Former CIA Officer Jason Hanson Reveals...

Spy Secrets That Can

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Get Out Alive

Mailbag Monday

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The other day I watched a video about a family that was followed onto a parking garage elevator in L.A. and robbed at gunpoint. One guy pointed a gun at the family while the other guy took their belongings. What would you recommend doing in this situation?

-From Taylor C.

Answer: At the end of the day, the watch, wallet, and whatever else was stolen is not worth losing your life over.

However, if the two bad guys tried to kidnap or take someone with them then you would need to intervene.

So, it depends on if you think the criminals are going to take a family member or if they just want money.

For instance, I’ve got a wife and 6 kids. If I were to draw my gun and shoot, there’s a chance one of my family would be shot by a criminal. (If I was by myself, then this would be another story.)


In the past you’ve mentioned that you’re a Christian. I’m assuming this means that you believe in the Ten Commandments. What is your position on killing someone in self-defense?

-From Julie P.

Answer: Yes, I am a Christian. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The fact is, there are many passages in the Bible that concern self-defense. For instance, in Luke, Jesus tells his disciples to arm themselves with a sword.

My point is, there are some forms of killing that are morally just, and killing in self-defense is one of them.

I have zero hang-ups about killing someone while defending myself or my family or someone else.


Like many others I’m looking to buy my first gun. Which is better: a brand new firearm or a used one from a pawn shop?

-From Blake L.

Answer: A new gun is always going to be more expensive, but a new gun is also going to be the safer option.

When you buy a used gun, you don’t know if there are any issues with the gun or even how it’s been cared for by the previous owner.

When I buy used guns, I usually buy them from guys I trust and I take them to the range and shoot them.

If you are buying a used gun from a gun store with a range, I would ask them if you can shoot the gun before making the purchase.

If you are buying a gun from a private party, I would ask the seller to meet you at the range to test the gun. You could even ask the gun shop to look at the gun to see if they notice any problems.


What is your opinion about staging guns in the house? I live alone and have no children. I spend time in different rooms in my house. I’m worried what I would do if someone broke in and I wasn’t near a gun.

-From Kelly E.

Answer: I think it is a great idea to have guns placed in different rooms in your house. You don’t know if you will be sleeping or cooking dinner when an intruder kicks down the door.

I would keep guns in the rooms you spend the most time in if you don’t have enough weapons for every room. You should be able to access these guns quickly.

When doing this, safety should be the #1 priority. I have guns staged throughout my house and all of them are in rapid-access safes, so that nobody can get to them besides me and my wife.


My extended family has rented a ski cabin for New Year’s weekend. There are going to be about ten family members staying in the cabin. Any suggestions for security when staying in a rental? We are far from the nearest police station.

-From Theo T.

Answer: First, keep the lights on all the time. I hate to waste electricity but you want to make sure that if some burglar comes by at 3 a.m. that he can see there are people staying there.

So, leave lights turned on in and outside so that it looks like people are around.

Also, when you first arrive, walk around the cabin and make sure all the doors and windows are locked. You want to make sure that the people before you didn’t leave something unlocked.

In addition, walk around the exterior of the cabin and see if there are any places that someone could easily hide. Are there a bunch of tools by the back door? Things like that might make it easy for someone to wait in the dark.

Finally, consider taking a door stopper alarm with you. Put this at the exterior door before you go to bed. It will alert you if someone comes in during the night. And it’s very loud.

Of course, having a gun on your nightstand is a good idea or at least some type of weapon such as a knife. And don’t forget a good flashlight to blind or whack an intruder with.


My grandfather passed away and I inherited his gun collection. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about guns. But some of them are black powder pistols. Do these firearms fall under the same law as newer guns?

-From Sandy L.

Answer: The short answer is it depends. Black powder guns are guns that use a separate bullet, primer, and propellant. Compared to modern guns that have everything cased together in a cartridge.

Under federal law, guns manufactured before 1898, or guns that use a method of loading a separate ball, powder, and primer are not considered modern firearms.

This is federal law. Your state could have more restrictive laws so consult with a local attorney as well.

Here is where it gets tricky: Under federal law, any firearm that can be readily converted to fire fixed ammo by replacing the barrel, bolt, or breechblock is not considered an antique firearm

So, if you have an old .36 caliber pistol from 1900 that uses a ball and primer, but you convert the cylinder to shoot a .38 cartridge, it would be considered a modern firearm.

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