Category: Personal Defense

New: Concealed Carry Prep Class

New: Concealed Carry Prep Class

A New Class: A Concealed Carry Preparatory Class

We begin a new “Concealed Carry Prep” class in March. It is short, and available through our scheduling portal, here.

Why A Concealed Carry Prep Class?

In our experience, there are people who want to obtain a concealed carry permit, but who never (or seldom) handled or fired a handgun. We recommend beginners take a preparatory course before taking the NC Concealed Carry Handgun Training (CCHGT) since there are gun handling expectations in it beginners do not have. This class prepares the applicant to meet that expectation.

This is NOT a concealed carry class! It is a only preparatory class for those who have little to no experience handling or firing a handgun. The purpose of this class is to give the student the gun handling experience necessary for a Concealed Carry Handgun Training course.

How Long Is The Class?

This class is very manageable. It takes two hours, only, and is by appointment, so you can take the class at your convenience.

What Does The Class Cover?

Topics in this non-shooting class include safety rules for firearms, parts of a handgun, shooting positions, field stripping, cleaning, preparation for firing, and clearing minor malfunctions. Also included is a session with laser training devices to introduce you to the fundamentals of sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger press.

What Do I Need For The Class?

All books, training material, and equipment are provided by LNPDSA. Applicants have the option of purchasing a “Basics of Pistol Shooting” handbook on the registration page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of the class is $40. Payment is due at the beginning of class, and may be paid by cash, check, or credit card.

How Do I Sign Up For It?

You can sign up for the Concealed Carry Prep Class, here. Sign up more than one person by increasing the “Quantity” button on the registration page.

Want More Information?

If you desire more information, use the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page, or call us at 252.497.2965.

 

The Decision to Carry

The Decision to Carry

Decisions, Preparedness, and Consequences

Responsibility: What It Means

North Carolina’s concealed carry training handbook entitled Concealed Carry Handgun Training (the “red book”), published by the North Carolina Justice Academy, opens with the acknowledgement, “With the right under law to carry a concealed handgun, comes a tremendous responsibility.” Carrying a concealed handgun entails the personal assumption of that responsibility. Fundamentally, deciding to carry a concealed handgun means that you, and you alone, choose to personally assume moral, legal, and financial accountability for the actions you may take with that handgun.

If you use your handgun in a defensive force scenario, you are accountable not only for the immediate force-on-force required to stop the threat against you, but also for collateral damage your action may cause. Bullets have no consciousness. They continue on their trajectory until their energy is expended.  One facet of bullet design that aids in expending that energy, thereby slowing it down, and eventually stopping it is its expansion capability. Bullets with full metal jacket (FMJ) construction lack the characteristics to expand appreciably. This feature, alone, weighs against using full metal jacket rounds as part of your defensive carry.

The Decision To Carry

Presuming that you have considered the risk of taking upon yourself the moral, legal, and financial accountability for any action that a defensive force scenario may require, and elected to take that risk, there are other elements you should consider. The most significant is mental preparedness.

One harsh, in-your-face reality of carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense entails the risk of having to use it. This means you may have to point your handgun at another human being, and pull the trigger. A decision you have to make before putting that holster on your belt is, “Am I mentally prepared to take a life?” There are some who propose that “if you do not believe you can kill another human being, you have no business carrying a gun” (Chris Bird, 2019, The concealed handgun manual, 261). Bird couched his proviso in a crass and seemingly aggressive tone to provoke a conscientious assessment of your personal fortitude–“If a self-defense scenario develops, do I have the personal rectitude to potentially destroy my attacker.”

Consequences

If you are ever involved in a defensive force scenario, you will inevitably experience aftershocks. They may merely be the shakes, or they may rise to more severe bodily reactions, such a vomiting or bowel evacuation. It will happen.

And then there is law enforcement. A consequence of using deadly force is that you, at the least, will be interviewed. Your interaction with law enforcement also may result in detainment or arrest with incarceration until the event is investigated.

The good news is that there are organizations that can help reduce the trauma (let alone the financial burden that may ensue) after the use of defensive force. United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), and U.S. Law Shield are two that spring to mind. Remember, when you made the decision to carry a handgun for self-defense, you chose to personally assume moral, legal, and financial accountability for the actions you take with that handgun.

A Personal Decision with Personal Accountability

The decision to carry a concealed handgun mandates critical and conscientious, and highly personal self-assessment at the deepest moral levels. Our final decision, whether we carry or choose not to, is fraught with varying responsibilities and consequences. Hopefully, it will be one we can live with.

Gift Certificates for 2020

Gift Certificates for 2020

Why Not Get A 2020 Concealed Carry Training Class Coupon?

Is a Concealed Carry Permit on your 2020 to-do list? Is a Concealed Carry Permit on the 2020 to-do list of someone you know? Purchase a Concealed Carry Class Coupon for yourself, now, that is good for a certified NC Concealed Carry Training Class in any of our 2020 training sessions! Or purchase one for someone you know who wants to apply for a NC concealed carry permit.

Need more than one seat in a class? Simply increase the certificate quantity to meet the number of seats you desire.

Have more than one person in mind? Simply purchase a certificate for each person on your list.

Click here to purchase a Coupon redeemable for any one of our One-day or Two-day NC Concealed Carry Handgun Training classes in 2020 given by a certified instructor at our location. Once purchased, a certificate can be printed (or emailed) as you desire. Each certificate is good for 415 days, plenty of time to attend a class before the end of 2020.

On successful completion of the training class, participants 21 years old and older receive the NC DOJ Certificate of Completion required to apply for a NC Concealed Carry Handgun Permit.

Training? I don’t need no stinkin’ training

Training? I don’t need no stinkin’ training

What is the difference between training and practice?

As a firearms trainer, one of the first tasks I ask of students is to describe their experience with firearms. Most of them answer something like, “I’ve been shooting since I was X years old,” or “I’ve been shooting for ‘X’ years.” Fill in the “X” with any number you choose. Only rarely do I see references to formal training.

Don’t get me wrong–learning the fundamentals of shooting while relatively young is a great thing. Most of the time, we learned something variation of “Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction,” quickly followed by actually shooting whatever was at hand with a short lesson on how to aim. Very likely, that first experience focused around hunting. For some of us, this is the extent of our “formal” firearms training, other than the hunter safety course required before getting a hunting license.

For some of us, the first formal training we received happened after we joined the military. Most often, training there included safe handling, operation and maintenance, and sighting fundamentals, followed by dry and live fire. Others of us may have sought out formal firearm training for beginners. I suspect most of us tried to apply our training with varying degrees of success. This brings me to the point of the differences between training and practice, and the importance of training. Training is usually where a new skill is introduced, although we may also seek out refresher training, simply to get back to basics. Practice is the continued application of that skill.

The Importance of Training

As stated earlier, training is most often where new skills are introduced. However, training also can be environments for correction of bad habits. In training environments, you have (at least) another pair of eyes watching your technique.

As trainers, we do not watch the target, we watch the shooter. Most often we watch the shooter’s hands. By watching you as you move through your shooting exercises, we often can detect issues of stance, presentation, and shot release, and offer immediate correction that will improve your shooting skills. Another benefit of training is that we may remind you of concepts or techniques you may have forgotten.

Concealed carry training is arguably the firearm training presently in demand the most. However, going through a concealed carry class to satisfy whatever requirements your jurisdiction may have is like graduating from elementary school–it’s an achievement that marks a beginning, not an end. Defensive firearm classes build on the elementary skills that may have been introduced in your concealed carry class.

Defense training often includes presentation drills that concentrate on getting the handgun out of the holster quickly to deliver an accurate shot. Your training may also include situational (should I shoot?) training to help you to correlate your immediate environment, the threat, and your response. Training frequently includes movement drills that help you develop your shooting skills where movement may be required to effectively defend yourself. Whatever the defensive firearm training may include, think of more training as acquiring more advanced skill sets that will aid in your ability to defend yourself.

The Importance of Practice

As we stated earlier, training is where new skills are introduced along with reminders of other factors we may have forgotten. Practice, on the other hand, is trying to replicate the lessons learned in training. However, practice brings on its own challenges–one of which is how to measure, or gauge, our performance.

And, as we stated in an another post, it is also important to practice with a purpose. For example: Suppose your brand new, super duper, Never-Fail handgun has replaceable backstraps. How do you know which backstrap works best for you without quantitatively working that out through practice? Developing a practice session where your purpose is to assess which backstrap gives you the ability to place shots on target most accurately, and most consistently in the least amount of time would probably be a profitable practice. You may be surprised that the most effective backstrap is not necessarily the one you would have picked out of the box.

Skill drills are an excellent way to improve your practices. Nearly all the top competitors have developed skill drills to address and improve shooting weaknesses. Some drills concentrate on first shot delivery, others concentrate on multi-shot delivery, while still others concentrate or magazine changes, or changing shooting hands. One source for skill drills is Burnett Live Fire Drill Cards®.

The Cheapest Practice on the Market

Practicing our shooting skills costs money. Even if we hand load, rounds still cost money. The absolute cheapest, and arguably the most profitable practice in terms of ROI, is dry fire. Virtually every aspect of shooting can be practiced in dry fire: sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, presentation speed and techniques. All without the flash, bang, and recoil that instinctively induce reactions. Adding a shot-activated, light emitting device, such as a LaserLyte®, simply adds to the effectiveness of our dry fire practice. Here again, the most profitable practice is one done with a purpose.

The most important aspect of dry fire is to do it safely. Make certain no live ammunition is in the room where you practice. Make certain your firearm is unloaded. Announce to yourself–out loud–that your firearm is unloaded. A tool that may be useful, especially for handguns that require an inserted magazine to fire, is a BarrelBlok®, a combination empty chamber indicator and dummy round device with magazine adapters that allow slides to be racked without locking them back.

Bottom Line

Shooting well is a perishable skill. That means unless we practice and train consistently, our ability to defend ourselves, and those we care for, quickly, and most importantly, accurately will deteriorate.

2019 and the Second Amendment

2019 and the Second Amendment

Threats to the Second Amendment in 2019

There is little doubt the year 2019 will be a rocky one for firearm owners and second amendment advocates. The change of majority in the U. S. House of Representatives places a vocal anti-firearm, pro gun-control crusader as the Speaker of the House, who, by the way, controls the flow of proposed bills brought before the house for voting. There have already been a flurry of bills pre-filed that are simply awaiting the investiture of the new Congress. Among them is a proposal to revoke the right of the individual to make, or modify, a firearm, as well as prohibiting the advertising and sale of firearm parts.

Focus on Prohibiting Access Rather Than Punishing Crime

A trend among gun control advocates seems to be developing that concentrates on preventing criminal violence with firearms by attacking the supply side. Ostensibly, if the supply of firearms is curtailed crime involving them will be curtailed. However, the federal government’s own research documents demonstrate that premise is not statistically supportable.

Controlling access to firearms is often compared to limits on speech. The most common analogy is to compare restrictions on firearms to restrictions on speech in that one cannot, legally, shout “fire” in a theater without incurring criminal proceedings. If one carries out the analogy, requiring background checks before firearm purchases would be analogous to requiring background checks before you can go into a theater. Similarly, curtailing purchases of firearms to certain age groups because they might be used in a crime would be analogous to prohibiting movie goers of certain age groups from going into a theater because they might yell “fire.”

If supply side curtailment is so effective, how is it there is epidemic-scale abuse of illegally obtained drugs in the U. S.?

Background Checks

We addressed background checks in an earlier post, but the frequency with which gun control advocates bring up “universal background checks” warrants another look. Currently, background checks serve to prevent prohibited persons, such as convicted felons, from purchasing firearms. A typical gun control argument is “loopholes” that serve to circumvent background checks must be addressed. One such “loophole” is the private sale between firearm owners, which gun control advocates charge allow criminals access to firearms, especially at gun shows. A system of “universal background checks” would, ostensibly, ensure any buyer is not prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm at the point of sale. However, a “universal background check” system could also prevent parents from buying a firearm intended for their child, since allowing a minor to possess (while hunting, for example) that firearm would violate the “universal background check” law.

The most insidious aspect of “universal background checks” is the de facto, centralized, universal gun registration it requires. In order to trace an illegal transfer of a firearm under a “universal background check” system, that is a transfer that occurred without a background check, the serial number of the firearm has to be linked to a specific individual. In other words, the government has to know who owns what firearm(s) for the system to work. Then, if a firearm is discovered in the possession of someone else without the requisite background check, the possessor is automatically a felon, and very likely the seller as well. A “universal background check” system gives the government centralized gun registration without ever directly proposing gun registration.

Taxes and Insurance

New York state legislators recently proposed a requirement that firearm owners in NY purchase a 1 million dollar liability insurance policy. Other proposals, at both local and federal levels, include levying additional taxes on the purchase of firearms, and ammunition. The gun control argument is that the additional taxes can fund research of violence with firearms. Initially, such taxes would likely be modest to avoid rejection. However, once imposed, firearm and ammunition taxes can be increased far more easily, usually at a bureaucratic level without representative legislation. Gun control advocates could easily leverage existing taxes on firearms to make them too expensive for most people to purchase.

Corporate Control

I almost forgot this one. Banks (e.g., Bank of America and Citibank) are one of the corporate entities beginning to deny services to customers that sell or purchase firearms. In related financial gun-control steps, some insurance companies that once issued liability insurance to firearm instructors no longer offer it. Other corporations restrict sales to otherwise legally eligible citizens, and some went so far as to remove from sale, and destroy firearms they considered dangers to society. The good news is that since corporations are profit driven entities, we can deny them our money by buying and transacting business elsewhere.

Another of the avenues to restrict firearm sales by corporations is through merchant accounts. Credit and debit cards are processed through third-party clearing houses. A few already have policies that prohibit firearm sales through their portals. Gun-control advocates are actively recruiting other merchant account processors to follow suit.

One new call upon credit card corporations by gun-control advocates is to track firearms transactions purchased by their cards and create private firearm registries. So far, the reaction by card companies is that private transactions are that, private, and they have rejected calls to create explicit firearm registries.

Outright Gun Bans

One of the targets of gun control advocates is the “assault rifle,” or “military style weapon,” followed closely by all semi-automatic firearms (ironically, virtually every style of civilian firearm was derived from a similar, if not identical, military weapon of its era). Latching onto a politically motivated phrase from the late 1940s, and fomenting fear through imprecise language, gun control advocates deem semi-automatic firearms threats to society. It is likely their first efforts will concentrate on the AR-15, erroneously equating “AR” with “assault rifle” to garner support for banning firearms that have some combination of cosmetic features, such as pistol grips, bayonet lugs, movable buttstocks, muzzle devices, and removable magazines. After AR-15 style firearms are banned, expect all semi-automatic firearms to be subject to similar bans, such a banning thumb-hole rifle grips, adjustable cheek risers, and so on.

A question that frequently rises from gun control advocates is “why do you need an AR-15?” Surprise. In the United States, property ownership is not grounded in “need.” Ownership of property is a universal right that is external and antecedent to any governing body. That means that citizens’ rights do not begin with, or emanate from the state. In point of fact, the Constitution of the United States was written to limit state (as in state and federal) intrusion on citizens’ rights. Amendments 2, 3, and 4 of the Bill of Rights recognize property rights of individuals, and restrict the federal government from infringing on them.

Red Flag Laws

A recent flurry of legislation around the U. S. introduced “red flag” laws (aka, “risk protection orders”), a legal maneuvering whereby someone designated by the law can initiate an ex parte (one-sided) petition before a court that a firearm owner may pose a danger to him or her self, or others. Granting the petition gives civil authorities permission to seize the defendant’s firearms. At least one second amendment advocate noted every state in the Union already has mechanisms to declare someone mentally incompetent, and therefore ineligible to own or possess firearms. She also noted these established mechanisms do not infringe on the right to due process and rebuttal, as the ex parte legislation does. That is, under ex parte rulings, a complainant can begin the process whereby a gun owner’s firearms may be confiscated without the gun owner being permitted to rebut the charges until after your firearms have been seized, if then. Further, most “red flag” laws allow civil authorities to seize your firearms indefinitely, and most have no mandate that requires their return. Under these conditions, firearms only can be claimed, and returned, after costly and time consuming legal rebuttals, and court proceedings. Once again, pricing firearm ownership out of existence.

“Red flag” laws are insidious in that they are not triggered by the commission of a crime, but rather by someone who thinks another person may potentially commit a crime by harming others, or may potentially be a danger to him or her self. Where domestic violence ex parte protective orders are initiated after a domestic attack to thwart another attack, “red flag” ex parte orders need no antecedent crime for their authorization. “Red flag” laws severely threaten constitutional protections such as the right to free speech, the right to possess arms, protection against unlawful seizure of property, right to trial by jury, the right to be represented by counsel, and one’s right to face accusers, among others.

Interestingly, the U. S. Congress is considering adding financial carrots to states that implement “red flag” laws through grants.

Oh, By The Way, No Duty to Protect

For those who may claim that personal firearms for self defense are unnecessary because the police and sheriffs are there to protect us, court cases in New York and Florida, upheld by the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals, consistently posit civil authorities have no legal duty to protect individuals.

Remedy

A remedy that we, as gun owners, have is to support organizations that fight infringements on the Second Amendment, organizations such as the Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition. Joining and supporting them financially gives us, the American gun owner whose right to gun ownership is constitutionally protected, a collective voice to thwart infringement. The threats to gun ownership are serious and escalating. It is a matter of death by a thousand cuts. Our “Related Organizations” page offers links to many of these organizations.

EZ – The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

EZ – The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

Our focus is training, not gear reviews. However, every once in a while someone introduces a piece of hardware that is unique enough to require one–Smith and Wesson’s introduction of the M&P® 380 Shield EZ meets that qualification.

The Struggle with Slides

Women students are among those we introduce to the basics of pistol shooting, as well as concealed carry classes. Often, they struggle with manipulating the slide of a semi-automatic, and in doing so frequently sweep the muzzle in wide arcs. Generally, not a desirable outcome. And, the size of the handgun seems to matter little. Pocket pistols are as much of a struggle as compacts, and full-sized semi-autos. Revolvers seem to be the go-to handgun, but then we have to deal with the long, and relatively heavy trigger press of double action, or cocking the hammer, which is sometimes a struggle for those with smaller hands, for a shorter, lighter trigger press. Those whose strong hand is the left hand seem to have even greater struggles with handling the slide (not least because most instructors are right-handed shooters, and teach from a right-handed perspective). There is a light on the horizon.

Enter the S&W M&P® 380 Shield EZ

Smith and Wesson recently introduced their M&P® 380 Shield EZ. This is a semi-auto that is designed for people who struggle with slides due to limited hand strength (it may do well with first time shooters who have no experience with handguns as well, although we have not experienced that, yet). Roughly the size of their standard Shield line, the EZ is a single-stack, .380 semi-auto. The ease with which the slide can be pulled to the rear is the first feature noticed by those who handle this handgun. Generally, the first response we have heard so far is, “Wow!” The typical response from the women we have shown this pistol to has been, “I like it,” rapidly followed by “What is this, again,” and “How much is it?”

Another benefit that we have seen is in shooting. The relatively larger size (compared to a pocket pistol), more aggressive grip stippling, and slightly heavier weight, coupled with a .380’s reduced recoil, all seem to produce better control, and more accurate fire.

External Safeties

Unlike their other entries in the M&P® line, the 380 Shield EZ has a grip safety. It is available with an optional thumb safety, as well.  This pistol is hammer-fired, that is, it has an internal hammer that strikes a firing pin, which reduces the pressure required for trigger press compared to a double-action handgun. The grip safety accomplishes two purposes: The first is that unless the grip is securely pressed (which really is a function of getting a proper grip, anyway), the hammer cannot strike the firing pin. The second is that the grip safety releases a firing pin block. The optional thumb safety is typical in its operation; when engaged, the trigger cannot release the hammer.

Takedown

The M&P® 380 Shield EZ breaks down like others in the M&P® line. Lock the slide to the rear, rotate the slide takedown lever to the down position, then pull the slide slightly to the rear to release the lock, and the assembly slides off the frame. Unlike other pistols in the line, however, no trigger pull or sear release is necessary–the slide simply slides off the frame. The recoil spring and barrel separate from the slide in the same fashion as other pistols in the M&P® line.

Reassembly

Reassembly has one wrinkle other M&P® pistols do not; the head of the polymer guide-rod is oval, not round, and has to be properly aligned with the guide-rod hole in the slide. Reassembly is the same as other pistols in the line, just ensure you do NOT press the grip safety while putting the slide assembly back on the frame, otherwise you engage the firing pin block lever, and the slide will not move fully to the rear. Lock the slide back, rotate the slide takedown lever to its horizontal position, and release the slide-voila!

Specifications

Full specifications can be found on Smith and Wesson’s website.

Bottom Line

Smith and Wesson’s M&P® 380 Shield EZ is a hit out of the park for shooters who struggle with hand strength. It is an affordable alternative to the pocket pistols that frequently have heavy triggers and stiff slides. While larger than most .380 pocket pistols, the ease with which it can be manipulated overcomes its size.