Tag Archive for Crime

Comforting Lies

I recently read an article, “Running While Female,” and The Comforting Lie of Safety.

From the article…

“But it’s even more misguided to believe that we can create a safe environment for women everywhere.

The fact is, it’s not a safe planet. It’s not safe for rabbits or cows or gazelles, or for women or men. This is a truth that Western societies have beautifully concealed with antibiotics, airbags and security systems, and so it’s always upsetting when a murder or a survey suggests that we’ve been comforting ourselves with a lie.”

“It’s easy to ride around with our Coexist bumper stickers and assume that we ought to be safe, but nature laughs at the concept. A rabbit doesn’t have the “right” to be safe while sitting exposed in a field. Should humans? The inherent brutality of the world, which theologians and philosophers have grappled with for thousands of years, has been papered over so much that we believe safe is the default and become outraged when it becomes clear that it’s not. That’s our bad.

We are not safe, none of us, and we become less safe when we start to believe that we are.”

These concepts go to the heart of what I find problematic with much of the progressive liberal agenda. It seems to be prevalent the thinking that the world owes you everything you need: food, shelter, clothing, tampons, birth control, medical care, smartphones, and so on. All your needs and wants met with little to nothing in return. And anyone who opposes that is racist or classist or full of microaggressions. The very idea that you’re owed something that you didn’t contribute to in any way is basically saying that you have a right to take the fruits of someone else’s labor for nothing in return. That’s slavery. It doesn’t matter what it is, someone had to work to produce it, plant it, take care of it, maintain it, provide the service, etc.

Now none of this is to mean that I think everyone gainfully employed shouldn’t be able to afford the things they need. But I do think that they shouldn’t be able to afford all the things they want. Someone working at McDonald’s cooking fries is not entitled to go to fancy restaurants every night or to get all of the latest and greatest technology gadgets. Of course, I do think that our priorities are screwed up when it comes to compensation. I don’t think an athlete is making a far greater contribution to society than a teacher, for example, to warrant the millions of dollars difference in salaries. But I digress.

Getting back to the topic of safety it also flabbergasts me that it is expected that others are responsible for your safety. So many people respond to stories of criminal attacks with the mindset that you shouldn’t have to worry about how you dress or how you act or where you go. You shouldn’t have to refrain from showing off wads of cash because nobody has a right to attack you. You shouldn’t have to obey a police officer if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting drunk and passing out at a frat party because nobody has a right to take advantage of you. Some go so far as to believe there shouldn’t be any consequences for their actions. As Marc likes to say (paraphrasing), “should” is a problematic word: try using “should” with the weather and see how that works out.

That goes hand in hand with “deserve”. No, you won’t deserve to get sexually assaulted or robbed or killed. But people take it to far and rely on what they deserve to determine how to live their lives. Or use their concept of fairness and what is deserved to excuse behavior (that unarmed man attacking a cop didn’t deserve to be shot).

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Not a living, Not your health. Not your safety. If you’re not willing to provide for yourself then maybe in this case you really are getting what you deserve.

Lessons from Aurora, Colorado theater shooting

In reading some of the accounts of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting there are multiple lessons the armed citizen can take away from them to help be better prepared should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Let’s take a look at some of the statements made and accounts printed in the news to see what can be learned.

The suspect [James Holmes] marched up the aisle in the stadium-style theater, picking off those who tried to flee, witnesses said.

I’ve read this account multiple times and there are several explanations. Holmes may have been focusing simply on keeping as many people from escaping as possible. Or, like a cowardly dog, he was most willing to attack when the victim’s back was turned. Along those lines, and based on the body armor he was wearing, he was most fearful of an armed response and was watching for threats to himself. Fleeing victims could be safely engaged.

In this case the best course of action for an armed citizen would be to remain still until an opportunity for a counter-attack presented itself. For example, when the shooter turned to engage a fleeing victim there would be a reduced risk of return fire while attempting to subdue the threat. Your incoming fire would also have the likely effect of distracting his attack and facilitating escape for the victims.

Holmes, used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol, stopping only to reload.

While low light would have made it difficult to determine what Holmes was doing, a pause in gunfire and the sound of a reload might make then a good time to attack. Depending on his skill, though, there might only be a few brief seconds to engage.

[Aurora Police Chief Dan] Oates said the gunman wore a gas mask and a ballistic helmet and vest, as well as leg, groin and throat protectors.

The body armor would have made it very difficult to get stopping hits on Holmes, but it might not have mattered. Since he surrendered without incident is is likely that numerous rounds slamming into his vest, helmet, and visor would have been enough to make him flee or at least distract him enough to allow more people to escape and slow down the engagement to give the police more time to respond.

“I didn’t think it was real,” [Jennifer] Seeger said. She said she was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. “I was just a deer in headlights. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

Being stunned into inaction is a common occurrence when confronted with extreme violence. Despite what the media attempts to portray, it really isn’t all that common and most people go their entire lives without facing a deadly threat. Being prepared and having the mindset that bad things do happen to good people can help you to shave precious seconds off beginning your response. If you know what to do and are trained what to do, your body will just start to do it until your brain has a chance to catch up.

Holmes is also believed to have hurled a gas canister into the theater before opening fire.

It has not yet been officially announced whether the substance used was smoke, tear gas, pepper spray, or another substance but it would certainly complicate an armed response. If a chemical irritant and you were close enough to be exposed, you might have a very difficult time engaging. If smoke, it would combine with the darkness to make it even harder to hit the attacker. A flashlight in the darkness could help or hinder. It would make it easier to see the attacker but might draw his fire. If smoke was used, the smoke could reflect the light and make it harder to see instead of easier. Regardless, in the darkened theater having illuminated sights on your firearm would be a help.

A young family’s last-minute decision to sit in the balcony may have saved their lives in the “Dark Knight” movie massacre…Though the couple had planned to sit in the front of the theater by the exit through which a gunman later entered, they decided instead to sit in the second-floor veranda.

It can be hard to govern your life by what is the best tactical location in any given room, and the best location may very well be determined by the source of the threat. If you’re on the right side of the theater and the shooter is on the right side, you’ve got a problem. If he’s on the left side, though, you may be in a position to quickly escape. For these people, being in the balcony was a safe location for them. Had the shooter been in the balcony, it would not have been.

Personally, I don’t like to be in a position where I’m trapped from reaching an exit or cover/concealment. In a theater, for example, I tend to move a few rows up and sit towards the center giving some cushion for response time and equal opportunity to move left or right depending on need.

Matt McQuinn’s last living act was to shield his girlfriend from the hail of bullets sprayed by the gunman behind the Aurora, Colo., multiplex massacre.

If you’re unarmed, you obviously have fewer options. McQuinn chose to shield his girlfriend with his body, sacrificing himself so that she could survive. Another option might be to charge the shooter when he is distracted and try to overpower him. Very difficult without a weapon unless you are well trained or physically larger/stronger. The end result might be the same, or you might survive your injuries or even escape unharmed. Personally, I’d prefer to go down fighting.

Recently, [Aurora victim Jessica] Ghawi survived the June 2 Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital.

There are those saying if we had tougher gun laws in the US and banned “assault rifles”, handguns, and severely restricted gun ownership that tragedies like this wouldn’t happen. Yet Ghawi, who was killed in the attack, was unlucky enough to be present at another mass shooting in Canada, where the gun control movement has met many of their goals. Gun control laws don’t stop madmen like this, they only ensure a safe working environment for the killers.

Response of gun grabbers to Dark Knight shooting as predictable as it is wrong

It is inevitable that every tragedy involving a firearm will lead to an attempt by some to broaden gun control and disarm people who didn’t commit the crime. As soon as I heard about the tragic shooting at the Aurora movie theater screening “The Dark Knight Rises” I knew that this would be no exception.

Information is still coming in and the currently known facts of the case will likely change, but most reports indicate that soon after the movie began showing, a little after midnight, James Holmes, a 24-year-old doctoral student in neuroscience, opened fire in the crowded movie theater. Reports also claim that he detonated at least one device releasing tear gas, pepper spray, or smoke and that he was clothed in body armor. He had at least four guns including a shotgun, rifle, and multiple handguns. Some witnesses say he reloaded during the attack, others claim he did not.

How much traction it gains remains to be seen, but you can expect some attempt to revive the failed “Assault Weapons Ban” from the nineties. Since Holmes allegedly used an AR-15, aka an “evil black rifle” this will be Exhibit A for creating a new ban. It does not matter that only cosmetics make these rifles different from common deer rifles, except that deer rifles are more powerful.

Shotguns are too popular to be subject to a complete ban, but it has long been a dream of the gun ban movement to ban semi-automatic shotguns so they may make the attempt there. Regardless of the capacity of the magazines used in the pistols, there will be an attempt to ban “high-capacity” magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

There will likely also be an attempt to expand the locations where guns are banned to include theaters and any other place where large numbers of people congregate despite the fact that the Cinemark theater already bans guns on the premises.

There may also be efforts to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms. Much has already been made of the fact that Holmes was able to buy these four guns over a period of several months, though the length of time would have negated two of the gun grabbers favorite throttles: one-gun-a-month schemes and mandatory waiting periods.

Of course, reality doesn’t come into play when attempting to further the agenda of the gun control movement. It doesn’t matter that none of these measures would have stopped Holmes, they only need the argument that they might stop someone else in the future. And if law abiding citizens lose gun rights in the process, all the better.

Protecting against home invasion

There have been several stories in the news lately regarding home invasions. A home invasion occurs when whether intentionally or unintentionally a criminal enters your home while you are present; as opposed to a burglary where they do so when the house is empty.

Many times during accidental home invasions the criminal is not expecting to encounter anyone and will quickly flee when confronted. Intentional home invasions are much more dangerous as the criminal is expecting to confront someone (or is at least prepared for the possibility should they attempt a theft at night without waking the occupants) and will already have a plan for dealing with the residents. This may be as simple as threatening them with a weapon, restraining them, forcing them to assist with the robbery by leading the criminal to valuables or the confrontation could lead to rape or murder.

One such home invasion occurred in Elyria, Ohio in the morning of Thursday, January 5th. According to her account, she was in bed watching television when she heard a suspicious noise. She armed herself and was creeping down the stairs when a 31 year old drug addict kicked down her door and entered her home. She kept yelling for him to stop and when he succeeded in getting inside she fired three shots at him and he fled before later being arrested.

Since a neighbor reported hearing him yell “Oh My God!” as he ran away, it is likely he expected nobody to be home; or at the least not an armed response. The man was suspected to have broken in several weeks earlier when the woman’s daughter and granddaughter were home but they stayed upstairs and did not encouter the robber.

This is contrasted with another incident in Elyria on the same day. This time, the resident woke up to find a man with a gun in his bedroom. The robber forced the man to help him load up two garbage bags full of loot before escaping. Since this victim was taken by surprise while sleeping, being armed might not have led to a better outcome.

In both of these cases, there would have been warning if the resident had an alarm system. Even if you can’t afford a monitored service, an inexpensive stand-alone system can sound an audio alert to warn you of intrusion and possibly even cause the criminal to flee without a confrontation. At the very least it will give you more warning that awaking to find the intruder already in your bedroom giving you time to arm yourself and possibly lock your bedroom door or get to your children.

A common thing a criminal will try is to see if your doors or windows are unlocked to allow for easy entry. To prevent this, you should keep your doors and windows locked whenever practical, even if you are home.

Another frequent ploy is for the home invader to summon the victim to the door and press an attack when the door is opened. The best defense against this is to not open the door to someone you don’t know to keep a physical barrier between you. A door chain can be of use here if it is of high quality and properly installed so a simple push won’t break it. Likewise a good, solid door can help keep an intruder at bay.

Not only should you have a strong door at all entrances to your home, but having a good door and strong locks on your bedroom can allow you to use it as a safe room. Losing your possessions is much preferable to losing your life or becoming seriously injured.

Arming yourself before answering the door can also be an option, though a sudden rush by the invader can render you unable to bring your weapon into play. If there is more than one person home it might be better to arm the second person instead. If attacked, the first person can create separation either by running, shoving the attacker, or going to the ground allowing the second person to enact an armed response.

In addition to an alarm, there are several other things you can do to make your home a less attractive target. Keeping shrubbery trimmed back can prevent an attacker from hiding himself or an accomplice. A well-lit exterior, particularly with motion activated lights, can help make the criminal less comfortable. Owning a dog, particularly a large one, can be a strong deterrent.

One dangerous situation that can occur is surprising a burglar when you come home. Always be aware of your surroundings so you can take notice if things seem out of place or there are signs of forced entry. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when you enter your home, either. Glance around for things to be out of place and you also might catch a glimpse of the invader. If you do see someone as you enter, get out immediately. Even if armed you do not want the risk of confronting a possibly armed criminal. Discretion is definitely the better part of valor.

If you do manage to successfully enact an armed response you should attempt to verbally repel the intruder before firing if safe to do so. Most criminals will take an available escape route which is preferable to needing to win a gunfight or risk a round from your gun striking a neighbor or passerby. Attempting to apprehend the intruder can be dangerous as well, giving him opportunity to counter attack or forcing an accomplice to attempt a rescue.

These are just a few suggestions to help protect yourself against a home invasion. There is a lot of good information on the internet, and the NRA offers several good courses covering these topics including Refuse to Be a Victim and Personal Protection in the Home.