Hardware solutions to software problems

Several times, I have been pointed to an article about a cop who decided he needed to carry a lot more ammo on the job. The story is an excellent example of having the answers right in front of you and then ignoring them. While I don’t disagree with the idea of having plenty of ammo, it wasn’t the real solution to the problem in his case.

The nitty gritty of the story is that a cop got into an extended shootout with a determined attacker. The shootout went on for quite a while with a lot of spraying and praying on both sides. Eventually, the cop shot the suspect in the head and the situation was over.

As the incident progressed, he figured out that the answer to his problem was a software solution.

Then I told myself, ‘Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.’

My mother used to frequently comment about life in general, “If you don’t take the time to do it right in the first place, what makes you think you’ll have the time to do it over?” That’s a good commentary about situations like the one the officer encountered.

In retrospect, the officer mentioned that there were also other software solutions available. “ ‘I didn’t have time to think of backing up or even ramming him,’ Gramins said. ‘I see the gun and I engage.’ ” I’ve never put it on a timer but I bet that stepping on the gas pedal is faster than drawing from a security holster while seat belted in a car. Just recently a police officer proved the efficacy of this solution.  As Massad Ayoob said many years ago, “What is a car to a pedestrian? A multi-ton high speed battering ram.”

But the officer’s overall conclusion about his experience was a hardware solution, i.e., ‘Be ready to do a bunch of spraying and praying’ by carrying 145 rounds of ammo on his person. His conclusion doesn’t follow from his self-evaluation of the solution to his problem. Perhaps, despite being a “master firearms instructor [I’m not sure what that means] and a sniper on his department’s Tactical Intervention Unit” he needs to learn to shoot a handgun on demand in a way that gets good results.

He did draw one conclusion I agree with, to wit: the mighty .45 ACP isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The officer switched from carrying a Glock .45 to a Glock 9mm. He’s not the first police officer I know of who has drawn that conclusion after a gunfight.

In one of the incidents my colleague Tom Givens describes in the DVD Lessons from the Street, the citizen came to the conclusion that he needed a larger caliber pistol. My analysis in that case was similar to the solution the author of the story about the police officer’s situation drew, “Practice head shots.”

head shots

I often see people draw erroneous conclusions from their experiences. While we think about ‘the fog of war’ as occurring during the battle, it often sets in afterward, too.

13 responses

  1. I hope you don’t mind me using your Mom’s quote:

    “If you don’t take the time to do it right in the first place, what makes you think you’ll have the time to do it over?”

    True words of wisdom.

  2. Reblogged this on Growing Up Guns and commented:
    The story Claude is referencing is the gun-world parable usually told in defensive/fighting pistol classes to convince the students to carry one or two spare magazines daily. The story is spun in such a way that they ignore the point that Claude points out, “Then I told myself, ‘Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.’” So then instructors are telling students, in relaying the story, to learn from this cop and carry more ammo which will allow them to shoot more. I think Claude is spot on to say that we should instead ‘shoot better’. For most people, as we’ve talked about, carrying 2 magazines or a back up gun is impractical and totally unrealistic. What isn’t unrealistic, however, is practicing and skill building. Skill doesn’t take up more room on your belt, and having more of it won’t get you made in a non-permissive environment.

    1. “Skill doesn’t take up more room on your belt, and having more of it won’t get you made in a non-permissive environment.”


      1. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. 🙂

    2. Although I agree a lot with what you said, there is such a thing as malfunctions. I’m not in the desert anymore so the likelihood of needing a lot of ammo is very slim but I have had magazines go bad with no warning, luckily it was in training. If that happens in a real fight, and no spare is available, cancel Christmas.

      1. John, what was the weapon you had a magazine go bad with?

      2. That’s a good point. If you have the space, it makes sense. I wouldn’t say you shouldn’t carry a spare, just that it might be over played in many cases, and might discourage people from carry all together if they think they need all that gear. I have a spare mag in a redimag on my home defense rifle for that reason.

  3. I have a friend who followed up on this. Only one of the “hits” from the officers fire was an 8″ circle high in the chest. Many of the other “hits” would not have been in the FBI Q-Target (aka Milk Bottle). The incident reinforces to me, that unless you hit them somewhere really vital, [w]hether they stop fighting is up to them, not you.

  4. I agree that training is the most important aspect. However, what if there were two or three guys he needed to stop? They don’t take points off if you have ammo left after the situation is over. More training and more ammo is needed.

    1. Jim Cirillo took out three men in his first gunfight with six shots from a S&W Model 10 at ranges of up to 25 yards on partial targets and with innocents downrange. What enabled him to do that was a high degree of skill.

      Many people criticize PPC as a form of training but Jimmy credited his practice at PPC for being able to pull off those shots. Granted, he was a hell of a guy, too, and all of us who knew him miss him. And he could really shoot.

      I agree that more ammo is better than less but it’s not a substitute for skill.

  5. Steve Charles

    Reblogged this on Concealed Carry Lifestyle.

  6. I had read this article before but I am ashamed to write that had nearly the same conclusion as that officer: carry more ammo. However, my second conclusion was to get more training. Lots of talk about how they can get themselves into a training class every other month and I wonder, “How the heck are they doing that?” I run a busy office which often means working weekends and evenings. Classes here in NY are scarce and expensive as is everything related to firearms (just add 10% to ammo and gun prices from other parts of the USA).
    What is has come down to is I have stopped looking at gear and now save my money for range ammo and a decent class nearby. Hopefully, I can get into one before the year is out.

    1. We hear the same comment regarding finding time to train here in the Seattle area. And, now that summer is upon us here in the northwest, many people are busy with outdoor projects, etc. So, we decided to offer an alternative to those 1-2 day weekend classes. We now offer an 8 hour class, split into 4, 2 hour sessions. One, 2 hour session each week for 4 weeks. Most people can commit to two hours per week for training. So far, the response has been very positive. The students attending the first trial classes provided feedback that indicated they preferred the extra time between classes to process and practice the skills learned each week. And, we had the opportunity to assign homework, such as additional reading or dry fire drills. The outcome was better than expected. Maybe some one in your area would be interested in trying a similar program.

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