Legal Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer.

I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. Heck, I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn last night.

The content in blogs on this site does not constitute legal advice. It is my opinion based upon my research.

Philip Vancil

Freedom First Self Defense LLC

Types of Pistol Reloads

Disclaimer

The information in this post reflects the content that I teach in my classes.

As with any other firearm discussion, there is more than one way to complete a task. In every tactical class that I have taken each instructor had a different take on this topic. 

You may complete a reload different than I do. That is OK. That doesn’t make me right and you wrong. 

If you would like to add a comment to provide information, I will respect your viewpoint if you respect mine.

Context

A reload is a reload, right? Actual there are three types of reloads. We look at each type and where they are used. But first, we need to lay a little groundwork. 

Reload Postions

Before we can start the reload, we must first position the pistol. The position you use a matter of personal preference.

Compressed Low Ready

The compressed low ready position we use during a reload is a modification of the classic low ready position.

The classic low ready is accomplished by lowering the gun and arms to an area below the target without bending the arms. Should the target suddenly become a threat, the handgun can be quickly raised to the vital zone and a shot can be delivered.

How far you lower the handgun in the low ready position depends entirely on what is going on around you.

During a reload we modify this position by binding and pulling the arms back. The pistol is raised to a near-level position.  With your elbows resting against either side of your body, the compressed ready position provides a stable and comfortable stance. 

During the reload, you maintain your shooting grip with your shooting hand. The reload is done with the support hand. 

The question with this position is what do you do with your eyes. During a defense situation, you will what to maintain your focus downrange. This means that a reload from this position, must be done by feel. 

Can this be done? Yes, I know several shooters that can reload from this position without losing their focus. How did they get there? The answer is simple; practice, practice, and more practice. I am not there. I will drop a magazine more than once. 

Compressed High Ready

The Compressed High Ready does not have as much in common with the High Ready as the name implies. 

In the Compressed High Ready, the pistol is held as it is in the other ready positions.  However, in this case, the pistol is pulled in straight toward the chest, perhaps below the dominant eye.  The inside of the wrists/forearms can touch the chest, and the elbows can drop down and touch the sides of the rib cage in a relatively relaxed position.  The muzzle of the handgun should be pointed downrange. 

During the reload, you maintain your shooting grip with your shooting hand. The reload is done with the support hand. 

The question with this position is what do you do with your eyes.

Reloading from this position is better than the compressed low ready position. The pistol is just the line of sight. The reload can be seen with a quick glance down. This will require you to break your focus downrange. Something that might not be easy in the stress of a defense situation. 

It is best to practice until you can reload by feel. 

Workspace

For novice shooters, your “workspace” is the area directly in front of your face – it’s the stuff you can see without moving your head up or down. Keeping the gun “up in your workspace” is considered an advantage by some tactical trainers so that you can keep your eyes downrange even while looking the magazine home into the gun.

The advantage to reloading up high like that is that you don’t have to look down – even if you take your eyes off the target to look the magazine into the gun (like you should) your head is still up, making it easier to see important stuff downrange when you finish the reload.

The disadvantage to reload up so high is that as it turns out, it’s slower. It may only be half a second or so when compared to bringing the gun down lower.

A half-second is a long time, especially in a defense situation. 

Another issue is that if you practice the position at most ranges, don’t be surprised if the RSO freak out over muzzle discipline. 

Types of Reloads

Now that we have laid our groundwork, let’s look at the different types of reloads. 

Administrative Reload

An administrative reload is the first type of reload that you learned. 

Administrative reloads (aka admin reloads) have become a universally taught practice across all dynamic shooting courses.

The admin reload is basically when you (re)load your unloaded pistol to prepare it for use.

It is done in a safe and low-stress situation. Focusing on the reload and not downrange is not an issue. However, doing this can develop some bad habits.

Start your training by focusing on the reload. Overtime work toward reloading by feel. 

This pretty much involves the following core procedures:

  1. Presenting the gun from the holster (or rest position) onto an imaginary target, acquiring sight picture and sight alignment.
  2. Bring the gun into your reload position and insert a loaded magazine into the gun.
  3. Cycling the action in order to chamber a round into the gun.
  4. Press checking the chamber in order to verify a round is chambered.
  5. Ensuring the gun is in battery.
  6. Returning the gun into the holster (or rest position).

Obviously, when conducting an administrative reload, you must go through the steps while following all of the core safety rules.

Tactical Reload

A tactical reload is the replacement of a partially depleted magazine with a full mag.

This is only executed when it is absolutely safe to do so. If you are ever in a situation where you have had to fire your defensive handgun, you will more than likely have no idea how many rounds you have fired.

In that you should always expect multiple assailants, it is a good idea to get a full magazine into your gun as soon as possible.

One debated idea revolves around what to do with the partially depleted magazine. I believe it should be retained

Unlike competition settings, most people do not conceal carry a large number of magazines. In fact, most people carry only one backup mag in their EDC.

While there may not be many rounds left in the partially depleted mag, you may need them.

There are two distinct schools of thought on the methodology used in tactical reloads as well. Each has its pros and cons. With that in mind, we will look at both.

Tactical Reload #1 – One Out, One In

  1. Bring the firearm up into your “reload space.” Make sure the pistol is not past 45 degrees as it will begin to impede the drop of the exiting magazine.
  2. Bring your support-side hand to the base of the magazine in the gun.
  3. With your firing-side hand, press the magazine release and let the mag fall into the palm of your support-side hand.
  4. Take the partially depleted magazine and place it in a pocket. DO NOT put a half-empty magazine back into your mag pouch.
  5. Now transition your support-side hand from pocketing the old mag to grabbing a new one.
  6. Pull out your new magazine and start moving it toward the mag well.
  7. With the new mag in hand, insert the top of the magazine into the well. With one firm and smooth motion, drive the magazine into the grip. 

Tactical Reload #2 – Combat Version

  1. Bring the firearm up into your “Reload space.” You should still maintain your awareness downrange. Make sure the pistol is not past 45 degrees as it will begin to impede the drop of the exiting magazine.
  2. With the support-side hand, index a fresh magazine from your pouch and start bringing it toward the gun. The grip on this magazine will be different than in other scenarios. As opposed to being set in the center of the palm, the magazine will need to be seated between two of your fingers.
  3. Once the magazine is at the base of the gun, use your firing-side thumb to release the exiting mag.
  4. Let the partially depleted mag now drop into your palm and hold onto it with one or two fingers.
  5. Now angle your hand so the fresh magazine can be seated into the mag well.
  6. With one firm motion seat the new mag into the gun.

The position of the fresh magazine is debatable. Some advocate putting it between the pinky and ring finger while others teach index and middle finger.

The factor that will influence your decision on this is the size of your hands and dexterity. 

When choosing the technique that suits you best, you must explore the fundamental pros and cons of each technique.

The “one out, one in” technique is easy to execute but does leave the firearm without a magazine for a longer period of time.

The “Combat” version does allow less time without a mag in the gun, but it requires decent dexterity and hand size.

The “Combat” reload was created when the most common weapon was the 1911. Slender single-stack magazines are much easier to manipulate than modern double-stack polymer mags.

In the end, you should try both and find the technique that fits you best.

Emergency Reload

The emergency reload has many names, but is always the same issue. The slide of the firearm is locked back, the magazine and the gun are empty.  If you are in the middle of a self-defense scenario, this is indeed an emergency. The technique to get the gun back into operation is as follows:

  1. Bring the firearm up into your “reload space.” You should still maintain your awareness downrange. Make sure the pistol is not past 45 degrees as it will begin to impede the drop of the exiting magazine.
  2. With your firing hand, press the magazine release button. Simultaneously, reach back with your support-side hand and index your fresh magazine. You should make an effort to get as much of your hand around the magazine as possible. The base plate of the magazine should be in your palm. This allows for greater control of the new magazine.
  3. Pull out your new magazine and start moving it toward the mag well. If done correctly, the new mag and old mag will pass in mid-air.
  4. With the new mag in hand, insert the top of the magazine into the well. With one firm and smooth motion, drive the magazine into the grip. Avoid beating on the bottom of the magazine in order to get it to seat.
  5. Now that a fresh magazine is in the pistol, we need to get it back into the battery. There are two methods to choose from. The first utilizes the slide stop. Point the weapon back downrange and with your support-side thumb, press down the slide lock. The spring tension in the gun will now run the slide forward and bring the gun back into the battery. A second technique is called the “slingshot.” After the magazine is seated, grab the back of the slide with your support-side hand. With one quick motion pull the slide to the rear and release. The slide will now run forward and the gun will be back in battery. 

In Closing

Pick a reload position that is most comfortable for you.

Practice it until your selected position is second nature to you.

Don’t be afraid to start with one position, workspace for example. As your experience increases, you can move to another.

Remember in the stress of a defense situation, your brain is going to default to the position that is most comfortable with. Don’t fight is. Go with the flow.

Remember that your final goal is to keep your focus downrange, complete the reload as quickly as possible, and most important; don’t drop the magazine. 

Some final tips.

During the reload, move to cover. If no cover is available, a least most offline. A few steps left or right may save your life. 

You don’t have to go to the range to practice your reloading. Add the practice to your dry fire practice. Not doing fry fire practice, shame on you. It is the easy and cheapest way to keep your skills fresh.

Self Defense Skills & Drills

If you have a concealed carry license, you probably understand the need to stay proficient with your firearm. We try to meet this need with trips to the range. However, putting untimed rounds downrange at a static target only meets part of our needs.

We need to include skill-based drills. I know that range rules make this hard. My range does not allow you to draw from a holster. I work around this by starting from low-ready. They also require 2 seconds between shots. I just have to live with this. 

I am also on a content search for drills that fit or can be mortified to fit within the range rules. I recently came across a new entry.  

Baer Solutions Standards

The Baer Solutions Standards is a less commonly seen drill than something like The Test or the Bill Drill. (Check my free Target Tab for target downloads).

That being said, it still maintains a fair level of popularity. This is especially the case in circles like those who follow Lucas Botkin and GarandThumb. They have collaborated with Baer Solutions in the past. What exactly goes into shooting this drill?

Setting Up Baer Solutions Standards

For this drill, you’ll need their printed target, your pistol, a holster, two magazines, thirteen rounds, and a shot timer. There are no provisions for pistols with capacities lower than ten rounds, so no wheel Guns are allowed! 

Set your target up at either three, five, or seven yards. Baer Solutions recommends starting at five yards, but vary this based upon your level of skill. Load ten rounds into one magazine, and place that in the gun. Load the remaining three rounds into your spare magazine, and place it wherever you carry a reload.

 Starting position is hands relaxed at sides, not touching the gun. (I modified this step to low read to meet the range rules.) 

On the “beep”, draw and fire five rounds in one of the grey rectangles, then transition and fire five rounds in the other rectangle.
 
Once your slide locks back, reload using your spare three-round magazine. Fire your remaining three rounds into the center circle on the target.
 
This is all done in a single string of fire, no pausing between target areas.

Scoring Baer Solutions Standards

Scoring is very straightforward with this drill. Any rounds landing outside the target areas count as a miss, and a failure of the drill.

The par time is 9 seconds or less for everything. (I have to double this to meet the 2-second rule at my range.)

No additional points are awarded for tighter groups or faster times, just bragging rights. There are also no provisions for different styles of holsters.

If your range allows, I recommend shooting the drill from whatever method you typically use for carrying, whether that be concealment or a duty holster.

Final Thoughts on Baer Solutions Standards

Baer Solutions Standards is a solid, medium round count drill. It incorporates recoil control, target transitions, a reload, and follow-through control.

It is not unusual to see people throw the first round after the reload, rushing to get back on target, failing to adjust for the smaller size target.

The fairly short par times leave little room for error, and the center circle is unforgiving.

With a target that fits on standard 8.5×11 paper, this is something that anyone can attempt without having to buy special targets.

Give it a couple of tries, then wait a few months and see how much you’ve progressed.

Credits

Thanks to Dan Reedy of AmmoLand.com.  He was the inspiration of this post.

Shooting an Armed Robber

Recently I read an article about a clerk at an Illinois smoke shop and corner store. He as involved in a shooting.

The Timeline

It is early in the evening when three men run inside. They are wearing hoodies, but these days everyone wears hoodies. They are also wearing masks. With Covid, lots of his customers wear masks.

One of the men pointed a gun at the clerk. The armed robber asks if he has kids and wants to go home to see them. This gets his attention.

He starts looking at his options.

He is carrying a concealed firearm. However, he opts to not try to outshoot the robber. 

He opens the cash register and hands the robber the evening’s receipts. The three robbers are leaving when he sees them point their guns at a customer who is entering the store.

Fearing for the safety of the customer, he draws his firearm and shoots the armed robber several times. All three robbers run out the door and drive away.

Taking stock, he checks and his two co-workers are shaken, but not injured. He calls 911.

When the police arrive, he gives them a statement. he also provides them with the store security video of the robbery.

He called his boss and quit his job.

The Aftermath

The police find the injured robbers nearby. Two of them were taken to the hospital for treatment.

The injured robbers had a history of armed robbery. One was still on parole. The armed robber died in the hospital.

Police used a picture from the security video and they are looking for the third robber.

Our Peer Review

Legal Carry

Without a doubt, our defender deserves a lot of credit. He noticed that small businesses in his area were frequently robbed. He carried his personal firearm on his body when he was at work. In Illinois, a FOID card is required for concealed carry. The story does not mention an Illinois carry permit. You can bet that if he didn’t have a card that would have been the lead of the article; ‘man with illegal firearm gun down three incent men’.

Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor

The armed defender recognized the threat. He didn’t panic. 

The armed robber told the defender that he might never see his family that night unless he followed instructions. At that moment, he realized that he needed to defend himself.

However, he also recognized that he would need time to defend himself. Facing the robber’s drawn gun, he did not have a chance to stop the threat without being shot.

The defender waited. Seconds count. He waited for the robber to turn away. Now he could act. However, once the robber got the cash and turned his gun toward the front door, there was not an immediate and unavoidable threat. That removed the legal and moral justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense. 

Evolving Situation

Our armed defender remained calm and did not fire.

The situation changed a second later when the armed attacker pointed his gun at someone who was approaching the store from outside. Illinois recognizes the right to defend an innocent third party who faces a lethal threat. The armed defender shot the attacker. It would not have mattered if the attackers were shot from behind.

From the police report, we have to assume the shots were directed at the armed attacker and the other two attackers ran into the line of fire as they funneled through the front door. 

A Man Has to Know his Limits

When the attackers ran, it would have been tempting to give chase. Our defender keeps his head. He doesn’t try to chase the bad guy down the street. He stayed in the store.

We don’t know if this was good judgment or if the defender was not allowed to carry his firearm outside the business.

It is easy to see how it would be impossible for the defender to get his carry permit. Maybe the defender lived across the river in Iowa and only worked in Illinois. Unfortunately, Illinois law does not allow Iowa residents to get an Illinois carry permit, and Illinois does not recognize Iowa permits.

Security Plan

There are several things that our defender and his employer could have considered to lessen the change of a bad outcome.

Firearms Reciprocity Agreements Between States

In our article, it is easy to see how it would be impossible for the defender to get his carry permit.

Maybe the defender lived across the river in Iowa and only worked in Illinois.

Unfortunately, Illinois law does not allow Iowa residents to get an Illinois carry permit, and Illinois does not recognize Iowa permits.

Co-workers

The first goal of a security plan is to keep from getting shot.

Maybe the co-workers would do exactly what this defender did, but maybe not.

 Perhaps the three of them would dive under the counter so they were not a target.

One of them might have to stand up and hand over the cash. While the other co-workers were down on the floor and out of sight, maybe they could crawl to the back room and call 911.

When the armed robber threatened another customer, the armed co-workers could shoot the attacker while they stayed hidden behind the counter. They could shoot, but they don’t have to.

 

Self-defense Insurance

The defender called his boss and quit his job. He said his life was threatened at work and he was also afraid he would be financially ruined if he had to defend himself in court.

Can we blame him? You should have legal insurance if you might use a firearm for self-defense. That is true if you have your gun at home, at your business, or if you carry it in public.

Please consider how you will pay those bills while you have time on your side.

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DEVIATION

I recently read a post on shoot deviation posted by Personal Defense Network. It got me thinking. Just what are the effects of accuracy and speed on shot placement. We all know that the faster we shoot the harder it is to hit what you are aiming at, but is there a balance. This is where shoot deviation comes in. 

An overivew

Shoot deviation is the difference between where we want the bullet to go and where it can go. 

Let’s look a little deeper. Assume that the movement of the gun is limited to within the confines of your intended target. Let’s eliminate poor trigger press, then you will get the hit. However, if the movement of the gun is bouncing outside the confines of your intended target, you have the potential for a miss.

A few misses on the range is frustrating and a bruise to your ego, but is no big deal.

A miss in a dynamic critical has much bigger consequences.  This miss could mean one less round in your gun to handle the situation, one more stab wound from the attacker, or an errant round skipping down the road and potentially hitting a bystander. For our safety and others, we must allocate the resources necessary to get our hits.

“PERFECTLY STILL” vs “STILL ENOUGH”

OK, let’s admit nobody can hold a gun perfectly still. Even the best marksmen cannot gain this level of control in a controlled marksmanship shooting event on a safe square range. Perfectly still is certainly impossible during a violent attack.

Although “perfectly still” is unattainable, “still enough” can be obtained. There is an old saying that indicates “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough.” I believe this rings true in defensive shooting situations. We cannot let perfect stillness get in the way of reaching that last shot. The last shot is the one that ends the violent attack.

All shooting is a balance of speed and precision. Fast is indeed a thing, but not at the cost of our hits. We need to have the ability to place multiple rounds onto an attacker as quickly as we can while still getting our hits.

The ability to apply the skill in context will determine if we get the hits. Your confidence, or lack thereof, will determine how fast you shoot.

A shooter can also be overconfident. This can result in someone shooting outside of their own competency.

On the other hand, some shooters invest quite a bit of time to achieve the “perfect-er” shots.  A good goal but they could have gotten away with “much less perfect-er” shots even faster.

ACCURACY vs PRECISION

Accuracy is an all-or-nothing proposition. Either you hit your intended target or you did not.  Precision is the allocation of resources needed to get your hits.

The words precision and accuracy are often used interchangeably in the gun world, and this causes confusion. They are not the same.

Assume your intended target is the broad side of a barn. Then any hit on the broad side of that barn is a good accurate hit. However, if your intended target is a one-inch bullseye at 25 yards, then anywhere on the bullseye is a good accurate hit. 

It requires a great deal more precision to get the hit on the bullseye. however, we are not training to defend ourselves against attacking barns or bullseyes.

Our attacker will likely be a human being. The default target area on a human attacker should be the high center chest. This is the space on a chest below the collarbone and above the diaphragm in line with the head. All the good guts that keep a bad guy ticking are centrally located in this general spot, approximately a 10-inch x 10-inch area. This area is not a huge target, but not a small one either.

Even though the head is a big ball on top of the shoulders, there are limited target areas on the head because the skull is very hard, and most pistol rounds are unlikely to penetrate skull bone. The “T Zone” of the nose and eyes is approximately three inches x three inches. This is indeed a much smaller target.

Consider the concept of deviation. A larger target or a closer target, such as a bad guy’s high center chest at nine to 15 feet, will typically require less limitation of movement, or deviation control. A headshot or a bad guy who is farther away will require more limitation of movement, or deviation control.

We should be able to get a hit on the high center chest in less time at nine to 15 feet than we might get a headshot at nine to 15 feet. The smaller the target, the less room for error. We will likely need to invest more resources.

WHAT RESOURCES DO WE HAVE?

Time is our first resource. We will probably not have much of it if we are defending ourselves or our loved ones.

A good grip is our next resource. Maintaining a good grip and getting more bone support behind the gun can affect deviation immensely. A bonus is that a good grip also works well with what the body does naturally under stress.

Combine that with a 360-degree grip that clamps the gun into the meat of the hands with the thumbs pointed generally forward.

Our next resource is our stance. We need both arms at full extension. The gun should be in and parallel with the line of sight The arms should be in front of shoulders and shoulders engaged is like attaching two rifle stocks to your pistol.

Our resources can really limit a gun’s physical movement in space, even when shooting multiple rounds quickly. The more body, arm, and hand support we put on the gun, the less deviation we will have.

WHAT IS THE CONE OF DEVIATION

Let’s imagine a slice of pizza. It is small at the center of the pie and gets wide at the crust.  The cone of deviation is the same.

Visualize “the cone” while you are shooting. It starts between your shoulder blades. It gets bigger at the target. It then continues to broaden into infinity. The longer the distance, the more the deviation is magnified.

The cone represents the gun’s actual movement in space and the potential impact area at the target. As the cone originates at the shooter, the gun is actually approximately three feet into the cone.

What we need to do is minimize the cone at the target, just enough, and make sure the gun is in the center of the cone.

The gun’s sights are another resource we have available to achieve a higher degree of precision is our sights. We use these sights to help us align the angle of the barrel in relation to our eye and the target.

The sights help us to recognize our deviation in relation to a fixed known reference point. Sights are like a measuring device. When we use our sights, we are much more aware of the deviation going on at the moment.

Our support hand is yet another resource. We can measure how much gun movement is acceptable to us and then dedicate more “support” to hold the gun “stiller” so we can achieve a higher degree of precision.

This inherently takes a little more time, as we first need to decide to use our sights, then reduce the movement to the desired level. Don’t discount the time for decision-making! The more you train, the more likely you will be able to recognize under what circumstances you need to use your sights, close an eye, and focus on the front sight. With lots of correct repetitions, defensive body mechanics will become more intuitive and faster. However, using the sights will still likely be somewhat slower than not using them.

PICK WHERE YOU USE YOUR EFFORT

If your goal is to stop an attacker as quickly as you can, then filling the entire high center chest with holes will be more efficient and probably faster.

If you are doing compensation shooting, a nice tight group should be your goal.

Let’s assume you consistently shoot four-inch groups on the high center chest. Ask yourself, “Am I cycling the trigger as fast as I can, or am I maybe investing a little too much time in trying to get the gun stiller than I need to?”

Once you determine the answer, try to shoot faster by controlling the deviation appropriately for your target and cycling the trigger as quickly as you can while maintaining those consistent hits.

Learn and practice as frequently and realistically as you can. Control deviation as much as needed for your target, and be the fastest you can be, while still getting your hits.

References

I wish I could claim to be the ultimate source on this topic. 

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DEVIATION by Personal Defense Network served as my reference when writing this post. 

USABLE POWER FOR PERSONAL DEFENSE

Personal Defense Network has recently posted an excellent series of posts on self-defense. These posts dig deeper into elements of self-defense going past the classic grip, stance, and trigger control.

Car enthusiasts generally have a relentless pursuit of horsepower. But the pursuit triggers what sports car engineers refer to as the devil’s cycle, where bigger engines make a car heavier, and thus slower, by virtue of the power-to-weight ratio. While hobbyists with time and money enjoy the pros and cons of tuning a car for maximal gains, drivers who track or auto-cross are more concerned with balancing speed and handling precision for optimal context-specific performance.

This post looks at physical training, firearm selection, and ammo selection,

This post looks at some other considerations for anyone who’s serious about personal defense. Some of the topics are:

  • GEAR UPGRADES

  • LASER DRY-FIRE PISTOL REPLICAS

  • CONTEXTUAL LASER DRY-FIRE DRILLS

  • CLEARING THE STIMULUS-RESPONSE CONUNDRUM OF LASER DRY-FIRE REPLICA TRAINING

  • BLOWBACK AIRSOFT PISTOL

  • EMERGENCY DRIVING DYNAMICS

Enjoy your reading.

2nd Amendment – Shall not infringe vs well order militia

OK, here is where I make many of the supports of the second amendment mad. 

Well regulated militia vs shall not be infringed.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

For years, those 27 brief words have been the source of contentious debate — seen by some as inalienable protection against tyranny, by others as a dangerous anachronism.

Many in the 2nd amendment community focus on the ‘shall not be infringed‘ phrase in the 2nd Amendment. They use this as a blanket argument to say that any firearm law is unconstitutional.  As such, the government has no right to enforce any restriction on firearm possession.

We could get into days worth of debate over the constitutionality of firearm laws under the ‘shall not be infringed’ phrase.’ I support many of these positions.

However, while the government may not have the right, they have the power. This power will remain valid until we can get a Supreme Court with the backbone to stand up for the 2nd Amendment. For our part, we must make our voice heard. 

For this discussion, I would like to approach the constitutionality of firearm law from a different view. I want to focus on the entire 2nd Amendment. 

'A Well Regulated Militia'

What is a militia?

At the time of the American Revolutionary War, militias were groups of able-bodied men who protected their towns and colonies.  In many cases, these militias were expected to arm themselves. They were also expected to become proficient with their firearm on their own.

When the Constitution was drafted, the militia was a state-based institution. However, they were not a state-controlled entity.

In many cases, the militias owed their allegiance to their community. In other cases, a militia had a patron that provided support. Often these militias owed their allegiance to the patron. In all cases, allegiance was owed to the upper levels based upon loyalty, not mandated from the state down. 

Even today we voluntarily accept allegiance to our city, state, and nation. Were reject a mandated allegiance from the top down.

What did it mean to be well regulated?

One of the biggest challenges in interpreting a centuries-old document is that the meanings of words change or diverge.

Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, or well-disciplined. 

It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it today. Militias were not regulated but the state as National Guards are today.

There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape to fight. In other words, it didn’t mean the state was controlling the militia in a certain way, but rather that the militia was prepared to do its duty. 

'being necessary to the security'

What type of security was referred to in the 2nd Amendment?

To get to the root of this topic, consider the climate of the United States at the time. The country had just fought a war and won its independence. It was also expanding west.

There were plenty of reasons to feel unsafe. “Security” had a very palpable meaning to the population of the time. The government had an expanding country with limited resources.  The militias would be expected to protect local residents from attack and invasion.

The militias would also be expected to provide physical protection from government overreach. The idea of a state militia would also be attractive because it serves as a deterrent against national tyranny.

If government forces tried to take over land or overstep their boundaries, you would have an institution in place — the militia — that would outnumber any army.

With the size and scope of the modern United States military, and the fact that militias as we know them no longer exist, that notion is hard to imagine today. In the debate over the Second Amendment, this phrase, “a well-regulated militia,” remains one of the most cited and argued parts of the sentence. 

'of a free state'

What did a free state mean?

It may seem obvious, but the Constitution bore a lot of contemporary moralism, and not every word is well-defined.

In this case, the term is referring to ‘state’ as in one of the states of the original colonies. James Madison had the 1777 Virginia Declaration of Rights by his side when he wrote the Bill of Rights and he essentially copied and pasted language from it. Mason is talking about not only the free state of Virginia. He is also talking about a broader state of freedom.

'the right of the people'

What kind of rights?

This is another highly-contested area where it helps to know more about how the framers of the Constitution thought about complex ideas like “rights.

Today, when we think about ‘rights,’ we think of them as regulations and exemptions.

Back at the birth of our nation, they had a different quality. They were more moralistic.

This viewpoint is reflected in the Declaration of Independence. Rights were inherited; not granted.

The framers definitely believed in natural rights that were are endowed by a creator. They believed we are born into a state of nature before we form governments.

In addition, we are endowed with certain fundamental rights. These natural rights included the right to religious expression, free speech, property, and more.

However, the original constitution did not specifically include the tenets of the Second Amendment.

The framers did not talk about the right to bear arms as one of the set of natural rights. However, it is fair to say that the framers certainly believe there was a right to alter and abolish government.

In this light, it is historically accurate to say that the framers did recognize a natural right of self-defense.

Who are the people?

Even the term “people” has limitations. When some say people, they mean individual persons. However, ‘people’ can be read to mean different things in different articles.

There is a more basic question of semantics.  By “the people,” is the Second Amendment referring to people as private entities, or as participants in the militia? The legal consensus is that the 2nd Amendment applies to individual rights, within reasonable regulations.

More on that below.

'to keep and bear arms'

What are Arms in this context, and what is the scope of bearing Arms?

In the “District of Columbia v. Heller,” the Supreme Court decided the rights outlined by the Second Amendment did apply specifically to possession of firearms for purposes of self-defense.

The decision struck down the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which heavily regulated owning and keeping firearms in the District of Columbia.

If one reviews the decision, one can see the Court considered the awkward phrasing of the Amendment. The Justices divided the Amendment into an operative clause: “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and a prefatory clause: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” The court determined the relationship between these phrases, as well as the historical context of the Constitution’s creation, clearly provided an individual right.

The term “arms” is also an ever-changing one, and there are ongoing debates about assault weapons and emerging firearm technologies.

One thing people disagree about is whether assault weapons bans are constitutional. They also disagree about how we should interpret the constitution in terms of history or in light of new technologies.

'shall not be infrenged'

What does infrenge mean?

For modern applications and purposes, sadly we must turn to how the Second Amendment is presented in a court of law. For the most part, these applications have remained consistent since the Heller decision in 2008 and a similar case, McDonald v. City of Chicago, which was decided in 2010.

It’s really striking that since these Supreme Court decisions… lower courts have upheld almost all of the gun regulations they have asked to review

So what does this word salad men?

I think the framers of the Constitution would be surprised at the conversations we have today. 

Words like “militia” and “rights” are loaded with historical context and nuance that can act as a Rorschach test, leading even the best-intentioned interpreters to different conclusions. These 27 words wouldn’t be so incendiary if there were any clear answers.

Here is what I have gleaned:

  • Many on the Left would believe that the modern equivalent of a militia is the National Guard. However, what we have discussed so far has debunked this argument.
  • It is the responsibility of the individual to provide physical protection from government overreach.  The individual must possess firearms comparable to what the military uses. 
  • If we’re are going to cite the 2nd Amendment as a justification of firearm position, we must be ready to do our duty. There are many ways can do that duty. To some, this would be joining an organized group. For other of us, this would involve protecting our home and family. Part of this duty is to obtain the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard. This duty could be but is not limited to formation training, range time, and personal training.
  • The 2nd Amendment does not grant the right to possess a firearm just because it is cool. The possession must be related to the individual’s responsibilities to the 2nd Amendment.
  • We are the defenders of the 2nd Amendment. I am not talking about an armed revolt. We must make our voices heard. Stop bitching on Facebook. Get out, and support candidates at the local level support the 2nd Amendment. Move from the local level to the state level and from there to the national level. 

The Law and Untended Display of a Firearm.

I have a scenario for you.

You are heading out to do some shopping at a big box store.
 
You have your concealed carry license in your wallet and you daily carry on your hip under your shirt.
 
While shopping, you bend over to pick up a bag of dog food.
 
During this action, your firearm is exposed monetary. A Lefty freaks out and calls the police.
 
The first you know there is an issue is when an office confronts you. You are forced to the ground, your firearm is seized, you are handcuffed, and placed under arrest.
 
During this process, you comply with all of the officer’s commands.
 
Have you done anything wrong? Was the arrest lawful? What are your rights?
 
Hint: If you are a Florida resident check out Florida statute 790.053.  If you are not in Florida, you will need to check your local Law. 

My legal note: I m not a lawyer. I cannot give legal advice. I can only tell my opinions related to Florida.

This scenario has several levels. First, you have a concealed carry license so you are legal to carry a concealed firearm.

Next, you have the license in your wallet, so we can assume it is on your person when you went shopping. A license on your desk does no good.

Your firearm is concealed under your shirt. So far there is nothing that would justify the arrest.

Now to the monetary exposure. The original concealed carry statute did cover unintended display. Many Lefty LEOs use this loophole to harass legal conceal carry licenses saying they were open carrying. 

For some reason, the legislature did not update the concealed carry statute to address this loophole. Instead, they amended the open-carry statute. They added ‘ It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.’

This statue covers our intended display. We cannot be held reasonable for a Lefty freaking out over the sign of a firearm. 

The next issue is the big box store’s policy on concealed carry. If they don’t have a policy, they can still ask you to leave. If they have a policy, but notification, they can still ask you to leave. If they have a notification on display they can ask you to leave.

All three of these scenarios have things in common. First, the store’s policy and notification have no legal standing related to the possession of a firearm. You cannot be arrested based on the fact that you have a concealed firearm. 

The issue we are addressing here is covered by the trespass laws. Any store has the right to ask you to leave. If you refuse to you have violated the trespass laws.

Digging through several statutes, we find ‘Whoever, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner or lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance.’

In our scenario we were never asked to leave, so we are not covered by the trespass laws.

But you say what if there was a sign on the door. Here the ‘what sign’ defense comes into play. A sign on the door cannot serve as notice unless you have prior notice for a previous visit. Our arrest fails another test. 

The LEO could try to use the fact that you were armed and a threat to the public. Well, we were armed, but the only evidence that we were a threat was a freaked-out Lefty.

The fact that you were forced to the ground points to the LEO overacting. Add to this the fact that you complied with all the officer’s commands supports your claim that you were not a threat. 

After reviewing all the issues around the arrest, I would say that there was no ground for the arrest. At most, we should have been asked to leave the store.

So what would I do in this situation? As mad as I might be, I would not scream or fight. These actions only let the LEO use resisting arrest as justification for the arrest. I know this seems like a self-fulfilling loop but it is the law.

I would compile with arrest, contact my lawyer, and think how much money I would make in my lawsuit against the LEO and the store.

My legal note: I m not a lawyer. I cannot give legal advice. I can only tell my opinions related to Florida. When in doubt, contact your lawyer, especially if you are sitting in a holding tank. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis creating his own well-regulated militia.

Florida governor, Ron DeSantis has driven the left to pull their hair out. 

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running to replace DeSantis, tweeted.

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but Florida doesn’t need a paramilitary force that only answers to @RonDeSantisFL. Millions of Floridians know what it’s like to live under regimes like this — and came to our state to escape them. This must be stopped,” Fried tweeted.

In my humble opinion, the Florida State Guard is exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment.

The only problem I foresee is the unit’s 200-member limit. I predict DeSantis will receive 1,000-times that many applications and letters of interest.

In addition, I don’t think the governor has gone far enough. 

From the article:
 

‘The establishment of the Florida State Guard will further support those emergency response efforts in the event of a hurricane, natural disasters, and other state emergencies.’

My read of the 2nd Amendment is that a militia is armed to provide for the common defense of the community; not just fill sandbags.
 
More than 20 states already have similar state paramilitary forces, many of which were formed as state militias during the 18th Century.
 
With a firm command and control structure, a well-armed militia could be a great asset to the state.
 
My 2-cents.

But is was self-defense!

Does Self-defense mean you won't be prosecuted?

Scenario

Let’s look at a possible scenario. 

I just left a restaurant after enjoying a pleasant meal. I head down the street to where my car is parked. I decide to do a quick check of your email.

Turning the corner, I encounter a group of black-clad protesters. Before I can retreat to safety, one of the protestors starts screaming at me and knocks me down.  As I struggle to get back up, the protestor starts beating me with a skateboard. 

Realization washes over me. I realize that I will be knocked unconscious and possibly killed if I don’t do something soon. So I draw my concealed carry firearm and shoot the protestor. The police arrive and pull me away from the rest of the protesters.

I think that they have come to the rescue, but I soon find myself in handcuffs.

As I sit in the holding cell, I still think that this is just a procedure. After all, I didn’t intend to kill the protestor, but the protestor died from the gunshot. Besides, it was self-defense. 

My lawyer arrives and bails me out. This action empties my saving, but I am still sure that the follow-up investigation will clear me. I even felt vindicated when the next day, news coverage showed the protestor attacked Me. Wetnesses also confirm my story. 

After a few weeks, my lawyer informed me I had been indicted for manslayer. He also told me that a trial date had been set. I think ‘what the’?

The Real World

You don’t think this can happen. Ask Kyle Rittenhouse! 

Rittenhouse is an 18 male. He is accused of shooting dead Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, in the parking lot of a Kenosha car dealership during rioting in the Wisconsin city on Aug. 25, 2020.

He was indicted, and the case went to trial.

How is this possible when video and witness evidence showed his claim of self-defense was valid? 

Here is the absolute truth. In our legal system, the prosecutor decides when charges are filed. We would hope that this decision would be band based upon the facts. Sadly the ability to win the case and political forces often sway the decision. 

A shooter’s history can play a part in the prosecutor’s decision. So does the shooter doesn’t have to have a criminal history. Social media posts can come base to haunt a shooter. 

The jury pool can also affect the prosecutor’s decision. For example, a shooting that would never go to trial in a conservative county will often go to trial in a liberal county.

The ability to win a case sways some prosecutors more than the facts. 

What would I do?

I am not a lawyer, so I cannot tell what you should do. I can only tell you what I would do.

First I try my best to avoid this type of situation. I try to stay informed about what I going on in areas that I am going to visit. Things like checking in the news, paying a little more to park close to the restaurant, and staying aware of the sounds in the area are all helpful in staying out of a bad situation.  

When I could not avoid a situation, my next action would be to elevate.  Sure, here in Florida, you don’t have the duty to retreat. However, it is better to retreat if I can safely do this. This could require some planning. I should know my escape routes. It may also require that I react as soon as I see the threat. If I am checking my email, I will have to switch from email to assessing the threat. Again, stay alert.

If I cannot avoid or escape, I must confront the threat. Your posture, actions, and voice can convince the threat that you are not an easy target. 

The last item on the decision tree is deadly force. There is an old saying that says “It is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6”. If it is me or the attacker, I will choose myself every time.

The Aftermath.

I did everything a reasonable person could have done to avoid the use of deadly force. Now I have to prepare for the aftermath.

The police

Remember the police are not there to protect me. No matter how friendly they may seem to be, they work for the prosecutor. 

I have the right to remain silent, but that right does come into effect until I invoke it. Anything I voluntarily say before or after I  invoke my right may be used against you. I would not say anything without my lawyer present. 

The prosecutor

The prosecutor’s goal is to win the case. In most situations, if they don’t think they can win the case, they won’t prosecute.  If they think they can win the case or there is political pressure, they will prosecute.

My lawyer

My only ally is my lawyer. The sooner I can get my lawyer involved, the better. 

The quality of my defense is based upon the quality of my lawyer. My family lawyer may be great with wills and trust, but how much does my lawyer know about self-defense law.

I am a big advocate of self-defense insurance. Self-defense insurance is like car insurance for self-defense situations.

Firms like United States Conceal Carry Association and U.S. Law Shield offer policies that provide legal defense in cases involving the use of a firearm related to self-defense. 

If I decide not to take advance of self-defense insurance, I better be sure I have a relationship with a good lawyer that specializes in self-defense law.

My Final Option

I cannot let the consequences of using deadly force scare me out of carrying daily. If I do, I surrender my fate to others. 

  • Training is a must. Instructor lead courses are great, but all training is useful. Books, Youtube, dry-fire, and scenario walk-through are all viable training. Knowledge is power.
  • Don’t let the first time you think about the use of deadly force and the consequences be when the attacker is in your face. 
  • Let your lawyer sort things out. 

My last words:

  • Exercise your 2nd amendment rights
  • Get trained
  • Carry responsibility