A list recently published on why agencies are switching to the 9mm pistol resulted in the usual ignorant comments about cops somehow being less than manly because they use a 9mm pistol; or the typical mythology that “no officer” willingly makes that transition. Even more comical, the transition is yet another conspiracy on the part of the administration to take away “real guns” from their officers. All are ridiculous to the point of farce. Anyone having left their couch, video game, or computer key board knows that. Its complete bull shit, always has been, always will be. Having taught officers and civilians to shoot for over two decades now, many have made the request and transition willingly, more and more are doing so today, they will continue to do so in the future.
Not surprising since facts as a rule seem to be a secondary consideration in much of social media, the internet, or even media in general. So much so that anyone actually basing decisions on fact are somehow suspect, or at the very least lumped into the prevailing mythology. Real facts are often attacked as constructs, while recurring mythology such as the one shot stop and magical mystical bullet prevail. Lets face it, facts are boring. More importantly, they leave little room for those practicing “hormonal decision making” to continue their rants. Facts also tend to lessen the opportunity to create credibility through popularity; the very essence of our society today, and the basis for countless “experts”. What you know, are doing, or have done has little relevance, it is about how popular you are, and how well you have marketed that popularity. All fine (I guess) until those decisions hold someones life in the balance.
Never having experienced an emotional attachment to guns, in particular those used daily, its prevalence has always been odd to me. Guns are tools, they do what they do, whether you “love” them or not does not change that. It either works, or not. Having some hormonal attachment to it or the caliber might make you “feel” good, but has no bearing on the reality of a gunfight. Just like any other tool, its effectiveness lies in its application. The most lovable pistol in the world won’t save your ass if you can’t hit anything with it. Having investigated several homicides and shootings involving some of the worst made firearms on the planet proves that point. Love your family or pet, choose a carry gun that works and practice with it.
Just to be clear, when it comes to collecting I get it. Or when it is a gift or family heirloom. That is about the emotional connection to the person, not the item, and that can hold true for anything. Collectors buy guns because they like them, admire them, or any myriad of reasons. Fantastic, at least for now this remains a choice in America, hope it stays that way. Justification for collectors or most anyone beyond “I want that and can afford it” is not required for me. So long as this country remains free you can buy a gun, car, house, boat, or anything else just because you want it, thats how it should be. But those decisions effect you, and generally have little to do with saving anyones life.
Officers and Soldiers having had their lives saved by a particular gun can certainly grow attached, but to me that is about confidence. When asking officers why they want that weapon back, most respond “because I know that one works”. Others never want to see it again. I understand and accept both. Killing someone or having them try to kill you is an incredibly emotional experience. Anyone surviving that encounter is entitled to a bit of hormonal decision making. But that is less about deciding what gun to use than it is an emotional connection based on a life saving event, and generally to that precise weapon.
Tactics are similar, they either work, or not, or somewhere in the middle. Its why having a number of them at hand is critical. Not every gun is suited to every situation, nor is every tactic. Choosing them based on who taught them to you, how you “feel” about them, or how “cool” they look on video is just plain stupid. If the closest you come to an operation is the video game your playing while sitting on your couch than have at it, who cares. But, if what you choose is used by you, your officers, team, or unit in harms way. they had damned well be proven to work. New tactics are not always better, and old ones are not obsolete just because they are old. No unproven tactic should EVER be adopted without thorough examination as to its effectiveness in your world. Conversely, no proven tactic should be abandoned just because it is old. Countless tactics taught at numerous schools proved worthless for me and my team and were never adopted. Just because it “sells” does not mean it “works” Decisions should be cold, hard, and based on facts and actual application in your environment, with YOUR team or officers, nothing else.
Agencies, units, and large organizations make choices on firearms for many different reasons. Ya, it always fires up the “I should have everything the cops have” types, but take a Valium. Always assuming you have everything and more than I did as a cop, what you have is meaningless to me. Here is a shocker, it is not about YOU! At the agency level it is about those you equip and train. Those decisions should be made on cold hard facts, period. As an individual you can carry a howitzer for all I care, but at the agency level you must think beyond yourself. The decisions you make hold the lives of maybe thousands of officers who trust you in the balance. As an individual you can keep the esoteric wiz bang shooter running, its different when you have to keep hundreds, maybe thousands of them working. You are probably a tactical Adonis, can shoot with lightening speed and Jason Bourne type accuracy and efficiency, but we mere mortals are different. Agency Armorers have to teach everyone, even those who don’t even like guns to shoot well enough to use that pistol in the real world. They don’t get to hit pause or run the scenario or competition stage again, they either live, die, or something in between – there are no “do overs” in the real world.
Currently there is ZERO evidence beyond the anecdotal that 9mm (using modern self defense ammunition) is any less effective at stopping the threat than even the mighty magical and overwhelmingly devastating 45 ACP. For every “my whimpy 9mm did not work” story, there is another where they were dead before they hit the ground. For all those that dropped uncontrollably to their knees at the mere sight of the mighty 45 there are those having been shot several times who returned fire, maybe even killing the officer. In at least one case an officer fired six rounds of the devastating “one shot stop master” .357 magnum into the suspect only to be killed by the suspect’s “inferior” 25 ACP. Why? Shot placement, pure and simple. The suspect was talking to medics as they arrived with every round contained in his gut and several layers of fat; while the officer lay dead with a 25 auto that pierced both lungs missing his vest by less than an inch. Data from real world shootings has proven the 40 S&W to be no more effective than the 9mm, or any other modern self defense pistol round at stopping threats. Through mere numbers alone given the world wide usage of the 9mm it stops more bad guys (and good guys) than any typical pistol round used for duty or self defense. Does it always work, of course not, anyone saying it does is an idiot. None of them always work, its why you practice shot placement. Short of a long gun, shot placement remains the only proven factor that enhances the effectiveness of pistol rounds at stopping human threats. Carrying a bigger round that may compromise that factor is foolish at best. Making others do it because of your ignorance should be criminal.
All those facts will remain meaningless of course, because “bigger is always better”, “real men carry big bullets”, and a hundred other useless quips will continue ad-nauseam. I hear them at almost every training class, seminar, or event designed to sell me either an item, doctrine, or dogma – even the largest and most reputable. Why, because it works, people suck it up like cotton candy at the fair. Not sure that will ever change. But do yourself a favor, pass up the cotton candy, set the Cool-aid aside, and make your decisions based on cold hard facts keeping the hormones in check. It just may save yours or someone else’s life someday.