Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Gun Nut Book Review--IV

Armed Response by David S. Kenik
Periodically, Bill and I like to share books we've read with any interested readers. For those who aren't interested, I should warn you we picked up several gunnie books at the NRA convention.

I actually bought Kenik's book a couple of months ago. I didn't read it until I was on vacation. I should have read it earlier since it is and excellent discussion of a very important topic for those of us who carry a firearm for protection.

David Kenik has carried a firearm for over twenty years. He is a fellow New Englander hailing from Rhode Island. He has sought out training and has learned as much as he can. He has taken classes from Massad Ayoob who has written a foreword for Armed Response. Kenik is also a pro-gun activist in his home state.

Armed Response is thorough and contains much good information. For me the most accurate and important sentence in the entire book is, "The best way to win a gunfight is not to be in one." (Introduction p. X) I've never fired any of my guns in anger, but I've used a gun to save my life (or "sacred honor") twice--once with a burglar and once when two people tried to pull me into a car. One of them even fired shots at me, but I didn't fire back because the driver was already speeding away from my gun muzzle. In both cases, I couldn't avoid the fight, but I agree, avoid a gunfight anyway you can.

Still, Armed Response is not about running away, it's about responding to unavoidable situations with a gun--our best self-defense tool after our minds. The second most accurate statement sits on the same page, "Your true weapon is your mind. A person with a .22 and a plan is for more formidable than a clueless person with a .45." Armed Response helps you create that plan.

Kenik divides his book into thirty-one chapters; one is on empty-hand fighting skills written by Ralph Mroz. The first chapter talks about a subject well known in gunnie circles but ignored elsewhere, police do not protect individual citizens. The second chapter (and I promise I'm not going to dissect it chapter by chapter) requests that you ask yourself the big question, "Can you take a life?" (p 5). I am in absolute agreement with Kenik, if you don't search your soul before strapping on a gun you're a fool. If you do and your answer is "no" you have no business carrying a gun.

Kenik talks generally about laws that govern deadly force. Perforce, his coverage is very general since state laws vary so much. Still, he presents some good things to think about.

He covers situational awareness and "Body Alarm Reaction" (p 20). I experienced such a reaction in those two situations I mentioned above and Kenik's description is spot on. Under the influence of adrenaline, fear, and rage you can barely see, your fingers fumble at even simple tasks, you shake, and your mental activities seem like they are taking place in molasses in winter. In other words, we humans evolved to fight or flee not to think about how to fight, not to thumb a small safety switch on a gun, and how to focus on an enemy but not on our gun's front sight.

Armed Response takes those bodily reactions into account and discusses ways to avoid them or plan around them when these reactions clobber you. Kenik raises questions about equipment and carry methods in light of these responses. For instance, if you carry a revolver and you need to reload, can you manipulate a speed strip or a speed loader when your heart is beating hard enough to burst your chest and your fingers feel like German sausages (p 111)? If you carry a semi-auto and need to reload, he gives advice on how to place your spare magazines to avoid feeding them backwards, etc.

The book includes other matters such as ammunition choice, gun choice, safe storage, holsters, training improvements, and much more. One of the last chapters (#27) discusses what happens after a shooting. In short, get ready for some legal bills and severe emotional impacts.

A minor quibble I have is on advice given in Chapter 26. Kenik discusses how to keep your assailant at bay until police arrive if you didn't shoot him or wounded him slightly. I don't like what he tells you to tell the assailant, "If you make any fast movements, I will assume that you are going to attack me and I will shoot you." To me, and I'm not an expert, there are too many syllables and too much information for your assailant to process--remember he'll be as full of adrenaline, fear, and rage as you'll be. I think a better statement is, "Don't move unless I tell you to, or I'll shoot you."

I recommend Armed Response primarily because of his description of Body Alarm Reaction and ways to plan around it. For a little more than $20.00 (and I found it on sale for a little less at a local gun shop) you get a great deal of truly useful information. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't carry it, but here is a store that does.

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