Monster Hunter Nation

Early Review of Son of the Black Sword

From Nick Sharps. I believe this will go up on Elitist Book Reviews closer to the release date in October.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1235065143

Here’s the plot synopsis: After the War of the Gods, the demons were cast out and fell to the world. Mankind was nearly eradicated by the seemingly unstoppable beasts, until the gods sent the great hero, Ramrowan, to save them. He united the tribes, gave them magic, and drove the demons into the sea. Yet as centuries passed, Gods and demons became myth and legend, and the people no longer believed. The Age of Law began.

Ashok Vadal has been chosen by a powerful ancient weapon to be its bearer. He is a Protector, the elite militant order of roving law enforcers. No one is more merciless in rooting out those who secretly practice the old ways. Everything is black or white, good or evil, until he discovers his entire life is a fraud. Ashok isn’t who he thinks he is, and when he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the consequences lead to rebellion, war—and destruction.

Ashok seems like a deceptively simple character. Trained by an Order of warrior monks and chosen by the ancestor blade Angruvadal to be its bearer, Ashok is peerless. He is the best of the Protectors, a perfect soldier that carries out orders without question. The massacres he has perpetrated in obedience to the Law have earned him the nickname Black Heart. On the surface he could appear one dimensional but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that Ashok shares literary DNA with Toru, the disgraced samurai from The Grimnoir Chronicles and Agent Franks from Monster Hunter International — my two favorite Correia characters. Ashok starts out as a tool, a weapon, but this is purposeful. When Ashok’s world is turned upside down by a terrible truth his unflinching devotion to the law serves to really complicate matters for him and everyone else.

There’s a certain humor to Ashok, despite his stoic, no-nonsense attitude (or perhaps because of it). We have a protagonist that believes so fiercely in the Law that he voluntarily turns himself in to the authorities upon committing a crime, imprisoning himself in a jail that could not possibly contain him. He’s not a good man by any means. Over the 20 years he has served as a Protector he slaughtered countless men, women, and children for a number of offenses. And yet this is the man that has been fated to lead a rebellion that will free millions of casteless from tyranny. There’s a prophecy but it’s a nice twist on the typical simple, innocent farm boy who will rise to defeat evil. Ashok has a fulfilling character arc over the course of SON OF THE BLACK SWORD and there’s still much more room for him yet to grow as the series continues.

Correia novels are notorious for ensemble casts of colorful characters — in the case of the Monster Hunter series several of the supporting characters have been so successful as to earn their own spin-off novels (MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA and MONSTER HUNTER NEMESIS). SON OF THE BLACK SWORD introduces a handful of potentially amazing characters, though the book would have benefitted from giving them a greater focus. A lot of time is wisely spent developing Ashok but the others are given considerably less attention. I’m very interested to learn more about Jagdish the twice dishonored warrior, Rada the antisocial archivist, Keta the Keeper of Names, and Thera the mysterious mercenary. Regardless, this is only the first book of the series and there is plenty of time and opportunity to further flesh out these characters. I also look forward for more to be revealed about Grand Inquisitor Omand, Sikasso the assassin and their motivations come the sequel. Correia writes some of the absolute best multi-dimensional villains you can find in genre fiction.

Those fantasy readers who have grown tired of white bread pseudo-European settings should rejoice because SON OF THE BLACK SWORD has a very obvious Asian flavor to it (for reasons that are hinted at over the course of the novel). I believe that it’s safe to say that the Writer Nerd Game Night’s Legend of the Five Rings fan fiction has had a major influence on the creation of this world (in the best possible way).

There are lots of fun nuggets of world building. Demons dwell in the ocean and as a result mankind has been confined to land for centuries. Demons occasionally strike forth from the depths and wreak havoc on coastal cities. . Only the lowest of the low are condemned to live near water. “Fish-eater” is used as a derogatory term while “ocean” and “saltwater” are used as curses. Another awesome aspect of SON OF THE BLACK SWORD is the titular black sword. Ancestor blades are extremely rare relics. They are the only weapons capable of easily parting demon flesh and bearers have access to the instincts of all those to have wielded the sword before them. These black swords (such as Ashok’s Angruvadal) are the ultimate weapon/status symbol and they are a major driving force of the plot. I will admit that terms like “Inquisition” and “Protector” could have been substituted for something better fitting of the setting but that’s a minor nitpick.

The continent of Lok is ruled, not by a brutal tyrant but instead by an uncaring bureaucracy. Religion and superstition are illegal, punishable by death and the Law dictates every aspect of daily life. A rigid caste system maintains order and at the bottom of the hierarchy are the casteless. These untouchables aren’t even considered human and as a result they are treated as property less valuable than livestock. For hundreds of years the casteless have lived brief, meaningless lives toiling in fear but a Prophet has been chosen and the rebellion ignited. The history of Lok is obscured to all but a select few though myths and legends are difficult to stamp out entirely.

This wouldn’t be a very good review of a Correia book if I neglected to talk about the action. When you open SON OF THE BLACK SWORD be sure to wear a parka because you’re going to be bathed in buckets of blood. With his magical sword and Protector training Ashok is the sort of protagonist to do Conan proud. There’s a running melee through a mountain town between Ashok and an army of raiders at the end of the book that lives up to Correia’s trademark set piece battles. What I appreciate most is that the protagonists are given logical reasons for being able to surviving pitched combat that would fell an ordinary man or woman in moments. It’s fantasy, sure, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unbelievable.

The plotting is as deft as it’s ever been, Correia’s writing only continues to approve with every new release. There are a couple of awesome twists, including one with some major implications that I truly did not see coming. Hints are dropped over the course of the novel relating to the true nature of things but there are a lot of questions in need of answering. SON OF THE BLACK SWORD delivers a fun and fulfilling sword & sorcery tale while setting the stage for something even greater for the sequels to come. Correia thinks BIG and I’m confident that Saga of the Forgotten Warrior book two will serve to ramp up the scale to mammoth proportions.

Recommended Age: 14+

Language: I only remember a few minor curses (beyond the made up ones)

Violence: Robert E. Howard levels of violence.

Sex: Hinted at but not shown.

Nick Sharps
Elitist Book Reviews

How Authors Get Paid, part 2

This link is going around Facebook and a couple of people who took my creative writing class sent it to me: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-32379991

From what I’ve seen myself, I have no reason to doubt the BBC’s stats. I believe these are all UK specific, but the general idea probably translates over to the US as well.

Only 1 in 9 professional authors could earn a living solely from their writing in 2013.

Almost half the money made by professional authors is earned by just 5% of authors.

The top 5% of authors earned 42% of the income.

Wow.

Now if you are expecting some Occupy Wall Street type screed about how that’s unfair, somebody has too much privilege, or JK Rowling should stop writing to give other writers a chance, or how you shouldn’t read white authors for a year, or you shouldn’t read male authors for a year, or asinine nonsense like that (and sadly I’m not making up any of those), you are on the wrong author’s blog.

Screw that. You guys probably thought I was joking when I wrote my Alphabetical List of Author Success because my critics kept calling me D List http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/07/24/the-official-alphabetical-list-of-author-success/ but it turned out to be all sorts of scientific. Thanks, BBC. (And by the way thanks for Luther too, which is the 2nd best cop show ever, but not for firing Clarkson and ruining Top Gear, though. I can never forgive you for that)

Today I want to talk about how struggling writers can make more money. My creative writing class wasn’t so much creative writing, but how to get good enough at creative writing that you could make a living at it. So we’re not going to whine about how Stephen King makes more money than you. That’s for losers. We’re going to talk about how to make money at writing.

My personal philosophy is that all writers need to put GET PAID in their mission statement. All that artistic creative stuff is nice too, but make sure GET PAID is in there (in all caps).

When you get a chance I recommend reading this post I wrote last year in response to some dipstick who didn’t understand how book sales work claiming my career was in free fall. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/09/17/file-770-is-mad-at-me-again-so-i-explain-how-authors-get-paid/  You can skip the first half with the internet bickering, but after that using my own books and royalty statements, I explain how best seller lists work, advances, royalties, back lists, and extra sources of income like subrights, dramatic, audio, foreign, etc. I wrote it to spite a dumbass, but the information is actually useful so we’ll consider that our part 1.

Before I quit my day job and became a full time author I was an accountant and a small business owner. I’m going to write this blog post wearing my accountant hat, so it is going to be cruel and it may hurt your tender artistic feelings, but tough. Do you want to make a living at this or not? If you want to be a dabbling hobbyist so you can brag to your friends you’re a writer, quit reading now, because I don’t want to listen to your whining in the comments. This is aimed at people who want writing to be their job.

First off newer and aspiring authors you need to realize a few things about the nuts and bolts of the writing business. It is a business. It doesn’t care about your feelings or your personal drama. You are just an entertainer. There are millions of other people who want to be entertainers. You aren’t a special snowflake, unique from the million other special snowflakes who also want to write books.

Novelist is one of those jobs that lots of people think sounds fun, but they have zero concept of how much work it takes for most of us to succeed. People have delusions that it is easy. You work for a few hours a day, and make millions of dollars. These are the same kind of delusions the masses have about being rock super stars, fashion models, actors, or NFL players.  Just like the millions of failed rappers giving away their old demo tapes, you may be super talented, far more talented than the other snowflakes, but unless you get your product in front of an audience who will give you money for it, your talent will not be appreciated, and you don’t get paid.

Someone you think is far less talented than you may achieve a great deal of success. Irrelevant. Quit crying about it. Yes, we all know you think your book is better than Twilight, but she sleeps in a house made of gold bars and you don’t. She found her market and satisfied her fans. Quit crying about it and go find your fans. The market does not give a crap about what some snob somewhere thinks is good. The market will decide what it wants. Just because you wrote something does not entitle you to someone else’s money.

You need to understand basic econ. There is supply and demand. No amount of wishful thinking will ever change that. You are trying to compete in an industry where the supply side curve has shifted dramatically in recent years.

Indy publishing and eBooks have increased consumers’ options. The market is flooded. Where they used to choose between a handful of traditional publishers in any genre, they now choose from a handful of traditional publishers and hundreds of thousands of indy published works. So there is a whole lot of supply available. Aspiring authors who used to just get rejected and never publish, now self-publish on their own. (that’s how I got started). In a normal market this drives down costs, which is why we have millions of 99 cent eBooks, so if your book costs more, it needs to have something that makes that additional cost worth it prospective purchasers. Not sucking is the biggest.

On the demand side, this is what the BBC said: The creative industries are thriving, generating £76bn per annum, yet professional writers have seen a near 30% reduction in earnings in recent years

So overall consumers are spending a ton on entertainment, but less on books. The numbers I’ve seen from Publisher’s Weekly say the same thing, it varies from genre to genre, but overall most of them are getting smaller.

That is because we are entertainers. Writers produce one form of entertainment. Consumers can also be entertained by their Xbox or their TV. You aren’t just competing against John Grisham, you’re competing against Christ Pratt, Beyonce, and Call of Duty. The good news is that there is still a huge demand for entertainment.  You just need to get a piece of that big enough to live off of.

Side note, this is one reason I really got torqued at that one whiner telling JK Rowling to hang it up so she could have her chance. Rowling got millions of young people reading, who grew up to be consumers who branched out into other authors and genres. You shouldn’t yell at her. You should thank her.

There is a paradox for an author in 2015. It is harder than ever to make money from writing. And yet there are more people writing and publishing books than ever before. The market is reasonably stable but it can’t begin to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of new books flooding it every year.

You don’t have to be a maths scholar to work out the financial ramifications. Nor the consumer response. Readers, with little spare time are overwhelmed by the choice and end up sticking to what the authors they already know and trust.

Hence the big brand authors trade even better in an overcrowded market. 

 

Know and trust are huge. It is the same reason Coke and McDonalds and Dean Koontz sell more than some new competitor nobody has heard of.  Of course the BBC looks at this information and then draws a totally wrong conclusion.

Which is why literary prizes are so important. They provide a platform for new writing and an endorsed product on which time- poor punters can take a risk.

Sorry. The mass market doesn’t give a crap about literary prizes. The chunk of that multi-billion dollar entertainment market that pays attention to literary prizes is tiny. Award winning doesn’t translate into much, if any, extra sales. To many of the people who just want to be entertained, award winning doesn’t mean good. It means boring and preachy. That’s a whole different fight that I’ve been having for the last three years and don’t feel like having again right now, but basically, winning awards doesn’t translate into getting paid more. If you look at the list of authors who have won prestigious awards and you compare it to the list of authors making lots of money, there is a little bit of overlap, but most of the authors getting paid aren’t on that award winning list.

While a typical full-time writer earned £11,000 a year in 2013, the top 5% each earned at least £100,100, the research showed.

 

To put that into American dollars, the average is $17k and the top 5% is $157k. I’ve seen different numbers kicked around before, with the average being $30k and the top being $100k. I’m guessing that is all about how they pick their numbers, where they are cutting off “authors” and what market they are looking at, but either way, you get the general idea. Most authors aren’t making much money. Very few of us are making a lot. (As much as I get trashed by the snooty crowd, I’m making double those top end numbers, and that’s got to annoy them to no end)

So what do monetarily successful authors have in common?

They treat it like their career. They are professionals. They work and they produce. They don’t dink around. They realize they are entertainers and this is their job, so they treat it like a job. They make books people want to read and get them out the door.

The report said: “Thus, it appears that writing is a profession where only a handful of successful authors make a very good living while most do not.”

This is absolutely true. I’m betting the ratios are different, but it is true in traditional publishing and it is true in indy publishing. Because there is zero barrier to entry, there are hundreds of thousands of self-published eBooks out there which only ever sell a handful of copies to the author’s friends and families, but then there are self-published authors like Chris Nuttal, Marko Kloos, and Andy Weir who blow up huge.

Why? Because they are good enough people want their stuff, and they got in front of the people who want it somehow. The hardest part of self-publishing is finding something to differentiate yourself from the vast herd of suck around you.

Say you got picked up by a big publishing house though. In traditional publishing most authors still don’t quit their day job until after their fourth or fifth book is out and they’ve got arrangements for more.

Some authors come along, write one book, and it is a super mega hit for some reason. That’s great for them. They are anomalies. You can’t count on being an anomaly.

Around one in six writers did not earn any money from their writing in 2013, it said – despite 98% saying their work had been published or used in other ways.

I am very suspicious of this one, and depending on how they calculated it will explain a lot of the skew. If you earned zero money from your job, you aren’t a professional, you are an amateur.  You are a hobbyist. There is no shame in that, we all started there, but you aren’t a professional yet. That 98% who said their work was published or used in other ways… I’m sorry, blogging doesn’t make you a professional author. Working for free doesn’t make something your job.

And if people are using your stuff, why aren’t you getting paid? What’s wrong with you? Stop it. I’ve known way too many authors who’ve given away work for free getting paid in “exposure”. I’ve seen the same thing with musicians, photographers, and artists. If you are going to give away something for free, make sure there is a damned good reason for it, like a marketing plan that makes sense. I did free online fiction before I put out my first self-published work, because I used it to convince a group of consumers I could write well enough that they should give me money for my other stuff. That makes business sense. Working for free and not getting anything out of it is stupid.
That is one problem with being an author. Anybody can claim they are an author. There is no barrier to entry. Self-publish some crappy short fiction that nobody buys and you can claim to be an author (but they’ll hire you to work as a columnist at the Guardian).  So a lot of times when you see some terrifying statistics like these, keep in mind that there are a lot of hobbyists who are skewing the stats.

Not that the stats still don’t suck. This job is still really hard.

And 11.5% of authors now earn a living solely from their writing – down from 40% a decade ago.

 

That 11.5% makes perfect sense, and is about in line with what I would have guessed. When I go to any convention or writing conference, there is going to be a wide success range of authors. Let’s say you’ve got a room full of authors listening to a panel, and you ask “how many of you have quit your day jobs to just be writers?” about 10%-20% of the room will raise their hands. In most cases that includes the panelists. The 40% I have no idea because ten years ago I was selling machineguns, but it makes sense. There were far fewer total authors then competing in a bigger market.

Now for some numbers about the reality of making a living in this business. Let’s say you get a book deal with a major publisher. Because you are an unknown nobody they give you a $10,000 advance (which I believe is actually above average now) and the book will come out in mass market paperback. The cover price is $8.  The author gets 8% of the cover price on that mass market paperback. That is a whopping 64 cents the author clears per unit. To recover that advance and start getting paid royalties you’ll need to sell 15,625 books. Sadly, the last I heard the average midlist book (meaning a normal average paperback from a normal average author, that will probably be reordered when it sells out) only sells about 15k. Not per year. Total.

So that sucks. You need to do better than that If you want to get paid.

eBooks are nice because you are keeping a higher percentage, like 25%.  However eBooks also vary wildly in price, and the big publishers are going to be selling theirs for $5, $8, or some of them even price them something ridiculous like it is a hardback. This is where some of the self-published guys are rocking it They’re selling for a dollar or $2.99, but they’re keeping 75%, so they don’t need to move as many copies to get the same amount of money. Their problem is that most of them are selling tiny numbers of copies because they are competing in a saturated market and have nothing to differentiate them from their competitors.

Because most traditional publishers are having to tighten their belts, that hypothetical book deal above can’t count on a traditional publisher spending much marketing money or effort on it either. I’ve seen way too many new authors, and even older established authors who are no longer The Hotness get passed over and ignored by their publishing houses. Odds are most of your marketing efforts are going to come from you.

There are plenty of authors who produce a few books, maybe earn out their advance, maybe not. Then they give up and stick with their reliable day job. People who want to make a living at writing keep writing. They continue to produce books. Self-published or traditional, this applies to both.  They keep writing.

Then, for whatever reason, whether it happens on book #1 or book #100 one of those books sticks. The market likes it. There is no silver bullet. There is no certain way to pull this off. But one of those books clicks. It sells well. People tell their friends. Maybe somebody really well known raves about it. Maybe it is Oprah’s Book Club, hell if I know, but something clicks. Congratulations. You now have a fan base.

All of a sudden all those other books you wrote that didn’t do well, or only did okay? That’s sellable backlist. People will now go and purchase that stuff too. You are now getting paid for work that you did years ago. This is when it starts to get good. The more fans you get, the better your career does. That is your audience. Your job is to make them happy. You work for them. They do not work for you. Never forget that.

When I say a book sticks, I’m not even talking bestseller lists. I’m talking just good enough that a few thousand people love it enough that they will reliably give you money for your stuff. So you keep giving them stuff. They keep telling their friends. You’re still selling books to everybody else, but if you’ve got those reliable fans, things are looking up. The more of those you get, the better off you are.

So that last release you sold 15k copies? Let’s say you now have 5,000 fans who really like your work because of it, so now the next book comes out, and in that first, super vital release week, those 5k loyal fans buy it. That’s good velocity. That means the book stores reorder it. That means it shows up higher in the Amazon search ratings. Maybe some B&N employees pick your book as their Club 100 book they’re going to hand sell to customers. All of those things give your book momentum. And this one sells 30k copies.

Still not huge. Still not enough to quit your day job. But interestingly enough, that first book that only sold 15K? Some of your new readers have gone back and purchased it too. The advance is earned out, and now every six months you start getting a little bit of money for that old book.

As time goes on, you produce more books, you have more fans. As long as you keep producing, and you keep making them happy, it gets better and better. And your royalty statement keeps growing.

Here is the truly beautiful part. For each new work you produce, it has the potential to reach a whole new group of fans. A portion of each new group you find has the potential to go back and purchase your other works. It keeps building and building. To put this in perspective, my 13th novel (1st book of my 4th series) is coming out in October, but all my earlier novels are still being purchased by people who just found my work through something else.  On my last royalty check for the 6 month period ending in December 2014, my first novel, which has been sitting out there since 2009, still earned enough to pay my mortgage for the entire year.

That same royalty statement had 9 other items where I was still getting paid for work I’d done years before, so it is pretty sweet. You can’t reach that unless you keep producing books. Years ago Kevin J. Anderson—who has never won any prestigious literary awards—gave me the single best piece of professional writing advice I’ve ever heard. BE PROLIFIC. I’ve tried my best to do so. I’m on 13, that’s why I live in a nice house and my neighbors are doctors. He’s on 125. That’s why he lives in a castle and his neighbors are all Denver Broncos.  You see where I’m going with this?

The more you write, the more likely you are to create something that resonates with fans. I’ve had wannabes tell me that quality is never synonymous with quantity. On the contrary, the more you work, the more you write, the more likely you are to create something truly wonderful. Or in the context of this post, the more likely you are to produce something that pleases a whole bunch of fans.

What if you’ve done this, and you’ve written a ton of books but none of them are gaining traction? Then you need to take a real hard look at your business. What are you doing wrong? The biggest problems I’ve seen are that the writer simply isn’t that good, but sometimes they are, and they just aren’t finding the right audience. In that case, why? Are you writing in the wrong genre? Do your covers suck? Does your marketing plan suck? It could be a million things, but just like any other failing business, you need to be honest in your assessment.

It doesn’t matter how you accomplish all this, all that matters is that you are getting enough reliable income to live off of it. On that note, if you’re a struggling writer, and you could live anywhere with an internet connection, why are you living someplace with a super high cost of living? Don’t be stupid. You can’t afford “atmosphere” yet.

Once you quit your day job, now you can write more, which speeds up the whole process. When to quit your day job is all about opportunity cost. When you are at the point where the hours spent working your day job are not as lucrative as the hours spent writing, that’s when you should think seriously about quitting.

I loved my last day job. I was senior management at a company that did good work, with good people, and I got paid a lot of money. I hung onto my day job longer than I needed to because I had found an accountant’s dream job. But one day I got a royalty check large enough that I realized I was actually losing money by having a normal job. At that point, I warned my boss, and I started training my replacement (who a few years later is now a published author himself, so the circle of life continues).

Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you are a grown up and you have dependents, you need to be smart about building a writing career. Don’t be stupid. Some careers will develop faster than others. You may end up with an unexpected hit or a movie deal, but even then, be smart. Your next book may be a total flop. There are plenty of authors who are a flash in the pan, have a hit, and are then never heard from again. Normally that’s because they got lucky before they’d really learned how to be reliably good.

I know a lot of “professional” authors who don’t sell jack, don’t make any money, and have zero fan base. They don’t make a living off of writing, but rather they are usually trust fund babies, still mooching off their rich parents, or their spouse supports their hobby. They are dilettantes. Unfortunately these people also tend to be the loudest about any given writing topic, and just full of helpful rules to impose on new authors. Ignore them.

The best writing advice ever is from the song Rock Superstar by Cyprus Hill. I kid you not. Listen to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4VpE-0zitU Learn it. Live it. Save your money, man.

An Opinion on Gun Control, repost

Everything I need to say about mass shootings has already been said in this post from December 2012. I wrote it in response to Sandy Hook. It went viral and was read by over a million people. I also did a segment on FOX News about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzyuvl5Ry4g I am reposting it here now because the original link has 2,600 comments, so the page often doesn’t load correctly.

##

I didn’t want to post about this, because frankly, it is exhausting. I’ve been having this exact same argument for my entire adult life. It is not an exaggeration when I say that I know pretty much exactly every single thing an anti-gun person can say. I’ve heard it over and over, the same old tired stuff, trotted out every single time there is a tragedy on the news that can be milked. Yet, I got sucked in, and I’ve spent the last few days arguing with people who either mean well but are uninformed about gun laws and how guns actually work (who I don’t mind at all), or the willfully ignorant (who I do mind), or the obnoxiously stupid who are completely incapable of any critical thinking deeper than a Facebook meme (them, I can’t stand).

Today’s blog post is going to be aimed at the first group. I am going to try to go through everything I’ve heard over the last few days, and try to break it down from my perspective. My goal tonight is to write something that my regular readers will be able to share with their friends who may not be as familiar with how mass shootings or gun control laws work.

A little background for those of you who don’t know me, and this is going to be extensive so feel free to skip the next few paragraphs, but I need to establish the fact that I know what I am talking with, because I am sick and tired of my opinion having the same weight as a person who learned everything they know about guns and violence from watching TV.

I am now a professional novelist. However, before that I owned a gun store. We were a Title 7 SOT, which means we worked with legal machine guns, suppressors, and pretty much everything except for explosives. We did law enforcement sales and worked with equipment that is unavailable from most dealers, but that means lots and lots of government inspections and compliance paperwork. This means that I had to be exceedingly familiar with federal gun laws, and there are a lot of them. I worked with many companies in the gun industry and still have many friends and contacts at various manufacturers. When I hear people tell me the gun industry is unregulated, I have to resist the urge to laugh in their face.

I was also a Utah Concealed Weapons instructor, and was one of the busiest instructors in the state. That required me to learn a lot about self-defense laws, and because I took my job very seriously, I sought out every bit of information that I could. My classes were longer than the standard Utah class, and all of that extra time was spent on Use of Force, shoot/no shoot scenarios, and role playing through violent encounters. I have certified thousands of people to carry guns.

I have been a firearms instructor, and have taught a lot of people how to shoot defensively with handguns, shotguns, and rifles. For a few years of my life, darn near every weekend was spent at the range. I started out as an assistant for some extremely experienced teachers and I also had the opportunity to be trained by some of the most accomplished firearms experts in the world. The man I stole most of my curriculum from was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Special Forces, turned federal agent SWAT team commander. I took classes in everything from wound ballistics (10 hours of looking at autopsy slides) to high-speed cool-guy door-kicking stuff. I’ve worked extensively with military and law enforcement personnel, including force on force training where I played the OpFor (i.e. I got to be the bad guy, because I make an awesome bad guy. You tell me how evil/capable you want me to be, and how hard you want your men to work, and I’d make it happen, plus I can take a beating). Part of this required learning how mass shooters operate and studying the heck out of the actual events.

I have been a competition shooter. I competed in IPSC, IDPA, and 3gun. It was not odd for me to reload and shoot 1,000 rounds in any given week. I fired 20,000 rounds of .45 in one August alone. I’ve got a Remington 870 with approximately 160,000 rounds through it. I’ve won matches, and I’ve been able to compete with some of the top shooters in the country. I am a very capable shooter. I only put this here to convey that I know how shooting works better than the vast majority of the populace.

I have written for national publications on topics relating to gun law and use of force. I wrote for everything from the United States Concealed Carry Association to SWAT magazine. I was considered a subject matter expert at the state level, and on a few occasions was brought in to testify before the Utah State Legislature on the ramifications of proposed gun laws. I’ve argued with lawyers, professors, professional lobbyists, and once made a state rep cry.

Basically for most of my adult life, I have been up to my eyeballs in guns, self-defense instruction, and the laws relating to those things. So believe me when I say that I’ve heard every argument relating to gun control possible. It is pretty rare for me to hear something new, and none of this stuff is new.

    Armed Teachers

So now that there is a new tragedy the president wants to have a “national conversation on guns”. Here’s the thing. Until this national conversation is willing to entertain allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, then it isn’t a conversation at all, it is a lecture.

Now when I say teachers carrying concealed weapons on Facebook I immediately get a bunch of emotional freak out responses. You can’t mandate teachers be armed! Guns in every classroom! Emotional response! Blood in the streets!

No. Hear me out. The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again.

Police are awesome. I love working with cops. However any honest cop will tell you that when seconds count they are only minutes away. After Colombine law enforcement changed their methods in dealing with active shooters. It used to be that you took up a perimeter and waited for overwhelming force before going in. Now usually as soon as you have two officers on scene you go in to confront the shooter (often one in rural areas or if help is going to take another minute, because there are a lot of very sound tactical reasons for using two, mostly because your success/survival rates jump dramatically when you put two guys through a door at once. The shooter’s brain takes a moment to decide between targets). The reason they go fast is because they know that every second counts. The longer the shooter has to operate, the more innocents die.

However, cops can’t be everywhere. There are at best only a couple hundred thousand on duty at any given time patrolling the entire country. Excellent response time is in the three-five minute range. We’ve seen what bad guys can do in three minutes, but sometimes it is far worse. They simply can’t teleport. So in some cases that means the bad guys can have ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes to do horrible things with nobody effectively fighting back.

So if we can’t have cops there, what can we do?

The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started.

The teachers are there already. The school staff is there already. Their reaction time is measured in seconds, not minutes. They can serve as your immediate violent response. Best case scenario, they engage and stop the attacker, or it bursts his fantasy bubble and he commits suicide. Worst case scenario, the armed staff provides a distraction, and while he’s concentrating on killing them, he’s not killing more children.

But teachers aren’t as trained as police officers! True, yet totally irrelevant. The teacher doesn’t need to be a SWAT cop or Navy SEAL. They need to be speed bumps.

But this leads to the inevitable shrieking and straw man arguments about guns in the classroom, and then the pacifistic minded who simply can’t comprehend themselves being mandated to carry a gun, or those that believe teachers are all too incompetent and can’t be trusted. Let me address both at one time.

Don’t make it mandatory. In my experience, the only people who are worth a darn with a gun are the ones who wish to take responsibility and carry a gun. Make it voluntary. It is rather simple. Just make it so that your state’s concealed weapons laws trump the Federal Gun Free School Zones act. All that means is that teachers who voluntarily decide to get a concealed weapons permit are capable of carrying their guns at work. Easy. Simple. Cheap. Available now.

Then they’ll say that this is impossible, and give me all sorts of terrible worst case scenarios about all of the horrors that will happen with a gun in the classroom… No problem, because this has happened before. In fact, my state laws allow for somebody with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun in a school right now. Yes. Utah has armed teachers. We have for several years now.

When I was a CCW instructor, I decided that I wanted more teachers with skin in the game, so I started a program where I would teach anybody who worked at a school for free. No charge. Zip. They still had to pay the state for their background check and fingerprints, but all the instruction was free. I wanted more armed teachers in my state.

I personally taught several hundred teachers. I quickly discovered that pretty much every single school in my state had at least one competent, capable, smart, willing individual. Some schools had more. I had one high school where the principal, three teachers, and a janitor showed up for class. They had just had an event where there had been a threat against the school and their resource officer had turned up AWOL. This had been a wake up call for this principal that they were on their own, and he had taken it upon himself to talk to his teachers to find the willing and capable. Good for them.

After Virginia Tech, I started teaching college students for free as well. They were 21 year old adults who could pass a background check. Why should they have to be defenseless? None of these students ever needed to stop a mass shooting, but I’m happy to say that a couple of rapists and muggers weren’t so lucky, so I consider my time well spent.

Over the course of a couple years I taught well over $20,000 worth of free CCW classes. I met hundreds and hundreds of teachers, students, and staff. All of them were responsible adults who understood that they were stuck in target rich environments filled with defenseless innocents. Whether they liked it or not, they were the first line of defense. It was the least I could do.

Permit holders are not cops. The mistake many people make is that they think permit holders are supposed to be cops or junior danger rangers. Not at all. Their only responsibility is simple. If someone is threatening to cause them or a third person serious bodily harm, and that someone has the ability, opportunity, and is acting in a manner which suggest they are a legitimate threat, then that permit holder is allowed to use lethal force against them.

As of today the state legislatures of Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma are looking at revamping their existing laws so that there can be legal guns in school. For those that are worried these teachers will be unprepared, I’m sure there would be no lack of instructors in those states who’d be willing to teach them for free.

For everyone, if you are sincere in your wish to protect our children, I would suggest you call your state representative today and demand that they allow concealed carry in schools.

    Gun Free Zones

Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people. Period.

Think about it. You are a violent, homicidal madman, looking to make a statement and hoping to go from disaffected loser to most famous person in the world. The best way to accomplish your goals is to kill a whole bunch of people. So where’s the best place to go shoot all these people? Obviously, it is someplace where nobody can shoot back.

In all honesty I have no respect for anybody who believes Gun Free Zones actually work. You are going to commit several hundred felonies, up to and including mass murder, and you are going to refrain because there is a sign? That No Guns Allowed sign is not a cross that wards off vampires. It is wishful thinking, and really pathetic wishful thinking at that.

The only people who obey No Guns signs are people who obey the law. People who obey the law aren’t going on rampages.

I testified before the Utah State Legislature about the University of Utah’s gun ban the day after the Trolley Square shooting in Salt Lake City. Another disaffected loser scumbag started shooting up this mall. He killed several innocent people before he was engaged by an off duty police officer who just happened to be there shopping. The off duty Ogden cop pinned down the shooter until two officers from the SLCPD came up from behind and killed the shooter. (turned out one of them was a customer of mine) I sent one of my employees down to Trolley Square to take a picture of the shopping center’s front doors. I then showed the picture to the legislators. One of the rules was NO GUNS ALLOWED.

The man that attacked the midnight showing of Batman didn’t attack just any theater. There were like ten to choose from. He didn’t attack the closest. It wasn’t about biggest or smallest. He attacked the one that was posted NO GUNS ALLOWED.

There were four mass killing attempts this week. Only one made the news because it helped the agreed upon media narrative.

Oregon. NOT a gun free zone. Shooter confronted by permit holder. Shooter commits suicide. Only a few casualties.
Texas. NOT a gun free zone. Shooter killed immediately by off duty cop. Only a few casualties.
Connecticut. GUN FREE ZONE. Shooters kills until the police arrive. Suicide. 26 dead.
China. GUN FREE COUNTRY. A guy with a KNIFE stabs 22 children.
And here is the nail in the coffin for Gun Free Zones. Over the last fifty years, with only one single exception (Gabby Giffords), every single mass shooting event with more than four casualties has taken place in a place where guns were supposedly not allowed.

    The Media

Every time there is a mass shooting event, the vultures launch. I find it absolutely fascinating. A bunch of people get murdered, and the same usual suspects show up with the same tired proposals that we’ve either tried before or logic tells us simply will not work. They strike while the iron is hot, trying to push through legislation before there can be coherent thought. We’ve seen this over and over and over again. We saw it succeed in England. We saw it succeed in Australia. We’ve seen it succeed here before.

Yet when anyone from my side responds, then we are shouted at that we are blood thirsty and how dare we speak in this moment of tragedy, and we should just shut our stupid mouths out of respect for the dead, while they are free to promote policies which will simply lead to more dead… If the NRA says something they are bloodthirsty monsters, and if they don’t say something then their silence is damning guilt. It is hypocritical in the extreme, and when I speak out against this I am called every name in the book, I want dead children, I’m a cold hearted monster (the death threats are actually hilarious). If I become angry because they are promoting policies which are tactically flawed and which will do the exact opposite of the stated goals, then I am a horrible person for being angry. Perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to own guns at all.

But that’s not why I want to talk about the media. I want to talk about the media’s effect on the shooters.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of these killers. One nice thing about playing the villain and being a punching bag for cops, soldiers, and permit holders is that you need to learn about how the bad guys think and operate. And most of the mass shooters fit a similar profile.

The vast majority (last I saw it was over 80%) are on some form of psychotropic drug and has been for many years. They have been on Zoloft or some serotonin inhibitor through their formative years, and their decision making process is often flawed. They are usually disaffected, have been bullied, pushed around, and have a lot of emotional problems. They are delusional. They see themselves as victims, and they are usually striking back at their peer group.

These people want to make a statement. They want to show the world that they aren’t losers. They want to make us understand their pain. They want to make their peer group realize that they are powerful. They’ll show us. The solution is easy. It’s right there in front of your nose.

If you can kill enough people at one time, you’ll be on the news, 24/7, round the clock coverage. You will become the most famous person in the world. Everyone will know your name. You become a celebrity. Experts will try to understand what you were thinking. Hell, the President of the United States, the most important man in the world, will drop whatever he is doing and hold a press conference to talk about your actions, and he’ll even shed a single manly tear.

You are a star.

Strangely enough, this is one of the only topics I actually agree with Roger Ebert on. He didn’t think that the news should cover the shooters or mention their names on the front page of the paper. So whenever the press isn’t talking about guns, or violent movies, or violent video games, or any other thing that hundreds of millions of people participated in yesterday without murdering anybody, they’ll keep showing the killer’s picture in the background while telling the world all about him and his struggles.

And then the cycle repeats, as the next disaffected angry loner takes notes.

They should not be glamorized. They should be hated, despised, and forgotten. They are not victims. They are not powerful. They are murdering scum, and the only time their names should be remembered is when people like me are studying the tactics of how to neutralize them faster.

    Mental Health Issues

And right here I’m going to show why I’m different than the people I’ve been arguing with the last few days. I am not an expert on mental health issues or psychiatry or psychology. My knowledge of criminal psychology is limited to understanding the methods of killers enough to know how to fight them better.

So since I don’t have enough first-hand knowledge about this topic to comment intelligently, then I’m not going to comment… Oh please, if only some of the people I’ve been arguing with who barely understand that the bullets come out the pointy end of the gun would just do the same.

    Gun Control Laws

As soon as there is a tragedy there comes the calls for “We have to do something!” Sure, the something may not actually accomplish anything as far as solving whatever the tragedy was or preventing the next one, but that’s the narrative. Something evil happened, so we have to do something, and preferably we have to do it right now before we think about it too hard.

The left side of the political spectrum loves it some gun control. Gun control is historically extremely unpopular in red state and purple state America, and thus very hard to pass bit stuff, but there’s a century’s accumulation of lots and lots of small ones. There have been a handful of major federal laws passed in the United States relating to guns, but the majority of really strict gun control has primarily been enacted in liberal dominated urban areas. There are over 20,000 gun laws on the books, and I have no idea how many pages of regulations from the BATF related to the production and selling of them. I’ve found that the average American is extremely uneducated about what gun laws already exist, what they actually do, and even fundamental terminology, so I’m going to go through many of the things I’ve seen argued about over the last few days and elaborate on them one by one.

I will leave out the particularly crazy things I was confronted with, including the guy who was in favor of mandating “automatic robot gun turrets” in schools. Yes. Heaven forbid we let a teacher CCW, so let’s put killer robots (which haven’t actually been invented yet) in schools. Man, I wish I was making this up, but that’s Facebook for you.

    We need to ban automatic weapons.

Okay. Done. In fact, we pretty much did that in 1934. The National Firearms Act of 1934 made it so that you had to pay a $200 tax on a machinegun and register it with the government. In 1986 that registry was closed and there have been no new legal machineguns for civilians to own since then.

Automatic means that when you hold down the trigger the gun keeps on shooting until you let go or run out of ammo. Actual automatic weapons cost a lot of money. The cheapest one you can get right now is around $5,000 as they are all collector’s items and you need to jump through a lot of legal hoops to get one. To the best of my knowledge, there has only ever been one crime committed with an NFA weapon in my lifetime, and in that case the perp was a cop.

Now are machineguns still used in crimes? Why, yes they are. For every legally registered one, there are conservatively dozens of illegal ones in the hands of criminals. They either make their own (which is not hard to do) or they are smuggled in (usually by the same people that are able to smuggle in thousands of tons of drugs). Because really serious criminals simply don’t care, they are able to get ahold of military weapons, and they use them simply because criminals, by definition, don’t obey the law. So even an item which has been basically banned since my grandparents were kids, and which there has been no new ones allowed manufactured since I was in elementary school, still ends up in the hands of criminals who really want one. This will go to show how effective government bans are.

When you say “automatic” you mean full auto, as in a machine gun. What I think most of these people mean is semi-auto.

    Okay. We need to ban semi-automatic weapons!

Semi-automatic means that each time you pull the trigger the action cycles and loads another round. This is the single most common type of gun, not just in America, but in the whole world. Almost all handguns are semi-automatic. The vast majority of weapons used for self-defense are semi-automatic, as are almost all the weapons used by police officers. It is the most common because it is normally the most effective.

Semi-automatic is usually best choice for defensive use. It is easier to use because you can do so one handed if necessary, and you are forced to manipulate your weapon less. If you believe that using a gun for self-defense is necessary, then you pretty much have to say that semi-auto is okay.

Banning semi-automatic basically means banning all guns. I’ll get to the functional problems with that later.

    We should ban handguns!

Handguns are tools for self-defense, and the only reason we use them over the more capable, and easier to hit with rifles or shotguns is because handguns are portable. Rifles are just plain better, but the only reason I don’t carry an AR-15 around is because it would be hard to hide under my shirt.

Concealed Carry works. As much as it offends liberals and we keep hearing horror stories about blood in the streets, the fact is over my lifetime most of the United States has enacted some form of concealed carry law, and the blood in the streets wild west shootouts over parking spaces they’ve predicted simply hasn’t happened. At this point in time there are only a few hold out states, all of them are blue states and all of them have inner cities which suffer from terrible crime, where once again, the criminals simply don’t care.

For information about how more guns actually equals less crime, look up the work of Dr. John Lott. And since liberals hate his guts, look up the less famous work of Dr. Gary Kleck, or basically look up the work of any criminologist or economist who isn’t writing for Slate or Mother Jones.

As for why CCW is good, see my whole first section about arming teachers for a tiny part of the whole picture. Basically bad people are going to be bad and do bad things. They are going to hurt you and take your stuff, because that’s what they do. That’s their career, and they are as good at it as you are at your job. They will do this anywhere they think they can get away with it. We fixate on the mass shooters because they grab the headlines, but in actuality your odds of running in to one of them is tiny. Your odds of having a violent encounter with a run of the mill criminal is orders of magnitudes higher.

I do find one thing highly amusing. In my personal experience, some of the most vehement anti-gun people I’ve ever associated with will usually eventually admit after getting to know me, that if something bad happened, then they really hope I’m around, because I’m one of the good ones. Usually they never realize just how hypocritical and naïve that is.

    We should ban Assault Rifles!

Define “assault rifle”…

Uh…

Yeah. That’s the problem. The term assault rifle gets bandied around a lot. Politically, the term is a loaded nonsense one that was created back during the Clinton years. It was one of those tricks where you name legislation something catchy, like PATRIOT Act. (another law rammed through while emotions were high and nobody was thinking, go figure).

To gun experts, an assault rifle is a very specific type of weapon which originated (for the most part) in the 1940s. It is a magazine fed, select fire (meaning capable of full auto), intermediate cartridge (as in, actually not that powerful, but I’ll come back to that later) infantry weapon.

The thing is, real assault rifles in the US have been heavily regulated since before they were invented. The thing that the media and politicians like to refer to as assault rifles is basically a catch all term for any gun which looks scary.

I had somebody get all mad at me for pointing this out, because they said that the term had entered common usage. Okay… If you’re going to legislate it, DEFINE IT.

And then comes up that pesky problem. The US banned assault rifles once before for a decade and the law did absolutely nothing. I mean, it was totally, literally pointless. The special commission to study it said that it accomplished absolutely nothing. (except tick a bunch of Americans off, and as a result we bought a TON more guns) And the reason was that since assault weapon is a nonsense term, they just came up with a list of arbitrary features which made a gun into an assault weapon.

Problem was, none of these features actually made the gun functionally any different or somehow more lethal or better from any other run of the mill firearm. Most of the criteria were so silly that they became a huge joke to gun owners, except of course, for that part where many law abiding citizens accidentally became instant felons because one of their guns had some cosmetic feature which was now illegal.

One of the criteria was that it was semi-automatic. See above. Hard to ban the single most common and readily available type of gun in the world. (unless you believe in confiscation, but I’ll get to that). Then what if it takes a detachable magazine! That’s got to be an Evil Feature. And yes, we really did call the Evil Features. I’ll talk about magazines below, but once again, it is pretty hard to ban something that common unless you want to go on a confiscatory national suicide mission.

For example, flash hiders sound dangerous. Let’s say having a flash hider makes a gun an assault weapon. So flash hiders became an evil feature. Problem is flash hiders don’t do much. They screw onto the end of your muzzle and divert the flash off to the side instead of straight up so it isn’t as annoying when you shoot. It doesn’t actually hide the flash from anybody else. EVIL.

Barrel shrouds were listed. Barrel shrouds are basically useless, cosmetic pieces of metal that go over the barrel so you don’t accidentally touch it and burn your hand. But they became an instantaneous felony too. Collapsible stocks make it so you can adjust your rifle to different size shooters, that way a tall guy and his short wife can shoot the same gun. Nope. EVIL FEATURE!

It has been a running joke in the gun community ever since the ban passed. When Carolyn McCarthy was asked by a reporter what a barrel shroud was, she replied “I think it is the shoulder thing which goes up.” Oh good. I’m glad that thousands of law abiding Americans unwittingly committed felonies because they had a cosmetic piece of sheet metal on their barrel, which has no bearing whatsoever on crime, but could possibly be a shoulder thing which goes up.

Now are you starting to see why “assault weapons” is a pointless term? They aren’t functionally any more powerful or deadly than any normal gun. In fact the cartridges they normally fire are far less powerful than your average deer hunting rifle. Don’t worry though, because the same people who fling around the term assault weapons also think of scoped deer rifles as “high powered sniper guns”.

Basically, what you are thinking of as assault weapons aren’t special.

Now, the reason that semi-automatic, magazine fed, intermediate caliber rifles are the single most popular type of gun in America is because they are excellent for many uses, but I’m not talking about fun, or hunting, or sports, today I’m talking business. And in this case they are excellent for shooting bad people who are trying to hurt you, in order to make them stop trying to hurt you. These types of guns are superb for defending your home. Now some of you may think that’s extreme. That’s because everything you’ve learned about gun fights comes from TV. Just read the link where I expound on why.

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/carbine-vs-shotgun-vs-pistol-for-home-defense/

I had one individual tell me that these types of guns are designed to slaughter the maximum number of people possible as quickly as possible… Uh huh… Which is why every single police department in America uses them, because of all that slaughtering cops do daily. Cops use them for the same reason we do, they are handy, versatile, and can stop an attacker quickly in a variety of circumstances.

When I said “stop an attacker quickly” somebody on Twitter thought that he’d gotten me and said “Stop. That’s just a euphemism for kill!” Nope. I am perfectly happy if the attacker surrenders or passes out from blood loss too. Tactically and legally, all I care about is making them stop doing whatever it is that they are doing which caused me to shoot them to begin with.

The guns that many of you think of as assault rifle are common and popular because they are excellent for fighting, and I’ll talk about what my side really thinks about the 2nd Amendment below.

    We should ban magazines over X number of shots!

I’ve seen this one pop up a lot. It sounds good to the ear and really satisfies that we’ve got to do something need. It sounds simple. Bad guys shoot a lot of people in a mass shooting. So if he has magazines that hold fewer rounds, ergo then he’ll not be able to shoot as many people.

Wrong. And I’ll break it down, first why my side wants more rounds in our gun, second why tactically it doesn’t really stop the problem, and third, why stopping them is a logistical impossibility.

First off, why do gun owners want magazines that hold more rounds? Because sometimes you miss. Because usually—contrary to the movies—you have to hit an opponent multiple times in order to make them stop. Because sometimes you may have multiple assailants. We don’t have more rounds in the magazine so we can shoot more, we have more rounds in the magazine so we are forced to manipulate our gun less if we have to shoot more.

The last assault weapons ban capped capacities at ten rounds. You quickly realize ten rounds sucks when you take a wound ballistics class like I have and go over case after case after case after case of enraged, drug addled, prison hardened, perpetrators who soaked up five, seven, nine, even fifteen bullets and still walked under their own power to the ambulance. That isn’t uncommon at all. Legally, you can shoot them until they cease to be a threat, and keep in mind that what normally causes a person to stop is loss of blood pressure, so I used to tell my students that anybody worth shooting once was worth shooting five or seven times. You shoot them until they leave you alone.

Also, you’re going to miss. It is going to happen. If you can shoot pretty little groups at the range, those groups are going to expand dramatically under the stress and adrenalin. The more you train, the better you will do, but you can still may miss, or the bad guy may end up hiding behind something which your bullets don’t penetrate. Nobody has ever survived a gunfight and then said afterwards, “Darn, I wish I hadn’t brought all that extra ammo.”

So having more rounds in the gun is a good thing for self-defense use.

Now tactically, let’s say a mass shooter is on a rampage in a school. Unless his brain has turned to mush and he’s a complete idiot, he’s not going to walk up right next to you while he reloads anyway. Unlike the CCW holder who gets attacked and has to defend himself in whatever crappy situation he finds himself in, the mass shooter is the aggressor. He’s picked the engagement range. They are cowards who are murdering running and hiding children, but don’t for a second make the mistake of thinking they are dumb. Many of these scumbags are actually very intelligent. They’re just broken and evil.

In the cases that I’m aware of where the shooter had guns that held fewer rounds they just positioned themselves back a bit while firing or they brought more guns, and simply switched guns and kept on shooting, and then reloaded before they moved to the next planned firing position. Unless you are a fumble fingered idiot, anybody who practices in front of a mirror a few dozen times can get to where they can insert a new magazine into a gun in a few seconds.

A good friend of mine (who happens to be a very reasonable democrat) was very hung up on this, sure that he would be able to take advantage of the time in which it took for the bad guy to reload his gun. That’s a bad assumption, and here’s yet another article that addresses that sort of misconception that I wrote several years ago which has sort of made the rounds on firearm’s forums. http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/threads/45671-My-Gunfight-quot-Thinking-Outside-Your-Box-quot So that’s awesome if it happens, but good luck with that.

Finally, let’s look at the logistical ramifications of another magazine ban. The AWB banned the production of all magazines over ten rounds except those marked for military or law enforcement use, and it was a felony to possess those.

Over the ten years of the ban, we never ran out. Not even close. Magazines are cheap and basic. Most of them are pieces of sheet metal with some wire. That’s it. Magazines are considered disposable so most gun people accumulate a ton of them. All it did was make magazines more expensive, ticked off law abiding citizens, and didn’t so much as inconvenience a single criminal.

Meanwhile, bad guys didn’t run out either. And if they did, like I said, they are cheap and basic, so you just get or make more. If you can cook meth, you can make a functioning magazine. My old company designed a rifle magazine once, and I’m no engineer. I paid a CAD guy, spent $20,000 and churned out several thousand 20 round Saiga .308 mags. This could’ve been done out of my garage.

Ten years. No difference. Meanwhile, we had bad guys turning up all the time committing crimes, and guess what was marked on the mags found in their guns? MILITARY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY. Because once again, if you’re already breaking a bunch of laws, they can only hang you once. Criminals simply don’t care.

Once the AWB timed out, because every politician involved looked at the mess which had been passed in the heat of the moment, the fact it did nothing, and the fact that every single one of them from a red state would lose their job if they voted for a new one, it expired and went away. Immediately every single gun person in America went out and bought a couple guns which had been banned and a bucket of new magazines, because nothing makes an American want to do something more than telling them they can’t. We’ve been stocking up ever since. If the last ban did literally nothing at all over a decade, and since then we’ve purchased another hundred million magazines since then, another ban will do even less. (except just make the law abiding that much angrier, and I’ll get to that below).

I bought $600 worth of magazines for my competition pistol this morning. I’ve already got a shelf full for my rifles. Gun and magazine sales skyrocket every time a democrat politician starts to vulture in on a tragedy. I don’t know if many of you realize this, but Barack Obama is personally responsible for more gun sales, and especially first time gun purchases, than anyone in history. When I owned my gun store, we had a picture of him on the wall and a caption beneath it which said SALESMAN OF THE YEAR.

So you can ban this stuff, but it won’t actually do anything to the crimes you want to stop. Unless you think you can confiscate them all, but I’ll talk about confiscation later.

One last thing to share about the magazine ban from the AWB, and this is something all gun people know, but most anti-gunners do not. When you put an artificial cap on a weapon, and tell us that we can only have a limited number of rounds in that weapon, we’re going to make sure they are the most potent rounds possible. Before the ban, everybody bought 9mms which held an average of 15 rounds. After the ban, if I can only have ten rounds, they’re going to be bigger, so we all started buying 10 shot .45s instead.

    You don’t need an assault weapon for hunting!

Who said anything about hunting? That whole thing about the 2nd Amendment being for sportsmen is hogwash. The 2nd Amendment is about bearing arms to protect yourself from threats, up to and including a tyrannical government.

Spare me the whole, “You won’t be happy until everybody has nuclear weapons” reductio ad absurdum. It says arms, as in things that were man portable. And as for the founding fathers not being able to see foresee our modern arms, you forget that many of them were inventors, and multi shot weapons were already in service. Not to mention that in that day, arms included cannon, since most of the original artillery of the Continental Army was privately owned. Besides, the Supreme Court agrees with me. See DC v. Heller.

    Well we should just ban ALL guns then! You only need them to murder people!

It doesn’t really make sense to ban guns, because in reality what that means is that you are actually banning effective self-defense. Despite the constant hammering by a news media with an agenda, guns are used in America far more to stop crime than to cause crime.

I’ve seen several different sets of numbers about how many times guns are used in self-defense every year. The problem with keeping track of this stat is that the vast majority of the time when a gun is produced in a legal self-defense situation no shots are fired. The mere presence of the gun is enough to cause the criminal to stop.

Clint Smith once said if you look like food, you will be eaten. Criminals are looking for prey. They are looking for easy victims. If they wanted to work hard for a living they’d get a job. So when you pull a gun, you are no longer prey, you are work, so they are going to go find somebody else to pick on.

So many defensive gun uses never get tracked as such. From personal experience, I have pulled a gun exactly one time in my entire life. I was legally justified and the bad guy stopped, put his gun away, and left. (15 years later the same son of a bitch would end up murdering a local sheriff’s deputy). My defensive gun use was never recorded anywhere as far as I know. My wife has pulled a gun twice in her life. Once on somebody who was acting very rapey who suddenly found a better place to be when she stuck a Ruger in his face, and again many years later on a German Shepherd which was attacking my one year old son. (amazingly enough a dog can recognize a 9mm coming out of a fanny pack and run for its life, go figure) No police report at all on the second one, and I don’t believe the first one ever turned up as any sort of defensive use statistic, all because no shots were fired.

So how often are guns actually used in self-defense in America? http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html

On the high side the estimate runs around 2.5 million defensive gun uses a year, which dwarfs our approximately 16,000 homicides in any recent year, only 10k of which are with guns. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm Of those with guns, only a couple hundred are with rifles. So basically, the guns that the anti-gunners are the most spun up about only account for a tiny fraction of all our murders.

But let’s not go with the high estimate. Let’s go with some smaller ones instead. Let’s use the far more conservative 800,000 number which is arrived at in multiple studies. That still dwarfs the number of illegal shootings. Heck, let’s even run with the number once put out by the people who want to ban guns, the Brady Center, which was still around 108,000, which still is an awesome ratio of good vs. bad.

So even if you use the worst number provided by people who are just as biased as me but in the opposite direction, gun use is a huge net positive. Or to put it another way, the Brady Center hates guns so much that they are totally cool with the population of a decent sized city getting raped and murdered every year as collateral damage in order to get what they want.

    Doesn’t matter. I don’t like them. We should ban them and take them all away like a civilized country.

Well, I suppose if your need to do something overrides all reason and logic, then by all means let’s ban guns.

Australia had a mass shooting and instituted a massive gun ban and confiscation (a program which would not work here, which I’ll get to, but let’s run with it anyway.). As was pointed out to me on Facebook, they haven’t had any mass shootings since. However, they fail to realize that they didn’t really have any mass shootings before either. You need to keep in mind that mass shooting are horrific headline grabbing statistical anomalies. You are far more likely to get your head caved in by a local thug while he’s trying to steal your wallet, and that probably won’t even make the evening news.

And violent crime is up in Australia. A cursory Google search will show articles about the increase in violent crime and theft, but then other articles pooh-pooing these stats as being insignificant and totally not related to the guns.

So then we’ve got England, where they reacted swiftly after a mass shooting, banned and confiscated guns, and their violent crime has since skyrocketed. Their stats are far worse than Australia, and they are now one of the more dangerous countries to live in the EU. Once again, cursory Google search will show articles with the stats, and other articles saying that those rises like totally have nothing to do with regular folks no longer being able to defend themselves… Sensing a trend yet?

And then we’ve got South Africa, which instituted some really hard core gun bans and some extremely strict controls, and their crime is now so high that it is basically either no longer tracked or simply not countable. But obviously, the totally unbiased news says that has absolutely nothing to do with people no longer being able to legally defend themselves.

Then you’ve got countries like Norway, with extremely strict gun control. Their gun control laws are simply incomprehensible to half of Americans. Not only that, they are an ethnically and socially homogenous, tiny population, well off country, without our gang violence or drug problems. Their gun control laws are draconian by our standards. They make Chicago look like Boise. Surely that level of gun control will stop school shootings! Except of course for 2011 when a maniac killed 77 and injured 242 people, a body count which is absurdly high compared to anything which has happened America.

Because once again, repeat it with me, criminals simply do not give a crap.

That mass killer used a gun and homemade explosives. Make guns harder to get, and explosives become the weapon of choice. Please do keep in mind that the largest and most advanced military coalition in human history was basically stymied for a decade by a small group using high school level chemistry and the Afghani equivalent to Radio Shack.

The biggest mass killings in US history have used bombs (like Bath, Michigan), fire (like Happyland Nightclub) or airliners. There is no law you can pass, nothing you can say or do, which will make some not be evil.

And all of this is irrelevant, because banning and confiscating all the scary guns in America will be national suicide.

    You crazy gun nuts and your 2nd Amendment. We should just confiscate all the guns.

Many of you may truly believe that. You may think that the 2nd Amendment is archaic, outdated, and totally pointless. However, approximately half of the country disagrees with you, and of them, a pretty large portion is fully willing to shoot somebody in defense of it.

We’ve already seen that your partial bans are stupid and don’t do anything, so unless you are merely a hypocrite more interested in style rather than results, the only way to achieve your goal is to come and take the guns away. So let’s talk about confiscation.

They say that there are 80 million gun owners in America. I personally think that number is low for a few reasons. The majority of gun owners I know, when contacted for a phone survey and asked if they own guns, will become suspicious and simply lie. Those of us who don’t want to end like England or Australia will say that we lost all of our guns in a freak canoe accident.

Guns do not really wear out. I have perfectly functioning guns from WWI, and I’ve got friends who have still useable firearms from the 1800s. Plus we’ve been building more of them this entire time. There are more guns than there are people in America, and some of us have enough to arm our entire neighborhood.

But for the sake of math, let’s say that there are only 80 million gun owners, and let’s say that the government decides to round up all those pesky guns once and for all. Let’s be generous and say that 90% of the gun owners don’t really believe in the 2nd Amendment, and their guns are just for duck hunting. Which is what politicians keep telling us, but is actually rather hilarious when you think about how the most commonly sold guns in America are the same detachable magazine semiautomatic rifles I talked about earlier.

So ten percent refuse to turn their guns in. That is 8 million instantaneous felons. Let’s say that 90% of them are not wanting to comply out of sheer stubbornness. Let’s be super generous and say that 90% of them would still just roll over and turn their guns when pressed or legally threatened. That leaves 800,000 Americans who are not turning their guns in, no matter what. To put that in perspective there are only about 700,000 police officers in the whole country.

Let’s say that these hypothetical 10% of 10% are willing to actually fight to keep their guns. Even if my hypothetical estimate of 800,000 gun nuts willing to fight for their guns is correct, it is still 97% higher than the number of insurgents we faced at any one time in Iraq, a country about the size of Texas.

However, I do honestly believe that it would be much bigger than 10%. Once the confiscations turned violent, then it would push many otherwise peaceful people over the edge. I saw somebody on Twitter post about how the 2nd Amendment is stupid because my stupid assault rifles are useless against drones… That person has obviously never worked with the people who build the drones, fly the drones, and service the drones. I have. Where to you think the majority of the US military falls on the political spectrum exactly? There’s a reason Mitt Romney won the military vote by over 40 points, and it wasn’t because of his hair.

And as for those 700,000 cops, how many of them would side with the gun owners? All the gun nuts, that’s for sure. As much as some people like to complain about the gun culture, many of the people you hire to protect you, and darn near all of them who can shoot well, belong to that gun culture. And as I hear people complain about the gun industry, like it is some nebulous, faceless, all powerful corporate thing which hungers for war and anarchy, I just have to laugh, because the gun industry probably has the highest percentage of former cops and former military of any industry in the country. My being a civilian was odd in the circles I worked in. The men and women you pay to protect you have honor and integrity, and they will fight for what they believe in.

So the real question the anti-gun, ban and confiscate, crowd should be asking themselves is this, how many of your fellow Americans are you willing to have killed in order to bring about your utopian vision of the future?

    Boo Evil Gun Culture!

Really? Because I hate to break it to you, but when nearly six hundred people get murdered a year in beautiful Gun Free Chicago, that’s not my people doing the shooting.

The gun culture is all around you, well obviously except for those of you reading this in elite liberal urban city centers where you’ve extinguished your gun culture. They are your friends, relatives, and coworkers. The biggest reason gun control has become increasingly difficult to pass over the last decade is because more and more people have turned to CCW, and as that has become more common, it has removed much of the stigma. Now everybody outside of elite urban liberal city centers knows somebody that carries a gun. The gun culture is simply regular America, and is made up of people who think their lives and their families lives are more important than the life of anyone who tries to victimize them.

The gun culture is who protects our country. Sure, there are plenty of soldiers and cops who are issued a gun and who use it as part of their job who could care less. However, the people who build the guns, really understand the guns, actually enjoy using the guns, and usually end up being picked to teach everybody else how to use the guns are the gun culture.

The media and the left would absolutely love to end the gun culture in America, because then they could finally pass all the laws they wanted.

Let’s take a look at what happens when a country finally succeeds in utterly stamping out its gun culture. Mumbai, 2008. Ten armed jihadi terrorists simply walked into town and started shooting people. It was a rather direct, straight forward, ham fisted, simple terrorist attack. They killed over 150 and wounded over 300. India has incredibly strict gun laws, but once again, criminals didn’t care.

That’s not my point this time however, I want to look at the response. These ten men shut down an entire massive city and struck fear into the hearts of millions for THREE DAYS. Depending on where this happened in America it would have been over in three minutes or three hours. The Indian police responded, but their tactics sucked. The marksmanship sucked. Their leadership sucked. Their response utterly and completely fell apart.

In talking afterwards with some individuals from a small agency of our government who were involved in the clean-up and investigation, all of whom are well trained, well practiced, gun nuts, they told me the problem was that the Indian police had no clue what to do because they’d never been taught what to do. Their leadership hated and feared the gun so much that they stamped out the ability for any of their men to actually master the tool. When you kill your gun culture, you kill off your instructors, and those who can pass down the information necessary to do the job.

Don’t think that we are so far off here. I recently got to sit down with some fans who are members of one of the larger metro police departments in America. These guys were all SWAT cops or narcotics, all of them were gun nuts who practiced on their own dime, and all of them were intimately familiar with real violence. These are the guys that you want responding when the real bad stuff goes down.

What they told me made me sick. Their leadership was all uniformly liberal and extremely anti-gun, just like most big cities in America. They walked me through what their responses were supposed to be in case of a Mumbai style event, and how their “scary assault weapons” were kept locked up where they would be unavailable, and how dismal their training was, and how since the state had run off or shut down most of the gun ranges, most of the cops couldn’t even practice or qualify anymore.

So now they were less safe, the people they were protecting were less safe, the bad guys were safer, but most importantly their leadership could pat themselves on the back, because they’d done something.

    Well, okay. You make some good points. But I’d be more comfortable if you gun people were force to have more mandatory training!

And I did actually have this one said to me, which is an amazing victory by internet arguing standards.

Mandatory training is a placebo at best. Here is my take on why.

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/mandatory-training-for-ccw/

In conclusion, basically it doesn’t really matter what something you pick when some politician or pundit starts screaming we’ve got to do something, because in reality, most of them already know a lot of what I listed above. The ones who are walking around with their security details of well-armed men in their well-guarded government buildings really don’t care about actually stopping mass shooters or bad guys, they care about giving themselves more power and increasing their control.

If a bad guy used a gun with a big magazine, ban magazines. If instead he used more guns, ban owning multiple guns. If he used a more powerful gun with less shots, ban powerful guns. If he used hollowpoints, ban hollowpoints. (which I didn’t get into, but once again, there’s a reason everybody who might have to shoot somebody uses them). If he ignored some Gun Free Zone, make more places Gun Free Zones. If he killed a bunch of innocents, make sure you disarm the innocents even harder for next time. Just in case, let’s ban other guns that weren’t even involved in any crimes, just because they’re too big, too small, too ugly, too cute, too long, too short, too fat, too thin, (and if you think I’m joking I can point out a law or proposed law for each of those) but most of all ban anything which makes some politician irrationally afraid, which luckily, is pretty much everything.

They will never be happy. In countries where they have already banned guns, now they are banning knives and putting cameras on every street. They talk about compromise, but it is never a compromise. It is never, wow, you offer a quick, easy, inexpensive, viable solution to ending mass shootings in schools, let’s try that. It is always, what can we take from you this time, or what will enable us to grow some federal apparatus?

Then regular criminals will go on still not caring, the next mass shooter will watch the last mass shooter be the most famous person in the world on TV, the media will keep on vilifying the people who actually do the most to defend the innocent, the ignorant will call people like me names and tell us we must like dead babies, and nothing actually changes to protect our kids.

If you are serious about actually stopping school shootings, contact your state representative and tell them to look into allowing someone at your kid’s school to be armed. It is time to install some speed bumps.

My novel Into the Storm, now available in paperback

This was originally eBook only, but it is now available in dead tree format.

IntoTheStorm_Fullsize_1a

Though this is probably my least well known book because it is tied in with the Warmachine universe, it is really fun, and I’m rather proud of it. You don’t need to be familiar with the game to enjoy the book though. I very specifically set out to write it so that it would serve as a good intro to the world and not confuse newcomers.

Plot wise? Think Dirty Dozen of reject knights wielding mad science lightning swords and their homicidal steam powered fighting robot invading a city of religious fanatics. :)