Archive for Firearms

Random Violence

“Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

I don’t know the original source, but my old man says it all the time. He’ll say it when we’re trying to decide whether or not to bring something on a trip, or when we’d try to throw away some old piece of junk we found in the basement. It occurs to me, however, that it also applies to self defense.

It drives me nuts when people talk about some act of burglary or violence and say “Oh, that will never happen around here.” I live in a quiet, rural community, and I hear it all the time. I also hear them say “People don’t even lock their doors in town,” and they mean it.

Imagine their shock when a couple teenagers looking for a quick buck went from house to house, going into garages and cars to steal money, CDs, and whatever else caught their eye. Imagine their surprise when two young men, armed and on the run from Georgia, were chased down and arrested in a field on the south end of town. My parents lived in a small, nothing-happens-here town, and the guy renting an upstairs apartment next to them kicked in their front door one afternoon. They were out shopping, and if they didn’t have a dog, the guy could have helped himself to anything in the place.

Any one of those could have escalated to violence. What if someone had been up working late on their car, or sitting in an adjoining room, when those boys broke into their garage? What if those two Georgia boys made it through the field and tried to hide in someone’s house? What if my parents had arrived home while their neighbor was still in the house?

Today I read about Brittany Zimmerman, a 21-year-old woman who was murdered by a stranger, possibly a vagrant. She was beaten, strangled, and stabbed and the police didn’t show up for 48 minutes. The dispatcher didn’t hear anything, so the police were no doubt sent on higher priority calls. If the attacker was a stranger or vagrant as the police suspect, then they may never find the guy, much less figure out why he did it. Maybe he broke in and didn’t know she was home. Or maybe he just felt like stabbing someone.

Not likely? Allow me to share one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen (language NSFW):

This guy just attacks this random car with a crowbar — a deadly weapon — simply to demonstrate how bad he is. How would you like to be the driver? Just sitting there, waiting to pull out of the parking lot, maybe wondering what to do about supper, when bam, some maniac is beating the shit out of your car, and for all you know he’s going to pull you out the door and bash your skull in. 911 isn’t going to do you a lick of good, nobody around you seems willing or able to help, and you can’t even drive away because you’re trapped between other cars.

What do you do? Try to run him over? Fight back? I’d probably try the former first, but that’s not the point. The point is this guy wasn’t provoked. He had no beef with the driver and he wasn’t trying to steal anything. It’s about as random an attack as it gets, and there’s not a damn thing that would have stopped him or defused the situation.

This is one of many reasons I carry a knife. This is one of many reasons I am studying karate. This is the reason I would carry a firearm if it were legal in my state.

“Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Packin' Heat

Illinois does not have legislation in place allowing its citizens to carry firearms, but it looks like there will be a ballot item in my county next week that will ask the Illinois legislature to consider concealed carry legislation. I’m going to vote yes.

The first question I’m always asked is “Why do you need a gun?”

For the most part, I don’t. I live in a relatively safe, rural town. But that’s not the point. I think too often people think about where they live rather than where they’ll go. 95% of the time, I’m not going anywhere that I feel I need to be carrying a firearm. I’d never carry to work because I work in a school. I’d never carry to my karate school because there’s no safe way to lock it up while I’m on the mat (and if I have to lock it up in the car, I may as well not carry it at all). However, there are those times I’m in unfamiliar territory or I’m traveling through or visiting an unsafe area that it wouldn’t hurt to have a little reassurance under my jacket.

I think everyone has the right to defend themselves. The Boston Legal clip I posted the other day may be over the top, but I agree with the general principle. The opposition mostly comes with fear and a lack of understanding of firearms.

First of all, the idea that more firearms equals more crime, suicide, etc., has been debunked. I’ll just point you to the Kates-Mauser Gun Report, an in-depth study of firearms around the world, for the numbers.

Second, I do not believe concealed carry permits should be handed out like candy. I assume background checks are a given, so let’s skip that bit. The Woodford County Sheriff stated in a local newspaper that he supports permits and training, and I agree with that. If I have to take a test to drive my car, why not take a test to carry a firearm? The opposite extreme position says that is akin to registration and opens the door to confiscations in the future, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. Any random idiot can kill someone with a car, and any random idiot can kill someone with a gun. Just as there are people who have no business behind the wheel, there will be people who have no business carrying a firearm.

Of course, I have no illusions this referendum will do a bit of good. Even if the legislature brought concealed carry to the floor, I have every expectation it will be shot down. Chicago has a very strict ban on handguns (not that it’s done anything to solve handgun crime), and with most of the Illinois population living in and around Chicago, they’ve got the biggest voice in the legislature.

Until I move to a state where I can legally carry, I guess I’ll just have to resort to the trusty triangle choke.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

How Gun Control Should Work

Great clip from Boston Legal:

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

News of the Web

So much to blog, so little time. Here’s a couple quick hits:

Congrats to Automattic, creators of the bestest blog software on the planet (WordPress), for landing $29 million in funding. Not too shabby for a product that’s being given away for free. And they say Open Source doesn’t work. Ha! Version 2.5 already sounds delicious.

A man got through a TSA checkpoint in an airport, realized he still had his gun on him, and went back to report it. The TSA goon squad promptly arrested him. Lesson learned? If this happens to you, keep your mouth shut. They suspended the screener who let the man through for the investigation, but I don’t understand why the man’s arrest was bigger news than the TSA failure. Yes, he tried to make good on his mistake. But look at it this way: in some states it is legal to carry a firearm, but illegal to carry that firearm onto school grounds. If I were legal to carry and walked into work with my gun, I’m sure I’d be arrested whether or not I told the principal “oops!” ahead of time.

A mysterious blob is clogging sewer drains in Maine (found via Boing Boing). Maybe it’s The Stuff. Run for your lives, Mainers!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Feel Lucky, Punk?

I’ve got a fair amount of experience behind a gun, and though I’m not a sharpshooter I can hit my target and maintain a tight group. I’ve even done some defensive simulations through IDPA matches, which is a lot of fun on top of being practical. In short, while I don’t anticipate ever finding myself in a gunfight, I can reasonably expect I’ll be able to handle myself.

None of that prepares you for being on the other side of the gun. If a mugger were to step out of an alley and put a gun to my head, all the shooting practice in the world wouldn’t do me a lick of good.

Let’s assume for a moment I did have a gun holstered at the small of my back. While IDPA match stages do start with a draw (or a similar retrieval, such as from a nightstand or glove compartment), it’s not quickdraw. Even if I did practice quickdraw, I find it hard to believe I’d get a shot off before the mugger. As such, I might as well not have the gun at all.

This, I feel, is a much more likely scenario than a gunfight. As such, when my karate school offered a gun defense seminar on Saturday, I signed up. I also thought it would be a lot of fun, like my Shuri-ryu instruction (truth be told, fun was the bigger motivator than self-defense concerns). That afternoon I handed over a check, bowed onto the mat, found a partner, and was issued an orange, rubber handgun.

The first thing we learned was the only defense if a shooter is twenty feet or so away: run like hell. The theory here is convicts don’t practice their shooting, so your chances of being hit are low. Unlike what you see in the movies, it’s actually fairly difficult to hit a moving target. In fact, if you’re not taking the time to aim, it’s difficult to hit a stationary target, and your neighborhood mugger probably isn’t going to take the time to line up his sights before squeezing the trigger.

With that covered, we got into the meat of the seminar. My second lesson came after watching my partner nearly get crippled: don’t volunteer for shit. (By the end of the night, if Shihan Walker asked “who’s got a gun?”, most people quickly dropped theirs on the mat and backed away.) We covered several methods, all dependent upon where the person put the gun. Face, back of the head, side, middle of the back, gut, it didn’t matter. The cool thing was there were only a few basic moves that covered all of the situations, so it was just a matter of applying them to the appropriate side if necessary. We even covered what if the mugger held the gun with two hands, what if he had your lapel in one hand and pressed the gun to the underside of your jaw, and what if the mugger had a hand around your shoulders/neck and the gun to your temple. Finally, he demonstrated a couple we didn’t practice, such as if the mugger held a hostage.

The moves we learned come from the Haganah and Mike Lee Kanarek’s F.I.G.H.T. system. Haganah is a compilation of Israeli fighting techniques borrowed from styles like Krav Maga. Shihan Walker also teaches Haganah at the Academy of Okinawan Karate, and my sensei, Trent Miller, gave me a taste in class once. I can tell you, the Israelis don’t screw around. I’d sign up in a heartbeat if it didn’t cost so much (in addition to what I’m paying for my karate lessons, that is — on its own it’s no more expensive than a martial arts course).

You can see one of the gun disarms in a video on the FIGHT website (or just click here). In that video, you see part of the first disarm (pushing the gun to the side), and then he finishes by demonstrating the disarm with the gun pointed to the face or forehead. Like many of the disarms we learned, they’re uncomfortable for the attacker and he may even end up shooting himself. We also saw what would happen if the mugger held his gun to the victim’s forehead in a gangsta grip; chances are he’d lose all the skin on his trigger finger.

I was skeptical at first, knowing what I do about guns and their operation. I’m not entirely confident even the strongest of grips will be able to prevent the slide on a semi-auto from rocking back if a shot were fired, and assuming you could keep a revolver’s cylinder from rotating in double-action, it wouldn’t matter if the hammer were already cocked back. There’s also the question of searing-hot gases escaping from an ejection port, around the cylinder, or through barrel vents.

The good news is I do think a victim could get out of the way of the shot if the disarms were executed properly. We tried to “shoot” Shihan and one another several times, and if there’s any real speed, the victim is out of the line of fire before the shot is fired. A semi-auto would jam because the spent case would not be able to eject through your hand. A revolver would be questionable, as I’m not sure how tough it would be to keep the cylinder from rotating. An empty revolver is easy enough to test, but testing an automatic would take a set of welding gloves and a giant pair of brass balls.

It may be a moot point, anyway. If the intended victim reacts fast enough, there won’t be a second shot. At least one disarm would result in the mugger shooting himself, and with the rest the gun would be in the victim’s hand before the second squeeze. There’s also a good chance the mugger is on the ground nursing a ruined finger, in a daze, or even unconscious.

Which leaves the final question of what to do with the gun now that it’s in your hands. Personally, I’d hold the perp there until the cops showed up. But what if he doesn’t think I can get the shot off? What if he assumes I won’t shoot him, or won’t have good aim?

Then I get to ask him a simple question:

Do you feel lucky, punk?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.