Guns on Tour: A Discussion with Patrick Dierson
By Chris Lose
Chris Lose interviews Patrick Dierson, President of The Activity, a Production and Design Company for the Entertainment Industry on weapons, safety and considerations to take if and when you need to carry guns on tour. All answers in this interview are unedited.
Do you carry a weapon at home?
When in my home town I do tend to carry a concealed firearm on my person as well as in my various vehicles. The choice of doing this is less based on paranoia as it is in having been in threatening situations in the past. Despite living in what would be considered a rather upscale property, there have been times in which physically threatening confrontations have arisen as well as issues in surrounding neighborhoods where a drug epidemic has led to some rather aggressive pan handling which sometimes escalates into full-blown violent encounters. Most recently, my wife was chased to her vehicle during a simple run to a local Walgreens. In this instance she was able to get to the vehicle in time to remove herself from the situation without having to use a weapon but not before the assailant attempted to break the glass of her car door.
Do you carry a weapon with you on the road?
There have been occasions in which I have brought a firearm with me on the road but I want to be expressly clear that these have been somewhat extreme circumstances in which we not only knew that we would be working in potentially dangerous situations but, more importantly, the decision was made in conjunction with and sanctioned by our security detail after proper vetting of my abilities and training. I do not, nor do I condone, the general carrying of firearms on the road or to a job site.
Our job as production personnel lies in just that, production services and not those of armed security. If you want to be paid to carry a weapon to work then you should look into a career change and go into the security side of the entertainment business. Even in that situation, many of those professionals choose not to carry firearms on their person as they not only know how to handle themselves without one but they also know the risks involved in taking that responsibility into the working environment.
If so, what model of weapon do you carry?
In terms of the model weapon that I have carried, it simply depends on what the detail demands. A firearm is simply one of many tools and that tool demands to be the appropriate one for the job. As with traditional tools, a multi-tool is not going to get the job done the best. Whether it’s a generic Glock 19 for its compact size for personal protection, a Sig Sauer specifically coated to deal with maritime environments, or a tiny DoubleTap Derringer chambered in 9mm shot shell when working around venomous reptiles, it’s simply a matter of what is appropriate for the job and mine have run the entire breadth of the firearms industry more so than I’d like to reminisce.
Which model of firearm would you recommend for a touring roadie?
I honestly do not endorse any firearm for a touring roadie strictly due to the wildly skewed unbalance of realistic need versus the added responsibility that comes along with carrying a deadly weapon to work. We all have enough for which we need to be accountable in regards to just doing our jobs without the added concentration that must be paid to carrying a firearm. Ironically enough, I find that the more firearms training that people receive, the less they feel the need to carry them in many situations and that is most definitely the case within the entertainment industry.
What level of credentials do you hold to prove your responsibility with a weapon?
Like many people who hold Concealed Carry Permits, I am currently licensed to carry a concealed firearm in 37 states within the US. Aside from that, I have undergone various weapon training programs throughout my career that run the gamut from dealing with improvised weaponry and edged weapons use to working in areas that are classified as “Non Permissive Environments” where the officially sanctioned carrying of firearms are banned; none of which are training regimes that would be associated with the entertainment industry.
Would you be in favor of more people carrying weapons in the entertainment industry?
I am absolutely not in favor of more entertainment industry personnel carrying weapons outside of professional security details. What I am absolutely in favor of is more people within our industry carrying tourniquets and having proper training on how to deal with situations of medical trauma. I can say without any question whatsoever that in all of my experiences both with and without a firearm, I have had to use medical training much more frequently than I have a firearm. In fact, I have NEVER had to utilize the brandishing of a firearm in a production situation. I HAVE had to use CPR and basic first aid more times than I have cared to. For those that are convinced that they will be caught in a gun fight at work, another item that I wholeheartedly endorse carrying is what is classified as Level 3A soft armor. This can come in the form of a soft ballistic “plate” or even a ballistic clipboard to be functionally utilized for your paperwork. These items are easily placed in backpacks which just about every member of production personnel carries and are capable of withstanding most small caliber bullets.
I have carried two in my computer backpack for many years. They are very low-profile and allow for quick coverage over your back and/or chest in the highly unlikely event that you find yourself in an active shooter situation. One of my companies is currently in the process of designing a utility vest for entertainment industry technicians that is primarily designed for carrying the tools required for the job while also providing compartments for these types of low-profile soft armor. It stands to reason that before you protect yourself with a firearm, you will most definitely want to protect yourself with armor and a tourniquet. You may think that you’re Doc Holliday with a pistol but I can guarantee you that the fastest gun in the west wasn’t trying to climb a truss while he was “protecting” himself. I will also state that there are some legal restrictions on soft armor in certain areas of the globe so you must do the due diligence of researching your legal ability to possess this prior to bringing it with you in some situations.
Have you ever witnessed unnecessary gun violence on the road?
Unfortunately, I have witnessed gun violence on the road but, once again, I have also found myself being called upon to be in some extremely unique production situations in some truly dangerous areas and this is rather unique to my personal career and should not be used as a benchmark model for the industry as a whole. I have been caught in crossfire, had rifle barrels shoved into my chest, been in several active shooter, gang violence, and terror scenarios, have had a production driver shot and killed, and have been “pistol whipped” by the butt end of an AK-47. I have even had a grenade thrown into my hotel room…thankfully while I was NOT there. These are NOT things that the average roadie deals with and these have all been unique situations to say the least.
That being said, they have happened and it most certainly helps to know how to conduct yourself in those situations prior to being placed in them. All of these situations have had one thing in common and that is the certainty that my brandishing my own firearm would have absolutely escalated each of these situations well past the point of the fortunate outcome of my walking out alive. My quick thinking and movement of action brought faster safety to myself and those around me in every one of these instances and you would be hard pressed to find any security professional that would state the contrary.
Have you ever witnessed careless gun handling on the road?
I definitely have witnessed careless gun handling on the road and it speaks to one of the many reasons why I am so against the concept of roadies carrying firearms. Whether it’s being lax with the safe handling and stowage to simply not adhering to the basic rules of firearm safety, I’ve seen a few situations where I began to feel less safe with the person next to me being in control of a deadly firearm in the workplace. I will also admit to being that guy in the infancy of my carrying weapons on my person. The practice of doing so is something that is learned over time and through experience. You want to be brutally trained how to do this around professionals and not other newbies, I assure you. Almost all of us that have worked in production have witnessed one of our coworkers cut themselves badly with their own pocket knife. You do NOT want that kind of mishap with bullets.
Would you be willing to cross state lines with a weapon?
Crossing state lines with a weapon brings up an excellent issue in regards to the entire concept of bringing firearms on the road. I know quite a bit about firearms handling and transport and the first thing that I can tell you is that the rules of personal firearms transport are an ever-changing target in and of themselves and it really poses a massive problem. For instance, if you’re on a tour bus and you hold the same licensing as I do, you STILL can not take your firearm into some of the states on the routing schedule. So what are we as a production supposed to do here? Do we need to stop all movement while you figure out how to move this thing in a legal fashion?
Do we turn a blind eye and allow you to be a felon and put everyone else on the bus at some level of legal risk? Are we stopping at FFL gun stores along the way to figure out how to get your equipment legally shipped to another FFL dealer in another state only to have to coordinate pickup on the other end? How do we cross the border into Canada for the one Toronto show before popping back into the States to continue the run? And what do our artists’ and promoters’ lawyers have to say about all of this in regards to THEIR liability policies under which YOU are operating? It is a legal and logistical nightmare that is absolutely unnecessary in 99.9% of production situations. In my opinion as a business owner with employees operating under my own insurance policies…this conversation is a non-starter when reflected against the associated risks involved.
Would you travel to foreign countries with a weapon?
There is never a time in which I choose to bring a weapon into a foreign country for reasons of personal protection. Any instances in which this has presented itself have all been handled locally within the host country and in conjunction with our personal security detail. All of these instances have also been while operating outside of the sole capacity of being a designer or member of a touring production.
How would you store your weapon on a bus?
In all honesty, I’m not exactly sure how I would store a firearm on a bus and that is solely based on the distrust of my fellow roadies. I most certainly don’t mean that as a slight against my coworkers. I just wouldn’t want to put them in a situation where they would need to be mindful of being in close proximity to a dangerous weapon in a true living situation. We’re not talking about transportation in a car for a quick ride from point A to B here. We’re talking about a rolling living room where you want to be able to live in a completely relaxed environment.
This is also before we even start to discuss the possibility of other contraband being on that bus as well if you happen to have a coworker that enjoys the occasional use of recreational drugs and cares little about carrying weapons. You’ll be hard pressed to find situations where recreational drugs can be in such close proximity to lethal weapons and NOT be considered a felony. Once again, it’s a nightmare of legalities or lack thereof.
How would you store your weapon on a plane?
In regards to storing weapons on a plane, whether you’re flying private or commercially, you are still technically bound by the rules of the TSA within the United States and thus you must store your firearms in accordance with the current rules and regulations stated by the administration.
How would you store your weapon if you had to climb a truss?
I don’t see any good way to do this as an entertainment technician. Being in a truss with a gun is a horrible idea for Navy SEALs much less roadies and having your down rigger tying your Glock to some trick line for you to bring up sure as hell isn’t a reasonable option. This scenario is begging to end up in an episode of Archer.
Are you in favor of stronger or more effective gun regulations?
I am absolutely in favor of more effective firearms regulations in regards to common sense for both training and handling. There are very few states within the US that require practical proficiency in weapons handling prior to buying a firearm or qualifying for a Concealed Carry Permit and, to me, that makes very little sense regardless of our view of it being an inalienable right within this country. I’m also very much in favor of holding parties such as the Department of Justice accountable for enforcing the regulations that are currently written.
This is an issue with which the general public is largely ignorant and, with all of the outrage about things in our society such as plastic straws and holiday songs, I’m amazed that this doesn’t get more attention from the citizenry when we’re talking about deadly weapons landing in the wrong hands on our streets. The DOJ prosecutes only a small percentage of firearms violations as they currently stand so logic dictates that simply adding more regulations that will not be properly enforced will not be making much of a difference in our society.
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