Showing posts with label crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crime. Show all posts

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Police and Law Enforcement Today: Part 2 Modern Vs Militarization

We began this conversation

Police and Law Enforcement Today: Part 1Beginning the Discussion awhile back and for reasons I cannot recall it fell off. Anyway with the whole Ferguson, MO mess and the discussion that came from it we are back here.

I should note that in terms of police equipment and behavior it is easy to look back with rose colored glasses. 

Tam brought up the point that at least during the early part of the 20th century Police were better armed than our military and used some very aggressive tactics.

She is interviewed about this topic by Cam and CO on NRA Radio, that section goes from roughly 1:20 to 1:29.

Also as Tam noted there was certainly rather arbitrary use of force in a lot of places. Skipping ahead I would note this force was generally confined to folks acting a fool or outright bad guys, though as AM noted everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That being said there were certainly some abuses and if I were brown, black, in a union, or a hippie I might feel a lot differently on the matter from roughly the beginning of time till not too long ago.

Going back a bit further in American history and I think the pool of guns available to law enforcement was largely the same though they might individually prioritize them higher and thus end up with say an early pump action shotgun vs a generic coach gun or the like.

I want LEOs to have access to the modern tools they need. We do not expect them to ride horses or drive Model T Fords so why should their weapons and PPE be any different.

In 1890 an LEO might have had a SAA or new fangled DA revolver in .44/.45 on his hip and a .45 colt or 45-70 lever action in a scabbard on his trusty horse. 

In 1960 an LEO almost surely had a DA service revolver in .38 special or .357mag on his hip and a pump shotgun in the trunk of his big ole Ford sedan.

Today an LEO almost surely carries some sort of double stack semi automatic pistol, probably a striker fired 'universal service pistol' like a Glock or M&P. That LEO might also have a semi automatic AR-15 in an M4 type configuration and a plate carrier in the back of a Crown Vic or Interceptor. This is just the modern equivalent of the same thing. As Tam mentioned it would be pretty hypocritical to say a cop should not have an AR and a plate carrier but I can

 Tam said the problem is "tactics not tools" and up to modern individual weapons and PPE I agree. Some folks say that stuff should just be for SWAT teams but I disagree. I disagree for two reasons. First those tools are the modern equivalent of older tools long used by normal lawmen. Second and arguably more importantly the first officers on the scene at the next school shooting or Chechen style rampage attack will be some normal cop nearby on patrol, not Sammy Swat. 

Now if we start talking about MRAPs, belt fed automatic weapons, anti material rifles, etc I do not personally see legitimate reasons for cops to have them, especially in the numbers and locations they currently are at. Maybe one could argue Houston, LA, ATL, etc could use a (single) MRAP and a pair of Barret .50 cals due to the large area and the relative propensity for major violent crimes but Anytown USA population 35,000 doesn't need a pair of MRAPs, a few machine guns and some .50's.

I feel like this piece of the overall topic has been covered. Next we will talk the 'tactics' piece.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Managing Unknown Contacts by Southnarc

Hat tip to Defensive Training Group for finding this gem. Southnarc AKA Craig is one of the foremost experts  on the dynamics of inter personal criminal violence and definitely the foremost trainer on handling real up close personal violence. I am not saying there aren't some grizzled cops in Phoenix, Houston, LA, etc who do not have the same knowledge but they are not out teaching it to normal citizens.

Like many of you I have a list of classes to take. Mine is:pistol class, advanced pistol class, shotgun class, maybe a good precision rifle class and Southnarc's ECQC. You might note that ECQC is the only class specifically listed. The reason is that while I am truly picky about instructors (if my bad ass bio is better than theirs I pass) there are lots of great people out there doing the rest of that stuff.

Anyway the techniques laid out in this article are an excellent way to frame situations to prevent violence from occuring in the first place or at least set conditions to win.

I should note this stuff meshes pretty heavily with Street Robberies and You.

Would add stuff personally but Craig hits the nail strait on the head.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Police and Law Enforcement Today: Part 1 Beginning the Discussion

A discussion in the comments section of our last post with longtime blog reader/ commenter 3rd Man brought us to this topic. I realized that I could not possibly cover all my thoughts on this topic in a post. Breaking it up into a series to talk the different issues involved in isolation makes the most sense to me.

I hesitate to say this is going to be a thesis or outline but my goal in this post is to frame my general thoughts and start the discussion. Honestly there is a reason I titled this Part 1 vs Part 1 of X. I'm not entirely sure where this series is going or for that matter how far it is going. If I can put together some cohesive posts and you folks enjoy them it might be a several part series. If I'm scraping for ideas and you all don't chime into the comments section, link to it, etc it might be just a couple posts. So anyway here we go.

 So here we go.

We need cops. Despite what fools may think everybody deciding whatever justice is to them doesn't work. It inevitably degenerates to "well if they don't agree with me I'll hurt them" which is a level of thinking acceptable in a toddler but not an adult. Functional societies have laws and naturally need mechanisms to enforce their laws. At smaller levels we often see part time type enforcers of justice and social norms from the Arbakai to Hector on Longmire. Beyond the super small tribal level these come in the form of some sort of armed group charged with enforcing said laws as well as being the first arbiter for dispute resolution beyond the individual or family level.

Inevitably cops (to use a generic term for law enforcement) will come across people who do not want to stop being jerks or get detained. That in fact might be the understatement of the week. As such I do not see an issue with cops using reasonable force to protect innocent life, do their job and ensure their own survival (we will revisit 'officer safety' at length later) and naturally they will need to be equipped to do that.

To directly reply to part of 3rd Man's lengthy comment(s). I do not have an issue with cops being a bit rough at times. If a scumbag's head bumps into a door I won't cry any tears. I do not even have an issue with cops killing people. I wish the greater Columbus, Ga/ Phoenix City Al and South Eastern Arizona (2 of the last 3 places in the US I've lived) both had a dozen Jim Cirillo's out shooting robbers. If cops and various law enforcement types went on a full up covert direct action fight against drug cartels including incursions  into Mexico I would be fine with that. In fact I would try to get there to help.

The problem is when cops mistreat, injure or kill the wrong people, specifically normal everyday citizens. Unlike the past (say mid 80's to toss out an arbitrary date) due to the war on drug's and a million silly morality legislating laws the percentage of reasonably normal, if imperfect, citizens at odds with our codified laws is at an unprecedented level. So the techniques that are reasonably acceptable against dirt bag's are now being applied to normal people who run afoul of some silly law.

My concerns with contemporary law enforcement in America are as follows:
1) A 'we vs they' paradigm that seems to be growing wider every year.
2) No knock warrants.
3) Increased militarization which leaks into tactics and ultimately mindset.
4) Functional lack of accountability for abuse and flagrant misuse of force.
5) Less lethal weapons being used as the answer to every problem.
6) The incentive to seize anything and everything due to it's affect on their funding.
7) Political/ social targeting of lawful individuals using law enforcement as a mechanism.

During this series I will talk more about these problems and take a stab at what I feel might be some realistic solutions for them.

So those are my general thoughts on that. We'll continue the discussion soon.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tab Clearing

I prefer rifles to shotguns but for those looking to defend home and hearth on a budget the pump shotgun (Rem 870 or Moss 500) is a capable weapon at an awesome value. Inside the house a $400 shotgun is almost as capable as a $1,200 AR. Given that shotgun fights do not last long I would be quite comfortable with the more affordable option.

Street Robberies and you is a pretty interesting post over at ARF. Of course we do not KNOW the author but it rings of truth to me. My thoughts: Making eye contact is significant. First it shows you are aware of the person, second that you could probably identify them. Third like the article says you can show you have a gun in a way that probably (I'm not a lawyer, blah, blah, blah) does not cross into brandishing territory but gets the point across. The universal hand on the gun under clothing is a pretty solid "you don't want to mess with me, I'm packing" indicator. If you do those 2 things the odds somebody is going to attack you unless they know/ believe strongly you have something really good to take (lots of cash, drugs, etc) drop to about nil. Good for a read and some thought anyway.

Along those lines take the damn ear buds out of your ears and put your blankety blankets smart phone away whilst you are walking and driving. Also pay attention to what is happening around you and pack a heater.

Bayou Renaissance Man replied to my recent Bugging Out Revisited post that this article at his place may be of interest.Good stuff worth reading.

Lastly 6 Abandoned Sites that would make Great Supervillan Lair's.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Man Points Gun At Carjackers Head

Here is a hint. Avoid carjacking large men wearing Carharts. Doubly so if they have crazy facial hair. Gun or no gun it probably isn't going to be easy.
Seriously, who picks this guy to mess with?  Read the story here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blah Day But Great Ammo Deal

It seems the Knock Out Game is spreading to Philly as well as most large eastern cities full of "urban youth". It is reaching critical mass to the point that even the MSM can't ignore it. Honestly this so called "game" played solely by young black men does not worry me at all personally. I do not live in a place where that sort of thing happens and are not out late anyway (sure some of these incidents are at 2pm on a Saturday but a lot also happen late). When it comes down to it I am not, nor do I physically look like a victim. That being said not everyone is a young aggressive guy with some training. Plenty of fine people fall into the broad victim category and happen to live in large urban areas. I'm not sure where this trend will go but it could easily get really bad. I fear "urban youth" do not know just how crazy whitey can get.

The Senate passed The Nuclear Option so basically the majority party can confirm whatever nominees they want. Aside from the short term power grab for a real long term risk I am ambivalent about what it means politically. That being said in my mind the senate's best quality has been that it's numerous committees, arcane complicated rules and customs made it so almost nothing ever happens so I'm not a fan of this.

On the plus side I got 2x 250rd boxes of Remington UMC 9mm for $69 a piece before tax. That is almost 30% less than the best deal on bulk 9mm FMJ I've seen lately. Range fodder has been in thin supply for so long I buy it whenever I find relatively good prices; though the situation finally seems to be improving.

Defensive 9mm ammo has been available for awhile but stuff for training, practice and just plain fun has been hard to come by for almost a year. This purchase sets me up 2/3rds of the way for an upcoming class at a good price without needing to dip into the stash. That makes me happy.

Other than that it's been a long day and I am pretty tired. Going to try to hit the sack early.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Real World Defensive Considerations

Spent some time with a career cop turned private investigator recently. Learned a few interesting things.

-Criminals choose targets for 3 reasons: High payoff, soft target and personal reasons.

High Payoff is pretty easy. Typically it means they know (or think they know) the target has drugs, jewelry, money, guns or other readily transferable compact high value items.

Soft targets are generally pretty simple also. The house where they do not have a fence, a big dog, an alarm system, etc is easier to break into than most. A staggering drunk is easy to rob. Some targets are almost too good to turn down.

Also soft targets sort of include the subset of "Targets of Opportunity." These are different from the soft target in that the situation is usually temporary and random thus unlikely to be observed and targeted as part of some criminal operational cycle. Wrong place, wrong time if you will. An example for this might be a woman who stayed in a local hotel and went running very early that happened to end up in a bad neighborhood then had the further bad luck to cross paths with a rapist. The odds of that situation occurring again are tiny but it happened.

Personal reasons are sort of nebulous. However I suspect that as a rule normal well adjusted people harm their acquaintances, friends and family at a much lower percentages than career criminals, gang members and (hard) drug users. While people of all lifestyles do in fact harm each other the odds of a crack party going bad are far higher than somebody ending up dead at a church banquet. Something to think about.

There was a very good reminder to lock your darn doors. Sparing the bad stories sometimes the reason house B and it's residents are attacked instead of house A is that A's door was locked and B's was open.

Hope this give you a few things to think about. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Somebody's Killing DA's in Texas

The Kaufman county DA and his wife were found dead. Maybe it's drug cartel business moving north or something to do with the Aryan Brotherhood. One of his ADA's was shot in broad daylight two months ago. Is this related to that mess with the Colorado prison Executive director getting killed, by a rather white fellow, not so long ago? My gut says a large criminal enterprise( or two) killing important government officials in the same region right around the same time isn't a coincidence.

This definitely is not good.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Doug MacRay: I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people."

"James Coughlin: ...Whose car are we gonna' take?"

-The Town

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thoughts on Insurgencies 7: How They Happen, Advantages and Disadvantages

An insurgency could be defined as an armed competition for the heart of the people and thus power. Almost without exception insurgencies involve at least one non state actor otherwise they would just be a war.

Insurgencies develop when a group of people feels they are facing injustice (real or perceived) and either cannot or do not want to participate in the main stream political process. That they do not have the numbers/ influence to achieve their goals through normal political channels leads these groups to take up arms. I do not find ethics or value judgements to be particularly useful here. Many groups in the middle east as well as Africa had really legitimate cases to pick up arms but happened to be Islamic and or Communist a holes.

Folks like to talk about the white Afrikaners and Rhodesia's.  A small minority holding all of the power and most of the wealth in a system with very limited mobility is a good way to make the other people angry. That the small minority happen to be a different color than the poor majority is a real problem. Also it makes for a very good case as to why that system should be changed through violence. Of course sooner or later the many will question why they are so blatantly and brutally held down by the few. That the commie's would give these disenchanted groups indoctrination, training and weapons was just icing on the cake.

I cannot say it is a 1-1 thing but for insurgencies to really have a chance to take roots a lot of people need to be pretty unhappy as happy people do not fight their own government. The government needs to be incapable or unwilling to address their real or perceived issues that are making people so unhappy. Governments that are healthy have the right combination of being aware and able to address, if just in a token way peoples needs and having a viable security apparatus to keep the lid on things. So we have a couple conditions. We need a fairly large group of people that are really unhappy with their government and a government that cannot or will not address their needs and or shut them down with the security apparatus.

Now we have these two (or more but let's stick with two right now) opposing groups with a bunch of normal folks stuck in the middle. The government wants to maintain the status quo and the insurgents/ guerrillas want to be in charge or have some freedom or see land distribution in their favor or whatever. The government could be broken down into foreign or local. Foreign being the classic usually European Empire (say the Brit's in Malaysia, Kenya or whatever) and local (Rhodesia back in the day or Syria right now are fine examples). The difference is notable in that foreign or predominantly foreign (there is always a proxy force) forces have far less of a stomach for a long fight. It is pretty natural that folks will eventually give up on keeping/ taking over Nowhereistan and go back home. On the other hand and equally naturally people will fight tooth and nail to stay in power at home. This is why you see a lot more 10, 20 or 30 year conflicts between the local (national or state) regime and people who do not like them than with foreigners from far away. It is like a semi sporting fight between casual acquaintances and a brawl in a dark alley with a stranger. One ends when somebody gets hurt and the other ends when somebody is crippled or dead.

Both sides have advantages and disadvantages. Rather obviously the government has men, money, weapons, technology and pretty much every conventional warfare advantage you could name. On the other hand the insurgents/ guerrillas have some advantages also. One is low expectations. That they do not have to win but just have to convince people they are not losing is obviously an advantage. It is kind of like a handicap in golf. 

Another advantage is adaptability. It takes a conventional force like the Russians or the Americans forever to adopt a new weapons system. If we started now I would probably retire before a genuinely new weapon was widely fielded. On the other hand if a group of guerrillas finds that they need say a .50 caliber rifle they just need to get their hands on a few and train some dudes to use them. It could potentially be done in weeks. The same for new explosive charges or uniforms, radios or tactics.

Rather obviously guerrillas need weapons, ammunition, stuff and money. Money is probably the most important as it can readily be turned into the other stuff. We could break guerrilla funding sources into three basic streams. 1) Donations typically large foreign donations by sympathetic groups/ nations is pretty simple. A country such as both the US and USSR during the cold war or group such as Gulf State extremists supporting the Mujaheddin and then Taliban in Afghanistan and sympathetic Americans funding the IRA comes in with big bucks. Smaller donations can also be a consideration. 2) Various illegal or semi legal dealings such as drugs in the case of the Taliban and many South American Groups, the IRA selling guns and all manner of jerks and thugs robbing banks, printing fake money and running various scams. 3) Illegal taxes and forced donations from businesses and everyday folks. Either they are taking stuff without paying for it or making people make 'donations' or whatever. Unless people are sympathetic or they are providing some services in return this tends to make people unhappy though just about all insurgent and guerrilla groups do it.

Obviously it is a lot easier to conduct an insurgency if you are flush with cash. Groups with cash can get whatever sort of weapons they want, explosives, pay bribes and all sorts of fun stuff. This means that groups are hitting funding techniques 2 and 3 pretty hard. The difference between an insurgent group that is actively participating in the global gun/ drug/ smuggling/ etc trade and a big nasty gang like the Russian Mafia or MS-13 can get blurry. To me it comes back to the groups primary purpose. MS-13 are scary international gangsters to make money and get respect while the Taliban sell opium to fund their fight against the US and goals to regain regional domination or whatever.

As to equipment unless a group is getting  regular resupply via a friendly force or purchases they will by necessity use the same weapons systems as the government they are fighting. Having your own weapons, set up how you like and zeroed, in those calibers/ systems just makes sense. Even if you hate a system having one set up and put away for a rainy day is smart.

Well I am bored of writing now so it is time to wrap this up.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

RE: Claire Wolfe's Preparedness Priorities 2

Claire Wolfe has continued her excellent Preparedness Priorities series.

In Part 3 Claire talks about how people need to prepare differently. To me this is pretty obvious but some folks miss it all the same. We could break these differences down into regional and personal. Regional differences are pretty obvious. Different areas have unique weather and disaster concerns. Folks who live in really cold places like Michigan need to worry a lot more about warm clothes and sleeping bags, etc than those in Arizona. Conversely people in Arizona should pay more attention to keeping plenty of water around and such. Preparing for a hurricane in Iowa or an ice storm in Florida would be foolish.

On the other hand personal factors vary well, person to person. Let's look at two potential examples, economic/ financial vulnerability and violent crime risk factors. We will meet Tim and Bob.

Tim is a hustler but not in the bad way. He has a pretty good full time job, always has a few side projects going and works with his Dad when the full time job is slow. Also his wife has a clerical job for the state. If Tim loses his full time job they would probably be down 40% income but he could make some of that up putting more effort into other areas. If Tim was seriously injured (he works with heavy machinery full time and does some logging so it could happen) they could eat and keep the lights on with his wife's income. The point is that their 3-4 income streams come from totally different places. It is very unlikely they would all fall apart at once.

Bob makes a very good living. He went to college and got a business degree and went to work in management at the local plant. His wife stays at home with the kids. If he loses favor at work or the plant closes or whatever they have absolutely no income. (I do not mean to say stay at home mom's are a bad thing. That is another discussion entirely.)

The point is that while Tim's income may vary a bit Bob is actually more vulnerable. If something happens they are hosed. Bob would have a heck of a time finding a similar job in the same area. They probably want more like a year worth of expenses put away because it will take awhile to figure things out. On the other hand Tim might be comfortable with 3-4 months to get them through winter until he is busy again.

Looking at violent crime risk factors for our two guys.

Tim does a lot of work for cash. He also pays helpers and subcontractors and suppliers in cash. He buys equipment with cash. Tim carrying around a couple thousand dollars in cash and having 10k at home is pretty common. More to the point due to all the people involved a pretty good amount of people know Tim deals in cash. In the nature of normal events and casual conversation lot's of folks know about this. Tim is often alone driving between job's or putting in bids or working in the middle of nowhere. Also let's be honest in and around his line of work there are some unsavory characters.

On the other hand Bob gets payed by direct deposit. He rarely makes large cash sales or purchases. They do not have any particularly unique or special valuables that would be easy to sell/ transfer. He keeps some cash at home and have some PM's but only Bob and his wife know about that stuff.

[Real world point. A buddy of mine had a SWAT team spend a week camped out in his living room once. There was a pretty nasty home invasion crew and intelligence said he was on their list. His work was very seasonal and a lot was in cash. In season he often had a lot of cash at home and the wrong people knew about it. Aside from random crackheads people usually get targeted because crooks know or think they know something particularly valuable is there.]

Tim has some risk factors. He would be prudent to do something to mitigate that risk.Maybe nothing will every come of them but then again it would only have to happen once. Bob on the other hand has considerably lower risk. Aside from general common sense stuff he probably doesn't need to go out of the way here.

The point I am getting at is that different people have different concerns based on their unique situation. Obviously there are a lot more variables like medical issues, family networks, etc.

Part IV has some really good points. Focusing on more likely scenarios (job loss, violent crime, inflation) over less likely (EMP, nuclear war, Zombies) ones just makes sense. Also when giving people advice I think it is important to tailor advice to their situation, finances and level of commitment. Giving unrealistic advice will leave them bummed if they want to do it but can't, turned off if they don't want to or dismissive of the whole thing.  The right advice for a family with a modest income and a lot of kids is different than for a working couple who make a lot of money.

I was talking about this with Wifey today. Often I find myself in the position of recommending things that I do not actually recommend if that makes any sense. The reason I do this is because it fit's their situation and makes them more prepared than they previously were. A few boxes of shells for the old .38 special and 12 gauge or a spam can for the Mosin Nagant you swapped for a case of beer, some batteries, a few gallons of water and some food in the pantry is a heck of a lot better than nothing.

Claire continues the series touching on risk assessments and water storage neither of which I feel like talking about. Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monsters of Anarchy

Stumbled onto this randomly today on Youtube. Excluding the intro and closing the narrator is reading I am Your Worst Nightmare by Jeff Traskel posted on Survival Blog. In any case the audio plus pictures makes a powerful message even stronger.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Read and Think

TEOTWAWKI Blog did a good post on 5 Tips for Avoiding Violence. My thoughts on it are as follows:

#1 Nothing good happens after 11 o'clock. We could debate exact times but the principle is sound.

#2 It is about choices. You can choose to pay a bit more in rent or have a slightly more modest place to live in a safer area. Maybe you can drive a bit further or in an extreme case choose to relocate to another city or region.

#5 In some situations harsh commands will let you separate a odd guy or somebody with mental problems/ whatever from a more probably threat. If you tell somebody to "Get the F back" and they keep coming, well at least you know there is a problem.

My bonus #6 would be to not be under heavy influence of drugs/ alcohol in public. I am not talking about a couple beers with dinner or a few drinks over the course of an evening. Being under heavy influence of anything makes you far more likely to miss the signs that a problem is coming or let yourself get into stupid situations. I am not judging as I enjoy some drinks myself. The point is that if you are going to tilt the bottle a little harder than usual keep it at home, or a buddy's place or whatever.

Anyway those are my thoughts on a great post.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quote of the Day and Discussion

"A gun you can’t reach in an emergency is useless. When I read that book (Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, TOR) as a high school kid, it struck me that since I had long possessed guns in my bedroom including a loaded Colt .45 automatic, I would have had a lot more options than Clutter’s son did when the homicidal intruders entered his bedroom…and, knowing my dad, in Herb Clutter’s situation my old man’s regularly-carried Colt Cobra .38 revolver would have probably gone into action long before things got even that far.

In a lifetime among cops since, I’ve noted that investigators who piece together the aftermaths of home invasion murders tend to keep their guns on all the time after that, even when off duty in their own house, and keep them by the bed when they go to sleep.

They have learned from the helplessly-murdered dead"

-Massad Ayoob


I don't really have anything to say about the quote. It pretty much stands for itself.  The more worthwhile discussion is to the larger issue of deployment of defensive weapons at home.

If you think getting to the bedroom/ basement, turning the combo on the big ole gun safe left to 12 right to 6 and left again to 3, pulling out and loading a gun is going to work you are kidding yourself. For defensive purposes you might as well not own guns if you can't get to one very quickly. If somebody boots the door you need a gun right now, like almost immediately.

There are two basic options here. Carry a piece or have a bunch of them all over the place. There are some considerations which may affect your choice. The biggest consideration without a doubt is the occupants and regular visitors to your home. I won't tell you how to live your life. However if there are residents like young children (the age could be debated, some folks think a 4 year old having access to a gun is safe and others think it is closer to 25) or adults without the mental capacity to be responsible with firearms then having them lying around all over the place is stupid. Note that I didn't say everybody who is in your home needs to be an expert with guns or even know how to use them. Just that they have the mental capacity to be safe around them. Example, My 28 year old defacto sister in law hates guns and to the best of my knowledge has never touched one. She comes to visit. Her default reaction would be to leave a gun alone if she found it. She would either reach past it to grab something from the cabinet or whatever or ask one of us "could you grab the X from the cabinet with the handgun in it?" Even without the head knowledge she has the adult decision making to leave guns alone.

We could debate putting a gun outside of the physical reach of a kid, like on a high shelf or something. I know folks who have done it without incident. My buddy found out there was a 1911 in the cabinet above the kitchen stove when he was 13, it had been there his whole life. YMMV but personally I do not feel at all comfortable with this plan. Kids get into all sorts of stuff and tend to do it when they are in the dangerously curious accidentally shoot somebody age range.

Anyway to me when it comes to residents or very frequent visitors this is a GO/NO GO thing. Moving a few things around when your sister who has a pair of toddlers comes over for Christmas is easy but if there are regularly little kids or adults with diminished capacity due to mental health issues or drug use having unsecured guns all over the place is a NO GO.

If there are only adults in the home having guns all over the place is an option. Obviously this will only work if you have multiple viable guns to place around your residence.  If you have just one gun it would end up in a nightstand all the way in the bedroom which is a bad option. In Alabama I had a pistol and a shotgun by my seat in the living room, a pistol and a shotgun by the bed, and a handgun in the other rooms. At the furthest point I might have been 4 paces from a loaded gun and that was from an awkward point in the hallway.  This plan was sufficient to me and looking back I can't find fault in it. They were not locked up (which could be debated) but were concealed. With the exception of the steriotypical bedside none of them were in places you would look for a gun. As an option you could get a few of those convenient little quick opening hide a piece type safe's. Put one in the bedroom, one in the living room, etc. Slightly slower but it would be secure.

The other option is to just carry a handgun with you, physically attached to your person until you go to sleep at night. This is really probably the best option as a lethal option is on your person at all times. It covers everything. Working out in the garage, fiddling around on the deck or in the yard, etc. Just continuing to wear whatever setup you use out of the house is a very valid option if you will actually do it.

Regardless of your choice to carry or stash guns having a long gun quickly accessible is a good idea also. You probably won't carry one around the house all the time so it would need to be stashed, maybe in some sort of quick to open safe. Maybe something like this. Long guns are far more lethal than pistols. If memory serves me correctly the boring old 30-30 crushes the venerable .44 mag in terms of energy. Also probably more importantly most people shoot them a lot better. Folks shoot at each other at CQB ranges with pistols and miss all the time. The longer sight radius and multiple points of contact of a long gun make them much easier to shoot well.

Personally I will not do that, it is a fine idea but not something I will actually do. After getting off work and changing out of my stupid greyish monkey suit and boots I almost immediately change into comfortable clothes that are not carry friendly. Some sort of alternate carry method like a shoulder holster or one of the belt and pouch type holsters like the smart carry  or the belly band would be options worth looking at.  When we get back to the states my plan is a loose combination of both. Having weapons readily accessible but secured in a couple key places and one on me. Maybe it is a little belt and suspenders but nothing succeeds quite like excess.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life is What Happens When You Turn The News Off

I seem to go into a sort of cycle with the news. Right now I am about sick of it. I still check out the drudge daily and if things get boring cruise the BBC. Instead of listening to the news at work I have been using a comedy show as background. I keep up enough to have a clue what is going on but really am having a hard time pretending to care.

The issues of police abuses has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind lately. Over a short time (since my being able to pay attention to these things at a relatively adult level) the changes which have occured are widespread and universally negative. Right now I do not have any additional thoughts on this topic which I am willing to share in a public venue.

Gang/ Mob attacks seem to be on the rise. The perpetrators, victims and area demographics seem to be quite consistent. The only thing that concerns me more than this is the total ambivalence of law enforcement about these crimes. The widespread efforts of government and media to conceal these events does not weigh positively into the mix either. I am not personally concerned about this. I do not frequent the kind of areas where this sort of thing has been happening. Also my life patterns, like being home at 7 to put the kid to bed, drops the odds even further. In any case it is still troubling.

Greece getting out of the Euro may almost be a foregone conclusion at this point. The idea of Euro bonds is laughable. Like cosigning for a loan your deadbeat brother in law/ whatever to get a loan it would require Germany be on the hook for things in the end. Like cosigning in general it is just a terrible idea. Banks or private markets are far better judges of who is a worthwhile risk than friends and family. I get what is in it for everybody but Germany, who actually has their financial house in order.

Also to complicate things there is significant risk to the Euro itself. As Tam put it "So Greece's profligate habits are threatening to drag the Euro under. Germany, the only wino at the bar keeping a squinty eye on the tab, is urging some restraint on Greece's part, which makes the Jerries the no-fun bad guy of the story."

The biggest way this inconveniences me is that it means I am not going to Greece which sucks. It was definitely on our short list before the mess of the last few months. Now the risk of getting stuck somewhere with a toddler in tow makes it a no travel zone for us. I guess it is a significant global risk, blah blah blah but I don't care about that.

So what did I do today?

After getting off work I came home for some quiet family time. For no clear reason I decided to make home made pizza. I had never done this but with some help from Wifey utter disaster was averted. I learned to do something new and we had a pretty good dinner. It was a nice quiet evening and I got something out of it.

It is worth noting that Dave Duffy wrote an article that inspired this one but was much better.

Anyway I hope you all have a nice quiet evening.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Home Defense

I stumbled into this video. There really isn't anything (big picture) in it that I disagree with. I like the emphasis on preventing people from breaking into your place to begin with. An alarm (or at least the placards), a big  barking dog and some motion lights will go a long way to making the neighbors house seem inviting. As the old cliche says "you don't have to outrun the bear, just the slowest member of your party."

The only real point that I would add that is within the video's scope is about OPSEC. Often, and probably more often than not, burglaries are not random. Crooks don't just decide to rob your house at 1832 Woodland Street out of the blue. They decide to rob you because you sold a car for 10 grand a few days ago and they think the cash is in the house. They decide to rob you because you showed a dozen people a safe full of sweet guns at a party a year ago and one of them (probably just making conversation)  told somebody who is a crook. Limiting public displays of stuff worth stealing by using common sense measures goes a long way.

Also having a gun on your person, a plan and a long gun handy for if goblins decide to actually come into your house is very sound advice.
John Mosby recently wrote an interesting article about defensive considerations aimed more at the survivalist/ wanna be G angle. Like everything he writes it is worth checking out. There were a couple points that made worthwhile additions to this piece. What will deter the appearance of a tweeker or keep them from being successful will not necessarily deter a dozen motivated and well equiped goblins of any variety. If an organized and motivated group decide that a hard nut is worth cracking they will probably crack it, especially if that nut is composed of just you and the missus. However unless you really piss somebody off or have something very valuable this shouldn't be an issue. In that unlikely situation your options are to fight valiantly and die in place (IMO that is what you do when your plan and contingency plans fail, not the primary plan) or get out of there. Depending on your lifestyle this may or may not be a concern for you. Personally I don't lose any sleep over this sort of thing. All you can do is prepare then give it your best there is always a situation that you can't handle.

Anyway JM talks about some steps to harden your doors against breaching. Given that every yahoo has seen enough cops to know about battering rams and hooligan tools, both of which are readily available on the internet, don't be suprised if these tactics are used. [Up to now we have pretty much talked about free or fairly inexpensive simple things you can do to become a harder target. Hardening entrances may be worth considering depending on your situation. There are probably a lot of ways to harden a door. Something like this seems like a good option on the cheap/ low impact end. Making sure you have a door that doesn't suck and sticking a couple extra hinges into it and replacing all the little screws with 4 or 6 inchers isn't that complicated. These are probably things anybody can do. Going a bit further reenforcing the frame and putting a serious door on is a good way to go, especially if you are going to be there for the long term. Along these lines I am a fan of steel "screen doors" with deadbolts. It is another layer somebody needs to go through. They are also useful in the summer if you don't have AC. ] JM's recommendation to put a good door into a reenforced frame with lots of hinges and multiple deadbolts is hard to argue with. It will stop, or at least seriously screw up the tactical momentum of a crew trying to breach with a shotgun or tools. If folks coming after you are serious enough to competently breach with explosives I suggest escaping, evading, relocating and seriously thinking about who you piss off in the future.
I have some more thoughts about realistic and affordable harder homes and gardens.
Additionally I would say that using the new DIY type window glass laminates has some fascinating possibilities for delaying forced entry. I estimate that you could harden doors as described above and windows in this fashion for the cost of a nice rifle or a long weekend at the beach. Not exactly cheap but also not an unrealistic amount of money for most people.
Also if you have a suitable choke point I like interior security gates.  Also it is yet another layer that folks would have to go through to get to you and yours. Remember that layers equal time. Also if a concealed guy at the top of the stairs behind a gate says "if you come up here I will shoot you" goblins would have to REALLY WANT IT to try and breach the thing. Assuming your family is safely upstairs this should make securing the choke point to wait for the cops/ cavalry a pretty doable task.

Of course you can go further and build some sort of a bunker house if you have the coin and desire.

Anyway I hope this gives you something to think about in terms of home defense.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting Into Precious Metals

When I was home for leave my very good friend and nominal coauthor Ryan were able to catch up. He mentioned that he was somewhat interested in precious metals but wasn't quite sure where to start. I meant to send him some info but whoops, it never happened. Anyway it popped back into my head recently. I thought this might be a worthwhile blog post to boot. So anyway.
A lot of big names in survivalism say that you should not get into precious metals until you have your beans, bullets and bandaids squared away. One big name defines that as a years worth of food. I am not going to say they are wrong but I look at it differently. To me precious metals are not part of my preps parse, they are the ultra conservative portion of my financial planning. To me a dollar that is going to silver isn't a dollar that would be going to beans or bullets, it is a dollar that would be going into savings or investments. You could look at it either way or some other way.
[I realized in writing this that it is important to define some terms for newbs. When talking about pre -64 90% silver the term face value is used. Face value is the value of the coins at the time of minting, back when they were just money. A dime is a dime face value, 10 dimes are a dollar face, etc. 90% silver is often sold this way in $5 or $10 rolls and $50, $100 and $1,000 face bags.  It is important to note that these bags are not weighed but sold by face value. Typically with newish or normally circulated coins the difference between the actual weight and the theoretical weight at manufacture is tiny. However in large quantities when dealing with seriously worn coins it matters. Either negotiate a significant discount for or pass on big bags of heavily worn dimes.  Bullion is just that, metal that is made into a bar, ingot, coin or round that is sold essentially as metal. To me this includes the new American Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs and such. They may or may not have a nominal monetary value but the cost of the metal is the real value. Precious metals are traded as commodities like oil, corn or whatever. Numismatic is a phrase that means collectible. Basically these are coins or whatever that are rare and or in particularly good condition and thus have significant value beyond their metal content. This is a totally different game than bullion with its own rules. It is one I don't fully understand and do not involve myself in. If you want to collect coins that is great but I would consider it a hobby not part of your financial or preparedness efforts. Spot price is the value of an ounce of silver or gold (or copper, platinum or whatever but they are outside of the scope of this post) strait out of the ground. Obviously it costs money to make that metal into a coin or bar and those folks have expenses and want to make a profit. Also the guy selling it has expenses and wants to make a profit. The difference between spot price and the actual purchase price is called a Premium. For various market reasons some products have higher premiums than others. For example an American Eagle gold coin always costs a few bucks more than a Canadian Maple Leaf or a Krudgerrand. In silver big names like Englehard can carry a premium of a buck or so. Feel free to ask if you have questions about anything.]

Are you ready to invest in precious metals?
By the theory I do not subscribe to you should have a bunch of beans, bullets and bandaids. (Certainly you should at least have a functional weapon with some bullets, and enough food, etc to deal with a snow storm or a hurricane.) If you look at it more as a financial thing like I do one would want to take care of any nasty debt like credit cards or anything above say 8% interest rate and have some cash savings. If you do not have some basic survival stuff like a pistol or a shotgun, some food, a way to cook it, etc and have an outstanding balance with Visa at 18% then it might be wise to throw your resources at those issues. Lets just say that you have some basic preps and no nasty debt before jumping into PMs.

How To Buy?

It depends on your overall situation. If you have a good amount of money sitting around you could go order a big bag of silver and or some gold and be done with it. The stockbroker seeing the writing on the wall and ordering a hundred thousand dollars in gold is kind of an urban legend in contrarian investing and precious metals circles. For most folks we don't have a lot of money lying around so we will be making purchases as our income allows. The concept of dollar cost averaging is worthwhile to consider here. However like any financial plan I recommend that you pay yourself first. Maybe you buy a one ounce round every payday or whatever you can afford. Figure it out and stick to it unless your situation changes significantly. This doesn't need to be a big thing just come up with a reasonable plan and execute it regularly instead of waiting till the end of the pay period and hoping there is something left. You may or may not want to go full on Dave Ramsey and allocate every dollar before you get it. We don't have a complete budget but we plan our saving and investments and execute them consistently. However our financial situation as bills relate to income is pretty comfortable. If we had credit cards with big balances, car loans and whatever we would go full on OCD. Typically like diets I would say the worse your situation is the more you need to be strict about it.

What to buy?

"The Moneylender" said "Buy silver before gold, buy small gold before large gold." I think that is pretty darn good advice. Silver is a good way to start for a lot of reasons. First it is affordable. Right now spot is about $32 which puts a one ounce round probably at $35-36ish. Pretty much anybody can afford to pick one up a paycheck. If you can't free up a bit under $40 a paycheck I suggest seriously looking at your overall situation. Also you can make a mistake and overpay by a bit and it won't kill you.

Silver can be purchased in two basic products, pre '64 90% silver and 99% bullion. There are other options but we are keeping it simple here.Pre '64 90% silver is dimes, quarters, 50 cent pieces and silver dollars made before 1964. Yes our change was made of silver. The stuff I am talking about has no real numismatic (collector) value and typically dates from the early 1900's to 1964. The advantage of this stuff is that it is in small pieces. A dollars worth of silver is right about .77 of a troy ounce of silver. Thus a dime is about .07, etc. I am too lazy to look up and type all the exact weights but you can look them up here. The other option is  99% silver bullion. This is rounds or bars or ingotts made of as close to pure silver as one can easily get. Some like Eagles or Canadian Maple Leafs are minted by a country and many others are made by numerous private mints.These are made in all sorts of weights but 1, 5, 10 and 100 ounce are the most common.

Both have advantages and disadvantages. 90% silver is in small denominations. At today's prices even one ounce rounds are too large to make small transactions like a few groceries. Also they are readily recognizable at least to folks who know our change used to be made of silver. The biggest disadvantage is that many dealers charge almost crazy premiums if you buy this stuff in small (under $100 face value which is 70 some odd ounces and costs about $2,500 bucks) amounts. We will revisit this when we talk about where to buy the stuff.

Bullion is generally a bit cheaper per ounce [Remember for these purposes you are buying METAL, not a coin or whatever. Thus the goal is to get as much METAL as possible for your dollars.] than 90% silver. Also it is typically in convenient weights. If the going trade is an ounce of silver for 5 pounds of beef or 20 pounds of wheat (or whatever) it is a lot easier to have nice round denominations. Also some folks say that it is good for a coin/ ingot to say it's content and purity ie "One ounce of .999 pure silver". These folks thing people who are less than knowledgable about PM's may be more inclined to accept their value.

Whatever you decide to go with silver is a great place to start. First of all it is reasonably affordable. Second of all it is in small enough denominations to sell a coint or two to a dealer and buy groceries or a tank of gas or to barter a little bit at a time to get whatever. I would recommend purchasing a pretty good amount of silver before thinking about gold. If you are into round numbers maybe $100 face (70 some odd ounces) or 100 ounces of bullion could work but it all varies based on your situation.
Silvers biggest advantage is that anybody not living on the street (heck even a wino could cut down their Thunderbird consumption or panhandle a bit more agressively and pick up a 90% dime or quarter from time to time) can afford to buy it, if slowly and in small incriments. The biggest disadvantage of silver is that at some point it gets HEAVY. I know a guy who needs to use a truck to move his silver, while that is a nice problem to have he would face some hard choices if he needed to evacuate in a hurry. This brings us to gold.

Gold is a lot more expensive than silver and could be a bit overpriced right now, at least in relation to silver which is probably a better deal at this time. It is sitting somewhere around $1,660 an ounce. Gold comes in two basic varieties. Old coins and bullion. Old coins are just that, old coins from back when Gold was money. Bullion and new coins such as Eagles, Maple Leafs and Krudgerrand's pretty much fall into the same group. Sometimes you can get good deals on the old coins, particularly European coins from aprox 1890-1917. Just be sure to stick to ones folks will recognize like Swiss and French Francs, British Sovereigns and the like. New coins/ bars are convenient because they are typically in nice round (1/10th, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 ounce) sizes and have the weight and purity clearly written on the coin. I don't find one vastly superior to the other. Even weights are nice but old coins are kind of cool too. One noteable advantage of old coins (not numismatic/ collectable, just old very common coins in ok condition) is that they are typically the lowest premium way to buy small gold.
As we said before buy small gold before large gold. Small gold would be gold coins that are part of an ounce, typically 1/10th, 1/4 and 1/2 ounce and are also called fractional coins. As to how much of this stuff to buy before going to large gold (one ounce coins/ bars) I would say at least a couple ounces, maybe a few. For large gold I would purchase one ounce coins or ingots. I don't see a reason to get anything bigger than that. For large gold I would just be sure to get something common like Eagles, Maple Leafs, Krudgerrands or Credit Swiss ingots.

As we talked about Golds biggest advantage (already considering that it is durable, recognizable, divisible and there is consistent demand for it) is that it is a very compact store of value. For the price of a one ounce gold coin you could get a nice bag of silver or a lot of other stuff. One could toss 50k in gold into a daypack and evacuate or into a ruck to GOOD but silver would be problematicly heavy. Also gold has a certain allure and enough folks have been able to use it to bribe/ buy their way out of a warzone or terrible situation that it bears considerations.

Where to buy?

Fundamentally there are three options. Brick and mortar dealers, online dealers and private  individuals. I will discuss the first two at length and then briefely hit the last.
It is important to note that you really need to be a smart consumer when it comes to PM's. Check on Spot Price and know what sort of premiums a given product typically carries. Also be sure to consider the full cost of getting a product to your door. This means your time and travel to a shop or shipping from an online dealer.

Brick and mortar dealers are often coin shops that deal numismatic stuff and have bullion as a sort of side effort. Also pawn shops and I have heard some jewelry stores deal in bullion. Brick and mortar stores have some advantages. The first advantage is that they are convenient. Hard to beat picking up a silver round or a small gold coin every payday on the way home. Also if you decide to pay cash they have the factor of discretion. Personally I just can't see Cops kicking in the doors of everybody who bought a few silver rounds or a gold coin so this is not much of a concern for me. However if you have some other issues going on this could be useful. Another advantage is that some of these folks can help you learn about PM's. The old guy hanging out in his coin shop might be willing to help you learn about testing silver and gold or grading coins if you have the gift of gab and are a decent customer (or offer to help clean up or whatever). Also if it is a small shop and you are a good customer they may give you a call when products you like come in. Furthermore the coin/ pawn shop guy can be a good "grey world" contact who knows how to get stuff.

This is not to say that brick and mortar shops don't have disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of brick and mortar dealers is often price. Some of them for whatever reason charge crazy prices. I once laughed in a coin shop guys face when he wanted $10 OVER SPOT for beaten up no name 1 ounce silver rounds. It varies shop to shop based on their business model, competition and how informed their customers seem to be. Heck it may even change based on how much they think they can get away with on a given customer. The next disadvantage is often availability. Especially with the folks who have bullion as a side business like numismatic coin or collectibles dealers and pawn shops they predominantly sell what they have bought. This means they may have 90% silver one week, 1 ounce rounds the next, a couple 1/4 ounce Eagles here and some Krudgerrands there. With these guys you need to either be patient or flexible. Since brick and mortar stores are a local thing I can't make any meaningful recommendations but I have had good dealings with a few in the past.
Online dealers tend to have the best prices and greatest availability which are their biggest advantages. Also comparison shopping is easy and you can do it on a Sunday morning in a bathrobe. The first downside is that you have to pay shipping. One absolutely must consider this in their "is this a good deal" calculation. It also makes frequent small purchases cost prohibitive. Paying $5 or 8 to ship something worth $35 or $40 is cost prohibitive for sure. That it is difficult to impossible to be anonymous could be a disadvantage or turn off for some folks. Also if for whatever reason you needed to turn cash into metals TODAY an online dealer would not be a wise route.

One of the biggest benefits of established dealers who make their living selling metals is that their livelihood rests on their reputation. If through bad intentions or neglect they sell some fake stuff they are totally hosed. Due to this they are as a rule honest and above board in their dealings. This doesn't mean they they will always have competive prices just that the products will be what they are sold as.
Personally I used APMEX for a long time and have heard good things from Zero about Montana Rarities.
Personal transactions vary from boringly easy to the wide open wild west. I have purchased silver from a family member. I had some cash and they had some silver and we swapped. Online type purchases of PM's from private folks have, at least IMO an uncomfortably high likelihood of fraud. I have been burned in a small way on Ebay and will not make that mistake again. Also there is just so much fake gold floating around. In the last few years some really legit looking stuff has came out of China.

Face to face transactions would have the same risk of counterfeits. I would need to be a lot more competent at testing gold, have calipers to take measurements and a scale to consider doing this. To make matters worse there are also security concerns. Remember that Marine who got shot trying to sell a gold necklace? If conducting such a transaction would meet somebody in a pretty public place, ideally with obvious cameras and carry a gun. If it was a significant transaction I would wear soft body armor and bring a couple friends with their own guns. No need to show up like gangsters, two guys at the next table sipping coffee would go unnoticed but could be very helpful if things went sideways.
Unless somebody you know and trust  is selling what you want to buy I am not a big fan of personal transactions there are just too many issues involved for the couple bucks you might save.

Well I hope this gives some insight on my thoughts about getting into PM's and helps you make some informed choices about purchasing PM's.

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