Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lessons From Tragedy

We’ve all experienced our own anxiety lately. For the last 2 months shootings and terrorist attacks have been all too common. They are evil and heinous crimes and I pray they stop and that future events are stopped. We should learn from them and be better prepared for any others that may come.
One thing that they all have taught us is proof that what law enforcement has been telling us for years is true. In a real crisis, we’re on our own. This is the reality of these attacks. Even officers under attack are on their own. There are many who will come to their, and your, aid, but initially, you’re alone. Most law enforcement would put their life on the line for you, for me, and for their brothers and sisters in blue. The problem is, they have to be there when something happens to defend you and generally they are not. SWAT teams will go into harm’s way to save people if they are sure they have sufficient numbers and advantage to be able to take care of the threat and still go home that night. They are brave but not stupid. They can’t afford to be stupid because if there are victims in a club you don’t really want to add to those victims. So they must be prepared and be able to win.
You must learn to improvise with a combat mindset.
General James N. Mattis, USMC, Former Commander US CENTCOMM said:
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
This may seem extreme, but what he said was “Have a plan…” Be prepared. Be ready.

My first advice is what I’ve recommended for years, carry a gun. Conceal carry wherever and whenever you can. Don’t be a whiner and tell me it’s heavy, it hurts, it’s uncomfortable. I’ve carried long enough to know that every person can find the right combination of, gun, holster, and clothes that will work for them. It’s out there. You may have to spend some money and time and effort to find it, but it’s out there. And with carrying that gun comes the responsibility to practice. Dry fire can be done effectively and cheaply. If done right, you can actually practice every day. This a LDS leaning blog. It says so right in the title. So for me, I read my scriptures and then dry fire every day. There are many different drills and programs for dry fire out there. Some are quite effective. Find out what will work for you and do it! You can’t afford to not do this.

In addition to your gun find out about how you can fight with your hands. Learn about improvised weapons and less-than-lethal weapons. Get trained in these things and find out how much can be done without a traditional weapon. In the Jason Bourne movies he is shown improvising a lot. Some are far- fetched ideas and some not so crazy. It takes a little training and a certain mindset.
Another thing I learned from these tragic events is that we need to have some medical training and some decent first aid kits. I’ve talked about this before too. The average first aid kit is woefully inadequate. Gunshot wounds or even just a bad car accident requires more than Wal-mart will sell you. I’m not saying become an EMT, although that would not be bad, but we need basic first aid training with an emphasis on stopping bleeding. Our kits need to reflect a lot of “blood stoppers” also. Learning how to use a tourniquet and having a few available is important. Knowing how to improvise a tourniquet is also very valuable knowledge. (a belt, a wire, paracord is not ideal)
Some of the people in Orlando had to wait some time before they could get help. Even after the shooter stopped shooting there were many wounded people that could have used some help by someone with a little basic first aid knowledge. This could have saved lives.

In the truck attack in Nice, France the terrorist was very close to being stopped when a man drove up beside the truck on his moped, jumped on the truck and struggled with the terrorist. He jumped off when he was hit with the butt of a gun. Had he known just the basics of where to strike, eyes, throat, that incident may have ended differently. You don’t have to be a ninja or Jason Bourne to do these things.

In Dallas center of mass hits did little. You must have the option of head shots to stop a threat like that. We must do a little long range training. I realize that most attacks are within about 15 feet, but there is a need to be able to hit with a rifle at 50 yards.
There was an incident at a big department where several officers armed with M4s confronted a suspect at distances from 10-20 feet. The incident was resolved professionally without shots being fired. That’s great! That’s how it’s supposed to end!

The next week, their instructor had them report to the range, re-create the situation and positioning with paper targets, and had the officers engage the paper with their red-dot equipped rifles.

None of the officers were able to deliver the required shots, even after several attempts…with a rifle…with optics, from braced positions, on paper, at close range. None. They assumed they could make the shot without any legitimate reason to have the confidence they did…don’t make the same mistake. Their department will never make that mistake again I’m sure. Shoot some distance shooting. If you hunt or skeet shoot you probably have the skills to shoot at 50 to 100 yards. But make sure you actually do it occasionally. If you need some practice you’ll find out quickly.

The Baton Rouge shooter was killed by an officer with a rifle at more than 100 yards. You bet it’s important to be able to make a shot like that. It could be vital.

Practicing at close range, head shots, long distances, and from different and crazy angles and heights, are all part of a well-rounded shooter. If I was in law enforcement, I would have all of these down really well. I don’t emphasize distance so much, but like to have a little competition once in a while at 50 or 100 yards. It’s fun and it also lets me know where I stand with distance shooting. But shooting from cover is something that may come in handy one day. Even though more than half of self-defense shootings happen at fairly close range, 10-15 feet, we should be able to hit from twice that distance.

I have some favorite guns that I like to shoot. I’ll be the first to admit that my carry gun is not always in the top 5. Well, make sure you can hit with your carry gun. Make sure you can shoot a rifle. Make sure your practice is effective. I have a friend who is a Border Patrolman. He has to qualify every 6 months with his service weapon. Sometimes he can shoot a range gun. It makes no sense to use a range gun and not your own weapon that you carry every day. The same goes for rifles. Especially for rifles. In the military we maintained several range weapons. They were in very good shape and were zeroed perfectly. That made sense because as a military member you’re issued a rifle when needed. You may leave that hot zone and not take your weapon with you and get issued a different weapon when you go back to a hot zone. A war is different, you are issued a weapon and will more than likely keep it the whole time deployed. But when issued a rifle I would first go to the range and zero it. But practicing with something other than what you carry is not very wise. You need to be extremely familiar with your guns. You may even want to mark your rifles to know what they are zeroed at, and bullet info. I’ve done this with pistols when I had too many to remember. I would put what brand and weight of bullet the pistol would shoot well.

As a law enforcement officer if you are confronted with an active shooter or a terrorist in a public place do you engage the attacker you can see, or go to your vehicle for a rifle? I guess every situation is different. If you don’t engage immediately other may be killed. It’s a dilemma every officer may have to face.

There are other lessons learned from these attacks. The Army used to teach “Shoot, Move, Communicate.” This is good advice in a gunfight situation. Remember that your cover has an expiration date. Usually your attacker is moving too. Your cover may become obsolete as your attacker changes angles. You can’t hug your cover like it’s a life preserver. Cover can be utilized better with a little space between you and your cover. You can use the cover better and have room to maneuver.

The more you safely handle guns the better you will be with them. You’ll be comfortable and familiar with them and that will make you a better, safer shooter. It will be easier to carry and you may save yourself or someone else one day. Practice is the key. Live fire is good and important, but it can be expensive. Dry fire is effective and costs very little. You should do both. But my dry fire exceeds my live fire every month. I’ll probably get to the range 5 or 6 times in a month, but I will dry fire 20 to 25 days a month. Learn to dry fire safely and effectively and get out to the range as much as you can.

I hope that we will not have any more of these horrible shootings. But I’m afraid we will. I want to be ready if I am every involved in one, although I know the chances are slim. But being prepared is always better than wishing you were prepared.

Semper Paratus
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