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The Concealed Handgun Manual
How to Choose, Carry, and Shoot a Gun in Self Defense
By Chris Bird
Privateer Publications Copyright © 2011 Chris Bird
All rights reserved.
Mass Shootings: In Search of Answers
The most frequent use of a gun in self-defense is when an ordinary citizen feels threatened by a human predator and produces a gun — usually a handgun. The potential robber, rapist, or murderer sees the gun, realizes his victim selection process needs revision, and takes off faster than a shotgun slug goes through a sheetrock wall. No one gets hurt, usually the incident is not reported to the police, and there is almost never a report of the incident in the local paper or on the local television news — no blood, no story.
The other end of the media attention scale is when a disturbed individual turns up at a place where many people are congregated — a school, a mall, a church, a workplace — and starts shooting, killing and wounding as many people as possible. These are the incidents that get splashed over the airwaves, television cables, and newspapers across the country. These shootings are usually accompanied by screams for more gun control by those people who think more laws will solve everything.
When the shooting starts, the flight response will kick in for most people. In various mental states, from thinking self-preservation to outright panic, they will run as fast as deer from a cougar away from the gunfire. However, there are a few people who, from instinct or training, will head for the sound of the guns. Joe Zamudio is one of these few.
Tucson, January 8, 2011
Twenty-four-year-old Zamudio was not supposed to be anywhere near the Safeway grocery store in Tucson on January 8, 2011. He normally works Monday to Friday at his mother's art gallery, selling paintings and delivering them to customers. Saturday was supposed to be his day off, but his mother asked him to come in to the gallery to help her with a special event. He and his mother finished breakfast at a nearby bakery about 10 a.m.
He got into his truck and drove across the shopping center parking lot to the Walgreen's drug store next to the Safeway. As usual, he was accompanied by his dog Buddy, a black Labrador mix and, as usual, he had his gun, a Ruger P-95 semi-automatic, in an inside jacket pocket. Also, as usual, the fifteen-round magazine had only about eight rounds in it.
"I don't keep my clips [magazines] fully loaded," Zamudio said.
What was not usual was that he had a round in the chamber. Usually, when he puts the gun in his pocket in the morning, he will put the magazine in, but does not rack the slide to put a round in the chamber.
"That morning, who knows why, I chambered a round," he said.
Zamudio is left-handed, so carries the gun in his right-hand inside coat pocket for a cross draw.
He parked and, leaving Buddy in the truck, he walked towards the entrance of the drug store. He intended to buy a pack of cigarettes, and that too was odd. He said he had bought a pack the evening before and had smoked only one. Normally his cigarettes go everywhere with him, but on this day he had left the smokes at home, so he needed to buy more.
As he walked towards Walgreens, he noticed a crowd of people around a table in front of the Safeway. Although he didn't know it at the time, it was an outreach event where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with constituents.
"I thought, I wonder what's going on," Zamudio said.
He decided to get his cigarettes first, then see what had attracted the crowd.
"That decision is the hardest one for me, because I feel like if I hadn't gone into the store first, and I had gone down there, then I would have been in a better position maybe to stop him sooner," Zamudio reflected.
He went into the store and got his cigarettes. He had swiped his debit card to pay for them, but hadn't finished the transaction when he heard the shots. There was a burst of them, fired very fast, too fast for accurate shooting, he said.
"He was shooting at a pile of people. They had nowhere to move: there was a wall behind them, columns in front, they were penned in there. It was literally like shooting fish in a barrel. He didn't have to aim; that's why he was able to hurt so many people so fast."
Zamudio realized immediately that what he was hearing was gunfire. He ran out through the door of Walgreens, heading for the sound of the shooting.
"I know when I came through the doorway, I had my hand on my gun and the safety was off," he said. He did not draw his gun.
A man outside the door was shouting: "Shooter, shooter, get down." Zamudio ran past him towards the group of people.
"This is where it really got scary," he said.
He saw an older man getting up off the ground with a gun in his hand. He could see an extended magazine protruding from the bottom of the gun.
"Luckily, I saw that the slide was locked open."
He realized that the gun would not fire in that condition, so he did not draw his own gun.
"I'm still moving, and it's still pretty intense. I've got my hand on my gun, I'm like scared, all these people are hurting, screaming already, crying. The man who's holding the guy on the ground is all bloody. That was the first person I saw all bloody.
"It becomes crystal clear: somebody just shot a bunch of people, and I see this guy holding a gun, so I think that he's the shooter," Zamudio said.
He heard the man holding the gun say: "I'll kill you, you mother------, I'll kill you."
"The problem for me is, as an outside responder who didn't see the shooter shoot people, I see a guy holding a gun and a bunch of people shot, so I thought, I need to shoot him. But I saw he couldn't shoot me, and in that split second I decided I didn't have to, so I didn't."
Zamudio charged the man and grabbed the gun, twisting it away from himself and towards the man holding it. Zamudio pushed the older man up against the wall and told him to drop the gun. At that point, seventy-four-year-old Bill Badger, who was holding the shooter on the ground, and Patricia Maisch, sixty-one, who was helping him, yelled at Zamudio that the man he was holding was not the shooter. The young man being held down by Badger and Maisch was the gunman.
Initially Zamudio was suspicious of what he was being told, but then realized Badger and Maisch were telling him the truth. However, he was not going to allow the older man to keep holding the gun.
Zamudio told the man: "Just drop it; put it on the ground. Make us feel safe; nobody feels safe right now."
The man let go of the gun, a Glock Model 19, and it fell to the ground. Zamudio told him to put his foot on it. Zamudio said he never did learn the name of the older man holding the gun.
Zamudio then helped Badger, a retired Army National Guard colonel, hold the suspect down until the police arrived. Relieved by Zamudio of holding the suspect down, Maisch ran into the grocery store and grabbed a handful of paper towels to tend to Badger, who was bleeding from a head wound. Earlier she had wrestled a full magazine away from the suspect as he was trying to reload.
When the police arrived, they arrested twenty-two-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. He was later charged with murdering six people, including federal District Judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, and wounding fourteen, including Badger. Representative Giffords, who apparently was the target of the shooter, was shot through the brain, but survived.
He Ran to the Sound of Gunfire
As the only person other than the shooter who had a gun at the scene, Zamudio showed admirable restraint and judgment. He is aware that, if the slide on the Glock had not been locked back, he might have drawn his own gun and shot the wrong man.
I asked him why he ran to the sound of gunfire. This was his response: "I didn't think about it — it was a reaction. I believe now, when I think about it, that having the gun and being comfortable and familiar with it gave me a giant confidence boost to be able in that situation to do something appropriate. I know that I am very comfortable carrying a gun all the time, and I feel responsible to help people in my daily life, with or without a gun. I always hold doors for ladies, and I always stop and help somebody with a flat tire. I'm like a nice guy, I always help people. I think that it's my natural nature to want to help and to protect, plus the confidence of knowing if there is a shooter out there shooting people, I can stop him."
Joe Zamudio learned to shoot from his father, a Vietnam veteran who worked for the prison service. Although his father and mother split up when he was two, he maintained a good relationship with his father while living with his mother, he said. His father was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and could not get around much after that. One thing he and his father could share was shooting, Zamudio said.
Since the shooting, Zamudio said he always carries his gun with a round in the chamber.
"There would never be time to chamber one," he said. "You don't have that extra second."
John Benner is a retired police lieutenant with extensive experience as a firearms instructor and SWAT commander. He is also a Vietnam veteran. Benner runs Tactical Defense Institute, a shooting school that teaches the usual handgun courses to civilians and law-enforcement officers. In addition, Benner puts on a three-day course called Active Killer-Shooter for civilians. He says that most active-shooter situations are resolved by civilians before police arrive on the scene. Therefore, he feels it is important that interested citizens should receive training in how to deal with what police call active-shooter situations.
Benner says most of these shooters are not well trained and can be stopped by civilians whether they are armed, like Joe Zamudio, or not, like Bill Badger.
"Most of the shooters really aren't that good. These are people that are going into a place, generally a gun-free zone, and they're carrying out their task. They are intent on shooting people, and that's what they pay attention to. Consequently, taking them is really not all that difficult," Benner says.
"Where the difficulty comes in: when do you display your firearm? Do you start to run through some place with the firearm out? Now maybe another concealed-carry holder, or an off-duty police officer, or an on-duty police officer, sees you running with a gun in your hand. Now that could be a malfunction."
It was just that type of "malfunction" that Zamudio avoided by keeping the gun in his pocket.
There are many things that can happen during active-shooter situations, which is why TDI's Active Killer-Shooter course involves a whole day of scenario-based training, Benner says.
"People get to see all these different scenarios play out. We let them participate in all of them, the ones they do themselves, and they participate as the role players in the other ones."
New Life Church, December 9, 2007
Jeanne Assam is another person who ran to the sound of gunfire. When she awoke at 5 a.m., she was hungry. She was on the last day of a three-day religious fast, but the hunger pangs were not excessive. The first day was always the worst. She was fasting in the hope of discovering what God wanted her to do with the rest of her life. Before the day was over, He would give her a hint.
She sat up in bed and started to read her Bible. Normally on a Sunday she would go to New Life Church, where she was a member and where she was also a volunteer security officer. She was having doubts about whether to continue in law enforcement or try something else. She had been a police officer in Minneapolis for five years, then moved to Colorado, where she had held several law-enforcement jobs. She was qualified as a police officer in the state, though she was not working for a police agency at the time.
Assam had decided to stay in her apartment this Sunday, December 9, 2007, to contemplate her maker and her future and not to go to the church with its cafeteria, where she might be tempted to break her fast.
About 8:30 she decided she needed a break from the scriptures and, still in her pajamas, got out of bed and went to her computer. She went to the MSN home page and, in the top right-hand corner, immediately saw a story about a shooting in Avarda, a Denver suburb about seventy-five miles north of her Colorado Springs apartment.
The story said two people had been killed and two more wounded at a Christian missionary training school called Youth With A Mission or YWAM. The gunman, who was not named, was still on the loose. His description was vague: white male in his twenties, possibly wearing a skull cap and glasses, maybe a beard — no height or weight.
"I knew in my gut that he was going to come to New Life. I just was certain. I don't know how I knew, other than it was God telling me, get to church," she said.
She phoned the head of the security team and told him she was coming to the church. Then she got into the shower.
"When I was showering, I knew that there was a chance that I might not be coming home that day. I mean, I just knew it. This is how certain I was that he was coming to that church. I just thought, either I'm going to come home, or I'm not going to come home; I'll be killed."
To that point in her life, she had not felt anything as compelling as the feeling she was going to confront that gunman. She felt she couldn't warn the security team because, other than this premonition, she had no evidence that the gunman was going to the New Life Church.
"I was just like, I've got an assignment: he's coming, and I'm going to take him out," Assam said.
She dressed in jeans, a short-sleeved sweater, and a black blazer to cover her gun. The gun was the Beretta 92FS that she had carried when she was a police officer in Minneapolis. It was loaded with fifteen rounds of 9mm hollow-points in the magazine and one in the chamber. She did not carry any spare magazines, as she didn't feel she would need them.
"I just knew God was going to be with me. I didn't know what the outcome was going to be, because you never know what God is going to do. But I felt, I've got enough here, I've got my gun and my rounds, and I've got God."
She got into her car and drove the mile to New Life Church. The morning was bright and cold. There was snow on the ground, but the sky was clear. The blizzard that had been predicted had not materialized, but it was twenty degrees Fahrenheit. As she drove, Assam recited scripture from memory.
The church has more than 10,000 members and is located on a property of thirty-five acres on the north side of Colorado Springs. Assam arrived about 10:15. She was the only female member of the church's volunteer security team. In addition to the volunteer security officers, four Colorado Springs police officers in uniform were present. Two of them patrolled the extensive parking lot in their patrol cars, and two were stationed in the buildings.
Normally Assam would be assigned to protect the pastor during the second service but, because she was armed and a qualified police officer, she was posted in the lobby outside the huge sanctuary and in the long hallway that led to it.
The second service let out late, at about 12:40. Normally it would let out at about 12:20, but there was a guest speaker, so there were more people present than usual.
"The cop next to me looked at his watch — it showed 12:45 — and said, 'I'm out of here.'"
There were still hundreds of people milling about. The volunteer security team would not leave until almost all the members had left.
Meanwhile, Matthew Murray, a troubled twenty-four-year-old, was sitting in his red Toyota Camry in the parking lot. The previous evening he had turned up at the Youth With A Mission training center in Arvada and asked to stay the night. After making some cell-phone calls, he was asked to leave by staff member Tiffany Johnson. He pulled a handgun and began shooting, killing Johnson and Philip Crouse and wounding two others. Murray went home, but left the next morning for the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
He waited in his car until he saw the four uniformed Colorado Springs police officers leave the church parking lot in their patrol cars. He apparently drove around the church, setting off at least two smoke bombs, then he parked in the northeast parking lot.
About one o'clock a volunteer at the information booth in the lobby caught Assam's attention. He pointed towards the front doors and told her a church member had said something weird was going on outside. Assam approached the man and asked him what was happening. He said a smoke grenade or smoke bomb had been set off outside the front doors.
She went outside to investigate. An usher who was driving by joined her. They found what looked about the size of a stick of dynamite, but was light blue or light grey in color with commercial writing on it. Dense white smoke was pouring from it. Assam didn't want to get too close to it, because she didn't know if the smoke was poisonous or if the device might explode.
"People were so naive that they were walking through this smoke like it was nothing," she said.
Excerpted from The Concealed Handgun Manual by Chris Bird. Copyright © 2011 Chris Bird. Excerpted by permission of Privateer Publications.
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