Hey there, kids! I know it's been a while since Uncle Doc wrote a blog entry. Sorry, it's not been for lack of inspiration, as I've had lots of ideas... but time has been at a premium due to Life its ownself getting in the way.
But here's the deal today: I have a few minutes to write something down, and I want to do it because I'm hoping it will prod me to do something I've been threatening to do for a number of years. That is, to make a couple-three-four internet videos about the realities of gunshot wounds, terminal ballistics, and terminal effects. A picture is worth a thousand words, and video is worth 1K pixel-pictures, etc. You get the idea.
But anyway. I happened across a Facebook post today, linked to an article written by fellow Texican Sheriff Jim Wilson. Now, I have never met Mr. Wilson, but we've used the same gunsmith from time to time in Ozona, TX. That's about as close as we've got.
Well, Sheriff Jim wrote an article about shotguns for home defense, and linked it to his Facebook page. And it's a pretty good article. I haven't got much in the way of a bone to pick with the article. But the Facebook comments!! Oi.
It prompts me to address some of the shotgun myths that seem to be running rampant. And after I do that here in the Blog, I'm going to set about making some videographic evidence to back up what I have to say. Which may take some time, but if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.
Those of you who have followed my blog by now must realize a couple of things. First, I have more than a little knowledge of the actual terminal effects of firearms on human flesh from more than a quarter century of trauma medicine training and practice. Second, I have more than a little knowledge of the ballistics field, from more than 45 years of actual firearms use in hunting, target shooting & competition, tactial training, and ballistics testing. As a result of this background, I tend to have a short fuse when it comes to going ballistic over internet/gunshop mythology.
When it comes to firearms, believing in myths demonstrably gets people hurt and/or killed.
So, in no particular order, here's the myths that drive me crazy, and the refutations.
SHOTGUN MYTH #1: USE LIGHT BIRDSHOT FOR HOME DEFENSE BECAUSE IT'S LESS DEADLY THAN BUCKSHOT
Okay, I'll cut to the chase on this one, and then go into the explanation. The plain fact is that if I fire my shotgun in my home, the last thing I'm concerned about is "safety"... I'm thinking more in terms of "deadly", as in putting a deadly projectile into the vulnerable target anatomy of the armed and dangerous Bad Guy who has criminally intruded into my home!
But people seem to want the assurance that if they somehow miss the Bad Guy with their load of deadly flechettes, there will be no collateral damage. For some reason they don't think they need to worry about this with a pistol or a rifle, but with a Deadly Shotgun, this is a Serious Concern! So following this particular twist of nonlinear thought from a false premise, it seems to these folks that you have to use ammunition that is lethal, but just not quite as lethal as all the other shotgun ammunition out there... yeah, right.
Ok. I will try not to say "give me a fucking break here people". Oops. This ain't Harry Potter at Hogwarts, magic does not exist. Physics does.
I have been a shotgunning fool since I was 12 years old. I have personally fired, by my biased estimate, well over 100,000 rounds of shotgun ammunition in my lifetime. Most of those have been target rounds, but a great number of them have been fired to kill things. Birds, mostly, but also rabbits, deer, skunks, badgers, raccoons, and other living things that needed killing at the time. Most of the time, the things I've shot at have died. So I'm firm in my conviction that a shotgun is not a magic device that is both lethal and non-lethal at the same time. It's a deadly weapon, people. And the closer the target is to the muzzle, the more deadly the shotgun's missile(s) is.
Most people have never tested the pattern of their shotgun, so they think the shot starts spreading right at the muzzle. And it does, but just not as much as you think. Inside of 4 yards (10 feet), a standard shotshell pellet charge is barely starting to open up. I will show you a picture here in a few minutes, but I have to find it: it shows a hole in a piece of drywall, made by a 1-1/4 ounce 12 gauge shotgun shell, at a distance of 3 yards. It is a single perfectly round hole. That's at 3 yards. Which means all 1-1/.4 ounces of lead pellets strike the target at the same time, with exactly the same amount of energy of a solid 1-1/4 ounce lead slug. You have to get out to 6-7 yards from the muzzle before the shot charge disperse enough to see individual pellet strikes.
So what this means is that inside of about 5 yards (15 feet), there is no physical difference between a load of "light" (small size) birdshot and a shotgun slug. Now, go to the biggest bedroom in your house, and measure off 15 feet. Can't do it, can you? Fact is, most bedrooms are less than 12' across, and most interior rooms in city homes and apartments are less than 15 feet (5 yards) across. A long interior hallway will be 16 to 18 feet.
So home defense distances are short, and almost always well within the minimum distance at which a birdshot load begins to spread.
Now, some folks will argue that it's not the same, and that the birdshot disperses when it hits flesh, causing less damage than a solid slug would do.
Nice try, but it ain't true. I've seen people shot at close range (inside 5 yards) with birdshot and buckshot loads, and while dispersal does occur more rapidly in the denser medium of flesh, the damage is still catastrophic. And some shotshells have a wad designed to keep the shot charge together (the Federal Flite-Control wad/ammo, as an example) and in these cases the charge may pass through the entire torso of the target, exiting in a nice round hole almost identical to the exit hole. I've seen it. Can't show you the pictures, medical confidentiality and all that, but it's true. Scouts honor.
Another example of this: at a cowboy action match a number of years ago, we had a "side match" where a team of 4 guys had to try to shoot a 4X4 wood post in half with their shotguns at a range of 5 yards. Whichever team did it the fastest won the prize. Well, guess what? A good team of shotgunners, using only "light" birdshot, could easily snap the post off inside of 4 seconds. Your home defense shotgun can and will do the same thing no matter what size shot you're using, because the load doesn't disperse at typical home defense distances.
Many years ago I tested my bird-hunting loads on things like refrigerators and TV's, at the dump. Guess what? They blow home appliances to smithereens. I tested birdshot on the walls of abandoned farm buildings and homes. Guess what? They blow walls to smithereens.
Shotguns are deadly weapons. Shotshells are designed to kill things. Don't make the mistake of thinking the ultra-expensive "home defense" load you bought because of its "safer" MHT design (Magic Hogwarts Technology) is not going to kill your kid when you miss the Bad Guy you tried to shoot.
The bottom line with defensive shootings using ANY firearm--rifle, pistol, or shotgun--is you MUST HIT your attacker! Misses don't count! Bad things happen when you miss!
SHOTGUN MYTH #2: BIRDSHOT IS SAFER BECAUSE IT WON'T GO THROUGH WALLS
Where this whopper came from I have NO clue. Internet mythology at its finest, I guess.
I tested this a number of years ago, using mocked-up drywall partitions and wet newsprint. I fired size 7-1/2 birdshot, #1 buckshot, and slug loads at the test medium from a typical home defense distance (4 yards, or 12 feet). The wetpack was 18 inches behind the mocked up drywall partition.
(This is where I have my major quibble with Sheriff Wilson's Gunsite test... they shot through a bunch of walls, but they didn't test the effectiveness of the projectiles on a tissue simulant after passing through the partitions! This makes NO sense... you can't just ASSUME that the damage will be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how the projectiles damaged the next barrier, or the one after that. You'll note that Dr. Martin Fackler did not develop the modern ammunition effectiveness testing method we now call the FBI protocol by shooting through a bunch of barriers and then ASSUMING how much damage his bullets would do to flesh... he shot FLESH (pig's thighs, actually), until he decided a cheaper tissue simulant was needed, at which point he started shooting gelatin blocks. I have shot a lot of gelatin blocks myself, but it's a messy business that I'm not set up for at home, so many of my ballistics tests use a cheaper/simpler medium, i.e., water-soaked newspapers. Wetpack, as it's often called, is NOT equivalent to ballistic gelatin, and I make no claims as such. But in a controlled test such as the ones I'm referring to here, comparing various projectiles' performance head-to-head in wetpack has some scientific methodological consistency, reproducibility, and therefore predictive value.)
What did I learn? I'm glad you asked! I learned that not only would birdshot loads blow through my walls like tissue paper, but they would do the same amount of damage to the tissue simulant on the other side as if there was no partition at all. As I recall, the craters left in the wetpack either way were about 8 inches deep. Hell, even the plastic wads penetrated 4 inches into the wetpack next to the pellets! There was no difference in penetration between birdshot and buckshot at that distance. I had to move back to 10 yards (30 feet) from the partition mockup before I got a measurable difference between birdshot and buckshot.
That's right, I just said it: birdshot and buckshot will do exactly the same amount of damage to a human body after passing through a standard construction modern interior home wall. There is NO material difference. So, no, birdshot is NOT safer for use in your home than buckshot or slug. If you miss the Bad Guy and your kid is on the other side of that wall, you will kill or seriously injure your kid. Period. Don't lie to yourself and pretend otherwise.
Don't believe me? Well, then take my word for it. Test it yourself. Set up a gallon jug of milk about 18 inches behind a couple sheets of drywall. Stand back 4 yards, and shoot a standard load of birdshot at the jug of milk. Judge the damage and ask yourself if you would be happy with the results if it had been your kid's head instead of the milk jug.
If you want to avoid killing your kid, or your dog, or whomever, your options are severely limited! You can do one of two things ONLY: 1) hit the Bad Guy, which you can be sure of if you have trained adequately with your defensive shotgun, or 2) armor the walls in your home with bulletproof building material, such as woven fiberglass panelling. Changing out your shotgun load is not going to make your "stray" shots any "safer" for your family, your dog, or your neighbor. Shotgun loads are deadly because they are designed to be deadly. Don't try to mythologize them into something less.
There is one exception to my recommendations regarding shotguns in home defense, and that has nothing to do with the loads you shoot out of your shotgun. But if you live in a house with plaster-and-lath walls, you can enjoy a limited protective buffer that more modern sheetrock walls do not provide. These walls are MUCH more resilient than sheetrock walls, and will typically block any birdshot charge I've tested. Buckshot, not so much... I've blasted through SOME plaster-and-lath walls with ONE shot of 00 buck. Slugs, forget it; they will blast through any interior partition and wreak havoc on the other side. But birdshot, yeah, plaster walls will stop most of it. But since construction standards have changed so much, I can't guarantee that YOUR plaster-and-lath walls are as tough as the ones I tested. So if you want to be sure about this, you'll have to blow some shotgun loads off in your house to test it yourself. Don't take my word for it.
Let's get real, folks. Shotgun pellets of any size from 00 buck to #8 birdshot en masse will blow through your house's interior partitions AND your kid's head. Magic Hogwarts Technology won't save you, or your kid.
Loook for more Shotgun Mythbusting in the next installment of the TAS Blog, kids. Coming soon! And videos on Youtube to follow!
I stumbled across a great website a few weeks ago (which will be the subject of a future blog once I have time to digest what I've learned), and I linked one of the guy's posts to the Facebook lead-in to THIS blog post. Mountain Guerilla Blog... check it out!
Anyway, the point John Mosby made in his blog post today was encapsulated in the title of this blog entry. Technique has to be mastered before tactics can be effectively utilized. This is not to say a noob can't use smart tactics to win a fight, of course. Doing the right things slowly is infinitely better than doing the wrong things slowly! But really folks: to get the most out of your tactics, mastery of shooting fundamentals is essential.
Think about it: the guys who are widely considered the best fighters on the planet--the United States Special Forces Command--are brilliant tacticians, but above all that they are supremely skilled shooters. As a testament to their skill, SF guys do live-fire room-clearing drills with live "hostages" in the room being cleared... and their trust in each other's skill is such that they take turns being the "hostage". Would you play that game with anyone you plink with out on the north forty on the weekends? No, of course you wouldn't. You'd only do that drill with someone you know hits his target every time!
Over the past several years my Shooting With Xray Vision classes have been fewer and farther between, and have been primarily conducted among law enforcement personnel. (BTW, I'm pleased to be able to say that SXRV is currently POST-certified in CO, MN, NE, and TN.) This is good and bad, from my perspective. It's good, for me as instructor, because cops have had a basic education in use of deadly force so I don't have to spend as much time going over the ethics and jurisprudence portion of the class, and the cops who take SXRV tend to be a cut above the average shooter. It's bad, though, when I consider how many non-sworn citizens could be taking advantage of this training. "Civilian" classes have really dropped off even though LE demand seems to be increasing.
Anyways, let's get back to the incident that triggered my thinking for this blog. We have to go back several months to an LE class where the live-fire component was not great... not the whole live-fire component, but one of the critical drills, it was the Brainstem Snap Drill.
Those of you who have taken this class will remember it. We introduce the concept during the Brainstem Zone of Incapacitation lesson in class. I showed you the video of the cop/soldier taking out the bad guy holding the baby hostage... remember? Of course you do. The Brainstem Snap Drill is based on that video: the point of the BSD is to teach you how to go from a non-threatening stance 2 yards from the subject to muzzle-contact distance and release of the shot into the brainstem in less than .75 seconds.
Step one: pistol in your dominant hand, at your side. Step two: literally, take a step; a giant step. Step three: bring pistol up to full extension as you step forward. Step four: release the shot the instant your sights are on the brainstem.
Wrong!! In this particular class, almost none of the officers present could release the shot at the moment the sights/muzzle reached the release point. Instead of step/extend-BANG!, it was step, then extend, then muzzle waver, then sort of bang. A 0.75 second maneuver was taking more than 2 seconds, which negates the utility of the drill/maneuver. The BSD is an example of sudden application of violent action, and to my mind possibly the best example of this principle. But instead of being able to demonstrate this maneuver in the first 15 minutes of the live-fire segment of SXRV, I had to spend almost an hour with the class on a square range line taking them through push-out drills (first 2-handed, then strong hand only) to get them to the point of being able to release the shot at the instant of optimal extension.
SXRV is not a tactics class, it is an advanced technique class. Yes, we do some "tactical" exercises to illustrate the utility of the techniques, but I don't teach tactics... I leave that to the experts in that field, of which I am definitely not one. I made the mistake of trying to teach tactics early on, and realized very quickly that isn't my place. (Those of you who I may have offended by doing that back in that day, I again apologize...) But a shooter cannot utilize the lessons I teach in SXRV unless s/he has the ability to put their bullets precisely where they are needed on demand. That neessarily requires a level of skill, a level of mastery of the fundamentals of shooting, that is well beyond basic.
This is why I started telling people who want to host or attend a class that attendees must be able to perform at an advanced level to get the most out of my classes, and that if they can't perform to an advanced standard, they are not going to be able to do the things I teach. It doesn't matter what equipment you have, or whose advanced tactics classes you've taken, or any of that other stuff. You have to be able to shoot to a competent standard or you're wasting your time. You're not wasting my time, because you've already paid me by the time class starts. But it definitely frustrates me when this sort of thing happens, you betcha!
What do I consider an appropriate level of performance, you ask? Well, that's not easy to define, but I can approximate it. If you can consistently pass your police pistol qualification course at an above-average score, you're probably there. If you're an IPSC B Class shooter or an IDPA Sharpshooter Class shooter, you're probably there. If you can't draw from the holster and consistently make A-zone hits on an IPSC target at 10 yards in 1.8 seconds or less, you're probably not there. If you can't do a push-out drill and make the same hit in 1.0 seconds or less, you're probably not there. And if you can't do the BSD in 1.0 seconds or less, you're probably not there. Note that I give times here. I don't mean estimated times, or having your buddy time you with a stopwatch. I'm talking about using a shot timer to quantify your performance! If you don't have a timer, get one. You need one to measure your progress and improvement, to motivate you to smooth out your moves, to stop you from bullshitting yourself about your performance.
But here's the good news: if you practice those drills 2-3 times per week, with a shot timer, from the time you put down your money to take that tactical shooting class next month, or that SXRV class next month, you will improve your performance to at least the minimum level required.
Please reread that last sentence. Note that I am not telling you that you suck and your gun is stupid. I am telling you that if you cannot perform to a standard that I and many other consider a minimum standard for being able to win in a gunfight, it is entirely within your power to change that fact!
Fundamentals before fun, folks. Technique trumps tactics.
Buy a timer. Go to the range and burn up some ammo in a productive manner. Improve your technique. Do it again. Do it regularly. Pistol-shooting is a perishable skill, but the more you train, the better you get, and the quicker your skills will return to you after a training hiatus.
Last week: Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. Waupaca County Sheriff's Deputy Clint Thobaden saved a life using training conducted on our SWAT Team years ago, and reinforced by ongoing training since then. Clint was my friend and colleague when I worked in the Waupaca County Hospital ER, and I had the honor of serving on the County SWAT Team with him.
Last Friday Dep. Thobaden responded to a call from neighboring Portage County to aid in intercepting a stolen car fleeing from police. He set up his squad vehicle at the county line, and soon the fleeing car appeared. He turned on his light bar, and as the suspect realized he was cornered the pursuing deputies executed a felony car stop just up the road from his position. Clint advanced his vehicle to render aid to his brother officers.
Unbeknownst to the deputies, the fleeing felon had threatened suicide to friends and family during the pursuit. He refused to exit the vehicle when instructed to do so, took out a knife, and while horrified officers watched, sliced his neck open from the angle of his jaw to his trachea. Clint tells me that the bleeding was instantaneous and profuse, which strongly suggested the man had severed at least one major blood vessel in his neck.
One of the Portage County deputies rushed forward, pulled the suspect from his vehicle, and applied direct pressure to the man's neck with his hands. However, blood continued to flow freely from the wound. Clint recognized the signs of a major and possibly life-threatening hemorrhage, and rushed forward to assist with lifesaving equipment he carries on his person every time he suits up to go on patrol.
Rewind the clock ten years, to a classroom on the upper floor of the Waupaca City Police building. A group of 25 or 30 members of the SWAT team were gathered there to learn Combat Lifesaver techniques from their SWAT Medical Officer, Dr. James Williams (yeah, that's me). We had a pretty good time kidding around with each other as we put tourniquets on ourselves and each other, trained in techniques of needle thoracostomy using packages of vacuum-packed pork ribs, and so on. One of the techniques we discussed and mocked up was the use of synthetic clotting agents. Quikclot Combat Gauze, a relatively new product at the time, was one of the products I had on hand. I showed the Team some videos demonstrating the use of this product on anesthetized pigs that were hemorrhaging from major surgical wounds. The guys were pretty impressed.
Our department didn't have the money for "blowout kits" at that time, but many of the guys on the Team made up their own kits. The need for our Team to be prepared for the worst in the Hot Zone was manifestly obvious to us all. Basing his selections on recommendations I passed on from TCCC experts I had trained with, Clint, like many of our SWAT operators, took to carrying his lifesaver equipment on his person not just on SWAT ops, but whenever he was out on Patrol thereafter. That equipment was never required on any of the SWAT ops conducted during my tenure as Medical Officer with that Department, which ended in 2011 when I moved to Texas.
Fast forward to last Friday night.
Dep. Thobaden recognized the life-threatening nature of the suspect's wound, as previously described. He sprinted forward to the bleeding suspect and the contact officer, retrieving his Combat Gauze from his pouch. He deployed the gauze as it was designed, stuffing it into the gaping wound in the suspect's neck, then applying pressure on the gauze-stuffed wound with both hands. EMS personnel arrived shortly thereafter and secured the dressing per protocol, but by that time the bleeding had been stopped.
The suspect was transported to the region's nearest Level II Trauma Center, where trauma docs removed the dressing and found that the suspect had lacerated his carotid artery, which they then surgically repaired.
The trauma docs told our guys in Portage and Waupaca Counties that without the effective application of Quikclot Combat Gauze, the suspect would have bled to death in minutes at the scene. In my experience as a certified trauma physician, I can only concur with the doc's statement that "he would have bled out in less than 3 minutes" without the Combat Gauze.
That misguided and depressed young man is alive today thanks to Deputy Thobaden's quick action, and has a shot at turning his life around, thanks to his willingness to prepare for such an eventuality by having lifesaving equipment on his person ready for deployment in a rapidly developing life-or-death situation.
I was contacted by Sheriff Hardel and SWAT Team Captain Todd Rasmussen this morning, at which time they informed me of Clint's lifesaving action. Better yet, they informed me they intend to equip every deputy in the County with a blowout kit modeled on Clint's, so every man and woman on the force will be able to act to save a life if called upon to do so as Dep. Thobaden did last Friday. My hat is off to the command staff for taking this step!
Here at Tactical Anatomy, we have been offering training in critical lifesaving skills for officers and civilians in the Hot Zone using proven TCCC doctrine for the past 10+ years. Several police departments have adopted this class as basic training for all their cops, most notably the Metro Nashville Police Department in TN, one of the pioneering agencies in this area. Our Tactical Anatomy Combat Lifesaver class is POST-certified in several states, including MN, TN, and WI. But it is only one of many tactical first aid courses offered around the nation. There is truly no excuse for anyone, police or civilian, to remain ignorant of these techniques and equipment training.
Do yourself a favor: whether you're a cop or a concealed-carry private citizen, you owe it yourself to find a tactical combat lifesaver class in your area, lay your money down, and learn how YOU could save somebody. The life you save just might be your own!
As most of you probably know, I make my living as an Emergency Room physician. This fact defines me; not just as a physician, but also as a person. As much as I try to leave "the job" at the ED when I leave the hospital at the end of each shift, it remains a part of me. The ER doc in me comes out at unexpected times and unexpected places, often when folks around me least expect it, and without any conscious thought on my part.
I'm not unique in this. Most ER docs I know who truly love this work and live their calling to Emergency Medicine are the same way. Which makes us pretty much a bunch of odd ducks. Doctors as a rule don't fit in all that well with most of society, in part because we are a bunch of science nerds (you have to be, to succeed in the educational process), and in part because we know things that the rest of society doesn't know. And I mean know, in the sense that we've lived through the ugly truth of those things in our clinical training and experience.
But if all doctors in general are half a bubble off top dead center, ER docs are without a doubt a full bubble off, and then some. We don't even fit in with other docs. How do I know this? Because they tell us so. Last week one of our hospitalists--an internal medicine specialist, a really nice guy, a really smart guy I enjoy working with--came down to the ED to see a patient I had worked up and needed admission to his ICU. At that moment we were slammed. All 12 rooms were full: a child screaming in one room as the lab tech tried to stick her for blood tests, a batshit crazy psychotic screaming in another room because I'd been too busy to order another dose of Haldol to put him back into La-La Land, nurses rushing down the hall to the Trauma bay to attend to a cardiac arrest we'd clawed back from the brink of oblivion, ambulance crews streaming in and out of the bay doors. And me, in dirty scrubs with blood and God knows what else on 'em, hammering away at a barely functional keyboard in an attempt to input the complexity of a patient's case into the archaic EMR (electronic medical record) our hospital system bought back in the stone age and refuses to update because of the expense of doing so... in other words, it wasn't an environment that most people would consider anything close to normal.
But it actually was normal.
That's normal where I work, where I live and breathe. And it's normal for the men and women like me who have chosen this specialty--or fell into this specialty, as I did. We do other non-normal stuff, too. For instance, as you probably know I got involved with TEMS many years ago, and eventually ended up wearing armor and toting a rifle on my county's SWAT team. You don't see many pediatricians or dermatologists following that career path. ER docs, however, seem to gravitate to it like flies to... well, let's just leave that metaphor unfinished. But you know what I mean, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, back to this encounter in my ED last week: my colleague looked around at the chaos of my Department and said, "You guys are really special, I could never do this". I took a moment to consider whether he mean "special" in the sense of belonging on the short bus with the window-lickers, but decided he meant it in a good way.
"Thanks," I said, and meant it. "You have to be something of a Cro-Magnon to work here, but once you get used to the saber toothed cats and giant cave bears, it feels like home."
He laughed, and patted my shoulder with what might have been affection, or appreciation, or maybe because he thought he had to calm me down the way you calm down a pissed-off junkyard dog, and he backed out of the department at record speed.
But that's how it is with us ER docs. Even if we come out of the department and attend meetings (we HATE meetings) the other docs smile and treat us the way you'd treat the aforementioned junkyard dog ("Nice doggie, good doggie, want a nice doggie treat, don't bite me, okay?"). At social events like dinners and Christmas parties (assuming we even get invited!) it's even worse. I generally end up in the corner chatting with the security guards who feel just as ill at ease as I do.
Which brings me to my friend Lamar, and the point of this blog.
Lamar is an ER doc. And he's a damn good one. He's the medical director of our system's busiest hospital and ED. Like me, he's worked in the trenches long enough to be put in charge of a Department. Unlike me, he actually chose this specialty when he was still in med school, which by definition makes him even crazier than guys like me who fell into it after they started practice.
Anyway, I was out fishing for speckled trout down the Laguna Madre with Lamar last week, and we got onto the topic of security in the ED. Which, if you've ever looked, is virtually nonexistent. Lamar confided that he is working on getting into a TEMS class that would put him on track to join a nearby Sheriff's Office, but his real goal isn't to practice tactical medicine (although he'd like that, you betcha!). His goal is to get his LE credential so he can carry a firearm when he's at work.
He doesn't want to carry a firearm at work because he's afraid. He wants to carry a firearm at work because like most of us he's a guy who takes his personal security as his personal responsibility. But the law in Texas (and just about everywhere) prohibits carrying a firearm in a hospital unless you're a LEO. So he wants to become a LEO for that express purpose.
Now, I know a few docs who are active/part-time and/or retired LEOs who carry concealed firearms on the job. And they'd be crazy not to. Because the insanity of Gun Free Zone thinking is nowhere more evident than in hospital Emergency Departments. Think about that. The local ED has a large stock of narcotics, benzodiazepines, and other juicy drugs. Its doors are wide open, so the sick and injured can gain access to critical medical care. There is almost always at least one doped-up felon in the department being treated for injuries sustained while resisting arrest, or a prisoner from the local Crossbars Hotel being seen for a routine medical complaint, which tends to attract their friends and family like flies to, well, you know. (Why does that metaphor keep popping up? Could it be that we just had a Code Brown here in the department, and the aroma will hang in the air for the next 10 hours thanks to the inadequate HVAC system apparently required by law in all ED's?) And there is almost always nobody present with the means of resisting or countervailing an armed attacker who might want to steal our narcotics, or spring their buddy out of custody, etc, etc, etc.
America's ED's are the front line of our trauma system, and the retail store-front for our medical system. In a minor disaster, such as a multi-victim MVA, the ED is quite literally the gateway to preserving lives that hang in the balance, and in a major disaster, such as a refinery explosion or a school fire, the ED is the focal point of an entire community's response. Take out your community's ED, and your community's emergency response system shuts down. Not slows down; it shuts down cold.
Yet America, in its dumbfuck politically-correct lawyer-bound risk-management gun-free-zone mentality, provides little or no security to these critical zones of care. Most ED's have minimal or no physical security... they can't even lock the doors to keep a bad guy out. Most ED's in America are in smallish community hospitals, laboring under tight budgets, and they can't afford to even have an unarmed security guard on hand 24/7. As for armed security? Don't make me laugh! Even if it was available free of charge, most hospital administrators and risk managers would throw up their hands in horror if you suggested putting armed guards in their ED's. I know of hospitals that have had gunfights break out in them, with armed gang members of one stripe blasting away at their rivals of the other stripe in the waiting room and parking lot while other injured gang members are being attended in the ED. And those hospitals STILL refuse to hire armed guards, or do anything to provide a safe and secure workplace for their docs and nurses and techs.
Because it would "send the wrong message to our community".
I had an incident about 10 or 12 years ago in another state where I came face to face with the grim side of this reality. It was on a sunny Sunday morning in July, about 0900. A great day to go fishing, or have a picnic, or do anything outdoors. The department was quiet, and I was sipping my second cup of coffee and catching up on signing charts. My triage nurse, a great guy named Clay, came back to the nursing station to tell me, "We have a problem out in the waiting room. You'd better take a look."
I went up front and peeked around the corner, and my heart sank. A tall 50-something man I knew well, a "frequent flier", a big man with serious mental health issues, was in front of the desk, shouting disjointed gibberish and gesticulating wildly. In one hand he had a small heavy-duty satchel, something like a bowling-ball bag, and it clearly had something heavy in it. Call me paranoid if you like, but I was 99% certain that bag contained a handgun. Speaking of paranoid, the guy happened to be a known paranoid schizophrenic, and he was off his meds, a not-uncommon problem with people who depend on the VA for their psychiatric care; I knew this because I'd seen him 2 nights before, at which time he'd taken a swing at me before he left AMA.
The man caught sight of me peeking around the corner, and his actions escalated dramatically. He began to hammer on the (thankfully heavy) glass and he began to scream he was going to kill us all. I told Clay to grab a syringe with 10 mg of Haldol and 5 mg of Valium in it (that's what we used at that time for such emergencies, but not what we use now... I use a waaaaaay better coctail now!) and in short order we entered the waiting room. I tried to distract the guy while Clay tried to circle around behind him to stick him in the butt with the sedative. No dice. This guy had his head on a swivel, and we did a long, slow, 3-way dance--circling counter-clockwise like Hurricane Katrina making her lazy way across the Gulf of Mexico-- all the way out to the main entry foyer and then back to the ED without Clay ever getting a chance to stick him.
Two things you need to know here: First, the front desk clerk had hit "the panic button" early, which is supposed to bring every squad car in the city screaming to our location. When there was no response, one of the nurses called and learned that they were on their way, but by some weird circumstance all 4 cars on duty were on the other side of the river, and BOTH bridges in town were closed, one for construction, and the other due to wrecked semi which was blocking all 4 lanes. The squads were on the way, but they had to drive 10 miles south to the next bridge. So we were on our own for the next 15-20 minutes. Second thing: this guy was known to us as a violent man, a paranoid schizophrenic, and Viet Nam vet.
(If you want to strike terror into the heart of any ER doc in America, whisper in his/her ear, "There's a paranoid Viet Nam vet off his meds in the lobby.")
Anyway, Clay and I danced this guy back to the ED doors, at which point he told us he had a shit-load of rifles in his truck, and he was going out to get one, and then he was going to come back and blow us all to hell. He turned and bolted out the door into the parking lot. I wish I could tell you how frightened I was at that moment. Then Clay kicked me back into gear.
"You know what the top story on CNN is gonna be tonight?" he said, in a voice more like a croak than his usual pleasant baritone. "'ER doc and nurse, fathers of seven children, gunned down by crazed Viet Nam vet.'"
Like I said, that kicked me back into gear. "No," I said. "That's not what the headlines will say. They'll say, 'ER doc and nurse defend their lives and ED from crazed Viet Nam vet, who was pronounced dead at the scene.'"
Clay turned to me, eyes wide. "Look," I said, "This guy is probably not lying. He probably has rifles in his truck. And if he comes back with one, he will kill everybody here. But it doesn't have to go that way."
"What?" Clay asked, but I saw the glimmer of hope in his eyes.
"I shot a cowboy match yesterday," I told him. "It ran late, so I didn't have time to bring my guns into the house. I've got two rifles in the trunk of my car. I'm going to get one of them. If he starts to come back at us with a rifle in his hands, I'm going to defend myself. And if you want to, I'll bring a rifle for you, too."
Clay's face began to color. "You're damn right I want to," he said firmly.
"They'll fire us," I said simply. "The hospital will fire us, and we may even lose our licenses."
"I don't care," he responded. "At least my children won't grow up without their father."
And that was that. I ran through the department and out the back door to the doctors' parking lot, popped my trunk, and grabbed my two cased rifles. They weren't black rifles, they weren't even hunting rifles. They were Winchester Model 1892 lever rifles, one chambered in 45 Colt, the other in 357 Magnum. Both were legally "unloaded"; they had 10 rounds in the tube magazines, with an empty chamber. The ammo I use in Cowboy matches is full-power black powder loads, which means a flat-nose lead bullet loaded over a full charge of black powder, which was the authentic load used by "real" cowboys back in the 1800's. Plenty of power to kill an attacker in 1892, and plenty still in 2002.
I ran back to the doors and handed the cased 357 to Clay. We pulled our rifles out and jacked rounds into the chambers. My heart was hammering, and my mouth was dry. We didn't say anything. We just stood on either side of the door, watching the man in the parking lot, who was less than 30 yards away, fumbling with a large ring of keys. He seemed to be having trouble opening the tailgate-topper of his truck. We could hear him shouting wildly even through the double glass doors.
And then the cavalry rode up. Two squads with lights and sirens screamed into the parking lot, and in short order the officers had our boy in cuffs and in the backseat of one of the cars. Clay and I wasted no time in sliding the Winchesters back into their cases, and I slipped out back to put them in my trunk just as the supervising sergeant--who I knew well, of course--rolled up. His look told me he was damn near as scared and relieved as I was. He looked over the parking lot and confirmed that the situation was in hand, then strolled over to me and spoke softly.
"Hey, Doc, those things you were putting in your trunk, are they what I think they are?"
I looked at him and nodded at Clay. "We figured we had no choice. I'm sure glad your boys arrived when they did."
The sarge blew out his cheeks and shook his head. "Me, too, Doc. Me too. The other woulda been a lotta paperwork. A lotta paperwork."
And then he put his hand on my shoulder, but not like my hospitalist colleague did last week. He put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed in a way that said more than words could say, in a language that warriors all know. And that was that. Nobody got shot, nobody got killed, and we all went home at the end of the shift. Well, except the Viet Nam vet, who went to the psychiatric hospital. Which was probably the closest thing to home he knows, so I guess we really all did go home after all.
As it turned out, the deranged man had a truckload of rifles and shotguns, mostly AR's, and all of them locked and loaded. There is no doubt he came prepared for the war he had never managed to leave behind in southeast Asia.
The situation could have gone a lot differently. Clay's imagined CNN headline might well have happened, if the cops hadn't arrived on time, and if I hadn't serendipitously forgotten to take the rifles out of my car when I got home from the previous day's Cowboy match. But because of the idiots in charge of our hospital, idiots who think that guns are bad and visible security sends "the wrong message" to the community, we came within a whisker of being cheerfully sacrificed on the altar of Almighty Political Correctness and Risk Management.
Lest you think this was a one-off situation, let me disabuse you of that notion. ED staff are assaulted and injured in America with depressing regularity, and we are threatened many, many times every day. All because of the risk managers' mindset that we "must not offend the community".
This idiotic do-not-offend mentality is insane. We put armed guards in our capitols, in our banks, in our securities houses. Armed guards patrol gated communities, industrial complexes, shopping malls. We sanction the use of armed guards to protect these things, because we recognize they are precious, and they are vulnerable to predators. Yet we do not provide armed security to our most vulnerable: our children in their schools, and our sick and infirm in our hospitals. The shooting by the ISIS-wannabe-nutjob in Ft. Lauderdale the past weekend would never have happened if armed security personnel were posted in adequate numbers in our airports.
Are our children, our hospitals, our clinics and places of healing not at least as precious as our stocks and bonds and piles of gold bullion? If not, then what IS precious in America?
When is America going to wake up? It's time to take the sheepdogs off the leash and let them do what they do best. America could be the safest country in the world in short order if we would simply use the tools that are at hand: trained men and women who are warriors at heart and background, but who serve as helpers, teachers, healers in their current life. But the risk managers don't think we can be trusted with that. They don't think we are worthy of protecting. Not yet, anyway.
In the meantime, guys like Lamar will quietly take their own route to securing themselves and their staff and patients. There are a lot of docs like Lamar. I thank God for them. They may not fit in with the other docs in the hospitals and clinics of America, but I think that's a good thing. Because they are quite literally the last line of defense against true chaos.
“…one could view the U.S. news information system as a sort of trough into which propagandists, calling themselves PR professionals, regularly dump information; journalists and news organizations nose in hog-like to feed at the trough. The notion of an independent and objective news system conducted by truth-seeking journalists is highly romanticized, exaggerated and self serving in regard to the actual role of mass media journalists in interpreting reality.” B.A.Patrick
I came across this quote in the above-cited article on Facebook today. This was the THIRD post I shared on my timeline this morning whose main theme was harsh criticism of the national news media and its abject failure to report the truth during the past election and its aftermath.
Frankly, I've been appalled by the MSM's apparent abandonment of journalistic ethics in the past 25 years, and especially in the past 10 years. I guess I was somewhat ahead of the curve (as were many others, of course, including all 3 of my readers) in recognizing this problem, but it seems to have caught populist fire in the past few weeks, and the fire is beginning to rage out of control.
Consider this short damning video from Denzel Washington, a cultural icon who cannot be attacked by the MSM because he is a) black and b) a star (either attribute alone would be insufficient protection, but taken together, he becomes untouchable by the celebrity-loving and racist-supersensitized Media):
And the topper for the morning, which I found to be more of a wake-up than my first cup of coffee, which I was drinking as I read this:
Here's what Yours Truly posted in introduction of this piece on my very own Facebook page:
"This is an interesting opinion piece. I have to say that the open malice of the Palin-hating infotainment industry appalled me at the time the events of 2008 were happening, but like most people the unprecedented fake news attacks on her from the all-powerful MSM were so stunning that no one knew how to counter them. In effect, the anti-Palin "narratives" (which is media-speak for "made-up story") were so egregious that they triggered a surge of support for alternative media sources. One could say that the media's unfounded excoriation of Palin fanned the flames of the alt-right news movement, and ensured the election of Donald Trump."
Now, I'm not saying that three solid "hit pieces" against the MSM constitutes a groundswell. I'm not saying that I think anything is going to change... yet. But I am saying... yet...
I believe that the Boardrooms of the news networks are in chaos. Their ratings are in free-fall, and all the bullsh!t they've been putting out to try to release their reserve chutes--like attempting to blacklist all the conservative news sites on the internet as "fake news"--is nothing more than a sign that they are in a blind panic. Like the man who is trying to shoot the police coming to arrest him, but his empty revolver won't fire, and just keeps pulling the trigger again and again and again---click-click-click--the MSM keeps trying to use the same ugly tools it's been using for years, and they can't believe that it's not working.
I sincerely hope we are going to see a reprise of the Terror of the French Revolution in the news media over the next few months... a virtual Reign of Terror, in which producers and editors, newswriters and talking heads, are called to account by their Boards and fired ignominiously for their abject failure to adhere to anything resembling a journalistic ethic and their duty to report the truth. Please understand that I am not calling for the actual cutting off of people's heads here, my friends. But lest some undereducated Snowflake social justice warrior read this and misinterpret my intent, I am calling for the figurative beheading of all the TV news networks, and many of the nation's most egregiously left-leaning and egregiously socialist-run newspapers.
"If it bleeds, it leads", and "first with the worst" have been bywords for over a century in the parlance of Established Journalism in their criticism of the tabloids and yellow journalism. But it's increasingly apparent in 2016 that yellow journalism has become mainstream, and there are no real journalists left. Or are there? Somewhere out there, is there still an honest news reporter who actually wants to report the truth on national issues?
I don't know how this is going to get fixed, but I do know who is going to fix it (the news corporation Boards). And I do predict it will be fixed.
And keep in mind, boys and girls, when you read that prediction... that I am one of those who predicted that Hillary would go down in flames even in the deepest, darkest days of the recent election campaign.
Who's your daddy... <wink>
I got a Facebook message from a very good young man I know, a friend of my son. He was responding to a post I had shared. It was a video from Prager University (not a real university at all, but a series of short lectures by academics explaining important stuff), in which a former Muslim woman explained why the West cannot "tolerate" Islam as it currently exists.
My young friend was startled by this video. He thought he was doing well to "tolerate" Islam, because it is a religion, and we are supposed to be tolerant of all religions. My response is reproduced, verbatim, below:
Thanks for sharing your email with me. I'll respect your privacy and not share it. Mine is apparently an open book for every email marketer in the world, but that's a whole nother story!
Today's Tactical Anatomy post on Facebook cites a crucial illustration of the need for unfettered citizen access to firearms. It's a simple anecdote describing one woman's lawful use of a firearm (called a DUG, a Defensive Use of a Gun, which I'll explain in more depth shortly). There's the teaser, and the ostensible reason for my blog post today. I'll get back to you on that in a moment, so please bear with me here.
The current presidential election campaign is shaping up as a battle between diametrically opposed ideologies. It appears to me that never, never, NEVER in my lifetime has so much been at stake. On the one hand, we have a political outsider who has seized the Republican nomination from the Party bosses, and is running a ramshackle campaign that despite its lack of sophistication is competing very well against a slick and professional campaign run by its opponents. On the other hand, we have a political insider who received her Party's nomination as a quasi-coronation, and is running a very expensive and tghtly controlled campaign that should, according to the jaded political commentators of the media, be ahead by double-digits.
Both candidates are deeply flawed individuals. I don't want to vote for either of them, and most of my friends are saying the same thing. This is a national embarassment, and should trigger a wholesale overhaul of our presidential selection process, otherwise known as the Primary System. I doubt that will happen, but that's not the subject of this blog.
No, the subject of this blog is "gun control". Again.
Yet again, America is under assault by the Democratic Party's fixation on "gun control" as the single solution to violent crime in our nation. Bernie Sanders--a communist in all but name--was the first to raise the issue during the primaries, but Hillary Clinton's campaign saw that "gun control" appeared to be a great boost to Sanders' campaign, so Team Hillary usurped the issue and made it hers. She did this despite the lessons learned by Bill Clinton and the Democrats after the Clinton Assault Weapons ban of 1994, which was perceived as the primary cause of the Democrats' electoral battering in the 1996 election.
The Democrats avowed in public to stay away from "gun control" as a political platform plan, as it was considered to be electoral poison. Apparently, they have decided they were wrong, and Hillary is running strongly on that very platform today. She's gambling all her chips on her gut instinct that the national conscience has shifted far enough left since 1996 that she can risk this move.
I sincerely hope she loses. Not just because I oppose "gun control" (which I do), but because I hope this defeat will hammer a death-blow to the Democratic Party's fascination with disarmament of the public.
The post by Kelsie Lee Evans that I shared on Facebook is a striking example of the reason Hillary Clinton is wrong, and why she MUST be defeated in this election.
Dr. Gary Kleck, a criminologist in Florida, published a landmark study on Americans' use of firearms for self-defense back in 1996. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, of all places. JAMA is a notably gun-unfriendly journal, and the scientific voice of the AMA, which is a decidedly anti-gun organization. Kleck's article cited his research, which demonstrated that Americans use firearms in defense of person and/or property 2.5 million times annually.
Now, don't gloss over that number, because it's important. TWO POINT FIVE MILLION. That is a LOT of people who used firearms for self-defense. If you add that up over the 20 years since Kleck's study was published, that means FIFTY MILLION people need a gun to stop a crime being committed against them since 1996. That's 15% of Americans, folks.
Now, if you compare that number to the number of homicides over the same period, we're not even close. America experiences something north of 10,000 homicides annually, although that number is steadily declining. In 2013, the last year of FBI data I seriously looked at, 69% of those homicides involved use of a firearm, or about 8454 homicides. Some of those were justifiable homicides, by the way. (If you want to look at the data yourself, you can start here: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide ) And of those 8454 homicides, 183 were considered justifiable self-defense homicides.
Now, think about these justifiable homicide statistics in light of Gary Kleck's estimated 2.5 million defensive uses of a gun (DUG) annually. If a firearm is used to kill one's attacker in his attempt to commit a crime, at most this would amount to 0.007% of the cases where someone used a firearm to defend herself. The corollary is that in 99.993% of cases, the would-be victim stopped her attacker by brandishing her firearm or by shooting at her attacker without killing him.
But Hillary Clinton thinks this is not sufficient justification for American's to continue to arm themselves for self-defense. Hillary apparently thinks that it would be better for America if 2,500,000 people who successfully fought off an attacker in 2013 would instead become crime victims in 2017. She thinks that the 183 lives "saved" by banning our means of committing justifiable homicide are worth the 2,499,819 law-abiding citizens' lives crippled or lost in the exchange.
As Kelsie Lee Evans' story illustrates, it is the women of America who will suffer. On that fateful evening when Kelsie simply showed her firearm to a would-be attacker (that's the definition of brandishing, folks), despite having done a whole lot of things wrong leading up to that moment, she was able to prevent being assaulted, robbed, raped, or murdered.
But Hillary Clinton wants to take away Kelsie's ability to do so. She wants to take away your right, and my right, to do the same. "Not so!" Cry Hillary's supporters. "She never said that!!"
Oh, but she did. This is her comment on the Supreme Court's Heller decision:
“I was proud when my husband took [the National Rifle Association] on, and we were able to ban assault weapons, but he had to put a sunset on so 10 years later. Of course [President George W.] Bush wouldn’t agree to reinstate them,” said Clinton.
“We’ve got to go after this,” Clinton continued. “And here again, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
Here's where I got that quotation: http://freebeacon.com/politics/leaked-audio-clinton-says-supreme-court-is-wrong-on-second-amendment/ . Yes, I know that's a "right-wing" internet news page. But it's backed up by the Washington Post, which is a decidedly "left-wing" newspaper, here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/06/06/hillary-clinton-on-guns-and-the-second-amendment/?utm_term=.435c2d60d0b7 .
In case you didn't get the memo on Heller, it was the landmark case in which the Supreme Court decided that the individual's right to possess and use personal firearms for purposes of self-defense was our Constitutional right. Hillary Clinton has stated unequivocally that she holds the opposite view on this crucial court case, and that if elected to the presidency, she intends to go after that decision and other rights granted under the Second Amendment "every chance [she can] get."
In the Post interview, which was written by a strongly anti-gun reporter (Jonathan Adler), Hillary's words are "nuanced" away from the stark reality of her anti-gun position. She cites "reasonable, commonsense" gun control measures, which is the Left's way of hiding their true agenda (registration and confiscation of privately-owned firearms).
Make no mistake: Hillary Clinton wants to tear the guts out of the Second Amendment of the Constitution (as well as the First and Fourth Amendments, just in case you were keeping score) to achieve political goals that we can only guess at today. If she is elected, I have no doubt she will at least partly succeed, and as her Supreme Court and other Federal court appointees take over the bench in our nation, she will eventually succeed in whole. America will be disarmed.
I am betting that Hillary Clinton and her slick campaign have misjudged Americans. I'm betting that We the People will hand her a resounding defeat in November, and the Democrat "gun-control" juggernaut will collapse in a heap of electoral rubble. Unfortunately, I'm a lousy gambler, and I lose more often than I win at games of chance. In this ultimate game, I fervently hope and pray that my bet comes in. Seven, come eleven!
My good friend Eric, who I refer to in this blog as Bluedreaux, is a kind, polite, gentle, and thoughtful man. He brought this article (click on the link at the bottom of this blog entry) to my attention.
Bluedreaux is a guy who thinks a lot. He comes up with different ways of looking at things, and I appreciate that about him. But he's also a practical man. And he is also a violent man at times.
You see, violence is part of Bluedreaux's job. He is a police officer. Like all cops, he's learned how to employ violence to bring people who choose to act in violation of Society's laws back inside the bounds of those laws. He does so at Society's behest, with Society's permission; in fact, he is obligated to do so!
The idea that violence is sometimes necessary to the preservation of one's life or the preservation of social order is ancient. NO society that has ever survived long enough to have records of its existence has ever pretended otherwise. But we have a growing sentiment in America (and to a lesser degree, western Europe as well) that pretends to believe that violence is always bad.
This alarms me. For people to actually believe such a thing, they have to commit the most incredible contortions of logic and understanding I can possibly imagine. Yet they are doing it, in increasing numbers, and their viewpoint has become a serious factor in social discourse in our day and age.
Now, my regular readers (all 3 of you, thanks for that!) know that I am a physician. My training and temperament, unlike Bluedreaux's, are not geared toward rapid deployment of force or violence when a difficult situation arises. (And believe me, such situations are not uncommon in the ER!) My first instinct in such a situation is to try to de-escalate the situation as rapidly as possible so we can make sure that people who need care can get it in a timely manner. Almost all the time that works. But sometimes it doesn't, and in those circumstances, I call the police to settle it down.
But if the police can't get there before some bad stuff is going down, I will not stand down nor run away. If my people are at risk, I have to act in my (and their) own defense. I once had to fetch a loaded rifle from my car and bring it into the ER--thank God I didn't have to use it, but if the situation had devolved as I felt it was likely to, it was either send rounds downrange or die. Fortunately, none of my staff mentioned my action to the Corporate Pukes who ran that hospital, or I'd likely have been fired and God knows what other bad things might have happened (even though at the time I was a sheriff's deputy, you never know with Corporate Pukes!) But my staff made it clear that they appreciated my willingness to face the wrath of the CP's in defense of their lives, so that was nice... but truth to tell, I could not have done otherwise and continued to look at my face in the mirror every morning.
Violence--or the threat of violence, the willingness to use violence--is not always the answer. But sometimes it is the only answer. And when it is the only answer, no other answer will serve.
Greetings from the surface of the sun! Well, maybe not exactly, but late July and most of August in west Texas feels like it could be...
So, in my Kit-Derp blog a while back I promised to write about the whole competitive shooting vs tactical training issue. Looks like it's still pretty much a hot topic, judging by the bullshit being spouted by internet ninjas on various websites lately! Not to mention what I hear from cops I hang out with here and there.
Speaking of hanging out... I have to say my choice of people to hang out with lately has been gravitating toward a very different demographic... they're not just folks who like to shoot guns, but people who like to shoot who also like to fly airplanes (they're called pilots). Part of the reason I think I like hangin' with pilots is that the bullshit level is REALLLLLLLLY low. And I've concluded that part of the reason for that is that you can't become a pilot by reading books and magazines and by hangin' out on the internet. You actually have to DO stuff. Stuff that's pretty hard to do, that requires critical thought, coordination, planning, and expenditure of your hard-earned cash. And after you do all that stuff, you actually have to PROVE IT. You have to pass a series of really difficult examinations to demonstrate that you can actually fly an airplane competently, safely, and not kill yourself or your examiner.
Funny thing: having to do all that stuff seems to reduce the Idiot and Bullshit Factor (which I will hereafter refer to as the IBF) by about 99% in any discussion I've had with pilots, not just on the internet, but also in Real Life.
Now, I'm not saying that we should have a federal regulatory body like the FAA to regulate all gun owners and firearms users... but if we did, I expect the IBF would go waaaaaaaaaaaay down on internet firearms discussion boards!
But to get serious for a moment here, there is a parallel to this pilot competency reducing IBF in the shooting world as well, but among my tactical friends it's not recognized very well. It's called competitive shooting.
"Nonsense!" my tactard acquaintances bark, puffing out their kevlar-clad chests. "If you shoot competition, you'll do that same stuff in a real fight and get yourself killed!"
Uh-huh. I see that happen all the time, folks.
Despite the fact that I hear this criticism almost every time the competition discussion comes up, I've never once seen a tactical shooter get into a jam because he did something stupid in a real fight that he'd learned in competition. On the other hand, I have seen (and heard of even more) cases where a tactical operator made a blunder in the Hot Zone because he had a training deficiency and/or an equipment malfunction that could have been eliminated easily by regular shooting "under pressure" (i.e., shooting in competition).
Here's a short list of things that competitive shooting will do for you as a shooter:
1. It will make you shoot more. Totally true, bro. If for no other reason than to avoid looking like an idiot in front of "civilians", everybody who shoots competitively practices more. Maybe not regularly, but 3 or 4 days before the match you've committed to, you'll drive out to the range to put a couple boxes of ammo thru paper just to shake the cobwebs out. If you do that, even if it's only 4 matches a year, you'll likely double the round count of the average cop in America. And guess what? Shooting more is good for your competency with your firearms!
2. It will make you shoot faster and more accurately. Nobody who ever got into a gunfight said, "Man I wish I'd been slower and more inaccurate when I returned fire on that wannabe cop-killer." And while folks sometimes quote Bill Jordan's "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final," quip. Which is true, but remember that he was the guy who could put a bullet in the bull in 0.27 seconds! Listen up: the guy who shoots fastest and most accurately wins every match. EVERY MATCH. Even if you don't want to win the match, the atmosphere of competition rubs off on everyone, and so everyone strives for faster, more accurate shooting. You can't help it... it just rubs off on you! And when you couple this desire to be faster and more accurate, guess what? You will actually get faster, and more accurate. Which means that if you ever get caught up in a gunfight--God forbid, you should strive to be in an Officer Involved Shooting, not a gunfight, every time--you'll default to your baseline level of training, which will be faster and more accurate than it was before you got into competitive shooting.
3. It will make you "one with your gun". Shooting in competition trains you to deal with gun-pukes under stress. Listen, if your gun malfs when you're out plinking with your buddy on the back 40, you can say to hell with it, throw the thing in the bed of your pickup and get out another gun to play with. In a gunfight, not so much. And ditto in competition. Example: I took my Remington 11-87 tactical shotgun to a 3-gun match one time and it "larned me a lesson". The ammo I'd brought was the new low-recoil stuff my agency had just issued us. I loaded up and started runnin' and gunnin' with my pistol, then my rifle; I was smokin' the targets and feelin' fine. Then I picked up my shotgun, chambered a round, nailed the first target, and had a jam. Wham-bam, I cleared it, fired again, and it jammed again... the gas generated by the low-recoil shells wasn't sufficient to cycle the action fully, and I was stuck with a single-shot shotgun, and 6 more shotgun targets remained! What did I do? I dealt with it! After each shot, I rolled the shotgun, cleared the stovepiped case, manually loaded a fresh shell, blasted the target, rolled the shotgun, cleared the stovepiped case, etc. When I was done, I had cleaned all 8 targets with 8 shots, and my time was still faster than some of the guys in that match. (Needless to say, I switched back to regular shotgun loads after that stage!) Talking with my buddies after that stage was done, we were all asking ourselves what might have happened if we took that ammo in our shotguns on a hot entry? Can you imagine the pucker factor, trying to clear that jam in a narrow hallway with bullets flying at you? My point is this: every gun is capable of puking, and they tend to do it when you really need them not to. If you learn how to deal with gun-pukes under the stress of competition, you're far more likely to be able to deal with a gun-puke in the middle of a firefight.
4. It's a great way to make sure your kit works. Most tactical guys who refuse competition will sooner or later give me this line: "That's game-gun gear. I use real-world gun gear." Well, duh, Fred Flintsone! There's nothing in the rule book that says you can't shoot with your duty rig. One sport, IDPA by name, has a special category for cops who shoot their duty rig in matches, and I've seen guys in both 3-Gun and IDPA matches do it! When I shoot a 3-gun match, I usually use the same guns I carried on duty, set up the way I carried them when I wore a SWAT uniform. I wear a chest-rig that duplicates the magazine placement of my tactical armor vest. I've even shot a couple matches in full SWAT gear. And by doing so, I learned in a hurry what kit and which modifications were good, which were bad, and which were going to get folks killed. A couple of these lessons I learned were passed on to the other cops on my SWAT team, and after they tried them out, they spread to the entire department.
There's more, but I won't labor the point any further.
Here's the take-home message, boys and girls: people who do real stuff in real time when there's real consequences on the line tend to learn very quickly what is IBF versus what truly works. It applies to FAA-certified pilots, and it applies to firearms professionals. The Derp-addicted wannabe's will never get this.
Do yourself a favor: if you haven't tried competitive shooting, give it a shot. You won't lose anything, and you just might gain a whole lot of knowledge, experience, and competency. It's a win-win!
In association with David Maglio's Concealed Carry Associates LLC I am pleased to remind y'all that we are holding a Shooting With Xray Vision class at Range of Richfield, Richfield, Wisconsin, on Saturday July 9.
If you live in the Midwest and you've been thinking about taking this class, now is the time to sign up. Don't cheat yourself by saying you'll take it next year. There is no guarantee I'll be able to offer this class outside of Texas after this offering. Given the strident anti-gun political climate in much of the USA right now, there are no guarantees that guns, ammo, or training will be as freely available in the near future as they are today.
And believe me when I tell you that every armed citizen needs this training. Knowing where to shoot the bad guy is as critically important as knowing how to shoot your defensive firearm. Ask any successful hunter whether knowing where to shoot his quarry is important, and s/he'll tell you how critical knowing critical anatomy is to his or her success. Ask any police department that has incorporated SXRV into their training how this has helped their OIS outcomes.
Tuition is $150.00, which is ridiculously cheap for such critical training. Contact David at CCA to register.