- Jan 8, 2008 at 10:23 am #1415289Jan 8, 2008 at 11:26 am #1415296Adam RothermichBPL Member
@aroth87Locale: Missouri Ozarks
AdamJan 8, 2008 at 11:37 am #1415301EndoftheTrailBPL Member
Alright then. Let the womenfolk finish up their camp chores… us men will down our whiskey, chew and spit our last tobacco — then all to bed!Jan 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm #1415305Michael SkwarczekMember
There's times when a moderator would be handy.Jan 8, 2008 at 3:18 pm #1415345Jesse GloverMember
@hellbillylarryLocale: southern appalachians
I apologize for making this thread a gun debate. If we are going to argue about guns let's do it in another forum.
It was released to the news today that she was killed by blunt force trauma (most likely one of those expandable batons) and decapitated postmortem. This just makes me sick. And apparently this guy was some kind of hiker serial killer. The cops are looking at him for the murder of 2 older hikers in NC.
BTW there is NO way this guy will get away with an insanity defense. He covered it up after all.Jan 8, 2008 at 3:28 pm #1415347EndoftheTrailBPL Member
Sorry for going on a tangent, but do y'all remember back just a few years ago, when a pair of young hikers camping on a beach in California were both shot dead — point blank — while still in their sleeping bags? That was horrific. Did they ever catch the killer?Jan 8, 2008 at 4:25 pm #1415351Paul HuhnMember
@trlhikerLocale: Eastern NC
According to articles, she died from blunt force trauma and was decapitated. Investigators also believe that she was held for at least 3 days alive. I am truly disgusted and horrified at what this young woman went through in the last 3 days of her life. Hopefully someone in prison will take care of this monster.Jan 8, 2008 at 4:44 pm #1415354Neil BenderMember
On these forums, we tend to value the judgements and opinions of others with experience. Here are some of mine over a 30 year span.
I've used both pepper spray (actually OC & CS combo) and a handgun defensively a few times in my life and will carry both wherever I assess the cost-benefit ratio meets my situation. That's why I am reluctant to suggest that what works for me is a solution for others; arguing from the specific to the general is a logical fallacy.
In the general case handguns are universally adopted as the most effective equalizer invented for self defense (surprise use, close quarters, low collateral side effects) by those who go in harm's way. If you know a priori where you might need one, you could simply chose not to go to those places. I've never known anyone who is attacked who had a gun wish they didn't have it (meaning under their immediate control); but many who have been caught unprepared have all wished they had access to a gun when things went bad. I've had the good fortune of learning from other's hindsight, and the bad fortune of finding myself in places where I needed it.
In the case of pepper spray, it has for me stopped attacking dogs successfully on bike tours when nothing else worked, and as a pedestrain convinced a gang of four club yielding youths to disengage and retreat even though they had successfully beat a companion to the ground and were inches from taking my head off with a baseball bat. The spray failed to disable, but had the effect of tipping the odds away from an easy beat down and grab and run robbery. This occurred in a high crime urban neighborhood in broad daylight, in the open, in a park a stones throw from my house. The same dudes had been friendly or at least neutral in the past. The police advised me not to file a report since they would then have to charge me for having the illegal pepper spray.
I also once armed myself with a pepper spray (legal now)to investigate noises in the back of a restaurant I worked in only to be rushed by 2 masked armed robbers with revolvers. Fortunately they never saw the spray or an aggressive posture on my part or they likely would have shot me. I credit a street smart sensei who taught real defense tactics as well as traditional martial arts with my non-threatening approach and distracting concealment/compliance motion. Lying face down on a can of pepper spray on a concrete floor for 10 minutes is damned uncomfortable but beats get center punched by a .357 at 6 feet. They got away with thousands of dollars and were never caught. The restaurant hired an armed guard the next night. This occurred in a very posh suburban neighborhood with low crime.
In the use of a handgun, the simple (implied?)display of a sidearm stopped the attack which began as an interview or conversational diversion. When the two predators simultaneously encircled me and flashed knives and threatened me, a legally carried handgun became my first option because of prior experiences with pepper spray failing to stop.
This occurred in broad daylight in a parking lot of a Scottsdale shopping center in a nice neighborhood with somewhat distant witnesses who were oblivious to the fact that an attack was imminent, was attempted, and thwarted. No shots were fired, no police reports were filed, no stories ever made the news. I'm not even sure the attackers saw the gun, as the draw motion and my demeanor alone was enough to get them to retreat to a van and drive off. I didn't get the plate because I thought they might be going to get a gun and I stayed behind the cover of the car I was behind. Had either one cleared that car I was prepared to fire, but thankfully it didn't go that way.
In discussing the assault with a Scottsdale police officer, I was commended on my 'level-headedness' but advised to get a bigger gun in case I needed to shoot to stop, which the officer informed I was justified in doing as soon as they displayed deadly weapons in that manner. Nothing I didn't already know, but movement to cover was a higher priority than target acquisition, though I was boxed in between the cars and their encircling would have prevented escape. The whole thing was maybe 4 or 5 seconds but seemed like minutes. Some cops who wear body armor often talk and act more like cowboys than the average civilian, but the law also gives cops more room for error. My retort was that a bigger gun would be left at home protecting the inside of my safe anyway. There is only so much a small framed person can carry. That's why I subscribe to this website. So theoretical superiority or utility is trumped by actual practice.
One can argue statistics all they want, or consider pathologies of failure or likelihood of successful outcomes ad nauseum, but when one is confronted with a predatory criminal, the only expert at that time and instant is you, the choices you made that lead you there,and the choices open to you from that point forward. Armed civilians are less likely to shoot innocent bystanders than police because the curcumstances are totally unambiguous and the courts hold civilians to a higher standard than cops. I've yet to meet a woman who wasn't sure of a rapist's intentions in the moments before the assault. Some times the gap between intentions or being controlled or disabled allows for a decisive, defensive response if one is prepared.
When the criminals don't know who is armed, those who don't carry get free rider benefits. Wherever carry laws have been relaxed in the US, violent crime has reversed its upward trend and non-confrontational property crimes tend to increase. I doubt this generalizes to the trail, but it might. One or two well publicized accounts of successful trail self defense might provide the lesson.
Adrenalin is a double edged sword. In my experience, being a thrill junky, I've never found it disabling in the instant of defensive need, but the after-effects leave me shaken, drained and nauseous. Social conflict seems to stress the system more than catching air or crashing.
Personal safety is a personal choice. I know I can free solo certain grades and ratings of climbs safely, I know I can get fast and effective SAR response, and I have never had anything fall on my head or smacked my head on the crag. But in a vertical environment I always climb with a rope, wear a helmet, and back-up my anchors. One can argue the effectivness of anchors on ice, but in a fall a manky ice screw beats no protection at all because it just might work. Anyone who suggests that another climber's protection habits are paranoid, worthless or dangerous is always welcome to climb their own climb.
Similarly with fire extinguishers. An early first response with the right safety tool pre-empts a flare up from becoming an incident. We don't suppose that anyone with a fire extinguisher would run into a burning building.
Similarly the hundreds of thousands of legal gun carrying US citizens aren't cowboys or hot-heads, TV and yellow journalism notwithstanding. You don't hear about successful gun defense much because countervailing force usually defuses the situation. Polls of violent convicts shows they most fear confronting a scared, armed victim.
Most violent gun deaths in the US are associated with the drug trade. Poverty doesn't cause crime. Murder rates in the US peaked in 1929 and dropped during the depression with the repeal of alcohol prohibition. This has little to do with trail predators however, but depending on your commute to the boonies might be a factor in someone carrying an appropriate tool for their own safety.
The posts on this topic have been civil and constructive (excepting many cliches and strawmen building) for the most part. People might want to know that many people do carry sidearms on trails in the US, and you will likely never know by their look, style, or demeanor under normal peacable circumstances.
Whether or not the young woman could have made good use of a sidearm in her instance can never be known. As for me I know what I am capable of and have never countered anyone who didn't provide unmistakable provocation. I've also withdrew from a few similar circumstances, but as I get older, running from the lion becomes less attractive of an option than outsmarting it with technology and tactics. Avoidance is the best tactic. Avoidance comes naturally from situational awareness, and for me situational awareness is an even higher priority when I am armed. Your mindset may vary; void where prohibited by law.Jan 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm #1415361
Ben, I don't remember the killer in that California case ever being caught.Jan 8, 2008 at 5:49 pm #1415364Jan 8, 2008 at 5:51 pm #1415365Doug JohnsonBPL Member
Neil, very well said. Thank you for your words. I live in AZ and conceal carry. Too much at stake with a young family, and I see the news every day; we're not in Kansas anymore, Todo. There is definitely a higher level of personal responsibility when carrying, and I take all the precautions I can to avoid any type of conflict.
On the trail, however, I have a different mindset. My focus is on other types of predators, and the odds of any type of attack that would warrant a firearm are slim to none. I would rather focus on the scenery! As always, YMMV.Jan 8, 2008 at 7:42 pm #1415388Frank RamosMember
I don't have a gun and I don't trust myself to carry one, though maybe it's something you get used to after a while. Something tells me I might just pull the thing and blow someone away for saying something I didn't like…
Anyway, I have faced threats many times. I was robbed at gunpoint 3 times, I've been shot at once, and I was jumped many times, and many people I knew were also robbed at gunpoint. The 1970's was a rough decade in urban America, especially due to racial tensions. Crime now is mostly drug dealers killing other drug dealers. In the 1970's, at least in the big cities, it was all kinds of young punks from the ghettos robbing and mugging everyone. Things are a lot better now, at least in my experience. What I learned from all this is that it is important to stay calm and avoid exciting the robbers if you get into trouble (all 3 times, these punks who robbed me had their hands shaking with their finger on the trigger while they were pointing the gun at my chest) and there is nothing like running to avoid trouble in the first place. Trust your instincts and if they say "danger", then just turn and run without hesitating. Generally speaking, the bad guys will hesitate at this point and by the time they finish thinking, you should sufficient head start to avoid being hit by any handgun. In reality, most punks are too lazy to pursue someone with a head start and won't shoot at you either if you are any distance. And if they do shoot, then they will probably miss. Few people can hit a target the size of a human at 20 yards with a handgun (other than by sheer luck) unless they are trained at pistol marksmenship. By contrast, if you have a gun, then you will probably hesitate yourself, thinking, "should I pull the gun or should I run?" and so you lose this headstart advantage.
I plan to continue emphasizing an instinct for danger and running ability. Most backpackers are probably in great shape for running, especially cross-country or uphill. I'm over 50 myself and I sure I could easily outrun most punks, especially going uphill or cross-country. Also, if you are in thick wilderness, then most punks will avoid following you because they'll be afraid of snakes or whatever. Then again, I don't hike with a woman, so that's a different situation.Jan 8, 2008 at 7:51 pm #1415389Richard ScruggsBPL Member
Upon googling for more information on the Georgia murder, learned that a possible connection is being investigated between the Georgia murder and the murder of one hiker and suspected murder of that hiker's husband last fall in a different state (North Carolina).
Here's an excerpt from a news article at today's Winston-Salem newspaper's website:
"Meanwhile, authorities said they are exploring a possible link between the disappearance of Emerson and the presumed killing of a couple from North Carolina in October.
"Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said there could be a connection between the Emerson case and the disappearance and presumed killing of – John and Irene Bryant, a couple in their 80s who disappeared in October while hiking in the Western North Carolina mountains.
"GBI spokesman John Bankhead said that Georgia officials planned to meet with North Carolina authorities to discuss the case.
"Transylvania County, N.C., Sheriff David Mahoney noted that Georgia authorities have reported that their suspect was wearing a yellow jacket. Someone who used the Bryants' ATM card in the days following their disappearance was wearing a yellow jacket.
"He also pointed out that the ATM transaction took place in the Tennessee border town of Ducktown, about 50 miles from the area of the Georgia investigation.
"The body of Irene Bryant, 84, was found covered with leaves in November. John Bryant, 80, is still missing, and authorities said he may have been kidnapped to provide the couple's bank account security number."
JRSJan 8, 2008 at 8:56 pm #1415400Shawn BasilMember
This whole incident has hit a lot of us in the region very hard.
For many of us, the southern AT and the surrounding community are as much a part of our comfort zone as Cheers was to Norm.
To have something like this happen jars the whole community. Some focus on wanting Hilton to burn (either in the chair or in Hell or both). I prefer to dwell on helping Meredith's family. Many of us have offered up prayers and others on various forums have worked to set up collections for flowers, and possibly, if Meredith's family wishes it, a memorial somewhere in the vicinity of the trail where she and her dog hiked.
I apologize for bringing up the firearms issues in this thread earlier. I hope folks can take a breath and remember that this thread started about a tragedy, that very real people are still hurting on many levels, and that this might be a good time to mourn the lost and simply appreciate what we all still have.Jan 8, 2008 at 9:50 pm #1415405Jan 9, 2008 at 3:30 am #1415418Arapiles .BPL Member
Happy New Year
"I now live in Japan; happily, this country is so safe I have no need to carry a weapon."
Is that cause or effect? Doesn't the safety come from the fact that neither you nor anyone else can go about armed?
(N.B., As in Australia, hand-guns are utterly illegal in Japan.)Jan 9, 2008 at 5:52 am #1415422Paul RichardsonMember
They're way too heavy to carry!
When I first started backpacking I did carry a handgun. As I moved into lightweight gear, that 9mm was one of the first things to go. Would I feel better carrying a handgun? Sure. But, I also would sleep better in my comfy bed at home. So, for me it is a weight issue. I'm sure I could purchase a lightweight pistol, but frankly my gear dollars are more apt to be spent on the latest, greatest tent, rain shell, etc; I just can't get to excited about a new handgun.
There is inherent risk in entering the backcountry. I spend very little time worrying about what might happen. I do my best to be prepared within reasonable weight limits, and If I die, I die. At least I went doing something I loved. I feel as safe in the backcountry as I do anywhere else. If I had a sherpa or a friend with me who likes to carry heavy stuff, I would throw in a handgun and lots of other heavy items.
I have no issue with anyone that chooses to carry a handgun in the backcountry. If my wife chose to go on a solo trip, I would feel much more comfortable if she was carrying a gun. A gun is a tool, no more, no less. A tool that can cause serious harm just like my pocket knife, my hiking pole, a rock I pick up, etc. But in the end, it is not 'evil' or 'wrong', it is just a tool. Some feel that they must have it, some don't. Why this subject is source of endless debates, I have no idea. It is cliche, but the old adage is true: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
Would a handgun have saved the GA Hiker? Who knows, but I certainly admire her and all of us who hike (gun or no) for not letting the risks outweigh the pleasure of enjoying the backcountry.Jan 9, 2008 at 6:10 am #1415424Neil BenderMember
Japanese americans who have access to firearms have even lower rates of homicide, assault, and other violent crimes than native citizens in Japan. Dave Kopel wrote an interesting book entitled something along the lines of 'The samurai, the mounty, and the cowboy" that examines historical crime and legal trends for Japan, US, and Canada. Even when Canada had similar gun ownership rates and no gun laws, their violent crime rates with and without gun use has always been lower than the US.
People like to assume or believe all cultures are equal, but there is obvious cultural differences in tolerance for resorting to violence in all its forms as an acceptable behavior to solve problems or assert dominance in relationships. Formed from an armed revolution and then having a bloody civil war it is amazing the nation ever got on its feet and remained standing, but not without long lasting aftereffects. Our media and our government over dramatize both official and criminal violence, and simultaneously apply gate keeper bias and marginalization to righteous self defense. The Swiss have high rates of civilian gun ownership but under an honorable and well socialized yeoman militia tradition.
The tolerant and pluralistic US society also has had the unfortunate side effect of destroying behavioral norms that allowed for social constructs such as shame that used to help keep people behaving civilly toward one another. Rude behavior at sub-violence levels and passive-aggressive festering are tolerated where at one time bullies and instigators would have their ears yanked by adults.
The trail life normally acts as an effective filter function to keep away the malevolent and the exploitive, but everyone today is more mobile than in past times. Still, one can expect to be safer on the trail even with the occasional US gun nut, Joe Sixpack, Bubba, or bambi-killer than say in prison (the ultimate model of the security state where not even the guards in proximity are armed).
Yawn indeed…Jan 9, 2008 at 9:52 am #1415447Jan 9, 2008 at 10:28 am #1415454Brian JamesMember
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
"Guns don't kill people — husbands that come home early do"
-Larry The Cable GuyJan 27, 2008 at 8:38 am #1417880joseph daluzMember
@jfdiberianLocale: Columbia River Gorge
Thanks for your thoughtful postings, I thoroughly enjoy reading them, especially on the subject of firearms.Aug 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm #2126286
The story is on Dateline Saturday Night Mystery now.Aug 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm #2126747Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Sad ending to this story.
On the topic of guns- I'm a woman, I hike alone often, and I carry. And I have more than one instance that the presence of the firearm deterred some creep and it was obvious that it was the fact I was packing that did so. I pack because of bear, but I've found that it works amazingly well for keeping me safe from human predators.
It's a personal choice, and I would never criticize anyone who chooses not to carry a firearm. But where I live, both concealed and open carry are legal. I have encountered people who have given me attitude because I was carrying, but that's really their problem, not mine.
Edit to add: Neil Bender, I appreciated your posts.Aug 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm #2126841Nathan WernetteBPL Member
What do you carry? 357? 10mm.
I used to carry a snubby 38spl only for the human deterrence.
It fits nicely in my hip belt pocket and is not toooo heavy
Edit. Saw you live in Alaska
I expect you to answer with "I carry a s&w 500"
;)Jan 4, 2020 at 4:09 pm #3625564
I finally saw the updated 2011 Dateline show on the Gary Hilton murders. He was a serial killer and Meredith Emerson was his last murder. Hilton was found guilty of three other murders, one putting him on death row. Law Enforcement still believes that may not be all of his killings.
On January 30, 2008, Gary Hilton pleaded guilty to the murder of Emerson. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole in 30 years. Hilton was later linked to and then charged with three additional murders: the October 2007 murders of elderly couple John and Irene Bryant in North Carolina, and the December 2007 murder of 46-year-old nurse Cheryl Dunlap in Florida. In 2011, Hilton was tried for Dunlap’s murder and was sentenced to death. In 2012, Hilton pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and murder of the Bryants, for which he was sentenced to life in prison.”
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