It’s Wednesday (again), but I’ve got happiness for you: the Hump Day Reading List! This week we look at a defensive shooting that really wasn’t; why you fear a knife attack; Ian McCollum brings us an interesting .22 rifle from the days of yore; quick-access safes may not be all that safe; the AR-15 takes on all comers, and emerges victorious; when is a leg wound an abdominal wound?; carrying while on vacation; and Greg Ellifritz brings us some lessons from a well-known mass casualty attack.
Do stupid things, go to jail. Or worse.
I’ve been following (and sharing) this case since its inception, and as I’ve said before: this is what can happen when you use lethal force indiscriminately and inappropriately. In short: the homeowner, David McLaughlin, heard his garage burglar alarm go off during the night and ran out of his house, shooting warning shots into the air. He chased a shadowy figure out of the garage and down an alley, shooting three more shots directly at the running man. He hit the burglar in the arm, doing substantial damage to the miscreant’s blood vessels and nerves; the burglar will never have full use of his arm again. (This is not me feeling sorry for him, simply stating the facts.) McLaughlin was convicted of criminal recklessness and served a short jail sentence, along with three years of probation.
Now the burglar is suing McLaughlin for the damage done to his arm. I’ll be very surprised if McLaughlin wins the civil suit, because his actions have already been judged as reckless. Frankly, he used lethal force when he shouldn’t have and is being held accountable for his bad judgement. In addition to being sued (and will likely end up paying a large sum to a known felon), he’s also spent time in jail, incurred legal fees that will no doubt leave him indebted for the rest of his life even before factoring in the civil suit, has a criminal record, can no longer vote nor own a firearm, and probably no job (he worked for the Postal Service.) I’ll bet he really wishes he’d known a little more about the proper place and application of lethal force before running out of his house with his gun blazing! The only thing he can consider fortunate is that he didn’t kill the burglar; if he had, he’d be looking at many years in prison.
Think about Mr. McLaughlin, and then tell me that a class in the judicious use of deadly force — like Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 — is “too expensive”. Tell me that you don’t have time to listen to an excellent DVD on the subject, such as Claude Werner’s “Serious Mistakes Gun Owners Make”. Either of those, had he paid even a modicum of attention, might have saved McLaughlin money, heartache, and loss of civil liberties.
Knife or gun: which scares you more?
I’ve often said, along with many others, that I’m more scared of a knife than a gun. Why is that? Is it because of the damage the knife can cause, even though statistically I’m in more danger from a bullet? Might it be something else? More importantly, is that fear inhibiting my ability to defend myself against a knife-wielding attacker? In the first article of a planned series, my friend Alessandro Padovani — one of the most knowledgeable knife instructors I know — takes a deep look at the fear of the blade and comes up with some intriguing answers.
A rifle made to take with you. If you lived in 1897 and bicycled.
Back in the days before “kids and guns” wasn’t a sensationalist headline, a .22 rifle was a common gift to a growing lad. (Yes, lad. Back then women and guns didn’t mix a whole lot, Annie Oakley notwithstanding.) Since kids back then didn’t have automobiles (very few people did, in fact) they either walked or bicycled — carrying their rifles with them. Marlin had a great idea to make a shortened version of their very popular 1897 rimfire rifle that would fit into a special case that would hang from the top tube of a bicycle frame. What a great idea! Trouble is that no one else thought so and they only made 197 of the things. So, where do you go when you want to look at an extremely rare firearm that you’ll never get your own hands on? Why, to Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons, of course!
So much for security!
I’m a big proponent of the idea of a quick-access safe to hold a firearm in a restricted condition but allow you nearly immediate use of the gun. The only problem is that a lot of them, particularly the more convenience-oriented types, aren’t all that secure. While they can still fulfill the mission of controlled access in defined situations, they shouldn’t be considered as any sort of permanent or truly secure storage. (Even my favorite, the Hornady Rapid Safe, is as easily compromised as this GunVault was.) Are there more secure rapid access safes on the market? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t know which to point you to.
There’s a reason we’re still using the AR-15 design.
One of the things that I’ve noticed after quite a few years of playing with rifles, and that is how good the AR-15 really is. It’s reliable, ergonomic, accurate, flexible, resistant to dirt and debris, easy to maintain, and lightweight. In fact, when you compare it to almost any other arm in the world — new or old — it still stands on its own. Lots of other designs have tried to dethrone it, and failed.
Bullets can do odd things when they contact flesh.
First, a warning: this article is not for the squeamish! That being said, this is an interesting account of what appeared to be a leg wound, but ended up with significant damage to the patient’s internal organs from a bullet that veered off-course once it hit. Bullets can go in very unexpected directions; if you’re treating a gunshot wound in an emergency situation, you need to be alert for signs of other trauma as well.
To carry or not to carry on vacation?
You’re planning a trip across several states. Do you take your defensive firearm with you? What are the risks — from both criminal attack and an unintentional violation of a state’s statutes? Here’s a tale of one man’s agonizing decision, the lesson being: do your homework, plan carefully, and if nothing else have a secure, locked container in your trunk into which your gun(s) can go!
Lessons learned from a horrific attack.
The Aurora Theater attack in 2012 killed 12 people and injured some 70 others. The attacker planned his killing spree carefully, including rigging homemade explosive devices in his apartment to kill the police investigators he knew would eventually arrive there. On Greg Ellifritz’s blog he shares an excellent article by EdMonk on ten lessons armed citizens can take from this mass casualty incident.
– Grant Cunningham
Opening photo: “Camelus dromedarius at Tierpark Berlin” by Agadez – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons