Monday, January 31, 2011
Rabbit Creek is definitely a lot more organized and rules-oriented than Birchwood. It puts many people off, but I think it's probably necessary. Birchwood is broken up into a lot of different ranges, each holding 7-10 shooters. Usually you can get one to yourself, or share with maybe two or three people. Since there are so few people per range, you don't need an official range master - just communicate with the guy at the far end when you need a cease fire and all's good. Rabbit Creek is only three ranges (not counting the training area or shotgun), and each range holds 17-20 shooters - and the rifle range was full! With that many people, it definitely helped to have a range master calling the cease fires. I still prefer Birchwood, but I'm very introverted.
Anyway, we ran a few mags through our carry guns as we do whenever we go to the range. Then it was on to rifles. Being small and left-handed, finding a rifle that fit me was difficult, especially because I didn't want to spend much money (I'm saving up for a nice O/U). A few weeks ago we happened upon a used Winchester 1894 with youth stock in good condition and grabbed it. I was feeling like crap, so I didn't actually sight it in, but just putting a few rounds through it was grouping quite nicely. Almost no recoil, too. A sweet gun, especially for the price I paid. I'm quite satisfied so far. Should work nicely for bear, which is what we're aiming for this spring.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Alaska state law mentions firearms and intoxication in a few contexts:
- Misconduct Involving Weapons (MIW) V (Class B Misdemeanor): "Knowingly possesses a loaded firearm on the person in any place where intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption on the premises." It is an affirmative defense if (1) the firearm is concealed and (2) the place is a restaurant and the defendant didn't drink there. The weapon is only considered loaded if (1) there is a round in the chamber or (2) there is a loaded magazine/cylinder in the firearm (even if no round is chambered).
- MIW IV (Class A Misdemeanor): "Possesses on the person, or in the interior of a vehicle in which the person is present, a firearm when the person's physical or mental condition is impaired as a result of the introduction of an intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance into the person's body..."
- MIW III (Class C Felony): "knowingly sells or transfers a firearm to another whose physical or mental condition is substantially impaired as a result of the introduction of an intoxicating liquor or controlled substance into that other person's body;"
- MIW III (Class C Felony): "violates AS 11.46.320 (Criminal Trespass) and, during the violation, possesses on the person a firearm when the person's physical or mental condition is impaired as a result of the introduction of an intoxicating liquor or controlled substance into the person's body;"
WHAT IS "INTOXICATED?"
The next question is, "what is intoxicated?"AS 11.81.900, "intoxicated means intoxicated from the use of a drug or alcohol." I seem to recall something about not using the word you're trying to define in the definition, but oh well.
A more precise definition can be found in the DUI statute, which is in an entirely different title. That statute basically establishes a 0.08 limit, with increasing penalties as the detected limit goes up. Because it is in a different title, that definition doesn't apply to our weapons cases. Morever, I believe that the DUI statute allows you to be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below 0.08 if you are "under the influence" which is up to the discretion of the arresting officer.
We next turn to state law. The Alaska Law Review published a note on the subject (PDF warning), but it primarily focuses on the drug-firearm nexus. Still, for those purposes, the Alaska Supreme Court has established a similar standard to the feds which is actually a higher bar than some states. The Courts have held that there must be a nexus for the MIW statutes to come into play: for example, if someone violates a drug law, if they have a loaded firearm in another location, then unless it somehow emboldened them, then MIW isn't a factor. The court pointed out that to rule otherwise would basically drastically increase drug sentences for anyone who happened to be a gun owner as well. The court laid out the following factors as some important consideration (non exhaustive) for establishing the nexus:
(1) the type of drug activity conducted; (2) the accessibility of the firearm; (3) the type of firearm; (4) whether the firearm was stolen; (5) the status of the defendant’s possession (legitimate or illegal); (6) whether the firearm was loaded; (7) the proximity of the firearm to the drugs or drug profits; and (8) the time and circumstances under which the gun was foundThe Alaska state courts have effectively tied MIW statutes for drugs to Federal Section 924 criteria, which currently use a "in furtherance of" test. That is, possession of the firearm must somehow further the drug activity (which is a loose, elastic standard informed by the factors above).
So, while there is some case law on the drug side, there is precious little on the alcohol side. Sure, there are lots of DUI cases, but I could not find a single case discussing Misconduct Involving Weapons. That is probably because MIW is usually charged when the person is obviously highly intoxicated, or already committed some other sort of crime. Contrary to what our opponents might think, this law unfortunately doesn't prevent much crime; it is useful as a sentencing enhancement after the fact, however.
So, for the purposes of MIW, what counts as the limit? I would say that you are intoxicated for purposes of MIW if (1) you have had anything alcoholic in any quantity and (2) a police officer thinks you are. If there is a "nexus" between your alcohol and the firearm then that may be a factor as well; for example, illegal drinking in a dry village with a firearm probably means you're screwed. Over 0.08 would certainly fit most people's definition of intoxicated as well; I wouldn't be surprised for an arresting officer to pull out the breathalyzer. You don't have to take the test but refusal means revocation of driving privileges and can even be a crime up here due to our tough DUI laws.
To add to the confusion, one of the MIW statutes (involving transfer) brings into play, "substantially impaired." That is not defined at all in either case law or title 11.
IS IT A GOOD IDEA?
First off, handling firearms while drunk is not safe or smart.
Legally, being intoxicated does not excuse you from criminal actions in Alaska (or most any other place, I'd imagine). Our definitions for "knowingly" and "recklessly" specifically state that the a "reasonable person" must consider what the accused should have known had they been sober. The only thing being drunk can get you out of is possibly "intent." For example, murder 1 generally requires you to kill someone with the intent to do so. If you shot someone while totally boozed out of your mind, your lawyer may be able to get it bumped down to Murder 2, which sets a lower bar of "knowingly" (which is not excused by intoxication). Still, I wouldn't say that moving a charge down from Murder 1 to Murder 2 is really a significant improvement.
If you do have to use your weapon in self-defense, then if you were drinking, it will certainly shed an unpleasant glare on your claim of justifiable homicide. It will also open up the door to civil liability.
Tactically, being under the influence will obviously degrade response times, fine motor skills, judgment, and sensory perception. All of those are bad for survival in a gun fight.
So, no, it isn't really a good idea.
MY BOTTOM LINE
Given all that, this is where I come down on firearms and drinking and such.
- I don't really go boozing out in public too much. However, I do believe that a great steak deserves a glass of red wine, and that a great dessert deserves a glass of port. If we plan on drinking at dinner, we usually have the DD (who is not drinking) carry. If the plan changes and we each decide to have a glass of wine (I -- and most other adults -- can still safely and legally drive home after a glass of wine with a steak dinner, after all), then the only legal answer is to go to the bathroom and clear the sidearm so that it is no longer "loaded" or duck out to the car and secure it.
- Don't drink if you plan on having to use the firearm. I have zero problem with cracking open a few cold ones at the end of a day of hunting or camping. DW and I often bring a bottle of wine out on camping trips. We also leave our firearms accessible and loaded because of the bear threat. However, we certainly don't plan on doing any more hunting that day. Other than a bear poking its face into my tent I have no plans on using that firearm.
On the other hand, I don't think it would be smart to have a drink then go hunting. First off there are ethical concerns (will you take a sound shot with good judgment?). Second, it opens the door to significant legal problems if anything goes wrong. Say you in good faith accidentally shoot an animal of the wrong sex or something. You don't want to be put in the position of having to say to a fish and game officer, "Well, gee, yes, I had a drink earlier, but I don't think I was impaired when I shot that ram that wasn't quite a full curl..."
Because any self defense gun for use against people might be used at any time (that's the idea, right?) I don't think you should drink anytime when carrying a self defense firearm. If you do, then I would definitely have some "escalation of force" measures in mind (like, pepper spray to use first). A bear that you shot after drinking a glass of wine won't sue you. A rapist or robber might.
- Don't be a jerk or push the envelope. I carry on posted private property where allowed by law up here like the 5th Street Mall. If I ever get asked to leave, I will. However, if you want to push the envelope like that, don't do it after you've had even a single drink. It opens the door to felony charges, for one thing.
I think that the MIW laws need some changes. First off, "intoxicated" should have the same meaning as in the DUI statutes (0.08), or should be otherwise defined (0.04?). I don't think it is fair to police or citizens when the law is exceedingly vague. Even if 0.08 -- the limit to drive, mind you -- is too lax, then 0.04 should be fine. After all, commercial airline pilots are held to the 0.04 standard. 0.01 is too low because even just using mouthwash or a dose of cough syrup can push you over the limit.
Next, I think that MIW IV should have an affirmative defense that allows you to possess a firearm in your own home in self defense even if intoxicated. If you are at home, and you have to use a firearm defensively, then the fact that you had a six pack the night before shouldn't necessarily criminalize that action. People shouldn't be afraid to contact law enforcement to report crimes like attempted robbery or attempted rape because they are afraid that they'll be charged themselves. Making it an affirmative defense keeps this intentional "loophole" from being abused by druggies or alcoholics.
Additionally, I think that MIW V, "bar carry" prohibition, needs to be just be eliminated. It is asinine that if I go to the Moose's Tooth (a popular pizza pub), we can sit in the general seating area and be fine, but if we grab one of the "first come first serve" tables in the bar area to avoid a 2 hour wait I just violated the law even if I have nothing to drink. Likewise, it is silly that designated drivers can't carry a firearm even though they are going to drive a car. I think you could safely scrap the whole law altogether. Each bar can post its own policy. Most of the bars and nightclubs where this will probably cause problems already have security and can ask patrons who want to bring in firearms to leave. If they don't, then they just committed criminal trespass, which may even be elevated to a felony. If eliminating the law altogether doesn't fly, then the affirmative defense should be changed to an actual exception and it should apply to any establishment.
Eliminating the bar carry prohibition also has the benefit fo streamlining the law. For example, right now, it is illegal for me to have a glass of wine with my steak while carrying a loaded firearm. However, I could hand the gun to my wife, drink a glass of wine, then strap my gun back on as soon as I left the restaurant. Or, I could have two drinks before leaving home! It should not be legal to possess a firearm in public if over 0.08 (or 0.04), period. It shouldn't matter whether you drank at the restaurant or at home. This change is probably the most controversial, but frankly, I don't think it will really affect public safety negatively at all.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
2346 Omar Temamy in Cairo says: "I am out in the streets along with everyone else protecting and rescuing our homes. Thieves have been going round robbing houses. We have even caught four prisoners. We tied them with ropes and the army came and took them away. They were escaped prisoners. People are waiting outside their houses with weapons. We are hearing bullets. It is crazy. In front of every building there are 20 people to protect it. Some criminals have been stealing ambulances and police cars and driving around. People have erected checkpoints and no one can get through without ID. I am in Mohandisin but all over the city it is crazy. I don't think that we will sleep. It is relatively quiet now. People are brave. It is very scary. I have never experienced anything like this before."
2316 Reporting from Cairo, the BBC's Lyse Doucet tweets: "Text message on Mobinil: 'the army calls on egyptian patriots to stand up against looters and traitors to protect our families and precious.'"
248 If you've just joined us, thanks for stopping by. Here's a quick status update from Egypt: Vigilante groups in the capital Cairo have set up checkpoints amid reports of widespread looting. Police have almost completely disappeared from the streets, to be replaced by young men armed with metal bars and knives. The army is guarding key locations, and shooting has been reported around government buildings as protesters continue to defy a night-time curfew. The death-toll from five days of unrest is thought to be at least 75 nationwide, with many more injured. Stay tuned and we'll continue to bring you up-to-date with events on the ground in Egypt, and reactions from across the world.
2151 Jan25 Voices tweets: "Most of Heliopolis is now being policed by youth with makeshift weapons and all apts have lights on for visibility."
2119 Cairo citizens have taken the advice of the army to protect their own homes seriously, with impromptu neighbourhood watch groups, armed with machetes, hockey sticks and other weapons, protecting different parts of the capital. Nader, a Cairo resident, told the BBC the looters were "poverty-stricken people from bad neighbourhoods".
2016 Firas Al-Atraqchi tweets: "Three of my neighbours formed family militia to protect residences."
Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, said that he observed a group of soldiers completely surrounded by people asking for help in protecting their neighborhoods. The army told them that they would have to take care of their own neighborhoods and that there might be reinforcements Sunday...
As night fell, bursts of gunfire could be heard throughout the city and the suburbs. And the groups of armed young men stopped cars at checkpoints every few blocks throughout the city. Several were visibly coordinating with military officers, even setting up joint military-civilian checkpoints.
I don't intend to comment at all on the various specific militia groups in Alaska. I just think that this is a golden teaching moment to illustrate that there are times when it is appropriate and necessary for citizens to band together in protection of innocent life and property.
Another great quote...
"If I had a visa to anywhere, I'd join them [Westerners that are fleeing Egypt]. But that's not going to happen," said Mohammed Khaled, a 28-year-old Egyptian doctor. "Right now, I'd settle for a gun, but I can't even find one of those."
This site had some interesting figures on Egyptian gun ownership and laws. I think they really say what needs to be said. Civilian long guns are prohibited (remember, a long gun is what rebels use to unseat the government; while handguns are good for personal protection and are easily concealable, wars aren't won with handguns). All firearms are registered with the central government. All owners are licensed by the central government. There are 1.9 million civilian firearms and over 3.1 million firearms in the hands of the security forces.
Given the licensure/registration scheme, I have a feeling that the majority of those 1.9 million civilian firearms are in the hands of state officials, ruling party members, and the ethnic majority. Of course, I'm sure that there are numerous unregistered firearms given the level of arms trafficking in the region, and it wouldn't be surprising for unsavory groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to have a stranglehold on the flow of illegal contraband items like weapons. Given that MB appears to be sending their followers out into the streets, that doesn't bode well for what would happen after the security forces fall (if they do); if MB and the criminal underground have more weapons available than pro-Democracy middle class protesters then I know who I'd put my money on in the post-shakeup power struggles.
This also means that the key variable is the willingness of the security forces to open fire and kill large numbers of protesters (or at least sufficient numbers of them to put down the uprising, instill fear in the populace, and restore order). Megan McArdle had a good article on the point.
Appears that the criminals do have guns.
"Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates. Gangs of young men with guns and large sticks smashed cars and robbed people in Cairo."
Friday, January 28, 2011
Apparently, even though Pakistan is seemingly influenced by the British Common Law tradition, their self defense laws are bizarre:
Under Pakistani law one can only act in self-defense if attacked first. Merely being approached by someone wielding a gun is insufficient cause under law for the victim to pull the trigger. Also, when firing in self-defense it is only admissible to aim at non-life threatening parts of the assailant's body, such as arms or legs.
Me: "It doesn't matter how effective a law against killing people is, because killing people is still wrong and people who do it clearly need to be punished.
It does matter how effective a law banning certain magazines is. If a law banning magazines won't reduce violence, then what is the point of it?"
Japete: "Your assumption then Heather is that we should just let mentally unstalbe people and felons continue to get their hands on these ammunition magazines and let them continue killing innocent people? That is the only conclusion to draw from this. In order for you to have your right, as you see it, to own any kind of ammunition mag you want, we must put up with the occasional mass shooting and call it collateral damage. How else to look at your line of reasoning?"
I admit that I sat here for several minutes, trying to interpret that post. Assumption? Ammunition magazines? What?
My reply (unpublished):
"1. Assumption? That word does not make sense in your sentence. Did you mean assertion?
2. I have no idea how you got from banning magazines to letting felons have guns.
3. The conclusion you should be drawing from this is that you need to prove that your magazine ban will reduce violence."
But apparently pointing out that magazine bans =/= felons owning guns is not relevant to the debate and doesn't make sense:
"Dear readers- unless somebody can further this ridiculous discussion about legal terms with something that makes sense, don't continue. I am done publishing it. It is not relevant to the debate here or the issue as much as you would to make it so."
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Now, the situation today was not one that would have warranted the use of a gun, even had I been allowed to have one. However, it was eye-opening to say the least. If I were ever in a fight for my life, I had better have a gun, because otherwise I am in very big trouble - for no other reason than I am small and female.
So why do the antis want me disarmed? Why does their right to "feel" safe override my right to effectively defend myself?
ps: the effects of adrenaline are very interesting - definitely something that we should all be aware of.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Screen captured at 2130 AK time, emphasis added:
Yes, that is an F-bomb. Your tax dollars hard at work. If Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC put an F-Bomb on their websites to describe the president's speech, how would that go over?
On another note, apparently the administration is promoting Alaska's fisheries.
The perp was a prohibited person. "Nelson also pleaded guilty in 2008 to two counts of felony assault and three counts of violating a restraining order, court records show." Possessing a firearm put him in violation of the GCA of 1968 as well as Alaska State law.
There were warning signs and stalking prior to the culminating violent crime. "There were many footprints and snowshoe prints around the neighborhood that the residents believed to be evidence of Nelson spying on them through their windows, she said. There's something Verna Carey wants other people to know, Ehrman said.
'When there's warning signs of mental illness or drug abuse, people shouldn't ignore it,' she said. 'Everybody in the community was worried about this guy.'"
Monday, January 24, 2011
I personally know someone who has had problems with this pack (they carried off a neighbor's dog, leaving a blood trail through the yard). That is also not terribly normal.
Given that wolves are naturally afraid of people, I'm guessing that there is a decent chance that either these wolves have been fed, or more likely, that there is some dog blood in them. Wolf-dog hybrids are of questionable legality but people breed them occasionally anyways. The results of such a pairing are unpredictable but are often physically larger and much more aggressive than a normal wolf.
While the chance of getting attacked by a wolf is pretty low, it does happen. These particular wolves have treed several female joggers, for example. This is a good argument for bringing a trail revolver along when out alone in some of these areas. You might need more than one blast provided from your bear spray, and I think I'd trust a .357 mag or .44 mag more than a 9mm or .40SW to put down a wild animal.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
To be frank, I didn't really learn all that much. On the other hand, we took the online version which is, as far as I can tell, aimed at people who have already hunted and know the information and just want to get the certification as quickly and easily as possible. They also have an in-person version where you go to a few classes and are actually taught the information.
The coolest part was the hike we took. They had set up several fake animals in different places along a path and you had to demonstrate proper carry in a large group, find the animals, and answer shoot or don't shoot based on different scenarios
The marksmanship portion of the day was simple as well. We both passed easily. I shot better than Chris did during the qualifier round, but during the practice rounds his group was a little tighter than mine. Fortunately for me, they had a youth-stock lefty gun for me to use!
I do not want to turn on comment moderation for all posts. I enjoy a free discussion of ideas and feel that comment moderation creates a significant barrier. It also raises questions as to what posts are being censored or subjected to "reasoned discourse."
My compromise for now has been to turn on moderation for all posts older than four days. This allows me to keep a better handle on what is being posted, especially on the older content.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
A lot less talk has occured about Sen Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) gun control proposal. On the face of it, it is reasonable: require the military to report anyone who fails a drug test to NICS, including recruit candidates.
In theory, I don't think this is a terrible idea. For example, I think it might be appropriate to refer the information that you failed a pee test to DEA agents for follow up, and maybe even to report you to NICS for a limited period of time (90 days or something maybe). However, I'm sure that the way Sen Schumer plans to implement it, it will be unacceptable and totally destroy due process.
I would not be surprised to see Sen Schumer is pushing for a single failed drug test to be the basis for a lifetime status of "prohibited person." While the GCA 1968 does include people who are addicted to or using illegal drugs as prohibited persons, if you clean up your act then that in theory takes you off the list of prohibited persons (unless, say, you've racked up a felony conviction along the way). This makes sense: just because someone smoked some weed back in the 60s doesn't mean that they should qualify as a prohibited person. Heck, using Schumer's logic would make President Clinton, President GW Bush, and President Obama all prohibited persons because all have acknowledged a history of drug use.
Moreover, there are serious due process issues. Just because Sgt Snuffy reports that you failed drugs doesn't mean that you actually did. Sometimes drug tests have false positives. Maybe the vials got switched; how good is the chain of custody? Maybe Sgt Snuffy had a clerical error. The process would need to be ironclad in order to avoid making a mockery of due process if the intent is to create a lifetime disabling offense.
Even making it a temporary disabling offense is troublesome; how will you be notified that you're a prohibited person? Will your first notification be a joint DEA/ATF raid that kicks in your door, face plants you, and arrests you for felony possession of a firearm? What if your 18 year old kid smokes weed and gets turned away by the recruiters -- does your bird gun now make everyone in the house a felon? Nobody wants drug addicts to have guns but I can definitely see how this process could be abused, and the track record of the federal agencies involved indicates that it is not unreasonable to think that they might abuse such information.
Finally, In From the Cold -- where we first learned about this proposal -- brings up a bunch of issues related to military recruiting and how this proposal would complicate that difficult activity.
Rep King and Rep McCarthy are very unlikely to have any success with their bills. Rep Boehner has basically said "no" and they are not getting any traction; their bills are likely DOA. Sen Schumer, on the other hand, holds a leadership position in the majority democratic caucus in the Senate. His ability to attach this stuff to something else and get it moving is much greater. Moreover, on the face of it, his proposal actually seems much more reasonable on the face of it in that it might have actually done something to prevent Loughner's crime. I'm not opposed to the basic idea of promoting information sharing, but I am almost certain that the result of Sen Schumer's proposal will be very different. After all, his intent is to ban guns and reduce gun ownership, not to reduce crime. This is just a vehicle that allows him to achieve his real goal.
So -- keep your eye on the legislation. See exactly what the wording is. And be prepared to raise heck with your Senators to get this watered down to a reasonable level. All of these legislators are from the NY Caucus. I'm sure that they coordinate efforts to some degree. The King and McCarthy measures are the most prominent, but also the least likely to go anywhere. While they make a lot of noise, Sen Schumer may be able to slip something through. Don't be fooled.
Friday, January 21, 2011
“I have exercised my Second Amendment rights numerous times through hunting, going to the range, and I was in the army for two years."
By this logic, I can say that I was a law enforcement officer for two years because I was a traffic cop in college!
Of course, Baldr replied that they weren't.
I then posted a quite polite post asking him to show exactly how they were not functionally equivalent. That never got published.
Then Jadegold, jumping on my initial post, made a snarky comment.
I repeated my comment that had been eaten.
Again, not published.
I tried one last time with a more extensive comment. We'll see if that gets through. If not, it seems that Reasoned Discourse is definitely in effect.
Update: Apparently third try is the charm.
Person A asks Person B whether they would sleep with a stranger for a million dollars.I've seen some folks say, "Well, a ban of 11 round mags is unacceptable, but we don't need 30, so how about 19, so I can still use my Glock?" That's negotiating over price, it is what they want you to do, and if you've ever dealt with a carpet or used car salesman you know that they'll ask for three times what they actually want and see what they get.
Person B thinks about it then says, "Well, a million dollars is a lot of money, so if it is only once, sure -- why not?"
Person A then fires back, "Would you sleep with me for 20 bucks?"
Person B returns, "What do you think I am?"
"We've already established what you are;" replies Person A; "Now we're just negotiating price!"
My ideas of an acceptable compromise are:
- We have to compromise to avoid greater damage. If compromise is the only way we can avoid something even more onerous, then ok. Argueably this is the position NRA was in on GCA 1968. Taking a "line in the sand" position in politics can be a way to lose everything. Anyways, I don't think this situation fits that. Our political position seems quite strong with Sen Reid in the Senate and Rep Boehner in the House. Public opinion polls show that mass opinion hasn't changed significantly.
- Compromise would actually lead to substantial public safety gains. Even under intermediate or strict scrutiny, which I think the 2A deserves, certain restrictions are acceptable if they are tied directly to a legitimate state interest. If our "laboratory of democracy" Federal system -- which allows states to tinker with laws -- had produced evidence to show that strict magazine bans substantially reduced violent crime without increasing victimization rates, it might be acceptable. I'm in favor of things that actually work, after all. There is no such evidence in this case, however. We don't make policy or restrict rights based on hopes and pipe dreams.
- Compromise would lead to legislation that would be highly likely to whet any future public calls for further gun control.
As Sebastian said:
So I don’t think there is common understanding, because you’re starting from the premise that gun control can be effective. I don’t think it can be. So it really comes down to, what set of useless laws am I willing to live with in order to make enough people who are wary of guns comfortable enough to not spend their time and money trying to pass more and more regulations. That’s the better question.
I think that such a law would be highly public and something that everyone would have to comply with. It also should be something that reduces public fear (so, laws which meet the above criteria of actually working are probably better). For example, mandatory background checks conducted when you get your driver's license that gives you a "Big Boys Stamp" on your license and thus the right to buy restricted items. Mandatory safety training in schools. Stuff like that. Right now, most non-gun owning citizens have no idea about gun control laws. They aren't visible or in their face every day so they assume there are no laws.
This mag ban wouldn't fit this category either. Only a subset of gun owners would be impacted (no broad impact). Furthermore, it wouldn't actually do anything to stop crime, so when someone committed a crime with illegal mags or 10-round compliant mags, that would just be a call to ratchet one tighter.
So, don't argue over price. I have been going on the offensive. Gun controllers need to justify why they need another law. They probably need to make this case to survive judicial review in the Post-Heller world, and they certainly need to do so in order to sway public opinion. I don't have to justify why I need a standard capacity mag.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
- Armed resistance generally does not produce meaningful change; often it produces negative backlash resulting in greater harm to the insurgent/victim.
- Violent insurgencies almost never achieve their political goals because they fracture the base of support which they rely on. Non-violent insurgencies are more successful because they impact institutions which brings about reconciliation.
The best strategy is to foil a violent attack in the target selection or planning process. You don't want to be the softest most inviting target, and you want to complicate planning. But assume the worst has happened and you are a victim of violent crime. You have four basic options:
- Avoid the kill zone. If you can spot the ambuscade and avoid the encounter altogether this is preferable.
- Evacuate. You can find an exit and run for it.
- Dominate. You can aggressively attack, create pain/distance, and then seek to break contact with the attacker if they are still mobile.
- Submit. You can comply with the aggressor's demands.
The British Home Office looked at robberies where the victim was injured that most of the folks who were injured in robberies tried non-violent resistance:
- Resisting with a gun 6%
- Did nothing at all 25%
- Resisted with a knife 40%
- Non-violent resistance 45%
Gary Kleck -- reprinted by the Nat'l Academy of Science -- found the following probabilities of being injured:
TABLE 5-2 Probability of Injury and Loss Among Victims by Means of Self-Protection
SOURCE: Adapted from Kleck (2001b:289, Table 7.1).
Using violence in self-defense is not always the best option. If there is a possibility to avoid the attack or give the attacker what they want, that's probably best. I'd prefer to give up my wallet than pull out a gun. However, I think there are certainly some situations in which submission has ceased to be a viable option.
- If an attacker wants to put you into a car and take you somewhere else, or take you out of a public place, your odds of survival will drop significantly.
- If you are on a hijacked airplane in the post 9/11 world, then your odds of survival with passive compliance are not great either.
- If you are put into an execution position (on your knees) then your options have just narrowed substantially.
- If you are bound then you will lose many options as well. It also implies that the perp has further (nefarious) intentions.
Clearly there is a time and place for the use of sudden violence in self defense. I have not seen any convincing evidence that suggests that women who passively submit to rapists are less likely to be injured by their attackers, for example. And looking at the list of options, there aren't many choices; what if you can't avoid the attack (already in the kill zone) and can't run away (no exits/mobility)? Violent resistance -- preferably armed -- may be the best remaining option on a short menu of bad choices.
There seems to be some interesting research that suggests that non-violent insurgencies have enjoyed greater success in the last century or so than violent uprisings. I am unsure about the causal link, however.
For example, it is possible that insurgents turn to violence as a last resort, just like individuals. That is, they don't break out violence until the situation is already near hopeless. An example of this would be the Warsaw Jews. They couldn't run (how are a quarter of a million civilians including women, children, elderly, and sick people going to escape in Nazi Germany?), they couldn't avoid the situation (they were already being shipped off to death camps, literally), and submission wasn't really a viable option (time wasn't on their side; every day of compliance was another day of slow starvation and another train of military aged males put on trains to a labor or concentration camp). In fact, back in 1939, under the "Pabst Plan" the Nazis were planning on utterly razing the city, eliminating almost all of its inhabitants, and replacing it with a quaint German town. By 1943 it had become clear to Jewish resistance leaders that a genocide was in process, with over a quarter of a million Jews already executed. The odds of a successful violent uprising were not good, but they were arguably better than any other option.
Even though the Warsaw rebellion was crushed, it had some positive effects. First, 100-300 Nazi troops were killed and wounded (almost 10%), vehicles were destroyed, and a month's worth of fuel, food, and other valuable military equipment was consumed. The German troops were also tied up for a month; that includes around a thousand SS, along with the logistics backbone that army motorized formation requires. Less directly, the insurgent's ability to fly Jewish and Polish flags -- powerful symbols of resistance -- for days inspired other resistance fighters, including a much more succesful uprising in 1944. The uprising also delayed deportations, bought time for civilians to arm themselves or run for the forests, and executed collaborators and gestapo agents.
Violence was not the first choice in Warsaw. Jewish resistance leaders tried to comply until it was clear that compliance was a suicide pact. The insurgency didn't go violent until the odds of success were already very low. If other violent insurgencies share this trait, we shouldn't be surprised to see that many of them fail.
Types of Violent Insurgency
Likewise, there is a relevant qualitative aspect. I think you can come up with four categories of violence:
- Indiscriminate, near random violence: This category is actually rather rare. Even terrorists usually select targets for a reason. On 9/11, AQ selected financial, political, and military targets. Insurgencies which have very poor command and control or mixed objectives may feature spasmodic violence which appears to be near-random.
- Violence used to facilitate criminal ends: Often insurgencies are associated with criminal violence. For example, the Afghan Taliban insurgency is often in bed with violent narco-traffickers who happen to share a goal of destabilizing legitimate governance. This sort of violence likely weakens the insurgency by fracturing support.
- Violence directed at non-combatants for purposes of intimidation: Night letters, targeted assassinations of "cooperators," and other threatening violence intended to intimidate can be highly effective at at least keeping the population from supporting an insurgency's adversaries. In Vietnam, the Vietcong were able to constantly keep the government of the south off balance through intimidation and assassination in villages in the south. Of course, such thuggish tactics can also backfire; this is likely what happened when the Sunni insurgency in Iraq threw out Al Qaeda, exhausted by AQ's violent tactics.
- Violence directed at legitimate targets in self defense: The example of a black woman arming herself with a rifle to protect her children from the Klan is an example of this type of violent resistance. Afghan insurgents that manage to portray themselves as freedom fighters and direct their violence against "occupying crusaders" might also claim this mantle (at least in the eyes of the public).
The final category seems like it has some benefits. It certainly won't alienate supporters, and it may deter attackers. Of course, it also creates a security dilemma, which could result in uncontrollable violence escalation. If the defenders are unprepared to climb the escalation ladder, then yes, they might get rolled. An example would be a tiny country picking a fight with a big one. However, if the defenders have a credible deterrent capability then it could create conditions for political settlement; the example here would be two nuclear armed states who have the capability to destroy each other (or in a conventional setting, a stalemate where neither side is able to gain a decisive military advantage over the other). The insurgency may also benefit if their opposition has its hands tied; for example, maybe the government does have overwhelming forces but can't bring them to bear due to ROEs or fear of provoking the population because the insurgents melt into the civilian population, who sees them as legitimate defenders.
The challenge, of course, is that it is hard to stay in the last category. If you start climbing an escalation ladder, then you might be willing to use the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy. When the Taliban ally themselves with drug runners because they need as many shooters as they can get, it fractures their support. If the insurgency needs to start "requisitioning" supplies at gunpoint from civilians then they'll risk their base as well. And in any insurgency, there is a risk of poor C2 leading to spasms of uncontrolled violence which hurt the cause.
At the least, I think there is a serious research question here. I haven't done a thorough literature review or anything, but it seems that there are certainly several possibilities out there which are probably based on circumstances. If non-violent insurgency was always the best option, and insurgents are rational actors, then why are the Taliban planting IEDs? Clearly there is at least some perceived benefit to employing a strategy of violent resistance.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Suicide is a tough and thorny problem. It is a major problem in Alaska. This article made me really upset with gun control measures. There is only so much political capital, human energy, and actual funding available for good causes like suicide reduction. In a world of limited resources, we need to decide how to deploy them most effectively. Anti-gun bigots like our local pundit (who seems to have given up blogging) advocate wasting these precious resources on useless gun control measures. They'd prefer that already overstretched AK State Troopers pursue minor technical firearms violations rather than help stem substance abuse. They'd prefer that we pass useless safe storage laws instead of looking at the much more difficult issue of rural unemployment. They'd prefer to create magic gun free zones around schools instead of fixing broken schools that fail their students.
Every gun control law is, at best, a wasted opportunity to actually do something about issues that are altogether real. Imagine if all the wasted talent, compassion, and law enforcement resources invested in gun control were put towards real solutions that addressed root causes. Instead, gun control advocates simplistically blame physical objects for complex social problems.
Comment moderation is now off again. Thanks for being respectful.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
She also accuses us of trying to rewrite history. This is my reply, which I fear may be headed for the RD trashpile:
I am just amazed that you guys are trying to rewrite commonly held American views on what happened during the awful period with the KKK and civil rights.
We celebrate MLK in part because he was a martyr. He recognized that there was a threat to his personal safety, decided that non-violent resistance was the best course of action for his cause, and eschewed tools of self-defense. He could have had bodyguards or hid behind a bulletproof glass "popemobile" screen or not made public appearances. That's heroic by anyone's measure; it is the very definition of a martyr in the example of Jesus or the saints to suffer persecution and death for a righteous cause.
However, I don't think that most religious or secular leaders would be disturbed at the idea of self-defense -- including armed, lethal self-defense -- especially in a case where the death of the innocent is irrelevant to the cause. For example, if a white policeman's attack dog tears out the throat of a protestor on national TV, then that is martyrdom. If that same policeman puts on a white robe and pays a housecall with his buddies at night when there's nobody watching and lynches the victim, then what has that accomplished for the cause? God has given us bodies and minds and intends for us to use them and take care of them (1 Cor 3:16-17). There was debate and discussion within the civil rights movement about this, and I think it would also be worth differentiating the aggressive generally indiscriminate violence advocated by some groups such as the Black Panthers and the more measured self-defense advocated by other groups (Deacons for Defense).
Some people -- likely a minority -- who were in the civil rights movement or who lived under Jim Crow persecution clearly chose armed self defense, despite the laws that prevented them from lawfully acquiring and carrying weapons. Anecdotally, there are many stories that describe lives saved. The number of armed blacks in the movement was less than 100% but greater than 0%. Given that even under laws like those in Alaska only around 65% of people own firearms and only 2-5% actually carry arms on a regular basis, a "WAG" (wild arse guesstimate) of 2-10% of African-Americans regularly carrying in the 1960s is probably in the ballpark (could be on the low-end due to highly restrictive laws that suppressed gun ownership and carry, or on the high end due to the breakdown of the justice system and extraordinary threats faced by African Americans).
This isn't just right-wing gun nuttery, either; "Remember the Titans," a major film (and a great movie about an inspiring story) depicts the black football coach as swiftly responding to an attack on his house with a shotgun. Note that in real life, Coach Boone didn't own a shotgun (although his house was attacked), however, the point is that a mainstream major film from our time chose to include an incident of armed self-defense; I just skimmed his bio and filmography but the director, Boaz Yakin, doesn't seem like an extremist right winger out to rewrite history to me. Daily Kos, a left wing progressive blog that normally strongly supports gun control, even points out many of these things. Is Daily Kos now out to rewrite history?
MLK was a martyr for his cause, but not everyone is called to be a martyr. There was a role for non-violent resistance, and a role for armed self-defense. The efforts of each group probably aided the overall cause in a synergistic manner. Most insurgencies -- and that is what the Civil Rights movement often was, an insurgency against corrupt and discriminatory state governments -- fail. One study found that nonviolent campaigns succeed around half of the time and violent struggles succeed only a quarter of the time (1900-2006). However, the study makes no effort to classify the effectiveness of campaigns which include both; renouncing the strong-arm aggressive tactics of, say, the Black Panthers but including a component of armed self defense. Anecdotally, at least, it is an effective strategy; self-defense doesn't undermine the legitimacy, broad participation, and pressure brought to bear by the non-violent agitators like aggression does.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
So, we went ahead and ordered a dozen M&P mags. After all, if I was limited to a 10-round mag I would have opted for a LC9 super-sub-compact or a single stack 1911 or even just a .45 ACP polymer piece. But at this point we're well vested in the M&P platform and like it for a variety of reasons.
It was a little pricey, but what is peace of mind worth? We now basically have enough mags for the M&Ps to cover us essentially forever even if some are lost, break, etc. They work in the full size and compact models. We have two high quality handguns and compared to what we've paid for the guns, carry ammo, training, good holsters, etc another $250 for a stack of mags isn't that big of a deal for us.
I also stocked up on a bunch of AR-15 mags (on sale at Sportsman's Warehouse for $5!). I don't have an AR right now but might in the future. If nothing else they can go into care packages for folks downrange; I've already sent two off to a friend I know in the sandbox right now. There's no such thing as too many magazines in a war zone. I mean, you only carry 7 or so in your LBE but I always tossed a few extra into a ruck or into the back of the truck. When we broke down or dismounted or whatever it was nice to know that there were an extra few mags nearby if needed.
I am keenly interested in this. At $400, we'll make back the cost after plinking away around a thousand rounds of .22 vs. .40 SW ammo. And because we can go and shoot it nearly for free means we'll get a lot more trigger time which is also good. I always kind of check my wallet when shooting off a box or three of centerfire ammo but .22 LR? Whatever, I'll plink with that all day long and not look back.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
As a note, Lott points out (PDF link warning) that there are zero peer-reviewed studies that show that right-to-carry laws ("Shall Issue") increase violent crime. I'd be interested to know if that is accurate; obviously Lott is a biased source.
Caroyln McCarthy's new gun control bill would ban large numbers of firearms including popular lever actions and neuter many defensive weapons popular among private citizens and police. Rep Peter King's law would create a moving victim disarmament zone bubble around many officials, which has been lampooned even by Jon Stewart. Another would outlaw private sales (which are now called "fire sales..." So gun show loophole = private sale loophole = fire sale loop hole = gun registration loophole... got it).
Luckily none of these are going to go anywhere. Imagine how different things would be if these House members had strong backing in the Senate from Sen Majority Leader Schumer, who has never seen a gun control law he didn't like? I feel fairly safe from onerous and useless legislation on this front given the current leadership in both houses, however.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
First, this long entreaty, of which I have bolded the most relevant part:
I object to the ability of just about anyone to buy any gun at gun shows without background checks. I object to people like Cho being able to legally buy a gun and kill 32 people. I object to children accidentally killing themselves or someone else with a loaded, unstored gun. I object to someone's gun dropping out of their holster and firing and killing someone. I object to machine guns anywhere. I don't think assault type rilfes are necessary for hunting or self defense. I object to militia groups and extremist groups fomenting hate and being ready to commit anarchy against their government. I object to straw purchasing. I object to gun runners buying their guns legally and bringing them to Mexico where they are used to kill thousands of innocent people. I object to teen agers being so easily able to use a gun from their own home to kill themselves. I object to domestic abusers shooting their spouses, ex spouses, etc. I object to people not storing their guns safely and then having them stolen and ending up in the illegal market. I object to people carrying their loaded guns around in all public places. Does that answer your question? I have written about every single one of these things for months now and yet you insist on asking again and again and again. I am NOT in favor of confiscating guns. People can have their guns for self defense and hunting but for God's sake, don't let them get into the wrong hands so things that happened on Saturday continue to happen. Oh yes, I object to large capacity gun clips as well. Now then- please do not continue to ask this question and demand an answer as if you have never heard it before. Stop harrasing me about this. It's just not working for you.
And another, tentatively hinting at a more precise kinematic standard:
"The more cogent point to me is that I don't care what kind of gun it was, a little girl was shot to death from one block away by the gun in question... Sebastian= when a gun kills a little girl from one block away, that is not a more horrendous death than when she has been shot point blank like a [victim]. You know that this country does not tolerate the deaths of innocent children very well. Did you see [the victim]'s parents last night trying to hold it together? I think any weapon that can kill so many people all at once should be heavily restricted. "I want to say right up front that the girl's death sounds like a tragedy. I don't mean to use her family's loss in any way. Joan brought up the example and I've expunged the names to avoid bringing the family into it. It just isn't relevant to my point.
Using what Joan has thrown out there we can establish some criteria for an acceptable firearm:
- Not lethal against a small deer at ranges in excess of 100 yards (an estimate for a "city block"). There are two ranges you could use: the maximum effective range (based on bullet drop and loss of energy) or the maximum kinematic range (based on physics). I think what Joan is getting at here is the latter (max kinematic). For example, most people would agree that 100 yards is at or beyond the max effective range of most pistols due to loss of energy (i.e. it may not achieve the desired effect) and bullet drop. But it certainly isn't safe to stand at 101 yards downrange! The 9mm round will kinematically travel up to 2400 yards before it hits the dirt. Even a "low-powered" .22 LR will go 2000 yards.
- Not capable of holding a "large capacity" number of rounds. Given that the gun control lobby has an obsession with the number ten it may be 10 rounds; we may be talking about less, however.
- Not capable of killing a large number of people "all at once." This obviously rules out explosives like hand grenades as well as full autos, which are rare already due to the NFA and have little role in civilian self defense situations or hunting. I think that it also rules out semiautomatics or any action which can be worked as rapidly as a semiauto. She clearly dislikes semiautos and frequently conflates them with full autos. That may include lever actions as well; a skilled lever gun operator is very fast. Pumps allow for follow up shots but are slower, and bolts and break opens slowest yet.
- Valid for Hunting or Self Defense purposes. This is actually fairly broad and encompasses almost every firearm except perhaps the NFA items described above.
Any rifle -- even a .22 from a short barreled pistol -- is potentially lethal out to far greater ranges than 100 yards. A .22 may not kill a small deer swiftly or humanely at such ranges but it certainly could be lethal eventually. So are rifled shotgun barrels; rifled shotgun barrels can hurl a modern slug over 100 yards max effective range, with significantly longer kinematic ranges.
I essentially posted this at her blog but I think it will be Reasoned Discoursed out of existence. Still, based on what she has said, this is basically what you get down to. There is no way to justify anything else as acceptable based on the specific objections she has raised. Even a 30-30 deer rifle is going to be lethal out to a range way greater than a "city block." I asked her to please clarify if I have reached an inaccurate conclusion; I really doubt she will, though.
So when the Brady Campaign says that they don't want to ban guns, they're saying they don't want to ban all guns. Certain shotguns in certain actions are ok. Maybe even blunderbusses. Honestly, this is more a more generous list than I originally thought. I thought that Joan would consider a single person in the country being allowed to own a single shot .22 rifle as "not a ban."
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
SEC. 1062. PROHIBITION ON INFRINGING ON THE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTI went and referenced 2687 and it says:
TO LAWFULLY ACQUIRE, POSSESS, OWN, CARRY, AND
OTHERWISE USE PRIVATELY OWNED FIREARMS, AMMUNITION,
AND OTHER WEAPONS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in subsection (c), the
Secretary of Defense shall not prohibit, issue any requirement
relating to, or collect or record any information relating to the
otherwise lawful acquisition, possession, ownership, carrying, or
other use of a privately owned firearm, privately owned ammunition,
or another privately owned weapon by a member of the Armed
Forces or civilian employee of the Department of Defense on property
that is not—
(1) a military installation; or
(2) any other property that is owned or operated by the
Department of Defense.
(b) EXISTING REGULATIONS AND RECORDS.—
(1) REGULATIONS.—Any regulation promulgated before the
date of enactment of this Act shall have no force or effect
to the extent that it requires conduct prohibited by this section.
(2) RECORDS.—Not later than 90 days after the date of
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall destroy
any record containing information described in subsection (a)
that was collected before the date of enactment of this Act.
(c) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Subsection (a) shall not be construed
to limit the authority of the Secretary of Defense to—
(1) create or maintain records relating to, or regulate the
possession, carrying, or other use of a firearm, ammunition,
or other weapon by a member of the Armed Forces or civilian
employee of the Department of Defense while—
(A) engaged in official duties on behalf of the Department
of Defense; or
(B) wearing the uniform of an Armed Force; or
(2) create or maintain records relating to an investigation,
prosecution, or adjudication of an alleged violation of law
(including regulations not prohibited under subsection (a)),
including matters related to whether a member of the Armed
Forces constitutes a threat to the member or others.
(d) REVIEW.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment
of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall—
(1) conduct a comprehensive review of the privately owned
weapons policy of the Department of Defense, including legal
and policy issues regarding the regulation of privately owned
firearms off of a military installation, as recommended by the
Department of Defense Independent Review Related to Fort
(2) submit to the Committee on Armed Services of the
Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House
of Representatives a report regarding the findings of and recommendations
relating to the review conducted under paragraph
(1), including any recommendations for adjustments to
the requirements under this section.
(e) MILITARY INSTALLATION DEFINED.—In this section, the term
‘‘military installation’’ has the meaning given that term under section
2687(e)(1) of title 10, United States Code.
The term “military installation” means a base, camp, post, station, yard, center, homeport facility for any ship, or other activity under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense, including any leased facility, which is located within any of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or Guam. Such term does not include any facility used primarily for civil works, rivers and harbors projects, or flood control projects.
This is great news for Alaskan soldiers. I don't see how USARAK's policy will survive. Currently that policy is:
(2) Soldiers assigned to USARAK are further restricted from carrying POFs concealed at off-post locations IAW the USARAK Commanding General’s policy.And if you dig a bit, that policy reads:
Carrying concealed deadly weapons by USARAK Soldiers represents a significant risk to the safety and welfare of this command. Accordingly, all Soldiers assigned or attached to USARAK are prohibited from carrying a concealed deadly weapon in public places off of all USARAK posts.The USARAK regs also state:
e. No firearms maintained in the household of a military member will be stored in a loaded condition.Which appears to apply to off-base households as well!
It is sad that this took an act of Congress. Thanks to Sen Jim Inhofe!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Section 1062 of the Act prohibits the Secretary of Defense from issuing any requirement, or collecting or recording any information, “relating to the otherwise lawful acquisition, possession, ownership, carrying, or other use of a privately owned firearm, privately owned ammunition, or another privately owned weapon by a member of the Armed Forces or civilian employee of the Department of Defense” on property not owned or operated by the DOD.
Monday, January 10, 2011
"As we understand it, there have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats to kill," [Sheriff] Dupnik said during a press conference Saturday evening. But he wouldn't say who those threats were aimed at.It is one thing for a family member or friend to fail to take action on violent threats. It is another for law enforcement to look the other way. This wasn't his first run-in, either; he wasn't just tossed out of college. The police had to respond to a college class to remove him:
Most murders are not committed by "average people" who "just snap." It happens, but it is rare. Most of the time they are known to police.
Scheidemantel said the school and police backed her up appropriately. "Pima, I have to commend them. Backed me up and was right there. One officer talked to him for about a half-hour outside the classroom, and I think they realized that he was not thinking rationally, and the other officer mentioned something about maybe special ed or whatever. I didn't know, I had no indication if just was in a special program or something like that."
In this case, the local police knew he was unhinged and they knew he was making violent threats. For some reason, nobody took out a protective order (which would have put him on the NICS no-buy list) at the recommendation of local law enforcement (perhaps because they didn't suggest it?). The police never arrested him for assault or terroristic threats. While likely not disabling felonies, these would have gotten him into the system, off the streets for awhile, and maybe gotten him access to a mental health evaluation.
Sheriff Dupnik should take a long look at that local law enforcement agency that let Loughner continue his activities. Admittedly, Pina County is on the same population as Anchorage. I'm sure the police are busy, and terroristic threats are probably pretty low on their priority list. This hammers home the point that if you are a victim of stalking or threats you must file police reports, press charges, and get the restraining order. Yes, also take more concrete steps to protect yourself in case the paper is ignored, but the paper does play an important role too. Too often the police will be happy to push a ticking time bomb like Loughner to the right if the victims aren't assertive because they are too busy putting out today's fires to worry about tomorrow's possible cases. Still, for Dupnik to blame everyone but not look at his department smells a little funny; cui bono from diverting attention?
I have a network of friends who are in my exclusive club. We've talked. We all felt the same way- shaken and vulnerable all over again.
- Joan Peterson, Brady Campaign Director
I don't mean to belittle PTSD. It is a terribly difficult and painful and very real afflicatn. I personally know people who have wrestled with it. If you look at the dictionary definition for PTSD, part of the definition involves this as a critical element:
(1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.None of us can tell how we will respond at the moment of truth. Even hardened veterans, grizzled cops, or "seen it all" EMTs sometimes are exposed to something so horrifying that they have intesne fear, helplessness, or horror. However, mental preparation and training can reduce the chances of these reactions and improve resiliency. The Army knows this. Mental health professionals know this. Self-defense experts -- including those who train police -- know this.
Avoiding intense fear, helplessness, and horror has two major benefits: first, you probably react better in the crisis. Second, you are at lower risk for developing PTSD-like symptoms.
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth...
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
Is it any wonder that three of the four citizen first responders who sprung into action in the the Arizona shooting had "bulletproof minds?" One was an Army vet. Another had already made the decision to carry a loaded, deadly weapon. Another had medical training. They are understandably shook up -- some psychological, some physiological (an adrenaline dump takes 24-72 hours to clear out of your system) -- but statistically they are likely to survive this incident relatively intact, psychologically speaking.