Friday, January 30, 2009

A Great Friend Passed...

Joker died Saturday morning, January 24, 2009.

As near as we can pinpoint her age, she was 36 years old--ancient in horse terms, and I am sure we kept her alive with extraordinary care for long past her time.

I have not been able to write this up to this time, and it is hard to do so now.

If you have ever in your life loved an animal, you will have some understanding of what I am experiencing right now--maybe. But a piece of our family left with her.

I buried her in her favorite spot, under the trees behind the house. She was placed with her legs under her, her head looking towards the home of the folks with whom she shared her life for 28 years.

If you wish to read more about the best-riding horse God ever blessed upon any undeserving individual, go to "Older Posts" at the bottom of these postings.

I promise not to get so maudlin on any subject again.


Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter, home from the hill.

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1884

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Alpen Scopes Produce Big Results at Reasonable Price

If you shoot and hunt with one of the new compact magnum cartridges, smaller, lower-powered scopes may match your rifle better.

That’s because the compact magnums were designed to be utilized in smaller packages. In other words, the short-fat concept was conceived to get magnum performance out of shorter barrels.

Thus, you get the velocity and ballistic performance of a 7MM Remington Magnum, or a .300 Winchester Magnum without the longer, unwieldy barrels these require to gain maximum effect from the powder.

These older calibers are "overbore." In other words, because of their large powder capacity, they require longer barrels. The powder is still burning, producing propellant gases as the bullet is pushed down the barrel. Cut the barrel down to a more wieldy length, and you may drop velocities as unburned powder follows the bullet from the muzzle.

As the short magnums became the ballistic equivalent of the taste of the day, everyone began offering (and consumers started buying) standard-sized rifles with longer barrels.

They were getting the same performance of the older cartridges, with none of the benefits of the new designs—why get a cartridge that does exactly the same thing, and not get the shorter barrel? I could never understand the headlong rush to new cartridges, replacing older designs with exactly the same results.

I wanted a short magnum, but I didn’t want another cartridge that fired from a 26-inch barrel—I wanted accuracy and power from a shorter barrel, and a more easily carried rifle.

I found this in the Model 673 Remington Guide Rifle. Barreled with a 22-inch barrel, and sporting a laminated stock with alternating patterns of gold and honey-brown, it is a warm, gorgeous stock on a rifle that shoots 1-inch groups or better in Remington .300 SAUM (Short Action Ultra Mag.)

But being a compact and shorter rifle, I found the only scopes that really looked good were the smaller 3 X 9 compact variables. If I wanted to go to higher magnification, the scopes cosmetically overpowered the rifle and made it unwieldy and top-heavy.

I started running across ALPEN Optics riflescopes at various outdoor writers’ conferences a couple of years ago. I wasn’t familiar with the brand, but noticed it attached to different rifles displayed for the writers.

At the most recent SEOPA (Southeast Outdoor Press Association) conference in Gatlinburg in October, CVA had an ALPEN mounted on one of their muzzleloaders.

Connecticut Valley Arms is one of the largest manufacturers of primitive firearms in the country. If they had a scope on a rifle that was fired many dozens of times in a day at many events, obviously it had to hold up.

In addition, if the scope didn’t maintain its zero, the bad groups would reflect poorly on the rifle, no matter how well it might shoot. The company representatives confirmed this. “We’ve had that scope on that rifle for over a year now, and it has given great service,” I was told.

I noticed the same brand on other rifles by other manufacturers and became interested. These display rifles frequently are fired more in a year than most hunters shoot their own in 20.

When Vicki Gardner, wife of the founder and marketing V-P/guru of ALPEN Optics, asked me to test and review some of their riflescopes, I was ready to do so, intrigued by this new product line.

“Tim,” (her husband), “was a vice-president of Bausch & Lomb in product development. He knows optics, and he knows how to make quality optics. When we decided to start our own line, he knew what he wanted. Our products are manufactured in China, which keeps the cost down, but Tim knew where to go to get quality optics built.”

The Model 4035 ALPEN APEX 3.5-10 X 50 seemed just the ticket. When it arrived, I mounted it on the rifle, and found its compact 12.5-inch length matched the rifle nearly perfectly.

It also performed a heck of a lot better than a similarly priced scope would be expected to perform.

With a suggested retail of only $363.00, this puts it priced above some of the common and popular low-end names—but with a stronger magnification, and a lot of the features of the pricier scopes.

I shot the rifle extensively while sighting in the new scope, and came away with some very favorable impressions.

It was cosmetically attractive, but I also found it to be extremely sharp. Edge-to-edge distortion was non-existent. While this model did not have an adjustable objective feature to compensate for parallax (it is factory pre-set for parallax at 100 yards), it has a generous amount of adjustment on the rear focusing ring—as much adjustment as any scope I have found.

The scope lenses, as with all ALPEN APEX scopes, were fully multicoated. This means all lenses in the scope tube have multiple coatings which reduce reflection. Reflections degrade light transmissions. We don’t have to get into all the different ratings and descriptions here—suffice it to say fully multi-coated is a feature found only in higher-end product. It is one of the features that greatly increases the cost of a riflescope, and to find it in this price range indicates high attention to detail.

One of the frustrating gremlins that can raise its ugly little head on the rifle range is adjustment consistency. The springs that move the crosshairs in the sight picture can frequently take a “set” and not move instantly when the adjustment knobs are turned. This leads to banging on scopes with plastic screwdrivers, empty brass, or other makeshift hammers to get the crosshairs to move after adjustment. Sometimes, a riflescope will “jump” into adjustment after the first shot jars it—a wasteful and aggravating experience--and one I have experienced on some very high-end scopes at times.

Many reviewers “shoot the square” with a scope to see if it moves according to the adjustment knobs. A group is shot at point of aim. The knobs are turned enough to move the next group several inches to the right. The next adjustment is made “down,” and the group should drop. The next adjustment is “left” and the new group should be directly under the first group.

The final adjustment is “up” and the last group should print over the original group. This test shows the scope adjusts properly to turns of the knobs without a “set” in the springs.

I didn’t “shoot the square” with this scope, but after a couple of boxes of ammunition, testing accuracy of various bullet weights in the rifle, I can say it adjusts promptly and precisely to any movement of the knobs. Move the knob four clicks right and the bullet group moves 1” to the right.

My last test of the ALPEN APEX was low light. An evening hunt found me staying on the stand and looking into the dark woods and through the shadows. This decidedly unscientific appraisal allowed me to see and identify shapes in the scope long after my naked eye could not identify anything but blurry blobs. It allows you those precious extra minutes of low light, when the deer move.

ALPEN offers a full line of binoculars and spotting scopes which have won six different “Great Buy” awards in Outdoor Life Magazine’s Gear Test. They offer four different riflescopes from 3-9X42 to 6-24X50 in the upper-end APEX series. They have an even more diversified selection in their lesser-priced series of scopes named KODIAK—slightly lesser priced, the product line jumps from 4 to 8 models.

ALPEN was founded in 1997, and introduced riflescopes to their line in 2004. If you are looking for quality optics that will perform as well as many models priced, the ALPEN models should be given a look-see—I was impressed with the scopes I have tried. A 4-16X50/AO will soon reside on a new varmint .223, and will get a wringing out on a West Texas prairie dog hunt. I expect it to give the same exceptional service, and will cover it here.

I now want to try one of those “Great Buy” sets of binoculars. Find out more about ALPEN products, and locate a dealer by going to

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tales from the Camp--The Rifleman

Fervent Rainwater shifted his cud as I walked up to the camp porch, and spit a long stream of Days Work between the paws of Ol’ Blue, the Redbone hound lying at his feet.

Ol’ Blue’s name matched his physical description about as well as calling him a deer hound described his breed. Which was the reason Fervent named him such.

“Sorry!” He had been heard to complain.

“Thet hound’s sorry. If’n he would stay on the trail of a deer longer’n the first piddlin’ ditch he had to cross, I’d a named him better. Wouldn’t waste the feed on ‘im each year if’n the old lady and kids ain’t took such a shine to ‘im.”

Fervent eyed the new piece slung over my shoulder, and allowed as to how he figured I must be going out to the range to sight it in.

“Never seen a feller so dead set on beatin’ hisself to death with a rifle. How much ammo you figger to burn today?”

Between sighting in and testing loads, between thirty and forty rounds, I replied.

“Shoot,” he snorted, “most fellers around here set up a five-gallon bucket and shoot off-hand at it. If’n they hit it more than twice, it’s sighted in.”

Right, I replied. Most of them don’t shoot their rifles at all between seasons, and miss more deer than they hit.

Ol’ Blue, finally tiring of the odor of the brown puddle growing around his paws, groaned and heaved himself to the end of the porch, seeking a dry spot. Several blue-bottle flies landed in the most liquid pool, kicked their tails skyward, and began to imbibe.

“Reminds me of ol’ Joe Bob Cupit,” Fervent began, as I shifted the rifle in a show of discomfort. Any display to ease my escape before the tale became too involved.

“Joe Bob brung his cousin up here from Baton Rouge a couple years ago. ‘Nother real rifleman, thet one. You never seen such fancy equipment. Looked like he’d been shopping in thet fancy New York sportin’ goods store—what you call it?”

Abercrombie & Fitch? I hazarded a guess.

“Right. Thet one. Anyway, you never seen such a dude. Had his shootin’ breeches on, a padded vest with all them piddlin’ little shell loops, a snappy cap, the whole works. Looked like he was right out of one of them outdoors catalogues.”

Could he shoot, I asked?

Blue groaned again, as if criticizing my encouragement. One of the blue-bottles staggered backwards from the brown puddle, and attempted a takeoff, falling from view off the side of the porch.

“Oh, right well enough, I suppose.” Another stream of Days Work broke the surface tension of the largest puddle, knocking two more flies from its edge. Both wandered drunkenly around the porch, finally following each other down a convenient knothole

“He had some ol’ big rifle, and new high-falutin’ scope. Burned ammunition out there ‘til the cows quit givin’ milk the next mornin’. Brought out all these fancy sandbags, spotting scope, and all thet damn stuff. Joe Bob allowed as to how this feller shot in all them fancy matches all over the state. Real marksman, he said—trophies an’ all thet.”

Well, I started, most hunters think if they sight their rifle in a couple of times at 25 yards, it’ll hit in the same place at 100 yards. The thought of the range was pulling me, but I found myself being drawn into the tale of this cityslicker.

“Shoot, most fellers look at 100 yards, and think it’s 200. They’s been more deer killed at 500 yards ‘round this country than rabbits at twenty. An’ most of them fellers would die if’n someone had them actually try to shoot a deer at 200 yards!”

Right, I said. Not too many people can accurately judge distance. So what happened with the new guy?

“Well, as I said, he near shot his shoulder blue that afternoon.
Sighted it in real well, he said. Joe Bob took ‘im out the next mornin’ and set ‘im up on the Outer Limits.”

I was familiar with this stand. Backed by a hardwood bottom, it looked out over miles of soybean fields on one side, and a vast cutover on the other. Nice place for a rifleman, I said.

“Right,” he snorted again. One of the blue-bottles crawled out of the knothole, to be greeted by a glob of brown spittle traveling at jetstream velocity. The fly bounced back into the hole, stunned.

“This feller, can’t remember his name right now, set up there all mornin’—‘bout midday, we heard him shoot. Joe Bob was all excited. Just knew he’d tagged a buck. ‘Just wait,’ he said. ‘He’ll have one drilled dead center.’ We loaded Ol’ Blue, just in case he had crippled one, and maybe we could get thet worthless dog to trail the blood."

"Rode on out to the stand and found him standin’ by it. Pleased as punch, he was.”

Had he killed, I asked?

“Oh yeah. He killed all right. Nice shot, too. Near ‘bout an honest 200 yards. He was some proud. Only, he tole us it weren’t no deer. Biggest damn lynx he ever seen, he said. Come slinkin’ out of the cutover, and easin’ around in the brush at the edge of the field. Said he was goin’ to get it mounted, and put it in his den.”

How big was it?

“Well, it were right big, I guess. Biggest damn house cat I ever saw. Will say this, though—he drilled thet sucker dead through the center. Weren’t too much left but some ears an’ a paw. Kinda’ looked like road-kill, to tell the truth.”

Did all of you ride him much?

“Hell, no. If’n anyone’s thet dumb to shoot an’ ol’ house cat, an’ be proud of it, we was just gonna’ play ‘long with it. Made a big to-do ‘bout him, and how them lynxes is a curse on the wildlife ‘round here. Thanked him for savin’ all the turkeys an’ young deer, an’ all. Then, we even tried to hang it up, an’ skin it out for ‘im. Kinda’ difficult, to tell the truth, what with there weren’t too much left of it. Joe Bob an’ the rest near cut theirselves with the skinnin’ knives, they was workin’ so hard to keep from laughin’.”

What happened then?

“Well, we told ‘im everbody always got hung with a nickname ‘round here, and we was gonna’ dream up somepin’ real special for ‘im. He swole up some proud at thet. Told us he was gonna’ send us pictures when he got it stuffed. Then we packed him off to Baton Rouge with the carcass on ice. Packed it up real good, we did.”

Did he ever come back?

“Oh Hell, yes. Turned out to be a real nice feller. Came back the next year kinda’ embarrassed. Said the taxidermist feller in Baton Rouge had a real laugh when he brought in a piece of a house cat, an’ said he wanted it stuffed. He laughed about it, got drunk with us the first night, an’ we all come to like him real well. Never did live down thet nickname, though.”

And just what did you hang on him?

“Hell, what else? Everbody ‘round here calls him ‘Bobcat’.”


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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Latin Base is "Vomitus."

Here's what you're faced with, folks...sorry to ruin the day.

Don't anyone say I didn't tell you so.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jessica's Incident

Favorite Daughter called and brightened my morning more than usual.

“Dad,” says she. “I’m really glad you gave me the gun.”

She’s in her first year of nursing school at her university, working on her Bachelor of Science, Nursing.

She lives in an apartment in the small city where she goes to college, and has a roommate--another young lady studying to be a teacher.

Shortly after Jessica turned 21 last year, the legislature began tossing around a bill to allow concealed carry on campus, and she called, filling ol’ Dad’s heart to overflowing.

“I want to take your course. I want to carry on campus if that bill passes.”

She and several pals took the course, and within a month or so, got their permits. She called me excitedly when it came in.

The next time she came home for a visit, she was sitting at the kitchen counter talking to her mother, when I walked by and placed a Model 37 S&W Airweight on the counter.

“What’s that?” She asked.

“That’s for you,” I said. “I used to carry it on patrol as a backup in my boot.”

“I’ve never seen it before, and you didn’t use it in the class.”

“Nope. Too nice a little gun, and an aluminum frame. I wasn’t going to let every student run .38’s through it. Take it and put it in your car.”

“No,” I said, “on second thought, let’s go outside and try it out a few times.”

I live in the country, but it’s semi-rural. There’s a workover rig on a petered-out gas well just a few hundred yards through the woods--and various neighbors and sundry houses within earshot of a gunshot.

Every so often, I like to let one or two off at night, just to remind everyone within walking distance that someone over in this direction has a gun. Generally, it’s at a varmint trying to get to the livestock, but I figure it serves the dual purpose of taking out one pest, and keeping bigger ones away.

After all, we live a half-mile back in the woods. I’m not sure the sheriff’s office could find the house in the daytime, let alone at night.

Not knowing who’s working at night on that rig—and knowing they can see my house lights, I consider it a cautionary act to fire one off occasionally. This was the perfect occasion.

We walked out in the back and propped a paper plate against a rotten tree stump. We made sure the horses were congregated at the barn, and the area was safe. The floodlights of the house gave a glow to the area, and my flashlight illuminated the plate enough to see the sights on the Smith’s 2” barrel.

She fired three cylinders full—and hit the plate 13 out of 15 times. The other two times, she hit the stump, next to the plate. The whanging and banging at the well stopped for a time, as if someone was listening for more gunshots in the dark of night.

“Good enough,” I said. “It’s yours. Go put it in your car, and keep track of it.”

And she has. It goes in the apartment each evening, and in the car each morning.

Unfortunately, the legislature bowed to the ignorance of various coaches, deans, and other educators who ranted and raved that allowing concealed carry on campus would result in violence, bloodshed, and death, and the legislation failed—but not by a lot, and we have hope for next year.

So last night, it’s the end of the Martin Luther King holiday, and they had no classes. We had come in from a great weekend of deer hunting. She had exhibited her usual attacks of buck fever when anything walked out with anything resembling antlers, and was tired.

She and her roommate went to bed early. Terri, a friend, stayed over on the couch because the water was out in her apartment.

She was awakened around 0300 with banging and screaming just outside her apartment window.

“MotherF#####r—I’m Going to KILL You! Get Out of the F####ing Car!”

There was banging and more screaming. “Oh My God! I’m Going to Kill You! Get Outta the F###ing Car!”

She jumped from her bed, and peeked through the window.

Right in front of her apartment, only a few feet from her window, a guy was walking erratically, screaming at her roommate’s car, and beating on it.

“Come out of the car MotherF####r! I’ll kill you!”

There was no one in the car. Her roommate was asleep in the back bedroom.

Jessica grabbed her Smith and her cell phone and slipped into the den/living area. A small two-bedroom apartment, the den opens into the kitchen area, and the front door opens into both. The door is partially glass, with cheap blinds. Jessica’s kitten had shredded the blinds, and you could see through the glass in the bottom of the door.

Terri was huddled on the couch, shaking with terror.

“Jessica. Oh my God! He came up to the door and banged on it. Then he rang the doorbell—he said he was going to kill us. I’m scared to move--I saw his legs! He might see us if we turn on the lights.” Terri was paralyzed with fear, afraid to even leave the couch and move across the room to her cell phone.

Jess sat down on the couch next to Terri, and set the .38 on the coffee table. She opened her cell phone and shined the light on the gun.

“See that?” She said. “You don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Oh,” Terri said. “I’m so glad you’ve got that gun!”

With that, Jessica turned her phone over and dialed 9-1-1.

When the operator asked her emergency, she said “Give me the city police.”

As soon as the dispatcher for the city police answered, she started reciting:

“This is 999 Oak Street, Apartment 5. There’s someone in front of our apartment, beating on our cars, he beat on our door. He sounds drunk or crazy, and he says he’s going to kill someone. You need to get a unit over here now.”

The dispatcher assured her units were on the way, and performed the tasks dispatchers perform the world over. “What race is he? What does he look like? How is he dressed?”

“Ma’am,” she said, “I have no idea what he looks like—and I’m not going to go and look. Just get a car over here now—he’s still screaming out there.”

Four or five minutes later, the dispatcher told her the unit was turning in her parking lot. 30 seconds before that message, the guy had shut up—the screaming had stopped.

“Oh great,” she thought. “He’s gone. They won’t find him. We’ll have to tell them he really was there—we’ll be embarrassed—and scared he might come back.”

She said something like this to the dispatcher, and the woman said, “No Ma’am. They’ve got him. He’s proned out beside your car. Just wait for the officer to come get you.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, laughing nervously, “we’re not going out there.”

Hannah, her roommate, who could sleep through the wail of an air raid siren, wandered in sleepily.

“What are you doing up? What’s going on”

“Oh Hannah,” Jessica said. “You sleep through all the excitement.”

Finally, after what seemed like an interminable wait, there was a knock at the door, and an officer identified himself.

“Can you ladies come out here, and see if you know this guy?”

Not very excited about seeing the cause of all the commotion, they walked outside. The subject was cuffed, standing and weaving beside the car, obviously very much under the influence.

No one had ever seen him before. He was white, and trashy-looking.

He told the cops his buddies had abandoned him, and he thought they were inside. When they wouldn’t answer, he got mad, started yelling for them to come outside, beating on the car because he was mad. No one knows where he came from, or how he ended up in the apartment complex parking lot.

The cops told Hannah he had been beating on her car, and to check it for damage. Hannah was furious—but there was no visible damage.

Finally, the cops left with the subject, his destination the local drunk tank to sleep it off. The cops told the girls he would be charged with disturbing the peace, public intoxication, and whatever else they could think of.

The girls, now fully awake, and unable to sleep, talked for an hour. Hannah had to be brought up to speed.

Both of them wanted to know what Jessica would have done if he had tried to come through the door?

“I’d have hollered I have a gun. If he kept trying to get in, I’d have shot a hole in the roof. If he came through the door, I’d have shot him.”

Hannah, who hadn’t minded Jessica bringing the gun in the house, but wondered why she needed one, now saw the need.

“Jessica, I’m so glad you’re here to protect me!”

Terri said “Jessica—I was so terrified, I couldn’t move. Thank God you had the gun, and knew what to do!”

The next day everyone was telling her how proud they were of her, and how well she conducted herself under extreme stress. All her dad’s deer hunting buddies—her “uncles” at the deer camp who had watched her grow up on a four-wheeler and a deer stand--were bursting with pride over their protégé’ and how she handled herself.

Tonight, she called me—suffering from PTSD.

“Dad—I’m so scared.”

“Why, baby? Afraid he might come back to mess with you? He probably has no idea where he was. Don’t even worry about that, just be cautious.”

“I know. But Dad, I think about it now, and what if I shot him? What if he was actually a good guy, and just drunk, and a little crazy that time?”

“Lemme’ tell you something, daughter. How many drunks have you ever known to beat someone’s car, scream at the car as if someone was in it, and beat on someone’s door, threatening to kill them?”

“No one, but…”

“Roger that. And if they do that, the alcohol—or drugs—only brought out issues that were already there. If they ever try to bust in your door, don’t waste time on a warning shot—just shoot ‘em. Dump the whole load. They aren’t good people doing bad things on alcohol or drugs—they’re bad people with issues and the alcohol just releases that. Don’t ever hesitate, and don’t ever let someone hurt you. I’m proud of you.”

After further assurances that she had done everything perfectly--preparing to defend herself, calling the police, and staying put until the police told her it was safe to come out--she hung up to study, and get some rest. She had done everything by the book.

And I have no doubt any asswipe that thinks he’s going to kick in the door of a couple of terrified girls has got a really big surprise waiting if he picks Jessica’s door.

I’m proud beyond belief of her—and a whole lot more confident now than ever that she can take care of herself.

In the great scheme of things, it was nothing but a drunk and disturbance call—every cop handles too many in his career. They are nothing more than fodder for laughter and stories back at the station--and ribald comments about the apartment just overflowing with good-looking women.

But every cop also knows just how quickly one drunk can become a maniac and killer. It’s a wonderful thing to find out the sweet, beautiful daughter--whom you have raised to be proud, strong, and independent--really listened to all that stuff, and acted quickly and coolly under stress--and her friends relied on her to take charge, and get things done.

I could almost bust.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

One Man Got Involved. The Perry Stephens/George Temple Incident

A dramatic (and controversial) defensive shooting occurred in Baton Rouge on February 17, 2006.

A citizen shot and killed a man who had overpowered and was viciously beating a police officer. The results of that incident have scarred the lives of several people and families.

As with many shootings of this type, the basic facts of the event were covered, but finite details were left out of the reports. Print media will carry the gist of the story, but the nuts and bolts, the details that cover the precise nature of the incident are rarely discussed. Broadcast media reports do little more than cover the high spots, adding drama, but little depth.

Perry Stephens saved a man’s life that day. No witness who watched the event contradicts that statement. George Temple was beating Brian Harrison viciously, slamming his head into the pavement, and trying to take his duty handgun from him when Stephens shot him.

This story has been reported, written about, dissected, and generally beaten into a shapeless mass—and still there were many questions I had as a defensive handgun and concealed carry instructor that were not answered in any of the stories I reviewed in the media. For instance, in no newspaper report or broadcast script I could locate, was it ever stated exactly what happened to Brian Harrison’s gun during this incident.

This is a critical element—if Harrison was sustaining a beating, and a struggle was ensuing for control of the gun, the case for the use of deadly force would be even stronger. One could even wonder if this almost vital fact was purposefully overlooked to lessen the argument that intervention by a bystander was really necessary.

Since we used the incident in our classes, I had a number of questions about what really occurred that day. I wanted a lot of small details that had never been covered in news articles. Since I once taught a class with him as a student, and knew him, I went to the source—Perry Stephens.

Reviewing his collection of news stories and incidence reports, I was able to piece together a much more definitive story of what occurred that afternoon when the stars all crossed, and Perry Stephens used deadly force to save another human being…

Stephens was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer rig on the interstate in the early 90’s. Since that time he has undergone almost continuous cycles of surgeries, recuperation, physical therapy, and more surgeries. He wears a neck brace constantly, and when it is removed, you see the beginnings of a horrendous scar that travels from the base of his hairline down his spine. He currently is recuperating from surgery that placed steel rods in his spine. He has been unable to work full time since the accident, and generally walks with the aid of a cane. He lives with constant, debilitating pain.

On the afternoon of February 17, 2006, Stephens stopped by an Auto Zone store located at the corner of Joor Road and Greenwell Springs Road--a major East-West thoroughfare that goes from blue collar North Baton Rouge through areas of industrial parks and older shopping centers, to a satellite community of Baton Rouge named Central.

Perry Stephens resided in Central, an upper-middle class enclave that has grown up around a sleepy semi-rural community outside the city limits.

Someone had backed into Stephen’s wife’s truck, and he was picking up body repair materials and paint to try to cosmetically fix the damage to the truck.

When he pulled into the lot of the Auto Zone and parked in a handicapped parking place, he noticed a large number of cars in the lot, but it seemed as if most of the occupants were outside, talking and visiting—the store had few customers inside.

As he paid for his purchase and walked out, he noticed a motorcycle cop had pulled a black 2006 Mercedes SL550 into the parking lot, and was apparently writing its occupant a ticket.

As Stephens entered his truck, placing his cane and purchases on the passenger’s side, a fight broke out between the white motorcycle cop and the African/American male who was driving the Mercedes. He saw the driver of the Mercedes turn and strike the cop with his fists.

Stephens was wearing a neck brace, a body brace, and a leg brace, and walking with the aid of a cane. As the driver of the car slugged the cop and drove him backwards with multiple blows to the head and body, Stephens reached into his glove box and pulled out his Sig Sauer P-220 semi-automatic pistol. The gun was loaded with 230 grain Hydra-Shock hollowpoints.

Stephens heard the officer, Brian Harrison, scream for help as George Temple, a six-foot body builder and boxer, pounded Harrison’s face and torso, forcing him backwards and driving him to the ground, dropping on top of him. Stephens heard two gunshots, and Harrison screaming “Somebody help me! Anybody, help me!”

Brian Harrison had been a cop for over 10 years. He had started his career as a reserve deputy with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, and as often happens, fell in love with the job, and joined the office as a full-time deputy. He was assigned to the Parish Prison in 1995 when he was involved in a shooting incident during an armed robbery of a convenience store, and was given a three-day suspension for his actions in that incident.

By the time of the fateful shooting on February 17, 2006, he had been a Baton Rouge City Police Officer for a number of years and was assigned to the Motorcycle Division. He was respected by his fellow cops as a professional officer.

On that day, he had gone on duty at 0545 in the morning, and was off duty at 1345 hours. He was working an off-duty detail with another motorcycle officer escorting a funeral that afternoon after getting off work.

While escorting the funeral, and changing positions constantly with his partner as they blocked intersections to allow the funeral cortege unhindered progress, Harrison observed a black 2006 Mercedes SL550 enter the procession by coming up from behind the procession and cutting in front of a family car. The SL550 is an expensive, low-slung, two-door sport model.

This “funeral-jumping” is a common practice of motorists in a hurry. They will cut into a procession, frequently turn on their lights, and turn out of the procession when they reach their destination or turning point. The Baton Rouge Chief of Police, Jeff LeDuff, spent a great deal of his time professionally as a motor officer. After the incident, he said he had written “hundreds” of such citations.

Harrison was blocking the intersection, and as the Mercedes passed him, he motioned to the driver to pull over, out of the procession. The driver ignored him.

Harrison then caught up with the Mercedes, and riding beside it, ordered it to pull over. The driver rolled down the window and looked at Harrison, then looked straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the motorcycle officer.

The driver ignored Harrison’s continued motions and verbal commands to pull over for some distance, but finally turned right into the parking lot of the Auto Zone, pulling into a parking spot.
Harrison later stated the subject yelled out of the window as he was pulling in the lot, “I don’t know why you are doing this!”

Harrison dismounted his motorcycle, approached the vehicle, and informed the driver he was being ticketed for interfering with a funeral procession.

Upon being told this, Temple became aggressive and abusive, telling Harrison, “This is not going anywhere. This is just a waste of time. Call your boss. Look what kind of car I’m driving, man. This will all be taken care of.”

Harrison continued to write the ticket, then asked Temple to sign it, informing him it was not an admission of guilt, simply a statement he would appear in court to answer the charge.

When Harrison tore off the ticket and handed it to him, Temple reached into his pocket and pulled a roll of money from it, asking “What’s it going to cost to make this go away?” The roll of money was later determined to contain over $3500.00.

At this attempt at bribery, Harrison informed Temple he was under arrest. He placed the ticket book on the top of the car and ordered Temple to exit the vehicle and to turn and place his hands on the car. Harrison opened the door for Temple who stepped from the car. The car began to roll backwards, and Temple reached back in to put it in park. Temple then grabbed his cell phone and jammed it to his ear, attempting to make a phone call, jamming himself into the wedge of the open door.

Harrison ordered Temple to step away from the car and put his hands behind his back. Temple refused to submit when Harrison attempted to pull his arm behind him for handcuffing, and began fighting. Harrison sprayed Temple with pepper spray, which had no discernible effect on Temple.

Temple was at this time on probation for simple battery and criminal damage to property according to clerk of court records obtained by The Advocate, the Baton Rouge daily newspaper.

Six months earlier he had forced his way into the home of the mother of his son. An accomplice held a gun on her roommate while Temple assaulted his ex-girlfriend in an argument over the child. He was later arrested and charged with simple battery and other misdemeanor charges for the assault. He had so terrified the two women, they had made several complaints to the city police about the beating and threats by Temple, and both had purchased handguns to protect themselves from him.

As Harrison reached again for Temple’s arm to bring it around and handcuff him, Temple swung around and struck Harrison in the face with his fist, staggering Harrison.

As Harrison fell backwards, Temple attacked him, striking him rapidly in the face and torso with his fists. Harrison fell backwards with Temple coming down on top of him. As they fell, Harrison pulled his .40 S&W Glock 22 and fired one shot into the ribs of Temple. Temple was heard to cry out “I’m hit! I’m hit!”

The round was later found to have ricocheted off Temple’s rib, doing little damage.

An eyewitness came forward after the incident stating to a local TV station he heard exactly what was said between the officer and Temple. He stated he was parked a couple of spaces away, and didn’t pay much attention to the incident until the officer and the subject began yelling at one another. He said Temple called the officer a “punk…” and said “you’re just jealous of my car” after they began to struggle.

The witness said the officer took quite a beating. “You could hear them muffled…’Mother’ this and that. ‘I told you not to mess with me. I told you—I’m a beast, I told you not to mess with me. I told you. I told you.’”

He stated: “I mean, Mr. Temple was a big man…the man probably saved the officer’s life…But if this would have been on a dark road, we would probably be looking for a cop killer, to be honest with you.”

Harrison, who was taking a tremendous beating, was desperately trying to keep his weapon from falling into the hands of Temple. Temple was slugging him, and grasping his gun hand. He pushed the slide of the gun into the pavement, and fired it twice. He later told Stephens he was trying to empty it, or cause it to jam to keep Temple from getting it from him and killing him with his own gun. He succeeded. The gun malfunctioned, and was later found to have a spent casing still in the chamber.

Stephens said he counted over 15 people witnessing this incident from the front of the building and around the parking lot. Harrison was screaming for help as Temple beat him, “Somebody help me! Anybody help me! Stop! Stop! Stop!”

An off-duty sheriff’s deputy saw the incident occurring and heard the shots fired as Harrison desperately tried to keep his duty weapon from being taken by his assailant. The deputy tried to fight his way around traffic, making the corner, but by the time he pulled into the lot, the incident was over, and Temple was dead.

As he got into his truck, and saw the fight begin, Stephens reached into his glove box and pulled out his Sig Sauer P-220 semi-automatic pistol. He exited the truck and stood beside the rear of it, not intending to get involved unless the cop couldn’t contain the incident. Then he heard the shots and realized Harrison was in serious trouble.

Hobbling over within 6-8 feet of the two men, he hollered several times at Temple to stop, leave Harrison alone, and get off him.

Stephens could not see that Harrison had jammed his duty pistol under his body, trying to keep it from Temple who was continuing to rain powerful blows on his face, and slamming Harrison’s head into the pavement.

Stephen’s statement: “The driver dominated the officer through the entire incident. The driver stayed on top of the officer, pinning him to the pavement. The officer’s body was positioned with his legs and buttocks on the pavement—his upper body wrenched to the left with his left shoulder and left side against the pavement.”

“The driver was straddled across the officer pinning the officer’s legs with his legs, holding the officer with his left hand and beating the officer with his right fist.”

“Not heeding my commands to stop, I fired my pistol rapidly several times…The driver didn’t appear phased (sic) by the shots and continued beating the officer. I quickly gave another command for the driver to ‘Get off.’”

“Instantly the driver grabbed the officer behind the neck and head and slammed his face into the pavement. At the same instant, the driver thrust his right hand/arm under the officer’s upper body…”

With Harrison continuing to scream for help, and Temple continuing to beat him, Stephens placed his walking cane under his left arm, and took aim with both hands to get a better angle of shot and avoid hitting Harrison. The first shot hit Temple in the left breast, under the nipple. Stephens did not shoot at Temple from the rear as has been frequently stated, but rather from a side position. The bullet entered Temple’s chest, and came out through his scapula (shoulder blade.) His next three shots struck Temple in the left shoulder and upper back area.

After the four shots, with Temple showing no effect from the four bullets, Stephens again ordered Temple off Harrison. Temple ignored the orders and continued to beat Harrison.

Stephens then took one step forward, reaching within approximately three feet of the men, Temple still viciously beating Harrison. Temple was still on top of Harrison, his left arm on Harrison’s neck, and his right hand and arm under Harrison. As Temple slammed Harrison’s head forward to the pavement and lunged forward with his hand and arm under Harrison, Stephens fired his final shot into Temple’s head behind his ear. The bullet exited the rear of Temple’s head. Stephens said while he did not actually see the gun, other witnesses told him Temple had finally wrested control of the duty Glock from Harrison and was pulling it from under Harrison’s body when Stephens shot him in the side of the head.

At that shot, Temple ceased beating Harrison, and turned, reaching towards Stephens with a look on his face Stephens described as “rage.”

Temple then fell over, off Harrison, and made two attempts to sit back up, looking at Stephens before he collapsed and expired.

Harrison struggled to stand up. According to Stephens his face was covered with blood and he would have been “unrecognizable.” Various reports later stated Harrison suffered a fractured jaw. Harrison himself thought his jaw had been broken. Later reports are unclear as to whether bones were broken, but his contusions and cuts were treated at a local hospital. Stephens handed his handgun to Harrison, who removed the magazine, unloaded it, and placed it on the trunk of a car until it could be secured by evidence officers.

Numerous calls to 911 had been placed by Auto Zone customers and motorists who had witnessed the incident, and units were on the scene from both the city police and the Sheriff’s Office within minutes. It was determined the incident had taken place just outside of the city limits, and the Sheriff’s Office would be the investigative agency with responsibility. Several detectives and uniforms from that office quickly took control of the scene, began gathering evidence, and interviewing what would turn out to be numerous witnesses to the incident.

Stephens was transported to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office where his statement was taken. A lieutenant with the office, an African-American, transported him back to his truck later, only to find a crowd still gathered on the scene, and several deputies engaged in crowd control, as the group exhibited angry tendencies.

The lieutenant ordered one of the deputies on the scene to get Stephen’s truck and bring it to the substation. It was deemed too dangerous for Stephens to be allowed to get out of the EBRSO unit and drive his own truck off the lot. This was done, and Stephens was transported to the substation where he was reunited his truck.


Numerous articles were written and broadcasts were made about this incident, which inflamed a large portion of the African-American community. The NAACP called for a Justice Department investigation, as well as a citizens’ review board of police shootings. The Justice Department investigation was initiated, but later dropped with no criticism of the investigation of the incident by all participating agencies.

The Mayor of Baton Rouge, and the Police Chief, both African-American, steadfastly refused to consider any sort of citizen review board, standing up to intense pressure from the African-American community.

The investigations by the sheriff’s office and city police, containing reams of evidence and interviews with multiple witnesses were turned over to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office for final determination in the case.

The actions of both Brian Harrison and Perry Stephens were found to have fallen in the parameters of the justifiable homicide statutes under Louisiana law. No charges were filed against either of them.

A lawsuit was filed by the mother of George Temple’s son, accusing Brian Harrison of excessive force in his attempt to effect an illegal arrest, and Stephens of “vigilante” action in coming to the aid of Harrison.

Among the claims listed as a reason for the lawsuit was a “loss of consortium” with Temple.

The lawsuit, the only one filed in this case, is still pending.


Louisiana Revised Statute 14:20 (2) of the Louisiana Criminal Code

20. Justifiable Homicide

A homicide is justifiable:

(2) When committed for the purpose of preventing a violent or forcible felony involving danger to life or of great bodily harm, by one who reasonably believes that such an offense is about to be committed and that such action is necessary for its prevention. The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fear of a reasonable person that there would be serious danger to his own life or person if he attempted to prevent the felony without the killing.

22. Defense of others

It is justifiable to use force or violence or to kill in the defense of another person when it is reasonably apparent that the person attacked could have justifiably used such means himself, and when it is reasonably believed that such intervention is necessary to protect the life of the other person.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Katie--Get Your Gun

Katie called me this afternoon, laughing at herself.

"Hutch, I don't know if I'm getting more paranoid from hanging around you, or senile as I get older."

Getting older doesn't fit--she's in her early thirties, married with a son. She and I work together, and of all the young women I work with, Katie's my favorite.

Tough, funny, attractive, she and her husband,Chuck, took my concealed carry course--where she didn't outshoot him, but gave him a run for his money.

After the course, they both got their carry permits, and she asked me to help her shop for a handgun. We settled on a Glock 19--a compact model in 9MM. She was comfortable with it, and not ashamed to pack it. Most of the young women in the office just shook their heads when she told them she carried, but most started talking about taking the course themselves. Katie's independence and self-assuredness amazes them, I think. The difference between her and them is they talk about learning to take care of themselves, but always have more important things going on. Katie identifies, compartmentalizes, and acts on the important stuff.

Chuck hunts a lot with his family in Mississippi on the weekends, so Katie is home with Eddie, their small son. The doorbell rang this afternoon, and Katie peeped out the door, always cautious. We've had a series of home invasion robberies in the past few months, so she was wisely being careful.

"He looked sort of geeky, you know? But serial killers look average don't they? So I grabbed the Glock and stuck it in the waistband of my workout pants. When I answered the door, I had my hand on my hip, the Glock in the small of my back, covered by my T-shirt."

"When I opened the door, I saw his wife and yappy little dog standing on the sidewalk. They were just dropping by to give us a $25.00 check for winning the neighborhood Christmas decoration contest."

"Hutch, I was ready to shoot the guy if he came through the door!"

"And," I asked, "the problem with that was...?"

"Nothing, but it's sort of funny that I think of getting the gun first, now."

"Could you have gotten a shot off if he had charged you?

"Oh Hell yes! I worked the slide back this morning twice, and made sure the chamber was loaded. My hand was on my hip, right beside it. Nobody's going to get me and my baby when I'm home alone."

I don't think Chuck worries very much about anyone getting her and the baby. She ran five miles this morning, pushing the stroller with Eddie in it. She says she'll probably start carrying when she jogs, now.

I love it when the training sticks, and one of our woman students becomes more sure of herself, confident in her use of her handgun, and her ability to defend herself and her family if need be. It makes you feel as if all the work is really worthwhile.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

When Are We Gonna' Get Our Act Together?

It happened again today--I get these questions weekly now.

There's this guy I've known for years--we graduated high school together, went to the same university, both still attend the same church in the semi-rural community where we grew up.

He's been working diligently putting a group together at church to take the state CHL course from me. They want to use the rec room for the class portion, and travel to the range to do the shooting segment.

So far he tells me he has over 40 folks signed up. That means maybe 20 will show when the time comes--still, a good class.

Yep. A church group, getting their permits.

I LOVE the deep South, where we still fanatically cling to our religion and guns. Sort of a "God takes care of those who take care of themselves" mentality down here.

So we're talking the logistics of setting all this up, and he drops this hammer on me:

"Do the guns they bring to the class have to be registered?"

When I get over the choking spell, I try not to get too excited with him.

"Charles--this is LOUISIANA, brother. There is NO gun registration here. Of any sort."

"Oh. OK. Cool."

"No Charles, I don't think you understand. There-is-no-gun-registration-here. You don't need anyone's permission to own a gun. And you don't have to let the government know you have a gun. You should be outraged by the thought of it."

By the time I finish explaining, he understands.

But I worry about this.

We know the vast majority of the citizenry either likes guns, or has no problem with them. But the fact is a large portion of these friendly but not-very-knowledgeable gun folks are not highly offended by the prospect of gun registration.

IF the body politic, by and large, is not offended by the thought, and is willing to accept such, what happens when the attempt is made?

I sometimes think we as a community become entirely too inbred.
Sort of marrying our own first cousins, if you will. We read the blogs, the e-mails, and the magazines--and roundly preach to one another, making up our own vast choir. And we make so much sense to one another, it is almost impossible to fathom how anyone could not think exactly the same way.

And all along, Joseph Citizen is out there, a possible ally, with the sheep-like acceptance that gun registration is OK because the government is only wanting to protect us.

I don't know what the answer is--but we better do something fast. With the new administration looming over us, we are going to need all the help we can get.

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Send a Message to Washington

Everyone in the gun world has been wailing and gnashing teeth over what the new administration will do to attack our gun rights. I think there is little doubt in the next four years we will not only see attacks on our freedom to bear arms, but a steady erosion of those rights.

Barack Hussein Obama has loaded his cabinet with former Clinton appointees, and just in case you have forgotten, Bill Clinton was the most effective President to date in effectively reducing gun ownership rights.

Friendly Bill's method was effective because he nibbled around the edges, never taking big bites. His was the "camel getting his nose under the tent" theory of gun control.

You know that one. You let the camel get his nose under the tent.

Next thing you know, you have this big-smelly-humpty-furry thing squeezing in your sleeping bag.

Clinton nibbled, and killed us slowly with small cuts. He reduced the number of FFL licensees by more than three-quarters, gave us ten-round magazine limits, pushed assault weapon bans, and initiated countless other aggravating and devious assaults on the Second Amendment.

Hate him for it all, but you had to respect the brilliance of it. His was the most effective administration to date in enacting gun control on the U.S. populace--all because he recognized a full frontal assault on the Second Amendment would cause outrage and protests.

B.O. will be even more effective--because half his people have already fought in the gun grabber wars, and all his people are on board against gun ownership.

The forum has taken a leadership role in sending an effective message to Washington.

A while back, thousands of folks protested Congress' failure to move to stymie the flow of illegal aliens over our border with Mexico. They mailed thousands of bricks to legislators, demanding they use the bricks to build a wall.

A movement was born, and Congress, inundated with bricks, quickly took notice, moving to improve border security and reduce the invasion.

Now RTKABA has come up with a similar idea: mail 1 foot boards to designated members of Congress on each Tuesday.

On Monday, the forum will identify a targeted legislator.

On Tuesday, participants will mail their boards, with the Second Amendment printed on the side of them, and personal letters protesting any legislation that will limit gun ownership rights.

They're calling it 2X4 Tuesday, and it sounds like a great idea--innovative, and different enough to get a lot of media attention.

The forum has all the information, and if you want to get their professionally made (and perfectly sized) plaquards to staple or glue to your boards, they sell them for the very nominal fee of $5.00 for 6--or you can make your own.

The whole idea is to have multiplied thousands of packages arrive at the Washington office of specific anti-gun members of Congress each week--a 2X4 paperweight for their desk stuffed inside. The slogan is "We gave up a foot for our arms." Or anything else you want to say to them.

It's a heck of an idea, and I encourage everyone to go to the forum and learn more:

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Back in the Old Days...

These were called "Saturday Night Specials."
A friend thought no collection like mine would be complete without examples of the lower order, and he donated these two awful things to me.
We pull them out for laughs, and serious thoughts on self defense.

Because no matter how cheaply made they were, and no matter how many worse (Yep. Worse.) examples I pulled off heathens on the street, I always have to remind myself that to some of those poor folks living where the worst that can happen occurs nightly, these examples of gunmakers' art might have been all they could afford to keep the hordes out on the street, out of their house.
Junk guns indeed.

But they worked.
Sometimes, we have to get past the gun snobbery and remember that.

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