May 312013
Carrying a concealed pistol in your purse can be either very safe or very dangerous. Please ensure you do so safely.

Carrying a concealed pistol in your purse can be either very safe or very dangerous. Please ensure you do so safely.

A woman in St Petersburg FL accidentally shot her friend in the leg with the pistol she apparently forgot she was carrying in her handbag.

She – and her friend – should both consider themselves as very lucky.  The consequences could have been much more severe for both of them.  The woman might have shot a lawyer’s kid instead!  The friend might have been fatally wounded, even in the leg (femoral artery), and so on.

According to this report of the incident, the woman had a small-caliber semi-auto in a ‘gun bag’ that was in the bottom of her apparently large-sized purse.  She dropped the purse, causing the gun to go off.

There are a couple of possible reasons for the gun going off after being dropped in the purse.

Maybe it is an old design of semi-auto pistol – almost every modern revolver and semi-auto pistol is designed to not discharge when dropped, but earlier models of both types of pistols were sometimes at risk of self-discharging in such cases.

If any of your pistols have this design oversight, you should stop using them.  Murphy’s Law dictates that if you have a gun with a vulnerability, then the situation that creates that vulnerability, no matter how unlikely it may be, is sure to arise at the worst possible moment.  Just ask the woman in Florida.

The other possibility is that maybe something else in the woman’s purse knocked against the trigger when the purse hit the floor, causing the gun to go off in a situation that wasn’t really the gun’s fault.

It is essential that your carry pistol be appropriately holstered.  The holster should protect the entire trigger area so that nothing can get into the trigger guard and to the trigger.

In the case of purses, the holster should both protect the trigger area so nothing else in the purse can accidentally press on the trigger, but it should also locate the pistol in a specific part of the purse so you always know where it is and how to grasp it when reaching in to your purse to retrieve it.

There’s more to choosing an ideal holster, but protecting the trigger area is probably the most important.

So please make sure your carry method and your carry pistol do not have any of these vulnerabilities.  An accidental discharge – some would say a better term is negligent discharge, because invariably you are to blame when the gun unexpectedly fires – can not only bring devastating consequences to you and other people around you, but it also gives more support to the anti-gunners out there, helping them to ‘prove’ that people can’t be trusted with guns in public.

We are all relying on your responsible good sense, for all reasons.  Please don’t let us (and you) down.

Apr 242013
It requires more well-placed shots than you'd expect to stop a determined attacker.

It requires more well-placed shots than you’d expect to stop a determined attacker.

A problem with firearms and self defense topics is there’s a profusion of ‘experts’ but very little factual basis to many of their opinions.

So, wherever possible, we prefer to ‘let the facts do the talking’ rather than listen to ‘experts’.

Here’s a thought provoking story of a police sergeant in Skokie, IL.  One day he unexpectedly found himself going at it, mano a mano, in a shootout with a fleeing felon.  He had no backup, the encounter suddenly started, and lasted 56 seconds, all at very close range (most gunfights are of short duration and at almost ‘bad breath’ distance).

By the end of the encounter, 54 shots had been fired – 21 by the felon, 33 by the police sergeant.  Probably more would have been fired by both participants, but they were each running low on ammo.

The felon missed with all 21 of his shots.  The sergeant did extremely well, getting 17 of his shots on target.  The officer was also a master firearms trainer and a sniper with his local SWAT team, so clearly had firearms skills and experience way above the average police officer.

There are several points that this real life story makes.  See if you picked up on them.

First, note the massive expenditure of rounds by both parties (and remember they’d have shot more if they had more to shoot).  The point here is that it took a highly skilled police sergeant 33 shots to stop his opponent.  If he’d not had this much ammo for his duty weapon, the outcome of the encounter could have been tragically different.

So – how much ammunition do you carry with you?  Are you prepared for a fire-fight where it takes you 33 or more rounds to fight off a single attacker?  What if there are two guys you are defending yourself against?  Do you have more than 66 rounds?

Second, note that the bad guy missed with all 21 of his shots, and the police sergeant ‘only’ got half his on target (which is at least twice as good as the average police officer, and we’ll wager, much better than the average civilian).

This points to the need to be able to shoot both accurately and repeatedly at your opponent(s).  In other words, a five shot snub nosed wheelgun ain’t gonna be much good.

Third, count the number of times the bad guy was hit.  After being hit 14 times, including six hits that are considered fatal, he was still pressing his attack.  It was only after the sergeant got three (not one or two, but three!) head shots did the fight seep out of the bad guy; and even so, the bad guy lived for some time afterwards and only eventually died in hospital.

If you think you just need to get one or perhaps two shots on target when a bad guy is attacking you, think again.  This bad guy soaked up 14 rounds and continued to fight, and only stopped after taking three more shots to the head.

When you’re defending yourself in an extreme situation like this, you don’t have time to pause and judge the effect of each shot you’ve fired.  You need to just keep shooting as rapidly as you can until the other guy ceases to be a threat.

There’s a fourth point that you would be well advised to focus on as well.  Nothing seems to provoke more controversy than the subject of what is the ‘best’ caliber to use with a pistol.  Did you notice the caliber the police sergeant was using – the caliber so puny that it took 17 hits – nine of them ‘fatal’ hits – to get the bad guy out of the fight?

It was the hallowed sainted .45 ACP!  And probably a high quality hollow point type of bullet.  Yes – all you people who brashly boast about how your .45 ACP chambered pistol will solve any problem you might encounter with a single shot, need to think about the implications of this very carefully.  The facts don’t lie, and the bad guy wasn’t on PCP or any other drug that can sometimes give a person more ‘stamina’ when taking fire.  The first 14 hits (six of them theoretically fatal) didn’t stop the bad guy at all.

It is perhaps unsurprising to read, at the end of the story, that the sergeant no longer carries a 13 round Glock 21 in .45 ACP.  Instead he carries a 17 round Glock 17, chambered in 9mm.  The police sergeant now realizes that the caliber of round really doesn’t make any difference at all – surviving and winning a gun fight is all about getting as many good hits on the other guy as possible, no matter what caliber of round you are using.

Oh yes, and the police sergeant will not be caught out a second time with insufficient ammo.  He now carries 145 rounds of 9mm with him.

He actually did two good things by trading his .45 for a 9mm.  Not only can he more conveniently carry more ammo, and shoot more between mag changes, but he now has a compatible primary and backup pistol.  Both are chambered for 9mm, and both can use the same magazines that he has with him.

It took a brush with death for this police sergeant to improve his game.  Save yourself a similar situation, and learn from his experience.

Feb 112013
Don't learn your lessons from the movies. Dirty Harry isn't real. And you're not a cop.

Don’t learn your lessons from the movies. Dirty Harry isn’t real. And you’re not a cop.

So there you are.  You’ve surprised three felons about to burglarize your property.  Fortunately, you have your handgun with you, and when you confront them as an armed homeowner, the three felons very sensibly turn tail and flee.

Great.  So far, so good.  Bravo.

But what happens next can completely change your day if you’re not careful.  There you are – heart pounding, blood surging, adrenalin levels off the scale, full of righteous anger, and your gun is in your hand.  Maybe you even have some vague fuzzy perception that it is legal to shoot after felons, perhaps because you are ‘in hot pursuit’ or something like that.

Do you shoot after the bad guys?  Or do you carefully holster your handgun and call the police?

Don’t just answer this question in the calm and comfort of where and how you’re reading this.  Try and really put yourself in the scene, and understand how you’d be thinking and reacting.

Now – the answer.  Would you shoot after the bad guys?

If you answered ‘yes’, go take a cold shower.  Then come back and please continue reading.

If you answered ‘no’, congratulations, but don’t relax.  Drill that ‘I must not shoot’ thought hard into your brain, so that when the situation actually occurs and you’re operating more on instinct and emotion, your rational self can still fight away the blood lust and desire for vengeance and correctly guide your actions.

Don’t just take our word for it.  Read this short news item about a homeowner in a scenario pretty much as we just depicted.  He did the wrong thing, and got locked up for it, and now is facing an expensive journey through the legal system, with the only certain thing in his future being tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, many sleepless nights full of worry, and possibly – probably – a criminal conviction on his record and maybe even some prison time.

Two things to remember :

First :  Your state may or may not have a long laundry list of situations in which it might be legal to use lethal force.  But the only one of these which is likely to be unimpeachable is when you or your loved ones are staring certain death or severe injury in the face, and you have absolutely utterly no way to avoid that outcome, other than to use the least amount of deadly force possible.  All the others are less black and white, and you can find yourself trapped in very unpleasant grey.

As soon as you retreat away from that ‘worst case’ scenario, you start to facing a growing subsequent alternate worst case scenario – either criminal and/or civil action against you after your shooting.  Depending on the jurisdiction you live in, your state’s laws on deadly force may be interpreted permissively or restrictively, and concepts such as ‘what would a reasonable man be expected to do in the circumstances’ could be answered – in a court of law – in very different ways.

Remember also that juries are fickle.  You can never guarantee what verdict a jury will reach.  Get a couple of vociferous anti-gun people, a few others who believe that ‘nothing can ever justify taking a human life’, and have the others basically conciliatory and passive, and before you know where you are, you’re guilty of whatever the prosecutor has decided to throw at you.

Maybe the local community is currently experiencing a backlash against some gun tragedy somewhere in the country, and it is just your bad luck to be the recipient of that backlash.  Maybe you are white and shot at black criminals, and the case has been perverted into a cause celebre for ‘black rights’ and you are made to look like a racist rather than an ordinary homeowner.  And so on and so on.

The bottom line :  Any shooting may have extremely unfair criminal and civil consequences.  Avoid the risk of such consequences, by avoiding the need to shoot.

Second :  Go stand in your driveway and imagine yourself doing like the guy in the news story did, shooting at the would-be burglars as they make their getaway.  Now look carefully at what is in the background.  What do you see – and also what are behind the bushes and fences that you can’t see (but which your bullets can reach)?  Houses.  Apartments.  Cars.  And, most of all, people.

In most residential areas, there’s no such thing as a safe direction to shoot in.  Even if your shots hit the bad guys, they might still travel through and on and cause other damage elsewhere.  Police departments regularly average $10,000 and up, for every shot fired by their officers, in terms of the costs they incur repairing the damage from the rounds expended.  You can expect the same, and it will be money out of your own pocket, because your insurance will refuse to cover you.

Here’s the unfair thing (and – get this – everything about these types of situations is unfair, right from the get go).  If you hold your front door open for the burglars and help them carry away all your gear; insurance will reimburse you as per the policy you have.  They see that as an accident or event you have no control over.

But if you protect your property and shoot at the burglars, the insurance company won’t thank you for acting to reduce the amount of loss they have to pay out.  Instead, they say this was a deliberate act on your part, not an accident or random piece of bad luck, and they’ll refuse to reimburse you any of the costs you might incur as a result of where the bullets went and the damage they caused.

Dirty Harry never had to worry about these things.  He was a policeman, more or less acting, on duty, as employed to do.  Sure, the mayor and his superiors would often berate him for the damage he caused, but Harry never had to pay any of that himself.  The city and the police department, and all their attorneys, would run interference for him.

You have none of this behind you.  Instead, it will all be ranged in front of you and against you.

Bottom line?  Don’t shoot, unless you have no choice, and it is the only option open to you, and necessary to save you or your loved ones from imminent and severe harm or death.  And force yourself to stop shooting as soon as the situation changes.

Update :  The citizen who shot at the fleeing burglars ended up agreeing to a plea bargain.  He has given a guilty plea, and is receiving a $700 fine, must take a weapons safety class, and has been required to forfeit his handgun.  Maybe he got off lightly, depending on your perspective.  Add the incarceration, now having an arrest and criminal record, and thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and those two shots truly changed his life.  Details here.

Jan 032013
Gun-hating Senator Schumer with a hammer.  Where is his outrage over hammer murders?  What hammer controls does he propose?

Gun-hating Senator Schumer with a hammer. Where is his outrage over hammer murders? What hammer controls does he propose?

The sheep are predictably bleating in response to the Sandy Hook School shooting.  Ban this!  Restrict that!  Outlaw the other thing!

The gun grabbers are leading this chorus with glee, while the sheep rush to sacrifice not just their liberty and freedom but also yours and mine too; all in the naieve ridiculous hope that the bad guys will voluntarily also sacrifice their liberty and their freedom.

Most of the focus seems to be on restoring the useless ban on ‘assault rifles’ (although Senator Feinstein’s definition of ‘assault rifle’ for her ban provision would also include any pistol capable of having a greater than 10 round magazine, which means just about every modern semi-auto pistol).  There’s something about the sight of a modern sporting rifle that creates a knee jerk hate response with gun banners – it seems they wish that only guns that ‘look nice’ with gentle curves and pastel colors should be allowed.

But – let’s stop a minute and smell the roses.  Just how many people are killed by rifles each year?  The answer might surprise you.

As reported here, the FBI uniform crime statistics show that in a typical year, about 300 – 450 murders were committed with a rifle.

But – in the same typical year, more people are killed with hammers than with rifles.  For example, in 2011 (the most recent year for statistics) there were 323 people killed by rifle, and 496 people killed by hammers and clubs.

A typical year shows half as many people again killed by a hammer or club than by a rifle.  And – get this – a typical year also sees twice as many people are murdered with nothing other than the killer’s bare hands (see this table for five years of recent data).

And don’t get us started on the slaughter from knives and cutting instruments – four to five times greater than that from rifles.

So, where is the outrage against hammers and clubs?  Against knives and cutting instruments?  What restrictions are being mooted against a person’s bare hands and feet?  Should there be a ban on hammers weighing more than 1 lb?  What about people with large hands or strong legs?  Should they be required to have surgical alterations?

We urge you to write your representatives and point them to these statistics and ask them to prioritize their actions to reduce violent crime.  Why focus solely on rifles when they are a small part of the problem, and already subject to dozens if not hundreds of rules and restrictions?  Why should honest people have their access to rifles restricted, when dishonest people will ignore any new laws and restrictions, the same as they have ignored all the previous restrictions that already exist.

By focusing on the tool – be it a rifle, knife, hammer, or even a killer’s bare hands – we are avoiding focusing on the real root cause, which is human nature and the propensity for bad people to do bad things, whatever way they can.

Dec 162012
There's a reason you never hear of terrorist attacks on Israeli schools.

There’s a reason you never hear of terrorist attacks on Israeli schools.

As I write this, the country is going through a histrionic act of soul-searching after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut last week.  Gun grabbers can barely hide their glee behind a veil of crocodile tears, and the rush to enact more gun control legislation is terrifying in its irrational intensity.

The biggest problem with gun control?  There’s too much of it.  There’s a reason that people choose to shoot up schools – because they are ‘soft targets’.  Where else can a crazed gunman be sure to find a lot of helpless defenseless people, with no danger of anyone having a gun and shooting back?

Rather than take more guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens who use their guns exclusively for good and never for bad, why not change the prohibition on guns in schools and instead mandate that teachers take small arms defensive training and be issued with firearms.  We require teachers to spend many years of their lives training in how to teach – why not have them spend another week learning not just how to educate our children, but also how to protect them while they are responsible for the safety of our children.

And let’s now look at an interesting statistic that puts our so-called violent culture into a truer perspective.  As we’ve written about before – see here and here, for example – our rates of violent crime are massively decreasing and now are at about half the levels of when they were at their worst.  During these last twenty years or so, we’ve not seen any abatement in unemployment, gangs, drug related activity, and so on.  But we have seen massive increases in gun ownership and massive improvements in the laws that formerly sought to restrict our ability to own, carry and use firearms in self defense.

The conclusion is inescapable.  More guns and a more realistic approach to their use, equates to less violent crime.

Now, for the really telling comparison.  Please read this article which compares rates of violent crime in various European countries.  Near the bottom, it also shows the rate of violent crime in the US and Canada.  Here in the US, we have a rate of about 466 violent crimes per 100,000 of population.  Up in gun-hating ‘peaceful’ Canada, the rate is more than twice as high!  935 violent crimes per 100,000 of population in Canada.

Now go to Europe, and while a few countries have lower rates, look at the countries with hugely higher rates, including, worst of all, the ultra-gun grabbing country of Britain, with a rate of 2,034 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens – almost five times the rate in the US.

These are the real numbers that count.  Sure, 20 dead children is an emotional event that upsets anyone with children (including me).  But that is a rare occurrence, and it happened in a state that is already very restrictive in its gun laws, and in an area where people weren’t allowed guns.  How many laws did that gunman already break?  Enacting new laws won’t be any more effective at preventing him than all the laws already in place.

These children died because of too much gun control, not because of insufficient.

We need to empower and equip schools and teachers with the tools and skills they need to make schools ‘hard targets’ rather than soft ones.  And, most of all, we need to preserve our invaluable Second Amendment rights, so we as citizens can protect ourselves wherever we are (including in school grounds) and so we as citizens can do our bit to keep the violent crime rates falling still lower and lower.

Jul 192012

A very positive outcome to a holdup was achieved by an armed citizen in FL last week.

You may have already read – and possibly seen the video clips – about a wonderfully one-sided shootout in an Ocala FL internet cafe last Friday evening.

Two youths, one armed with a pistol, the other with a baseball bat, entered an internet cafe with some 30 people inside, shortly before 10pm.  They announced their intention to hold the place up and rob not just the cashier but all the people in the cafe.

As partial explanation, it seems that the term ‘internet cafe’ in Florida is a polite way of saying ‘semi-legal online computer gambling facility’, and so it seems the youths figured that some of the patrons, and the establishment itself, would be packing more cash than normal.

But what they didn’t figure was that one of the patrons was packing more than cash.  He – Mr Samuel Williams – had a small .380 semi-auto (looks possibly like a Ruger LCP) for which he had a concealed carry permit.  Although 71, as soon as the two intruders foolishly turned their back on Mr Williams, he got up, approached the guy with the gun, and when the guy turned towards him, pointing his gun at Mr Williams, he opened fire.  The attacker panicked and ran away, with his accomplice following, all the while with Mr Williams chasing after them to the front door, shooting as he went, and sending what looks to be a parting shot after them as they run away down the street.

Both attackers were wounded, and both were arrested not long after at a local hospital.  As for Mr Williams, it seems that no charges will be filed against him.

Although we don’t like to see surveillance cameras all around us wherever we go, we are pleased that there were three different cameras in the internet cafe which between them captured most of the action.  The relevant parts of each have been put together and can be seen at various websites, for example here.  And on this site there is a remixed version with some extra and different footage, but missing out some of the other relevant footage, combined with some helpful commentary by a voice-over announcer.

You should watch both clips to see what happened.  We’re not saying that exactly the same scenario would play out the next time two youths try to hold up an internet cafe, but clearly, what you see in the video clips this time is real life, not Hollywood, and so understanding one scenario and outcome combination helps us all in anticipating other scenarios and outcomes in the future.

It is easy to second guess what happened and how Mr Williams acted as he did, from the comfort of one’s living room, and being able to play through the video countless times, and pause it at critical points to stop and think through the implications of each step of the encounter.  It is very different to be there, living the experience in person, with one’s critical thinking impaired by a huge adrenalin dump and the bowel-loosening experience of having a bad guy point a gun at you.

We think Mr Williams did a wonderful job in the circumstances, and clearly the prosecutors agree that everything he did was kosher.

Nonetheless, there are a few teaching moments in this, which we consider now – not as criticisms of a 100% successful outcome of a nasty encounter, but merely as opportunities for us to learn from this and to help ensure that if we are ever in a similar situation, we experience a similar positive outcome.

Several comments accordingly.

1.  While we can’t really tell much about the two attackers in terms of if they were hyper on drugs, crazed, incoherent, and credibly threatening senseless violence, of if they were cool, calm and collected and unlikely to escalate the situation beyond a simple robbery, it is clear that they were not ‘professional’ criminals.

A pair of professionals do not attempt to take down an internet cafe with 30+ people in it armed only with one pistol and one baseball bat.  They’d need a bigger team of players, and more credible weapons.

So perhaps it is unsurprising that the key fraction of a second of the entire confrontation – the point where the armed attacker swung to confront Mr Williams, and Mr Williams getting off the first shot – resulted in the attacker instantly giving up the fight and running away as fast as he could.  A more hardened attacker would have shot back at Mr Williams, and the situation could have turned out very differently.

Lesson – read your opposition up front so you understand the likely level of threat and response they will pose.

2.  As best we can tell, Mr Williams probably fired four or five shots, maybe even six.  We’re not sure how many of his shots hit the two attackers.  We know some of the shots landed on the bad guys, but we’ll guess not all of them did.

However, it is relevant to observe that neither of the two attackers shows any sign of being incapacitated at all from their wounds.  Sure, its only a small .380 semi-auto that Mr Williams has, but the teaching point here is that you can’t expect one (or possibly even two or three) hits on target to guarantee that your attacker will cease to be a threat.  Your job isn’t finished after firing the first shot, you need to keep at it without pausing and stop only when the threat has clearly ended.

3.  Coming back to the four or five or maybe even six shots fired.  We’re astonished that no-one else was hit, and mildly surprised as well that the armed attacker didn’t even loose off some ‘blind’ unaimed shots in the desperate hope of at least getting Mr Williams to back off his attack.

In addition to the 30 people in the cafe, who knows who was in the adjoining stores, and who knows who was on the street outside.

It isn’t just people you have to worry about, although for sure, an unintended fatal hit on an innocent passer-by should be your greatest concern.  What say a stray round hit someone’s new car.  You could be up for a thousand dollars or more of repairs to the car.  Maybe a round goes through a store window (they’re expensive) and then rips through various expensive stock items in the store.  And so on.  Even a .380 round can go through a number of walls and other objects before finally coming to rest.

If you’ve got to shoot, then you’ve got to shoot.  But if you don’t have to shoot, it is better not to (kinda obvious, don’t you think!).  It could be argued that by keeping up a ‘hail of fire’ Mr Williams was effectively controlling and dominating the battle space, and keeping the initiative, ensuring that the two attackers didn’t have a chance to regroup and mount a counter-attack.  That’s a valid consideration.

But we’re somewhat troubled by his last shot in particular – the one he shoots out the door as it is swinging shut, with the two attackers racing away as fast as their legs will carry them.

Was he still justifiably in fear of his life at that point?  Did the two attackers still pose an immediate credible danger to him?  This is actually a very complicated question to answer, because there are elements of both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in the answer.

Our feeling is that Mr Williams dodged both a literal and also a figurative bullet in this case.  He was very lucky the bad guys didn’t shoot back.  And he is also very lucky that the DA decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and not press charges.  Realize that it is often easier for a DA to press charges than to hold them back – they can reason ‘It is a grey area, maybe it was lawful and justifiable, maybe it wasn’t; I’m not going to take a position on it, let’s leave it to a jury to decide’.  And then all of a sudden you’re ‘in the system’, facing months of uncertainty and tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, with no guarantee as to what the jury will decide.

Which leads to our next point.

4.  The second link above has the commentator saying that Mr Williams told the police he was in fear of his life.  That’s a key phrase to use when being subsequently interviewed by the police (assuming you decide to say anything at all prior to your attorney arriving).  It seems that Mr Williams knew exactly how to respond appropriately to the police.

Keep in mind another thing as well.  The ubiquity of video cameras.  Try to remember that anything you do may have been recorded and, if it was, will be analyzed every which way to see if you can be blamed for anything.  It is as though the DA, judge and jury are all behind a bulletproof glass screen, watching you as it all goes down.  While cameras don’t lie, poor quality surveillance video and bad camera angles can definitely mislead and give incorrect impressions of things as they happened.  Your point of view – from your eyes – and the time pressures acting on you – are never captured by passive motionless cameras on walls and ceilings.  Things you see might not be visible to the cameras, whereas things you don’t see may be obvious to the cameras.  Unfortunately, people will subsequently evaluate and judge you based on what the cameras show them, not on what you had to make sense of, from your perspective, in the heat of the moment.

You also need to keep in mind that this all happened in Florida.  The laws concerning justifiable use of deadly force vary tremendously from state to state – how you could respond, and how in turn the police and prosecutors would respond – might be totally different in your state.  The fact that Mr Williams was not prosecuted does not guarantee a similar outcome if you behaved identically in your state; indeed, it doesn’t even guarantee a similar outcome if you behaved the same way in FL either.

And while it seems no criminal charges will be pressed against Mr Williams, we don’t yet know what the two attackers might choose to do in the form of filing civil charges against Mr Williams.  Civil charges can be more vexatious because the burden of proof shifts from a 99% type burden of proof in a criminal case to a 51% burden of proof in a civil case.  Furthermore, in a criminal case you hopefully have a moderately dispassionate prosecution, but in a civil case, it is all about money – both money for the complainant and also money for his/her attorney.  The costs of defending a civil case can be every bit as high as defending a criminal case.

5.  Here’s a thought that is easy with hindsight to come up with, but which you need to train yourself to always have in your mind.  We saw the two guys come into the internet cafe, although when they did, Mr Williams had his back to them and was presumably concentrating on playing a computer game.

But we don’t know if the two attackers had already had a third or fourth person walk into the cafe normally.  This would be a far from unknown situation.  We don’t know if there were more accomplices about to break in through the back entrance, or more waiting outside with a getaway vehicle.

Mr Williams was extremely fortunate that there were only these two attackers.  You might not be so fortunate.  You must always be looking for the bad guys that you don’t see, as well as keeping an eye on the bad guys you do see.  Tell yourself ‘if I don’t see anyone else, that just means I’m not seeing them, it doesn’t mean they’re not there’.

And remember also that it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.  Who knows what that really means, but in our context, there are two vitally important thing to always do at the apparent end of a confrontation, things that Mr Williams does not seem to do.

First, scan and secure your environment.  Check for other bad guys lurking around you.  Don’t relax at all until you know, for sure, that none of the other onlookers are potential bad guys.

Second, your tactical reload.  Mr Williams had shot 4 – 6 rounds in a semi-auto that probably only had six or seven rounds in it to start with.  As soon as he had finished securing the store, he needed to reload his weapon, just in case.


From when the two attackers burst in to the internet cafe, to when they left it even more quickly, was a mere 17 seconds.  Much of the confrontation was at very close range, in a dynamic rapidly changing situation with everyone moving and changing positions.

This was a very difficult scenario to control – it was difficult for the two attackers to start with, as we saw, but it was also difficult for Mr Williams subsequently, also.  He did a great job.

And after having read our comments and analysis above, hopefully you’d do a similarly great job – or even a better one – if called upon to do so in the future.

May 212012

An innocent stranded motorist is suddenly attacked and beaten up by four assailants.

It is always massively preferable to learn lessons from other people’s misfortunes rather than to be doomed to repeat their experiences ourselves.

One of the great ways to learn about street survival skills is to see real world examples of what can happen to people who aren’t prepared for the events that evolve.

Here’s one such a dismaying scenario, a story full of lessons for us, and happily able to be experienced and enjoyed in the safety and comfort of our living rooms.  We suggest you view the video to see what happened, and then read on for our analysis of the salient facts and our recommendations for how to avoid becoming a similar victim, yourself.

So, this young man (24) had his car break down when driving home late one night.  He left his car, and decided to walk the short distance the rest of the way home.  It was an upmarket residential neighborhood in Tampa, and so he probably felt there to be little threat to his safety in doing so.  And as an army soldier, he doubtless felt reasonably well prepared to handle any low level of casual threat.

It seems there were three people ahead of him walking in the same direction.  One of them turned and walked back, and asked if the soldier could spare him a dollar.  Rather than refusing, the soldier agreed, and reached for his wallet.

While distracted by the task of getting his wallet, the person who had approached him immediately attacked him, joined within a second by one of the other two people.

As you can see on the video, the third person comes back to the soldier as well, but hesitates before joining in, then starts to kick and punch the soldier with every bit as much effort and enjoyment as the other two.

But wait, there’s more.  A fourth guy comes running up from behind – but is he there as an avenging angel to save the soldier?  No!  It seems he has seen the potential opportunity to anonymously join in the beating up of a white guy, and joins in for the sheer devilry of it.

Maybe he was a member of an organized gang of four patrolling for victims, but we kinda doubt that, because it seems from the timing that he was too far away to be actively aggressively circling in from behind.

So that’s what happened.  Now for the lessons.

1.  ‘Good’ and ‘Safe’ Neighborhoods Are Sometimes Neither

Bad guys commute to work, just the same as we good guys do.  While some neighborhoods are clearly unsafe and high risk, there’s no such thing as a 100% safe area.

Don’t let your guard down just because you feel that you are in a ‘good’ neighborhood.

The victim probably thought ‘I’m in a good neighborhood, and I’ve agreed to give this guy the dollar he asked for, so I have nothing to worry about’.  How wrong was that!

2.  Keep Bad Guys A Long Way Away

The next lesson is not to let strangers get close to you, especially on an otherwise empty street late at night.  Bad guys tend to be nocturnal, and also prefer empty deserted areas where they can carry out their activities free of interference from others.

If you don’t have your gun in your hand when someone approaches within 21′ of you, the person coming towards you can get to you and start attacking you before you can react and respond and draw your pistol.  Indeed, even 21′ is probably too dangerously close, depending on how alert you are (ie how long from when you finally recognize a threat to when you then respond to it) and how quickly you can access your pistol and present it.

That fancy ultra-concealable holster?  The one that takes you two seconds to access and get your gun from and pointed in?  Add another half second or more for reaction time, and in 2.5 – 3 seconds, a bad guy can cover more like 21 yards than 21 feet.  That’s a huge danger/vulnerability radius.

One more thing about the danger radius.  If it is something more than 21′ for one person, it becomes appreciably more for two people.  Maybe it takes you half a second after shooting at a first aggressor to recover your sight picture and switch to lining up on a second aggressor.  In that same half second, the second aggressor can get 10 or more feet closer to you.  If there are three aggressors, then the third one has another 10 ft while you are dealing to the first two.  If there are four, not only does the fourth have another 10 ft (we are now at 50 ft out, by the way) but almost certainly, one of the first three was not stopped by your first shot and is now approaching you

3.  Identify Potential Threats

Another lesson is to identify potential threats.  On the face of it, a low-profile slouched over beggar type person asking for a bit of spare change doesn’t seem like the sort of person about to viciously beat you up.  But attackers are masters of the art of disguise – of disguising their true intentions.  Asking for some change or asking for the time or asking for directions are all great ways of misdirecting their target individual.  The perceived normalcy of such requests obscures the threat behind them.

It doesn’t matter what the purpose or reason – you must keep strangers safely away from you, and if they approach you, you need to be able to react.

We of course don’t know, but we’ll guess that in a fair fight, where the soldier and first attacker were both told to go at it, then the soldier may or may not have prevailed, but probably he’d not have immediately been cold-cocked and knocked to the ground.  But because the aggressor had the benefit of total surprise, his first blow set the scene and took out the soldier immediately, and from that point forward, it was really just a question of how much beating the aggressor and his one, two, three friends would give to the soldier.

This encounter was lost in a fraction of a second, because the soldier allowed his attacker in close where he could surprise him.

4.  Take Control

This guy ended up being beaten by four people, but note the social dynamics of how it played out.  There were only two primary aggressors, and only one of the two primary aggressors approached the victim.  If the victim had assertively taken control of the situation at an early point, the first aggressor almost certainly would have backed off, the second aggressor would have stayed back, and the other two participants would have done nothing at all.

As you see on the video, the third person only joins in when he is certain there is no danger to himself.  The fourth person’s motivations are unclear – we earlier guessed he might be just a casual passer-by who saw a safe opportunity to strike some blows for ‘racial freedom’ or whatever.

In any group, there are only a very few people who will aggressively lead and initiate a violent action.  Most of the group members will hang back and only take part when they are no longer needed – when it is safe for them to do so.  If you can confront the leaders up front, the others will pose less threat to you.

If you’re facing down a group of ten people, you can say ‘Okay, so maybe I can and maybe I can’t kill you all.  But I for sure can get some of you, and I’m going to shoot you and you first’, pointing at the people closest to you and the ringleaders.  ‘So all of you, back off, right now!’  This might take the fight out of the ringleaders, when they realize that there is not safety in numbers.

The other thing you can do is, after making that statement, is get one of the weaker wavering group members to comply.  ‘You, start moving back right now!’  As soon as one person starts to back off, the fight goes out of the group as a whole.

5.  Beware of the People You Don’t See

In this case, the victim was probably focused on the person who came and asked him for a dollar.  But there was another guy close by as another immediate potential threat, another not far away, and a fourth guy behind him.

If you are aware of your surroundings, the fact that there were three people close to you, none of whom looked like people you’d invite home to spend time with your family, and a fourth person behind you, and all of them looked like they might be acting together (same general demographics) you should be on a high level of alertness prior to any of them approaching you.

If one person is a threat, two people together are not twice the threat, they are four times the threat.  Three people become nine times the threat, meaning, yes, four people are a sixteen fold increase in threat.

What to Do to Avoid Such Encounters

You can’t afford to get behind the curve on such things.  You need to keep distance between you and the potential aggressors, and you need to draw them out and establish a clear signaling of their intentions.

Clearly, you can’t just shoot every group of people you happen to meet on the street just because they’re there – you need to cause them to display bad intent, and you need to give yourself a chance to warn them off and/or completely confirm the threat they pose.  This can only be done with time and distance, it can’t be done at a six foot arm’s length sort of encounter.

If someone is traveling in a direction that will cause them to naturally intersect with your own direction of travel, that might be a coincidence.  So you change your direction of travel.  If the other guy then changes his direction of travel and comes towards you, then your alert level shoots up.  He has signaled that he is a potential threat.

Note a key thing here is that the other person comes to you.  That is essential.  Your ability to claim that someone was an overt threat to you is massively weakened if you approach them.

So, you’ve altered your path of travel, and they’ve altered their path of travel to again intersect with yours.  You now need to warn him off and command him to stop, to go away, or whatever.  You need plenty of space between the two of you to allow yourself time to determine if your instructions have been complied with or not.

Hopefully, if the potential attacker ignores your request, you still have time to present your weapon and point in, with enough time and distance to warn the bad guy off, rather than needing to immediately shoot.

It goes without saying that if a person altered course to come after you when you altered course to avoid them, if they then failed to stop approaching after you called out to them and asked them to stop and go away, and if they still continued to close the distance when you pointed a gun at them, there is no conceivable way this person is an innocent stranger who just happens to be passing by.

The fact that they are willing to continue the confrontation in the face of your pointed in pistol shows them to be absolutely intent and determined to press the fight to you.  You don’t need to know who, what or why, you just know that this person is willing to risk his own life to get to you, and it certainly isn’t so he can simply shake your hand and wish you well.

One Last Lesson

We’ve written 2000 words in this article so far.  But every one of those words is useless and meaningless if you don’t have a gun with you and aren’t prepared and able to use it.  Your pistol.  Don’t leave home without it.

Apr 152012

The scene shortly after the fleeing car stopped. Soon to be dead guy at the top, six LAPD officers also visible in the picture.

Here’s an interesting story about a 19 year old youth in Los Angeles – Abdul Arian – who took police on a high speed chase around the city while at the same time calling 911 and uttering threats about what would happen if the police stopped him.

There are two things of interest.

The first is what happened after he eventually stopped.  He got out of the car, surrounded by growing numbers of LA police, and was moving backwards from the police while facing them, before turning towards the police in what was subsequently described as a ‘firing position’ and holding some sort of object in his hands.

No-one can argue about part of what happened next.  Unsurprisingly, the police that had him surrounded shot and killed the youth.

It was dark, the guy was clearly unstable and had threatened to pull his gun on the police if stopped, so when he stopped running away and appeared to present something at the police as if it were a pistol, the police did the sensible thing, and shot to stop the threat.

But – and here’s the but – it wasn’t just one or two police officers that fired four or five rounds each.  Eight police shot at the youth, firing, between them, more than 90 rounds.  That’s a lot of rounds being fired, particularly in a semi-residential area where who knows what was further ‘down range’.

There is video of the encounter on this web page and it appears, based on the voice over narration, that the shooting may have occurred over a surprisingly lengthy period of time (relatively speaking) – ie at least ten seconds, maybe more like fifteen.  Note also how the youth continued to act in a crazy and threatening way during this period of time, even after the police first started shooting at him, before finally collapsing.  He showed little obvious sign of impairment prior to suddenly collapsing.

The lesson here is one of our ‘favorite’ lessons – and to appreciate it, slightly change the scenario and instead of a fool being chased by many police, maybe you are being chased by a road-ranger and end up having to shoot to save your life against the incensed road-rager.

It took eight police officers more than 90 shots between them to reach a point where the guy finally collapsed, and the guy was still nimbly moving about the place prior to suddenly collapsing.  We can only guess at how many unnecessary extra shots were fired at the guy as he was collapsing, and of course, it seems pretty safe to assume that many of the shots missed.

But there’s no reason to assume the police are particularly worse at shooting than you would be; indeed, with at least seven of their friends around them for support, probably wearing bullet proof vests, the suspect generally moving away, and never shooting back at them, their own stress levels, while high, where several levels lower than yours would be when facing a deadly threat all by yourself.

So – answer the question.  How many rounds would it take you to achieve a similar outcome?  And bear in mind we have no idea how many rounds ‘more than 90′ actually is.  It might be 91.  But it could be 99 or way more, too.

Maybe you can do as well with ‘only’ more than 80 rounds, or maybe even more than 70 rounds or more than 60 rounds.  Indeed, why not consider yourself – alone – as being twice as good at eight LA policemen all together, and say that you only need ‘more than’ 45 rounds.

Do you carry more than 45 rounds with you?  If your answer is no, then in cases similar to this, you’ll run out of bullets before you’ve stopped the threat.  You’ll lose.

A related question.  The youth was never more than a second or at the most two from the police.  Once you’ve emptied your gun at the person attacking you, how long will it take you to reload and get back in the fight?  Any more than perhaps 1.5 seconds maximum, and you’re going to have the bad guy on top of you before you get your gun running again.

Remember also that this encounter required more than 90 rounds against a single adversary.  What say you find yourself confronted by two bad guys.  Or three?  Do the math.

The second thing of interest is the massive contradictions of facts as between what the now rapidly becoming sainted dead guy’s family are saying about the guy (I wonder if Muslims become saints?) and what the facts of the matter starkly reveal (better reported in the LA Times article in the first link than in the Huffington Post second linked article).

Remember that every bad guy is also probably a grieving mother’s son, maybe the father to some grieving children, the husband and breadwinner to a grieving wife, and so on and so forth.  Remember also you probably don’t have the moral support and legal resources of the LAPD to back you up and ensure you get at least your fair share of airtime to give your side of any story.

Somehow there’s much more news and emotional value to see a woman in tears while clutching an outdated carefully photographed picture of her dead husband/son/father than there is to see a woman rejoicing and happy at her husband/son/father having survived a deadly encounter by virtue of shooting a bad guy.  Life’s just not fair, is it.

Which leads to our most favorite lesson of all- any time you have a choice, don’t shoot.  Avoid the fight.  Even if you win the encounter, you might lose all the bs that goes down subsequently.

Apr 062012

Rats hunt in packs; and so too do bad guys. Expect multiple intruders/attackers.

When someone talks to you about intruders in your house, what does your mind immediately picture?  How many intruders do you automatically think of being in your house?

Some people will say one, others two.  A few might say three, but how many would say four?

I ask this question having just read an article about a retired police officer who woke up after a mid-afternoon snooze to find four intruders in his house.  One of the bad guys immediately came at him with a crow bar.

Fortunately, the retired police officer had a gun with him, and he shot and wounded the attacker (who died subsequently in hospital) with the other three ran off.

The article doesn’t say, but being as how the retiree was having a mid afternoon nap, my guess is that he may have not actually been tucked up in his bed.  Maybe he was sleeping in his favorite reclining chair in the lounge.  But – wherever he was – he had his gun with him, which was clearly essential when he woke and almost immediately was under attack.  So, confirming our immediately previous article about being prepared at home, make sure you have a gun wherever you are in your home, not just in the bedroom for nighttime protection.

The second moral of this story – be prepared for more than one intruder.  You need to expect any break-in or indeed any encounter of any nature at all with bad people involves more than one bad person.  Think of this phrase ‘Rats hunt in packs’.

You know that if you see one rat somewhere in your house, that means you’ve probably got an entire family of who only knows how many rats living somewhere in your property.

It is the same with bad guys.  They like to have a bit of mutual support, backup, encouragement, companionship, and safety while they are ‘working’ too.

So whenever you realize there is someone in your house, don’t stop upon hearing the first sound.  Keep listening and looking, and see if you can hear or see other bad guys too.

Now for the key point :  If you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to confront one bad guy, don’t focus only on that one person.  Where are his (or her) accomplices?  Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there; it just means you haven’t seen them yet.

Try and protect your rear by getting a wall close behind you, so you can’t have someone creep up behind you.  Listen intently, and – as best you can – keep looking around you as well as straight ahead.  And if you come across the first bad guy, you need to get them out of the fight quickly while maintaining a defensive posture in case the first guy’s buddies come to help him out.

Note that ‘getting them out of the fight’ doesn’t mean shooting them.  It means proning them out – ie getting them to lie down, lying facing away from you, hands with fingers interleaved on the back of their head, legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles (or, if space allows, spreadeagled wide, arms and legs all stretched way out from the body).  That way they can’t suddenly leap up and at you again without at least some advance warning.

Once you’ve done that to the first person, you can’t leave them alone, of course.  You then maneuver yourself into a safe defensive position where other people can’t creep up on you and where you can still see the bad guy on the floor, and concentrate on waiting for the police to arrive.

Lastly, how do you feel now about having a five or six shot revolver for home protection?  Maybe you don’t get attacked by four intruders, like this retiree was.  But even if you have ‘only’ two or three, and if we allow that perhaps half your shots will miss, and if we further say you’ll need to hit each person three or four times to stop them, that means you’ll need perhaps 24 rounds to be sure of stopping a three person attack.  That’s a full revolver cylinder of six rounds, plus three reloads – and you’re for sure not going to have time for any reloading at all in such a close quarters attack.

At least with a semi-auto you can have 10 – 20 rounds in the gun to start with, allowing you to send anywhere from three to six rounds to each of three attackers before needing to pause briefly for a fast under 1.5 second reload and then continue the fight.  You’ve got a good chance of winning with a semi-auto, but a bad chance of losing with a revolver.