A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Most Important Ingredient

A gun, ammunition, a concealed carry permit. Often, people believe this is all a citizen needs to carry a gun. Some recommend a cell phone, and a less than lethal means of self protection as well. It is true that to legally carry a concealed firearm, all that is needed is a valid permit. To gain this permit in most states, an applicant must have no felony record, pass minimum standards of marksmanship, perhaps attend an NRA sanctioned course, and submit affidavits attributing to their psychological well being. Many holders of a CCW believe this is enough, and legally, not much more can be required.

I, however believe that the responsible CCW holder should go further. What the law requires is the minimum standard. The mature person realizes that protecting oneself involves making quick decisions under extreme stress. When a firearm is introduced, the stress is often that of imminent death. This is an inherent and inescapable factor of self defense.

Many honest citizens have never actually faced violent criminals. Most people, are not familiar with the stresses that occur when they are facing immediate death or incapacitating injury to themselves. Indeed, most are not familiar with the stress that occurs when others nearby are facing immediate death. The mind short circuits, pares down perceptions to those needed to survive or escape. The body flies out of control as the sympathetic nervous system takes over. This is foreign mental territory for many.

Imagine driving down a tortuous highway at 75 MPH and suddenly losing the steering in your automobile. Now imagine accurately shooting your firearm under the same circumstances. Next, imagine making the decision to draw and fire your gun under the same circumstances. The decision whether to draw, let alone the ability to accurately hit your target is severely compromised by the threat of immediate death. What quickly becomes apparent is the importance of never losing your steering in the first place. Thus, preventing the escalation of conflict is more important than groupings from your pistol.

Several cases I have recently attempted to blog factually on, illustrate why I believe training under stress is important. Garrett Mallot recently became so stressed in a verbal altercation on a Houston bus that the shot his assailant. He now faces murder charges. At the very least, his life as a free man will be forever stigmatized. At worst, he will never walk free again. The facts of the Charles Chieppa case are still foggy, although he has been acquitted of any wrong doing. He will likely live the rest of his life as the man who shot someone in the back. The case of Jamie Buck is much more cut and dried, but an attacker does not always give his victim the luxury of being attacked with a sledgehammer in his own home in the middle of the night.

As carriers of firearms, CCW holders possess the means of taking a life to protect their own. This ability does not bestow any extra authority on the carrier, just extra responsibility. Death is an irreversible phenomena. Taking a life irreversibly changes the lives of many others.
Thus, good judgment under extreme stress is something every mature carrier of a firearm should strive for.

How does one achieve this ability? Some advanced trainers train students under stress. They PT their students, introduce a verbal barrage of conflict, and expect them to hit their targets. The stress of an instructor yelling in your ear does not equal the stress of impending death, nor do the scrapes of rolling on the ground among gravel and shell casings. Simunitions and paintball are often used in force on force training. The sting of non-lethal rounds does not equate when the practitioner knows he will soon be eating his dinner instead of receiving a toe tag at the morgue. Martial arts and boxing teach a person to function in unarmed conflict with a given set of rules, but rarely with an opponent of superior strength and skill who obeys no rules.

All of these training techniques help, but they leave out an important ingredient. Familiarity with lawlessness and death is that ingredient. I believe the best way to learn to face criminal activity and potential death itself is through stress inoculation. Contact your local Sheriff to see if he has a ride along program for citizens, and then join a deputy on patrol. Volunteer at your local hospital's emergency department. Watch and learn how professionals deal with extreme, life altering conflict every day. Experience the finality of death. Know what it is like to continue to function according to protocol and law when logic screams run or fight like hell. Then train hard with your firearm. Expect no quarter to be given, no laws to be followed, and try to avoid the conflict to begin with.

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Blogger jrshirley said...

Actually...when you grow up in an abusive household, you always expect at least blows to follow yelling.

Which means anyone screaming at me during a shooting class will soon to told to shut the fuck up or we'll be in a real conflict right damn now.

1:16 AM  

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