Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct: It is my responsibility to stand against those who seek to eliminate the right right to defend myself.

All of the other codes rest in the knowing that it is our Constitutional right and our God Given Right that we posses guns for the Defense of oneself, family and our way of life. Anybody who threatens that right is an enemy until proven otherwise. These are hard words but disarming a population whether because they seek power and they cannot obtain it against an armed populace or they truly (and wrongly) believe that less guns is safer for society, leads to the ultimate result which is that we will end up at the mercy of Criminals and Corrupt Governments.

So it is up to us to stand up against anybody who seek to restrict or eliminate the private possession of firearms. Join whatever pro-gun lobby group strikes your fancy, write to your congress critter or any elected official, write to the editor of your local news rag, get in discussions with friends and neighbors on the benefits of the Second Amendment, do not let a lie against guns and gun owners go unchallenged. For many years we have been polite about our cause and mention facts and figures to prove our point. Facts and Figures only work with people who are really interested in learning but fail when people are closed minded and radicalized. Challenge their morality and their love for themselves and their family. THERE IS NO MORAL SUPERIORITY ON BEING UNARMED. Police cannot respond on time no matter how dedicated they are and most just arrive to draw the chalk line around the corpses or to call the paramedics to see if they can plug the bloody holes in the bodies. Ask them how’s is morally superior to let loved ones be tortured, raped and murdered because they refused to own a gun. Do they feel better at the sight of a child that died in front of them because they were unarmed and could not stop the attack by a nutjob?  Are they going be better loved by their wives and daughters because they were unable to stop the rapist that attacked them in a dark parking lot because it makes you a better person if you cannot defend yourself? It is a hate crime to forbid a gay person the tool to defend themselves against those who think is fun to stomp homosexuals because of their sexual preference. It is also a hate crime if bigots decide that the color of your skin is reason enough to hang you from the nearest tree or set your house on fire just for kicks. Those who consciously disarm the People are direct accomplices on whatever crimes befall the People and they should be held accountable just like any other criminal committing a crime may it be robbery, rape, hate crime or murder. The blood of innocents will be in their hands as sure as if they were there holding the victim down during the slaughter.

Get allies for your fight, get new allies by introducing new people to shooting. How can anybody be against guns if they never shot them? Very few people ever stay in the same anti gun frame of mind once they visit a gun range with a friend and have a chance to send some rounds to a target downrange. That does not mean they will become gun owners, but I can almost guarantee you that their stance will shake and very possibly crumble after the experience.

It is a never ending battle and sometimes you will feel overwhelmed and tired. If so, rest a bit, clear your mind and keep on. We are fighting a righteous war for our freedoms and our survival. You are not alone.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct: to keep my equipment in good condition.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct: To keep my equipment in good condition.

It is amazing how far and how reliable the shooting tools have become.  Guns can take an amazing amount of abuse, left without cleaning after thousands of rounds and still perform reliably. About a year I was at a range with a couple of fellow shooters and one of them, a fanatical IDPA shooter,  was using a Glock that sounded like somebody was applying a grinder to a piece of rebar. The movement of the slide was less than gracious too so I suspected that such gun was lacking a tad of lubrication. I asked the shooter when was the last time he cleaned his gun and he could not give me an answer other than in the last three months.  The weapon as disassembled and to say that it was dry as a bone and dirty as my thoughts would be generous. After a quick cleaning and lubrication (I keep an Otis kit in my range bag that rarely sees action) the gun once again sounded and behaved like it was supposed to. The shooter confirmed that the gun was performing better, but had never thought about it because you know, Glocks are so reliable. And indeed, Glocks, XDs, M&Ps, FN-Ps and the whole gamut of guns that have come out in the last 30 years are perhaps one of the most relaible we will ever see, but that does not mean they are perfect or maintenance free. They are man-made machines that will fail eventually and even more so if the proper care is not exercised. So keep your gun clean and lubricated.

Also, your ancillary equipment must be in good condition. Holster, mag pouches, belts, speed loaders, etc need to be in working order and you must make sure they are. Never assume that because they do not have the same complexity of parts as a gun they will not fail. A simple turn of a screw (or lack of it) may mean the difference between a life-saving moment or an Oh Crap! situation. This also include your range bag and the items in it. Is your eye and ear protection in good working condition? If something is to malfunction, Do you have spares? Cleaning kits? Spare ammo? A first aid kit? Anything that will keep you practicing is necessary because it is practice what keeps you efficient as a shooter. I know this sounds like a shooter’s silly version of For Want of a Nail but it takes just something that stupid to turn a possible situation from just scary and survivable to a visit to the local morgue by your loved ones in order to identify your remains.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct: to keep and hone the skills I acquired.

Shooting is a perishable skill.

Don’t ask me where I heard this, but it is one of the greatest truths out there. We can be dumb enough to spend a bunch of money in a class and then turn around and figure we don’t need to do anything else. Hell, we have a cute diploma proudly displayed in our wall which indicates we are certified in whatever shooting skill we chose to pay and we don’t need anything else. I am A Bad Hombre now.  Rubbish!

If you are one of those, I ask you to go to the range, set up a target at 7 yards, set up your rig as a normally do for every day carry and draw and shoot the one perfect shot. The one perfect shot is defined as the one that will stop a Bad Guy for good. It is the shot that will save your husband/wife/kid from imminent death, it will save YOU. And you don’t have all the time in the world to do it! Now, if you make that shot, cold bore without a fuss, great you can either be frank and admit it was the luckiest shot in the world and know that you did not account for the crapload of adrenalin that should be running through your veins during a Lethal Force confrontation plus other goodies that will affect you. You will also admit that you have been lax in your practice and shame yourself in retaking those basic drills and even look for some extra instruction. Or you can delude yourself and go back to the couch to watch your favorite TV show or playing the latest version of HALO in your video magic box… which contrary to wishful thinking, it is not gun practice.

So practicing on your own is boring as hell. True but it usually means we do not have a well defined system to practice acquired skills. There are many guides out there in the net on practice drills, but I am particular fond of CCW Handgun Drills because it gives you a wide variety of shooting exercises to select. Some are very quick and simple others more involved and with a higher round count. I would recommend to download, save and print a copy to keep in your range bag so you don’t have to figure out with a thumb doing a self-proctological examination what will you do next time you go to your local shooting house.  Pass it along to your shooting friends, I am sure they will appreciate it.

Practice is not good if we do not improve the areas of our shooting that need improving. You can be good at accuracy, but you are having troubles drawing your weapon from your regular concealment location. Or maybe it is your reloading process that needs work. Give yourself an honest examination, determine your weaknesses and then work on improving them. Some will be just simply repetition of drills you already know and might not even include firing a gun but others will escape you lever of knowledge and may require the use of an instructor. You can look for a local Certified NRA Instructor on line or ask other shooters about instructors they know. Call, fax, email the instructor and tell him about your problem. I am sure he will be able to come up with a suite of training plus exercises to fix that problem you are having.

And yes! Dare to learn more. Many great instructors and schools are out there for you to take b asic and advance defensive shooting classes. Valhala, Thunder Ranch, Gunsite, Blackawter, U.S Shooting Academy…. the list goes on and on and their instruction is first class. They are not cheap, but then again you are not taking classes on advanced funnel cake cooking but life saving skills. A trip to one of these places will be worth your money plus it would be a great vacation project.

And if attending an advanced school seems a bit far right now, try your hand at shooting sports like IDPA, IPSC, etc. Yes, I keep beating this drum, but it is more fun than just standing there and it is a great way to improve on your basic skills plus learn a few more for an immodest amount of money.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct: to train & learn any techniques that will allow me a chance to survive.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct (3)

It is my responsibility to train & learn any techniques that will allow me a chance to survive.

And nobody better than the late Colonel Jeff Cooper to illustrate this point.

“Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

It would seem quite obvious but it is quite amazing to see people owning a firearm that do not have a basic understanding of its use. Also, they do not go farther than the TV’s remote control to acquire training or learn basic defensive strategies and that is dangerous ’cause most 100% of the gun play we see on TV is tactically, morally and legally wrong. It is like the old Stephen Wright joke: “Put on your seat belt. I want to try something. I saw it once in a cartoon, but I think I can do it.”

What we need to do is to learn Defensive Shooting.

Defensive shooting is not regular marksmanship shooting.  You can go to the range, get you gun out of the box, shoot two hundred rounds through a one-inch hole and impress the heck out of everybody in the nearby booths and still get killed by a one legged drunkard with a knife in the parking lot. Defensive shooting is a combination of Marksmanship, Gun Handling and Mindset which is also known as the Combat Triad. I can expand into a long explanation on each of the parts of the Combat Triad, but it will be an exercise in futility since I am not the best writer out there. Instead I will recommend you search for a nearby school or instructor and please make sure you are realistic about your level of proficiency. In doubt, start with the basics and that would be NRA’s Basic Pistol Class. After that you can start searching for a local instructor in Defensive Shooting or again try the NRA’s Personal Protection Inside the Home and Outside the Home. A good source for information might be an Internet firearms forum where you can ask other shooters where to find somebody and what kind of instructor he/she is.Also and a great help would be to take up some competitive form of action shooting like IDPA, IPSC, USPSA, ICORE, etc. Any of these sports will teach you to shoot on the move and from different positions plus will add a slight shot of adrenalin to your range time. It beats being bored to death at a static range limited to one shot per second.

You can start giving yourself an idea on Mindset by reading and perhaps the best book would be Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense. It is a short book but filled with so much no-nonsense information that it will scare you. You may want to follow it with Massad Ayoob’s In the Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection to give you an idea of what you may face in a lethal force confrontation.

You have a gun to defend yourself and it is your responsibility to know how, when and the consequences that come with using it.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct: Not be controlled by extreme emotions.

Civilian Self-Defense Code of Conduct (2).

- It is my responsibility not be controlled by extreme emotions.

In our modern world, and specially in Urban areas, we are subjected to the possibility of verbal and non-verbal aggressive communication. There is always somebody with a chip on their shoulders or just having a bad day and they take it out on the first person that crosses their path which may very well will happen to be you. Somebody thinks you are driving to slow or that you cut them off and the infamous flipping bird will shoot out of their windows or a loud “Fuck You Asshole!” will be heard from the alleged aggrieved party.  Unfortunately in our modern society, we have been conditioned that we should respond in kind or risk to be branded as weakling of some sorts.  Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book On Killing, tells us that in the animal Kingdom (and yes, we are part of it) there are four responses when confronted by aggression: Fight, Flight, Posture and Submit. When  “attacked” we may choose respond in kind (Fight), to take off as fast as possible (Flight), to puff up our chest and make a big show we are not being intimidated (Posture), or simply cower down and surrender (Submit).

You may have noticed that I highlighted the word choose and that is for a reason. Even though we are attached to the Animal Kingdom and those four responses are automatic in most of us, we do have the ability to control them and activate them (or not) at will.  I volunteer that 99.999999999% of the aggressive interactions we have with others in an Urban Environment are nothing more than Posturing that goes no further than some foul words and gorilla-like chest beating. The issue is that we may transform a Posture into an Attack by responding in kind and then we may be forced to use Lethal Force to control the situation. Once this happens we are in a world of trouble because our Self Defense legal position has disappeared since we also incited the confrontation. A ‘Fuck You’ or a Middle Finger do not constitute an attack in which we may reasonable fear for our lives, period. We then must learn a new set of responses to these attacks.

Your best option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

I have seen this little tidbit of whole truth all over the Internet attributed to many different sources so I won’t even try to find the author. But do take this words and make them your personal mantra. Avoid any situation that can lead to a Deadly Force encounter. If you have to go to the store for milk in the wee hours of the night and you find a couple of toughies that look like trouble, put your ego away and go to another place. Yes, you have a right to go to the store but why get in trouble for a quart of milk? If your bladder demand immediate relief and the closest option is a well known biker bar, choose soiled underwear and pants if no other options are possible. A bit of embarrassment and load of laundry is much cheaper and safer than explaining to a Jury why you went inside that bar when any reasonable person would not. Choose no to attend any battles and you will win them all.

Deterrence is defined by Webster as the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear especially of punishment. I would add that it is any attitude (body language), tactics or devices we can use to make a potential attacker decide we are not easy victims. Whatever we can do to show that any potential reward that can be obtained by attacking you may come with a higher than intended price to pay, will help to keep attacks to your person to a minimum.   If we are in a mall just staring at the store fronts and oblivious to our surroundings, you can bet that a bad guy will notice you and mark you as a potential target. If you are sitting in a park bench, body slouched and half asleep, you are broadcasting to God and Country your mind is in bed and you pose no threat to anybody who wants to relieve you of your belongings. Be alert and make sure you face & body shows it. Constantly scan your surroundings and walk with as if you have defined purpose even if you are just strolling. If you are being watched by somebody, watch back, scan the person and and look into his eyes (No need to engage in a staring competition) to let him know you know. Except for the insane, the very stupid or the drug-affected individual, criminals will back off if they know the element of surprise is gone.

De-escalating is just the necessary maneuvers and behaviors we can use to reduce an ongoing and possible dangerous situation without the use of Deadly Force.  If you accidentally bump into a jackass and he explodes in a verbal description that includes your Mom copulating with assorted animal farms, apologize and try to leave safely. This is where most of the Posturing stance will occur with the fraction of them that might actually turn nasty. And this is where we must make the biggest effort to control our outrage and avoid getting baited into a clash of Egos.  Do not return the Posturing with some of your own and raise your “shields” in case an attack is incoming. This kind of display quickly runs dry if there is only one person doing the screaming and grows exponentially if the other party responds and augments the attack.  I have personally found that remaining impassive but alert after I extended the apology goes a long way in defusing the other guy’s actions. The ‘Posturer’ finds me not responding to his words and actions while I am not displaying fear (even though I might be a mess inside) and his ego will be satisfied or maybe realizes that there is something else going on that he is not aware of and that might not be the best thing for him to remain in his course of action. Either way the spew of cusses will eventually die down and the situation disappears. Avoid getting yourself in trouble. Leave the Ego safely tucked at home.

In explaining what other may do, I wanted to emphasize what we should not do. We are not immune to emotions but we can control them to a point where we can use them in our benefit. The late Col. Jeff Copper in his booklet Principles of Personal Defense stated that when confronted by an aggressive response we should change our fear into indignation. Indignation is much easier to control because it requires an intellectual process, the “How Dare He?” and at that level we can tailor our response to the situation at hand. The emotions can also be controlled if we develop pre-planned responses to possible offensive scenarios. We prepare ourselves by asking “What If” and coming with multiple solutions and practicing them over and over just like we do our shooting. This is possibly the most important part of the whole issue because when confronted by an aggressive behavior, you will not have the time to sit an come up with a reasonable strategy that will get you out of trouble.

To summarize, don’t let the opponent’s emotion dictate your behavior and do not let your emotions get you in bigger trouble. Self Defense is also a thinking process but we must do the thinking way ahead of time because when the bell rings, you only have seconds to survive.