Last week a psychiatric patient at Mass General Hospital was shot dead by an off-duty security guard after attacking his doctor with a knife. The security guard has been legally cleared for now as acting in self defense and is heralded as a hero.

I was not there, and do not know exactly what happened. Reports the security guard heard screams from the doctors office, thought she was being beaten, and burst in. When he saw the man had a knife, drew his firearm and told the man to drop the knife. The man reportedly lunged at him, he shot the man twice.

First, sympathies go out to the family of the man who was killed. It sounds like he had psychiatric issues, and surely this is a tragedy for them. If this incident happened as reported, the security guard most likely acted heroically and saved lives.

What burns me a bit is that the family’s lawyers are now questioning if the man could have been subdued, or if the man had to have been shot twice (wasn’t one bullet enough). This is why lawyers are so popular these days. They are trying to drum up controversy where there is none in order to increase their billable hours and/or create an opening for a civil suit.

Let’s be clear about this: Firearms are lethal weapons. There is only one thing you are doing when you purposefully fire them at someone - you are to kill them. A knife is also a lethal weapon, when threatened with a knife  - this is lethal force and it frequently requires a lethal response to survive.

Only in really bad movies does someone shoot  a gun out of someone else’s hand with a pistol, or aim for the leg. Trained people instinctively aim for center mass, under the stress of a lethal threat, this is the area you are most likely to hit. You shoot until the person is no longer a threat, a frequently this is more than once.

To the point of self defense - if this doctor had to wait for someone to call the police, and for the police to respond, she (and perhaps others) would most likely be dead. Again, the police are great, but they can’t be everywhere.

Licensed, law abiding citizens carrying firearms may be our first and only line of defense against such acts. Recently several men have been charged with terrorist plots against crowded targets (such as malls) with automatic weapons. I can’t imagine how a terrifying act like that might play out, but I do know that nothing would stop it short of the terrorists being killed or running out of ammo.

Israel has seen attacks against school buses by terrorists with automatic firearms stopped by legally armed civilians.

The only effect of criminalizing self defense is to increase crime. The UK’s draconian self-defense and weapons carry laws have led to a giant spike in violent crime. After the mayor of Boston announced having the toughest gun laws in the nation, shootings went up over 60%.

The main benefactors of laws restricting self defense are criminals,

Category : news | self defense | Blog

Recently, a woman was attacked and robbed while walking alone around midnight on the Esplanade in Boston. The Esplanade, for those not familiar, is a pedestrian area running along the Charles river which is accessible by a number of footbridges. This is not the first such attack - I remember  numerous attacks going back to the early nineties when I first moved to Boston.

The Esplanade is, in my opinion, a mugger’s dream. Lots of places to hide, route to escape by, and spots to lie in wait and make sure no police are around when you attack. It’s a known sleeping place for the homeless who sometimes gather under the bridges.

Many people feel safe there because, during the day, there are large crowds of people. The Esplanade also abuts an affluent neighborhood.


Category : news | self defense | Blog

Here’s a great article from the UK highlighting violent crime statistics.

Here’s the rundown - the UK has more violent crime per capita than any country in the EU, the U.S. , or even the ultra-violent South Africa. This in a country which has banned almost all firearms, knives, and weapons of any kind. Now crime statistics can be misleading as reporting standards differ, but the folks in the UK I have talked to think there is a growing problem.

The anti-gun crowd likes to point to the U.K. as a shining example of a country that has less gun crime than the US.

Here are a few important points to remember:

  • Getting murdered is bad no matter what weapon
  • Licensed gun owners in the US actually commit very few gun crimes - most are committed with illegally gotten firearms
  • In many localities, weapons bans or restriction actually correlate strngly with a rapid increase in violence with the type of weapon banned (stabbings  in London went up around 70% when knives were banned, gun crimes in Boston, MA went up around 70% after the Mayor announced increased restrictions
  • Criminals are less likely to attack when they think it is likely they will get hurt, killed, or caught
  • There is actual research that  shows counties in the US that have the most liberal concealed carry permit laws have less crime - see the reason above.
  • All crime has multiple causes - people don’t commit crimes merely because they own weapons, there are economic, social, political and other reasons that are not addressed by weapons bans alone.
  • No matter how good the police are at their job, they cannot stand there protecting you 24 hours a day. Average response time to 911 calls vary - but in most areas are measured in minutes - not seconds. The only person who can keep you safe is you.
  • Illegal or not, murderers can get weapons.
  • Strangely, people who aren’t dissuaded by the laws and social norms opposed to murder, also don’t care so much about laws preventing them from carrying weapons.
  • Virtually all spree shootings take place in government designated “no-gun” zones such as schools and post offices
  • Lawful uses of firearms in the US  prevent thousands of crimes a year.

The simple truth is this: there is absolutely zero evidence that weapons bans make society safer in first world countries.

Every time there is well publicized shooting or stabbing, there arises a senitiment that, “if only people didn’t have guns and knives this never would have happened”. That simply isn’t true, and it is an oversimplification that makes lazy thinkers feel better.

In interest of full disclosure, I am not a gun owner - but that is my choice. I have a collection of knives that I use for utility, sport, display, and training.  In the future, if I feel my family’s safety would be enhanced, I would like to have the option to get a license to lawfully carry a firearm. As a law-abiding citizen who has never even gotten a speeding ticket.

There is an irrational fear of weapons in many societies, which runs counter to a rational respect for real danger. Freud calls the irrational fear of weapons (hoplophobia) -  “a sign of retarded emotional and sexual maturity.”

Category : news | Blog

I was saddened today to learn of the death of actor and martial artist David Carradine. Carradine, 72, was apparently found dead in a Bangkok hotel where he had been staying while shooting a film.

Initial stories and rumors (suicide, murder, accident) are already flying around the net as one might expect from the passing of such a celebrity. Regardless of details, his passing is a tragedy.

Carradine was one amongst a  handful of actors, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris etc. who really popularized martial arts in the United States. He, of course, is best known as Kwai Chang Caine in the Kung Fu Series.  Most recently, fans got to enjoy his acting skills in the Kill Bill franchise.

He was a legend who became a proponent of the martial arts, Eastern medicine, and philosophy. My heart goes out to his family and friends,

Category : news | Blog