This post is respectfully dedicated to all law enforcement ofﬁcers killed by other law enforcement ofﬁcers. May GOD forgive us.
I have never used this bully pulpit to promote my personal livelihood of being in the ﬁrearms and tactics instruction business. Occasionally, I’ll make reference to something we learned in a class or information exchanged between a student and myself. I have on many occasions aggravated folks with my writing. When I say to use the sights whenever you can, I get hate mail from the point/instinctive shooting side of the house. If I call people on whining because they didn’t like the gun in question as it had a gold bling or ﬁxed sights or wasn’t their caliber of choice — yeah, I think they’re whiners. I also believe I’m just as entitled to my opinion as you are to yours.
My younger theoretical peers in the training industry have called me “old fashioned” and I guess I could be. But, I teach and write about what I believe and know. What I know and teach works and has worked for others, like my 13,000 students over three decades. But, I need to tell you some stuff about where I come from. I grew up in a house with guns present; learning gun safety and to not point guns at people. I shot on my high school riﬂe team and taught safety and marksmanship.
I went to the riﬂe range as a young Marine where we were forced to handle guns safely and then spent 18 months in Vietnam as a basic 0311 who spoke Vietnamese learned from the Army language school in Monterey. In Vietnam I was attached to the Combined Action Platoons and lived with the Vietnamese people teaching their young men the skills of combat — and safe gun handling.
I came home, worked as a cop for seven years mostly teaching ﬁrearms and gun safety. In 1980 I went to Gunsite and worked with Mr. Jeff Cooper teaching, among other things, safe gun handling and marksmanship skills. In 1983 I started my ﬁrst business and in 1993 moved to Texas and opened Thunder Ranch. It was a good place to work, and it was a safe place to work because I was a real dick about safety.
Our motto — Nothing stupid today! We are not gonna be shot, and we are not gonna let anybody shoot anybody else including themselves. If you want to be embarrassed, just screw with the Thunder Ranch safety rules. You’ll get your butt chewed and I refuse to apologize.
People often roll their eyes when given the safety brief in the classroom instruction portion and then before and during training evolutions on the range deck proper. I strongly recommend students do not do dry practice off the range deck during class week — speciﬁcally including inside their motel rooms. I’ve taught that way for years, and I have a few years left before I quit teaching altogether. I plan to run the safety and gun handling doctrines the same way until the last minute of the last class. It’s the way I run my range and my business. So I am old fashioned.
Training gun yes … real gun — no.
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES
Let’s just suppose I was teaching a class and made my students point guns at each other? Then suppose I made them reload magazines into guns while pointed at each other and then made them cycle the action while pointing guns at each other. How am I doing? About now some of you — the smart ones — are going no way, this jackass is going to get somebody killed.
But, I think I should be exempt from responsiblity if loaded ammunition on the premises happens to be in my magazine and in my gun and pointed at a student who theoretically could soon lie dead as a box of hammers. After all, this is with the best of intentions, I mean theoretically I am trying to teach people what it is like “in combat” so if they get killed by live ammo, that’ll teach something.
If theoretically someone was accidentally killed, would I be indicted? No way, I have thirty years firearms teaching experience and I do have the best of intentions and after all tragedies happen. Right? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of March 2006 reported a 23-year veteran recruit training Sergeant shot and killed a recruit in the classroom. The recruits were worried about the instructor’s teaching methods and didn’t want to follow his commands to point guns at each other. They also found six years ago the same sergeant was warned in writing not to use live weapons in classroom. All live ammo and working guns by state policy are banned from academy classrooms.
And here are some of my personal favorites: The grand Jury declined to indict the sergeant and the police investigation didn’t recommend charges. The Public Safety Director stated, “There was no criminal intent” and the Director of the Training Center said, “Everything we were doing was consistent with what we should have been doing. There is no live ammunition in our classes.”
Except for the round that killed the recruit — Stupid.
Now let me get this right, as a cop I could teach people to point guns at each other, load, reload, cycle actions, etcetera which increases the potential for a theoretically non-existent live round to be loaded in a theoretically unloaded gun with “no intent” and can theoretically kill the crap out of my recruits. And it’s just a tragedy?
So then as a civilian ﬁrearms instructor I should be able to kill students as long as I have no criminal intent? You want to know what I think? I think as a civilian puke ﬁrearms instructor I am going to be arrested and indicted; that’s what I think — unless I get a break because I used to be a cop.
This is only one case of many of cops killing other cops with unloaded guns in training and in direct violation of the old fashioned basic frigging ﬁrearms safety rules.
BORING FUNDAMENTAL CRAP
All guns are always loaded.
Don’t point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.
Keep your ﬁnger off the trigger until the sights are on the target and you are willing to shoot.
Be sure of your target and backstop. I wonder how many of these rules were violated by our 23-year veteran ﬁrearms instructor? A tragedy? I’ll tell you the tragedy, the tragedy is a 23-year-old cop is dead and we are going to do zip about it.
Just go ahead and write the editor to whine about this column. I’m dying to hear somebody justify how this tragedy was “not my fault, it was an accident, I’m sorry” the other guy didn’t check the gun, it “just went off by itself” or whatever lame stupid justiﬁcation some jerk can come up with.
As of right now, I am truly embarrassed I was a cop. I am truly embarrassed this — using the term very loosely — “firearms instructor” killed another cop.
I am truly embarrassed we are not gonna do a damn thing about it. As a matter of fact right now I am truly embarrassed to be a human being on a planet with someone else this stupid sucking in the same air. And as God as my witness, I’ll be glad when the day comes I can retire, if for no other reason as to not have myself associated with the words “ﬁrearms instructor.” Especially as long as there people who point guns at their students while claiming to do what I do for living and call themselves a ﬁrearms instructor.