Category Archives: Safety

Some Threat Mitigation Theory

threat_modeling_shostackThis ties in very loosely to the physical security project. Perusing a book on network and communications-systems security for an unrelated project (Threat Modeling: Designing for Security by Adam Shostack) we discovered a few concepts worth lifting and sharing.

The lift is from his Chapter 9, and it addresses something that bosses and managers seldom “get” about threats: once you’ve figured out what your threats are, you need to figure out how to mitigate each one. And each mitigation has certain trade-offs involved; in fact, the title of Shostack’s Chapter 9 is: “Trade-Offs When Addressing Threats”.  He suggests you make a matrix or table with each threat listed along with your mitigation strategy, when you execute that strategy, and how. 

The three questions to answer about each threat are:

  1. What’s the level of risk?
  2. What do you want to do to address that risk?
  3. How are you going to achieve that?

He identifies the Classic Strategies as:

  1. Avoiding Risks
  2. Addressing Risks
  3. Accepting Risks
  4. Transferring Risks
  5. Ignoring Risks

Avoiding risks is not always possible, but you might decide, for example, not to do something if the risk is greater than the reward. For example, you can avoid the risk of burglary by not owning anything of value, or keeping all your valuables in a safety deposit box. But you can design to avoid certain risks.

Addressing risks means making design or operational changes – doing something to forestall the risk. For instance, if your neighborhood is at risk of smash-and-grab burglaries, you can harden your doors and windows and add an audible alarm. If you’re at risk of being mugged, you can carry a gun (well, in some places you can. Sorry, Chicagoans).

Accepting risks means you accept all the consequences of the risk coming to pass. This is best used when the risk is both highly improbable and rather inconsequential. It’s also sometimes necessary in combat. For example, the Navy SEAL element deployed as a reconnaissance and surveillance patrol on Operation Red Wings went in accepting the risk that if they were compromised, they were in deep doo-doo. They addressed that risk also, or tried to, with communications and backup. They also accepted the risk that if their QRF was interdicted (as it was, in the end), they were not just in deep doo-doo but in over their heads. As they were, in the end. But you have to accept some risks. If your risk analysis concludes you have avoided, addressed or transferred all the risks, there’s a high probability that you’re actually ignoring a risk you haven’t considered (see below).

Transferring risks is what happens when you fob a risk and its consequences off on another party. For example, GM with its faulty little Chevies transferred the risk to the motorists who bought one (or really, rented it, ’cause who buys those shitboxes?) The trial lawyers of America are salivating at the prospect of transferring the consequences of the risk back to GM.

Ignoring risks is the default position, and what it defaults to is unconsciously accepting the risk. This can take place by denying the risk, or recognizing it but trying to keep it secret (“security through obscurity.”) While obscurity can add an additional veil to any security posture, it’s far too weak to depend upon as a stand-alone method.

This book illustrates how almost any literature on safety and security has something you can take away from it for your own personal purposes. Much of the book is specific to hardening your network protocol stack against bad actors, protecting against spoofing, tampering, repudiation, information-disclosure, denial-of-service, and elevation-of-privilege threats (the STRIDE that network security weenies worry about). Some of those things have zero application to meatworld. But those that do, do, and reading outside your own comfort zone, or at least outside your area of greatest familiarity, can often kick free some unexpected ideas. Another concept from the book that might be a good example of something transferable to protecting you and yours, is the elaboration on the use of Bruce Schneier’s concept of attack trees in Chapter 4. That’s a post for another day, and Shostack’s discussion (and Schneier’s) are probably too academic for the individual looking to protect his family, home or business. But it’s an example of what you can find when you look beyond the bookshelf at Gun-Mart.

There’s Safety, and then there’s “Safety”

This bit of bozosity emanated from the subgeniuses at Bloomberg's latest coin-op astroturf gang. He pays these minions who do this stuff.

This bit of bozosity emanated from the ids of the subgeniuses at Bloomberg’s latest coin-op astroturf gang. He pays these minions who do this stuff. Hat tip Miguel.

Everybody’s talking about John Richardson’s post listing some of the homes of anti-gun extremists Mike Bloomberg (who became a billionaire as some kind of Wall Street speculator or peculator) and seasoned Democratic Party PR dolly Shannon Watts (who became a many-times-millionaire by marrying some kind of speculator or peculator, and sells herself as “just a mom” while her kids are raised by nannies). It’s hardly a new development that crushing the autonomic aspirations of the plebes is an amusement for the .01%, but John writes about it well, including his conflicted feelings about bashing them for their success:

When you live in a million dollar plus home in a plush neighborhood, your view of the world is just different. You don’t have crime at your doorstep and you really don’t have to worry about home invasions. And if you are Mr. Bloomberg, you have your own private armed security detail made up of ex-NYPD cops. I don’t know if Mr. Bloomberg provides armed security personnel to Mrs. Watts when she travels around the US on behalf of the Demanding Mommies but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

However, the populist streak in me is offended about being told that I should support gun control for my own good by people who live in a well-protected environment. Moreover, my liberal arts education makes me cringe at the perversion of the word “safety” by those who really mean prohibition and control by it. If you are going to be for gun control, at least be honest about it, like it was when the Brady Campaign was called Handgun Control, Inc.

And that’s what people have fixed on, from John’s post. Well, that, and the picture of the mostly tastless McMansions of Bloomberg, and John’s amusing coda about Shannon’s and her meal ticket’s futile attempt to bring are the modern-art light of Manhattan to the benighted rubes of Indiana. But we thought the most worthwhile part of his post was this (our emphasis): 

When it comes to real gun safety, it is the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and other gun rights organizations AND their members who do the grunt work of promoting gun safety. We are the ones running the Eddie Eagle classes, we are the ones teaching kids how to handle a firearm safely at home and at camp, we are the ones who invest our hard-earned money into safes, locks, and other security devices, and we are the ones providing classes to abused spouses so that they can learn how to protect themselves. And we are doing it every day in everytown at the grassroots level.

via No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money: The Houses Of “Everytown”.

Bingo. The media, ever anxious to lap up any Bloomberg spillings, has billed his latest money dump as a “grassroots effort,” which shows that you can get a degree in English or Journalism and lack a ninth-grade grasp of connotation and denotation. Mothers, don’t let your babies grow up to be journos.

The real grassroots are people you’ll never see in the press, like our friend Steve, who has taught many thousands how to defend themselves safely and legally since his Army retirement; our go-to FFL Mark, who does the same, and partners with a lady instructor to bring self-defense how-to to women in a comfortable environment; all the dads and uncles we know that take kids to the range; and the range masters that accommodate youth shooting to the extent that their insurers let them.

We originally wrote that, “the real grassroots are people you’ve never heard of,” but unlike journalists, we’re concerned about the meanings of words; you may live in California or Arizona or Europe and will never meet Steve, or Mark, or our local rangemasters, but you can put names to other people who toil away in this sort of anyonymous service in your town. This is what “grassroots” means if you are not a journalist.

The real grassroots are people that journalists never get to know, let alone write about. It seems that the prime take-away from j-school is an in-group morality that demands that they tread upon the afflicted and fellate the comfortable,  And, after all, safety is never a news story, unless some zillionaire is using the mere word as a fig leaf for giving his inner Nazi what it wants.

One Way to Make an AR go Kaboom

One really good way is to fire a .300 BLK in a 5.56mm rifle. Here’s a story of such an event, from a bystander who talked to the lucky (to escape serious injury) shooter, who was transformed in milliseconds from an AR owner to a former AR owner in possession of some scrap metal.

Once we determined the shooter was physically OK, I wanted to get out of their business, so I didn’t get any photos of the rifle, but I can describe the damage. In short, it was pretty much totaled. Perhaps the Magpul front hand guard, rear stock and trigger group can be salvaged. That’s about it.

The magazine blew up, along with spring and follower. And you can see what happened to the other rounds in the picture here. I *believe* the fact that he was using a polymer magazine may have saved the shooter from additional injury. The explosion clearly took the path of least resistance. Perhaps a metal magazine would have allowed more pressure to go in other directions in addition to out the magazine well.

The magazine well on the lower was bulged out. Kind of like an Elmer Fudd cartoon shotgun. The upper receiver was also bulged out from the explosion.

The bolt and carrier were both trashed – bent all to hell and completely stuck in the upper and barrel extension.

I assume the barrel extension and barrel were trashed, but as everything was fused together, there was no way to tell for sure until they rip things apart. Shoving a .308 inch diameter bullet into a .223 inch hole is asking for damage I would think.

While I was not shocked at the damage to the aluminum upper and lower, I was surprised at how much the bolt carrier and bolt were trashed. That’s hard stuff there.

Yeah, it’s hard stuff, but a 5.56 NATO load is already creeping close to the limit load of the system, with respect to chamber pressures. Eliminate the possibility for that load to be tapped off by a gas route out of the chamber and down the barrel, and bad things happened.

With the brief opportunity I had to look, that’s about all I could tell. But now I was curious. Would similar rounds allow the .223 rifle to go into battery? I decided to try under much safer conditions.

via R.I.P. One AR-15 Rifle – Another 300 Blackout / .223 Kaboom.

And what he did was remove the BCG from a 5.56 rifle and see if a .300 BLK would drop into the chamber. The answer was what we think of as The Universal Answer to Everything™: “It depends.” In this case, it depends on the bullet; any .308 bullet can be loaded in the Blackout, with the lighter projectiles for maximizing velocity and heavier projectiles for subsonic use with a suppressor. Result of his experiment: A small, high-velocity bullet in the .300 would chamber, at least, most of the way; a large, subsonic bullet (200+ grain) wouldn’t.

In case you’re wondering why the US .mil doesn’t use the .300 BLK, this is one answer. Captain Murphy’s law always was, “if anything can go wrong, it will,” and while the original Murphy was a flight-test engineer, he sure as dammit could have been a weapons man with an insight like that. If it is physically possible for Private Joe Snuffy (or his Marine opposite number, Lance Corporal Schmuckatelli) to assemble a firearm improperly, or load it improperly, he is absolutely going to do it. Like the poor bastard in the example above, who was fortunately not seriously injured.

People I know who do use ARs in many calibers don’t take advantage of the capability to reuse the mags with multiple calibers. It’s just asking for trouble — better to dedicate mags to special-purposes like .300 or, say, blanks. (It is very embarrassing to fire a live round with a blank-firing adapter on the rifle, and it usually totals the rifle).


Blue=Inert, standard NATO/US code color. You can get anodized mags in several different colors. As long as you pick a system and stick to it, you won’t fire the wrong thing in the wrong place.

Go ahead, whine about magazine prices. What about replacing a whole AR like the fellow whose misplaced .300 round trashed his rifle?

One last thought. We are not fond of the Forward Assist, a gadget that was added to the M16A1 very late in the adoption game, at the insistence of armchair ordnancemen who had actually used the same reason (“lack of positive bolt closure”) to reject the T48 (FN FAL) in favor of the T44 (developed Garand that became the M14). And here is one reason not to be fond of the FA.IF you are forcing the bolt carrier into battery, why are you doing that? It just might be that you have the wrong round chambered.

Gunowners Physical Security Plan, Part 1

In conversations with our local police chief, we learned that he’s had an awful lot of trouble with burglary victims having lost property that they can’t describe accurately. That makes a certain amount of sense: after all, do you know the serial number of your computer? Your flat screen TV? Of course not.

But the stolen property he was most concerned with was firearms. While some burglars are still stupid enough to try to pawn firearms, something both the pawnshops and the police are on to, most of them have a higher level of brain-stem activity than that. But burglars by definition have plenty of criminal associates, and this ensures that any stolen firearms rapidly begin circulating in the criminal milieu. And they love stealing guns (here’s an ATF interactive on guns reported stolen in toto and by state).

Since they wouldn’t be criminals if they weren’t losers, a percentage of them get bagged doing routine dumb stuff you probably don’t do, like beating their baby-mammas, or blowing through red lights with veins full of psychoactive chemicals, and the cops recover lots of guns. But it doesn’t work like TV. Unless they know that Walther P.38 serial e5176 is your stolen gun, it’s never connected to your residential burglary. Contrary to TV shows, they also don’t ballistically test every gun that comes in, only guns that come in suspected of being used in assaults or murders, where they have a crime bullet to match. So once Joe Burglar’s woman-beatin’ or DUI case is over and the gun isn’t needed for evidence, it gets disposed of by law and SOP. (Some places auction the guns, some destroy them, basically depending on the general degree of anti-gun attitude of the pols in the area). So once your gun is gone, your chances of recovery are fairly low but nonzero, unless you don’t have a number to give to the cops.

John Sobotta and his stolen and recovered Luger.

John Sobotta and his stolen and recovered Luger.

The guy who’s photo is shown here is an example of a guy who had an inventory: Michigan gunowner John Sobotta. As John Agar of the Grand Rapids Press reported, Sobotta “always wondered — and worried” about his stolen guns (although he didn’t contact the cops until they came to him, using information from a state handgun registry). One came back quickly, and another took longer:

His German Luger turned up a year later, after a parolee shot himself in the leg.

The other, a .38 special Cobra Colt, was found by Grand Rapids Police Officer Robert Kozminski, who heard shots and arrested a suspect running with a gun in his coat.

That was Dec. 14, 2006. It was one of Kozminski’s last felony arrests.

(Kozminski was killed in 2007, fortunately, not by one of Sobotta’s firearms). Disregarding Agar’s firearms illiteracy, his article notes that, at least of his writing in 2010, the average time between theft and recovery in Michigan was fourteen years. The article was part of a series, rather typically blaming legal guns and gun owners for Michigan crime. But Michigan doesn’t punish gun burglars much — one gunstore burglar got six months.

Number, photographs, and any unique identifying features also help. Which reminds us, if you’ve been burgled, but still have photos of your guns, try blowing them up from the RAW files or negatives — you may be able to recover serial numbers. Not an optimum way to proceed, but it beats zero.

Once, we used to have all our serial numbers memorized. But these days, we have a smaller brain, a bigger gun room, or both; so we keep a computer inventory in an Excel spreadsheet. One problem with that is glaringly obvious: any burglar who grabs the guns will certainly boost the computer, too. You can just see that next conversation with the Chief. “So where’s the inventory you told me you had?” “Uh, Crim’s got it.” Major crime-fighting fail. Your inventory needs to be backed up offsite.

Many people have no inventory of their firearms, because they don’t expect to be robbed of them. (But it happens even in upscale communities — often by someone who worked as a laborer for a contractor working on that house or another in the neighborhood). If you have an inventory, the cops can rapidly — within minutes — have those stolen guns listed in the National Crime Information Computer system, which not only increases your chances of getting your gun back (unless it’s recovered by a lawless jurisdiction like Boston, which destroys rather than returns recovered guns), but also increases the chances of catching the burglars and their enablers who buy their stolen property.

ATF publishes a handy inventory sheet for the owner. Here it is, ATF Publication 3312.8, Personal Firearms Record. It’s too small for most of us, with room for only ten guns, but shows you what information to include. Then all you have to do is put a copy in a safe-deposit box, or leave a copy with a family member or trusted friend. (This is the “poor man’s safe-deposit box,” it can’t get opened by your ex’s divorce lawyer’s subpoena, doesn’t need a key, and you and your chosen inventory holder are most unlikely to be burgled same day. Unless you live in Chicago or Detroit, in which case, why haven’t you moved?)

If you want to skip ahead and think up some more physical security measures, ATF publishes a security guide for FFLs and SOTs, ATF Publication 3317.2, Safety and Security Information for Federal Firearms Licensees. The Physical Security section beginning on Page 8 has some interesting parallels to the Army way of doing things, but the bottom line is, it’s good advice, although the ATF version is more advisory, whilst the Army regulation is more directive.


Once upon a time, we knew all the serial numbers of our firearms. Now we have a smaller brain, a bigger gun room, or both; so we keep a computer inventory in an Excel spreadsheet. One problem with that is glaringly obvious: any burglar who grabs the guns will certainly boost the computer, too. You can just see that next conversation with the Chief. “So where’s the inventory you told me you had?” “Uh, Crim’s got it.” Major crime-fighting fail. Your inventory needs to be backed up offsite.


Exercise for the reader: imagine a burglary of an FFL or SOT. Now imagine getting the hardware and the bound book. D’oh! An offsite inventory is a really good idea. If you’re worried about pervasive surveillance and lax computer security (and you probably should be), then your offsite backup should be a hard copy, on paper and everything.

He pointed out that our dead-bolted gun room we’re so proud of is really nothing but a locked door. Worse, it’s a locked interior door, with no eyes-on, and quite vulnerable to a forcible attack.

We realized we didn’t have a physical security plan. Back in Army days, you had to have a physical security plan for each of your facilities. If the facility hosts firearms, ammunition, explosives, classified information, or anything else deemed sensitive, the Army required a truly elaborate physical security plan.

A good physical security plan provides many layers of security. The first layer should probably be an exterior alarm on the structure, or perhaps even perimeter video. (This assumes a perimeter fence is not practical). The next should be locks and other obstacles. Any soldier will tell you, though, that an obstacle is only an obstacle if it’s under observation and covered by fire… conditions that do not obtain if you ever leave your building unoccupied.

You cannot keep every burglar out. What you can do is deter some burglars, delay and bother others to the point where they give up. In that case, they’ll probably go burgle someone else’s home or workplace, but that’s not your concern. If you do get the rare burglar with no quit in him, or no preference for the easy mark, and he does persist, you can document his depredations so that he’s quickly caught.

As we develop a physical security plan, some options fall by the wayside. Alas, as grand as Hog Manor is, it’s not a good candidate for a moat (and the weather here is uncomfortable for alligators and piranhas, sad to say). Likewise, the neighbors, currently cordial, might take a dim view of guard towers, searchlights, and razor wire — not to mention the pay and benefits for three shifts of guards. (How come no Bond villain ever has to deal with his henchmen’s workmen’s-comp issues? But we digress).

The bottom line, then, is that we’re restricted to measures that do not radically change the exterior of the structure. Our goal is not to make an impregnable Maginot Line, for every Maginot Line has its vulnerable flank. Our goal is to apply some of the techniques of military defense (and, to be sure, physical security) to harden Hog Manor.

And you’re along for the ride.

Bullets with dimples?

Nammo Reduced Range

Nammo BNT 6 Reduced Range 7.62 x 51 mm

We all know that dimples can make a smile irresistible. But a bullet?

Nammo is making 7.62 x 51mm rounds with dimples, and it’s about their physical attraction — sort of. That’s if you’ll accept the meaning of “physical” as in “laws of physics,” and to be more specific, aerodynamics. By making the projectile more physically attractive to the air it passes through — sort of, reversing centuries on progress in making wind-cheating bullets — they can make rounds that work for training on tight, urban ranges.

The Nammo BNT 6 Reduced Range load contains a unique dimpled round weighing 6.2 grams or about 95.7 grains, so it’s very light for a 7.62 round. Its muzzle velocity is in the usual NATO ballpark at 860 m/s (2822 fps). At short ranges (<200m) Nammo claims that the round is equivalent to the usual NATO loads. But it spends its energy very rapidly and can be used in a range fan of only 1500m. (The standard NATO round demands a 4 kilometer range safety area minimum, without safety margins).

The dimples are the key. They are optimized for the round’s Reynolds Number and increase drag two ways, in terms of downrange motion, and, more critically, in terms of spin (which, if we’re doing the back-of-the-envelope right, implies two different RNs based on the different surface velocities). The increased drag and reduced weight make for a projectile that sheds its velocity (both rotational and longitudinal) much more rapidly than normal.

These are quite a different thing from the dimples used to increase the boundary-layer size and reduce drag on golf balls and some experimental target bullets. (Yes, that’s an April Fool’s spoof. And it fooled us on first reading).

Nammo BNT 6 in a belt. (Nammo photos).

Nammo BNT 6 in a belt. (Nammo photos).

BNT 6 is also available in standard links for MG training (including firing from vehicle crew positions), but at present, is only available in ball, not tracer. (A tracer and a “dim tracer” for use with night observation devices are in development). Like most recent Nammo introductions, BNT 6 is “green,” leaving no toxic contaminants behind. BNT stands for “Ball, Non-Toxic,” in the company’s nomenclature, and the BNT 6 projectile reportedly has a soft-steel core only. (Nammo’s combat-load BNT rounds have soft-steel cores with hardened-steel penetrators).

The technology could be adapted to 5.56, at least in theory, if Nammo had a customer for the reduced-range rounds.

Most of the demand for such a round is in Europe, where training areas are at a premium; several European ammo makers often reduced-range non-toxic rounds, although none of them are using the Nammo dimples. (Ruag, for example, uses a near-cylindrical copper round with a central spike). We were unable to find a patent filing for the BNT 6 style projectiles, but suspect one exists.

While the principal use for such reduced-range loads is training, Nammo points out that it’s also useful in urban-warfare and CT applications or “populated sensitive areas,” where minimizing the beaten zone of rounds that miss their targets is a priority.

A mess of accidents, 2014 #1.

ND-shot-in-footFor a long time we didn’t do one of these. But we couldn’t resist the temptation.

Every now and then, some people demonstrate their utility as examples of how not to do something; we tend to concentrate on examples where people rearrange their anatomy or qualify for nomination for the 2014 Darwin Awards… or open the sort of holes in third parties that let air in and blood out, like our poster child on the right side of the page.

And when that happens, we can’t resist doing A Mess of Accidents.

No, we said Rust and Politicians.

Boardman, Ohio, February 26th. This is why the womenfolk don’t have access the vault, here. (If they were lady gunfolk, that would be one thing).

The 24-year-old woman told police she was dusting when she dropped her husband’s .45 caliber semi-automatic Glock she was attempting to move it. She attempted to catch the gun and grabbed it by the trigger, causing it to fire and hit her in the calf.

The woman was transferred to St. Elizabeth Health Center in downtown.

The gun and three other guns were taken by a family member for safekeeping.

via Youngstown News, Woman accidentally shoots self while dusting.

If your Glock needs dusting, you’re not practicing enough.

Guns and Judgment Juice

Pinedale, MI, 23 February 2014. We’ll just let the Detroit Free Press tell the story:

The girlfriend told authorities that the man … was explaining to her that his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe. He demonstrated by placing the guns against his head and pulling the trigger.

When he pulled the trigger on the third handgun, it discharged. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

 Oh, and one more thing, the bit we ellipsed’d out above: 

 had been drinking all day…

You don’t say. How many rules violated here, kids? Somehow we don’t think the girlfriend — who was gamely performing CPR when first responders arrived, to no avail  – was persuaded of the intrinsic safety of guns by this particular demonstration.

If everyone were as well trained as cops….

…this kid would still have gotten shot.

The 12-year-old boy shot himself at about 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, and was later treated at Children’s Hospital Oakland and released.

A recording of the incident reveals an off-duty Oakland police officer called 911, saying her son had accidentally shot himself and that she had secured the gun.

Danville police Lt. Allan Shields declined to say how the boy obtained the weapon, who owned the gun and whether it was issued by the Oakland police.

Shields says the boy’s father is an Oakland police sergeant.

Fortunately, Lt. Allan Shields has the mom-and-pop-cops’ backs. It would be a terrible tragedy if this mishap led to a police officer being held accountable, but it won’t happen on Shields’s watch!

At least the officer who phoned in the 911 call admitted that her kid shot himself, and didn’t hide behind the passive voice. She deserves two points for that.

And then there was the son who plugged his mom…

Let’s get right into it:

A Dayton woman was critically wounded when her son’s gun accidentally discharged, shooting her in a leg.

Lyon County sheriff’s deputies said the accident occurred Thursday when the son was showing his new gun to his father.

Investigators told KOLO-TV the young man pulled the gun out of the holster when it went off.

This is not Dayton, Ohio, by the way, but a similarly-named burg in Nevada.

No word on whether this mom is now “demanding action for gun sense.” (Actually she was in critical condition, which sounds to us like a major arterial wound, since it was in the leg. So she’s probably not demanding anything).

How many rules did junior violate? Of the top of our head, the whole pointed-in-safe-direction and booger-hook-off-bang-switch things seem to have been egregiously violated.

Since Nevada’s a gambling center, are they keeping book on whether he told his father, “Hold my beer… and watch this!”?

It’s not always the bozo who catches the round

Macon, GA, 28 Feb 14: A bad job catching a dropped gun left 21-year-old Cedric Patrick dead of a single gunshot wound.

Patrick’s cousin, 27-year-old Dominick Howell, was in the car with Patrick in front of a strip mall at 1090 Eisenhower Parkway in Macon.

According to witness statements, Howell was sitting in the back seat, with his cousin in the front seat.

He had the gun in his waistband, and he said it was a little uncomfortable, so he put it in his lap.

It then it began to fall out of his lap, and as he reached for it, he accidentally put a bullet right through the passenger seat and into his cousin’s back.

For the cost of a cheap holster, the local gun range owner points out, and a little training, that life would have been spared. Instead, one young man is dead, and his cousin’s charged with  involuntary manslaughter. Hard to come up with a funny tag-line about that.

This is why we gun-proof kids, rather than try to kid-proof the gun storage:

Cincinnati, OH. Three young brothers found a gun at their uncle’s house and were playing with it. One pointed it at another, activated the bang switch, and we all know what happend next. Sammy Lorenzo, 8 years old, was rushed to the hospital with a chest wound but surgery could not save him.

Cincinnati police Lt. Don Luck told the Cincinnati Enquirer that one of the brothers “kept telling the story of how it happened, over and over again. It’s so sad.”

Sad isn’t the word. The uncle or some adult might or might have been charged, but in the end they decided charges weren’t warranted. No kidding, that family’s been punished already.

But to us, the alarming thing is that the kid that fired the shot thought the gun was OK because he thought it was a BB gun.

When we were kids, toy guns and real guns had a very different feel to them. A gun like a PPK or a Chief’s Special was a tiny carry gun, and toy guns were light and flimsy feeling. A lot of today’s ultra-micro carry guns feel more like the toys of a 1960s youth. We’re strong believers in demystifying guns for kids early and often. In our living room right now are three AK variants left over from a photo shoot, an 1853 Enfield, and some 9mm ammo left over from the continued battle to master the Glock. The kids (ours, their friends, their cousins) know, before they even learn the big-boy gun rules, the rules of Guns In Da House:

  1. Never touch without express approval of a grown-up who’s got eyes on you.
  2. Never touch without checking clear. Always assume it’s loaded, anyway.
  3. Never point at any living thing or at anything a living thing can be inside or behind.

These rules are taught by repetition and, most importantly, by example.

The same applies to the Taliban Beheading Sword, Randall #14 Package Opener, fireworks, machine tools, and other instruments of mayhem arrayed here and there around the house and outbuildings.

And here’s a cop who’s lucky a criminal got hold of his gun.

Russell County, KY, last week. The criminal? An inmate on a work-release cleaning detail, who found the gun the state trooper had taken out and left behind in a high school gym. The honest con (!), who looks like a blond Tommy Chong, turned the gun in immediately. He says he no longer wants to commit crimes, and the prison authorities are seeing if they can parole him a little bit early.

Now that State Trooper has some ‘splaining to do. If it was Joe CCW Citizen, they’d be charging him with something, but we’re now a nation of ranks, not laws.


Foreign & Obsolete Weapons Training

SF NCOs conduct mechanical training on AK rifles for troops of the Malian Army.

SF NCOs conduct mechanical training on AK rifles for troops of the Malian Army.

When we attended what was then Light Weapons School (then Phase II of a Weapons Man’s SFQC), the stress was on mastering the mechanical operation and employment of foreign and obsolete small arms. Given the environmental changes of the last thirty years, the current course has lots more shooting and teaching-of-shooting (big improvement), lots more base defense and tactics, includes heavy weapons training including weapons that were then-novel and not included in a Heavy Weapons NCO’s training (like ATGMs and MANPADs) and is nearly twice as long. (In 2014, it becomes fully twice as long).

One of the things that’s been cut to make room for the course improvements, is a lot of the foreign and obsolete weapons training. We understand why, but believe that foreign and obsolete weapons training is good for not only SF but also for other members of combat units.

In World War II, paratroopers were taught to manipulate the enemy’s small arms, and that seems like a no-brainer. For SF, who are likely to operate with irregulars armed in part via battlefield recovery, this is obviously important, too.

Foreign weapons mechanical training has the following benefits:

  1. It builds confidence in US weapons, which are equal to or better than their world competitors at this time.
  2. It enables troops to use Allied and enemy weapons should they be required to in combat.
  3. It gives troops a chance to see foreign weapons at all ranges, including up close, and at all angles, increasing their ability to identify foreign equipment from photographic or personal reconnaissance.
  4. It demystifies foreign, especially enemy, forces to see and handle their weaponry.
  5. It is mentally engaging and physically confidence-inspiring.

Mechanical training is good, but to take it to the next level, the combat unit should consider foreign weapons firing training. This requires more instructors, armorer-certified weapons, ranges, and ammunition.

Foreign weapons range firing does all the same things that mechanical training does, and adds benefits to each. For example, attempting to zero and fire an AK for record makes one truly appreciative of the sights and inherent accuracy in the M16 and M4 series of weapons.

Live fire training does additional things besides.

  1. Accustoms the students to the sound of enemy weapons. Most enemy weapons have distinct reports that experienced combat troops learn to recognize. Firing foreign weapons on the range accelerates this learning so that it need not be done under fire and at great risk. Along with the individual sound of gunshots, most auto weapons have distinct rates of fire. This benefit is amplified if the troops can hear the weapon from distinct angles safely, particularly from downrange (i.e., in a target-butt trench).
  2. Accustoms the students to the sight of enemy weapons. (Dust, muzzle flash by day and night, distinct tracer appearance, etc).
  3. Prepares the students much better to fire a battlefield-recovered weapon, should that be necessary.

Obsolete Weapons training has fewer distinct benefits, but is still helpful.

  1. It helps them position current US weapons longitudinally in weapons and technological history.
  2. If enough versions of weapons are available, it can prepare students for an encounter with novel weapons, by giving them a wide range of operating principles and maintenance procedures to consider.
  3. It does help in those environments where obsolete weapons are likely to turn up — a set which includes many war zones. For example, Czech ZB-26 light machine guns, Egyptian “Port Said” copies of the Carl Gustav M45B submachine gun, and long-obsolete Russian DP-series machine guns were widely encountered in the early days in Afghanistan. Long-outdated M1 Carbines still turn up worldwide, as do STEN guns; Syrian rebels found a cache of German MP-44s.
Marine fires a PKM light machine gun in training provided by International Police Supply, a contractor.

Marine fires a PKM light machine gun in training provided by International Police Supply, a contractor.

While the US Army once had the capability to conduct this type of training, it destroyed its in-house capability with multiplying and metastasizing bureaucratic regulations. At one time, to fire a foreign weapon, it needed to be “certified” by a specific office at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The office granted a one-year certification that took over a year for them to issue, so that you needed to have three of any given weapon in order to have one available to shoot regularly. In practice, any gunsmith or armorer with his ordinary tools and a set of headspace gages should be able to pass judgment on the safety of a foreign or obsolete gun.

As a result of the Army’s mismanaging its own capability to provide this sort of instruction, a niche has opened up for contract providers. The problem is, of course, that armed forces units seldom have the budget to engage such a contract provider.

How not to learn gun safety

ND-shot-in-footStep 1: Buy a gun from the local criminal community

Step 2: Futz with it

Step 3: Seek medical treatment

Step 4: Hire a criminal attorney

Step 5: Profit!!!

If you’re thinking that isn’t exactly like a Harvard Business School case study, you Just Might Be an MBA. You Definitely Are smarter than this kid, who’s now +1 abdominal orifice and +1 set of legal problems, and -1 gun and -1 sum of money the knucklehead thought he was buying a gun with. If Kipling wrote a poem about this, it would be Arithmetic On The Frontier of the Empire of Stupid.

A 19-year-old who allegedly purchased a stolen handgun accidentally shot himself in the abdomen following the transaction in Federal Way on Tuesday night.

Federal Way Police officers responded to the call at approximately 10:01 p.m. at 30823 18th Ave. South. Dispatch advised police that the “victim” showed up at his friend’s apartment with an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Upon arrival, the victim stated that he was at an unknown ARCO station and was shot by a black male and a Samoan male. Medics transported the male to Harborview.

Further investigation revealed that the 19-year-old met with a Samoan male to purchase a handgun. Following the completed transaction, the victim accidentally shot himself in the abdomen. His injury is considered non-life-threatening.

via Teen accidentally shoots himself with stolen handgun in Federal Way – Federal Way Mirror.

The injury may be nonthreatening, but stupidity in this proportion can often be fatal, and while the Federal Way, WA, PD, have relieved him of “his” pistol and prevented him from injuring himself that way, Teh St00pid is still upon him and will haunt him all the rest of his days. Which might be less than the actuarial tables would otherwise grant him.

Long Sentence for Powder Plant Explosion

Scene of the explosion. Investigators have been unable to determine a probable cause.

Scene of the explosion. Investigators were never able to determine a probable cause.

We covered the trial of Craig Sanborn, accused of manslaughter by negligence after his black-powder-substitute plant blew up. The jury hit him with a conviction on all charges; last week it was the judge’s turn, and Sanborn drew a stiff sentence of 10-20 years.

Two of his factory workers, Don Kendall and Jesse Kennett, were killed in the blast and fire, and another was seriously injured. Investigators from multiple agencies were unable to determine the exact cause of the blast, but found evidence of bypassed safety standards and negligent operation.

It did’t help Sanborn’s defense that after the blast, but before the trial, the firm and Sanborn were fined $1.2 million by OSHA for safety violations.

NHPR quoted  U.S. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels as saying:

Sanborn recklessly ignored basic safety measures that would have protected their lives. His criminal conviction and sentence won’t bring these men back to life, but it will keep him from putting workers’ lives in peril.

Michaels is being a bit disingenuous with that statement. (In plain English, he’s lying). The settlement that Sanborn reached with OSHA included a promise not to ever work in this or related industries again, pretty much preventing him “from putting workers’ lives in peril.”

One would hope that anyone whose job expected him to do unsafe stuff with explosive or inflammable mixtures would seek alternative employment, but it’s quite possible that the workers didn’t know what they didn’t know about the safety of their industrial plant — until it was too late.

One is further reminded that propellants, when handled safely and responsible, are extremely safe. And when not so handled, tragedy can result.


A Mess of Accidents, Deer Season Edition

21 Nov, Georgia: The difference between Deer and Dear can be dear indeed.

Webb mugshot. Facial features: Neanderthal, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Webb mugshot. Facial features: Neanderthal, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Matt Webb’s girlfriend was going to surprise him — on a hunt. At night. And they were both apparently stoned on something or other. There was just no way this was going to end well.

She was last heard from in critical condition but expected to live. He was last heard from in the booking room. The Times Free Press:

Matthew Tyler Webb was hunting deer Thursday night when he heard rustling and saw movement in the woods. But he didn’t know what it was, any of it, he later told police.

The moving and noise quickly stopped. In the silence, police say, Webb fired his rifle.

Immediately, he heard a scream.

About 15 yards away, across a thicket of briar, Webb found his girlfriend bleeding. He had shot Audrey Mayo in the lower leg.

Ah yeah, the old shot-at-a-sound trick. Along with the hunting-at-night trick, and if you Read The Whole Thing™, the ever-popular hunting under the influence of “several illegal drugs” trick. And yes, Mr Webb is in a spot of trouble. With the law, and presumably, once she’s out of hospital, the girlfriend.

3 November, Oklahoma. The Sasquatch Hunters bag…. something.

Get an eyeful of these three worthies:


OK, here’s the story. The space-alien looking cat on the left went hunting Bigfoot, Sasquatch, whatever, and when things went nonlinear, the other two characters, Creepy Uncle and Toxic Chick, helped him by throwing his gun in a pond… turning an accident the cops were curious about to a crime they had to prosecute. 

But then, there’s just not a whole lot of underappreciated genius in this bunch.

The two men were hunting – apparently for Bigfoot – around 177th East Avenue and Tiger Switch Road Saturday night. Omar Pineda [Space Alien] reportedly heard a “barking noise,” jerked and shot his friend in the back, authorities say.

“When you start off with an explanation like that, do you believe anything after that?” [Sheriff Scott] Walton said Sunday morning.

The backshot hunter is going to live, and unlike his pals, he’s not even under arrest. Creepy Uncle (actually Oscar Pineda’s father-in-law, Perry James) is perhaps the most jammed-up of these Three Stooges. The story says that by taking Pineda’s gun for disposal he rendered himself a Felon in Possession. D’oh!

But if trigger-happy Pineda and his hard-of-thinking relatives (Toxic Chick is his wife) bemoan their bad luck now, imagine if they had shot Bigfoot.

First, they might only wound him. Would you want to anger Bigfoot? No way. But worse, they might have killed him… and then they’d really get the book thrown at them.

Cause he’s gotta be an endangered species.

18 Nov., New York. This one’s not funny, just tragic.

A bunch of Long Island buddies who went hunting every year had their hunt turn to nightmare when one of them shot at something — sound, or movement — and killed another.

Charles Bruce, 52, was on an annual hunting trip with friends from the Malverne Fire Department when the tragedy unfolded about 10:20 a.m. Saturday in rural Westford, about 11 miles east of Cooperstown, law enforcement sources said.

“Unfortunately, it was a high-powered rifle. He was dead before he hit the ground,” Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl told The News.

“Charlie had a bad back, so he went back to his room to rest. And when he came back out, one guy saw a tree move and fired,” said a close friend of the victim’s who asked to remain anonymous.

This is often the case with hunting accidents: the victim and shooter are close friends, amplifying the tragedy. Even more often, the shooter fired without having a solid view of the target and backstop. This is a fundamental failure and there’s absolutely no humor in it.

18 Nov. NH has fingers crossed for a safe season.

Source: WMUR-TV Channel 9. Six days into the firearms season, with 60,000 hunters in the field, nobody’s been shot in New Hampshire, to the relief of the Fish and Game Department.

Steven-s-10-point-buck-2013-001-jpgThe deer are plentiful despite a series of harsh winters; 11,600 were taken last year and Fish and Game’s Dan Bergeron is cautiously optimistic for nearly 13,000.

If NH makes it to 8 December, we can celebrate a safe season just as those 13,000 or so hunters celebrate a successful one. Young Steven Williamson shows how it’s done with his 10-point whitetail buck (he hunts with his dad, Sean).

8 November 1954. 60 years ago, accidents were routine.

Here’s a chilling story from the mid-Twentieth-Century, that makes us realize how far we’ve come.

During a Maine gunning season something like 165,000 hunters take to the woods. Of this number, a normal season’s accidents will run to 70 dead and wounded. [Inland Fish & Game Dep't Special Investigator Maynard] Marsh’s casualty report this Saturday evening could be succinctly stated as: three Mistaken Identities; two Line of Fires; two Accidental Discharges. Score? five dead, two wounded. Before the Inspector got to take his shoes off Sunday, his dark itinerary included Benton, where a youngster had fatally shot a man collecting firewood near his camp; Wilton, where a hunter had managed to shoot himself while removing a loaded gun from his car; Parlin Pond, where a Norwegian carpenter had mistaken another Norwegian carpenter for a deer and sent a rifle bullet drilling through his abdomen; the town of Alfred, where a hunter had seen, too late, that his “deer” was a Greek restaurant owner stooping over to pat his beagle; Acton, where a father on a late-afternoon stand shot his son who was hurrying along to meet him on a woods road. And nice shooting that last one was: a direct hit through the neck.

O, the humanity.

Lew Dietz, the author of the piece, goes on to note that “Fatals are usually good shooting,” and that Marsh has observed that the veteran hunter is the most dangerous. (This paradoxical conclusion is borne out by mishaps in the parachuting and aviation-safety investigative fields. Complacency is a bigger threat than inexperience, because inexperience often breeds caution.

Marsh also found that the shooters in accidents tended to be average to above-average in intelligence, and to react more quickly than average on visual-perception tests.

Hunters who slew other hunters in what Marsh called “Mistaken Identity” cases often were sure that they saw a deer, even though what they shot was another man.

Why was it that in 219 cases of mistaken identity, 95% of the shooters were familiar with the firearms they were using; 80% were familiar with the country in which they were hunting; 86% had shot deer before and were familiar with deer hunting conditions?

His conclusion: they were so prepared to see deer that anything they saw, filtered through what we now call confirmation bias, was a deer. Bang. You’re dead. And their very experience, familiarity with their guns, and hunting savvy in general added up to very bad outcomes for the people they mistook for Bambi.

Marsh’s recommendation was bright clothing: red, fluorescent red, was 1954′s forerunner of today’s Hunter Orange.

Marsh also had cases, of course, of inexperienced hunters. A bullet that struck his own house was an unusual caliber, .35 Winchester, already discontinued. He knew the caliber — he had an old gun chambered for it, which he hadn’t used in years. He found a dealer who had had a box of shells but they were missing, apparently shoplifted. It turns out the kid with the gun had stolen the shells. And when Marsh checked his gun rack, it turned out the shells weren’t all the youth had shoplifted. (I presume some judge was soon urging him to the colors, in liew of  stint in Shawshank).

This is one hell of a good article, and definitely worth Reading The Whole Thing™. If for no other reason than to note that Marsh’s efforts, and those of many others, seem to have paid off: no State in the Union will ever see an investigator called out to five fatal hunting mishaps on a single Saturday again.

And the article made us wonder about something else. Does Sports Illustrated still cover outdoor sports? We thought it was nothing these days but the unseemly worship of uncouth loudmouths who throw balls.