Business Group Files Brief Against Healthcare Mandate Ahead Of Supreme Court Date

President Barack Obama is not allowed to expand healthcare coverage and then mandate every American purchase coverage to subsidize the added costs, a group suing to block the healthcare law said in a brief on February 7, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, the group laid out its arguments in advance of the landmark Supreme Court case that is scheduled to be heard next month. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) asserted that the law forces citizens to subsidize insurance companies that have to provide more encompassing coverage than under previous rules.

"The mandate is an unprecedented and draconian regulation that fails to accommodate the states’ traditional regulatory role and compels individuals to subsidize legal strangers through economically disadvantageous contracts," the NFIB said in its brief.

The court will also rule on whether the rest of the healthcare law can stand without the mandate, according to the Times.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Republican attorneys general at the State level have objected to the healthcare mandate, arguing that Congress lacks the authority to impose such a requirement on a nationwide basis. 

Another Green Energy Firm Stumbles: Fisker Auto Lays Off Workers

Fisker Automotive, the maker of an exotic electric sports car that is being produced with the help of a Federal loan guarantee, has announced layoffs while it is trying to secure more funding from the Department of Energy (DOE), ABC News reported.

According to the news outlet, the company announced that 26 employees have been let go from a factory in Delaware, a site where renowned automotive engineer Henrik Fisker promised to produce affordable electric sedans in the future.

ABC reported that the company is one of a handful of auto companies to receive sizable Federal loans to help stimulate and support a new electric car industry in the U.S.

The Associated Press reported that Fisker has received $193 million of the $529 million DOE loan, mostly for work on a car that sells for roughly $100,000. The introduction of the “Karma” was delayed due to regulatory issues and battery pack problems that prompted a voluntary safety recall.

The layoffs were defended by the company, but Delaware Governor Jack Markell felt the move was damaging to his State.

“We are frustrated that Fisker and the DOE have been unable to come to terms on revisions to their loan agreement in time to avoid this,” a spokesman for the Governor said in a statement.

Obama Notes U.S. And Israel Looking For Diplomatic Solution To Iranian Nuke Problem

President Barack Obama announced that he does not think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran over its disputed nuclear program, leaving the entire Middle East region on edge, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, Obama sought to assure allies and enemies alike that the U.S. was working with the Israelis to solve the crisis, “hopefully diplomatically.”

The AP reported that Obama’s comments came as Israel’s major allies in the West are working hard to talk it out of a unilateral military strike on the nuclear facilities of Iran, as they argued that an attack would only strengthen the leadership in Tehran.

“I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” Obama said during an interview with NBC News prior to the Super Bowl.

CNN reported that the comments by Obama came after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that there is a growing likelihood that Israel could attack Iran in the Spring. The President noted that both the U.S. and Israel were not taking any options off the table in terms of dealing with the nuclear program spearheaded by officials in Tehran.

U.S. Shuts Down Embassy In Syria, Diplomats Pull Out

The President Barack Obama Administration closed the U.S. embassy in Damascus on February 6, as American diplomats were pulled out in the face of the increasing violence in Syria, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, Robert Ford, the American ambassador, and 17 other U.S. officials left Syria and were expected to travel back home. This came as the international community stepped up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power.

The departure of the American diplomats comes two weeks after the State Department warned that it would close the embassy unless Assad's government offered more protection for the mission. U.S. officials cited safety concerns about embassy personnel and a recent series of car bombs, the AP reported.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that Ford remains the U.S. ambassador to Syria, and noted he would continue his work with the country, maintaining correspondence with the Syrian opposition and supporting "the peaceful political transition which the Syrian people have so bravely sought."

CNN reported that a senior State Department official noted that the Syrian government is being stretched beyond its ability to control the situation, and the myriad of violent elements in the country.

Lawmaker Wants Ban On Federally Funded Anti-Junk Food Campaigns

The issue over whether the Federal government should fund ad campaigns against sodas and junk food has received criticism, as opponents of the practice have noted that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill.

According to Fox News, a bill was introduced to Congress by Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) that would prohibit Federal money from going toward ad campaigns in opposition to junk food and in favor of “safe” foodstuffs and beverages.

“I don’t think it’s the Federal government’s (role) to try and regulate people’s habits on products that were deemed safe by the FDA,” DesJarlais told Fox News. “The government is reaching too far into our lives in trying to regulate personal habits.”

The news outlet reported that the he introduced the bill following a development in New York City regarding an anti-obesity subway poster. DesJarlais noted that $230 million in Federal stimulus money has gone toward this type of ad campaign.

Scripps Howard reported that other critics have noted that Federal stimulus money should be directed to creating jobs and not promoting certain lifestyles.

Pressure From Farmers Leads To Rethinking Of Youth Labor Laws

Succumbing to angry backlash from agriculture groups and family farmers across the U.S., the Administration of President Barack Obama announced it would scale back proposed new rules that would have limited the amount of work young Americans can do on farms, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, communities across the Midwest had attacked the rules, saying that they threatened a traditional way of life for people in the American heartland and could undermine the viability of many family farming operations.

The Times reported that the Labor Department announced it would “repropose” the new regulations, as the agency wanted to allow for more public comment regarding whether children could engage in farm-related jobs.

“It’s a positive step,” Paul Schlegel, director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau, told the newspaper. “We felt that what they were doing was wholly inconsistent with the way the law had been interpreted for decades.”

The Associated Press reported that the American Farm Bureau noted that the laws need to be sensible and within reason, as teenagers shouldn’t be prohibited from performing functions like operating a battery-powered screwdriver.

Mandate On Contraception Outrages Religious Groups

The President Barack Obama Administration’s decision requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control led to an uproar among Roman Catholics and members of other faiths, as the regulation, which was finalized a week ago, has sparked intense debate, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, Federal law lays out several criteria for the government to determine which organizations are religious, as the massive network of religious-run social service agencies is not clearly identifiable one way or another.

Critics have noted that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius chose the narrowest criteria for making the determination, and religious groups oppose the rule because it allegedly forces people of faith to choose between upholding church doctrine and following the law.

“It’s not about preventing women from buying anything themselves, but telling the church what it has to buy, and the potential for that to go further,” Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, representing some 600 hospitals, told the AP.

USA Today reported that the move by the Administration to require employers to cover birth control through insurance policies does not require churches themselves to cover contraception and no healthcare provider will be forced to prescribe the medication.

Gold Prices Hold At 11-Week High

The price of gold held near 11-week high levels as the metal benefited from investor expectations that U.S. monetary policy will remain ultra-loose boosted traders’ appetite for the safe-haven metal, Reuters reported.

According to the new outlet, a pledge by the U.S. Federal Reserve in January to keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels and several hints of more monetary easing has helped the precious metal. These moves by the Fed would help to keep the dollar weak and the opportunity cost of holding gold bullion low, as the commodity has risen 12.5 percent this year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the actions by the bank, noting the U.S. economy still needs support.

“Yesterday’s reaffirmation from the U.S. Fed (chairman) that he is committed to keep rates low… (has) given gold the necessary boost to hold gains and also break key resistance,” Pradeep Unni, senior analyst from Richcomm Global Services, told Reuters.

Bloomberg reported that gold held near the $1,760 an ounce mark, and analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted that bullion may reach $2,000 an ounce by the fourth quarter of FY2012.

Cantor Notes House GOP Bill Would Cut Small Business Taxes

House Republicans plan legislation that would grant small businesses a 20 percent tax reduction, a GOP leader noted on February 2, as the party is looking to create job opportunities to compete with President Barack Obama during the election year, The Associated Press reported.

The proposed tax cut would apply to every company with less than 500 employees, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a memo released to the press.

According to the news outlet, the bill will be introduced next month, but an aide noted that no decisions have been made about its price tag, the length of the period when the tax reduction would last and other details.

The AP reported that Cantor emphasized that the GOP proposal would help small businesses “retain and create new jobs” and set a date for when the bill should be approved, as federal income taxes are due in mid-April.

“I hope every Democrat will join us in passing the small business tax cut by April 15,” Cantor said.

POLITICO reported that Cantor also spoke about the highway and infrastructure bill, which he noted was a hallmark of the House Republicans’ job strategy, and said it will hit the floor the week of February 13.

Official Says Plans To Turn Over Taliban Detainees Held At Gitmo In Works

The President Barack Obama Administration has taken “operational steps” to move five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay as a piece of a confidence-building measure to help further peace talks between the U.S. and the Afghan arm of the organization, a senior Congressional official told Fox News.

According to the news outlet, the development came in advance of a hearing that features senior intelligence officials testifying about the current national security threats. The five detainees that may be chosen were said to be “hand-picked” by the Taliban in preparation for the talks.

Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that the Administration’s efforts to talk with the Afghan Taliban reeked of “desperation.”

“Candidly, I don’t like the direction they are going in (with) reconciliation,” Rogers said. “I base it on the things that I know about how the Taliban works. The tribal relations in the region, and I’ve been on the committee for six years looking at this stuff … it seems like a bit of desperation to try to catch up to their policy of ‘we’re getting out.'”

Reuters reported that one Republican lawmaker said public opposition would escalate sharply if and when the White House notified Congress that it intends to transfer the high-ranking members of the Taliban.

Budget Chief Notes Big Challenges For U.S.

The Federal government faces daunting budget challenges, according to Congress’ chief scorekeeper, which said that a churlish economy, low tax rates and increased spending on Social Security and healthcare are creating a volatile mixture for the U.S., The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, in a best-case scenario, that means a fourth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits, covering the entirety of President Barack Obama’s first term in office and the debt level nearing $20 trillion by the end of this decade.

The Times reported that as Congress continues to extend tax cuts and higher rates of spending, the situation may become much worse, as a total of $10 trillion more in deficits for the next decade will occur.

“Beyond the coming decade, the fiscal outlook is even more worrisome,” the Congressional Budget Office said in its report. “Although long-term budget projections are highly uncertain, the aging of the population and rising costs for health care would almost certainly push federal spending up sharply relative to GDP after 2022 if current laws remained in effect.”

The New York Times reported that the deficit for 2012 will be roughly $200 billion less than in 2011, but the combination of higher taxes and caps on spending will crimp economic growth.

Obama Makes Public Comments On Drone Strike

President Barack Obama publicly acknowledged the deadly drone strike campaign that has been waged on al-Qaida militants operating inside Pakistan and in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan border during an online address on January 30, Fox News reported.

According to the news outlet, during an online question-and-answer session, Obama surprised listeners with seemingly candid answers to a question about the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) worst kept secret: the drone missile strikes inside Pakistan.

“So, obviously, a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and going after al-Qaida suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the President said in response to a question.

Reporters asked White House spokesman Jay Carney about the President’s comments and he noted that he was “not going to discuss broadly or specifically supposed covert programs.”

The Washington Times reported that Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hinted at criticism of Obama for openly discussing the still classified CIA program, noting the committee was put in a difficult situation due to the secret nature of the strikes.

Komen Foundation Ends Planned Parenthood Partnership

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, a leading charity for breast cancer, announced that it will be ending its partnership with Planned Parenthood in education and prevention screenings at the health centers across the U.S., Fox News reported.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun told The Associated Press that the cutoff results from the organization’s newly adopted criteria that bars grants to entities that are under investigation by Federal, State or local authorities. This would apply to Planned Parenthood due to the fact that it is the focus of an inquiry launched by Representative Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), as he is looking to determine if public money was spent on abortions.

Anti-abortion groups welcomed the news, as the Alliance Defense Fund praised Komen “for seeing the contradiction between its lifesaving work and its relationship with an abortionist that has ended millions of lives.”

Fox News reported that a statement from Planned Parenthood noted that the Komen Foundation began informing local arms of the non-profit organization that their breast cancer initiatives would no longer be eligible for new grants beyond those agreements already in existence.

CBO Notes Federal Employees Make More Than Similarly Educated Workers In Private Sector

The generous benefit packages that many Federal employees receive have helped these individuals earn significantly better compensation than similarly educated workers in the private sector, according to a report released by Congress’ chief scorekeeper.

The Washington Times reported that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) noted that Federal workers earn 16 percent more in total compensation than comparable private-sector employees. This includes wages and benefits for these individuals.

According to the newspaper, only private-sector workers with the highest levels of education, such as lawyers and doctors, earn more than their counterparts in the public sector.

“For workers at all education levels, the cost of total compensation averaged about $52 per hour worked for federal employees, compared with about $45 per hour worked for employees in the private sector with certain similar observable characteristics,” analysts from the CBO said in the report.

Fox News reported that compensation was 36 percent higher on average for Federal workers with a high school degree, 32 percent higher for Federal employees with some college education and 15 percent higher for Federal workers with a bachelor’s degree.

Congress Attempts To Police Itself On Insider Trading

Members of Congress are looking to regain some sense of trust from the American people, as they have proposed rules that would subject themselves to tougher penalties for insider trading and a requirement to disclose stock transactions within 30 days, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, a procedural vote this week would allow the Senate to pass a bill prohibiting members of Congress from using nonpublic information for their own person benefit or “tipping” others to inside information that they could use for trading.

Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) co-wrote a bill that would subject any member of Congress who violates the ban on insider trading to investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department and regulatory agencies, the AP reported.

“We can start restoring some of the faith that’s been lost in our government by taking this common-sense step of making members of Congress play by the exact same rules as everyone else,” Gillibrand said of the bill put forth by her and Brown. “We must make it unambiguous that this kind of behavior is illegal.”

The Hill reported that Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) minimum net worth skyrocketed by almost $14 million in 2010 because of smart stock plays and real estate investments by her husband.

Pentagon Prepares For Talks With Iraq

The President Barack Obama Administration is preparing to commence talks with Iraq on ironing out the details of a long-term defense relationship that may include more U.S. training help, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s chief policy aide.

The Associated Press reported that Michele Flournoy, who is leaving her Pentagon post on Feb. 3, told a small group of reporters that the Administration is open to Iraqi suggestions concerning the scope and depth of the defense ties between the two countries.

“One of the things we’re looking forward to doing is sitting down with the Iraqis in the coming month or two to start thinking about how they want to work with” the U.S. military to develop a program of exercises, training and other forms of security cooperation, Flournoy told reporters.

Both sides had considered keeping several thousand American troops in Iraq to help with training, but they failed to reach an agreement prior to the expiration of a 2008 deal that required all U.S. forces to leave, according to the AP.

The New York Times reported that the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones in Iraq to protect the United States Embassy and consulates in the Arab nation, but Iraqi officials have expressed outrage over these actions.

Congress Attempts To Police Itself On Insider Trading

Members of Congress are looking to regain some sense of trust from the American people, as they have proposed rules that would subject themselves to tougher penalties for insider trading and a requirement to disclose stock transactions within 30 days, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, a procedural vote this week would allow the Senate to pass a bill prohibiting members of Congress from using nonpublic information for their own person benefit or “tipping” others to inside information that they could use for trading.

Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) co-wrote a bill that would subject any member of Congress who violates the ban on insider trading to investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department and regulatory agencies, the AP reported.

“We can start restoring some of the faith that’s been lost in our government by taking this common-sense step of making members of Congress play by the exact same rules as everyone else,” Gillibrand said of the bill put forth by her and Brown. “We must make it unambiguous that this kind of behavior is illegal.”

The Hill reported that Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) minimum net worth skyrocketed by almost $14 million in 2010 because of smart stock plays and real estate investments by her husband.

New Pentagon Plan Cuts Traditional Forces, Focuses On Drones And Special Ops

The Pentagon plans to expand its global network of drones and special-operations bases in a reorganization of the U.S. military, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the newspaper, even as the Pentagon cuts back on conventional forces, the reorganization is part of an effort to project the power of the U.S. The plan calls for a 30 percent increase in the American fleet of armed unmanned aircraft in the coming years, defense officials noted.

Defense officials also noted that the plan foresees the deployment of more Special Operations teams at a growing number of small “lily pad” bases across the globe. At the bases, soldiers will be able to mentor local allies and launch missions, according to the Journal.

“What we really want is to see the Army adopt the mentality of Special Forces,” a military officer who advises Pentagon leaders told the newspaper.

The Associated Press reported that Panetta wants to save money by reducing the size of Army and Marine Corps ground forces and limiting the U.S. presence in Europe.

Struggling In America, F-35 Fighter Sought By Allies

The F-35 stealth fighter, a plane that critics have called the costliest military plane ever, may have recently found a savior, as deep-pocketed allies of the U.S. are looking to add the machines to their arsenal, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the fighter was recently chosen by Japan over the Boeing F/A-18 and the Eurofighter Typhoon as a replacement for 42 aircraft in its aging air force. This marked the first victory for the plane in an open-bidding competition, though commitments have been made by countries such as England and Israel.

Manufacturer Lockheed Martin is looking to bring F-35’s to South Korea in a deal that could be the biggest single military purchase for the Asian nation ever. This would bring the country 60 top-of-the-line fighters worth more than $7 billion in a decision that could come as soon as October, according to the AP.

The Wall Street Journal reported that leaders from Lockheed Martin were distressed over the recent across-the-board cuts that would be imposed on the Defense Department if lawmakers do not alter the deficit-reduction deal.

Mortgage Deal Draws Criticism From All Sides

A draft settlement between mortgage companies and States that would allow the nation’s biggest banks to pay out billions in compensation for a raft of foreclosures has public interest groups across the political spectrum upset over the deal that was made behind closed doors, Fox News reported.

According to the news outlet, the deal is being strong-armed by the President Barack Obama Administration despite the opposition. The draft proposal was sent to State officials on January 23, and is supposed to overhaul the mortgage industry and help homeowners.

The deal would let the country’s five largest mortgage lenders pay out as much as $25 billion to cover new terms for homeowners who were driven out by foreclosure. However, people who lost their homes are unlikely to get them back or see much financial gain from the agreement, according to Fox News.

The Associated Press reported that officials from California are refusing to sign the proposed settlement, as they have called the deal between the State and five major banks – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial – inadequate.

Defensive Shooting Fundamentals

In my practice as a defensive firearms instructor, I work with many students of all ages on a private basis.

Over the years, numerous students have come to work with me to learn advanced defensive shooting techniques. In many cases, initial evaluation of their shooting skills revealed that they were terribly incompetent with a handgun and often unsafe as well. In almost every case, these people had never gotten the basics down. This is remarkable given the fact that many of these students reported that they had attended multiple tactical shooting schools before coming to me. This phenomenon left me wondering how they had missed the boat. I was also left wondering how it was that some “big name” firearms instructors with whom they said they trained, in some cases privately, never straightened them out.

In each of these cases, it was necessary for me to take them back through the basics. A shooter must understand and be able to perform the basics before he or she can expect to move on to develop competence in advanced shooting skills and tactics. In addition, if you are going to carry a concealed handgun, you must develop advanced competence. The purpose of this article is to provide a blueprint for learning the basics well so that you can then move on to develop advanced competence with the defensive handgun. However, recognize that you cannot learn this material from an article. You must practice and, ideally, you should work with a qualified shooting instructor.

Noted police and civilian firearms instructor and writer Massad Ayoob has been a pioneer in teaching people the fundamentals of defensive shooting in ways consistent with what happens physically and psychologically when you are fighting for your life. In the 1970s, he developed the Stressfire system, and it has evolved and been refined over the years. Ayoob’s Stressfire books are highly recommended reads.

Ayoob studied what happens to the human mind and body in the “stress flood” of a fight-or-flight scenario. Based on what he learned, he created techniques that not only wouldn’t fall apart under stress but, instead, would feed off the effects of the body alarm reaction and become more effective under stress.

The Stressfire shooting program emphasizes techniques that depend on simple gross motor skills as opposed to complex fine motor skills, since fine motor skills deteriorate under life and death stress. Also, gross motor techniques can withstand the tremors and increased physical strength attendant to the body-alarm-triggered adrenaline dump into the bloodstream.

You Must Learn The Basics Well

Think about it. In order to produce accurate hits with a handgun, you need to do all of the following: grip and hold the handgun securely and firmly; maintain a stable and balanced stance; keep the muzzle on the target — that is, aim the handgun properly and maintain good aim for follow-up shots (this is called follow-through); control and flow with the handgun’s recoil; and operate the trigger in a controlled manner.

Massad Ayoob’s Stressfire System emphasizes a five-point checklist that comprises the fundamentals for accomplishing the above: power stance, high hand, hard grasp, front sight and smooth roll of the trigger. This checklist provides a blueprint for practicing the fundamentals of marksmanship.

1. The Power Stance

Defensive handgunning is about fighting with a handgun. To gain the advantage in a fight, you need to adopt a stable, balanced and mobile stance. Your stance needs to be stable and balanced so that you are not thrown over by the gun’s recoil or anything else. Your shooting/fighting stance needs to be mobile so that you are not cemented or planted to the ground. You must be able to move to achieve dominance and to avoid being the recipient of blows or shots from your opponent.

More times than not, when I work with shooting students, I have to correct their stance. Many initially stand with a backward lean. Many stand too rigidly or too floppily. Some stand like a pole, and many stand square to their target with both feet parallel. None of these stances are aggressive fighting stances. Sure, you may have to shoot in a rapidly unfolding dynamic gunfight from an unorthodox and non-choreographed position; however, you must start from an aggressive and powerful stance that gives you a solid foundation.

A power stance gives you a wide base for stability and balance. It keeps you from being pushed backward by the firearm’s recoil or by your opponent. It entails leaning aggressively forward from the hips (head in front of shoulders and shoulders in front of hips). Knees should be slightly bent to absorb shock and facilitate mobility. The non-dominant foot (the one opposite your strong shooting hand) should be forward; and your dominant foot should be rearward, digging into the ground.

This power stance can be applied while static or while moving. It will be familiar to anyone with experience in wrestling, boxing or the martial arts. As stated by Massad Ayoob, “… it allows the fighter to deliver and receive impact without losing balance or the ability to continue strenuous physical activity.”

2. The High Hand

The lower a handgun’s bore axis, the easier it is to control the gun during recoil in order to deliver accurate follow-up shots. One can make the bore axis sit lower in the hands by gripping the handgun with one’s master hand as high up on the back strap as is possible. This increases your control over the gun whether you are shooting with one hand or two.

3. The Hard Grasp Or “Crush Grip”

You cannot grip a handgun too hard or too strongly. In real combat, defensive shooting means you are fighting for your life. Are you going to be relaxed at such a time? The answer is, of course not. You are going to be holding onto your life support system, your weapon, as if your life depends on it — and it does. Get used to it now. A crush grip or convulsive grip will make your handgun more difficult for your opponents to take away from you. A crush grip will help you control a powerful handgun’s recoil or the snappy recoil of a not-so-powerful mouse gun. Additionally, a crush grip will help you better isolate the movement of your trigger finger so that you have more trigger control. Conversely, a light grasp on the handgun encourages milking, which is likely to make a right-handed shooter’s shots go to low left.

As Ayoob points out, the crush grip or hard grasp may be applied with the thumbs in virtually any position, but it will benefit most when the thumbs are curled tightly down. When you curl your thumb down over your other fingers — as when you make a fist — you can squeeze harder. Try it and see for yourself.

4. The Front Sight

The bullet will go where the muzzle is pointed. To assure that the muzzle is pointed where you want the bullet to hit, you must have a reliable way of indexing the muzzle on target. That is the purpose of the front sight. The front sight helps you align your handgun’s muzzle with your point of aim on the target. This is usually accomplished in coordination with the rear sight. Verifying that the front sight is centered in the rear sight notch is called sight alignment, and superimposing your aligned front and rear sights onto your point of aim on the target is called getting a sight picture.

The more precise your shot or shots need to be, the smaller your target; or the greater your distance from your target, the more precise your sight alignment and sight picture need to be and the more time you will need to take those precise shots.

Sight alignment and trigger control are the two most important features of marksmanship. Trigger control helps the shooter maintain sight alignment and, therefore, muzzle alignment as the gun is fired and immediately afterward. Afterward is called follow-through. It means giving the bullet enough time to exit the barrel by keeping the gun directed at the point of aim while breaking the shot and, subsequently, recovering your point of aim after the gun travels through its arc of recoil so that you can prepare for a follow-up shot.

“… a firearm is a remote-control drill, and must be indexed or the hole it produces will be drilled in the wrong place…”

The goal of defensive marksmanship is to achieve combat accurate hits as fast as possible. Combat accurate hits are defined as shots that inflict disabling damage on the opponent. In any fight, the fighter who lands the first good hits on his opponent has the edge. In a gunfight, this translates into shooting well-placed bullets into your opponent before he hits you. It is foolish to sacrifice accuracy for speed. You can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight.

Factoring out the variable of a shooter’s confidence in his shooting ability, the closer the distance, the faster the shooter can afford to shoot, and the less reliance is needed on a perfect sight picture. At close (bad breath) distances, point shooting is the way to go. To learn to shoot for combat accuracy in a gunfight (defensive shooting), the shooter must learn to shoot both with and without sights — the latter being point shooting.

As Ayoob points out:

… a firearm is a remote-control drill, and must be indexed or the hole it produces will be drilled in the wrong place. The index may be precise or coarse, depending on the nature of the shot that must be taken. Distance, target size and speed are all factors in that determination. The shooter may have the precise sight picture of the conventional marksmanship manual. They may have a similar image in line of sight, seen quickly and less than perfectly (Col. Jeff Cooper’s concept of ‘flash sight picture‘). Out to roughly seven yards with a handgun, the front sight sitting above the rear sight is adequate for a heart-area hit and can be indexed even in secondary or tertiary focus when the shooter is focused primarily on the threat (StressFire’s “StressPoint Index,” champion Todd Jarrett’s concept of “shooting out of the notch”). In poor light at extreme speed, it may suffice to simply see the silhouette of the handgun superimposed over the area of the threat that the officer wants to hit (Jim Cirillo’s “gun silhouette” concept).

5. The Smooth Roll

Good trigger control is the most important aspect of getting good hits. It becomes even more important under stress. Poor trigger control is one of the biggest reasons for dropped and errant shots. It is logical that to keep the muzzle on target, the shooter needs to smoothly operate the trigger. Erratic trigger control will drive the muzzle away from the shooter’s point of aim.

The goal is to smoothly press the trigger all the way rearward without hesitation until the shot breaks and then to ride the trigger forward as the trigger resets for the next shot. As Ayoob points out, “… each activation of the trigger is done with a single-stage movement. We use the term ‘roll the trigger’ to convey the smooth, even, uninterrupted, straight-back rearward pressure on the trigger which we seek.”

If the handgun fits the shooter’s hands, poor trigger control is typically caused by a combination of factors. These can include: poor isolation of the trigger finger (also known as “milking” the gun), inadequate placement of the trigger finger on the face of the trigger, an inadequate or unstable grip on the handgun (poor form, gripping too loosely, having to re-adjust the grip after each shot), flinching, anticipating the shot, jerking the trigger, trying to stage the trigger, and not keeping the finger on the trigger throughout a string of shots.

Trigger control can be practiced through dry fire in addition to live fire; so can the other fundamentals of marksmanship. An excellent dry fire drill for practicing all of the fundamentals is the Wall Drill.

The Wall Drill

Grasp the handgun high on the back strap so that the tang of the handgun pinches into the V-notch of your dominant strong hand.

This dry fire drill requires sustained focus and concentration. This drill builds a muscle memory or motor memory of the key marksmanship fundamentals.

Make sure that the handgun is unloaded, that there is no ammunition in the room, and that the backstop is safe and in a safe direction.

Pick an aim point on the wall or surface in front of you and point your triple-checked, unloaded handgun about an inch away from the aim point such that your front sight is right over the aim point.

Go through your pre-flight checklist of marksmanship fundamentals as discussed earlier: power stance, high hand, crush grip, front sight, sight alignment, sight picture and smooth roll of the trigger.

Think to yourself front sight, keep your sight alignment and sight picture steady and say to yourself smooth roll” as you smoothly press the trigger all the way rearward and then let it reset for the next shot. Your aim is to keep your gun steady as you press the trigger.

When you maintain a maximum strength, crush grip or “gorilla grip” on the handgun, you may see the whites of your knuckles. That’s how you know you are gripping hard enough, thumbs curled down, thumbprint over thumbnail for greater strength.

Live Fire Focus Drill

Live fire practice of the marksmanship fundamentals is essential. The following live fire drill is called the One Hole Drill. This drill makes use of the principle that if you aim small, you will miss small.

Start out at a reasonable distance from your target. Don’t be ashamed for this to be three yards; that’s nine feet. Pick a small spot on your paper target as your point of aim. You can draw a 1-inch circle in black magic marker to mark the spot.

Go through your checklist of marksmanship fundamentals as you focus on your aim point. Punch your handgun out toward your aim point as you focus intently on your front sight and acquire a sight picture. Your front sight should be in sharp focus as contrasted with a relatively slightly blurred target and rear sight. Recognize that you can only focus sharply with your eyes on one object at a time.

Keeping your gun steady (you should be in a power stance, with a high-handed, two-handed hard grasp on your handgun), smoothly roll your trigger rearward as you stay focused on your front sight. Watch your front sight as the shot breaks and through the gun’s arc of recoil. Don’t peek over your gun to see the shot.

Hold your trigger to the rear as the gun recoils and then ride your trigger forward until it resets as the gun settles back on target. Now, prepare for your next shot by taking up any slack in the trigger.

The front sight should be in focus; the rear sight and target slightly blurred.

You can run this drill in either one of two ways: One way is to take a string of shots without checking where those shots went; after shooting the string, lower the gun to a ready position and check the results of your work. The other way is to drop the gun to the ready after each single shot or pair of shots.

Your goal is a perfect 1-inch group. You want to exercise your fundamentals at the target distance at which you are working until you attain a perfect one inch group, and when you do, you can then move backward to a greater distance (e.g., 5 to 7 to 10 to 12 to 15 to 20 to 25 yards, and so on). You keep moving backward (increasing the distance) until you can no longer shoot a perfect group at a given distance, and then you stay and work at that distance.

This drill will increase your accuracy and marksmanship skill in live fire.

Summary

Without a solid foundation in the fundamentals, advanced shooting techniques fall short. Defensive and combat-oriented shooters need to create the discipline to practice their fundamentals regularly in order to keep their edge and maintain their advanced skills.

–Bruce N. Eimer, Ph.D.

Watchdog Report Shows Taxpayers Still Owed $132.9 Billion

According to a government watchdog, American taxpayers are still owed $132.9 billion from companies that have yet to pay after receiving Federal money for a bailout. The Associated Press reported that some of this will never be received.

The bailout that was launched at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 will continue to exist for years, noted a report issued by Christy Romero, the acting special inspector general for the $700 billion bailout.

The AP reported that some bailout programs, such as the effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through lowered mortgage payments, may last until 2017. This would cost the government an estimated additional $51 billion.

The fluid nature of the stock market has slowed efforts by the Treasury Department to sell off its stakes in 458 bailed-out companies, including American International Group, General Motors and Ally Financial, according to the news outlet.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the watchdog found that exiting these investments could be difficult in coming years, due to the state of the financial markets.

Boston Bruins Goalie Declines Visit To White House For Political Reasons

The backbone of the Boston Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup championship team skipped a visit to the White House due to political differences with President Barack Obama, News Core reported.

According to the news outlet, Tim Thomas, a native of Flint, Mich., was the only Boston player to decline the invitation.

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People,” Thomas said in a statement. “Because I believe this, today (Monday) I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country.”

News Core reported that Obama noted the goalie’s stellar play on the championship run by the Bruins, despite the netminder’s lack of support.

Members of the team’s front office supported the decision by the goalie, as they noted that everyone has a right to voice their opinion, according to the Los Angeles Times.