A lot of those attacks should be considered “workplace violence”

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

The US Department of Justice recently released an 18-page summary of active shooter statistics for every attack that met the FBI definition between the years 2000 and 2018, and Greg Ellifritz provides highlights, which I edit down further:

The majority of casualties occurred in “Open Areas.” Cops use large buildings like schools, churches, and vacant offices in which to conduct their training. Very few cops get training on how to cross open ground under fire to approach an outdoor active killer site. That needs to change.

The average active killer event results in two people injured for every one person killed. This has been true for as long as people have been keeping statistics about the topic. The statistics remain the same for this subset of killings. Lots of cops embrace the role of being the guy who hunts down and slays the killer. Fewer cops embrace a role where they are helping the injured.

Out of 277 total incidents, only four involved multiple suspects. Most events were perpetrated by a single killer who was arrested on scene by responding cops. Police agencies who amass large groups of officers before entering are wasting time. The chance of needing 360 degree coverage for multiple threats is almost non-existent.

Most active killers used handguns. Although many of the killings with a high body count were perpetrated with semi-auto rifles, 2/3 of attackers used handguns, not AR-15s.

Thirty-five percent of the killers carried more than one weapon. Responders should not drop their guard if the killer appears to be disarmed of his primary weapon.

Most of the active killer attacks took place in commercial businesses. We hear a lot about shootings at concerts, schools, and churches. Those are comparatively rare. Most of the attacks in the study were in businesses open to the public. A lot of those attacks are perpetrated by employees and should better be considered “workplace violence” incidents rather than active killer events.

Patriot Games was notable for subverting the moral ambiguity of the antagonists

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

I somehow managed to go this whole time without reading a single Tom Clancy novel — or watching a single movie adaptation, except for The Hunt for Red October — and only just now listened to the audiobook version of Patriot Games, which was originally published in 1987.

I didn’t remember the character of Jack Ryan, from The Hunt for Red October, so I was a bit surprised to find that he was not a Bond- or Bourne-like super-spy, but a history professor with a wife and daughter — and I was a bit concerned for his family’s safety, in those first few pages, since their deaths could explain and justify a book full of righteous vengeance, but they merely witness the inciting incident of the novel, where our former-Marine hero tackles one Irish terrorist, takes his pistol, and kills another. That seemed…out of character for a professor — even a young one who was briefly a Marine lieutenant — and there really isn’t any further explanation.

The book is a product of its time, and it features the first foreign terrorist attack on American soil. These foreign terrorists are vengeful Irish extremists, and they side with local Marxist revolutionaries belonging to The Movement, a Black Panther-like group. The novel is conspicuously progressive on issues of race and sex. Our hero’s best buddy is a top-notch black fighter pilot — pardon, naval aviator — and the evil Irish terrorists disrespect their more-competent black partners, before turning on them.

The technology is mid-1980s, too, with the “newer” spy satellites using CCDs, which give real-time intel, rather than film, which has to be used up and then dropped back down and recovered for processing. Our hero is oddly rattled by seeing low-res video of a special operations assault on a terrorist training camp.

The coolest gun in the world in the 1980s is the Uzi, which makes an appearance. The pistols offered to our hero include a Colt .45 automatic, a Browning Hi-Power, and a .22 target pistol. The Beretta M9, which was adopted in 1985, doesn’t appear. The grizzled Marine Sergeant Major, Breckenridge, teaches our hero to shoot one-handed, purely for accuracy, before introducing him to the two-handed Weaver stance and “rapid fire” shooting, one shot per second. This is all rather quaint to a modern practical shooter.

When I looked the book up on Wikipedia, it raised a point about it that never occurred to me:

Patriot Games was notable for subverting the moral ambiguity of the antagonists in espionage novels by John le Carré, Len Deighton, and Robert Ludlum. According to Marc Cerasini’s essay on the novel, “Clancy’s sensible revulsion toward the terrorists is so strident and intense…that it verges on the physical.” He added that “the author’s understandable disgust toward his villains is ‘bourgeois’, for there is not a shred of sympathy for these Irish ‘patriots’.”

Yes, terribly bourgeois.

What percentage of murder arrestees in New York City are young minority males?

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Benjamin Dixon, host of “the dopest political podcast in the game,” recently shared audio of Mike Bloomberg’s 2015 Aspen Institute speech, where he says, “Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murdered victims — fit one MO. You can just take the description, xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, sixteen to twenty-five. That’s true in New York; that’s true in virtually every city.”

This is, of course, terribly racist.

That ninety-five percent figure is ludicrously high. What’s the real number? Let’s look at Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea’s 2019 report on Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City:

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter in NYC by Race

So, ninety-seven percent of suspects and arrestees are minorities, not ninety-five. We don’t have numbers for age and sex though.

You don’t want your first exposure to be on the street

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

In New Jersey recently a shoplifter pepper-sprayed two store security guards who confronted her after she stole some merchandise. Greg Ellifritz has been exposed to pepper spray over 50 times in training and on the street and offers his advice:

I think the first step to consider is retreating. Most small cans of chemical irritant have a very limited range. The small keychain type sprays only shoot about five feet. The larger canisters that cops carry shoot a stream that is 10-15 feet. Excepting the large fire extinguisher-style cans, you would be out of range of any commonly carried chemical spray if you could get at least 20 feet away.

If escape isn’t an option, shielding can work. If the spray doesn’t get in your eyes, you will likely still be able to function at almost full capacity. You might cough a bit, but you won’t be disabled. Cover your eyes with a hand. Alternately you can go into a “horizontal elbow shield” position and tuck your face inside the crook of your elbow for protection. Even holding something like a briefcase or notepad over your face will stop the majority of the spray from getting into your eyes.

If you can’t escape or shield, recognize that you are going to be sprayed. Know in advance how you will react. You can usually continue fighting, but some people panic when they are hit with the spray for the first time. Their panic leads to a freezing response that makes them unlikely to be able to defend themselves. The spray painful. It makes you cough and your eyes burn. But most of you can fight through the pain as long as you know what to expect.

You don’t want your first exposure to be on the street while you are fighting a criminal. It would be a great idea if you had someone spray you in a controlled situation first so that you aren’t shocked by the effects when you have to fight it on the street. If you don’t want to take a full spray to the face, spray some OC onto a gauze pad and wipe the corner of your eye with it. You’ll get a good taste of what the spray feels like and still be able to decontaminate relatively quickly.

Amman had been imprisoned for terror-related offenses

Friday, February 7th, 2020

On Streatham High Road in London, a terrorist stabbed two pedestrians — and then was shot by police. There were armed police right there, on the scene? Why, yes, there were:

Press reports quickly identified the stabber as Sudesh Amman, a 20-year-old whose radical beliefs were well-known to authorities. Amman had been imprisoned for terror-related offenses and was slated to serve three years. But he was released early in late January after doing only about half that time behind bars.

According to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) of the Metropolitan Police Service Lucy D’Orsi, Amman was being followed on foot by armed officers as “part of a proactive counter-terrorism surveillance operation.”

The counter-terrorism detail quickly shot him dead after he started stabbing at civilians at around 2pm in the afternoon London time.

DAC D’Orsi explained that Amman had been imprisoned for “Islamist-related terrorism offenses.” He was wearing a “hoax device” that was evidently intended to confuse authorities and others.

But the security detail called in “specialist explosives officers and additional armed officers to deal with the potential threat that” the device posed. They quickly determined it was a fake explosive device.

Three people were hospitalized as a result of the attack, two of whom Amman assaulted and a third was wounded “by glass following the discharge of the police firearm,” according to DAC D’Orsi.

Earlier today, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the stabbings, describing Amman as one of its fighters.

88% of phones “lost” by the researchers were handed into the police by Tokyo residents, compared to 6% of the ones “lost” in New York

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

If you lose your wallet or phone in a big city, it’s probably gone forever, unless that big city is Tokyo:

In 2018, over 545,000 ID cards were returned to their owners by Tokyo Metropolitan Police – 73% of the total number of lost IDs. Likewise, 130,000 mobile phones (83%) and 240,000 wallets (65%) found their way back. Often these items were returned the same day.

“When I was living in San Francisco, I remember a news story about someone in Chinatown who lost their wallet and someone else turned it in to the police,” says Kazuko Behrens, a psychologist from SUNY Polytechnic Institute, New York, US. It was such a rare case that the finder was interviewed on the local news channel and given the title “Honest man”. Such acts of ostensible integrity aren’t such a rarity in Behrens’s native Japan. “For [Japanese people] it is like, ‘Yeah! Of course they would hand it in.’“. In some ways it has become more rare if you don’t turn in a wallet. That would be a real surprise.

[...]

The officers based at Japan’s small neighbourhood police stations, called k?ban, have a very different image from police elsewhere. These stations are abundant in cities (in Tokyo there are 97 per 100 square kilometres, compared to 11 police stations per 100 square kilometres in London) meaning you are never too far from help.

The officers stationed at the k?ban are friendly – they are known to scold misbehaving teens or help the elderly cross the road. “If a child sees a police officer on the road, they usually greet them,” says Masahiro Tamura, a lawyer and law professor at Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan. “For the elderly living in the neighbourhood, police officers will call upon their residence to make sure they are alright.”

[...]

In a study comparing dropped phones and wallets in New York and Tokyo, 88% of phones “lost” by the researchers were handed into the police by Tokyo residents, compared to 6% of the ones “lost” in New York. Likewise, 80% of Tokyo wallets were handed in compared to 10% in New York. The abundance of police stations must make it easier, but is there something else going on?

Oddly, there is an exception:

Lost umbrellas, on the other hand, are rarely retrieved by their owners. Of the 338,000 handed in to Lost Property in Tokyo in 2018, only 1% found their way back to their owner.

Where do you want to be if the bad guy suddenly regains consciousness with a gun in his hand?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Greg Ellifritz looks at the Texas church attack and discusses post-shooting procedures:

Given the fact that you have at least five people on the volunteer security team, how would you optimally deploy those individuals after the threat is neutralized?  Seriously.  Stop right now and think about it.  Before reading further, think about what the security team’s priorities should be after the immediate threat is no longer active.

The security staff member who took the shot approached the bad guy, kicked his gun away from him and covered the lifeless body. This is a very common reaction, especially in police shootings. I would argue that approaching the down bad guy and kicking his gun away isn’t the best course of action.

The bad guy may be playing dead. He may also be momentarily unconscious, but not out of the fight When people fall to the ground, it’s easier to get blood circulating to the brain. The person you assumed was dead may suddenly regain consciousness on the ground. Low blood pressure from hypovolemic shock reduces blood flow to the brain. When the body falls, the circulatory system doesn’t have to fight gravity any more and many times people will spontaneously “wake up.”

Where do you want to be if the bad guy suddenly regains consciousness with a gun in his hand?

I would argue that standing over the now animate armed bad guy is a poor place to be.

There’s no need to separate him from the weapon if you have enough people to cover him with a lethal force threat option. Approaching the down bad guy is dangerous. Don’t do it.

Instead, move forward only far enough that there are no innocent parties between you and the downed criminal. Get behind whatever cover you can find (the church pews would work pretty well in this case). From that position of cover, keep your gun trained on the bad guy until police arrive.

Who should do this job if you have more than one security staff member available?

I would argue that the shooter may not be the best person to perform this role. After the shooting, adrenaline will start affecting the guy who took the shot faster than the other people on the team. His hands will likely start shaking. Sometimes those folks will also get nauseous or light-headed. Do you really want the shaky-handed guy who is about to throw up covering down on the bad guy until the police arrive?

If I had five armed security staff members in a shooting like this, I would assign a different person to cover the bad guy and move the shooter to a someplace quiet and non-threatening until the cops arrive.

This kingpin strategy increased homicides by 80 percent

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

The record shows that removing leaders often leads to more chaotic violence, Max Abrahms points out:

In January 2016, Mexican marines captured Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the longtime head of the Sinaloa Cartel. Taking him off the streets made the gang bloodier than ever before. Not only did the amount of violence increase, but the target selection expanded to include innocent bystanders. A gang member who worked for a contemporary of El Chapo compared the type of cartel violence before and after the arrest: “If we wanted to kill you and you turned up with your wife and children, we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t touch you. Now, they don’t give a damn … If they see you in a taco stand, they’ll come and shoot it up.”

More systematically, the economists Jason Lindo and María Padilla-Romo examined the effects of targeting high-ranking gang members on Mexican homicide rates from 2001 to 2010. This “kingpin strategy,” they found, increased homicides by 80 percent in the municipalities where the leaders had operated for at least one year.

Many militant groups have also become less restrained toward civilians after the death or imprisonment of senior figures. In 1954, the British launched Operation Anvil to stamp out the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya. Capturing leaders around Nairobi initiated a period of uncoordinated, rudderless violence. South Africa’s African National Congress also became less tactically disciplined when its leadership was marginalized. In 1961, the ANC established an armed wing called Umkhonto we Sizwe, which came to be known as the MK. Leadership stressed the value of “properly controlled violence” to spare civilians. For three years, MK members complied by studiously avoiding terrorist attacks. After Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, however, young men in the ANC engaged in stone throwing, arson, looting, and brutal killings of civilians. The political scientist Gregory Houston observed that “the removal of experienced and respected leaders … created a leadership vacuum” that empowered undisciplined hotheads. When Filipino police assassinated the Abu Sayyaf founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, in 1998, the group devolved into a movement of bandits that preyed on private citizens. When Nigerian police summarily executed the Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf, in 2009, the terrorist organization also turned ruthless against civilians. And the al-Qaeda–linked rebel group Ahrar al-Sham became even more radical after a 2014 attack on its headquarters, in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria, took out its leadership.

The theory that removing leaders results in worse violence is supported by more than mere anecdote. In a couple of peer-reviewed studies, I’ve tested whether killing the leader of a militant group makes that group more tactically extreme. Across conflict zones from the Afghanistan-Pakistan to the Israel-Palestine theaters, my co-authors and I found that militant groups significantly increase their attacks against civilians after an operationally successful strike against their leadership. Vengeance is not the main driver, as the overall quantity of violence changes less than the quality does. So-called leadership decapitation does not elicit a paroxysm of violence, but makes it more indiscriminate against innocent civilians.

Leadership decapitation promotes terrorism by empowering subordinates with less restraint toward civilians. In empirical research, I’ve demonstrated that militant groups fare better politically when they direct their violence at military and other government targets rather than civilians. Unlike guerrilla attacks against government targets, terrorist attacks against civilian targets tend to reduce popular support, empower hard-liners, and, most important, lower the odds of government concessions. But lower-level members, compared with their superiors, are less likely to grasp that attacking civilians does not pay.

[...]

Of course, not all militant leaders appreciate the folly of terrorism or possess the organizational clout to prevent operatives from perpetrating it. To a large extent, the effects of targeted killing thus depend on the type of leader killed. As I predicted in October, the death of the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did not increase the group’s terrorist attacks, because he had favored maximum carnage against civilians and exercised limited control over his subordinates, particularly “lone wolves” who simply declared their rhetorical allegiance to him. Leadership decapitation is most likely to increase terrorism when the leader understood the strategic value of tactical restraint toward civilians and imposed his targeting restraint on the rank and file. A salient example is the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which ramped up their terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians when their leadership was crushed during the Second Intifada.

California’s mandated background checks had no impact on gun deaths

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

A joint study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that California’s mandated background checks had no impact on gun deaths:

In 1991, California simultaneously imposed comprehensive background checks for firearm sales and prohibited gun sales (and gun possession) to people convicted of misdemeanor violent crimes. The legislation mandated that all gun sales, including private transactions, would have to go through a California-licensed Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. Shotguns and rifles, like handguns, became subject to a 15-day waiting period to make certain all gun purchasers had undergone a thorough background check.

It was the most expansive state gun control legislation in America, affecting an estimated one million gun buyers in the first year alone. Though costly and cumbersome, politicians and law enforcement agreed the law was worth it.

The legislation would “keep more guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them,” said then-Republican Gov. George Deukmejian.

“I think the new laws are going to help counter the violence,” said LAPD spokesman William D. Booth.

More than a quarter of a century later, researchers at Johns Hopkins and UC Davis dug into the results of the sweeping legislation. Researchers compared yearly gun suicide and homicide rates over the 10 years following implementation of California’s law with 32 control states that did not have such laws.

They found “no change in the rates of either cause of death from firearms through 2000.”

White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers

Monday, January 6th, 2020

A recent study published in PNAS looked at officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings:

There is widespread concern about racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings and that these disparities reflect discrimination by White officers. Existing databases of fatal shootings lack information about officers, and past analytic approaches have made it difficult to assess the contributions of factors like crime. We create a comprehensive database of officers involved in fatal shootings during 2015 and predict victim race from civilian, officer, and county characteristics. We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.

Odds of Civilian Being White vs. Black or Hispanic

Instead, race-specific crime strongly predicts civilian race. This suggests that increasing diversity among officers by itself is unlikely to reduce racial disparity in police shootings.

Does this mean that Hollywood movies actually reduce crime?

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

Bryan Caplan discusses the social conservatism of Hollywood:

The message of all this cinema: Follow the path of bourgeois virtue.  Work hard, keep the peace, abstain from alcohol, have very few sexual partners, and keep your whole family far away from anyone who lives otherwise.  Think about how many fictional characters would have lived longer if they never set foot in a bar.

Is this the message the writers intend to send?  Unlikely.  Instead, they try to create engrossing stories — and end up weaving morality tales.

[...]

Does this mean that Hollywood movies actually reduce crime? I doubt it. The viewers most in need of lessons in bourgeois virtue are probably too impulsive to reflect on the moral of the story. They’re captivated instead by the gunplay and machismo. Yet if you’re paying attention, the moral of these stories remains: Unless your parents are criminals, listen to your parents.

Serving Him in the Real World

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

I was not expecting to stumble across an Atlantic video-profile on John Correia and Active Self Protection:

“If you can’t be safe, be dangerous.”

Initial analysis of the White Settlement church shooting

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

John Correia of Active Self Protection broke his usual 72-hour rule to provide an initial analysis of the White Settlement church shooting, because there was surveillance footage available:

The hot spots on the suicide map and the hot spots on the homicide map would coincide

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

BJ Campbell points to geographic evidence that gun deaths are cultural:

I was recently pointed to a pretty amazing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) project hosted by The Oregonian, which uses CDC data and population rate data to determine the gun death rate, gun homicide rate, and gun suicide rate within the country on a county by county basis. [...] Deaths are expressed as rates per 100,000 population, and above average rates are red, while below average rates are blue.

Gun deaths per 100k people

We hear a lot of banter from the “anti-gun” media that these problems are gun problems, and they’ve concocted this “gun deaths” number in order to lump these into the same problem and gloss over the differences. But if the problem were “guns,” then the hot spots on the suicide map and the hot spots on the homicide map would coincide, and would be related to gun ownership rates. There are only a few places where they overlap. Most of the hot zones for suicide have low homicide rates, and most of the hot zones for homicide have low suicide rates.

Gun homicides per 100k people

Gun suicides per 100k people

Poor black folks have a gun homicide problem, while poor white folks have a gun suicide problem.

American Nations Today

The break between systemic firearm suicide and sporadic firearm suicide within the south is almost directly foretold by the boundaries between Greater Appalachia and the Deep South.

It’d be hard to imagine a more powerful asset for criminals

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

Wes Siler’s friend Joe had his MacBook and iPad stolen from the back of a locked car over Thanksgiving:

So far, so normal, right? Well, the thieves only broke the small window immediately adjacent to where his devices were hidden and only took the backpack containing them. Police told him it was likely they’d used a Bluetooth scanner to target his car and even located exactly where his devices were before breaking into it.

When he texted me about what happened, I turned to Google to see what a Bluetooth scanner was and immediately found dozens of smartphone apps. The first one I downloaded didn’t just show me the signal strengths it detected, it also listed the specific types of devices and even displayed pictures of them—you know, for easy identification. Using signal strength as a distance meter, I found the phone my fiancée misplaced before she went to work. Another app displayed a live list of the devices commuters had in their cars while driving past my house. These apps are free and take no technical know-how or experience whatsoever to use. While they aren’t designed specifically to aid thieves (developers need tools like these when designing Bluetooth accessories), it’d be hard to imagine a more powerful asset for criminals.