Category Archives: Serious Mistakes

Negative Outcome – Again

Toddler, 2, dies of self-inflicted gunshot with parents not home

People labor under the illusion that a two year old can’t pull a trigger. What a toddler does is put the gun on the floor, where the kid spends most of its time. Eventually, the gun ends up with the butt down, the muzzle up, both of the kid’s thumbs on the trigger, with the kid pushing down on the trigger as hard as it can. Any toddler weighs more than the trigger pull so it has the mechanical advantage to press the trigger all the way through, even on a double action revolver.

A head shot is almost the inevitable result. That’s why so many of these are fatalities and not just wounded casualties.

Serious Mistakes now available as a download

 

Reasonableness and Stopping the threat

“While [Appellant’s] belief may have been real to him, it was not reasonable and therefore the use of force used by [Appellant] was not justified.”

That distinction is lost on many people, to their legal peril. Just because someone thinks they’re in danger of serious bodily injury or death doesn’t mean the court is going to accept that state of mind. State of mind has to be reasonable. “In fear for my life,” a subjective test, has become something of a mantra but in the absence of other objective factors, it may be unreasonable.

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In Memoriam – Albert Schaufelberger

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.

ALBERT_SCHAUFELBERGER_MAY_1983

Photo credit: Sacha Rocos

A further analysis of the assassination is here. http://jko.jten.mil/courses/atl1/courseFiles/resources/Albert_Schaufelberger.pdf

The OODA Loop and Negative Outcomes – Part I

Proverbs 26:17 English Standard Version (ESV)

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.

In rejecting the Lansdale man’s appeal, a judge wrote Storms thinks he is ‘some type of hero that injects himself into certain situations.’

Our Decisions usually determine our Outcomes as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. Many, if not most, of our decisions are made ahead of time. When we make the same decision repeatedly over time, that is obviously the case. If we have made bad decisions ahead of time, the likelihood we WON’T select that decision from our list of options is minuscule.

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Accidentally

Muzzle direction is the primary safety. Always has been and always will be.

–Bill Rogers

Garland man accidentally fatally shot in head while teaching son to shoot

What’s so sad is how many different recent incidents the search string ‘son accidentally shoots father‘ brings up. Both fathers and sons are on the receiving end.

Firearms are relentlessly unforgiving of the slightest lapse in attention or knowledge of their manuals of arms. The details of this incident aren’t stated but they’re almost irrelevant. Does anyone think that poor boy will ever have a well adjusted life? I doubt it. Who’s fault is that? Certainly not the boy’s.

Just because a person “has been around guns all my life” doesn’t mean they know anything about them. All that frequently parrotted phrase means is that the person has beaten the odds so far. Don’t be ‘that guy.’ It’s not a hair dryer; learn about your firearm(s) and any of the sets of basic safety rules. The number of people who can’t recite, from memory, at least one set of firearms safety rules is astonishing.

There are several sets of safety rules. The NRA Rules are a good start.

ALWAYS Keep The Gun Pointed In A Safe Direction
This is the primary rule of gun safety. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.

ALWAYS Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Ready To Shoot
When holding a gun, rest your finger alongside the frame and outside the trigger guard. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.

ALWAYS Keep The Gun Unloaded Until Ready To Use
If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.

Let’s be careful out there.

 

 

 

 

No one is above the rules

One of the students involved in this went up and took the blank gun … from the instructor’s [emphasis mine] waistband and placed that against the instructor’s back and fired

Not the student’s fault. No one is supposed to have weapons capable of causing injury at such an event.
Either the school’s training protocols are incorrect or the instructor didn’t follow them. Either way, this incident is on the cadre not the student. This is a Serious Mistake on the trainers’ side. There are reasons we have rules about how to conduct Force on Force. This is an example of why. Fortunately, it appears the injury wasn’t serious but the incident is an example of how Negative Outcomes occur.
Guns are deadly weapons. We can never relax our vigilance around them. Thinking that anyone is exempt from the rules is “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Have a decent holster

Police responded to the scene and determined that a person who had a valid concealed firearms carry permit was seated in the theater and had accidentally dropped his firearm to the floor and retrieved and re-holstered it.

http://wfla.com/2015/09/07/tampa-police-respond-to-call-about-person-with-gun-at-movie-theater/

I have no idea what kind of holster this man had. What is clear is that the holster didn’t perform a primary function, to wit: keeping the gun in place. Who knows, it might even have been the crappy holster that inspired my Scam artists in the firearms community post.

POS holster NO

Keep in mind that when carrying a gun in public, eventually you will probably sit down. Make sure your holster doesn’t rely solely on gravity to retain the gun. When you sit or slouch, that’s going to stop working. Either a retention system or being fitted to the specific handgun is important.

When carrying a pistol, the gun and holster form a system. That system has to work in a lot of conditions other than what you will encounter at a gun shop or shooting facility. Have that fundamental reality as part of your purchase decision.

Safariland, Galco, and even Blackhawk make decent holsters. Well, some Blackhawks, anyway; my distaste for the Slurpa is well known. But I’ve never heard of a Slurpa letting the gun fall on the ground in a movie theater, so there’s that. There are numerous smaller manufacturers who make high quality gear, as well. One clue is that if it’s made from nylon fabric, you should probably choose something else.

Having to interact with Law Enforcement because your gun fell on the ground is a Serious Mistake. Don’t scrimp for a few dollars and put yourself in that position.

Scientific Theory v. Legal Theory

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. [Scientific theory] refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

For example, the theory of plate tectonics is a scientific theory. There is ample evidence, which is indisputable, that the surface of the Earth is divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales.

Scientific theory is much different than legal theory but those who casually study personal protection often confuse the two. “Legal theory refers to the principle under which a litigant proceeds, or on which a litigant bases its claims or defenses in a case.” Legal theory is much closer to being a hypothesis, in the scientific sense. In some ways, legal theories are not even hypotheses but are, in fact, merely speculation by an attorney.

We ignore this distinction at our peril. A recent court decision in Pennsylvania provides good examples of why. Among those with a casual knowledge of personal protection concepts, the phrase ‘disparity of force’ is parroted as an almost ironclad defense if a much larger person has been shot. However, ‘disparity of force’ is merely a legal theory that one’s defense attorney can raise at trial. While the defense might be bolstered in this effort by expert witnesses, the shooter cannot take it for granted this theory will have any effect on the outcome.

australianparrots-cropSimilarly, the concept of ‘shoot him to the ground’ is often blathered on about. This idea is rooted in the notion that ‘if the first shot was justified, the rest won’t matter.’ As can be seen in the Pennsylvania case, courts may find this idea unconvincing.

The Kimball case in Maine gives another example of how these two often regurgitated legal theories failed to sway either the jury or the court. “Kimball’s attorneys argue Cole made a mistake by not instructing the jury that it could find that Kimball had been adequately provoked by Kelley, who was 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, after being repeatedly struck as he retreated away from Kelley.” The Maine Supreme Judicial Court found this argument unconvincing and rejected it. Merrill Kimball, 74 years old, will spend the rest of his life in prison, an unpleasant prospect. The fact he fired three shots rather than just one was raised at trial by the judge.

There are other legal theories I periodically hear that, while they sound good, similarly cannot be counted on to prevail in a courtroom. We need to be cautious about using potential legal theories an attorney could raise in our defense when formulating the doctrine we will use for our decision-making.

The law is not logical and does not necessarily ‘make sense’ to the uneducated. We are best served by being knowledgeable, rather than speculating, about what it is or assuming what we think it should be. The one assumption we can make is that nearly everything we read on the Internet about the law is wrong.

chinese whispers

For those who carry weapons of any kind, including personal weapons (hands, feet, etc. as the FBI defines them), obtaining some real legal training is well worthwhile. Law Of Self Defense, Massad Ayoob Group, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, and other organizations provide information, not speculation, about what we can and cannot do in our defense and the defense of our loved ones. The cost is about equal to one hour of a criminal defense attorney’s time; that’s a good tradeoff.

Note: I am not a lawyer and by no means am I giving legal advice. I am merely pointing out fallacies in thinking that I often observe.

Fair disclaimer: I have taken training from Law Of Self Defense, Massad Ayoob Group, and am a local affiliate trainer for the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network.

Standards (Part V – Know the Rules)

Deputies: Homeowner arrested after fatally shooting intruder in shower

The man went inside and confronted another man he found in his shower, deputies said. The homeowner left after the two exchanged words.

‘He returned home, retrieved a firearm, came back over to the residence and fired multiple rounds into the shower … killing the intruder,’ said Mason County Sheriff’s Lt. Travis Adams.

The homeowner called 911 and told dispatchers that he had just shot and killed an intruder, Adams said.

It’s not clear how long [the intruder] had been inside the home, but detectives don’t believe the homeowner gave him any warnings before he fired his gun, they said.

Deputies later arrested the homeowner for second-degree murder. They believe he had ample time to call for help when he went back home.

The odds are that the shooter will spend a significant portion of the rest of his life in prison. This is a Negative Outcome. It’s a clear example of how foolish the “I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house” ideology is.

I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house.

Bad idea

When I posted the link to the story on my Facebook page, one person replied that he SHOULD have been allowed to kill the intruder. My response was: “No, adjusting our response to the context of the situation is what keeps us from being savages.” Usually, it makes me cringe when news stories refer to someone being ‘gunned down’ but in this case, I think it would be appropriate. What the shooter did was a savage act of unnecessary lethal violence. It wasn’t motivated by fear for his safety or the safety of his loved ones; rather, it was a senseless expression of emotional outrage. We shoot people only when we have to not because we want to.

Another person commented that it was his property and the intruder had committed the offense of breaking and entering. The question was why wasn’t this a Castle Doctrine case. The Castle Doctrine is not an absolute defense. Reasonableness of your response will almost always be applied as a test of the response’s legality. Gunning someone down while they’re taking a shower isn’t likely to be viewed as ‘reasonable.’ As Massad Ayoob put it in the linked article:

Yes, your home is that castle. However, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to install an execution chamber.

The number of people who own firearms or other deadly weapons and yet haven’t the slightest clue about the legal ramifications of their use is astounding. Know the Rules needs to be a standard of our conduct just as much as the physical ability to use the weapon. What you might think the rules are or should be is irrelevant. The actual rules are all that are important.

It used to be that reliable information about the legalities of personal protection was hard to come by. Not anymore. There are numerous readily available sources of information about the law. Without leaving the comfort of your home, several good sources are available.

For the lack of reading and understanding a book, the Washington shooter will pay dearly. His legal fees for the trial will most likely cost him everything he owns and he’ll still probably go to prison.

I recently attended the Law Of Self Defense Level I and II classes. They were an excellent legal education resource, tailored specifically to the State I live in, Georgia. The law does not necessarily make sense nor does it have anything to do with what you think it should be. The cost of such training is minor compared to the cost of a trial or even just being arrested on a charge that is later dropped. The optional simulator exercise at the end of the day was also a sobering demonstration of how poorly unpracticed people tend to shoot under stress. LOSD classes are available all over the country and are specifically tailored to the laws of the State they are given in.

LOSD certificates

A benefit of membership in the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is the training DVDs provided with membership. Once again, you can learn a great deal about the appropriate and inappropriate uses of forces without having to leave your living room.

Don’t guess, don’t listen to the foolishness you read on Internet Forums, and don’t make decisions based on what you think the rules SHOULD be. Invest at least a little of your resources and find out what the rules really are. It’s true that most situations are fairly cut and dried and work out legally for the defender. The issue is that when things go bad, they tend to go really badly. The rest of your life can easily be at stake. Very few of us would look forward to spending decades in the can (prison) without a Man Lock by McGard.

McGard Manhole ad crop

Perhaps the most unintentionally funny advertisement ever.

Also, if you’ve taken a State CCW class, the one hour briefing when your eyes glazed over doesn’t count as any kind of meaningful legal education. Don’t confuse that with education that actually teaches you how to apply the law to your personal situation.

Fair disclaimer: I was a guest of LOSD for the classes and didn’t have to pay for them. However, no promotional consideration for my recommendation was offered nor accepted by me.

Endnote: The intruder in Washington was probably a confused drunk. That’s not going to go over well for the shooter, either.

Pre-election Day product blowout sale

I don’t know what going to happen on Tuesday but I do know that if The Evil One is elected, a lot of people will be buying guns. Some of them will be your friends and family.

Since many of them won’t be  familiar at all with firearms, I’m making a special offer. The Pistol Practice Program and Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make combo set is only $20 now on my webstore. Very few people are interested in training and they often won’t listen to you but maybe they’ll listen to me if you give the CDs to them. I’m discontinuing production of physical products, so when these are gone, that will be the last.

I’ve also reduced the price of Glock 17 ALS holsters to only $20, so if they buy a Glock they don’t have to use a crappy holster.

Doing some cleaning, I found a few more copies of my Secrets of the Snubby DVD. These have been reduced to $15 on my webstore.

secrets-dvd

Maximum shipping for any order is only $10, so this offer is a great way to get some Christmas shopping done and promote firearms safety for your friends and family.

To order any or all of them visit my webstore.