I’ve waited this long to comment on the latest atrocity at Fort Hood, to allow the investigation to play out. A few days prior to the incident, my friend and colleague John Farnam had pointed out that military intelligence indicated there would be a “replay of Fort Hood” very soon somewhere in America. At this point, there is no indication that he latest mad dog was a jihadist, only a man with a broken mind who had apparently put a good deal of thought into such mass murder before he carried it out…closer to the monster of Sandy Hook Elementary School than the fanatic who previously wrought havoc at Fort Hood.
In the end, the motive matters less than the act…and the failure to interdict it in a timely fashion. The same John Farnam, a combat Marine in the Vietnam era and a lawman later, noted after the last rampage that on the rare occasions when gunmen do the same in a domestic law enforcement environment – that is, open fire in a police station – they at most get off a few shots and inflict a few wounds before the intended victims react, draw their own ever-present service pistols from their holsters, and shoot the gunman down like the mad dog he has obviously become.
Large institutions steeped in tradition are slow to change their paradigms, and the American military fits that description in this respect.
But it has now been 20 years since the mass murder at Fairchild AFB, five since the jihadist rampage at Fort Hood (“workplace violence,” my ass), and days since the latest horror on the same killing ground. Each time, it ended as soon as the mass murderer came under fire. A bullet in the brain from my friend Andy Brown’s Beretta put down the rabid dog of Fairchild. A security officer’s bullet paralyzed the first Fort Hood coward into a limbo that stopped this side of his hoped-for martyrdom. When the latest killer came under fire, he shot himself dead, as so many mass-murderers have in other settings as soon as they met return fire, or knew they were about to.
Unilaterally disarming our own armed services in the face of clear and present threat is simply ludicrous. Arming the potential victims on our domestic bases will be a complicated thing. Simply recognize civilian carry permits for qualified personnel on base? Easier at Fort Hood in Texas or Fort Benning in Georgia than at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. If nothing else, select officers and non-coms wearing service pistols on base would be a good start. There are many fine minds at the Judge Advocate General’s Office which could work that out.
Otherwise, history tells us, the second Fort Hood massacre will not be the last replay of this American Tragedy.
I sadly learned of the death today of Otis McDonald. He passed at 79 after a valiant battle against cancer. It was the first long battle he didn’t win.
As a black man in America, he fought his way up from economic disadvantage to earning a good living for his family. He fought against violent crime in his adopted city of Chicago, and in so doing came to his most famous battle as the lead named plaintiff in McDonald, et. al. v. City of Chicago. In the plaintiffs’ landmark victory in that case in 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that neither the Windy City nor any other city could ban law-abiding citizens from owning handguns for defense of self and family. The McDonald decision helped pave the way for the concealed carry permits now being issued throughout Illinois.
This past Monday I was at a state bar association headquarters, leading a panel discussion they were filming on gun modifications and gun-and-ammo choices as they relate to shooting cases. On the same day, half a world away, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was on trial for murder in the death of his girlfriend. It turned out that the ammunition in the death weapon in South Africa was jacketed hollow point, and the prosecution was making a huge deal about its deadly effects, implying that using it was indicia of malice in and of itself. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/prosecutor-in-pistorius-trial-says-autopsy-testimony-is-graphic-should-not-be-broadcast/article17391312/. Oddly enough, at the bar association CLE (continuing legal education) film we discussed the same thing.
The ammo was reportedly Ranger, a Winchester brand which in this country is generally sold as “law enforcement only,” though outside of San Francisco I don’t know of any laws actually banning its use by private citizens. (Interestingly, the images they showed on CNN looked more like Federal HST. I watched the talking heads babble on about how the bullet spread itself out into petals that spun like a fan. Slice and dice…it could have been a Cuisinart commercial.
The panel they were filming on our end was made up entirely of people carrying Glock pistols with Winchester Ranger ammunition. The police chief who used to command LAPD Metro and SWAT had 124 grain Ranger +P in his 9mm Glock 17. The Sergeant/Rangemaster who had shot a guy with such a bullet was wearing the same Glock 21 he had used that night, with 230 grain Ranger .45 ACP. And I had the same ammo he did, in my RoBar custom Glock 30S.
The BS arguments about “malicious dum-dum bullets” have been going on for more than 40 years in this country. Yet such expanding bullets are issued to virtually all of American law enforcement, and are the smart thing to put in personal defense and home defense handguns. The reasons are reduced likelihood of overpenetration, reduced likelihood of ricochet, and faster neutralization of threats to the innocent so deadly that they warrant lethal force in the first place. I think those are incontrovertible arguments. But there’s also a fourth argument, and we’ll get to that before long.
This will kick off a five-part series, so our readers can have the tools to defend their use of appropriate ammunition when that choice is falsely questioned in a court of law.
Blatant misinformation about Stand Your Ground laws and principles continues to abound. Sometimes, when you have to tell someone “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” it’s not an insult, but simply a statement of fact.
Knowledge is the only cure for ignorance. However, when you have metastasizing willful ignorance – sometimes complicated by long-festering intentional deception – it takes repeated and massive doses of truth to fight the infection.
So here I am, in five-below-zero Cleveland on a Monday morning, watching CNN’s sandbag interview of George Zimmerman, and listening to Nancy Grace and assorted other talking heads conflate his case with Saturday’s verdict on Michael Dunn in the Jacksonville “loud music” homicide.
It makes me want to wander outside into the snow. There’s less bullshit out there in the cold, clean air.
The Dunn verdict gives me no heartburn. He sent bullets toward three young men who were fleeing from him and had themselves shown him no overt threat; that suffices to sustain the jury’s guilty verdicts on three counts of attempted murder, and for firing at the vehicle. There is much rage that the jury could not agree on a verdict on the charge of murdering the fourth young man, Jordan Davis. The defendant came across well with his testimony, unsupported by any other testimony, that he perceived Jordan to be bringing a gun to bear on him when he fired the fatal shots.
Did that suffice to give at least one juror reasonable doubt as to guilt? To believe that Dunn might well be telling the truth? That seems to be the primary assumption of commentators so far. It’s certainly a possibility, but it might also have been that the jury simply couldn’t agree on premeditated murder vis-à-vis lesser included offenses. In his closing statement, prosecutor John Guy told the jury that the state didn’t want anything less than a Murder One conviction. It may turn out to be a case of “be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.”
Just hypothetically, if Michael Dunn was telling the truth and there was a shotgun in the other vehicle when he opened fire upon it, the defense claim that the young men in that vehicle dumped the evidence is rendered largely moot by Dunn’s own actions. When he fled the scene, he didn’t just trigger the whole “flight equals guilt” thing; he removed from the scene the one person who could have told police that there might be a shotgun they should be looking for. It puts him somewhat in the position of the guy who kills his parents and then pleads the court’s mercy as an orphan. The cops can’t find something they don’t know to look for.
There was much fail in Michael Dunn’s actions. The innocence he claimed was nowhere near as clear as Zimmerman’s, based on his statements at the scene, and the totality of the evidence. The cases don’t really belong in the same discussion, and neither has a damn thing to do with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Dunn emerges as, at best, a bad example of stupid behavior whose only positive legacy will be learning points for more responsible armed citizens. Zimmeman remains a whipping boy for the willful ignorance of those who prefer superficial sensationalism to research into the actual principles of law and justice.