Thursday, November 30, 2006

Back Up & Running! Burrrrrr!

Sorry for the lack of posts (and video)...the winter storm that came through the High Country over the last couple of days chewed up my regular Internet coverage, which is, because I live in Teeny-Tiny Ville is a line-of-sight wireless link to downtown. Heavy snow makes line-of-sight problematic!

Anyhow, the snow has stopped, the wind is blowing at about 273mph up here near the Divide, and it's colder than the proverbial witch's anatomy in the's soooo cold I just saw a line of Emperor penguins march past my office window, and several of them were wearing beak mufflers...

Anyhow, intersting commentary on police from the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
Simply put, the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on "officer safety" and paramilitary training pervades today's policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn't shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed.
I certainly don't unconditionally agree with the piece (especially lumping "officer safety" into that first sentence!!!), but as you've read here before, the militarization of what were previously community police forces is a serious issue.

I look at the issue from a perspective of weapons' selection and honest-to-goodness training time and budgets, especially with long arms. The M-4 carbine is an awesomely efficient firearm, but 5.56 carbines — especially full-auto carbines — used in urban situations IMO (which doesn't actually amount to bat dookey in the long run) require both a higher level of training and a greater frequency of training than any but the largest urban departments can swing.

There are relatively easy solutions here that increase firepower without overstraining the training resourse:
1) The born-again pump shotgun, with current ammo a far superior weapon than most police administrators understand.
2) The pistol caliber carbine (and, yes, I was the "crazy man" who suggested in a law enforcement magazine back in the mid-1980s that departments might reconsider all those moldering Thompson .45s in police vaults...heavy with a low cyclic rate, making it one of the easiest full-autos to shoot ever made; the .45 ACP cartridge is a proven stopper at urban, sub-50 yard distances and the Thompson has one of the most recognizable firearms sihouettes in the world...put an Aimpoint on one and you're got a fiercely efficient urban police weapon.
3) "Alternative" 5.56 guns like the Remington pump, which takes AR magazines yet can piggyback on decades of police shotgun training.
Again, I'm not a cop, nor have I been one. But I've worked an awful lot with police trainers and in training — police, military and civilian. I often think police adminstrators than (yeah yeah, when they think at all!) think it's "one size fits all." See if we can't hustle up some Homeland Security bucks for M-4s all around. Yet one size never fits all...a rural Sheriff's Department in Wyoming has different risk, and consequently different firearms needs, than an urban police department in the South...and forget about the big cities!

What I hate to see are people like Mayor Bloomberg willing to sell out his own officers before they even have a chance to speak.

One aspect of the NYC shootings that seems to be growing centers on "contagious shooting;" this from the New York Times:
It is known in police parlance as “contagious shooting” — gunfire that spreads among officers who believe that they, or their colleagues, are facing a threat. It spreads like germs, like laughter, or fear. An officer fires, so his colleagues do, too.
“We can teach as much as we can,” said John C. Cerar, a retired commander of the Police Department’s firearms training section. “The fog of the moment happens. Different things happen that people don’t understand. Most people really believe what it’s like in television, that a police officer can take a gun and shoot someone out of the saddle.”
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of police studies at John Jay College, said a high number of shots fired underscores the threat the officers felt.

“The only reason to be shooting in New York City is that you or someone else is going to be killed and it’s going to be imminent,” he said. “It’s highly unlikely you fire a shot or two shots. You fire as many shots as you have to, to extinguish the threat. You don’t fire one round and say: ‘Did I hit him? Is he hit?’ ”

Mr. Cerar said, “Until we have some substitute for a firearm, there will always be a situation where more rounds are fired than in other situations.”
There's a commnet on this article in today's Slate. The bulk of the commentary is the usual anti-cop/anti-gun slop:
How can you control a contagion of police overreaction? By controlling the crucial mechanism: guns. The key number in the Diallo case wasn't 41; it was 16. Two of the four officers accounted for 32 of the 41 bullets, because each of them emptied his weapon. NYPD rules "require that the officers carry nine millimeter semi-automatic pistols with 16 shots in the magazine and the first trigger pull being a conventional trigger pull and all subsequent trigger pulls being a hair trigger pull," one defense lawyer told the jury. That's why the officers fired so many shots so fast: Their guns, loaded with 64 rounds, "were all capable of being emptied in less than four seconds."
But the author's conclusion is, IMO, a valid one:
It's the same argument the National Rifle Association makes for the freedom to use firearms: Guns don't kill people; people kill people.

Contagious shooting blows that argument away. If cops fire reflexively, there's no moral difference between people and guns. They're both machines, and based on recent shootings, we should limit clips or firing speed to control their damage. No responsibility, no freedom.

Alternatively, we could reassert that police are free agents, to be trusted with weapons and held responsible—not excused with mechanical metaphors—when they abuse them. You can't have it both ways.
I happen to believe pretty strongly in the NRA's argument, for "civilians" and LEOs. From my standpoint, we need to use whatever information we can to constantly evaluate our own training. Training is fluid, changing...or it's a death-trap.


Anonymous said...

When it comes to police and their training and their choices I remember the bumper sticker seen on the backs of my ponytailed profs VW'S that stated "Question Authority". We gun owners should be scared as hell of the current trends in policing.

The Founding Fathers were scared shitless of large standing armies. I am not scared of our armed forces but policing in this contry is trending in a direction I don't like. Their is a fine line between policing and fascism. Cops take orders mostly without question and "cover one anothers backs". That is a scary picture indeed.

Anonymous said...

I started getting nervous back in the 80s when the Pentagon started dumping M-16s into anything that even remotely resembled a poice agency. There were reports from some rural police forces where they had been shipped more M-16s than they had officers.

Add to that the militarization training - police used to view us as citizens, now they view us (as good soldiers should) as the enemy - until we prove otherwise.

Add to that the abysmal quality of police candidates I've run across, and it's becoming truly scary.

Like the affirmative action hires (like the FD Chief in Minneapolis who was hired just because she was (a) a woman, and (b) an "out" lesbian). Same as the police chief in SF I believe.

Or the Denver police officer I saw who was so fat she could barely get out of the squad car on a multi-car stop. Some backup she proved to be, as she stood leaning on the door of the squad car drinking a Starbucks - with her back to the stopped car.

It is impossible at this point to tell which officer is sharp, trained, and willing to use his/her head, and which officer is the twerp that got beat up in High School and this is his way of getting back at the world.

IMHO (worth less than Michael's) this is on purpose, as the previous note stated so police will accept orders without thinking, and to do the local "dirty work" of the Feds when it comes time to act.

Remember New Orleans and how every police agency that went to help was illegally ordered to confiscate firearms. Some even told the gun owners they were sorry - but they did it anyhow.

We will be disarmed someday, either because the Dimmies in Washington so decree it, or for some real or imagined crisis, like Katrina. And the local cops will be the ones to do it. The only question is will any of us have the cajones to act first and stop such local confiscation before it begins?

Jim Manley said...

The problem is not the weapons or, usually, the LEOs. The problem is the target of the police operations. All of the shootings that have taken place recently have been the result of drug enforcement efforts.

The war on drugs has cast a wider net than any other law enforcement effort. Mistakes are inherently more likely when so many people are made potential criminals.

Perhaps most important for gun owners are the recent cases of no-knock SWAT raids to execute drug search warrants. Consider a raid on your own home in the middle of the night. Would you level your .45 at an officer as you identified him? Would you begrudge him for shooting you?

"Violating the sanctity of the home with a violent, forced entry -- all to enforce laws against consensual acts -- simply isn't compatible with any honest notion of a free society," says Radley Balko at

P.S. - the reasons the police might raid your home are many: a family member who is arrested for drugs lists your home as his last known address, then skips out on his trial; a neighbor is using pot and the house numbers get confused; someone you live with is involved with drugs, unbeknownst to you. All of these have been cited as reasons for mistaken raids.

me said...

Amendment XVIII

Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

If it took a constitutional amendment to prohibit and criminalize alcohol, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY give congress the power to make laws related to this then WHERE is the amendment related to drugs? How is the so-called war on drugs and all the rest that comes with it constitutional? More importantly why do people let them get away with it?

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike--

During that snow storm and the rest of the SHOOTING INDUSTRY missed the breaking news that the BID Books are out on the sale of NEW COLT commercial..again ......and this time its real....
according to my contact.

Best info has Bank of America as the contact and that Purchaser of NEW COLT has First dibs on Archieve if they are "high bidder" (can you say "swish")

Anyones guess who would want to buy---jus tthe name and logo----

Could it be that USAF company you did the show on this summer? HAHAHA

Mike --you always have it up your sleeve!