Mundane Movements: Making CraigsList Transactions Less Murdery

They planned to drive about 200 miles from their Cobb County home to look at an antique car for sale. But the vintage Ford Mustang didn’t exist.

After four days of searching, investigators said Monday afternoon that two bodies believed to be the couple were found in southeast Georgia…

Craigslist can be a great resource to pick up used goods for not much money. But obviously, it has been used to setup many robberies and some murders. When high dollar items are involved, the other party knows you’ll either have a valuable item or a pocket full of cash. Scumbags can’t resist easy money.

This one happened near me, so I wanted to write my thoughts. It’s not difficult to find ‘how to not get ripped off on Craigslist’ lists out there. Here’s a couple:

This one deals with the electronic security side:

This one makes mention of the in-person, physical side of security:

Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe.

Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.

Be especially careful when buying/selling high-value items.

Tell a friend or family member where you’re going to meet some-one you contacted through Craigslist.

Take your cellphone along with you.

Consider having a friend accompany you during Craigslist purchases.

Trust your instincts.

This is good advice. It’s very vague and hand-wavy advice, but good. Since ‘be especially careful’ is completely non-actionable advice, I’ll try to get a bit more specific to guide you to safer CL transactions. I won’t pussy foot around. I will tell you the most secure way to do a CL transaction. It will involve carrying guns. This is probably something your local newspaper will fail to include in their article about CL security. Mine will augment and detail some of the points from the above list.

  • Tell a third party friend the time and place of the transaction, and give them the phone number that the CL buyer/seller gives you. The bad guy in the above article used a burner phone, but not all bad guys are smart like that.
  • Always take a friend.
  • Always take a gun and wear it concealed during the transaction.
  • Always make sure your friend has a gun too. Discuss your plan if something goes south.
  • When talking to the seller/buyer, have them describe their car ‘so you can spot them coming’. Whether you are early, or late, you can keep an eye for their vehicle and any extra passengers or vehicles.
  • Always plan to arrive 5-10 minutes late (or early) to the transaction. If you’re late, you can pull a quick surveillance run around the parking lot where the transaction will take place. It also will give you an excuse to get a description of the buyer/seller vehicle before you arrive. If you get there early, you have the advantage of monitoring all incoming vehicles to the parking lot and will be able see the number of occupants and if there is more than one vehicle making the same movements in the lot. Look for the number of people in the buyer/seller car and if there are any adjacent vehicles where people are paying attention to you.
  • Use Police Station’s parking lots when possible. If that’s not possible, pick the most public and heavily trafficked lot you can think of. Walmart, Mcdonalds lots, etc. If someone is asking you to meet them at 2am, it might not be a great idea.
  • When you make the transaction, take a page out of the cop’s playbook. Use a ‘contact/cover’ type arrangement. Average Joe won’t notice that your friend is casually leaning on your car or walking around in adjacent parking spots during the transaction. While you’re doing the deal, have your friend outside of the car feigning a phone call or just looking around. Here’s a photo I found of the police technique. One officer is the contact officer who deals with the person, and the other just sort of watches. Think of this when you run a high dollar CL transaction. (1/30 edited this section to clarify).
  • Helmets optional.
  • As you leave, remain aware of people or vehicles moving around your car. Also keep an eye on your rear view mirrors for a few minutes to see if any other cars are tailing you.

All of these steps add zero time to your transaction, take longer to read than perform, and will keep you much safer. I realize it reads like paranoia and like I think I’m a Mall Ninja. It’s hard to convey the tactics any other way, or I would. I realize the probability of you getting robbed/murdered during a CL transaction are very slim, but it’s trivial to add a few precautions that can help guarantee you prevail in the event of a robbery. Besides, statistics are a small comfort when you find yourself to be the rare exception.

Contrast the above story to the one that happened TODAY 1/30/15, also in Georgia.

Parish said the breeder, identified in the DeKalb police incident report as 40-year-old Walter Gonzalez, was initially hesitant to meet the buyer late at night at the home, but did so after the suspect offered him an additional $500.

When the breeder and a second Winder man, Salvador Burgos, arrived with the dog, they saw the suspect and another man standing outside by the garage.

“Mr. Gonzalez got out of the vehicle and met with the suspect near the vehicle,” the incident report states. “After Mr. Gonzalez showed the suspect the dog, the suspect drew his weapon on him.”

According to the report, the suspect, whose name has not been released, then demanded that Burgos get out of the vehicle.

“Mr. Burgos stated that as he moved over from the driver’s side to the passenger side of the vehicle, he drew his firearm and fired upon the suspect,” the report states.

Gonzalez and Burgos told police they left the scene because they were afraid that the other man that was with the suspect would return, but stopped a short distance away and called police.

Responding officers found the suspect dead in the front yard of the home.

So our good guy took a friend…with a gun…and didn’t get killed and put the bad guy in the ground.

Which story do you want written about you? Planning isn’t paranoia.

Stay Safe and go get a sweet deal on a used treadmill,

Defensive Daddy.

Note: Edited 1/30/15 with a new news story and clarification of the tactics I mention.

Hardening the Home, Part 1: A ‘Case’ Study

This article will be about how to evaluate your home’s curb appeal to burglars and other scumbags who want to take your stuff and kick your door in while you’re watching TV at night. It will be holistic approach that will build layer upon layer of security without spending an inordinate amount of money. I will be using my house as a ‘case’ study (without giving away too many personal security details) to illustrate the methodology for doing this. In future posts, I’ll highlight the specific upgrades that I’ve done to deselect and harden my home from criminals.

Mission: Systematically evaluate our own homes for vulnerabilities and weaknesses to burglaries, and then harden our homes both physically and by projecting strength with simple budget minded improvements.

What are Burglars looking for when they are choosing a target?

I had been researching and reminding myself about all of the home invasion and burglary statistics I could find over the last several weeks. Then, like a tactical angel, Greg Ellifritz shared a very timely post with some stats and information that was new to me (and more recent). In it, he links to a really neat study “Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective”. I encourage you to read Greg’s summary of the study so you can get an idea of what sort of person we’re looking at, what they want, how they choose their targets, and what deters them.

For this article, we’re only really interested in what deters them. Here’s a quote from the study,

“Close proximity of other people (including traffic, those walking nearby, neighbors, people inside the establishment, and police officers), lack of escape routes, and indicators of increased security (alarm signs, alarms, dogs inside, and outdoor cameras or other surveillance equipment) was considered by most burglars when selecting a target”

“About 60% of the burglars indicated that the presence of an alarm would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether. This was particularly true among the subset of burglars that were more likely to spend time deliberately and carefully planning a burglary.”

We want to use these facts, and our own common sense to deter and deselect our homes from burglaries and harden against home invasion. To summarize:

The Layered Approach

In order to successfully deter this sort of crime, we need to have a layered approach. We need to project our security to the street, to dissuade bad guys who are ‘shopping’ for a home to burglarize. We must physically harden the points of entry so that if we DO get chosen, we make the entry as difficult as possible. If we can’t harden a point of entry, we have to provide ourselves an early warning to the intrusion. We must lastly have our safe room prepared so that we can have place to make our last stand.

Case Your Own House

  • Walk as far away from your house as you can while still maintaining a view of your house. How far away can you be and still see your home? If you have woods, walk into the tree line, and see what you can see. What doors, windows, entrances can you make out? Are there any shrubs or bushes that block your view of a window or door? Are there any windows without shades or blinds that you can see into? If someone were standing in these perimeter points, would they have a reason to be there besides casing your house (across the street at gas station, for instance)? In urban areas, look to see if you see evidence of people loitering in these observation points (cig butts, spit, empty cans, etc.)
The large magnolia generally occludes the view from the street. This house was purchased partly because it sits in a cul de sac, in a quiet neighborhood, has a brick front, and large trees spaced around the house for privacy.
  • Now as you walk back, look at routes towards your house. Are there any obvious routes towards the entrances? Are there any natural or man-made obstacles in the way? Anything that would have to be disturbed that you would notice out of place if someone moved towards your house? Are there any fences or natural obstacles? Would these fences hide nefarious activities?
  • Look into your windows. What can you see around shades, between blinds, and through the side lights around the front door? Do you see anything of value like your computer, office, TV, so on. Where could you hide right up against the house that can’t be seen from the inside?
  • Have a friend walk around the perimeter of your house while you stand in different rooms of the house. Where can you see them as they approach the house? Are there any routes that keep them hidden as they approach? How close can they get before you hear them? What does the front porch sound like when someones walking on it? How about the crunchy pea gravel behind the house? Pay attention to how things sound when someone is encroaching on the house.
  • Look at where your external lights illuminate. Are there areas that your motion sensing floods don’t reach? Remember, you want to illuminate both areas you can see, and those you can’t.
The “Dark Side of the House”. A few entrances, not many lights, minimal view from inside the house. This is the area that I would ‘harden’ first. And have…
  • Look for overgrown shrubs and trees that could hide a bad guy’s movement. Trim the hedges back so that you can see the windows from the road. Burglars aren’t in the business of being seen.
That evergreen to the left of the stairs has to go. It blocks the front door (framed in side-lights) from view of the road. The bushes on the right are also getting too tall.


Now I want you to find your house on google.maps. Take a screenshot of the aerial view and paste it into MS Paint. Draw lines that correspond to your view from inside the house looking out. Also draw lines that show where your flood lights or spot lights shine. You will quickly get an idea of the areas that demand attention first. You will see the obvious approach routes, and the places that would be darkest for a bad guy to work. You can get quite elaborate here. You could document which bushes need to be trimmed, where you need shades in the house, and so on.

 arialhouseIn Closing

This is the first step in hardening your house. Think like a bad guy as much as you can. Be devious. Where would you break in? When would you break in? You have to build a plan to break in. Then you have to shut down your own plan with some simple and inexpensive upgrades. We have quickly evaluated how enticing our house looks to potential bad guys. In subsequent posts we will discuss simple tactics to bluff that you have more security than you do, some hardware associated with hardening the house, early warning systems, lighting choices, and the safe practices and the mindset it takes to keep ahead of home invaders and burglars.

Protect the Brood,

Defensive Daddy


Jim Grover, “Street Smarts, Firearms, & Personal Security”

The Bell-Curve: Shooting Practice by the Odds

This post is another in the theme of getting the most utility out of a very limited training time and budget. In the first article, I tried to give the general structure of how I allocate training and practice time to the different sub-disciplines I deem important for defense of my family and myself (you should pick yours based on your situation) . In this post, we will look at the most probable armed citizen encounters and then we can associate some skill building exercises and drills to help guarantee we are ‘good enough’ to handle most situations. I know a lot of people will take issue with only reaching for the “lowest rung of the ladder”, but hear me out first. I feel a person should always hold themselves to a higher standard in any discipline they choose to pursue, but to many people the next step in shooting is an unsolvable quagmire of conflicting messages from youtube, movies, gun-rag articles, and the tacticool gurus who are out of touch with the realities of the truly average gun owner. So this article could be used as the jumping point to escape “I know which end is the dangerous end” skill levels to whatever level of proficiency you choose to acquire.

First, some background:

There seems to be a huge gap in the knowledge base and skill-set of shooters in the training community. I’m talking about the sub-set of folks between the most basic of NRA shooters and the training junkies. There is a middle ground of people who realize they need to know more, but don’t know where to start. Others in this group own a gun and mistakenly think of it as a talisman which will ward off evil by it’s mere presence (to be honest, a lot of times it does, but I won’t let you off that easy). It’s our job to recognize we are not as good as we think we are and we must have the metacognition to escape from the Dunning-Kruger effect. I’m writing this entry for all of the above groups.

These people (possibly you) don’t necessarily want to be tossed into a 2 day, 1000 round shooting extravaganza. You might only want or have time for a single day of instruction. You might only have time for a single range trip every other month. We have families and strict budgets but we know that we need more than basic instruction. What, then, are the most critical skills to prevail in a defensive gun use with minimal round counts and maximal learning opportunities? You could probably imagine several shooters who could use this information. For instance, my wife, my mother, and my father all fit this profile. How can we get them ‘good enough’ to win most of the time?

Mission: To find and establish a ‘most probable’ set of skills (and drills to practice) based on real armed citizen encounters.

First, I’m an engineer. If you ask me how to find a formula or table, my job is to know how to find the data in a book or database and then try to apply it to the situation. I suppose I do that with this self-defense thing. We as shooters have access to huge pools of raw data in the form of articles, news clips, and  also researchers who like to compile this sort of info. We would be foolish to not take advantage of these great resources. In the interest of maintaining my sanity and free time, I rely on the aggregators to do the work. I also trust in the great minds that have come ahead of me and filter their recommendations through my own experiences, situation, skill-set, and available training resources. Do the same for yourself.

Here is The Tactical Professor’s page of links to different shootings you can study.

Here is Reddit’s Defensive Gun Use subreddit. You can quickly scroll through and find hundreds of recent defensive gun uses, including bad shoots.

Here is Guns Save Lives. With over 1200 cataloged DGUs. You can divide it by caliber, location, number of bad guys, and so on. It’s great.

The most Probable Distance:

Here’s a great article from Tom Givens of

The majority of these incidents involved an armed robbery, which I believe is probably the most likely scenario for armed self-defense by private citizen. … the typical armed robbery occurs at anywhere from two or three steps, to roughly the length of a car — between the robber and his victim. That is, then, about three to seven yards typically, or say nine to 21′ or so. This is the distance at which most of my students have had to use their guns. I believe we should do the bulk of our training and practice at these “most likely” distances.

So it would appear that our most probable shooting distance would be between 3 and 5 yards. This is if you carry a gun concealed (I hope you are, please do). If you only have a house gun, you should practice distances that range from 3 yards, up to the longest distance in your home. You have to tailor this stuff to your reality.

The most useful Target Size:

Given the geometry of the human heart and upper lung fields, a great target size is a 5″ diameter circle. A sharpie marker and an old CD make cheap circles. Draw an aiming point in the center and you have a good target. The smaller your point of aim, the smaller your group size will tend to be. “Aim small; Miss small”, right?

For the ocular cavity, a 3×5 notecard makes for a great target to simulate this area. You can draw some eyeballs on the card if you’re fancy, or just shoot at The Tactical Professor’s eyeball target.

cranial vault


The Most Important Shooting Skill:

I personally think the single best shooting skill you can hone to a fine edge is the draw to a single shot. This is assuming you carry a gun everyday.  If you only keep a gun unloaded in your safe, or in a nightstand, then you need to practice from this condition. Practice picking the gun off of the table, rack the slide and do your shooting. There is literally no sense wasting time and money on holsters and mag pouches if you will only ever use these things for training. The condition that you choose to keep your firearms is none of my business, or anyone else’s. But they are your business. You need to get repetitions getting your weapons into action, however you chose to keep them.

After the first shot, the shooting problem gets much more complicated. Watch any CCTV video of a shooting. Once pistols start discharging, everyone starts moving faster. This makes hitting things even harder, so you might as well get really really good at that first shot. This is not to say that you should only work single shots from the holster. In fact, I think there’s a better ‘base line’ drill that requires multiple shots. Just make sure you put time in on this. If you are shooting your .22 Special Application Rifle, then you’ll want to consider starting your drill from whatever condition you keep your rifle. For example, I’m having my wife start with an empty chamber, mag in, safety on. She’s getting reps of manipulating the rifle as it rests in the closet at home as she’s getting reps of the shooting. Kill as many birds with as few stones as possible.

The Most Important Defensive Skill:

The most important thing you can do with a gun in your hand is learn to think and make rational decisions. As a result, decisional shooting drills must be part of your practice in some way. If all you ever do is do a smoking fast draw to a headshot, well maybe that’s all you’ll ever do when it counts. The problem is, the right choice might have been to draw and hold the scumbag at gunpoint and walk him out of your house and let the cops do their job and handle him. Thinking with a gun in your hand is a necessary skill.

The Pressure of Time:

Time is the least definable aspect of this whole thing. I will generally default to the drill designers for par times. Par times are a great way to add stress to an otherwise carefree drill. I encourage you to download a par timer for your smart phone. The timer adds a stress that is very valuable to an entry level (any level) shooter. The par times should be generous, but still provide motivation and urgency to execute the shooting cleanly and efficiently. I find that a shot timer is nice when you have access to a private range, but public indoor ranges (the norm in Atlanta) are loud and shot timers are hit or miss.

What about Reloads? One Handed-Shooting? Stoppage reduction?

Reloads, one hand shooting, and clearing malfunctions have a very very low chance of occurring during the already improbable chance that you’ll need to get your gun out in public. That said, I’ll throw in a drill that you can do to get a few repetitions of these things so that if you need to do it under the stress of a real DGU, you have been there before in your mind, and hopefully can make it work in the moment.

I encourage you to read Claude Werner’s (The Tactical Professor) great article about the same topic: What skills should we train and practice?; you will see Claude’s influence on my thinking when approaching this problem. I owe a lot of my current approach to firearms training to conversations we’ve had. Here’s a data table from the article.

What I was looking for this time was the skills and techniques that were used by The Armed Citizens to solve their problems. Each incident was looked at from the perspective of skills that could or might be taught in an entry level to intermediate level firearms training class. Here’s what the list and usage rates ended up looking like from 10% up and 0%:

  • Retrieve from Storage (handgun)                32%
  • Move safely from place to place at ready    22%
  • Draw to shoot                                        20%
  • Challenge from ready                                  15%
  • Intervene in another’s situation                  15%
  • Draw to challenge                                        12%
  • Engage from ready (handgun)                     12%
  • Hold at gunpoint until police arrive              12%
  • Retrieve from Storage (unknown)               10%
  • Shoot with non-threats downrange            10%
  • Retrieve from Storage (rifle)                        0%
  • Reload                                                  0%

So despite how much it’s stressed in most classes, it’s very unlikely that you will need to do a reload in a gunfight. But you see that you should be practicing opening your safe quickly, or drawing to shooting.

The Drills

I’m legitimately open to your input for changes here. I want to cover enough drills that will use about 100-150 rounds of ammunition, take a little over an hour to shoot, and cover most of the bases that need covering.

  • Gila Hayes (modification by C. Werner) from Effective Defense– 5x5x5 (mod: 5^5 drill) 5 shots, 5 seconds, 5″ circle, 5 yards, 5 times in a row (Claude’s contribution). This is just such a simple drill to setup, remember, and touches on nearly all of the “average” gun fight skill-sets. Mrs. Hayes uses it as a qualifier to demonstrate when a person can shoot their chosen carry handgun well enough to carry. If you can’t pass the 5x5x5 with your mouse gun in .25 acp, then you should consider a different gun. When you have someone shoot this drill with a weapon with mounted light, have them activate the light before they shoot this drill. They will get practice with the shooting, as well as manipulating the light so they don’t shoot someone they don’t mean to. (25 rounds)
  • Claude Werner’s (The Tactical Professor) evil eyeballs drill. This will give you practice on low probability (either tiny or far) targets. It forces you to concentrate on trigger and sights, and practice from both the holster and from a low ready. Also, nothing builds confidence like when you start punching the pupil meat out of the eyeballs. (10 shots)TARG-Claude's Evil Eyes
  • Claude Werner’s Self Directed Decisional Shooting Drill. Claude uses this drill in his decision based shooting classes. I’ve come up with a way to shoot it by yourself and still get the benefit. Buy a few of each of these targets, or make reduced sizes for printing on 8.5″x11″ paper. Target A, Target B, Target C. Then, write the following on individual 3×5 notecards:
    • Red
    • Yellow
    • Blue
    • Green
    • Triangle
    • Square
    • Circle
    • Heart
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7

Drill goes like:

If it’s a number you flip over, shoot the corresponding numbered shapes with one shot. If the number isn’t on your target, draw and hold at a low ready. If it’s a color you flip over, shoot the number of shots written in each shape of that color. If the color isn’t on your target, then draw and hold at a low ready. If it’s a shape you flip over, shoot the number of shots written on each shape that you flipped over. If that shape isn’t on your target, then draw to a low ready. You can add task loading to this by adding a verbalization aspect to the low ready hold. You can add dummy rounds into your magazines. You can also draw multiple cards, and force yourself to remember several cards before engaging. This can be a brain melter. (round count varies)

  • Here’s another decisional shooting drill from Travis Haley:
  • The Dot Torture Drill – Here’s a link to the drill. This drill is a good one to do once every few months. Keep your old targets and compare your performance. Start at 3 yards and bump it back 1/2 or a yard once you can shoot it clean at 3 yards. This drill will have you working some strong hand, weak hand, reloads, transitions, and multiple shots on low probability targets. Even though the statistics don’t seem to show that many reloads or weak hand shooting happens in DGU’s, it’s still useful to know what it feels like to do those things. The first time you need to make a weak hand only shot shouldn’t be during a gun fight. (50 rounds)

Don’t fall into the trap of just ‘training the drill’. Here’s a great article about that topic. These drills should be an audit of your skills. Or in some cases, a baseline standard for what is ‘good enough’ to allow you to get through ‘average’ gunfights or armed encounters. I really think that these drills cover the most important shooting skills that will satisfy the 80/20 rule.

Other Resources for Drills:

If you want your head to explode from the sheer number of drills, here’s some more resources:

A great book by Michael Seeklander – Your Defensive Handgun Training Program

In closing:

While these drills are a great start and the bell-curve of shootings seems to be pretty clear when looking at huge pools of data, there are outliers. It is in these rarest of rare instances that your level of proficiency and selection of tools will be the dividing line. John from Ballistic Radio just wrote about this. Ultimately, you must hold yourself to a higher standard and push to the limits that you are capable of pushing.

After all,

…Statistics are cold comfort after you discover that your case is the rare exception.

Jeff Cooper – Principles of Personal Defense

Thank you for reading this long post. I felt it was important and I needed to get it out. I hope you enjoyed it and got something from it. Please share it with your friends and use it to help people out of the murky depths of unconscious incompetence. Please subscribe to the blog, and shop through the G.U.G. Amazon Store click-thru to help support the blog.

Stay Safe and Protect the Brood,

Defensive Daddy

Lessons from Negative Defensive Gun Use Outcomes and How to Train to Avoid Them

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke

It appears that we as citizen gun owners have a bit of a flaw when it comes to learning from defensive gun uses. Everyone likes to read a happy outcome to a defensive gun use. We cheer for a righteous shoot and are certain we would and could do the same thing if the situation demanded it. It becomes a sort of confirmation bias, where we believe our fight will look the same, and result in the same positive outcome and everything will but cut and dry. We also tend to pass judgement or ignore all of the negative outcomes of defensive gun uses. Specifically the legal outcomes. We have to learn from others’ mistakes and do our best to keep ourselves out of those situations, or enable us to not fall into the same pitfalls that others have.For instance, I’ve caught myself saying, “How did that guy not know it was his daughter and her boyfriend in the garage?, I would never do that…” Well, friend, unless you figure out what went wrong, there’s no guarantee you won’t make that very same mistake. Then it could be you with your loved one’s blood on your hands, or a life sentence in prison.

In fact, I think the best thing we can spend our time researching is bad defensive gun uses. The FBI documents this very well for police in the LEOKA. I personally credit The Tactical Professor for getting me thinking about the large number of bad citizen DGUs that occur.

Learn where the situations took wrong turns, where the laws were broken, and what the laws are in your area. You will be held to these laws if you ever need to go to court over a shooting. Brainstorm and war-game with these laws in mind. I look for gun usages that end up in a conviction and then go back to read about the situation that developed which put the shooter in the position that allowed them to make a bad decision. I also try to uncover, as best I can, what their mental process was when they decided to bring the gun into play (if provided by the news). I’m going to go through some recent bad shootings and we’ll briefly look at the situations and the outcomes, and then see if we can find trends and how we can train ourselves to not make the same mistakes.

Mission: Learn from Bad Defensive Gun Uses and integrate the lessons into our personal shooting programs and training.

First Example:


[M]an who shot an intruder outside his Dunkirk home was found guilty of a felony charge Thursday by a Jay County jury.

“I yelled for him to stop and freeze,” McLaughlin said. “He did not. … It was so fast I really didn’t know what was going on.”

“Were you in fear for your life?” defense attorney Jill Gonzalez asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” her client responded. “That’s why I fired. … I know I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The defendant said his gunshots were in response to arm movements that made him believe the fleeing trespasser was preparing to open fire with a gun of his own.

“I thought he was aiming back to shoot at me,” McLaughlin said.

Jay County Prosecutor Wesley Schemenaur maintained McLaughlin had made no such claims in interviews with police.

Schemenaur asked McLaughlin what immediate threat to his family’s safety had been posed by an intruder in a detached garage.

“What’s to say they’ll not try to get into my house next, sir?” the defendant responded.

I don’t pretend to know what was actually going through this man’s head. However, going to investigate a bump in the night in a detached garage was clearly his first error. Shooting without identifying what was in the man’s hands was another mistake. Being untrained and thinking it was OK to shoot at the time might have been another, if that’s indeed the case.

Second Example:


Inside the drugstore, Ersland shot Parker in the head, knocking Parker to the floor. Surveillance videos show he then chased after a fleeing Ingram, came back inside the drugstore, got a second gun and shot Parker five more times.

This is an older story, but Ersland made his mistake when he came back into the store after the initial good shoot and delivered the coup de grâce to the already injured Parker. He now is in Prison. Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. You must shoot when you need to shoot, and stop shooting when you need to stop.


Third Example:

When she heard the chair sliding against the floor, she assumed it was an intruder and grabbed a loaded .22-caliber revolver she kept by the bed and fired one shot in the dark toward the door.

She assumed it was an intruder, and then proceeded to fire into the dark.

Fourth Example:

A man popped into a store Wednesday evening–and when he returned to the parking lot, someone was driving away in his car.

The victim fired a few shots at his own vehicle, but the suspect was able to get away.

He fired at his moving car, defending property as it drove away. Don’t go to prison or get charged over a car or a TV set.

Fifth example:

During further investigation, police determined that just before the original 911 call, the homeowner was preparing to get ready for work and heard his interior alarm sound indicating the garage door had been opened.

Police said as the homeowner was approaching the interior garage, he heard a bang and sounds coming from inside the garage, grabbed a firearm and approached the garage door. As he opened the door, police say he observed a person coming towards him, raised his gun and shot the person. The homeowner determined that he had just shot his 16-year-old daughter who was attempting the sneak back into the residence after sneaking out earlier that morning without him knowing, according to police.

This poor guy failed to identify targets and had no way to see in low light. I’ll go on a limb and say that this man had previously made up his mind that, ‘if that garage alarm goes off, some scumbag is in my garage, and I’m going to go out there with my gun and…’ He already had brainstormed his solution. He failed to war-game the scenario where it was his teenager sneaking back in after a night out.

Sixth Example:

“When the vehicle was stolen, it was parked at the TA truck stop. It was unlocked, unoccupied, the keys were in the vehicle and it was running. At no point was no force used to take this vehicle,” …Keck told dispatch the car belonged to his mother and he was chasing the thief … [the] vehicle Bricker was driving came to a stop and that’s when Keck shot Bricker in the face and killed him. Officials said the shooting was not justified…The deceased never fired a shot, he was not armed at any time during the incident,” Parker said.

Again we have a pursuit over property, murder, and no weapon in the victim’s possession. Also, like in the other car theft story above, we have keys left in a running car.

Seventh Example:

Authorities said that the man shot his wife in the head because he thought someone was breaking into their house.

Lack of identification of target, possibly related to low light conditions (5:15am).

Eighth Example:

police shot and critically wounded an off-duty officer as he pointed a gun at a suspect outside a fast food restaurant early Saturday, authorities said.

Coming up to a scene where you have no frame of reference and deciding to shoot the person who has a gun out or is on top of someone else and punching them is a terrible idea. If you don’t know the whole story, don’t ride in on your white horse with guns blazing. It’s time to just be a good witness. There can be counter-examples of this, but they are rare indeed.

Let Us Boil It Down:

We have a cross section of BAD defensive gun uses. These weren’t cherry picked, they were literally the eight most recent articles I could find on bad gun uses. You can feel free to dig for more. You’ll see the same mistakes being made over and over. Here’s the top 5 I see:

  1. Lack of identification of target and decisional shooting (training/gear issue)
  2. Unnecessary pursuit (training issue)
  3. Lack of ability to identify target (gear issue)
  4. Defense of property, where there was no intent, ability, or opportunity to do bodily harm to the good guy (training/ignorance of law)
  5. Lack of ability or desire to present gun and hold someone at gunpoint, rather than just immediately start shooting (training issue)
  6. Intervening in someone else’s fight (training issue)

Some ideas to avoid these pitfalls:

  • Carry A Flashlight!!!!!!!!!!! Have a damn flashlight in your pocket, and on your gun if possible. This is not up for debate. If you have a home defense rifle or shotgun, you must have a flashlight on it. If you have a home defense pistol, you must have a handheld light sitting next to it. Purchasing this simple (and highly useful) tool can save lives. It also lets you see where you dropped your remote under the couch, which is nice. If you can afford it, get a flashlight that uses lithium batteries CR123A Lithium Batteries, because they have tremendous shelf life and higher energy capacity. You can also get a Rechargeable Kit which will save money in the long run. Invest in a quality flashlight and it will treat you well and could keep you out of prison. Here’s a nice list of flashlights in the G.U.G. Amazon store that either I or people who I trust have owned and carried. Much like your gun, it only works when you’re carrying it, so chose one that you don’t mind having in a pocket or purse all the time. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Please get yourself a flashlight, and take a low-light shooting course.
  • Practice Decision Shooting. I encourage you to take courses in this, or you can find drills that you can shoot at the range which force you think before you shoot (in future post will list drills I like for this). The shooting part is easy, it’s the decisions that have to be made in the moment that will bog you down and could force a bad choice. Thinking with a gun in your hand is not natural and requires training.
  • Don’t shoot people for stealing stuff. It just doesn’t work out. Even if you are legally justified to do so, you still have to live the rest of your life knowing you blasted some guy for driving away in your truck. You might be really mad, but let it go man. It’s just stuff.
  • Practice ‘draw to hold’ in your shooting. Sometimes when you draw, draw to a low ready or compressed ready instead of immediately putting one in the target’s heart. You need to know what it feels like to draw and stop at a low ready. Often (usually) just the presentation of a gun is enough to diffuse a dangerous situation. Opportunistic predators don’t want a fight, they want the easy lunch. Be prepared to show them you have the intent to shoot them, but have the restraint to hold. Don’t invite The Man into your life by shooting someone when you don’t need to.
  • Practice Verbalization. When you’re dryfiring and practicing your ‘draw to hold’, begin planning what you’re going to say as a challenge. Something as simple as “Stop!” or “Stop! Don’t come any closer!” or “Get away, I have a gun!”. You have to get used to talking with a gun in your hands. This is harder than it might sound. It feels funny to yell and project your voice in an aggressive way (it is for me). If you don’t practice, anything could come out of your mouth. Having a verbalization ‘tape recorder’ in your head is crucial, because without one, you’re bound to say whatever you make up on the spot. Which would you rather a witness hear? “Stop, don’t come any closer” or “Die Mothafucka!”. You get the idea. In some cases, which will probably be very clear to you at the time, no speaking will be necessary. Just the shooting.
  • Sometimes it’s best to do nothing, be a good witness, and keep the gun holstered. Don’t invite yourself into someone else’s troubles. You will draw your own line in the sand here. Just make sure you understand what can happen if you’re wrong.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I plan on compiling a nice list of drills that will help us work on some of the above issues at the range. As you can see though, a lot of these problems are not shooting problems, but thinking ones. Reflect on that well.


Until next time, Protect your brood.

Defensive Daddy.