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Thread: Why you shouldn't search with a weapon-mounted light on a handgun - Massad Ayoob

  1. #71
    Chronic Leg Day Skipper BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmandayam View Post
    This is taking it too far for a regular home owner defending his home. The goal in this situation is not to immediately kill the home invaders, but instead kick them out or stop the threat primarily, and if that doesn't work, then you can use use deadly force. But sneaking around in your house with the lights off and sniping the home intruders in the cover of dark is just cringe and can get you into some legal troubles.
    What is your background to give this advice? What nation's legal system is it applicable to?
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  2. #72
    Site Supporter Hambo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmandayam View Post
    I don't need to be trained by a professional to kick some home intruders from my home.
    Great epitaph, bro. It's also not a statement you want to have to explain during deposition or trial. Just sayin.
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  3. #73
    Member Phaedrus's Avatar
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    This might already be kind of irrelevant given how wild this discussion has become but I'll throw it out there- a cell phone will probably never come close to a dedicated handheld light, at least barring some as-of-yet-undiscovered new physics. The actual LED on the die is just part of the system. It's unlikely that a manufacturer would be able to fit the kind of die needed to match the output of a tactical light. But even with the same emitter it wouldn't perform the same. A light is a system made of many parts. First you need battery capacity and voltage. Probably a cell phone can do that albeit with some heating and endurance issues. Heat is another big one. Powerful lights are most often metal which serves as a heat sink. The Malkoff light engine previously mentioned actually included a huge brass heat sink, and it's backfilled with thermal epoxy to mitigate shock and control heat. The last part is the light engine. Potent lights from Cloud Defensive, Elzetta, Malkoff and Surefire use computer-designed reflectors or optics purpose built for a task. An 'orange peel' reflector will create a somewhat diffuse light whereas a TIR system will tend to have a more focused beam. Elzetta uses a solid acrylic optic that protects the emitter and focuses the light. Unless new physics is discovered you need to focus or direct the light, usually through reflection or diffraction. Look at a rifle scope as an example. You can't physically get, say, 30x magnification with a 200 foot field of view at 100 yards, optics doesn't work that way. Designing for one attribute generally is done as the expense of others. If the light die on your phone could output 2,000 lumens it would be very low candella without some kind of lens, and a lens on a phone can only be so deep in practical terms. That's one reason there are stick-on lenses for your iPhone, to create a focus no possible on the CCD die. So yeah, you could create a shallow ring of fresnel-type reflectors but you can only do so much. And this ignores the fact that virtually no phone maker would find it financially sane to try to engineer this into a consumer phone.

    Beyond that there's practicality. I always have a flashlight in my pocket and occasionally have had to use it to help a coworker change a tire in the winter. If you ever do this alone you'll notice it takes two hands and three or four is better still. Do you want to set your phone down in a snow bank or rain puddle to shine on your tire while you work? If you do you're the first person I've ever met that did.

    And if you're searching for an intruder, do you have a good method of wielding the phone like a search light while you use it to talk to the cops? Can you use the light to search while you use the camera to record? If you have to fire your weapon do you plan to quickly grasp the phone in your mouth to keep the light on the intruder?

    Choosing a phone over a light feels a lot like choosing to use an entire can of Right Guard to hide your BO instead of taking a shower.
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  4. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by TCinVA View Post
    A few weeks ago I was made aware of someone who caught a boatload of felony charges because he investigated a suspicious vehicle that happened to be full of lost teenagers. He investigated with the light mounted on his pistol...meaning he pointed a gun at multiple minors who posed no reasonable threat to anyone.

    Certainly his decision making in "investigating" a vehicle on a public road in the first place is the root of the problem, but had he been using a regular flashlight and a holstered gun he'd likely not be facing such life-altering consequences.

    That gets at the root of what Mas is saying.

    The WML is a very specific tool for a very specific context. Disciplined use of that tool where it is useful is fine. Very few people (including police officers) have the requisite level of training or discipline to use the tool properly.

    Something Tom is making a point to emphasize in his classes is that the consequences for stupidity with a gun are increasing. At many points in the past, if someone did something stupid with a gun and there was no real harm done, the consequences for the act were relatively minor. Today we have permitless carry in almost half the states and some form of concealed carry in all of them. We have a larger percentage of people carrying guns than we have had since WWII, getting high enough up there that we're starting to look more like the late 19th and early 20th century when concealing a handgun on a regular basis was a dead common thing to do.

    In concert with that, the authorities are becoming less and less charitable in their handling of stupid acts with firearms, including more aggressively pursuing charges in instances where a gun was pulled or pointed at someone else. Increasingly the principle of picking up accountability when you pick up the gun is getting bigger and sharper teeth in more and more places.

    A pistol-mounted light is almost completely useless to a typical concealed carrier. I don't carry my pistol with a WML because in my view it's as useless as tits on a boar. I'm not doing building searches or felony stops. I need a damned compelling reason before I ever pull my gun out of the holster and if I have that compelling reason I don't need the WML at that point. I'm perfectly happy carrying a normal light and knowing how to use it in concert with a pistol for those statistical outlier situations where I might end up deliberately clearing the house of a family member or friend with my pistol.

    At home my defensive long guns have lights, but home defense is a different situation altogether than dealing with typical street crime. At home the primary worry is positive identification. A light mounted on the gun is a last ditch failsafe to ensure I have adequate information to make an intelligent UOF decision. A forcible entry into the home is a situation where your typical citizen is at the zenith of their ability to have a gun in hand prior to positive identification of an immediate threat. So there a WML on a long gun or pistol makes a great deal of sense...but even there discipline in the use of the light is at a premium because ostensibly that environment has a bunch of people and things you care about in it and you don't want to be pointing death at any of that willy nilly. The risks are real, but in that environment given how common it is for family members to get shot because they are assumed to be an intruder, the risk/reward calculation shifts in favor of having the light and using it more liberally.

    WML's are attached to deadly weapons. Where the light's hotspot goes, so too goes a muzzle.

    Col. Cooper's rules about firearms aren't range rules, they're rules for life that help us mitigate the possibility unintentionally hurting someone with a lethal weapon. If we injure or kill with a firearm it should be an intentional act. Controlling where we point the thing is of primary importance, and pointing the thing at someone who hasn't earned a bullet is actually a criminal act everywhere in the country.

    Simple truth is that the vast majority of people who will watch that video on youtube really shouldn't be searching with a WML.

    I recently watched someone whip out a Glock in a parking lot to look at a flat tire.

    You aren't doing that. But there's a whole lot more of the dude who "investigates" the car full of teenagers with a WML or the guy who pulls it out to illuminate a flat tire change in a parking lot than there are of people who can intelligently discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the WML on a forum like PF. So Mas isn't just pissing in the wind on this one.
    FWIW

    I think this thread should be a Sticky.

    Also think this post by TCinVA should get it's own Sticky.

  5. #75
    Deadeye Dick Clusterfrack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dov View Post
    FWIW

    I think this thread should be a Sticky.
    Good idea. Done.
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