Ep. 28 Should I Shoot? Gun-Free Zones, Problems with the 1911


Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.

Check out the last five episodes in this series:

Gun-Free Zones

I’ve always looked at gun-free zone signs like putting a sign on your front lawn saying you are on vacation for two weeks and there is no alarm on your house — “Please burglarize at your convenience.” The sign, like a restraining order, has no teeth.

When I enter an “enforced gun-free zone,” I never relax. I’m depending on the security measures implemented by someone else to 100 percent keep someone from entering with weapons and going active. I have to say I’m not a trusting type of guy anymore, but I do find myself having to go into facilities where the metal detector is in use. It’s a choice I have to make and so do you. If you have to be armed, then you don’t go in.

I get asked quite often, “What about the places where there is only a sign saying ‘this is a gun-free zone’?” It means there are no guns allowed! What should they do if they are carrying concealed? Businesses have a right to refuse services (or at least they used to be able to, don’t get me started on that one), but as a consumer, you can make the choice where you spend your money. If a business doesn’t want its customers to be armed, then shop some place else.

Know Your Equipment

In a recent class I watched a guy have all kinds of problems running his 1911. The gun was a higher-end custom and, when he ran it properly, it was superbly accurate and reliable. What wasn’t reliable was his lack of proper training coupled with a false sense of his abilities. He failed to take the safety off on more occasions than I could count, and even more dangerous than that was not putting it back on when he attempted to re-holster. The grip safety also did its job when he failed to get a proper firing grip on a few drills.

He insisted he’d been a 1911 guy for almost two decades and he’d never had any problems before. (What I took that to mean was he’d been a 1911 fan for almost 20 years and he’d never learned how to properly run the gun.)

Don’t let overconfidence and stubbornness be the reasons your family all gets together to say goodbye at your funeral. Identify weakness in your personal defense skills and work a plan to fix them. Then go looking for more flaws and fix those. Don’t every stop trying to get better at life-saving skills. Whether you should shoot won’t matter if you can’t operate the tool you carry to save your life.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Daniel J Corrigan December 4, 2017, 12:17 pm

    I have been carrying a weapon since December of ’64 when I had finished my handgun training at the New York City Police Academy. I carried a .38 Spcl until ’84 when I retired. I lived in Vermont after retirement and carried there. When I moved out West to New Mexico I open carried when I was again a Lieutenant of Police and later as a cab driver. When I moved to Las Vegas the first thing I did was to get my CCW permit in ’93. Over the years I have utilized a 9MM Browning, 1911 in .45, .44 Spcl in a Charter Arms Bulldog Pug and a 9MM SCCY 10 shot compact pistol. I reload my own ammo and cast my own bullets and I spend at least two days a month at the range shooting a variety of firearms. I am very proficient with any of the above weapons and I carry everywhere I can. A weapons free store does not earn my business. I do not look for trouble and I do everything I can to avoid it. However on a few days I had to resort to facing a person with a drawn firearm. In all cases that was enough to stop the incident. Then I immediately call the police to report the incident so as not to open myself up to a brandishing charge by the opponent I had faced. If you carry you must obey the law and be ready to justify any action you took.

  • Chuck Roast December 9, 2016, 7:12 pm

    Heck, here’s an idea. If the proprietor determines you are carrying despite his or her sign saying “Gun Free Zone” just tell them you are dyslectic, and thought it said “free gun zone” and you thought you were “free to do so”. Then if they don’t buy your story, act like you are all butt hurt and claim the shop owner is discriminating against you because of a reading disability and threaten to sue. Hell, they’ll take the sign down probably. Just kidding. It’s best to simply not patronize idiots.

  • Dan November 11, 2016, 1:48 pm

    Seems to be two different topics in this piece, “gun-free” zones and willful incompetence.

    • Edward Sjolin November 12, 2016, 4:02 am

      As a well traveled US Army veteran with extensive 1911 experience, I will certainly acknowledge the “romance” of the old “slab-side”. Most people are unsuited to this legendary weapon but fail to realize it. They would be much better served by any of a variety of 9 mm’s or one of several “wheel” guns. My preference for the 1911 stems from it’s versatility and stopping power. For instance, my “little” sister, age 67, 5’3″ and 108 lb. has a CWP and accessorizes her trips among the proletariat with either a P-226 or a Glock (not certain which) would be adrift with a 1911, even the Colt Combat Commander, but with either of her “carries” you can rest assured her marksmanship is sufficient to the task. Anyway, my point is: not everyone is suited for a 1911 as protection BUT they can be utilized as excellent paperweights.

      • Mark M. April 10, 2017, 6:21 pm

        Are you not part of the proletariat? Do you work for a living?

  • gerald imbriale November 11, 2016, 10:14 am

    I live in a conceal carry only state and when I see a sign on a business saying no guns I take that as a suggestion not a rule. State law is another deal altogether, I follow the law to the letter as we all do. A sign in the window doesn’t carry the weight of law.

    • Ron November 11, 2016, 10:39 am

      Unfortunately, in the People’s Republic of Illinois, a sign in the window DOES have the force of law. I’m not saying it should always be followed, because that’s an individual choice, but it should be made with correct information in hand.

      • Archangel November 11, 2016, 10:13 pm

        Concealed means nobody should know you have it, and if you are found to be carrying concealed, tell them you missed the sign, apologize for the mistake, and leave.

        • Eric Holder November 12, 2016, 1:38 pm

          Sounds very reasonable.

        • Huapakechi November 12, 2016, 5:34 pm

          If your weapon is properly concealed, who will ever know you have it? Should you find it necessary to use your handgun in a “gun free” zone, apologize and leave immediately afterwards.

          • Mark M. April 10, 2017, 6:22 pm

            Why don’t you simply follow the wishes of the business owner and not carry in his or her establishment. Do you follow the law only when it suits you? Let me guess, you voted for Trump, didn’t you?

    • Matthew Van Camp November 13, 2016, 4:22 pm

      The same for me, in fact I don’t even consider it a suggestion. I completely ignore such desires by the business owners and carry concealed to protect myself, should the need arise. As far as stopping a robbery or some other such thing I consider that the propietor of such a place has a need or desire to finance low-life types so I grant their wish and remain uninvolved. God help the crook who approaches me expecting such condescending cooperation… I will fill his belly with lead!

    • Bruk November 16, 2016, 5:13 pm

      Nevada passed a State gun law that there are NO GUN FREE ZONES in NV except Federal buildings, Court Rooms and inside Police interrogation rooms. Many Casinos get around this by asking you to leave that you are trespassing and will be charged as such if you don’t leave. Casinos even own the sidewalks this is why there are more shootings in Las Vegas and Reno!

  • Jay November 11, 2016, 9:32 am

    I’m not sure why you would single out the 1911 – you could substitute any pistol in that place. Cops shoot themselves with Glocks, and they don’t sit on the shelf for 20 years….. (No prejudice here – LEO experience and Instructor – I use and train with Glock and 1911)

  • Paul W November 11, 2016, 8:46 am

    That’s an operator problem, not the weapon.

    • Sgt. Pop November 11, 2016, 11:55 am

      Amen Paul W! As Jay, I use both a 1911 and Glock. Glock for GSSF league and the 1911, just because I like it, train with it enough over the last 40 years I have a “dedicated” callus on the inside of my right thumb from safety manipulation.

  • James M November 8, 2016, 10:33 am

    Being a 1911 guy apparently means having a 1911 on a shelf for twenty years. Taking twenty years of built up false confidence and making a fool of oneself. Quite often I come across die hard glock, s&w, Springfield etc guys. Which normally means they have only one firearm made by the company they are fans of. And almost as often I hear the same people just don’t understand how they had such a hard time shooting that day. Or why their holy, blessed by the pope, fanboy pistol just didn’t put every round through the same hole. Fortunately most are able to put down their ego and accept instruction.

    • Dan November 11, 2016, 8:14 am

      You also need to know how to run malfunction drills, quickly, effectively, and completely. And, most of all Safely. Most ‘Shelf’ 20 year guys, have no idea about this or how to respond in a manner that may save your life.

    • Linc Q December 2, 2016, 4:22 am

      If free gun zone sign in store and criminal will know citizen are unarmed so robber going in store and rob the money … what’s you thinking. Thats BIG MISTAKE…..STUPID !!!!

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