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LANDMARK GUNFIGHTS — 29 Comments

  1. Great article! I read it and will reread it. I have studied those incidents and several others not mention. Luckily for me, I never had to face such.
    And for your information, I have been in law enforcement in the south since 1982.

  2. Sad to see and remember those events. It’s increasingly more infuriating as time passes to see the constant push to disarm the innocent. I recently saw it poingiently stated that “Assault is an act not a devise.”

  3. The only shootout I wasn’t aware of was that of lunatic Carl Drega. It seems likely the Border Patrol agent’s M14 (7.65 mm/.308 caliber) played the deciding factor in that incident unless the two troopers had similar arms or made some lucky shots with their handguns. However, I’m surprised that scumbag Drega’s ballistic vest, if I understood the story correctly, stopped a rifled shotgun slug, gauge unknown. I’d assumed a 12 gauge shotgun slug would defeat a ballistic vest, particularly a vest from over twenty years ago. Still, my hat’s off to the valiant officers who put down that mad dog.

  4. I’m sitting in the Kaiser Permanente waiting room in Honolulu and got a notice saying that I don’t have permission to visit the gunfights article because it falls in the ‘weapons/bombs’ category. Also says that my provider (the Kaiser connection) has chosen to protect me from internet threats.

    I’d post a screenshot, but that doesn’t seem possible.

    I guess I’ll have to wait til I get home in an hour or so.

  5. I always considered that Kaiser Permanente was a first class outfit but obviously they consider you a second class citizen. What an insult to you. Make noise, lots of noise. .

    • Kaiser is definitely a first class outfit. I really cannot say enough good about them for quality of medical care and friendly, helpful staff.

      They contracted with some internet censorship company called Zscaler to handle the internet stuff. I expect they discussed what should be blocked, like porn, and chose weapons stuff as well. I wish they hadn’t, but in the general scheme of things it isn’t a big deal.

  6. “we have seen armed citizens largely go the same way with their concealed carry handguns and home defense long guns.”

    As I have noted before, I am not a big fan of linking civilian defensive firearms to those used by the Police and/or Military. A civilian is only justified in using deadly force for defense; never for attack. The same is not always true for the Police and it certainly is not true for the Military. Therefore, civilians need firearms, and ammo, optimized for defense while the Police/Military need more flexible tools that can perform both functions.

    I still believe that the time-tested and proven double-action revolver and pump-shotgun provide good systems for home defense. Small Revolvers also can give good service for concealed carry.

    I sometimes carry a small, single-stack 9mm semi-automatic. However, I was shooting it at the range, just last week, and it suddenly STOPPED WORKING. It was not a FTF or FTE problem (as is so often the case with small semi-autos). Rather, it was a failure of the sear to release the internal hammer. (This was a hammer-fired pistol rather than striker-fired). As near as I can tell, something simply broke somewhere in the trigger/sear area which instantly put the pistol out of action.

    So, the pistol is shipped back the manufacturer (for repair) and I am back to carrying my S&W 642 stub-nose revolver. I have full confidence that it will work if called upon.

    Back in the Old West, the following verse was sometimes engraved upon the old Colt “Hog-leg”.

    “Be not afraid of any man;
    No matter what his size;
    When danger threatens, call on me—
    And I will equalize!”

    This verse signifies the kind of confidence inspired by a good revolver! My history with semi-autos is much less reassuring. 🙁

    I am not a big fan of AR-Style rifles, in 5.56 NATO, for home-defense either. The muzzle pressure is too great and the report too loud for indoor use. Of course, a shotgun is pretty loud too. Honestly, I think that a pistol-caliber carbine is a better option than either for defense in the home.

    Again, just my 2 cents.

    • TN_MAN,

      I have had a S&W Model 60 revolver malfunction. It is a small, steel .357 Magnum five-shot. One time it fired all five rounds, but I could not swing out the cylinder to eject the empties and reload. The cylinder rod had come unscrewed and was jammed in place. I am not a gunsmith but I think the constant pounding of the .357 Magnum round in that small frame was just too much for it. I shoot .38 Spl out of it now, and my hand feels better too.

      Indoors, I still think a shotgun with buckshot is the way to go. In any defensive encounter under fifty yards my choice would be a slug gun. I want to hit the bad guy so hard and do so much damage with even one round, that he can’t fire back at me. It’s OK to disagree with me regarding choice of weapons. Any gun that works is a good gun in my book. It’s wonderful to live during a time when we can afford to be picky, and we have so many great options.

      • @ Roger Willco – “Any gun that works is a good gun in my book.”

        Good Point! In reality, the choice of firearm is a deeply personal decision. No one can truly pick a firearm that is the best choice for someone else.

        The best gun is the one that works for YOU! The one that you can handle well and that inspires confidence in YOU!

        Back in the Victorian Era, it was standard practice for Commissioned British Military Officers to buy and carry their own personal weapons. If they wanted a sword and/or a handgun for field use, they would select and buy it for themselves rather than using a weapon issued to them by the Crown. It would remain their personal property and would be taken back home with them after they left military service.

        In an earlier blog, I made mention that, in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. Watson carried his “Service Revolver” during his early adventures with Sherlock Holmes. Did an honest man like Dr. Watson steal a revolver from the Crown after he left the Army? No way! Dr. Watson was “Commissioned” as a “Medical Officer” in the British Army. He undoubtedly purchased his revolver before he left England and sailed off to India. Naturally, since the revolver was his personal property, he brought it back with him when he returned to England after leaving Army Service. Thus, he had it available when needed for his further adventures with Holmes.

        In a similar way, a young Winston Churchill purchased a “cutting edge” weapon (a C96 “Broomhandle” Mauser) during his early military service. If I am not mistaken, young Churchill was the only officer, in his regiment, to carry a semi-automatic pistol into the Battle of Omdurman. As I understand it, it served him well.

        Strange as the idea of buying your own Military Arms seems to us today, there is some method to this madness. A weapon which an officer selects for himself and which gives him confidence, is likely to serve him well. What is the old saying?

        “Beware of the Man who owns only one gun, because he knows how to use it!”

  7. Hi Mas! I have been wanting an answer to this question for some time now. Special Agent Richard Manauzzi Is said to have not participated in the gunfight loosing his revolver in the crash. However I have found an interview with him stating just the opposite. In fact talking about how his training kicked in and he fired his weapon. The interview was given from his hospital bed to a reporter.
    Please shed some light on this mystery.

    • All the official reports had him losing his gun in the crash and being unable to return fire throughout the incident.

      • Yes I know. I have read them all. Something is rotten in Denmark here. It is a fact that seems to be kinda swept under the rug … his interview that is.

      • I have a vague recollection of someone losing their primary in the crash and, upon reaching a somewhat distant cover position, went to their backup. However, like many other things, the memory isn’t what it used to be.

  8. Firepower generally takes the day. A 9? Possibly, but I’ll stick with my G21.
    And I always keep in mind gunfights are fast, unexpected, violent, unpredictable, and each one has its own characteristics.
    Conclusion: Adequate firepower, training, vigilance.

  9. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    Back in the 1930s gangsters like ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ used fully automatic weapons and would do bank takeovers. LEOs learned to arm themselves similarly and have bullet resistant vest to overcome them. And the LEOs confronted them immediately once detected.

    Later the Bureaucracy reverted and the cops just carried plain .38s and maybe, if they were lucky, a shotgun in their cruiser. Lessons learned were forgotten as everyone wanted (after WW2) to become ‘Andy of Mayberry’.

    And so here we are! Will we forget them again?

  10. Wow!

    If there’s a similar article about changes in civilian tactics I’d nominate:
    1. Sandy Hook. That cracked the “no guns on campus” rule to the point where the Texas Association of School Boards says more than 1 in 5 Texas public school districts have faculty carry, and states including Texas are passing laws about college campus carry.
    2. Pulse Night Club. Changed the way some of the LGBT community viewed handgun carry.
    3. Sutherland Springs. Changed the way churches look at security.
    4. West Freeway Church of Christ. We’ll see…
    (And a nitpick. Everyone is calling the it “security video.” You don’t live-stream security footage; they were broadcasting the service, as my church does, and showing the congregation taking communion. Imagine the home-bound parishioners reaction.)

  11. Since my then employer got caught up the the 10 mm fever back when, I noticed a few “issues” with the section on the Miami incident and some of the changes that ensued. That said, the core message of the article is good.

    In short, while hardware can help, the key issues are proper training and performance under stress.

  12. Newhall. When I began my career, Newhall had just happened. A lot of changes in training as result. Miami and Hollywood were the other two that really changed equipment, tactics and training. Columbine changed the way we responded to active killers.

  13. I was in Bakersfield, CA the day of the North Hollywood shootout and watched it take place live on TV.

    Some time after the Columbine school shootings I listened to an interview with an Army psychologist. His job was to find ways to make killing another human being more palatable to soldier trainees. Most normal people find it difficult to consider taking a human life and he tried to find ways to overcome that natural feeling, thus the vaguely human silhouette targets used on the rifle range.
    In any case, he had viewed all the crime scene photos and seen all the evidence. It was his feeling that at some point near the end of the event one of the shooters had a moment of clarity and realized the enormity of what they had done. He theorized that he then shot his partner and then committed suicide himself. NOT as has been suggested that they both committed suicide.
    Anyone else ever hear anything like this? This is the only time I have heard that theory advanced, and I only heard it once.

    • Not a valid theory, I’m afraid. Mattasereanu is on video surrendering after LAPD shot his legs out from under him with MP5s as he crouched behind a vehicle firing his machine gun. Phillips’ death was also captured on video. After the Beretta is shot out of his hand you see him pick it up and put it to his head just as the exit wound from a police .223 bullet appears at the back of his neck.

      • The only comment I made on the North Hollywood shootout was that I watched it on TV as it was taking place. I saw both of those events referenced, the first guy get his legs cut out from under him and the second guy put his gun to his head. What I didn’t realize is he never got a chance to pull the trigger himself.

        What I was wondering was if anyone else had heard the theory that either Dillon or Kliebolt (SP?) had shot the other one before committing suicide. Not that it matters at least both of those monsters are where they belong, but the info from someone who knows about such things directly conflicts with the story everyone has been told.

      • Michael, my understanding is that Phillips shot himself with the pistol simultaneous with being hit by the .223. Early reports did indicate that Harris shot Klebold and then himself at the end of the Columbine atrocity; later reports indicated they each shot themselves.

  14. One correction to the article. The first responders to an incident are those already on the scene. If that includes police, EMS, etc., it’s either a coincidence (fortunate for the victims) or they are targets themselves. They should properly be called the first professional responders.

  15. One of the curious things about the North Hollywood Shootout is the fact that full-auto weapons were used, and at least 1500 rounds were fired. And yet, no one was killed! When I say “no one” I mean none of the good guys died. That prompted Jeff Cooper to write at the time, “If someone is coming for me, I hope he is coming on full-auto!” Brilliant. All bad guys should be taught to “spray and pray.”

    That reminds me of some jihadists, who like to hold the Kalashnikov sideways over their head, and let Allah guide the bullets!

    • I believe Jeff Cooper also said that, and I paraphrase, “One cool hand with a Winchester 94 could have put a stop to that shootout very quickly.”