Category Archives: Don’t be THAT guy

Impairment and Accidents

send boozeWe were reading an FAA safety bulletin that’s completely unrelated to the subjects of this blog — or is it? Because we saw an interesting factoid in a column by the Federal Air Surgeon, James Fraser, MD:

As the Federal Air Surgeon, one of my lesser known responsibilities is running the FAA’s drug testing program for FAA employees and industry aviation professionals. Since Congress mandated drug and alcohol testing of many aviation professionals in 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 121 and 135 operators, roughly 2,000 individuals per year have failed a DOT drug test. That number has been stubbornly stable through the years. While we don’t have the statutory authority to randomly test GA pilots, forensic toxicology tests after accidents show a similar use pattern.

That’s pretty amazing. Two thousand people who know they’re subject to drug testing have pissed hot anyway. Every. Damned. Year. It kind of puts hophead Hunter Biden and his two dope-waiver siblings in perspective.

But it made us wonder: everybody understands that drugs impair your ability to operate an airplane, and people do it anyway. How many of the dumb-ass gun mishaps we’ve heard about happen because someone got into the Judgment Juice or lit up a home-rolled sample of Mexican Mood Mellower before picking up the firearm? We don’t know what the number is, but if 2,000 pilots and/or FAA officials (like Air Traffic Controllers! Feel safe?) blow the whiz quiz, year in and year our, the number of doped-up negligent shooters has to be… nonzero, at least.

Patrick J. Donovan

Patrick J. Donovan

Drugs are a dirty little secret in police work, too. Sometimes it’s not so secret. Patrick J. Donovan was a former Marine and a Boston Police officer who had received a high honor, the Sergeant Richard F. Halloran Medal of Honor for heroism, for safely taking a gunman into custody in 2005. But that was before an on-the-job injury led to a narcotics addiction that prescriptions for Percocet couldn’t slake. His life fell further and further apart:

Donovan, whom Massachusetts authorities alleged had an addiction to Percocet, allegedly took a police cruiser without permission on July 4 and drove to Revere, apparently to the home of a former romantic interest.

He was charged with unauthorized use of a police vehicle and driving with a suspended license.

In an interview with police, Donovan allegedly admitted to taking the cruiser, according to published reports.

Donovan, who became a Boston police officer in 2002, agreed to check into a substance-abuse treatment program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., as a condition of his bail release in July, officials said.

He was placed on paid administrative leave in September 2013, following charges that alleged he placed a stolen license plate and stolen registration sticker on his own vehicle.

In the end, a shadow of his former self, Donovan checked out of the net. Donovan:

…was found dead in the woods off Meredith Neck on Oct. 25….  …found by a hunter that morning. Donovan apparently committed suicide by hanging.

“We believe that he killed himself,” [spokesman] Chance said. “It appears that he was having a lot of trouble in his life, and this was the way he dealt with it.”

A Boston police spokeswoman confirmed that Donovan was found dead in Meredith, saying Donovan had a large family, including a small son.

That’s one way to get out from under a drug addiction that’s destroying your life. Beat it to the punch. How very sad.

[Anecdote deleted, on careful consideration].

Returning to the FAA and its air-accident data, the Air Surgeon browsed fatal mishaps between 2000 and 2013, and found out….

Of the total 3,756 fatal accidents during the period, CAMI found that 976, or nearly 26 percent of the total, were positive for disqualifying medications, drugs of abuse, alcohol, or some combination of the above. While I discussed some of the disqualifying medications in a previous column, in this issue I’d like to focus on the other categories. Drug abuse was detected in 202 accidents and alcohol was present in 115 accidents. There is some overlap, as some people tested positive for multiple substances. CAMI also provided data to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for a longer term study that focused on over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and illicit drugs for the period between 1990 and 2012. This study found that of the 6,677 pilots who died in aircraft accidents during the study period, the percentage of pilots testing positive for potentially impairing drugs more than doubled — from 11 percent to 23 percent.

ND-shot-in-footAgain, we’re looking at the FAA’s data about pilots and accidents. Obviously, a pilot can’t refuse a blood test when they pick up his dead body (or parts of it) out of a debris field. And it looks like roughly one quarter of them have some forbidden substance in them. Now, in the context of flying, some of these substances are the sort of over-the-counter cold medicines that make you drowsy, but others are your common everyday drugs of abuse. And also note that we’re talking ¼ of the pilots that failed to complete their flights safely, which doesn’t really prove that ¼ of all pilots are doing it.

Still, if people are doing this stuff and taking off in planes, some of them are doing it and hitting the range. Given the fact that any firearm, like any airplane, can kill a person stone cold graveyard dead, this is a really bad idea. Like New Coke bad. Pontiac Aztek bad. Wile E. Coyote bird-hunting-scheme bad. That bad.

If you’re wondering about what effects common drugs of abuse have on people, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (their aviation safety investigators, like our NTSB) did a literature review a few years ago and produced two excellent papers on what alcohol and cannabis do to the sort of motor and judgment skills needed to operate aircraft. As we’ve stated, we think there’s a lot of parallels between what’s happening cognitively when you fly, and what’s happening when you shoot.

First: Alcohol and Human Performance from an Aviation Perspective: A Review (.pdf)

Some key elements from the executive summary:

Alcohol has many widespread effects on the body, and impairs almost all forms of cognitive function, such as information processing, decision-making, attention and reasoning. Visual and vestibular functions are also adversely affected. The performance of any demanding task… is thus impaired by the effects of alcohol.

Many studies have consistently shown significant detrimental effects of alcohol on … performance, both in the acute stages and in the post-alcohol period for up to 48 hours. Even low doses of alcohol can lead to reduced performance.

Now, whoever taught you the safety rules probably also taught you, “Alcohol and gunpowder don’t mix.” But we’re inclined to think the percentage of gun accidents involving Judgment Juice is… well, we already copped out at “nonzero,” so we’ll stick to that.

Second: Cannabis and Human Performance from an Aviation Perspective: A Review (.pdf)

Some key elements from the executive summary:

The adverse effects of cannabis on behaviour, cognitive function and psychomotor performance are dose-dependent and related to task difficulty. Complex tasks such as driving or flying are particularly sensitive to the performance impairing effects of cannabis.

We’re guessing that putting holes in the 10-ring, defending your home (and you can expect a blood test after a DGU), and getting the cups and cones in the right order when reassembling a BAR would all count as “complex tasks.” Both are laden with cognitive and motor skills demands.

Chronic cannabis use is associated with a number of adverse health effects, and there is evidence suggesting the development of tolerance to chronic use as well as a well-defined w ithdrawal syndrome. There is also evidence that the residual effects of cannabis can last up to 24 hours. Significantly, the modern dose of cannabis is much more potent than in the past, when the majority of the research was conducted. As such, the reported adverse health effects may well be conservative. Although only a limited number of studies have examined the effects of cannabis on pilot performance, the results overall have been consistent. Flying skills deteriorate, and the number of minor and major errors committed by the pilot increase, while at the same time the pilot is often unaware of any performance problems.

We’ve also noted a decline in judgment among chronic cannabis users. And they’re unaware of it. “No man, I drive better when I’m stoned.”

This anti-gun broadside from the University of Washington (.pdf) notes that drug and alcohol intoxication are correlated with being a victim of a firearms assault of homicide. (Duh). But we’re unaware of any studies on alcohol or drugs in gun accidents. Anecdotally, the connection seems to be strong.

Of course, it’s Hognose’s Law that, for every scientific study there is an equal and opposite study. University of Illinois-Chicago epidemiologist Lee Friedman notes that alcohol increases your risk of being injured, but it increases your chances of surviving the injuries your drunkenness causes you. And a followup study shows that it reduces your chances of cardiac complications, too.

We’ll drink to that!

Just not before hitting the range.

This was not Hunting

Mountain-LionThis guy just ran afoul of Federal charges in Colorado. Thing is, it seems like he deserved to. He had an entire business guiding big-cat hunts without bothering with, in some cases, hunting licenses. But how he did the hunts was most upsetting. From Guns.com:

Christopher Loncarich, 55, was sentenced in a Denver federal court Thursday. He pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from his sale of outfitting services for illegal mountain lion and bobcat hunts in Colorado and Utah.

In August, Loncarich pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife that has been taken or possessed in violation of state laws or regulations.

It sounds like a minor, technical violation at this point. But actually it was utterly unsporting and about as far from hunting as the slaughterhouses of Chicago1. (We know, one of you guys will accuse us of using the No True Sportsman logical fallacy. But in this case, we don’t think we’re wrong. No true sportsman shoots baited or drugged game. It’s cheating, and it’s unnecessarily cruel.

According to the plea agreement, and an indictment returned by the grand jury for the District of Colorado on Jan. 7, Loncarich conspired with others to provide numerous illegal hunts of mountain lions and bobcats in Colorado and Utah from 2007 to 2010.  In particular, Loncarich and his confederates trapped, shot and caged mountain lions and bobcats prior to hunts in order to provide easier chases of the cats for clients.

Now, there is no indication that the clients knew they were hunting pre-hunted, and sometimes disabled, wildlife; they may have just thought their guide had incredible luck or skill. Or they didn’t want to know. Only they know the states of their consciences, but the Feds didn’t indict them – make of that what you will. But we can’t imagine something further from hunting as we learned it, not in the US or even in the much more formalized (and less chancy) German system.

We’ve always wondered about those hunting guides that offer a guarantee. How can you do that? The mountain lion, a notoriously reclusive and often nocturnal animal, ought to have a vote. Can anyone offer a guarantee, ethically, without cheating like this assclown?

Colorado and Utah are big states, but Loncarich’s operation was near the border, and he operated on both sides, but for reasons that the article doesn’t explain, he and his clients only had Colorado licenses. Both Utah and the Feds take a dim view of that. Why did he do it?

Loncarich sold mountain lion hunts for between $3,500 and $7,500 and bobcat hunts for between $700 and $1,500.

Oh. That’s why.

We’re not sure how many hunts he sold, but he has to amortize those earnings — if the feds don’t move for civil forfeiture of all his ill-gotten assets — over his prison sentence, which is 2 years and 3 months (he’ll probably do the 2 years, unless he’s hard-headed enough to lose his good time2).

So it looks like the cat is out of the bag, and the former hunter of cats is in the bag. Looks like justice from up here.

via Colorado man gets 27 months for illegal cougar hunting – Guns.com.

Notes

1. It’s an expression; are there still any slaughterhouses in Chicago?

2. A Federal sentence is usually pretty inflexible these days; Loncarich will have to do 85% of it at the barest minimum.

Amnesty Winner: Child Rapist

AreveloMeet Luis Arevelo, an 18-year-old who’s just doing the work Americans won’t do: in his case, raping a five-year-old girl, and bestowing upon her his case of chlamydia. For this, he has been elevated to a status above unemployed American workers, in the hopes he’ll hang around and vote.

Before the Burger and Warren courts, the public would at least have had some chance that he’d hang, period, but in our mixed-up, tossed-up, never-come-down world, he has rights. Something the kid he did does not.

So, he’s on the fast track not to be deported, because the latest HSI guidance from Jeh Johnson is that “sexual offenders,” along with aliens who commit, “gun crimes,” should generally not be deported — and senior executives are charged with micromanaging any case where an outraged field agent and an off-message Assistant US Attorney are still trying to incarcerate the poor dears.

Like this one.

If a few kids get raped in the process — for creeps like Luis, preschoolers are like potato chips, they can’t ever do just one — well, them’s the breaks.

The girl may have been a relative. It’s not certain, because Luis seems to have a problem telling the truth, or should we say, since we don’t yet know what the story is, he seems to have a problem sticking to one story, of which any or none might actually be the truth.

Some months ago he surfaced on the Mexican border, walking into a Border Patrol position with a story that he was from Central America, a child refugee, and displaying considerable knowledge of the DREAM Act and the enactment of its provisions by executive order after it failed in Congress. He wanted to be reunited with family members, he said, and showed a slip with a name and address in Upper Darby, PA. It was unknown whether he began his travels with this slip, or whether someone provided him along his route from wherever he came from. (He is now using the Luis Arevelo name, and claiming to be from Ecuador in South America). The family on the slip of paper, contacted by US Customs and Border Patrol, agreed to sponsor the young man under the provisions of the DREAM amnesty. It was unclear whether he actually was a relative. There is a rumor in law enforcement that the same family has sponsored other illegal aliens, and a debate about whether their interest is humanitarian, financial, or ideological that has not been resolved. We’d like to hear from them what their relationship to “Arevelo” is and why they sponsored him — and how they feel about him now.

It was their girl that the man who now calls himself Arevelo raped, and infected. (This was not any arcane or legalistic construction of the word “rape,” either. It was what people traditionally think of when they understand the crime of rape. We don’t need to get graphic, or report the victim’s actual words, we hopw). The girl complained about it to her mom, who shut the kid up. Can’t be looking non-multicultural, eh? But when she took the kid to the hospital for treatment, medical staff wondered how a five-year-old gets a sexually transmitted disease and other indicia of rape by an adult male, and the gaff was stridently blown, leading after a short investigation to a police interview with “Arevelo”.

He admitted to Upper Darby police that he’s also wanted in Ecuador, and other things being equal, he’d just as soon go to jail there, rather than do time in Pennsylvania as a child rapist. “I’m good with that,” Upper Darby Superintendent Michael Chitwood said, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement put a detainer on him, to deport him no later than when the PA legal system finishes with him, which could be after he does his time, or sooner, if there’s an agreement with Ecuador that he’ll do his Pennsylvania time there.

The Philadelphia Daily News blogger Stephanie Farr alternated between calling for his scalp (“there’s not a circle in Hell that he’s worthy of being banished to,” so she must be a recent graduate with Dante on the brain) and floating excuses for him (he’s “barely out of childhood himself”).

But hey, he’s not being banished anywhere now. ¡Graciás al Presidente! ¡Gracias a Jeh Johnson!

This is why there is an AOD in your rig

AOD is an automatic opening device, and these jumpers, who look like beginners at relative work, give theirs the acid test.

Only two of the three jumpers, a base guy and a camera guy, join up. The smiling base guy is by convention supposed to be the one watching altitude, but he doesn’t look at his altimeter as the two struggle to get together. As far as the camera guy goes, you can see his altimeter, first barely in the red arc of the altimeter (you can guess what that means) and then you get a glimpse of it buried in the middle of the red.

These guys come that close to making the sickening sound that no one ever forgets if they’ve heard it once. They are saved because their AODs fire. (Both divers had the Cypres AOD, we think the Cypres 2).

The AOD works by electronically monitoring the speed of the fall versus the altitude. Older models were mechanical and worked off barometric pressure. Early SF freefallers used the Czech made Mikrotechnika KAP-3, an exported version of one designed in Russia. You had to wind it like a watch!

Years ago, skydivers were macho about AODs and didn’t use them; the military made them mandatory decades before skydive businesses started doing it, except with beginners. (At least they did it for beginners, but on some level they know that killing beginners is bad for business).

This double save shows how easy it is to get task saturated with a mission task even when you’re doing something that needs a very large part of your full attention, like falling straight down at 120 miles per hour. The first AODs were brilliant solutions to that problem of task saturation.

It’s not just jumpers that do it… we’d guess that every air force in the world has lost a fighter bomber whose pilot was so target fixated he followed his rounds or bombs on to it. We always wonder about guys who are credited for ramming enemy ships or forts or airplanes with their own plane — was it intentional, kamikaze-style, or did they just get task saturated?

Programmable software creates the opportunity to make AOD-like advances in some other operational areas. Food for thought.

And in the meantime, the Cypres is there to save you, if your forget to save yourself like these two very, very lucky fellows.

What’s the Difference Between Moscow and Washington?

Hint: only one lets you carry a gun in self-defense. And it’s not the one you might think. Russian state-controlled media outlet Russia Today:

Until now Russian gun enthusiasts were only permitted to carry firearms for hunting or target shooting after obtaining a license through the Interior Ministry. Russian gun licenses are to be renewed every five years, and applicants face strict background checks and are required to take gun safety courses.

The addendum to the law now lists self-defense as a legally acceptable reason for carrying a weapon.

Now, they’re not relaxing laws totally in the Wild East. There are still some restrictions, ones that will sound familiar to many licensed carriers in the what Vladimir Vladimirovich learned to call the Glavni Vrag in his days as an intelligence officer:

The government’s press service underscored that carrying a weapon will remain prohibited at educational institutions, establishments which operate at night and serve alcohol, and mass public gatherings such as street demonstrations or protests. The legislation also forbids carrying a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

For many years, pistols were forbidden to ordinary citizens in Russia. But that was then, and this is now:

The law broadly defines self-defense weapons, including smoothbore long barrelled guns, pistols, revolvers, and other firearms, as well as Tasers, and devices equipped with teargas. Long barrelled fire arms and edged weapons are, however, forbidden by the law.

(We suspect that the last sentence means that carrying a rifle or knife for defense is unlawful, but we’re not lawyers, and we’re definitely not Russian lawyers, and taking Russian legal advice from us is a good way to find out how much more pleasant Lefortovo Prison is now than it was in Solzhenitsyn’s day).

RT illustrated their piece with a picture of a display of, mostly, flare and gas guns, a unique Russian adaptation to an earlier, more restrictive law.  You can see them here and here for instance. (In English — Googlish anyway — here and here).

In addition, the amendment softened requirements for foreigners bringing arms into the Russian Federation or purchasing arms on Russian territory. The grace period for foreigners awaiting a license from the Interior Ministry for firearms has been increased from 5 to 10 days.

via ​Russians can now carry guns for ‘self-defense’ — RT News.

A Library of Congress analysis that’s about a year old notes the previous restrictions led to a low level of legal, and a much higher level of black-market, firearms use. There are less than a million rifles in civilian hands legally, then, and no pistols. Restrictions included a first issue of a permit for smooth-bore weapons only; after five years with no incidents, a permit holder could ask for rifle-bore privileges.

Self-defense was already legal under Russian law, what this modification does is liberalize the way in which people are licensed to be armed. As recently as 2012, then-PM Medvedev (generally considered a mouthpiece for Putin) opposed such liberalization.

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Free…

Then, there’s Washington, DC that is. And before we tell the story of Washington’s shiny new pistol permit law, we’re going to tell you the story of the Literacy Test in Beauregard County (with apologies to John Ross, from whom we’re pretty sure this example’s stolen).

Well, it was 1952, and there was an election, and  Joe came to the polling place, and got in line behind Ted. Now, Ted was white and Joe was black, which ought not to make a difference to the law, and it sort-of didn’t. But there was a Literacy Test that every voter had to take to ensure that only literate people voted. It was not racist, they pinky-swore, it was just good government.

Who could be against good government? Certainly not Sheriff Buford F. Cruelty, who was the law in Beauregard County personified. The Sheriff handed Ted a newspaper. “Literacy test, sir. Read the headline.”

Ted: “Why, it says, ‘Election Today,’ Sheriff.”

“That it does, sir. Now, you, boy” — he addressed Joe — “Read the headline.”

“But Sheriff, sir! This newspaper is Chinese.

“I didn’t ask you where it was from boy, I said read it. Now what do that headline say?”

“It says, there’s no colored folks voting in Beauregard County today.”

What the Washington Police Department under Chief Cathy Lanier has done is the gun-licensing equivalent of that clown sheriff’s literacy test. No-one not “connected” can succeed.

The way this is done is by requiring training by a Washington Police Department-licensed trainer, and then, by not licensing any trainers. There is only one catch, but it’s Catch-22. Emily Miller explains:

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

(Hat tip, John Richardson).

Lanier, by the way, devotes much of her limited energy to fighting gun rights in her jurisdiction. She has no discernible interest in closing the city’s thousands of cold homicides (including most of this year’s, of course).

There are so many unsolved murders, and the police department is so incompetent, that they’re not at all sure they list them all, and they appeal to the public to remind them of the murderers their dozing detectives forgot:

The MPD is working to update the Unsolved Murders web page. If your loved one was murdered in DC and their picture does not appear on this web page, please either email us at  unsolved.murder@dc.gov…. Please provide the name of your loved one and the year they were murdered. If a photo is mailed in, please let us know if we need to return it and include a return address.

Lord love a duck. So she’s not really on top of the unsolved-murder thing, or of pursuing the teeming throngs of violent criminals in certain parts of the city,  but she’s always up for a press conference when the violence spills out of the ghettoes and claims a foreign tourist.

Speaking of which, one more difference between Moscow and Washington: until this law change, only Russian citizens could have guns in Russia… the RT report is unclear but there seem to be some provisions for foreigners to be armed for lawful purposes.

Meanwhile, in the US, this kind of intransigence by bad cops just brings the date of national reciprocity closer. And it might be a century off, but we could see international reciprocity coming in the very long term.

“We support the homeless, just not here.”

The New York Times is distressed that the city is suffering a plague of threatening bums:

…a growing number of homeless encampments in the city’s parks, traffic squares and plazas. The attendant behavior — like public urination, sleeping on benches and violating the blanket 1 a.m. parks curfew — has led to tensions with neighboring communities.

We confess we only skimmed the article, but for years the Times attributed all the phenomena of urban homeless to the administration of George W. Bush. If they’re still doing that, like some others seem to do for their problems, we missed it in this one.

But they go to great lengths not to tie any of the trouble to the city’s bum-friendly government, which the Times itself pulled out all stops to help elect.

Over all, the city’s homeless population is at a record high, with 57,676 people living in shelters as of early November, in addition to the growing numbers on the streets. In the past month, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office has convened an interagency task force to address the issue. As part of that effort, the city has identified 25 sites where the street homeless are congregating in large numbers. The sites include parks, private buildings, vacant lots and bridges, which have become priorities for the outreach teams who fan out across the city’s five boroughs daily to engage people living on the streets.

“We go out and talk to the homeless and ask them what they wanted because we assumed that if they were avoiding the shelter system then that wasn’t an attractive option,” said Jody Rudin, the deputy commissioner for adult services for the Department of Homeless Services.

That is so Manhattan. “Yes, Chauncey, we went to have a dialogue with the indigent-Americans in the Hooverville in the park. We were going to lay some of that good old New York Times patent Tikkun Olam on them. But we couldn’t make hide nor hair of what those gentlemen were saying.”

We’d just like to observe, from our lowly station in life, marked as it is by the absence of even a single Ivy League degree, that expecting to get rational responses from insane people is a suboptimal course of action, rather unlikely to be crowned by success.

In the past year, about a dozen parks seem to have become magnets for homeless people. Sometimes, it is because of their proximity to refuges that suddenly became off-limits, as was the case when the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Upper Manhattan, closed in August for renovations.

Suddenly, neighborhood residents noticed an influx of homeless men and women into Juan Pablo Duarte Square, a sliver of green several blocks south of the station. People chained their shopping carts to the wrought-iron fencing in the square and slept in cardboard boxes there.

via Tensions Over Park Behavior as Homelessness Rises in New York City – NYTimes.com.

“Their” shopping carts? We’re not sure the expropriated markets would agree, the filthy capitalist pigs. Power to the people, right on! But we digress.

We’re sure this flowering of the fragrant ones had nothing to do with the instructions that went out to police to stop enforcing laws against petty crimes. That certainly would not encourage petty criminals, sane or insane.

Then there’s that guy, who (emphasis ours) may explain why some people fear the homeless, and why the rational approach is one that these New Yorkers have never seemed to consider, locking the beggars up. Charles Cephus is that guy:

“The parks offer solace for me,” said Charles Cephus, 41, who was walking through Harlem River Park on a recent evening.

Mr. Cephus, who said he had served 21 years in prison for second-degree murder, is now living in a shelter on Wards Island and trying to put his plumbing skills to use. Earlier in the day, he had taken a nap on a bench in Marcus Garvey Park, also in Harlem. “No one bothers me in the parks,” he said.

The answer to this problem, and a very large part of the violent crime problem, is simple, although it’s not easy: reinstitutionalize the mentally ill. Reform involuntary commitment laws, removing some of the unrealistic civil-libertarian obstacles. Develop involuntary outpatient commitment protocols.

Further, one is reminded of this:

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

And execute the goddamn murderers, or keep them in jail forever. How hard is that? Charles Cephus would not be blighting a park and terrifying citizens if New York had done the right thing in the first place.

Exit comment: this may be news to the New York Times, where household problems are addressed by “call the co-op maintenance office and complain, and complain,” but no one trying to “put his plumbing skills to use,” does it by spending the day napping and loafing on a bench in Marcus Garvey Park.

HSI’s Odd Restrictions on Agents’ Personal Weapons

department-of-homeland-security-mrap-dhs-ndaa-hb347-totalita-politics-1334409716There are numerous investigative agencies and armed police in our Federal government — probably more agencies than anyone can account for. The Amtrak SWAT team? Yep, it’s a thing. Criminal Investigators for the Library of Congress? They’re out there, and they’re armed, sworn 1811s like any other Special Agent.

Each agency has to decide how to arm its own cops and agents, and how much leeway to give them to arm themselves. Some have no restrictions on backup and off-duty carry. Some require that their Special Agents to carry the issue hogleg, period. We’re not aware of any that does what some New York and Massachusetts police departments do: requires their law enforcers to keep the firearm in a locker in the office; but there’s probably one out there.

In between these extremes, the most common thing is to require an agent to shoot the qualifications (and pass) using his or her desired off-duty or substitute weapon, and often to require a certain minimum performance of the weapon (no, your NAA .22 is not going to cut it). Others have a shortlist of permitted weapons — it isn’t just your peers’ laughter that keeps you from toting that Hi-Point with the Airsoft red/green dot sight. Usually, there’s some provision that old goats nearing retirement can cling to their guns and religion (just joking about the religion, so far), which explains the presence of revolvers in approved lists.

Since it’s the Federal government, managers tend not to be the best of the line investigators. Let’s pause a moment to explain how that happens: a manager tends to be whatever underperformer a superior manager can promote without screwing up his throughput statistics. You can’t lose your best investigator. You can lose your most inept and lazy agent. Didn’t you wonder why they picked you for SAC?

Given that the managers have to look up to see “average,” there isn’t a lot of originality or variation to the way these agencies handle off duty and backup weapons. They either crib off the FBI’s homework, or they copy off whatever agency the latest SES lateraled in from. But Homeland Security Investigations marches to its own drummer. They issue .40 SIGs, and managers are dimly aware of some problems: maintenance issues, agent preferences, and the really crappy qualification scores of those agents unwilling to spend quality range time mastering the .40, or unable to find good instruction or coaching.

A certain percentage of agents come out of FLETC “qualified” by the skin of their teeth and having a love-hate relationship with shooting and their sidearms, without the “love” bit. These agents struggle to maintain qualification, and strong incentives encourage managers to report these struggling shooters as fully qualified.

A change to the 9mm is probably coming, in the long term, but in the meantime the agency is facing a near mutiny of SIG rejectors, resulting in a stockpile of unissued pistols and agents choosing from the agency’s shortlist of approved firearms. (Any agent can get approval to use one or two firearms from this list, in lieu of or as a backup to the issue SIG). But the list is just plain weird. Here it is, shorn of verbiage:

  1. Sig 226 .40 in either TDA or DAK (full size)
  2. Sig 229 .40 in either TDA or DAK (mid size)
  3. Sig 239 .40 TDA or DAK (compact)
  4. Glock 17 9mm (full size)
  5. Glock 26 9mm (compact)
  6. H&K compact .40 with LEM trigger (about same size as 229 but lighter)
  7. H&K p2000 sk .40 (compact)
  8. S&W .38 or .357 magnum revolver (5 shot, compact).

It’s as interesting what there isn’t on there, as what there is. Here are a few thoughts:

  • If you like a SIG but you prefer 9mm, you’re SOL.
  • Ditto if you like a Glock in .40. Or anything at all in .45.
  • The single most curious omission is the Glock 19 midsize 9mm. They have the bulky 17 and the small 26, but not the mid-size 15-shot G19? What gives? Per one of the trainers, “if we permitted that, no one would carry the SIGs.” What the agents seem to believe is that the firearms trainers and managers are so committed to the SIG platform that they’re actively sabotaging everything else.
  • We see the Smith (why not Colt?) revolver as a sop to greybeards who already had one. But the five-shot limitation is just inexplicable.

A solid majority of agents are never going to carry anything but whatever they got issued “for free.” That’s just the way it is; 999.a-buncha-nines out of a thousand special agents neither expect to use their weapon nor practice with itj. And we understand the rationale that agencies use to try to keep their agents’ off duty weapons restricted to a small number of popular models. Having too many makes and models of guns to keep track of it is confusing, and bad for proficiency; in addition, there’s always that guy, that 1% exemplar of any group, who sees freedom nearly as a license for him to do something stupid

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have teeth

jamesfoster_mugshotNo, that isn’t Austin Powers villain Fat Bastard in the facing mugshot. It’s a character named James Foster, who got bagged Friday after running since August — for biting a guy’s ear off in beautiful downtown Tulsa.

Who does he think he is, Mike Tyson?

An ex-con is facing a maiming charge after allegedly biting off the ear of a male victim during an Oklahoma bowling alley fight that was triggered by a spilled drink, cops report.

James Foster, a 40-year-old convicted felon, was arrested Friday on the felony count and booked into the Tulsa County jail. He was released from custody Saturday after posting $10,200 bond.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the August 31 confrontation began when bowlers on adjacent lanes argued over a drink being spilled on a table that they shared. A group of about seven girls was on one lane, while the other was being used by Chris and Desiree Lyons and their 17-year-old daughter.

“The females eventually left stating that they were going to come back with their boyfriends,” the affidavit notes. When the girls returned, they were accompanied by Foster, an ex-con who has served time for shooting with intent to kill and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Foster is the father of one of the girls who tangled with the Lyons family at The Lanes at Coffee Creek.

A witness told police that Foster began “swinging punches with a closed fist.” During the confrontation, Foster allegedly bit off Chris Lyons’s ear. Lyons, 48, subsequently told investigators that his ear “could not be reattached, that he will have to undergo plastic surgery and skin grafting to repair the damage caused by the defendant.”

Police noted that the Lyons family was fearful that Foster “will find them again and retaliate for the charges sought.”

While cops sought to arrest Foster soon after the fight, they were unable to locate him. After being pulled over for speeding Friday, Foster was arrested on the outstanding maiming warrant. Foster is scheduled for a November 21 Tulsa District Court hearing. (2 pages)

via Ex-Con Bit Off Man’s Ear During Bowling Brawl | The Smoking Gun.

That’s the Smoking Gun’s version of the story, and they have the affidavit,  which makes Foster look even worse, if that’s possible.

In the first place, it appears that the teen slattern who precipitated the fight, and said she’d get her boyfriend… is Foster’s daughter. (And girlfriend? Anything’s possible in Lifestyles of the Criminal and Impetuous™). And then, there’s the fact that Foster didn’t start with his gnawing victim, but started out in the very manly way that he learned as Cletus’s date in the State Pen, beating on another teenage girl. It was when Lyons (the victim) interceded that Foster bit his ear off. Lyons recovered his ear, but doctors couldn’t put it back on.

The affidavit closes:

James Thomas Foster, on or about 8/31/2014, in Tulsa County, State of Oklahoma and within the jurisdiction of this court, did commit the crime of MAIMING, a Felony, by unlawfully, feloniously, willfully and intentionally with a premeditated design to injure one Chris Lyons did then and there inflict upon the person of the said Chris Lyons injuries which disfigured his appearance by then and there biting part of Chris Lyons ear off, with the unlawful and felonious intent then and there on the part of said defendant to injure, maim and commit mayhem on the body of the said Chris Lyons,

Contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State.

Sometimes there is a certain majesty in the forms of the law. Even if there’s barely any humanity in the behavior the laws are arrayed against.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have screwdrivers

Cat-Looks-ShockedIf you’re a cat hater, you’re cool with that, because the “victim” in this case is a cat — and a cat even cat lovers might hate, as it was not, ahem, using the litter box. Still, you have to love Massachusetts. The lady woman in question is liable to a 5-years-in-State-Pen felony for what the reporter amusingly calls “felicide,” but for assaulting her daughter is only charged with a misdemeanor A&B that usually nets 30 days or less in the county house, or a one-year probation.

A Dudley woman who allegedly used a screwdriver to stab her family’s incontinent pet cat to death Thursday was released on $200 bail after being charged with animal cruelty.

Michelle E. Stegenga, 37, of Shepherd Avenue was arraigned Friday in Dudley District Court after her daughter went to police and reported that her mother had killed the cat and later tussled with her.

Police, according to court documents, went to the Stegenga home and spoke with Ms. Stegenga, who told them she was frustrated because “the cat was peeing on everyone’s clothes, ruining them.”

You can see where this might get old for the housekeeper who launders those clothes. Still, she’s looking like, at least, an anger management failure.

She allegedly told police she used her husband’s screwdriver to kill the cat.

This is one of those things. If she had taken the cat to a vet and had it put down, Massachusetts law wouldn’t care. Kind of like the difference in Massachusetts law between bearing a kid at Planned Parenthood and having it whacked during delivery, or delivering it at home and whacking it yourself. Or the difference between the cops whacking a Wealth Redistribution Specialist® (or a bystander negligently struck whilst engaging said Wealth Redistribution Specialist®), which is A-OK in the Bay State, and you whacking the same individual in your foyer, which the state views as barbarous vigilantism). The state tends to privilege the arm’s length, carried-out-by-trained-professionals approach, and discourage, er, self-help in these things. After all, laws exist to benefit the political class over the working schmoes.

Police wrote that they found the cat buried in the backyard but were unable to find the screwdriver used in the felicide.

Without the murder weapon, she can probably get off — if she pays enough to a lawyer. Another way the political class lines its own pockets.

Police also informed the state Department of Children and Families because there were other children in the household.

Yeah, and the DCF has a really good record. (Some of the meatiest stories are on the third and fourth page of those google results — that’s how bad it is, and how long it’s been bad for).

Under state law, a person convicted of animal cruelty can be sentenced to not more than 5 years in state prison or 2½ years in the house of correction or fined $2,500. Anyone convicted is also prohibited from working in occupations that require them to be in contact with animals.

via Dudley woman allegedly stabbed cat to death – Worcester Telegram & Gazette – telegram.com.

She should have let the cat go, used the screwdriver on her daughter, and explained it was just a 35th-trimester “termination”.

Did you dry fire this week?

Remember the Trayvon Martin target? Yeah, bad taste.

Remember the Trayvon Martin target? Yeah, bad taste.

‘Member our discussion on the importance of dry fire? You probably left that discussion, like many people, vowing to yourself to do it a little more.

Did you?

Or did you make it to the end of the week without making your firearm go click? If you are that guy, there still time.

Don’t be that guy. Take twenty minutes this coming weekend, clear your carry or home defense gun, and “fire” at something (something safe, naturally, in case you brainfroze during the “clear your gun” phase).

Here’s a pro dry-fire tip: Work your way to smaller and smaller targets as your front sight control and follow-through gets better. If you’re dry-firing at your reflection in the mirror (don’t worry. We’ll never tell) then “hits” are easy to come by. If you’re dry-firing at a 1/4″ rivet in a binder in a bookcase across the room, you will need to work harder on your grip, trigger control, and follow-through.

Start on a target you can consistently call good shots on, and then work your way to the next size smaller. You can never have too much consistency, precision and accuracy in your fundamentals, whether you’re shooting bullseye, benchrest, or bad guys. (If you’re shooting good guys, first tip: hold your Glock with the sights to the left and the magwell right, and stab it at your target).

If you are getting frustrated trying to “hit” the target you chose, pick one two sizes larger and continue doing that, if need be, till your skills are meeting the target. Practice with that for a while, and then move one size smaller.

You’re not trying to achieve perfect Zen mastery in one session. You’re just trying to make your very next shot the perfect shot, and you’ll do this for just a little while before reloading, holstering, and moving on (or locking the gun back up, if that’s how you roll. But the point of a defensive handgun is to have a defensive weapon with you).

Follow-through is especially important and it’s one of the things that separates pros from schmoes. You may not be a pro but there’s no harm in trying to shoot more like one.

So, you did dry-fire this week, right?

 

(Note: this is another one that spent all night in the queue. So Saturday is off to a way slow start, as we’re chasing light fixtures here anyway. Perhaps you should wander back and read How to Deal with Pool Guns — for the Border Patrol or What’s New in 3D-Printed Guns & Enabling Tech if their length daunted you before. Or use the search engine to find something you like in the 3,000-plus posts on this blog, 1,000-plus of them from 2014).