Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

When Guns are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Fire

flamethrowerBurn, baby, burn. It’s not just for 60’s hippie radicals any more. Well, it’s a college story from NYU, where nobody ever grew up since then, so maybe it is.

A college student is accused of setting a classmate on fire in his dorm, then singing and recording her putting out the flames.

Jaime Castano was arraigned Tuesday on assault and reckless endangerment charges.

The incident occurred at his New York University dorm in August.

Wait, what? This guy set someone on fire six months ago and he was still traipsing around free in January? What fresh hell is this?

NYU says the delay in reporting the incident stemmed from its practice to give deference to a victim’s wishes to involve police. It says it’s clarifying its policy so similar cases are reported immediately to police.

Ah, okay. It was some idjit university administrators, pedestaling themselves and pretending to play cop, investigator, judge, jury and executioner. That explains everything, these days.

Castano was expelled in September. His attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sure, because it’s definitely enough punishment to be tossed out of a third-string university, when all a guy did was set a girl on fire. Totally.

Court papers say Castano’s cellphone video showed the 19-year-old victim asleep with flames on her clothing.

And naturally, this depraved hominid took video of his crime. Don’t they all, nowadays? How do you get “street cred” for a crime if there’s no video?

The 20-year-old Castano was ordered held on $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash bail.

The victim suffered burns to her torso.

via NYU student accused of setting classmate’s clothing on fire – New York News.

But hey, the president and deans of NYU thought they really showed the guy. They expelled him. And then they concealed the crime from the authorities, which is, even in New York, a fresh crime of its own.

What, are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Exercise for the reader. To steal a word from John Lennon (and nicely bookend this post with 60s hippies top and bottom, “Imagine….”  Specifically, imagine that Jaime Castano shot his unfortunate classmate with a firearm, rather than burned her with an accelerant, an equivalent violent crime. Would the administrators have been so eager to act as his accessories after the fact?

When Seconds Count, the Police are 19 Calls Away

minh nguyenThere’s some questions, but not many answers, in a tragic murder in Virginia last week.

[38-year-old Minh] Nguyen allegedly broke in through the front door of his ex-wife’s home around 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Once inside, Nguyen opened fire on [Corey] Mattison, his former wife’s new husband, striking him multiple times.

There are no new crimes. Just new jitbags committing the same old crimes. How many guys have been whacked, over the years, by their woman’s creepy ex? No one has ever tried to count, but it’s the kind of thing that gets a knowing grunt out of a homicide investigator. Part of having seen it all, for those guys, is seeing it all over and over again.

No idea whether the woman in question knew her husband was bat guano crazy and potentially violent, or whether she had gotten a restraining order, but the record shows that nothing whatever restrained Nguyen: not law, not morality, not any available defenses.

Maybe she and her new husband put their trust in the police. If so, that trust was badly misplaced:

Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman told that authorities received 19 emergency phone calls in total from the residence. When deputies arrived, they found the victim dead outside the home, Chapman said.

Why do cops carry guns anyway? Let us explain. That’s for the homicidal criminals they run into. For the homicidal criminals you run into, the police carry chalk. 

So they can draw a line around your cold, dead body.

Still, these police show signs of Holmes-level Clouseau-level detection, here:

While the motive and sequence of events is still under investigation, Chapman said, “there were clearly domestic-related issues with the suspect.” Nguyen had two children with Denise Mattison, who married Corey Mattison nearly six months ago.

No $#!+, Sherlock.

Denise Mattison told ABC News that her husband’s final actions spared her children, who were home at the time, from being harmed.

“He was my knight in shining armor,” she told the network. Mattison reportedly ran for the door, leading the shooter away from the children, who were able to hide in a room upstairs and call 911.

That was an interesting choice of words, by the bereaved Mrs Mattison. Because back in the old days, one of the markers of a knight was that he had the king’s leave to bear arms.

Now, arming oneself is not a panacea. If Corey Mattison had been armed this whole thing might have gone exactly the same way, and he would have been bringing a firearm into a home with small kids, which is (if we’re honest) a nonzero risk than needs to be properly mitigated. But it also would have offered the potential of a better outcome: Nguyen dead, and Mattison alive.

via Tech mogul charged with murdering ex-wife’s husband | Fox News.

To our amazement, none of the news stories have noted the strange fact that the victims got off 19 phone calls before the police rolled up. This may be something other than a dilatory police response, but it doesn’t look good, and normally the mediots would fix on that.

Instead, they’re fascinated by the irrelevancies, that Nguyen was a Silicon Valley founder (of the annoying Plaxo address-book-scam app, it figures) and Mr Mattison was a former pro athlete. Do those things matter? Or does it matter, only, that Mattison gave his life to lead an evil man away from his kids, an act of Biblical nobility; and that Nguyen overthrew all his previous attainments to take on himself the title, “murderer”; that last, an act of Biblical betrayal?

Update: Plaxo insiders are running like hell away from Nguyen, suggesting that his connection to Plaxo was minimal or nonexistent. Given that they work for a company that built itself on spam, none of them are in a position to bitch about ethics.

Update II: Nguyen fled from the scene to his mother’s house. Here’s what happened next:

Nguyen… was captured by his own mother. Search warrants reveal that when deputies responded to the town home, they found Nguyen in the garage, being held down by his mother.

The two were struggling over control of the firearm, the warrants showed. Nguyen’s mother told deputies to take the gun, and Nguyen was arrested.

Well played, Mrs. Nguyen. We regret that your son was a disappointment to you, and wish you and your family all the best in this difficult time.

This is a Hard Video to Watch, but We Must

In this video, Deputy Kyle Dinkheller is murdered. It is hard to watch, but there is a reason we have to do it: the dead deputy is without influential friends in this world, but the jitbag who engages him in this video was celebrated for the rest of his life. Which fortunately ended on a vinyl-covered slab on the 13th, as the citizens of the great state of Georgia put Andrew Brannan down like the rabid dog he was. Dinkheller left a pregnant wife and kids (a son was born after his death, and will never know his father). The murder took place on 12 January 1998. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office was a relatively early adopter of dash cams, and so Brannan’s prosecutors had this to work with, and his defense had this to explain away:

The explanation the flailing defenders chose is that Brannan couldn’t help doing this because he was a Vietnam combat veteran. Stew on that for a minute; we’ll come back to it.

A fact seldom mentioned in the media is on the same video recording, before this particular clip begins. Dinkheller didn’t stop Brannan for “no reason,” or because he was on some kind of cop power trip. He stopped him because he clocked the man driving that junkbox pickup at 98 miles per hour. Yeah, this guy shot a cop for stopping him for speeding.

In the end, he got what was coming to him. Among the witnesses that watched Brannan make a seamless transition from jitbag-in-prison to jitbag-in-perdition were 20 deputies from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. Kyle Dinkheller’s friends and co-workers waited 16 years for the ACLU’s efforts to make this crime pay to fail out, and the ancient lex talionis to find its fulfillment.

This is not Captain Kangaroo. Bob Keeshan was an honorably discharged vet who lived a decent life.

This is not Captain Kangaroo. Bob Keeshan was an honorably discharged vet who lived a decent life. This is Andrew Brannan. To Hell with him.

Of course, the criminal groupies haven’t stopped pining for Brannan just because Brannan has achieved progressive nirvana, to wit, a carbon footprint of zero. Naomi Schavin, one of the no-experience-less-talent writers hired by the flailing New Republic recently (yes, the publication that has a long history of running with fabrications, and that just published a movie review by a reviewer who had only seen the movie’s trailer, that New Republic), has a shallow and disorganized piece in the magazine. Her point? Veterans with PTSD should be, if not exactly excused for murders like this, at least exempted from execution. She’s talking specifically about this Captain Kangaroo-lookin’ butt blossom.

Watch the video again. Schavin deliberately maximizes Brannan’s irrationality (actually, he looks less like a nut job, and more like just a common-and-garden sphincter muscle, to us). And she minimizes his crime, and elides the fact that it was Brannan unilaterally who made every esclatory move in the fight:

Brannan’s reaction escalated rapidly from taunting Dinkheller to screaming at him, culminating in a firefight that left Dinkheller dead.

REaction?” What? And, “Culminating in a firefight?” Our hairy combat-vet hiney. Watch the video again, don’t accept Schavin’s lies about it. She’s missing a few steps, this lying reporter. Brannan’s actions — not reaction — escalated from taunting, to screaming, to pulling out an M1 Carbine and shooting, to cold-bloodedly executing his wounded, defenseless victim. But he’s the one that has Schavin’s sympathy. Maybe the gun made him do it! Being twaumatized as a vet made him do it!

Well, who really gives a hairy rat’s ass what made him do it? Two million guys (and tens of thousands of gals) served in Vietnam and didn’t whack a deputy thirty or forty years later, so it’s not like society’s holding him to an impossible standard.

And then there’s the whole firefight thing. Brannan attacked Dinkheller without warning and put nine rounds into him (and plenty more into random terrain), where the deputy just nailed Brannan in the brisket once (fortunately, enough to make him easy to catch). That’s an ambush, not a firefight. Firefight implies a degree of contact among rough equals.

It’s not just that Schavin is illogical, irrationally inverse in her thinking (in her mixed-up, tossed-up, never-come-down world, Dinkheller deserves death, and Brannan release and “treatment”). But she’s also thoroughly dishonest (look at how she misrepresents Brannan’s attack on the deputy). She accepts the PTSD bullshit from Brannan’s lawyers, the usual criminal-loving murder fanboys.

So, what would she have done?

…precautionary measures to keep his community safe … like removing his firearm…

Oh, we saw that coming…. Guess what? His community is now safe, sweetheart. And no firearms were harmed during the application of suitable treatment of this toxic bipedal pathogen.

Got any more advice for the grown-ups’ world, child?

…governors might consider staying all executions of veterans with the diagnosis [PTSD]….

Like hell. How many PTSD diagnoses are being ridden for a disability by phonies, pre-existing nutballs, and guys like Brannan, who are just turds who can’t function in civilization?

Being a vet didn’t make him do that. Nothing you can see or do in combat can make a guy do that. It’s what a guy is, what a guy is inside, that makes him do things like that.

Of course, there are guys suffering with post-combat stress, real guys with real troubles. But most of them are dangers to no one, and the ones who are, unfortunately, dangerous, are primarily hazards to themselves. If Naomi Schavin knew combat vets, a species one seldom encounters in the coffee houses of Manhattan, salons of Georgetown or writers’ lofts anywhere, she’d know that. And in absolutely no case is PTSD the excuse for murder that she and other pro-criminal campaigners make it out to be.

Breaking: ATF Revokes Some Shoulder “Brace” Letters

ATF-Molan LabeThe ATF has issued a new and undated letter — apparently on a Saturday — containing a blanket statement that firing a weapon with an “arm brace” from the shoulder constitutes a “redesign” of the device and a Federal felony.

Because the NFA defines both rifle and shotgun to include any “weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.

The GCA does not define the term “redesign” and therefore ATF… (does).

The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item.

We bet you didn’t know that you “redesigned” that scabrous Hi-Point when you used it as a paperweight, or “redesigned” an old shotgun that’s bracing a door open. Ah, but that’s not how it works, you can only “redesign” yourself into peril of imprisonment, not out of same.

The key line, and the one most urgently pushed out by the ATF, is this:

Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.

That’s the SIG brace they’re talking about.


Use it like this: you’re legal (at least until Kingery feels the urge to write a new letter). Hunch over it, they’ll throw you in jail, with their Mexican-cartel pals (at least, the ones other agencies catch), for a decade or so.

This preemptive strike, signed by Acting Chief Max Kingery of the ATF Firearms Technology Branch but according to our ATF guy, drafted by the Chief Counsel’s Office, is intended to chill development of new technology and is the second in a series (the first was the manufacturing letter) of new administrative moves designed to increase the scope of the National Firearms Act beyond its written language.

These moves are in the spirit of “a phone and a pen” and rely on Administration top cover against Congress, but also rely on extant case law which directs the courts to give great deference to administrative rulings, on the presumption that administrative agencies know better than the courts what they are doing.

In the last several years, the ATF have supplied more firearms to criminals than they’ve interdicted. They are working at cross purposes to the rest of Federal law enforcement (not because that’s what the 1811’s want to be doing, either). With the recent letters, ATF management have openly embraced the partisan political positions that have long been a ticket to advancement in the politicized agency.

Maybe it’s time for ATF to lose 1000 personnel slots in its administrative arms. That might get their attention. But even before that, it’s time for the NFA’s arcane prohibitions of Short Barreled Rifles and Short Barreled Shotguns, which are seldom applied except against otherwise law-abiding persons with “gotcha” rulings (like this one), to go away. It’s time for the wannabe gun gestapo to lose the authority over these products. They have mismanaged the authority they have, demonstrating that they can’t be trusted with it.

Meanwhile, nobody’s looking for the select-fire M4 that was stolen from an agent’s car while two agents made the beast with two backs. That’s not a priority for ATF. This is. They need some new priorities.

More Bullshit from our Favorite Lobbyist

Yes, it’s Major General Scales again, last seen blaming “jammed M4s” for the deaths of 9 guys whose valiant deaths we recounted in our two part Wanat series (Part 1) (Part 2), absolving the M4 in the process. Tam in the comments steered us to more of his unique brand of wisdom, from October, 2013. She asks, “[D]id you see this eulogy-turned-shopping-list from Scales?”

Scales explains that all the Army really needs, to prevent the kind of desperate fights that produce Medals of Honor, is a few simple trinkets, gimmicks, and imaginary technologies to be produced by his defense-industry clients. We’re not making that up! Scales:

[CPT William Swenson] was the sixth soldier or Marine to receive the medal for heroism in Afghanistan. All six stories are remarkably similar in that none of these incredibly brave men should have been in a position to have earned the medal. Had soldiers in these engagements been adequately provided with a few cheap technologies perhaps they might have avoided the bloody traps that precipitated their heroic actions.

Uh-huh. “Buy the right stuff, and you no longer need people with The Right Stuff.” You can see where a Macnamara-era officer, who fled fast and far from troop leadership towards academic pursuits, might come up with that. So what are these specifics, that will render valor superfluous in our all-conquering robot army of the future?

  • “Cell phones” instead of “bulky radios.”

But did you happen to notice in the video the bulky radio stuffed in Swenson’s backpack? This battle was fought in 2009 a time when rag pickers in Mumbai had cell phones. Why can’t our fighting men and women have cell phones in combat?

"Sorry, Mom. I guess I butt-dialed!"

“Sorry, Mom. I guess I butt-dialed!”

  • Helmet cams!

Imagine for a moment that Swenson, like the medevac crewman who took the video of Swenson, had a simple camera on his helmet capable of displaying the ground situation and linked it to screens in the Operations Center. Had the officers in the center seen the action in real time though Swenson’s eyes perhaps supporting fires might have been immediately cleared long before Swenson was trapped in the kill zone. You can buy helmet cams at Walmart.

"Imagine all the peo-ple... livin' life in pee-ee-aa-a-ee-ce."

“Imagine all the peo-ple… livin’ life in pee-ee-aa-a-ee-ce.”

  • Moar Dronez!

What if our military had been able to deploy enough drones to put a set of aerial eyes over every ground patrol marching into a dangerous and uncertain situation? Surely had a drone been overhead the Taliban would never have dared to open fire.

  • People Sniffers!

[W]hat if the one of the lead element carried a sensor that detected movement or the metabolic presence of humans nearby? Such devices are easy to develop and the technology has been in use by civilian security companies for years. Again, had Swenson’s team been warned there would have been no ambush and no medal.

People Sniffers: Yesterday's Bad Idea, Today.

People Sniffers: Yesterday’s Bad Idea, Today.

  • The M25 surviving half of the OICW boondoggle (emphasis ours)

[T]he M25 “smart grenade launcher” … uses a laser beam to program a grenade to explode over the heads of the enemy hiding behind protective cover. Such a weapon in the hands of Swenson’s team would have taken out the Taliban with ease. After a decade of development the Army hopes to have the M25 in the hands of troops this year…maybe.


  • A lightweight heavy mortar!

What if Swanson [sic] had had access to a really good “carry along” heavy mortar? What if the mortar bomb had precision GPS guidance such that the first round landed directly on the Taliban? With such a weapon Swenson’s fight would have lasted about three minutes instead of nine hours.

remco long range mortar

Drat! The hard part is getting the Taliban into the included Exploding Pillbox.


We’ll get to his conclusion after we deal with these individual beefs, but as you see the essence of Scales is that everything the military has is crap, so they need to bow down before his brilliance (and not incidentally, make his defense-contractor meal ticket cash-registers ring).

So what’s wrong with the idea of….

…Combat Cell Phones?

Here’s what Swenson’s “bulky” radio could do that the retired General’s Samsung can’t:

  1. Use high-level, keystream encryption. This is kind of a big deal. Officers of Scales’s era, who don’t recognize the enemy’s initiative and seriousness, were always a problem with radios, because they could never be bothered with encryption. Yes, the Taliban and its allies do employ signals intelligence against the US and Coalition.
  2. Work with limited and even no on-the-ground infrastructure. See, a cell phone needs… a cell tower. You can’t count on those forward of friendly lines.
  3. Meet military demands for ruggedness. We’ve had military radios fall 250 feet due to a lowering-line failure on a parachute jump, and survive vehicle and aircraft mishaps. They can get wet (true, in Scales’s day, you had to put a baggie around the handsets), get hot, get cold, and the stout little beggars keep working. Anybody want to see our collection of dead iPhones?

…Helmet Cams?

That’s just what we need, a way for deskbound leaders and other rear-area drones (the human kind) to kibitz on combat. Call of Duty 5, Pentagon Edition? Does anybody remember what happened when one of the Army’s Unique and Special Snowflake™ intelligence analyst privates decided that he could interpret some gunship video?

Already, it’s a huge problem being able to fight your unit without constant demands for updates from self-important gawkers at levels and levels of higher headquarters. The sort of Type A personalities that become colonels and generals can’t resist the temptation to try to direct their younger analogues who are fighting in real time. There is a fine line, perhaps, between assistance and micromanagement. But Army culture (at echelons above combat, anyway) lionizes the micromanager and we’ve seen very few higher-echelon leaders who failed to stomp over that line with both big feet.

Then, there’s the bandwidth problem. The US military uses vast quantities of bandwidth, the majority of it for nonessential purposes. But imagine what happens when we start streaming helmet cam from everybody on patrol to the vast majority of everybodys who never go on patrol.

But that’s OK. In Scales’s world, sparkly unicorns will poop the bandwidth we need to flow all that video by satellite. Maybe he can also declare an end to communications latency whilst using satellites!

…Moar Dronez!?

This is a great one. Because the Army alone has had literally dozens of drone-development programs, distinct from those at the Air Force, the other services, Joint programs, and other government agencies, all of whom went all-in for drones after their utility was proven in 2001-02. (Back then, everybody in Afghanistan had to share 1-3 Predator flights a day). The Army’s boffins had wanted UAVs for intelligence collection long before the war. (Here’s a staff college paper (.pdf) on requirements from 1990. And yes, the joint programs described in then-MAJ Harshman’s study lost control of service UAV requirements during the war).

There are some problems with drones. They’re not, as Scales seems to imagine military technology to be, FM (that’s an old radioman’s joke: F’n Magic). People have to operate them and interpret the product of their sensors. For instance, at the time of the Swenson battle, there was a small drone, the Raven… but it would take two men out of the fight, one to program the drone’s flight, one to operate its sensors.

But the bottom line is that drones can’t replace people on the ground, and they can’t be everywhere people on the ground go; they can’t operate in crummy weather, unlike, say, infantrymen, who will cheerfully tell you that they seem to operate only in crummy weather. And for all the spending on drone development, very little of it filters through Scales’s defense contractor pals and makes it down to the war fighters.

…People Sniffers?

Let’s just re-repeat (threepeat?) some of Scales’s discussion on this,

But what if the one of the lead element carried a sensor that detected movement or the metabolic presence of humans nearby? Such devices are easy to develop and the technology has been in use by civilian security companies for years.

Because fighting a war among the population, you can just bring your weapons to bear on any hint of movement, or the waft of human pheromones, with your eyes closed. Scales is showing his “once they’re dead, they’re all VC” heritage here. But he’s also showing a remarkable ignorance of the technical history of the People Sniffer (.pdf), Projects Muscle Shoals (.pdf, in-progress whitewash), Igloo White, and all those Macnamara Line developments. Those things were all costly failures.

You know how we actually got actionable intel off the Ho Chi Minh trail? We put human eyes on it, and yes, the guys in that project got shot to $#!+ a lot and wound up with more than their “fair share” of MOHs.

…the M25 boondoggle?

Can you say SPIW? It was the Weapon of the Future® in 1960, and it still is…. There are several problems with the M25, but they basically come down to this: it’s optimized to meet a requirement that doesn’t occur all that often in combat, and that can be answered better by a well-trained 60mm mortar gunner and a lot of rounds. In other words, even if it worked 100% (which should occasion great mirth among those who worked with it), it is still inferior for its special purpose to a common general-purpose weapon already in the inventory.

But new space-age grenade launchicators are sexy and get written up in tech magazines (as well as, grease the big DOD prime contractors and their lobbyists). More mortar ammo for training is distinctly unsexy, and benefits only some dirty, uncouth infantryman, not a K Street lobbyist in a $3k suit. Which brings us to one of Scales’s weirdest demands:

…the paradoxical light heavy mortar.

… a really good “carry along” heavy mortar?

You mean like the 60 (which actually comes with a sling and can be carried with a round in place and fired with a trigger), and the 81s that some grunt units have hauled on patrols? Or a 120mm where the ammo is too heavy to carry more rounds than you need to set the baseplate?

Scales can be excused for not paying attention to mortars and understanding their current state of development, but the size of the mortar has more to do with its range than its lethality. And ammunition improvements have been remarkable over the last few decades. That light 60mm mortar is handier than the World War II vintage 60 despite its greater length, is hell for accurate, and has the range and lethality of the 1960-or-so vintage 81mm mortar.

And then, the problem is not the weight of the mortar, but the weight of the ammo. A round for the 60 weighs 2.5 to 4 lbs, a round for the 81 9 to 10 lbs.

And here’s a fun fact, that infantrymen all know but that may not have penetrated to the ranks of Retired War College Panjandrums: the M224 60mm mortar greatly outranges the small arms that engaged CPT Swenson’s advisory team, or any other small arm, for that matter. Its accurate range is over 3500 m on max charge, nearly 4,000 yards. 

As far as precision-guidance goes, in a direct-fire situation, a decent mortar gunner who has had ammunition to practice with and develop his skills is utterly deadly with a 60. The best precision-guidance computer on the planet, at least for this purpose, is attached to the relevant sensors by a pair of optic nerves, and located in the brain-case of an infantryman who has been given challenging training, multiple targets, a case of mortar rounds, and some friendly competition.

But, there’s nothing in there for K Street. Or technology magazines. Sorry about that.

Some General Comments

Some of these things amount to, “Gee whiz, maybe if you grease my clients they can repeal Newton’s Laws of Motion.” It’s an example of Full Retard, defense intellectual division. And yet Scales says that it’s he who’s against wasteful defense spending:

These and other soldier-saving technologies could have been developed and fielded cheaply and quickly years ago.

Gee, does he mean the billions blown on the Macnamara Line and its sensors in the 1960s and 70s, cheaply, or the billions blown on drones, cheaply, since the 1990s? (Well, drones go back to the Kettering Bug if you want to get all inclusive).

Yet, after ten years of war the ground services, the Army and Marine Corps, remain starved for new, cutting edge life-saving materiel

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. We call bullshit (threedundantly). The ground services have seen a vast quantity of high-quality, highly-useful, technologically improved equipment. The trooper of 2014 carries stuff that was fuzzy theory in 2001. We were there during halting, experimental and limited deployments of drones, blue-force trackers, and sophisticated counter-IED technologies, to name a few. We were there to see the capabilities of our electronic intelligence collector attached elements take off. We were there to see contact teams, and PEO Soldier, and tech reps from contractors, and they weren’t bringing all the goodies just to us in the white SOF, or our bros on the darkside, or the always high-tech Air Force, but plenty of things that eased the rocky path of the rifleman, good old 11B or 0311.

Want to see life-saving material? Shake out the M3 aid bag a retiring SF medic threw on his garage shelf in 2000, and then shake out one of today’s medics’ kir. And never mid the stuff, the training of the people is the biggest lifesaver going, and has undergone a quiet revolution. We lost guys in 2001 and 2002 to tension pneumothorax and exsanguination, and those are hardly the killers now that they were then.

[W]hile the Department of Defense and their big defense company allies continue to spend generously on profitable big ticket programs like planes, ships, missiles and computers. Soldiers’ stuff is more Popular Mechanics than star wars. But Captain Swenson and his six Medal of Honor colleagues might have had a better day had the nation spent a bit more to give them a technological edge over the enemy.

What they haven’t got is the kind of armchair brainstorms that Scales launches in their general direction, but maybe that’s because that’s not what they’re asking for.

What we need is a human edge over the enemy, not a technological one. Technology is a force enabler and, in very rare best-cases, a force multiplier. As a rule of thumb, a dollar spent on training beats a dollar spent on stuff. But what is the first thing a retrenching Army cuts?

And this confused fellow was a Major General and an Army War College Imperial Wizard or Exalted Octopus or whatever they call it. Lord love a duck. If this is the kind of talent we cultivate at that level, no wonder we haven’t won one clean since V-J Day.

Even When They Try, Reporters Can’t Get Gun Stories Right

newspaper-fishwrapMost reporters, of course, don’t even try. We saw a lot of this in reporting of the tragic accident in Idaho, in which a toddler reached into his mother’s handbag and fired a single round — killing his mom instantly.

The press, mostly reporting off each other’s stories as they always do, and exaggerating as they go, as they always do, published a lot of nonsense about the “ignorant hayseed mother” (she was a research chemist, undoubtedly from further out the right lobe of the bell curve than the median-hugging mediocrities who are drawn to reporting) and the “inbred Idaho gun culture” (of which, their expertise comprises entirely reading about it in New York or LA). For example, Bloomberg writer and Democrat political consultant Francis Wilkinson crowed that, “she died the death of a responsible gun owner.”

Most reporters “know” things and so they feel damned small need to ask questions these days. But even in the rare case where a reporter makes an effort to, mirabile dictu, report, he’s a creature of his own milieu, whether you want to call it frame of reference, bias, or epistemic bubble.

From where they report, the view as far as the horizon is all brown no matter what azimuth to which they orient their Trained Reporter Skillset™.  A case in point is this article in the Christian Science Monitor, a Boston-based paper (now online only) once associated with a minor Christian anti-medical cult. The left-center CSM has been anti-gun, and has ushered its anti-gun opinions into supposedly straight news pieces, since the Kennedy Assassination. But the guy currently on the anti-gun beat over there, Patrik Jonsson, actually made a real effort to do balanced reporting in a recent thumbsucker, finding details about this accident that even many pro-gun folks don’t know. (Of course, he didn’t do his own reporting; the Acela doesn’t go to Idaho, so his source is original reporting at the Washington Post. But he does try to be balanced). Then he ruins it, but let’s praise him, first. He begins:

It’s usually careless storage and handling of guns that leads to young children finding and firing weapons, hurting themselves or other children.

We see nothing to fault in that statement, even though, for many bansters, complaining about storage is an incremental tactic: an attempt to get piecemeal what they cannot seize by force majeure. But Jonsson is right when he implies that negligence is implicated in many, no, most, gun accidents. Not just ones with kids, either: there are very few “new” accidents, just new people having the same old accidents. But, as Jonsson notes, this one was different. And he began to diverge from the journalistic pack:

Veronica Rutledge had extensive experience with handguns, and had the handgun zippered into a special purse designed for concealed-carry.

That doesn’t sound like careless storage to us, and even Jonsson has his doubts.

“It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,” Lieutenant [Stu] Miller [Kootenai County SD] said.

…her family says she was a responsible gun owner who had stored the weapon in a specialized gun-carry purse she had received for Christmas.

Rutledge, who lived in Blackfoot, was a high school valedictorian who had gone on to become a chemist at Idaho National Lab. At the same time, she and her husband had extensive shooting experience, and were both licensed – and trained – to carry concealed weapons.

After reviewing video of the shooting, police quickly established that it was an accident. But despite the precautions, somehow the toddler managed to extricate the gun and fire a chambered round.

Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishesNote also that Jonsson has, unlike many of his media peers, learned some of the lingo and applies it correctly. (This shouldn’t be rare, but it is: imagine being the only Boston sportswriter that knows that the name of Tom Brady’s position on the Patriots is “quarterback,” and what it’s supposed to do. Such is the level of writing on gun issues). But then Jonsson throws a pass to his Bostonian readers that betrays his own level of ignorance on the subject.

It’s against the law in Idaho to carry a loaded concealed gun.

It is not. It is against the law to carry a loaded concealed gun without a license, which is readily available to Idahoans, and the rights of which are extended to just about every licensee nationwide, even from states the snippily decline to reciprocate.

It’s actually hell for common to have a license in Idaho, even though unlicensed open carry is also legal. Terence McCoy, the Washington Post writer whose reporting undergirds Jonsson’s writing, noted this detail:

A lot of people in Idaho are [gun people]. …. And more than 85,000 people — 7 percent of the population — are licensed to carry concealed weapons, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.

And, Great Googly Moogly, Jonsson gets it wrong. Even though he noted just a few grafs above that the victim in this case had a license to carry. In, you know, Idaho.

Such are the perils of reporting with confidence on the real America, from the precincts of the 1%, deep behind the Acela Curtain.

PA State Police Glock 21s in the Shops

Pennsylvania_State_PoliceWe recounted, based in part on news stories and in part on insider tips, the strange tale of what we called the Pennsylvania State Police’s Pistol OCD. If you feel the need to catch up, if you don’t there’s a one-line tl;dr at the end:

  • Everybody wants some other gun (5 Jul 2014): we teased that “a A Large State Police/Highway Patrol force in a populous state suffers from Pistol OCD. They’ve been through three official sidearms in two calibers in four years, and it’s their own fault…. Since 2006, they’ve been through six or seven guns in three calibers.” A commenter from the Keystone State (and not one of our sources on these stories) nailed this as a Pennsylvania State Police reference.
  • Pistol OCD: the Pennsylvania State Police (8 Jul 2014): We bring you up through the PSP’s wild gun changes: Beretta 92/96/Brigadier in 9mm and .40, to Glock 22 in .40, to Glock 37 in .45 GAP, to Glock 21 in .45 ACP, and finally to the SIG 227R in .45 ACP.  Each change was made for plausible, rational reasons, but they wind up looking like an outfit that just can’t make a decision.

We observed at the end of that article that the department’s 4800 Glock 21s would soon be hitting the market, as had all the pistols before:

At least the PSP allows its obsolete guns to be sold in the market. Since every PSP gun is engraved or etched with the force’s crest, they are popular with collectors, helping the vendor recoup the credit he gave for the trade-ins. PSP trade-ins also tend to be well-kept for cop guns, even apart from the Glock 37s scarcely having been shot due to the ammo problem, so they’re an attractive alternative to a new gun for a bargain hunter.

And the tl;dr of all that: PSP changes out their guns a lot, and had 4800 Glock 21 pistols in .45 ACP that were about to be dumped on the market.


PSP G21 Glock in CaseAnd dumped they have been. A Pennsylvania distributor got them and sold them at $425 dealer price. One has already shown up on GunBroker at an ask of $559.95 opening-bid / $609.95 Buy It Now .

Here’s how he describes the gun:

Up for auction is a USED Glock 21 Gen4 Pennsylvania State Police semi-auto pistol, 45ACP, 4.5″ barrel, 3-13rnd mags, 3 dot night sights, Black slide with PSP logo laser engraved, Factory hard case with thumb saver, Extra back straps (NO beaver tail straps).

Like other PSP guns, some of the guns have been reserved for troopers to buy. And here’s the result of that:

One dealer got 60 in for the troopers that bought. Most bought 3 or 4 and some bought 5 and 6. They got them for themselves and family members.

That suggests to us (as it did to our tipster) that the leadership may have lost confidence in the Glock 21, but the actual road troopers haven’t.

PSP G21 showing patch


Of course, it’s anyone’s guess how many of these G21s are Looking back, 2014 was a pretty awful year for the Pennsylvania State Police. We hope that they have a better 2015. And may all these orphaned Glocks find loving homes!q2


The Dangerous Lives of Postal Inspectors

Postal Inspector

Current postal inspector’s badge.

The other day, a commenter to a thread that mentioned a US Postal Service .357 for sale, asked:

Why on Earth would a Postal Inspector be issued a firearm? Am I missing something obvious?

Postal Inspectors are sworn law officers, who make a lot of arrests, we replied, but we couldn’t remember when we’d heard of one having a shootout. Well, Google found us one.

Postal Man In Hot Gun Fight

Chicago Inspector Shoots One Money Order Bandit and Is Wounded Himself

Chicago, April 23. (AP) Evan Jackson, an ace among Chicago postal inspectors, and four men he sought for an $18,000 post office robbery fought with guns in a room at the Hawthorne Arms Hotel early today.

Jackson was shot three times, and may die. Clyde Markin, one of the robbery suspects, was slightly wounded and was captured. A woman companion of the four men, Marion Courtney, leaped from a first floor window and was found, painfully hurt, on the alley pavement below. The other three escaped.

Jackson would have carried a similar badge, and credentials like these (from 1937)

Jackson would have carried a similar badge, and credentials like these (another inspector’s, from 1937)

Jackson had lured the suspects to the hotel with the help of what we’d now call a CI, and lurked in an adjacent room with a stenographer taking notes on the suspects’ conversation, when the suspects began to suspect something and started to walk out on the CI, Morris Stein. Jackson burst into the room and ordered the crooks to give themselves up. They didn’t.

Instead, they drew guns and opened fire.

Jackson, with a reputation in the Postal Service for daring, tossed a pistol to Stein and told him to defend himself. He then opened fire, dropping Mackin before three bullets brought him down.

Later, at the hospital, Jackson dictated a statement to his secretary, to be used in the event of his death. The names of the men who escaped were given by Mackin as Harris Travis, Eddie Courtney, and William Doody.

Stein told police that $1100 worth of money orders stolen in the robbery of a postal sub-station April 4 had been cashed in the account of his wife at a department store. Jackson… enlisted Stein’s aid in trapping the robbers.

Yes, there were Postal Inspector hero movies -- this one with Alan Ladd, and a 1936 "Postal Inspector" with... Bela Lugosi!

Yes, there were Postal Inspector hero movies — this one with Alan Ladd from circa 1957, and a 1936 “Postal Inspector” with… Bela Lugosi!

And some things never change. For one, the best guide to future behavior…

Federal authorities said the three who got away are all former convicts.

You don’t say.

We wonder what became of Johnson — and if he appreciated what a keeper he had in that secretary, who’d follow him through a stakeout, a gunfight, and even to the hospital to take a deathbed statement. We do know he recovered from his wounds, or he’d be listed on the Postal Inspectors’ Memorial Page. There’s quite a long list for an organization focused on non-violent, mostly white-collar crime. (Among their more famous busts are televangelist Jim Bakker and class-action lawyers William Lerach and Melvyn Weiss).

You should go to the original source, not only for the bits we left out, but because the same page also has a story that begins, “A mysterious electrical device, capable of developing a “death ray” of 3,000,000 volts of dynamic energy, its whereabouts clothed in deepest secrecy, is housed somewhere in San Francisco, it was revealed today.”

But that’s WeaponsMan for you. Come for the Postal Inspector derring-do, and we’ll throw in a steampunk death ray!

That Carter has a lot to answer for

This is a screencap of a real tweet (we dunno how to embed the actual tweet) from the network once known as the History Channel.


Is there anything that stinks more than TV? The guys who claim to be history experts can’t even nail down a major event within two centuries.

And… “colonist” troops? Well, who else was available to fight against the Dynamic Duo of British Imperialism, King George III and Lady Thatcher?

We probably shouldn’t be so shocked. Civics education these days means twelve years of iterative exposure to the same single shallow lesson about the Greatest American Ever, His Excellency Field Marshal Grand Exalted Luminescence Martin Luther King. So maybe the writers for the network are twenty-somethings, whose brains can be expected to be filled with mush. That would explain why they don’t know what happened in the Revolutionary War, what the armies engaged were called, or, well, much of anything about anything.

One of the many people who tweeted a response to the still-uncorrected, brain-dead Valley Forge tweet, Katie Warchol, made a plausible excuse for the History Channel: “Clearly, an intern wrote this.”

Great Googly Moogly, have you watched the channel, Katie? An intern writes all of it. And they’ve been doing their part in the hiring of the (mentally) handicapped. There’s no other explanation for some self-esteem snowflake arriving at the exit of grade school without a firm grasp on the significance (and timing) of Valley Forge.

The empty-headed bozos at the History Channel might be out of their depth writing about, you know, history. But hey, they can make them some UFO videos.

Maybe they should try making a “histology channel” or something. Because they’re certainly a rolling cluster*&^% as a History Channel.

Tune in next week when the History Channel explores the English Civil War, featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Phillips Heads.

Did we mention that TV basically sucks?


When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Gun-Violence Activists

Or maybe it’s the other way around, only gun-violence activists will be outlaws?

Recent years have seen a spate of curious attempts to pay Danegeld to the urban criminal class by hiring some gang members as “anti-violence facilitators” or some such noise. In the case of gang-infested, blood-soaked Springfield, Massachusetts, your anti-violence activist today will be Mario Hornsby, Sr.

A judge has issued an arrest warrant for anti-violence activist Mario Hornsby Sr. after he failed to show for his arraignment in Springfield District Court.

Hornsby, facing one count of threat to commit a crime, did not appear Friday, prompting Judge William Boyle to issue the warrant.

It was the second time in four years that Hornsby failed to come to court to answer criminal charges. In the latest case, Hornsby is charged with threatening to shoot a student who walked in front of his car on the way to school.

So why does anybody care who this hot-tempered schmo is?

The 44-year old Springfield resident rose to prominence following the shooting death of his son, Mario O. Hornsby Jr. in May 2008. A captain of the Central High School basketball team, the younger Hornsby was killed after gang members fired randomly into a crowd attending a high school party.

In the aftermath of his son’s death, Mario Hornsby Sr. spoke at anti-violence rallies and founded the Mario Hornsby Resource Center to provide scholarships and safe youth activities in Springfield.

Turns out, he’s connected — specifically, to

So, why was he summoned in the first place this time?

In the latest case, Hornsby is charged with threatening to shoot a student who walked in front of his car on the way to school.


Well, we all know how that goes. You drive through certain neighborhoods (and almost all of Springfield and Chicopee is “certain neighborhoods” these days) and elements of the Permanent Welfare Class saunter s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y and resentfully across the street in front of your car, reveling in their one accomplishment of the day/week/life: they made someone who actually had something to do wait, and prevented, however briefly, someone who had something to do from doing it. Crabs in a bucket. We can definitely see being annoyed.

But threats? Threats are, always, the act of a stupid man. If you’re not going to shoot him, you look weak by threatening him. If you are going to shoot him, just cap him out of the gene pool and have done with it. All threatening does is tip the cops as to who it was that shot him from the larger set of the many low-lifes who might have had even better reason to.

People may think, “nobody commits murder over something so stupid.” You get that mistaken idea from watching scripted shows on TV, or reading detective stories, where the killer has a motive that makes sense to people with better anger-management skills than Hornsby has. Watch one of A&E’s Monday marathons of The First 48 instead, and come back and tell us that. Most of the murders are over stuff that’s exactly so stupid — people with empty braincases and soaring self-esteem, lashing out in stupid ways that land them in prison for decades, if not forever. Usually when they’re only 20 or so.

Most of the murderers tell somebody they’re going to murder someone before — many of them tell the victim, who usually tells third parties — and just about all of them tell somebody aftererward. And their reasons defy any human explanation.

Of course, most of them lack what Hornsby has — a politician flying top cover for him. We’ll get to that in a bit. Here’s the details of the current charge:

In October, a criminal charge was filed against Hornsby following a Sept. 9 encounter with several students who walked in front of his car at a State Street gas station.

To get the students to walk faster, Hornsby began yelling obscenities and threatened to shoot one of them, according to complaint filed by the student’s father.

After a passerby threatened to call police, Hornsby drove off, but continued to follow the students to school; in the parking lot, he got into a second confrontation with the same student, according to the complaint.

Following a show-cause hearing, a clerk-magistrate issued a criminal complaint against Hornsby and summoned him to court for arraignment on Dec. 12.

When Hornsby did not appear for his 9 a.m. arraignment, Boyle signed an arrest warrant later in the day.

Does he take the court seriously?

Following a show-cause hearing, a clerk-magistrate issued a criminal complaint against Hornsby and summoned him to court for arraignment on Dec. 12.

When Hornsby did not appear for his 9 a.m. arraignment, [Judge] Boyle signed an arrest warrant later in the day.

It was the second time in four years that Hornsby failed to come to court to answer criminal charges.

We don’t think he does. Neither did the ADA, after he went fugitive in a previous case:

Because prosecutors could not locate Hornsby, the arraignment took place in March, 2011, eight months after the complaint was filed. At the time, Assistant District Attorney Marie Angers asked for $500 bail because the defendant did not appear to take the charges seriously.

But remember, what’s the background of that failure to appear charge? He got so PO’d at kids walking in front of his precious car that he cursed, stalked, and threatened to shoot them.

Oh. Well, anyone can lose his temper once.

In his [2010] complaint, the tow truck driver said Hornsby threatened to “get my 45 and put a bullet in your head” when he tried to repossess a vehicle owned by a member of Hornsby’s family.

Hornsby was arrested and brought into court handcuffs after repeatedly failing to appear for arraignment on those charges.

Right, lose his temper twice, that’s what we said, right?

And note he’s not only violent and boastful, but his family are deadbeats.

So what happened?

In 2011:

Defense lawyer John Greenwood said… the charges were an insult to a man with no criminal convictions and a record of community activism.

At Greenwood’s request, Hornsby was released on personal recognizance.

That was, obviously, before he began racking up a personal default record.

In 2011, his case was broomed at the request of then-DA

Last week, in a Friday-night-scandal-dump, his new case was broomed at the request of DA James Orenstein:

Prosecutors have dropped a charge of threatening to commit a crime against anti-violence activist Mario Hornsby Sr.

A warrant for the 44-year-old Springfield resident’s arrest for failing to appear at his arraignment last week has also been cancelled, court records show.

At the request of the Hampden District Attorney’s office, Judge William Boyle dismissed the case Thursday during a hearing in Springfield District Court.

A dismissal notice in Hornsby’s case file said the charge was being dropped “in the interest of justice,” but did not elaborate. Hampden County District Attorney James Orenstein could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.

Hornsby is a friend and political ally of the DA’s office through the last three DA’s, all Democrat politicians and allies of lame-duck governor, Deval Patrick: Bennett, Mastroianni (who retired, but was then elevated to the bench), and Orenstein, a career public-defender turned prosecutor who’s an acting-jack. (Another member of the clique, Anthony Gulluni of the same office, has won election and will be sworn in in the new year. Nothing will change but the name on the door).

They’re also tightly tied to the local judges, whose general attitude to crime and criminals can be summed up by understanding than none of the gang participants in the homicide of Mario Hornsby Jr. appears to have received more than 15 years as a sentence1, which in Massachusetts means maybe a third of that.


1. Here’s the murderers and their sentences: Kieson Cuffee (a violent armed robber who was identified by fellow gang members as the actual shooter, but who had an alibi): charges dropped. Norman Dyer (shooting participant): time served and 2 years probation. Shawn Gibson (participant, gang member, convicted of perjury): 2 ½ years. Daniel Williams (getaway driver): 12-to-15 years. The shooters are in a local gang, the Eastern Avenue Posse; their intended victims were in two other local gangs that have been fighting with Eastern Ave for years, although who’s a Crip and who’s a Blood seems a little confused.

General note: Some of the Springfield Republican’s stories call the crime a “drive-by”; that’s just journofail (most of the stories do not take this mistaken short-cut). Williams parked the car and the gang infiltrated the other gang’s turf on foot. They hid in bushes and then opened up all at once. The state of criminal marksmanship being what it is, they killed no one by Hornsby Jr., who has not been alleged to be a member of the target gang. Then they ran back to the car and fled. Some of them have never been charged.