Sunday, March 18, 2018

Late Night Reflections on Violence


It’s a difficult subject to understand, but not necessarily hard to write about.  You will find an Internet of academic papers, first-hand stories, armchair quarterbacks and trolls with well-written articles if you search for them.

Aaron Cowan at Breach Bang Clear does a very good presentation. Jeff Cooper’s “Principles of Defense” adds a worthy dimension to the topic.  I’m currently working through Cory Miller’s Meditation on Violence, at least as far as Amazon will let me read.  I ordered a copy to read from the library system.     

Cory points out that most training (both gun and fighting) is a product of the instructor’s world view.  They see an attack or situation developing in certain ways and address those ways.  I’ve often wondered about that when I played Kung Fu and Tai Chi.  One of my instructors was a giant of a man, taller than 6 foot 4 inches.  He preferred distant attacks and defends, always assuming you would see the attack from a distance and never experience a hell for leather, suicidal, meth driven rage.  He hated ground fighting.  So these skills were not taught.

While not a fan of UFC cage matches, ask yourself when was the last time you saw a fighter eye gouge or kick his opponent in the nuts so hard he lifted him off the floor? 

I don’t want to discuss fighting styles.  I just you want to think about the assumptions and limitations that are built in to all training.

Very few people have experienced enough forms of violence to talk in generalities.  The violence you experience at 1am when your door gets kicked is different from what the soldier in combat experiences, or the police officer responding to a ‘man with a gun call,’ or a woman experiencing domestic violence at the hands of a drunk.  While they have common features they are all different!

But there are some generalities.

Violence is a tool.  It is neither good nor evil.  What we do with it determines that.

Imagine a school shooting.  Dickless walks in, pulls a gun and shoots a student and looks around for a second student.  The school security officer happens to walk in seconds after the shot is fired, pulls his gun and shoots Dickless, ending the tragedy.

What’s the difference?
In both cases one round is wordlessly discharged and one unsuspecting person is shot.  From a mechanical view both acts are the same.  But are they?

I would say the difference is intent.
Dickless is selfish, satisfying his personal desires while initiating unnecessary harm and creating chaos.  The officer protects the innocent, reduces chaos and starts to restore order.  He is altruistic as he is well aware of the shit storm ahead of him.

Violence isn’t always unexpected and extreme. 
I say usually because the battered women knows her drunken spouse will find some excuse which he blames on her and the violence will escalate.  Even this simple statement is filled with layers of conflicting processes.

I was at a graduation party for a college friend of mine when Mandy asked that we take the keys from her boyfriend Bob who had too much to drink and now wants to drive home.  He clearly had too much alcohol.

My friend and I talked for about 20 minutes but Bob kept moving to the exit with car keys in hand.  Despite our urging and pleas from Mandy, Bob kept the keys.  Seeing the future, I grabbed him and my friend physically took the car keys away.  Bob was pissed and amused, an odd combination later explained.  Mandy said she would drive so we gave her the keys.

Bob turned to her and said, “Mandy, give me the keys.”  Mandy did so in an eye blink.  That’s conflicting processes at work.

This is a trivial example, but it indicates that surface appearances of actions including violence are seldom that simple.

Because of the disorienting nature of violence you have very little time to respond.  Get suckered gut punched in a bar.  If you don’t have something in the experience bank and in training, it will be the rare person that can cobble something together in the fractional seconds until the second blow.

No, I don’t suggest you get in a bar fight.  I suggest you get some experience you can draw on.  The OODA loop works when there is both skill and experience to work with.

Violence will usually be thrust on you when you are least prepared to deal with it.  War might be the perfect example.  The cagy commander wants to catch his opponent before he is prepared and in a position of strength.  While this doesn’t happen often, read a little about anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic during WWII.  The US fliers wanted nothing more but to catch a crippled Nazi sub on the surface or connected to a refueling sub by hoses, steel cables and with their hatches open.  Fair?  Hell no, it was war.

The successful response to violence will necessarily be more violence.  Your response to the sucker gut punch might be twisting slightly to take the punch on your rib case and simply propel your hand open fingered into his face to buy time.  Then you have to do something else.

And frankly a firearm or knife isn’t the answer to every problem.  Are you going stab Uncle Fud at the family Christmas party because he’s drunk and copped a feel from your wife or shoot tipsy Aunt Myra who wants to see if your husband is aroused?

But it might be the answer if a drunk charges out of the ally holding a brick overhead.

I would suggest you put some training into different aspects of violence.  Did you ever think that reading books on salesmanship would assist you in disengaging Fud and Myra from your spouse without ruining the holidays?

I ran a Tueller-like drill with a moveable cardboard target.  It was surprising how many good IDPA shooters had trouble drawing and getting a round off when attacked by a cardboard target.  Can you draw and shoot one handed?  What about from a seated position?  Could you do it from inside a car trunk?  On the ground lying on your gun side?

Ever thought about shadow boxing your way through a sucker punch?  Just mentally thinking about your response and then acting it out? 

Think about that home invasion at 1am.  Did you think it out or maybe walk through it?  
It might be:
A loud noise awakens you and you say what hell was that?  Roll out of bed, scoop the weapon.  Flashlight? Reload?  Head to bedroom door.  Do you have to knock your spouse to the ground to get them out safely out of the way?  Do you tell them call the police, or do they know to do that?  Maybe they are arming themselves to back stop you before calling 9-1-1?

So what am I saying?  Study violence and its occurrences.  Like my Kung Fu instructor we will want to dismiss occurrences that don’t fit our world view.  Don’t do that.  Embrace those occurrences and look for a response. 

Different levels of violence surround us and shape our world.  We need to understand what it is and how it accomplishes that to be better prepared to deal with it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Reflections on Tragedy

Condolences and prayers.  Governors order flags at half-staff.  We call them insane and mentally ill, even if we don’t fully understand what mental illness entails.  It doesn’t explain it.

They are simply evil.

Some Dickless Asshole (This Blog never mentions the name of spree shooters.  They can find their “Fame” elsewhere.) decides he wants to be a professional school shooter and kills helpless children and one adult at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida.

There’s a lot of outcry from the general public.  The FBI should have done something.  What that something is isn’t stated.  We don’t arrest people for making outrageous claims on YouTube. If we did, half of Hollywood and most of our sports teams and all of the sportswriters would be in jail.  Talk radio would be a barren field of static.

NICS should have flagged Dickless, critics say.  HIPAA laws make the use of medical records without the consent of the patient illegal.  Using social media as a medical diagnostic tool might be a step worse than reading tea leaves.

An NPR media person indicated that Florida is considering a law which would allow a person to be taken into protective custody if it is thought the person might be a danger to themselves.  That’s more than a little scary.  Imagine the police showing up with a pre-crime warrant for your evaluation because of e-mail or something you posted on a blog or Facebook. 

Evaluation?  Remember the person interviewing you is paid to determine if you’ll hurt yourself or someone else.  They aren’t doing their job if they don’t find you dangerous.  Everyone, under the right circumstances, can be more than a little dangerous to themselves and others.  No, I think they’ll unjustly find a lot of people with the potential to harm themselves.

Society is demanding change, even if it doesn’t accomplish anything.  The NRA stands opposed to it.

Still, this is fight the NRA might lose. 

Society has changed.  We are no longer the rural community, where boys and girls learned about firearms from fathers, mothers, uncles, and grandparents.  I’m not convinced that today’s average 18 year old has the same maturity as most 18 years did in the early 1900s.  Maybe having to contribute to the family purse with a job since you were 14 or having spent the last 12 years at farm chores in addition to attending school gave them a different maturity. 

In any case let’s change the age required to purchase a gun to 25.  That’s any gun, airsoft, BB or .22LR.  Most youngsters don’t fully understand all the repercussions of their decisions until they are in the mid to late 20s. 

And no, I don’t see this as a slippery slope argument.  Our society limits access to many things based on age.  That’s why you don’t see 12 year olds behind the wheel of a car.  You’re not blocked from owning a gun, just delayed till your 25 birthday.  This doesn’t prevent them from participating in the shooting sports.  It just means their parents have to provide the weapons and be present to take responsibility for the firearms. 

There a practical side to this as well.  That gives anti-social Dickless Assholes more years to screw up bad enough to bring them to the attention of the legal system, which would now have the power to deal with them.

And I think our schools can do better.  Can teachers be trained to recognize that a personality is degrading?  We know some of the hallmarks: grades suddenly declining, dropping old friends and becoming more of a loner, increased absenteeism and behavior problems.  We can provide our teachers the training to recognize potential problems. 

Can we help them build bridges to the students so they trust teachers and administrators?  Can guidance counselors discuss problems and solutions with parents without fear of blowback?  Can we demand they follow through to see if the parents are engaged with the child to find a solution? 

Sure we can.  Yes, it’s going to cost money and we taxpayers are on the hook.  That’s not a complaint. 

Lastly, let’s recognize it takes a good guy with a gun to stop Dickless Asshole with a gun.  Look, we already live in an armed camp.  Criminals don’t care what law they break and carry when they want.  Most communities participate in CCW so you’re already living in an armed camp.

Our last best option is allowing teachers with CCW, who wish to, to carry in school and at all school events.  Additional training isn’t a bad idea.

Is it that simple?  No, but it’s a start.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Once There Was A Zap

A Zap!
This was once an important piece of equipment for every police officer in the world.  In some places it still is, but not so much in America.  A recent episode of Blue Bloods had Danny admit he carried one despite department policy. 

It’s a blackjack and it’s a primitive impact weapon.  Most beat cops, until the late 70’s, were on their own.  They had call boxes which were connected to the precinct, if they could get to them. 
official police call in keys
Keys to traffic control box and police call in box.
They also carried whistles which could summon help, if another cop was in earshot and could find them.  Mostly they were on their own.  A couple ounces of lead on the end of a 5-inch flexible shaft could mean the difference between the morgue, hospital or home.

Things change and we need to keep up.  One change you might have problems accepting is the prevalence of video cameras.  Let me tell you a tale…

When 72-year Philip Snider showed up at home after a visit to Graceland, his children didn’t ask how the trip was.  What they wanted to know was, “Where’s mom, dad?”

Philip told his yarn of mom passing at the hotel and how he flagged down an EMT vehicle.  The EMTs pronounced her DOA, loaded her up in the ambulance and said they’d take care of it.  Sadly, Philip neglected to ask where they were taking the body and mom simply disappeared.

This didn’t satisfy the kids or the local police.  They checked all the possible hospitals, morgues, and funeral parlors and came up with zip.  Then they checked the video tapes at the hotel, at toll plazas, gas stations, hell they probably checked you tube.

They never found an image of mom.  When confronted, dad admitted that mom died on the way from Ohio to Tennessee and he slipped her into a trash bag and recycled her into the Tennessee River.  The holidays this year aren’t going to be much fun for the Snider clan.

So what am I trying to tell you?  Simply there will always be a video camera recording you.  It may be a smart phone that only captures the middle and end of the event.  It may be a video recorder build into a GPS in a truck or built into a car.  It could be the camera over the counter in a store, but if your story doesn’t match the video, expect problems.

The days when you could turn a conflict into he said-I said are going away.  You can’t easily argue that the witness didn’t see or misinterpreted what they saw when there‘s video, sometime from several different angles.  How long will it be, do you think, before everyday Joes are wearing a camera?  Sound fantastic?  Well, they are already carrying cameras now.

What do we do?  Change with them.  You’ll wear a camera or at least a sound recording device.  Be polite, and we know to avoid trouble if possible, de-escalate when you can, and watch what you say before and after.

Because you’re the new candid camera star. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Tactics

Christmas time is a unique holiday in western civilization.  It has both religious and materialistic components that we celebrate.  Most people find balance or at least some degree of harmony between what appears to be conflicting values.

This Christmas time, like so many past ones and ones to come, we remain at war.  It may not be a classic shooting war or even a cold war eyeball-to-eyeball brinkmanship contest, but we are at war.  Extremists of all ilk remain dedicated to the success of their chosen path and we remain their target, but not their sole target.

Often our news media down play acts of terrorism overseas, as not important, wrong end of the news cycle or not in their interest to cover.  One such story barely covered was the killing of 7 and wounding of another 20 by a suicide bomber at a Christian Church in Pakistan Dec 17 2017.  ISIS claims to be responsible, but ISIS is a known limelight hog.

Don’t believe the targets are only Christians or Jews.  Earlier this month another suicide bomber killed 18 people at a Muslim Sufi shrine.

ISIS Propaganda aimed at England.  How many weak mind people will fall for this dreek?
The NY pipe bomber claimed he was motivated by the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our celebration of Christmas.

The holidays are no excuse to become complacent. 

No, I don’t want you look for ninjas under tables or organizing evening sentries in your neighborhood.  Nor do I want you to skip religious celebrations or secular festivities. I would suggest you continue to take what I would consider normal precautions.

Stay armed.  Even at church people don’t have to know you have a sidearm and a reload.

Inquire and suggest that your temple, church, shrine, festivity consider extra security.  Almost every organization knows an off-duty cop or two who would like to earn a holiday bonus.
Keep your cell phone on and charged, just silence the ringer. 

Carry a knife, small flashlight, an emergency first aid kit as well as car keys, cash, credit card and licenses.  Dress for the weather, not the car trip over.  You might have to hoof it a block or four with what you’re wearing in any weather.

Keep your eyes open and watch for the ‘odd sock’ or thing that doesn’t belong.

If you see something not right, act.  No, I don’t mean draw your weapon (but that could be the proper response), but bail out, withdraw, retreat.  Make sure everyone in your party knows what’s expected of them and where to meet if they are separated.  It could be the car, the gate or a traffic light a block away.

Ignore authority’s orders to remain in place.  Their concerns are about order, containment, procedures and authority, not your safety.  The first minute of confusion may be your best chance to escape.  Make use of it.

Limit your alcohol consumption.  Have a beer, wine or mixed drink and then make the next two non-alcoholic.

Being tactical doesn’t always mean selecting a position where you can see both doors (although it would help) or pre-identifying what’s cover and what’s concealment (but that’s not a bad idea).  Sometimes your best tactical moves are simply to recognize the limitations of what you are doing and having a plan and back-up plan.

Have a Merry Christmas, no matter how you celebrate it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today's Lesson

It’s not often I find an article that nails several concepts at once.
Binh Thai Luc was recently convicted in the 2012 hammer-killing of a family of five after losing money at a casino earlier in the evening.  Dickless has a violent criminal history and spent almost a decade in prison for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for a 1996 armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant in San Jose.
He was ordered to be deported to his native Vietnam upon his release, but the Vietnamese government didn’t provide the documents needed to process his removal from the U.S.  ICE officials released him into the community in 2006.
His lawyer proposed a TODDI defense, despite finding and identifying the victim’s blood on his pants and the presence of Dickless’s blood on a pack of cigarettes, a receipt and a cabinet drawer.
Here’s my first take away.  Lawyers will present in court a version of reality and it doesn’t have to have any relationship to what we commonly call reality.  It’s up to the jury to decide who has the story that best fits their version of reality.  It could be up to you, the defendant in a self-defense shooting, to help them expand their version of self-defense reality.  You may not be able to hire experts, but you can always testify.  Are you up to it?
TODDI? Oh, that’s the defense which claims “Those Other Dudes Done It.”  In this case the lawyer blamed it on the Chinese Mob or a unnamed boyfriend.
Second take away.  Dickless used a hammer.  No waiting period, no background check, can be bought anywhere and it has multiple purposes other than killing people.  Hopefully it is clear that objects in themselves have no intrinsic good or bad nature.  People do wicked and bad things.
Third take away,  Dickless’s victims were unable or unwilling to defend themselves effectively.  Dickless had a disparity of force the victims were unable to match and exceed.  Of course that is the nature of all attacks.  Few armies would survive by attacking a larger, better armed and prepared enemy in a superior position.  Criminals are the same.  The armed citizen should have both a tool and mental toughness.
Fourth takeaway.  The victims were known to keep a reservoir of cash.  Clearly, your business should remain your business and kept among adults who know how to keep information confidential.
The last take away is political preaching.  Dickless should have been expatriated to Vietnam in 2006 following his incarceration for the 1996 armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant.  It appears Vietnam didn’t want him back either.  Let’s stop focusing on illegal aliens who want to be law-abiding and contributing members of our society and worry about the violent felons, drug dealers, and gangsters who are tearing down our society.
There’s a line in the sand we need to find. I don’t care about an illegal with 3 parking tickets and not paying his income tax.  I care about the illegal or citizen on this third drunk driving conviction in a year, the guy selling dope to your kids and guys driving or yanking the trigger in a drive-by.  Let’s put them on a plane and send them back home and keep the people (from wherever they come and however they arrive) who want to be part of the solution.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Basics 7

Shot placement or caliber?  Which side of the argument do you come down on?  It’s a variation of the ice breaking question, “What’s the best caliber for self-defense?” 

Stripped of arguments about how we measure power, what is the primary target, bullet performance and what is stopping power, it’s really about your ability.  And ability changes over time, doesn’t it.

Bub starts shooting with a 22 pistol and after a reasonable period he’s pretty good with it, but not so hot with the 1911 .45 ACP.  With time Bub masters that skill and becomes proficient with the .500 S&W.  Later as the effects of age and injury rob him, Bub finds he can’t control the recoil of the big bores and no longer has the tack driving accuracy he once had.  Shooting anything larger than a .380 ACP is no longer fun.

So what’s Bub to do?  I see shooters dealing with all points in this story and I expect this to happen to me and you.

Let’s ignore the silly solutions: air soft, BB guns, .22 CB cap, or rubber band guns shooting paper clips dipped in nitroglycerin.

Likewise, how many of us will find, realistically, a raging stoned, meth head in our kitchen?  And as much as I follow the religion of the one shot stop, I know that’s a largely impotent god.  (Sorry Evan Marshall!)

Even shot placement, where I genuflect, how many times do you think you’ll be able to consciously aim at the heart’s right atrium or the brain’s medulla oblongata?

I was going to post an image of someone else’s idea of priority targets on a person, but instead look at the angle views and you decide where to aim.  Now  put a shirt and pants over him and pick your aiming points.  2-D flat targets are so much easier…

Massad Ayoob use to tell his LFI classes, as I remember, to shoot the most powerful gun you can control in rapid fire.

The words control and rapid are the key to unraveling this discussion.  Your ability to control in rapid fire any caliber gun is the important factor.  Hitting a violent criminal offender in the chest 3 times with a .22 LR in 1 second counts more to your survival than 2 misses in the same time with a .45 ACP

So the answer to the ice breaking question, “Which is more important, shot placement or caliber?” is neither.  Your ability to rapidly and accuracy hit with the gun you’re holding is the answer and one of the keys to survival.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Teach Your Daughters To Hit

Teach Your Daughters To Hit Someone Who Touches Them

It’s one of my favorite blog/websites.  I’m reposting because I believe in what it says and I feel it has value to the community.  I do have a few remarks and here they are:
Many of the readers responded that in many school systems it’s a felony to use violence, even in self-defense.  That this record could follow you and prevent you from joining the military, getting clearance or a job.  Others point out that jobs and some schools have policies that require your immediate dismissal.

I believe this is empowers the creeps who know the treat of dismissal or a felony charge will make their victim complacent.  One only has to look at the Hollywood-Harvey Weinstein scandal to understand this.  I can’t change the world, but we can by insisting our schools and place of employment treat self-defense is a right and not an option to be conveniently discarded.

I’m clearly on the kick ‘em in the nuts and break their fingers side and I if I had a daughter  (or son for that matter) I’d tell her what David says and that’s we’ll find a solution for the aftermath later.

David Reeder:
“Teach your daughters, goddaughters, and nieces to fight. If you can’t, then pay someone to, and teach them that violence is acceptable. Teach them to hit people who touch them. Not tell the teacher, not complain to the Human Resources department, to hit them, as viciously as possible, immediately and publicly.

Testicles, throats, eyes — they’re all vulnerable.

Violence may not always be the answer, but when it is the answer, it’s usually the only answer. Including when, perhaps especially when, someone touches them without permission.

Speaking strictly to my nieces and goddaughters, I say: you bring me the scrotum of some dude who grabbed your boob or your butt, girls. I’ll reward you and turn it into a tobacco pouch.  I’d hold forth and talk more about this, but Jeff Rouner of the Houston Press already has, and he did a great job of it.

Jeff Rouner:
“I’ve started telling my daughter that if someone touches her chest, her ass or between her legs without her permission, to punch them in the goddamn face. Aim for the nose, Sweetheart. You don’t want to catch their teeth and get a cut. That’s a good way to get an infection. You want nose or eyes, and maybe use that front choke Daddy taught you. Turn your forearms so the bone goes against their carotid and jugular. That’s what makes them pass out.

Can she get in trouble for violence at school? Yes, she can, and should. Violence is illegal. Note: I didn’t say wrong. I said illegal. The two are not synonyms.
Is violence the ideal answer to sexual harassment? Of course it isn’t. The ideal answer is living in a world where this sort of thing is swiftly dealt with at all levels of authority with a zero-tolerance policy. Anytime y’all want to make that happen, you let me know. Until then, I’m teaching my daughter the proper way to throw a punch, and if you don’t like it, teach your kids the proper way to act.

Answering physical assault with physical assault is perfectly appropriate, and I have long since stopped caring about the concept of polite when it comes to those who feel boundaries are optional….”

David Reeder:
“Fuckin’ A.”

So there you have it.  Personally I suspect that no school or business wants the publicity what would come from institutionalizing sexual violence by prohibiting self-defense.  My experience is organizations suddenly go silent when you offer to take it to the press.