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                        Rethinking the Pro-Gun Strategy: Responsibility is Key

                        I have always been a very firm believer in the rights of law abiding citizens to own and carry ANY type of firearm that they might choose to own and/or carry! I have never thought it appropriate that one pass judgment upon another for the type of firearm that they might rightfully choose to own. I have recently heard that an "anti-gun" United States Senator said that their "pro-gun" opponents are "intolerant". I guess you can only be considered "tolerant" if you agree with the views of those who are considering you to be intolerant? Is that how this works? Anti-Gun advocates are no more "tolerant" of the Pro-Gun view than the pro-gun advocates are of the anti-gun advocates! I personally do not believe that owning a military-type weapon equates to its owner hunting humans! This argument is absolutely ridiculous. Does anyone ever argue that we should ban automobiles because people, on a daily basis and in thousands of more deadly incidents each year than are firearm related, drive irresponsibly, too fast, don’t pay attention, text while driving, etc. and, as a result, kill thousands of people each year? Its the operator that is responsible for the action of the object that they are controlling. On the other hand, those who believe that firearms should be banned have their own good, well-intentioned reasons - all for the good of the country. Lets stop these non-sense debates and focus on creating responsible gun owners, training to avoid situations that might be cause for the use of force and making good decisions should force against another human being be necessary. We are all Americans and we are all good people with different yet valid views in spite of these differences. It is imperative that we try and work together to make everyone as comfortable as possible on the issue. Why? Because the laws are the laws regardless of what your stance might be and, currently, law-abiding citizens can own and carry forearms. Let me be clear, I fully respect everyone’s opinion regardless of what side of this debate you fall on.

                        So what is the purpose of this article? It is a call for firearm owners to take responsibility and the steps necessary to train to make good decisions, know the laws, keep firearms secure and show our opponents that they can trust the people who legally own and/or carry firearms.

                        Why did this become an issue for us? In spite of our unquestioned, overwhelming support for gun rights, gun ownership and concealed carry I have recently had cause to rethink my position on the matter – for a fleeting moment at least! Buts that’s an eternity for me as I have never questioned this and always stood firmly on my Constitutional right to "keep and bear arms". Please allow me to set this up properly because, in the end, I feel no differently on the matter today, than I did prior to the “experiences” that I am about to summarize. I do however believe that winning the battle for gun rights is going to take some changes in thinking - and rightly so. We can no longer just fight on our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Even though this should be the only thing that we need to support the right, the country has changed and not nearly enough Americans stand on the Constitution as the final authority of this, or any other right. Like it, or not, the dynamics of games change and, with those changes comes the requirement for changes in strategy. Sometimes in order to survive, you have to adapt.

                        So here are some of things that gave me cause to "question" my position. First, on many occasions including several very recent, I have heard people within the jurisdiction that I serve say things like “if he/she comes onto my property, I’m going to shoot them”, “if he/she touches me I’m going to kill them”, etc.etc. I’m sure we’ve all heard people say these types of things on a fairly frequent basis. On one particular occasion I advised the  person to rethink this unless their life was in danger, to which they replied, “Why? The law says that I can shoot anyone who comes into my home or onto my property when they are not supposed to be there”. How many of you reading this believe that this is as "cut-and-dry" as these others do? I can assure you that many do!!

                        Secondly, when we began to advertise our first seminar, I posted the our flyer on a fairly well-frequented regional firearms forum. I was absolutely floored by the response that I received! Here are some of the replies posted in response to the information contained seminar flyer:

                        “Legal advice from police. Fantastic”

                        “If I’m threatened I will shoot. That simple”

                        “In my castle, doctrine says I shoot you”

                        “You break into my house you get ventilated”

                        “Ethical considerations regardless of the law? LOLWUT”

                        Practical Defensive Mindset  - “Not necessary. I have a gun”

                        “It’s ten pounds of @#$% in a five pound bag”

                        “If anyone takes this seminar, they will probably be thinking way too much about irrelevant BS to be able to defend their life”

                        “All you are doing is slowing them down if they are in a fight for their life for no reason at all because NH law doesn’t apply to any of this nonsense. Shame on you”

                        “Reality check: Most people you serve don’t trust or like you, but they are polite enough to not say it to your face”

                        These replies, from what I assume to be lawful and responsible gun owners, really made me stop to think about the matter of gun ownership. They made me realize that there really may be some law abiding citizens that should absolutely not have a firearm!

                        So it made me wonder exactly what the anti-gun establishment is really concerned about? Are they concerned about criminals with guns? Or is their issue with irresponsible people, which can absolutely include law abiding people, with guns? Or both? These people, and I’m sure there are a huge number of them out there, appear to be looking for ANY, even if only perceived, justification to take someone’s life! The more I thought about it the more I realized that these types of people scare me far more than the criminal with a gun. Why? Because the the chances of us coming across a criminal with the intention of using a gun on us is far lower than the chance of coming across an irresponsible gun owner trying to find a reason to use one on us. A criminal is expected to do us harm. A "legal" firearm owner is not.

                        The pro-gun movement has turned its focus to the "mentally ill" as the target of attention and, in-and-of-itself, this is a worthy target. But this then begs the question:

                        If a law abiding citizen is looking for any perceived justification to harm another human being, are they mentally ill? If the answer is yes then we are focused solely on the right type of people. If not, then these types of people must be included as a target of attention. Where this type of person differs greatly from the mentally ill category is that, in most cases, this may just be a training issue. And if its not, then they should probably fall into the category of the mentally ill right?

                        You may say:

                        “But New Hampshire has a law that says that if I am in my residence, or any place that I have a right to be that I am not required to retreat”.

                        So does that lead you to believe that the people authoring the above statements on the firearm forum aren’t really so wrong?

                        Think about this in regards to the “Stand Your Ground Laws”

                        Do they say that you have the right to use deadly force? Or is there simply just no requirement to retreat? Where does any law in New Hampshire, or any state for that matter, specify that you can kill or seriously injure another human being simply because they are on your property without your permission?

                        We have to ask ourselves the following questions:

                        Just because we can use force on someone does that mean that we should?

                        Just because the law says that we do not have to retreat from any place that we have a right to be, does this mean that its a free pass to use deadly force?

                        Are the laws as clear cut as people think they are?

                        What is “the spirit of the law” and how does it apply?

                        Do people even really know what the laws say or are they assuming what they say based on what they hear from others?

                        Should we own firearms if we are not going to take the time to train with them?

                        Do the Use of Force laws only apply to firearms?

                        If you use force on another human being, what standard will be applied by a court, jury or law enforcement to determine whether it was “justified”? “Was it reasonable, or not”? You had better hope that whatever action you decide to take will be considered reasonable by the 12 jurors who sit on your homicide trial. And it will be a homicide trial!

                        If you are ever placed in a position to have to make a decision about whether, or not, you will use force to defend yourself, it had better be a well-thought decision based on sound principles and you had better be able to clearly articulate what you did and why you did it. There are many ways to train for this and these are some of the topics of discussion in our Practical Defense Seminar Series.

                        The bottom line is this:

                        You are required to use the minimum level of force that would be considered reasonable to safely resolve the situation!!

                        Now, don’t the words "Reasonable", "safely" and "resolve" create a potential modification of the laws? The problem is that, if they do, they are subjective modifications aren’t they? What exactly is meant by “reasonable”, “safely” and “resolve”? There are no clear cut answers to this and they are all very subjective. Again, you had better hope the judge and jury on your case have the same opinions as you! You must give yourself every chance to make a good, well-thought decision within fractions of a second - just like Cops have to.

                        This is yet another area that we cover, in great detail, in our seminar series. You must not take “laws as they are written” or “laws as you assume them to be”, or “laws as your friends told you they are”, for granted. If you are responsible, you will take steps to learn and educate yourselves in these little discussed or covered elements of firearm ownership!

                        And a few final things to think about if you own a firearm:

                        Please shoot it frequently!

                        Become proficient in your firearms function

                        Learn trigger control and sight picture

                        This does not mean shooting while standing in one place, taking your time to aim and/or setting up every shot perfectly! When you train it must be under as realistic conditions as you can create. Move and shoot, get yourself extremely winded, shoot under pressure, shoot at moving targets while you are moving simultaneously, etc., etc.! Shooting a handgun is EXTREMELY CHALLENGING! I have seen many people miss a target, by several inches, even at 5 yards away. It happens. And this is under stress free ideal shooting conditions. What do you think will happen when stress and time factors are introduced? Do not think that you can point a handgun, pull the trigger and automatically hit your target. Trigger control is a very difficult thing to master and, unfortunately, the lack of it is the reason why people miss their targets. Trust me, there are few people on earth who can out-shoot the built in accuracy of a firearm. I should also mention that training with your weapon applies to any type of weapon - not only a firearm.

                        And remember, a weapon, regardless of the type, is absolutely worthless if it is not out and ready to be used at a fraction of a seconds notice.

                        Responsibility and good decisions only come with the appropriate training and repetition. Do you think that the anti-gun movement might feel a bit better knowing that we are taking the responsibility of firearm ownership very seriously rather than just simply fighting for the right because the Constitution says we have it?

                        Train to be responsible and make good decisions based on knowledge and experience!!

                        Published Apr 06, 2013

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