Common Sense Gun Laws

I had a family emergency which resulted in my extended absence from this blog. I have not been ignoring the questions and emails which have come in, I was just not in any shape to do anything. While things have settled, this is a situation that cannot be cured, only endured. Those who know me personally know what happened, those who do not will, I am sure, bear with me as I try to get everything going again.

There was a horrific mass shooting in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. At the last count I have as of this writing, 26 people were murdered and another 20 were injured. The victims ranged in age from unborn to 77 years old. As might be expected in a small town, nine of the victims were from the same family. As the gunman exited the Church, he was met with fire from one of the citizens of Sutherland Springs, Stephen Wileford. Wileford shot the murderer twice, causing him to drop his rifle. The attacker then tried to escape in his vehicle. Wileford flagged down a passing motorist, Johnnie Langendorff, informed him of what had happened, and the two pursued the killer. The killer ended up as mass shooters do when confronted by opposing force – he shot himself in the head.

Without leaving any time for the families to mourn their dead, politicians and media began calls for gun control and even gun confiscation. The term common sense began to get more use, as happens after these tragedies.

But, under existing gun law, the murderer should not have been allowed to buy the guns at all. Everything that serves to prevent a person from buying a gun, this killer had. Dishonorable discharge from the military, spousal abuse, child abuse, mental health issues, and on and on. No one, from your most blue liberal to the reddest conservative would want someone like this guy to be able to purchase firearms.

Here is a fact that is ignored; the bad guy attacked with an AR-15 style weapon, and was stopped by a good guy with an AR-15 style firearm. Having an AR type weapon put the good guy on equal footing with the bad guy, and bad guys hate that. When confronted by an equal force, the bad guys tend to get very suicidal. This was a case of the bad guy with a gun being stopped by a good guy with a gun, writ large. Proof positive that there are gun owners who do not want to hurt anyone, but will definitely take out the bad guy when and if the time comes.

While politicians wring their hands and say we must do something the simple facts are screaming an answer. If we enforce existing laws, and if we start to look seriously at the mental health factor in these crimes, we can start to make progress. While personal responsibility seems to be an almost quaint idea from a bygone era, we need to be honest enough to admit that the individuals who kill are the ones who should be blamed, and not our society, or the tools which the sickos use.

I am at a point right now where I am having a very hard time pretending that trivialities are important. So please take this as it is, coming from my heart. Be nice to one another, look out for each other, hug those you love, tell them that you love them even if you think they grow tired of hearing it, be there when they need you, live as an example to the world, dampen your angry talk, ignore hateful people, don’t escalate violent talk, be quick to forgive, and if the bad guy shows up to harm the innocents in any way, do what needs to be done. Do the right thing, even when there are easier and safer choices. You will never regret doing the right thing.

Advertisements

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:

20171014_162748

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:

20171014_162826

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.

20171014_162946

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.

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.

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.

Charlottesville: Hard Truths

At this writing, we are a few days removed from some terrible events in Charlottesville Virginia. I have been asked for thoughts and advice, and that is the only reason for this post. I do not want to touch this subject at all and will try to keep things within the confines of the intended purpose of this blog. People have asked my thoughts on what happened, but more have asked about staying safe in such incidents. I will focus my thoughts on those questions of personal safety. Be forewarned though, trying to stay apolitical on something like this isn’t easy. And in our time, politics brings out strong emotional reactions in many people. If you find yourself getting angry over what I present here today, may I recommend a nice chamomile tea?

There was a scheduled rally in Charlottesville by a white supremacist group. There was a counter-protest that arrived and was staged by several violent leftist groups. There was no good that would result from any of this. In this instance, both sides were acting like animals, both sides were upping the levels of violence, and in the end, a 32-year-old woman was killed and dozens more injured when one of the white supremacists used his car to plow through a group of people on the road. While the details were not predictable, the violence was. Something bad was going to happen there.

The question that kept coming up from my readers was how do you stay safe in these situations?

For a really great start, understand that both sides in this mess planned to be there ahead of time. Not spontaneous, the event was planned. To stay safe, one could begin with not going there in the first place. No good can come from such events, there are no positive results to be had. As an outsider, I look at what happened quite simply – two groups looking for trouble. I don’t see anything to lead me to believe either side intended to be peaceful. When you are bringing shields and baseball bats to a rally I find it hard to believe you were only there to sing kumbaya. When you hear about a rally or a riot “protest” that will be taking place at this place and time, avoid that place at that time. The math on this isn’t complicated. You stand a much better chance of not being caught up in a riot if you avoid the places where these “protests” are being held.

Next, if you happen to stumble upon a riot in progress, get out of there immediately. You should be able to see something going on before you are actually in the middle of it if you are paying attention. But in a worst case scenario, once you see where you are and what is happening, get out.

All of this might seem a little too simplistic, or possibly even dismissive of the feelings people have for the various political issues of the day. But understand, your safety is 100% your responsibility, and there are legal liabilities involved in participating in a “protest” if things go wrong. Do you feel so strongly about an issue that you would risk your freedom, even if the only result of your protest and jail time is that people will know you are angry? Or consider what if things go horribly wrong and you get killed by a “protester” from the other side of the political spectrum, will your last thought be that you died doing what was right, or will it be that you wish you had stayed home?

There is a now famous photograph of the moment the car hit the crowd. In this photo (not shared here because I do not want to violate copyright), one of the victims of the crash is still in the air. His left leg is bent at an extremely awkward angle. His arms are outstretched to try to brace for the impact with the ground. But the look in his eyes is one of confusion and doubt. In my mind, I automatically ascribed a thought to the expression – why am I even here?

I could be wrong about that, but as one human being looking at the facial expression of another human being, I don’t think I am far off-base.

It would be cool if everyone could be nice, and understand each other, but right now people don’t want to understand – they want to dominate. If you can avoid this thought pattern, and if you can wean yourself off of the political brainwashing news source that you follow (I’m talking to people on both sides here), you can bring back some sanity into your life. These aren’t the answers that some people want, I know. But if you are going to be safe, but you want to go to political protests in your spare time, you need to rethink your priorities.

And a word in parting to the young people out there who feel a need to be a part of nonsense like this. You need to know two things going in. One; you will not achieve the results you hope to achieve. For all of the lip service given to the ephemeral starting a dialogue, rioting only further divides people and lessens the chance of any dialogue because the other side will see you as an animal completely devoid of logic. Two; There are people in power who will drive these demonstrations in a direction that makes violence inevitable. These people risk nothing because the angry youth are willing to riot and burn and kill and die, and they will use the mess to their own personal gain. You do not matter to them, which further emphasizes the pointlessness of the entire exercise.

In sum; don’t go to places where there is predictably going to be violence. If you find yourself in such a place, leave immediately. Never underestimate the level of violent insanity that large groups of people will commit when agitated, and don’t think that one psycho will not attack a group. If you want to make a difference, volunteer at a V.A. hospital or drive for Meals on Wheels. Put your energy into something productive. If you want to help people, actually help people. Don’t add to the reputation of a generation of people who know nothing other than an endless list of complaints. You can do and be so much more than that.

Martial Arts Cults

There are martial arts groups and organizations that engage in some borderline cult behavior. There are some that push things much further. Today I want to look at some of the characteristics that should be red flags that you are participating in a martial arts cult.

Cult status is going to require more than proclaiming that one style is superior to others or just asking for loyalty to the style. People everywhere find a sense of identity and belonging in the University they attended without even considering how long ago it was. Taking pride in your martial arts style is not harmful, it actually helps you to put more effort into what you are doing. Every style and school will try to help you find that sense of belonging and pride, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

So how can we find those groups that cross the line into cult behavior?

One can start with taking a look at the leader of the martial arts group. Is this person demanding an absolute loyalty to his or her interpretation of the art, or to themselves personally? Cult leaders need to be held by their followers as being beyond question. You cannot question the validity of their teachings. Often, this is because they cannot prove their claims, but regardless of motivation, they must not be questioned.

Another thing that can identify a martial arts cult is the rules which dictate your life and decisions beyond martial arts training. This often falls under the classification of some form of Warrior Culture or another. While I am here, I will mention in passing that martial cults never get tired of using Warrior this and Warrior that. This is used or misused as a way to control your behavior, your outlook, and even your thinking. Controlling your behavior makes the group look they way they want to look. But control over your outlook and thinking keeps you from asking questions that might make you see through the game. Just as an example, there are martial arts groups that have rules regarding things that are none of their business such as your diet, hair style, interaction with your spouse, etc.

Every type of martial art has these types of cults – Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Japanese – it is there. Not every organization is a cult, but the cults are everywhere and you can spot them if you look closely. Anytime they start to dictate your life and decisions outside of the training hall, put on the ol’ critical thinking cap and take a look around.

As always, likes, shares, and subscriptions to this site are deeply appreciated!