Saturday, March 1, 2014

Where Will You Be Finding, Drawing, and Shooting a Criminal? Round Back?

Where Will You Be Finding, Drawing, and Shooting a Criminal? Round Back?
By W. Hock Hochheim

     And there you have it. The above picture of the perfect crime. The masked attacker. The huddling wife and blond, innocent child. Protected by the middle-aged, middle-American pulling his pistola to stop the classic masked attacker – an armed robber we automatically presume. Oh, and the dumpsters. Yes, yes, the dumpsters, which subliminally tell us that average Mr. and Mrs. Middle America and said fair, blond child had, for some mistake, traveled - “round back.”

     You know, “round back!” You know where that is - round back of the store, “round back” of the mall, “round back” of something that they shouldn't be “round back” of, near “dumpster world.” The world where the masked thugs and drug addicts and serial killers are sitting, waiting. No one should venture “round back, ” but yet, gosh, there they were. (I will publish this picture and no doubt get some responses proclaiming that this couple made the mistake of passing by the “round-back, dumpster-world.”) Being at the wrong place at the wrong time is a great "throw-down” line but a very vague golden rule. Wrong place. Where exactly is that?

     Look, I know how and why these photos are staged like this. Thrown together. I know their point - something quickly posed and positioned to sell a class, a course, a gun, a holster, a gun law, a gun theme, a gun video, or a gun idea. I understand why. I really do. This is a classic photo and staging of the classic encounter to make a classic point, isn't it? But when I saw this highly, staged photo, I immediately thought of the preponderance of photos like these in ads, magazine articles, and on the net. A flood of these contrived pictures. What about on TV and in the movies? I wondered how many concealed-carry people after awhile manufacture preconceived notions of what their eventual, god-awful shootout will be like? After a deluge of such staged magazine and internet photos, subsequent art-imitating-art, what do they eventually innocently perceive as the real encounter? What gets engrained in their heads? 

     The news media in the USA reports that there are some six million licensed concealed-carry people in the country. That's a big rounded-off number. That's 6 million inside some 215 million population. In addition, how many more of these daily carriers are on-duty and off-duty law enforcement? Then add in the people carrying weapons who aren't licensed. Some good folks. Some bad folks. That's 6 million inside 215 million in a nation of millions and millions of available firearms. If all the babbling about us was true, we would be shooting hundreds, if not thousands, of each other every day accidentally or on purpose. We don't. We'd be in a consistent blood bath. Hatfields and McCoys everywhere. "Bloods-like" versus "Crips-like" city wars. Crime like in a science fiction movie. One neighbor versus another neighbor fighting over who-knows-what? Loud music? We aren't.

     On the flip side of this, I might even venture a safe guess here that over 200 million people, adults and kids alike, are NOT carrying guns, because only some six million and change do carry. Not really a lot of armed people in the big picture. So we are left with a small percentage of Americans carrying handguns. Where will they use them?

     Most of this small carry group do get their state licenses. The next grouping and much smaller percentage within them get some adjunct training. This training may be only shooting some live fire on “ye old square target” range once or once in a while, never dreaming of working on things like retention and gun grappling. The next group and even tinier percentage may actually dabble in retention and gun grappling or ground fighting. They may fight over some rubber guns just once and say -

     “Wow! Tough! Important stuff! Bye!”

     But generally they ignore the bigger picture of survival. They make no commitment to do things like stay in shape, quit smoking, and/or refresh themselves on these sweaty, “martial artsy-like,” gun-related, gun-survival subjects.

     A slim percentage of gun carriers will shoot regularly, mostly as a hobby; and, finally, a further microscopic group will place all that firearm action within the diverse, holistic, unarmed, and mixed weapons combatives world, mixing unarmed, knife, "stick," live, and sims gun training. Worse, simulated-ammo/combat-scenario training is usually dismissed by many as “laser-tag toy games.”

     Most folks just get the carry license, a gun, and a holster. To be painfully honest, it's a statistical fact that most will never, ever pull that gun or so much as fight over a gun while standing or on the ground. So their totally untrained, unprepared selves will never be challenged. Their guns just give them peace of mind. Even police rarely pull or use their guns, and they are hobnobbing with all kinds of questionable people and sent to all kinds of hot situations and places. I really don't know if we should say this too loud and with wild abandon, because a little fear can go a long way in revving people up to prepare themselves. (So go train, folks!) As they said numerous times in the great Naked Statistics book, "not everyone will win the lottery, so don't bother with it. BUT! Somebody does win the lottery each time!" Yup. Somebody does. And in our case here, we are talking about that negative, damn "shootout" lottery. Win, lose, but always draw.

Round Back with the FBI
     So at our very best, we are doing all these tactical things. Now we ask, "Where and when will this happen?" We need to know this, too. Whether in the armed or the unarmed world, very few folks understand crime and criminal stats. Not even the FBI! A recent 2013 study by USA Today found that about 40% of the annual Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) are inaccurate. Have been for decades. The reasons for this could encompass another essay, but suffice it to say that this creates enormous misunderstandings and subsequent myths about crime.

     Then how do we decipher the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” of crime? And given these problems, how will citizens in this or any country think they'll be actually confronted by criminals? The 60% correct UCR? A premise based mostly on television shows? Movies? Gun magazines? Books? Daydreams? Rumors? Scare tactics of schools selling courses? Which? All of the above? 

     Renown shooting instructor, Tom Givens, has had over 60 students who have survived gunfights. He gave me a quick rundown of locations where his people have had them - "... about 10% in the home. About 90% in public places, shopping malls, strip malls, convenience stores, parking lots. Several in busy, big mall parking lots.” Tom has all good, caring, law-abiding, licensed, responsible citizens in his classes as his study base.

     Numerous other firearm groups have tried to collect this type of info, too. It is not easy pickings. The info is buried inside the body of tons of reports. Call it an “armed/concealed carry study category.” It is hard info to collect, but we also have a much bigger category of locations to insert on the list. Unarmed victims, too! Times and crimes when no one wore a pistol.

Round Back at the School
     After the infamous Columbine, CO, school shooting and then after a few more school shootings, the police of the USA went hog-wild training for school shootings. Often these training days were down at actual schools and were media-happy events. Schools, schools, schools. When we cover this material in my seminars, I make the comment that the collective “we” spend entirely too much time worrying about school shootings and that the next big shooting would be at a beauty salon. People usually chuckle. I said this one morning at the Milwaukee Krav Maga school in 2013, and we broke for lunch. People came back from lunch asking me if I was some kind of psychic. There was a spree killing in a beauty salon in the shopping center right next to the one we were in that late morning! A beauty salon! Another crime where only the bad guy had a gun. Divorce drama and trauma.
     As with this Milwaukee salon shooting - given the domestic root of much violence - the revenge, the suicide plans, cheating spouses, lost love, and stalking, you might get yourself killed because your co-worker has problems. A person may walk in and shoot you at your desk at the insurance office, while you are stacking soup cans in the store, loading 2x4s at the lumber yard, or least of all the beauty salon or school. What about the common road rage? Predictability? I once worked a shootout between two guys in the front seat of a moving car. I once worked a knife fight between two guys dueling in the cab of a big truck doing 40 miles an hour on a highway. Who expects that? Who trains for that?

     “Round back” is suddenly where you work, shop, and drive, not just when making a wrong turn at the dumpsters behind the old, dirty gas station on the back road on the bad side of town.

Round Back is Anywhere
     No, I am not a psychic. I didn't predict the beauty-parlor shooting in Milwaukee. I just know about the randomness and the chaos of life and crime. And a true investigation into crime is the best determinant of location, location, location we have. For example, as career cops, we used to base our robbery stakeouts on patterns such as these. Even though we only caught a few criminals in these many stakeouts, every professional and every citizen should know these facts and figures, too. Crime specific. Crime general. Specific to where they travel and general to what may happen anywhere, anytime. Patterns.

"Crime specific. Crime general. Specific to where they travel and
general to what may happen anywhere, anytime. Patterns."

     Sure, as detectives, we did stakeouts based on the best patterns we could amass, but we only caught a few criminals with these best predictions. The chaos of your fight can be wild as reality bites. It is crushed in a surrounding trauma and a drama you may never be able to predict. Can the event in the photo happen to you? Well, sure. But I worry that we pancake our expectations in and around our imaginations and wrong data and then train for the wrong events in the wrong places and times, even shooting too much from the wrong positions. Like I said earlier, being at the wrong place at the wrong time is a very, very, vague golden rule.

     Which leads us “round back” to our round-back photograph. Does this picture do you justice? Does it do the giant problem justice? Define the undefinable? Open your mind to the big picture?

     In the who, what, where, when, how, and why of life and crime, where you will be pulling your gun is quite diverse. It won't always be as simple as staying away from the … "round back.”

"Hey now! You stay away from 'round back' where the dirty dumpsters of life are!"

Some comments:
Alejandro Vargas Lugo: "Thanks for sharing it, Hock, and for pointing out the truth regarding this ridiculously staged photo. And, yes, many people just don´t realize that an attacker wielding a knife can breach the 21-feet distance in 1.5 seconds, rendering your shooting or pistol wiping skills useless, since you can´t even pull out your gun! Great article, keep up the good work!"

John Patelzick: "A huge chunk of the concealed-carry community are fueled by some macho fantasies about violence. Most of them will not be ready for actual, violent altercations. Then there's the rhetoric. It's exhausting. Constructing expectations about violence around stereotypical scenarios is an almost pointless exercise."


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