Thursday, May 31, 2012

Situational Awareness at all Times

CBS reports

A 34-year-old Minneapolis man has been charged in connection with a recent incident where, without warning, he attacked another man and stole a gun that the victim had a permit for, according to police.

Willie Merriweather was charged with first-degree aggravated robbery in connection with the May 21 incident. 

Police said an adult male was walking home in the area when a man, later identified as Merriweather, was walking the other way and suddenly slammed the victim into a parked car.

The victim hurt his arm and wasn’t able to defend himself. Merriweather allegedly searched the victim, eventually finding a pistol, and put it to the victim’s head while demanding valuables. 

The victim lost the gun and his wallet during the attack, police said.
This story illustrates the silliness of situational awareness as a self-defense tool. The pro-gun fantasy-dwellers are always talking about it. They imagine themselves to be like Arnold in The Terminator, scanning the area for trouble before it even happens.

The truth is, sudden and unexpected attacks leave the concealed carry permit holder as unprepared as the proverbial hippie-chick, skipping down the street tripping on acid.

The down side is all these gun owners are adding to the problem.  Their guns are sometimes stolen, surely more than we know about because no one would want to report such an embarrassing incident.  Other times, because they think they're able to read situations so well, they come out with their gun unnecessarily.  Many of these go unreported too, for obvious reasons.

And, of course we have the crimes committed by concealed carry holders, many of which go undetected as such, especially when the object of their attention flees or ends up dead.

What's your opinion?  On the whole, does concealed carry do more good than harm? What do you think?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Yep. A study found that carrying a concealed gun INCREASES your chance of being shot by 4.5 times. You aren't likely to recover from an ambush, you're emboldened to face peril rather than run away, and the sight of the gun escalates the situation. This guy is lucky he wasn't killed!

    1. Studies found, studies found--of course, you never tell us which studies those are. Afraid that we'll look into them?

    2. I'm calling BULLSHIT. There is no such study, at least not by a legitimate source. If it exists anywhere outside of Baldr's imagination it is probably some laughable creation by VPC or some Joyce Foundation backed nonsense.

    3. Really? Criminals want an easy score. An armed citizen is not an easy score. If resisting is a bad idea, why is it now that every women's advocacy group tells women to fight as viciously as possible if attacked? Why do those groups tell women they are much less likely to be seriously injured, raped, or killed if they fight back? So are you going to say that it is better to fight back with finger nails than a firearm? Give me a break.

      Aside from this, I believe we all have a civic duty to resist criminals. Just being passive and giving them what they want enables them and emboldens them. The only "language" that criminals understand is violence. If/when a criminal attacks me, I am going to escalate the violence until the criminal decides the attack is too costly and breaks-off.

      Criminals are simply bullies. The only thing that stops a bully is when a couple people beat the living sh#t out of them.

    4. Ahh, the "4.5x more likely" Penn study. I love it when epidemiologists play gun safety experts, using case-control methodology where it's completely inappropriate.

      Not to mention their tiny, geographically limited sample and low power of the study design.

    5. You are referring to the University of Pennsylvania study. They reviewed police records on 3000+ Philadelphia shootings from 2003-2006. They then focused on 677 of the 3000+ as the "case group."

      But 75% of murder victims in Philly had a criminal record, and I doubt very much that the proportion of shooting victims will show a significantly different makeup. So at least in Philly, it's highly likely that any given shooting victim is involved in illegal activity. It seems fair to assume that criminals in Philadelphia are A) more likely than noncriminals to be armed, and B) more likely than noncriminals to be shot.

      Furthermore, studies that compare cases with controls were designed to look at things like cancer, and are not traditionally applied to violence. The foundation of a case control study is the sense that those who are the cases are exactly the same as those who are in the control group; assuming the people who were shot were no more likely to have guns than a group of controls of the same gender and racial mix. But the researcher even admits that they "did not account for the potential of reverse causation between gun possession and gun assault"—that is, the possibility that a high risk of being shot "causes" gun ownership, as opposed to the other way around.

      It's also highly unlikely that those who were shot while carrying firearms were legal CCW permit holders (the study did not control for licensed/legal carrying by either the shooter or the injured party). That is to say, it's very inaccurate to extrapolate that data to draw a conclusion about how likely it is for your average concealed carry permit holder or someone not involved in illegal activity to be shot—the conclusion of the "study" does not hold up at all.

    6. Guav- your write up is so convincing and coherent that it will surely be ignored or deleted by Italian Mike.

    7. In all fairness, it was directed at Baldr and not Mike, but yes, simply ignoring convincing and coherent comments and pretending they did not occur is normal for both of them.

    8. Here's the citation for that study, for those who accuse me of making up the reference:
      Charles Branas, et al., "Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault," American Journal of Public Health, Nov. 2009

      Here is a link to the full text of the research paper:

      You can see their criteria for choosing cases in the Methods section and at the beginning of the Results section. You can also see what control groups they used, which are necessary for any scientific analysis of any sort.

      As to Guav's (and others') concern that criminals and non-permit holders were used in the study: It doesn't matter. Whether you have a permit or whether you are engaged in an illegal activity doesn't change the chances that you are at an elevated risk of being shot because you possess a gun at the time of an assault (If anything, I would say that if you were engaged in an illegal activity at the time you would be more vigilant and therefore *less* likely to be ambushed and shot).

      But feel free to find a study that controls for illegal activity. I would be very interested in seeing the results. My guess is it would be much the same.

      (I'm disappointed in your last comment, Guav. I thought you had more respect than that.)

    9. "As to Guav's (and others') concern that criminals and non-permit holders were used in the study: It doesn't matter."

      Of course it matters. Most homicide victims have criminal records and often engage in illegal activity with other criminals and operate in circles where criminal acts are committed—and, apparently, this has a significant effect on their mortality and raises the likelihood that they might be shot. Fact: most of the people shot and killed in Philly have criminal records. Therefore, it's likely that most of the people shot and not killed in Philly also have criminal records. It then follows that most of the people used in the study were likely people with criminal records frequently engaged in criminal activity and it's unlikely that they were legal gun owners and did not have CCW permits.

      So all the study shows in that case is that people who are engaged in criminal activity that carry guns have a high likelihood of being shot. I do not find this surprising, as people who lead a dangerous lifestyle with a likelihood of being shot often arm themselves. Once again, Branas admits that they "did not account for the potential of reverse causation between gun possession and gun assault"—that is, the possibility that a high risk of being shot "causes" gun ownership, as opposed to the other way around.

      It tells us nothing about whether or not people who have concealed carry permits—people who follow the law and are generally not engaged in criminal activity—are more likely to be be shot than similar people who don't carry a firearm. The fact that a drug dealer in Philly who carries a stolen gun and engages in criminal activity has a high likelihood of being shot in no way can be used to say that I have a similar risk of being shot just because I have a CCW and carry a firearm (I don't, I just mean this hypothetically).

      The only way to make a valid study of this sort would be to take two randomly sampled groups, give one of them firearms and the other one not, and then see if one of the groups winds up being shot more often. There would obviously be problems with a conducting a study of that sort, but I don't see how we would be able to argue with those results.

    10. "I'm disappointed in your last comment, Guav. I thought you had more respect than that."

      It's not a matter of respect—my intention was not to offend, but to point out what appears to be a simple statement of fact, from my perspective and based on some of my experiences with both of you. Cases in point:

      I once asked you if you would "consider it a victory if we passed restrictive gun control legislation that suddenly halved the firearm suicide rate, even if the overall suicide rate remained constant (people started hanging themselves instead)?" and you replied that "halving the firearm suicide rate would very much reduce successful suicides overall." I provided clear evidence that in the real world, that is simply not the case, with supporting links. You basically just said "I don't see your point," effectively ignoring everything I laid out in front of you and not responding to any of my specifics—which happen to prove your statement wrong.

      Another time you said to me, "You blame the "overwhelming majority" of homicides on gangs and drugs, and say it's a fact that we ignore. Do you actually have stats to back this up? Please link." As you can see, you completely and 100% ignored my reply to your request for supporting links. Just looks like you pretended that I didn't reply, even though your comments were moderated and you must have seen it.

      Mike is no better—eager for someone to acknowledge and respond to the arguments I took no insignificant time putting together—I repeated both of the afore-mentioned arguments with supporting links to him as well. I had to nudge him to reply to the first argument—he was intending on ignoring it completely—and when he replied he didn't acknowledge any of the points I showed him or refute them, and instead just invented a scenario in his head that he thought might be more legitimate than real world experiences—and, like you, he completely ignored the second argument completely.

      That is why I said "simply ignoring convincing and coherent comments and pretending they did not occur is normal for both of them."

      I apologize if you found that insulting in some way …. but do you understand why I might feel that way?

    11. Baldr
      If you can't understand anything else, understand this: the sample of people carrying guns (all six of them) was self selected, and therefore not generalizable. The study is a steaming pile of shit.

    12. Baldr,
      Control groups are not necessary for all study designs. Your exposure to science is limited if you think this to be true.

    13. So, does this mean that Greg and FWM were wrong about there being no such study?

      Of course guys like Guav can criticize it, and the authors could defend it. In the end there must be something to it, no?

      My point in the post is that concealed carry is not a good solution to random violence. It is a good way to feed your fantasy that you're a bad mother fucker and nobody better mess with ya.

    14. I didn't say there was no study. I asked what study he meant. Guav's analysis shows the flaws in the cited study, but since it reached what you regard as a correct conclusion, you don't care about the methodology.

    15. Nice wishy washy nonreply, Miley.

    16. "So, does this mean that Greg and FWM were wrong about there being no such study?"

      FatWhiteMan baselessly accused Bladr of fabricating the study from whole cloth. FWM had no valid reason to accuse Baldr of that, and he was wrong.

      Greg Camp did not claim there was no study, he just wanted to know what study Baldr was referring to, which is entirely reasonable—when we make claims, you and Baldr (correctly) ask us to cite our sources or provide supporting links (Of course, you then completely ignore the information we provide, but that's beside the point).

      Gun control supporters are very fond of throwing around "facts" like people who carry guns are 4.5 times more likely to be shot or a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a family member than an intruder and stuff like that. But upon closer inspection, these studies are frequently fraught with serious methodological problems which call into question the accuracy of the soundbites they generate. So whenever we hear a gun control supporter repeat some "statistic" like that, we want to know where it came from—that's what Greg Camp asked.

      "Of course guys like Guav can criticize it, and the authors could defend it. In the end there must be something to it, no?"

      No, there "must" not be something to it. They may be, but there must not be something to it.

      Yes, I criticize the methodology and do not see how the conclusion based on those results can be extrapolated to people who carry firearms in general—the majority of whom are not involved in the criminal lifestyle. But I'm not the only one who has a problem with it—many statisticians called this conclusion a stretch, and said you can't reach such sweeping conclusions with this kind of study.

      And Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago—you might recognize his name, he's on your side—said of the study, "They can't tease out whether guns are contributing to assault or assault risk is contributing to gun ownership."

      It's like noting that possessing a parachute is strongly associated with being injured while jumping from a plane, then concluding that skydivers would be better off without parachutes.

      "My point in the post is that concealed carry is not a good solution to random violence."

      In some cases it is, in some cases it is not. Nobody has ever claimed that carrying a gun is a guarantee that you will never be harmed, and if anyone ever has, they are an idiot. But people successfully use firearms in self defense every day—this single example does not render their experiences irrelevant—and the vast majority of people who carry guns never have to use them at all, and they are not shot either, which leads me to believe that carrying a firearm is, at worst, completely benign.

    17. Guav, it's good to hear more rational voices on this site. Mikeb expects us to be perfect in every way. No carry license holder may ever make an error or do something wrong. No licensee may ever have a momentary lapse of attention. And so forth. The fact that our record as a whole is as near to perfect as human beings are ever likely to get doesn't matter to him.

    18. Keep telling yourself that, Greg.

      "our record as a whole is as near to perfect as human beings are ever likely to get"

      It's nothing like that, but you just keep repeating it, man. Repetition trumps honesty on the internet.

    19. And I've shown you evidence, but you ignore that. What's your reason for saying that I'm wrong? It's not good enough that you feel my claim to be wrong. You have to provide proof. Where's your proof?

    20. You've provided proof? Don't make me laugh. In the same thread that you mocked Baldr for referring to "studies," you say something like that?

    21. Yes, I've provided proof many times in the past. The Violence Policy Center has looked into the question of how many carry license holders commit crimes with their guns. Can we agree that said organization is against carrying handguns? Can we agree that their motivation is to discredit as many of us as it can? Their study then provides the worst case number. They cite a tiny fraction of one percent of license holders as criminals.

      And I didn't mock the Oregonian. I asked him to specify what studies he meant.

    22. Greg, you can't tell a straight story if you want to. The VPC numbers are not comprehensive, they themselves describe the difficulty in getting the information.

      Plus they're dealing with DEATHS. The offenses of concealed carry holders go far beyond that.

  2. Mikeb, you were doing all right in your first two paragraphs, but then you went agleigh. Situational awareness is one element of effective self defense, as this news article illustrates.

    Why you couldn't leave it there and make sense is beyond me.

  3. The article does not indicate to what extent the victim was aware of his surroundings ... or the victim's level of physical fitness. Maybe the victim was elderly.

    The most important factor during an attack is the will to instantly and viciously fight back no matter how hurt we are. Since law enforcement will arrest us for walking around with a firearm in hand, we have to be ready to "push back" initially without a firearm. That "push back" could be keeping distance from unknown people. Or it could be clocking an attacker and immediately backing up to create space.

    Another good solution is walking with a cane. Since it is already in hand, you can strike someone almost instantly if they attack. If that didn't discourage the attacker sufficiently, then it would be a good time to draw a handgun.

  4. According to Mikeb anti self-defense logic we should all be good victims and give criminals whatever they want. Arming ourselves is bad and surrender is good? Really starting to sound like you are playing for the criminals Mike.

    1. No, Scott, that's not it at all. But when you tough-guys who carry guns try to tell us how much better off you are, I call it bullshit. This story illustrates that.

    2. We're smart enough to know that life isn't defined by exceptions. This is one example of someone who let his attention slip. That is a lesson to us all, but it's not the way everyone of us is.

      You would see one albino crow and conclude that all crows are white. That's called a hasty generalization. It's a source of prejudice and racism. Look to the log in your own eye, Mikeb.

    3. This is one of many examples. Enough in fact that it's may be the rule. In order to avoid things like this, you'd have to have you hand on the gun at all times and come out with it ten times a day.

    4. Mike, there are 6 million concealed carry permit holders in the US.

      Even if you were to show us "many" examples of where someone carrying concealed had their firearm taken from them and used against them, that would hardly make it anywhere remotely near "the rule."

      Unless you have absolutely no idea what "the rule" means.

    5. Guav, the rule I'm talking about is the one that says a concealed carry weapon WILL NOT HELP in a pinch. You know god damned well I wasn't limiting my "rule" to concealed carry guys who have their gun taken from them.

      Your blatant dishonesty in that comment says it all about your side of the argument. If there were any substance to your claims you wouldn't have to stoop to such low tricks.

    6. "You know god damned well I wasn't limiting my "rule" to concealed carry guys who have their gun taken from them."

      No, I god damned well didn't—Greg was referencing the story you posted, and said that life isn't defined by exceptions, "This is one example of someone who let his attention slip."

      You replied "This is one of many examples. Enough in fact that it's may be the rule."

      I'll take your word for it that you meant something different, but in that case, you worded your reply poorly, and I believe anyone reading it would assume—as I did—that you were talking about this specific situation and not concealed carry in general.

      Don't accuse me being dishonest and "low tricks" because you failed to convey your thoughts clearly. I'm not a mind reader.

    7. That's fair enough.

      Now that I've made myself clear, what's your response.

      "the rule I'm talking about is the one that says a concealed carry weapon WILL NOT HELP in a pinch."

    8. I think we've agreed that situations where the permit holder's weapon is taken from them and used against them is exceptionally rare, so what we're left with is a worst case scenario of the weapon being of zero use in defending against an attack, and a best case scenario of it being useful in defending against the attack. Since NOT carrying a firearm automatically results in the afore-mentioned worst case scenario, then it seems to me like carry a firearm can only improve your chances of successful self-defense, while not making them any worse than simply not carrying at all.

      I have been in several self-defense situations in my life, and although I do not carry or own a handgun, I was able to employ non-firearm means effectively and as a result I was not beaten up (or worse) by multiple youths and I was not mugged (or worse) by two large gentlemen.

      There was no guarantee that carrying pepper gas or a knife WOULD DEFINITELY help me in a pinch, but it would have been absurd to claim that they WILL NOT HELP in a pinch. Since I escaped completely unscathed from both situations, you cannot make a compelling case that it would have been better if I had been unarmed. I can guarantee you, from firsthand experience, that being armed saved my property, saved me one or two trips to the hospital, and may have saved my life.

      I don't see why it matters whether we are talking about defense spray, knives, kubotan keychain, handgun, brass knuckles, machete or anything else—a concealed weapon is a concealed weapon. It may or may not help you—there are no guarantees.

      I'll take my chances with, and you can take your chances without. I support your right to make that choice for yourself.