I don’t get it…

While eating dinner with neighbors Thursday evening, we observed numerous Tucson police cars driving by with lights and sirens going. After we left, we observed the SWAT van rolling in the same direction, followed shortly thereafter by a couple more police cars and what appeared to be a mobile command unit. Since I’m no longer getting paid to run toward dangerous situations (and as our apartments are located in the opposite direction), we didn’t personally investigate the situation.
According to the Tucson Citizen, the TPD SWAT’s M113 armored personnel carrier was also summoned.
Why, you might ask?
Well, from what I can make out (information is spotty, as the police have cordoned off a large area, and won’t allow anyone, including journalists, in or out), one guy has holed up in a house. He claims to be armed, and he is known to be a “prohibited person” and is prohibited by law from owning guns. The reason for his prohibition is not yet known, nor is the reason why he decided to hole up. No shots have yet been fired.
This whole situation seems a bit unusual to me. Here’s what puzzles me:

  • It’s one guy, alone, in a town house. Why, exactly, do we need a brazillion cops, SWAT, and an APC? (One of the pictures at the Citizen shows an unhelmeted, regular cop standing in front of the APC, presumably directing its driver. SWAT officers are shown standing on top of it. Clearly, they’re not advancing under withering incoming fire.) Is this guy some sort of bionic superman?
  • Why not just surround the building, turn off the power, water, and gas and wait a few hours for him to get bored of sitting in the dark? Maybe toss in a telephone or something so he can announce when he’s ready to surrender.
  • Why are the SWAT guys wearing woodland camo uniforms? There are no forests for some distance from here, and certainly none in the middle of Tucson. Level IV armor over regular police uniforms should be perfectly suitable, if not fancy. Cheaper, too.
  • Why does TPD have an APC? It doesn’t really hold any tactical purpose, except to be a bullet magnet (and anyone shooting at it can be nailed by a police marksman) and look cool on TV. While the cops distract the bad guys up front, can’t SWAT come in from the side or back doors?

After a few years in the military, I can’t really imagine any sort of realistic (or even semi-realistic) scenario where an APC would be required by police anywhere. The only remotely possible situation that comes to mind is a rare scenario like the LA riots where an APC could provide mobile shelter for riot police, mobile storage for munitions (tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.) and supplies, and a mobile strongpoint for police to rally around as they disperse the mobs of people. Somehow, I don’t really see that happening here in Tucson…or if it did, just call in the National Guard.
Honestly, I don’t get it. The whole situation seems like a huge overreaction, particularly with the APC involved. What could an individual possible do that would warrant such a massive response?
Hopefully more information will be available on Friday.
UPDATE: According to the police (as reported by the Citizen), the suspect had a record of drugs and weapons offenses. He was evidently also a heavy meth user. The police showed up to arrest him when he barricaded himself inside. The suspect killed himself early this morning.

Gunfight in Tucson, Police Officer Critically Wounded

Story here. The TPD officer who was shot in the head with a rifle is not doing well, and is not expected to live. Two Pima County Sheriff’s deputies also received relatively minor gunshot wounds.
This is a terrible tragedy. My sincere thoughts and best wishes go out to the wounded officer and his family.
The only good thing that can be said is that the suspect is in custody and will have his day in court, as opposed to having escaped and be at large.
Details about the specific type of weapons used in the gunfight and found in the suspect’s vehicle are not immediately available, though several news organizations suggest the primary weapon involved was an “assault rifle”. Considering the media’s lack of knowledge of firearms-related topics, this term could very well mean “any gun at all”.
More information as I get it. If anyone here was a witness to the events or has additional details, please contact me.
UPDATE: Officer Hite succumbed to his wounds at the hospital, reports the Tucson Citizen. The suspect has been re-booked on first degree murder charges. The two sheriff’s deputies who were wounded were released from the hospital today as well, so there’s some good news.

Open Offer to the Media

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many media outlets (newspapers, TV/radio stations, etc.) have made several factual errors when reporting on firearms.
While some of these errors are fairly minor and hardly worth mentioning, several have been incorrect in critical ways.
For example, many news outlets reported that the sunset of the 1994-2004 federal “assault weapons ban” (“AWB”) would result in new machine guns being legal for private citizens to purchase. This is not true; the AWB did not apply to machine guns (which are regulated under a separate law created in 1934 and which remains in effect), but many of the guns that were restricted under the AWB have a similar appearance to machine guns, hence the confusion.
Incorrect reporting of such facts can result in uninformed and/or misinformed decisions by the citizenry and legislatures, which can seriously affect millions of American citizens and businesses.
Thus, in the interest of providing accurate, non-biased information to the public, I make the following offer to any and all media organizations, large or small, wherever they exist in the world*:
At no financial cost, I will…

  • Provide verifiable facts relating to the technical aspects of firearms, ammunition, and related topics.
  • Provide verifiable facts relating to existing or certain pending acts of legislation relating to firearms in the United States.
  • Provide referrals to experts and/or other verifiable sources on firearm-related topics that I am unable to accurately comment about.
  • Review pre- and post-published articles, scripts, reports, and other similar things for accuracy as it relates to firearm-related topics.
  • Provide on-air commentary or interviews (via telephone) on firearm-related topics, so long as I am given a list of questions/topics ahead of time so I can prepare a suitable response. (This specific point may be limited by my availability, so please contact me ahead to schedule such a time.)

To take advantage of this offer, simply contact me within a reasonable period (I recommend at least a day or two at the bare minimum) before your deadline with any questions you might have. If, during the course of discussion, more questions or issues arise, I will be glad to assist you with those as well.
* While I welcome inquiries from around the world, I regret that I can only communicate in the English language.

Brendan O’Neill on Charlton Heston

Brendan O’Neill writes in the Guardian:

“From great actor and progressive campaigner to reactionary old fart who loved guns: everyone agrees it was a tragic fall from grace. But did Heston really make a dramatic political u-turn? Actually, no. From the 1950s to the 1990s, he remained rather consistent in his commitment to upholding America’s freedoms. It was his liberal critics in the gun control lobby on the east coast and in trendy parts of LA who changed their tune, and made a mad swing from liberalism to authoritarianism.
How gun control came to be seen as a liberal cause is one of life’s great mysteries. In both the US and across Europe, fully paid-up lefties and progressives will tell you with pride, even pomposity, that the American authorities ought to disarm their populace and ban guns.
What a turnaround. Demanding gun control has traditionally been the preserve of reactionary, even racist elements in American society. Up until the 1980s, gun control was mostly a conservative campaign, driven by a conviction amongst right-leaning activists, politicians and lawmakers that ordinary people, especially those of the non-white variety, could not possibly be trusted with guns. Only the state, they believed, should have the right to use fatal physical force.”

Hat tip to David Hardy.