"The essentials of a successful gunfight remain precision, power and quickness. These elements are equal, but they are surpassed by one other thing, and that is attitude."

Terror is an emotion. Terrorism is a policy. Neither is a target nor an enemy. Let us then nominate something we can shoot at.

“Weapons protect the weak from the strong, not the other way around.” The passengers of Flight 93 showed us the way to defend ourselves—they fought back. If every passenger fought back immediately, no terrorist could succeed. If every victim fought back immediately, no criminal could succeed.

The essentials of a successful gunfight remain precision, power and quickness. These elements are equal, but they are surpassed by one other thing, and that is attitude. It is great to be quick, accurate and powerful, but it is more important to be ready. The readiness to take the irrevocable step is what will save your life. The Weaver firing stroke will do the job, but only if you are emotionally ready to employ it.

This precision assassination from on high is certainly a dramatic development of our technology. Spotting a specific bad guy from aloft is a pretty spectacular trick, as now practiced by both ourselves and the Israelis. Hitting the target, while an excellent technical exercise, seems to be far less exciting than specific target acquisition. How do you know who is in what car down there below you, or in what office building? This G2 technique is way ahead of my time in the spook business, and I marvel at it. I can think of several systems that might be used, but clearly they are not advertised. How do we arrange to slip a sensor into our target’s wallet? Intelligence operations often fail, and we hear about those. But, sad to say, our praise must be withheld from our successes, if we want to be able to repeat them.

The modern technique of the pistol, evolved between the wars, is now fairly well understood in the right circles. Unfortunately, however, not everyone has the word, and a good deal of doctrine is being formulated without basis in practice. To say, for instance, that sighted fire is too slow, simply reveals that the speaker has not put the matter to a proper test. To say that people cannot be taught to do things correctly when under severe stress simply denies the experience of history. Theorizers can claim anything they wish, but they need not be taken as authoritative.

Then the light dawned, commencing in primitive fashion with the FBI and rapidly advancing with the introduction of practical pistol competition in Southern California. This activity was enjoyed, naturally, by enthusiasts, and I did not realize that sporting enthusiasm is not necessarily an attribute either of the uniformed public servant or of the private citizen. We did indeed develop the modern technique of the pistol, and we evolved it by means of a competition program that rewarded dexterity to a possibly unrealistic degree. A great many people who own or carry pistols do not pursue technical excellence, and it is possible that what evolved over the years has become unrelated to fighting skill, which is the purpose of the handgun.

I like to think that most of us in America value political liberty above all other considerations, but the media suggest that at least half of the world’s citizenry prefers security to liberty—if it comes to a choice. Of course it does not come to that. As Mr. Franklin put it so well, those who value security over liberty wind up with neither.

A family member recently wrote in and asked how he could pin the grip safety shut on his 1911, claiming that no available gunsmith would perform this task for fear of litigation. Personally I think the smiths declined this task because it is so easy that they cannot charge much for it. You simply pin opposing holes in the bottom of the grip safety and the top of the mainspring housing. These holes are about the diameter of piano wire. Then, with the grip safety pressed shut, you insert the piano wire pin and slide the mainspring housing up into position to take the other end of the pin. Once this arrangement is installed, it can be removed in seconds, for those who are terrified of regulators.

At this season you may remember the response of the little boy who was asked to name the Four Seasons by his schoolteacher. His list was: Duck Season, Trout Season, Deer Season, and Christmas. Now there was a little boy being brought up right!

The intellectual property of Jeff Cooper is owned by Gunsite Academy and reprinted from Gunsite Gossip 3 with their permission. Jeff Cooper’s books are available from the ProShop (928-636-4565; gunsite.com) and jeffcooperbooks.com

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