“Your best cover is accurate fire on your adversary.” –Ernest Langdon

Ernest Langdon shooting a demo.

Ernest Langdon shooting a demo.

Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical Technology brought his Tactical Pistol Skills to class to the area, and thankfully, I was able to get a spot in the class.  If you have read any of my previous class reviews, you may have noticed that I tend to seek out training from instructors who can walk the walk with equal credibility in both the “tactical” and competition worlds.  My thinking on this is that such people will have refined their techniques for maximum efficiency, but they will have done so with an understanding of what happens in violent encounters.   Ernest Langdon fits this bill.

A short list of his credentials include the following: USPSA Grand Master, IDPA Distinguished Master, winner of multiple national and world championships, service as a Marine Scout Sniper and Scout Sniper Instructor, service as an Instructor in the USMC’s High Risk Personnel Program, and a host of others. You can read his complete bio by clicking here.

Sheriff Mark Moore and Ernest Langdon discussing Beretta 92 variants

Sheriff Mark Moore and Ernest Langdon discussing Beretta 92 variants

The class was limited to 12 students.  Three of the students were peace officers; the rest were armed citizens who are all regulars in such classes.  The small class size allowed the instructor to observe and coach each individual student.

In some parts of the world, there are four seasons in a year.  That is not the case in Georgia. We have summer and not summer.  September here is summer.  The temperature on both days of this class topped the 90 degree mark, and day two included a thunderstorm in the afternoon that upped the already substantially high humidity level.  Not only did we get roasted; we were boiled a bit as well.  This presented considerable teaching challenges, but he handled them well, and the students all seemed quite pleased with the product they received. One of the breaks evolved into a lengthy question and answer session which I enjoyed very much.  During the thunderstorm, he set up barrels underneath our shelter and taught proper use of cover, well, he did until the rain started beating on the metal roof so hard that it was impossible to hear anything other than a shout.

The shooting drills were very much accuracy focused with a lot of time spent shooting at tiny dots painted on the targets under a time or cadence standard.  We did some work on steel targets as well.   Attention was also given to shooting on the move as well as with strong and support hand only work.

target dots

 

Tim getting coached on being able to move one's eyes without turning one's head

Tim getting coached on being able to move one’s eyes without turning one’s head

In the opening paragraph, I referenced seeking training from people who have both competitive and tactical shooting backgrounds.  As my friend Erik Lund says, “A gunfight is solving a tactical problem at speed.”  He also says that “competition process can be applied to tactical applications.”  With that in mind, there was one topic that Mr. Langdon touched upon in regard to the so-called “tactical turtle” stance that is derided by competition based shooters. I’m not going to fully delve into it at this point as I want to discuss it with him to make sure that I am accurately reporting what he said, and I have a training class upcoming later in the year with a favorably credentialed instructor who presents yet a different approach to the question, and I would like to bounce educated questions off of both individuals before putting it all in writing. If you can’t wait until then, seek out Mr. Langdon and pay for a class.  It’ll be worth it.

Finally, for you Beretta fan boys:

pistol case

“Cover may be your friend, but it does not need a hug.” –Tom Givens

Twice this year I have been present for historical moments in the shooting community. The first was witnessing not one but two perfect runs on “The Test” at the Rogers Shooting School. The second is bittersweet as I was a part of the last class at the Rangemaster facility in Memphis, TN. Thankfully, the Rangemaster banner will continue on the training circuit, but the range has closed its doors. That was the bitter part. I’ll save the sweet part for later.

We hosted the Rangemaster crew for Combative Pistol I (CP1) in March of this year. The boss was impressed with the course, and he, thankfully, decided to send me to Rangemaster’s Instructor Development Course (IDC) to continue our efforts in stepping up our in-house firearms training program.  Thanks boss.

As I wrote in my review of CP1, the Rangemaster program focuses on efficiency and precision. The IDC is true to this with the addition of teaching and coaching tips and graded shooting and written tests as well as presentations by each student.

We started on Friday morning with introductions and some work in the classroom. Then we moved over to the range. We were each paired with another student with one shooting and the other coaching. After a few drills, we would be paired with a different student. Rangemaster instructors were plentiful and they would coach the coaches as needed.

Saturday was range intensive with a few blocks of classroom instruction mixed in, and we continued to work as both shooters and coaches.

Sunday was game day. We shot for score, took our written test, and made our presentations.

In order to graduate, students had to pass the current FBI qualification course (PQC 13) with a minimum score of 90% (FBI instructor standard), the Rangemaster course with a minimum score of 90%, and pass a written test with an 80% minimum score.

For a little added pressure, each student’s scores are written on their diploma.

 

EPSON007

 

The student with the highest aggregate score in the class is the Top Gun.

 

Tom Givens presenting me with the Top Gun award.

Tom Givens presenting me with the Top Gun award.

 

Anyone need in help in figuring out the sweet part?

I wrote a breathtakingly brilliant paper on this topic in graduate school for an administrative law class.  Okay, I wrote a paper on this topic…

I wish that I could find that paper as I would just upload it here, but that was prior to my walking towards the Mac light and at least three Windows based laptops have met the blue screen of death since that class, and I don’t have a current device that will read the 3.5” storage disks even if I could find the one containing said paper.  So, this will be much shorter than the 15 or so pages I wrote back then, and it certainly isn’t going to be anywhere near as scholarly.

Disclaimer: Some legal scholar is likely to read this and argue that it is the Fourteenth Amendment that bestows the rights I am going to discuss below. They can get their own blog. I prefer to use the text from the Fifth Amendment as it is more commonly known, and it gives me another opportunity to point out that the Miranda Warning is a complete fabrication of the court. Folks tend to forget that there are other parts of the Fifth Amendment, and yes, I know that Miranda includes portions of other amendments.  I understand the 14th Amendment and the theory of incorporation on the states.

And with that:

A long time ago in a nation seemingly far away, a document was written and ratified by a citizenry establishing a social contract and a system of government.  As part of the ratification process, the citizens insisted that certain additions be made to said document, and those additions became the Bill of Rights.

And then lawyers happened…

The Fifth Amendment contains more than the protections against self-incrimination and double jeopardy and other facets of criminal law that are most closely associated with it. Pay attention to the bolded portions below:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

To shorten this up considerably, the lawyers have successfully established in court that public employees have property and liberty interest in their jobs and that in order to be terminated, or lose pay, or be demoted, etc., they must be afforded due process. The employee has a right to a formal hearing and a chance to answer the accusations against them.

Even in specific instances in which an employee does not have a property interest, such as a probationary employee, a liberty interest still exists. As the saying goes, “You can fire a probationary (or at will) employee for no reason. You just fire them for a bad reason.” Employees with no property interest can’t be terminated/demoted/etc. because they choose to go to or not to go to a particular place of worship (religious freedom) or for their diddling preferences (sexual orientation) or any such similar things. Also, if an employee is accused of dishonesty or other things that would sully their “good name” and likely prevent their ability to gain other employment, they must be given an opportunity to “clear their name”.

So, when you see a news story concerning some allegation against a public employee, and the story contains a passage such as “suspended with pay” that does not mean that is the end of things. It means it is the beginning. As the media and the public often have the attention span of a gnat (I presume gnats have short attention spans. I don’t actually know that this is the case, and it may very well be insulting to gnats to make such a comparison. Gnats likely have a longer attention span than the media and public.) and the follow up story, if there is one, comes well down the road and is buried closer to the back page of the story than to the front.

Those that read such stories and make asinine comments such as “paid leave will teach them” or the like truly are idiots in the purest Greek sense of the word. Bless you hearts.

For those that would like a more technical explanation on liberty interest, click here.

I also suggest web searches on the Garrity Warning. Garrity is a tool that can be used in administrative investigations to compel an employee to make a statement; however, any evidence resulting from the use of Garrity may not be used in a criminal prosecution unless it is independently obtained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Georgia Supreme Court recently decided a case concerning private campus officers and qualified immunity.

The first sentence of the decision is as follows:

“We granted certiorari to decide whether a campus police officer employed by a private college qualifies as a “state officer or employee” who may assert immunity from tort suits under the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA), OCGA §§ 50-21-20 to 50-21-37.”

In a previous piece, I outlined the statutory authority of campus law enforcement agencies.  Let me be very clear that this case pertains only to the the campus police agencies of private colleges.  It has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the campus police departments of public educational institutions.

The legal question arises from a case handled by the Agnes Scott College Department of Public Safety (ASCDPS).  The personnel involved are fully certified peace officers.  They attended the same academies as do deputy sheriffs and municipal police officers.

The ASCDPS received a report from a student claiming that she had been sexually assaulted in her dorm room.  She named a suspect.  An officer from the ASCDPS went to a judge and obtained an arrest warrant for the suspect named by the complainant.  The suspect was arrested in Knoxville, TN, and extradited to Georgia.  The suspect offered proof that she was in Knoxville at the time of the alleged assault, and the District Attorney dropped the charges.  The suspect then filed suit against the officers and Agnes Scott College for false arrest.

The officers sought to have the lawsuit dismissed claiming immunity under state law.  The initial trial court rejected this argument; however, the Court of Appeals overturned the trial court.  To simplify the writing of this, the statute provides that law enforcement officers have immunity, but the statute also excludes private organizations.  The appellate decision was split.  The state Supreme Court recognized the reasoning of the appellate decision but overturned the decision due to Agnes Scott College being a private organization.

So, yes, the ASCDPS officers are in fact law enforcement officers, but as they work for a private organization, they are not covered under the state’s immunity laws.

Again, this ruling does not apply to the campus police officers of public institutions.

Now that the legal question has been settled, the actual lawsuit is clear to go forward.

“Every shotgun is a snowflake.”  –Erik Lund

Having previously taken a rifle class from Erik Lund, I welcomed the opportunity to take his Performance Shotgun course.  Erik was assisted in this class by Todd Lit.

LPCShotgunannoucement-page-001_zps7d498fa5

Of note, I have been firmly camped on the Remington 870 side of the Remington versus Mossberg question for several decades, but I won a Mossberg 590A1 in a drawing, and rather than learning my way around it in privacy, I thought it a much better course of action to trot it out in front of a group of people so that they could witness the process…

I did carry along a trusty 870P just in case I needed my security blanket.

The 590A1 in question has been upgraded to a Magpul forend, a Dave’s Metal Works aluminum follower and a Big Dot sight.  From previous experience, I have found that the Bog Dot sight works really well for buckshot, but slugs at 50 yards start to become a challenge as the sight covers up so much of the target.

Erik Lund

 

This class was not a basic or introductory class in that we didn’t spend time on basic loading and unloading drills or rudimentary discussions on shotgun ammo.  Erik did take a few moments to dispel a couple of shotgun myths.  One of these was the oft repeated notion that the sound of a pump shotgun action being worked was enough to win an encounter.  Another was the myth that a pump shotgun was more reliable than a semi-auto shotgun.  While this may be mechanically true, it is not true of shooter induced malfunctions.

As for technique, Erik is a proponent of consistency across platforms.  As such, his stances for pistol, carbine, and shotgun are all similar.  He stresses being balanced and having your hips oriented towards the target.

After the introductions and safety briefings, we jumped right into the shooting.

We began with a patterning drill.  Erik described shotguns as “every shotgun is a snowflake” stressing that even across the same lines of ammo and firearms that they will perform differently in each shotgun.  This was proved correct during the patterning drill.  As for buckshot, the clear winner for tightest pattern was the Federal Flight Control 00 buckshot.

From there, we did a few basic manipulation drills making sure that everyone was up to speed with the operation of their particular shotgun, and then we moved to reloading drills; a lot of reloading drills.  Both strong and support hand drills were taught.  After we worked through all of theses different drills, Erik told us to pick the one we preferred and to use it for the remainder of the class.   We worked predominantly from a sidesaddle.  Most of my previous shotgun work has been done using a belt mounted ammo carrier.  While I prefer loading from a belt mounted carrier, I do believe that working from a sidesaddle makes more sense as the ammo goes wherever the gun goes.  It is a much simpler equation to simply grab the shotgun and go than it does to take the extra steps of affixing belt carriers.

Personal note:  I strongly suggest using a sidesaddle that attaches by means other than the action pins.  These are often installed incorrectly, usually due to over or under tightening  of the pins, causing malfunctions.  I’ve also heard of the additional stress on the pins leading to their breaking.  I once had an issue to where the action wouldn’t lock, but everything looked fine. 

As to reloading techniques, we predominantly focused on those that would be used by the typical armed citizen or peace officer, but we did get to play around with a few of the competition oriented techniques, and Erik and Todd worked individually with any of the three gunners who wanted to work specifically on those techniques.

Erik Lund explaining a slug integration technique.

 

After the extensive reloading work, we shot slugs at 25 and 50 yards and practiced slug integration (slug exchange, select slug, etc) techniques as well as handgun transitions.  A note on the Big Dot sight is that using the top curving edge of the sight at distance makes getting hits at distance a more reliable prospect.

We wrapped up with a few fun-and-gun drills.

As for the 590A1, all in all it performed well.  I experienced no mechanical malfunctions.  The difference in the location of controls did get me a couple of times.  The guy shooting next to me commented on one such occasion,  “It looked like you got into your truck but somebody had moved the seat.”  As the day went on, it did begin to become less awkward.  It never quite got to the point where it pointed as naturally for me as does an 870.

A couple of things that I prefer about the 590 are the lack of a loading gate and the fact that the ejector can be replaced with a screwdriver rather than returning the firearm to the factory.  I will also grudgingly admit that location of the safety switch has some advantages.   If an identically equipped 870 and 590A1 were next to each other on a rack, and I had to grab one and go, I’d probably grab the 870, but after this class, I would feel comfortable picking up the 590A1.

Logic Me Not

Posted: May 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Regardless of where you come down on private citizens carrying firearms in public, and no matter what your views are concerning Georgia’s House Bill 60, the complete failure of logic occurring among the governing authorities of some Georgia counties and municipalities is astounding.

Under current state law, it is illegal to carry a firearm into a “government building”.  Here is the definition of a government building from 16-11-127 O.C.G.A.:

(3) “Government building” means:

(A) The building in which a government entity is housed;

(B) The building where a government entity meets in its official capacity; provided, however, that if such building is not a publicly owned building, such building shall be considered a government building for the purposes of this Code section only during the time such government entity is meeting at such building; or

(C) The portion of any building that is not a publicly owned building that is occupied by a government entity.

(4) “Government entity” means an office, agency, authority, department, commission, board, body, division, instrumentality, or institution of the state or any county, municipal corporation, consolidated government, or local board of education within this state.

Currently, the only thing keeping armed criminals from entering many government buildings within the state is words on a piece of paper: a written law.  Outside of courthouses, active security screening is not present in the majority of government buildings.

HB60 changes state law as to carry into government buildings.  Effective July 1, 2014, it will be legal for the holder of a Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL) to carry into government buildings that do not have active security screening.  It will still be illegal for those who do not hold a GWCL to enter such buildings.

Now, as to the logic failure, a simple perusal of media outlets indicates that there are numerous city and county governments contemplating installing security equipment and hiring security staff to conduct screening at government buildings that do not currently have such security measures in place.

That’s right, the city and county governments in question who before were not worried about armed criminals entering their buildings thus they took no measures to stop it are now taking active measures to prevent legally armed citizens, citizens who have undergone background checks and obtained licenses no less, from entering.

One more time: no security measures to prevent armed criminals from entering versus security measures to prevent legally armed citizens from entering.

That’s right; people who took no steps to keep out armed criminals are taking steps to keep out people who have actually passed background checks.  I just wanted to make sure everybody was clear on that.

But wait, the law said criminals can’t enter government buildings with firearms, and we all know criminals are so good at obeying laws…

The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 60 which made changes to Georgia’s firearms carry laws. For the most part, my opinion is that this a good piece of legislation in that it clarifies some ambiguities, and more importantly, it clearly codifies into law what the courts have already ruled: there is no firearms exception to the Fourth Amendment and the mere presence of a firearm alone is not sufficient reason to detain a citizen.

Unfortunately, there is one portion of the bill that will prove to be problematic. Currently, all places of worship are “off limits” for Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL) holders. Under HB60, the governing bodies of places of worship may take the affirmative step to allow firearms carry on their premisses and at their services. Unless this affirmative step is taken by a respective place of worship, it will remain an off limits location.

Rather than take the position that places of worship are private property and treating them just as any other private property in the state, the legislature has created tool of division that is going to ripple through congregations throughout the state. Some congregants will be mad because the governing body of their particular place of worship chose not to allow firearms carry. Likewise, some congregants will be mad because the governing body of their particular place of worship took the opposite approach.

Furthermore, suppose the congregants and governance of an individual church desire to allow carry; however, the church is part of a denomination and the powers that be for the denomination go the other way and impose said ruling upon all member churches. The individual church breaking away from the denomination is not a simple matter as that might seem. In some denominations, the congregation does not own the title to the church building, the denomination does. This could lead to court battles over control of church property.

I am not normally a “the sky is falling” type person, but I simply foresee a lot of consternation and strife coming from this. Stand by for the law of unintended consequences.