Get a Gun. Learn How to Use it.

FYI. This is NOT a valid strategy for dealing with potential assault.
FYI. This is NOT a valid strategy for dealing with potential assault.

My wife has a friend who used to enjoy walking alone around Stone Mountain Park, back in her single days. She would take her little dog out and walk for hours, simply because she didn’t like being home alone.

“What if something happened?”

“I wasn’t worried about it,” she said. “There was a phone box.”

In other words, she was confident that if something happened along a deserted stretch of the trail, she would be able to make it to one of the phone boxes that they station every hundred feet or so, and activate it, before things got ugly.

In other words, she didn’t have a plan. Just a vague sense of security.

Nothing happened to her, by the way. Most of the times nothing does.

I have another friend who recounted how she was followed around Decatur during her nightly jog by two creepy guys in a car. They did a couple of slow passes, and then, at one point, they crept behind her for a long time. Eventually she found a well-lit, crowded place and called a friend to pick her up. The two creeps stayed out there, almost until her friend arrived.

These are two intelligent, capable women, but they hadn’t really thought about it. IT. The great, unforeseen Oh Shit moment. And they weren’t prepared.

Get a gun. Get a license to carry it. Learn how to use it.

It’s funny how that little bit of advise can be so controversial. The following is based on a conversation on Facebook.

Someone asks, “How can you carry it while you’re jogging?”

I can’t answer that. I don’t know what she wears when she jogs. I also don’t know what kind of gun this hypothetical firearm is. Finally, I am not a professional trainer or firearms salesman or bra holster maker guy.

I can’t answer that, but there is an answer.

But maybe I should have said, “Get a gun. Get the right method of carry. Learn to use it. Get a license to carry.”

“But someone will take it from her! If she has a gun, they’ll use it against her.”

Maybe…  Below is a list of other suggestions for the jogger, should the creeps resurface.

  • Nunchuckas (really)
  • Perfume, to spray in the eyes. (They could track the guys down from the sweet smell trailing behind them)
  • Pepper spray
  • A long knife
  • A big flashlight
  • Rape whistle
  • Rip cord activated alarm
  • Jogging partner (good idea)
  • Borrow a friend’s dog
  • Self defense classes

The only items on that list that can’t be used against her by an attacker are the borrowed dog, the self-defense classes and the jogging buddy. In fact, so many weapons can be taken and used against you that maybe we should be thankful that bad guys are considerate enough to bring their own weapons.

You can either give up and cloak yourself in prayer and positive thinking, or arm yourself and then prepare yourself as thoroughly as possible. Which still isn’t a guarantee.

Should I have said, “Get a gun, get a license to carry it, get a proper method of carry that fits your lifestyle and activities, and get professional training that will give you a tools and tactics for a variety of different scenarios while building on your situational awareness. Also, get a variety of training in both lethal and non lethal options so that the firearm is part of broad but pragmatic matrix of tactical possibilities.”

I thought that was implied. Evidently it wasn’t.

Get a gun. Get training. Get legal.  Photo from Fort Apache: The Bronx
Get a gun. Get training. Get legal.
Photo from Fort Apache: The Bronx

She could do all of the above. Krav Maga, a borrowed Doberman and a guitar case full of weapons.

But do something. Preferably something that won’t get you put into prison. Walking out of the house with a dagger strapped to her ankle would be wrong. And illegal. Nunchuckas? Very wrong. You might as well carry a broadsword. Perfume? Legal but wrong, on a whole lot of levels.

And all of the right answers come with obligations and risks of their own. There is no scenario with a fool-proof answer. Sorry. Even armed people get robbed, and trained martial artists get trounced on the street with alarming regularity. That’s life.

Also, guns aren’t for everyone. Another friend of my wife’s was car-jacked for her Benz last year. I said, “Get a gun.” She said, “They scare me.”

“Have you gotten training?”

“Yes, and a piece of hot brass popped down my shirt. It hurt like hell.”

Case closed. She isn’t going back. I asked her. Until she gets past her fear, a gun would be a liability.

But someone might take it from her and use it against her... Maybe, but I doubt it. Hamer woman with HKS rifle. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.
But someone might take it from her and use it against her… Maybe, but I doubt it.
Hamer woman with HKS rifle. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

But I’m sticking to my original statement. Get a gun, get legal and get qualified training. (Not your uncle who was in the Army back in the 80’s.) And while you’re at it, take everything that you read on Facebook with a grain of salt. Including this.

 

 

 

Kelli on #Queensshoottoo. A New Shooter who Took On Her Fear

Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to  cast her fears aside and see for herself.
Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to cast her fears aside and see for herself.

This week on #Queensshoottoo we are going to be going to the other side of the threshold. Dasia trains five days a week and is building her own rifle. Akua has been making bullets with her step-dad since she was 14. They aren’t common.

For every Dasia or Akua, there are hundreds of women like Kelli. She grew up in an anti gun family but decided to find out on her own. Now she is taking control of her education and discovery, visiting ranges and renting firearms.

She’s the first to admit that she isn’t an expert, but she’s on the right path.

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer.

What are your earliest memories of firearms?

My earliest memory of a firearm had to be in a movie because I honestly did not see a real gun until high school.

Were there guns in your home as you grew up?

My mom has never had a gun and chances are she won’t ever.

What were your parent’s attitudes towards guns?

My mom doesn’t like guns, she doesn’t like violence.

 What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?

As a child I was afraid of guns. I’m still somewhat afraid of them because of the power behind them. I use to get so nervous when I would see a gun, my stomach would knot up. Once I used a gun my fear calmed down. I’m still not 100% cool with them because I don’t know about a lot of guns.

Describe your first time shooting a gun.

My first experience shooting a firearm, it was right after my 20th birthday and it was a revolver. I don’t know what model it was. It was my first time having a gun up and personal, I was very scared. I did not know how to hold it or anything. The guy that worked there showed me everything I needed to know. I thought when I shot it it was gonna kick back hard but it really didn’t kick back much. I was very shocked of how much easier it was. It was kind of addicting when I started shooting, thoughts of how I could protect myself where going through my head. It was such an amazing experience. When I ran out of ammo,  I was very sad.

 20150315_105419Do you currently own a gun?

I don’t currently own one because I want to do it the legal way with a license so I can carry it on me if needed but I will in the future.

How often do you go to the range? What is your attitude towards training?

I go to the range every once in a while, it’s not cheap and I love training. Practice makes perfect and a better chance of me defending myself if needed.

 What advice would you give to someone who was interested in owning a gun?

For anyone that’s interested in guns, educate yourself on them and always handle them legally.

 What skills do you think that every gun owner should know?

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer. A lot of people don’t like guns but if they get educated maybe they won’t be so scared.

 

Don’t Be Shaneen: Know the Law

Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.
Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.

Yesterday I wrote about Shaneen Allen. I focused on the overzealous prosecutor, mandatory minimums and pretrial hypocracy. Then a friend who knows much more about guns and the law pointed something out to me. It could have all easily been avoided.

There will always be routine traffic stops and asshole prosecutors. But if you get a gun and a license to carry, you have an obligation to learn the laws, not just of your home state but wherever you happen to be. The moral here is Know your Rights.

Soon my wife and I will drive from Atlanta to Philly. Our trip will take us through seven states, each with its own set of laws. South Carolina doesn’t respect the Georgia CCW, but North Carolina does. Virginia is cool with open carry. It appears to be legal in Delaware, but not as common. Don’t even try it in Maryland.

That’s just carrying. What about transport? Virginia lets you carry a loaded gun in your unlocked glove box. In North Carolina, this crosses the line into concealed carry, which is a no no unless you have a concealed carry permit. (Open carry is legal. So what about driving with it sitting on your passenger seat?)

You get the point? The laws don’t always make sense, but it’s still our responsibility to make sense of them. And Allen should have known better.

Yesterday I wrote that telling the officer about your license was a courtesy. That isn’t exactly true. In some states like South Carolina, it’s a law. If you are pulled over, you have to tell the officer about your weapon and show him your license, whether or not you are asked. That isn’t the case in Jersey. Allen had no obligation to volunteer the fact that she had a Bersa 380 in her purse and he had no probable cause to look for one.

The relationship between Philly and Jersey is special. When I lived in Philly, we crossed the bridge whenever we got bored. We would go to the Mall in Cherry Hill, hit up the Olive Garden down the road and then end the night at the movies. Throw in occasional trips to Atlantic City and then jaunts to New York, I must have put in 10 thousand miles on the Turnpike. And I wasn’t alone.

I still don’t think she deserved to spend 40 days in jail. I don’t think her son should have had to watch his mom get taken away and I can’t imagine what it must be like fighting a possible five year sentence. But Shaneen should have known better. That information is just a Google search away.

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a link to Handgunlaw.us. They have a clickable map which will tell you everything you need to know.

This is the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action.

Now you really don’t have an excuse.

 

 

The Tale of Shaneen Allen, From Firearm Owner to Felon in one Jersey Lane Change

Shaneen with her two kids.
Shaneen with her two kids.

About two years ago, Shaneen Allen was pulled over on the Atlantic City Expressway. During the course of the traffic stop for unsafe lane change, she admitted to the officer that she had a pistol in her purse. She didn’t have to. There is no indication that the officer was going to search her or her car or purse.

During the course of the traffic stop for unsafe lane change, she admitted to the officer that she had a pistol in her purse. She didn’t have to.

 

Allen had gotten her CCW license in Pennsylvania following two violent assaults. CCW holders often tell officers about firearms during traffic stops, partly out of courtesy but mostly to avoid surprises and shootings if the officer happens across the firearm.

If Allen had kept her mouth shut about the 380 Bersa Thunder, there would be no story. She would have gone home that night, paid a ticket and returned to her life as a phlebotomist and mother two of in Philadelphia. Instead she spent 40 days in an Atlantic City jail facing up to five years in prison on charges of illegally bringing a concealed weapon into the state.

Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.
Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.

New Jersey has some of the harshest gun laws in the country. Guns have to be locked, unloaded in the trunk with the bullets kept in a separate space. It’s one of those details that a whole lot of travelers don’t know about. It’s also why pretrial intervention exists. To separate women like Allen from the criminals that the law was designed to target.

Allen would have likely spent the next few years behind bars, serving as an unlikely example for women who have suffered from violent assault and chosen to protect themselves. Don’t try it in New Jersey.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said he was following a 2008 directive that expanded the state’s Graves Act and did not allow for pretrial intervention. The Graves Act provides for mandatory minimum sentences for firearms offenses.

Allen would have likely spent the next few years behind bars, serving as an unlikely example for women who have suffered from violent assault and chosen to protect themselves. Don’t try it in New Jersey.

Despite attention from the NRA, McClain was determined to prosecute. That is, until Ray Rice was filmed knocking his fiance to the floor in an Atlantic City elevator.

In the video Rice knocks his now-wife to the ground and then drags her limp body out of the elevator and down a hallway. Rice didn’t use a gun, but the brutality of the attack raised questions as to the role that the NFL played in the covering the attack up. It also raised questions about McClain’s zealous denial of Allen’s request for pretrial intervention.

The video was hidden for months. In that time, McClain quietly admitted Rice to pretrial intervention, despite the nature of the crime.

In September McClain bowed to pressure and Allen agreed to enter a pretrial intervention program. The program would have required her to give up her gun and complete 25 hours of community service to avoid jail time.

Now, Gov. Christie has granted her a pardon. Last Thursday, Allen’s attorney Evan Nappen said he and Allen were happy about Christie’s action, which awarded her a “full and free pardon” for all criminal charges and indictments arising from the arrest. The pardon also expunges her record and would allow her to become a gun owner once again.

The Allen case represented the willingness of prosecutors to turn a simple mistake into a life altering crime. When she was arrested, people asked why Allen didn’t know better. Jersey firearm laws are legendary. She had taken classes in Philadelphia. She should have known the laws for the State across the bridge.

But what was it about Allen that made McClain want to turn her into a cautionary tale? Is there a crisis of Black women with otherwise lawful firearms? Do Allen and folks like her really contribute to the mayhem in Atlantic City? If not, make examples out of criminals, and not women who make honest mistakes.