These were ordinary citizens, mostly white-collar and professionals, and only about seven percent “blue-collar” workers. The majority of our students are in sales, management, IT work, the medical field or other professional activity.
The majority of these incidents involved an armed robbery, which I believe is probably the most likely scenario for armed self-defense by private citizen. We’re talking about business stickups, parking lot robberies at gunpoint, carjackings and home invasions — all crimes likely to get you killed. The reason the bad guy uses a weapon is to create standoff and to terrorize the victim into compliance, before closing in to take the wallet, purse, car keys, etc.
The thug will, however, need to be close enough to his victim to communicate his desires and to easily close the distance and take the goods when the time comes. Thus the typical armed robbery occurs at anywhere from two or three steps, to roughly the length of a car — between the robber and his victim. That is, then, about three to seven yards typically, or say nine to 21? or so. This is the distance at which most of my students have had to use their guns.
I believe we should do the bulk of our training and practice at these “most likely” distances.
Only two of my students’ shootings occurred at contact distance. In one of those cases the physical contact was purely accidental. In the other case physical contact was intentional, but the victim missed a large number of cues before he was struck with a club.
At the other end of the spectrum we have had three students who have had to engage at 15, 17 and 22 yards. The other 92 percent of our student-involved incidents took place at a distance of 3 to 7 yards, with the majority occurring between 3 and 5 yards. The rule of thumb then is most civilian shootings occur within the length of a car.
Only about 10 percent of our student-involved incidents occurred in or around the home, while 90 percent occurred in places like convenience stores, parking lots and shopping malls. The majority of the incidents began as armed robberies or carjackings, with a few violent break-ins involved.
The success/failure tally among the incidents involving my students is 62 wins, zero losses and two forfeits. Every one of our students who were armed won their confrontation. Only three of those were injured, and those three recovered. To the best of my knowledge, two people have gone through training with us and subsequently were murdered in separate street robberies — but neither was armed. This is why we put a great deal of emphasis in our training on the necessity of routinely carrying your gun.
Based on this data, we believe the following are key skills the private citizen should concentrate on in their training:
- Quick, safe, efficient presentation of the handgun from concealed carry.
- Delivery of several well-placed shots at distances from 3 to 7 yards.
- Keeping the gun running, including reloading and fixing malfunctions.
- Two-handed firing. We train our students to use two hands if at all possible and most have done so in their fights.
- Bring the gun to eye level. This is the fastest way to achieve accurate gun alignment. All but two of our students brought the gun to eye level, and as a result got good hits. Two had to shoot from below eye level due to unusual circumstances.
- Some effort expended on the contact distance problem, including empty hand skills and weapon retention skills. However, these are secondary skills for the private citizen.
- Some effort dedicated to longer shots in the 15- to 25-yard range.
One of the things we stress in our training is the likelihood of your needing a gun in self-defense is not a one in one million chance.
A whopping 83 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact, Lenore Skenazy points out, that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that:
A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.
What’s more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).
As hard as it is to believe, some people don’t lock their doors — even in New York City:
A 2008 survey by State Farm Insurance of 1,000 homes across the country reported that fewer than half of those surveyed always locked their front doors. And while people who habitually lock their doors are incredulous that others do not, those who don’t lock are surprised that anyone would be shocked by it.
According to the F.B.I.’s most recent annual Uniform Crime Report, of the estimated 2,222,196 burglaries committed nationwide in 2008, 32.2 percent were unlawful entries without force. And a spokesman for the New York City Police Department reported that of the 19,263 burglaries that took place in New York City in 2009, 5,041 did not involve forced entry.
These figures include commercial as well as residential properties, and burglaries without forced entry cannot be flatly equated with those that involve unlocked doors, because they may involve open windows; unauthorized use of a key; or theft by workers, family members or business associates. But unlocked doors are certainly a factor.
Inspector James Murtagh is the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which includes Park Avenue doorman buildings, brownstones and apartment houses. In his precinct, he estimates that 25 percent of burglaries are a result of an open door or window.
While out-of-towners may cling to the notion of New York as a city of triple locks and metal bars bracing the door — an image common in movies from the 1960s and 1970s — that idea is dramatically out of date. According to the Police Department, there were 210,703 burglaries in the city in 1980, more than 10 times as many as there were last year.
And in some ways, Inspector Murtagh says, the city may be a victim of its own success — people may have become too comfortable.
Let us suppose, Fred Reed suggests, that you, the reader, are an average white cop in, say, Washington, DC:
Just as the public doesn’t like you, you will not much like the public. Cops do not see humanity at its best. The young woman hiking her skirt up at traffic stops. Couples screaming obscenities at each other on domestic-violence calls. “Why don’t you catch real criminals?” The lies. The excuses. The lame attempts at manipulation. The threats (“I know the mayor.”)
As a real cop on real streets, you learn never to smile, to maintain an implied aggressiveness. When riding with a reporter, you will joke and tell stories. With the public, you will learn to be wooden-faced and authoritarian. You can’t lose your dominance or you are useless.
A few months on the streets will take the bloom off your dewy rose of morn.
[Gruesome stories elided.]
As a reporter, I saw all of these things. Not similar things, but exactly these. They are not imaginary. They will change your attitude toward humanity. It won’t make you better company.
And nobody but another cop, or someone in the street trades — police, fire, ambulance–will understand. Your wife won’t, and this won’t improve the marriage. Divorce rates are high among cops.
With time, your views on police brutality will become ambivalent, or not ambivalent. You will see the pretty blonde rape victim, fifteen, about due for her first prom, screaming and screaming and screaming, sobbing and choking, while the med tech tries to get a sedative into her arm. And you will hear the cop next to you, hand clenching hard on his night stick, say in cold fury, “I hope the sonofabitch resists arrest.” Yeah, you may find yourself thinking, yeah. Social theories are nice. The streets are not theoretical.
And you will find that the perps are almost always black. If you are a good liberal, you won’t like this, but after three months on the street you will not have the faintest doubt. If you are a suburban conservative out of Reader’s Digest, you will be surprised at the starkness of the racial delineation.
All cops know this. They know better than to say it. This can be tricky for black cops, especially if former military who believe in law and order.
You will find that there are white cops who knock blacks around, who humiliate them. You will think it wrong, and so will many of your fellows, but you will decide not to turn them in. You have twenty more years on the streets with them. You will discover that black cops exist who also mistreat blacks, and this will confuse you.
You will find yourself contributing to bad race relations by enforcing laws you think stupid, pointless and unwise — hassling blacks for drinking a beer on the sidewalk with friends, rolling dice for quarters on the hood of a car, or smoking a joint. Never mind that a black city government made the laws.
Depending on your background when you, the reader, suddenly became a cop, you may or may not have some grasp of how guns work in the city. To begin with (if you think about it at all) you will realize that cops are not very competent with guns. In an entire career most will never fire their weapons on duty. To be good with a pistol requires hours and hours on the range and thousands of rounds. These cost money. Departments have higher priorities. Competent tactical shooting requires much more training. You won’t get it.
As a fresh cop, you will notice that the standard editorial notion, that cops are heavily armed brutes amid a helpless unarmed populations, isn’t quite accurate. When you are on the sidewalks of a bad neighborhood, where you know you are disliked by all and hated by many, you will become aware of your vulnerability. You have to pass close to people. Any of them could blow your head off from behind, stick an ice pick in your back, or brain you with a piece of rebar.
The second thing to know about the police and guns (though it sounds unrelated) is something you will hear often from your new colleagues: “I’m going home tonight.” This does not mean, “I’m going home instead of to the bar with buddies.” It means, “If some dirtball threatens my life, or credibly seems to be doing so, I will blow his sorry ass away before I’ll let my wife have to explain to the kids why Daddy is never coming home again.”
Ah, but how do you know when your life is in danger? Therein lies the rub. In a good department, you will get shoot-no-shoot training. It will surprise you. You stand in front of a very large screen, your weapon holstered. On the screen (for example) appears in video exactly what you would see responding to an armed-robbery call at a small store. A woman, the proprietor’s wife, frantically accosts you. “He robbed us! He has a gun! He went into the alley.” Gun in hand, you run down the alley, scared and breathing hard. A man with a gun turns the corner, gun in shooting position. You fire. You just killed the proprietor who also was chasing the perp with his own gun.
Back on the real street. A 250-pound guy crazy on PCP charges you with the clear intention of doing you harm. How much harm? He could kill you. It isn’t part of your job description to find out. You don’t have time in three seconds to try pepper-spray (which doesn’t work well on PCP heads anyway) or send for a Taser, or shout, “Halt in the name of the law, oh evil emissary of the forces of chaos!”
Bang. Maybe he was just going to give you a hug and a kiss.
It’s an old piece, not written in response to recent events.
Chris Hernandez offers a dose of reality for Ferguson, starting with a hard look at the cry, “But he was unarmed!”:
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard the term “unarmed teenager”. Yes, Brown was an unarmed 18 year old. He was also 6’4″ and 292 pounds. Anyone who thinks an unarmed, 6’4″, 292 pound man can’t be a threat has never been punched in the face. Unarmed people can be extremely dangerous.
In 2012 an unarmed 17 year old beat an El Paso police officer to death. The officer was 29 years old, a former Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
An off-duty police officer in New York City was beaten almost to death by an unarmed man last November.
In July, an unarmed 21 year old “felt like killing someone” and beat a 56 year old random victim to death at a train station in San Antonio.
In 2012, an unarmed 24 year old man beat a man to death for raping his daughter.
Those chanting “but he was unarmed” are pathetically ignorant of the reality of violence. Unarmed people hurt or kill others on a regular basis. No, that doesn’t mean every unarmed person needs to be shot; it does, however, mean an aggressive, unarmed person can be a threat to your life. The bigger and stronger that person is, the bigger the threat.
Read the whole thing for the point of view of a cop who doesn’t claim to know what happened.
Criminologist Darrell Ross has studied “out of control” police:
First of all, it’s important to understand that between 1978 and 2003, the U.S. population age 13 and older grew by about 47,000,000 people. The police population in that period increased by about 235,000 officers. Yet despite a civilian population growth that is about 200 times that of law enforcement growth, police shootings have not increased. Indeed only a tiny percentage of police-citizen contacts — holding steady at about 1% — involve police using force of any kind. Even in arrests, use of force occurs only in about 3%.
From 1968 to 1975, an average of 483 persons per year were shot dead by police rounds. That average has dropped significantly since then. Overall, the annual average of lethal shootings is down 33% since 1968. Shootings by police that inflict injury but not death have decreased by 20-22%, Ross says. He credits a drop in violent crime, more restrictive court rulings (notably Tennessee v. Garner), better training and decision-making by officers and the availability of more less-lethal force options, including OC, Taser and beanbag ammunition.
Police shootings are related to UCR violent crime trends. Both tend to be highest in crime- and violence-ridden “hot spots” within a city. These areas are “catalysts” for officers being called and using force to deal with the situations they encounter there, Ross says. Like it or not, the areas with the highest concentration of violent crimes predominately are black. “Shootings are related to community safety and crime in the community,” Ross explains. In fairness, “you can’t ignore that and look at police shootings in a vacuum. If you don’t consider factors like this you aren’t looking at the true nature of the statistics.”
Given their representation in the general population (about 15%), blacks are disproportionately shot by police. But that figure is changing. In 1978, 49% of suspects shot by officers were black. By 2003 that had fallen to 34%. It’s relevant to note that there also is a racial disparity where the commission of violent crime is concerned. For example, “African-American males are eight times more likely to commit homicide than whites,” Ross points out. This involvement in violence and other behavioral choices make them more likely use-of-force targets. “The lifestyle of people who get shot is generally different from those who don’t. You can’t overlook that. Disparity in shootings does not equate with ‘discrimination’ in shootings.”
The race of the players in use-of-force scenarios is changing. The incidence of white officers killing black suspects has dropped since 1978, while the incidence of white officers killing white suspects is increasing. Most often black suspects are killed by black officers. All of this “dispels the myth of cops picking only on a certain race” when force is used, Ross says. “Research over the last 30 years repeatedly shows that lethal force used by police is NOT racially motivated.”
As to the charge that misguided police tactics provoke force encounters, Ross found no evidence of a pattern in which “the officer ‘created’ the danger and/or situation in which lethal force was required, nor did the officer take a ‘poor position’ that placed the officer in a situation necessitating the use of lethal force.”
Where both lethal force and nonlethal force are concerned, Ross’ research confirms that the measure of force officers decide to employ is “highly associated” with the degree of suspect resistance. In other words, force is not just arbitrarily and unjustly delivered. Indeed, he found that officers “routinely use lower forms of force than what could have been justified” (deploying OC, for example, when a baton or a neck restraint could have been employed). A significant indication of the move toward lower levels of force is a decline in the use of impact weapons and a corresponding rise in the use of pepper spray, Ross says.
As to the claim of widespread “brutality,” Ross cites the federal DOJ’s Use of Force Survey (1996 and 2000), the largest study of its kind ever made. Of all the hundreds of thousands of police-citizen contacts in which force of some kind was used, fewer than 1% of uses were considered excessive. In 68% of arrests, the subject did not sustain any injury, and in another 25% only a cut or bruise occurred. In fact, officers in force encounters are more likely than suspects to suffer an injury that requires hospital treatment!
How much does poverty drive crime? Not so much. Actually, not at all:
In Sweden the age of criminal responsibility is 15, so Mr Sariaslan tracked his subjects from the dates of their 15th birthdays onwards, for an average of three-and-a-half years. He found, to no one’s surprise, that teenagers who had grown up in families whose earnings were among the bottom fifth were seven times more likely to be convicted of violent crimes, and twice as likely to be convicted of drug offences, as those whose family incomes were in the top fifth.
What did surprise him was that when he looked at families which had started poor and got richer, the younger children — those born into relative affluence — were just as likely to misbehave when they were teenagers as their elder siblings had been. Family income was not, per se, the determining factor.
That suggests two, not mutually exclusive, possibilities. One is that a family’s culture, once established, is “sticky”—that you can, to put it crudely, take the kid out of the neighbourhood, but not the neighbourhood out of the kid. Given, for example, children’s propensity to emulate elder siblings whom they admire, that sounds perfectly plausible. The other possibility is that genes which predispose to criminal behaviour (several studies suggest such genes exist) are more common at the bottom of society than at the top, perhaps because the lack of impulse-control they engender also tends to reduce someone’s earning capacity.
Weapons Man looks at the Fort Hood shooting of April, 2014:
An insane nut job, pumped full of God knows what drugs by the military medical community (some stories suggest that he was on at least three psychoactive medications, although early media reports on these shootings are usually crap) and unhappy with his unit’s application of the Army’s rigid personnel-management policies, began shooting people. Then he drove around shooting more people. This decison of his was fortuitous; most people can’t hit much from a moving car, and this jerk was no exception.
The Fort Hood victims were even more disarmed by a redoubled effort at victim disarmament by the post command and Provost Marshal’s office in response to the 2009 shooting. There appears to have been the same laggard, or at least too-late-to-save-lives, police response this time.
When the assailant was confronted by an armed MP, he killed himself.
While the press has suggested that he was suffering from combat trauma (they love that Ticking Time Bomb Vet Narrative™), this assclown never heard a shot fired during a brief Iraq tour. We’ve known a few guys who were so eager to get into fights that dull tours traumatized ‘em, but we don’t think this guy was like that.
- An armed assailant in a pool of forcibly disarmed victims has been given an edge by the authorities.
- In this case, the assailant exploited his edge poorly, unlike Hasan.
- The incident ended, and we’re not tired of saying this yet, as soon as force was applied against the shooter.
- This was a predictable consequence of the poor response of the Fort Hood command to the last (2009) shooting incident. Instead of empowering victims, they chose to empower the criminals, relying on wishful, magical thinking instead of the power of logic. If they double down again on their anti-gun policies, the consequences are again predictable.
Gun FreeVictim Disarmament Zone body count: 3 Wound count: 16.
Col. Jeff Cooper suggested a system that “would make sure, first, that a riot would stop; and second, that only the leaders would feel the weight of social disapproval.”
Of course, since this is Col. Jeff Cooper we’re talking about, his recommended system was a weapon system, a suppressed .22:
This weapon, properly sighted and equipped with a noise suppressor, may be used with surgical delicacy to neutralize mob leaders without risk to other members of the group, without noise and with scant danger of death to the subject. A low-velocity 22 bullet in the lung will not knock a man down, and in these days of modern antisepsis it will almost never kill him if he can get to a hospital in a reasonable time. It will, however, absolutely terminate his interest in leading a riot.
The Israelis took his advice.
Reading someone the Riot Act used to have a literal meaning that seems apropos:
The Riot Act (1714) (1 Geo.1 St.2 c.5) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that authorised local authorities to declare any group of twelve or more people to be unlawfully assembled, and thus have to disperse or face punitive action. The Act, whose long title was “An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters”, came into force on 1 August 1715, and remained on the statute books until 1973.
If the group failed to disperse within one hour, then anyone remaining gathered was guilty of a felony without benefit of clergy, punishable by death.
Benefit of clergy?
In English law, the benefit of clergy (Law Latin Privilegium clericale) was originally a provision by which clergymen could claim that they were outside the jurisdiction of the secular courts and be tried instead in an ecclesiastical court under canon law. Eventually, the course of history transformed it into a mechanism by which first-time offenders could receive a more lenient sentence for some lesser crimes.
Weapons Man looks at the Norfolk Navy Yard shooting of March, 2014:
A career violent criminal who’d ostensibly gone straight as a truck driver, bluffed his way through at least two Navy checkpoints onto a pier where USS Mahan was berthed. The criminal may not have been armed, but the petty officer of the guard was. She was easily disarmed by the criminal, who was in the process of shooting her when a shipmate, MA2 Michael Mayo, intervened. Mayo was shot dead. Another Mahan watchstander shot the intruder dead, and that was the end of whatever it was he had planned.
While most of the Navy base is subject to the usual DOD Victim Disarmment Zone rules, ships have armed guards.
- Having armed defenders at the point of initial attack made all the difference.
- The incident ended, as usual, when force was applied against the shooter.
- This incident might have ended with no loss of life (or loss of only the criminal’s life, and who cares about that?), were it not for the failure of the PO of the guard.
- Relying on weak people for life-and-death positions has consequences. Most women are weak compared to most men — as this one was compared to her assailant.
Armed Victim Zone body count: 1. Wound count: 0.
Weapons Man examines the Washington Navy Yard shooting of September 2013:
A man who was mentally ill and an intermittent user of the preescription serotonin inhibitor Trazodone went on a shooting rampage in Building 157 197 of the Navy Yard. He shot 12 civilian Navy employees dead with a shotgun, critically wounded two more, and wounded a police officer. (Seven to ten other injuries were from causes other than the assailant’s gunfire, like leaping out windows to get away from him). He was ultimately killed by the police after several gunfights, but he killed no one more once the police engaged him.
- A violent shooter can cause considerable trouble before police can arrive and stop him. Hey, didn’t we learn that already? Apparently not.
- The incident ended, as usual, abruptly. This occurred when force was applied against the shooter.
- Even soldiers, if unarmed, have trouble dealing with a violent and armed terrorist.
- If you’re wounded, the Army will have your back unless it threatens diversity mythmaking. In that case, KMAGYOYO.
- When we sacrificed privacy to get security through FBI/NSA domestic spying, the privacy went but the security never came.
Gun FreeVictim Disarmament Zone body count: 12. Wound count: 3.
It’s déja vu in Missouri, Massad Ayoob says:
The meme started out as sweet, tender 18-year-old Michael Brown about to enter college, murdered by police in front of many witnesses despite no discernible motive. National uproar and civil disturbance ensues.
The family of the deceased hires Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s family who engaged a high powered, well connected PR firm to turn that shooting into a national cause celebre, which they did with enormous success. By the time the truth came out, most of America seemed to still believe that the deceased was a harmless, innocent victim of racism murdered by a monster who deserved to be lynched. That meme seems to be getting a repeat in Missouri.
Only days later, do we learn how savagely the officer was beaten by the physically huge man he shot. And that very shortly before the incident, the innocent college boy had performed a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, caught on surveillance video. (This, of course, would not do, so last night looters ravaged that particular convenience store.) It has been reported that that Facebook images of Brown exist, flashing gang signs indicating membership in one of the nation’s most feared street gang, the Bloods.
Weapons Man examines the Quantico shooting of March 2013:
A male Marine who moved from off-post into barracks had a torrid affair with a female Marine. She broke it off and immediately took another male Marine to her bunk. The first guy shot and killed his ex and her new beau in the barracks, then turned the pistol on himself. (As is customary in these triangle cases, he killed himself when his mission was complete). USMC investigators said nothing about the barracks environment of the unit, apparently the 1710th Relentlessly Shagging Battalion, but faulted commanders for not grilling the shooter abour weapons ownership, and disarming him when he moved on post.
- A violent shooter can complete his criminal mission before police can arrive and stop him.
- The incident ended, as usual, abruptly. This occurred when the shooter completed his intended murders, and killed himself.
- The cost-benefit profile of a workplace dalliance needs to include edge cases like this.
- He never was confronted by armed authorities. The victims’ lives were taken when there was no one there but themselves. Only the victims could have saved themselves — and only if they were armed themselves.
Gun FreeVictim Disarmament Zone body count: 2. Wound count: 0.
Weapons Man looks at five shootings from the last five or so years, starting with the Fort Hood Shooting of November 2009:
A radicalized, fundamentalist Moslem carried out the highest sacrament of his faith: mass murder. He was known to all as a supporter of jihad, but no one did anything before his crimes, because an Islamic bean is a pearl beyond price, at least to the beancounters in Army personnel.
As he murdered one unarmed victim after another, at least three brave attempts to charge him barehanded brought a soldier a hero’s death, and a fourth resulted in the soldier receiving crippling wounds. He was finally stopped when armed police officers responded to a 911 call, and shot and critically wounded him. Until he was incapacitated by gunfire, he never stopped killing.
The media, being the media, praised the lady cop that the assailant wounded and disabled, and more or less ignored the male cop who actually stopped him. Amazon narrative, you know.
The Army resisted external investigation, and senior Army officers announced that his faith-driven disloyalty was not on the table in the investigation: while a few dozen dead and wounded soldiers was kind-of, sort-of a tragedy, it would really be bad if it undermined our blind adherence to the shibboleths of “diversity,” Army Chief of Staff General George M. Casey explained.
Nothing was done to allow the soldiers to protect themselves. Casey and his successors, and the Secretaries of Defense they reported to, have chosen to punish the victims instead. They excluded the survivors from VA combat-vet benefits, and forbade them from receiving the Purple Heart Medal, which has been awarded to victims of terrorism routinely since 1986 — except for these ones.
In addition to alarming his chain of command in the Army steadily since 2005, Hasan had come to FBI’s attention, and that of the Defense Criminal Investigations Service, and they did nothing much at the time. The mad moslem murderer’s communications were intercepted and briefly reviewed in 2008, but the FBI moved on to higher priority intercept targets, like you. Hasan’s Army commanders, the FBI, and the DCIS all dropped their investigations because he was a radical moslem.
- A violent shooter can cause considerable trouble before police can arrive and stop him.
- The incident ended, as usual, abruptly. This occurred when deadly force was applied effectively against the shooter, by the second police officer to arrive.
- Until then, no one was present but victims, who died because they had no effective means of self-defense.
- Even soldiers, if unarmed, have trouble dealing with a violent and armed terrorist.
- If you’re wounded, the Army will have your back unless it threatens diversity mythmaking. In that case, KMAGYOYO.
- When we sacrificed privacy to get security through FBI/NSA domestic spying, the privacy went but the security is still an unfulfilled promise.
Gun FreeVictim Disarmament Zone body count: 13. Wound count: 32.