Sunday, November 18, 2012

Seriously? Seriously?

Re: The Sonny Puzikas incident in Texas... (That's the one where the tactical instructor and alleged Spetznaz vet rolled into a dark shoothouse, guns hot and no flashlight, and treated one of his assistant instructors like he was made out of brown cardboard. The guy is expected to live but has several extra holes for the nonce.)

In comments at Caleb's blog some people, whom I have to assume are some variety of Puzikas nuthuggers and therefore can't believe anything bad of the guy, are trying to hang the blame on someone other than the dude who pulled the trigger; in this case, on some fictional "RSO". Says one commenter who signs himself 'Sid':
Some of the comments upstream get my blood boiling. The shooter cannot know what he does not know. He was a shooter, not the RSO. He obviously did not know that 2 individuals had entered a hot range. The individuals walked into a hot range without clearing with RSO.
Prayers go out to the injured person. Yes. But stop with the 4 Rules sermon.
"Four Rules Sermon"?

Brethren and Sistern, there is an obvious lack of sufficient sermonizing here, so let me turn to the Book of Armaments, Chapter Four, Verse One: "Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Beyond It." There is no codicil that says "Unless you're in a shoot house," or "Unless you're going really fast."

It’s not okay to shoot your fellow range patrons EVEN… and I’d like to make this perfectly clear… EVEN IF THE RSO SAYS IT’S COOL.


Alan J. said...

"But...but...but...RSO!" Frickin morons, would they still be saying that if someone's kid had run out into the shooting house to play 'guns' with Daddy?

Yes, the RSO is there for safety, but anyone who thinks that alleviates their need to also act safely is an irresponsible idiot, and one who shouldn't be handling firearms.

Unknown said...

What Alan said.

wandering wastrel said...

Responsibility for what is done with a gun lies in the same hands that the gun is in, and nowhere else.

Hmm... perhaps that's why so many anti-gunners are anti-gun -- they can't spread any blame around to others when they screw up.

Tam said...

wandering wastrel,

"Hmm... perhaps that's why so many anti-gunners are anti-gun -- they can't spread any blame around to others when they screw up."

I'd chip in to fund that study.

the swimmer said...

I attended a course in Phoenix on advanced rifle techniques when Sonny was working for an unamed school. I left about half way through the first day. Between the owner of the school and Sonny the weight of egos floating around left very little room for basic safety.
The school owner when asked for a refund stated "Your percieved problem with safety is your problem not mine!"
This was after being flagged at the firing line several times by an instructor who seemed to belive it was no big deal to point the sharp end of an AK at me and others and when I called him on it stated and I quote "Don't worry it's not loaded."
I think you know the school Tam.

Joel said...

Sonny has accepted full responsibility. The other instructor was not supposed to be there.

He takes full responsibility for the fact that the guy he shot wasn't supposed to be there? Geez, stop helping the guy.

Full disclosure, the only thing I know about Sonny Puzikas is that dumb video clip where he's firing a pistol forward and an AK off to the left, pulling the trigger with his thumb or something. That probably looks really badass to anyone under 15 years old, but it told me everything I wanted to know about signing up for that school.

Joel's prediction for 2013: The next "tactical" safety kerfuffle will involve that guy who likes to do somersaults. And maybe it'll even make a few people wise up about all these "big boy rules" shooting schools that've made Cooper so uneasy in his grave.



Anonymous said...

The fanbois feel obligated to defend him at all costs because it's hard to find out your hero has feet of clay.

I wonder in that second Sonny rolled into the room and pulled the trigger if he saw the guys standing there and pulled the trigger anyhow. Three hits (and if there were any misses) is a lot of pulling after your eyes have seen what's in front of you.

There could just as easily been two dead bodies in that room, and at best Sonny P would be up for two charges of involuntary manslaughter, or even negligent homicide. How do you defend that? Maybe Sonny's marksmanship saved him a stretch in Huntsville.

St Paul

Robert Fowler said...

" But stop with the 4 Rules sermon."

As soon as you quit preaching the 4 rules, bad things happen. I drill my grandsons on them all the time. Even the one that's a Marine.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago a shooter wounded an RSO at the NTI in the 360 shoot house. As I recall he took full responsibility for the incident. It was a bad stage design but he knew he was at fault.

I have SO'd lots of night matches and shoot houses and it is my job to make sure the range is clear before letting the shooter proceed.
This does not absolve the shooter of clearly identifying his/her target before engaging it.

Blazing away at unidentified targets is not even permissible in combat these days because it leads to blue on blue casualties.

The shooter can't know what he doesn't know is just a Rumsfledian cop out.


Sean D Sorrentino said...

Haven't you been saying for years that some chiropodist would get his kidneys blown out his navel by the stranger behind him? You never anticipated that it would be the instructors shooting each other.

I guess that Sonny is more of a do-it-yourself kind of instructor. His ego is so big he won't even let the students shoot each other even after they paid so much money.

What a ripoff.

Tam said...

Sean D Sorrentino,

"You never anticipated that it would be the instructors shooting each other."

Sadly, they managed to exceed my wildest expectations.

AuricTech said...

The shooter cannot know what he does not know.

Sure he can, through the simple method of going to look before beginning the scenario.

He was a shooter, not the RSO.

That's funny; every time I went to the range in the Army, the safety briefing always included a statement to the effect that everyone on the range is a safety officer. Perhaps such an attitude doesn't sit well with those who play by Big Boy rules....

eiaftinfo said...

Sadly I think the primary cause here is a bad case of "instructor ego". Any time you enter the "high speed, low drag" world, you need to take into consideration the purpose for the instructor being there. Is he truly there to teach you a new skill set, or is he there to flex his ego.

I'm kinda leanin' towards Sonny and the whole "flexin'" thing . . .

A perfect example of instructors to take a pass on . . . .


Travis Brown said...

It's all fun and games until you're wearing your buddy's cranial spaghetti. People don't take safety seriously enough.

Larry said...

A perfect example of instructors to take a pass on . . . .

I first read that as, "A perfect example of instructors to take a piss on . . . ."

That works, too.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Funny. I've never considered the Four Rules a Sermon.

I KNOW they're Commandments.

Oh, and a Codicil to the Four Commandments?

Your Finger, Your Responsibility.

pax said...

Fortunately, there are more good instructors out there than bad ones. It isn't even hard to tell the difference. Just listen to what they say on their videos or read their websites. The ones who blow off safety in any way -- those are the ones to avoid.

"Seemingly obsessive concern with safety is the mark of the firearms professional." (NRA Director Mike Baker, quote found in Mas Ayoob's Combat Handgunnery)

Kristophr said...

the swimmer:

If they were playing by real "big boy's rules", the instructor who kept sweeping people with an AK would have been butt-stroked, and made to to pushups while bleeding and concussed.

Before the military became politically correct, immediate violent correction was always applied to morons who pointed muzzles at others without permission.

Did you pay via credit card? Or maybe consider a small claims court filing?

I think a Texas judge would look favorably on skinning some moron who expects to be paid for covering students with an AK muzzle.

Scott J said...

Don't know if this adds measurably to the discussion but I make my son observe the 4 rules with his nerd gun and BB gun.

Made me beam with pride yesterday as he was pointing out safe backstop while setting up a can and some plastic bottles to plink at.

He just turned 7 a couple months back.

KM said...

Scott, when he corrects you, you will know that Grasshopper has evolved from student to practitioner. :)
Good job!

Lewis said...

In Soviet special forces, instructor shoots you!

Too early?

Priest said...

Interesting, this is the first I heard of it. I'm always curious to see what comes out of these things, and what lessons can be learned.

I hopped on Sonny's FB page and saw this:

"In light of what happened this past Sunday night.
Due to assumptions and not taking all steps I could have taken that may have prevented the tragedy, my good friend and amazing human being Gene Smithson was severely injured during a live fire training.
Gene is in the hospital in Dallas recovering from his injuries. All I ask for is for your prayers and support for Gene during this trying time and then during lenghty recovery process.
All responsibility for what happened lies with me and nobody else. I will do my best to support Gene and his loved ones, his school for as long as needed.
Sonny Puzikas" This was on 7 NOV

Shortly afterwards, posted on 13 NOV was:

Detailed account, mistakes made, lessons learned. Coming soon."

While I think that this accident was a tragedy (I'm not going to jump on either side until full details come out from several sources), I applaud Sonny for taking personal responsibility and not hiding behind his fandom.

Scott J said...

That should have been NERF gun above. Daddy is the nerd. Unfortunately it seems the boy is going to follow in those footsteps too.

His OCD makes mine look mild :)

Larry said...

"His ego is so big he won't even let the students shoot each other even after they paid so much money."


markm said...

I wonder how much of the problem is his Spetznaz (or at least Russian military) background. In military action, there are situations where hesitating long enough to identify your target is fatal - and if anyone trains their guys to shoot first even at risk of friendly-fire casualties, it would be the Russkys. If you don't believe that they figure they can lose a few men, look at the Mosin-Nagant half-cocked "safety".

Erin Palette said...


Is rifle. Is nyet safe.

Justthisguy said...

That there are people like that in the world is one of the reasons why I try never to leave the house unless I am out of necessities, like food, and alcohol, and tobacco,and must replenish my supplies.

Joel said...

Justthisguy -

I wouldn't go quite that far...

Jennifer said...

Ok, so he is training people on a method where they can clear a house. Most likely their own where people they probably don't want to put holes in live. Right? So shouldn't you maybe kinda sorta want to confirm what your shooting at? Perhaps?

Windy Wilson said...

What Jennifer said. Back before cars came in colors besides black, I took driver education. I was told to not wreck the car trying to avoid dogs or other small animals, but on the other hand, if it was possible, PRACTICE avoiding dogs and other small animals because you will want to be able to avoid hitting small children. Sonny may not have particularly cared about hitting the people he shot, but they were worthwhile practice for if he needs to clear his own house and wants to avoid hitting small children (ostensibly his own) who will likely be in the house with him at the time.

JohninMd.(help) said...

Alcohol, tobbaco & guns - who's bringin' the chips and dip? Always said BATFE should be a convienice store, not a .gov agency.....

SpeakerTweaker said...

There is no codicil that says "Unless you're in a shoot house," or "Unless you're going really fast."

Don't forget the universal modifier for All Things Safety. Everything we know about booger hooks and bang switches and knowing the Gods-be-damned target goeth right out the window when (say it with me) Big Boy Rules Apply.

You know, when I hear that phrase, I want to punch the mouth that uttered it. I shouldn't, though. Dude's liable to jerk his heater and shoot his three buddies in retaliation.

Anonymous said...

Having been a drill coordinator for a few years back in my days in the fleet... when the choice was "drill safety" vs. "drill realism" we ALWAYS chose the former.

Rule #1 when conducting drills.... Murphey's army is out to get you... so you have to make allowance that everything that can go wrong will in fact, probably go wrong.

That was our"big boy rules"


Geodkyt said...

Way back when, in high school, we had one JROTC cadet (underclassman) point his 1903 directly at another one's head (senior in charge of the formation) and work the bolt.

The senior had just got back from Basic training a few weeks before (Split Op program for reservists -- Basic between Junior & Senior HS years, finish AIT after graduation)

Senior cadet buttstroked the offending underclassman (luckily, badly, as he didn't cave in his skull -- smacked him with the flat like a paddle, not the steel-shod toe to the temple).

Administration went ballistic, until the 2IC of the JROTC program (a Command Master Sergeant who retired around 1970, and who had been a Regular Army corpral on 7 Dec 1941) and the head of the Physics department (also the school wrestling coach, and an Inchon Marine) pointed out the seriousness of the violation of basic gun safety.

Justthisguy said...

Heh, Geod, my Dad told me a Springfield buttstroke story, too, from when he was a kid.

It seems that when one was in Junior ROTC back in the early '30s of the previous century, he was allowed to take his inert 1903 home to clean and polish it. Dad was doing so, and offered a ride by a stranger, which he accepted.

It turned out that the driver of the car fancied boys my Dad's age. Rather than asking politely and elliptically, or something, he just made a grab for Dad.

Now, cars must have been bigger inside in those days, because Dad was able to hoick the Springfield around and give the guy the between-the-legs buttstroke. That was sufficient to make the guy stop the car, but not so nasty as to cause him to run it into a tree. Nicely calculated on Dad's part.

I think it's ok to use force to repel unwanted rude sexual advances. Now, a _polite_ unwanted sexual advance deserves a clear, polite, loud "NO." If that doesn't work, well, stronger methods may be required, and I would allow them, if I were on the jury.

Rob Paige said...

Any idea what has happened to Sonny? Charges pressed??

Tam said...

Rob Paige,

"Any idea what has happened to Sonny? Charges pressed??"

Not so far as I know.

IANAL, but there doesn't seem to be anything actually criminal here, although I'd imagine that the shootee has a hell of a civil claim should he decide to press it.

Geodkyt said...

Yeah, unless they have a seriously painful "depraved indifference" standard in that jurisdiction, I don't see much of a criminal case.

You could try to make the case that his negligence was so severe as to make "assault with a deadly weapon" a stretch, but since the guy didn't die, it's hard to prove any kind of mens rea for an assault or "malicious wounding" charge to stick, as unlike manslaughter type charges, they usually require some intent to do something reasonably foreseable as harmful.

Civil case is a slam dunk, "don't bother going to the restroom during jury deliberations" kind of case.

markm said...

JustThisGuy: "Now, cars must have been bigger inside in those days, because Dad was able to hoick the Springfield around and give the guy the between-the-legs buttstroke."

Cars were bigger on the inside before they added padding and airbags everywhere. Many of them were bigger on the outside, too, until the Arabs got together in 1973 and ran the price of gasoline up from 25-35 cents per gallon to over $1.00. (And $1.00 back then was worth more than $4.00 today). CAFE standards and mileage ratings on the window stickers all started in the 70's, as did most of the safety features and pollution controls.

Even further back, the rooflines were much higher because men wore hats until JFK demonstrated that going hatless outdoors didn't actually cause death from heatstroke or exposure. (Possibly it turned him into an a**hole, but I think that was a congenital condition, judging by his relatives.) So I suspect it was a 1950's car, that allowed plenty of vertical room for swinging a Springfield in a buttstroke.

Tam said...

Or perhaps the story was, you know, less than entirely factual. ;)