TACTICAL TIPS AND GUN MYTHS These are my opinions, so take them for what they are worth to you. I assume no responsibility for anything. Many of the items listed on this page apply specifically to the state of Tennessee or to the city of Memphis, and do not relate to other locations. Also, nothing on this page is intended as legal advice. It is provided merely for informational purposes only and nothing else. Let me go ahead and preface this entire page by saying, if you're one of those people who aleady knows everything about guns and refuses to consider that anyone else might possibly know more about the subject than you, you might as well not read anything on this page, because you're going to disagree with many things here. More power to you, and have fun reading some other web pages.






Don't get too caught up with head shots in matches. In most competition, shots anywhere in the head count, but in real life, there are incidents that prove head shots that don't hit the "ocular window" usually don't have the desired effect. Also, someone once pointed out to me that in most shooting sports, one head shot on the edge of the head counts just as good as six to center of the head.

Some people think head shots are the panacea to the handgun's relatively bad "stopping power," but if they are not placed correctly, they are basically worthless. Also, shooting a person in the head will not make the head "explode" or "tear the head clean off" or any of the other garbage you hear. One good example: Head shot story

One commonly used example: the 1986 Miami incident. Both assailants had shots in the head, including buck-shot from a shotgun, that did not stop the attack. What finally stopped the attack was multiple shotgun hits combined with six final rounds from a revolver at close range.

NEW NOTE
I have recently been told (indirectly) that I am wrong about the Miami Incident, and that since I am not a cop, I don't have the capacity to understand the situation, so, I repeat my challenge that is at the bottom of this page. Please provide me with reliable evidence that indicates the assailants gave up instantly after being shot. Once you do this, I will change what I have here, and give you credit for it.



Practice shooting on the move, shooting at moving targets, and shooting at moving targets while on the move as much as possible. Real life attacks generally involve movement on the part of all parties involved, and generally involve much less shooting from cover as we would like to believe or hope for. Most real life attacks happen so close and so suddenly that if you had enough time to wait to run ten or fifteen yards to cover, you might not need to shoot anyone in the first place. Note that I am not saying that using cover is an unneeded skill, it's just that most real life encounters don't involve using cover to the same degree most matches do.

One of the reasons we seem to forget this, in my opinion, is the advent of practical shooting sports. In almost all sports of this type, most of the stages are long, protracted gun battles where the hero faces a barrage of targets and multiple shooting and reloading positions. It seems, because of this, we tend to forget the "average" real gunfight only involves a few shots and the participants are usually a few steps away from each other. If a robber wants you to give him your wallet, he doesn't want you to throw it to him across the parking lot, he wants you to hand it to him. A rapist isn't going to hail the victim from across the parking lot. A drunk maniac trying to cut somebody up for fun isn't going to do that from thirty feet away.

This means the attacker is going to be within arms reach of you when he asks for whatever he wants. If someone is trying to kill you from three feet away, it seems likely you would have only a few fleeting moments to solve the problem, rather than plenty of time to locate and attain cover while assessing the situation.



Don't always practice single or double shots. No matter what the caliber, even if it's this week's magical choice in all the gun rags, there is no magic number of shots that is guaranteed to stop an attacker. If you have to shoot someone, you may have to, or more correctly, probably will have to shoot the person more than once. Vary the number of rounds you shoot on targets. When practicing, many people are in the habit of firing two shots then stopping to admire their handiwork. In real life, that might get you killed.



Don't get into a habit of doing anything in a match that you wouldn't personally do in real life. It is commonly understood that if you start doing one thing over and over a certain way, that is the way you will do it under stress. Some of the things to watch are: Reloads, Use of cover, Engaging multiple targets from cover without exposing yourself to more than one threat, Shooting on the move, Not making up bad hits, Unloading the moment you fire the last shot.



Don't get caught up in the equipment race. Any gun you have with you in a fight is infinitely better than the $3000 fully tricked out .45 race gun at home in the gun safe. As long as you have a quality gun of reasonable caliber, equipment is not normally be the most important aspect of a fight.

Also, along the same lines, don't get caught up in the caliber race. All handguns have terrible "stopping" power, even the mighty .45. You can read all the reports and statistics you want, but there is no guarantee of an instant stop. If you shoot someone and that person doesn't stop, it doesn't matter what the statistics say. Carry the most efficient caliber you can shoot well, and never rely on one shot.



Opinions vary on this, but be careful when shooting matches, in regards to speed. As a new shooter, strive for accuracy first. Speed will come, and it will come with accuracy. I see too many people that try to be fast from the first, but drop a lot of points. That's ok in a match, but in a real-life fight, not only does missing do nothing to solve your problem, it endangers other people.



When practicing, vary your routines. In particular, don't practice all bullseye style shooting. Placing all your shots into one small hole looks cool and really strokes the ego, but in a real fight, you don't have that kind of time. Whenever possible, your practice routines should include shooting at different distances, presentation from the holster, strong hand only and weak hand only shooting, shooting on the move, shooting from cover, multiple targets, shooting at different angles, multiple targets in different positions, moving targets, and anything else you can think of. Another thing that people don't seem to realize is in a real-life fight, all of your targets probably won't simply stand in a neatly aligned array and wait to be shot like they do in a shooting match.

CAVEAT
There is nothing wrong with bullseye or any other style of shooting. In fact, bullseye teaches great trigger control and sight alignment techniques. My only point here is don't dwell on any one particular type or style of shooting. For a related article, click here.:


Practice the way you carry and with the gun YOU carry. If you carry a gun in your pocket, actually practice drawing the gun from your pocket. If you carry a small pocket gun, practice with that gun. It doesn't matter how well you can hit fifty yard targets with a five pound, scoped, target-sighted .22 if you are attacked on the street by adversaries at three yards and all you have with you is a five-shot 642 Airweight in your pocket.




GUN/GUNFIGHT MYTHS

As an instructor, especially when teaching at a range that sells guns, people usually make the wrong assumption about why you tell them certain things, so let me preface this section by saying: I do not sell guns; I am not trying to sell you a gun; I make no money whatsoever from anyone who sells guns. Whether you carry a $50 Saturday night POS or a $3000 fully tricked out race gun does not affect my safety (or my pocketbook) one bit. I am not trying to scare you into carrying your gun all the time. Whether you carry your gun or leave it at home does not affect my personal safety one bit. I have never told anyone they must carry a gun everywhere or that they must carry an expensive high dollar gun. From a personal standpoint, I couldn't care less. This is provided for your personal benefit, so take it or leave it, believe it or don't. I really don't care.

There is an EXTREMELY GROTESQUE amount of misinformation out there about guns. As an person who actually chooses to base opinions on real, verifiable information, it's almost humorous things I hear people say, taken as absolute fact, because they saw it in a movie, a cop told them, they read it in a magazine, or that's what they've always heard, and they believe it even when real physical evidence indicates otherwise. Almost everything you hear is incorrect. It's so bad that basically, everything you hear about guns is wrong, but then every now and then, you hear something that is actually right. Even most regular shooters have a great misunderstanding of firearms and gunfights.

Just for reference, everything that follows is my rebuttal to things I have actually heard people say, even the ones that seem patently ridiculous.



MYTH:
It's useless to try to resist. If the bad guy already has a gun out, you can't do anything.

TRUTH:
This happens all the time, so it can be done.

All humans have a reaction time. A bad guy cannot just simply see you move and magically know you're going for a gun and shoot you. He must first go through a series of thoughts.

He has to observe what you are doing. It's likely he said, "Give me your wallet," or something simlar. He expects you to have to move to get whatever he said he wanted. He won't suddenly know you're not giving him whatever he asked for until he sees the gun.

At that point, he has to orient himself to the fact he sees a gun and not a wallet. In other words, after he "sees" the gun, he has to realize it's a gun.

Now he has to decide what to do. He doesn't already have it in his mind to shoot you. Otherwise, he would have already shot you. He didn't already know you had a gun or he would have either shot you or said, "Don't reach for your gun" instead of "Give me your wallet." Regardless of what his final intentions were, he is not expecting to have to shoot you at this point, so he is not ready to shoot you yet. He has to decide to do it.

Once all this has happened, he has to act. This is the point where he has to actually pull the trigger on the gun, or whatever other action he has decided to pursue.

The attacker has to go through all these steps before he can do anything. All this takes time and if you're proficient enough, it takes too much time. Most of the time, you are facing someone who is on drugs, alcohol, or both, which slows the reaction time down even further.

It's been argued by some people that in a force-on-force class, using simunitions or air-soft guns, an assailant can shoot you before you can draw your gun and shoot him, or at best, it's a tie. While I think force-on-force is a great way to train, remember the person you are shooting against in the class knows ahead of time you have a gun and knows ahead of time you are going to reach for it, so as soon as you move, he knows you're reaching for your gun. Bad guys on the street usually don't have this advantage.

I personally know quite a few people who have defended themselves against attackers on the street, so I know it can be done. I am not saying a good guy will always be victorious in a fight, I am simply saying you have a few things working in your favor if you must defend yourself.



MYTH:
Just do everything the attacker says and you won't be hurt.

TRUTH:
First, what type of social contract is "Do what I want and I won't hurt you?" Why would you trust someone like that? If an armed criminal points a gun at you, you have already been assaulted. If you allow him to do whatever he wants to you, you are now being assaulted in a different and additional way. According to many criminal psychologists, armed robbery relates to getting money like rape relates to having sex. In other words, rapists don't rape to get sex. They rape to get the feeling of power. Armed robbery is the same thing. You are being robbed so the guy can get the feeling of power. Most people don't carry much cash on them, and criminals could get more money by selling items stolen from your garage.

Second, to directly address the myth, (many times) it's is untrue anyway. Many victims are hurt after the initial robbery is over, and if you "do everything he tells you" you are putting the power in his hands and allowing him to make the decisions about your life. People that tell to "do everything he says" or to say things like "please don't hurt me, I'll do whatever you say" are forgetting that when you are not interacting with a normal, rational person or a person that values your life. Normal, rational people don't commit violent crimes. You cannot depend on a criminal not hurting you just because he said he wouldn't. You cannot assume that because you wouldn't hurt someone that the criminal wouldn't. You must remember, by definition, criminals don't think like normal rational people, so you are starting off behind the curve by thinking that way.



MYTH:
Any gun is acceptable to carry for personal protection.

TRUTH:
Only guns of adequate caliber and reliability should be considered for self-defense, in my opinion. Personally, I would never consider carrying a cheaply made, POS low quality gun to defend my life, however, if you are willing to do that, more power to you. It's your life, not mine. Just remember that if you have to fire your gun in a real confrontation, you are literally fighting for your life.

Small calibers are typically ineffective or not effective quickly enough. Handguns are not as powerful as people think they are. If you carry an ineffective caliber, you decrease the chances of stopping an attacker quickly enough. Yes, sometimes an ineffective caliber immediately stops an attack, but you can't rely on that, and while a small caliber gun may be better than no gun, but that doesn't mean a small caliber is a good choice. "Better than nothing" and "good" are not the same thing.

Small caliber guns are also, typically, low capacity guns. Consider that it is becoming more common to be attacked by multiple assailants and consider facing three attackers with a five-shot gun. You're fine if the first shot stops each attacker, but what happens if it doesn't? Now you are almost out of ammo and you still have viable threats. Now what?

I once had a student in a class tell me she carried a one-shot .22 derringer in her pocket. She called it her "better than nothing gun." I asked what she would do if she was involved in an incident where one shot didn't stop the attacker or in an incident where she faced two attackers. She said she stayed but of places where that would happen. I asked how she could know where that could happen; how could she know for a fact she could avoid two attackers; how could there just avoid one attacker? How can you know whether one shot will stop the attack? She didn't have an answer other than, "Well, I just do." Yeah, whatever.

I also know someone who touts a "One shot, one kill" attitude. That's fine, but specifically killing someone is not what you're trying to do (see later article on this page) and, under normal circumstances, you cannot guarantee "one shot, one kill" anyway.

A very good example of this is South Carolina State Trooper Mark Coates. Trooper Coates shot Richard Blackburn in the chest five times with a .357 magnum and, after being shot, Blackburn returned fire with a .22 derringer, firing long-rifle rounds, striking the trooper once near the shoulder and then, a few seconds later, once in the chest, breaking a rib, then severing the aorta. The suspect, despite being shot five times in the chest with a .357 magnum, survived and is now serving a life sentence in prison. Coates story:

There are cheap crappy guns that may not fire or may break after being fired a few times. At a range that I'm affiliated with, we have a gun that was $300, bought brand new. A student came in to the range and fired eight shots out of it. This was a brand new gun, never fired before. On the eighth shot, the slide cracked and (literally) fell off the gun and hit the floor. We also have a revolver that was $200, also brand new, that simply locked up after fourteen shots. No matter how hard you pull, the trigger will not move and the cylinder will not rotate.

A couple of years ago, a student left a gun at a range where I was teaching. She wanted to trade it, but no gun shops would take it as a trade and she was unable to find anyone who wanted to buy it. One night a few weeks later, I decided I wanted to shoot it, so I opened a box of ammo for it. I placed a target at seven yards and proceeded to try to shoot at it.

Due to various problems, it took several minutes before I could get the gun to fire the first shot. It had a six round magazine, but I was only able to fire four shots from it because it would not cycle if the magazine had five or six rounds loaded. I fired these shots slowly and deliberately, at a target that was at only seven yards. I reloaded and fired four more shots. I brought the target in and I could find a hit anywhere on the paper. I wondered if it was possible that the sights were off that much, so I brought the target to three yards, and fired four more rounds. At three yards, the group was about two feet off where I was aiming. I was aiming at the upper chest and hitting up above top edge of the head.

Also, you should carry a well designed gun. For example, if you have a gun that has a safety you can barely work when shooting at the range, what makes you think you will be able to work it while under a life-threatening attack? That was one of the other problems with this gun. I had to use a small screwdriver to disengage the safety.

I once had a friend ask me to look at the gun she carried to see what I thought about it. First, it took her several minutes to remember where it was hidden in her car. Second, after looking at it, it had no ammo in the magazine, but she didn't know that until I cleared the gun and showed her the magazine. The ammo was in the original, still sealed factory box in the trunk. Third, the safety would not disengage. Had she ever needed it to save her life, she would be dead now. As a side note, she argued with me because I told her that her choice was probably the worst choice she could make because of brand and caliber. The very next day in the local newspaper, there was an article by a well-known gun writer that mentioned the exact same gun she had shown me, specifically by brand, model, and caliber, as being the worst possible choice of all the choices for self defense. She saw the article and a few days later told me that apparently I was right in the first place because she had seen the article, and she had taken it to several gunshops to have the safety repaired and everywhere she took it told her the same thing, and that they would not work on it because it was too much of a POS.

Do I think everyone who carries a gun should carry a $3000 fully tricked out .45? No, of course not, but I do think what you carry should be, at the very least, of reasonable caliber and quality. In my opinion, a gun that may not work or that is as inaccurate as that one, is not of reasonable quality.

I realize that everyone can't afford to spend six or eight hundred dollars for a gun, but the problem comes in when people refuse to realize this: if you have to draw your gun in true self defense, you are fighting for your life. Something so horrendous has happened that your only choice of action is to possibly kill or permanently cripple another human. If your gun doesn't work, you might be killed or crippled. Make no mistake about it; whether you live or die may rest in the outcome of this fight. Do you really want to rely on the cheapest piece of crap you found at the gun store?

The other issue I have with it is, people will spend plenty of money on other items, but when it comes to something important, something they may have to use to stay alive, to continue breathing, they want to buy the cheapest POS they can find at the gun shop, with absolutely no thought as to why they are buying the item, and the complete refusal to acknowledge that they "get what they pay for." Caveat emptor, a $150 gun is $150 for a reason.

If you must buy a cheap gun, there are a few inexpensive guns that are reasonably reliable. Do some comparison shopping and ask a few people that shoot regularly to get opinions about different guns. When I say "people that shoot regularly" I do not mean gun shop sales people. Most gun shop sales people tell you whatever they think you want to hear that will get to buy a gun, and many, probably most, gun shop sales people are not regular shooters.

A friend who has been in several gunfights says, "People worry about a gun small enough to conceal. When it comes to carrying a gun concealed, no gun is too small. Unfortunately, the thing people don't realize is, when it comes to fighting for your life, no gun is too big. When you're actually in a fight for your life, concealability is irrelevant."

My philosophy is, a .22 may be "better than nothing," but if I am ever involved in a fight where the outcome determines whether I live or die, I want I have something with me that's a whole lot better than "better than nothing." Don't worry about aesthetics or comfort. Worry about staying alive. It makes the decisions much easier.



MYTH:
A gun with no safety is dangerous.
or
A double action only gun is safer than a double action gun.

TRUTH:
Every gun is dangerous. It's just a matter of who is in danger. An idiot can be dangerous with any type of gun. A gun with a safety can be fired if the safety is disengaged. A safety does not remove the human factor. Any gun that can be fired can be fired negligently, regardless of whether it has a safety. It isn't the gun. It's the user. Never rely on the safety to make the gun safe. Learn how to use it properly, then use it properly, and always remember there is a difference between the two. Knowing how to do something and actually doing it are not the same thing.



MYTH:
You should carry a gun with no round chambered. Otherwise it might go off.

TRUTH:
Modern, well made, quality guns have various safety systems. Modern, well made, quality guns will not just "go off." If you carry the gun correctly (IE: in a properly designed holster) nothing can get into the trigger guard or touch the trigger.



MYTH:
But in Israel, they...

TRUTH:
Good for them. You're not in Israel. How in the name of all that's holy do you think that's relevant to anything in the United States?



MYTH:
I wouldn't want to get shot with a .22, or .25, or whatever, (which proves it's a good choice for self-defense).

TRUTH:
You're absolutely right. I don't want to be shot by a .22. I also don't want to be shot by a pellet gun or a slingshot, but that doesn't mean I would choose either of those as a primary option for self defense. Just because you "don't want to get shot" by something in no way has anything to do with whether it is effective for personal defense. The idea that you don't want to be shot by a .22, therefore it makes a great choice for personal defense, is a non-sequitur; the second part of the sentence is an illogical conclusion based on the information provided in the first part. One has nothing to do with the other. When you shoot another person in self defense, you are not trying you are not trying to "hurt him" or "make him mad" or "not do him any good." You are trying quickly and effectively stop that person from hurting you, and just because you "don't want to get shot" by a certain caliber, does not mean it's effective for that.



MYTH:
Bullets explode organs when they hit.

TRUTH:
Handgun bullets make holes. Making a hole in, or even heavily damaging an organ is not the same as "exploding" the organ. People like to compare rifle bullets to handguns bullets, and compare self defense to shooting a deer with a rifle. The problem is, they fail to realize that, under normal circumstances, handgun bullets have significantly less velocity and muzzle enegery than rifle bullets. All else being equal, a handgun bullet traveling 1000 FPS with 400 foot pounds of muzzle energy will simply create much less damage than a rifle bullet traveling 2500 FPS with 1800 foot pounds of muzzle engery.



MYTH:
Any size bullet will kill a man.
or
.22 is the caliber of choice for assassins.
or
There are a lot of people that have been killed by a .22.
or
No corpse ever got up and asked what caliber it was killed with.
or
I command all you people who were killed with a 9 millimeter to rise up because you were killed with an ineffective caliber!

TRUTH:
Ok, these are true, or can be true, with the exception of the last one. (That is someone trying to prove a point by saying that a lot of people have been killed by a 9 millimeter bullet, therefore 9mm is a good defensive caliber). The problem with these statements is, when you shoot someone in self-defense, you are not specifically trying to kill them. You are trying to stop them from attacking you, and those two things are not specifically interchangeable. If you shoot someone and the attack stops, whether the person lives or dies is irrelevant to the context of self defense, and getting shot, even multiple times, does not always kill a person.

If you are attacked by a man with a gun and you shoot him, but before he falls to the ground, he fires a shot that hits you and you die, then, 45 seconds later, he dies, it's irrelevant that he died, because you've been dead for 45 seconds.

If you fire a shot that hits him in the chest and he immediately falls to the ground, but then a few minutes later, medics show up and revive him, then take him off to the hospital, and after a few days or weeks of recovery, he goes to jail and lives for 30 more years, or if you fire a shot at him and he turns around and runs away, within the context of self defense, the fact that he didn't die is irrelevant to you, because the attack stopped and you didn't get hurt.

Within the context of self defense, this is the difference between stopping the attack and killing someone. Sometimes the attacker dies and sometimes he doesn't. What's important is that you stopped the attack quickly before the attacker had a chance to hurt or kill you, not whether he lived or died. If your sole objective in shooting someone is to "make that person die," that is murder, and not self defense. There are also people who believe to stop an attacker, you must kill him. This is a misunderstanding. Many people shot by a handgun do not die. Again, whether the attacker lives or dies is irrelevant. What matters is that you stopped the attack and stayed alive.

There are many people who believe that if you don't kill the attacker, you haven't done your job or fulfilled your duty. This is unfortunate, because you have no duty to kill people. Your duty is to yourself; to survive; to stop the attack before you are hurt or killed; to go home afterwards to your family. Whether the attacker lives or dies is unrelated to that. Too often, people get the two confused, and focus on making the person die instead of stopping the attack. The only thing you should worry about is that you are not hurt or killed, not whether your attacker lived or died.

You will also often hear people say that if you kill the attacker, it's just one more scumbag you've kept off the streets and out of a term in prison at the tax-payers expense. Again, you don't inherit the duty of "keeping scumbags off the street" just because you get a gun permit. The permit allows you carry a gun for personal defense, not so you can go about the city keeping "scumbags off the streets."

In short, lethality and effectiveness are not interchangeable terms in respect to self-defense, and neither are immediately incapacitate and kill. The fact that a person dies does not, in and of itself, mean the attack was stopped quickly enough.



MYTH:
Putting a couple of good hits to the upper center chest guarantees a quick stop.

TRUTH:
Nope, sorry, it does not. The human body can often take incredible amounts of damage and continue to function. There are all sorts of incidents where people take multiple hits or are hurt badly and continue fighting. I once saw a man jump out of a moving ambulance, get hit by the police car that was following it, then get up and run off, and even after all that, it took three or four police officers to wrestle him to the ground. Addtionally, contrary to popular belief, there are a variety of reasons this type of thing can happen besides drugs in the system.



MYTH:
Handguns are very powerful and/or most people shot with a handgun die.

TRUTH:
Actually, it's the opposite. Most handguns are not "extremely powerful" and most people shot with a handgun don't die. As a base example, in Memphis, several thousand people are shot each year, but only a few hundred die. According to a Harvard study, about 30,000 people die each year from gunshot wounds, but about 65,000 suffer gunshot wounds but do not die. However, of the 30,000 that died, an undisclosed number of those, about half, according to at least one source, are self-inflicted suicides, and can be discounted within the context of this particular myth. I HAD A LINK HERE TO THE STUDY BUT IS NO LONGER VALID. GOOGLE "HARVARD STUDY SUICIDE" FOR INFORMATION



MYTH:
Well, when an assailant is shot by a trained permit holder, the chances of him dying are dramatically increased.

TRUTH:
I haven't seen any evidence that proves this, and no one I've heard say it can give any real evidence of it either. I believe this myth stems from the myth that a trained permit holder will always put two shots into the upper chest, combined with the myth that a couple of shots in the upper chest guarantees death. There are several problems with this. One, there is no guarantee a trained permit holder will always have perfect accuracy, and even if it does happen, there is no guarantee that a couple of chest shots will always cause death. Additionally, as other articles on this page have stated, making the person cease to live is not the goal. Stopping the person is infinitely more important.



MYTH:
I want a .40 caliber instead of a 9 millimeter because I want guaranteed kill if I have to shoot someone.

TRUTH:
While the .40 caliber is generally considered more effective than a 9 millimeter (and sometimes not, it depends on whose numbers you look at), no handgun can guarantee a kill, plus, killing a person is not what you are trying to accomplish. See other articles on this page.



MYTH:
If you hear the shot, you're not dead because the bullet travels faster than the sound.

TRUTH:
As an absolute, that is incorrect because it depends on a couple of things. One, there is an assumption that you will die and/or lose your faculties the instant the bullet hits you before the sound of the shot reaches you, and that doesn't always happen, and in fact, doesn't usually happen, especially with handgun bullets. Two, not all bullets are super-sonic, especially handgun bullets. The speed of sound is approximately 340 meters or 1116 feet per second (it can vary slightly, there are several variables involved). Many bullets, especially handgun bullets, travel much slower than that, so they will not reach you before the sound does.



OPINION:
I'm not going to change my clothing choices or lifestyle to accommodate carrying a gun.

RELATED MYTH:
You must wear a huge coat, vest, or very large overshirt to conceal a handgun.

TRUTH:
More power to you. I honestly don't care what choices you make, however, consider this: What you are saying is, your clothes are more important to you than staying alive. If you are killed in some encounter because you didn't bring a gun because it was too inconvenient, I have no sympathy for you.

An answer to the myth part is, you don't always have to change your clothing choices to carry a gun. There is a misconception that handguns are extremely difficult to conceal. I hear people say this all the time. I know lots of people that carry full sized handguns that do not wear coats or vests to conceal them. Once again, someone who says you can't conceal a handgun is yet another example of a person who opens his mouth when he doesn't know what he's talking about.



MYTH:
But you wear a vest!

TRUTH:
Yeah, so what? That just happens to be the choice I made. I actually started wearing a vest for other reasons before I started carrying a gun, so it's not directly related, plus, just because it's what I do doesn't mean it's what everyone else has to do.



MYTH:
It's too much trouble to go through all the steps required to get a permit.

TRUTH:
That's a personal decision that each person has to make for himself. Is it really too much trouble to be inconvenienced by having to take a class and fill out some paperwork in order to get something that might play a part in saving your life one day? If so, more power to you.



MYTH:
I don't believe I should be required to have a permit to carry a gun. The second amendment gives me that right.

TRUTH:
Maybe it does, however if you carry a gun in Tennessee or any state where a permit is required without said permit, you risk being arrested and incarcerated. If that is a risk you are willing to take, more power to you. Yes, I would love to see the day where any law-abiding citizen can carry a gun without a permit, but until that day comes, I choose to do it in accordance with the laws where I live. See this link for another opinion on this.



MYTH:
I'm not going to go through a class because I already know everything I need to know.

TRUTH:
I can't speak for any specific person, but most people know very little about what they actually need to know to carry a gun for self defense. Almost without exception, the person that comes to a class that already knows everything is the person that does the worst in the class, and additionally, most people don't know as much as they think they do.

In a recent (March, 2009) class I was teaching, during a break, I heard a man telling his wife "Don't listen to what they said about how to shoot. I've been shooting all my life and I know what I'm doing. Just do what I tell you." He wouldn't listen to us, she did. After the shooting test was over, I took notice of his target. He scored 70, she scored 100, and that's pretty typical of people like that. Note: if you score 70 on the shooting test required by the state of Tennessee, you're not a very good shooter. The Tennessee shooting requirements are ridiculously easy, and if you claim to be a good shooter or that you already know what you are doing and you only score a 70, you should feel humiliated. The problem is, people like that never have a clue about how clueless they really are.



MYTH:
I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.

TRUTH:
When someone says this, they mean that it's better to take a chance on getting caught with a gun somewhere you aren't supposed to have it just in case you need it, as opposed to needing a gun but not having it, or they mean that it's better to be involved in a gunfight and have to defend yourself later in court than die because you didn't have or use a gun when you needed it. While there is a great deal of truth part of the concept, you should also consider the consequences of getting caught with a gun somewhere you weren't supposed to have it, or the possible consequences of using the gun when you aren't sure you are justified. I am in no way suggesting where you should or shouldn't carry a gun. This is a choice you must make for yourself, and as a matter of record, I can only recommend that you always obey the law.



MYTH:
Yeah sure, Memphis is a violent city/has a high crime rate, but every big city is violent/has a high crime rate.

TRUTH:
Technically, this separate elements of this one are true, but as a whole, it is misleading. The Memphis metro area has been rated in the top three in the county in per capita violent crime many times, and many times it has been in the number one spot. Having a high crime rate like other big citites, and being consistently rated one of the top few in the country for violent crime are two completely different concepts.



MYTH:
But I read somewhere that 60-70 percent of all violent crime in Memphis is black-on-black.

TRUTH:
I've read that too, and I've never verified it, but Memphis has about a 63 percent black population, so if it is actually true, that's how it should be. It doesn't necessarily mean that if you aren't black you have less to worry about.



MYTH:
According to reports, police fatalities have been dropping over the last couple of decades. Crime must be going down.

TRUTH:
Many people attribute that to the fact that more police officers wear body armor now than a couple of decades ago, or to training issues that I'm not going to go into here, and not to falling crime rates.



MYTH:
Can I shoot someone if "X" happens?

TRUTH:
There's no way anyone can give a comprehensive list of all the possible scenarios you might encounter, so just remember this: As a general rule, if you have to ask "Can I shoot this person?" or "Can I get away with this?" you're probably in trouble. In contrast, if you can say, "I have to shoot this person right now, or I will be killed or crippled," you're probably ok.



MYTH:
Cliches, too numerous to mention all of them:

TRUTH:
Don't get caught up on cliches. A cliche may sound good, but many times they have no or very little basis in fact, or the fact they are based on is irrelevant to self-defense. I have already mentioned several on this page, such as:

"There are a lot of people that have been killed by a .22" This is a cliche, because, as stated before, when you shoot someone in self-defense, you are not specifically trying to kill the person. You are trying to stop him quickly, and those two things are not always necessarily the same thing.



MYTH:
Hollow point bullets are illegal.

TRUTH:
Hollow points are illegal for some applications in New Jersey, but they aren't illegal anywhere else in the U.S. that I know of. At the very least, they are legal in the majority of the U.S. Some people confuse the fact that hollow point bullets are prohibited by the Declaration III of the Hague Conventions of 1899 (not to be confused with the Geneva Convention of 1949 as most people believe), and mistakenly think that means hollow point bullets are illegal everywhere, but The Hague Conventions are a set of international treaties governing the laws of international warfare and do not legislate laws for the general populace of individual countries.



MYTH:
Black Talon ammo is illegal.
or
Black Talon ammo was subject to a government recall.

TRUTH:
Black Talon ammo was voluntarily withdrawn by Winchester because of public misperceptions and in response to a pending lawsuit however, Black Talons are not, nor have they ever been illegal, except for NJ as noted in the preceding paragraph. It should be noted that Winchester still produces another type of ammo that is widely available most places that sell ammo that is essentially the same thing, just not painted black.



MYTH:
A 9 millimeter is more powerful than a .38.

TRUTH:
There is nothing magic about a 9 millimeter cartridge that makes it more powerful than a .38 cartridge. Both are about the same bullet size and weight and have similar power bases, with variations depending on the specific cartridge specifications and barrel length of the particular gun from which it is fired, and which particular set of numbers you choose to believe, and, quite frankly, "powerful" is a subjective term. Not everyone, even the so-called experts, agree on exactly what it means, so to say that a 9 millimeter is more powerful than a .38 is only true when comparing some cartridges. The advantage of the 9mm over the .38 is; more rounds. The typical 9mm holds at least nine or ten rounds, and some hold as many as sixteen or eighteen, compared to the typical five or six that most revolvers hold, the typical 9mm semi-auto is smaller and/or thinner than the typical revolver, and reloads for a semi-auto (using magazines) are thinner than reloads for a revolver (using speed-loaders or loose rounds from your pocket) and can generally be accomplished much faster.



MYTH:
.380 ACP is the same as 9 millimeter.

TRUTH:
It depends on what you mean. The .380 ACP, also known as the 9 mm Kurz, 9mm Short, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, or 9x17, is approximately 9mm in diameter, but the cartridge is shorter, the bullet is lighter, slightly (although negligibly) smaller in diameter, and (normally) has less velocity and muzzle energy, and is considered by most people to be less effective than a 9 millimeter Parabellum, also known as the 9x19, 9mm Luger, or 9mm NATO, which is what most people are referring to when they say "9 millimeter."



MYTH:
Well, there's not much difference in the power between a .380 ACP and a 9 millimeter.

TRUTH:
I suppose it depends on how you define "not much." .380 ACP runs in the 900-1000 feet per second and 200-220 foot pounds of muzzle energy range, with a 100 grain or less bullet. 9 millimeter runs in the 1200-1400 feet per second and 320-550 foot pounds of muzzle energy range, with a 115-147 grain bullet. So, I guess if 200-600 more fps velocity and as much as almost three times more muzzle energy with a much heavier bullet is "not much more," then this is correct.



MYTH:
A small pocket revolver is the best choice of handgun for a female.

TRUTH:
As a generality, I call BS on this one. Many gunshops push small revolvers to female customers, and many men push small revolvers to their girlfriends, spouses, daughters, or women they know, and while it is true that many women seem to want a small gun they can stick in their purse, there is no one specific type of gun that fits any one demographic of people. To be effective as a personal defensive weapon, a handgun should meet several criteria, and one of those criteria is not "she's a woman, give her an Airweight." While a small revolver can be a reasonable choice for some circumstances, men typically think women should shoot revolvers because they are incapable of shooting a semi-automatic properly, and I assure you that's BS as a general demographic. Men, I promise you, no matter how good you think you are, I know women that can outshoot you, and I know lots of men that couldn't shoot themselves out of a wet paper bag, and a man that can't shoot well is almost without fail the same man who thinks he is a really incredible shooter.

Let me meddle here for a moment: Ladies, if your husband, boyfriend, father, gun shop sales clerk, or any other man arbitrarily buys a gun for you or gives a gun to you without asking you any questions and without letting you see how it fits your hand and/or letting you shoot it to be sure you can shoot it accurately, ESPECIALLY if the gun is a small pocket gun, you need to be taking shooting advice from a different person. No matter how much of an expert this person claims to be or thinks he is, he knows nothing about how to PROPERLY choose on a handgun, and he is buying you the pocket gun because he thinks of you as a "little lady" who can't properly handle a real gun. I'll even concede that in some circumstances, the guy may have the best of intentions, he just doesn't know how to properly choose a handgun for self-defense. Additional note: most of the time, a small pocket gun is a poor choice for any beginner or novice, male or female. Small pocket guns are usually difficult to shoot well because they are small, they don't fit your hand properly, and they have a very small sight radius.

It is extremely common for me to see a male gun shop employee hand a revolver to a female customer without asking any questions whatsoever, but that same gun shop guru will stand and discuss every little detail with a male customer. Ladies, if you encounter this at your local gun shop, find another sales person that will treat you properly or leave and go to another shop.



MYTH:
Sticking a handgun in her purse is the best carry choice for a female.

TRYTH:
Best choice? I'm going to say, no, it isn't the best choice. Any off-body carry can be a poor choice because you can become separated from the gun. Additionally, regarding purses, the purse is many times the target of theft in robberies. And yet another reason, you stick a gun inside a typical purse, and you will never get to it quickly enough to use it effectively during an attack. Just a few days ago, at a range where I was teaching, a lady wanted to ask a question about her carry gun. She opened her purse to take it out and show it to us, and it took her 20 or 30 seconds to find it. If you think you have 20 or 30 seconds in a typical fight, you're deluded.

Yeah, you're right. I'm not a female, so I don't "understand" but I do understand the pros and cons to general off-body carry. There are holsters designed specifically for females, so there is no reason to believe that a female MUST use a purse. Additional note, if you are a female and you are convinced that a purse is your only option, at least consider an actual gun purse designed to carry a gun so you will have a chance to get to the gun in an emergency.



MYTH:
Revolvers are outdated as personal defense weapons.

TRUTH:
To say that revolvers are outdated is misleading and probably not correct, but people have different opinions. Revolvers and semi-autos each have their individual advantages and disadvantages. Here is a basic comparison of a modern revolver to a modern semi-auto. Choose based on what works best for your particular situation.

A typical defensive revolver:
Holds five or six rounds of ammo
Is bigger and bulkier than a semi-auto of a similar power base
Is considered, by some, easier to operate than a semi-auto
Has a long, heavy trigger
Has fewer controls to operate
Is slower to reload, and you are less likely to carry a reload
Has fewer malfunctions, but when is does, it just locks up and cannot be quickly fixed in the field
Is easier to clean (less to do)

A typical defensive semi-auto:
Holds between eight and sixteen rounds of ammo, although some hold more
Is smaller and thinner than a revolver of a similar power base
Is considered, by some, harder to operate than a revolver
May have a shorter, lighter trigger
Has more controls to operate
Is usually faster to reload, and you are more likely to have a spare magazine or two on your belt
Tends to have more malfunctions, but can be cleared faster
Is harder to clean (must be taken apart)

NOTE
By revolver, I'm referring to a modern double action revolver. The old single action revolver probably is outdated as a defensive weapon. Opinions vary on this, but the old style single action revolvers are incredibly slow to reload, and for most people, are very slow to shoot compared to a double action revolver. The single action revolver must be thumb cocked for every shot, making multiple shots very slow and for many people, and harder to hit with accurately. Then, when all six shots have been fired, reloading is accomplished through a gate on the side of the cylinder, one cartridge at a time. For someone who is really fast, it takes several seconds to reload a single cartridge, which is one reason 100 or 150 years ago when they were really popular, people many times carried more than one gun.

If you can hit accurately and quickly with a single action revolver, and you can find defensive ammo for your model, and you know ahead of time that you'll never need more than six rounds, they are great, however I've never had the fortune of talking to anyone who knew ahead of time how many rounds they were going to need in a gunfight. I've interviewed several hundred people who have been in real gunfights and none of them knew ahead of time exactly how many shots they would need, and, in fact, most of the time, they needed more than they thought the would. Also, there are very few, if any, concealable holsters for single action revolvers. In addition to this, some single action revolvers have no hammer block safety, which means if you happen to drop it, it will fire if the hammer hits anything.

CAVEAT:
There are some single action revolver shooters who are pretty quick, and a few that are blazingly fast, and can hit accurately with this style of gun, but in general, for most people, single action revolvers are slower than double action revolvers.



MYTH:
Revolvers are more reliable than semi-autos.

TRUTH:
This one is true, sort of, but misleading the way most people mean it. Generally speaking, semi-autos tend to have more malfunctions than revolvers, however, many times when someone says this, they are comparing a reliable revolver to a not-so-reliable semi-auto. A quality semi-auto will have very few malfunctions. If you have a semi-auto that malfunctions regularly, guess what? It's not a reliable or quality model. This is one of the reasons I tell people that there are only a couple of guns that I would consider carrying to defend my life.

RECENTLY ADDED THOUGHT:
I have read and heard quite a few opinions that make comparisons based on, to quote a specific article I just read a few minutes ago, "really cheap models." Everyone has an opinion, but personally, I don't think in terms of the cheapest model I can get away with, and I wish other people didn't think that way, and it's especially disconcerting when people proffer this advice, especially if the person is an instructor proffering it students.

When you purchase a firearm for self-defense, you are buying something that you may literally have to depend on to keep you alive, to keep you breathing, to allow you to go home that night to see your family. When I buy something that important, I refuse to think in those terms. People that think like that are usually the same people that run out and buy a gun, and then only carry it on days they think they may need it. This is the type of person who, even though they claim to be a "gun person," is actually just a sheep who happens to own a gun.



MYTH:
Revolvers never malfunction.

TRUTH:
Bull. Generally speaking, revolvers have fewer malfunctions than semi-autos, but someone that says revolvers never malfunction doesn't shoot much. The same goes for anyone who claims the same about any given brand of semi-auto. Every piece of mechanical equipment on the planet will malfunction sometimes. Quality models simply have fewer malfunctions.

There may be some confusion about this, because there are certain types of malfuctions that revolvers can't have, such as a stove-pipe or double feed, because they don't have a reciprocating slide, but to say that a revolver can't ever have any type of malfunction is patently incorrect.



MYTH:
My gun doesn't shoot straight. There's clearly something wrong with the gun!

TRUTH:
Based on how many times I've heard this statement, there must be multiplied thousands upon thousands of defective guns out there. It's NEVER the shooter, because every testosterone driven southern male is an expert shooter and never makes a mistake or needs to learn how to shoot. It's ALWAYS and issue with the gun, never the shooter, even when I can take the gun from the person and shoot just fine with it.



MYTH:
But the average gunfight only involves three (or four, or whatever this week's number is) shots! Why would I consider carrying a semi-auto? I'll never need more than three or four shots!

TRUTH
If the average is three or four, that means some of the incidents involved more than three or four. If you don't understand why, then you don't understand ratios and percentages, so just take my word for it. Maybe six rounds will be enough. There's no way to know beforehand how many you will need in a fight. As a generality, if you carry a revolver, you will be limited to 5 or 6 shots. I don't know anyone that carries a revolver regularly that actually carries reloaders.



MYTH:
After being told that the average gunfight takes place within a few feet, you ignorantly say, "I'm not talking about going into a bar and getting into a fight."

TRUTH:
Neither am I. Think about it using a modicum of common sense. When a criminal robs you, he doesn't yell at you from across the parking lot for you to throw him your wallet or your purse. He comes up to you and sticks a gun in your face and demands it from you. That doesn't happen from 10 or 15 yards away. It happens within arm's reach.



MYTH:
They froze "X" brand in a block of ice and it still functioned afterwards.

TRUTH:
Freezing a reliable, well made gun that isn't made out of cheap metal in a block of ice won't damage it. That demonstration, in and of itself, doesn't prove anything, and, even if it did, it's completely unrelated to anything you will encounter in a real life confrontation.



MYTH:
All handguns are the same and/or designed to kill people.

TRUTH:
That is patently untrue. There are various types of handguns intended for various purposes, just like there are different types of tools for any purpose, and, as I have said about other things, someone who says this simply doesn't understand guns, no matter how much of an expert they claim to be.

Some handguns are designed to be target pistols, some to be plinking guns, some to hunt small game, some to hunt large game, some to be cheap to make and to be put away in a sock drawer and not to be shot a much or at all (see other articles on this page about cheap guns). Those handguns are not designed to be used to fight for your life, and they don't normally work well for that purpose except by luck (and if you're in a gunfight and all you have is a handgun, today already isn't your lucky day). For instance, a handgun designed to be used to hunt a one pound squirrel isn't adequate to quickly stop a 240 pound methhead trying to kill you from three feet away. A handgun designed to be used to hunt a 400 pound deer is likely to fire a bullet right through a human adversary and hurt someone else or damage property. Only a few handguns are actually made to fight for your life.

To be designed to fight for your life, a handgun must;

1. be reliable. If your guns breaks or malfunctions during a fight, it's a paperweight.

2. fire a effective bullet that will quickly stop an adversary. If you don't stop the agressor quickly and you get hurt or killed, the gun is useless.

3. be ergonomic for the person using it. If the gun doesn't fit your hand and you can't shoot it accurately, or if you can't operate the gun quickly under stress, you might as well not have it. A gun that fits one person's hands may not fit another person's hands.

4. be wearable or portable. During a gunfight on the grocery store parking lot, a big, heavy, really effective gun that you left at home because it's too heavy to carry is completely useless.

Don't understand why these things are important? Remember, you are fighting for your life, your right to continue breathing, your right to go home tonight to see your family.



MYTH:
All bullets are designed for the same purpose.
or, more specifically
I just need some cheap bullets for a "house" gun.

TRUTH:
This is patently untrue. Reloaded practice ammo is generally lower power than factory hollow-points, and doesn't normally doesn't use hollow point bullets, which are more effective in regards to stopping people. Reloads are generally designed to punch holes in paper targets, and are not designed to effectively stop a human adversary, and, as I keep repeating, people that don't understand this, don't know as much about guns as they think they do, no matter how much of an expert they claim to be. Additionally, if you put reloaded target ammo in a gun with a short barrel, it is particularly ineffective since the ammo is low powered to start with.



MYTH:
FMJ bullets will kill a man just as dead as hollow points!

TRUTH:
Here we go again. First, hollow points are generally more effective than non hollow-points. FMJ or round nose ammo can actually push through an organ where hollow points (generally) deform and cause more damage. Second, see other articles on this page about killing vs. stopping.



MYTH:
When you shoot someone, the bullet stops that person by physically knocking him down.

TRUTH:
Sorry, you've watched too much TV or listened to too many stories. Many people misuse the terms, and when they say "knock down power" or "stopping power," they really should be using the terms "effectiveness" or "efficiency," however some people actually believe a bullet will physically knock a person down. Bullets merely make holes. The reason a person falls down is because of loss of consciousness, the ability to remain standing because of blood loss or internal damage to vital or motor control organs, or, occasionally, because of psychological reasons (the person falls down because that's what he thinks he's supposed to do, and yes, that is apparently a real phenomenon), but not because of the actual impact of the bullet. The way you stop someone quickly is to make that hole in something vital (lungs, heart, spine, etc) and some bullets are more efficient than others in that respect.

Another commonly used example: the 1997 North Hollywood shootout. Two assailants, both wearing body armor, were pelted with multiple hits from all directions and simply kept right on shooting back at the police officers. Neither robber was knocked down, even with multiple hits.



MYTH:
After being told that a certain caliber is considered by most people to be ineffective, you say, "I'll just get closer to him before I shoot."

TRUTH:
Within normal confrontational distances, getting closer has a negligible impact on how effective a bullet is. A short barrel, small caliber gun is ineffective whether you're two feet away or ten feet away. Additionally, and this is a freebie, getting closer to someone that is trying to kill you is normally a really bad idea.



MYTH:
The .45 will always stop someone, and will flip them around even if you hit their hand.

TRUTH:
BS. Too much TV again. A .45 is bigger than other calibers, and, all else being equal, will make a bigger hole, but it does not knock someone down, nor does is always stop them. For example, in an incident that was caught on video, Georgia State Trooper Mike Ralston shot suspect Michael Sorrentino with a .45, scoring a hit in the middle chest, and Sorrentino fought with the trooper about eight minutes, and, there are plenty of other incidents where someone is shot, even by a .45, and turns around and runs away, keeps on doing whatever he was doing, or is still active long enough to fire back.

I use a very good example of this when I teach gun classes. I take a pepper popper target, set it all the way forward, and shoot it with a .45 multiple times. It will not fall over. I then have the smallest/youngest student go forward to the target and push it over with their pinky finger to demonstrate that the target was not rigged. If a .45 will not knock over a 15 pound piece of metal, why do you think it would physically knock down a 140 or 150 pound person? Again, bullets do not knock people down. People fall down because of blood loss, which is not the same as being knocked down by the physical impact of the bullet.

For a more practical example, I refer you to an incident in a Karate Dojo a few years ago. In October of 2003, Jose Arcos entered a Karate Dojo on Mendenhall in Memphis firing a gun. An off-duty police officer in the class retrieved his .45 and shot Arcos twice in the chest. According to a roomful of witnesses, Arco "stumbled and brought his weapon back up." The officer fired a third time and Acro fell down.

Along the same lines, people that get shot don't normally explode in a shower of blood like television normally portrays. There are plenty of real shootings caught on video, and I have investigated a couple of shootings but I have never seen one that looks like anything you usually see in the movies.

A related article about a shooting involving a .45:



MYTH:
You hear about some incident where a person is shot but not stopped and you say, "Oh, but THAT guy was clearly on drugs."

TRUTH:
It is irrelevant for several reasons. The most important one is, many people that are not on drugs are not immediately stopped by a gunshot, and just because you hear about someone that was shot who didn't stop at attack does not automatically mean the person was on drugs. Sorry if you have heard differently, but if you don't believe it, you are simply wrong. For instance, in the incident referenced in the preceding paragraph, the medical report indicated that no drugs of any kind were found in the attacker's bloodstream. Handguns are simply not the instruments of instant death and severe destruction that people think.

The second main reason is, even if the attacker is on drugs in some incident you have heard about, it is irrelevant because you cannot guarantee that you can avoid attackers that are on drugs. For the most part, you don't get to choose your attacker. The attacker chooses you. The guy you get may be on drugs or may not be. You don't get to make that choice. If an attacker who is on drugs chooses you as his victim, you can't simply ignore the problem because you don't like the outcome of some incident you have heard about. If you are attacked by a person who is on drugs, that is the person you have to deal with.



MYTH:
A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .45.

TRUTH:
Of course, a hit with a small caliber is better than a miss with a large caliber, but this argument is normally given by someone who has no concept of how to shoot a gun, and they are assuming that no one can shoot a large caliber gun accurately, and that's crap. I assure you I can hit as fast or faster with a .45 than most people can with any smaller caliber.



MYTH:
You hear someone talk about how inefficient handguns are and you say, "But in the last few years, they have really made advances in bullet technology!"

TRUTH:
The statement itself is true, but misleading. It is in fact true that in the last few years ammo design and bullet technology has improved, but saying that something is better than it used to be isn't the same thing as saying anything is guaranteed. Even with improved technology, there is no guarantee that a shot will always stop a person, because there are too many variables involved.



MYTH:
You can't miss with a shotgun.

TRUTH:
Yes you can. Shotguns don't have a huge pellet pattern like most people think. At 7 or 8 yards, the pattern spread of a typical shotgun firing 00 buckshot is only a few inches. Also, worth noting, people tend to shoot less accurately when using shotguns with pistol grips because they tend to point shoot with them.



MYTH:
They wouldn't show it on TV/movies if it wasn't real.
or
They wouldn't show it if it didn't really happen that way.

TRUTH:
Oh please. Get a $%#@ grip. I know people that actually believe this. This is so amazingly stupid I'm not even going to rebut it. If you really, honestly, actually believe everything on television must be real, you should just stay home.



MYTH:
It's illegal to own a fully automatic machine gun, assault rifle, or short-barreled shotgun.

TRUTH:
It is illegal in some states, but in many states, you can legally purchase a full auto machine gun (or short-barreled shotgun or any other class III item), as long as it falls within certain guidelines. You have to go to a class III dealer, there is some paperwork involved, and you must wait for an approval from the ATF, but it is legal.



MYTH:
Gunfights are (insert whatever your perceived notion is here).

TRUTH:
Most people take the term "gunfight" to mean something very grandiose. Previous comments about the average number of shots in a gunfight notwithstanding, in reality, a typical gunfight involving the average permit holder happens within a few feet (that's feet, not yards), involves only a few shots, lasts only a few seconds, and someone is left standing and someone is not. There are also many "gunfights" that don't even involve any shots being fired, where someone draws a gun to fight off an attacker, but never has to actually shoot.



MYTH:
There's no reason to carry a spare magazine. After all, I'm not going off to war!

TRUTH:
It is in fact statistically unlikely to need more than one magazine in a typical gunfight, but that's not the not the only reason to carry a spare magazine. The main reason to carry a spare is, in case you encounter some sort of malfunction. Some malfunctions require you to discard the magazine in the gun and insert a new one.



MYTH:
I got me a gun, now I'm safe.

TRUTH:
Your gun is an inanimate lump of metal. It does not make you safe any more than your piano makes you a musician. If the simple presence of a gun made you safe, no police officer would ever be killed in the line of duty.

You're not safe because you have a gun. You're safe if you are aware of your surroundings, have adequate skill with your gun, and can get to it quickly enough when it is needed. I know a few people that carry guns that can't get the gun out and engage a target in ten seconds. In a violent attack, ten seconds in an eternity. Statistically, the attack will be over in a few seconds.

There is a small contingent of people who like to say that if you stay aware of your surroundings, you will never have a problem and there is another small contingent of people that like to say that staying aware of your surroundings is a waste of time. The truth, as usual, can be found somewhere in the middle. If you remain aware of your surrounding all the time, you reduce the chance of being involved in an incident, but it doesn't guarantee it. Also, having a gun doesn't guarantee that you will win every confrontation.

Additionally, while you think this would be patently obvious, it isn't to some people; a gun that you left at home in the gun safe is irrelevant if you're attacked on the grocery store parking lot, and, probably even more common, the gun in the glove box of your car is irrelevant if you are attacked in the parking lot and you're 100 feet away from you car. Under most circumstances, during a active violent attack, you won't be able to "go get" your gun.



MYTH:
All I have to do it pull out my gun and that will always end any fight.

TRUTH:
That would be wonderful if it was true. It is true that many times this is the case, but there are many cases where people actually have to shoot the attacker to stop them. Not everyone is afraid of guns and not everyone is afraid to die. If simply having a gun stopped all crime, police officers would never be attacked. Sometimes you actually have to shoot the attacker, and sometimes you have to shoot them several times.



MYTH:
I've been around guns all my life.
or
I'm a hunter. I already know about guns.

TRUTH:
Being around guns no more makes you an expert on guns than being around cars makes you a NASCAR level race driver or a master mechanic. Most people don't practice practical shooting. If you don't practice the way you carry, you won't be proficient at that type of shooting. If you never practice drawing from the holster, firing that first double action trigger shot, etc, you won't be good at it in a fight. Under stress, you won't just suddenly gain skill you never had. Instead you will default to your level of training.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying you must be a high level shooter to be able to defend yourself. I am only saying if you have never practiced skills you need in a gun fight, you may not be good at them under pressure. If you think I'm wrong, participate in a practical shooting match and see how good you do the first time. The vast majority of people find out they aren't as good as they thought they were.



MYTH:
If I shoot someone in self defense, my homeowners and/or personal liability policy will cover my legal expenses should any arise.

TRUTH:
Many, in fact, I think it's most or all, regular home-owner insurance policies cover only accidents or negligence, but not intentional shootings. I believe the NRA sells an insurance policy that covers self defense, but most regular insurance companies do not. If you think your insurance policy covers you for self defense, you need to be sure. Check with your company, and be absolutely sure to let them know you mean a self defense situation. If you say "Will my liability insurance cover me if I shoot someone?" this question is not specific enough. You must be sure that the agent understands that you mean an intentional shooting and not an accident. You must be sure this is very clear when you ask.



MYTH:
If my insurance company refuses to pay, I'll just sue them!

TRUTH:
You will probably lose the case. The insurance policies that I've seen specifically list accidents and negligence as covered events. You don't have much of a case suing an insurance company for something they never said was covered.



MYTH:
Then I'll just say I shot the intruder accidentally.

TRUTH:
Good luck trying to convince a the officers, the detective, the judge, and the jury that you woke up in the middle of the night, heard an intruder, got your gun out, then "accidentally" shot the intruder. Additionally, if you say it was an accident, you open yourself up to civil liability and perjury or a charge of lying to a police officer. Perjury and lying to a police officer are both criminal offenses.



MYTH:
But I heard of some case where a guy sued his insurance company and won!

TRUTH:
If you want to rely on something you heard, or something that may have even happened once to help you in your particular case, more power to you.



DISCLAIMER
The following (or anything else on this site) should not be taken as an authorized interpretation of the law. I am not a lawyer. This particular section refers merely to the generally accepted interpretation of the law in Tennessee.

MYTH:
If you shoot someone on your front porch, drag the body through the front door.

TRUTH:
This is a misunderstanding of Tennessee law. Tennessee law does not say an intruder has to be inside the door or window or across the threshold. TN law does say you have the right to defend yourself against an attacker using deadly force, if he is forcibly entering or have forcibly entered your occupied residence. "Forcibly entering" means he is in the process of trying to enter your home by force. He could be kicking in the door or prying at the window, however, that does not mean you should shoot blindly through the door. If you shoot through the door and miss, you are still responsible for that bullet, no matter where it lands, whether it be a car, a house, or a 10 year old kid. There are also other considerations, such as it may be a policeman, or many other instances someone could probably think of where it could be a really bad idea to shoot. Say what you want about warrants or identifying themselves but how good of an idea do you think it is to have a dead policeman at your feet and a smoking gun in your hand, regardless of what you say happened?

There is also a Tennessee law that specifically makes it illegal to move or disturb a dead body, so even if all the police officers and detectives believe it was self defense, you could be still charged with disturbing a dead body under this law.

It does not matter that a policeman once told you to "drag the body through the door." The policeman is not the one who charges you with the crime. It's the detective or crime scene investigator, and what he thinks is what matters.

Another thing worthy of notation here is Tennessee law specifically states if someone is unlawfully and forcibly entering your occupied residence, you will be "...presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury..." This means, in essence, if someone is forcibly entering your house, you do not have to wait to see if they have a weapon. You can assume your life is in danger. Note, this is not about property. It's about the innocent life within the occupied residence.

This specific statute is one of the things that makes Tennessee law different from many other states. In some states/jurisdictions, you must first determine whether an intruder has a weapon, and if they don't, you are prohibited from using deadly force against them, even if they are in your house, so, essentially, you must fend them off physically, or simply call the police and wait until they get there. Some states even have a retreat law that makes it a requirement for you to leave your house with basically no right to defend yourself (although, that has changed over the last few years in some of those states). For the text of this particular Tennessee law, and several others, click here: Tennessee Laws



MYTH:
I was told that under Tennessee law, you are never justified in using deadly force to defend property. I'm confused! What about that bill that was introduced in the senate six years ago that didn't pass that would have allowed the use of deadly force to protect property under some circumstances? I'm confused as to you why you say it isn't legal to do so!

TRUTH:
Uhhhmmm...you really want me to tell you how much of a moron you are? Within your own question, you stated the bill didn't pass. If the bill didn't pass, what the hell are you confused about?



MYTH:
But in Texas (or any other state), the law says...

TRUTH:
More power to the state of Texas. I have a question for you. How could you possibly think that is even remotely related to what is or is not legally justified with the borders of Tennessee? Of all the dumb things I hear, I think this one has to be one of the dumbest. The only time you need to be concerned with what is legal in Texas is when you are actually in Texas. Otherwise, it's completely irrelevant, and if you don't understand why, just stay at home and don't ever go out.



MYTH:
"I only take my gun places I think I need it,"
or
"I'll only need my gun in certain places."
or
"You'll never need a gun if you stay out of places you'll need one, like bars."

TRUTH:
Crime is all around you every day, in every neighborhood and every city, and not just in places like bars. If you live in Germantown, Cordova, Collierville, or any other "safe" city, you are not immune to violent crime. Yes, of course, some cities or neighborhoods have less violent crime than others, but there very few places that have zero violent crime. Maybe, somewhere, there are a few gated communities that are completely inaccessible to outsiders and that are immune to violent crime, but there are three major problems with that way of thinking. First, there are very few places that are completely secure, and just because a person might live in an exclusive community doesn't mean that person is incapable of committing a violent crime. Second, unless you are independently wealthy, you have to leave sometime. Third, the vast majority of people on the planet don't live in that type of community, if it even exists in the first place.

In no particular order, here are just a few instances I know of personally. As an aside, robbery means taking of property by force. Simple theft or taking property without using force is burglary or larceny.

On Feb 9, 2009, Harry Coleman shot and killed Robert Schwerin after an altercation involving a parking space, in a "nice area" of Cordova.

On October 3, 2008, Jeannie Williams, Krystle Robinson, and Abraham Arnau robbed a woman at gunpoint in Southaven, MS by blocking her car in the street on Greenbrook Parkway. After the robbery was over, Arnau fired at the woman's vehicle as she was driving away. NOTE: People like to surmise that the assailants were from Memphis, however all three are Mississippi residents, and regardless, it doesn't really matter where they live. The robbery still occurred in Southaven.

On March 09, 2008, a teenager shot and killed another teenager at a church event in the parking lot of the Southaven Performing Arts center. Neighbors were quoted as saying, "This is a quiet neighborhood. It's always been a quite neighborhood until this and I'm scared now to let my kids come out at night. This is right across the street from me."

On May 5, 2008, two people were murdered and a third seriously injured in a fight at the Oak Ridge Apartments in Southaven. Neighbors were quoted as saying they did not expect this in a "nice quiet neighborhood."

On November 5, 1997, at 5:00 AM, Delma Ramsey was murdered in the McDonald's in Germantown. She was placed on the ground and shot in the back of the head, after the robbery was over. Area residents were quoted as saying, "I can't believe this happened. We don't have crime in Germantown."

Around that same time, early one morning a man was walking down Germantown Parkway, in Germantown, and two men pulled up in a car and tried to kidnap him. The only reason they weren't successful is because he was walking his dog, and one of the men in the car was afraid of the dog and wouldn't get out of the car.

About the same time as these incidents, there was an article in the paper about a home invasion in Germantown. The article made mention of the fact it was the third home invasion in the last month in Germantown. In several of these home invasions, the occupants were injured. In particular, one elderly man and his wife almost died from their injuries. FYI, a home invasion is breaking and entering of an occupied house, you're home when it happens. I also personally heard a GPD official say he used to feel safe in Germantown, but lately, he felt like there was nothing the police could do to protect people.

In October, 2004, 4-5 men burst into a Collierville home shouting "Police! FBI!" After they gained access, they took money and other items, bound and gagged the couple who lived there, locked them in the bathroom, then stole their SUV and left. Neighbors were quoted as saying, "We can't believe this happened here."

In February 2004, there was an article on germantownnews.com about series of home invasions where the suspect has not been caught. The article mentions that this particular suspect is wanted in connection with a long string of invasions, starting in September 2002. At least one of these involved an assault, and at least one involved the rape of a woman who was at home.

On April 1, 2004, there was an article on the WMC-TV 5 news about a home invasion in Germantown. This was a daytime home invasion, where three men forced their way into a home where there were several people at home at the time. Neighbors were quoted as saying, "Wow. How could this happen here?"

In April 2004, I also received an automated update from the Germantown Crime-Stoppers Unit regarding a sudden increase in burglary of vehicles left parked outside walking trails.

You can also go to the Germantown, Collierville, and other cities' police departments' web sites and view charts of crime statistics. Yes, of course, small cities don't have as much crime and larger cities, but small cities still have crime.

On April 15, 2004, Rebecca Glahn was robbed, raped, and murdered in her apartment in downtown Memphis. While downtown Memphis is generally considered by many to be a high crime area, this particular apartment building is card access only and has a security guard at the entrance, so it is considered safe.

This is one somewhat vague, but a few years ago (I can't find an exact date) there was a raid in Germantown of an illegal escort service being run out of a home in the city.

On June 19, 2008, Shelby County Sheriff's Deputies raided an illegal escort service run out of a house in the 6900 block of Tulip Trail, a "nice quiet" area of East Memphis, about a block from a friend of mine. At the time, several people in the neighborhood stated they didn't believe it really happened.

On July 1, 2004, there was an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal regarding a string of home invasions in Collierville. The article stated that the Collierville police believe the same person has committed at least 37 other home invasions over the last 2 years. Several people I talked to said, "Not in Collierville."

On August 10, 2004, NBC bank in Collierville Kroger was robbed.

On December 26, 1996 Angela Kyle was murdered in the parking garage of the Oak Court Mall. At the time, the Oak Court Mall, in East Memphis, was considered to be the "place to shop" and East Memphis was considered a "safe" neighborhood.

On September 8, 2001, Willie Pearl Carter (an elderly lady) was shot and killed at People's Bank in the Cordova/Lakeland area during a bank robbery. According to the reports, she became confused, and when she didn't follow the robbers' exact orders, one of them shot her.

In November 2003, an insurance agent's office in that same area was robbed. The robbers terrorized the staff, took their personal items, and stole some office computers.

In January 2001, a Shelby County Sheriff's deputy stopped to help what he thought was a stranded motorist in the Cordova area, near the corner of Houston Levee and Macon Road, and was shot (luckily, he was wearing a vest) when he approached the vehicle, and a gunfight ensued.

In September 2003, a bank in that same area of Cordova was robbed. In October 2004, the same bank was robbed again.

In 2001, a friend of mine who lived in Harbortown heard about a car theft and (unrelated) home invasion within a few days of each other on her street. During the home invasion, the resident was tied up and beaten. My friend stated that, even though both incidents were reported in the newspaper and on the local TV newscasts, she didn't believe it, because they "don't have crime in Harbortown."

On June 15, 1999, a lady named Mrs. Lee was abducted from Sonic in Collierville and taken into Mississippi and beaten to death. Yes, this did happen in Collierville. I have personal knowledge of this incident, but I can't remember how many people have denied it, saying, "It didn't happen in Collierville." Yes, it did. I have personal knowledge of this incident, plus it was on the news for several weeks, however, I have also had someone argue that it didn't really count as a Colliverville crime because the assailant took her to Mississippi before they killed her. That retarded-assed argument doesn't even warrant a reply.

On December 8, 2003, four disgruntled students fire-bombed an administrative office at Cordova High School. Luckily, no one was injured. Even though his mother stated that he was a good boy and had never been in trouble before, one of the students had been arrested several times previously for similar incidents.

On December 10, 2003, Kroger at Winchester and Hacks Cross was robbed, and the guard (off-duty policeman, in uniform) was shot.

According to OSHA, the most common cause of death in the workplace for women is murder. For men, murder is second most common, second only to traffic accidents.

You can decide in your mind that you're safe in certain places, but that does not change reality. If you are the only person killed in a certain place, you are still dead, regardless of the statistics.


MISC Crime Stats from 2003

These stats come from Shelby County Attorney General Bill Gibbons. This is the number of certain crimes that were prosecuted in Shelby county, and this particular set of stats is gun crime only. It does not include crime committed with other weapons. That means, many, many, many more were actually committed. Some estimates say only 2-15 percent of criminals are actually prosecuted. Do the math.

2003 Gun Crime Stats (keep in mind this is gun crime only)
Armed Carjacking - 342
Armed Robberies - 2467
Aggravated Assaults - 1978
Rape - 543

Some estimates place rape at only 1 in 6 even reported.

The Attorney Generals gang unit gives the following info:
10,000-15,000 active gang members estimated in Shelby County with about 5000 considered to be "Hard Core Gang Members" Violent crimes involving 3 or more suspects: 728 Burglary, 16,807. A new record.



MYTH:
The vast majority of home burglaries happen during the day, or some other time when no one is home.

TRUTH:
Well, this one is true, by a technicality, but misleading. By definition, 100% of all burglaries take place when no one is home. If a resident is at home when criminals break in, it is called a home invasion, even though some charts combine the two for brevity. What people normally mean when they say this is that criminals seldom break into houses where people are home, and that is patently false. On average, about one-third of all Memphis home break-ins are home invasions, and in most of those, the occupants are physically injured in some way, many times severly injured, and about once a week, someone is killed.



MYTH:
I remain aware of my surroundings, so I'll never need a gun.

TRUTH:
It is true that being aware of your surroundings is more important than the type of gun you carry, and if you are constantly aware of your surroundings, you can avoid many situations where you might need a gun, and many dangerous situations in general, but being aware does not guarantee one hundred percent that you will never need your gun.

I can personally attest that being aware of what is going on around you can keep you out of danger. A few years ago I was involved in, or more correctly, I avoided a fight that occurred in a convenience store. The reason I avoided it is I was paying attention saw the fight in its initial stages as I was walking across the parking lot to the store to pay for gas. I realized what was happening and decided to leave and go somewhere else to buy gas. Just a few moments after I left, the fight escalated and a man pulled a gun and tried to shoot his wife. He missed and shot the clerk instead.

Here is the reason I say there are situations where being aware may not keep you out of danger: Had I arrived at the location even one or two minutes earlier, I may not have seen the fight start, or I may have already been inside the store before the fight started and may not have been able to avoid it.



MYTH:
Stay in groups and you're always safe.

TRUTH:
This may help, but it does not guarantee anything. Once, when I was a teenager, a car pulled up to a group of kids standing outside a restaurant, and the driver pulled a gun and tried to get money from them. The group of kids scattered and the car drove off, but, it was still an attempted robbery. It is also becoming more common to be attacked by multiple assailants, and it isn't that uncommon for assailants to attack small groups of people. Just a few years ago, a friend of mine, her date, and a third person were robbed at gunpoint in a restaurant parking lot.



MYTH:
You can't conceal a full-sized weapon.
or
Everyone will be able to tell you're wearing a gun.

TRUTH:
I do it, and I know lots of other people who do it, including several smaller ladies who wear full-sized guns every day. On more than one occasion, I've had people tell me this when I was standing in front of them wearing a gun (on one occasion, two guns) several knives, a flashlight, and extra magazines. I even once had someone tell me that a pocket gun is all anyone can ever conceal, and "If you were wearing a gun, I would be able to see it" while pointing to my right hip where I was wearing a gun. I just said, "You're right" and walked away. To this day, this person does not know I wear a gun in front of him every day, and he considers himself to be an expert, because he is an ex-law enforcement officer who is "trained to be able to tell." Whatever, moron. Believe whatever you want. I wear a gun in front of you every day. Statements like that only prove how clueless you really are and I laugh at you behind your back because you are an idiot who has no clue how clueless you really are. I have also had the same basic conversation with other people who claimed to experts.

I am not saying you must carry a full-sized gun or that you must carry a gun everywhere you go. I am simply saying "You can't conceal a big gun" has become a mantra that people chant.

I couldn't care less whether you actually carry a gun, and for obvious reasons, I cannot tell you to wear a gun somewhere you are not supposed to have it such as the post office, court house, the ball park, the racetrack, the state building, posted properties, etc. I'm only saying this is not a valid argument. If you choose not to wear a gun, that's certainly your right, and I would never suggest otherwise, just don't tell me something "can't be done" when I know it can be done. It makes you look like an idiot when you tell other people something they know for a fact isn't true. In all of the instances I'm referring to, I was standing in front of the person wearing a full size gun, two spare magazines, three knives, and a flashlight.



MYTH:
You cannot take a gun with you when you travel by airplane.

TRUTH:
It depends on what you mean. The average permit holder cannot wear a handgun while flying and cannot carry the gun in carry-on luggage, but a handgun can be transported in your checked baggage when traveling to most U.S. states (see note below). It isn't extremely common, and before 9/11, most airline employees that I talked to did not know you could do it. Since 9/11, they seem to be more informed. Contact your airline for specific details because the rules can vary slightly, but the general rules are, the gun must be in a locked container inside a piece of locked, checked luggage, must be unloaded, and the ammo must be separated from the gun. At least some airlines have a limit on how much ammo you can carry, so check ahead of time, especially if you're planning on transporting a large amount of ammo. Note: Before flying, be sure to verify that it is legal to transport a gun into your destination state, as there are a few states that have restrictions.



MYTH:
A handgun permit requires you to keep the gun concealed.

TRUTH:
Not in Tennessee. The TN handgun carry permit is just that; a handgun carry permit. Nowhere in the statute or on the permit does it say the handgun must be concealed, and the TN Attorney General has issued an opinion memo stating that concealment is not required. Now, having said that, I am in no way, in this section, arguing for or against open carry. I am merely stating that it is not illegal in Tennessee.

NOTE: There was an incident in Knoxville in 2007 where a permit holder was detained and (apparently) harassed for carrying openly, however, he was not arrested and, after the permit holder filed a complaint, the officer was ordered to take remedial training by his captain because the officer was in the wrong. The officer later stated that he (the officer) was from Ohio, and was confused about the law in Tennessee. See link for info. link deleted due to expired blog.



MYTH:
But I know a policeman that says he will arrest anybody he sees carrying a handgun openly, even with a permit.

TRUTH:
More power to him. He is in conflict with state law and a specific statement by the Attorney General of the state of Tennessee. AG Opinion:



MYTH:
But the original intent of not including the term "concealed" in the statutes was so that a permit holder wouldn't get in trouble if someone accidentally saw his gun somehow.

TRUTH:
It doesn't matter what the original intent was. The fact is, it is not illegal to carry a gun openly in the State of Tennessee if you have a permit, and the AG of the state has specifically stated this. See the AG opinion in the last article for more information on that.



MYTH:
But "concealed" means concealed!
or
"CCW" stands for Concealed Carry Weapon!

TRUTH:
Yep, you're right. And "automobile" means automobile! And "chair" means chair! Since the statutes of Tennessee regarding handgun carry permits do not include the word concealed in any section and the permit does have the word on it, that statement is not relevant to anything. If you mean that you believe it's always best to carry your gun concealed, that's one thing, but to insist that it should be concealed because it's called a concealed carry permit is patently incorrect in Tennessee, because in Tennessee, it is not a concealed carry permit, but a handgun carry permit, and nowhere in the law or on the permit does it say the handgun must be concealed.



MYTH:
Well, those open carry idiots are just asking for trouble.

TRUTH:
Yeah, maybe. Open carry has its disadvantages in my opinion, but that does not change the fact that it isn't illegal, and the fact that you don't like it, even if you are a cop, doesn't make it illegal. Luckily, we have a thing in this county called the law, and the law is based on case law and statutes, and not whether individual police officers like or dislike something.



MYTH:
Well, if I see someone open carrying, I'll just shoot them, because having a gun is a threat.

TRUTH:
Assuming you don't get shot back and die, which would be perfectly justifiable, you will most likely be convicted of murder or manslaughter. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean you can just shoot people if they haven't done anything that directly threatens your life, and since open carry is legal, and the DA of Tennessee has said it is, the simply act of carrying openly isn't a direct threat.

On a side note: it's no wonder what happened to you happened. (I'm referring to one specific person here, and I'm sure he knows who he is). Didn't think I knew about that, did you? Take your medication, play with your discharge papers, get a life, and stay in your house with the doors locked.



MYTH:
The handgun permit requires you to keep the gun visible at all times.

TRUTH:
I don't know where people come up all the things they believe. Nope. Not in TN. As stated in the previous paragraph, the TN permit is merely a license to carry the gun. It is not specified in the law that it must be concealed or carried openly. It is legal in TN to carry either way if you have a permit.



MYTH:
You can "set up" the Tennessee permit to be a concealed permit (or any other similar crap).

TRUTH:
No. The Tennessee permit is a handgun carry permit. There is no special provision for concealed carry. The permit allows you to carry the handgun, period. It can be concealed or unconcealed. There is no option to "make it a concealed permit." I really don't know where people come up with this crap, and I hope no permit instructors are telling this to people, but based on what I have heard people say, some must be. Additionally, unless your instructor is a police officer or other government agent of some kind, he is simply a permit holder who happens to be approved to teach the permit class. I know instructors who like to imply that they have some special privileges that others don't have, but in most cases, this isn't true. On an additional note, "I'm duly authorized by the state of Tennessee to legally carry a firearm openly or concealed at my choice" means, "I have a permit."



MYTH:
I've got the permit badge and that allows me to (insert whatever here).

TRUTH:
Sigh. I've got news for you. A permit badge does nothing, absolutely nothing, for you whatsoever. It gives you no authority, no right to carry the gun, no law enforcement powers of any kind, or anything else. You cannot legally carry a gun, even with the badge, if you don't have a valid permit on your person. If you have a badge, that doesn't give you the right to carry the gun concealed. It is already legal to do if you have a permit. It's possible, theoretically, that you could get in trouble for impersonating a police officer if you are wearing a badge. In short, the badge is worthless, it isn't required by any law, you don't need it, and generally speaking, it does nothing to help you, and in fact, most of the police officers that I know personally look down on people who are not law enforcement that carry badges. They feel that these people are "LEO wannabes" and that could (you know, theoretically) cause you problems.



MYTH:
With the permit comes a moral or legal obligation to help other people.

TRUTH:
Many people will tell you the answer to this is a matter of opinion, but it really isn't. You don't suddenly gain any moral or legal obligation to your fellow man that never existed before because you now have a permit and/or gun. Any obligation you had to help other people, morally or legally, you had before permits even existed. In fact, something you need to keep in mind is, now that you have a permit, any confrontation you decide to become involved in is now an armed confrontation because YOU brought a gun. Am I saying you should never help your fellow man? No, of course not, but I am saying that you don't suddenly have some obligation now that you didn't have before simply because you have a permit in your pocket. The permit, as discussed elsewhere on this page, is an administrative document that allows you to legally carry a handgun on your person. Legally, the permit does absolutely nothing else. The laws that govern the use force on another person are in a different section of the statutes, and are not directly related to the section concerning the issue of gun permits.



MYTH:
You can carry a handgun openly in TN without a permit.

TRUTH:
Nope. You can carry a handgun on your own private property, in your house or business, or in your vehicle without a permit, but out in public, TN law requires you to have a handgun permit.



MYTH:
It's legal to carry a gun, but illegal to carry an extra magazine.

TRUTH:
Not in Tennessee. There is no law making it illegal to carry a spare magazine.



MYTH:
I can keep a loaded gun where it is accessible in my car without a permit.

TRUTH:
Not in TN. Without a permit, you have to abide by federal transport laws, which basically say you must have the gun unloaded and inaccessible.

UPDATE:
As of July 2014, you can carry a loaded handgun in your vehicle without a permit as long as you can otherwise legally possess the gun, but according to most sources, it can be anywhere in the vehicle except on your person.



MYTH:
What about "intent to go armed?" I can carry a gun without a permit as long as I don't "intend to go armed."

TRUTH:
That is a technicality in search of a loophole, and that is not the intention of the "intent to go armed" statutes. I don't suggest you try it.



MYTH:
When you go into certain businesses (usually a bank), you must carry openly.

TRUTH:
Nope. There is no law requiring this. In Tennessee, anywhere you can legally carry a gun, you can carry it concealed.



MYTH:
You cannot legally carry a gun into a bank.

TRUTH:
This is only true if a particular bank has a properly posted "no guns" sign or is on federal property. If you have a permit, there is no statute that makes bank carry generally illegal.



MYTH:
But my friend who works at the bank told me it was illegal to carry in a bank! And he should know. He works in a bank!

TRUTH:
Really? And what makes a bank teller an expert on gun laws? The next time your friend tells you that, ask him to show you the statute that makes bank carry illegal. I'm betting his source is "My supervisor told me," or "I work in a bank. I know!" I've got news for you. The average bank employee is not a gun law expert.



MYTH:
You are required to inform certain businesses that you are carrying a handgun.

TRUTH:
Nope, not in TN. There is no law requiring you to inform anyone of anything. If you are in a prohibited location, you are breaking a law, but that isn't really related to the statement.



MYTH:
It is illegal to carry a handgun into any business in Tennessee.

TRUTH:
What? Any business? That is untrue. There are a few places in Tennessee off limits by law, but nowhere in the statute does it say all businesses are off limits. For information on off limits locations, see: Off Limits locations:



MYTH:
It's illegal to carry a handgun into any government building.

TRUTH:
There is no Tennessee law stating this. Many government properties are properly posted, and federal property is off limits by default (because it isn't considered part of the state of Tennessee), but there is no general law making all locations off limits.



MYTH:
It should be illegal to carry a gun into bank, even with a permit. If it's legal to carry into a bank with a permit, it's legal to rob the bank.

TRUTH:
You're kidding me, right? I have actually heard several people say they think this. If you think having a permit makes it legal to rob a bank, you're just an idiot, and this myth doesn't even warrant a reply.



MYTH:
My company (or some business) has a policy against guns, therefore, it is illegal to carry a gun there.

TRUTH:
This is sort of a nit-pick, but having a policy against something doesn't make it illegal. If a company has a policy against bringing a gun to work, you can be fired if you are caught doing so, but a simple company policy doesn't make something illegal. The only places in TN where it is illegal to carry a gun are the places off limits by statute, federal property, and any business that has a properly posted sign. If you bring a gun to work and are caught, you can be fired and then charged with tresspassing (if you refuse to leave) but you haven't broken any actual state statute by disobeying a policy. However, my normal disclaimer follows: I'm not suggesting that you break any policy. I'm merely pointing out that some company's random policy and state law are not the same thing.



MYTH:
If a business prohibits me from carrying a gun, they have violated my Constitutional rights.

TRUTH:
Nope. Generally speaking, the Constitution protects against denial of rights by the government or agents of the government, but not by private businesses or persons. Some people have claimed that isn't true and claim there is case law that proves otherwise, but so far, no one that I have heard say that has been able to provide any documentation of the case law they claim exists. You can also see this link for more information: Constitutional Liberties:



MYTH:
Some other person's rights do not supersede mine!

TRUTH:
Actually, sometimes, they do. When you are on property that is owned or controlled by another person, that person has a right to make any rules he or she sees fit, and if you don't agree, too bad. For example: If the manager of a business decides to post a signs prohibiting handguns, he has that right. If you don't like it, there's really not much you can do other than shop somewhere else.



MYTH:
You can carry a handgun legally inside a business that serves alcohol in TN as long as you aren't drinking or as long as the business does not derive 50% (or 51%) or more revenue from alcohol sales.

TRUTH:
Nope. When you hear people say this, they are confusing laws in other states with TN law. TN law specifies that is an offense to possess a firearm inside a public building where alcohol is served for on premises consumption. The law says nothing about an exception for not drinking or the 51% exemption. For the full text of the law, see this link: Possession of firearm where alcoholic beverages are served:

UPDATED NOTE AS OF 6/4/09:
This law has changed. Beginning July 14, 2009, it will be legal to carry in a TN restaurant that serves alcohol as long as the permit holder isn't drinking, and as long as the restaurant isn't a posted location, so this myth is irrelevant, but I'm leaving it, just for reference.

UPDATED NOTE AS OF 11/20/09:
Carrying in a restaurant that serves alcohol is now again illegal, due to a ruling by a judge in some case in East Tennessee. I will update again if anything changes.

UPDATED NOTE AS OF 6/12/10:
A new statute has passed which makes it legal again to carry in an establishments that serve alcohol.

The law allows valid handgun carry permit holders to carry in establishments where alcohol is served UNLESS the restaurant/bar is posted by the owner as a no-gun zone, AND as long as the permit holder isn't drinking alcohol.

The international prohibited sign (gun with circle and slash) is now sufficient as a posting, if placed at all entrances.

It is still illegal to carry a gun while drinking. The penalty for drinking and carrying is a year in jail and a $2500 fine, plus loss of gun permit for three years. DO NOT drink while armed.



MYTH:
If they allow guns in restaurants that serve alcohol, there will gunfights every day! Guns and alcohol don't mix!

TRUTH:
Sigh. More paranoid anti-gun rhetoric. Drinking while carrying is still illegal. Anyone that would strap on a gun, get drunk, then start a shootout would do that regardless of the fact that the law already does, and will continue to prohibit that. This is another one of those tired-assed arguments that has no basis in reality like I've already discussed about the duty to retreat being revoked in Florida. It isn't happening in the 37 other states that already allow guns in restaurants.



MYTH:
If you carry your gun openly, you make yourself a target and you give up the element of surprise.
or
If you carry your gun openly, criminals will avoid you because they know you have a gun.

TRUTH:
This is a hotly debated subject. In my experience, no one has produced any evidence that definitively proves or disproves either statement. While I will concede that it is possible for either to be correct, no evidence that I have seen shows that either one is more statistically likely than the other. There are instances of people, almost always police officers or security guards, being shot apparently because they were carrying a gun, however, there are also instances of people who apparently avoided incidents because they were wearing a gun openly. Until there is a reliable database of more than a few instances, in my opinion, neither has been definitively proven. I personally choose to carry my gun concealed in almost all circumstances because it generally makes life easier, but some people prefer to carry openly.



MYTH:
A handgun carry permit (or badge) gives you the authority to (insert whatever here).

TRUTH:
A handgun carry permit gives you no authority whatsoever. It allows you to legally carry a handgun on your person, and nothing else. Nothing, period. Also, as a side note, the permit does not give you any right to use the gun, only to carry it. The use of deadly force is covered under different laws; the laws that allow you to use deadly force against another person in self defense, and you have those rights even if you don't have a handgun permit, because those rights apply to any type of deadly force, not just handguns. I realize that is a technicality, but it's a technicality people need to understand so they don't do something they aren't legally allowed to do. It's especially important to understand that the permit gives you no law enforcement authority of any kind, in any way whatsoever. A handgun carry badge does nothing for you. See previous article a few paragraphs back for more info on badges.



MYTH:
During a traffic stop or other encounter, you are required to inform police officers that you are wearing a gun.

TRUTH:
There is a statute that says you must show your permit to a police officer if he asks for it, and a statute that says a police officer may disarm you during an encounter if he sees fit, but there is no law requiring you to inform a police officer in general that you have a gun or a permit. If you are pulled over for a traffic violation or have an encounter with a police officer in some other manner, it may be a good idea to inform him that you have a permit and are armed, but there is no statute requiring it.



MYTH:
During a traffic stop or other encounter, I feel you should

a) out of courtesy, inform the officer that you have a permit and are wearing a gun.
or
b) not inform the officer that you are wearing a gun because it's none of his business and not related to the traffic stop.

TRUTH:
This is an opinion, however most officers I have asked about this prefer to know up front that you are legally armed. Most of them have stated that if you tell them up from that you "have a permit, and are armed," the traffic stop will go smoother. If they find out you have a gun because they see it, they find it during a frisk, or they run your license and find you have a permit, the stop will not go as smooth for you, and you will be more likely to get the ticket.



MYTH:
You have to register a handgun for it to be legal.
or
You have to have a permit to purchase a gun.

TRUTH:
Not in Tennessee. In Tennessee, and most other states, there is no registration or permit required to purchase non-class III (NFA) firearms. If you buy a handgun from a dealer, you have to fill out a 4473 form, give a fingerprint, and wait for an approval. If you buy a handgun from an individual, none of that is required.

UPDATE AS OF JULY 2009: You no longer have to give a fingerprint. Some states may require it, but federal law doesn't, and as of July 2009, Tennessee state law no longer requires it.



MYTH:
TN has a "duty to retreat law."

TRUTH:
Nope. In fact, TN law actually says specifically "...There is no duty to retreat before a person threatens or uses force." As a general rule, people that say this are confusing "duty to retreat" with "preclusion." Preclusion means you can only use deadly force as a last resort. It does not mean you have to turn around and try to run away from if someone is actively trying to kill you.



MYTH:
"No duty to retreat" means you can shoot anybody for any reason, and there will be "blood in the streets" and shootouts over every car accident or minor disagreement, and you only have to say you felt threatened and you can't be charged with anything. It's a "get out of jail free card" for murder.

TRUTH:
Sigh. This extremely tired-assed argument comes up from time to time, but specifically, it came up when the state of Florida removed "duty to retreat" from its law. If you believe this, you listened a little too much to the media hype and propaganda. You cannot just simply shoot someone and say you felt threatened, and nowhere in the law does it say you can. There must be four elements present before you can be justified in using deadly force against another person. I'm not going to go into those here, however. If those four elements are not present, you will, under normal circumstances, be arrested, charged, and convicted of murder.

If you don't know what those four elements are, you need to retake your gun class, or if you live in a state where no class is required, you need to go take a deadly force seminar somewhere. "No duty to retreat" means simply this: if you are being threatened with deadly force, you do not have to try to run away first. That is all it means.



MYTH:
(Whatever your perceived notion of a criminal is) is the only person I have to be afraid of.

TRUTH:
People are killed or crippled by every "type" of person imaginable. You don't have to be paranoid, but you should realize that any person is capable of being a threat. A specific example of what I mean is, here, in my area, the typical white person believes that all crime is committed by black people, therefore, you only have to worry about black people. This is nonsense.

While is may be uncommon (for example) to be killed by a 72 year old white man, that doesn't mean it can't happen. Here in Tennessee, Ron Walker, a 39 year old man, was murdered by James Haynes, a 72 year old white man, because Haynes thought Walker had shot his dog. He killed Walker in front of his seven year old daughter. Not only did he shoot him twice, but he then walked up to him and put one more bullet into his head at close range.

Another person killed by an old white man was Texas State Trooper Randy Vetter. He was attacked during a traffic stop by Melvin Hale, a 75 year old white man. Hale has subsequently stated that he believes he had the right to kill Vetter and that God told him it was ok, because he did not agree with the Texas seat belt law. Anyone can be a threat.

There are also plenty of cases where people are murdered by women. Try an internet search for "women who murder" and see for yourself. Some people argue that women normally only kill their children, husbands, or ex-husbands. First, that's still murder. Second, it isn't always true. Anyone can be a threat.



MYTH:
Guns are the only threat out there.
or
If they would just get rid of guns, that will eradicate most crime.

TRUTH:
Not hardly. People are killed and hurt by everything imaginable. In 1998, firearms were used in only 11 percent of rapes and robberies and only 8 percent of aggravated assaults, and the statistics are similar year after year. This information can be verified in the Statistical Abstract of the United States. See this link Firearm statistics:



MYTH:
Guns are the only things that are considered "deadly force."
or
Shooting someone in the chest is deadly force, shooting someone in the leg is not.

TRUTH:
Once again, not hardly. The general definition of deadly force is "Any type or degree of force that can be reasonably expected to cause death or serious bodily injury." If you don't think shooting someone in the leg or the use of a weapon other than a gun both fall under that definition, you need a basic lesson in physics or biology.



MYTH:
A knife (or other contact weapon) isn't really a threat.

TRUTH:
If you don't think a knife can be a threat, ask somebody who has been stabbed or cut, or someone who has been beaten up with a baseball bat, or someone whose son was beaten to death with a fence post. There are innumerable objects that can kill people that normally aren't classified as weapons.



MYTH:
You can't shoot a guy just because he has a knife.

TRUTH:
Well, this one is true, as stated, but misleading. You can't legally shoot someone JUST because he has a weapon. However, if the person is threatening you with said weapon, and is within useful range of said weapon, you ARE legally justified in shooting the person (generally speaking). How close a person with a knife has to be in order to be considered a threat depends on several factors. See other articles on this page for more information.



MYTH:
A gun is always better than a knife.
or
You must be very close for a knife to be a threat.
or
A knife is never a threat if you have a gun.

TRUTH:
The average man can cover 4 or 5 steps faster than the average shooter can draw and fire a couple of good hits. Even if you get are fast enough to get a good hit on an attacker, there is no guarantee he will stop immediately. Bullets do not always immediately stop an attack. A knife can cause more damage than a bullet and can cause it quicker. A bullet only creates a small hole but a knife can create large gashes, and most knife attacks are much more dynamic and much less static than people think. In real life, a knife is a threat when the attacker is within a distance (taking obstacles into consideration) where he can get to you before you can get out of the way, draw your gun, and stop him.

Several years ago, I conducted a drill colloquially known as the "Tueller drill" to show how quickly someone could run 21 feet. I marked off the distance and had runners start running at the sound of a shot timer. The person with the timer was standing at the 21 feet mark and the runner slapped the timer as he went by to get a time reading. The average time was something like 1.9 seconds. Keeping in mind that this included my time, which was 2.3 seconds. I'm overweight and out of shape. If I can run 21 feet in 2.3 seconds, you know it can be done much faster.

This does not mean that a knife is always better than a gun or that a gun is always better than a knife. It simply means either one may not necessarily be an advantage over the other in every possible situation. It depends on the ability of the person with the particular weapon. Having a gun does not automatically mean you're safe from every possible attacker.



MYTH:
The "21 foot rule" (in regards to the "Tueller Drill") proves whatever.

TRUTH:
Most references the "21 foot rule" are incorrect within the context it is used. In 1983, Sgt. Dennis Tueller performed a demonstration showing how quickly a man could run 21 feet and the results were subsequently printed in an article in SWAT magazine.

The demonstration showed how quickly a person could run 21 feet. It did not show, nor did Sgt. Tuller in any way state, that 21 feet is some magic safety distance, nor did he say an attacker 21 feet or farther away couldn't be a threat. What he did show was the average time for a person to run 21 feet was as fast or faster than the average police officer could draw a gun and get a couple of good hits, therefore a person 21 feet away with a contact weapon could still be a threat to most people, even when armed with a gun.

His exact quote was, "It would be safe to say then, that an armed attacker at 21 feet is well within your danger zone." So, he said that an attacker 21 feet away is "well within" your danger zone. He did not say that you are safe if the attacker is 21 feet away. This is the problem with most references to the "21 foot rule."

Most people who reference the "21 foot rule" incorrectly say that an attacker has to be within 21 feet to be a threat, or that an attacker that is more than 21 feet away isn't a threat, or that you should maintain a 21 foot barrier between yourself and any potential threat in order to be safe from the threat, and that is not what Sgt. Tueller's demonstration showed, nor is it in any way what he stated, and in fact, he showed, and specifically stated, the opposite of that. He has even stated in a recent interview that he never used the term "21-foot rule" and that the term itself "crept its way into the lexicon." If you're interested in actually reading the article or watching the interview, see the following links. How close is too close?: LINK REMOVED TO DUE OUTDATED WEBPAGE :

NEW NOTE
I have recently been told that I am wrong about this, and that since I am not a cop, I don't have the capacity to understand the situation, so, I repeat my challenge that is at the bottom of this page. Actually read the article, then tell me where, in which paragraph, Sgt. Tueller stated that you are safe if an attacker is 21 feet away from you. Once you do this, I will change what I have here, and give you credit for it.



MYTH:
In a gunfight, accuracy or shot placement is important above all else.

TRUTH:
This is sort of true, but not to the complete exclusion of speed like some people have come to believe. People like to reference the quote "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final." (This quote is sometimes attributed to Bill Jordan, but it has also been attributed to other people besides him)

The problem is, some take it as an absolute, and think that there is no reason for speed and that accuracy takes absolute priority over speed. While it is important to be accurate, it is also important to be accurate quickly. There is a concept known as "combat accuracy." If you are attacked by multiple assailants from 3 or 4 feet away (which is pretty common) you don't have the 20 or 30 seconds to solve the problem that some people seem to think you have. You must be accurate, but you must be accurate quickly enough to stop the threat before you are hurt. Considering that most violent encounters only last a few seconds, if you have to actually fire your gun, I find it extremely unlikely that you will plenty of time to be "bullseye" accurate.

Regarding shot placement, shot placement is extremely important, but shot placement without adequate penetration sometimes doesn't accomplish anything, and great shot placement and penetration three seconds after you've been shot doesn't help you. You must have a good combination of shot placement, speed, and penetration.

On a side note, I know someone who likes to say: "It's funny people attribute the accuracy quote to Bill Jordan. Bill Jordan was a fast shooter."



MYTH:
Tennessee law says an attacker armed with a contact weapon must be within 3 feet before you can shoot.

TRUTH:
Really? It does? Can you show me where the law says that? Yeah, I didn't think so.



MYTH:
You must always warn your attacker or say "stop" before you can shoot.

TRUTH:
That is not required by any statute in Tennessee, and probably not in any other states. There is case law that requires police officers to give a warning when feasible, however if you are being actively attacked, it is not normally feasible to give warnings. Additionally, under normal circumstances, the case law only applies to police officers.



MYTH:
The local police department's policy requires officers to say "stop" a certain number of times before shooting, teaches their officers not to shoot unless the attacker is within 3 feet, or any other department policy.

TRUTH:
Good for them. You're not a police officer, so how does any of that apply to you? The local PD can have any policy they want. That doesn't affect what the law actually says or doesn't say. You need to be concerned with what the law says and with staying alive, and not what some department policy says.



MYTH:
"X" tactic is the best tactic for every situation, because that's what Seal Team 6 (or S.W.A.T. team, or whomever) does.

TRUTH:
This one may or may not be true. Any given tactic that works great for one situation may work horribly for another. One example I usually think of is a tactics for clearing a house.

A few years ago, I was in a rifle class. During a break, I got into a discussion with a friend regarding why, if for some reason I had to clear a building, I would not use the "kick in the door and go charging into a room" tactic that really impressed him, because, in his words, "that's what they teach to the teams."

I tried to explain that the difference was, when "the teams" go into a room to clear it, they go in with 6 or 8 or more people, and they all have shotguns or automatic weapons. If I had to clear my house in the middle of the night, it wouldn't be 6 or 8 of us. It would only be me. He didn't seem to see why it made any difference.

Any time you learn a new tactic, examine it to be sure it works for your particular situation. It may not work like you think.



MYTH:
I'm a badass tactical S.W.A.T. type person because I done had me a little trainin'.

TRUTH:
Uhhh...no. The average permit holder who carries a handgun for personal self defense that goes out and gets a little gun training, even a lot of training, doesn't suddenly qualify as a tactical expert who should be "teaching the teams." There is an extreme difference between average self defense and what S.W.A.T. or SEAL teams do.



MYTH:
A person can run take the permit class and then suddenly be deemed an expert.

TRUTH:
Not hardly, but I have actually heard someone say this. In the permit class, subjects are covered on a very basic level, and very few, if any, tactical theories are discussed, and most people understand that you can't run take one class in some subject and suddenly be classified as an expert in that subject. It's statements like this that prove people really have no idea how much they don't know.



MYTH:
I'm a badass, and an expert in self defense because I'm good at shooting matches.

TRUTH:
Maybe, maybe not. There is no way to know, and there may not be any correlation between the two. First, almost all shooting matches (even IDPA) feature long, protracted gunfight scenarios that don't accurately represent any real self defense gunfights. Second, I know people that have never been to a shooting match that have successfully defended themselves in real life gunfights and people that regularly go to shooting matches that were unable to defend themselves in real life gunfights. Don't get caught up believing that you are guaranteed to win a gunfight because you shoot in matches. There are too many variables involved, and every person is different.



MYTH:
Cops, ex-military, or great shooters make the best shooting instructors.

TRUTH:
Who makes the "best" shooting instructor is a matter of opinion, based on an individual's criteria for what the individual wants to gain from a class and what he or she relates to in other people. There is no one single type of person that makes a good shooting instructor, or for that matter, any kind of instructor. The best instructors, in my opinion, are people that know the subject matter they are teaching, can relate to students, and can relay the information in an understandable manner. There is a trend in the gun industry to have instructors that are ex-military or retired police officers because it looks good on the resume, but those people aren't always necessarily good teachers. Some are. It just depends on the person. It also depends on the student, and what the student wants. For example: many women prefer a female instructor for no other reason than they want a female instructor. Some don't care either way. It's just a personal preference.



MYTH:
I shoot a lot!

TRUTH:
"A lot" is a matter of opinion. Normally, this statement is followed by something like, "I shoot a couple of hundred rounds a month!" When I hear someone say they shoot a couple of hundred rounds a month, I think to myself, "If I only shot a couple of hundred rounds a month, I would start telling people that I didn't shoot much any more." Regardless, the number of rounds you shoot isn't as important as how you practice. If you practice crap ten thousand times, you'll be a master, but only a crapmaster.



MYTH:
Putting a target at 50 yards really separates the men from the boys!

TRUTH:
In 50 yard target shooting competition, you're absolutely right, but in close-quarters, real-life, self-defense confrontations, shooting at 50 yards is basically unheard of, so it all depends on what you are training for. Just because a person can accurately hit a target at 50 yards doesn't necessarily mean that person can quickly get to a concealed gun and engage multiple adversaries while shooting quickly and accurately while being shot at or attacked with a contact weapon.

A good comparison I like to use is trumpet related. Just because trumpet player A can play higher notes than trumpet player B doesn't mean player A is an overall better player than player B. There's more to playing the trumpet than just playing high notes, just like there is more to shooting than shooting 50 yard targets.



MYTH:
My local police department carries "X" gun, so that's what I want to carry, because it must be the best choice.

TRUTH:
Many police department commanders choose the gun their officers carry based on the lowest bid by the gun companies trying to get the business or other criteria completely unrelated to self-defense. Don't use this as a sole reason for choosing a gun to defend your life.

Also, a gun that works well for one person may not work well for another. I like the Sig 229, but they are too big for some peoples' hands. I can't shoot most Glocks for that same reason. There's nothing wrong with Glocks. Most of them are just too big for my hands.

A very good example of this is, a local law enforcement department near me issues the Beretta 96D to its officers. A couple of female officers that I know cannot reach the trigger enough to actually engage it, so they have to hold the gun incorrectly and neither one of them can shoot very accurately. So a gun that works great for someone with big hands may not work for everyone else.



MYTH:
Gun shop salesmen are gun experts.

TRUTH:
Saying that a gunshop salesman is a gun expert is the equivalent of saying that a car salesman is a car expert. Some may be, and I know some that are, but some are just salesmen. Before you take a gunshop salesman's word for something, find out what his credentials are. If his only credentials are that he works in a gunshop, then decide for yourself if you think that's good enough. If it is, more power to you.



MYTH:
My brother/uncle/cousin is a cop or in the military, so he is an expert on all types of firearms or an expert shooter.

TRUTH:
I'll start by saying some military personnel and police officers are very gun-knowledgeable, however, many are not. Some military personnel have never even touched a handgun. Many police officers shoot once or twice a year, and then, only because it is required by the department. Some police departments' training is nothing more than giving the recruits a list of drills and then having them stand in a shooting range and shoot those drills over and over until they can pass all the drills.

I can personally assure you that just because someone is in the military or is a police officer does not automatically mean they know much about guns. I have met police officers that can barely pass, and some that can't pass, the requirements of their department, and their department's requirements are, by my standards, very easy, and this is all based on personal experience. I have personally trained a few police officers, and most of the officers I have trained, I trained specifically because they couldn't pass their departments' requirements.

My only point is, don't take a person's opinion as fact solely because he is a police officer. For that matter, don't take anyone's opinion as fact (and yes, I'm including my opinion in that) without doing research on your own.



MYTH:
But I heard "X" from a federal agent. He's a federal aqent, so CLEARLY he's an expert on everything even remotely related to firearms.

TRUTH:
Sorry, but being a federal agent, in and of itself, does not make you an expert, and certainly not an expert on every firearms related subject. A federal agent is a cop, he just happens to be a cop with federal jurisdiction. Yes, federal agents are trained, but lots of people are trained, and being trained doesn't instantly make a person an expert.

This is a good place to mention another odd misconception I've noticed. People tend to have an assumed hierarchy regarding police officers and their knowledge. The assumed order seems to be, from lowest to highest, people who have never been a police officer, local cops, city cops, county cops, state cops, federal cops. Different people and different police officers have different types and amounts of training. While certain agencies tend to be more well trained than others, there is no specific hierarchy that always holds true.



MYTH:
But I know a guy that was in a gunfight, so he is definitely an expert on guns.

TRUTH:
Having been in a gunfight, in and of itself, doesn't make a person an expert on guns. Yes, that person understands what it's like to have been in a gunfight, and understands what it's like to be attacked or shot at, but it doesn't make the person an instant expert on tactics or ballistcs.



MYTH:
I've been shooting for "X" number of years. I clearly know more than (insert some trainer's name here) because I've been shooting since before he knew what a gun was.

TRUTH:
There are a few problems with this. First, when someone says this, the person is usually not that much older than the person they are referring to. Second, the number of years you have been shooting does not, in and of itself, mean that you are more knowledgeable about guns than another person. There are other factors involved than JUST pulling a trigger, including training and experience. Third, while it's certainly true that one person may know more than some particular trainer, the person saying this is usually just a shooter and has had no training or experience or any real reason to say it.



MYTH:
How dare that arrogant SOB tell me I'm wrong about something. I know what I'm talking about!

TRUTH:
Well, here we go with another ego problem. First, most of what many people "know" is plain wrong. Second, because you don't believe something another person says doesn't, in and of itself, mean what that person said is wrong. It just means you choose not to believe it.



MYTH:
What makes you such an expert? You've never been in a gunfight.

TRUTH:
First, I've never made any claim to be an expert, and have specifically stated, several times on this page alone, that I am not an expert. Second, I've had the same training, and actually quite a bit more, than most people that you would consider to be an expert. I'm making no claim to be an expert, but I'm am saying that if the training I've had is good enough for, say a police officer, what makes it any different for me?

As as comparative example, the firearms training for many police academies is about 40-60 hours. I've had more than a thousand hours of training, and I am not talking about shooting matches, but actual structured firearms training, from trainers all over the country, including specialized training from many instructors that teach police departments, federal agents, military, and special forces. Additionally, most police departments require officers to shoot to requalify once or twice each year. I shoot at least once each week, and most weeks, I shoot several times. If considerably less training and range time than I've had makes someone else an expert, why wouldn't what I've had make me at least above average?



MYTH:
Using one incident (when used as an absolute) to prove your opinion is correct.

TRUTH:
Picking one, or even a few, incidents and to prove a point is a bad idea. Just because you can show where something happened doesn't mean it will happen that way every time. For example, just because you can show an incident where a person is shot with a .22 and is immediately stopped, doesn't mean that's what will happen every time or that a .22 makes a great choice for self-defense. Conversely, just because you can show one incident where a person is shot by a .22 and ISN'T stopped, doesn't mean that's what will always happen either.

Also related to this is comparing two incidents. For example, comparing one incident where someone is stopped by a gun to one incident where someone is not stopped by a knife does not prove that a gun is better than a knife. Conversely, comparing one incident where someone is stopped by a knife to one incident where someone isn't stopped by a gun doesn't prove the opposite either. There are numerous cases of various forms of attack, and just pulling out a few select incidents and comparing them doesn't prove anything.



MYTH:
It doesn't matter what terms you use, even when they are incorrect. If I say "clip" everybody knows I mean "magazine," so it doesn't matter.

TRUTH:
You're right. It doesn't matter to people who are uneducated and don't know the difference, but if you want to be taken seriously by people that actually know what they are talking about, it's necessary to use correct terms. Otherwise, people that actually know what they are talking about view you as just another typical ignorant, uneducated idiot who really has no clue.

This is the same concept as saying, "It doesn't matter that my resume was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. The guy knew what I meant, so they will hire me anyway." If your resume contains multiple errors, an HR manager will view you as an illiterate moron.



MYTH:
You ask me for my opinion on something, then you argue with me because you don't like the answer.

TRUTH:
If you don't want honest my opinion on something, don't ask. I've never been one to beat around the bush. Also, I believe people should understand the difference between not agreeing with something and simply not liking an answer, and the difference between fact and opinion. If you ask me about your gun and it's a POS, I'll tell you it's a POS, not because I'm trying be a jerk, but because I want to provide you with proper information so you can make an informed choice.



MYTH:
Wow, you clearly think you are an expert on everything.

TRUTH:
Not hardly. I don't consider myself an expert at all. I merely base my opinions on actual research or experience and not what I've heard, regardless of the evidence, which is what most people do. You don't have to be any kind of expert to look at real life examples and determine that they don't always hold up to commonly accepted ideals. I don't consider myself an expert, however, I'm far beyond "a guy who has a gun permit that thinks he knows a little bit." I am a state certified instructor, and additionally I'm certified by several other organizations other than just the state of Tennessee, and I have spent the last 15 years specifically studying the subject in depth. I constantly study everything I can find about real gunfights, including the actual case files and autopsy reports, and I base my opinions on the information in those reports.



MYTH:
Statistics prove (whatever).

TRUTH:
There are two major problems with this. First, statistics don't prove anything. Statistics indicate trends (basically). Second, statistics aren't absolutes. Five different "experts" can look at a set of statistics and come up with five different conclusions. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say.



MYTH:
You can't shoot a Sig fast.

TRUTH:
Yeah. Keep believing that.



MYTH:
I'm offended by something you've said on this page.

TRUTH:
Don't care. There are millions of websites on the internet. If you don't like my site, feel free to surf right on over to one of those other sites. The purpose of this page is not to masturbate your ego, but to give you truthful information. To quote an internet list-mate: Feel free to put me on your ignore list. I promise I won't miss you.



MYTH:
I don't believe you, because I've heard (whatever).

TRUTH:
The things I have stated here are based on actual physical evidence, actual cases, actual personal experience, or personal research. In life, you are free to believe whatever you want, regardless of what the actual evidence indicates. It's your right to choose not to believe me. ***I TRULY, HONESTLY, REALLY DON'T CARE.***

However, I extend this offer: if you can offer actual, real, verifiable proof that something I have said is wrong, I will correct it and give you credit for it (except where something is clearly an opinion or where you can show a few isolated examples of something) but, before you bother, "I'm a cop" or "I know what I'm talking about" or "My brother-in-law is an expert and he disagrees with you" IS NOT proof of anything, no matter how much you think it is.

This offer applies only to proving that I am blatantly and completely wrong about something. It does not apply to minor corrections or additions, corrections to information that was once correct but has changed (especially regarding laws, since laws change), spelling or grammar corrections, or information that is wrong because I mis-stated or mis-typed something. Also, this website is my private domain. I make the decisions as to what is or is not posted here, however, if you do definitively prove me wrong, I will post it here, because I want people to get the most accurate information possible.




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