Thoughts on the Zimmerman Case

George Zimmerman put himself in the wrong place. Sorry, guys, I know we like to say “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away,” and that’s true, but even if Trayvon Martin was up to something criminal that night, there was no immediate threat to Zimmerman. A suspicious person walking through your neighborhood is something for the police, not for you.

Am I blaming Zimmerman for the attack? No. From the evidence at the trial, Martin attacked Zimmerman. Saying that it is Zimmerman’s fault is about the same as saying a woman deserved to be raped because she was wearing provocative clothing. However, in both cases, there were steps the victim could have taken to make an attack less likely. That’s why self defense teachers stress situational awareness and avoiding dangerous situations.

Am I saying that we should be helpless victims, and just wait for the police? Absolutely not. I believe in the right, even the responsibility, of self defense. But a suspicious person in your neighborhood is not yet a case of self defense.

What I am saying is that you need to very carefully consider the possible consequences of your actions, and that when you are not under a direct threat, calling the police is the best option.

It’s easy for me to say this from my living room, but we need to be able to look at situations, and learn from them. My takeaways are:

  • Even if you are eventually acquitted, you can be dragged through hell after a shooting.
  • Incidents can escalate very quickly. Don’t do anything to speed it up.
  • Avoiding a situation is your best option.
  • The police have a lot of advantages when approaching someone. Leave it to them.
  • In an incident where you approach someone, or are seen to, the self defense argument can be turned on you.This didn’t work on Zimmerman, but it certainly could in the future.

Hornady Reduces Production to Increase Production

Hornady announced that it is going to be reducing the number of SKUs it is producing to reduce the time the lines are idle to retool for caliber changes, thus producing more ammo. Hornady intends to resume full line production when the ammo shortage eases.

They are still listing about 440 SKUs, so there is still a fair amount of variety available.

I think this is a good idea, allowing more people to get the ammo they want, at the cost of some of the rarer types of ammo. It may be a problem for some shooters, but as their statement says, it appears that a lot of makers are doing this already, Hornady is being up front about it.

Ammunition Grand Opening at

Arkansas goes Constitutional Carry

More here. I love that map, too.

Between that and Illinois working through the process to allow concealed carry under court order, good things are still happening. But as Colorado proves, bad things can happen, too.

As Sebastian said: “The other side needs to understand that there are consequences for awakening the sleeping giant.”

That Answers That Question

I asked where Heidi Yewman went. Apparently Ms. couldn’t handle dissension, and reasoned discourse broke out. They not only shut down a lot of pro-gun commenters, they shut down the series.

I get that you don’t want her home address published, but if you didn’t think a series like this would get that many responses, you’ve been living in the echo chamber far too long.


I’m not Seeing the Hate Crimes Enhancer

A woman was assaulted while playing the saxophone outside Summer Fest. Why? Because she was playing Minnie The Moocher, a jazz/blues song, and three African-American women didn’t think “a white girl” could play that song. So they hit her. Repeatedly.

Three women were cited for disorderly conduct, and one of them for assault and battery. Is seems to me like when an attacker specifically identifies your race as the reason they are attacking you, there isn’t much more you can ask for to prove racial motivation. If we are going to have enhancers for hate crimes, why were they not applied to this case?

Where’s the Evidence?

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, almost as many Obama supporters view the Tea Party as the biggest terrorist threat to America as think it is radical Islam. (29% radical Islam, 26% the Tea Party, vs 51% Radical Islam & 26% the Tea Party in the overall survey)

In fairness, 2% thought the Occupy movement was the biggest terrorist threat, which is just as stupid. Maybe the smell of an Occupy camp is a threat, and there have been quite a number of reports of property damage, but these aren’t terrorism.

Show me the Tea Party (or Occupy) members who bombed a major sporting event, flew planes into sky scrapers, or are stuffing their underwear with explosives. It just isn’t happening.

Maybe you could say that the ideology of either of these groups is a bigger threat than Islamic terrorists. It may well be, but to say that either is a bigger terrorist threat is nonsensical, and ignores the actual evidence. I could argue the the freebie culture fueling most of the Occupy movement is a threat to our way of life, and I can see where Democrats might feel the same way about Tea Party groups, but we just don’t have the evidence, especially with Tea Party groups, that they are a terrorist threat.

Maybe it isn’t a matter of simply ignoring the evidence. Maybe people no longer care if something is defined. If something is a threat, it must be terrorism. Or “terrorist” is just being used as a superlative, like saying it’s the biggest threat. The problem is, words mean things, and it is important that they retain those meanings. Once words are redefined, the words lose all their meaning. If terrorist becomes “someone we disagree with,” terrorist no longer means ANYTHING. If that happens, then everyone is a terrorist, because we all disagree with someone.

Saying the Tea Party is the biggest terrorist threat to America is a knee-jerk reaction more filled with emotion than thought.

How to Start a Gun Collection

In my search terms (search engine queries that landed on this site) the other day, I saw “how to start a gun collection.” My flippant first response was “buy a gun,” but this is a serious question. Since I get at least a dozen hits a day on my post “The must have gun list,” a lot of people are looking for advice on this topic.

If you are a first time gun buyer, the first thing I would advise you to do is sit down, and figure out why exactly you want to buy a gun or guns. Many people want to buy a gun for personal or family protection, some collect them for history, or because they were in books or movies (a PPK is on my short list, and yes, it is purely because of James Bond,) people want to hunt, or just feel like it is something they would like to understand more. I am not saying you need to determine this because there is a “wrong” reason (other than crime,)  but because your reasons make a big difference in what you would buy.

Guns for Protection:

Before I get into details, there is something that should be addressed. If you are going to own a gun for protection, whether that is a primary or secondary reason, you may have to make the decision to seriously injure or kill someone that is threatening you someday. The heat of that situation is not the time for a moral dilemma. You need to be certain before you have the gun that you will be willing to shoot, or you may end up having the gun taken from you, and maybe used on you. I am NOT saying you have to like the idea, I certainly don’t, but you need to be at peace with it. I have guns for protection because I want to get home to my wife, and if someone takes their life in their own hands by attacking my, being there for my family is going to win.

The other factor is training. This can be formalized, or in the form of your own study and practice. Make sure you are comfortable with your weapon before you need it.

Guns for protection fall into two categories, guns for carry (Open or concealed) and guns for home protection.

Carry guns will be a handgun, and should be something that you are comfortable with, and can comfortably conceal on your body.

Semi-auto vs. revolver: both have benefits and drawbacks. Semi-autos (normally) have more rounds available, and are easier to reload. The downside is that it is easier to have one jam, and you should make sure you do drills clearing jams. Revolvers normally carry fewer rounds, and can be more difficult to reload quickly. However, if a round misfires, pull the trigger again, a new round is cycled into firing position, and is fired.

Caliber: The bottom line, as Caleb says, any gun you are carrying is more useful than one in your safe. That said, the generally accepted minimum as .380 in semi-auto, and .38 special in revolvers. Once you get past those, the terminal performance is going to be acceptable from any common caliber in the situations you are likely to run into.

Bottom line: you are going to need to go into a gun shop, and look at a number of guns. If possible, rent some and test them. You also need to look at holsters, to make sure that you can get one for your preferred carry style for that gun.

Home Protection: There are several options here. The same guns you carry for protection will work for inside the home protection as well, but without the need to be able to carry the weapon, more options are open to you.

Handguns: Look at some larger frame options, which are easier to control, and can accept a larger magazine. Also consider night sights, like tritium, which glow in the dark and make aiming easier.

Shotguns: Despite what Joe Biden said, a double barreled shotgun is probably not your best option, and certainly don’t just fire randomly like he suggested. My recommendation would be a pump or semi-auto in 12 gauge, or 20 gauge for slightly less recoil. Semi-autos dissipate some recoil cycling the action, so they can have less recoil than a pump. A pump is usually cheaper, and I like the fact that you can muscle through most problems you might have, like a shell that doesn’t want to eject.

Buckshot is the best home defense ammo, with terminal performance, and less over-penetration than slugs.

Rifles: In most cases, a rifle wouldn’t be my first choice for most home defense situations, because of over-penetration (bullets passing through the target or walls, potentially hitting something behind it.) The two major exceptions would be serious civil unrest (think the Rodney King riots) or another situation were you might have to engage multiple armed threats. In one case, I had armed robbers who crashed not too far from my house. They had been apprehended by the time I got home, but if they hadn’t been, the AR-15 would have been out.

If you are going to use a rifle, an AR-15 or AK-47 style gun is going to be the most effective.


This is a little harder to make specific recommendations on, since it is going to be up to you what you want to collect. My recommendation here is to do your research, and even if you are not planning to shoot the guns, learn how to use them.

Also, be realistic about guns from movies and books. These mediums are not renowned for their accuracy. In other words, make sure that if you are using the gun for more than collecting, it is actually suitable for what you want.


These are normally going to fall into two categories, rifles and shotguns. What you choose will be based on what you plan to hunt.

Birds are hunted with shotguns, small game like rabbits and squirrels can be hunted with either shotgun or small bore rifle, like a .22 long rifle or .17 hmr.

Deer and larger game can be hunted with a rifle or shotgun using slugs. Some areas only permit shotgun, with it’s shorter range.

If you are starting to hunt, you are probably going to be with a friend or group. Talk to them, and find out what they are using.

For sheer versatility, my recommendation is to start with a 12 gauge pump shotgun like a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 (my preference is the Remington,) and then look at others from there. I have a vintage Ithaca 37 which I love, and the new ones look very nice, but on the pricy side for a starter gun. Both those and the Browning BPS are bottom ejection, which makes shooting left handed easier, although if you are buying a shotgun as a lefty, you might want to look for one designed as a left-handed gun.

If you are starting with a medium to large bore rifle, bolt action is usually the best place to start. The Remington 700 and Winchester Model 70 are two classic guns (Although the Model 70 has been reworked recently,) Savage and CZ are also good brands to look at.

For most hunting in North America, 30-06 or .308 are probably the most common calibers, and can be used on anything in the country, although I might want a little more punch for Alaskan brown bears. Start with one of those, unless you know you need something bigger.

Target Shooting:

For shotgun sports (Trap, skeet, sporting clays, 5-stand,) the Remington 870 is used by a lot of beginning shooters. I would start there, then research the higher end options. One problem with starting on a really high end gun is that they are often tuned to a specific sport, and may not cross over well. A single barreled trap gun is going to be useless for disciplines where you need more than one shot.

Rifle shooting: start with something like a Ruger 10/22 in .22 long rifle, unless you have your sights on a specific competition. Even then, if you don’t have experience shooting rifles, start with the .22. Many of the skills you learn will carry over to the bigger guns, and you will pay for the gun in ammo savings.

Bottom Line:

I hope this has given you some insight, but your best option is to talk to someone you trust. Most gun owners are more than happy to help someone new get started. Just remember, though, that everyone has their prejudices (including me) and a hunter may not see the point in shooting clays, and a clay shooter might not have any use for killing animals. If you run into this, thank the person, and find someone that can help you.

When you go to a gun shop, try to find a time when they are a little slower. They should be able to provide you the help you need at any time, but you will have the best luck when there isn’t a line out the door.

The most versatile option to start with is a 12 gauge pump shotgun. Everyone should have one. However, it may not be ideal, or even usable for your specific requirements.

Once you decide on that first gun, take a look at my post “The must have gun list.” That should help you cover all the basics, and by the time you are done with that, you will have a good idea where to go next.

I hope this helps you get started, I am sure you will enjoy it.

If you have any specific questions leave them in the comments.

An Open Letter

An open letter to my state representatives:

Representative <My State Representative> and Senator <My State Senator>,

I am going through the process to become a foster parent, and was disturbed to find out that the licensing agency ([redacted]) that I am working with requires foster parents to sign a form agreeing to not carry while foster children are present.
As a strong believer that concealed carry increases the safety of the person carrying, as well as those with them, I believe this is not in the best interest of either the foster children or the foster parents.
Therefore, I respectfully request that you would consider authoring a bill that would protect the rights of foster parents to defend themselves, as well as ensure they have the most effective means available to protect the children in their care from certain types of crime. Such a bill should also amend the state’s foster code to permit a loaded weapon in a foster home, at least while it is in the direct control of a concealed carry permit holder.
Thank you for your attention in this matter,
I’ll post any updates, including replies.