A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, February 17, 2014

Veteran Living in Anti-Gun Chicago Kills Intruder

Ambushed Florida Father in Shootout with Robbers

Gas Station Clerk Fires Gun at Robbery Suspects

84-year-old Woman Shoots Intruder

School Counselor Kills Home Intruder

Woman Shoots Would-Be Rapist

Utah Homeowner Kills Nighttime Intruder

12-Year-Old Girl Shoots Intruder

Armed Texan Shoots Violent Craigslist Robber

Woman Who Shot Returning Robbers Interviewed

Unlucky Thugs Try to Rob Armed Texan

110 lb Female Shoots Attacker In The Face

Surveillance And 911 Recordings Show Store Owner Shoot Armed Burglers

Store Owner Shoots Armed Robber In Chest

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sentencing in the Danziger Bridge Massacre

Tonight a rare waft of justice arose from the steamy swamps surrounding New Orleans and I feel compelled to return to Xavier Thoughts to notate the fact. Earlier today, in a court of law, four murderers and one lying dog were sentenced in the killing of innocent people and the maiming of four others struggling to survive in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans Louisiana.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt imposed the harshest sentence on Robert Faulcon, who was handed a 65 year term for his involvement in killing two of the victims. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius got 40 years for their roles in the murders, while Robert Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years. All were New Orleans police officers. Arthur Kaufman was sentenced to six years or his role in transforming the internal investigation into a police cover-up of the crimes. He, too, was a New Orleans police officer.

In court, Lance Madison, the brother of slain Ronald Madison declared "You are the reason I can no longer trust law enforcement." Indeed.

Since I first began blogging on the Danziger Bridge Massacre in 2005, two months after hurricane Katrina, I discussed the incident with many police officers who were both friends and acquantiences. To a man they all believed that the murderers involved would ultimately be vindicated. How is it that police officers can be so blinded by a badge that they cannot discern murder when it is under their very noses? It's disgusting. Shameful. Sad. This is the reason that no intelligent citizen can trust police officers in the United States any longer. They have removed themselves from society, mentally placed themselves in a special place with special privileges and they view citizens as either criminals or criminals in waiting.

"There were many, many New Orleans police officers who performed courageous, selfless acts of heroism in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez stated. "But regrettably, the acts of heroism of so many have been overshadowed by the misconduct of a few. What we learned in this trial -- what we learned in these convictions -- is that the Constitution never takes a holiday. The Constitution applies every day of every week, and no police officer can take it upon himself or herself to suspend the Constitution."

Those sentenced today were convicted last August on all charges, though a jury somehow found that their actions did not constitute murder. Their seven week trial included testimony from five other former NOPD officers who plead guilty and testified against their former brothers in blue. Thus far, prosecutors have secured eleven convictions in the Danziger Bridge Massacre, from ten NOPD officers to a St. Landry Parish man who impersonated a sheriff's deputy. The Danziger Massacre was a focal point in a series of Justice Department investigations of post-Katrina police wrongdoing that has resulted in a total of fifteen convictions of NOPD officers.

In 2010, three former New Orleans police officers were convicted in the case of Henry Glover, who was murdered and his body burned to conceal the fact. David Warren was convicted of shooting Glover in the back. He was sentenced to more than 25 years in prison in 2011; Gregory McRae, who was found guilty of burning the body, received a 17 plus year sentence. A federal judge has ordered a new trial for the third former police officer Travis McCabe, who was accused of obstructing the investigation. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division launched an investigation into what it has called "patterns or practices" of misconduct by New Orleans police in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, which killed nearly 1,500 people in Louisiana and more than 1,700 across the Gulf Coast.

Robert Faulcon, Jr.: 6 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 3 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 2 counts of obstruction of justice, and 1 count of civil rights conspiracy. 65 years imprisonment.

Kenneth Bowen: 6 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 2 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 2 counts of obstruction of justice, and 1 count of civil rights conspiracy. 40 years imprisonment.

Robert Gisevius, Jr.: 5 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 2 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of obstruction of justice, and 2 counts of civil rights conspiracy. 40 years imprisonment.

Anthony Villavaso II: 5 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 2 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of obstruction of justice, and 1 count of civil rights conspiracy. 38 years imprisonment.

Arthur Kaufman: 4 counts of falsifying official records in a federal investigation, 3 counts of false statements, 2 counts of civil rights conspiracy for false persecution, and 1 count of conspiracy. 6 years imprisonment.

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Monday, August 01, 2011



Monday, January 17, 2011

Discovery of Treasure

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Feminine Protection


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Federal Charges Filed in the Danziger Bridge Massacre

It looks as though the Feds have brought charges against the real shooters of the Danziger Bridge Massacre. This has been a long time coming. I first blogged on this monumental abuse of police authority five years ago. Now, finally, the death penalty is a possibility.

Visit your local gun store for ammunition, leather goods, and news about the economy

One cannot help but wonder if the usual antagonists failed to get behind the push for justice in this case because of the difficulty in painting it as a racial killing. Exactly fifty percent of the gun men are black. The current US Attorney General is certainly no friend of gun owners or free thinking Americans, but I will give credit where it is due. His department got this one right.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Winchester 1894

Crime stoppers at 1600 MPH.

911 can send crime stoppers at 80MPH.
Her rifle can send them at 1600 MPH.


Wedding Photographer

This is why I hate weddings.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Checking a Used 1911 with a Purchase in Mind

There are many advantages to buying guns used. Not only is the price lower, but the selection is more varied. You can often tell the functional quality of the gun by examining wear patterns on it. It is not uncommon for the seller to allow the buyer to shoot the gun. That is the ultimate test, and no NIB gun seller can match it.

Prelude: Make sure the pistol is unloaded. Lock back the slide and check the chamber. Put a finger on top of the magazine follower and across the chamber. Look again. Make sure the pistol is unloaded. During all of this inspection process, keep the muzzle in a safe direction.

#1 Check Originality.

Know what the pistol should look like. Know what the markings on the frame and slide should be and where they should be located. There are many mix master pistols out there, and some are quite good. Essex is not a secret Colt foundry in Area 51 though. Non-original small parts that can be recified do not necessarily lower the price of a pistol, nor do well installed aftermarket parts that work right if the buyer wants that modification. However, they do show that someone has been monkeying around with the pistol, and other inspections should be carried out more stringently. On a collector's piece, they DO lower the value, and should have replacement cost deducted from the price accordingly. We are talking buying shooting pistols here though, not collector's guns.

#2 Check For Damage

The seller should let you field strip the pistol. If he does not, pass on it. Period. There is no reason to refuse this on a used gun except to conceal damage.

Once inside the gun, bring the frame and slide rails up to eye level and check them for straightness like you would a piece of lumber. A bulge on both sides of an area means this gun has suffered a KaBoom. Likewise, run the barrel between your fingers, checking for bulges. Check the bore. Check the barrel and slide lugs for damage and peening. Check the barrel seat for proper fit and signs of impact. Check the breech face and barrel hood for peening. Check the slide for cracks at the beginning of the recoil plug tunnel. Check the frame for cracks at the beginning of the dustcover and the slide stop hole. Some guns with a hole where the rear of the slide stop enters the frame will be cracked in the frame rail above the hole. This is so common that many newer guns have the rail cut out here. A crack in this area is not a cause for alarm in a shooter, but can be a bargaining chip on the price. It is easily repaired by cutting out the crack. Look for signs of an incompetent person using tools inside the pistol. The finish should show normal wear on the rails, breech face, barrel and slide lugs, and other moving parts. Holster wear is OK. In fact, it is a common sign of a gun that works as advertised. Signs of impact from tools, especially around the right slide stop hole are signs of incompetent monkeys with tools in possession of this pistol. A stripped magazine lock screw is a sign of the same.

#3 Check Functions

The slide should pull back easily, without any change in resistance along the length of it's travel. It should lock back quickly and positively with the magazine inserted. Try this both with and without the magazine checking for smoothness of travel.

A Wilson Combat or genuine Colt magazine should insert and lock positively, and fall free upon release, without resistance. It should not rattle in the gun. You may want to bring your own along for this check, as used guns are often sold with cheapo magazines. If the gun has an extended ejector, the magazine should not touch it when inserted.

Ask if it is OK to release the slide from slide lock. This will not harm a 1911 if not done over and over. If it is OK with the owner, remove the magazine with the pistol at slide lock. Place your left thumb on the slide lock and release the slide. The hammer should not follow the slide. Check this one more time. Then, with the hammer still cocked and your finger off the trigger, try to push it off the sear. If the hammer falls in any of these instances, the gun is not safe to load with live ammo until repaired. If the seller balks at this test, pull a snap cap out of you pocket to perform it with. The test will not be as stringent with a snap cap, but if the gun fails with a snap cap, it will certainly fail without one. If the seller balks at the use of a snap cap for the test, pass on the gun.

The thumb safety should snick on and off without resistance in either direction with the hammer cocked. The hammer should not move when engaging the thumb safety. Once engaged, press on the trigger a couple of times with the grip safety depressed. Then raise the rear of the pistol up to your ear and slowly pull back on the hammer. Listen for a little tink sound. If you hear this sound, the thumb safety is allowing the sear to move on the hammer hooks while engaged. Replacement of the thumb safety or sear will be in order.

The grip safety should not allow the trigger to be moved when not depressed. When depressed, it should offer no resistance to the trigger. Depress the grip safety, pull the trigger back and hold it. Release the grip safety. Then release the trigger. The trigger and grip safety should both pop back out quickly and smoothly.

With the hammer cocked and thumb safety off, use your weak hand to hold the slide about 1/8 inch out of battery while pulling the trigger. The hammer should not fall. If it does, the disconnector is worn or monkeyed with, and you may be holding a full auto 1911.

Ask to dry fire the gun. The trigger should release the hammer at a poundage suitable for your likes or greater. Greater poundage than required can be reduced without parts replacement. Making a light trigger heavier often involves new parts. The trigger should be smooth throughout it's travel, and the sear should break cleanly. Once dry fired, lock the slide back and take a look at the breechface. The firing pin should be retracted.

Insert a Bic-Stick type ball point pen into the barrel, plastic end first. Cock and drop the hammer with the barrel pointed straight up. The pen should fly out of the gun at least two feet. Any less is a sign of a weak mainspring, or a sign of firing pin damage.

#4 Check Fittment

On some pistols, such as a Colt, some lateral movement of the slide in battery is acceptable. Unless it is a match grade top of the line gunsmithed pistol, it is expected. The pistol may rattle a bit if shook vigorously from side to side and still be accurate. Other pistols, such as a Les Baer are expected to lock up tighter than Fort Knox.

The rear of the slide should blend smoothly into the frame. Neither the ejector nor the extractor should be above or below the surface. The trigger should not flop around sloppily in it's track. The magazine release should be flush on the right side with a magazine inserted.

Many people evaluate barrel lock-up by pressing on the barrel hood in battery. Movement is considered to be bad. While a firm lock-up is nice, of greater importance is whether the barrel returns to the same location with each slide cycle. The muzzle end of the barrel should not move within the bushing. The slide should not have wear on the muzzle end that passes into the dustcover on recoil.

#5 Evaluating Modifications

If the pistol has any modifications, they should be well done.Custom Sistema I look at the fit of aftermarket grip safeties, especially the way the lines of the pistol was blended into the line of the grip safety. If the rear of the frame has humps in it where it was blended, the gunsmith did not have an eye for quality. The gap between grip safety and frame should be no greater than the thickness of a piece of paper. The grip safety should not rub on either side of the frame.

If it has an aftermarket bushing, I remove it and check that for fit too. A correctly fit bushing should not require a bushing wrench for removal. It should not require a hammer for installation.

Aftermarket extended thumb safeties should snick on and off without mushiness or resistance. I check the underside of the left side of the slide to see if the thumb safety has been battering it. The apex of the thumb safety should be at least 1mm below the slide at rest.

An aftermarket barrel should have no peening on the hood, or the lugs. The slide of such a gun as well as the frame should be checked as well. A well fitted, quality aftermarket barrel (assuming good rifling) is always a plus for me.

Look at the sights. Quality sights with a professional installation are a big plus for me. Sights that look like Bubba bought them on sale at a gun show and installed them with a rock are not. Adjustable sights that are off center make me wonder why.

A refinished gun is not necessarly an indicator of a worn out gun. Gold Cup National MatchMany pistols are refinished after customization is completed. Some finishes, such as hard chrome enhance the durability of the gun. Others like a home baked Gun Kote job may not last long. One thing to consider is that a refinish (assuming it's not 24 kt. gold) should never add to the cost of the gun, but a bad refinish can subtract from it. A good finish is expected. The same applies to grips. If the price is being jacked up because of them, ask to buy the gun without them, unless they are factory ivory. If you want them, and they are not ivory, they should not add to the price of the gun. Ugly or dinged up grips subtract from the price.

A non-original full length guide rod and an extended slide stop are red flags to me. They tell me the last owner did not understand this pistol very well. Conversely, a pistol that came with a FLGR but now presents with a GI set-up tells me the last owner knew the gun. Known cheapo aftermarket parts (they are easy to spot) tell me the last owner had a ghetto mentality about the gun.

Often I will be told "This gun was done by (insert name of reknowned 'smith")". It pays to be able to recognize quality work, and to know what different people's work often looks like. Suffice to say, a gun that has passed through a reknowned gunsmith's hands should have an appearance and function several degrees above what the factory puts out, regardless of who makes the gun. It should NEVER look worse than a top of the line gun. These men do not put out trash. Many less than stellar gunsmiths do. Which brings us to item #5.

#5b Spotting Incompetent Work

People love to fiddle with a 1911. It's hard not to. It looks so easy. It's not. JE Clark 1911It is easier to screw up a 1911 than to "improve" one.

The first thing that jumps out at me is buggered up grip screws. If a man cannot use a screwdriver, he is not mechanically equipped to open up a 1911. 'nuff said.

Next I look at the feed ramp with the slide locked back. There should be about a 2mm step between the bottom of the barrel and the top of the feed ramp on a Government Model. Incompetent gun hacks love to take a Dremel to the feed ramp of 1911's. If this step is not present, the gun will never feed ammo properly, and it cannot be repaired for less than the cost of a frame replacement.

I look at lowered ejection ports for the straightness of the lines. The scallop behind the ejection port should have smooth edges and be in the right place.

I look at the sights for signs of heavy handed handiwork. Punch marks around the sights and the slide stop hole, as well as stripped mag release screws and pins inserted backwards are red flags.

#6 Shooting the Pistol

One of the advantages of buying used is the ability to test fire the gun without lowering it's value in the marketplace Many sellers will allow you to fire their gun if they percieve you as a serious buyer. It never hurts to ask. 9mm CommanderOffer the owner a "test target" to help him in his sale if you do not buy. Expect to buy the ammo, and no +P ammo. No reloads from your Brother-in-Law Bernie. Only clean factory ammo, and some JHP if it's a defensive weapon. Somewhere between 50 and 100 rounds. Buy the ammo from the seller if he is a dealer. If he will only let you shoot one magazine "out back" make it your preferred JHP and try your darndest to create a jam. Offer to clean the gun when you are done. The combination of a high dollar guaranteed ammo sale, a decent test target, and a clean gun is often to much to resist if the seller trusts you. Heck, invite him along to shoot your prize Python while he waits.

Once at the range, I first load three rounds of JHP and shoot them to see if I get hammer follow or a full auto effect. I do this twice, at different speeds.

Then I load a magazine full of JHP and empty it into a target as fast as I can with a limp wrist. For once, I do not care about groups. I am trying to jam the gun. I note where the empties fly. I pick one or two up and check them for centered primer strikes and dents in the case. Then I load up another magazine with JHP and do the same limp wrist procedure, except this time holding the pistol upside down. I do this often enough that the Range Officer knows I am in a buying mood.

I try to fire the pistol with the thumb safety engaged. I try to fire it with the grip safety released. I allow my thumb to ride the slide to see if I can initiate a malfunction.

If the pistol continues to work as advertised, Combat EliteI load up some target rounds and shoot for accuracy. I am not a bullseye shooter, so I usually shoot from sandbags at 15 yards. As long as the pistol performs better than me, I figure it is accurate enough. I shoot several groups of five rounds, and compare consistency as well as accuracy. I try to eliminate any of my own shortcomings from the equation.

If the pistol has no failures, I clean it, and get to re-examine the interior, but this time with the advantage of fresh soot and cleaning fluid. If the job is done carefully, it can reveal damage that is invisible to the naked eye. Liquified soot will travel right to a crack. A piece of cloth dragged over a part can snag on a burr the finger can not feel.

Finally, let me say that the price of the gun should be agreed on at the counter, before the test fire. You should never use the test fire as a bargaining chip to lower the price. If you do that, the seller will likely never allow you to test fire a gun again, and you might like the next gun even more. The test fire should be seen only as a means to eliminate a potential problem gun before a transfer of ownership. You should only request a test fire if you are prepared to buy right then. If you find a problem that eliminates the gun, explain what you found in good humor. Above all, do not become hostile, but do not waver. If the owner offers a lower price, consider it and take it if you like, but never, never, make him think you are trying to get him to lower the price. At the range, a change in price should always be the seller's option. One more thing, if the seller has gone this far to sell you a gun, he deserves your loyalty. He is an honest seller, the type all gun buyers look for. The ability to buy a gun you have shot first is valuable. It is a valuable consideration when you are haggling at his counter. Don't forget that.


Sunday, June 06, 2010



Monday, May 31, 2010

Please Don't Forget.

Gold Star


Sunday, May 30, 2010

From the Archives ~ Standing on the X

After I encountered the story of Keith Labrozzi, and that of Stephen Swan and Matthew Butler, I felt compelled to share a few of my lessons learned. I don't know it all, I am no self defense guru, but I have been in and out of some damned spooky places and situations both in the States and third world countries of the Orient. I had the advantage of learning to protect myself through avoidance in countries where I did not speak the language very well. Advantage? Yes. I did not respond to the verbal tactics used to bewilder a victim and place them off guard. To remain safe, I had to study the body language and tactics of those who would do me harm. I found that criminals share many commonalities as they go about their business. There is a lot of bad information, assumptions and beliefs out there, only one of which is the gun being a magic talisman. Hopefully, I will address a couple more here.

Sometimes, because of events I have experienced in my life, I have a fatalistic point of view. When your number is up, when you are standing on that X,......Well, everyone has to die sometime.

But then, as a nurse, I know not everyone dies immediately. Some victims of crime are crippled. Some are paralyzed. Some jockey wheelchairs and wear colostomy bags. They develop decubitus ulcers that demand constant care, lest they become infected, creating sepsis and killing the victim, concluding a tragic chain of events years after a victim's bad decision and a criminal's actions set them in motion. Other victims survive on life support, brain dead, unknowingly generating years of agony and turmoil over every medical and nursing decision their loved ones are forced to face. I do not want to do that to my wife and children.

When I worked Home Health, providing specialized wound care in some of the most crime infested areas of a poverty stricken state, I carried redundant guns. One was on my hip under my lab coat, or in a SmartCarry holster if I was wearing scrubs. One was my nursing bag, secured in a middle compartment, velcroed shut. That bag was actually a soft sided briefcase designed to carry a gun. I recommend a similar bag to every nurse or physician I teach. In my pocket I carried a revolver, because I expected the struggle to be in confined spaces, quickly going to the ground, with the firearm jammed in the criminal's ribs. In the back of my Jeep Cherokee, I carried an aluminum baseball bat, my non-lethal weapon.

Twice over a period of eleven years of this type of work, I felt compelled to draw a weapon. Once, I pulled the bat. Each time, the event could have been avoided by better planning on my part. The learning curve was steep, but I was learning.

There are reasons why a grammar school dropout who cannot multiply 26 by 4 is able to outwit and victimize a person who is of demonstrably higher intelligence and social proficiency.

First, the criminal does this for a living. They are not as dumb as many think they are. If you fail to respect their level of skill, you will be unprepared to deal with them. They are not dumb. They just attended a different "school" and studied a different "curriculum". To understand and predict their behavior, you must know a bit of that curriculum as well. Understanding the behaviors and motivations of different types of criminals is the framework with which a wise person protects themselves. Know your enemy. Then practice avoidance if you can. If avoidance is impossible, try evasion. Try both of these tactics prior to defense. You do not have to "win" a dangerous encounter. Nobody wins a gunfight. They simply survive.

The next reason that a criminal can overcome a victim is they have a plan. They are acting offensively, while the victim is reacting defensively. By having a plan in place before contact is made, the criminal has a distinct advantage. They have considered contingencies. They know what they are going to do. They often work in numbers, confusing and surrounding the victim beforehand. They know what's coming. The victim does not. Know how the criminal works. He has a plan, and is looking for a victim to impose the plan on. The criminal has considered, and quite possibly experienced the reactions he will receive from his victim before the fact. Having a plan of action to deal with criminal activities is vital once you have been targeted. There is no one plan to fit every contingency. Having a counter plan is good, but removing yourself from the victim selection process is a far superior tactic.

The active criminal conceals their intent until they have selected a victim, moved in for the attack, and possibly made a couple of probes to assess the victim's responses. Recognizing the criminal's actual intent is vital. That gives you the edge to counter his plan with a plan of your own. The most frequent mistake that a victim makes is the failure to recognize the threat until it is to late. The criminal works with behavioral devices to conceal his actual purpose. The potential victim must see through the veil and recognize the actual intent if they are to counter the criminal. The criminal may be a scruffy crackhead, or they may be an attractive member of the opposite sex. They may be working alone, or in groups, either seen or unseen. They may even be an angry family member.

Once the criminal's plan is set in motion, the victim must seize the initiative. They must place the criminal on the defense. They must force him into the role of the person who is reacting to the unexpected. Your gun may be unexpected, or it may not be. It is your choices, your behavior that must redirect the conflict, not your firearm.

Analyzing when you are most vulnerable is key. Military men know that insertion is not the time of vulnerability. Extraction is. Crimes that occur when a person is entering a building are often crimes of opportunity, the work of amateurs. The criminal is easily disengaged. This is also a time when a more experienced criminal will size you up. They will sometimes make the first contact on your entrance, knowing that an exit is soon to follow. Crimes that occur when a person exits a building are much more likely to be targeted towards the specific individual, and be premeditated. The criminal knows your presence when you are leaving. While you were otherwise engaged, he was formulating his plan, and perhaps gathering allies. He possibly even knows the path you will take, as it is usually the most direct one to your vehicle. These are much more difficult to avoid and disengage from.

I knew that I was most vulnerable when I left an apartment or house in the crime and gang infested areas where I worked. Before I opened the door of an apartment to leave, I would take a look outside the window. The patients understood why, hell they lived there. I always, on the first patient contact, explained that I did not carry drugs, syringes (a lie), money, or valuables. I wore an ugly old Timex. I carried a beat up camera for wound documentation......I actually took sandpaper to it to make it less desirable. I drove a humble Grand Cherokee with a dented fender and ugly rims. I made certain the young men in the home, often involved in illegal if not outright gang activity, knew my purpose. I was there to provide nursing service, not to act as a police informant. I made sure they knew I would pull out and not only let them rot, but impede further care by other agencies if I was threatened. I did not equivocate on these issues. Often, these young men would serve as my protection against the threats as I came and went about my business. I would talk and listen as I worked, gathering information not just on specifics, but on the emotional climate of the area. I made mental notes of who came and went in the homes, the layout of the homes, as well as blankets hung in doorways and doors padlocked shut. One of the odd beliefs in these areas is that law enforcement needed a separate search warrant for padlocked doors inside a home. Thus, a padlocked door indicated illegal activity within the home. All good information to know. Even though young men or women, often seen as criminals, might serve as my protectors in these neighborhoods, I kept my distance and would not allow them to walk me to my vehicle. They knew why.

I would park where I had alternate routes to my vehicle. I would keep open space around me and structures and objects as much as possible. I made myself a difficult target. Still, I had to approach my Jeep. The criminals knew where to lie in wait. Thus, I was careful to park where I would have some room to see my attacker as he approached my vehicle, and where I could observe the vehicle from inside the home. Time and distance were my protection. I had a square convex mirror stuck on the rear glass of the Cherokee's hatch so I could see an approach from behind as I opened it. I had remote controlled door locks, and I disabled the passenger side and rear outside door handles. I kept the batteries changed in the door remote, giving me max power in opening them, and I kept the Cherokee maintained with a full gas tank.

Today, my situation is different, but I still take the time to realistically recognize my vulnerabilities, and to raise my level of awareness when I am most vulnerable. It is the heightened awareness that prevents a person from being victimized, not the gun concealed on their person.

Drawing and using a gun is only a part of one plan. It is a possible counter action, but not the only one. Keeping your back to the wall in a restaurant is only one technique. We plan for crimes that we hear about, the ones that make the 6:00 news. Most crimes do not occur as the spectacular robbery with multiple patrons in a restaurant or bar. They occur when the victim is alone and vulnerable, in a laundromat, walking a dog, or approaching their automobile or front door. These opportunities for criminals to ply their trade must be countered as well. Gunfighting is not about guns, it's about fighting. You must be willing and able to fight, and fighting is about survival. The gun is only a means of increasing your advantage in a struggle for life and survival. The best way to survive is to recognize and avoid or offset the threat altogether. Survive at all costs.

Related: When Being a Good Guy Isn't Enough
A Tactical Analysis of the Tyler Courthouse Shooting and the Tacoma Mall Shooting
By Syd

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Monday, May 17, 2010

From the Archives ~ Recognizing Threats

A couple of weeks years ago I wrote a post on the realities of surviving a gunfight. Much of my writing focused on the need to avoid the conflict. Many believe that they can avoid conflict by avoiding particular areas. This is not always the case. A person must go about one's life, and the criminal element does the same. A person may be more likely to be attacked in certain areas, but they can be victimized virtually anywhere. Indeed, they are often less prepared in their own element. Conflict avoidance requires threat recognition.

To recognize threats, one has to understand how the criminal mind works. The criminal is a predator. He (or she) sees the world as having two types of people.....Other predators and prey. Many honest gun owners like to think of themselves as "sheepdogs" but to the criminal, the sheepdog is simply another brand of predator. Like other beasts, it is a matter of survival for the criminal to prey on those weaker than themselves. To select the wrong victim is to become prey. If you want to survive in the criminal's world, you must be seen as a superior predator. Once you understand the criminal's thought processes, most attacks can be avoided simply by removing oneself from the victim selection process. There are several steps to victimization.

This is when the criminal decides to commit a crime. He likely has not selected a victim yet. Internally, however, the criminal has made the decision that he must fill a need, whether it be money to pay off his grandma's medicine bill, or cash to buy a bit of crack. He has decided to go to work. He may work alone, or with others, but like anyone else who goes to work, the working criminal's body language and demeanor changes. The criminal must disguise his intent, however, lest he be snared by the ultimate predator, the police. Thus, the working criminal lies in wait, like a lion in the grass, waiting for suitable prey. He is observant, and he will toss out bait to potential prey to see if he gets a nibble. Often, a criminal team will place the least threatening member in view to test potential prey while the others on the team remain hidden. He is not a fisherman, however, he does not require a nibble. The criminal is a predator. Failure to nibble at the bait is also a sign of potential prey. Remember, the only way to be left alone by this predator, or team of predators, is to be seen as a superior predator.
A superior predator may not attack, but they will always recognize other predators. If the criminal is recognized by someone he sees as an equal or superior predator, he will stay in the shadows as long as he or his territory is not threatened. If the recognition comes from someone he sees as prey, however, he begins to work in earnest.

The criminal, once he has observed a potential victim, will send out some test runs to determine if the person is indeed prey, or predator. These tests may be asking for a match, the time, or change. The initial tests all have one thing in common. They violate boundaries, and determine if the selected person will allow their space and generosity to be violated. The predator is mimicking a common panhandler to get in close, test the waters and position himself for attack. All of these persons are easily recognized by their inappropriate behavior and boundary violations. Like the fish who fails to recognize the moray eel on the reef, the person who fumbles for change with a predator has sealed their fate. The ruses are many and varied. I have seen crackheads target tourists and ask to get their pictures taken. I have seen balloon ladies that had accomplices working in the shadows. I have seen young women toss out lewd comments as their male accomplices tried to blend into the landscape. I have seen kids sitting on trash cans in housing projects while older gang members waited around the corner. I have even seen one teen lay on the side of the road in the projects waiting for a good Samaritan as his accomplices hid behind a dumpster. Like the anglerfish, these predators actively dangle lures to allow them to catch prey. To be seen as a potentially superior predator, one must simply recognize the threat, refuse to engage, and continue without alarm.

If the predator is engaged, a request for change quickly becomes a demand for a dollar, then a twenty, then a blow to the head as soon as the victim refuses. This kind of escalation is common with young gangs who quickly befuddle their prey with unrelated questions and demands from all directions. As the victim struggles with the insistent demands and questions, the gang will begin positioning itself for attack. These criminals work like sharks, first brushing their victim, then bumping it, and finally going after the victim is a swirl of blood and gore as others also jump in.

The most feared predator is the one who uses the silent selection process. This criminal watches the parade of people passing by, while trying to blend into the scenery. He wants to be neither seen or remembered. Once he recognizes and selects a victim, he knows he needs the right time and place to launch his attack. He may follow his selected victim to a more promising location. If he follows his victim, he knows that he must go unrecognized as a predator. He is the tiger in the jungle, relying on stealth to get close enough to quickly subdue his prey. Like the tiger, he leaves his lair to hunt. He may stalk his victim for long periods of time. He may lose interest in a selected victim that never knew he was there. He may follow the victim until the victim enters an area where an attack can be successful. If the time and place are already in his favor when the victim is selected, however, the victim will be like the fly who fails to recognize the chameleon among the leaves. Thankfully, these predators who use the silent selection process are not as common as other predators. They are, however, highly effective, giving the victim very little warning. The key to recognizing them is the last chance of conflict avoidance.

The final indicator of an impending attack is positioning. Once positioning commences, the victim has been selected, and an attack is imminent unless immediate action is taken. Positioning is recognizable by escape routes being cut off if the attacker is alone. In the case of multiple predators, attackers will both surround and approach from vulnerable angles. This is the jackal approach to the hunt. Once it occurs, the only choice the victim has is to either fight for their life or pray for the predator's generosity. If the predator moves into position, he has already decided that his victim is prey. He will attack. The only thing that will stop the attack is the sudden realization he has made a fatal error and chosen a superior predator. Proof of this mentality is the many incarcerated criminals who believe their last victim somehow victimized them instead.

And this, finally, is where citizens arming themselves against criminals need to focus. Armed citizens like to think of themselves as sheepdogs. However, inside every sheepdog is a lineage that can be tracked back to the wolf. The sheepdog understands the wolf because he is a wolf with another purpose. He is a predator as well.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pawn Shop Circuit: If the Price is not Right.......

I strolled into Neil's pawn shop today, and I found the usual firearms underneath the glass. Nothing special. We talked a bit about concealed carry classes. Neil was up for a renewal, and he wanted to go to a class that had a more authorative legal session. I recommended a local class that the DA assists with on Saturdays. It's hard to get much more authorative than that.

I looked over the jewelry for Mother's Day and we talked some more. Finally, we drifted back to the guns and I noticed that what I thought was the same old Charter Arms Undercover was not. In Neil's case was a Smith & Wesson Model 30, with a pinned barrel and a battered finish. I asked to see it.

The little 32 Long revolver locked up nicely, and appeared to have been a purse gun or a pocket gun for a long time. Whoever owned it did not believe in holsters though. The finish was comprised more of bare metal and rust than blue. Neil had it priced at $219.

"How much?" I asked.

"For you, $200." Neil started, as he shifted his cigar to the other side of his mouth.

"I don't know," I said. "It's a 32, and I don't shoot that. Plus, I pretty much quit buying guns."

"You have been pretty much a stranger," Neil responded. "How about $175?"

"Let me think about it." I countered, and Neil placed the revolver back in the case.

"I think I got into that one for too much," said Neil.

"Yeah, probably so. I don't have that luxury though," I countered.

"Hey, let my show you this one from the back," said Neil, and he disappeared behind the office door. When he returned he had a familiar blue box in his hands. He opened it to reveal a pinned Model 15 with diamond grips. "What year do you think this is?"

"Probably right at 1957-58," I replied. "Is it coming out?" The box matched the gun, but somebody had written 1973 inside the lid.

"Not yet. Want me to call you when it does?"

I looked the gun over. It was laying on a rag in the box without the tools. It was a four screw gun. It had just enough wear at the muzzle and yoke to take it out of collector status for most people, but not enough on the cylinder to put it firmly into the shooter category for me. "Sure, dial me up when it's available," I replied. "I'll be interested for the right price."

"I think I might be able to do that on this one," said Neil.

"Good deal." We shook hands, and I left for home with a four screw Combat Masterpiece on my mind.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stark White Backgrounds

Zack Arias gives a tutorial on shooting into a stark white background. It's not how I did it , but I might use it in the future.

For the image at right, I used a white cinderblock wall and direct sunlight. It did not take much to blow out the wall when the jacket was properly exposed. At any rate, Zack Arias is blogrolled. Good stuff there.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Springfield Mil-Spec Mud Test

Foul language warning.......


Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Question of Purpose

Original question: practical snub nose range?
I've been praticing 10 yards. very humbling shooting a snubby for first time. i would like to stretch out to 25 yards by summers ends.

This question was asked in an online forum that I help moderate. It received the usual responses of how 25 yard accuracy was possible with a snubnose revolver. I finally had to say something. My response, for better or worse, is below. Oh, and the illustration is not me. It is FBI Agent Jelly Bryce proving he can drop a silver dollar and have his Model 27's sights on target before the coin clatters to the floor.

I'm aware that the snubbie is capable of making 25 yard shots. There are some guys that make amazing shots with snub nosed revolvers at great distances. If I work at it long enough, I might be reliably accurate at 25 yards with it myself. That's not the thing though.

For me, a snubbie is a close in weapon. It's a fighting gun, and a darned good one. It has stood the test of time for a reason. It's a weapon that fits the problem. It has some great attributes. It conceals well, is extremely reliable, fast on target, and it will fire with the muzzle jammed into the ribs of a man beating the snot out of you.

And you see, that is the issue, really. Almost all fights, and most lethal encounters start at a range of ten yards or less. Conversation distance. I carry the snubbie for personal protection, not exhibition shooting. I figure the chances of someone standing in the open, shooting at me from 25 yards is pretty remote. By contrast, having to defend myself from a range of fists and lead pipes to 20 feet against a moving aggressor while I am moving myself has a higher probability. As a civilian, having to defend myself from my back after being hit in the head from behind is also fairly high. Thus I train in that fashion. I practice at ten yards, often less. I practice from concealment against a timer, while moving. If possible, I use a target that moves as well. I practice shooting one handed, weak handed, and from the supine position.

The most important consideration for me is five shots to a reload, and a cartridge that is on the relative low range of effectiveness. I want shots in my target fast from concealment. I want this done before he gets shots in me. I want to be getting myself towards cover for a reload or an escape at the same time that I am defending myself.

If I am forced to deal with a maniac with an AR at 25 yards, then for me it's a question of tactics. Take cover. Either advance behind cover to a more effective range, or draw them in to effective range and ambush them. But...... at 25 yards in most environments that an attack would occur in, escape is a more healthy option than engaging the aggressor.

But then, fighting is always a question of tactics, in theory at least. Maximize the effectiveness of your weapon of choice while diminishing the VA's effectiveness. The subject is engaging to discuss, and it provides a guide of action and training. Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until they are punched in the mouth. He was right about that, and he knew fighting pretty well. Thing is, Iron Mike wouldn't want to face a maniac with an AR at 25 yards with only his fists. He would die if the maniac had only an ounce of skill or luck. If Tyson could take cover behind a brick wall and ambush the maniac when he came looking for him though, he might stand a chance. If he could stay inside the arc of the AR's barrel as he beat the maniac's face to a pulp, he would likely live. I strive for the ferocity of Tyson when attacked, but I don't have his strength, endurance or skill with my fists. So I carry a gun instead. Chances are, a snubbie up the nose will be a passable substitute.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blues Man

I photographed a local guitar player for a soon to be released CD last weekend. Gary Ferguson once played in South Texas on the Rock & Roll and Blues circuit. He has slung riffs with the likes of Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Kenny Rogers once borrowed a dollar from him.

Gary's favorite instrument is his 1956 Gretsch Duo Jet. The photos I took last weekend were for what may be the last album Gary will record. He has contracted Alzheimers, and is slowly losing his ability to play. I tried to capture the fragile slice of time that remains of his musical creativity for him.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trek Commuter Update

I received the Specialized Armadillo tires and mounted them on the Trek 970 commuter bike. This is not the Trek.... It's just a recent photograph with a bike frame........My tastes have evolved to the right combination conglomeration of parts and ingenuity for me, and the Trek will be very similar to my Raleigh commuter bike.

Because the Trek has no fender eyelets on the front forks, fenders may be a challenge. Also, I had to go with 26X1.95 tires, the more narrow Nimbus Armadillos were no longer available. Beach cruiser style fenders would fit. A commuter bike needs fenders, so I guess I'll fit the cut down fenders that I had on the Raleigh at first.....

This afternoon I am off to photograph a local guitarist for an album release.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

An American expat living in Italy for the last 20 years decided to blog a bit about my last post. Mike said:
"Does that sound a little paranoid to you? It certainly does to me. Where is the line between reasonable precaution which constitute preparedness and over-the-top paranoid delusion? Can planning for every contingency to this degree become a trap for some people which itself diminishes freedom? Or, does it make sense to plan meticulously for the extremely rare event of armed home invasion and the even rarer event of home invasion by a team of commandos?"
I typed up a response for Mike, and thought better of it. Chances are, since he did not have the courage to post a comment on my blog, he would simply delete my comment on his. So, I preserved it here prior to posting it. To wit:

Mike, we all form our opinion of the world around us based on our personal experiences. I do not "prepare for violent contingencies as if a squad of commandos is liable to attack at any moment" as you put it. I prepare for a violent and quick moving encounter that has me behind in the OODA loop. That is much more likely to be one or two criminals than a squad of crack commandos. Regardless, if I am behind on the OODA loop, chances are I will be impaired for life or dead unless I have the means of rapidly reversing the unfolding events.

Mike, the reason why a high school drop out failure at life thug can defeat and put down a well trained college graduate in a violent confrontation is not because he is smarter. It is because he has a plan and he is familiar with human behavior in violent encounters. To be able to survive such a situation, a person can depend on luck, or they can prepare themselves through training and education. To adequately prepare, they must understand the nature of a violent encounter and what their inadequacies are when attacked.

A gun does not protect you Mike. The ability to use the gun swiftly, effectively and decisively are what protects you when you are down to your last option. You will note, however, if you took the time to read before you decided to type out your screed, that I advocate first recognition, then avoidance and evasion of threats. To remain safe, the threat must first be recognized.

The fear of appearing "not normal" leads many people walking around totally unprepared for a violent encounter with a criminal. I do not know if you are a person such as this, or if you are a gun owner who simply believes that having a gun is enough. Honestly, it doesn't matter to me. I do encourage you to become a gun owner if you are not, and get solid, professional training in self defense if you are. Your lack of understanding of the nature of a violent encounter is readily apparent.

I took a look at your sidebar, and I saw "I'm an American expat living in Italy these last 20 years." That about sums it up, doesn't it? I'll put it to you this way Mike. I'm a law abiding citizen of a country where I can carry an effective means of self defense. I chose to do so. Because I do so, I invest the time to learn to use it effectively.

Now you can peck away all the you like about it, but that will not change. Am I paranoid? Are you talking clinically paranoid? Paranoia is a term that delusional people use in a derogatory fashion to describe those better prepared than themselves. It makes them feel more secure as they smugly cite statistics and anecdotes. All the while, people continue to die in violent encounters, while others manage to survive. I encourage you to investigate why some victims survive while others do not.

I'll answer a couple of your questions as well. Have I been a victim? Yes. Did it lead me towards gun ownership? No. I already owned guns. It did lead me towards effective, realistic training.

I recently had a friend, a police officer, die as the result of a violent encounter. He was holding a taser on a criminal instead of his gun. The criminal pulled a gun and shot and killed him before his partner could return fire, or before my friend could transition from his taser to his own gun. Should he have tased the criminal? IMHO, yes. However, he followed his training and went for his own gun when he saw the criminal produce a gun. As a result, he was behind on the OODA loop, was shot and killed.

These encounters happen with breathtaking speed. Training is essential, but more importantly, recognizing and understanding the threat is imperative. It is this aspect of self defense that so many people ignore, and if you had taken the time to read a bit deeper, perhaps you would have found it.

Excessive gun fanaticism? It's a gun blog Mike. Oh, occasionally it gets into photography, bicycles and such, but my core readership is gun owners and those who care about defending themselves if need be. I know my readers, just as you know your readers.

Rather than just address your blog post, I went searching through your blog for your true feelings on guns. I found it, I think, at the end of this post.
"Let me be perfectly clear. My own, extremely biased opinion is there are too many guns in the hands of too many people and something should be done about it."
I should have known. Have a good life Mike. Enjoy your blogging. Goodnight.


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