Since grand juries have been such a hot topic of late, I considered researching and writing an article on the subject, but then I found a handbook published by the Hall County District Attorney’s Office on the topic. Click here to access a .pdf copy of the handbook.
“If you are going to take the time to look, take the time to see.” -Erik Lund on scan processes
The class consisted of 11 students and began in the mid-afternoon and went well into the evening. We began by practicing various handheld flashlight techniques in conjunction with our pistols. We then practiced handheld light techniques with our rifles. All of this was done while we still had daylight so that we could focus on the techniques.
Of note, Erik recommends having some sort of retention device on a handheld light to aid in weapon manipulations. He personally used a lanyard and would simply drop the light, perform a reload or malfunction clearance and then retrieve his light. Another option demonstrated by Tod Lit was a light with a ring on it. I didn’t have any such devices; so, I put my light back in the holder on my belt during manipulations initially, but later in the class I switched to stowing it under my arm.
After we had practiced the techniques, we broke for dinner and then had a lengthy discussion on different low light technologies available including lasers, night vision and thermal. The discussion included demonstrations of all of these technologies. Some of this stuff is a language all of its own, especially for a guy that still runs iron sights on his rifles.
After the demonstrations were concluded, we moved back into a live fire segment using the same progression as in the beginning of the class. After each of the handheld light techniques were used under live fire, we were allowed to begin using our weapon mounted lights.
The final live fire portions of the class involved shooting at 50 yards first to see how accurately we could place shots. Then we ran a few evolutions in which we had to negotiate a barricade and hit partially obscured targets. It is important to note that seeing the targets and making the shots was not difficult at all. However, and this is a key point, true target identification at that distance was difficult. Had the drills been judgement drills, I wouldn’t have taken the shots as I couldn’t definitively determine that they were “hostile” targets.
I shot my issued shorty Colt M4LE carbine. It is equipped with a YHM-9670 handguard. I received and installed the handguard earlier this week. I recently met the owners of YHM thanks to my friends at Sight Picture Media. I like the feel and profile of the product and think it is a good addition to my carbine. My lights were provided by Jamie Wiedeman of Surefire. On my rifle was an older Surefire Scout light, and for my handheld, I tried two different versions of the Surefire Peacekeeper (dual output and the tactical). I’ve been running the Scout light for several years, and it has been on more than one bad guy hunt. This was the maiden voyage for the Peacekeeper lights. I preferred the dual output light due to the “click on, click off” tail cap switch. With the tactical version, my thumb came off the switch a couple of times during recoil; thus, the light turned off. The tail caps can be switched, and I will play around with the clickable switch on the tactical version. Thanks to Jamie for setting me up with the lights. It was “almost like cheating.”
You all know the old saying about not judging a person until you have walked in their shoes.
This weekend a horrible tragedy played out in Cleveland, OH. The common thread among the media reports are that two officers from the Cleveland Police Department responded to a call of a young male waiving around a gun. As the officers approach, one tells the young male to raise his hands. Instead, the young male draws the pistol from his waistband at which time the officer fires. The boy was killed.
The gun turned out to be an air-soft (fires plastic BBs) replica of a model 1911 pistol.
Some reports claim that callers mentioned the possibility of the gun being fake, but it is not clear whether this is accurate or if that information was relayed to the responding officers. In the end, if this is indeed the case, it will certainly add more fuel to the angst fire, but it really doesn’t change the situation to any large degree as this information may certainly be taken into account by responding officers as it couldn’t be accepted as 100% reliable either.
Now for the walking in their shoes part…
I was working midnight shift on patrol. Other units responded to a reported shooting, and they put out a look out for a very distinctive vehicle that passed by at the exact time of the shooting. A short time later, I was dispatched to a fight in progress call. As I arrived on scene, I see the vehicle described as being at the scene of the earlier reported shooting. It was in fact the very same vehicle. The vehicle was being chased by several people on foot who were running after it. I told the people chasing the car to stay back; I caught up to the vehicle; and I initiated a stop on the car keeping in mind that it was very likely connected to the reported shooting.
As the vehicle stopped, the passenger immediately jumped out of the vehicle and turned toward me. Light from a streetlight glinted off of what appeared to be a silver, metal object in his hand. I drew my old S&W 4006 out of a Safariland 070 duty holster, and as I type this, I can clearly see the image of my Novak front sight superimposed over the center of his chest.
The object in his hand was a cell phone.
Had he made any move that looked threatening after I saw the light glinting from the object, I would have fired. I have no doubt of this. It all happened in split seconds, but the event plays over and over again in slow motion in my mind whenever I think of it.
In another instance, I almost shot a college student who swept back his jacket to show me that the gun that he was carrying was a toy gun. He saw me, freaked, and turned towards me sweeping back his jacket. In his mind, he needed to show the cop that he didn’t have a real gun. All I saw was a guy spin toward me while sweeping his jacket out of the way and reaching for what appeared to be a pistol in a holster on his belt.
The only reason I didn’t fire was that I saw and recognized the power chord coming out of the butt of the pistol.
Yup. He was carrying the pistol from his video gaming console.
The individuals in the car in the first incident had by pure coincidence driven by the scene of the reported shooting as it occurred. They made the mistake of pulling into a fraternity parking lot to park their car. The members of the fraternity took exception to this and the result was a fight. The two guys jump back into the car (after one of them unleashes a can of pepper spray) and leave the parking lot with the fraternity members chasing them only for me to arrive at the same time. In the second incident, the individual was a college student on the way to a costume party at a bar. We happened to wind up in the same parking lot at the same time, and he freaked thinking the cop saw that he had a “gun”.
Both of these incidents could have easily resulted in “Cop Shoots Teenage Holding a Cell Phone” or “Cop Shoots College Student Armed with Video Game Pistol” headlines.
The decisions in those incidents were made in less than a second each. It turned out that I was right both times. The irony is that I could have been wrong and still been right. I also could have been wrong and ended up dead. That is the pure truth of the matter. Life and death decisions made instantaneously, in real time, and without the benefit of slow motion replay to see if the ref blew the call.
“If you are missing, you aren’t getting the work done.” -Frank Proctor
I first met Frank Proctor of Way of the Gun when he taught a block of the FBI Police Firearms Instructor course that I attended in 2013. When the members of our “C Shift” told me they had arranged for a private class with Frank, I quickly jumped on the spot offered to me. It was a long day, but it was well worth it. We left at 5:00AM so that we could get through Atlanta prior to rush hour traffic and didn’t get home until 9:00PM. One additional challenge to the day was the weather as we experienced an overnight temperature drop of 25 degrees. The temperature never got above the mid-40s, and it was windy.
As I have written previously, I prefer to train with instructors who have backgrounds in both the “tactical” and competition worlds, and Frank certainly fits this bill being both Army Special Forces as well as a USPSA Grand Master as well as an IDPA Master.
As the above video demonstrates, Frank is very much into “processing”. This involves seeing and processing everything that is happening around you, and this translates into seeing the sight picture, tracking the sights during recoil, breaking the shot at the right time to so much more.
We began the day shooting an exercise on paper targets, and after each string, Frank would ask us questions about what we saw during the string, and he would then offer teaching points. We also worked on properly gripping the pistol as well as recoil control.
Frank makes a point of saying that he utilizes exercises rather than drills as exercises can be “compounded” to add other things to them. Throughout the day, we would shoot an exercise, and then he would add a twist or variation to the exercise building upon the previous work. After the initial exercise on paper, we shot steel targets for the remainder of the day.
One of the first exercises that we shot on steel was the “Shake and Bake” exercise in which barrels were stacked upon top of each other to create a vision barrier. The shooter had to move side to side completely compressing the pistol and then punch back out to the target. The barrels were not “cover”. They were there simply to block the shooter’s vision and to force movement.
We shot the exercise in the above video, but he had us moving through a row of staggered barrels as we did so.
Another exercise involved an array of targets with numbers painted on them and the shooters having to move through a row of barrels with each barrel having an index card with information on it telling us which targets to shoot. As an example of compounding, this exercise was introduced with our simply moving through the barrels and shooting the targets in sequential order. We then moved through the barrels again putting the number of hits on a target corresponding with the number that was painted on it, and then finally the exercise involving the information processing. As a twist, the same exercise was set up in the an adjacent bay but with a different target array to avoid memorization of the information while at the same time providing for additional repetitions.
There was not any downtime during the day. Frank told us to bring 600 rounds with us, and I think we all exceeded that number as we all were stuffing magazines as fast as possible to bang some more steel.
Frank’s teaching style is extremely relaxed and humorous. You’ll also get serenaded and peppered with sound effects as well as movie one-liners that lead to teaching points. As I wrote above, there isn’t any downtime in the day. If we weren’t shooting, we were loading magazines. You’ll get a lot of material thrown at you, but it will be in a manner that you will readily understand and is often a tweak or a unique insight on something the student has already heard previously, but the presentation “compounds” the previously obtained information. Also, he breaks things down to be done efficiently with the subconscious mind being allowed to control the simple things with the conscious mind focussing on processing. To drive this point home, “Walking isn’t hard until you think about it”. In others words, just walk and don’t think about walking while you are walking. Another example would be driving a vehicle and looking through the windshield. You are making constant inputs to control and steer the vehicle, but you really aren’t thinking about them as you do them. This can be applied to shooting as well. Focus on the things that need focus and just do the other stuff naturally. Oh yeah, and PROCESS.
“Your best cover is accurate fire on your adversary.” –Ernest Langdon
Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical Technology brought his Tactical Pistol Skills to class to the area, and thankfully, I was able to get a spot in the class. If you have read any of my previous class reviews, you may have noticed that I tend to seek out training from instructors who can walk the walk with equal credibility in both the “tactical” and competition worlds. My thinking on this is that such people will have refined their techniques for maximum efficiency, but they will have done so with an understanding of what happens in violent encounters. Ernest Langdon fits this bill.
A short list of his credentials include the following: USPSA Grand Master, IDPA Distinguished Master, winner of multiple national and world championships, service as a Marine Scout Sniper and Scout Sniper Instructor, service as an Instructor in the USMC’s High Risk Personnel Program, and a host of others. You can read his complete bio by clicking here.
The class was limited to 12 students. Three of the students were peace officers; the rest were armed citizens who are all regulars in such classes. The small class size allowed the instructor to observe and coach each individual student.
In some parts of the world, there are four seasons in a year. That is not the case in Georgia. We have summer and not summer. September here is summer. The temperature on both days of this class topped the 90 degree mark, and day two included a thunderstorm in the afternoon that upped the already substantially high humidity level. Not only did we get roasted; we were boiled a bit as well. This presented considerable teaching challenges, but he handled them well, and the students all seemed quite pleased with the product they received. One of the breaks evolved into a lengthy question and answer session which I enjoyed very much. During the thunderstorm, he set up barrels underneath our shelter and taught proper use of cover, well, he did until the rain started beating on the metal roof so hard that it was impossible to hear anything other than a shout.
The shooting drills were very much accuracy focused with a lot of time spent shooting at tiny dots painted on the targets under a time or cadence standard. We did some work on steel targets as well. Attention was also given to shooting on the move as well as with strong and support hand only work.
In the opening paragraph, I referenced seeking training from people who have both competitive and tactical shooting backgrounds. As my friend Erik Lund says, “A gunfight is solving a tactical problem at speed.” He also says that “competition process can be applied to tactical applications.” With that in mind, there was one topic that Mr. Langdon touched upon in regard to the so-called “tactical turtle” stance that is derided by competition based shooters. I’m not going to fully delve into it at this point as I want to discuss it with him to make sure that I am accurately reporting what he said, and I have a training class upcoming later in the year with a favorably credentialed instructor who presents yet a different approach to the question, and I would like to bounce educated questions off of both individuals before putting it all in writing. If you can’t wait until then, seek out Mr. Langdon and pay for a class. It’ll be worth it.
Finally, for you Beretta fan boys:
“Cover may be your friend, but it does not need a hug.” –Tom Givens
Twice this year I have been present for historical moments in the shooting community. The first was witnessing not one but two perfect runs on “The Test” at the Rogers Shooting School. The second is bittersweet as I was a part of the last class at the Rangemaster facility in Memphis, TN. Thankfully, the Rangemaster banner will continue on the training circuit, but the range has closed its doors. That was the bitter part. I’ll save the sweet part for later.
We hosted the Rangemaster crew for Combative Pistol I (CP1) in March of this year. The boss was impressed with the course, and he, thankfully, decided to send me to Rangemaster’s Instructor Development Course (IDC) to continue our efforts in stepping up our in-house firearms training program. Thanks boss.
As I wrote in my review of CP1, the Rangemaster program focuses on efficiency and precision. The IDC is true to this with the addition of teaching and coaching tips and graded shooting and written tests as well as presentations by each student.
We started on Friday morning with introductions and some work in the classroom. Then we moved over to the range. We were each paired with another student with one shooting and the other coaching. After a few drills, we would be paired with a different student. Rangemaster instructors were plentiful and they would coach the coaches as needed.
Saturday was range intensive with a few blocks of classroom instruction mixed in, and we continued to work as both shooters and coaches.
Sunday was game day. We shot for score, took our written test, and made our presentations.
In order to graduate, students had to pass the current FBI qualification course (PQC 13) with a minimum score of 90% (FBI instructor standard), the Rangemaster course with a minimum score of 90%, and pass a written test with an 80% minimum score.
For a little added pressure, each student’s scores are written on their diploma.
The student with the highest aggregate score in the class is the Top Gun.
Anyone need in help in figuring out the sweet part?
I wrote a breathtakingly brilliant paper on this topic in graduate school for an administrative law class. Okay, I wrote a paper on this topic…
I wish that I could find that paper as I would just upload it here, but that was prior to my walking towards the Mac light, and at least three Windows based laptops have met the blue screen of death since that class. Plus, I don’t have a current device that will read the 3.5” storage disks even if I could find the one containing said paper. So, this will be much shorter than the 15 or so pages I wrote back then, and it certainly isn’t going to be anywhere near as scholarly.
Disclaimer: Some legal scholar is likely to read this and argue that it is the Fourteenth Amendment that bestows the rights I am going to discuss below. They can get their own blog. I prefer to use the text from the Fifth Amendment as it is more commonly known, and it gives me another opportunity to point out that the Miranda Warning is a complete fabrication of the court. Folks tend to forget that there are other parts of the Fifth Amendment, and yes, I know that Miranda includes portions of other amendments. I understand the 14th Amendment and the theory of incorporation on the states.
And with that:
A long time ago in a nation seemingly far away, a document was written and ratified by a citizenry establishing a social contract and a system of government. As part of the ratification process, the citizens insisted that certain additions be made to said document, and those additions became the Bill of Rights.
And then lawyers happened…
The Fifth Amendment contains more than the protections against self-incrimination and double jeopardy and other facets of criminal law that are most closely associated with it. Pay attention to the portions in bold:
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
To shorten this up considerably, the lawyers have successfully established in court that public employees have property and liberty interest in their jobs and that in order to be terminated, or lose pay, or be demoted, etc., they must be afforded due process. The employee has a right to a formal hearing and a chance to answer the accusations against them.
Even in specific instances in which an employee does not have a property interest, such as a probationary employee, a liberty interest still exists. As the saying goes, “You can fire a probationary (or at will) employee for no reason. You just can’t fire them for a bad reason.” Employees with no property interest can’t be terminated/demoted/etc. because they choose to go to or not to go to a particular place of worship (religious freedom) or for their diddling preferences (sexual orientation) or any such similar things. Also, if an employee is accused of dishonesty or other things that would sully their “good name” and likely prevent their ability to gain other employment, they must be given an opportunity to “clear their name”.
So, when you see a news story concerning some allegation against a public employee, and the story contains a passage such as “suspended with pay” that does not mean that is the end of things. It means it is the beginning. As the media and the public often have the attention span of a gnat (I presume gnats have short attention spans. I don’t actually know that this is the case, and it may very well be insulting to gnats to make such a comparison. Gnats likely have a longer attention span than the media and public.) and the follow up story, if there is one, comes well down the road and is buried closer to the back page of the story than to the front.
Those that read such stories and make asinine comments such as “paid leave will teach them” or the like truly are idiots in the purest Greek sense of the word. Bless you hearts.
I also suggest web searches on the Garrity Warning. Garrity is a tool that can be used in administrative investigations to compel an employee to make a statement; however, any evidence resulting from the use of Garrity may not be used in a criminal prosecution unless it is independently obtained.
The Georgia Supreme Court recently decided a case concerning private campus officers and qualified immunity.
The first sentence of the decision is as follows:
“We granted certiorari to decide whether a campus police officer employed by a private college qualifies as a “state officer or employee” who may assert immunity from tort suits under the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA), OCGA §§ 50-21-20 to 50-21-37.”
In a previous piece, I outlined the statutory authority of campus law enforcement agencies. Let me be very clear that this case pertains only to the the campus police agencies of private colleges. It has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the campus police departments of public educational institutions.
The legal question arises from a case handled by the Agnes Scott College Department of Public Safety (ASCDPS). The personnel involved are fully certified peace officers. They attended the same academies as do deputy sheriffs and municipal police officers.
The ASCDPS received a report from a student claiming that she had been sexually assaulted in her dorm room. She named a suspect. An officer from the ASCDPS went to a judge and obtained an arrest warrant for the suspect named by the complainant. The suspect was arrested in Knoxville, TN, and extradited to Georgia. The suspect offered proof that she was in Knoxville at the time of the alleged assault, and the District Attorney dropped the charges. The suspect then filed suit against the officers and Agnes Scott College for false arrest.
The officers sought to have the lawsuit dismissed claiming immunity under state law. The initial trial court rejected this argument; however, the Court of Appeals overturned the trial court. To simplify the writing of this, the statute provides that law enforcement officers have immunity, but the statute also excludes private organizations. The appellate decision was split. The state Supreme Court recognized the reasoning of the appellate decision but overturned the decision due to Agnes Scott College being a private organization.
So, yes, the ASCDPS officers are in fact law enforcement officers, but as they work for a private organization, they are not covered under the state’s immunity laws.
Again, this ruling does not apply to the campus police officers of public institutions.
Now that the legal question has been settled, the actual lawsuit is clear to go forward.
“Every shotgun is a snowflake.” –Erik Lund
Having previously taken a rifle class from Erik Lund, I welcomed the opportunity to take his Performance Shotgun course. Erik was assisted in this class by Tod Lit.
Of note, I have been firmly camped on the Remington 870 side of the Remington versus Mossberg question for several decades, but I won a Mossberg 590A1 in a drawing, and rather than learning my way around it in privacy, I thought it a much better course of action to trot it out in front of a group of people so that they could witness the process…
I did carry along a trusty 870P just in case I needed my security blanket.
The 590A1 in question has been upgraded to a Magpul forend, a Dave’s Metal Works aluminum follower and a Big Dot sight. From previous experience, I have found that the Bog Dot sight works really well for buckshot, but slugs at 50 yards start to become a challenge as the sight covers up so much of the target.
This class was not a basic or introductory class in that we didn’t spend time on basic loading and unloading drills or rudimentary discussions on shotgun ammo. Erik did take a few moments to dispel a couple of shotgun myths. One of these was the oft repeated notion that the sound of a pump shotgun action being worked was enough to win an encounter. Another was the myth that a pump shotgun was more reliable than a semi-auto shotgun. While this may be mechanically true, it is not true of shooter induced malfunctions.
As for technique, Erik is a proponent of consistency across platforms. As such, his stances for pistol, carbine, and shotgun are all similar. He stresses being balanced and having your hips oriented towards the target.
After the introductions and safety briefings, we jumped right into the shooting.
We began with a patterning drill. Erik described shotguns as “every shotgun is a snowflake” stressing that even across the same lines of ammo and firearms that they will perform differently in each shotgun. This was proved correct during the patterning drill. As for buckshot, the clear winner for tightest pattern was the Federal Flight Control 00 buckshot.
From there, we did a few basic manipulation drills making sure that everyone was up to speed with the operation of their particular shotgun, and then we moved to reloading drills; a lot of reloading drills. Both strong and support hand drills were taught. After we worked through all of theses different drills, Erik told us to pick the one we preferred and to use it for the remainder of the class. We worked predominantly from a sidesaddle. Most of my previous shotgun work has been done using a belt mounted ammo carrier. While I prefer loading from a belt mounted carrier, I do believe that working from a sidesaddle makes more sense as the ammo goes wherever the gun goes. It is a much simpler equation to simply grab the shotgun and go than it does to take the extra steps of affixing belt carriers.
Personal note: I strongly suggest using a sidesaddle that attaches by means other than the action pins. These are often installed incorrectly, usually due to over or under tightening of the pins, causing malfunctions. I’ve also heard of the additional stress on the pins leading to their breaking. I once had an issue to where the action wouldn’t lock, but everything looked fine.
As to reloading techniques, we predominantly focused on those that would be used by the typical armed citizen or peace officer, but we did get to play around with a few of the competition oriented techniques, and Erik and Todd worked individually with any of the three gunners who wanted to work specifically on those techniques.
After the extensive reloading work, we shot slugs at 25 and 50 yards and practiced slug integration (slug exchange, select slug, etc) techniques as well as handgun transitions. A note on the Big Dot sight is that using the top curving edge of the sight at distance makes getting hits at distance a more reliable prospect.
We wrapped up with a few fun-and-gun drills.
As for the 590A1, all in all it performed well. I experienced no mechanical malfunctions. The difference in the location of controls did get me a couple of times. The guy shooting next to me commented on one such occasion, “It looked like you got into your truck but somebody had moved the seat.” As the day went on, it did begin to become less awkward. It never quite got to the point where it pointed as naturally for me as does an 870.
A couple of things that I prefer about the 590 are the lack of a loading gate and the fact that the ejector can be replaced with a screwdriver rather than returning the firearm to the factory. I will also grudgingly admit that location of the safety switch has some advantages. If an identically equipped 870 and 590A1 were next to each other on a rack, and I had to grab one and go, I’d probably grab the 870, but after this class, I would feel comfortable picking up the 590A1.
Regardless of where you come down on private citizens carrying firearms in public, and no matter what your views are concerning Georgia’s House Bill 60, the complete failure of logic occurring among the governing authorities of some Georgia counties and municipalities is astounding.
Under current state law, it is illegal to carry a firearm into a “government building”. Here is the definition of a government building from 16-11-127 O.C.G.A.:
(3) “Government building” means:
(A) The building in which a government entity is housed;
(B) The building where a government entity meets in its official capacity; provided, however, that if such building is not a publicly owned building, such building shall be considered a government building for the purposes of this Code section only during the time such government entity is meeting at such building; or
(C) The portion of any building that is not a publicly owned building that is occupied by a government entity.
(4) “Government entity” means an office, agency, authority, department, commission, board, body, division, instrumentality, or institution of the state or any county, municipal corporation, consolidated government, or local board of education within this state.
Currently, the only thing keeping armed criminals from entering many government buildings within the state is words on a piece of paper: a written law. Outside of courthouses, active security screening is not present in the majority of government buildings.
HB60 changes state law as to carry into government buildings. Effective July 1, 2014, it will be legal for the holder of a Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL) to carry into government buildings that do not have active security screening. It will still be illegal for those who do not hold a GWCL to enter such buildings.
Now, as to the logic failure, a simple perusal of media outlets indicates that there are numerous city and county governments contemplating installing security equipment and hiring security staff to conduct screening at government buildings that do not currently have such security measures in place.
That’s right, the city and county governments in question who before were not worried about armed criminals entering their buildings thus they took no measures to stop it are now taking active measures to prevent legally armed citizens, citizens who have undergone background checks and obtained licenses no less, from entering.
One more time: no security measures to prevent armed criminals from entering versus security measures to prevent legally armed citizens from entering.
That’s right; people who took no steps to keep out armed criminals are taking steps to keep out people who have actually passed background checks. I just wanted to make sure everybody was clear on that.
But wait, the law said criminals can’t enter government buildings with firearms, and we all know criminals are so good at obeying laws…