those bullets in my hand almost made me shiver. I would definitely not want to get shot by any of that stuff (duh).
Really, though, I would not want to get shot by any of the modern hollowpoint designs (duh). Although there's a sort of evil beauty in an expanded HST, I don't think they'd give me any more of an edge over a "less pretty" bullet that performed in a similar manner. And so, while I do carry with HST most of the time, that's mostly because I've found HST easier than other types of quality handgun ammo. I also have mags loaded with Winchester Ranger T and Federal Tactical Bonded and Speer Gold Dot. My J frame is loaded with Federal Gold Medal Match wadcutters.
Yes, there are minor differences when it comes to penetration and expansion and performance through some barriers. The details truly do not concern me. I don't feel any safer with one type over another. They all function in my handguns. They all shoot decently well in terms of accuracy and precision. By the way, I use projectile weights on the medium to heavy end of the scale for a given caliber - 124 and 147 for 9mm, 165 and 180 for .40, and 230gr for .45.
There are two main things to look for when it comes to defensive ammo, and they're exactly the same as what to look for in hunting ammo - projectile design/construction and sectional density. Assuming that the projectile is impacting the target within its designed performance window, and that it is impacting in the right spot, little else matters. All of the modern hollowpoint designs have good construction, and heavier bullets for a given caliber mean higher sectional densities.
So stop freaking out about carry ammo. There are many things that will matter more in a self defense shooting than whether you were carrying P9HST3 or P40HST. Buy a lot of whatever you can find, make sure it works in your gun, and don't let it sit in mags too long (say, don't go past six months).
Have a nice day.