Category Archives: news

Lapeer Clark Station Shooting

Why was the Lapeer Clark Station Shooting 1st Degree Murder and not Self-Defence?

Photo Credit: (Roberto Acosta |

(The following description of the events was taken from various news sources, court documents, and prosecutor’s statements. We also interviewed a Jury member who was part of the trial and had seen the surveillance video and video of the police interview.)

On Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, sometime around 7:00 a.m. Jeffrey Lee Smith drove his car to the Clark gas station on M-24 in Lapeer to get gas, cigarettes, and a coffee. Something he had apparently done often.

Smith parked at one of the pumps towards the north end of the pumps (pump 1 or 2).

After going inside to pay, Smith attempted to leave via the north side of the east exit/entrance (one large drive with no traffic controls – see photo). As he pulled from the pump towards the road to leave the parking lot onto M-24 he appeared to use the left side of the drive, which inadvertently blocked the path of an incoming truck driven by Arthur Lee Kohn III and Kohn drove onto the grass to the north of the entrance and stopped his truck.

The men exchanged words while their vehicles were within feet of each other. Kohn stayed in his truck but Smith opened his door, stepped up briefly, then got back into his car and pulled on to southbound M-24. Smith later told the police that he had opened his door to hear Kohn because his window didn’t work and he had not exited the vehicle.

Kohn then proceeded into the lot, while Smith turned into the quick oil change place next door and continued back into the south entrance to the Clark station and next to pump 8 on the south end.

Smith (according to the statement he later gave police) had possession in his vehicle of a .38 Special revolver and had moved it from his center console to his jacket pocket after the initial altercation.

Smith, a valid CPL holder, claimed that he was coming back to ‘warn the employees’ about Kohn. He also  admitted that after the verbal altercation with the victim, he took a .38 caliber Smith and Weston handgun out of his console and put it in his pocket ‘just in case.’

Legally (per Michigan law) he was in possession of the firearm the whole time – he did NOT leave to go ‘get the gun’ as had been misunderstood from media reports.

Kohn saw Smith and drove his truck across the lot, parking next to Smith’s passenger side (not blocking his path).

Smith, while still seated in his car with the driver’s side next to pump 8, appears to roll his passenger side window down and raise his hand toward Kohn with the firearm aimed in his direction.

Kohn then got out of his truck to approach Smith carrying a crowbar, but he was holding it to his side in a way that Smith could not see it (according to the store’s video and the statement given by Smith to Detectives, Smith did not know about the crowbar at this point).

Kohn reaches into Smith’s car with his arm and pushes the hand holding the gun away and Smith shoots him once, in the arm.

At that point Kohn brings up the crowbar and tries to swing it at Smith inside the car, possibly scratching him in the process. Smith shoots Kohn a second time striking him in the thoracic aorta.

Kohn then walks around the car to the driver’s side and strikes the car with the crowbar and Smith drives away to park by the building.

Kohn tries to walk towards the building but falls onto the pavement behind another parked vehicle.

Smith went inside the building and asked the clerk to call the police at 7:15 a.m.

Kohn died from the gunshot wounds. An autopsy also revealed that Kohn’s blood alcohol level at the time of his death was .14, and that he had been using cocaine.

Smith was interviewed by the police that day, claiming self-defense, and was released. He waived his right to an attorney.

After video evidence was reviewed, and almost a month later, charges were brought against Smith, including open murder, felonious assault, carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, felony firearm, and a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm in public.

Prior to the trial, there was a debate in court (and later the Michigan Supreme Court) about messages that Smith had sent someone about a month before the shooting. The Michigan Supreme Court Ruled that some of the Facebook content could be used.

Specifically, the defendant’s claim that another individual was “lucky he stayed in the truck the way he was acting he would of ate a 45 auto if he would of approached my impala,” is indicative of whether the defendant was legitimately acting in self-defense or whether he had planned to use deadly force against anyone who approached his vehicle during a verbal confrontation. (Read the details in the Michigan Supreme Court ruling here)

A Lapeer County jury on Friday found Smith guilty of first-degree murder and felonious use of a firearm after a short deliberation. I am told that most of the discussion centered around whether Smith was guilty of 1st or just 2nd-degree murder. Apparently, the prior statements were used to convince them that Smith planned to “use deadly force against anyone who approached his vehicle during a verbal confrontation”.

Smith did not testify in his trial.

Best Handguns for Concealed Carry

One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is “what is the best handgun for concealed carry?”

If you ask 10 different gun owners this same question, you will probably get 10 different answers. However, if you ask 10 people who are experienced personal defense firearms instructors, their answers will be very similar.

Everyone is limited by his or her own experiences, myself included. Often times we don’t know what we don’t know. I’m far from being omniscient, but I have taught defensive firearms skills for more than 20 years, and before that, I had trained with law enforcement on the range regularly for 15 more. I have also drawn from the wealth of knowledge and experience of many other instructors at high-volume defensive shooting schools, so my experience isn’t limited to just the guns I’ve shot or carried. I’ve seen just about every possible variation of gun and holster combinations come through a class. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.

(If you ask a gun store salesperson, you will probably find out what they are making the most profit on — I do not sell guns, though I can direct you to a few good places to buy one, as long as you go there knowing what you want.) Continue reading Best Handguns for Concealed Carry

Pistols Prohibited?

In Michigan, otherwise legally carried and concealed pistols are prohibited for most people at the following places under Michigan law – even if you have a CPL. These places are commonly referred to as “Gun Free Zones” but they aren’t actually gun-free. In Michigan, you might be able to carry a rifle, or open carry a pistol legally. And of course, people who don’t follow the law might still be carrying too.

In most cases, the prohibition does not include the parking areas of the places listed.

  • School or School Property
  • Daycare center, child-caring agency, child-placing agency
  • Sports arena or stadium
  • Bar or Tavern (where the primary source of income is the sale of liquor consumed on-site).
  • Churches (any property owned or operated by a place of worship – unless the presiding official permits it)
  • An entertainment facility with a seating capacity of 2,500+ (see AG Opinion No. 7120)
  • Hospital
  • Dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university
  • Casinos

Please refer to MCL 28.425o for the complete text with exceptions and penalties for the above list.

There are also many other places prohibited by other laws (other than MCL 28.425o), court cases, private property rights, etc.

  • Courts (or other space used for official court business – (AO 2001-1 of the Michigan Supreme Court – Contempt of Court)
  • Correctional facility (any jail, mental health facility, etc.) (MCL 800.283)
  • Federal Facilities (18 USC § 930)
    “Federal Facility” means a building or part thereof owned or leased by the Federal Government, where Federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties. Must be posted conspicuously at each public entrance to a Federal facility.Examples: Federal Court, Federal Prison, IRS, Social Security, Department of Labor, Military Base, etc.
  • National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges are permitted, but you may not possess a firearm in a Ranger Station, Visitor Center, bathroom, or any other US Government facility on these properties that are posted.
  • US Post Offices (all property, even parking, etc.) (39CFR, 232-1, title 39, paragraph L (I)
  • Indian Reservations – some honor State of Michigan CPL, some do not.
  • Airports – secure areas of commercial airports are prohibited (don’t go past the signs at TSA checkpoints) but you can check firearms in checked baggage if your firearm is legal at your destination. More details.
  • Amtrak – similar to airports, but there are no checked baggage stations in Michigan. (Public Law 111-117 Section 159)
  • Private Properly – any that are posted with a NO GUN sign. (Trespassing – MCL 750.552)
  • A place of employment MAY prohibit an employee as a condition of employment.
  • A public university may be able to enforce a local ordinance – see this case. U of M Ordinance. Wayne State Ordinance.
  • An educational institution MAY prohibit a student or faculty as a condition of enrollment or employment.

Current as of March 2023. For more Michigan concealed carry information see – and be sure to sign up for our email newsletter for updates.

Best Laser Sights for Pistols

“Just point that dot at what you want to hit and you don’t even need to see your gun!”

Sounds like a great idea, but is it?

Anytime we consider modifying or accessorizing a firearm that we intend to use for self-defensive purposes, we have to consider the costs v.s. the benefits, both monetary and effectiveness.

Everything we do with a firearm must have a considerable benefit that outweighs the risk, just like with firearm safety.

The most obvious cost is the actual expense. A good quality electronic pistol optic of any kind is not going to be cheap. Count on at least $200 for a decent laser. Even more for an RMR. If cost is not an issue for you, fine, but still spend the money on more training first.

That leads to the second “risk” or negative. Skill. If you are buying a laser because you aren’t a good shot with your pistol, sorry, but you will still be a bad shot. A laser will not improve your fundamental skills. It is more likely to make them worse. The majority of your shooting practice should still be done at full extension with a two-handed grip and only using your sights as needed.

If you learn to rely on a laser for improved accuracy, what happens when it fails?

Even the student who tells me “I have never had a problem with it” ultimately does. Right when it is needed. Batteries die, other lighting interferes with seeing the dot, etc. When this happens, you are likely worse at using your sights than you were before you added the laser. Add to that a little stress from a real-life situation and you could be in real trouble.

Today’s lasers are lighter, tougher, and more reliable than ever but they still seem to stop working occasionally.

Bottom line is that a laser could be helpful in some cases where you cannot line up your sights – unorthodox position or dim light but, for the vast majority of plausible situations you will encounter, you won’t need any sights. Get some training shooting from less common positions, in dim light and drawing from a holster.

Even the best laser in NOT a substitute for good training.

Gift of Self Defense

What better gift can you give this holiday season than the gift of security and confidence?

Consider giving the gift of personal defense.

We will email you a special gift certificate for you to give your loved one. It can be used for private training or for any of our upcoming courses to be redeemed at your convenience during the next 12 months.

Certificates are available in $10 increments.

(We will contact you after your purchase to find out the name you would like on the certificate, and where you would like it sent.)

Please write GIFT CERTIFICATE in place of the DATE on the payment page.

buy now
buy now

ONLINE CPL Renewal with PIN Michigan

You can renew your CPL online at the State of Michigan website, in person at the clerk’s office, or by mail.  The cost is the same ($115) but it might save you the time of having to go to the clerk’s office, and you can pay by credit card (some clerks do not accept credit).

The county clerk (where your permit was last issued) is supposed to mail you a renewal notice (by first-class mail) not less than 3 months or more than 6 months before your permit expires on your birthday.

The letter will be mailed to the address they have on file, so if you moved you may not receive it. Lapeer County has been asking people to update them about address changes for this purpose, but there is nothing in the law that requires a county to do this. They apparently do not sync your address with your driver’s license.  

If you don’t get your letter and you are within the 3-month timeframe, you can call the clerk’s office and ask them to send a replacement letter. 

If you can’t get the clerk’s office to help you, you can contact the State Police Concealed Pistol Licensing unit by email at 

If you are eligible for online renewal, the letter will have instructions and a renewal PIN that you will need to access your account online.

CPL holders who receive renewal notices not containing a PIN are not eligible to renew online.  You must either renew in person at your county clerk’s office or mail your completed CPL renewal application, with payment, to: 

P.O. Box 30634
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Once you have started the online process, the system appears to allow you to leave after each step and come back into the system without starting over.

Of course, your final step is to pay … and (once your payment clears) you should receive an email with a link to your receipt that you will need to download and print (last image). When I paid with a Visa card on a Friday I didn’t get the receipt until the following Wednesday even though the card was charged Friday.

This receipt becomes an automatic extension to your permit if you don’t get your new one in the mail before the old one expires, as long as you apply for the renewal before your license expires. 

Your new permit won’t be valid until your birthday, so you will need to carry both until the old permit expires.

Here’s what the process looks like:

Active Shooter Training – Lessons from The Saugus High School Shooting

On November 14, 2019, a shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, resulted in the deaths of two students and injuring three more.

What can we learn from this incident?

Anywhere Anytime
This attack, like many, did not start in a classroom. Lock-downs are of little use when classes are not in session. This one started before school was in session.

You’re on your own
It was over in seconds. You don’t have time for help to arrive or go get your tools.

Guns stop
Spree killers almost always have firearms malfunctions, and when they don’t they usually reload. This shooter’s gun malfunctioned after the first round. If someone had recognized that and knew what to do, it’s possible that only one person would have died that day. If you know how guns work and have trained for scenarios like this, it is actually pretty easy to take advantage of the shooter and counter his attack.

Train Realistically
Training makes a difference. There have been multiple reports that the school has recently received spree killer response training, including medical training to stop blood loss. And the school was prepared with the proper equipment.

One teacher helped one of the shooting victims after she ran into her classroom not even knowing she was shot. Watch this great interview.

Make note of a couple of points she makes:

  • You don’t think when stuff like this happens. You just do it. But you don’t do what you don’t know.
  • She doesn’t think she is a hero because she didn’t “choose” to do what she did, but a hero can’t do what they do like she did without choosing to get the training she had.
  • People don’t always know when they have been shot.

Of course, I wish this had never happened, I wish a 16-year-old didn’t feel like this was his solution to whatever problem he thought he had. But I also wish someone would have been armed, with the relevant training, close enough to stop the kid after the first shot.

You might not be able to legally carry in a school. But you can get some good, relevant training. Guns aren’t the only solution, even if they are one of the most efficient ways to stop a killer.

Lapeer County CPL Numbers

We’re proud to be part of helping people learn to defend themselves in and around Lapeer County by getting the training they need to be responsible gun owners, and for many, that means getting their concealed pistol license (CPL).

Lapeer County currently has over 9,193 active CPL holders as of May 1st, 2019. That equates to 14% of the population 21 and older in Lapeer County.

This makes Lapeer the #1 county for CPL holders in counties with over 50,000 residents, the #1 county for CPL holders in the lower 2/3 of the state, and #4 overall in the State of Michigan.

The number of total active Michigan concealed pistol license holders jumped significantly in April reaching a new all-time high of 657,298 as of May 1, 2019 — just over 8 percent of the state’s adult population.  The county with the highest percentage of adults with a CPL is Keweenaw, at 15%. Keweenaw is Michigan’s northern-most county and has the smallest population, with only 2,200 residents. The county with the lowest percentage of adults with CPLs is Kent, at 5%. Kent County includes Grand Rapids.

Valentine’s Day Special


If you are interested in doing something like this please contact us for current availability.

Looking for a unique gift for your Valentine? Show off your creativity by arranging to learn something new together or share something that you may already enjoy with your significant other.

Whether you want to train as a team or compete a little (what’s better than a little competition to get the adrenaline pumping?) a date at the range might be just the ticket! Better yet, make it a double date with friends for just a bit more and share the fun!

Custom packages are available at our private range, with our highly qualified instructor, 7 days a week. Book by February 16th for this Valentine’s Day special price and a printable gift certificate for your Valentine will be sent by email.

Your date (day, night or afternoon) at the range includes:

  • Two hours of private range instruction, catered to your skill level
  • Pistol rental including up to 100 rounds/person
  • All required safety equipment
  • Targets

Private for 1 couple = $150 weekend, $125 weekday
Double Date (2 couples) = $225 weekend, $200 weekday
Three or more couples = $100/couple

Must be scheduled between now and the end of May – we have many dates available, call Dean today at 810-882-1212 to book your date.

*Must be over 18 and have a valid state issued ID
*Range times can be adjusted for weather as needed

Moving to Michigan with a valid concealed carry permit CCW?

Michigan’s CPL (concealed pistol license) application requirements state that an applicant must be:

  • a citizen of the United States
  • a legal resident of Michigan
  • have resided in this state for not less than 6 months OR if you have a valid concealed carry permit from the state you are moving from, the 6-month waiting period is waived.

You are considered a resident of Michigan once you obtain a driver’s license, personal identification card, or register to vote. (see the complete statute for military residency requirements).

Michigan does not recognize permits from other states unless you are a resident of that state, so once you do establish residency here, your out-of-state permit is not valid for concealed carry in Michigan.

You will still need to take the Michigan CPL training course before you apply because no other state’s training meets the requirements of Michigan’s law, but you can speed the process up by taking the course before you establish residency.

Let me repeat that: If you don’t want to be without a valid license to carry any longer than you have to, you should take your CPL Course BEFORE you “establish residency here” so that you can apply the day you establish residency.

After you have filed your completed application, the approval process usually only takes a couple of weeks and no more than 45 days. More about the process here.

VERY GOOD CLASS! Dean did a great job. The setting was relaxed, friendly, and appropriately interactive. On the range, it was no-nonsense, safety first, with excellent personalized instruction. I benefited greatly from the training perspective of an ambush situation and the “balance of speed and precision” drills. I am a California CCW holder moving to Michigan so I’ve been through an approved training class. Dean’s range portion of the class was superior in my opinion as he taught us more “real life” tactics without the drill sergeant approach. When we move I plan to bring my wife for some additional personal training. – Jeff Holm