A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Self Defense’ tag

Learning Lessons the Hard Way

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I’d imagine that most of you were taught to keep your hands to yourself at a pretty young age. I certainly was. However, some people can only learn this lesson the hard way:

A woman jogging Friday morning in Salt Lake City fought back against a man who came up behind her and groped her.

She was attacked about 6 a.m. in a neighborhood near 1700 South and 500 East, Salt Lake City police spokesman Greg Wilking said.

The woman was carrying a small knife in her hand and stabbed the man multiple times when he grabbed her.

And a valuable lesson was taught.

With sexual assault so prevalent in the news, it’s nice to read a story about how high the cost of sexual assault can be. The biggest enable of sexual assault is likely the extremely low cost of perpetuating it. Sexual assaults often face no physical or legal consequences. If sexual assaulters were commonly beaten, stabbed, or shot, the cost of perpetuating sexual assault might be high enough where would-be sexual assaulters would reconsider their actions.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 17th, 2017 at 11:00 am

An Interesting Psychological Phenomenon

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Whenever there’s a story about an instance of abuse where the victim failed to fight back I see at least one comment asking why the victim didn’t fight back.

It’s an interesting question. I’ve often asked the same thing about inmates on death row. There is a population of individuals who have nothing to lose. If they follow the rules and act submissive, they’re going to die anyways. Why don’t they fight back? Certainly the minute chance of escape is better than the guarantee of death, right? Yet we seldom read stories about inmates on death row making a last ditch effort to escape before they’re executed.

It’s an interesting psychological phenomenon. I wish I had a better understanding of it.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 16th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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The Importance of Out-of-Band Verification

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Yesterday I received an e-mail that appeared to be from a friend. It was a short e-mail asking what I thought about the contents of a link. The first red flag was that this friend seldom e-mails me. We have other forms of communication that we use. The second red flag was the e-mail address, which was his name at a domain I wasn’t familiar with. The third red flag was the link, it went to a domain I wasn’t familiar with.

Friends asking me about content on unfamiliar domains isn’t unusual. Moreover, friends e-mailing me from unfamiliar domains isn’t without precedence since new “privacy focused” e-mail domains pop up everyday and I have friends who are interested in e-mail providers who respect their users’ privacy. I smelled a scam but wanted to make sure so I contacted my friend through another messaging service and he confirmed that he didn’t send the e-mail.

The combination of social media with people’s general lack of security has made a lot of social information available to malicious individuals. If you want to specifically target somebody, the social information is often available to do it convincingly. Even if you’re not interested in specifically targeting somebody, the social information that is available is often complete enough that it can be fed to an automated tool that sends targeted e-mails to anybody it has information about. These types of scams can be difficult to defend against.

One method for defending against them is establishing multiple channels for communicating with your friends. Between e-mail, Signal, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, text messaging, Skype, XMPP, and a slew of other freely available communication tools, it’s easy to ensure that you have at least two separate means of communicating with your friends. If you receive a suspicious message that appears to be from a friend, you can use another form of communications to verify whether or not they sent it. Admittedly, such a tactic isn’t bulletproof. It’s possible for an attacker to compromise multiple communication methods. However, it’s more difficult to compromise two communication methods than to compromise one.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Trigger Warning

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I make not effort to hide the fact that I believe gun ownership should be expanded to everybody, which is why I was happy to read this article:

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—The former pacifist pumped a shotgun at the firing line.

Lore McSpadden never touched a gun before the Trigger Warning Queer & Trans Gun Club started this past year. Now McSpadden is among the shooters routinely yelling, “Pull!” and blasting at clay pigeons angling over a mowed field near Rochester.

Trigger Warning members are anxious about armed and organized extremists who seem increasingly emboldened. Their response has a touch of symmetry to it: They started a club to teach members how to take up arms.

“It’s a way to assert our strength,” said Jake Allen, 27, who helped form the group. “Often, queer people are thought of as being weak, as being defenceless, and I think in many ways this pushes back against that. And I want white supremacists and neo-Nazis to know that queer people are taking steps necessary to protect themselves.”

Trigger Warning members meet once a month to shoot still targets and saucer-shaped pigeons. The 18 dues-paying members are all LGBTQ, many just learning about guns.

Traditionally individuals who fall under the LGBT banner have been tagged as anti-gun progressives. This has lead quite a few curmudgeons in gun owner circles to see LGBT individuals as opponents, which has established a rather nasty circle where LGBT individuals are put off by gun owners who are put off by LGBT individuals being put off by gun owners and so on. But necessity is the mother of invention. Feeling threatened is usually a good motivator for people to learn how to defend themselves.

Although Trigger Warning is a small group at the moment, which isn’t surprising since it currently exists in a state ruled by a very anti-gun government, I hope its ranks expand quickly and new groups like it spring up all around the country. The stereotype of LGBT individuals being anti-gun has made violent individuals who wish to prey on them see them as easy targets. If more LGBT individuals become open gun owners, that stereotype will hopefully fade with time. If that stereotype fades away, it will likely dissuade a lot of predators who are looking for easy targets.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 25th, 2017 at 10:30 am

They Came for Violence

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If you listen to self-identified national socialists, you would be lead to believe that they had no violent intentions in Charlottesville and that they only resorted to violence to defend themselves against the international socialists. However, material posted in chats for organizing the event indicate that those claims of self-defense are spurious at best:

Unicorn Riot has so far published roughly 1,000 screenshots of chats, and the recording, conducted through the app Discord, from a source. A march organizer says the documents he has seen appear to be authentic. Transcripts show participants openly planning violence while organizers instruct them to obey the law. Participants on one call debated when it would be permissible to use riot shields as weapons. “Some screaming little Latina bitch comes at you and knocks your teeth on your riot shield, that means you hit her, and you’re going to get in trouble for the weapons,” one participant says.

Timothy Litzenburg represents two women injured in the melee who last week sued 28 groups and individuals, including the alleged organizers of the Unite the Right march. He says the documents could be “the crux of the case,” because they show “a little flavor of how [organizers] totally intended on violence and mayhem.”

While Unicorn Riot cannot be called an impartial source (it’s a hardcore leftist media collective), it did provide screenshots from the organizer’s Discord server that have so far been undisputed. Moreover, it’s no surprise that a bunch of national socialists planned to perpetrate violence since national and international socialists have been killing each other for a long time now. But this information does lend itself to a more interesting topic: self-defense.

In Minnesota, one of the requirements for legally using deadly force in self-defense is that you must be a reluctant participant. That is to say, you must not have willfully entered yourself into the violent situation. I personally think that it’s a good principle.

So the question here is, can the national socialists claim self-defense in this situation? Obviously that question can only be answered on an individual by individual basis. However, the material released by Unicorn Riot shows that at least some of the individuals who went to Charlottesville did so seeking violence. They knowingly put themselves into a situation that was all but guaranteed to turn violent (violating the “Don’t go stupid places,” principle of self-defense) and specifically expressed a purpose to perform violence.

I know there will be some debate about whether or not one can claim self-defense if they knowingly went somewhere that they reasonably believed would turn violence, however, one thing is certain: prosecutors eat up material like this. And that is another important point. While situations that qualify as self-defense can be debated, what you post online can and will be used against you if you are ever in a situation where you claim self-defense. Protecting yourself doesn’t stop after the situation itself, it starts before that situation and ends after that situation. Before you get into a self-defense situation, you should take care of how you portray yourself because a prosecutor will use your character against you after the situation.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Pieces of Paper Are Just Pieces of Paper

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There appears to have been an honest to goodness axe murder in the Twin Cities:

Gallagher’s wife told police that she had been lying on the couch in the living room when she heard a noise at the front door and saw Hoogenakker breaking into the house. She ran to call 911 and saw Hoogenakker pull her husband into the living room and onto the floor, where he hit Gallagher, swinging the tool with both arms, before pulling him outside.

A man who is a renter in the Gallagher home said he heard a fight downstairs that then spilled outside. The renter told police he saw the attacker walking away from the house. Police used a dog to track the man to a house a few blocks away, in the 300 block of Ninth Avenue.

Hoogenakker came outside and was arrested by police, who found the ax-like tool in a closet. ” Hoogenakker” was etched into the handle. Hoogenakker also admitted that he attacked Gallagher, who had an active harassment restraining order in effect against the suspect.

There are two important points to take away from this story. First, a restraining order is not a self-defense tool, it’s a legal tool. While a restraining order grants certain legal benefits that can make them a valuable tool in the courtroom, it is entirely incapable of actually protecting anybody.

Second, the police are more often than not cleanup and retribution, not protectors. When you call 911 a police officer doesn’t immediately teleport to your location. You have to wait for an officer to get from wherever they are to wherever you are, which generally takes minutes. When you’re being attacked by somebody, you usually don’t have minutes. Oftentimes, as in this case, when the police do arrive the attack has already concluded so their job is to find the perpetrator so vengeance can be had. While vengeance may have a certain appeal, it’s not as appealing as still being alive.

When you’re being attacked you’re usually on your own. That being the case, it would be wise to invest in some self-defense training as well as tools to better enable you to defend yourself.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Best Option for You

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A lot of electrons have been annoyed by people writing scathing diatribes because the various governmental bodies responsible for Houston, Texas didn’t issue an evacuation order. I think that this article did a good job of pointing out just how much of a clusterfuck planning and responding to disasters on this scale are.

There was obviously disagreement between the various governmental bodies responsible for Houston. Some bodies wanted to perform an evacuation, other bodies didn’t. As with most things in our modern age, the disagreement was taken to the Internet. Governor Greg Abbott advised people in the lower areas of Houston to get the fuck out. Meanwhile, the local and country government officials were telling residents to shelter in place. Who was right? With the 20/20 vision offered by hindsight, a lot of people are saying that evacuating would have been the correct choice. But they are missing a critical piece of information. When Hurricane Rita was making a beeline for Houston in 2005, the order to evacuate was given. More than 100 people died in that evacuation. As of this writing, five people are known to have died in the aftermath of Harvey. If we judge results by death toll, the decision to not evacuate Houston is still significantly ahead of the decision to evacuate the city in 2005.

Realistically, evacuating a city the size (in both geographic area and number of people) of Houston isn’t feasible. There are too many people and too few exits to get everybody out at the same time. Neither the roadways or public transit systems are designed to handle everybody using them simultaneously. If you’re in an area that is about to be nailed by a natural disaster and an evacuation order is given, it’s already too late to get out.

Instead of arguing about whether or not Houston should have been evacuated, you might want to consider, if you haven’t already, developing your own disaster survival plan and begin implementing it. Having a plan head of time makes surviving much easier. Furthermore, you shouldn’t rely on the orders issued by government bodies to decide whether or not you’re going to evacuate an area. They’re (assuming their intentions are good, which may not be the case but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here) going to look at the big picture. Their concern is going to be what’s the best option for the largest number of people. You should be concerned about you and yours. An evacuation may not be the best option for the largest number of people, but it might very well be the best option for you.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 29th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Survival Tips for Minnesotas for the Next Two Weeks

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For the next two weeks the road pirates are going to be increasing their fund raising efforts enforcement of the arbitrarily set speed limits:

On Wednesday, Zak, a lieutenant with the State Patrol, joined with officials from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to put on the demonstration to show how long it takes to stop while traveling at various speeds and how drivers’ reaction time goes down the faster they go. It comes as law enforcement from 300 agencies statewide begin a two-week speeding enforcement campaign from Friday through July 23.

[…]

The state’s crackdown on speeding coincides with a national effort and is paid for using funds allocated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While officers will be on the lookout for lead-footed drivers statewide, target teams will be stationed along routes known to see fast drivers, including I-494 in Bloomington, near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and on I-94 in the construction zone from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center.

Since the threat of violence against motorists is going to increase I feel the need to point out some survival tips.

  1. Don’t be black. Studies have shown that road pirates tend to respond more violently to black individuals.
  2. Use Waze to both report any road pirates and to receive warnings about any reported road pirates.
  3. Turn on your smartphone’s camera, preferably to livestream the stop, and lock the screen. You want to have a record of the entire stop in case you’re murdered but you don’t want the phone unlocked because the officer might decided to rummage through it for evidence of more crimes. While such a search may be illegal the Supreme Court has ruled that illegally collected evidence is admissible in court.
  4. If you are a permit holder remember that Minnesota law only requires you to disclose if you’re carrying a firearm to an officer if they specifically asks. Don’t volunteer such information. If you do the police officer may panic and fire multiple rounds into you at point blank range. If this happens the officer will be acquitted of any wrongdoing.
  5. During a traffic stop make sure you have your license and proof of insurance out before the officer gets to your window. Failing to do so will require you to move your hands when the police officer is at your window and that might spook them. Like any wild animal, a spooked police officer is unpredictable.
  6. Have both hands firmly of your steering wheel at all times. By firmly I mean gripping your steering wheel so hard that your knuckles turn white. Only consider moving from this position if the officer gives you a direct order to do so.
  7. Assume the most submissive position possible. Police officers like to feel dominant. If they feel that their authority is being questioned in any way they might “fear for their life” and shoot you dead.

While this list could be extended I’m going to keep it brief in the hopes that you’ll be able to remember every point if you’re pulled over. If you follow these tips your chances of surviving a police encounter should increase. If for some reason, say due to your genetic makeup, you’re unable to follow one or more of these tips, well…

Written by Christopher Burg

July 7th, 2017 at 10:00 am

It’s Not Your Data When It’s in The Cloud

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I’ve annoyed a great many electrons writing about the dangers of using other people’s computer (i.e. “the cloud”) to store personal information. Most of the time I’ve focused on the threat of government surveillance. If your data is stored on somebody else’s computer, a subpoena is all that is needed for law enforcers to obtain your data. However, law enforcers aren’t the only threat when it comes to “the cloud.” Whoever is storing your data, unless you’ve encrypted it in a way that make it inaccessible to others before you uploaded it, has access to it, which means that their employees could steal it:

Chinese authorities say they have uncovered a massive underground operation involving the sale of Apple users’ personal data.

Twenty-two people have been detained on suspicion of infringing individuals’ privacy and illegally obtaining their digital personal information, according to a statement Wednesday from police in southern Zhejiang province.

Of the 22 suspects, 20 were employees of an Apple “domestic direct sales company and outsourcing company”.

This story is a valuable lesson and warning. Apple has spent a great deal of time developing a reputation for guarding the privacy of its users. But data uploaded to its iCloud service are normally stored unencrypted so while a third-party may not be able to intercept en route, at least some of Apple’s employees have access to it.

The only way you can guard your data from becoming public is to either keep it exclusively on your machines or encrypt it in such a way that third parties cannot access it before uploading it to “the cloud.”

Written by Christopher Burg

June 9th, 2017 at 10:00 am

You are Responsible for Your Own Anonymity

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Reality Leigh Winner (who, despite her name, was not a winner in reality) is currently sitting in a cage for the crime of leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents. Unlike Edward Snowden, Reality didn’t purposely go public. But she made a series of major mistakes that allowed the NSA to identify her after she leaked the documents. Her first mistake was using a work computer to communicate with The Intercept:

Investigators then determined that Ms Winner was one of only six people to have printed the document. Examination of her email on her desk computer further revealed that she had exchanged emails with the news outlet, the indictment said.

By using a work computer to communicate with The Intercept, she made hard evidence against her easily available to her employer.

Her second mistake was physically printing the documents:

When reporters at The Intercept approached the National Security Agency on June 1 to confirm a document that had been anonymously leaked to the publication in May, they handed over a copy of the document to the NSA to verify its authenticity. When they did so, the Intercept team inadvertently exposed its source because the copy showed fold marks that indicated it had been printed—and it included encoded watermarking that revealed exactly when it had been printed and on what printer.

Most major printer manufacturers watermark any pages printed by their printers. The watermarks identify which printer printed the document. In addition to the physical printer, the watermark on the document posted by The Intercept also included a timestamp of when the document was printed.

Reality’s third mistake was trusting a third-party to guard her anonymity. Because of The Intercept’s history of working with leakers it’s easy to assume that the organization takes precautions to guard the identities of its sources. However, a single mistake, posting the printed document without editing out the watermark, gave the NSA enough evidence to narrow down who the leaker could be.

The lesson to be learned from this is that you alone are responsible for maintaining your anonymity. If you’re leaking classified materials you need to do so in a way that even the individual or organization you’re leaking them to is unable to identify you.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 7th, 2017 at 11:00 am