Course Preparation
To prepare for your training with PPA, please read the following essays prior to class.


Serious Questions about Defensive Use of a Firearm

Violent crime is a relatively low-probability life event, but one that can have serious life-changing and life-threatening consequences. The following paragraphs deal with some very serious questions about defensive use of a firearm.

Personal choices about self-protection run the gamut of running from danger (if we can with a child in our arms or have the physical ability to do so), to using more effective means to bring an immediate fear of death or great bodily harm swiftly to a decisive end.

Safety of ourselves and our loved ones is much improved whenever a predator has to endure serious resistance, especially when he discovers there will be grave risk to his hide and he has no guarantee of victory.

Quite simply, it's not easy to victimize someone who has and knows how to use a firearm.

Reasonable people participate in lifeboat drills, have smoke alarms, wear seat belts, and buy insurance. We make these choices to plan against eventualities of life. Even though we may never need nor have desire to use them, we decide to have peace of mind.

Some folks choose to delegate the task of assuring personal safety to others. It has been said that such a view is like preferring not to brush your teeth because your dentist will take care of them.

When a threat to our safety comes, it's almost always immediate, very violent, and can't be postponed until we find time to make a call for help and then wait for a first responder to save us. Legally possessing and responsibly knowing how and when to use a firearm defensively, just in case, are reasonable. Each of us has the right, and yes, the obligation, to equip and train to be our own first responder.

The tools for self-protection can include pepper spray, sharp-edged weapons, batons, and empty-hand martial arts. Reasonable people that know lots about personal protection invariably choose firearms for the same reason the President's bodyguards choose them: they are the most effective tools for protecting innocent lives. No other means offers us and our loved ones as good a chance to remain un-hurt in the face of a criminal attack.

Some who train to qualify for a permit to carry a concealed weapon might not yet have made the decision to use or even carry a gun. Like lifeboat training and wearing seatbelts, it's a personal choice. If that weapon is needed to save a loved one only once in a lifetime it seems reasonable to have some defensive-use training just in case.

Most law-abiding citizens don't realize that use of a firearm or concealed handgun doesn't always involve firing it. In fact, when effective resistance is offered, 92 out of 100 predators retreat promptly. Another seven unwisely refuse to stop their attack but live to spend time in prison. The typical self-defense gun use results in no shots being fired, the predator is scared off, there are no news headlines, and lives are saved.

A verbal command, "STOP! Leave me alone! I have a gun. I WILL shoot you!" and the mere glimpse of that handgun are sufficient to discourage most predators. In the very rare instance where threat of a weapon doesn't stop aggression, firing it does.

Shed no tears for predators that are injured while victimizing. Breaking into our homes and preying on innocents in dark parking lots are not accidental acts. The choice to attack is the predator's. The choice to stop his attack and survive should be ours.

Lawful men and women CAN fight back effectively. We CAN protect our loved ones... provided we have some training.

By itself, not even the most potent weapon of any kind will do much to improve our safety. Guns aren't magical. Users must have some level of competence to operate them... not much different than learning how to operate any other kind of power tool. If I can change a tire, I'm more independent than one who never learned how. Same is true for the person that knows how to scare off an intruder rather than be a "damsel in distress" or helpless victim, hoping a hero arrives in time to make the rescue.

Bottom line is that behind every secure family is someone willing and able to protect it. As good husbands, wives, moms, and dads, we keep our kids safe from predators. We refuse to be prey. We prevent rapes, not suffer them. At 3:00am when something goes bump in the night we know how to give the wolf reason to think he picked the wrong house! By being armed and trained, we affirm our independence and rely on our own skills and planning to keep ourselves and loved ones alive and well.

"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend." (J.R.R.Tolkien, The Two Towers)

Your Personal Protection Academy trainers are Michael and Jenifer Bender. We provide common sense, self-defense training to fellow travelers, business executives, seniors, couples, lawful citizens and our son. We are certified to prepare you to qualify for multi-state concealed carry permits and can also teach basic safety and handling of your handgun. We'll train in classrooms, private homes, clubs, shooting ranges, and any place students will gather to gain freedom from fear.

Jenifer and I can't promise that one course will turn a novice shooter into an expert defensive marksman, but we're quite confident that through certified training our graduates have the means to recognize and avoid confrontations with predators, and then, if need be, to safely and effectively use proven skills and legal methods to protect themselves and their loved ones from death or great bodily harm. We train sheepdogs to protect their flocks.

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On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

Much of the following was paraphrased and abbreviated from an essay by Lt. Col. (ret.) Dave Grossman -- Army Ranger, psychology professor, author of texts on training for confrontations with criminals. Permission was granted to present it here.

An old retired Vietnam veteran once told me that most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.

The murder rate in our country is about 6.5 per 100,000 per year. The aggravated assault rate is about 400 per 100,000. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another, and the odds of being a victim of violent crime is less than one in a hundred, but also that about two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime.

There is a paradox. We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people. They are sheep. I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. Sheep cannot survive without protection. They need police officers, soldiers and other sorts of warriors to protect them from the predators.

Then there are the wolves, and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

Then there are sheepdogs. They live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.

If you have no capacity for violence, then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then what are you? You are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path, someone who can walk into the heart of the universal human phobia and walk out unscathed.

If we expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs, we know that sheep live in denial. That's what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. Although, many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed protector in their kid's school, even though our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He can sometimes look a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not, and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. Sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they wouldn't have had the time of day for a police officer. They weren't bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were carrying guns and clearing rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how sheep feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001, when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers, military personnel, and the passengers on doomed Flight 93 over Pennsylvania? Remember how many times you heard the word 'hero'?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He's always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night. He can make sheep nervous.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog readies for that day. After the attacks on 9/11, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference."

The sheepdog has one real advantage: He is able to survive in an environment that would destroy most sheep. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These convicts were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically programmed to be wolves or sheepdogs. Most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Todd Beamer, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who used his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. A transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents - from sheep to sheepdogs, and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

Here's the point I like to emphasize. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born as sheepdogs, and wolves as wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep, and that's okay. But you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones could be injured, maybe mortally, if there's not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs will make certain you never have rest, safety, trust or love in the community. But if you want to walk the sheepdog's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many police officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there's a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You'll never know it until the wolf appears to harm you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait for him to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him, a sheepdog. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the fire extinguishers and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them, but they are foolishly more afraid of the sheepdog's tools than the wolf.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by confrontations with predators because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope isn't a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear, helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in 'Fear Less', his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the sheepdog must strive to confront the sheep's denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

If you are a sheepdog who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself..."Baa."

This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It's not an all-or nothing, either-or choice. It's a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other.

Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9/11, the sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their sheepdogs and the sheepdogs started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically, at your moment of truth.

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Street 101

Darren Laur, a street-wise police officer in Canada, wrote the original essay, Street 101. With his permission, excerpts of that writing are among the following paragraphs with intent to give PPA students Darren's street-level understanding of how predators identify and attack their victims and how you might avoid those troubles. Enjoy.

Many believe the police are the first line of defense. That might be so in a perfect world, but in reality YOU will almost always be your own first responder. Most police departments are far more reactive than proactive with street crime. Wouldn't it be great if we could have a cop on every corner? But that's not going to happen. There will always be lots more criminals than cops, the reason it's called "the thin blue line." It's been 30 to 40 years since we've had enough cops. Criminals have little fear. Cops have become more annoyance than threat to their predatory activities.

Plenty of inexperienced criminals get caught. And even if caught red-handed, they're soon released. They learn from their mistakes. They and their attorneys know the ins and outs of the legal system, its technicalities, and the plea bargain process. There's little to deter their predatory behavior.

What is a street predator? Many could qualify, but the typical inmate in the Canadian correctional system for violent crime is a male between 15 and 24 years of age. He's between 5'9" and 6' tall and weighs between 175 and 190 pounds. That profile likely characterizes inmates in the U.S. as well.

Street predators can be put into two broad categories: Amateur and Professional.

The Amateur is an ego-based critter that's looking for a scrap "just because." You could be preyed upon by one of these characters simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's usually easily identifiable: walks with an attitude, elbows pushed away from his body, verbally aggressive and rude to people in close proximity, and his confrontations are often triggered by eye contact with his victim. His signs are those of ritualized combat. Signs can include splaying his arms as an expression of exclamation, beckoning with a finger and nodding of his head, bulging eyes, acquiring some sort of fighting stance, and closing the distance between a victim and himself.

The Professional street predator is often a serial mugger. He often attacks for profit. He can also be a rapist and a killer. He will avoid a real fight, unless he's certain he can dominate. He's not as easily spotted in a crowd as is the Amateur. The Professional is able to blend better with pedestrian traffic without looking terribly out of place.

Most often, the Professional's crime is stranger-to-stranger. Even his simplest street crime is preceded by a victim selection process that follows a protocol. Protocol usually involves the victim having little or no situational awareness and, through carelessness and inattention, becoming accessible to the predator in a setting and circumstance that the Professional needs to surprise and overwhelm his prey. It's worth stressing again that completed attacks almost always involve victims with little or no situational awareness, a factor the victim can control.

Professionals know enough to attack in sparsely populated locations: parking garages, out-of-the-way sidewalks or pathways, alleys, generally in spots where onlookers are scarce. He'll watch and wait for a brief window of opportunity, where his risk of being heard and caught is low. His attack will be at a time and place where he can surprise, overwhelm, and quickly gain complete control. Remember, he doesn't want a fight. He wants to overwhelm.

The Professional street predator will sometimes use a common tactic known as the "street interview". He'll walk directly up to a target, getting as close as he can, and make what seems like a reasonable request for the time, a match, cigarette, spare change, or directions. It's a move to corner or trap you between him and a safe exit, surprise and overwhelm. You can spot these warning signs. Let your intuition communicate with you. It will always be in response to something, will have your best interest at heart, and won't waste your time. If the hair goes up on the back of your neck, trust your instincts. You MUST put distance between yourself and the predator, increasing the "reaction gap". Do so very quickly. If it turns out to be a false alarm, so what. Embarrassment might be the alternative to something very violent and ugly.

You should be aware that there might be more than one attacker, one to distract while another closes from behind. Here again, surprise is the foremost tactic. Other situations can involve packs or swarms of criminals, again with one distracter and others to surround. They might drift towards you so as not to alert you of their intentions. Your situational awareness must include watching for people standing across from one another in narrow spaces, hallways, staircases, or alleyways.

If the element of surprise is not available to the Professional, he might employ other street interviewing tactics to test the waters, more distraction techniques. He wants to know if you, as a potential victim, will be low-risk/high-gain prey. While you comply with a seemingly innocent request, he'll move into surprise attack position.

Another Professional tactic is the "distant interview". From across the street or well behind, he'll assess your body language and situational awareness to determine if you're a target of opportunity. His victims seldom recognize that a predator is present.

Yet another technique is the "escalating interview". This is usually a pack or swarm situation that starts off relatively low-key, then building quickly to a point where weapons become involved. We males are the real targets in these situations, due to our egos. We don't even know what we're getting into until it's too late to disengage and evade overwhelming violence.

One more technique is the "bully interview". The Professional might say something like "What the #@&% are you lookin' at?", hoping you will respond in kind and give the monster reason to attack. The interview might start with eye contact and persistent glaring, then the bully question, back and forth banter, finger pointing, arm flailing, escalating interview, one or more shoves (intelligence gathering to ascertain your abilities), and soon after, to an actual physical challenge as in "Let's #@&%ing go right now!"

After one or more of the above "interviews", the Professional will be in his "assessment stage". If he assesses his intended victim won't be easy work, he'll often abort and move on to a safer target. If his assessment is positive, he's likely to escalate. First, he might employ very course language and threats of extreme violence. He wants to create panic because he knows your mind guides your body. If you're in panic mode you're much easier to control. He'll probably promise not to hurt you, if you comply with his demands. He makes promises so you won't make a scene and increase his risk of being seen, heard and caught.

Next, the Professional adds violence. Sometimes it's minimal, intending to freeze his prey and allow him to take what he wants. Sometimes it will be frenzied and extremely violent, often employing a sharp-edged weapon or club. He might have an accomplice. If you sense violence is imminent, don't go into denial. You must accept that the predator's one intent at this stage is to totally disable or even kill you before you can launch an effective counter attack.

What signs should you look for? Although the Amateur and Professional are different beasts, they exhibit similar warnings signs before assaults. All signals can be characterized as some sort of ritualized combat. Look for them. They're indicators of trouble in the offing. If you see or sense any of the following behavior, you must IMMEDIATELY create distance between yourself and the predator and keep your awareness up.

His head, neck, and shoulders are pushed back.

His face is red, twitching, or jerking.

His lips are pushed forward, baring his teeth.

His breathing is quick and shallow.

He's perspiring.

He has that thousand-mile glare.

His movements are exaggerated.

He's finger-pointing or moving his head in pecking motion.

He's trying to appear as if he's totally ignoring you.

He's giving you excessive attention and making direct, uninterrupted eye contact.

He's changed from being totally uncooperative to totally cooperative.

He appears or pretends to be stoned or drunk.

He's directing anger towards objects, like furniture, walls, etc.

Below are other more ominous signals. If you see them and cannot walk away or talk your way out of danger, you MUST take FIRST STRIKE and continue with a compound attack.

His face changes from red to white.

His lips tighten over his teeth.

His breathing is quick and shallow.

He changes body stance to edge-on or bladed, and drops his shoulders.

He closes his hands into tight fists (usually autonomic).

He starts bobbing up and down or rocking back and forth on his feet.

He seems to be sizing up your body parts as targets.

He puts his head and chin down to protect his eyes and airway.

He ceases all movement.

He lowers his center of gravity.

He sheds a coat or other clothing (very common).

His replies consist of few syllables.

If you think you can prevail in a confrontation with a Professional predator if you have no training, think again. He has REAL tactical advantages. A few are explained below.

Confidence: The predator won't attack unless he has complete confidence that he'll win the encounter. He'll often employ ambush.

Experience: His experience comes from applying his process on the streets.

Competence: He'll use one to two techniques that he'll have mastered. He knows what works and what doesn't because he's tried them in real street conditions.

Tactics: He likes simplicity, the more so the better. When he employs violence it's always a first strike, maybe a sucker punch or clubbing from behind. What follows his first strike is invariably very brutal and continuous, until his prey has been knocked out or grounded.

Psychological: Most of us believe this crap will never happen to us. When we're attacked we freeze. During life-threatening encounters, even the best of warriors experience an overwhelming adrenaline dump with attending tunnel vision and loss of most hearing and fine motor skills. The human body doesn't function well under severe stress, a huge advantage to the predator.

Real attacks aren't pretty. Unexpected engagements are sloppy, gross, and aren't the choreographed back and forth skirmishes we see on television and in martial art films. Remember this: The combatant that gets in that neutralizing first strike wins nearly every time.

Street fights are over quickly, usually within the first five to ten seconds, and are most often decided by a strike to the head. Street predators are headhunters. They understand the brain is your computer. Knock it out and your body will follow. You MUST protect your head and neck and always be prepared to see a weapon at any time.

Beware of your friends. They might want to help. If you're caught in a situation with a street predator, your companions might not be on the same page tactically as you. If you were alone in recognizing an imminent attack and have taken first-strike advantage, your friends might put you at a real disadvantage by helping to break up the fight. Very dangerous. While you're being pulled away, you might lose your earned advantage.

Lastly, to prevail in an attack you must have an offensive mindset. Be determined to survive, even if that means deploying first strike, attacking the attack, going offensive, and continuing with a compound attack until there is a decisive end to the conflict.

So, there are Mr. Laur's and our two cents worth. We hope it helps you stay out of trouble.

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First Rule of Gunfighting

Original story theme by Mark Moritz

Aha! I'll bet you expected there to be NO rules in a gunfight. Well, contrary to popular belief, there are.

The very first is, Have a Gun! If you don't, it's a serious breach of etiquette. Don't come without a gun. The first rule is so important it supersedes all others.

What's the best gun? What's the best ammunition? What's the best technique? Who cares!! If you don't have a gun when the shooting starts, nothing else will matter.

You can be the fastest gun in the West, with a $2,000, customized, compensated gun, loaded with +P nuclear tipped hollow points. So what!! If your gun is at home and a criminal starts shooting up the place while you're at the movies, you'll lose! If your gun is in the glove compartment and a predator starts blasting away while you're pumping gas, you'll lose! If your gun is in your desk drawer and the disgruntled former employee starts spraying lead while you're at the water cooler, you will lose! Shootings happen unexpectedly and fast. Read the papers. Helplessness happens often.

Ask yourself, "What if I had been there? What if I had been in that McDonald's when Huberty came in and started shooting? Would I have been able to fill my hand with something other than French fries? Would my gun have been on my hip or at home?"

"What if I had been in that post office when Sherrill shot everyone in sight? Would my gun have been out in my car?"

"If I had been an employee at that Louisville plant when Wesbecker came strolling in with his AK-47, where would my gun have been?"

You're kidding yourself if you think it won't happen to you because you don't hang out in "bad" places, like bars, pool halls, and crack joints. It's true that most shootings occur between lowlifes, but many others happen in places we routinely visit: restaurants, post offices, shopping malls, even elementary schools.

A lady (a real person) teaches at a preschool. When she's watching over the kids on the playground she has her purse with her. It's a Milt Sparks custom purse, with a built-in holster. In that holster resides a Heckler & Koch P-7, with which she's quite skilled. What a shame that Purdy fellow didn't choose her playground; she would have shot him within seconds and saved lives.

The author of this story recalled an evening with good friends at a nice restaurant. One of his dinner companions was a renowned International Practical Shooters Confederation champion, well-known in competitive circles. As was his custom, the author of this story was carrying a pistol under his sport coat. Another of his friends was carrying a revolver, and his wife had a .38 caliber Snubby in her purse. The only one not carrying a pistol was the champion shooter. His custom-made gun was unloaded, cased and locked in his car. If a psychotic former busboy had chosen that time and place to get revenge for being fired, the best shot in the place would have been defenseless and dependent on others for his safety.

Regardless of what type of gun you're carrying, the fact that you have it with you means you have a chance to help save lives. Have a gun!

Like many rules, Rule One isn't always easy to follow. There is still one state, Illinois, that doesn't trust its citizens to protect themselves. And in lots of places, legal or not, it's often socially unacceptable. And carrying a gun can be physically uncomfortable. How then, can all of us observe Rule One? We can't. But, we can carry in every other place where it's legal.

Certain Rules take precedence. For instance, Rule Two is "Carry the most powerful gun you can accurately handle." That is, if you're going to wear a jacket with big pockets, don't carry a mouse gun when you could be carrying a .38 or .45. However, if your only choice is between carrying something small or keeping your .45 at home in the closet, observe Rule One: Have a Gun!

With all the new clothing having multiple concealed pockets and all the other gadgets for carrying, you might also find yourself violating Rule Seven: "Carry the same gun in the same place all the time." Reasoning behind Seven is that you don't want to be scrambling around during a fast-breaking situation, slapping at various parts of your body, trying to remember whether your gun is on your belt, ankle, or in your purse. But as always, Rule One supersedes: If your best option at the time is having a small gun in an awkward location or having no gun at all, Have a Gun!

Have a gun! Have a gun! Have a gun! Have it within easy reach at all times.

As you were reading this, a convicted murderer was being transported to the county hospital. He just broke free of his bonds, cut the prison guard's throat, snatched his gun, and stole the squad car. He's just now pulling into your driveway. He's outside your front door. He'll break into your foyer in the next five seconds. Where's your gun? (...four ...three ...two...).

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