Tag Archives: Columbine

Aurora Shootings Part 2: Are There Any Viable Solutions?

Be warned, this is a very long post because, for me, the topic is so important it precludes easy, fast, short review and response.  Worse, it takes some direct shots at the ethical places into which our modern culture has moved.  It is designed to grab your thinking muscle by the neck and shake it and hope the result is some serious reflection on a very serious problem. (DK)

Part one of this series dealt with suggestions on response to a situation such as the Aurora Shootings.  That is of far more immediate criticality in terms of life or death.  But any martial artist knows the best way to deal with a punch is to not be there when it arrives.  If there were a way of trying to eliminate or at least reduce the incidence of these heinous cowardly acts that would be far better than having to undertake the incredibly dangerous counter to the attack.

I promised I would do as I asked of my Facebook “friends” which is to research the issue and present my own evaluation and suggestions in my own way without resorting to bumper-sticker/cartoon level responses using someone else’s talking points.

Neither my liberal nor my conservative friends have ever let facts get in the way of an ideological rant.  The absence of data or context is irrelevant to them if they see a chance to score even a short term point.  Even if later information makes it all moot, any retraction, if one comes at all, will be in the fine print on page 85 of their screed.  I assume their hope is that listeners with attention spans as short as theirs will forget the later truth and remember only the original and oft repeated lie.

But for this part of the greater discussion, my main opponent is the liberal side of the aisle whose policies have, I believe, gradually led to where we are now, discussing a horrid atrocity of human interaction: the shootings at an Aurora Theater.

A stalwart in the liberal reactions is a repetition of their long cherished assaults on the pesky Constitution  is the 2nd Amendment and its declaration that the People (meaning the citizens of the U.S.) have a right to keep and bear arms.  If anything ever represented to them a symbol of self reliance and avoidance of the dependencies on government upon which they rely, it is an armed citizenry.  No wonder they need to crush that possibility!

And now, thanks to a crazed shooter in Aurora, they have a wonderful new chance to proselytize their evangelical and fervent loathing of the right to keep and bear arms. They have taken this opportunity by the horns and embraced it with the type of over-wrought emotion usually reserved for discussions about protecting endangered species or killing off the last vestiges of the economic approach that made our country number one in the world.

So I guess it should come as no surprise that the infantile rantings on FaceBook scream out for simple minded “solutions” ignoring that whenever those same solutions were tried in the past, they did not predictably result in any improvement and often were proven to be counterproductive.  That failure, to me, is because they do not address the real problems.  So I would like to do something they seem to be avoiding, using the Aurora Attack as a springboard, and take a broader view of what I see as a very complex set of problems, issues, and attitudes that are brought into play whenever such an event occurs.

The surface and immediate facts, upon which the knee-jerk left instantly responds, revolve around the despicable and heinous actions of some individual or groups of individuals that results in the violent deaths of innocent people.  These are often not even cases of personal and directed rage leading to the killing of some targeted individual resulting from a real or perceived insult or affront; these are indiscriminate and often logic-defying acts of cold, calculated, well-planned mass murder.

What we (myself and my liberal friends) are in complete agreement about is that there can be no possible excuse for such activity and it is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. I do hope that we also agree that serious people should engage in serious discussions and perhaps debate over ways to address the issues of eliminating or at least minimizing the occurrences from happening in the first place.  Where we disagree is about how to accomplish that.  I think however that if we get past the broken record talking points, labels, and party line blinders, our common goal can find commonly acceptable first steps toward resolution.

The left’s always-at-the-ready boilerplate response to any such event is to call for the banning of all firearms from civilian ownership.  The theory is that if all law abiding citizens were disarmed the gun deaths would go away.  I think that theory is so patently false and ridiculous on its face as to make it illogical to proffer it at all.  But the reality of its constant rehashing means it needs to be faced.

This case is no different.  Post after inane post on Facebook only addresses gun ownership via cute cartoons as the single issue to be addressed.  Sometimes descending into reductio ad absurdum approaches to imply for example, that anyone who wants to allow gun ownership must also wish to own nuclear weapons.

In my opinion that is because the left is not comfortable looking into sacred “tolerance” territory for behavioral issues or ethical issues that might play a significant role.  To them, viewing where our country has gone in terms of ethical or moral behavior is off the table and therefore only the solution of banning guns is available.   This despite the clear ease with which the bad guys obtain weapons in the most gun-restrictive venues and happily prey on the now unarmed law abiding.  I guess that makes sense coming from the same people that grant more “rights” and protections to the perpetrators of crimes than to the victims of it.

Looking therefore for a totally gun-related solution, their theory is, again, that such a ban would prohibit such horrid events from occurring.  So before we try to find a workable answer, lets see how well that one has done since we do have history available to review where it has been tried.  We also have history to review where the opposite occurs and carry permits are easier to obtain.  And we will need to understand the thinking that led the U.S. to be an armed nation to a greater extent than virtually anyplace other than Switzerland or some of the tribal areas in so-called countries living in nearly complete anarchy.

Speaking of Switzerland, there every male of age is in the military as part of their National Service requirements and is issued a current military battle rifle that they are required to keep at home, maintain, bring to the mandatory training sessions and exhibit a fairly high level of proficiency with it.  Switzerland has more shooting ranges than the US and they are in fairly constant use.  But we rarely hear (in fact I do not ever recall hearing) of incidents of violence such as plagues the U.S.

So, when we put a broader view to the question, “Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates?” it turns out the answer is far from clear cut but does trend towards a “No” answer.

For example, Mexico, Russia and Brazil are countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States — and their murder rates are much higher than ours, especially with the cartel violence in Mexico.  However, at the same time, Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States, and much lower murder rates than ours.

Meantime, Britain is a country with stronger gun control laws than the United States, and lower murder rates.  However, the British example does not stand up very well under scrutiny. The murder rate in New York has been several times that in London for more than two centuries — and, for most of that time, neither place had strong gun control laws. New York had strong gun control laws years before London did, but New York still had several times the murder rate of London.

It was only in the later decades of the 20th century that the British government clamped down with severe gun control laws, disarming virtually the entire law-abiding citizenry. And the result?  Gun crimes, including murder, rose as the public was disarmed.  The fact that they do not yet match our own rates masks the fact that they have seen their own rates, whatever they are, rise in the face of stronger controls.

And yet, against that statistic of increasing murder rates in Britain, murder rates in the United States declined during the same years when murder rates in Britain were rising, which were also years when Americans were buying millions more guns per year.

In our own country, as Chicago tightens its already very restrictive gun control laws its crime rate soars yet places like Virginia that loosened restrains on carry permits saw their rates drop.  Our starting point was not general crime stats but the issues surrounding such mass shootings as the reason one in Aurora.  But in my mind solutions to both, and the reasons we seem unable to find solutions, are related.  The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too deeply committed to a previously obtained vision that is so strong it does not allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs, and the warm and fuzzy sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.

According to the Left, the poster child for all things wonderful in political terms are the Scandanavian countries.   And their near complete ban on firearms is seen as a model for how we ought to do it.  Yet a year ago in Norway, despite their country wide strict regulations on firearms, a lone gunman killed 77 people, mostly children.

Before we go on, let’s get a bit of terminology down, shall we?  I am so tired of hearing the term “assault rifle” thrown around by people with no real clue what it means.  First of all, by definition an “Assault Rifle” is capable of fully automatic fire.  The term does not derive from its look, its type of action, or its magazine.  There are semi-automatic rifles and pistols out there with unique styles, traditional styles, and some that look like military weapons, but unless they are capable of fully automatic or, minimally, “burst” fire, they are not assault weapons.  The so-called “Assault Rifle” ban was a paragon of misleading language and should have been called the “Scary Looking Weapons” ban.  Real “Assault Weapons” have always been severely regulated by BATF.

Nor are the guns used in these abhorrent attacks “machine guns.”  Properly, a true “Machine Gun” is belt fed and often intended for tripod mounting plus being capable of full automatic fire.  True “Assault Weapons” or “Assault Rifles” are capable of full auto and burst fire but are designed to be primarily shoulder fired or hip fired.  Both machine guns and assault rifles use rifle-based ammunition.  “Sub-Machine Guns” or “Machine Pistols” are smaller full auto weapons using pistol-based ammunition.

Real machine guns and assault weapons are already tightly regulated and require a very special and very expensive BATF Federal Firearms license to own.  Ah, I know, the terms are so heavily laden with emotion that of course if you want to cast a certain negative perspective on them that may have nothing to do with their real character you will continue to use them even knowing you are in error.

How disingenuous… but then how predictable.

In fact I think the whole thing is disingenuous and hypocritical.  This is not about controlling guns; it is about controlling people by the government.  It is not lost on tyrants or even those who wish some form of (hopefully) enlightened autocracy that the very first official act of every tyrant and tinhorn dictator has been to disarm the citizenry so they are helpless.  Switzerland has remained neutral, safe, and free from outside attack because of the ferocious will of their people to protect their country coupled with their being sufficiently armed to do it.

Dispatches collected from the Japanese following WWII revealed that some elements of the Japanese military wished to launch a major land-based offensive against the continental US but were dissuaded by the intelligence from Japanese citizens that had lived or studied in this country that revealed our population was too heavily armed already.  The Soviets discussed the difficulties of an invasion of our homeland due to the degree of gun ownership, and specifically, guns of a type to mount a real defensive action with.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not now and never was about hunting or target shooting or shooting competitions, nor was it really about self-defense in the civilian sense.  It was about making sure the government could never get so large and full of itself as to take control from the people by force nor could any outsider.  They appeared not to anticipate that weak minded, parasitical and self-proclaimed victims would simply give it away from within, but that is a discussion for another post.

If the real concern of the left and those crying for greater gun control was truly for public safety then other actions would be cried for with the same fervor.  More people are killed every year falling off ladders than are killed with firearms according to the FBI but we do not see the ladder as being at fault.  While in 2010 there were almost 9,000 firearms related deaths in the US, an unacceptable number to be sure, nearly 33,000 – over three times as many — were killed in auto accidents, most directly related to alcohol use.

So where is the hue and cry against cars?  Or some movement against alcohol?  There is a stunning silence in that corner probably because we remember the results of prohibition (and now of the “War on Drugs”) where we try to ban some inanimate object without addressing the foundational reasons for the use of it but ignore those lessons in this case because there is a lot of money in keeping the causes of the pro and anti camps alive and well.

And in any case, it really does not require a firearm to do massive violence.  Considerably more violence is committed every year with bats or knives according to FBI crime stats.  But they escape notice because they do not have the same emotional choke hold on advocates.  And that shows a vast lack of first hand knowledge.

Compared to the bloody carnage resulting from a real knife fight or even just knife attack, a quick, clean kill with a bullet is almost merciful.  Besides, according to FBI stats, knives are far more often used in personal attacks and muggings not just because they are cheap but because psychologically they can be far more intimidating.

Additionally any reasonably trained government agent knows that a pen, pencil, or even credit card can kill as quickly as any other weapon and with far less notice being given to the target.  A plastic bag, a shoe string, tie, or belt, or even pant legs will snuff out a life quietly and fairly quickly without the need for more expensive or scary looking tools or equipment.

A simple box knife in the hands of someone knowing what they are doing can be deadly even though the blade is short.  And ask any former inmate in prison how deadly a screw driver or small shank made from scrap metal can be in the hands of a dedicated user.

Timothy McVeigh demonstrated for all that would see, that properly using so common an item as ammonium nitrate fertilizer would do the job very neatly.   The Muslim Army Major on his religious quest proved that limiting firearms to the military doesn’t work either.  Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but is enduring a record number of murders and mayhem these past few years.  The Aurora Shooter also possessed explosive devises and had gathered the material for more.

Yet, as we noted above, in many of the states that have seriously loosened gun carry laws the violent crime statistics have gone down rather than up as the gun control advocates prophesied.

Gun control advocates said it would turn those venues that were freeing up carry permits into the “old west” and actually it did… but it was like the REAL old west, not the one of TV, movies, and dime novels.  In the real old west shootouts were rare, so rare that the very few that ever happened have become legendary.  In the real old west, Hays City, Kansas, one of the toughest cow towns reported, during the half-dozen years spanning the cattle drives from Texas to the railheads in Kansas, under a dozen homicides by firearms.  Ellsworth and Dodge City had similar low shootout records even though nearly everyone went around armed to the teeth.  How can that be?

Well the armed citizenry of the old west was comprised of recent war veterans and even though marinated in alcohol most of the time, still understood that if you got aggressive with someone, they were capable and probably willing to simply pull the gun out of their pants and shoot your lights out.  The result was in some ways an exaggerated civility and protocol, a western code of conduct, as it were, but not a daily bloodbath.  There were sociopathic exceptions but they were so few and far between that they are now legendary.   The so-called “gunfighter era” lasted roughly from the end of the civil war until around the turn of the century.  Yet the litany of known real gunfighters with a string of homicides to their score card is less than the number of years involved.

And, despite all of the movies made about outlaws and outlaw gangs taking over a town, most stories stem from Civil War guerilla raids such as the famous one on the now college town of Lawrence, KS.  In the one post war recorded instance it was actually tried (by the James/Younger gang as part of a bold two-banks-at-the-same-time robbery), the town of veterans got together and shot the gang to pieces on the street.   Armed citizens will not put up with that stuff if given the opportunity for self-defense.

Gun ownership or gun availability per se means nothing by itself and I am the poster child for that statement.  When I was growing up I  owned guns (gasps and sounds of ladies swooning in horror).  Long before Junior High School days I owned a .22 rifle with which I hunted small game with my uncle.  By High School I owned half dozen rifles and handguns.  I was good with them and by then was expected to bring in a large portion of our meat diet from the field.  I can just hear the collective, “OMG!”   Living on a farm and having chores to do meant it was not all that uncommon that I missed the bus and drove to school, a common event among farm kids.  Yet even on the dark days I knew I was destined for a fight, and even more so on the days I knew that fight was going to be with someone likely to prevail instead of me, it never occurred to me to put a gun in the car (much less in my belt), bring it to school, and use it to take out an opponent.  Nor did it occur to anyone else since it never happened.

So there we were, hormone soaked teenage males, armed to the teeth at home, and mostly very good with them; yet we never used one of our guns to settle a dispute.  Why?  Simple.  Our sense morality would not allow it.  We pummeled each other into the nurses office time and again, but never brought our guns to the fight.

By the time I was in college I was living on my step-father’s ranch and daily carried or wore one of a dozen guns I owned.  I never ever took one to school or even dreamt of using one to settle a score.  And both in high school and in college I was just one of like rural kids swimming in weaponry that never used them inappropriately.

In my opinion therefore, this country does not now have a weapons issue.   What we have, and we have it in spades, is an increasingly cultural, social, ethical, SET of issues that now with liberalized (meaning minimized) morals allows and perhaps even facilitates this type of behavior. In a word we have a moral issue.  And how did we get there?  It was easy!

By legislating a removal of consequences for behaviors we have, in essence, legislated immorality and now are seeing it coming back to common roost.  Starting in the inner cities but slowly spreading outward into the rural areas, such insistence upon consequence-free behaviors became so prevalent I doubt we will ever return to the social and moral construct which informed my youth and influenced my behavior (along with my classmates and friends).

And all we seem to be able to do now is sit around and wring our hands crying out for pointless prohibitions or take up positions of denial that just as an individual has a right to protect themselves from danger, so TOO does the society made up of those same individuals.

As the environmental degeneration of ethics and morality, cultural and social mores, make killing another human an acceptable activity aided by the desensitization of violent graphic video games and movies (via exactly the same methods as the military uses them for the identical purposes), then the resulting collection of sociopaths will find ways to do it regardless of any laws about some of the potential tools of the trade.   It would appear that the veneer of civilization is being ground extremely thin on us as restraint after restraint is removed from our behaviors as exemplified in our entertainment.

We do not ALL, as of yet, subscribe to this sociopathic, anarchist ethic, thank God, but all it takes is one or two now and then.  And the rest of us have become so utterly reliant on others to protect and take care of us, the group as a whole panics and seeks simplistic resolutions that dance around the problem rather than confront it.  In an increasingly American fashion, we spend vast amounts of energy addressing symptoms while spending an equal amount of energy avoiding addressing the causes.

And when the sociopaths among us are seen no longer as malicious savage bad guys or vermin to be coolly, methodically eliminated from our midst, but instead as poor, downtrodden victims of society suffering sadly from some neurosis, syndrome, or other malady and receive more protection than their innocent victims or the law abiding citizenry, then what on earth would you expect to be the result other than what we have going on now?

It is probably, then, far too late to even seriously talk about returning to a sense of ethics and morality that existed back in the old west or even in the middle part of this century even though returning to that state would, I think, have a major and positive effect on the problem.

Nevertheless, even though I believe that a nation governed by fewer laws is better than one governed by a litany of laws beyond anyone’s ability to know and understand them, such as we have today, I do believe that in the absence of accepted morality influencing social behavior, there are laws, federal laws, that could be established that would help the issue without limiting our rights and freedoms.

I dislike this “make another law” approach personally and would prefer we look to the moral, ethical issues, the social and behavioral issues first.  Many of them could be resolved by removing some of our laws that work to remove consequences from behaviors.  But i am practical enough to know that is not remotely likely to happen.

It is clear that the left will never even consider approaches that force analysis and reviews of cultural and social behaviors because they have built critically dependent voting blocks by protecting their behaviors.  They are not willing to look at issues of family disintegration and fatherless families rampant in some cultural sections for fear of offending some of their constituencies.  Those areas of review are completely off limits even though it is most often from that group that much of the violence stems.

And the fringe right too has its share of useful idiots who will protect behavior IT wants to continue with, sans consequences, such as drunken driving.  When looked at through the prism of current political parties I do not see any good guys here and certainly no one willing to tackle this head on.   This side also refuses to see the danger they allow to grow to their own position on the 2nd Amendment, which I generally support, by allowing to continue an environment that scares the bejesus out of the other, and growing, side.

Machiavelli pointed out clearly that fear was a far more powerful influence on a population’s behavior than love.  And if we allow that fear to mount and be exploited by the left to remove our abilities at self defense from our own government gone off the rails, should that ever happen, then in our blinded zeal we will have set in motion the very actions that will destroy us as surely as they will.

So, in my opinion, unfortunately, only from the firearms side can come the start of a solution.  This is the only side with at least a few individuals left willing or able to honestly review history to determine, by reading the very clear wording of documents and the voluminous letters of the founders, what was truly intended and why, and then apply that in a way that does not do excessive violence to our Rights and yet does seek to address the abuse of those rights that must be stopped or minimized.

Therefore, sadly, I would propose the following Federal Firearms Regulation:


 Preamble:  WE the PEOPLE, as individuals, are guaranteed in our Constitution the right to keep and bear (meaning own and carry) firearms.  But the reason is too often overlooked even though it is clearly spelled out.  It is for the Security of our Free State.  Period.

This treasured Right is not just about protection from invasion from without as is often claimed.  Such invasion concern was certainly part of it and proved prescient in 1812 and again for contemplated invasions during WWII and by the Soviets.  But in addition to those concerns, the founders looked deeply into the history of tyrannical and abusive governments and did not want to ever risk letting their own government become antithetical to the goals and objectives of their newly created Republic.  In order to secure it and the freedom of the people from abuse by its own government it sought to establish but which they anticipated one day might happen, in contrast to disarming the people as autocrats do automatically, they would allow the people to remained armed and able to repel invaders or to expel would-be tyrants.

That security measure of an armed citizenry is so vital, the citizen’s ability to say “No” to a government gone off the rails so foundational to a free people, that to threaten that right by actions that could get a significant portion of the citizenry to want to limit or remove that right, should be seen as tantamount to treason and subject to the same level of punishments.  Therefore I would propose the following laws:

Article 1.A.  Any use of a firearm coincident with or used to facilitate an illegal action of any kind is to be deemed a felony under Federal Law punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in a federal facility.   If the illegal action involves, directly or indirectly, the illegal taking of a life, then for a minimum level offense (i.e. manslaughter) a mandatory 20 years of Federal incarceration is added to whatever punishment flows from the primary crime.  If the offense is 1st or 2nd Degree murder then life imprisonment at hard labor is mandated, and for cases of 1st Degree Murder where the guilt of the accused can be proven to a scientific certainty, the use of a firearm in the commission of that crime shall automatically be deemed a capital offense in which the Death Penalty shall automatically be available.
1.B.  Individuals not holding current U.S. citizenship and not being sworn foreign law enforcement officers expressly in our country working in conjunction with domestic or federal law enforcement and permitted to carry a firearm, shall, if found with a firearm or other deadly weapon on their persons, be considered prima facie guilty of a federal felony with a mandatory sentence of 5 years with automatic deportation to their country of origin to follow completion of sentence.

Article 2.A  Any natural or naturalized citizen of the U.S., with the exception of convicted felons, individuals convicted of domestic abuse, or held or registered as sexual offenders, or mental health risks to themselves or others, shall have the right to apply for a federal firearms carry permit.  Said permit shall only be issued on completion of a rigorous and background investigation, training and testing regiment to include psychological evaluations, target identification drills, precision shooting, and general competence with the weapon or weapons being permitted.  Upon passing all qualification training and testing an applicant shall be allowed to carry on their person the weapon or weapons with which they are qualified.  A reasonable fee to cover the costs of such training and testing may be imposed.
2.B.  In the event an applicant fails to pass any part of the qualification requirements the application fee will be forfeit and no permit issued.  Following the first failure, the applicant may retake the procedure within 14 days after paying a new application fee.  (It is no less expensive to retest an applicant than to test them in the first place.)  If the applicant shall fail to pass the qualifications a second time, then for all subsequent attempts applicant must wait for a period of 90 days before being allowed to retake the qualification exams and tests.
2.C.  The Federal Firearms Carry Permit shall expire after two years from the date of issue.  The Holder will have 60 days from that expiration date to re-qualify with their weapon(s) or lose their carry permit.
2.D. Legal owners of firearms which are not carry permit holders may transport their unloaded, disassembled firearms from their home to a sanctioned shooting range or to a proper hunting location.  But said firearms may not be assembled or loaded until ready to engage in the sport intended in a location set aside for such sport.
2.E.  Individuals who are not natural born, natural or naturalized citizens or any individual belonging to one or more of the prohibited classes specified in Article 2.A. may not posses firearms of any sort.  Violation of this article is a prima facie federal felony with a mandatory sentence of not less than 2 years.

Article 3.A.  Any firearm of major caliber (.30 caliber or larger) or caliber designed for rifle fire for medium or large game, any firearm carried with a Federal Carry Permit as per 2.A., or for firearms of any caliber capable of more than 8 rounds with magazine attached, shall be sold only after the weapon is ballistically tested, identified, and registered, along with owner contact data, with the FBI’s national database.  It shall be illegal for a legally registered owner of such weapon to relocate without providing an update as to the locations of the weapons so registered.  The same would apply to sales of said weapons and/or the reporting within 3 days of the theft or other loss of such weapons.
3.B.  It shall be lawful to rebarrel a firearm to improve its performance or appearance, however, any firearm subject to identification as per 3.A. which has been re-barrelled for any purpose must be re-tested and identified ballistically and re-registered in the national FBI database.
3.C.  A person in possession of a firearm to which the serial or identification number has been physically or chemically altered or erased, or to which the rifling in the barrel has been altered or defaced so as to change its ballistic characteristics and identification, shall be deemed to be prima facie guilty of a Federal Felony with a mandatory 2 year sentence upon conviction.
3.D.  It shall be considered a Federal Felony for any person identified in 2.A. as prohibited from firearm ownership to be found in possession of any type of firearm of any caliber.

Article 4.A.   It shall be a complete defense to any charge of manslaughter or murder if, and only if, the death was a result of deadly force used in self defense against the reasonable anticipation of bodily harm, the defense of others against the reasonable anticipation of their bodily harm, or to stop the commission of an aggravated felony in progress.  However the standard of reasonableness is to be adjudged by the jury during trial based on all of the available facts and evidence surrounding the incident.  Simply being paranoid or afraid of an imaginary or non-existent threat is not a defense for the use of deadly force.  Further, at such point that the initial defender continues to apply deadly force beyond neutralizing the attack and becomes the aggressor themselves, they can no longer maintain their “self defense” status.  Once the initial attack has been neutralized or rendered impotent, no further harm to the initial aggressor shall be authorized.  At that point the use of a firearm may only be continued to restrain an individual until proper authorities arrive on the scene.
4.B.  A presumption of self-defense shall be granted to an individual who uses deadly force against another individual who is in the process of invading or committing an unprivileged entry of their home or place of residence.  Citizens have a right to feel secure against attack in their own homes and to protect themselves, their families, guests, and others under their care.
4.C.  Law enforcement agencies can only execute “No-Knock” warrants of private domiciles under court authority granted upon solid evidence of potential illegal activity in the premises and reasonable expectation of extreme danger to the law enforcement personnel.  However, executing the no-knock warrant upon the wrong address, or invading an innocent home by error removes this protection and an innocent home owner retains the right to the use of deadly force to protect his home and family against unannounced intrusion until such time as law enforcement properly identifies itself and its purpose.

5.A.  The status of any weapon capable of fully automatic fire shall remain under the current regulations and licensing requirements of the BATF.  Anyone found in possession of a fully automatic firearm, or a semi-automatic firearm converted to fully automatic or burst capability but without the proper license, shall be prima facie guilty of a Federal Felony with a minimum penalty of 5 years in a Federal Facility upon conviction.
5.B.  These regulations address only firearms known as “small arms” and do not include weapons belonging to the category of “artillery” or “Ordnance” nor explosive devices nor weapons of mass destruction as defined by military convention, nor any crew-served weapon of any kind.


Let me be as clear as I know how to be on this.  Personally I am philosophically opposed to having to create such laws and fully understand that they will satisfy no one.  As with all gun regulations they will effect only the otherwise law abiding and be ignored by the real bad guys.  But perhaps… perhaps… since the real bad guys have never been noticeable for their brilliance, enough will fail to observe the rules, get busted, be made an object lesson, and others will take note.   That indeed is my hope, but it is not my serious expectation because, again, this deals only symptomatically with the problem and not the root cause.  But for those delusion individuals who believe the answer lies in more rules then it should give them a good place to join in the discussion.

The rabid pro-gun crowd will oppose any regulations whatsoever and the rabid anti-gun crowd will oppose anything that in the end continues to allow any private gun ownership.  And neither will allow scrutiny of social and cultural issues that may turn out to have a greater impact on crime than the possession by the citizenry of firearms but runs afoul of ideological and politically correct issues.

Nevertheless the reality is that in the foreseeable future neither left leaning nor right leaning politicians will risk their re-election on gun control issues so we are left at a standstill with innocent lives hanging in the balance.  So it is time to get practical; set extreme ideologies aside, and try to construct a compromise that may have a chance at lowering the incidence of major attacks such as happened at the Aurora Theater.  But no proposal will have any value if it cannot be passed by Congress.

I personally believe the real reason is far more social and cultural in nature than one wrapped totally up in the tools.  The truth is, the left knows that is the case when they point out that the reason the Swiss and the Israelis can have so many more guns but lower crime rates is because they are culturally very different.  To say that admits on its face that the issue is not about guns; it is about cultural and social issues.  I believe it is about ethical and moral issues even more so.  But I am convinced those will never be tackled in an atmosphere of liberal “anything goes” attitudes so something else must be tried.

The above proposed law puts a huge additional penalty on anyone convicted of using a firearm in the commission of an illegal act.  That constraint actually is already part of the issue of “aggravated” offenses in some jurisdictions but this makes it a federal issue with federally mandated penalties.  Only by making it federal can the laws be consistently and predictably applied so that anyone, anywhere, knows the rules and they do not change state to state.  Yes I believe in State’s rights.  But the Right being threatened is a Constitutional one, one that effects all citizens of all states, so this is one of the very few places where a federal regulation would be, in my opinion, proper.

Ballistically identifying and registering certain guns and their owners is already a law in some states but it needs to be federally mandated and run to be effective.

And creating a trained, proficient, stable population of armed citizens would, as it does already in some jurisdiction, make the bad guy think twice about acting for fear some local will simply take them out before their fun really gets going.

As suggested above but worthy of repetition, all of those provisions are in play in some jurisdictions or another but to be effective they need to be applied consistently across the country.  To be understood and easily enforceable they need to be consistent across state lines and so need to be issued at the Federal level.

Finally, the term “militia” is not, as often claimed, a vague antique term.  It referred then and is still defined as being every able-bodied person (then it was only men) who can be called into service in case of emergency.  The militia had to arm themselves, equip themselves, and train at their own expense until such time as they were subsumed into national service.  THe Amendment speaks of a “well regulated” militia and this “regulation” addresses that directly and requires the citizen to pay their own way.

And none of those provisions in the regulation above prohibit gun ownership (except to specified classes where it is already prohibited) any more than car ownership is prohibited.  They just help to make the legitimate law abiding gun owner more keenly aware of the responsibilities of owning and carrying a deadly weapon.  And they make the infractions of it a federal offense and therefore a big deal.

And lest we forget entirely how this discussion got underway, lets return to the gunman in the event inspiring this series of posts.  It appears, increasingly, as if this was a severely disturbed individual that fits no one’s normal profile.  He was not some dummy having earned his masters and was working, though poorly, on his doctorate.  He was not poor.  He was not abandoned; his solitude was of his own making.

It remains to be seen, as of this writing, if the point of breakdown was the medical/psychological contact and whether or not his doctors knew of his violent tendencies much less any impending plans and did not, on opposition to existing laws, report it.  (Patient/Doctor confidentiality aside, it does not cover a case of a doctor having data indicating a patient is highly likely to do injury to himself or others.)  Someone suggested he left no internet trail but that is just false.  He was all over the internet including purchasing ammunition. There was nothing illegal about his online purchases but did not the pattern of them hit some Homeland Security, FBI, or NSA signal?

What is clear is that the systems, all of them individually and collectively, failed both the shooter and the theater audience, but not just because he had a gun.  Colorado is full of gun owners; I was one of them, owning enough of them to make most of my liberal California acquaintances faint dead away.  Growing up on a farm then a ranch made them common tools to me.  My paltry collection paled by comparison to that of many people I knew, hunted with, and competed against.

What has failed, in my opinion, was the social system, the moral system.  Perhaps the medical/mental health system failed as well but for that we need more information. The now ramped up intelligence system which is far better at creating sting and entrapment exercises than chasing real bad guys, and the Denver area’s gun laws which are very restrictive especially when it comes to carry permits, clearly were of no effect.  If Holmes had tried this in a rural theater, however, he most likely would have been put down after his first shot.

I do not think this or any gun regulation would have stopped the Aurora shooter though an armed audience might have brought his moment of terror to a quicker end.  It ended as quickly as it did and with the limited loss of life only because his cheap magazine jammed and he did not know how to clear it.  But had he been trained, using standard magazines and quick reloading techniques taught to military, law enforcement, and competition personnel, he could have probably done far more damage and not jammed his weapon.

The Columbine shootings, the other great Colorado shooting incident, were as much or more a failure of parenting than of gun laws.  Both of the individuals exhibited public behavior consistent with antisocial, even sociopathic tendencies, one threatening to kill others on his web site, one making pipe bombs in the garage, both having had the local sheriffs sufficiently alarmed to call upon the parents.  But they did nothing to intervene or involve themselves in their childrens’ lives and activities.  And when laws now preclude parental notification of many events in a child’s life it is harder and harder for a parent to truly monitor children activity.

The Columbine duo too did far less damage than any trained individual might have done and they lasted as long as they did, it turns out, due to failures in law enforcement to respond properly.

Nevertheless, knowing that our liberal attitudes will preclude any serious review that entails a possible conclusion of unethical or immoral behavior, that regulation above is, sadly, my opening suggestion.  I challenged posters on FaceBook to quit showing their ignorance by operating on the bumper sticker/cartoon level and to quit just repeating what other people think and start telling me what THEY think.  Well, here, in both parts of this post, I have done precisely as I asked of them, put down my own philosophy of this issue, my own conclusions, and my reasons for them.  I note  however that on FaceBook itself my challenge fell on completely deaf ears.  Imagine my surprise.

It is not important that you agree with me on any of it; what is important is that as a country, we start discussing serious issues seriously and try to find common ground to come to at least “first-step” resolutions to the many issues that face us.  I’m assuming I will succeed in irritating nearly every one but that is on purpose.  It seems only through comprehensive irritation comes the will to comprehensively, seriously, and honestly discuss these major issues.

I am a gun owner, shooter, firm and resolute believer in the 2nd Amendment.  But, sadly, I have come to believe our failing morals in this country coupled with our increasingly “entitled” parasitic attitudes virtually mandate some regulation of the USE of those weapons if we are to be able to retain the right to own them at all.  I hate that because I hate what it says about our culture, our society; about a once great people descended from those who created what was the most wonderous, exceptional country in human history.  But those were men and women of tougher and far more principled “stuff.”  Every election, fewer and fewer remain who hold to those old morals and old ethics and, like it or not we have evolved (or in my opinion Devolved) into a different species than those late 18th century giants willing to say “Give me liberty or give me death!” and both know what that meant and mean what they said.

Several posts before this one, talking about “stage theories” I listed Marx’s progressions.  It makes me ill to think now, in reviewing and researching for this post, that maybe he was on to something.  His economic view of history and interaction was flawed to its core but his speculation about future stages may have had some lucky merit.  We seem to be seeing it being played out in this country here in the early part of the 21st century.

If he was correct then the days of the self-reliant citizen are numbered and with them, the precepts, implications, and foundations of the 2nd Amendment.  This movement has nothing to do with the advent of more powerful firearms and everything to do with less powerful personal wills and ethics and moral stances.

And no, please, don’t go down the obvious path trying to understand what I am saying based on unseemly paranoia.  I am not commenting on anything specific to a given religion or a specific gender-based lifestyle; I’m not commenting on anything specific to skin color.

I am, instead, talking about a systemic decrease in the willingness of our collective cultures, races, religions, genders, political parties, to accept responsibilities for actions, consequences for choices.  That, and that alone forms my definition of morality: responsibilities and consequences and the acceptance or avoidance or even denial of them.  And by that definition I believe we are increasingly becoming an immoral society.  And with that increase comes the danger to those who wish to remain self-reliant and maintain the willingness and ability to tell the government it sees changing in ways in opposition to the founding principles… “No!  I will not let you go there in my life!”

Am I the only one who thinks this way?  If not, isn’t it time to start insisting your representatives and leaders get serious about such discussions and get our government to start working again?  And if so, then just remember, if this clearly delineated right can be abridged or rendered inoperative by an end run, so can any of them.  This will be just the start but for the reasons noted it is the necessary place those who would alter our form of government must start.  The government itself must be first brought down economically before it can be rebuilt; but the citizen’s final and awful ability to resist must be removed at the same time.

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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Aurora Shootings Part 1: What if…???

San Diego –– Some of my friends, knowing I come from Colorado and had been there and indirectly involved in the Columbine shootings (which I wrote about back then) have asked my reactions to the latest atrocity to happen in an Aurora theater since it too was in Colorado, in fact in the same metroplex, i.e. the greater Denver area.  I think there are two issues worth dealing with.  The first, how to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again, is now locked in a state of political gamesmanship to see which side can score more ideological points by spinning the very limited information coming out at glacial speed.  Of course politicians and political hacks on all sides have never ever been ones to allow a lack of facts to deter their evangelical fervor to paint the other side in the most egregiously insulting and religiously demonizing terms.

I am seeing it come to bloom in full flower on Facebook where, especially from the traumatized left, this has provided a gold mine of opportunity to espouse their pretty but historically ignorant rants on how if we, the people just give up all arms and all abilities to confront a government out of control and bent on autocratic domination, not only will the enlightened and ever-benign autocrats treat us wonderfully, sort of like cherished house pets, but the bad guys and real tigers out there will, out of social guilt I guess, pull in their claws, turn in their weapons, and renounce, probably in public meetings much like AA, their use violence against the sheeple in their midst.

I think that is the ultimate in social and historical ignorance.  And I think too little data has come out of this case to yet draw any definitive analysis about the shooter himself, his psychology, his ideology, his history, etc. that will not, due to unavoidable holes in the data, fail to do harm to society on one way or another if used as the basis for action.  Of course that has not slowed down the ever cute cartoons and bumper sticker pronouncements being shared all over the social media.

If course, in our inceasingly parasitic and entitled society it is ALWAYS someone else’s fault and never our own.  So far I have read the most inane pronouncements that the fault lies with guns per se (of course…), the internet, the evil school that was failing him in his doctoral quest, video games to which he was addicted, sex sites to which he also seems addicted, the movie in question for its display of violence  (even though people were seeing it for the first time), even some form of bad potty training that left him socially unprepared for the real world.

Possibly some or all of those are factors to be considered in the final analysis.  But data gathering is ongoing; much is still not known.  And only a fool of galactic proportions will attempt to draw conclusions about so complex a situation when it is known that not all of the facts are disclosed… only a fool would propose legislation on incomplete information.  I have been surprised at how many of my Facebook “friends” fall into that “foolish” category.  Sad.

Well, I have to confess… I’ve also done and said some foolish things in my time, God knows.  But I do not think of myself as a fool and so am not quite yet ready to publically publish my own analysis and prescriptions for resolutions until I have seen enough of the data forthcoming to do a proper review.  The media thus far seems hesitant in its revealing of data and is selective in what it shares which I can only ascribe to the fact that the raw data seems to be leading some place they do not like.  So knowing the editing of published data is in full swing, I’ll hold off a bit because it seems to me there are some real substantive holes in the data and too much contradiction usually explained by further information.

However there is another issue that can be tackled.  And it is truly an important one on a personal level.  What if you find yourself in the same situation somewhere.  There was a time when such an event would not have been allowed to unfold very far before some audience member simply took the bad guy out.  Not in California, of course, but in other places which felt comfortable with good guys having the ability to protect themselves.  But that takes away some of the dependency creating control of government so here in the golden state it is no longer allowed.

Even so, perhaps there was a time in our society’s evolution when the delusion of safety from such events, the “it can’t happen to me” syndrome, had some practical merit… but no longer.  The list of people who have, for whatever reason gone “postal” is growing and it has happened in the most unexpected of places which is to say… everywhere.

In the office, in schools, in theaters, in homes, in fast food restaurants, in churches, in shopping malls, we have seen some example of this play out.  Until this activity is properly reviewed and we get beyond the simplistic conclusions based not on facts forming an ideology but on ideology editing and filtering the facts, it will continue,  And sooner or later, no matter how low the odds, this horror show may someday come to you.

So a more immediate and vitally important question arises; one that goes to your own survival, becomes, “What then?  What if it happens to you?  How do you increase your chances of not begin one of the victims?”

For this, there is lots of evidence because, unfortunately there is lots of history.  Like reviewing game films to analyze tactics, however, we can use that history along with some military knowledge to offer some suggestions.  Unfortunately lots of people do not want to hear it.  It frightens them… and it should.  It paints a bleak picture requiring of them unthinkable action… and it does.  It makes them question deeply held ideologies… and it does and indeed should.  So they avoid it to avoid those painful reviews and thoughts.  Here is an example.

I spent four years writing producing and selling law enforcement training video for the Denver Police Department.  We produced a few presentations designed for the community and public as well.  Those programs were designed to work, in conjunction with further input from the police department, to increase public awareness and safety.  They were generally well received and we received a number of awards including one Emmy Nomination for works done in that vein.

But when we tried to interest the school systems in presentations on protecting their kids from an attack such as at Columbine, we hit a brick wall of resistance.  The schools told us time and again they believed it would only traumatize the kids and make them afraid.  What???  They were told about tornadoes and earthquakes.  When I was a kid we were trained constantly in the “Duck and Cover” techniques in case the bad guys launched the big one.  And though we knew that being vaporized in a bright flash and loud bang was a possibility.  What could be more disconcerting than that?  And yet the training made us feel more secure not more traumatized.  We were told that it might not save all of us but it might save some of us who did it right and that gave us hope and a plan.

Do fire drills make us afraid?  Do evacuation drills for earthquakes make us afraid or do that seek to minimize loss of life?  In high school in Missouri we tornadoes were a reality so we learned what to do when they occured.  Were we frightened of such things?  Sure, we would be fools not to be.  But we had a plan and a hope and were not ready to just stand there and be, like Dorothy, swept off to Oz.

But that was a long time ago and during the age of self-reliance and responsibility; it was not the current day of entitled parasites desperate to be protected and fed by others so perhaps it is different today.  You readers will have to decide for yourselves where you fit on that continuum and either stop reading now to avoid any damage to your fragile, already victimized psyches or decide you do not want to become excellent at being a victim and read on.

In every such shooting situation as happened at the Aurora theater, there are at least three categories of innocent participants (other than the perpetrators themselves).  There are…

  1. Those at point blank range who have little or no chance of survival.
  2. Those at mid range who have a reasonable chance of survival AND
  3. Those at longer ranges who have a very good chance at survival if they know what to do.

And among these categories based on relative placement to the locus of the attack, there are three types of personalities:

  1. Those who will panic and either freeze in place or try to run away without thought or plan.
  2. Those who will attempt to escape but with a plan in mind
  3. Those who will counter attack as if their lives were at stake, which, of course, they are.

If such a situation develops in your presence you have to understand, there are NO guarantees of survival no matter what you do or how carefully prepared you are.  All you can do is change the odds from being severely against you to being more in your favor.  But combat experience and history, whether in the military or on the streets shows, those odds, properly used, more often than not, make all of the difference between life and death or serious injury.  Using a doorway for cover in an earthquake does not guarantee survival but it increases your odds.

We are not talking about military engagements here between opposing enemy forces but about public danger from a potential mass murderer.   So for our discussion there are also several categories of possible assailants that might ever go on the attack in a more or less public place.

  1. A REAL assassin after a target.
  2. Real criminals holding you hostage or simply unintentionally catching you in a crossfire in a battle with law enforcement.
  3. The “pushed over the edge” semi-normal person who just looses it in rage or frustration and opens fire with some loose plan or target in mind.  And
  4. The psycopath/sociopath who opens fire for the love of death and destruction and a complete lack of empathy for those innocent people around them.

A real assassin is typically extremely well trained, practiced, able and willing to kill, but with very narrowed focus and an interest in minimizing collateral damage.  Unless you are on his or her target list you are generally pretty safe.  If you are on the list then unless you can match them talent for talent you are on borrowed time anyway so get your affairs in order as soon as possible.

Except in rare cases, all of the other category of assailant is probably not out to kill a particular person.  The exception is the disgruntled employee out for revenge over their manager or boss but one that person is dealt with any continued rampage puts them in the same category as the others.

Also, unless they have spent some hard prison time, most criminals, even bank robbers, are rarely calloused killers.  The Dillingers, Nelsons, Barkers, Barrows, et al are of another era.  Don’t be lulled into carelessness though.  A holdup plan gone wrong can change their game but it was not the game intended and now they, like you, are making it up on the fly.  It is certainly dangerous but it is not targeted.  And, unless they are a practiced killer, they, like most humans, are hard wired somehow to avoid killing other humans.  Unless pushed into it even most of the lighter weight bad guys will try to avoid it.  When pushed however, with no way out, then all bets are off as to their likely actions and you have to view and react to them like any other crowd shooter including the most psychotic.

OK so what to do and not do?

If you are in the first category of freezing or panicking then you stand an incredibly high chance of being injured or killed.  Here’s why.  The nearly inevitable result of a group of people in a panic with minimal routes of exit are that they all bunch up as the bottle neck of an exit is jammed.  That forms a mass and provides the easiest of all possible targets for the shooter.  Frightened people tend to bunch up for comfort and security, huddle together in a false sense of safety in numbers and only succeed in making themselves and those near them far better targets.

The shooter doesn’t have to be a good enough shot to pick off individuals, they just need to fire into the mass and as the outer layers are hit and fall away it exposes the next layer for them.  If they are shooting military ball ammunition (full jacketed) or very high power rounds, or if the stray bullet simply passes through soft tissue on one individual, then each bullet may penetrate several individuals and the hit ratio makes it look like far more shots were fired than actually were.

Further, shooting at a crowd’s back or sides presents an amorphous non-human target mass and so is less likely to engage any inner prohibitions and worse, as people fall with each shot, it increases the satisfaction of the shooter and “showing them” whose boss.  It may be the only time in their miserable lives they are in control of a situation and it feels good.  So they keep firing until empty or the gun jams or everybody is on the floor dead or dying.

(As an aside, the Aurora shooter had purchased a cheap aftermarket drum magazine but it was not well designed and could not handle the action so it jammed long before it was out of ammunition.  The shooter was so poorly trained he apparently did not know how to clear the jam.)

So rule number one is, don’t let yourself becomepart of that herd of easy targets running in complete panic into a bullet that was not even really aimed at you.  If you are not willing to prepare to engage the bad guy, at the very least make sure you belong with the second group of those who seek to escape but with a plan.  It does not guarantee success but starts immediately to improve your odds.

The plan starts with preparation: know where the exits really are.  Are you close enough to beat the crowd or by the time you get there will you simply be part of that massed target?  Is there any place that might offer hard cover (something that will stop or deflect a bullet) and you should also and always get in the habit of performing, in ANY place, what intel types refer to as “Situational Awareness.”  The Aurora shooter virtually telegraphed that something was wrong when he used an exit to (apparently) take a call instead of going to the lobby or simply silencing the phone and letting it go to voice mail like most would do.  And when he came back in through the emergency exit, much less now with hoody and weapons, all questions should have been answered on the spot.  Time to leave!!!

I know, It is hard in a movie where the screen demands your attention.  But living through the day us certainly worth some attention as well.  Isn’t it?  It is a sad commentary to think it is necessary.  But just what is your life and the lives of people you love worth?  Is it not worth a few minutes to become aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for unusual activities?

The next thing to do, especially if you are in a crowd or crowded place, the moment the action starts, is to hit the deck and start crawling toward any cover you identified.  In a theoter, use the concealment of the chairs to hide your movement.  But knowing they are not bullet proof, get as fast as possible to any real cover or to an exit.  Those still standing will become the targets of opportunity and distractions to the shooter’s attention.  And before some prim and proper person retorts that they will not get down on that nasty, sticky theater floor with who-knows-what on it, let me make something clear to you.  Nothing spilled on that floor will be as bad for your future as your own blood.

If you are standing when the action starts, run at an angle, ideally about 45 degrees from the way the gunman is facing if possible.  Despite what you see in the movies, there is only about a 4% chance of a single running target at an angle being hit unless the ground is swept by true automatic fire.  Whether crawling or running, keep moving until you find hard cover or an exit from the firing.  There generally will remain plenty of easy targets for the shooter who will not want to waste ammunition on targets harder to hit.

Become aware of the shots fired and the duration of fire as well as how the gunman is using the weapon.  For example, it looks very cool in the movies for the gangsta to hold the pistol sideways but it destroys the ability to aim and balistically become difficult to hit a target, especially a moving one.  Full auto weapons, rare in these type of events, are often out of ammunition in a hurry.  An UZI or Mac-10 will empty a clip in a couple of seconds.  Listen for the receiver or bolt to lock open or click meaning either a need to reload or a jam.  Unless the gunman is a trained shooter that will, for a few seconds, distract them and turn their attention to the weapon not to you or the targets.  Now move and move fast.

But what if there is no place to run or take cover?  What if the bad guy is right on top of you at point blank range and your life as well as the lives of any loves ones are now in serious risk?  You have two very simple and very clear choices.  Resign yourself and your loved ones to their fates and do nothing… or devote every fiber of your being into taking the SOB out.

Make no mistake, this is the second highest risk course of action (the first is just sitting or standing there and trusting to fate) but your odds are better than zero and when that is all you have, you take it and run with it or die where you sit.  It is simply delusional to think that faced with a crazed killer on a rampage, your best bet is to sit quietly and smile to show them you are no threat.  Get real, no one was a real threat to them before and virtually all of their human inhibitions have been somehow silenced at this point.  Talking nicely to them is like talking nicely to a rattlesnake ready to strike.  Neither one can really hear you nor care what you are saying.  If the gunman has some intention of surviving this then anyone who has seen and can identify them is a threat and they will act accordingly our of primal self survival instincts.  This is the time to let your own primal instincts take over.

All humans are subject to issues of reaction time.  It takes about ½ second for the average brain to react to and identify action and start the response.  Action, especially direct action, is always faster than reaction.  Always (well unless some physical restriction or distance makes your actions much slower than normal).  So once you are committed, go for it with all of your strength and speed; let the adrenalin do its thing to help you.  You must be at your most ferocious and savage if you wish to survive this close encounter; anything less shifts the odds back into the gunman’s favor.

If possible move when their reaction to you will take the most distance and time to complete, or if they are distracted by somnething else or the need to reload or clear a jam.  Otherwise let surprise be on your side.

Don’t have any sense of false bravado here.  You are at a major disadvantage here unless your life has had its share of training to deal with such things as bullets coming at you; even then the guy with the gun has the best odds unless you are very good and very close.  If you do not have less than 10-15 feet of open ground to cover at a moment of distraction, then escape by running at angles is your best chance… when possible.

When it is not possible to run, the goals of your action are simple:  If you are otherwise unarmed, control the shooter’s hands to get the weapon pointed in some other direction (or out of his hands) and then incapacitate or kill the shooter.  And if another potential victim moves first, take advantage of that distraction to help them.  But do not fall back into “polite society mode” just yet.  This will be a true life and death struggle which you can survive only at the expense of the bad guy.  Let the miscreant gunman pay the price for this rather than more innocent lives and especially more than your own.  The moment you decide to be nice may be your last.

Much as adrenalin will help there is nothing that will help as much as practice and training.  The good news is that most non-professionals that end up on a rampage are not well trained either; but you can’t count on it.  There are good self defense courses nearly everywhere that use selected martial arts moves but designed for self protection and survival.  Take one.  No book, no blog, no video can ever properly prepare you for such an encounter.  Better than nothing at their best by helping you think through your actions, but worse than nothing if they give you a sense of invulnerability.  Take a class.  Until you have actually taken a punch I guarantee you the first one to your face will stun you into inaction.  And the first bullet or knife cut, even a flesh wound, will hurt so much as to debilitate you for a moment and that moment is all the bad guy will need to finish the job.

In a day and age when more and more people are giving their own survival over to the government in one way or another, who think the cavalry will be able to rush to the rescue and pull your sorry fat out of the fire, remember the old adage of the prepared:  “When seconds count the police will arrive in minutes.”  The only one that can save you during those first seconds… is you.

What if you are armed and trained?  Then take the bad guy out.  Period. End of discussion.

Learn to detect someone wearing body armor; if worn under their clothing, how does that change their appearance and basic conformation?  Police are often trained to do a three shot sequence: two shots to center of mass (the so-called “double tap”) and if the target is not on its way to the ground then one more shot to the triangle area formed by the brow ridge and base of the nose is all that is needed.  Personally I’ve never seen any real reason for the initial chest shots except for poor marksmanship or too long a range.  A person shooting into a crowd needs to be dropped in his or her tracks.

The “double tap” to center of mass is a fatal combination but incapacitation is not necessarily instantaneous… though it serves a PR function for the police department.  You have no such constraints and if you have armed yourself then you have the responsibility, in my opinion, to so well train yourself as to be capable of using your weapon with no collateral damage.

But remember, a heavy dose of adrenalin makes you stronger and faster but it also destroys fine motor skills in favor of gross motor skills.  Only training and muscle patterning will allow you to predictably hit the side of the Pentagon at 10 paces.  You can not be a nice guy and play Lone Ranger ro shoot the gun out of their hands, you cannot rely on a wounding shot, say, to an arm or leg, to incapacitate the shooter and bring the action to a halt, especially if they are on drugs.  To try that will get you or more people shot by now enraged shooters.  And finally, guns designed for easy and concealed carry are following design constraints opposed to designs to make the gun more accurate over distances.  Unless you invest as much money into customizing and training with your carry gun as you might spend on a small car, you are going into battle with a barely adequate weapon and not one anyone intentionally going into a gun fight would choose.  The only advantage of a concealed weapon is surprise and once that is lost the odds go back to the better armed.

The only shot guaranteed to end the encounter on the spot it to take out a brain or spinal cord.  Even a heart shot may allow 5-10 seconds of return fire unless hit with a round of such shock as to shut down the central nervous system.

If you are willing to act at all with a carry gun train yourself to take a very fast shot that will predictably end the encounter instantly.  Or leave the damn thing at home because you will otherwise just get yourself or others killed as well as providing another weapon to the bad guys..

In the end, if you find yourself in such a situation, the odds of survival are totally in your own hands.  Not the police, not the FBI, not the newsman, not the fireman, not the EMT, not the building owner or lessee… yours and yours alone.  To refuse to accept that ugly fact simply, in my opinion, adds more chlorine to the gene pool and I can only hope if we are in the same situation going down when the bullets start filling the air, your panic or complete inaction will provide the distraction I need to serve my own survival.  I’d really rather have your help dealing physically with the bad guy, but if you can’t or won’t help directly than will you at least give him a good distracting target of opportunity? If you wish to commit suicide by crazed gunman then that is your choice to make, but if you are going to do it anyway could you try to time it to give me, and any others willing to react, the best chance of success?

For those who have never faced death head on, I know that will sound unbelievably brutal and nasty.  I hope for you a world in which you will never have to face such stuff, never come face to face with the implement of your own impending death, never have to decide between life and death for yourself or a loved one.  That ought to be everyone’s goal and plan.

To be fair, in your favor are the statistics that show the vast majority of people, even including law enforcement officers, never have to face such things in their entire lives and careers.  But those statistics were meaningless for the moviegoers in that theater in Aurora, on the planes during 911, in the MacDonald’s in Chula Vista a few years ago, in the schools such as Columbine, Tierra Santa, or Virginia Tech.  Are you prepared for the plan to fail and those statistics to become meaningless for you or loved ones?

OK, at the start of this I mentioned the follow up part to better analyze the shootings from an political/philosophical point of view for the next part in this series.   But to try to avoid being as foolish as those already leaping into the discussion with their own conclusions, let me allow a little more time for more data to be revealed about the whole circumstances of this shooting.  I want to know the actual reality, not the Michael Moore style fantasy reality.

Moore’s idiot movie on Columbine showed an amazing ability to avoid the reality of the laws on the books at that time and create a perception of that place and time that bore virtually no connection to the truth.  How can i say that?  Good question.  First of all my years working with the DPD gave me access to people to talk about it from their side; my production company’s CFO was uncle to one of the Columbine students who was there and had his best friend killed at his side and survived by following some of the advice I have given here; and, for years i shot firearms competitively in the area, shot frequently at the police range with the instructors, and was a close follower and intimately familiar with Colorado and Denver, and Federal gun laws.  And i can tell you categorically that Moore’s movie was more lie than truth, more spin than fact, and so ideologically tainted as to render it a disservice to anyone seaking real answers to the real problems of public violence.

Do not base your own potential survival in such circumstances on such putrid ideological BS!.

Well, actually that is not completely candid or honest of me to say that. The truth is I am indifferent to the outcome if you want to lower your own odds of survival so long as you do not imperil those of myself, or of people I love.  But don’t get behind laws and regulations based on such skewed perspectives and, in the end, make matters far worse.  To do so, and only succeed in making it less safe for the innocents at the next incident makes you, in my opinion, as bad an actor as the gunmen themselves because you are contributing, albeit indirectly, to the carnage.

To stop or at least to minimize the incidents such as this needs a complex approach that encompasses review of some laws but also of the trends of our culture and society. Murder is and has been against the law for a very long time.  Trying to stop murder by demonizing the tools is like trying to enforce traffic laws by demonizing the automobile.

These things do not occur in a vacuum.  The important question is why do they occur and is it possible to try to stop or at least slow down the number of incidents.  I actually believe we can but not by getting softer and gentler and facilitating such things.  And not by making sure that the good guys, the innocent people, are rendered incapable of defending or protecting themselves.

Meantime, practice your situational awareness.  What actions or things are out of place?  In you classroom or office or home or wherever is there a place of safe and hard cover?  Are there the materials to make yourself bullet proof?   Can you turn your room or some room into a safe room if the building or campus comes under attack?  Get together with colleagues and friends to discuss it and see what you can do, as a group, to prepare yourselves for such awful eventualities.

Bottom line: start taking responsibility for your own safety because when seemingly out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, the bullets start flying or bombs exploding, you are the only one you can look to increase your odds of coming out of it alive.

When I next address this in Part Two I will have anough data to try to formulate me own solutions and, if necessary, laws that I think will help the situation.  But this is too important for ideologically inspire haste so bear with me.  A post or two may intervene because I don’t know what will be the speed of further data disclosures on the shooting and the shooter, but I will get back to it and try my best to offer some solutions.

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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Double Tragedy in Arizona

San Diego – The senseless shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona brought back memories of the Columbine shootings in Denver.  I was there (actually quite close by) when it happened and a close friend and business associate had a nephew who survived it when friends all around him did not.  So from that and the fact that I had spent years doing training videos for the Denver Police and so got inside data from them, I was privy to first-hand information about what went down.  Fortunately the mentally disabled people who generally commit such heinous acts of extreme and only semi-directed violence are terrible at it.  Had the two boys at Columbine been even halfway good at it the blood bath would have been far more extreme. Likewise, had this character in Arizona been good at it, he was sufficiently equipped to have done far more killing than he did (although, Keith Obermann and Rachel Maddow to the contrary, he did not have an assault weapon).

That is, I know, slim or no consolation to those who tragically lost loved ones or who were injured in the event;  but for others it is a blessing.  The event itself, and all of those like it, are examples of the worst expressions of human behavior, the most unacceptable displays of unchecked infantile rage, and the most pathetic examples of a system failing itself and its constituents.  In nearly every such case the perpetrators left mountains of clues and usually when the perpetrators were young, their parents knew enough to be profoundly concerned but were in deep denial.  So instead of seeking help for their children and saving not only their lives but others, they turned away and in doing so facilitated these heinous acts.  They couldn’t be bothered and were just too wrapped up in their own lives and careers to worry overly much about their kids even though in the case of Columbine, one of the kid’s parents saw the shotgun and pipe bombs and still… said nothing.  So not only were innocent people killed, families were emotionally and psychologically destroyed too.  (And for the record, from someone who was there and conversant with the events and the laws of the area,  Michael Moore’s idiotic movie about it had only an occasional and utterly coincidental connection to reality and the truth.  It was simply another excuse for him to make money from his disciples and press his own agenda despite facts to the contrary.)

And now as the great polarization of our country’s political views continues and escalates, another tragedy has occurred especially in this last event that has simply served to divide us even more deeply.  From the New York Times to the Senate to the Sheriff on the scene, this has become an opportunity for unconscionable political jabs long before a shred of evidence was brought to support any such assertions and continues now even after evidence is becoming available that clearly refutes it.   Administration personnel famously said they should never miss opportunities provided by a crisis to further their goals.  But this is beyond the pale.  And it wreaks of hypocrisy as excesses on BOTH sides are ignored or misconstrued in order to focus on unsupported connections and ties in order to further their own political agendas.  I would not be surprised to see it as the source for Moore’s next epic diatribe of cosmic inanity.

That a United States Legislator and a Federal Judge (or any public servant) would be assassinated at all is a tragedy for our country and its system.  It is a specially egregious tragedy when a young girl, whose life is full of promise and potential is snuffed out in a heartbeat for zero reason.  No one had a grudge against her, she was a true innocent and utterly unconnected to anyone’s philosophy, political leanings,  or personal anger.  There are no series of dots that even the most extreme spinmeisters can connect to lead from political points of view to her senseless death.  It was simply the work of a psychotic brain run amuck.

But it is also a tragedy for the whole country when small minded politicians and politically biased newspapers and journals play loose and hard with the facts — or have NO facts — and still try to somehow place blame on the other side’s philosophies and policies.  I listened in amazement as a caller to a talk show ranted on about how this was completely the fault of talk show rhetoric but when asked could provide not a single instance to support the contention.  but that lack of personal knowledge did not even slow down the certainty they had that they were right and all people on the “right” should find it hard to sleep at night after this.    It is a tragedy for honesty and objective reporting, a tragedy for integrity and a stake through the heart for people to be able to believe utterances of those they should be able to trust.   But mostly it bespeaks a tragedy for the underpinnings of civil society that runs deeper than simple biased partisanship.  All sides have cooperated in setting this in motion over the past several decades so there are no good guys here.

We are increasingly a society whose progressive attitudes eschew any dichotomy of “right” and “wrong” and who desperately want to create a society in which we can entertain all manner of choices of actions and behaviors but face no consequences for them since that would imply, gasp, there are rights and wrongs.  We do not want bad guys to be seen as responsible for their actions and we do not want good guys to profit from theirs.   And so we inevitably and predictably arrive at a place where instead of seeing this mentally dysfunctional kid who had been tossed out of school after frightening both teachers and other kids, who ranted incoherent venom on the web, who left a trail of personal animas at the main victim, not as the responsible person, but as somehow a victim of the other side’s beliefs.   And in that effort to avoid any implication of personal responsibility/accountability for choices and behaviors we escalate the idiocy to claims of incitement to violence that have never, ever occurred.  We facilitate reoccurrence by trying to find blame not  in the perpetrator, but elsewhere, specifically in those with whom we disagree.

So this event is drowning in tragedy.  I do not wish by any means to seem to diminish the personal side of this tragedy; of the lives lost or ruined or damaged in some ways by this psychotic act; but I fear that a longer lasting tragedy will be for our system if from this, we cannot learn to steer clear of the vitriol that consumes our national discourse at present.  We have to stop seeing the other side of the political aisle as necessarily the bad guys filled with evil intent.  Competing political and economic philosophies are not a new occurrence; bright people have and will come down on all sides.  But intelligent people can discuss and debate their differences without resorting to violence, and the really intelligent ones can do it without resorting even to violent rhetoric.  But we, as a culture, seem to have lost something incredibly valuable and that was our sense of moral behavior.  And that, I believe, is the existing, continuing tragedy that facilitated this latest tragedy.

When I was in High School I lived on a farm.  I had a number of guns of my own that were kept, usually, in my closet.  I practiced constantly with them, hunted with them, basically was quite good with them.   Because I had chores to do in the mornings and evening I often missed the bus and had to drive to school even before it was completely legal.  That was common in that community.  Meantime, as farm kids, we fought frequently.  Sometimes we knew we were in for a brawl and sometimes knew we were likely to be on the loosing end of it.  But though we had bullies, and some tough ones at that, despite the fact that I could easily have put a weapon in my car and brought it to school to change the outcome of the expected encounter, it never once occurred to me (nor, apparently, to any of the others) to do so.  Why?  Because we were raised to know that was not acceptable.  Even the “bad kids” knew better.  We were taught morality by the simple expedient of learning that behaviors have consequences (which is all that morality is really all about at its core) and those consequences could be dire… more dire than whatever short term gain we might have realized from the unacceptable behavior.  We were taught a code of behavior which we internalized and embraced.  Some of us still have it though we are now a dying breed I think.

But as our society has increasingly adopted a view that behavior and choices should not have any consequences we have, in essence, facilitated and then even legislated immorality.  No one stepped in to tell the shooters at Columbine or the shooter in Arizona that this type of behavior was not to be tolerated; no one pointed out graphically and clearly to them that it was, in fact, worse than any affront they may believe themselves to have suffered.  As bad as the failure of law enforcement was, far worse was the failure of parentage.  When parents, for whatever reason, fail in their duties to teach their children about choices and consequences and when those lessons are tested as is part of all growing up, but an object lesson is not forthcoming as an educational experience; or, worse, if the parent finally recognizes that something is not wired correctly in their children to allow them to operate properly in a civil society, help is not sought out immediately, then it is pointless to blame law enforcement or “the other side” for the final behaviors.  Only the parent can be pro-active: law enforcement can only be re-active.  Maybe they are afraid, maybe they feel inadequate, maybe they feel guilty for some real or imagined failure as a parent over something else, maybe they think they will stifle their kids’ creativity.  What idiocy; parents these days seem more interested in being best friends than in being parents.  But that is a failure of parenting and a huge loss for the children and sometimes their future.  Get real:  there is no “village” that can compensate for it.  Parents are the first models of behavior most children accept.   As was stated in Ecclesiastes, “Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  It is not the job of teachers, police, friends, and certainly not TV or movies.  Increasingly leaving a kids peers as the sole input of behavioral ethics is simply the blind leading the blind.  It is time for a collective re-reading of “Lord of the Flies” to help us see where left to their own devices where socially immature minds will go.

It would be nice to think that this tragic event could lead us to re-examine this myth of consequence-free choices, this myth that society, meaning the schools, the neighborhood, the police, the “village”, is responsible for bringing up kids and not the parents; and the myth that in the end, we are not responsible for ourselves and our own actions but should be able to look elsewhere — ANYwhere– except internally for blame or at least causality.  So for all of those politicos out there desperate for ammunition to spew at the opposition, this is not about political rhetoric, it is about a generation or two of policy that has chipped away at our culture’s values and at the supreme value of parents in the setting of those values in the minds and hearts of our children.

But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that re-examination to happen.  And as we as a society and culture, lose that common standard of behavior, that common view of morality and social interaction that  was the defining glue of our culture, then we will slowly evaporate into a world very different than was anticipated and hoped for by our ancestors.  Nowadays parents fear that if their children do not like the discipline they will call the police on the parents for child abuse; we see increasing acceptance of previously intolerable actions based on such sterling concepts as the “mordida” or machismo.  We are on the edge of accepting honor killings as OK.   I believe as that happens we will see more not less of such events as happened in Arizona this past weekend and until we learn to (a) declare there are somethings that are simply WRONG and start teaching such a code again as parents and educators, and (b) place the responsibility where it belongs instead of on some easy target that helps us sell our personal biases, it will only get worse until out of fear we adopt policies to protect ourselves from all the wrong sources an in doing so be vulnerable to the really scary things coming from our midst.  The really sad thing is there are people who want exactly that outcome.  And I think at the moment they may be the ones driving the bus.

So unless those of us who think differently get willing to stand up and demand a re-examination, then they will win… and probably before long.  Think not?  All you have to do is want to get on on airplane to see those fear-based losses in action already.

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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


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