Let the enemy worry about his flanks

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Jeff Cooper closes his Principles Of Personal Defense with a final word:

There is a purpose to be served by this essay. The combination of modern medical science and the welfare state has brought about a condition of general overcrowding and boredom which, magnified by vast worldwide increases in population, has resulted in an unconscionable drop in personal safety. Before World War 2, one could stroll in the parks and streets of the city after dark with hardly any risk — at least no more than was involved in driving on the highway. A young woman needed no escort. One could safely ask for help on the road. Meeting with another rifleman in the woods was occasion for comradeship rather than a red alert. This is true no longer. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the problem of personal risk is much more serious than of yore. Our police do what they can, but they can’t protect us everywhere and all the time. All too often they cannot even protect themselves. Your physical safety is up to you, as it really always has been.

The principles herein enunciated are the result of a great deal of study and consultation, plus a fair amount of actual experience. Taken to heart, they may save your life. There is always an element of luck in any sort of conflict, and I know of no way to guarantee success in every instance. What I do know, however, is that if the victims of the dozen or more sickening atrocities that have gained nationwide fame in recent years had read this book, and had heeded what they read, they would have survived those actions. Additionally, a small but select number of goblins would not be alive today, bounding in and out of courts and costing us all money that could be much better spent.

George Patton told his officers, “Don’t worry about your flanks. Let the enemy worry about his flanks.” It is high time for society to stop worrying about the criminal, and to let the criminal start worrying about society. And by “society” I mean you.

May he never choose you, but, if he does, surprise him

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

The seventh of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is surprise:

This is put last on purpose, for surprise is the first principle of offensive combat. However, the privilege of striking the first blow is a luxury we must usually grant to our attacker, so in a sense there can be no strategic surprise in defense. But that does not mean that the defender cannot achieve tactical surprise. By doing what our assailant least expects us to do, we may throw him completely off. As we have seen, what he usually least suspects is instant, violent counterattack, so the principle of aggressiveness is closely tied to threat of surprise.

One of the most hilarious episodes in recent cinema presents a bank teller debating the spelling of a written demand passed through the wicket by the bank robber. The whole affair shifts from banditry to an argument about whether the money can be handed over in the face of so badly constructed a missive. Pretty far-fetched, of course, but still stimulating. The unexpected is disconcerting. A disconcerted felon is momentarily less in charge of his own thoughts than the moment just before or just after. At that moment, his victim may be able to turn the tables.

On a realistic note, I can point out that in every single successful defense against violent attack that I know of — and I have studied this matter for nearly three decades — the attacker was totally surprised when his victim did not wilt. The speed, power, efficiency, and aggressiveness of the counterattack varied greatly, but the mere fact of its existence was the most elemental component of its success.

If you have friends in law enforcement, ask them to tell you the “April Fool” joke. It’s a bit gamy for a publication of this sort, but it makes a point — and it is very funny. Its moral is the moral of this manual: The criminal does not expect his prey to fight back. May he never choose you, but, if he does, surprise him.

Let your attacker worry about his life

Monday, June 10th, 2019

The sixth of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is ruthlessness:

Anyone who willfully and maliciously attacks another without sufficient cause deserves no consideration. While both moral and legal precepts enjoin us against so-called “overreaction,” we are fully justified in valuing the life and person of an intended victim more highly than the life of a pernicious assailant The attacker must be stopped. At once and completely. Just who he is, why he has chosen to be a criminal, his social background, his ideological or psychological motivation, and the extent of injury he incurs as a result of his acts — these may all be considered at some future date. Now, your first concern is to stay alive. Let your attacker worry about his life. Don’t hold back. Strike no more after he is incapable of further action, but see that he is stopped. The law forbids you to take revenge, but it permits you to prevent. What you do to prevent further felonious assault, as long as the felon is still capable of action, is justified. So make sure, and do not be restrained by considerations of forbearance. They can get you killed. An armed man, especially if he is armed with a firearm, is dangerous as long as he is conscious. Take no chances. Put him out.

If you must use your hands, use them with all the strength you possess. Tapping your assailant half-heartedly, for fear of hurting him, will indeed make him mad, and since he has already shown that he is willing to kill you, he may try even harder now that you have struck him a painful though indecisive blow. If you choose to strike, by all means strike hard.

This also applies to shooting. If you are justified in shooting you are justified in killing, in all but a few quite obvious circumstances. Don’t try to be fancy. Shoot for the center of mass. The world is full of decent people. Criminals we can do without.

We often hear it said — especially by certain police spokesmen who, it seems to me, should know better — that in the event of victimization the victim should offer no resistance, for fear of arousing his assailant. Perhaps we should ignore the craven exhortation to cowardice made here. “Honor” may in truth be an obsolete word. So let us consider only results. The Sharon Tate party did not resist. The Starkweather victims did not resist. The La Biancas did not resist. Mitrione did not resist. The next time some “expert” tells me not to resist I may become abusive.

Apart from the odds that you will be killed anyway if you submit to threats of violence, it would seem — especially in today’s world of permissive atrocity — that it may be your social duty to resist. The law seems completely disinclined to discourage violent crime. The sociopath who attacks you has little to fear, at this writing, from either the police or the courts. The chief of police of our capital city has stated in print that, “The greatest real and immediate hazard that the hold-up man faces is the possibility that his victim may be armed and might shoot the criminal.” (US. News and World Report, 8 December 1969, page 35.) The syntax may be a bit garbled, but the meaning is clear. If violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither judge nor jury. Therefore what he must be taught to fear is his victim. If a felon attacks you and lives, he will reasonably conclude that he can do it again. By submitting to him, you not only imperil your own life, but you jeopardize the lives of others. The first man who resisted Starkweather, after eleven murders, overcame him easily and without injury. If that man had been the first to be accosted, eleven innocent people would have been spared.

The coddling of murderers has brought us to an evil pass. If it is truly a wise and just policy (which we may have serious reason to doubt), leave it to the courts. When your life is in danger, forget it. If you find yourself under lethal attack don’t be kind. Be harsh. Be tough. Be ruthless.

You must keep your head

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

The fifth of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is coolness — and, if firearms are used, precision:

You must keep your head. If you “lose your cool” under deadly attack, you will probably not survive to make excuses. So don’t bother to improvise any… just keep your head. Anger, as long as it is controlled anger, is no obstacle to efficiency. Self-control is one thing the sociopath does not usually possess. Use yours to his undoing.

If you counterattack with your hands, use them carefully. (Remember that a blow with your closed fist to your enemy’s head will almost always wreck your hand. A finger in his eye is easier, safer, and likely to be more decisive.)

If you improvise a weapon from objects at hand, use it in a way most likely to do damage without loss or breakage. The points of most improvised weapons, from umbrellas to fire pokers, are usually more effective than the edges, as they can be applied with less warning and without exposure during a “windup.” A blunt point should be directed at the face or throat Drive it carefully, coolly, and hard.

The optimum defensive arm is the heavy-duty pistol, though a shotgun may surpass it for home defense if there is sufficient warning. If you are fortunate enough to have access to any sort of firearm when under attack, remember that it is only as good as your ability to keep cool and shoot carefully. My pupil, mentioned in Chapter Four, did not shoot carefully, and he survived largely through luck alone, for his attackers shot just as sloppily as he did. But we cannot count on miserable marksmanship in our enemies. The sociopath is indeed usually a bad shot, but not always, Clyde Barrow was quite good.

Another student of mine did far better. To begin with, he heard the approach of the assassins’ car in the cold grey light of dawn. He was alert even at that hour. He was on his feet immediately, pistol in hand. Through the blinds he saw two men coming rapidly up the walk to his door, one with a shotgun and one with a machine pistol. He decided that such a visit, with such equipment, at such an hour, needed no further explanation. He flung open the front door and went to work, and he remembered to remain cool and to shoot with precision. The two would-be murderers died in their tracks. The householder caught six pellets of bird shot in the leg. The attackers outnumbered and outgunned their proposed victim, but they were defeated and destroyed by a man who did everything right.

When an expensively trained police officer from one of the larger police departments misses a felon six times at a range of ten feet (and don’t think this doesn’t happen), his failure is not due to his technical inability to hit a target of that size at that distance, for he has demonstrated on the firing range that he can do so. His failure, and often his consequent death, is due to his lack of concentration upon his marksmanship — the loss of his cool.

The ability to remain cool under pressure comes more easily to some people than to others. But it is in no sense out of anyone’s reach. In fact it is the first qualification of a man that Kipling calls for in his immortal poem If. It is illustrated beautifully every time you see a quarterback calmly select and hit his receiver while under the threat of more than one thousand pounds of rock-hard, cat-quick muscle only a step away. It’s a matter of will. If you know that you can keep your head, and that you must keep your head, you probably will keep your head.

To train yourself to do this takes some thought. Certain kinds of athletics are excellent — football, of course, in particular. Sailing, flying, motor racing, and mountaineering are also good. But in my opinion the best of them all is the hunting of medium and big game. “Buck fever” is a classic affliction, and a man who has conquered it can be guaranteed to shoot carefully under pressure. While it is true that a deer is not shooting back, this is less significant than might at first appear. The deer is about to vanish, and, odd as it seems, fear of sporting failure is usually greater than the fear of death. This startling point is easy to prove. The average competitive pistol shot works and trains far harder to earn a little brass cup than the average policeman works and trains to acquire a skill that can save his life.

Not all hunters make the grade — the woods are full of ditherers in red jackets. But the really expert hunter/rifleman is a very good man to have on your side. Under any sort of attack, keep cool And if you must shoot, shoot with precision.

Speed is your salvation

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

The fourth of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is speed:

Speed is the absolute essence of any form of combat, from a fencing match to the Six-Day War. (Absence of speed is what history will probably decide caused us to lose in Vietnam.) Napoleon said, “I may lose a battle but I will never lose a minute.” Personal defense speeds this up. We must say, “I may lose this fight, but I will not lose this second!” Apparently overwhelming strength is of no importance if it is not brought to bear before it is pre-empted. In our Old West it was said, “Do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first.” Amen.

Here again this essay deals purely with defense, and neither law nor morality justifies our flattening someone just because we think he might attack us. However, on the very instant that we know that our assailant intends us serious physical harm, we must work just as fast as we can. If he has shot at us, we must hit him before he can shoot again. If he is holding us by threat of force, we have the edge of reaction time over him.

The stake in personal defense is your life. You cannot afford to play by sporting rules. Be fast, not fair. Be “offside” on the play. No referee will call it back.

The perfect fight is one that is over before the loser really understands what is going on. The perfect defense is a counterattack that succeeds before the assailant discovers that he has bitten off more than he can chew.

Therefore, if you are attacked, retaliate instantly. Be sudden. Be quick. Speed is your salvation.

Aggressiveness carries with it an incalculable moral edge

Friday, June 7th, 2019

The third of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is aggressiveness:

In defense we do not initiate violence. We must grant our attacker the vast advantage of striking the first blow, or at least attempting to do so. But thereafter we may return the attention with what should optimally be overwhelming violence. “The best defense is a good offense.” This is true, and while we cannot apply it strictly to personal defensive conduct, we can propose a corollary: “The best personal defense is an explosive counterattack.” Those who do not understand fighting will at once suggest that numbers, size, strength, or armament must make this instruction invalid. They will insist that the aggressor will not attack unless he has a decisive preponderance of force. This is possible, but it is not by any means always, or even usually, true. Consider the Speck case, in which the victims outnumbered the murderer eight to one. They disposed of far more than enough force to save their lives, but only if they had directed that force violently and aggressively against the murderer. This they failed to do. There are countless other examples.

The victory of an explosive response by an obviously weaker party against superior force is easy to observe in the animal world. A toy poodle runs a German Shepherd off his property. A tiny kingbird drives off a marauding hawk. A forty-pound wolverine drives a whole wolf pack away from a kill that the wolves worked hours to bring down. Aggressiveness carries with it an incalculable moral edge in any combat, offensive or defensive. And the very fact that the assailant does not expect aggressiveness in his victim usually catches him unaware.

If the intended victim is armed, skill becomes a factor more critical than numbers. A man with a powerful, reliable sidearm, and who is highly qualified in its use, can ruin a rifle squad at close range if he can seize the initiative by instantaneous aggressive response to a clumsily mounted attack. Of course such skill is rare, even (or perhaps especially) among our uniformed protectors, but it can be acquired. Great strides have been made in recent years in the theory of defensive pistolcraft The results are available to respectable parties. But never assume that simply having a gun makes you a marksman. You are no more armed because you are wearing a pistol than you are a musician because you own a guitar.

In a recent case, a pupil of mine was assaulted by four men armed with revolvers as he drove into his driveway after a late party. Being a little the worse for wear, he violated (or just forgot) all the principles of personal defense but one and that was the principle of aggressiveness. At their first volley, he laid down such a quick and heavy barrage of return fire (twenty-two rounds in less than twenty seconds) that his would-be assassins panicked and ran. He did most things wrong, but his explosive reaction to attack certainly saved his life.

Now how do we cultivate an aggressive response? I think the answer is indignation. Read the papers. Watch the news. These people have no right to prey upon innocent citizens. They have no right to offer you violence. They are bad people and you are quite justified in resenting their behavior to the point of rage. Your response, if attacked, must not be fear, it must be anger. The two emotions are very close and you can quite easily turn one into the other. At this point your life hangs upon your ability to block out all thoughts of your own peril, and to concentrate utterly upon the destruction of your enemy. Anger lets you do this. The little old lady who drives off an armed robber by beating on him with her purse is angry, and good for her!

The foregoing is quite obviously not an approved outlook in current sociological circles. That is of no consequence. We are concerned here simply with survival. After we have arranged for our survival, we can discuss sociology.

If it is ever your misfortune to be attacked, alertness will have given you a little warning, decisiveness will have given you a proper course to pursue, and if that course is to counterattack, carry it out with everything you’ve got! Be indignant. Be angry. Be aggressive.

He who hesitates is indeed lost

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

The second of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is decisiveness:

It is difficult for a domesticated man to change in an instant into one who can take quick, decisive action to meet a violent emergency. Most of us are unused to violent emergencies — especially those which can only be solved by the use of force and violence on our part — and these emergencies require a parturient effort of will to transform ourselves from chickens into hawks. Decisiveness, like alertness, is to some extent a built-in characteristic, but, also like alertness, it can be accentuated. In formalized combat it is supplied — or it should be — by appropriate orders from above. In cases of personal defense, it must be self-generated, and this is the problem.

When “the ball is opened” — when it becomes evident that you are faced with violent physical assault — your life depends upon your selecting a correct course of action and carrying it through without hesitation or deviation. There can be no shilly-shallying. There is not time. To ponder is quite possibly to perish. And it is important to remember that the specific course you decide upon is, within certain parameters, less important than the vigor with which you execute it. The difficulty is that the proper course of action, when under attack, is usually to counterattack. This runs contrary to our normally civilized behavior, and such a decision is rather hard for even an ordinarily decisive person to reach.

Short of extensive personal experience, which most of us would rather not amass, the best way to cultivate such tactical decisiveness is through hypothesis: “What would I do if…?” By thinking tactically, we can more easily arrive at correct tactical solutions, and practice — even theoretical practice — tends to produce confidence in our solutions which, in turn, makes it easier for us, and thus quicker, to reach a decision.

English common law, the fountainhead of our juridical system, holds that you may use sufficient force and violence to prevent an assailant from inflicting death or serious injury upon you — or your wife, or your child, or any other innocent party. You may not pursue your attacker with deadly intent, and you may not strike an unnecessary blow, but if someone is trying to kill you, you are justified in killing him to stop him, if there is no other way. This is putting it about as simply as possible, and since the law here is eminently reasonable, the legal aspects of personal defense need not detain us in formulating a proper defensive decision. We must be sure that our assailant is trying to kill or maim us, that he is physically capable of doing so, and that we cannot stop him without downing him. These conditions can usually be ascertained in the blink of an eye. Then we may proceed. (Incidentally, rape is generally considered “serious injury” in this connection. A man who clearly intends rape may thus be injured or killed to prevent the accomplishment of his purpose, if no lesser means will suffice.)

So, when under attack, it is necessary to evaluate the situation and to decide instantly upon a proper course of action, to be carried out immediately with all the force you can bring to bear. He who hesitates is indeed lost. Do not soliloquize. Do not delay. Be decisive.

A commander may be forgiven for being defeated, but never for being surprised

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

The first of Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense is alertness:

“A commander may be forgiven for being defeated, but never for being surprised.” This maxim is among the first to be impressed upon new lieutenants. It is equally applicable to individuals who aspire to a degree of physical security in today’s embattled society. Alertness is, to some extent, an inherent personality trait, but it can nonetheless be learned and improved. Once we accept that our familiar and prosaic environment is in fact perilous, we automatically sharpen our senses.

Two rules are immediately evident: Know what is behind you, and pay particular attention to anything out of place.

It is axiomatic that the most likely direction of attack is from behind. Be aware of that. Develop “eyes in the back of your head.” Eric Hartmann, the World War II German flying ace who is unquestionably the greatest fighter pilot of all time (1,405 combat missions, 352 confirmed victories), feels that he survived because of an “extremely sensitive back to his neck”; and, conversely, claims that 80 percent of his victims never knew he was in the same sky with them. Combat flying is not the same as personal defense, but the principle applies. The great majority of the victims of violent crime are taken by surprise. The one who anticipates the action wins. The one who does not, loses. Learn from the experience of others and don’t let yourself be surprised.

Make it a game. Keep a chart. Every time anyone is able to approach you from behind without your knowledge, mark down an X. Every time you see anyone you know before he sees you, mark down an O. Keep the Os ahead of the Xs. A month with no Xs establishes the formation of correct habits.

Observe your cat. It is difficult to surprise him. Why? Naturally his superior hearing is part of the answer, but not all of it. He moves well, using his senses fully. He is not preoccupied with irrelevancies. He’s not thinking about his job or his image or his income tax. He is putting first things first, principally his physical security. Do likewise.

There are those who will object to the mood this instruction generates. They will complain that they do not wish to “live like that.” They are under no obligation to do so. They can give up. But it is a feral world, and if one wishes to be at ease in it he must accommodate to it.

Anything out of place can be a danger signal. Certainly anyone you don’t know approaching your dwelling must be regarded askance. It’s ninety-nine to one that he is perfectly harmless, but will you be ready if he turns out to be that other one who is not?

Certain things are obvious: an unfamiliar car parked across the street for long periods with people in it who do not get out; a car that maintains a constant distance behind you while you vary your speed; young men in groups, without women, staying in one place and not talking. These things should set off a first-stage alarm in anyone, but there are many other signals to be read by the wary. Anyone who appears to be triggered out of watchfulness and into action by your appearance must be explained. Anyone observing you carefully must be explained. Anyone whose behavior seems to be geared to yours must be explained. If the explanation does not satisfy you, be ready to take appropriate defensive action.

A common ruse of the sociopath is the penetration of a dwelling under false pretenses. Anyone can claim to be a repairman or an inspector of one sort or another. It is often impractical to verify credentials, but merely being aware that credentials may easily be falsified is protection against surprise. The strong need only remain watchful. The weak should take further precautions.

On the street, let no stranger take your hand. To allow a potential assailant a firm grip on your right hand is to give him a possibly fatal advantage. Use your eyes. Do not enter unfamiliar areas that you cannot observe first. Make it a practice to swing wide around corners, use window glass for rearward visibility, and get something solid behind you when you pause.

All this may sound excessively furtive and melodramatic, but those who have cultivated what might be called a tactical approach to life find it neither troublesome nor conspicuous. And, like a fastened seat belt, a life jacket, or a fire extinguisher, it is comforting even when unnecessary.

Needless to say, no sensible person ever opens the door of his house without knowing who is knocking. If your entrance way does not permit visual evaluation of your caller, change it. The statistics may be against a threat waiting outside, but statistics are cold comfort after you discover that your case is the rare exception.

The foregoing suggestions are merely random examples of ways in which the principle of alertness is manifested. Situations are numberless, and specific recommendations cannot be made to cover them all. The essential thing is to bear always in mind that trouble can appear at any time. Be aware. Be ready. Be alert.

Any man who is a man may not, in honor, submit to threats or violence

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Jeff Cooper’s Principles Of Personal Defense appears to be out of print and unavailable on Kindle, but the full text can be found online. Here is the introduction:

Some people prey upon other people. Whether we like it or not, this is one of the facts of life. It has always been so and it is not going to change. The number of sociopaths in a stipulated population varies widely, but we can take a figure of one in one hundred, for simplicity’s sake, and not be far off. About one person in one hundred will, under some circumstances, initiate a violent attack upon another, in defiance of the law, for reasons that seem sufficient to him at the time. Take the able-bodied male population of your community, divide it by one hundred, and you have a fair approximation of the number of possible contacts who just might take it upon themselves to beat your head in. It is not pertinent to dispute the mathematics of this calculation. It may be wrong for your place and time. But anyone who is aware of his environment knows that the peril of physical assault does exist, and that it exists everywhere and at all times. The police, furthermore, can protect you from it only occasionally.

The author assumes that the right of self-defense exists. Some people do not. This booklet is not for them. This is for those who feel that anyone who chooses physically to attack another human being does so at his peril. In some jurisdictions it is held that the victim of an attacker must, above all, attempt to escape. This is a nice legalistic concept, but it is very often tactically unsound. By the time one has exhausted every means of avoiding conflict it may be too late to save his life. Laws vary, and cannot be memorized encyclopedically; in any case, we are not concerned here about jurisprudence, but about survival. If one lives through a fight, we will assume that he is better off than if he does not, even though he may be thereafter confronted with legal action.

Violent crime is feasible only if its victims are cowards. A victim who fights back makes the whole business impractical. It is true that a victim who fights back may suffer for it, but one who does not almost certainly will suffer for it. And, suffer or not, the one who fights back retains his dignity and his self-respect Any study of the atrocity list of recent years — Starkweather, Speck, Manson, Richard Hickok and Cary Smith, et al. — shows immediately that the victims, by their appalling ineptitude and timidity, virtually assisted in their own murders. (“Don’t make them mad, Martha, so they won’t hurt us.”)

Any man who is a man may not, in honor, submit to threats or violence. But many men who are not cowards are simply unprepared for the fact of human savagery. They have not thought about it (incredible as this may appear to anyone who reads the paper or listens to the news) and they just don’t know what to do. When they look right into the face of depravity or violence, they are astonished and confounded. This can be corrected.

The techniques of personal combat are not covered in this work. The so-called “martial arts” (boxing, karate, the stick, the pistol, etc.) are complete studies in themselves and must be acquired through suitable programs of instruction, training, and practice. It behooves all able-bodied men and women to consider them. But the subject of this work is more basic than technique, being a study of the guiding principles of survival in the face of unprovoked violence on the part of extralegal human assailants. Strategy and tactics are subordinate to the principles of war, just as individual defensive combat is subordinate to the following principles of personal defense.

Adapt quickly to the new rules

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

I wasn’t aware of Selco — even though “Selco is a household name in prepping and survival circles” — but commenter Space Nookie informs me that the founder of the SHTF School has a new book out, The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival: The Brutal Truth About Violence, Death, & Mayhem You Must Know to Survive:

He survived the Balkan War in a city with no power, no running water, and no supplies. For a year, he and his family fought every single day for bare subsistence. Over the years since the war, Selco has written nearly a quarter of a million words of memories, articles, and advice. This book is a collection of his darkest moments. The first thing you must do when disaster strikes is to adapt quickly to the “new rules” that apply when the SHTF. And to do that, you need to know what it’s like so you won’t be shocked…frozen…paralyzed by the atrocities taking place right in front of you. This book is Selco’s version of tough love. There’s nothing watered down about it. It is a collection of stories, memories, and articles he has documented over the past decade. He has revisited those horrible days to give us the reality check we must have. It’s a glimpse into the day-to-day events of the SHTF. It is smelly. It is dirty. It’s dark and brutal. It’s REAL. It is all the stuff that Selco rarely talks about because the memories are so ugly.

Sounds delightful.

Shooting did not bother the skulking prowlers

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

In Egypt, every outfit more-or-less guarded its own area and shops, Dunlap explains — not against the Axis, but against the Arabs:

At that they did dismantle and steal a disabled Grant tank once. A Wog could and would steal anything he could lift or get a camel to carry. Tires and food were worth their weight in money in the Egyptian markets, so they were constantly watched. Shooting did not bother the skulking prowlers at all, unless the bullet connected.

Play the awareness game

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Greg Ellifritz suggests some situational awareness exercises:

The Awareness Game – I adapted this exercise from a similar one described in Jeff Cooper’s classic book Principles of Personal Defense. When out in public, you will undoubtedly encounter people with whom you are familiar. You will see friends, neighbors, co-workers, and associates whom you recognize. If you are truly aware of your surroundings, you will notice their presence before they notice you. When a friend walks up behind you and taps you on the shoulder or calls your name before you are aware of his presence, you are not fully aware of what is happening in your environment.

Look for Something Unique – When you are moving about in public, pick some type of object to look for. Articles of clothing work very well. Try to find people wearing red hats, denim jackets, or gold necklaces as examples. This exercise will force you to notice everyone around you. For optimal effectiveness, look for something that men wear, because most violent criminals are male. Looking for items such as wristwatches or rings also works very well because it will force you to look at people’s hands, the place where weapons are held and attacks are generated.

Commentary Driving – In the modern world, most of us spend far more time in our vehicles than we do walking. It is important that we not succumb to the tendency to see our cars as cocoons of steel and glass where we are completely isolated from the outside world. While it is sometimes comforting to turn up the music and become lost in our thoughts while driving, it is seldom safe to do so. A relatively high percentage of crimes are committed in or around vehicles.

In order to maintain a high level of awareness when driving, I recommend an exercise called “commentary driving” as described in the book Defensive Living written by my friends Ed Lovette and Dave Spaulding.

The exercise is simple. During your commute, take notice of your surroundings by forcing yourself to verbally describe everything that you see. Actually verbalize audibly what your eyes are seeing. It should sound something like: “There is a blue car on my left”… “The light is turning red”… “I see a man walking a dog on the right” and anything else you might notice. By putting words of description to your thoughts, you will process much more information than usual thereby making you more aware of your surroundings. I also find that this drill works well for keeping yourself awake on long nighttime drives.

Escape Routes – In addition to being aware of the presence of potentially predatory individuals and groups, everyone should also be aware of all possible options for escaping violent attacks. Set the alarm on your watch or phone to ring at random times throughout the day. Whenever your alarm goes off, look around and determine the best way to escape if you were attacked at that moment. Over time you will have developed escape routes for almost every location you visit on a regular basis. With enough repetition you will begin to look for escape routes and areas of safety as a routine part of your day.

Firearms trainer Tom Givens describes “awareness” as knowing who is around you and what those people are doing. That’s a simple and extremely useful definition. Instead of finding escape routes. you can use the same random alarm trick I mentioned above to ask yourself the “Givens Questions.” When your alarm goes off, look around and ask yourself “Who is around me and what are they doing?” If you can answer those questions, you have good situational awareness.

There were 33 at which an armed citizen was present

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

How often are armed citizens successful at active shooter events in stopping or reducing the harm done?

Looking at the 283 total Active Shooter events in our data pool, an Armed Citizen was Present and Engaged the Active Shooter in 33 total incidents (11.7%). This is all inclusive regardless of who the armed citizen was or their direct potential for stopping the shooter.

In a few examples, the armed citizen was at their home near the event when they heard shots fired and rushed to the scene to intervene and thus despite not being present when the incident began those Active Shooter events are included in the 11.7% below.

In one other example, the victims of the attack were hunters that were effectively ambushed by their killer. We are assuming the hunters possessed firearms and thus that incident is included in the 11.7% below even though the armed citizen wasn’t attempting to intervene to save others but was, in fact, the targeted victim.

That strikes me as a shockingly high percentage.

Of all the active shooter events there were 33 at which an armed citizen was present. Of those, Armed Citizens were successful at stopping the Active shooter 75.8% of the time (25 incidents) and were successful in reducing the loss of life in an additional 18.2% (6) of incidents. In only 2 of the 33 incidents (6.1%) was the Armed Citizen(s) not helpful in any way in stopping the active shooter or reducing the loss of life.

Thus the headline of our report that Armed Citizens Are Successful 94% Of The Time At Active Shooter Events.

In the 2 incidents at which the armed citizen “failed” to stop or slow the active shooter, one is the previously mentioned incident with hunters. The other is an incident in which the CCWer was shot in the back in a Las Vegas Walmart when he failed to identify that there were 2 Active Shooters involved in the attack. He neglected to identify the one that shot him in the back while he was trying to ambush the other perpetrator.

[...]

[A]t the 33 incidents at which Armed Citizens were present, there were zero situations at which the Armed Citizen injured or killed an innocent person. It never happened.

Keeping someone in solitary for more than 15 days constitutes torture

Friday, February 8th, 2019

Professional gambler Rich Alati took an unusual bet:

On 10 September last year, the American was sitting at a poker table at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, when he was asked a question by a fellow professional player, Rory Young: how much would it take for him to spend time in complete isolation, with no light, for 30 days? An hour later a price had been agreed: $100,000.

Young would hand over the money if Alati could last 30 days in a soundproofed bathroom with no light. He would be delivered food from a local restaurant, but the meals would come at irregular intervals to prevent him from keeping track of time. There would be no TV, radio, phone or access to the outside world but he would be allowed some comforts: a yoga mat, resistance band, massage ball, and, appropriately for a bathroom, lavender essential oils as well as a sugar and salt scrub. If Alati failed he would have to pay Young $100,000.

[...]

Dr Michael Munro, a psychologist Young consulted before agreeing to the bet, told Young: “Even if he lasts for 30 days, it will be extremely taxing on his mental health for the short and potentially long term.”

There’s good reason for such caution. Solitary confinement is often used as punishment, most notably in the United States, where inmates in solitary are isolated in their cells 23 hours a day. The United Nations’ Nelson Mandela Rules state that keeping someone in solitary for more than 15 days constitutes torture.

[...]

But Alati was confident. He had practiced meditation and yoga, and was certain his experiences at silent retreats would help him. On 21 November, a crowd of families and friends gathered at the house where the challenge would take place. Alati and Young’s lawyers were there as well as cameramen from a production company interested in buying television rights to the story. For that reason, as well as safety, the entire bet would be recorded. Alati’s father was given the power to pull Alati out at any time should he show signs of not being “in the right headspace,” as Alati puts it.

[...]

Around the 10-day mark, Young started to worry that Alati might make the 30 days, noting he looked “totally fine”. He worried he had miscalculated: Young hadn’t known Alati – a gregarious, fast talker – for long before they had made the bet. “His personality did not reflect that of someone who was proficient with meditation,” Young said.

On day 15, Young’s voice came on over the loudspeaker. Alati jumped out of bed, happy to hear a voice that wasn’t his own. Young told Alati that he had been in for around two weeks and that he had an offer for him: Alati could leave if he paid out $50,000.

[...]

Alati waited for a few days until Young came back on the loudspeaker and asked if he had any offers of his own. Alati said he wouldn’t come out for less than $75,000, to which Young countered with an offer of $40,000. They settled on $62,400. Alati had had been in the silence and dark for 20 days.

There is no trace to follow

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

The Internet is full of commercial activity, not all of it legal. Dropgangs may be the future of darknet markets:

To prevent the problems of customer binding, and losing business when darknet markets go down, merchants have begun to leave the specialized and centralized platforms and instead ventured to use widely accessible technology to build their own communications and operational back-ends.

Instead of using websites on the darknet, merchants are now operating invite-only channels on widely available mobile messaging systems like Telegram. This allows the merchant to control the reach of their communication better and be less vulnerable to system take-downs. To further stabilize the connection between merchant and customer, repeat customers are given unique messaging contacts that are independent of shared channels and thus even less likely to be found and taken down. Channels are often operated by automated bots that allow customers to inquire about offers and initiate the purchase, often even allowing a fully bot-driven experience without human intervention on the merchant’s side.

The use of messaging platforms provides a much better user experience to the customers, who can now reach their suppliers with mobile applications they are used to already. It also means that a larger part of the communication isn’t routed through the Tor or I2P networks anymore but each side — merchant and customer — employ their own protection technology, often using widely spread VPNs.

The other major change is the use of “dead drops” instead of the postal system which has proven vulnerable to tracking and interception. Now, goods are hidden in publicly accessible places like parks and the location is given to the customer on purchase. The customer then goes to the location and picks up the goods. This means that delivery becomes asynchronous for the merchant, he can hide a lot of product in different locations for future, not yet known, purchases. For the client the time to delivery is significantly shorter than waiting for a letter or parcel shipped by traditional means — he has the product in his hands in a matter of hours instead of days. Furthermore this method does not require for the customer to give any personally identifiable information to the merchant, which in turn doesn’t have to safeguard it anymore. Less data means less risk for everyone.

The use of dead drops also significantly reduces the risk of the merchant to be discovered by tracking within the postal system. He does not have to visit any easily to surveil post office or letter box, instead the whole public space becomes his hiding territory.

Cryptocurrencies are still the main means of payment, but due to the higher customer-binding, and vetting process by the merchant, escrows are seldom employed. Usually only multi-party transactions between customer and merchant are established, and often not even that.

Marketing and initial vetting of both merchant and customer now happens in darknet forums and chat channels that themselves aren’t involved in any deal anymore. In these places merchants and customers take part in the discussion of best procedures, methods and prices. The market connects and develops best practices by sharing experience. Furthermore these places also serve as record of reputation, though in a still very primitive way.

Other than allowing much more secure and efficient business for both sides of the transaction, this has also led to changes in the organizational structure of merchants:

Instead of the flat hierarchies witnessed with darknet markets, merchants today employ hierarchical structures again. These consist of procurement layer, sales layer, and distribution layer. The people constituting each layer usually do not know the identity of the higher layers nor are ever in personal contact with them. All interaction is digital — messaging systems and cryptocurrencies again, product moves only through dead drops.

The procurement layer purchases product wholesale and smuggles it into the region. It is then sold for cryptocurrency to select people that operate the sales layer. After that transaction the risks of both procurement and sales layer are isolated.

The sales layer divides the product into smaller units and gives the location of those dead drops to the distribution layer. The distribution layer then divides the product again and places typical sales quantities into new dead drops. The location of these dead drops is communicated to the sales layer which then sells these locations to the customers through messaging systems.

To prevent theft by the distribution layer, the sales layer randomly tests dead drops by tasking different members of the distribution layer with picking up product from a dead drop and hiding it somewhere else, after verification of the contents. Usually each unit of product is tagged with a piece of paper containing a unique secret word which is used to prove to the sales layer that a dead drop was found. Members of the distribution layer have to post security — in the form of cryptocurrency — to the sales layer, and they lose part of that security with every dead drop that fails the testing, and with every dead drop they failed to test. So far, no reports of using violence to ensure performance of members of these structures has become known.

This concept of using messaging, cryptocurrency and dead drops even within the merchant structure allows for the members within each layer being completely isolated from each other, and not knowing anything about higher layers at all. There is no trace to follow if a distribution layer member is captured while servicing a dead drop. He will often not even be distinguishable from a regular customer. This makes these structures extremely secure against infiltration, takeover and capture. They are inherently resilient.

Furthermore the members of the sales layer often employ advanced physical tradecraft to prevent surveillance by the procurement layer when they pick up product. This makes it very hard to dismantle such a structure from the top.

If members of such a structure are captured they usually have no critical information to share, no information about persons, places, times of meeting. No interaction that would make this information necessary ever takes place.

It is because of the use of dead drops and hierarchical structures that we call this kind of organization a Dropgang.

The result of this evolution is a highly decentralized, specialized and resilient method of running black market commerce. Less information is acquired, shipments are faster, isolation between participants is high, and multiple independent sales channels are established.