Saturday, January 26, 2008

Common Mis-Conceptions on Street Encounters

Having shot with a lot of new CCW permit holders I've noticed that several re-occurring themes seem to alway arise at our monthly events. A while back I read an FBI study:"Violent Encounters: Felonious Assaults on America’s Law Enforcement Officers." It addresses many of these common mis-conceptions.

I'll quote some of my favorite parts of the 5-year study of 43 street felons involved in violent encounters with police offices.

First mis-conception:

1.Those bad men on the street are dis-organized, unpracticed and generally ignorant to "formal handgun training." That 5 shot snubby revolver in my glove box and the CCW permit in my wallet/purse are magic talismans against thugs.

Guess what, WRONG!


New findings on how offenders train with, carry and deploy the weapons they use to attack their victims have emerged in a just-published, 5-year study by the FBI.

Among other things, the data reveal that most would-be cop killers:

--have more experience using deadly force in "street combat" than their intended victims;

--practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately;

--have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger. "If you hesitate," one told the study's researchers, "you're dead. You have the instinct or you don't. If you don't, you're in trouble on the street...."


Several of the offenders began regularly to carry weapons when they were 9 to 12 years old, although the average age was 17 when they first started packing "most of the time." Gang members especially started young.

Nearly 40% of the offenders had some type of formal firearms training, primarily from the military. More than 80% "regularly practiced with handguns, averaging 23 practice sessions a year," the study reports, usually in informal settings like trash dumps, rural woods, back yards and "street corners in known drug-trafficking areas."

One spoke of being motivated to improve his gun skills by his belief that officers "go to the range two, three times a week [and] practice arms so they can hit anything."

Ask yourself how many rounds you have put through your daily carry piece.

The offender quoted above about his practice motivation, for example, fired 12 rounds at an officer, striking him 3 times. The officer fired 7 rounds, all misses.

More than 40% of the offenders had been involved in actual shooting confrontations before they feloniously assaulted an officer. Ten of these "street combat veterans," all from "inner-city, drug-trafficking environments," had taken part in 5 or more "criminal firefight experiences" in their lifetime.

One reported that he was 14 when he was first shot on the street, "about 18 before a cop shot me." Another said getting shot was a pivotal experience "because I made up my mind no one was gonna shoot me again."

Again in contrast, only 8 of the 50 LEO victims had participated in a prior shooting; 1 had been involved in 2 previously, another in 3. Seven of the 8 had killed offenders.

I don't know about you.... I don't have even 1 gunfight under my belt (and I hope I never do).

2. "I don't carry my gun all the time. I'll take it with me if I'm somewhere dangerous." or "It's with me all the time, under the seat of my truck."

3. "Thugs don't waist money on good gear and I can spot one carrying a gun from across the street."


The offenders said they most often hid guns on their person in the front waistband, with the groin area and the small of the back nearly tied for second place. Some occasionally gave their weapons to another person to carry, "most often a female companion." None regularly used a holster, and about 40% at least sometimes carried a backup weapon.

In motor vehicles, they most often kept their firearm readily available on their person, or, less often, under the seat. In residences, most stashed their weapon under a pillow, on a nightstand, under the mattress--somewhere within immediate reach while in bed.

Almost all carried when on the move and strong majorities did so when socializing, committing crimes or being at home. About one-third brought weapons with them to work. Interestingly, the offenders in this study more commonly admitted having guns under all these circumstances than did offenders interviewed in the researchers' earlier 2 surveys, conducted in the 1980s and '90s.

According to Davis, "Male offenders said time and time again that female officers tend to search them more thoroughly than male officers. In prison, most of the offenders were more afraid to carry contraband or weapons when a female CO was on duty."

On the street, however, both male and female officers too often regard female subjects "as less of a threat, assuming that they not going to have a gun," Davis said. In truth, the researchers concluded that more female offenders are armed today than 20 years ago--"not just female gang associates, but female offenders generally."
These guys are carrying ALL THE TIME! and no ones has explained to them the rules that they must carry strong side in a good kydex holster. They learned to carry a gun about the same time they started riding a bicycle. They know how to use it like riding a bike. It's second nature.

Getting a little nervous yet?

4. "I've been shooting all my life. tins cans, bullseye targets, fence posts." Standing still, lining up the sights, deep breath, squeeze... Most of those great habits go out the window when someone is trying to kill you!


Twenty-six of the offenders [about 60%], including all of the street combat veterans, "claimed to be instinctive shooters, pointing and firing the weapon without consciously aligning the sights," the study says.

"They practice getting the gun out and using it," Davis explained. "They shoot for effect." Or as one of the offenders put it: "[W]e're not working with no marksmanship....We just putting it in your direction, you know....It don't long as it's gonna hit you...if it's up at your head or your chest, down at your legs, whatever....Once I squeeze and you fall, then...if I want to execute you, then I could go from there."


More often than the officers they attacked, offenders delivered at least some rounds on target in their encounters. Nearly 70% of assailants were successful in that regard with handguns, compared to about 40% of the victim officers, the study found. (Efforts of offenders and officers to get on target were considered successful if any rounds struck, regardless of the number fired.)

Davis speculated that the offenders might have had an advantage because in all but 3 cases they fired first, usually catching the officer by surprise. Indeed, the report points out, "10 of the total victim officers had been wounded [and thus impaired] before they returned gunfire at their attackers."

Think about that one, No hesitation, 70% got hits on target, trained and practiced and they have the initiative. Sound like I need more range time and training.

5. "I know exactly how I would handle an deadly encounter at the quickie mart." Are those mental images based on what you've seen on TV?

"It appeared clear that none of these officers were willing to use deadly force against an offender if other options were available," the researchers concluded.

The offenders were of a different mind-set entirely. In fact, Davis said the study team "did not realize how cold blooded the younger generation of offender is. They have been exposed to killing after killing, they fully expect to get killed and they don't hesitate to shoot anybody, including a police officer. They can go from riding down the street saying what a beautiful day it is to killing in the next instant."

"Offenders typically displayed no moral or ethical restraints in using firearms," the report states. "In fact, the street combat veterans survived by developing a shoot-first mentality.

You may never run into someone like these 43 felons interviewed. Then again, you might. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Just wanted to remind everyone that the good guys doesn't win by default.


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