In 2014 I was having a conversation with my friend, Rich Nelson. At the time he was a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. More specifically, he was the Administrative Deputy for Lake Forest and spent a good chunk of his time here at Artemis, both in his law enforcement capacity, as well as being an instructor.
The 9th Circuit had just handed down the three-judge panel in Peruta v San Diego, and the Orange County Sheriff had decided to begin issuing CCW permits to applicants who simply stated they had a “general interest in self-defense”.
Rich and I were talking about the greater social implications of this, and we were both thrilled that (at least in Orange County at the time) residents would be able to exercise a fundamental civil right (through a circuitous route to be sure… but at least things were moving in the right direction).
I remember telling Rich this was “the beginning”. I had no way of being able to foresee the 9th’s reversal of Peruta, let alone the decision in NYSRPA v Bruen… but the foundational principles were there and were slowly being built upon.
During that conversation, Rich had a momentary pause. His optimism was tempered by a certain level of concern:
“Steven, there is one thing that has me a little worried.”
“What’s that, Rich?”
“In most states where people have CCWs… well… those are gun states… they are gun people… they have been exposed to firearms and shooting their whole lives.”
“It’s different here in California. Many of the people who are going to get CCWs here have never held a gun before. I am concerned the cultural safeguards that are in place in gun culture states may not be present here.”
“Yeah, I get where you are coming from, another reason to insist on training.”
Looking back on that conversation, Rich was insightful, if geographically slightly off.
Throughout the intervening years, the number of CCW holders (this also includes LTC holders in other states, as well as those who have the option of “Constitutional Carry” if their states have opted for that approach) has grown considerably.
Last week I was shown a video of a middle-aged man in Florida getting into an altercation with the driver of a vehicle. (The video was actually captured from his own home security camera).
In the video you see this “gentleman” walk across the street and slap the back of a parked car in his neighbor’s driveway. Evidently, the offending driver was in the process of attempting a three-point-turn and had used both his driveway, as well as the neighbor’s driveway, in her attempt to turn her vehicle back in the other direction.
The fact this horrific woman had the audacity to drive on this man’s driveway should be patently obvious to anyone that she absolutely had to be confronted! His sense of honor had been seriously attacked! SHE USED HIS DRIVEWAY FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!
So… bonehead waddles across the street (in his shorts and flip flops… because…yeah), slaps the back of her car and screams something at her.
This causes the woman to get out of the car arms outstretched in a sign of incredulity and clearly communicate something towards the moron as he marches back to his driveway, his sacred honor being salvaged by confronting this middle-aged woman.
She follows him, clearly still irate that he slapped her car and he immediately pivots, draws a gun from the pocket of his shorts (because… yeah), and points the gun directly at her forehead.
This is in Florida… a free state, a state that putatively has an established gun culture. Now in fairness, it also has a lot of recent transplants and it is entirely possible the slob recently moved to Florida from an anti-gun state. That said: Jesus, man!!! WTF?!?!
Rich was both right and wrong in his initial assessment. Yes, there may be an absence of a gun culture that makes these acts somewhat more frequent. But, I would suggest, there is a greater amount of lack of training that really is the problem, more specifically, the appropriate type of training.
We have clients who come to Artemis specifically because they are looking for simulation-based judgmental use-of-force training. That is fine, and I completely understand that, but training exists on a much broader spectrum than learning how to make a gun go bang, or even analyzing specific hypothetical scenarios. Both are fundamentally essential, but also fundamentally inadequate.
We, as trainers, throughout this entire industry must resolve that our mission is not to simply train individuals to shoot, but rather to guide our students in the development of “professionalism-at-arms”.
Of course, you have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. But as you’ve heard me say countless times before: With all rights come responsibilities. With this right…the bearing of arms outside of your home, you have more than a simple responsibility…you have a moral mandate. You need to be training, training constantly, consistently, repetitively, and with purpose.