Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Fake Firearms in the Versatile, Antifragile Criminal Armory

This was sold at auction as Dillinger's escape gun for $19,000+ some years ago.

This was sold at auction as Dillinger’s escape gun (for $19,000+) some years ago. It is one of three claimants to the title!

There’s a famous story about bank robber and all-round bad guy John Dillinger. Locked up, he carved a gun from a bar of soap (or a piece of wood) and used it to bluff his way out of jail in Crown Point, Indiana, returning to his previous life of crime (with real guns, naturally) until he was set up and shot dead by good men with guns.

It’s almost as if the firearm has no moral agency of its own, but takes on the purpose of the man wielding it, eh? But we digress.

The Dillinger story was always denied by the guards on duty, who swore that the gangster had a real gun. Given the usual human levels of ingenuity (on the one hand) and cupidity (on the other), it wouldn’t have been the first time a gun found its way into jail — or the last. As long as prisons have human guards, convicts will bribe or blackmail their way out, and contraband of all kinds will flow in; control measures are never fully effective. But the Dillinger story, if you take it at face value, illustrates something else: when criminals can’t get guns, they’ll use substitutes.

We’re unaware of more recent data, but a comprehensive study in the 1980s found that a significant percentage of violent crime is committed with phony firearms already (emphasis ours).

Between January 1, 1985 and September 1, 1989, 458 police departments (65.5% of the study population) reported 5,654 robberies known to be committed with an imitation gun. Robbery investigators interviewed estimated that, on an average, 15% of all robberies were committed with imitation guns.

In the same time period, police departments reported 8,128 known assaults with imitation guns.

One hundred eighty-six police departments reported 1,128 incidents where an officer warned or threatened to use force and 252 cases where actual force had been used based on the belief that an imitation gun was real1.

This is reiterated elsewhere in the report:

A somewhat curious occurrence has been the use of imitation guns in robberies. The data on these crimes indicate that this occurs more frequently than one may generally assume. For example, in Houston, a review of reports indicates that on the average at least two robberies a month are known to have been committed with an imitation gun, with the actual number of imitation gun robberies assumed to be higher. A robbery investigator in King County, Washington estimated that 10%-15% of the approximate 200 robberies he investigates each year were committed with imitation guns2.

Results from the survey show that robberies by imitation guns are occurring on a daily basis in the United States (see Table 1/Figure 5)3.

Despite the survey findings, the researchers infer, based on what was learned during the site visits, that more robberies are committed with imitation guns than the data show. On an average, robbery investIgators consIstently estimated around 15% of the robberies were committed with guns that were toys, pneumatic, replicas, or starter’s pistols4.

And reinforced:

Newark robbery Detective Barry Colicelli, who is also President of the New Jersey Robbery Investigators’ Association (NJRIA), has been tracking rob- committed by toy guns sznce 1984. Detective Colicelli and his NJRIA colleagues con- cluded that at least 15%-20% of their robberies are committed with imitation guns5.

This phenomenon has led many jurisdictions to ban deactivated, replica, and even toy guns, and has led to laws requiring replica guns to have bright noses, like the (we are not making this up) Federal Energy Management Improvement Act of 19886.

The orange-nose law has been worthless. Officers can’t trust that a flash of orange isn’t just a glimpse of a sight insert, or a Krylon rattle-can job by a criminal on his real gun. And criminals seeking to intimidate with a toy gun are only a can of Krylon away from a realistic “weapon.”

The various Beltway J.D.s and M.B.A.s who worked on the study were entirely taken aback by that. Most of them apparently consider the pinnacle of manual dexterity to be flushing your own toilet instead of leaving it for one of the servants to do. It never occurred to them that someone could simply spray paint the gun, as testers would discover:

They taped half of each weapon with masking tape in order to compare the painted side with the manufactured sIde. The researcher’s six-year-old son was given black spray paint and told to “paint the gun.” …The appearance of both toys was dramatIc wIth the painted side making the guns look real even in daylight conditions7.

Who would have imagined that?

We came across this study while wondering about the strange case from last year in Palestine, Texas that we recently discussed here. In that case, a thief pulled a fake gun on cops, collecting a dead body full of bullets as his reward. That seems irrational, but the 1980s study reported many more instances.  For example:

tamir rice toy gun

This convincing-looking plastic toy was wielded by the late Tamir Rice in Cleveland, another story that’s been in the news in the last year.

In response to a call in midafternoon they observed a man in his mid-twenties with a gun in the parking lot outside one o f the housing areas. The officers pulled their patrol car near the man, got out and ordered the man to drop the gun. The man just stood there and looked at them. The officers ordered-almost pleaded-with the man to drop the gun. Suddenly, the man raised the gun, lunged toward them, and screamed. Both officers immediately fired.

As the officers approached the downed man, a person came running out of one of the apartments shouting, “He’s mentally retarded, the gun’s a toy, the gun’s a toy.” It was determined that a shot from the female officer’s gun struck the man in the head killing him immediately. She remains on psychological disability leave and will most likely not be able to return to duty. The male officer returned to duty after about ter [sic] days. On the first day he returned to duty he responded to a “man with a gun” and probable assault call — it turned out to be a juvenile with a replica gun8.


The officers were frisking a man when a woman walked up and told them that the man did not have any drugs. At that point the woman pulled out what appeared to be a chrome-finished semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at a female officer. Another officer, who was standing within five to ten feet told, the woman to drop the gun. She did not move the weapon and the officer shot her. It was later determined the gun was a metal toy9.


One deputy, armed with a shotgun, looked around a corner and saw a person approaching with a weapon in hand that appeared to be a “Desert Eagle” automatic pistol. As the man approached, the officer yelled and ordered the man to drop the gun. Instead, the man turned, assumed a shooting position, and appeared to fire at the officer. The deputy fired the shotgun, spinning the man around. The man turned back in a shooting position again and the deputy fired a second shotgun round, killing the man. As the officer approached the downed man, he kicked the gun out of his hand and “heard the sound of plastic.” At that point the deputy learned the gun was a toy and that the man had been playing “Laser Tag.” Because of the psychological trauma of this incident, the deputy, a seven-year veteran with a good service record, remains on disability leave and will probably not be able to return to duty. In addition, two trained reserve deputies who responded to the call at the school, resigned their commissions as a direct result of the trauma of this incident10.

There are more examples, if you care to Read The Whole Thing™.

The last case above seems to be caused by the tag-players thinking the cops were more players. But other cases, where fake-gun-armed criminals take on cops with real guns in a forlorn hope version of quick-draw, are no less tragic but rather more puzzling.

It turns out that there’s even a psychological (or, perhaps, pop-psychology) explanation of sorts for that kind of irrational behavior by faux-gun “armed” criminals.

Robbers appear to have some form of psychological dIsplacement about the realism of a toy gun. is if the gun is similar. to a real weapon, the seeJ?s to adopt a feehng of power and manipulation as If the gun is real. This gives the thief more confidence him/her to control the robbery more firmly despIte the fact the gun is an imitation11

This convincing looking Beretta was used by a South African robber last year. When cops ordered him to drop it, he pointed it at them! He survived his wounds to see his day in court.

This convincing looking Beretta was used by a South African robber last year. When cops ordered him to drop it, he pointed it at them! He survived his wounds to see his day in court.

Well, that’s fine and good until Deputy or Officer Friendly centerpunches you with a fine collection of jacketed hollow points.

Of course, since crime is an irrational career at every level, perhaps we’re wasting our time trying to understand one particular irrational decision in a criminal’s life of irrational decisions.

The study does suggest two circumstances under which using a phony gun is a rational decision for a criminal (neither of these being “in a gunfight with police,” naturally). Those are:

First, the thief believes that use of an imitation gun may mitigate punishment if he/she is captured and charged with the crime12.

As bizarre as it sounds, this is actually true in some jurisdictions. In others, the criminal is simply mistaken in this belief. And…

The reason a robber may use a toy is because the thief, for some reason, cannot obtain a real gun13.

That an individual unable to obtain a desired item would select a substitute item is what got Captain Obvious his Nobel Prize in Economics, but it apparenly was a real epiphany to Beltway JDs, PhDs, etc., in 1990… and probably would be today, again.

Criminals have displayed remarkable ingenuity at routing around gun restrictions like the Internet routes around damage (or censorship). This makes sense when you realize that they are highly motivated to arm themselves, producing a sort of distributed criminal quartermaster function that is highly antifragile and resistant to disruption by conventional and even extreme law enforcement attack.


  1. Carter et al.Toy Guns: Involvement in Crime and Encounters with Police. pp. vii-ix.
  2. Carter et al., op.cit. p. 27.
  3. Carter et al., op.cit. p. 28.
  4. Carter et al., op.cit. p. 28.
  5. Carter et al., op.cit. p. 28 sidebar.
  6. codified at 15 CFR §1150.
  7. Carter et al., op. cit. p. 38.
  8. Carter et al.op. cit. p. xi sidebar.
  9. Carter et al.op. cit. p. 7.
  10. Carter et al.op. cit. p. 8.
  11. Carter et al.op. cit. p. 28.
  12. Carter et al.op. cit. p. 27.
  13. Carter et al.op. cit. p. 28.


Carter, David L., Sapp, Allen D., and Stephens, Darrell W.. Toy Guns: Involvement in Crime and Encounters with Police. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum, 1990. Retrieved from:


There’s a Non-Obvious Fact in this Gunfight Video

When we first saw this video — it was emailed to us recently — we thought there were some interesting lessons here. But we wanted to find the source, which turned out to be the Palestine, Texas, PD, and the circumstances. It turned out there were more lessons than we thought there were. First, the video of this 31 May 2015 shooting, as posted by the Palestine Herald on YouTube:

First, big kudos to Palestine PD for the transparency. These were our initial thoughts:

  • The male officer (who turns out to be Sergeant Gabriel Green) was pretty impressive. He was blunt but correct with the suspect in the rest room, and quick and accurate with his pistol when he had to be. He got a decent grip and shot two handed. The suspect, despite drawing first, never got off a shot.
  • We thought Sergeant Green’s first shot was pulled down and left, but then he was dead (no pun intended) on target.
  • He stopped shooting as soon as the suspect released his handgun. We rewound and rewatched several times to be sure.
  • He was calm, and his voice was in the normal register after shooting, and his breathing was only slightly elevated. This guy is cool under pressure. Wonder if he’s a vet?
  • The other officer (who turns out to be Officer Kaylynn Griffin) does not appear to have fired. Her voice does not indicate coolness under pressure.
  • The behavior of the suspect (who turns out to have been James D. Bushey) is inexplicable. If he’s going to pull on two cops, why didn’t he shoot? His only chance of escape at that point would have been to shoot the two cops dead, which would certainly have complicated his life, but that’s the only way he “succeeds” at resisting arrest at this juncture. So… why didn’t he shoot? And if he wasn’t going to kill the cops, why draw in the first place? As it turns out, there’s an answer to “why didn’t he shoot” but “why draw in the first place” gets more and more inexplicable.

Let’s go to local station KLTV for the story.

The body camera footage shows Sergeant Gabriel Green and Officer Kaylynn Griffin entering the Applebee’s restaurant, looking for a suspect that has been described to them as a male wearing a black t-shirt, a black cap and tan shorts.

The officers located Bushey in the men’s restroom and Sgt. Green waited for Bushey to finish washing his hands.

In the released video, Bushey asks Sgt. Green,  “What do you need?”

Green responds, “You’re a suspect in reference to a theft case. I need you to step out please.”

When Bushey does not respond, Green says, “Don’t act dumb, come on and step out, you’re on video, ok?”

Griffin then joined Green and Bushey in the restroom, and both officers are shown leading Bushey through the restaurant.

As the three exit the building, Officer Griffin asks Bushey for his identification.

via Palestine police release video of officer-involved shooting at r – – Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News.

We saw all that in the video….

And then it was on. In the blink of an eye, Bushey pulls, Griffin screams, Green draws, and Bushey runs a few feet then turns back, pointing his gun at Green. Green fires, four shots, five shots, three shots, and Bushey rolls, leaving the gun behind, DRT; Green checks fire. Green covers Bushey and Griffin does too, scratching the gun away from the motionless suspect.

That’s probably the first chance anyone had to notice that there was something wrong with the suspect’s gun. In fact, it was a toy, a gun that resembles a real one, but shoots pellets.

Why anyone would pull a non-gun on cops armed with real guns puts the inexplicable into afterburner. And Bushey not only did that, but turned back towards Green with what we now know was not a gun.

Was it suicide by cop? We’ll never know what went through Bushey’s mind before a bunch of Green’s bullets went through his body, but it’s possible. His brother said… stop us if you’ve heard this one before… “he was trying to turn his life around” after moving home from New Hampshire after the collapse of a marriage.

There’s one more tragic fact here: John Dillinger this suspect was not. The original larceny call came from Walmart store security: Bushey had taken beer and some other stuff, and walked out without paying. They saw him hide in the Applebee’s rest room, and directed the cops in there — where the video begins.

After a brief period of paid admin leave, during which the Texas Rangers investigated the shooting, the two officers were cleared. The shooting declared righteous (if tragic), and two more cops’ names were inscribed on the long list of those exonerated by cameras. And James Bushey’s family buried him and grieved in private. His brother, who politely declined a reporter’s invitation to blame the officers, said that James had been a great brother, but, unlike some other family members, didn’t incite any riots. There are a lot of questions here that won’t ever be answered.

Watch the video again. This is how fast those cop’s workday goes from routine to deadly. And tell us — did you have any idea the suspect’s gun was not real? We watched the video fullscreen on a retina display, and had no idea. And we like to think we know a thing or two about guns.

Vision, Perception, Combat, and Court

bike in car prang 1At Popular Mechanics, Jack Baruth writes a little about what research has determined about cognitive perception of the visual field, and its application to motorbike riding.

Alright. Let’s take a typical case. A driver is preparing to turn left from a side road onto a main road. There’s a GSXR-1000 flying down that main road because what’s the point of having something that fast if you don’t wind it out, right? So our driver looks left and doesn’t see the Gixxer because it’s pretty far away. He looks right. Now he looks left again. The bike is much closer, almost on him, but because he didn’t see it last time—and this is important—his brain simply discards the Gixxer as a result of his brain not expecting to see it. His brain is already busy doing this discarding for everything from his blind spot to various floaters in his vision to his own eyelashes. What’s the harm in adding just one more object?

So the driver pulls out and BAM it’s a GSXR-1000 in the door and at least one person who will wind up either dead or crippled. And the driver will tell the cop, “I didn’t see him.” And the cop will chalk it up to the Suzuki simply moving too quickly or to the driver being inattentive. But there truly is that third possibility: The driver looked right at the Suzuki but failed to truly “see” him.

via ​Why You Don’t ‘See’ Motorcycles on the Road.

The ultima causa of this problem is that a processing and visual cortex that evolved for protecting arboreal apes from predators (and other risks that moved at the speed of animal muscle or near-surface gravity) is insufficient to deal with threats that are orders of magnitude faster. To some extent you can “train” the mind to expect the unexpected, but we’re limited by the physiology and wetware that’s in place.

bike in car prang 2We’ve seen the same perceptual misrecognition in aviation safety for decades; planes take off on runways where other planes still are sitting, land on top of other planes, take off on closed runways that are full of repaving machinery, take off or land on taxiways. Planes land at the wrong airport. Pilots misconfigure fuel feeds and pump all their Jet A overboard. And after each of these attacks, the pilots (if they survive) are ready to swear on a stack of Bibles that they didn’t see nothin’. And, like Jack’s ill-starred driver who intercepted the even-more-ill-stared Suzuki jockey, they’re telling the truth. At least, about what they perceived.

It was their own perception that lied to them, presenting a false truth at variance with the actual facts in the physical world.

This has applicability both in combat and in court.

In combat, aces like Oswald Boelcke and the Red Baron noted that most of their prey never knew the victor was there. They literally didn’t see even the great ace, who often flew an airplane that was solid or largely red, even as he crept up and killed them. Ground combat ambush survivors (a rare thing) also note, frequently, that they never saw it coming. Often a soldier is focused on the threat ahead of him when the threat to his side, the unseen threat that punches his ticket.

It’s not just soldiers this happens to. It happens to police officers. And it happens to concealed carriers.

In June, 2014, Joseph R. Wilcox was returning a modem to WalMart after troubleshooting his mom’s internet service — the problem was the internet provider’s and so he didn’t need the replacement device he’s bought “just in case” — when he witnessed Jerad Miller fire a shot in the air and scream a call for “revolution.” Wilcox, 31, was legally armed and a man who believed he was his brother’s keeper. He was also missing two vital pieces of information that may have altered what he did next:

  1. Miller was not alone, but accompanied by his wife, Amanda; and,
  2. Jerad and Amanda Miller had just murdered two Las Vegas Metro PD officers, Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, execution-style, at an adjacent CeCi’s Pizza buffet, and had taken the cops’ guns. Their objective, as stated to a neighbor who was used to hyperbole from the pair, was to find and murder as many cops as possible.

Wilcox confronted Jerad Miller and demanded he drop his gun. Amanda Miller, behind Wilcox, shot Wilcox in the head, killing him instantly.

A few minutes later police arrived, summoned by multiple 9/11 calls from WalMart and CeCi’s. Jerad Miller was killed by police gunfire, and Amanda Miller, untouched by police gunfire, immediately killed herself with one of the firearms. No other cops, and no peaceable citizens apart from Wilcox, were shot or killed.

Jerad Miller was, by the way, a prohibited person with a long criminal record. The couple were seemingly unbalanced; to the extent they had a cause, it seems to have been anti-government, anti-police and white racist in orientation; they were a negative image of the criminals whose deaths feed the Black Lives Matter movement.

The couple had attended the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch but had been sent away because of their radicalism and Jerad Miller’s criminal history.

Wilcox made several errors that are clear in retrospect but would not have been evident to him. The first is that he exposed himself without knowing the scope of the threat; the second is that he exposed himself at all.

He may have believed that he had to act, based on Jerad Miller having already discharged a firearm. In that case, he was arguably better advised to:

  1. wait to see what develops; or,
  2. seek cover and move quickly there (moving targets are hard to hit); or,
  3. position against a wall or in a corner where he could not be flanked; or,
  4. engage Jerad Miller. Let your shot be your introduction, or tell him “drop the gun” and instantly shoot. (He has already shown he’s outside the law and dangerous by firing the gun).

Of course, Wilcox chose what was behind Door #5, challenge the shooter.

In retrospect, again, the safest actions are probably #1 and #2, although #3 is safe enough if you can do it discreetly. The principal difference between #1 and #2 is that in the first case, you are waiting to see how the situation develops, and in the second, you are developing the situation. The second is what a combat-savvy cop or SOF operator would probably do, but it’s important to remember that as a licensed concealed carrier you can defend yourself and others but you are not a cop, and you are not a commando. (That’s true even if you were a cop or commando before you retired). 

Your focus needs to be your own safety first, then the safety of your family, then the safety of other innocents on the scene, and you have to enforce inflexibly that hierarchy. For a soldier, that’s a reverse of the aphorism, “Mission, Men and Me” that describes the sworn warrior’s priorities. For a cop, likewise. For all the talk about how Job 1 in police work is getting home at the end of the shift, every single man and woman with a badge knows that, in the ethos of samurai Japan, “Death is lighter than a feather, but Duty is heavier than a mountain.”

It was noble of Wilcox to step in, and it’s impossible to say if his disruption of the Miller’s plans — in their apartment, authorities found a detailed if fanciful plan for seizing a courthouse and murdering the judges, cops and court officials they found there — if this disruption saved lives and delayed whatever the two murderers were planning next. We can’t say. We just know what did happen.

And we’re reminded that, like Jack Baruth’s motorcyclist and motorist, and most of the hundred or so men who perished at the hands of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, it’s the one you don’t see that gets you. (Richthofen himself may have been slain by Australian ground fire as a Canadian ace pursued him over the lines — historians have never conclusively closed the case. It is at least arguable that he, too, fell to a threat he did not see).

So — how do you defend against a threat you can not see?

You have to see the threat in your mind’s eye before it manifests. What is unexpected may go unseen. What is expected may not.

motorcycle crash

On the street, look for motorcycles. And, confronted by a threat with a gun, look for accomplices before you uncloak yourself. 


Incompetence Taints Everything, Even Corruption, in Afghanistan

sigar-map-small-2015-06Ah, Afghanistan. Let’s start by talking about guns. As in, where are they? We seem to recall we discussed this issue back in 2014 when it came up, but we have been reflagged to the original story, and have, perhaps, some new angles on it.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post reported back in 2014 that nearly half of Afghanistan’s US-provided small arms might be missing. His headline, which TG-N almost certainly didn’t write (because that’s the job of layers and layers of editors), reads: “Afghanistan may have lost track of more than 200,000 weapons,” and it’s pretty truthy, while being at once both not entirely supported by data and an understatement of just how screwed up Afghan logistics really is.

Shot: We’ve Bungled Our Count of Afghan Guns

In 2010, the Afghan Government decided to get away from maintaining both the familiar 1940s-60s Soviet weapons common in Afghanistan (AK, PK, etc.) and standardize on NATO-caliber guns1. They get the weapons of both types “free” from the US Taxpayer.

The US, having deployed our own heavy-browed Army and contractor logistics personnel, built for the Afghans two computer systems, systems that characteristically do not talk to one another and that contain different, overlapping, and contradictory data. Gibbons-Neff:

The first system, the Security Cooperation Information Portal (SCIP), is used by the Department of Defense to track the shipment of weapons from the United States to the ANSF. The second system, Operation Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database (OVERLORD), tracks the receipt of the weapons in Afghanistan.

Both SCIP and OVERLORD require manual data entry and are not linked together, so when SIGAR reviewed both systems, it found that some weapon serial numbers were not only duplicated, but were incomplete or did not match each another. Both OVERLORD and SCIP contained more than 50,000 serial numbers with no shipping or receiving dates.

OVERLORD, lord (overlord?) love a duck. If you’ve spent any time dealing with either iniquitous Afghans or imbecilic supply clerks, two systems that do not talk to each other, both containing different sets of bad data, will not shock you. You’re going to want to Read The Whole Thing™, and we haven’t even really got going on it yet.

How do you know the loading-dock at the J4 shop is level? They’re drooling out both sides of their mouths. Remember, up to now these screwups are 100% all-American in nature. It’s not that the Afghans have lost these guns — yet. It’s that the US DOD lost track of these guns between US and Afghan databases. Moreover, the Afghans have a different, third gun-tracking computer system, CORE-IMS, and it is not just non-interoperable with, but also even more inaccurate than the two American systems.


However, the concern over duplicate serial numbers (which is how we know we’ve addressed this before, we remember this) is probably bogus, as they’re duplicate serials of different weapons. Case in point:


No, having an AK and an RPG-7 with the same serial number is not a problem. It’s just the way the world works. You know, there are Lugers and Glocks with the same serial number, too. You want to hear a real mind-blower? It’s possible to have two exact-same-model firearms with the same serial number — if they were made by different manufacturers.

It makes you wonder whether SIGAR and the Washington Post have anyone with any knowledge of weapons serialization, or anybody in their Rolodex who does.

Chaser: So Have the Afghans

But hey, that’s just some messed up data entry, innit? It’s not like the guns are missing, are they? (Well, with data like those, who knows?)

As well as inspecting the records of SCIP and OVERLORD, SIGAR audited the book-keeping of a number of Afghan supply depots.

How do you think they did? We won’t spoil it for you, but we bet you can guess. (Tom highlights some of the more glaring findings in his report).

SIGAR is the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, a DOD agency which documents the mis-, mal- and non-feasance of American efforts in Afghanistan. (It would document the successes as well… if there were any). We’ve featured some of their stuff here before — our favorite was the brand new cargo planes that were sold for scrap aluminum because of American and Afghan greed and short-sightedness.

Hangover: Now the Americans are Corrupted, Too

You can read the whole SIGAR report on the case of the maybe-missing firearms. But we’ll lay out the bottom line: nobody knows what’s where. So at once, it’s not as bad as Tom’s alarm about 200k missing weapons (surely some subset of them are just out of place, or recorded badly); and it’s worse, because there can really be no confidence that any of these firearms has a physical existence somewhere in an Afghan arms room or in the hands of an Afghan jundi. Not unless you put trusted eyes on it, and check off its data, and doing a 100% by-serial inventory, while the gold standard for accountability, is difficult amidst a messy war. Consequently, confusion reigns.

And when confusion reigns, corruption rises. A few other SIGAR findings:

We could go on and on. SIGAR certainly does; there were several more incidents dated 29 Sep 15 but we’ve gone back far enough. But one conclusion is inescapable: the Afghan way of doing business, combined with our baroque logistic accountability practices, have caused a non-null subset of our logisticians to adopt Afghan business practices.

And the subset of corrupted Americans you’re seeing on that laundry list above? Those are the ones who got caught. The rest of them are still managing logistics.

This’ll end well.


  1. Gibbons-Neff’s article contains the statement that the Afghans generated the desire to convert to NATO small arms. That is not a fault in Tom’s reporting, although it’s probably not correct; he took the assertion directly from the SIGAR report. A document from the US Command in Afghanistan, sent in reply to another SIGAR communication, (.pdf) tells a different story:

…non-Western sourcing has posed significant challenges for U.S. sustainment in terms of maintenance and repair parts. Additionally, as Russian-origin small arms are widely employed by the Taliban and other opponents of the state, a robust informal support network exists for ammunition and repair, consequently, small arms lost in combat are of immediate and enduring use to the enemy.

Note that CSTC-A (the American honcho’s acronym du jour) maintains the polite fiction that ANSF weapons reaching Taliban, HIG, Haqqani, etc., are “combat losses.” There’s no data on the percentage of loss that’s combat loss versus inventory shrinkage, but we know where we’d place a bet. Anyway, back to the document in progress:

Subsequently, CSTC-A assessed that a conversion to NATO-standard small arms would make the ANP more operationally effective through better mission capable rates, denying a potential source of supply to the enemy, and in the long-term cost savings to the U.S. government by fielding a weapon which can be sustained from U.S. stock {including efficient and cost-·effective NATO-standard 5.56mm ammunition procurement through established US/NATO production/supply lines).

Ergo, the provision of NATO-spec weapons (the specific contract under discussion was an increment of a total of 157,000 M16A4s going to the ANP) was not an Afghan, but a US measure. It seems probably that Gibbons-Neff’s source or sources misled him on this.

They do say the Afghans are on board with the decision, and make the curious assertion that providing surplus M16s from US stocks would cost more than new procurement. (If that’s true, it’s another indictment of American military logistics).


At the Fudd Range, Thinking About Safety

target manSo we have two ranges we go to, the Nice Indoor Range we travel about an hour to each way, and the Fudd River Fish & Game Club that’s a few minutes’ drive or bike ride away. Both are highly limited: 100 yard max, and strict safety rules. However, Nice Indoor Range’s rules are sensible and reasonable, and pretty much standard nationwide.

We didn’t get a notification our Fudd River dues were due, and didn’t have a tickler set, so we let our membership lapse. Oops. After some time banished to the Limbo of the waiting list, we got notified it was time to come to Range Orientation. We were not enthusiastic, having been through the drill twice before, but the convenience of a range in easy bike range of the Manor won out, so we presented us for Phase I (yes, there are phases) of Range Orientation.

Phase I went like this:

  • A 20-30 minute video on range rules and procedures. Also available on YouTube! This actually was pretty well done; they guy speaking doesn’t hem and haw and lose his place, you’d think he had a script. (He doesn’t. We asked).
  • Then, you sit through the membership meeting where they try to assign you to a committee.  This batch of newbies (many of whom were fellow retreads) kept their heads down but we’ll all wind up doing something to support the club.
  • Then, the discussion of the club’s annual charity event. The chairman of this committee has many charms, but he’s, shall we say, rather prolix. What could have been a fact-packed ten minutes was a confusing half-hour, plus two restarts (“And oh, I forgot to mention that…).
  • Each newbie/retread introduced himself. We all mastered brevity, thanks to the examples we had been set.
  • Then, the meeting adjourned and the second part of Phase I began.
  • We then read the rules. Which is to say, a club officer read the pages of rules to us. One by one. Aloud. With asides, and notes, and an explanation of why that particular rule was in place (the two most frequently-occurring reasons are “the insurer insists” and “you wouldn’t believe this, but this idiot last year…”).
  • We then signed and initialed the rules pages.
  • Everyone shook hands and was welcomed to membership. Congratulations, Phase I is complete. You can return for Phase II on Sunday morning.

It was now 10:20 PM. We had started on time at 7:30 PM, and thus had spent three hours, primarily on range rules, at a mind-numbing pace.

On Sunday, we’ll present at the range and then — we are not making this up — walk through the procedures at the range and the rules. One. By. One. Budget three more hours.

This is frustrating, and annoying, but the club falls back on two justifications: the insurers require it; and/or, some idiot needs to be told.

And they may have a point. In the last 12 months, they have had to dismiss three idiots from the club, who did everything from handling firearms while the range was cold and others were setting targets, to sweeping others on the firing line, to deliberately firing low and ricocheting over the berms.

A few years ago, they actually had someone open up at the 50-yard berm on the left while two guys were setting targets at the 100-yard berm on the right. That’s when they put in the system of red lights that are switched on when the line is cold.

After talking to the range committee officers at some length, the general level of firearms safety in the gen pop of the Fudd Range is not where you want it to be. So their answer is a series of highly restrictive rules, combined with ruthlessly dropping those members who still can’t follow them. And it’s working; the insurance rates are holding and none of the NDs and careless shots that have gotten various guys expelled have required a 911 call.

And what’s interesting is the people who blow off safety seem to have nothing else in common. They’re hunters, or cops, or tactical tommies, or plinkers; they usually have some firearms experience, and often have a great deal of experience, but have grown complacent.

The rules are not that onerous. (To use the range for qualification requiring movement and firing, any PD can rent and close it for a half day or day for short money). Yes, some of them are silly. You must wear ear pro, eye pro… and a hat. Why a hat? Insurers say that. Why do insurers say that? What purpose does the hat serve? Don’t ask why — that way lies madness. Just throw an extra hat in your range bag.

Some of the local PDs have not been happy to have had officers of theirs banned from the range (as a courtesy, the range is open to all local PDs and all their sworn officers, if they follow the rules). Stop and think about that for a minute. Chief Wiggins isn’t concerned that his copper Officer Thumbs broke an ND into the overhead of the firing line; he’s concerned that Thumbs is now persona non grata on the range.

Thumbs is still out there, protecting us all as haphazardly as ever, but at least we’re not going to find him on this range. Is that worth six hours of everybody’s time?

Is it like we have a choice?

Overpressure Failure in a Colt M4

Here’s what looks like an overpressure failure in a Colt 16″ M4 6920 Carbine. Owner is active duty USAF, carbine is a personally owned weapon. Er… was a personally owned weapon.

Overpressure M4

The shooter was lightly injured by shrapnel that used to be the upper receiver. He will recover. The firearm, on the other hand, is a total loss.

Overpressure M4 in case

It’s actually worse than it looks in the picture above, or in the next one. That’s because the pictures are two-dimensional, and the damage is three-dimensional.

Overpressure M4 immediately

The bolt carrier is split through the stress-concentrating central holes, and the carrier key released, with its two staked bolts still staked in place, but holding to nothing.

Overpressure M4 bolt carrier initial

Here is the view from the proximal side, looking distal:

Overpressure M4 bolt carrier

This also shows damage (albeit minor, at this end) to the forged aluminum charging handle.

Vice versa, distal looking proximal:

Overpressure M4 bolt carrier underside

The bolt carrier key:

Overpressure M4 bolt carrier key

The bolt is seized in the barrel extension and is probably distorted (these are strong parts of heat-treated Carpenter 158 steel). The bolt cam pin may be distorted, but did come out (the firing pin remained in position when the bolt carrier split, even though the firing pin retaining pin was pulled out of place with the left side of the bolt carrier). The cam pin and firing pin can be seen in place in the third picture from the top.

Overpressure M4 breech area

The gas check rings are distorted, probably by the violence of the bolt carrier’s departure. The extractor is broken free of the extractor pin, although it too appears seized in the barrel extension.

Overpressure M4 from behindThe upper receiver is shattered into three major parts (left, which was blown clear; right side, still tenuously attached in the initial pictures, but removed in the picture above; and the receiver ring and pivot pin bosses which miraculously held together with the lower).

The parts show characteristic signs of overload failure, and the lower receiver is distorted (bulged) in the region of the magazine well.

The immediate cause was overpressure. Possible contributory causes that produced the overpressure:

  1. .300 Blackout in the 5.56mm chamber. (Note how similar this residue looks to the destroyed Springfields we saw earlier this week, fired with 7.92 x 57 instead of 7.62 x 63). It would be interesting to examine the remains of the case, which requires the breech be opened. However, the shooter says he was firing “a couple hundred rounds of Wolf steelcase” 5.56 when the mishap occurred.
  2. Barrel obstruction near chamber (i.e. powderless squib load fired ahead of the mishap round). This would be indicated by a bulged barrel. However, user did not say he had a pop and malfunction drill before the big bang.
  3. Improper ammunition (i.e. case full of fast pistol powder).

For more information:

Initial Imgur thread with some of these pictures.

Reddit thread with discussion. /u/Amishmanbearpig is the owner/shooter of the mishap firearm. Quality of the discussion varies (to put it mildly. No, this was not caused because he chose an AR instead of an AK. No doubt the Russian Army is sitting on a stack of photos of grenaded AKs like this).

Second Imgur thread with more pictures

Imgur thread with two images of the superficial cuts to the shooter’s left shoulder from bolt carrier impact.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Tactical Anatomy

Tactical Anatomy logoAs much as the word “tactical” is overused in Gun Nation, it definitely fits here. Dr. (yes, he has a DEA number, sorry all you PhD doctor-impersonators) James Williams has a very interesting background that provides a scientific basis for his Tactical Anatomy concept and training.

He offers training classes in gunfight anatomy, yclept Shooting with X-Ray Vision, in versions for both sworn law officers and for “civilians” (wait, cops are civilians, as are we retired soldiers, NTTAWWT), and in treatment of gunshot wounds, and occasional posts to a blog that are entertaining as hell. He also publishes an instructor manual. We’ve ordered it based on his description of its content, which is highly congruent with the practical instruction one gets in anatomy at a place like SOT, SFARTAETC, or SFAUC, but we doubt it’s as useful or as much fun as attending one of his classes.

James S. Williams, M.D. … used his experience as a hunter and a competitive shooter in conjunction with his extensive trauma medicine experience to develop the Tactical Anatomy model, targets, and instructional systems. He has a wealth of firearms training experience and is an NRA-certified instructor.

via About Tactical Anatomy – Tactical Anatomy.

He served as the MO on a SWAT team for many years, and has practiced, taught, and shot in Canada and several American States (he’s now in Texas). We found his blog whilst contemplating a post on the limitations of “center of mass,” the hoary old military standby, as an aiming point in the sort of close-in social work that police and defensive shooters in general usually face.

You see, the military chose “center of mass” for very deliberate reasons, which are not applicable in a non-military-combat, often one-on-one, self-defensive shoot. We’ll probably go into that in depth in that contemplated post, if and when we get to it. We assume that military training, given the presence of vets in just about every police force and the military experience that many (not all!) of the best firearms trainers share, was the vector by which this idea infused itself in the defensive handgun world.

What Doc here says about it is pithy and, well, correct, apart from the fact that the term does exist outside of police work, in the military, and is useful there precisely because a soldier’s objective in shooting an enemy is often not the same as a policeman’s or defender’s. Here’s the meat, occasioned by a hairy firefight at short range with limited cover between a cop (Officer Peter Soulis) and a felon (“Tim Palmer,” pseudonym, who unbeknownst to Soulis was wanted for murder):

But here’s a hint as to the root of a correctable problem: the author of this article states that  “Palmer had taken 22 hits from Soulis’ .40-caliber Glock, 17 of which had hit center mass“.

The author’s implication is that a “center mass” hit is a good hit. And that, my friends, is where we descend from good tactical analysis into the Land of Bullshit.

If you’ve attended my Shooting With Xray Vision class (SXRV), or you’ve read my book, you have heard me say this before:  there is no such thing as Center Mass.  In 6 years of undergraduate and graduate level science, I never once read or heard of an anatomic structure called “center mass”. In all my years of medical school and postgraduate residency, I never read or heard of a medical term called “center mass”. And in 40 years of hunting animals for food with rifles, handguns, bows, blowguns, atlatl’s, and other weapons, I never once heard another hunter tell me to aim for “center mass”.

The reason for that is that outside of police circles, the term does not exist. And for good reason. It’s a bullshit term that has no relevance to reality. People use the term “center mass” because they’re lazy and ignorant. Sorry if that offends you, but that’s the bottom line. People who use the term “center mass” are admitting for all intents and purposes that they have no idea that critical structures of the human body exist in the human body that need to be interdicted by a police bullet to stop a felon’s violent actions. They are admitting that they have no idea where those vital structures are, and they have no idea how to visualize those anatomic structures in a real live human body.

The link in Doc’s article does not work, but the story is still there at — here’s a corrected link; if that one too goes bad, just do a search at LawOfficer — it was a hell of a fight and it’s a hell of a read, despite Doc’s quibble about the “center mass” term. Here is a period news story about the shooting — one of at least five Soulis was involved in during his time as a cop — and reading it probably explains why thought it worthwhile to change the name of the criminal. We know you guys have too much class to hassle a criminal’s innocent mother, unlike newspaper reporters. And the shootout became a made-for-TV episode calling Soulis an “action hero” last year, the season finale of ABC’s “In an Instant,” available online for viewing. But we digress; back to Doc’s site.

Wile-E-Coyote-Genius-Business-CardIf you think his view of Center Mass as a concept is entertaining, you should read his post occasioned by some Wile E. Coyote Super Genius asking him why it was a good idea to — we are not making this up! — shoot an assailant or hostage taker in the kidneys. One more taste, but you then have to go Read The Whole Thing™.

Military snipers train to incapacitate their targets with a single shot. Incapacitation on the battlefield is highly congruent with rapid death of the target. Centerfire rifle bullets are designed to produce incapacitating injury as quickly as possible. Incapacitation by GSW entails putting the bullet into the primary or secondary target anatomy. The primary target is the CNS, and the secondary target is the cardiovascular system that supports the CNS. The kidneys are part of neither. The kidneys are small, deep in the body, and in anatomic locations that medically-untrained snipers would have significant difficulty visualizing in the 3D human body. As such, deliberately targeting the kidneys is so far from practicable I actually laughed out loud in disbelief when I first read your email.

Let me be perfectly clear: shooting an enemy combatant anywhere other than the CNS/CV bundle target zones would be, first, a failure to fulfill the tactical mission (incapacitate your target asap), and second, wanton cruelty. This is at best comic-book mall-ninja material, and should be rejected out of hand.

Exercise for the reader — point to your kidneys, from the front, back and side.

Q1: Are you sure?

Q2: For extra credit: Describe that target in terms of size, criticality, recognizability, vulnerability, effect — hell, do a full CARVER on it — vis-a-vis the brain stem and cerebellum.

Caching your Guns for a Civil War, Parts I and II

Many people are talking about the possibility of a civil war. Some people are acting as if one is going to happen. The intersection between those sets is almost zero.

Part 1: Some obstacles to caching

Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. All the Haganah underground operatives kept the secret of this cache in Northern Israel. It was discovered by accident after they had all died.

Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. All the Haganah underground operatives who knew the secret of this cache in Northern Israel took it to their graves. It was discovered by accident in January, 2014, after they had all died. (Story at The Blaze with links to Israeli media, some in Hebrew).

First, if you live in a state with licensing and registration, you’re screwed. Even if they don’t have all your weapons in their files, they know you have weapons. They can come and shake down your home and curtilage at their leisure. Registration and Licensing doesn’t solve crimes, and it certainly doesn’t prevent them. It is one thing only: a cheat sheet for confiscation.  For that, it’s the cat’s pajamas.

We’ve heard a lot of bravado about boating accidents and long-ago sales to a tall short black guy with red hair and freckles. You can pull this off in one two-pronged case: no one else at all knows about your weapons and your plans, and you can resist intense interrogation. (Unless you have been trained in interrogation resistance in a resistance training lab, you probably can’t). This is completely without torture or threats to relatives, both of which will be available and in use in a civil war. Those two techniques can usually break even the trained resister.

Second, don’t rely on Oathkeepers bluster (another word beginning with “b” also fits). They mean what they say now, but things will be different then. Police will have no problem cracking down on you because (1) most cops will follow any plausibly legitimate authority; (2) human beings are born to rationalize; and (3) you’ll be demonized long before you’re raided. They won’t whack you, they’ll be whacking your indescribably monstrous straw man evil twin.

Every totalitarian state in history made liberal use of the ordinary cops for its political roundups, and no police element has ever mutinied or walked off the job when faced with that task. For example, the Gestapo and SS did not need to round up the Jews in occupied France: the ordinary French beat cops were glad to do it. None of them was ever punished; they transferred their loyalty seamlessly and unquestionably from the 3rd Republic to Vichy to the occupying power to the 4th Republic. Likewise, the Weimar cops became Nazi cops, who in turn became East or West German cops, and now unified Federal German cops. Hitler? Stalin? Who cares, we can retire at 45 with a good pension, and no one will miss a few Jews.

Third, don’t expect most people to back you. For every active resister, there are 20 dedicated, clandestine supporters. For every dedicated supporter there are 20 active and open collaborators. You active resisters will be outnumbered 400 to 1 by the Quislings. And even they will be a minority. Most people will hunker down and try not to be involved. The side that pressures them will get their loyalty and compliance — as long as it outpressures its opponents, and as long as the pressure is applied.

Still wondering why civil wars get ugly, fast?

Fourth, if you’re fantasizing about this civil war, stop now. We’ve seen civil wars, and we’ve seen how a place can go from civilized to Hobbsean state of nature in jig time. The American Revolution has been sanitized in our history but even it, the cleanest and most civil of civil wars, was unbearably nasty. The victors wrote the history; the losers, the Tories or Loyalists, took ship. Or died. After losing everything. A new Civil War might look more like the last one, with new Mosbys, Booths, and certainly new Andersonvilles. Or it might resemble the Spanish Civil War, or the French Revolution. When Americans unhappy with government think of the French Revolution, they think of their opponents in the tumbrils. Remember the fate of Robespierre and the Jacobins was no different from that of the Girondins or the Bourbons. Remember that practically none of the Old Bolsheviks died of natural causes.

But if, after all that, you still want to be prepared for survival or resistance, read on. The lessons learned you are about to receive here are distilled from thirty-plus years in the practice of insurgency, UW, FID, and COIN, and a very great deal of study. They also incorporate the lessons learned from a sensitive — once, highly classified — strategic cache program that was meant to arm clandestine stay-behind forces and the resistance armies they would raise.

Part II: The Enemies of Cached Weapons

The enemies of your cached weapons, dear insurgent, are many. They are rust, and its valkyries water and air; construction and development; discovery; documentation; human frailty; and obsolescence.

These weapons, buried during the League of Nations mandate and recovered only last year, were well preserved.

These weapons, buried during the League of Nations mandate and recovered only last year, were well preserved. Careful packaging and Israel’s arid climate protected them from Air, Water and therefore Rust.

Rust is a term for corrosion in ferrous metals. Essentially, iron plus air (especially damp, moist air) yields iron oxide, which is everything steel is not: weak, crumbly, almost worthless (well, you can make an incendiary mixture with it. But your guns are not the best feedstock for that; it’s not like rust is hard to come by).

You protect weapons from rust with permanent coatings like paint or parkerizing, temporary coatings like grease, vacuum-bagging them if you have the capability, and storing them in naturally or artificially dry places.

Even non-ferrous metals and supposedly “stainless” metals will corrode in the right conditions.

Water is principally a problem because of its propensity to accelerate rust. But it also has two other properties: it tends to wick into almost anywhere, and if it’s flowing, it can wear through anything. The Grand Canyon? That’s nothing but applied water and time.

Air is a problem because it contains all the ingredients for rust except the iron: water vapor and oxygen. It also can contain pollutants that accelerate corrosion.

Development is a threat to a surprising number of caches. Europeans periodically wake up to a news story of a cache of weapons or other stuff from the Cold War or World War II. The Nazis cached hundreds of tons of arms for a Werwolf resistance that fizzled out, partly because the Nazi state’s defeat made its ideology much less compelling, and partly because all four Allies had no compunction at all about shooting Werwolf suspects, even children. These unused caches get unearthed in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic by urban and rural development all the time. They’re usually old, forgotten, neglected caches in bad shape.

Apart from concealment, which was often good, the Werwolf caches were a pretty good example of how not to conduct a strategic cache program.

While some hazards are easy to defend against — you can “set ’em and forget ’em” — defense against development requires long-term curation. If a cache is implanted, someone must monitor it, and when development encroaches, move it. Therefore, the caches that are discovered are the ones that are haphazardly monitored or that were implanted by defunct organizations that never took up, or failed at, monitoring.

It is also helpful to emplace caches in locations that are away from either axes of likely future development, potential high value positions or targets in civil or general war (such as key terrain), or potential bivouac locations of hostile forces.

Discovery is the accidental location, exposure, or penetration of the cache, not as a result of counterguerrilla or counterespionage activity, nor as a result of development-related excavation. Your likely discoverers are hunters, hikers, and, especially, kids.

Guard against it by placing the cache on difficult terrain, and concealing the cache well.

There appears to have been no documentation of the Haganah cache. It was concealed well enough that the discovery came almost 70 years after the Haganah's clandestine war was won.

There appears to have been no Documentation of the Haganah cache. It was concealed well enough that its Discovery came almost 70 years after the Haganah’s clandestine war was won.

Documentation is a double-aged sword. It allows for the recovery or relocation of caches even if no responsible individual is available (a real risk in UW). It is useful in the demobilization phase after victory has been achieved; or in an underground or dormant phase after a major defeat. But it also allows hostile forces to find and recover caches, or even worse, surveil them and roll up networks.

To counter these risks, documentation should be kept to a minimum and safeguarded, possibly with such measures as clandestine writing and encryption. Cache reports should never be transmitted by or filed on computers or electronic devices. (Assume all computers are bugged).

Human Frailty (memory and weakness) is what happens to most caches — not to put too fine a point on it, somebody rats them out.

The way to combat this is to enact strict positive vetting, need-to-know, and compartmentalization. No one should even know that there are caches unless the person’s trustworthiness has been established beyond doubt. No one should know any more about caches than he or she needs to, and that information must be given to the smallest practical number of people. And finally, no one should know about caches not relevant to his cell, mission, or location.

Obsolescence is the final problem with caches. If, mirabile dictu, things are so well packed and preserved that they’re not at risk, the canny old wizard we call Time still has one ace up his sleeve: obsolescence. You don’t know where it’s coming from; small arms development proceeds by a pattern of punctuated equilibrium. You can’t tell when technology will overthrow your stored ordnance. Rebels who buried their guns in 1800, or in 1900, would still be armed like a national army forty years later, but if they buried their guns in 1840 or 1940, they would dig up a bunch of very outdated hardware in 1880 or 1980. (We were, in fact, digging up — for inspection — caches planted in the 1940s periodically through the 1980s). But small arms performance plateaued enough in the 20th Century that the guns are the least of your worries. A guerrilla band armed today with Garands and MP.40s would still have considerable lethality, but there’s no hope for the crystal and tube radios of the 1940s for practical field communications. Likewise, medical equipment stored even a decade ago has been replaced in the real world by improved devices and products of new research.

There is no easy way to combat obsolescence. You have to be prepared to service the cache as we did during the cold war, a difficult and expensive undertaking fraught with risk to the servicer, the cache, and the security of the program.

To be continued in Part III: Types of Caches and IV: Cache Best Practices

We will learn that, as useful as it may be to consider the risks above, you’re going to find that if you want to use the cache or caches, you’re going to have to accept considerable risks beyond those. Indeed, the use of the cache is ever in tension with the security of same (a tradeoff with many, many parallels in the insurgent’s world).

And anything you can do can get you scarfed up. No pressure, though.

Look for Parts III and IV next week.

Situational Awareness: This Kid Had It

She wasn’t, and couldn’t be, legally armed — she was only 16. She ran away from home, one of those teenage things that seemed like a good idea at the time. She fell in with a guy with a line of patter and several other women. (Apparently all Dominicans, immigration status indeterminate).

But the guy was a pimp and the girl whores, and they were determined to turn the 16-year-old out as the latest member of their profitable little business.

The kid resisted, despite several beatings. And when she got her hands on a phone, the home she ran away from didn’t seem so bad after all. She texted her mom her location and circumstances.

Mom and the NYPD took it from there.

Cops in the Bronx rescued an upstate runaway who was nearly forced into prostitution but managed to text her mother where she was being held, the Daily News has learned.

The 16-year-old girl was forced to take provocative pictures by her sick captors, a 22-year-old man and four female prostitutes operating out of the Castle Hill Houses, sources said. They then tried to force her into the sex trade.

When she refused to participate she was beaten by two of the women.

The brave girl managed to send a desperate message to her mom about what was happening and where she was, sources said. The mother, in turn, notified State Police, who alerted the NYPD.

When cops showed up at the apartment Thursday night they knocked on the door, saw the girl inside, grabbed her and arrested her cruel captors, sources said.

The girl, who was treated for two black eyes, had run away from upstate Tannersville about three weeks ago, sources said. It wasn’t clear how she met the suspects.

via Cops rescue upstate teen runaway held by prostitues in Bronx – NY Daily News.

She’s damned lucky all she got was a couple of black eyes.

This (kidnapping and beating kids into prostitution) is apparently a big thing in NYFC in general and in the Bronx in particular. This was the 22 Jan 16 story, but they hadn’t busted a hooker ring since maybe this one on 9 Jan 16 (where one of the turned-out kids was 14). But hey, the hookers’ and pimps’ lawyer, one Paul London, says the teen rhymes-with-witch had it coming: “She ran away having been impregnated by her own father.” So, that makes selling her into slavery OK, Paul?

That’s why we need to use lawyers for medical experiments. They’re probably not as good a model of human physiology as good ol’ Rattus norvegicus, but there are some things you just can’t get a rat to do.


The FBI Trickles Out Some Video from Oregon

This is coming out selectively, and at a pace that indicates that they are basically happy with how this happened. However, the aerial video makes one thing clear: how eyewitnesses can claim that LeVoy Finicum was shot because he drew a gun, while other eyewitnesses can claim that he was shot while his hands were up. At different times in the video he has his hands up and appears to go for a gun, and it’s impossible to know — without information the FBI continues to withhold, if they have it — whether he decided to commit Suicide by Many Cops, or whether he drew his gun in desperate defense after they began shooting him.

Again, without knowing who said what, when, it’s impossible to say whether he became compliant with their instructions, whether their instructions (as so often in a police encounter) contradicted one another, or who fired first.

It’s a certainty that he and others in the truck were not, initially, compliant.

Our tentative conclusion is that both “sides” of this one-sided gunfight will continue to feel wronged by the other guys.

The “Highlights Reel” — about 1/3 of the duration of the whole thing. We watched the whole thing, which is embedded at the bottom of this post, and only sped through this clip.

Here’s the FBI comment:

This is a shortened and edited version of FBI footage showing the joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This condensed clip was shown at an FBI press conference in Burns, Oregon on 01/28/2016. The complete raw footage is available here: Note regarding date/time stamp in the left corner of video: Pilots use Zulu Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), when they fly. Zulu time is eight hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Therefore, although this footage was taken on January 26, 2016 in Oregon, the date/time stamp on the video shows just after midnight January 27, 2016.

Our comments:

  1. We have said several times before, when Officer Friendly decides you’re going downtown, you’re going downtown. Further resistance at that point is not only futile, it just means you’re going downtown with a few lumps at best, or at the worst, going downtown to the morgue instead of the jail — as Finicum does.
  2. Without the audio, we can’t be sure who fired first. It could be any of three men in the video, or someone off screen.
  3. We can’t be sure whether Finicum drew or moved to draw first, or whether he did that in reaction to being shot at or shot.
  4. His hands were up at first, they went down it seems to keep his balance, and that seems to be when the officers lit him up, but we can’t be sure. (To the officers, at the time, this may have looked like he was going for a gun. In the overhead video it doesn’t look like that, but the guys on the scene didn’t have eyes on the overhead video, they had eyes on Finicum a mere three or four yards away.
  5. We don’t know if Finicum fired, but it seems unlikely. Whether he took shots before he attempted to draw, once he starts he’s clearly taking hits.
  6. We don’t know how many agents or officers fired, and how many shots. For reasons known only to the FBI, they’re sitting on that information. (most likely working out whether it’s better to bury it for good, or if it will be released, how to spin it. One of their concerns here will be the criminal cases against the truck passengers, and the jury pool. The jury pool’s probably not much of a concern, because they’ve set it up that the jurors will be predominantly from metro Portland).
  7. It appears that two or three agents or officers engaged Finicum: one with a pistol who had been on the flank, one with a shoulder weapon who had come up onto the snow, and possibly one who was at the fender of one of the roadblock trucks. Others may have fired as well, but these three are the closest.
  8. The left-handed officer who had been on the flank and fired down the hill fired directly towards his own guys. This may have caused the guys at the truck to think Finicum was engaging them, and they were taking incoming. (Well, they were taking incoming, albeit from their own guy. Which they might or might not have noticed).
  9. The same officer fired from the move — in deep snow — with no attempt to take up a stance. Some may interpret that as reckless, but it could also be that he could see he was threatened and needed to react immediately.
  10. In the case of perceived threats, there are certain psychophysiological reactions, including a narrowing of perceptual field both in breadth and depth. Thus, for the uphill officer, the friendlies behind Finicum might have been functionally invisible.
  11. Because of the angle of the helicopter’s video, the carbine-shooting officer is sometimes masked by trees and sometimes has his back to the video viewpoint. From this video alone, you can’t see what he’s doing.
  12. Several officers move towards Finicum as he appears to be trying to escape with his hands up. In retrospect they might have held their positions, as they had him surrounded. But once again, we don’t know what was said here. Finicum could have been screaming, “Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!” — or worse — for all we know.
  13. When Finicum goes down, he doesn’t move subsequently. It seems clear from the overhead video that he was DRT.
  14. Like the Soviets with Maj. Nicholson, the FBI makes no attempt to medically assess or aid LaVoy Finicum for well over ten minutes after he was shot. This is probably because they still had unknown persons in the truck and an unsecure scene, and possibly because or also because they could see he had unsurvivable, immediately fatal wounds, but it looks bad, and can be spun by conspiracy theorists. If you see a claim like that, remember the FBI’s probable reasons for holding their doc back.
  15. After the others all exit the truck, one at a time, hands up, and are taken into custody, agents move forward cautiously and clear the truck.
  16. Then, as a K9 comes forward to further check the truck, an FBI medic moves to Finicum and kneels beside him. It’s not possible to tell what he’s doing, if anything, but he stays there for some time.

This could have gone another way entirely. Our impression is that the lack of further shooting after Finicum goes down is an indicator of restraint on both sides.

One is reminded of the rockets the FBI took (deservedly) for HRTs staggeringly and incompetent reduction of the Branch Davidians compound, when the ATF, who wanted Koresh, could have just stopped David Koresh and arrested him any time on his peregrinations about Waco. Clearly the errors then informed their approach now, and they stopped and arrested the takeover ringleaders on their rounds (they were going to speak to the media and public in a nearby town). Had Finicum done what the other truck passengers did, he’d be alive and in jail and everyone would be sending the Bureau a Bravo Zulu.

It’s clear that the folks in the truck were not complying with instructions. They just sat in the truck for 5-6 minutes after the first attempted stop (from around 2:30 in the long video). And the authorities just sat in theirs. We have no way of knowing what was said, but it’s unlikely the cops told the truck occupants to stay in the running truck that long, or to just take off.

After they attempt to run away, the driver (presumably Finicum) tries to run around the roadblock through a thick snowbank and, naturally, bogs down. With no delay, the driver’s door opens and Finicum exits. Seconds later he is dead.

If the others in the truck were attempting to escape or resist — there’s no sign of this either way in the release — there was no indication of it after Finicum is shot dead. It appears that the rest of them exit slowly and individually and comply with instructions.

Lessons Learned So Far

There are some lessons learned here:

  1. If you provoke an armed encounter with the authorities, you’re going to get an armed encounter with the authorities. They can’t and won’t back down; they understand that any loss of face risks a collapse in the social order, so they will meet such a challenge every time.
  2. Cue the late Bobby Fuller: LaVoy Finicum fought the law, and the law won. Regardless of who did what, he’s still dead, and there were many times he could have made a decision that would not have left him dead, regardless of what the FBI did or intended. (Except for the occasional sociopath who slips through, and contrary to what a lot of Bundy supporters seem to think about them, Special Agents are not fangs-out hoping to kill anybody).
  3. The FBI, and most agencies, need more post-shooting transparency. Don’t believe us? Mental exercise: this shootout happens in Chicago or NYFC, and LaVoy and his crew are black gangbangers. What would The Reverends be saying by now? How would the Post and the Times be covering it? In this case, the Bureau lucks out: the national media sympathize with the FBI because the criminals are the media’s favorite boogeymen. Ask Wilson Goode what the media does when the criminal movement (in his case, MOVE) are minority members and your cops whack ’em.
  4. Absence of information (and media fabrications to fill the 24-hour news cycle in this absence) is the fertilizer that makes conspiracy theories grow. Conspiracy theories lead to people’s estrangement from ordinary society. Estrangement leads to “compounds” and standoffs. If you’re The Law®. you should want to disincentivize that process of estrangement and incentivize normal, rational paths of dispute resolution.
  5. Administrative law is increasingly looking lawless, with its administrative “courts” a rubber stamp, not a normal, rational path of dispute resolution.

Some More General Thoughts

This whole mess began because a Federal prosecutor (like all of them an effete urbanite with many years in Eastern elite colleges) thought it would be amusing to make a felony out of some careless brush burnoffs by a couple of ranchers, and send the hayseeds to prison.

People in the East (ourselves included) have little appreciation for the degree to which the people of the rural West find themselves at odds with the managers of Federal agencies like the BLM and the EPA. Those agencies have eastern, urban, even Luddite values, values that are foreign and inimical to the agricultural and extractive industries on which so many Western livelihoods depend. The agencies’ managers, based always in the Imperial City of Washington and fully socialized to Washington values, radiate contempt for their de facto serfs.

It’s impossible how to predict how LaVoy Finicum and the Bundys will be remembered some decades or a century down the road. John Brown, a similar lawbreaker, still does not produce a consensus almost two centuries on: was he principled, crazed, or both?

But it’s disturbing the degree to which this feels like the period of Bloody Kansas and the John Brown Raid. People are divided, bitter, and bloody-minded. We know where the failure to find a political resolution to the widening schism in the 1850s wound up. Anyone who wants the current schism to go there is out of his ever-lovin’ mind. American deaths in the Civil War were 2.5% of the population, predominantly productive-age men; that proportion would be about 8.25 million today. Both sides committed the sort of bestial atrocities that always seem to arise in civil wars. And while the two big issues were resolved: Slavery; and who is to be master, Feds or States — the cultural issues still fester like an antibiotic-resistant abscess.

We’re at the cusp of a Century of Enlightenment, or a new Dark Age, made more monstrous than Churchill might have imagined by not only the black lights of perverted science, but the raw power of unaccountable authority.

After the jump, the full-length video (and an Update):

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