Monday, December 7, 2015

How Many Mass Shootings?

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved

Context is a funny thing, without it anything can mean anything.  Mass shootings are, of course, horrible and this should be an area where people strive particularly to provide context but unfortunately this isn’t the case.  Instead people use these situations to further their own agendas.

There is this statistic going around, I’ve seen it in a few articles and all over Facebook, that so far in 2015 there have been 355 mass shootings.  That number was even given in an article ran in the Washington Post.  While most people read that and freaked out I, and others, read that and thought “bullshit.”  There have not been 355 mass shootings in the US this year; that is ridiculous.

Luckily others thought so too and found out where this statistic came from.  This statistic comes from a website run by, you guessed it, gun control advocates.  How did this group arrive at the number 355?  It seems that they did it by using their own definition of “mass shooting” to inflate the numbers.  The founder of the “shooting tracker” project, who calls himself “Billy Speed”, was quoted in an interview saying, “Three years ago I decided, all by myself, to change the United States’ definition of mass shooting.”

I have always found that whenever there is a big misunderstanding that just won’t go away often, at the core of the issue, is simple semantics.  Many people have their own definition of what a mass shooting is and this isn’t helping anyone.

The FBI defined a mass shooting as a single shooting event in which 4 or more people were killed.  In 2013 they lowered their definition to incidents where 3 or more people were killed.

Here is where context is so important; when I say “mass shooting” you naturally think of some whack job grabbing a bunch of guns and shooting up a mall, school, church, restaurant, theater, or another public place while dozens to perhaps hundreds of people hide or run for their lives.  That is what I think of too and that really is what we are all concerned about.  However, that hasn’t happened 355 times this year.

What we have to remember when looking at statics about violence is that America is actually a pretty safe place and the lion’s share of all the violence reported on in these statics is actually gang on gang violence that occurs in select small pockets of bad neighborhoods in some of our biggest cities.  If you hear a story that 5 people were killed in a shooting spree you’re probably picturing 5 innocent law abiding citizens like yourself being gunned down by a criminal, however, chances are if you looked into the story a little more chances are the shooting happened in a bad neighborhood in a big city and it was one gang shooting another gang, probably over drugs.

I’ve always liked and they been keeping a database on mass shootings that goes back to 1982.  However, theirs filters out the white noise, so to speak, so we can see the real problem. Their data base looked at instances where 4 or more people were killed but they removed cases of gang on gang violence, domestic violence situations that occurred in a private residence, and cases of armed robbery.  After these things were removed what was left was just instances of what you think a mass shooting should be: some asshole shooting up a public place.

So, how many times has some asshole shot up a public place this year?  4 times.  There have only been 73 true mass shootings in the US since 1982 (which is still too many).  In those last 33 years there has only been 502 people killed in mass shootings, a number that sounds large but when put in context it really isn’t.  Over the last 33 years 15 people have died, on average, by being caught in a mass shooting each year while 52 people die each year from lightning strikes. 

You are nearly 4 times more likely to be killed in a lightning strike than in a mass shooting.  What are your chances of dying in a lightning strike?  I looked it up and according to the National Center for Health Statistics it is: 1 in 89,930.

Below I’ve taken information from Mother Jone’s database to list every single mass shooting since 1982 that meets our criteria.

Note: Other public shooting attacks, such as the rampage at Fort Hood in April 2014, another in Isla Vista, California in May 2014, and another on a bridge in Wisconsin in May 2015, have not been included because there were fewer than four victims shot to death in each of those cases.

6/17/2015, Charleston Church Shooting, Charleston, South Carolina, 9 killed, 1 injured
7/16/2015, Attack on military sites, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 4 killed, 3 wounded
10/1/2015, Umpquah Community College shooting, Roseburg, Oregon, 9 killed, 9 injured.
12/2/2015, San Bernardino Shooting, San Bernardino, Calif, 14 killed, 21 injured

10/24/2014, Marysville-Pilchuck High Schoolshooting, Marysville, Washington, 5 killed, 1 injured
2/20/2014, Alturas tribal shooting, Alturas, California, 4 killed, 2 injured

4/21/2013, Pinewood Village Apartment shooting, Federal Way, Washington, 5 killed
6/7/2013, Santa Monica rampage, Santa Monica, California, 6 killed, 3 injured
9/16/2013, Washington Navy Yard shooting, Washington, D.C., 13 killed, 8 injured

2/22/2012, Su Jung Health Sauna shooting, Norcross, Georgia, 5 killed
7/20/2012, Aurora theater shooting, Aurora, Colorado, 12 killed, 58 injured
8/5/2012, Sikh temple shooting, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, 7 killed, 3 injured

10/14/2011, Seal Beach shooting, Seal Beach, California, 8 killed, 1 injured
9/6/2011, IHOP shooting, Carson City, Nevada, 5 killed, 7 injured
1/8/2011, Tucson shooting, Tucson, Arizona, 6 killed 13 injured

8/3/2010, Hartford Beer Distributor shooting, Manchester, Connecticut, 9 killed, 2 injured

3/29/2009, Carthage nursing home shooting, Carthage, North Carolina, 8 killed, 3 injured
4/3/2009, Binghamton shootings, Binghamton, New York, 14 killed, 4 injured
11/5/2009, Fort Hood massacre, Fort Hood, Texas, 13 killed, 30 injured
11/29/2009, Coffee shop police killings, Parkland, Washington, 4 killed, 1 injured.

2/7/2008, Kirkwood City Council shooting, Kirkwood, Missouri, 6 killed, 2 injured
 2/14/2008, Northern Illinois University shooting, DeKalb, Illinois, 6 killed, 21 injured
6/25/2008, Atlantis Plastics shooting, Henderson, Kentucky, 6 killed, 1 injured

2/12/2007, Trolley Square shooting, Salt Lake City, Utah, 6 killed, 4 injured
4/16/2007, Virginia Tech massacre, Blacksburg, Virginia, 33 killed, 23 injured
10/7/2007, Crandon shooting, Crandon, Wisconsin, 6 killed, 1 injured
12/5/2007, Westroads Mall shooting, Omaha, Nebraska, 9 killed, 4 injured

1/30/2006, Goleta postal shootings, Goleta, California, 8 killed
10/2/2006, Amish school shooting, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 6 killed, 5 injured

3/12/2005, Living Church of God shooting, Brookfield, Wisconsin, 7 killed, 4 injured
3/21/2005, Red Lake massacre, Red Lake, Minnesota, 10 killed, 5 injured

12/8/2004, Damageplan show shooting, Columbus, Ohio, 5 killed, 7 injured

7/8/2003, Lockheed Martin shooting, Meridian, Mississippi, 7 killed, 8 injured

2/5/2001, Navistar shooting, Melrose Park, Illinois, 5 killed, 4 injured

12/26/2000, Wakefield massacre, Wakefield, Massachusetts, 7 killed

4/20/1999, Columbine High School massacre, Littleton, Colorado, 15 killed, 24 injured
7/29/1999, Atlanta day trading spree killings, Atlanta, Georgia, 9 killed, 13 injured
9/15/1999, Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting, Fort Worth, Texas, 8 killed, 7 injured
12/30/1999, Hotel shooting, Tampa, Florida, 5 killed, 3 injured

6/20/1994: Air Force base shooting, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, 5 killed, 23 injured.

3/6/1998, Connecticut Lottery shooting, Newington, Connecticut, 5 killed, 1 injured
3/24/1998, Westside Middle School killings, Jonesboro, Arkansas, 5 killed, 10 injured
5/21/1998, Thurston High School shooting, Springfield, Oregon, 4 killed, 25 injured

9/15/1997, R.E. Phelon Company shooting, Aiken, South Carolina, 4 killed, 3 injured
12/18/1997, Caltrans maintenance yard shooting, Orange, California, 5 killed, 2 injured

7/1/1993, 101 California Street shootings, San Francisco, California, 9 killed, 6 injured
8/6/1993, Luigi's shooting, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 4 killed, 8 injured
12/7/1993, Long Island Rail Road massacre, Garden City, New York, 6 killed, 19 injured
12/14/1993, Chuck E. Cheese's killings, Aurora, Colorado, 4 killed, 1 injured

5/1/1992, Lindhurst High School shooting, Olivehurst, California, 4 killed, 10 injured
10/15/1992, Watkins Glen killings, Watkins Glen, New York, 5 killed

10/16/1991, Luby's massacre, Killeen, Texas, 24 killed, 20 injured
11/1/1991, University of Iowa shooting, Iowa City, Iowa, 6 killed, 1 injured
11/14/1991, ,Royal Oak postal shootings, Royal Oak, Michigan, 5 killed, 5 injured

6/18/1990, GMAC massacre, Jacksonville, Florida, 10 killed, 4 injured

1/17/1989, Stockton schoolyard shooting, Stockton, California, 6 killed, 29 injured
9/14/1989, Standard Gravure shooting, Louisville, Kentucky, 9 killed, 12 injured

2/16/1988, ESL shooting, Sunnyvale, California, 7 killed, 4 injured

4/23/1987, Shopping centers spree killings, Palm Bay, Florida, 6 killed, 14 injured

8/20/1986, United States Postal Service shooting, Edmond, Oklahoma, 15 killed, 6 injured

7/18/1984, San Ysidro McDonald's massacre, San Ysidro, California, 22 killed, 19 injured

8/20/1982, Welding shop shooting, Miami, Florida, 8 killed, 3 injured

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Become An Instant Super-Spy With These Three Top Secret Techniques!

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved

Ok, no, you won’t be a super spy after reading this but these three techniques, which are little-known outside of the military/intelligence/security/law enforcement community, but you’ll find that they are actually very useful in your everyday life.  I learned these three things during counter-terrorism training and I use them quite often. 

I’ve learned some pretty interesting stuff in my life, some in the military and some out, but it is really interesting how often things taught in the military or intelligence community are useful in regular life.  There are so many things that just aren’t taught to the general public it really is a shame.

So, without further ado, I’ll go over how to see without your glasses, how to make hard decisions in a hurry, and how to tell when someone is lying to you (with about 80% accuracy).

Super Spy Secret #1: Let’s say you misplace your glasses but you still need to see something like a license plate number of a car that is leaving the scene of an accident.  All you have to do is curl your index finger in and place your thumb overtop of it, sort of like you’re making the “OK” sign with your hand but make sure no light is visible when you look at your index finger.  Now hold your hand up to you eye and open your index finger just enough so a very small pinhole of light appears and look though that tiny hole at what you’re trying to see and you’ll find that you can magically see it clearly!  Try it by trying to read type at a distance and play around with the distance your hand is from your eye and size of the pin hone.  You’ll notice that the smaller the hole you look through the more focused the image is.

This works not by focusing light but rather by blocking out unnecessary light leaving only the light that goes straight into your eye from the image to get through.  I once had a friend who only wore glasses for watching TV and one day the he stepped on his glasses breaking both lenses.  He was quite upset having to watch blurry TV until his new lenses came in so I took two index cards and put tiny pin holes in each one and taped them to his glasses.  After moving them around to get them just right, he found he could see well enough through those little pin holes where he could watch TV in focus until he got his replacement lenses.

Super Spy Secret #2: Let’s say you have an important decision to make and you don’t know what the right answer is.  Your subconscious mind, being far more observant and intelligent than your conscious mind, probably does know what the right answer is, but the trick is getting the answer from your subconscious.

Here is a little trick taught to everyone from secret agents to Navy SEAL’s; stop what you’re doing and take a few seconds to relax.  Take one or two seconds to loosen your body and shake any tension out.  Then take at least three or four deep breaths (the more the better) while you concentrate on what it feels like to breathe.  Doing this should make you more relaxed and take your attention off your problem.  Now, take one more seconds to shake it out again.  Finally, say to yourself, “I don’t know what the answer is.  But…if I did know what the answer is what would it be?  It would be…”  And just go with whatever your next thought is and let it pop into your head.   If you’re asking the question to someone else it would go, “You don’t know what the answer is, right?  But, if you did know what the answer is what would it be?”

Most people find the answer just jumps into their minds.  The answer that does just in comes right from your own subconscious mind and is based on all the different pieces of information that you took in but your conscious mind didn’t pick up.  Maybe you want to decide if you should go somewhere; well earlier that day the TV was on and the weatherman gave his forecast for today but you were too busy doing something else to pay attention.  However, even though your conscious mind didn’t pay attention your subconscious took everything in.  Your subconscious mind was paying attention not only when the weather report was on but also when you were on the elevator at work yesterday talking to a co-worker and unbeknownst to you another co-worker standing behind you was talking about when they went to that place last week and what their experience was like.  Your subconscious picks up everything and has a lot more information to base decisions on and its decisions are usually far wiser than those of your conscious mind.

Final Super Spy Secret, how to tell (with about 80% accuracy) if someone is lying to you.  First you need to know if they are right or left handed.  This is usually simple enough and if you don’t know I’m sure you can figure it out.  The technique is when they’re talking simply ask them a question about a detail of what they’re talking about and see what way their eyes move.  If they’re eyes move toward their dominant side they are probably lying while if they move toward their non-dominant side they are probably telling the truth.

The way this works is that your eyes tend to move in certain directions depending on what parts of your brain you are accessing at that time.  If you are right handed then the left side of your brain would be used to recall memories while the right side would be used for engaging in creativity (making things up).  So if you’re right handed and you’re telling me you’re late for work because you got stuck behind a slow driver I could ask you what color the car was and if you look towards your left I can assume you’re accessing your memory to get the answer, while if you looked towards your right I can assume you are accessing your creativity to come up with a lie.

There are several factors that can make this not work so it should be tested with a follow up technique but it is a fairly accurate indicator. 

So there you go…three super spy secret techniques they don’t teach in them fancy book-learning schools.  You are now like a less cooler version of James Bond with no sexy gadgets and less gonorrhea.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gun Disarms: It’s Not Over Just Because You Said Its Over

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved

In the realm of martial arts gun disarming is probably my favorite thing to practice.  This being so I train a lot with disarms and I try to keep up with anything I can get my hands on; I read pretty much any article I can find, I watch a lot of instructional videos online, and I’ve spent a good deal of money to learn from experts.  However, the more I look the less I tend to see.

When I look around I tend to see the same old information spouted by every expert and most all teach the same way.  There is a lot of poor information out there and I want to touch on just a few of the things that I see as lacking during this type of instruction.

An important lesson that I learned many years ago came from a defensive shooting instructor who gave me some lessons in his backyard shooting range.  As we shot I started looking at how the weapons operated when we fired them and I couldn’t help but think back to the disarming techniques I practiced.  Finally, I brought the subject up and we discussed it at length.  One thing I’m convinced of is that most instructors spend so much time training with plastic, rubber, wooden, or inert firearms that they forget that if the gun goes off when you’re disarming your attacker your hands are going to be right next to an explosion being contained in a moving weapon. 

Ever since that day I teach all my students to never grab the gun.  If someone shoves a semiautomatic handgun in your face and you manage to grab a hold of it then you might be able to pin the slide and keep it from firing, and if it does fire while your hand encircles it you may in fact be able to maintain your grip and control of the weapon.  However, if they shove a revolver in your face and you grab around it and it goes off you won’t be able to hold onto it.  The force of the blast and the gases escaping from the cylinder will blow your grip off, burn your hand, and could even blow the tips of your fingers off.  We experimented with both a .38 and a .357 by placing gloves over the weapon and then grabbing around the gloves and it didn’t matter how we grabbed we could not hold onto the gun while it went off.   We suffered burns and we both experienced pain in our hands for days.  Since you need to react fast during a violent situation, you have to assume the gun will go off, and you won’t be able to maintain your grip on a revolver I believe it is best to make it a rule not to wrap your hands around any handgun.

Another important lesson I learned from a corrections officer who insisted I spend as much time as I could online watching security camera videos of real crimes being committed.  As a result of that I no longer do my handgun training by just standing there with my arm stretched out and trying to shoot my partner before he moves.  Sure, you have to do this king of static training to learn the techniques but once you have them down you have to train dynamically, which means you should reenact an actual assault. 

I was training with another instructor years back and he wanted to show me his favorite disarming technique (the one where you slap the gun and his wrist to make the gun fly across the room).  I held the gun out for him several times while he demonstrated and then he asked me to try to shoot him before he moved and sure enough he was so fast he disarmed me every time.  I then asked him if we could go a turn where I acted like a real criminal; after he said he was ready I stepped in between his legs, grabbed him by the throat with my left hand, pressed the gun into his left temple, drove him backwards and screamed “GIVE ME YOUR…(you can probably guess)!”

Needless to say not only was he not able to do the technique but he nearly defecated himself.  Static training where you just stand there is all fine and dandy but a criminal just doesn’t appear out of thin air ready to shoot you if you breathe wrong; something always leads up to it and happens after it.  It also doesn’t teach you to deal with what I call the “Oh Shit Factor” where your brain suddenly falls out your butt when surprised with sudden violence. 

Sure, the criminal may be standing there just holding out the gun and not moving, it happens all the time; but he also might be pushing, punching, choking, or grabbing you with his free hand while he screams and the gun could be held back, shoved right in your eyes, or who knows what else.  The point is after you have the technique down you should simulate a real robbery while you have to do your disarming technique in that fast and dynamic situation.

The last thing I’ll touch on is the one that bothers me the most.  I see this all the time; an instructor demonstrates a technique by having a partner point a gun at him and then then he takes the gun away, maybe he strikes the attacker or maybe not, and then he steps back and points the gun at the attacker…and then calls “scene!”  I just don’t understand how taking the gun away and pointing it back at your attacker is where the scenario stops…you still have a perfectly good attacker who could have other weapons and you have no idea if the gun is even loaded.

The idea that you can take a gun away and turn it on your attacker is very dubious.  90% of people shot in their own homes are shot with their own guns, either because of negligence or because the intruder took the gun away and used it themselves.  If you point his gun back at him and tell him to get down on this stomach maybe he’ll just walk over to you and take his gun back, or maybe he’ll pull out a knife or another gun.

What if the gun isn’t even loaded or functional?  Unfortunately there really aren’t any wide studies done but from what I could find one study showed that out of 85 firearms one midwestern police department seized after they were used to commit a crime during a particular period:

-24 were not loaded
-2 were not loaded with the correct ammunition
-9 were broken and unable to fire

Astonishingly 41% of the weapons used in these crimes were not able to actually shoot anyone. 

What about toy guns?  Many criminals know that in certain areas committing a robbery with a toy gun carries far less severe charges if they were to be caught and they know as long as they act scary enough their victim will comply anyway out of fear. 

Again, real numbers showing how many crimes are committed with toy, or imitation, guns is hard to come by because it is not information that police departments actively collect.  In what little information I could find, the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a report in 1990 called: “Toy Guns Involvement in Crime Encounters with the Police.”  This report concluded that as many as 20% of robberies are committed with “imitations guns” (toy guns, bb guns, etc.).  This study is from 1990 and with more access today the numbers are most likely even higher.

To put everything together, if you disarm a criminal and point their gun back at them with the intention of using it against them, there is as much as a 20% chance that when you pull the trigger you’ll find out it is a squirt gun!  Even if it is a real firearm there is perhaps as much as a 41% chance won’t fire because it is unloaded or broken!

The average criminal is not an expert in firearms.  They have a gun which is often stolen and when they’re not using it to intimidate people it is stuffed down the front of their pants or in their sock drawer.  People that are firearm experts often say, “that makes no sense…I would never put myself in the danger of robbing someone with a gun that won’t fire.”  However, the problem is that they’re thinking like themselves and they’re not a criminal.

A firearm’s expert possesses firearms with the intent to shoot people should the need arise but a criminal possesses their firearm mainly to use to intimidate someone into doing what they want, and that is a big difference.

If I do a technique I don’t stop once I have the gun, rather I take the gun away and go right into the attacker and I only stop once I’m looking at my attacker on the ground and I’m satisfied that he cannot get up to come after me.

The way I teach, and it’s the best method I’ve found so far, is (and this is just one example) that I start a technique with my partner 10-15 feet away from me and he walks up like he is going to walk right by me but just before he passes he suddenly rushes me and grabs my shirt with his left hand and push me back as his right hand points the gun at my face.  He is sudden, aggressive, using loud threatening language, and attempting to be physically dominating.

As all this is happening I move off the line, take the gun away, and then I step deep between his legs while I strike him in the throat with my forearm.  Then I sweep out his foot to take him down, kick him in the groin, stomp on his solar plexus, and then evaluate the situation and scan for other attackers.