One problem with anonymous tips is obvious: the tipster may be Shannon Richardson looking for a blithe exit from a confining marriage to a “gun nut,” or the tipster may be a dope dealer or stick-up artist thinning the competitive herd. Of course, if you’re of the mindset that guns, not criminals, produce crime, paying criminals to snitch on gun owners must look positively brilliant.
Then, there’s the less obvious but always present danger of sliding into a Stasi society. Watch The Lives of Others for a cinematic indication of some of the things wrong with that, or read back numbers of Der Spiegel from the early nineties, when Germany’s main espionage problem was German on German, not red, white and blue.
And finally, there’s the completely non-obvious, except to anyone who has watched governmental organizations at work for any length of time, emergence of the classic Agency Problem (as in someone being the “agent” for a second person, and having misaligned interests; it has nothing to do with government organizations who call themselves “agencies,” except insofar as they, too, are prone to the Agency Problem). This happens when the rewards programs get hijacked by insiders, which always happens sooner or later.
An NYPD detective is jammed up, after having bent a city Gun Snitch program towards his own ends, rather than the citizen disarmament that was and is at the core of Operation Gun Snitch. The New York Times:
Amid the hundreds of tips on illegal guns that flow into the New York Police Department each year, there was something wrong with Tip No. 7590.
It came not from a concerned citizen eager to rid the city of a weapon, investigators found, but from a veteran detective assigned to the program, known as Operation Gun Stop, who fraudulently transformed himself into a tipster in order to collect a reward after a gun arrest had already been made.
The detective, John Malloy, was arraigned on an indictment Thursday in Criminal Court in Manhattan. He is facing six counts of felony forgery and five counts of offering a false instrument, also a felony, in addition to attempted petit larceny and official misconduct.
Operation Gun Snitch rewards snitches, even if they’re crooked cops like Malloy, very well: the program, began in the “what’s so bad about a police state?” mayoralty of Rudolph Guiliani, pumped its rewards up to $1,000 per ratted-out gun under the “criminals aren’t the problem, guns are the problem” regime of Mike Bloomberg. (The data from the “criminals are my constituents, where’s the problem?” regime of Bill DeBlasio are not in yet, but they’re going to be interesting). Bloomberg also sped up payment of the bounties: 72 hours from tip to cash, tipsters! And he did it all without reaching into his own bulging pockets, thanks to the generosity of the New York taxpayers.
The program also yields a lot of non-gun arrests, and a lot of raids on and hassles of people who presumably weren’t doing anything wrong (because they weren’t arrested). Here are some stats:
NYPD has received 574 tips, resulting in 288 arrests and the recovery of 133 illegal guns.
So, almost exactly half of the tips yield an arrest, but less than half the arrests — 23% of the total tips — yield a gun. Given that all guns in New York are illegal, unless people are calling in tips on the Lower Manhattan nomenklatura and their hired Praetorians, 77% false positives seems like it’s kind of weak. But then, there’s no downside for a false tip, and a potential thousand bucks for every right one. That’s a recipe for lots of calls — and, over time, declining hit percentages.
Steven King could have a bestseller with this, but the odds that it was a malevolent, demonically possessed 1957 ChryslerLawn Rocket Grassmaster are considerably lower than the odds that it was just a stupid, preventable accident.
The fact of the matter is, homo sapiens sapiens is a fragile and flimsy animal, compared to our fellow creations, the beasts of the field and forest. It takes less to kill one of us than to kill a bear, or deer, or cow, or dog. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to exercise caution in all we do, lest we too star in a posthumous headline.
Anything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing, so please take care out there.
This film is dedicated to the idea that the viewer may want to operate the principal infantry weapons of the German Wehrmacht. It describes them and walks through their operation, assuming a basic familiarity with their American counterparts and keying on the differences.
In retrospect, it’s clear the USA had the advantage in three weapons in particular, the basic infantry rifle (the M1 providing superior firepower to the Karabiner 98), the pistol (1911 vs. Pistole 08) and the hand grenade (the Mk.2 delivering far more killing and wounding potential than the Stielhandgranate 24). Submachine guns were a wash, although the German provision of higher quantities as the war went on was notable; and German and US mortars were broadly equivalent, except for the 4.2″ rifled mortar which has a complicated set of pros and cons versus its German 120mm smoothbore analogue. The Germans had the edge in machine guns by any reasonable measure.
While this film is dedicated to the idea that combat soldiers should be able to pick up and employ any foreign weapon in extremis, field results were uneven. In June 1944, many Allied paratroopers picked up German weapons to supplement their own firepower or replace lost or damaged weapons. This didn’t always work well.
In combat, all senses are at work, including hearing, and the very distinct sound of a German machine gun meant that the American that grabbed one found himself drawing American fire every time he lit up. There are quite a few such stories.
In Vietnam and some of the African guerrilla wars, a clue to the origin of fire was that American and most Western tracers of the 1960s were red, and Russian and Chinese ones were green. The average war-movie watcher would never see that (because real tracers can’t be used in movie making!) but the average combat soldier will never forget it.
An experience every concealed carrier prepares for, but no reasonable carrier wants, came to a Pennsylvania doctor Thursday, when, for reasons that are unclear (except that the guy is a certified nutball), a certified nutball opened fire on his caseworker and the doc.
The doctor pulled out his own firearm, and when the shooting was over, the doc was grazed, but standing; and the nutball was on his way to another wing of the hospital, where his three gunshot wounds (one in the arm but two in the torso) have been treated.
The suspect, Richard Plotts, of Upper Darby, Pa., was reported in critical condition after the shooting at 2:20 p.m. in an office at the Mercy Wellness Center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at an evening news conference.
The unidentified 52-year-old doctor shot Plotts three times and suffered a graze wound when the suspect returned fire, Whelan said at an evening news conference. Two guns were recovered.
Another doctor and caseworker tackled Plotts in a hallway and held him until police arrived.
Whelan said Plotts, who has a history of unspecified psychiatric problems, and his caseworker arrived at the doctor’s third-floor office about 2 p.m., Whalen said. Soon after, another staffer heard a loud argument and opened the door to find the suspect pointing a gun at the doctor. The worker then closed the door and call 911.
Unfortunately Plotts’s caseworker, a 53-year-old woman who has not been identified, was killed by Plotts’s shots. According to another story, Plotts was known to be combative.
The doctor who saved his life, and who knows how many others (possibly even nutball Plotts’s, because these nutballs’ shooting sprees usually culminate in self-destruction) may have lost his job in the process.
Hospital spokeswoman Bernice Ho described Plotts as a “victim” in a prepared statement, and condemned the doctor for violating Mercy Health Systems’ corporate weapons policy, which is to die in place in the 20 minutes it takes for a 911 call to turn into a cop on the scene.
Not everyone was as quick as Ho to blast the doctor. (Well, Potts was apparently all for blasting him, in his own way). District attorney Jack Whelan said the doctor, “from all accounts, would have acted in self-defense… his life was in jeopardy.” Police Chief Donald Molineaux was even more explicit in his praise for the defensive doctor:
I believe the doctor saved lives. Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could’ve went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition.
Even after receiving life-threatening wounds, Plotts still tried to flee, but another doctor and caseworker tackled and disarmed him. They were also praised by the authorities.
It is as simple as this: will you take responsibility for your safety, or will you trust to luck or chance that no Richard Plotts will insert himself into your life? If the doctor had taken the advice of Michael Bloomberg or Shannon Watts he would be dead. Hell, even Bloomberg and Watts don’t take their own advice — they’re wealthy enough yto have paid bodyguards.
By and large, all infantrymen of all nations from the era of cartridge firearms “went to the same schools.” But there are subtle national and organizational differences. This OSS-developed training film from World War II shows some of the peculiarities of German infantry tactics, as observed by American and Allied intelligence.
The OSS had a Field Photographic Branch that made a large quantity of such films, although few were in color; it was staffed, in part, with Hollywood talent on both sides of the camera. This particular film unfortunately appears truncated at both ends and we’re seeking a full version.
They mention the distinctive woodpecker sound of the MG34 (which has a rate of fire much faster than Allied weapons like the M1919, or the submachine gun carried by the German sergeant. However, they don’t call it out when it occurs. You can hear it in the soundtrack, which appears to be largely dubbed; it is the fast one, quite unmistakeable. An MG42 is about 1/4 still faster than that!
As noted by the narrator (whose voice sounds very familiar; is he one of the legions of actors who found wartime employment with Bill Donovan?), the German Wehrmacht devolved rather more command authority on sergeants than Allied armies, with the one most likely to do so being the American, and the least likely, the French and Russian, who then had little respect for NCOs. (The Russians would, in the end, achieve similar excellence by a proliferation of junior officers doing jobs the NCOs would do in the West).
German practice also was unusually fluid with respect to officer selection and promotion. An effective sergeant in 1940 might well have been an effective colonel in 1944. This happened across the German services, except for the surface ships of the Kriegsmarine, who hewed to older naval traditions.The only Allied forces that offered similar advancement to other ranks were the Allied air forces, although the US did not employ sergeant pilots at all once the war got cooking, and in the British service advancement to officer rank also depended on things beyond pure performance and leadership potential (such as perceived class).
The high flexibility of German tactics and excellent tactical leadership pushed down all the way to squad level is one reason that the Wehrmacht, man for man, outfought the much larger Allied armies until overwhelmed. Many German ideas (including the highly mobile general purpose machine gun, which enabled these flexible tactics) were adopted worldwide in, and after, the war. But the German Wehrmacht is still a wellspring of ideas for the military leader, even today.
It is tragic that such a fine force fought with such valiant tenacity in such a bad cause. But that, too, is part of the nature of war. We can admire the valor of King Leonidas and his warrior elite, without wanting to have been part of a nation that assessed every newborn for warrior potential and fed the rejects to the wolves; we can thrill to the story of Hannibal’s doomed audacity, while relieved that no one expects us to make human sacrifices to Baal; we can ride, through the magic of the written word, with Stuart or Mosby while having no truck with slavery.
In some way, the warrior and war experience is universal, and we can consider it apart from history’s judgment on the warriors’ society, a cruel, cold, dispassionate judgment that no society long can escape.
Gabriel and Savage’s Crisis in Command is a widely read professional book of the 70s and 80s that contrasted the leadership style (and results) of the Wehrmacht, with that of the United States Army in Vietnam, much to the detriment of the Americans.
Apart from the MG34, a couple of other weapons are called out in the video. The sergeant’s MP40, or, as the moviemakers call it, incorrectly, “Schmeisser,” was dismissed as a mere noisemaker, deadly only at close range.
And the Stiehlhandgranate 24 comes in for discussion. As they note, it was an offensive, concussion grenade, which served to injure personnel and destroy equipment by blast, not fragmentation (later in the war a frag sleeve was made that could be slipped over the sheet metal casing of the explosive end of the grenade). It was an improvement of WWI grenades containing ammonium nitrate and tolite fillings inside a similar sheet metal, non-fragmentation can, and contained about a quarter-kilogram of TNT, about half the total weight of the grenade.
And the narration says, “Often six or seven of these potato mashers are tied together for a demolition charge.” The narrator is quite right; the Germans called this a Geballte Ladung, or “concentrated charge.” It was taught to engineers as well as infantry as an improvised anti-tank and anti-bunker tool.
The term geballte Ladung is also used colloquially where an English speaker would say, “a whole mess,” or perhaps, vulgarly, “a shitload,” of something.
Sorry for limited gun content the last couple of days, been finalizing a deal to buy a small US WWII collection, all original stuff except, alas, for the M1 SMG, which is a recent Kahr-produced Short Barreled Rifle.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit we never owned a 1903A3 before. It was actually still part of SF Light Weapons training back when your humble editor stumbled through that evolution.
As far as the Kahr is concerned, we’ll see if it’s any good when the Form 4 clears, sometime around when the Sun goes nova at the rate ATF has been doin’ ‘em. It’s a small fraction of the cost of buying one (and a small multiple of the cost of the one we’ve rented in Manchester from time to time). If we don’t like it, we’ll GunBroker it off.
We’re working on something others have worked on before us: trying to pin down what was the first submachine gun. The candidates are the Villar Perosa, which we discount on not being a shoulder-fired individual weapon; its individual-weapon offspring the OVP and Beretta M1918; and our original candidate for the honors, the German Bergmann MP.18. We only know the name of the designer of the Bergmann (Hugo Schmeisser). As is usual on any real quality post, it takes time to research these things, and not enough of the primary sources are digitized and online.
What would you do if you were police chief, and video surfaced of your officers… doing this?
In most places, the answer comes down to “obfuscate and run out the clock.” It even shows in what people call this: defense lawyers and, God help us, “community activists,” call it “police brutality.” Even the most censorious and judgmental cops call it “excessive force,” recognizing that in police work, especially with intoxicated, noncompliant suspects, sometimes force is necessary, but a good man keeps a lid on it. These guys recognized no lid.
So, you’re the Chief, what do you do? Remember, too, you have to lead this department and every officer will want to know whether your actions show intolerance of bad behavior, or just a white shirt who doesn’t have any of his blue shirt’s backs. What do you do?
Here’s what Lee Bitomski, the Chief (he was #2 at time of the incident, but the then-Chief retired before it came to light) in the small, decidedly blue-collar beach town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, did, according to Seacoast Online:
The town fired two of its police officers and reprimanded two others Wednesday for their involvement in or failure to report an alleged police brutality incident that occurred inside the station.
Police Chief Lee Bitomske has previously described the assault of then-19-year-old Michael Bergeron Jr. as a “dark cloud” that was hanging over the department since station surveillance video of the incident went viral in January..
He and other officials said Wednesday, though, that the termination of officers Mark Richardson and Adam Laurent, the two-day suspension of Officer Keith Dietenhofer and the demotion of Lt. John Wasson, the three officers’ supervisor, may have “lifted” that cloud.
The two guys who were fired are Richardson, the big gorilla who slams the stoned kid’s face into the wall, and Laurent, the guy who pepper-sprays him after his second bounce off the wall and down. Dietenhofer and Wasson were complicit more in the non-reporting and cover-up of the incident, and Wasson, who before the incident was exposed was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant wasn’t just “demoted,” he rocketed all the way back down to Patrolman for his failure of ethical leadership in this case.
Dietenhofer was not fired, because his report was more a lie of omission than commission, but the report was critical enough of his integrity that he will have considerable difficulty testifying in cases contested by capable criminal defense attorneys.
Laurent’s stated reason for spraying Bergeron was interesting: he had observed that a person can’t spit after being sprayed, and Bergeron had been trying to spit on the cops. He didn’t do that any more after he got a face full of wall followed by pepper spray. But other facets of Laurent’s report and testimony are contradicted by the video, calling his credibility into question.
Richardson also faces criminal charges for assault while a police officer, which is a specific crime in New Hampshire. (Everybody holds cops to a higher standard, but the Granite State writes it into the law books).
Is that a perfect outcome? We don’t know. We have read the independent report (a very good technique for a small PD that’s too little and too tight to do its own internal investigation, by the way) and we’ll let you read it yourself and draw your own conclusions. The report does make it clear that Bergeron (the kid who dents the concrete-block wall with his face) was a problem suspect, alternatively cooperative and belligerent, but it also makes it clear that the officers were wrong, did wrong, and knew they did wrong. Here it is:
So is the outcome (one charge, two firings, one big demotion, one small suspension) perfect? Probably not. But we do think it’s about as good as you can expect from a government agency. Compare, for example:
Who’s been demoted and fired in the VA’s policies that scammed the taxpayers out of millions in undeserved bonuses, and led to the deaths of scores if not hundreds of deaths? Nobody and no one.
Who’s been fired in the ATF’s gunwalking operations, still not fully exposed, which provided thousands of powerful weapons to ATF pals in Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, guns that have gone on to be used in the murders of at least two US Federal Agents and literally hundreds of Mexicans? Nobody and no one.
And who’s been fired in the egregious case where an untrained cop on an untrained SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade in a 19-month-old baby’s crib? Nobody. No one. (Aside: in that case, the baby’s come home, having relearned to walk after suffering from burns, a coma, and possibly some degree of permanent brain damage — something you’ll only learn in the English press as our guys are too busy pitching in on Hillary!’s book tour).
The key failure, and the key problem, of representative government and particularly of law enforcement in the 21st Century is Accountability.
Bergeron, the suspect, asked to play this video at his trial. The judge said no, so after the trial was over he put it on YouTube, where it went viral — and ultimately unleashed this investigation, and these consequences. Truth wants a way out. And everybody knew the truth of it.
Officer Dietenhofer said as he recalled his thoughts about the incident that he was concerned
about Bergeron after he was sprayed with OC, also thinking “oh, shit, that must have hurt”
referring to the slam against the wall.
A wall, by the way, has a lot of utility as a weapon. You just have to use it when your use of force is justified. Officer Richardson, the 6’6″ 270-lb cop who applied the wall to the face of the 6’2″ 145-pound Bergeron, gets to make that argument to a jury of his peers soon. We would not exchange places with him.
We recognize it’s hard to make hairsplitting decisions about use of force when some mouthy kid is trying to spit on you, and full of beer (or drug) muscles and the associated belligerence. But that’s just when you have to do it. It’s not fair at all, but there it is.
Now, you might wonder what happened to Michael Bergeron, the belligerent teenage suspect who got his belligerence knocked out of him that night in 2009, and went on to post the video that started a couple of misfit cops on their way to a more suitable career. We wish we could report he went to MIT and is a research chemist, but you probably know that’s not coming — any research chemistry he ever did was of the recreational pharmaceutical variety.
Presently, he’s doing 3 1/2 to 7 in state prison for burglary. One supposes you could argue that the cops beat him into criminality, but what are the odds? More likely, he’s living proof that sometimes a second chance is wasted on a guy.
This post has been updated from its original posting. We replaced the image-based .pdf of the Seabrook report with an OCR’d version that allows you to select and copy text. We haven’t checked the OCR, but it’s usually pretty good with the program we use. -Eds.
Update II — we added some links to Bergeron’s unrelated criminal cases. He appears to be a career burglar (or maybe more comprehensively, a career druggie who supports his habit with burglary).
If you were to Google soldiersystems site:weaponsman.com, you’d see we’ve cited this useful site from time to time, but it’s never been our W4. How we overlooked it, we’re not sure. Time to rectify that oversight.
About 90% of what’s on Soldier Systems.net is press releases from military, weapons, tactical-gear (and “tactical” gear) vendors, and that kind of thing. Think of it as a kind of heads-up, a PEO Soldier for the rest of us. There’s also a little filler or crap — airsoft and other toys and novelties. Hey, their site, their rules, and it’s easy enough to scroll past the greasy kid stuff and on to useful things.
But while they usually just deliver the facts as they’re given ‘em, it’s on the occasions when they go into depth that they’re most interesting to us. An example is their SHOT Show coverage.
Still, they have incredibly weird and wonderful stuff all the time, because the range of press releases they suck in include not only the usual guns, and knives, and 300 variations of crap made of Cordura, but also oddities like Chain Mail Shoes (why? Well, why not?) and the Cash Cannon (a clever idea, but it’s either out of stock or vaporware).
In the past, Beretta General Counsel Jeff Reh has made it clear that the ancient Italian gunmaker’s American operations would be much more comfortably conducted in a State where the Governor and Legislature didn’t get their jollies vilifying gun manufacture. But moving Beretta is an enormous pain, because of ongoing Government contracts, hassles with local authorities, and the permitting process involved in some industrial processes that use hazardous materials: chroming bores, for example.
So, they figured that since new production lines would be the same hassle anywhere, they’d stand those up in the new place, and keep making the old stuff in the old place as long as it would sell. This also let them take care of their workers — something that matters to the Beretta family, even if it doesn’t mean much to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who’d rather see ‘em on welfare and dependent on him.
Then, Beretta’s folks actually dealt with the authorities and neighbors in their new factory location, and were astounded to find that, unlike Maryland, where they’re hated despite being one of the best employers for many miles around, in Tennessee they’re welcome. Very welcome. And not just because they’re spending nearly $50 million and bringing hundreds of jobs; Tennesseans are actually proud to be the New World home to everybody’s favorite 16th-Century Old World gun maker.
Meanwhile, O’Malley is beating the drum for more restrictions on guns and on manufacturing. Beretta USA General Manager, with the auspicious name, Jeff Cooper, in a Beretta PR:
“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper added.
They’re announcing it now, well in advance; the lines won’t be moving until next year, and the last one out before they turn out the lights will be military M9 production. Beretta seems to know that the venerable M9, adopted three decades ago amid controversy that’s never really abated, is reaching the end of its run; it’s been a good run for Beretta (and is probably the only reason the Italian decision-makers ever greenlit US production in the first place).
And, contrary to the press, it’s an OK gun for a service pistol, which is the least important weapon a military service ever buys. There’s a terrible mismatch of ink (or pixels) spilled and combat utility, probably because every clown who’s ever pontificated at a gun store thinks he’s an expert on pistols, and the only thing he knows about mortars is that they use the bombs as grenades in Saving Private Ryan, so he guesses that mortar bombs explode.
The transition of production from Beretta U.S.A.’s Maryland facility to the Tennessee facility will not occur until 2015 and will be managed so as not to disrupt deliveries to Beretta customers. Beretta U.S.A.’s production of the U.S. Armed Forces M9 9mm pistol will continue at the Accokeek, Maryland facility until all current orders from the U.S. Armed Forces have been filled.
What will happen to the workers? Well, their jobs in Maryland will end, and it’s very unlikely another manufacturer will step in to such a hostile environment. The managers will give employees a chance to move to youthful, growing Tennessee from aging Maryland; those that don’t want to move will be kept on as long as possible; a few will remain in office jobs, as Beretta doesn’t plan to move those.
Of course, they hadn’t planned to move the production jobs, either. And O’Malley and many other politicians really, really hate the company and its workers and products. No doubt, some of them voted for him: turkeys for Thanksgiving.
“We have not yet begun groundbreaking on the Tennessee facility and we do not anticipate that that building will be completed until the middle part of 2015,” continued Cooper. “That timing, combined with our need to plan an orderly transition of production from one facility to the other so that our delivery obligations to customers are not disrupted, means that no Beretta U.S.A. Maryland employee will be impacted by this news for many months. More importantly, we will use this time to meet with every Beretta U.S.A. employee whose Maryland job might be affected by the move to discuss with them their interest in taking a position at our new facility in Tennessee or, if they are not willing to do so, to lay out a long-term strategy for remaining with the Company while our production in Maryland continues.”
Beretta U.S.A. anticipates that the Gallatin, Tennessee facility will involve $45 million of investment in building and equipment and the employment of around 300 employees during the next five years.
Beretta U.S.A. has no plans to relocate its office, administrative and executive support functions from its Accokeek, Maryland facility.
Once they experience the delta between MD and TN taxes and regulations, who thinks the remaining office jobs are safe? The only thing keeping companies in Maryland at all is the desire to be close to government contracting offices in the National Capital Area. If there’s no follow-on to the M9 in Beretta’s future, what’s the use of maintaining the Accokeek office?