Earlier today, I was invited to participate in an episode of the very popular National Public Radio (NPR) Show “Talk of the Nation”. TotN is probably one of the most popular non-syndicated radio shows in the country and I was excited about the opportunity.
Obviously, most people in “gun world” probably believe that NPR is nothing more than an example of radical left wing liberal media at its worst. Personally, I have not found that to be the case. During the many hours I spend driving around the country from training venue to to training venue, I find myself tuning in to NPR from time to time to listen to a few of their shows that are actually pretty good examples of centrist thought and fair presentations. I also enjoy some of the science and technology shows, which are pretty much politically neutral. I have said time and time again that I think far too many gun owners limit themselves, their sphere of influence and our cause by spending too much (if not all) their time preaching to the choir and resigning themselves to how “they” on the other side will never change. The biggest flaw I see there is that it leaves out the vast majority on non-pro-gun people in this country: The Middle. There are millions of non-committed, ambivalent and gun-agnostic people in this country. And, they don’t hang out in gun shops, they aren’t at your local trap shooting event and they don’t tune in to Armed American Radio, GunTalk or The Outdoor Channel. If you want to reach them, educate them, inform them and win them to our side, you have to give up the extremist posturing and go meet them on their turf.
This was not to be my first foray out of the safety of gun world media. I’ve had a positive gun article in USA Today, my training has been featured on World News Tonight and I’ve even been on the Daily Show (it was funny, watch it HERE!). In my experience, crossing the line over to the dreaded “main stream media” has always won at least a few people over. Sometimes it is a very obvious result like someone buying a book or signing up for a class and saying, “I found out about your company while watching …..” . Other times, I’ll be told by an existing friend or student that one of their friends or family members read about private sector training in an article and decided to seek out a class or try shooting for the first time. Obviously, for any number of people that I actually know are affected by crossing the lines, there must be others…. many others. Furthermore, as a (somewhat self-appointed) representative of responsible gun owners, I feel like I have a strong obligation to not push any of those middle-grounders away. Which means that when I do cross the line into the middle ground (or even venture all the way into the left’s territory), I need to be very careful not to say things that might offend the middle. I take it for granted that there will be those on the extreme anti-gun side that might try to twist my words. I knowingly run the risk that I might slip up and actually give them something that they can use against us. I try to balance that known risk against what I perceive as the benefit of winning over a few more of the middle ground. I honestly believe that they are the ones that will help us win our fight. I strongly encourage everyone to gauge their risk level, step out of the “preach to the choir” mode and see if you can reap some of the benefits of educating the middle ground in regard to our Rights and Responsibilities as Firearms Owners.
Turns out that NPR represents part of the middle ground in the American Media. I provided a little tongue-in-cheek essay earlier today to let everyone at The Truth About Guns comparing going on NPR to talk about guns with a visit to the Mos Eisley spaceport… the infamously wretched hive of “scum and villainy” that the heroes were forced to visit in Star Wars in order to reap the benefit of a smuggler to get them off the planet. I can tell you honestly that there wasn’t a single hint of villainy and not a drop of scum involved in the experience with NPR’s Talk of the Nation today. In fact, a producer conducted a 30 minute interview with me before the show and the questions that I was asked by host Neil Conan during the live broadcast clearly represented an awareness of what I wanted to talk about and an intention to let me present my points and articulate my ideas. They did a great job producing a very fair show today on using guns for personal defense.
Take a Listen to the show at THIS LINK and let me know what you think and, if you have a friend in the middle ground, maybe think about sharing it with them. I have also included a transcript of my portion of the show below.
TRANSCRIPT of 2/5/2013 NPR’s Talk of the Nation
CONAN: Joining us now is someone who trains gun owners on responsible use of their weapons. Rob Pincus is a personal defense and shooting instructor in Bexley, Ohio, where owns ICE Training Services. He’s also managing editor of Personal Defense Network. He joins us by smartphone from Bexley. Nice to have you with us today.
ROB PINCUS: Great to be here, Neal, thank you for having me.
CONAN: And what do you tell your students about pulling weapons in a situation where you’re pulling weapons on somebody, pulling a gun on somebody?
PINCUS: We talk a lot about should versus could. A lot of the debate in the firearms industry revolves around the laws. And of course the laws vary from state to state, and the laws vary from city to city in some states. And of course we have instructors who work in Europe, in the different places where the laws are dramatically different than they are here in the U.S.
So the conversation of what you can do legally becomes very convoluted very quickly. And the reality is while we certainly advocate that responsible firearms owners are going to follow all the laws and be very aware of the laws, the reality in that moment comes down to whether or not you should use a firearm.
And we simply talk about the ultimate (technical difficulty) self or others and that that’s really the only reason why you should be presenting a defensive firearm inside your home, outside of your home. The reason needs to be…
CONAN: And I hate to interrupt you, Rob. Rob, I hate to interrupt you, but your smartphone is betraying you. So if you wouldn’t mind picking up the regular phone, and let’s see if we can do it that way. And are you there?
PINCUS: You got it. We got a backup plan here. Is this working now?
CONAN: This is plan B. But thanks very much for coming. Yes, it sounds good. So you were saying it’s the difference, the only situation in which you should pull a firearm on somebody is immediate threat.
PINCUS: Yeah, it’s when you need to. So it’s not an issue of can you pull your firearm, which a lot of people enter into the conversation, they say it’s legal, is this allowed. It really comes down to need. Once you’ve met all the legal requirements to have the firearm and be a responsible firearms owner, do you need to use the firearm to defend yourself or someone else?
CONAN: And I assume there’s a lot of, well, deprogramming to do after all the gunplay we’ve seen on TV and the movies.
PINCUS: Well, when it comes to the actual use of the firearm, absolutely. A lot of what we see in the media, the entertainment media, isn’t the best way to use a firearm, and in a lot of cases even a smart way to use a firearm. Quite often, you know, the drama in the action movie scene comes when the good guy gets the gun taken away or the gun kicked out of his hand or something, and that’s when the fight ensues. So we definitely teach things a little differently than what people see on the big screen.
CONAN: So the situations, though, are – you know, people are unaccustomed to being in situations like that. It’s difficult enough for police officers or people in the military.
PINCUS: Absolutely. We approach all of our training from a personal defense, a home defense standpoint or even for the military and law enforcement that we train from what we call a counter-ambush point of view. In other words, if you knew the attack was coming, especially in the personal issues, you would have avoided the fight. You wouldn’t have gone to mall that day. You wouldn’t have opened the door for that person that you thought was, you know, selling Girl Scout cookies or something. You get ambushed, you get caught off-guard.
So your training, your preparation needs to take that into account. And that’s why the responsible gun owner really can’t be thinking about doing a legal cross-reference in the heat of the moment. They need to be thinking about do they need to defend themselves, or do they not need to, and that’s really the crux of the responsibility issue of presenting a firearm.
As your other guest Walter mentioned earlier, if someone presents that firearm, but they’re not really willing to use it, they don’t need to use it, it can actually cause more of a problem.
CONAN: So if you’re going to pull a gun on somebody, be ready to use it.
PINCUS: Yeah, and that’s the idea. You don’t present that firearm. It’s different in the military, it’s different in law enforcement, where you may use that firearm as a challenge. And certainly in personal defense situations, we do sometimes see what we call a psychological effect, where someone will present a firearm, and a bad guy will decide, well, I guess that person isn’t a victim, that person isn’t one of the sheep, and that person can protect themselves, so they’ll change their mind.
And of course there’s time for the person defending themselves to stop and to not shoot or to not continue to shoot once we get that psychological stop. But once that firearm is brought into play, there’s a responsibility to be able to defend yourself and use it and protect that firearm from falling into the bad guy’s hands.
And this is really a decision that has to be made when someone chooses to own that firearm for personal defense in the first place.
CONAN: And I assume responsible gun ownership involves more than a couple of days of training.
PINCUS: Well, it depends. The reality is that we have courses everywhere from four to six hours for people who are interested in learning how to select the right firearm and learning how to store it properly in their home, learning the basics of home defense. And then it really comes down to practice.
So formal training could simply be a few hours, some exposure to some basic ideas, or it could be several days. We have some students who will take, you know, five days a year of formal training. Some will only take four, six or eight hours in their entire lives, but they’ll maintain those basic fundamental skills through a practice regimen that makes sense for their lifestyle and budget.
CONAN: And we’re talking today about people who have had to pull their gun on somebody. How often has that happened to your students? Has that happened to you?
PINCUS: In law enforcement, I have had to – you know, I had my firearm deployed and pointed at people to challenge them or keep them from doing something that would have resulted in me or someone else getting hurt. Luckily in the private sector I’ve never had to pull a firearm to defend myself, certainly never had to do it inside of my own home.
Many of our students, obviously as armed professionals, have used their firearms to defend themselves. And some of our citizens that are students also have used them inside the home and outside the home. And several of them have had to shoot, unfortunately.
But as you alluded to earlier, if they’re there to report the story and to tell us what happened, good, bad, wrong, right, what part of the training worked and what lessons they have to share with others, then that’s much better than just being a victim of violent crime.
CONAN: And if you could point to one lesson that we could take away, what would it be?
PINCUS: The lesson is not to think that the training should be controlled and choreographed. The lesson is that, you know, if you saw it coming, you would have avoided it. And that’s always going to be the smart choice and the right choice, to not have to use the firearm. You don’t go into a situation that you know might be dangerous simply because you’re armed. Instead, being armed causes you to avoid those confrontations even more.
If you take your safety and your personal defense seriously enough to have a firearm, then you certainly should be locking your doors and avoiding dangerous places and dangerous people.
CONAN: And do you pronounce the easy acronym of your I-C-E training services? Is it ICE training services?
PINCUS: Usually that’s the default, but we do try to make sure that people realize it stands for integrity, consistency and efficiency. So we emphasize that it is I-C-E Training Company.
CONAN: All right, thanks very much for being with us today. We appreciate your time.
PINCUS: Thank you, you, Neal. Appreciate you having me.
CONAN: Rob Pincus with us from Bexley, Ohio. Let’s see if we get another caller in on the conversation. Let’s go to Ross, and Ross is on the line with us from Saint Louis.