The First 4 Hours – Your MAP


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The creation of many different websites, blogs, and Facebook pages dedicated to encouraging female shooters and support of the 2nd amendment is a great testimony to the increased involvement of women in a gun society that has always been dominated by men.  This is a big step for women, and I am very pleased to see things changing in this way.  That being said, this fact also raises some serious concerns in my mind.  These concerns are not unique to women, but also apply to the gun owning community in general.  But today my focus is on the female gun owners or those considering the purchase of a gun.

Since the inception of my Women and Guns blog, (and subsequent training school), I have always placed great emphasis on personal safety and planning.  Without proper training and preparation, the gun can be a dangerous tool to employ in any emergency.  Simply put, “The gun does not keep you safe.”  This statement is repeated at the beginning of every class I teach.  This is often met with a look of confusion on the faces of many of my students.  After all, they paid their registration fee and showed up for class to “learn how to shoot”, with thoughts of possessing a gun as being the much needed solution to all of their personal and home safety needs.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When dealing with any threat, whether it be created by mother nature, or initiated by a human with criminal intent to harm you , proper preparation in advance of the event has been proven to be the most effective way to survive and minimize damage.  Preparation is the most effective tool.  As instructors, these skills should be the first and most important skills taught to current and future gun owners – before encouraging women to buy, shoot and carry guns. (Gun retailers will surely hate me for making this statement.)  Oh well.  I could write an entire article on the manner in which gun store employees conduct themselves.  Maybe another time.

The First 4 Hours of every class I teach is spent on awareness, observation skills, avoiding violence, and developing and implementing home, automobile and personal safety plans with the goal of preventing violent criminal confrontations.   I refer to this as their MAP. (I would prefer more hours be spent on this subject).  

As instructors, these skills should be the first and most important skills taught to current and future gun owners – before encouraging women to buy, shoot and carry guns.   

Most, if not every student that has made the decision to take a gun class has done so because they no longer feel safe.  Some have already been victimized, other’s are hoping to avoid becoming a victim.  Some simply state they feel it is time.  They may have husbands with a safe full of guns at home, none of which they have ever touched.  It is not unusual to meet students that are realtors, live alone, or have husbands that are currently deployed.  More and more seniors, (often widows), are coming to class.  Their safety and the safety of their loved ones’s is the number one reason they have decided to buy or learn to shoot a gun.  I am grateful they have made the decision to take a Basic Handgun Class.  I am also aware their first class should not be their last class.  Sadly, this will be the case for many women. Not only in my classes, but in other classes across the country.  The reasons are many: financial, not enough time, not a priority, and others.  We can’t force people to seek out additional training.

With rights come responsibilities.  Including instructor responsibilities – you are responsibly for the consequences of the advice you give.  A gun is a great equalizer in the hands of a trained woman.  It can also be a tool to do great harm to innocents, (including the gun owner), should it not be handled and stored correctly.  Common sense is not a given.  No one is born knowing how to safely handle, operate, store and employ a gun in every situation.  (Guys, that includes you.)  Anti-gun supporters will use every negligent incident to further their cause. 

This is why it is so important to teach these women the skills of Mindset, Awareness and Preparation.  I refer to this skill set as their MAP.  With a good MAP, you will know where to go and how to get there.  Should things ever get to the point of needing the gun, maybe, just maybe, a basic knowledge of gun operation learned in a basic gun class will be enough.  I would much rather see a women be able to avoid a violent criminal encounter by employing their MAP skills, than having to use deadly force to stop her attacker.  Wouldn’t you?

To learn more about personal safety, self defense and firearms training classes, go to our website at




Contingency plans


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Guns are the Contingency Plan. Never forget that. Proper planning may prevent you from needing to go to the gun. But, if the gun doesn’t work, you better have a contingency plan for that as well. Excellent information as usual from the Tactical Professor.


Watching the end of The Bridge Over the River Kwai last night, something occurred to me. There should have been a contingency plan that if the British Major Warden fired the two inch mortar, it was the signal to blow the bridge early. Granted, that would have removed much of the Hollywood drama but it’s food for thought, nonetheless.

Situations and operations don’t always go according to plan, which is why it’s good to have contingency plans. Going to guns is actually a contingency plan. When we display or fire our weapons, it means that our plan to follow our other priorities has failed. In my particular case, those other priorities are Avoid (barriers are a component of Avoid) and Escape.

Even if we find it necessary to use force to resolve an issue, we need to have contingency plans, both technical and tactical. Malfunction clearance drills and reloading…

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Traveling? Know the laws.



Originally published at NRA-ILA

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

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Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.


Federal law does not restrict individuals from transporting legally acquired firearms across state lines for lawful purposes except those explicitly prohibited by federal law to include convicted felons; persons under indictment for felonies; adjudicated “mental defectives” or those who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions; illegal drug users; illegal aliens and most non-immigrant aliens; dishonorably discharged veterans; those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship; fugitives from justice; persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence; and persons subject to certain domestic violence restraining orders. Therefore, no federal permit is required (or available) for the interstate transportation of firearms.

Many states and localities have laws governing the transportation of firearms. Travelers must be aware of these laws and comply with legal requirements in each jurisdiction. There is no uniform state transportation procedure for firearms. If in doubt, a traveler should carry firearms unloaded, locked in a case, and stored in an area (such as a trunk or attached toolbox) where they are inaccessible from a vehicle’s passenger compartment and not visible from outside the vehicle. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate locked container. Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 44 s926A


A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.

Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.

Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest. All travelers in areas with restrictive laws would be well advised to have copies of any applicable firearm licenses or permits, as well as copies or printouts from the relevant jurisdictions’ official publications or websites documenting pertinent provisions of law (including FOPA itself) or reciprocity information.  In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have ready access to it.


As soon as any firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed loaded or readily accessible in a vehicle, state and local laws regarding the carrying of firearms apply. If you seek to carry or transport firearms in such a manner, it is advisable that you determine what the law is by contacting the Attorney General’s office in each state through which you may travel or by reviewing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Guide (available online at or by calling NRA-ILA at 800-392-8683). You may also wish to determine whether the state issues any necessary permits to non-residents and how to obtain one, if available. While many states require permits to carry usable, loaded firearms on or about one’s person, some will not issue such permits to non-residents.


In most states, firearms may be transported legally if they are unloaded, cased, and locked in the automobile trunk or otherwise inaccessible to the driver or any passenger. The exceptions to this rule apply mainly to transportation of handguns and so-called “assault weapons.” The myriad and conflicting legal requirements for firearm transportation through the states make caution the key for travelers of which you must consult local law.

If you travel with a trailer or camper that is hauled by an automobile, it is advisable to transport the firearms unloaded, cased and locked in the trunk of the car. If your vehicle is of the type in which driving and living spaces are not separated, the problem becomes one of access. If the firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed in the camper where it is readily accessible to the driver or any passenger, state and local laws regarding concealed carrying of firearms may apply. It is recommended, therefore, that the firearm be transported unloaded, cased, and placed in a locked rear compartment of the camper or mobile home, where it is inaccessible to the driver or any passenger.

Generally, a mobile home is considered a home if it is not attached to a towing vehicle, and is permanently attached to utilities, placed on blocks, or otherwise parked in such a manner that it cannot immediately be started up and used as a vehicle.

Once you reach your destination, state and local law will govern the ownership, possession, and transportation of your firearms.


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has established specific requirements for transporting firearms and ammunition in checked baggage on commercial aircraft, including the following:

All firearms or ammunition must be checked with the air carrier as luggage or inside checked luggage. Firearms, firearms parts, and ammunition are prohibited from carry-on baggage. Firearm parts include barrels, magazines, frames, and other internal parts of a firearm.

Gun owners are strongly encouraged to double-check all baggage, even when not traveling with firearms.  This is particularly important if bags also serve as range bags or are used to transport firearms and/or ammunition at other times. Inadvertently leaving ammunition or a firearm in a carry on bag will result in serious delays at security points and potential civil or criminal penalties.

All firearms and/or ammunition must be declared orally or in writing in accordance with the air carrier’s procedures. Civil and criminal penalties may be applied for failure to declare a firearm in checked baggage.

All firearms must be unloaded.

The firearm must be carried in a hard-sided container. The container must be locked and only the passenger may retain the key or combination.

All checked baggage is subject to inspection. If during the inspection process it is necessary to open the container, the air carrier is required to locate the passenger and the passenger must unlock the container for further inspection. The firearm may not be transported if the passenger cannot be located to unlock the container. If you are traveling with a firearm, pay close attention to airport pages and announcements. If requested, provide the cooperation necessary to inspect your firearm.

Ammunition is prohibited from carry-on luggage. Ammunition must be transported in the manufacturer’s packaging or other packaging suitable for transport. Consult your air carrier to determine quantity limitations and whether the ammunition must be packed separately from the firearm. Because the level of training among airline personnel varies widely, passengers would be well advised to bring printed copies of firearms rules from both TSA and the particular airline being used. For further information, visit

Finally, the United States Department of Justice has issued a written opinion that federal law protects airline travelers with firearms, assuming: (1) the person is traveling from somewhere he or she may lawfully possess and carry a firearm; (2) en route to the airport the firearm is unloaded and inaccessible from the passenger compartment of the person’s vehicle; (3) the person transports the firearm directly from his vehicle to the airline check-in desk without any interruption in the transportation, and (4) the firearm is carried to the check-in desk unloaded and in a locked container.

Otherwise, travelers should strictly comply with FOPA and with airline and TSA policies regarding firearms transportation, avoid any unnecessary deviations on the way to checking in their baggage, be well acquainted with the firearms laws of the jurisdictions between which they are traveling, have any necessary permits or licenses ready for inspection, and have copies of relevant provisions of current law or reciprocity information printed from official sources.

Special advisory for New York & New Jersey airports: Despite federal law that protects travelers, authorities at JFK, La Guardia, Newark, and Albany airports have been known to enforce state and local firearm laws against airline travelers who are passing through their jurisdictions. In some cases, even persons traveling in full compliance with federal law have been arrested or threatened with arrest. FOPA’s protections have been substanially narrowed by court decisions in certain parts of the country, particularly in the Northeast. Persons traveling through New York and New Jersey airports may want to consider shipping their firearms to their final destinations rather than bringing them through airports in these jurisdictions.


A person may possess an operational firearm in a national park or wildlife refuge if the individual is in legal possession of the firearm and if possession of the firearm is in compliance with the laws of the state in which the park or refuge is located. Rules in various state park systems vary, so always inquire first.

A separate federal law, however, continues to ban the possession of firearms in “federal facilities,” including those within national parks and wildlife refuges.  The National Park Service interprets this provision broadly to prohibit firearms not only in buildings (such as visitor centers, ranger stations, and administrative offices) but also in other areas that are regularly staffed by federal employees (such as developed caves and gated outdoor performance areas). National Park Service officials have indicated that all prohibited locations will be posted with signs.

Title 36 Chapter 1 Part 2 s2.4/ Title 50 Chapter 1 Part 27 s27.42


While FOPA applies in every United States jurisdiction, experience has shown that some jurisdictions provide particular challenges to those transporting firearms. Knowing the local laws of such places is particularly important and may make traveling through them easier. The following states are known to have especially strict and complicated gun control laws and travelers should consult the state laws directly, along with local law enforcement and states’ attorneys general resources for detailed information.

CALIFORNIA—California has extensive state and local regulatory schemes over firearms and ammunition. For more specific information, please contact the Department of Justice Firearms Bureau at (916) 263-4887, or at

HAWAII—Every person arriving into the state who brings a firearm of any description, usable or not, shall register the firearm within three days of the arrival of the person or the firearm, whichever arrives later, with the chief of police of the county where the person will reside, where their business is, or the person’s place of sojourn. For more information, visit

MASSACHUSETTS—Massachusetts imposes harsh penalties on the mere possession and transport of firearms unrelated to criminal or violent conduct. Prospective travelers are urged to contact the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau at (617)660-4780 or the State Police at for further information.

NEW JERSEY—New Jersey has highly restrictive firearms laws. The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that anyone traveling within the state is deemed to be aware of these regulations and will be held strictly accountable for violations. Revell v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, 10-236

From New Jersey State Police regarding transporting firearms through the state:

NEW YORK—Use extreme caution when traveling through New York with firearms.  New York state’s general approach is to make the possession of handguns and so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” illegal and then provide exceptions that the accused may raise as “affirmative defenses” to prosecution in some cases.  NY Penal Code s. 265.20(12), (13) & (16).

A number of localities, including Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Suffolk County, and Yonkers, impose their own requirements on the possession, registration, and transport of firearms. Possession of a handgun within New York City requires a New York City handgun license or a special permit from the city police commissioner validating a state license within the city. Even New York state licenses are generally not valid within New York City unless a specific exemption applies, such as when the New York City police commissioner has issued a special permit to the licensee or “the firearms covered by such license are being transported by the licensee in a locked container and the trip through the city of New York is continuous and uninterrupted.” Possession of a shotgun or rifle within New York City requires a permit, which is available to non-residents, and a certificate of registration.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Use extreme caution when traveling through Washington, DC with a firearm. The certificate requirement for possession of firearms and ammunition does not apply to non-residents who are “participating in any lawful recreational firearm-related activity within the District, or on [their] way to or from such activity in another jurisdiction.” To qualify for this exception, a person must, upon demand of a law enforcement officer, “exhibit proof that he is on his way to or from such activity” and that the person’s possession of the firearm is lawful in the person’s place of residence. The person must also be transporting the firearm from a place where the person may lawfully possess and carry it to another place where the person may lawfully possess and carry it, the firearm must be unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition may be readily or directly accessible from the automobile’s passenger compartment, or if the vehicle does not have a separate trunk, the firearm or ammunition must be kept in a locked container.

Canada has very strict laws governing the transportation and possession of firearms. Please visit the U.S. Embassy in Canada’s website for more information before traveling:

Lawful use and possession of firearms in Canada requires the possessor to be licensed and the firearm to be registered. Nonresidents may meet these requirements in either of two ways. The first is to complete a Non-resident Firearm Declaration prior to arrival at the point of entry. Declarations are valid for 60 days but may be renewed free of charge before expiration. The second method is to apply for a five-year Canadian Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) and then, once the PAL is obtained, register the firearms in Canada.

In addition, Canadian law establishes three broad classifications of firearms: “non-restricted,” “restricted,” and “prohibited.”

A person may not enter Canada with prohibited firearms, which include: (1) a handgun with a barrel length of 105 mm (approximately 4.1 inches) or less; (2) a handgun capable of firing .25 or .32 caliber ammunition; (3) a rifle or shotgun that has been altered so that its barrel length is less than 457 mm (approximately 18 inches) or its overall length is less than 660 mm (approximately 26 inches); (5) automatic firearms (including those converted to fire only as semiautomatics); and (6) certain firearms specified by model (and their variants), including AR-15s (as well as .22 rimfire clones), AKs, various semi-automatic shotguns, Intratec TEC-DC9s, UZIs, Steyr AUGs, FN-FALs, and numerous others. Also prohibited is the importation of so-called “large capacity magazines,” which generally means any magazine for a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that holds more than five rounds or any magazine for a handgun that holds more than 10 rounds.

Restricted firearms include any non-prohibited handgun; a non-prohibited centerfire rifle with a barrel of less than 470 mm (approximately 18.5 inches); a firearm that can be fired after being folded, collapsed, or otherwise reduced to a length of less than 660 mm (approximately 26 inches); and other models designated by law. These require an Authorization to Transport (ATT) in addition to the Non-resident Firearm Declaration or PAL.

Limited amounts of ammunition may be imported.

All firearms must be transported unloaded. Non-restricted firearms left unattended in a vehicle should be locked in the vehicle’s trunk, or if the vehicle does not have a trunk, locked out of sight in the vehicle’s interior. Restricted firearms must be rendered inoperable during transport by a secure locking device or locked within an opaque container that cannot readily or accidentally be broken open during travel. Canadian officials recommend using both of these measures for restricted firearms, as well as removing the bolt or bolt carrier, if applicable.

Information and forms governing all of these requirements may be obtained from the Canadian Firearm Program (CFP) website at or by contacting the CFP at 1-800-731-4000.

Mexico severely restricts the importation of firearms and ammunition, and violations are likely to result in harsh punishment. The United States Department of State and Mexican tourism officials have strongly cautioned U.S. citizens visiting Mexico to leave their firearms at home.

Limited exceptions apply for the purpose of hunting. Because foreign hunters in Mexico must be accompanied by a licensed Mexican hunting guide, anyone planning to hunt in Mexico should contact his or her outfitter for information on import requirements.

Importation of firearms or ammunition into the United States requires a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unless the traveler can demonstrate that the firearms or ammunition were previously possessed in the United States. One way to do this is by completing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form 4457 with your local CBP office before leaving the United States. A bill of sale or receipt showing transfer of the items to the traveler in the United States may also be used.

Note: In the United States you have constitutional protections both against unreasonable searches and seizures and against compelled self-incrimination. Although the authorities may search anywhere within your reach without a search warrant after a valid stop, they may not open and search closed luggage without probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be found, particularly when it is in a locked storage area or trunk of a vehicle, unless you consent. You have a right not to consent. Furthermore, although you may be required to identify yourself and produce a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of automobile insurance, you have a right to remain silent.

Save the Children in Your Neighborhood with Five Minutes a Day.

This is an interesting idea. Someone needs to do something to keep the children safe.


Online trainingDear school board member,
(Dear state legislator,)

I was lied to.  We were promised that students would be safer once we made it illegal for honest adults to carry guns on, or near, a school campus.  Well that promise sure didn’t work.  The US Department of Justice reports that almost all the active shooter incidents took place in “gun-free” zones.  A quarter of those incidents took place in our schools.  That is unacceptable.

Now we know better.  We learned that police usually arrive too late. The police are involved in stopping mass murderers at schools only 30 percent of the time.

Other states took real steps to solve this problem.  What is your safety plan to protect our children at school?

I hope you will address this issue when the board meets.
(I hope you will address this issues when the legislature reconvenes next year.)

Awaiting your reply,


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Pink is the New Orange


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New York is the third state to allow hunters to wear solid or patterned fluorescent pink attire for safety.CreditLegendary Whitetails

Pink is the new orange for young hunters in New York, who can now wear the color for safety under an updated law that advocates said was meant to attract more women and girls to a sport dominated by men.

The law previously required junior hunters — 14- or 15-year-olds — and their adult mentors to wear a shirt, jacket or cap with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned fluorescent orange visible in all directions. The change allows them to wear solid or patterned fluorescent pink instead of the traditional blaze orange.

The new law, which went into effect on July 21, was part of a broader movement to get women involved in hunting, said Bill Gibson, legislative vice president for the New York State Council.

Similar legislation enacted this year in Wisconsin was criticized as sexist and playing to gender stereotypes. Sarah Ingle, president of that state’s Women’s Hunting and Sporting Association, told National Geographic that the change felt “demeaning” to women.

There was little sign of that concern in New York. The bill was sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie, a Republican from Oswegatchie. A memo with the legislation said that by offering young hunters a color choice, “more women may be encouraged to join in this time-honored tradition.”

Lin Menninger, 63, of Canastota, N.Y., an avid hunter, endorsed the introduction of pink, saying that it would make hunting “a little more inviting” for girls.

“I think the pink is awesome; even the young girls like that,” said Ms. Menninger, who has hunted in South Africa and wrestled baby elk in Wisconsin to put radio collars on them for research.

Dan Ladd, a regional vice president for the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, said that hunting depended on retaining young recruits and that if pink apparel helped, “How can it be a bad thing?”

“This whole thing with the pink is a no-brainer to me,” he added.

Nationally, women made up 11 percent of the 13.7 million people who hunted, according to federal government data from 2011. In New York, more than 51,000 of the 570,000 licensed hunters are women, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The number of female hunters has increased over the past decade to 9 percent, from 7 percent, of all licensed hunters, the department said.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a Democrat from Forestburgh, a sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement that the updated law was important to ensuring safety and “attracting the next generation into the great outdoors.”

Though New York does not mandate that all hunters — except for the young ones and their mentors — wear bright colors,more than 80 percent of big-game and 66 percent of small-game hunters wear blaze orange, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation website. New York is the third state, after Wisconsin and Colorado, to add pink as a safety color; those states require all hunters using firearms to wear the bright colors.

Retailers have been out in front of the trend by offering more pink-colored gear, including firearms and clothing, Mr. Gibson, of the New York State Conservation Council, said.

Katie Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the outdoors-gear retailer Bass Pro Shops, said hunting was increasingly being seen as a family activity. For instance, single mothers want to learn so they can take their sons, she said.

“Some women appreciate having pink options, though many women have told us they don’t necessarily care to wear pink and are more concerned with fit and performance in the field,” she added.

Dr. Majid Sarmadi, a professor of textile science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reported that blaze orange offered a good contrast in the woods in the spring and summer, but that pink was better in the autumn because of the orange found in fall leaves.

Mr. Ladd said pink was technically as good as orange for hunting because deer are believed to be colorblind.

Ms. Menninger, the hunter, said some women find participating in a male-dominated sport intimidating.

“Actually, I think a lot of guys give off an air that they don’t want women around,” she said. “You do have these men who do not like these women shooting these guns, shooting these pistols.”

Ms. Menninger said, however, that she had seen the number of female hunters increase by “quite a bit” in her region over the past five years as more programs sought to introduce them to hunting, shooting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Gus Van Etten, president of the Saugerties Fish and Game Club, about 45 miles south of Albany, which has about 400 members, the majority men, said, “The more young women you can draw in, the better.”

Would Mr. Van Etten, a competitive shooter who hunts occasionally, consider wearing pink while hunting? He paused and laughed.

“I think I could stick with my traditional color,” he said.

How Bullets Work



Great Article from Range365


Know what drives me crazy? When certain gun people get all cranky and attitudinal about new(er) shooters using the wrong word to describe some piece, part, or technique. If you’ve visited enough gun stores, you might have been the victim of this type of snobbery:

Joe or Jane Customer: “Hi! I need to buy a clip for my Glock!”

Cranky and attitudinal gun store clerk: “Sorry, we don’t have any Glock clips.”

Of course, the cranky and attitudinal gun store clerk knows the gun part the customer wants—a device that holds ammo in a Glock pistol—but because it wasn’t properly referred to as a magazine, he’s too snobbish to overlook the incorrect use of gun terminology.

The same thing happens with ammunition. Some people talk about buying or shooting “bullets,” while others use bigger words like “cartridge.”

The short explanation is that a bullet is just one part of a cartridge, so they’re not technically the same.

Personally, I don’t care if you call the stuff you load into your gun bullets or cartridges—I’m just happy you’re out shooting!—but in the interest of education and accuracy, it seems like a good idea to explore the whole topic and get really clear on what’s what.

And while we’re clarifying these terms, we can go a bit deeper and discuss exactly how a cartridge works and its exact relationship to a bullet.

All three are .44 Magnum cartridges, but each has a different bullet type.

Anatomy of a CartridgeA cartridge is the proper term for a single round of ammunition. A modern cartridge includes four components: primer, case, powder, and bullet.

PRIMER: The primer is where all the action starts. It’s the small round metal object located in the center of the base of the cartridge. Just like the caps for a toy cap gun, a primer is filled with a chemical compound that explodes when it’s smashed. So when the firing pin—a rod that’s driven forward when you pull the trigger—impacts and dents the base of the primer, the compound inside of the primer explodes. This (relatively) small conflagration creates a flame that is directed through a small hole and into the main body of the cartridge case, igniting the powder. (More on that in a bit.)

CASE: The case is the container that holds the powder. Think of the case as a container of sorts for all the other things that make up a cartridge. The primer fits into a small pocket at the base of the case; the powder resides inside of it; and the bullet is seated at the opposite open end of the cartridge case.

The case is the part that is flung out of your semi-automatic gun (or dropped or extracted from your revolver or bolt-action rifle) after you fire.

These are all .30 caliber bullets, yet each has a different weight and shape for different purposes.

Cases are made of brass, steel, or aluminum, though some companies are successfully making cases out of polymer, more commonly known as plastic.

POWDER: If you shake a cartridge, you’ll feel and hear something akin to sand rustling around inside. That’s the powder. Called “propellant” by gun geeks, it’s a specially formulated compound that burns really, really fast—faster than rocket fuel, or even marshmallows over a hot fire. In fact, it burns so fast that many people assume it explodes. We don’t need to get into the technicalities here, just know that this rapidly burning powder doesn’t technically explode. Rather, the fast burn creates hot, expanding gas that develops a lot of pressure really quickly inside of the cartridge.

All that gas has to go somewhere, so it follows the path of least resistance and pushes the bullet out of the case and down the barrel. As the powder burns, and pressure builds, the bullet moves ever faster down the barrel until it escapes the confines of your gun. The pressurized gases that escape the barrel just behind the bullet are what make a gun go BANG!

While we’re on the topic of burning powder, I’d like to note that we’re talking about really high levels of pressure. To put things in perspective, if you ride a spiffy racing bike, you know the tires are really hard because they’re pumped chock-full of air—somewhere between 80 and 130 pounds per square inch of air pressure. While that seems like a lot, it’s nothing compared to even a low-powered ammunition cartridge. The .45 ACP load operates at pretty low pressure compared to other handgun cartridges, and even those generate between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of pressure per square inch! Rifle cartridges like the .223 Remington used in AR-type guns hover around 55,000 pounds per square inch. By my math, I figure that’s about 611 racing bike tires crammed into that tiny little rifle cartridge.

A disassembled cartridge. Left to right: Primer, cartridge case, powder (propellant), and bullet (projectile).

BULLET: At this point, the bullet part is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the only part of the cartridge that travels forward when you fire the gun. Also called the projectile, the bullet is what does the work downrange.

Bullets are made from different materials and come in various shapes and sizes. Most handgun bullets have a copper exterior (called the jacket) that surrounds a lead core. However, some bullets are made entirely from lead, while others might be made entirely from copper. The reason for these differences might be cost, or the desire for a specific effect when the bullet hits something.

Different bullets in the same caliber family might also be shaped very differently, depending on how you want them to behave. Rifle bullets for long-range shooting will be long and skinny, making them more aerodynamic and less affected by the wind. Self-defense or hunting bullets might be constructed in such a way as to expand when they strike their target. Match or competition bullets might get extra special attention during manufacturing to ensure that they are perfectly shaped, and each one is identical to the others. That ensures that each shot will hit exactly where it’s supposed to, assuming the shooter executes the shot the same way each time.

Primers are located in the base of the cartridge case and serve to turn the impact energy of the firing pin into chemical energy via ignition of the propellant.

In some ways, the difference between the cartridge and the bullet is like the difference between a Saturn V rocket and the command module. With the Saturn V, there’s a whole lot of stuff below the capsule that serves no other purpose other than to get those folks in the capsule to wherever they’re going. In that respect, cartridges are like rockets: they’re a collection of components that, together, achieve the goal of launching a bullet or projectile downrange.

So head to the range and enjoy an afternoon of shooting cartridges!

4 Quotes from the Gun Owning Mom (whose son shot her)

We are all just human. We don’t know what we don’t know. We must get quality instruction, and continue to train and practice. Learning to operate a gun does not make you safe. This is why we have ALWAYS incorporated 4 hours of personal safety in our Basic Handgun Classes prior to bringing out the guns. People just don’t “get it” until they we teach them the importance of awareness, preparation and legalities of using a gun for self defense. There are many, many seasoned shooters that do not embrace the so called ‘4 rules”. But that is a subject for another article. We added a 5th rule “always properly secure your gun”. Always. It bears further explanation and should not be left to the gun owner to interpret. Instructors need to explain the meaning behind every rule, in every class.



“As for what happened, yes, I did make a mistake by placing a handgun under the front seat of my vehicle, and that mistake lead to a horrible accident. However, this is not something that is rare. A very large number of people place a gun under their seat every single day, I can only hope that what happened to me will help to open their eyes to what can happen by doing so.”

Off body carry is (per Claude Werner) “not for beginners, although beginners often do it”.

Melody Lauer has an excellent article series on that  details the exact pitfalls that off body carry entails.

Carrying a gun around without a holster is even more hazardous since Jamie Gilt did not even put the gun in her purse. 

“The safety was not off. I was not shot with the compact 1911 that was shown in pictures. It…

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Protesters Surround Your Car…


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The possibility of finding yourself in the middle of an active protest is becoming more and more likely these days.  This is a topic most people give little thought as to how they might react.  This article provides some great tips, but most important remember to think in advance and have a plan.

What Should You Do If Protesters Surround Your Car?

Street protests are all too common these days and blocking traffic has become one of the favorite methods of public protest. If you, as a motorist, round a corner and find yourself in the middle of a protest march, or if protesters suddenly surround your car, you need to take action quickly.

Dave Young, founder and director of Arma Training, stresses that immediate action is important, but such action requires forethought and a thorough understanding of the laws of self-defense in your state.

“Most state’s self-defense laws allow you to use reasonable force to defend yourself and your family, but you may not use deadly force unless you are facing an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm,” Young said. “Some prosecutors could see using your car to drive away from a protest as using force, even deadly force. So the first thing you must do is assess the threat level.”

If the protesters are merely blocking your way, you may be able to use a reasonable level of force to get out of the situation, but you must remember that someone who was not at the scene will evaluate your decisions.

In Wisconsin, the use of force is outlined in state statute 939.48, which reads:

(1) A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person. The actor may intentionally use only such force or threat thereof as the actor reasonably believes is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. The actor may not intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.

Call 911

Local law enforcement may already be aware of the protest and may even have people on the scene. If you make them aware that you are trapped in a large angry crowd, they may take action to attempt to disperse the crowd and facilitate a rescue, but don’t count on it. Officers at the scene may not be prepared for a riot situation, and it may take several minutes or more before police feel they have the resources to take on a large crowd. You could be injured or killed waiting for help.

Capture the Images

One of the best ways to show what you were facing and begin the basis for an effective legal defense of your actions is to record video of the incident. Most cell phones have video recorders these days. If you are with a companion, have the companion record as much of the incident as possible. Try to remain quiet while recording so as to caption the words as well as the actions of the protesters.

Do not attempt to record video and drive if you are alone. In that case, start the recorder, capture as much of the action as you can, then leave the recorder on, put it down, and focus on your escape.

Keep Moving If You Can

Turing around and immediately leaving the area, if possible, is your best option. If you cannot turn around or go around the group, driving your car slowly through a group of protesters may be seen as a reasonable use of force. But unless you can articulate a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm, you can’t use your car as a deadly weapon by driving over people or accelerating through the crowd.

“If you can drive away, do so. That might mean driving on the sidewalk or on the shoulder of the road or through the median,” said Young. “Escape is your first option.”

If Things Turn Violent

If the protest turns violent and people begin throwing objects, striking your vehicle, or attempting to overturn your vehicle, you have to act quickly. If you reasonably believe the protesters are going to attempt to enter your vehicle, drag you out, and injure you, the time to use force—perhaps even deadly force—has come. Young suggests the following:

  1. Immediately get your family to lay down in the car while shielding their eyes and covering their skin to protect them from breaking glass or hard objects thrown at or into the car. If possible, pull the back seat down and take cover in the trunk area.
  2. Get your car out of the danger area. Drive where you need to in order to escape. Avoid areas where your car might get stuck or hung up. If you can’t see effectively, driving “blind” is dangerous—but you have to weigh that danger against the danger of remaining where you are. If you have to use your car to push people out of the way or drive over people trying to stop you, then you must do it. Remember that you will be held accountable for your actions, so make sure you can prove that you believed you were in immediate danger.
  3. Get out of sight of the protesters. If you are in contact with the police, tell them where you are going. If not, call them immediately after you get out of the dangerous situation and be prepared to make a full report. 

    If Your Car Is Stopped, Stalled, or Disabled

    If you can’t move and the crowd does not appear to be dangerous, you might just be better off sitting tight and waiting for things to disperse. But if the crowd appears to be dangerous, you are now in a very serious, life-threatening emergency. And this requires a plan (and likely some very intense actions on your part). You will have to determine if you can safely and effectively leave your car and move to a protected area.

    Again, if protesters are not attempting to make entry into your vehicle, it may be better to just sit tight until things subside. But Young suggests immediately leaving the vehicle if any of the follow things happen:

    1. The vehicle is not operational, has stalled, or will not move.
    2. There is fire inside or directly outside your vehicle.
    3. Protesters are smashing your windows or attempting to make entry into your immobile vehicle.

    This is where an effective plan is all but required. If you are planning to leave your vehicle, remember that you will likely be fighting your way out of your vehicle and fighting your way to safety. Do not leave in a panic. Think things through. First and foremost, Young suggests looking for an area that could provide relative safety and determining a direction of travel to that area.

    If you are responsible for family members or others who are with you, explain the importance of trying to stay together. This may limit your movement and defensive options, especially if you have young children, but is it paramount that you keep everyone accounted for.

    Access your defensive situation, taking a quick inventory of all the items you may be able to use as weapons when fighting your way to safety. In addition to your personal firearm, do you have knives, impact weapons, or anything else you can use in your defense?

    Do not leave your car without ensuring you take important items with you. This includes your identification, house keys, cell phone, and any weapons.

    Young suggests you consider the following as you prepare to fight your way out of the situation:

    1. Can you operate your firearm effectively from inside your vehicle?
    2. Have you ever fired through glass? (Flying glass could cut you or damage your eyes.)
    3. Are you and your companions prepared for the discharge of a firearm in a confined space? (This is extremely loud.)
    4. Is everyone prepared to move when the time comes? 

      “Fighting through a large, violent crowd is one of the most dangerous situations in the world. Often the sheer number of attackers can overwhelm even heavily armed and well-trained individuals. Exiting your vehicle is the last resort in a very dangerous situation,” said Young. “The first and best option is to avoid such situations. If you happen upon such a protest, do your best to get away immediately because there is no telling when the crowd can turn violent.”



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