Recently, we at Student of the Gun addressed the subject of going armed to the zoo, or anywhere else for that matter. With a very quick, easy to follow video we pointed out how a person can be very well-armed, but do so discreetly, even when wearing just a T-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts. All it really takes is a bit of forethought.

An invaluable tool, a CCW pistol cannot solve every problem.
An invaluable tool, a CCW gun cannot solve every problem.

We pointed out that, as we have been preaching for decades, an armed citizen needs more than merely a firearm to prepare for the unexpected eventualities the world throws at us. When you step out of your front door, you have control over your actions, but no control over the actions of those you might encounter. Remember, I wear my seat belt, not because I worry about my driving, it is the amateurs and other maniacs on the road with whom I’m concerned.


You can go to the zoo armed and not be a moron. Here are concealed carry lessons for being armed at the zoo.Featuring:…

Posted by Student of the Gun on Friday, June 12, 2015

Only on the Internet

A short video about concealed carry aimed at the gun culture choir would not seem to be all that controversial or difficult to understand, but we are dealing with the Internet here. The Internet is a wonderful place where people read only the title of an article or video and then write a 300 word comment based on what they gleaned from five words. Better yet, a two paragraph comment based on the image attached to the story. Only on the Internet could a person who admits to carrying two guns fall accused of not having enough ammo.

It is not just social media fanatics who offer such accusations. Not so long ago a noted firearms instructor posted an article online offering similar advice. The man in question recommended that rather than carry a tourniquet or flashlight the gun carrier would be better served by adding a spare magazine. The confused expert opined that you need to first deal with what’s trying to kill you. Yep, that is true. Apparently it never occurred to the gunfighter that the thing that might be trying to kill you could be a compromised brachial or femoral artery that resulted from a high speed car crash. But I digress.


Based upon the evidence put forth on the Internet, not everyone seems to be on board or understand fully the concept of being an armed and prepared citizen, a self-sufficient human being. And, following a telephone conversation with my good friend Jay, I decided to come up with a list of things you favorite defensive handgun, even the “Whackmaster 5000”  loaded with depleted uranium rounds, cannot do.

Emergency LightJarrad at Tactical Response for Fighting Rifle

Light is Good.
Light is Good.

All these years later, I am still dumbfounded when someone sees me carrying a flashlight and says something like “You carry a flashlight? All the time? Even in the daytime?” Other than the obvious fact that the big blue ball we live on continues to rotate on its axis, thus creating a condition we refer to as “nighttime” there are times during daylight hours when an illumination tool might come in handy.

Anytime you enter a building you are in diminished light situation. If/when the power goes out, having an illumination tool handy to egress from the structure is mighty handy. Ditto if you are trying to get out because part of the building is on fire. Roadside breakdowns, searching under the truck seat for a lost object, treating an injured person in low light, signaling for help, all of these are reasons compact flashlight is better than a gun. Also, there is this whole wacky notion of combining the two to be able to identify friend from foe in a deadly encounter.

Although to be fair, I suppose if you use cheap ammo with a high muzzle flash you could “shoot your way out” of a dark building by firing the gun and creating a sort a strobe light effect. So, yeah, there’s that.

Cutting Stuff

Sometimes you need to cut things.
Sometimes you need to cut things.

As a matter of course, I prefer my concealed carry guns not to be sharp or have jagged-edged. A folding pocket knife would seem to be a more efficient tool for cutting chores than a pistol.

I still recall showing up to the shooting range for police academy training wearing my brand new duty belt. Naturally, I had my holster, spare magazine pouch, a handcuff case, baton ring, and even a duty-style, key-ring keeper.

The training sergeant looked at my still fresh from the packaging rig and said, “That’s nice, where’s your knife?” I became stunned. Surely I had used and carried pocket knives all my life, but now that I had my official cop belt on, I had left it at home. The SGT continued, “…so, are you just going shoot the tangled seat belt off of a crash victim?” (This was before the days of the pocket-clip folder)

That good-natured scolding left an impression on me. By the time I returned to the range again, my Buck Model 110 with its black leather pouch was attached to by duty rig.

A quality folding pocket knife is an invaluable tool, but sometimes we get so “tactically” oriented around our guns that we forget about it. From emergency rescue cutting to the most mundane day to day chores, a good folder is an essential piece of gear for the prepared citizen. At least for those who don’t want to shoot open the package that just arrived from Amazon.

People Bleed, and Not Just from Gun fights

Are you going to shoot the wound closed?
Are you going to shoot the wound closed?

There is a psychological term called “projection.” Essentially, people have a tendency to “project” their thoughts, impressions, and prejudice onto the subject at hand.  There is also a more practical saying that goes like this, “When you are holding a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

Gun people, especially new CCW folks, tend to look at every potential problem they might encounter from the “Shoot/No Shoot” perspective. After all, they took the class, have an ID card with a picture on it, and gun on their hip. It is easy to fall prey to that seductive thinking.

Folks, unless you are engaged in deliberate combat, I’d venture to say that you are 10, 20, perhaps 100 times more likely to have to render first aid to someone than to shoot a villain. When I say “aid to someone” I’m not talking about looking for strangers to mend. I am talking about the people you see when you wake up, go to work and come home at night. Consider this, the people you are most likely to provide medical aid to are the ones who ride in the car with you.

It’s Why You Carry

You carry a gun because you understand that you are the first person in charge of your rescue from attack. Are you not also the first person in charge of dealing with life-threatening injury or trauma?

Surely you can improvise medical gear from T-shirts, rags, belts and sticks. However, if you are in a roll over car crash, looking at your child with a partially amputated left arm, what are you going to tell them? “Hang on, I’m going to look for a stick or something. Try to bleed to death slowly until I get back.”

Folks, major bleeding (arterial) will kill the patient in minutes, not 10 to 15 but two to three. When the bright red stuff is pumping out, that is not the time to be farting around cutting up shirts and looking for a stick. American servicemen have paid with their limbs and lives so that we could have the best trauma training and gear available to save a life. Why would you not make use of it?

Perhaps, I am mistaken. Could it be that there is a technique that I am unaware of for shooting a wound closed? With all that spare ammo you are carrying, maybe you can shoot the barrel so hot that it will cauterize the artery shut. Perhaps you can field strip your GLOCK and use the slide as a handle for the improvised tourniquet?

Parting Thoughts

Yes, of course you should be armed, but that is only one answer to the problems you might encounter as you go about your day. A gun is not the answer to ALL of your problems. A genuinely confident and prepared citizen should understand that “self-rescue” does not just mean with a gun.

Jay once stated, “The gunfight is not over just because the noise stops. There are still a lot of other things to do.” I hope during the last several minutes you have had a moment to consider that it’s not all about guns and gunfighting. Being a citizen, a free man or woman, is about triumphing over adversity, whatever form that adversity happens to take. There are simply some jobs your favorite gun cannot do.

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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