Sunday, January 31, 2010

Detroit Michigan CPL Classes: Trigger Control

Detroit CCW Classes: Shooting Center-Of-Mass

[Video] Michigan CCW Class: Posturing As A Response To A Violent Encounter

[Video] Detroit CCW Class: Can You Shoot A Predator?

Detroit Michigan CCW Class: Saturday February 13th, 2010

We are pleased to announce another CCW/CPL Class of this year! So, if you have a desire to qualify for a Concealed Pistol License, so that you can feel safe, register for our next class.

Southfield Hampton Inn
27500 Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield, Michigan 48034

Option I

Pay Tuition in Advance ($150) and Save $25! (Total Cost: $150 + Range Expenses)

Option II

Pay Tuition ($175) within 7 days before class.
(Total Cost: $175 + Range Expenses)

Register at our site:

Range expenses will be incurred at the range to handle gun rental, range time, ammunition costs, and a fee for a target. The estimated fee is $35.

Our class starts at 8:00 a.m. sharp!

Detroit Michigan CCW CPL Class - 99 - December 28, 2008

[Video] Detroit Concealed Carry Class: First-Time Shooter

[Video] Detroit Michigan CCW Cpl Classes: Student Testimonial #118

[Video] Detroit Michigan CCW CPL Class Student Video Testimonial #117

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Handguns 101: Load Cartridges - Shoot Bullets

Without fail, almost all students in my Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Class - at one time or another - improperly use the term 'bullet.' The purpose of this article is to definitively define the term and how to properly use it within the context of using a handgun.

What Is A Bullet?
A bullet is a projectile, usually made of lead, that exits the muzzle of a discharged firearm. However, handguns are not directly loaded with them. Instead, handguns are initially loaded with a device, known as a cartridge, which has a bullet as one of its constituent components. The other three parts of a cartridge are a casing, primer, and a smokeless powder charge.

What Are The Other Components Of A Cartridge?
The casing of a cartridge for handguns is usually made of brass, cylindrical in shape, and has a flat face - the headstamp - at one end. Headstamps usually have markings to indicate the caliber, the manufacturer's mark, and any +P or +P+ designations.

In .22 caliber handguns, the primer - a spark creating substance - is placed around the bottom rim of the casing. Thusly, it is known as a "rimfire" round of ammunition.

In contrast, higher caliber rounds of ammunition have a small metal cup of primer pressed into place into the center of the casing's headstamp. It is thusly known as a "centerfire" round of ammunition.

In either scenario, rimfire or centerfire, the pulling of a handgun's trigger causes the firing pin to strike the primer which causes a spark. This resulting spark ignites another cartridge component - smokeless powder - which causes an explosion. The generated forces cause the casing's wall to expand outwards to meet the wall of the handgun's chamber.

With no other path to follow, the cartridge's remaining component - the bullet - is rapidly propelled down the feed ramp into and through the spirally cut grooves of the barrel until it exits the handgun via the muzzle. Upon its exit at a high rate of speed, it spins like a top along its aerial path until it hits a target.

Bottom Line:
Handguns are loaded with cartridges, which have a bullet as one of its components. Bullets are projectiles that are discharged from a handgun's muzzle. Thus, you should not ask to purchase bullets at the gun shop when you wish to directly load your handgun. You should ask for cartridges.

Many gun shops also sell bullets to gun enthusiasts who like to "reload" their ammunition. So, if you ever ask for bullets you may get a bag of them from a clerk with an absolutely wicked sense of humor.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Michigan Concealed Pistol Class: Ammunition Malfunctions

A handgun is a mechanical device. As such, it can fail to operate as desired for a variety of reasons. One potential source of failure can be caused by an ammunition malfunction. Most ammunition malfunctions are caused by a dilution of the cartridge's powder charge potency. This article will discuss three common ammunition malfunctions: misfires, hangfires, and squib loads.

Most gun owners who properly store their extra ammunition in non-hostile environmental conditions, will not experience an malfunction. Keep your cartridges in their original boxes in a dry location devoid of extreme temperatures - hot or cold. However, be mindful that if you are open to buying remanufactured ammo at gun shows that you have no reliable guarantee as to their quality. Caveat Emptor.

One such ammunition malfunction is called a misfire. A misfire occurs when the handgun fails to discharge after the trigger is pulled. The only sound that can be heard is the firing pin punching the primer cap. This malfunction is caused by a total breakdown of the resident powder charge in the cartridge.

Another ammunition malfunction is called a hangfire. A hangfire occurs when the handgun does not immediately discharge after the trigger is pulled. There is a noticeable delay, sometimes as long as 15 seconds, before a bullet exits the barrel's muzzle. This malfunction is caused by a delayed ignition of the cartridge's resident powder charge by the struck primer cup.

Thus, it should be apparent that if a handgun does not immediately discharge when the trigger is pulled, that the identification of the experienced malfunction is in doubt; at that time it could either be a misfire or a hangfire.

Accordingly, the shooter should continue to follow fundamental firearm safety rules - especially Rule One. The firearm should be kept in a safe direction at all times, even during an ammunition malfunction. There are several documented stories in which a shooter of a handgun with a hangfire malfunction managed to shoot himself in the face while trying to trouble-shoot a misdiagnosed misfire.

Most handgun operator guides will instruct gun owners to count to 30 aloud before concluding that the suspected misfire is not a hangfire. In either scenario, the firearm should be pointed in a safe direction, just in case. If the malfunction was caused by a misfire, the unfired round should then be removed from the pistol and sequestered from other good rounds until it can either be safely recycled (i.e. reloaded) or disposed.

Moreover, a squib load is an ammunition malfunction that occurs when the bullet fails to fully traverse the handgun's barrel after the trigger is pulled. This malfunction is often diagnosed by both a discernible difference in the amount of felt recoil (i.e. kick) and the loudness from the discharge. Squib loads are caused by a deterioration of the cartridge's powder charge such that the resultant force wasn't strong enough expel the bullet from the muzzle.

If you think that you have a squib load, do not fire upon another cartridge in the handgun. If you did, it would be the equivalent of shooting a live cartridge at a bullet stuck in the barrel of your handgun. An explosion could result with the damage of your handgun, severe bodily harm of the shooter or other persons close by, or both.

Squib load malfunctions should be resolved by unloading the handgun while keeping the handgun pointed in a safe direction. If you are unable to safely unload the handgun, put it down and find a knowledgeable firearm user to assist you. Once the handgun is emptied, an implement should be used to push the bullet out of the barrel from the chamber side.

Bottom Line:
Ammunition malfunctions are not a common occurrence if a shooter only uses quality reloaded ammo or factory produced cartridges that have been properly stored in non harsh environments. However, all shooters should be aware of them so that they will know how to properly diagnose the issue and how to safely resolve them. In all cases, all fundamental firearm safety rules and admonishments from the operator's guide should be strictly followed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dry Fire Practice Suggestions

One inexpensive way to improve your marksmanship skills with a handgun is to perform dry fire practice. Dry firing your handgun is practicing your trigger pull with an unloaded firearm. A smooth trigger pull is a key component of being able to accurately hit the bullseye on your target; only aiming - capturing a proper sight picture - is more important. This article will provide you with some suggestions that will help to ensure that your usage of this training exercise will be safe.

The very first thing you need to investigate is whether your handgun was designed to be dry fired. Your owner's manual will specify if dry firing will not damage your handgun. Failure to verify the capability of your firearm may invalidate your warranty, so check it. If you don't have the manual for your handgun, you should be able to locate one from the manufacturer's web site on the Internet.

Next, you should locate a place to conduct your dry fire drill. Your designated place should have a ballistically safe wall, such that if a gun discharged, a bullet would not over-penetrate it. Further, this room should not be a place where you regularly store firearms or ammunition.

When you are prepared to conduct your dry fire drills, unload your firearm. Double-check it and make absolutely sure that there are no rounds of ammunition loaded within your firearm. If you are unsure as to how to verify that your handgun is unloaded, don't conduct dry fire exercises. It's that important.

Find a fixed spot on your ballistically safe wall and align your sights. With the middle fleshy part of your trigger finger's first segment, make contact with the trigger and pull it straight back in one continuous smooth pull. If you are practicing with an auto-loader, cycle your slide after every shot to prepare the gun for additional dry fire shots.

When you have concluded your dry fire exercises, allow yourself 15 minutes to 'cool down' before reloading your handgun with ammunition. Once your firearm is loaded, loudly yell, "My gun is now loaded!" three times. You need to be consciously aware of the fact that a trigger pull with a loaded handgun will cause a bullet to be fired. A surprisingly significant percentage of accidental discharges occur after dry fire practice.

Bottom Line:
Dry firing your handgun is a FREE way to improve your marksmanship skills. Dry firing a handgun can be done almost anywhere and provides new shooters with much needed trigger control skills. Dry fire practice can be a totally safe training activity if a few basic precautions are followed: use a firearms-free dry fire area with a ballistically safe wall and allow yourself a cool-down period.

14 Additional Things Firearms Instructors Know

I've been a Firearms Instructor for a few years. During that period of time, I've learned a few things along the way. I shared a few of my insights in an earlier post on this blog, "14 Things Firearms Instructors Know." This posting shares a few more insights:

- Not all Firearms Instructors are gun rights activists.

- Smaller class sizes create a better learning environment for students. They are more comfortable asking questions when not crammed in a tiny room with 49 other students.

- If students don't register in advance, there is an 80% chance they will "no-show."

- 80% of my students were victims of a recent crime: burglary, home invasion, robbery, or rape.

- No one can convince or "sell" a person to take Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Class; they have to decide to do so because they want to.

- Everyone who takes a CPL Class will not apply for the actual license; the responsibility of gun ownership is not for everybody. I applaud their honesty with themselves.

- At least 20% of what you think you know about firearms is wrong.

- Even the most active gun enthusiast will learn something of value in a gun safety class.

- There is no accurate stereotype that describes all gun owners.

- Most Firearms Instructors know Firearms Law better than law enforcement officers.

- With proper instruction, it is not uncommon for a new shooter to hit the bullseye on his first shot.

- Crime is worse than you think. We hear from victims almost daily. Most stories are not broadcasted via the media and all crimes are not reported to the police.

- If you've never fired a handgun, we know that you are terrified. Relax. If we didn't believe that you could safely discharge a handgun, we wouldn't give you an opportunity to shoot.

- For many people, we are the public face of responsible gun owners. Our behavior, conduct, and actions must make a positive impact on you, so that you can also be an ambassador for others seeking your advice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Detroit Michigan CCW Class - Saturday, January 30, 2010

We are pleased to announce another CCW/CPL Class of this year! So, if you have a desire to qualify for a Concealed Pistol License, so that you can feel safe, register for our next class.

Southfield Hampton Inn
27500 Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield, Michigan 48034

Option I

Pay Tuition in Advance ($150) and Save $25! (Total Cost: $150 + Range Expenses)

Option II

Pay Tuition ($175) within 7 days before class.
(Total Cost: $175 + Range Expenses)

Register at our site:

Range expenses will be incurred at the range to handle gun rental, range time, ammunition costs, and a fee for a target. The estimated fee is $35.

Our class starts at 8:00 a.m. sharp!

Detroit Michigan CCW CPL Class - 99 - December 28, 2008

[Video] Ammunition Malfunction: Hangfires and Misfires

[Video] How To Legally Transport A Handgun Without A CPL In Michigan

[Video] Why Do Handgun Barrels Have Grooves and Lands?

[Video] The Minimum Defensive Handgun Caliber is 9mm

[Video] The Second Amendment Authorizes Open Carry

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are You Legally Armed But Totally Clueless About Michigan Firearm Law?

I meet a lot of people who, upon discovering that I am a Firearms Trainer, voluntarily disclose that they have a state of Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL). In many of these discussions it becomes readily apparent to me that quite a few of them are totally clueless about Michigan Firearm Law.

As a practical matter, I never ask to see their permits but I surmise that a few of them don't have a CPL and that the others do but did not take a bona fide Basic Pistol Safety Training Class. Since many folks do not research the legal requirements for a "good" class before getting trained, it is possible that many of these clueless but licensed folks don't know that they are ignorant of the law.

This article will present legal questions that a properly trained CPL licensee should know:

- Do you know exactly under what circumstances in which lethal force can be used?

- Do you know if you have a duty to retreat, where possible, before using lethal force?

- Do you know if having a CPL gives you permission to kill someone if they are trying to attack you?

- Do you know if you can legally shoot someone for merely attempting to break into your home?

- Do you know if you can shoot an intruder in your home in his back?

- Do you know if you can legally shoot someone for merely trying to steal your car?

- Do you know the places in the state of Michigan where you can't legally carry a concealed handgun with only a restricted CPL?

- Do you know if you can legally carry a concealed handgun, with a restricted CPL, in a "house of worship?"

- Do you know if you can legally defend a complete stranger from a violent attack?

- Do you know what a CPL licensee must do when stopped by a law enforcement officer?

- Do you know how to act when law enforcement officers arrive in the aftermath of a shooting incident in which you were involved?

- Do you know if you are responsible for a bullet after it hits an assailant who was attacking you?

- Do you know if you can legally issue a warning shot?

- Do you know how much time you have to report a missing or stolen handgun?

- Do you know if you can carry your handgun in another state?

If you don't know with absolute certainty the answers to the aforementioned questions, you are clueless about Michigan Firearm Law. As a consequence, our community will be less safe until you either take a bona fide gun safety class or stop carrying a handgun. If you don't do either, you could very easily find yourself facing a murder charge and a civil wrongful death lawsuit.

Do the right thing.

[Video] How To Be Aware Of Your Environment

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Michigan Concealed Pistol License Class: Warning Shots

Almost without fail, a student in the Concealed Pistol License (CPL) classes that I teach will bring up the topic of "warning shots." A warning shot, often seen in movies and television programs, occurs when a person intentionally discharges a firearm in the general direction of a person without the intent of causing harm. This article will explain why a person should never issue a warning shot.

A Firearm Is A Tool Of Last Resort

Pulling the trigger of a firearm is using lethal force. In Michigan, the usage of lethal force is only authorized under a narrow band of simultaneously occurring circumstances: The shooter must be in a place where he has a legal right to be, and the shooter must not be committing a crime, and the shooter must have both a reasonable and honest belief that he is in imminent jeopardy of severe bodily harm, sexual assault, or death.

If a person is facing imminent harm from an assailant, he would probably not have time to "issue a warning shot." Rather, that person should be using whatever training, tools, and talents at his disposal towards eliminating the threat to his safety. In other words, he "should" be shooting his assailant in his center-of-mass until he is no longer a threat. To do otherwise, could imply that there was no imminent threat. Discharging your firearm at a person who is not a threat could lead to criminal charges. Thus, you should discharge your firearm at a threat or not discharge your firearm at all.

Bullets Don't Have Names On Them

Moreover, a warning shot could literally backfire and cause additional legal problems for the shooter if the shooter hits an unintended target. If a shooter intentionally discharges his firearm - whether it is aimed directly at a threat or in another direction in the general area of the potential threat - the intent to fire "legally" travels with the bullet until it reaches its eventual resting place.

Bullets do not have a predictable path when they glance off of hard surfaces, such as a body of water, a building, or the pavement. Accordingly, an issued warning shot could then "accidentally" hit an unintended person. The intent to fire travels to the struck person. Legally speaking, the shooter of a warning shot could be in the unenviable position of having "intentionally" shot someone who was not a threat to him. In legal circles, this scenario may be called murder or manslaughter.

Do You Have The Nerve To Protect Yourself?

A person under an impending and imminent threat, may elect to issue a warning shot because he does not want to hurt his would-be attacker. Rather than focusing on the elimination of the threat, the shooter wants to merely bluff to his attacker that he has the will to pull the trigger of a handgun.

In many cases, an attacker may retreat when confronted with the display of a handgun and an intentionally errant shot. However, a more seasoned and determined criminal may be emboldened by the shooter's lack of will and apparent cowardice to defend himself with a shot aimed for the threat's center-of-mass.

A person who lacks the will to defend himself with a handgun - by shooting a threat's center-of-mass - should not carry a handgun. A gun owner's lack of will to defend himself could eventually lead to the handgun being taken from the owner, the owner getting beaten and/or shot with his own gun, and another illegal handgun being available for future crimes via the local black market.

Bottom Line:

A person legally carrying a handgun should never issue a warning shot. If his immediate circumstances are such that Michigan law authorizes him to use lethal force, he should do so without hesitation. However, if he lacks the will or the courage to shoot a threat to his safety in its center-of-mass he shouldn't carry a handgun for personal protection.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How To Determine In A 60 Second Phone Call If A Michigan CCW Class Is Legitimate

Some prospective Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Training students like to "shop prices" when selecting a firearms training service. However, many shoppers don't know enough about the industry to effectively weed out the scam artists when doing their evaluations. Thus, they're not going to be to make "apples-to-apples" comparisons and, as a consequence, not make a wise decision.

The purpose of this article is to detail how five quick questions - asked over a phone call - can positively determine within 60 seconds if a firearms training service is offering CPL classes that do not comply with the law - PA 381 of 2000.

Five Questions That Will Identify Bogus CPL Training Services

1. What organization has certified the Chief Firearms Instructor?

The first thing that a student should check when evaluating a CPL training class is to check out the credentials of the organization sponsoring the class. The state of Michigan, as a governmental organization, has chosen the Michigan Coalition Of Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) organization as its officially designated organization to provide CPL training.

In addition, the statute also makes reference to "national firearms training organizations" as being qualified to conduct CPL training classes. It is widely understood that this designation in the statute authorizes credentialed National Rifle Association (NRA) trainers to conduct CPL training courses.

For corroboration, both MCOLES and NRA certified instructors have credential cards that can viewed by prospective students to confirm they are qualified - by the state of Michigan statute - to conduct CPL training.

Credentials from other organizations - "state firearms training organizations" or otherwise - conducting CPL training should be scrutinized closely. If necessary, contact your local county gun board to confirm whether they would accept a Course Completion Certificate from that group.

2. What is the name of the class being taught?

The only NRA class that meets the legal requirements for a Michigan CPL is entitled "Personal Protection In The Home."

The only MCOLES class that meets the legal requirements for a Michigan CPL is entitled "Michigan Basic Pistol Safety Training Class."

If the class you are evaluating is entitled something else, do not take that class.

3. How Many Hours In Length Is The Class?

By statute, the classroom section must be at least 5 hours in length. Further, the shooting part of the class must be at least three hours in length. Thus, if the total class length is not eight hours in length, do not take that class.

4. What Are The Qualifications Of The Person Teaching The Legal Section Of The Class?

Only a law enforcement officer with Police Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.) or a state bar certified attorney should teach the legal section of the class. Firearms instructors are not qualified to teach this section of the class.

5. Does The Training Include A Range Exercise Whereby A Real Handgun Will Be Discharged?

If the class does not feature a live-fire training exercise with a real handgun, do not take that class; many scam artists are illegally training students with BB Guns and Airsoft™ Pistols.

Bottom Line:
It only takes 60 seconds to know if you are dealing with a reputable firearms training service - You just need to know which questions to ask. Once you have determined that a service provider is legit, you can now make valid comparisons between it and other legitimate firms.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

14 Things Firearm Instructors Know

I've been doing firearms training for a while and in so doing learned a few things along the way. In no particular order, they are listed as the following:

If you use the terms clip and bullet in the wrong context when talking about a pistol, you lack basic firearm knowledge.

Neophyte men students are just as unknowledgeable about guns as women; they fake it well.

New women students tend to shoot better than their male counterparts; they pay attention.

Women usually score higher score on the gun safety examination; guys already know it all.

If you are not used to shooting, the gun will get heavy and you'll get a tightened sensation in the chest and shoulders area.

If you are a woman wearing a shirt with a plunging neck line, a hot cartridge casing will lodge itself into your bra.

Shooting accurately is a depreciable skill that must be continually practiced.

A student will not be a gunslinger after one firearm safety class.

Some students are "naturals" at shooting. It's a great feeling to see someone discover an unknown talent.

A lot of what you see in the movies and on TV about guns is a bunch of BS.

A person who brags about being able to shoot accurately usually has trouble proving it.

There is no such thing as a "ladies gun."

Older guy shooters tend to favor revolvers and need to be watched to ensure they don't get their thumb cut behind the slide of an autoloader.

"All-Ladies Classes" are a marketing gimmick. They key is to take a class with a credentialled, qualified, and knowledgeable instructor.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crime Prevention, Public Safety, and Personal Protection Tips

I tweeted some crime prevention, public safety, and personal protection tips on Twitter recently. For austerity, I am reprinting it here:

If the only side to a story is your account, make it good or pay a lawyer to speak for you.

If every law-abiding citizen in Detroit actively ensured the safety of his home & his business, a 38 minute DPD response would be OK.

DPD could cut its response time in half if it spent the Obama stimulus cash on arming senior citizens and single women with kids.

Imagining senior citizens with guns is like picturing them having sex: They need it but you don't want to see it.

#fact - The politician who tells you to be unarmed has armed security. Is his safety more important than yours?

#fact - The average family spends more time planning summer vacation than it does on staying safe for the year.

All it takes to rob you blind is to ring your bell and bust out a back window if you don't answer. What are going to do?

#fact - All it takes to commit a robbery is to stake out a parking lot after dark and follow a woman home.

#fact - The police won't tell you that safety is your responsibility; your dependence is their job security.

#fact - Education, jobs, business, and investment can't happen in Detroit until we handle our crime problem.

#fact - Taking your unarmed boyfriend to the store after dark means that the jackers get a 2-for-1.

#fact - 12 gauge shotguns are awesome defensive firearms, if you know how to safely operate them. I can teach you how.

#fact - In Michigan, if an invader breaks into or is in the process of breaking into your home he is presumed by law to be a threat.

#fact - Cops are still telling people to drag bodies into houses. Can you say C.S.I.?

There is a reason why there isn't a CSI Detroit TV show; DPD's crime lab got shut down because of their incompetence.

There is a reason why DPD's case closure rate is 30 percent: incompetence.

Knowing a little bit about lethal force will get you in a lot of trouble - quit talking to cops and take my CCW Class.

Do you about these concepts: Lethal Force, Transfer of Intent, Castle Doctrine, Over-Kill, & STSTT? Class is in session this Saturday.

#fact - Most indoor ranges won't let you shoot tactical pistol grip shotguns without a stock; restrictive insurance costs.

Short & Easy Handgun Quiz: Semi-Automatics Vs Revolvers

Take the following handgun quiz. Answer each question - True or False.

  1. Semi-Automatics fire faster than revolvers.
  2. Revolvers are easier to clean and maintain than semi-automatics..
  3. Semi-Automatics are deadlier than revolvers.
  4. Revolvers never jam, seize up, or fail to fire - like semi-automatics.
  5. Revolvers are easier to load and reload than semi-automatics.
  6. Unlike revolvers, semi-automatics are armed with bullets in clips.
  7. Unlike revolvers, semi-automatics can discharge more than once per single trigger pull.

How'd you do?

The answers? OK, here goes... if you answered 'TRUE' to any of these questions, you failed that question. in other words, every answer is 'FALSE.'

I love trick quizzes.

24 Things Every Defensive Handgun Owner Should Also Possess

Every "community" surrounding an activity has needs that its constituent members should own to acquire maximum benefit of that endeavor. The "gun community" is not different, as every defensive handgun owner should possess, in no particular order, the following things:

Intangible Assets

  • Firearm Safety
  • Knowledge of the Law
  • Access to Legal Counsel
  • Situational Awareness
  • Defensive Tactics
  • Survival Mindset

Tangible Assets

  • Cleaning Kit
  • Car Safe
  • House Safe/Lockbox
  • Gun Case
  • Gun Locks
  • Extra Magazines
  • Magazine Holders
  • Good Belt
  • Tactical Flashlight
  • Cell Phone
  • Tactical Knife
  • Body Holster
  • Car Holster
  • Defensive Ammo
  • Target Ammo
  • Range Bag
  • Protective Eyewear
  • Hearing Protection
  • Baseball Cap
  • Backup Firearm

Got everything you need?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why You Should Never Make Statements To Police Without An Attorney

Michigan students, enrolled in a bona fide Personal Protection Class (CCW/CPL), are usually surprised to learn that they are being taught to not make any statements to police officers - without consulting with an attorney - in the aftermath of a self-defense shooting.

From the students perspective, they are innocent actors in an unscripted scene of violence in a horror film. Accordingly, they believe that in their role of law-abiding citizen, they should be fully cooperative with the law enforcement officers who were summoned on-location to investigate the defensive shooting. However, they couldn't be more wrong, as it is probably the worse thing they could possibly do.

Police Officers Are Not Your Friend At The Scene Of A Crime

When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a shooting, their job is not to calm and comfort victims. Nor is it to protect the Constitutionally protected rights of the person, who just moments before, was in a life-or-death battle. Professional police officers have a job to do and will perform it admirably: secure the scene, protect evidence, interview witnesses, and arrest suspects.

In all likelihood, if a citizen is involved in a shooting he will be arrested. Since many law-abiding folks have not had that experience and don't wish to readily acquire it, they may wish to fully cooperate with the investigating officers to prevent that from happening. The dirty little secret, that the police won't tell you when they show up, is that no matter what the victims say, he is probably going to be arrested anyway as a formality. Thus, cooperation offers no benefit to the victim.

Furthermore, providing a statement to the police is in many cases not needed for them to figure out what transpired before they arrived. There are a variety of clues present that should provide a working theory: broken windows, pry marks, kicked in doors, cartridge casing locations, blood splatter marks, and etc. The police are experts at deducing what happened. For all practical purposes, they don't need a statement from the victim to do their job. Moreover, it doesn't make the victim look guilty either.

Making A Statement Without An Attorney Is A Legal Suicide Attempt

Victims will be pressed by the attending police officers to make a statement about the shooting incident. A variety of approaches and tactics may be used to acquire it. It is completely legal for police officers to lie to victims, play psychological games, and make promises they can't legitimately make and keep in an effort to get an official account of what transpired.

In the aftermath of a life threatening encounter, victims may experience a variety of scientifically proven mental and physiological effects: time distortion, memory suppression, auditory exclusion, tunnel vision, adrenaline rush, elevated blood pressure, and etc. This is not the optimum time for a victim to recover from his life-and-death battle and to provide an official report. In fact, a statement made at this point may not match up with the evidence at the scene, even if the victim behaved lawfully.

The police will not inform the victim of the legal boundaries for a self-defense case. So, if a victim provides a statement that does not mirror the law by touching upon all required elements in the law, the victim will be arrested and charged with a crime.

Later, when the victim has recovered and has retained the services of an attorney to provide a revised version of the story that argues how he did act lawfully, the police will assert that the story has materially changed because of the possibility of jail time.

Bottom Line:
In essence, you only get one time to make a first statement to the authorities in the aftermath of a shooting. Do it correctly at the scene under almost impossible circumstances or take your time to document it within the framework of the law with the advice of a legal professional. The difference in the results could be as stark as spending only a weekend in jail awaiting bond or spending the rest of your life behind bars because you gambled on your future.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tigh Croff: Tragic Hero or Urban Vigilante

In literature, a "tragic hero" is the principal character in a tragedy whose downfall is caused by the commission of a huge mistake. Unless you have been living in a cave over the past couple of weeks, you are aware of the fact that Mr. Tigh Croff, a 31 year old Detroit resident, has been charged with Second Degree Murder and Felony Firearm as a result of his shooting of a fleeing trespasser at his residence.

This case has garnered a lot of publicity. Some are hailing Croff as a hero who deserves a medal while others are condemning him as being an urban vigilante. Vigilantes are individuals who serve out "street justice" outside the clearly defined boundaries of lethal force law, as characterized by a Charles Bronson character in a franchise of films released in the 1980's.

Not many critical facts surrounding the case have been officially released but that is not a requirement for the Court of Public Opinion to try a case. As such, I am going to recap what I have read about the case in the media, offer my input, and deliver my verdict in this popularity contest based on what I know now.

The Case "Against" Tigh Croff

Aside from the fact that the police confirmed that Croff had a permit to carry a concealed pistol, most of the released information surrounding this case has been apparently damaging:

  • Croff's residence had been burglarized three times in the past week. This tidbit supports the opinion of many that he was fed up with being a crime victim and wanted to even the score with the "bad guys."
  • Croff admitted to police that he chased the trespasser for a block. At that time, allegedly, the chase ended with the trespasser raising his hands while taunting and daring Croff to shoot him.
  • Croff admitted to police that he shot the trespasser, who was discovered - at some point in time - to be unarmed.
  • Assistant Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, who presumably knows more about this case that has been reported in the media, weighed in on the case by stating in the media that, "There is a Dirty Harry element to this."

In the absence of any other information, this scenario looks like it is going to play out like a "slam-dunk" conviction of a fed-up crime victim, who took the law into his own hands and killed a man in cold blood.

The Case "For" Tigh Croff

While some may question the motives behind Croff chasing his alleged trespasser for a block, it was certainly not an illegal act to do so. If it is true that his home had been burglarized an incredulous three times in the past week, it is reasonable to assume that the Detroit Police Department (DPD) had better things to do than babysit his residence while he was at work. Certainly, a plausible justification for the chase could include either trying to get a good identification of the suspected burglar, making a citizen's arrest, or both.

Further, if Croff had fully intended to exact revenge on the trespasser, he certainly had an opportunity to shoot the "bad guy" in the back - at least once - during the chase. Moreover, in my opinion, it works to Croff's favor that he only shot the trespasser once - albeit in the chest - just like Detroit Police Officers are trained to do. Obviously, at that point, the trespasser was no longer a threat and he didn't shoot again. Sounds like a calm law-abiding citizen to me.

I am no criminal psychologist, but if Croff had "lost it" in the heat of the moment, he would have had no problems with either shooting the guy in the back or - when he had the opportunity - to "unload" his entire gun into the "bad guy's" chest. Croff did neither.

Moreover, much talk in the Court of Popular Opinion centered around the trespasser being unarmed. There has been no mention in the media's accounting of this story as to when Croff discovered that the "bad guy" was unarmed. It is totally plausible that this fact was not known until the attending police officers frisked the body.

If a person has the stomache to read the daily newspaper in this town, he would know that it is not uncommon for home invaders to be armed with weapons. It would be wise to assume to this to be a fact until it is proven otherwise. I wouldn't be surprised if Croff assumed the trespasser was armed.

Yet still, I seem to recall a story in the media recently about DPD cops shooting at suspects during a car chase. In that accounting, DPD said that the "perps" must have thrown it from the car at some point. Cops don't lie, right?

Well, in that same vein, it is certainly possible that the trespasser had a gun -loaded or not - and tossed it just in case Croff - and eventually - DPD caught him with it. I haven't heard any info about the trespasser's background, but he could've been a felon not wanting to catch a "Felon-In-Possession" felony charge.

Lastly, we have the reported portion of the story about Croff being taunted when the "bad guy," presumably, was too tired to run any more. In a bona-fide Personal Protection Class, such as the one Croff had to attend before applying for a Concealed Pistol License (CPL/CCW), it is taught that bad guys have three options when captured: run, surrender, or attack.

It is wholly possible and reasonable that the conduct of the trespasser, characterized as mere taunting in the media, had risen to the level of presenting an imminent attack on Croff. It could have been "put up or shut up" time. The "bad guy" could have been making his move to rapidly and aggressively close the distance between the two of them and to try to take Croff's gun.

In the state of Michigan, lethal force is authorized if the victim (i.e. Croff) is somewhere he has a legal right to be, is not in the commission of a crime, and has a reasonable and honest belief that he is in imminent jeopardy of severe bodily harm. It's a forgone conclusion that a responding police officer to this scene is going to arrest the person left standing until the circumstances of the shooting can be determined.

Did The Hero Make A "Tragic" Mistake?

As a credentialed Firearms Trainer who conducts CCW/CPL Classes, I provide a criminal defense attorney to my students to cover all relevant aspects of Michigan Firearms Law as it relates to carrying a concealed handgun. Among those aspects that are taught in my class include, but is not limited to, Lethal Force, Self-Defense, and Statements To Police.

We teach students in my class to not make any statements what-so-ever to the police in the aftermath of a shooting until they have had an opportunity to counsel with their attorney.

Nothing would have been objectionable or suspicious about Croff doing just that. He was going to be arrested regardless of what he said. The job of attending professional police officers at a shooting is to secure the scene of an alleged crime, preserve evidence, interrogate witnesses, and arrest suspects.

In fact, during "officer involved" shootings, I have never recalled the police making an immediate statement about the shooting. The shooting officer is given an opportunity to speak with designated representatives before he gives his official accounting of the story.

While we are talking about it, I don't seem to recall hearing DPD's version of the shooting of a suspect who generated "attention" by impeding traffic; he was walking in the street. All-too-often, the next day's menu of Detroit-style violence has crowded out our interest in what happened yesterday.

So, why do we advise CPL licensees to "lawyer up?" It is very difficult to clearly articulate the legality of your actions during the aftermath of a shooting. Victims, who have been attacked by criminals are undergoing scientifically documented mental and physiological effects that may cause their accounting of events to be inaccurate to what really happened.

You have only have one opportunity to make a first statement. If that statement does not fully incorporate all required elements that have to be present for a valid self-defense claim, the shooter will in all likelihood be charged with a crime. Additionally, police officers can use subterfuge to get a "victim" to confess to a crime: tell out-right lies, run psychological games, and make promises they have no authorization to make or keep. Yep, they can pretend to be your friend all the way up until the time they arrest you and announce in the media that you have confessed to a horrific crime.

That's the way it goes down, especially in a town that is repeatedly crowned the "Most Violent City in America," and has a violent crime case closure rate under 33% - worst in the nation of big cities.

Hopefully, by now Tigh has legal representation to help him articulate the legality of his actions. However, the damage is done. DPD will claim that he is changing his story and that he is lying to "save himself." Tigh might be what is known as "rail-roaded" - being sent to prison for a long time even though he did not commit a crime.

This whole situation is really tragic. The "bad guy" is dead and unless there are any eye-witnesses to what actually transpired, there is only one person that can make a statement about the case - Tigh. He may have "hung himself" by his own words. In fact, I believe even in the absence of with-held facts about this case that he felt that he was doing the right thing by being cooperative with police. He couldn't have been more wrong.

How does a tragedy like this happen? I haven't confirmed it, but it is my belief that he took a CCW Class in which the legal portion was conducted by a law enforcement officer. Cops tell students to make certain admissions to investigators on the scene. I have seen cop-conducted classes with my own eyes. This practice, as in the Tigh case, has already shown, can lead to tragic circumstances. Your rights are being trampled with your future hanging in the balance.

All citizens in this country have rights. Among those are the right to be silent and the right to have legal counsel. Use them, especially in the aftermath of a shooting, even if you are justified and confident in the legality of your actions.

Persons, who believe like I do, believe that Tigh is being railroaded, can make donations to his legal defense fund. The address is listed as the following address:

Legal Defense Fund
National City Bank
17101 Mack Avenue
Detroit, MI 48224

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How To Handle An Erroneously Rejected Michigan Concealed Pistol License Application

According to the latest available annual statistics - at this writing - published in the "2007/2008 Concealed Pistol License Annual Report," on the Michigan State Police web site, exactly 744 of the 33,411 submitted Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Applications were rejected.

Documented classifications for the rejections included the following: Invalid Age (1), No Proof Of Gun Safety Training (5), Invalid Resident/Citizenship Status (4), Active Mental Health or Protection Orders (5), Mental Health Issue (13), Felony Conviction (290), Applicable Misdemeanor Conviction (183), Dishonorable Military Discharge (0), and Licensing Board Decision (243).

There are no compiled statistics, however, on how many CPL applications were - at first - erroneously rejected but later approved. In short, Michigan County Gun Licensing Boards occasionally make mistakes. That fact should not be a surprise when "Licensing Board Decision" rejections - 243 in total - account for one-third of all CPL rejections.

This article will discuss and explore how CPL applications are erroneously rejected, the process by which CPL applicants are notified of their denials, and specify how an erroneously denied CPL applicant can be approved.

How CPL Applications Are Erroneously Rejected

Reviewing CPL applications for approvals is an involved process. The respective County Clerk's Office must ensure that a properly completed application is received, a background check must be performed by the FBI which in turn routes the data back to the Michigan State Police which then sends the info to the respective County Sheriff's Office.

Ultimately, the fingerprint comparison report is eventually sent to the respective County Gun Board with the expectation that a decision on the submitted application - in total - will be announced in a timely manner. This entire process understandably can become a data management and process flow nightmare when you consider how many applications are being simultaneously processed.

According to the latest available monthly Concealed Pistol License County Report - dated December 3rd, 2009, - Wayne County alone processed over 50,000 applications. Within this operating environment, it is plausible that a few mistakes will occur.

Some "erroneous" CPL rejections occur during the Licensing Board Decision process. In theory, the three members of the County Gun Board - one representative from the County Prosecutor's Office, the County Sheriff's Office, and the Michigan State Police - look at each applicant's file and take a vote. If at least two affirmative votes are cast, the CPL application is approved. Else, it is rejected.

Although Public Act 381 of 2000 minimized much of the discretionary licensing authority of County Gun Boards, an obscure passage in the statute allows them to not issue a license if:

Issuing a license to the applicant to carry a concealed pistol in this state is not detrimental to the safety of the applicant or to any other individual. A determination under this subdivision shall be based on clear and convincing evidence of repeated violations of this act, crimes, personal protection orders or injunctions, or police reports or other clear and convincing evidence of the actions of, or statements of, the applicant that bear directly on the applicant's ability to carry a concealed pistol.

In essence, an applicant can pass the criminal background check but be denied licensure on a 2-to-1 judgement call by the County Gun Board. A CPL applicant under the advisement and counsel of an attorney has the right to file suit and attempt to convince a Circuit Court judge that this vote was "capricious and arbitrary" and acquire a CPL.

Another instance in which a CPL rejection can be converted into licensure is by submitting or disclosing information that corrects incorrect info possessed by the County Gun Board. For instance, I have heard of cases in which a person was initially denied a CPL because of erroneous info that was present in the Law Enforcement Information (LEIN) database. Obviously, the solution here is to have the error corrected.

Another source of a licensing error that I have heard about involved the mis-identification of the applicant. In this case, the applicant was confused with his father; with the exception of a suffix (e.g. Sr., Jr., III), their names were identical. Apparently, the father's inability to qualify for a CPL led to his son being erroneously denied. The obvious solution here is to inform the County Gun Board of their error.

Moreover, another erroneous CPL application rejection, I had heard about, involved the County Gun Board not following the letter of the law with respect to eligibility. In this case, an applicant was rejected because he had a "Driving While Impaired - First Offense" conviction. Under the statute, this offense does not disqualify an applicant. The Gun Board erroneously applied the penalty of "Driving While Intoxicated - First Offense" - a three year waiting period.

How CPL Applicants Are Notified Of CPL Application Rejections

If the County Gun Board denies issuance of a CPL to an applicant, the County Gun Board is required by law to do the following within five business days:

  • Inform the applicant in writing of the reasons for the denial.
    • A statement of the specific and articulable facts supporting the denial.
    • Copies of any writings, photographs, records, or other documentary evidence upon which the denial is based.

  • Inform the applicant in writing of his or her right to appeal the denial to the Circuit Court.

How To Contest A CPL Rejection
Presumably, most CPL applicants make themselves aware of the licensing requirements for the permit before submitting an application at their respective County Clerk's office. After all, there's no sense in taking a CPL Training Class and giving the state a $105 application fee on a whim. Thusly, the notification of a rejection "should" come to you as a surprise.

Review the documentation for veracity and accuracy. It is entirely possible that your rejection was either based on erroneous information the County Gun Board had at its disposal or was based in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner - a coin flip.

Consult with an experienced attorney who has documented experience with contesting County Gun Board decisions in Circuit Court. If the two of you jointly believe that you have a winnable case, go forward with a suit. If the court rules in your favor, the judge will order the County Gun Board to immediately issue you a CPL. Furthermore, if the judge determines that your CPL rejection was "arbitrary and capricious," you are entitled to be reimbursed incurred legal representation fees and court costs.

Bottom Line:
Don't assume that the County Gun Board did not err when it evaluated and rejected your CPL application. Mistakes happen. Don't let an error keep you from legally carrying a concealed pistol for your personal protection during these perilous times.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What Every Firearms Owner Should Know About Self-Defense Encounters

In light of all the chatter online about the man who allegedly chased and killed a man a few days ago in Detroit, I dusted off and climbed atop my soapbox on Twitter. Below are some "tweets" I published today in the areas of self-defense, CCW Classes, and statements to law enforcement officers:

I've been getting a lot of calls from folks with CCWs who don't know the law. Lot of shady instructors aren't sleeping well.

A firearms instructor can be held liable for his student's action if the training was grossly negligent: no legal info.

If you have a CCW and don't know the law, you should not carry your handgun outside the home.

#fact - It is a 4 year felony to give a "hook-up" CCW Certificate to a MI Gun Board as proof of training.

Carrying a handgun without knowing the law is like jumping off a cliff without a parachute.

Want an easy way to know if a CCW Class is legit? Read MI PA 381 of 2000.

#fact - A fraudulent CCW is null and void retroactive to date of issuance; legally, you don't have a permit - ticking bomb.

Being too cheap to take a real CCW Class is not worth being tried for murder.

A real CCW Class has a criminal defense attorney teaching the lethal force laws.

Don't take a CCW Class taught by a cop unless he is going to be the officer asking you questions after a shooting.

A CCW is not a James Bond 007 License! Learn and follow the law or suffer the consequences.

Making statements to the police without talking to your attorney may result in an all-expenses paid vacation.

#fact - In Detroit criminals know more about lethal force laws than fraudulent CCW carriers.

If "officer involved" shootings don't result in an immediate statement, maybe civilians should get counsel too.

If you would shop around for a good brain surgeon, you should also shop around for a legit CCW Class.

#fact - Insanity defenses rarely work and when they do, you lose your right to own a gun.

#fact - You don't get a second chance to make a first statement to the police after a shooting.

#fact - If you are not an attorney you will most likely not be able to explain the justification for your self defense case.

#fact - Even if you do everything right when defending yourself, you will still probably be arrested. SHUT UP

Railroaded: When a bad guy gets killed and the legal system has to send a message.

#fact - The police can lie to you and make promises that have no authorization to make.

How many days did it take to investigate DPD Chief Evans and two cops for shooting two guys who were approached for impeding traffic?

Bottom Line: It's some good info in this post. Each statement could be the basis of an article on its own. Which ones would you like for to blog about?