Archive for the ‘Protecting Yourself and Others’ Category
I’ve explained why it’s a good idea to carry a gun when biking. Concealing a firearm while biking is difficult and openly carrying one will certainly get you some attention, especially in Minneapolis. Since I don’t give two shits what other people think about me the latter issue doesn’t bother me so the former is of no consequence either. Still, people inevitably want to know why I’m carrying a gun while biking (usually they ask in a somewhat hysterical manner, as if what I’m doing is going to harm them in some way). My reason is simple, there are some very violent people out there:
A cyclist who’s spent the last two years delivering coffee by bike for Peace Coffee narrowly avoided a flaming Molotov cocktail tossed at him Wednesday afternoon from the 15th Avenue bridge spanning Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway.
Things tossed from the overpasses are well-known hazards to Greenway riders, said Ditlefsen. He said he knows someone who had a grocery cart tossed at them. Luckily, it missed.
Molotov cocktails and shopping carts raining from the sky? Talk about a hostile environment! I bring up these incidents because of the amount of danger they presented. Had the Molotov or the shopping car hit their intended targets it’s very likely those targets would be in the hospital or graveyard. It’s also fairly safe to assume that people willing to throw Molotov cocktails and shopping carts are cyclists have no moral issues with assault and murder. Who’s to say those individuals won’t lie in wait on the trail, knock a passing cyclists to the ground, and beat him to death? The fact that there are people willing to injure or kill cyclists is what motivates me to carry a gun on my rides.
With the amount of time police have to dedicate to expropriating wealth from the general populace in the form of traffic citations, civil forfeiture laws, and rounding up slave labor for Federal Prison Industries and Corrections Corporation of America it’s not surprising that the time they have set aside for helping people has dwindled to almost nothing. In fact the police have become so inept at protecting the people of Oakland, California that the people have finally decided to help one another directly:
OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Oakland’s crime problems have gotten so bad that some people aren’t even bothering to call the cops anymore; instead, they’re trying to solve and prevent crimes themselves.
KPIX 5 cameras caught up with a half dozen neighbors in East Oakland’s Arcadia Park neighborhood Monday as they walked the streets on the lookout for crime. The vigilance has never seemed more necessary than now; 25 homes in the neighborhood have been burglarized over the last two months alone.
In a neighborhood that has started to feel like the wild west, people have even started posting “wanted” signs.
People often get suckered into believing that the state provides protection for those living within its borders. The police aren’t required to provide protection and, in many parts of the world, people have learned that the police are almost useless when it comes to providing protection. In such cases the people end up having to find alternative methods to ensure the safety of their community. I believe we’ll see communities creating their own methods of providing protection as more police departments demonstrate their ineffectiveness.
Why would anybody need to carry a gun? Because there are demons in this world and they don’t play nice:
A Detroit woman targeted by would-be carjackers surprised them by shooting back at them.
Alaina, who asked only to be identified by her first name, said she walked out of a store at Plymouth Road and Myers Road earlier this month and was confronted by two men. One of them started shooting in an attempt to rob Alaina and steal her sport utility vehicle.
Alaina was shot and wounded. Her vehicle was hit several times, but she has a concealed pistol permit and she returned fire.
It’s amazing what raising the cost of initiating violence can do. I’m guessing those carjackers will be thinking twice before continuing their career in automotive theft.
The police are poor providers of defense and that leaves us having to provide for our own defense (yet continue to pay for the police “defense”). Many of us provide for our defense by carrying firearms but that only allows you to defend your person; when you leave your home it remains undefended. A solution for the problem of an undefended home is to work with your neighbors in mutual neighborhood defense, which is what happened here:
Police said a neighbor who has a gun carry permit spotted a burglar next door and put the man on the ground.
Officers said James Kelly Glover, 37, of 1421 Wright St., was still lying down with a handgun trained on him when they arrived at the address on Jenkins Road.
It’s unfortunate that many people in the United States don’t know their neighbors. Your neighbors can be one of the most reliable groups to rely on because of their close proximity. When you leave for vacation your neighbors can pickup your mail and keep an eye on your house. If your neighbor sees something suspicious in the neighborhood they can inform you so you can keep an eye out yourself. You can even borrow a cup of sugar from them if the need arises.
Neighbors are good to have an if you’re on good terms with them they may even stop a burglar from taking your stuff.
Minneapolis has a well developed biking culture. One cannot drive in the city without seeing numerous cyclists on each road and the city has even paved several trails exclusively for the use of bikers and pedestrians. One of the more popular trails is call the Greenway and is also known for being unsafe to travel during nighttime hours. Incidents of assault and robbery happen periodically and there has even been an incident of numerous individuals ganging up on and assaulting a cyclist.
If you’ve ever ridden the Greenway you can understand why it’s a hotspot for assaults and robberies. The trail is located at the bottom of a ditch and is secluded from nearby buildings and roads. Several bridges dot the trail, each having several cement pillars one can lay in wait behind for unsuspecting travelers. At several points the trail is notably narrow and maneuvering room is nonexistent if somebody attempts an ambush from either side. This is a crucial point to note for cyclists because any strong impact from the side means an imminent meeting between the cyclist and ground. Unlike the people driving cars on the streets above, cyclists and pedestrians lack a surrounding cage of steel, plastic, and glass to protect them from would be attackers. Another disadvantage cyclists and pedestrians have when compared to motorists is the fact that a cyclist’s and pedestrian’s ability to run away from danger vanishes once they’ve impacted the ground.
In an attempt to reduce the number of incidents on the Greenway the Midtown Greenway Tail Watch Coalition (MGTWC) was created. MGTWC is a group of volunteers that ride the trail and attempt to add extra sets of eyes on the bike trail. They’re of little help for somebody being attack though since their guidelines [PDF] specifically state that volunteers are forbidden from intervening in a situation and from carrying weapons. In other words they can watch you get your ass beaten but they can’t actually attempt to intervene without breaking MGTWC rules. The only thing MGTWC members can do, without breaking their guidelines, is call the police. Due to the way the Greenway is constructed there are only a handful of access points from the above streets and that will affect police response times. In general you’re on your own even longer on the Greenway than on the above streets.
What can a traveler of the Greenway do? There are several steps you can take to protect yourself while traveling the Greenway. First and foremost, don’t travel the Greenway after dark. Everywhere the Greenway can access the above streets can access. In Minneapolis cyclists have equal rights on the streets as automobiles so there is no reason one must use the Greenway. Lake Street parallels the Greenway and can be ridden instead. For pedestrians there are the sidewalks that line Lake Street, and there is even a bridge cyclists and pedestrian can use to cross the Lake Street/Highway 55 intersection. Unlike the Greenway, Lake Street is well lit, almost always populated, and has fewer effective ambush points. There is the additional risk of being hit by an automobile although such incidents are rare as far as I know.
Another point to consider is whether or not your should stop. One of the incidents that occurred on the Greenway on June 25th details what can happen if you stop:
9:00 a.m. on June 25th. Reports that two groups of juveniles, one group of females and one group of males, were throwing rocks at bicyclists. One 17 year old male bicyclist stopped and was surrounded by a group of youth, then assaulted and robbed of an ipod.
Don’t stop. When you stop you make yourself vulnerable and any attempt by another to make you stop could be a trap. One of your best advantages while on a bicycle is speed, you’re going to be faster than anybody on foot and if you ride regularly there is a good chance that you’re going to be faster than many of the thugs on bikes. Keep your speed up.
What happens if you’re on the ground? At this point things become very dangerous because it’s likely that you’ve been injured from the fall. Just because you’re down doesn’t mean your out though. Even if you’re knocked off of your bike there are still several things you can do to protect your person. Krav Maga Minneapolis teaches self-defense classes aimed specifically at cyclists. I can’t testify to the effectiveness of such classes as I’ve never taken one but I’ve seen the class recommended by several cyclists so it’s something to look into. It’s also a good idea to carry some kind of defensive spray while riding a bike. Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray is useful for deterring both two legged and four legged (and there are four legged critter running around) attackers and is light enough to not make the weight weenies cry too much.
Let us also remember that Minnesota is a shall-issue state. If you apply for a permit to carry, pass the required class, and aren’t a prohibited person the state must issue you a permit. I can hear a few people reading this article going, “A gun? Where the Hell am I going to conceal a gun when I’m on a bike?” Worry not readers! Not only is Minnesota a shall-issue state but once you have a permit you can legally carry a gun openly. This is what I do. If you see a man on a red and black 29er mountain bike with a Glock 30SF strapped to his hip it’s probably me (feel free to say hi). Minneapolis isn’t very friendly towards open carry and people who see you openly carrying a gun on the Greenway are likely to call the police and the police are likely to stop and harass you. Don’t let them intimidate you, the state of Minnesota has preemption on gun laws and local municipalities cannot prohibit carry or forms of carry. They may bully you with the hopes of getting you to stop carrying a gun but there is no reason for you to submit to such antics, they have no legal ground to stand on. You can kindly inform them that if they were doing the job they promised to do you wouldn’t need to carry a gun so they can get you to stop if they can guarantee no further attacks will happen in the future (and deliver on that guarantee).
A firearm is the most effective means of defending yourself once you’re on the ground. Martial arts are effective if you’re assailed by one unarmed individual and not severely injured from the fall. OC spray is also limited in the number of attackers and it can deal with and carries the risk of not actually deterring your attackers. A firearm can be operated from the ground, in many states of injury (even if one of your arms is broken), and can engage multiple attackers. On top of that, if the number of people openly carrying on the Greenway increased dramatically it’s quite possible the number of attacks would decrease as well. Nothing deters a criminal like armed individuals.
I know the traditional cyclist culture and the traditional gun culture often clash but that shouldn’t be the case. Gun rights activists urge people to legally arm themselves, especially if they’re vulnerable to attack, and cyclists are vulnerable to attack, especially if they travel the Greenway.
As the old saying goes, never bring a knife to a gun fight. Thankfully some criminals do bring knives to gun fights, which makes them much easier to stop:
A citizen with a gun stopped a knife wielding man as he began stabbing people Thursday evening at the downtown Salt Lake City Smith’s store.
Espinoza says, the knife wielding man seriously injured two people. “There is blood all over. One got stabbed in the stomach and got stabbed in the head and held his hands and got stabbed all over the arms.”
Then, before the suspect could find another victim – a citizen with a gun stopped the madness. “A guy pulled gun on him and told him to drop his weapon or he would shoot him. So, he dropped his weapon and the people from Smith’s grabbed him.”
It’s nice to see that the good guy was not only able to end the situation but was able to do so without firing a shot. Many self-defense cases involving armed individuals end without the need to employ the arm beyond presentation. Criminals often look for easy victims and surrender upon the first indication of armed resistance, something advocates of gun control usually fail to take into consideration.
On an unrelated side note I found the following line in the story armusing:
Police say the suspect purchased a knife inside the store and then turned it into a weapon.
How does one turn a knife into a weapon? I think a knife fits the description of a weapon no matter how you look at it.
It isn’t always the case that no good deed goes unpunished, sometimes people get away with doing the right thing:
The 71-year-old Florida man who fired his gun at two men trying to rob a crowded Internet café will not face criminal charges, an assistant state attorney general told FoxNews.com
Bill Gladson, the attorney, said he reviewed the security video from the Palms Internet café in central Florida.
The video shows patron Samuel Williams pulling a handgun and shooting. He continues firing while the suspects fall over each other as they run out the door.
Gladson said in the memo Williams’ use of force was lawful under Florida’s statutes regarding individuals rights to use deadly force when resisting a forcible felony, like a robbery.
Although a rare sight, it’s nice to see the justice system actually deliver justice. There is no reason that a man should face punishment for firing on armed aggressors. Some people have pointed out that one of the suspects claimed his firearm was nonfunctional:
‘The gun was broken and rusty and wasn’t loaded. Nobody was going to get hurt,’ he told the paper; the plan was to ‘barge in, get the money and leave.’
He said that neither of the two teens ever ‘expected anyone to be armed.’
Just as the teens didn’t expect anybody to be armed the man who fired on them didn’t expect their guns to be nonfunctional. When you initiate force you can’t expect to blame anybody who defends themselves because you didn’t really mean it. It should surprise nobody that a negative correlation exists between the number of lawful armed individuals and violent crime. The teens in this story admitted that they didn’t expect anybody to be armed, they thought the risk of robbing the Internet cafe was very low compared to the potential reward. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for everybody else, the teens’ risk assessment was wrong and they met armed resistance.
As the number of armed individuals increases the risk of aggressing also increases. Since every action is a risk/reward assessment increasing the number of armed individuals can effectively lower violent crime, since the risk of being hurt or killed while perpetuating a violent crime becomes too high.
When the Zimmerman case first came to light many people demanding his head were using the fact Martin was unarmed as proof that Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense was false. The implication these people made was that unarmed teenagers can’t be a threat. Jay over at MArooned has a story that demonstrates the potential lethality of unarmed teenagers:
Three teens accused of attacking a man in a West Rogers Park alley and posting video of the fatal beating online were allegedly playing a game called “pick ‘em out and knock ‘em out.”
Prosecutors said the defendants were playing a game called “pick ‘em out, and knock ’em out,” in which they identify a random victim and beat him with their fists, then rob him.
They are accused of killing 62-year-old Delfino Mora, as he was collecting cans in an alley behind the 6300 block of North Artesian Avenue last Tuesday, trying to make some money for his family of 12 children.
In this case three unarmed teenagers; ages 16, 17, and 18 years-old; killed a 62 year-old man. The fact somebody is unarmed doesn’t mean they are unable to cause great bodily harm or death, especially when they’re in groups.
Even though I live in the Twin Cities area I avoid going into Minneapolis. I’m not a fan of big cities and even less of a fan of big cities where there’s nowhere to park. It looks like my decision to avoid the city has been the right now:
After several years of declines, violent crime downtown has risen dramatically this year, according to police statistics. Rape cases have risen 32 percent, with 41 cases reported this year through June 18, compared to 31 in the same time frame this year. Aggravated assault cases are up 22 percent. Robberies are also up 118 percent in that time period.
I’m not terribly surprised by this increase. The gun control zealots will obviously blame the sharp increase on the carry permit law in Minnesota but the real issue is likely one of economics. Unemployment continues to increase and as people get more desperate they turn to more violent means of fulfilling their wants. The sharp increase in robberies makes nothing but sense to me considering the current economic climate.
Fortunately Minnesota is a shall-issue state so anybody who isn’t a prohibited person can get a carry permit. I’ve been advocating people get carry permits and this story is an example of why. When crimes such as rape and aggravated assault are increasing you should also consider a means of self-defense.
I do a lot of biking in my free time. Whether I’m riding on roads or mountain bike trails I always have my Glock 30SF on my hip. Concealing a weapon while riding a biking isn’t very easy, I make the half-assed attempt by pulling my shirt over the Serpa holster I carry the gun in but needless to say people notice it once in a while and then they ask why I feel the need to carry a gun while biking. This is why:
This morning, journalist Jeremy Iggers was one of at least three victims violently attacked by six young thugs on the Midtown Greenway, a walking/biking path that runs through an old railroad right-of-way a couple blocks off of Lake Street.
Iggers and another biker were hit by thrown rocks; the other biker was beaten, and a third was robbed (it’s not clear if he was also injured). He writes about it here:
The Greenway has long been a favorite location for muggers, and it’s little wonder. The Greenway is a convenient conduit that brings innocent victims directly to criminal actors, in a straight-line tunnel with few or no avenues of escape, in the convenience of their own neighborhoods.
I end up using the Greenway periodically as it’s the quickest bike trail between my home and many parts of Minneapolis. There are numerous blind spots where attackers can get the jump on bikers. The Minneapolis Police Department supposedly has cops on bikes patrolling the Greenway but I’ve never actually seen one so I believe that claim almost as much as I believe claims of unicorns existing. For the most part those on biking trails are on their own. You can’t always avoid danger but you can equip yourself to have a better chance of surviving it.
Concealing a firearm while you’re riding a bike isn’t easy but, so long as you have a carry permit, Minnesota is an open and concealed carry state. If you ride a bike, have a carry permit, and want to carry a firearm, and aren’t doing so because you can’t figure out a good method of concealing the firearm don’t worry about it and carry your firearm. It’s better to potentially make others on the trail uncomfortable than to face multiple violent thugs unarmed.