Vegas: Conspiracies, Doubts, and Lies

After a good number of questions coming in following my thoughts on the attack in Las Vegas with an up-front lean toward accepting one or another of the many conspiracy “theories”, I have opted to put some thoughts together on this, and hopefully in some small way get people focused back on the truth instead of the fantasy.

In our culture of instant gratification, it is expected, I suppose, that people might want answers to certain questions sooner than such answers can be had. Idle minds are apt to create a story where no such story exists.

Adding to the problem is the social media fame-seeking issue. People who want desperately to be seen as relevant take any path they see as controversial in order to increase likes and follows.

Lives were lost. That is a reality that we must not forget. Using tragedies for increasing your own fame is sub-human behavior.

By far, the most frequently repeated conspiracy theory involves the idea that there was more than one shooter. They are basing this on the known fact of more than twenty guns in the hotel room, and adjustments to the timeline of the event as reported by Law Enforcement.

All conspiracy theories have to use facts which will then be interpreted in favor of the theory. They ignore that they are looking to support a foregone conclusion. The problem is that this is no way to find the truth.

So, let’s begin with the multiple gun issue.

Why would one man have so many guns in the room? There had to have been more than one shooter with that many weapons there? Right?!?!?!

Wrong.

Any semi-automatic weapon is engineered from the start to be a semi-automatic weapon. Ask anyone who knows anything at all about bump-fire stocks and they will tell you that it absolutely causes a drastic increase in the number of malfunctions you will have. Some of these malfunctions can be cleared easily, some leave the weapon inoperable. The killer obviously knew this, hence the many weapons. He intended to kill a lot of people, and knew he would not have a lot of time to clear a jammed rifle or fix a malfunction, so he opted for swapping out a jammed rifle for a different one.

See! There is a perfectly logical explanation available that does not resort to the conspiracy justifications.

But, but, but…why does the official timeline of the event keep changing?

There are two factors at play here, and in all honesty, I do not know which one is having the bigger influence on the slow information and the changing timeline. So, I will just give you these two things to think about: lawsuits and pressure.

It should not need to be pointed out, but everyone is going to get sued. The hotel, the city, the concert promoter – anyone with any connection to the area on the night of October 1st is going to be sued. This fact will slow the information coming from the hotel and any other potentially sued party to Law Enforcement.

Law Enforcement is under pressure from the media and the public to start giving answers. They are still going through the investigation process, but people feel they have a right to know now. Even before Law Enforcement has the answers.

I would advise anyone who will listen, please calm down. It is better for the investigation to end up with the right answer than it is for them to give you what you want to hear. I have watched every video I can find that was taken while the shooting was happening and I can find nothing to make me think that more than one gun was being fired at the same time. I have even watched the video and listened to the audio from people who think there was audio proof. It simply isn’t there. My number of subscribers and the number of shares would increase incredibly if I were willing to promote some of the conspiracy theories floating around, especially if I were to make one of my own so I could be the “journalist” who “breaks the story”, but I am not like that. Calm down, drink a chamomile tea, and wait while the professionals do their job.

Be nice to each other, things are rough out there right now.                                    

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Left-Handed Shooting in a Right-Handed World

There are many guns on the market that have certain ambidextrous features. There are some that have interchangeable options for the left-handed shooter. And there are some designed specifically for lefties. Those guns designed for the left-handed were far and away out of my price range. Nothing that appealed to me had the left-handed options.

In terms of handguns, I have a revolver which had no options other than to learn to use it as-is, and a semi-auto which had some options to reverse to make it easier for me. I did research how to change out the magazine release on the Walther Creed. But in the end, I opted to leave it the way it came.

Every new shooter has ideas of certain tactical practice. Although I might have been the oldest new shooter, I was not immune to the thoughts of the tactical.  Being left-handed, purchasing the Smith and Wesson 686 allowed me to dive into the world of adapting to a gun designed for a right-handed person.

At first, I tried to release the cylinder by pressing the latch with my left thumb.20171014_162737   This posed several problems. Not the least of which was the instability of the weapon in my hand. I was able to release the cylinder, but there was, especially later into the range time, the problem of a very hot cylinder rolling out onto my index finger. I tried several different hand positions for using this technique, but none of them did anything to decrease the time it took for me to eject the spent shells and reload.

So, I gave up on making the revolver work the way a lefty might want it to work, and instead put my focus on making myself adapt to what I needed to do to properly and efficiently use the firearm. Now I use the following technique:

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I carefully switch hands. I shift the gun into my right hand, use my right thumb to press the latch, swing out the cylinder, tip the gun up and press the ejection rod to drop the spent brass.

Is it as fast as a righty might perform a reload? Certainly not. But I can say that I am not terribly slow at this either. And after so much practice, this method requires no thought.

Good safety practices must still prevail. But with time and practice, a left-handed person can use the standard reloading practices with the only modification being the passing of the gun from one hand to the other.

The semi-auto was another story. It gave me the very tempting option of changing the magazine release to allow me to press it with my left thumb.

I chose not to make the change, after a lot of thought both ways on the idea. In the end, I suppose prompted partially by my adapting to the revolver, that I would just adapt to the way the Creed was built. There were two ideas that really sealed the deal for me in the end. In speaking with a Police Officer friend of mine, two very important considerations came up. One, I am the only lefty in my house. And two, why would I train myself into a position of rendering my training useless in the event things go to hell and I need to pick up someone else’s gun to defend myself and/or others?

So, my Walther is still designed for a right-handed person. I simply made these additions to my reload or malfunction clearing:

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The first step I use is to press the magazine release with my index finger. This was a simple adjustment and in a short amount of time, anyone could turn this into a habit.

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Next, turn the ejection port down. In the event of a jam, you want to avoid any hand positioning that might press a misfired or improperly ejected shell into the gun’s interior. Having the ejection port facing down allows gravity to be your friend.

From here it is a simple matter of placing a new magazine into the gun, rack the slide, and you are back in business.

This may not be official or common practice, but it is what I do and it works for me. I prefer the thought that if I fall, my Wife would be able to pick up the gun and use it normally and without her trying to make adjustments she had not trained for. Anyway, those are my thoughts.

The Lies of the Gun Control Crowd

**This is a post I started before the attack in Las Vegas. I have made some edits to it since then and present it here* By default, what follows is political in nature in the U.S. The issue of firearms and gun control has been so distorted by politicians that well-meaning and intelligent people are prone to regurgitating the lies which they have been spoon-fed by their ill-intentioned ruling class. I mean no insult to people who have been deceived, it is not their fault. However, I see a need for people to speak the truth whenever possible because education is the only answer to misinformation. If you know the truth and continue to spread the lies, then you are a liar like them. 

The political left in America has a fetish for disarming law-abiding citizens. They tend to disguise their intentions behind phrases such as common-sense gun laws to paint anyone opposed to their argument as somehow lacking common sense. I have friends on the political left, and they are well-educated and well-intentioned people. I have no doubt that they mean well, but there are some canned arguments that get on my nerves because they are based on lies told by politicians and newspeople with an agenda. Before I begin, for those new here, I was raised to be afraid of guns and was in my 40s before I fired a gun for the first time. I know both sides of the debate well – dating back to a time when there was an actual debate, as opposed to the shouting of falsehoods and regurgitated misinformation. I am not passing myself off as a spokesman for the NRA, just a law-abiding gun owner who is sick of the lies people tell in this argument. Here are some of the worst I hear and see frequently.

Lie: Gun Show Loophole

The tale of the gun show loophole is that if you go to a gun show, you can walk in and buy a gun without a background check. There is no such loophole. Where this one started was that there is, in some States, no requirement for a gun owner to put a buyer through a background check before he or she can sell their gun to a buyer from the same State, provided he has no reasonable suspicion that the buyer would be unable to pass a background check. These laws vary throughout the Country, so be sure you check the regulations where you live before buying a gun from your Uncle Fred. But the fact of the matter regarding the Gun Show Loophole is that there isn’t one. If you purchase a gun at a gun show, you will still need to fill out the NICS form before the FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) can allow you to assume possession of the firearm. No loophole.

Lie: Buying a Gun on the Internet Requires NO Background Check

In this lie, the idea is that I can go to Buds Gunshop (or any other online firearms seller) and order a gun without the background check. And they get away with this lie because the first part of the transaction has no background check – the part where you place your order and pay the company. But when you actually do this, the gun is not shipped to you. Write that down, it’s important. The gun you just bought will be shipped to someone who is a FFL. When they receive the shipment, they will contact you, you will go to them and da-da-dadaaa, fill out the NICS paperwork for the background check.

Lie: Restricting Access to Firearms Reduces Crime

Look at the prohibitive nature of the gun laws in Chicago and Baltimore (just for a quick example), and see that this is an intentional lie. I wrote about the misleading nature of the reported “Gun Violence” numbers before, and this falls into the same category. People such as me, who follow the law, will do what we need to do to stay legal. If they tell me I cannot have “high-capacity magazines”, even when the politicians mistakenly call them “clips”, I will follow the law as will those other law-abiding gun owners. But criminals have no such code. The criminals carry firearms as much for self-preservation as for tilting the odds in their favor when committing a crime. Look at who they spend their time with – other criminals! Of course they feel the need for self-preservation. The difference is that they see no need to follow the rule of law. Restricting access to firearms and sufficient ammunition only affects those who actually follow the law.

Lie: No one needs an Assault Rifle

To start addressing this lie, people need to understand that the oh so dreaded AR-15 is not Assault Rifle 15. The AR stands for Armalite Rifle. Armalite is the company that manufactures this particular firearm. It also is distorted by some as meaning automatic rifle.

Quick lesson for those (there are some) who do not know: automatic means you squeeze the trigger and the gun will fire and cycle a new round and fire that one over and over until you release the trigger or run out of ammo. Whereas, semi-auto means you will have to squeeze the trigger each time you want to fire a round. AR-15s are semi-auto.

Now, this lie begins from a false premise. “Needs” was never a part of the equation. In life we have needs – shelter, water, food.

In the U.S.A. the 2nd Amendment protects what is classified as inalienable rights. Not inalienable needs. This is where people tend to be really misled. The Bill of Rights, which is the first ten amendments to the Constitution are those rights that belong to a free people which are to be protected by the government which derives its power from the consent of the governed. The government does not grant these rights, they are there without government. I do not want to turn this into a history lesson, and in order to stay within the scope of our intended subject, understand that in the manner in which the U.S. Constitution is written, the restrictions are on the government, not the people. The government has a specific role, and the people limit the government.

In speaking of needs, on that same topic – when I am told that no one needs an AR-15, I respond that no one needs to be vegan, drive a Prius, Vape, or watch MSNBC. But this does not mean that people cannot do these things. Most people who would purchase an AR-15 have no intention whatsoever of ever pointing at a human. And while people freak over the way it looks so tactical, it is a military style weapon in use by no military that I am aware of. The tacti-cool look is what makes it so marketable. But it is a lot less powerful than many of the other available rifles on the market.

Lie: Australia had no mass shootings after their gun confiscation

I find seven separate mass shootings in Australia in less than four minutes into a quick google search since the gun confiscation. It only managed to disarm those who wanted to stay legal. Although Australia is pointed to by the political left in America as a shining example of the success of gun control, they leave out the facts. One important fact is that there have been mass shootings since the confiscation.

Lie: The United States is the only industrialized nation with our level of gun violence

I wrote about the lie of U.S. gun violence. Click the link or understand the short form – this one is a bald-faced lie. This is the typical slight-of-hand that people with no basis for their argument will use.

 

In closing, I want to make clear that those of us who like owning guns understand the feeling of wanting to do something about acts of terror such as the Las Vegas attack. But we see that emotion-based decision making is bad policy. You will never stop crime by disarming the good people. The terrible truth is that we can never prevent every bad person intent on murder. But until the dialogue is honest and in good faith, no progress at all will be made.

A Lie Agreed Upon

In the aftermath of a tragedy, such as the horrible attack in Las Vegas, we seem to all agree upon a lie.

Our politicians and our media are clearly disconnected from the facts of our everyday lives. They do not see what is in plain sight of everyone willing to open their eyes and see. Anyone paying attention can see that this is absolutely not a nation of racism and hate, but seeing this is in direct contradiction to the news and social media evaluation of our society.

For nearly a decade, our Police have been demonized. Lie after lie was promoted. When proven to be false, the media would find a new lie and promote it. In their drive for ratings, they failed to see that they were promoting hate. Or, possibly, they did not care. Living outside of their bubble, it is hard for me to tell. I’m just a philosopher, I get confused sometimes.

Add social media to the mix. The mentally weak people, the sick people, and the violent-prone people are fed a nonstop diet of hate. The most disrespectful and idiotic behavior is given the most likes and shares. People push the envelope hoping for something they do or say to become viral.

The threats of violence escalate. People openly call for someone to commit acts of violence for them. They toy with different ways of expressing violent actions in order to coin a new viral phrase in hopes of a trending hashtag. They carry threats of violence closer and closer to the edge, and one is often left with the sense that they actually enjoy seeing people they disagree with suffer and squirm and alter their lives because of the threat of violence.

Yet we are surprised when violence happens.

Aren’t we?

Well, I think we must be surprised beyond belief. Because after violence happens we start another round of hand-wringing and fretting about how we have to do SOMETHING. And then all of the ideas put forward by our betters in Washington end up being things that would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the event which shocked us so.

Currently, the banter in Washington following the horrible attack in Las Vegas has politicians discussing the banning of bump stocks. I am going to be honest and tell you that I had heard of bump stocks before but really knew little about them. They are an available accessory to the so-called “assault rifles” that can make a semi-auto shoot almost like a fully auto. I remember noticing a change in the rate of fire when watching the many films of the Las Vegas attack, but I didn’t know that was a tell-tale sign of a bump stock. Experts probably knew immediately that this was not a military-grade weapon being used, but I confess I did not. My rifle experience right now is limited to lever-action cowboy-style guns.

I have a lot of gun-enthusiast friends, but I have not known any of them to even own a bump stock. The gun friends I have are more interested in things like accuracy. If you want your accuracy to go down, go fully automatic. If you want clean accurate shots and tight grouping, stay semi-auto.

Ban bump stocks. Okay. The issue then becomes, what next? Because I can tell you, if someone wants to kill a bunch of people, lack of access to a bump stock is not going to deter them. Look at the many terror attacks in Europe, where they have no 2nd Ammedment. The terrorists use big trucks and knives and illegally obtained guns to murder. When the objective is murder, the details do not matter to those who are sick enough to go that route.

The difference between you and the people who commit these murderous acts is simple- if I gave you my rifle, fully loaded and also gave you a box of ammunition, would your first impulse be to kill a bunch of people? No? Good! We can still be friends.

There is nothing you can do to prevent a sicko from trying to kill a bunch of people if that is what he has decided to do. We lie to ourselves when we pretend there is an answer that will prevent these incidents. Ban all guns, they will use knives and swords. Ban knives and swords, they will use trucks and rocks. Ban trucks and rocks, they will use tall buildings and…

When we agree to lie to ourselves, this does not make the lie suddenly become a truth, it is still just a lie. We all want to feel better after a tragedy. But in a search for answers, we should not neglect the truth. If we could stop demonizing one another, and rediscover the now lost art of honest dialogue, we could all work toward ideas to make these hateful acts less frequent.

Las Vegas Attack

I woke up this morning, the occasion of my 48th birthday, to read about the terrible events which happened in Las Vegas last night.

At about 10:00 PM the shooting began. Just before 11:30 the Las Vegas Police gained entry into the shooter’s room and found him dead of a self-inflicted shot. During the elapsed time he murdered 59 people and injured over 500 others.

As I watched the different films of the attack, I noticed that there was a differing rate of fire, but that this was clearly automatic weapon fire, not semi-auto. One burst of nonstop fire had just over 100 rounds. He was firing from the 32nd floor of the hotel, downward at an outdoor concert.

Just like clockwork, the sub-human scum politicians started trying to score political points by playing on fears.

I studied. I watched video after video of the event, asking myself what could be done.

In the end, the real answer is that beyond running for cover, there is nothing that could be done. A sicko with fully automatic weapons shooting people from 32 floors up is going to need to be taken out on the 32nd floor.

While our celebrities and pro athletes slander our Law Enforcement at every turn, the Police did what they do – they went toward the source of the gunfire. Had the loser not taken his own life, they would have put an end to his killing spree, even if they had to throw him out of the window to do it. And they risk their lives knowing that there will still be those who hate and slander and lie about them. They are the heroes.

Some people have asked about this event and how to handle this type of active shooter. The only answer I have is that there is no way to be 100% safe. You do still need to live your life. This type of event is, in its details, unpredictable. Broadly speaking, in a society where vitriol is spewed from every source, where we are told that those who disagree with our political outlook are our enemies, where social media makes crazy people crazier by encouraging rage, and where people view likes and follows as a real form of validation which pushes and rewards further and further asinine behavior, violence is inevitable. I know of no active shooter course that would have helped in this situation. Learn the sound of gunfire. Learn the difference between cover and concealment.

And for crying out loud, learn to be nice to each other.

New Book Project Taking Shape

I want to get a quick update out for those who are interested. I have been a bit removed from this blog, but not from writing. I have three books and my first crack at writing a novel in the works. But recently I have had some pieces fall into place that have allowed for a lot of progress on a book that had been in a draft/outline stage for quite a while. I had several issues I needed to get just right, and things finally started taking shape. After two dozen attempts at getting the outline just right, Everything finally clicked and the writing began to flow.

The details will all be given here first, but I am just happy that words are flowing again.

While I am here, I want to also note that I have several posts which were in various states of the editing process, I should be able to get back into the weekly posts soon. I just had to take advantage of the free flow of ideas that was happening.

I thank everyone who took the time to check on how everything was going, it really means a lot to me to know that when I am not updating here regularly that some people notice!

The title of the new book is still up in the air, but it is being done as a sequel to Texas Hold’em Self Defense. I just won’t be using the card game model for this book. This book will be taking a look at what happens if all of the previous advice fails. I think it is going to be a lot of fun for the reader, as well as providing a unique perspective on the topic.

As I said, all news on it will be found here first! I appreciate every single one of you!

On Disaster and Shattered Narratives

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and flooded the southeast portion of my home State. I have read reports that the rainfall totals broke continental records. Since such totals have been recorded, there has not been this much rainfall on the North American Continent.

What I will be looking at today is something that caught my attention as events unfolded. I will drop this in the personal safety category because how you interact with other people plays a tremendous role in your level of personal safety. Although some portions of the topic might seem political, this is only due to the climate of debate in our time. I actually think that most of the people who read this one will not get emotional or angry at all. I saw some really positive stuff this week, and I thought about it a lot. I want to share some of this with you.

During the extremely draining and lengthy lead up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the news was filled with polarizing and inflammatory rhetoric. Many of the louder voices on both sides continually upped the ante in terms of seeing how far would be too far in demonizing the other side.

As it happens, they never seemed to think they had gone far enough. By the time of the election, by all accounts, things were really bad in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Some of us are critical thinkers. We can see a news report and right away see the juvenile ways in which they try to stir up our emotions. Whether you were watching right or left leaning news sources, this was being done. I took frequent breaks from the news. I felt sorry for myself and the age I was living in and was quite jealous of the voters in 1800 who got to choose between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

But I was continually puzzled at the doom and gloom shown on the news, and the absolute opposite that I was seeing in my interactions with real human beings. By all news accounts, the Country was half deplorable and half snowflake. But among my friends, coworkers, and the complete strangers that are a part of living life I saw very few of either.

Sure, friends from both sides of the political spectrum regurgitated the canned soundbites they had seen on the news. No worries or surprises there. This is no sign of stupidity, this is a human habit. And it is a habit that gives me no cause for alarm. People do it, and I see no reason to really care.

To be sure; there are asshat racist idiots in the Country, and there are the grown-up babies who need safe spaces and cry at the sight or sound of a word they don’t like. But, they are few. The lack of on-the-ground proof of the deplorable/snowflake societal aggregate gave me pause. I was puzzled and curious.

After the election, there were the people on T.V. crying on cue, and the outlandish behavior of attention junkies on the social media sites, but the normal people were okay even when they voted for the other person. Grownups understand that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. At my age, I can say that this is a fact. Political elections here are like a pendulum. Our tastes swing from one extreme to the other, and then back again.

But the media kept pushing this idea that we were, as a Nation, at a crossroads. And that if something was not done, the country would be lost forever. There was a lot of coverage of riots protests on inauguration day. There have actually been people beating up people they disagree with at planned riots protests.

Then comes Hurricane Harvey.

Texas, like many other States, has widely varying political views. Most of the State is right leaning, with our highly populated big cities being more left leaning. As the Hurricane approached, there was a certain level of political jockeying being done. The Republican Governor sent messages on social media that the city of Houston should evacuate (smart). The Democratic Mayor of Houston said that Houstonians should ignore that request (not so smart). Hurricanes flood the right and the left.

The hurricane hit, and the city flooded like never before.

Did the left leaning people of Houston leave the deplorable citizens to die? Did the right leaning people have no time to save the snowflakes? Did the Police check skin color or immigration status before helping people? Was political affiliation or voting record needed in order to get in a boat to safety?

No, no, no, and no.

Regular people are not like what you read about or see on T.V. and the internet.

The real people who had the means to help helped others without regard to any of the divisive categories forced upon us by our betters. I admit to feeling a certain measure of glee when I realized that the narrative of division and hate supposedly permeating our Country had been shattered. I would be lying if I did not also admit that there was a fair amount of satisfaction in the fact that it was Texas who had the chance to showcase the false narrative to everyone. In a time of true disaster, people were just people, and they were doing what we do here. They were helping and trying to save lives. None of the divisions mattered at all. Yes, there was some looting. We always have and always will have to suffer the selfish and the stupid. There have been some scammers trying to set up fake charities to collect money that will only go to the person setting up the scam. We always have and always will have to suffer the selfish and the stupid.

I felt really good about the humanity at its best on full display. The death count is still rising, and this continues to break my heart. But in trying to see the good, I think I found it.

It is good to know that, in spite of the loud extremists on both sides, the vast middle ground is peopled with folk who want to get along and live their lives. I found a reason to think that we might just get past all of this hate!

Continue to take care of each other.