Here is your future, unarmed America

Let’s count it down, shall we?

Failed attempts at gun control? Check.
Increasing crime rates? Check.
Violent, ruthless street gangs? Check.
Politicization and corruption of law enforcement? Check.

I have seen your future, California, and it looks a lot like Caracas.

Interview With A Professional Kidnapper

Gonzalez began by explaining “the market.” He targeted Venezuela’s middle classes, rather than the rich. Going after the rich invited additional police scrutiny or, worse heavily armed private guards driving armoured vehicles. For the same reasons and because they seldom had Venezuelan bank accounts that could be quickly emptied, it did not make economic sense to kidnap foreigners.

Before deciding whether to kidnap someone, gang members followed their movements closely for about a month to understand how and where they lived, worked and played. This was not only to figure out the best time and place to grab them, but also to find out whether their kin were likely to be able to cough up a ransom of 100,000 to 200,000 bolivars (about US$300 to US$600 on the black market, US$16,000 to $32,000 at the official exchange rate).

And before you think, “Well, that’s just Venezuela. What are the chances this could happen close to the U.S.?”…

… have you seen what is (still) going on in Mexico City?

In Mexico, with its history of drug-war violence and corrupt police, kidnapping is an old story. In the past, the crime tended to target the rich. Now it has become more egalitarian. Victims these days are often shopkeepers, taxi drivers, service employees, parking attendants and taco vendors who often work in cash or in Mexico’s “informal” economy. Targets also tend to be young — students, with parents willing to pay ransoms, are commonly targeted.

How long before MS13, La eMe, etc, figure out there’s as much money to be made from kidnapping middle class citizenry as there is from smuggling in people and/or drugs into the U.S.?

The only two things that are holding back this nightmare scenario from happening that I can see are the (mostly) honest police forces in the U.S. and the presence of a well-armed middle class.

When those two things go away, what hope is there for the citizenry?

Being your own first responder by arming yourself is a very good thing indeed, but it’s even better if it is also backed up by the fair and firm rule of law. When the rule of law becomes politicized, the criminals will realize that politics is the way to power.

Update: A little cheerful reading for you on a Tuesday morning – When the Music Stops. I’d like to believe that such a scenario is unlikely (even improbable), but given the reality of today’s political situation, I can’t.

The Guns And problem

Is gunblogging dead?

No.

Is gunblogging changing?

Yes.

At SHOT this year, I hung out in The Bourbon Room with Jay, Tom, Paul and Bob on Monday night. Tales were told, sour mash was consumed, camaraderie ensued.

And all of us started out in the gunblogging/new media world, and now we’re shakers/movers of some kind or another in the larger firearms world.

And we’re not alone. Just like the media world as a whole, gunbloggers are moving away from just new media and into other endeavors. Just that mean gunblogging is dead? No. Does that mean that blogging now needs to compete with all the other new media channels out there? Yes.

There’s also the “guns and” problem. I’ve managed to keep politics and other stuff out of this blog, at the expense of the main political blog (although to be fair, that blog started to wither away since my co-blogger became rich and famous), but the majority of other “gunblogs” out there are guns and politics and food and music and etsy crochet projects.

Ok, not that last one. Yet.

I’m actually ok with this, because it puts guns in context of your life. It’s no big deal, it’s just your gun. Gunblogging reflects this trend, then, that guns are (and should be) a means, not the end.

Today’s Writing Assignment, Class…

… is to re-write the following paragraph to describe an experience that is fun, exciting and reflects a positive outlook on the world around you. To make things easier for you, I’ve bolded all the positive words and italicized all the negative one.


 

AGAINST ALL ODDS: A class that takes defensive handgun skills beyond the basics and into the practical. During this action-packed weekend, you’ll learn to defend yourself even if you’re knocked off your feet and even if someone tries to take your gun away from you. You’ll also learn secrets of drawing the gun in difficult circumstances, such as when you’re curled up in a tight space or lying flat on your back.


 

Based on that pitch, what is the product that the consumer is buying? Is it competence, independence, self reliance, or an hours-long wrestling match culminating in a nasty and scary trip inside a criminal’s mind?

Now first off, let me apologize profusely to Kathy Jackson, the trainer whose class that is, because she “gets it” and is a first-rate, top-notch A-Number-One trainer who I’d take a class with anytime, anywhere. And also, I know *I* write pretty similar things, because that’s how I also see the world.

But.

That’s pretty typical of how firearms training classes are described, because the people who are doing the description write the classes for themselves and people like them. I’m guilty as hell as well (I *swear* I am not picking on you, Kathy! ;) ), because we all write from our experience, and our experience (and situational awareness) tells us the world is a nasty place, because, well, it is. So what then? Is the customer is supposed to throw money at the trainer to get the negativity to stop? Not that great of a marketing pitch, IMO.

Most people don’t think like firearms trainers think, or else concealed carry rates would be at 90%, not less than 10%. So when firearms trainers try to market any advanced practical training, right off the bat, we’re marketing to a small percentage of a small percentage of the population. We (and I count myself is as well, as I’m marketing the training classes for the range as I type this) are a niche market of a niche market.

So the question is, do you market to the niche of a niche, or to the other 90%? If it’s to the niche, expect results that match your audience size. If it’s to the other 90%, why use niche language and a niche mindset?

Something to think about.

Still got the shutter bug.

Even though it’s been at least a dozen years since I tripped the the shutter for a living (and five years since my last big gig), I can still pull out a good shot or two when needed.

Did a day’s worth of shooting for the day job over the weekend, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

Naples Gun Range VIP shooting range in Florida The Alamo by Lotus Gunworks Womens shooting instruction in Naples

Gear for the shoot, if you must know, was this cheap-o Chinese lighting kit, a flex reflector and my old D70.

Oh, and gaffer’s tape, foam core and a-clamps, because let’s face it, when you get right down to it, those are more important than the camera.

No, really.

Things might have gone a bit smoother on the shoot if I had access to my old reliable Speedotrons, but hey, time (and gear) marches on. Besides, I picked up the entire new system for the price of one flash head from my old lighting kit. Granted, I now have four 200w/s monoblocks instead of 9600w/s worth of lights that can (and have) lit up a basketball arena, but what I have works for me, and that’s the way I like it.

More than just a shot.

Tam resolves to take better pictures this year, and that got me thinking about my journey as a shooter, both with a camera and gun.

I had a photo-j teacher who had the most brutal method of critiquing student’s work I’ve ever experienced. He just asked “What did you want to accomplish with this picture, and did you succeed at doing it?”

That simple question would not only crush my soul, but at the end of each critique, it would leave me utterly convinced that should I give up my goal of being a photographer and give up seeing for all eternity by stabbing out my eyes like Oedipus Rex.

But I got better at it, and eventually made a living in the photo business for 10 years (more on that later). Having to defend my photos as more than just another pretty snapshot made me think about what I was putting into each shot. Why was I taking that shot? Why was I at a given location, and what did I hope to accomplish with my photos? Thinking about the shots I wanted to get before I even loaded the camera was a trick I could use when taking still lifes, portraits or even shooting the hectic pace of a pro basketball game.

It’s also something that I now do unconsciously. Even if I’m using my iPhone, I’m looking at lighting, background and composition to make them more than just grab shots. It doesn’t detract from the photo experience, but rather, pays off in photos that I believe capture the moment and will be a keepsake forever.

Now on to guns. As I said awhile back, I don’t just go shoot to have fun anymore, I go to work on something, be it draw time or getting rifle DOPE or a Dot Torture, and I accept that fact. I take guns seriously now, and that means changing how I use them. There will come a time, though, when time/money/effort will stack the deck against me, and I won’t be able to put in the effort to improve my shooting techniques. I’ll have to just roll with that I have at that moment, and while that is scary, it is is reality.

And the reality is, I wasn’t able to put in the time and effort needed to take my photography to a level needed to make a living at it. I was a *heck* of a photo assistant (the best in town, if I do say so myself), but I chose (and it was a choice) not to put in the effort needed to make the jump to tripping the shutter for a living. I could see where photography was going post-film, and I wasn’t ready to put in the effort to make it work.

Which is ok, because my post-photography life is pretty awesome right now. Yes, comparing snapping pics to shooting a firearm is ridiculous in many ways (even Bob Capa never had to defend his life with a camera), but in any process of self-improvement, you’re going to get to a place where you reach the end of yourself and accept your limitations. Mine was that I was a good photo assistant, not a good photographer. I’ve yet to find the outer limits of my abilities as a shooter.

Should be interesting when I do.

A Year To Remember

long range AR

Wow, what a year.

Right off the bat, I want to thank everyone who stopped by the blog. There are millions of things to read out there on the internet, and I’m always humbled that people consider what I blather on about here to be worth their time.

It’s been quite a year. Being on TV. Hosting an *incredible* SHOT show party. Writing some more stuff for Shooting Illustrated. Training with Paul CarlsonTraining with Rob Pincus. Getting hired to market a gun store. Getting hired to market an even cooler gun range. Shooting rather well (for me) in a 3 Gun match. Shooting at the home of the Bianchi Cup. Shooting my first-ever precision rifle match. Shooting over 60% in a classifier. Starting a dry-fire regime to not suck as much.

Gun wise, things were quiet. I won a lower at Superstition which I turned into a dedicated precision AR (it’s that gun that leads this post), and I bought another lower and a Sig brace from my last employer that will probably turn into a 9mm AR pistol.

Meeting Bob Owens and Katie Pavlich and Chris Cheng and so many, many more cool people. Seeing this amazingly beautiful country. Seeing snow fall once more, and then having the brains to leave it behind for warmer climes. Spending Christmas afternoon on the beach. Worshipping and singing in the choir in a small-town Baptist church of 100 people and a huge mega-church of 1000. It’s been a year like no other, and thanks once again for sharing it with me.

Now, on to 2016!

A Moment of Zen. And then a few more.

First, someone else’s pic of the Naples Pier. Haven’t been there yet, as we just arrived in-town.

1 naples pier sunset 5

Secondly, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone. Because of the new job, the holidays and our urgent need to unpack our life (again), posting here will be light this week.

Our plan is to spend Christmas Eve at church, Christmas morning at the beach, and then we’re not really sure where we’ll be having Christmas dinner.

Anyone have a good recipe for Caribbean-style roasted turkey?

About that new logo

New Logo for Misfires And Light StrikesBecause I now live in Florida, I felt I needed to update the look of the blog. The old design borrowed heavily from the logo for the Arizona Coyotes, but this time, I was going for something that looked like a 50/50 mix of a Travis McGee book jacket and the Art-Deco look of Miami Vice, because Florida.

I kinda like it. Makes me feel like I’m starring in my own 80’s police drama.

Now I just need to find a good deal on a gently used 308 GTS

And yes, that is my CZ P07 in there. If only there was a way to mix in references to the 9th Symphony, Nikon FM2’s and Belgian farmhouse ales, I’d have all my favorite things showing up in my logo!