Friday, July 8, 2016

Sing, Muse, of the incompetent rage of the police shooters

To my mind, there is only one genuinely surprising thing about the recent police shootings in Dallas, which is that they were carried out with unusual competence. This is also the main reason you're reading about them. Killing multiple police all at once, at a protest that ensured there was already a media presence, is too dramatic to ignore. You can't just paint it as some 'piece-a-shit' incident gone wrong (in Tom Wolfe's memorable phrase).

This puts the media in a difficult bind, because I suspect that they very much would like to ignore this black on white rage, like they do for most such rage. The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if the shooter had used something other than a gun. In that case, progressives would have been deprived of the opportunity to at least try to redirect the conversation to gun control, and the story would already be in the process of being actively memory-holed.

As soon as the reports were suggesting a sniper from an elevated position, my guess was that whoever was doing this had some formal training with this stuff. Sure enough, the shooter was in the Army Reserves. Initial reports said that it was multiple snipers from a triangulated position, which made it even more likely. Now they're saying that it's a lone wolf, but they would, wouldn't they?

To shoot 12 officers, kill 5 of them, and hit only 2 civilians, is a surprisingly difficult task, especially if the shooter was indeed acting alone.

The typical pattern of black rage against police is far less planned, and far more likely to result in immediate arrest before actually killing many, if any, police. To take just the last couple of police shootings in the immediate aftermath, we had the following:
Authorities say a man called 911 in south Georgia to report a break-in, then ambushed and shot the officer who came to investigate. Both men were wounded in the ensuing gunfire, and both are expected to survive.
That is far closer to what I expect. Point blank, ambush, incompetent, resulting in immediate arrest.

This was his best plan to kill as many police as possible - leave a 911 call with his own voice, calling a single policeman to his own home, just to make absolutely sure the police would know who the prime suspect was in the unlikely event that he actually got away. Moreover, his choice of target was a policeman who would already be slightly on edge due to being on an active call.

And that's what you get with actual forward planning. Without that, it's even more incompetent:
In a fourth attack early Friday, a motorist fired at a police car as the officer drove by. In all, four officers were wounded. The officer wounded outside St. Louis is in critical but stable condition. The wounded officers are expected to survive 
A suburban St. Louis police chief says a motorist shot an officer three times as the officer walked back to his car during a traffic stop.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says the suspect, who is in his 30s, ``ambushed'' the officer, who is in critical but stable condition. 
Just taking pot shots with a handgun at cops who happen to be in the vicinity. Great way to end up in prison for decades with a low probability of actually killing anybody, you really stuck it to the man.

As Randall Collins noted in his excellent book (first chapter free here), the probabilities of actually hitting someone in a combat scenario with a handgun are very low. Here's some numbers from police incidents, the highest annual police 'hit' probability from a gunfight is 25%, the lowest is 9%. Now subtract out most of the formal training that police receive, and you can see why these clowns have such a low chance of success in general.

We should be thankful to have such imbeciles as enemies.

The reality is that not many people in the west, black or white, are actually ready for the effective suicide mission of shooting at the police. If you start shooting at figures of official authority, the absolute best case scenario in the overwhelming number of cases is life imprisonment. Most pathways just end up with you dead, like this, or this.

At one extreme, I suspect that most of the the low impulse control rage shootings like the above happen because the perpetrators haven't actually considered the consequences much at all. This explains why they're so poorly carried out. In the west, it's easier to find thoroughly stupid people than suicidal people.

Of course, among those that have considered it in advance, hope springs eternal in the human breast. Most people cling to some small probability that they'll actually get away, even if they don't have a clear idea of the end game.

Hence the preference for being a sniper. It was true here, it was true with John Allen Muhammad. Being a sniper allows a mental "out". Perhaps I won't get caught. Perhaps I'll shoot a few, get away, and live to tell the tale.

If you fully embrace the idea that you're going to die, you could kill a whole lot more people. You might become a suicide bomber, and drive a truck bomb into police headquarters. The optics of this are very bad, of course. Suicide bomber goes to crazy terrorist. Not a good way to spread your message, whatever exactly it is.

So America will continue to have black rage shootings. This has happened before, of course. In the 1970s, this stuff was frequent among black power groups. Just look at the Zebra Murders, which nobody much seems to remember.

The worst worry is that more shooters begin to twig onto the tactics that actually work, in which case you don't want to be around to find out what happens to a) the number of police killed, and b) the homicide rate in your city as police retreat to areas of relative safety.

For the moment, the main thing saving us is the fact that people smart enough to carry out a competent mass shooting are deterred by the fact that they're also smart enough to realise that doing so is a death sentence.

Modernity produces both blind rage and suicide in considerable quantities. It is a small mercy that these don't usually coincide in the same person.

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