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Stupid Gun Owner Behavior

Okay gun owners, I’ve got a bone to pick with some of you.

Why aren’t y’all serious about this whole armed citizen thing? Why do you treat your guns like magic talismans, whose mere presence can ward off evil criminal spirits?

Case #1: The Warning Shot!

Recently on THR, I read a thread about the practice of firing a warning shot into the ground or air as a prelude to actual deadly force. While this dubious practice was thankfully shouted down by most thread participants, there was a lone dissenter who claimed it was his SOP to load a blank cartridge as the first round in his autoloading handgun, so that his warning shot wouldn’t endanger anyone!

Chew on that one for a minute. Here’s a supposedly sane adult who has reached the conclusion that if he is required to use deadly force, his first round out of his sidearm will be one that won’t actually hurt anyone (unless the muzzle is pressed directly to the target’s skull)!

Case #2 (somewhat related): The Shotgun Snap Cap!

Also on THR (not that I mean to pick on them, but it’s the one of two gun forums that I read regularly), we had an after action report from a fellow who nicely terminated a would-be driveway theft by walking outside with his Remington 870 and chambering a round. The perps got to spend the night in the Greybar Hilton and our hero got to keep his truck. Applause all around, right?

Well, just one detail. He mentioned that he preferred to use a snap cap as the first round, just in case he tripped while running around! Once again, we have a supposedly thoughtful adult human who has come to the conclusion that not only should the most important round in a lethal force encounter be non-lethal, but that it make no noise!!

Case #3: Condition 3 Carry, or The IDF Draw

I’ve seen this pop up all over the place, and I still can’t figure it out. In case you’re late to the party, Condition 1 carry is a firearm that has a full magazine, a round in the chamber, the hammer/striker cocked, and the manual safety (if any) is on. 1911s, Glocks, Browning P35s, and other manual safety guns are traditionally carried this way.

Condition 2 carry is a full magazine, a round in the chamber and the hammer/striker is down, and the safety (if any) is off. Most double action autos like SIGs and Berettas are carried this way.

Condition 3, however, is a full magazine inserted with no round in the chamber. This mode requires that the user operate the slide on his pistol before getting it into the fight. This is most commonly used on guns that are not carried on the person, or on arms that do not have drop-safe safties.

There are those who promote this idea. Apparently it’s quite popular in the IDF. You can get quite fast at drawing and racking, just like you can get pretty good at riding a unicycle. It doesn’t make either proposition terribly practical.

In my opinion, there is no excuse for carrying your sidearm unloaded. Those who do so are making a lot of arrogant assumptions about their next gunfight and are needlessly cluttering their responses with fiddly operations when they should be throwing lead.

All three of these gripes have one thing in common: A demonstrated lack of seriousness. Folks, using deadly force to defend your life is absolutely the most solemn task you will ever prepare for. If you are squeamish about the reality of the situation, or have ethical, moral or spiritual qualms about ending another human’s life, you need to fix your mindset, not your equipment! If you are not comfortable handling loaded arms then you need to get training and gain confidence in your skills. Attempting to make lethal force a more comfortable proposition by making your arms less lethal is a losing proposition. Get serious before someone calls your bluff.

End of sermon. Thanks for your time.

{ 22 } Comments

  1. Mathman | March 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I think an argument could be made for the case of if your attacker gets a hold of your firearm, you are aware of the safety precautions made with the weapon but your attacker is not. Particularly in case 3, if the attacker is unaware that the round is not in the chamber then the attacker can’t start blasting away at you. Of course ideally the attacker shouldn’t even have a chance of getting your weapon. With practice drawing your weapon and pulling the slide can be second nature. I dunno, I think that case isn’t a bad idea.

  2. pdb | March 11, 2007 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I’ll allow that for people whose sidearm is going to be carried visibly (police, military), C3 might have some merits.

    But for your usual armed civilian, C3 means that:

    -2 hands are ALWAYS required to get the gun in the fight.
    -you will not be able to surreptitiously ready your gun.

    But look, a person making a grab for your gun is making a lethal attack, and should be met as such. Making your weapons harder to deploy is not the answer.

  3. Dan Patterson | March 11, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Walter Brennen as Old Man Clanton in “My Darling Clementine” when told of a confrontation with the Marshalls where no one was injured:

    (Beats younger son with a quirt). Disdainfully:
    “When you pull a gun, kill a man”.

  4. BobG | March 11, 2007 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Carrying a fire arm that is not ready to shoot is merely giving the opponent a chance to take it away from you. If you are not carrying it ready to shoot, you should not be carrying it.

  5. Emeril | March 11, 2007 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Well, there is the possibility that the blank cartridge will cause the gun to jam/stop. It may not have the power to work the action correctly or something.

  6. MauserMedic | March 11, 2007 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Years ago, as a reserve officer in a one stoplight town, I carried a 1911A1 when on duty. ALWAYS condition one. I pulled it from the holster by necessity once in six years. Just getting it out of the holster with that much adrenaline was much more difficult than I would have thought. Trying to draw and rack a slide under the same conditions, and the possibility of a failure to feed on racking, is a bad idea.

  7. Ernunnos | March 11, 2007 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I love the people who think condition 3 is the way to go because “that’s the way the IDF does it.” The IDF does it that way because when you have a military made up of conscripts just out of high school, most of them can’t be trusted to carry a loaded gun.

  8. Roughedge | March 11, 2007 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    I wager it’s fairly hard to fire from retention with a handgun starting in condition 3.

    I’m actually interested in hearing someone’s theory about firing from retention when ones handgun is in the holster in condition 3.

  9. Arthur | March 11, 2007 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    > Condition 3, however, is a full magazine inserted with no round in the chamber. This mode requires that the user operate the slide on his pistol before getting it into the fight.
    Buh, buh, buh, but that’s how they do it on TV!?

  10. Rick C | March 12, 2007 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Arthur–that’s because TV people are not enamored of getting things right. :)

  11. Josh | March 12, 2007 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    On carry condition, I think it is up to the person who is carrying to decide what they want to do. If some idiot wants to carry in C3 for no other reason than “the IDF does it”, well, it’s their potential funeral. C1 or C2 should be the norm for anyone that takes the defense of their life seriously. With modern firearms and safety precautions, there is no reason that the chamber should be empty (thinking old SAA’s here).

    Shotguns are kinda the same way. I know of an old timer or two who stoke their chamber with rock salt, as a warning shot. Personally, I think it’s dumb as hell – if you have to actually fire, then there must exist a condition that makes you feel for your life and justify deadly force. If that condition is met, use that amount of force. Most people are stubborn and won’t listen otherwise.

    Any warning shot is a stupid idea, opens you up to litigation even if you’re justified in using deadly force, and will not play in front of a jury. Fire a warning shot if either a) you want the goblin to take your gun and beat you with it or b) you like the prospect of “federal pound me in the ass prison.”

    You’re right, PDB. They should get serious.

  12. Desertrat | March 12, 2007 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Ownership of a firearm does not create smarts.

    I’m a Condition One guy with my 1911, and have been such for around a half-century. I have a distinct lack of interest in other opinions.

    Back in the Korean War-era, the Army was a Condition Three deal for MPs. One enterprising young lad decided that was a Distinct Bummer, and devised his own system to deal with it: Draw, and then hang the rear sight against the pistol belt while pushing downward. Presto: A round was cycled into the chamber, while the weak hand was still available to fend off the Bad Guy or whatever else was needed…


  13. Justin | March 12, 2007 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Hate to say it, but some of the stuff posted by some of our members can induce a case of the cringes.

    It may be The High Road, but it’s still on teh intartron, and therefore it pays to turn on your critical thinking skills before reading.

  14. shooter | March 12, 2007 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    oookkaaaayyyy. Let me wrap my noodle around this one. Now, I saw this post on THR, but disregarded it as foolish and moved on. These guys fire a warning shot, carry blanks, hold in condition 3? WTF? First, I always carry condition one. Second, I am not going to waste my time with a warning shot. The threat is there and needs stopping. I’m putting sights on target and doing what needs to be done. Playing hero like “they do on t.v.” will only get you or your loved ones killed. Remember that the best laid plans will get shot to hell once the adrenaline dumps into your bloodstream. Now, I do carry a shotgun in the house with the chamber empty and firing pin relaxed. That is what is called ‘storage/transport’ mode. It eases wear on the firing pin and action. I’ve only had to draw it once on a possible threat to my home and, as I was trained to do, racked the slide to chamber a round and then topped off the magazine tube from the sidesaddle. It amazes me that these Darwin Candidates are still walking and talking with all ten fingers and ten toes.

    It’s all about the training. Do it right and repeatedly in practice, and you won’t screw up when the schumer hits the oscillator.

  15. Paul Simer | March 12, 2007 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Leaving a weapon in condition 3 is appropriate if (and only if) one is storing a defensive weapon that needs to be brought into play quickly, but not immediately. In my case, it’s the bedside shotgun with a fully-loaded magazine but no round in the chamber. If my primary bedside gun was a pistol that I never carried, it would be stored the same way.

    I sleepwalk and move things around in my sleep, so I want to have a very decisive step between laying my hands on a weapon and making it go bang.

  16. Will | March 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Dumb, dumb, dumb. This may not be true everywhere, but warning shots are viewed as SHOTS THAT MISSED! If shooting someone is not warranted, then a warning shot is a chargeable offense! Plus, you will be held accountable for any results of that shot you threw away. The ONLY situation that a warning shot would be called for is during a riot situation, where you want to get a crowds attention, to disuade them from attempting to swarm over you and yours. Mainly due to lack of ammo for the numbers involved.
    If it takes two hands to get your HANDgun functional, you are a fool. You may live to regret it. Hopefully no one else will have to pay a price for your foolishness.

  17. Xavier | March 12, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Damned fine!

  18. Donmeaker | March 13, 2007 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    What is condition 3 for a double barrel shotgun?

  19. pdb | March 14, 2007 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What is condition 3 for a double barrel shotgun?

    Good question. I presume that C3 is out of the question for doubles. If it has external hammers, you might could store it in condition 2.

    But most sporting doubles are carried empty.

  20. Michael | March 14, 2007 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    You find these folks at the places like the gun show and ranges. I ignore them for the most and sometimes get a chuckle.

    First off let me address the “warning shot” comment. Most police aren’t allowed to dicharge their weapon into the air or the ground to warn a aggressor. Mostly for safety or legal reasons that are self evident.

    There is also the case for while you are goind your warning shot the bad guy can just shot you. Or it could have elevated a non-hostile situation to a hostile one.

    The other is condition carry, I never got into the condion one or condition red stuff. I have to ways of carrying a weapon, loaded or not loaded. I carry a protection weapon loaded at all times, if has a safety then it is engaged. A hunting weapon is unloaded, until I’m ready to start hunting.

  21. Mark@C | March 15, 2007 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    When I’m home and carrying (but I repeat myself) it is a 1911 in condition 1. My ‘bump-in-the-night gun (Thanks, Tam!) is a norchester ’97 clone, hammer down with one in the tube.
    The wifes’ home shotgun is a SxS hammerless, loaded and locked. Anybody want to make me a deal on an external hammer coach gun?
    My philosophy is simple – if you draw, shoot. If the intruder hears the shotgun slide racking, its’ because the first one missed.
    Who was it said “a man who shoots first may not have many friends, but his enemies are surely all dead”?

  22. Joe | March 20, 2007 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I can see the snap-cap chambered in the shotgun as reasonable primarily because long guns rarely have drop-safeties and shouldn’t be stored/transported in C1 without some extra precautions.
    Unless you use the same model shotgun exclusively, it can be a bit of a hassle to remember, especially under stress, where the slide release is on the model you’re using this time, but the trigger always releases the slide. The snap-cap protects the firing pin when you need it most.