Mixed Messages

On the one hand, I do believe that rehabilitation makes sense; once most people get out of their 20s and 30s, the small-brain hormonal impulsiveness behind a fair portion of crime starts to fade just a bit, and long-term prisoners need something to replace that part of their lives with.

So the prison college program hignlighted on NPR earlier this week would seem to make some sense.

On the other hand, the sound bite of one of the classes:

Professor Delia Mellis teaches a modern U.S. history class and, when I arrive, 18 men dressed in green jumpsuits are discussing sexual identity politics.

“I don’t think he’s saying that; I think he’s making a distinction between it being gay acts — homosexual acts — and it being a gay identity,” one student interjects.

Mellis responds, “That’s absolutely his central idea, right?”


…makes it clear that retribution and revenge would seem to be part of the goal, still.

Too Good To Get Overly Concerned About Accuracy

The details of the story don’t entirely pass the sniff test – it’s from “fake news” leader the Huffington Post – but I’ll confess, I want it to be true:

Fast-food lovers are likely in awe over the sheer badassery of a 13-year-old girl who reportedly smacked down a gun held by a boy demanding she give him a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget.

The girl told police that her 12-year-old schoolmate first asked her for a McNugget inside McDonald’s in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood on Tuesday, the New York Daily News reports. When she declined, he allegedly followed her to a subway station, whipped out the weapon and held it to her head.

Even at gunpoint, the teen refused to hand over even one lump of breaded chicken paste, police said. The NYPD told the Daily News she knocked the gun away from the boy and told him to leave her alone.

One things for sure – that girl’s going to be a Republican someday; either she’s a badass or, like other Republicans in New York, she probably doesn’t exist.

Open Season

Ever thing you’d see the day I’d agree with John Choi’s office about…well, much of anything?

Mazel tov.  Here we go.

Choi’s office responded to Saint Anthony PD officer Geronimo Yanez’s attorneys’ motions to dismiss the charges stemming from the shooting of Philando Castile last summer.   The motion cites the claims that Castile – a carry permittee – wasn’t complying with Yanez’ commands during the traffic stop, and that as traces of THC were found in his bloodstream at autopsy, he simply must have lied on his carry permit application.

The response:

The memo from prosecutors asks Ramsey County District Judge William Leary to deny the defense’s motion to dismiss.

“Probable cause adequately supports the charges (in this case).  Any potential negligence by Castile is a question of fact for the jury,” according to the memo.

Prosecutors further stated that Minnesota courts have “repeatedly affirmed” criminal convictions where negligence on the part of the victim was in play. They also said the defense couldn’t prove Castile was using illegal drugs when he applied for his permit to carry his gun because that application was submitted more than a year before the shooting.

Additionally, even if Castile didn’t have a permit to carry, Yanez’s decision to shoot him seven times still would have been reckless, according to prosecutors.

“A police officer does not have the right to kill someone just because they possess a firearm they may or may not be entitled to have” prosecutors said in the memo.

The memo also questions the defense attorney’s clairvoyance in deducing that Castile was using marijuana when he applied for his permit – certainly a difficult claim to prove without use of Dionne Warwick’s friends.

Kudos to Choi’s office for refraining from gratuitously putting carry permittees at grave risk for no good reason.

A Good Guy With A Gun: Fort Myers Edition

In an incident overnight, a law-abiding citizen with a carry permit shot and killed a man who was pummeling the stuffing out of a sheriff’s deputy in Estero, Florida, near Fort Myer:

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office told local news media that the deputy who was involved, 12-year veteran Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, is expected to be okay. The suspect who was fighting with the deputy was killed during the struggle and WINK is reporting that a passerby is the one who shot him.

“The passerby, who had a Concealed Weapons License, exited his vehicle and instructed the suspect to stop beating the deputy…after noncompliance from the suspect, the passerby shot the suspect three times,”  sources said.

Local TV news report below the jump (since it launches automatically).

Continue reading


I’ve said for some time now that there have been two reasons I could get behind Trump; his SCOTUS picks, and his stance on healthcare.

And now there’s a third:

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump — who said he has a concealed carry permit — called for the expansion of gun rights Friday, including making those permits applicable nationwide. In a position paper published on his website Friday afternoon, Trump called for the elimination of gun and magazine bans, labeling them a “total failure.”

“Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own,” Trump wrote.

And he brings some fairly ineluctible logic to the argument:

The permits, which are issued by states, should be valid nationwide like a driver’s license, Trump said. “If we can do that for driving — which is a privilege, not a right — then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege,” Trump said.

It may be political red meat to keep his base whipped up.



Joe Doakes from Como Park emailed about this story:

Two thoughts:

One, prohibition doesn’t work.  Not even in prison.  People will get what they want, somehow.  Gun controllers, take note.

Two, dead men tell no tales and they also buy no cocaine. There’s always a trade-off, in every policy choice.

joe doakes

Today’s debate:  “Divulge details about HIllary, or stay alive?”

We’re #25!

24/7 Wall Street calls Minneapolis the 25th most dangerous city in the US, based on FBI stats:

Minneapolis landed on the 25th spot on the list, with a violent crime rate of 1,063 incidents per 100,000 residents. The website noted that robbery is especially common in Minneapolis, with 459 reported incidents per 100,000 residents – the 10th highest robbery rate in the nation.

The story – from WCCO – notes that despite the city’s nominally low unemployment, that…:

…the city has struggled with stark racial disparities, with people of color, particularly blacks, making less money, having lower home ownership rates and higher unemployment rates.

Right – fully a third of Minnesota’s murders, for the whole state, in the past year occurred on the North Side, which has a neighborhood murder rate of 100/100,000.  Which is, quite frankly, catastrophic.

But chalking up the murder rate to income, home ownership rates and unemployment is an evasion of responsibility; as PJ O’Rourke once said, “if you took away his bank account, it’s not like you’d find Thurgood Marshall selling crack at Union Station the next day”.

Is the crime rate in Minneapolis (the article painstakingly avoids mentioning the North Side) a result of poverty, or is the poverty a result of the crime and cultural breakdown?


Shocked. Shocked, I Tell You.

I held off talking and writing about the Cascade Mall shooting on Friday, where a man the media immediately and hopefully desdribed as “Hispanic-looking” killed five at a Macy’s.

LIke any good Mitch Berg, I observed Berg’s 18th Law (“Nothing the media writes/says about any emotionally charged event – a mass shooting, a police shooting, anything – should be taken seriously for 48 hours after the original incident.  It will largely be rubbish, as media outlets vie to “scoop” each other even on incorrect facts.”), believing with sickening certainty that the shooter would be a Muslim with extremist sympathies, and believing in a somewhat more sarcastic vein that the shooter would be a Democrat.

And while we’re still technically under the boundaries of Berg’s Law, I just have to say;  Check:

A suspect in a mass shooting at a Washington state mall is arrested in Oak Harbor, Wash. (Twitter/Gerry Oliver)

Island County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hawley told reporters that he spotted Cetin near the suspect’s home in Oak Harbor, around 30 miles due west of the mall. Hawley said he immediately recognized Cetin as the suspect, turned his patrol car around and arrested Cetin without incident.

Arlan Cetin is an immigrant from Turkey.   While I may be a deplorable conservative, I do know Turkey is not “Hispanic”.

And although it’s premature to make the jump, the FBI is not ruling out terrorism.

And, er, check on the third point:

I’ll insert the usual disclaimers:  the vast majority of Muslim immigrants are perfectly fine people and good Americans.

Hillary voters, on the other hand…


Workplace Violence

Three different cases of workplace violence in America today; first, a bombing attempt on a charity 5K run on the Jersey Shore which went off just before the race got there, followed by a dumpster explosion in Manhattan that injured 29, followed in turn by a mass stabbing at the Crossroads Mall in Saint Cloud, Minnesota that ended with the death of the as-yet-unnamed perp (Saint Cloud Times coverage).

Remember – while Berg’s 18th Law of Media Latency (“Nothing the media writes/says about any emotionally charged event – a mass shooting, a police shooting, anything – should be taken seriously for 48 hours after the original incident.  It will largely be rubbish, as media outlets vie to “scoop” each other even on incorrect facts”) applies mostly to mass-shootings, it applies to any attention-grabbing episode.

Only one thing is for certain; the media will do its best to try to find a conservative to blame until it is absolutely impossible.

More as details become available.

UPDATE:  I’m sure this is just a dirty stinking lie foisted on the people by the Trumpkins:

…in the heartland, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the police chief said the attacker at theCrossroads Center Shopping Mall “made some references to Allah, and we have confirmed that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them. We do know there were approximately eight people transported to the St. Cloud Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. The suspect was confronted by an off duty police officer and summarily shot and killed….no customers were killed.”

I betcha it’s a pro-lifer.


The Right Profile

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When Jacob went missing, Democrat Governor Rudy Perpich called out the National Guard to search for him.  No other kid gets that kind of treatment – Amber alerts hadn’t even been invented.  Why that kid?

 Because Patty Wetterling was connected. And she’s stayed connected – and in the spotlight – for all these years.  Now we’re supposed to leave our porch lights on for her.

 She suffered a terrible loss, no doubt about it.  But what about all the other moms who didn’t get celebrity media treatment?  100 kids a year go missing in stranger abductions.  They don’t have foundations.  They don’t have media coverage.  They’re not connected.  Nobody remembers them.

 I’m not objecting to the compassion shown to Patty Wetterling.  I’m objecting to the lack of compassion shown to everybody else who isn’t as politically connected.  Once again, there are rules for politically connected Democrats, and different rules for the rest of us.  That’s awful.

 Joe Doakes

It wasn’t two years after Wetterling’s disappearance – and three weeks after the birth of my own daughter – that Margaret Marques disappeared.  She was kidnapped, molested and murdered by a store clerk who is, God willing, the bitch of a very lonely sadist in prison.  The Minneapolis Police did a capable job of catching the scumbag; but the eight year old daughter of immigrants passed from the news fairly quickly.

This isn’t to take anything away from the work the Wetterling foundation has done and still does, to minimize or politicize their tragic loss – Joe Soucheray is right, we do owe the Wetterlings something – or to wish anything but a very very different background had befallen Jacob and his family.

But would the family have gotten the kind of leverage they did if they were just a regular bunch of central Minnesota schlubs?

Number Six

With the tragic resolution of the Wetterling case, we’re starting to see the inevitable flurry of calls for the return of the death penalty to Minnesota; it’s the same flurry we see after every grisly, heart-wrenching crime.

I’ve said it before; I support the death penalty for every reason but one.  And it is, unfortunately, an absolutely dispositive reason.

We’ll come back to that.

Walter Hudson, in PJM, attempts to debunk the five most common conservative objections to the death penalty.  I’ll list ’em; you can read ’em yourself:

  1. Government can’t be trusted
  2. Death is not an adequate punishment
  3. It’s cheaper to keep them alive
  4. Death is not a deterrent
  5. Life is precious.

And he does a good job with those five arguments.

But he – like Dennis Prager before him  – misses a sixth argument; the inevitability of executing innocent people.

Executing someone who was innocent of the crime for which they were condemned is the ultimate moral crime, presuming it’s avoidable.  And it is 100% avoidable; life in Supermax (from which nobody has ever escaped) is both absolute and, when an error is inevitably discovered, reversible.

Of course there are cases like Heinrich and Dahmer that are easy slam dunks. It’s the difficult cases, with circumstantial evidence and lots of moving parts, that make it difficult. Ignore them at your peril.

Now, to be fair Walter obliquely alludes to this in his first point about government incompetence:

Why have government at all? If they can’t get anything right, why trust them with any of it? This is silly. If people are being wrongly convicted, let’s stop that! We don’t fix that problem by nerfing sentences.

Walter states this as an “if”.  It’s not.

And it’s not just about government incompetence; there’s human nature, and even the foibles of “settled science”  as well.  For example, it‘s a dead lock that Cameron Todd Willingham was executed wrongly for the arson murder of his two kids – not because government was incompetent, but because it very competently prosecuted Willingham based on science that turned out to be completely erroneous.   Everyone knew that Arson science was “settled” when Willingham was convicted “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  Today, everyone knows that the old science was complete twaddle.

Now – go through the records of people who were convicted based on “hair strand analysis”, which was considered as solid as DNA in the sixties through the eighties, and is regarded as little better than phrenology these days.

Think about it.

Given the emotional, financal, political and legal realities of death penalty cases – they’re extremely emotionally charged, evidence is frequently circumstantial, the political benefits of executing people are large, the public defender budgets are small – it is inevitable that corners will be cut.

Next, Walter commits what I consider “taking a moral shortcut” – the old “wouldn’t you rather be  dead than in jail if you’re innocent?” question, which you’ll note is only asked by people who aren’t facing the business end of a needle, rightly or wrongly:

How is it better for someone to be falsely convicted to a life sentence than to be falsely convicted to a death sentence?Either way, it’s a false conviction. Are we to regard the world as a better place because an innocent person might spend his life in prison rather than be executed? Is that really the standard?

Yes.  It is standard, and a very good one.  The world is a better place, because an innocent person who might have been dead is still alive, still protesting his or her innocence, still has a chance to right the wrong against them – and all of us.

How about we focus on minimizing mistakes? How about we focus on making sound convictions?

Sure – let’s!

Except “mistakes”, incompetence, hubris, corruption, bad science, and just plain human error – are always with us.  Thinking we can just think them out of existence is magical thinking.  Appeals to magical thinking are appealing responses to ethical conundrums – like saying “how about we make cars perfectly safe before we build more roads”.  But innocent people have been, and inescapably still are, on death row today – because of bogus evidence (do you have any idea how many death sentences are based on evidence from jailhouse snitches looking for better deals?), or crummy defense, or unscrupulous prosecutors, or even good prosecutions in good faith based on evidence derived from science that turns out wrong, as in Willingham’s case.

So sure – let’s focus on making sound convictions.   But let’s not pretend that that’s an answer to mistaken executions, or that it’s a question that can be answered.

That seems like a much better plan than settling for a world where innocent people spend their remaining years in hell, and guilty people don’t get what they deserve.

Over 150 people have been released from death row in the past 43 years. Not given new trials – released from Death Row to the streets because they didn’t commit the crimes for which they were condemned.

I’ve heard of none of them bemoaning the fact that they’re alive rather than dead.

There are dozens of flimsy arguments against the death penalty, and many good arguments for it…

…and one argument against it.  And that argument is all it takes.


Danny Heinrichs’ allocution on Tuesday puts a horrific, dismal, banally evil period on the Jacob Wetterling story.

US Attorney Andy Lugar’s plea deal – Heinrich confessed to a  child porn charge in exchange for no charge for Wetternling’s murder – is both absurd and utterly understandable; better to close the case and put the monster away for 20 years than leave the Wetterlings, and much of the state, in suspended animation forever.

I’m not happy – but then it’s not about me.  And there’s always the hope that he’ll accidentally swerve into General Population and get torn into long, thin strips.

One can hope.

For The Kids – I was driving to North Dakota with my fiance and soon-to-be stepson in October of 1990.    There was a muffled “boom”, and one of the tires on my 1984 Honda Accord flew apart like a Walmart end table in a gorilla cage.  I put on my donut spare and limped to the next freeway exit – Saint Joseph.

And as the town approached the first anniversary of the kidnapping, the place seemed to be plastered with posters, looking for any information anyone could find about Wetterling.

And it occurred to me – it was a terrible time to have children in Minnesota.

The late eighties and early nineties saw a slew of horrific kidnappings in the upper midwest;  Jeana North in Fargo; another young girl murdered by a revolting fat pig at a second-hand store in Northeast Minneapolis, another girl in Inver Grove Heights killed by a mom who was in the process of losing her boyfriend, a few more here and there.  Unlike Wetterling, most of the cases were solved fairly quickly.   Most involved relatives, or people known to the family.

And if we’d have found Danny Heinrich that day, I’d have happily peeled his skin off with a buck knife while he screamed vainly for mercy that’d never come.  Because while the phrase “we lost our innocence” is one of the most hackneyed-unto-meaninglessness phrases in the language these days, it certainly applied.

Because as I embarked on raising a stepson, and sooner than later a daughter and son of my own, we all got the pleasure of trying to teach kids, right in the middle of their innocent, wonderful early years, some ineluctible tactical calculus that is hard for adults to absorb.

If a stranger asks you to come with them, don’t.  Especially if they tell you we sent them.  We’ll never do that.

If a stranger pulls a knife or a gun and tells you to get in the car?  Run.   Don’t even think; run.  They probably won’t shoot – it’ll alert people.  And even if they do?  Moving targets are much harder to hit – and your odds, even as a kid, of surviving a knife or gunshot wound are much better than of coming home from a “secondary crime scene” alive.

If you hear gunfire at school, get away; do not get cooped up in a “locked down” classroom, like a pen full of sheep waiting for the abattoir to come to them.  Get out.  Go over the teacher, go out the window, do what it takes.  A moving target is harder to hit than one on its knees begging for mercy.

Oh, yeah – make lots of noise.  Make an ungodly racket – yell “Rape” and “Kidnapping”; even the most cynical urban adults should response to that – right?  We’ll come back to that.

Having to bring that into my kids’ lives?  Here’s hoping Satan spends all eternity ass-raping Danny Heinrich.  God may forgive.  I’m not there yet.

If It Saves One Life – Minnesota in 1989 was a much more pervert-friendly place than it is today.

Three boys biking on a dead-end road after dark, far from any adults, were a tragically easy target for a motivated pervert, of course.  Everything that could go wrong for those boys, pretty much did.

But a scream reaching an adult in 1989 had an almost zero percent chance of bringing an adult who could do anything more than hope to get a license plate, and shake their fists in misplaced comic fury.

Stranger kidnappings have always been rare – and while I don’t have the stats handy, they seem like they’ve gotten rarer, if only because the media hammers on them so hard when they do happen, and I’ve seen fewer stories.  It’s not scientific…

…but in places like Saint Joseph today, one adult in twenty has the means to respond to a screaming child and an armed adult in in the middle of the act in a more-than-symbolic way.  And you have to figure at least some of the perverts know it.

Believe it or don’t – I don’t care.  Although at least one life has been saved.

I, Stick – I read Patty Wetterling’s injunction to the media and her well-wishers – go forth, hug your kids, feel joy.  It was inspiring and beautiful in its way.

But to every useful, meaningful carrot there must be a stick.   Kids who are on guard for the unthinkable, even during a time of their lives when it should be and stay unthinkable; adults who shake off the ennui of modern life and stay aware of the situation around them; the wisdom to ski the moral slalom between vigilance, judgmentalism, and concern when seeing the signs in their fellow adults that might be nothing, or might be warnings.

And we have to do all that without destroying our childrens’ childhoods – among the most important things this world offers anyone.

[Note:  I debated closing comments for this post.  I will in fact leave them open – but any comment I deem moronic and flatulently self-entitled will be either deleted without ceremony or held up for especial mockery, depending on my mood. And my mood is not good.  Be warned]

Defining “Crime” Down

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“That means minor crimes that take place at school, such as trespassing, truancy, theft and drug use, she said, would be “dealt with more appropriately in other ways” that don’t involve arrest and prosecution.”

All crimes?  Or only crimes committed by Students Whose Lives Matter, to make the statistics come out better?

What a rude shock when you leave school and find out there are laws in place and people expect you to follow them. Thugs will encounter kindler, gentler police when police encounter kindler, gentler thugs.  Until then . . . .

I’ll differ with Joe in degree, here; we do have too many arrestable crimes in this country.  Truancy?  Marijuana possession?  Minor driving offenses?  Please.



  Joe Doakes

But Was It A Rapid Fire Assault Knife?

15 dead (so far) at a handicapped group home in Sagamihara, Japan:

Police arrested a man, age 26, after he turned himself at a police station in the city of Sagamihara, west of Tokyo, shortly after 3 a.m., broadcaster NHK reported.  Police said they received a call from an employee of the facility saying a man wielding a knife broke into the building, NHK said.
Police said the suspect told them he was a former employee of the center, according to the broadcaster.

I’m going to guess he was also a white Christian conservative NRA member.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I was glad to see the City talking about Third Degree Riot charges – unlawful assembly including violence.  About time.

 But the violence people were out-of-towners!  We’re not responsible for them.

 Yes, you are.  A group of people who voluntarily come together for the purpose of committing a crime is a criminal conspiracy.  Walking on the freeway is a crime. Every member of the conspiracy should be equally liable for whatever additional crimes are committed during their intended criminal act.

 Don’t want to be liable for the crimes of your fellow gang members, don’t accompany the gang to the rumble.

 Joe Doakes

When the unintended consequences are pretty much intended, they’re not…well…you know.

Memories And Memory Holes

Do you remember when the left and mainstream media tried to tie Sarah Palin to Jared Loughner’s spree killing in Tuscon, which wounded Gabby Gifford (and killed a bunch of people the media don’t care about) because she’d completely innocently used “crosshairs” on a map?

Of course you do.

Do you remember when Al Sharpton told people to kill cops in as many words?

Speaking of memory holes:  it’s been five days since the slaughter in Dallas.  By this point in most recent mass-killings, we has a lot of detail about the killers; Holmes, Mateen, Loughner, Lanza, Harris and Klebold, Cho, even Hassan.   And we’d had detailed dissections of the firearms they’d used – because those were the real enemies, natch.

And yet a cursory examination shows very little interest, it seems, in Micah Jackson’s past, and very little scrutiny about his SKS rifle.

We don’t know the details, and that means you or me.  But if someone wanted to bet me $100 that the silence was because Jackson was a known “progressive” activist, and the SKS was an utterly unmodified, thoroughly plain-jane rifle, I wouldn’t take the bet.

Keep Those Lines Blurry

I’m going to share a little secret, just between the two of us; I always get nervous, during gun control debates, when the topic turns to the technicalities of different types of guns.

Don’t get me wrong; illiteracy about guns is one of the things that gun controllers exploit to ram down their factually-vacant, emotion-laden “points”.  When the vast majority of people, and even some shooters, don’t know the difference between an “assault rifle” (an intermediate-caliber (less powerful cartridge than a rifle!) selective-fire long arm) and an “assault weapon” (a set of fluid cosmetic characteristics that have nothing to do with lethality), it’s impossible to have a literate debate.

Which, to gun controllers, is a feature, not a bug.

But this reared its head in an illuminating way in the Dallas shooting.

Exactly as predicted by Berg’s Eighteenth Law of Media Latency, the media got everything wrong about the Dallas shootings for the first 24-48 hours.  It was not a group of men “triangulating” their prey – it was one guy, Micah Jackson.

And he was not shooting the official boogeyman (also: only gun most media people can name, other than “Glock”), the AR15.

There are many configurations of AR15.

He was in fact shooting an “SKS” – a World War II-vintage Russian design.

It’s as rugged as any other Russian design; it’s bone simple to maintain; it’s just about the least-expensive military-grade rifle available on the legal market in America (still widely available for under $350; a few years ago, they were around $100 apiece).  It’s become an incredibly popular hunting firearm.

And, since “big magazines” are the boogeyman-du-jour, it holds ten rounds, in a non-detachable magazine, in its unmodified form.

Some gun-rights supporters jumped on this, to note that this, in and of itself, invalidates the “assault weapons” debate entirely.

It does – but not in the way the pro-gunners think it does.

Because while the SKS isn’t a modern, utterly modular design that can be rebuilt in a nearly infinite variety of permutations like the AR, it is the basis for some ingenuity.  There are parts on the aftermarket to turn an SKS into a poor man’s AK47:

This, too, is an SKS – with aftermarket adjustable stock, replacement magazine well that uses AK47 magazines, and an aftermarket forearm with an accessory rail holding the foregrip and bipod, this “tacti-cool” SKS is not one degree behind the fashion curve.

Now, while parts of the media are announcing that Jackson used an SKS (after frantically learning how to spell it), not a single outlet (as this is written) has shown a picture of the murder weapon.

Maybe they don’t have it.

And maybe they do, but it resembles the first SKS – a humble, unadorned, vaguely antique-looking rifle that looks like an awkwardly-designed hunting rifle.

My point:  like the AR, almost any rifle can be modified into an almost-unrecognizable form.

There are, as we’ve seen above, SKSes that metamorphose from awkward, boxy antiques to menacing-looking Hollywood specials.

And there are AR15s that are modified to look and function little differently than Grandpa’s hunting rifle:

Wood furniture, ten round magazine. That’s not threatening, is it?

Even better example:  the Lee Enfield Mark1 “SMLE” was the standard rifle of the British army from the early 1900s to the late 1950s.

An “SMLE” Enfield that served in both World Wars, and quite possibly well beyond. It looks like a hunting rifle, because these days it is.

It looks like a hunting rifle – and indeed it was, and is, used as one in vast numbers in the US (although the ammunition is hideously expensive; $2 a around.  Ask me how I know).

Early in World War 2, when the British Army had left most of its equipment in France, there wasn’t enough production capacity to build enough machine guns to equip the Australian and New Zealand armies.   An Australian officer invented a Rube Goldberg-esque contraption based on an Enfield that turned it into a light machine gun:

Yep – it’s a Lee Enfield rifle, with a bunch of home-made parts bolted on, turning it into a machine gun.

The real point being, cosmetic and even technical definitions of firearms are virtually meaningless in the long run; even under Nazi occupation, machinists built fully-automatic submachine guns in machine shops for the various resistance movements (the “NRA” of their day, in the various Nazi-occupied countries).

One of these two was built in Enfield, England. One was built in a machine shop somewhere in occupied Poland. Take a moment and guess which is which.

No, cosmetics, and even abstruse technical terminology, has absolutely nothing on the motivation and, sometimes, ingenuity, of the person doing the shooting.   Some, like the Polish guerrillas and the Australian Army, use those motivations and ingenuity for good (or “as good as we can get”, anyway).

Micah Jackson’s technology was more or less irrelevant; he could have committed precisely the same mayhem with any number of common hunting rifles.  Maybe more.

Falcon Heights And Dallas

I’m going to take a moment to cite Berg’s Eighteenth Law of Media Latency:  “Nothing the media writes/says about any emotionally charged event – a mass shooting, a police shooting, anything – should be taken seriously for 48 hours after the original incident.  It will largely be rubbish, as media outlets vie to “scoop” each other even on incorrect facts.

Yesterday was a pretty crappy day for everyone – except the “let’s force everyone to one extreme or the other, for easier framing” community.

We’ll come back to that.

First, let’s talk about Falcon Heights.

On Edge:  Watch this video:

Kinda scary, huh?

Kinda makes you want to curl up in an armored coccoon, doesn’t it?

Sources in law enforcement tell me that this video is shown to most new police recruits on or about their first day of training, these days.

Not a video of a cop settling a dispute between errant neigbhors.

Not a video of a cop catching a sex trafficker (let’s assume they’re real, while we’re up).

Not one of a cop setting a young stalker straight before he seriously screws up his life.

No – the impression that police departments start their rookies off with is that “any situation you’re in, any contact you make, anything you do and anything you don’t do, can end up with you being gunned down like Old Yeller by the side of the road.  Be careful out there.

What message does this send to new cops?  “There are two kinds of people out there; people in badges, and people who might kill people in badges.  Be careful out there”.    It’s a sort of siege mentality.

We’ll come back to that.

Take a little siege mentality.  Add in what may have been really poor training; the Saint Anthony Police Department has come in for some criticism even before Wednesday’s events.

Part of that poor training, perhaps?   In carry permit training, students (of all races) are warned; handling cops if you get pulled over is one of the most dangerous parts of having a carry permit.  All cops get cautious when the “g” word comes up; some of them go way beyond (notwithstanding the fact that carry permittees are a couple orders of magnitude less likely to shoot anyone, much less a cop, than the general public).  If it turns out Castile was a carry permit holder, and he was (as his girlfriend pointed out in the video she shot from the scene) reaching for his permit as most people are taught in their carry permit training, then at least one cop needed some better training on that subject.

Was Castile the victim of racism?  Perhaps.  Although the herd consensus that there’s an epidemic of racist cops killing black people is not exactly statistically clear-cut, much less unanimous.   All shootings, including those involving the police, are complicated.

So on the one hand, you have a police force that operates from a basis of “force protection”, rather than “protecting and serving the community” – more of a military than civil concept – and a community with some serious beefs over how that works in the community, at a time when racial tensions are the highest they’ve been in fifty years (thanks, President Obama, for all that racial healing), in a state where the dominant political establishment is politically tied to both the police unions and the non-profit “social justice” sector”.

Sound like it’ll be hard to unravel?  You’re probably right.

Dallas:  And any chance of unraveling that first Gordian Knot got blown away in a fusillade of sniper fire last night in Dallas.

I can’t begin to comment; Berg’s Eighteenth Law applies to me, too.

More on the show tomorrow.

Fraud Alert

Lately, the anti-gunners have been quoting “Shootingtracker.com” as a “source” in claiming that “there’s a mass shooting ever day in the US”.

Of course, “mass shootings” – a shooting in which four or more people are killed or injured, no matter what the motivation of the shooter/s, is not the same as a “spree killing” or “rampage killing”; most “mass shootings” involve shootings that are offshoots of other crimes; robberies, gang activity and the like.

Spree killings – like Orlando, San Bernardino, Red Lake, Tuscon, Columbine, Virginia Tech and the like – have “murdering people at random”, or “targeting a specific group” (gays, Jews, Americans, the military) as the sole goal of the episode (along, sometimes, with political terrorism).

Anyway – I had a hunch about the site.  So I checked it out.

Sure enough – the shooting I wrote about last week, in South Carolina, where a citizen with a carry permit shot and wounded a man who’d shot and injured three others at a bar, ending what could have been a much bigger, much uglier crime?

Sure enough.  They counted it.

How much you wanna bet “Protect” MN calls this “just another mass shooting” as a result?

The Terrible Hours

You’re in a room.

Between you and the exit – any exit – is someone who is busily killing people.  So you’re not going anywhere.  Probably not, anyway.

You’re in the midst of a spree killing – sometimes called a rampage killing.  You’re surrounded by crowds of people, as someone – one person, most likely – is carrying out some deluded or diabolical plan to kill…

…well, lots of people.  Maybe you’re in a gay bar, and the killer’s faith hates gays.  Maybe you’re in a synogogue, and the killer hates Jews.  Maybe you’re in a classroom, and the killer hates classrooms?  Or you’re in a church basement, and the killer hates you, whether you be Episcopal or Black or Unitarian.  Maybe it’s just because you’re a westerner, and they’re there to make a point, and inflict terror upon the rest of us westerners.   Or maybe they’re just doing the bidding of the voices in their head.

Either way, here you are.  When you woke up this morning, you didn’t expect to be involved in a spree killing.  Only one person in the room did.

You’re not him.

But there’s no getting around it.  And barring some miracle, there’s no getting away from it;  There are two exits from the space you’re in – but the shooter can see both, and has been mowing down anyone trying to get to the exits for quite some time.  Once, he stopped to reload, and someone rushed him with the only weapon he had available, his bare hands and shoed feet; perhaps he didn’t realize one can reload with a round in the chamber; that bit of resistance, valiant as it was, ended with a body on the floor.

Seeing someone shot down trying to attack the attacker took the fight out of the rest of the people in the room with you.

You may be dimly aware that the room you’re in is a “gun free zone” – an irony that causes not a single laugh.   You’re probably not aware; you may be like most Americans, and have never considered making carrying a firearm part of your lifestyle.  You might have even been one of that tiny, dim little fraction of the population that thought those signs made you safer.

But here you are.

The first transcripts of the 911 traffic in and around the Pulse night club have been released.

These are preliminary transcripts – but if they’re even remotely accurate, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to reach a couple of inescapable conclusions.   And it’s not from the mainstream media, so it’s got that going for it.

I’ve included the entire list of transcripts below the jump.

In the opening moments of the massacre, Omar Matteen engaged the cop who was providing off-duty security.  The cop and Matteen exchanged fire; neither was hit, and Matteen retreated into the club, where the massacre continued.

It took six minutes for five or six officers to show up; they broke out a patio window and, armed with “patrol rifles” (it’s a marketing term for “pretty much the same gun Matteen had”, for police departments and city councils that don’t want to have to explain to their dimmer constituents why they’re buying “assault rifles”), entered the building.

And took cover, as the shots continued.

I’m not going to monday-morning-quarterback the cops.  I’d damn sure take cover if someone was in a room, shooting.

Standards and Practices:  At the Columbine massacre, the Jefferson County (CO) SWAT team, nervous about reports of bombs in the building, held up outside the high school for four hours before entering.  By this time, all the victims, and the two killers, were stone cold dead.

This caused some significant outcry at the time; why had the citizens of Jefferson County spent all that money lavishly outfitting a SWAT team to not one degree behind the current SOCOM fashion curve, only to have them turn out no more useful to saving lives than the Jefferson County VFW Drum and Bugle Corps?

And to their credit, law enforcement did some studying.  They found a couple of things about spree/rampage killers:

  • They tend to exist in a fantasy world.  In this fantasy, killing will make them…something. Important.  Martyrs.  Popular.  Something.
  • The planning for the attack tends to be extremely elaborate (by the planner’s standards, anyway).
  • That many rampage killers – not all, but most – carry out their final “mission” in a sort of reverie; this is the culmination of their entire fantasy life.
  • Breaking that reverie – by upsetting the plan, interfering with the fantasy, and “getting inside their decision loop” – is essential in thwarting an attack once it’s underway.
  • The best way to do this – or at least the best way available when prevention has ailed, andonce the shooting starts – is to shoot at the shooter.  And preferably hit him.  But any resistance will do, really.  Because…
  • …once the shooter meets resistance, their reverie usually breaks, and their long-fantasized plans go awry, they usually – not always, but usually – panic; they break off the attack, they give up or, frequently, they kill themselves.  Sometimes it doesn’t work – Matteen kept shooting after he met resistance (I’ll speculate that his terrorist motivations may be part of the reason for this).  Sometimes it works amazingly well; Nick Meli had only to point his gun at Jason Roberts (he checked fire out of worry that he’d hit a bystander), causing Roberts to withdraw into a nearby store and kill himself, still carrying hundreds of unspent rounds.   More according to the theory – Jeanne Assam shot and wounded Matthew Murray inside New Life Christian Center, after he’d already killed two (and two more at an earlier crime scene); Murray withdrew and ended his worthless life.
  • Because of this observation, the convention wisdom among law enforcement became to “get in there and engage active shooters”; rather than wait for SWAT teams and bomb squads to assemble and stage and come up with a plan, individual officers, armed with whatever was in their cars or on their persons – “patrol rifles”, shotguns, handguns – should move toward the shooting, and try to put some lead in and around the shooter.  To seize the initiative, to take control of the narrative.
  • While cops don’t say this in public, of course, it doesn’t really matter if the person putting that fire into and around the shooter has a badge or not; incoming bullets all sound the same. This blog has compiled a sizeable list of mass shooters thwarted by civilians with guns – currently 16 and counting.  From Nick Meli to Dr. Lee Silverman, the list of regular schnooks who’ve thwarted mass shooters is much, much longer than the media and the ignorant (pardon the redundancy) are willing to comprehend, much less admit.

Apparently, though, someone from Orlando didn’t get the memo.  Or, more likely – I’m guessing, here – the SWAT team, in a situation of immense stress and confusion, held off doing anything drastic while they figured out what to do.

When Seconds Count…:  As Bob Owens at Bearing Arms notes, around the point in the transcript where Mateen is reloading his magazines.  I’ll add emphasis:

The terrorist has been killing at will, unimpeded, for 20 minutes, longer than any mass shooting in recent American history [except possibly Columbine – Ed.] (in 1966 Charles Whitman, the University of Texas bell tower sniper was still active 20 minutes into his rampage, but civilians and police were actively firing on his position).  Virginia Tech was over in 12 minutes. Sandy Hook took five.

This terrorist was charging magazines, as the OPD waited and victims bled out on the dance floor and in bathrooms.

He had time to reload (as in “put more bullets in his magazines” – perhaps twice.

“High capacity magazines” were clearly irrelevant to this situation, by the way.  As they were at Virginia Tech, where the shooter used mundane handguns with regular (12-15 round) magazines.

Victims are bleeding out, no longer responding to the dispatchers they called to save their lives.  Other callers, including a nurse who is among the wounded, are warning that victims are losing too much blood.

No one is coming.

No one is coming. 

It isn’t until 38 minutes into the terrorist attack that the now-reloaded shooter calls Orlando PD and announces that he is a Islamic terrorist aligned with the Islamic State.

At this point, a competently trained SWAT command, having learned from the Russian experience at Beslan that terrorists call to “negotiate” only to stall for time and improve their positions to kill more people, should have recognized that the best option for a shooter in a confined space with hostages is to throw in flash-bang grenades and storm in while he was disoriented to take him down.

And yet they didn’t.

Why?  We don’t know, yet.  Maybe we never will.

At the end of the day, a cop wants to go home safe.

Who can blame ’em?

Defense:  Well, I’m no monday-morning quarterback.  If I’m a patrol cop, armed with a rifle I’ve rarely trained on, in a thin kevlar vest that might turn a pistol bullet or shotgun pellet but not a rifle round, going into a dark room full of screaming people, floors slick with blood, and the deafening sound of rifle fire in a confined space booming all around?  I might well take cover, and stay there.  Maybe hiding behind the brick I’d crap.

And the Supreme Court has ruled as much, saying that while it’s police’s job to try to protect you, they’re not really liable if they don’t.

On the other hand: the taxpayers of Orlando, like those of every major city, have spent years and millions outfitting police SWAT teams with all sorts of high-test body armor, flash-bang grenades and other right-with-the-SOCOM-fashion curve hostage rescue goodies, and the exquisitely expensive training that goes with with it (or so one hopes that’s where the money went).

Why did the Orlando SWAT team wait until 5:02AM – three hours after the first 911 call – to breach the wall and go into the club?  Why did it take fifteen more minutes to kill Mateen?    We don’t know.

How many died in those three hours?    Go through the transcript (below he jump), and count the number of people whom callers report expiring to blood loss as they huddled in piles on the dance floor, or to cell phone contacts quietly dropping off the line, leaving nothing but the sounds of gunshots and screaming in the background, as victims slowly bled out.

Go ahead.  Do it.

It sounds like an awful place.  Who can blame the SWAT team for being careful?


You, huddled on the floor and playing dead in the room full of frantic people and a growing toll of wounded, maimed and dead bodies, can blame them.   As the hours tick by, as the blood on the floor gets sticky and dry, as the gunman reloads, kills another handful of people, reloads again and again.

It’s you who won’t be going home.

Could it have been different?   If one other person in the room with you had had the means to react in a meaningful, e.g. life-threatening, way?

Maybe.  There are no guarantees, least of all when bullets are flying.    Who knows – maybe they got hit before they had a chance to draw.  Maybe they’d draw, but get shot first.

Or maybe they’d trade fire with the killer, and lose – but un-nerve the killer, allowing at least a  few people to escape.

Or maybe, just maybe, the citizen with the gun would catch a few lucky breaks; the killer doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head, after all.  A couple of shots to the back while the killer was looking the other way, and suddenly it’s camera crews and yellow tape.

But as the hours drag on, it’s pretty clear – the only help that’s coming is from outside.

Sometime.  Maybe.  Hopefully before you join the dead.

NOTE:  While I intend my comment section as a discussion, and tolerate dissent and cognitive dissonance better than most, be advised; comments I deem stupid will not be deleted; they will be mutilated for my pleasure.  

The judgment of “stupidity” is all mine; it doesn’t mean “disagreement”; just stupidity.  I know it when I see it.

There will be no other warnings.

Continue reading

When People Complain About Donald Trump’s Appeals To Base Nature…

…they really need to get some perspective.

The Philippine president-elect has encouraged the public to help him in his war against crime, urging citizens with guns to shoot and kill drug dealers who resist arrest and fight back in their neighborhoods.

In a nationally televised speech late Saturday, Rodrigo Duterte told a huge crowd in the southern city of Davao that Filipinos who help him battle crime will be rewarded.

“Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun — you have my support,” Duterte said, warning of an extensive illegal drug trade that involves even the country’s police.

If a drug dealer resists arrest or refuses to be brought to a police station and threatens a citizen with a gun or a knife, “you can kill him,” Duterte said. “Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.”

That’s more than a wall.