It’s Not The Choreography, It’s The Stumbles.

We learn situational awareness by establishing a baseline for the environment and noticing what’s out of place. A mini van or an SUV with handicap plates idling by the front of the pharmacy is not out of place. A beat-up pickup truck or a tricked-out street racing car idling by the entrance to the pharmacy would be out of place, however, and if that happened to be at a pharmacy I was about to walk into, you are DARN RIGHT I’m not going in.

In that same way, we shoot matches because we get used to dealing with what’s out of place and unusual when we are dealing with stressful situations with a gun in our hands.

The very best thing that can happen on the stage is we do everything exactly the way we planned. As Steve Anderson is fond of saying, practical pistol is speed biased and negatively charged. This means that unless we pay attention to things, we tend to go too fast on a stage and not get our hits, and we tend to notice our screwups more than we notice what we did right.

Emptying a gun in a few seconds is not hard. Emptying a gun in a few seconds and getting your rounds on target? That’s hard. Also, noticing the screwups that happen on a stage lets us become accustomed to correcting for them as they happen and come out on top of things.

Isn’t that also what training is about?

The value of competition is when things don’t go well on the stage and we are forced to make things up on the spot, and that carries over 100% into firearms training. For example, we were doing a drill in a Combat Focus Shooting class where the instructor would call out a number from one to six, and then we’d put rounds into the corresponding number on our targets.

Except the time the instructor called out “seven”, and then things changed. Almost all the class reacted to the vocal command, but they didn’t process the data in the command until their gun was pointed at the target. The other students did not shoot competitions so they were not used to the unexpected happening on the firing line and reacted on instinct.

Me? I heard “seven”, saw that there was a “one” and a “six” on my target, added the two together, pressed out my gun and put rounds into both of them while the rest of the class stood there dumbfounded with their dicks guns out. The unexpected did not faze me, as I’d had to deal with missteps and altered plans with pretty much every stage I had shot.

We have spent thousands of years developing sports like javelin, judo, jousting, and other sports that don’t begin with a “J” to prepare our bodies for combat. Using sport as a way to prepare for war has worked for centuries, so why do we think that pistol competition are no help when it comes to pistol combatives?

Pocket Protection.

There’s some really interesting ideas in this post from 2007 by noted terrorism expert John Robb.

“Cities have long maintained centralized police forces, but gangs can often overwhelm them. Many governments are responding with militarized police: China is building a million-man paramilitary force, for example; and even in the United States, the use of SWAT teams has increased from 3,000 deployments a year in the 1980s to 50,000 a year in 2006. But militarized police may too easily become an army of occupation, and, if corrupt, as they are in Brazil, they may become enemies of the state along with the gangs.

A better solution involves local security forces, either locally recruited or bought on the marketplace (such as Blackwater), which can be powerful bulwarks against small-group terrorism. Such forces may become a vital component in our defense against bioterrorism, too, since they can enforce local containment—and since large centralized services, like the ones we have today, might actually accelerate the propagation of bioweapons. Still, if improperly established, local forces can also become rogue criminal entities, like the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia and the militias in Rio de Janeiro. Governments need to regulate them carefully.”

I agree. A decentralized threat like terrorism or other non-government violent actor demands a decentralized response. Not only does it cost less and allows for more freedom, we know it actually works. The modern smartphone is nothing if not a decentralized and networked communication device, and we have other options for staying safe in an unsafe world that don’t require an often painfully slow response from state-approved “first” responders.

More thoughts on this over at Ricochet.com.

To The Gentleman In The White Pickup Truck Driving Eastbound On Immokalee Road Wednesday Night,

Dear Sir,

You’ve festooned the rear window of your truck with stickers that extol your favorite firearms and have augmented those with even more stickers advertising the NRA’s “Stand and Fight” campaign and all this is topped off with another sticker with an exhortation that reads “Don’t Tread On Me”.

I’m glad you enjoy guns and are willing to tell other people about your involvement with the Second Amendment.

However, you would be a better ambassador for firearms in general and the NRA in specific if you weren’t driving like an absolute maniac on a crowded rush-hour street. Dodging in and out of traffic and tailgating everyone who wasn’t going fast enough for your liking might be your way of letting the world know you’re “take charge” kinda guy and not a sheeple, but to me, it says you have no idea how to behave safely while in charge of a potentially dangerous instrument like a motor vehicle. Your reckless actions behind the wheel makes everyone around you (including me) very nervous, and in particular, it makes me wonder if you act as recklessly when you have one of your beloved firearms in your hands.

People read your stickers, and they watch what you do. One thing that was drilled into my head as I was preparing to be a missionary in Latin America is that I would be a missionary 24/7, not just when I was in missionary HQ.  People would look at my actions as a model of how Christians are to behave, and use how I behaved (or misbehaved) as a ruler for what being a Christian was all about. I learned the sometimes painful lesson that consistency and sincerity are better advocates for a cause than stickers and loud noises.

This is a lesson that you need to learn, Mr. Pickup Driver. Your stickers show your passions, but your behavior behind the wheel shows us your inability to control them.

Sincerely, and with great affection,

Me.

Outsource Your Security.

The personal empowerment brought about by the internet is changing the way society works. As I said earlier this year,

The world’s largest bookstore, Amazon, has no stores, and the worlds largest armed force, the American gun owner, has no generals, ranks or chain of command.

WISO-Wireless-Emergency-Whistle-Safety-AlarmSo how can the American gun owner self-organize into something larger than just one or two people? What would happen in a Ferguson riot if a shop owner had something like this, with a half-dozen or so respectable, committed, responsible gun owners in their network?

This wireless whistle instantly notifies your friends and family in an emergency. WISO uses a combination of Bluetooth technology and GPS tracking.

The whistle sends out pre-selected SOS messages to your friends or relatives via SMS or email. It also includes your current location and can even contact up to seven people at once. The whistle weighs only 12 grams and has batteries that last two months. WISO is available now and costs $51.

Would that help someone survive the riot or a flash mob? I think so…

Faith-Based Firearms Training

If I myself set the standards for what it would get me into heaven, you’re darn right I’m going to set standards that I am capable of passing. I’d say something like “Don’t use Microsoft Windows, drink light beer or go to an American League game (because the DH sucks) and lo, yours is the kingdom of Heaven.”

By the same token, if I set the standards for when I feel I’m good enough to defend myself with a firearm, chances are, I’m going to set the standards at a point I know I’m capable of reaching. I can hit paper at 25 yards? Dude, I am SO ready!

The problem is, most firearms owners today feel they are capable of defending themselves with their gun, but they have no desire to expose themselves to a revival service (also called a basic pistol class or a match) and have a “come to Jesus” moment on how bad they really are and how woefully unprepared they are to put rounds on-target under stress. The only thing that saves most of them, I think, is that the crooks are even less-prepared to deal with a gunfight, and tend to run away when things go bad for them.

This is not true of an active shooter. Dealing with an active shooter, someone who will not give up until you and a bunch of other people are dead, is taking things to a new level. Flight 93 showed us that even the most determined of attackers can be stopped, but only at a high, high cost to ourselves.

Not sure if I’m ready. And I know I don’t want to find out if I am.

Open Carry Is Not Brandishing.

The good people of Milwaukee have decided to burn down a few buildings and smash up a few cop cars because one of their number was shot by the police last night. Unlike previous instances, though, the suspect had a gun and refused to stop when ordered by the police to do so.

Violence and protests erupted in Milwaukee overnight after a man was fatally shot by police during a foot chase.

Police said the victim, 23, was armed with a handgun and shot dead by an officer after fleeing a traffic stop on Milwaukee’s north side Saturday afternoon.

The suspect in question had a lengthy arrest record and was armed with a pistol stolen in a burglary earlier this year, but hey, let’s riot because “he was a good person“.

The man’s criminal record was extensive, and he was carrying 500 rounds of ammunition at the time as well as a gun which had been reported stolen in a burglary earlier this year, however, residents were outraged at the killing as it is an open carry state. Many argue that the suspect shot and killed deserved due process.

One protester spoke to the media the night before and revealed that the people were rallying for the 23-year-old suspect killed because he was a good person. It is estimated that about 200 persons came out to protest.

Cognitive dissonance: It’s not just for breakfast anymore!

Protestors seem upset, though, that because Wisconsin is an open-carry state, anyone with a gun in their hands is therefore not a threat.

Open carry outside.

My open carry rig for hiking. Note that I have a holster, and I use it to carry my gun.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Open carry refers to having a gun on your person that’s in plain view. Brandishing is also having a gun, but you have that gun in your hand, not in a holster. One is legal in a bunch of states, the other is not. If cop rolls up me, my wife, my second cousin twice removed, whoever, and we have a gun in our hands and refuse to set it down, we stand a better-than-average chance of getting shot.

That’s what probably happened in Milwaukee last night, and similar incidents have played out in other cities all over the world dozens of times in the past week. The difference is, in Milwaukee, it was used to touch off a a riot that has caused further pain and suffering to that city. It’s shameful, it’s abhorrent and it will continue as long such actions are rewarded by elements within our political leadership.

In the mean time, carry your guns and keep your head on a swivel.

Things Are More Like They Are Now Than They’ve Ever Been.

Thinking more about yesterday’s post, I’m guessing the five people on that bus who escaped the blaze weren’t expecting something to happen that night. We don’t, because we expect the same things to happen all the time. It’s called “normalcy bias“, and it’s a way to make ourselves believe that nothing bad will happen to us because nothing bad has happened to us so far.

An example: My wife and I’s first house together was in a neighborhood in north-central Chandler, Arizona. We bought a townhome in what was then a nice middle-class neighborhood near a Target and a movie theater and we enjoyed walking through the streets at night pushing a carriage with our first son wrapped up snugly in it.

But things changed. My truck was broken into, twice. The house next to ours was broken into. A townhome across the street was raided by Chandler PD for ties to a meth lab. While all of this was going on, we never once thought “Gosh, we should move, because the neighborhood is getting rough”. The fact is, the crime wave brought about by the Mexican gang wars was starting to affect central Chandler, and that meant that criminals were starting to range further afield for targets of opportunity, and they were moving into our neighborhood.

We’ve since moved out of that townhome (BOY have we moved out of it…), but what sparked our move wasn’t the crime, it was our desire to own a larger home. Looking back on things now, there’s no way we’d live in such a neighborhood again, but we’re older and wiser than we used to be.

A Man’s Car Is His Castle.

ON July 28th, “migrant youths” did this in a suburb outside of Paris to protest the death of a companion of theirs while in police custody.

Methodists. I’m going to bet that radical, extremist Methodism sparked this violence. What else could it be?

April 29th, Florence and Normandie.That attack is nothing unique, however. We’ve seen similar attacks on our streets that rose out of non-violent protests, and we’ll see them again in the future. Blocking freeway traffic is a favorite tactic of Black Lives Matter and other such protests, and all it takes is one overheated exchange to turn an inconvenient blockage of traffic into attempted mass murder.

image

I was in St. Louis the night that Ferguson erupted in flames, blissfully unaware of the danger I was in. If the Ferguson rioters had decided that night to block a freeway instead of torch a convince store, I’d be facing a situation like the one above, or worse.

This is something that can happen to all of us, because the mobs who do such things can form faster than the media can report on it or cops can respond to it, leaving us to deal with a potential mob scene on our own, with what is available to us inside of our car at that very moment. No running around outside to grab the AR in your trunk: What you have within arm’s reach is what you have to deal with what’s going on.

Then there’s the legal elements to consider: Is a large group of unarmed protesters an “immediate and grave danger” to your life or the lives of the people inside your vehicle? In the state where you live, is your vehicle considered to be a “domicile” because you are currently occupying it, and therefore the laws that cover self-defense of your home cover you in your vehicle? Is a brick through your windshield considered deadly force?

Above all, though, remember you are in a large steel box that moves faster than the fastest person can run, so if you can more out of the danger area, do so, and do so as safe as possible.


On a semi-unrelated note, I was shocked at how little there is out there on the how and when you can defend your life in a car. Maybe my Google-Fu is weak on this sort of thing, but it seems there is page after page of information on defending your home, but precious little on what is considered your home when you’re away from home.

Setting The Narrative.

You see what you expect to seeBreach, Bang and Clear posted a photo from the North Miami police department on a recent police-involved shooting that went really, really wrong.

The police shooting of an African-American caregiver, who was lying in the street trying to help an autism patient, was accidental, according to the local police union representing the North Miami officer.

The officer had intended to shoot the patient, whom he thought posed a danger, but accidentally shot the caregiver instead, said John Rivera, the President of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association.

Now, the question is, why did the cops roll in there thinking that there was a danger of someone getting shot? Because the dispatcher told them there was a man with a gun on-scene threatening suicide.

Turns out it was a toy truck.

There are lots and lots of things to talk about here regarding police training and use-of-force, but I’m going to let others talk about such things. My takeaway from this is different: Because of the bad information that was sent to the dispatchers from the calling in the incident, the cops rolled up expecting to see certain things, and reacted as if those things were occurring, even though they weren’t.

Still think you shouldn’t call the cops and be the one to set the narrative in their minds after a defensive gun use?

I don’t. The first narrative is always, always the one that tends to stick. The sooner you get your story out in front of law enforcement (under the guidance of a lawyer, of course), the better off you’ll be.

What Makes A Civilian Defender When Everyone Has Guns?

Golindrianas ladyConsistency and the ability to make the shot on-demand, that’s what. Consider this quote from an article which asks the question, “What makes a photographer when everyone is taking pictures?”.

“If you were there when the Hindenburg caught on fire, and you took a picture of it, that’s a great photograph. But you’re not a great photographer, because you can’t repeat that in everyday things,” he continues. “What a great photographer does is, they are consistently able to make something in a style that’s personal to themselves.”

Been there, done that, have the contact sheets to prove it. For the best (photo) shot I’ve taken, I had time to snap exactly one frame (that’s the image to the right). It was on a medical mission trip to a small town in the coastal jungles of Ecuador, and I was along to document the trip. The lady in the picture was waiting for her turn to see the doctor, and I had to be very circumspect with my photos. I rounded a corner, saw her, saw the light, ducked back around the corner, set my camera for the exposure I wanted and pre-set the focus for the estimated distance from me to her, turned back around the corner, framed the shot, fine-tuned the focus and snapped the shot. If I had taken more than one shot or filled with my camera in front of her, I wouldn’t have gotten the same expression, and it’s wouldn’t have been as strong of a photo.

The whole thing took far, far less time to do than for me to write about it up there. Think there’s a corollary here with personal defense? I do.

I knew my camera (a Nikon FG with an 105mm f2.5 lens), I knew my film (Fujichrome 100), I knew lighting, I knew the rules of composition and, most importantly, I didn’t have to stop and consider what options would be best at the moment the shot presented itself. I knew there was enough light coming in from the left side window to expose her face, I knew there was enough light coming in from the right to separate her out from the background, and I knew there’d be enough light from the window that the picture would be sharp at 1/125 at f.28. Keep in mind this was pre-digital: If you’re not ± one stop exposure on chromes, you’re toast, and so my ISO was 100, period. No cheating by cranking up to ISO12800 with the turn of a wheel, and no chimping, either.

That’s what a civilian defender does. They may have the same gear as a dilletante, they may talk about the same things as a dilettante, but when push comes to shove and they see the shot, they take it, and they take it in confidence.