As we celebrate Independence Day, we need to remember among other things not to take liberties with our liberties.
Open carry – that is, carrying or wearing a visible firearm out and about in public – has become a hot topic on both sides of the gun debate. On our side, there are some who claim “a right not exercised is a right that will wither away.” In recent years, it has turned out otherwise. Ostentatious open carry led to it being banned by the state legislature in California. More recently, a series of store and restaurant chains, most recently Target, have come out and asked customers not to come there armed with firearms. These have been direct results of AR15s, AK47 clones, etc. being carried in their premises for no reason other than “because I can.”
My own position is middle of the road. I would like to see the open carry of a handgun made legal in all fifty states without a permit, with the practice prohibited to convicted felons, those adjudicated mentally ill, and the like. First, legal open carry prevents arrest of concealed carry permit holders whose gun becomes visible when the wind blows their coat open. Second, when someone becomes a stalking victim or the target of death threats overnight, they don’t have time to wait for the bureaucracy to take weeks or months to process a concealed carry permit.
However, a growing majority of gun owners – including me – are fed up with clowns who sling a rifle over one shoulder, a camcorder over the other, and go out to show off and maybe taunt a policeman or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these people weren’t false-flag plants from the other side. Not all of them are, though.
It’s self-delusional to think that you’ll spread a positive Second Amendment image by frightening people already made leery of armed people in public by news reports of atrocities like Sandy Hook. The gay rights movement didn’t make the strides it did by having its members have sex with each other in Starbucks, and wandering into a coffee shop or department store with a loaded military style rifle won’t make positive strides for gun owners’ civil rights. A small handful of attention whores have done huge damage to the vast majority of responsible gun owners.
Enjoy the Fourth. I intend to be setting off some fireworks myself, but on the range. Hope you get some fun time for the holiday weekend as well.
Three weeks ago today, on Sunday June 8, I was in the fourth day of a MAG-40 class in Kankakee, Illinois. Among other topics of the day, I warned the students that one of the dangers of armed intervention was “tailgunners,” criminal accomplices who cover their “point man” while pretending to be shoppers, and will assassinate anyone who interferes with their fellow thugs. That same day, some 1800 miles away, that scenario was acted out with tragic results.
A vicious psycho couple walked into a pizza joint where two Las Vegas Metro officers were taking a meal break, and ambushed and murdered them. Taking the slain officers’ pistols and spare ammo, they made their way to a nearby WalMart. The male of the pair fired a shot into the ceiling and ordered everyone out. One armed citizen, Joseph Wilcox, drew his own Glock and moved toward the gunman. The tailgunner, the gunman’s wife, sidled up beside Wilcox and shot him dead. The two nutcases then shot it out with police, and died.
I’ve waited this long to address it because it takes that long for the facts to shake out. Early reports said one of the first two officers returned fire and wounded one of the perps; turns out that wasn’t true. Early reports said the armed citizen was female, and had wounded one of the cop-killers; turns out, no and no. First reports said the female psycho killed her husband and then herself; later reports say a police bullet killed him and she didn’t shoot him at all, though she did put a slug in her own head after being anchored by a police bullet in the final gunfight.
No one with a three-digit IQ has blamed officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo for their own deaths: they were bushwhacked suddenly and without discernible warning. Not so the private citizen, Joseph Wilcox. An amazing number of people on the Internet accused him of “getting himself killed,” with one idiot even suggesting that he died while “playing Barney Fife.” An interesting parallel was seen on two threads over at www.glocktalk.com. In the “Carry Issues” section, quite a few people thought Wilcox had overstepped his bounds. They took the position that the gun they carried was only to protect themselves and their families, not the public. Interestingly enough, in the “Cop Talk” section of the same forum, police officers felt he had done the right thing and agreed with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, who publicly proclaimed Wilcox to have died a hero and probably saved multiple innocent lives by interrupting the plans of the two whacked-out murderers.
Readers…I’d be very much interested in hearing YOUR take on this.
On Tuesday, we lost one of our great modern firearms and self-defense instructors, Louis Awerbuck. He had seen the elephant in South Africa, and came to the US to do what he did best: teach good people how to survive when other people were trying to murder them. For many years lead instructor at Col. Jeff Cooper’s famed Gunsite training center, Louie went on to establish his own school, the Yavapai Firearms Academy.
A master with pistol, revolver, and every kind of long gun, he was particularly noted for teaching the defensive use of the shotgun. His trademark was innovative shooting scenarios that duplicated real-world difficulties in which firearms had to be employed to protect the innocent. Awerbuck was one of the great trainers in his field, but more than that, he was a thinker. He understood better than most that in the word “gunfight,” the operative syllable was not “gun.”
In person, Louis was an absolute gentleman with a broad knowledge of relevant history and philosophy. He spoke with the same insight and dry wit that characterized his last page column in SWAT magazine, the one I always turned to first when my monthly issue came in the mail.
Fortunately, he leaves a legacy of books and training videos for those who didn’t have the opportunity to study under him personally. A list of these can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Louis%20Awerbuck .
Of the many eulogies pouring in from the training world, I think the most memorable came from our mutual friend John Hearne, who wrote, “They say that when an old man dies, a library burns. We have lost Alexandria.”
After three weeks on the road, about 36,000 shots fired by 90 or so students. I have some time at home, which will be devoted to writing. “Instructor” cap comes off, “gun writer” hat goes on. Ten or so guns will be tested in the coming days.
A couple of ‘em, I’ve already been running while “on the road” teaching. One was a P320, SIG’s new striker-fired pistol. It gave me a 300 out of 300 when I shot a pace-setter qualification with it for our Illinois class. If you’re testing a deer rifle for an outdoor sports magazine, you’ll want to go deer hunting with it; if you’re testing a combat pistol, well, you’ll want to shoot a “combat pistol course” with it to see how it performs. I spent a day carrying it; it rode perfectly in a Leather Arsenal inside the waistband holster made for a P250 the same length; no surprise, since the brilliant SIG engineer Ethan Lessard developed the P320 from the SIG P250 platform. The P320 in the full size configuration is not a small pistol, but it’s no trick to conceal a fairly large handgun if you know how.
If you’ve read many of my articles in the gun magazines, you’ve seen me refer to the “test team,” a group which varies depending on where I am when the gun is being tested. If you read my latest book, “Gun Digest Book of the SIG-Sauer, Second Edition” you saw the picture of me with designer Ethan Lessard, and the prototype P320 whose frame was marked “P250” because it was an early version photographed at the SIG factory in Exeter, NH before the final gun actually came out. Researching who developed the gun, and why, and how is part of the story, too. When I write a gun up for a magazine, it ain’t just me pullin’ the trigger and puttin’ holes in targets: there are small people and big people, lefties and righties, men and women, to see how the gun works for different potential users.
Sometimes I feel like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence: my friends do the work, and I get the credit, and my friends like being “the first on their block” to test a new gun most others have only “heard announced on the Internet” but haven’t actually seen or touched. But, the fact is, it gives me a helluva lot more useful feedback to pass on to readers about how the given gun is gonna work for a wide variety of users.
Confession: teaching may be the most satisfying part of my job description, but testing is sometimes the most fun part.
Spoiler alert: No, the slightly higher bore axis of the SIG P320 doesn’t make it kick noticeably more than any similar 9mm pistol, and yes, you can shoot a perfect score with it out-of-the-box with 40-some people looking over your shoulder.