The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Posts Tagged ‘self-defense’

Merchant Ship Guards Kill First Pirate. Predictably the Pacifists Have a Hissy

Posted by Bill Nance on March 31, 2010

Private security guards shot and killed a Somali pirate during an attack on a merchant ship off the coast of East Africa in what is believed to be the first such killing by armed contractors, the EU Naval Force spokesman said Wednesday.

The death comes amid fears that increasingly aggressive pirates and the growing use of armed private security contractors onboard vessels could fuel increased violence on the high seas. The handling of the case may have legal implications beyond the individuals involved in Tuesday’s shooting.

The guards were onboard the MV Almezaan when a pirate group approached it twice, said EU Naval Force spokesman Cmdr. John Harbour. During the second approach on the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship which is United Arab Emirates owned, there was an exchange of fire between the guards and the pirates.

An EU Naval Force frigate was dispatched to the scene and launched a helicopter that located the pirates. Seven pirates were found, including one who had died from small caliber gunshot wounds, indicating he had been shot by the contractors, said Harbour. The six remaining pirates were taken into custody.

Crews are becoming increasingly adept at repelling attacks by pirates in the dangerous waters of the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. But pirates are becoming more aggressive in response, shooting bullets and rocket-propelled grenades at ships to try to intimidate captains into stopping.

Several organizations, including the International Maritime Bureau, have expressed fears that the use of armed security contractors could encourage pirates to be more violent when taking a ship. Sailors have been hurt or killed before but this generally happens by accident or through poor health. There has only been one known execution of a hostage despite dozens of pirate hijackings.

You have GOT to be joking.

The last sentence of that article is a simple falsehood. In fact, entire ships have disappeared, crews and all, never to be heard from again. In another case I’m aware of, the entire crew was executed. Granted these cases occurred in Indonesia, but the idea that if you offer no resistance to a boarding of your vessel by pirates you are SAFER is simply astonishing in it’s naivete.

This is gun control writ large. And out on the high seas, apparently International Maritime Bureau is just like Martha Coakley: they discourage self help.  According to these geniuses, just give up, pay the ransom and you will be allowed to live with only minimal risk. So if one of these qat-chewing goatherders

blows you in half with an AK because he’s you know, a criminal who’s a cat-chewing goatherder with an AK, I guess you were just the unlucky one.

It might occur to some of you that when ships offer no resistance and warships can’t protect them, and where the ship owners will pay large ransoms every time, you have an environment which only encourages more attacks.  But that doesn’t matter as long as no one picks up a weapon to defend themselves.

This is the ugly face of modern neo-pacifism. It’s the same kind of face that goes white as a sheet at the thought of a person having a gun on them for defensive purposes.  They’re not real pacifists of course. They’re perfectly happy to let the police or military kill people. But god forbid an individual or group of individuals should protect themselves. No, they should just have the decency to die quietly.

Pacifism is unethical.  “Turn the other cheek ” is not saintly, it merely assists in tyranny.  When I refuse to defend myself or anyone else, I merely empower others to exert their will over me and others. If more than a tiny fraction of people acted like this we wouldn’t even have a country, much less a free world.

The far-left and yes, even the less than far-left, loves the idea of pacifism. The more you get toward the center, the more they’re willing to let hired killers do their dirty work (as though soldiers and police doing the killing somehow evades moral culpability on the part of those who support them). But the notion of honest people taking up arms to defend their lives from criminals horrifies them. And it’s that latter sentiment which should disgust everyone.

As pernicious as the idea of pacifism may be, the hypocrisy rampant in these neo-pacifists is particularly disturbing. There are not nor will there ever be enough soldiers/police to keep you safe from bad guys at all times. That is a fact that no rational person can even argue against. And the neo-pacifists aren’t even morally opposed to killing bad guys. So their stated goal of keeping merchant ships disarmed, or on a more personal note, keeping law abiding citizens from owning or carrying guns for self-defense, is outright evil.  They may as well come out and say it.

“Our demonstrably failed ideology is more important than your life.”

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Posted in Crime, firearms, gun control, International, Law & Order, Rants | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Reporting While Armed: The Horror!

Posted by Bill Nance on August 14, 2009

Patrick Appel links to a story about Afghan reporters who are routinely armed for self-defense.

Patrick’s selected quote:

[If] a local journo writes a story that burns a big-shot in government or the drug trade, the reporter will be looking over his or her shoulder (to say nothing of their family’s) for years to come. I don’t know any reporters who carry a gun in the US. Here, I know more than a few reporters who won’t leave the newsroom unless fully strapped.

The original story is about Afghanistan’s dangerous environment, which is hardly a surprise. But the notion that reporters might need to be armed is something that only happens in third-world pestholes is stupid beyond words.

Let me share from my personal experience since I  was a crime reporter for several years.

For a couple of decades now, any crime reporter who actually does their job, as opposed to simply taking dictation from the local police department and talking with the occasional victim, is in serious danger more than occasionally. I’m not complaining about the danger, the streets in crime infested neighborhoods are more violent places than they used to be. But that’s far truer for the residents than for reporters who don’t live there.

If you’re following the scanner, going to crime scenes, talking with neighbors and witnesses etc. in Crack Central at 3am, you’re not unlikely to be accosted by people who really really don’t want the press there asking questions and taking pictures. This is one reason why you almost never see pictures and read interviews with witnesses that were taken at the time unless they happen to be at the scene with a dozen cops around. There are plenty of places where reporters are missing good stories because they aren’t safe for an unarmed person to walk around snooping, even in broad daylight.

The reason all this is bad for newspaper readers is you miss the actual facts, which are often quite different from what the police are saying. As a reporter, you fail to get a genuine understanding not only of the event, but of trends, gang affiliations and lots of other things that give you a depth of knowledge which allows you to inform your readers about what’s going on on a larger scale. In other words, you have no perspective.

Crime sells, so reporters are always going to write about it. It’s also interesting because it’s conflict, which fascinates almost everyone on some level. But how often do you read or hear that crime levels nationally are going down, but in one district, or small subsection of a city the crime rate is 30% above the state’s?  That’s a not infrequently the case and the overall number of murders in a city can be a meaningless statistic. Many police departments don’t keep statistics by neighborhoods and the ones that do don’t share “intelligence information” (not subject to freedom of information act requests) with reporters. If you live in Chicago, the murders in one or two sections may make up 50% of the city’s total. That indicates one area has a crime problem, not the city as a whole.  But reporters who just report blood and take dictation from the cops will never grasp that very important fact.

So if you’re going out there and hustling and taking a few risks (it’s still 10 times safer than being a steelworker) it’s prudent to be armed. I was able to avoid a serious confrontation or assault simply by warning several gang members that I was armed. Who knows how many problems this saved me with other people they talked to.  Criminals don’t like to mess with people who are armed and ready to defend themselves.  Absent a very good reason (like being a rival gang member) they leave you alone.

So I know it’s taking a different tangent from the story Appel linked, but I think the point remains a valid one. That the writer in question doesn’t know any reporters in the ‘States who carry speaks to American reporter’s timidity and hoplophobia, not just that Afghanistan is a dangerous place. I mean seriously, we already knew Afghanistan was dangerous didn’t we?

Posted in afghanistan, Crime, firearms, hoplophobia, International, Journalism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More piracy: It’s time to let people defend themselves

Posted by Bill Nance on December 2, 2008

Yet another incident of piracy:

NAIROBI, Kenya – Pirates chased and shot at a U.S. cruise liner with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel as it sailed along a corridor patrolled by international warships, a maritime official said Tuesday.

The liner, carrying 656 international passengers and 399 crew members, was sailing through the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden on Sunday when it encountered six bandits in two speedboats, said Noel Choong who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The pirates fired at the passenger liner but the larger boat was faster than the pirates’ vessels, Choong said.

This could have been very bad indeed. In case you don’t know how bad, you might want to remember what happened on the Achille Lauro.

The U.S. Navy and the very small navies of the rest of the world cannot patrol everywhere. It’s not even remotely possible. After all, this incident took place in a relatively small part of the world’s waterways where there is already a very substantial anti-piracy naval presence.

While piracy off the coast of Somalia has recently received a lot of attention, it’s far from the only place where this occurs.

Wherever there is grinding poverty, access to weapons and easy access to shipping lanes, piracy is becoming increasingly prevalent and there is simply no way the navies of the industrialized world can patrol everywhere.

The answer here is clear. Ships must be allowed to arm themselves and have crew with some ship-defense training.

This is a lot easier to do than the opponents might think. First of all, while most sailors have no desire to become soldiers, they would probably be happy to undergo a few days of ship-board training rather than risk being murdered on the high seas.

This is more important when you factor in terrorism. A terrorist may have no interest in taking hostages and ships for ransom. They may prefer to steal the ship and kill the crew, or simply kill the crews as a political statement and leave the ship where it lies. Explain this to your reluctant sailors and I promise you more enthusiasm will quickly develop.

Ship defense is not rocket science. It primarily involves simple watch-standing and a crew able to be called to general quarters in short order. This is no different from standard fire-fighting training many commercial ships already have in place.

But a few UNARMED security guards won’t fill the bill at all. To adequately defend a ship, heavy guns, such as the venerable Browning .50 caliber machine gun, and the MK19 40mm automatic grenade launcher would be necessary. These weapons would be quite effective at repelling any attempted boarding by pirates. Several of these weapons placed fore, aft and amidships after leaving port would make short work of pirates on speedboats and small fishing boats, which are the preferred vessels of pirates.

A couple of well trained people on each ship could easily train the ship’s crew in the use of these weapons. Again, this is not rocket science. Any jackass can be trained to use a gun emplacement. It’s frankly a lot less demanding than teaching someone to shoot a pistol or rifle accurately.

The problem with this has been two-fold. One obstacle is shipowners who simply want to pretend “it won’t happen to me.” This is a fairly recent phenomena and shipowners would rather cash in their insurance policies in the event of a loss or hostage-taking than deal with all the hassle of arming their ships.

The easy solution to this is simply to stop insuring ships whose owners will not provide for the welfare of their own vessels.

The second and probably most serious obstacle are the laws of various nations which prohibit these weapons from entering their waters. Indonesia is a prime example of this. They simultaneously prevent ships from arming themselves and fail to provide security. While it is understandable that no one wants every commercial shipping vessel in their harbors sprouting heavy weapons from their decks, there is no reason why, upon entering near to port where there is plenty of security, ships cannot simply dismount their guns and store them in an armory until they leave safe harbor. A simple customs seal can be placed on the doors to these armories until the ship goes on it’s way.

The answer here is international cooperation on both political and business levels. Countries must be made to understand that the potential problems posed by having freighters putting up gun emplacements upon leaving their ports is far less than that posed shipping costs becoming so high that all international commerce becomes prohibitively expensive.

Governments could pressure Lloyd’s of London and other insurers to simply stop insuring any ship venturing near dangerous waters unless they are properly armed to defend themselves. This would make the cost of imports and exports from places like Indonesia so expensive they’d be forced to change policy as well as force reluctant ship owners to take some responsibility for the safety of their vessels and crew.

The notion that heavy weapons should only be in the hands of the military, where the military does not and cannot provide security, has been demonstrated to be foolish in the extreme.

If there is any single right which should trump all others, it is the right and obligation for self defense. Wherever this right is removed by law, law-abiding people are merely victims in waiting for anyone willing to violate those laws.

How long it will take ship owners and governments to figure this out remains to be seen.

Posted in Law & Order, National Security, News & Analysis, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »