“To Arm or Not to Arm? That My Friends, Is The Question”

“To Arm or Not to Arm?  That My Friends, Is The Question”

 DT4EMS-007 Photo by Guardrail Photography for DT4EMS, LLC

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself to the group.  My name is David Ray, and I am currently an EMT and a commissioned police officer in Missouri. I have been in public safety for 20+ years. I am also the founder of Close Quarters Firearms Training, which was started in 2006 to offer training to citizens covering unarmed self defense, concealed carry, and numerous other training options with more advanced weapon systems.  I am a ranked competitive shooter in the International Defensive Pistol Association as well as 3 Gun (Carbine rifle, shotgun, and handgun). I am a certified NRA Law Enforcement Police Firearms Instructor and double certified for the civilian market by the NRA and Missouri Department of Public Safety. I have given seminars on the topics of Psychology and Sociology of Social Violence, Home Invasion Awareness and Preparedness, Situational Awareness and Avoidance, and numerous other public speaking engagements. Here is the best and most important part…I am also honored to be a certified DT4EMS instructor for basics and advanced!

I listed the above “qualifications” for one simple reason. It’s not to make a list of “look how awesome I am” things.  As a matter of fact, I am usually turned off by that stuff when I go to training and the guy in front goes on and on about how great he is (plus it makes them look a little douchy by others in the class that have training as well) because at the start of a majority of training as a student, or at train-the-trainer classes, the course seems to be a little more about the instructor than the students and material covered. Think back to the very first time you went into EMT class or the police academy. Those guys seemed like Gods to us. That is quite an influence over a new student. That is why the EVE material is so cool and so effective…it’s obvious that it is about THEM (the participant) right off the bat. How you present yourself at the beginning has a major impact on how we are viewed as educators, but I shall not digress on that for now.Disconnect

It is to show that I am obviously a “gun guy”, no question about it. That’s why you should see the look on fellow EMS people’s faces when they say, “Hey, let’s ask Dave…What do you think about us carrying guns or knives on the trucks?”, and my response is, “I am 100% against admin allowing that on the trucks…….”, and then I pause..just soaking in the looks of disbelief and betrayal, and I finish with, “… unless there is a significant training program in place to cover it FIRST. That always follows with the ensuing debate. What is proper training?

There seems to be an inherent attitude, ESPECIALLY among men in my classes, of the mindset, “I’ve been shooting my whole life, I know what I am doing. THEY may need training, but I am good to go.” Well guess what..I HAVE been shooting my entire life and I am constantly looking forward to the next training class I am registered for. Let’s go a little deeper into that.

Of course those of us that have grown up shooting have all spent hours with the target stapled to a tree and stood back at 15 yards and shot uncounted rounds that way. Same with cans on the stump, and so on. That is great, no one enjoys that kind of fun more than I do. Give me a call and I’ll bring the ammo! Let me add this now…if that is what you are thinking is your “training”, then that specific skill set will get you killed in the street. I can tell just from the manner in which a person draws their weapon their level of training. Please don’t confuse experience with training. If you have never been to an actual, developed, course of training in defensive pistol, meaning you learn how to be IN and actual fight and learn the tactics and skills to successfully defend yourself with that pistol, then you have NO training, NO skill set, and NOTHING for your brain and body to reference when confronted with that horrible scene, and I pray every night that I am never a part of that scene. SO many things go into proper training just on the street, so multiply that by four to cover the extra industry specific issues that would need to be covered for us as healthcare providers, and heck, I could even have an 8 hour class on just the correct weapon choice, ammunition choice, as well as correct and appropriate carry method, but those will have to wait for another day.

This is where the boots on the street (you and I) need to be waving the flag for culture change on the admin level foremost.  I am sure, with everyone slowly becoming aware of the level of potential and actual violence we are facing every day, that there will be those in certain admins that will just jump straight into the “Let’s just arm our people” thought process.  It’s not their fault either for choosing that. If an admin staff has no education on this topic as a whole, they are probably making what they think is a sincere and true decision to help their employees. If your admin is considering this option..great, let’s consider it. By considering it I mean..let’s sit down and talk about the wide gamete of issues that need to be frankly and openly discussed. Heck, if I can make it happen, I will come with you and talk to them together.

Please remember, these incidents are very ugly and violent. Use of force incidents on the street data has been compiled, and the “rule of threes” governs as well here.  The average distance between the attacker and the victim is 3 yards or less, meaning it will be up close and in your face. That is why I try and stress the visual image of the fact that you will be in an actual, literal, physical fight while trying to utilize your weapon. The number of rounds exchanged is 3 (average) and the time from the start to the end of the attack is 3 seconds. Again, pounding home the point that is will be VERY fast and dynamic. You won’t have time to make decisions on what you are going to do. If you don’t have that information pre-loaded in your brain and body, you will not have a successful outcome.  The attacker already knows what is plan of attack is, because most generally, he is already in the process of doing it. You will not be able to buy yourself that moment in time that we all now know is invaluable.

Obviously, this is nothing to be taken lightly, or a quick, knee-jerk decision. Remember, we are preparing for the Mind, Street, Media, and Courtroom.  Take a minute to think about the ramifications of each of those if…

I am called to a “sick person” at 0 dark thirty, and twenty minutes later I have shot and killed that same “sick person”.

What are the ramifications if that “sick person” attacks me with deadly force in the truck, and I am attempting to defend myself, and in the may lay, I shoot my partner who is in the process of trying to pull to the side of the road when he/she realizes what is happening?

What are the ramifications if that “sick person” attacks me in his home with deadly force, and while attempting to defend myself I shoot the attacker, and due to the proximity, the shoot through also hits and kills his daughter who was sitting on the couch four feet away crying for us to “stop being mean to her daddy”?

Please take some time and think about all these things. TALK about them with each other. Get the thought processes going. None of us got into this profession to take a human life, and think about that. At the same time, none of us got into this profession to lose our life either. Remember, 52% of us will be the victim of some sort of violence during our career as healthcare providers. We are by far more likely to be assaulted on duty than law enforcement or corrections officers, according to a white paper written regarding a Bureau of Labor Statistics report.  The subject of arming staff-on duty- needs to be discussed with intelligence and education on the subject matter, not simply based upon emotion and dramatics in order to present our message in a credible manner. Food for thought my friends.

Stay Safe Brothers and Sisters,

Dave Ray





*Note DT4EMS, LLC’s stance on arming per Kip Teitsort, Founder- We are not anti-arming anyone. It is our opinion that if an agency is considering allowing their staff to carry a firearm on-duty, the agency should explore all of the issues that go along with allowing a person to carry a firearm on-duty. For more on DT4EMS’ stance on armed staff – Read ARMED EMS and a Surgical Cric  and See image below