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My first-ever firearms instructor was a Rhode Island State Police Sergeant. Joining us in the classroom: a woman buying a gun for self-defense. The Statie zeroed in on her like a Scientologist pimping a personality audit to a college freshman. “The bad guy’s gonna be all hopped-up on angel dust,” the LEO advised the timid newbie from point-blank range. “Trust me. I been there. He’s out-of-his-head crazy. He don’t feel nothin‘. You better shoot him when you have the chance.” Somehow, the angel dust epidemic didn’t unleash the expected killer zombie apocalypse. Flash forward forty years and a new drug is raising a similar paranoia alarm . . .

A sharp rise in visits to emergency rooms and calls to poison control centers nationwide has some health officials fearing that more potent and dangerous variations of a popular drug known as spice have reached the nation’s streets, resulting in several deaths.

In the first three weeks of April, state poison control centers received about 1,000 reports of adverse reactions to spice — the street name for a family of synthetic substances that mimic the effects of marijuana — more than doubling the total from January through March, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers . . .

Mr. Ryan said his Louisiana call center had fielded fewer calls in the past several years partly because emergency-room doctors had begun to recognize the effects of certain variations of spice and knew how to handle those cases themselves, leaving most of the calls from worried individuals. The tenor of recent calls has been different, he said.

“It’s been more than 90 percent hospitals this year,” Mr. Ryan said. “It’s not, ‘Hey, I smoked this thing and I don’t feel well.’ It’s, ‘This guy’s trying to tear up the E.R. and we have him locked down in restraints. We don’t know what he’s taken. What do we do?’”

Armed self-defenders take note: the internets are not [yet] abuzz with stories of spice-laden space cadets spicing-up their lives by slicing and dicing innocent folks going about their business.

But it’s true that highly drugged individuals – including criminals who’ve been drinking –  may fail to recognize the fact that lead projectile perforation is a clear sign that they should cease their attack. As always, shoot to stop the threat. Keep shooting until the threat’s stopped or, even better, you’ve removed yourself from danger.

[h/t mister3d]

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  1. The bad guys are going to be wearing kevlar, helmet and face mask, completely high on adrenaline and screaming obscenities at you as they comes through your door.

    Aim for the face.

  2. While spice zombies might be the next boogiemen, they are also
    an understandable and relate-able answer to the questions: why
    do you need to carry a gun/ that big of a gun/all that extra ammo ?
    No one wants to have their face gnawed off. Most everyone understands
    that spice can make people act in completely uncontrollable and violent ways.
    The only way to keep yourself from becoming lunch is to shoot them…a lot.

  3. I wonder about the longevity of the career of the typical drugged-up zombie. Isn’t he likely to find his way to the morgue or prison much sooner than the typical predator who is committing violent crimes?

    The extreem cases of drugged-up zombies are used to encourage carriers to choose the most powerful cartridge/barrel-length they can carry. The problem with this rationale is that most civilians can’t comfortably CC a gun in the most powerful calibers with the optimal barrel length; so, they might settle for not carrying at all.

    I notice a distinct break-point in weight between my .380 vs. 9mm; enough to make the .380 my EDC.

    Arn’t we better off building the community of PotG by 32% carrying .32 calibre guns vs. by 4% carrying .40 calibre guns?

    • I tend to see it in a somewhat similar fashion: If I run into something that will take more than a dozen rounds to get out of, I’m probably toast anyway. That’s on the street in “normal life” of course, not SHTF, TEOTWAWKI stuff.

    • Why not both ? There is enough diversity of caliber and platform within
      the gun community to serve everyone from little old ladies to weight lifters.
      .22 to .40 to .357 to .50 and every point in between.

      • “Why not both ? There is enough diversity of caliber and platform within
        the gun community to serve everyone from little old ladies to weight lifters.”

        Don’t think I understand what you meant by “Why not both ?” Sounds like you might be referring to a big gun on the hip and a small BUG. However, that interpretation doesn’t seem consistent with the rest of your remarks.

        I’m simply calling out that we ought NOT tell newbeeies that the only thing worth carrying is a really big gun in .40+ calibre. Instead, we should be advising people to carry the biggest gun they feel comfortable with for EDC. For a very few, that might be .22 or .32. For quite a large number it’s apt to be a .38 or .380.

        If the stats are correct – that 90% of DGUs conclude successfully without hitting the perp – then calibre is only rarely a decisive factor.

        The OP: “The Statie zeroed in on her like a Scientologist pimping a personality audit to a college freshman.” caused me to think about the calibre wars that are usually part of the proselytizing. (In this case, calibre wasn’t mentioned; instead, it seemed to be: ‘Shoot early, shoot often’)

        • If the only caliber you’re comfortable with is .22LR, I strongly recommend you get comfortable with a bigger caliber. All the shot placement in the world won’t matter if you can’t put terminal effect on target.

          • Yours is precisely the mindset I’m arguing against.

            If one is in a category of being able to carry no more than a .22 or .25 or .32 I agree that shot placement isn’t going to overcome lack-of-impact. However, if brandishing or firing shots that don’t hit suffice (which seems to be the case in the preponderance of cases) then such a light calibre IS enough.

            These will be very few; perhaps only very elderly women or very petite young women.

            Most people will never – in their entire lives – encounter a case where they need to draw their gun in self-defense. If carrying a too-light calibre gun serves to give them some piece of mind that they have a chance of success brandishing or firing (without necessarily incapacitating the perp physiologically) then such a calibre is not TOO lite.

            The overwhelming majority will be able to control and conceal a small .38 or .380 which will up the anti plenty. Admittedly, still, not a single-shot zombie-stopper.

            I think it’s politically counter-productive to tell people that if they can’t carry what the “big boys” regard as a “serious gun”; well, then, they just might as well call 911. Such an attitude simply reduces our force at the ballot box and in any case where we need every boy and every mother at the window with a rifle.

        • @MarkPA
          A false sense of security is worse than no security at all. This is especially true is your life is on the line. I’m not saying people should pack a Ruger Alaskan or go home, but, in the 21st century, anybody can conceal something that will reliably stop an attack. A .22LR ain’t it.

          • “A false sense of security is worse than no security at all.” Absolutely true! And, it is also true that we should tell our friends/students that no gun is a talisman that guarantees security. Carrying a gun doesn’t give the barer security against an attacker who gets the drop on him. Carrying a gun doesn’t assure the barer that he will hit his target. Carrying a larger caliber gun doesn’t guarantee that the bullet will drop the attacker; it only improves the probability considerably.

            “. . . in the 21st century, anybody can conceal something that will reliably stop an attack.” You are probably – more or less – correct on this point. As you look at an array of guns organized by calibre you see that at some point it is hard to make the gun much smaller as the calibre drops. The ergonomics of getting a grip on the gun diminish much more rapidly as the size of the gun gets quite small. Also sort of depends on what one is waring; I don’t need to go any smaller than my Colt Pocket Lite in .380. On the other hand, I’m not a female trying to find a place to hide my gun inside tight fitting cloths.

            Perhaps the number of people who can’t handle a .38/.380 and get material benefit out of a .32 is small. Much smaller still must be the number who can’t handle a .32 and need to go to .25/.22. At some point, the debate about a few dozen people becomes more-or-less academic and you have the stronger side of the debate.

            I’m more concerned about newbies getting frightened-off of carrying at all because they can’t handle a .40+ or find a 9mm still too big to conceal. I’d rather see them carry a .38/.380 than nothing. I’d rather see a newbie carry a .32 and eventually become comfortable enough to carry a .38/.380.

        • “If the only caliber you’re comfortable with is .22LR, I strongly recommend you get comfortable with a bigger caliber. All the shot placement in the world won’t matter if you can’t put terminal effect on target.”

          Bull. Bull. BULL.

          LOTS of people been killed in one shot by .22’s…in DGU’s and otherwise.

          I’ve seen a few of “shot dead in one shot by 22” bodies myself. I can also quote real world cases, some that I saw, where the so-called “Defensive Calibers” failed.

          Stop with the FUD, please. If the only gun someone is comfortable carrying is a .22, so be it; it’s REALLY none of your business and your unsupported-by-real-data myths don’t help NEWBIES.

          First Rule: Have a Gun.

          PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop with the nonsense that WHAT you carry is more important than that basic rule.

          Some more thoughts on the subject:

          And, some additional data on the subject:

          You need to really study that data and think about what it means. (Hint: the differences between ALL calibers is lost in the noise created by OTHER FACTORS).

      • Exactly right Vaquero. I don’t begrudge someone else who manages to go about his daily life with a full-size double-stack 9mm or a .45, and a few extra magazines, and a BUG on his ankle. I just don’t care to hear any of those folks sneer at my 7 or 9- round 9×18 sitting in my pants pocket. Not that it really makes any difference to me, I just don’t think it’s helpful to the cause of overall handgun popularity.

        • Yes, Stinkeye, precisely! It’s my EDC since I sold my E German Mak to my son. If my business will ever turn around again so I will have some money I will contrive to buy something that I can trade to him and get my Mak back. I will still probably carry the P-64 tho, in a little Blackhawk pocket holster it fits just fine in my pants pocket.

        • I love those 9×18 Commie pistols. The CZ-82 is probably my favorite, but the P-64 is an excellent carry piece. Heavy enough to be easily controllable, but small enough to pocket. I recently picked up a P-83, the P-64’s successor. I’ve only had it out shooting once, but it’s a nice little package, and laser-beam accurate. It’s a bit bigger than the P-64, but at least it doesn’t have that ridiculous 20 lb DA trigger!

      • @pwrserge: I guess you wouldn’t mind standing 7 feet in front of me while I shoot at you with a PT22 then?

        • Yes… Because the person about to beat you to death is totally going to stand still like a paper target. Potentially lethal is not the same thing as immediately disabling and you damn well know it.

        • “Potentially lethal is not the same thing as immediately disabling and you damn well know it.”

          And if you think ANY handgun caliber is “immediately disabling” in any kind of reliable way, you are living in a fantasy world.

          Ask Jered Restin. Or Justin Schnieders. Or how about the guy I saw shot 7 times with a .357 Sig…all shots were “fatal,” but he remained on his feet..AND IN THE FIGHT…for all subsequent shots.

          Or, how about the 1986 Miami Shootout where autopsy showed the first hit on one the bad guys was a “mortal wound” yet he stayed in the fight sufficient to kill and wound several FBI agents.

          Hell, even Hathcock had a kill where it took MULTIPLE shots from a .30-06 to put the guy down.

          Your position is not supported rational analysis of real world data.

          Snarking over “caliber” is pointless.

          PLEASE put that energy into getting people to understand the importance of HAVING A GUN and how to use it. That would be FAR more beneficial in the long run.

        • I concede I havn’t studied the power of the .22. This is my impression. The .22 usually doesn’t have the power to penetrate the skull. Even if it did penetrate the scull, it’s still another matter to do enough damage to incapacitate the victim.

          A .22 LR out of a rifle barrel has a better chance than a .22 LR out of a pistol/revolver barrel. (And, I’ll say nothing about a .22 Short from a cute little vest-pocket pistol.)

          If all an individual can handle is a .22 or a .25 then that individual is counting more on psychological stopping power than physiological stopping power. Usually enough, but it’s probably in the category of better-than-nothing.

        • @MarkPA

          Relying on “psychological stopping power” is as stupid as relying on the mercy of your attacker. Nobody is saying that everyone should cary a hand cannon. However, even a pocket .380 can reliably meet FBI ballistics specifications these days.

          Don’t forget.
          We don’t shoot to wound.
          We don’t shoot to scare.
          We don’t even shoot to kill.

          We shoot to stop the threat. A .22LR from a concealable handgun simply won’t do that unless you are damn lucky.

          • “Relying on “psychological stopping power” is as stupid as relying on the mercy of your attacker.” You are absolutely correct. That point conceded, relying on any other presupposition is stupid. I presuppose that my marksmanship will be up-to-snuff. I presuppose that I will have enough time to draw, preset, validate my target/ground, achieve sight alignment, fire. I presuppose that my ammo will penetrate between 12″ and 18″. And so forth.
            The only thing we can do is make decisions based on the totality of the knowledge we have. One piece of knowledge – the one under discussion here – is how well we perform with various calibers of guns and types (weight, revolver/semi). What advice should we give to our students and friends? The best advice now available is to carry the most powerful round you can shoot reliably.

            A very small fraction – perhaps just a couple of percent – will be extremely limited. These might be able to shoot reliably a .22/.25/.32. Or, under some circumstances, won’t be able to conceal a larger gun. What should we tell these people? Shall we say: ‘Don’t carry; call 911’? Shall we tell them to carry a gun they feel uncomfortable with?

            The vast majority will be able to handle a .38/.380 but will be uncomfortable with a step up. What shall we tell these people? Shall we say: ‘If you can’t handle a 9mm or 357 then call 911? Shall we tell them to carry a gun they feel uncomfortable with?

            The totality of expected circumstances include:
            – most people are unlikely to encounter an attack;
            – of those that encounter an attack, most will end with a blandishment or a non-stopping shot (even a miss);
            – psychological stopping power seems to be a non-negligible factor;
            – self-confidence in handling the weapon one is carrying is doubtlessly a factor.

            To exclude ALL of the foregoing and concentrate exclusively on maximum stopping power logically reaches the conclusion that everyone should carry a .50 calibre gun. Is this what you are arguing for? I assume not.

        • Rad, you used to be a lawyer.

          Does the forehead plate or your immense organ have to do with the change in career?

        • “Not if it bounces off the plate in my forehead.”

          Interestingly enough, there are documented cases of all common pistol calibers failing to kill in a headshot and quite a few documented cases of bullets from ‘poweful calibers’ bouncing off skulls.

          Check out some of the early writing of Jim Cirillo for some good insight on “head shots.” Interesting reading…

      • I have actually heard of a case here in Texas where multiple .22 LRs failed to penetrate a carjacker’s skull. I have also heard of a case where multiple .357 mag hits failed to stop a bad guy, and where a single .22 LR round cut a bad guy’s aorta and he dropped dead on the spot. I would much rather have a .357 than a .22, unless I could hit the BG with the .22 and couldn’t hit him with the .357. It’s all a matter of cutting the odds, as I see it, and even a .22 cuts the odds in my favor more than no gun at all, or a gun that I simply can’t handle.

        • Actually, Robert, i suspect a .22 lr to Rad’s immense organ would drop him on the spot.


        • Well, there is the case of the South Carolina (I believe…it was somewhere there abouts) highway patrolman that fired 5 or 6 rounds of .357 into an obese perp. The perp was carrying an NAA .22 and fired a shot into the patrolmans armpit. He died within 30 seconds. The perp is alive today, sucking up oxygen and taxpayer dollars, in prison.

          Actually, here’s the link:

      • The question is not: “Is the .22LR lethal?”, we know that it is. The question is, how many times to I have to shoot you in the face(and I will) before you stop being an a$$hole.

        • You can ask that question about ANY caliber, though.

          Jared Restin, for example, in his first gunfight shot his opponent multiple times with .40 and “duty ammo” before the guy got close enough for them to go hands-on. Jared fired three times into the dude’s head with CONTACT shots…and at autopsy, only ONE (the third shot) was shown to have inflicted a mortal wound.

          Interestingly, too, Restin found out he was IN a gunfight to begin with by being SHOT IN THE FACE by a .45 ACP. He went on to be shot SEVEN times during the altercation…by the magical .45…

          All this caliber panty-twisting is nonsense.

          Why did Restin win that fight? Because he STAYED IN THE FIGHT, and perhaps not just a little bit of luck.

          No gun, no matter what caliber, is a “magic talisman.” I’d MUCH rather have a competent shooter with the guts to keep fighting next to me with a .22 in hand than some Internet blow-hard that thinks because they have a .45 or whatever they are undefeatable.

          Your mileage may vary on that last …

    • In my opinion a lot of people carrying small handguns chambered for .32 ACP is much better than a couple people carrying full size revolvers in .357 Magnum.

      • +1000.

        Our focus should be on more people carrying, or at the very least, acknowledging the value of more people carrying, than pissing over what people choose to carry.

  4. Well, I feel a bit more rational for my winter 45 ACP +P load out. When in doubt, an autoloader pushing damn near .357 magnum muzzle energies will do more than sufficient damage to put down the most determined spice-head. Don’t forget, fedaykin don’t carry shields.

  5. Hmmm….many years ago(the 70’s) I partook of PCP as well as various other chemicals and psychoactive substances. Never got violent. But I knew of more than one crazy a##wipe. And woe to you if you had to put down one of these mad dogs. Big calibers and high round count should do the trick….and no I’m not making any sophomoric joke about Dune. Oh yeah watch your azz in Baltimore.

    • Dude, you do not talk about krokodil in polite company. It’s one of those things that makes even the hardened amongst us lose our lunch.

  6. Spice is not to be confused or compared to Angel Dust. I made a point in my younger days to stay away from Angel Dust after seeing people on it. It’s one of those experiences you don’t forget.

  7. Does anyone else long for the good old days, when all you had to worry about was having your face chewed off by a naked tweaker hopped up on “bath salts”?

    Ah, those halcyon days of 2012…

  8. As a citizen of the state of Washington, the existence of “spice” disgusts my sensibilities. This is infringing on some level or another to our state…plant or whatever, I dunno.

  9. Substituted cathinones (bath salts!) are the current quasi-legal drug craze. They are cheap, readily available, and are said to induce agitated delirium. This is not a thing that a sane person craves.

    Occasional use, in all likelihood, does not induce psychosis. But the product is cheap and readily available, and some (or a lot of) people do not have adequate impulse control. And a lot of people are already close to the edge of psychosis. Any little thing can tip them over.

  10. Desomorphine/Krokodil typically sorts it self out within 2-4 years among serious users. Now the cathinone analogs like bath salts and Flocka are the ones causing the really crazy stuff.

    • Thank you.

      I’ve never seen, touched, smelled, or (God knows) smoked Spice. But I know exactly what it is.

      It’s what people buy who are either afraid to buy or can’t buy what they really want. Marijuana.

      Because, you know, they don’t want to get locked on a cage.

      Thanks a bunch. Drug Warriors. For all you do.

  11. Spice is nasty. Much more unpredictable than it’s herbal counterpart. But it ain’t no meth.

  12. spice — the street name for a family of synthetic substances that mimic the effects of marijuana

    Oh my God! Mimics the effect of the exotic superdrug marihuana! I thought such extreme psychotic criminals were a thing of the past! I’ve seen Reefer Madness, I know what those lunatics are capable of! Get the kids, we’re bugging out! Thank God Robert Farago sent the balloon up and gave us notice! Leave the Funyuns, Julia! They can smell them!

    If this is some sort of THC-like substance, it is not going to turn people into the kind of zombies charging at you and shrugging off bullets. It’s going to turn them into the kind of zombies unable to get off of their couch, watching stupid television programs.

    This alarmist article is embarrassing. “Armed self-defenders take note: the internets are not [yet] abuzz with stories of spice-laden space cadets spicing-up their lives by slicing and dicing innocent folks going about their business.” In other words, there are no reports of spice leading to the kind of drugged-up, “I feel no pain, just pure rage” violent criminal behavior the article warns about. Geez, what’s the next non-existent threat is Farago going to warn us about? Do we need to protect our daughters from spice-addled classmates bringing them to rainbow parties? Hot and spicy Satanic ritual abuse in our preschools? Reptilians… on spice? Crab people?

    This is the kind of sensationalist yellow “journalism” that I expect from Moms Demand Action, Everytown, the Brady Campaign, and the Violence Policy Center (see, where nowhere it is mentioned that statistically permit holder commit substantially less crime compared to the general population). I hope The Truth About Guns does publish more articles like this. If I ever see articles like this every day on TTAG, I will stop reading TTAG.

    • It is intended to mimic pot. It sometimes does, and sometimes doesn’t. People tripping out just like they’re dusted does happen. We’re talking about a synthesized hallucinogen, ones that get extra molecules hung on them just to avoid being ‘illegal’. The effects can be unpredictable.

      Reducing ODs, not ruining people’s lives, eliminating tens of billions in spending on prisons and cops, eliminating most gang violence, and a whole host of other problems are solved by just making it all legal again. We have the same basic percentage of users and addicts as we had back then. There is nothing but loss in prohibition.

      • “We’re talking about a synthesized hallucinogen, ones that get extra molecules hung on them just to avoid being ‘illegal’. The effects can be unpredictable. ”

        Yup. AKA an ‘analog’ molecule. Then wait for new legislation to criminalize…

        Lather, rinse, repeat…

  13. I have read that many times a person whacked out on this stuff will strip. I’m not sure if it’s a delusion or a physical reaction but they feel like they are burning up.

    If you see someone naked and raving it’s a good chance that they are on spice or “bath salts”. Keep your distance from them. Call the police.

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