Monday, October 29, 2018

Yet Another Case Study: Pittsburgh, October 27 2018

The latest tragedy occurred at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

11 people were killed and six wounded by a man who had no prior interactions with law enforcement or any mental health system, had guns purchased legally, and exhibited no overt signs that would suggest a pending attack.

Investigators will be sifting through evidence and testimony for a while, but a few facts have been established about this incident:
  • The assailant walked unimpeded through an unlocked exterior door
  • The assailant retreated back into the target area after encountering responding law enforcement
  • No one inside could or would counter the force wielded by the assailant
  • Evacuations to hide locations kept some out of the line of fire
  • The assailant's position inside the facility delayed medical first responders
  • Most injuries and fatal wounds happened within five minutes of the assailant's initial attack
  • A 911 call was placed two minutes after the first shots fired
  • Local LEO responded "immediately," but it's not clear how many, what type, and how long before responding officers engaged the assailant
  • The assailant was armed with multiple weapons, including one long gun and three handguns
  • The assailant acted alone
  • The attack was stopped when the assailant received return fire (e.g was met with equal force)

Some conclusions based on these facts:
  • Access control is critical: unlocked, unattended doors permit malefactors immediate access to targets
  • Law Enforcement response is after a crime is committed. We are on our own until police and medical responders arrive and take control of the scene. Therefore, a two-minute response time on scene is fast -- but meaningless if it takes 10 minutes to secure the space.
  • Hiding can be effective, especially if response is swift. Exiting the facility is usually the best option, but hiding is next best. Any civilian responders inside the building should move in such a way as to prevent the attacker from encountering those in hide positions.
  • An attacker with multiple weapons is carrying several because he/she is unable to rapidly reload. The time required to change firearms (especially if they are different) is longer than a magazine change for even experienced shooters. It is also likely that the attacker will need several shots to adjust from a rifle to a handgun. This transition period is likely the best time to engage an attacker.
  • Any lethal force response to an attacker will slow or even stop the attack (whether of not the attacker is hit). According to FBI Active Shooter research, the majority of attackers immediately cease when engaged, hit, or succumb to self-inflicted wounds.
Bottom Line: Enange an attacker with lethal force as soon as practicable while maintaining protection of unarmed civilians in hide or escape positions. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Springfield Armory Range Officer 5" .45 ACP 1911-A1 Review

The last time I fired a 1911-A1 was around 1990, one of the few still in the inventory of the Army National Guard. It rattled like spoons in a bag. When I asked about the rattle I was told "It's worn-out...”

(Of course that's not correct, but I doubt the sergeant issuing the weapons knew any better. I certainly didn't. Plus, tankers lump military sidearms with bayonets and gas masks -- annoying, unnecessary gear that only to adds weight and turn-in cleaning time. So handgun qualification was a required formality that simply got in the way of real training).

US Government Issue M1911A1 and Holster
After a dalliance with .40 caliber Glocks, my civilian carry choice shifted to 9mm due to the availability and price of practice ammo, the capacity of 9mm magazines and the quality and ergonomics of the small, concealable 9mm handguns becoming available (such as the 2006 Smith and Wesson M&P9c, and the 2007 Walther PPS).

While the newer guns are nice, if you're an American interested in handguns you really need a 1911 that fires .45 ACP. John Browning's 1911 is the sine qua non of American handheld firepower. In these times of American resurgence, doesn't it make sense to load and shoot .45 ACP? And shouldn't those .45 230 grain FMJ bullets travel through the barrel of a 1911-A1?

Of course.
John Moses Browning wants you to own a 1911. Listen to John Moses Browning.
It doesn't take long to be overwhelmed by the variety of current 1911 choices: Wilson Combat, Les Baer, Dan Wesson, Colt, Sig Sauer, Smith and Wesson, Kimber, Springfield Armory, and many others.

We are living in the golden age of 1911, with many, many excellent builders.

After many hours viewing various models and eventually adjusting to fiscal realities (superfine quality isn't cheap!), I settled on either a Kimber or Springfield Armory.

Eventually, Springfield Armory (SA) won me over to the Range Officer (RO) with its parkerized finish, standard features, and no-nonsense look.

It helped that each model was the bottom on the cost scale, but I would rather buy a quality foundation and add the custom items I want, rather than paying upfront for items the vendor thinks I might want. The consensus among the more knowledgeable is that a SA RO is a good base from which to build up. The fundamentals are there.

So I plunked down an order with on Friday. The following Wednesday the SA Range Officer arrived at my favorite FFL (Charlie Smithgall, former mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, cannon enthusiast, and pharmacist).

I took it home, opened up the very nice case, and was pleased to see a very large, very utilitarian-looking pistol. The RO is no display piece -- the Parkerized finish means business.

According to Calvan, a company that sells parkerizing kits,"Parkerizing or Phosphating is a Metal Finish that really gained in popularity during WW2 when the US Government was looking to replace the typical blued finish on most small arms with a Rust Resistant and Anti Reflective Finish that would be both Durable and Abrasion Resistant and hold up in all weather extremes, for this they chose Parkerizing or Phosphating."

NOTE: It's important to note that Parkerizing is intended to be oiled, but this is not mentioned in the SA Owners Manual. I have been using CLP and it seems to be working fine.
The pistol feels right in the hand. The longer, higher beavertail is welcome over the MIL-SPEC original. The grips are very nice. The sights are -- fine. But I plan to to replace them.

After a few hours getting familiar with the firearm I re-learned how to tear it down (simple, once you get it). I cleaned everything, put it back together, function-checked, and got ready to head to the range.

I'll write up a range report in a follow-up post.

FBI Report Confirms Concealed Carry Permit Holders End Armed Attacks and Avoid Shooting Bystanders

In the FBI the report entitled "Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017," five incidents are acknowledged to have been ended by a Concealed Carry permit holder (not Law Enforcement or Armed Security):

Schlenker Automotive (Commerce)

On November 17, 2017, at 4:30 p.m., Robert Lorenzo Bailey, Jr., 28, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of Schlenker Automotive in Rockledge, Florida. The manager of the auto repair shop and an employee, both possessing valid firearms permits, exchanged gunfire with the shooter. One person was killed; one was wounded. The shooter, shot twice during the exchange, was held at gunpoint by the manager until law enforcement arrived and took him into custody.

First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (House of Worship)

On November 5, 2017, at 11:20 a.m., Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, armed with a rifle, exited his vehicle and began shooting outside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He then entered the church and continued shooting at members of the congregation. The shooter exited the church and was confronted by a citizen who possessed a valid firearms permit. The citizen shot the shooter twice, causing the shooter to drop his rifle and flee the scene in his vehicle. The armed citizen, together with the owner of a pickup truck, pursued the shooter. The chase ended when the shooter’s vehicle struck a road sign and overturned. Twenty-six people were killed; 20 were wounded. The shooter committed suicide with a handgun he had in his vehicle before police arrived.

Townville Elementary School (Education)

On September 28, 2016, at 1:45 p.m., Jesse Dewitt Osborne, 14, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting at the Townville Elementary School playground in Townville, South Carolina. Prior to the shooting, the shooter, a former student, killed his father at their home. Two people were killed, including one student; three were wounded, one teacher and two students. A volunteer firefighter, who possessed a valid firearms permit, restrained the shooter until law enforcement officers arrived and apprehended him.

Burnette Chapel Church of Christ (House of Worship)

On September 24, 2017, at 11:15 a.m., Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, armed with two handguns, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee. After killing one person, the shooter entered the church and shot six people. A citizen who attempted to subdue the shooter was pistol-whipped. During the altercation, the shooter accidently shot himself. While the shooter was preoccupied, the citizen, who possessed a valid firearms permit, retrieved a handgun from his car and held the shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived. One person was killed; seven were wounded. The shooter was apprehended by law enforcement.

Multiple Locations in Clearlake Oaks, California (Commerce)

On October 23, 2017, at 11:23 a.m., Alan Ashmore, 61, armed with a shotgun and a handgun, allegedly began firing into several homes and a vehicle in Clearlake Oaks, California, killing two people, including his father, and wounding one. Another person was wounded while fleeing out of a residence window. The shooter then shot and wounded a responding law enforcement officer before fleeing in his vehicle. The shooter drove to a nearby gas station and exchanged gunfire with the vendor, who possessed a valid firearms permit. The shooter fled the scene in his vehicle and drove to another gas station where he fired more shots.

Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center (Health Care)

On July 24, 2014, at 2:20 p.m., Richard Steven Plotts, 49, armed with a handgun entered his psychiatrist’s office at Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center in Darby, Pennsylvania, and began shooting, killing his caseworker and wounding his doctor. The doctor, who possessed a valid firearms permit, returned fire. One person was killed; 1 was wounded. Employees restrained the wounded shooter until law enforcement arrived.

North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago (Open Space)

On April 19, 2015, at 11:50 p.m., Everardo Custodio, 21, armed with a handgun, began shooting into a crowd of people on North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. No one was killed or wounded. A citizen with a valid firearms permit shot the suspect and restrained him until law enforcement arrived and took him into custody.

Another interesting fact buried deep in this report is that NO innocent bystanders were injured or killed by a Concealed Carry Permit holder engaging and armed assailant.

Yet this list is woefully incomplete. Read this article for more cases the FBI choose not to include in the latest report.

The Assertion that Firearms are designed to kill

A common "talking point" circulating in the "gun control" debate is: "Firearms are designed to kill." I have s...