In Rantoul Tuesday evening, Guns Save Life hosted long-time trainer Frank Hubbard. A retired Decatur cop who now serves as chief of the Decatur Park District Police (who patrol 6000 acres of properties, including the airport), Chief Hubbard gave a candid discussion on the importance of training, both mental and physical in the role of self-defense.
He began laying out his thoughts on everyday Americans packing heat. Hubbard’s very pro-gun and pro-good guys with guns. Why? Not only might you save his life some day, but card-carrying good guys with guns might have his wife or daughters as well. He called CCW holders an “Army of Righteousness.”
Unfortunately though, gun owners are big on the equipment but short themselves on how to use it without thinking about it. Joe Gun Aficionado can often tell you all about the gun they carry, its specs, and the type of rounds he uses with perfect execution. But have them draw and present their gun in less than optimal conditions and flawless turns to clumsy and slow at best.
It’s important and helpful to consider scenarios and ideal reactions to various stimuli. For instance, identifying exits in public spaces, or “what if” scenarios while in your home. Or “what if” you see someone acting hinky around your toddler grandchildren in a public space and you’re concerned they might try to snatch your kiddo and make a run for it…
Equally important are the physical aspects of training and technique.
He covered many aspects including the role of repetition in how to make present and shoot unconsciously. 10,000 repetitions will make an act come just as naturally as tying your show or fastening your seatbelt. And if your life depends on you making your gun work in a deadly force encounter, then if you’ve followed your training and got your reps, the odds go sharply in your favor.
As an example on video, he mentioned the recent Decatur police-involved shooting involving a child sex offender rolling dirty with not just one, but two guns.
Officers had a report that Jamontey Neal, 30, had a gun. As a felon and child sex offender, he was a prohibited person. Ignoring the law, because that’s what criminals do, ol’ Jamontey had two guns – one in his waistband and another under his thigh on the front seat of the car when cops pulled him over.
He acted all squirrely when officers asked him to show his hands. He kept running his mouth trying to distract the police from his hands. Once he saw officers were going to bring him out of the car, he drew a gun from his waistband and fired shots at the officers.
The armed kiddie diddler hit two officers. Included among these officers was Sgt. Tim Wittmer. Neal’s rounds hit Wittmer in multiple locations on his body early on in the gun battle.
As Neal began shooting at the cops in an effort to take out the cops so he could drive away (in a very poorly thought out plan), the officers by and large returned the favor.
They shot Neal, causing his gun to malfunction. A darn shame, right? Instead of throwing up his hands and surrendering like he had half a brain, the lifelong criminal doubled down on felony stupid. He returned to the car, grabbed the second gun and came back for another helping of ballistic therapy. To which the officers, including Sgt. Wittmer, seen on the left of the above frame provided with gusto to save their own lives.
One of Neal’s rounds struck Wittmer in the right hand and gun, causing a malfunction. While under fire from the would-be murderous felon, Wittmer cleared the malfunction (which two two racks of the slide) and then he emptied the magazine into his attacker, ending the threat.
Who said you can’t fix stupid?
Even more remarkable was that by this point in the gun battle, Wittmer had been struck by at least four shots, including one that tore up his dominant hand. Yet he still got the gun back into action and saved his life and likely other officers’ lives as well.
What wasn’t known was that Hubbard knew Wittmer and trained with him a lot. Every day, Wittmer reportedly practiced malfunction clearing ten or fifteen times, working towards those 10,000 repetitions. Those practice reps quite possibly saved his life that night.
And they serve as a real-life example as to why those of us who carry everyday to defend our lives and the lives of other innocents around us need to practice in order to improve our odds of success in a deadly force encounter.
Here’s the bodycam video. NSFW. Graphic violence and language.
Of course, the would-be cop killer’s brother blames the cops for his brother’s untimely death.
Because Jamontey Neal couldn’t have behaved himself and not drove around Decatur with guns in his lap. And because Jamontey couldn’t have followed officer commands to show his hand and submit to lawful directives.
Oh yeah, and because Jamoney couldn’t help but try to murder his fellow human beings. Twice.
But violent criminals are going to commit violent crimes. From the Herald and Review:
DECATUR — The brother of Jamontey O. Neal, the Decatur man who was shot to death in a gun battle with Decatur police, told a coroner’s jury Wednesday that the traffic stop leading to the fatal shooting had been handled too aggressively.
Billangrein Neal said video of the shooting, which has been made public by Decatur police but was not shown to the Macon County Coroner’s jury, supports his view that the police were overly aggressive.
“That wasn’t routine, coming up on the car like that. He had his wallet out and he asked them (the police officers) ‘What did he do?’” said Billangrein Neal. “You just don’t walk through no door aggressively, opening up doors and saying things like ‘I’ll shoot you if you don’t get your hands up’ …” he added, characterizing the police behavior as he saw it.
Neal was shot to death in an exchange of gunfire after his vehicle had been pulled over just before 1 a.m. Oct. 12. On the police side, Sgt. Timothy Wittmer had his hair parted by one bullet and was shot in the finger, foot and arm. Officer Austin Bowman was shot once in the left side of his abdomen.
The shooting was investigated by the Illinois State Police and, based on that report and his own examination of the facts and body cam video from the scene, Macon County State’s Attorney Scott Rueter ruled in November that the use of deadly force had been justified.
That was also the conclusion of State Police investigator Justin Lankford, who carried out the shooting investigation and testified at Wednesday’s inquest. The jury, which considered their verdict for more than half an hour, also concluded Neal’s death had been a case of “justifiable homicide.”
Several jurors had questions about the nature of the traffic stop which Lankford said was legitimate. He did not elaborate but police have said, and Rueter confirmed in his report, that officers had been tipped off that Neal, a convicted felon who was not allowed to be armed, was traveling with weapons.
While an untimely death is always a tragedy in a society that values life, sometimes stopping a homicidal maniac is more important that protecting life. Decatur as a community, and the kids therein, are all better off without Jamontey Neal preying on the innocent.
Back to Hubbard’s presentation…
Noting how attitudes have changed, Hubbard recalls how people used to scatter at gunshots. Today, gang members will oftentimes stand firm in the face of people shooting at them. Even with rounds impacting at their feet or all around them, these tough guys will stand there pounding their chests and taunting their adversaries.
Meanwhile, Hubbard laments how too many CCW holders don’t get out and practice enough. While some gun owners may brag about their skills, targets don’t lie. And targets not lying is one reason he admitted to a reluctance to compete or shoot against everyday people in his early years as a cop.
“I’m Mr. SWAT, and there’s no way I want to have a 17-year-old girl destroy me on the range,” he said with a chuckle.
Today, he loves shooting with other people because he can always learn things from others. And yes, sometimes they outshoot him.
Ultimately though, to make yourself more likely to overcome an attack, he strongly recommended dryfire practice, noting that it only takes 10,000 reps to make firearm manipulation as natural as tying one’s shoes or fastening a seat-belt. “Only 10,000?” That’s doing something a mere ten times almost everyday for three years.
Or doing something twenty to twenty-five times everyday for a year.
Having done that in the case of malfunctions, you may be able to fix a malfunction after getting shot in the hand as you’re fighting for your life against an adversary less than 15 feet away without any cover between you and them.