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Changes at S.W.A.T.

I didn’t know this until recently, but when S.W.A.T. magazine first started publishing in the early 1980s, its name wasn’t meant to imply “Special Weapons and Tactics” (aka police SWAT teams).

The original name was “Survival Weapons and Tactics.”

Well, if you happen to have a copy of the February 2012 issue, which just came out, you might notice that’s what the tagline (just below the title) says once again.

Publisher Rich Lucibella and editor Denny Hansen each got the idea independently that the magazine should shift its emphasis from heavy cop-and-soldier material to information for hard times. They were democratic enough to run this by the writers and staff, who agreed with enthusiasm (and then, naturally, picked a few nits.)

Denny made the announcement like this in the latest issue:

When S.W.A.T. premiered back in the early 1980s, it was called Survival Weapons and Tactics. The name was chosen in large part due to the fact that the country was in the middle of a great recession. People did not trust government and were interested in taking more personal responsibility for themselves and their families.

Three decades later, history is being repeated but on a larger, more dangerous scale.

S.W.A.T. will continue to review guns, gear, and techniques, but over time, there’ll be more articles on things like emergency medicine, home security, black markets … and who knows what else?

You can just imagine how pleased I am by the shift. I’ve hung with S.W.A.T. all these years because Rich and Denny are fine gentlemen who tolerate me amazingly well (and because the writers I’ve tried to nudge into my place keep handing the job back to me). Rich is very definitely a freedomista. Denny leans strongly in that direction and is reasonable and civil when we disagree on things. But because of the ‘zine’s environment I’ve always felt like a pacifist in the middle of a neocon convention or a civil libertarian in the middle of Capitol Hill.

The cop-and-soldier stuff isn’t going to go away. After all, that’s a big part of the magazine’s readership and advertising base. But it’ll be interesting to see the subtle content shift.

Now … here’s your assignment, should you choose to accept it: Tell me what topics you’d like to see me write on (within the following parameters).

My S.W.A.T. column is called “Enemy at the Gate.” It’s political and even under the new regime it’s not going to become a how-to column. It’s going to continue to opinionate (and I hope inform) regarding ways that government, including its enforcement arms, messes things up for the rest of us.

The column I’m working on now, for instance, is about the schizzy attitude government has toward personal preparedness.

So what else would you like to hear me say about government and politics, and how they relate to hard times, hard-headed individualists, survival, preparedness, frugality, neighborliness, self-sufficiency, and other things that are now becoming more important than ever?


  1. Pat
    Pat December 27, 2011 5:21 am

    Individuals and small isolated or specialty groups (suburban/city communities, rural and urban farmers, neighborhood patrols, animal rescue, etc) are not the enemy, they do no harm, and in fact help their neighborhoods, and would be good allies (if not outright resources) for keeping stability and calm when emergencies arise. Uniformed personnel (cops, EMTs, firemen) are not gods, and need all the help they can get in an emergency. Stop seeing people as them-vs-us, start working with them in good times, so the bad times will not escalate into worse scenarios. Stop reacting to attitudes, and start *listening* to the neighborhoods they live in.

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 27, 2011 6:13 am

    Just a thought… how much do freedom minded folk reach out to the “uniformed personnel” in their town or area? I know that would not be wise or even possible in some places, but I think there are probably a good number of peace officers left – as there are in my town.

    We don’t want to all be painted with one brush… to be thought of as redneck knuckle draggers, for instance. We must be careful not to do the same to other people without solid evidence.

    It is easy to complain and see the horrors. Are we doing what we can to see the good and nurture it? And what better way to hold their feet to the fire anyway? How can they listen to us as neighbors if we never communicate or are hostile?

  3. Karen
    Karen December 27, 2011 8:34 am

    I wear T-shirts with printed messages, humorous or pointed, and I’m always on the lookout for new ones. This Christmas I got myself one that says “Bring Back Common Sense” and that’s the topic I’d propose. It’s not specific to any group or philosophy, but to life in general these days.

    The case can easily be made that within virtually every group mentioned in the call for ideas, examples of a lack of common sense spring to mind. It’s far too easy to parrot sound bytes and paint entire groups in broad generalities. As Pat and ML mentioned, all Leos are not JBTs. All citizens are not potential terrorists, murderers or rapists. All bureaucrats are not low IQ grifters. All survivalists aren’t running around the woods in camo shooting things. There’s a big difference between situational awareness and reactionary paranoia, and the common sense difference seems to have escaped us as a society.

  4. Rich Lucibella
    Rich Lucibella December 27, 2011 9:27 am

    Thanks for the shout, Claire. I expect some great ideas to come from your Blog readers. Looking forward to it.

  5. Scott
    Scott December 27, 2011 10:17 am

    Karen got most of my thunder-that’s pretty much what I was going to say(I have a T-shirt collection, too..). a couple minor points I would add-one is the overdependence on electronic communication, without understanding how it works,and what can cause it to fail. What would you do if it went down, even for a short time? Do you know your neighbors? How would you get in touch with friends and family?
    The other point would be directed towards bureaucrats-if the citizens are being charged a fee/permit/license to do or build something,explain what real-world benefit there is to it, and not just the punishment for not doing it. Most of the people I know regard such things as easy money or the city/county/whatever, with little, if any, benefit to the person paying the fee.

  6. Claire
    Claire December 27, 2011 10:52 am

    Karen and Scott — Terrific points. And you open up a whole new avenue. I’m being too limited when I say the column is about “how government messes things up.” Nobody has ever (that I know) defined who the “Enemy at the Gate” of the column’s title actually is.

    Sometimes it’s as Pogo said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” People’s own lack of sense, excess trust, short-sightedness, etc. deserves a look, too. Thanks.

  7. Claire
    Claire December 27, 2011 10:53 am

    And, Rich, if YOU have any subjects you particularly want me to address … you know where to find me. 🙂

  8. Plug Nickel Outfit
    Plug Nickel Outfit December 27, 2011 1:30 pm

    “Nobody has ever (that I know) defined who the “Enemy at the Gate” of the column’s title actually is.”

    Sounds like the basis of a thought-provoking and soul searching article…

  9. Claire
    Claire December 27, 2011 1:38 pm

    Damn, Plug Nickel Outfit — that’s brilliant!

  10. Targa Liss
    Targa Liss December 27, 2011 8:14 pm

    One topic that I have occasionally thought on is related to your “Don’t shoot the bastards (yet)” meme.

    My question is, which bastards not to shoot (yet)? I don’t think the cops are anything except folks earning a paycheck, and I hope that most of them are basically good guys, but the bureaucrat who sends them out to kill your dog is one of the bastards not to shoot (yet), as is his boss, and so forth up the chain of command.

    Who else is on the list of people not to shoot (yet)? I think that you could write a bunch of articles on that topic.

  11. Claire
    Claire December 27, 2011 8:29 pm

    Targa Liss … Oh. Definitely an interesting topic. To be handled very, very delicately, of course. But absolutely as useful as it is provocative.

    And that’s one I never would have thought of.

    Thank you and welcome to the comments.

  12. Tahn
    Tahn December 27, 2011 11:05 pm


    Lots of great thoughts above.

    I have always admired your tenacity in writing your excellent columns for SWAT magazine and have marveled at the publishers desire to print them. They must truly have a zest for freedom since they publish your articles. I sincerely hope their desire to expand their demographic base is successful. It will benefit all.

    Perhaps they could print a dual dialog of:
    *a SWAT team commander, on how they would successfully attack a compound of freedom loving Americans, (Special Weapons and Tactics)

    along with a dialog:

    *of how freedom loving Americans could successfully defend themselves from a SWAT raid (Survival Weapons and Tactics). A blow by blow account or perhaps measures and counter measures, both from professional viewpoints.

    This would be especially relevant in light of the recent enactment of laws declaring no habius corpus and indefinite detention without trial. The showdown IS your trial, as of now. Show both sides in an accurate portrayal . Perhaps we can communicate or at least learn to protect ourselves from each other.

    I have tried several times to subscribe to SWAT but cannot seem to order your book at the same time. Perhaps Rich could help with this. Best of luck to you both. You deserve it.

    In Freedom,

  13. Pat
    Pat December 28, 2011 4:23 am

    Tahn’s scenario of SWAT vs SWAT would make one hell of a fine story line — “Hardyville Tales” brought into 2012!

  14. bumperwack
    bumperwack December 28, 2011 5:42 am

    I’d be interested in how do they plan on fighting a sustained engagement when the “routine” raid turns into Mogadishu ….

  15. Simon Jester
    Simon Jester December 28, 2011 10:37 am

    That’s all well and good, except the heavy handed “Us vs Them” is coming from the LEO side. I used to be very pro-LEO. I was even a member of a Scout Explorer program with the county sheriff’s office. But as the increased militarization and indeed the increased superiority attitude of MANY LEOs that leads to the “Us vs Them” has slowly driven me to distrust and in many case, contempt. When I see LEOs commit crimes that would land us in prison, and the worst thing that happens to them is they have to take a job in a neighboring jurisdiction for a while, I’ve had it. Right now if they were on fire, I wouldn’t piss on them to put them out.

    There are SOME good cops out there, but with the prevailing attitude, they are the exception more and more. The departments don’t want good cops – they want thugs to keep the little people in their place.

  16. Hanza
    Hanza December 29, 2011 12:55 am

    Liked reading that SWAT magazine is going to go back to its roots. I was an early subscriber but let it drop when they went more and more to the special weapons and tactics.

    Because they are changing and you are going to continue writing for them I just signed up for a 3 year subscription.

  17. clark
    clark December 29, 2011 8:54 am

    Targa Liss wrote, “I don’t think the cops are anything except folks earning a paycheck,” – It appears you, and many like you, do not spend any time at Will Grigg’s blog.

    Cops are a part of an occupying army, period.

    What I wonder is, where does this cop whoreship come from? Why are People so willing to see cops as “regular good folks”? Is this just something more prevalent in the older generations, a leftover memory of sorts, as described by Paul Craig Roberts’ excellent article, How Things Change Out From Under Us ? Or is it due to feelings of total insecurity? It doesn’t seem like things were always this way.

    I’ve come to the conclusion most People these days are flat out insane, … Paul Craig Roberts posts this:
    Are Americans Authoritarians?
    Are their minds controlled by the state and its MSM?

    It seems pointless to look at cops as good People so long as they do what they do, mostly because:

    In America the Rule of Law Is Vacated

    I like how Simon Jester put it, “The departments don’t want good cops – they want thugs to keep the little people in their place.” Most People, it seems, want what the departments want too,… total bully-thuggery.

  18. clark
    clark December 29, 2011 9:07 am

    One other thing, Karen wrote, “There’s a big difference between situational awareness and reactionary paranoia”

    More and more I’ve come to the conclusion that is a totally false statement. At the Big Picture level, this bit about Oswald’s shirt was “it” for me, powerful People had to go out of their way to push this through:

    More Visible Proof Oswald Didn’t Do It
    by Ralph Cinque

    On the Small Picture level, crime keeps getting more bizarre, the U.S. news is like reading Ferfal’s blog, … if you’re not a bit paranoid you’re a big fat target.

  19. gooch
    gooch January 5, 2012 10:55 pm

    How about an series of articles searching for the “Last Peace Officer”?
    [as opposed to LEO and with a nod to Diogenes]

    What about an article, or series, exploring whether or not the LEO’s are even aware that they are Causing the animosity they are getting from the public?

    Is there any way to explore the ideas in Mike Vanderboegh’s excellent “open letter” entitled:“Choose this day whom you will serve.”: An Open Letter to American Law Enforcement. ?

    stay safe

  20. Claire
    Claire January 8, 2012 3:49 pm

    Some really good suggestions here; thank you.

    Unfortunately, I can’t follow up on suggestions that directly criticize or twit cops. Much though I would like to use the bully pulpit of S.W.A.T. to ask cops why so many of them are treating us a enemies and why so many of them spend so much of their time violating our rights, this is simply something that Denny has little tolerance for.

    He has let me do that at times, and I consider that pretty damn good. But for the most part, I’ll have to do that in other forums. In S.W.A.T., to whatever extent I address police officers directly, I think both Rich and Denny hope that I’ll point out that we’re all losing our rights together — that we have a common enemy in big, obtrusive government. In any case, not being a cop myself, I’m pretty sure police would think I had no credibility at all to tell them how they ought to behave.

    Still, you can know that some of the suggestions I’m not following up on are those I’d most like to write on.

    And I’ve already scheduled several articles based on what you guys have written here.

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