Monday, July 30, 2012

Required VS Appropriate

Beacon Journal, July 27 2012.  The front page headline reads “Police Shoot Man to Death.”

The story goes: Mr. Grant led the police on an OJ car chase (slow speed) through Firestone Park.  He stops, gets out and according to the officers, drew a gun.  They ordered him to drop the weapon, he didn’t, the officers fired several shots and Mr. Grant was declared dead at the hospital.  

The newspaper states the police recovered a gun at the scene belonging to Mr. Grant.  Newspapers leave a lot of important stuff out.  

I don’t want to discuss any of that.

What I want to discuss is the difference between police and the armed civilian.  It doesn’t have to be in a CCW context.  It could be in your home.

The police are charged by society and the legal system to use necessary force to maintain the common good.  The civilian is charged with using equal and comparable force to preserve life and the well being of those he protects.

Why the difference?  Well, the police are required to enforce the law, even if it entails some element of danger to themselves.  The citizen can simply turn away and allow the crime to occur or the criminal to escape.  Citizens can even hold someone at gunpoint one moment and the next decide to release him.  The police officer cannot.  Those actions could be construed as dereliction of duty and he better have a very good reason for his actions.

This doesn’t mean that a lone police officer is required to storm a building containing several armed and dangerous men.  He can wait for backup, for specialized (SWAT or STAR) teams to arrive and take over. 

I, a civilian,  don’t even have to report a crime in commission.

I have to use equal and appropriate force.  I can tell a political pollster to leave my property.  If he doesn’t, I can’t run him over with my car.  If you are told by police to stay on the other side of the crime scene tape and you don’t, expect to be pepper sprayed, or tased, or physically manhandled and arrested.  Clearly different standards.

So what does this have to do with us?

CCW does not give you police-like powers.  We can’t use necessary force, only equal and appropriate.  Who gets to decide if your use of force was excessive and inappropriate?  

The jury.   

And honestly this isn’t straight forward just because criminal charges are not filed.  The civil case jury could decide you were 10% responsible for your assailant’s death.  Since all they can do is take money from your pocket, filter it through a lawyer and pass along the remaining to the defendant or their estate, that’s what they do.  The percentage could be bigger if they don't like you or think you were excessive or could have prevented it.

Or they could decide you had no responsibility as you did not use excessive force and are not legally responsible.

I’d rather roll the dice than lose my life.  But I can help myself by not doing anything stupid.  I need to de-escalate if I can do so safely.  I can start my de-escalation with appearances and names.

This was once the evil  Black Talon.  Vilified in the newspapers, but is now available as  Range SST.  So much friendlier!  Why shoot something that can bite you in the butt?

I will not use a .44 magnum or 454 Casull.  Nor will I use a .25 ACP that requires me to shoot someone 10 or 12 times and then hit him over the head to stop him, unless I have a very good reason.

Nor will I put a Punisher skull emblem on my semi-auto’s slide, name my gun with an exotic/erotic name (“Great Penis of Death”, really who would do that?….) or shoot ammo with unusual descriptions like Zombie Max Death.

What do you think the jury remembers when they are alone?  And really....did it make you shoot any better?

Should I name my gun?  After all, if you shoot several gun sports you need something more than “my gun,” but that works pretty well too.  Use a descriptive name like: Model 66 with the Hogue grips, or the 1911 with the new sights.  No matter what you say, a lawyer can twist it.  Choose wisely, Grasshopper!

Don’t make it sound like you were planning on inflicting excessive force.  It’s one less problem you might have to deal with.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shooting in Aurora, Colorado

By now we all know who James Holmes is.

In case you have been at the bottom of a mine shaft, Holmes bought a movie ticket at his local multiplex and gimmicked an emergency exit so he could sneak back in.  He made his way into the midnight premier showing of the much ballyhooed summer blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises.”  No, he wasn’t sneaking in to catch a free show.

Dressed in dark clothing, bulletproof vest, ballistic leggings, riot helmet and gas mask, he set off some type of smoke bomb and proceeded to shoot people.  Lots of people.  He was heavily armed with an AR15, shotgun and a Glock .40.  It must have been like shooting people in a barrel.

The people in the theater next to them thought the gunfire was part of the movie. In retrospect it’s a sad commentary on what we consider entertainment when gunfire next door is mistaken for the show.

By now every blogger, talking head, legislator (aka empty head) has put their two cents in, proposed laws and held news conferences. 

Why should I be any different?  Well, maybe I have some advice you could use.

In these cases of gunmen killing the people around you here are some operational rules.

1                    Protect yourself. 
Get down and get behind something solid.  Nothing solid?  Get invisible, use cover and move somewhere safe.  Don’t be a hero.  Being killed and leaving your 12 year old child or spouse to deal with a masked gunman in a dark room doesn’t make you a hero.

2                    Protect your loved ones. 
You can only do this if you are alive.  Get them to safety, get them down and safe and invisible to the gunman.  I can’t imagine the pain and guilt associated with burying loved ones because I didn’t act.

3                    If possible, stop the carnage.  There's a lot of ifs here.
Are you trained and competent to shoot in a room full of moving, terrified people and only hit your target?

Do you have the tools needed?  Are they the right equipment?  Shooting at a rifleman 20 yards away with a short barrel .32 Seecamp may not be your best option.  You may have to close in on him.  Are you prepared for that?

Did you bring a reload or two?  What about a flashlight?  Train to hit with your weapon, but even professionals miss. 

Can you stay in the fight?  Expect to be wounded.

Do you have a contingency plan?  This animal had a vest, helmet and throat protector and had planned to keep killing for awhile.  Can you shoot and hit other body parts that would stop him or at least immobilize him.  Do you know what they are or is your plan just some vague idea about head shots?

Can you talk and shoot so you can start identifying yourself as a rescuer and perhaps control the crowds?

Are you prepared for a second person, maybe “seeded backup” coming from another angle?

4                    Be prepared to deal with confused and excited police/first responders or other armed citizens.

Are you taking command?  Are you telling everyone who you are and what they should do?  Are you telling the victims to stay down or get help? 

Can you reholster and still stay prepared to respond to the “incapacitated” criminal if need be?  You don’t want arriving police to see a gun in your hands and his victims’ bodies on the floor. 

Will you position yourself to see police arrive and not to do any thing stupidly fatal? 

Expect the media to get it wrong and for them to drive by without an apology or correction.

The police arrested James Holmes in the theater parking lot.  He didn’t resist arrest.  That is not too surprising.  My limited reading suggests that assholes of this stripe, when faced with an armed response may bluster, but surrender meekly.  Or perhaps he simply finished what he wanted to do and now wants to bask in the attention.

I don’t believe in the death penalty.  But there are those crimes that make you question if the actor is human by any social definition.  James Holmes is a mad dog.  Can there be any question that he planned and pulled the trigger that took so many innocent lives? 
The police should interrogate, confirm his story, arrest any responsible or involved individuals and simply shoot Holmes.  Our news media should treat it like any other disposal of a dangerous animal. 

The fourth page second column headline should say “Rabid dog shot by police to protect community.”  No picture, no name, just one reporter and judge to witness the shooting.

I can support that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reloading for Rifle

Tactically speaking, not much is new.

I’m reloading .223 Remington for my AR.  Rifle reloading is a lot more complicated than pistol.

The longer cases stretch more than pistol cases and have to be trimmed.  Okay that’s a small complication, even when you include deburring the interior and exterior of each case. 

I'm goin' to shoot, shoot, shoot till I run out of ammo (sing to "Fun, Fun, Fun!)

I did not realize that the primer pocket needed to be chamfered as well.  Most military brass has staked or crimped primers.  Why?  The crimped primers tend to be much more robust and don’t blow out.

I’ve blow primers or parts of primer out in my AR and had them lodge in the trigger mechanism.  Most of the time it’s an easy fix, but it puts your rifle out of commission until you can field strip it, diagnose the problem and fix it.  

Before Chamfering

Did I carve enough brass away?  The test is poppin' a primer in.

Noted trainer John Farnam states that if you carry a combat rifle, you need a pistol for those fatal times your rifle craps out.  It happens.  The tactical message: when possible, when it’s for the all the marbles, when it’s your life, shoot military ammo, which is always 5.56X45 and not .223 Remington. 

ARs look the same, but come in two flavors .223 Rem and 5.56X45 and it's more than a tomato/tomahto difference.  5.56 will safely chamber .223 but dangerous pressures can build-up from 5.56 in a gun chambered for .223.

You bought an AR for .223?  Sorry, it sucks to be you.

But I digress…………..

For reloading, I have to lub the cases (I had a case get so stuck in my sizing die I had to send it back to Dillion.  Of course they fixed it, but…) before I run them through the sizing die which de-primes and compresses the brass back to proper diameter and case angles.  The cartridges stretch when you shoot them and grow a little more when you resize them.  Eventually the brass breaks and becomes scrap.

I trim to length, debur the opening and chamfer the primer pocket.  I want to make the pocket just big enough to let the primer scoot in and deform just a little during reloading.  But I don’t want to crush primers.  They are just too expensive just to throw away.

While I’m chamfering primer pockets I sort out the NATO spec ammo.  They have the little circle with cross-hair stamped on the base.  Those primers are really staked.  I find I have to remove a lot of brass and I’m uncomfortable about it removing so much.  Those go in the scrap brass bucket.

NATO head stamp

Now I’m ready to reload.  Oh wait… I have to relub the case to make sure they don’t friction weld in my sizing die.

It’s a lot of work and production doesn’t flow well with a progressive reloader.  If I could find a relatively inexpensive source of 65 plus grain non-corrosive ammo in .223 Rem., I’d kiss those dies good bye!!!!

- - - - - - - -
The other day I looked look up and there was a nun standing at the range check-in table signing a hold harmless agreement. 

Well.  I’ve heard the Singing Nun, and I’ve seen the TV version of the Flying Nun and I’ve seen the Nun’s Story, but I’ve never seen a Shootin’ Nun.  At least in full habit!

I’m a little intimidated by nuns in full habit.  I had Dominican nuns in grade school and they left a deep impression on me.  Mostly with a ruler.  Still you have to admire their willingness to devote their lives to service in a church that doesn’t recognize them as full partners.  But I digress…again!  (So why can’t women become priests or nuns serve mass???) 

Yes, those are ear muffs in her hand and rifle cases on the bench.

It’s unusual to see them on the range, but why shouldn’t they be interested in shooting?  The achievement of placing your shots where you want them, or breaking 25 out of 25 clays is the same.  I can’t, I will not believe they somehow do not value their life over that of a violent criminal offender.

I snooped around and found she was just visiting.  I hope she had fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Adaisha Miller

Just because your job requires you to be armed doesn’t negate your responsibilities.  The same applies to the armed citizen.  As an armed citizen I know that one of my responsibilities is to protect the handgun from unauthorized access.  The flip side is protecting people from the unauthorized use of the weapon.  

It is a double tragedy when an AD kills someone.  One can only imagine the pain and grief the survivors have to deal with when someone they love is taken from them so suddenly.   

And every shooter takes it on the chin because we are vilified along with shooter.

The local newspaper has a little 60 word blurb that a 25 year old Detroit woman hugs an off duty police officer at her birthday party and is killed.  Adaisha Miller “embraced the officer from the rear, causing the holstered weapon to accidently discharge.”  The article indicates the round punctured her heart and lungs and she died at the hospital.

We I don’t know the story.  It sounds like a horizontal shoulder holster for a locked and cocked handgun like a .45ACP or Browning High Power.  Was the gun defective?  Was it the wrong gun in the wrong holster?  Did Adaisha attempt to do something cute, like take the gun out of the holster?  

That’s how my blog started.

More information came out that the officer was home hosting a fish fry.  Adaisha was invited to attend.  He was wearing an S&W .40 M+P secured in a softside waist band holster.  Detroit law may require an officer to be armed off duty to be ready for duty at all times.  I don’t know.

An M+P semi auto is Glock–like in that the trigger must be depressed to release the internal safety.  Of course this is mechanical and therefore subject to Murphy’s Law and failure at the worst possible time.

The key words are waist band holster.

David Balash, a former Michigan State Police firearms examiner, according to the Associated Press, said the investigation also should look at the gun's angle given that Miller was shot in the chest.

"What's going to be very important here is the angle of the entry of the wound to the victim (and) if there is in fact any gunpowder residue," Balash said. "I'm having a great deal of difficulty understanding how a weapon that's pointed at the ground can be turned literally 110 degrees minimum to be in an upward position to strike.”

No, David isn’t having any problems understanding.  He understands.   Adaisha was on her knees and up close to the officer.  Hmmmm….

Titillating and you may want to smirk, but it doesn’t change what happened.

If you carry, your responsibility is to do so in a manner to protect the gun from access and to assure the safety of the people around you.  Don’t we answer the question “Why do you want to carry a concealed gun?” with “…to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”  I know I do.

If you carry, make sure your gun matches the holster and is secure.  Don’t modify a holster with finger cut-outs or to fit a different gun.  Make sure your gun is mechanically sound and in good working order.  Face the facts, not every gun is right for you and not every carry style will work for you.  Don’t let the cool factor outweigh good sense. 

Finally, avoid situations where the control of the weapon can be compromised.  As the Byrds sang and the Old Testament reads, “…there is a time for everything under heaven…”

There is at least one person in Detroit who is partially responsible for the reason Adaisha will never be 26 years old.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Hunger Games

I find it surprising where I often find what might be considered tactical/self-protection information.  Take the books I’m reading.

I’m reading the trilogy by Suzanne Collins called The Hunger Games.  Set in the future this dystopia is the result of a botched revolution.  North America is now a dictatorship and the people are cruelly punished for their past deeds.  Every year children, chosen by lottery, fight to the death in televised gladiator-style games.  The population is forced to watch the games as a reminder of the central government’s power.  These children kill each other until one is left and then the survivor is forced to assist in the training of future chosen tributes.

I should mention this is a young adult novel, which means there isn’t blatant sex, sexual violence or excess gore.  The violence is all in your mind as the heroine, 16 year old Katniss, describes the poverty and iron heel the government uses to grind the people down.   I found it deeply disturbing.

The author and other reviewers find relationships to Greek mythology, reality TV, religion and God-only-knows what else.  Try Wikipedia if you want to read more.

Me?  I find the story a fast read and completely frightening and repulsive.  But I can no more put the books down than I can breathe water.  To me it’s a story about a government out of control, whose citizens have no legal way of changing it.  The government purposely impoverishes the people to keep them sickly and on the edge of starvation to make them docile.  It is a precautionary tale for our time.

The only weapons Katniss has to kill food for her family are a bow with arrows and snares, both of which are outlawed.  Impoverished, weaponless, and uneducated, the citizens are virtual slaves to the government who kills anyone for the slightest sign of resistance.  They can’t read your mind but they’ll kill you if your body language is wrong!

Depending on your child, you should see the movie or read the books with them and then sit down and talk to them about what can happen when limits are removed.  In Katniss’s world, what keeps the government in check?  The answer is nothing.  What keeps our government in check?  Independent people with the will and ability to resist.

Is my analysis too "out there" in goofball land?

I don’t think so.  I remember the besieged presidency of Richard Nixon.  I was and remained convinced he was on the verge of calling out the National Guard to protect the population and dismiss Congress and the Supreme Court for their protection from “outside agitators.”  I had visions of being in a grubby slit trench trying to shoot President-for-Life Nixon’s troopers.  It is quite possibly that only private ownership of guns put backbone in the people who convinced Nixon to resign.

I wish the above story was “out there.”