Sunday, January 9, 2011

Myths about armed self defense

Due to the high amount of violent crimes that take place in this country, a peculiar situation takes place that may not be that common in other locations.
Not only has a large percentage of the population experienced violent crime personally, there’s also a significant amount that ended up getting wounded or shooting it out with criminals. During conversations where the topic of crime and shootings is brought up, most people here have their fair share of experience, and its not rare that one of the participants pulls his shirt up and shows a gun shot wound, or points at a scar in one of his limbs.
This has been going on for a few years now, and if you’re the inquisitive type like I am you learn a thing or two.

"Only a shot to the brain or central nervous system will put an attacker down for good."
A variation of this common statement is that only a brain shot or spine shot will stop an attacker every time.
Meet Joan Porco. Yes, that’s a fireman’s axe wound in her forehead head. She lost and eye and nearly died in the brutal assoult. Her son was found guilty of the attack and murder of her husband, Peter Porco. Before dieing, Peter got out of bed, got dressed, went out to pick up the newspaper, went back inside, fixed himself breakfast and finally collapsed due to blood loss. The axe attack destroyed the top of his brain, the cerebral cortex, the part where the awareness and rational decisions are made. He didn’t realize he was soaking in blood as he went through his daily routine, nor did he acknowledge his unconscious wife next to him and the bed covered in blood.  There’s people that try to commit suicide but still survive even with the bullet in their brain. A doctor told me of a case where a gun shot wound victim, shot in the forehead, still survived with the projectile going between the two hemispheres. An African little boy, not older than 10 years old, he could be seen in one of those Discovery channel reports. He was perfectly fine except for one little detail: After getting shot in the head with a rifle, the boy had lost a chunk of his head. Must have been the size of half a football. Very impressive. The reconstruction he required was both esthetical to round up the head again and to cover the brain that was now no longer protected by the cranium in that area. The child was walking fine and smiling during the report. 

This just goes to prove that there’s no absolute law in gun shot wound analysis. While a man with half his brain destroyed may still pull the trigger on you, another shot in the chest can go down for good. 

"Any caliber can kill, so 22LR is good enough for self defense."
No, its not. Its an awful choice, the worst caliber you can chose. While any caliber can kill, not all of them have the same effects on people. The amount of people getting shot with 22LR and still being more than capable not only of shooting back, but also running, punching or stabbing is significant. While the 22LR may travel and wound vital organs, the same is true the other way around as well. There’s people that got shot with 22LR in the head, even 38 Special, and the projectile failed to penetrate, traveled around the cranium, between the bone and skin. This happens with certain frequency on the ribs as well, as the projectile follows the path of less resistance.  There’s a documented incident in the American old west where a person shot with 22LR still managed to catch his shooter and beat him to death. A video I posted recently shows a cop being pummeled by a bare knuckle fighter, even after shooting him in the torso with his issued sidearm. Don’t ever trust your life to 22LR folks. Your life and the life of your loved ones is worth more than that.

"One shot with X round, and Mr. Bad Guy goes down for good."
There’s no single magic bullet. Even 50BMG can’t assure you that all the time. A guard shot with a 50 BMG machinegun mounted in a pickup truck during the robbery of a “Juncadela” cash in transit armored vehicle by “Fat” Valor’s gang still managed to survive. Granted, he was darn lucky, but he still made it.
No magic bullet folks, so shoot something that has a good rate of “one shot stops” but fully expect to need to shoot repeatedly. 

"I’ll keep shooting until the bad guy goes down."
Technically that’s correct. But the myth part here is that you’ll always be able to do so. You’re moving, the bad guys are moving (it will rarely be only one) and everyone is shooting at everyone in less than ideal conditions… and you expect to shoot Mr. Bad Guy 10 times in the face with your 22LR? Count your blessing if you land one or two shots, and go for it if you can continue until the threat is stopped, but know that sometimes one shot is all you get. This is why I chose the best possible caliber I can fire from a Glock (in my opinion the 357 SIG) What if one so-so placed shot is all I get? I want that shot to be a 125gr JHP flying at +1400FPS. 

"You wont be using “weak” hand shooting skills, so why bother training that?"
I’m surprised by the amount of cases where the good guy is wounded, or suffers an accident induced by the bad guys, or for whatever reason the good guy just can’t use his dominant hand and has to get by with the other one.  Keep in mind that the arms get injured often. Raising them is a instinctive defensive reaction and they often get shot through during fights, or stabbed during knife attacks. Add to that, certain shooting stances are strongly canted toward the dominant arm side, thus your dominant arm is more likely to get wounded. During most shooting stances, your arms and hands are close to your center of mass. With someone shooting back at you it becomes clear that your arms are likely to get hit. Practice with your non-dominant hand (some people prefer not to refer to it as “weak”) learn to shoot accurately with, how to clear malfunctions and reload. Try to include this in your training often.

”You carry a handgun to fight your way to a long gun.”
You carry a handgun because its hard to carry a FAL or AK47 concealed (actually impossible) on daily basis. As badass as the above quote may sound, truth is that the handgun is all you’ll have with you so you wont be fighting your way to any thing, other than cover or away from the fight. Carry a high capacity, big bore auto and if you are worried enough to even think about the quote above, carry several extra mags.

"You wont be able to aim, you wont see your sights, its going to be madness, madness I say!"
Conventional gun fighting folklore says motor skill will be impaired, you’ll barely be able to bring up the gun and somewhat shoot in the general direction of the bad guy. According to this line of thought its impossible to take aim during a street gunfight.
On the other hand, I’ve talked to people I train with that tell a very different story. Though feeling the effects of the adrenalin dump afterwards, not only were they able to aim, one guy told me that he was seeing things so clearly, that he even recalls the wear in his front sight. Another person that was involved in a fight told me that after getting shot in the leg with a 9mm at very close range (showed me the wound, about ½ an inch from his femoral artery according to the doc) he grabbed the attackers armed hand and zipped up the bad guy with his Glock .40, then did as trained, “looked for his friends”, found it and shot the other bad guy twice, killing them both. Still in the fight, an old man approached him and touched his shoulder, this person shoved him back with his left hand and was about to shoot him as well before realizing he was just a bystander, just trying to tell him he had been shot in the leg and trying to help him.
While some people lose fine motor skill control, others will fall back to their lowest level of training. Make sure that lowest level is acceptable.

"Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight."
At contact or “sidewalk” range, the person with the knife has a good chance of killing you even if you are armed with a firearm. In fact, a slightly proficient person in the use of weapons will have little trouble in closing the distance, preventing you from drawing and cutting you up. The Tueller drill not only proves an attacker can cover 7 yards in about 1.5 seconds. It also shows that within that range, if the person armed with the knife knows what he’s doing, the one armed with the gun has little chance of surviving. Carry both and know how to use both, and if you get into a fight in an elevator, remember your friend FerFAL and go for the knife.

"Gunshot Fatality rates are huge"
A lot of people talking about getting shot and showing their wounds means that a lot of people actually survive the incident. Point Blank, by Gary Kleck, gives about 20% fatality rate to GSW. The rate is a bit lower for handguns and somewhat greater for rifles and shotguns (11% to 34%). Yet, most people that get shot survive.

"Gunshot Scars look terrible"
Most are barely noticeable, just the scar of the entry hole and a bit larger exit hole. In one case, my brother in law’s uncle showed me some very nasty abdominal scars. He had been shot several times with 9mm, around 8 shots or so, and the terrible wound left was mostly due to the emergency surgery that was needed to save his life, where they had to go through all his intestines looking for holes.  This seems to be common, at least around here, when it comes to gut shots. A gunstore employer showed me a 45 ACP FMJ wound he had,  it was also a pretty long cut across the stomach.
Having said that, some high velocity rounds, specially rifle rounds, have very graphic results. Rifle projectiles, mostly due to their speed, will blow pieces of bone as secondary projectiles and the results, specially in the head and limbs can be very dramatic. 

"JHP kills more than FMJ"
Usually the place of impact determines if you die or not, not the type of projectile. What happens is that JHP stops better in general terms, so less amount of shots are required. Since FMJ is less effective at stopping a human, usually more shots are fired increasing the chance of a vital organ being hit.

"A gun in the house is more likely to be used against the owners than against a criminal."
Depends on how irresponsible you are. Some people shouldn’t own guns, or have kids, drive cars or use matches. Certain Europeans aren’t trusted to use sharp objects. Heck, some people shouldn’t even vote yet here we are, right?

"Training only makes you more likely to use a gun."
Wrong. Correct training means you’ll be in control of yourself and your weapon. In fact, trained individuals are less likely to need to pull the trigger. He’s less likely to be caught off guard (which may require quick lethal action instead of controlling the situation before it gets to that point) and he’s also less likely to suffer accidental discharges, shooting people when he’s not intended to do so. Also, someone with good training will perform proper adequate target recognition before engaging, avoiding shooting innocent people such as family members during robberies or some other high stress situations.



Anonymous said...

Love it. Good sense and a sense of humor. Best line: Some people should not have a gun... or vote, or have kids, or drive a vehicle. How many folks die in drunk driving/aggressive driving accidents each year?

Rey said...

True. Nothing is absolute. When training for self defense, we must look at the most effective vs. the least effective. True, a hit in the head or the CNS will not stop an attack 100% of the time. And a head shot could be survivable (See the shooting in Tucson, AZ), but, all things considered, you are much more likely to stop an attacker by hitting the CNS than the gut. or the leg. or the butt (although extreme shock claims to provide mortal butt wounds). I train for upper center mass with emphasis to the head. I also train emptying the magazine. Most would be wise not to believe Hollyweird claims of people blown back 30 feet by a 9mm gut shot. If we reject logic and common sense and claim either one shot kills with a wounder .45 or claim that the 9mm can not stop an attack no matter where you hit, we will be equally wrong.

DaShui said...

My doctor friend told me the other day he examined (gangster) patient that had 16 bullet wounds. The guy said he had been shot 5 different occasions so about 3 bullets per incident, but the guy was ok.

ghpacific said...

Head shot to Gabrielle Giffords in AZ proves your point. Curious though that Mossad used .22 caliber with reduced powder load (to minimize noise) and had a double tap procedure in their assassination methodology as detailed in the book 'Vengeance' about targeting the terrorists after the Olympics killings. They even had bicycle pump guns with the same caliber when they killed the female assassin in the Netherlands. What is it that they know? On a side note, My ex-L.A. sheriff brother in law told me the cheapest noise suppressor the gangs use is a plastic liter soda bottle stuffed with rags. 2011 may be when TSHTF for real here in USA.

Anonymous said...

Everything you said made good sense, no arguement. Let me add something: On a hunting trip three caribou were shot and cleaned. The largest one, the size of a small horse, had been shot through the chest. The bullet missed ribs going in and coming out. Internally I have never seen such damage. The large chest cavit was empty with a pile of bloody "stuff" laying on the bottom. The longs were totally destroyed. On the entry side just under the skin was a blood filled "abcess" as big as a dinner plate. The shock from the bullet destroyed the area. This animal dropped like a rock and never moved. A single shot from a .308 in the chest. There is zero doubt in my mind that a human hit in the chest in this way with a hunting rifle caliber would die quickly.

Double Tapper said...

Nothing is sure in this world. Except God. Some people die from a "small" wound. Others endure massive trauma and survive. You can stack the odds in your favor but one thing I have learned for certain - when it is your time, you will go - when it is not your time, nothing will kill you. Strange creatures we humans are!

Anonymous said...

There's so much wrong with the idea that your own gun is more likely to be used to kill yourself or a fellow occupant than to be used in defense. The brief history of this is that an Arthur Kellermann released a methodologically flawed study in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it was quoted by Marge Simpson whereby it took on a life of its own (at least that's my interpretation of events), and no matter how much discredit the idea receives, we'll never hear the end of it in our lifetimes. One big error on the surface of the study is that it assumes you have to kill an attacker (at home, or it doesn't count) to defend yourself with a gun. Dig a little deeper, and the cherry-picked data is mostly made of suicides and criminals killing each other. It's far from the idea of kids playing with dad's gun, or mistaking your brother for an intruder that the study inspires. But this doesn't even begin to describe the fundamental, underlying flaws in the study's methodology. There are a few good articles that go into more detail, such as on GunCite.

Nolan said...

As someone with a bullet scar and the surgery to repair me from the bullet scar, I can vouch that bullet scars are insignificant compared to the surgery scar.

Pitt said...

Well said Double Tapper, well said.

Your life is in God's hands. So you might as well stack the deck and roll the dice, cause when it's you time, it's you time.

I'm just hoping its the other bastard's time when I get into a shootout.