Cognitive Dissonance: A pro-gun article in Time

You know, TIME magazine, famous for wringing its editorial hands over whatever the latest trendy bullshit is.

You know, TIME magazine, famous for wringing its editorial hands over whatever the latest trendy bullshit is.

Thanks to Massad Ayoob, we came across this remarkable article by Dan Baum in Time magazine.

After we got over our first shock, that there still is Time magazine, we had the second shock from Mas recommending the article. Then, we got to the article, where the title was Shock Number 3, or maybe in deserves a Super-Bowl size Roman Numeral: Super Shock III. The title:

Letting Kids Shoot Guns Is Good for Them, by Dan Baum. 28 Aug 2014.

Holy Schnikeys. He said what? In Time magazine? That’s the equivalent of T-34s on Unter den Linden, as a marker of victory in the culture war. That’s the title, though. Was it meant sarcastically? Did the deck row it back? It did not, forsooth:

Marksmanship builds concentration, confidence and trust.

Holy — we said that already. But seriously, Baum makes points that we’ve all seen made before, but in The American Rifleman or Shooting Times. The magazine where this column appeared has a long history of bitter and vehement hostility to guns, gun rights, and gun owners, and to read this column was almost disturbing, in its feeling of having escaped its normal place to invade new habitat, like a gator in the Manhattan sewers. But it’s our gator.

A Google Images search for "TIME gun control cover" finds a few (score) that make it clear which side the mag's on.

A Google Images search for “TIME gun control cover” finds a few (score) that make it clear which side the mag’s usually on.

Add to that, that Baum writes well, clearly, and persuasively. The occasion of the article was the disaster of a range accident by a child conducting a range experience under the guidance of an instructor who made several fatal errors. You’ve certainly heard of the mishap and heard all the usual arguments about it, but Baum takes a radically different tack for someone in the legacy media.  A short taste of his argument near the leading edge of the article:

Shooting a rifle accurately requires children to quiet their minds. Lining up the sights on a distant target takes deep concentration. Children must slow their breathing and tune into the beat of their hearts to be able to squeeze the trigger at precisely the right moment. Holding a rifle steady takes large-motor skills, and touching the trigger correctly takes small motor skills; doing both at once engages the whole brain. Marksmanship is an exercise in a high order of body-hand-eye-mind coordination. It is as far from mindless electronic diversion as can be imagined.

Other activities build skills and concentration, too — archery, calligraphy, photography, painting — but shooting guns is in a class by itself precisely for the reason highlighted by last week’s accident: it can be deadly.

A single-shot .22, while easier to control than an Uzi, can kill you just as dead. So how can such rifles possibly be appropriate for use by children? Again, context is everything. Under proper instruction, shooting is a ritual. You do this for this reason and that for that reason, and you never, ever alter the process, because doing so is a matter of life and death. Learning to slow down and go through such essential steps can be valuable developmentally. The very danger involved gets children’s attention, as it would anybody’s. But there’s an added benefit to teaching children to shoot: it’s a gesture of respect for a group that doesn’t often get any.

It’s not terribly long, so do click over and Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a very insightful and remarkable article — one that may be better to the similar ones we’ve seen in our niche publications, and it will be read by a lot of grey-haired voters who otherwise get their news from the dim light of a TV screen.

It is all the more remarkable in that Baum is not a “gun guy,” and is an opponent of armed self defense and a supporter of gun owners. Here he is on his home ground, in Mother Jones: 

The NRA is a catastrophe for the country. It’s a catastrophe for gun owners because the face that the NRA puts on gun owners is an angry, intransigent, male, extremist, frightening scowl. It makes non-gun owners think anyone that owns a gun is that way because they are the only people who speak. It wasn’t always like this. The NRAgot taken over in 1977, and used to be a marksmanship and safety organization. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s a hideous organization.

Part of it may be an old white guy sense that the world is coming apart because old guys used to run the world and now they feel like they run the world no longer. So they just have to believe the chaos is real, and I think that could well be part of it. I think in many cases the desire to carry the gun comes first and later comes the belief that crime is out of control to justify carrying the gun.

The only thing that’s standing between a bunch of sportsmen together at a range enjoying a nice afternoon pursuing their hobby and a mass killing the whole country will be grieving over is the personal choices of the people at the range.

So you see, he’s neither one of us, nor an ally. He supports registration and licensing, and bans on private manufacture, sales and loans, although he opposes “assault-weapon” and magazine bans; and he opposes armed self defense, even in the home. He himself says he has a, “liberal collectivist worldview.” So the article in Time is even more remarkable, for it’s an argument against all his natural political and media allies. It is an article it took moral courage to write, and you don’t see that every day.

As to the question of the ill-fated instructor Charles Vacca and the 9-year-old with the Mini Uzi, we haven’t addressed it because we think it’s pretty obvious. Mr Vacca made a couple of terrible errors, and died for it. A terrible tragedy for him and his family, and no doubt he never intended such an outcome. Our guess is that the girl will be fine, in the long run. It wasn’t her fault and no decent human, and especially no firearms instructor, could ever say it was. Kids are pretty resilient, if their grown-ups don’t lose their grip. (How many perfectly normal victims of childhood trauma do you know? The answer probably is, “More than you think.”) As to the various people arguing about “Age 9 is too young for…”, what a bizarre, collective argument. Have you no kids? No nephews or nieces? Hell’s bells, no recollections from your own childhood? One child at 9 is physically strong, another feeble and uncoordinated. One is a sensible instruction-follower, another willful and impulsive. Every child is an individual, and has to be treated as one. Sure, some kids hew close to the median, but not on everything. There are many lessons to be learnt from the mishap, but to us the first is: treat every new shooter as an individual, and trust only after you verify.

Not having a gerontologist to go to, we’ll probably never see an issue of Time again. But to see this there was… otherworldly. It was followed by more common Time content: a puff piece about Hillary!, an article following the yoga twists of the Administration’s leading-from-behind Middle East policy, and praising its brilliance with the dewy-eyed fanboy fervor of a Wobbly following Stalin in 1939. So its presence was even more jarring, because it’s not part of an overall change of the tired old rag.

“A Weapon is Where you Find It” — the Legal Angle

According to a court brief reported in the Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog, an 18th-Century definition of “arms” includes: “any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.” The authors of the amicus curiae brief that cited that Supreme Court precedent: Michael Rosman, Michelle Scott, Lisa Steele and Eugene Volokh filed the brief in a Massachusetts case, seeking to overturn the extreme anti-gun state’s ban on nonlethal self-defense weapons.

First, they had to propose a definition of weapons, or, in Constitution-era legal English, “arms.” They choose to draw on the Supreme Court’s Heller decision of 2008, in which the Court wrote (as quoted in the amicus brief):

The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defined “arms” as “weapons of offence, or armour of defence.” Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined “arms” as “any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.”

it is, in our opinion, hard to beat the concept that arms are any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another. That’s part of why we have our When Guns Are Outlawed… series, in which we cite various odds and ends used as murder weapons, or that draw blood in the course of mishaps.

The most important weapon is the human mind. Then, hands and feet, and only then need you look for items that extend the reach, momentum and striking power of your hands and feet, or that launch a projectile. But the decision to fight is tied to the decision to survive. It’s a conscious decision and it happens in your own cerebral cortex. Once that decision has been made, the impulse to arm oneself to increase probability of survival has been born.

Until next post, let’s all keep our wrath under control, and look to our individual and collective survival.

Hey, where do I sign up for Tacticool Magazine?

“Because looking cool is more important than training.”  Heh.

tacticool-magazine

The details of what’s “looking cool” have changed since we stumbled into service on Jimmy Earl Carter’s watch — in those days it was a commando sweater and a Fu Manchu mustache, and a Randall Model 14 and Chippewa boots — but the objective has not.

Here’s to the cool kids everywhere. And when did we become the old man muttering about them on our lawn?

Hat tip, Miguel. Somos agradecidos, hermano.

Sleepy, Seasonable Sunday

It’s Sunday and all we want to do is crawl back under the covers. It’s sunny and seasonably cool here so maybe a sweatshirt is in order if we’re going to take a bike ride along the beach. No one will be in the water this weekend, except the hardiest of the wetsuited surfers.

Funny thing. Surfers do it, and they sometimes overdo it when the waves are really running. But they never, really never, seem to get so hypothermic they need help. Nobody can recall a callout for a cyanotic, nonresponsive surfer.

What!?! Responsible surfers with good judgment? Who ever heard of such a thing?

But apparently there are such things. In any event, they enjoy their sport with no interference, one hopes, from the rest of us. And most of the time, we can do the same. A free country is a good thing.

We will post last week’s TW3 wrap-up sometime today. (Update: It’s up now). And don’t miss last night’s Saturday Matinee. Other than that, we’re in our usual Sunday mode: Peace, out!

That Was the Week that Was: 2014 Week 37

That was the week that was TW3It’s been so long since we’ve done a TW3, we’re not sure we have the ordinal week right.

But we’re too lazy to check. How ’bout that?

We don’t guarantee that the links will be live when the post goes live, and until they are, you’ll have to scroll back to see the posts — the usual is four posts a day except Sunday, which we deviated from a hair this week.

We conduct these weekly post-mortems, time permitting, to keep track of our own performance on the blog, but we hope they’re useful to you. Especially, take a look at the list of articles — you may have missed something that interests you. All past TW3s can be found in the Administrivia category. Enjoy!

The Boring Statistics

With over 70% of the year behind us, we have posted about 950 posts, and we’ve been fairly consistent. This week was an average one, statistically speaking; article count was 27; last  week’s was 22.  Word count was an average-ish 19,000 words, up from 14,000. Seven posts  were over 1,000 words, but none of them over 2,000. (Even 1,000 words is a lot to ask a reader on the web). The mean and median post sizes were 704 and 594, compared to last week’s 756 and 609. (In other words, the difference is nought by noise). The closer those two measures of central tendency are, the more consistent our post sizes are. There was only one sub-100-word post, but 12 total sub-500-word posts. (We’re trying to write more briefly). We exceeded our self-imposed minimum of 19 posts.

Our hit counter, the Rich Counter plugin, failed three weeks ago. Since then, the author has issued a new version (for the first time in years) but it still does not work, and he does not respond to email or web contact, so we’re reluctantly going to have to  declare him dead. We’ll probably have to pick out a new, preferably still supported, plug-in.

So far this year we’ve had 928 blog posts, and over 5,600 comments.   Comments were 161 for the week as of press time, a little lower than we’ve been running in recent weeks. Thanks for commenting!

Most Commented Post of the Week

Our most commented post was When Defense Cuts Go Too Far with 28; Kiddie Diddler Released on Technicality drew 21. Of course, a lot of you were still talking about last week’s Scruff Face post, mostly fervidly defending his 9/11 trutherism.

Referrers

I’d like to thank our top referrers, again, but without stats we can’t do it. Sad puppy face.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

We hope you enjoyed this week’s content. We enjoyed bringing it to you!

Here’s how we did on last week’s promises:

The overdue and the underdelivered:

  1. X A major post on Gerald Bull’s awesome space-capable artillery that seems to have entrenched itself on the back burner. (We actually did work on this a little this past week).
  2.  To post 3 x day x 6 days. Exceeded.
  3. One gun-tech or -industry post and one SOF/UW post per day x 6 days. Depending on how one classifies posts, we did this. We had some good industry posts and broke gun news (amd were the first SOF source to pick up the Rangerette news).
  4.  To post a   X WWWW, a √ TW3, and a √ Saturday Matinee, before COB Saturday. Everything but the Matinee.
  5. One back Saturday Matinee. No, sorry ’bout that.
  6. Our never-finished series on the Greek Civil Wars.

This is pretty much going to be a standing set of promises until we have a reason to improve them.

For Next Week

Our goals are unchanged:

  1. to catch up the long-festering back posts mentioned above, now back up to just two features (Gerald Bull, and the Greek Insurgencies). We also have some other stuff that has sat way too long in the draft queue.
  2. to post three times a day, six days a week, of which:
  3. one gun-tech or -industry post and one SOF, UW, or war-related post up daily.
  4. a WWWW, on Wednesday.
  5. a Saturday Matinee, and a TW3 before the week ends at midnight Saturday.

The draft queue is in the 260s… we’d beat it down to around 250 from its peak of 270-something, but there are always new half-written stories dropping in here. See you with a TW3 on Saturday, if all goes well!

Saturday Matinee 2014 037: Lilyhammer (2012-14, TV)

Lillyhammer S1We’re hesitant to review a TV show that’s still running, as a positive review from this site has been the kiss of death before. Still, we’re not Judas on a mission… more like Hardy expressing his great regard for the dying Admiral. So we will send a kiss the way of Lilyhammer, the consequences be damned.

Lilyhammer is a Netflix production for which two seasons are available online; the first is also available on DVD in the USA. It stars musician and actor Steven Van Zandt as “Frankie the Fixer,” a New York mobster placed in the Witness Protection Program, and, at his own request, in the city he calls “Lilyhammer,” which he took a shine to while watching the Winter Olympics in 1994: Lillehammer, Norway. The constant theme of the show is old-school conservative mobster Frankie, in his new identity as half-Norwegian, half-Sicilian-American Giovanni “Johnny” Hendricksen, clashing with the liberal, touchy-feely culture of modern Norway.

For anyone, it should be fun. For an old Norway hand like all us 11th Group remnants (the group was disbanded 20 years ago last month, which we were remiss in not mentioning. The human sacrifice was part of a Clinton-era jihad against SOF, tucked inside that perennial Washington sacramental rite, defense budget cuts), well, for us it’s must-see TV. It’s the biggest hit ever in Norway, where it’s produced; Van Zandt shares writing duties with Norwegian creatives, and the beautiful winter scenery of Lillehammer and environs is practically a character in the show.

LillyhammerIf you’re a mobster trying to scare people, a nearby Olympic city with all the winter-sports installations has its charms. Being taken for a ride is bad enough, but “a ride” on the luge track is a whole new level of intimidation.

In Norway, things are a little different across the board, but enough like the USA that a visit to Norway — especially an extended visit, or a period as an expatriate — trips Yanks into a cognitive Uncanny Valley. Scandinavia had a huge impact on the USA, on the structure of towns across the country, on accents and culture in a region. The fabled upper-midwest civic engagement we know today as “Wisconsin (or Minnesota) nice” has its roots in Scandinavia (many of the emigrants from Sweden and Norway alike carried Swedish passports, as the two nations did not separate until 1905. Naturally, they did it bloodlessly and amicably — very Scandinavian). In any event, the producers of the show are keenly aware of this Uncanny Valley effect and they manage to inflict it both on the characters (for the USA is as foreign-but-familiar to the Norwegian characters as Lillehammer is to Americans) and the audience.

As Johnny applies Mob Way techniques to solve Norwegian problems (waitlisted at kindergarten!), trouble in the form of brutal British mobsters, his old compatriots from La Cosa Nostra, or incorruptible cops, continues to find him.

Acting and Production

Van Zandt took a risk in this show of being typecast as a mobster, after his star turn as Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano’s right-hand consigliere. Another Soprano alumnus, Tony Sirico, shows up in Season 2, playing Frankie/Johnny’s brother the priest. But the real strength of the show is in its Norwegian cast, playing characters who range from a homey police chief turned crime novelist, to two hard-of-thinking brothers, to a dirty old welfare bureaucrat.

This illustrates some of the ensemble cast -- and the fondness for visual quotes, here from McHale's Navy.

This illustrates some of the ensemble cast — and the fondness for visual quotes, here from McHale’s Navy.

The producers and directors have a lot of fun with the show, and no doubt we miss some of the snarky little quotes they insert from classic films. In Season 2, for example, we’ve seen The Godfather crop up, and a hilarious homage to Saving Private Ryan. These scenes aren’t wedged it — they advance the plot, but they’re also the crew’s way of having a little fun, and inviting the audience into an in-joke with them.

Since much of the dialogue is in Nynorsk, you’re going to need the subtitles.

Accuracy and Weapons

The film is art, not current events, and weapons are a sideline to the characters and story. There are only a few howlers. (For example, in one Season 2 episode, “Johnny” is teaching his infants to shoot a revolver… when a Norwegian friend appears shocked, he says not to worry, the safety’s on. Er, yeah. What’s next, a suppressed Model 29?

British and American criminals are shown having no qualms about violating Norwegian gun laws. At one point early in the first season, Johnny shows how he has smuggled a revolver into the country. (Pro tip: that will not work in real life. You will wind up in Norwegian prison, which, on the upside, is not all that bad).

The bottom line

Key characters include Johnny Henriksen and Torgeir Roar.

Key characters include Johnny Henriksen and Torgeir Roar.

Lillehammer is good TV — maybe great TV. Van Zandt would be entertaining doing almost anything on screen, but he’s ably supported by a brilliant cast of mostly Norwegian players. Wry fun is poked at both the ignorance of a typically insular American — at one point, Johnny describes a lefty Norwegian character as “redder than a baboon’s ass,” and on learning he studied in Prague, says it’s no wonder he got that way, hanging out in Russia with the commies. (What he says on being informed that Prague is not in Russia is even funnier). But there are also plentiful jokes made at the expense of Norwegian immigration do-gooders and integration-resistant immigrants, hard-of-thinking criminals, and bumbling cops.

For an interview with Van Zandt about the show, see this link at Rolling Stone. They’re hopeless when they write about national security or international affairs these days, but pop culture for the boomer generation is their sweet spot.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • Amazon.com DVD page:

http://www.amazon.com/Lilyhammer-Season-Steven-Van-Zandt/dp/B00ECL7ZGA/

  • IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1958961/

  • IMFDB page: ikke (none).
  • Rotten Tomatoes review page: none.
  • Wikipedia  page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilyhammer

Breaking: Rangerettes, two different kinds

rangerette-benjaminA Friday night bad-news blast launched the Army’s latest iniquity into the weekend. The fix continues to be in for sending women to Ranger school in the Army. Indeed, they’ll be coming on two different pathways, both designed to use the halo of Ranger School and the Ranger Tab to burnish the packets of female careerists.

The first is for actual attendees at the school.

First, the Army is seeking female soldiers who want to attend Ranger school as students. Women in the ranks of specialist through major can apply. They must meet the physical qualifications and prerequisites required to attend Ranger School.

Those prerequisites are:

Physical requirements to attend Ranger school include completing at least 49 pushups in two minutes, at least 59 sit-ups in two minutes, at least six pull-ups, and a five-mile run in 40 minutes or less. Candidates also are required to complete a combat water survival assessment consisting of equipment removal and 15-meter swim in the Army Combat Uniform and boots.

These physical qualification tests must be done within 90 days of reporting to Ranger school.

Enlisted applicants must have a standard General Technical score of 90 or higher and 12 months or more active-duty service remaining after completion of Ranger school.

Those are not “fog a mirror,” but they’re also not insuperable requirements for reasonably fit women, especially the way most Army units grade female pushups — a nod of the head will do. But half the men who enter the course, after meeting that standard (with real pushups, even), drop. How’s the Army going to keep its hothouse flowers from wilting? Well, they’ll have a cadre of “observers” watching to make sure the gals are not held to the same standard as the guys.

Second, female soldiers can volunteer to serve as observers and advisors to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. These slots are open to staff sergeants through master sergeants, chief warrant officers 2 and 3, and first lieutenants through majors.

These volunteers will not be Ranger instructors, and they won’t evaluate students in the course.

Nope. They’ll just be The Sisterhood’s eyes and ears, and any RI who writes up a dud female for a Major Minus Spot Report, or who fails a female 2LT for the things that 2LTs frequently bolo on a graded patrol, will have a notation in his file that may say some other words but will translate to: “Sexxxxxist! Career over.”

Of course they’ll have to meet high standards:

Women who volunteer to serve as observers must undergo a selection process that includes a fitness test, land navigation, a combat water survival assessment, an operations order test, as 12-mile road march with a 35-pound ruck, and review boards, according to the Army.

Note how much lower the standards than the ones for attendees. Translation: “We expect them to fog a mirror.” Note that this PT test is only to the much lower sex-normed PT standards. After all (to put it in language the President might understand), we can’t expect the Rangerettes to drive from the men’s tees.

The Army wants packets by 10 Oct 14 and the first graduates participants (can’t get ahead of the narrative) will be identified in December.

If approved, the Ranger course assessment will have male and female soldiers training together, according to the Army.

“If approved.” How droll. Let’s see, what are the odds that something that’s being dictated — including its outcome — by the E Ring suits to the Army chain of command will not be “approved”?

The standards will remain the same, and there will be no change to current performance requirements or graduation standards, officials said.

We have always been at war with Eastasia. The sugar ration has been raised from 25 to 20 grams. The standards will remain the same. I promise I’ll respect you in the morning.

“We will be prepared to execute the assessment professionally and objectively if directed,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia, in a statement.

The one fact in that whole paragraph is that Fort Benning is in Georgia. This is a command-directed outcome, and the assessment will produce the outcome directed, and Miller thinks we’re ammunition-handler material if he expects us to believe him. (Well, with the press, he may have a point).

All female candidates selected for the course will be required to attend the Army National Guard Ranger Training and Assessment Course at Fort Benning before the start of their Ranger school class.

Translation: “We’re so sure this is going to be a success, that we’re going to run a prephase to see just how much coddling and how heavy a thumb on the scale will be required to achieve that success!”

via Women invited to apply for Ranger School | Army Times | armytimes.com.

UPDATE 15 Sep 14

We continue to follow this up with more reporting. Here’s a little cold water of truth on the mating dogs of the press and their Kurdish Women Warriors meme that’s going around. More to follow.

Today Only: Tales from the Teamhouse Volume III, Free Download

tales from the teamhouse IIIForget whether this one has a Hognose story or two in it, think they’re in earlier ones. That means this one’s probably better. These were collected back in the 1990s and published under the auspices of the late Ben “The Plunderer” Roberts, a Vietnam SF soldier turned real-estate entrepreneur.

These are a series of books of stories and reminisces of SF soldiers from the 1950s to today. Normally they’re available in paperback, but the Kindle format is new. A great many of the original authors are now no longer with us, including SGM Reg Manning, CSM Rudy Cooper (a three-war vet), and many others.

Today only, Kindle download of Volume III is free at this link. (As long as the price shows as $0.00, click the “Buy Now” button).

Tales from the Teamhouse Volume II is also available on Kindle, but they cost actual money. Some grifter thinks he’s going to get $350 for the paperback of Volume II… good luck with that. Volume I is only available in hard copy at the moment.

There’s always some rumors about a Volume IV. For that to happen, I think Old Mountain Press (run by Tom Davis, a Navy and Army SF vet) needs to see that Volumes I-III have a following.

Breaking: Pennsylvania State Police Attacked! (Updated x3)

Pennsylvania_State_PolicePress are reporting that two members of the State Police were attacked outside their barracks at shift change by an unknown shooter or shooters, who seem to have escaped. The shots hit at about 11:30PM last night, and a large area remains under intensive investigation with many roads closed, including the east-west Interstate 84 (it may have opened by now).

The press reports are unclear about whether any specific suspect is being sought at this time.

These reports will quickly be obsolete, so your best bet is news searches, but here are a few:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/13/pennsylvania-police-barracks-shooting/15574705/

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/report-shooting-pennsylvania-police-barracks-25477646

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/13/348181800/2-troopers-shot-at-pennsylvania-state-police-barracks

The victims have yet to be identified. The wounded trooper is reported to be in stable condition, which beats “critical,” anyway. (Update: he’s expected to live. Whew).

Another State Trooper, Joshua Miller, was killed in the area in 2009, but he was shot by a suspect after a car chase. This incident appears to have been a deliberate targeting of the state police. The barracks is not located near anything else of significance, so someone went there to shoot cops. Specific cops? These individual cops, for some real or imagined reason? What’s his motivation? All unknown at this time, and anything would be speculation.

We’ve beaten up on the Pennsylvania State Police before for their pistol OCD. However, at this time, we hope the trooper makes a full recovery, the cops quickly nail their shooter, and we extend our condolences to the family of the fallen trooper.

UPDATE

Police have a “person of interest” in custody. No further information. They haven’t stopped searching

But is this case connected to two previous murders that the PSP and Kentucky police already suspect are connected? We’re referring to the ambush murder of Bardstown, Kentucky police officer Jason Ellis, previously covered here (and here), and the highway murder of Timothy Davison, who was on the phone to police as he was chased down across Maryland and Pennsylvania and killed in what has been ascribed to violent road rage.

UPDATE II

State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan identified the murdered trooper as Corporal Bryon Dickson of Dunmore, PA. Dickson is survived by his wife, Tiffany Dickson, a nurse, and by his two young sons. He recently transferred from Philadelphia. The wounded man, Trooper Alex Douglass, is in critical but stable condition after surgery. The police have corrected the time of the shooting to 2250 hrs.

The shooter seems to have gotten away clean after firing two shots. Noonan confirmed the PSP were talking to a “person of interest” but said that the man was not a suspect. Noonan would not confirm this person’s identity, but state police spox previously identified him as one Jeffrey Hudak, 48. The police put out a wire with his birth date and license tags.

UPDATE III

Paramedics responding to the scene reported being taken under fire, according to news reports.

In the recording of dispatches between paramedics and Pike County 911 operators, the paramedics request the incoming helicopter head to a different meeting spot.

“We are under fire. We are moving the landing zone to the middle school,” a responder is heard saying in the recordings.

The first helicopter takes off with a patient within 30 minutes, the report says, but the second is grounded — that patient didn’t make it.

Transcript and audio:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/09/pike_county_shootings_pa_state.html

This is not good. But if the guy who did it did it alone, and did not run his mouth, he’s probably going to get away with it. Of course, if this is his first time, it won’t be his last, and sooner or later he’s going to screw up and get caught.

Tracking Tease

Got a phone call yesterday from a friend at a range in West Virginia. Three guys including a former SF man, a former SEAL (range officer), and a dealer/gunsmith/armorer without military service cracked the box on a new TrackingPoint .300 WM rifle on a long range.

This is file photo a standard TP XS3 rifle. Don't know yet what exact model our guys had.

This is file photo a standard TP XS3 rifle. Don’t know yet what exact model our guys had.

Quick take-aways:

  • Best packaged gun any of them had ever seen. In the gunsmith’s experience, that’s out of thousands of new guns.
  • Favorably impressed with the quality of the gun and the optic. It “feels” robust.
  • It’s premium priced, but with premium quality. Rifle resembles a Surgeon rifle. “The whole thing is top quality all the way, no corners cut, no expense spared.” They throw in an iPad. The scope itself serves its images up as wifi.
  • First shot, cold bore, no attempt to zero, 350 meters, IPSC sized metal silhouette: “ding!” They all laughed like maniacs. It does what the ads say.
  • Here’s how the zero-zero capability works:  they zero at the factory, no $#!+, and use a laser barrel reference system to make automatic, no-man-in-the-loop, corrections. Slick.
  • The gun did a much better job of absorbing .300WM recoil than any 300WM any of them have shot. With painful memories of developmental .300WM M24 variants, that was interesting. “Seriously, it’s like shooting my .308.”
  • By the day’s end, the least experienced long-range shooter, who’d never fired a round at over 200 meters, was hitting moving silhouettes at 850 yards. In the world of fiction where all snipers take head shots at 2000m with a .308, that’s nothing, but in the world of real lead on target, it’s huge. 
  • It requires you to unlearn some processes and learn some new ones, particularly with respect to trigger control. But that’s not impossible, or even very hard.
  • They didn’t put wind speed into the system, and used Kentucky windage while placing the “tag.” This worked perfectly well.
  • An experienced sniper or long range match shooter, once he gets over the muscle memory differences, will get even more out of the TrackingPoint system than a novice, but
  • A novice can be made very effective, very fast, at ranges outside of the engagement norm, with this system.

As Porky Pig says, for now, “Ib-a-dee-ib-a-dee-ib-a-dee-That’s all, folks!” But we’re promised more, soon.

Everybody is really impressed with the Tracking Point system. No TP representative was there and as far as we know this is the first report on a customer gun in the field, not some massaged handpicked gunwriter version. And as far as we know this is the first report on a customer’s experience with both experienced school-trained snipers and an inexperienced long-range shooter. The key take-away is the novice’s ringing of the 850m bell on moving targets. That’s Hollywood results without the special effects budget, and with real lead on real target. No marketing, no bullshit, just hits.

We asked about robustness. This isn’t like the ACOG you can use as a toboggan on an Afghan stairway and hold zero (don’t ask us how we know that one). But it seemed robust to the pretty critical gang shooting it Friday.

We wish Chris Kyle were here to see this. Maybe he already has!

Stand by for more on TrackingPoint, and on more on this range complex when the principals are willing to have some publicity.