Self Defense

Miami Police: “He displayed Tombstone Courage”

Three Bad Guys apparently got to dance with a modern Wyatt Earp and lost. According to Miami’s Channel 7, the miscreants entered Okay Auto Tire Service along Northwest 46th Street and Second Avenue in Miami, forced people to the ground with guns and owner Omar Rangel drew his gun, shot and wounded two of the three assailants.

But what I like the best is the comment of Miami PD Officer Jeff Giordano:

“He displayed tombstone courage this afternoon and fired upon the offenders,”

And that shows a departure from the old Police Mentality of “We are happy with the outcome, but people  should let police take care of things.” Times have changed quite a bit down here in South Florida. Police (rank and file) understands that Gun Owners are law abiding citizens with tons of patience and restrain when carrying a concealed weapon.  And they are also painfully aware that they can’t protect everybody no matter how much they wish it.So, To Miami Police: thank you for breaking the mold.

Gun ownership works. Taking responsibility for one’s protection works. Crime did not pay for those three idiots. And to Mr. Rangel, Que  Dios lo Bendiga. (May God Bless.) you kept yourself, your workers and clients safe today.

On Oriental mysticism and a side of egg rolls.

I tried to write it nice so I don’t come out like a jerk, but I just couldn’t find the words so here it goes: I think there is a lot of bullcrap about the application of oriental philosophy in our western lives. It seems that if something was written by some guy with a sing-songy name a couple or three centuries ago, it must have a great relevance and we must bow to the knowledge imparted there because well, it is one of them oriental wise men, you know?

I was told by doctor that acupuncture was going to make me quit smoking. I suffered through the needles and came out wanting a big cigar and a fifth of JD which is weird because I don’t like cigars and don’t drink. Herbal Medicine? Got me a nice case of gastritis that is still with me 20 years later. Have you actually tried real chinese food? Most of it is boiled and bland or just plain gagging. That is why soy sauce is available: it is the oriental equivalent of ketchup or Tabasco, you gotta hide the original flavor.

But the Lord knows that my Mom must have dropped me on my head a couple of times because I heeded the advice of some and decided to read on some Far East classical authors on warfare and how it may apply to Personal Defense. I know I might upset some much more knowledgeable and famous folks than myself but I am sorry to say the knowledge them suckers in kimonos “share” do not apply to Civilian Self Defense. I dusted  my copy of The Art of War and added it to my newly acquired copy of The Book of Five Rings to see what knowledge I might absorb.

The Book of Five Rings is about swordfighting, samurai/ronin style. Legend has it that Miyamoto Musashi was a serious hombre with the sword who never lost a match against its adversaries or even got a cut anywhere on the pajama. The book was originally a scroll that Musashi wrote attempting to explain his approach to sword fighting so most of it will not apply to gun skills. One good thing about his literary approach is that he is not “educated” so he dispenses with most of the flowery language common to Japanese and most oriental writers. In the same book I got, the editors also latch on a copy of The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori who is “educated and you feel you need a weed eater and the Sierra Club Guide to Japanese Arbor and Flowers to read through it. Munenori’s teachings also apply to sword fighting but more as a combat & battlefield tactics than a civilian self defense issue.

Some of you are now steaming out of your ears thinking “How dare he mock such great and noble warriors? I will throw down the gauntlet right here and now! Katanas at 10 paces sir!” Well, take it easy and pick up your metal glove, I believe in long range acquisition with a modern firearm if possible. Yes, i will cheat, screw the rest. Why am I so “disrespectful” about Samurai (and also about knights while we are at it)? Because they were a bunch of elitists jackasses for the most part, wielding absolute power with their steel and their techniques. The little people were not humans and just basically target practice or ready-to-abuse subjects for these people. I am from the “Great Equalizer” School of Thought which sees a weapon (firearms) as the reset button of a society. Not every Joe had the money, position or budget to avail himself of a good sword, accouterments and training time to master swordsmanship.  Yet a simple tube propelling a lead ball shot by a peasant can manage to bring down and abusive cast of assholes. I don’t know why but that easiness to inflict deadly force to a mini dictator brings a warm fuzzy to my heart. We have romanticized so much samurais and knights that we ignore or conveniently forget that they were nothing more than petty Stalins who had the power of absolute life and death over their subjects and no sense of justice but their own desires. Somehow learning anything out of them makes me think that it is like learning medicine from the notes of Dr. Mengele’s experiments at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Still, I sat down with a pen and a highlighter to collect the alleged pearls of wisdom and did mark some interesting passages, but there was this nagging feeling on the back of my head that kept saying: “You read this before in a much simple and understanding format….You read this before in a much simple and understanding format….you moron. Think!” Then, around 3 am my degrading brain finally kicked open the file drawer and pulled out the card with the recorded info. There is a modern Book of Five Rings written by a modern warrior who applied his knowledge to teach the common folk how to defend themselves. Not an elitist (except when it came to one’s pursue of excellence with a firearm) and with a no BS view of the world without any chrysanthemums or Cherry Blossoms to adorn his writings: The Late Colonel Jeff Cooper and his excellent booklet Principles of Personal Defense. Forget Musashi, Munenori, Sun Tzu, P. F. Chang’s and Lt. Sulu, just get this book and digest its 56 pages. It will do more for your training and mindset foundation that 10 years in a Shaolin Monastery trying to snatch a pebble out of some white bearded guy’s hand. Its simplicity will astound you and its frankness may freak you out some. But it is God’s honest truth when it comes to Self Defense.

As for the Book of Five Rings, it goes next to the Art Of War to the uppermost shelf with the rest of the book I might want to check some day in the next decade if I need to recall a passage. I think I might be ordering some more Cooper books to absorb more of this modern Master & Teacher.

And if you are still insulted by my lack of respect for the Ancient Oriental Know-It-Alls, it is a feeling, you’ll get over it eventually… or not. I really do not care.

Be safe in a Hotel.

For the past five years I worked in the hospitality business as a security officer. By now I have ceased to be amazed at how people behave about their own personal security. For whatever reason, guests arriving at a hotel seem to think that whatever precautions they usually take at home, do not apply while on vacation or business trip. Nothing can be further from the truth. If anything, you should be even more aware of your surroundings and take extra care of yourself. I would like to share some ideas about being safe at a hotel with you now.

First: You are responsible for your own security! This should be damn obvious by now, but as I said before some people just switch off the basic survival procedures during a vacation. Just so you know. Hotel Security is not there to protect you but to protect the interest of the hotel. That is our mandate.

Sure, we are “trained” to look after you and try to see that nothing happens to you but the undercurrent in that is that Hotels are highly allergic to lawsuits brought by guest. If by some legal or legislative trick hotels were to become immune to lawsuits, the first department to disappear would be Security. We are just a legal excuse so in court the hotel can prove to the jury they took “reasonable measures’ to provide a modicum of safety to the guest.

Now, what can you do to be safe in a Hotel?

  1. Make sure your door is closed and that all the security devices attached to it are operational. Not a day goes by that during my rounds I find occupied room with doors open, occupants gone and expensive items in plain view. Laptops, Ipods, expensive watches, wallets and purses just ready to be plucked by an enterprising petty thief just because the guest left the room without making certain the door was firmly closed behind them.  And do the same before you go to sleep: check the damn door. I have found doors unsecured and female occupants deeply into the arms of morpheus ready to be sodomized or worse due to their carelessness. Use all latches and privacy dohickies that come with the lock and if you are still unsure, get one of those wedge rubber door stoppers which will provide one more layer of resistance in case somebody tries to kick in your door. You’d be surprised how weak a hotel door can be around the lock.
  2. Use the room safe, it is there for a darn reason. Most hotels only allow Security or a Manager the master codes or equipment to bypass a locked safe and having a small pool of suspects in case of an item missing from a safe makes almost everybody be very honest. And let’s face it folks, we (Hotel personnel) know all the goodie spots where you can “hide” your stuff in a room. And you will forget where you hid your extra cash of expensive jewelry, will not remember until you are back home and will have to call the hotel to retrieve it and send it. That is if you are lucky enough and the room has not been rented to another guest that found your stuff and decided that “finders keepers” apply to your possessions.
  3. Be smart about room keys.  Yes you heard all the Internet tales of magnetic card keys encoded with all your personal information included your DNA and the name of your first sweetheart, but the the real problem is being careless with your card as in losing it or damaging it. If you misplace your card, immediately go to the front desk and demand a new one and make sure you specify you do not want a duplicate. This is very important because a totally new card will eliminate the security encoding of the old one thus preventing anybody who might have found your card and want to use it to gain access to the room. Again, demand a New Card, not a Duplicate. Never write down your room number in your card or have it with anything that may indicate which room or even what floor you are staying in. There is no reason why you should make life easy for critters. And please keep the card away from cell phones and any electronic devices or anything with a magnetic field that will damage the card. The last thing you want to do is being alone in a hallway at the wee hours of the night with an bad key possibly becoming a target of a marauding criminal.  Request at least one extra card and have it as back up to avoid unnecessary trips to the Front Desk and have them send a New Key. This will also help you know if the key sent to you is really a new one or a duplicate: once you insert the new key, the old one will not work anymore. If after inserting the new key, the old one still work, call the Front Desk, raise merry hell demand a new one and then call the Corporate Office and let them know of the flagrant breach of security.

Next: Part 2 of How to be Safe In a Hotel

What can one armed man do?

I have no idea why, but and old memory found me this morning. Back in the early 90’s when I was living in certain South American country now under the firm grasp of a Socialist, massive riots and looting occurred. It was long four days of absolute collapse of the government basic services and control which I lived awake in coffee, cigarettes with a single shot shotgun and a Walther PPK on my waist. Thankfully our property was not affected by rioters since I already had a reputation for being somewhat crazy in Sheepland I was seen in more than one occasion experimenting with home made napalm) and an assiduous patrol kept miscreants pretty much away.

On the second day I was witness to a mob attacking a two story bodega about a two blocks away from my house. As typical of many bodegas in the country, it was owned and operated by one owner and his family and they had their living quarters on the upper floor.  It had no side or rear doors, just the front store gated entrance and side stairs connecting the second floor to the ground level.  I have no idea why the bodega was attacked but looters usually do not need one. When I noticed the attack it was already in progress and I fielded a pair of binoculars from the roof of my house to get a clearer picture. I was upset I what I saw since the looters were people that lived in the area, people that bought from that store and even got credit to purchase items from the owner when they did not have ways to pay for them, yet they thought it was OK to destroy his means of living.

The looters breached the store’s gates and proceeded inside. Seconds later they came out holding on the liquor and cigarettes while whooping their victory. After the booze and smokes were depleted, looters came back pretty much for the rest but this time I heard a firearm discharged sending everybody out running while dropping whatever items they had in their hand. The Bodega owner appeared with a big frame revolver in one hand, surveyed the damage and alongside his family recovered what little they could and proceeded for the next hour or so to secure the store entrance with whatever means they had available. Once they finished, they went inside and I returned to my patrol.

I’d say that about an hour later I checked the bodega again and I saw a large crowd in front. Their demeanor appeared angry and they were looking up at a window on the second story facing the front of the store. Through the barred window I saw a hand come out making go-away gestures but the crowd did not heed. Some in the mob once more attacked the store entrance, but I am guessing the reinforcement was much sturdier because they could not breach it this time. I kept watching the impasse silently congratulating the store owner for his stand when I saw something that chilled me: some idiot looter appeared suddenly with a Molotov cocktail and launched it towards the second story window. Thankfully it missed and hit the wall creating a fireball of little damage against a cement block structure.

It dawned on me that this was now not a bunch of idiots trying to score some freebies from the neighborhood merchant but a full fledged lynching mob intent on murder and nothing could be done to stop them. Police was nowhere to be seen and those not in the mob were like me trying to protect their households or cowering inside them praying to be spared from the wolves roaming the streets. I saw another looter with yet another Molotov cocktail but this time carefully preparing himself for a perfect pitch. He never did. The hand came through the barred second story window but this time holding the revolver and shooting it. One looter down and a Molotov cocktail rolled off his hand harmlessly.

Another looter, incensed by the shooting of his colleague picked up the firebomb and tried to toss it. The revolver went off again and another looter fell to the ground. This one I could see was dead on the spot. My binoculars allowed me to see the head exploding with perfect detail and the body just switching off to a mass of uncoordinated muscles and bones.  I lost track of the Molotov cocktail but I guess it did not go off again because I did not see a fireball, but a couple more appeared in the hands of other looters. More detonations came out the second story window sending two more looters scurrying and at least one of them leaving blood behind him.

This sequence kept repeating itself for another couple of hours. Mob attacking the gate, failing, mob trying to firebomb the upstairs apartment and getting shot for their efforts. I counted at least four dead on the ground and some 8 wounded taken away when the mob finally decided that it was getting to steep a price to pay for their obstinacy and withdrew to seek easier targets. Some 45 minutes later, the store owner and his family came out, loaded their old pick up truck (amazingly left untouched by the mob) with whatever belongings they could pack and abandoned the store. That night the looters came back and set the whole place on fire destroying the only grocery shop in a mile radius forcing the neighborhood to go farther away for their supplies from now on.

I heard later that the Store owner and his family moved to another city. The store was sold for a pittance but the new owner transformed it into a bike repair shop that went bankrupt soon afterward. Last I heard was that the building was abandoned and became a den of druggies and cheap hookers. Nobody was prosecuted for the attacks to the store and thankfully neither was the store owner for defending himself and his family.

So what can one armed man do? When the Shit Hit The Fan, a store owner saved himself and his family against a crowd and bought himself enough time to escape to safety. This was the leasson I learned that day and I hope you may save this little story in your brain’s memory bank for whenever somebody tries to convince you guns are not the solution.

Gun Free Zone Venezuela: Experiment failed.

On August 20, 2002 the Venezuelan Government under Hugo Chavez enacted the Disarmament Law under the promise of reducing the crime violence gripping the nation. Six years later the results are tragically in: Caracas, the capital and most populated city in the country now boast the dishonorable distinction of being the most dangerous metropolis in the world with a murder rate of 130 per 100,000.  The citizens of Caracas are in a literal state of siege and panic. The sounds of shots are more common than the sounds of birds and that is tough when you realize that tropical Venezuela is home to 11,000 species of birds.

Venezuela’s Disarmament Law is a Gun Control advocate wet dream. First of all it dictates that gun ownership is a privilege given by the Estate and to be removed without warning or compensation. You ask “compensation”? yes because it does not matter that you spent your hard earned money, filled paperwork, got fingerprinted, went through a psychiatric consult, waited up to a year and had to carry an specific permit for each gun you may be allowed to have, you do not own the gun, it belongs to the government, you are just renting it.

The Disarmament law voided all previous gun records and gave a 90 day grace period for gun owners to re-register their weapons. After that period expired, all guns not registered became illegal and the owner a criminal facing grave penalties and/or jail time.

But that, like infomercials say, is not all. This law complements The 1928 Law of Firearms and Explosives which defined the initial restrictions of gun ownership including what weapons & calibers are you allowed to “own.” IE: the good old 9mm is not a legal caliber to use because the Military uses it. Same for the .45 and the 30.06 and anything that has ever been used by any of the branches of the Venezuelan Military as standard weapon or caliber. That pretty much leaves the user with .22, .38, and .32 ACP.  Shotguns may be OK but slugs are not allowed and rifled shotguns are a no-no.

The last ingredient in the 130 per 100,000 murder recipe is the criminalization of self defense. I am no legal expert or pretend to know about law so I will give you a sad anecdote. A Venezuelan criminal lawyer friend of mine emailed me some years back regarding a case she was defending. She wanted to consult me (like I was a Spanish speaking version of Mas Ayoob, yeah right!) about shooting techniques used in self defense and about some other self defense issues related to guns so I explained her all I could over the phone while I was preparing an email with links to several websites that might shed much better information that I could give. I asked what was the case about and she explained that her client was confronted inside of his house by an armed criminal in the wee hours of the night. The criminal was armed and so was the client who triple tapped the miscreant sending him to his well deserved oblivion. The home owner did the dutiful thing and called police who promptly arrested him and dragged his butt to jail for murder.  I was shocked and asked why was he arrested if he was in his house, attacked by an armed criminal and he only defended himself. The lawyer responded that three shots, according to Venezuelan jurisprudence was too much, in fact it was legally considered “viciousness & savagery” (Ensañamiento in Spanish) and thus murder, not self-defense. The legal standing is that one should shoot only once, asses the damage done to the opponent and then shoot if the threat to one’s life is imminent.  I asked the lawyer if that means I would have to give the Bad Guy a freebie shot before I could make sure he was gone for good and she said yes, that is the statute. She said that she could explain two shots fired as the person being nervous and pulling the trigger too fast without thinking but that the judge would not consider three shots as “nervousness.”

At the end her client ended up serving 10 years (the judge was gracious enough) for second degree murder. My only thought was that he was lucky he did not engage in a Bill Drill or he would serve thirty years in a Venezuelan prison.

British Gun Free Zone Experiment: Another Failure or two.

I bumped into several news items published in Ski News related to the rising gun violence in England and I am amazed that it happens at all! From unarmed police officers being shot by armed thugs to teens brandishing AK-type weapons and scaring the hell out of motorists to individuals making weapons to sell to gangs none of these were supposed to be happening in the Old Country. The Queen’s subjects were guaranteed by their govrnment that banning weapons from civilian possesion was going to keep them safe. The promise did not hold.

One in 10 brits say that they have been affected by gun crimes. The number should be zero according to the gun control “experts” that still insist on spouting their failed theories. And as the gun laws are slowly being eliminated in the USA with a corresponding degree in the number of crimes, England’s viloent crime rate keeps rising.  Still the “experts’s” solution is to add new gun control laws and increasingly more power to the police without realizing that decreasing the number of victims by empowering them to defend themselves is the answer and not disarming civilians and thus creating a guaranteed pool of unarmed product for the criminal consumers.

But what do I know? I am a gun nut and they are Civilized… and dying.

Made Equal!

Created Equal ? Made Equal!
(Originally posted on May 10th, 2008)

“I hate people with guns. They are cowards.”

In the now defunct TruTV “reality” series Operation Repo, one of the characters is Matt who is the muscle-bound goon/enforcer for this repossession company. If you ever have the misfortune of catching a rerun, you will see Matt doing his specialty: jumping on people about half his size and wrestle them into submission.
In one episode however, the tables were turned when a car owner pulled a firearm and threatened the Repo-Idiots with deadly force. Muscle Matt became a quivering mass of fecal decomposition and was looking for a hole to hide. In the post-event interview Matt made clear he despised armed people and considered them cowardly because they did not fight fairly. This is typical of bullies and criminals who like to have the upper hand on their victims, they bitch and moan about a gun giving an “unfair advantage” as if their physical abilities to pounce and stomp somebody without the body mass or fight training is supposed to be fair. I guess that your average steroid-enhanced moron think he has the OSHA-mandated right to pulp the hell out of a smaller person and such person should not have the means to defend him/herself and having a gun is some sort of Federal Violation punishable by death.

Is having a gun and the ability to administer deadly force in case of attack by Matt or one of his colleagues considered unfair advantage? Well, yes! It is my life we are talking about here and I plan to used every mean and perform every trick in the book if I can stay out of the hospital or the morgue. And if Matt or someone like him makes the tactical error of considering that I am not a physical match to them and thus easy pickings, it will be his mistake by initiating an unprovoked attack and then find himself with a new orifice where one was not that morning. Fair means I get to go home alive. So allow me to repeat those famous words (infamous to bullies and criminals) uttered by somebody but that reflect a deep and enlightening truth.

“God created men, Sam Colt made them equal.”