By Bill Tallen, VP Tactical Operations, Pulse O2DA Firearms Training, Inc.
Previous installments in this series have touched upon several fundamental concepts: the evolving nature of violent threats in our society, and the need for the decentralized response provided by self-reliance and self-defense rather than dependence on the state. The comfortable social contract of twentieth century America, which encouraged citizens to rely upon the state’s agents (the police and courts) and give up the means of self-defense is now shown to be bankrupt. The body count in San Bernardino is only the latest graphic reminder that when violence erupts, the police are seldom present to stop it.
Police deter; they disrupt; they follow up with pursuit, investigation, arrest, and prosecution; but they seldom defend. You must do that for yourself or accept victimhood: be the lady cowering under the café table in Paris with the unreasonable hope that the shooter will spare you, or be distracted, or that his weapon will malfunction. Hope is not a strategy.
Trained And Untrained
In all the recent buzz about armed citizens carrying firearms and defending themselves and others in public settings, the concept of training is thrown about like a five pound brick by people on all sides of the debate. We hear that citizens are never, and cannot be, as highly trained as police officers or military personnel – which is laughably false. We hear that concealed carry permits are granted with little or no training – which is sometimes true, because permits are issued by states with widely varying requirements.
Those close to the issue, with experience carrying firearms and conducting training, understand that many people who obtain carry permits do not regularly carry on their person, do not seek further training, and do not practice regularly. Those who do carry on a regular basis tend to be cut from a different cloth – they train in professional settings, they practice regularly, they are knowledgeable about the law and practiced in situational decision making.
Concealed carriers have built a generally admirable record of restraint and precision in their use of firearms. There have been occasional exceptions, but for each instance of bad judgment, there are many more of citizens who have made the proper decision to engage – or not engage – a violent offender and then executed that decision with caution, discrimination and precision, saving lives and giving the rest of us an opportunity to second-guess them in leisure, and add to our fund of scenarios for discussion and training.
A common element in every concealed carry course this author has seen – in five dissimilar states – and in the basic courses offered by the NRA and others is clear discussion of the criteria for legal use of deadly force. Sound decision making under stress based on the criteria of ability, opportunity, and intent needs more than a couple of hours in a classroom, but the concepts are simple and universal, and most people who keep firearms for self-defense are at least familiar with them.
Today’s focus is on individuals using firearms to defend themselves and their property – in some instances, we have to modify that to “on their property” where statutes do not support violent defense of property (we’ve heard of such places, but would not choose to live there). Given that you are lawfully armed in a public setting or on private property, it is your responsibility to be conversant with the law, as well as skilled in the use of your equipment, and realistic about your own capabilities and limitations.
Look for comprehensive, quality training and be willing to learn. We can’t train you with 1,000 words or one million, but we can offer an outline to help you define the skills and abilities you need to develop and maintain. We use the familiar training objective construct at Pulse for task catalogs and mission essential task lists for organizations and institutions. It works for individuals and families just as well.
TASK: Demonstrate individual capability to defend self and/or others using Colonel John Boyd’s “OODA Loop” (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act)
CONDITION: In a public setting or on private property (owned or leased, or with the owner’s permission); with a legally carried handgun (at a minimum; long guns are technically and tactically preferable, where legal and available); against violent acts or threats not specifically anticipated.
- Comply with legal restraints on the use of force.
- Observe and Orient: Apply observation and analysis skills to identify the threat, risks to yourself and others, and your immediate options. Employ coup d’oeil (appreciation of the situation at a glance) based upon training, study, and experience.
- Decide: Choose a course of action likely to succeed (prior study, planning, and scenario-based training, will give you an advantage here).
- Act: Decisively execute your chosen course of action; if it involves shooting:
- Use available cover or concealment. (If none is available, remember Admiral Farragut: “The best armor, and the best defense, is a rapid and well-directed fire.”)
- Draw and present your weapon safely and quickly (this is a matter of properly selected gear, consistent habits of carry, and regular practice).
- Engage until the threat is neutralized (shoot well under stress).
- Recover, reload, and remain alert and ready to engage other threats that may appear.
- Provide or enable others to provide lifesaving care for the injured.
- Safely contact responding law enforcement (weapon down or secured, hands in view, follow all orders, remain silent except to communicate vital tactical information).
This is obviously a bare outline, but every portion of it is important to your success if you face a sudden violent threat. It should be obvious that an hour now and then throwing rounds down your lane at the shooting range will not be enough to prepare you for a fight for your life. Take heart from the fact that right-thinking, good-hearted folks do pretty well, most of the time, when they face this challenge; but stack the deck in your favor by training.
Please welcome the team at Pulse O2DA Firearms Training to the Daily Caller. This series will appear every Saturday. Over the next 10 weeks we will cover: