Where do They Get This Stuff?

Craig Henry over at Lead and Gold has a bone to pick with Richard Clarke’s speculation about terrorist attacks in the US. So do I.

Clarke says that a few gunmen can mow down hundreds of people in a shopping mall with impunity.

Four men, disguised as private mall-security officers and armed with TEC-9 submachine guns, street-sweeper 12-gauge shotguns, and dynamite, entered the mall at two points and began executing shoppers at will.

(Insert paragraph about how the Assault Weapons Ban would have prevented the terrorists from arming themselves.)

The panic and confusion brought on by the terrorists’ opening volleys led many shoppers to run away from one pair of murderers and into the path of the other, leading to more carnage. Two off-duty police officers were cited for bravery after they took down one pair of terrorists with their personal weapons, before the local SWAT team could get to the scene. Meanwhile, one of the other terrorists used his cell phone to remotely detonate the rental van he had driven to the mall; this resulted in even more chaos in the parking garages. Once the SWAT team arrived, it made short work of the two remaining terrorists. By the time the smoke had cleared, more than 300 people were dead and 400 lay wounded. In the confusion of the firefight the SWAT team had killed six mall guards and wounded two police officers.

400 dead? Not if I’m in there buying new tennis shoes. And not if any of my former students are there. Or anyone from the Pink Pistols, one of the organizations for which I volunteer.

This might seem reasonable to someone who isn’t concerned with self defense, but to those of use who shoot it’s pretty much insane.

Read the whole thing. Craig is more than a little long-winded about this subject, but I can see why he wanted to talk about it at length.

17 thoughts on “Where do They Get This Stuff?”

  1. Sounds like a sloppy rewrite of a scene from Tom Clancy’s “Teeth of the Tiger,” without the style, characters, or research.

  2. This is what I love about blogs. A few years ago, Clarke could have gotten away with pitching his hysterical fantasy to insular liberals without its receiving much serious analysis. Craig and James and other knowledgeable people might have read about it in the paper or seen it on the TV news, and would have immediately seen it as ridiculous, but also would have had no easy way to publish their critiques in a timely and widely accessible way. Clarke would have successfully sold his message to his target audience — the people who buy his books and control hiring at places like the Kennedy School.

    But now he receives immediate scrutiny, and any tall tales that he tells to the rubes in Cambridge get quickly noticed — and debunked — by sophisticated people elsewhere. And the affair casts doubt on Clarke’s general analytical ability, as it should.

  3. Four people can carry enough ammunition for that?

    “Well, we thought the bulkiness under their uniforms was due to too many donuts…”

  4. Jonathan,

    I’m not so sure I agree. Word processors have not resulted in better novels but more law suits. Spreadsheets have not resulted inbetter analysis, but in prettier statements. And Powerpoint…

    Likewise, I am not sure that the timeliness and wide accessibility provided by blogs are unalloyed benefits. Before, people thought more before repsonding because they had more time to think. When they had something worth saying they wrote a Letter to the Editor. The good ones were edited for publication later.

    And it calls to mind the lost art of letter writing. E-mail has won, but does it mean our correspondence is better? I do hope the young at least still write love letters. They are so nice to re-read.

    This also makes me regret again one of the great losses of the War, Michael Kelly. He would never have published Clarke’s tripe.

  5. Of course, any place with enough people to make a good target, like a mall, would also likely have a police presence and armed guards. In license to carry states, they would also face return fire from customers and shop owners.

    Further, contrary to how Hollywood portrays such incidents, opening fire in a crowded area usually ends up with gunman underneath a dog pile.

    It is unlikely that terrorist could kill and then escape without living at least one of their number behind. This is a big problem for the terrorist because in developed countries, identifying one member of a network will rapidly lead to the roll up of the entire network.

    I suspect this is the major reason we have never seen suicide bombers yet in the West. It is hard to pull off a terror campaign when every time you set off a bomb, it cost you a big chunk of your network.

    Even in Iraq, the overwhelming majority of suicide bombers are troubled loners imported from overseas with no connections to anyone local. They are kept isolated from outside contact partially for mind control but also I suspect so that their deaths will not expose the rest of the network.

  6. Next from Richard Clarke: Al Qaeda recruits Jason Vorhees for terror operations in the United States of America.

    (…or maybe I should have given Jason X a pass even if I was bored and Lexa Doig and Lisa Ryder were in it.)

  7. First. Shannon’s right.

    Not in any mall built in this country. In case you haven’t noticed it. There are never sight lines long enough to shoot that many people. Its deliberate. The architects want to induce disorientation.

    P.S. The Washington Snipers were the archetype of the small sniper team. But there very few people who were willing to admit that they were terrorists.

  8. “Four people can carry enough ammunition for that?”

    The Tec 9 is chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, the same cartridge used in the US Army’s combat handgun. For my own personal defensive weapons, I carry handguns chambered for the 9mm.

    But, you know, it’s a handgun cartridge. Weak and underpowered compared to rifle or shotguns. It simply isn’t credible to think that you could get one-shot/one-kill performance out of it. You’d be lucky to get five-shots/one-casuality (either dead or wounded. There’d be a 3-to-1 chance that the casuality would be non-fatally wounded.)

    So the terrorists would need about 3,500 rounds in order to reap that kind of body count. I just this minute weighed 100 rounds that I had sitting in my ammo locker and found that it’s about 2.5 pounds. (For our readers who don’t live in the US or UK, call it a kilogram.)

    So the terrorists would need about 90 pounds of ammunition (35 kilograms). If there’s 4 terrorists then they’d each have to carry about 22 pounds of ammo (10 kilograms). This is if each terrorist has about 900 rounds per, which is the bare minimum they’d need to produce the result that Clark predicts.

    But wait! They have to have the ammunition pre-loaded into magazines before it could do them any good. And, if they’re on a fast and furious killin’ spree, they won’t have time to stop and laboriously load loose ammo into any clips they empty.

    Tec 9 magazines weigh, I dunno, a bit more than 1/2 pound each. Call it 4 to the kilogram. They hold 30 rounds per, and each terrorist would need to carry about 30 of them. Toss another 20 pounds/9 kilograms on to the total.

    So for ammo alone they’d be lugging around about 45 pounds of loaded magazines. That’s before we figure in the weight of their weapons, clothing, and other equipment that they might have with them.

    The problem I have is how they’d carry these 30 magazines. They’re pretty bulky. Looks to me like they’d need a laundry cart to haul the ammo around.

    Clark needs to get out to the range sometime.


  9. The problem I have is how they’d carry these 30 magazines. They’re pretty bulky. Looks to me like they’d need a laundry cart to haul the ammo around.

    Hmm, a shopping mall, maybe they use shopping carts? Just a mad guess.

    And who else remembers the bank robbery in LA where three guys wearing body armor shot it out with the cops for an hour? In a slightly different setting, with different intent, those guys could have wreaked much greater carnage.

    Hmm, an excerpt:

    A blaze of automatic gunfire ripped through a crowded neighborhood after several heavily-armed gunmen dressed like commandos botched a bank robbery.

    Two suspects were killed, and 15 people were injured, including 10 policemen. None of the injuries incurred during the hour-long shootout was “life threatening,” Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams said.

    Initially out-gunned, police responded to a scene in North Hollywood that resembled a combat zone. Bullets were flying from all directions into cars and buildings — and bystanders, too.

    More than 200 police were on hand for the siege, which lasted more than an hour. Armored personnel carriers and dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances were called to subdue the attackers and attend to the wounded.

    Wearing body armor and carrying a trunk full of weapons, the robbers were ready for a fight. And that’s exactly what they delivered, firing “multiple hundreds” of rounds, according to police.

    They fired armor-piercing bullets at anything that moved, and one suspect used a getaway car as a shield. Two suspects fought fiercely to the death, killed by helmeted police who fired bullets to the head at close range.

    …Officers who initially responded to Friday’s robbery, carrying standard-issue 9 millimeter Baretta handguns, were in trouble.

    “Tactically, the first officers that arrived were at a severe disadvantage,” weapons expert and former LAPD officer Dave Butler said. “Police carry 15 rounds. They would need to re-load.”

    Stunned officers were out-gunned to such a degree that at one point they burst into a gun store, and walked out with more powerful guns and ammunition.

    Police “came in a panic because their weapons weren’t good enough to fight these people,” said the store’s president, who would identify himself only as Bob.

    “These people had body armor and they needed something that would break body armor,” he said. “We supplied them with slugs that would at least break bones on someone wearing body armor.”

    Added the LAPD’s McBride: “We have many suspects who have multiple guns, and they continue to out-gun us and fire at us at will.”

    Oddly, I am on your side when I say this.

  10. Tom Maquire,

    In the case you mention, the defining aspect of the incident was not the automatic weapons but the body armor. The perpetrators were struck by police gun fire many times but the armor stopped it.

    More to the point of the other post, they carried their ammunition in the truck of a car with one guy driving and the others walking beside spewing off rounds, then getting more ammo or a replacement weapon out of the trunk as needed.

    Body armor is far more dangerous than fully automatic weapons. Someone in heavy armor with a handgun who couldn’t be stopped by common weapons could kill more people than someone with an AK-47 wearing a thong.

  11. Shannon,
    Throw away the AK-47, and whip off your thong, and you have a deadly weapon in your hands. With the skills of, say, a Jackie Chang, one g-string Terrorist could decimate the throngs in a packed mall with just one nylon thong.

    James, your armed resistance is futile.

  12. Throw away the AK-47, and whip off your thong, and you have a deadly weapon in your hands.

    Thanks for putting the image of a terrorist stripping out of a thong into my head, Steve.

    Now I’m going to have to stick a knitting needle up my nose in the hope that I can scrape away the brain cells that contain it. By the time I’m done I probably won’t remember what the word “but” means anymore.


  13. …the defining aspect of the incident was not the automatic weapons but the body armor.

    Well, then I’m glad Richard Clarke didn’t think of that; I hope no terrorists do, either.

    Of course, hope is not a plan…

  14. TEC-9s (full-auto ones, too, not the semi-auto ones) and Street Sweepers?

    Did he just look at a list of Evil Black Guns from 1993 to write this?

    I should *hope* terrorists would be stupid enough to use fragile-firing-pin TECs and slow-to-reload Street Sweepers (which, er, are giant and obvious and no mall security dude would ever have one. At least you can hide a TEC-9 under a coat.)

    REAL terrorists are far more likely to have, for example, AK-74 Krinkovs, and hand grenades, than spring-rotation-magazine shotguns and extremely crappy little machine-pistols.

    Then again, real terrorists are more likely to just get some dupe to strap on a few pounds of C-4 and some nails, and blow his ass up.

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