By Kellene Bishop
Having a basement full of freeze-dried goods, candles, and sleeping bags really doesn’t bring us a lasting peace unless we know we have the mental fortitude to ensure that we know how to prepare, put together, and endure a time when we might be forced to use these tools. In fact, the supplies are about as useless without experienced application of them as a bank account that has $1 million dollars in it but is frozen by a $1.2 million IRS debt. I like to call this dichotomy in the world of preparedness as the difference between Permission vs. Skill which is akin to Panic vs. Peace. To illustrate this today, I’m going to use my experiences with my Women of Caliber clients.
During the course of my Women of Caliber classes, I will ask the attendees whether or not they feel they are capable of bringing down a charging drug-crazed assailant, or prevent a break-in attempt into their home by a lawless gang, or to save the life of a person being mugged. The response I hear all too often is “Sure! I have my concealed carry permit.” It’s clear to me when I hear that response that some are confused in the difference between Permission and Skill, and when that happens they will find a big distortion of Panic versus Peace.
A concealed carry permit does not ensure that you will be able to shoot straight, shoot fast, shoot accurately, and shoot to stop. It only gives you permission that you may have a loaded firearm nearby should you need to do so. Even the power of the 2nd Amendment, which some might argue eliminates the need for permission, doesn’t ensure that your life will be protected in the midst of a violent crime. In fact, in many states permission is not even required within the walls of your home, but Skill most certainly is.
Ultimately we all understand that a concealed carry permit cannot save a life. But well-practiced SKILL will never let you down when.
Think about it. Permission to possess a firearm comes from someone who doesn’t even know you and it tells you that you are now allowed to have unfettered access to the proper tools you need to defend and protect yourself. (In Utah, you’re not even required to shoot a firearm to get your Concealed Weapons Permit). Pshaw! You were BORN with that kind of permission. But Skill comes to you because you take it, you claim it, and you work at it. But Skill ensures that you know how to use life-saving tools. You can claim all the skills you could ever think possible in being prepared for anything and everything if you’d like. All the Permission in the world won’t save your life or the life of those you love. Only SKILL can accomplish this.
Permission does not provide you with sound firearm safety.
Skill ensures that a firearm is a purposed tool, not an accident waiting to happen.
Permission is regulated by government or nameless, faceless entities completed disconnected from humanity.
Skill is regulated primarily by your heart and mind that leads you to the time and effort you need to invest, willing to apply that skill in order to protect your family.
Permission without Skill is barely worth the $20 you pay for it and will continue to pay for as it “expires.” But Skills will last a lifetime and even have the capability of ensuring that a lifetime is not prematurely shortened.
Permission does not stop a would-be rapist.
But Skill sure can.
Permission does not protect you from an abusive husband, or an out of control ex-boyfriend or long-lost cousin who’s confident that he is entitled to something you have. Not even a protective order can do that.
Only Skill can provide you with the safety and peace you ultimately seek.
When I first began my certification process to become an NRA Instructor in every possible discipline that they offered at the time, my husband and I also decided to go through the process of becoming Utah Concealed Weapon Instructors as well. As I looked down the list of names of those who were already CCIs I have to tell you I was saddened to see less than a half dozen female names on that list. This wasn’t because I had some feminist interest in there being more women Concealed Weapon Holder Instructors, rather it was indicative of the massive amounts of vulnerabilities that the LACK of names meant. I saw that list to mean that the men were primarily interested in mastering and sharing this skillset. What that means is that when there’s a crisis, there will be a lot of men staying home watching over their family instead of going out to help the community be safe. Look at what happened during Hurricane Katrina. All of those first responders who didn’t report to the crisis in part because they felt they needed to be at home to protect their family because they were the only ones in their home who possessed the skills to protect their most precious asset. Now what would things have been like though is more of the women of the household, or mature children could have been relied upon to skillfully protect and provide for their family while the men of the homes were able to focus on their public service duties? Did the lack of first responders cost lives? Did the lack of first responders put the lives of those who DID respond more at risk? Did the lack of police presence create a level of distrust among the community? Yes, Yes, and Yes. If you think of it this way, doesn’t it make sense that EVERY capable member of the family or group become SKILLED in protecting and preserving lives? Having a basement full of foreign food, water filters that are still in their box, and medical supplies that you’re completely unfamiliar with is a lot like having a Concealed Weapons Permit. Without excellent skills to back up the use of those items, lives will be lost, or at the very least, compromised.
Since that time, the hubster and I have taught countless UT CWP classes, Range Safety Officer certifications, and so forth, but ultimately we came to realize how the whole Permission vs. Skill problem impacted our teaching. We were so frustrated in what we observed—too many left our training with a false sense of security that they would be safer than they were before they walked into our class. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality of this message caused us to make a key decision. In spite of some misgivings of there being one less female in the State of Utah to teach CWP, we decided to let our Instructor certifications for the state expire. We wanted to focus on SKILL, not permission, and didn’t want to send any mixed messages during the course of our training to that extent either. It was one of the better decisions we could have ever made. Now when we have a private or semi-private group of women come to my training there is no doubt what they are there to learn; no distractions of a looming test to take. It’s solely about teaching the mental fortitude and the physical skill about protecting oneself with a firearm—when to pull the firearm from its hiding place; how to ensure that you’ll hit your target and only your target; how to avoid the effects of “the fog of war” that slows down time and compromises reaction abilities. Etc. By focusing solely on the skills needed for self-defense with a firearm, we have a very, very different group of people leave our classroom at the end of the full day. They KNOW that they can hit a target the size of a quarter 7 to 10 feet out (the standard firearm self-defense distance). They know that they can safely avoid hurting anyone else in such a scenario, and they have begun to strengthen that mental fortitude necessary to see the perpetrator in the proper light—not as someone’s dad, brother, son, etc, but as an animal that has no compunction in destroying or taking someone else’s life. Seeing things clearly like that BEFORE the crisis hits is critical to the response time in the midst of a crisis. This level of SKILL will ensure that they are safe in a crisis; that they can be relied upon in a crisis instead of taking up valuable resources of others, they are now able to increase the amount of help in a community amidst a disaster; they’re one more sentinel in the storm. Even better, unlike permission that has to be renewed again and again, this particular asset never expires so long as the students continue to practice what skills they’ve learned.
I have to say that this component of self-reliance has become one of my favorites. I’ll never forget the woman who flew in from Minnesota who arrived with more nerves and fears than I did on my first day of school. She had opted for a private day of training even though she was scared to death to fly by herself, handle a firearm by herself, and venture into this intimidating world all by herself. By the end of the day she valued herself and knew she could rely on herself. I think that’s one of the best fruits we can garner from all of our preparedness efforts—to find that we can rely on ourselves no matter what happens. I felt tears on by neck as she hugged me enthusiastically that night and knew that she was going home a very different person. I think this is an excellent example of where the notion of “peace in our preparedness” comes from ultimately. There are plenty of horrible headlines that come at us every day. The panic isn’t in the headlines themselves, it’s in how we respond to those headlines just as it’s true that the panic isn’t in the moment that you realize someone has the intent to permanently harm you—it’s in knowing you have no clue, no chance to change the outcome of that assault. But if faced with the same situation and handling it in an instant without even thinking about it or having time to be threatened or scared by it—that’s when you find the peace in your preparedness efforts. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as a firearm being pointed at you, or that dreadful noise of the glass in a window breaking in the middle of the night, or the smell of smoke coming from the laundry room. So long as you know how to handle it, you will successfully replace all panic and worry and stress with PEACE.
I hereby grant you permission to be fully prepared for whatever may come your way. Now, go and get your skills and may you have Peace in Your Preparedness through the rest of your lifetime.