This article originally appeared at Ammoland.
By Tom McHale
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- While “Carrying for Terrorism” sounds like a Sally Struthers TV infomercial cause, it’s becoming a legitimate self-defense topic worthy of a rational consideration.
Let’s get one thing out the way first. The odds of you getting caught up in a domestic terror attack are pretty darn low. Yes, terrorism is now here on our shores. Actually, unless you work for the New York Times, you already know that it’s been here for decades. Yes, I fully expect there will be more attacks like the recent one in San Bernardino. Our enemies are persistent if nothing else and there is no reason to believe that they’ll take up a scrapbooking instead of decapitation if we promise to reduce the exhaust levels of Ford F-150s.
Nonetheless, the odds of your home catching fire are pretty low too, yet a prudent person keeps a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with observing reality and taking rational and prudent measures to increase the odds of successfully protecting your family.
But what about the arguments that concealed carry can’t have any meaningful impact on a terrorist attack?
Come on! A concealed carrier citizen isn’t going to be able to stop a terrorist attack!
Listening to this type of argument makes me crazy, because the people making these statements generally know nothing about the topic of self-defense. I saw a meme the other day illustrating a van full of SWAT team members armed to the teeth. The caption read something like “It took 23 men like this to stop the San Bernardino killers. What makes you think an average citizen with a CCW will be successful?” That misses the entire point.
Take your brain to the very ugly scene of a mass shooting. By its very definition, a mass shooting is unopposed – by design. Virtually all of them have taken place in a legal “Gun Free Zone” where the perpetrators knew that they would be completely unopposed for 10, 20 or even 30 minutes. Now imagine how that went down. Picture innocent people sitting or kneeling, with their hands up, waiting their turn to be killed, completely at the discretion of the killer. There is no scenario worse that that. None. A concealed carrier drawing his or her gun and getting killed anyway is not worse than that. Even that’s better as it slowed down the process of others being executed.
What stops this methodical and orderly killing? Disruption. It’s as simple as that. With any resistance, whether successful or not, the painstaking killing plan of the murderers is suddenly shifted into reaction mode. They are no longer the complete master of every second in the timeline.
In the recent Umpqua Community College shooting, the perpetrators plan was disrupted by the actions of unarmed Army veteran Chris Mintz. Mintz ran towards the danger, getting students in the library to safety before arriving at the room where the shooter was present. After yelling to people outside to call the police, Mintz was confronted by the gunman. Efforts by Mints to talk the gunman down failed, and Mintz was shot five times. Thankfully, he survived. Shortly after, the gunman killed himself when police started to close in. We’ll never know exactly how many lives that simple act of disruption saved, but it was a lot. People got away while Mintz distracted the gunman from his slow and methodical killing spree for a period of time.
Another example is the Clackamas Mall shooting, which happened just before Sandy Hook. A gunman armed with a rifle and over 150 rounds of ammunition went into Clackamas Mall and started shooting. He managed to shoot two people before he was confronted by concealed carrier Nick Meli. Meli aimed his gun at the gunman, who then ran into a stairwell and took his own life. Meli never even fired because he was worried about bystanders behind the gunman. That’s right, whether Meli’s handgun was a match for a semi-automatic rifle was irrelevant in this case. The killer’s complete ownership of the situation was disrupted and his plan foiled. Action and disruption means everything.
One more factor to consider is that the range of these attacks is almost always frightening close. Even if the murderer is using a rifle, the range of shooting is typically measured in inches or feet. In a crowd of people waiting to be executed at will, would a person or two in the mix with a handgun be able to inflict damage on the attackers? Would they be able to provide a few seconds of critical disruption? You tell me.
Would a concealed carrier be able to stop an attack? Maybe or maybe not. Will they get killed in the process? Maybe or maybe not. Will they disrupt the killer’s plans? Almost certainly. When seconds mean the different between life and death for innocent bystanders, a little bit of disruption can make all the difference.
So what’s the rational course of action? I would hope that you’ve read the owners manual on your fire extinguisher, so you know how to work it. Learning its operation as a stove fire consumes the dishwasher is no time to figure that out. If you choose to use a gun for protection, that concept is far more important. In a home fire, your lack of preparation can result in the loss of your home. In an active gun use scenario, we’re talking about immediate life and death consequences.
A few years ago, while terrorism was a real threat, most people planned their defensive strategies and equipment around the more likely scenario of a criminal attack. In those scenarios, small revolvers, and lower capacity pistols are perfectly rational solutions. Reviews of defensive firearm use encounters show that the vast majority of gun uses involve no shots fired. In the cases where triggers are actually pulled, a relatively small number of shots usually ends the attack. Should these types of planned and deliberate murder attacks increase in frequency, and I think they will, you’ll want more rounds. It’s as simple as that. Many folks, me included, are finding that they feel a little better carrying a gun with 15 or more round capacity and an extra magazine or two. I’m not telling you that’s the only proper response; I’m telling you that I feel more comfortable these days carrying a gun with 15 or more rounds.
If you choose to carry a gun, first and foremost, get training. We’re blessed with a myriad of self-defense live training options all over the country. As long as you do your homework, you should be able to find a good one near you. Worst case, watch and study reputable video training programs. Then put those strategies to work on the practice range. If your range doesn’t let you draw or shoot and move, then do it at home with a squirt gun. Only after you’ve made a commitment to training and practice should you think about whether it makes sense for you to upgrade your carry gun capacity.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
While I agree with the thrust of your article, I think you should distinguish active shooters (domestic terrorists) from radical Islamists (foreign-influenced). Domestic terrorists like the Umpqua and Clackamas shooters are basically unhinged cowards who are spooked by guns shooting back at them. For this, it is correct that showing armed resistance is enough for them to disengage their murderous ways and off themselves or run away like the yellow bellies that they are.
But when talking about Islamic terrorists, it is different. They have so much disregard for human life that they would maximize their body count to the point of death. See the Boston bombers. They had a firefight with LEOs rather kill themselves. The one who survived was badly shot, or he would’ve continued killing innocent people. The Charlie Hebdo killers fought it out with the French police and paramilitary forces, held hostages, and continued killing until they were neutralized. The Paris attackers methodically killed people in cafes, sports stadiums, and music theaters, and they only killed themselves by suicide vests when shot at by police. They had no intention of dying without a fight. And now the odd couple from San Bernardino, they also died fighting.
I think this is the big differentiator. Active shooters are cowards and/or mentally deranged and will commit suicide or surrender to the police at the drop of a hat. Islamic terrorists will die in a blaze of glory and be greeted in Paradise with wine and camels and virgins (I don’t know what the female terrorists would get).
I think we should train to assume that all active shooters are Islamic terrorists. When presented with a guy/gal with a gun shooting innocent civilians, we should think San Bernardino, not Clackamas, and engage them appropriately. I still carry a five-shot revolver, it is the most comfortable on my hands to shoot. But I am now training with a compact 9mm semi-auto. You’ll never know when you’ll need the high capacity and easier reloads until the day you see masked men carrying sporting rifles and shouting Arabic prayers at your local Kmart.
An active shooter is an active shooter. I have taught numerous Active Shooter survival classes and they all seem to go into the situation ready to die. The Muslims are the worst because they will gladly blow themselves up and die to get their reward in “Paradise,” but they are all murderers. I carry a G21 every day to ensure that I can at least have a chance to cope with any situation. I’ve spent time in Iraq and other Islamic garden spots, and I practice to deal with whatever i might need to in order to get myself and loved ones to safety.
While Dan does have somewhat of a point, many to most terrorist are still cowards!
Terrorists go to where they know they will not have any resistance. First and foremost, get rid of “gun free zones”. How are they working so far????
Few people have much ability to maintain their concentration when getting shot at, terrorists are no exception, foreign or domestic. A simple fact is if one trains, gets the right kind of training, (much of the training offered is poor to very poor for fighting an armed opponent), you greatly increase your odds of survival if armed and firing back!!
Use cover, pay attention to the front sight and it is amazing how often you will win out!
Remember the cop back East whom while holding the bridle of his horse, dropped the bad guy with one shot at around 100 yards!
It does not take 23 members of a swat team to kill a bad guy, it only take one round well delivered. However, well delivered is the key.
And yes, I do know what I am talking about, having been in gun fights.
as a new student to self defense with an arm weapon, articles like this give me a better fighting chance. If I educate my self as much as i practice at the range i can be better equipped. thank you.
Glad to hear you’re making an effort to practice and train! Shoot safe!
I enjoyed your article. I know it does little good to complain about it, but in CA we get 10 rounds to a magazine. The Federal government would like to accomplish that for the rest of the country. I hope that never happens and I hope that some day this violation of the Constitution that we call California will get this fixed.
Ron and all others in oppressive to our constitution states; while being restricted to only 10 rounds per magazine is less than desirable, a bit of practice largely can be used to make up for this restriction!
Take the time and watch actual videos of people whom are actually well trained and practice. You will be amazed!
It is a myth that restricted round count is going to make a difference. For those with out training, yes it can, those with training and practice, not so much.
Fact: with training and practice a magazine change takes well under 1 second!
Pay attention to your round count, and before you run out of rounds, drop and replace the magazine. There are even easy advanced techniques for keeping a revolver topped off.
Watch Jerry Miculek, it is all about practice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLk1v5bSFPw
Watch some Cowboy Action Shooting, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1BwUJ4–Qw
They use weapons designed over a century ago, some built over a century ago even.
Speed and accuracy are not dependent on magazine count or even type of firearm.
Hitting a target is dependent on mental attitude and practice! Pure and simple! 🙂
Do not misunderstand, I love large magazines and modern firearms, but I will never feel like the bad guy has an advantage over me, as I know that mental attitude is what is needed when the chips are done. If I have a weapon, I will make it work for me!
I agree. I will never cave in, but i also like carrying my G21 with 13+1 230 gr HTP HP rounds. Stand and fight against oppressive laws.
You’re definitely on the right track . . . education and practice are critical. I would also recommend you try to take a course in defensive shooting. They can run anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, and help you take the next step from shooting at targets on a range to learning to move while shooting and take difficult shots around obstacles and under pressure. The NRA offers them, as do many other shooting instructors.
Finally, please think long and hard and plan ahead for the fact that you may have to actually shoot an attacker to protect yourself or your loved ones. That’s a big step and you have to make your mind up in advance that it might be necessary to defend yourself. You can’t wait until the moment you are drawing your gun to decide you’re willing to do that.
vaya con Dios mi amigo
I can agree with the article and with the comments made about training. Without training you set yourself up for not being able to handle the adrenaline rush that happens in bad situations. Our gun club does IDPA type shoots every month, and I have also gone to Front Sight for training. Learning how to spot and deal with active shooters is something we need to be doing. If you have a gun club in your area, go and practice with your gun, get to know where there are IDPA and other types of training and shooting opportunities.