Monthly Archives: March 2014

Kerrian’s Notebook, p. 102 “Do you need firearms training?”





Do you own a handgun? 


Do you know when to use it?


Can you take care of it?


Do you know how to use it?


These are not dumb questions to ask, because not everyone is knowledgeable about firearms, not even the ones they have in their own houses. Sometimes people buy handguns in reaction to a nearby shooting, but don’t take the time to learn about the firearm they have plopped down good money for.  Sometimes one spouse has purchased the gun(s) and the other spouse is not familiar or comfortable with handling it (them).


Luckily, there are licensed, NRA sanctioned, firearms training facilities all across the country where a person can attend classes that teach the laws governing the use of firearms. The classes also cover safety, as well as proficiency, in handling a firearm.


In the USA, you must have a permit to legally purchase a handgun. You fill out a form at the gun shop, and in about a week, after the background check has been completed, you can actually purchase the gun.


If you need to obtain a concealed/carry permit, you must attend a class that includes:


information about the gun laws,

definitions of what is meant by lethal force,

safe care and handling of a handgun,

a written test,

a handgun proficiency test.


If you meet all the requirements, then a stricter background check is run and in 4-6 weeks, the permit may be issued.


You need to know the laws in your state for owning and operating your firearm.


Not all states have the same laws about gun ownership. Some states allow open carrying, some allow concealed carrying, some allow properly licensed handgun owners to cross state lines with their guns, some don’t. Violation of these laws in any of these situations can land you in jail. And, by the way, ignorance of the law is not an excuse to avoid jail time or hefty fines.


There are legal definitions about when (and where) you are allowed to use your gun in self-defense and they vary somewhat from state to state. Ya can’t just go shootin’ your gun off in public. That will land you in jail everywhere.


Even if you have the proper credentials and concealed/carry permits, there are some places where you absolutely cannot take your gun. After a deadly shooting in a health care facility in North Carolina a few years ago, the laws were changed to bar handguns for everyone visiting private health care facilities except for law enforcement personnel. Some restaurants allow handguns, but if liquor is served, the law is different. A training class will point out the most recent changes in the law for a dozen different public settings – parks, bars, parades, etc.


How does one decide when to use a gun for self-defense?


Ask yourself whether firing it is an appropriate use of lethal force, because make no mistake, if the bullet leaves the gun, it can kill somebody.


Think before firing. There are legal ramifications to your decisions. The law requires certain legal hurdles to be met before a shooting can be justified.


Is it reasonable to shoot this person?

If the person is your size or larger, as fit as you or stronger, is threatening you with serious bodily harm, you are sure that walking away will not stop the threat, and if the police won’t get there in time, then you may be within your rights to shoot – but not always.

Is it proportional to what has already happened?

If talking the situation over has not worked, or if the other person has escalated the violence in the situation, if you are being robbed, if you are being beaten, or if you are being threatened with a gun, then you may be within your rights to shoot – but not always.

Is it necessary to shoot this person?

The danger for harm to yourself must be immediate – that is, if you don’t take a shot right then, it will be too late. You may be within your rights to shoot – but not always.

You do not have the right to shoot someone else “just ‘cause they had it coming.”


In every court case where a shooting is involved, when the phrase ‘reasonable force’ is used, the prosecution and the defense alike are looking quite seriously at what led up to the actual shooting – who did what to whom and why.


There is more to owning a gun than buying it and sticking it in a drawer.


Future posts will deal with loading your handgun safely without shooting yourself in the face or foot, proper storage of your firearm, as well as caring for your firearm so that it will fire properly when it’s needed.


*photos taken by Patti Phillips at Freedom Firearms Training, in Carthage, NC.


Steve Jones



Many thanks to Steve Jones and his staff for allowing me to visit during one of his concealed/carry permit classes.

Steve Jones is an experienced NRA firearms instructor and is the owner/operator of Freedom Firearms Training.








Please visit www.FreedomFirearmsTrainingnc.com for information about the training available at this well-run facility.


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Kerrian’s Notebook, p.101 “Kerrian’s Favorite Shepherd’s Pie”


Kerrian’s Shepherd’s Pie



Ireland is a land with great small pubs tucked into the corners of the countryside, both a traveler’s relief and a tourist destination. Enter at lunchtime and prepare to enjoy one of the several rustic dishes that Ireland is famous for – lamb stew, colcannon, peasant soup, brown bread, bangers and mash, fresh fish, or Shepherd’s Pie. During one of our trips, Sheila and I realized that there are as many versions of Shepherd’s Pie as there are cooks in the kitchen. We had always thought that perhaps, except for spices, the ingredients would be the same everywhere. Nope. I think the only common factors we found were the peas and carrots in every bowl (or plate) served. Even the toppings varied from pub to pub – we had both pie crust and mashed potatoes covering the tasty meat and veggie dish. Some had ground lamb for the meat, instead of the beef that we use in this recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie, in whatever form, is a fairly simple dish to create. After tinkering a bit, this is what Sheila created. And, of course, taste tested by me.

"Kerrian's Favorite Shepherd's Pie"
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Irish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 6 cups mashed potatoes (save the potato water to be used later)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups peeled, diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced OR two Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 pounds ground beef (we used 93% lean)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 4 Tablespoons of the mashed potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup potato water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  1. Heat oven to 400F
  2. Cook carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat, cover while cooking.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the carrots and stir.
  4. Sprinkle the onions (or onion powder) over the carrots, mix thoroughly and cook for another 2 minutes, keeping covered.
  5. Add the beef and stir well.
  6. Add black pepper and stir thoroughly.
  7. Brown meat (about 10 mins), then drain the fat.
  8. Add butter and peas and stir.
  9. Sprinkle the flour over the mix. Mix completely.
  10. Add 4 tablespoons of mashed potatoes, potato water, and Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly, keeping covered while cooking 2-3 minutes to thicken.
  11. Add chicken stock and stir, continuing to cook until gravy is thick, about 2-3 minutes.
  12. Season to taste.
  13. Divide meat into six pot pie dishes, then spread about 1 cup of mashed potatoes over each one.
  14. Arrange pies on cookie sheet in center of oven and bake about 20-25 minutes, until potato topping is lightly browned on top.

Serve right away, with brown bread and butter.

*Photo by Patti Phillips




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Kerrian’s Notebook, p. 100 “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death”


Shovels anyone?

Kerrian’s Notebook has been around for 100 pages. That deserves some serious noisemakers. Maybe that should be 100 handcuffs rattling or 100 jail cells slamming shut on the bad guys, but whatever noise we use to celebrate? Make it loud. We love a party!

In honor of the 100 pages, here is a list of 100 ways to die by unnatural causes. A death certificate (which lists the cause of death) is issued after any death in the USA, whether natural or otherwise, but if the attending medical practitioner notes anything suspicious, an inquiry may or may not be conducted. Keep in mind that a law enforcement officer will only investigate these deaths if a dastardly deed is suspected. Sometimes, foul play is not always apparent.

Can you spot the ones in the list that indicate murder was afoot?

1)   Drowning in bathtub

2)   Drowning in ocean because of undertow

3)   Drowning in a molasses spill

4)   Suffocation by pillow

5)   Suffocation after entire body has been painted

6)   Hanging by rope

7)   Electrocution for death penalty

8)   Electrocution by hairdryer

9)   Electrocution by electrified fence

10) Electrocution while changing light bulb

11) Hit by lightning

12) Knife in the chest

13) Knife in the leg

14) Axe to the head

15) Bleeding out because of slit wrists

16)   Arson

17)   Gas leak in house

18)   Smoke inhalation

19)   Bullet to the head

20)   Accidental drug overdose

21)   Medical malpractice

22)   Tripped and hit head, cracking skull

23)   Beaten to death

24)   Death by roller coaster

25)   Vending machine fell with your arm in it

26)   Lethal mix of drugs and alcohol

27)   Alcohol poisoning

28)   Radiation poisoning

29)   Arsenic in tea

30)   Baked in an oven

31)   Allergic reaction to shellfish

32)   Allergic reaction to nuts

33)   Attacked by wolves

34)   Bitten by cobra

35)   Clawed by tiger

36)   Mauled by a shark

37)   Attacked by alligator – C.C.J.

38)   Bitten by several fire ants

39)   Bitten by poisonous spiders

40)   Crushed by boa constrictor

41)   Thrown from a horse

  42)   Trampled by elephants

  43)   Gored by a bull

  44)  Bitten by scorpion

  45)  Bitten by mosquito during sleep – allergic reaction to bite – B.R

  46)  Poisoned by contact with weed killers

  47)  Poisoned by ingesting toxic flowers/leaves


48)   Crushed by falling tree

49)    Stepped on a land mine

50)    Bomb explosion

51)    Rocket attack

52)    Hit in the head by a pitched ball

53)    Death in a boxing match

54)    Car accident, crushed

55)    Car accident, gas tank explodes

56)    Car accident – car ripped in half by telephone wire – anonymous

57)    Hit by a car while crossing the street

58)    Hit by commuter train

59)    Propane tank on BBQ exploded

60)    Chemical spill

61)    Airplane crash

62)    Airplane mid-air explosion

63)    Parachute didn’t open

64)    Parasail collided with cliff

65)    Choked on food

66)    Choked on bottle cap

67)    Pushed off a cliff

68)    Fell off a roof

69)   Jumped out a window

70)   Froze in a snow bank

71)   Stabbed with icicle

72)   Buried in an avalanche

73)   Fell off a ski lift

74)   Starved to death

75)   Mercury poisoning

76)   Asbestos poisoning

77)   Decapitation

78)   Strangled by another person

79)    Strangled – tie caught in laminating machine while wearing it

80)    Sword fight

81)    Sniper bullet

82)    Stabbed with knitting needle

83)    Hung upside down by feet until dead

84)    Death by dehydration

85)    Sinkhole collapsed with person in it – C.C.J.

86)    Latrine on flatbed of truck fell onto your car – J.P.M.

87)    Death by barbed wire fence – J.P.M.

88)    Cyanide salts in an almond cake – E.M.

89)    Elevator doors malfunctioned and closed on neck

90)    Walked into empty elevator shaft

91)    Jumped off diving board into empty pool

92)    Got stuck in a storm drain while trying to retrieve wallet

93)    Trapped inside a folding bed

94)    Buried under falling bookshelves

95)    Mangled by farming/industrial machinery

96)    Botulism

97)    Shot yourself while cleaning a gun

98)    Crashed into tree while ziplining

   99)   Bungee cord broke while jumping

  100)  Hypothermia


Sources? I’ve lived longer than I’d like to admit and over 90 of these deaths are ones I’ve heard about in the news or seen in the movies over the years. Some of the Kerrian’s Notebook readers have told me about a few more. Thanks to Barbara Rosario, Christy Crowley Johnson, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and a person who prefers to remain anonymous, for their ripped-from-the-headlines suggestions. Thanks to mystery writer Edith Maxwell for an intriguing cause of death. I wonder if one of her books will include that COD? Remind me to stay away from any almond dishes at her house.  😉


*Photos by Patti Phillips, but nobody died while she was shooting them, nor is the body part in the fourth picture real flesh and blood.




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