Why are we so resistant to learning from our mistakes?

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Last week I became aware of a YouTube video of a fellow shooting himself in the leg after making ready during a match. He starts the video off by proclaiming that it wasn’t his fault – it was his gun which malfunctioned and was in the hands of the maker’s service department for analysis of the “failure”.

I knew, ten seconds into the video, that it wasn’t the gun. I knew, just due to the fellow’s demeanor, that he’d had his ...

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How’s your situational awareness right now? It may not matter.

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I have a quick homework assignment for you. Watch the first minute-and-a-half or so of this video (you can watch the rest later, but now we have work to do!)

You see what your knowledge tells you you’re seeing. You apply whatever base comprehension you have to explain or make sense of whatever it is you’re observing. That’s what the truth is, really; an explanation or a point of view that fits what you observe. Whether ...

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Regarding the Boston Marathon bomb attack: ramifications and defenses.

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I’m still mentally processing the information coming out of Boston about the attack at the Marathon. There’s so much to say, and so much that could happen as a result of this horrendous act, that I can’t possibly do it all justice. So, if you’ll forgive me this rather informal bullet-point treatment of the subject:

– Once again, the news reports during and in the 24 hours after the attack were wildly inaccurate. The problem is that raw intelligence is by ...

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Reactions to a recent article: coming to terms with not being armed all the time.

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Most of the interaction we have here happen in the comments, but some folks prefer to send emails expressing their thoughts. Some of them are interesting enough to talk about.

On the recent topic of not carrying all the time (which I should have called “everyone does, but very few will admit to it”), I got quite a few emails thanking me for expressing a non-macho point of view. Glad to do it, though it’s not so much anti-macho as it is ...

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On not being armed: the discussion continues.

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Monday’s post precipitated a number of comments; here, on Facebook, and in my email box. Some of them were complimentary, some weren’t, while others were in the middle somewhere.

Many, I think, missed the point of the discussion. Allow me to illustrate with a question.

If there is a place where you cannot have your gun (because the law says you can’t), do you avoid that place altogether? I’m not talking out of principle – that’s another discussion entirely – but simply ...

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Do you carry a gun all of the time? I don’t, and you can’t if you want to have a life. Get used to it.

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Every so often I’ll get together with other people who are in the business of defensive shooting training. Invariably they are shocked – sometimes to incredulity – when I tell them that no, I’m not carrying a gun (whether I am or not – I just like to see the look on their faces) and no, I don’t carry 24/7 (nobody can, unless the never go anywhere.)

From their reactions you’d think I’d violated some sacred oath, or was insanely irresponsible, for ...

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Protecting yourself after an injury.

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In most areas of the country, it’s generally held that you may use lethal force to protect yourself if you are in immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily injury. One of the factors which can contribute to that perceived danger is known as “disparity of force”; that is, a marked difference in the ability of the parties involved to inflict injury.

If your attacker is much larger than you, or if he’s much stronger, or if he ...

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The myth of situational awareness, illustrated.

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This story has been making the rounds over the last few days, and some people in the training business have been using it as an example of why situational awareness is So Very, Very Important: “if this guy hadn’t been texting and been aware of his surroundings, he’d be alive today!”

Bull twaddle.

Frankly, I think it’s a perfect illustration of a controversial piece I wrote for the Personal Defense Network nearly two years ago. In ...

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Ramifications are everywhere. Especially in being prepared.

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The storm that hit the NE part of our country was more devastating than I expected – and I expected it to be severe. The original projected pressure of 939mb turned out to be very close to the actual 940mb recorded – the lowest ever for the eastern seaboard. When I saw that forecast pressure a week ago I knew it was going to be very bad, but even I was shocked at what eventually transpired. My thoughts are with ...

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Managing scarcity – it’s an important part of safety, because you can’t have or do everything.

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As I write this the storm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the East Coast. The remnants of Sandy are merging with a winter storm, sucking frigid air from Canada, and coalescing to form what’s being called a “superstorm”. The forecast is for extremely high winds, double-digit inches of rain, feet of wet and heavy snow in the mountains, and water level rises as much as 11 feet in some of the bays in the region. Current ...

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Over-react much? Comical training responses to the Aurora theater attack.

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Over at the Schneier On Security blog, Bruce Schneier talks about the concept of risk in relation to the Aurora movie theater attack. I found his analysis interesting, inasmuch as gunnies everywhere are talking about how they’d respond to such an event — and how they’re changing their preparations, “just in case.”

Some of the blogs, Facebook posts, and some forum discussions I’ve seen in the wake of the Aurora shooting are almost comical. There are people who suggest ...

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You’ll never look at a shopping bag the same way again: a look at a common trick.

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I’m not creative enough to be a criminal. Whenever I study their behavior, the ways that they invent to bilk or attack the innocent, I’m often impressed with their originality – and occasionally just a tad frightened that I didn’t anticipate the tactic.

This is one of those instances. On Greg Ellifritz’s blog this week he has a primer on the ways that criminals can use shopping bags to conceal weapons, and the ways to spot them. It’s ...

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Safety rules. Again. Until everyone gets them.

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From a new-to-me blogger comes the story that a woman in South Carolina was ‘accidentally’ shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy during a class to get her concealed weapons permit. The deputy was the instructor.

What’s interesting to me are the blogger’s comments: Jeff Cooper’s rules, he says, “are not flexible”. Oh, really? I’ll refer you back to my original article on the detestable Rule #1 for clarification. I think they’re tremendously flexible, ...

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When are we going to give up on this “Rule One” nonsense?

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The incident of a recently graduated Navy Seal shooting himself in the head has been widely discussed in the gun world. The most common refrain (and darned near the only one I’m hearing, proving Patton’s Dictum) is that he just didn’t pay enough attention to “Rule One.”

Nonsense. Go read my original article on that rule.

Here’s the issue: it’s not that he didn’t pay attention to Rule One. It’s that ...

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The snakepit of groupthink, or: don’t let other people do your thinking for you.

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Every so often I’ll have a spare moment and just happen to be sitting near the computer. It’s at those times that I visit one of the gun forums (fora?) just to see what’s up with the world. More precisely, what’s up in some very small portion of the world, one which is usually severely skewed.

One such moment happened last weekend while I was waiting for dinner to finish cooking. (Actually, I was waiting for my wife to finish cooking ...

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Stuff happens. Don’t let it happen to you, and think beyond just shooting.

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In light of the incredible earthquake in Japan last night, I’d like to instead remind everyone that self protection and personal security isn’t always about the gun.

Sometimes, it’s about the first aid kit.

Sometimes, it’s about the shortwave radio.

Sometimes, it’s about the camp stove.

Sometimes, it’s about the water purifier.

Sometimes, it’s about the emergency generator.

Sometimes, it’s about the stored food.

Sometimes, it’s about the solar battery charger.

I know that your neighbors laugh at these things; heck, there are probably more than a few readers ...

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A slightly different perspective on personal safety: first aid skills are a necessity.

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I’m sorta ‘into’ guns. If you’re reading this, I suspect you are as well. Because of this interest it’s tempting to focus on the gun part of safety preparations to the exclusion of everything else. No, I’m not talking about knives or canes or even empty hand skills, but rather the more mundane stuff like CPR and first aid and fire extinguishers.

Let’s be honest: it’s more likely that you’re going to need first aid (including response to life-threatening trauma) skills ...

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The Wrong Woman now has a blog!

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Kelly Muir at Wrong Woman has put up a blog to discuss the unique aspects of this new self defense program. I can already tell that it isn’t going to be your average self defense blog: her third post talks about serial manipulators and the language they use.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. This is something men don’t normally deal with, and thus I’d never really thought about such nuances of ...

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Attitude Change, 2010 Edition: what have I changed my mind about?

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I’ve been actively interested in the topic of self defense training since the early 90s. Over the last decade, particularly in the last five years, a lot of my original opinions regarding self defense have changed. This isn’t because I’m wishy-washy and unable to hold on to an opinion (just ask my wife!) Rather, such change is brought about by being exposed to new information, or because new research alters original assumptions.

As this year winds down, I thought it might ...

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Probabilities and perspective: what about protection from wild animals?

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I hope everyone had a great Christmas weekend!

Despite the holiday (or perhaps because of it), I got a lot of email this weekend. One of them asked a question that comes up every so often, and my answer to it has changed over the years.

The question is usually something akin to “I’d like a gun for protection against dangerous animals (bear, cougar) while out hiking. What do you suggest?”

In the past I’d have answered with a run-down of the best ...

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Striking a blow: empty-hand defensive techniques are important too!

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An area of defensive preparations where I’ve been quite deficient is in empty-hand techniques. I’ve been trained to shoot (obviously), to use a knife, and to use a Kubotan – but have learned precious little about using no tools other than what nature has provided.

The gun is an appropriate tool for encounters that happen beyond, say, two arm’s reach. Inside that space, however, the handgun is probably not the correct first choice. (It may come into play at some point, ...

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The annual ritual: make a lead test part of your yearly checkup!

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I have a physical exam every year, complete with blood panel. When they take my blood, I always ask specifically for a lead test to show how much of that stuff has gotten into my bloodstream. Last week the doctor did my blood draws, and today I learn the results. I expect my lead levels to be at their normal lows, thanks to a few sensible precautions.

First, I always wash my hands after shooting. I carry a package of those ...

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Draw fast. Holster slow. That’s how to not shoot yourself.

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Tam alerts us to a ND that happened at a Todd Green class. In his commendable reporting of the incident, Todd says “Never be in a rush to holster your pistol. We all know it, we say it, we teach it. Not all of us do it.” So true.

As instructors it’s easy for us to forget that reinforcement, and sometimes enforcement, are necessary parts of our job. Especially when we’re dealing with “advanced” students, ...

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An exciting new personal security resource: announcing the Personal Defense Network!

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This week is dominated by SHOT Show news, and in the midst of all the shiny new goodies it’s hard to remember that self defense isn’t just about hardware. Guns and ammo are easy to write about, so that’s what most people concentrate on. As a result, you find lots of sites that deal with hardware, but precious few with the software so necessary for survival.

That situation is about to change: the Personal Defense Network has gone ...

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What safety standards? Is there anything like an industry standard for firearms safety?

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On occasion I’ll get feedback on  my articles on safety, and some will opine that anyone who doesn’t teach ‘industry standard’ rules opens himself (or herself) up to liability problems. I’ve heard this argument more than once and it makes less sense each time I hear it – on several levels. I’m sure this view is quite common, so let’s tackle the subject head-on.

First let’s address the very notion that there is such a thing as an industry standard for firearm ...

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A violent reaction: despite what some might say, violence is a valid and necessary tool.

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I kept tabs on the concealed carry reciprocity bill that failed to clear the Senate this week, and the debates brought to mind comments I heard years ago regarding concealed carry proponents: “intelligent people have no need for violence.” “We need to reduce the violence in this world, not increase it.”

This reveals a fundamental ignorance regarding the place of violence in a civilized society. Violence, which is usually defined as an exertion of physical force against a living being, is ...

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A book you need: Meditations On Violence by Rory Miller.

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Gila Hayes over at the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network recently reviewed a book that I had to buy: “Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence” by Rory Miller. Miller’s treatise is about violent criminal behavior – how it happens, why it happens, and what does and doesn’t work to counter it. It’s written from the perspective of empty hand martial arts (as opposed to the martial art ...

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Risk assessment, or lack thereof: why aren’t you carrying?

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I meet many people who possess concealed handgun licenses, but don’t carry on a regular basis – let alone every day. The explanation is usually something along the lines of “I carry when I’m in a bad area” or “if I’m going into a situation where I’m more likely to need it, I’ll take my gun”. There are myriad variations, but the excuse always boils down to confusions between likelihood and consequence.

Likelihood (probability of attack) is variable. Yes, there are ...

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Is that gun loaded? Why are you checking to see if it is?

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In the comments to last week’s post regarding safety rules, someone asked why checking the condition of a firearm is never listed in any rules. It seems logical enough – why not check the condition of a gun when you pick it up?

I’d like you to think about that for a minute – really think: why are you checking it?

If you plan to shoot it immediately, I can understand wanting to make certain that it was loaded. If you were ...

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On the Virginia Tech massacre.

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At first, I wasn’t going to comment on the sad crime perpetrated on the campus of Virginia Tech this week. I figured that everyone, everywhere, was going to do so (with varying degrees of erudition and insight.) I decided there wasn’t anything I could add. Until…

Listening to the news on the radio, I heard an interview with two students who said that they were in “the room where he was shooting.” According to these people, students and faculty were hiding ...

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