Thursday, October 30, 2014

All right class, circle the terrorist ...

Ready for a test?  
Pick out the real terrorist attacks from these headlines.

NY woman beheaded in what horrified witnesses first thought a Halloween prank
29 Oct 14

Palmira Silva, 82, 'beheaded' in London garden
14 Sept 14

Attack on Canada’s Parliament
26 Oct 2014

Shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Washington
26 Oct 2014

Boston Bomber  Google it yourself if you don’t remember

Pick up any newspaper, electronic news group and you’ll find shooting/stabbing/death everywhere.  Which, if any, should be classified as terrorist attacks in response to ISIS’s call for lone wolf attacks?  Which should just be considered “normal” jihadist and which are simply (did I really type simply?) criminal attacks?

We’ve seen some of this in the past.  Gangs, protest groups (even polite, well-behaved protest groups) need a certain amount of notoriety to give them street cred.  For this you need media coverage and a large enough event to make the local and national news cycles.  Want to protest open mesh manhole covers? (For any reason you wish!)  You first flood the media as well as city and state departments, mayor;s and governor’s offices with literature about the plight/danger/safety of open mesh manhole covers.  Shortly after that you need to chain a large number of people to manhole covers and report it to the police.  The media, you savvy protester you, has been notified in advanced and are waiting for the police to arrive or the protestors to be run over by a confused motorist.  Note, the leaders are typically at locations that are relatively safe.  Send the fodder out to do stupid things at chancy locations!

If you can get the protest to occur in more than one location, the better your street cred will be.  Get it to happen in another country staged by independent morons and you are now a player on the world stage.  At least to the next news cycle. So you need to repeat often.

Our response to ISIS is, of course, giving them credibility in the jihadist market place.  Their strategy is simple.  Generate horror, outrage and morbid interest by releasing beheading videos periodically.  As far as I know all the beheadings could have been done on a weekend long since past and before they were on anybody’s awareness radar.  Releasing the videos over time gives the illusion of the ability to function despite our and other nations’ awareness and efforts to find them.

This illusion of power plays well to the simple-minded and powerless members of any society.  It’s a simple message. Find someone less powerful than you and kill them to empower yourself and make jihad, what ever the hell that means.

Still, don’t dismiss them completely.  The gun doesn’t care that the shooter is simple-minded, confused, pissed off over imaginary problems, or simply just nuts.

So, where am I going with this?

The holidays are coming up.  Many Americans get stressed out trying to make sure they get the perfect, relaxing holiday.  I suspect it’s true of many other countries as well.  While we focus on family and friends, helping the less fortunate, and making this holiday season better than the one before, make sure you pay attention to your surroundings.  Watch for what’s not normal, what’s out of place, what’s different.  You don’t have to look for ninjas, just stay in condition yellow: purposeful awareness.  

I’ve addressed this before.  Professional firearm trainers, other bloggers, the police websites, everyone with a lick of sense says the same thing.  Pay attention to your surroundings.  Avoid crazy crowds, know where the exits are and if it looks like trouble might be starting, get out now.  

Don’t worry about what officials, safely behind the lines, say, ignore that peer pressure to comply, or the person(s) you protect whining about 'I’m so embarrassed,' and 'what will someone who doesn’t matter think.'  

Don’t go, stay out and get out if something seems wrong.  At worst it you’ll have a semi-funny story to tell over brandies and at best you’ll be somewhere safe whispering over and over again “Oh, those poor people trapped…”

Which of the above news stories are about terrorism?  I think all of them.  It doesn’t mater if it’s Islamic in nature or the product of a diseased mind.  They all evoke horror and I doubt anyone can claim these acts didn’t evoke terror in someone, even if it was only the victim and their family.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Utah Teacher Shoots Porcelain Throne

Update on Utah teacher shooting the porcelain throne at school

The original post was here.

The Oct 11 2014 ABJ reports Michelle Montgomery was charged with a misdemeanor and resigned her teaching position. Seems there were a few discrepancies in her report to the police. 

First, Utah allows CCW in their schools and she had a permit.

Michelle was charged with discharging a firearm within city limits.  She originally claimed the gun was in her holster when it went off, but that didn’t fit the evidence.  She later changed her story that she took it out and placed it on top of the TP dispenser while using the toilet.  After finishing the paperwork she “…grabbed the gun to put it back in her holster but it slipped…”  You know the rest of the story.

A couple things. 

Holstering and drawing the handgun are two actions with great potential for an accident.  These accidents can be fatal. Make sure your holster properly fits your gun and keep your finger off the freaking trigger until it’s time to shoot.

Never lie to the police.  It may have been a facing-saving fib Michelle told, but it complicated her problem.  Fortunately it looks like she may avoid truly serious complications.  (I wish her the best of luck!)  Also note, wanting to speak to a lawyer is not the same as impeding an investigation or lying.  Make sure it’s your lawyer you are speaking to and not one provided to you by the union, school, store or workplace. Those lawyers may not have your best interests at heart.

Figure out what you’re going to do with that gun when you go to the bathroom.  Do this before you need to go.  One of my instructors (retired police officer) wants nothing to do with an ankle holster, but I never worry about where to put the gun when seated on the can when I’m using an ankle holster.  Life is about trade-offs!

Permits aren’t comprehensive training or unconscious competency.  Make sure you have both!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bang Bang Bang

He’s someone from the old days I have coffee with now and then.  He sat there and told me about his plans to shoot a young woman in the head.

“I just finished ‘Orange is the New Black’ by Piper Kerman,”  he told me.  “I don’t believe everything she says but the description of these low level, non-violent female offenders and the lack of resources needed to change their situation is appalling.”  He just shook his head.  “I mean that’s just one side of it, but it makes you think.  So when the local college scheduled her to speak, I figured it was worth a twenty to hear her.”

I read the book too, and I suggest you add it to your reading list.  What I thought was more interesting than her prison life was her involvement with the justice system.  Ten years before she carried drug money from here to there, which frightened her straight and she was never again involved with crime.

Just one mistake she learned from and that was that.  She thought it was behind her but it wasn’t.

One day most of gang got rounded up, except for Mr. Big, and anyone involved at any level ended up in front of a judge.  She was white, had a good lawyer and agreed to testify in exchange for minimum security and a short sentence.  But that’s a side story you should read about in her book.

“The auditorium was sold out,” he continued, so the ushers came in and pushed everyone to the center to make room for the sold out attendance.  Some yutz in back of me was making sheep sounds in protest as he moved toward the center.  I don’t know, it just struck me as weird.“

“So while I’m sitting there thinking about the sheep whisperer in back of me, two Islamic women in abayas and hajabs made their way down the row three seats in front of me.  One was even wearing a face veil.  All you could see was her eyes.  It was alarming.  I couldn’t help thinking how could anyone identify this person when all you could see was were two eyes. You couldn’t even be sure it was a woman and not a small man.  They found seats almost directly in front of me.

“It seemed odd to me that two conservatively dressed Islamic women would be interested in Piper. Kerman’s talk.  I suspected her talk, based on the subtext of her book, would be about empowering women in prison to change their destiny.  That seems the exact opposite of Islam and donning the robe and veil to subject yourself to domination by men."

"Each of the women carried a hand bag the size of a large messenger bag and both bulged to capacity.  I couldn’t help wonder if this was the beginning of a terrorist attack.”

“Maybe they were just trying to get a reaction?” I suggested.

“Maybe and maybe not.”  He said.  “I remember my years at college, that was a long time ago, but people experimented. Drugs, sex, social behavior, new friends.  A lot of classmates found, or changed  or dropped religion.  Maybe it was organized by a jihadist movement as a soft probe to measure our will and response.

I couldn’t deny what he said.  I flashed back to an old, but post-911 newspaper article about a man who stood up during a flight and started praying to Allah.  The air marshals took him off a despite his pleas of “my religion requires me to pray…”  That was attributed to as a soft probe on airline security.

My friend stopped and we waited for the waitress to refill our coffee cups.  He just stared at the cup and I inspected the floor tiles next to my shoes.  I don’t consider this guy to be one of those high speed/low drag wannabe operators and I think of him as a solid guy, but it was more than a little weird to hear this

“So…”  he paused to glanced sideways to make sure the waitress was creating distance, “so I wondered what I would do if one or both of them jumped up with something in their hands and yelled ‘Allah Akbar!’”

It’s a scenario that’s been considered in FBI and DHS training programs.  It certainly had all the right elements, a crowded room filled with people. It was night and rainy, both of which would hamper rescue attempts. There is a special horror to think about young women blowing themselves up to make a statement.  And there was still the chance there would be a second attack designed to kill the first responders.  So I asked him, “What did you decide?”

“I had my little 5-shooter on my ankle.” he said.  “And from the seated position the draw would be easy.  I could grab the gun and start to standup during the draw.  I’d lean out across the row of seats in front of me and it would have been an easy one handed shot.  Of course I probably wouldn’t finish the draw before they detonated, but I sure was going to give it a shot.”

I don’t think he meant the pun.

“But it occurred to me what if I was wrong?  What if it was just a just a poorly thought out stunt by a couple of college goot-offs?  I could go to jail, perhaps be executed myself for shooting some girl in the back of the head.  I’ve got to tell you these thoughts had my stomach doing flip-flops.”

“Some stunt,” I told him.  “People would be killed in the panic of trying to escape that stunt.” I knew the auditorium he was talking about.  It’s very lovely, but a death trap to a panicked mob trying to escape with their lives.

“Well. I didn’t think of that, I just thought if they stood up with something in their hand and indicated they were about to select martyrdom, I shoot the one I thought was the most dangerous in the back of the head and then the second one if she moved.” 

“And you know,” he said looking at me, “After I decided what I would do, I felt pretty good about everything.”

“Well, I see nothing happened.  You’re here.  The paper didn’t report any incidents, so I guess all’s well that ends well.”

He took a long sip of his coffee, took out a pack of cigarettes from some Indian reservation and lit one up.  He took one drag and crushed it out in the dregs of his coffee cup.  “I’m trying to stop, but old habits…”

Standing, he slipped a five spot under his cup’s saucer.  “That ought to cover both coffees, but you know, I didn’t like having to make the decision.  I’m not sure anyone else would have stepped up if it had gone sideways.  I felt like I had no choice and these two women were going to decide my fate.”  

He turned and walked out without another word.  I always picture my friend with an over-developed sense of drama, but I have no doubt the essence of his story is true.

There’s no tactical content to my friend’s story.  But there is a message here about not over-reacting, about not letting your plan and preparation become self-fulfilling .  This blog and many others preach the gospel of self–reliance.  It’s a good gospel.  Just don’t let your preparations be the sole determining factor to your course of action.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Sniper Match Isn't A Snipe Hunt.

sniper taking aim
Breath, exhale, hold and press the trigger to the surprise break

GTA, the gun club I shoot at, just held their scout/sniper match.  

There were six stages for the two-man teams of scout and sniper, including a cold bore shot at 100 yards 

cold bore shot
The sniper shoots the target with the orange square for his cold bore shot and the scout then has a chance to shoot the remaining 5 targets.  Distance?  About 100 yards 
and one requiring the team to shoot together off a peaked roof, affectionately known as the Dog House.

Sniper team shoots it out
A team shoots it out against 1 inch hard candy and steel plates under the watchful eyes of the SO

I ran the Banging Plates stage.  It was a simple enough stage.  From a shooting box in the woods, the scout had to find and shoot steel plates ranging from 50 to 100 yards.  While the sniper could help him find the plates, the scout had 2 minutes and exactly 10 rounds to make 10 hits.

sniper/scout match
Scout utilizes a "can' on the end of his AR to hit 10 steel plates

This was a radical change from our match last year.  Each stage in that match had unlimited time and the misses were scored as time added to your raw time.  This encouraged people who simply wanted to pull the trigger as fast as possible and accept the misses as additional time.  

 Most people call that gamesmanship and frankly, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I see every match, every practice session as a dress rehearsal.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at a match or just plinking at the range.  After all it isn’t anything like “real life” that so many shooters are fond of talking about.  I suspect, God help us, shooting at a person and being shot at will be nothing like our practice or matches.  But they are the closest I can get to of my perception of “real life.”

Cold bore set up
The snipers were given 2 minutes to get set up.

I did a quick, unscientific survey of all the participants who shot or spotted my stage.  The question was “Do you have a personal first aid kit with you now?”  I was looking for the little blow-out kit, you know, tourniquet, pressure bandage, QuikClot.

Excluding myself, less than 12% of the shooters had a kit on them.  Many had a more extensive kit with their pack 50 yards away or in their vehicle.

Many of the shooters had expensive optics, dots, customized guns, high tech clothing, range finders and the ubiquitous smart phone.  But the one item that could save their life was 50 yards away.

blow-out kit
My blow-out kit.  gloves, pressure bandage, tourniquet and QuikClot gauze.  I vacuumed sealed it myself