Despite the political tenor about guns and our rights to some or all of them, we are lucky to be gun owners in the year 2013. We have firearms that are reliable nearly to a fault, a bevy of accessories that enhance our abilities to shoot them well and better protect our lives and our loved ones, and more gun sports than ever before with which to enjoy our handguns, shotguns, and rifles.
That wasn’t the case in 1970. Gear, training, and accessories were superlatively limited compared to what we have today. So, too, were their applications near-sighted. This is nowhere more evidenced than in the tragic shooting deaths of four California Highway Patrolmen in Newhall, California.
Hampered by a compromising political agenda, poor gear choices, and a lack of training, four CHP officers lost their lives, when they encountered a pair of thugs who, frankly, were better armed and better prepared to deal the blows in a gun fight. That shooting, dissected and detailed as never before for the first time in Michael E. Wood’s Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis, there’s much we can gain by taking a look back at this footprint in self-defense history.
You might ask, “Why self-defense? Isn’t this about police work and training?” The immediate answer is yes. The Newhall tragedy rocked law enforcement agencies across the country, causing nearly all to reevaluate their standards for everything from holster choices to suspect apprehension to firearms training requirements and much, much more. But, when you read Newhall Tragedy and realize what really happened here, what the situation really came down to was that the officers who died did not have advantage on their side, through a comedy of errors that were without comedy. Caught unaware and worse, unprepared, for the shoot-out they found themselves in, they were in the unenviable position of defending themselves.
You might be in that position someday, too. Or maybe you’ve already been there and wished you’d done something differently. In either case, this look back at this moment in history is useful both for its hindsight views, explained thoroughly and thoughtfully by author Wood, and as an opportunity to learn from those who made the mistakes you don’t have to. A read well worth your time — and your reflections.