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The 2020 election altered my viewing habits, though not tremendously.  Due to his increasing lack of balance and leftism, I had, for some time, been pulling away from anything involving Chris Wallace. Since the debate where he did all he could to rescue Gropin’ Joe Biden, I’ve had nothing to do with him.  I also have completely ignored Bret Bair’s “newscast,” and limited my Fox exposure to the occasional Internet news story—as long as I can confirm it with other, more reliable sources—and while I regularly watch and enjoy Tucker Carlson, I am all but done with Sean Hannity.

This is something of a shame, as he has had a role in upholding the Republic, but he’s become far too full of himself.  It is, I suppose, mostly a matter of style.  If a guest has a three-minute segment, Hannity will blather for two minutes.  Virtually every show, Hannity will be doing an interminable set-up, talking about his views rather than asking a question, and a guest will be patiently waiting, never sure if Hannity is done so they can begin speaking.  He often interrupts guests to blather more, and in general, doesn’t let his guests speak.  Stylistic, to be sure, but I view these shows not to reinforce my own beliefs, but to hear interesting viewpoints I have not yet considered.  Hannity, more and more, is getting in the way of that.  Carlson, on the other hand, after a usually insightful and interesting monologue, lets his guests speak.

On his April 13, 2021 show, Hannity was speaking about the apparently accidental police shooting in Brooklyn Center, MN, a town on the NW border of Minneapolis, and the continuing rioting and looting in response.  The mayor of that city, a Black man, fired the City Manager, another Black man, because he dared to suggest the officer involved should be afforded due process Bizarre, and dangerous that in 2021, merely suggesting one of the pillars of the republic ought to be honored is controversial.  Then the Mayor and the City Council, lifted the curfew aimed at limiting damage to their city, and removed the ability of the police to respond with non-lethal means, essentially disarming them and giving criminals free reign.

On the same show, the Mayor—who cares what the idiot’s name is?—actually said he didn’t think police officers should be allowed to carry arms on traffic stops, and in most other circumstances either.  Oh, in case you haven’t heard as yet, gentle readers, the person shot by the unfortunate officer, a 20 year-old black criminal wanted on a felony armed robbery warrant, died.

Hannity’s commentary was, as usual, repetitive and overly long, but reasonable, until he got very much outside his knowledge base and began prescribing use of force policy for the nation’s police.  His solution?  Byrna.com:  

Byrna is a company marketing nothing new, but in a somewhat new way.  The police have, for many years, had available air powered pepperball guns, usually in rifle form. The Byrna product pushed by Hannity, who tells us he has one, is merely a five shot, CO2 powered pistol that fires three different types of projectiles:

None of these are new, but Hannity thinks them absolutely amazing and infallibly effective technology.  He showed what is obviously Byrna-produced video, showing slow walking “attackers,” including one heavily muscled and tattooed, bare chested police officer, immediately stopped and incapacitated by the application of a few projectiles at close range.  Hannity thinks this technology is far more reliable than a Taser, works at longer range, and will incapacitate an attacker, or give an innocent the opportunity to “run away; run away!”

He couldn’t be more wrong.

In the Brooklyn Center case, it appears the officer believed she had a Taser in her hand when she was actually holding her Glock.  The bodycam footage suggests there was no one more shocked than she after she pulled the trigger and realized she was not holding a Taser.  There is no reason to believe that were she carrying a Byrna pistol, there would have been any difference, except a Byrna pistol is far larger and more bulky than some Taser models.

There are many primary problems with Hannity’s assumptions, but to be completely fair, he’s far from the first to make these mistakes, and must be given the benefit of the doubt for good intentions.  A great many police officers and administrators have done the same, and worse.  And of course, we constantly hear from pundits and others shilling for various “alternatives” to handguns, some simply silly, all potentially dangerous–to the innocent.

The biggest problem, however, is what I’ve come to call the SPOIT rule, the Sober Police Officers In Training, rule: technologies and techniques that work splendidly on sober police officers in clean, dry, well lit training conditions often spectacularly fail in the real world of police work.

Why might this be so?  Because police officers can’t afford to get seriously injured, nor can they afford to seriously injure another officer in training.  They’re not hopped up on drugs, or in a homicidal rage.  So Tasers, various restraint techniques, and various chemicals will virtually always work on them, for the aforementioned reasons, and because all environmental factors have been eliminated, and everything is done at known distances.  The parameters of employment and limitations are known to all and observed.

In a restraint class I once took, the instructor, a cocky young state trooper, was demonstrating an arm bar takedown he bragged was infallible, until he tried it on a burly, small town deputy.  The Deputy, a stereotypical good old boy, was about 6’ and 250 pounds, and was one of those guys who wasn’t a weight lifter, but had real upper body mass and natural strength.  I had to suppress a grin as the state trooper struggled mightily as the Deputy merely leaned a little off center as the trooper fought to apply the technique.  The slightly grinning Deputy didn’t have to fight him; he just didn’t play along.

I’ve seen a variety of people, police officers included, shrug off solid Taser jolts.  Every experienced police officer knows when pepper spray is used, everyone, including the officer, gets sprayed.  They also know pepper sprays, and tear gas, are annoying indeed, but they have little effect on some people, and others who are drugged, or simply angry and determined, push through them and do as much damage as they please while their eyes are watering, they’re coughing and their noses are running (been there, done that, got the Kleenex).  Experienced officers also know chemical sprays are pretty much useless in moderate to high winds and when it’s raining or snowing.

I’m not suggesting such technologies or techniques are useless—they’re not—only that they’re not infallible, and when they fail, far more often than their manufacturers and cheerleaders like to admit, officers had better be ready with serious backup.  This is why smart officers commonly have at least one officer prepared with a handgun if “less lethal” options fail.

As for the Byrna system, again, it’s nothing new, just slightly repackaged in a smaller form.  The company claims a range of some 60’—20 yards.  Perhaps, but that’s really optimistic.  In the videos Hannity showed, the “perps” all advanced–very slowly–on the shooter from no more than 20 feet, allowing the shooter to put two or three projectiles in their upper chest, which is necessary to disperse the chemicals into their faces.  They advanced very slowly, at far less than a walking pace, and the atmospheric conditions were ideal.

Here’s the ugly reality.  The police aren’t usually competent shooters.  

Many civilians (that’s what the police call non-police) are far better shots.  Under stress, most people, including the police, regardless of their abilities on a clean, dry, windless range, are terrible shots.  There are innumerable recorded incidents of a police officer and a bad guy emptying their guns at each other at inside-a-coat-closet ranges and missing with every round.  Nationally, police hit percentages are horrifyingly low, even at arms-length range.  As range increases, hit percentage decreases to near zero.

Knowing this, imagine a determined attacker who is going to do whatever it takes to get to you.  Even if you anticipated the attack—most bad guys aren’t going to politely announce their intentions and give you time to prepare–even if they were 60’ away, what is the likelihood you could hit them repeatedly in the chest as they rushed you?  What if they simply held up their hands to intercept the projectiles, or held a portion of a jacket between their body and your pepper ball pistol?  What if they ducked and dodged?  Worse, what if the conditions for the use of deadly force were present—you’d be legally justified in shooting—and all you did was annoy your attacker by missing, or even hitting them…somewhere?  And you’re standing there—momentarily–with an empty air gun…

I’m sure Hannity had good intentions, but he’s far outside his knowledge base, and giving bad advice, not only to the police, but to others.  Worse, D/S/C politicians might just take his advice, disarm the police, and allow them only pepperball guns.  I don’t begrudge any company marketing a lawful product, but the old saying applies:  be careful what you ask for—or recommend—you just might get it—or force it on others.