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Gun show accidents reinforce safety policies

I often get asked how I can support policies banning concealed carry at gun shows but completely oppose it for other public places. The answer is simple: you’re not handling guns at those other locations.

In any other public place, your gun stays in your holster unless needed. But at a gun show, you’re showing guns to people, trying out holsters, and otherwise handling firearms. Even for someone who has no intention of touching their concealed firearm, a split second’s lapse of attention could have disastrous results.

Several accidents from this weekend illustrate why gun safety rules and policies at gun shows are so important.

In the first, a private seller bought a gun from one of the show attendees that turned out to be loaded. While attempting to unload the gun he failed to follow proper procedure and ended up shooting his friend who was working the booth with him in the arm and groin. He correctly removed the magazine first, but only racked the slide once and didn’t check the chamber before pulling the trigger to decock. The extractor failed to remove the chambered round and the gun discharged.

When unloading a semi-automatic handgun you must remove the magazine first, of course. Then, the slide should be racked three times to provide ample opportunity for the extractor to do its job. Then, after locking the slide back, insert your finger into the chamber to feel for a round and visually inspect the chamber. Finally, if you do decide to decock a gun without an external hammer by pulling the trigger you must do so with the gun pointed in a safe direction. At your buddy is NOT a safe direction!

Of course, the entire situation could have been avoided had a loaded gun not been brought to the show in the first place. The seller should not have handed a loaded gun over to the buyer without unloading it, and it should have been checked at the door in the first place. Since the identity of the seller is not known, it may never be determined if he negligently bypassed the screeners or simply made a mistake.

In another accidental discharge, a shotgun fired while the case it was in was being unzipped for inspection prior to entering the show, injuring three. Firearms should not be kept loaded during long term storage (this does not apply to guns kept ready at hand for defensive purposes, but this one was not in that category). It is likely the owner of the gun forgot he had left it loaded and also negligently left it in a condition ready to fire without a safety engaged or the hammer cocked back. Safe storage is extremely important!

A third incident left a man self-injured when he was trying to load his gun after the show and it discharged. Anytime a firearm is handled there is an opportunity for an accident to occur, which is why I generally favor leaving a carried firearm in its holster and not loading and unloading it in public. In this case, the victim had likely unloaded his gun to take it into the show and was re-loading it as he was leaving. He made a mistake, the gun was not pointed in a safe direction and perhaps he had his finger on the trigger, and he ended up injured.

Guns should always be loaded or unloaded while pointed in a safe direction and while you are fully focused on the task. If he wanted to show that firearm for sale it should have been unloaded at home and if not sold then reloaded back at home. Another gun should have been his defensive firearm, not only to avoid loading and unloading in public but also since if he had sold it he would not have it available anyway.

All of these accidents could have been prevented had the three NRA rules of gun safety been followed:

1. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
3. Always keep guns unloaded until ready to use

Ohio Concealed Handgun License numbers are up, one sheriff concerned

The number of Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenses issued in Ohio are up 40% over the last two years.

“The Dayton Daily News reports that advocates are crediting recent law changes with making it more comfortable for people to carry concealed weapons. That includes allowing them in restaurants and bars that serve liquor, as well as in school safety zones.”

That may very well be part of it, but a bigger part is that more and more people are realizing that the police and gun control laws are not enough to keep them safe at all times and are starting to take responsibility for their own safety. With the bad economy having the dual effects of pushing desperate people towards crime while reducing the budgets of law enforcement agencies, the good guys are increasingly on their own and are starting to embrace that responsibility.

Incidents like the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting have not had the full result the anti-gunners had hoped. While they have been able to get some support for banning certain rifles and magazines, most people have realized that all the other laws didn’t stop the shooter and putting more laws in place would only disarm the law-abiding. Not to mention when they consider what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation, cowering on the floor and hoping for the best leaves a desire for an alternative, armed, response.

Of course, not everyone likes the increase in permits issued.

Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander said he’s concerned about a surge in the number of residents applying for a carrying concealed weapon permit.

“I think you have to understand in today’s society, we don’t know who is carrying weapons out there,” Alexander said.

Neither do the bad guys. Sheriff Alexander would do well to remember that he’s a public servant, not a public master and that just because he doesn’t like the fact that he’s not the only one with the right to armed self-protection doesn’t mean he gets to dictate the terms under which citizens enjoy those rights.

Alexander said he supports the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms, but is bothered that Ohio’s CCW law only calls for 10 hours of firearms training in a classroom and an additional two hours of experience shooting at a range.

He would like to see those hours increased and more thorough background checks conducted.

While I believe citizens should obtain as much training as possible to give them the best chance of successfully defending themselves if attacked, I do not agree that it should be legislated. Pennsylvania, for example, has no training requirement at all for obtaining a concealed carry license yet there are not rampant errors and accidents from their permit holders. The argument just doesn’t hold water.

People have a right and a responsibility to take steps to ensure their own safety and more and more Ohioans, and more and more Americans, are stepping up to that responsibility.

3 men arrested for falsifying CHL training certificates

For those that haven’t seen this story, 3 men in the Columbus area have been arrested and 600 concealed carry licenses invalidated due to falsification of training. Let this serve as a reminder to everyone to be sure you are meeting all of the legal requirements when conducting concealed carry training!



Three people are facing charges, accused of helping falsify permits to carry a concealed weapon.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, an undercover investigation began in April 2012 into the issuance of fraudulent training certificates to obtain a CCW permit.

The sheriff’s office said that through the investigation, it was determined that three people were allegedly involved in the permit scheme.

It is alleged that 62-year-old John Michael Marshall, a certified firearm instructor, was selling his signed training certificates to 41-year-old Adam Chaykin and 48-year-old Ken Fouch, who were allegedly conducting illegal training classes, which fell far short from the required training.

Investigators said that in some cases, no training occurred.

Read the full article:

Convicted by the media

When it comes to a choice between following the law and being rendered defenseless, I often hear people say they’d rather be convicted by twelve than carried by six. What they don’t consider is that many times before they even get to the twelve they’ll be tried and convicted by the media. Take, for example, the case of Scott A. Smith.

Saturday night, Smith was arrested after being caught with a handgun in the Crocker Park Regal Cinemas in Westlake prior to a showing of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. News reports vary in some of the details, but he reportedly had the handgun in a “military-style bag” with two additional magazines, three knives, and a fourth knife on his person. Smith does not have a concealed handgun license and the theater reportedly prohibits firearms. After the arrest, his home was searched and turned up “seven rifles, five or six handguns, lots of ammo, gas masks and bulletproof vests” in addition to prescription drugs.

His attorney claims he simply had the weapons to protect himself and had no nefarious intentions. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. He will get his chance to be judged by twelve. Already, though, he has been all but convicted by the media who is having a field day with the story.

Arcuri said Smith sat in a position of “tactical advantage” with his back to the wall at the top of the theater. “What concerns us is where he was sitting in the theater. He was the first guy in there,” Arcuri said. “If he chose to do something there, all his potential victims were in front of him and he had an advantage over them.” – The Plain Dealer

Smith was arrested and charged with carrying concealed weapons and three other weapons offenses. He did not have a permit for the weapons. That may go some very small distance toward squelching the contentions of those who will now argue that a universally armed and dangerous society is the only effective response to an armed and dangerous society. – Phillip Morris, The Plain Dealer

Police are trying to figure out why a man took a bag of weapons with him to an Ohio movie theater showing the latest Batman movie. – NBCNews

“Our contention is that he’s drug dependent,” [Nicole DiSanto of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office] said. “And as a result, he should not be possessing a firearm.” – The Miami Herald

“For an officer to observe that, take the initiative, approach him,” Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said. “Basically, avert a tragedy if he pulls a pistol out and starts shooting.”  – The Miami Herald

The talking heads on the news and radio were far worse with their snark and derision.

I can’t help but think of the similarities if I were to accidentally walk into a “no guns allowed” zone. Sure, I have a concealed carry license so at least that part wouldn’t be an issue, but the accusations of paranoia would still be there. It doesn’t matter that the police, too, have stepped up security at many theaters in the aftermath of the Aurora Theater Shootings out of concern for potential copycats, but if a citizen takes steps to increase his security out of a similar concern then he is obviously paranoid.

Continuing with this line of thought, I typically carry a Beretta 9000s (an evil black plastic gun, easily concealed loaded with .40 caliber bullets even bigger than a 9mm!). I often don’t carry extra magazines, but I do on the occasion I’m carrying my 1911 (para-military semi-automatic able to be rapidly reloaded with .45 caliber ammunition!). I routinely carry a Swiss army knife and a small lockblade (multiple knives!). If my house were searched, they’d also find multiple rifles, shotguns, and handguns since I hunt, target shoot, and am a firearms instructor. They’d also find prescription drugs! Of course, I have a prescription for them, but none of the news reports I’ve seen have bothered to say whether Smith has a prescription, either.

The point is, there isn’t much difference between what Smith was caught with and what I routinely carry for personal protection and I’m certainly not a threat to anyone but a bad guy. I wish they’d wait for the facts to come out before sensationalizing the story, but I suppose that doesn’t sell papers or get people to tune in.

Testing Sellier & Bellot buckshot for home defense

As a pistol instructor, I tend to spend a lot of time on the issue of armed self defense with handguns. However, most experts will tell you that defending yourself with a handgun is what you’re stuck doing when you don’t have access to a better option: a long gun.

Whenever someone asks me what gun I recommend for home defense, I always first recommend a shotgun. Shotguns tend to be easy to use and maintain, plus they have far more stopping power than any handgun. However, they aren’t the universal threat eliminator some people think. I’ve heard many times shotguns extolled as having a wide field of shot that no threat can escape from. As you will soon see, simply pointing from the hip may not be enough to save your life.

To make sure I had some quality ammo for testing, I purchased some Sellier & Bellot 00 buckshot from I had never ordered from them before so I figured this would be a test of them as well as of the ammo. I found the site to be a bit odd looking with its bright green shamrock theme, but it was certainly easy to use. Three days after placing the order (really only two since I placed it in late evening), I had my ammo and was ready to go to the range.

The ammo itself was a bit different than what I was used to. The case is transparent plastic and the end of the shotshell is capped instead of crimped. I was a bit worried about performance based on a couple of negative reviews I read, but I had very good results.

I conducted the test at a local hunt club on a slightly windy late afternoon. I used a Benelli M1 Super 90 semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun with improved cylinder choke. For the test patterning of the shot, I simply used white posterboard stapled to a stake.

Size 5 shot compared to 00 buckshot

To start the test, I fired with only 10 feet from the end of the barrel to the target, a typical self-defense range. Upon the initial shot I immediately noted the recoil was very light and manageable. As you can see in the image on the right, the spread from that first shot was merely 2-1/4″. The shot held a tight group even with the improved cylinder choke at this close range, similar to what you might encounter should you find an intruder in your house. Not much room for error and certainly debunks the myth of a vast cloud of shot negating the need to aim at the target!

For comparison, I also fired a Federal Hi-Power shotshell loaded with 5 shot. Even that gave just a hair less than a 3-1/2 group with the main part of the pattern roughly the same size as the 9 balls of buckshot.

In order to get a better look at the spread and check for consistency, I backed up to 21 feet. This is the generally accepted lethal force range even for an attacker armed with a knife or other impact weapon.

Buckshot on the left, 5 shot on the right patterned from 21 feet

In the next picture, you can again see the comparison between the buckshot and the 5 shot. At this greater distance, the pattern did indeed open up but still not enough to blindly point at the target. One interesting thing I did note was that the lower group for the buckshot was more open. I got 2-1/2″ with the buckshot and 7-3/4 inches with the 5 shot at just below level. With the slightly lower shots, the groupings were 4-1/4″ and 7″, respectively. So, the pattern was similar with the 5 shot but almost 2 inches bigger with the buckshot. I wondered if this was due to the different angle of the barrel or indicative of inconsistency in the shot pattern. So, I fired more rounds with just the buckshot.

Below you can see the results. With the first one, I had a 2-1/2″ and 2-3/4″ on the upper two and 2-1/2″ and 3-1/2″ for the bottom two. The second target yielded the top two both at 2-1/2″ and the bottom two came up 3″ and 3-1/2″.

Continued testing showed good consistency

This confirmed that there was truly a variance caused by the angle of the shot which would be expected to be even greater at longer distances, though more difficult to simulate since the angle of the shot would be less since the target would appear smaller. Even more revealing was that the difference of the pattern from the different angle was even more pronounced than the increased distance for the buckshot. The test also showed that there was very good consistency between the shots so you know what to expect from your gun.

Of course, one of the most important things with any ammunition is that it is reliable. This is especially true for self-defense rounds. I did not experience a single malfunction nor did I have any problem with the ammo cycling the shotgun.

Overall, I was very happy with the ammo and would be comfortable relying on it to save my life. I also plan to do additional business with


Anytime you carry a gun on your person, you should use a holster for it.

Any decent holster will cover the trigger on the gun, decreasing the chance of an accidental discharge from something bumping the trigger.

Another important advantage is that the holster will keep the gun in the same place so you know exactly where it was at. Where this really comes into play is when dropping a gun into a purse, briefcase, or pocket.

There are companies that make purses, briefcases, backpacks, etc. that are designed for carrying a gun. These have built-in holsters for holding the gun securely. Anyone who has ever fumbled for keys in a purse or briefcase knows how important it would be for the gun to be exactly where you know it to be if you need to get at it quickly.

There are also special holster made for pocket carry. These slip into a pocket, keep the trigger clear, and hold the gun securely. They are usually equipped with small hooks or tacky material to keep them in your pocket when you draw the gun.

The most common holsters are belt holsters and shoulder holsters. Anyone who has seen a detective show or movie has seen shoulder holsters. These are worn slung over your shoulders and secure to your belt on each side. The gun can be held with the barrel facing down (vertical) or behind you (horizontal). These holsters are easy to conceal under a coat or jacket. The opposite side from the gun will often have a pouch for holding spare magazines or speed loaders.

Belt holsters are worn on your belt and come in two categories, inside-the-waistband (IWB) and outside-the-waistband (OWB). An OWB holster is like what you see police wearing. They can be more difficult to conceal because the entire holster must be covered.

They attach to your belt via belt loops, straps, slots, or sometimes a “paddle.” Paddle holsters have a piece of metal or plastic that slide inside your pants behind your belt while the rest of the holster is on the outside. This makes it easy to remove the holster without taking your belt off.

An IWB holster is similar, but is designed to slide inside your pants partway. This puts the lower half of the holster, the section below the belt, inside your pants so it is easier to conceal. It will have straps, loops, or plastic clips that go over your belt for stability. Sometimes the straps holding the gun to your belt have snaps so that it can be unsnapped and removed without taking your belt off. This type of holster tends to keep the gun very close to your body further aiding in concealment.

It is very important to use a holster instead of just tucking the gun into your waistband. A gun carried in such a manner is prone to slipping and being dropped as well as increasing the possibility the trigger could snag on something and fire the gun, a bad proposition since it will likely be pointed at some part of your body.

There are also ankle holster which strap around the lower portion of your leg. These are commonly used for carrying a small gun, especially a back up gun. As long as the gun isn’t too bulky, they can easily hide a gun. However, your pants leg must be pulled up to draw the gun, which can be a problem.

Other holster types include fanny packs, belly bands (wide elastic bands which wrap around your body like a girdle), and even some that are built into shirt, pants, vests, or other clothing items.

Only you can say which one is right for you, and I recommend you try different ones until you get the one that works best for your needs and fits your gun well.