Ignorance Is Bliss – Until You Meet A Predator
Not too long ago, I lived my life as you probably do today. I was a law-abiding citizen who went faithfully about his business as you probably do. I went to work every day, spent quality time with my family, regularly attended church services, and didn’t stick my nose into the affairs of other people.
I dutifully exercised my civic duties such as voting in every election, maintaining my home inside and out, and supporting the general affairs of the city of my birth. Further, I felt that I had the basic routine of ensuring my family’s safety covered: I owned a shotgun and had plenty of buckshot shells on-hand for home defense and maintained a state of continual vigilance.
Despite my best efforts of trying to be safe in an increasingly dangerous town, my world was suddenly and violently turned upside-down on one eventful night. As I was returning home one evening from a full day of work, I was approached by and robbed at gunpoint by two teenagers in my own backyard. My own garage had become a crime scene.
How To Get Robbed In Your Own Backyard
I suffered the indignity of having a gun shoved into my face while being relieved of a few paltry and essentially worthless material possessions – a booty worth less than a total of $50. After it was all “said and done,” I experienced a bruise to my ego that wouldn’t be fully felt until several days had since passed when family and friends would later blame me for being a victim of a violent crime.
It could have been much worse. I could have been shot or killed, which seems to be the case in Detroit armed robberies these days. To be totally honest, I had fully expected to be shot due to the fact that I had steadfastly and boldly refused to accompany my assailants at gunpoint to an ATM to retrieve more money and refused to chaperone them into my house so that they could present a threat to my family. Unless you have experienced a robbery for yourself, there is no true way you can truly appreciate the trespass I felt on that night. I made my peace with God and was resolved to be shot to death in my own backyard.
I am a father of four wonderful children. Although I have adequate life insurance, what kind of life would my kids have without me in their lives? I grew up without a father, who died when I was twelve years of age. My dad had adequate life insurance – I was able to go to college – but the void I experienced in my life has never been filled. I think of him at least once every day. I know what that experience feels like and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
I Procrastinated Away The Opportunity To Defend Myself
More than anything, I was maddened by the experience. Not only was I mad at the two thugs who robbed me, mad at the negligent parents of our city who have no clue of what their children do after dark, but I was even madder at myself. You see, by this point in time, the CCW laws in Michigan had been changed several years ago such that law-abiding citizens, such as myself, could have applied for and received the privilege of carrying a concealed pistol on their person.
Had I applied at that point in time circa 2001, I would have had a gun to defend myself in my time of need. The situational circumstances of my robbery were such that my awareness on that night would have given me enough time and space to react. One problem: I didn’t have a gun.
Never Assume That Bad Things Never Happen To Good People
Upon further analysis, my major problem prior to the robbery was that, despite the increasing number of violent crimes reported in the media, I had allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security. After all, I was at that time married, had four children, had a nice home in a solid middle-class neighborhood, did not hang out in bars and clubs, did not associate with people of questionable character, and was often in bed by 10 p.m.
At that point in my life, although I had experienced several petty property crimes at our residence such as several car break-ins, one burglary of our home, the theft of our built-in outdoor barbecue grill, and a couple of car-eggings, I thought that I was reasonably safe, given my low-key lifestyle. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nice neighborhoods, it seems, are open-air markets for criminals: deluded potential victims and a lack of firearms carried by area residents.
Instead of taking a clue from the daily crime reports, as detailed in the nightly newscasts, I had put off the idea of getting a CCW because I felt that “I didn’t need one today.” I let the everyday mundane tasks of going to work, attending family social events, getting haircuts, and shopping for clothes and other essential items, stand in the way of securing my most basic right: the right to be safe and secure in my own person. I had let the unimportant tasks and chores of day-to-day living keep me from doing that which was most important.
Getting Robbed Is Bad Enough – The Aftermath Is Worse
My experience was made even worse by the inconveniences I had to endure in the aftermath. For starters, I had to call a locksmith to replace all the locks in my home. I had to catch a city bus to a suburban car dealership to get a dummy key made to unlock the ignition on my car, so that it could be towed away and have all of its locks replaced, have new car keys programmed, and have the new keys cut.
Further, I had to replace all of my identification: driver’s license, work ID badge, work parking lot tag, AAA card, voter registration card, library card, report my credit cards as stolen, change my banking account information and get a new ATM card. I lost a few personal photos and now had the specter of being an identity theft victim. The $50 robbery actually cost me about another $1,000 in cash and lost time from work. I would have came out cheaper if I could have just written my assailants a $100 check for my wallet and keyring.
Big Secret: No One Cares If You Get Robbed, Raped, or Victimized
To add insult to injury, I had to explain to various people why I needed their assistance. Essentially, I had to tell them that I was a victim of an armed robbery in my own backyard. Invariably, everyone who I talked to found it within themselves to, in one way or another, blame me for the crime. Somehow, my victimization was my fault for not being aware of my environment in my backyard, not being inside when it was dark outside, and not having left Detroit for the suburbs several years ago.
Furthermore, I had to make several attempts to file a crime report with the respective detective for the case because he was on vacation and no one seemed to know when he would be back. I felt victimized all over again. Here I am – a crime victim – wanting to do whatever to help the police to find my assailants and they were making petty arguments between themselves over who gets to file the paperwork.
The Police Don’t Really Care About You Being Victimized
Never mind that the old neighborhood precinct was shuttered some time ago when the police department consolidated and that I had to travel a considerable distance to continually drop in and try to find the respective detective. On several occasions, I thought about not bothering to follow through with the process, however, I thought that my report might somehow make a difference for someone else. Maybe – just maybe – someone wouldn’t experience the trespass I experienced because my criminal report made someone in the police department do something about it: increased patrols of the area, interviews with known suspects, put together a criminal line-up, or something. Anything.
When I did finally catch up with the appropriate officer, he performed his role of investigator admirably but neither he nor his colleagues were around when I needed them most – at the robbery scene. I spent about an hour giving the detective all of the details of the crime I could recall and muster – several days after the occurrence, however small, in an effort that might reveal a pattern which might suggest known suspects to the officer. I guess I watch too much T.V.
Most crimes, if reported at all, are never solved. No one seems to care too much unless there is a dead body associated with the crime. Even then, it seems that unless the outrage from the community is great, nothing ever comes of it. Did the police ever solve the murder of that woman whose body was discovered downtown on the morning of the Super Bowl?
After I spilled my guts to the detective, I inquired about the process of receiving a CCW. His reaction was not pleasant. He didn’t do or say anything offensive, but he dismissed my desire to take more responsibility for more personal safety as “contributing to the problem.” Anyhow, he told me to go to police headquarters and that the info I sought could be found there.
First Step To Recovery Is Admitting That You Have A Problem
Many people, such as the person who I used to be, stand on the sidelines of the Second Amendment/gun ownership game until something adverse “happens” to them or to someone they know and value. Personally, I never had a “perceived” need for a handgun; I had previously viewed owning a gun as a novelty and perhaps a waste of hard earned cash. I had bought into all of the misleading anti-gun propaganda being spewed vociferously by various people and “special interests” with hidden agendas.
I never bothered to research the facts on gun ownership for myself. I left that task up to other people to educate me through the media via so-called factoid public service announcements, speeches from various governmental officials who enact “feel good” legislation that doesn’t work or conduct gun “buy-backs” that can’t be objectively evaluated for effectiveness, and barbershop talk with many people in my community who discuss their feelings about guns rather than the honest-to-God facts. My problem was that I allowed others to do my thinking for me on the subject of guns. I have since “in-sourced” that function back to the person I trust the most: me.
Everybody Knows Everything Until Something Happens
Well, something did “happen” to me – I was robbed in my own back yard while parking my car in my garage. Prior to this event, I did not see myself as a potential victim. I have always been able to “hold my own and handle my business” whenever I needed to do so throughout my life. The mere idea that someone would have the audacity to size me up as a victim never crossed my mind. A gun in the hands of violent predators, who have no qualms about using violence or the threat of violence to accomplish their evil purposes, changes the natural order of the food chain. I then knew that I needed to make a few changes.
Consequently, I then chose to get on the playing field. To my surprise, I have been warmly greeted by the pro gun rights side and have been consequently shunned by the “guns are evil” side. Making the decision to own a firearm makes you a gun nut in the eyes of many ignorant people.
The uninformed and unenlightened folk will treat you differently and are prone to making snide comments about you. They’ll either tell you that they don’t “need” a gun because of where they live or they’ll demonstrate some Kung Fu disarmament moves they learned from playing Tekken on their PlayStation2 video game console. They couldn’t possibly be more wrong. However, I’ll patiently wait until “something” happens to them and I’ll forget and forgive all of the ignorant things that they said and welcome them to the correct side.
A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With One Step – Gun Ownership
Anyhow, after filing the crime report at my not-so-local neighborhood police station, I headed downtown to acquire a “Ten Day Purchase Permit.” The Gun Licensing Department ran my background to see if I had any official governmental prohibitions – felonies – against owning a firearm. Of course, the check came back clean so I was issued the permit. I was now able to legally buy a gun within the next ten days. If I had failed to do so (buy a gun), I would have to come back downtown to repeat the process.
Next, I went to a local gun shop without haste and bought my first handgun. I didn’t let the ominous signs – warning customers against pulling out guns because they might get shot – or the fact that all of the gunshop employees were openly carrying their guns on their hips, deter me. I had no idea of what to buy, so I bought the same gun that my brother-in-law owned. “If it was good enough for him, it must be good enough for me,” I reasoned. I didn’t originally plan on spending several hundreds of dollars on my purchase, but my first and only thought was to buy the best gun I could “afford” even if a few utility bills didn’t get paid on time that month. My life and safety were worth a ding or two on my credit report.
In retrospect, the gun dealer didn’t offer me a lot of informed customer service. To his credit, maybe he assumed, that since I was a guy, that I knew what I wanted. In fact, I didn’t know much of anything. My ignorance was my fault. The dealer’s fault was not asking me enough questions to allow him to best assess my needs. However, his insensitivity did not stop him from also suggesting additional purchases: jacketed hollow points and an inside-the-waist (IWB) holster.
Pure luck, it seems, brought a gun into my possession that fit my hand perfectly. I couldn’t test fire it, as the shop didn’t have a range. So I had to “take it on faith” that I could handle shooting it. I must have filled out a ream of paperwork that day; it was like closing on a house. Anyhow, it’s funny now recounting the experience, but I was – in all truth – nervous while carrying my new encased gun from the back entrance of the shop to my car. I mused how ironic and funny it would be if I was to now be robbed of my new gun at the gun shop.
My next stop on my personal armament tour would be to venture back downtown to police headquarters to have my new firearm “safety inspected.” Before having my gun inspected, I had no idea of what tests they were going to perform to properly test my gun. After they safety inspected my gun, I am still ignorant to the process even though I witnessed it with my very own eyes. Bottom line: by the time I left police headquarters this time, my name, my personal info, and the fact that I owned a handgun were now entered into a database.
On my departure from police headquarters I picked up a copy of an application for a Concealed Pistol License (CPL/CCW) from the front desk. I opened the enveloped and read the application. It was rather lengthy but informative. I figured that I would peruse it more thoroughly in my car. Right before I left the building, I asked a near-by police officer for a place where I could go and shoot my new gun. He specified a range and told me how to get there.
I’ll Do Or Try Almost Anything Once – Even Shoot A Gun
So, my big adventure continued as I went to a local range to shoot a handgun for the very first time in my life. For the record, it is not recommended to visit a firing range without first taking a gun safety class or at the very least taking along a knowledgeable shooter with you. In fact, it is dangerous. I didn’t know any better. You have read this passage, so now you know. Ignorance kills. The Bible says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was lucky. Any number of things, all of them bad, could have happened that day. Fortunately for me, I checked my ego at the door and asked someone behind the counter for help. I got a very basic introduction but critical 20 second tutorial: Don’t load it until you are in the booth, Always keep the gun pointed downrange, Position your hands so that they are not in the path of the slide, and Unload the gun before you leave the booth.
I managed not to hurt myself or anyone else. However, if I had experienced a hangfire or a squib load in the booth, things may have turned out differently. I must say that I was rather proud of myself after shooting. Shooting was an enjoyable experience. It was a blast – pun intended. My adrenaline was pumping; I was high off of shooting a gun. I guess I had just found myself a new and exciting hobby.
As I was driving home from the range that afternoon, still mentally digesting the requirements for the CCW Permit, I had arrived at an intersection whereby the stoplight had just turned red. The car in front of mine had an advertisement on the back of it for a CCW Class. More than ever, I believe that when your mind is truly ready for something, the Lord will make it appear. This situation merely provided confirmation. I immediately called the displayed phone number and discovered that there was a class being held on the very next day. I RSVP’d and took the class on the very next day.
A Responsible Gunowner Needs Training
During the class, I learned a staggering amount of information about the safe usage, storage, loading, unloading, handling, purchasing, transporting, and maintenance of firearms. Before that day, I truly did not know how much I did not know about firearms.
I was introduced to the nomenclature of all of the firearm’s constituent parts on both a revolver and a semi-automatic, learned how the parts inter-operated to create a discharge, learned the legal aspects of self defense and lethal force, learned how the media and “certain powers that be” distort the truth and spread outright lies about handguns, learned the proper fundamentals of shooting a firearm, learned a few shooting stances, and learned how to become a more hardened target.
More than anything, I was a little disheartened by my instructor’s admonition that I was now not a gun-fighter. I was told in plain and in no uncertain language that I had now just met the state’s minimum requirements to qualify for a CPL/CCW. Thus, I was just given another clue that there was much more to learn about firearms and their role in personal protection. I still didn’t know what I didn’t know. I then dedicated my spare time to devouring any literature that I could buy or find on the Internet that had anything to do with firearms and their role in personal protection.
I discovered and studied the works of many authors: Colonel Jeff Cooper’s “The Art of the Rifle,” Massad Ayoob’s “In the Gravest Extreme,” David Kenik’s “Armed Response,” Gabriel Suarez’s “Tactical Pistol,” Andy Stafford’s “Surgical Speed Shooting,” Chris Byrd’s “Thank God I Had A Gun,” Marc Young’s “Street Safe,” and Chad Cantrell’s “No Bull Gun Fighting.” The gun section of my library is comprised of over 100 works that I have read, re-read, highlighted, and studied relentlessly.
I have practiced the concepts and techniques explained in those books faithfully. I have spent hundreds of hours at neighboring target ranges shooting thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammunition to perfect my shooting ability.
I have befriended numerous local firearms instructors and gunshop employees throughout the metro-Detroit area to glean and retain whatever knowledge they had to bestow. I joined gun themed Internet bulletin boards: Michigan Gun Owners, Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, AR-15, The High Road, Glock Talk, and many others.
Finally, I had reached a point where I felt that my learning curve had steepened to such a point that further research was delivering diminishing returns. Simply put, now the act of spending a day to read a new book “might” teach me something that I didn’t already know. I then turned to and joined the nation’s oldest firearms organization: The National Rifle Association (NRA).
Currently, I have NRA certifications to teach Personal Protection, Basic Pistol, and Home Firearm Safety. To qualify as a NRA certified instructor, a candidate must meet certain admission requirements, take a grueling 40 hour course, and pass six timed examinations with a score of 90% correct or better on each exam, and must meet the Training Counselor’s expectations of teaching ability. Not many people qualify. Also, I am a NRA Range Safety Officer (RSO). RSOs are certified to safely oversee shooting activities at a shooting range. Further still, I am an authorized Membership Recruiter for the NRA.
I have personally provided firearms training to people from all walks of life: ex-military, FBI agents, business owners, stay-at-home mothers, college students, real estate agents, business executives, bar bouncers, waitresses, club DJs, and etc.
I truly feel that I am doing what God has called me to do. He has placed me on this path and I have accepted his mission to do His will. I am hands-down the best firearm instructor in the metro-Detroit area. I stress safety, teach with enthusiasm in an entertaining manner, and never take any shortcuts.
I have met many people in this industry and some don’t measure up. Some of them don’t cover legal training. Some of them use airsoft pistols for the target qualification. Some have questionable certifications. Some of them commit felonies punishable by four years of prison time by selling certificates. Some of them, quite simply, can’t teach. Bad instructors not only do a disservice to their students but also to the community as a whole because their practices make the streets more dangerous.
I have a drawer full of testimonials that attest to my ability to clearly explain complicated concepts, to make newcomers to firearms comfortable with the experience, and to teach a person who has never shot a firearm before reliably hit the X on the target silhouette.
Firearms instruction is my passion and it shows. I am literally making a difference in my community – one class at a time. No one, in my opinion, becomes an instructor to get rich. Quite simply, if you have integrity and do things by the book it won’t happen. The scam artists turn up dead or become imprisoned.
I teach because I want to empower people to defend themselves in an increasingly violent time. Many folks are surprised to learn that the police do not have a legal responsibility to protect you. Their job is to uphold the genral peace and to investigate crimes. If you become a crime victim, you can’t hold them responsible. Very sobering thought.
I am a firearms instructor, a defender of freedom, and an empowering force in my community.
Activism Is The Next Logical Step
Once a person, for whatever reason, decides to exercise a right he eventually acquires a great appreciation for having that right. Accordingly, he will do whatever it takes to keep that right. Gun ownership and the right to keep and bear arms is continuously under assault by those persons in our society who want a disarmed populace. Nevermind that gun ownership was granted to citizens of our fine nation as a means to prevent tyranny and to preserve liberty, I am most concerned with having the ability to defend my life and those that I love. After all, in case after case, the courts have proclaimed that the police do not have a legal responsibility to protect us.
It would only be too easy to let others fight for my rights. I could merely write a check and let various gun rights organizations, such as the NRA, The Second Amendment Foundation, and the Citizens Committe RKBA, do my fighting for me. The future of gun ownership depends on us – you and me.
Many people could care less about the Second Amendment until they need a gun. If gun ownership is made illegal, how can you get one in your time of need? There are currently over 20,000 gun laws on the books and more are being drafted with the purpose of being enacted into law with each passing day. We don’t need more laws; we need enforcement of the ones already on the books.
We need citizens like you to exercise your right: get a permit to carry, go hunting, teach your family and friends how to shoot, engage in hunting sports, and teach people you know the truth about guns.
Everything You Have Been Told About Guns Is Probably Wrong
Until you remove emotions and uneducated opinions about guns from the public discourse, you may believe the lies that are being told to you. For example, the biggest lie ever told is that guns cause violence and crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. A firearm is a tool – nothing more – nothing less. It is far more important to discuss how a tool is used by a particular person, rather than to debate whether an inanimate object is bad. Is a ball-point pen evil? How about a cane?
While a gun has several obvious purposes that most people can readily enumerate, other tools – designed for other legitimate tasks – in the wrong hands can create as much mayhem. A person could misuse the following items and cause severe bodily harm or death to another: a baseball bat, a pair of scissors, a ball-peen hammer, a nail gun, a golf club, an automobile, a steak knife, an awl, an ice pick, a tire-iron, a crowbar, an axe, a garbage can lid, a fireplace poker, a jump-rope, a bowling trophy, a text book, a container of gasoline, rat poison, a garden rake, or a bottle of battery acid.
A gun placed on a kitchen countertop can not harm anyone all by itself. It requires assistance – pressure on its trigger – to be used, whether those purposes are for good or bad. No one wants to debate the folly of banning matches whenever an arsonist starts a “car-becue” on Angel’s Night. Likewise, no one wants to ban the usage of water every time a young and unattended child falls into a back yard swimming pool. Even more outrageous is the idea than gun manufacturers should be sued for violence committed by criminals. Has anyone ever sued the Ford Motor Company because a drunk driver mowed down a schoolyard full of children?
Guns Don’t Kill People – People Kill People
Some people want you to “think” that guns somehow turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into homicidal sociopaths. The truth of the matter is that if a specific person with a gun is crazy, that same person without a gun is still just as nuts. University of Maryland professor and gun control researcher, Dr. John R. Lott, has extensively studied the supposed guns and crime relationship – most notably in his critically acclaimed tome “More Guns – Less Crime.” The conclusion of his work is abundantly clear – the absence of guns creates more crime. Reversely stated, more guns in a community decreases crime.
An unarmed populace creates a hazard-free working environment for violent criminals. Robbing, raping, and pillaging is a dangerous career choice. Everytime a criminal plies his trade, he risks at least an injury and perhaps death. Criminals, if given a choice, will choose an easy target rather than get into a life-or-death battle with an armed citizen.
Correspondingly, if many people in a community are armed with a gun, crime plummets due to the fact that the criminal is reluctant to assault someone “that may be packing.” Thus, the unarmed people in the community are, as a direct result of the armed people in the community, shielded from crime. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw an advocate for gun control post a sign in his home’s front yard that stated, “We are unarmed! We hate guns!” File that event under something you’ll never see.
By definition, a criminal is a person who breaks the law. Thus, if it was ever possible to outlaw guns, only the criminals would have guns. You don’t expect a criminal to disarm himself, do you? Of course not! Only law-abiding citizens would consider such a thing. What result would expect in a city full of law-abiding and unarmed citizens and a sizeable quantity of armed felons? This type of environment would create an “open season” state of lawlessness among the criminals. The rapists, jackers, and killers could ply their trade with impunity. This result has been observed with predictable results in our country.
Time and time again, the cities with the highest rates of crime are in those cities with the most strict gun control laws – legal and de facto. To name a few – NYC, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Detroit – are among our nation’s worst when it comes to gun control and violent crime. These cities happen to also be where large populations of minorities live. It is no mistake – gun control has racist roots that trace back into time when newly freed slaves were barred from owning guns to prevent any “score settling” with their former masters.
Stop being a pawn: Buy a gun, exercise your right to self-defense, and help spread the truth about guns.