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DEPUTY’S OBSERVATIONS: Why Do We Carry Handguns?

DEPUTY’S OBSERVATIONS:  Why Do We Carry Handguns?

The Commander’s weapon of choice was a .38 S&W Chief Special wearing a Barami Hip Grip.

Frank Hinkle

Why do we carry handguns? It was a question asked of me many years ago while I had the honor to serve as the bailiff to a judge of the Superior Court. He was a remarkable man who spent most of his career as a top prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, but for three-years he served as one of the most respected judges of our criminal courts. It was one of the most interesting times in my career.

We called him “The Commander,” a nickname that had been pinned on him by his colleagues in the DA’s office. Many of them served as officers in our nation’s military reserves, and at the same time that he became the chief-deputy of a branch office he also attained the rank of Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He eventually retired at the rank of captain, but there was just something about the moniker “The Commander” that fit him and it stuck with him for years.

“The Commander” was an exceptional leader. His Navy service had all been in “line units” in Naval Aviation. He was an electrical engineer by training and had served as a Naval Flight Officer on antisubmarine bombers, including an assignment to Vietnam immediately after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

“The Commander” was a common sense guy. No matter how complex of a legal issue that faced him, he always broke it down to its core elements, applied the applicable law and moved forward. I don’t ever recall him having to stop and take an objection under advisement and research it later; he just used common sense and made a ruling.

One of his most remarkable qualities as a leader was that he dedicated himself to teaching us on his staff something everyday. He had no obligation to do so, but everyday he tried to teach our clerk and court reporter and myself something. It might be a complex legal issue, Oriental philosophy or something of a mechanical nature, but everyday we learned something from him, and we were better employees and people for it. In later years I tried to do the same for the young deputies that I worked with.

“The Commander” was a life-long “gun guy” and carried a concealed weapon most of his adult life; a fact that his flight crewmembers appreciated. Flying patrols from Japan out over the open ocean they found it reassuring that “The Lieutenant” had a snub-nosed .38 in his flight suit pocket. Later when they were assigned to Vietnam all of the flight crewmembers were issued WWII era revolvers. While they were all gathered in the barracks being briefed, “The Lieutenant” was selecting which old revolvers his crewmen were going to carry, and he selected the best of the bunch. “The Lieutenant” looked after his crew.

One day “The Commander” accosted me with the question, “Why do we carry handguns?” I was stumped for an answer and muttered something feeble, like “Because they make us look sexy?” Being a gentleman he let that go. He did not expect me to answer his question, and we both knew that he was only couching a statement in the form of a question to encourage me to think about it.

“We carry handguns,” he told me in his crisp, precise way of speaking, “because we do not expect trouble.” That was my lesson for the day: We carry handguns because we do not expect trouble. To my credit I was able to extrapolate that out to the next level: If we expect trouble then we bring a long gun. But since we don’t expect trouble but are aware that trouble might still visit us, we go armed with a handgun.

That was one of the most important lessons that I ever learned during my law enforcement career. Of all of the classes I took in Criminal Justice, starting in high school and through community collage, the academy, Advanced Officer schools (aka “retread school”) and later “Regional Officer Training” (aka “Rot,” which it usually was) plus all of the seminars and survival schools that I attended on my own, that one observation about carrying a handgun made the biggest impression on me of all. Not to say that I did not learn important things from all of my advanced training classes and survival seminars, because I did. But that one basic rule about defensive handguns and offensive long guns opened my eyes and made me think about what I was doing and how to view a situation. I had always been pragmatic about my assignments, expecting and planning for trouble even when the sergeant, who was not going to be leaving his office and going with me, was sure that “Everything would be OK and everybody will get along and we will sing ‘Kum ba yah’ together afterwards.” Funny, beforehand they always had the utmost confidence in my abilities to bring a situation to a peaceful resolution while afterwards they exhibited no confidence in my judgment, expected numerous complaints & law suits and bemoaned the day that I had been assigned to their quiet and peaceful world in Neverland. Until the next time that they assigned me to deal with a potentially dangerous assignment and still did not volunteer to go out into the field to cover me.

I actually refined that lesson one more step: But because we are aware of the sudden and violent nature of criminal attacks we carry .45s. I don’t mean that only those of us who carry pistols chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge can call ourselves “warriors.” I mean that you should carry the largest pistol of the largest caliber that you can conceal, and shoot competently. For some that is a small 2” revolver or a compact .380 ACP pocket pistol. It is more important to have “some gun” than “no gun.” “The Commander “ always preached to me, “A hit with a .22 is more important than a miss with a .45.” His weapon of choice was a .38 Smith & Wesson Chief Special wearing a Barami Hip Grip. (www.baramihipgrip.com.) He always carried it, and he was an expert shot with it.

My first partner in Fugitive Investigations, “Big Al” Culbertson, carried a Charter Arms Bulldog 5-shot .44 Special revolver. He was a competitive shooter and our range master & armorer. He was our “one-man SWAT Team” and he could shoot circles around me, literally. I was carrying so many guns and so much extra ammunition that I could hardly make it out of our unmarked car, and my biggest fear was of being attacked by a magnet. Had I ever fallen down I would probably have to low-crawl around until I found something to pull myself upright. “Big Al” also carried a .357 Magnum revolver and 500 rounds along with a sawed-off double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun in the trunk of our “cool car,” but he knocked on doors with just the five-rounds of .44 Special in his weapon and none of us quibbled with him about it. For him with his skill level, that was “enough gun” for just about any situation that he could expect to face. What was in the trunk was for when “Big Al” expected trouble.

Stay safe, and stay alert.


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  • Belgian-malinois-picture_max50

    rookiewanabee

    about 3 years ago

    190 Comments

    very good article. you just never know these days with all the active shooter situations.

  • Me_last_wk_max50

    delano388

    about 3 years ago

    4314 Comments

    Excellent article

  • Geiger_max50

    David4946

    about 3 years ago

    1326 Comments

    When people ask me "Why do you carry off duty?" I look at them and say... "It's a dangerous world that we live in ... and you never know when it might be necessary to kill someone." Active Shooters are everywhere these days.. BE PREPARED!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    An interesting article and something to think about too. Thanks for sharing it with all of us. Take care and God Bless.

  • Me__mr

    cgingo

    about 3 years ago

    21958 Comments

    Excellent article. After all my years in law enforcement and now retired, I still carry an assortment of firearms and a long gun in my truck. The article reminded me of a joke about an old timer.

    A Texan cruises thru a stop sign and gets pulled over by a local policeman. The guy hands the cop his driver’s license, insurance verification, plus his concealed carry permit.
    “Okay, Mr. Smith,” the cop says, “I see your CC permit. Are you carrying today?”
    “Yes, I am.”
    “Well then, better tell me what you got.”
    Smith says, “Well, I got a .357 revolver in my inside coat pocket. There’s a 9mm semi-auto in the glove box. And, I’ve got a .22 magnum derringer in my right boot.”
    “Okay,” the cop says. “Anything else?”
    “Yeah, back in the trunk, there’s an AR15 and a shotgun. That’s about it.”
    “Mr. Smith, are you on your way to or from a gun range…?”
    “Nope.”
    “Well then, what are you afraid of…?”
    “Not a damn thing…”

    As I drive the highways and byways, I'm sure I can still take care of myself and my family, even after retirement.

  • Im000112_max50

    inspectorgadget7389

    about 3 years ago

    108 Comments

    I used to wonder why American cops carried pistols when cops around the world carried long guns or submachine guns. As I got older and especially when I got into Naval ROTC in college which required we keep abreast of world activities, I figured out that all the places where trouble was expected were where the officers carried something besides a pistol. When I visited Japan the officers that I saw armed had only pistols except at Tokyo's Narita Airport which regularly faced attacked by protesters who believed it was built illegally on sacred ground. The airport officers carried submachine guns. The same can be found in Germany, Italy, England and Israel where terrorists attack with frightening regularity. America, I found out, is much different. Even in the most crime ridden neighborhoods and at our busiest airports officers carry only pistols. The long guns come out only when expectations are high for trouble and then they get put out of sight just as soon as trouble is handled. Why ? Because, unlike the rest of the world, the people have a say in what we, as police and corrections officers, do and carry in public and the general public doesn't like to see heavy firepower until they, themselves, see the potential for it. This is why the public generally doesn't disaprove corrections officers having long guns when manning guard towers because they expect serious trouble in prisons and prisons tend to be places where the occupants either don't mind seeing heavy firepower or, in the case of the inmates, just come to live with it. There were many times when I escorted a dangerous inmate to a hospital or doctor's visit or funeral and wished I could carry a shotgun, but couldn't because the public would freak out. As a prison supervisor I can understand this now. When the public sees an officer holding heavy firepower they assume, rightly or wrongly, that something bad might happen, is happening or is imminently close to occurring and they get scared. Therefore, like it or not the heavy stuff stays in the trunk or locked up until needed and we had best become pretty darn good shots with pistols.

  • Pict0083_max50

    Boomervet

    about 3 years ago

    126 Comments

    When I was in college, the two best profs I had were retired Navy officers. Both were "four stripers" (captain). One was a Tomcat pilot and CAG, the other was the CO of a frigate. A good leader is also a good teacher.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Lt_mckinney

    about 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    Love the article. The advise that I was given holds just as true: Remember that your mouth can talk you out if more trouble than your pistol can shoot you out of!

  • P0203_max50

    DeptuyDawg7963

    about 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    Great article great read now that's what I mean by ready for anything anywhere

  • Picture_100_max50

    crowfeeder

    about 3 years ago

    928 Comments

    Good explanation. Great read.

  • Life_giving_sword_max50

    mushin

    about 3 years ago

    64 Comments

    I'M SURE MOST OF YO HAVE HEARD THE STORY OF THE SHERIFF THAT USED TO CARRY A 45. AN OLD LADY ONCE ASKED WHY HE CARRIED A 45 AS IT WAS SO LARGE.. HE RESPONDED BY TELLING HER THAT THEY DIDN'T MAKE A 46.
    THE SAME SHERIFF WORE HIS 45 TO CHURCH. THE PASTOR ASKED IF HE WAS EXPECTING TROUBLE. HE SAID THAT IF HE WAS EXPECTING TROUBLE HE WOULD BE CARRYING HIS SHOTGUN. OLD JOKES FROM AN OLD RETIRED COPPER.

  • Tic_max50

    dpichr

    over 4 years ago

    40 Comments

    "Worst fear is being attacked by a magnet" LMAO

  • Fashion_copy_max50

    bth1208

    over 4 years ago

    34 Comments

    excellent article!

  • Aaa_max50

    beejac

    over 4 years ago

    1424 Comments

    Best that i have read in a while.

  • Pisilhouette_max50

    nightwatch

    almost 5 years ago

    356 Comments

    that was a great article

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