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
What do you teach the students in your classes, Claude?
That question was posed to me recently by an older gentleman at my gun club.
I teach them how to handle guns safely and how to hit the target, Ray.
He looked at me quizzically when I said that. He’s a competent shooter who can hit a six inch plate at 50 yards with a handgun. I could tell he didn’t understand so I told him a story.
I received a call a while ago from a range I used to teach at, which has subsequently burned down. The call was from the guy working the counter where they sign people into the range. “Can you come down right now and give a lady with a snub nose revolver a lesson right now? She will pay you and she’s willing to wait for you to get here.” It was 20 minutes away so I grabbed my gear and went.
The lady had a very nice 2 inch Model 15 Combat Masterpiece. She had purchased it at a gun shop when her husband died. This was her second visit to the range to ‘practice.’
I was recently interviewed on Civilian Carry Radio. It was an interesting discussion.
I don’t even know where this list came from but it contains some important, yet little known, information that people need to be aware of about the AR-15.
- The inventor of the AR-15 was Satan, though his patent has since expired.
- Scientists have confirmed the deadly effects of an AR-15 by giving it to a chimpanzee who then murdered them.
- Scientists agree that each year the AR-15 will grow more deadly until it kills everyone in the entire world.
- Some believe that both Hitler and Stalin were, in fact, AR-15s in rubber masks.
- In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve access to every firearm out there except for the AR-15 which he told them not to touch because it was too evil. But then the NRA, in the guise of a serpent, told Eve that the AR-15 is really fun to shoot. So then Eve took the AR-15 and started shooting all the animals in the garden because she is one awesome chick.
- The part that makes the AR-15 so extra deadly is the handle on top. The AR-15 would be used in less murders if it were more inconvenient to carry.
- It was an AR-15 that told Miley Cyrus to dance like that.
- Bullets that are normally harmless will kill instantly when fired out of the AR-15.
- The reason AR-15s have that prominent handle on them is because the most requested feature for an assault rifle was to be able to carry it like a Hello Kitty lunch box.
- If you find yourself surrounded by AR-15s, know that they will fire automatically if they sense fear.
- The AR-15 is easily concealable and can fit inside a matchbox.
- The AR-15 is the leading cause of global warming from how its bullets shoot holes in the ozone.
- A very small percentage of gun deaths are attributed to the AR-15 because it is very good at disguising itself as other guns to frame them.
- What are the differences between an M16 and an AR-15? Scientists agree that it is something.
- The AR-15 can be rendered harmless by giving it only a 10 round magazine as people always miss with the first ten rounds and an AR-15 takes an hour and a half to reload.
- The AR-15 can shoot through schools.
- In a battle between Aquaman and an AR-15, Aquaman would break down and buy it so people might think he’s more manly.
- There were no shooting deaths until the invention of an AR-15. No one even considered using a gun to shoot another human being until someone saw an AR-15 and said, “I bet I could use this to kill a lot of people.”
- There was an assault musket similar to the AR-15 used by the world’s most evil pirates, but it was pronounced “Arrr-15.”
- The Assault Weapon ban was needed because it is well known that an AR-15 with both a pistol grip and a flash suppressor would be unstoppable by any modern military.
- In Europe there is no such thing as an AR-15 and thus also no such thing as murders. Instead of being violent, people there just drink wine and smoke cigarettes all day.
- If you are shot by an AR-15, you become one and kill others.
- The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
- Both of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, Fat Man and Little Boy, are jealous of the destructive power of the AR-15.
- Abraham Lincoln said the AR-15 is the finest battle implement ever devised.
- Viagra is made from ground AR-15 parts.
In the past week, friends have pointed me to several rants in the blogosphere about ‘deficiencies’ among gunowners. “They’re not physically fit enough,” “their technique sucks,” “there should be some training requirement before they can carry a gun,” etc. (I had a little they’re, their, there wordplay fun with that. 🙂 ) I’m no different; my Serious Mistakes articles and audios are my own rants about gunowner deficiencies.
The problem with rants is that they immediately turn off the target audience. No one likes to be told they’re a buffoon or inept. Serious Mistakes has been the second poorest selling information product I’ve ever created. So, ranting is just an exercise in futility. This post will be no different; “ranters gonna rant.” But if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so I’m going to offer an alternate viewpoint.
My colleague William Aprill periodically says that I tend to create ‘actionable’ material. That is indeed what I try to generate, material and programs that people can actually do step by step. Indoor Range Practice Sessions and the Pistol Practice Program are examples of that. Even Serious Mistakes has some ideas in it about how to not shoot your finger off or forget your pistol in a public restroom.
For those in the blogosphere who feel like tearing off on a rant, here’s a possible structure for your rant.
- Here’s the problem. (No more than two paragraphs).
- This is a possible solution. (One paragraph)
- The first step to implementing the solution is….
- Further steps in the solution are….
- It’s going to take XXX amount of time and XXX amount of resources to make the solution work long term.
- A journey of 1,000 miles (or 1,000 Days) begins with one step (or one practice session.) –Lao Tsu
While you’re crafting your rant, also keep in mind the limitations your audience has that you might not. If someone’s been overweight all their life, they’re unlikely to drop a bunch of weight just because there’s a rant about them needing to. (More their, they’re, there wordplay fun.) Keep your solution within the realm of reachable reality. (Some alliteration wordplay.)
It’s common to talk about constructive criticism but its implementation is often forgotten. Where our own perceptions are concerned, we’re likely to forget we were beginners or uninformed or not up to snuff at one time, too. (Did it again.) Think that there are ways that you can help your target audience achieve their goals instead of just telling them they’re one of the Three Stooges (there, their, they’re and alliteration wordplay fun all in the same sentence.)
Thanks for reading this. I doubt it will do any good but I had fun writing it. As General of the Armies John J. Pershing said “An officer is responsible for his own morale.” Wordplay and philosophy are two things I don’t get to indulge in very much at the keyboard.
And no, I didn’t have a drink for breakfast. I’m saving that for lunch.
Popular culture has evolved its interpretation of the fictional assassin quite a bit over the past 100 years. The interaction between the assassin and protagonist has evolved, as well. A good example is an antagonist of Sherlock Holmes, Sebastian Moran.
Sebastian Moran first made his appearance in A. Conan Doyle’s story The Adventure of the Empty House, published in 1903. The index kept by Holmes indicated that Moran had been educated at Eton and Oxford. He eventually became a Colonel in the British Army, stationed in India and mentioned in despatches (noted for bravery or gallantry). While there, he was a masterful big game hunter whose record of tiger kills was still unequaled at the time of his Adventure with Holmes. Moran also wrote two books while in India.
Due to some unnamed but unsavory incident while he was in India, he retired and returned to London. Upon his return, Moran became allied with the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, described by Holmes as the most dangerous man in London. For a time, Moran was Moriarty’s Chief of Staff and was also used by Moriarty for “only one or two very high-class [assassination] jobs, which no ordinary criminal could have undertaken.” Holmes described Moran as the second most dangerous man in London.
The TV series Elementary is a modern day re-imagining of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It is set in New York where Holmes has relocated from London. In the first season episode ‘M,’ Sebastian Moran enters the current era of the fictional assassin. However, his methods and background have changed somewhat.
He had previously come to Sherlock’s attention in London, being known only as ‘M’ at that time. M was a serial killer of dozens of people. The list of M’s London victims included Sherlock’s love interest, Irene Adler. Eventually, when caught by Sherlock in New York, M reveals his name as Sebastian Moran and that he is an assassin for an as yet unknown Moriarty. All of M’s killing in London had been in the employ of and directed by Moriarty. So the new imagining of Moran is much more prolific at murder than the original. Two scenes also indicate that Moran is an avid soccer fan and apparently from a working class background. His portrayal is more of a clever but lower class thug than the original Colonel Moran.
Perhaps the grisliest change is the method of killing employed by the century apart assassins. Colonel Moran was described by Holmes as “one of the best shots in the world.” His chosen weapon in London was a relatively quiet but extremely powerful air rifle, which fired an “expanding revolver bullet.”
The newly imagined Moran (M) has a rather different method of murdering his victims. He positions the victims for the kill by tying them up and then hanging them upside down from a portable folding tripod he carries with him. The actual killing is done by slitting their throats and letting all their blood drain out of their bodies onto the floor of their abode. Once all the blood (mistakenly described in the episode as five pints rather than five quarts/liters) is drained, M removes the body and tripod. The body is then dumped in whatever nearby large body of water, such as a river or ocean, is convenient.
Presumably, the new method was chosen because firearms are socially unacceptable for even a professional assassin to use on TV. The process of rendering the victim kosher or halal is perhaps less objectionable.
The tools and objectives of the protagonist Holmes have also changed somewhat. The original Holmes frequently used two different weapons. Watson described his favorite as a heavy hunting crop, essentially a very long blackjack. However, he was not at all averse to bringing a revolver along on his adventures or keeping one close at hand in his sitting room. An aspect of Holmes’ behavior that was not appreciated by his landlady was his habit of periodically taking revolver practice in his sitting room.
He, aided by Dr. Watson, killed the Hound of Baskervilles with his revolver. Holmes checked that Watson was carrying his revolver in numerous adventures. In some cases, Holmes even directed it.
Very well. And, I say, doctor, there may be some little danger, so kindly put your army revolver in your pocket.
In the course of capturing Colonel Moran, Watson described the situation thusly: “I struck him on the head with the butt of my revolver, and he dropped again on the floor.”
Nor was Holmes reluctant to threaten using a handgun to gain compliance, “I clapped a pistol to his head before he could strike. Then he became a little more reasonable.”
In the series Elementary, both Holmes and Dr. Watson eschew firearms in favor of collapsible batons. This might be explained away that they are not sworn members of the NYPD. However, it is unlikely they have any more authority to carry a baton than a handgun in New York City. Perhaps Captain Gregson has given them unofficial special dispensation.
In addition to the tools used, Holmes’ values have changed in a century. Doyle’s Holmes went to extraordinary lengths to capture Colonel Moran for trial. This despite the fact that Moran had attempted to murder Holmes three years previously and was in the act of attempting to assassinate him when he was taken into custody.
By contrast, when Sherlock of Elementary realizes his nemesis ‘M’ is in New York, he blatantly tells Dr. Watson:
I have no intention of capturing M [for the authorities]. I have every intention of torturing and murdering him.
Sherlock does catch M and kidnaps him, taking him to an unused family property where he shackles M to a frame in preparation for his torture and murder. In the course of their repartee, and after a short beating, M reveals himself to be Sebastian Moran, an assassin in the employ of Moriarty. It is also revealed that M was in prison when Irene Adler was murdered. At this point Sherlock relents about the torture and murder but stabs Moran in such a way that no vital organs are hit. When Moran is turned over to the police, he confesses to his murders and insists that his injuries are the result of self-defense by Sherlock.
The assassin becomes both grislier and more sympathetic. The hero treads water in the role of anti-hero, even perhaps villain. Times change.