Where There's A William

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Archive for the category “shooting”

Further (Retail) Evolution In Action

Last month, I wrote about a rumor public accusation that Amazon.com was getting out of firearms-related product sales.  As part of that, I communicated with Amazon’s customer relations staff and received the following reply:

Hi William,

I’m Amanda Nix of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations team. Jeff Bezos received your email and asked me to respond on his behalf.

We appreciate your feedback and have forwarded it to the correct team internally.

Thanks for choosing Amazon.com.


Amanda Nix
Executive Customer Relations

Now, I am very definitely not calling Ms. Nix anything remotely like a fibber based solely on my own cynicism regarding Jeff Bezos’ reading habits, but …  🙂

Subsequent to that email exchange I have noticed several examples of this type of semi-specific link to Amazon.com’s continuing to offer a product line-up that specifically caters to firearms shooters interests, without any sort of obvious exterior motivation for the notice (a topically related holiday or other public event for example).

Causation?  Correlation? Wish-fulfillment fantasy?

Other than the last (all too possible) suggestion, I can’t say – and Jeff remains conspicuously enigmatic on the question, but as an exercise in strategy this offers an excellent example of the principle of defeating an attack via indirect (and less expensive) means.

By having arguably the most influential individual Amazon.com affiliate periodically make note of an otherwise unremarkable retail product offered by Amazon.com (and there may well be others; I don’t keep track of Jeff and the gang’s sales metrics per se), Amazon.com is able to apply the sales leverage generated by its affiliate program directly to its advertising needs of the moment at no additional cost beyond that intrinsic to the affiliate program structure itself.

Sun Tzu would approve, I think.

Which leads me to conclude that this understated-but-determined support of peoples beliefs deserves recognition.  With that in mind, I propose that this April 15th, we who participate in gun ownership acknowledge Amazon.com’s refusal to bow to political (or other public and private) pressure to abandon our market interests by purchasing something gun-related from Amazon.com on that calendar date. 

I expect most firearms shooters at least are familiar with the concept of April 15th being BAG (Buy A Gun) Day by now; I first learned of it from Kim du Toit’s now-defunct blog some 10-or-so years ago.  The idea being to deliberately correlate exercising our freedom to own a firearm with the (for Americans anyway) mandated federal income tax filing date.  In similar fashion, I think extending this notion to include Amazon.com this year would be an excellent means of recognizing their willingness to continue serving our market interests just as they have historically done.  Steadfast support deserves its own reward, I suggest.

This doesn’t have to be a special purchase, or even especially large financially; just be sure you submit an order on April 15th and include something gun related along with all the rest.

Worth doing?


In Which The Question Is Asked, What’s Up With Those Gun Guys?

Via Instapundit I learned of this article in The Atlantic by Dan Baum titled What Liberals Need To Understand About ‘Gun Guys’.

Formatted as a Q&A interview, Mr. Baum asks and answers:

At one point in your trip, you switched from open carry to concealed carry. What was that like?
In some ways I really liked it. It’s physically uncomfortable, it’s heavy and it digs into you, and you have to be very conscious of your clothing to make sure you’re not displaying it, because you really don’t want anyone knowing you’re carrying it. But it kept me vigilant. You really have your shit together when you’re carrying a gun. You never forget you’re wearing it. Maybe cops who’ve been wearing a gun for 30 years forget they’re wearing it, but I certainly never did, and I wore it for about 18 months.
It also made me really calm. When you’re wearing a gun, you do not get upset if someone takes your parking space, or if someone cuts you in line. You have this quite noble sense of being the sheepdog, being the protector. And I liked that.
But then you start wondering — what is my responsibility here? It’s really complicated. Say you’re in a shopping mall and somebody starts shooting. What do you do? If you run away, are you like a doctor who doesn’t respond when someone starts choking in a restaurant? If you’re wearing a gun, do you have an obligation to run towards the sound of the guns?

To answer Mr. Baum’s question, No Sir, you have no obligation to “run towards the sound of the guns” simply because you are carrying a complimentary tool yourself.  You may or may not have a moral/legal/ethical responsibility to live up to the American urge to “do something” in an emergency, but simple ownership of a potentially useful tool doesn’t automatically infer obligation to do so directly.   BTW, your choking comparison isn’t really apropos as a choking person offers little if any direct physical danger to any but those in immediate close contact; a shooter does.  You have the potential ability to effectively and (more) safely respond to a shooter if you are yourself wearing a gun, but that doesn’t automatically translate into obligation/responsibility to do so.

Later in the piece he asks/answers:

Nick Kristoff wrote a column in the New York Times about a gun standoff that was the result of a disagreement over a goose. He argued that instead of preventing conflict, guns actually escalate it. What’s your response to this?
I think we are all too cavalier with our guns. I fault both sides, really. The NRA and its handmaidens want us to believe that the whole problem is criminals, and they will not take responsibility. We need to lock guns up. Training should be better. And I think the anti-gun side needs to show gun guys more respect and needs to summon gun guys to respect themselves more. I think we all need to take this more seriously. We have 300 million privately owned guns in this country. Let’s really talk about how we can be safer.
Joe Nocera at the Times runs a daily tally of gun killings. He’s not running a daily tally of how many people defend themselves with guns. For one thing we don’t know about it most of the time. David Hemenway at Harvard is very pro gun-control and he thinks it happens about 80,000 times a year. If that’s true, that means that guns are saving 10 times as many people as they’re killing.
I call for my fellow liberals to approach gun owners with respect. These are the people who understand guns, these are the people who can help us figure out how to be safer around guns. Instead, you drive them into a defensive crouch by calling gun culture the problem.

I suggest the phrase you’re tip-toeing around Mr. Baum is: as a political issue, gun control is more about “control” and less about “guns”.

A final observation; Mr. Baum asks/answers:

At the end of this trip, did you feel any less conflicted about your place in the gun world?
No. I still don’t really belong in either camp. If you watch the reaction to the book when it comes out, you will see that. I’m no less a Democrat than I was, but I am more attuned to the gun guy complaint — “I am over-managed and I am under-respected as a citizen and a human being.” I think the right has a point there. We need to stop fearing capable, empowered, independent-thinking individuals.

Mr. Baum associates guns and gun ownership with “conservatives” and fair enough, lots of my gun-owning friends are actual conservatives politically.  That said, I believe the attitude Mr. Baum closes his article with is more aligned with the libertarian political attitude than it is with the conservative view point. 

I heartily endorse his final words; We need to stop fearing capable, empowered, independent-thinking individuals.  Indeed Sir, indeed.

My Second Time Shooting IDPA

Lock & Load (under “Where I Shoot” over on the right there) sponsors an IDPA club and held a rare Sunday afternoon match today.  Even though I’m not properly a member (the whole works second shift thing gets in the way), this is my second try at it.  I don’t try for “fast”, but focus on accurate – and abiding by the competition rules (which seem about evenly divided between straightforward safety and trying to dull Occam’s razor).  Let’s just say, if the shooting stage requires you to shoot from behind cover, they mean behind.  You can expose your gun and as much of your head and hands to the target as is putatively necessary to shoot the target – and I fully understand the reasoning – but it is truly not a shooting stance most ranges will be happy to see you trying in the ordinary course of a casual range date.

As I said, I don’t get the opportunity often, and I really appreciate the actual club members acknowledging my entirely accidental Mozambique shooting weak-hand at a rocker target (pivots back-and-forth across the shooter’s field of view), but the IDPA claim that physical fitness isn’t a requirement must pertain to membership eligibility only – you don’t have to be a Conan body-type, but us Louie Anderson body types bring our own unscored level of difficulty to the thing let me tell you.

It was great fun and I look forward to having another go at it someday again.  If you like shooting, give IDPA a try.

UPDATE 2/19/13:


February 17, 2013

Most Accurate: William Brown SSP – Unclassified 124.68 (13)

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5

Match Score


CDP – Sharpshooter
1 Bohman, John 87.58 27 0 0 0 14.28 (7) 30.52 (7) 10.29(0) 19.67 (6) 12.82 (7)

ESP – Expert
1 Walker, Jim 68.52 21 0 0 0 9.76(3) 22.61(6) 10.72 (3) 13.06(4) 12.37 (5)

ESP – Sharpshooter
1 Prater, Steve 84.44 36 1 0 0 12.56 (5) 23.28 (8) 13.92 (11) 20.99 (5) 13.69 (7)

ESP – Marksman
1 Prater, Jackson 95.78 36 0 0 0 12.38 (0) 35.40 (8) 17.83 (16) 14.34 (0) 15.83 (12)

SSP – Sharpshooter
1 Sanchez, Bob 83.67 24 1 0 0 11.05 (2) 30.06 (14) 12.30 (5) 19.37 (0) 10.89(3)
2 Quates, Robert 84.07 18 0 0 0 10.27 (2) 25.70 (0) 13.30 (14) 17.20 (1) 17.60 (1)

SSP – Marksman
1 Cundieff, David 104.91 50 0 0 0 13.71 (4) 33.33 (19) 15.63 (11) 23.95 (7) 18.29 (9)
2 Endres, Jack* 122.81 21 0 1 0 17.29 (0) 43.54 (5) 17.88 (10) 24.15 (0) 19.95 (6)
3 Trimble, W.P. (Mose) 133.30 48 1 0 1 16.51 (4) 37.76 (6) 16.35 (13) 39.84 (15) 22.84 (10)

SSP – Unclassified
1 Brown, William 124.68 13 1 2 0 19.46 (0) 41.69 (1) 14.14 (8) 29.63 (0) 19.76 (4)
2 Barton, Neal 165.78 72 0 3 2 23.95 (6) 52.98 (22) 13.98 (10) 47.66 (12) 27.21 (22)

Key to Penalties:
PD =
NT =
PE = Procedural Error. Each adds 3 seconds to your score.
FN = Failure to Neutralize (no hits in the 0 or -1 zone) Each adds 5 seconds to your score.
Hit on Non Threat target. Each HNT adds 5 seconds to your score.
Target Points Down. Each point down adds 1/2 second to your score.

Key to Abbreviations:
CDP = Custom Defensive Pistol, such as 1911. Must be .45 ACP with maximum magazine load of 8 rounds
ESP = Enhanced Service Pistol, single action or SA/DA such as H&K P7 or CZ-75 or Springfield XD
SSP = Stock Service Pistol, double action or ‘Safe Action’ such as Glock or SIG
ESR = Enhanced Service Revolver, rimmed or rimless ammo, full moon clip, power factor of 165,000
SSR = Stock Service Revolver, rimmed case ammo, no full moon clips

 I had no idea …

The Empire State Bldg Police Shooting

There has been the to-be-expected commentary about last Fridays NYC shooting.  This is my analysis of the gunfight between a single armed man and two NYPD officers on the street outside the Empire State Building on Friday, August 24, 2012, as this event applies to licensed handgun carriers who are not also sworn officers of the court.  This analysis is based solely on my experience with firearms generally, my understanding of CQB theory and practice, the general legal constraints that apply to CHL holders along with the linked YouTube video of the CCTV image stream of the action.

The image opens with the shooter passing on the street side of a large potted plant being loosely followed by two police officers.  The shooter then turns to his left (toward the camera and building), shielding his right hand from view by his pursuers, during which time he appears to draw a handgun from a valise he’s carrying in his left hand.  It is at this point (approx :09 seconds into the linked video) that others on the street begin to vacate the immediate area and the two officers initiate their direct confrontation of the man.

There is the to-be-expected initial lack of coordination between the two cops (and it should be noted that the man with the gun does not appear from this video to be actively firing his gun at them, only* brandishing – or more charatably proffering – it toward the two officers), who then separate themselves so as to gain two distinct directions of approach towards the man while requireing him to keep track of separate sources of threat.  It appears the two cops begin firing their weapons at the man virtually immediately following initiaton of their separation movement.

In my judgement, this appears to be an example of panic firing (that is, one officer beginning to fire and the other doing so because the first cop is shooting) as I can see no indication of the man doing anything different to what he had been doing up to that point such as to trigger the two officers going from arrest mode to kill in self-defense mode.

The officers had begun to place themselves in good position to initiate an arrest, then the more distant-from-the-man officer begins backing away as he circles to his own left (the single man’s right) as both officers appear to open fire.  The video available doesn’t show any change of behavior or increase in the threat offered to make shooting at that point necessary.  This could very well be a result of limited information via the video stream.

My purpose in this post is to comment on possible individual self-defense possibilities CHL holders might consider in a similar circumstance (armed shooter on a public street not actively firing at the moment).  You may find Joe Huffman’s much more involved approach to a teachable moment of interest as well; I recommend it.

First point being that should an armed shooter approach in your direction on a public street, LEAVE.  Unlike the police, individual citizens have no duty to confront a threat of unlawful behavior displayed by another.  This is a critical difference from having a right to defend one’s self from threat.  If you safely can, it is simple common sense (though Texas is one of the States in which it is not a statutory requirement) to avoid the danger.  In the video, it is clear that the man was attempting to flee the scene.  Unless his further action makes you unable to safely do so, allow him to and provide information of his direction of travel to his constituted pursuers.  Remember, from their perspective, you also becoming violently involved at best only complicates an already complex situation and at worst has you dead on the ground too.

If leaving the scene simply isn’t an option, the behavior of the officers in the video is an excellent example of a good secondary option; take cover.  In the example, the potted plant container gave the closer of the two police officers cover while still allowing him to engage the threat.  For a non-police citizen with a CHL, this type of cover (or even only concealment) would be a better option to take than just standing around like a fool, but I think there isn’t a justification to draw your weapon unless the man actually turns towards you with his own weapon drawn.  If he continues on his way your gun should either never have left the holster or be immediately returned thereto (being personally among those of the persuassion to carry in Cond 2, I would draw my gun and cycle a round into the chamber, but keep the gun at “low ready” so as to not offer visual threat; I would safe the gun and holster it as soon as the man showed his intent to continue walking away) (he says hopefully).

In the actual event, the more distant-from-the-shooter police officer moved to contain the man’s movement by circling to the mans right.  In doing so, the officer also extended the distance between himself and the man.  This is a mistake that anyone having the necessity to engage an armed person must train not to do.  By circling and continuing to approach the man, the officer increases his potential opportunity to arrest the man without shooting while decreasing his potential to miss the man if doing so becomes necessary.  It is my understanding that a licensed and armed citizen making the same engagement approach (while possibly justifiable under other considerations) would void any claim to self defense as a result.  If there should be some necessity for a citizen (armed with a gun or not) to engage an armed opponent in similar fashion, advanceing while circling will better set up a dis-arm maneuver while increaseing the likelihood of the gunman remaining distracted for long enough for you to close the distance before his making the decision to fire.  It is my understanding that police departments commonly do not train their officers to employ such techniques and in at least two examples to my personal knowledge have policies in place that expressly forbid their officers from attempting such.

Self defense is a very limited legal concept and potential threat doesn’t rise to the legislatively stipulated level required to qualify for the legal defense the claim proffers.  You can’t shoot the driver of a passing car even if s/he has just run somebody over and is proceeding down the street in your general direction, unless the driver tries to run you down as well and quite possibly even then the local DA will take exception to your judgement call after the fact.  Similarly, an armed by-stander standing in a virtually identical location to that in which this shooting actually took place (and also being well away from the previous shooting scene and there being no immediate threat being proffered towards nearby citizens) would likely not rise to the justification necessary to successfully claim “self defense” after whipping out his gat and dropping the perp DRT.

I’m sympathetic to the thought that the general presence within the community of lawfully armed citizens tends to have the secondary effect of reducing the statistical likelihood of shooting events like this particular example taking place, but in this case it seems equally unlikely that such an armed citizen having been present would have significantly altered events.  The shooter reportedly shot his victim in the head initially at near-contact range, followed by four follow-up shots to the torso, and then immediately set out to leave the scene with his gun hidden in the satchel he was carrying.  There doesn’t seem to have been any practical opportunity for an armed bystander to have intervened prior to the first killing and no real self defense justification to do so afterwards.  The shooter put his gun in his valise and walked (rather hastily) away, offering no violent threat to anyone else apparently.

I will be curious to learn the results of Joe Huffman’s USPSA shooting stage just generally, but wonder how well anyone could react given the time and legal constraints that modify this given example?  While it isn’t part of the current stage design he has published, I wonder how difficult it would be to include a test of the over-penetration effect a shooting of these caliber guns at this range of engagement has on the safety of the bystanders?  How many of the injured, who were indeed all hit by NYPD bullets, were as the result of thru-penetrations as opposed to out-right misses by the involved officers?  Torso-sized gelatine blocks aren’t that difficult to make, but they still might be over-much for this first test of the shooting stage.  Maybe a refinement for a future runthrough.

* This post is not meant as a particular criticism of the NYPD or the two police officers who were actually involved; while all of those roundly deserve the critical commentary they have received about the state of their training, I do think that there is a tendancy amongst we licensed gun carriers to unrealisticly apply statistical averages to our own hypothetical actions in a similar circumstance.  Possibly worse than that, there is the initial impulse to justify such hypothetical actions with a mis-interpretation of the actual statutes that govern such actions.  If situations like this one in NYC can be said to have any general value, it is as a learning opportunity for we the survivors (however distant from the action).  It is important that we who do go armed not learn falsehoods that influence the judgements we have to make as a result of our choice to carry a gun lawfully.

"… that are able to penetrate walls."*

Drudge links to an Alex Jones Poopie Pants Prison Planet story that makes eminently clear the level of lunacy that is passed off as “news reporting” these days.  If anyone still has any doubts remaining, I am convinced Alex Jones runs a professional dis-information operation very thinly disguised as the ravings of a moron.

But I could be giving him too much credit there.

In any case, Prison Planet dot com (you can waste your time actually going to the site if you want, but you’ll have to take responsibility for doing so yourself … ) “editor and writer” Paul Joseph Watson demonstrates his capacity as a Pant-Shitting Hysteric as he bemoans the purchase of some pretty spendy ammo by what eventually proves to be NOAA’s Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement.  Let’s look at a few numbers first.

NOAA (mistakenly identified as NWS on the .gov ammo solicitation form apparently) wants to buy 46,000 rounds of .40 S&W JHP ammo – to be distributed amongst several locations.

” A solicitation which appears on the FedBizOpps website asks for 16,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets, noted for their strength, to be delivered to locations in Ellsworth, Maine, and New Bedford, Mass.  A further 6,000 rounds of S&W JHP will be sent to Wall, New Jersey, with another 24,000 rounds of the same bullets heading to the weather station in St. Petersburg, Florida.”

Along with “being noted for their strength”, .40 cal is also noted as the issue handgun caliber for the FBI and one supposes many other .gov badge toters as well.  It is common practice for large organisations to require component agencys to use the same equipment so as to reduce the unit cost of each piece of gear bought.  Like handguns, just for instance.  Not too surprisingly one would have thought, this concept would fairly unremarkably extend to include the ammunition those guns use, but apparently not.

As to the quantities, I probably average shooting something in the near neighborhood of 6,000 rounds of all calibers of ammo for the guns I own in an average year.  Now, since I’m spending my own money to buy all that, I tend to go for the Winchester White Box or maybe the Sellier & Beloit if I’m financially more flush than is the norm.  If I had access to Uncle Sugar’s checkbook (and thereby to your pockets too :)), I’d certainly be tempted to practice with the stuff I intend to carry too!  But I don’t think that’s whats going on here. 

It seems reasonable to me that there might be as many as 460 individual Fishy LEO’s in NOAA’s employ (and we can leave for another occasion the question of why NOAA).  Should that prove to be the case, then NOAA will be able to issue each of those people with a whole 100 rounds apiece (one presumes for the year).  And if it turns out there are only half that many badge toters, that’s still only 200 rounds apiece.  That’s a whole 4 boxes of 50 rounds each, and the damn gun will hold nearly a third of a box at a time too.  Throw in a couple spare magazines (common practice – look at any cops’ duty belt) and now we see we’re actually talking about a perfectly reasonable quantity of issue duty ammunition for a federal law enforcement agency to provide for its people to use (or hopefully not use) during the course of their day.

I especially like this comment:

“As the Business Insider notes, hollow point bullets have been “illegal in international warfare since 1899.”

I wonder what the Business Insider’s opinion is on the law regarding domestic law enforcement’s use of hollow point bullets during the course of domestic law enforcement actions?

As to the rest of the article’s observations, it’s pretty clear that DHS is zeroing out it’s budget on law enforcement-type goodies – possibly in anticipation of a different occupant of the White House being less forthcoming with the dosh in the near future.  None of them can actually SAY that of course, but it seems at least as likely as anything the Excitable Watson can intimate.

I like a good conspiracy theory/rant as much as the next fellow (and given my family history, quite possibly more than most), but Drudge is going to have to work a good deal harder than this to get a rise out of anyone who owns and shoots a gun and has more than three working brain cells to rub together.

* So can most of my .22’s, for a given value of “wall”.

In Which He Commits Gunbloggery

Since it has been a recent topic of (sadly mostly mis-)informed discussion, commentary and supposed reporting in the various media available, I thought I would take the opportunity to post the actual facts about “Stand Your Ground” and the “Castle Doctrine” laws as those are presently legislated here in Texas.  The following is plagerized cut-n-pasted from the most recent newsletter published by Texas Law Shield:

What is the Texas Castle Doctrine?
The “Castle Doctrine” is a concept that comes from the philosophy that every person is the King or Queen of their home. Thus, there is never a need for the monarch of the kingdom to flee the castle before using force against an unlawful intruder. Texas Penal Code §9.31 (governing the justified use of non-deadly force) and §9.32 (governing the justified use of deadly force) are our state’s version of the Castle Doctrine. Just proving that everything is bigger in Texas, our law extends the “Castle Doctrine” beyond your residence to include your occupied vehicle and workplace.
Inside your “castle,” under certain circumstances, Texas law presumes you acted reasonably and justifiably if you use force or deadly force to defend yourself against an intruder who enters your occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment. What are the circumstances that will give you this important legal presumption? The first is where an individual unlawfully and with force, enters or attempts to enter your occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business or employment. The second situation is if an individual unlawfully and with force, removes or attempts to remove you from your occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment. If you are ever confronted with either of these situations, Texas law will presume that you acted reasonably and were justified in using force or deadly force. Therefore, in order for you to be convicted of any crime, a prosecutor would have to overcome this presumption in order to prove that you did not act reasonably. Overcoming this presumption is nearly an impossible task in a court of law.
With regard to using force or deadly force to defend your “castle,” the Texas Penal Code specifically uses the word “habitation,” not the words “building” or “property.” Texas has a very limited definition of what qualifies as a person’s habitation. The “Castle Doctrine” does not cover your entire piece of property. The legal term “habitation” is defined by Texas Penal Code §30.01 as “a structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons; and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.” This means structures that are detached from where you sleep at night are not considered to be your habitation. For example, Texas law does not consider your detached garage, shed, and/or barn part of your habitation. However, if your garage, front or back porch is connected to the structure containing your sleeping quarters (as exists in many suburban communities), it is considered part of your habitation as defined by the Texas Penal Code. Yes, this slight distinction in architectural design can affect your legal rights.
Turning to the subject of vehicles, Texas Penal Code §30.01 defines a vehicle “as any device, in, on, or by which any person or property is or may be propelled, moved, or drawn in the normal course of commerce or transportation.” This is a very broad definition and appears to include anything that carries people or property from one place to another, including cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, golf carts, etc. The important point to remember is that you or someone else must be occupying the vehicle to be given the presumption of reasonableness under Texas Penal Code §9.31 and §9.32.
What About People Who are Only Trespassers?
Make sure that you do not fall victim to the common misconception that the Castle Doctrine gives you carte blanche to use deadly force merely because someone is on your property. It does not. Many people think that the law allows you to use deadly force against a mere trespasser. In fact, Texas law says the exact opposite. Texas Penal Code §9.41 allows you to use force, not deadly force, that is reasonably necessary to prevent or terminate another’s trespass on your land.
You still have a legal right to exclude or remove trespassers from your land; however you are limited to only using non-deadly force to do so. The use of force can have many different manifestations, from physical confrontation to displaying a weapon. Texas Penal Code §9.04 states that for defensive purposes the display of a weapon in order to create apprehension in another person is considered a use of force, not deadly force. That means if someone trespasses on your property, you may display your firearm to create apprehension that you will use deadly force if necessary. You will not be legally justified in discharging the firearm, but you will be legally justified in displaying it to “create apprehension” under the law. Only if the trespasser is committing other acts where the law states that you are justified in using deadly force would you be allowed to discharge your firearm legally.
For example, if you are sitting in your living room and see an individual peering in your window, you will probably not be justified under Texas law in using deadly force against the suspicious person. However, if the same fellow breaks a window and climbs through, you will be legally justified in using deadly force under Texas Penal Code §9.32. If you see the same individual scoping out your detached barn, you will not fall under Texas Penal Code §9.32, because it is not considered an occupied habitation. Note under our examples you may very well be justified under another section of the law in the use of deadly force, but not under Texas Penal Code §9.32, or what the media calls the “Castle Doctrine.”
What if a Trespasser Starts Committing Other Property Crimes?
What about defense of property? The use of deadly force to protect property is contained in Texas Penal Code §9.42. This section of the law lays out a couple of scenarios where you are justified in reasonably using deadly force to protect your property. The first is if someone is committing trespass or interference with your property and you must reasonably use deadly force to prevent arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime. If someone is unlawfully on your property and attempting to commit any of these crimes, you will gain the legal justification for using deadly force.
The second scenario is the law of recovering your property by using deadly force. Texas has a 3-prong test that, if met, gives a justification in using deadly force to recover stolen property. This test is as follows: (1) force is necessary to prevent or terminate another’s trespass on land or unlawful interference with the property, (2) deadly force is reasonably necessary to prevent another who is immediately fleeing after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property, and (3) the person reasonably believes that the property cannot be recovered by any other method or that the use of non-deadly force to recover the property would expose them to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. We as lawyers cannot stress enough that under this scenario, while the law may allow you to use deadly force – It Is Most Likely A Very Bad Idea!
As you see, criminal trespass alone is not one of the crimes listed in Texas Penal Code §9.42 or even as part of the “Castle Doctrine” under §9.31 or §9.32. A mere criminal trespass may, however, evolve into one of the above crimes where you may be justified in using deadly force to protect your property. Let’s take another example, if someone decides to sit on your lawn, you holler at them from your bedroom window to “get off my property.” If the trespasser refuses to leave, you are almost certainly not justified in using deadly force to remove him. But if that person sitting on your lawn gets up and charges towards your bedroom window with a firearm and a crow bar, you will very likely be legally justified in using deadly force to protect yourself and your home. His actions of charging you with a weapon make him more than just a trespasser under Texas law.

Criminal Prosecution Even If You Were Justified.

Just because Texas law affords you a legal justification for using deadly force when someone attacks you or enters or removes you from your occupied habitation, vehicle, or workplace, does not mean you are immune from being arrested or criminally prosecuted – even if you are completely in the “right” as far as the law is concerned. Your right to assert legal justifications is just that: a legal justification. It is not a get out of jail free card, or an “I get to skip the entire legal process” card. In fact, always remember, there is a high possibility that you will go to jail and have to post bond to get out long before the issue of justification is considered by the government. We see cases like this commonly under the firearms program, not to mention seeing cases of this nature unfold in other states everyday. You may ultimately have to go to court and assert your justification defense before a judge or jury. This process may take months or even years to get resolved. You just dont know.
Does Texas Have a Stand Your Ground Law?

The term “stand your ground” law, again, is not a legal phrase but a phrase the media frequently uses in its reporting. Texas law tells us that there is no duty to retreat if faced with a situation where you have to use force or deadly force to protect yourself or another. Even if by retreating you could avoid the entire confrontation, you do not legally have to. Texas Penal Code §9.32(c) states that in defending yourself or another person, you have no duty to retreat if: (1) you have a legal right to be at the location where deadly force is used, (2) you did not provoke the person against whom deadly force was used, (3) and you were not engaged in criminal activity at the time deadly force was used. The statute is better classified as a “no duty to retreat” law. Under these very limited circumstances, a prosecutor or law enforcement can no longer argue that you had a reasonable “escape route” or that you should have had to “fall back” before justifiably using deadly force. If you are facing a criminal charge, qualifying under this statute could mean the difference between a conviction or not!

In order to receive the “no duty to retreat” protection from the law, first, you must have been justified under the Texas Penal Code in using force or deadly force. As we discussed above, Texas Penal Code §9.32 states that you will be presumed to be legally justified in using deadly force if someone is entering, attempting to enter, removing you or attempting to remove you from your occupied habitation, vehicle, or workplace. Texas Penal Code §9.32 also states that you will be presumed to be justified in using deadly force if someone commits or attempts to commit: aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery. Deadly force can be used to stop any of these crimes, as well as when it may be immediately necessary to protect yourself or another person from the attacker’s use of deadly force. If you are anywhere you have a right to be, only then does the use of deadly force with no duty to retreat apply under the statute. To paraphrase a very effective jury argument, the statute is designed to protect you when “trouble finds you, but not when you go looking for trouble.”

Disqualifications for No Retreat Protection

There are multiple situations where your conduct may potentially disqualify you from the Texas “no duty to retreat” provision. In order to receive Texas Penal Code §9.32(c)’s “no duty to retreat” protection, you must be justified in using force under Texas Penal Code §9.31. Second, the no retreat statute itself has three more qualifications that must be met before you gain the statute’s protection.

Disqualifying Under Texas Penal Code §9.31

If you want to protect yourself or another person, there are multiple situations under Texas Penal Code §9.31 where you will not be justified in using force or deadly force. If you fall under one of the following situations, you will not be given the “no duty to retreat” protection in the legal system:

1. The use of force is not justified in response to verbal provocation alone. (If someone is only yelling at you, you are not justified in using force against them).

2. You will not be justified in using force to resist arrest or search being made by a police officer. Even if the arrest or search is ultimately proven to be unlawful.

3. The use of force against another is not justified if you consent to the force. (No dueling or consenting to gun fights).

4. If you seek a discussion with another person regarding your differences while unlawfully carrying a weapon, you will not be given the “no duty to retreat” protection. Unlawful carry of a weapon includes:

a. a non-CHL holder carrying in places other than their premises, vehicle or watercraft;
b. having a handgun in plain view;
c. engaging in criminal activity while carrying a weapon; or,
d. carrying a weapon by a person who is a member of a criminal street gang.

Qualifying Under the No Duty to Retreat Statute
As we discussed earlier, the first thing that must be satisfied to receive the no duty to retreat protection is that the person had a legal right to be in the location where deadly force was used. What does the law mean that you “have to be in a location where you have a legal right to be?” The best way to address this topic is to discuss places where you do not have a legal right to be. Any location where you would be considered a trespasser is by definition, a place where you do not have a legal right to be. Under Texas Penal Code §30.05, a person becomes a criminal trespasser if a person enters or remains on property without effective consent, or the person had notice that entry was forbidden or received notice to depart but failed to do so. Notice of trespassing includes: oral or written communication, fencing, signs posted on the property indicating that entry is forbidden, purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, or crops for human consumption growing on the property. As long as you are in a place where you are not considered a trespasser by the law, you most likely have a legal right to be there under the no duty to retreat statute.
If you satisfied the location test, you cannot have provoked the other’s use or attempted use of force. You can’t start the fight and claim justification, however, there are several exceptions to this rule. (Yes, an exception to the exception.) If you abandon the encounter or clearly communicate your intent to abandon and you cannot do so safely, and the other continues to use unlawful force against you, you do not have a duty to retreat.
A very similar scenario recently played out in a district court in Harris County. The accused was convicted of murdering his neighbor in a conflict that started with a noise complaint. The accused videotaped the entire confrontation. If you watch the last couple of minutes of the video, it appears that the accused was justified in discharging his firearm after three men charged him. However, the previous approximately twenty minutes of the video showed the accused leaving his property with his handgun, trespassing on his neighbor’s property, and taunting the neighbors by flashing his pistol. Thus, the accused did not qualify for the “no duty to retreat” statute. In fact, the prosecutor in that case told the jury that “self-defense was never meant to protect the one that started the fight.” The jury only deliberated for 90 minutes before returning a verdict of guilty on a murder charge and ultimately sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
Finally, you cannot be engaged in any criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor traffic offense, at the time deadly force was used and claim self-defense. I would advise refraining from any criminal activity.

So, got all that?

Next time you hear/read how easy it is to shoot someone and get away with it here in the wild, wild west (or East if you live in my part of the state) of Texas, do feel free to pass along any or all of the above.

And should you ever have the urge to spend a bit on “prepping”, you too can retain legal representation in advance of catastrophe by joining (or possibly creating) your states Firearms Legal Defense Retainer Program too.  Last I knew, it’s a whopping $120 a year or thereabouts, with an initial ~$20 sign-up fee.  I spend more than that on an average Saturday’s ammo shopping extravaganza at the local sporting goods outlet personally.  If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a gun law-savvy lawyer retained in advance of need (and have the emergency contact phone number pre-set on your phone), you’re doing the whole gun owner thing wrong.

ETA an observation.  In the first segment copied above (What Is The Texas Castle Doctrine?), the second to last paragraph ends with,

 For example, Texas law does not consider your detached garage, shed, and/or barn part of your habitation. However, if your garage, front or back porch is connected to the structure containing your sleeping quarters (as exists in many suburban communities), it is considered part of your habitation as defined by the Texas Penal Code. Yes, this slight distinction in architectural design can affect your legal rights.

 My daughter and son-in-law own a fairly upscale tract home in one of the suburban communities in the N. Dallas metro area.  Their back yard covered patio isn’t physically attached to their house, as making it so would raise their property taxes.  The result is, while they pay lower property taxes, she and the SiL have to treat the area immediately outside their back door as if it were the yard fence.  Its part of their property and the laws governing trespassing apply, but not the laws governing forced intrusion of their “habitation”.  They can forcibly remove a trespasser from outside their back door, but not with deadly force (until s/he actually attempts forced entry of self-same door).

That’s a real-world example of the distinctions at play in determining whether or not you get no-billed by the grand jury or a closely supervised stay as a guest of the Governor because you stood your ground.

The burden of owning a gun may well be lighter than regret, but don’t short change the complexity of the burden either.

Less Crime = Lying Cops?

At his Bayou Renaissance Man blog, Peter writes:

There’s a very interesting article over at PoliceOne discussing how, in many jurisdictions, crimes are under-reported, wrongly recorded, and generally ‘fudged’ for political reasons…

I highly recommend clicking over to PoliceOne and reading the entire report. It provides very important insight into a problem that directly and immediately affects your own security. If you don’t know the true dimensions and nature of the crime problem in your area, how will you know whether or not to take additional precautions, or be prepared to deal with specific types of crime?

As I said in his comments, one of the more seeming open-and-shut arguments advanced by many gun bloggers recently is the idea that “more guns = less crime”. If the reporting from PoliceOne.com is as widespread as it appears, just how trustworthy are the statistics this line of reasoning relies on? Do the actual numbers really support the conclusion we gun owners think we’re making?

This is more than a quibble over semantics. If the “… less crime” half of the argument isn’t actually true (indeed, if the apparent crime reduction synonymous with the rise in gun ownership is actually false and no correlation exists), what evidence is there to disprove the notion that this official statistical fraud is instead hiding a rise in gun-involved crime?

Food for thought, indeed.

 It is usually a better strategy to control the context of a dispute, to get ahead of your oppositions arguments as it were, so my initial thought is to make a point of the unreliable nature of the official statistical record and to dismiss efforts to debate any point that relies upon them. Stick to the historical record of political/constitutional arguments about US citizen gun ownership and concentrate on the positive individual growth and development achievable through responsible gun usage. Defensive gun usage shouldn’t be minimized, but it might be more effective to relegate such arguments to a supportive role rather than boldly flaunt assertions that appear more than a little questionable at the moment.

The whole “tide of history” thing is still running strong; concentrating on legal gun ownership, while making the point often about how unreliable “official” records seemingly are,  just makes better sense to me.


Preparing For The Future

The Atomic Nerds offer insightful commentary on the week so far; I concur. Being a union guy though (I was actually elected our shop steward by my fellow employees recently) (poor bastards :)), I chose to use one of my vacation days to get myself in the proper state of mind for the upcoming Good Friday holiday this weekend. Being unionized, we get some input into which occasions during the year we wish to “celebrate” by our absence from our place of employment, and this Friday is one of them.

Went to the local County office that handles vehicle registration (along with most other tax collection-related activities for Smith County) and got the pick-up truck re-tagged for the year. In an associated observation, you would think that such a critical function of state government would make more of an effort to abide by the legislation their efforts are directed at funding. Here in Smith County, the edifice named The Cotton Belt Building houses the tax collecting offices (along with several other “services”) but all of the exterior doors display an illegal notice barring guns being carried into the building. Given the presence of Sheriffs Deputies at all the doors, not to mention basic respect for the intent behind the law regulating such activity, I left my pistol locked in the truck. Even so, I can report that the coppers on the doors are not the least amused by casual queries about the violation of Texas law the signs (scroll down to Sec.30.06) on the doors exhibit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the one I spoke with was un-courteous, just really, really unamused.

That minor drag on market transactions complete, I went to Lock & Load for some much needed ballistic therapy. I recently bought a Smith & Wesson model 559 in 9mm (new in the box!) and wanted to put another 100 rounds or so through it. As every new gun owner knows, minor mal-adjustments or hardened preservatives/lubricants often don’t become apparent until several hundred rounds have been fired through them (the guns, not the owners). This particular S&W offering is starting to exhibit failures to extract with no particular indications of the extractor hook (clip? blade?) gouging the brass especially. The spring pressure seems adequate (to finger pressure – I’m sure a specific strain gauge exists but I don’t own one) (yet), and there isn’t any obvious accumulation of gunk (excuse the technical terminology) in that area of the bolt, so I will just field strip it again and give it all a good going over with a can of brake cleaner.

I did get it sighted in to my initial satisfaction. I chose my usual 21′ and managed to “chase the hole” around the paper until I stopped and thought about it for a bit. Elevate the rear sight (this model features a fixed blade front sight) to raise the point of contact on the target, drift the rear sight left to move the point of impact on the paper to the left. Don’t know why this continues to seem counter-intuitive to me. As I started to say, I finally managed a reasonably consistent ~1″ group at 21′, after allowing for repeated stoppages to clear FTE’s. 🙂 Not too bad from a new gun, and one in a model that is itself new to me as a shooter (it’s surprising how much a minor-seeming difference like the thickness of the grip or even the tactile feel of different grip materials can have on basic sight acquisition and grip mechanics, isn’t it?). I’ve put off buying a 9mm for at least 35 years now; even with the to-be-expected new gun quibbles I’m thinking that was one of my less well thought out decisions.

I’ll be going back to the range on Friday (that was the justification for the day off, remember?); we’ll try it again then. Maybe some pictures too if I remember to bring an actual camera instead of just my crappy cell phone. It’s not a question of “blog standards” you understand, I just want a clear enough picture that I can tell what I’m looking at next year.

Correlation With Liberty

One of the blogs I read regularly (look, see? It’s over there to the side of the page) is M. Simon’s Power And Control; he’s a fellow USN vet and frequently addresses a number of different topics I am interested in but don’t have the academic background to follow at a detailed level of discussion – he’s good at explaining technical topics to a lay readership. Imagine my surprise upon reading this post title Gunners Look At Drugs.

The Gun Values Board appears to be a forum and one I’m not familiar with. I do know that writers and interview subjects don’t always have editorial control over the titles on their published work, but “The Second Amendment Community Tends To Ignore The Connection Between The War On Guns And The War On Drugs” strikes me as more than a little ill-informed in my blog reading experience. The interview reads like an e-mail exchange (and if so the lack of supporting links is kinda annoying, but, again, editorial control and all that) and makes a reasonable if shallow case for the proposition that ending drug prohibition is consistent with defending our Second Amendment rights. You decide.

What I found compelling was the observation that:

Long term PTSD (everybody gets it short term if the trauma is severe enough) is a genetic problem, and roughly 20% of the nation is susceptible. Of that 20%, roughly half have problems well into adulthood. That would be the 10% of the population that are “addicted” to illegal drugs and alcohol.

The core organ involved seems to be the amygdala although the hippocampus is thought to play a role as well. The interesting thing about these organs is that they don’t “communicate” with the brain much except as chemical factories. Neural pathways are sparse into and out of the amygdala. So you can’t “think” your way out of the reactions those organs produce. You can’t will away the fear messages that the amygdala broadcasts.

Two thoughts come quickly to mind; “Just Say No” isn’t gonna work for these folks, and it seems a quick jolt actually does make some people better (without quotes, scary or otherwise). I think it’s pretty well established that the British shooting community (what there is left of it at any rate) is a good deal more tolerant of shooters having a “quick bracer” over the course of the day than we are on this side of the water. Might be time to give that a second – and actually science-based for a change – look maybe. Probably not, prejudice is so much more comfortable, and this from a group that ought to be more familiar than any with the virulent racism and class-based elitist prejudice that inspired so many of the gun-restricting laws and regulations that bedevil us in the US.

One other consideration did occur; of the roughly 10% of Americans that are genetically susceptible to long term PTSD, and of whom some portion is likely also among the 10% addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, how many are also members of the 60+ million households (that is the number the NRA claims isn’t it?) that have one or more guns therein? Which, when you stop to think on it (and for a given value of us), makes them part of us. You know, fellow “gunners”, members of the militia if they’re the right age, all that inalienable rights guff we prattle at each other about. Unless they’re sick, then it’s a disdainful sniff and a quick view of our backsides as if they were unclean defilers of our privileged sect.

A closing thought; how about we make a concerted effort to shine a little medical (or any other that seems relevant) science onto what ails them and seriously consider offering our fellow citizens some of the treatment that contributes to unit cohesion and morale, just as we do amongst ourselves now (there’s a very backhanded joke in there if your personal kink permits that sort of quirk). It is well established that we the citizenry are “the militia” the 2nd Amendment refers to; I don’t read any exclusion to that other than age, so maybe we ought to act – and more importantly, think – just that way and treat our fellow militia members as such.

Think of it as strengthening the frailer links in the chain that guards our mutual rights, if metaphor helps at all.

Go and offer comment at M. Simon’s post, he needs better gun rights material to work with. While you’re there read the drug related stuff on his side-bar, it’s informative. Liberty does have limits, but “Liberty is indivisible” has quite a ring to it.

Getting The Business

I recently bought a TS-200 Aperture Sight from Tech-SIGHTS for my SKS. Then last Friday, I read this post at Oleg Volk’s blog about the Tech Sights for the Saiga 7.62 x 39 rifle. Having the same gun in .223, I commented asking advice:

My Saiga is in .223, and the Tech Sight is on my SKS instead, and I haven’t done the conversion to AK mags, of course. Not having done the conversion myself, does anyone have experience just modifying the recoil spring cover plate to accept the Tech Sight? It looks like it ought to be a fairly straight-forward matter for drilling the necessary hole, but I’m concerned the sight would make removing the spring cover difficult thereafter. I’ve got the Pro-Mag scope mounting plate installed and it causes the scope to sit too high for comfortable shooting so I’m looking at alternatives.

Now, I want to make clear that the optical scope works perfectly well as mounted on the Pro-Mag mount except for the excessive height problem. It seems to hold zero and permits easy use of the factory sights, but the pronounced muzzle flash these Saiga rifles produce really degrades the scope performance as perceived by the shooter post-shot (an observation made by several others who own a Saiga or have shot my rifle). The Tech Sight seemed a known option to look into.

Initially not being able to post a reply to my comment at Oleg’s, Larry Nesseth of the Tech-SIGHTS company wrote me an e-mail clarifying what was involved. He has since managed to put it on Oleg’s blog:

The Tech-SIGHTS will fit your Saiga with out any problem. The sight actually mounts to the receiver and not the cover. You replace the rear portion of your recoil spring assembly. The part with the button on it that locks your current cover in place. Once you replace that part with our sight assembly, you assemble the rifle the same way that you always have. Then install the new cover that comes with the sight and you are ready to zero the sights. The AK100S and AK200S models for the AK47/74 will fit the 5.56, 5.45 x 39 and 7.63 x 39 Saigas. The sight will fit the 308 Saiga as well but requires a recoil buffer to be installed in the recoil spring assembly to limit the bolt carrier travel just ast the original recoil assembly does. I hope this helps. It tried to post this on Olegs blog on the Saiga but it would take for some reason.

I have a friend actively searching for a Saiga in .308 so that bit of data will come in handy for him, and a look at the Tech-SIGHT FAQ page for the AK-47 answers most of my questions, though finding the data without Larry’s help was needlessly difficult for this customer at least.

Suffice to say, while it will likely be late February before the Christmas “sticker shock” recedes sufficiently, I will be buying the TS-200 for my Saiga .223 rifle just as soon as the wallet permits.

Thanks Larry. Taking care of business like you have makes for a modest amount of economic recovery.

Eventually. 😉

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