Defense

A well-regulated population, being necessary to the security of a police state,
the right of the government to register and ban arms shall not be infringed. -apocryphal

If you believe that owning and possibly using firearms is 'not your thing' or you don't want to think about having to defend yourself and your family, it's probably time to push yourself past these and other objections to being armed and skilled in their use. On the other hand, if you and your family are comfortable with the thought of one day chosing death (possibly including torture) over defending your lives, then you probably don't need to read this section. What I've written below is only for those who believe in their God-given right to life and peace and are willing to defend themselves and others, possibly including killing someone who is trying to kill you.

This is a huge and complex topic and cannot be covered in depth at this web site. Books I have found useful on this are listed under Resources (and some below).

While on the topic of Do I really need a gun?, let me simply say No, you don't! You are free to face armed thugs and looters with your bare hands or a baseball bat and watch your family die - it's your choice. If you really think that turning the other cheek is the right approach to a violent attack, don't expect your 'passifist' DNA to join the human gene pool. If you believe that having a gun and the mindset required to use it will attract violence to you, I suggest some light reading of recent history, say from the Holocaust onwards. I don't know how many millions of innocent and unarmed people (who were not thinking about guns and didn't have any) have been murdered (millions after being disarmed), but I do know that I don't want my life to end in the same way.

I find the idea of owning and using guns unpleasant (I'm a vegetarian and don't hunt), but I find the idea of being a victim of violence even more unpleasant. So I accept the responsibility of my own defense, in the same spirit as those who settled this country. Defending one's life and loved ones is a God-given right, regardless of local laws and customs. The rest of this page assumes that you are ready to be responsible for your own defense, especially when law and order have declined or are absent. Remember, the Second Amendment does not give you the right to keep and bear arms, it acknowledges that God-given or birth-right.

Since I view all guns (handguns and rifles) as tools for defense, I never see them as toys, collector's items, conversation pieces, decorations or anything other than tools. My guns don't have names, nor do my hammers, drills or screwdrivers.

Who is the enemy? The first question that must be answered, before any decisions can be made about defense, is "What/Who am I defending myself (and family) from? Who do I think is the enemy?" A lot will depend on the nature of the crisis or disaster and your answer to this question. see also Who is the Enemy?

What we call 'civilized society' is actually a cesspool with a dose of deodorant added to mask the stench (this reflects my observations more of city-based society than rural). Many, many apparently civilized people will do unthinkable things, when they are really hungry. This is not theory; recent history is full of true stories of what people do when starved (they always attack their neighbors before they starve to death). Now take 'Joe Sixpack', who is used to his big meals, coffee, beer, TV, tobacco, wine and other drugs, and observe the person he becomes when he has none of them for a week or longer. Oh, and he has some guns and lots of ammunition. Joe and his friends did not prepare for any crisis; they have no plan - they figure they'll just take whatever they need by force. See the problem? In a serious crisis, Joe and his friends will become your enemies.

Joe and his buddies could be police, security guards and ex-military right now as you read this. One firearms trainer whose book I read said that these are just the sort of men who attend firearms training courses, and he heard them talking about what they would do if TSHTF - use their arms, ammunition and training to survive, by taking from others. He said that these are the people he fears most post-panic. They have lots of weapons and are trained to use them, and they are used to military heirarchy-style command and obey organization. They would probably band together in gangs, possibly under the leadership of one such 'commander', as often happens in third world countries. Survival of the fittest on steroids. Are you beginning to see why you need to prepare for defense?

Sweet-smelling, fat and happy Joe becomes your next-door nightmare in just a week or two. "Ah, but there can't be too many people like that in our deodorized city, can there?" Sorry, more bad news: Just one 'Joe' in every hundred in a population of just 100,000 equals 1000 armed, less-than-rational, probably desperate and definitely dangerous people you might meet on your way out of town. "Look, honey, a roadblock, thank God the police are still in control... uh, wait, are they police? Oh, shit!, they're not police." Folks, meet Joe and his friends!

Or, take another example: Normally, law-abiding Joe (or Carlos or whoever) would like to break the law, just a little, you know, rob a bank or a 7-11, or the sporting-goods store. But he fears being caught and going to prison, so he doesn't. Take away the presence of police and watch what happens to Joe. When the fear of arrest is gone, 'nice' people begin to do things they normally wouldn't, criminal things. What passes for 'civilization' may simply be a lack of opportunity - deodorant covering our foul secrets. You want to be long gone before Joe and his friends go wild.

Again, not theory but historical fact. It starts in a classroom or home. Teacher Mr. X keeps order and apparent discipline by being a tyrant - he uses fear. But discipline imposed by authority is temporary. Watch what happens when Mr. X. steps out of his classroom. Spit wads fly, kids make faces and explode in a frenzy of fearless noise and mayhem. Why? Weren't these kids the model of discipline? Perhaps, but only when 'Mr. Fear' was present. Remove the fear and the discipline it creates disappears with it. And this is what happens to some adults when there are no police (fear) around. Look at videos of looting during earthquakes, riots and other emergencies, when there are few or no police patrolling city streets.

Self-disciplined people don't need an external authority to make them behave themselves. So, doesn't our consumer-driven, me-first culture teach self-discipline? (Yeah, right.) More like indulgence. Coming back to defense and who is your enemy... in a 'grid-up' scenario (electricity present or restored quickly), law and order may prevail. In a 'grid-down' crisis (no electricity for weeks), in a society almost totally dependent on electricity, expect panic and some degree of lawlessness, looting and violence. With no fear of arrest, Joe Sixpack and his friends might not hesitate to go looting or worse. Remember, today's economy depends heavily on the Internet to make sales in many businesses. No Internet, no sales. Ever been in a store unable to buy anything because their server was down? Imagine all servers down at the same time. People are trying to stock up on food, water and other supplies, and the stores can't sell anything. Crisis. Even in a grid-up, there will be panic buying, as soon as the word gets out that a crisis is coming. If you don't have your 'beans, bullets and band-aids' stocked, you could be in real trouble. Expect empty shelves real fast.

So, how do I plan and prepare my defense, when I don't know what will happen? What am I preparing for? Good questions. My suggestion: Prepare for the worst, welcome anything less. Since I believe that remaining in a populated area (city or large town) could be risky or dangerous (due to the absence of necessary supplies and law and order, and the presence of gangs and looters), my strategy (Plan A) is to prepare a Survival Retreat (see also my web site at www.SurvivalRetreatPlans.com), so I don't have to deal with panic, looting, violence, etc. My strategy is to live at this retreat year round, so the need to evacuate chaos or escape mahem doesn't arise.

I realize that many can't adopt this strategy right now, due to job and other commitments, but I suggest that you seriously consider preparing a retreat or at least a stock of supplies someplace you will be able to reach in an emergency. If a retreat is impractical for whatever reason, you can still bury supplies and recover them post-panic. That underground cache should include guns and ammunition, as well as food, water, clothing, tools and many other things that you will need and be glad to dig up. See the section on burrying a cache here.

See the books listed under Resources for some good information on preparing your defense. I particularly like The book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, by James Wesley Rawles, and I have read a lot of pretty good books on disaster preparedness. This book is the best I've found. Get this part (security and defense) right, otherwise all of your other preparations could be a waste of time. Where I disagree with Mr. Rawles is in the need for an arsenal of guns to hunt animals (I don't eat dead animals) and in some of his advice on what foods to stock (I prefer to dry foods than to can them and to make sprouts from seeds than stock low-quality foods like pasta and MREs).

Possible enemies: Looters and thieves will be armed, count on it and prepare for it. Don't bring pepper spray and a knife (no matter how big) to a gunfight. Nor will any gun protect you, if you don't know how, or are unwilling, to use it - get training and/or practice. Or take the opposite extreme. If you shoot a man from 500 yards with your scoped rifle, you may be asked to prove in court why your life was in danger. Can you even see what someone is doing from 500 yards? "Is that a looter coming to get me with an assault rifle, or my neighbor bringing back my shovel?"

What to carry? This is subjective and should also reflect the situation you face - your choices may differ from mine. The following list assumes you are bugging out on foot and carrying a BOB. If you are driving out, you have more options of what to pack and take with you. However, even driving, have your 'personal protection device' at hand, not packed in your BOB or the trunk. You might face trouble just trying to get out of town - count on it, unless you are leaving before the panic begins. Also, if you have to abandon your vehicle, have all of your necessary gear in a BOB that you can grab, without having to re-pack. Carry a bicycle on your BOV, in case you get stuck and can't drive further.

Choose gear that works for you, and that you know how to use. If there are police or National Guard patrolling your area, don't open carry anything (weapon), certainly not a rifle, because you will be seen by them as a threat that needs to be neutralized. If lawlessness (no police) prevails, open carry might be wise, especially if looters are doing so. Here are some suggestions on what to carry:

1. Pepper spray - a LTL (less than lethal) response (on belt) - for hostile dogs and 'difficult' people

2. Pistol (on belt for open carry; belt holster, IWB or shoulder holster for concealed)

3. Backup pistol* (belt, ankle holster or BOB) - some experts prefer a second gun (on belt) to a reload.

4. Magazines for both pistols (on belt or shoulder strap)

5. Folding rifle** w/ sling (concealed, uses same ammo/mags as pistol, packed in BOB) - i.e. concealed rifle

6. Full battle rifle w/ sling (open carry only in lawlessness, no police) - You might be able to stuff a folding-stock or removed-stock rifle in your backpack, without anything showing.

7. Cleaning kit (in BOB)

8. Spare parts (in BOB)

9. Extra ammo (in BOB) for all guns, in addition to extra mags on belt

10. Knife*** - folding or fixed blade clipped or in sheath/case on belt (more as a tool than for defense)

Consider LTL response to non-life-threatening offenses (difficult/aggressive people) and aggressive dogs. Pepper spray works. Use lethal force only when necessary. Panic and mahem are not a licence to shoot people. Defend yourself and others, but don't become another trigger-happy gun nut, simply because you are armed and there are no police around. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Note on extra mags: I found digital camera cases in the thrift shop, each with a belt loop, that hold three Glock mags, so I can carry on my belt and it looks like a camera (open concealed carry?). I added two more belt loops on back for extra wide belts and for strength.

* Note on 3 above: If you are in a critical situation where you have to reach for a spare mag, because you have fired your gun until it is empty, consider a second gun as accessible as a spare mag instead. No time wasted in reloading, just continue firing with the second gun. I have studied books by the best teachers and trainers of armed combat, and at least two (Stephen Wenger, Defensive Use of Firearms and David Kenik, Armed Response) gave this advice. Wenger uses 5-round revolvers. Well, a backup is probably wise, since a total of ten tounds in both guns is still far short of the Glock 19's 15 + 1 and the Glock 17's 17 + 1 rounds (mag plus chambered round). The real issue, however is speed - it's faster to put a second gun into action than to reload an empty one, regardless how many rounds.

I have stuffed two more rounds in the butt of my Glock 19, so my loaded pistol carries 18 rounds total. They can be dislodged with a thumbnail and loaded in an empty or partly used mag. Two more rounds may not sound like much of a help, when you have (had?) 16, but answer this question: You are stuck behind cover in a gunfight, and you are almost (or completely) out of ammo, when you look at the butt of your pistol and see two extra rounds. Do you leave them there, thinking "I'd better save these for a real emergency", or do you pry them out and load them pronto? I imagine that those two rounds would look pretty good. You may have fired the first 16 rounds in haste, but you would probably be careful with these last two shots, make them count. Or ask yourself this: (In the above situation, you're out of ammo) What would you give for two more rounds? Everything in your bank account? So if you have a Glock, are you going to put those two extra rounds in that unused space? Can you think of a good reason not to?

I made a video for YouTube about this but later removed it. One guy complained that the rounds fell out when he fired the pistol. Some people are so unable to solve problems they face. Hey, Helpless, try a piece of rubber, silicon caulk, or chewing gum. Mine don't fall out, try using your brain. Better yet, people who can't figure out simple things should leave those two rounds out and lose the gunfight. Who needs their DNA in the gene pool? Stupic cannot be cured.

Taking Mr. Wenger's advice, one could just as well carry two Glocks or other pistols in the 4 or 5 and 7 or 8 o'clock positions on the belt and not really need spare mags, since there are over 30 rounds available without reloading. In certain hostile situations, where a lot of firepower might reasonably be required in a hurry, carrying a second pistol or revolver within easy reach (not in an ankle holster or a backpack), could be a wise choice. It's called a 'New York reload'. I'm not giving advice, just passing along what I've learned from experienced teachers. Be sure your belt is very strong and secure.

While we're on the subject of a second or backup gun, it may happen that you have someone with you (when you are confronted by an armed attacker) who is trained to use a gun but is not carrying. You can give him or her your backup and now you have two people armed. Also, no matter how reliable your main gun is, it is still a tool that can malfunction or jam. You may decide that it is reliable enough (and has enough ammo) to protect your life, or you may choose to carry a backup gun 'just in case'. Your call.

** Note on 5 above: My (folding rifle) choice here is a Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm, pistol-caliber carbine, uses Glock 17 mags (which fit all 9mm Glocks, like 19, 26). It fits folded in a day pack and can be unfolded and ready in seconds (mag already inside grip). Open it and it clicks locked, pull the charging handle back and it's ready for business. It accepts all Glock (17 and longer) and compatible mags, including those with 33 rounds (OEM and Khan). Another possible candidate is the Kel-Tec SU-16 folding carbine, uses .223/5.56 ammo and holds two 20-round mags (or one 30) in the stock. I prefer the former (Sub 2K), due to the fact that it shares ammo and mags with my Glock - I only need one kind of ammo, and 9mm is among the least expensive and widely available. However, the SU-16 makes it unnecessary to have an additional battle rifle, because it uses rifle ammo and can be used as a battle rifle. Obvious advantages of a pistol-caliber carbine over the pistol are:

- More power from the same ammo, due to the longer barrel - the explosion gasses have more time to propel the slug up to greater speed before exiting the barrel. A 9mm round out of the Kel Tec has the same power as a 357 Magnum out of a pistol.

- Longer sight radius increases shooting accuracy. Kel Tec is set at 100 yards at the factory; adjustable sights.

- Longer effective range, due to the above two factors.

- Recoil is better absorbed over a larger frame and your shoulder, instead of your wrists. Accurate follow-up shots are easier to make.

- Accessories add features you might like: a swivel-and-lock forend can hold a scope and other items (light, laser); extra mag holder on the stock (17 rounds)

If you need to carry a rifle but don't want to look armed, a folding carbine makes sense - an advantage over a full battle rifle. (You there, is that a rifle sticking up out of your pack? Uh, no officer, that's my fishing pole, with a front sight.) There are 33-round mags available for pistol-caliber carbines (and pistols), and the range and accuracy, compared to a pistol could make the difference between a fight won or lost. The ability to shoot 33 + 1 rounds of suppressing fire downrange while you move to cover or move in on your target, or to blast through your opponent's cover or car or walls or door, or perhaps to demoralize your enemy with a hail of well-aimed lead that just keeps coming ("Shit, this guy has an AK 47 or AR 15 with hi-cap mags! I'm toast.") - all good reasons to consider a lightweight (4 lbs) folding rifle with hi-cap mags. Of course, any 9mm Glock can be used in this way (with 33-round mag), but a rifle adds punching power, range and accuracy. Kel Tec also makes this carbine in .40, with matching mags. The 9mm model won't work with standard Glock 19 mags (15 rounds max), as they are too short. Must be 17 rounds (Glock 17) or longer.

I'm working on a quick-on-and-off scope mount for the Sub 2K which requires no mods to the rifle. If you have the money, the Red Lion swiveling forend looks classy and practical. You'll be out $200 if you also replace the front sight (hard to avoid). If you're on a budget, my mount will cost about $10 to make. My plan is to have at least two scopes pre-mounted which can be added or swapped out in a minute using two thumbscrews - a dot scope for under 100 yards and a small 3-9x 32 for medium range. More later.

(Update: I made one scope mount from aluminum and it works great. Pics coming or YouTube video link.)

(Update 2: I replaced the plastic forend with 3 barrel-mount quad rails, after seeing a similar mod in a YouTube video. The green laser has a smaller single-rail mount on the front bottom of the barrel, allowing the rifle to fold closed and lock. The folding hand grip is just behind it with a momentary pressure switch in the grip. I'ts on the front two quad-rails. The back two butt against the rear sight and hold a QD (quick detach) scope mount and a 4-16x 40 scope. Better, in my view, than a Red Lion swiveling forend, because I have a grip and laser permanently attached and add the scope in seconds, with nothing sticking out the sides. I'm really only using the rails top and bottom, not the side ones, but they are there in case I want to add a QD light.

***Note on 10 above (knife) - Selecting a useful knife may one day prove to be one of your better decisions, hopefully not a regret. Folding knives are practical and easy to carry or clip on to pockets and belts, but their usefulness depends on what they are required to do. If you bugout to the woods and have to use your knife for making shelter and fires, a more solid, full-tang sheath knife will serve you better and longer. If you carry a machete, a folder may be all you need. But if your knife is your only 'blade', a strong one-piece knife is best, and a $15 cheapo is a better deal than a $50 folder. Should you ever need your knife for defense, you will be best served by a large solid sheath knife. (Update: I found a new prepper shop in a small town and got a cheapo $15 knife, and I am so impressed: Ridge Runner (model RR 466), full tang, beautiful wood handle, 8"long thick, stainless blade, so-so sheath (lefty), 13 3/8" overall. Nice!

Update: The hardwood handle was nice to look at but too smooth for me, so I removed it, kept the brass pins and made a new one from grey PVC pipe. I had to heat it more than boiling to soften and flatten it, two layers for each side of the tang, pinned and epoxy-glued in place. I like it. Here's another reason to replace a poor handle. The 8" blade makes it possible to use it as a small machete, that is, for chopping. What happens when you chop with a large knife or machete? There is a tendency - well, it's momentum - for the knife to slip out of your hand. What's needed - and found on good machetes - is for a protrusion of the handle to catch on your little finger. It probably has a name. Some machetes go further and have a full hand guard. Anyway, this protrusion was lacking on the hardwood handle, so I designed one in PVC, and now I can chop with my knife with no fear that it will slip out of my hand.

Books I found useful:

1. The Tactical Advantage - A Definitive Study of Personal Small-Arms Tactics, Gabriel Suarez

From the foreword by Chuck Taylor, who describes himself as a "full-time professional weapons writer, instructor and consultant": :... Gabe Suarez treats the subject of tactics with the respect it not only deserves but demands. For Gabe... has 'been there and done it'... A law enforcement Medal of Valor winner for his actions under fire... as a police officer for more than ten years in... patrol functions,... gang-enforcement and SWAT assignments...". Excellent book for pistol and rifle tactics, like building searches, clearing a room, shooting on the move, use of cover/concealment, low-light tactics and gear, team tactics, comms, practice and more. Lots of photos.

I have other books by Suarez: The Tactical Pistol is another excellent choice for your firearm education. The Tactical Shotgun is one I have not read yet (no shotgun yet), but I would buy it without hesitation if the need arises. Kalashnikov Rifle Gunfighting is a pretty good DVD intro to using the AK 47 in combat, and I see there is now an advanced DVD. If you own an AK, I believe the first DVD is a solid investment; the advanced I have not seen yet. Update: The advanced is now free on YouTube. Not that much different from part one and not really specific to the AK. These techniques apply to most battle rifles. Useful, but not great.

2. StressFire, volume I of Gunfighting for Police: Advanced Tactics and Techniques, Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob is probably the most famous firearms trainer and author alive. Foreword by Ray Chapman, former World Combat Pistol Champion. A great book on technique, reloading and much more. Ayoob is not afraid to contradict current training methods and develop his own, and he has done so for years. Many chapters on pistol handling, drawing, shooting, reloading, weak hand shooting, kneeling, low light and dealing with stress. Lots of Photos.

3. Defensive Use of Firearms, revised and updated, Stephen Wenger

Foreword by Bert DuVernay, Chief of Police, New Braintree, Mass., former Director, Smith and Wesson Academy.

Wenger is a student of self-defense, his instructor certifications are through the NRA's Law Enforcement Activities Division, he has studied under some of the best teachers, including Massad Ayoob. The book covers mental awareness, mental preparaion, Tactics, Skill and choice of equipment (he prefers revolvers over pistols). He prefers a second gun over reloading the first, possibly because revolvers are so slow and awkward to reload, and because his gun only has five rounds in it. I prefer semi-auto pistols, but I like most of the rest of the book.

4. Armed Response, a comprehensive guide to using firearms for self-defense, David Kenik

Foreword by Massad Ayoob. An impressive number of chapters, covering just about everything, including the Body Alarm Reaction (BAR) - how the mind and body are affected by the stress of an actual gunfight. You can hit anything at the shooting range, fine, but under stress you may forget how your safety works, or wonder why the slide is locked back, not even aware that your gun is empty. Did I shoot all those rounds already? Impossible. This topic is extremely important and should guide more decisions about type of gun to use, tactics, practice and more. Testimonials by Ayoob, Suarez, Mroz, Gottlieb, Hocheim, Spaulding and Hackathorn. Lots of rationality here, no myths or dogma.

5. Control - Exposing the Truth About Guns, Glenn Beck

If you want to know why there is so much confusion about guns and why politicians and others regularly try to get them banned, registered or controlled, this book is the best I've seen on the topic. Not about using guns, it's about why guns are the object of politics. Beck effectively exposes every major myth, 'argument' and bullshit nonsense you have heard in the media about how guns cause violence and kill people. Beck cites numerous credible studies to prove that guns are not the problem, people are. In fact, more guns usually means fewer violent crimes, but politicians and vested interests prefer to brainwash us with lies. This book exposes them all nicely. A video, equal or better than this book, can be watched here.

Beck stops short of claiming that some school shootings are actually planned and carried out by people other than the psychopath kids or adults who are 'caught'. Online research will show you that there are people who so desperately want guns controlled or registered or banned that they plan and carry out these killings in order to get the public sympathetic to their political agenda. Same kind of people who brought down the trade towers and bombed the Pentagon, then blamed terrorists? Same kind of people who started wars for profit and control, and blamed some enemy? A place to start looking for answers might be on YouTube, look for 'WTC building 7', which collapsed like a controlled demolition but was not hit by a plane.

6. The Founders' Second Amendment

If you really want to know how and why we have the Second Amendment and what those founding folks were thinking at the time. Not about duck hunting and target practice! It's a huge book, and I loved every page. If you ever need to discuss the Second Amendment and our rights with anyone, or you just want to know all the details of its creation, this is the authoritative tome you need. It also includes the Constitution and Bill of Rights and how they came about and why. Knowing the conditions under which the colonists lived under British rule is half of understanding the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, and the parallels to our current government will be obvious. In the words of one of those founders, Thomas Jefferson: "When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty". Not too many ways to interpret that. Let's see, Patriot Act, NDAA, PDD 51, shall I continue? Good video on the 2nd Amendment and the 'gun grab' here.

7. In the Gravest Extreme

On the topic of concealed carry and self-defense with a gun, this book is pretty good.

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