By Cliff Heseltine
There is plenty of controversy among “gun guys” regarding the best caliber for a pistol. Even before gun guru Jeff Cooper put in his .45 cents, arguments over “big, slow and heavy” versus “small, fast and accurate” raged at the drop of a hat. Getting a heated discussion going on this topic is easier than trolling a liberal talk radio show (if you can find one) and suggesting that women should be encouraged to lean pro-life and be stay-at-home moms. But that is not what this post is about . . .
There’s another controversy among The People of the Gun that can almost as quickly devolve into acrimonious debate that needs to be discussed since the gun community is hardly homogenous (no, that doesn’t mean “queer” for those of you in Rio Linda). As in any society, skills, interests and abilities vary widely.
At one end of this group you’ll find those magnificent individuals and marvelous physical specimens that make up the military’s Special Forces. They have physical endurance, intelligence, speed, and amazing skills with weapons and tactics. I refer to these top-tier individuals as .45s.
But every bell curve has a segment on the other end as well, and those people have as much right as anyone else to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in order to defend themselves, their families and their property. They may be, in almost every way, the exact opposite of Special Forces types. These are the 9mms. Obviously there’s also a huge segment of the POTG who fill out the rest of the curve between the two tail sections.
The question I’m posing here is why so many people who lean towards .45 end seem to feel that every gun owner is obligated to invest the same time, effort, expense and obsessive view towards high-speed/low-drag training as they do. It should be clear – especially amongst the elites – that if everyone could do what they can, then no one would ever ring the bell at BUD/S. Maybe these are the same high school jocks who had only contempt for their classmates who weren’t athletically gifted enough or had no interest in sports.
Every society is made up of people with all sorts of interests and varying levels of physical ability. Arnold Schwartzenegger was once asked in an interview by a non-bodybuilder type how long it would take him to train up to Arnold’s level. The former governator looked him up and down and said, “Two generations, with the right parents.”
So why can’t people who like to train hard with their weapons, go to shooting “fantasy camps” and practice running and gunning like commandos in multiple attacker scenarios accept that there are huge numbers of 9mms out here in the real world? People who not only can’t afford that level of training, but don’t have the interest or ability even if time and finances weren’t an issue?
Should my 87-year-old mother with a pacemaker not have access to my Smith J-frame for defense when I’m not home just because she won’t budget $1,000 from her Social Security income to take a class at Thunder Ranch? Should a businessman working long hours to make ends meet not carry a pistol when he mans the cash register or makes bank deposits just because he can’t find the time or funds to take classes at Gunsite? Should an inner-city family not keep a shotgun in the closet for emergencies just because their breadwinner is a mousy little guy doing tax accounting for minimum wage?
We need some perspective here. People will fill out the bell curve from both extremes to various degrees. But there will be a greater number approaching the 9mm end of the curve where people will get as much relevant training as they can tolerate or afford. They’ll train to the extent they feel it’s appropriate to their situation, budget and interests.
At the 9mm end, many people are only interested in learning about proper weapon choices, safe handling and operation, suitable concealed carry options, and, to a very great extent the bottom line question: In the unlikely event that I’m have to use deadly force, do I have an adequate tool and can I put it to use? More than that is, in their minds, excessively intrusive into their lifestyle and finances. Why spend ten times as much on the training class as you’re likely to lose to the punk who’s trying to mug you? Who is robbing whom?
There must be a reasonable middle ground. I respect and admire SEALS and all the other highly trained individuals who protect us. I respect athletes, both professional and “weekend warriors”, who have the skills, interest and ability to pursue a sport they enjoy. Many of us, however, aren’t able to pursue either combat-style training or sports at more than a very superficial level. We practice to be a good shot with our chosen weapon(s) and to know how and when to should shoot. All other contingencies are approached intellectually, because running around, play-acting scenarios and rolling in the dirt just aren’t everybody’s thing. Should those people be held in contempt for that attitude?
Can we tone down the rhetoric about MMA-style training and CQB and weapon retention techniques that are only appropriate for the military and police (and that portion of the “civilian” POTG that have the physical ability to benefit from it)? Yes, these things should be – must be discussed. After all, this is The Truth About Guns. But the real truth about guns is that we all have a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms that applies regardless of level of training or physical ability.
While we should fully support and encourage every gun owner to get as much quality training as they can afford, statistically the majority of confrontations occur at close range (under seven meters) and end with the display of the firearm — not with gunfire. Within seven meters, even if shots are fired, most people with any skill at all can hit a man-sized target once or twice out of six or ten shots. Even groups of attackers, faced with an armed victim and shots fired, are more likely to disperse post haste than risk being shot.
Every situation is different, of course, but “God made man, Samuel Colt made them equal.” For the vast majority of people the pistol replaces the physical ability to fight. That being the case, this is the level of confrontation they should be trained for, not helicopter insertion into bin Ladin’s compound or weapon retention when bum-rushed by a half-dozen gangster thugs.
Many of you may feel like pushing the extremes of training. That’s fine if you take enjoyment from that. Just remember that Chris Kyle, on a shooting range and with guns and ammunition available, was still murdered by someone who had no SEAL training and much less combat experience. I also suspect many a bad guy would pee his pants at the site of even a petite woman pulling a pistol from her garter or one hanging from her bra.
So please, go ahead and train to your heart’s content. And if by some chance we find ourselves side-by-side facing a high-risk scenario, I’ll be very glad you’re there and trained. And I’ll do my best to provide useful assistance. But in the meantime, don’t look down your nose at the rest of us who have other interests in life than high-end firearms and combat training.