This was published last week on


Several months ago I heard of a new product called the Switchback, from a company called Thyrm. The Switchback is a pretty cool concept: it’s a tactical flashlight accessory that lets you transition from holding the flashlight in your off hand in search mode, to holding your weapon in an almost-two-handed grip with the light illuminating your target.


I say “almost two handed” because your offhand thumb and forefinger are busy with the light, leaving only three fingers to assist with stability. Even without a full two-handed grip, it’s designed to be far more stable than any other method of firing with a flashlight (other than using a weapon-mounted light, of course).

To search, you hold it like this:


To shoot, you switch to this:


Simple, right? I thought so too. Then I tried it. I found out it is a great concept, but it’s not simple. There’s a formula to make it work right.

The first time I handled the Switchback, it seemed easy to use. Offhand trigger finger goes through the loop, offhand thumb presses against the projection at top of loop which presses power button against offhand middle finger and activates light. I practiced the grip many times at home, and it always worked fine.

So in June, I tried it out at a Graham Combat class. I was firing a Beretta Nano and had two sizes of Surefire lights, a Fury and a smaller Backup, with Switchback attachments. The power button on the Backup is momentary-only, meaning it can’t be left on, but the Fury can be operated in momentary or standard mode. I used both in momentary.


We were shooting at night, from behind vehicles. The positions were a little awkward, and the targets were about fifty meters away. That sounds far for a Beretta Nano, but it’s not. This sounds crazy, but earlier in the day Graham had walked us back from ten meters all the way to 130, and had us shoot steel silhouettes every ten meters. I made a first round hit with the Nano at 130 meters (and I sure as hell wasn’t going to tempt fate by firing a second shot). So I knew I could hit a target at 50 meters, no problem.

I lined up on the target with the Backup. The grip felt awkward as hell and I had trouble keeping the light oriented on the target, but I got the light in the right area, and squeezed the trigger.

I missed. And the light turned off. And the friggin’ thing hurt.

I kept trying. Same results, every time. I couldn’t keep the light on, couldn’t hit anything, and the damn thing hurt more with every shot. I switched to the Fury, tried different positions behind cover, and eventually tried just standing in the open to eliminate the unorthodox shooting stances. Nothing worked.

I was a little down, but figured I had the deck stacked against the Switchback that night. Fifty meters isn’t impossible but isn’t close, and it’s not very likely I’d use the Switchback or defensive pistol at that range. I was mostly shooting from unusual and uncomfortable positions behind cover, and the Nano has an unusual trigger guard slope, which may have affected my grip; on top of that I was tired from shooting all day and I was whiny, emotional and retaining water. Something must have gone wrong and messed up my Switchback experience; I mean, smart guys had designed it, and experienced guys were fans of it. So it had to be me.

I took it to a square range the next month to give it another try, this time with a Glock 27. I did my best, I swear. But I still couldn’t make it work.

Now I was depressed. I really liked the Switchback concept and wanted it to work, but it just wasn’t happening. I thought about writing a review then, but decided to hold off. Maybe something would change, the heavens would open and drop the secret to the Switchback on me.

As it turned out, the answer didn’t come from the heavens. It came from the almighty Glock.

Switchback with a Glock 42, recoiling after a shot. Note that the light is still on.

Switchback with a Glock 42, recoiling after a shot. Note that the light is still on.

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 (


It is impossible to review American Sniper without addressing the two controversies surrounding it.

First, Chris Kyle has been criticized for calling Iraqis “savages” and expressing joy at killing them (he actually referred to the enemy, not all Iraqis, as savages). Michael Moore famously commented about snipers being cowards who shoot people in the back; as I write this, Moore continues to tweet derogatory comments about snipers. Writer Max Blumenthal tweeted that Kyle was a racist occupier and mass murderer comparable to the DC Sniper. Bill Maher called Kyle a “psychopath patriot”. Rolling Stone published a long diatribe about how American Sniper is emblematic of everything wrong with the American war in Iraq and proclaimed it “almost too dumb to criticize”.

I admit to being severely biased on this issue. I’m a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. I was never a sniper, but was a Squad Designated Marksman and know something of the dedication, discipline and courage required to be a sniper. Due to an odd circumstance I was on several missions with French Marine snipers in Afghanistan. On two occasions when I wasn’t embedded with them, French snipers possibly saved my life. And at least two Marine friends of mine shared battlefields with Chris Kyle. One is extremely protective of Kyle’s memory, since Kyle literally may be the reason he’s alive today.

I see nothing wrong with sniping enemy (or dropping artillery on them, or hitting them with airstrikes, or running them over with a tank while they’re asleep). Despite what much of the left seems to believe, being willing or even eager to kill worthy enemy doesn’t make us sociopathic. It means we soldiers understand some problems can only be solved with violence, and have a duty to apply it. Moore, Blumenthal et al seem to demand we feel bad when we do our duty. They apply their “war is always bad and nobody should fight even if America is under attack” mentality to us, and are shocked when we reject it.

As long as I follow the laws of war, it doesn’t matter if I think the enemy are savages. There’s a gigantic difference between hating the enemy and hating every living being in a nation. I didn’t hate the enemy, but I understood those who did.

Bradley Cooper and me at my firebase in Afghanistan during a USO visit. He's about a foot taller than me, but ducked down for the picture.

Bradley Cooper and me at my firebase in Afghanistan during a USO visit. He’s about a foot taller than me, but ducked down for the picture.

It’s vitally important that we Americans don’t rape, murder and pillage; to emphasize that importance, I wrote a long series on American soldiers who committed a horrible rape and multiple murders in Iraq. But Maher and his buddies who think we should never happily kill enemy just don’t understand us. They’d handicap us by having us dread the fight, when we should leave the wire eager for combat. Soldiers who hope to avoid contact are at an automatic disadvantage when a contact starts, but soldiers who want combat come alive when the first shot is fired. I’d much rather have troops who embrace war, like Kyle, covering my back than “soldiers” who dread it. Or brave Twitter warriors like Michael Moore who I believe would shed his uniform, drop his rifle and abandon his countrymen at the first hint of danger.

On one hand, I should respect the opinions of Moore and his ilk. After all, civilian oversight of the military is crucial to democracy.

On the other hand, screw them.

I could give a damn if some latent coward who has never and would never serve looks down his nose at me. My biggest regret in Afghanistan was having enemy in my sights but not being allowed to kill them; my biggest hope is that the one time I might have killed an enemy, I actually did. One of my happiest memories is of watching Kiowas and Apaches pounding hidden, trapped Taliban, and later learning five were killed. I would never feel happiness at the deaths of civilians, but I was ecstatic at the deaths of our enemies.

That makes me what it makes me. Don’t like it? I don’t care. Unless you’re willing to dodge IEDs, bullets and rockets beside me, your opinion means less than nothing.

So the first controversy is functionally irrelevant to me. The second, however, does matter.

Kyle has been accused of telling unbelievably untrue “sea stories” after his discharge from the Navy. A preponderance of evidence suggests he did just that. Three whoppers have been identified: the bar fight where he supposedly punched Jesse Ventura, his alleged killing of two carjackers at a gas station, and his claimed time atop New Orleans’ Superdome sniping dozens of armed looters after Hurricane Katrina. Journalistic inquiries determined those claims at best unverifiable, at worst outright lies.

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 (

Last week, the pro-gun web site hosted a Charlie Hebdo massacre simulation, but added volunteers acting as armed citizens to see if they could make a difference.

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The simulation was conducted with guns firing marker rounds similar to small paintballs. Numerous iterations of the simulation were conducted; in most, the armed citizens “died” without being able to stop the terrorists from killing everyone. But initial reports said in two of the iterations the armed citizen managed to kill one terrorist, while in another iteration the armed citizen provided cover fire that helped others escape.

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Of course, anti-gun web sites immediately concluded “armed citizens are helpless against terrorists”, and treated the simulation as proof that carrying a gun is pointless. In response, Friday I published, a refutation of an especially moronic article about the simulation on

The Young Turks also published their take on the simulation, and in line with other liberal web sites concluded carrying a gun is either pointless or makes things worse. Young Turks host Cenk Uygur even mentioned that the Hebdo terrorists in Paris spared some people they could have killed, but if one of the victims had shot back, the terrorists might have killed everybody. In other words, “Thank god none of the victims had a gun. That would have turned this massacre into a real tragedy.”

Shortly after I published my essay, I was contacted by the head of, a web site I write for. Unbeknownst to me, one of the “bad guy” role players in the Charlie Hebdo simulation was Sonny Puzikas, a man I don’t know but who is acquainted with others on the Breach Bang Clear team. Puzikas had shared his opinion on the simulation with Breach Bang Clear, and asked us to share it as well.

According to his bio, Sonny grew up in Lithuania and served in the Soviet Army. He then emigrated to America where he became an actor, trainer and personal security specialist. While he appears to be a controversial figure in the firearms community, he is a very skilled shooter and trainer.

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The text below is from Sonny Puzikas. He wrote it specifically in response to the anti-gun story about the shooting simulation on The Young Turks. Since Puzikas’ first language isn’t English and his message was awkwardly worded and punctuated, I’ve edited it for clarity. No facts, figures or opinions have been changed. I’ll add the original text in a comment.

First of all- the video clip he [Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks] uses in his “report” is NOT from the event he is talking about, and he distorted and spun the simulation’s results.

Second- the presence of an armed individual DID make a difference at least in some way, almost every time. At the very least, it slowed the terrorists’ advance down. Sometimes significantly so.

TTAG in their “preliminary” report says that one of the “terrorists” was killed 7 times- I will say that the number is lower. Not by much, but lower. Here is why.

A few of the armed citizens continued engaging after being hit repeatedly- some more than 5, 10 or even 15 times in vital areas. The reasons are many; all participants except the “terrorists” wore full head protection (terrorists only had eye protection). Some of the armed citizens didn’t feel and thus didn’t acknowledge some of the hits to the head. Some allowed their competitive nature to take over and continued engaging after being hit repeatedly. That is normal and a serious drawback in many cases during force on force training and simulations. And I suspect there were a few cases of just pure panic shooting- pulling the trigger until it clicked regardless of anything.

The next thing this clown [Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks] is not accounting for is this: in real life it is possible that killing one of the bad guys would have some sort of impact on the ability, desire, and method of the remaining bad guy to continue doing what he was doing.

I will write more detailed account of my impressions from this event, but let me finish with this. I know for a fact I was “killed” twice; in one instance I knew immediately and have marks to prove it, as it was 2 rounds hitting my face. The second one I didn’t feel, but after removing my gear discovered 2 paint marker hits on my chest rig. In one additional instance I was hit in the forearm of my support hand, which at the very least would have affected my ability to continue using my rifle, and one additional hit in my upper leg, which at the very least could have affected my mobility. There were a few additional hits resulting from armed person continuing shooting after he was hit repeatedly.

Again- PLEASE share this post, not just the video- as the video does NOT tell the truth. I am guessing [Cenk Uygur] may have a certain bias…

One of the “terrorists”

Not surprisingly, the anti-gun side views the simulation results as proof that carrying a gun is at best ineffective, at worst makes the situation worse. I have yet to understand how someone can say it’s preferable to let a murderer kill as many people as he can than to shoot back. But that’s what many people honestly believe.

However, Sonny Puzikas has a different opinion. As a terrorist role player, and despite the fact that he has far more experience than any armed citizens in the simulation, he was taken out twice and at least wounded twice more. As an experienced shooter and trainer, Puzikas believes an armed citizen can make a difference even when facing multiple well-armed and trained attackers.

Call me crazy, but I’ll take Sonny’s advice over the anti-gun side’s illogical opinions.

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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 (


Kory Watkins, head of Open Carry Tarrant County. Associated Press photo

Kory Watkins, head of Open Carry Tarrant County. Associated Press photo

Back in the 80’s I was a big fan of the comic strip Bloom County. In one of the comic’s subplots the main character Opus the penguin, on a quest to find his mother, finally tracks her down at a Mary Kay Makeup animal testing facility. Just as he’s about to rescue her, the “Mary Kay Commandos”, old ladies with caked-on makeup and pink Uzis, arrive and order the animals back into their cages. Seconds later, the eco-terrorist Animal Liberation Guerilla Front bursts in to free the animals. Caught in the crossfire, Opus makes an observation.

“Saved from sadists by terrorists. Sort of a dream come true, you know?”

Yes, Opus, I know the feeling. Because I and my fellow reasonable gun owners are being saved from “tyrants” by open-carry douchebags.

On Tuesday, January 12th, Kory Watkins and his group Open Carry Tarrant County (OCTC) held a rally at the Texas Capital and won yet another victory for gun rights. By “won another victory”, I mean they acted like the complete fanatic morons they truly are and gave the anti-gun side yet more reason to attack gun rights and gun owners.

During the rally, OCTC members visited the office of state representative Poncho Nevarez (D – Eagle Pass). One of them videotaped the visit. The video shows an OCTC member asking Nevarez to support open carry of pistols in Texas. Nevarez politely says he’s not going to vote for it. The man shakes Nevarez’s hand and curtly but politely thanks him for his time. So far so good.

But then Watkins and his fellow traveling clowns decided to let their inner douchebag show.

OCTC members began calling Nevarez a “tyrant”, exhorted him to “read the Constitution” and told him “you won’t be here long.” Nevarez played along with it for a while – nodding and saying “I’m a tyrant, I won’t be here long” – then got fed up and ordered the open carriers to leave his office. The open carriers took this as a Batman symbol in the clouds ordering them to be the biggest flaming a**holes they could be.

One of them responded to the order to leave the office with “This is the people’s office!” Another told Nevarez “Don’t touch me” when Nevarez apparently tried to lead him to the door. After Nevarez said “I’m asking you to leave my office,” the man responded “I’m asking you to leave my state because you don’t take your oath seriously.” As they were leaving one even stuck his foot in the doorway, then asked “What are you gonna do?” when Nevarez told him to move his foot. He then challenged someone in the hallway.

Open carrier: “What are you gonna do, touch me or something? You creeping up behind me?”

The man says he’s not.

Open carrier: “That’d be one wrong move, bro.”

Courageous Open Carry warriors at the Austin rally

Courageous Open Carry warriors at the Austin rally

The end result of OCTC’s brave demonstration was a new form of gun FREEEEEDOMMMMMM!!!, in the form of “panic buttons” about to be installed in state representatives’ offices.

But that’s not all our brave open carriers nationwide have done.

Since that victory in my beloved Great State of Texas, open carriers in Washington State decided to spread some FREEEDOMMM!!! up there as well. On Thursday January 15th a band of brave open carriers went into the Capitol building’s public gallery during a protest. One of them was carrying his AR-15 pistol in this totally non-threatening way:

Washington State Open Carrier. AP Photo by Ted S. Warren)

Washington State Open Carrier. AP Photo by Ted S. Warren

A police officer unreasonably told the open carrier he was carrying his weapon in a “tactical manner”, which is against state law. The OCer was in fact carrying in a tactical manner. But the police officer was being unreasonable by pointing out something that was obviously true. OCers don’t like people who unreasonably point out obvious truths (i.e., “If you carry an SKS into Chipotle to buy a burrito you’re a f**king idiot”).

The police officer threatened to eject and/or arrest the OCer, who eventually concealed his pistol and left. Open Carry extremists had won yet another victory. This victory consisted of guns being banned from the Capitol’s public gallery.

These are just two more great victories for gun rights, won by intrepid Open Carry extremists who bravely carry weapons in places where there is exactly zero threat to their safety and who convince businesses and local governments to ban guns from their premises. After previous Open Carry Mass Stupidity/”gun rights demonstrations”, Target, Sonic, Chipotle, Chili’s, Starbucks and other companies either banned weapons or asked people not to carry in their stores.

Every one of those bans was a victory. Right?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Of course the best way to win political support is to harass, intimidate, threaten, bully and throw a tantrum like a spoiled brat when you don’t get your way! Way to go, open carriers!” And who could argue with that?

Actually, I can.

I’m a staunch 2nd Amendment advocate. I’ve been shooting and collecting guns for over thirty years. I’ve carried a weapon as a Marine and Soldier for a quarter century, including in combat. I’ve carried a weapon as a cop for two decades. I’ve taught friends and family to shoot. I’ve written about the foundations of the 2nd Amendment, and its modern relevance. I’ve passionately advocated for keeping private citizens armed. I own many weapons and have fired tens of thousands of rounds in military and civilian life, from .22 pistols to an M1 Abrams’ 120mm main gun. I love the 2nd Amendment.

And I think Open Carry extremists are doing nothing but damage to the 2nd Amendment cause.

To any OCers reading this: this ain’t no tyranny. You can own tons of guns, including military weapons suitable for resisting government forces. You can criticize anything you want in public or online. You can travel as you wish. You can spout ridiculous, nonsensical accusations (“The Sandy Hook Massacre was faked by the government! The Boston Bombing was a false flag operation!”). And until you idiots f**ked it up, you could have carried a weapon into Washington’s state capitol.

That’s not tyranny. That’s life in free-as-hell America. You think this is tyranny, try walking into a restaurant with an AK in some of the places I’ve served. Around two seconds after walking in, right around the time you’d get shot, you’d probably realize America isn’t such a dictatorship after all.

I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask again: please, open carriers, stop “defending my rights”. You’re making things worse. People look at regular-guy gun owners like me, and they see you. You’re convincing the undecided that gun owners are heavily armed, crazed bullies. Even CJ Grisham, the not-so-moderate head of Open Carry Texas, calls you OCTC members “A malignant cancer for the gun rights movement”.

I personally would put you OCTC members above Moms Demand Action and Bloomberg as enemies of the 2nd Amendment. Why? Because MDA and Bloomberg are pathetically ineffective at getting guns banned. You open carry clowns are effective. You’re succeeding where the professional anti-gun agitators fail.

It should be kind of a clue that much of the pro-2A movement thinks you guys are being paid by the anti-gun side to make us look bad. I don’t believe that. But I do believe something worse.

You guys actually believe so strongly in your holy cause, you don’t care how much damage you’re doing to your own side. You’re the suicide bombers of the gun rights movement, happy to indiscriminately destroy anyone, on either side, who doesn’t live up to your standards of what a true 2A believer should be. Like all zealots everywhere, you’ll do whatever makes you the hero of your own little drama, without regard for the negative effects on others.

If you ever did rise up and overthrow “tyranny”, I’m sure whatever you put in its place would be worse. Passionate zealots tend to have little regard for the lives of those less passionate than them. You already view everyone who doesn’t agree with you as enemies or “sheeple”. Based on the veiled threats and petty intimidation you regularly practice, I’d expect you guys to be the real tyrants.

You don’t represent me. You don’t speak for me. I don’t want your help.

At least one other gun rights advocate partly agrees. Alan Gottlieb, head of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Washington State, said this of Thursday’s confrontation.

“This is the result of a few stupid extremists on our side who not only handled their firearms unsafely, but made the hundreds of Second Amendment supporters at the rally look foolish. Irresponsible actions get us bad results. Unfortunately, some of the fools in town are on our side. This kind of childish theater hurts our cause. The gun ban crowd is having a field day over this.”

The gun ban crowd is having a field day because every time they think they’re losing, Kory Watkins and his circus sideshow give them a neverending belt of anti-gun ammo to use against us.

If Kory and his lackeys read this, I have no doubt they’ll dismiss it with “This guy’s not a real 2nd Amendment supporter! He’s hurting gun rights, not us! We should carry rifles into even more places, and create even more enemies, and get guns banned from even more places! That’s what real gun rights supporters do!” And they’ll do it. They’ll do more damage, cause more harm, and pat themselves on the back for it. That’s what mindless zealots do.

But what should OCTC do instead? Shut up, put the guns away, and disappear forever. That’s the best thing they could possibly do to support gun rights.

Because there’s no tyranny here. And even if there was, I wouldn’t want OCTC douchebags “saving” me from it.

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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 recently read an article about armed citizens from the liberal website Addicting Info ( The article purported to be an analysis of a mass shooting simulation, based on the Charlie Hebdo attack, carried out by the web site The Truth About Guns. The simulation and its results were extremely interesting, and eye-opening for people who don’t understand the dynamics of a mass shooting; Addicting Info’s analysis, not surprisingly, was extremely slanted against the idea that armed citizens should fight back against an active shooter.

Here’s a brief description of TTAG’s simulation (

Twenty-six volunteers played the role of civilians inside a simulated office building. TTAG ran twelve scenarios, each with one person acting as armed citizen and two as attackers armed with rifles. The armed citizens were (apparently) Concealed Handgun License holders, while the attackers were professional tactical weapons instructors. For the simulation TTAG used UTM guns, which are actual weapons modified to fire marking rounds similar to small paintballs. UTM guns handle exactly like standard weapons.

Of the twelve scenarios conducted, in only two was the armed citizen was able to “kill” one attacker. The attackers killed the armed citizen in every scenario except one, in which the armed citizen fled. In no scenario was the armed citizen able to kill both attackers.

Sounds bad, right? Addicting Info thought so. Their headline, where they refer to gun owners as “ammosexuals” and claim “everyone still dies”, is a pretty clear indication of their stance on armed citizens. Unfortunately for Addicting Info their reporting was not only so biased as to be useless, it was also objectively wrong.

Before I get into my analysis, I’ll lay out my background and explain why I my take on this exercise is so different from Addicting Info’s.

I’ve been a police officer for twenty years. I’ve spent the majority of that time, over ten years, on the street. I’ve worked for two small departments early in my career, then in the late 90’s moved to a very large police department. I also served eighteen months as a United Nations civilian police officer in Kosovo.

In the large department I currently work for, I was an assistant active shooter instructor. In this role, I helped train hundreds of police officers how to respond to mass shootings. I set up simulations similar to those organized by TTAG, and acted as the active shooter in most of them. I was also fortunate to receive advanced training on mass shootings from our SWAT team, and occasionally play the role of suspect in the team’s exercises.

I’m also a veteran of over 25 years in the Marine Corps Reserve and Army National Guard. As a soldier I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I was in combat in both countries.

I’ve also had the opportunity to attend several advanced pistol and carbine classes from private tactical training instructors. While I am not an expert on mass shootings, I am extremely familiar with the dynamics of mass shootings, the specific considerations involved in live-fire shooting simulations, and the general principles of both police and military lethal force encounters.

I’m going to quote excerpts from Addicting Info’s article, then explain why their analysis is incorrect. The excerpts will be in italics.

Occasionally, stupid people whose love of weapons transcends their sense enjoy attempting to justify a belief that the world would be virtually immune to crime if only we furnished every man, woman, and child with a firearm.

As an avid gun collector and shooter for over thirty years, I’ve never heard even one gun owner say every man, woman and child should have a gun. Even allowing for hyperbole (obviously nobody wants to arm children), and acknowledging the ridiculous and symbolic laws in some towns requiring every house to have a gun, there is no push on the pro-gun side to arm every adult. Some people are simply not suited to possess a gun, much less carry one. A significant percentage of our population has an uncontrollable temper, or suffers from mental problems, or has substance abuse issues, or a serious criminal background, or lacks sound judgment. Some – and this is important – simply don’t want to carry a gun. Speaking as both a cop and advocate for armed citizens, I don’t want everyone carrying a gun. But I do want those who are honest, sensible, trained and willing to take action to carry one if they choose.

I support armed citizens not because I think having a gun makes anyone invincible, or because it guarantees the citizen will win against an active shooter. I support armed citizens because I believe in the following principles (among others).

1) Armed citizens have a better chance of surviving a mass shooting than unarmed citizens.
2) During a mass shooting, armed citizens have a better chance of saving others than unarmed citizens.
3) An armed citizen can save lives even if he or she misses the suspect, because a suspect scared of getting shot is going to turn his attention away from unarmed victims who pose no threat.
4) You don’t deter crime by being a compliant victim.

So no, the world would not be safe if we blindly “furnished every man, woman and child with a firearm”. But America might be safer with greater numbers of trained, responsible armed citizens.

Not a single mass shooting has been stopped by an armed civilian in 30 years, but right-wing blasturbation club The Truth About Guns decided to play ‘Charlie Hebdo’ on Tuesday in an effort to show that an ‘armed civilian’ would have stopped two heavily-armed terrorists and saved lives.

According to a 2014 FBI bulletin on mass shootings (, between 2000 and 2012 three active shooters were shot by potential victims on the scene before the police arrived. Liberal site Mother Jones (whose study Addicting Info cited in their article) identified these three incidents but pointed out the “potential victims” who shot the active shooters were off-duty cops, former cops, or in one case a Marine. The Mother Jones article didn’t mention the Trolley Square Mall shooting in Salt Lake City, where an off-duty cop stopped an active shooter simply by shooting at him (he missed). The active shooter stopped shooting, retreated to cover and was shot by responding on-duty officers. It also didn’t mention the Clackamas Mall shooting in Oregon, where an active shooter retreated and committed suicide possibly because he saw an armed citizen maneuvering toward him (

Addicting Info and Mother Jones dismiss a shooting by an off-duty cop as totally different than a shooting by an armed citizen. I disagree. When I’m off duty, I’m effectively facing the same constraints and limitations as an armed citizen. I’m not in uniform. I have no radio. I’m not wearing body armor. I have no intermediate weapons or handcuffs. I have no backup. I likely have only a small concealed-carry pistol, with an extremely limited amount of ammunition.

What I do have is training and experience. However, the simple fact that I’m a cop doesn’t automatically make me better trained or more experienced. Generally speaking, cops have more training and experience than private citizens. But plenty of police officers have only the minimum training, barely manage to qualify the one time per year they’re ordered to fire their weapon at the range, and avoid additional training like it was syphilis. Not all cops are gun guys; far too many police officers won’t even carry guns off duty, even now when we’re under significant threat.

Armed citizens aren’t a monolithic block either. A lot of combat vets get concealed carry permits, and it’s fair to say that a large number of those are better trained and more experienced than the average cop. While it’s true that many armed citizens have only the minimum training to get a carry permit, many others have sought additional training or have significant experience (or both). Some of the most skilled shooters I’ve ever known were neither military nor law enforcement.

Whether someone is a cop or armed citizen, the basic actions in a mass shooting are the same: assess the situation, draw, move to the most advantageous position, engage if possible, and call for help. You don’t have to have a badge to effectively do those things.

The experiment was a massive flop. The group did, indeed, gather the requested number of volunteers [40]. Unfortunately for them, that was the most successful part of the adventure.

That’s just bad reporting. TTAG got 26 volunteers. And the simulation achieved a lot, in that it gave concealed carriers valuable experience they wouldn’t have otherwise received. TTAG never stated they were positive an armed citizen could take out two shooters with rifles, though they did theorize one could:

“We need your help to prove [those who oppose armed citizens] wrong . . . After our post-Newtown school shooting sim in Connecticut Nick and I reckon an armed civilian (or two) could have prevented a great deal of slaughter in the Paris terrorist attack. I contacted Dallas’ Patriot Protection to arrange a simulation to prove – or disprove – our theory.” TTAG’s post calling for volunteers later states, “If you’d like to show the antis the error of their ways (presuming), please send your name, cell phone, [etc].” (

TTAG had a theory, tested that theory, and released the preliminary results even though those results refuted their theory. I’d give TTAG a pat on the back for that. (Full disclosure: I’ve written a few articles for TTAG and agree with many of their opinions, but strongly disagree with their support for the open carry movement.)

Volunteers gathered on a set. . . Armed with a paintball gun, the volunteers took turns playing the role of a heroic “good guy with a gun” in the office. Also armed with paintball guns were two “terrorists” who appeared to execute the infidels in the scenario. The “gunmen” were professionals from tactical training company “Patriot Protection.”

Just an observation here. A citizen armed with a pistol is obviously at a huge disadvantage against two highly-trained, professional shooters armed with rifles. But the two instructors from Patriot Protection don’t represent the average active shooter. Most active shooters have been capable of operating a weapon and shooting defenseless victims, but incapable of actually fighting.

Dedicated terrorists, on the other hand, are far more likely to be trained and experienced. Anyone who finds himself facing two trained rifle-armed terrorists, whether he’s an armed citizen, uniformed cop or Green Beret SEAL from Recon Team Delta, is in for a hell of a bad time.

No matter how well you’re trained, there are situations you’re not going to win. “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, highly skilled with weapons, was shot in the back by someone he thought he could trust. That doesn’t mean Kyle’s skills were worthless, it just means some situations really suck. The most highly trained gunfighter in the world is going to lose if someone drops an anvil on his head while he’s sleeping. An armed citizen facing two highly skilled terrorists with rifles isn’t an unwinnable situation, but it’s pretty damn close.

Over and over, the armed civilian was “killed,” along with those “gun rights” advocates claim he or she would have protected. In only two cases was the “good guy” able to remove even one of the gunmen from the scenario.

In two cases out of twelve, an armed citizen was able to kill one attacker. That’s a hell of an accomplishment. And it’s likely to save lives, since, you know, a dead terrorist can’t shoot anyone. Not only that, but a dead terrorist has a rifle and ammunition a good guy could pick up and put to use against the second terrorist. I’m sure the staff of Addicting Info would disagree, but the fact that someone dies trying to do the right thing doesn’t mean they were stupid, or “lost”. An armed citizen can die while saving lives. Most people would see that as an honorable act. Addicting Info doesn’t.

I’ll also point out that people really don’t like getting shot at. An active shooter can’t have fun murdering defenseless people if he’s worried about getting shot in the face. If an armed citizen shoots at an active shooter and misses, the active shooter still has to stop murdering people and focus on not getting killed. That change in his focus might save people’s lives.

Only once did the “armed civilian survive” — when she ran away at the first sound of “gunfire.”

This, folks, is what’s called “yellow journalism”. The armed civilian in that case did NOT run away at the first sound of gunfire. According to TTAG, “In one of the early scenarios, a relatively new shooter decided that instead of trying to confront the armed terrorists she would use her gun to cover her retreat and give her co-workers time to escape. This plan worked perfectly, and she was able to escape from the room while returning fire towards the attackers, allowing nearly everyone in the room to escape before she too turned tail and ran.”

In my world, that’s called a win. An inexperienced armed citizen managed to save some lives while under attack from two terrorists with rifles. I suppose Addicting Info considers it a failure because she didn’t save everyone; this is right in line with an odd belief on the left, which I summarize as “If you can’t save all, don’t save any.” Gun rights opponents will argue that it’s impossible for an armed citizen to prevent a mass shooter from killing people, but refuse to acknowledge an armed citizen can at least save some.

When a murderer walks into a room with an AK and starts shooting, people are going to die. Nobody, no matter how well armed or trained, is guaranteed to save everyone’s life. But a person with training, skill and will to act can make a difference and save some lives. That’s why most of us carry a gun; not because we can solve every situation and save every innocent person, but because we can save at least one.

Oh, I should point out that Addicting Info’s headline – “everybody still dies” – is obviously false, since in this scenario everyone did not die.

I’m sure Addicting Info isn’t going to let facts get in the way of a good story.

“Still got killed but did better than I thought I would,” said volunteer Parks Matthew. He says that watching everyone around him “die” has shown that he should not protect his children if he encounters a shooter in a movie theater — Matthew will ensure that they emerge from the situation fatherless, instead: “If I’m in a movie theater and someone pulls a gun, what am I going to do? I know now I’m not gonna just fall on my kids and protect them, I need to advance on the threat.”

Shouldn’t protect his children? Shooting back at a mass murderer instead of running, hiding and hoping for the best IS protecting his children.

Let’s say you’re out with your family and wind up in an active shooter situation. If the shooter is close and actively trying to kill you and your family, you pretty much have to immediately fight. If he’s far away (you hear gunshots and screaming down a hallway but don’t see anything, for example), you have time to direct your family to safety and then fight. An armed citizen has no obligation to advance on an active shooter, and if he or she decides to simply get their family to safety and leave I don’t (exactly) have a problem with that. But there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking action to protect other people. Addicting Info thinks resisting an active shooter is a guaranteed way to die; they don’t seem to have a problem with the multitude of incidents that show not resisting gets a hell of a lot of people killed too.

Of the twelve simulations, not a single one involved the volunteers finding themselves able to kill both shooters.

Again, not surprising. However, Addicting Info left out some pertinent information (totally honest mistake, I’m sure). TTAG mentions a couple of flaws in the simulations themselves, and one is huge: due to the temperature inside the training area, the full-face masks worn by the volunteers kept fogging up. This was a problem we constantly encountered when I was an active shooter instructor, and anyone who has played paintball has probably experienced the same thing. “Many volunteers complained that they were unable to see the attackers at all when they finally entered the room, and were forced to simply shoot in their general direction. Obviously in a real world situation fogged up face masks would not be an issue, so this is a problem that we experience trying to re-create the scenarios only and detracts from the applicability of the testing to real world scenarios.” Without fogged masks, it’s possible some of the armed citizens may have been more effective (although that may have applied to the terrorists also).

But what’s the most important lesson from this simulation?

An armed citizen managed to save people who would have otherwise been killed.

In each of these scenarios, the attackers were intent on killing everyone. The presence of an armed citizen, in most cases, didn’t stop them from doing that. While the armed citizens didn’t win and didn’t save lives in those cases, they certainly didn’t make the situations worse.

But in one of the scenarios, an armed citizen engaged the attackers, provided a means of escape, saved lives, and managed to survive the encounter. Maybe she only saved a few lives. Maybe only one.

That’s one person who would have been murdered, but survived instead. Addicting Info doesn’t think that one person is worth the trouble. I do.

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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 (

When I joined the Marines, I met a man who had survived a helicopter crash during a training exercise. The first time I saw him his head and face were covered in burn scars. A balloon filled with saline, that looked like a dinosaur’s crest, was implanted in his scalp to stretch the skin so hair could grow. Something that looked exactly like the checkered buttstock of an M16A2 was imprinted on one side of his head. He greeted me when I checked in to my unit, and totally ignored the shocked expression I must have had when he approached. He shook my hand, asked a few questions, then left with a friendly “See you later, PFC.” His demeanor left me with the absurd thought, Maybe he doesn’t know how strange he looks.

He had been assigned to my reserve unit while undergoing treatment at a nearby military burn unit. I wound up becoming friends with him later, and eventually worked up the nerve to ask him about the crash. Of course, I quickly followed my question with, “But if you don’t want to talk about it, nevermind. Sorry.”

He brushed off my concerns. “Nah, no problem. The day I can’t talk about it is the day it starts to haunt me.”

He told me about loading up with his platoon in the helicopter that day. He described what it was like to see the ground coming through the window and realize they were about to crash. He talked about grabbing his seat belt release, being knocked unconscious on impact by his rifle butt slamming into his temple, and waking up on the floor with his head on fire. He told me how he crawled toward the exit, in flames, past screaming, burning Marines trapped in their seats. He recounted his memory of shouting that he would come back to help them. He told me how he managed to drag himself over the edge of the helicopter’s ramp and fall into a rice paddy. He told me about other Marines who saw the crash and ran to save him and some others. He talked about all the friends he lost that day, more than a dozen. He talked about how much he missed being an infantryman, and how he had made peace with the fact that he could never be one again.

What struck me was how easily he was able to tell the story. I had never heard of someone making a decision not to let trauma affect their lives. I had a great uncle, still alive then, who had been a Marine in the Korean War. He came back traumatized, took years to get back to normal, and to his dying day never told anyone in the family what he experienced. Even after I became a Marine, he gave me only the barest details of his service. As far as I know he never told his Marine son either. Unlike my friend, my uncle couldn’t talk about his trauma.

I’ve experienced trauma myself. I don’t know how many murder scenes I’ve worked as a police officer. I remember the shock I felt when I walked up to a car after a seemingly minor accident and saw a two year old’s head lying on the floorboard. I stood helplessly outside a burning house as a ninety-two year old woman died inside, while her son screamed hysterically beside me. For years after my time as a soldier in Iraq I’d have a startle response if I unexpectedly saw a flash, like from a camera, in my peripheral vision (it reminded me of flashes from roadside bombs). Soldiers near me were shot, burned or killed by weather in Afghanistan.

My childhood wasn’t rosy either; early one morning when I was eight I heard pounding on our kitchen door, then was terrified to see a family member stumble into the house covered in blood after being attacked by a neighbor. Even today, after thirty-five years, I still sometimes tense up when I hear a knock at the door. When I was ten, my eleven year old best friend committed suicide because of a minor sibling dispute. He wrote a note, left a will, snuck his father’s pistol from a drawer and shot himself. I was severely affected by his death, and ten years later got a copy of his suicide note from the city morgue. After I read it, I finally felt that I could heal from that horrible event.

I’m no stranger to trauma, and I’ve dealt with it by writing and talking about it. I suppose I’ve always defined “trauma” the traditional way: a terrible experience, usually involving significant loss or mortal danger, which left a lasting scar. However, I’ve recently discovered my definition of trauma is wrong. Trauma now seems to be pretty much anything that bothers anyone, in any way, ever. And the worst “trauma” seems to come not from horrible brushes with death like I described above; instead, they’re the result of racism and discrimination.

Over the last year I’ve heard references to “Microagressions” and “Trigger Warnings”. Trigger Warnings tell trauma victims that certain material may “contain disturbing themes that may trigger traumatic memories for sufferers”; it’s a way for them to continue avoiding what bothers them, rather than facing it (and the memories that get triggered often seem to be about discrimination, rather than mortal danger). Microaggressions are minor, seemingly innocuous statements that are actually stereotype-reinforcing trauma, even if the person making the statement meant nothing negative.

Here are two examples of “trauma” from the “Microaggression Project” (

My dad jokes with my younger sister that he remembers selling Girl Scout Cookies when he was a Girl Scout. She laughs, understanding the fact that since he’s a boy means that he could not have been a Girl Scout. Thanks, Dad. I’m a boy and a formal Girl Scout.

The assumption that Girl Scouts will be girls. That causes trauma.

24, female-bodied, in a relationship – so Facebook shows me ads with babies, wedding dresses, and engagement rings. Change gender on Facebook to male – suddenly I get ads pertaining to things I actually care about.

Facebook thinking a woman might be interested in marriage and children. That causes trauma.

A horrible example of microaggression: asking someone if they've been to Europe. Photo credit

A horrible example of microaggression: asking someone if they’ve been to Europe. Photo credit

As one might expect, “Microaggressions” and “Trigger Warnings” are most popular in our universities. In late 2013 A group of UCLA students staged a “sit-in” protest against a professor for – no joke – correcting their papers. These “Graduate Students of Color” began an online petition stating “Students consistently report hostile classroom environments in which the effects of white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other forms of institutionalized oppression have manifested within the department and deride our intellectual capacity, methodological rigor, and ideological legitimacy. Empirical evidence indicates that these structural and interpersonal microaggressions wreak havoc on the psychophysiological health and retention rates of People of Color. The traumatic experiences of GSE&IS students and alumni confirm this reality” (

A college professor expecting graduate students to write grammatically correct papers. That causes trauma.

In addition to correcting grammar, the professor insulted the “Graduate Students of Color” by changing “Indigenous” to the proper “indigenous” in their papers, thus reinforcing white colonial oppression of indigenous people. Oh, and he shook a black student’s arm during a discussion. “Making physical contact with a student is inappropriate, [the aggrieved Graduate Student of Color] added, and there are additional implications when an older white man does so with a younger black man” (

A white professor gently touching a black student’s arm. That causes trauma.

More trauma-producing microaggression: asking someone about their ethnic background. "Typically, microaggressions are associated with subtle forms of racism, but they do go beyond race. For instance, 'You throw like a girl,' is a verbal microaggression, and the action of a White individual clutching his/her bag because a Latino is approaching, is a behavioral microaggression." From

More trauma-producing microaggression: asking someone about their ethnic background. “Typically, microaggressions are associated with subtle forms of racism, but they do go beyond race. For instance, “You throw like a girl,” is a verbal microaggression, and the action of a White individual clutching his/her bag because a Latino is approaching, is a behavioral microaggression.” From

I’ve reviewed these reports of “trauma”, and have reached a conclusion about them. I’m going to make a brief statement summarizing my conclusion. While I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don’t want victims of Microaggressions or supporters of Trigger Warnings to doubt my sincerity.

Fuck your trauma.

Yes, fuck your trauma. My sympathy for your suffering, whether that suffering was real or imaginary, ended when you demanded I change my life to avoid bringing up your bad memories. You don’t seem to have figured this out, but there is no “I must never be reminded of a negative experience” expectation in any culture anywhere on earth.

If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma”, especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say or think. Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life”, doomed to perpetual disappointment.

Oh, I should add: fuck my trauma too. I must be old-fashioned, but I always thought coming to terms with pain was part of growing up. I’ve never expected anyone to not knock on my door because it reminds me of that terrifying morning decades ago. I’ve never blown up at anyone for startling me with a camera flash (I’ve never even mentioned it to anyone who did). I’ve never expected anyone to not talk about Iraq or Afghanistan around me, even though some memories still hurt. I don’t need trigger warnings because a book might remind me of a murder victim I’ve seen.

And before anyone says it; being Hispanic doesn’t make me any more sympathetic to people who experience nonexistent, discriminatory “trauma”. Discrimination didn’t break me (or my parents, or grandparents). I’ve been discriminated against by whites for being Hispanic. I’ve been threatened by blacks for being white. I’ve been insulted by Hispanics for not being Hispanic enough. Big deal. None of that stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t “trauma”. It was life.

Generations of Americans experienced actual trauma. Our greatest generation survived the Depression, then fought the worst war in humanity’s history, then built the United States into the most successful nation that has ever existed. They didn’t accomplish any of that by being crystal eggshells that would shatter at the slightest provocation, they didn’t demand society change to protect their tender feelings. They simply dealt with the hardships of their past and moved on. Even my great uncle, the Korea Marine, never expected us to tiptoe around him. He wouldn’t talk about his experience, but he didn’t order us not to.

So again, fuck your trauma. If your past bothers you that much, get help. I honestly hope you come to terms with it. I hope you manage to move forward. I won’t say anything meant to dredge up bad memories, and don’t think anyone should intentionally try to harm your feelings.

But nobody, nobody, should censor themselves to protect you from your pathological, and pathologically stupid, sensitivities.

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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 (

2014 in review


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 1,000,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 43 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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