Monthly Archives: January 2016

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Wrenches

Pipe WrenchExcept in England, of course. There they’ll have spanners.

But in Pennsylvania, where indicted felon Attorney General Kathleen Kane has determined that the biggest threat to public order is licensed concealed carriers (who are involved in rounds-to-zero crimes in crime-ridden Pennsylvania cities), and the next biggest is lack of that magical incantation “background checks” (in a state where 100% of pistol transfers, even parent to child, must go through an FFL and NICS), we bring you this wrench attack.

A 57-year-old Northeast Philadelphia man suffered a skull fracture in what appeared to be a random attack by a wrench-wielding man Tuesday morning at Suburban Station, SEPTA police said.

The victim was at a ticket counter around 6 a.m. when a man behind him started striking him the head with a pipe wrench, said Transit Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III.

Technically, what he suffered is most likely a cranial fracture, an injury that always bears with it risk of brain damage. So a family is waiting, now, to see if this fellow who was just minding his own business buying a ticket to the commuter train is going to have all his marbles, and his motor skills. Because he trusted the police, the criminal courts,  and the social order of Philadelphia to keep him safe, and did not take charge of his own safety.

Cue Otter from Animal House. We’ll see in a minute why his trust, whether he knew it or not, was in the courts; and why that trust was tragically misplaced.

A nearby transit police officer quickly apprehended the attacker, identified as 38-year-old Jeremy Wilson, whom Nestel described as a transient. Wilson was arrested without a struggle and the wrench was recovered.

“Transient” is one of those Philadelphia locutions. It’s a term of art for what other moderns call “homeless”, and that was a term that those of us on the dark side of 40 recognize as arising in the 1980s  as a media and political euphemism (it was a keystone of the ill-starred Dukakis campaign, remember him?) implying that the explosion of menacing bums (there’s the right word) had nothing to do with 60s and 70s “deinstitutionalization,” and was somehow a failure of public policy with regard to mortgages, or perhaps insufficient funds wasted spent on “public housing.”

Philadelphia, let us note, is a “sanctuary city” for bums, as well as a “sanctuary city” for criminal aliens.

Court records had a home address listed as Camden.

Well yeah, he has to have an address in Jersey somewhere for the Party to vote his absentee ballot for him. All the nut jobs do.

Wilson, also known as Jonathan Wilson, was charged with attempted murder and related offenses, and was being held on $1 million bail, records show.

Well, that’s alright as far as it goes. Being that it’s Philadelphia, you’d half expect them to confiscate his wrench and schedule it for destruction, and ticket him for practicing mechanics without a license.

Nestel said Wilson had a lengthy criminal record in Florida and also a record in New Jersey. Wilson had been arrested five separate times for assault on police, Nestel said.

Um, the obvious question would seem to be: why is he not in prison? This seems to be one more of those cases where the system, unable to cure a violent insane person, just shuffles him along until his unpunished crimes reach some threshold where even the most deluded of the “reformers” is ready to jail him.

In the next sentence, the emphasis is our own.

Wilson was arrested earlier this month for terroristic threats and theft from a motor vehicle, court records show.

via Cops: Wrench attack at Suburban Station appeared random.

Violent criminal, violent history, arrested in the same jurisdiction for violent threats and theft, and immediately let go. By the pop definition of insanity, is this wrench-wielding weirdo any more insane that the City of Philadelphia itself?

If a dog bit people as often as this guy, even in Philadelphia, they’d put him down. At what point does a human being’s rabid behavior deprive him of the cloak of human exceptionalism and compel society to cure itself of him?

Oh, never mind. It’s Philadelphia. They’d rather not be cured. They value his life. What a shame they place a zero value on his victim’s.

The Fight that Ruined a New Weapon’s Reputation

The weapon was new, made of cutting-edge materials. It had demonstrated its capability in the lab and on the range, and the men had such confidence in it, that when a Laotian unit, driven out of Laos by NVA forces with tanks, begged the SF camp commander for anti-tank weapons, team sergeant Bill “Pappy” Craig (who was acting as his own weapons man, having been sent a flaky kid as a replacement who more or less defected to the NVA) gave the Laotians his two old, if proven 3.5″ rocket launchers, aka Super Bazookas. He kept the new Light Antitank Weapons for his own team.

M72LAW

He would live to regret that decision.

The time was early February, 1968, as all of South Vietnam convulsed with what the People’s Army of Viet Nam called the “General Offensive/General Uprising” and the West knows as the Tet Offensive.1 The place was the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp on Route 9, a scrawny , risky road running west past Khe Sanh, where a large Marine force was besieged on one large hill and several hill outposts.

USSF Detachments in RVN 1967Lang Vei was the northwesternmost permanent Allied presence in the Republic of Vietnam. This map of Special Forces compounds the year before the attack hints at just how far out it was — it’s the solitary little dot in Quang Tri province. The Marines at Khe Sanh were almost as isolated.

The LAW is a 66 mm weapon, as its name implies a Light Antitank Weapon, which answered the question: “What if you took the German disposable Panzerfaust concept and redeveloped it with the latest Space Age propellants, explosives, and materials — could you make a compact tank killer?”

The result was a small, environmentally sealed, extensible shipping container/launch tube that was, on its design, marginal on modern tank front turret and glacis armor, but effective on side, rear, top or bottom skins. It was effective through 360º on armor of World War II vintage tanks, still widely deployed by potential adversaries.

The LAW’s adversary that night should have been well within its capabilities, as the 1950s-vintage PT-76 light amphibious tank was never intended to slug it out with AT defenses. It was built to support river crossings — something the Soviet Army’s offensive doctrine demanded an answer for — with a better-than-nothing tank mounting a descendant of the first generation T-34’s 76mm main gun in a truncated-conical turret. The NVA also deployed a Chinese copy of the PT-76 with a domed turret like that of the T-54/55, mounting a version of the improved 85mm gun from the improved late version of the T-34; they also used T-34s themselves, but the only tanks confirmed at Lang Vei were PT-76s.

lang_vei_aftermath

Lang Vei, with three destroyed PT-76s highlighted, the next day. Central PT-76 is adjacent to destroyed TOC bunker. The two visible in the upper right were killed by James Holt’s 106mm Recoilless Rifle.

 

The PT-76 would go on to perform adequately at another SF camp, Ben Het, the next year (in the light of Lang Vei, Ben Het was reinforced by attached artillery and tanks, but one of the PT-76s actually knocked out a defending M-48 MBT before being destroyed itself). The PT-76 was also used by the Egyptian Army in the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

The Lang Vei TOC bunker entrance and tower. The bulk of the TOC was underground and the roof was supported by 8x8" beams.

The Lang Vei TOC bunker entrance and tower before the attack. The bulk of the TOC was underground and the roof was supported by 8×8″ beams.

Knocked-out PT-76 and ruins of TOC the day after. The bunker was blown by the NVA after the surviving USSF escaped to the Old Camp and then out by Marine CH-46.

Knocked-out PT-76 and ruins of TOC the day after. The bunker was blown by the NVA after the surviving USSF escaped to the Old Camp and then out by Marine CH-46. The fuel drums full of rocks, from which Schungel engaged tanks coming from the left are at the left of the TOC.

This 50-odd minute documentary is rife with errors2, and omits even the names of those Green Berets that did not talk to the filmmakers, but does include a broadly accurate reenactment of the fight, and snippets of rare interviews with  SF defenders, including men from all key groups (the defenders who held out in the TOC bunker, then evaded under air-strike cover; the guys evading on top of the hill, some of whom escaped and some of whom were captured; and the guys isolated with the Laotian battalion at Old Lang Vei). The story of the fight, though is complex enough that you ought to read an overview before trying to make sense of a 50-minute video retelling, or it may confuse you.

The reputation of the LAW never recovered both from the blow of its failure at Lang Vei (it didn’t work much better at the next camp attacked by tanks, Ben Het, either), and the Army’s failure to face that failure squarely and forthrightly. Denial kept things from being resolved.

The camp itself was overrun. Of the eleven attacking PT-76s, three were left on site, destroyed by the defenders or by air; four more were blasted by air or artillery and destroyed in the immediate area. A 12th PT-76 had been caught in the open and killed by the USAF on 24 January.

Of 24 USSF on the site, 10 were killed, captured or missing, and 14 got away, all but one of them wounded. When an awards formation was held shortly afterward, only half of the survivors could stand up to get their medals.

lang_vei_survivors_decorations

ashley_moh_presentationOne posthumous medal was presented in Washington: here VP Spiro Agnew presents the award to Eugene Ashley’s widow and uncomprehending son.

 

Rich Allen, who was single, had traded places with Ashley before a fifth and final assault of their small element at the Old Camp to try to relieve the besieged new camp. Because Gene had a wife and son, Rich asked to take the more exposed front position. He was reloading his BAR — the camp had a lot of BARs — when he heard a burst go past him and mortally wound his friend.

Allen would be the only man who survived without a wound.

The Vietnamese VNSF and Montagnard CIDG strike force suffered similar casualty percentages. 209 of the Yards would be missing or killed, about 70 wounded went out with the Americans from the Old Camp, and 160 more escaped overland to the Marine base at Khe Sanh — where the Marines treated them as POWs. A SOG element at Khe Sanh was able to get them sprung and evacuated to Nha Trang.

The Marine commander at Khe Sanh, Col. David Lownds, had been lying when he’d told General Westmoreland he would reinforce Khe Sanh if it were attacked. He never had any intention of risking his men on a night movement on a road on which the NVA would certainly have prepared ambushes. He did, however, authorize his transport helicopters to pick up survivors, which the Marine crews did (amid enemy fire).

The official Army history of Special Forces in Vietnam doesn’t mention the 1968 Lang Vei battle, and dismisses the 1967 fight at the Old Camp that ultimately forced the camp to relocate, with a very few lines, and an ominous foreshadowing of the tank menace:

In I Corps on 4 May 1967 at 0330 Camp Lang Vei, Detachment A-101, Quang Tri Province, was attacked by a company-size force supported by mortars and tanks. About one platoon of Viet Cong gained entry into the camp. With the assistance of fire support from Khe Sanh, enemy elements were repelled from the camp at 0500. Two Special Forces men were killed and five wounded; seventeen civilian irregulars were killed, thirty-five wounded, and thirty-eight missing. Enemy losses were seven killed and five wounded. 3

And referring to NVA armament, to wit, tanks…

…major changes in enemy armament occurred. Introduced in quantity were tube artillery, large rockets, large mortars, modern small arms of the AK47 type, antiaircraft artillery up to 37-mm., and heavy machine guns. Tanks were employed on one occasion against the CIDG camp at Lang Vei, and others were sighted in Laos and Cambodia near the border and in South Vietnam. In central and southern South Vietnam, North Vietnamese Army replacements were used to bolster main force Viet Cong units that had lost many men.

The enemy launched his Tet offensive on 29 January 1968. This was followed by a massive buildup at Khe Sanh and the armor-supported attack that overran the camp at Lang Vei in I Corps. Pressure on CIDG camps, except for the attack on Lang Vei, was unusually light during the entire Tet offensive and for approximately sixty days thereafter.4

The tank menace had been well reported by the border camps and by the secret cross-border penetration patrols of MAC-V SOG. A Mike Force patrol had found a recently-used tank park near Lang Vei shortly before the attack. But intelligence officers dismissed the eyewitness (and in the case of some of the border camps, ear-witness) reporting, as implausible. The data conflicted with the theory, and they threw out the data.

We suppose that’s why we have intelligence officers.

In the months and the years that followed the hilltop fight, the Army made many half-hearted attempts to understand why and how the LAWs had failed. The testimony that they did fail is clear: they failed to fire, squibbed, hit the PT-76s and bounced off, hit and didn’t penetrate. And the weakest tank in the enemy inventory, a tank with a bare 15mm or so of armor, rolled over the defenses with near impunity. But most of the investigations were aimed at proving “that couldn’t have happened,” and shoring up the reputation of the M72 which had performed well in tests and poorly in combat.

The most plausible explanation is that long-term storage, careless handling while in storage (in the Army, the hard left of the bell curve goes into ammo handling), environmental problems, or the shock of parachute delivery had somehow affected the functioning of the rockets. The Lang Vei survivors reported so many diverse problems with the weapons that engineers were at a loss to duplicate the failures or even come up with an Ishikawa diagram or failure tree that plausibly explained them.

Other than the ineffective LAWs, the anti-tank weapons the defenders had included obsolete 57mm and obsolescent 106mm recoilless rifles, lightweight cannon that used the discharge of a countermass (in the case of these ones, gases through a de Laval venturi) to “punch above their weight.” The guns had been scrounged by team members and there was very little ammo for the 106s — perhaps as few as ten rounds. The recoillesses were positioned, necessarily, in fixed positions that were located before the attack and attacked. The Montagnard crews were killed or wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Schungel tried to get one of the 106 RCLs into action during the fight; another was crewed by James W. Holt, an Arkansas soldier who went missing that night while seeking more 106 ammo or LAWs (his remains were recovered in 1989, and identified only in 2015, thanks to advances in DNA technology). Holt managed to kill three PT-76s, according to a DOD POW-MIA narrative of the fight stored in the Combined Action Combat Casualty File for Lang Vei reliever (and later DNH in an air crash) Major George Quamo of MAC-V SOG.

Shortly after midnight on February 7, 1968, a combined NVA infantry-tank
assault drove into Lang Vei. Two PT-76 tanks threatened the outer
perimeter of the camp as infantry rushed behind them. SFC James W. Holt
destroyed both tanks with shots from his 106mm recoilless rifle. More
tanks came around the burning hulks of the first two tanks and began to
roll over the 104th CIDG Company's defensive positions. SSgt. Peter
Tiroch, the assistant intelligence sergeant, ran over to Holt's position
and helped load the weapon. Holt quickly lined up a third tank in his
sights and destroyed it with a direct hit. After a second shot at the
tank, Holt and Tiroch left the weapons pit just before it was demolished
by return cannon fire. Tiroch watched Holt run over to the ammunition
bunker to look for some hand-held Light Anti-tank Weapons (LAWs). It was
the last time Holt was ever seen.

But the same narrative shows that apart from the 106, the other defensive means were ineffective.

LtCol. Schungel, 1Lt. Longgrear, SSgt. Arthur Brooks, Sgt. Nikolas
Fragos, SP4 William G. McMurry, Jr., and LLDB Lt. Quy desperately tried
to stop the tanks with LAWs and grenades. They even climbed on the
plated engine decks, trying to pry open hatches to blast out the crews.
NVA infantrymen followed the vehicles closely, dusting their sides with
automatic rifle fire. One tank was stopped by five direct hits, and the
crew killed as they tried to abandon the vehicle. 1Lt. Miles R. Wilkins,
the detachment executive officer, left the mortar pit with several LAWs
and fought a running engagement with one tank beside the team house
without much success.

.... NVA sappers armed with
satchel charges, tear gas grenades and flamethrowers fought through the
101st, 102nd and 103rd CIDG perimeter trenches and captured both ends of
the compound by 2:30 a.m. Spearheaded by tanks, they stormed the inner
compound. LtCol. Schungel and his tank-killer personnel moved back to
the command bunker for more LAWs. They were pinned behind a row of dirt
and rock filled drums by a tank that had just destroyed one of the
mortar pits. A LAW was fired against the tank with no effect. The cannon
swung around and blasted the barrels in front of the bunker entrance.
The explosion temporarily blinded McMurry and mangled his hands, pitched
a heavy drum on top of Lt. Wilkins and knocked Schungel flat. Lt. Quy
managed to escape to another section of the camp, but the approach of
yet another tank prevented Schungel and Wilkins from following. At some
point during this period, McMurry, a radioman, disappeared.

The tank, which was shooting at the camp observation post, was destroyed
with a LAW.

That’s the only reference to a LAW having an effect on a tank.

Team Sfc. William T. Craig and SSgt. Tiroch had chased tanks throughout
the night with everything from M-79 grenade launchers to a .50 caliber
machine gun. After it had become apparent that the camp had been
overrun, they escaped outside the wire and took temporary refuge in a
creek bed. After daylight, they saw Ashley's counterattack force and
joined him.

And there you have it.

Signals intelligence showed that the Lang Vei defenders weren’t making it up — the attackers, too, made note of the rockets’ poor performance in their after-action reporting.

(In an interesting aside, the degree of enemy success at Lang Vei was due in part to infiltration, not unlike the insider threat our guys have faced in Afghanistan:

Subsequent intelligence and prisoner of war interrogations indicated that the attackers were aided from inside the camp by Viet Cong who had infiltrated the CIDG units, posing as recruits. One prisoner of war said that he had been contacted by the Viet Cong before the attack and directed to join the CIDG at Lang Vei in order to obtain information on the camp. After joining the CIDG, the man recruited four other civilian irregulars to assist him. One man was to determine the locations of all bunkers within the camp, the second was to report on all the guard positions and how well the posts were manned, the third was to make a sketch of the camp, and the fourth was to report on supplies brought into the camp from Khe Sanh. The Viet Cong had contacted the prisoner who was under questioning on four occasions before the 4 May attack to get the information. On the night of the attack, the prisoner of war and another CIDG man killed two of the camp guards and led the Viet Cong force through the wire and minefield defenses into the camp’s perimeter. This technique of prior infiltration was a Viet Cong tactic common to almost every attack on a camp.5

Nothing to do with LAWs or tank fighting, but … interesting).

And there the situation stood. The Army continued to buy LAWs in the hundreds of thousands, and sponsored dozens of improvements great and small. The Soviets would even make a conceptual copy, after their proxies encountered the weapon in Vietnam (where no one was impressed by it) and Angola (where it proved a surprisingly useful antipersonnel weapon, although less so than the RPG-7). The first Soviet version was the RPG-18 and it was closer to the original M72 than to the current version at the time it was introduced, the M72A2.

The LAW would later be replaced in the United States by the combination of the extremely effective Javelin fire-and-forget ATGM, and much-improved LAWs, which continued to be produced as a multipurpose light weapon after most development and production was transferred to Norwegian licensee NAMMO. The LAW is now at M72A7 and counting, but its reputation hasn’t recovered much, and SF teams have preferred to kill enemy armor long before it gets within LAW range — which new weapons like the Javelin and AT-4 make possible. When in 2003 a small Special Forces team (from the same SF Group as was engaged in Vietnam, 5th SFG(A), as it happens) found itself attacked by an Iraqi armored and mechanized force, the Green Berets destroyed so many Iraqi tanks and APCs that what had started as a ferocious attack turned into a headlong rout.

The Special Forces guys used the Javelins. The Iraqis, who fought bravely if futilely, didn’t get the chance to get within LAW range.

But to this day, nobody really trusts the LAW, even though today’s M72A7 is far more effective than its 1968 version. Why not? Lang Vei, where men who trusted the LAW were killed and captured, and the post was lost.

Notes

  1. The offensive began on the Asian lunar New Year, known as Tet in Vietnamese; the Americans had been expecting the NVA to violate the traditional holiday truce — that is, after all, what Communists do — but were taken aback by the scale and fury of the offensive, which was led in many urban locations by local Viet Cong. The offensive was a failure for the NVA — their VC guerrillas were finished as a fighting force for  the rest of the war — but was reported in the US as an NVA victory, based largely on the Saigon hotel bar rumor reporting that characterized the “new breed” of war correspondents.
  2. Errors are too many to list here, but one of the most grievous is using random tubular mock-ups in place of LAWs. They also include the statement that the NVA/VC took the US Embassy during Tet, whereas none even got inside the chancery building (between the Marine guards and responding MPs, the NVA sappers that got inside the wall of the compound were all expeditiously slain); the use of later M16A2 rifles in some scenes; the lack of description of what became of the CIDG that surrendered (they were murdered); the use of wrong vehicles such as late-1980s CUCV trucks and 1970s-vintage Dodge M880s. It appears to be based largely on Phillips’s The Night of the Silver Stars, which seems to have been written in part to rehabilitate the reputation of certain Marine officers at Khe Sanh, who did not cover themselves in glory that night
  3. Kelly, Francis J. “Splash”. Vietnam Studies: US Army Special Forces, 1961-1971, p. 110
  4. Kelly, Francis J., pp. 126-127
  5. Kelly, Francis J., p. 110

Sources

Cash, John A.. Battle of Lang Vei. Chapter from: Cash, John A., Albright, John, and Sandstrum, Allen. Seven Firefights in Vietnam . Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, US Army, 1985. Retrieved from: http://www.history.army.mil/books/vietnam/7-ff/Ch6.htm

Jones, Gregg. Last Stand at Khe Sanh. Boston: Da Capo Press, 2014.

Kelly, Francis J. “Splash”. Vietnam Studies: US Army Special Forces, 1961-1971. Washington: Department of the Army, 1972. Available at: http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/90-23/90-23C.htm

Phillips, William R. Night of the Silver Stars: The Battle of Lang Vei. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1997.

Stanton, Shelby L. Special Forces at War: An Illustrated History, Southeast Asia 1957-1975. Charlotesville: Howell Press, 1990.

Range 15 Movie Trailer (NSFW Warning!)

OK, kids, if we’re going to be banned by the Indiana Pubic Libraries, we might as well be banned for a reason, like Harry’s guys in The Odd Angry Shot. So here’s the trailer to Range 15, which is going to be the most fun had by troops since Tropic Thunder (or maybe Stripes) and the most fun had with zombies since Shaun of the Dead. 

Hat tip, Jonn at This Ain’t Hell. We’ve only watched the trailer once, and are disappointed that there are no bikini snaps. They’d better be in the movie.

There’s a surprising number of real actors in it: William Shatner and Keith David, for example. David has been promoted to Colonel from his stint as a Command Sergeant Major straight man in the ill-fated comedy series Enlisted last year. There are also a number of military celebs: SF and UFC’s Tim Kennedy, a couple of MOH recipients, a whole bunch of amputees (mostly as legless zombies), and Navy Cross recip Marcus Luttrell in what the trailer suggests is the briefest of cameos.

We had wondered how Mat Best, Nick Palmisciano and the gang would get from their typical  YouTube video, which was kind of like a grotty, coarse, GI-humor Monty Python sketch, to a full-length movie. It looks like what they did was construct a plot that’s basically a zombie-laden wrapper for gory action scenes and black-humor comedy sketches. The trailer should give you the idea.

Again, this trailer is NSFW. We mean it. Really NFSFFW. Got it? Good.

Update

OK, you want more? Here’s five minutes behind the scenes. It’s NSFW, too; looks like they had some real This is Spinal Tap moments.

So what else is there to say, but, Tap into America, guys.

Update II

Their Indiegogo campaign is still running. We just thought we’d launch that one into the morning.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: This Ain’t Hell.us

this_aint_hellJonn Lilyea’s veterans’ site, This Ain’t Hell, isn’t really a weapons site, but it’s one of our first stops for checking on veterans’ affairs, and one of the sites that still keeps the heat on veterans’ impersonators and valor thieves.

If you see some drunken assclown claiming to be a Green Beret (what? You’re a hat, dude?) chances are he’s nothing such, like this assclown, and chances are good that Jonn and his writers have the goods on him — like that assclown.

It’s not all valor-stealing aassclowns all the time (although we’ll be returning to the bozo above in a bit). Sometimes there are “feel good stories” about criminals that have been given an opportunity to turn their lives around, like this Florida perv:

Our first stop this morning is the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida where a woman called the tribal police right before her housemate perforated the fellow she found peeking at her from her yard. According to the article the police took the peeper to the hospital to be treated for his six wounds.

Crime doesn’t pay, does it? Perv.

By the way, the valor-stealing assclown mentioned above, before the perv, is currently under arrest for telling cops he was going to kill them. He is also running for President. Why not? Among other things he says he will…

fix k to 12 and higher egurcation

That’s a relief. We had a feeling ergucation was broken.

Anyway, if you’re a vet, you may like This Ain’t Hell. If you’re not… well, we’ll have another W4 next week.

The Limits of Unarmed Self-Defense

So, people are buying guns on the legitimate market to commit crimes in New York?

So, people are buying guns on the legitimate market to commit crimes in New York? What, this robber bought his in 2012 or so?

A liberal lady who wouldn’t be caught dead carrying a gun was nearly caught dead not carrying one in New York City, as a bold stickup crew that targets out-of-state visitors and tourists sent her to the ICU with a shoulder wound.

Andrea Koller, 53, was in critical but stable condition Friday after getting shot by a bandit wearing a ski-mask who pistol-whipped her and her daughter during the attack outside the Hampton Inn.

Koller, author of an impassioned anti-gun letter to the Baltimore Sun in 2013, slugged the armed robber in a Thursday night scuffle that ended with a gunshot tearing through her right shoulder, sources said.

Koller’s 93-year-old father said his daughter’s brave stand against the gunman was typical of her Maryland mettle.

via Baltimore mom shot by robber in Queens was targeted by crew – NY Daily News.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton refused to attribute any blame to the city’s lax law enforcement — this is believed to be the fifth such robbery the same crew, whom his police can’t find, have committed — or revolving-door courts that leave New York teeming with maladjusted felons. Instead, he, like Koller herself, blames the guns in the hands of all those people outside New York, the ones who are not committing any of these unpunished crimes.

“This is America,” Bratton said. “We have 300 million guns and a lot of bad people.”

lot of bad people. Some of them are police commissioners.

James Koller said his daughter, a Baltimore public school teacher, was a liberal and an activist who worked with children and the minority community in the city.

Three years ago, she wrote a letter to the Baltimore Sun decrying gun violence and the gun show loophole that allows criminals to easily acquire weapons.

Frankly, we’d bet 10-to-1 against the contents of Koller’s stolen purse that the gun she was shot with was not acquired through the so-called “gun show loophole,” or in any legal means whatsoever. And we’d bet 100-to-1 that it wasn’t the trigger punk’s first felony.

Bandit in the hoodie's going down for the count. Sad, eh?

Bandit in the hoodie’s going down for the count. Sad, eh?

Funny that these sorts of crimes are much less common where the lowly commoners are allowed to arm themselves against such criminals, and not wait for Bratton’s title-of-nobility-clutching civil servants to get around to investigating “mere” armed robberies and gun assaults.

Compare and contrast the outcome of an armed robbery of a barbershop in South Carolina. Two black Asset Redistribution Engineers tried to hold up the shop, and two black licensed carriers lit ’em up. NYDN. The State (newspaper). WLTX TV 19. Best lines:

“The man who got shot tried to go through the back door and it was jammed up,” said [Barber Brandon] Dreher. “He ended up getting shot again because the door was stuck.”

He was turning his life around, all right, he just didn’t know it. Master Barber Elmurray Bookman and one of his haircut customers came through unscathed, despite the criminals having a rifle or shotgun, a pistol, and the drop on the good guys. The long-gun-armed criminal got away.

Still, in New York, Ms Koller might not have been armed, but she also didn’t submit. She fought back. If more people did this, more thieves would be looking at a career change. But the best way to fight back is the way Mr Bookman and his customer did — kill the guy threatening your life, and the threat is over and he never threatens another life.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Generators

"Gas!" It's not just for WWI and Russian client-states any more.

“Gas!” It’s not just for WWI and Russian client-states any more.

They tell you don’t put a generator indoors. They tell you don’t put it in the garage. Hell’s bells, they even put a series of idiot- and illiterate-proof cartoon graphics on it, so you don’t put it where the colorless, odorless carbon monoxide in its exhaust will get in where you breathe it.

86-year-old Ruby Bell and her husband, 87-year-old Robert Bell, were found dead at home by their son over the weekend. He said the time of death was believed to be Friday night.

Russell Watson, the Duncan Chapel Fire District chief, told The Greenville News that the couple had lost power during the storm and a relative had set up a generator in their garage. Watson said the relative left the garage door propped open with a ladder, but it somehow closed and the generator filled the house with carbon monoxide.

via Coroner: South Carolina Couple Dies of Carbon Monoxide.

As it happens, hemoglobin, the stuff in your red blood cells that takes on oxygen in your lungs and brings it to every cell in your body, delivering the precious oxygen to all the cells that must have O2 or die, likes O2 a lot, but chemically prefers CO — carbon monoxide.

So, get a CO detector (or several), and don’t run engines, whether for cars, snowblowers, generators, anything, inside the house or inside an attached garage.

It will not harm your generator to put it out on the walk or driveway, or for snow to fall on it. But it may harm you not to put it out there.

If all else fails, read the cartoons on the jeezly thing.

Bouncing the Gates

Picture from a ruck in a recent SFQC. Note foreign participants in their own national uniforms.

Picture from a ruck in a recent SFQC. Note foreign participants in their own national uniforms.

Before there was the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course (SFAS), the attrition in the Special Forces Qualification Course was heavily frontloaded in the first phase of SFQC.

In those days (1970s-80s) the course had three phases. Phase I at Camp Mackall, then an austere camp in the wayback of Fort Bragg, comprised a variety of gut checks, physical evaluations, and many, many must-pass gates, everything from survival skills to physical . Phase II was an MOS-specific phase; enlisted men learned one of five skills: light weapons; heavy weapons (in the 1980s the two weapons specialties would merge); military engineering (construction & demolition); medical; or communications. Officers got familiarization training in each skill, plus some specifics on A-Team leadership.

Each specialty had a phase culmination exercise of some kind where they were tested in their skills; weapons men went to the range, commo men went to the Uwharrie Mountains to send and receive traffic back to the mothership at Fort Bragg; medics had a trauma exercise that was a must-pass event.

In Phase III, some classroom instruction in guerrilla warfare prepared student teams — with all the specialties represented — to conduct a complete UW/GW mission, from mission planning to disbanding a victorious guerrilla force and exfiltrating the ODA. This overall culmination exercise or CULEX had different names in different decades; we recall hearing old-timers talk about CHEROKEE TRAIL or GOBBLERS WOODS. But by the mid-seventies, it was known by the name it still bears: ROBIN SAGE.

If you made it to Phase III, you were almost certainly going to graduate. There were exceptions: a captain who proved to be utterly lacking in leadership potential. A couple of good guys who got DUIs when things relaxed in the days before graduation. A guy who, after passing everything, quit because he decided SF was not for him. But most of the men who started Phase III were on A-Teams a couple months later. (Well, unless they were commo men. Many of them got stuck in Signal Platoon for a while). They would be shocked, most of them, to discover that the learning wasn’t over, and “qualified” or not, they had a long way to go to be useful to an ODA. We used to say, “It takes 10 years to make a Special Forces soldier.” Some guys picked it up quicker; some guys never really got the hang of it. If they got through school, they were almost always useful for something.

Rewinding a bit, if you made it to Phase II, you were probably going to graduate. That depended on your capacity for absorbing instruction, and on the difficulty of your specialty. The general consensus was that medics had the hardest training. It was certainly longest, and had the highest attrition. Communicators were most at risk during their first eight weeks, when they had to learn to send and receive International Morse Code by hand at 15 groups per minute.  If they made it through that, learning to cut antennae to frequency and to use and maintain Army communications gear was a piece of cake. After medics and commo men, and sometimes before them, in the rank order of attrition, came the heavy weapons men. Learning to serve on the crews of mortars, recoilless rifles, and other antitank and antiaircraft weapons was not hard, but forward observer and fire direction control procedures were. In the Phase II we attended, there were about 130 Light Weapons and 100 Heavy Weapons trainees. About 100 Light and 7 or 8 Heavy Weapons men completed the phase; the others were recycled to the next class, or, if they were out of second chances with the cadre, trucked across post to the 82nd Airborne Division.

But as we’ve said, most of the attrition came in Phase I. The big widowmaker was land navigation. SF takes land nav very, very seriously — the only units that approach the same level of skill, in our humble opinion, are the cousins at the SAS, and another US special operations unit that has some SF DNA in it. After land nav, the thing that was most likely to get you singing “We’re All American, and proud to be,” with a sad face, was an injury. Phase I was very physical and hard to complete, even if your fitness was perfect. If your fitness was imperfect, “hard” git very close to “impossible.” Not every SF guy was a natural athlete; you could make up for a lot of deficiencies in your physical strength by sheer guts and unwillingness to quit. But you needed some balance of fitness, athleticism and stubbornness, and the more you had of each, the more likely you were to make it out the narrow end of the funnel into Phase II.

One of the events was rucksack-marching as part of PT. “Marching” is a very loose description of it; it usually resembled either Olympic speedwalking or a very, very slow jog, depending on the length of your natural stride; with the added bonus of sixty-five pounds of lightweight gear on your back. You’re also laden with load-bearing equipment (LBE) and rifle, in our day the long-serving M16A1. But because that’s not challenging enough, you also have a few heavier weapons in the squad — an M60, a couple of ancient M14s — and maybe an extra rucksack, just for grins. The extra stuff gets handed off to a new guy every ten minutes or so.

It was not a crime to break step, to curse, to stumble, at least as long as you recovered. There was no singing of Jody calls or airborne cadences. If you had air enough to sing, they’d use it going farther or faster, or both, instead.

The crime was “falling out,” breaking formation and falling behind. If you did that once, they had a way of encouraging you either to quit, or never to fall behind again.

They would play some mind games with the formation, for instance returning to the compound at Mackall, running through the main gates, right to where the trainees would usually stop and drop their gear in formation — and keep on boogie-ing right out the back gate.

Mindslap.

But all good things, all bad things, indeed, all mortal things, must come to an end, and a Camp Mackall ruck march is no exception. By this time, the SF trainees no longer look light a tight military formation, like one of the 82nd companies that shuffle around Fort Bragg with their guidon and road guards, singing airborne cadences. They look more like a gypsy band. Some guys are wrestling with busted ruck straps or flopping boot soles; others are just flat straggling. They’re falling further and further behind as he broken-back snake of trainees loops back around the dusty clay roads of Mackall, and back into the gates.

And as the main body of the formation clears the gates, two instructors swing the gates closed in the face of the stricken-looking stragglers.

They’re about to learn how to bounce the gates. 

The guys inside are sent to turn in their firearms and take their rucks back into their tarpaper shacks. (There are permanent barracks now, but before the relative luxury of tarpaper shacks, there were only tents). They begin to shower. They have a tight schedule, and need to clean up and grab breakfast before their next evolution.

Meanwhile, the stragglers have been told that they have failed and their stuff is weak.

But there is one way that maybe they can redeem themselves.

“Bounce the gates!” an instructor roars. “Make these gates ring! You!” — and he singled out some wretch — “Bounce that gate!”

“Bounce the gate, sergeant? I don’t know what — ”

“Jesus, you’re not just a weakling, but also a dumbass. Bounce the gate means run full tilt and crash into the gate.

The student looks like that’s not the best offer he’s ever been given.

“Do it! Or pack your $#!+ and go home!”

So the trainee runs full tilt into the sturdy chain-link fence. Khawangg! The instructor laugh, and critique the bounce, and have him do it again, while queuing up the next victim. And for the next half hour, or hour, or some time period that feels even longer, the stragglers make repeated kamikaze runs on the locked gate, in ones and twos and, if there are that many, tens, as the instructors laugh and, sometimes, wager.

“Hey, Phil, I bet you Number 107 can make a louder crash than 233.”

“You’re on, Don!”

Bouncing the gates continues until they’re tired of it — not the students. They start off tired. They keep it up until the instructors are tired of it.

The gate bouncers are smoked. Some quit on the spot. Some are injured. Some will keep trying, but the calories they lost from the breakfast they didn’t have time to eat, plus the extra calories they burned in their assault on the gates leave them with an irrecoverable deficit, and tomorrow they’ll be shambling through bouncing-the-gates with half of today’s energy; they’re as good as dropped now, the poor bastards just don’t know it yet.

And there are a few, very few, for whom the worst of bouncing the gates is the shame of it; it burns, and they will not feel that burn again. Tomorrow, they will not fall behind. They will, in fact, never bounce the gates again, and they will walk across the stage and receive their diploma and green beret from some celebrity (in the idiosyncratic way SF defines celebrities; nowadays, it has been formalized as Distinguished Member of the Regiment).

We have thought about this barbaric ritual a lot since seeing it for the first time in 1983 (fortunately, from inside the compound. We never had to bounce, ourselves). And we’re no closer to the answer now than we were then: was it just hazing, or was it a worthwhile, integral part of the Phase I gut check?

How Can You Kill ‘Em When They’re Already Dead?

We like oddities, we like customs. But we’ll be upfront: this is an acquired taste that we have not acquired:

Vamp04

This is… we are not making this up… a vampire-branded M1911. In the suitably already-interred 10mm caliber.

vampyre_5_1

What better caliber for slaying the undead, than a caliber that’s two graves down from the .357 Auto Mag? (The intervening grave? Jeff Cooper, the great exponent of the 10mm).

So 10mm it is. Presumably with silver bullets.

vampyre_5_2

Naturally, Count Drac here comes with his own coffin:

Vamp01

We don’t think even Owen Z. Pitt his ownself wants one of these. But if you are planning a Transylvanian hunt, or if you have to drive by Salem’s Lot to get to your friendly local FFL, you can contact Reeder Custom Guns and still see if they have one of these Kase Reeder Vampyre Slayers on hand.

vampyre_5_3

Reeder is an extremely prolific maker of custom 1911s and revolvers. Hunt around on his website and you can find some single-action revolvers he’s built for Frank Beard of ZZ Top, the best traveling music ever for handling Texas distances.

(We’re partial to baroque for handling New England twisties, and soothing us if some personal calamity has compelled us to engage with Boston traffic. But when the roads are straight, the car is hot, and distances are measured in six-packs, it must be Texas, and the playlist must be ZZ Top’s Deguello).

Self Defense Case in Britain

denby collins

He may look alive, and by some measures he is, but Denby Collins is in a coma after breaking into an English home and losing his fight with the homeowner.

Quite an amazing story in Britain, where self-defense is generally ill thought of by the courts, and defending yourself against a violent criminal in your own home can be seen as reversing culpability entirely.

In a new civil suit by the family of burglar Denby Collins who was left a vegetable after bursting into December 2013, and being wrestled into a headlock by the homeowner, the courts seem to have sided, mirabile dictu, with the victim rather than the criminal, as usual.

Judges ruled that the “householder defence”, which relieves people of the responsibility of making fine judgments about proportionality in the heat of the moment, so long as it is necessary, was compatible with European human rights laws.

In a ruling handed down on Friday, they rejected a challenge brought by the family of a man who was left in a coma after allegedly intruding in a home in the early hours of the morning in December 2013.

Relatives of Denby Collins argued that the law, which was strengthened by the coalition government in 2013, was incompatible with the right to life guaranteed by the European convention on human rights.

While the judges stressed that their decision did not give people “carte blanche” to use any degree of force to protect themselves, they said that force was not necessarily unreasonable and unlawful “simply because it is disproportionate – unless it is grossly disproportionate”.

via Householders can use ‘disproportionate’ level of force against intruders | Law | The Guardian.

The family of Collins is disappointed that they haven’t been able to leverage his spectacular failure as a Wealth Redistribution Engineer into wealth redistribution for themselves:

Without the law in place, Collins’s family believe, “householder B” – who police investigators said restrained the alleged intruder in a headlock – would have been charged for unlawful wounding or another offence of violence.

…Collins’s family said they were “disappointed” and considering an appeal.

Yes, if you’re a family of criminals, you may find that disappointing.

Here in the States, suits like this have had mixed results in the civil courts, but most states’ criminal law allows the threat of deadly force to be met with deadly force.

While it seems that many sympathize with the plight of Denby Collins and his family, consider all the dozens, hundreds or even thousands more home invasions that were in his future, if he hadn’t been stopped for good.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Gravity

wile_e_coyote_gravityYou know who lives at the bottom of the gravity well? If you don’t respect Mr. G., the answer is a grim one: Darwin.

Police say 15-year old Natalya Jimenez and her friends were jumping from roof to roof in Hell’s Kitchen. [a neighborhood in Manhattan, for those of us who live in the real world. -Ed.]

Police responded to a 911 call and found Natalya unresponsive and unconscious.

She was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

“They took my baby girl, she was a good girl, she never got into trouble, she was happy, she was funny, she made everybody laugh,” said Agatha Mangano, the victim’s mother.

“They took?” Who’s this they? The kid did something fatally stupid, and unlike her two friends, didn’t get away with it.

Investigators say Jimenez was with two of her girlfriends, both 14 years old, who were jumping from building to building on 10th Avenue between 47th and 48th streets.

The openings between the buildings are about 4 feet wide.

“My daughter was afraid of heights; she’d never been on the roof here. She wouldn’t even go on the fire escape, so I think foul play is involved and I want justice,” Mangano said.

Gerry Mooney's original poster (From Asimov Mag 1977). Available here.

Gerry Mooney’s original poster (From Asimov Mag 1977). Available here.

You’ve already got justice. Gravity is not just a good idea, it’s The Law. What you want is not “justice,” but someone else to blame and shriek at. Where’s the justice in that?

Police say they were told by a resident to get down, and as they were leaving, the victim fell into an alleyway.

via 15-year old girl dies after falling from roof in Hell’s Kitchen | abc7ny.com.

Fun fact: more falls occur on the way down than on the way up, whether you’re talking about the cellar stairs, a ladder, or Mount McKinley.

“The two girls who were with her, they were crying, they were blaming each other and crying like, ‘Oh it’s my fault, it’s my fault,'” [witness Jessica] Soto said.

Well, it’s really the fault of the deader herself, but having those two idiots feel miserable about it may serve a valuable purpose.

Gravity is serious. One way or another, it will have your respect.