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Currently Browsing: Carrying / Self-Defense

But I’m Told This Never Happens

Concealed carry permit holders never stop mass shootings, right? That’s what the anti-gun folks keep telling us any time we bring up the topic. I noticed local media covering this fact, but not national media. USA Today? Nothing. The WaPo? Someone confronted the shooter, and he shot himself. Bloomberg’s propaganda outlet:

A young church usher confronted the gunman, who accidentally shot himself in the chest during the altercation.

They omitted the part the Tennessean actually reported:

Engle confronted Samson after he entered the church. Samson pistol-whipped Engle. After Samson shot himself, Engle went to his vehicle, got his own weapon and held Samson at gunpoint until police arrived, police said.

It would have been more useful had it been on him instead of in the car, but I’ll take it. There shouldn’t be any reservations about carrying in church. Churches are targets.

I Have To Agree on Armed Protests

SayUncle comments on the Second Amendment Foundation’s position on armed protests.

“We are not a fan of armed protests and highly discourage that,” said Alan Gottlieb, the founder and executive vice president of the SAF. “Firearms serve a purpose, and the purpose is not a mouthpiece. It’s to defend yourself. If you are carrying it to make a political point, we are not going to support that.”

I wouldn’t go to one of these protests unarmed, but it would be concealed. But I agree with Uncle: I wouldn’t go to one of these protests where both sides are idiots.

What you’re going to end up seeing are states passing laws against protesting while armed or starting to use laws on the books against parading while armed.

Final Thoughts on the Castile Case

I think whether or not a person cares about an injustice depends on whether they can see themselves in the shoes of the victim. That’s why it’s hard to make systematic change. People don’t tend to care about injustices they can’t ever see happening to them.

In this case, I think the answer is an unqualified yes that for just about all of us, we can see ourselves getting burned in a situation like this. Police training on how to deal with armed citizens has been a drum we’ve been collectively beating for a while, and the Castile shooting is a prime example of a department that isn’t offering proper training to its officers. I’ve seen on other forums people pointing out in the dash cam video: “Watch the action of his partner on the far right of the screen. That’s not the kind of behavior you’d expect from a backup officer when shots are being fired.”

This all jibes with what Prof. Joe Olsen, who lives in Minnesota, mentioned when this all first came to light in the media: the department in question would seem to have serious training issues. Here is the basic issue, from my point of view:

  1. Mr. Castile informed Officer Yanez that he was armed. At this point, he should have been reading the “not a cop killer” signals loud and clear, since cop killers don’t tend to inform the officer they intend to shoot that they have a gun before they shoot them. Philando Castile was signaling “I’m one of the good guys,” by informing Officer Yanez he was armed.
  2. Officer Yanez claims that Mr. Castile then reached for the gun. The girlfriend disputes this. Perhaps he could have been reaching for his wallet to show his license to carry. It looked to me in the dash video he already had some documentation out. If Castile did make a move for something without instruction, this was his mistake. But because of item one, it did not need to be a fatal mistake. The Officer overreacted.
  3. Our legal system is set up to create a high burden for prosecutors. The burden the state bears is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that the prosecution has to disprove a claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Absent any other evidence, I believed this case was going to end in acquittal, unless there was some evidence that was not released to the public that showed Castile didn’t make any kind of sudden or “furtive movement.” It is also a fact, perhaps an unfortunate fact but a fact nonetheless, that police are afforded a lot more leeway for reasonableness by juries than you or I would.
  4. Like Colion Noir, I don’t think Officer Yanez woke up that day hoping he’d have the opportunity to shoot a young black man. I don’t have any evidence he is racist one way or the other. I believe the proximate cause here is a lack of training on dealing with legally armed civilians. Do I think race played a role? Yes. I believe cops are going to be biased towards a certain way of thinking and acting when dealing with young black men. To argue that police don’t profile is foolish. That would be to assume they are machines rather than flawed people with biases. But the way that is overcome is training.

Finally, is the NRA wrong not saying much? Now that the jury verdict is in, no. I’m not big on second guessing juries, and so I can’t blame anyone else for not doing so. But I think they should have been out there talking about the case and expressing concern a lot more often and loudly than they were. The Castile case was talked about in the NRA Legal Seminar, but NRA certainly wasn’t out there talking about it much in public. It’s possible to have a discussion while still being respectful to the justice system and to the millions of police officers out there who know how to handle armed citizens.

The fact is that NRA needs to diversify its membership. It needs to attract young people. So it should be talking about these issues. While people with law enforcement and military backgrounds will probably always remain heavily represented among NRA’s membership, if the Association is to have a future, that future is going to look a like more Colion Noir, and a lot less like Ted Nugent’s fan base. By NRA’s silence, they’ve given the media and their opposition a great example to show the people NRA needs to attract that “Those NRA people don’t care about people like me.”

Finally, I want to end with this video by Massad Ayoob and Tom Gresham:

UPDATE: I’m also adding this multi-part Twitter rant by Julian Sanchez, because it’s brilliant.

An Open Letter From Colion Noir

I offer without commentary:

In The case of officer Jeronimo Yanez, I don’t feel he woke up that day wanting to shoot a black person. However, I keep asking myself, would he have done the same thing if Philando were white? As I put on my Monday morning quarterback Jersey, it is my opinion that Philando Castile should be alive today. I believe there was a better way to handle the initial stop. If he suspected Philando was a suspect in a robbery, there were ways to conduct that stop in a way that would have completely avoided the shooting altogether, but Yanez neglected to do so.

Read the whole thing.

How Not to Get Shot in a Traffic Stop

I’ve heard a lot of advice over the years, but if you ask me, the following things make the most sense:

  1. Don’t tell the officer you’re armed unless you’re in a state where you’re legally required to. This goes against the advice of a lot of trainers (who tend to be former cops and who also tend to know how to deal with armed civilians). Not every cop who pulls you over will be Massad Ayoob. Don’t talk about it, and definitely don’t touch it. The only negative encounter I’ve had in a stop has been in Texas, where I was legally required to inform. In all other cases, I’ve kept my mouth shut and things went smoothly.
  2. Note that the first bit of advice will only work if you’re not likely to be searched. That’s most of us, but not all of us. If you live in a “duty to notify state” or you fit the profile for being highly likely to be searched, you’ll need to inform the officer. When you inform the officer, don’t even think about uttering the word “gun.” If an officer hears that word, and misses some context, there can easily be an overreaction. I’ve heard this advice from Massad Ayoob at NRA’s legal seminar, and I like it. Turn your license to carry over with your driver’s license and inform the officer you are carrying, where the firearm is, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and ask him what he would like you to do.
  3. Do not, under any circumstance, make any sudden move once the cop knows you’re armed. Don’t reach for your wallet unless the officer knows what you’re going to do and OKs it. Don’t reach for anything. Don’t do anything without the officer giving you the OK. Don’t even itch your nose. Some cops will want to disarm you. Others will just tell you to sit tight and keep it holstered.

In my case in my Texas stop where I had to inform, the cop asked me to unload and make clear, then took the firearm. I was glad he had me do it. One of my fears with “duty to inform” is having a cop relieve me of a firearm who does not have good trigger discipline. That’s a big reason I’m a proponent of the first item: keep your mouth shut if you legally can and you’re not likely to be searched.

I’d rather deal with the fallout from “Officer, I will comply with your order to get out of the vehicle but I need to inform you that I have a license to carry and I am carrying. Please tell me what you want me to to do,” than to risk being the next Philando Castile.

The dash cam video in the Castile case is now public. If you carry a firearm legally, you should watch this:

The officer claimed he reached for the weapon. I shared Bob Owen’s belief on this:

While I have strong doubts about the validity of Yanez’s claims that he thought Castile was reaching for a gun, how do prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Yanez’s response to that perceived threat was both unreasonable and criminal?

A jury found the claim reasonable, or at least credible enough to support the Officer Yanez’s self-defense claim. I was not on the jury, and I did not follow the trial closely. If someone did, feel free to chime in if you have information I don’t.

But if you inform an officer that you’re armed, and then move for the gun, or move for your wallet or something else, even if your intention is to hand it over to the officer, you’re running a very very severe risk of being shot. Once you inform, and you should have your hands in plain view on the wheel when you do, do not do anything that the officer does not first order you to do.

UPDATE: I should mention, though it won’t help you avoid being shot, is recording your encounter. If Castile’s girlfriend were recording the whole encounter, and not just after the shooting, it could have changed the entire dynamic as to whether the officer’s actions were reasonable.

Another Topic, Discuss: Concealed Carry Compromises

A few readers commented on the new Concealed Carry graphic I’m using. I try to use graphics because apparently it makes your site more appealing, even though most sites that use them either have expensive stock photo accounts, or flagrantly violate other people’s copyrights. I don’t like to do either. No copyright issue with this one, because it’s me, taken about 14 years ago not long after I purchased a Glock 19 and a halfway decent holster. I was also an early adopter of Smart Phones, and at the time used a Palm Treo 270.

I’ve done a lot of dumb things over the years carry wise. The first time I ever carried in public, sometime around August of 2002, I was carrying a Bersa Thunder 380 in an Uncle Mike’s sausage sack. That’s what I had. I got the Glock I carry today a few months later, and then started experimenting with better holsters.

But one thing I did, really up until the iPhone 6 behemoth, is carry my cell phone at 2:00 and pistol at 4:00 strong side. Since the iPhone 6, I found a pair of pants and a jacket that has a cell phone pocket, and I use that. The iPhone 6 is too large to comfortably wear on a belt clip.

Concealed Carry

My placement of the cell phone relative to the firearm would horrify a lot of instructors, but I’m a firm believer that everything with carry is a compromise. If I had to follow best carry practices all the time, I wouldn’t bother with it, and I’m pretty sure most other people would not either. I’ll make tradeoffs provided those tradeoffs aren’t dangerous.

I’m willing to be convinced carrying a cell phone on a belt clip strong side near a gun is a bad idea, especially now that the phones are huge and I have other options. What does the Internets collectively think? Discuss.

Important Ruling From PA Superior Court

The en banc Superior Court, in Commonwealth v. Goslin, has ruled in favor of the defendant without dissent:

We disagree with the trial court’s conclusion that the language of Section 912(c) is vague.

Rather, we conclude that, in order to ascertain the meaning of Section 912(c), we need not look beyond its plain language. The plain meaning of Section 912(c) provides two separate defenses: possessing and using a weapon on school property “in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity” as well as possessing “for other lawful purpose.” (emphasis added, as Chief Counsel Prince specifically argued this exact construction and noted the different verbs utilized related to the different provisions)

The Court concludes:

Although we are concerned about individuals possessing weapons on school property, we are bound by the broad defense that the legislature has provided defendants in such cases.

Josh Prince is raising money for legal defenses, as the case is headed back to lower court for a re-trial. I wouldn’t exactly go carrying firearms on school grounds because of this ruling, but it seems pretty clear the legislature intended to supply a broad defense for people engaged in legal activity. We now have the second-highest court in the Commonwealth recognizing that.

UPDATE: More discussion here. It looks like the DA is dropping the charges rather than going through with a re-trial. Josh Prince also points out that this only creates an affirmative defense. The DA can still charge you.

Delaware Non-Resident Reciprocity Back On?

A reader noted that the blurb about non-resident reciprocity ending in September has disappeared from the Delaware Attorney General’s web site. Does this mean it’s not happening? Let us hope so. Many of us in Pennsylvania have Utah and Florida licenses to be able to carry legally in Delaware.

Blue State Tinkering With Reciprocity Agreements

Back when there was such a thing as a pro-gun Democrat, Delaware Governor Ruth Anne Minner signed a bill that granted the Attorney General of Delaware the power to enter into reciprocity agreements. Now it would seem those agreements are being modified, with Delaware to cease recognition of all non-resident licenses as of September 2017. This means that Pennsylvanians will no longer be allowed to carry in Delaware on a Florida or Utah license, as we can do now under the current reciprocity regime in the First State.

This is raising the stakes for getting National Reciprocity done sooner rather than later.

Constitutional Carry: The Wave Continues

New Hampshire passed Constitutional Carry today. It still needs the signature of the Governor, but Governor Chris Sununu has expressed support for the bill. If you recall, Maggie Hassan vetoed the bill last year, but since she moved to the US Senate (replacing Kelly Ayotte) she left the governor’s seat open, which flipped from Dem to Republican.

Should Sununu follow up on his stated support and sign, New Hampshire will become the 12th state to pass Constitutional Carry legislation. I expect by the end of 2017 we’ll probably have a few more.

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