Tuesday, April 25, 2017

And BATF says….


The world can be confusing at times.

If you own an AR pistol and you put an arm brace on it you may have been tempted to throw it up on to your shoulder. Most of us Range Lawyers had an opinion on whether or not that converts a pistol to an NFA short barrel rifle requiring a tax stamp.

Most of you also know there has been a series of letters going back and forth between the BATF and concerned citizens and corporate lawyers.

So far, this seems to be the clearest presentation on the current BATF letter dated March 22 2017.  http://www.breachbangclear.com/brace-yourself-for-atf-opinions/

It’s interesting reading as you get an understanding of government organization mindset and a bit of the history.  If you own an AR pistol you might want to read it to keep yourself out of trouble as well as to help explain why it may not be illegal to shoulder your AR pistol.  I can think of at least one range where a good understanding of BATF's letter would be very useful. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Paving the Road to Hell....


It seems like every day we are assaulted with news of a killing/murder.  But we can learn important lessons from these incidents.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports on March 20 2017 William Knight shot and killed Keith Johnson.  The conflict started over what was later identified as a stolen dirt bike.

While I’m writing this the investigation is still ongoing.  There was just an editorial in the same paper and it is still too early to know if Mr. Knight was justified or not.  Everything that follows is gleaned from the ABJ, which under the best of conditions is a third hand source and important details are missed.  Still there are a few lessons we can learn.

Before we start, let’s remember I’m not a lawyer and these are my opinion.

Background to death
Knight’s son-in-law believed he had found an internet ad selling his stolen dirt bike and arranged for a meeting.  It had been arranged that a police officer would accompany them, but at the last moment the officer was unable to attend.  Knight, with his daughter and her husband, decided to keep the meeting, probable fearing the bike would be sold and lost to them. 

Loading the hand basket
Knight’s daughter contact 9-1-1 when she felt the meeting was escalating towards violence.  It is never a mistake to get the professional moving.  The presence of police often stabilizes conflicts and at the very least, helps determine who started out as the good guys.  After all, who calls the police, good guys or bad guys?

At some point in the meeting Mr. Johnson attempted to drive away on the dirt bike and the son-in-law grabbed the dirt bike in an attempt to restrain Johnson.  Things went to hell at this point.

The trip to hell in a hand basket
Knight drew his weapon and shot Johnson.  The daughter tells the 9-1-1 dispatcher her dad just shot someone.  Whatever the daughter said it should have been more along the lines of:  “OH MY GOD!  My dad was just forced to shoot someone in self-defense.  Send help.  We need the EMS and the police.” 

Maybe even better would have been:  “OH MY GOD!  We need police and EMS’s right away!”

Yes, it’s a lot to remember, but if 9-1-1 is functioning properly, it’s recording everything you say.  Make sure you don’t create problem with your words.  Yes, your attorney can explain away poorly selected words as the shocked, confused statement of a person terrified by what she was forced to witness, but why complicate your life.  It’s going to get a lot more complicated.

Knight took the cell phone from his daughter and spoke directly to the dispatcher.  This is where things take an even worse turn for Knight.  Talking directly to the dispatcher, Knight attempted to explain the situation.  Here my understanding of the subtext.  Under stress and shock of being forced to commit an act abhorrent to normal people, many will suffer from logorrhea.  It’s from the Greek meaning an outpouring of words.

Knight told the dispatcher he fired his gun to protect his family and he had no choice.  We don’t really know if that’s true.  It seems reasonable that if the son-in-law let go of the bike, Johnson would have driven away.  During the trial Knight’s attorney will have to prove that Johnson would have driven over someone, or dragged someone behind causing grave or fatal bodily harm and such harm would have been unavoidable.  The dirt bike gives him a disparity of force, but did Johnson act in a manner what would imply he was about to apply this force?  We’ll see what the court case produces.  If Knight would not have spoken to the dispatcher and discussed it instead with his lawyer, perhaps better words could have been chosen to explain his actions. 

Knight continues to talk, telling the dispatcher it’s dark and he’s not sure where he shot Johnson, but he thinks it’s in the chest.  It’s later discovered Johnson was shot in the head.  Not knowing what you shot at is almost a textbook definition of reckless and indifference to human suffering.  As far as Knight knew, the bullet could have been heading at his son-in-law, an occupied dwelling or the person he intended to shoot.  Again, the attorney will have to show how this wasn’t reckless, but the words of a man repulsed by being forced to take human life now trying to mitigate the consequences to his subconscious.

Knight should have told the dispatcher, “He forced me to defend my family.  We need police and EMS.” 

I would have moved everyone back, asked if anyone else was hurt, asked other people to call 911 and kept the gun pointed in a safe direction.  When the police arrived I recommend you put the gun on the ground and stand on it with your hands up.  Follow their instructions to the letter.

At least that is what I hope to do on what could be the worst day of my life.

A Pause in Free Fall
A man is dead.  I don’t know if Johnson has children.  We know he has a girlfriend and family.  They will never see him again.  Knight has to live with the fact he killed someone over a $4000 toy.  He’s altered his relationship to everyone he knows and possibly destroyed his daughter’s marriage.

I’d never say you shouldn’t try to retain or recover you property, but really is it worth a bad outcome? And this is a bad outcome for Knight.

He’s being held on a half million dollar bond.  That means he has to give a bail bondsman 50 thousand non-refundable dollars (!!!!) or come up with a 500 thousand in cash or real property to get out.  I’m sure when he finds a lawyer the attorney will tell him to sell his house so he can pay the legal fees.

All this just to recover a $4000 toy.

I’ll have more when it goes to trial.
Stay tuned.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Blue Light

Blue lights to support the police



Every once in a while I hear an idea that just stops me in my tracks.  Chiefly because it is so wrong.

I just heard (from one source) that people were displaying blue lights on their houses to tell the police that there is a firearm present.  When I advised the person this wasn’t required by state law, I was informed that it will make it safer for police.  How this occurs wasn’t explained to me.

This is at odds to all the websites I visited.  They claim it is to show solidarity with the police.  That makes much more sense to me. 

But having a public indicator that a firearm is present/stored at this location is stupid.
One: It tells criminals that your house is a one stop shop for guns and ammunition.
Two: Any police officer entering a dwelling and doesn’t suspect weapons are present is a fool.
Three: Why would you want to share that information with anyone?

To me this is the stationary version of having a “Driver doesn’t carry more than $50 in ammunition” bumper sticker on your car.  Why ask for trouble?

Yes, feel free to fly a flag, post a sign or light a light to show your support of the police.  But if the promotion is to mark guns, I wouldn’t do it.
 
You’re free to do it and that’s to my benefit.  They’ll break into your house, not mine.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Knob Creek


The Knob Creek machine gun shoot is coming.
 
The shoot and show will be April 7, 8 and 9.  If you’ve ever wanted to shoot a full auto .50 BMG, this is your chance.  Would you want to try a Thompson machinegun or maybe an Uzi?  It’s possible.  I remember watching a friend shoot a Gatling gun.  He did it at Knob Creek.  There are other machine gun shoots, but Knob Creek, butted against the back side of Fort Knox, Kentucky, is special.

Besides the rentals there is an excellent gun show where you can find just about any gun part you need.  The days of cheap ammo sales are gone, but you can still buy ammo not found at your local gun show.

Ear protection is a must (even if you just stand near the firing line!) and if you want rent a gun, make sure you have eye protection.  The guns are usually soaking wet with oil and it all sprays back at you.  There have been accidents, even deaths.  So go into it with your eyes open.

The best part might be the night shoot.  Watching the tracers bounce off the ground and float upward is amazing and magical.  And just wait for the guy with the flame thrower to come out.  Oh yes, you can rent a flame thrower.  Even safely in back of the crowd you can feel the waves of heat wash over you and you have to wonder what it’s like for the guy in the reflective suit holding the gun.

So, bring money.  Stack all the money you’re going to bring on a table at home.  Put an identical stack next to it.  Bring both.  In this electronic age of smart phones and universal cell coverage, I’d still trust cash over a credit card.

Knob Creek is a rite of passage. 

Just so you know, it’s crowded.  Maybe evenly dangerously crowded and not a place for children.  I haven’t been back in years, but I would recommend bringing bottled water, food and a couple lawn chairs in the back of your car.  Your day or weekend pass gets you in and out of the gate so it’s possible to return to your car to sit down and have a bite to eat maybe even take a little snooze.  Port-a-johns abound and you’ll want hand sanitizer.  Stick around for the night shoot, but understand you’ll spend hours trying to get out after the show.

And if you have the time, stop off at the Patton Museum in Fort Knox.


See more at:  http://www.knobcreekrange.com/

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Holsters

Holster for Glock and light
Glock and Ricky's Holster


I recently had a holster custom made by Ricky’s Holsters for my Glock 17 with a Streamlight TLR-1s gunlight.  You can see some of his work and keep up with him at:                          https://www.facebook.com/Rickysholsters/

I wanted a basic, boring, black, strong-side holster that would accommodate my Glock and gunlight.  I have over the years discovered I prefer a larger gun with light in the winter’s dark months.  I’m usually in an insulated vest, long coats and gloves, so the larger gun works better.  Toss in reduced hours of daylight and typical cloudy Ohio days and the light becomes an important tool.

Ricky did a nice job with an OWB holster.  The light was the difficult part as Streamlight has changed minor components on the light, but when molding form fitting kydex holsters those changes are significant.  Ricky got them all ironed out for me.

Ricky's holsters
Yeah, it's big, but with gloves and heavy coat this really works for me.

I prefer an IWB (in-the-waistband) holster, but the added bulk of the light and my request for an FBI cant made an IWB holster impossibly large to wear.

It took a few practice draws to feel comfortable removing the gun and light and just a couple more to feel confident with re-holstering.  But Ricky is a shooter and uses his experience to fabricate a great holster.

Don’t let the “tactical black” syndrome turn you off.  Ricky works with a variety of kydex colors, patterns and thickness.

I can move the belt loops down to raise the holster or replace them for a wider belt.

I also use this holster for matches both concealed and open.  (Play as you carry.) It’s as comfortable as any other holster for a Glock 17.  I had no trouble drawing from concealment under the clock.


If you’re looking for a holster, plain Jane or sassy Sara, contact Ricky and see what he can do for you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Breaking Support

One of my favorite gun writers has an internet article about pelvic shots.  He does a nice job discussing handgun stopping power and the importance of shot placement.  He has a great point, illustrated by Bat Masterson (the real one, not Gene Barry), that an opponent collapsed on the floor is not the same as out of the fight.

Drawing of the pelvic bones.  The ball and socket of the femur/pelvis are shone.  Your round must be sufficiently "manly" to beak the pelvis so the leg can no longer support body weight
Here’s the inside story on pelvic shots.

One:  The pelvis is a large, massive bone designed to support our weight.  It takes a significant cartridge, both in size, weight and velocity to do sufficient damage to crack the pelvis.  I don’t think a .380 could do it.  I suspect you might need either a magnum load in .38 or better to have a reasonable chance of success.  Failure is very much an option in this undertaking.

Two:  Purposeful pelvis punctures should be reserved for VCA with contact weapons only:  things like baseball bats, knives, and hockey sticks.  The remote control weapons like pistols, rifles and crossbows can still be fired even if the assailant is on the ground.

This is where the pelvis is located.  Lower than you thought?  This takes clear thinking and purposeful aiming, something usually in short supply during an  armed conflict.


Three:  This is more a gut intuition.  A gang (or is it mob?) of VCA with contact weapons have a second level of danger, the disparity of force created by their number.  I don’t believe I would attempt pelvic shots to pin them in place as the levels of success are low.


Remember, immobilization is not the same as incapacitation.  Like so many things, pelvic shots have a place in your tool box, but it is a specialty tool at best.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Match Soapbox

No matter if they are indoor or outside, most tactically orientated pistol competitions are speed and accuracy driven.  Is there more?


Should the shooter have shot the left paper plate from left barricade and then moved to right barricade or just keep pieing around the right corner? 


Both speed and accuracy are components of self-defense, but not the only ones.  The use of tactics is a big one.  Basic gun skills are one.  Using cover and concealment is another.

When was the last time you saw a competitor engage a target with his last round, come back behind cover to reload and then re-engage from a different point of cover?  I suspect the answer is never.  Doing so slows you down and results in a poor score.  But this is a basic tactic.  I’ve watched shooters clear three rooms in 30 seconds with good hits on targets they were unknown to them.  Does that happen in life?
 
First, let’s dismiss the military model.  I’ve talked to Marine and Army personnel.  They enter the building at zero dark thirty, flowing into the building with many armed men.  Their raid is no warrant, no announcement and they shoot anyone who even looks dangerous.  After all it is war.

This model doesn’t work for the armed civilian who needs to get to the room where spouse and/or children are waiting.  Nor does it work for the police who need a warrant and justifiable use of lethal force.  We see what happens when Grandma gets spooked and makes a sudden motion during a raid.

I had a chance to role play the bad guy at TDI several years ago.  I had previously seen the shoot house and they didn’t care if I skipped to the end before my turn.  The team was a professional police team that did house clearance for a living.  It took time for them to work through the house.  Probable 10 minutes, but to me waiting to ambush them, it was hours.  So I have to discount 30 second clearance runs.

All matches are games.  Game isn’t a bad word.  It’s a necessary and useful teaching tool.  It’s only when the game is seen as reality do we have a problem.

I’m interested in games as a way to practice skill sets.  Can we make matches better?
 
How about setting up the CoF with no walk through?  The first time you see it is your turn.  Maybe even after the walk through, ‘no shoot indicators’ could be moved for each shooter?  The safety officer could short the shooter’s magazine.  You couldn’t know on which target you would run out of ammo.  The safety officer could introduce one dummy round forcing a clearance drill for everyone.

No match can be fair to everyone.  Short people get an advantage behind low concealment barriers as compared to the 6 footers in the crowd.  They take it on the chin with tall windows.  So let’s not focus on “fair matches” but on accuracy, tactics and basic skill sets while having fun.

I’d like to see a CoF in which you choose a route A or B.  Going to A means you’ll never see some of B’s targets.  At some point you would choose D, E or F.  Again you would only see some of the targets and not others.  No shooter would ever see all the targets.
 
I’m not sure how you would score that.  Path AC might have 5 head shots and 4 targets at 30 yards.  Path BE might see only 5 center of mass targets at 10 yards.


Any game will show you a thin, realistic slice of life and distort the rest.  The key seems in knowing which is the thin slice and what’s the fat, distorted slice.