Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Defending Against Armed Attack: Armed vs. Unarmed

More details continue to emerge about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. It is likely that, as more information proves out, many initial reports will be exposed as inaccurate (indeed, we speculated in comments that because the police were very slow to release the ID of the shooter, he was probably a Moslem. Instead, he seems to have been a native-born, religion-free nut job motivated by dreams of television celebrity).

The shooter was a confusing and confused individual, a militant atheist who called himself conservative, who linked to Islamists but apparently just for the murders, who admired several spree killers and expressed a desire to benefit from similar media celebrity — which, of course, he now has. Anti-gun politicians wasted no time calling for further punishment of those gun owners who didn’t do it, led by a typically self-referential and self-regarding speech by the President, and including such staple anti-gun figures as Texas State Senator John Whitmire, who may have set a new record for variations of the abnegatory but  (“I support the 2nd Amendment, but“) in an interview with two radio reporters and fellow anti-gun Democrats. (They are careful not to mention his, or their, party).

Oregon, increasingly North California, had already installed most of the legal panaceas pushed as first or interim “common sense” measures by the gun-ban enthusiasts: . The state had a law that permitted campus carry, but allowed individual colleges to opt out, which Umpqua did in righteous terms:

Possession, use, or threatened use of firearms (including but not limited to BB guns, air guns, water pistols, and paint guns) ammunition, explosives, dangerous chemicals, or any other objects as weapons on college property, except as expressly authorized by law or college regulations, is prohibited.

We won’t go into the politics of this issue at this time — that’s not the point of the post. The point is, what can you do?

Like the Westgate Mall shooters, this guy got his jollies asking terrified people a question about their religion. Wrong answer, they kill you.

If you are a student at a school like Umpqua that privileges murderers above defenders, you have certain choices:

  1. You can obey the policy and pray for salvation in the event of an attack.
  2. You can obey the policy and fight back, unarmed.
  3. You can violate the policy and let the chips fall where they may.
  4. You can drop out or transfer out.

That seems to cover it. We know what happened to those who followed the first line of defense. If they were Jews, Hindus, or some other minority religion, the gunman “spared” them, shooting them in the legs. If they were Christians, he made himself their judge and executioner.

We ‘re aware of at least two students who took approaches 2 and 3, both veterans. This is how those approaches worked out.

Attack Unarmed

chris mintzWe all know that an unarmed attack on an armed man may succeed, as we recently saw in France. (In a strange coincidence, one of the French train heroes, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, was a student at Umpqua, but he was out of state at the time of the shooting). Even in France, several of the men who attacked the gunman were wounded, but force of numbers, along with speed, surprise and violence of action, won the day.

Army vet Chris Mintz, a fitness buff learning to be a fitness coach at Umpqua, gave it his best shot — and was on the receiving end of a number of shots (some stories say five, some say seven) in his legs. The wounds took him out of the fight; he was unable to disarm the shooter.

Carry Despite the Policy

john-johnThat doesn’t guarantee a win for the good guys, either. In this case, a vet who identified himself as John (on camera) told Breitbart’s Lee Stranahan, that as a concealed carry permit holder, “Yeah, I purchased my rights back from the government.”

We were in a — there’s a special room, for just veterans to go to and study. We were just getting ready to go to our next class, someone left, came back in and said, “Hey, active shooter on campus. We’ve gotta leave.”

His first reaction was that it was probably a false alarm.

A few of us were not sure if it was just somebody across the river on county-owned land, target practicing, or if they were really a shooter on campus. So a few of us said, “Let’s check this out and go see what’s going on.”

At that time, we were told to go into a room. We went our separate ways into different rooms. We stayed in lockdown for about two hours.

And that was where your concealed carrier was, locked into a room by the gunless campus Paul Blart, whose emergency plan was apparently to concentrate the victims for the convenience of the shooter. Ultimately, the cops killed the shooter (or he killed himself) before he got to the room with the surprise in it.

John-John was unimpressed with the college’s self-designation as a Victim Disarmament Zone. And if he had been 200 yards closer to the shooting, instead of 200 yards away?

“Military… Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, whatever… we’re trained to run towards danger, not run away from it. I would have gone closer… to see if there was something I could have done, to intervene, to help. If that would have gotten me shot, I don’t know. If it would have gotten me to a point where I could have saved thirteen or however many victims…? We’ll never know. Speculation.”

Hmmm… while we’re speculating, what if brave Chris Mintz had been the guy with a defensive gun?


These are rare attacks, and each one has its own idiosyncrasies. Two things that seem nearly universal are the killer’s failure at life, and his desire for media lionization, something the media never fails to give him.

People who think these crimes are unique to the United States, or that crazies need firearms to carry them out, have blinders on.

When the fight comes to you, you need to fight as you are. Every bullet absorbed by Chris Mintz, who will recover, is one that was not fired into the head of a defenseless person.

There is not much that can be done in the public policy realm that will have any effect on these sorts of crimes, and nothing at all that will affect them in the short term. The best policy prescription might be to put more resources into basic research on mental illness, but are we prepared to launch an effort that might take a century to tell us, “We know a lot of fascinating new things, but nothing practical; predicting and preventing wig-outs remains impossible”?

One thing we could do is bring consequences home to those who disarm victims for the benefit of assailants. Congress should make any corporation or non-profit and its officers, trustees, and responsible decision-makers bear strict, unlimited, joint and several liability for the predictable consequences of this disarmament.

What Happened in Kenya’s Westgate Mall?

It turns out, what happened in September, 2013, is not what we’ve been told. The official line goes something like this: that up to a dozen armed jihadis attacked, killed hundreds, holed up with dozens of hostages and blew the place up, and were taken out in a determined assault by Nairobi SWAT.

"Fucking Americans!" Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow spat, and gunned down Ross Langdon, 32 who died in a futile attempt to save his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend Elif Yavuz. Neither was American.

“Fucking Americans!” Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow spat, and gunned down Ross Langdon, 32 who died in a futile attempt to protect his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend Elif Yavuz. Neither was American.

What actually happened was more remarkable:

  1. There were only four young gunmen, Somali expendables from as-Shabaab, lightly armed with AKs and hand grenades, presumably F1s.
  2. They seemed to enjoy playing with the defenseless people at the mall. For example, they’d ask people questions, and shoot them, depending on the answers. They took pleasure in shooting women and children and praised themselves to their god, and praised their god, every killing. In one case a Hindu man and his wife survived because he knew the words of the shahada, the mohammedan profession of faith. (Learning that shibboleth may be a survival skill. Saying the words doesn’t really make you moslem: you have to grow a beard, start wearing a shalwar kameez, insist on bagging your women, and develop urges to murder children).
  3. While the police hesitated, like the cops at the Columbine, Colorado school shooting in the USA, individual non-police gun carriers and a few bold individual policemen entered the mall in pursuit of the four gunmen. These guys are the ones you see saving those who were saved.
  4. Aside: hail to the photographers. A reporter can write a terrorist attack story from his hotel bar, and it’s clear that many of them did in this case, but the photog has to go there and put his or her quivering young body in the range of hostile fire. They’re men and women after our own hearts.
  5. The mall had only five exits including a single department store loading dock, and the mohammedans occupied two of them by force, each with a loose two-man team. This may not have been their plan — they don’t seem to have been very bright — but that’s how it shook out.
  6. The survivors used a variety of survival strategies: since no good guys were armed until the gun carriers and cops started filtering in, fight was out of the question, so they mostly depended on flight and concealment. A number of survivors, especially wounded survivors, played dead. Some who played dead were caught out and executed by laughing terrorists.
  7. There was a racial aspect to the attack as well as the religious one. Whites and Asians (including South Asians) seem to have been marked for death, although the killers said they were only killing Americans and Kenyans, and released some victims who claimed (truthfully or not) to be other nationalities. However, they didn’t ask the nationality of most of those that they killed.
  8. It seems likely that some of the attackers had been living as refugees in Kenya, as they spoke English and Kenyan Swahili. We are reminded of the old saw that one in ten refugees is an agent for a hostile power.
  9. Many of the survivors spoke about how calm the attackers seemed. We smell khat. 
  10. Nobody was more scared than the street cop who realized, as an ethnic Somali with an AK, he might be mistaken for the attackers by his own guys, despite his police uniform. But he went in and saved people anyway, despite being seriously wounded by the terrorists. You would hope the Kenyan republic gives him the medal he earned.
  11. When the Kenyan police and army finally attacked many hours later, they did it by an uncoordinated strike through separate entrances, and when they two forces met, they engaged each other. After that, the elite police SWAT-like unit took their casualties and went home, and the Army and other police proceeded to trash the place.
  12. The rescuers were too late to save much of anybody: most of the casualties were killed in the initial attack, or bled out during the hours it took officialdom to nerve itself up to move.
  13. All the significant damage to the mall was caused by the Kenyan military and police — this was all gravy from the point of view of as-Shabaab.
Ad hoc security: (l-r): non-Kenyan security professional with M9; Kenyan licensed carrier with Glock (note IDPA patch@); Kenyan citizen or (given lax trigger discipline!) plainclothes cop with CZ-75. The CZ is very popular in Kenya both with police and civilians. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Ad hoc security: (l-r): non-Kenyan security professional with M9; Kenyan licensed carrier with Glock (note IDPA patch!); Kenyan citizen or (given lax trigger discipline!) plainclothes cop with CZ-75. The CZ is very popular in Kenya both with police and civilians. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

The Kenyan security services did not cover themselves in glory here. Once again, we learn some timeless lessons:

  1. Afterward, the intelligence services find out they should have seen it coming, but oops.
  2. The rescue that matters is self-rescue and self-started civilian rescue. The cavalry only comes in time in Hollywood.
  3. Most untrained people are passive even in the face of certain death. 
  4. Talking to terrorists doesn’t work. The guys who stood up to remonstrate with the terrorists would agree, except they’re all dead.
  5. In the imagined “gun-free zone,” even the most inept miscreant with a gun is king. We’ve seen ten clowns with rifles tie all Bombay in knots for days, and here’s a mass-casualty (and mass-headline-producing, the terrs’ metric) event caused by four shooters with minimal training and basic equipment.
  6. Kenya’s policy of issuing concealed carry licenses to trusted individuals worked to the benefit of all here. Contrary to popular expectation, the licensees worked well with each other and with the police. We hope Kenya will consider expanding the policy.
  7. An ad-hoc, self-organized response right here right now, is not only “not necessarily bad,” but might be a lot better than the perfect, coordinated SWAT raid an hour from now. (And as we’ve seen, the raid was not perfect and coordinated).
  8. Once your forces are on scene, there is no more reason for delay — only excuses and pretexts. To be sure, the murders of those people at the Westgate Mall were on the heads of as-Shabaab, but a significant number of the dead would have been surviving wounded with speedy and resolute action, which was lacking.
  9. The time to make sure your radios are interoperable is before the attack. If you haven’t done that, and Kenyans hadn’t, you can pretty much guarantee they won’t be, and they weren’t.
  10. Finally: don’t expect the security forces to investigate themselves after a cock-up of this magnitude. After the initial raid at Waco, the ATF leaders of the raid shredded their raid plan and lawyered up. After the final incendiary attack, the FBI destroyed mountains of evidence. So it should surprise no-one that the promised investigation of the Westgate attack has never materialized in Kenya. It won’t, and if it does, it will be an empty whitewash.

The source for this is a remarkable and thoroughly reported analysis in Foreign Policy by Kenya-based reporter Tristan McConnell. McConnell has pieced together this story from dozens of interviews with survivors, and his conclusions are bitter and blunt:

Far from a dramatic three-day standoff, the assault on the Westgate Mall lasted only a few hours, almost all of it taking place before Kenyan security forces even entered the building. When they finally did, it was only to shoot at one another before going on an armed looting spree that resulted in the collapse of the rear of the building, destroyed with a rocket-propelled grenade. And there were only four gunmen, all of whom were buried in the rubble, along with much of the forensic evidence.

During the roughly three-and-a-half hours that the killers were loose in the mall, there was virtually no organized government response. But while Kenyan officials prevaricated, an unlikely coalition of licensed civilian gun owners and brave, resourceful individual police officers took it upon themselves to mount a rescue effort. Pieced together over 10 months from more than three dozen interviews with survivors, first responders, security officers, and investigators, the following account brings their story to life for the first time since the horrific terrorist attack occurred exactly two years ago.

We haven’t seen such a remarkable job of forensic reporting since Mark Bowden’s series of newspaper reports that became the book, and later the Ridley Scott movie, Black Hawk Down. It is to be hoped that McConnell has book-length ambitions also; he certainly must have more human-interest details in his hours of interviews. Some pieces of the puzzle are lacking still (how did the attackers die?) but McConnell has done more to shed light on this disastrous failure of public policy and police response, as well as its aspects of human tragedy, than any five other writers.

More than a hat tip: our attention was called to this by fellow combat vet (in, we think we have this right, the SADF in the 80s) Peter Grant, who writes science fiction books in the spirit (and he’d probably admit, shadow) of Heinlein, and who blogs at Bayou Renaissance Man. Here is his post on Westgate.

Two Police Officers Murdered From Ambush, 2012

Dale Cregan court caseCriminal depravity is neither uniquely American nor anything new. But this is a particularly cold-blooded incident.

The two cops were lured to their doom by a burglary call that turned out to be a pretext for bringing them into their killer’s sights. Both of the officers were women — Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23. They were killed by gunfire — a lot of gunfire, 32 shots — and a grenade, all delivered in a single fusillade in about a half minute. And neither got a shot off. There’s a good reason for that: this happened in England, where most cops don’t go armed.

The creepy one-eyed killer, Dale Cregan, 29, made the hoax call and then as the two WPCs walked up the path to the door, opened the door and began blasting with a Glock handgun with an extended magazine. Of his 32 shots at point-blank range, five put WPC Hughes down and three more were fired into her head as she lay there. WPC Bone was also hit eight times; somewhere in there she managed to discharge the one, feeble, defensive weapon she had, a Taser.

cregans glock

We generally consider extended magazines like this an impractical gimmick on a handgun, although we admit to owning several (including Korean 50-round Glock drums) simply for the amusement value. With training, a mag change does not interrupt accurate fire significantly, but the extended mags (even Glock-brand extended mags, which are more reliable than knockoffs) increase the probability of a stoppage. But we suppose when it’s “British criminal rules” and you don’t have to fear return fire you can “go big” in the magazine department with relative impunity.

Cregan was already wanted for another gun-and-grenade murder, and it turned out he’d committed a fourth murder and multiple firearms assaults before that. The 29-year-old career felon had reportedly had his eye removed by members of a rival gang.

Britain’s vaunted gun control laws are so effective — handguns have been banned since 1996 there — that Cregan had no difficulty amassing an arsenal of approximately ten weapons, including the Glock, and automatic weapons. This did not count his stock of grenades, which were mostly Yugoslav models. The ones used in the 2012 killings were M-75s; after Cregan turned himself in to police, they found some of his grenades in a storm drain stash (the black ribbed bodies are M-75s. They use NATO-thread fuzes, IIRC).

cregans nades

Note that Britain not only has nationwide gun control, it’s an island, with a modern, First World police force and a short menu of ports and airports of entry. Every one of Cregan’s weapons originated outside the UK and passed through that border barrier as if it were nonexistent. Of course, as the lessons of Australia, the Philippines, and several other highly firearms-restrictive jurisdictions suggest, this result is foreseeable if not predictable.

When Cregan finally stood trial in 2013, nine other members of his gang were tried with him. He got a very rare life sentence, something English and Welsh jurisprudence is extremely loath to issue.

So tell us again how disarming the fox hunters and the Olympic pistol team prevents crime. Apparently Dale Cregan didn’t get the memo.

Hat tip, Guns n Freedom.

Body Cam Footage: How Not to Release It

We have said that dash and body cams, as much as they creep officers out, save a lot more cops’ skins than they put at risk. (On the other hand, the military approach, where the eye on your forehead is being watched in the FOB, in Tampa, or in DC and desk jockeys from all those zip codes are murmuring advice in your ear, is not so good). But having a recording of what cops do from their own point of view is a life- or at least career-saver, and a primo slayer of conspiracy theories.

That’s because most cops do follow their training in interaction with the public. While there may be times they err, being, loath as the public is to give them the credit sometimes, human, most of the time the video shows that the cop was in the right. And the story the suspect or his survivors cooked up of poor li’l Dindu Nuffin bein’ set upon by Da Man is, how shall we put this? Horse puckey.

So the best thing to do, when you have a clean shoot, is to release the video early and often. Let the it-bleeds-it-leads ghouls on local TV have their blood meal. Let the relatives’ story of a “police assassination” be compared to video of a snarling nut-job charging cops with a knife.

Or you can botch it completely like the New Hampshire Attorney General and the state Supreme Court did in the case of the suicide-by-cop of a mentally ill man, Hagen Esty-Lennon, who charged two Haverhill, NH cops, Greg Collins and Ryan Jarvis.

What they ultimately did, egged on by Dindu Nuffin’s wife who wants to pretend that her whackadoodle husband didn’t functionally kill himself, was release the videos with the actual shooting redacted. So all it shows is Hagen Esty-Lennon’s agitated, crazy behavior. Then during the shooting you have the audio of Esty-Lennon being ventilated by multiple shots from the cops’ Smith & Wessons.

And then lots of audio of the chaotic aftermath that’s commonplace after a shooting.

One of the videos is above. Three more are at the New Hampster Union Leader, which was forced to sue for the videos — while the Dindu Nuffin clan spread nonsense about how their guy was heartlessly gunned down. For no reason. And thanks mostly to the AG, the agitators have been handed a video that they can continue to claim shows a bad shoot.

Of course, the AG is one of those individuals who has much more sympathy for criminals and their families than for the cops who spend their days trying to keep a lid on these people.

It gets worse. The very redaction they demanded, they’re now using as “evidence” of a “cover-up.”

Facts we can tell from the video:

  1. The guy was acting irrationally
  2. The guy had a knife.
  3. The guy had previously injured himself with the knife (that’s what the red stain is).
  4. The guy threatened the cops with the knife.

Everything else is speculation. But there’s nothing here that makes Esty-Lennon look like anything but one of those wretches who’s out on the street only because there are just not enough rooms with neoprene wallpaper, nor any working mechanism to send the nut jobs there.

Rifle Training, Fort Jackson, 1970s

OK, so there’s a new toy at the Unconventional Warfare Operations Research Library, and it’s a book scanner. First thing we tried to scan was a 1970s basic training “yearbook.” Like every student yearbook, it’s 95% stock content with 5% varying with each class, being the pictures of the current teachers and graduates. We did a hasty scan of the document, then edited out all the non-gun stuff.

1970s rifle training.pdf

So this is what M16A1 era basic training looked like on the only base that was, then, experimenting with integrated male/female training units. Check out the funny women’s uniforms — there was a female fatigue uniform which was made from the nylon stuff of late jungle fatigues and survived about two pressings, and female drill instructors wore a hideous knock off of an Australian bush hat. (Pretty sure women now wear the regular Smokey Bear hat).

Most of the troops attending basic at Jackson would go on to Combat Support and Combat Service Support jobs. Other bases trained Combat Arms (Infantry at Benning, Armor at Knox, Artillery at Sill). The Engineers trained at Fort Leonard Wood.

Rifle training was supposedly standardized across all training bases, and had several distinct phases or blocks of instruction:

  1. Mechanical training: operate, strip, clean, reassemble, and function-check the M16A1.
  2. Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM). Hold factors, sight picture, breathing, trigger, etc.
  3. Zero. Achieve a good battle-sight zero on the M16A1 with the Canadian Bull target.
  4. Field Firing. On a Trainfire (pop-up target) range, trainees practice shooting.
  5. Record Fire. On a Trainfire record fire range, engage targets from 50 to 300 meters.

After record fire, the green-fatigued troops could put a camouflage cover on their steel M1 helmets. The cover had a green side and a brown side, the brown side is seldom seen.

There were also familiarization fires such as NBC fire (5 or 10 rounds with a mask on), night fire (shot at day through light-limiting goggles — yes, really!), automatic fire from the bipod, and support weapons including the M60 (a few rounds) and the M72A1 LAW (for all but one or two lucky dogs per cycle, using the subcaliber device). Some of these are shown in the excerpt.

Yeah, the excerpt is rough. We’re still getting the hang of the scanner. Fujitsu SV600.

Mindset and Life

Deadliest weapon ever devised. Use yours.

Deadliest weapon ever devised. Use yours.

Mindset is life.

Or, sometimes, death.

Faced with a survival situation, some fight. Some flee. Some just freeze and wait to die or be saved by third party intervention. And some are not faced with this situation because they saw it coming and absented themselves. That is, in our opinion, the smartest thing to do if you don’t have to stand and fight. In order, the best outcomes are:

  1. A fight you never have;
  2. A fight you win without fighting;
  3. A fight you win, killing the enemy;
  4. A fight you win, wounding or scaring off the enemy.

The reason (4) is not as good as (3) is that you leave a possibility for revenge out there. Dead guys can’t seek revenge.

Indicators and Warnings

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero at Pearl Harbor. Illustration by Darryl Joyce. (Actually, we think he has the color wrong).

“Where did all those ^%^#*!! Japs come from?!?”.

Every time the national security bureaucracy is caught flatfooted, a rather frequent occurrence, reconsideration shows that there were was a sufficiency of Indicators & Warnings, I&W. They just weren’t read right, or interpreted, or they were ignored.

You don’t have to find big screwups like Pearl Harbor, the Chinese entry into the Korean War, or 9/11, to find examples of ignored I&Ws. Consider two individuals whose demise was reported in these pages in the last few months: a young man in Maine who blew his head off with fireworks, and a young man (hmmm… first indication of a pattern?) in coastal Texas whose last words were, reportedly, “F the gator!” Yes, he was warned about a large alligator in his chosen swimming hole, and yes, he ignored the warning, and yes, the gator killed him. Likewise, the Maine decedent’s friends warned him that setting off a large fireworks mortar on his head was A Bad Idea.

They didn’t heed the indicators.

That’s the biggest problem with human beings and I&W, even when the I&W is pretty obvious: “Hey, setting off an explosion on your brain housing group might be a bad idea,” or “There’s a man-eatin’ gator over yonder.” And the I&W is not that obvious, always. People hear hoofbeats and they’re not looking for zebras.

The US is not the only nation to be get caught napping like this. A couple of patrolling Zekes formed up on two B-25s one sunny morning off the coast of Honshu, and, not believing their eyes, convinced themselves they were looking at two experimental Imperial Japanese Army bombers they’d been told about — and let two of Doolittle’s Raiders go on to bomb Tokyo. That was fair payback for the Air Corps lieutenant three and a half months earlier, who, knowing that some B-17s were inbound, told some radar operators not to worry about what looked like a 50-plane raid on Oahu. Didn’t heed the indicators.

Some indicators are transient, some are durable, some are eternal. Obviously the Kaga and Akagi air wings on Pearl Harbor’s radar is a transient indicator. A durable one? Certain neighborhoods’ reputations. There were four fatal opiate ODs in our little county last weekend, in two separate towns. All four of them happened in streets that would have come up in discussion if you asked a town cop, “If someone OD’d here in your town, exactly where would you find the stiff?” If you’re not looking for hard drugs, you probably don’t want to go to those places, even in these very safe (generally speaking) towns.

The character of a neighborhood only changes over time, and with a change of people. When a neighborhood is improved, it’s not because they built shiny new buildings or added street lamps. It’s because they removed (or the cost of living in a shiny new building removed) the people who made the neighborhood bad.


“The superior person uses his superior judgment so as not to have to make a vulgar display of his superior skills.” This has long been a saying among pilots, but we’ve torqued it to fit a more general set of superior persons.

In interpersonal conflict, judgment is displayed best by the party that seeks to avoid, evade, and escape the conflict, and only goes to the gun (or lead pipe, or barstool, whatever) when the evasion phase has failed.

In analyzing any conflict, certain inflection points are evident (in hindsight!) where better judgment might have defused the situation or deflected the juggernaut before the collision point. Consider the George Zimmerman shooting of Trayvon Martin. There’s no question that the evidence shows that George was in the right by any measure of morality or law when he plugged Trayvon (and made one small contribution to the cause of fighting future prison overcrowding in Florida). But if you mentally “walk” the scene with George, you can see some of these inflection points, even if he didn’t, at the time.  Once the fight started, of course, he had no choices except to take the beating and roll the dice on personal death or serious inury on the one hand, or use force to stop it on the other.

And, while we haven’t spoken to the man, we have no doubt that, in retrospect, George Zimmerman would have rather avoided his fight with Trayvon Martin than, as happened, won it; his victory was the very definition of a Pyrrhic one. His life will never be the same again and he will never be free from intrusive, hostile reporters (who continue to report a false narrative and vilify Zimmerman to this day).

And that’s a case of a guy who won an unnecessary but desperate, life-stakes fight. The guys who lost are not available to tell us what they wish they had done.

We recall that instructor John S. Farnam had (and has, he’s still working) several pithy ways of saying this, but the best fight is the one that doesn’t happen. (Farnam is hardly the only one with such a message. It’s as old as Sun Tzu).

Mindset & Judgment Can be Learned

To an extent, anyway. We’re not as confident as the Army is that it can teach anybody pretty much anything, but we do believe that anyone can, by a process of analysis leading to mental and physical drills, improve his mindset and therefore his or her odds of survival.

These odds of survival are improved by training to hone your skills and survive an armed encounter, but they’re improved more by using your superior judgment so as not to have to make a vulgar display of your superior skills. Too few people do the former, and far too few people do the latter. (A lot of cops who are involved in shootings are just unlucky. But there are others, where none of their cop friends are surprised they were in a shooting. Why do you think that is?)

Most of us are not cops, and not soldiers (any more), and therefore, do need to saddle up and go into places where you’re likely to be engaged by gunfire. So here’s our version of some guidelines for fight avoidance:

  1. Carcharodon carcharias: business end of a healthy one.

    Carcharodon carcharias: business end of a healthy one.

    Don’t swim where the sharks feed. Yes, home invaders can come to suburbia, but most criminals live in poor, lousy neighborhoods and prey on each other as well as the majority of non-criminals who have the bad fortune to live there, too. If you live there, leave. If you go there, stop.

  2. If you must go where the sharks feed — you may have reasons; we had a friend whose elderly mother would not leave her house in South Central LA until the Rodney King riots burned it down and settled the question for her — don’t look like bait. Don’t act timid, walk boldly with your head up, like you belong there — and are the baddest mother in the valley. Also, don’t flash stuff that is irresistibly attractive to the sort of people who have been listening to TV and therefore think they’re entitled to take it from you.
  3. When you have to go into the badlands, take a lesson from the cops and don’t walk alone. If you can’t help looking like prey (maybe you’re small, or elderly person), bring a buddy who looks intimidating if you can.
  4. Don’t get distracted. This is the wrong time to be facebooking, texting or reading on your jeezly phone. In fact, it’s the wrong time to be taking calls. You need to be 100% in the analog world. We don’t know what the percentage of mugging victims in NYFC and San Francisco is, who had their ear buds in, but we’d take a guess it’s fairly high.
  5. Be conscious of concealment. Don’t give anyone the chance to ambush you.
  6. Manage the Clock. Most criminals stay up late and sleep late, too. If you have unavoidable business in their precincts, do it at seven o’clock in the morning when they’re down for the count, not at midnight when they’re just warming up.
  7. Be conscious of the fact that you may have to be ready, and always be ready to deliver a violent counterstrike.
  8. Work on avoidance, but once avoidance fails you should immediately execute a drilled, conscious plan. Strike hard and decisively. (George Z. got this bit exactly right, and every day’s life he has now, he only has because he did).
  9. If you err, and are attacked, act. Save regrets and recriminations for later.


Tam has commented on this at her indispensable blog, with some references to an earlier post of hers that made many of these same points, and one more important one. Go thither. Read that. Return smarter. That is all.

NYPD Officer Fired 14 Shots, Got Record 6 Hits (4/2014 incident, back in the news)

Joe Felice was the lucky (?) recipient of the six hits. If Patrolman Cronin's reason for firing him up has surfaced, NYPD and Westchester County prosecutors are not talking about it.

Joe Felice was the lucky (?) recipient of the six hits. If Patrolman Cronin’s reason for firing him up has surfaced, NYPD and Westchester County prosecutors are not talking about it.

“Only the Police Can Be Trusted With Guns®.” A lot of people in New York say that. Like Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-Five Families), Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-Leftistan) and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton (D-Ineffectual), to name a few.

But the record of the NYPD is not encouraging. Every gunfight is an opportunity to launch a single bullet with an armed felon’s name on it, but the Department instead produces officers who conduct a Mad Minute of spray-and-pray reconnaissance by fire.

Training issue? Certainly. Weapons issue (the crappy NY trigger, which some shooters actually do like?) Maybe. But a leadership issue? Absolutely.

“There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels.” — Napoleon.

New York has tens of thousands of cops; inevitably, some of them are going to be d-bags. Others might be good guys who screw up big “that one time.” But when the whole department shoots as if their guns have no sights and they learned basic pistol marksmanship from rap videos, they’re going to continue to have problems, and they’re doing that because command emphasis has not been placed on marksmanship. At least, not real command emphasis, which includes taskings, resources, and evaluation/inspection. Speeches about command emphasis, which were Bratton’s specialty in LA, Boston and his last rodeo in New York, don’t count .

Being a leader means, among other things, setting and upholding standards, and dealing appropriately with those subordinates who fail to achieve them. Civil Service protections and strong police unions make that functionally impossible. How can you raise the standard for marksmanship (say, from horrifying, to merely atrocious) when you can’t do anything to those who can’t or won’t meet the standard?

With this officer, though, the marksmanship is the least of his problems. Indeed, if his marksmanship had been any better, the jam he’s in would be substantially worse — and it’s pretty bad.

Two men who say they were shot at by a drunken, off-duty cop for no apparent reason sued the city Monday for the near-deadly debacle.

Joseph Felice and Robert Borrelli were driving home from a hockey game in Pelham, Westchester County, when NYPD officer Brendan Cronin “stepped out of the shadows” and fired 14 times at their ride in April 2014, documents charge. Felice was shot six times and narrowly escaped death.

Papers charge that Cronin and other officers had hit a bar on City Island in the Bronx before the shooting.

Are you getting the feeling that there’s more to this story than meets the eye so far? We sure are. Any time somebody tells us that Sumdood decked, or bent a tire iron on his head, or broke a volley of rounds in his direction, all “for no reason,” our bullshit detector redlines. It’s right up there with “minding my own business, when…” and the ever popular “dindu nuffin.” Most of the people who do that kind of thing with a fist/tire iron/handgun have really lousy reasons, but there’s seldom no reason.

Robert Borrelli was driving the car when it was struck by the bullets.
Cronin is awaiting a criminal trial in Westchester and has been suspended from the NYPD.

via Drunk cop fired 14 rounds at men as they drove home: suit – NY Daily News.

Still, the amazing thing is that an NYPD cop can fire fourteen shots and get six hits. That’s unheard of! (Maybe he was shooting at someone else, some unscathed third party?) Seriously, the days of the crack Stakeout Squad are over. These days, the NYPD only gets that many hits into bystanders, no matter how many shots they fire.

Of course, those cops are usually on duty, and are supposed to be sober. This guy was off duty, and was apparently not sober at all. This is why your daddy told you that alcohol and gunpowder don’t mix.

Now, a novice to the ways of big-city police work would think, “This cat Cronin is screwed, they’re gonna throw him so far in the back corner of Upstate that the screws will have to feed him with a Wrist Rocket.” But the last time NYPD had a guy this irresponsible with firearms, he wound up as Police Commissioner. Of course, he’s Commissioner in Chicago, but still…

Whatever Judgment Juice Cronin was guzzling, Bratton ought to send a case of it to each of his cops. If they can get around the little problem Cronin had with target discrimination, it could open up a whole new era in NYPD marksmanship.

Will Israel Nuke Iran First?

BLOWING UP PARADISEDefense intellectual and former Strategic Defense Initiative planner John Bosma argues in the American Thinker that for Israel the options are closing rapidly, and the least bad option may be to make a nuclear preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, aiming to disrupt development but also to kill the maximum number of scientists and technicians, and to leave any surviving facilities fatally irradiated.

Far from producing peace, Bosma claims, the deal negotiated between two preferentially antisemitic teams could be extremely destabilizing; it…

…also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

via Articles: Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War.

A limited Israeli strike could produce the nuclear disarmament of Iran that Obama and Kerry had claimed, before some of the terms of the deal put the lie to their statements, that they sought. Nuclear weapons are one effective solution to the underground bunkers used by Iran to shelter its systems.

Israel cannot  service this target set with conventional weapons — its stocks are not deep enough, and it’s clear that they can’t rely on the United States, at least under this Administration, for resupply.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal.

The two main factors Bosma sees making the nuclear option “almost mandatory” for Israel are the Iranian government’s continued propaganda and doctrine calling for nuclear weapons explicitly for the extermination of Jews, and, as recounted above, the US’s sudden tilt to the Iranian position. But he also lists a number of other reasons, which we’ll paraphrase:

  1. Iranian nuclear progress is self-sustaining and can’t be stopped with conventional weapons or sanctions. For Israel, it is a matter of nuke, or be nuked.
  2. Iranian progress is concrete hardening has essentially neutralized such weapons as the 30kp Massive Ordnance Penetrator, meaning it’s nukes or nothing.
  3. The presence in the agreement of a new US-Iranian limited military alliance targeted against Israel.
  4. The Russian agreement to deliver to Iran S-300 anti-ballistic and anti-aircraft weapons. This dual-purpose weapon is in the improved Patriot class and complicates strike planning (to put it mildly). The weapons are enroute to Iran already. (Russia is also delivering nuclear weapons delivery technology, including ICBMs). Some of these Russian missiles come with Russian mercenary crews. In addition, with Russian and Iranian assistance, the terrorist group Hezbollah has been converting its ineffective rockets into precision guided munitions with defense-evading technology.

While Bosma’s grim predictions may never come to pass, his position has a certain logic. (We believe it won’t come to pass because the Israeli government will shrink from following that logic to its inevitable end). In any event you should Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a brief but very information-dense piece.

If the Israelis did take this approach to survival, how would they do it? Given that the US Government is likely to share any intelligence indicators of a strike with Iran, Israel will have to proceed under an unprecedented cloak of secrecy. But at this point, their very least worst option for the long term survival of Israel and its people may well be to nuke Iran.

This is one consequence of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for lofty intentions, standing alone.

Not Everyone Should Carry a Gun

queens_subway_piranhaConsider, for instance, this lady:

A woman pushed, scratched and bit a subway rider who tried to sit in a seat that had her bag on it, according to police.

The alleged subway rage occurred aboard a Manhattan-bound F train from Queens last Friday at about 9:45 a.m.

The 45-year-old victim asked a woman to move her bag so she could sit down. When the woman ignored her, the victim attempted to sit down anyway.

That’s when police say the seated women flew into a rage. They say she scratched the other rider on the chest, pulled her hair and bit her forearm, causing bleeding.

The suspect fled when the train stopped at the 21st Street and Queensbridge station in Long Island City.

via NYPD: Subway rider asked to move bag bites another passenger – Story | WNYW.

Stop and think about this for a minute. This creature flew into a scratching, biting rage over not getting a seat to herself and one for her precious bag, which is probably full of pilfered handi-wipes from cheap restaurants, not to mention a bottle of the anger-management meds she’s clearly gone off.

Maybe she saw “Queens” on the subway line and thought it was a promotion for her, not an indication of the borough that’s at one end of the line.

Anyway, some people should not have guns. This includes the mentally ill, the intemperate, those lacking impulse control, and anyone who sucks up to bosses and treats peers and subordinates like crap — i.e., every reporter in the media, which explains why they’re foursquare for gun control.

Come to think of it, where do you think the Queens Subway Piranha works?

  1. Some downtown print or broadcast media firm;
  2. Aide of some kind to a politician;
  3. At some high-minded nonprofit;
  4. Works? Bwahahahahaaa. She collects. 

Correction /Update on the French Train Attack

As is usually the case, the initial media reports were incomplete and incorrect. Today, we have more details on the incident. Rather than a counterattack by US Marines, it was a self-organized “pack, not a herd” of young men that disarmed and disabled the attacker, a known Islamic fundamentalist named Ayoub el-Qahzzani, 26.  (Sounds close enough to Ala-kazam! to us).

three train heroes

L-R: Anthony Sadler, Aleck Skarlatos, and Chris Norman show off medals they received from Mayor of Arras, France, Frederic Leturque. Note bruise on Sadler’s nose and blood on Norman’s shirt. Spencer Stone was in hospital.

  • The four men were three young friends: Spencer Stone, an Air Force airman on leave; Alek Skarlatos, a National Guard soldier on vacation; and non-vet Tony Sadler; plus a middle-aged British man Chris Norman, who lives in France and is identified as an “IT Consultant.”
  • They disarmed ala-Kazam! and beat the snot out of him; that part of previous reports is correct.
  • He was yelling at them, “Give me back my gun! Give me back my gun!” But as Sadler put it, “We just carried on beating him up.” Good call, kid.
  • Ala-Kazam! was a member of a former terrorist cell that was rolled up before it could attack in Brussels. He was on the radar of Belgian, French and Spanish counterterrorist police.
  • Ala-Kazam! was prepared with a cover story. His cover story is that:
    1. No, he’s not an Islamist or terrorist…
    2. He was just planning a robbery!
    3. Gun? What gun? Oh, that gun. He found it under a bush in a park in Brusells.
Spencer Stone, 22, was injured in the fight, as were two passengers. This is his USAF basic picture.

Spencer Stone, 22, was injured in the fight, as were two passengers. This is his USAF basic picture. He recognized the sound of an AK being loaded, and charged the gunman when he came out of the restroom.

The cover story is amateurish, but it will be believed by those who want to believe. Already French officialdom is trying to minimize any terrorist or Islamist motive,  and certain elements of the press are going with the “how do you know it’s Islamic,” or the good old “root causes” search. In 5-4-3-2-1 expect editorials about the importance of avoiding “anti-islamic backlash,” and expect these heroes’ faces to be crowded off TV by the terrorist apologists of CAIR.

As more details emerge, they get more remarkable. Anthony Sadler’s dad, also named Tony Sadler, a soft-spoken guy who seems to just radiate good will and decency, remarked that he expected his son to learn something on his trip and then he goes…

… and seems to become France’s national hero — I’m told he might even meet the President of France. Still wrapping my head around that.

French President Hollande would probably be honored to meet these guys, actually. Any leader can always make time for good news and praiseworthy countrymen, or in this case, tourists.

Skarlatos's pre-deployment picture. He, Stone and Sadler were friends sightseeing Europe after his Afghan tour.

Skarlatos’s pre-deployment picture. He, Stone and Sadler were friends sightseeing Europe after his Afghan tour. He shouted, “Spencer, GO!” and followed his friend against the Arab terrorist.

Skarlatos, whose first name is variously spelled Alec, Alek, and Aleck in news reports, is confirmed to be a member of the Oregon Army National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team and an Afghanistan veteran. Oregon Guard spokesman Major Stephen Bomar said:

It’s fantastic that no matter who it was, someone stepped up to stop such a horrific event. We’re absolutely proud that it happened to be someone from the Oregon Army National Guard

Frankly, this is the best possible outcome. None of the victims will die; the terrorist has failed. Moreover, despite being armed with an AK and a basic load of ammunition, and having possibly received training in Syria, he was beaten up by an international group of civilians and off-duty troops including a part-time soldier, an Air Force junior enlisted guy, and two pure civilians, one of them old enough to be his father, from a profession (IT) noted as a refuge of nerds and the non-physical.

It was, in fact, fully in the spirit of the heroes of United 93, but with a much better outcome, and it illustrates one of the weaknesses of ISIL’s and al-Qaeda’s current epidemic-of-lone-wolves strategy: as Kipling wrote, “the strength of the wolf is the pack,” and they’re finding out that when they show up without the pack, they misclassified their targets. Not sheep at all, but able to spontaneously organize a counter-wolfpack.

Finally, Ala-Kazam! is lucky he’s just in jail, not in Hell. On a video shot by another passenger, the Americans are heard fully in charge of the situation:

US voice 1: Dude, I tried to shoot him.

US voice 2 (amused): He did!

Apparently, Ala-Kazam!’s gun had an ala-ka-jam. He may have had a handgun, also.

US voice 1: You’re also missing the handgun.

Euro voice (maybe Chris Norman?): The handgun is missing.

US Voice 2: Can we just look under chairs, and shit?

At that point, the audio on the video becomes a multilingual discussion of the search for the missing pistol.


  • El País (Spain; Spanish language): El autor del atentado contra el tren Ámsterdam- París vivió en Algeciras. (The perpetrator of the attack on the Amsterdam-Paris train lived in Algeciras). It also identifies his weapons as an AK with nine magazines and a 9mm “Lugger” with one magazine. Oh, here’s an English translation where they spell Luger right. Pity, a Luger wasted on a bum like this. The stories contain some details on ala-Kazam!’s pre-beatdown life; for all his extreme Islam, he’d done time for dope dealing.

That’s it for now or we’ll never go live with the post!

PS: it would have been nice if the gal in the platform shoes had been one of the beaters, but apparently she’s one of the French cops. In the French media, the police spokesman telling this story of failed jihad with evident relish was by appearance and name a Frenchman of Arab heritage (as was one of the victims in the small arms attack).