Combative Anatomy: Using a knife for self defense

After writing the post about how to fight a dog, I got to thinking about how little information is freely available about using weapons in self defense against humans. Many people carry a pocket knife daily (I’ve carried one every day since I was nine years old), many of them with thoughts of using it as a defensive weapon if they needed to. But almost no one gives the actual how to use it part more than a passing thought. This is some basic information on how to use a knife as a defensive weapon.

Before I get started I need to get something out of the way.

  1. Using a knife against another human is considered use of deadly force (even showing a knife is a crime in most places if it is not a clear cut case of self defense). If you would not be justified in shooting and killing the other person, don’t pull out the knife.
  2. If you pull a knife in self defense, you need to be 110% committed to using it, quickly and violently. If you are not, do not pull out the knife.

WARNING:

This post is going to cover some very graphic information about causing massive trauma to another human with a sharp and pointy weapon. If you are at all squeamish, you probably don’t want to read any further.

DISCLAIMER:

I am not telling you to do anything here. This does not constitute legal advice. If you use any of this information in a situation other than self defense, you will go to prison.

Notice that the title of this post is “Using a knife for self defense”, not “How to fight with a knife”. Self defense is something you do when everything else has failed, and you are now in a fight for your life. Fighting with a knife is something you do just before going to prison. Even if you are 100% justified in using a knife as a defensive weapon, you are probably going to have legal troubles because of it, and you are definitely going to have psychological troubles because of it.

This is not a post about conflict resolution, or violence deterrence or avoidance. These are your first lines of defense. This post covers what to do when everything has failed, and you are in a fight for your life against another human (or multiple attackers). This is not going to be nice, it is going to be extremely graphic.

If you’re still reading, I hope this information can be used to save your life if you are ever in the unenviable situation of having to fight for your life, but the information in this post is not going to do it all by itself. Physical combat is something that must be trained and practiced if you want to perform any better than half-assed (at best). If you carry a knife for self defense, I highly urge you to get some training on how to use it properly. In the realm of knife use I think Tom Sotis’ AMOK! system is about the best training you can find.

If you carry a knife for self defense you need to ask yourself a very serious question; can I cut/stab another human, possibly resulting in their death?

Using a knife as a weapon is very intimate, you are going to be very close to the damage you cause. You are going to be traumatized by it.

You need to know that if you use a knife on a human, you are going to see a LOT of blood, and probably a good sliced open chunk of meat. If you want to know what a real knife wound looks like (this is really, really graphic) take a look at some of the images here.

Could you do that to another human if your life is on the line? Only you can answer that question, but you must answer that question if you are going to carry a knife as a defensive weapon.

It is rather easy to think that you could, but I know men who have shot people and tell me that they could never use a knife on another person.

The concept I am trying to convey is very difficult to communicate correctly. There is a lot of macho “I could totally cut that guy up” crap that you need to put aside, and really consider what the consequences of you actions (or potential actions) are. Marc MacYoung (who knows a thing or two about self defense) really sums it up well in this post on his website. I really urge you to read that and understand that there are rather steep costs to using a knife against another person.

Just something to think about.

Let’s get started with some basic anatomy:

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Anyone who has taken anatomy in college (or in high school even) will be able to tell that this is not 100% accurate and to scale, but it is close enough for our purposes. If you really want to get a strong grasp of where vital targets are on a human, pick up a copy of Gray’s Anatomy (paperback is your best bet here).

Unlike when fighting a dog, humans have a deep and instinctive fear of knives. It is possible that simply brandishing a blade will cause your attacker to have a change of mind, and suddenly remember that he has something else that urgently requires his immediate attention, but I would not rely on that. I prefer that an attacker not know that I am armed until I am using whatever weapon it may be on them. Just be aware that brandishing, while it may effectively deter the attack, is generally also a crime.

If you decide to show the attacker that you are armed and they back off, you should do two things immediately:

  • Leave the area.
  • Call the police to report what just happened.

You need to leave because criminals have a funny way of deciding that your knife wasn’t quite so scary when they get somewhere where they can get reinforcements or other weapons, neither of which is usually far away from where they choose to commit their crimes.

You need to call the police and report the incident so that the attacker who you just scared off doesn’t have a stroke of “genius” and decide to call the police and report that you threatened him with a knife while he was helping an old lady to cross the street (which has happened more than once).

When using a knife for self defense you have two basic strikes; slash and stab.

Slashing targets

Figure 1 – Click to enlarge

Figure 2 – Click to enlarge

Figure 3

Since the human body is (more or less) symmetrical, the targets shown are in the same place (roughly) on either the left or right side of the body.

Point A in Figure 1 is the Superficial Temporal Artery which runs along the outside of the skull across the temple (shown better in Figure 2). If cut this will bleed profusely.

Point B in Figure 1 is the side of the neck and throat just about even with the adam’s apple. This area contains the Carotid Artery and Jugular Vein. If either is cut the attacker will bleed to death very rapidly. The Carotid is approximately 1.5″ below the surface of the skin, so a powerful slash will be needed to reach it, however if severed unconsciousness will result in approximately 5-15 seconds (assuming no chemical stimulation). Be wary, as drugged up attackers may continue to fight on for up to a full minute.

Point C in Figure 1 is the trapezius muscle. This muscle is responsible for much of the shoulder movement.

Point D in Figure 1 is a cut to the outer side of the pectoral muscle. This should be a powerful slash. If done horizontally and continued out to the arm it can potentially sever the cephalic vein which will bleed profusely.

Point E in Figure 1 is a cut across the front of the deltoid muscle. If done powerfully it may sever the cephalic vein.

Point F in Figure 1 is a slashing cut across the biceps. This muscle is responsible for much of the motion of the arm and contains multiple veins.

Point G in Figure 1 is a slashing cut across the inside of the elbow joint. In addition to the numerous veins (shown as point B in Figure 3), this area also contains the ligaments that enable motion in the forearm.

Point H in Figure 1 is a horizontal cut across the forehead. This area is dense with veins, and will bleed profusely when cut, potentially blinding your attacker.

Point I in Figure 1 is a vertical cut across the cheek and jaw. This area contains some of the major nerves in the face and will be extremely painful.

Point J in Figure 1 is a horizontal cut across the neck and throat. This area contains not only the Jugular Vein, but the trachea and ligaments that control movement of the head.

Point K in Figure 1 is the trapezius muscle closer to the neck.

Point L in Figure 1 is a powerful slash across the pectoral muscle. A deep cut here will destroy the attacker’s ability to throw punches with any power behind them.

Point M in Figure 1 is a powerful vertical slash to the abdomen. Successful penetration of the abdominal wall here will result in loss of motion, and possible disembowelment.

Point N in Figure 1 is a powerful horizontal slash to the abdomen. Successful penetration of the abdominal wall here will result in loss of motion, and possible disembowelment.

Point O in Figure 1 is a penetrating slash to the inside of the forearm between the radius and ulna bones. Penetration of more then one inch will sever a great deal of veins (shown as Point C in Figure 3)and result in rapid blood loss.

Point P in Figure 1 is a slash across the back of the head starting at the top rear of the ear and ending near the center of the skull. There is a group of minor arteries that run across the outside of the skull here (shown in Figure 2), and will bleed profusely if severed.

Point Q in Figure 1 is a slash across the outside edge of the shoulder blade, and will result in loss of motion in the shoulder.

Point R in Figure 1 is a vertical slash down the back between the spine and shoulder blade. This group of muscles is responsible for much of the motion of the upper torso.

Point S in Figure 1 is a vertical slash across the rib cage and kidney area. This will be extremely painful and result in loss of motion.

Point T in Figure 1 is a horizontal slash across the back of the neck. In addition to the numerous veins here, these muscles control much of the motion of the head.

Point U in Figure 1 is a slash to the rear of the trapezius muscle which will result in loss of motion in the shoulder.

Point V in Figure 1 is a slash through the muscles in the back between the lower edge of the shoulder blade and spine, curving to follow the shoulder blade. This will be extremely painful and result in loss of motion in the upper torso.

Point W in Figure 1 is a horizontal cut across the lower back. This area is highly dense with nerves and will result in massive pain and loss of motion in the upper torso.

Figure 2 gives a better view of arterial structure in the head and neck.

Point A in Figure 3 is the brachial artery that runs along the inside of the arm. This artery is deep, but severing it will result in unconsciousness in as little as 15 seconds, and death in as little as 90 seconds.

Point C in Figure 3 is the radial artery (this artery runs across the top of the radius bone 2-4 inches behind the base of your thumb). Severing the radial artery can result in unconsciousness in as little as 30 seconds, and death in as little as two minutes.

Stabbing targets

Figure 4 – Click to enlarge

Point A in Figure 4 is the side of the neck just behind the adams apple, approximately 2-2.5 inches from the front of the throat. This is ideally a thrust with the blade perpendicular to the spine, and cutting out the front of the neck. If done correctly this will sever the carotid and trachea, resulting in loss of consciousness in as little as 5 seconds and death in as little as 12 seconds.

Point B in Figure 4 is the inside of the right armpit, with the blade parallel to the ribs. If done correctly this will pass between the 3rd and 4th rib perforating the right lung. This is a risky target due to potential for the blade to bind in the ribcage.

Point C in Figure 4 is a thrust up and under the right side of the ribcage, done at a 45 degree angle into the liver. Depending on the severity of the damage to the liver this can result in unconsciousness in as little as 1 minute, and death in as little as 5 minutes.

Point D in Figure 4 is the subclavian artery located approximately 2.5 inches below the point shown, just behind the collar bone. Severing of the subclavian artery will result in unconsciousness in as little as 2 seconds, and death in as little as 3.5 seconds.

Point E in Figure 4 is the inside of the left armpit, with the blade parallel to the ribs. If done correctly the thrust will pass between the 3rd and 4th rib perforating the left lung and the heart if the blade is of sufficient length (documented cases of blades as small as 3.5 inches successfully piercing the heart exist). Piercing the heart can result in instant unconsciousness and death in as little as 3 seconds. This is a risky target due to potential for the blade to bind in the ribcage.

Point F in Figure 4 is the center of the abdomen, approximately 1 to 4 inches above the navel. Approximately 5 inches below the skin is the Descending Aorta (the largest artery in the body) and Inferior Vena Cava (the largest vein in the body). Severing either can result in unconsciousness in as little as 1-2 seconds and death in as little as 3-5 seconds.

Point G in Figure 4 is just behind the bottom of the ear. This hollow is the only point that an average person may be able to pierce the skull with a knife. Long narrow blades have the best chance of reaching the brain. A solid thrust here can result in instantaneous death. This is a risky target due to potential for the blade to bind in the skull (or jaw if done incorrectly).

Point H in Figure 4 is a thrust to either kidney. Puncturing a kidney can cause near instant unconsciousness, and death within as little as one minute. The Kidneys are connected to the body by the Suprarenal veins, which are rather large, so even if the kidney is not punctured, a thrust here may still sever one of these and result in rapid loss of consciousness.

Considerations

Carrying a pocket knife, and carrying a pocket knife with the express intent to be able to use it as a self defense tool are two completely different things. Until I was about 15 I carried a swiss army type of knife in the bottom of one of my pockets. This is going to be almost useless in a situation where you will need a knife as a self defense tool. Chances are, if you need to use a knife in self defense, you are going to need to have the knife open and in your hand about 5 seconds ago.

Some things you’ll want to consider if you are carrying a knife for self defense:

  • How quick can you get the knife open and in your hand?
  • Can you open the knife with one hand?
  • Can you reach the knife with either hand?
  • Can you deploy the knife if someone grabs you from behind and pins both of your arms to your sides?

In another post I’ll cover the criteria that I use to select a knife that may be used as a defensive tool.

Modifying the FourSevens QT2A-X for daily carry: the Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition

In my last post I mentioned that the QT2A-X was larger than my previous carry light (the Fenix LD10). In this post I’ll show you what I did about that.

After carrying the QT2A-X for a week There are some things I would like to change about it. The length needs to be brought down to something smaller (I can manage with the QT2A-X’s size, and for prolonged use it’s actually pretty comfortable, but at 5.8 inches I have to use the pocket clip, as it won’t sit right in my pocket unless it is clipped to it. On that note, with the standard pocket clip it rides a wee bit too high to be comfortable when I am sitting and standing frequently (I am constantly getting up and sitting back down in my job, so this became apparent pretty rapidly).

So how do we make it better?

My ideal carry light would have the following characteristics:

  1. High power – at least 100 lumenspreferably 200 lumens (more is better).
  2. Tailcap switch with momentary on capabilities.
  3. Small enough to carry comfortably, but big enough to fit comfortably in my hand (so right around 4 inches long and an inch around, for me).
  4. Runs on common cheap batteries (CR123A’s are ok, AA’s are better).
  5. Water resistant (waterproof would be better).
  6. Impact resistant.
  7. Grippy but won’t shred my pocket.
  8. Detachable pocket clip.
  9. User replaceable parts (at least of high wear parts like the tail switch boot and switch).
  10. Multiple light modes for use as an actual flashlight when I need to see something.
  11. Won’t roll off a table or car hood if set down.

So, with that feature set in mind how does the QT2A-X stack up?

  1. Yes (280 lumen max output!).
  2. Yes.
  3. Not really.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes (waterproof).
  6. Yes.
  7. Yes.
  8. Yes.
  9. Yes.
  10. Yes.
  11. Kinda (with the pocket clip attached it won’t).

So it looks like length is the only issue. In my last post I mentioned how my friend was telling me that the Quark series lights are like legos. He’s right. There are a huge variety of interchangeable parts. I could put an L series body on the QT2A-X, which will shorten it considerably. The drawback being that the light would have to be run on a CR123A battery. The ability to run on AA batteries is a huge bonus for me as I have a ton of things that run on AA batteries, and consequently I have a big pile of Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries. This cuts down on the total cost of ownership, in that I essentially don’t have to buy batteries for a light that runs on AA cells. I’d really like to keep the light running on AA batteries, but that length has to go if I’m going to carry the light on a daily basis.

I could put an A series body on the QT2A-X, but this would bring the light down to approximately 110 lumens max output, and then I might as well have just bought a QTA and saved some money. The head on the QT2A-X light can operate at anywhere from 0.9v to 4.2v. What I need is a battery the size of an AA that puts out 3 volts or better (AA batteries are 1.5 volts, CR123A batteries are 3 volts).

Enter the 14500

In doing some research on batteries I discovered that this problem has already been solved! The 14500 lithium-ion cell has a nominal voltage of 3.7v (with max being 4.2v), and is the size of an AA cell. Like it was made for this flashlight. It will drive the XM-L emitter at slightly higher output than two AA cells, or even a single CR123A. This gets me a light that can put out 280-300 lumens (this is a guess, per FourSevens technical support a single CR123A or two AA batteries will put out the same amount of light, and an RCR123A or 14500 cell will put out just a bit more), and if the battery dies before I can recharge it, I can run a single AA cell in it for approximately 110 lumens of output. Perfect.

So what do I need to reconfigure this light?

Since I’m already tearing down the light I might as well change out the pocket clip for the “Deep Carry” pocket clip that FourSevens sells. So I placed two orders. One from FourSevens for an A series body and the Deep Carry pocket clip, and one from Lighthound for an AW 14500 Protected battery, and an Ultrafire WF-139 Charger.

WARNING:

If you are going to use 14500 cells in a flashlight I really recommend that you only use protected cells. This page on the lighthound website details very well why this is.

Reconfiguration

All the parts arrived in about 5 business days (I’m in California and used USPS standard shipping for both orders), so now it’s time to get to work reconfiguring the flashlight.

Click to enlarge

You’ll notice that there are two Deep Carry pocket clips, and a regular clip on the A Series body in this photo. The FourSevens site lists the Deep Carry pocket clip for $7. I ordered one, they sent two. That’s good customer service.

First thing I noticed is that I couldn’t get the pocket clip off. There is a retaining ring that screws down over the tension band that holds the clip on the light which must be loosened all the way to remove the pocket clip (which I did, but it still wouldn’t come off) shown here:

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As it turns out, you’re going to have to remove the o-ring that is above this band and under the tailcap to get the pocket clip off. Here is the light all disassembled:

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Let’s reassemble the light into it’s new configuration, the QTECE (Quark Tactical Exigent Circumstances Edition):

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How does this compare (in size) to the Fenix LD10 that it is replacing?

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The lights are almost precisely the same size.

Only the QTECE puts out nearly three times as much light as the Fenix LD10.

My only complaint (and I’ll admit it is a minor one) is that the bend radius on the Deep Carry pocket clip is too narrow to seat fully on the pocket of my jeans, but is still much better than the standard pocket clip.

Click to enlarge

Other than that, this light is now as close as anything I can find to my ideal carry light.

I’m all about versatility. I now have a light that can run on a single 14500 cell (at full 280-300 lumen output), one AA battery (at ~110 lumen output), or with a quick body change two AA batteries (at full 280 lumen output). If I want to increase the versatility of this light, I can also buy a Quark L Series body, and have a light that can run on a CR123A (at 280 lumen output) or a RCR123A cell (at 280-300 lumen output) as well.

If you noticed, the Quark bodies come with two delrin caps that not only protect the threads, they make the body into a convenient spare battery carrier, I can keep the 2A series body (with two AA batteries), and the L series body (with a CR123A battery) in my laptop bag, and I have multiple power source options that I can change out to in just a few seconds if my 14500 cell dies on me.

The only way this light could be better is if it could put out 500+ lumens on a single AA battery. Judging by the advances in LED emitter technology, I’ll only have to wait about another decade for that.

Gear Review: FourSevens QT2A-X flashlight

Like everything in life, tools evolve. I’ve been carrying a flashlight every day for about 15 years in some form or other, and about 10 years ago I decided to get serious about it.

I started with a SureFire 6z combat light (which by today’s standards is huge for the paltry 60 lumens it put out, considering it was powered by 2 CR123A batteries). A few years later I bought an iNova light (I can’t even remember the model) that put out 100 lumens (now powered by 3 CR123A batteries). The quest for more power was on.

About two years ago I discovered Fenix flashlights, and felt that my quest had come to an end when I bought an LD10. Here was a light that was small enough to fit in my pocket that put out 120 lumens (I got the special “Q” model with the Cree R5 emitter) and it could run on a single AA battery (this was a major coup, as I have tons of things that use AA batteries)!

All was well until I found the FourSevens website. They had lights that could outshine my Fenix LD10 by a considerable margin, but the single AA powered QTA light only puts out 109 lumens, so I felt that I was still at the pinnacle of technology with my Fenix LD10. Boy was I wrong.

So about two months ago I was telling a friend about how superior my LD10 was when he pulled out a FourSevens QT2L and lit up the night to the tune of about 230 lumens. I was impressed, here was a light that was about the same size as my (now severly underpowered) Fenix LD10, but it ran on two CR123A batteries. I’d decided that I wanted to move away from the CR123A batteries, as they’re just too expensive, and not common enough for my tastes, and I mentioned this to my friend. To which he replied “well then just get a QT2A, it runs off of two AA batteries and for like $20 you could put an L series body on it and get the same output with a single CR123A, these things are like legos.”

Say what? So I decided to take another look at the FourSevens lights, and when I saw the 280 lumen QT2A-X, I just had to have one. Sure, it’s about one and three quarters inches longer than my Fenix LD10, but it puts out almost three times as much light, and it runs on AA batteries. Here are the technical specs for the QT2A-X from FourSevens’ website:

DIMENSIONS Length: 5.8 inches/Body diameter: 0.86 inches/Head diameter: 0.86 inches/Weight (without batteries): 2.2 oz
LED EMITTER CREE XM-L
VOLTAGE RANGE 0.9V-4.2V
SPOT BEAM Angle: 11°/Diameter at 3mm: 580mm
FLOOD BEAM Angle: 71.9?/Diameter at 3mm: 4.3M
BRIGHTNESS LEVELS Moonlight: 0.3 lumens, 15 days / Low: 2.7 lumens, 3 days / Medium: 24 lumens, 20 hrs / High: 115 lumens, 2.5 hrs / Maximum: 280 lumens, 0.8 hrs
SPECIAL MODES Strobe: 280 lumens, 1.6 hrs / SOS: 280 lumens, 3 hrs / Beacon: 0-280 lumens pulse, 8 hrs
REFLECTOR Textured
BODY MATERIAL Type-III hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
BEZEL MATERIAL Type-III hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
LENS MATERIAL Impact-resistant glass, sapphire coating, antireflective coating
INCLUDED ACCESSORIES Batteries, lanyard, split ring for keychain attachment, spare o-ring, holster, hand-grip

Unboxing

Here is the package as I received it:

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The front flap is held closed with magnets, and gives a good overview of most of the light’s features:

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Here is a shot of the contents (the specs list a single spare o-ring, mine had two):

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A shot of my light unboxed:

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Close up of the tailcap:

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And a shot of the CREE XM-L emitter:

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The User Interface

FourSevens has two interfaces in their Quark line, the Pro Interface and the Tactical Interface. The Pro Interface gives the user quick access to the lowest and the highest settings based on whether or not the head is tightened all the way, and other modes can be accessed by cycling through them with the tail switch. The Tactical Interface can be programmed with any two modes based on whether or not the head is tightened all the way, no other modes are immediately accessible.

Why I chose the QT2A-X

I Would liked to have used the Pro Interface (it would be nice to have easy access to all of the other modes that the light supports), but the Pro series tailcaps do not allow momentary on use of the light. The flashlight I carry is primarily a weapon. It’s primary use is to blind an attacker sewing confusion and creating disarray, use as an actual lighting implement is secondary by a long shot. That being my primary concern, it is extremely useful to be able to momentarily activate the light without locking it on all the way. Had I put more thought into it, I probably would have purchased a QP2A-X (the Pro Interface version of this light), and a Tactical tailcap for another $9. I don’t mind, I found that with the Fenix LD10 I only really ever used the highest and lowest settings anyway, however I am glad I got the Tactical Interface because the lowest setting on the QT2A-X is too low to be really useful (though nice to have in an emergency situation where battery life becomes a major concern).

The QT2A-X uses the CREE XM-L emitter, which compared to the XP-G is a bit more “floody”. If you want more “throw” to your light, the QT2A uses the CREE XP-G emitter which puts out slightly less light, but has a tighter focus, so it delivers that light in a much tighter beam. As I mentioned, my primary use for this light is as a weapon, and I want to be sure that an assailant gets the full power of the light in their eyes as soon as I activate it. Having a wider “hot spot” in the beam is an advantage at the ranges I am concerned with.

I also mentioned that the light was a bit larger than my Fenix LD10, which I found to actually be a good thing that I’ll cover in another post.

Conclusion

The FourSevens QT2A-X is a much higher quality light than the Fenix LD10, and the interchangeability of the Quark line’s parts makes it far more versatile than any other flashlight with similar features. The build quality on the QT2A-X is superior, with the model markings on the head actually being machined into the head, so even when the print wears they will still be readable (unlike the markings on the LD10).

The QT2A-X has nice crisp knurling in all the necessary places, whereas the Fenix LD10 only has knurling on the tailcap (and since the head must be turned to change modes, this never made much sense to me). The knurling is just aggressive enough to make the light grippy, but not aggressive to the point that I feel like it is going to tear up my pockets. You can see the difference in the quality and placement of the knurling in these photos:

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The QT2A-X can be purchased directly from FourSevens for $78, but I found mine at another online retailer for about $65 which brings this light into the same price range as the Fenix LD10.

Summary

MANUFACTURER:  FourSevens
MODEL:  
Quark Tactical QT2A-X
POWER SOURCE:  AA cell (x2)
COLOR:
  Black
MSRP:  
$78.00
WARRANTY:  
10 year manufacturer’s warranty on everything that comes in the package (except batteries)
VERDICT:  
In my opinion the QT2A-X is the top of the line flashlight for my needs, at a price that is almost unbelievable.

Combative Anatomy: How to fight a dog

Before I get into this I want to preface by saying I HAVE AND LOVE DOGS.

I am not anti dog, nor am I advocating abusing or beating them.

One of the realities of life however is that there are occasions when dogs attack humans. This video has been making the rounds on Facebook and twitter recently.

I know several people who have been attacked by dogs, I’ve been attacked by dogs

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who buy dogs for the express purpose of making them aggressive (this is especially the case in larger cities), and who then ignore the dogs, do not properly restrain them, or simply let them go when they cannot afford to feed them. The sad fact is that dog fighting is still widely prevalent in many parts of our country, and in some areas increasing in popularity (California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the latter).

Most of the people who will read this will be of the “I’ll just shoot the dog until it’s dead” mentality. I recommend this fully, however there are times that it is either not possible (you are surprised, are a police officer in London, etc.), or it is simply not prudent (there are people around who may be hit by gunfire, whatever). It is important to remember that if the dog manages to bite you and you are able to shoot it, try not to shoot it in the head (a vet needs an intact cranium to test for rabies, and anti rabies shots suck).

WARNING:

In this post I am going to discuss violent and graphic methods of delivering massive trauma to canines. It was very difficult for me to write this post, because I love dogs. If you are squeamish, you may not want to read any further. I wrote this post because dog attacks do happen, and I couldn’t find any other good information on how to defend yourself against them.

There are three scenarios that I’m going to examine in this post; fighting a dog with a stick or other impact weapon, fighting a dog with a knife or edged weapon, and fighting a dog with your bare hands. I choose these three scenarios because I think these are most likely to be how people will be fighting dogs, and because I have had to fight dogs using all three methods (I’m not sure why but there have been five separate times when I have had occasion to fight a dog). I think for most people this is a scary thought, partly because we’ve all seen what an aggressive dog can do, and partly because most people don’t really know anything about the nuts and bolts of how to go about fighting a dog. You can’t just throw punches at it and win. You’ve got to understand how to disable your opponent. When faced with an aggressive dog attack you only have two options; immobilize or incapacitate the dog.

Basic dog anatomy 101

First lets take a look at the skeletal structure of your average dog, and how we can relate that to humans:

Figure 1 (Click to enlarge)


Figure 2 (Click to enlarge)


Canine Skeleton

Figure 3 (Click to enlarge)

You’ll notice that dogs are structurally… kinda similar to people. Understanding the similarities and differences can help you to develop a strategy that will help you handle an attacking dog.

Fighting a dog with a stick or impact weapon

Your basic tactics when fighting humans with a stick or impact weapon are to break bones, or cause pain. Dogs have a much higher pain threshold than your average human, so you will probably not be able to end a dog attack through use of pain. Again; immobilize or incapacitate are our only options.

There are basically two ways you can fight a dog with an impact weapon: you can attempt to keep them at distance with strikes from the impact weapon, or you can try to get them to focus on the impact weapon and use hand to hand tactics to inflict damage to the animal. If you’re using a shorter stick for example, you may want to try to get the dog occupied with trying to bite it so that you can avoid being bitten yourself while maneuvering into position to apply a choke hold.

Obviously you want something long and heavy if you have your choice of impact weapons, but the fight will be what it is, not what you want it to be. You have two primary targets on a dog with an impact weapon: the head and the legs.

Head strikes will likely be more to divert the dog from biting you, or to maneuver the dog into a position where you can better strike at it’s legs. Striking the dog in the muzzle or nose will be extremely painful for the dog and may result in the dog moving back and away from the strike, leaving the foreleg exposed for a powerful strike.

Your primary target should be the two slender bones of the front legs, between the shoulders and feet, marked as point 7 and 9 in Figure 3 above. These are high value targets as they are relatively thin and if broken will completely immobilize the dog (they will still be able to bite, so be wary). Most often, the dog will be coming at you head on, making strikes to the rear legs a very risky proposition, as it will expose you to bites from the dog. Do not over extend yourself to land a strike on a rear leg. Rear legs are low value targets because you must strike them in very specific ways to break them or dislocate the joints, and the leg bones are much thicker than the fore legs.

If your impact weapon has great heft (like a hammer, a large rock, or a baseball bat), you may want to try for a decisive head strike. Be wary of over extending yourself with a committed strike though, as dogs are generally very nimble and a missed strike at the cranium could easily lead to a counter attack from the dog that leaves you bleeding or knocks you to the ground.

Strikes to the ribs or spine may be effective, but will have to be extremely powerful to cause enough injury to immobilize or incapacitate the dog.

Fighting a dog with a knife or edged weapon

Humans have an instinctive and primal fear of knives when used as weapons. Dogs do not. You are not going to frighten a dog by pulling a knife on it. If you are facing an aggressive dog and have only a knife to defend yourself, you have only one objective: incapacitate the dog as quickly as possible through destroying the dog’s ability to move, breathe, or through massive blood loss.

Figure 4 shows a cut away of a dog, giving us several targets for attack with a knife.

Figure 4 (Click to enlarge)


Figure 5

Something to keep in mind is that dog’s muscles are extremely dense. Some of the target areas discussed here will require quite a bit of force to reach effectively, and the dog is not going to sit still while you saw at it.

When defending against the dog with a knife, it is highly likely that you will be bitten. It is imperative that you not allow the dog to bite the hand or arm that you are holding the knife in. If the dog gets its teeth in that arm it is very likely that you are going to lose the knife.

Point A in Figure 4 is a target area under the jaw, and between the bones of the mandible. This is a target of opportunity. If you can thrust up into the mouth with a knife here it is possible to then push back and down, possibly severing several arteries, and piercing or severing the windpipe. This will lead to rapid incapacitation.

Point B in Figure 4 is a target just forward of the dogs spinal column in the neck, preferably a thrust into the side of the neck, and pulling the blade back towards the front of the throat, resulting in a complete severing of the trachea, and several arteries. More muscular dogs (such as the pitbull, rottweiler, and shepards) will be more protected in this area, making this is very difficult target to attack effectively. If you are facing a dog that is extremely muscular in this area (see Figure 2 for a depiction of how canine muscles wrap the chest and neck), it is a better tactic to thrust into this area as deeply, rapidly, and as many times as you can, potentially severing one or more arteries.

Point C in Figure 4 is targeting a major artery cluster located to either side of the canine spine just about even with the leading edge of the rear leg. This is a thrusting target, once the knife is plunged into this area, it should be worked back and forth and side to side as rapidly and as violently as possible. Puncturing any of these arteries (or better, severing them) will result in rapid incapacitation of the animal.

Point D in Figure 4 is targeting the musculature and ligaments of the forelegs. This is a target of opportunity, and if successfully used can lead to immobilization of the dog.

Point E in Figure 4 is targeting the diaphragm and intestinal cavity of the dog. A thrust into this area from underneath starting just below the rib cage and pushing or pulling back towards the rear legs will likely disembowel the canine, while also possibly severing several arteries and major veins, or damaging several vital organs.

Point F in Figure 4 is targeting the large muscle groups and tendons on the front of the hind legs. This is a target of opportunity, successfully delivered powerful slashes to these areas can immobilize the dog, as well as potentially severing major veins.

Point G in Figure 4 is targeting the tendons and large muscle groups on the rear of the hind legs. This is a target of opportunity. Successfully delivered powerful slashes or thrusts pulled out to the rear can immobilize the dog, as well as potentially severing major veins.

You can see in Figure 5 that (as is the case with humans) dogs have several arteries that run under the jaw and around the skull. These arteries are relatively close to the surface of the tissue, and severing any of them will result in rapid blood loss. The chest area of most dogs is very heavily muscled (as shown in Figure 2 above), and can be rather difficult to penetrate effectively. If you have a large heavy fixed blade knife, the area where the arteries converge in the chest may be a viable target, but should probably be avoided with a folding knife.

These are not the only targets available, but are the targets that are most likely to result in rapid incapacitation.

Fighting a dog with your bare hands

This is a situation that almost guarantees that you will get bit. I’ve had to fight two dogs with my bare hands, and have been bitten both times. It’s almost unavoidable.

If it is going to happen, why not try to minimize the damage? In virtually every case, an attacking dog will bite the first thing that comes near its mouth.

In some cases this will be your groin (very bad), or your abdomen (not good either), but usually this is not a dog’s first choice for attack.

Dogs tend to attack by leaping into your chest with their front paws in an attempt to push you down, so frequently the first thing near their mouth is one of your hands or arms (there are plenty of videos available on the internet where you can see this behavior. Police dogs are trained specifically to attack like this, in large part because this is a natural attack for a dog against a taller opponent).

If you can get a piece of clothing in the dogs mouth rather than a piece of your body, great! Do it! If you have a few moments warning that the dog is going to attack you, wrap whatever you have around your ‘weak’ forearm (jacket, sweater, tee shirt, anything helps), and let the dog bite that rather than an unprotected limb.

If you have the gumption to follow through with it jam your hand in its mouth and either grab its tongue with a death grip, or try as hard as you can to shove your fist down its throat.

In 2005 a 73 year old man in Nairobi killed an attacking Leopard by pulling it’s tongue out. Dogs will not bite down if you have hold of their tongue for fear of severing their own tongue. If you are going to try this I highly recommend that you use the other hand to control the dog’s head so that it cannot shake you off.

Remember that except in very rare cases, you are larger than the dog (if you’re fighting an aggressive dog that is bigger than you are, you’d better give it everything you’ve got because you’re in serious trouble). Use your size to your advantage. If you can manage to mount the dog and stay on top of it, it is quite likely that you can hold the dog down until help can be called, or you can figure out how to incapacitate the dog.

Unless you are the fastest human on the planet, you are not going to be able to outrun the dog, so don’t even try. You do not want an aggressive dog falling on you from behind. The best thing you can do it is to face the dog squarely, do not look it directly in the eye (if you are wearing sunglasses take them off, as dogs see them as big, staring, unblinking eyes that are looking right at them), which is a sign that you are challenging the dog.

Yell at the dog, wave your arms, but do not back away. If you retreat, or show fear the dog will attack you. If you stand your ground, and do not directly challenge the dog by advancing on it, or retreating it may decide that it does not want to attack you.

If you are wearing a belt you can use as a weapon, do so! Belts have several combat uses; you can whip the dog with the buckle end, use it as an improvised garrote or muzzle, and in the case of thick leather belts you can jam it into the dog’s mouth sideways (you’ll need to jam it all the way back to the mandibular joint for this to be more than a very temporary restraint) which can effectively prevent the dog from biting you.

You can use a shirt or jacket as an improvised muzzle, if you can get it over the dog’s head. Anything that you can use to give yourself an edge will help. If you have nothing and it’s mano a canis, you must incapacitate the dog as rapidly as possible.

Dogs noses are extremely sensitive, and easy to damage because they are very soft tissue. Any blow to a dog’s nose is going to be very painful and may cause the dog to pull away from you. Use this to your advantage.

If the dog jumps at you and you can manage to get your hands on its forelegs, jerk them straight out to the sides as hard as you can. Dog’s forelegs do not naturally bend this way and you can easily break the legs or separate joints effectively immobilizing the dog.

If you can manage to get your hand on top of its muzzle and not get bit, you can clamp the dog’s mouth shut and pin it to it’s chest which is also an effective way to prevent bites.

I’ll reiterate, you are bigger than the dog; pick the dog up and slam it into the ground (or wall or a car), or throw it over a fence (I’ve actually done this).

Keep in mind that dogs generally have much looser skin than humans. You can use this in the same way you would use lose clothing on a human attacker, to direct their motion, or as a handhold for applying leverage.

Dogs are susceptible to joint locks and chokes just as humans are (though in the case of a joint lock, you’ll probably want to go ahead and break the joint so you don’t get bit too much while trying to hold the joint lock). A rear naked choke works just as well on a pitbull as it does on a human, with the benefit that the dog cannot use its hands to try to break the choke (I choked out a pitbull once, it took a lot longer than it does for a human but it works).

Aggression is your friend. If you manage to back the dog off, or it turns to run, chase it while screaming like a madman. You want to drive the fact that you are dangerous and will hurt the dog into its primitive brain. Dogs that turn to run may only travel a short distance to regroup before bringing the fight right back to you. Do not assume that the dog is in full retreat.

If you manage to drive the dog off, leave the area and seek shelter immediately. You cannot be sure that it will not return.

Group tactics

In the video from London that is linked at the beginning of this post, you’ll notice that the cops pretty much abandoned the one being set upon by the dog. They could easily have overpowered the animal and minimized the extent of his injuries, had they simply coordinated their efforts (rather than wait for the guys with the guns to show up).

If a dog is attacking someone else; run up behind it, grab its rear legs lifting them off the ground, and pull them apart like they were a wishbone. This destroys the stability of the dog’s attack platform (if you’re strong enough it can also dislocate the hip joints or break the legs, immobilizing the dog), and makes it nearly impossible for the dog to bite the person it was attacking. Be aware though that if the dog is smart (or lucky) it may roll over onto it’s side and try to bite you.

Similarly, if you get the dog’s rear legs up in the air and notice that it is a male dog, kick those testicles like you are trying to set a record for the longest field goal in history. I saw this done to a pitbull that had locked its jaws on another dog, and the kick took the dog right out of the fight.

If there are several of you, pile on the dog and hold it down until you can immobilize it or help can be summoned.

 

Why firearms sales surge after shootings

As I knew would happen, firearms sales have risen after the July 20th spree shooting in Aurora Colorado.

The Associated Press likes to sensationalize things and declare that it’s due to fear, but that’s not the only reason, nor is it even the main reason. Of course fear will be the source of some of those increased sales, it is only a natural human reaction to want to defend oneself in the wake of such a horrible tragedy being splashed across every newpaper and news show in the nation.

One of the reasons is that incidents like this provide a catalyst. They are the final data point that pushes people who were previously considering buying a firearm to actually go do it. That’s not fear, it is simply another facet of the myriad reasons that people in this country purchase firearms every day.

Once of the commentators derisively stated that the surge is due to “ignorant gun owners being afraid that people were going to want to take their guns, just proving their ignorance.”

I’ve heard this drivel before.

I want to talk about that, the historical precedence of firearms laws being passed after shootings.

Of course as with every shooting that receives attention from the national media in the US, there are the inevitable calls for more laws to prevent these incidents. We’ve got the usual lineup of suspects, calling for banning “assault weapons” (rifles that are black and have plastic rather than wood), restricting the quantity of ammunition that a person can buy (which is just silly), and of course everyone’s perennial favorite; ban the “high capacity clips that make it possible to spray an endless stream of bullets”.

Each piece of major gun control legislation in the United States has been the result of a shooting (or several) that sparked public outrage, the four biggest being The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (which thankfully was allowed to sunset in 2004 by Congress), the (subverted by the Hughes Amendment) Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, The Gun Control Act of 1968, and the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Gun owners will generally agree that those four laws have had the most severe impact on firearms ownership in the United States (individual States have some big ones of their own, but these four impact everyone).

The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA)

Summary:

The National Firearms Act (“NFA”), enacted on June 26, 1934, is an Act of Congress that, in general, imposes a statutory excise tax on the manufacture and transfer ($200, the transfer tax for “AOW” weapons was reduced to $5 in 1938, however the manufacture tax remained at $200) of certain firearms and mandates the registration of those firearms.

All transfers of ownership of registered NFA firearms must be done through the federal NFA registry.

The NFA also requires that transport of NFA firearms across state lines by the owner must be reported to the ATF.

The following shootings are widely believed to have been directly responsible for the passage of the NFA:

Why lawful gun owners don’t like it:

At first glance the NFA doesn’t seem so onerous, until you stop to consider that in 1934 $5 is roughly the equivalent of $85 today. This meant that to purchase any weapon governed by the NFA the $200 tax (which is roughly the modern equivalent of $3400) placed those firearms well out of the reach of a vast majority of the population of the US. Even today the $200 transfer tax puts a not insignificant burden on any lawful gun owner desiring to purchase a weapon governed by the NFA (I make good money and $200 is quite a bit to me).

The NFA also required the registration of all firearms, making the mere possession of an unregistered firearm a Federal Crime. The registration requirement for firearms not specifically governed by the NFA was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1968.

But the NFA does not prevent criminals from obtaining these firearms. Interestingly enough it was not intended to. The intent of the NFA’s authors was to prevent private ownership or transfer of all effective self defense firearms by everyone except the rich who could afford the tax. This intent was thwarted by the removal of pistols from the list of firearms governed by the NFA shortly before its passage.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA’68)

Summary:

The Gun Control Act of 1968 had three primary features:

Creating and defining categories of “prohibited persons” who could not legally own firearms.

Establishing the FFL system, requiring firearms not transferred between private citizens to be through a Federally Licensed dealer.

Establishing import restrictions of foreign manufactured firearms (creating and implementing the “sporting purpose” test which barred the importation of military surplus rifles and implemented a “points” system for the import of foreign manufactured handguns).

The following shootings are widely believed to have been directly responsible for the passage of the GCA:

Why lawful gun owners don’t like it:

GCA ’68 was the first instance of the Federal government banning firearms. Prior to GCA ’68 there were no Federal laws that banned firearms, with the NFA of 1934 being the only Federal law to regulate firearms. Some of the people that this law prohibits from purchasing firearms should not be barred from owning an effective means of self defense, let alone barred for life with no recourse.

The ban on the import of certain foreign manufactured firearms because they “serve no sporting purpose” is arbitrary, and entirely too vague. The whole law generally sets a bad precedent.

And yet again, we have a law that does not prevent criminals from getting their hands on these weapons. While the GCA may make it illegal for certain criminals to possess firearms, it does nothing to prevent it.

The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA)

Summary:

The Firearm Owners Protection Act is legislation that was designed to protect gun owners from abuse, however it also contains a ban on the sale of fully automatic firearms (the Hughes Amendment).

The following shootings are widely believed to have been directly responsible for the passage of FOPA:

The 1986 Miami Shootout was BIG news at the time and had far reaching implications in the Law Enforcement community, the largest of which were the switch to semiautomatic pistols from revolvers and the FBI moving to the 10mm cartridge, which eventually became the .40S&W cartridge.

Why lawful gun owners don’t like it:

The inclusion of the Hughes Amendment was a controversy in it’s own right. There is video proof that this Amendment was never actually passed. Aside from the whole issue of laws being passed that were not actually, you know, voted on, legally owned fully automatic firearms just aren’t used in crimes:

Since 1934, there appear to have been at least two homicides committed with legally owned automatic weapons.

One was a murder committed by a law enforcement officer (as opposed to a civilian). On September 15th, 1988, a 13-year veteran of the Dayton, Ohio police department, Patrolman Roger Waller, then 32, used his fully automatic MAC-11 .380 caliber submachine gun to kill a police informant, 52-year-old Lawrence Hileman.

Patrolman Waller pleaded guilty in 1990, and he and an accomplice were sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The 1986 ‘ban’ on sales of new machine guns does not apply to purchases by law enforcement or government agencies.

The other homicide, possibly involving a legally owned machine gun, occurred on September 14, 1992, also in Ohio.

Two?

Since 1934?

One of which was committed by a person who is still not prohibited from buying fully automatic weapons after the law banning their sale?

The banning of the sale of fully automatic firearms manufactured after May 19, 1986 is unreasonable restriction on the freedoms of lawful gun owners. Even illegally owned fully automatic firearms are not used in violent crime frequently. It’s a red herring simply because most people who are not shooters cannot understand why anyone would need a fully automatic firearm. I’ll tell you why; they are fun as hell to shoot.

And if criminals are not using these weapons to commit crimes, we have yet another instance of a gun control law that only prevents lawful gun owners from lawfully owning guns.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (AWB)

Summary:

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) (or Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a federal law in the United States that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms, so called “assault weapons”.

There was no legal definition of “assault weapons” in the U.S. prior to the law’s enactment.

The law also banned the sale or manufacture of new firearm magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

The following shootings are widely believed to have been directly responsible for the passage of the AWB:

Now I clearly remember the 101 California Street Shooting, and watching California Senator Diane Feinstein foam at the mouth to get the AWB in place. Then came the Long Island Rail shootings, and what had been a California initiative became a massive national push, and eventually Federal Law.

Why lawful gun owners don’t like it:

Let’s start with the complete and utter arbitrariness of it. The firearms that were banned were done so because they looked scary, not because they were any more dangerous than any other firearm. An AR-15 (banned by the AWB) is functionally identical to a Mini-14 (not banned by the AWB). I can fire 30 rounds into a target just as fast using two 15 round magazines (banned by the AWB) as I can using three 10 round magazines (not banned by the AWB).

Banning rifles with barrel shrouds? That’s a safety feature. It is simply the infringement of gun rights by people who are ignorant of what the things they are banning actually are.

Did the AWB prevent or reduce crime? Let’s look at the research from the people who pushed for the law:

The United States Department of Justice National Institute of Justice found should the ban be renewed, its effects on gun violence would likely be small, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement, because assault weapons are rarely used in gun crimes.

In 2001, Koper and Roth of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania, published a peer-reviewed paper called The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban on Gun Violence Outcomes: An Assessment of Multiple Outcome Measures and Some Lessons for Policy Evaluation. They found that:

“The ban may have contributed to a reduction in gun homicides, but a statistical power analysis of our model indicated that any likely effects from the ban will be very difficult to detect statistically for several more years. We found no evidence of reductions in multiple-victim gun homicides or multiple-gunshot wound victimizations. The findings should be treated cautiously due to the methodological difficulties of making a short-term assessment of the ban and because the ban’s long-term effects could differ from the short-term influences revealed by this study.”

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence examined the impact of the Assault Weapons Ban in its 2004 report, On Target: The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Act. Examining 1.4 million guns involved in crime, it determined that since the law was enacted, “assault weapons have made up only 1.61% of the guns ATF has traced to crime — a drop of 66% from the pre-ban rate.”

I’d like to point out that the 66% drop that the Brady Center claims there is disingenuous: there was no legal definition of an “assault weapon” prior to the passage of the AWB, and statistics on them were not collected.

***

So yes, gun owners tend to buy guns they want after shootings, because we are capable of logical and rational examination of historical precedent, and concluding that there is a reasonable chance that some ignoramus will manage to whip up enough fear in the general populace to get a law passed that would prevent us from owning it.

That’s not fear, nor is it ignorance; that is critical reasoning.

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman: This is pretty much all I’m going to say about this.

Wall of text coming at you, feel free to skip it if you’re fed up with hearing about the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

I’ve tried really hard not to comment on this at all because, well we really didn’t know much of anything, and I wanted to see how things played out (poorly, apparently).

Ok, aside from all the crap that has been spewed by the Usual Suspects lineup of Race Baiters, I didn’t form any kind of opinion as to what happened until the 911 recording was released (edit, apparently the file has been moved on the Sanford site, a youtube version can be found here). This is the first real hard factual evidence that the public was allowed to see.

I want to make very clear right up front that I am of the opinion that Zimmerman acted incorrectly when he left his vehicle, which is not the same as acting illegally, but I’ll get to that later.

I don’t live in Florida (in fact, I’ve never been there). The only thing I know about Florida is that my dad was escorted across the state line by a State Trooper and told not to return in the mid 1970’s (he was ejected for living in a whorehouse. As a young man who’d just left the Navy after a trip to Vietnam, he protests to this day that he was just storing his clothes there. I worship that man). I’m not going to comment on the initial investigation of the shooting other than to say that as it has played out, it looks like the Sheriff was right not to press charges.

I’m not going to get into NBC’s “creative editing” of the 911 call, which plainly was done in an attempt to make the facts fit The Narrative.

I do think it is kind of telling that until the day Zimmerman was arrested the only photos we saw of him in The Media were 60 pounds heavier than he was on the day the shooting took place, and the only photos we saw of Martin were of a 13 year old, whilst current photos of both were readily available with just the slightest effort to find them.

Let’s take a look at an actual excerpt from that 911 call:

At 2:07 Zimmerman tells the dispatcher; “He’s running.”

At 2:09 you can hear a car door open and a chime begins that is plainly the “door is open, keys in ignition” warning on Zimmerman’s truck.

At 2:13 you can clearly hear the car door being shut, and the chime stops.

At 2:17 Zimmerman’s voice wobbles and he starts breathing heavily into the phone, indicating that he has started running.

At 2:22 without any prompting other than the aforementioned noises and breathing, the dispatcher asks “Are you following him?” to which Zimmerman responds, “Yeah.”

At 2:26 the dispatcher says, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” To which Zimmerman responds, “Okay.” Zimmerman proceeds to give the dispatcher his name. Then he says, “He ran.”

At 2:39 the heavy breathing into the phone stops (just 13 seconds after the dispatcher told Zimmerman “we don’t need you to do that.”)

At 3:35 Zimmerman says, “Oh crap, I don’t want to give that all out. I don’t know where this kid is.” (in response to the dispatcher requesting Zimmerman’s address)

So, let’s think about that for just a moment. Zimmerman can still be heard breathing heavily into the phone until about 2:39, when the heavy breathing stops. I would have to assume that indicates that Zimmerman has stopped running, and the 13 seconds of elapsed time since the dispatcher’s “we don’t need you to do that” comment would seem at first glance to indicate that Zimmerman took that to mean “stop following him”. Zimmerman then proceeds to give the dispatcher his own information, directions to and a description of, his location for another minute and a half or so.

That is the end of the facts that the public has been shown so far. Everything else is conjecture and hearsay at this point.

So what do we know? We know that George Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin while on the phone with the 911 operator, and it would appear that he stopped pursuit of Martin when told by the 911 operator that it wasn’t necessary.

None of that is illegal.

I’ve heard people say that Zimmerman following Martin would be illegal under Florida’s Stalking laws, but this is just not the case. Do a bit of research, and you’ll find that even trying to stretch the Stalking laws to fit the situation fails.

The only other thing we know as a fact is that at some point in the few minutes following the 911 call Zimmerman and Martin had contact, which ended in Zimmerman shooting Martin in the chest once with his carry firearm, resulting in Martin’s death.

That is right now the sum total of the facts that the public has been shown. Everything else is only conjecture at this point.

Martin’s version of the events following the 911 call are that Martin approached Zimmerman, asked Zimmerman “do you have a problem” or something similar, to which Zimmerman replied “no” or something similar and turned around to return to his truck. Martin stated “you do now” or something similar, and punched Zimmerman knocking him to the ground. Martin then mounted Zimmerman and began slamming Zimmerman’s head into the concrete.

If that is accurate, Martin would have been the aggressor. Once Martin threw the first punch Zimmerman was justified in defending himself. Once Martin escalated the violence to a level where serious injury or death was a distinct possibility (slamming someone’s head into concrete makes either event likely), Zimmerman was justified in using lethal force to stop the attack.

Also consider that the Sanford Sheriff’s department has said that Zimmerman had wounds to his face and the back of his head consistent with his version of events leading up to the shooting. There are groups claiming that the Sheriff’s department is lying about that in order to cover up Zimmerman illegally “executing” Martin, but I’ve found reports from three of George Zimmerman’s neighbors which stated that the day after the shooting George Zimmerman had butterfly bandages on his nose and the back of his head and looked “pretty beat up”. All of whom said they spoke to both the FBI and Sanford Sheriff’s department about this, but none could recall talking to any investigators from the office of the Special Prosecutor assigned to the case. So is everybody lying then?

I don’t know, and neither does anybody else at this point.

What I do know is that the affidavit which resulted in Zimmerman’s arrest is a joke.

As I stated earlier, I believe that Zimmerman acted incorrectly. In my opinion his mistake was getting out of his vehicle. I believe this was incorrect for three reasons:

  1. As someone who carries a firearm for self defense, he gave up his primary tool of self defense when he pursued Martin: avoidance.
  2. Zimmerman is not a sworn Peace Officer, he had no duty to do so.
  3. Zimmerman gave up an enormous tactical advantage when he got out of his truck.

These actions are incorrect because they resulted in Zimmerman being in a situation in which he had to use his CCW firearm. As someone who carries a firearm for self defense it is a weapon of last resort, to be drawn when all other means of self defense have failed. A human’s primary tools of self defense are avoidance and deescalation. As true as those statements are, they do not make any of George Zimmerman’s actions illegal. Incorrect action and bad decisions led George Zimmerman into a situation where he shot an unarmed 17 year old. That’s a bad deal whatever circumstances led up to it.

This is why I’m disappointed in the people running this country:

Despite no evidence of a crime being committed (and even with minor exculpatory evidence existing), look at what has been done to George Zimmerman:

  • “Religious leaders” Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Farrakonvict (I just can’t resist taking a shot at that asshat) have all manipulated The Media into pushing a story of a “White Hispanic” shooting a black kid in cold blood. They have stirred up such public outrage (despite not having any of the actual evidence outlined above) to the point where Zimmerman and his family have had to go into hiding in fear that they will be assaulted.
  • The “New Black Panther Party” placed a $10,000 bounty for George Zimmerman’s “capture”, dead or alive.
  • Spike Lee retweeted an address that he thought was Zimmerman’s home address to his approximately 250,000 followers. The home actually belongs to an elderly couple, one of which currently suffers from a heart condition. Fox news has reported that the couple have received threats and hate mail, which has gotten so bad they’ve temporarily moved to a hotel.
  • Mike Tyson tossed out this gem of a quote: “It’s a disgrace that man (Zimmerman) hasn’t been dragged out of his house and tied to a car and taken away. Forget about him being arrested—the fact that he hasn’t been shot yet is a disgrace.”

At this point, it doesn’t really matter what happened that night, George Zimmerman’s life is over. He’s already lost his job because he’s had to go into hiding. Even if he’s acquitted, he’s going to have to go into hiding. If he wants to live for any significant amount of time, he’s going to have to disappear and cut off all contact with his family and friends. Trying to get a job in America? Not likely after the kind of publicity this has gotten and besides, how would he stay in hiding with coworkers? No trial, he hadn’t even been charged with a crime at this point, and look at the level of punishment that has been visited upon him.

The government has not done one single thing to put a stop to this. You know how I know this is unjust? Make Trayvon Hispanic, or Asian, or White. Leave the four bullet points above (but change the names to their other racial equivalents), and tell me that the government would not have been arresting people, and that The Media would not be in the midst of an orgy of applying the term “racist” to all of it.

Now that is some racist bullshit right there.

And based on the affidavit, it would appear that the Special Prosecutor has now charged Zimmerman with second degree murder with almost no evidence to back that up. I’ve heard it theorized that the decision to charge Zimmerman was politically motivated, or an attempt to stave off rioting. If either of those is the case I sincerely hope that Angela Corey is charged with Prosecutorial Misconduct.

I’m not a lawyer but I do understand the basic idea of an affidavit, and the one which was submitted in this case is something that I would expect to see from a first year law student, not a Special Prosecutor’s office. The affidavit is supposed to give a Judge facts and evidence supporting the prosecutor’s assertion that the subject of the affidavit should be arrested and prosecuted, while explaining how those facts are known, as well as when and where that evidence was collected so that the Judge can make an informed decision. Specific facts and evidence.

Let me give an example of what an affidavit should contain:

At 1:43pm on 4-17-2012 Mr. Jones entered the Bank of Money located on the corner of Zee Street and Here Way. At 3:50pm on 4-17-2012 the affiant (this is the person presenting the facts) spoke with Ms. Doe who is a teller at this bank, who told the affiant that Mr. Jones proceeded to urinate in one of the potted plants in the bank, while waving at her. She also stated that Mr. Jones said something about some ugly plants outside just prior to commencing the urination.

At 2:05pm on 4-17-2012 Officer Friendly responding to the 911 call made by the bank manager Mr. Cash, spoke to the owner of Irish Bar across the street who told Officer Friendly that Mr. Jones had been drinking in the bar for approximately an hour prior to the incident. Officer Friendly related this information to the affiant upon the affiant’s arrival at the Bank of Money.

That’s a great affidavit. It presents the facts of the case as known by the investigators, as well as how and when the information was discovered by the investigator, but does not make any inferences or draw unsupported conclusions.

Here’s what a bad affidavit looks like:

Mr. Jones walked into the Bank of Money Tuesday afternoon and peed in a potted plant while waving at a teller. The teller was on the phone with a friend, who said the teller told her that she felt that Mr. Jones wanted to rape her. He was drunk because he had been drinking at the bar across the street all afternoon. Mr. Jones profiled the plant because he mentioned that he hated ugly plants.

I mention this, because the second example is pretty much exactly what the State of Florida vs. Zimmerman Affidavit of Probable Cause looks like. It’s terrible.

If it should turn out that Zimmerman did illegally execute Trayvon Martin, and evidence can be shown to a level that he could be rightfully convicted, it still would not justify the way this case has been handled. Innocent until proven guilty? Not in this case.

I just shot someone in self defense, now what?

There are literally hundreds of training programs available to pretty much everyone on how to actually shoot a CCW weapon, how to carry the weapon, and legally when you are allowed to draw and use your CCW weapon, but there is no consensus on what to do after you have used your CCW weapon in self-defense.

Common “wisdom” on the topic seems to fall into one of two extremes:

  • Say absolutely nothing, demand a lawyer.
  • Answer any and all questions, after all what do you have to hide?

You’ll find an endless series of arguments on this topic that devolve into name calling on all of the popular CCW related forums, but nothing really concrete to tell you what a good course of action would be.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on this topic, and it seems to me that people who follow either of the above courses of action seem to have a much higher chance of ending up in court. If you say nothing and demand a lawyer, the cops who responded to the call are going to start looking at you as if you’re trying to hide something, or are guilty of something. In the worst case they will miss evidence or witnesses that could have cleared you of any wrongdoing. On the other hand, if you start running your mouth, chances are you’re going to make some contradicting statements, or say something that when looked at in the wrong context will make you look like you broke the law.

Personally, I think that the correct answer lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Part of the difficulty in finding solid information is that defensive shootings by CCW holders are relatively rare things. After going through all of the police reports and court records involving CCW holder shootings that I could find (which were not all that many), I was kind of at a loss for how to proceed.

So I started looking at the problem I was trying to solve: as a CCW holder, if I have to shoot in defense, how do I prevent being charged with a crime, and having to fight it out in court?

Now sadly enough there are jurisdictions where the DA will actively prosecute any CCW holders that are involved in a defensive shooting. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a defensive shooting where this is true (as it is in many places in California), get a good lawyer, and be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of money proving your innocence.

After wrestling with this I came to the conclusion that I’m either going to be charged or not based on information gathered by the first responders and the detective(s) assigned to the case (barring a DA with a political agenda). So what are their guidelines for investigating CCW holder shootings? What things are they looking for to determine if the CCW holder was in the right or acted illegally?

As it turns out, I really couldn’t find much in this regard. I called a couple of friends who work local PD and Sheriff’s Department to ask their opinions. They both suggested that I look into the departmental policies for Officer Involved Shootings (OIS).

What I found was very interesting. It seems that cops wrestle with this same issue. Apparently the policies and guidelines for OIS vary greatly from department to department, and sometimes from precinct to precinct. What I found was that in many law enforcement forums (and consistent with the Force Science Institute’s recommendations), the advice was generally along these lines:

  • Give a brief “public safety statement” on scene.
  • Get hospital transport.
  • Consult with a lawyer before giving a statement, generally 24-48 hours after the shooting.

A little further investigation shows that the “public safety statement” is suggested to consist only of the following (this specific example is from the Mount Prospect, Illinois PD’s OIS policy):

  1. Are you injured?
  2. If you know of anyone who was injured, what is his or her location?
  3. In what direction did you fire your weapon(s)?
  4. If any suspects are at large, what are their descriptions?
  5. What was their direction of travel?
  6. How long ago did they flee?
  7. For what crimes are they wanted?
  8. With what weapons are they armed?
  9. Does any evidence need to be preserved?
  10. Where is it located?
  11. Did you observe any witness(es)?
  12. Where are they?

It seems to me that giving a “public safety statement” along these lines would be very beneficial to a CCW holder that has been involved in a shooting. It addresses any immediate concerns for preserving safety, evidence, and witnesses. All of these things work in your favor. The key thing here is to remember that people who have been in a situation where they have used a firearm in self-defense (citizens and police alike) have a tendency to run their mouths. It’s a stress reaction and a perfectly normal human reaction. Unfortunately every single thing that comes out of your mouth can (and generally will) be used against you in court.

Even if the shooting was squeaky clean, if your story changes at all from telling it to one person to the next (if you let them, every cop you see will try to question you for this very purpose), someone is going to notice that and it is going to raise questions. This is a case where saying less is far better than saying more. If you hit the major points above and nothing else (and only give the statement one time), you have demonstrated that you are trying to be helpful. Wanting to stop at that is not unreasonable, a full interview can always be conducted within the next couple of days.

I find this really interesting, as are the further recommendations from FSI. On the topic of hospital transport, Laura Scarry (a prominent police attorney and certified Force Science Analyst) had the following to say:

This is a controlled, secure environment where an officer can get away from news and cell phone cameras that might otherwise feed intrusive footage of him from the scene to TV and YouTube.

Officers on some departments may be pressured inappropriately by supervisors to give a statement before the end of shift or write a report about the shooting before they go home. At a hospital, an officer can explain to a doctor that he’s keyed up from the stress of the incident and request a Valium. If he’s sedated, he can’t be required to give an immediate statement.

The important takeaway here is that unilaterally the Force Science Institute (and those certified by same) recommend that the shooter not be interviewed immediately. Among the reasons given for this are the growing number of studies that conclude that stress and fatigue negatively impact memory. There are many police unions in the US that have agreements that OIS interviews will not be conducted until at least 24 hours have elapsed from the time of the shooting. This is done because studies like the one above clearly demonstrate that it is beneficial to everyone involved, as the shooter’s memory will be anywhere from 50-70% more accurate when well rested after a stressful event.

They are specifically speaking about police officers, but I do not see any good reason for this to not apply to CCW holders as well. The dynamics of human memory do not change when one puts on a badge.

These are not the only considerations or possibilities of what will happen after you are involved in a defensive shooting, and I urge you to do your own research and don’t take my advice as gospel. I’m not a lawyer, DA, or police officer. I’m just a guy with a keyboard.

California SB610 – CCW law reform, kinda

SB610 was passed by the California legislature and presented to the Governor for signature into law on September 9th 2011.

This bill is generally a “reform” of California’s current CCW laws that makes the following changes:

  • No applicant would be required to pay for any training courses prior to the determination of good cause being made (does not remove this requirement).
  • Provides that no applicant would require liability insurance as a condition of the license.
  • Clarifies that the fee charged by the issuing agency would include any required notices (still not to exceed actual costs or $100).
  • Requires issuing agency to provide applicant with written notification of the determination of good cause.
  • Require written notification to the applicant which requirement was not satisfied if the license is denied.

Conspicuously missing from this “reform” is the exemption of California elected officials from the “good cause” requirement, as was in the initial text of the bill:

SHOULD THE GOOD CAUSE REQUIREMENT BE DEEMED MET FOR ANY APPLICANT WHO IS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS, A STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIAL, OR A MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATURE, FOR PROTECTION OR SELF-DEFENSE ALTHOUGH THESE PERSONS MUST STILL COMPLY WITH ALL OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR OBTAINING OR RENEWING A LICENSE?

I guess it was a little too obvious exposure of the “we’re better than you” mentality that the California legislature all too often exhibits.

I cannot find any trace of the exemption in the final text of the bill.

How about just remove the “good cause” requirement, and make California a Shall Issue state? It would make a whole lot more sense.

Hope (you’re armed) and Change: The “hate crime” that wasn’t

This is the latest report of a trend that I would like to see nipped in the bud, mob attacks:

Chased home: Mob attacks man in his house

The first thing that I noticed was that this incident happened on September 9th, but the story was not posted until the 27th, and I cannot find any mention of it in any local papers or on local news channel websites (but I’m in California, so maybe I just don’t know where to look).

Reading through the story we find the same story in a different place. Dozens of angry weapon wielding aggressors focus on a bystander, start yelling racial epithets at him, chase him down (not just to his home, but actually beating in his door to get inside), and beat him severely. One even pulled a gun and tried to shoot… somebody, the article wasn’t very clear about who the guy was trying to shoot (but I imagine that the victim wasn’t very clear on that either).

The aggressors were:

  • Young males (the ones arrested were listed as 17 – 21)
  • Black and Hispanic
  • Dozens strong
  • Yelling racial epithets at their victim(s)

So why is this not being labeled a “hate crime”? Clearly the facts seem the very definition of a “hate crime”. From wikipedia:

The modern era of hate-crime legislation was begun in 1968 with the passage of federal statute, 18 U.S. 245, part of the Civil Rights Act which made it illegal to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone who is engaged in six specified protected activities, by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.” However, “The prosecution of such crimes must be certified by the U.S. attorney general.”.[46]

Ok, so now that we’ve confirmed that this meets the definition of a “hate crime”,  and verified that the Attorney General needs to certify the prosecution as a “hate crime”, does Eric Holder not believe that “hate crimes” should be prosecuted? Again from wikipedia:

Attorney General Eric Holder said in June 2009 that recent killings show the need for a tougher U.S. hate crimes law to stop “violence masquerading as political activism”.[53]

Hmm. Well I guess “hate crime” isn’t “hate crime” if it’s not committed under the guise of “political activism”.

But I dare anyone to say with a straight face that this wouldn’t be prosecuted as a “hate crime” if the mob had been white, and the victims black.

I would think that even the most liberal “progressive” would be trying to convey that two wrongs don’t make a right.

My daily carry knives

20110920-094416.jpg

All the cool kids are showing their toys! The top is a Coldsteel X2 Voyager that I bought about 5 years ago, below is a Benchmade 710 (yeah, the X2 really is that big) that I bought at Blade Show West in 1999, and have carried daily since.

What’s in your pocket?