What is a Pistol?

What is a Pistol?

Sometimes when I am teaching CCW classes, I will spring a pop quiz on my students as a means of prompting them to think about things in different ways. One of my favorite questions is: What is the first rule of a gunfight?

All the students who have been reading gun magazines and posts on social media will answer with the typically cocky and self-assured response: Have a gun!  Well, that makes for a good t-shirt or bumper sticker, but I have a different idea. I train people that the first rule of a gunfight is simple: Don’t get shot.

If you get shot, you greatly reduce your chances of winning the gunfight. So, I train my students to think and act with that in mind. Try to avoid situations that look like they might lead to a fight. If a fight is imminent, get moving. Look for and move toward cover FIRST—or at least as you draw your pistol. If you just stand still and trade shots, you run a serious risk of getting killed. Yep, you have a gun, but unless you are avoiding the incoming rounds, things will go badly for you. Even if you don’t have a gun when the shooting starts, if you are thinking about what it takes to not get shot, you are far more likely to survive the gunfight.

The next question I ask students appears to be the most confusing. I ask: What is a pistol? Then I sit back and wait to see what the students come up with. I have heard all sorts of answers — some practical, some philosophical, some whimsical. What I tell them is a combination of all three.

“A pistol is a piece of emergency life-saving equipment. Just like a fire extinguisher.”

Just like a fire extinguisher, you only use your gun in a true emergency. Just like a fire extinguisher, you need to have training and a solid understanding of how to use the gun. Just like a fire extinguisher, you should have a gun handy so it is there when you need it. And finally, just like a fire extinguisher, prevention is the best option. If you can take steps to prevent the use of either the gun or the fire extinguisher, you’ll be very far ahead of the game.

When the gun haters start the debate, we need to be more specific. We can’t just say, “The gun is a tool; an inanimate object.” We need to tell people what type of tool it is: Emergency life-saving equipment. If we define the gun as such we get to frame the debate and we get to show the world how we really feel about the guns we carry.