Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

If my math is right, 'Murica turns 237 years old tomorrow.  Have you ever stopped to think how blessed we are by the fact we are citizens of this great experiment in self government?  If you haven't, just take a look at what happened in Egypt today

Of course, the entire time I watched the footage, this kept running through my head:

You People Are Divisive.  And A Terror Threat.
According to the Daily Caller, some 26% of President Obama's supporters believe the tea party is America's top terror threat.  I'm scratching my head to come up with one act of terror committed by a tea party member, despite the media's best efforts to blame the Aurora theater shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing on them. 
It should come as no surprise then that some believe we are more divided as a country than ever before.  The Atlantic ran this story, with charts and all, to prove to us just how much we hate each other and wish the other side would crawl into a hole and die.  (If you think I'm engaging in hyperbole with that last statement, just read the comments to the story.)
Yes, we are a divided people.  It's easier to sort people into two bins - us and them - rather than to study issues ourselves and form our own opinions.  We blame politicians for much of this, yet we are the ones who vote them into office.
While we cannot control how the media will portray us, we still need to make sure that we're doing the basics of good citizenship really well.  I blogged about this in the past, and I'd like to think it's good guidance.  At the end of the day, we need to be setting a good example for our causes of preparedness, liberty and personal responsibility.  If someone is going to criticize us, let's make sure it's not justified.

"Lawyers Know Little About Guns, Experts Often Make Mistakes, And Juries Think They Are All Scary."
I made this comment earlier today to Karl Rehn of KR Training fame after tipping him off to the fact that Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) expert Amy Siewert was on the stand in the George Zimmerman trial this morning.  She is the prosecution's expert on firearms, who examined the gun and other key evidence.  Here are bullet points of some of her testimony:
  • The trigger pull (the force required on the trigger to discharge the weapon) measured within factory specifications.
  • She measured the trigger pull to be around 4.5 pounds and said such a trigger pull is normal in her case work.
  • The gun's magazine was completely full when gun was fired, indicating the gun started with a full magazine with a round already in the chamber.
  • Interestingly, she provided no meaningful discussion as the choice of ammunition Zimmerman was using.
  • Testing showed it was a contact shot, meaning the gun was pressed up against Martin's sweatshirt when it was discharged. 
  • Defense counsel establishes gun is a double action only (DAO) gun.  She admitted that the double action design is a "safety feature."
  • She seemed somewhat critical of single action due to lighter trigger pull inherent with single action guns.
  • She admits that the combination of DAO, the hammer block safety feature in the gun, and the fact the gun is never cocked until the trigger is pulled make the gun safe. 
  • She also admits that the trigger travel distance (the distance the trigger must be pulled to discharge the weapon) is an additional safety feature.
  • She agrees that the gun is safe to be carried loaded with a round in the chamber, as police officers carry their self defense weapons like this regularly.
  • She told the jury the gun did not have an external safety which had to be turned off prior to firing.

It was clear to me that the lawyers in this case don't know enough about firearms, and that Ms. Siewert, while polished, said some things that were flat out inaccurate.
Here are my takeaways from her testimony:
  1. You will likely need your own expert to testify on firearms.  I don't know if the defense team has one lined up.  Experts cost a lot of money, so you'll need to be prepared.  One way to do that is to join a group like the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network as well as purchasing insurance coverage from the NRA.
  2.  Do not put "trigger jobs" on your self defense firearms.  I will readily admit I am in the minority view on this, as many excellent firearms instructors will tell you just the opposite.  A trigger job reduces the amount of pressure on the trigger that is required to make the gun discharge.  They may also improve the feel of the trigger for certain guns.  Gun owners like this as it tends to make the gun more accurate, permitting more precise shots.  However, I can assure that had Zimmerman had a trigger job on his gun, the prosecution would have used that as evidence of a "depraved mind" that is necessary to get a Murder 2 conviction.  The benefits of trigger jobs are far outweighed by their liability, in my opinion.  Having to explain why you installed one on your gun to a jury is not a position you want to be in.  And that's coming from someone who has in fact had to explain complex issues to a jury.
  3. Do not carry your firearms with the magazines completely loaded.  Not only is this going to be used against Zimmerman as evidence that he had a depraved mind (I would submit it proves nothing of the sort), you run the risk of a gun malfunction if you jam the magazine completely full of ammo.  For smaller magazines, I would carry one less round than capacity; for larger ones, I'd leave room for two rounds in the magazine.  If you're concerned about not having enough ammo, consider carrying a spare magazine on you - it's not just for the additional ammo, but it's also good insurance should your first magazine malfunction.

Open Source On "What To Carry In Restrictive Environments?"

I will be on the road soon, spending time in liberty restricting states.  That being said, I'm looking to revise what I take with me on these trips to be better prepared.

I read this article some time ago - it's a fascinating story of how a gold mining company figured out where the gold deposits were by making all of its geological data public.  The company broke the "OpSec" rules so to speak, and as a result, was rewarded many times over.

And so this evening, I pose the question to you:  If you were going to be spending a lot of time in places like California or Washington, DC, what sort of items would you want on you or near you to deal with possible emergencies?  Feel free to email me or leave comments on my Facebook page. 

Take Time To Learn Other Skills As Well
After swearing for ages I would never do it, I finally realized that my professional skill set would be greatly improved if I took up golf.  And so in June I began lessons to learn how to play.  I even got fitted for custom made golf clubs this afternoon.
I still don't know if I will enjoy golf, but it will give me an opportunity to be more engaged in the nuances associated with government affairs work - namely, attending the various golf tournament fundraisers that both Republicans and Democrats have. 
Learning a preparedness skill may be fun and make you feel better, sometimes there are other skills that are more practical and will help your career long term.  Don't get fixated on just learning self sufficiency.  Go learn to do something that helps your career or that looks fun to you.


  1. SDS,

    You seem to think that a full magazine would indicate (possibly) a 'depraved state of mind' but wouldn't having a spare magazine be even worse in that regards?
    If I was a prosecutor, I would point out that "hey the cops need extras because they might deal with more than one person" but the average guy just running out to the store...does he 'really' expect that much trouble?

    I think the testimony about how law enforcement carries firearms in the same manner as Zimmerman did was very telling. It certainly establishes that he followed recognized best practices and wasn't excessive in doing so. And given the Kel-Tec PF9 only holds 7 rounds down loading 1 or 2 rounds seems like a really bad idea.

    Why would a person want to have to risk a reload instead of having that extra two rounds?

    1. Good question. I start with the premise that the jury is most likely not well versed in firearm mechanics or self defense tactics, and thus they would be more apt to accept erroneous arguments the government might make about Zimmerman having a full magazine.

      If I am defending Zimmerman, it's easy to explain the second magazine - just ask the cops on the stand. The cops carry extras, as you point out, not only because they may be dealing with multiple threats, but also because the one in the gun may malfunction.

    2. SDS,
      I guess I approach it from a different direction. My first priority is to survive an encounter; deliberately restricting ammunition capacity in my firearm doesn't seem to help that.

      Second, I think it would also be counter productive in front of a jury. Given that it would be likely I've explained my reasoning to someone or would have to explain it to the police -- wouldn't that seem like planning or forethought -- the ill-will at issue in the Zimmerman trial?

  2. As for restricting ammo in your gun, there are a number of authorities who recommend not loading your magazine completely full, purely for mechanical reasons.

    Further, the data shows that in most self defense shootings, the gun owner rarely if ever reloads. The FBI's own data confirms that the majority of self defense gunfights occur at 3 yards or less, involve three rounds being fired, and are completely over in 3 seconds (Hence the name "the rule of 3s."

    As for your second concern, it again depends on your ability to explain why you carry a second magazine. For most of us, a second magazine means we have an extra in case the first one malfunctions.

    As I point out in the blog, anyone who uses a gun in self defense should count on having to hire an expert to defend themselves in court. Your expert will be the one who will explain the reasoning behind the second magazine. Of course, I'd want the arresting cop to tell the jury why he or she has extra magazines. Because their answer will sound a lot like my expert's.