Tuesday, November 26, 2013

About laws requiring concealed carry training...

2014 will mark a decade of legal concealed carry in the State of Ohio. With the likely prospects that Ohio's current House Bill 203 will make it to the governor's desk for a signature before the tenth anniversary of Ohio's law allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun; the Ohio concealed carry laws will have been successfully modified and revamped for the better over a half-dozen times since it was first passed.

Two aspects of Ohio House Bill 203 that will greatly affect many law-abiding citizens is that it would basically require automatic reciprocity with any state that issues a license or permit to carry a concealed gun... regardless of other states' training requirements, or lack thereof. The same bill would also reduce the minimal required training time from a total twelve hours down to four hours, while still requiring the same content to be taught and tested by a certified instructor.

This is both good news and bad news. First, the good news is that the state legislators behind the law realize fallacy of mandating a minimal training time of twelve hours required for an Ohioan to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun (at least that is what they call it in this state), but they still are requiring the arbitrary four hours of minimum training time even though the same law, if passed, will recognize permits from states that require no training at all.

The bad news is that there are a lot of people out there carrying guns that think the twelve hours currently required, and subsequently the four hours that will likely be required if the law passes... is adequate as a one-time only training to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. 

Here is my take on the whole matter of required training by states issuing concealed carry licenses and permits. First, states and governments in this country should not be in the business of issuing permits and licenses for fundamental rights to begin with, but it's what we're currently facing for the foreseeable future in many states. 

Second, the states and governments minimum training time requirements... and even competency requirements... for all practical purposes are pretty well worthless for determining any individual's overall, life-long or on-going level of ability to safely handle and use a firearm for self-defense.  If you don't believe me, just ask any law enforcement officer with more than a few years of experience about the overall proficiency of firearms handling and use by fellow officers.

Now I worked in law enforcement and I'm meaning no offense to those who are out there putting their lives on the line for the residents they serve, but let's be honest here. There are officers who are very proficient with their firearms and there are always officers - sometimes more that we would like to admit - that can barely qualify with the handling and use of their firearms, even with the pathetically low benchmarks set by many local, state, and federal agencies or governing bodies.

Ultimately, I believe in a concept that has all but disappeared in today's American society... the concept of personal responsibility. I think it is the personal responsibility of every individual person the chooses to use or carry a firearm, or any weapon for self-defense or other purposes, to maintain adequate levels of training, practice, knowledge, and ability to effectively and safely keep, carry, and use their tools of choice against those actively threatening or attacking them, without being a danger to their fellow citizens who are not.

Twelve hours of training yesterday may be more than enough for some people while a thousand hours of training fifteen years ago may be inadequate for others. As an NRA instructor, I've often heard people say that the NRA Basic Pistol Course - that is what Ohio's current training requirements are based on - is inadequate for concealed carry. Well, the law in Ohio requires a firearm safety course, NOT a concealed carry course... and the NRA Basic Pistol Course was never designed as a concealed carry course.

Now if you really want to judge the NRA's concealed carry training... you need to look at the entire sequence of almost thirty hours and hundreds of rounds fired on the range that is required to complete the sequence of the courses made up of Basic Pistol, Personal Protection in the Home, and Personal Protection Outside of the Home parts I & II.  After completing all those courses... then tell me what you think of the NRA's concealed carry training.  The NRA's curriculum was never designed to be and end-all and be-all for everyone, but to encourage ongoing training and practice.

The key to training is that is must be timely, effective, and relevant with regular, ongoing practice to truly be effective. I think it's up to each person to individually determine what is appropriate for themselves and their needs. As an husband, father, and individual... I know my limits and needs for training and practice. As an instructor, I also know the level of training I feel comfortable and effective teaching and delivering to others and I continually practice and seek out additional training opportunities to keep my knowledge, skills, and abilities at an effective level as an armed citizen and as a firearms instructor.

Minimal training standards and times mandated by law are often ineffective, as current laws for residents with concealed carry licenses or permits and laws and policies for many law enforcement officers have proven over many decades.  That is why a life-long pattern of good training and practice is invaluable, but requiring very limited training by law for a fundamental right guaranteed by our creator, a right that is assured protection via the Constitution from our government as an individual right... is not an effective idea.

So... what do YOU think... About laws requiring concealed carry training...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Shots Cold... Preparing for cold weather.

First Shots Cold... I think this may be an occasional, re-occurring theme.  As an instructor, I think one of my greatest assets is that I'm a life-long learner, an eternal student. As a shooter, I'm just an every-day, middle-aged, sub-height-for-weight-specs, guy... who is practical, realistic... a husband, a father, a friend, a neighbor. I'm not an operator, a tactical ninja, an urban warrior.

That doesn't mean that I'm not a proficient shooter. As an every day guy who carries a firearm for self-defense, I want to be sure that I can defend myself when the time comes. I am actively losing weight, exercising, weight-lifting, and watching my diet... but ultimately, the firearm gives proficient shooters a defensive advantage to a threat of death or serious bodily harm regardless of your physical condition when compared with going unarmed.

With that in mind, and with winter approaching... I have been practicing with layered clothing and heavy outerwear to get ready for the season of cold that is quickly approaching.  In the photo above, I'm wearing multiple layers including thermal underwear - top and bottom, for a total of four layers of upper body clothing and two layers of lower body clothing, hence the over-sized pants to tuck in some of the upper layers.

I prefer layered clothing in the winter so I can adjust my insulation level as I heat up or cool down with my activities. The layers create several concealed carry considerations. I can consistently draw from concealment and place a shot on target in under two-seconds at twenty-five feet in regular clothing for summer wear, but I'm slower in the winter with either my layered clothing or just a heavier coat or jacket like my parka. First, the belt is not as secure in it's position around my waist when on top of three, four, or six or more layers... and second, the layers mean I have more to deal with when accessing and drawing my firearm.  This makes a good, stiff carry-belt even more important.  

So how does this all relate to first shots fired? I practice often, usually using a timer for various drills, but the drill and time I'm most interested in are my first shots fired. Each time I go out back to the range and set up to practice... I get my timer out, I set it for a random start delay, and at twenty-five feet I draw from concealment and fire. THAT is the time and accuracy measure that I ultimately use to assess myself. 

Sure, I can drill and practice and drill and practice and see what my best time is... I often do that. I can game the scenario with a shoot-me-first vest and an OWB holster practicing for IDPA, but ultimately... I want to be able to draw from my concealed Comp-Tac MTAC holster with my every-day-carry Ruger SR9 or SR9c and put a center-of-mass hit on target at twenty-five feet, in my every-day clothing in under two-seconds.  Hence, I test myself when I take my first shots on the range by timing my first shots fired from concealment.

Winter clothing choices can really hinder your access to your firearm. While I usually carry on my strong-side hip, I will often switch to strong-side appendix carry with heavy winter coats and jackets. I like a winter jacket that has Velcro closures in addition to a zipper, because I can leave it un-zipped and just Velcro-ed closed for a quick, rip-n-access draw.

So... as the seasons change and your clothing choices grow heavier and more layered... make sure you're practicing... and ready for those First Shots Cold... Preparing for cold weather.