Anyone who has been a part of America’s gun culture for a good amount of time has probably heard plenty of clichés at the gun store counter or the local range. With the growth of social media over the past decade, these catch phrases are being blasted out to the masses in the form of memes, status updates and the like. Some of these sayings are innocent and even endearing, but some are outright misrepresentations of the gun owning community. A lot of us, including me, have used some of these phrases before in passing without really thinking about what they mean and how they can affect the way that we are perceived. With this post I am going to detail 6 clichés that I think are overused and probably even reckless when put in proper context.
1. “It’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”
This flippant attitude toward the use of deadly force is both ignorant and dangerous. Any armed citizen who takes their legal obligations this lightly is a liability to society as a whole, not to mention the danger that they pose to themselves if they are ever faced with a true conundrum. Having taught use of force for several years as part of my concealed handgun license classes, I don’t know how anyone with even the baseline required training can possibly miss the “last resort” part of using deadly force. The concept that potentially taking a life should be considered only in the direst of circumstances is one that any instructor worth his or her salt ought to be covering thoroughly. I believe that most instructors are diligent to point this out, but there are just some students who don’t want to hear it because of their egos. I understand that this is often said in jest, and I probably said it myself early on in my life as an armed citizen. However, in light of recent national headlines; I cannot fathom why anyone would truly believe that this is a wise maxim to live by. If you ask George Zimmerman how much “better” it was to live to be “judged by 12”; I’m not so sure he would be as bold with this chest-thumping bravado. What’s better is to never be judged by 12 or carried by 6. This is an outcome that is achievable through education and even temperament, which should be the virtues of any armed citizen.
2. “I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46”
Do you even train bro? I am especially passionate about this one because I have no doubt that I have uttered these words before (probably several times). As a student of history and a red-blooded American male to boot, I grew up shooting 1911’s and have always loved the .45ACP round. It is the iconic American cartridge and is as legendary as the Greatest Generation that brought it to prominence. The problem is that with modern ballistic technology being what it is, the .45ACP is simply not the best choice for a defensive shooter. All shooting is a balance of speed and precision, and you simply cannot optimize that balance as well with a .45ACP as you can with a 9mm. This debate will rage on as long as there are trained and untrained individuals on internet forums sparring for attention. Science is an amazing thing. Once I accepted that there is no discernable difference between modern bonded hollow point ammunition in 9mm, .40, and .45 when it comes to wounding capacity or penetration depth, and combined that with the fact that I can shoot much faster with 9mm: the debate was over for me. I still love my .45 and I still love the history that it represents; but historical coolness will not better prepare me to defend myself. If you just can’t get over the facts, I would challenge you to carry this cliché to its natural conclusion and start concealed carrying a .50 or you’re obviously a wimp.
3. I’m a “sheepdog”
I am a big advocate for LTC Dave Grossman and his work. “On Killing” and “On Combat” ought to be required reading for any armed citizen. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the books, but the good far outweighs the questionable. I had the pleasure of dining with the Colonel and engaged him one on one a couple of years ago. I can tell you that there is not a more passionate, dedicated advocate for personal responsibility and the right to keep and bear arms on this planet. That being said, some of the legion of followers that he has inspired have failed to take that inspiration any further than reading the words off of the page. Think about the essence of a true sheepdog for a minute. People pay top dollar to pedigreed breeders with special licenses and certificates in order to acquire the most pure bred sheepdogs to tend their herds. Every one of these sheepdogs is going to come with certain ingrained tendencies to want to protect and herd the flock. However, if I were to spend top dollar on a sheepdog and then bring it back to Texas, domesticate it by letting it lay on my couch, and never expose it to sheep; its sheepdog tendencies would soon be overcome by lapdog reality. I have a basset hound that was undoubtedly bred for hunting rabbits, but if I were to drag him out of his dog bed and take him to the woods, he would just as likely fall off of a cliff as catch a rabbit. You see, Sheepdogs must be TRAINED in order to hone their sheepdog essence and make a good, reliable working animal. The same thing can be said about the legion of “sheepdogs” that cling to LTC Grossman’s every word. There are plenty of “fanboys” of the sheepdog mentality who have never been to a training class of any kind. They may very well have the love for their fellow man and desire to protect others ingrained in them, but without proper training, they will be unlikely to be of any use when the wolf comes. So, if you fancy yourself a “sheepdog”: go get some training. If not, you’re just carrying the label as a crutch and may not rise to the occasion if it is ever required of you.
4. “A little lady like you needs a little gun like this.”
This ridiculously condescending and sexist advice is usually followed by the recommendation of some tiny, malfunction-prone mouse gun or most unfortunately, a snub nosed .38. I have had several different women show up to my classes with little pink something or others that the dummy at the gun store sold them out of ignorance. Usually, by the end of even the most unchallenging concealed carry qualification, they are already asking for a different recommendation. This is especially true of women who show up with little micro revolvers with heavy DA triggers. As long as there is nothing physically wrong with a given female shooter, there are several options in the Modern Striker Fired list of guns that will work perfectly well for even the tiniest of frames. So, if you are the guy telling brand new female shooters to bring Beretta Nanos to my class, please… just.. stop.. Thanks.
5. “That door was locked for your protection, not mine.”
Ok Rambo, apparently we need to talk about what doors are for. If you believe yourself to be such a super bad-ass, then why have a door at all? Since men have been building things, doors have been shut and locked generally to keep unwanted intruders out. If you think that a bad guy coming into your home is less safe in that moment than you are: you are a fool. A home invader clearly has the upper hand if he has defeated your first tier of home defense in a locked door. The principles of a solid home defense plan should be to evade, barricade, and respond. Evasion means to get as far away from the bad guy as you can. If you can get out of the house, do it. If not, get to a pre-designated safe room and commence with barricading yourself inside. Somewhere in conjunction with evading and barricading, you should arm yourself for the possibility of a required response. If the bad guy defeats your barricade, that’s when you should be prepared to use deadly force if necessary. A t-shirt slogan like the one above betrays an ego that will not lead to a very proactive strategy for home defense and is little more than tough guy talk. Watch a few videos of home invasions and then tell me how you feel about doors.
6.) “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
This one is a favorite retort of Wayne Lapierre and other people who aren’t good at arguing on substance. There are actually plenty of ways to stop a bad guy with a gun. Take, for instance, the guys in Europe who jumped a terrorist armed with a rifle and subdued him with nothing but their bare hands. Those guys had the will to fight and the opportunity to act, which are really the two key factors at play in any of these situations. Overcoming evil is more about mindset than it is about tools. Obviously, if confronted with a gun, the best response would be to have a gun yourself and shoot back. However, we know that even outside of a “gun-free zone”, this isn’t always possible. What we need to be preaching to people is that the best way to stop a bad guy, regardless of his armament, is to be ready to beat his ass with whatever means available. If that happens to be a gun, great; but the fight isn’t necessarily lost just because of the disproportionate armament. If we start seeing classrooms full of people all charging the shooter with any improvised weapon they can grab on short notice, we will see fewer of these cowards seeking the easy fame of mass murder. We get pretty righteously irritated when the anti-gun media fixates on the tool over the person. As such, we need to make sure we aren’t guilty of the same logical fallacy. This cliche’ needs to go away along with the people who keep using it.
Obviously, this post is filled with a high level of snark and sarcasm. For me, that is the best way to confront these ideas in the context that they are most often conveyed. Words mean things. The sayings that we use are what the general public will use to paint a picture of who we are. This is especially true of our enemies who want to take our freedoms away. Politics is a thing, and public opinion can be swayed in this age of social media with the right meme. So consider what you say to others, and especially when you are talking to new shooters. They might not understand that you are “just kidding”. This is potentially life and death stuff we are talking about. Take it seriously.
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