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    Aside from taking the required training needed to obtain a permit-to-carry a firearm (if required by your state), individuals that intend to carry a firearm in public for personal protection should seek additional specialized training from a qualified instructor. This instructor may or may not be the same person that teaches your permit-to-carry class. In general, most permit-to-carry classes are not intended to teach firearm safety in great detail nor is the class designed to teach marksmanship skills or in-depth legal concepts related to self-defense. The average person just cannot dedicate enough time and money to become an expert marksman and rise to the level of pseudo-attorney specializing in self-defense law. Therefore, most specialized training will attempt to condense the most important topics into a class schedule that can range from ~10 to ~40 hours. Permit-to-carry classes typically are in the ~2.5 to ~8 hour schedule. Some states have a minimum requirement for class length, others have no such requirement as long as specific topics are covered.

    The average person seeking to carry a firearm for self-defense should focus in two areas of specialized training:
    1. Marksmanship and firearm safety
    2. The legal aspects of using force including deadly force against another, either in the home or outside the home (laws can be different inside/outside the home depending on where you live)

    First, if you don't know how to fire a gun accurately or handle a gun safely and end up shooting an innocent person while trying to defense yourself, you'll most likely be prosecuted and sent to prison.
    Second, if you don't know when it is legal to shoot someone while defending yourself or you speak to law enforcement without an attorney you might end up saving your life just to spend your remaining years in prison.

    With self-defense, where deadly force is used, there are no "winners" only various degrees of losing. Why? A jury might find that your shooting was in fact justified but a "not guilty" verdict might cost you your life savings, your home, your job and your family and in some cases, after losing everything, the victim can suffer bouts of severe depression.

    So why should you actually document your training? Why does it really matter? Short answer: The more you know prior to having to shoot someone (in the home or outside the home), the greater the degree to which you will be able to defend yourself in court.

    Long Answer
    If you cannot prove you had specific knowledge prior to the event (a self-defense shooting) it [your knowledge] will not be allowed in court (rules of evidence).... which is why, when you take Ayoob's MAG20/40 class, he will state that you need to start preparing your self-defense case TODAY and not while you are awaiting a bond hearing. To begin preparing for a future self-defense claim, you need to begin the process of documenting all the classes you have taken on self-defense (by note taking to prove you did not sleep through class), document the self-defense books you have read (folks don't usually buy books without reading them but a book-report would be more helpful), print out court cases and news articles relevant to self-defense:

    • Disparity of force cases
    • Knock-out "game" cases where the victim dies, has brain damage or spends time in coma
    • Cases where the perp claims "Money or your life" and kills the compliant victim anyway
    • The stranger and more obscure cases are better. Every juror can see where a knife or gun presents "ability" to cause great bodily harm or death but a juror may have never considered the shod foot or fist to be a deadly weapon
    • News articles that highlight violent crime in your area
    • Document signs that are precursors to violence i.e. body language.
    • Document information on gang symbols, specifically tattoos. If you ever have to shoot an unarmed man, it might be helpful to articulate in court that you recognized the "243" tattooed on your attackers wrist as a gang symbol consistent with someone who has committed battery on a police officer and the dagger on his neck as someone available for hire to kill other prisoners. Links to gang information can be found on this site under the Resources menu tab.
    • Print a copy of the Tueller Drill that explains just how lethal a knife can be from a distance of 21 to 32 feet

    The court will judge you for what you did and the decision that you made with what you had to make it with. Documenting your training and documenting your information gathering will educate you on the realities of a deadly threat encounter and in court you will be better equipped to convey these facts to the jury.

    In other words, your knowledge gained from professional training and reading can possibly be used to aid in your defense by providing a factual basis for your decision making, leading up to your use of deadly force. Undocumented training or information obtained after the fact is generally not admissible because the information has no relevance in the decisions that were made during the event in question.
    For example, if you shoot an unarmed attacker and discover weeks later that he has a criminal past and was trained to kill in hand-to-hand combat while in the military, this information may not be used in court because the attackers history and specialized training in the destructive arts was not known to you at the time of the attack and therefore could not have played a part in your decision-making. For all you knew, you were shooting the deacon of the local church.

    Most people do not know that it takes 1.5 seconds to draw a gun from an exposed holster and fire, and that it only takes 1.5 seconds for a person running at you to close a distance of 21 feet and plant a knife in your chest. If you shot an attacker from a distance of 21 to 30 feet, would it be important to have previously documented that you read and understood the findings of the Tueller Drill? Of course, because learning about the reality of a knife fight, lethal distance, the immediacy of the threat and reactionary times after the fact may not be admissible in court due to exclusionary rules of evidence. Without the Tueller Drill, the prosecution may be able to convince the jury that a knife based attack at a distance of 30 feet did not constitute an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm. Expert testimony would be required to clear this up. If expert testimony is not allowed (judges discretion), you may have a very large hole in your defense.

    To further illustrate:
    1. You are walking home one night and are attacked by an unarmed man, much larger than you in size. Frightened, you pull your firearm and shoot and kill the suspect. You claim a disparity of force existed, thus a claim of self defense. The county prosecutor has a differing opinion and you go to court. You previously documented the fact that you read Defensive Tactics with Flashlights by John G. Peters which references a chart published in Close Quarter Combat by Juste David Meyers which states that a person your size against a person the size of your attacker only has a 30% chance of surviving a violent attack. While this published work may or may not carry much weight in court, it can be used to help support your decision making process for choosing to use deadly force. Conceivably this is information your attorney can leverage to establish enough doubt in the minds of the jury and possibly win your case.
    2. You are walking home one night and are confronted by a man with a knife standing 30 feet from you. After pausing, the attacker continues his forward motion. You pull your firearm and shoot and kill the man. In court the prosecutor spins a carefully crafted story about how knives are not lethal weapons nor was the attacker ever an immediate threat because he was 30 feet away from the alleged victim. The judge has disallowed expert testimony in this case because of a personal bias. Luckily for you, you had documented the fact that you read, How Close is Too Close by Dennis Tueller as a part of your training and continuing education. The article, written by a law enforcement officer, highlights the level of danger actually present when confronted by someone with only a knife and 30 feet away. Without expert testimony and had you had no prior knowledge of the Tueller Drill, the prosecutor may in fact be able to convince a jury that you were in no danger when confronted by a man with only a knife and 30 feet away.
    3. If you just had dinner with your wife in Uptown and you were confronted by an attacker holding a gun to your forehead and he said, “give me your wallet or I will kill you” and you reached behind your back, pull your gun and shoot him down, are you justified in doing so? You probably are but what about “preclusion” as outlined in the AOJ-P analysis? Your attacker gave you an ultimatum, you had a choice. Did you really have to shoot? Is it possible an overzealous prosecutor might want to take advantage of the situation and make an example of you because you had a choice in the matter? In this scenario, it would be helpful to have documented that in the Minneapolis and surrounding areas that on more than one occasion the attacker provided an ultimatum, the victim complied and the attacker killed his victim anyway. Based on this information, it would be reasonable for you to conclude that there was a high probability of being killed regardless of whether or not you complied with the assailant’s demands.

    What about expert witnesses willing to testify on your behalf? There have been judges that have disallowed expert testimony because some believe expert witnesses are bought and paid for. The one person that you can count on to be at your trial is you. Document your training because your freedom may one day depend on it.

    How to Document your Training
    Package all your documentation (books, articles, court cases, notes from classes, etc...) and mail the package to yourself and or your family attorney via USPS certified and registered mail. The package is to remain sealed until needed in court. If your knowledge and training is ever needed in court, this packet should ONLY be opened "in the well of the court" so that all can see that the package was postmarked prior to the event (shooting). As you take more training, open the packet, refresh the documentation and re-mail it to yourself USPS certified and registered mail.

    A quote from Marty Hayes, J.D. on training from a recent interview titled, "The Top Three Errors Armed Citizens Make in Self Defense":
    Failure to document training or not being trained to begin with. Here’s the deal: the jury gets to view the evidence that is presented through the eyes of the defendant, but the defendant has to be able to explain to the jury what he or she was feeling, seeing and perceiving. If they don’t have specific training to rely on to be able to say, “Because of this training I perceived this was about to occur,” if they just say, “I had a bad feeling,” that is not going to be enough.

    The foundational work is the concept of pre-attack indicators. Members of the Network have all had training on pre-attack indicators in the video with Marc MacYoung. This is why we felt that training program was so important for every member to view, and why we put it out so early on in our educational lecture series. Of course, the knife defense, the Tueller drill concept is an important part of it, too, if you are dealing with a contact weapon. The ability to articulate why that individual was a documentable threat to you is huge. You have got to be able to explain to the jury and fall back on your training to let the jury know why you felt that your life was in danger or about to be placed in danger.

    Visit the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network for more information.

    Training Resources
    If you would like training above and beyond what you received in your permit-to-carry class, the National Rifle Association is a great training resource for individuals at all skill levels. Specific classes of interest may include:
    • NRA First Steps Pistol Orientation
    • NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course
    • NRA Basics of Personal Protection Outside the Home
    • NRA Defensive Pistol

    Non-NRA sources for firearm training:


    What is the "Bystander Effect"? (why others will NOT come to your aid)
    Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network
    Home break-in stats
    M4Carbine.net (great resource for info on AR15/M16 platforms)
    National Rifle Association
    No Nonsense Self-Defense
    Talking to the Police (48 minute video)
    The Firing Line Forums
    What to do after a self-defense shooting (4 minute video)
    Reid v. Covert - US Supreme Court rules Constitution supersedes treaties ratified by the US Senate
    Clarity on "Stand-Your-Ground"
    Brown v. United States - RE:Stand-your-ground and "Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife." by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
    Rory Millers's BLOG Site - Also and accomplished author of books on the subject of self-defense and use of force
    Distinguishing Social and Asocial, by Rory Miller
    Sheepdog Seminars Group
    Self-Defense: An endangered right by Cato Institute
    Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive
    Shooting in the back: How fast can someone make a 180 degree turn? Average: 0.58 seconds. Fastest: 0.33 seconds
    Urban Combatives. Information on the training needed to survive an actual attack on the street.
    Killology Research Group
    Force Necessary blog and articles.
    Law Library of Congress
    Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (Heavily influenced American Common Law)
    National Registry of Exoneration (wrongful convictions that were overturned)
    Witness Perception and Use of Force with regard to disparity of force i.e. David vs Goliath
    April Risk Consulting: William April, a licensed mental health professional

    GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL VIDEO: If you are ever wrongfully prosecuted for defending yourself, this is what your trial will look like. For the beginning (pre jury selection), find the file "(A) (00) GZT - Pre-Jury Selection Motions". For the end (post verdict), search for this file "(Misc) (4) GZT - Trial (Frye hearing -partial)". (highly suggested)

    Gang Related
    Gang awareness guide - New Jersey Attorney General
    Gang identification - State of Delaware
    Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the one-Percenter culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider
    Today's gangs: How to recognize the signs - Homefront Protective Group
    Youth Gangs in American Society Third Edition, Sheldon Tracy Brown

    Suggested Books
    All-in Fighting by W.E. Fairbairn
    Armed Response by Kenik & Ayoob
    Black's Law: A Criminal Lawyer Reveals His Defense Strategies in Four Cliffhanger Cases by Roy Black
    Campfire Tales from Hell: Musings on Martial Arts, Survival, Bouncing & General Thug Stuff by Rory Miller
    Deadly Force - Understanding your rights to self-defense by Massad Ayoob (highly suggested)
    Defend Yourself: Comprehensive Security Plan for the Armed Homeowner by Rob Pincus
    Defensive Tactics with Flashlights by John G Peters
    Drills: Training for sudden violence by Rory Miller
    Facing Violence: Preparing for the unexpected by Rory Miller
    Fear Less: Real Truth about Risk, Safety & Security in a Time of Terrorism by Gavin De Becker
    Force Decisions: A Citizens' Guide by Rory Miller
    Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton Samenow
    In the Gravest Extreme by Massad Ayoob
    In the Name of Self-Defense: What it costs. When its worth it by Marc MacYoung (highly suggested)
    Just 2 Seconds by Gavin De Becker
    Kill or Get Killed by Rex Applegate
    Lessons from Armed America by Kathy Jackson
    Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior by Desmond Morris (1977) - Out of Print
    Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence by Rory Miller
    More Guns, Less Crime by John R. Lott Jr.
    NRA Guide to Personal Protection in the Home
    NRA Guide to Personal Protection Outside the Home
    On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace by Grossman & Christensen
    On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman
    One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty by Rosenzwieg & Walsh
    Personal Defense for Women by Gila Hayes; Forward by Massad Ayoob
    Principals of Personal Defense by Jeff Cooper
    Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children & Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) by Gavin De Becker
    Put Him Out: The combative use of improvised weapons by Lee Morrison; published by Paladin Press
    Real World Self-Defense by Jerry Van Cook
    Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision Making Under Threat of Violence by Miller & Kane
    Self Defense Against a Dog Attack by Loren W. Christensen
    Strong on Defense by Sanford Strong
    The Anatomy of Motive by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker
    The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
    The Cornered Cat: A Woman's Guide to Concealed Carry by Kathy Jackson
    The Law of Self-Defense by Andrew F. Branca
    The Truth about Self Protection by Massad Ayoob
    The Basics of Pistol Shooting (NRA)
    The Bulletproof Mind: Prevailing in Violent Encounters... and After by Gavin De Becker
    The Bracken Anthology by Matthew Bracken
    The Little Black Book of Violence by Kris Wilder and Lawrence A. Kane
    Violence: A writer's guide by Rory Miller
    You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane

    Interviewing and Interrogation, Carolina Academic Press, Rabon
    Small Talk: Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation, Pearson Custom Publishing
    Interviewing and Investigating: Essential Skills for the Paralegal Third Edition, Wolters Kluwer
    Criminal Evidence Tenth Edition, Jefferson L. Ingram, John C. Klotter Justice Administration Legal Series
    Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques, Third Edition, Vernon J. Gererth
    Warren on Homicide Vol 1-5, Oscar Leroy Warren and Basil Michael Bilas

    Court Cases and other Information - Know the Reality!
    Defending a Disparity of Force Shooting
    Attacked by an unarmed group and using a firearm in self-defense.

    Channon Christian and Christopher Newson
    A case of torture, rape and murder: 46 Counts

    Single blow to the head results in stroke
    Boyfriend charged with felony domestic assault

    Petit family murders - Home invasion

    Wichita Massacre - Home Invasion

    Michael Zebuhr Murder - Two teens in Minneapolis kill Zebuhr after taking mothers purse

    Courtney Brown, 15, Murdered in N. Minneapolis for his jersey

    Washington State jury found that a beating by fist or shod foot to be considered "Great Bodily Harm"
    Being kicked or punched while on the ground are considered "crushing blows" and likely to cause permanent injury or death.

    1974 Hi-Fi Murders in Ogden, UT -Never allow yourself to be taken to a secondary location, even if its from the kitchen to the basement.

    Notable Cases:

    • Graham v. Connor — This is the essential use of force rubric in the country.
    • Tennessee v. Garner — Addresses deadly force to prevent escape.
    • Terry v. Ohio — Established the legality of so-called “Stop & Frisk” searches.
    • Plakas v. Drinski — No constitutional duty to use lesser force when deadly force is authorized.
    • Pena v. Leombruni — Addresses suspect’s known mental state regarding force.
    • Thompson v. Hubbard — Case where suspect appeared to be drawing a gun and no gun found.
    • Smith v. Freland — Examined policy violation but no violation of Constitutional law.
    • Bush v. City of Tallahassee — Addresses excessive force applied through Graham.
    • Green v. N.J. State Police — Addresses excessive force applied through Graham.
    • Forrett v. Richardson — Unarmed fleeing felon applied through Tennessee v. Garner.
    • Elliot v. Leavitt — Addresses 20/20 hindsight on officer shooting.
    • Brown v. United States — The original (1921) Graham v. Connor style decision.
    • Wardlaw v. Pickett — Punching an approaching verbally argumentative person.
    • City of Canton v. Harris — Addresses liability and “failure to train.”
    • Powpow v. Margate — Addresses shooting an innocent person (training).
    • Salinas v. Texas - Invoking right to remain silent is admissible in court and can be used against you.

    One of the most frequently asked questions: "When can I legally display my gun and or shoot someone?"
    Lets begin with identifying the various levels of proof (low to high) with regard to a potential threat to your safety:
    1. Mere suspicion (MS): Beliefs are unfounded. You are making a wild-ass-guess.
    2. Articulable suspicion (AS): (if you cannot explain it, don't do it!).
    3. Probable cause (PC): Grey area between suspicion and proof. Can be less than 50% certainty.
    4. Preponderance of the evidence (POE): Gray area between suspicion and proof but with greater than 50% certainty.
    5. Beyond a reasonable doubt (BARD): 95% to 99.9% certainty.

    Lets now identify the levels of awareness that you have or should have learned through training and research (low to high):
    1. White: You are not aware of your surroundings
    2. Yellow: You are aware of your surroundings (relaxed awareness)
    3. Orange: Unspecified alert. Danger exists but not yet known. Look for the "target stare", whats in peoples hands.
    4. Red: Threat has identified itself (fight or flight). Will experience high level of body alarm response.
    5. Black: The lethal assault is underway and someone is trying to kill you.

    When can you display your firearm and or shoot someone 1:
    1. MS and condition White: Never draw gun. Heart Rate 60-80 (normal range)
    2. AS and condition Yellow: Never draw gun. Heart rate 100-115
    3. PC and condition Orange: Never draw gun. Heart rate 115-145. Fine motor skills deteriorate. Optimal for survival and combat performance.
    4. POE and condition Red: Take at gunpoint. Heart rate 160-175. Common effects: Tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of near vision, loss of depth perception, vasoconstriction, cognitive processing deteriorates. A person may experience some, all or none of these body responses.
    5. BARD and condition Black: Fire your gun. Heart rate 175-220. Common effects: Irrational fight or flee, freezing, submissive behavior, void bladder and or bowel... including effects experienced in condition Red. A person may experience some, all or none of these body responses.

    Heart rates and related impact on the human body came from: On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (2004), chapter 4, page 31

    1 The purpose of this chart is to align levels of proof with conditions of awareness in order to help identify when displaying a firearm and or using a firearm is most likely to be justified. Every self-defense situation is different so there is no cookie-cutter answer. The event must be judged based on the totality of the circumstances unfolding in front of the victim. What is considered a "reasonable" response in self-defense often comes down to the victims training and experiences. Also remember that in Minnesota there is a duty to retreat when outside the home if safe to do so. Even in states with stand-your-ground laws, retreat is always the best bet because even if the victim does everything right, there is no 100% guarantee that an overzealous county prosecutor wont want to make an example out of the victim(s) (Duke LaCross case) or succumb to political pressure which is what happened in the Zimmerman case down in Florida (wrongful prosecution). A case that goes before a Grand Jury and is No-Billed can cost as much as $50K. To prepare for and go through a complete jury trial can cost upwards of $2M as it did in the George Zimmerman case. Considering all of this, instead of asking, "When can I shoot?", a better way to ask this question is, "Should I shoot?"

    On the WEB

    Permit-to-carry authorizes permit holder to carry rifle or shotgun - 624.7181 Subd. 1 (b) (3) (exclusion: when in your vehicle. 97B.045 per AG, DNR & BCA)
    Killing of dogs in certain cases: Minnesota statute 347.17
    Permit to Carry a Pistol Application from the MN BCA WEB site
    Permit to Purchase / Transfer Application from the MN BCA WEB site
    Minnesota Court Forms

    Notable MN Court Cases
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Berton M. Atkinson - Carry of firearms is not an absolute right and may be restricted.
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Lonnie Austin - Outside the home there is a duty to retreat to avoid danger if retreat can be done so in complete safety.
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Jeffrey Warren Baird - No duty to retreat from ones home, even if the aggressor is a co-resident.
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Jack Allen Basting - Experience as a boxer does not automatically convert a fist to a dangerous weapon.
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Boyce - Outlines the three factors that must exist in order for homicide to be justified under 609.06 and 609.065
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Tony Lamar Carothers - No duty to retreat from ones home but the use of force, including deadly force, must be reasonable for the circumstance.
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Anthony Carter
    Court of Appeals Minnesota William Glowacki
    Supreme Court of Minnesota William Glowacki - No duty to retreat from ones home but the use of force, including deadly force, must be reasonable for the circumstance.
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Mario Gerald Grillo
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Eli Hare, Jr.
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Charles Edward Hicks - Apartment hallways, even in secured buildings, are considered "public" and carry of a firearm requires a permit.
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Kevin Lemont Holmes
    Supreme Court of Minnesota Kevin Lemont Holmes
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Ronald Clifford Linville
    State of of Minnesota Thomas Jerome McCuiston - Defense of dwelling in 609.065 requires the "reasonable" test in 609.06.
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Robert Alan Nelson, Jr.
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Mark Christian Palmer
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Akeem Pendleton
    Supreme Court Minnesota Akeem Pendleton
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Donald Joseph Poupard
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Abdulla Omar Reed
    Court of Appeals Minnesota Phyllis Eugenia Taylor
    State of Minnesota Kristi Kathleen Wood
    Court of Appeals Minnesota David Lee Haywood - Affirmed. A BB gun is a firearm within the meaning of prohibited possession of a firearm under Minn. Stat. § 609.165, subd. 1b(a) (2012).
    State of Minnesota David Lee Haywood (Oct 19, 2016) Prior conviction reversed and vacated. A BB gun is NOT a firearm under statute 609.165

    Note: Defense of dwelling when the aggressor and defender both live in the dwelling:
    "Defense of dwelling is a defense based on property rights and thus is only available against one who does not have rights to the dwelling.  State v. Hare, 575 N.W.2d 828, 832 (Minn.1998).   The defense of dwelling defense is not appropriate when the party against whom the force is used has rights to the dwelling as well." State v. Glowacki (July 12, 2001).

    Minnesota Permit to Carry a Firearm by Michael Martin
    Everything You Need to Know About (Legally) Carrying a Handgun in Minnesota by Joel Rosenberg
    Courtroom Handbook of Minnesota Evidence, 2013 Edition, Peter N. Thompson and David F. Herr

    Minnesota Attorney Listing
    Visit The Shooters' Bar WEB site.

    Gun Shops
    Bills Gun Shop & Range
    Burnsville Pistol Range (FFL transfers & range only)

    Accessories for the firearm enthusiast or the permit-to-carry holder can be found all over the internet. These accessories include, but are not limited to:

    • Various types of holsters
    • Purses with hidden compartments
    • Day-runner style organizers with an inside pocket for a small pistol
    • Specialty clothing with places to hide a firearm
    • Gun locks, safes, lights
    • Laser sites
    • Devices made for “holding” a firearm under the dash of a car or bed frame
    • Training books and videos

    The list could go on forever. Google is your friend for accessories.

    Do not purchase a permit-to-carry badge. It is foolish and you can find yourself with legal issues should someone mistake you for law enforcement.


    Every able bodied adult is responsible for their own safety and personal protection. As adults we may have a significant-other or children that we would like to be able to protect should the need arise. Many citizens falsely believe that law enforcement is charged with protecting individual citizens. This is not the case.

    Police cannot protect, and are not legally liable for failing to protect, individual citizens. Courts have consistently ruled that police services provided by a municipality are only provided to protect the public at large and not individual members of the community.

    Former Florida Attorney General Jim Smith told Florida legislators that police responded to only 200,000 of 700,000 calls for help to Dade county authorities.

    The US Department of Justice found that, in 1989, there were 168,881 crimes of violence for which police had not responded within 1 hour.

    A 2006 CNN report ranked the top 25 most dangerous cities in America and listed Minneapolis, MN at #23 with Oakland, CA coming in at #25.

    It should be fairly self-evident that the general public concerned with personal safety needs to spend a little time thinking about and creating a personal protection plan. The primary purpose of the plan is to highlight ways to make you more aware of your surroundings and to provide the opportunity to consider situations or scenarios along with a corresponding exit or defense strategy. A well though out strategy will assist in keeping you physically safe. This strategy can and should be applied both in and outside the home.

    The most important element of a personal protection plan is being aware of your surroundings to the point where you are able to identify and avoid conflict completely. The only way to survive a violent threat 100% of the time is to avoid the threat altogether. In the state of Minnesota there is a legal duty to retreat from conflict if it is safe to do so. Not retreating when possible may put your "reluctant participant" status in jeopardy and possibly erode your claim to self-defense.

    Outcome Warning Time Possible Result
    Avoid 1-5+ Minutes You'll never know for the remainder of your life if you avoided a violent encounter or overreacted.
    You avoided conflict thus keeping you physically safe and out of the legal system.
    Escape 30+ Seconds You avoid having to defend yourself but you are still in a bad situation that you need to get farther away from.
    Defend 3-5+ Seconds Actively defending yourself.
    Every action you now take will be second-guessed by police, the legal system and the media.
    Potential cost is $10K-$500K (or more) to defend yourself in the courts with possible jail time.

    Conflict Avoidance
    As previously mentioned. Avoid all conflicts.

    Situational Awareness
    Maintain a 360 degree view of what is happening around you at all times. Maintain more than a 32 foot protective "bubble" around you. Anyone that is within 21 feet of you is within your danger zone. Frequently deviate from your current path or direction of travel and stay in well-lit and populated areas. If available, make use of windows to see the reflections of those behind or near you. Be aware of blind spots along the road such as dumpsters and corners of structures. Follow the crowd rather than taking shortcuts through alleyways. Take notice of people that seem out of place. Avoid dark corners in parking garages. Always take note of possible escape routes when entering an area.

    Do Not Look Like a Victim
    Walk with a high degree of confidence and purpose. Know where you are headed before going. If the eyes are the window to the soul then wear sunglasses when appropriate, otherwise make eye contact.

    Personal Security
    Safety in numbers. Travel with a companion when possible. Move faster than the crowd. Never go to a strangers' home alone or let a stranger in your home.

    Automobile Security
    Keep valuables out of sight and do not leave paperwork in your car with your home address (includes GPS). Be on-guard when leaving your vehicle with groceries or other items. Lock your vehicle immediately upon entering. Leave space to maneuver when coming to a stop. Be a courteous driver. If hit from behind (fender-bender), stay in your car until the police arrive or if you feel the situation is unsafe, drive to the nearest gas station, store, etc... and call 911 (while driving if the situation warrants). Faking an "accident" is often a tactic used by criminals.

    Home Security
    Always keep garage and exterior doors locked. Never answer the door unless you are expecting someone. Have ample lighting around the exterior of the house. Leave an interior light on a timer. Have high quality deadbolt locks installed on all exterior doors along with strike plates and reinforce door frames. Get an alarm system and use it. When going out of town, stop the mail, newspaper and arrange to have someone shovel the stoop and driveway of snow. Arrange for lawn service to maintain the appearance that the home is occupied. Dogs make a good early-warning systems should someone enter your home. Utilize a paper shredder to destroy confidential documents prior to taking the trash out. Have a firearm strategically hidden in different areas of the home for fast access should one be needed (this may not be possible if children are around).

    Phone Security
    Utilize caller ID. Phone lines can easily be cut or tapped into from the outside. Consider going cell phone only. Never give personal information out over the phone. Banks etc... already have your information and would not be asking for it. Keep a cell phone with you at all times.

    Planning for Home Defense
    • Everyone in the family should be included.
    • Where does everyone retreat to should the alarm sound (safe room)?
    • What is the escape plan, route and roles and responsibilities in the event of a fire?
    • If you fail to plan you plan to fail!
    • Remember that, "Hope is not a strategy"

    Know Your Current Level of Awareness

    1. Condition White: Unaware
    2. Condition Yellow: Aware
    3. Condition Orange: Heightened Awareness
    4. Condition Red: Action
    5. Condition Black: The attack is underway


    White - In Condition White, one is unaware, not alert, and oblivious. This state can be characterized as "daydreaming" or "preoccupied". People in White tend to walk around with their heads down, as if watching their own feet.

    Yellow - This is a relaxed state of general alertness, with no specific focal point. You are not looking for anything or anyone in particular; you simply have your head up and your eyes open. You are alert and aware of your surroundings. You are difficult to surprise, therefore, you are difficult to harm. You do not expect to be attacked today. You simply recognize the possibility.

    Orange - This is a heightened state of alertness, with a specific focal point. The entire difference between Yellow and Orange is a specific target for your attention (the person or persons that pose a potential threat). Your focal point is the person who is doing whatever drew your attention to him. It might be the fact that he is wearing a field jacket in the middle of summer. It might be that he's standing by a column in the parking garage instead of going into the building or getting in a car and leaving. It might be that you have been in five stores at the mall, and saw this same guy in every one of them. His actions have caused you to take note of him, so you must assess him as a potential threat.

    How do you assess someone as a threat? You have to take into account the totality of the cues available to you. His clothing, appearance, demeanor, actions, anything he says to you, are all cues. The single most important cue is body language. About 80% of human communication is through body language. Predators display subtle pre-aggression indicators which are obvious once you learn to look for them. Most often the cue will be verbal that will allow the threat to move in close to you without causing you to flee or fight. Example: "Excuse me, but can I ask you a question?"

    As you assess this individual and you see things that convince you that he has malicious manifest intent, you should start to distance yourself from this person and begin playing the "What if…." game in your mind to begin formulating a basic plan of evasion and escape. This is how we get ahead of the power curve (action beats reaction). If he acts suddenly, we must have at least a rudimentary plan for dealing with him already in place, so that we can react swiftly enough. By saying to yourself, "That guy looks like he is about to rob me or someone else, what am I going to do about it?” - You begin the mental preparation vital to winning the conflict which also includes escape e.g. turning around and quickly heading back into the store. Keep in mind that predators often work in groups so be aware that the threat you are focused on may have associates nearby.

    Red - In Red, you are ready to fight if you weren't able to flee in condition Orange! In condition Red the opportunity to flee may present itself, however the window of opportunity is closing. The threat that you identified in condition Orange is now making their move against you or at a minimum positioning for the attack. You may, or may not, actually be fighting, but you are MENTALLY PREPARED to fight.

    Black - The attack is underway.

    When you believe a threat is real, and you have escalated to Red, you are waiting on the Mental Trigger, which is a specific, pre-determined action on his part that will result in an immediate, positive, aggressive, defensive reaction from you. This is how you achieve the speed necessary to win. By having a "pre-made decision" already set up in your mind, you can move physically fast enough to deal with the problem. Without that pre-made decision, the precious time in which you could have acted was wasted on trying to decide what to do after he starts his attack.

    The Mental Trigger will differ depending upon the circumstances. It could be, "If he swings that gun in my direction I will shoot him", for instance. It could be, “I have told him to stop, if he takes one more step toward me with that (knife/tire iron/screwdriver) in his hand, I'll shoot him". Whatever trigger is selected it is a button that, once pushed, results in immediate action on your part.

    Your main enemy is reaction time. If you are not aware of your surroundings, and fail to see the suspicious person, he may overwhelm you before you can marshal an effective defense. On the other hand, if you are thinking to yourself, "I may have to hurt that guy if he doesn't wise up"; you've probably already won that fight, because you have a better understanding of what is transpiring than he does! The best fight is over before the loser fully understands what just happened. If you are caught in Condition White, you will need five to six seconds to realize what is happening, get your wits together, and respond. You simply do not have that much time.

    A true story related to awareness (or lack thereof). Author Unknown.
    Contains profanity.


    Back in 1995 I lived in a quiet neighborhood in the SF East Bay with my wife of a few years and our 20 month old daughter. We had a small 3 bedroom two story house, and one of our second floor bedrooms doubled as my home office. One quiet Saturday morning I was in my office playing Command and Conquer on my computer with my headphones on, oblivious to the sounds of the outside world.

    I'd probably been playing for an hour or so when, during one particularly quiet moment, I faintly heard my wife cry out downstairs. Knowing that she was down there with our daughter, I pulled my headphones off to see if she needed help with anything. Until the day I take my last breath, I'll never forget what I heard when I pulled them off. I heard the voice of a man, with a thick Mexican accent, shout, "Quit yelling bitch, or I'll fucking cut your head off and fuck your fucking daughter!" My daughter was crying hysterically.

    After that, it was like some switch was thrown in me and my higher brain just shut off. I wasn't making decisions. I just acted. I don't even remember pulling the .45 from the lock-box in my desk, I just remember walking down the stairs slowly, scared as hell that I was going to see my wife dead when I reached the bottom. Instead, when I reached the bottom, I saw my wife half naked, bent over the couch, bleeding from somewhere in her upper body, while being raped from behind by some burly guy with a knife in his hand. He wasn't TRYING to rape her, he was in the middle of the deed and was probably nearing climax.

    I never said a word to the guy. Not while I was upstairs, not while I was coming down the stairs, and not when I walked into the room. His back was to me, so he had no idea I was even standing there.

    He was holding his knife in his right hand, so that was the arm I grabbed with my left when I pulled him off. He spun away from her and me with a confused look on his face, and I shot him square in the chest at nearly point blank range before he had a chance to say a single word. His face went pale as he went onto one knee, and I fired twice more. One hit his neck, and the second missed entirely. I was told later that the first shot was the fatal one.

    What happened next has always been a point of shame for me. The only thought going through my head at that point was that I couldn't let my daughter watch this man die. Without even checking on my wife, I scooped my daughter up and walked out my front door. As I walked out to my driveway, I saw one of my neighbors standing there staring at my house (he'd heard the gunshots). The poor guy went pale when he saw me walk out, and I vaguely remember asking him to hold my daughter while I went and checked on my wife. The neighbor asked me if I'd shot her, and I told him, "No, I shot the man who was raping her." I didn't realize at the time that I had the guys blood spray covering half my body, and that I looked like something out of a horror movie. I then handed him my daughter and my gun (I also have no idea why I gave him my gun), and went back into my house to help my wife.

    The police and DA gave me some flak about the exact circumstances of the shooting (one of the detectives told me that it was more of an "execution" than a "defense"), but in the end they declined to pursue any charges. The man who attacked her turned out to be a guy with serious mental issues who had been previously convicted of two violent rapes, one of which was against a 9 year old girl. Under California's then-new 3 Strikes law, he'd have gone to prison for life if I hadn't killed him.

    As for recovery; I like to think that I've recovered from it, but it certainly induced a few behavioral changes. To this day, for example, I can't wear headphones that block out background noise. Even after years of counseling, over-ear and noise cancelling headphones give me panic attacks because I can't hear what's happening around me. I found out later that he'd been raping my wife for nearly 10 minutes before I heard him, and that he'd actually told my wife THREE TIMES that he was going to rape my daughter when he was finished with her. I was sitting 30 feet away and had no idea it was going on, and that fact has fucked with me for years.

    My wife had a much worse time of it though. In addition to two stab wounds to her shoulder and upper arm, and the bruising and injuries from the forceful rape, she ended up having a mental break and took years to really recover. For the first 6 months, she absolutely could not be in any room by herself. For more than a year, she couldn't be in a house by herself (and she NEVER reentered the house where this happened). For several years, she'd break out in a sweat when she heard men with deep Hispanic accents talking, because she'd hear his voice again. Even now, decades later, she starts shaking if you try to talk to her about it. She's fine in every other sense, but even discussing it freaks her out.


    A topic that comes up frequently is related to shooting dogs that may pose a threat. A prudent person would talk to a lawyer before following this statute to the letter.


    Any person may kill any dog that the person knows is affected with the disease known as hydrophobia, or that may suddenly attack while the person is peacefully walking or riding and while being out of the enclosure of its owner or keeper, and may kill any dog found killing, wounding, or worrying any horses, cattle, sheep, lambs, or other domestic animals.


    (7297-49) 1939 c 410 s 9; 1986 c 444


    Firearm safety is a serious matter not only while carrying your firearm loaded and on your person, but at home as well. Most gun accidents occur because of ignorance relating to the operation of the firearm, such as how to check that it is unloaded or as a result of mishandling and not understanding safety techniques. Carelessness becomes a factor when someone experienced with a firearm becomes lax with regard to safety and forgets certain rules like always assuming a gun is loaded or the individual handles a firearm while intoxicated.

    People that choose to own firearms must maintain a positive attitude and learn to respect firearms. Forgetting simple safety rules can result in death or permanent injury to yourself or someone else. Therefore, attitude, knowledge and skill are all important factors in responsible and safe gun handling.

    The fundamental rules for safe gun handling include:

    • Treat all firearms as if they are loaded
    • Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction
    • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
    • Keep the firearm unloaded and safely stored until ready for use (a firearm designated for self-defense is considered to be in use)

    Beyond the fundamental gun safety rules, there are other considerations to keep in mind when handling a firearm. These include:
    • Knowing your target and what is beyond. For example, if you are target shooting and you miss your intended target, do you know where your bullet may travel and the potential range of your bullet? In other words, is it completely safe to shoot in the direction in which you are shooting?
    • Know how to use your gun safely. Consult your owners manual and seek firearms training if necessary
    • Ensure that your firearm is safe to operate. Is the firearm old and rusty or have you checked the firearm for excessive wear that could result in weakening the strength of your firearm, posing a threat to your safety
    • Have you checked that you are using ammunition that is rated for use in your gun? Cross reference the caliber in the owners manual with the markings on the firearm to ensure proper ammunition type
    • To ensure your own safety, always wear ear and eye protection when shooting your firearm. Not doing so may damage your hearing or debris may become lodged in your eye
    • Never use alcohol or drugs before shooting. Doing so impairs judgment and common sense
    • Properly store all firearms so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons, including children and others forbidden to be possession of a firearm based on state and federal laws
    • Never handle a firearm if you are in an emotional state of mind such as anger or suffering from depression. As with the use of drugs and alcohol, being in an emotional state of mind clouds judgment and common sense. In addition, if there are family members that experience bouts of emotional states, use drugs or alcohol, it is in your best interest to ensure your firearms are not accessible to these individuals
    • Training and education is important in the prevention of accidents. Educate your children and family members on firearms and the safety rules and guidelines regarding gun safety. Educate children so they know what is seen on television is not always reality (if ever)
    • Teach your children that if they should find a firearm, they should not touch the gun and should leave the area and report the situation to an adult. The police should be contacted when a firearm is found as it may be evidence in a crime

    Handgun Retention
    Individuals with a permit-to-carry need to be specifically concerned about maintaining control of their firearm. For starters, a quality holster is important to protect firearms from physical damage and to cover the trigger to help guard against accidents. If you should have to flee from an attacker, a good holster will help prevent the gun from falling to the ground while you are running.

    Some manufacturers make holsters designed to lock the gun in-place and require the push of a button or paddle lever to draw the firearm. This aids in retention and also helps prevent gun-grabs. The downside is that it is an additional step to get your firearm into action should the need arise.

    Another issue regarding gun retention is how the gun is held. Holding a gun in the hand with your arm fully extended makes it easier for someone to grab your firearm by employing an arm and gun twist in order to take your firearm away from you. For a trained attacker, disarming someone with a gun can be done very quickly if the attacker is allowed to get close enough. Distance will aid in firearm retention.

    In order to help retain your firearm throughout a self-defense scenario, keep your gun in one hand and close to your body. Utilize your free hand to block your attacker. The concept here is to protect your gun from falling into the hands of a criminal and keeping you safe at the same time. Most altercations happen within a distance of ten (10) feet and realistically, most confrontations are much closer. When using your firearm to protect yourself, you will not have the time for proper stance and sight alignment.

    Safe Storage of Firearms and Ammunition
    When not in use, firearms and ammunition need to be responsibly stored in a secure location so that unauthorized persons cannot gain access. Restricting access can be accomplished by purchasing a gun safe or investing in relatively inexpensive gun locks that disable the firearm, usually requiring a key to make the gun functional again.

    Ideally (according to the NRA), firearms and ammunition should be store separately and firearms should always be stored unloaded. Storing the firearm and ammunition separately adds another layer of safety. The exception to keeping firearms unloaded would be for guns used for personal defense. A personal defense firearm is to be considered “in use” and it is assumed that personal defense firearms are always loaded.

    In some but not all states, parents are legally liable for the actions of their children when it comes to firearms in the home, negligence and gun accidents. Take the time to teach your children about guns and secure your firearms and ammunition to avoid accidents (MN 609.666 Negligent Storage of Firearms).

    Safely Interacting with Law Enforcement and Others
    In the State of Minnesota, there is no duty to disclose the fact that you have a Permit to Carry and are armed unless you are specifically asked. The fact that you are armed and have a Permit to Carry only needs to be disclosed if and when you are asked by a state or federal law enforcement officer. You are under no obligation to disclose this information to anyone else, i.e, security guards, retail store clerks, strangers, friends and others that are not licensed law enforcement officers.

    When asked by a law enforcement officer (LEO) if you are armed, always state that you have a Permit to Carry, you are carrying a firearm, and identify the location of the firearm verbally. Do not make sudden movements or pull out the firearm to show it to the officer. Always keep your hands in open view. Listen carefully to the officer’s instructions and do exactly what you are told. If there are instructions given that you do not understand, ask for clarification. Always be polite and honest.

    During traffic stops, the same guidelines apply. Be polite, answer all questions truthfully and keep your hands in a visible location. In the State of Minnesota, your Permit to Carry information is not available on Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records; therefore, do not assume that when an officer runs your license plate or drivers license that he/she will become aware that you have a Permit to Carry. The Permit to Carry database is accessible to police, but not typically part of a routine check. Having said this, if you believe your firearm will be seen by the officer during a routine traffic stop, consider disclosing that you have a Permit to Carry and are in fact carrying a loaded firearm. This will most likely be better than having the gun discovered accidentally.

    Never surrender your firearm to anyone other than a uniformed police officer. This is for your safety and the safety of others. If someone in plain clothes tells you they are a police officer and asks you to surrender your gun, if there is any reasonable doubt that this person is not law enforcement, request that they call for a uniformed officer. This would seem to be a reasonable request baring any other circumstances. The use of good common sense applies here. Did the person flash a badge quickly or did the individual allow you to inspect the badge along with an identification card and photograph? Is it 3AM on a deserted highway where you might not reasonably expect an “undercover” officer or is it 3PM in the electronics section of Best Buy? What were you doing to attract the attention of law enforcement? Put the situation into context and you should reasonably be able to know what the proper course of action should be.

    In the State of Minnesota, you may carry concealed or carry openly. While open carry might provide some flexibility and convenience, most self-defense instructors and Permit to Carry holders do not favor open carry. The two primary reasons are: (1) there is a high probability that anyone who sees you with a handgun will call the police and law enforcement will be forced to waste their time and yours investigating your lawful right to carry, (2) you are alerting potential attackers that you have a gun which eliminates or greatly reduces your tactical advantage. Why give others the advance notice that you are carrying a firearm?

    Fundamentals of Handgun Use and Mechanical Knowledge
    There are numerous brands and types of firearms on the market today. However, with most modern handguns, there are generally two types: the revolver and the semi-automatic pistol. Each type can be found with either a single action or double action firing mechanism.

    With single action revolvers, the trigger mechanism performs only one function, to release the hammer or striker. Manually pulling the hammer back or rearward (cocking) on a revolver will rotate the cylinder and place the cartridge in alignment with the barrel and firing pin. Pulling the trigger will release the hammer which then strikes the firing pin and in-turn strikes the primer of the cartridge.

    With double action revolvers, the trigger mechanism performs two functions: to cock the gun and release the hammer or striker in one action (the pulling of the trigger). With a double action revolver, the gun can be manually cocked (like a single action) and fired or the trigger of the gun may simply be pulled, allowing the guns action to automatically cock and release the hammer.

    All revolvers and semi-automatic handguns have a grip, barrel, front sight, rear sight and a means of loading and unloading the firearm. Revolvers and semi-automatics differ in how the handguns are loaded, unloaded and how rounds (cartridges) are chambered.

    Modern revolvers will typically hold between five (5) and six (6) rounds in the cylinder. Depending on caliber, a revolver may hold as many as seven (7) rounds, e.g., some .22 caliber revolvers. With revolvers, they are generally not very complicated and novice shooters will find the revolver to be fairly intuitive as far as loading, unloading and shooting.

    Modern semi-automatic pistols will typically hold six (6) to eighteen (18) rounds depending on the physical size of the gun, caliber, magazine type (stacked or staggered) and whether or not a magazine extender is used. Some pistols can accommodate larger magazines than the gun was originally designed for. For example, all 9mm Glock pistols will accommodate Glock’s 32 round magazine even though the pistol was designed for and comes with a 15 round magazine (Glock model 19 for example).

    Semi-automatics are generally considered to be more complicated to operate than revolvers. This is due to the fact that semi-automatic pistols have more moving parts and so there is more to remember when using a pistol versus a revolver. Because pistols are more complex firearms, these semi-autos are generally more prone to failure and ammunition “feeding” issues. The shooter therefore needs to know how to remedy these feeding issues, jams and other malfunctions in the field. Do not let these issues deter you from purchasing a semi-auto.

    Semi-automatic handguns come with either a single action or double action firing mechanism. On double-action pistols, once a cartridge has been chambered, the hammer can be de-cocked and the safety engaged. When the safety is taken off and the trigger is pulled, pulling the trigger cocks the pistol and also releases the hammer causing the gun to fire. After the first round is fired, the pistols action will automatically cycle causing the fired cartridge to be ejected, a new cartridge to be chambered and the hammer will be cocked in the ready or firing position, waiting for the shooter to pull the trigger.

    With single action semi-automatics, when a cartridge is chambered, the gun is always in a ‘cocked’ state, whether or not the gun has an exposed hammer, eg., Kimber 1911, or internal striker, e.g., Springfield XD9.

    Using the Kimber 1911 as an example, this gun is carried safely in a cocked and locked fashion. While the hammer is cocked, a manually operated safety is engaged. In addition, there is also a grip safety that is automatically engaged when the shooter is not holding the pistol. When the shooter is ready to fire, gripping the Kimber automatically disengages the grip safety and the shooter is then required to manually disengage the thumb safety in order to fire the gun.

    The Glock 19 has no exposed hammer. This gun uses an internal striker. With the exception of the passive trigger safety, all the safety features of the Glock are internal to the gun and cannot physically be operated by the shooter. To disengage all safeties on the Glock pistol, the shooter simply pulls the trigger. Many people like this because when a situation is hot, there may be little or no time to think about the buttons and levers on your gun in order to remove the safety prior to firing.

    Because there are so many different types of firearms, everyone that owns a firearm is encouraged to read their owners manual or seek help from someone familiar with your type of gun. The specifics regarding operation of all types of guns cannot possibly be covered in this document. Read your manual and remember the safety rules previously mentioned.
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