Constitutional civil rights comes in all flavors. So as I support constitutional civil rights, I support the right to carry guns with a permit. A super majority of the DFL feels the same way! So in the strange alliance of supporting civil rights in all flavors, I found myself auditing Andrew Rothman’s gun carry class. (And no, I am not getting a gun permit or a handgun, just in case you are wondering.)
Just dealing with the police in carrying a gun is tricky business. When talking to an officer or in any way dealing with law enforcement, an gun carrying individual would probably want to let the officer know about the concealed gun instead having the officer discover the gun. Saying “Hey, I got a gun!” would be the wrong way to do that. The right way, is showing very visible hands, mentioning the gun permit first, then mentioning the gun, and finally asking the officer what he or she would like to happen now? Andrew is very clear about what the law says. And then Andrew is very clear about the practicality of dealing with law enforcement, which is – do what the officer says.
The ramifications of shooting a gun are awful. Even in the best of circumstances doing everything legally with the best practices, the shooter can expect to be arrested, jailed and have a $10,000 – $50,000 lawsuit. Andrew recommends avoiding bad situations. He quotes John Ferman saying “Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things.” And the name of Andrew’s lawyer is on the back of his business card, so you know he is not joking about the risks.
The legal difficulties of carrying a gun are daunting. And carrying a gun is not glamorous or fun. Wise people do not let on that they are carrying a gun. Then why carry a gun? One guy in the class described it this way: “I know the gun is not certain protection. However, I could not live with myself if something happened to my family and carrying a gun for protection would have made a difference.” He lives in Prior Lake. Most of the people in the class had an experience that convinced them that carrying a gun was a necessary protection. Only one person in the class was getting a gun permit to ensure his civil rights but did not plan to carry.
So with sober life experiences, the class is serious about shooting accurately, shooting safely and keeping the gun safe when not shooting. Andrew goes through all of these steps with the multiple options. Just the knowledge of options and best places to buy things makes the class worth while.
Now for a bit of humor. Where does one conceal a gun? Wearing a jacket works in winter. What about summer? The place which causes me to laugh is a gun carry holster hidden right behind the crotch zipper because no one looks too closely at a guy with a lump at his crotch. One of the best solutions is a carry case that looks like a billfold, inside of a pocket.
To justify legal self defense, a shooter has to show
* no taunting, no provoking, no aggression
* reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm
* no lesser force will do
* running away is not practical (not required in a home or apartment)
And remember, even in the best of circumstances doing everything legally with the best practices, the shooter can expect to be arrested, jailed and have a $10,000 – $50,000 lawsuit. And do note that this estimated cost of a lawsuit is under clear legal self defense circumstances, the costs can clearly be more.
I was really impressed that the class went through what going through a shooting would be like. The adrenaline kick causes loss of fine motor skills and muscle tightening, while time seems to slow down. Expect spontaneous urination, which is never portrayed in the movies. Vision becomes black and white and focussed in a tunnel. People have been hurt and unaware of it.
After a shooting, call 911 first, because the victim is the one who calls first. Put away gun, check for injury, keep hands visible, move slowly, comply with police instructions and DO NOT give a statement. Call a lawyer and expect to be arrested.
Emotionally the experience of having shot someone sends a person through stages: elation, revulsion, remorse, self-doubt and acceptance.
Keep a gun always safe until needed is tricky. Many of the options of locking up a gun in a home would be tricky to work under an adrenaline rush in an emergency. Also, drawing from a shoulder holster is difficult to do while still pointing at the ground. Gun safety requires that you always assume the gun is loaded and never point it at anything that you don’t want shot. This is much harder than it sounds.
You are watching someone clear an automatic. He clears the chamber and then ejects the clip. Is the gun unloaded? No, the correct order is to eject the clip and then clear the chamber. In the order presented, a second bullet was automatically loaded from the clip.
You are watching someone clear an automatic. He ejects the clip, and then clears the chamber twice. Now is it safe to point anywhere? No, always assume a loaded gun. Never get in the habit of pointing guns at anything that you don’t want shot.
At the end of the class, I went through the gun shooting test. I tried 5 different guns. The Glock-17 is a common gun that the police use. It was the right size and mostly made of plastic, the gun is light to carry. However the gun has an ugly kick with a long time to re-aim. I liked the more precise heavier guns because if I had to shoot, I would be shooting more than once. Here is the trick of it, people do not instantly die. like the movies show, even when fatally shot.
This paragraph is not part of the class, just comments from my experience. A gun ups the level of any conflict. If you miss and the attacker gets your gun, you are worse off. It takes a few seconds to get a gun out, those few seconds could be used to do something else – like go lock yourself in the bathroom, get in the tub and call 911. Like throw your money at the thief and run away.
For those reasons, I am not a person who is not likely to ever carry a gun. However, I could imagine circumstances where a person threatened my family, so I would feel that I needed to carry a gun. In an emergency, the Sheriff can issue a 30-day emergency gun-carry permit without a class. Andrew Rothman and many other gun-carry instructors are committed to providing emergency classes, so a person could carry safely and continuously past the 30 days. It takes about two weeks to get a regular permit.
The costs of gun carrying are prohibitive. A Glock-17 runs about $450, a holster about $50, safe containers cost $100, bullets run from $.40 on up and a permit is $100. Practice means additional range and bullet costs. One shooting incident costs $10,000 – $50,000 in probable legal fees.
While waiting for gun testing, I questioned the people taking the class. They all had found the class valuable and learned new things. Even the renewing student said that it was good to know of law changes. Andrew Rothman and many other gun carry folk advocate for no classes needed to get a permit. However, I think we as a community are much better off with people like Andrew Rothman teaching the classes. Given the fear level of some of the students, I think some of them would carry even if it was officially not allowed. So among the options, I prefer responsible gun carrying options that include classes like Andrew Rothman’s.
Gun carrying is mostly done by white males, who can get hassled by law enforcement. Comparatively, black males get hassled excessively so that practically they do not have the right to carry a gun, with the exception of officers and retired officers. Note that while Andrew does not put this comparison this sharply, comments by black gun carry permit holders do make this sharp contrast.
This article is based on Andrew Rothman’s one day class taught last Sunday. That class focussed more on the legal realities of gun carrying rather than how to shoot a gun. A beginner variation of the class is available, which adds more gun training. I was very impressed with quality of class. And Andrew is always entertaining. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn and to look at different perspective.
Now to be fair, not everyone sounds as reasonable as Andrew Rothman. Reading through some of the gun carry postings will raise some worries. The shooting range had Osama targets and massive (maybe fake) weapons on the wall appropriate to shooting down planes.
So why did I, a peacemaker who is not interested in carrying a gun, take a whole day to audit a gun carry class? Well, creating the peace involves understanding different perspectives like law enforcement and like people who carry guns outside of law enforcement. Guns by themselves are not the issue. Our culture has a deep bias for using war or violence as a standard solution. We had a president who thought that it was a bad idea to ever talk to people that he disagreed with. That shows the real source of our problems. Talking, seeing and understanding are the best ways to develop relationships and keep the peace. In the gun carry universe, people who don’t carry guns have to show up and be there, to be a part of the conversation and the community in a respectful way.