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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gone Fishing!

I have retired this blog for an indefinite period of time.  I'll be launching my new blog: 

 "The Enlightened Warrior"

soon!  The new blog will continued to explore issues relevant to concealed carry, open carry, legislation and other aspects of the right to keep and bear arms with an emphasis on topics of interest in Wisconsin.  But it will include new subject matter regarding advanced concealed carry and the philosophy of warriorship and concealed carry for modern warriors.  

Meanwhile, for the best concealed carry course in the Madison area--- in the entire state--- contact us through

for information regarding monthly Wisconsin concealed carry courses.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Traditional Gun Safety Rules Are Inadequate

 Note:  In today's blog I argue that the basic firearm safety rules, as traditionally taught, lack two rules that are as fundamental as the others.  Your responsibility over a firearm does not only exist while you are personally holding that firearm.  As a gun owner, your responsibility also includes controlling who has access to that firearm, even if you are nowhere in the area.  Proper storage at all times!  Secondly, you must know your firearm.  If you do not understand how it operates, do not shoot on the range while I am there!

The NRA correctly teaches that the most important part of firearms safety is one’s attitude.  Without the proper attitude-- which I describe as a conscious resolve to observe the rules of safe handling of firearms at all times-- the rules mean little.

The traditional rules of gun safety are simple concepts.  An average eight-year old child can understand them and repeat them.  Teaching the rules is not difficult, but attitude is something that cannot really be taught.  When it comes to talking about a proper attitude to firearms safety I tell our course participants “I can preach it, not teach it.”  I can actually do a bit more; I can demonstrate it and try to be a good role model.  

The actual “rules” of firearm safety are normally summarized in just three or four sentences.  The NRA’s safety rules are:

  1. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  3. Keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.

Like I said-- just three lines that are so simple a child can recite them and comprehend their meaning.

Frequently we hear the rules expressed in four lines, which I call “Jeff Cooper’s” rules of firearms safety because this is how this very influential firearms instructor expressed them:

  1. All guns are ALWAYS loaded!
  2. NEVER let the muzzle cover anything that you are NOT willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target.
  4. Always be SURE of the target.

Personally I have always preferred Cooper’s set of rules because I primarily teach shooting as it relates to personal defense, and less as an instructor of shooting for recreational or sporting purposes; and NRA rule #3 “keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot” has limited validity when one is carrying a gun that is “ready to shoot” a great deal of the time in order to be ready for self-defense.  

Statistically the number of accidental shootings has steadily declined for a hundred years. It appears that firearms safety training has had an effect and that the traditional safety rules have served well-- or have they?  Not when you read about stories like this:

Clearly, other than a demonstrated lack of proper attitude to firearms safety by the parents, a completely different rule was violated.  It is a rule that I believe is as important as any of the others shown above:

Gold’s rule:  No unauthorized access to your firearm.  

This obviously involves proper storage when the firearm is not on your person, and maintaining control over who is allowed to touch it when it is on your person.  A knowledge of gun retention techniques is prudent and highly recommended, if not mandatory, for anyone carrying a defensive firearm.

I believe this rule ought to take a permanent place among the NRA rules and any other expression of gun safety rules, such as Cooper’s.  Adherence to this rule would reduce the number of firearms stolen by criminals, and “swiped” by family members.  It would put an end to tragedies such as the one at Yellowstone.

In addition, there is yet another rule that I believe deserves a place among the traditional rules:

Gold’s second rule:  Know your firearm.

Ignorance is a frequent cause of firearms tragedies.  This ignorance comes in two varieties:  ignorance of the safety rules, and ignorance of how to properly operate a particular firearm.  Whether you only understand how a particular revolver operates, or whether you know how to operate every type of semiautomatic handgun on the market, you must have knowledge of how to properly unload and verify as unloaded every gun you handle.  You must also know how to load and shoot it, if you are going to shoot it.  You must know the function of all safety features.  If it is your gun or a gun that you will handle frequently, you ought to understand how to disassemble it, clean it, reassemble it, and verify that it is properly reassembled and in safe working condition.  

Even with the addition of my two rules, a maximum of six rules need to be learned-- and more importantly, followed.  Just six simple sentences, and the proper attitude, that’s all I ask.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


An opinion

The open carry movement in Wisconsin began with the participation of an unknown, but undoubtedly small, number of participants.  Using the vague language of “disorderly conduct” ordinances over the course of a year a handful of open carriers were arrested.  These charges were dropped in every instance but one, and in the one case that went to court the open carrier was acquitted by the municipal judge. 

In  April 2009 Wisconsin Attorney General, J. B. Van Hollen, issued an informal advisory memorandum Attorney General Says Open Carry Is Legal      regarding open carry in response to a growing number of incidents and inquiries from legislators and law enforcement officials and the public.  That Attorney General advised that barring other factors occurring, the mere open carrying of a firearm ought not to result in disorderly conduct charges.  Emboldened by the Attorney General memo, the open carry movement gained considerable momentum across Wisconsin as a number of large “open carry picnics” were organized and attended by hundreds of participants later in 2009.  The picnics not only attracted the participants-- most of whom arrived wearing sidearms-- but the attention of the press around the state, country, and beyond.  

Not everyone in Wisconsin’s law enforcement “got the memo.”  Or, to put it more accurately, their interpretation of the memorandum differed.  I suspect, in reality, some law enforcement agencies simply adopted a “not in my town” attitude to the Attorney General memorandum.  The most noteworthy instance occurred in September 2010 when five open carriers in Madison were harassed by police and given disorderly conduct citations for wearing sidearms while dining at a local fast food restaurant.  Like most open carry disorderly conduct cases, the charges were ultimately dropped and the charged individuals received monetary settlements from the City of Madison.

In every instance of a disorderly conduct citation being issued to an open carrier, the police arrived at the scene in response to an inquiry from a member of the public.  In no instance did the callers express alarm at the sight of a fellow armed citizen, they simply did not know if open carry was legal and called the police.  Following the open carry picnics and widely publicized incidents, particularly the Madison restaurant incident, anyone paying attention to the news in Wisconsin was, or should have been, aware of the legality of open carry.

Less than a year later, 2011 Wisconsin Act 35 was passed, once again legalizing concealed carry in Wisconsin for the first time in over 130 years.  Now people had a choice of carrying a handgun in public openly or with a license, concealed.  Act 35 not only re-established legal concealed carry, but it modified the state disorderly conduct citation by incorporating the gist of the Attorney General’s memorandum by adding:

“Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading, carrying, or going armed with a firearm, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or is concealed or openly carried.” Chapter 947.01(2)

End of story?  No!

Over the course of the past 4 -5 weeks there have been at least three incidents involving open carriers and local Wisconsin police departments.  In Somerset, Wisconsin an individual was detained and cited for disorderly conduct for open carrying a long gun.  Just yesterday, two individuals open carrying long guns were stopped at gunpoint by Appleton, Wisconsin police.  An audio recording made by one of the open carriers was made public last night:

A series of detentions against a Madison resident for open carry of a handgun is also currently under investigation.  However I will not make further comments about that case until more information has been obtained.  

Two of the three recent cases do involve the open carry of long guns-- a practice that is regarded as controversial among many gun rights proponents.  Some believe that carrying a long gun in public is pushing the envelope too far,  and is counterproductive to the gun rights movement.  It should be noted that similar statement were made, and continue to be made by some, regarding open carry of handguns.  

But even those who have reservations about open carry of long guns almost universally acknowledge the legality of it.  The notable exceptions are the police officers involved in these incidents.  

Police are empowered to enforce the laws, not their opinion.  When listening to the statements made by police during the course of these incidents, it is astounding to hear them confidently proclaim and expound non-existent laws and legal basis in justification of the illegal detentions, searches and seizures.  

History has shown that there are two ways for the police in Wisconsin to learn the law and the limits of their authority:  the easy way and the hard way.  The easy way is for the department to obtain good legal guidance and to disseminate it their officers as part of a training program.  The hard way is to continue put uninformed and undisciplined officers on the streets who continue to make mistakes. Ultimately they will learn from these mistakes at the cost of lawsuits and the slings and arrows of public opinion.  Let us hope it will not also be at the price of officers losing their jobs, or worse, someone losing his or her life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Wisconsin Concealed Carry

Friday's (at the Crowne Plaza Hotel):

MARCH:  2, 9, 16, 23rd:  6 pm - 10 pm (4 hour course)
APRIL:     6, 13, 20 & 27th:  6 pm - 10 pm (4 hour course)

Saturday's (at the Crowne Plaza Hotel):

3, 10, 17, 24 & 31st:  6 pm - 10 pm (4 hour course)
APRIL:     7, 14 & 21st:             8 am - 12 pm AND 1 pm - 5 pm
(4 hour course)

Concealed Carry and Personal Protection for Realtors

Friday's (at the Crowne Plaza Hotel):

MARCH:  30th:  6 pm - 10 pm (4 hour course)

APRIL:     13, 27th:  6 pm - 10 pm (4 hour course)

Crowne Plaza Hotel
4402 E. Washington Ave.
Madison WI 53704

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Wisconsin Concealed Carry February Courses Scheduled!

Wednesday, 2/1/12 VFW Post 7591, 301 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, 6PM-10PM

Friday, 2/3/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 6PM-10PM

Saturday, 2/4/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 8AM-NOON

Saturday, 2/4/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 1PM-5PM

Friday, 2/10/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 6PM-10PM (Ladies night)

Saturday, 2/11/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 8AM-NOON

Saturday, 2/11/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 1PM-5PM

Wednesday, 2/15/12 VFW Post 7591, 301 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, 6PM-10PM

Friday, 2/17/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 6PM-10PM (Ladies night)

Saturday, 2/18/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 8AM-NOON

Saturday, 2/18/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 1PM-5PM
Saturday, 2/25/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 8AM-NOON

Saturday, 2/25/12 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, 1PM-5PM

For details or to register go to the website:


Friday, January 6, 2012

Knives for Concealed Carry (Part 2)

In the previous post I discussed a few reasons why I believe carrying a knife should be given serious consideration by concealed carry practitioners.  In this post I will show you a few of the knives that I have that I believe are worthy of consideration.  There are other knives that are equally suitable to carry, but the knives I am mentioning are to show the reader examples of what I believe are the types of knives suitable for concealed carry.  

Remember, Wisconsin's concealed carry law does not allow one to carry switchblade knives.  Switchblade knives have an undeserved reputation for being evil weapons, and as such they have been prohibited by ill-considered bad legislation.  On the other hand, switchblade knives do not offer any particular advantage to the average user.  

As is the case with smaller handguns, smaller knives are easier to conceal.  One might be tempted to say that both larger handguns and knives are potentially more powerful weapons than their smaller counterparts.  There may be a certain amount of truth to this, but the variables are so numerous that one cannot say this is true in every circumstance.  When it comes to choosing a knife to carry one must consider many of the same questions as when choosing a firearm, e.g., manner of dress, comfort, ease of concealment, accessibility.  There is no perfect answer to these questions, and like all security-related issues one must be satisfied with a well-thought compromise when making a final decision.

You will see that in general I favor fixed blade knives over folding knives for concealed carry.  There are two reasons for this.  First, fixed blade knives are mechanically simple and not prone to breakage.  More importantly, fixed blade knives are easier and quicker to deploy under most conditions.  Fixed blade knives only require that the knife be drawn from the sheath to be brought into action.  Folding knives must be drawn and then opened.  Opening a knife requires greater dexterity and fine-motor skills then simply drawing a knife from a sheath.  Fine-motor skills quickly deteriorate under the extreme stress of a violent encounter.  Additionally, it may be difficult to open a folding knife while being physically attacked.  While there are many excellent folding knives, one must test and critically evaluate each one to judge its practicality of use under combat conditions. 

The knife pictured above is the Safe Maker II made by Cold Steel with a manufacturer's price of $90.  This is a push dagger knife with a 3.25 inch blade and can be worn as a boot knife, neck knife or on the belt.  I wear mine on the belt on the side opposite of my gun.  This knife is primarily used as an aid to gun retention.  If an opponent attempts a gun snatch from my holster, my strong side hand is used to retain the gun while my weak side hand draws the knife in order to offer a strong incentive to my attacker to let go.  The edges on this knife are razor sharp, a feature one normally finds on all Cold Steel knives.

This little neck knife is a Columbia River Fixed Falcon with a 2.12 inch blade.  Unfortunately this knife is discontinued by the manufacturer (CRKT - Columbia River Knife and Tool) and had a manufacturer's price of about $25.  This knife is well-made, very sharp, small and light and easily concealed under a shirt.  The sheath holds the knife very securely, but allows for a quick draw.  Similar models are easily found.

A somewhat larger neck or boot knife that I carry is the Point Guard by Cold Steel.  This knife has a 4 inch blade and overall length of 6.75 inches.  I believe this knife is also discontinued but still available from knife distributors via the Internet for less than the manufacturer's suggested price of $70.  Drawing the knife from the sheath does require putting pressure on the large "button" that is accessible through the hole on the knife, but the action is very fast and easily performed.

A well-known and popular boot knife that can be bought on the Internet at far below the suggested retail price of $65 is the Kershaw Military Boot Knife.  With a 4.5 inch blade and overall length of 9 inches this knife is reasonably sharp and very comfortable in the hand.  The knife comes with a sheath that offers a number of carry modes including on the belt vertically or horizontally, boot carry, and what can best be described as a "shoulder holster" rig.  At one time I considered this knife to be the largest knife that I would consider carrying concealed.  However as you will see my thoughts on size have been modified.  This knife is and excellent bargain!

As stated above, generally I favor fixed blade knives over folders.  The folding knife I am holding in the picture above is one of the few exceptions that I make.  This knife has almost legendary status as a combat knife.  This is the "Civilian" manufactured by Spyderco.  The knife looks wicked and it is wicked.  The hooked 4.125 inch serrated blade is razor sharp.  The thin but strong point allows the user to employ a number of special compliance techniques to persuade the person on the wrong end of the knife to move in the direction that the user wants them to move.  The knife was designed as a last ditch defensive knife although a number of offensive techniques have been specifically developed around it also.  With a suggested retail price of $280 it can be found for approximately half that price with a bit of shopping.  

One of the other few folding knives that I carry and recommend is pictured above.  This is the 6-inch blade version of the Ti-Lite from Cold Steel.  This knife also comes in a 4 inch version and slightly more expensive aluminum handle version.  Mine has the synthetic Zy-Ex handle and a suggested price of $85.  A little shopping around can put one in your hands for somewhat less money.  This knife is a rather large folder, but since it is a folder it allows one to carry a fairly substantial knife in the pocket.  The knife is very strong and sharp, and the greatest advantage is the inclusion of a quillon that one can snag on the edge of the pocket allowing the knife to open very quickly as it is drawn from the pocket.  This knife is very fast to put into action, opening faster than any switchbade.  Because of the speed and ease of opening the knife as it is drawn from the pocket, I consider this to be a folder that does not have the disadvantage of being a folder.  As an side benefit, while in the pocket this knife looks to be no different than any other pocket clipped folding knife.  But appearances can be deceiving as it is a surprisingly large knife with an overall length of 13 inches when open.  I carry mine often and highly recommend it. 

Getting into the area of larger fixed blade knives I like the balance and rugged construction of the Roton manufactured "Talon Dagger."  This is an 11 inch overall knife with a 6 inch double edged blade.  The knife is not particularly common, but can be found for sale in the $200-220 range.  This is a true combat knife that is quite sharp and beefy.  Since it is a large knife I have carried it only a few times.  It is very secure, yet quick to deploy from its very well-made Kydex sheath.

Another favorite of mine is quite a bargain also.  This is the Hissatsu from Columbia River (CRKT) which has a suggested price of around $110.  Mine came shaving sharp out of the box.  It has a 7.125 inch blade and a total length of 12.25 inches.  This knife was made for speed and its light weight and balance make it an excellent carry knife and a very formidable weapon for close combat.  The grip has a semi-soft rubbery texture which feels secure in the hand.  The glass-filled nylon sheath is nice also.

Certainly one of my favorite combat knives is this classic:  the Mark II by Gerber.  Variations on this knife have been around since the Vietnam War.  The current version sells for around $116, perhaps less if one shops around.  The knife has a 6.5 inch double-edged blade and an over length of 12.75 inches.  Wickedly sharp and perfectly balanced it is very worthy of its near-legendary status as a combat knife.  The only drawback to an otherwise perfect fighting knife is the old-style ballistic nylon sheath that makes it a bit slow to deploy and limited in mode of carry.  Seeing that it was designed for military use this is no great surprise.  The sheath is designed to be worn on a belt, with a string tying the bottom of the sheath to the leg.  If one wears long coats the knife can be concealed, but it is somewhat limiting.  Perhaps a custom-made Kydex sheath is in order!

The last knife I will show is the Buck Nighthawk.  This particular model has been discontinued, but is probably available online.  I believe Buck Knives still manufactures a very similar model with a list price of $116.  Mine has a 6.5 inch blade and total length of 11.25 inches.  This is not a true combat knife, but more of a tactical/survival knife.  However the balance and feel of this knife makes it very suitable for defensive purposes.  The rubberized grip makes this knife a pleasure to handle and I carry mine often.  As with the Gerber Mark II, the major disadvantage is the nylon sheath that does not lend itself to as fast of deployment as one might desire for fighting purposes.  

This summary is by no means inclusive of all the knives that I recommend.  Perhaps I will introduce you to a few others in future posts.  

A final word however:  do not use your fighting knives as your utility knives.  Carry your Swiss army knife, Leatherman tool or other knife for your utilitarian needs.  Very few days pass by without me using my Swiss army knife, with the most use coming from the small blade, the magnifying glass or the scissors.