Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flawed Media Reaction to a Flawed FBI report (FBIs Active Shooter Report, part II)

Yesterday I talked about the FBI's nonsensical Active Shooter report, today I happened upon an article by the Huffignton Post.  Obviously the Hufpo is not considered serious unbiased media by me or probably anyone reasonable, though its a source of credible information for at least enough people to keep it in business which says something.
Some people enjoy smoking meth, too, which also says something
Is this Hufpo piece a work of investigative journalism that breaks down the inconsistency and futile nature of the FBI reports data?  Haha, no.  The Hufpo decided that the report was sound and ran with the numbers to back a "moral" position even though the report admits to the reader that its incomplete and very specific in what it considers an active shooter event to be, which is basically an arbitrary definition someone in the government came up with and maybe won a bet on.

See, the Federal Government needs three deaths (not including the shooter) to classify an event as an active shooter (it also has to happen in a confined space, size not detailed).  40% of the 160 incidents included in the report dont meet this definition but are used anyway because, well, I actually have no idea...bodies are bodies, I guess?  Of these 160 events, 21 shooters were stopped by unarmed individuals (not LE) and only 5 incidents were stopped by armed individuals (not LE).  These aren't good numbers for the NRA's "Good guy with a gun" line, says HufPo.  Well, setting aside the problems with the report to begin with, Hufpo seemed to miss the point that these numbers represent people.  Actual living, breathing Americans and are not statistical commodity to be traded for political points.  Yeah, forgive me if I dont like peoples life and death situations being used to further a political ideology.  Lives were actually saved and Hufpo says its just not good enough.  They want less lives saved, I suppose.

Hufpo writer Mike Weisser doesn't care about your feelings, he has an issue with personal responsibility and obviously doesn't like the idea of people protecting others out of some moral or ethical desire to do so (unless its as a paid employee as the government, that is).  But Mike isnt done, he then cites a 2005 paper by Gary Kleck that looked at sexual assaults against women. 

Kleck examined sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults from 1992-2002.  He goes into great detail on if these victims defended themselves and with what (gun, knife, other object) and then supposes based on numbers that those who didnt resist or fled to call the police were far better off than those who did fight back.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Klecks report advocates being a victim by choice (im seeing a trend here).  Our first problem is that the data he used if from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which does not ask a victim specific questions regarding guns, only resistance and it includes all victims including children/teens ("persons aged 12 or older") who cant legally own guns and probably didnt carry dirty.  Kleck comes right out and says that those who didnt resist with force were much less likely to be injured, except for being raped, that is.  Based on this dickpunchingly stupid correlation, Kleck is an idiot who thinks being raped must be better than being beat up after attempting to stop a rape, or, you know, smoke checking the rapist.  Hes an advocate for the victim-in-waiting mentality.  Because Kleck speaks Mike Weisser's language, its obvious why the Hufpo writer would include a report about sexual assault against women in an article about citizens resisting an active shooter because in the liberal mind these must be the same thing.  You literally can not make this shit up.  Well, you can but not ironically.  Oh yeah, and Kleck kind of contradicted himself a few times in the report like this one time he wrote this:

"In assault incidents, most Self Protection (SP) tactics appear to reduce the risk of injury and serious injury compared to nonresistance."

So self defense is good...then?  Im not convinced that they even know what they are saying.  Whatever they are selling, im not buying.  What is on display is that guns must not be very effective since they are used rarely to stop rapists and active shooters.  This is true if you re-arrange the numbers or sample the data to prove your point.  The evidence should not be made to fit the crime is rule number one of criminal investigations, not J school, it seems.  So Hufpo wrote a bad article on a bad report and a bad study.  Wait, I have something for this....

The FBIs report does not focus on those who stopped attempted active shooting events.  Now, someone reading this could say "well how can we know that someone prevented an active shooting?"  How about because this country and our legal system in general is obsessed with motive and intent.  Even when something isnt a tragedy, we want to know how bad it could have been.  Oh, and by we I mean the same media that wants you to be a victim, apparently.  The investigation and common sense regarding the elements of the crime will show what may have happened; and we my have the criminals words as well.  Just off the top of my head I can think of a few situations where a CCW or off duty cop prevented an active shooter.

I dont know about you, but having a chance is always better than no chance and being unarmed is not much of a chance.  Though if I read the Hufpo piece right, he may be advocating that unarmed resistance is better than armed resistance which makes a weird kind of sense if you are morally opposed to inanimate objects based on their effectiveness to perform certain tasks.  Im sure he rides his bike across country as opposed to using an airplane because its the right thing to do.  Just looking at some of his other articles im also pretty sure hes trolling Hufpo and the irony is that his trolling is indistinguishable from extremism so no one has noticed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Calling Shenanigans on the FBI's Active Shooter Report

I read the news every morning, its somewhat of a ritual though I wouldnt say I have a pattern. MSNBC, CNN, Breitbart, The Blaze, Infowars (to see how the tinfoil is fitting that day), local news and Reuters are all part of my morning stops (as well as Cracked.com).  This morning I came across an article on the FBI's latest Active Shooter study so I figured it was time to read it.

Jesus Christ.

I have been hearing about the FBI's new Active Shooter study, I know it was emailed to me a few times but until this morning I had not bothered to read the entire thing.  Well I read it, and my general reaction is wondering if somehow I came to work drunk and forgot that I drank when I woke up.  I put some thought into this and decided no, I am sober so it must be something else.

Awesome work, guys.

Its the report, or I should say the problems with the report.  Anyone who has bothered to think about it knows that you can make statistics say anything you want as long as you are in control of the formula.  The government has been in charge of the crime statistics formula since the FBI began collecting data decades ago with the Uniform Crime Report.  The UCR is very useful, though is usefulness is directly related to what you want to use it for.  The FBI doesn't generate the data, rather it relies on state and local government to report the data to them.  Our first problem is that definitions may vary.  What is seen at the state level as one thing may be viewed at the Federal level as something else, and the Active Shooter report certainly gives us a great example of that.  The Federal Governments definition requires that there be three or more fatalities for an event to classify as an "Active Shooting" or "Mass Killing" according to the law (Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012)  Okay, so right off the bat our first problem is that "mass killing" or "active shooting" is a definition, not a crime.  Its murder, and the title is given to it by the circumstances and facts of the event.  Requiring three murders to occur under specific circumstances “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” leaves us a great ability for the skewing of data.  The FBIs own report admits,

"Though additional active shooter incidents may have occurred during this time period, the FBI is confident this research captured the vast majority of incidents falling within the search criteria."  
.....go on

The FBI further poisons the sample data waters by stating;

"Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations; therefore caution should be taken when using this information without placing it in context. Specifically, shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence—pervasive, long-tracked, criminal acts that could also affect the public—were not included in this study."
What the hell are you doing?

So we need three murders, but only if they occur outside of criminal enterprises, well that sort of makes sense if you hold your mouth right and read through squnited eyes but okay, it cant get any worse, right?

"The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope."

Okay...So I need three murders, and it has to happen on the right kind of real estate and cant be in any way criminally related and we aren't worried about attempted anything...Which is kind of like the FBI telling me losing my virginity didn't count because it didn't include three or more women even though that was most certainly my plan. Oh, and even if I meet the "requirements" the crime may still not be included by their own admission because, you know maybe someone else will cover it (maybe).

"Other private and public entities have studied mass casualty incidents, murder rates, and school or workplace violence. (e.g., Campus Attacks:Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education, a joint publication of U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Education, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2010"

I have a lot of respect for the FBI's investigative power when there is nothing political at stake.  This report has been beat so hard by politics that it flinches at sunlight.  Seriously, this report lays out 160 events between 2000 and 2013 and then goes right ahead and tells you that

"The FBI found that 64 incidents (40.0%) would have been categorized as falling within the new federal definition of “mass killing,” which is defined as “three or more killings in a single incident."

So screw the other 60% of events then, I guess?  This is arbitrary and forced anecdotal statistics at its best.  Lets not even make an attempt to include attempted active shooter events where the shooter was stopped by someone (predominately a CCW holder) before they could carry out their plan.  Lets not include a drive by of a night club or a parking lot shooting because it may be "gang related."  I have read some carefully crafted statistics in my life time but this report is like a schizophrenic juggler who is also a part time impressionist house painter in a job interview with the king of France who is also a Ronald McDonald statue on a bench in Jersey City. It makes that much sense.

If you are going to do a study on active shooter events for public consumption, perhaps do the damn thing right?  There is nothing the FBI did here that could not have been done by a private party, in fact a private party may have done a better job.  The report shows (with graphs of course, because words are hard for journalists these days) a remarkable increase in active shootings from 2000 to 2013 even though this "increase" includes the shootings the FBI stated in the report that they shouldn't have included but did anyway because fuck logic.

Pictured: A Better author and researcher
The New York Times ran with it and used this report as further evidence that the sky is falling and guns are evil, obviously not actually reading the report (it looks like all information quoted was pulled directly from the graphs and only basic reading comprehension was exercised).  Way to go J school, this new generation or reporters is so much better than the last....Oh, and violent crime is down.  Way down and shows no signs of doing anything else but going down.  But hey, assault rifles.

My problem is that the low information crowd relies on the media to make their decisions for them, or at the very least give them the information they need to flip a coin (because everything is a two choice decision, right?).  The media takes this trust and exploits it like a corner pimp shelling out cocaine bumps to working girls.  The system is obviously broken, this particular situation is a good example of that but who is going to notice?

Anyone paying attention

Sunday, September 28, 2014

When "What If" Doesnt Belong on the Range

If it didn't happen, it didn't happen.

Some trainers love to what if their students.  My first introduction to clearing rooms outside of the military (also known as how to look for people and things quickly while looking cool) had me under the tutelage of a sardonic sadist with no tolerance for other people using air and vibrations in their throat to create words.  Speaking wasn't too much of an option with this guy and disagreement with anything was akin to a crime against humanity.  As if he couldn't be any more of a human cartoon, he drank coffee black in July and chomped on an unlit cigar.  Yeah, that dude you are picturing right now?  That's exactly what he looks like, but taller and with a Ranger rolled hat.

Basically, this but with a shirt on and more velcro.
So there I was, making my first center-fed room entrance and I nailed it, that is until I was informed by the only guy in the room who had probably kicked a baby at some point in his life that I had not cleared a corner.  See, I have eyes so visually seeing the corner was clear meant there was no reason to muzzle it, I had other areas of the room to worry about and that rifle can only be pointed at one place at a time.

He disagreed with my visual clearing.  He did so with colorful language, a hand on my shoulder and the other with a knife hand pointed into an empty 90 degree angle.

"That M$#%*^F&*K'in corner could have F&^*'in had 19  M$#%*^F&*K'in   M$#%*^F&*KERS in it and all of them would have F&^*'in killed you."

...Was his lesson.  I dont remember the words exactly but thats about it.  Maybe there were more nouns and verbs that involved uncomfortable body positions.  The lesson I was being taught was to point my weapon at any place a person could be, even if I knew them not to be there just because they could be there.  I obviously disagreed, as should everyone because pointing your weapon at every place a person could be would be a very time consuming exercise and totally discounts situational awareness, which is a much more important skill to learn.  Some instructors love to "what if" situations, and MSG (Ret.) Popeye (im going with that name) was no different.  The damn corner was empty.  It was in an empty room, there was no furniture present, just a rectangle with poor lighting and a few paper targets that were either shoot or no shoot in nature.  I shot the shoot, didn't shoot the no shoots and at no point was their anything in any category in the corner I didn't point my weapon at.  At no point during this class did I miss shooting a bad buy target, yet I could have if one had been in the corner I didn't point my weapon at because I could see it was empty?  Oh, okay because screw logic.

Well, some lessons are unintentional.  This class taught me to respect my students as an instructor and never to doubt their observation skills if it aligns with their performance.  Since I have the power of sight, I have a good idea of how it works and if I think a student is bullshitting me with "But I did check that corner" its easy for me to verify it by putting bad guys in all the damn corners to see if he/she misses one.  I can do all of this without the mystical and misunderstood power of What If?  

Imagination can be a large part of training and practice.  The what if power is also important, but it can be used in ridiculous (see above) ways.  We want to what if what our bad guy is capable of doing, not what he doesn't do.  An empty corner remains an empty corner until the bad guy is in it.  There is little point discussing the merits of the fact that he physically could have been there...but he wasnt. Situational awareness, especially under stress is hard enough to master without someone playing imagination games. We teachers can do more harm than good when it comes to SI training without even meaning to.  Its almost assuredly never done with malice but it still happens.

When I first started teaching, there was a neat little trick I picked up for re-enforcing the scanning technique we want to use when coming off the gun.  Shots fired, bad guy down, move to cover, reload if necessary and then break tunnel vision and look for other guys by getting a quick 360 view of the world around you by scanning.  I would (and still do) have everyone on the line scan and move off line during each string.  This neat little trick was to hold up X number of fingers behind the line and then at random as one of the shooters how many fingers I had up.  More often than not they wouldn't know and I would assume this was because they were looking without seeing.   Actually, as one student pointed out, he didn't see the fingers because he wasn't looking for them, he was looking for bad guys and other things of interest that made sense as part of the scenario/drill.  Once I thought about what he said, I stopped using the "how many fingers" thing and have not used it since.  It seems like a stupid trick on reflection but I was new to teaching and had not yet scratched the surface on SI education for myself.  I can (and do) use the same scanning reinforcement drill now, but I do it with more realistic methods and often in a way that allows the student to (safely, of course) engage a scanned-to threat.

Dont get me wrong, I still use what if as part of training, but its part of theory, not application.  Proving a negative can be a difficult and sometimes counterproductive task, never is this more true than when someone adds facts to prove a point that is better proved by actually producing the situation in question. There are many training artificalities in firearms because of the dangers associated with some methods, but they can still be safely performed with planning and that serves a much better purpose than what ifing things.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"I Know my Rights" and Other Things People Yell and Type Loudly

Everyone at some point has seen a movie, or seen in real life (also known as reality TV without the "TV" part) a person scream "I know my rights!"  Its such a common occurrence that it fills a few categories of TV tropes  and in general helps us all laugh at some poor character who obviously does not know his rights.

Some people, in my experience don't either.

Dont get me wrong, there are a great deal of well educated folks out there who know what it is they can and cant do, or rather what the government can or cant do to them, which is really what its all about.  Some of us left legal education behind in high school and maybe have a vague recollection of some of the amendments (ill go out on a limb here and say that a vast majority of readers know their Second Amendment very well).  As for those other amendments, perhaps not so much.  When it comes to interacting with law enforcement, we have a few amendments that are specifically written to protect you (from yourself, sometimes).  Law enforcement represents the government; but any government employee; from mail man to doctor, can technically violate your rights.

The First Amendment is the one everyone is always so proud of; and with good reason since without it we would have no voice to redress the government for their dickish behavior, nor tell others about their dickish behavior.  We might not have Jersey Shore and im pretty sure under the current administration, Ann Coulter would be in jail without the 1st.  Its our right to free speech, so long as that speech does not exceed some limitations we (the government) have placed on it.  You have no right to false statements of facts, Fighting words or threats, child pornography, obscenity or speech that could reasonably endanger the lives of others.  There are hundreds of court decisions alone leading up to most of these exceptions (and not all exceptions are listed).  But for all the 1st does, it doesnt govern the speech or prevent censure of speech between two private parties.  You have no 1st protection on Facebook, Twitter, IG or whatevergunforum.com.  You also do have the right to not speak which is sometimes far more powerful than speaking.
Pictured: The reason for the Third Amendment
Lets skip right to the 4th Amendment since all of you know the 2nd (and maybe even have a 2nd inspired tattoo which I totally support). The Fourth protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires law enforcement have a warrant in most situations to perform a search.  The Fourth Amendment is where a lot of people make mistakes when interacting with law enforcement.  Since 90% of what cops do is Fourth Amendment related, you may be shocked to learn that they know it pretty damn well.  This doesnt mean that they cant get it wrong (because they do) or they abuse your lack of knowledge (because, sadly, this happens as well) but by and large, the day to day interactions between citizens and cops go by without mention because they went as they should.  Its only the bad examples we seem to hear about because good examples dont make good youtubes videos and have a nice day and be careful pulling back out into traffic.  

Not having a working knowledge of the Fourth Amendment is dangerous, especially since its pretty straightforward.  Cops can only search you or your car or your with Probable Cause, which means if they have it, they don't need to ask your permission.  If they are asking, they dont have it.  In order to search your house or business, they need a warrant.   Now, LE can pat you down (which is not considered a search) if they have reasonable suspicion that you are presently armed AND dangerous and they can visually search whatever is within public view.  Just as with the 1st, their are exceptions; Exigent Circumstances (we love this term), Search Incident to Arrest, Public Safety Exception and Consent (dont do it) are just a few of them.

Let me say that again: consent to nothing not matter how innocent you are.

The Fifth Amendment is where we start getting into trouble and where talking (even though you are innocent) can hem you up.  The Fifth protects you from yourself, literally, mainly in regards to self-incrimination.  You cannot be forced to testify against yourself.  It also has a Due Process Clause which keeps the government from getting grabby on your life, liberty or property.

The Fifth also gives us Miranda (with a sprinkling of the Sixth)

Now we come to some of the most misunderstood rights, which are the Miranda Rights, also known as Miranda Warning and often exactly what that guy is talking about when he screams "I'ah knu mah rites!"  Miranda came about because some cops in Arizona in the 60's decided to play fast and loose with the law.  As it is with most supreme court decisions regarding law enforcement dickish behavior, the court handed down Miranda and its been misrepresented on TV ever since.  An officer does not have to Mirandize you unless you are in police custody AND are being asked questions about whatever it is you are in custody for (custodial interrogation).  So everyone know that one guy who says hes gonna get off because they didnt read him his rights, well if they didnt ask him questions about his crime, hes not and even if they did (without Mirandizing) it wouldnt be a get out of jail free card, it would mean those statements and any evidence (generally) gained from those statements couldnt be used against him.

Most people will never have a reason for needing these protections, but knowing how to use them if you do, or having a good knowledge of how they work will help you better prepare for the possibility and to recognize either dickish LE behavior, or comically incorrect statements on the webs and (even better) in person.  The large majority of cops dont have a personal grudge against citizens (because they are citizens too) but there are bad representatives in every job and they are usually the ones that get the attention.  

As with everything worth knowing, there is plenty to learn.  The best place to learn it is not TV.  Imagine the shock on a Canadian womans face when a Canadian LE friend of mine informed her she didnt have Miranda Rights (but the people on those American TV shows do).  We as a gun community are huge on our Second Amendment knowledge.  So to should we be with the others to best prevent misunderstandings and any violations.  


Monday, September 22, 2014

4 U.S. Presidents Whose Lives Put Action Movies to Shame-Cracked.com

I laughed a little bit and then a lot more.  Teddy isnt on the list, which is weird but he cant be at the top of every list.

4 U.S. Presidents Whose Lives Put Action Movies to Shame -- powered by Cracked.com

Sunday, September 21, 2014

You Dont "Need" Night Sights: Gearcentric Singularities

"I just picked up an XD."

"Sweet, what model?"

"9mm, the 4 inch.  What sights do you think I should get?"

"It didn't come with any?"

"What?  No, but it doesn't have night sights."

"You don't need night sights."

At that point he looked at me like I was eating paste right out of the jar with a severed chicken foot.  I had just told him that he didnt need night sights.  I had apparently disappointed him and America.

Cue uncomfortable silence music.

5 minutes later we had reached the conclusion that I must not know what im talking about and he was getting some High Definition sights.  I was left wondering why he asked my advice to begin with if the decision to buy HD sights had been made before the conversation began.  Affirmation maybe?

Sights are one of the few useful things we can customize/improve on a handgun.  Some things we do to handguns are pure aesthetics but sights can be improved over what the manufacturer offers (especially in the case of Glock and their simple plastic sights) though we can easily get away from ourselves when it comes to performance focused improvements.  The guns already shoot better than we are capable of shooting.  Dont get me wrong, sights are very important.  Night sights, less so.

When it comes to fixed sights; expect few differences.  The same is true for night sights.  The idea behind a night sight is that some medium, usually tritium (or the same material from the stars on the ceiling of an 8 year old girls room if you are HK) is affixed to the rear and forward sight and it glows so the sights can be seen in low and no light. Sounds good right?  Well, heres the problem with that; If it is too dark to clearly make out your sights, how well do you expect to see whatever it is you want to shoot?  As far as the human eye works, there is only a brief time of day/ type of lighting where night sights would be beneficial and that is when your eyes are in a mesopic phase, which is essentially where your day vision (cones) and our night vision (rods) are fighting for control of what we see based on available lighting.  This is most common under twilight conditions or in places where artificial lighting is intermittent like a parking garage.  Everyone who has driven at twilight had experienced this.The sun just went down, visibility is low so you (or your car) turn on your headlights and it does absolutely nothing for your ability to see.  This is because its not dark enough for light but not bright enough to see well without it.  Your eyes are essentially trolling you.  In this environment, night sights aid you in near focus on the sights and can aid in accuracy within the distance you are able to see (which isnt far).  HD Sights in my experience are actually detrimental under these conditions because the front post is bright enough to confuse the eye into thinking lighting is brighter than it really is, which confuses the transitions between the mesopic lighting of the target and the near photopic (day) brightness of the sights.  The rear U notch isnt as bright as the front post, which is good but overall I cant get behind them.  I love Trijicon products, I just have no love for the HD sights.

Night sights are a welcome addition to the firearm, but they dont solve a problem that cant be solved for less money or with more proper practice.  They arent going to improve your skill, make you shoot faster or more accurately.  Under real life stress you may not even see your sights at all.   So why bother?  Well, there are advantages found in sights, though them glowing in the dark may not be among them.  When we get away from the basic night sights and start looking at creating a contrast between the rear and front sights, thats where we get an advantage.  Night sights are offered with different color rear/front combinations, which is better all things considered than one solid color for both, though they glow more or less at the same brightness which ruins the luminosity contrast and only gives you a color contrast.  Color contrast between two light sources bight enough to bloom in your vision are far more detrimental than useful.  Then we have fiber optics.  I like fiber optics because they concentrate available light without magnifying it.  Even under twilight conditions, the "glow" from a fiber optic rod is not going to be so bright as to obscure your target.  Of course the argument against fiber optic sights is usually a durability issue, which is true they are subjectively more fragile than traditional sight or night sights but even if the fiber optic rod is broken, the front sight post will most likely still be there, taunting you with its usefulness.   Oh, and a broken fiber optic rod is a cheap fix.

The crux of the issue is that night sights come from a time when handgun lights were neither prevalent or practical and flash lights were still quite large and unwieldy.  Trijicon introduced their night sights in 1985; the same year Laser Products (later Surefire) introduced their handgun light.  Of the two, one was more inexpensive, did not require the purchase of specialty holsters and did not require additional training.  The popularity of the sights was a practical decision for many.  Handgun lights kept getting smaller and less expensive, night sights remained largely the same because not much had to change.  In fact, low-light training was so sight-dependent that there used to be a technique known as "Silhouetting the Sight" where, if you could not see your sights, you would aim at a better lit area....align your sights and then move them back to your target.  Yeah, that makes exactly as much sense as you think it does which is none.  Yet you can still find it in firearms books as recently as the early 90s and many popular instructors who were teaching in the 70's, 80's and 90's have taught this technique to people because I have no idea why the hell you would.  They may deny it today, but it happened.  I know it happened because one of them tried to teach it to me in 2002 and I had a weapon light.  

pictured:  my reaction to this "technique."

The point of the story is that the thinking behind sights has not necessarily caught up with the technology and because of that, there is a lot of ineffective, inefficient or just plain stupid information out there.  If you have a weapon light (or a handheld), the need for night sights is effectively zero. The use of a light will backlight your sights, making slight alignment comically easy.  I have a lot of different sights from a lot of different manufacturers.  The differences between them once we get past the "do they glow in the dark" conversation is very little or quite a bit depending on what you want your sights for.
L to R TruGLo TFO, Glock Night sights, Trijicon,  Zev FO
So no, you dont need night sights, what you need is a way to quickly transition between three focal planes while shooting and have the greatest degree of contrast possible between the front and the rear (without blooming in your vision) to make fast target acquisition easier.  For some shooters, this may mean night sights though for the human eye, a color contrast will serve far better than a light contrast.  I lover gear as much as the next guy; I own a few Arcteryx products so that qualifies me to talk about the dangers of gearwhoring (no, but Arcteryx products are actually worth it if you need them).  If you are new to after market improvements, are looking to upgrade your existing sights or simply want to experiment, do your research and make some wise choices.  Just because a gun doesnt come with night sights doesnt mean it actually needs them.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cowards and Wolves

Criminal intent and the criminals in general are fascinating to me.  Not fascinating because I am interested in the socioeconomic conditions that would drive a person to be a criminal (understanding that does nothing to help the individual prevent it), its because teaching self-defense means I need to have a grasp on the bad guy.  I need to help people realize the paper they are shooting represents a possible future situation where its going to be a real bad guy and not some card stock or poster board with a helpful anatomy drawing.  Understanding the mentality of the criminal is my main interest, because knowing the enemy best helps prepare to face them.

At least five days a week I interact with criminals and suspected criminals in one way or another, some are new to the job, others already carry the title of felon.  From murders to look out boys to simple thieves, I have whittled it down to two types of criminal for the sake of self-defense.  Cowards and Wolves.

The best representation of a Wolf is the Joker, but the Joker is a comic book character and real life doesn't have a Batman.   In the real world things are rarely simple, and not largely predictable.  We always knew Batman would beat the Joker in the end no matter how crazy or violent the Joker was.  Good is supposed to triumph over evil and all that.  If only it were that simple.

As always, there are far too many variables to say definitively how a situation is going to occur, but there is enough evidence out there to make safe assumptions.  I know the tired cliche about assumptions and how we aren't supposed to make them, the problem with that line of thinking is it doesn't make any damn sense.  We do have to make assumptions, we do it all the time because sometimes its the safe course of action (assume the stove is hot instead of checking with your hand sort of thing) and because we often only have an impression to work with and there is information we cannot possibly be sure of.  We don't want to make needless assumptions, and those we do make need to be as educated as possible, but they are going to happen.  When it comes to dealing with the criminal element, I make assumptions all the time based on what I can see, what I already know (experience) and what I can expect to happen.


Back in February, a video of a shooting started making the rounds on Facebook and, well, everywhere else.  As shooting videos go, its an interesting one with an interesting story.  An off-duty officer pumping gas late at night when he is approached by three men and robbed at gun point. Words are exchanged, the officer is able to blade himself and draw his weapon, shooting one of the three men.  The other two leg it out of there in short order.  I saw a lot of commentary on this video, lots of arm chairing and the usual discussions but what I didn't see was anyone ask a somewhat important question:  Why were there three of them?

All things considered, the mans car does not speak of great wealth, nor does the neighborhood.  Three men, one gun and a potential profit of what?  Even if he happened to have a thousand dollars in cash on him, that isn't much split three ways.  No, they work together because they are cowards.  They aren't willing to take all the risk for all the profit because all things are easier with more hands, including being a hardened criminal.  The permanently rehabilitated crook (the one who was shot in the head) was a 16 year old kid, he played a stupid game and he won a stupid prize.  He worked with two others because apparently it takes three people to rob a guy at a gas station.  What does set this situation apart is that after the wallet was handed over, the gunman maintained his aim and more words were exchanged.  This is what sets the shooter apart from his partners.  He was the one who ran the gun, ran the robbery, and ultimately got to chill at the gas station while his buddies fled.

This isn't just idle speculation on my part.  Every chance I get to talk to a criminal about his career path, I do it.  What ive learned is that sharing the work is where it starts, two or three (sometimes more) will get together and work as a team.  Sometimes it even makes sense to do so, though usually you have a pair of mopes running stick ups on the street leading to a train station and splitting $40 or $50 bucks in cash per felony.  Hardly worth it.  Criminals evolve though, and that's when they get more dangerous.

A crime of profit is a transaction, the bad guy demands under threat of injury, something you have.  If you hand it over there is a strong chance that he will then leave you alone.  This is the general wisdom put out by both slides of the gun debate and it is true, sometimes.  The more a stick up kid, car jacker or burglar works, the more he gets away with, the more emboldened and experienced he will get.  Eventually he will work to a point where hes not willing to split the take anymore.  This is when a coward becomes a wolf.

"Dunn" is a wolf.  Hes doing 75 years for drug related murder type crimes and lack of desire to hold a real job.  Hes in his forties now, but he started his life of crime before he was even a teenager.  Breaking into cars, sheds and any place that a person was unlikely to be.  He graduated to being a rooster for drug dealers and then started doing stick ups with a few friends.  By the time he was 20 he was working alone and did everything from home invasions to gas station robberies.  His first stint in prison was the result of a car jacking.  His second was for attempted manslaughter (plead down from attempted murder).  His last was for shooting some drug dealers because, well, because thats what Dunn evolved into.   Hes not going to see freedom in his lifetime; but hes only one of thousands of criminally inclined individuals that start out small, scared and somewhat harmless and slowly evolve into violent offenders.  Dunn has seen violence his entire life, has had more guns pulled and pointed at him than he can remember, stabbed, beaten and shot twice.  If he was on the street and you had something he wanted, hes going to take it.  Could Dunn be reasoned with?  Maybe; but its damn unlikely.  Chances are he would just shoot you whether you gave up what he wanted or not.  Dunn is doing 75 years for what he was convicted of, not for everything he did.

Cowards and wolves are both dangerous, though for different reasons and its difficult to tell them apart.  If you get mugged in a parking lot, telling one from the other is going to be largely academic because you cant possibly know their ultimate intentions.  Their motive is profit, but how far are they willing to go to get it?  We have to assume in all situations where our life is threatened that the threat is genuine.  Handing over a wallet or a set of car keys shouldn't be a problem, it isnt worth our lives they say, and they are right.  But what if we hand over the property and are still harmed?  How do we predict that?  Maybe it will be obvious that no matter what we do, the bad guy is going to try and hurt us, though maybe promises are made that if we just hand whatever it is over, no one gets hurt. Theres no thieves code; lying to you is allowed and encouraged.

We have to make assumptions, safe assumptions.  Not only should we be willing to use force, but we should use force at the earliest opportunity as long as that force is justified.  A coward is likely to work with others, get what he wants and be gone.  A wolf will probably work alone to maximize his profit.  Dunn became a wolf when he was tired of sharing the wealth and had reached the point where he was desensitized to the risk.  Hes where he belongs, but he came from a place where conditions and circumstances create more Dunn's every day. If you arent prepared to exercise as much violence as possible to save your life, you dont have the right mindset.  Cowards and wolves should be treated the same because telling the difference may require an unsafe assumption.

Dunn is one of the most violent men ive ever met.  hes probably a sociopath, which means he isnt very well educated and lacks the charm Hollywood tells us that all sociopaths have (they dont).

Dunn doesn't care about right or wrong and cant figure out why you do, either.

Dunn is what you train and practice for.

Thats not a piece of paper you are shooting at, its Dunn.

He will kill you.

Train Accordingly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brady Sues Online Retailers: The Anti-Gun Machine Grinds on.

On September 16, 2014 The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, also known as "A group of people opposed to certain kinds of violence, under certain conditions done with certain inanimate objects" filed a lawsuit against four online retailers for selling ammunition, body armor and tear gas canisters to James Holmes, who you well know is set to resume his trial for the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Co.   The suit is against Lucky Gunner , Sportsmans Guide , Bullet Proof body Armor HQ and BTP Arms.

The lawsuit alleges that these retailers are responsible for being clairvoyant mediums or for employing said mediums and are required to screen the aura and psyche of on line shoppers before their purchases are made in order to best decide if the private transaction should be allowed to proceed.  Okay it doesn't actually say that, but according to the brain trust at Brady Campaign:

“A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and co-counsel for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips have brought this lawsuit to make sellers of lethal arms and military equipment use reasonable care. ” 

That, by the way, is the dumbest thing I will read today and I just left CNN.com.  Brady wants us to believe that retailers have a moral and legal culpability in the sale of their products; basically a duty to care if these products are used in the commission of crimes even if no malice or conspiracy can be proven (or is even suspected).  To some this might make sense, I mean James Holmes killed 12 and inured over 60 in the now infamous theater shooting; he used an AR-15 (and a shotgun and handgun) though its common knowledge that "assault rifle" use in crimes is in the 1%-2% range.  Brady has been on the anti "assault rifle" rage train for years, but its a politically untenable issue so it seems now they are taking a play from the Michael Moore play book and going after retailers.  Only Moore just wanted them to not sell ammo, Brady Campaign wants Injunctive Relief  against the defendants, which will essentially put them out of business if the courts find in Brady's favor. Now, this is already pretty ridiculous but after reading the complaint, there are some downright ridiculous allegations that would be funny if this wasn't so serious.  Consider the following:
"Defendants sell combat supplies, such as military-style high-capacity ammunition
magazines, ammunition, and body armor, that can be and have been used in numerous criminal shootings, including horrific mass attacks on humanity. At all relevant times they were well aware of the foreseeable risk that their products would be used in such attacks, especially if they failed to exercise reasonable care in their business practices."

This collection of words, no doubt transcribed from cocktail napkins at a personal injury attorney convention at the airport HoJo basically places all blame on objects, and people who sell those objects instead of on the man responsible for the actual crime.  

"It was highly foreseeable to Defendants that their potential customers included persons with criminal intent, including persons such as James Holmes, who was bent on committing a mass assault."
Here we have the Brady lawyers demanding the physic nonsense, or at the very least having an unrealistic expectation that the defendants could have possibly known anything at all about what Holmes was planning.  Oh, and my favorite,
"In fact, in the months leading up to the attack, James Holmes engaged in a pattern of bizarre behavior. He acted, looked, and expressed himself in a way that raised grave suspicions about his dangerousness and mental stability, so much so that during the same time period that the Defendants sold Holmes thousands of rounds of ammunition and other combat supplies, a local shooting club did not admit Holmes because his behavior was so disturbing and suspicious."
Again, the suit wants to hold the retailers liable for not being fucking psychic and while just inferred, not invading the privacy of their customers.  You literally could not make shit like this up.  Oh, it gets worse.
"Defendants established and operated businesses which attracted — and catered to — dangerous persons such as Holmes, and yet they failed to implement any reasonable safeguards to prevent dangerous people from obtaining high-capacity ammunition magazines, thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor, and tear gas, and by which Holmes, and dangerous people like him, could buy such materiel online, without any human interaction or screening."
Basically, Brady wants to George Orwell your ass and they want it in a rough, 1984 style.  This case creates a dangerous precedent, and not just for those in the firearms industry.  Auto manufacturers could be sued because drunk driving, Pharmacies because prescription abuse and maybe even farmers because heart disease.  Im sure none of you are strangers to ridiculous lawsuits, but its rare to see one so potentially damaging while at the same time being so bat-shit smearing insane.  The Brady Campaign for the war on logic isnt shy about filing "dem feels-and money also" motivated lawsuits and this certainly wont be the last time they decide to ride a tragedy to a sociopolitical goal, though this is the most troubling and fundamentally stupid action ive seen them take in a long time.  Even though no one can expect that the defendants are liable, they are going to have to spend a great deal of money defending this and that alone may put them out of business.  I have some on-line shopping to do now to support each of them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Today Show on NBC: Pretending Guns Dont Exist

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I just saw this video.  In order to appreciate what im about to say, you really should watch it.  You really need to watch it.It runs just under 5 minutes and could possibly be the most monumental thing you see today.

Did you watch it?  Okay, moving on.  I get that this is NBC, and its NBC's morning program, Today. The Today show is to actual news what Ebola is to birth control.  Sure it works but you are much worse off for having tried it.  Oh, and let of not forget that this was filmed in New York with the expert commentary and advice of a former NYPD detective that goes by the name of  Wallace Zeins. 

Wallace Zeins spent blah years with the NYPD and was a blah blah blah while blah.  You know why Wallace Zeins's background doesnt matter?  Because William Zeins is an idiot. 

Oh I dont mean that in an insulting way, I mean it as in the literal definition of an idiot as in a foolish or stupid person.  I wont call him retarded because that's a pejorative term for mentally handicapped and I wouldnt want to insult them twice by; 1) using that word and 2) counting Wallace Zeins among them because they are much better than that.     

In this visual abortion of reason, NBC "reporter" Jeff Rossen interviews Zeins about home invasions and solicits tips from him on what people can do to protect themselves.  This was obviously filmed in a home they broke into; I suspect this was probably easy because the home owners had previously taken Wallace Zeins advice.  Zeins offers advice like using your car's panic button as an alarm in a home invasion.  Some where right now, a car alarm is going off and its being ignored because since the invention of the panic button on key fobs it has been ignored.  Here is the Google results for "People who ignore car alarms." Nothing like Google showing you how people really feel about such stupid advice.   Oh, but could setting your car alarm off via panic button work in a home invasion?  Well the alarm would work im sure, as in operate as designed.  As to whether or not it would bring you help or not, I think your more polite neighbors would suffer through it for some time in hopes that you would turn it off or the battery would die.  No one's first thought would be to call the police and in my case I probably would have already done that after confronting the home intruder with a firearm because guns exist.

Zeins then offers advice on the purchase of a can of Wasp and Hornet Killer for home defense.

Yeah, bug spray. Look, I know its for Wasps and Hornets and I know that those two genius of insects are the assholes of the bug world but the advice is to spray people with bug spray after setting off your car's panic alarm?  Man, this is going to be one Clue  level crime scene. 

Zeins recommends standing in the corner and spraying them in the eyes, which in his defense would probably suck for their peepers because that stuff is designed to kill bugs; but doesn't make much sense in a world where guns exist.  At this point in the segment I feel like I am watching an episode of Dexter, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Law and Order on the same screen at the same time while talking with Comcast customer support on the phone.  It makes sense in the way that I can understand what hes saying and his words from coherent sentences but the content of those sentences make me question so much about his state of mind.  You know what works better than bug spray? Bullets.

Zeins then manages to remember enough words to explain an escape strategy thats more fire drill than home invasion planning.  Its good advice in the sense that its all about getting your kids and getting out, but it comes after some really bad advice so its sort of like being handed a cool glass of water after being waterboarded.  I dont want it.

At this point, its not over.  It should be, but Zeins was paid for his time and NBC is going to get their moneys worth.  Speaking of getting their moneys worth, Zeins says that if you are captured after failing to alert the SWAT team around the corner with your panic button and the wasp and hornet killer spray didnt work because its a slow moving stream of liquid that depends on contact with the eyes to be effective and you couldn't gather your family and escape because you are in an enclosed space and not an open corn field, at that point you should treat the invaders "like royalty" and you "dont want to lie to them."  I get it.  You are supposed to depend on the kindness and charity of a felon after your other shit plans fail; thats the advice im getting here. Thankfully as you well know, that was the end of it.  

I know this was filmed in New York even without them explicitly telling me so because it does what all progressive state media does and assumes things on behalf of the viewers.  NBC, Zeins and Jeff Rossen all know guns exist but they have to ignore that fact for other reasons.  Guns arent something polite society discusses on television.  We dont mention them, we certainly dont advocate using them.  Its a silent agreement between the media and the anti-gun movement to erase the very idea of firearms from any self defense advice.I dont know who watches The Today Show but Im sure most of them live in places still free where gun ownership is both possible and common, yet this segment doesnt even address it.  The home invasion examples given are that of celebrities and a politician, who can afford more security than the average viewer, which is at odds with the videos shown of home invasions of regular, everyday people. The one home invasion victim interview was with an unarmed and unprepared woman in Arizona, where there are more than a few examples of well prepared home owners in Arizona(and other states) refusing to be victims.   Watching this video is 
the mental equivalent of drawing pictures with cat shit crayons and then wondering why everyone in
the daycare center is so upset that you barged in for arts and crafts time smelling like gin.
Bug Spray?

I know that im preaching to the wise, as the chances of a Zeins-like thinker reading this are slim but
the fact is that Zeins cannot actually be that stupid.  He knows guns exist, he was probably (maybe
reluctantly) given one by the NYPD, he may have treated it like one treats a dirty diaper but he still had it, was aware of its existence and maybe even shot it occasionally.  New York has strict gun laws, but they still have a weakened Castle Doctrine that allows you to smoke check a home intruder without first having to try to escape.  His "advice" depends on the viewer being easily fooled obviously but the point here isnt to offer advice, its to remove a firearm from the conversation on possibilities.  If they dont talk about them, maybe we will forget they exist.

Well, Wallace Zeins may not be the hero NBC needs, but hes the hero they deserve.