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Deputy's Observations: The First Rule of Gunfighting

Deputy's Observations: The First Rule of Gunfighting

Frank Hinkle

The first rule of surviving a gunfight is to have a gun to fight with. As we discussed in the previous article that means not only having a weapon, but also having it accessible to you when you need it. That does not mean under the seat of your car or inside of a briefcase. It means where you can put your hand to it immediately, and without taking your eyes off of any threat.

Example: my wife (also a peace officer) and I were shopping in a grocery store when she observed an ex-con looking male walking around the store in a suspicious manner. She went to the manager and told him that he had a booster in the store and what she had seen him take. We then attempted to finish our shopping without any further involvement. We were standing in line at the checkout counter when we saw the suspect exiting the store with the manger trailing along behind him. The suspect dropped some packs of cigarettes that we had seen him take, but still had others in his possession. I rethought my previous decision not to get further involved and started to go to cover the manager. But at the same time I decided that I needed to access my weapon before approaching the suspect. I had a .380ACP pistol in an ankle holster, but at that moment it was too far away from my hand to be of any use, and to retrieve it meant taking my eyes off of the situation that was developing.

That quickly a pickup truck driven by another ex-con looking male pulled up outside the doors and the first subject jumped into it. My first impression was that the truck was cleaner than both subjects and that it was probably stolen. The driver swerved towards the store manager and then sped off. This was not a simple petty theft-shoplift, it was 2 ex-cons on a crime spree, and they weren’t going to go back to jail quietly. And that all happened before I could get my pistol out of my ankle holster.

Not only was my weapon too far from my hand but it was also obvious to me was that I did not have nearly enough gun for that incident. A small .380 pistol or 2" revolver is great for carrying, but they are not always enough gun for the situation.

So what is “enough gun”? Using today’s collective body of knowledge that is an easy question to answer. One of your greatest concerns in today’s society is being the first armed person on the scene of an “active shooter” incident. Picture yourself off-duty and being at a school or shopping mall, a large restaurant or theater, and hearing gunfire and screaming. Our experiences over the last few years have taught us that mentally ill persons, alone or in groups, have acted out their fantasies of committing multiple murders in places like schools and shopping malls. Disgruntled ex-employees or scorned lovers have gone into crowed restaurants and offices to kill staff and customers alike. And the only way to stop the killing is to aggressively confront and incapacitate the killers. No waiting for back-up, no calling for SWAT, no setting up a perimeter or rendering of first aid to victims. We must peruse the shooter and attack them, put them on the defensive at risk to our own lives, and end the killing.

Look at the places that you frequent and at what distances you might be expected to make a pistol shot at in an active shooter scenario, and then ask yourself is you are confident in your ability to do so with the weapon that you would be carrying. It dose not matter what equipment you have back in your car if you are away from your car; you will forced to deal with this situation with what you are carrying on your body.

As you walk your child through their school, look at the layout and where cover is and where you might encounter an armed suspect. Do you practice 15-yard and 25-yard shooting with your sub-compact weapon? Now turn that around: If you came up to this corner, heard shooting, looked around the corner and saw an armed person shooting into a classroom, what weapon that you can carry on your body would you be able to make that shot with, in order to save lives?

I carry a Colt Combat Commander in .45 ACP loaded with Winchester Lawman Jacketed Hollow Point ammunition, 2-extra magazines and a pair of Peerless handcuffs. That’s what I’d want if I found myself at that corner, so that’s what I carry every day.

Stay safe, and stay alert.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    Great article. You are correct. We all do need to carry anywhere, everywhere and always. I am only a greenhorn in law enforcement, I have 3 years in service but I carry a glock 36 (.45acp winchestor ranger ammo) and two mags, my badge and a pair of smith and wesson model 100 cuffs. I have already had to use my equipment off duty once for a brother in blue and once on a robbery attempt. Your article is great. Keep writing.

  • Kodiak_b_fulface_3288_471_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Great info presented here. Hopefully we'll all live by it and not become complacent. Remember, the shooter could be a con, a grandmother, or a kid. Regardless, they're a threat and need to be dealt with so we can go home at the end of our shift, or incident.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    I always carry, no matter what! I am not getting stuck in a bad situation where I left the house go around the corner for just a minute, forgetting to grab my piece. I am aware of my abilities, I always stay aware of surroundings - especially when I'm with my family.

  • Dsc_1909_max50


    over 7 years ago


    In regards to the shoplifting incident, without the benefits of the radio, a duty belt and vest and especially in the company of a family member, I would adhere to the old adage that when off duty, be a good witness. However, if an active shooter incident occurs in your presence, you must take action and therefore be armed. My Glock 26 is always on hand.

  • New-patch_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I always carry off duty and I always carry in an inside the pants holder on my hope. I can draw that gun in a second if need be. There is no point in having the gun, if you can't get to it!

  • Img014_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Very good points we all should be ready no matter where we are or who we are with.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max160_max160_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Wow, awsome article. Great writting. I think I have a new favorite author. Keep this up and you will have your own place on my shelf.

  • My_lapd_badge_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Great article and a point I have trying to brow beat into Officers for years! I have a gun on me at ALL times! I even have a S&W Air-lite 38. cal that I carry in a jersey pocket when I ride my bicycle and in a holster under my shirt when I run! I have been in several Off-Duty incidents where I needed a gun, and had it on me! On my way to court right now with my S&W 4566 TSW and 2 extra mags on my person, not to mention the grab bag in the car with 20 extra mags. Some would say 20 extra mags??? My response to that is , Colonbine...... North Hollywood Bank robbery V-Tech??!! Your damn right 20 extra mags! If your a Law Enforcement Officer, Never go anywhere without a gun! Stay Safe Warriors!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    Great article...reinforces the trained thought process I received from my firearms instructor at the academy, that being "You leave your house, you take an accessable firearm.

  • The_wall_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Frank, you right on the money. Not only carry enough gun for the fight , but also know your surroundings at all times. It brings to mind a quote from Dirty Harry "A good man knows his limitations," this only states what you have just said, know your abilities, know your enviorment, if the situation presents itself and you do not have the capabiliuty to carry out the mission, we always make great observers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


  • Tn_1__max50


    over 7 years ago


    Very good story. Make an officer think about what they carrying off duty.

  • Srt_tactical_patch_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Great work Frank. I hope we are not lulled into complacency with the over coverage media has given to the topic of active shooters. We as law enforcement have to weigh the appearance of being paranoid against the realistic ability to respond to these situations. Lots of food for thought.

  • Adp_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Valid points...carry it on your gun side. Always. Creatures of habit and training. was shoplifting dude, relax. The store is insured; no lives threatened. Know when to be a good witness. Wf

  • Cop_on_cop_junior_m1_max50


    over 7 years ago


    very good article, well stated

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