Sunday, November 30, 2014

Straight From The Sheep's Mouth: Okay With Being a Victim

Today I read I Was Mugged, and I Understand Why by Oliver Friedfeld and, well....

Oh man, I don't even know where to start with this.  Imagine, if you will, someone so sheltered/ignorant and or idealistic that when mugged at gun point, they direct no anger at their mugger and instead blame themselves because of their "privilege."

Hold on, let me put this in perspective.
Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as “thugs?” It’s precisely this kind of “otherization” that fuels the problem.
Thats a direct quote from  Oliver Friedfeld, a senior at Georgetown University in Washington DC, who, along with his roommate was recently mugged at gunpoint (wait, a gun in DC?)

Take a deep breath.  Okay, Oliver has the opinion that since he has so much, and the criminal has so little, he has no right to blame them for robbing him and Oliver takes this circus-train of thought one step further by suggesting that referring to his muggers as "criminals," "thugs" or "bad people" isnt fair. 

Not once did I consider our attackers to be “bad people.” I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay. They wanted my stuff, not me. While I don’t know what exactly they needed the money for, I do know that I’ve never once had to think about going out on a Saturday night to mug people. I had never before seen a gun, let alone known where to get one. The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine.

Once again, Oliver tells us so much about his way of thinking with very few words.  He places trust in a mugger, armed with a gun, and is certain that no harm would come to him.  The fact that he wasnt hurt is somehow justification for the idea that he couldn't have been hurt.  Oliver's wealth of experience in the criminal world comes from...well having relatives in Mexico City, as he says, so he considers himself not "shielded from poverty." So hes basically saying the socioeconomic equivalent of I have black friends.

Honestly, This sort of thinking isn't unique to Oliver and as much as I wish it wasn't, the idea of "checking your privilege" seems to be growing, especially at the college level where academic idealism supplants education and the radicals of the 60's and 70's are now passing along their theories to the students and leaders of tomorrow.  I dont belong to that world, never have so perhaps I cant understand it as well as someone who clocks in every day to learn how they have it so much better than other people because not they, but their parents, grandparents or ancestors put in the hard work to see their family provided for and allow for young Oliver to go to Georgetown and feel sorry for having the opportunity.  Just trying to track that line of thought hurts my head.
yeah, he probably didnt buy that...
Well I have some bad news for Oliver.  Oliver is a sheep, he is the textbook definition of food and his way of thinking isnt going to win over the hearts and minds of the unfairly treated criminals.  Oliver's philosophy creates victims-in-waiting; people who are accepting of being victimized because the criminal must certainly need what hes taking, otherwise why would he be taking it?

When we play along with a system that fuels this kind of desperation, we can’t be surprised when we’re touched by it. Maybe these two kids are caught, and this recent crime wave dies down, but it will return because the demand is still there, and the supply is still here. We have a lot, and plenty of opportunities to make even more. They have very little, and few opportunities to make ends meet.
Again, I dont know Oliver but I think it would be a safe bet to say he doesnt know how a shovel works, or how one uses a lawn mower.  Oliver may be totally out of touch with the ideas of manual labor because its looked down on in his world.  Getting a job with a construction company or installing carpet may not be considered a "hand up" in his world.  It may not be seen as worthwhile work, because, you know, Georgetown.  There isnt a single job unworthy of someone to work it.  Oliver makes excuses for those who dont have what he does when in all actuality he probably wouldnt have what he does if someone else had not have worked for it.  The men who mugged him made a choice to take rather than to earn, and who better to take from than someone at the end of a line of other peoples hard work?  Oliver's opportunities were created by someone else.  That doesnt mean he isnt capable of creating wealth of his own, Im sure he is, but to assume his muggers couldnt have chosen a different path, done honest work and built themselves up to a comfortable life is the real "privilege" thinking.

but have no fear, for Oliver really lays down the gauntlet at the end...

The millennial generation is taking over the reins of the world, and thus we are presented with a wonderful opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past. As young people, we need to devote real energy to solving what are collective challenges. Until we do so, we should get comfortable with sporadic muggings and break-ins. I can hardly blame them. The cards are all in our hands, and we’re not playing them.

"Reins of the world"?  How does this kid hope to do so when he is obviously accepting of  being a victim?  Oliver actually thinks that he, and those like him, will suddenly find themselves in a position to change the world because they are the first ones to "understand" the criminal?  Well, I have news for him.  Every single senior class since forever has had similar ideas and we still have crime...that must mean we haven't spread the wealth around enough, right?  Or maybe it means that the more our education system produces people not able/willing to fight back and the more these same people push government to support the "less privileged" through entitlement programs, the more we are going to have this problem.  You stop the majority of opportunistic crime by changing the views of honest work, and making the crime so risky as to dissuade those too good to have an honest job from trying to take what isnt theirs.  Ditches need dug, lawns mowed, trees trimmed, buildings painted, cars serviced, windows washed, food cooked, cabs driven, dump trucks loaded, metal welded and bridges built.  Those are all honest jobs, and being okay with working them goes a long way towards not being a criminal.  I guess since everyone in America is a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, some people will keep looking down on those jobs.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Officer Down: Why No One Cares.

The vitriol, violence and nonsensical behavior of many in public, fueled and televised by the media (and on the internet, Dr. Ben Carson did a wonderful job of showing his firearm training and use of lethal force ignorance, for example) in regards to the Ferguson situation got me thinking.  Have no fear, this article isn't about Ferguson specifically because im sure we are all tired of hearing about it at this point, however, had things gone differently, would you have heard about it at all?

Think to yourself , when was the last time a police officers death made national news?  Have you heard the name Deputy Christoper Smith? What about Chief Michael Pimentel?  Sergeant Michael Joe Naylor, Deputy Danny Oliver, Constable Robert Parker White or Officer Shaun Richard Diamond?  All of these officers and many more this year, were killed in the line of duty in a fashion normally interesting to the news media; they were shot or beaten to death.  Yet no national news, only local news coverage and the major networks aren't interested in picking that up.  If Darren Wilson had lost control of his firearm and been murdered my Mike Brown, would there have been marches, protests, riots?  Would there have been a call for better police training, for new body armor, for smart guns or for more officers?  Would there have been a call for more community focused anti-crime programs?  No, there wouldn't have been.  Wilson's death would have been given the same media attention given to the opening of a new park, or a ribbon cutting for as new expressway.  The Media doesn't care about murdered officers, that is self-evident in their lack of attention to their deaths.  The public perhaps cares more, though as many are driven in their knowledge by what makes the front page of CNN or they catch on the radio on their way to work, you cant care if you dont even know it happened.  Its fairly evident from whats seen on social media that the relationship between law enforcement and the public is broken anyway.

People don't trust the police; not nearly as much as our idealistic memory tells us they did so many generations ago.  No-knock warrants, "militarized gear," DUI check points, traffic stops, police brutality, shooting unarmed but violently dangerous suspects, the list of reasons to not like the police is long.  The divide between cop and citizen gets wider and wider until we literally don't know each other and the mentality is one of us versus them.  If the cop is your frinemy, or someone who makes your skin crawl when they sneak by in a patrol car, if you believe Alex Jones or subscribe to the idea of the police state, why would you care if a cop is murdered?  If you enjoy breaking the law in the form of doing 10 over the speed limit, smoking some weed or stashing away an illegal short barreled rifle for use when the shit hits the fan why would you care if a police officer is beaten to death or shot while sitting in his patrol car doing paperwork?  The police represent, at the very least, a punishment for breaking the law and maybe you want to continue to break the law.  You aren't hurting anyone, after all.  What about all those who are?  Thats different right?  I totally agree, it is different, respecting the fact that it is different is important.

I'm going to be honest, I am biased.  I serve in law enforcement and have for many years.  However I still remember what it was like to hate the cops as a teenager, as a young adult ducking the MPs on post while in the Army, and again as a civilian after the army.  I remember that police officers had no interest in me if they were not there to see me.  Closed off from the world in patrol cars, silent in lines at a fast food restaurant, suspiciously watchful because of what I drove or maybe how I was dressed.  I remember getting the looks.  I also remember giving them years later.  I became, in a way, the officer that I didnt care about, the officer that would shake me up or ruin my night with a traffic stop. I never felt that way about a firefighter or an EMT because they only come to help.  The police, well they can come to help, or they can come to take you to jail.

We don't care when cops die because they aren't people to the mass of the public, they represent money lost to a ticket, an arrest or maybe even a physical altercation.  Their supposed inherent evil and break-the-rules mentality has been captured by film and TV; some of us were told as young children that if we didn't behave that police man would take us to jail.  The divide between citizen and police has been shoveled deep on both sides.  Some cops don't think themselves as civilians, some have a deep seated distrust of the public because the majority of their interactions with the public are with the worst of society (its sort of a job requirement).  We don't trust each other because we don't know each other.

Shockingly, not an accurate representation of the police.
Yesterday I saw a police officer helping a woman change her tire.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw that.  Its not his job to do so; but its not his job to not, either.  I did it a few times as a patrol officer, not as many times as I could have.  Serving the public is a phrase in law enforcement, maybe not as much of a practice as it should be.  We know the uniform, the car, but do we know the cop?  We don't care when a cop is murdered because we didn't know him.  There are officers with an invested interest in their community, I know there are, but do you?  Have you met an officer, got to know an officer who has no connection to you other than patrolling where you live or work?

Pictured:  Something you will never see again.
There is no social duty to respect the police, nor moral requirement to care when they are murdered in the line of duty.  No manner of law or pressure can make an individual feel anything.  We are not obligated to mourn, nor attend a funeral, donate to the surviving family or protest against the acquittal or light sentence of an officers murderer.  Thats exactly as it should be.  Respect is earned, not required and caring about someone requires a general and meaningful interaction. Knowing just how dangerous (or sometimes boring) a police officers job is requires a genuine interest.  The feelings of some against the police should be evident that they can organize and protest when they feel the police are wrong.  Some are simply interested in rioting or looting but just as many have an honest distrust and/or hatred of law enforcement because of real, imagined and media inflated situations where the police broke the public trust.

Well that never happens.
No one is in the streets protesting criminal behavior against cops, but they should be.  Its so easy to dehumanize someone; from rival sports fans to dirty faced kids in Africa, we recognize who we align with or who we are apart of.  When the police are seen as a faceless mass, a machine that's only function is to punish you for breaking a law (that are never written or passed by the police themselves), the police become inhuman and therefore not worthy of our compassion.  This isn't the citizens fault, it is the cops.

I do blame us in law enforcement because we are the only ones in the conversation who know what its like to be a citizen and a cop.  Despite some stories to the contrary, not even the most cop of cops is born a cop.  Most of us grew up with, at the least, a general distrust of the police.  We remember what its like up until we get a badge, say some words and go 10-8 and then its us against them.  We interact with the worst of society, we begin to form prejudices based on neighborhoods or streets, zip codes or clothing and we lose that feeling we used to have because we are the police now.  We are the ones with the power to change public perception one kid at a time and we fail each and every time we don't have the conversations.  If we want the public to care, we have to be willing to care first.

This isn't a blanket statement, because I know there are others out there who do put in the time to know a little more of their community than those the dispatcher sends them to meet (or see again for the 12th time this month).  If the only time we break and interact is on a call, we are wrong.  If we want the public to be rightly outraged when an officer is assaulted or murdered, they need to know who we are.  If we want the public to support our actions when they are justified, they need to understand what we do.  The Us Vs Them mentality is an epidemic that we can fix, provided we try.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Too Busy Working to Riot

I honestly dont have anything to say about the situation in Ferguson that isnt already being said by people far more eloquent than me, so I shall resort to sarcasm and give everyone in the working class world a way to show their solidarity with not being able to find the time to riot for days on end even if they wanted to.  Because nothing says America like stealing shit to show you are upset with a court decision, right?  No, wait...

So here we go....

You can get one here.  Too Busy Working To Riot.

Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Books That Made Me a Better Shooter: Mindset Edition.

If you dont read, I feel sorry for you.  I'm not talking about articles like this (only, anyway) or the latest gun porn magazine, I mean actual books (even in electronic form).  Books, after all are the place where a society chooses to store its greatest lessons and knowledge and knowledge really is priceless (though some knowledge ends up in the discount bin, even better for you).

The firearms and training industry occasionally produces a great work of sound advice, but sometimes they read more like instruction manuals on "if A happens, you must do B" which can turn a lot of readers off.  Now, self-defense is a wide ranging topic that doesn't begin at violence, thats where it ends.  Because of this fact, I tend to read outside of the topic on things that relate to it in ways that can make me a better teacher, shooter or help me more effectively shape a self defense mindset.

I know, I know here we go with the mindset thing again.  Well I have a secret about mindset, take all the academic color codes and states of awareness and throw them in the trash, because thats a borrowed mindset.  The information is useful in an academic sense, but it doesn't help establish a new method of behavior without you first accepting that a new behavior is needed.  These neat little graphs also do little to change your mindset because they are someone elses mindset, not yours.  You are getting the end result of someone elses train of thought instead of taking the journey yourself.  The best way to validate (or ignore) the academics of the color code or whathaveyou mentality is to dive into it yourself as a topic.  So, this post is only for the most interested of readers because there will be no memes, little satire and probably way more words than usual.  Buckle down or close the window.

"10" is an arbitrary number, I could have went with "20" or "100" but I wanted to highlight my 10 personal favorites in hopes that you pick up one and it takes you down the rabbit hole.  I have no suggested destination, no color code or awareness diagram, just a sincere hope that you learn something new. Oh, and these are not actually in order of most favoritist to least.

1: Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century Howard Bloom (2001).  Link.

Jesus Christ, this guy blew my mind when I read his first book, The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain kept it going.  Global Brain from a self-defense position teaches us some interesting occurrences in the old fight or flight model and pounds the second "O" in OODA, Orient.  I read Global Brain when it was still a new release and have read it 3 times since then.  I thought I knew Orient until I read this book.  Want to know what makes you, you?  This is a damn good place to start.

2: The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood James Gleick (2012)  Link.

I was trying to find out more about Claude Shannon and stumbled upon this book.  I read it, and I have to say that Claude Shannon's information theory  (all information exchange should remain as simple as possible at all times I wrote about it here and here.) is just the tip of the communication ice berg.  Is communication important to self-defense?  Yes; not just the verbals but the physical cues.  This book talks about "information glut" and how we can lose the most important bits of information by viewing them emotionally instead of on their merits alone.  Taking Shannon's theory to a whole new level, this work helps you better understand OODA, Hicks Law and helped me shape my teaching methods when it came to confronting potentially violent threats.  reading this book also gives you new mindset into the Internet Troll and lazy commenters in general.

3: Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain David Eagleman (2012)  Link.

So you want a better understanding of how the brain works, what limitations it puts in our way and how to decrease reaction time and fine tune your methods, this is a damn good place to start.  I really thought I had a firm grasp on reaction time and startle responses until I read this book.  How reliable is your short term memory, long term memory?  How do you harness the power of unconscious competence?  If they made this book into a movie it would star Johnny Depp and probably gross $10 billion dollars; forget what you think you know and go into it thinking this the brain named itself. 

4: Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are Joesph Ledoux (2003)  Link.

I really don't even know where to start with this one, Someone recommended I read The Gift of Fear so I did.  Dont get me wrong, its a great book but its not going to make this list.  If The Gift of Fear is a trickle of information, Synaptic Self is a world-changing-fundraiser-with-Bill-Clinton-Asking-You-For-Donations-Nuclear-Reactor-Destroying-Clint-Eastwood-Movie-Featuring-Matt-Damon-Making-Tsunami of biblical proportions.  Diving feet first into the emotional and deductive activities of the brain, Synaptic Self forces you to look to your own memories and see your responses to fear, anger and other stimulus in a new light.  Not only that, it will help you recognize and call bullshit on hokey/gimmick self-defense techniques as soon as you see them because you, if nothing else, will come away with a great understanding of how the brain processes threat stimulus and what we can and cant do to change its method.

5: Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement Jim Glennon (republished 2012)   Link.

This fucking guy.  Jim Glennon is a cops cop and no matter your feelings on cops, hes been interacting with, fighting and arresting violent felons longer than many of us have been alive.  I had the pleasure of listening to Jim speak at a Street Survival seminar and bought his book because he was hilarious.  So is the book, but its a candid, layman-esc look at conversations with criminals and the clues they give you to help predict their intentions, diffuse a situation or avoid them all together.

6:  Just Two Seconds Gavin De Becker (2008)  Link.

The Gift of Fear is De Beckers most well known book, and one that was very successful outside of the "shooting community" though Just Two Seconds is directed at the armed (and sometimes unarmed) protector and takes a look at over a thousand violent encounters to glean the anecdotal commonalities in violent encounters and potential violent encounters.  This book doesnt have a specific mission, rather its a clearing house of data that presents a very unique picture of the problems we face as shooters when "planning" for an attack.  Theres what you can and what you cant control and this book does a great job of showing the differences.  A warning, this book is George R. R. Martin long and its unlikely that HBO will make it into a show staring Peter Dinklage so you will have to read its 650 pages or not get the information at all.

7: Once an Eagle Anton Myrer (1968) Link. 

This is a work of fiction, but so what?  Once an Eagle follows the Army career of a fictional Sam Damon and it is an epic story of leadership, dedication, humility and resolve that spans over 800 pages.  Despite this length, ive read it twice and each time I find unique lessons in personal discipline in the character interactions.  The bad guy (or antagonist, if you want to be literally literal)  is a scum bag officer that Sam cant seem to get away from and one who tries to manipulate, subvert or destroy each chance he gets.  I cant really do the book justice in a paragraph or ten but I can say that if you want to read one work of fiction that will get your synapses firing and make you genuinely angry at situations that never happened and people who never existed, this is it.  this book was (maybe still is) required reading at the Army Staff College and for a reason.  Speaking more to the esoteric nature of mindset than directly to its plan, Once an Eagle is well worth the time to read it.  Easily in my top three favorite books eva'.

8:  Shooting to Live W.E. Fairbairn, E.A. Sykes (republished 2008)  Link.

Before Forward Isosceles was a thing, Modified Weaver ruined self defense shooting for a few decades and Kinesthetics was a science applied to self-defense, there was Fairbairn and Sykes. Shooting to Live is a book on handgun combatives written on first and second hand experiences from the 1930s during Fairbairn/Sykes time with the Shanghai Municipal Police, now before you discount it based on where the experience was gained, Shanghai in the 1920s-1930s was more wild west than our exaggerated history of the actual wild west.  Fairbairn is (rightly) critical of taking too much from the lessons of competitive shooting and trying to fit them into self defense shooting and he lays the foundation for which the modern fight pistol training is built on.  In today's world, the instructors with actual gunfight experience come from the military (not quite the same thing as citizen focused self-defense training) or law enforcement (a bit closer).  Fairbairn/Sykes gained combat-like experience in the urban environment armed with (arguably) less than the average CCW carries in the way of gear.  This one is a must read, some of the lessons are period dated based on the technology at the time but many of its lessons are timeless and show just how forward thinking Fairbairn and Skyes were.

9:  The Gun C. J. Chivers (2011)  Link. 

Unlike Presidents, books still win internationally recognized and prestigious awards based on their content.  The Gun is about the history of the AK-47, but so much more at the same time.  From the reason why the Army went .45 (hint, it had nothing to do with the Moro rebellion and everything to do with John Gatling, a basement and some hanging pigs) to the how and the why of the M16 debacle.  This is a book about gear, and the only one i'll put on this list.  I put it here because it gives a great account of gear focused behavior and how the mindsets behind the weapons drove their successes and failures, adoption or ignorance.

10:  Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Jared Diamond  (1999)  Link.

Oh look, another Pulitzer winner.  Jared Diamond is probably my favorite anthropologically focused writer and with good reason, Guns, Germs and Steel gives a great account of how society created the warrior class, fostered the warrior mindset and how society works to destroy that which it creates.  A historical tale of winning the geographical lottery and how being in the right place helped historical empires come to power.  More of a broad focus on societal mindset than individual, this book will answer questions you didnt know you had about the myth and fact of power.  More academic than directly useful information, its still an excellent read for those interested in the history of the fighting mind.

I only gave myself room for 10 books, so a lot of books didnt (and wouldnt) make the cut but any one of them can take you down a road that will help you fine tune your approach to mindset.  Books specifically about self-defense are fine, though they lack the depth of knowledge that history and the sciences can give us.  As the mind is the true weapon, it needs just as much focused training as the tools it uses to fight.

As always, if you like it, share it, comment, give it a +1 below and train accordingly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Co-Witness: How to Most Effectively Negate Your Optic

Red dot/holographic sights are pretty much a requirement on the modern fighting rifle, You really aren't going to get any respect from the internet by posting photos of your high end AR with a simple set of folding irons, or worse, committing the sin of having fixed sights and a parade sling.  Just as important is setting up the best possible photo setting to really capture the essence of how awesome your gear is.

But in all seriousness, the red dot has a place on the modern rifle and that place is mounted without the interference of iron sights.  The first known use of a red dot sight in combat was the Son Tay Raid in 1970.  The Optic was a Single Point Occluded Eye Gunsight and for 1970 they were the cutting edge in communist shooting optics.  Its also interesting to note that the OEGs were used for props in Star Wars, which makes them hard to come by now days.
who wore it better?
It was not until 1997 that the US Army adopted a red-dot for widespread use (the Aimpoint Comp M2 or M68 CCO) and co-witnessing was something that was not optional because of the rifle at the time (mainly the M16 A2 ) did not have removable/foldable sights.  Another reason (one that is more of a point of contention) is that the red dots were not considered reliable enough and co-witnessing was done so that the irons could be used the second the red dot failed.  We have come so very far from the early days and optic reliability is to a point where they are just as durable and reliable as iron sights.  This is more of a personal belief for me, though I can say that in my career I have broken two front sight posts and zero Aim Points, so there's that.

get to the point.
So what is co-witnessing?  Well its basically having fixed rear/forward traditional sights with the red dot optic in the middle.  Why is it bad?  The advantage to a red dot optic is simple; it reduces the number of focal planes needed to shoot accurately.  With a red dot I superimpose the dot over my desired point of impact, use my mechanical fundamentals and boom, four more and I get a drone strike (well, it was a drone strike in my day, I don't know what the kids are getting these days).

When using iron sights I must focus on the rear, align it to the front, confirm my POA on the threat, then go back to focusing on the front sight, thats three focal planes.  When it comes to shooting, 2 is better than 3.

So if I am co-witnessing, what am I really doing?  Using 4 focal planes.  I have a rear, a red dot floating in the middle, a front sight post and then my target/'threat.  While I can ignore the rear sight reasonably well, that front sight is still in my field of vision and the entire package makes the eye work way harder than it should.

Yes, Xibit, you are on now.
Back up iron sights are just that and should be folded down when not needed.  This isnt an epidemic, as the newer generation of shooters who may have never used a fixed sight rifle are coming up with the red dot being the primary experience (which means their iron sight skills may be less than adequate but that's a conversation for a different time).

Now, we have become confident in the red dot sight for rifles just in time to not trust them on handguns.  The red dot is becoming more popular for range toys and as a realistic carry option for your EDC, however the co-witness problem is ever present as the common configuration places the red dot right back between two fixed sights.  

AYFKM? I thought we were past this.
When a slide is milled to accept a reflex sight (red dot) the pistol generally needs suppressor height sights to make use of the iron sights possible. that rear sight is not only much more pronounced and in your field of vision, it is also something we are hard wired through years (or decades) of pistol shooting to pick up on unconsciously.  
The common configuration, beard not included.
By placing the rear sight forward of the optic you will still have use of the iron sights if they are needed but you are able to pick up the dot in the optic first, as the optic is the first object your eye will track to as the pistol comes into your field of vision.
Like so.  its hipster because you probably havent heard of it.
This rear-sight-forward configuration is given sideways glances by some because they feel as if they are sacrificing a great deal of sight radius and therefore accuracy when using the irons.  It is true that you are giving up alot of sight radius, a Glock 17 in this configuration has less of a sight radius than the compact Glock 26, though does it affect accuracy that much?  In my experience, no, it doesn't. Practical accuracy remains unchanged and the average shooter can still get respectable accuracy at distance, though realistically do you really think you are going to need your irons for 100 yard self defense shooting?  Highly unlikely.   The Reflex style red dots popular for handguns are durable, none more (in my opinion) than the Trjicon RMR.  I have been using the RMR on pistols and rifles for a while and have yet to break one despite running my guns pretty damn hard.

like so.
So until someone invents a set of folding pistol sights, I will continue to run my rear sight forward of the optic to prevent the focal plane confusion and avoid co-witnessing all together.  Just something to think about.

As always, if you like it, give it a +1 below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Entitled to Your Opinion: You Need to Argue Better.

This is the internet.  No one reading this should be surprised by that fact because there is probably no way in hell you found your way here without having a basic understanding of what you were getting yourself into.  If you happened to not understand what you were doing and found yourself here anyway I am impressed with your navigation skills while also being a little concerned about your situational and cultural/technological awareness....or you might be using Internet Explorer.

Anyway, my point is that the internet is the safest way to say offensive things and not be punched in the mouth; it s a place where one can launch into a diatribe about contrails or Sandy Hook hoaxes and have no fear whatsoever of the social backlash because when linking to all the articles doesn't sway the crowd over at the Moms Demand Action facebook page, you can close the browser, adjust your Guy Fawkes mask for maximum visibility and boot up WOW.

For most of what we use the internet for (cat videos/youtube, shopping, facebook) there is no real need to take things too seriously, though much of our personality is in what we share and how we interact when there is a topic of debate.  If you have never been involved in a debate on the internet then this is either your first day or you are so passive/aggressive that you write your comments/rebuttals to a topic or post down on a piece of paper next to the computer so hard that you know they will feel it.

But seriously, there is absolutely no way that I am aware of to avoid a disagreement on the internet.  Right now there is probably a flame war taking place over the lead content in Swarovski candelabras between a 30y/o homemaker in Omaha and a 22 y/o cafe hipster in San Diego and that argument is probably on an Off Roading forum because of course it is.

dont bother saving it, it will only make sense here.
I enjoy the internet debate as much as the next guy, and we in the firearms community can (will) get pretty heated about anything that is even remotely connected to the Second Amendment.  Since 2A rights are more-or-less constantly under attack from one group, politician, party or person, we stay in a perpetual state of defense when the conversation comes up while also having to police our own when they go off-reservation.  This is the nature of things and its not likely to ever change because those who would rather disarm the populace and rely on the government to protect them are not going away and if anything are doing their best to co-op the next generation into their way of thinking.  The threat of this is very real and something we should be concerned about; yet some of us are content to marginalize our contribution to the conversation by shooting ourselves in the foot at the earliest possible opportunity.

When preparing to discuss a topic of disagreement, do you have a plan?  Do you have a method of debate?  Is CAPS Lock your immediate go-to?  If you intend to get involved in a debate, there are really two main reasons for doing so; to be heard or to sway the other persons opinion to agreement with you because you know you are right.  The problem with the former is its one dangerous step away from being a troll, the problem with the latter is that the other side believes themselves to be right as well and reaching a point of agreement or changing their mind is a very steep slope on the internet where there is almost no commitment needed to act like an asshole.  Despite how much you may dislike this-or-that person, law, topic or noun, you wont be winning hearts and minds by using dismissive language or terms.  Referring to the President as Obummer, Obunghole, or The liar in Chief isnt going to sway the opinion of someone who supports his policies at face value or is neutral to the point of debate.  Using Libtard or Democrap also does very little to strengthen your position in an intelligent conversation.  While we may not want to respect the person, party or position, they do deserve a degree of respect at least in name or position to keep the argument from pinwheeling in flames like a plane full of nuns into an orphanage just because you think you will be the first person to sneak One Big Ass Mistake America (Obama, clever) into a debate about the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare).  Using someones actual name or official title in your disagreement allows you to attack their message, policy or opinion as opposed to just attacking them.  Avoiding pejorative nonsense does wonders for your debating success and if the other side of the debate results to name calling, you aren't the one who looks like an asshole. 

Likewise, there is a fine line between political cartoons and racist/tinfoil hat bullshit.  By "fine line" I mean "completely obvious and worlds apart."

                A: Political Cartoon.                                  B: Racist Bullshit
As you can see, the differences are subtle but if one looks close enough they can see the difference.  What is gained by going route B?  Nothing at all if your mission is to sway opinion, but if you are just interesting in trolling, pissing people off and being the loudest, most obnoxious person in the room, route B or a variation of it is probably the plan.

Well, guess what?  No matter the topic, nonsensical crap exists to support/attack it and I would be willing to bet that a great deal of internet bandwidth is used up sharing macros and memes that are disingenuous, racist, out of context facts, lies or bad photoshops (or all of them).  In the world of instant access to fact checking information, no one bothers it seems because whats facts when we can spin up our respective base by lying?

We know this is bullshit
Guess what?  So is this.  

Despite how much many want the "2.5 Million" to be true, there is simply no way that it is.  Guns prevent crime, sometimes in ways we cannot observe.  If a bank has an armed guard, how many crimes does his presence prevent?  No way to know.  If a police officer is diligent about parking lot pass-throughs in a mall, how many muggings does he prevent?  No way to know.  Yes, this number if oft quoted, not updated and based on bad research.  Dont believe me?  Check it out here, here or here.

We know the macros regarding the Ft. Hood shooting is a lie, and we may just assume the 2.5 Million is true because of conformation bias.  If it aligns with what we believe, we are more apt to agree with it without bothering to put in the work to confirm it.  As a pro-gun person we see the Ft. Hood macros as crap, yet may do nothing to confirm the validity of the 2.5 million statistic.  On the alternate side a liberal that is anti-gun (if one is reading this, hello) may swallow the Ft. Hood crap as truth but doubt the 2.5 million statistic as NRA propaganda.  In this case, the liberal would be half right.

We sometimes get so emotionally involved, lazy or angry that we fail to fact check, or devolve into arguing with photos instead of well thought out points and facts.  The internet is full of BS and sharing it without fact checking doesnt help anyone, it just fuels more BS and muddies what should be a very common sense debate.  If you want to troll, I cant offer you any advice beyond maybe join 4/Chan.  If you want to change minds as a responsible member of the 2A community, my advice is to check your facts, trust but verify and above all else, be objective.  Our opinions are important to us; if you want your opinion to be important (and respected) by someone else, you may want to take a high road approach to the debate and treat it more like a conversation with your grandmother than with a crazy hobo.  Also, googling the truth behind something before sharing it on facebook or IG is very helpful.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Active Shooter Alarm System: More Fire Alarm than Fix.

A district in Massachusetts this week unveiled the country’s first installation of a shooter-detection system inside a U.S. school that can recognize and track a gunman roaming through the building.
 A Massachusetts based company has developed a shooter detection system for schools.  Shooter Detection Systems has installed the system in one Massachusetts school with apparent plans for more systems to be fielded.  The system works similarly to existing military technology; detecting and pinpointing the location of gunfire and relaying that information to, according to an MSNBC article app sends text messages with the school name and exact location of the incident to the superintendent, principal, police chief, and school resource officer. Once alerted, the officials also can track the gunman’s movements.

While this sounds like a super cool use for technology, I cant help but notice the fire-alarm mentality behind it.  Sure, a system that tracks every time a gunshot is fired can be helpful in directing authorities to the location of the shooter so he is given a chance to either self-terminate, surrender or be incapacitated (hopefully in the face) but how useful is such technology on a broad scale against already existing systems such as eyes and ears attached to armed teachers and school LEOS?  Eyes and ears are available at no extra charge with a properly trained and willing armed school employee or a little extra room in the budget to hire a school LE officer and/or private security.  At the cost of this system (the pilot system was free of charge because of course it was) and the cost to maintain it and work out the bugs, the annal salary of an officer (probably more than one) could have been paid and the cost to train and arm teachers would be even less but obviously for some of the country the idea of arming teachers is akin to the idea of doing a gravel slip-n-slide then juggling lemons.

Dont get me wrong, I think this system is a good idea and Im not going to pretend that more shootings are not going to happen because they are.  They are going to continue to happen because we arent trying to fix the problem,  we are fighting against those trying to go after the tools that are most preferable to killers.  I see this as being pissed at a pie for baking after ignoring the fact that we put all the ingredients together and then put it in the oven.  The longer we ignore the mental health issue, the more we will seek reactive solutions that may minimize deaths but are doing little to actually prevent them.

There is a large social issue here that cant be contained or explained in a neat blog posting or even a text book.  Understanding the mind of a troubled person is not my area of operation, I work on positive solutions to mental health failures that are action in nature, but that doesnt mean I dont think theres a conversation that needs to be had in the 2A community regarding this issue.

Our society is going down the road of explaining our position with macros and memes, Facebook posts and Tweets.  I appreciate succinctness when it has a place but all the likes in the world wont stop school shootings any more than they will feed Africa.

This type of conversation plays on ignorance more than it does good will and directs the conversation into feeling accomplished just by sharing something.  Political correctness is disarming us; not directly, as our recent elections have shown us that the draconian gun control we feared following the New Town shooting is largely dead in all but the most fanatical liberal mind.  Rather, the PC mindset is going to treat mental health as an issue we are not supposed to address for fear of insulting or alienating someone and then treat the result as a fire to be prepared for by putting in an alarm. 

Well, just like most fires are caused by mans inattention, so are active shooters.  The signs are often there and in the aftermath there are almost always people stepping forward saying that threats were made or strange behavior witnessed yet that hindsight lesson is ignored.  If we ignored the dangers of gasoline soaked rags left unattended next to a dryer vent I think Natural Selection would have seen fit to remove our DNA from the world; ignoring the troubled kid with obvious signs of violent tendencies or unchecked rage is no different.  In LE we call this a clue and more investigation is probably wise and by "probably" I mean "definitely."

So while this shooter alarm may prove very useful, I see it as taking pride in the fact that the fire department is coming after ignoring the faulty wiring in the arts and crafts closet that went all dark ages on the collection of paper mache Shakespeare busts.

One more tool for a problem society is happy to whistle nervously and look at their feet to avoid. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Home Defense, Crystal Balls and Time Travelers

So there I was, perusing the morning news feeds as I usually do (you may picture me doing so in a stately smoking jacket if you wish) and I came across an article espousing the new Sig Sauer MPX over the shotgun for home defense.

Yes, the author made some reasonable points to why the shotgun isnt for everyone and how something smaller, with a larger ammunition capacity would serve a better purpose.  I do not disagree.  The author, in case you didnt click on the link, is Robert Farago of The Truth About Guns...I have agreed (at least in part) with Robert Farago....didnt see that coming.

....Anyway, the article isnt what bothered me.  Despite some contextual issues with his reasoning behind choosing what is basically a handgun with a stock over a shotgun, it was the comments on the article that got my attention.  More pointedly, comments that leads the reader (me, in this case) to believe the writer has a plan and that plan is based on what they think is going to go down when someone kicks in their door.  As some of them are written, these men/women are obviously one of two things:

1) From the future

2) Clairvoyant

Below, for your reading pleasure are some of the more interesting comments.  

 The big takeaway I got from the article posted a few weeks ago by the combat medic was: A 12 gauge is the only firearm that will reliably incapacitate an attacker with just one shot.
The sound of me racking my Chinese pardner pump will scare the hell outa most lowlifes. $200…except I keep it ready to go with safety on :-)
He IS clairvoyant
The average, run of the mill home invasion will be committed by people with hand guns, just by having a long gun you will make them the limited ones.
 And nothing beats the sound of a shotgun being pumped for intimidation, especially if you follow this up with gleeful, psychotic laughter. Ham it up, go full Disney villain with it. The psychological effects of laughing at your assailants while preparing a ballistic eviscerator is unbeatable. Inspires confidence on your part, and nobody who grew up watching daytime television sticks around in a dark house with what can only be a heavily armed crazy person (this is supposed to be you).
Plus having a BG hear the cycling of a pump action as he’s in your house is unmistakable. So the butt pucker factor is well,,,,,,,Priceless.

Now, in all fairness, not all of the comments are like this, some are well educated, thought out, show obvious training/experience, or provide a common sense argument to common nonsensical arguments.  Also, some are just hilarious, like this one.
The shotgun is a fantastic HD weapon. But it has the most complicated manual of arms of any type of firearm. It requires much training to become and remain competent in its use. Have you practiced reloading it? In the dark? Covered in baby oil? On a boat with a goat? Have you, Sam I Am?
What I see most of all is people having a plan and their plan is based on what they assume will happen.  Some may envision themselves being instantly aware of a home invasion as soon as the dirt bag enters the home (see option 1, or option 2 as to how this would be), others have an idea about stalking through their home (perhaps in cammo, baby oil and vest like Dutch from commando) to confront and engage the intruder (who WILL be armed with a handgun, I hear).

And of course we have others who like the idea that simply racking the shotgun will scare off even the most brazen of stereotypical home invaders like some sort of reverse pied piper device.  the truth, of course is somewhere in the middle.  All of these fantasies/plans are possible, but how likely?  A plan is a thing to have no doubt, but that plan needs to be based on what a bad guy is capable of doing, not what you think they will do.
The fact is, many people dont interact with criminals, especially violent ones and because of this dont understand the mindset and motivations of such a person.  A criminal, a violent felon, is not some cardboard cutout Hollywood villain that is programmed with conditioned responses based on what someone wrote in a script. Many felons are not strangers to having guns pointed at them, even felons-in-training have likely been witness to more gun violence than the average person (veterans of course exempted).  What someone is capable of is almost impossible to know and all practice and training should be done with that in mind.

Pictured:  a high probability of zero fucks given when threatened with a gun
Firearm choice is an important decision.  Ive weighed in on the shotgun for home defense before and dont see any reason to beat that horse here.  Whats more important is planning of realities and those things you can control.  In a home defense situation there are far more things you cant control than things you can.  For example, heres just a short list of things out of your control:

Time of break in
Entry point of intruder
Your location when break in occurs
Your state (awake/asleep)
Number of intruders
location of family members at time of break in
Weapons intruders are armed with
Initial response of intruders to you

Your plan needs to account for these probabilities, otherwise its a horrible plan that will put you dangerously behind the power curve when what you thought was going to happen, doesnt.

Train accordingly.