Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Defensive ammunition when you can't use hollowpoints

I've had an interesting series of exchanges with a correspondent in New Jersey concerning the best handgun for self-defense there.  Since many of my readers live in states with firearms laws that are as restrictive as NJ's (and in some places, such as New York and Connecticut, show signs of getting even worse), I thought the subject might be of more general interest.

The first point is that in New Jersey, it's virtually impossible to get a carry permit unless you have outstandingly good political connections.  The 'system' there is designed to issue as few permits as possible.  Furthermore, there are severe restrictions on the carrying and use of hollow-point or expanding ammunition in one's handgun.  (That restriction doesn't apply to law enforcement personnel, of course . . . yet another reason for resentment.  If it's good enough for cops, why shouldn't it be good enough for honest citizens whose taxes pay those cops and buy their ammunition?)

These restrictions upset the normal calculation about what cartridge or round New Jersey gun-owners (and others suffering under similar restrictions) should use for self-defense.  Modern bullet technology has brought many common defensive handgun cartridges to a much higher level of performance.  However, if that technology can't be used, cartridge effectiveness must be assessed in terms of older measurements.  I'm obliged to the anonymous editor of the Firearms History blog for his very useful articles on the following systems of measurement:

Follow each link for more information about the formula in question.  Not all are useful in a defensive context, but they're all informative.  (We've discussed some of them in articles here.  As an old Africa hand, I'm partial to the Taylor KO measurement as an indication of the effectiveness of solid [i.e. non-expanding] bullets.  It squares with my experience of shooting in Africa, be the target an animal or an enemy.  In particular, I agree with its bias towards larger-diameter bullets when dealing with solids.)

To get back to the self-defense situation, if gun-owners are restricted in their use of expanding handgun ammunition, they have to choose the most effective cartridge available under those restrictions.  That immediately argues against most smaller calibers, because (according to most of the above formulas, and also on the basis of hard-earned experience) they're less effective than larger ones in a defensive role.  Furthermore, one of the primary advantages of smaller cartridges is that one can fit more of them into a handgun of a given size compared to larger cartridges.  However, if (thanks to restrictions on bullet technology) each cartridge is rendered less effective, more of them will be needed to neutralize an opponent than larger ones;  and if magazine capacity is also legally restricted, that means that a greater percentage of your rounds will be needed per opponent than if you used larger ones.  Example:  if it takes 4-5 9mm. Parabellum ball rounds to stop an assailant, and you only have 10 of them in your gun, you'll use up to 50% of your 'rounds on board' to stop each opponent.  If it takes 2-3 .45 ACP ball rounds to do the same thing, and you have 10 of them in your gun, you'll be able to deal with twice the number of attackers for the same expenditure of ammunition.

Despite modern attempts to reinterpret historical data, it's clear that throughout the blackpowder era, bigger, heavier bullets did a better job of stopping a fight in a hurry than smaller, lighter ones.  That's why the most widely used handgun cartridges up until the invention of smokeless powder were over .40" in caliber;  for example, the US .44-40, .44 American, .44 Russian, .44 Bull Dog, .45 Colt and .45 Schofield, and the British .450 Adams, .442 Webley.476 Enfield and .455 Webley.  Although smokeless powder allowed the introduction of newer, smaller cartridges with similar (or improved) effectiveness compared to their blackpowder predecessors, this was not always the case.  Bigger, heavier cartridges still tended to do better than smaller ones at ending an attack, as the infamous Moro rebellion demonstrated.  It was the experience of that conflict that prompted the US Army to replace its newly-issued Colt M1892 revolvers chambered in .38 Long Colt.  As General Leonard Wood reported in 1904:

“Instances have repeatedly been reported during the past year where natives have been shot through and through several times with a .38 caliber revolver, and have come on, usually cutting up the unfortunate individual armed with it. The .45 caliber revolver stops a man in his tracks, usually knocking him down.”

This led initially to the reissue of older Colt Single Action Army revolvers (the famous 'Peacemaker' of the so-called 'Wild West'), and ultimately to the adoption of the renowned M1911 pistol and its .45 ACP cartridge.  It remained the US Army's standard sidearm until the adoption of the Beretta Model 92 in 1985, and is still issued by specialist units.  As late as the 1980's, during investigations following the notorious 'Miami Massacre' that sent shock-waves through US law enforcement, it's reported that "the FBI rated the .45 ACP twice as effective as the 9 mm".  That certainly correlates with my experience of handgun use in Southern Africa during that period.

Please note that I'm not by any means opposed to the use of smaller cartridges, provided that modern bullet technology is used.  My daily carry pistols are chambered for the 9mm. Parabellum cartridge, for reasons outlined here.  I load them with either Winchester Ranger T-series 127gr. JHP +P+ or the more recent Hornady Critical Duty 135gr. JHP +P rounds, and trust both to do a good job in defense of my life if necessary.  The latter round in particular is attracting serious interest due to its performance under all likely circumstances, as outlined in this video from Hornady.  It's reported to be the only range of handgun ammo to pass every FBI test criterion with flying colors.

However, if for some reason I couldn't carry expanding ammunition, my instant response would be to revert to handguns chambered in .45 ACP or .40 S&W [respectively my first and second choices], loaded with the best-quality ball rounds I could find.  That's why I keep firearms in my safe chambered for both cartridges.  Furthermore, as Jim Higginbotham points out, it's hard to make a .45 ACP bullet perform badly!

The late, great Jeff Cooper used to opine that an adequate defensive bullet in a handgun, irrespective of bullet type, shape, etc., should be at least .40" in diameter, weigh at least 200 grains, and exit the muzzle at a velocity of at least 1,000 feet per second.  Multiplying those factors together, we arrive at a total of 80,000.  If we use those factors and that total to assess the effectiveness of the most common semi-auto pistol cartridges, using ball ammunition, we can see how they stack up against each other:

  • .45 ACP:  .451" x 230 grains x 830 fps (US Army standard ball) = 86,096
  • .40 S&W:  .401" x 180 grains x 1,020 fps (Winchester Q4238) = 73,624
  • 9mm Parabellum:  .355" x 115 grains x 1,190 fps (Winchester Q4172) = 48,582

Those values are pretty much in line with what the older measurements (referred to above) give us in terms of bullet effectiveness, and in line with extensive experience 'on the street'.  They also bear out the FBI's finding during the 1980's that the .45 ACP round was about twice as effective as 9mm. Parabellum.  The more modern 'intermediate' .40 S&W round (introduced in 1990) falls between them in performance according to Cooper's scale.  I'm confident enough in either .40 S&W or .45 ACP ball to use them for defensive purposes if necessary.  As long as I put enough of them in the right place(s), they'll get the job done.

Of course, one can never rely on a single bullet being sufficient to stop an attacker.  I've covered this extensively in three articles dealing with 'The myth of handgun "Stopping Power".'  For that reason, the most effective cartridge/bullet combination should be chosen, and enough of them should be delivered to do the job.  If the magazine capacity of one's pistol is restricted, this means that expending four or five smaller rounds on each attacker can rapidly empty one's gun, rendering it useless until reloaded.  Far better to have larger, more capable rounds in the gun, each one as effective as possible, so that the same magazine capacity will allow one to deal with more attackers.

What handgun to carry it in?  That's very much a matter of personal preference.  Some prefer the 'old reliable' 1911 pistol, and I certainly can't argue as to its effectiveness.  Some more modern full-size .45 ACP pistols, such as the Glock 21, the Springfield XD or the Taurus 24/7, have improved on the 1911's limited ammunition supply, and hold 13-14 rounds.  Unfortunately, as far as my hands are concerned, this makes their grips too 'fat' for comfort.  I prefer a narrower grip that I can grasp more firmly.  My choice is the Ruger SR45.  Its magazine holds only 10 rounds, but that allows its grip to be much slimmer, making it easier for me to grasp;  and the gun's slightly greater weight helps me to absorb the cartridge's recoil during extended practice sessions (don't forget, I have health limitations, so that's an important factor for me).  Some other gun writers don't like the Ruger SR series, but I do.  Ed Head, instructor, Rangemaster and former Operations Manager at Gunsite Academy, offered high praise in his review:  "If I could go back in time to my Border Patrol days I would take the SR45 with me for a duty pistol. It’s that good."  Mine have proven reliable in my hands, and it's easy to disable their magazine safety (a feature I detest on any defensive handgun).  I've standardized on this model as my full-size .45 ACP pistol.  In .40 S&W, I've standardized on the Glock Model 22 and Model 23 (just as, in 9mm. Parabellum, I've standardized on other Glock models).

Small .45 ACP pistols tend to be uncomfortable to shoot for extended periods, because they don't have the heft or the weight to absorb as much recoil as larger weapons.  There are many possibilities out there, ranging from the Glock 36, to Springfield's XD-S, to Kahr's CW45 (the model I use) and many others.  I don't normally carry a small pistol chambered for such a big cartridge, because I find it painful to practice with them for extended periods.  However, if I were denied the ability to carry expanding ammunition and/or a high-capacity magazine, I'd live with the discomfort and switch to my Kahr CW45 in a heartbeat for deep-concealment scenarios (i.e. pocket or ankle carry - I'd rely on my Ruger SR45 for 'normal' holster carry).  I also have a Glock 27, which would be my 'go-to' small pistol in the .40 S&W cartridge.

One final point.  Big cartridges such as the .45 ACP are relatively expensive compared to their smaller counterparts, because their manufacture consumes larger quantities of metals, propellants, packaging, etc. (and, being heavier and bulkier, they cost more to ship).  That's one reason why I keep on hand similar handguns chambered for smaller rounds, so that I can train with them at lower cost.  For example, a Ruger SR45 can be 'twinned' with a Ruger SR9 for training;  a Glock 22 with a Glock 17;  a Glock 23 with a Glock 19;  a Springfield XD-S in .45 ACP with its sibling in 9mm. Parabellum;  and so on.  Over time, the savings in ammunition add up;  and because the firearms are identical to one another in every important respect, training on the smaller-caliber weapons is directly transferable to their bigger brothers.  All one needs to do is fire the larger cartridge sufficiently to remain familiar with its recoil and trajectory.


Ameritopia: the comic version

Doug Ross has provided an excellent cartoon/comic adaptation of the close of Mark R. Levin's book 'Ameritopia:  The Unmaking of America'.  It's simple and easy to understand, and provides great talking points when arguing with those who insist on 'reinterpreting' the Constitution or try to portray it as a 'living document' without certainty of meaning.  Here's just one frame, quoting Thomas Jefferson, to illustrate how useful it is.

I highly recommend that you read the whole thing, then bookmark its location for future reference.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A tragic reminder to SECURE YOUR FIREARM!

I've harped on the fact that you need to secure your 'ready' firearm, either by keeping it in a holster on your person, or keeping tight control of the handbag or briefcase in which you're carrying it.  Tragically, there are still those who don't . . . and sometimes, like today, that turns deadly.

A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday.

. . .

[Sheriff's department spokesman Stu] Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into the victim’s purse and grabbed a small caliber handgun, which discharged one time.

“It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,” Miller said.

The woman’s husband was not in the store when the shooting happened at about 10:20 a.m. Miller said the man arrived shortly after the shooting. All the children were taken to a relative’s house.

There's more at the link.

What an absolute tragedy for all concerned.  It need never have happened if that woman had kept tighter control over her handbag, and prevented her son from rooting around inside it - which she should certainly have done if it contained a firearm.

I hope the family can survive this.  The boy will be too young to understand, but he may find this held over his head, deliberately or inadvertently, as he grows up.  I don't know how his father, or his older siblings, will ever be able to look at him without remembering . . . and I don't know that they'll be able to keep their mouths shut.


A strike by any other name . . .

. . . is still a strike.

It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage.

NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned.

The dramatic drop comes as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio plan to hold an emergency summit on Tuesday with the heads of the five police unions to try to close the widening rift between cops and the administration.

. . .

Angry union leaders have ordered drastic measures for their members since the Dec. 20 assassination of two NYPD cops in a patrol car, including that two units respond to every call.

. . .

Police sources said Monday that safety concerns were the main reason for the dropoff in police activity, but added that some cops were mounting an undeclared slowdown in protest of de Blasio’s response to the non-indictment in the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“The call last week from the PBA is what started it, but this has been simmering for a long time,” one source said.

“This is not a slowdown for slowdown’s sake. Cops are concerned, after the reaction from City Hall on the Garner case, about de Blasio not backing them.”

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has warned its members to put their safety first and not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”

There's more at the link.

I don't blame the NYPD cops at all.  If I were in their shoes, faced with a mayor who's actively trash-talked them and shown no support for them whatsoever (except for the past couple of weeks, after two of them were murdered), I'd be doing the same.

Bad cops are one thing.  They need to be dealt with, as severely as possible.  However, most cops aren't bad.  They're tarred with the brush of the few bad ones, and do their best to do their jobs in spite of that handicap.  If, in the process, they're thrown under the bus by rabble-rousing leaders, it's a very effective counter to simply stop routine policing and leave it to Hizzoner to find another way to do it.  He won't, of course.  He can't.

I just hope the cops don't blink, and back down.  The only real solution in New York now is for Hizzoner to go . . . and he won't want to.  He's going to cling to power no matter what his mistakes.  Things could get nasty for a while in New York city.


Monday, December 29, 2014

I'd have thought they'd be a bit prickly . . .

I was surprised to learn of a new use for old Christmas trees.

Do You Green is using a novel manufacturing technique to turn pine into a soft fabric that has been described as "soft as silk with the feel of cashmere and the coolness of linen".

Smooth and thin, this material is ideal for lingerie, such as knickers, bras, slips or negligees.

According to Sophie Young, founder of Do You Green, "You won't want to wear anything else after touching it."

The company claims that the fabric, which is produced by dissolving pine trimmings in an enzyme bath, helps naturally regulate temperature and is naturally anti-bacterial, making it more hygienic than cotton or other synthetic materials.

There's more at the link.

I don't want to embed any of them here, because this is a family-friendly blog;  but some of the pictures at the company's Web site make it abundantly clear that their clothing is intended for more than just casual wear.  I've never heard of lingerie being made from pine needles, but if that's the sort of thing they can make, more power to them.


Dave Barry sums up 2014

The inimitable Dave Barry has put up his annual survey of the year just past.  Here are a few highlights from 2014.


In Colorado, the new year begins on a “high” note as the sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal. Despite dire predictions from critics that this will lead to increases in crime and addiction, state law-enforcement officials report that if you stare for a while at the flashing lights on top of their cars, you can see some amazing colors.


President Obama hosts a state dinner for French President François “Le Muffin de Stud” Hollande, who arrives at the White House driving a red scooter with two women riding on the back and three more chasing on foot.


General Motors recalls 1.5 million more cars to correct a steering issue that causes certain models to deliberately aim for elderly pedestrians.


General Motors, in what analysts view as a shrewd tactical move, announces that it is recalling 435,000 Fords.


As California’s brutal drought worsens, state law-enforcement agents, operating under emergency authority granted by the legislature, raid Cher’s home and confiscate an estimated $3 million worth of moisturizer.

There's much more at the link.  Go read it all for a good laugh.


Doofus Of The Day #806

Today we have a double Doofus award - one to each side of the law in this incident in England.

A bungling raider who leapt from a supermarket roof will never walk properly again after he landed in the arms of the law on top of a police car.

David Hawkes and his uncle John Campbell were trying to smash their way into a branch of Sainsbury's when officers closed in after a tip-off.

In a desperate bid to avoid capture, Hawkes jumped off the roof, but shattered his leg in four places when he landed on top of a patrol vehicle.

Yeah . . . landing on top of the cop car isn't a good career move for a crook, much less crippling yourself!  However, that's not the end of the case.  Another award goes to the judge who conducted the trial.

The former Nissan worker was spared an immediate spell behind bars despite having 77 previous convictions and already being on two suspended prison sentences for other offences.

The judge told him: "You broke your leg in four places when you jumped from the roof. It has been said you are not a good burglar and I accept that is right on this occasion, but you do seem to keep trying."

The judge said the serious injuries he suffered were partly why she had been persuaded to give Hawkes another chance.

Seventy-seven previous convictions?  I've met crooks like that.  A record of that nature guarantees he's committed many other crimes that never made it to court.  With a history like that, there's no way he'll be prevented by his injuries from returning to his life of crime.  He needs to be locked up until he's too old and infirm to offend again.  It might have been in society's best interests to refuse to treat his injuries, in the hope that they would have immobilized him permanently!  (Yes, I know, that wouldn't be very merciful or very Christian.  However, having dealt with as many criminals as I have, I have a realistic perspective about repeat offenders like this.  They're not about to change.)

Thus, one Doofus award to a dumb crook, and another to a gullible judge.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

This is why NO political party can be trusted

I'm obliged to fellow blogger Maddmedic for putting up a most interesting series of Venn diagrams, showing the relationship between individuals working in (or who used to work in) various sectors of the economy, who then went on to play important roles in Big Government (and often moved from there back into the private sector).

Here's the first diagram, showing individuals who've served in both Big Government and Big Oil.  (Click the image for a larger view.)

There are many more such diagrams at the link.  They illustrate the incestuous relationship between Big Business and Big Government in a way I've never seen before.  It's an eye-opener.  You want to know why "the will of the people" doesn't ever seem to get taken into account in Washington D.C.?  This is why.  The 'insiders' run things for the benefit of their corporate masters, not according to what the people want.  (They also make sure our politicians stay bought.)

The only complaint I have about Maddmedic's series of diagrams is that they show only officeholders in Democratic Party administrations and politicians' offices.  There are just as many that could be shown in Republican administrations and offices.  This isn't only a Democratic Party problem - it crosses party lines.  It's a Washington D.C. problem.  To reform Washington, we'd have to break every one of these incestuous ties . . . and I don't even begin to know how to do that (or, at least, how to do it legally).


That's a cool truck - literally!

Courtesy of reader Andrew M. we find this 2013 publicity/advertising video from Canadian Tire.  They took a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 truck, stripped off the body, stiffened the chassis, and built a new body out of 14,000 pounds of ice.

The project was intended to promote the company's Motomaster Eliminator battery, which for the test was chilled to -40° Centigrade (which is the same as -40° Fahrenheit, for those interested in mathematical oddities).  I'd say they succeeded.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Andrew.  Keep 'em coming!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Emergency self-defense

John Lott posted nine recent cases of self-defense where a homeowner or resident had to use a firearm at terrifyingly short notice to stop an intruder.  Reading them reminded me once again of how vulnerable most of us are to a no-notice home invasion.

Ask yourselves these questions.

  1. Do you have, right now, on your person or immediately to hand, a loaded firearm?
  2. If not, how far away (in both distance and time) is a loaded firearm, and how long will it take you (including entering a safe combination, loading the gun, etc.) to get it into your hands and ready for use?
  3. If you don't have a loaded firearm within almost immediate access, what other means of defense do you have if someone should kick down your door right now, or break in through a window?
  4. Have you discussed - and rehearsed - with your family what their response should be, collectively and individually, in the event that something goes wrong?  Do they know to get out of the way to a safe place, and get down and out of the line of fire, or will they run around in panic like chickens with their heads cut off?

I know a lot of people who own firearms, but refuse to keep them loaded and ready for use.  They protest that there are kids in the house, and they can't take the risk of a child getting his or her hands on a loaded weapon;  or that visitors are often present, and can't always be trusted;  or other reasons.  Nevertheless, a gun that isn't ready for use is of no use whatsoever to protect you - except, perhaps, as an expensive and unwieldy club.

I've trained many people to overcome such problems by careful analysis of the alternatives available to them.  There are many ways to get around the risk of loaded guns in proximity to children.  A few examples:

  • The most secure is to keep the gun on your person in a holster.  That way you have full control over it at all times.  When you have to take it off for some reason, lock it up.
  • Secure the gun in a safe that can be easily and quickly opened.  There are many small handgun safes available (follow those four links to see some ranging in price from $16 to $168) that can be screwed or bolted to furniture or a wall, and unlocked within seconds in case of need.  Keep the key on your person, so that only you have access to it (around your neck on a chain or cord is a good idea).
  • Have an unloaded pistol secured somewhere (with no ammunition readily available nearby), and keep a magazine of ammunition in your pocket.  If you have to retrieve the pistol, loading it is as simple as slapping the magazine into the well and cycling the action - a matter of a second or two.
  • If you just can't stand the thought of a gun, what alternatives have you researched, tested and implemented?  There are perimeter defenses (burglar bars on the windows, reinforced doors, etc.), chemical sprays (obviously a double-edged sword indoors, possibly affecting you as much as the bad guy[s]), Taser and other electroshock weapons (so-called 'stun guns'), impact weapons, and a host of other options.  Don't wait until you need them before deciding to buy or install them and learn how to use them!

If you own firearms, as soon as your kids are old enough to understand, I strongly suggest that you 'gun-proof' them through education (the NRA's Eddie Eagle program is a very good way to start).  It also helps to take away the 'forbidden fruit' mystique of firearms if they learn to shoot, using appropriately-sized firearms (such as, for example, a Crickett rifle), as soon as they're mature enough to be safe.  (Their maturity isn't necessarily a function of their calendar age.  I've known young girls of seven or eight years old who already have their own firearms and shoot them competently and safely.  On the other hand, I know adults in their forties and fifties who are utterly unsafe with any firearm at all!)  If kids know that there's nothing weird or magical about firearms and shooting, they'll be a lot more relaxed - and safe! - around guns.

If someone broke into my home as I write these words, it's comforting to know that within seconds I can get my hands on two loaded handguns and a loaded shotgun, plus electronic hearing protection, a high-powered flashlight, and other necessities.  One hopes and prays that the sort of encounters reported by John Lott won't happen to us . . . but I'm sure those involved in them never thought they'd need to.  They learned the hard way.  I suggest we learn from their misfortune and prepare ourselves accordingly.

(That's not paranoia.  As Clint Smith famously pointed out:  "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid.  That's ridiculous.  If I have a gun, what in the hell do I have to be paranoid about?")


Creativity and imagination

I've always said that I have a logical/intellectual mind, but I'm not much good at artistic stuff - the ability to think in images rather than in words.  That's still true, I think, but it may be becoming less so.  I've recently been challenged to re-think my approach by a couple of inspirational video clips.

The first is about Inge Druckrey, artist and designer, who's the wife of Edward Tufte.  It's previewed in this article.

Rather than retreading Druckrey’s biography—she was born in Germany in 1940, worked as a graphic designer in Switzerland in the mid-1960s, and has since held teaching posts at Yale, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Philadelphia College of Art, among other institutions—Severny tries to capture the essence of Druckrey’s magic as a teacher. Through interviews with former pupils, as well as surveys of her own graphic-design work and those of her students, the film shows Druckrey’s gift for teaching others to see the world through eyes both critical and curious. Teaching to See lets us, too, become her disciples.

You don’t walk away from the film with a single penetrating insight; it’s more of a grab bag of Druckrey’s practices, ideas, and projects. Little lessons crop up at every turn. In one sequence, Druckrey describes designing a concert poster for the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s performance of a piece by Beethoven. Her first idea was to use the contrast of light and dark, evoking some of the turmoil of the composer’s own life. A large abstracted B, made from a page of notation from one of Beethoven’s manuscripts, dominates the piece visually. Druckrey explains that the idea for the B was there from the start. Next, she used staff lines to create a letter E in the negative space adjacent to it. But she wasn’t sure where to go after that, so she stared. It’s important, she narrates, "to give yourself time to stare at it and see what’s there, what does it want, what’s possible."

Throughout the film, these kernels of wisdom come not just directly from Druckrey herself but also secondhand from the recollections of several of her former students. One recounts how exacting Druckrey was as a drawing instructor—"I remember drawing a juice bottle and the constant correction, the constant back and forth; it could be very trying at times," he says—but admits that when he finally began to see what she was trying to get him to see, namely the relationship of the ellipses and other shapes that made up that bottle, it was nothing short of a "revelation."

There's more at the link.

The video is 40 minutes long, but well worth the expenditure of time.  She describes how we must "learn to see" - i.e. use our eyes in a new, creative sense - in order to become more creative.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.

The second video came as a confirmation of the first from the point of view of creative writing - something that directly involves me as an author of fiction.  Ira Glass has this to say.

Glass has produced a four-part video series for NPR titled 'Ira Glass on Storytelling'. You'll find the first part here on YouTube;  the remaining three parts are linked in the sidebar there.  Worthwhile viewing for anyone wanting to express themselves through storytelling - or any other creative art.


Friday, December 26, 2014

The rise of the Islamic State

Four articles caught my eye this week concerning the state of affairs in the Middle East and how things got that bad.  All are worth reading.

In the first, Martin Chulov brings us 'Isis:  The Inside Story'.  Here's the start of his long and very detailed report.

In the summer of 2004, a young jihadist in shackles and chains was walked by his captors slowly into the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq. He was nervous as two American soldiers led him through three brightly-lit buildings and then a maze of wire corridors, into an open yard, where men with middle-distance stares, wearing brightly-coloured prison uniforms, stood back warily, watching him.

“I knew some of them straight away,” he told me last month. “I had feared Bucca all the way down on the plane. But when I got there, it was much better than I thought. In every way.”

The jihadist, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, entered Camp Bucca as a young man a decade ago, and is now a senior official within Islamic State (Isis) – having risen through its ranks with many of the men who served time alongside him in prison. Like him, the other detainees had been snatched by US soldiers from Iraq’s towns and cities and flown to a place that had already become infamous: a foreboding desert fortress that would shape the legacy of the US presence in Iraq.

The other prisoners did not take long to warm to him, Abu Ahmed recalled. They had also been terrified of Bucca, but quickly realised that far from their worst fears, the US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

It was at Camp Bucca that Abu Ahmed first met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of Isis who is now frequently described as the world’s most dangerous terrorist leader. From the beginning, Abu Ahmed said, others in the camp seemed to defer to him. “Even then, he was Abu Bakr. But none of us knew he would ever end up as leader.”

There's more at the link.

The second report describes how Islamic State is deliberately indoctrinating children into its violent creed and recruiting them as fighters.

IS introduces children to violence at a very young age. They are regularly forced to attend public executions for those who violate Sharia law and are sent to indoctrination camps at a very young age.

An IS “toddler kicking an unbeliever’s head,” reads the caption on one photo tweeted by an IS social media account on Twitter. “Woe to you, o unbelievers and apostates from such a generation that got soaked with the love of cutting off the heads and snipping the necks.”

IS also touts its “youngest fighters” on Twitter, celebrating their contributions to the radical group’s fight.

A young boy holding a rifle as tall as he is recently became an IS poster-child when he was reportedly “martyred” with his father during a U.S.-led airstrike in Iraq, according to MEMRI.

Another child, also purportedly killed in battle, is shown in a military fatigue operating a large automatic rife.

In addition to children posing with weapons, “photos of children reenacting in play some ISIS atrocities, such as the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley, are also widely shared via social media,” MEMRI found.

There is little regard among IS leaders as to whether this type of indoctrination is healthy for children living under its control.

Again, more at the link.  This is even more chilling in the light of today's report about a Nigerian girl being given by her father to Boko Haram fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, who tried to force her to blow herself up as a suicide bomber.

Finally, the Islamic State's war in Syria is now spilling over into Lebanon, where local villagers live in fear and great danger.

Militants from both Nusra and the so-called Islamic State crossed the Qalamoun Mountains from Syria into Lebanon and surrounded a Lebanese Army post outside Arsal. They managed to seize the town and by the time the Lebanese Army had regained control, at least 12 civilians and 17 of its soldiers had died, while 27 soldiers and policemen were kidnapped.

Four soldiers have since been killed, but most are still being held hostage in an attempt to pressure Lebanese authorities into a prisoner swap.

The attack on Arsal was a wake-up call for the already stretched Lebanese Army. It has since reinforced its northern posts and - to the relief of residents in this southern area - established a more obvious presence here.

More at the link.  If this continues, look for Israel to get involved, whether directly or indirectly.  It won't want a fundamentalist Islamic state on its borders, to add to the problems it already has with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Things are getting worse by the day in the Middle East, and the policies of the current US administration are doing nothing whatsoever to change that.  We'd better hope those responsible wise up sooner rather than later, because if the spread of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism continues, we're all going to pay a horrifying price.


Shooty post-Christmas deals

Gifts have been given and received, and most of us are happy with the result.  However, my disabled students and I have a few items that are surplus to current requirements:  and there are a few things we could use for our current carbine rebuilds and other activities.  Therefore, I'm offering the following for sale or swap.  I'm not expecting to get their new or retail price, but will dicker for swaps we can use or cash to buy what we need.  If you're within striking distance of Nashville, TN, and are interested in anything I've listed, drop me a line (my e-mail address is in my blog profile) and let's talk.  Items can be shipped over longer distances, as none require an FFL for transfer.

Items for sale or swap:

  • Two (2) Jarvis drop-in match barrels for Glock 19, caliber 9mm Parabellum:  regular price (as per Jarvis' Web site) $200 apiece.  Brand new and unfired - never installed.
  • One (1) Jarvis drop-in match barrel for Glock 23, caliber .40 Smith & Wesson;  regular price (as per Jarvis' Web site) $200.  Brand new and unfired - never installed.
  • Four 5-packs of Vickers Tactical Glock magazine floor plates to fit 9mm/.40 S&W/357 SIG magazines.  Two packs of black (list price $18.50 apiece) and two of orange (list price $21.50 apiece).  All new, never installed, in original packaging.
  • One case (1,000 rounds) of Wolf Polyformance .223 Remington 62gr. JHP ammunition, packaged in 2 x 500-round plastic packs, each containing 25 boxes.  Wolf lists muzzle velocity for this round at 3,025 fps, which puts it in the same class as SS109/M855 military ball - except that this is hollow-point ammo.  It's polymer-coated, not lacquer-coated like the cheaper military product, so it won't build up lacquer fouling in the chamber.  Cost was $225.00.

Items needed:

  • Good-quality weapon-mounted lights, although (for obvious reasons) not the more expensive brands.  The Streamlight TLR-1 series are particularly desirable (or equivalents).  A specific model that would be very useful is the Streamlight 69217 TLR-1 HP (High Performance) long-range light for mounting on rifles and carbines.
  • Vertical or angled fore-end grips for the AR-15, possibly incorporating a light and/or laser sight, to fit a Picatinny rail or Magpul MOE handguard with the appropriate adapter.  I don't want the cheap Airsoft-type 'toys', but serious-use hardware.
  • Two caliber conversion barrels for the Glock 22, to convert it from .40 S&W to 9mm Parabellum.  These are available from Lone Wolf, KKM Precision (select the G22, then the 'Conversion Barrel' option) and Storm Lake.  I'd particularly like to get one of the longer threaded conversion barrels, if anyone has one lying around.

As I said, I'm not looking to receive full retail value for the stuff I'm offering:  for the right swap, or a useful cash price, I'll make a deal.  If you're interested, please get in touch.  Thanks.


EDITED AT 4:35 PM TO ADD:  The ammunition and Vickers Tactical magazine floor plates are taken.  The Jarvis match barrels are still available.  Don't be shy - make an offer!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A feel-good story for Christmas

A bride-to-be thought she was going to a shopping mall to have photographs taken in her wedding dress, just a couple of days before Christmas.  Her fiancé and family had a better idea.

Ain't they cute?  Best wishes for a long and happy life together to the newlyweds - and a merry Christmas, of course!


The lighter side of Christmas

I said the important things about Christmas last night.  There's also the fun aspect, which has been brought out by a number of posts and articles.  Here are a few that have tickled my fancy.

# # #

The Telegraph calculates 'Santanomics'.  Here's an excerpt.

If each house places a 200ml glass [about 6½ oz.] of semi-skimmed milk and a mince pie by the fireplace, Santa drinks 148m litres [over 39 million US gallons] of milk -- enough to fill around 60 Olympic-size swimming pools -- and eats 740m mince pies during his shift.

As there are around 250 calories in a mince pie and 100 calories in the glass of milk, Santa consumes 259bn calories on Christmas (and that’s before he goes home to his turkey leftovers).

To burn that off so he can squeeze into his suit again the following Christmas, Santa would have to run for 1.5bn miles.

There's more at the link.

# # #

MSgt. B. shares some Christmas thoughts and images, including this one:

There are more at the link.

# # #

Mr. Garabaldi has three good blog posts about 'Christmas tidbits', as he calls them:

Go read, and enjoy.

# # #

World War I began in 1914.  That year saw the famous 'Christmas Truce', in which British and German soldiers came out of their trenches to fraternize in No-Mans-Land and play a famous game of football. This year - the centenary of the occasion - a number of re-enactments of that game have been held, but the one that caught my attention was between British and German troops serving in Afghanistan.

I wonder whether any of the participants' great-grandparents played together between the front lines a century ago?

# # #

I'm sure most of us are familiar with the famous poem " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas ".  My fellow author and columnist at Mad Genius Club, Kate Paulk, has celebrated the season by penning a new version of the poem, "as edited by a Social Justice Warrior".  Here's an excerpt.

Twas the sleep-preferred diurnal period before the non-denominational winter celebration, when all through the dwelling place
Not a life-privileged thing was stirring, not even a member of the species mus musculus.
The gift receptacles of choice were placed by the designated location with care,
In hopes that a culturally appropriate giver of gifts soon would be there.

There's more at the link.  Giggle-worthy for the not-politically-correct (such as yours truly).

# # #

A furniture store in Bangor, Maine, has responded very appropriately to complaints by the grinch-minded concerning its seasonal displays.  If I weren't over 1,300 miles away by road, I'd make a point of driving there to buy something to express my appreciation.  May I suggest to any of my readers living near the store that they might like to consider doing so on behalf of the rest of us?  Thanks.

# # #

Finally, cartoonist Randall Munroe has his own inimitable take on Christmas.  (Clicking the image will take you to the XKCD home page.  It's one of my regular cartoon reads.  Highly recommended.)


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A happy and holy Christmas to all my readers

I don't have a profound message for Christmas - it has its own.  I wrote about its very special meaning for me back in 2008, and I've never been able to improve on that;  so, if you haven't read about 'The Night Christmas Became Real', please follow that link and do so now.

As for the message of the season, I think Fr. John Foley SJ and his colleagues of the St. Louis Jesuits expressed it very beautifully in this song in 1977.  It can (and does) still move me to tears with its meditative, contemplative, prayerful insight.

May God bless each and every one of you this night with the joy of His presence.


Beautiful music for the season

Here's Lindsey Stirling's release for Christmas 2014.



Imagine jumping off that . . .

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday was a spectacular shot taken by the Rosetta probe as it orbited Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  The agency reports:

The ragged cliffs, as featured here, were imaged by Rosetta about two weeks ago. Although towering about one kilometer high, the low surface gravity of Comet CG would likely make a jump from the cliffs, by a human, survivable. At the foot of the cliffs is relatively smooth terrain dotted with boulders as large as 20 meters across.

There's more at the link.

Here's what the probe saw.  Click the image for a larger view at the APOD site.

Imagine jumping off a cliff more than half a mile high, and floating gently down to the surface.  Makes me want to go there and try it . . .


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Some very interesting links

These articles have given me food for thought and a lot of information over the past few days.

What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed.  The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her.  If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology.  We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.

This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism.  The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals.  That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals.  Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things.  There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you.  There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.

This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.  The presumption of innocence is highly inconvenient for social crusades; it’s the antithesis of collective political “justice.”

Speaking of the left, progressives and collectivists, my fellow author, blogger and friend Larry Correia has put up three articles in recent weeks addressing the phenomenon in his own inimitable and very funny style.

Go read, and enjoy.


Talk about being overcome by events!

BBC journalist Quentin Sommerville tried to file a news report about 8½ tons of narcotics being burned.  Unfortunately, the fumes wafted his way . . .


The first color photographs of America

Through a photo essay in the Telegraph, I was led to a book from Taschen, the well-known publishers of art 'coffee-table' books.  This one's titled 'An American Odyssey'.

It looks to be a fascinating volume.  The blurb reads:

These rediscovered Photochrom and Photostint postcard images from the private collection of Marc Walter were produced by the Detroit Photographic Company between 1888 and 1924. Using a photolithographic process that predated the autochrome by nearly 20 years, they offered people the very first color photographs of The United States. Suddenly, the continent's colors were available for all to see. The rich ochres and browns of the Grand Canyon, the dazzle of Atlantic City, became a visual delight not only for eyewitnesses, but for Americans far and wide.

Clear Creek Canyon, Georgetown Loop, Colorado (click to enlarge)

Imbued with this sense of discovery and adventure, the pictures gathered here are a voyage through peoples, places and time at once. They take us through North America’s vast and varied landscape, encounter its many communities, and above all transport us back to the New World of over a century ago. Over more than 600 pages including fold-out spreads, this sweeping panorama takes us from Native American settlements to New York's Chinatown, from some of the last cowboys to Coney Island's heyday. As luminous now as they were some 120 years ago, these rare and remarkable images that brought America to Americans now bring American's past to our present.

There's more at the link.

There's an amazing selection of pictures in the Telegraph's photo essay and at Taschen's Web site.  Here are a few to whet your appetite.  Click them for a larger view.

Homestake Mine, South Dakota

Ships in New York harbor

Sunset from the Battery, New York

Zuni Pueblo Indians perform the Rain Dance in New Mexico

It's a very large book, 612 pages long, measuring 11.4" x 15.6" and weighing almost sixteen pounds.  At its three-figure price, I sadly can't afford to buy it:  but it's satisfying to know that it exists, and documents for posterity many aspects of our history that would otherwise never be remembered as they truly were.

I think Taschen deserves a big round of applause for continuing its tradition of producing books that no-one else would even consider publishing.  This looks like an amazing volume.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Heh - AK-47 edition

E-mailed to me by three readers over the course of the day:

The thought of the tough, pugnacious Mikhail Kalashnikov as a Legolas-like elf is too funny for words.  However, he'd have made a great dwarf in Tolkien's fantasy world in terms of character and outlook on life.


Doofus Of The Day #805

Today's award goes to two indolent Italian traffic cops.

Two Rome traffic police officers ... were supposed to be tracking speed in the Casilina area of the capital on Friday night when they fell asleep in their car, La Reppublica reported.

They awoke at around 2am on Saturday to find that their speed camera, which was perched on a tripod in front of the vehicle, had been stolen.

At first, it was thought the officers could have been “drugged” by sleeping gas placed in the car’s ventilation system, La Repubblica reported.

But it was later concluded that they simply nodded off, perhaps aided by the warmth of the car's heater.

It’s a nap that could cost them dearly as the pair now face a disciplinary process, and possible suspension.

There's more at the link.

The long arm nap of the law?


Neat door, but . . . why?

I was intrigued to come across these video demonstrations of Austrian artist Klemens Torggler's door designs.

You can read more about the design at Gizmodo.  I'm sure it's clever, but what was wrong with the traditional type of door?  Does this do anything better than the old design would have done?  Is this intended to be an improvement, or just "art for art's sake"?

I'd love to know how that door design would stand up to problems like extreme weather, attempts to break in through it, and so on.  I doubt whether it could be made as strong as a one-piece door.  Yes, yes, I know . . . I don't have an artist's soul.  Prosaic reality's more my thing.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

When lies become cultural memes

I've been puzzled, then bewildered, and finally exasperated by the lies that have come out of the shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Eric Garner.  They're parroted by protesters, and violence is committed against property and persons because of them . . . but they're lies.  They're false from beginning to end.

From the moment of his death, self-asserted 'eye-witnesses' claimed that Michael Brown had his hands up in the surrender position, and was shot to death by a policeman while not resisting.  This is, of course, completely false, as has been demonstrated by the autopsy evidence.  None of the wounds on Mr. Brown's body (particularly his arms) were consistent with the 'surrender position'.  Furthermore, allegations that he'd been shot in the back were proven false as well.  However, demonstrators across the country are still parroting the slogan "Hands up!  Don't shoot!" as if it were some sort of mantra.  Every time they do so, they're perpetuating a lie - so why should I take them seriously?  Does honesty mean nothing to them?  The phrase has even become a tag at the Huffington Post.  So much for honest journalism . . .

What's more, that slogan might get some of them killed.  Let's say an armed citizen is confronted by a mob of rioters.  They move menacingly towards him, and he draws his gun in response.  As soon as they see it, they begin shouting "Hands up!  Don't shoot!" and raise their hands in the surrender position . . . but they continue moving towards him, just as protesters have done towards police.  At that point, he's more than entitled to assume that they haven't stopped their threatening behavior towards him;  that their proximity means they're more of a threat than ever;  and that if they get any closer, they may get their hands on his gun and steal it, or - even worse - turn it against him.  At that point he can legitimately argue that the protesters pose a threat to his life and/or safety, and have the ability, opportunity and demonstrated motivation to put that threat into effect.  If he opens fire on them as a result, I think he'd have fully satisfied the demands of the law in terms of legitimate self-defense.  The (surviving) rioters will, of course, protest that their hands were up and they were engaged in peaceful protest.  I don't think so . . .

As for the protest slogan "I can't breathe!" (spoken by Eric Garner as he was restrained by police in New York), I have news for them.  I've been trained in how to apply numerous restraint holds.  Believe me, if you're in a real choke hold, you won't be able to get enough air into your lungs to say anything!  I'm profoundly sorry that Mr. Garner died, and I believe the grand jury erred in not finding any officer at fault for his death;  but he most certainly could breathe throughout that incident.  As far as I've been able to determine from news reports, his death wasn't caused by asphyxiation but by a heart attack subsequent to his arrest.  His morbid obesity was probably a major contributing factor.

It's a well-known tactic among offenders in prison to claim that they can't breathe in an attempt to get extra attention, or drugs, or whatever.  I've spent hours in the Special Housing Unit (the isolation cell block for the really naughty boys, discussed in my memoir of prison chaplaincy) listening to an inmate standing at the door of his cell shouting over and over and over, "I can't breathe!  I can't breathe!"  The very fact that he could say that for hours on end, at the top of his voice, was the clearest possible evidence that he could, indeed, breathe quite normally.  He was merely making the claim in the hope of forcing the officers on duty to afford him some extra attention and perhaps a few special privileges - a well-known tactic.

We know that Mr. Garner could breathe.  It's not in doubt.  Nevertheless, crowds of protesters are going around chanting "I can't breathe!" as if it were a mantra.  NBA players even wore it on their shirts in protest.  This just boggles my mind.  It's a lie, pure and simple.  If I see protesters perpetuating what I know to be a lie, why should I place any credence in the justice of their cause?  Why should I support them?  This is particularly the case when the phrase is exploited by race-mongering rabble-rousers.  They're using a lie for propaganda purposes.  Makes sense, I suppose . . . to them, if not to me.

Am I wrong to insist that the truth is important?  Am I so far out of touch with modern society that I find it morally wrong to demonstrate over something I know to be an untruth?  I have no problem with drawing attention to the very real racial tensions in our society.  They're undeniable.  However, to do so while parroting lies seems to me to taint one's cause with dishonesty.  Can't the demonstrators see this?  Or is it that they no longer care about what's factually true or false, but only about their feelings on the subject?



Where is Sir Robert Peel when we need him?

Recent weeks have seen several cases of police and/or prosecutorial misconduct.  The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in New York, NY are well-known, but by no means the only cases.  I wrote yesterday about the tragic outcome of a police raid in Haversham County, Ga., and also learned of the acquittal of a Fort Bend, TX man after what appears to be a gross abuse of power by the law enforcement authorities (according to another source, the police lied to a judge in order to obtain a warrant).  In throwing out a lawsuit in the latter case, a judge ruled:

“There is no freestanding constitutional right to be free from malicious prosecution.”

Sounds unbelievable, doesn't it? - but it's true.  That's the legal reality we face.

These are only a few of the many accusations of bias, incompetence and egregious abuse of authority leveled against law enforcement agencies and officers every year.  Radley Balko has done a great job of documenting them in his book and his regular articles in the Washington Post.  The ACLU and other organizations have also put a great deal of energy into documenting and exposing such cases.

Police, on the other hand, respond that the public doesn't really understand the stresses of the situations in which they find themselves.  Some appear to believe that everyone's against them, and have therefore adopted an "us-versus-them" attitude.  Others take refuge in the "thin blue line" mythos, defending each other no matter what, always taking the side of brother and sister officers irrespective of the details of the case.

The trouble is, with perceptions of police overreach so widespread (and, let's face it, so widely justified in terms of the number of reported incidents), there's a growing over-reaction among certain sectors of the public, who now regard police - all police - as "the enemy".  They're not discriminating against the few bad cops who spoil things for the many decent ones.  They're simply lumping all law enforcement personnel together, and all their actions, and condemning them all.

That's what appears to have led to the murder of two NYPD officers yesterday.  The gunman posted online that he was "putting pigs in a blanket" in revenge for the death of Eric Garner.  He walked up behind the policemen as they sat in their car and shot them both in the head.  They may never have seen the man who killed them.  He'd earlier shot his girlfriend (who survived), then committed suicide when pursued by police into a subway station.  The police officers involved were completely innocent of any involvement in the Garner case;  but that didn't matter to the gunman.  There was another attempted shooting of police officers in New York, but this one fortunately ended without any casualties.  A third incident was the shooting of an off-duty police officer in St. Louis, Mo. a couple of days ago.  We don't yet have many details, but the circumstances appear to suggest a deliberate attack on him solely because he was recognized as a police officer - at least, there's been no mention of any other possible motive.

More and more, it appears that any and all police officers are regarded by a large segment of our society as complicit in the Brown, Garner and similar cases mentioned above.  They're perceived to be "guilty by association", whether or not they themselves have anything to do with police overreach.  Given the widespread - and seemingly increasing - abuse of authority by many police officers and agencies, one can hardly be surprised by such a development;  nor by its expression in attacks on individual officers as a form of "revenge" against the "system".  I'm sure there'll be more such incidents.

This is the inevitable result of police attitudes, practices and procedures that emphasize their authority over the people's.  I submit that many cops no longer see themselves as public servants, but as public masters.  They insist that their authority be recognized and instantly obeyed, or else.

This is the diametric opposite of what Sir Robert Peel, founder of the forerunner of all modern police forces in democratic societies, saw as essential for success.  The nine "Peelian Principles" remain a seminal contribution to the theory of law enforcement.  They are:

  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

There's more at the link.

I can already hear the scoffing from police officers that those principles are utterly outdated when dealing with a society that regards the rule of law as nothing more than a polite fiction.  I can't blame them;  our politicians and leaders in other spheres often appear to honor our laws more in the breach than in the observance.  Needless to say, our citizens all too often take their cue from their leaders (or is it the other way around?)  Nevertheless, any officer of the law who enters upon his career regarding the people he's called to "protect and serve" as the enemy rather than his peers and fellow citizens is riding for a fall.  Sooner or later, someone's going to provide one for him.

I don't have an answer to the current situation.  I only know that police have overstepped the bounds of their legitimate authority on all too many occasions;  that innocent citizens have, indeed, suffered unjustly as a result (remember Salvatore CulosiJose GuerenaKathryn Johnston?  Cory Maye?  Three of them are dead.  Many others have suffered greatly - check the list of cases of police brutality for yourself.)  With so many cases on record, and more being added seemingly every week, is it any wonder that an increasing number of our citizens regard the police as the enemy?

At the same time, I think that law enforcement authorities have a point that their indisputable authority as enforcers of the laws passed by those we, the people, elect, is increasingly disregarded.  If we don't like the laws that are passed, we should make sure we elect representatives who'll repeal them and pass laws more in accordance with our wishes.  If we don't do that, we have no right to blame the police for the laws.  However, increasingly we live in a society that scoffs at laws.  John Adams famously pointed out:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

We now live in a post-Christian society, where many of our citizens behave in a way that can only be described as immoral and irreligious (at least by the standards of Adams' day).  Many also forget that our second President warned:

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

I can only hope and pray that our Republic isn't headed there.  The size and scale of the conflict between sections of our society and law enforcement doesn't give me much confidence.