Tag Archives: Self-Defense

We have Disarmed Ourselves to the Point Where Mass Shootings are Common

We’re not kidding. When you read through the common threads of how recent mass shooters chose their targets, one thing emerges with remarkable clarity: they choose targets where they *know* guns will not be present. When you obtain your Utah Conceal Carry Permit or your Minnesota Permit to Carry license and then safely and quietly carry your firearm, you’re helping our society be safer, not more violent. Many of these mass shootings would not have occurred had many more law abiding citizens carried firearms for protection and had then been able to use them against the mass shooter.

If you don’t have your Minnesota Permit to Carry license, now is the time to register for our next class. Within 40 days, you can have your permit and be carrying – helping to keep our society safe.

Tueller Drill 25 years later

Dennis Tueller has become famous in self-defense circles for his work on answering the question “How close it too close?” His article, first published in 1983 in S.W.A.T. magazine, became a foundational work against which many thousands have been trained under what was coined the 21 Foot Rule. It really never was a 21-foot rule from Tueller’s viewpoint: “The term “21-foot Rule” was not one I used. In the article, I talked about recognizing the danger zone, and about using cover or at least obstacles to slow an attacker.”

“The term “21-foot Rule” was not one I used”, said Dennis Tueller in a recent interview with the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, a group that supports Network members in their interaction with the criminal justice system after an act of self-defense as well as educating their members about the legalities of using deadly force in self-defense and what to expect from the criminal justice system after defending themselves. “I still think the “21-foot rule” is a poor use of terminology. Why not a call it a “rule”? Because words have meaning in the context in which we use them. What do you think of when you hear the word “rule?” “Follow the rules…” “Don’t break the rules…” “That is a violation of the rules…” In that context, the “21-Foot Rule” could be incorrectly interpreted to require you to shoot someone who is fifteen feet away and brandishing a knife. Conversely, it could be erroneously inferred that “the rule” prohibits the shooting of this same would-be slasher if he is 24 feet and nine inches away. This may be over-stating the case, but I don’t think so, as I have heard people express both of these views when discussing the subject.”

Totality of Circumstances Drive Use-of-Force Decisions

For us law-abiding citizens who carry our firearms concealed, the time and distance scenarios we face cannot be neatly put in a 21-foot box. Especially here in Minnesota, added layers of clothing in the winter increase the amount of time required to access a firearm, which means that the “bubble” increases proportionally. In addition to proximity, variables that determine imminent may include “the physical size and condition of both the aggressor and the defender, the presence of obstacles, cover, bystanders, partners, the terrain, footing, lighting, environment, holster type (high-security holsters take longer to clear than low security holsters), [and so forth]. All of these factors combine to create the “totality of circumstances” which will drive our use-of-force decisions.” In our Minnesota Permit to Carry class, we teach a minimum 32-foot rule, but we also explain that other variables might exist to extend this to longer distances, depending on the exact scenario. We can envision a scenario in which 30 or more yards would still be “imminent” if a certain mix of circumstances where present. For example, consider the man who was harassed and eventually beaten nearly to death on a New York interstate. It seems to me that being boxed-in by ~ 30 motorcyclists would significantly increase the distance in which an imminent danger existed and thus drive a use-of-force scenario.

Movement Matters Too

“Speaking only for myself,” says Tueller, “I think being able to move then shoot, shoot and then move again is tremendously important. So is moving when you see a potential threat, so you are not standing where the attack was directed. That way you can get inside your adversary’s reaction time, forcing him to react to what you are doing.” Tueller is right: in the heat of the moment, movement provides you a tactical advantage in that the threat must react to your movement. It also has the added advantage of keeping your wits about you during the shooting. If you’re moving, then shooting, moving again, then shooting, it seems that you have to think more intentionally about what you’re doing, which will help you handle the stress better and help you be a bit more thoughtful about your actions. If you’re making real-time decisions instead of just reacting, that helps you do a better job of managing yourself during the stressful event.

Most people don’t practice moving as a self-defense tactic. They just practice hitting a target in a well-lit room with even temperatures. But most self-defense shootings don’t occur in such sterile environments. This is why getting to an outdoor range where you can practice movement is so important.

Stepping Back is Good Movement Too

Says Tueller: “I wanted to sell the idea of taking a single big step back as you draw – to gain a bit more distance from your attacker – as an acceptable technique. Of course I’ve come to realize that if one step back is good, six or eight are better if you can maintain control and move smoothly.” Stepping back creates distance. Distances often increases your safety as well as forcing the attacker to respond to you. In our Minnesota Permit to Carry course, stepping back is highly recommended as a way to increase safety and yet maintain control of the situation and yourself.

Being Alert is Your Number One Tool

More than your firearm, being alerts to potential dangers is your best form of self-defense. In our Minnesota Permit to Carry class, we teach that the only conflict you cannot lose is the one you never engage in. So conflict avoidance is one of the first topics we discuss. We don’t care if you lose all dignity to avoid the confrontation. Lose your dignity. Engaging in a confrontation with potentially deadly consequences is a scenario we hope we never experience and never want to see occur. We don’t rejoice in the death of anyone – even an attacker. The use of deadly force is and must be a last resort – after verbal commands, retreat (when reasonable), brandishing and other, less lethal options.

“You need to believe it can happen to you. You need to recognize dangers in your vicinity, trust your feelings, and act based on your knowledge, experience and training”, said Tueller. We agree.

Armed Citizen in Maine, Ohio and California

Take a look at these three recent reports of law-abiding citizens defending themselves.  This is one of the reasons we have the 2nd Amendment and one of the reasons we’re in business:  we believe in the cause and right of self-defense.  While we do not rejoice in the death of anyone, we also recognize each person’s right to defend themselves.

All three of these stories occur inside the person’s home.  But this doesn’t negate the need for training in the use of a firearm and for familiarity on the legal ramifications of using that firearm.  Consider our Minnesota Permit to Carry class as the first logical step in your journey to defend yourself.

Read the stories here.


Little Falls Man Found Guilty of 1st Degree Murder

Just because an intruder enters your house doesn’t mean you have carte’ blanch to kill him or her. Byron Smith of Little Falls, Minnesota found this out the hard way. After two teens broke into his home, he shot them a total of 18 times, kept the dead bodies in his house for a day before calling police and recorded the entire episode for posterity. He violated the law in several ways.

First, he continued to shoot after the threat was removed. Specifically, he talked about giving the female a good, clean “finishing shot” and compared her killing to that of putting down a deer who is suffering. This was probably the largest indication of murder, not self-defense.

Secondly, he called her a “bitch” before he finally killed her. She was suffering from previous gunshot wounds and had no way to defend herself. His killer of her could not be interpreted in any other way than intentional murder.

Finally, as part of his surveillance system, he had audio recordings of everything that happened. I suspect that without the audio, he would not have been found guilty because there would have been little evidence to refute his testimony. But with the audio, I don’t think he stood a chance of being found not guilty.

When we teach the Minnesota Permit to Carry course, we constantly remind people of two things: A) the only fight you’ll never lose is one that you don’t get involved with in the first place and B) you stop shooting as soon as the threat is neutralized.

Byron violated both of these principles. And now he’ll spend the rest of his natural life in prison as a result.

Little Falls Man Seems to Have Crossed the Line

We’re following the trial this week of Byron Smith, the 65-year old Little Falls man who killed two teenagers inside his home. The testimony heard thus far in the trial is enough, in our opinion, to conclude that he went further than the law allows by intentionally killing the two teens. In our Minnesota Permit to Carry course and our Utah Conceal Carry course, we emphasize that you shoot just enough to remove the threat and no more. What this man seems to have done is not only removed the threat, but also to have intentionally killed the teens so they would stop breaking into his house.

There are no winners in this event. We’ll see how Smith’s lawyer handles his rebuttal, but thus far, Smith looks guilty of 1st degree murder in two counts.

Little Falls Man Admits to Shooting Teens – Claims Self-Defense

Holding a Minnesota Permit to Carry license does not exonerate you from careful scrutiny of your actions should you decide to use deadly force. And when it comes to using a self-defense as a legal reason for using deadly force, you first must admit that you violated the law by shooting that person, but that under the law, you were an unwilling participant and that you had no other alternative. Admitting that you shot the other person is the first step in claiming self-defense as a reason to use deadly force. This is precisely what Bryon Smith is admitting: He shot the two teens who entered his house on Thanksgiving Day, 2012, but he shot them in self-defense.

Minnesota law is murky on the justifiable use of deadly force, in my opinion. Here is the relevant law:


Subdivision 1. When authorized. Except as otherwise provided in subdivision 2, reasonable force may be used upon or toward the person of another without the other’s consent when the following circumstances exist or the actor reasonably believes them to exist:

(1) when used by a public officer or one assisting a public officer under the public officer’s direction:

(a) in effecting a lawful arrest; or

(b) in the execution of legal process; or

(c) in enforcing an order of the court; or

(d) in executing any other duty imposed upon the public officer by law; or

(2) when used by a person not a public officer in arresting another in the cases and in the manner provided by law and delivering the other to an officer competent to receive the other into custody; or

(3) when used by any person in resisting or aiding another to resist an offense against the person; or

(4) when used by any person in lawful possession of real or personal property, or by another assisting the person in lawful possession, in resisting a trespass upon or other unlawful interference with such property; or

(5) when used by any person to prevent the escape, or to retake following the escape, of a person lawfully held on a charge or conviction of a crime; or

(6) when used by a parent, guardian, teacher, or other lawful custodian of a child or pupil, in the exercise of lawful authority, to restrain or correct such child or pupil; or

(7) when used by a school employee or school bus driver, in the exercise of lawful authority, to restrain a child or pupil, or to prevent bodily harm or death to another; or

(8) when used by a common carrier in expelling a passenger who refuses to obey a lawful requirement for the conduct of passengers and reasonable care is exercised with regard to the passenger’s personal safety; or

(9) when used to restrain a person who is mentally ill or mentally defective from self-injury or injury to another or when used by one with authority to do so to compel compliance with reasonable requirements for the person’s control, conduct, or treatment; or

(10) when used by a public or private institution providing custody or treatment against one lawfully committed to it to compel compliance with reasonable requirements for the control, conduct, or treatment of the committed person.

Subd. 2. Deadly force used against peace officers. Deadly force may not be used against peace officers who have announced their presence and are performing official duties at a location where a person is committing a crime or an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult.


The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor’s place of abode.”

As you may know, opening statements began Monday morning in the Little Falls, Minn. murder trial of Byron Smith. He is a 65-year-old man who killed two teens who broke into his home on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Smith is charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder. “According to the criminal complaint, Smith shot Kifer and Brady multiple times during the burglary of his home. He admitted to using “more shots than” were needed, and even gloated about firing a “good, clean finishing shot.” He did not immediately report the shooting to police, instead having a neighbor call on his behalf the next day.” (Fox 9 News)

Now, I don’t know how this will play out, but for sure, you don’t say anything about getting a “good, clean finishing shot” and you never admit to using “more shots than” are necessary. You shoot just enough to remove the threat, then you stop – even if the other person is in significant pain. You don’t do a mercy killing.

If Smith is convicted, this will be a classic case of how talking after the shooting, but before your lawyers are present, can negatively affect you in a court of law. We’ll follow this trial here, but for sure, be clear on one point: you don’t talk after the shooting until your lawyer is present.

Little Falls, Minnesota Man on Trial in Self-Defense Shooting

This is no laughing matter and gives all of us a chance to learn vicariously from this case. Just because the two teens were inside his house doesn’t necessarily mean that Minnesota law indemnifies the man from shooting them. Pay attention to this case and follow it. You will learn some important lessons from it – include the first one that we teach in all of our Minnesota Permit to Carry classes: do not talk to the police without your lawyer present. After the shooting, you’ll want to talk – but don’t do it. Be sure to call your legal team immediately.

If you don’t know who you would call, NOW is the time to get that relationship lined up and ready to go. None of us ever want to shoot anyone, but all of us who carry under the Minnesota Permit to Carry laws should prepare for the worst.

Armed Citizen – Husband Defends Wife

Persistent training in the use of your handguns is essential to knowing how to use them in the heat of the moment. Our Minnesota Permit to Carry training will help you understand when and when not to shoot as well as understanding how to safely handle your firearm.

“A husband and wife were asleep at home in Houston, Texas when they were awakened by someone attempting to break in through their front door. The husband responded by retrieving a gun, as his wife called the authorities. When the home invader managed to get into the home through a back door, the husband shot the criminal. The wounded home invader then moved in a way that made the husband believe he was reaching for something, prompting the husband to shoot the intruder again. The home invader later died at a nearby hospital.  (KPRC, Houston, Texas, 04/21/14).”

Copied from http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen/2014/husband-defends-wife-and-home-from-intruder%2c-kprc%2c-houston%2c-texas%2c-042114.aspx.

Armed Citizen – Three Stories

There is a reason we carry and maintain our Permit to Carry licenses. We carry for self-defense. We’re not Rambo. We’re not trying to enforce the laws of our great State of Minnesota. Nope. We’re just wanting to protect ourselves and those around us from an increasingly violent society.

Byron Park, 54, a Domino’s Pizza employee, was making a delivery to a hotel just before midnight. As he returned to his vehicle, he was confronted by a 34-year-old man wielding a knife and demanding money. Park responded by pulling out his concealed handgun and firing once. The robber sustained a fatal wound to the torso. Maj. Tod Goodyear said of the incident, “[Park] was protecting his life. The guy had a deadly weapon and was going to kill him if he didn’t give his money up.” (Florida Today, Melbourne, Fla., 8/25/13)

A man was outside his horse barn early one morning when three large dogs surrounded him. The canines circled him as if preparing to attack. After efforts to scare the dogs away by yelling at them failed, the man called a neighbor who brought a shotgun. One of the dogs was shot and killed. The animal was tested and results reported that they are “dog-wolf hybrids” being bred by someone in the area. It was last reported that the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had begun investigating the matter. The man who shot the animal was unharmed. (The Day, Long Pond, Conn., 3/31/14)

From The Armed Citizen® Archives

October 1977: A would-be rapist met an untimely end when he attempted to molest an unidentified New Orleans, La., woman cab driver. When the man jumped into the front seat and attacked, she drew a cal. .357 revolver and fired, killing him. (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La.)

All stories taken from The NRA’s American Rifle Web Site.

Verbal Commands: The only fight you can’t lose is the one you never have

The use of verbal commands to diffuse a threatening situation is not only smart, it might also save lives, legal fees and potentially spending years in prison. If you never need to use lethal force, then you’ll never have a lethal encounter that you can lose or win. And, you’ll never be criminally or civilally charged either. Even though we teach the Permit to Carry courses, we teach it from the viewpoint that shooting is a *last resort*. And we strongly emphasize that the permit to carry course is just the beginning of your education – you need to take the responsibility to learn how to safely handle your firearm, but you also need to push yourself to be mentally and physically prepared as well.

As part of your overall training, you’ll need to learn and train on how to use verbal commands to diffuse a potentially life-threatening situation. Merely knowing how to shoot a gun at a range – which is all most permit to carry people ever do for training – you’ll find is inadequate and ineffective to successfully getting through a life or death situation. Learning the proper verbal commands to diffuse a potentially threatening situation is a critical skills that must be practiced as part of your regular self-defense training regimen. According to Bill Lewinski, law enforcement psychology authority and director of the Force Science Research Center (FSRC) at Minnesota State University Mankato, “If integrated properly into a patterned, programmed package, an officer can talk, move and shoot effectively without conscious effort, but it takes training and practice.” We are no different. Given the tunnel vision and loss of auditory and fine motor skills during a life or death confrontation, you’ll need to multi-task at a time when your skills that support multi-tasking will likely fail you. So, you’ll fall back to doing what your training has taught you to do. If all your training is shooting at a range on a clear, sunny, warm day – you’ll probably end up dead or in jail. Part of being effective in a life-threatening situation is knowing what to say, when to say it and then, if necessary, when to stop talking and shoot.

The use of verbal commands is intended to put you in charge of the situation. When you are giving commands, the assailant is having to respond to you. Hence, you are more likely to survive and successfully navigate a potentially life-threatening situation by being in charge through the use of verbal commands.

Diffusing Commands to Stop Threatening Escalation

Sometimes, you’ll encounter an assailant who is not making life-threatening indications and you want to keep it that way. High stress commands (next section) are used when the escalation toward imminent death or bodily injury is rapidly evolving. Some encounters don’t evolve rapidly, and that’s when other types of verbal command can keep your encounter from escalating to the point where you have to use high-stress commands. All defensive tactics must involve both physical alternatives and verbalization skills. You can always disengage or escalate as the situation warrants.

The most effective application of words and physical control techniques progresses like this:

  • Initial verbalization should calm the subject and give them direction. Example: “Just relax and take it easy. You don’t need this type of trouble.”
  • Verbal direction accompanies physical intervention and combines an initial, loud verbal command; rapid, intense application of technique; and simultaneous verbal stunning. Example: “Stay back!”
  • Stabilization commands should follow verbal direction to assist in the maintenance of control. Example: “Get down on the ground!”

In all cases, you’ll get father with an assailant if you treat him with respect and speak in a calm but firm tone. Stay away from derogatory terms and the use of vulgar language. Even if the subject is not acting in a respectful manner, you’ll have a better chance of staying in charge and diffusing the situation if you use respect as opposed to disrespect.

High Stress Commands

Verbal commands during high-stress encounters is somewhat controversial. Randy Clifton, an internationally known Simunition Master Instructor, says, “If you are thinking about what you are going to say, it will slow down your trigger pull,” which could interfere with your survival. Therefore, once you make the decision to shoot, stop verbalizing.
The challenge with verbal skills is to develop and practice commands we can use universally. Research has found that during high-stress encounters, people will have the tendency to repeatedly give “beta” commands, which basically convey little information, particularly to emotionally distraught or emotionally intense individuals. Example: “Don’t make me shoot you.” It’s clearly a warning but gives little direction to the subject during an intense, rapidly unfolding, dynamic and perhaps confusing situation and could land you in prison if witnesses take that type of command as a threat from you to the assailant. Therefore, your commands should convey direction or action that you want the subject to perform. Typical commands of this type would be:

  • Drop the knife!
  • Put your gun down!
  • Don’t shoot!
  • Get on the ground!
  • Stop!
  • Listen! You don’t want to do this!

Hence, there are several rules to follow:

  • Your commands should focus only on what you want the subject to do
  • Keep your commands short and direct – remember, your assailant might be having tunnel vision too, so short commands that are easily followed is best
  • Keep your commands simple – multi-tasked commands will only confuse the assailant. Don’t say “Drop your knife, get on the ground and get your palms up!” Instead, say “Drop your knife!”. If the assailant drops his knife, then give the next command: “Get on the ground!” and so forth
  • Never yell out what you will do. Everything you say about what you will do can be (and likely will be) construed by the prosecutor as A) you’re now a willing participant and B) your willingness is evidenced by your threat. Avoid phrases like “I’ll shoot!” or “I will use my gun!”. Don’t give the prosecution or any witness any reason to believe you’re willing participant.
  • Select your commands in advance and practice them in a shooting scenario.
  • Do not use demeaning, belittling or vulgar language. Command: “Put your gun down!”. Don’t command “Put your gun down, you little fucker!”.
  • Be authoritative and confident in your commands. Yell them out in a clear, crisp cadence.

What if the commands don’t work?

If your verbal commands are met with more escalation or indifference, then it might be time to shoot. The core principle here is that once you have decided that the use of lethal force is the only way you can prevent death or severe bodily injury, then it’s time to stop talking. Don’t command and shoot at the same time. The reason for this is simple: the less multi-tasking you ask of yourself during a time when you’re experiencing tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills and auditory degredation, then better you’ll perform at those tasks that you need to perform – in this instance – aiming and shooting.

Surrender Commands

If the commands do work and you successfully diffuse the threat itself, your overall situation may not be over. In order to fully resolve the situation, use commands that put the assailent in a vulnerable position while you call the police. Commands like: “Get on the ground!”, “Put your palms up” and/or “Don’t talk” are the types of commands that will enable you to keep your firearm out and pointed at the assailant while you wait for the police to arrive.

Another possibility is that your assailant decides to flee when you’re giving commands. If he flees, let him go.

More Training

In our simulation course, we go over the principles and commands that you can use in various situations to learn how to use verbal commands while having to make shoot/no-shoot decision. If you want to learn more, contact us at www.maplegrovefirearms.com.


Bill English