Tuesday, October 05, 2010

You are likely to be mugged by a grue.

I'm about to sound like a whiny hippie for a moment, so bear with me:

Why does the internet want to shoot people so badly?

Seriously. In nearly every internet gun forum, you'll find people spinning these fantasy "What if?" scenarios:

What if you're at the mall and a bunch of guys with ski-masks come barging in with AK-47s yelling "Allahu ahkbar!"? What do you do?

What if you're in a convenience store and some meth-head
(apparently handily identified by a floating label reading "meth-head" and an arrow) comes in and sticks a gun in the cashier's face? What do you do?

What if you're at home and a bunch of gang bangers mistake your house for that of a rival and cross your property line and start yelling threats and waving their cheap .25's and TEC-9's? What do you do?
And when you reply with things like "I run like hell," or "I keep quiet and try to be a good witness," or "I call the police," or "I don't think the Trey Deuce Crips know anybody in my subdivision," then they try and craft even less ambiguous scenarios like
What if you walk into your daughter's bedroom and there's that escaped axe murderer that you just saw on America's Most Wanted and he's standing over her bed with the axe raised? What do you do?
and they don't want to hear "I don't have a daughter," or "Why didn't my burglar alarm go off?", they want to have a discussion involving brand names of guns and whether you carry spare magazines and weights of bullets and suchlike.

And this completely baffled me and I was ready to ignore it and go back to playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on my Nintendo DS when it hit me: All this is, is a text-adventure first-person-shooter. Zork meets Counterstrike. Bored guys on the night shift with a bit of keyboard time and touch of Walter Mitty. And suddenly it all made sense.


Alan said...

There is a lot of that going around these days.

Anonymous said...

You have just cracked the gun culture code!

Shootin' Buddy

Lewis said...

I'll never forget the day. I was, as usual, carrying my Les Baer 1911, backed up with a 3" Colt Cobra. I had a couple of spare magazines---Wilsons, you'll understand, and they were loaded with Golden Sabers, but I didn't have a spare speedloader for my little D-frame. Oh, the D-frame was full of Remington's version of the FBI load, the 158 LSWC-HP +P.

I was minding my own business when a vanload of Iranian fundamentalists attacked me, like my name was Doc Brown or something. I swear, they spilled out of that van like it was a clown car: a whole fire team of dedicated, hard-core Shia hitters looking for martyrdom!

What happened next?

Oh, they killed me.

So now, I know to look out for hard-core Shia hitters, as well as stobor.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Well, yeah. So is gun blogging, to some degree. Partly.

What else is the appeal for first person shooters and the topic of guns? They are fun.

Can it be distilled even more?

Ok: They hold our interest.

They help the binary of our existence. Leisure is filled with bored/not-bored. Most of our lives are leisure. So life is a binary or bored/not-bored (really. how many waking hours of consicious thought are you devoting to rent and food and not being eaten by wolves? and ALL unconscious thought is bent toward stuff that holds your interest...)

Tam said...


"There is a lot of that going around these days."

No, that has always been going around. I can guarantee that long before there was an internet, Cletus was asking Zed "So, if a buncha injuns came a whoopin' through that door right now, what would you do?"

McVee said...

I read yesterday that the most dangerous neighborhood in mordor (rated by who? Your local Realtor?) was an area intersected by lake and damen. An area I drive through regularly. At that precise moment I entered the world of Walter Mitty.
Then again, every time I enter mordor I play the what if game.

staghounds said...

Compare this with the seas of ink and barrels of electrons spilled in discussion of professional sports, where not one of the contributors even pretends that he might one day find himself in an actual game.

Or the fantasy world chatterers, whose entire universe of subject doesn't even exist.

Some gun nuts actually HAVE engaged in armed self defence.

At least they, like people who read romance literature, have a slight chance that they might personally experience some variant of the things of which they speak.

Tam said...

"At least they, like people who read romance literature, have a slight chance that they might personally experience some variant of the things of which they speak."

Have I mentioned how much I look forward to your comments? That was a gem. :D

Borepatch said...

You are in a maze of twisty gun lanes, all alike ...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Fantasy always tops reality, hence porn versus dates, indoors versus outdoors.....

Al T.

Unknown said...

Shoot the hostage. Take him out of the equation.

Bram said...

What happens if I’m sitting at home and Progressive Communists take over the country? The local commissar is knocking on my door to inform me that my backyard is now a collective farm and my house is now the workers’ housing building?

I worry more about that scenario than Crips and MS-13 shooting it out in the cornfields of northwest NJ. There should be a video game with this scenario - call it Counterrevolution.

Anonymous said...

What I always love is the guys who will go to weekend ninja school (or, even, someplace reputable) and train until their hearts almost explode because they've admitted in another thread they need to drop some lbs ("What would you recommend to conceal a SIS .45 in an IWB holster, plus two spare mags? I am 5'7", 350lbs")

If they admit to 350, they must be 400. Maybe they should stop at ye Olde Country Buffet after every other range trip, rather than every time. And how about walking from the far end of the parking lot to get to the door?

Heart disease, diabetes and strokes kill a lot more people than convenience store holdups, because preventing them isn't sexy or tacticool, but it's probably a lot more important. Get some exercise people; I know I need to.

St Paul

Frank W. James said...

How about if you're in your combine (when it actually RUNS) and up pops a coyote in the soybeans you're cutting? How fast can you get out of the cab? Off the combine? Draw and fire and hit said Mr. Coyote who is now somewhere around a 100 yards away and increasing the distance at serious rate of speed?

Don't have a farm? Nor a combine, either? Don't even have a field of over-ripe soybeans?

Then never mind, just go back to your Game Boy and I'll continue wrestling with a machine that refuses to work the way it should while keeping an eye for something to kill with my blaster as some sort of revenge on the karma scale of late...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Tam said...


With the weather lately, I'm especially glad I don't have a soybean field. :o

I hope your mechanical troubles end soon.

Munitions & Miscellania said...

There is a certain gun forum or three that are plagued by that 'what would you do,' type questions.

It is followed closely behind by the 'it happened to me,' which is often either implausible the way it was told or reveals very poor judgement:

'I was at home on the Internet at 2am when there was a knock at my door. I wasn't expecting anyone. So I put my gun belt on under my bathrobe and grabbed my AR and made my way down the stairs AND OPENED THE DOOR. (commentary, why are you opening Expletive door if you don't know who it is and have some obvious concerns, especially since this is a major way that home invasions happen?). It turned out to be nothing, but it got me to thinking if the guy jumped me I would have had a problem racking a round in the chamber-maybe I should keep a round in the chamber'

Then there's the 'which gun should I buy' that they post just for conversation when you know they are not about to buy either of them--often comparing really expensive, hard to get guns: "I can't decide whether tho buy an Accuracy International .338 Lapua or Sako TRG .300 mag . . ."

I wonder if people on porn boards post, "okay, you are watching a porn film being shot and shot and you get called to substitute for Ron Jeremy because he didn't come back from the all you can eat buffet, do you take viagra or . . ."

Billy Jack said...

Your insight is spot on. Years ago when I was excited to read the gun blogs and forums I realized that something strange permeated them. This super aggressive childish commentary turned me totally off. I've argued time and again for rational thinking but have been rebuffed every time. Anyway it has now crossed over to the numerous TV shows covering tactical this and tactical that. Every crisis scenario involves shooting, reloading and shooting more. Even the formerly enjoyable hunting shows have transformed into screaming and shouting at the kill and almost foaming at the mouth (ala Nugent). Sad commentary on American gun culture.

Au├čenseiter said...


It may be that text adventure/FPS, but maybe it's also partly the about the male desire to do something heroic. Be exceptional. Most people hold down jobs they don't like and which give them no sense of fulfillment.

Nothing wrong with fantasizing about doing something exceptional, but publishing your fantasies should be restricted to those who can write, like that John Ringo guy.

Don't tell me that's not Walter Mitty literature...

Laughingdog said...

If a grue jumps me, it's going to regret it. I never go anywhere without my trusty Infocom .45, 3 spare magazines, and a Phobos 9mm for a backup.

If things get really nasty...well then there's the towel and a cup of tea.

Tango Juliet said...

I am fully prepared to run away screaming like a little girl everywhere I go.

All my weekend tactical ninja courses have taught me that's almost always the best course of action.

Anonymous said...

Ever since I left "those" types of gunboards and went to M4Carbine.net and Lightfighter, I've encountered a whole hell of a lot less scenario threads like that. There may be the occasional legal thread, or thread about an actual "encounter" or whatnot, but in general it's a whole lot less.

These sites also have a lot more very technical threads concerning weapons, gear, and tactics, which is very attractive to my inner engineer.

Tam said...

Anon 9:59,

I find those sites interesting, but have no particular inclination to join, not being much of a door-kicker or operator.

I understand the LE & military mindset, having worked mostly around cops and .mil types all my life, but beginning shooters can be quite put off by being told to shut up and stay in their lane; not all forums can be all things to all people.

pax said...


Lots of fantasy "wanna be a hero" stuff out there, but I don't think that drives all of it. (Just 95%...)

I think that some of it -- a small part -- is driven by newcomers to self defense who have a social need to hear from others that there really are some circumstances where it's actually okay to use their firearms to defend themselves. When these people write a scenario it sounds incredibly contrived, clearly designed to preclude all other possible answers. This is because these folks aren't setting out a situational puzzle to be solved. They are not looking for solutions, but for permission. Learning that it's okay to defend themselves using lethal force "if necessary" is too vague for some people. These guys don't want the bare rules, they want a concrete scene they can visualize.

That would explain the guy who posts one or two such scenarios, then goes on with his life. But someone who posts a jillion of 'em? Just call him Mr. Mitty.

Steve Skubinna said...

"Dear Penthouse Forum, I recently had an experience I'd like to share with your readers. I was cleaning my Les Bauer .45 when the doorbell rang..."

Thomas said...

My favorite from Men in Black......

[In a shooting range, confronted with numerous menacing-looking targets, Edwards shoots a cardboard little girl]

Zed: May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?

James Edwards: Well, she was the only one that actually seemed dangerous at the time, sir.

Zed: How'd you come to that conclusion?

James Edwards: Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hanging from the street light, and I realized, y'know, he's just working out. I mean, how would I feel if somebody come runnin' in the gym and bust me in my ass while I'm on the treadmill?

Then I saw this snarling beast guy, and I noticed he had a tissue in his hand, and I'm realizing, y'know, he's not snarling, he's sneezing. Y'know, ain't no real threat there.

Then I saw little Tiffany. I'm thinking, y'know, eight-year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters, this time of night with quantum physics books? She about to start some shit, Zed. She's about eight years old, those books are WAY too advanced for her.

If you ask me, I'd say she's up to something.

And to be honest, I'd appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it.


James Edwards: Or do I owe her an apology?

Robert McDonald said...

It's harmless fun, for the most part. Who doesn't want to kill bad guys in some spectacularly heroic fashion, if only in their mind's eye?

BangBangMedic said...

I do the same type of thing with medical scenarios, so it's not limited to the gun culture...or maybe the gun culture is linking up with my profession. I can be sitting in church thinking to myself, "What will I do if the padre drops right now?"

Probably far more likely than a shooting, stateside at least...

Tam said...


"...or maybe the gun culture is linking up with my profession."

The profusion of courses in the emergency treatment of gunshot wounds being offered to layfolk these days makes me happy.

I just wish more people would take them, but considering how difficult it is to get someone to attend Handgun I, I don't think it'll be likely.

In our world, possession equals competence: The ability to use something comes in the box when you pay for it, whether it's a pistol or a first aid kit.

Tango Juliet said...

In our world, possession equals competence: The ability to use something comes in the box when you pay for it, whether it's a pistol or a first aid kit.

Which is really why I so bent out of shape when I see Handgun I referred to as "Weekend Ninja Courses."

Sarah said...

Well, you know, just because I live outside even the unincorporated jurisdiction of a one-stoplight town doesn't mean that MS-13 gangbangers won't show up at the local Wally World with chrome AKs and Mac 10s. You gotta be prepared if you expect to survive the mean, hard streets of The Sticks, Texas.

(And yes, this means that I've bought decent running shoes and have perfected my girly scream.)

Joel said...

It's harmless fun, for the most part. Who doesn't want to kill bad guys in some spectacularly heroic fashion, if only in their mind's eye?

Sure, I agree. When I was a kid - well, a "kid", you know - having graduated to a centerfire pistol and EBR, I loved my fantasies. And they were usually pretty harmless fantasies. Okay, there was that time I nearly shot myself in the foot playing quick-draw, but hey! I missed. And there was nobody around to see it.

But then I grew up. The thing that turns me off about the kind of gun forum threads Tam describes isn't that the participants are wargaming Walter Mitty fantasies, but that they really don't seem to know that's what they're doing. They think this game is real.

Weer'd Beard said...

'All this is, is a text-adventure first-person-shooter. Zork meets Counterstrike."

if you code it, I will play it!

Oh and I will thank you for coding it, but I will point out it sucks compared to Nethack.

Weer'd Beard said...


Seen this?

GuardDuck said...

I've always got a kick out of (kick as in a groan and roll of my eyes) these types when attending or teaching some sort of gun course. There is always one in every class.

As you've said, they always contrive some sort of very specific and mostly unlikely scenario.

This in normally followed up by the very professional instructor type replying in non-specific ways using good legal sounding language that if - "in that specific scenario you may decide that your life is in danger and no retreat is appropriate, and you may have to use lethal force in defense of your life."

That is until I heard same type of dood bring up same type of scenario while attending a class taught by Jim Cirillo(rip).

In case you'd never heard of Jim, he was a retired NYPD officer turned gun-writer/trainer.

Jim was what you would call 'blunt-spoken' and spoke in a very, very think New Yawk accent.

His reply to the unlikely scenario du jour was a simple "well, I guess I'd just pull out my gat and cap his ass".

Refreshing reply.

The Freeholder said...

You have identified one of the two primary reason why I stopped going to Internet gun fora.

If I have a technical question, I consult Google. If it leads me to a forum, I read only the thread that contains my question.

I refuse to be pulled back into the muck. I have better things to do with my time.

Unknown said...

And now I reminisce about when video games didn't even have graphics but were still cool. . .

And yeah, I don't like the role play 24 stuff either. After actions aren't so bad though, when the venue and roles were chosen by a really real scumbag, and the good guy lived to tell the tale. Those can be quite helpful.

Montie said...


Running these little fantasy scenarios to your on-line buddies as you describe, can, I'm sure, be entertaining and/or self-satisfying. I have to say though that running these types of what-if games in your head have been an accepted part of police survival training for years.

What sucks though, is being MADE to do the what-if game at the start of EVERY shift with your whole squad. Yes, we have to have a "tactical briefing" every day with a different scenario, be it one we have recently dealt with or one somebody thinks up. It's just no fun when you HAVE to do it and take it seriously.

OF course we do this periodically on a large scale with what are called "tabletop exercises" which involve mutible personnel from multiple agencies playing the what if game. Not that these things don't help in figuring out response problems and inter-agency operability and communication problems BEFORE the SHTF.

Oleg Volk said...

Some of that attitude is the reaction to the other extreme ("nothing is worth ending a human life, so you don't need your gun"). Personally, I am a tactical coward and hope to avoid the excitement.

John Stephens said...

A certain amount of it is psychological reinforcement. If you're carrying a firearm, you have to be prepared for the possibility of using it. Until you've actually been tested, you can't really be sure you'll perform well in a crisis. These little fantasies provide reassurance for the inexperienced.

Either that or they're just stroking off online.

Rabbit said...

There probably are some folks who are looking for ceramic armor plates that fit their briefcase and are rated for .338 Lapua, and double-up on their back plates. Because taking a .338 to the back is always Plan B when giving overhead cover to their S.O. while she's assembling that H&R in .300 WinMag.

Anonymous said...

Like I think you've said before...People always picture themselves being given the key to the city when the kill a mugger. Cops and citizens alike will love you, You'll be the Charles Bronson of your town.

Nobody wants to think about the possibility that the cops won't be sufficiantly convinced that your life was in danger, and then there will be a long drawn out trial with race cards possibly being pulled and listening to the mugger's grandma cry to the jury about how he was a perfect little angel and that bad man over there took mah baby away!

Not that that's any reason to not defend your life...but people seem to be reluctant to face this reality.

Stuart the Viking said...

As a (former) US Marine, I reference rule 5:

5. Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

I have to say that while some of those scenerios SEEM far fetched, occasionally they do happen. I never expected that gang members would show up anywere that I lived, until it happened. I was stationed at El Toro Marine Airbase when the whole Rodney King riots were going on. I was living in (enlisted) base housing in the appartments where many of us had small children. Our neighborhood wasn't on the base proper, so civilians could freely drive through our neighborhood without passing through a guarded gate. That day, we had exactly one car (that I saw) drive through looking for trouble. When they realized where they were and saw the number of POed Marines ready kick some serious ass and protect their familys, the bangers changed their minds and ran.

We all got a chuckle out of it.


Epsilon Given said...

First, with regards to these scenarios, I know of one self-defense website that calls people who continually ask questions like these "what-if monkeys". They indicated that these, and "martial arts pirates" (ie, people who form a "style" by stealing moves from all sorts of styles, and mashing them together at random) tend to feed off each other: "What do I do if I'm facing ninjas with machine guns?" "Just do my Super Power Move, and you will Defeat them all!"

The website also pointed out that a lot of people will ask a question like this once in a while, though--that doesn't mean they are "what-if monkeys".

"Nobody wants to think about the possibility that the cops won't be sufficiantly convinced that your life was in danger, and then there will be a long drawn out trial with race cards possibly being pulled and listening to the mugger's grandma cry to the jury about how he was a perfect little angel and that bad man over there took mah baby away!"

Sometimes, in my own what-if scenarios, I actually try to imagine what would happen to me if I got caught up in a court case, after defending my life. I'm not sure if it helps, but it may emotionally prepare me for the possibility (and help me live through it...)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dominique said...

For what it's worth, I spent a good chunk of my my boring college classes playing What If The Zombie Apocalypse Hits? (I mean, what else are calculus classes *for*, if not mentally working out if the door can be bared and if the library will be infested by the time I get there?)

NotClauswitz said...

No wonder I don't fit-in. I never played any of that.

Anonymous said...

Tam wrote:
What if you walk into your daughter's bedroom and there's that escaped axe murderer that you just saw on America's Most Wanted and he's standing over her bed with the axe raised? What do you do?

I respond:

I clock him. Then,I defenestrate him. After wards, I call the cops.

My daughter needs her sleep, so why bother waking her up, since the breaking glass didn't?

Ulises from CA

Munitions & Miscellania said...

It's not that they are asking what to do in specific scenarios, but the absurd elements they bring into their questions.

Look at the boards where these people congregate and you will see a relatively large number of threads locked for stupidity. That's a clue.

There is a wierd sociological phenomenon in that these posters seem to stick to certain boards where there are like-minded posters. You almost never see them popping up on more serious minded boards like m4carbine.net or lightfighter.

Not everyone on those two named boards are doorkickers. Far from it. But they have a low BS tolerance. It may not be nurturing, but if you don't tell some people to stay in their lane they will polute your messageboard with nonsense.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Huh. The only time I had to do a "What if scenario" for real was AFTER I shot at my Home Invader. Sure glad I read all those articles Mas Ayoob wrote back in the 70's and 80's about how to deal with the Police, the District Attorney, what to say, what not to say in court, etc. Served me much better than any Tacticool Hi-Cap Polymer Framed 19+ round JHP pistol that these guys write about.

What's that you say? What gun did I use? A Ruger 10/22. All that I had, all that I could afford, and the plain-jane wood stock version launched it's 40 grain Remington Solid just fine, even w/o a Laser, Red dot or 20 miles of Railroad track on it.

Oh, BTW, Jim Cirillo was right (Pbuh!).

Andrew said...

For any students that might imagine that capping a bad guy would be cool, I have this:


Two lives ended that night.

Arthur Buford died at 15.

A part of Damon Wells died, too.

"I was always told that taking someone's life was the greatest sin of all," he says. "I feel like my soul is on the line."

He grows quiet. He says he is worried. Worried that his own family sees him differently now. Worried that he's not safe in the community. Worried about what God will and will not forgive.

Epsilon Given said...

"For any students that might imagine that capping a bad guy would be cool, I have this:"

One of the things I learned at "The Cornered Cat" website is that it is unpredictable how we will react when we have to justifiably shoot someone, but working out certain "what-if" scenarios can potentially help. Indeed, Kathy points out that women tend to fare better, when it comes to dealing with a justified shooting, than men do--and it could be because they have to go against a gender stereotype, and have to do more work to justify it, before they start carrying a gun.

I'd like to say that Damon Wells should just get over it, but I know it's a lot more difficult to do so than to just say so. I really do hope he comes to terms with the shooting, and gets his life back together though.

I also agree with Bubblehead Les, that a lot of what you need to do when you exercise self-defense needs to happen after the shooting. I recently read a story where someone in Arizona justifiably shot someone in self-defense, and even did the right things afterward, but faced assault charges afterwards. After two hung juries, he went free--but it's important to remember that over-zealous prosecuting attorneys can be a factor in self defense!

Don said...

Oh my God.

That's so true I got a little dizzy.

benEzra said...

Oh, now you've done it. I can see it now...

"9mm or .45 for grues?"

"My PGO shotgun is the best grue gun EVAR."

"If the grue apocalypse happens, would you rather have an AK, an AR, or a battle rifle?"

Chris M said...

Tam said:
In our world, possession equals competence: The ability to use something comes in the box when you pay for it, whether it's a pistol or a first aid kit.

I got a chance to see that first hand last year at a picnic hosted by a firearms website popular in my state. It seemed as though the majority of the shooters at the falling plate range were lucky to hit one out of six plates at thirty feet. Most were shooting low and obviously flinching, pushing against the expected recoil. The majority of them were middle-age and had expensive Les Baer, Ed Brown, Kimber, etc. pistols worth at least a month's pay for me.

There was one young lady there, however, who'd come with a co-worker because she thought she'd like to shoot. I took her aside and had her dry-fire my plain Jane FEG Hi-Power for about five minutes pointing it at the berm. I emphasized concentrating on the front sight and not letting it move when the hammer fell.

I found it highly amusing to see the faces on those guys with the expensive hardware who'd been doing good to hit one plate out of six when she returned to the line and shot 24 out of 24 with that relatively inexpensive, utilitarian pistol. It was way obvious that too many had thought that they were purchasing marksmanship when they had purchased their custom pistols.

FatWhiteMan said...

We had those same conversations in grade school only it was always Indians or Red-Coats. When I got to Junior high, you couldn't find one pimple faced 8th grade boy that would let an Iranian take him hostage.

Some just never grow up. Gun forums are the new playgrounds.

Anonymous said...

I note that soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan who were involved in firefights never want to talk about it. One guy with 5 bronze star medals over 4 deployments, there's a story there...