Stacking The Odds In Your Favor

October 16th, 2014

This happened some time ago, right outside of my apartment complex.  Since I am sure the news article will rot off after a time, I will mention some details.

An idling car was approached by two men, who shot the driver four times with what sounded to me like a 9mm auto.  The now driverless vehicle ended up a few dozen yards from the killing spot, stalling out after destroying a large utility box.

utility box

This took place right across the street from where I live, and the suspects ran through my apartment complex in order to evade the police.  It seems that they passed within feet of my front door.

Not that this had anything to do with me.  I was just climbing from the shower at the time when I heard the shots, and I paused for a few seconds with my hand on my gun to see if anyone would try to break through my locked front door.

man in shower

It was probably best for all concerned that they were just passing though.

I’m sure most of you, gentle readers, are wondering if I have become seriously unhinged.  Am I so paranoid that I carry defensive firearms into the bathroom in case of violent criminal attack while indisposed?

gun in bathroom

While true that I am armed in the most private of places within the home, I must confess that it is a habit I picked up during a time when I received a number of death threats from criminals who were trying to warn me off from training people who were going to testify against them.  That was more than two decades in the past, but I don’t think it is a bad habit to have.

There are a number of products available which are designed to secure a firearm in the shower, keeping it snug and dry while still close at hand.  I can’t recommend the best, as I have never tried any.  I merely place my defensive handgun next to the sink and cover it with a clean, dry towel while bathing so the steam from the shower won’t cause it to rust.

Is this post a suggestion that you, dear reader, ought to consider going armed to the toilet?  Not necessarily.  It all depends on your own unique circumstance.

One of my students was not only the victim of a particularly brutal home invasion, but she was also confined to a wheelchair.

elderly-wheelchair-160x300

As criminals had already attacked her inside of her house, and she also suffered from reduced mobility, the bathroom was a place of extreme anxiety for her.  What if they came back, but this time she was out of her chair and in the bathtub?

I eased her anxiety by replacing the bathroom door, a flimsy interior type, with a sturdy metal exterior design.  I reinforced the hinges, reinforced the striker plate next to the doorknob, and installed a deadbolt on the inside.  I wasn’t too happy about the frame which supported the door, but wasn’t equipped to tear apart the walls in order to replace the framing studs.  Even so, by the time I was done the bathroom door was only slightly less formidable a barrier than the front door to her house.  Since she was going to make sure to take her own defensive handgun into the bathroom, along with a cell phone to summon the police if need be, I figured it was a pretty good job.

So why do I take my defensive arm in to the bathroom with me, since I do not use a wheelchair and the days of death threats are half my life in the past?  The only thing I can say in my defense is that you wouldn’t be asking that question if you happened to live in my neighborhood!

I Have No Idea What Is Going On In This Picture

October 10th, 2014

man in panda costume carries actual baby panda

To Overpenetrate, Or Not To Overpenetrate? That Is The Question!

October 9th, 2014

How do firearms force a violent criminal to break off their attack?  They do so in a variety of ways, both physical and mental, but the physical side mostly comes down to disrupting the vital internal organs of the bad guy.  To do this, the bullet must tunnel deep enough into a human body in order to reach those organs.

digging machine from the movie at the earths core

The FBI recommends that the bullet punches through at least twelve inches of ballistic gelatin in order to reach the vitals.  Most of the popular defensive calibers certainly have adequate velocity to perform this job.

popular defensive calibers ballistic gel comparision

So 12 inches are the low end, but the FBI also doesn’t like rounds which exceed 18 inches when fired into ballistic gelatin.  More than a foot-and-a-half and there is a danger of the bullet going all the way through the criminal, and striking someone on the other side.

Is this a big problem?  Is there a considerable chance of fatally wounding an innocent person with the same bullet you just used to shoot a raging violent madman?

The answer is that there really isn’t a problem when one sticks to the popular defensive calibers.   The vast majority of handguns just don’t have the power to be lethal if they first have to plow their way through the torso of a full grown human being.  Just as soon as the bullet should hit something heavy and wet, such as the chest of a violent criminal, it will start to slow down very quickly.  Not only that but the bullet will also start to come apart, deform, and tumble around some.  It won’t be very aerodynamic after doing its main job of perforating the bad guy’s gizzard.

expanded hollowpoint bullets

Note that this is true of handguns, which are puny and weak compared to most rifle calibers.  But are there handguns out there which have enough energy to perform like rifles?

Well, there are a few.  One can even find a few specialty handguns using small calibers which have extreme penetration.  I don’t consider them to be a good choice for armed self defense against human attackers, though.

So the bottom line is that one should stick to the popular standards, and practice so they have a greater chance of hitting the target.

Ninja Attack!

September 22nd, 2014

From the news of the weird file comes this developing report.  It seems that two women, armed with knives and stun guns, invaded a private home in Utah in order to kidnap a 15 year old girl.  They were swaddled in dark clothes at the time, and resembled ninjas during the attack.

ninja suit with dagger

Why did they want to abduct the young girl?  It seems that she is the victim of a sexual assault, and the two women were trying to remove her so she would not be able to testify against the accused.

Who is the accused?  It seems that he is the boyfriend of both of them.  Dress up like a ninja to conduct a home invasion and kidnapping, become enamored of a pedophiliac boyfriend.  Something tells me that these two constantly struggle with some seriously bad judgement.

The plan to invade a home and kidnap a child was an extremely poor one, but at least the criminals decided to make the attempt on a night when the weather was foul.  One of the victims reported that a storm brewing outside helped to hide the noise made by the creeping felons.

‘Twas a dark and stormy night ….

cat and dog snuggling on a dark and stormy night

What foiled the crime?  One of the legal residents of the home heard a creaking sound.  When he went to investigate, he was confronted by the two ninjettes.

Even so, they were armed with knives and stun guns while his hands were empty.  A potential tragedy was avoided when another resident came to his rescue, wielding a katana.

katana demotivational

When they realized that they were outclassed in the reach department, the two wannabe master criminals allowed themselves to be subdued.  After all, they had brought knives to a sword fight!

So why didn’t they cut up the unarmed man with their knives before the sword made an appearance?  That is another detail which indicates that the whole operation wasn’t very well thought out.

Let us surmise for a moment that the criminals were victorious, and they managed to abduct the child from her bed.  What then?  The alleged sexual assault victim would not be able to testify, but it stands to reason that the police and FBI would make a beeline for the two since the main reason for the girl to disappear would be to prevent her day in court.  Were the home invaders planning on murdering the girl in order to silence any potential witnesses to the kidnapping?

Considering the level of intelligence displayed by the perps so far, I am willing to bet they were planning on taking the girl home with them until after the trial.  You know, stash the victim in the first place the authorities would want to search since the two people with the greatest motive to kidnap the girl happen to live there.  But that doesn’t mean that one of them didn’t have a flash of relative brilliance, and the abduction was simply a prelude to an unmarked grave out in the woods somewhere.  I would have to say that the young lady at the center of all of these shenanigans is very lucky to have so many family members standing at the ready when they were most needed.

So why didn’t anyone involved have a firearm?  After all, the level of motivation of everyone involved is pretty high.  The two accused home invaders were willing to commit several major felonies to aid the object of their affections, while the family of the girl would want to protect her from further assaults.  It seems to reason that someone along the line would have purchased a gun, either to have at hand during the kidnapping or to stand guard over the victim.  Why all the swords and knives?

Ever since 1968, it has been a violation of Federal law for anyone convicted of a felony to be in possession of ammunition or firearms.  Something tells me that at least a few of the people involved in this sordid tale fit that description.

Of course, just about all of my thoughts on the matter are pure speculation.  Details are sketchy, and I doubt we will ever know all the details.

How Much Ammo Is Enough?

September 18th, 2014

The title of this essay is a question I get all the time!  That is why I regularly post my thoughts on the subject.  It is my hope that my regular readers will excuse this exercise in boring their socks off.

So what is the answer at the most basic?  It is pretty much the same answer for most questions concerning defensive gun use, that being “Whatever makes you feel comfortable.”

There are, however, some nuances to explore.

Most of my students like to brag about how much ammo they carry with them.  “I have thirty-two rounds with me at all times!”  Is there some magic number we should strive for?

taurus millenium pro

Not as such, since some guns hold more ready rounds than others.

snub nosed 38 with six rounds

Nor do we have to pile it on, cramming spare magazines and speedloaders in every pocket and belt pouch.

pile of 9mm parabellum cartridges

The one thing to keep in mind is that we are carrying a handgun for emergency self defense, and not looking to take on Satan’s hordes as they vomit forth from the open portal of Hades.  After all, if you knew trouble was coming then you should leave the area at speed while calling the police, and not stand around to see if you can take down the bad guys all by yourself with the little handgun you have tucked away under your clothes.

Extra ammo is heavy!  Strapping all that weight to yourself is uncomfortable, as well as requiring some reinforcement for your clothing so your pants down drop down to your ankles while you are in the store to buy milk for the baby.

RED SUSPENDERS

What I recommend to my students is at least one full reload for your defensive handgun.

snubbie with speedloader and spent brass

taurus pt111 with magazine

If that is not enough, then by all means you should carry two!

S&W Model 625 with two speedloaders

(Picture source.)

But, after that, it gets to a point of diminishing returns.  Too much weight, too much gear to keep track of, just too much.

multiple speedloaders

Does this mean there is some sort of rule you have to follow?  Not to my knowledge.  If you don’t want to bring along any extra ammo except what the gun carries, then more power to you.  If you want to hang more than two reloads from your clothes, then that is just fine with me!

All I’m doing here is passing along what seems to work for most people.  It just might work for you, too.

 

The Ultimate Distraction

September 17th, 2014

flirting cop loses gun

Bling Up Your Gun

September 17th, 2014

I worked as a fingerprint technician for my local police force some decades back.  It surprised me when the officers would tell me about how criminals would try to pretty up their guns.

criminals-and-the-guns-they-carry-box-full

(Picture source.)

It wasn’t as if street level thugs would send their guns off for gold engraving.  Instead they would paint them with nail polish, or wrap the grip with a brightly colored tape.  If they used a shotgun to guard their crack house, then they would favor sidesaddle ammo carriers with different colored shells.

different color shells in shotgun ammo carrier

Some of this stuff would not effect the reliability of the firearm, but the painting and nail polish certainly could.  Lucky thing that most criminals are dirt stupid.

Decorating guns on the cheap is certainly nothing new.  Frontiersmen in North America would buy shiny brass tacks at the fur company trading post, and while away cold evenings in their rude shacks by carefully driving them into the stocks of their muskets to produce eye catching patterns.

musket with brass tacks in stock

That sort of thing pales besides how the rich spend huge sums in order to create works of art out of functional self defense tools.

Our good friend knirirr has been kind enough to clue us in to this web page, which discusses how the famed jewelry and luxury goods firm of Tiffany & Co engraved a number of guns in the period from 1880 to 1910.

Tiffany-Handgun-11

The material most commonly used was silver, the worksmanship is without peer, and the engraving is amazingly detailed.  Click on the link to view a sample of these works of art.

Of course, I am a most practical man.  The thing that springs foremost into my mind when seeing such silver masterpieces is that they would be just the thing if I ever had to pistol whip a werewolf.

Something Lies Dead, And Close Beneath The Ground

September 9th, 2014

mushrooms 1

mushrooms 2

mushrooms 3

Read the rest of this entry »

Two Is The Best You Can Manage

September 8th, 2014

One of the  constant problems I come across during my charity self defense course is how students are convinced that they know the basics of gun handling through video games and movies.

matrix movie shootout with two submachineguns

(Please click picture for full sized version.)

This usually crops up in that the student is convinced they are an expert shot before they ever pick up a firearm for the first time.  After all, they see their media heroes wielding a handgun with one hand and never missing, even though the actor never takes time to steady their aim.  Isn’t that reality?

clint eastwood as dirty harry

Although it hasn’t come up too often, some of my students were fans of video games.  These people always want to carry a bunch of guns.

a whole lot of guns

There is a real world precedent, as those who like small revolvers will often carry a spare.  This is more to allow them to increase their ready firepower than to have guns ready in case different threats pop up.

two revolvers in pocket holsters with draw hooks

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I Can’t Square This Circle

September 2nd, 2014

A journalist conducted a little social experiment earlier this year in London, England.  She instructed her young daughters to look lost and scared, and then placed them in the path of busy shoppers.  Over 600 adults walked by the waifs, avoiding contact of any kind.  TV cameras recorded the shameful display.

little girl lost in a london shopping mall

The main reason why adults in the UK refused to even consider helping a distressed child in public is said to be due to pedophile hysteria, or an extreme prejudice against adults who interact with children.  It would appear that even the most innocent and helpful of actions are seen only as overtures of a sexual predator to recruit new victims.

This sort of hypervigilance, and rush to condemn innocent adults, has been a problem in the United Kingdom for decades.  Adults, particularly males, have been extremely reluctant to approach children that clearly needed help because of fear of arrest.  This extreme prejudice has resulted in some unintended consequences beyond the preventible deaths of children, as males have avoided professions where they have to interact with children for fear of being branded a sexual predator.

I have always wanted to travel, particularly the United Kingdom.  One of the questions I have puzzled over is what to do if I came across a child in distress, should I ever get the funds together to make the trip.  My response has always been to do what I would do if I was at home in the US, and strive to protect and aid the child in whatever way I could while summoning help from the proper authorities.  If this meant that I was to spend some time in a jail cell for my actions, then that would be fine with me!

But then news of a town in Great Britain named Rotherham started to hit the airwaves.  At least 1400 children were the victims of sexual abused over a 17 year period, and the police knew about it!  They just turned a blind eye, sometimes even arresting parents who were trying to save their children from such vile crimes.

So does this mean the pedophile panic in the UK was all a sham, and they actually welcome sexual predators who victimize children?  Or is it just in Rotherham?

Any way you look at it, there are some mixed signals being sent.