Monthly Archives: February 2014

Piers Morgan circles the drain

Can't they both lose? (Morgan and 9-11 Twoofer Alex Jones).

Can’t they both lose? (Morgan and 9-11 Twoofer Alex Jones).

And it’s his monomania about the gun issue as much as his sub-basement ratings that showed him the door, he realizes:

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said. “That’s run its course and Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”

Not for the first time, we disagree with Piers. For “many in the audience” to be “tired of him”, it would have to be many in the audience. And that’s pretty much the problem, isn’t it?

Although a change has long been rumored, it was the first time that both he, and the CNN executives I talked to, acknowledged that his nightly show was on the way out. Plans for a replacement at the 9 o’clock hour are still underway, but Mr. Morgan and the network are in talks about him remaining at CNN in a different role.

But the chronic troubles of prime-time remain. Sometime before the network “upfront” events in April, when advertisers buy commercial time for the fall season, Mr. Zucker needs to signal how he will fix CNN’s prime-time problem, and that begins with Mr. Morgan, whose contract ends in September.

via Piers Morgan and CNN Plan End to His Prime-Time Show – NYTimes.com.

History repeats.

History repeats. Gnome-like newsreaders hardest hit.

The title of the story on Page B1 of the dead-tree paper was even grimmer for Australia’s national cricket-bowlers’ target: Piers Morgan on Way Out of Show on CNN. Don’t let the door hit you, old boy.

The NY TImes’s David Carr clearly shares Morgan’s antigun sensiblity, calling guns “great and horrible things,” but recognizes that most Americans don’t.

In a sense, Mr. Morgan is a prisoner of two islands: Britain and Manhattan. While I may share his feelings about the need for additional strictures on guns, having grown up in the Midwest, I know that many people come by their guns honestly and hold onto them dearly for sincere reasons.

Mr. Morgan’s approach to gun regulation was more akin to King George III, peering down his nose at the unruly colonies and wondering how to bring the savages to heel. He might have wanted to recall that part of the reason the right to bear arms is codified in the Constitution is that Britain was trying to disarm the citizenry at the time.

That’s rather amusing. Morgan fan Carr uses the same George III analogy that the gun culture has used since Piers Morgan dropped anchor in New York Harbor and cleared quarantine.

He regrets none of it, but clearly understands his scolding of “stupid” opponents of gun laws was not everyone’s cup of tea.

“I’m in danger of being the guy down at the end of the bar who is always going on about the same thing,” he said. He added that he was sure there were plenty of people in the heartland angry “about this British guy telling them how to lead their lives and what they should do with their guns.”

Not just in the heartland, you supercilious New York and London drones.

In the current media age, no one is expected to be a eunuch, without values or beliefs…

Got it. Morgan is a eunuch with values and beliefs. Explains a lot.

…but Mr. Morgan’s lecturing on the evils of guns have clanked hard against the CNN brand, which, for good or ill, is built on the middle way.

CNN, the Clinton News Network… “the middle way?” Well, maybe to a media drone. Didn’t Dan Rather tell Bernie Goldberg that the New York Times’s editorial policy was neither liberal nor conservative, but “right down the middle”?

We don’t look for moral leadership from CNN, or from a British host on a rampage. Guns, along with many other great and horrible things, are knit into the fabric of this country.

Despite coming from some clown at the New York Times, we suspect Americans of many different stripes and flavors could agree with those last two sentences. We might not agree with Carr about whether having “guns… knit into the fabric of the country” is a good thing, but we’re well aware of the direction the consensus is moving, and it’s not his way.

There are folkways peculiar to America that Mr. Morgan is just learning, including the fact that if you want to stick out, you first have to work on fitting in.

The bulk of the column goes into great depth about what CNN’s plans for Morgan are, when they get finished pulling the plug on his unpopular newscast. We’ll tell you: next to nothing of these plans will come to fruition. Right now, he’s about as popular here as Ebola. The guns are not the half of it. It’s the likability, or lack of the same. He’s a disagreeable, argumentative, self-aggrandizing jackanapes.

And what about those felony charges waiting for him in the wiretapping scandal in England? There is that.

Meet the BAR – in depth with the IMT

The Institute of Military Technology (the museum that spun off from Reed Knight’s amazing collection) has produced this video on the BAR, which includes some period training film and slide footage, Reed Knight himself going over the mechanism, and… best of all! Live fire.

 

We may be limited in what we can write this week (especially first half…) and we owe you TW3s for the last two weeks. And last week’s Saturday Matinee. Arrgggh, that’s all we can say to that right now. And that we’ll let you know when the backdated stuff goes up. In the meantime, enjoy the BAR.

Another “Gun Victim” isn’t even dead yet: Piers Morgan

Piers_Morgan_hairdyed_asshatPiers Morgan’s TV show is not dead yet, but to steal a line from a much better-received English import, it’s “Pining for the Fjords.” Several Hollyweird outlets have noted that Piers’s never-robust (how about, always-sucky?) ratings have tailed off. In fact, they’ve moved beyond “sucky” through “Electrolux” to “danger, turbine intake.”

It took Rick Kissell of the granddaddy of Hollyweird dope sheets, Variety, to ask: is it because of his attacks on American gun ownership? Kissell examines the probabilities:

In the end, are guns what killed CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live”?

The show, hosted by anti-gun crusader Morgan, continues to struggle in the Nielsens. And this month, the start of the Michael Dunn loud-music murder trial in Florida has put the issue of gun control back in the forefront. February has also produced six of the show’s smallest 10 audiences since it bowed in January 2011.

Tuesday’s telecast, which included coverage of the uprisings in Kiev and an interview with Rudy Giuliani, drew the show’s second smallest audience to date in the key news demo of adults 25-54 (50,000). It also drew just 270,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, the show’s ninth smallest gathering ever.

“Piers Morgan Live” isn’t CNN’s only problem in primetime, of course, as the entire lineup has struggled and CNN topper Jeff Zucker has promised that 2014 would be a year of “shake up.” On Tuesday from 8 to 11 p.m., the network averaged just 64,000 adults 25-54 — not far from its all-time low of 57,000 in May 2000.

Morgan has long been an outspoken critic of U.S. gun laws, but the drumbeat has grown louder in the two years since George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin. On his CNN show in December 2012, Morgan got into a heated exchange with gun-rights activist Larry Pratt, asking at one point: “You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?”

There’s no way to quantify how much of a factor the discussion of gun control on “Piers Morgan Live” has contributed to its ratings (which were never all that great to begin with), but the show’s numbers have fallen more sharply since it became a frequent subject on the show.

Kissell goes on to document just how badly ickle Piers is being pantsed in the ratings race, and enumerate examples of his pursuit of his personal White Whale, so do  Read The Whole Thing™.

Deficit of likeability, proven.

Deficit of likeability, proven.

Of course, Morgan has other problems: his insecurity, his pugnacious and abrasive personality, and his deficit of likability mean that American audiences were always can have a hard time warming up to him. And it’s not like anybody else on CNN, MSNBC, or any other television station is a particular friend of guns and gun owners. Even if they don’t take it to the level of an obsession that only Melville could chronicle properly.

Can't they both lose? (Morgan and 9-11 Twoofer Alex Jones).

Can’t they both lose? (Morgan and 9-11 Twoofer Alex Jones).

The biggest ratings problem looming over ickle Piers is probably a cause rather than an effect of his anti-gun jihad. He’s an unpleasant person, who comes across as domineering, supercilious and snobbish. And one more thing – insecure. He comes off as more English than the English, so most people don’t know that he was born to an Irish dentist and his birth name was Piers Stefan O’Meara. (He later changed it to a hyphenated combination of his mother’s and stepfather’s name in pursuit of social climbing. “Piers Morgan” is a stage-name shortening of this).

Journalistic fraud? Well, CNN thought it was something to hire.

Journalistic fraud? Well, CNN thought it was something to pick up off the waiver wire.

It’s not surprising that he expects the worst of other people: his personal history is replete with examples of bad behavior. He probably knows that he shouldn’t be trusted with a gun. While editor of the Daily Mirror, he used the stock tips in an investing column to advance his personal fortune through insider training (Morgan saved himself by flipping on his own columnists, who were fired and ultimately convicted; at least one did time in prison. Profile in courage, that). Also at the Mirror, his personal anti-military agenda led him to publish fabricated photographs of nonexistent “tortures”  by soldiers of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. When his crudely faked photos were exposed and the entire publishing firm was feeling the heat, Morgan refused to apologize for the fraud he committed. So they fired him.

The scandal that may take him down before CNN gets around to firing him and replacing him with something more popular, like hantavirus, is generally called the Phone Hacking scandal. Morgan was questioned by an inquiry into the systematic hacking of voicemails and mobile phones by reporters under his management. He certainly knew about it, including how to do it; other reporters testify that he taught methods to them while he was an editor.

Morgan, dissembling before the Leveson Enquiry.

Morgan, dissembling before the Leveson Enquiry.

Compelled to testify, Morgan threw his subordinates under the bus and executed the DAMN strategy:

  1. Deny Everything;
  2. Admit Nothing;
  3. Make Counteraccusations; and,
  4. Never Change your Story.

The report judged that he lied, with classically English understatement, as reported by the tabloid website Daily Beast and in the actual report, “An Inquiry into the Culture, Practice, and Ethics of the Press”. On 20 December 2011 they interviewed Morgan (transcript here, he goes by his full legal name Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan).  Morgan tried to bash other journalists, but when asked about his own operations (such as stealing Elton John’s bank statements from his manager’s trash) his supposedly sharp mind became terribly foggy. You can read the testimony yourself, but Lord Leveson’s analysis of Morgan’s credibility from the main report says:

This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer. Mr Morgan could not even resist a further side-swipe at the Guardian (he had earlier referred to that title as the self-appointed bishops of Fleet Street), perhaps in an attempt to draw attention away from the broader ramifications of the question. When linked with other evidence, his reference to ‘the rumour mill’ somewhat downplayed the quality of the evidence incriminating the industry as a whole. And Mr Morgan chose his words very carefully when asked to speak about the Daily Mirror. Overall, Mr Morgan’s attempt to push back from his own bullish statement to the Press Gazette was utterly unpersuasive.

Morgan didn’t stop there, but attacked the legitimacy and purview of the inquiry itself.

Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror, for instance, complained at the conclusion of his evidence that a lot of the very good things that newspapers have done and continue to do were not being highlighted by the Inquiry. He said it was “like a rock star having an album brought out from his back catalogue of all his worst-ever hits”

Lord Justice Leveson lamented the absence of sufficient proof to charge Morgan, but noted that he was “sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behavior that he was prepared to joke about it.” Morgan has previously admitted that retrieving the voice mails of, for example, Paul McCartney’s second wife Heather Mills, one of his hacking victims, was “not, to me, as serious as planting a bug in someone’s house.”

Now, however, more evidence may have come up, evidence that either implicates Morgan deeper in the hacking scandal, or in perjury in his post-hacking testimony, which was given under oath. He was questioned by police in November and called into a police station in South London in December, where he was read his rights and gave another statement. Metropolitan Police have said:

A 48-year-old man who is a journalist was interviewed under caution on December 6 2013 by officers from Operation Golding in connection with suspected conspiracy to intercept telephone voicemails.

He was interviewed by appointment at a south London police station. He was not arrested.

Operation Golding is a strand of Operation Weeting and is specifically investigating allegations of phone interception at Mirror Group Newspapers.

Morgan, as the saying goes, denies all wrongdoing, but the denial is wearing pretty thin by now.

 

Another disturbing question that no one seems to be asking is this: has Morgan brought the lawless Fleet Street tabloid culture to CNN? Is CNN hiring private eyes, dumpster-diving, and bugging phones of American celebrities, which is how Morgan got his scoops at News of the World (a paper that had to fold due to criminal conduct) and The Daily Mirror?

Now, if Morgan was a beloved media figure in the US, the thought of PC Plod coming over from Scotland Yard to carry him back in irons would be enough to occasion a second Lexington and Concord. But given his viewership, it’s likely that more Americans would gladly hold him down while Plod got the cuffs on him good and tight, and good riddance to him.

Guns sway New York Times coverage of Ukrainian Civil War

A sharp and bloody civil war is raging in Ukraine, a war with ethnic, linguistic, political, and other roots in a deeply divided society. But you know why the civil war is bad? If you read the American press, it’s because of the guns. Gee, why didn’t we think of that!

Maidan before and after

The press is true to its antigun ethos, with one reporter arguing in a tweet that “protesters using firearms in Kiev” were “Horrible tactics – practically begging for a military crackdown.” Max Fisher’s “bitch had it coming” analysis of the protests tweet linked to this New York Times story, which also blames the protesters, not the police that are gunning them down:

“There will be many dead today,” Anatoly Volk, 38, one of the demonstrators, said. He was watching stretchers carry dead and wounded men down a stairway slick with mud near the Hotel Ukraina.

Mr. Volk said the protesters had decided to try to retake the square because they believed the truce announced around midnight was a ruse. The young men in ski masks who led the push, he said, believed it was a stalling maneuver by President Yanukovych to buy time to deploy troops in the capital after the authorities decided the civilian police had insufficient forces to clear the square.

“A truce means real negotiations,” Mr. Volk said. “They are just delaying to make time to bring in more troops. They didn’t have the forces to storm us last night. So we are expanding our barricades to where they were before. We are restoring what we had.”

Gunfire crackled around the Hotel Ukraina and protesters were hit in front of the Globus shopping mall. One protester walked near the fighting with a double-barreled shotgun slung over a shoulder.

“If our guys are dying, excuse me, what can I say,” said the man, who offered only his first name, Oleg. “If they didn’t use guns, the idea never would have come to us.”

The wide use of firearms in the center of the city was a new and ominous phase for the protest movement.

via As Kiev Truce Shatters, Rumors Grow That President Will Declare State of Emergency – NYTimes.com.

The essential divide in Ukraine is an ethnic one. Yanukovych and his party, fundamentally a neo-Soviet party, led by ethnic Russians and comfortable with subservience to Moscow. (Indeed, at every step in the instant crisis Yanukovich has sought and received instructions from his lord and master, Tsar Vladimir). They consider Ukrainians second-class citizens at best. The protesters are predominantly ethnic Ukrainians, who see the Russians through the prism of centuries of Russian oppression, including the Holodomor. On this map from CNN, Russian speaking regions are darker red:

ukraine_map_region_language

The dynamic of ethnic-Russians-who-were-Soviet-era-overlords and local-ethnics-who-were-underlings has played out in the 14 non-Russia former USSR Republics and various former Autonomous Zones. It has come to shots in the Ukraine because the two parties are in rough demographic balance. This map, strikingly similar to the one above, shows the vote turnout — the Russophones voted for Yanukovych.

ukraine_map_region_vote

The peak of the current violence seems to have come when government sniper teams targeted protest leaders. US criticism of the crackdown has been ineffective in the light of Washington’s foreign and defense policy leadership vacuum. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel can’t even get his Ukrainian counterpart to answer the phone or return a call. If that’s not a sign of contempt, we don’t know what is.

Not everyone in the press has swung around to the neo-Soviet side where Fisher and the Times reporting team are comfortable. Sarah Kendzior has a piece in Politico, waspishly calling out Acela Corridor journalists like Fisher for “pretending to care about Ukraine.” Nicole Gervitz (whoever she is) did slam Max Fisher’s “bitch had it coming” tweet:

When people take up arms to protect themselves from the state that wants them dead, they are not “asking for it.”

Yeah. What she said.

Update

The situation continues to develop apace. Security forces leaders, including  reportedly lost their stomach for internal violence and have sworn loyalty to the nation, implying their willingness to maintain order for a new regime. Opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prison, and parliament has deposed Viktor Yanukovych, former President.

Yanukovych fled by helicopter, with a few personal followers, to the ethnic Russian city of Kharkhov (of tank battle fame) in eastern Ukraine, a hotbed of neo-Soviet sentiment. Other Yanukovych loyalists fled by vehicle convoy.

The leaders weren’t being impeded in their flight by the protesters, but police and Interior Ministry forces, especially snipers, who fell into demonstrators’ hands were being beaten. The switch of the Interior Ministry, police, and Berkut troops to the demonstrators’ side may prevent further bloodshed (on both sides) for now.

The essential problem that Ukraine is divided politically has not been solved; if anything, the divisions are now more bitter. Right now, reconciliation looks like a harder path than partition. The situation remains fluid.

What Dunn Done Wrong

Dunn_on_the_standThis is a subject of great interest to all of us who carry in self-defense, because what Dunn done wrong came around and done Dunn wrong in the end. He’s almost certainly going to die in prison, and he didn’t have to. Somewhere along the way some bad ideas took root in his head; perhaps he got some bad advice. But on the day he chose to defend himself with a gun he did a lot of things wrong. Some of them could have gotten him and his then-fiancee killed, if he’d really been in the high-threat situation he thought he was in (giving his testimony the benefit of all doubt).

Don’t go starting a fight

When you go armed, you ought to have a quiet confidence about you, not a bullyrag swagger. Believe it or not, criminals can pick up on this, and they will leave somebody like you alone.

Don’t react to a small man with a big mouth. The mouthy guy is seldom a true threat, even in front of his peers. Ignore him; don’t let him get your goat.

You are not the world’s Punk Kid Policeman. Even real policemen don’t take on that role, if they have any sense at all. Punk Kids contain within themselves the seeds of their own education (or destruction, if they’re slow learners). Don’t waste your time trying to accelerate the process if they’re not an immediate threat to your life and family.

It’s not a quick-draw contest

Way, way, way too much training emphasizes speed. Now hear this: forget that. Almost every fatal accident we’ve ever looked at, whether it’s a shooting accident, an aircraft accident or industrial accident, has some component of hurry about it. Now, against that, can you think of any time when a citizen was killed because he didn’t draw fast enough? There are certainly some cases in police work, but not as many cases as there are cases where undue haste has caused a problem.

In many successful cases of self-defense (which we define as defending yourself successfully from the attacker, and not becoming a chew toy for the Angela Coreys of the world), the defender had the gun out already because he or she had correctly assessed the intentions of the attacker. He or she had the gun out and waited for confirmation of that assessment.

Don’t ever let a bullet go anywhere your mind hasn’t gotten to at least a couple seconds before. Responsible trainers might want to think about focusing their training more upon when to shoot and whether to shoot, than on how to shoot, especially on how to shoot quickly. While important facets of shooting depend on muscle memory, the critical when and whether are too important to delegate to your amygdala (or anywhere lower).

Gun on your person, period

If your girlfriend doesn’t like it, 86 her and find a new one. Seriously. One reason Michael Dunn may have shot is that he had to turn his attention from the “threat” (as he claims to have perceived Jordan Davis) into his car to retrieve his handgun from the glove compartment.

A glove compartment is a lousy place for a gun. Back seat is no place for a gun. (See this story from the FBI’s 1986 Miami gunfight). There are also lots of women who like to carry their gun in a purse. If you’re thinking about that, two words: purse snatching.

Having to retrieve a gun that’s not where you need it to be can be impossible under fire, like the 1986 FBI agents discovered. Happy to retrieve a gun that’s not where you need it to be may cause you to lose situational awareness. This latter may have happened to Michael Dunn. If Jordan Davis had been a threat, it was very unwise for Dunn to ever turn his back on him. If, as seems probable from the evidence at the trial, Davis was no threat, Michael Dunn lost the opportunity to see that and de-escalate the situation.

Don’t fire if you don’t need to fire

Davis SUV door holesOne of the tragedies of the Michael Dunn case is that, by all testimony, Dunn probably didn’t need to fire. “Minimum response to end the threat,” means in many cases that all you need to do is show a gun and the threats will back away. Think of the old Lynyrd Skynyrd song: “Gimme three steps, gimme three steps, Mister.”

The average human being understands that being shot is an unpleasant thing, and wouldn’t you know it? He prefers not to be shot. Being willing to shoot somebody, and demonstrating that will, is often enough to resolve the situation without the need to actually break a single round.

We can never change what happened that night, but imagine a scenario in which Dunn did not fire but merely displayed his large stainless steel handgun (it was a Taurus PT 92, a license built Beretta copy). Based on the testimony at trial, it seems highly probable that driver Tommy Storms, Davis and his friends would have exited the parking lot with alacrity, and not come back for quite a while.

Angela Corey mugging with Dunn's pistolHowever heartbreakingly counterfactual that is, if it had gone that way, Dunn’s next task must have been to call the police and tell them what he did. In cases like this, as will get to in a minute, the first call to the police is almost always assumed to be the “victim,” and any subsequent caller has to overcome that presumption, before he is taken seriously as a victim. This is not written in want anywhere as far as we know; it’s simply psychology. Our brains, and that certainly includes the brains of police dispatchers and officers, tend to give much more weight to first information than to any subsequent information.

All the “rules” still apply in a DGU

Jordan Davis died in the back seat of this well-ventilated SUV. Michael Dunn went to prison for it.

Jordan Davis died in the back seat of this well-ventilated SUV. Michael Dunn went to prison for it.

How many did Dunn violate? What about “know your target and what’s behind it”? Of his 10 shots, a maximum of 3 were fired at a confirmed, threatening target (and this is giving his testimony the maximum benefit of the doubt). Three more were fired at a target that Dunn admitted was a car. A car that was backing away.

We’ll address the legal problems with that in a moment, but consider for now the problem of aiming and firing in this situation. What was Michael Dunn’s target? He said he fired “to keep their heads down.” The pure wrongness of this concept, will also deal with below. But as a defensive gun use, you really have no business firing at anything but a clearly visible threat. Testimony and crime scene photos all agreed: the SUV and darkly tinted glass, and it was impossible to see anything inside those windows. (For those of you who are not from that area, a heavy, opaque tint is very common on vehicles that will be parked in the Florida sun. In many northern states, tinting that heavy is banned for the convenience of police).

Shooting at a target you can’t see is never a very good idea. Doing it in a case that has a high probability of being reviewed by lawyers at their desks, as in any defensive gun use, is an exceedingly bad idea. As Michael Dunn could tell you, if he wasn’t locked up for what will probably be the rest of his natural life.

It’s as important to know when to stop, as it is to know when to shoot

Note this: if your threat is retreating, unless he continues to fire in the retreat, he has ceased to be a threat to you, in a civilian defensive gun use situation. Months later, in a slow-paced, climate-controlled courtroom, people who do not know you will assess each one of your shots as justified or not, and work back from that to determine what your intentions were at the time.

Davis SUV back shotsDunn’s last three shots were particularly hard to justify. At this point, the SUV was fleeing headlong and Dunn fired three shots at the retreating vehicle from almost the 180° or 6 o’clock position, as the vehicle sped away from him. Even a cop is going to have some courtroom trouble with shots like that, and under most state laws cops are authorized to fire at fleeing felons. You, on the other hand, are not.

Many instructors teach that once you initiate firing, you should keep firing until your gun is empty. This is an extremely bad idea. You should keep firing until the threat is under control. If the threat is down, if he’s dropped his weapon, if he is no longer engaging you — at this point, you should check fire. Maintain vigilance, kick his weapon beyond his reach, whatever you need to do. Be ready to shoot again, but don’t do it, absent a clear threat.

As soon as possible, safe and secure your weapon. The best place for your weapon to be when the police arrive is laying down in the open, or secure in your holster on your belt, In the safest condition possible: that’s decocked with safety on if your handgun is so equipped. A long gun should be empty and clear, both walked back, and clearly visible and well out of your reach. Expect the police who arrive to a “shots fired” call to be somewhat jumpy. Wouldn’t you be?

Remember, the arriving police won’t know what you know: they won’t know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. Expect to be handcuffed and questioned roughly. You could very well be down at the station – still handcuffed – before they figure out what really happened.

Understand what “suppressive fire” is – and leave it on the battlefield!

There’s a very broad misunderstanding of “suppressive fire” in the civilian gun community. It is not random or unaimed fire. While it is intended to, “keep their heads down,” as Michael Dunn testified that he was trying to do, is properly done by applying aimed fire to the locations where enemy forces are, or are expected momentarily to be, in ground combat. In other words you’re aiming at where his head is, or where his head will stick up if he sticks it up.

It is an infantry combat technique, and is not good policy for police, and absolutely never should be considered for civilian self defenders. Even many infantry units don’t do it right.

Exercise for the reader: consider explaining how “suppressive fire” that you used in a DGU conforms to the four fundamentals of gun safety, let alone the self-defense law of your state or territory. Consider that you are explaining this not to your buddies in the local gun shop, but to a random audience of people picked because they didn’t particularly offend either the lawyer defending you or the one trying to add your scalp to his trophy case. Can you make your case to your kid’s middle school teacher, who thinks that guns are “icky”?

The juror interviews that Andrew Branca has analyzed at the Legal Insurrection website show that jurors are just that ordinary people who, in this case, made the best effort they could, to come up with a unanimous and just outcome.

Call 911 first, or ASAP

Yes, it takes minutes for them to come when seconds count. You might still have to shoot. But you might not. Even if your DGU is more justified than the Ways of God to His ownself, having to draw means lots of hassle (statements, “Let’s go downtown,” cops who get lied to all day long every day trying to shake your story, and digging into any misstatement or inconsistency, etc., etc). Having to fire is an exponential increase in hassle over that.

You will not get the benefit of the doubt a cop gets

jordan-davis-1That’s just the way it is. Cops can shoot unarmed folks all week, lawyer up with the PBA’s retainer guy, and recite the Cop Magic Incantation™ (“I was in fear for my life!”) and the only bad thing that happens is that, in some cases, guys like us know they’re cowards. Sure, if they guy they shot was black, there will be some dodgy Reverend screaming to have them nailed to a cross, but the actual hammer and nails are never in evidence; it’s all Reverend’s-flock-maintenance kabuki.

In 2014, the armed citizen doesn’t get that same bending-over-backwards benefit of the doubt. That’s just the way it is: you’re going to have to deal with it.

Stand your ground unless driven from it

By this, we’re absolutely not referencing the legal concept of “stand your ground.” What we mean is this: do not leave the scene of the defensive gun use unless you absolutely must. And if you must leave, get on the horn to the police immediately. Do not hesitate, do not delay, do not go home and hope the whole thing disappears.

Something very bad has happened, even if you are alive and safe. And it’s going to get worse before gets better. But denial, flight, “ostrich mode,” call it whatever you want: these options are not really available to you. Not unless you want to wind up matriculating at Cold Stone College for the Long Course.

Be prepared for your case to have a racial angle

If you are of a different race in the individual you have just shot, your situation is even more complicated and troublesome. People of your assailant’s race will automatically assume that you fired the shot you fired out of pure racial animus. Almost anything you can say in this case will be used against you. If the prosecution has access to it (and if you’re in pretrial confinement, the prosecution will have access to all your communications), expect them to cherry pick it and leak the details that are most embarrassing and troubling to your case. This can poison the jury pool, which is why they leak it; it can follow you for months or years afterward.

Consider George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in his case, but is subject to death threats practically daily and is bankrupt more or less unable to lead a normal life.

In the Dunn case, the racial angle was heavily played up by the press. Dunn did not help himself with unguarded comments in communications from prison. Even today, there seems to be a wide disparity in how white and black Americans view the Zimmerman and Dunn cases. Many if not most blacks see both cases as examples of white men that got away with murdering black innocence. A disturbing number of whites have argued that Dunn was justified in shooting Davis because “blacks are statistically more prone to violence,” or some other argument from sociology or from something other than the facts in the immediate case.

You can’t prejudge someone to be a threat and engage him based on his race, his “thug music,” or his surly behavior. You might not like any of those things, but they’re not a clear and present threat to your life and health. It does not matter that there’s more black-on-white crime than white-on-black crime. It only matters whether you’re presently threatened with violent crime; and it’s of absolutely no consequence what race the person is. Until you fire the shot, and are being tried for it in the press.

Be prepared for media misconduct

Whether you think that newspapers normally report objectively and factually, or are a little more aware of how they actually work, expect to be shocked by how you and your case are portrayed in the papers. And you’ll look like Mother Theresa there, compared to the way that you’ll look on television, which will portray you as something between Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Examples of misreporting in the Dunn case include the assertion that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was applied (it wasn’t), and that the jury was all white (it wasn’t), but there are many more. In this it was a replay of the Zimmerman case, in that the case as reported by Branca’s live-blogging and the case as presented on TV had little in common.

Reporters come to defensive gun you stories with a pre-written narrative, and the facts of your case will be hammered to fit — and discarded where they don’t. As a result, most reporters and columnists, who are lazy and merely rewrite what they read in other reporters’ stories and columns, will diverge further and further from the facts of the case as the case wears on.

Expect this. Don’t lose your cool over it. It’s just what they do.

When guns are outlawed… what do we do about professors with guns?

Eric Engel mugshotThose university professors… they’re a dangerous bunch and bear considerable watching. This guy received his PhD a couple of years ago, and was teaching at the University of New Hampshire. “Communications,” which, as it turns out, does not need to involve batteries, a #$&$(!! hand-cranked generator, cutting antennae to 1/2 or 1/4 wavelength, or satellites. At least, when one is merely “professing” it. All it requires is one certified bat guano crazy professor. And the trope is that the scientists are mad. As if.

According to multiple news reports, [Eric] Engel of Durham [NH]  was wanted in the shooting death of Aleksander Wysocki, 74, on Friday morning in Cary, N.C. According to the Cary Police Department, officers responded to a report of a resident hearing a gunshot and when they arrived on scene they found Wysocki in his side yard around 8:45 a.m. Friday.

Wysocki was rushed to Duke University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Florida was contacted by the Cary Police Department on Friday night in reference to a homicide suspect by the name of Eric Engel who was possibly in Marion County, according to a statement issued by the sheriff’s office.

The report said Engel had contacted a family member and confessed to the murder of an elderly man in Cary, N.C., and said he was now at the Anglers Resort in Dunnellon, Fla.

The Dunnellon Police Department, along with a SWAT team from the sheriff’s office, surrounded Room No. 3 of the resort. Contact was made with Engel by phone and he was encouraged to come outside and surrender peacefully.

He did not come outside and was found dead from a gunshot wound.

“At this point we feel confident that there is an end to the Wysocki tragedy,” said Criminal Investigations Division Capt. Don Hamilton of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in a statement. “As we said earlier, we did not believe this was a random act, and based on evidence we cannot disclose at this point we are confident Engel is the man who shot Wysocki.”

via UNH lecturer kills self after alleged murder | SeacoastOnline.com.

Engel had been a lecturer in several colleges in the Tampa and Hillsborough County area of Florida for several years before coming to UNH. Some of the comments on him at RateMyProfessors.com suggest he may have been mentally ill even then. Bear in mind, he’s a professor of communications:

He is very nutrition oriented and structures his speeches around this.

He is helpful but can be very condescending, pretentious, and cold.

This professor turned an already obnoxious undergraduate requirement into an unbearable experience. If you’d like to protect your sanity, choose another professor for this course.

He makes speech difficult and nerve-wrecking. If you want to be stressed for an easy class, then take this guy.

Do not take him!Probably the worst professor at HCC.

Turn things in early for feedback and you can get a much better grade. Be warned that he’s also detail oriented and will take points off for grammar and spelling. I’d recommend him, but I’d also tell others to be sure to read all assignment instructions carefully.

Wait, there are communications professors who don’t take points off for grammar and spelling? Are we kidding ourselves? We’ve had the ill luck to read stuff by recent graduates…

Very Poor. Not helpful. He tries to make it sound like a great class at the start, then he throws a curve ball and screws everyone over. Don’t take him. Public Speaking shouldn’t be a stressful class….

Pretty good teacher.

Very passionate about public speaking, and knows what he’s talking about. I got an A, but I worked pretty hard for it. He is very particular about details when it comes to assignments so make sure you take good notes on exactly how to do that assignment.

weird guy. The first class he did a lousy SNL act that left everyone going huh? He goes a little overboard with communications. Claims it’s his life. weird guy.. Thinks he’s cool. Assigns a ton of work.

That student (note his problems with capitalization, must have driven Engel, er, nuts) said “weird guy” twice. Just sayin’.

He is always willing to help. He does try a little too hard to impress.

Trys to hard to be cool but is a little out there, not a bad guy but i wouldn’t advise this class to anyone.

Communications is his life? Well, we had an 18E like that once. Of course, he wasn’t a “weird guy” and he didn’t whack people for mysterious reasons and blow himself away. That is indeed “a little out there.”

A story from the Manchester NH Union-Leader adds some details. The man he killed was a family friend, and his dissertation sounds like it was a classic of concern trolling:

Engel’s doctoral dissertation last year centered on “incivility in the practice of law in Florida”

The Orlando Sentinel has a little more on the document.

His thesis was called: “Polysemy, Plurality, & Paradigms: The Quixotic Quest for Commensurability of Ethics and Professionalism in the Practices of Law.”

The 339-page document, approved on Nov. 12, addresses the issue of what can be done about “incivility in the practice of law in Florida.”

Incivility. Lord love a duck. We got a murderer wound tight as a watch spring, who made his name, such as it was, with a study of “incivility.” Physician, heal thyself.

A good catch on Remington and Ilion

10x10_Remington-Logo_V01A reader flagged John Richardson to the possibility that Remington’s insistence that all Ilion jobs will stay in Ilion, may be due to provisions in the agreement with United Mine Workers Local 717. John notes:

I was able to look at an earlier collective bargaining agreement between Local 717 and Remington. While I did not find successor language in it, I did see language that mandated certain models produced by Remington must be made in Ilion. Article II- Scope and Coverage, Section g – Job Security says that products such as the Remington Model 7, 700, 7400, and 7600 rifles and the Remington Model 870, 1100, and 1187 shotguns “will continued to be produced only at the Ilion plant”. It did allow for Remington to procure component parts elsewhere. This contract expired in 2007 and I can’t imagine succeeding contracts not containing similar language.

via No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money.

The last thing the Remington leadership wants to do is trigger some clause in their Ilion contract that lets the dead hand of the Mine Workers get a grip on their Huntsville work force.  This is true however good their industrial relations overall in Ilion, and despite the fact that Alabama has a higher level of union membership than other Southern states. (Without digging into numbers we’re not really interested in, that higher level is probably due to unionized government and government-contracting activities, i.e. at Redstone Arsenal, etc.).

Under “successor” language, if a company moves production from the plant under contract to a new plant, the new plant is a “successor” and must also be union. It’s a bit like HIV or Hepatitis C, where the infection can spread through, to steal a line from the Constitution, “corruption of blood.”

That seems a bit harsh, but consider these two things:

  1. How militant Wagner Act unionism has helped turn Detroit into today’s moonscape, abandoned by the families that thrived there 50 years ago, and now populated by a regressed humanity that differs from Wells’s Morlocks principally in its dependency and lack of productivity.
  2. How one of the major spending programs of these unions at the national level is to support exactly the politicians that propose things like the SAFE Act, CAFE mileage rules that favor foreign automakers, unlimited unskilled immigration that depresses Americans’ wages, etc., etc.

Yes, we’re rather far afield from our no-politics ideal, but there it is. The whole question (move or stay?) exists at an intersection of politics, economics, and human-resources management.

The union is only one of the problems with Ilion, but it’s definitely a problem. (Unions may be relatively painless for managers, but they never add value, and their high overhead has to come from the bottom line one way or another). The high cost of operating 19th Century buildings in a cool 44ºN inland climate, is also a factor; the heavy regulatory and tax burdens of New York State are two more.

Ilion, then, can only survive as long as the city’s experienced craftsmen offer greater value than the Alabama workers, who are likely to be operating more sophisticated and newer automated equipment. Previous statements by Remington brass make it clear that they do respect and even celebrate their Ilion workforce, which includes many multi-generational Remington families, and such high-skilled workers as engravers and tool & die makers.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have car bombs

pamela-phillips mugshotOutlaws like, prosecutors say, Pamela Phillips of Aspen. If she looks a little crazy in that 2010 mugshot, she just might be: then, she was ruled too insane to stand trial in the 1996 murder of her ex-husband. Now, she’s supposedly less nuts, and the trial rolls on.

Prosecutors… described Pamela Phillips as a gold digger who hired a former boyfriend to kill businessman Gary Triano to collect on a $2 million life insurance policy. They say she wanted the payout to maintain her lavish lifestyle as her finances dwindled.
It’s been nearly two decades since Triano died when his car exploded as he was leaving a Tucson-area country club after playing golf.
Authorities say Phillips paid ex-boyfriend Ronald Young $400,000 to carry out the hit. Young was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to two life terms in prison, but jurors aren’t allowed to consider his case while determining Phillips’ fate.
Phillips, 56, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder

via Ex-Wife On Trial In Aspen Businessman’s Car Bomb Killing « CBS Denver.

The defense is arguing that Triano was mobbed up, and that his murder was probably what LCN does instead of “Just call Saul.” You can read the whole story, but there’s not enough detail there to develop a strong opinion.

But we do know that Gary Triano is dead, and he was killed by the wide availability of handguns and a whacking great bomb, but mostly by the bomb.

Colt to buy LWRC? Does that make LWRColt?

lwrcolt_logoThe Firearm Blog is reporting that LWRC, which has only just been reported to be up for sale, is already committed to a purchaser — Colt.

We wrote back in August that Colt was looking at a Florida location, in unincorporated Osceola County land near Kissimmee. We’ve since heard rumors that Colt has let their option run out on that facility, and writers who are anti-gun (or opposed to Florida’s Governor) have been bemoaning the failure of the deal and the waste of Florida incentives, but Colt says it’s still coming, and reporters who actually did shoe-leather reporting (unlike the shallow editorializing of the Miami Herald team) found out that Colt plans to start making military weapons in Osceola County. Is that plant going to pick up the LWRC products? LWRC is currently based in gun-hostile Maryland.

A well placed source just told us that Colt is buying LWRC for $60 million. The deal is supposed to close on 1 March. The Maryland company may relocate to Florida or Texas and the LWRC M6 Individual Carbine (M6IC) rifle will become a Colt branded product.

Richard Bernstein purchased LWRC in 2008 for $5 million. Bernstein, who is an owner and investor in a number of private businesses, has been involved in the defense industry for a while now. In 2004 he sold BAI Aerosystems to L-3 Communications (the manufacturer of EOTech Holographic sights). One of his companies was a supplier to LWRC before he purchased it.

Our friends at All Outdoors broke the news yesterday that LWRC was up for sale.

via Breaking News: Colt is buying LWRC for $60 million – The Firearm Blog.

LWRC has had a long and tangled history. As Leitner-Wise Rifle Company, it developed a reliable piston AR, but had some production delays and customer-service problems. LWRC Founder Paul Leitner-Wise was bought out by management, but stayed on for a while. Leitner-Wise was squeezed out several months after the buyout, after an unseemly series of revelations of sock-puppetry and bogus claims that SF was using the company’s rifles.  With L-W fired, and his stock bought out, the company renamed itself Land Warfare Resources Corporation (Springfield, VA) and pushed hard for military sales — including doing actual demos to SF, competing in the USMC Infantry Automatic Rifle competition, and competing in the ill-starred Army Individual Carbine competition. Here’s a shot of the LWRC entry in the Marines’ IAR competition:

LWRC IAR submission open

In January, 2008, about a year and a half after Leitner-Wise was canned, and so about two years after the management buyout, management sold out to the owners of another defense contractor (and one which made some parts for LWRC), Matech. (The companies didn’t merge, some Matech owners bought LWRC as a going concern). LWRC relocated in Q2 2008 to Cambridge, Maryland and was renamed LWRC International.

LWRC’s piston/op-rod mechanism is lighter than some competing pistons (H&K for one).

LWRC has also been pushing the 6.8 SPC cartridge, a round codeveloped by Remington and SF. LWRC is familiar to many who have never shot one of the company’s rifles because of its aggressive advertising posture. (So can we name one of the big losers here? Gun magazines. Colt, a much larger company, advertises far less than LWRC has done).

Paul Leitner-Wise has since founded a competing company.

No word on what the sale means to LWRC’s product line or to Colt’s very similar products… or to the fate of that factory in Florida. We know what selling a $5M 2008 purchase means for Mr Bernstein, though — one hell of a return on investment. Congratulations.