Independence Day is the holiday when we in the United States of America celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. It is probably the most significant date in our great Nation’s history. I never use the colloquial term ‘Fourth of July’ because I think it dilutes the memory of what the holiday’s meaning is.
We should keep in mind that July 4th is not the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed nor is it the date that the Founding Fathers declared our independence from the British Empire. Rather, it was the date that The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the declaration that had been decided two days earlier on July 2nd. https://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/fourth-of-july/
Something else we should keep in mind is that Independence Day does not commemorate the start of the American Revolution. That was 14 months earlier in April of 1775 when ‘the shot heard around the world’ was fired in Lexington, Massachusetts on the 19th of April. The Battle of Lexington and two days later in Concord were the start of the American Revolution. The Battles were the result of the British Army trying to seize and destroy the Colonists’ cache of arms and ammunition. Whenever politicians try to remove weapons from the populace, it means they have something unpleasant in mind.
In political science, there still is no universally accepted definition of ‘government.’ There are indicators, though; one of the principal criteria being the ‘monopoly of force.’ In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said the object of the Civil War was “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.“ Using the criterion of the monopoly of force, when the people do not possess arms, we might have government OF the people and perhaps, in a benevolent autocracy, FOR the people but certainly not BY the people.
I will be shooting with friends today and I hope you will be, too. The firearm I’ll be using to commemorate the date is a Marlin Model 60, a modern day equivalent of the simple firearms many of the colonists began our Revolution with.
A sidenote about today’s post:
Vet (verify) your sources.
As part of this blog post, I wanted to include the reference to “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. I think the phrase has strong implications in the arena of the controversy of about the Right of the people to keep and bear arms.
The question has arisen as to whether Lincoln actually coined the phrase himself or whether he had another inspiration. Many generally reputable sources claim that Lincoln actually was inspired by the 1397 General Prologue to the Wycliffe1382 Bible translation from Latin to Middle English. Even the Washington Post published this theory in 2017.
A question was whether the original phrasing was ‘The Bible is for the government…’ or ‘This Bible is for the government…’ I wanted to be sure of the wording I was going to quote so I did a little research. However, in looking through several different sources of the General Prologue, I was unable to find anything remotely resembling the phrase. More research uncovered the fact that this has puzzled numerous people and no one is able to find the phrase in any reading of the General Prologue.
So the idea that Lincoln lifted the phrase from somewhere else seems to be pure poppycock that has been repeated for decades without actually being verified. In the days before we had a free and near instantaneous repository of most of the knowledge of human history, this might be forgivable. Now, there’s just no excuse for it.
Don’t be a parrot. Czech your sources. It doesn’t take long and it’s really not that difficult.
FTC note: I bought the Marlin 60 with my own money and receive no compensation for mentioning it.
Phase 1 of the Odyssey – The drive there
Since we were driving through the Southwest, I felt compelled to make a visit to the site of the Duel at the Dumbster in Abilene. Actually seeing the lay of the land always helps me gain a better understanding of the dynamics of shootings and gunfights.
For those unfamiliar with the incident, here’s a quick synopsis. A father and son confronted another man about placing a discarded twin mattress by the dumpster in the alley. After approximately two minutes of monkey dancing between two prideful fools and a man with mental health issues, gunfire erupted. A few seconds later, the individual with mental health issues didn’t have to worry about his issues anymore because he took a load of ‘scattershot’ to his head, along with other wounds. The fools are now in jail awaiting trial for Murder.
Thirty-five years ago, at approximately 6:30 pm on May 25, 1983, Lieutenant Commander Albert Schaufelberger, USN, was assassinated by Communist insurgents in El Salvador. He was the Deputy Commander of the US Military Assistance Group there.
Lieutenant Commander Schaufelberger was picking up his girlfriend and had established a predictable pattern. Although his vehicle was armored, the air-conditioning was not functional, and he had removed the driver’s side window. There was speculation that the A/C had been sabotaged. As he waited in his car for his girlfriend, three men exited a Volkswagen Microbus and approached his car. One stopped his girlfriend from approaching, one established security for the ambush, and one ran to the driver’s side window. He then shot Schaufelberger in the head four times with a revolver, killing him instantly. The assassination team then got back in their VW and left.
Complacency kills. RIP Lieutenant Commander Schaufelberger.
A further analysis of the assassination is here. http://jko.jten.mil/courses/atl1/courseFiles/resources/Albert_Schaufelberger.pdf
At 11:55 p.m., April 5, 1970, two Officers of the California Highway Patrol stopped a car for brandishing a firearm at another vehicle hours earlier. Minutes later, they and two other CHP Officers would lie dead in the parking lot of the restaurant where the stop took place. Their murderers would escape into the night, virtually unscathed in the gunfire.
The officers were all young; two were 23 and two were 24. They were all married and had seven children between them. All of them had been CHP officers for less than two years.
The murderers were hardened criminals. Both had served prison time and one had killed another prisoner in self-defense while he was confined in Alcatraz. They were heavily armed with revolvers, autoloading pistols, and shotguns in preparation for committing bank robberies and armored truck heists.
In the midst of the hullabaloo recently, a major historical even has been largely overlooked.
On February 28, 1997, a huge shootout took place in North Hollywood (Los Angeles) California. On one side were two heavily armed and armored bank robbers. On the other side were hundreds of Los Angeles Police Officers. The shootout lasted about 45 minutes and estimates of the rounds fired go to almost 2,000. In the end, both robbers were killed and numerous police officers were injured, fortunately, none fatally.
In a short CNN video presentation, Rick Massa, former LAPD SWAT Officer who was on the scene, commented:
“If this were to happen today, this would be over before SWAT would get there. As a result of the shooting, there are rifles in all the police cars, in all of the stations, all police officers are trained with assault rifles, to be able to handle this type of a situation.”
However, the recent events have shown us that’s not true at all. Changing tools and tactics don’t really change policing. As with any large group or organization, culture and people are the agents of change
Thirty-five years ago today, on February 13, 1983, a violent gunbattle took place in Medina, North Dakota. Although less well known than the Miami Massacre in 1986, it was every bit as bloody and violent. Something it had in common with the Miami Massacre was preparation for conflict and the decisiveness of long guns at pistol ranges.
On one side was a task force of US Marshals and local law enforcement officers. On the other side were members of a local Posse Comitatus group. Casualties were high on both sides. Four months later, a second related encounter, hundreds of miles away, brought more loss of life.
Gordon Kahl was a Midwestern farmer and Federal tax resister. He was a member of a loosely knit organization called the Posse Comitatus. The Posse recognizes no authority above the county level and held many hateful beliefs. He had been imprisoned for Federal tax evasion but had been released on probation. However, he failed to report to his Probation Officer and a Federal warrant for his arrest was issued.
Barry Fixler, former Marine and Viet Nam veteran, owns a jewelry store in New York State. On Valentine’s Day 2005, a couple of criminals decided to relieve him of his merchandise. It didn’t turn out the way they planned. We are fortunate that much of the incident was captured on video. There are numerous lessons we can draw from the incident. Let me preface all my commentary by saying that I greatly admire Mr. Fixler’s courage and how he handled the situation.
Bottom Line Up Front: Good Guy 1, Bad Guys 0; that’s clearly a commendable victory.
That question came up on a Facebook group I’m a member of recently. In response, I referenced my Armed Citizen database. The question was asked about my methodology, which is a fair question. I’ll address it my forthcoming eBook about the Armed Citizen but I want to first post the Introduction, which addresses the journey I have made about the Armed Citizen and my analyses thereof.
This book is the result of the overlap of several very widely different topics and experiences. As is often the case, as more information comes to light over time, perceptions can change.
During my time in the Army, I held several different intelligence (S2) positions. These largely involved information collection and analysis duties, not ‘spyguy’ stuff. The purpose of Intelligence in the military and government is always to facilitate decision-making. Having to provide and defend a cogent analysis of not only the information collected but the conclusions I drew from it was a formative experience for me. Information collection was only the beginning. From there, it had to be processed and turned into a usable product that decisions could be based on.
As I wound down my military career and entered the civilian world, I got into the commercial real estate business. As a Research Director for several different real estate firms, my S2 training and manuals were very useful to me. At the same time, the transition from mini-computer (Wang) to PCs in the business world was beginning. My boss was an extremely astute businessman and recognized the value of databasing information early on. Being able to construct my own databases allowed me to do several projects that were particularly influential in the way I looked at information.
One of the projects was to database the contacts that the brokers in our office used to develop business. Our firm’s business model was territorial with each broker having an assigned property type and area. To see how well this worked, my boss had me collect each broker’s contacts by Zip Code and create a map of where the contacts were in relation to the broker’s chosen territory. This process was very similar to the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (now Battlespace) products I had prepared in the Army. The results were surprising to everyone involved. In almost no case were the majority of the broker’s contacts in his or her territory. Some were nearby, which was understandable, but in many cases, they were widely scattered and even far away. The brokers themselves couldn’t believe it until I showed them the actual maps.
What this showed me was how inaccurate conclusions based on data that isn’t properly disaggregated can be. Their information was written down in their Rolodexes with every contact date annotated. That system told them very well what the level of their contact activity was. What it didn’t provide was much information about how well they were following their business plan. Aggregating the data and then disaggregating it by location instead of contact name and date told a much different story.
Another database I had to create was of proposed and completed deals. Creating this database gave me a much better insight into the numerous factors that make up a transaction. Proposed rental rate, length of term, size of the space, etc. were all captured when the brokers proposed a transaction. Eventually we would enter whether the deal closed or died. That database gave our company a firm understanding of what the market was actually doing across the city and in the various submarkets. Instead of speculation about what actual rental rates and terms were, we had a very clear picture.
Training I took impacted my thoughts also. I took Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute I in 1991. Having a measured and structured component to training was an eye-opening experience. Similarly, when I started training with John Farnam of Defense Training International, I got a lot of good information, both formal and informal. John was kind enough to give me a copy of W. French Anderson’s book about the FBI Miami Massacre. The book provided a superlative example of an in depth analysis of an armed conflict.
The next leg of my experiences developed when I started shooting IDPA in 1998 and then started an IDPA club. A number of Match Directors and I were discussing how to develop stages every month for our matches. Stage development is a constant pressure for any Match Director to keep the matches fresh and interesting. Someone suggested that The Armed Citizen column of NRA’s American Rifleman magazine might be a good place to start. I had been tearing the columns out of the magazine for years but never paid close attention to them. So I dug them out and looked through them in greater detail. My response to the other MDs was that almost all of the incidents were less than five shots and a lot were only one or two. Many of them had no shooting in them at all. The general consensus was the round count wasn’t high enough and the situations weren’t complicated enough to make interesting scenario stages.
My conclusion was different though, so I started designing what I called Armed Citizen Scenarios for my matches. There were several ways to adapt the incidents into stages. One way was to put multiple strings into a stage. For instance, if a Citizen was wounded in the arm in an attack, I would have one string shot with both hands and a second string shot with the Dominant Hand Only. Or, when only one shot was fired at one criminal in the actual incident, I would specify a failure drill (two shots to the body and one to the head) on all the targets.
The Armed Citizen topic interested me enough to create a database all 482 of the incidents from the column for the period 1997-2001. The incidents were remarkably devoid of ‘ninjas coming from the ceiling’ and ‘face eating meth-heads.’ As I had done with the deal database, I broke out as many different characteristics (at home, in a business, number of shots fired, etc.) as I could. With the database populated, I ran a series of pivot tables and produced a short study of what the characteristics and outcomes of the incidents were. Although there were methodological issues with it, fifteen years later, it remains the only study of its type I am aware of. Like a vampire that won’t die, it continues to be widely referenced and reproduced on the Internet.
One of the criticisms of my 1997-2001 study was that the NRA ‘cherry-picks’ the incidents to portray the actions of Armed Citizens in the most favorable light. Although the nature of what the Citizens might have done wrong was never really specified, I accept that as a valid critique. Only Positive Outcomes are reported in the Armed Citizen.
Flash forward more than a decade to the 2014 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, where I am an annual presenter. My colleague Craig Douglas threw down a challenge to me. “You should do a presentation on ‘Bad Shootings’ next year.” It was a virgin topic and gave me an opportunity to counteract the ‘cherry-picking’ aspect of the Armed Citizen. I accepted the challenge and casually started gathering information.
Be careful of what you wish for. The broad array of what I came to call Negative Outcomes really surprised me. The categories I broke them out into are:
- Chasing after the end of a confrontation
- Downrange failures (shot an innocent while shooting at a threat)
- Intervention (Proverbs 26:17)
- Lost/stolen guns
- Mistaken identity shootings
- Negligent discharges, including self-inflicted gunshot wounds and Unintentional shootings
- Police Involvement, e.g., getting needlessly arrested
- Poor judgement
- Unauthorized access (generally by small children)
- Unjustifiable shootings, including warning shots
The categories are far from being the lurid list of ‘gunfights lost’ that those who objected to the 1997-2001 study probably expected. Rather than being tactical failures, most are simply the result of poor gunhandling, lack of familiarity with the law, or out and out carelessness and negligence. My list of such incidents is shockingly long. The only really noticeable category of tactical failures was what my colleague Tom Givens calls ‘forfeits,’ i.e., not having your gun when you need it.
- There is a process to data collection and analysis.
- Information that isn’t written down and then analyzed in written form is prone to error. The human mind has a remarkable capacity for memory but that capacity can be disorderly and easily misinterpreted.
- Defensive Gun Uses by Armed Citizens tend to be uncomplicated affairs.
- Defensive Gun Uses have discrete characteristics that can be broken out for broad analysis.
- Negative Outcomes rarely consist of ‘gunfights lost’ but more often are negligence related Unintentional Shootings and Unjustifiable Use of Weapons. The exception to that rule being not having a gun when it’s needed.
Chinese Whispers is the game in which a short message is whispered from person to person and then the beginning and ending stories are compared. Often what begins as “I like that girl’s dress” ends up as something like “her Grandmother slept with Batman!”
The FBI released its annual report Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report on October 17. LEOKA will eventually be the starting point for numerous Chinese Whispers in the firearms and law enforcement communities. Whispers will circulate about statistical data such as distances of ‘gunfights,’ lighting conditions, weapon disarms, etc. Often, these claims will not even be based on current data but ‘commonly cited information,’ ‘well known statistics,’ or other such dubious sources.
What can we actually learn from LEOKA about how to be safer? The best single source in the Report is the Summaries of Officers Feloniously Killed and a recent addition, Selected Summaries of Officers Assaulted and Injured with Firearms or Knives/Other Cutting Instruments. Rather than relying on tabular data, which is interesting but not instructive, reading the Summaries provides us clues about circumstances, positioning, and actions. The FBI uses the term ‘The Deadly Mix’ to describe the combination of officer, offender, and circumstances. Reading the Summaries can give us insight about how that mix occurs and its outcome.
The circumstances of incidents in LEOKA are categorized as:
- Disturbance call,
- Arrest situation, including pursuits
- Civil disorder,
- Handling, transporting, custody of prisoner,
- Investigating suspicious person/circumstance,
- Unprovoked attack,
- Investigative activity,
- Handling person with mental illness,
- Traffic pursuit/stop,
- Tactical situation.
While LEOs have interest in all the categories, Private Citizens can learn from incidents such as Investigating suspicious persons/circumstances and Handling person with mental illness, too. For those who think intervening in others’ affairs is a good idea (I do not), looking at the incidents in the Arrest category is a worthwhile exercise to see how easily things can go bad.
The West Virginia incident in the Summaries of Officers Assaulted and Injured is an entertaining, if somewhat macabre, example of just how weird and unpredictable the life of a police officer can be. The rookie involved certainly got a baptism of fire that day.
On January 1, a lieutenant and a patrol officer with the Lewisburg Police Department were both shot during a traffic stop at 4:20 p.m. The 36-year old veteran lieutenant, who had 15 years of law enforcement experience, and the 20-year-old patrol officer, who been on the job for 1 month, were both wearing body armor when they stopped a man driving a vehicle that had been reported stolen by a law enforcement agency in Texas.
More about LEOKA in the next Part.
Today is the anniversary of the 2007 death of Jim Cirillo. He was a wonderful guy and a good friend of mine. His wit, wisdom, and profanity will always be remembered by those of us who knew him.
Jim was a firearms trainer, par excellence. He was also one of the founding members of the NYPD Stakeout Squad. Jim’s book Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights is one that everyone who is serious about personal protection should read.
Jim wasn’t only a highly accomplished marksman; he was also a master tactician. My notes from the lecture where I met Jimmy are attached here. Jim Cirillo notes 05192001. Despite being from 2001, they’re still timely today.
An excellent book about the exploits of the Stakeout Squad is Jim Cirillo’s Tales of the Stakeout Squad, written by Paul Kirchner.
I’ve previously written about one of the Stakeout Squad’s lessons.
An article about the Stakeout Squad appeared in New York magazine in 1972. The Deadly Score of the Stakeout Squad. The article probably led to the eventual disbanding of the Squad for ‘efficiency’ reasons. The Stakeout Squad was highly ‘efficient’ at permanently removing violent criminals from the streets, which was no more acceptable in 1972 than it is today.
After surviving 18 gunfights, Jimmy was killed in a motor vehicle crash. That’s ironic and another reason I recommend that everyone who is interested in personal protection should take a Defensive Driving Course. The course can pay for itself. Georgia law requires that insurance companies reduce your premium 10% if you take it voluntarily. Many insurance companies will give you a break even if they’re not required to. That’s a good Return On Investment for $30.
RIP Jimmy, we’ll always miss you.