Quality over quantity
I was recently sitting on the john going through some social media feeds and checking out the new high-speed gear that a lot of influencers in the firearm community regularly post about. I often find myself drooling over the latest and greatest piece of kit on the market. I’ll daydream about having a massive gun room secured by a gigantic vault door with all kinds of firearms hanging on the wall. Pipe dreams for a middle class household provider.
You look at some of these setups and think about the amount of money that someone spent on them. Hey man, this is America. If you want to spend your money on something like that have at it! I own multiple AR-15’s. I’d like to say each one has its purpose, but honestly, some of them I bought or built for the “cool” factor. I have a decent variety of firearms in my collection, but I just don’t really understand the logic behind owning a dozen or so of the same platform in the same caliber.
Quick side note because I know some people will overthink this. I’m not justifying a particular need for owning a gun. You do you, own all the guns! I’m just a frugal and logical person by nature and I can’t comprehend why this excess would be necessary. I think a large part of the community often gets wrapped up in the number of guns they own, rather than the purpose or training. One positive is that this excess has stimulated the economy. Many will argue that this panic buying or purchasing in excess has caused shortages. There is a legitimate argument to be made there. I like to think that such a boom in the industry over the past several decades has made the Second Amendment and the firearm industry a more formidable foe for those who would try to restrict our freedoms. Freedom advocates like the FPC, GOA and others have been able to develop a stable platform because of the excessive buying and involvement that has been garnered over recent years.
When I was growing up my father took me to the range and taught me responsible firearm handling. When I was old enough to have my own firearm, he taught me responsible firearm ownership. These lessons seem simple, but they have huge implications in my life. I learned to be responsible and care for my property when he gifted me an old shotgun he bought as a young man. I learned the value of human life when he taught me the 4 principles of safe firearm handling. We are always muzzle conscious, trigger conscious, we know what that bullet could hit should we choose to pull the trigger, and we have made a conscious decision to destroy what we are taking aim at when we fire the weapon. There is an internal battle within a person when they finally realize the potential impact they could have on another when forced to make a life or death decision. I am not the best voice to make this argument because I have not had to make that decision, but the training I received from my father and beyond has forced me to reconcile my internal dilemmas and really gain an appreciation for the value of human life.
I remember the first time I pointed my service pistol at a suspect. A million thoughts were running through my head. Primarily, I was focused on the tense developing situation and how to handle the altercation, but in the back of my head I had that moment where it became real. The situation had developed to the level where I felt it necessary to elevate my use of force for self-preservation. The reality was the suspect had forced this escalation because of his actions, and my decision to get into law enforcement in the first place would ultimately make situations like this routine.
I’ve never taken a human life, and I thank God for that every day. You read stories and watch documentaries of veterans that have been in some of the worst conflicts in recent history. The psychological toll it takes on a person is evident just by watching their facial expressions. These men and women have seen the lowest levels of depravity that our world has to offer, and they have to live with it for the rest of their lives.
I remember one particular call where an active shooter was blasting rounds off in a residential complex. We would come to find out the guy was completely plastered and decided that he would leave the party he was at to have a midnight stroll, which involved shooting his 9mm wildly into the air. Calls were pouring in; the flow of new information was like drinking from a fire hose. The area I policed was a small coastal town which had multiple residential areas separated by large densely wooded forests. Officers from surrounding agencies raced to the vicinity and we set up a rolling perimeter as the shooting had subsided and the suspect had taken off on foot. I had the pleasure of finding the suspect first. This dude comes walking around a corner from one of the wooded pathways and is covered head to toe in mud and dirt. It became quickly apparent that he was completely inebriated and was obviously an angry drunk. I slammed by patrol vehicle in park, stood behind the A pillar, drew my pistol and started shouting commands. The guy was yelling back, being a general ass, and initially failed to comply with my instruction. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate the high level of function that my central nervous system experienced at that point. I could feel every part of my body on high alert. I was alert and thinking at 1000 miles an hour. I was yelling commands out of instinct, getting on the radio and giving my location, scanning my surroundings to make sure he was an isolated threat, all while holding this guy at gun point. What I always found strange was that our brains can operate like this yet we still experience a significant amount of tunnel vision. It’s like our core functions focus on the most important threats while shoving everything else aside. Totally mind blowing how those two feelings and experiences can coexist.
It’s hard to convey on paper, but one wrong move and this guy was gone. I don’t remember when or how, but there were moments where I came millimeters from shooting this guy, literally. I had subconsciously placed my finger on the trigger and taken up the slack all the way to the trigger wall. I was prepared and ready, all because it had been engrained in me through my extensive training. At face value this may seem reckless. We always talk about keeping our finger off the trigger until we are ready to shoot. Many people don’t realize that officers are trained this way and the reason for this is because in situations like this we ARE ready to shoot. Taking up slack in the trigger is that final step before pulling it. After the smoke cleared and we got the guy in custody I went over this situation in my head. It was crazy to think that I did all of this without making a conscious effort. My brain knew exactly what to do out of self-preservation through training.
I’m not some elite high-speed low drag operator. I wasn’t even on the local CERT team (we were such a small agency that there was a joint task force set up where each agency in the area would designate select members to participate in these operations). All I can attest to is that the level of training I received had a major impact on my decision making and my self-preservation. Had I not received this level of training I’m not sure that I would have made the decisions I had in similar instances. Sure, the morality of shoot/don’t shoot is something that I believe all of us have engrained to some extent, but in practice the choices we are forced to make during high stress situations like this can take precedence over our philosophical ponderings. This is why it’s so easy for a jury to deliberate for months after an OIS when the actual shooting occurred in seconds. You think and act on a different level when you’re faced to make these split-second decisions. Our bodies, out of necessity, revert to primal instincts.
Just look at one of the more recent OIS’s where a police officer shot a resisting suspect when she clearly meant to utilize her taser. This is a prime example of deficient or ineffective training. That officer had a 20-year career under her belt, and somehow her brain did not realize that she was holding a loaded Glock safe action pistol, which weighs and feels significantly different than a taser. She’s likely held people at gunpoint dozens if not hundreds of times. Ideally, lethal and less lethal tools should be stored on opposing parts of the body and the act of drawing from retention devices should be significantly different in both practice and mannerisms. I really don’t want to poke that bear right now as we can spend hours talking about the finer points, but it just goes to show that there was a clear lack of training present. A good step towards preventing a situation like that would be to force repetitive draws under stress (i.e. physical exertion) while yelling commands that correspond with the tool being utilized. I used to make safe my weapons and supplement with dummy rounds then run on the treadmill and practice draws while shouting commands. I really don’t want to sound like I’m making a judgement call. I wasn’t there, I don’t know the entire context of the situation, and I don’t want to over speculate on this particular instance. I’m not familiar with this particular officer’s training regimen. I’m simply making the point that training matters.
At the end of the day we normal people only have a finite amount of resources, meaning cash and time. What are you going to invest in? Unless you’re a famous youtuber that has financial backing to give you that fix for your gun addiction, you need to make a choice. This may sound odd coming from a gun dealer. I need to make my nut so obviously I want to push inventory, but if I was contacted by someone who needed to make this choice and already had a sufficient loadout (I’ll need to follow up with another blog about the key items that every gun owner should have including first aid, daily carry, home defense, provisional, and SHTF) I would strongly suggest they invest in ammunition and training. Ironically, training seems to be such an underrated aspect of the industry. Sure, a lot of people talk about it and I’ll concede that it has become a lot more mainstream in recent years. People like Clint at Thunder Ranch and John Lovell of Warrior Poet Society have really developed a market presence which pushes the necessity within our industry. The left consistently makes the argument that the average American is undertrained and therefore unqualified to own and carry a firearm. I think it’s critical that we don’t give them any leverage or foothold here. This isn’t just for appearances or the fight for the Second, it’s also about the preservation of human life.
Once you pull that trigger there is no going back. It’s so easy to become content. I know that I need to get out and train more regularly. Since I got out of law enforcement I have severely lacked in that department. All of us can always find room to improve. If part of your morning ritual includes strapping a self-defense tool on your person you need to be competent and ready to use it. This is so much more than being able to make a nice tight group on a piece of paper. Get out and train. Invest in yourself. Find local tools and resources to make you the most proficient and competent that you can be. Hold yourself accountable and don’t become content. Content is a dirty word in the world of law enforcement. Being content gets you killed. A large portion of police deaths occur in the 8-10 year mark, reason being that this is the time in a LEO’s career where they become content. I know that I need to practice what I preach, and I hope you take this to heart. If you have questions about great local resources or materials please reach out to us. We would be more than happy to point you in the right direction, even if it means we won’t see a penny.
Refuse to be a victim.