Monday, March 7, 2011

Beanbags Versus AK-47s On The Border

At least if you bring a knife to a gunfight, you have a chance to stab the other guy while he's bent over in laughter at your stupidity. Even bringing a gun to a gunfight can be too little, if you're armed with a .38 police special and the bad guys are armed with multiple assault rifles.

I thought we learned that lesson after the North Hollywood Bank of America robbery fifteen years ago. If we learned anything it was that the good guys need to be able to outgun and outshoot the bad guys. But if we concentrate on equality of firepower, we miss another critical factor: The rules of engagement. Those rules still unnecessarily give all the advantages to the bad guys. And as a result, a Border Patrol agent was murdered on December 14 during a one-sided shootout with a well-known vicious gang of Mexican gangsters. One of the criminals was also killed, but only after Border agents had lost one of their own by virtue of truly stupid rules of engagement.

Five Border Patrol agents were tracking an already-identified gang of bandits north of Nogales in Peck Canyon (Arizona) known as a "rip crew." A rip crew is usually a gang of Mexican thugs who illegally cross the border to prey on other illegals. They attack drug traffickers to kill the traffickers and seize their drugs for their own profit. They target "coyotes" and their illegal immigrant "clients" for murder, rape and extortion, relying on the living victims not to testify against them. They are always armed, always murderous, and confident that with weak-sister American rules of engagement they have the advantage.

The Border agents used night-vision binoculars to locate and identify their enemy. They easily identified at least two AK-47 assault rifles being carried by the gang. They shouted to the rip crew, announcing their presence and ordering the gang to drop their weapons. Fat chance of that. So now they're ready for a firefight, correct? Well, the gang certainly was. But the Border Patrol was still bound by nebulous, "situational" social welfare, goody two-shoes bureaucratic regulations. In order to avoid future prosecution by the political hacks or dismissal by their own agency, the agents fired beanbag rounds. The scumbags responded with real bullets, resulting in the death of agent Brian Terry.

The purpose of beanbag rounds is to disable an apparently-violent suspect temporarily who may or not have lethal force at his disposal. They were not designed for situations in which there is a known "enemy" who is identified on the spot as fully-armed with assault weapons and a long history of using them. Only a doctrinaire bureaucrat sitting in a safe and cushy government chair could consider putting those kinds of restraints on professional law enforcement. When their lives are on the line, and only milliseconds separate their lives from the grave, police should never be required to spend those milliseconds deciding which outrageous policy or procedure might apply to their current life-threatening situation. In this situation, one clear and unequivocal rule should have applied: The enemy is a clear and present danger, he is fully armed, we have verified that in advance, so--SHOOT TO KILL, NOW!

Even if the Border Patrol had fired first, in order to incapacitate with a beanbag round, there is a simple physical fact involved. Good intentions aside, along with bleeding-heart bureaucratic regulations and rules of engagement, a beanbag round is fired from a shotgun. It immediately reveals the location of the shooter. If the beanbag successfully incapacitates one or two gangsters, what about the others? Even those who are not particularly good shots now have a clear target, and with an AK-47 set on full automatic they have a substantial chance of killing the shooter or his fellow agents.

This entire set of gruesome and insane restrictions on the rules of engagement was based almost entirely on one politically-sensitive case of one Mexican teenager who chucked rocks at agents and was shot dead by the agents for his efforts. The Peck Canyon reality was a totally, even wildly different situation. There is no connection between rock-throwing kids and fully-armed criminals operating under cover of dark (although I would argue that some rocks can be pretty deadly if properly thrown). But bureaucrats and politically-correct liberals are pretty good shots, too. They know how to kill a mosquito with their own bureaucratic elephant guns. The mosquito in this case is the ability of law enforcement officers to protect themselves and the general public.

So long as DHS, Congressional Democrats and the White House refuse to recognize the violent invasion that is taking place on our southern border, this "beanbags first" policy is going to get more police and innocent civilians killed. I prefer the old-fashioned method. When police are confronted with known, armed criminals the following procedure shall apply: "Stop!" Bang, bang, bang, bang, rat-a-tat-tat-tat. "Or we'll shoot."


T_Rav said...

Frankly, they should be shooting teens throwing rocks and anyone else using potentially deadly force. Perfect way to send a message to border-jumping gangsters: Don't #%$@ with us.

Tennessee Jed said...

Couple of thoughts - I'n not trying to defend rules of engagement, but you mentioned part of rationale is "fear of future prosecution," so aren't the laws partly to blame as well?

Second, while I love to tee off on soft, coddling Democrats, Republicans have been just as bad when it comes to sucking up to the Latino vote. Regardless, your point is crystal clear. As a country we need to step up to what is happening on our borders, recognize the obvious, and protect our country from thugs, criminals, and illegal entry.

StanH said...

That’s taking the Mexican mulligan (no taxes, different set of laws, etc.) too a deadly new low. Like most things in our beloved USA, we’re going to have to get to the brink of chaos, or collapse before acting.

Jed you are correct, it’s all bleeding hearts in DC, left and right, remember it was “W” who tried to foist amnesty on America, using throw away gobbledygook, like, “we’re all God’s children,” and the classic, “they’re doing jobs American s won’t do,” …hogwash!

Tennessee Jed said...

"As sidelight on sports" exactly 100 years ago today, President Taft ordered 20,000 troops to patrol the Mexican border as a response to the Mexican revolution. Maybe THAT would get their attention. "Can you hear me now?"

T_Rav said...

Incidentally, since Jed and Stan brought it up, I personally think the birth of the Tea Party was not when Obama passed the "stimulus" bill, but in '07 when Bush and the RINOs in Congress tried to pass that horrific amnesty bill. I was listening to the local talk radio pretty regularly at that time, and remember that the phone lines to Congress were just melting down--literally. This is an issue the voters obviously care a great deal about, and with good reason; why aren't the politicians listening? (Rhetorical question.)

Anonymous said...

T_Rav: I agree. As I mentioned, rocks can be deadly too. But at least with rocks, the agents can use some discretion. When it comes to known criminals armed with AK-47s, I think the rule of engagement should be "shoot first, ask questions later."

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: Absolutely. Laws need to be changed so that only in the case of clear intentional use of lethal force against unarmed civilians can an agent ever be prosecuted or sued. As with our overseas operations, comfy legislators with love in their hearts don't recognize that we are at war on our own borders. No law enforcement agent should ever have to hesitate to use deadly force against these invaders because some damned fool law or regulation might be used against him if he makes a reasonable error in what is essentially a war zone. We need to reinstate strong sovereign immunity laws, particularly for border agents.

You are absolutely right about Republicans being nearly as bad as the Democrats on the issue. Maybe worse. Many of the bleeding-heart liberals in the Democratic Party actually believe their human rights/humane treatment nonsense. The Republicans are costing the lives of citizens and law enforcement agents for simple, cynical political pandering to the Hispanic vote. And even worse, I believe that law-abiding Hispanic American citizens want the borders secured as much as anyone, so it isn't even a good political move.

Anonymous said...

Stan: I suppose there is something to be said for the fact that America is reluctant to take draconian measures until we have been pushed into a nearly untenable position. The problem today is that we have been pushed into that position, and our politicians are still acting as if we're dealing with a small gang of amateurs in East L.A. Again, it's the civilian concept of treating an invasion as if it's a mere local criminal law problem. This isn't the moral equivalent of war--it is war, period.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: I would only like to add that the troops belong there (even if it involves calling up the National Guard for the sole purpose of defending the borders), and they should be allowed something we have been far too prissy in promoting--the ancient international rules of "hot pursuit." Running back across the border should not be the invaders' backup plan. If they engage on our side of the border, they should be pursued back into Mexico, and if necessary, shot dead on Mexican soil even if they are hiding out in the Presidential Palace of Felipe Calderon. General Black Jack Pershing followed exactly those rules under the orders of uber-Progressive President Woodrow Wilson. Calderon is just Pancho Villa in a nice suit and no blood on his own hands (that we know of, anyway).

Anonymous said...

T_Rav: I think you make a very good point. The stimulus (and other socialist schemes) allowed the disparate elements of the fledgling Tea Party to come together, but its birth occurred some time late in the Bush administration. That amnesty bill was one of a series of blows that assisted in the birth.

AndrewPrice said...

Obviously, there must be rules of engagement to tell agents when they can and cannot shoot, or you get some people shooting when there's no reason and some people failing to shoot when they are more than justified. But those rules need to be based on the protection of the agents first and foremost. This sounds like it's based on not upsetting Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: I know that neither of us wants to turn the border into a free-fire zone, and all civilized nations have rules of engagement. But in this type of situation, when the invaders have been identified and told to lay down their arms that the agents have already clearly seen with their night-vision binoculars, the rule of engagement should be "shoot to kill," not "hesitate, then lob a beanbag round at them." I care a great deal more about the lives of our border agents than I do about armed invaders from Mexico. And I care even less what the government of Mexico thinks. These rules of non-engagement are getting Americans killed, plainly and simply. And it's not just getting law enforcement agents killed--it's getting innocent American civilians killed as well.

It also bothers me deeply that the rules of engagement under Democratic administrations particularly have been a whole lot looser when it comes to dealing with American citizens well within the American borders and on American soil. Waco and Ruby Ridge are prime examples.

Joel Farnham said...


After Ramos and Compean being raked over the coals after a non-event, persecuted, and beaten-up in prison, it is a wonder we have any border agents at all. And don't tell me Ramos and Compean were prosecuted, not persecuted.

With this administration, you might see the border agents prosecuted for hurting the illegals with bean-bags. Until we have a president who respects this country, its laws, and its people, we will continue to have this type of outrage. Until we have a president who understands the concept of a nation of people having a government, instead of a government owning a nation, we will have these stupid rules of engagement.

With this last incident, we are lucky that only one agent died.

Anonymous said...

Joel: The rule is "shoot a fleeing illegal in the ass, get sued, pay damages." It's ridiculous. The punishments for agents doing their jobs with their hands tied behind their backs are far worse than what happens to the illegals. I'm sick of the whole mess. Given the current climate in the Obama administration, I can easily foresee an agent being dismissed, successfully sued and even prosecuted for the horrible crime of beanbagging an armed invader.

The left had no problem with oppressive governments that built walls and shot people to keep them in, but has a serious problem with a free nation protecting its borders and shooting armed invaders who have already crossed them. This is "through the Looking Glass" government.

Writer X said...

Beanbags? This is so outrageous. Maybe border patrol agents should hand out stuffed animals and fluffy rabbits too?

wahsatchmo said...

I once visited a client who ran a machine shop years ago and they demonstrated their bean bag round for me. It was pretty impressive and went right through a piece of 3/4 plywood - at 10 yards. Beyond that, it lost velocity really quickly.

It was obvious it was designed to be fired at a suspect who was outside of taser range, but for whom a taser round would otherwise have been justified and was appropriate.

Can you imagine trying to taser somebody who's holding an AK-47? If not, you shouldn't be firing a bean bag round at them. I wish Homeland Security understood this.

Anonymous said...

WriterX: Those beanbag rounds are not as silly as they sound, when used up-close against a criminal who the officers have already determined is likely unarmed or at least doesn't have a gun. Imagine getting a hard punch to the stomach from Mike Tyson, and you have the idea. At a distance, and against armed criminals with automatic weapons, they are less than useless.

Liberals and people who have never had to deal with violent people in direct confrontations theorize at the expense of public and officer safety. As for your tongue-in-cheek cuddly toys proposal, one liberal actually told me that in order to avoid violence in the Middle East, we should just give every Arab kid an i-pod and a couple of bucks. This kind of naivete is going to get us all killed.

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