Brian’s Comment and Response

The following comment from Brian in reference to “Gun Control Debate: Part Two,” was long enough and thoughtful enough that I think it deserves a whole post. His comment and my response are below:

In part 2, you state, “It is easy to miss; even more so under stress.” Yet, a few paragraphs later, you more-or-less state that it’s pretty much acceptable for the collateral damage done to innocent bystanders. Yes, police officers ARE trained/qualified. The same holds true to many concealed carry holders. However, with the exception of those permit holders who have been former military who have ACTIVELY seen combat, and those law enforcement members who have been in an ACTIVE shooting situation, I think it’s safe to assume that anyone with a concealed handgun would be scared shitless, in a situation such as this. Take Aurora for example… the shooter entered a darkened theater, used tear gas (or smoke canisters), was wearing some body armor and used an AR-15 clone, with a 100 rd drum magazine (more on that in a bit). Imagine the sheer chaos in this environment. I’ve got friends who said “Well, if I was there, I WOULD’VE shot him, myself.” The point is simply this: no one can truly say how they would react in such a situation. The “flight or fight” mechanism is a real thing. If someone were capable of the rational thought process needed to actually pull their own handgun is one thing. Being able to accurately level it and get off a “kill shot” against someone unarmed and unarmored is something else. Doing the same against someone in the above scenario is another thing entirely different, altogether. What happens if the permit holder kills innocents, in the process, and doesn’t stop the shooter? I would think that’s manslaughter, at the least. Again, no one can say how they’d react in this scenario. As you said, most of these terrible events are over with, as soon as they start. Is that enough time to thoroughly process the information at hand and react accordingly?

I can see the merits of your argument for 30 rd magazines, even if it’s something I don’t agree with. To me, there is no practical purpose of such items. However, what argument can be made for 100 rd drum magazines? Granted, the way I understand it, there is a certain brand of them, that are crap, and are prone to jamming (the Aurora shooter’s 100 rd drum jammed, reportedly). However, I cannot find anyone to tell me the practical considerations of owning these (or 30 rd magazines, as well). The best argument someone gave me, was that recreational shooters like the idea (concerning 30 rds) of target shooting, without the need for constantly having to reload. Okay, I can see the economic standpoint of this. At the same time, however, I wonder about the financial feasibility of shooting 100 or 30 rounds at a time, versus only shooting 5.

Not many people understand the sheer damage that a .223/5.56 bullet can do to soft tissue. The 5.56 bullet was originally designed to tumble, ever so slightly. The effect this has on entering soft tissue, at a velocity of around 3000 ft/s is nothing short of devastating. Even without the tumbling effect, the higher velocity, alone, caused cavitation in the soft tissues. This is just as bad. In contrast, the 7.62×39 (lower velocity and without the tumbling) produces a more through and through type wound. I have never been in combat, however I’ve worked in EMS for 21 years, and I’ve seen the effects of close-range shootings done by a 5.56mm round. My point is, that the vast majority of people (I assume) have not seen the results of something like this. It’s easy to say “well, that happened in Colorado” or “well, Conneticut is so far away from here”. What happens if someone who’s anti-gun control had to look at the autopsy photographs of a 7 year old, with multiple GSWs done by this round?

That’s not to say we shouldn’t do away with all .223/5.56 guns and ammunition and only allow 7.62, .308, .30-30, or .30-06. However, the vast majority of the firearms (in the civilian market) are used as hunting rifles. The majority of these hunting rifles have a capacity of 6+/- rounds. Why do we limit ourselves to the number of rounds in a bolt action hunting rifle, and not in a modern semi-automatic sporting rifle (the correct term for the ambiguously used “assault rifle)?

I used to own a post-ban Norinco Mak-90. This rifle came with a 5 rd box magazine, and I later purchased a 30 round magazines. I admit, this gun was very fun to shoot. I also had no qualms about filling out the paperwork (circa 1995?) and submitting to a background check. Had I purchased this rifle at a gun show, and not a licensed dealer, I would have expected to pass the same scrutiny.

I don’t want anyone to lose their guns. However, I am perplexed as to why people aren’t keen on more thorough background checks and limiting magazine capacity. Some argue that it’s nothing more that getting added to a national gun registry. So? If they’ve ever bought a firearm at a licensed dealer, then they’re ALREADY on any supposed registry. If they’re only buying from private citizens, or gun shows, then what do they have to hide?? Others actually DO claim that they want to be able to defend “when the guvment comes to take mah gunz” (as much as you disagree with this, personally). One of my friends is fond of saying “you can’t weed out stupid”, and he may be right. More inclusive background checks won’t necessarily stop the drunk guy from showing off his prized .40 Glock to his buddies, at a party, and ending up shooting one of them. Nor will it necessarily stop the 8 y/o from accidentally shooting his younger sister. It’s also entirely conceivable that they wouldn’t keep another one of the 52 mass shootings perpetrated since 1982, from happening again.


What if it DID? Just one shooting stopped from ever taking place? Just one. Isn’t that worth it?

I fully realize that my argument is more about being pro-background check, yet I still dwell a lot on magazine capacity. I understand that someone can carry ten 5rd magazines and still do a terrible amount of damage. However, if we can focus on a) stopping certain people from getting guns, and b) have a better system of helping those who need it, then I believe that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Thank for reading this and taking the time to form such a comprehensive response to some of my points. If reasonable people cannot reasonably discuss basic ideas, then humanity is sunk. Hopefully, I can bring you a little closer to my point of view. If not, there is still value in the conversation:

In response to your first point: I think that irrespective of previous combat, anyone engaged in a fight for their life is going to be scared shitless. That is the nature of humanity and survival. The important point is that being scared to death and being able to function are not mutually exclusive. Some of the ability to function under pressure is personality driven, but most of it is performance based. Performance is based on training. As I said in part three: just because almost everyone CAN legally bear arms in public does not mean that everyone SHOULD bear arms. Training to carry a firearm means preparation for possible life and death scenarios. The tactical variables that you cite in reference to Aurora are: darkness, smoke, gunfire, an unknown number of assailants, and the perpetrator wearing body armor. All of these factors sound like normal training scenarios to me. Violent assaults often happen at night, in the dark. Gunfire or other loud noises and smoke are almost a given in a gunfight and one can never be sure of the number of assailants in any given situation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped to provide the military with body armor undreamt of by previous generations. An unforeseen consequence of this proliferation of protective equipment is that it has become readily available to everyday criminals. The citizen’s response to body armor is the same as the citizen’s response to any target that does not react to gunfire: the failure drill. For the un-initiated, the failure drill is two shots to the chest and one to the head; repeated as necessary. This technique is not easy to execute but it is also not as hard as some would pretend. Mrs. Blackshepherd, Momma Blackshepherd, and Papa Blackshepherd, who has bad arthritis, all do it quite regularly during training. Some claim that the shooting of moving targets under duress is all but impossible. Not true at all, it just takes practice beforehand. Shoot moving targets during practice. Practice under stress. Know your limitations.

In the Aurora situation the public was dealing with a man that had committed to die, was wearing body armor and armed with a rifle in public. He had specifically chosen a gun-free zone as location of his attack. At most he could expect one, maybe two, civilians armed with concealable pistols. In fact there were none. Had you been there what do you THINK you would do?

People carrying deadly weapons in public are expected to know their own limitations. Learning your personal limitations only comes with training. Gunfights do not happen at noon, on the street, between two people who have agreed upon a mutual combat. If someone spends all of their training time on the seven meter-line, in the daytime, shooting at single, stationary, paper targets then perhaps they should reconsider the nature of violent conflicts and worst case scenarios.

Please see the recent shootout between the Boston Police and the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. Reports indicate that over 300 rounds were exchanged; the vast majority were fired by the Boston PD. Many of them missed wildly, even going so far as to penetrate the second story windows of surrounding houses. See here:

However, what I wrote concerning the ability for anyone to miss their target under stress, and potential collateral damage, was not a hole in my argument. Yes, it is possible for anyone to miss under stress. Yes, those misses could result in the injury or death of bystanders. However, in the unlikely scenario that many have cited, a mass shooter who is indiscriminately killing others, I believe that the chance is worth the risk. See the links above. Would anyone have wanted the Boston police to NOT take those shots?

As I previously stated, I do not know what I would do in an active shooter scenario, there are too many tactical variables. But I always want the option. By that, I mean that I want to be legally carrying a gun. This gives me the option to draw, to shoot, or not. Disarming the responsible, law-abiding citizen is not going to make any situation better. An armed citizen, choosing not to shoot, will not change the situation. An armed citizen engaging an active shooter is likely going to slow them down and at best injure or kill them; stopping the attack entirely. Many mass shooters have killed themselves at the first sign of opposition, also ending the attack.

If my family was in the room I would want the armed citizen to take their shot. Even if they do not hit the attacker.  Even if they hit me in the background. People may escape with their lives because of the chance that armed citizen has taken. The only other option is for people to cower and die. If I should ever happen to be the armed citizen that missed, I would be happy to explain why my trained, well-aimed, and deliberate gun-fire; directed at a madman, was preferred to the continued execution of innocents.

In reference to 100-round drum magazines; I do not know any professionals that use them because they do not work. If mass-shooters are going to buy them, I hope that they remain legal and that they continue to result in type-III (very hard to correct) weapons malfunctions.

I believe that I made my point concerning 30-round magazines. They have nothing to do with having fun on the range.  The founding fathers of this country, backed up by the Supreme Court, intended for the citizenry of the United States to own militia weapons. The militia weapon of today is the AR-15, loaded with a 30-round magazine. If these weapons are not suitable for self-defense, take them away from the federal, state, and local, law-enforcement agencies that issue them. Standard-capacity magazines are also excellent for self-defense; especially for those that have difficulty manipulating weapons. Those that are willing to violate the law would have no issue acquiring or manufacturing such magazines. Do not take them from the hands of the law-abiding.

You seem to insinuate that 5.56mm/.223cal rounds inflict more damage to people than 7.62mm/.30cal rounds. I appreciate your service as an EMT but this argument does not hold up in real life. I am not going to get into ballistics just yet. I want people who have never fired a gun to be able to follow the conversation. However, the main causation of permanent cavitation in a bullet wound is the size of the round. A .30cal is bigger than a .223. Therefore it makes a bigger hole. The bottom line is that all bullets can tumble, regardless of their initial size. I have seen some gnarly entrance and exit wounds caused by everything from small caliber pistol rounds to legitimately high-powered rifle rounds. Getting shot with a rifle, any rifle, is just not going to be a good day for anyone. There is no death-ray caliber. If there were, it would certainly not be .223.

For shooting humans in a gunfight, given the choice between a 7.62mm/.30 cal rifle and a 5.56mm/.223cal rifle, nine times out of ten I am going to choose the 7.62/.30 cal. As long as these guns are AR-10/SCAR/M-14, variants they are going to be my weapon of choice. People shot with these caliber weapons typically drop like a puppet with its strings cut.  However, I am an unusually large and strong man. Recoil with standard rifles is a negligible factor to me. A .30 caliber battle-rifle often makes no sense for use in a home-defense scenario where over-penetration is an issue. Shooting a bad guy but potentially blowing a hole in my neighbor’s house is good for no one. Battle-rifles also make no sense for home defense when it may be me, or it may be my 115pd wife, behind the gun. Mrs. Blackshepherd shoots very well but I prefer that she be holding an AR-15 with a stock collapsible  to her small stature and a 30-round magazine containing appropriate home defense ammunition, and nothing larger, if things ever go really badly.

No child should ever be shot by anything, ever. I am aware that it does happen, I have seen it up close and personally. The deliberate, violent, death of children is unconscionable. Caliber does not matter, guns are not the issue, and evil exists in the world. Good men must oppose it at every turn. In my experience, evil men do not give a shit about good men that are unarmed. Gun-up and be a shepherd, not a sheep. If you cannot be a shepherd by vocation, be a black sheep by choice; one that is armed and trained. I am absolutely going to discuss this topic later.

We limit the number of rounds in a deer-rifle for sporting reasons and because the deer don’t shoot back. Criminals and tyrannical governments do. The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting. Enough said.

I am going to address background checks in a future posting. At this point it looks like it may be part 5 or even part 6. I promise you that I will try to answer all of your concerns. You may not care for my answers but I will provide them.

I agree with your buddy, one cannot fix stupid. Living in freedom is messy, annoying, and sometimes dangerous. Free people do unpredictable things at inconvenient times. Sometimes free people do stupid things and others suffer. I still believe that the unpredictability of being free is better than the alternative. More on that later also.

Maybe you misunderstood what I wrote in part three. I never said that I disagree with the idea that some within in the government want to take citizen’s guns. In fact, part four of this series is all about that idea. I said that revolution in the current Unites States should only be discussed soberly and solemnly. I hope that I made the point that it should be discussed. If not, my writing is not as clear as I intended and I need to re-address the subject. The opposition of tyranny is the raison d’etre of the 2nd Amendment.

Your final question is one that I have planned to answer for months. I will get to it in part 5 or 6 of this series. You basically asked: “If we could stop one mass shooting wouldn’t it be worth it.”

The short answer is: NO!

The rights of 315,000,000 Americans to defend their families, lives, and property from criminals and tyranny should not be bartered away based upon the potential actions of madmen.

For what it is worth I agree with you about keeping the wrong people away from guns. Crazy people and guns do not mix. I am not a psychiatrist but I do have extensive experience with people that have psychiatric problems. I have dealt with the medical/legal system and have even had people involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions.  That is not a fun process. I will address this in future posts but I absolutely believe that people with unaddressed mental illness can be dangerous. Conversely, armed and law-abiding citizens are a stabilizing factor within society.

Brian, I appreciate the thoughtful and deliberate way you have posed your concerns. If you feel that I have not adequately addressed your concerns or you have counterpoints please post them and I will share them. I started this blog to have this conversation.

If you are ever in the Colorado Springs area please get in touch. I would love to take you to the range. Ammo is on me.

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