Thursday, May 11, 2006

Darwin Lives! (Bad Guy Dies)

Amazing shot cited as self-defense -- poop!
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (one of the most egrigiously leftist newspapers in the nation, right up there with the LA Times) has inadvertently published a pro-gun article.

The SPD (Seattle Police Department) Band of Merry Men not only manage to shoot a shooter, not only shoot the gun out of his hands, but in doing so jammed the cylinder of his revolver so that it was incapable of firing a return round.

Let's see this in slow-action (text only):

At a news conference at police headquarters Wednesday, (Deputy Chief Clark) Kimerer said investigators learned that the gunman had had an argument with a female friend shortly before the shooting.

Afterward, Kimerer said, the young man walked down Broadway and got into a fight with another man. At some point, a gun he was carrying fell to the ground.

Kimerer said the gunman simply reholstered the weapon behind his back.

A merchant called 911, as did others.

Two East Precinct patrol officers arrived in less than two minutes, he said.

The two officers approached the young man near a bus stop. Though the man was suspected of being armed, the officers did not see a weapon, so at first they planned to restrain him.

When the man turned to face them, the officers ordered him to get on the ground and show his hands.

The warning, Kimerer said, was heard by several witnesses.

Instead of complying, "the suspect reached behind his back with both hands," he said.

Out came a revolver, police officers said.

The officers ordered the man to drop the gun. Instead, police said, he squared up against them. "The officers returned fire in response to that deadly threat," Kimerer said.

Both officers, armed with Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic handguns, fired. One fired four shots; the second, three shots.

One of those bullets ended up in the gunman's gun -- jammed into the cylinder of his revolver. The department released photos Wednesday showing the cracked brass of a bullet shoved out of the rear of one chamber.

Fire medics arrived but were unable to revive the man.

What lessons can we take away from this incident?

  • Seattle cops can miss a man, whatever it takes, even unto hitting the gun instead of the shooter.
  • You hit what you're looking at
  • Seattle reporters are incapable of writing paragraphs consisting of more than one sentence.

Never mind that last. These guys write in two-inch columns; to them, one sentence LOOKS like a paragraph. Typical.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe thing is, they got their man and made good press. It's always important to look at The Big Picture, and here it is:

We're happy that the SPD managed to (accidently) take out the bad guy before he could kill anybody. And we're grateful to the P.I. for providing such interesting imagery and story.

It's probably petty to criticize the cops for hitting what they weren't suppose to be shooting at, and the paper for writing that's even crappier than mine.

But you know, that's what we call a 'target rich environment'. Some of us just don't have the discipline to let this trouser-load pass without comment.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Florida "No Retreat" law in action

AP Wire | 05/06/2006 | Jacksonville man fatally shoots robber; son injured in shooting

I understand that this article will remain available online for "a limited time", so here's the full text:

A father fatally shot a man who tried to rob his family as they waited early Saturday in their sport utility vehicle for a summer camp enrollment to open, authorities said.

The alleged robber approached the driver's window, pointed a gun at the father and demanded money, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman Ken Jefferson told The Florida Times-Union.

He then ordered the family of five to unlock one of the SUV's doors, Jefferson said.

"The father, sensing something was wrong, decided to defend his family ... pulled out a gun and he shot and killed the suspect on the scene," Jefferson said.

It was not clear if the father was licensed to carry a gun, Jefferson said.

The father's 10-year-old son was somehow wounded during the shooting. Brevon Ricks remained hospitalized in critical condition late Saturday, officials said.

The names of the other family members and the alleged robber were not released.

The family had been parked at the entrance of McGirts Creek Park, waiting to enroll their children in a summer camp, authorities said.

Under a Florida law that took effect in October, people don't have to retreat before responding to an attack, and can use deadly force as long as they're in a place they legally have a right to be. It also gives immunity from criminal or civil charges to a shooter as long as the person shot is not a police officer.

I don't know at what point the father "[sensed] something was wrong", but it may have been when a stranger pointed a gun at him, and his family.

The article suggested that it was when the gun-wielding stranger "... ordered the family of five to unlock one of the SUV's doors."

Isn't that just like the press? They do tend to assume there's nothing wrong with pointing a gun at people, as if that is just everyday life. There's nothing happening here, folks, move along. Too much Television?

The reporter has obviously never had anyone poke a gun in his face. That seems like a first indicator that "something is wrong", but maybe it's just me.

Okay, we'll let the reporter slide on that one. It may be a telling commentary on the warped perspective of the media, but it's not the most important part of the story.

Nor is the fact that the father/potential victim had the foresight to carry a loaded firearm in what would ordinarily be considered a benign situation. Or that he had the courage (and the will to protect his family) to use it to avoid even more unpleasant circumstances.

Here's the important part of the story:

Under a Florida law that took effect in October, people don't have to retreat before responding to an attack, and can use deadly force as long as they're in a place they legally have a right to be. It also gives immunity from criminal or civil charges to a shooter as long as the person shot is not a police officer.
Put yourself in this man's place.

You're in a stopped car with your family. Some stranger points a gun at you. Is this the time to think about your legal responsibility to retreat before defending yourself?

I can imagine the father behind the wheel, his wife in the passenger seat, and perhaps a child between them and one or more (the story isn't clear on this) in the back seat.

Where was he going to retreat to? Would it have put anyone OUT of the line of fire?

Not hardly. Turning your back on a gun (which is the only way to 'retreat' in a car) won't protect you from taking a bullet. Interposing your body between the shooter and your family won't guarantee their safety, either. Anyone mad enough to assault a car-bound family is mad enough to kill them all. Passivity is not a workable solution, as Perry Smith ("In Cold Blood") could tell you. If he was still alive. As the Clutter family could tell you. If they were still alive.

There are enough examples in recent (50 years?) American History to establish the fact that passivity is a real good way to get yourself killed, and your entire family with you. Fighting back isn't a guarantee that you or your family will survive a potentially fatal encounter with a gun-wielding stranger, in whole or in part, but this story shows that it's at least a viable alternative.

What if the law in Florida required the victim to retreat before defending himself, and his family? He had no viable options, other than (a) trust in the good judgement of an armed assailant, and (b) trusting that The State would ignore current law and let him off the hook for ignoring the legal Catch-22 for defending his family without first 'retreating'?

The father may have effected the same immediate results, but he would still have lost. A vindictive state could have tied him up for YEARS with trials, motions and procedures. Lawyers aren't cheap; he could have lost much more the money in his pocket at the time, just defending himself for defending himself.

At best.

At worst, he might have dallied instead of acted. He could have been murdered, his whole family could have been murdered before his eyes before he was murdered, just because he wasn't sure he had a right to defend himself.

This is a vindication of the wisdom of the Florida voters, who gave him a clear right legally acknowledged his right to defend himself and his family.

In a situation where there is no clear solution, there now IS a clear solution.

No longer must we jump through legal hoops to defend ourselves.

No longer must we hesitate, wondering whether a situation which is painfully clear to the man on the spot will be as obvious to a jury, months or years later.

Today, in Florida, if you're threatened ... if your family is threatened ... you are legallly permitted to take the appropriate action and defend your family.

This seems like a situation which, in The Wild, Wild West, would have been a no brainer. Instead, in most states, the right to defend your family has been so clouded to the detriment of the honest citizen, the instinctual need to react has been put into a strangle-hold.

Here's a cheer for Florida, where somebody has realized that villains plot against good people, and the rest of us need the freedom to act.

I hope the rest of the nation will notice, and take heed.

No retreat. When bad men pull a gun on a family, they are a lawful target.

I may be a pollyanna, but I think that as carjackers learn that they run a serious risk of being shot, they may find a different business.

Please note the strike-through above. Reader Austin Mike kindly pointed out that I had said Florida voters gave the father the right to defend himself. He already had that right.
Thanks again, Mike.

Texas Star, IPSC Videos from Oregon

The Dundee IPSC Classifier match in April had four classifier and two non-classifier stages. I wrote about one of the non-classifier stages earlier, illustrated with a video of SWMBO performing far above her C-Open classification would lead us to expect against a field of steel targets.
(April 27; "Steel Is My Friend")

The other non-classifier stage ("Belly Up To The Bar") featured mostly cardboard IPSC targets, but at the end of the run you were faced with a 9-shot array which could reasonably only be engaged from one position. That doesn't ordinarily present much of a challenge, but five of those nine shots were aimed at the 8" plates on a Texas Star target.

If you were shooting a limited-capacity class (eg: single-stack, Limited-10, Production) you came into the shooting position with no more than 11 rounds in your magazine.

It's a 25-round stage with a long walk down a target-rich alley, so even if you're shooting Open with a hi-cap magazine you have to ask yourself ... do I feel lucky? Can I shot the star with no misses (or few misses, depending on whether your magazine holds 25, 26 or 27 rounds) and risk losing time making a standing reload? Or do I try to find a place during the movement phase where I can reload without wasting as much time?

This turned out to be a very challenging stage if only because of the minimum round-count requirement to complete the course. The wide variety of cardboard targets on both sides of you while you walked down the alley invited you to treat it like a hoser-stage, but the change-ups from near to far targets and the proliferation of no-shoot penalty targets gave you plenty of room to screw up with a miss or a penalty ... or both ... if you yielded to the temptation to shoot on the move faster than your ability.

It was a 'hero-or-zero' stage, and while we didn't see anybody actually zero the stage, there were plenty of people who (see scores) were either too bold or too cautious on this stage.

You can watch videos of most of the people I was squaded with here, but this is really a celebration of "Bob the Nailer", who threw caution to the wind and ended up shooting the stage at an average time of just under two shots per second, mostly while moving, and racked up 118 of the available 125 points.

Go ahead, watch this movie, then go here to download (average filesize: 4mb) and view the rest of the crew try to play catch-up with Bob.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

IPSC vs USPSA: Open Letter to Ivan

A few days ago I mentioned that the Board of Directors (BOD) of the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA ... the regional governing body of Practical Shooting in America) has proposed a solution to a long-standing point of contention between USPSA and the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC ... the internation governing body of Practical Shooting -- worldwide.)

This subject has been a hot-topic on The Unofficial IPSC List, an email listserv dialogue about Practical Shooting which has (obviously) no official connection to either the regional or the international governing bodies. This email listserve is merely a place where people involved in Practical Shooting Competition can let their hair down and say what they really think.

In fact, the subject (essentially, USPSA autonomy) has caused a lot of hard feelings between the Regional and the International bodies, especially in the area of Rules of Competition. IPSC, as the ruling body 'internationally', has made dramatic and draconian (in my personal opinion, and perhaps in the opinion of other USPSA members) changes in the Official Rule Book, and the USPSA BOD has felt obliged to horse-trade which rules it would accept and which it would not. To date, USPSA has only been allowed to request a regional waiver, or variation, in the competition rules. At stake is the ultimate hammer: if IPSC does not agree to the USPSA request for a waiver, then the American Region must either bow to the International rules, or it may not be permitted to consider itself a member region of IPSC.

Call this "The Nuclear Option", except that it may be exercised not by USPSA, but by IPSC. That's why we in USPSA are so excited and hopeful that the proposal will be accepted. There is no serious move to separate USPSA as a member-region of IPSC, but because the International body has (to date) required strict rules of compliance, this has become an adversarial relationship, which is not the wish of either body.

We are also expecting that it will be accepted, because it allows us to continue what would normally be a congenial relationship with the International Governing Body.

The following is the applicable text in a letter which I ("Jerry the Geek") sent to Unofficial IPSC List member "Ivan the Terrible" in response to his comments.

"Ivan" is a resident of Hungary, and has served on the IPSC Rules Committee during the past two revisions of the IPSC Rule Book. He and I have sporatically exchanged opinions for the past nine years, both publically and privately. This email letter was written in response to specific comments Ivan recently made on The Unofficial IPSC List. I have included a version below (edited to keep it on-topic.)

..................... (Geez sez) ..............
Hi Ivan,
[snip inapplicable exchange]

It's good to hear from you, even when I don't agree with you.

In a development which may come as something as a surprise to some of us, I don't disagree with you at all, at least in the broader statements:

[snip inapplicable exchange]

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============
IMHO, IPSC needs a US region, and USPSA needs IPSC. However,were USPSA leave IPSC, the IPSC USA would be created in a minute.

There would be less members, but IMHO, many would join just as many did join to IDPA when it was created. Shooting more means more fun...

..................... (Geez sez) ..............

It's doubtless true that an "IPSC USA" would be created, almost as a knee-jerk reaction.

The members of that organization would be those who wish to shoot in International Competition, under International rules, for their own perfectly good reasons.

Those who competed in USPSA matches would be those who had no reason to espouse
International competition, and only want to go to the range on the odd Saturday to compete head-to-head with their friends and neighbors.

These two groups are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I wouldn't be surprised to see American shooters who are Internationally Ranked competing in USPSA matches just as they do now.


Because they like to shoot, and if there are TWO matches in a locality which offer competitive Practical-type shooting, it provides more opportunities to compete. Slightly different rules, of course, but the shooting is the reason for the competition.

You seem to feel that the competition is the reason for the shooting. That would be mostly correct for 'professional' shooters, but not so much for 'amateur' shooters.

Most of the people who compete in IPSC spend more money on equipment, ammuntiion, travel and match fees than they expect to make in prizes, endorsements and sponsorship. They don't compete because they expect to win; they compete because they love to shoot, and IPSC competition currently gives them an EXCUSE TO SHOOT.

We deal in bragging rights, my friend. We hope to go home with 'wood', not with 'gold'.
I sincerely doubt that a USPSA which was not directly associated with IPSC would lose a great deal of members or local support.

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============

............ IMHO, the more grief would be with the USPSA. The most experienced shooters and range officers who shoot outside the US would join to the IPSC USA anyhow; and the IPSC logo, the DVC "greeting" and such would all go to IPSC USA. So for IPSC, while it's not that funny, but surviveable.

..................... (Geez sez) ..............

Here you hit on a point which seems entirely likely. If only because IPSC began in the U.S., many of us (old-timers, mostly) would be loath to give upthe symbols which originated here. We would feel that they belong to 'us', even though most USPSA members had little or nothing to do with the origins of Practical Pistol Shooting.

You may not be aware that most Americans are almost fanatic about Tradition. This is probably the most significant reason why (in an almost "Catch-22" manner) we object so strenuously to rules which violate those traditions.

Whether or not it makes any sense to the International crowd, the risk of losing a simple thing like the phrase "DVC" (which most of us can't even pronounce,let alone translate) is important to us.

No, I can't pronounce or translate it accurately, either. But still, the CONCEPT is important to me; as is the symbol.

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============

As for USPSA - being member of an international organization might or might not help to reach their goals. From here, I don't know whether you enjoy any benefits of that or not. But the current solution your BOD invented is a strike of genius. It costs almost nothing, and everybody is a winner. What's the problem with that, then?

..................... (Geez sez) ..............

Based purely on my own experience, and those of the people I usually see at USPSA matches, the 'goals' of the membership here are most often to establish a stable set of rules under which we can compete .... than means we can go to the range on a weekend and shoot a lot of pistol rounds down-range, and expect to be able to objectively define who wins and who loses.

We don't really ask a lot more than that, but there are some subtle buzz-words in that sentence. The most important is the phrase "stable set of rules".

The most important thing YOU have said is: ...the current solution your BOD invented is a strike of genius. It costs almost nothing, and everybody is a winner. What's the problem with that, then?"

The answer is .. no problem. You're absolutely correct. You shoot the way that meets your legal and cultural imperatives, and we shoot the way that meets ours. We call it by the same name, accept our differences, and no body goes away muttering about 'the other guys' (in different places that we don't know or, really, much care about.)

All we want to do is go shoot our game. The problem is when someone suit from out-of-town makes arbitrary decisions about what 'our game' should look like.

Really, that's all there is to it. If we can establish an accordance that let's us shoot the game we love, and nobody (especially someone who has never competed in a USPSA match!) seems to feel that they have the right to make arbitrary decisions about the way we choose to pass our time, we're completely happy to share a common heritage.

Do you perhaps know about "The Boston Tea Party"? Or is the phrase "No taxation without representation" familiar?

Our representation just asserted itself, and it's both timely and appropriate.

As long as we don't have to deal with some external self-professed 'higher authority' from overseas attempting to rule our way of life, we can get along with anybody.

The recently proposed solution from the USPSA BOD would allow Americans to compete in USPSA competition the way we choose, while allowing International competition to be goverened entirely by the IPSC rules. Not a problem, and we've decided to agree that both venues are "IPSC".

I can live with that.

=============== (Ivan sez) ==============
Best Regards,
Ivan "The Terrible"

.................... (Geez sez) ..............

Jerry the ( No problem. You blinked. ) Geek.