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Archive for the category “Safety”

Why Gun Shows Don’t Allow Loaded Guns

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More than once have I read, from non shooters and anti-gunners, derision at the fact that gun shows are sticklers about not allowing loaded guns. They see that as obvious proof that gun owners are all negligent morons who cannot be trusted with their own safety, much less the safety of others.

Then comes a story like the one from last weekend, where a vendor at a gun show in Orangeville, Pennsylvania, accidentally shot a woman while demonstrating a concealed carry wallet holster.

In the same weekend, another person was killed at a gun show in Texas.

It’s obvious things are out of hand.

Fortunately, no. Here is the truth:

Probably no one is safer with loaded guns that the folks who attend gun shows, be they vendors, salespeople, or shoppers. Most have spent their lives around guns, and will go the rest of their lives with no incident.

But, the key to gun safety is awareness.

Pay attention.

Every gun show I have been to has had police at the door, reminding us to unload our guns before entering. So, it stands to reason (and a casual reading of the news reports confirms) that it is when you combine a lot of vendors, each excited to show their products, with a lot of excited shoppers, and the aisles are full and bustling, that the awareness shifts. Vendors, anxious to demonstrate the latest, overlook Rule 1. They are paying attention, just not to gun safety.

And accidents happen. And will happen.

So, once and for all, the reason we don’t allow loaded guns at gun shows isn’t because guns can’t be trusted, or gun owners can’t be trusted, it’s because, in all the excitement, awareness and attention get sidetracked.

Are accidents at gun shows a real epidemic in America? I think not.

A Google search will show that there aren’t a lot of accidents reported. One study even concludes that guns shows present no significant danger, either in accidents at the shows, or from the guns sold there.

On the other hand, there were 120 deaths among fast food workers in America in 2012.

Now, I know that comparing the two isn’t valid, and it’s probably something we would yell at the anti-gun crowd for. But my point is this – if we have that many deaths, and many more injuries, in a workplace where everyone should be paying attention to safety, don’t become inflamed when an isolated accident happens in a venue where people sometimes slip up and pay attention to other things.

So, the next time you’re at a gun show (especially if you are a vendor), pay attention to the Rules of Gun Safety. Always.

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Be Prepared, Part 11 – Chaos

zombie-hordeSeptember is National Preparedness Month, so I thought I bring you at least one more installment in this popular series, Be Prepared.

As events like the Boston Marathon bombings, September 11, and Hurricane Katrina have shown us, our world can be thrown into Chaos any time. Keeping our families safe is always a priority, and in a time of Chaos, it becomes even more important, as it becomes more difficult.

Of course, the problem with Chaos, as Jurassic Park’s  Dr. Ian Malcolm would tell you, is that anything can, and does, happen. It is, by nature, unpredictable. You cannot predict, with any degree of certainty, what will happen, or how people or systems will react to any given situation.

But that does not mean that we can’t make plans based on scenarios that we think are likely to happen. The best example of this is the reason every car comes with a spare tire and a jack. We can’t predict when or where, or even if, we will have a flat tire, but we can be prepared for it, and train for it by learning how to safely change a tire.

Most readers of this blog have also done that in a more specific way, by deciding that there is a finite probability, as Tom Givens would say, that we will encounter someone who needs to be shot. So, we carry a concealed weapon, we train ourselves in its use, and we prepare to deal with those consequences.

So, make a plan.

When we did our family plan, one thing we saw was that a lot of times we might not have a clear picture of what was happening – there would be Chaos. For us, the best way to mitigate that Chaos was to have everyone in the same place, preferably at home. So, in the event of Chaos, we need to know:

  • How is everybody? Are they injured? Are they threatened, or are they safe? If they are safe, are there threats in the area?
  • Where is everybody? If they aren’t at home, how can we get them home safely? Can they do it alone or do they need assistance?
  • What is the immediate situation, and what is the outlook for the foreseeable future? Do we need to move?

Then the plan becomes taking care of the answers to these questions – getting everyone safely home. In the course of this, here are some of the things our family came up with:

  • Every vehicle has a first aid kit, ponchos, food, and water.
  • My son goes to school with a first aid kid, poncho, food, and water. If has has to, he can walk home 5 miles. He knows the way home cross-country, avoiding main roads.
  • My daughter goes to college in downtown Atlanta, about 30 miles from where we live in the suburbs. One of the things we plan for is the possibility that she might need to evacuate downtown, but that she might be unable to do so safely by herself. As a result, I never leave my car at night without enough gasoline to get downtown and back.
  • I know 4 different ways to her college that don’t involve taking a main highway.
  • In the event of real unrest, communication is essential. For that reason, everyone in my family has a printed list of phone numbers of all the other members, plus others outside our area. We don’t rely on the phone list in our cell phones, since those may be lost, broken, or the batteries may be dead.
  • In real unrest, cell phones will be overloaded, as they were after the Boston Marathon bombing, and making calls will be nearly impossible. However, since the SMS text system uses the cell phone’s carrier signal to broadcast, if you have cell bars, you can almost always send text messages. Our family shares a text messaging plan, and we also know the codes to send emails to text messages. Look that up for your carrier.
  • Because it might not be easy or prudent to send a long text message, we all have a list of codes to use in text messages.
  • Family members outside our area are included in the system. Heaven forbid, “bug out” might get real.
  • In event of real bug out, we have a series of pre-chosen rendezvous points, depending on the direction we choose to go, which would be picked based on the threat and likelihood of threat in the direction we choose. We also have them picked based on how far we need to go.

In the end, you can’t plan for everything, but you can expect the Chaos that will come. Have a plan.

Operation Red Cell

Actual break-in evidence photo from the Queensland Police, Australia. The criminals used the owner's ladder to enter the upstairs.

Actual break-in evidence photo from the Queensland Police, Australia. The criminals used the owner’s ladder to enter the upstairs.

For those who don’t know, the original Red Cell was a project started by Richard Marcinko, founder of Seal Team Six. Basically, the Red Cell’s job was to attack US bases and test their preparation for terrorist attack. He found them wanting, and was court martialed for his efforts.

What I want us to do today is to use this concept against our own homes and businesses. Look at them through the eyes of a criminal. Where can I break in? Where am I vulnerable? Where can I improve?

Of course, we have to be brutally honest with ourselves if we are going to get benefit from this. After all, we would love to think everything is just fine. But the truth is there is room for improvement in everything.

Next, take a look at the situation record what you find. Be thorough. Photographs or sketches can be a great tool, as it will help you see if the changes you’ve made are sufficient.

Then, sit down and assess what you find. Here, you will need to make a judgment call on what level of security you are willing to accept.

Look for places where an intruder can hide from sight. Light them.

Look for doors or windows that can be easily defeated. Fix or replace them.

Finally, commit to a plan and make changes. You don’t have to do them all at once, just prioritize them and make the changes with the biggest return first. If money is no issue, maybe you do them all at once.

I recently did this, and I found some areas that I could improve. One thing to consider is whether you have things lying around that can be used to break in. I found I was just leaning my 24 foot ladder against the fence, where it could be used to access the upstairs. Now, it’s mounted on the fence, and secured by a steel cable bicycle lock.

Now, I have a plan, and I’ve made headway. I’m not done. Heck, I will never be done. But my home is better off today that when I started.

Getting Serious

Let’s face it, none of us is getting any younger. Without details, let me say that if I were a pro golfer I would be on the Senior circuit. So the time has come for me to decide – am I going to move forward, or continue where I am and accept a gradual decline into the sunset?

I’m moving forward.

Fortunately, I have some experience to draw on in my quest for improvement.

Once upon a time, when Old Tom Morris was a kid, a friend gave me an old golf bag and set of irons. I went and played, and I was hooked.

In the next three years, I went from nothing to a 14 handicap. How? Immersion, practice and dedication.

I got involved. At first I traveled around our area, playing public courses, but soon I joined a club. I took lessons, bought good equipment, and practiced, practiced, practiced. And my scores got better. I learned new techniques. What was difficult before got easier.

Then I learned how to build golf clubs from parts. I also fitted clubs for others, and I still play with wedges and a putter that I built. Now, this is one area where my shooting has already paralleled my golf, because I am a Certified Glock Armorer, and I am well into learning how my other guns work and are put together,

What was the theme that tied all these improvements together?

Investment

There are several things I can invest in for my shooting future. First, I have always shot matches as a guest of the club where I was. This also means, when I want to practice, I have to go pay a daily fee at a range. So, I plan to join a club, so I can practice more, and have access to lessons and instruction. I am now looking at my options and hope to report something soon.

Next would be to invest my time in practice. I’ve written about this here before, but I am going to establish a real regimen, and stick to it.

Next would be in equipment. Fortunately, my equipment isn’t an issue right now. Yes, there are better guns out there, but, to borrow an analogy from my golf game, by the time a $1,000 driver would do my game any good, I wouldn’t have to buy them because a sponsor would give them to me. It’s the same here. I’m not limited by my gun, and by the time I shoot better than my gun, Glock or Smith or somebody will offer to give me one, provided I don’t remain anonymous.

Next would be involvement, and I’ve already taken some steps in this direction, by sending in my application and money to take an RO training class here in the Atlanta area this summer. Frankly, I think I am long overdue. In golf, I found that knowing the rules backward and forward helped my game immensely. I know it will here too.

I will invest in some coaching, too. There are a number of good shooters around here who teach.

So, look for future posts on my practice regimen and other plans.

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