First: bravo to the three Americans who took down an armed terrorist on a French train. Those men are true heroes, and as a National Guard soldier myself I’m extremely proud that one is a fellow Guardsman. I have nothing but praise for them, and hope to shake their hands someday.


Having said that, and I’m in no way detracting from their bravery or heroism, but they got lucky. Many factors gave them the opportunity to rush and take down the attacker. As a combat vet, former active shooter response instructor and longtime cop, when I heard about the attack and the Americans (and others) who stopped it, my reaction was, “Those guys are incredibly brave,” followed quickly by “And it’s a damn good thing they’re still alive, because they could have easily lost.”

I think most of us with a tactical background understand this was something of a fluke. Generally speaking, you don’t bring a nothing to a gunfight and expect to win. It can happen, but you don’t make “use your bare hands to take down a guy with an AK-47” your Plan A. I know this because I have training, experience, and a brain. The blithering idiots at Addicting Info, however, looked at this fluke, consulted fellow blithering idiots who know nothing about lethal force, and published an article titled Proving The Best Defense Is A Good Guy WITHOUT A Gun, Unarmed U.S. Soldiers Foil French Gunman.

I’m pretty sure Addicting Info’s writers are literally the dumbest people on earth.

I don’t know much about AI’s writers or editors. I haven’t seen their IQ test results. I’m sure they’re all educated, and probably know many things about important topics like white privilege or microaggressions. But anyone who believes you’re better off unarmed when someone tries to shoot you with an AK has to be dumber than Forrest Gump. You have to be pretty far down the intelligence scale to write drivel like this:

“The least surprising thing about Friday’s events in France is the fact that the shooter was stopped by unarmed good samaritans. The idea that the best weapon against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun is pure NRA propaganda… It’s tough to imagine how things might have turned out differently if the two good samaritans were armed on that French train. Multiple guns would have just added to the chaos and potentially to the injury or body count.”

I guess if armed cops had been on that train, they would have been wrong to draw and fire. Since added chaos, more injured and dead, yada yada. Unassailable logic like that explains why police never ever use guns when they encounter mass murderers.

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If this unarmed takedown of a mass murderer “proves” unarmed defense is best, then all the following unsuccessful mass-murderer takedown attempts prove unarmed defense actually isn’t the “best defense”:

  • At the 1991 Killeen Luby’s massacre, unarmed restaurant patron Al Gratia charged mass murderer George Henard. Henard shot and killed him, then killed Gratia’s wife as she cradled her dead husband.
  • At Columbine, a 15-year old named Daniel Mauser pushed a chair at Eric Harris after Harris shot and wounded him. He was the only Columbine victim to resist in any way. Harris responded by shooting Mauser in the face, killing him.
  • At Sandy Hook Elementary, principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were unarmed and approached Adam Lanza, ordering him to stop. He killed them both, then murdered four more adults and twenty children.
  • At the Santana High School shooting in California in 2001, an unarmed school security supervisor approached an armed 15-year old who had just murdered two students. The 15-year old shot the supervisor five times, then shot him again in the back when he turned and walked away.
  • At a high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in 2005, a student killed five students, a teacher and an unarmed security guard. One student fought back inside a classroom and stabbed the shooter in the stomach with a pencil. The shooter shot him three times in the face and neck, then continued shooting other students.
  • In 2006 at a high school in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, an unarmed principal and custodian wrestled a shotgun away from a student who walked into the school intent on committing murder. The student then pulled a pistol and shot the principal, who later died.
  • During the 2009 Fort Hood Massacre, three unarmed soldiers tried separately to charge Hasan. Two were killed, one was badly wounded.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that being unarmed when an aspiring mass murderer is shooting at you kind of sucks. While there have been numerous incidents where unarmed people took down armed murderers (for example, at the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona), that wasn’t because “the best way to take down a mass murderer is by physically attacking him”. In some cases, as in the Giffords shooting, the shooter can be in such close proximity to you that even if you’re armed, the best option is to wrestle his weapon away rather than draw your own.

I’m a cop and I’ve always got a gun; if I’m minding my own business in a convenience store and a criminal with a pistol suddenly comes around the corner, and is within arm’s reach, the best thing to do is probably attempt to disarm him before he can shoot me. I’ll go for my gun eventually, but the first priority is to get control of the criminal’s gun. THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT’S ALWAYS BEST TO GO HAND-TO-HAND AGAINST A GUN. It just means that not every situation is the same, and sometimes you don’t have time to go for a weapon. In almost every incident where unarmed people took down an armed murderer, it was because they had no other options. It wasn’t because they were better off unarmed.

I also notice that Addicting Info’s writers – tactical masterminds that they are – chose to ignore an extremely pertinent piece of information about why the three Americans were able to take down the terrorist in France: the terrorist’s weapon had malfunctioned, and he didn’t know how to clear it. At the time the men tackled him, he was holding an inoperable weapon. That gave the three Americans time to rush, disarm and beat the man unconscious.

Spencer Stone, one of the men who took down the terrorist, said, “I turned around and I saw he had what looked to be an AK-47, and it looked like it was jammed or wasn’t working.” Alek Skartalos, the National Guardsman, added, “He clearly had no firearms training whatsoever. If he knew what he was doing, or even just got lucky… we would have all been in trouble and probably wouldn’t be here today — along with a lot of other people.”

The failed French train attacker was like many mass murderers: untrained, unskilled, able to operate a weapon and kill defenseless victims but incapable of actually fighting. When his weapon malfunctioned, which semi- or fully-automatic weapons often do, he was clueless (this also happened with James Holmes during the Aurora theater shooting and with the Clackamas Mall shooter in Oregon). The aspiring terrorist’s complete lack of training and ability allowed three young, strong men, two of whom had military training and one of whom was an Afghanistan veteran, to take him down. As far as terrorist attacks go, it was nearly perfect. An incompetent idiot wanted to be a terrorist but sucked at it, and just happened to be near heroic men who didn’t hesitate to beat him senseless.

Do the morons at Addicting Info expect this in every attack? Do they think this perfect storm will happen every time? Or do they hate guns so much, and hate anyone who doesn’t hate guns so much, that they literally believe it’s better to be slaughtered in a terrorist attack than commit the evil act of returning fire? Are they too idiotic to realize this attack failed because the terrorist had about as much skill with a weapon as the entire staff of Addicting Info combined?

I’m really looking forward to Addicting Info’s next series of articles:

“Man with no seat belt survives fiery crash, proving you shouldn’t wear a seat belt!”

“My grandma is 100 years old and smokes every day, proving cigarettes make you live longer!”

“Unvaccinated child doesn’t get whooping cough, proving vaccines are unnecessary!”

“High school dropout becomes millionaire, proving all kids should drop out of school!”

“I had sex without birth control once and didn’t get pregnant, proving nobody needs birth control!”

Addicting Info writers, here’s a sincere invitation: meet me in Texas, and I’ll explain the realities of mass shootings. I’ll take you to the range. I’ll put you through scenario training. I’ll teach you about survival stress reactions. I’m serious about this. Come down, and I’ll open your eyes.

I know you’re actually intelligent people. But your ideological beliefs have so blinded you, you’re not willing to see objective reality even when it’s right in front of you. You’re choosing to be stupid about this. So please, either get some actual training and experience, or stop writing amazingly idiotic articles that only “prove” you have no idea what you’re talking about.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (



Doctors have a guiding principle: “First, do no harm.” Their most important job is to not cause more damage. “Given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.” This is a good life principle. If I don’t know how to change a timing belt, I probably shouldn’t take my engine apart and just hope I can figure it out. If I don’t know electrical wiring, it’s probably a bad idea to rewire my house on my own. Because if I do those things, I’ll cause more harm than good.

Simple enough, right? Apparently not. Far too many of my fellow gun rights supporters don’t understand this principle. One particular type likes to dress in garish clothing, grab a weapon and run toward the nearest camera whenever they see an opportunity to “support gun rights”. These gun owners don’t help the situation; instead, they only manage to show the entire world they’re nothing more than poorly or completely untrained attention whores.

The gun rights version of “First, do no harm” is “Don’t make shit worse.” These particular gun rights supporters are making shit worse.

Recently several “Oath Keepers” decided to make shit worse in Ferguson, Missouri. Their arrival generated a flood of negative publicity, reinforced the widespread perception that we gun owners are unstable lunatics looking for a fight, and heightened already sky-high tensions between police and protestors. According to the Washington Post, the Oath Keepers said they were in Ferguson to “protect someone who worked for the Web site” Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that adding heavily-armed conspiracy theorists into a volatile near-riot doesn’t exactly help.


These Oath Keepers are worried about the militarization of police. The rest of us are worried about the militarization of conspiracy theorist morons.

The Oath Keepers, fortunately, did nothing more than attract tons of negative media attention and anger protestors (although some of them apparently told protestors they were there to protect protestors from police). But their presence dramatically escalated the likelihood of violence, in a town already racked by it. The police didn’t want them there. The protestors didn’t want them there. They showed up anyway, and made shit worse.

After the Chattanooga terrorist attacks, dozens of armed citizens arrived at recruiting centers to stand guard. The desire to defend our military from attack is laudable. The way in which some of those armed citizens defended our military was laughable. Many armed citizens, especially those who seemed to want nothing more than attention, simply made shit worse.


Nothing says “I’m a highly trained gunfighter” like a tactical kilt or ‘Murica onesy.

At least one man claimed online that he parked outside a recruiting center with a weapon concealed in the vehicle, watched from a distance and didn’t make his presence known. That makes sense, and I admire him for doing that. I also believe some armed citizens who stood guard displayed proper weapon-handling skills and didn’t dress like Call of Duty characters. That’s admirable as well.

Unfortunately, there were many others who were not only inept, but dangerous. Their presence didn’t make our military safer. Those armed citizens saw a problem, grabbed their guns, headed to recruiting centers and made shit worse.

This sailor looks like he's a bit apprehensive about having a rifle pointed at his head. He must have the Constitution.

This sailor looks a bit apprehensive about having a rifle pointed at his head. He must hate the Constitution.

If you're going to defend a recruiting center from terrorists, it's imperative that you don't put sights on your weapon or carry extra ammunition.

If you’re going to defend a recruiting center from terrorists, it’s imperative that you don’t put sights on your weapon or carry extra ammo. Because you want terrorists to have a sporting chance.

Nothing says

Nothing says “I’m a highly-trained gunfighter” like a flimsy, open top, non-retention, cross draw holster.

Don’t get me wrong; armed citizens can do great things. When a hurricane hit Texas several years ago, my neighborhood lost power for weeks. Local police were overwhelmed and couldn’t respond to many crimes. A neighbor handed out rifles to people he trusted, and they set a roadblock at the neighborhood’s only entrance to keep looters out. The entire time they operated the roadblock, they saw one police officer, one time; he drove up, said “looks like you guys got this under control”, and drove away. Those neighbors took up arms for the right reasons, and did the right things with those arms. They didn’t make shit worse.

The Oath Keepers in Ferguson made shit worse. Many of the armed citizens who stood in front of recruiting centers made shit worse. Ridiculous open carry activists who dress like fools and do stupid things designed to piss off the public make shit worse. Dumbasses who carry AR-15s into airports, just because they can, make shit worse. The lunatic who opened carried a shotgun into Wal-Mart, bought ammo and loaded the shotgun inside the store made shit worse.

The gun owners making shit worse aren’t fighting terror or tyranny, and they aren’t advancing the cause of gun rights. They’re just making themselves look stupid, and helping the anti-gun side paint us all as moronic extremists. The rest of us 2nd Amendment advocates are letting the crazies drive the gun rights bus. And we need to stop letting them represent us.

Airports are dens of crime and you need an AR-15 to defend yourself at them. Which is why it totally makes sense that you'd take your teenage daughter to this highly dangerous place.

Airports are dens of crime and you need an AR-15 to defend yourself inside them. Which is why it totally makes sense that you’d drop off your teenage daughter at one of these highly dangerous places.

Gun rights extremists like those I just described will now scream, rant and have a seizure while invoking their holy mantra: “But I’m legally exercising my rights so you can’t criticize me!”

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No, dumbass. There are lots of things you have the right to do, but if you do them you’re just stupid. You have the right to nail your penis to your bedroom wall. If you do it, you’re stupid. You have the right to cover your face in gang tattoos. If you do it, you’re stupid. You have the right to carry a confederate flag through Watts at 3 a.m. while yelling “Bring back slavery!” If you do it, you’re stupid. And you have a right to put on your best goth clothes or favorite gas mask, grab the nearest antique rifle and beg for attention… I mean, “rally for freedom” at a state capitol. But if you do it, you’re just stupid.


Engaging in the above actions doesn’t make you a patriotic hero of the Constitution. It just makes you non-criminally stupid.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment. It is a necessary tool to prevent this nation from falling to the tyranny so common throughout human history. Our founding fathers understood human nature and knew governments always seek more power for themselves, at the expense of the governed. The architects of our Constitution forever granted us the power to prevent our government from stripping inalienable rights. But it’s safe to say they didn’t write the 2nd Amendment because they wanted us to dress like clowns, inject ourselves into tense situations, display gross incompetence with our weapons, and make shit worse. If some fool had wrapped himself in the first U.S. flag and accidentally pointed his musket at Thomas Jefferson’s head during the Constitutional Convention, I’m sure even George Washington would have told him, “Please take leave of this hall, sir. For ye be worsening the defecation.”

This freedom-lover wanted to open carry two pistols into the St. Louis zoo. Because zoo patrons are in constant danger of being massacred. You know who else didn't allow open carry in zoos? Hitler, that's who!

This freedom-lover wanted to open carry two pistols into the St. Louis zoo, because zoo patrons are in constant danger of being massacred. Freedom-haters wouldn’t let him. You know who else didn’t allow dual open carry in zoos? Adolf Hitler, that’s who!

A critical incident of any type requires dedicated, trained, intelligent people to successfully resolve it. Medical emergencies are resolved by people who perform lifesaving tasks when required. Fires are brought under control by people who conduct necessary tasks to both fight the fire and prevent its spread. Resolution of a crisis relies upon people not just showing up, but doing the right thing when they show up.

But gun rights extremists keep showing up and doing the wrong thing. Oath Keepers in Ferguson injected themselves into a highly volatile situation that required only a spark to spiral out of control. Had they engaged in a shootout with cops, protestors or criminals, the glut of media and protestors surrounding them would have virtually ensured unintended casualties. Some armed citizens showed up at recruiting centers and put more people in danger because of their ridiculously poor weapon-handling skills. We’re lucky only one accidentally fired his weapon while showing it off. Open carry extremists keep doing stupid things like walking into buildings with weapons in combat-ready holds. They’ve gotten weapons banned from several places.

None of these actions help. They just make shit worse.

This is a totally non-threatening way to carry a weapon into a public building.

This is a totally non-threatening way for this gun rights supporter to carry a weapon into a public building. Just as non-threatening as carrying an axe over his head, ready to swing.

We on the pro-2nd Amendment side have enough problems to deal with already. If you’re a gun rights supporter, and feel you must carry your weapon into the public eye, do it for the right reasons. Do it the right way. A firearm is a tremendously powerful tool and its use demands the utmost respect; don’t treat it as a theatrical prop. Show the world that there are good people with guns, who have proper training, and aren’t looking for opportunities to scare their fellow citizens.

But don’t do stupid things that make shit worse.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (



About 2/3 of the way through my Afghanistan deployment, a new intelligence lieutenant arrived at my firebase. By this time my team and I had been in country for a while, had been in several engagements, and had a reputation for being outside the wire all the time. I was an E-7 with twenty years in, on my second deployment, and was pretty salty.

The new lieutenant heard about the work my team did, and when we met he said, “I really hope I get to go on some missions with you guys.”

It just so happened we were scheduled to go on a mission with French Marines the next day. “That’s a good idea, Lieutenant,” I said. “Why don’t you come out with us tomorrow? Since the French have a separate radio network, you can ride in the French company commander’s vehicle with an American radio and relay our traffic to him.”

The lieutenant’s eyes lit up. “You think I could do that?”

“Hell yes. All you have to do is get permission from your boss, borrow a radio from someone, and ask the French commander if he’d like to have you along.”

The lieutenant enthusiastically promised he’d do those things. I told him I’d find him later to help him prepare for the mission. He walked away excited.

French troops patrolling the Afghanya Valley, Kapisa Province. Photo by Thomas Goisque (

French troops patrolling the Afghanya Valley, Kapisa Province. Photo by Thomas Goisque (

Several hours later I saw him again. “Hey sir,” I asked, “you all ready for tomorrow?”

He glumly shook his head. “Uh, no, sergeant. I didn’t know who to get a radio from.”

I gave him a what the f**k look. “Dammit LT, come with me.”

I dragged him to the American Counter-IED Team. “You guys have a radio the lieutenant can borrow?”

The team’s sergeant tossed him one. “Sure thing. Just bring it back when you’re done.”

I turned to the lieutenant and asked, “Did you get permission from your boss?”

He sheepishly shook his head. “Um… I didn’t know if I should ask, since I just got here.”

“Dammit, lieutenant!”

I dragged him to his major, inside the firebase command post. “Sir, can your new LT come with us on the mission tomorrow?”

“No problem. Make sure he doesn’t get hurt.”

We walked outside. Even though I knew the answer, I asked the lieutenant, “Did you talk to the French commander?”

The lieutenant gave me a whipped puppy look and shook his head.

“Dammit, lieutenant!”

I pulled him along to the French company command post. “Hey sir,” I told the French captain. “We have a new intelligence lieutenant. Can he ride in your vehicle tomorrow and be your radio liaison?”

The French captain nodded. “Oui. But of course.”

French engineers clearing the road in front of a French VAB (amphibious armored vehicle)

French engineers clearing the road in front of a French VAB (amphibious armored vehicle)

I pulled the lieutenant out of the command post. His eyes were downcast. I asked, “Lieutenant, what the hell? You said you wanted to go on the mission. Are you scared to go, or what? If you don’t want to go, just say so.”

The lieutenant shook his head vigorously. “Sergeant, I’m not scared! That’s not the problem. It’s just that… well, I’m nervous. I mean, what if we get into a firefight, and I give a wrong order and get someone hurt or killed? I’m just scared of telling someone to do the wrong thing.”

I gave him a serious look. “Lieutenant. You don’t have to worry about giving a bad order tomorrow. You’re a new lieutenant, new in country. If we get into a firefight, and you give an order, nobody will listen to you. So don’t worry about it.”

The lieutenant looked stunned; for a second or two, he was actually speechless. Then he gathered himself, and said, “Uh… okay. In that case, I guess I’ll go.”

He went out with us the next day. And we got into a firefight. The Taliban opened fire on French vehicles as the team I was attached to scrambled down a mountainside. A burst of machine gun fire barely missed a French forward air controller as he stuck his head out of my vehicle. French gunners dumped thousands of .50 and 7.62 rounds back at enemy-occupied compounds. At one point, an RPG flew between the lieutenant’s vehicle and mine as we rolled down a road (I’ll never forget the look on his face when he described watching it zip past). It was a hell of a first mission for a new lieutenant.

It was also his last mission. When we got back to base, his boss told him he couldn’t go out again because it was too dangerous. So he got to go outside the wire one time, and earned a real Combat Action Badge for it.

And I like to think I taught him something important. Just because the book says “the officer is in charge and everyone of lower rank must follow his orders”, real life says “if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing the best thing to do is shut up and listen to those who do”. That applies to all of us in the military who call ourselves leaders. Including me.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (



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This is a random musing about a poem I wrote years ago. I’ve been agnostic since I was sixteen and in Catholic High School, and when I joined the military I found myself surrounded by fervently religious people. In boot camp we were forced to attend religious services, and I went to Catholic or Protestant for a while until I decided to protest by going to Buddhist services.

It turned out that if you weren’t Catholic or Protestant the Marine Corps really didn’t care what you did at mass. Buddhist “services” were just a room with Buddhist literature, with no supervision. So a group of us, some who were real Buddhists and some who were like me, would hang out and BS about basic training, life back in the real world, or whatever was interesting that week.

Throughout my military career I’ve been the odd man out, a devout agnostic floating in a sea of passionate religious belief. At times that put me in conflict with others, and I’ve been condemned to hell more than a few times by fellow Marines and Soldiers. I’ve had many debates about religion, and many more extremely interesting discussions with highly intelligent warriors whose beliefs differed from mine. I’ve served in combat beside people who I’m sure hated my beliefs, but still respected my service. I was nearly shot recovering the body of a man I’m sure was Christian, and I like to think that if the roles were reversed he wouldn’t have cared about my lack of religion.

I’ve been asked this question a few times, and I don’t think the people asking believed my answer. But when I was at war, it never occurred to me to pray. Even at times when good guys were down and the situation was bleak, I never thought about or hoped for a god’s intervention. In those situations I was too busy to beseech a being whose existence I highly doubt.

Anyway, here’s the prayer. Let me know what you think.

P.S. Why Robert Heinlein? Starship Troopers, that’s why.

The Agnostic Soldier’s Prayer

I’ve stood in a hundred formations
Surrounded by earnest, armed believers
And heard a hundred sermons
Telling me how right and proper
God considers this slaughter to be

I’ve stood beside my tank
Watching a chaplain’s aide
Anointing the turret with holy water
And wondered
If I was the only man on the planet
To wonder at the lunacy of it

God, I ask this question
Do you look down on me and smile
When I charge my rifle
Prep my grenades
Check every detail of my gear
And prepare to kill your beloved creations?

Yaweh, you told me
I shall not kill
Except in your name
And with your blessing
If you’ve decided to use me
To carry out your will

So, Allah, shall I heed your call
To kill the infidels
Reclaim your land
Keep your believers pure
And smash to dust all who oppose you?

Or, Buddha, do I pursue another path
Drop my weapons, sheath my knives
Stand tall upon the battlefield
Extend my hand to those I call my enemy
And bring an end to that war
That’s within my reach?

Rah, the wire is calling me
And once I leave it
Life itself has been forsaken
I may take a bullet
Or find myself
At the center of a disintegrating blast
And if I do
I hope I have enough time
To remember the sensation
Of your rays upon my face

God of Babylon, I ask
If you agree
That I’m alone in this battle
No matter whom I beseech for mercy as my life stains the pavement
No arms that are not my brothers’ will aid me
And even though no god will save me
Religion will probably kill me someday

Perhaps I should send a prayer to Mars before I cross this line
And commit myself to kill or die
But maybe every time I pull on my armor
Chamber a round in my weapon
Load my vehicle with ammunition and grenades,
Roll outside the wire behind a machine gun
Maybe every moment behind a trigger,
Every second in the enemy’s sights
Is a prayer to a war god

So with one last word
To one last god
I trust myself to your care
Because, Venus, after all,
Your human form is the only one
I can honestly say
I ever truly worshipped

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (



I published this on Breach Bang Clear last week. It could use a little updating, since we’ve now learned that two service members apparently did fight back. But the story I tell about “Cris” is probably still relevant to the debate about armed service members.


So let’s discuss a purely fictional situation…

Let’s say there was this guy once. He was a soldier, combat vet, and like many National Guardsmen was a cop in civilian life. He was temporarily on active duty, working on a totally fictional military base.

We’ll call our fictional soldier/cop… “Cris”.

Cris worked on a state-owned base, not a federal base. As a cop, Cris was allowed by law to carry a gun on this base. Of course, Cris always carried his gun. Cris had a lot of training, including training on how to respond to active shooters. When the base decided to make an active shooter response plan, Cris advised the soldiers who wrote it and even addressed a large group of soldiers on the realities of active shooter incidents. Cris was also a senior NCO with two combat deployments. It seemed to make nothing but sense to allow Cris to carry a concealed weapon on base.

Cris had checked the base’s policies and saw that they specifically allowed police officers to carry on base. But Cris kept his weapon hidden and secret from anyone he didn’t know, just as he always did when wearing civilian clothes. In many months working on the base, Cris never had any issues carrying his weapon.

Then one day Cris screwed up. He was in the parking lot loading something into his trunk, inadvertently lifted his uniform top and exposed his weapon to someone. No words were exchanged, and Cris didn’t even know his weapon had been seen. But the other person reported Cris by name and rank to the base command post. And that’s where this totally fictional situation got really stupid.


Soldiers at the command post knew who Cris was. Rather than say, “He’s a cop and he’s within the law and base policy,” they reported Cris to the base’s threat assessment center. Soldiers at the threat assessment center knew Cris too; they interacted with him on a regular basis. Instead of saying, “He’s a cop and he’s within the law and base policy,” they contacted Cris’ major command. Word filtered down, and Cris was called into a Sergeant Major’s office.

The Sergeant Major was new and didn’t know Cris. He informed Cris about the report. Cris responded, “Sergeant Major, I’m a cop.” The Sergeant Major had a brain and immediately responded, “Oh hell, what’s the big deal then?” But he explained he was still required to address the situation with higher. Cris said, “No worries, Sergeant Major,” and waited for the official “carry on” order to come down the chain.

A short time later, Cris was officially advised that even though the law permitted him to carry a weapon, and base policy permitted him to carry, and he had extensive and necessary skills that would be critical in an active shooter incident, the base’s commander didn’t want him to carry. Because allowing soldiers to carry weapons on base isn’t safe. The senior leadership’s plan for defending the base from attack was “disarm anyone willing and able to resist.”


Some might say that barring Cris from carrying on post was stupid. Some might say it was irrational. Some might say, in the event of an active shooter event, it made tragedy more rather than less likely. But none of that mattered. All that mattered was, it made the base leadership feel safer.

This situation – totally fictional, bearing zero resemblance or connection to anyone within writing distance of this computer – taught Cris a very important lesson. Despite the fact that Cris was a longtime cop, was known as a skilled and experienced pistol shooter, had never done anything to suggest he would be a threat to other soldiers, had provided badly-needed perspective and experience to the base’s active shooter plan, had a decades-long history of honorable service and had even been recognized for his actions in combat, he was viewed as a threat simply because he was armed.

That’s not leadership. That’s a sign proclaiming, “It doesn’t matter whether our troops are 18-year old E-1 cooks or 40-year old combat arms officers. We don’t trust them.”

Days ago our military experienced a horrific attack in Tennessee. American troops who braved overseas combat were shot down like defenseless cattle in a slaughterhouse, on our own soil. They died without weapons in their hands. I’m sure they didn’t die unarmed because they chose to be unarmed.

They died because their leaders abandoned them.


Read the rest at

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (



This was published Friday on Breach Bang Clear. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get shanked for it.


Signs, Of Veteran Entitlement

I won’t go into too much detail, since I’m sure most of you have heard of this already. But apparently some veterans are so traumatized by their wartime service they’re asking people to “be courteous with fireworks” around their homes on July 4th. Because fireworks “trigger” their PTSD.


These signs are being popularized by an organization called “Military with PTSD”, which according to CNN has sent the signs to 2500 veterans and has 3000 more on a waiting list. According to the organization’s founder, the signs aren’t intended to make people stop using fireworks, they’re just asking people to be “courteous”. “No veteran that served the United States wants to take a freedom away from people, especially fireworks, which represent freedom,” she said. “They don’t want them to stop. What they’re asking for is for people to give them a heads up.”

IT’S THE FOURTH OF JULY. Isn’t that heads up enough? Are these signs about “helping vets with PTSD”, or catering to some veterans’ sense of entitlement?

As a combat vet myself, I’ve had – to say the least – a strong reaction to these signs. My gut feeling was something along the lines of, “This is ridiculous. These signs don’t have anything to do with treating PTSD, they’re just a way for some veterans to beg for attention and be special snowflakes.” But I try to be fair, and realize my experiences have given me significant biases. So I tried to rationally analyze the pros and cons of putting those signs in veterans’ yards.

And after careful consideration, I can only conclude that these signs are pathetic, self-defeating crap.

John Adams wrote in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence ought to be celebrated with fireworks. I haven’t found a record of fireworks being used to celebrate in 1776; however, we’ve celebrated with fireworks since literally the first Independence Day commemoration in 1777. We did it while we were at war for our very existence, yet the men who survived massed musket fire and bayonet charges managed to endure fireworks displays without putting “pleafe be ye courteouf with ye olde firework” signs in their front yards.

It goes without saying, or at least it should, that past generations of American warriors experienced combat far worse than that of the typical Iraq or Afghanistan veteran. Yes, today’s warriors have fought some hard fights (Fallujah, Najaf and Sangin come to mind). But in terms of scale, casualties and intensity our wars have been different than many before. We haven’t endured three or four thousand KIAs in a single day like at Normandy and Antietam, or two thousand in 76 hours as at Tarawa. Yet the men who crossed sabers on Civil War battlefields or waded through surf, blood and dead comrades to a beach swept with machinegun bullets and shellfire somehow endured fireworks displays without putting signs in their yards.

What makes veterans of today’s wars different?

We’re not draftees. We’re volunteers. Anyone who enlisted or reenlisted after 9/11 volunteered for military service while our nation was at war. We went to war because of the choices we made, and many of us went back to war because of those same choices. Some veterans consider that wartime service an honor and privilege; the more intense the combat, the greater the honor and privilege.

And we see a growing divide not just between veterans and civilians, but between distinct groups of veterans. Some feel our service made us stronger and more resilient; others see themselves as damaged, and want everyone to know they’re damaged. At least 5500 of them want to advertise their problems to their neighbors, and some of those posted their photos on the internet to share their problems with the world. The cognitive dissonance displayed in some of those photos is astounding; maybe it’s just me, but I see a slight contradiction between someone saying they’re a hardened combat vet yet are uncomfortable with fireworks.


The next photo is almost perfect. What’s better than advertising “I’m a combat vet with PTSD, I’m armed and I might react irrationally to fireworks”? The only way to improve it is to add a bottle of whiskey, to achieve the “drunken vet with PTSD and a gun” trifecta.


I have to ask, what do these “combat veterans” expect to actually accomplish with these signs? At best, their close neighbors might see the signs and refrain from using fireworks. But what about the neighbors one street over? What about the people who live ten houses down, never drive past the combat vet’s house and have no idea he’s sensitive to fireworks? Some fireworks can be seen and heard from literally miles away; is the sign going to somehow protect the veteran from fireworks in other neighborhoods?


Read the rest at

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (

Carrying a pistol, in addition to being a life-altering decision, can be complicated. The perfect pistol for a fight is usually the hardest to carry, and the easiest pistols to carry aren’t very good in a fight. Most of us who choose to be armed in public go through a near-lifelong struggle to balance all the critical factors involved with carrying concealed: pistol size, caliber, magazine or cylinder capacity, carry location, carry method, whether to carry a spare magazine or speedloader, how and where to carry a spare magazine or speedloader, how to dress when armed, how our body type dictates what and how we carry, and what to do when circumstances hinder our preferred method of carry. And that’s not even a complete list of considerations.

I’ve been carrying a pistol on and off duty as a cop for over twenty years. During those years I’ve experimented with different pistols and ways to carry them. For concealed carry, I’ve been from the extreme of carrying a Glock 22 with two spare mags to the other extreme of a Kel-Tec .32 with one spare (because I was riding a motorcycle and my Glock printed badly through my close-fitting leather jacket). I’ve tried different guns, and like every concealed carrier I’ve got about 750 discarded holsters in my closet because none of them worked exactly as I’d hoped.

For years I carried a Glock 27 with a spare G23 mag. Then two things happened: I got older, and my G27 started feeling like a brick. Along with age came a slight change in my body, and I went from being skinny to fighting off a beer belly. My 40’s also brought a peace of sorts. After seventeen years of night shift in the hood and/or going to war, I was done with street police work and didn’t expect to ever deploy again. I was, in the parlance, a FAG (former action guy). At 41 I became a grandfather. My focus was no longer on looking for a fight to the death; instead, I was mostly interested in being prepared for the fight I knew would probably never happen.

I finally ditched the cumbersome G27 for a slim, concealable Beretta Nano. That pistol was ergonomic, accurate, comfortable, and basically perfect as long as you don’t mind dying in a gunfight with a double-fed gun in your hand. I ditched the Nano and went back to the 27, only to jump on a Glock 42 as soon as I could. The G42 is only a .380, and knowing the round’s limitations I decided not to carry one without plenty of spare mags.

So the question became, “how do I comfortably carry a G42 and three spare magazines?”

I went through the usual experimentation: I bought minimalist holsters, looked at an inside waistband that was gigantic for so small a pistol, tried a soft cloth pocket holster (and accidentally touched the trigger inside the holster during a draw, so I’m never using one of those again), tried a pocket clip holster, semi-regularly used a generic Kydex pocket holster, and eventually decided I’d just never find the right one.

Then the light of heaven, in the form of a fellow Texan named Gabe New, shone on my Glock from above.

Gabe runs a cottage gear shop called KSG Armory (Knowledge-Skills-Gear). He’s not a superhuman SF SWAT SEAL Recon operator, he’s a regular Joe who just loves to shoot and carries a gun daily. He’s also fortunate to have a creative bent and some business sense.

Like me, Gabe has been searching for the perfect carry method. Unlike me, Gabe has Kydex-bending skills (he likes to call himself a Plastic Surgeon). He started experimenting with Kydex holsters, made a few accessories to go along with them, and opened a small business selling them. At some point Gabe found my blog, and reached out to ask my opinion on his holsters. I wound up with the really cool opportunity to test some of his established models, plus try out a couple prototypes. Gabe was eager for feedback, and quickly made changes when I pointed out a problem. Not a preference, but a problem.

Gabe makes three types of holsters: a slimline OWB (Outside Waistband) belt slide holster, AIWB (Appendix Inside Waistband) holsters, and pocket carry holsters. I haven’t tried his OWB yet, but plan on getting my hands on one for winter when I can more easily conceal a belt holster. I did have plenty of opportunity to test his AIWB and pocket holsters though, and I’m pretty damn happy with them.

OWB 2.0, $55

OWB 2.0, $55

Gabe makes three types of AIWB holsters: one “tuckable”, one not, and one with wings.

Tuckable holsters, by special request

Tuckable holsters, $45

Note the adjustable cant

The “Tucker”, another tuckable with wider clip. Note the adjustable cant

While both carry your pistol snugly and securely, I’m a much bigger fan of the nontuckable version. The tuckable has a space between the holster body and belt loop to accommodate a shirt tail, which adds width. If I have to tuck in my shirt I use a pocket holster, so a tuckable IWB just isn’t for me (which isn’t to say it won’t work for someone else). But the nontuckable works great; the Glock 42 and 43 versions don’t jam into my thigh or crotch, and the grip doesn’t ride too high or lean away from my stomach.

IWB 1.1, $45

IWB 1.1, $45

Here’s a video of me demonstrating one of Gabe’s AIWB holsters.

As I was writing this article I received one of Gabe’s new inventions: an AIWB holster called the “Minuteman” with a “wing” that somehow manages to make the pistol stand straighter (so it’s less likely to print) and feel more comfortable. I don’t get why the wing works, but it does. The Minuteman can even conceal a Glock 19 with a weapon-mounted light under a thin t-shirt. I haven’t tried that myself, but Gabe has, and some armed professionals are testing this design right now.

Minuteman, $55

Minuteman, $55


KSG’s pocket carry holsters are also pretty dang good. Pocket carry definitely isn’t the optimum method, but sometimes it works when other methods don’t. I’ve pocket carried quite a bit, and Gabe’s holster is the smallest and lowest profile I’ve personally seen. Later I’ll write a more extensive article specifically about pocket carry.

The T.R. Jr, $30

The T.R. Jr, $30

Gabe also makes mag pouches. Anyone who carries a weapon should carry at least one reload; magazines fail, people accidentally hit the mag release under stress (watch the Oregon State Patrol shootout video below), or shooters empty a magazine in a second and find themselves holding an unloaded pistol.

The suspect inadvertently drops his magazine at :33.

My life was probably saved one night by an officer who dumped eight rounds in about a second at a suspect who was pointing a gun at me; the officer thought he had fired no more than three rounds. I’ve had a lot of pistol training and like to think I’d uphold the “one shot one kill” standard, but I have a brain so I know that’s unrealistic. Real shootings don’t follow a script, and unless you’re the world’s best gunfighter you should know your first round will likely miss, and even if it hits it may have no effect. Even multiple rounds may have no effect. So carry spare ammo. When I carry my Glock 42 or 43, I carry multiple spare mags.

Gabe makes a single mag pouch and a double mag pouch. They can be used together. The single pouch is an IWB, while the double pouch is a belt slide.

Mag carrier 2.0, $28

Mag carrier 2.0, $28

The double pouch is fantastic; slim, close fitting, and doesn’t print even with a close-fitting shirt. The only problem I’ve had with the double pouch is that it makes pulling my wallet a bit difficult, but that doesn’t deter me from using the pouch at all.

Double carrier, $45

Double carrier, $45

Thus far, Gabe and KSG Armory makes holsters and mag pouches for the following weapons:

Full-sized railed 1911
Glock 20/21
Glock 17/22/31
Glock 19/23/26/27
Glock 42/43
M&P 9/.40
Springfield XDS 3.3″
Springfield XDS 3.8″
S&W Shield
Bersa Thunder
Beretta PX4 Storm
Beretta Nano
Ruger LCP
Kel-Tec P3AT
Sig P238
Hi-Point .45… just kidding. :)

If your pistol isn’t on the list, contact Gabe and ask if he can produce a holster for that weapon. If he has access to one, he’ll make it happen.

JUST TO BE PERFECTLY CLEAR: Gabe and I are not in business together. I don’t make any money from his holster sales. He just sent me gear to test, I was impressed, and I’m telling the world about it because I’d like to see his business succeed. I’ve also never met Gabe in person. Since I don’t know him, it’s possible he carries the severed heads of prostitutes in his trunk, or karaokes Justin Bieber’s greatest hits, or campaigns for Hillary Clinton (actually, I could give him a pass on severed heads or Justin Bieber but if I thought he was a Clinton supporter I’d have nothing to do with him). But all indications are he’s a good dude with common sense. I have no reason to believe he’s anything but a solid citizen and 2nd Amendment supporter.

If you visit my Facebook page (linked below) you might get some free KSG stuff in a gear giveaway we’re hosting. So check out Gabe’s gear, help a Texan small businessman out, keep training and keep carrying!

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (


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