Monday, November 24, 2014

Concealed Carry and Terrorism; Indirect Threat

Indirect threat. The first time I heard this phrase I wasn’t sure what it meant. It was given to me by a DiploSec (Diplomatic Security) operator. He was explaining to me what is sometimes thought to be a criminal threat. In more and more cases it turns out to be domestic terrorism. Some whack job trying to get a body count somewhere.
On June 8, 2014, a couple who deemed themselves American "patriots" walked into a Las Vegas pizza joint where two police officers were taking a break, smiled at them, then whipped out guns and assassinated them. On one of their corpses, they left a Gadsden flag, once a symbol of the American Revolution, the coiled rattlesnake with the motto, "Don't tread on me." At the scene, they babbled something about "the revolution."
The pair — he already armed with a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol and she with a Ruger LCR .38 revolver — then stole the 9mm handguns and spare magazines from the officers' bodies, adding an HK pistol and a Glock to their armament along with a pistol-gripped 12-gauge shotgun the male was hiding in a carry bag. They ran a short distance to a nearby Wal-Mart, where they separated. The male, appearing to witnesses to be acting alone, cleared the shotgun from his bag and fired a blast into the air, screaming at people to get out and announcing, "The revolution has begun!"
As shoppers stampeded out, one armed citizen, Joe Wilcox, attempted to interdict. He drew his own Glock and moved toward the male suspect. However, the female spotted him, slipped up behind him, and shot him dead.
The psycho couple barricaded at the firearms and auto supply displays, the woman unsuccessfully ambushing the first responding officers, who returned fire. Police .223 bullets mortally wounded the male gunman, and anchored the female on the floor. Security cameras showed that she tried to shoot her male partner, failed, and then turned the pistol on herself and committed suicide. The pair turned out to be long-time whack jobs who had shown up for the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff, and been booted out because they were too radical, and revealed to the others that they were felons in illegal possession of firearms.
Murder. Twisted political agenda motivation. "The revolution has begun." Do their actions fit the profile of "terrorists"? Yeah, pretty much.
The sheep dog is the one who moves toward gun fire instead of away from it. Joe Wilcox is one of those rare sheep dogs. He is a hero and it’s tragic that he gave the ultimate sacrifice trying to defend strangers. I do not want to perceived as being critical of him or the two law enforcement officers that also gave their lives in the service of others.
But we can learn from these three unfortunate victims
I discussed this incident with my operator friend in e-mail. We came to the conclusion that some things were done wrong by the good guys.
The two policemen should have been a little more vigilant although, maybe they were. Police can’t and don’t walk around with a gun in their hand waiting for an attack. The bad guys may have just got the drop on them. But sometimes even law enforcement is lulled into complacency by a comfortable rule of law situation. I drive my wife crazy sometimes with the “gunfighter” seat in a restaurant. If I can, I get a seat close to an exit, with my back to a wall in sight of the front door. I want to see who is coming in. It is not a sure thing, but I try to give myself every advantage I can.
In the “fog of war” sometimes it’s hard to see anything but the target. It’s important that we train and act differently. Maneuver for a position where you can attempt to neutralize the target without someone coming upon you from behind. Perhaps some cover or at least concealment.
Bad people are becoming better prepared in their attacks. Often they will be in a group with someone on “overwatch” as we call it in the military. A look out. In this case the terrorists separated and hid their weapons.
In this particular situation, my advice would be not to draw the gun until you positively identified the Bad Guy as such, and not an off-duty cop or another armed citizen. Determine that the target is a danger to innocent human life who has to be taken out. Maybe also in a position where you are certain you can get the necessary hit and terminate the threat without your own gunfire endangering innocent human life. Dropping to a kneeling position to angle your fire upward, perhaps for a head shot, will reduce the danger of a miss or an exiting bullet striking a bystander. Once you've made the shot, scan quickly for additional threats and then, holster your weapon or at least hide it to others view. Your rescuing gunfire will have drawn attention and may, in all the excitement, have created the false illusion that you are the dangerous one. The Army teaches “Shoot, move, communicate.” If you decide to shoot, move to another safe location. Responders may include cops in uniform or in plainclothes, and other well-meaning armed citizens: you standing there over a dead body with a smoking gun in hand are now doing a convincing imitation of the Bad Guy, and you don't want to become a "friendly fire" tragedy.
In September of 2013, a squad of at least four terrorists reportedly belonging to the Islamic group Al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. They were armed with AK-47s and grenades, and some were wearing "suicide vests." In a siege lasting some 48 hours, they murdered more than 60 innocent victims and wounded approximately 175. Armed citizens may have kept the toll of dead and wounded from going higher: there were multiple reports of armed citizens going against the terrorists and helping many victims safely escape.
Years earlier, in a crowded market in Israel, a woman described as a housewife observed a terrorist about to activate an explosive vest. She drew her personal 9mm pistol and shot him dead before he could trigger the device, saving countless lives.
It’s possible to save others as well as yourself if you plan accordingly and think about what you are doing. As terrorists and criminals get a little smarter and adopt some military or law enforcement tactics, the armed citizen will have to be smarter in the way we protect ourselves.
Crime will not stop in this country. It’s the cost of a few things I believe. Liberty, privacy, and unrighteousness. As a nation we have chosen a lot of things over God. But that is another article. Terrorism will also continue for some of the same reasons. We live in troubled times and it is wise to be aware, prepared, and careful.
Semper Paratus