Where Should You Wear Your Gun?

By Kellene Bishop

The other day I was on my way up to Salt Lake City to work a “self-reliance conference.”  My car has the entire back window taken up by a vinyl sign for Women of Caliber, mentioning the firearm and physical self-defense classes I offer. Being in a bit of a hurry, I zipped through a school zone without paying attention to my speedometer. After getting midway through the school zone, I slowed down, but if there was a police car watching for me or other speeders I most likely would have been pulled over for speeding.

Instinctively when I recognize Continue reading

The Death of Expected Peace

I simply cannot allow the news of the three security guards standing by while a 15 year old girl got pummeled go by without comment. http://rawstory.com/2010/02/security-guards-inothingi-15yearold-girl-beaten/ In spite of a very heavy writing schedule, I feel that I have to address this issue on Women of Caliber in order to translate it into a valuable lesson from which we all can—and MUST—learn.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the story, a 15 year old girl was brutally attacked by another teenage girl all while she was in front of three male “security” officers in a Seattle bus tunnel.  The security officers did absolutely nothing in spite of the 15 year old being thrown down to the ground at the feet of the officers and repeatedly kicked in the head. (see the video footage at the link noted above) This story has a very familiar tune to the event in New York in which MTA employees in Queens New York were legally absolved of any wrong doing for acting as nothing more than spectators while a woman was repeatedly raped at the train station. http://www.nypost.com/seven/04012009/news/regionalnews/subway_rapist_victims_shock_162317.htm  

Both of these incidences as well as others like them should teach us all something very real, but most unpleasant—we must take responsibility for our own safety and peace.

Mass evacuation photo c/o http://www.meted.ucar.edu

Given the litigious society in which we live, many otherwise acceptable and expected human responses are delayed or eliminated as the result of legal exposure.  For example, New Orleans Mayor Nagin specifically delayed issuing a mass evacuation order sooner than he did because he had to consult with the city attorneys, and then the state, and then a national attorney to be sure that his butt . He had to be sure that the city would not be exposed to lawsuits for a loss of business revenue as a result of the evacuation order. As reported by the author Amanda Ripley in her book “The Unthinkable” companies have deliberately not held safety drills (such as evacuation, robbery, etc) because they don’t want to be held liable for someone getting hurt in the midst of the exercise.  It’s a very sad world indeed in which our brains are programmed to act as a responsible human being because instead we feed our minds the horrors of legal liabilities. But the fact of the matter is, that’s the way things are and we simply cannot change them fast enough to protect us today, tomorrow, or even a year from now. So we must take responsibility for our own safety. 

I don’t say that with any bitterness.  I say it in possession of expertise on the legal, realistic, logistical, as well as instinctive responses of human beings. I don’t say this with one iota of pessimism towards human nature. Even if half of all the world thought so inappropriately as those who put the security guards under such an asinine contract, or those three men who were “sheep” enough to follow such guidelines, I still believe in the unadulterated makeup of mankind.  I believe that they are inherently good and have to work hard at being changed into something otherwise. But unfortunately, there are many who have chosen to do so.  Thus I will prepare to defend myself appropriately and so should you. We must take responsibility to care for ourselves and those we love.  We must train our minds to respond with 100% ownership of our safety rather than telling ourselves that someone else is responsible for our peace and comfort. I implore you not to train your body or mind under conditions of panic, rage, or fear. Rather do so with a deliberate conscience in light of the matter of fact reality of the world around us. People have the agency to act inappropriately, and along with that comes our ability and choice to defend against the consequences of their criminal choices. Just because a business entity has successfully been sued for serving hot coffee, not clearing ice or snow from a walkway, or for not properly ensuring the safety of food—doesn’t give us license to surrender our own independence in providing ourselves with safety and peace.

Being prepared mentally and physically in self-defense trainging will be a great asset in any situation photo c/o http://www.sportskarate.net

So that being said, what else could the 15 year old girl have done other than standing next to the three security guards?  Well, by looks of the video, she certainly needed to learn to fight back better.  She didn’t get a good shot in at all and barely made contact.  She could have done so much more while she was on the ground too.  But all of that is pretty hard to teach in a written format such as this.  However, at the very least, she could have  pushed one of the security officers towards her attacker or hid directly behind one of them.  I strongly suspect this would have caused the female attacker to have lashed out at the security guard in response or at least it would have changed her thought process due to an unexpected maneuver. (Interrupting the thought process of an attacker is a highly underrated strategy.) Another suggestion would have been for the girl to have firmly yelled for help repeatedly. Whether a person is under orders to do more than make a phone call or not, the brain of most human beings (human being—the key phrase there) will instinctively respond. We’re simply programmed that way and we have to undergo a great deal of UN-programming to react otherwise. (Which makes the whole incident that much more tragic.) As I view this video tape repeatedly, I see a scared little girl and an enraged attacker.  The gal had the presence of mind to stand near the “security” officers. She also had the presence of mind earlier to ask one of the Macy’s security officers to escort her to a safer location. (which was refused-insert angry words of disbelief here) So she had some of her wits about her. However, I’m sure that when her sound strategy of standing next to the security officers crumbled, her brain couldn’t compute a ready response. Had she trained herself previously to breathe sufficiently to provide her brain with the much needed oxygen in a high stress situation, and be deliberate and strategic in her physical counter moves, the situation would have turned out very, very differently.

Seriously ladies. Can we all live and LEARN from this one?

 Copyright Protected 2010, Women of Caliber and Kellene Bishop. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.

Safety in Your Car

By Kellene Bishop
Car jacking photo c/o freedomsphoenix.com

Car jacking photo c/o freedomsphoenix.com

As a nation overall, we don’t walk much. Sure we walk to and from our cars, but usually we’re in the vehicles when we’re going somewhere. As a result, the poor criminals who would normally hold you up in the back alley are starving. So they’ve taken to the brazen act of holding people up in their cars, car jacking, and “bumping” cars in order to get someone out of their car for a more vulnerable attack. Some have even gone so far as to obtain red and blue flashing lights and make you think you’re being pulled over by law enforcement. As such, I feel it’s appropriate to give you some good advice to strengthen your safety in your car.

  • Safety in Your Car Rule #1: Always keep sufficient room between you and the car in front of you when you’re stopped at a light or a stop sign. This way, if you have trouble come up to your window, you have an escape route. We are in such a habit of getting right on someone’s tail at a stop light. This simply boxes us in with extreme vulnerability in the event of an attempted hijack or robbery while you’re in your car.
  • 9mm and 40 caliber bulletholes through a car door. Photo c/o gunfreezone.net/

    9mm and 40 caliber bulletholes through a car door. Photo c/o gunfreezone.net/

    Safety in Your Car Rule #2: Have the firearm handy. Having your firearm in your purse or glove box is not going to do you a lick of good in defending yourself against a would-be robber at your car door. The best place is on your body on your front or side. Others have been successful putting it in a Velcro type holder right behind their steering wheel or attached to the front of their seat as well.  If you’re going to have the tools to protect yourself, you might as well have the access to these tools. Also, don’t be afraid to shoot through the door so long as you’re shooting a 9mm or higher caliber. If you need to shoot you don’t need to roll down the window. That would be a precious waste of time. May I suggest however, that you try to go to a junk yard where there are cars and get permission to shoot a firearm from the drivers seat in the car? The sound and experience is a bit more rattling that what you experience at the range, so it’s good to at least have experienced it on some level. (By all means, use your hearing protection. It will still give you an idea of what to expect should you need to shoot from within your car.)

  • Safety in Your Car Rule #3: When you park your car, be aware of potential escape routes. I like to park my car where a simple jump on the pedal will take me to safety. If I’m parked facing the building I’m shopping at, that’s not possible. If you must park near the building, do so with the back of your car facing it, not your front.
  • Safety in Your Car Rule #4: If you insist on storing your firearm in your purse, then when you are asked for your wallet, reach into your purse calm and coolly and then grip your firearm. Shoot it from within your purse aimed at your friendly neighborhood robber. Play it dumb. Play it vulnerable. Play it freaked out. But be conscious of what your purpose is—to get out alive and to not be taken to another location. Shooting from within your purse is easier when you have a revolver, but if you have a semi-auto, you will be able to get off at least one round. So make it count. This means that you may need to rethink WHERE you are stowing your firearm in your purse. If it’s in the little outside zipper that you have to dig into in order to retrieve your firearm, then it’s in the WRONG spot. Shoot, then get the heck out of there.
  • Photo c/o ehow.com
    Photo c/o ehow.com

    Safety in Your Car Rule #5: When you’re pulled over, even by law enforcement, you have the right to feel and be safe. If you have any alarms going off in your head/gut, then you should NOT get out of the car, NOT roll down the window and NOT engage in a conversation until you have verified with a law enforcement source (via your telephone) that this person pulling you over is the real deal. Call 9-1-1 and verify that this person is who they say they are. Once you’ve dialed, tuck the phone under your chin and keep your hands visible on the wheel while you speak to the person on the phone, in order to show the officer that you are complying, you’re just being safe. Even while you’re dialing, keep the car in drive, and your foot on the brake, just in case this person is not who they are pretending to be. Just so you know, it’s HIGHLY unusual for a plain-clothes law enforcement officer to pull you over. You should always at least have the benefit of seeing a uniform. Just because you’re getting pulled over, doesn’t mean you should let down your guard.

  • Safety in Your Car Rule #6: In the event that you think you are being followed, take 3 right hand turns. Ideally you will want to take 4 right hand turns so that you’re back in the original direction you were going. But if a car follows you after 3 right hand turns, you have undoubtedly confirmed that you are being followed and you should call the police or drive to the nearest police station. There have actually been quite a few instances in which driving to a local police station have saved someone’s life.
  • Safety in Your Car Rule #7: Get in the habit of looking at your tires and your back seat each time you get into your car. You want to check for damage to your tires that may have been instigated in order to waylay you as perfect prey for a criminal and you want to make sure that you don’t have any hitchhikers in your vehicle. If you do see a tire problem or notice someone hiding in your car, go back to the safety of the building that you came out of and call the police or the towing company. Do I really need to tell you to always park in well-lit places too?

Hopefully these 7 points will get you thinking how you can be safer when traveling and using your car. I also hope that you may start looking around you in more circumstances and determine what you back-up self-defense plan is—just in case.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

Right-to-Carry Laws and the Thune-Vitter Amendment

Right to Carry vs. Gun Control photo c/o freerepublic.com

Right to Carry vs. Gun Control photo c/o freerepublic.com

From an excellent blog by Scott J. Bach, blogger for www.blog.nj.com on the Right-to-Carry, published July 21, 2009. 

In an era where vicious criminal predators prey upon the weak and vulnerable, the U.S. Supreme Court has surprisingly held that police owe no duty to protect individual citizens and cannot be held accountable when they fail to do so. This means that from the time you dial 911 until the police arrive, you’re on your own. Right-to-Carry helps level the playing field in the gravest extreme, and offers victims a fighting chance while they wait for help to arrive.

Approximately 40 states comprehend this simple truth and recognize the Right-to-Carry. Wherever Right-to-Carry laws have passed, there has been a corresponding and sustained drop in violent crime rates, for one simple reason: criminals go somewhere else when they think their victims may be armed. When the predators can’t tell the difference between the lions and the sheep, the whole flock is safer. Right-to-Carry thus benefits not only the law-abiding citizens who exercise their Constitutional rights, but also those around them who don’t.

Think about it: every mass killing in recent memory has had one thing in common: the victims were unarmed and unable to defend themselves against violent and brutal surprise attacks by predators. Right-to-Carry helps even out the odds, and criminals know it. A study for the Department of Justice found that 40 percent of felons had not committed crimes because they feared the prospective victims were armed.

The Thune-Vitter Amendment expands Right-to-Carry and will enhance public safety, contrary to Governor Corzine’s ill-advised view. It recognizes that competent, responsible, law-abiding Americans still deserve our trust and confidence when they cross state lines.

New Jersey’s policies on gun rights are as backwards as its policies on taxes. It’s time for elected officials who swore to uphold the Constitution to stop trampling on our protected gun rights.

For the whole article from blog.nj.com, click here.

ASKing for the Ridiculous

By Kellene Bishop

ASK Campaign

ASK Campaign

In yet another ridiculous move by the anti-self-defense camp, a national “ASK” day was established about ten years ago.  Its purpose was to remind parents to be proactive about protecting their children from firearm accidents simply by asking their friends and neighbors about the use of guns in their respective homes.  Its intent was to remind parents to inquire of friends and neighbors that their children are associating with whether or not they have firearms in the home and whether or not they are stored “properly.”

Here’s the huge problem with this campaign.  It’s putting the majority of the safety of your child in the hands of someone else.  Just because you ask if there is a firearm and the answer is “no” doesn’t mean that will remain the case perpetually.  Another adult could enter the home with a firearm.  Another child could bring a firearm to the home as well.  Are you planning on asking your neighbor this series of questions every time your child goes to visit, or even on a monthly basis?  Are you prepared to track down and research every other child that may also come to visit the same home?  How does this line of questioning completely protect your child from a firearm accident?

Photo c/o iacop.org

Photo c/o iacop.org

What if a mother was sending her child over to a policeman’s house?  Would it be acceptable that a law enforcement officer have a gun in the home?  If not, then are you teaching your child that police officers are bad or that they should be avoided?  The same goes for a concealed carry permit holder.  Several of the books I’ve read by Ayoob and Lott Jr. over the last year point out that fewer accidents occur among concealed carry permit holders than do police officers.  (just a little sampling: http://www.ktvu.com/news/5441146/detail.html)  In fact, a police officer’s gun is used against them in significantly more incidences than a private owner’s firearm.  What does your questioning do to protect your child in these circumstances? 

Additionally, you are relying on your questions being answered truthfully.  Don’t you think there might be some hesitation on the part of your neighbor when you ask someone if they have a firearm in their home?  Do they want to publish its existence to the world?  I know I don’t go around telling people what kinds of firearms and how many I own, under any circumstances.  Frankly, if you don’t know someone well enough to know about their stance on firearms and firearm safety, your child shouldn’t be spending time over there anyway, in my opinion.

Photo c/o blogs.chron.com

Photo c/o blogs.chron.com

Ultimately, the only way to truly protect your children from a firearm accident is to educate them continually—not talk to them a little bit.  Every gun scene you see on television or in a movie is cause for education.  Every time you say “no” to particular video game, it’s an occasion to educate.  Ultimately your child’s education is their prime defense against any firearm accidents.  Properly educating your children on safety around firearms is not a one-time conversation.  It must be a consistent and congruent process of education.  Oh, and by the way.  Questioning your friends and neighbors about their beliefs in gun possession is no more effective in promoting the safety of your children than trying to do crowd control at a “Day After Thanksgiving Sale” at Wal-Mart.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

The Protection Order—A False Sense of Security

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o gafamilylawblog.com

Photo c/o gafamilylawblog.com

Too many times there have been instances in which a person’s life was lost or forever physically altered because they mistakenly thought they were safe by virtue of a Protection Order.  This is a façade.  A fallacy.  A state of dreaming.  In spite of the name of a Protection Order, the only time protection is actually ordered is in the courtroom when the judge utters such words.  It has very little efficacy otherwise.  Just as contracts are only as good as those who sign them, laws are only as effective as those who enforce it.  Whether it’s a matter of priority, culture, or manpower, rarely are Protection Orders enforced with any kind of a police presence or support. 

It’s unfortunate that such a legal process has consistently proven to be ineffective in protecting the life of its intended person.  Stalking, harassment, violent threats, even child kidnapping have all been cause for women to request a Protection Orders.  But very few times do they come with any semblance of enforcement by local “law enforcement” authorities.  I don’t mean to sound too terribly bitter in writing this, but it infuriates me when I see—literally—10 times the number of persons being pulled over for speeding in the last several months, all the while knowing that some woman is living her life with a false sense of security from a Protection Order that will not be enforced by law enforcement.  Too often such protective orders are recognized when it was far too late. The point of this piece is not to trash on law enforcement or the court systems.  It’s to make you realize that a protection order will NOT physically protect you and truly gives a false sense of security.  Chances are a Protection Order will only legally protect you (which becomes very important, but much later than you may anticipate).  The Supreme Court has already passed down a ruling clearly stating that police officers don’t even have the obligation to protect you even when they are witnessing a crime, let alone when you call them up in fear for your life because you just got a threatening phone call.  

firearmSo what can you do when Mr. Crazy Man is unfazed by a piece of paper that says he’s not to be anywhere near his object of violent obsession?  I recommend that we not fool ourselves into believing that this Protection Order will physically protect us.  While it’s an excellent legal strategy to have a protective order in place, and it will make an impact on a small percentage of offenders, it certainly is not the same as having Bruno, the bodyguard, follow you around.  Instead, I would recommend that you are regularly accompanied by Mr. Smith & Wesson, or his cousin, Mr. Glock.  While a Protection Order does give you a thin veil of safety, it’s important that you mentally prepare to defend yourself in spite of a protective order.  As you’ve no doubt heard me say time and time again, get a firearm, get a permit (so that you can use the firearm regardless of where you are—with a few exceptions) and get some quality training with that firearm.  It’s the ONLY equalizer that can stand between you and the enemy… and make no mistake about it, if a man is harassing you, stalking you, or threatening you, he’s NOT your husband, boyfriend, acquaintance, the father of your children, the former love of your life.  He IS indeed your enemy and you have every right to protect yourself from such.

For another example of a protective order gone bad, click here.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

Self-Defense Amidst a National Crisis

By Kellene Bishop

national-crisis-alas-babylonI recently finished reading two GREAT books, back to back, that are fictional scenarios about an EMP (electro magnetic pulse) attack on the U.S. Both books are very well written, extremely realistic, and I had a hard time putting them down. The first one (still my all time favorite) was “Alas, Babylon” by Pat Frank. The second one, as recommended by many readers on this site was “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. (Warning, occasional language in this book qualifies it as “rated PG-13”.) Both authors are actually so expert in their fields of knowledge on the matters which they write, that I feel the books are more a prediction of things to come, rather than a work of fiction. Out of all of the possible scenarios of a man-made national crisis, the most likely to occur against the U.S. is actually an EMP attack. However, what disturbed me so greatly while reading this books is that the majority of the pain and suffering in either of the books could have been substantially negated with the addition of a very legitimate reality in my world—personal preparedness. So, what does this have to do with you and the use of a firearm? Well, here’s a question for you. Are you prepared to implement self-defense amidst a national crisis?

Unfortunately our nation is actually ripe for a myriad of different crisis situations, not the least realistic of which is an EMP attack. But there could also be a critical financial collapse, a pandemic breakout (we’ve had two more deaths of swine flu in our state today), an earthquake, a nuclear attack, and so on. While I’m associated with many friends who take such threats seriously by storing several months worth of food, water and medical supplies, I find that the majority of them are actually lacking in one critical component of personal preparedness—self-defense.

Photo c/o criminology.fsu.edu

Photo c/o criminology.fsu.edu

The reality is that we are a nation of overly medicated, out of shape, pampered, spoiled and indulgent citizens. If our normal society of luxurious conveniences, jobs, beautiful sunshiny days, and an abundance of food can still foster crazed rapists, gang murderers, and flocks of druggies, what will a genuine crisis do to compound that problem? So many of us still have the notion that the military or the police department will protect us in the event of a national crisis. *insert “wrong answer” buzzer sound here* What if there is a total breakdown of society as we know it? Will there be drug-crazed marauders about? Yup. Will perfectly sane individuals turn into a Dr. Jekyll because they haven’t suitably planned for a national crisis? Definitely. Come on. If the day after Thanksgiving shopping specials can bring out the worst in people, imagine what a real disaster will do. Criminal violence and looting takes place because of Ohio State University wins or loses a football game. The emotional impact alone in such an instance is sufficient to change the predictable structure of society as you presently know it. How will the generation of the “entitlement mentality” change when food, water, and even a simple aspirin is difficult to obtain? With our reliance on technology, our society has become reliant on a one to three day food and medical delivery system. If such a delivery system is delayed whatsoever you will experience a complete breakdown of “peace” as you know it—guaranteed.

To make matters worse, any such disaster would have a cheaply paid accomplice. Mother Nature and the ugly side of human nature is the ally of any enemy to the U.S. and will successfully work in concert during a national crisis. Yup. This is a whole ‘nother component of self-dense—the mental and physical preparedness to implement self-defense in the midst of a national crisis.

Austin police officer Desireé Small Photo c/o aim4le.com

Austin police officer Desireé Small Photo c/o aim4le.com

Bottom line, having food, water, as well as some medical and financial reserves will be useless if you don’t have the means to defend possession of such items in an emergency. My mom once taught me to have one “bullet” on hand for every pound of wheat to ensure I actually get to use the wheat when my family needs it. Even more realistic, if there is an emergency situation, the likelihood of the police, military, and medical resources will be called out to assist elsewhere is highly likely. What will we women be left with to defend ourselves? Even though I’m married to my own “Rambo” character, I know that he’ll most likely be out helping and checking on neighbors in such a situation, and I would want him to out of my own concern for them. But that leaves me with a great deal of responsibility to protect my own “castle” and preparedness supplies. As women, mothers and caregivers, we MUST be able to rely on ourselves to protect our children and our homes in ANY situation, including a national crisis. Such preparation requires mental preparation as well as physical preparation. Although it may seem like a deep dark place you don’t want to allow yourselves to go mentally, doing so is no worse than immersing yourself in a good book or movie-except in this case, it’s a heck of a lot more important.

Guns, ammo, mental strength, skills and determination to survive and thrive. I’m prepared. Are you?

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved. You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

Yes, You Can Defend Yourself with a Firearm

By Kellene Bishop

As a Utah Concealed Firearms Permit Instructor, it’s no wonder that I am asked frequently “when is it exactly permissible to defend yourself with a firearm?”  Many believe that the circumstances of defending yourself are actually rare. Personally, I don’t believe that 2.5 million crimes being stopped every year with a firearm constitutes a “rare” circumstance, but I will address this issue as clearly as I can.  Bottom line is, under the correct circumstances, the answer is YES, you can defend yourself with a firearm, legally, lawfully, and morally. 

woman defending herself

I will attempt to answer this question bluntly in this article, however, keep in mind that state laws vary, so please check with your state.  I’ll do my best to speak in more universal terms as assured by the Constitution of the United States.

  1. You have the right to defend yourself if you feel your life is in jeopardy or you are under threat of serious bodily injury.  Based on my most recent research, this standard is applicable in every state in the U.S.  This does not mean that you have to wait until you’ve been punched, shot at, told that you’re going to be killed, or any other such aspect.  If you are in the midst of a threatening encounter in which either of these two qualifiers are present, you have the right to permanently stop your attacker.  The foundation is that you must feel an imminent danger upon your life or the threat of serious bodily injury.  If you’ve received a death threat, no, you cannot be proactive and put the antagonist out of his misery.  Defending yourself must be “reactive” in such an instance.  However, with the truth of the situation, law enforcement will typically see such as “self-defense”.
  2. The next issue is not cut and dry in all states in the U.S., although it is generally acceptable.  You are permitted to defend the life of someone else who is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.  That’s right.  If you come across someone who is being threatened at knife point, you are permitted to take action with your firearm to defend such a situation.  Although I would strongly advise you to be 100% certain of your environment prior to doing so
  3. I haven’t found a state yet that prohibits this (although there are plenty of shameful countries which do), but in the U.S. you are permitted to defend your habitation—plain and simple.  If someone forcibly or with deception enters your home uninvited, you have the right to encourage them to leave the premises immediately, even by permanently stopping them. 
  4. Lastly, the U.S. Constitution entitles Americans to defend their property.  While this does not mean that you can kill someone over something as temporary as piece of property, you are permitted in most states to attempt to stop a felony robbery from taking place.  (Even outside your home.)  With proper concealed permits, you are allowed to approach a felon in a fully armed state.  If your attempts to stop the felon were to escalate to the point in which your life or body was threatened, then you could legally use a firearm to stop such danger

In all such instances, defending yourself must be a reactive result, never a proactive one.  The only offensive actions you can take part in is to be competent and proficient with your firearm, have it handy, and have it ready to go in an emergency.  This is how you become truly prepared.  Unexpected events need not be tragic ones, if you’ve properly rehearsed your response. 

Ultimately, your right to protect yourself is inherent in the U.S. Constitution; however, it also behooves you to become very familiar with the laws in your area in order that you might fully be protected.

Note that the author of this article is NOT an attorney, nor does she play one on T.V.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

The Caliber Wars for Women

By Kellene Bishop

Caliber Wars: .45 Caliber Photo c/o wikimedia.org

Caliber Wars: .45 Caliber Photo c/o wikimedia.org

In a recent article I wrote, quite a few opinions were given about the appropriate caliber for self-defense.  There are many macho opinions dished out on the caliber wars.  But as a woman and a professional instructor I am constantly waging war on the misinformation dispensed to women on this matter.

Ironically, in spite of this site being primarily for the benefit of women, we have a LOT of male readers.  I don’t intend to offend any of these male readers when I say that the majority of the bad advice on “appropriate calibers” is given by men to women, and in my opinion, it’s a BIG reason why more women don’t embrace the ownership and use of a firearm.  The good news is that I’m certain that when men dispense this misinformation they certainly aren’t doing so for a diabolical reason.  I’ve talked to too many of these well-intentioned men over the years on “caliber wars” and have realized that ultimately they have a genuine interest in the safety of the women who are about to embark on gun ownership.  Regardless of their good intentions though, this unfortunate myth is still dispensed regularly.  And it goes as follows:

“Be sure that you have a caliber with a “4” in it.”

“Don’t rely on a 9 mm. It won’t save your life.”

“Anything less than a .40 caliber is useless.”

“Practice with a .22 or a .9, but be sure to carry a .40 or better.”

There are many versions of this advice freely dished out on thousands of blogs and in classrooms all over the U.S., but they are WRONG, pure and simple, for several reasons.

Lt. Yamile Jana Shoots a 9mm. Photo c/o northshorejournal.org

Lt. Yamile Jana Shoots a 9mm. Photo c/o northshorejournal.org

First, let’s understand where they myth comes from.  Many women opt to begin with a 9 mm handgun primarily due to the grip and recoil of the firearm.  A 9 mm typically has much less of a kick than a higher caliber.  But women often hear from their well-meaning, gun-toting friends that a 9 mm is useless.  This myth is perpetuated because of a handful of well-publicized instances in which a criminal was NOT stopped promptly in spite of being shot several times with a 9 mm.  Yes, it’s true that a drug-crazed individual is not easily fazed by a 9 mm shot.  But it’s not the caliber that is at fault.  It’s the PLACEMENT of the bullet. 

Don’t tell me that 9 mm is useless.  A 9 mm to the forearm may be useless whether or not the perpetrator is on drugs or embroiled in rage.  But a 9 mm to the center of the head or heart will stop a tyrant regardless of the quality of the drugs he/she is on.  The myth insinuates that a .40 or .45 caliber does not require accurate placement.  Clearly even if I manage to hit an attacker with a .50 caliber round on their pinky finger, it’s going to do very little to bring the confrontation to a halt, right?  You simply can’t count on the caliber to bring you safety.  You must rely solely on your target skills.

Grip, recoil, and competency all come into play when honing your target skills.  A chosen caliber should merely be the result of these aspects, not the determining factor of them.

Additionally, consider the capacity aspect of a firearm.  With a smaller caliber firearm I typically have more opportunities to hit my target directly than I do with higher caliber. 

This is not to say that women are “sissies.”  If a 9 mm were truly a “sissy gun,” then our nation’s law enforcement agencies would be run primarily by cowards.  Plenty of my students, male and female have opted for 9 mm, while others have chosen .40 or .45 caliber.  It’s not a self-defense issue.  It’s a personal preference issue.  But in most instances, my female students never would have started shooting if a .40 or .45 had been their only option.  If you’ve got too much kick in a firearm, you lose your skill.  If there’s too much required grip, you lose your effectiveness as well.  This is exactly why I’ve recommended the grip as the number one concern in selecting a firearm in previous articles.  The less a woman has to recover from the kick-back in her firearm, the more shots she can take.  Even a .22 caliber is better than a woman having NOTHING to defend herself.  And that is the primary goal of this site—to train and educate women how to appropriately defend themselves with a firearm.

Here are a couple of facts to be considered:

  • Professional (and military) assassins have long elected to use a .22 caliber rifle or handgun.
  • Law enforcement agencies all over the U.S. use a 9 mm as a standard issue. 
  • There have actually been several instances in law enforcement where even .40 and .45 calibers were ineffective in stopping a criminal—not because of the caliber, but because of the ineffective placement of the round. 
Woman Practicing At the Range. Photo c/o midwestdefense.com

Woman Practicing At the Range. Photo c/o midwestdefense.com

The reason why I fiercely advocate this point is because many women hesitate to shoot a .40 caliber.  They are much more successful in their shot placement when shooting a smaller caliber.  Thus it’s shameful to have a woman stopped or frustrated in her pursuit of gun ownership because some macho, misinformed man tells her that a strong caliber (that knocks her on her butt when she shoots it) is useless.  One thing that men simply don’t realize is that women are physiologically more sensitive to the loud bass sound of the bullet igniting than men are.  Women are literally more affected by the sound of a .40 caliber+ than men are.  The sound resonates through them longer than it does in men.  As such, the sound literally rattles a woman.  Thus high caliber firearms are uncomfortable for them to shoot initially.  Do you really think someone is going to practice with a firearm that they are not comfortable with or that frightens them?  No.  So if they do listen to their .40 caliber friends, all they end up doing is A) not moving forward with gun ownership, or B) acquiring a .40 caliber+ firearm and just putting it away, allowing themselves to be lured with a false sense of security.  Is that really in the best interest of a person who is considering taking on the responsibility of firearm self-defense? 

Finally, on dispelling these common myths, practicing with a firearm other than the one you intend to use qualifies as “dumb squared.”  Practice with what you are going to use for self-defense.  Period.  An element of surprise can only be suitably conquered by mental and physical practice to combat such an element.  The last thing you need when suddenly confronted with an attack, robbery, nighttime break-in, or worse, is a millisecond of doubt that occurs, causing you to question whether or not you will be able to use your firearm since it’s not the one you’ve been practicing with.  

Here’s one final thought on this topic.  Five years ago my own mother took her life with a teeny tiny little .22 Derringer.  So many men would have me believe that such a firearm is useless for anything other than rabbit hunting.  Mom’s death had nothing to do with the caliber.  It was all about the placement, folks.  So, well-meaning gun owners, PLEASE stop spreading the myth that a 9 mm is useless.  Let’s identify the real culprit.  A poorly practiced shooter is what’s really useless to provide self-defense.  Let the caliber wars cease.  

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

The Mostly Silent Destroyer

By Kellene Bishop





Most humans feel such troubling emotions at some point—however brief or extended—in life.  We struggle to fight against their powerful grasp.  In desperation we look to others for comfort and love and support, and when achieved, we eventually move forward stronger than before.  But what if those people we trust to pull us out of the misery are those who darken and destroy—the very manufacturers of our fear? 

This is the reality for more than 200,000 American women every year. 

Rape is a disgusting and horrifying crime, and to most women, their greatest nightmare.  The very thought of the word repulses most.  According to FBI records, more than 90,000 attacks are reported every year in the U.S.  That number, though high and unfortunate, pales in comparison to what’s really happening.  The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that more than 300,000 women are forced to survive a rape each year.  But according to other studies, less than one in three women reports their real-life nightmare to police or other authorities.  Additionally, it’s important to understand that the numbers which the FBI reports are conveyed to them by police stations all over the U.S.  Unfortunately countless police stations are found to be inconsistent in properly reporting rapes as well.  To me this is akin to assault on the woman.  And it’s nothing short of shameful.

shame-by-jfqIn addition to the callous approach the police departments employ in reporting rape statistics to the FBI, “shame” also has a lot to do with many women not reporting such attacks.  Alcohol consumption and drug abuse are often familiar prequels to rape, and no women would want to be labeled as an abuser or out of control.  And due to natural side effects of substances, it’s common the victim is entirely unaware of what, if anything at all, even happened.  Also, in some micro-cultures which have filtered into the U.S. from regions worldwide, rape victims are inexplicably seen as dirty, shamed, and of less worth to their families, recognized as being at fault for having lead-on the attacker.  Having to relive the horrors of the incident to fill out a report and even testify in court understandably seems too much to handle.  Ironically, many take an even more difficult path which requires silence, but ultimately does more damage emotionally, as well as physically and subsequently financially.  

As is presently reported, the majority of rape victims, 52% in fact, are females younger than 26.  Many are in college and pursuing goals and careers.  These are independent women with oft-heard opinions and strong voices.  So why are they suffering their assaults in silence?  Because two-thirds of all perpetrators are either friends, regular associates, or even intimate partners.  Sixty-four percent of the time the woman is raped by a trusted companion!  That’s a particularly dangerous problem because the ripple effect brutalizes them once again at close range.  Oft times the woman victim has deep emotional feelings and even sincere love for the attacker so the crime is never reported, opting instead to give the perpetrator another chance. 

According to the justice department, it’s rare that attackers use extreme force or brutality during the rape, even though psychologists believe it to be an act of dominion and power.  Consequently, it’s rare that there is an abundance of physical evidence surrounding the attack.  This is another reason why more rapes aren’t reported by victims and police departments, and why more perpetrators aren’t taken to court.  Without physical evidence, and because of the commonality of alcohol and drug abuse during the act, the charge seemingly amounts to little more than a victim’s personal vendetta against her attacker.  It’s her word against his, and he’s innocent until proven guilty.

The nightmare continues.  The survivor sits alone in silence, darkness, and fear… unless. 

What if women stopped relying on the police departments to protect them from this heinous crime?  What if, instead, women took their safety into their own hands by becoming fully informed and educated on how to recognize a looming rape occurrence and how to successfully thwart it?  A physical self-defense series.   A self-defense firearm training class.  All of these are ideal counter-measures to ensure that you never have to become a survivor and be left to simply dance to the present music that’s played nationwide.  If a rape is fought back with skill and a pre-conditioned mind, then the survivor will be able to much better cope with the incident, leaving it behind with a sense of conquering evil rather than being trampled in its path.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.
You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.