New Shooters – Dr. William Holda and his wife

Today, I took Dr. William (Bill) Holda and his wife Scotti to the range for the first time. Dr. Holda is the president of Kilgore College. These folks had never held or shot any handgun.

Several months ago, Dr. Holda discussed his views regarding concealed carry on campus, in an interview on TV. He had apparently picked up a lot of misinformation regarding the Luby’s massacre at Killeen, Texas, and offended a great many gun-loving people, including me, by what he said about it. None of us like for misinformation or falsehoods to be used in ways detrimental to our second amendment rights.

I found out about it from Tamara’s blog View From the Porch, here. When I saw that this was someone from the college I attended (a very long time ago), I looked up his address on the college website, and sent him a polite email. I suggested that he get educated on this subject so he could have an informed opinion. I also suggested some sources for good information, for instance The Cornered Cat.

Sadly, a great many other people also responded to Dr. Holda, on a very low level – basically, “go to hell”. Folks, this behavior does not help our case. Apparently, only two or three of us were civil to Dr. Holda.

I was, frankly, surprised to get a reply. Dr. Holda made it clear that, having screwed up, he wanted to understand the reality, he wanted facts, and he wanted the considered opinions of people on our side of the fence. He gave every impression of wanting to know if he was wrong, not just in the facts of the Luby’s Massacre, but also in his beliefs about guns and shooting in general. I can respect a man who is willing to question his own beliefs when confronted with evidence that those beliefs should be challenged.

So, we corresponded back and forth quite a lot, over the last couple of months. I explained my views on this subject – basically, any gun-free zone that is enforced only with signs is a kill zone for evil people. Several others were involved in the process as well. Dr. Holda seems to be open to actually learning about this subject, so I invited him to let me take him to the range and show him the basics.

So, today was the day we went to the range, and I met Dr. Holda and his wife Scotti face to face for the first time. Friends, these are some nice folks; polite, well spoken, and by all indications willing to learn. Neither had ever even held a handgun, much less shot one. My own experience teaching this stuff is limited to helping someone a bit greener than myself get started; so this is really my first experience with teaching this subject. We were also joined by my best friend Rick who helped out with explaining things several times.

After introductions, we started off by covering the range rules, how to know when the line is hot or cold, and that all guns always point downrange. When the line is cold, the guns are supposed to be unloaded and hands off.

Next, we talked about basic gun safety, the four rules. I didn’t actually go down the list, because I had sent them to Bill previously, but I made sure that they understood “All guns are always loaded, even if you just unloaded it”, and “Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction”, and “No finger inside the trigger guard until you intend to shoot. Ever”.

Then we started talking about how to run the gun. I have available two Springfield Armory guns, one XD 45 ACP with Lasergrips, and one XD-M 3.8 9mm. I set out ammunition for .380 Auto, 9mm, and .45 ACP, and showed them the difference between the calibers, between hollow point and round nose, and why hollow point is the desired tool for self defense. They truly are new to this; I had to explain how a bullet works, and the parts thereof. I explained the mechanism of the gun, how to hold it, and what was going to happen when they pulled the trigger. I stressed where NOT to put your thumbs, and explained the action of the slide. I especially covered the safety features of the gun.

We then got ear protection on everyone, and I ran one magazine of .45 through the XD at a target, so they could see and hear what it was going to be like.

I must confess at this point that I totally forgot eye protection until we were nearly through. I used to wear glasses 100% of the time, until I got my eyes operated on a couple of years ago, and now I don’t need them. Consequently, I keep forgetting to put safety glasses on. I’m working on it. Forgive me, this is one thing I really screwed up on today.

Next, I loaded four rounds in the 9mm. I stationed myself where I could see Dr. Holda’s hands, just to his right so I could intercept him if he tried to turn around with the gun in his hand; showed him how to hold it, and pointed him at the target. I instructed him to shoot twice, then place the gun on the table so Scotti could have a turn and do the same thing. This all went smoothly, and I paid close attention as they individually set the gun down or picked it up. I correct thumb position a couple of times so nobody would get cut by the slide.

Having done that, I showed them how to load a magazine; how to insert it into the gun; how to rack the slide. I showed them how ejecting the magazine does not necessarily unload the gun, leaving one in the chamber, and made sure they understand that several people die every year because of this mistake. We talked briefly about sight picture, and on the .45, I explained the use of the Lasergrips.

We talked briefly about posture. I didn’t go into detail on the several standard postures, we just touched on this subject.

The other thing I forgot to go through in detail until later was how to unload the gun, removing the round in the chamber. I emailed Dr. Holda later and explained the steps. The next time I find myself teaching shooting to somebody, I’m going to make myself a checklist.

They ran a couple of magazines through both guns, with targets at the first wire, and did well enough that I moved them to a target on the second wire. Accuracy was better than adequate for now, especially given that “sight picture” was a brand new concept.

After we were done with the shooting, we visited a bit, and they left.

My interpretation of the day:

This is a bit of a unique situation. Most people that take up shooting either do it for fun, for hunting, for self defense, or even all three. Dr. Holda and his wife are, so far as I can tell, doing it for another reason: to learn about an aspect of reality that is about to have an impact on the college for which Dr. Holda is responsible. I believe that Dr. Holda is sincere in his desire to understand this from the inside out. From conversation, I believe he will consider actually carrying on campus himself when it becomes legal to do so. Dr. Holda, his wife, and several others over at Kilgore College are signed up to take the CHL course in a few weeks; I have corresponded with their instructor; so I know they are serious about it.

Dr. Holda, from what I can gather, has been anti-gun in his beliefs at least as regards college campus carry. I am fairly sure that he would really prefer the status quo, but he believes the law will be changed to allow campus carry; so he is taking steps to learn everything about it that he can, even to the extent that he and his wife intend to become licensed. This is the act of a very responsible person, in this context. I have to say that I admire the man for his willingness to tackle something new like this, without apparent hesitation or trepidation. His wife Scotti showed the same willingness. Both acquitted themselves as well today as anyone I have ever seen. Both were in good humor and seemed to enjoy the experience, and I enjoyed their company.

I believe that Dr. Holda relayed what he thought at the time was the truth, in the TV interview that started my involvement in this. His sources were anti-gun sources, and we all know how they paint anything to do with guns. Garbage in, garbage out. This does not make Dr. Holda a bad person, and his actions since then have been exactly the actions someone would make who, having publicly displayed ignorance, sincerely and honestly wants to correct that situation. I believe Dr. Holda is an honorable man trying to do the right thing.

Having said all that, we haven’t talked politics or religion yet. (Grin).

As for me, I learned one major thing about my own skills, and that is this: If I’m going to teach anyone, next time I will make a check list. Doing it off the top of my head, I missed a few not-so-trivial things, particularly eye safety and showing them how to remove the round in the chamber.

Well, you live and learn; or you don’t live long. Happy New Year!


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90 Responses to New Shooters – Dr. William Holda and his wife

  1. Bill Holda says:

    Contrary to his own misgivings, Brian is a GREAT teacher. He is knowledgable, personable and genuine. Scotti and I felt fortunate to have a teacher who was sincere and not full of himself. We appreciate the time, attention, and use of guns and ammo he gave to us. Kudos to Brian for those of you who read this blog!

    • Dr. Holda,

      I would like to personally apologize for any remarks I’ve made over your statements to the press. It is quite a feat of responsibility for you to seek the truth in the matter, and I applaud that.

      Popgun, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. Seems you do catch more flies with honey, after all.

      (a very humble) tweaker

  2. R P Beatty says:

    Dr. Holda, I am an NRA Life Member/Instructor, and I am compelled to comment on your willingness to do your research. Dr. Armstrong beat into me ‘Always Check Your References’, as it is quite easy to be led astray by those who deal in passionate argument rather than fact. I would challenge you and your wife to continue shooting, as you will make new friends for a lifetime. Besides, you never know, you just might get the bug and wind up a Cowboy Action Shooter, or ‘Toeing the Line’ next to me at Camp Perry.

  3. Kelly says:

    Well done by all parties in my humble opinion! Kudos for Brian and the Holda’s! As an instructor I always seem to forget something or run out of time even with a State or NRA Instructor checklist.

    Thanks for making the experience a good one for the Holda’s Sir! You have my respect!

  4. TXGunGeek says:

    Thank you sir for taking on this task and representing us gun owners in a most respectable way. If you would like to talk about teaching I would be more than happy to discuss or even get together with you sometime.

    You have my e-mail and blog address in the header so please feel free to drop a note. I also added a link to you on my site as from what I can read you have an interesting site and look like someone to keep up with.

    Thanks again,

  5. pax says:

    Kudos to you for taking the time to educate rather than simply slinging mud or writing someone off — and even bigger kudos to Dr. Holda and his wife for taking the time to learn about something new and being willing to examine the facts. Good people doing good things. Good on ya!

  6. Thank you, Dr. Holda, for making the effort to learn something about guns and objectively weigh your opinions concerning them.

    And thank you, Popgun, for being a worthy ambassador for shooting.

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  8. G N Holbrook says:

    Pop Gun: Many thanks for the update.

    Dr. and Mrs. Holda: Best wishes to you in all your future endeavors. You seem to be stand up folks.

  9. Joe Sankey says:

    To all involved – Well Done!

    You have all been a living testament to the idea that the marketplace of ideas – like any other marketplace – requires innovation to move forward. Trying something new (i.e. an opposing viewpoint) seems to be harder and harder these days for so many of us who allow ourselves to be dogmatic to the point of defensiveness on way, way too many issues.

    We are all better for having seen your example. Bravo.

  10. julie says:

    Kudos all round 🙂

    I’ve spent a lot of time training newbies and it is easy to forget something – having a checklist is a good way to go 🙂

  11. Don M says:

    This unworthy one will comment his recollection that Prof. Lott was a soft anti-gun guy before he did research that led to his book More Guns, Less Crime. After the research, he became an advocate. When one’s opinions are based on facts, that sometimes happens.

  12. Great job Popgun!

    AND, Mr. Holda- thanks for being open-minded enough to see the facts for yourself; kudos to you & your wife for accepting Popgun’s offer.

    My apologies for any “crankitude” you may have experienced… 8^)

  13. Groundhog says:

    Glad you did that. I sent him a “thank you” for his efforts as well.

  14. Hobie says:

    Dr. Holda,

    Glad you took a chance on getting some empirical data!

  15. Roberta X says:

    Wow. Congratulations all ’round. I’m happy at the outcome — and even more pleased at how both you and Dr. Holda approached this.

  16. Fantastic story. I always say taking new shooters to the range does far more for our Second Amendment rights than any amount of political/legal wrangling.

    Here is a quick reference I threw together a while back for a someone (not an experienced instructor) taking a newbie to the range. The first page is for them, the second page is for you. It isn’t all-inclusive, but it does provide that checklist you were looking for. (pdf) (word)

    Feel free to use/copy/update/distribute as you will.

  17. Patrick says:

    Very awesome, Popgun, and welcome to a new hobby Dr. and wife!

  18. Matt G says:

    Comes now the time that I need to post a retraction.

    Thank you, Dr. Holda, for you and your wife’s decision to accept Popgun/Brian’s invitation to experience handgun use, and learn responsible techniques.

    The willingness to keep one’s mind open to new information on a subject is a hallmark of a true educator.

  19. popgun says:

    Thank you all for the kind and supportive comments!


  20. Homer says:

    If I may be so forward as to suggest it, perhaps pursuing NRA Instructor Certification for teaching Basic Pistol might be worthwhile. What you described above covering with the Holdas is a shortened version of the NRA F.I.R.S.T. Steps course, a 4-hour course designed to introduce raw beginners to gun safety and shooting. Some advantages to Instructor Certification are that not only do you get a course curriculum in the Instructor Manual for each course – you wanted a checklist, there it is – you can order student materials from the NRA, which are surprisingly inexpensive. The F.I.R.S.T. Steps course uses the Basic Pistol Course Student Guide and, among other things, includes a foldout gun safety guide, both of which would have given them some handy reference materials to take home with them, and given you (as the instructor) a reference text in which you could point out things as you demonstrated them, so they could review them at home later.

    • popgun says:

      Hi, Homer;

      I appreciate the detailed suggestion. I have never looked in to becoming an actual instructor, but now I’m interested, and you’ve given me some good information there.


  21. Rich says:

    Pop Gun:

    Good job! I do a lot of the background instruction for a junior rifle cub and it is amazing how even with a check list you tend to forget something. I am pursuing my instructor certification and would recommend it to you as it appears you enjoyed doing it.

    Good Luck

    Dr. Holda:

    Depending on how long your school has been in existence it is entirely possible that it once had a rifle team. All the schools that I went to from BS to PhD had teams up till the 70’s and the craziness set in. Having grown up in NYC and traveled the subways with a cased rifle back them I know how far we have gone down this road. It is not the normal person that you have to worry about. As someone earlier mentioned, read John Lott’s book, More Guns, Less Crime. It is an eye opener.

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  23. mikee says:

    My only suggestion to improve on this excellent beginning for the Holdas is to try a 22LR revolver or pistol. The lack of recoil and lower noise level of each shot allows one to enjoy learning how to shoot a little more. At least one can shoot as much or longer in a less tiring manner, and avoid some of the unpleasant flinching one can have with the larger calibers.

  24. Art Eatman says:

    I’ve been in this gun-squabble deal since 1967. One can accumulate quite a bit of frustration in forty-three years, trying to get facts through a wall of emotion. This is one of the few instances of somebody actually getting beyond the usual, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts,” sort of behavior.

    Heart waming, actually. Thanks, popgun.

  25. Robert says:

    I’m in Tyler. going to put you on my blogroll at Blackfork

  26. Earl says:

    I like the story, like the players and I like teaching people how to shoot better and safely. Bad manners and foul language don’t make any bullets nor thoughts hit the target. I hope more people continue to teach marksmanship, and having a check list is a good start. I like only one round in the first magazine of a semi-auto for first time shootersm but that is just me.

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  28. Dan says:

    I don’t know what to say. Does BRAVO! BRAVO! work? It has been said in more ways than I can believe. Thanks Popgun, and Dr. and Mrs Holda for both effort and open-mindedness.

  29. Bill Holda says:

    Thanks to all of you. Scotti and I are going through the CHL certification this Saturday, January 8. Our instructor is a former marine who travels all over the State of Texas certifying legislators, Public Safety Officers, and a whole host of folks. He is actually bringing all of the up-to-date research and laws re: educational facilities so that I will be literate. A message to all of us: we need not be so polarized. There is a lot of common ground and there are people who will respond to reason. I hope that I am one of them. Thanks to Brian, to Jack in Kerrville and to Zack in Houston for reaching out and engaging us in a rational manner. I am willing to be an example of how we all can reserve the right to change our mind as the truth reveals itself to us. thanks again. Bill

  30. Patrick says:

    It is incredible that you have done such a complete turn around. Good luck with your certification. I hope all goes smoothly.

  31. Old NFO says:

    Well done Sir, well done!

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  33. CMfromIL says:

    Great article. I would only make one suggestion if you ever show a new shooter ‘the ropes’. Rather than loading the pistol with 4 rounds, I typically start a new shooter with 1 round.

    This way they (and I) know that after pulling the trigger, there will be no more shooting until we have a chance to talk about it. They get a feel for any recoil, and I have a chance to evaluate their handling of the firearm. After that inital shot, I then usually ask them if they would like to continue to fire. If so I’ll load up the magazine with 5 shots, and the next round a full load if they wish to continue after that.

    Other than that (and safety glasses!) it was a great service you provided them.

  34. Crotalus says:

    Dr Holda is a rarity among “anti-gunners”. He actually was willing to visit the other side and see for himself that nearly all gunnies are normal people who would not shoot someone except in self-defense. Try this with Joan Peterson, aka japete, who runs the blog “Common Gunsense”, and I’ll bet that you’ll be turned down flat, probably with a lot of “How dare you!” invective. Most anti-gunners are set in their ways, and refuse to be shown the truth. I have heard of reporters being invited for a day at the range, just for this kind of experience, and when they wrote their stories, they were biased to the hilt, and the inviters wondered why they even tried. My thoughts? Don’t stop doing it. You might find more gems like D. Holda, but be prepared for a lot of outright hostility.

    As far as japete goes, when we comment on her blog, we usually are civil with her, and mostly she is civil with us. But she has proven resistant to all our arguments, and she can be dismissive, and occasionally calls us “gunloons”. In her defense, though, she lost her sister to murder by her sister’s husband, so she’s operating emotionally from a really horrible personal tragedy. It’s wrong-headed, but understandable. mikeb32000, who comments against us on her blog has a blog of his own, and he’s nothing but snark, vitriol, and venom. Don’t waste your time with that knucklehead.

    • popgun says:

      Hi, Crotalus;

      I also had an exchange with japete at one point, which caused me to make this blog posting:

      I did this before I heard about her tragedy, and I might have approached it differently had I known about that.


      • Crotalus says:

        Yes, Popgun, I’m willing to give anti-gun people the benefit of the doubt when they have suffered something so tragic. Gently as possible, I will argue our points and then remind them that I will stand against any legislative effort from them and their kind to further infringe my 2A rights.

        BTW, I wonder how japete deals with Suzanna Hupp’s tragedy, and her response to it?

  35. Antimedia says:

    Dr. Holda, I commend you for your willingness to listen to reasonable arguments and consider them. I apologize for the uncivilized responses that you’ve gotten. Perhaps I can help you understand why you unleashed the whirlwind. For those of us who believe in freedom and small government, our most frustrating interactions are with the educational systems that constantly teach the liberal line rather than the truth and those who use disproven emotional arguments in an attempt to disarm honest law-abiding citizens. Since you appeared to represent both, you experienced the full ferocity of the frustration of our side.

    Might I suggest, now that you and your wife are getting your CHL, that you join the TexasCHLForum? Since you are a college President, I’m certain your time is valuable, but if you can eke out some minutes to follow the discussions there, I think you will find some people who take their right to keep and bear arms very seriously and seek to be as responsible as they possibly can.

    One last suggestion, sir. If you are going to hold a CHL, you need to practice consistently and regularly. There is nothing more dangerous than someone with a gun who is unfamiliar with the weapon and unpracticed in its use.

  36. Jim Longley says:

    So, why haven’t we seen an equally public retraction?

    And wouldn’t it have been nice to know the facts before making the statements?

    • popgun says:

      Hi, Jim;

      In defense of Dr. Holda, he told me this:

      “I did an additional interview two days later and acknowledged that I was incorrect and apologized for any harm that was done.”

      Of course, that one didn’t get passed around nearly as much as the first one.

      Second, yes, it would have been nice; but you have to be aware of your ignorance before you can choose to fix it. I doubt there are very many of us who, on one subject or another, don’t think we know more about something than we really do. I know I’m guilty of it, myself.

      That’s why I cut him some slack. ONE misstatement, immediately corrected, is a lot more forgivable than those who continuously spout lies – and know that they are doing so. At least in my mind. The reason I spent time working with Dr. Holda is that he admitted to being wrong and tried to make it right. A lot of people won’t do that.


      • Popgun, I commend you for taking Dr. Holda and his family to the range, and I commend them for stepping outside their comfort zones and taking the time to learn about the other side of this issue. But I think you’re downplaying Dr. Holda’s comments and overstating his supposed apology.

        Here is the published text of the “apology” Holda offered during the second interview: “Yes. I was incorrect. But that doesn’t really change my opinion of it being an ill-conceived and really a bad decision.”

        And then, of course, there’s the matter of the follow-up email Holda sent to individuals who wrote to complain about his initial on-air comments. The opening paragraph of the response states, “You are correct re: my inaccuracy re: the Killeen shooting. However, I invite you to look at the information on the Violence Policy Center website; you will see a list of innocent individuals who have been killed by the licensed carriers of handguns. We often do not hear about this side of the story – that concealed handguns are not only used for protection, but have been used inappropriately on occasion to kill innocent individuals.”

        He didn’t so much apologize as spend ten words conceding the obvious fact that he was in error about the Luby’s massacre. He then spent the next 500 words using deeply flawed studies and inaccurate facts to defend his opposition to campus carry.

        After enduring heavy criticism for continuing his flawed campaign against campus carry, Dr. Holda began proposing compromises–attempts at (unnecessarily) watering down any current or future campus carry legislation. In the cited emails, he suggests steps such as requiring license holders to register with campus police (despite the fact that all police in the state of Texas can easily check to see whether or not a person is a CHL holder) and requiring students who carry on campus to enroll in a firearm safety class run by the institution (despite the fact that applicants for a Texas CHL must pass a course covering, among other things, firearm safety).

        I genuinely respect the fact that Dr. Holda has chosen to reach out to his opponents and try to gain a better understanding of our point of view, but everyone will have to forgive me if I don’t start singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” just yet.

      • popgun says:

        Hi, Scott;

        Well, I will admit that I have had quite a few email exchanges with Dr. Holda during the last couple of months, and I do believe his viewpoints have evolved during that time; not just because of me, but also Jack Burch was conversing with him.

        Even so, I can’t read the man’s mind. I suppose it is possible I’ve been hornswoggled. But I don’t think so. At the time he made the statements to which you refer, he had not yet had the conversations with myself and Jack Burch to which I referred.

        During these conversations, he (after a while) indicated interest in learning how to shoot, and even becoming licensed. Now he’s learned the basics, and this weekend he’s taking the CHL class.

        So, look at the timeline. Your comments are based on a period within a few days of the uproar caused by his false statements. Mine are based on the several months since then.

        I can’t guarantee he’s made a 180 degree reorientation – I’m not psychic. But he’s come a long way from where he was a couple of months ago, demonstrably in acceptance of guns and shooting. Granted, he probably still isn’t keen on campus carry, even though I am; but he is willing to learn in order that he can administer it properly at his college, for instance by making provisions for gun storage in the dorms.

        All I can tell you is what I have seen. I can guarantee that he no longer thinks we’re a bunch of rootin’ tootin gunslinging red necks.

        Oh, as a footnote – I’m definitely on your side, here. I don’t think there should be ANY gun free zones. Sign based gun free zones don’t stop evil people, only honest ones.


      • Popgun,

        Perhaps you’re right that Dr. Holda’s views on concealed carry have changed over the past six weeks. I haven’t spoken with him and have no way of know his current feelings on the subject. But his initial missteps comprised more than simply “ONE misstatement, immediately corrected.”

        Dr. Holda chastised Representative-Elect Simpson for not consulting him prior to filing a campus carry bill and then displayed an astounding level of ignorance on the subject. When he was called out for his statements about the Luby’s massacre, he responded with a further litany of factually inaccurate arguments against campus carry.

        I certainly don’t appreciate the small-minded, inarticulate gun nuts who wrote to Dr. Holda wishing ill upon him and his family, but I also don’t think that the gun rights community’s anger toward Dr. Holda was misplaced. His earlier statements are indicative of the level of ignorance and prejudice frequently encountered by right-to-carry advocates, and such ignorance and prejudice shouldn’t be downplayed by suggesting that the perpetrator was just a little confused about the facts.

        With that said, I think it’s great that you and Jack Burch were able to reach out to Dr. Holda and help him gain a better understanding of both concealed carry and the functionality of modern firearms, and I hope you’ve provided him with not only a better understanding of the issue but also a newfound respect for the people who choose to lawfully carry concealed handguns on a daily basis.

  37. denton says:

    Kudos to all concerned!

    Give or take the occasional bad actor, some of the nicest, most responsible people you’ll ever meet are at the shooting range. It’s a lot more like your bridge club or tennis league than the wild, wild west.

  38. RPB says:

    As a 55 year old with a couple degrees, and soon to be returning to college student who previously was on staff at two different colleges in Houston, and also a CHL, I must say I have a new respect for Bill Holda.

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  40. AndyC says:

    While I was annoyed at the time that yet another (apparently educated) man had the gall to preach on a subject about which he very obviously knew little, it’s really refreshing to see a man who’s big enough to take the initial steps to check out the other side of the story.

    Thank you for your intellectual honesty, Dr Holda; welcome to the shooting-family and have a safe, enjoyable time.

  41. Robert says:

    Kilgore College used to teach a gunsmithing class in the not too distant past.

  42. Jim Longley says:

    It was a lie, and it was hardly “immediately corrected.”

    • Brian Epps says:

      Sorry, Jim, but if someone says what they believe at the time to be true, it is not a lie, it is being wrong. Upon learning that he was wrong, Dr Holda made the effort at the first opportunity to correct his misstatement. That is as immediate as circumstanced allow.

      What do you want, a full page mea culpa in the NYT? Considering the number of academic fictions a professor is steeped in on campus, any correction at all is both notable and commendable.

  43. Jack Burch says:


    Let us assume it was, we all make mistakes. Shall we judge Dr. Holda by what he has done to remedy his mistake or crusify him to make ourselves feel better? Mr. Lott could have been turned into an enemy by poor treatment but his ground breaking research is one of the reasons we have arrived at this point in history with respect to gun laws and public perception of firearms in general.

    So I guess that I would rather try to visit with the Dr. Holdas of the world and use common sense and facts to make them see the light. If in the end the choose not to then at least I have been civil to them and that is never wrong.

    I had a similar experience with Dr. Holda in my contactw with him. I actually looked at the website he was quoting and learned a great deal from that. It allowed me to be better informed on what the Brady Bunch is saying. In the end Dr. Holda used his brain instead of his emotion on this subject.

    Lastly I will tell you that Dr. Holda has a few really interesting points that need addressing with respect to campus carry. Because of this we will be able to better address the issue when it comes up in the Texas Legislature this session.

    Keep on rockin Doc. Let us know how the class is this weekend.

    Jack Burch

  44. Bill Holda says:

    I fully understand the folks who are rightly suspicious of my current motives or status. I really don’t expect any accolades for changing my view. I truly believe that concealed carry on campus will pass this session. I would rather understand this issue first-hand and be at the table to discuss this in an informed manner, rather than complain from the sidelines. I have come to a much greater understanding of the type of persons who seriously carry and stay current in their proficiency. As an educator, I have to stay open to changing my mind as the truth reveals itself to me. That truth can come through facts, data, other persons and new information and experiences. In my conversations with the CHL community, I think we have moved forward by identifying some issues which will need to be worked out regarding residence hall students, early college high schools and some additional management issues. More importantly, I think there are some relationships and personal connection which will endure and be more valuable long term. If the CHL carry passes this session, I will work diligently to not only make this manageable for us, I will try to arrange certification classes for our employees, so that they too will understand better. I think it is fair to have concerns but at the same time to be open to this change in our environment. Bill

    • Tam says:

      Dr. Holda,

      Since I have not done so yet in this venue, let me again apologize for my description of you as either an “idiot or a liar”. I was wrong, and I am sorry.

      Regardless of how you wind up coming down on this issue, your willingness to re-examine it with an open mind reflects most favorably on your character. You are a credit to your profession.


  45. Kelly says:

    @ Dr. Holda,

    You state: “I have come to a much greater understanding of the type of persons who seriously carry and stay current in their proficiency. As an educator, I have to stay open to changing my mind as the truth reveals itself to me. ” Bravo to you sir. I must state that I am an educator on many levels. I have served as an Adjunct Instructor for over ten years at the Community College level in addition to my “Day job”. I am also certified to teach my state’s equivalent of your’ CHL and the NRA Basic Pistol class. Of all the things I do the latter two I find the most rewarding.

    You speak of legal, civil, liability, and implementation issues that may affect your institution if your state passes CHL for campuses. I understand that on one level. You are an administrator after all.

    I will however tell you that I cannot legally carry on Campus and who would you rather be there if an “incident” occurred? Unarmed faculty and staff along with a rather weak and unmotivated private protective service under contract or me? I know what the PPS people need to do to qualify in this state. Most view the qualification with the duty weapon with dread. They treat it with the same contempt an administrative assistant has for learning the latest version of Microsoft Office. I have been through three Federal background checks, fingerprinted, and spent a lot of vacation time and money to have the right to teach people the laws concerning the use of deadly force in this state. Teaching people how to run a computer network has no import compared to that.

    As with any sampling of a community with one common ground you will get the “2 percent”fanatics. I must say however I have been silent for too long in my belief in the right to keep and bear arms. I am a member of the Colt Collectors Association and it pains me to see what law abiding citizens must do know to obtain pieces of history simply because they are firearms.

    It also pains me to see gun owners painted with a very broad brush. Anti gun proponents are equally painted with that brush but I have not been able to open an honest discourse with many of them as they retreat usually shouting when quietly presented the facts. Perhaps it was because they were not expecting it from me.

  46. Dan H says:

    Great job on educating someone especially when they were mistaken in their information and someone who has a larger amount of influence.

    I’ve found I truly love teaching new shooters. It’s definitely something you get better at with practice. The first few times I did it I was disorganized and disjointed. Now it comes pretty naturally.

    Keep up the good work!

  47. Eric S says:

    What a refreshing event in this time when battlelines are being drawn on both sides of this issue. I have also had the pleasure/task/responsibility of teaching a few who were either anti or uninformed about firearms. Only a truely closed mind won’t accept the facts when presented with a mind towards an honest dialog. That is all we ask of our debating equals, honesty. What has astounded me are the number of people I instructed who had anti-leaning sentiments but a curiosity to try a firearm. Dr Holda, consider getting a .22 for plinking. You’ll be amazed how a 1/2 hour on a range will be a complete distraction from everyday stresses. My own preference is outdoor ranges, it just lends well to enhancing the endeavor.

    Now to plant a seed………a college rifle team.

  48. RPB says:

    Eric S … “outdoor range” … “.22 for plinking”
    YMCA in Houston used to do that for the youngsters, 4-H clubs too.
    Gets kids outside to get some Vitamin D, fresh air and away from the Playstation/phone/computer/BookFace thingy a while:)
    And I believe it’s true “When you take your kids fishin’ and huntin’ when they are young, you won’t be fishin’ through their stuff and huntin’ for them when they are older”
    As well as “Teach your kids about guns, before TV or Street gangs do”
    Also: “Teach your children guns, like cars, are “dangerous” … not “bad” Good and bad are attributes which objects can’t possess.

    In addition to bringing families closer with a common outdoor activity (not playing WII together), it’s a great cheap hobby, good exercise, teaches responsibility …. and .22 ammunition is cheap for practicing too…. “Family time” sure beats them learning stress relief with anti-social games/drugs/alcohol etc….

  49. Eric S says:

    All 5 of my kids shoot, my oldest daughter now has her carry license, the youngest at 13 is the best shot. They learned responsibility and gained confidence through firearms, as well as other challenges such as tough hikes at night in thick woods. None of them drive like fools, drink like idiots or engage in illegal activities. 3 are in college, one has his own business and the youngest is coming along. 3 of them no longer shoot much but all are past any curiosity, know what to do if a gun happens to appear (friends, parties, etc) and are happy Daddy is usually armed.

    A short story. I work for a non-profit organization, a drug rehab. We get community service kids regularly from the courts. One showed unusual promise but was definately on a bad path. No father to speak of and a mother who was very ill, he was essentually on his own. I needed help so I hired this 16y.o. to assist me. After a few months I offered to take him shooting and he accepted with enthusiasim. And fell in love with the sport. I explained to him the issues of criminality and drug use and how they will cause him to lose the right to use firearms. He got the message loud and clear. Today he is a bona fide apprentice, a good father of one, works full time+, owns his own car, pays his bills, and is a member of the same club as I am. We shoot trap together every Thursday night. This is an example of a gun saving a life. He found a better path than he was on because a firearm was placed before him, along with the responsibility the freedom requires.

  50. htom says:

    Commendations all around, it seems.

    Dr. Holda, thank you for being willing to learn; please do not be too upset if your wife (at least initially) becomes a better shot than you do. Women seem to learn the basics of handgun control faster than men, although men can catch up and pass many of them. I suspect that this is a variation of the “men don’t ask for directions” problem, the ladies just seem to hear instruction better. Maybe it’s just that boys taught themselves a lot of bad shooting habits, when they were four or five using their fingers as guns, that the girls didn’t. A .22 semiauto is a great practice tool, just remember that they, too, can kill, and you need to follow the Four Rules for them just as well as you do for the “bigger” guns. Best wishes for your and your wife’s futures, and I pray you’ll never have occasion to use a firearm in self-defense.

    You, too, Popgun, in that wish, and thank you for being a good ambassador for our sport and our self-defense needs. You seem to have the ideal temperament for becoming an excellent instructor, and I urge you to look into the NRA training (and your states CHL instructor training, too.)

  51. Bill Holda says:

    I have already figured out (1) that I need to let my wife select her own handgun; (2) that as in most cases, she surpasses me; (3) the wife is always right, and (4) people are people — they don’t fit into “classes” — they are persons. Brian and I are about as different as night and day, but I look forward to the time where he comes to our house and we continue to connect as friends. It is amazing how controversy can bring disparate groups of folks together to realize that they actually have more in common than not. I sincerely offer my respect to all of you in the carrying community as very good folks who try to make this a better place! bill

    • Kelly says:

      How fantastic is that! I know that Brian will represent us well when he visits!
      I know that you must think at times that you are “Drinking from a fire hose” with all of us, but I know that trying to distill a lifetime of knowledge, history and experiences from all of us must seem overwhelming!

  52. john b says:

    I never disparaged you on my blog Dr. Holda.
    One, I have a new love in my life, who saw a lot of bad gun manners from the self-educated, good-ol-boys in the Deep South that she used to call home.

    And Two, I read your profession as University Administrator, and said “What’s the use? He’s too set in his ways to be swayed by my arguments.”

    Thank you sir, for proving me wrong.
    And Popgun! Thank you sir, you are a better man than I.

  53. GuyFromNJ says:

    Well done. May I suggest a condensed lesson for the totally inexperienced? Teach them a simple procedure for what to do if they “find “a handgun, say a revolver. That is: safely approach it, handle it, direct it, and secure it. It’s the first thing experienced gun handlers do–the most basic transaction. Preferably the “securing” includes how to check and unload the revolver (to fully secure it). Then do the same with a pistol, distinguishing between magazine ejection and checking/clearing the chamber.
    This empowers them to (potentially) exert control in the presence of a firearm in a meaningful, practical way. In performing each step, they improve the level of safety inherent in the situation.
    Real life example: some jerk showed my her boyfriend’s pistol, sweeping the barrel across me. I asked her to point it into the corner, then (with her permission) approached and took it from her hand. Had I simply asked to see it, I’m sure she would have pointed the muzzle at me while handing it over. (Situational awareness dictates the approach, handle, direct steps.) Naturally, I then checked and secured it, eliminating the danger.
    The idea is to give the inexperienced person a directly useful primary skill, in the simplest available way, in the privacy of the home, in just a few minutes. No need for a trip to the range. Of course, most people will never “find” a gun, but they will have learned the basic skill gun owners use when showing each other their weapons, and will have demystified handguns. Their new knowledge displaces the fear that comes from ignorance.
    Finally, they should be instructed that they may not be able to safely unload an unfamiliar or complex firearm and must physically secure it until an “expert” can check/unload it.

  54. RPB says:

    (1) that I need to let my wife select her own handgun

    I’ve found that it’s usually necessary to have them pick out which “Holster Purse” they’ll use, along with matching shoes too. (chuckles)

  55. AndyC says:

    Good luck with the CHL course, Dr Holda.

    Some of it can be dry, sure – but it’s vital to know when you may and more importantly when one may not use a firearm in self-defense. As we say down here, “A CHL is *not* a Batman license” – your journey has just begun and there will be a lot of learning involved.

    From a safety perspective – please bear in mind that firearms safety is something that you must practice every single time you pick up a firearm – it’s not something that one learns by rote and then simply discard as having been “learned”. Google the “4 Rules of Gun Safety” and *apply* them always – they were written in others’ blood that our own need not be spilled.

    Come back here and brag about your score on the CHL shooting test – I bet that your wife beats yours 😉

  56. htom says:

    (3) The wife is always right.

    🙂 Amen. Makes the world so much simpler, too!

  57. Bill Holda says:

    Report on Qualifying Day: Scotti and I had a great day yesterday. It was FULL! Between the extensive classroom instruction, going to the range and completing the certification, we learned a lot. We used a Glock .45 mm at the range to qualify. I liked the gun; it had a nice feel and was pretty smooth. I had 3 in the “7” ring, 5 in the “8” ring and everything else was 9, 10, or X. After we qualified, we also did some rapid fire, just for the experience. The weather was beautiful, the instructor was GREAT, and overall it was a perfect day….except…. how ironic — that our CHL qualifying day was occurring while the shooting in Arizona occurred. Rested heavy on me all evening. Anyway, thanks to those of you who have stayed in touch and I look forward to more good discussion. Bill.

    • popgun says:

      Congratulations to both of you on your success, and best wishes as you proceed! The score is not bad considering you’ve probably shot less than a couple of hundred rounds in total, and that through three different guns.


  58. Desertrat says:

    I’ve watched many a family in my 76 years. I firmly believe that a child is a blank slate. How the child turns out depends upon the competency of the parents.

    Whether Arizona, Columbine or in a post office, “What we have here…” is a failure in competency in parenting.

    The shooting of a judge or a US Representative is no more tragic that the shooting of a classmate or a clerk in a U-Totem.

  59. tanna says:

    My hat is off to all of you.

  60. RPB says:

    “Rested heavy on me all evening”

    Mine too, and the world’s.

    I hesitate to mention my feelings about Brady Campaign’s actions since it occurred, so I won’t.

    Rather, I’d like to publicly thank one of the heroes, Joe Zamudio.

    If you don’t know who that is, and why I’m thanking that hero:
    (You can verify at YouTube, CNN, or the Dateline interview

    Joe Zamudio held down the shooting suspect, and secured the gun. (looks to be a young college-aged fellow)

    Dateline: (available at msnbc video “Is Congress’ heated rhetoric responsible?”
    at 2:56 to 3:36
    I had my hand on my gun, but I didn’t pull it out
    “You never drew your gun?”
    No, I didn’t need to.

    Four people instrumental in disarming Arizona shooting suspect
    “Patricia Maisch, Roger Salzgeber, Bill Badger and Joseph Zamudio.”

    Shooting witness What I saw – Joe Zamudio – CNN video

    On behalf of all affected by this:
    Thank you Joe for mitigating the potential damage that the shooter could have caused.

    • It’s easy for us to focus on Zamudio, since he is the only witness we know of who happened to be armed (he never drew his gun), but since he reached the scene after the gunman was already on the ground and simply helped hold him down, you might also want to thank the two men who wrestled the assailant to the ground and the one woman who tried to prevent him from reloading.

  61. RPB says:

    I’ll clarify:

    The older lady, an employee of Giffords, who HAD to be there and had already been shot reacted by fighting back in self defense…

    Joe is a college aged hero who chose to get involved and risk his life to help others (not self defense like the lady)….Armed or not.

    The other “heroes” were there, reacted … he was in a different store (Walgreens) around the corner, ran towards trouble to help.

    Not trying to deprive any of credit, but I think he deserves kudos for running towards trouble, instead of getting in the car and heading home with his ciarettes. Armed or not.

    When he arrived, yes the shooter was on the ground, *still holding his gun*. Joe secured it and another guy reached for it, Joe prevented anyone else from taking it (who knows, could have been an accomplice) I wouldn’t say “he simply held him down”

    Joe CHOSE to get involved, at the risk of his life, when he didn’t have to go there from Walgreens, the others were already on the scene and were trying to stop the action, but were unable to get the gun secured, and he CHOSE to run toward danger, help, succeeded in securing the weapon.

    That’s why IMHO, he deserves even more thanks than people engaging in self defense. Yes he was armed, didn’t draw, didn’t need to. That shows pretty good judgment for a college aged kid….agree?

  62. Jim Longley says:

    Mr. Holder, while I thank you for your apparant willingness to consider the other side, albeit in retrospect, I have to raise more criticism. It seems that all the flak about getting your facts straight before making statements has not resulted in any sort of lesson learned, just appeasement for political purposes.

    Where do I get this impression from? From such statements as: “We used a Glock .45 mm”

    Somply put, there is no such gun. There are Glock .45s, to be sure, and Glock 9mm and 10mm, but there are NO “Glock .45 mms.”

    • popgun says:

      Oh, come on, Jim, the guy is new to the field. I had to show them how bullets work. You cannot expect someone with absolutely no experience to get every technical detail right. You are trying to hold Dr. Holda to a standard that few if any of us could reach two weeks after our introduction to shooting.


    • Oh, give us a break, Jim. We might as well chastise you for misspelling Dr. Holda’s name as “Holder.”

      I’ve been fighting for campus carry almost forty hours a week, for three and a half years, and I’ve been as critical of Dr. Holda as any sane person should be (I put out the press release that started this whole @%&# storm). But at least I manage to maintain a tenuous grip on reality.

      When a gun rights advocate start judging people on their ability to properly identify caliber or on whether or not they know the difference between a magazine and a clip or on whether they sometimes say “assault rifle” when they mean “assault weapon,” that person has truly crossed the line between gun enthusiast and gun nut.

      You’ve have officially earned the right to start wearing camouflage all the time (even in the shower) and/or to issue yourself some sort of made-up military rank (“Colonel” seems to be popular). Whether or not to splurge for the accompanying “Molōn labe” or “From my cold, dead hands!” tattoo is completely up to you.

  63. RPB says:

    I’ve owned guns for … 42 years.
    I’m looking at buying a .410 shotgun. All I ever owned was 12 gauge.
    Until this week, I thought it was 410 “gauge” but just learned it’s not a gauge but .410 “bore size.”

    Learning is a process … hopefully never ending.
    It’s the thing I enjoy more than anything, except perhaps teaching.

  64. CHL Instructor says:

    Here ya go Jim! I expect you to memorize the exact technical details of all firearms manufactured around the world. Below is the exact technical data of what Dr. Holda and his wife used during range qualification. I wasnt going to chime in, but at some point the constant negative comments on the web need to stop. They did an excellent job, they are wonderful people, regardless of where they stand on any issue. That is what America is all about!

    GLOCK 21 .45 AUTO
    193 mm / 7.59 in.

    139 mm / 5.47 in.
    32.5 mm / 1.27 in.

    32 mm / 1.26 in.
    172 mm / 6.77 in.

    117 mm / 4.60 in.

    745 g / 26.28 oz.
    LOADED (~)
    1085 g / 38.28 oz.

    Standard: 13

    2.5 kg / 5.5 lbs.

    12.5 mm / 0.5 in.
    right hand, octagonal

    400 mm / 15.75 in.

    Oh and the rounds used during training were Winchester .45 Auto, FMJ, 230 grain!

  65. "gunner" says:

    dr. holda,
    i’ve followed this story at a little distance, (about 1,500 miles, give or take a bit) and you’ve earned my respect, not only for your willingness to listen to “the other side” initally, but also your joining the conversation in the blog. congratulations on earning your chl and i, like the others here, hope you enjoy shooting as a hobby, in peace and safety, and never need to use your gun in self defense.

    • bill holda says:

      There is a lot to learn! We qualified, but realize we need a lot of practice to become as proficient as we would want to be. The other really good result is that these new relationships and friendships help break down the stereotypes on both sides.

      • AndyC says:

        1. It’s quicker to become proficient if you have a good instructor who can help you spot your errors; that way you don’t have to churn your wheels wondering what you’re doing wrong. The good news is that becoming an accurate shot is actually easy to accomplish – becoming accurate *and* fast takes longer 😉

        2. Competence comes only with practice; it’s like playing the guitar in that the mere ownership of one doesn’t make one a rock star.

        3. If you ever decide that you want to shoot more often but the ammo is becoming expensive, you might want to consider hand-loading. Assuming you do everything the right way, it’s safe, it’s not difficult (I was taught how at the age of 10) and the savings are tremendous (mostly dependent on which projectile you decide to use.

        For example – I use my own home-cast lead bullets in my .45 and reloading 100 rounds of ammo costs me $4 (which is $3 for the primers, $1 for the powder) – versus $35 (and up) at the store.

        Anyway, good luck, safe shooting and thanks for the course feedback 🙂

  66. "gunner" says:

    thanks too, to you and your friends who helped dr. holda achieve his epiphany. well done.

  67. popgun says:

    Folks, thanks for all your support and blessings. It’s always good to make new friends, and the shooting sports is one way to do it. When we started our conversation, I had no idea where this would lead, and it has been fascinating to watch it develop.

    Dr. Holda and his wife Scotti are fine people, and not locked into a mindset that prevents them from examining alternate viewpoints. I hope that I have a similar mindset at least to some extent.

    If you hate people who disagree with you, you remove all possibility of those people becoming your friends. Hatred does more harm to you than to those you hate. In Biblical terms, the correct viewpoint is “hate the sin, not the sinner”. Unfortunately, I am not perfect in this regard, but when you can pull it off, sometimes this gives you the opportunity to change things in a positive way.

    That doesn’t mean it is not sometimes appropriate to be angry at the actions of others. Sometimes even lethal force is appropriate, as most of us here understand, since most of this thread has been about concealed carry for self defense. Personally, if I ever find it necessary to employ lethal force, I hope that I do it without hate – like I would kill a snake, for instance.

    In any case, enough preaching – I’m not qualified. Thank you all for your friendship, comments and support. I look forward to a continuing friendship with Dr. Holda and Scotti, and all of you as well!


  68. "gunner" says:

    dr. holda,
    there is indeed a lot to learn, i’ve been shooting and tinkering with fireams since my teenage years, i’m pushing three quarters of a century now and i’m still learning. my particular interest is in military small arms as history that i can own and have in my own hands, over the years i’ve owned specimens of pistols and rifles from both sides of world wars one and two and made a point of learning where they were used and something of the men who used them. no formal study but learning nonetheless. as you learn about firearms you’ll find that even the simple police revolver, the model 10 smith and wesson for example, has a good deal of history behind it, and the former u.s. service colt m1911a1 .45 is approaching its 100th birthday and still going strong.

  69. RPB says:

    Just a note, regarding “lots to leran”:

    There are many optional “Continuing Education” courses in many areas of shooting for sport or defense, which are good too. You might enjoy some of those too.

    Also, some Texas CHL forums where people can ask questions. Some of course have Law Enforcement officers, retired TABC employees, attorneys and such as members.

    I’m not suggesting any particular forum, nor particular class or instructor, look around, read some.

    Thanks for continuing your education, I’m continuing mine too, 🙂

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