Thursday, August 25, 2011

I don't usually do this...

Okay, if you know me, you know I'm a gun nut. I'm a hard-core supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and my gun collection is the type that makes Charles Schumer wet himself. That said, I generally don't discuss specific areas of theory in this arena, as I reserve this blog's "gun talk" mainly for discussions involving the legal aspects of owning firearms.

However, I saw something I felt the need to share tonight. Interestingly enough, it doesn't actually involve the use of firearms directly. It's more of a "something to think about, if you're anticipating the possibility of being somewhere where firearms might be used" situation.

For instance, the probability of a police officer ever actually NEEDING a bullet-resistant vest is highly unlikely...but that doesn't mean they don't generally wear one as part of their uniform.

Tonight, I saw a video from a while back, and something struck me as something that should be instinctual for anyone that has ever trained for the possibility of being in a firefight. It's from a few years ago, but the video involves a situation where police officers end up in a firefight with a homeowner who is distraught about his domestic situation.

In what was either a very calculated display of marksmanship, or a very lucky shot for the homeowner, one of the officers is struck in the neck and begins to lose blood very quickly. In the video, you can see him holding his neck as he runs away from his position toward the safety of backup officers.

As seen in the video, the officer collapses from the loss of blood. At the 0:50 mark, you can see his fellow officer arrive to assist him.

Here's the kicker. If you look closely, the first thing the officer does is reach inside the collar of the wounded officer. He's looking for a "drag handle". They're put there for a reason. It's so a man can grab you with his weak hand and pull you to safety, while still holding his weapon with his strong hand.

You'll also notice that when the officer did not find the drag handle, he was forced to holster his weapon so he could put a hand under each arm and drag the man to safety.

Two things happened here, that could have been prevented had the officer been wearing a vest equipped with a drag handle. First, the officer could have saved valuable time by being able to grab the handle and run. When you are at distances of less than 100 feet, and the average handgun round will cover that distance in 1/10th of a second, every moment counts. Second, you'll notice that the responding officer had to holster his weapon in order to use both hands to grab the wounded man and drag him to safety.

Not having a drag handle on his vest placed both men in greater danger than they already were. Not only did it take additional time to holster the weapon and place both hands under the wounded officer's arms, but it also required taking a weapon out of the fight.

Some may say that having a 200lb weight in the left hand would have left the right hand in a position of inconsequentiality, but I disagree. While dragging a 200lb weight obviously requires effort, it's not exactly a super-human feat of strength...and unless you're a straight-up poon, you can drag such a weight with one hand.

Obviously, you're not going to be an olympic-quality marksman while dragging a 200lb weight...but you'll still be able to get off a few rounds of suppression fire, which makes all but the most disciplined or deranged people stop and think. This is somewhat difficult to do if you've got your pistol in your holster and both hands under some sweating bloody dude's armpits.

Some people think dragging a human body one-handed cannot be done without help. Physiology says otherwise. What matters is the grip. If you can get a good solid grip on something, you can pull it one-handed, unless it's simply too heavy to be pulled at all. The reasoning for this lies in the fact that the average human hand is capable of gripping far more of a load than the rest of the body can handle, and "dragging" is done with the legs.

When one hand has a good hold on the load, the "working" portion of the body forms a triangle. Both legs form the two lower points, and the gripping hand's shoulder forms the upper point. When there is no solid gripping point such as a drag handle, both hands are needed to act as "hooks" under the arms of the wounded man in order to even out the load. If you are a grown man attempting to drag an 80lb child, things may be different...but if you're a grown man attempting to drag another grown man, putting one hand under the armpit of that man will only result in your hand slipping down that man's arm as his body stays in place.

The drag handle acts not only as a solid gripping point, but also as a load center. Being positioned in the center of the back, the wounded man's body does not shift to one side or the other. When the load center is pulled, the remainder of the body is pulled with it without shifting to one direction or the other.

Think of a boat trailer. When you hitch up to it, you go to the tongue of the trailer. It is one centralized lead point being pulled, and the tires act as the two lower points on the triangle. You'll notice that a trailer is not hitched up by two points on the tow vehicle's bumper. A dragged body is essentially the same thing. The handle acts as the "trailer tongue", while the buttocks act as the "tires".

Imagine a wounded body without a handle, as it compares to a trailer. Instead of hitching up to a ball on the bumper, you've got a pair of ropes tying onto each side of the trailer. Towing such a trailer is all kinds of awkward, you don't get the same speed, etc.

So essentially, what I'm saying is, let this be a lesson. I apologize for going on and on ad nauseum about its importance, but...

If you find yourself being in a situation where a bullet-resistant vest is important, you should contemplate the reality of the situation. Again with the automotive analogies, I ask you to liken yourself to a truck as viewed by an insurance adjuster after a collision.

Your kevlar vest is like having a frame-mounted pipe bumper that covers the radiator. It's going to keep you from being completely screwed if you smoke a cow or a small tree. That doesn't change the fact that there's a LOT of other parts to your truck that may render it "totalled" in the event of an accident.

The human body isn't much different. Your kevlar vest is going to protect your "motor and radiator" (i.e. "heart and lungs"). It's not going to do anything for your neck, your arms, or your legs...and if you get hit in one of these places, there exists a strong possibility that you could bleed out.

Look at the O.J. Simpson case. That's where many people learned about how much blood is expended from a neck wound, if an artery is cut. Then, take a look at most people who commit suicide by cutting...they go for the wrist. Point is, if you hit an artery, you bleed out fast. Your vest doesn't cover most arteries. Your vest covers less than half of your exposed body. While "bleeder" injuries are more easily treated than puncture wounds to a vital organ, they are every bit as serious if not treated in a timely manner. As a reminder, rewind that video and see how the wounded officer went from running while holding his neck to falling down in a ditch, in a manner of seconds.

As a reminder, remember that your average standard-size handgun STARTS at 9mm, and works up from there. That's more than 1/3 of an inch, minimum. They are typically loaded with hollowpoint rounds, and they typically expand at least 1.5 times as large as their initial diameter. If you're hit with one, and it happens to be on that 60-70% that isn't covered by your vest, there's a good chance that it's going to make you bleed profusely.

Also remember that even in states that outlaw "high capacity" magazines, there's still ten rounds in it. If you drop, you're no longer a moving target. Every moment that someone has to reposition his gear in order to move you is a moment the shooter has to take aim again. If your help has holster his weapon to help you, that's two stationary targets the shooter has opportunity on...and if he has to put both hands on you, he's less mobile, which means you're both at greater risk even when the two of you get mobile.

Something to think about...

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Arkansas Problem...

Today, I watched live streaming video of the most vile and corrupt people I've ever seen...but before I get into that, here's a bit of background.

I was about 16 years old, laying in bed watching television one night, when a documentary came on. I had been waiting to see it, because I had previously seen where the seminal heavy metal band Metallica had allowed their music to be used in a feature film.

I was (and still am) a fan of Metallica, and this case was something I hadn't heard about, so I watched it. I thought it was supposed to be a work of fiction. By the time I had finished watching "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills", I damned near vomited.

Black t-shirts? Check.
Fan of heavy metal music? Check.
Distrust of our (in)justice system? Check.
Social misfits? Check.

Well, that pretty much describes me at the time. I couldn't help but wonder how completely and totally screwed up our justice system could be, when three people could be convicted of the most heinous crime on the books in Arkansas...with the only "evidence" being other peoples' opinions of their character, and an error-filled confession coerced from a mildly-retarded teenager who had been interrogated by the police for 12 hours.

I've been following this case since then, and cannot fathom how this could have happened.

One man was told that he might possibly be paroled from his "Life plus 40 years" sentence, but would be so old that his life would be meaningless. He'd be too old to drive, too old to work, too old to screw, and too old to do just about anything else that a man might want to do while living in the free world.

Another was told that, no matter how old he lived to be, his "Life without parole" sentence would mean he would never again breathe another breath as a free man. The entirety of his life's remainder would be spent behind bars. Every waking moment of his life would be spent locked in a cage, until the day when that life finally came to an end.

The third was told that, unlike the other two, he would not be spending his time in prison wondering how old of a man he would be when he finally succumbed to natural causes, because the State of Arkansas was going to speed up that process for him. He would be strapped to a gurney and pumped full of poison, killed at the hands of the state.

The years have progressed. The documentary filmmakers have produced two additional works about the case. New evidence has been submitted to the courts. A hearing was set for December, in light of evidence that DNA had been tested and found to not match the victims or the convicted...meaning someone else was there at the scene of the crime.

Yesterday, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin walked out of a "Supermax" prison in Arkansas, while in the custody of sheriff's deputies. Today, they walked out of a county court house as free men.

Sadly, however, they have received no justice and may have to keep fighting for the rest of their lives if they ever want to see it.

As part of an agreement reached with state prosecutors and the defense team, prosecutors agreed to a sentence of "time served" in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge. These men are still convicted felons, and branded as murderers.

The lead prosecutor for the state actually had the balls to stand up this morning in front of television cameras, and claim that this was done to preserve the state's money. Really? "The state" tried to execute one man, and imprison two more for the rest of their lives, for crimes they didn't commit. You're certain that they are guilty of sexually mutilating and murdering three innocent eight year old children, but you think "justice" is served by letting these men go?

Or, could it be, that the prosecutor is a useless excuse for a human being? He's more worried about the state being deprived of tax dollars for wrongfully trying to kill one man, and wrongfully imprisoning two more? If you know you have a case, what are you afraid of?

Sir, you are a chickenshit. You should be publicly beaten for not immediately acknowledging that the State of Arkansas screwed up severely, apologizing to these men (and their attorneys, and their families, and also the families of the victims for not seeking to find the people responsible for the crime), and then showing them where to fill out the forms for the millions of dollars worth of compensation you owe them.

Instead, you had the balls to stand up on national television and say that you "pray these men have been rehabilitated". Are you kidding me?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

To shoot, or not to shoot?

About a week or so ago, a policeman named Robert Lasso was shot dead in the back yard by a Pennsylvania homeowner named George Hitcho Jr.

Here are the known facts of the case, as recorded by the court:

  1. Lasso was called to the home by someone other than Hitch or his spouse.

  2. The incident did not take place at the front door, but at the back door.

  3. There was no evidence of a disturbance at the home, other than the 911 call.

  4. Hitcho owned two dogs, who were in the yard.

  5. Lasso repeatedly pointed a Taser electrocution device, alternatively, at Hitcho and his dogs.

  6. Lasso called for backup, and his backup ended up being the Chief of Police.

  7. Lasso was told to leave the property, and to not come back without a warrant.

  8. The Chief ordered Lasso to “shoot the dogs” with his electrocution device.

  9. Upon such an order, Hitcho “pulled a shotgun” and fired one round, striking Lasso.

  10. Lasso was taken to a hospital where he later died, while Hitcho was taken into custody and subsequently charged with homicide.

Now, let's look at the inferred facts of this case. I say “inferred” only because they require the use of basic logic, not because I'm some kind of a psychic.

  1. Lasso, upon being told to depart from the premises, had no lawful authority to be on the premises unless he found probable cause or exigent circumstances to give him such a legal right. It is highly doubtful that such a thing occurred, considering it was neither brought up in court, nor did the officer ever attempt to enter the home.

  2. The dogs were obviously not “attacking” Lasso, if he had time to wait for backup to arrive.

  3. The incident occurred at the rear door of Hitcho's home, and not the front door, which indicates that the officer did not hold any reservations about exceeding his authority after finding no evidence of a disturbance after knocking on the front door.

  4. Hitcho was still obviously in his home, as evident by the fact that a shotgun was close at hand and neither officer had a firearm drawn. Unless the shotgun was cut down to far below the legal overall length of 26”, one does not simply “pull” a shotgun without it being noticed beforehand by two trained police officers. As evident by the fact that no where in the numerous newspaper reports or the court record was an illegal firearm mentioned, it was a legal shotgun. Even a pistol-grip shotgun of minimum legal length is incredibly difficult to hide on one's person, unless that person is wearing a full-length heavy coat capable of concealing both the length and the large outline of a shotgun.

Since that is settled, let's go over some basics of the law.

  1. In order for a law enforcement officer to legally be on a person's property, one of four things must have occurred.

    A) A warrant has been signed by a judge, granting said LEO permission to be on the premises.

    B) The officer has seen probable cause of a crime having been committed, or immediately about to be committed.

    C) Exigent circumstances exist, such as hearing someone scream.

    D) The LEO has the homeowner's permission.

    In light of the absence of these four things, the officer had a legal duty to depart the premises immediately when told to do so. He also had a legal duty to not return to the property without a warrant, exigent circumstances, or probable cause, because he had been told not to do so by the homeowner.

  2. Pointing a Taser electrocution device at a human being is no different than threatening him with a firearm, a lead pipe, or a knife. It is meant to inflict incapacitating pain, which is an assault upon the person, if not done within the confines of the law. Threatening assault is a crime.

  3. The threat of force is no different than the actual use of such force, with regard to warranting a response to such force. In other words, if someone unlawfully points a gun at you, the response of shooting that person is every bit as warranted in that situation as it would be if they had actually fired shots at you with intent to kill.

  4. A person has the right to protect his life and property using any force necessary, up to and including lethal force.

Now that we've gone over the facts, here's my take on it...

The cop had no business whatsoever being in this guy's backyard, period. It's obvious that no one was in the backyard, since no one was there at the time of the incident (other than the two cops) and there is no record of anyone having been in the back yard. If the circumstances would have given this cop the authority to go into the back yard, those same circumstances would have allowed the cop to kick down the door and deal with the situation...and the cop's duty as a public servant would have demanded that he do so. Instead, he went on a fishing trip in the back yard.

The cop was on private property, and did not immediately leave upon being asked to do so. In the absence of lawful authority, that makes him a trespasser...and guilty of a crime, himself. Pointing a Taser electrocution device at both the subject of his “investigation” (read: FISHING TRIP IN THE BACK YARD) constituted a threat to the man's life and property.

The cop was shot for trespassing and threatening, end of story. It's sad that he had to die, but he brought it upon himself.