Thursday, December 08, 2005

Air Marshal Shooting in Miami

I watched a little of the morning teevee coverage of the Air Marshal shooting at Miami International, and — perhaps predictably — incredibly dim-witted. Most of it centered on whether the marshals were justified in "shooting to kill," or, as that brilliant law enforcement mind Katie Couric aksed, whether the marshals could have shot the man in the hand, or "trigger finger."

Okay, it wouldn't take much to get me cranked up on a rant, but I actually think that, once again, we (in this case, the Air Marshals Service and assorted "experts") are not doing a good job of explaining the nature of reality versus teevee and movies.

Here is how the television interview with Joe Bob Expert should have gone:

KATIE [crossing her legs to show off the new Manolos]: So Air Marshals are training to shoot to kill...

JOE BOB: Katie, that's simply not true. Like any law enforcement officer, Air Marshals are trained to control or stop of situation where, potentially, a lot of people could die...

KATIE: But they do shoot to kill...

JOE BOB: No, they shoot to stop, and there's a difference...

KATIE: But the person they're shooting at still dies...

JOE BOB: Oftentimes, yes, you're right...the suspect dies from the law enforcement officer's attempt to stop him or her. Think about the time frames we're dealing with here...seconds, or more often, fractions of seconds. Katie, you can't imagine how fast these situations can get completely out of hand! How long does it take a terrorist or a bomber to fire a bullet or trigger a bomb? Our agents are tasking with stopping...

KATIE: We know you have to stop them, but do you have to kill them? Isn't there some non-lethal way, or better training, so a Marshal can, say, shoot the shoulder or the hand or the trigger finger?

JOE BOB: In all honesty, Katie, no, there's not. When we say "stop them," we mean quite literally shut them down. That means making the terrorist or bomber immediately cease the action of pulling a trigger or triggering a bomb...

KATIE: Couldn't you accomplish that just as well by shooting, like, their hands?

JOE BOB: No, and to explain that I'm afraid we're going to have to touch on some subjects your viewers might not want to hear...

KATIE: Our viewers are tougher than you think! Yesterday, we had Martha Stewart on!

JOE BOB: Katie, what we ideally want to happen to the bad guy is the equivalent of a computer crash...an instantanious cessation of action. Because if everything doesn't shut down instantly, the reflexes of the body will continue for a fraction of a second — long enough to detonate that bomb many times over!

KATIE: What does that mean, Joe Bob?

JOE BOB: It means we may have to shoot the terrorist or the bomber in the head, Katie, to disconnect the brain from the operating parts of the body.

KATIE: Yeech! That's barbaric!

JOE BOB: Yes, it is. But it gets worse...we will probably shoot the terrorist or bomber multiple times, because we have to keep shooting until they stop and the threat is past. We do not have the luxury of shoot, pause, access, because that is not the kind of war we are fighting. That pause could mean a plane-load of passengers or the hundreds of people waiting at a gate all disappearing in a fireball.

KATIE: But I still don't see why a really well-placed shot...

JOE BOB: Katie, the truth is that shooting is always a compromise between power, speed and accuracy. We need a powerful weapon because we need a proven "manstopper,' but powerful handguns are harder to handle than lighter recoiling target handguns. The faster we go, the less accurate we are. Every agent knows that equation, and in a splat second, with their own and innocent lives hanging, they have to balance that equation.

KATIE: And once of those innocents died as a direct result.

JOE BOB: Yes, you're absolutely right, and there is certainly enough pain and suffering to go around. But not blame, Katie. Not blame. My heart goes out to the family of the slain man, but also to those agents, who will have to live with their actions the rest of their lives. They did what we trained them to do — protect us, if necessary with their lives. But the people we protect have to take some responsibility, too. If you were taking a mentally unstable person on a plane trip, might it not make sense to tell the gate attendants or other representatives of the airline? And people have to understand that we take any and all events that happen at airports very seriously. If you say, "I have a bomb" and stuff your hand into a pocket or bag, you will likely be shot. Even you, Katie.

KATIE: Oh, thank heavens I never fly commercial! I hope to never meet you in an airport, Joe Bob!

JOE BOB: The feeling is mutual, Katie...

Yeah well...here's a link to the old Air Marshal Firearms Qualifying Test on The Gun Zone (and prepare to wait, because the site is flooded right now). My friends who have shot this test call it challenging, but not impossible. Think of it as an IPSC A-level shooter or IDPA Master-level shooter drill, tougher if performed with a "typical" Fed issue firearms, such as the SIG 229 in .357 SIG caliber!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why can't we get the perky one in a simulator and see how see does?

Anonymous said...

I thought the survival rate on gunshots was ~80%. It'd be nicer if it was 97% or something, then it could be shoved down the anti-gunner's throats really hard.

Michael Bane said...

Actually, the survival rate is (or was, last time I checked) about 80% on gunshots.

This assumes you are the "average" gunshot victime, shot in a drug deal gone bad by some other idiot holding his gun sideways, shot by a spouse, injured as collateral damage in gang shootings, shot by "stupid."

If you have the unfortunate luck to be shot by someone who knows what he or she is doing, your odds get REAL long, since standard training is multiple center mass hits, followed by a "failure drill," ie, a shot to that large cluster of nerves on top of your neck, if you don't fall down fast. Also, trained people tend to pay attention to things like "caliber" and "ammo selection," as opposed to buying 5 of a kind from your buddy who hangs out in back of the 7-11.

There was actually an article in the Denver paper talking about how the cops were TOO accurate, since the people they shot kept on dying. Only dolts like Ms. Perky Toes Couric think a gun is designed for frightening evil doers...

mb

Anonymous said...

More than 27 hours have passed since the shooting and a ransacking of the news reports turns up not one disinterested witness who heard Alpizar say he had a bomb. The only talk of a bomb comes from "officials."

Michael Bane said...

The operative word here being "disinterested." I fly 2 or 3 times a week. Most of the people getting on the plane pasted "Condition White" some time back, on the way to "Condition Dead To The Friggin' World." Most of the people at the airport wouldn't have noticed the bomb going off, unless it shut down the Starbucks...

mb

shooter said...

Somehow, I think Mrs. Holly Bubble Britches, I mean, Katie Couric, will never understand the concept while living in her ivory tower. It will have to take a massive adrenal-dumping, panty wetting event for her to grasp the reality that we like minded individuals understand. Not just her limo spinning out on ice, or chipping a nail while shopping at Barney's, but guns out and sights on and slack up.

Bane, I encourage you or another gunnie journalist type to invite her to a training academy like Gun Site or Thunder Ranch. Heck, I should invite her to our Tac Tuesday class to see how civilians train for real life incidents.

Either that, or just whack her upside the head with a 2x4.

Angela Dixon said...

I really like your writing style. Nice Post keep it up.

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