Have You Ever Been …

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(Not my picture. Origin unknown.)
To their credit, notice the trigger fingers of these two officers. They’re doing it right. Bravo!

Have you ever been in a place where the Police were carrying like this?

I have.

It was in the Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris where I was changing planes on my way from elsewhere to another elsewhere.

Trust me, seeing those automatic weapons in the midst of a crowd does not make you feel safe. It makes you realize how vulnerable you are.

Part One

You immediately realize that there must be bad folks about who would perpetrate terrible crimes, and that the Police know they must be stopped in extremely rapid fashion before they can do so.

The bad guys know this, too. They know that, if they don’t strike hard and fast, the Police will stop them before they can do whatever it is they intend to do.

So the bad guys, and I mean the really bad guys, come prepared. They know what to expect. And they strike with no warning, and to maximum effect. They want the shock, the horror, the terror.

Armed Police, like you see in the picture above, do not make the environment safe. Instead, they raise the stakes. While it is true that some bad guys will go elsewhere, it’s also true that the ones who are really determined, who are more of the terrorist rather than burglar inclination, will simply increase their fire power, protection and intensity to the same degree that the Police increase theirs.

It is the intensity the bad guys are after. It increases the terror. That’s what they want.

Part Two

For those who’ve never fired something like what you see here, I will offer a couple of first-hand observations.

When fired from the hip (without visually lining up the sights), the first bullet is unlikely to hit the bad guy. And even with the sights lined up and the bad guy in the proverbial cross-hairs, depending on the distance between officer and bad guy, hitting them with a single shot is questionable.

Yes, there are trained snipers who can do that from hundreds of yards, but that’s a rare skill. Departments will want those individuals in reserve, in the SWAT units where they can be called up and sent to take out a bad guy once he’s made his presence known.

These cops, walking the street, aren’t going to be snipers.

When they shoot, they won’t be that accurate.

That’s why the firearm has a setting that shoots multiple rounds — often three — for each pull of the trigger. Pull the trigger once and, “Bang, bang, bang” you get three bullets coming out of the muzzle.

Second, note that if all three rounds went to the same impact point, you’d really only need one.

But they *don’t* all go to the same impact point. That’s why it shoots several times with one pull of the trigger. Recoil moves the gun and the next shot goes “nearby”.

No one can hold an automatic weapon still enough to put all the rounds into a single hole. No one can.

Are you near the bad guy?

How near?

In full auto, the gun shoots for as long as the trigger is held and the ammo holds out. With the full-auto weapons I’ve (rarely) fired at the pay-as-you-shoot rental gun range, keeping the muzzle under control is a very significant issue. You will *not* see a single hole in the target from all those rounds. Instead, you’ll probably see a line of holes, usually climbing up and to the left. That’s where the recoil will push it and, depending on the shooter’s ability, those holes will be an inch to several inches apart.

The only time I can afford such “spray” practice is when someone else, such as a company manager taking his employees out for “team building”, is paying. Shooting up $100 of ammunition in not much more than a minute or two.

Oh, all right, I confess: If it’s 22 caliber and super cheap, it’ll take ten minutes.

Regardless, $100 is $100 and, in full-auto, it goes fast. I know very few who can afford ($) to learn how to keep that muzzle under control when firing full auto. It just takes way too long and burns up a terrific amount of ammunition.

(A little math. Let’s say you have don’t have a full-auto weapon. Let’s say you just have a one-pull, one-bang assault rifle. Realistically, you can probably keep up a sustained fire of one round per second — two if you push it but I mean “sustained” over a long period of time. Ammunition is half-a-buck or more per round so, in a minute, you’ll shoot $30 worth of ammunition and, in three, you’ll be darn close to that $100 mark. Three minutes is all it takes, and that’s firing just one bullet per trigger pull.)

Practice is expensive.

Nonetheless, good shooters — with expensive practice — can indeed learn to control their firearms in full-auto. The “spray” will be, depending on the distance between shooter and aiming point, a couple of feet in diameter but the firearm will be “under control”.

How big is the bad guy? A couple of feet in diameter?

Less? More?

Are you behind the bad guy?

How big is the cloud of bullets going toward him?

A couple of feet, more or less?

And please do realize that if he’s really so bad that the Police need to openly carry fully automatic firearms to stop him, then they are almost certainly going to shoot and, thus, stop the bad guy from setting off a bomb or whatever terrible thing he was intending. With his thumb pressing down on the detonator switch, the Police are unlikely to wait for him to move to a location with a concrete wall behind him. (If you’re on the other side of a normal wall made of sheet rock held up by 2x4s, you have no protection and the Police won’t know you are there.)

Part Three

With all due respect for the training, risks and downright awful things LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) deal with on a daily basis, the reality is that “proficiency” with a firearm is not the same as “perfection”. They train enough to demonstrate proficiency. (Some go well beyond that, but not all, nor even most have the time or the money to do so.)

And again I’ll say “with all due respect,” I shoot a sport called Bullseye (officially it is Conventional Pistol and you’ll find the rules, etc. at the NRA website for which you can Google) and some of the competitors I see and shoot with are Police officers. And they’re good, but not that good.

Police work is a whole lot more than shooting guns. I dare say the average cop’s day may not see him or her drawing a weapon much less discharging it. They have a ton of other things to do. Their training involves hundreds of topics of which, only one, is hitting the target.

Many of the cops I know that shoot Bullseye are retired, and they are quite good at the sport. I think that may be because, in retirement, they have the time it takes to practice and become good.

But most LEOs simply don’t have the time to practice enough to become really good with a firearm. It’s a special skill. It takes work and time to get there. And, with jurisdictions all over the country short of money, their departments can’t afford the ammunition. (Please think before saying, “They could buy their own.” See comments above re $100.)

The simple fact is that most LEOs are competent with their firearms, but they don’t always hit what they intend to hit. [You can insert dozens of stories here about LEOs, under pressure in a fire fight, having difficulty hitting the bad guy.]

So, where do those extra bullets go that don’t hit (and stay in) the bad guy?

Semi-Bottom Line

If you’re in a place — let’s say, the areas around the London Olympics these next few days — and you see law enforcement officers carrying firearms like these, then you should be uneasy. You should be very uneasy.

You are in an area targeted by bad guys.

You are in an area where the Police will shoot a great many rounds in a very small amount of time to try (!) and stop them.

And the great majority of their bullets will not, I repeat, will not strike the bad guys.

Sorry but that’s just a fact.

Safer With No Guns?

Does that mean you’re in a safe place if the security guard at the movie theater is unarmed?

I presume you read the newspapers or watched TV news recently and know, therefore, that the “security” at the CineMark theater in that Denver suburb was thusly unencumbered.

The “security” he was providing was to stop theater hopping, not bad guys.

Unarmed security won’t — not can’t — won’t protect you.

He won’t because he knows he can’t.

The Real Bottom Line

One: If you see Police carrying assault rifles, you’re in an extremely dangerous area.

Suggestion: Leave as soon as possible.

Two: If you see that the movie theater security guy is not carrying a firearm, then you are also in a dangerous area — because the bad guys know he is unarmed and unable to stop them.

Suggestion: Leave and go somewhere safer.

Three: If you are in a place where security is armed and many of the patrons are wearing holsters with firearms, you are probably at an NRA convention. (Joke!)

But seriously, if the people around you are armed, you are probably in a place where the run-of-the-mill bad guys typically won’t go.

Terrorists look for busy places where they can quickly strike and do maximum damage in a small amount of time. They will come prepared with lots of fire power and strength, just like the Police.

In more mundane circumstances such as the neighborhood movie theater, the crazies will also strike hard and fast and, finding no resistance, they will keep on firing, change weapons when one jams, and have lots of ammunition to go through at their leisure.

In those same circumstances, however, where they are likely to meet an armed resistance, they will pick an easier target. Their goal is to shoot a lot but if they know they are likely to meet armed resistance, they’ll go somewhere else.

In places where either security or other patrons are likely to be armed, what you will have to answer for yourself is whether or not you trust those who are carrying weapons.

You’ll have to decide that for yourself.

I shoot and I know a great many who do the same. We stand side by side in a line at the gun range and, simultaneously, load and fire. I trust those other shooters. I’ve learned that even though they all have loaded weapons and that, indeed, they are going to shoot, they are doing so in a responsible manner.

They understand the dangers. They know the limitations. They know what they can and cannot do.

So, yes, if someone is carrying a handgun, concealed or openly carrying, I do trust them. And I do so for several more reasons.

First, they’ve invested several hundred dollars to purchase the firearm. Bad guys do this too. Both have made a choice to prioritize where their money is spent, and they’ve chosen to make a firearm a high priority.

Second, I have no doubt they’re fired it and learned that it’s not easy to hit what they intend. Bad guys also learn this. They all know that, to hit what you intend, you’ve got to practice and be very intentional about what you are doing. That means they are determined.

And third, they know that others around them are also likely to be armed … if the venue allows it. And the bad guys know this too.

Bad guys can go where people may be armed and fight back, or they can go to a place that says firearms are not permitted. In such places, the bad guys will know they are much less likely to be stopped, and if they are resisted, if they show or use their firearm, no one is likely to fire back. They will get what they want.

So they choose places with easy victims, not hard ones.

Closing Tip

Being shot hurts. Bad guys have feelings. They don’t like to get shot. So they go places and choose victims so they are unlikely to be shot.

Wolves don’t attack lions; wolves attack sheep.

The tip? If you find yourself in a flock of sheep, you are not in a safe place.

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