Archive for May, 2013

Black Sheep

Posted in Black Sheep, Colorado, Concealed Carry, Firearms, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2013 by blackshepherd

This is a wolf:

blackshepherdblog02

Except for the fact that he is not a wolf;

SAMSUNG

he is a sheepdog, a German Shepherd. If he were a wolf, that baby would probably be a Scooby-snack. Instead, he is definitely the safest infant in the park.

How is one to tell the difference between the wolf and the sheepdog? Both are big and strong, they have fur, pointy ears, and fangs. They look very similar, in fact they are as close as cousins can be. They are two sides of the same coin. However, looks are deceiving. The best way to tell the difference between a shepherd and a wolf is by their actions. The same is true of people.

The metaphor of wolves, sheepdogs, and sheep is not new, nor is it mine. It was used extensively by LTC (ret) Dave Grossman in his books On Killing, and On Combat. There are those that love these books and those that hate them. Either way, they are worth a read simply because of their proliferation throughout the military and police forces. The particular chapter from On Killing, which I intend to pilfer mercilessly, is here: On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs.

The basic idea is that there are three kinds of people in the world. There are the sheep, the majority of the population that is non-violent:

“We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.”

The wolves are human predators and prey on others:

“Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds.”

Then there are the sheepdogs, people that have committed themselves to the defense of others:

“But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.”

I love this metaphor but I think many people are put off by the absolutism of the comparisons. There is more of a sliding scale amongst personalities, degrees of ability and inclination. Obviously not every criminal is Hannibal Lector and not every member of the security forces is Captain America.

A sheepdog is a member of the “protectors.” People who have volunteered to put themselves between society and evil. Protectors with a particular talent for righteous violence often end up in the combat arms of the military or the more specialized portions of police forces. They can also be found working as highly paid personal protection (bodyguards) and “fixers” for people with the money to “fix” things. These people are highly trained professionals, with a finely-tuned set of skills. Those without the inclination to violence often work in the support arms of the military or the more standardized jobs within police forces. These people are still highly trained but usually with a much different skill set than the previous group. This is not to say that the sheepdog personality can only be found in the military or police, or that everyone in those professions is a sheepdog. However, the warrior mentality does tend to gravitate to warrior occupations. The “reduced violence” brand of sheepdogs can also be found working as firefighters, doctors, lawyers, teachers, almost any profession where protecting and nurturing others is necessary.

“Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.”

Not everyone has the time, inclination, or abilities to be a sheepdog, nor should they. Science, art, literature, music, any and all of the things that make life worth enjoying, would suffer in a purely warrior-based society. Pursuit of life and liberty is what the sheepdogs have signed-on to protect. Average people having a safe place to pursue these things is what makes the sheepdogs efforts valuable. However, no one wants to think of themselves as a sheep.

To torture the metaphor a little farther, I propose a fourth way. A place between the sheepdog and the sheep. One does not have to volunteer to protect society. Instead, learn to take care of yourself and your family. Go to a reputable trainer and learn how to do so in the most extreme of circumstances. The fact is, the sheepdog, to sheep, to wolf ratio is not in favor of the sheep. Getting eaten, even once, is kind of permanent. Ask yourself some hard questions about those that you love, and how far you are willing to go to keep them safe. You will learn some things about yourself that you were unaware of and come to terms with some hard truths. Some of the most adamant anti-violence activists I have ever met have admitted privately that they would violate their principles to protect their children, even if not themselves. Unfortunately for them, at that point in time it is too late to get ready.

Get prepared for worst case scenarios, then go on about your life. Pursue your chosen profession, care for your spouse, and raise your children. . My father, a teacher and one of the most amiable men I know (except when riled), read this before I posted it. He said, “I knew the day that you and your brother were born that I had two options protect to the utmost, or punish to the ends of the earth.” Always be ready to defend your family if the circumstances of life and the tyrannies of evil men make it necessary. Help will be coming but time will not be your friend. Please be prepared for that day if it ever comes. The world will be a better place for it. Be a black sheep.

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Colorado is Pissed

Posted in Colorado, Concealed Carry, Firearms, Gun Control Debate, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2013 by blackshepherd

Right up front I need to say that I am trying as hard as I can to keep this blog apolitical. I want it to be welcoming to people of any and all political stripes. I truly believe that if I can get people to go to the range with someone competent then they will become responsible gun owners, at the very least responsible gun understanders. When it comes to the questions of politics, I default to the side of liberty, no matter which political party is on one side or the other. As a result, some of this post may seem to bash one political party. As one of my associates used to say after doing some business, “They brought that shit on themselves.”

I love Colorado. The weather is fantastic, the mountains are beautiful and the people here have a libertarian streak a mile-wide. They do not want anyone, especially the government, telling them how to live their lives whether that is prohibitions on marijuana or on firearms. Many citizens of Colorado feel betrayed by the recent passage of anti-gun legislation in the Colorado State House. Many long-time residents of the state are thoroughly confused about how such a thing could have even been proposed in Colorado, much less passed. The answer is demographics, political apathy, and underhanded political tactics.

I am going to eventually write a much longer post related to the demographics of Colorado. As in many states that are mostly rural, the politics of the state are dominated by the major metropolitan areas. The Denver area, especially when one includes Aurora, Boulder, and Ft. Collins, is experiencing some of the fastest population growth in the country. It votes towards the left wing. It is dragging a state that was thoroughly libertarian towards authoritarianism. When the recently passed gun-control legislation came before the state Senate only 90 minutes of testimony were allowed for each side of the debate. You see, the outcome was a foregone conclusion and those that had already made their decisions had other parts of an agenda to work on. A total of three hours was allowed to discuss limitations on a freedom named in the Bill of Rights. A freedom that Americans have died for since America was an idea and not a country. That is disgusting.

This sorry state of affairs came about because of political apathy. Normal citizens have lives to lead. They are busy trying to make a living, take care of their homes and feed their children. In Colorado the libertarian streak I wrote about plays a large part in how people relate to each other and the government. The typical attitude is, “Hey man, you don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you, I might not even pay you that much attention.” Well, the state government has messed with people and they are furious. One of the best ways to get Americans to do something is to tell them they cannot (See Prohibition for historical reference). Anything that looks like an AR pattern rifle flies off of the shelves of gun stores. One has not been able to buy ammunition at normal cost for months. Most ammunition can be had but at double its normal price, and people are still buying it. The only thing in stock at most stores is 20 gauge target rounds and .270. Average people are stockpiling magazines whenever and wherever they can find them. This is indicative of a population that is distrustful of not just the government but what the future holds. I have never seen anything like it in my whole life.

In response to this widespread dissatisfaction with the recent gun legislation 54 of 64 Colorado county sheriffs have signed onto a federal lawsuit against the state of Colorado. The sheriffs are arguing that the new laws are in violation of the 2nd and 14th Amendments, as well as being nearly impossible to enforce.

“We each took an oath. The line in the sand has been drawn, and we will stand united,” said El Paso Sheriff, Terry Maketa

Hell yeah…

Sheriff’s lawsuit   Sheriff’s Lawsuit 2

Also in response to the nature of these laws, and the manner in which they were passed, efforts are underway to recall three state senators and one state representative who were integral to the process. True grass-roots efforts, started by folks that have no political experience, are underway to recall Colorado Senate President John Morse, State Senators Evie Hudak and Angela Giron, and State Representative Mike McLachlan. Efforts may also be in the offing to recall State Representative Rhonda Fields, who sponsored two of the recent gun bills. In order to recall a Colorado politician, the recall effort must get a number of valid signatures (real people of voting age that actually live in the district in question) to 25 percent of the total number of ballots cast in the election of the politician being recalled.

Senator Morse says he’s not worried:

“What they’re accusing us all of is passing sensible gun legislation that 90 percent of the public supports, so how does that work to get 50 percent to [vote for a] recall?” Morse asked.

I’ll tell you how it works Senator Morse, claiming that you had 90 percent of the public behind your proposals makes you a liar. I have personally met NO ONE that supports this gun control legislation. I live in a slightly more rural part of the state but it is it possible that I am only surrounded by the very small minority that is opposed to to this legislation? Conversely, everyone I engage in conversation on the topic is irate. Senator Morse, you knew that your claimed numbers of supporters was vastly exaggerated. You also knew that what support you did have was waning as the emotions from the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings died down. That is why you rushed these laws through the process before the average citizen of Colorado knew what was happening. Prepare to reap what you have sown.

Senator Morse can claim that he is not worried but he should be. Yesterday I walked into a local gun shop in Colorado Springs. There was a very nice lady meeting people in the doorway and asking them to sign the recall petition. She was doing a booming business. I questioned her about the process and the issues. She was articulate and well-informed about all of the issues and the political process. She also said that the recall effort already has the requisite number of signatures. Now they are trying to collect extras to ensure a buffer in case any signatures are disallowed.  I explained that I do not live in the correct district to sign the petition but thanked her profusely for what she was doing. If this is the caliber of volunteer that is working on the recall, then Senator Morse should be very worried indeed. The recall efforts website is available here: Basic Freedom Defense Fund

Some of the other recall targets may be a little more concerned. Apparently Senator Evie Hudak had a conniption-fit about people collecting petition signatures outside of the grocery store where she shops. She complained to the store management, referring to the store as “my store.” Why should she understand the implications of the 1st Amendment when she certainly does not understand those of the 2nd Amendment?

State Representative Mike McLachlan is not a student of the US Constitution either. On his recall website he is quoted as saying:

“…the right of the First Amendment is not absolute. It is like every right in that in the proper circumstances the government may infringe, take away, or completely reduce that right.”

We discussed legitimate governmental restriction of rights in “Gun Debate Parts One and Two.” Legitimate restrictions are not what he was referring to. How the hell do these people get elected? Mostly political apathy. Hopefully that is a situation that is about to be rectified.

Colorado Recalls     Colorado Recalls 2

Gun Control Debate Part Four: No one is trying to take your guns.

Posted in Colorado, Firearms, Gun Control Debate with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2013 by blackshepherd

Settle down, Wild Bill, nobody is trying to take your guns away.

No one is talking about taking your guns.

No one wants to ban all guns etc.etc. etc…

What proponents of this argument are actually stating is that no governmental agency is going door-to-door registering or confiscating citizen’s firearms. Further they are insinuating that there is no desire or credible plan to do so. True, unless you happen to live in Washington State and own an “evil,” firearm. If Washington Senate Bill 5737 passes, county sheriffs can knock on the doors of homes with registered “assault weapons,” enter without a warrant, and make sure they’re “secure.” Is this a Fourth Amendment violation?  Washington “assault weapons” law

Americans are by and large a people who have been insulated from the unrelenting realities of war and the constant insecurities of conflict. This is not the case throughout most of the world. Americans have received the benefits of this isolation from the gifts of geography and the establishment of an amazingly professional military, law enforcement, and judicial apparatus. The system is not perfect but it is very good. Unfortunately, as a result of this isolation Americans tend to disregard some parts of reality. Evil exists in the world and tyranny is a trap for the unwary.

There are quite a number of societal elites who believe that they know better than the great and unwashed masses. Many of them do not want US citizens to be armed. A portion of the average population also does not believe that citizens should be armed. Why should they? Americans have by and large abrogated the responsibility for their own safety and welfare to others, and very successfully at that. Divorce from the necessities of their own defense has made people comfortable with the idea of being taken care of. As a result there are those that want every firearm in the United States confiscated. Some will say so out loud, some behind closed doors, some only in their heart of hearts. I prefer the ones with the intellectual honesty to say what they mean, no matter how much I disagree with them.

Senator Diane Feinstein:

“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out-right ban, picking up every one of them… ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in,’ I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.”   CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes”, February 5, 1995

Attorney General Eric Holder:

In 1995 Eric Holder, then the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, wanted to start a campaign to: “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”  Brainwash

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York:

“Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it.” confiscation

I have not included quotes from anti-gun media personalities such as Piers Morgan and his fellow travelers. I simply don’t have the inclination or the room.

Calling for the destruction of one of our constitutional foundations is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment, highlighting one of the great strengths and ironies of our system. Speech that is meant to contravene the Bill of Rights is protected by the same document. However, the fact that patently un-constitutional ideas are voiced by elected leaders of the United States government, who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, is disturbing. What is even more disturbing is that these same politicians continue to be elected.

Others repeatedly and knowingly start down the path of gun removal by slowly banning or regulating firearms and accessories. Of particular interest are the often ignored actions of state legislators. Some that wish to disarm American citizens will only discuss the idea behind closed doors. Unless we have an open mike moment like this one-Confiscate– we can only discover their intentions by the legislation that they introduce. State by state break down below:

California:

California’s gun laws were arguably the most draconian in the entire union until New York passed their recent NYSAFE act. Some of the highlights in California are a continuing “assault weapons” ban, ten round limits on detachable magazines, and an extremely expensive and onerous process to acquire a concealed carry permit. I could get into details but it would take a lot more space and frankly the ignorance makes my head hurt. For a pervasive and knowledgeable discussion of California’s gun laws spend some time on the forums here:  http://www.calguns.net/

Of interest to the discussion at hand is one of the newest pieces of legislation within the California senate.  CA SB 374 classifies any rifle fed via a removable magazine as an “assault weapon.” The bill specifically includes rimfire rifles as part of the legislative language. It would require bans on all new sales and registration of existing rifles. For those that are unfamiliar with firearms terminology, the term rimfire refers to a cartridge that is ignited by the firing pin of a firearm striking the rim at the base of the cartridge. This is opposed to centerfire cartridges where the firing pin of the firearm strikes a primer in the center of the cartridge base. Modern rimfire cartridges are typically small and inexpensive, the most common being the ubiquitous .22LR. Because of light recoil, reduced ranges, and inexpensive ammunition rimfire firearms are typically used to train new shooters and children. Many shooters also do a majority of their fundamental training using rimfire firearms. They are simply a heck of a lot of fun to shoot.

Rimfires are certainly not “assault weapons.” These guns cannot be classified as “assault weapons,” by the professional definition of the term we discussed in part two of this series. Until recently, they could not even be classified as “assault weapons” by any politicized definition of the term. To call rimfire rifles “assault weapons,” is an outrageous exaggeration of an already hyperbolic term. It is a blatant attempt to make the most innocuous of firearms illegal. This is the problem with lack of firearms literacy and the incorrect usage of terminologies. If we allow legislators to use nebulous and elastic terms to describe firearms, then they can subsequently apply these terms to anything.  But don’t worry; no one is trying to take your “normal” guns. Until it become politically feasible to classify them as “assault weapons.”

More ignorance and fear-mongering here: Restrictions in California

Colorado:

Effective July 1 2013, background checks will be required for all private sales. In addition it will be unlawful to possess, sell, or transfer any “large capacity magazine.” (The arbitrary number is 15- Gun Control Debate Part Two)Except for all of the magazines that Colorado residents already own.  More than half of Colorado’s elected sheriff’s are mounting a legal challenge to these restrictions. The sheriffs understand that these laws are unenforceable and an infringement upon the rights of citizens.  Colorado Sheriffs  

Because of these restrictions  Magpul, which employs more than 200 people and generates about $85 million worth of taxable income, has left the state. Magpul leaves Colorado  HiViz Shooting Systems is also moving to Laramie, Wyoming.

Connecticut:

Following the Sandy Hook shooting lawmakers in Connecticut used an emergency certification to expedite the passage of new gun laws. These laws added over one-hundred firearms to the State’s already existing “assault weapons,” ban and required registration of existing “assault weapons.”  They limited magazine capacity to ten rounds and required anyone possessing a magazine holding more than ten rounds to register it. (How the hell does one register a magazine anyway? Most do not even have serial numbers) The new laws mandate background checks for any firearms sales and require documentation of any sale , including private transfers, with the Orwellian-titled, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. In addition to all of these requirements, anyone buying ammunition, a long gun, or a shotgun, must present a state-issued certificate documenting that they are allowed to do so. Gun manufacturers such as Colt, Sturm Ruger and Co, Stag Arms, and PTR are threatening to, or planning to leave the state, taking jobs and taxes with them. Gun manufacturers Leaving

Maryland:

Maryland approved a gun bill, going into effect on 1 October 2013, that bans the sale of 45 types of “military style” (at least their terminology is more correct, though still based on cosmetic features) semi-automatic rifles. Their gun law also limits magazine size to ten rounds and requires a government issued license, including the submission of the licensee’s fingerprints, to purchase a handgun. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/us/tighter-gun-rules-pass-the-maryland-legislature.html?_r=0

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts has put forth “An Act To Strengthen and Enhance Firearms Laws in the Commonwealth. http://www.mass.gov/governor/legislationeexecorder/legislation/an-act-to-strengthen-and-enhance-firearms-laws.html

This act was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on 16 May 2013, as I was writing this. It limits magazine capacity from the current 10 to 7 rounds. It limits gun purchases to one per month, with any more than one being a felony offense. The act subjects all firearms transfers to a background check. Gun shows must report every seller at a gun show to the Department of Criminal Justice Services and pay a $500 fee. In addition to all of this; air guns, BB guns, paintball guns, and NERF guns (yeah, that last one is not a typo) may not be possessed on any school property. Any staff or administrators at a school who fail to report a violation are subject to a $500 fine. Great, now children with NERF guns are criminals, as are administrators and teachers who fail to rat them out to the government. Don’t they have better things to do in the Commonwealth?

Missouri:

Legislators in Missouri introduced a bill that would give owners of legally purchased and owned “assault weapons” or “large capacity magazines” (their arbitrary round count is 10) 90 days to:

a)      remove the weapon or large capacity magazine from the state

b)      Render the weapon permanently inoperable

c)       Surrender the weapon or large capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction

This bill has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing but it has been proposed.http://www.examiner.com/article/missouri-democrats-propose-law-giving-gun-owners-90-days-to-turn-weapons

New York:

New York has enhanced their already draconian gun laws with the NYSAFE act. This act further restricts “assault weapons” by defining them according to one feature (again cosmetic) as opposed to the previous two, as well as mandating a police registry of the firearms. Owners of “assault rifles” or pistols must be “recertified” every five years to ensure that they are still within compliance with the law. It requires stores that sell ammunition to register with the state, run background checks on all purchases of ammunition, and keep an electronic database of ammunition sales. I can’t say definitively but I image that anyone buying an amount of ammunition that a government bureaucrat deems excessive should be expecting a visit from the NY State police.

The act establishes a state registry for private sales, excluding relatives. It restricts ammunition capacity to seven rounds instead of the current ten and mandates that owners of currently legal magazines sell them outside of the state within a year.  One man has already been arrested for having nine rounds instead of seven in his legally owned pistol. NY man arrested for two extra rounds

There is plenty more but these are the most egregious examples. If you care to read more go here: http://www.governor.ny.gov/nysafeact/gun-reform

Washington:

In Washington State the previously mentioned Senate Bill SB5737, if passed, would allow sheriffs to enter the homes of those with registered “assault weapons” sans warrant, and ensure that they are “secure.” No more than once a year though. It would also ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons that fed from detachable magazines, virtually all such weapons. Magazines that contain more than ten rounds would become illegal.

The list above is by no means comprehensive. I am certain that there are several states, personalities, or issues that I have missed. However, I hope that you take my point.

Australia:

Yes, I am well aware that Australia is an entirely different continent. However, gun-control advocates commonly espouse Australia’s gun ban as a template for the United States. For them the comparison is compelling. In 1996 a psychologically disturbed man used semi-automatic rifles to kill 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania. This was the cited as the cause for the subsequent governmental confiscation of over 700,000 semi-automatic weapons from the Australian people.  The political situation was very similar to the one in the US following Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook. Vultures were circling, waiting for a tragedy to advance their agendas.

Arguments about the effects of the confiscation rage between both sides of the debate. I am not going to get into those because they mostly revolve around statistics and I am not a statistician. The key point often left out of this argument is the US Constitution, where the right to own firearms is concrete.

However, I want to use Australia as an example of what happens once gun-control advocates get their “assault weapons” bans. You see, they don’t declare victory, happy with their new utopia; they continue in their quest to disarm the populace, entirely. The gun control lobby in Australia seems to be gearing up to ban bolt action and single-shot rifles. I quote gun control advocate Philip Alpers, “Guns are a bit like a virus. You clamp down on one type of gun, another one pops up and you have to deal with that.” American gun control advocates are listening to those from Australia. Rebecca Peters, one of the key authors of the Australian gun confiscation, subsequently went on to work for the Open Society Institute, a New York City based private foundation funded by George Soros. An interview with her on NPR following the Sandy Hook shooting inspired me to buy two more evil black rifles. Follow the links and draw your own conclusions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Peters

http://newsbusters.org/node/9336

Australia gun lobby after bolt-action rifles

United Kingdom:

The UK is another example of gun legislation that anti-gun advocates espouse as a template for the United States. British subjects have a long history of owning weapons for self-defense from criminals and oppression. The right to keep and bear arms originated in 1181 and was incorporated as part of common law. English Common law, from which many American laws were derived, had this to say about the right to arms:

The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.” – Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England

Historical events led to incremental restrictions on arms in order to repress certain parts of the population, or in reaction to perceived dangers. Below is a very brief and non-comprehensive synopsis of these restrictions. Laws limiting arms were passed in:

1716, 1725, and 1746-following the Jacobite rebellions, these laws were designed specifically to disarm the Scottish Highlanders.

1824-following the Napoleonic wars, these laws were in reaction to an influx of armed ex-soldiers returning from the wars on the Continent.

1903-an act was passed regulating the sale and ownership of pistols

1920-an act was passed changing the right to bear arms, making it conditional upon the Home Office and Police. This act was in response to the large number of firearms available following World War I and the resurgence of militant groups in Ireland.

1937-this act extended firearms controls to short-barreled (less than 20″) shotguns and smooth-bore guns. It also decreed that self-defense was no longer a valid reason for application for a firearms license. It stated, “firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection and may be a source of danger.”

1968-this act consolidated all previous firearms regulation. It also introduced controls for regular shotguns and provided for their licensing. It prohibited anyone convicted of a crime from possessing firearms or ammunition.

On 19 August 1987 in Hungerford, England a 27-year-old man, who was likely suffering from acute schizophrenia, armed himself with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun. He then randomly killed sixteen people and wounded fifteen others before killing himself. One of those he killed was his mother. Sound familiar? In the aftermath of the tragedy the Parliament passed the Firearms Act of 1988. This act banned the ownership of semi-automatic, center-fire, rifles and restricted shotguns with a capacity of more than three rounds.  Of note is that any shotgun containing more than three rounds is now referred to as “high or large capacity.” Just another example of what happens when terminologies are defined by politicians.

On 13 March 1996 in Dunblane, Scotland, a 43-year-old man, who was probably a pedophile, entered the Dunblane Primary School with four handguns. He killed seventeen people and then himself.  In response to this terrible crime the Parliament passed the Firearms Act of 1997. This act banned all “high-caliber” handguns in England, Scotland, and Wales. “High-power,” in this case means everything larger than single-shot .22 caliber firearms. The only exceptions are black-powder handguns and guns of “historic interest,” whose ammunition is no longer available.

Overview of UK gun restrictions

The UK has made it nearly impossible for the average person to keep or bear arms. However, without getting into statistics, there are still crimes committed with guns in the UK. UK gun crime Criminals acquire illegal guns, use antique guns, or retrofit flare or starters pistols for nefarious purposes. However, incidents of crimes involving guns have greatly decreased. This would be a good news story for gun-control advocates, except for the fact that knife crime has soared. Stabbings, slashings, and knife-point robbery have gotten out of control. What is the UK solution? Ban knives, including kitchen knives. Knife BanKnife Ban 2 You can’t make this stuff up. The bans never stop. Once you have decided that it is the government’s responsibility to take care of you, they will never stop “taking care of you.” What is the next ban, pointy scissors, beer bottles, lacrosse sticks or tire irons? Orwell is in his grave screaming, “I told you so!”

What the UK and Australia have done is to remove an accessible means of defense, firearms, from those who most need it; women, the elderly, the disabled and lawful citizens. In fact, if you use even a legally owned firearm to protect yourself you can expect to be prosecuted.- Farmer Prosecuted Both of these governments are an example to the US but not the one that gun control advocates want. They are illustrative of what happens when we allow the government to disarm the population. They have made those within society that are most in need of defense prey for those young and strong enough to victimize others.  Edged and impact weapons are the purview of the large and strong. Knives, clubs, broken bottles and bare hands; welcome back to the Middle Ages. If you are not strong enough to physically fight back you can become a victim. Humanity has its problems; there is a segment of society that will always prey upon the weak. The answer is not to disarm the weak. The answer is to point at evil in every form and call it what it is. To confront and confound evil at every turn. Look evil in the eyes and spit in its face. When you do these things, you should probably be armed.

In some respect those that argue, “no one is coming to take your guns,” are correct. No government agency is going door to door confiscating the firearms of American citizens. To issue such an order would be politically disastrous and possibly devastating to the country. –Part Three– As easy as it would be to order law enforcement to confiscate guns, it would be a much different matter for those expected to execute the order. In fact, I have a good friend who was a New York State law enforcement officer. He recently quit his job as a consequence of just such an order. (I am trying to get him to write an article about that experience) There are many within the security forces of the United States that take their oath to the Constitution very seriously.

However, there are plenty of people within the United States that are doing their very best to infringe upon the rights of citizens. They want to outlaw certain types of firearms, limit magazine capacities, marginalize and discredit legal gun owners. They want to make the ownership of firearms legally onerous and a financial hardship. Many want to regulate the legal bearing of arms to the point that it becomes nearly impossible or extremely expensive. Legislators have even gone so far as to make it a crime to bequeath legally owned firearms to family members following the death of the owner. In direct contravention of the Supreme Court they are attempting to outlaw “firearms in common usage.” They are not sending police officers to your house to seize your guns; they are conducting confiscation by inches.  Make no mistake; the intended result of this creeping incrementalism is a disarmed populace.

I do not believe that it is necessary to engage in politically charged, emotional rhetoric to successfully argue that there is a segment of the United States that wishes to disarm the populace. In fact, I believe such rhetoric would detract from the overall argument. I have laid out a compelling series of proofs by simply repeating the words and legislation of those that wish to disarm America. Any one of these proofs, taken singularly, could be construed as legitimately concerned, though misguided, leaders attempting to do what is right within the scope of their duties. However, taken as a whole these proofs become a window into a wider agenda; the deliberate removal from the American people of the means for the defense of self and nation.

The majorities of people who support the faction that wants to remove firearms from Americans are well intentioned but are misguided or ignorant about firearms. Most of these people can be reasoned with, can be engaged in civil conversation, and most importantly, exposed to firearms and possibly converted. I believe that competent firearms training can be a life changing event for many people. Please offer education in the place of ignorance and to as many as are willing to learn. –Training– The remainder of the anti-gun faction is bound by ideology and will not be reasoned with. These people are dangerous and must be opposed at every turn. They ARE coming to get your guns however they can. Slowly and surely they are attempting to disarm the populace of the Unites States of America. I leave you with C.S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. “

Brian’s Comment and Response

Posted in Firearms, Gun Control Debate with tags , , , , , , , on May 12, 2013 by blackshepherd

The following comment from Brian in reference to “Gun Control Debate: Part Two,” was long enough and thoughtful enough that I think it deserves a whole post. His comment and my response are below:

In part 2, you state, “It is easy to miss; even more so under stress.” Yet, a few paragraphs later, you more-or-less state that it’s pretty much acceptable for the collateral damage done to innocent bystanders. Yes, police officers ARE trained/qualified. The same holds true to many concealed carry holders. However, with the exception of those permit holders who have been former military who have ACTIVELY seen combat, and those law enforcement members who have been in an ACTIVE shooting situation, I think it’s safe to assume that anyone with a concealed handgun would be scared shitless, in a situation such as this. Take Aurora for example… the shooter entered a darkened theater, used tear gas (or smoke canisters), was wearing some body armor and used an AR-15 clone, with a 100 rd drum magazine (more on that in a bit). Imagine the sheer chaos in this environment. I’ve got friends who said “Well, if I was there, I WOULD’VE shot him, myself.” The point is simply this: no one can truly say how they would react in such a situation. The “flight or fight” mechanism is a real thing. If someone were capable of the rational thought process needed to actually pull their own handgun is one thing. Being able to accurately level it and get off a “kill shot” against someone unarmed and unarmored is something else. Doing the same against someone in the above scenario is another thing entirely different, altogether. What happens if the permit holder kills innocents, in the process, and doesn’t stop the shooter? I would think that’s manslaughter, at the least. Again, no one can say how they’d react in this scenario. As you said, most of these terrible events are over with, as soon as they start. Is that enough time to thoroughly process the information at hand and react accordingly?

I can see the merits of your argument for 30 rd magazines, even if it’s something I don’t agree with. To me, there is no practical purpose of such items. However, what argument can be made for 100 rd drum magazines? Granted, the way I understand it, there is a certain brand of them, that are crap, and are prone to jamming (the Aurora shooter’s 100 rd drum jammed, reportedly). However, I cannot find anyone to tell me the practical considerations of owning these (or 30 rd magazines, as well). The best argument someone gave me, was that recreational shooters like the idea (concerning 30 rds) of target shooting, without the need for constantly having to reload. Okay, I can see the economic standpoint of this. At the same time, however, I wonder about the financial feasibility of shooting 100 or 30 rounds at a time, versus only shooting 5.

Not many people understand the sheer damage that a .223/5.56 bullet can do to soft tissue. The 5.56 bullet was originally designed to tumble, ever so slightly. The effect this has on entering soft tissue, at a velocity of around 3000 ft/s is nothing short of devastating. Even without the tumbling effect, the higher velocity, alone, caused cavitation in the soft tissues. This is just as bad. In contrast, the 7.62×39 (lower velocity and without the tumbling) produces a more through and through type wound. I have never been in combat, however I’ve worked in EMS for 21 years, and I’ve seen the effects of close-range shootings done by a 5.56mm round. My point is, that the vast majority of people (I assume) have not seen the results of something like this. It’s easy to say “well, that happened in Colorado” or “well, Conneticut is so far away from here”. What happens if someone who’s anti-gun control had to look at the autopsy photographs of a 7 year old, with multiple GSWs done by this round?

That’s not to say we shouldn’t do away with all .223/5.56 guns and ammunition and only allow 7.62, .308, .30-30, or .30-06. However, the vast majority of the firearms (in the civilian market) are used as hunting rifles. The majority of these hunting rifles have a capacity of 6+/- rounds. Why do we limit ourselves to the number of rounds in a bolt action hunting rifle, and not in a modern semi-automatic sporting rifle (the correct term for the ambiguously used “assault rifle)?

I used to own a post-ban Norinco Mak-90. This rifle came with a 5 rd box magazine, and I later purchased a 30 round magazines. I admit, this gun was very fun to shoot. I also had no qualms about filling out the paperwork (circa 1995?) and submitting to a background check. Had I purchased this rifle at a gun show, and not a licensed dealer, I would have expected to pass the same scrutiny.

I don’t want anyone to lose their guns. However, I am perplexed as to why people aren’t keen on more thorough background checks and limiting magazine capacity. Some argue that it’s nothing more that getting added to a national gun registry. So? If they’ve ever bought a firearm at a licensed dealer, then they’re ALREADY on any supposed registry. If they’re only buying from private citizens, or gun shows, then what do they have to hide?? Others actually DO claim that they want to be able to defend “when the guvment comes to take mah gunz” (as much as you disagree with this, personally). One of my friends is fond of saying “you can’t weed out stupid”, and he may be right. More inclusive background checks won’t necessarily stop the drunk guy from showing off his prized .40 Glock to his buddies, at a party, and ending up shooting one of them. Nor will it necessarily stop the 8 y/o from accidentally shooting his younger sister. It’s also entirely conceivable that they wouldn’t keep another one of the 52 mass shootings perpetrated since 1982, from happening again.

BUT…

What if it DID? Just one shooting stopped from ever taking place? Just one. Isn’t that worth it?

I fully realize that my argument is more about being pro-background check, yet I still dwell a lot on magazine capacity. I understand that someone can carry ten 5rd magazines and still do a terrible amount of damage. However, if we can focus on a) stopping certain people from getting guns, and b) have a better system of helping those who need it, then I believe that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Brian,

Thank for reading this and taking the time to form such a comprehensive response to some of my points. If reasonable people cannot reasonably discuss basic ideas, then humanity is sunk. Hopefully, I can bring you a little closer to my point of view. If not, there is still value in the conversation:

In response to your first point: I think that irrespective of previous combat, anyone engaged in a fight for their life is going to be scared shitless. That is the nature of humanity and survival. The important point is that being scared to death and being able to function are not mutually exclusive. Some of the ability to function under pressure is personality driven, but most of it is performance based. Performance is based on training. As I said in part three: just because almost everyone CAN legally bear arms in public does not mean that everyone SHOULD bear arms. Training to carry a firearm means preparation for possible life and death scenarios. The tactical variables that you cite in reference to Aurora are: darkness, smoke, gunfire, an unknown number of assailants, and the perpetrator wearing body armor. All of these factors sound like normal training scenarios to me. Violent assaults often happen at night, in the dark. Gunfire or other loud noises and smoke are almost a given in a gunfight and one can never be sure of the number of assailants in any given situation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped to provide the military with body armor undreamt of by previous generations. An unforeseen consequence of this proliferation of protective equipment is that it has become readily available to everyday criminals. The citizen’s response to body armor is the same as the citizen’s response to any target that does not react to gunfire: the failure drill. For the un-initiated, the failure drill is two shots to the chest and one to the head; repeated as necessary. This technique is not easy to execute but it is also not as hard as some would pretend. Mrs. Blackshepherd, Momma Blackshepherd, and Papa Blackshepherd, who has bad arthritis, all do it quite regularly during training. Some claim that the shooting of moving targets under duress is all but impossible. Not true at all, it just takes practice beforehand. Shoot moving targets during practice. Practice under stress. Know your limitations.

In the Aurora situation the public was dealing with a man that had committed to die, was wearing body armor and armed with a rifle in public. He had specifically chosen a gun-free zone as location of his attack. At most he could expect one, maybe two, civilians armed with concealable pistols. In fact there were none. Had you been there what do you THINK you would do?

People carrying deadly weapons in public are expected to know their own limitations. Learning your personal limitations only comes with training. Gunfights do not happen at noon, on the street, between two people who have agreed upon a mutual combat. If someone spends all of their training time on the seven meter-line, in the daytime, shooting at single, stationary, paper targets then perhaps they should reconsider the nature of violent conflicts and worst case scenarios.

Please see the recent shootout between the Boston Police and the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. Reports indicate that over 300 rounds were exchanged; the vast majority were fired by the Boston PD. Many of them missed wildly, even going so far as to penetrate the second story windows of surrounding houses. See here:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/05/06/bullet-that-nearly-killed-mbta-police-officer-watertown-gunfight-appears-have-been-friendly-fire/kIv9CYo0oVGBC3DlhFjelL/story.html

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/04/24/spec_op_2nd_thoughts_did_the_police_do_that_well_in_the_boston_bomber_hunt

However, what I wrote concerning the ability for anyone to miss their target under stress, and potential collateral damage, was not a hole in my argument. Yes, it is possible for anyone to miss under stress. Yes, those misses could result in the injury or death of bystanders. However, in the unlikely scenario that many have cited, a mass shooter who is indiscriminately killing others, I believe that the chance is worth the risk. See the links above. Would anyone have wanted the Boston police to NOT take those shots?

As I previously stated, I do not know what I would do in an active shooter scenario, there are too many tactical variables. But I always want the option. By that, I mean that I want to be legally carrying a gun. This gives me the option to draw, to shoot, or not. Disarming the responsible, law-abiding citizen is not going to make any situation better. An armed citizen, choosing not to shoot, will not change the situation. An armed citizen engaging an active shooter is likely going to slow them down and at best injure or kill them; stopping the attack entirely. Many mass shooters have killed themselves at the first sign of opposition, also ending the attack.

If my family was in the room I would want the armed citizen to take their shot. Even if they do not hit the attacker.  Even if they hit me in the background. People may escape with their lives because of the chance that armed citizen has taken. The only other option is for people to cower and die. If I should ever happen to be the armed citizen that missed, I would be happy to explain why my trained, well-aimed, and deliberate gun-fire; directed at a madman, was preferred to the continued execution of innocents.

In reference to 100-round drum magazines; I do not know any professionals that use them because they do not work. If mass-shooters are going to buy them, I hope that they remain legal and that they continue to result in type-III (very hard to correct) weapons malfunctions.

I believe that I made my point concerning 30-round magazines. They have nothing to do with having fun on the range.  The founding fathers of this country, backed up by the Supreme Court, intended for the citizenry of the United States to own militia weapons. The militia weapon of today is the AR-15, loaded with a 30-round magazine. If these weapons are not suitable for self-defense, take them away from the federal, state, and local, law-enforcement agencies that issue them. Standard-capacity magazines are also excellent for self-defense; especially for those that have difficulty manipulating weapons. Those that are willing to violate the law would have no issue acquiring or manufacturing such magazines. Do not take them from the hands of the law-abiding.

You seem to insinuate that 5.56mm/.223cal rounds inflict more damage to people than 7.62mm/.30cal rounds. I appreciate your service as an EMT but this argument does not hold up in real life. I am not going to get into ballistics just yet. I want people who have never fired a gun to be able to follow the conversation. However, the main causation of permanent cavitation in a bullet wound is the size of the round. A .30cal is bigger than a .223. Therefore it makes a bigger hole. The bottom line is that all bullets can tumble, regardless of their initial size. I have seen some gnarly entrance and exit wounds caused by everything from small caliber pistol rounds to legitimately high-powered rifle rounds. Getting shot with a rifle, any rifle, is just not going to be a good day for anyone. There is no death-ray caliber. If there were, it would certainly not be .223.

For shooting humans in a gunfight, given the choice between a 7.62mm/.30 cal rifle and a 5.56mm/.223cal rifle, nine times out of ten I am going to choose the 7.62/.30 cal. As long as these guns are AR-10/SCAR/M-14, variants they are going to be my weapon of choice. People shot with these caliber weapons typically drop like a puppet with its strings cut.  However, I am an unusually large and strong man. Recoil with standard rifles is a negligible factor to me. A .30 caliber battle-rifle often makes no sense for use in a home-defense scenario where over-penetration is an issue. Shooting a bad guy but potentially blowing a hole in my neighbor’s house is good for no one. Battle-rifles also make no sense for home defense when it may be me, or it may be my 115pd wife, behind the gun. Mrs. Blackshepherd shoots very well but I prefer that she be holding an AR-15 with a stock collapsible  to her small stature and a 30-round magazine containing appropriate home defense ammunition, and nothing larger, if things ever go really badly.

No child should ever be shot by anything, ever. I am aware that it does happen, I have seen it up close and personally. The deliberate, violent, death of children is unconscionable. Caliber does not matter, guns are not the issue, and evil exists in the world. Good men must oppose it at every turn. In my experience, evil men do not give a shit about good men that are unarmed. Gun-up and be a shepherd, not a sheep. If you cannot be a shepherd by vocation, be a black sheep by choice; one that is armed and trained. I am absolutely going to discuss this topic later.

We limit the number of rounds in a deer-rifle for sporting reasons and because the deer don’t shoot back. Criminals and tyrannical governments do. The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting. Enough said.

I am going to address background checks in a future posting. At this point it looks like it may be part 5 or even part 6. I promise you that I will try to answer all of your concerns. You may not care for my answers but I will provide them.

I agree with your buddy, one cannot fix stupid. Living in freedom is messy, annoying, and sometimes dangerous. Free people do unpredictable things at inconvenient times. Sometimes free people do stupid things and others suffer. I still believe that the unpredictability of being free is better than the alternative. More on that later also.

Maybe you misunderstood what I wrote in part three. I never said that I disagree with the idea that some within in the government want to take citizen’s guns. In fact, part four of this series is all about that idea. I said that revolution in the current Unites States should only be discussed soberly and solemnly. I hope that I made the point that it should be discussed. If not, my writing is not as clear as I intended and I need to re-address the subject. The opposition of tyranny is the raison d’etre of the 2nd Amendment.

Your final question is one that I have planned to answer for months. I will get to it in part 5 or 6 of this series. You basically asked: “If we could stop one mass shooting wouldn’t it be worth it.”

The short answer is: NO!

The rights of 315,000,000 Americans to defend their families, lives, and property from criminals and tyranny should not be bartered away based upon the potential actions of madmen.

For what it is worth I agree with you about keeping the wrong people away from guns. Crazy people and guns do not mix. I am not a psychiatrist but I do have extensive experience with people that have psychiatric problems. I have dealt with the medical/legal system and have even had people involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions.  That is not a fun process. I will address this in future posts but I absolutely believe that people with unaddressed mental illness can be dangerous. Conversely, armed and law-abiding citizens are a stabilizing factor within society.

Brian, I appreciate the thoughtful and deliberate way you have posed your concerns. If you feel that I have not adequately addressed your concerns or you have counterpoints please post them and I will share them. I started this blog to have this conversation.

If you are ever in the Colorado Springs area please get in touch. I would love to take you to the range. Ammo is on me.

Gun Control Debate Part Three: The police are here to protect us.

Posted in Firearms, Gun Control Debate, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2013 by blackshepherd

Why do you need to own guns when there are police officers that are paid, trained and equipped to protect us?

Firstly, there is no legal duty for law enforcement to protect individuals. In the Supreme Court decision Castle Rock v. Gonzales (www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/2004/3mer/…/2004-0278.mer.ami.pdf) the court ruled that police do not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm. Let me write that one more time. The police DO NOT have any duty to protect you, as an individual, from injury or death.

Does that mean that they will not? No, the vast majority of law enforcement officers are upstanding and decent members of the community who take their role within society very seriously.  I firmly believe that if a police officer is able to respond to a situation where a citizen is in danger, the majority will do everything in their power, up to and including sacrificing their own life, to aid that citizen. However, one cannot keep a police officer on their belt; they can keep a pistol there. One cannot keep a police officer in their home while they sleep, but they can keep a rifle or shotgun in the bedroom.

Unlike many movie depictions of violence, in the real world it happens suddenly, often with very little warning, and typically ends very quickly. Movie fights, where two men square off and pummel each other for minutes, very rarely happen in the real world. Movie fights in which one man prevails against multiple opponents are also very rare, there are simply too many tactical variables. Real world fights are typically over in a matter of seconds, with at least one of the combatants injured. If they involve any manner of weapons, it is possible to sustain debilitating and life threatening injuries very quickly. Therefore, if one is attacked a series of choices must be made very quickly. Producing a cell-phone and attempting to call the police will be very low on the priority list. If one is able to do so, how long will it take the police to get to your location? A few minutes? Certainly. More than ten minutes? Very probably.  Possibly even longer. It is likely that any violence will be over before law enforcement can respond. The police will arrive to investigate the crime scene, interview witnesses, and write reports. They will likely arrest the person who attacked you. The justice system will likely prosecute the perpetrators, they may even convict them. However, that is poor solace to you or your family if you are the victim of a debilitating injury or dead.

If you are not prepared to defend your life and your family are you worth defending? Are you willing to depend on the capricious mercies of someone who is willing to threaten others with injury or death? Please do not take this to mean that I believe we live in some manner of dystopian society where everyone is in grave danger at any time. However, criminals do walk among us. It is often hard for right-thinking citizens to understand that people who are willing to injure, rob, and kill others for trifles are out there, but they are. This is not paranoia or fear but a simple fact of existence for human beings that live amongst other human beings. If you do not believe me, go to your local police department and ask to read the last three months’ worth of police reports covering violent crimes.

Yet another presupposition inherent to this argument is that police are somehow more qualified to protect citizens than citizens are to protect themselves. Are the police trained to use firearms? Yes they are. However, many police officers are not shooters. They carry weapons on a daily basis but often only shoot required departmental qualifications once or twice a year, if that. Funding for additional training and ammunition often comes out of their own pocket and many are just not interested. There are many diverse skills required of a good police officer and shooting is not high on the list. For the average police officer the ability to read and deal with people without resorting to violence is more important than anything else. For the average citizen the decision to arm themselves is a life changing one, especially for those that choose to legally carry a concealed firearm. Many shoot recreationally and often choose to pay for their own training. This is not to say that every armed citizen is an Army Ranger but many are equally proficient in the defensive use of firearms, or more proficient, than your average law enforcement officer.  I do not believe that just because everyone has the right to carry a gun that they should carry a gun.  Carrying a deadly weapon is, and should be, a serious commitment in time and training. People that carry guns should invest the time to become proficient in their use and more importantly understand their personal abilities and limitations.

Another consideration between the armed citizen and the police is variations within tactical training. The armed civilian can limit their anticipated use of a firearm to immediate defense of themselves and those around them, anything else would be unlawful. This means that the armed civilian can focus their tactical training to a very narrow range of scenarios. Given that limited focus of training it becomes easier for the average person to become proficient with their weapon in a given set of scenarios. The police officer must be trained on a much wider variety of potential scenarios and legal use of force. Law enforcement officers must train for immediate defensive usage of a firearm as well as their other issued weapons. They must also be prepared for encounters outside of the purview of the average citizen such as official encounter that become suddenly violent, or the pursuit of suspects known to be dangerous or armed. This means that a police officer’s training time is varied amongst multiple scenarios and the correct responses to each.

                Many people who believe that police officers are there to protect them have never spoken with an actual police officer, other than receiving a traffic ticket. These people cannot see past the uniform, the badge, and the gun belt; the overt symbols of authority and force.  I guarantee that there is a cop bar in your town. Go there, buy a police officer a drink or two and get them to talk about their job. You will learn more about the world you live in and you will show some respect for the people that are doing their best to guard the flock. Keep in mind that certain questions along the vein of; “have you ever killed/shot/tasered/pepper-sprayed-anyone?” are not acceptable queries for someone you just met. That kind of question will likely result in two courses of action. If the police officer is a nice guy he will tell you increasing outlandish stories to see how much you will believe. Since you have already proven yourself a rube by asking a ridiculous question this will likely go on some time. If the officer is more like my cop buddies, he will likely launch into a sarcasm and profanity laced dressing-down that will ruin your self esteem. If you have never been cussed out by a master this may be worth the price of admission but the long-term damage to your feelings may be too much to bear. This idea is not limited to bars.  Find the local police officer at church, at the gym, at the local firing range, anywhere that you can. Be friendly, be polite, try to learn something. Hey, you might even get yourself out of that next traffic ticket…

For a well-written and insightful view of police work, please see chris hernandez’s series “What Police Work is Really Like” here: http://chrishernandezauthor.com/

So we let you keep your measly “assault rifles, “and “assault magazines.” What are you going to do with a few rifles against a government that has trained soldiers and police armed with automatic weapons, grenades, mortars, rockets, missiles, tanks, fighter aircraft, bombers, drones, battleships, aircraft carriers, and nuclear weapons?

I need to state right up front that I am in no way advocating the violent overthrow of the US Government. One of the quicker ways someone to aggravate me is to discuss such a thing lightly. What we have in America is too good and the idea of war within America too terrible for anything but the most sober of contemplation. Anything less is to do a disservice to all of the generations past and present that have spent their lives in the service of keeping America free. It also makes one sound more than a little detached from reality. However, the respectful discussion surrounding the hypothetical of a tyrannical government is central to the express purpose of the Second Amendment.

There is another side of detachment from reality. Over and over again professors, politicians, news people, and entertainment personalities attempt to throw cold water on the idea that Americans could ever again be forced to take up arms to ensure liberty. Their key arguments seem to revolve around ones very much like the one outlined above, “the government is far too powerful and any armed dissent will be crushed.” The other vein of argument is, “we are far too civilized for those war kinds of things.”

I am going to start with the last argument first; the suggestion that Americans are too well-educated, too aspirational, too well fed and entertained to ever again take up arms in rejection of oppression or tyranny. What wonderful times we live in. Days at the end of history where man has given up greed, jealousy, avarice, and the lust for power. When no man will ever again use his position for gain but only for the good of others. Operation Enduring Freedom must have been the war to end all wars. Once we wrap that one up, we can melt all of our weapons down to make playground equipment and put the military to work in the national parks.

                Wait, where have I read about this pinnacle of civilization before? Oh yeah, history! Right before World War II, right after World War I, before the American Civil War kicked off, after the French and Indian War, probably right before the Mayan and Aztec empires almost disappeared; we are not really sure though, they did not leave many records. Certainly before the Roman Empire fell apart; hell, there was probably some ancient Greek saying that war was over forever right after the Peace of Nicias. That is, until Alcibiades kicked it off again. History is replete with hundreds of examples but I trust that you take my point.

                The idea that mankind has developed to the point that we have overcome the nature of man is naked hubris. As long as people exist, there will be those who will do whatever it takes to be in charge, to have authority, to take more power. To ignore this fact is to ignore the nature of man and the institutions made by man. To pretend otherwise only proves that Americans have been so well protected, that as a population we have disengaged from both history and reality. Because of the effectiveness of both our military and police most citizens never have to worry about protecting themselves from danger. Our society has contracted violence to others. As a result, people are free to hold ridiculous opinions such as: “America is too modern and civilized to ever have a government that would have anything but the citizen’s best interest at heart.” They are also free to talk about how much they support the military and police, just don’t let them get close enough so that we can see the blood on their clothes. If you hold these opinions I hope you never speak them out loud around any of my associates. They will not hurt you on principle but they are going to take your lunch money just to show you where you stand.

                To quote a fiction writer:

“Most civilization is based on cowardice. It’s so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which would lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame.”
― Frank Herbert

I don’t really believe that Americans have become so “civilized,” that we would not take up arms to right serious wrongs. Personally, I hope that I will never become so civilized that I would hesitate to do justified violence in order to defend myself, my family, my friends, and my country. If America as a totality ever does reach that point of “civilization,” then a culture less civilized will come here, hit us in the head with rocks, and we can go to our deaths knowing that we were more civilized than they. The idea that we as people have become so advanced that tyranny can never again take hold is ludicrous.

The more commonly invoked argument involves the federal or state governments using overwhelming force and weaponry to crush any revolution. This is not a new argument. Prior to the American Revolution many were afraid, rightly so, of the might of the British Empire.  To them Patrick Henry said:

“Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Beside, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of Nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”

There are a few pre-suppositions inherent to the idea of overwhelming governmental force. The first is that it would be necessary for an armed citizenry to actively revolt against the government in order to act as a brake on tyranny. Second, that if such a revolt did occur, that the majority of government security forces i.e the military and police, would use lethal force against it. Thirdly, that if security forces did elect to oppose a revolt, that they would be willing or able to use the full force of available weaponry against other Americans.

                Firstly, the knowledge that a citizenry is armed poses a problem for any that would dictate to them. History is replete with examples of sovereigns and governments disarming the populace in furtherance of expanding power over that populace. Politicians moderate their decisions with the full knowledge that if the populace is armed there is a final safety valve for freedom. An old saying goes that freedoms exist in the ballot box, the soap box, and the gun box. The gun box is last for good reason. In the United States a citizen has the opportunity to exercise all of their rights, until they cannot. In his dissent to the Silveria v. Locker decision Ninth Circuit Court Judge Alex Kozinski wrote:

“The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed – where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

I cannot state it any more eloquently than that.

 No right thinking person wants to engage in a war on their own soil, against their own government. Only those who have never seen war can even discuss it without feeling a portion of the profound sadness at the actions that such events would necessitate. No loyal citizen US citizen would even consider such a thing unless they had exhausted all other legal and Constitutional remedies in the pursuit of freedom. However, our forefathers adopted the entire Bill of Rights as an acknowledgement that men are not angels and tyranny does exist in the world. The Bill of Rights must be exercised and preserved as a whole. Each freedom defends the others. However, in extremes sometimes violence is the answer; when it is the answer, there is no other. If the state controls the tools of legitimate violence, firearms, then there is no method of redress.

                                Secondly, to imagine that the military and police would actively deploy force against the American populace is a bold assumption. Even if your average armchair anarchist does not understand the horrors of war, the security infrastructure does. Those in service to the country take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It is their duty to disobey orders that are immoral or un-Constitutional. Many take that oath very seriously and are unlikely to break it.

                There is a worldview that believes the government to be nearly omnipotent. People that hold to this view believe that the military is able to destroy any opponent at will. They believe that the CIA and the NSA are omniscient. Anything that we write on the internet or talk about on the phone is recorded, analyzed, and data-mined. Many times these same people believe that the government will be there to take care of them when the worst happens. What these people fail to understand is that governments, at the molecular level, are made of people. People that make mistakes, people that are bad at their job, people that really want the best for everyone but do not know what that is or how to make it happen. In our example, all of these people are American. Do you really believe that all government employees, or even a majority of government employees are going to engage in repression of the general population? If you do, you are no student of history.

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Finally, assume that the majority of the security infrastructure does believe that it is necessary, for the preservation of the union, to take up arms against their countrymen. Military doctrine would dictate using the minimum force necessary to effect an end to the revolt. It is ineffective to kill or injure non-combatants, especially in your own country. It is not wise to destroy agricultural or urban infrastructure. Reconciliation would be the ultimate goal. All of these points indicate that the use of heavy weapons would be limited to named individuals and limited targets. Without wide usage of heavy weapons, military and police operations would be counter-insurgency similar to what has taken place in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and in Iraq. How did those wars work out for us?

If this sorry state of affairs did come to pass then the security forces of the United States would be dealing with an insurgency that is better armed, and better educated than in any of the three previous examples. History has proven over and over again that American citizens make great soldiers. Check out every American war prior to the institution of the all-volunteer force. Americans naturally take to soldiering. The reason that insurgency was and is the doctrine of choice for our enemies in recent wars is because it is effective. An insurgency negates many of the advantages of high-tech, well trained militaries. All of the weapons and gadgets in the world are worthless if they cannot be directed to the right target. You cannot convince me that the average American is less capable, resourceful, and determined than others that have stymied the full might of the United States.

I don’t want any part of that war, on either side. I don’t think anyone else does either and that is kind of the point.

Gun Control Debate Part Two: What is an assault rifle?

Posted in Firearms, Gun Control Debate with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by blackshepherd

In the last section we asked, “What are reasonable restrictions on firearms?”

The responses look something like this:

Certain types of weapon, like “assault weapons”, should be more restricted, possibly even banned since there is no practical civilian need or use for them.

Handguns and “assault weapons” have no purpose but to kill people and should be banned.

To permit the possession of merciless killing machines shooting 60 bullets per second in our country is un-American.

Civilians have no business owning “assault weapons, military style weapons, weapons of war, or military grade weapons.”

Let’s begin with the legalities of the arguments and go from there. Again from Heller:

“(f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpre­tation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553, nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 264–265, refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes. Pp. 47–54.”

What this says is that the express purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend the right of the individual to maintain arms for militia purposes. To own the same weapons that the average US Army or Marine Corps rifleman carries into combat, i.e an M-4 or M-16 rifle. However, the issue military rifle is select-fire meaning that it can be fired either as a semi-automatic or in either a three-round burst or fully automatic mode depending on the model of the rifle and the military unit that issues it. These weapons are already incredibly expensive for the average citizen to own.

For the uninitiated semi-automatic means that a weapon will fire once when the trigger is squeezed.  The trigger must be released and squeezed again to fire another round. Three-round burst means that the weapon will fire three rounds every time the trigger is squeezed and automatic means that the weapon will fire continuously as long the trigger is squeezed and there is ammunition feeding into the weapon. For legal purposes any weapon that can fire in burst or fully automatic mode is considered an automatic weapon.

For the sake of clarity, assault rifles are defined as: “a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine.” The average American gun owner does not have an assault rifle because of the lack of select fire capability. Also contrary to popular opinion, automatic weapons are not illegal in the US. The National Firearms Acts of 1934 and 1968 impose an excise tax on certain weapons, namely automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles, short- barreled shotguns, and suppressors. For legal purposes a short-barreled rifle is a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches. A short-barreled shotgun is a shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches.  In addition to the excise tax these weapons must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Automatic weapons are not illegal but are prohibitively expensive because the only ones that are transferable must have been manufactured prior to May 19th of 1986. Because the number of legal automatic weapons is artificially static and relatively small they have become extremely expensive. A legally transferable (meaning that one can sell it to someone else) automatic M-16 can sell for between $15,000 and $18,000. A similar rifle manufactured for the military or police costs in-between $600-$1000.

Let’s talk for a moment about rates of fire. Rate of fire is the frequency at which a specific weapon can fire, usually measured in rounds per minute or RPM. Please note, this is a mechanical property that measures how fast a weapon cycles, i.e loads, locks, fires, unlocks and ejects a round. It is in no way a measure of how fast a weapon can be operated because it does not take into account ammunition capacity, aiming the weapon, heat generation, or wear on parts. Rate of fire is not the rate at which a weapon can actually be fired in the same way that the highest number on your car’s speedometer is not how fast it can go. The rate of fire of an automatic M-4 carbine is 700-950 RPM. This leads the ignorant to claim that civilians own rifles that can fire “60 rounds a second.” Ridiculous, it is impossible for a semi-automatic rifle to fire 60 rounds in a second even excluding magazine changes.  A human being cannot pull the trigger that quickly; much less effectively use the rifle while attempting to do so.

The average American shooter typically owns an AR-15 (the AR stands for Armalite by the way, the original manufacturer; it does not stand for assault rifle or automatic rifle) which is a semi-automatic rifle modeled off of the M-16/M-4 series rifle. Folks of a more contrary disposition often own civilian legal AK-47’s or AK-74’s, also semi-automatic rifles. So, AR-15s/AK-47’s and other rifles of similar pattern are not assault rifles or assault weapons because they do not have a select fire capability. They are semi-automatic rifles, period.

Talk about “weapons of war,” is an attempt to elicit an emotional response by people who would likely shit their pants if they found themselves anywhere in the vicinity of an actual war. “Weapons of war,” include automatic weapons, belt-fed machine guns, grenade launchers, and preferably mortars, artillery, and air support; but not semi-automatic rifles. I have carried semi-automatic weapons into very dangerous places without feeling outgunned. However, that is because I was surrounded by people carrying multiple examples of actual “weapons of war.”

Continuing to call weapons that are in common use for lawful purposes “weapons of war, “ is at best willful ignorance and at worst an attempt to appeal to emotions in an effort to infringe upon the rights of the American people.  Some will make the argument that that the term “assault weapon,” is in common usage and is therefore commonly understood. However, words have meaning, especially words that are used to influence and form legislation. Most professionals believe that the term “assault weapon,” is constrained by the definition provided above. Others seem to believe that it means any gun that looks scary. These people literally use cosmetic features to arrive at an arbitrary definition of an assault weapon. Use of correct terminologies puts the debate on an equal footing and avoids miscommunications in any professional and well-informed discussion. Please educate yourself and use the correct terms.

Having said all of that, would I hesitate to carry my personal, semi-automatic AR-15 into a combat zone? No, I would not. I don’t plan on going to those places without several people that know what they are doing and are armed to the teeth. When I say I mean armed to the teeth with actual machine guns and grenade launchers at a minimum. In the United State it is a different story. I cannot keep a policeman in my pocket nor an Infantry squad in my bedroom. In the absence of automatic weapons a semi-automatic version of an M-4/M-16 is the next best thing. That is the point; it is a militia rifle which is the closest available weapon to what is widely issued to the military and to law enforcement agencies. It is the rifle hat the Second Amendment was written for.

The AR design is one of the most popular weapons platforms ever produced for several reasons. It is accurate, modular, adjustable to multiple shooters, easy and fun to shoot, low-recoil, available in multiple calibers, easy to tinker with and repair and relatively inexpensive to purchase. It can be adapted for almost any and all shooting and hunting event. In light of all of these attributes it is also an excellent self-defense tool.  Everyone’s living situation is different but an AR-platform rifle with the right ammunition would be at the top of my list for a home-defense weapon in almost any scenario.

If, as gun-control advocates commonly claim, these guns are only designed to kill people, why are they even issued to the police? The ONLY valid reason for police officers to have any firearm is for the defense of themselves and other law-abiding citizens. This is the same reason that citizens own firearms. Why should the police be able to own weapons that other civilians cannot?

Heller recognizes the right of citizens to own commonly available firearms or firearms in common usage.  Semi-auto firearms have been available to the public for well over a century.  The vast majority of the millions of handguns purchased each year are semi-auto pistols and the vast majority of semi-automatic pistols are designed for magazines holding more than ten rounds.  The AR-15, designed around 20 or 30 round magazines, has been available in gun stores since 1963 and there are now five million or more in private hands. That sounds like common usage. This is as is should be. The government does not have, and should not have, a monopoly on legitimate violence or the tools of that violence.

Guns are just that, tools. They can be used to give a weaker victim a fighting chance against a stronger attacker. It’s called self-defense, and it’s more than a Constitutional right. It is a natural human right. As long as there are people in the world that would use their strength to do evil to others, there is a moral imperative to acknowledge self-defense as a fundamental human right. There is also a moral imperative for individuals to defend their lives and the lives of their family with the most effective means available. To do less would be to defy nature and to endanger yourself and others.

“Assault magazines”, “high capacity magazines”, any magazine that holds more than a certain number of rounds should be banned for possession by average citizens.

Any person that believes that a “clip” is any part of a modern firearm is automatically telling me that they do not know what they are talking about. With only a single modern exception, “clips” are small pieces of metal that hold cartridges in a group to allow them to be loaded into magazines.  The exception is the en-bloc clip for the M1 Garand battle-rifle which is inserted into the rifle holding eight rounds and ejected when those rounds have been fired. Words have meaning, please educate yourself.

A magazine is a device designed to feed ammunition into a firearm. Some are fixed to the weapon and some are detachable. In modern firearms the most common type is the detachable box magazine. This type of magazine typically feeds ammunition in a single column or single stack, or double column, or double stack. There are numerous other types of magazines but most of the current debate seems to be centered on the acceptable capacity of detachable box magazines used in semi-automatic pistols and rifles.

First, a little history. The weapon that is widely acknowledged to be the first actual assault rifle (yes, it is select fire), the Sturmgewehr 44, was first put into production by Nazi Germany in 1944. “Sturmgewehr,” translates as “storm rifle,” or “assault rifle,” which is where the term originated. Its feeding device is a 30-round, detachable, box magazine. The AK-47 was first adopted for use by the Soviets in the early 1950s.  Its feeding device is a 30-round, detachable, box magazine. The M-16 was introduced to the US military in 1963 and became the standard issue service rifle by 1969. It was originally issued with a 20-round, detachable, box magazine.   The first 30-round M-16 magazines were issued to the military in small quantities in 1968-69, although some Special Operations Forces purchased them from the civilian market prior to that. 30 round magazines are currently standard issue to all US military personnel. They are also in standard usage by all federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies that issue the M-4/AR-15 pattern rifle. That means almost every law enforcement agency in the United States.

In case anyone missed my point; what are erroneously being called “high capacity,” or “assault,” magazines are actually standard capacity magazines. These 30 round magazines were designed specifically to go with the weapons they are intended for and have been in common usage for around seventy years. It would be more correct to call any smaller magazine a “low-capacity,” or “sub-standard,” magazine. I will use the term “high capacity,” in italics because it is a bunk term designed to hood-wink the uninformed.

Currently there are a plethora of state and local laws addressing the subject of magazine size. Each law has a different and totally arbitrary “acceptable,” number of rounds that a law-abiding citizen can load into their magazines. Apparently the “common-sense,” number is seven (New York), ten (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts), twelve (Chicago, Illinois) fifteen (Colorado, New Jersey, and Aurora, Illinois), twenty (Maryland), thirty (Ohio) or the intended capacity of the magazine, (every other state in the Union). What is it exactly that makes the eighth, eleventh, thirteenth, sixteenth, twenty-first or thirty first rounds evil? What is it that makes the arbitrary, legally-designated number of rounds, the absolute maximum amount of ammunition that law-abiding people will need for self-defense? What is it that makes any more ammunition an invitation for disaster? Who decided what the right number is? I will bet anyone the mortgage that it was not professionals that use or carry firearms on a daily basis. Virtually all gun control advocates believe that 30 rounds of ammunition are far too many for self-defense, even if they have never had to defend themselves with a gun. This uninformed dogmatism makes is difficult to have a reasonable conversation.

The police typically carry duty pistols and patrol rifles with what many gun control advocates would term “high capacity” magazines. For example, many police departments issue the Glock 17, 9mm pistol as a duty weapon. The standard magazine capacity of the G17 is 17 rounds. (Interestingly enough the designation of the pistol has nothing to do with the magazine capacity but with the number of patents that Gaston Glock had received at the time he invented it.) Almost all police departments also issue some version of the AR-15 as a patrol rifle. The standard magazine capacity of this rifle is 30 rounds, as previously discussed.

There are some simple reasons for this ubiquitous police usage of “high capacity” magazines.  Contrary to popular opinion, guns are not a means to instantly stop a threat. They are not instant death-rays that cause attackers to fly backwards through the air and expire theatrically. Guns are not easy to use; they are just easier to use than every other form of defense. It is easy to miss; even more so under stress. Even with perfect marksmanship, it may take multiple rounds on target to stop someone bent on doing you harm. There is also a distinct possibility that a police officer could be attacked by multiple assailants. This is no less true for the armed citizen. Finally, I have never met anyone who has survived a deadly force encounter and decided that they were carrying way too much ammo. It is always better to have ammo left in the gun than to run dry.

The “high capacity,” magazine debate is also disingenuous for several reasons. Many average people can reload a semi-automatic pistol before you can blink. Combat and tactical reloads are simply a learned skill that takes practice. For someone who is able-bodied speed reloads (for the sake of clarity, combat or slide-lock reloads are when the gun has been emptied, tactical reloads are performed when the gun still has ammunition but there is a lull in the action and the shooter wants to ensure a full magazine) are not that difficult. However, my mother cannot do them. My father, who has arthritis in his hands, cannot do them on a bad day. What if he needs to reload his pistol on a bad day? My grandfather is missing three fingers from one hand. What shall he do? Are we saying that older or physically limited people are less entitled to effective self-defense than the young or able-bodied? That seems to be the antithesis of the American mindset. Those who benefit most from the use of a firearm for self-defense; the old, the infirm, those without the inclination to devote themselves to  martial arts, are the ones most threatened by these arbitrary magazine restrictions.

It is around this point in a typical conversation that someone inevitably says: But what about insert mass shooting here?

I strongly believe in pointing at evil and naming it as such. However, mass-shooters are one of the few times that I will decline to do so. Without exception, every recent perpetrator of a mass shooting has been trying to become famous. I will refuse to accommodate this desire as much as possible. I know the names of recent mass shooters have been broadcast across the world and bandied about the internet but I will not mention them. I will refer to the location of the incident and not the name of the shooter.

Evil finds a way. I believe that if any recent mass-shooter did not have firearms, they would have found another way to murder. A few Molotov cocktails, bombs, poison; evil will find a way. However, recent mass murderers have not used these methods; they have used guns. More correctly, they have generally used several semi-automatic firearms with multiple magazines. There is a duality of firearms that many gun owners have yet to admit or embrace. The same attributes that recommend firearms to the law abiding for self-defense make them suitable for mankind’s most demented purposes.

Could the Sandy Hook shooter have killed so many people without guns? I believe that he could have, but the fact remains that he used guns. He used guns in his attack. The Sandy Hook Shooter used guns to murder innocent people. To get guns he shot his own mother in the face. He then proceeded to kill 26 other people, including six and seven year old children. These are hard facts that cannot and should not be disputed.

What laws can be passed that would prevent this level of criminality? The shooter broke multiple laws in the process of completing his massacre. What further laws could have or would have restrained him? He murdered his own mother and innocent children. What law could possibly give pause to one bent on that level of evil or insanity?

At Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook we see similar patterns: mentally disturbed individuals, who have no record of previous crimes, acquiring weapons and committing mass murders. Motivations are typically desire for fame and retribution for perceived wrongs, but the underlying commonality is mental illness. Some blame the guns used in these attacks for the level of violence. Given the horrific nature of these mass shootings, I understand the visceral reactions of people who are anti-gun. I understand the desire to do something, anything, to prevent further mass murders. However, no reasonable person would claim that mental illness was not the underlying cause of the attacks.  Restrictions on the rights of a free people cannot be enacted because of the actions of the insane. By definition mental illness is a manifestation of abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. The law recognizes that often mentally ill individuals cannot be prosecuted without treatments because they do understand right from wrong or the legal proceedings in the same way that a sane person would. By what logic can one mandate restrictions on the rights of the sane and law-abiding and expect that they will have positive effects on the potential actions of the criminally insane?

Despite the fact that an infinitesimal number of shootings are mass shootings, they receive an inordinate amount of media coverage. Because of the massive media coverage, a mass shooter is the potential deadly-force scenario that many people have built in their own minds. People unfamiliar with firearms discuss unarmed victims being able to disable, disarm, or otherwise stop a mass shooter as they reload. Is it possible to disarm an active shooter while they reload? Yes, it is possible. Am I going to try it? Hell no! There are multiple problems with the imagined scenario that make it tactically unfeasible and potentially suicidal:

How do you know the shooter is reloading?

Are you sticking your head out to look? Not a good idea.

Are you behind cover listening for him (a mass shooter is almost certainly a male) to start reloading? Possible, but the scenario assumes there have already been multiple rounds fired in a small space, your ears are probably ringing. Not easy to hear objects hitting the floor with tinnitus.

Assuming auditory exclusion (look it up, it is real) by the time you hear an empty magazine hitting the floor and start your rush anyone halfway competent has completed a re-load. Now you are rushing into the face of a loaded weapon. Not a good day.

Other points to consider: What if our fictional shooter has more than one gun? That has been the MO more often than not.

A knife? Distinctly possible.

What if he has no other weapons? Are you prepared for a hand to hand fight with someone who has no will to live?

At this point in a highly unlikely, fictional scenario, your options are truly limited: fight and likely get shot, run and likely get shot, hide and likely get shot. I go with plan A no matter how much ammo the guy has in the weapon. What else are you going to do? Hopefully find cover, draw a lawfully carried, concealed weapon and engage the threat. It is a much better option than any of the three previously mentioned. It is interesting how often the same people that advocate unarmed attack of a shooter trying to reload are aghast at the idea of shooting back. They talk about the imagined slaughter of innocents that would instantly occur if someone shot at an armed assailant. Could bystanders be hit by additional gunfire? Yes, we are discussing a situation in which someone is deliberately killing innocents. How is that situation going to get worse by trying to stop them with gunfire? At best you slow them down so that others may escape and die anyway. At best you kill the attacker and no one else dies. If the prospect of killing in the defense of the innocent unnerves you, by all means, try to grab a shooter while he reloads. I want the better option.

At this point people immediately bring up the Tucson shooting, claiming that the shooter was reloading when he was disarmed and subdued by bystanders. This is a half-truth. The Tucson shooter has begun to reload when he dropped his spare magazine. Because the shooting occurred in a crowded, open-air setting during daylight people in the crowd were able to secure the dropped magazine and subsequently subdue the then disarmed attacker. This is a tactical scenario that is a very low-probability occurrence. Would I advocate an armed citizen shooting in this situation? I don’t know, there are too many tactical variables. Location of the shooter vice the armed citizen, number of people behind the target, level of training of the citizen, other tactical options. I know at least one armed citizen in the crown elected not to draw his weapon. That is the kind of responsible decision that is expected of people that carry concealed weapons. What if the attacker had completed his reload and continued to shoot? Because of all the potential variables I cannot honestly say if it would be right to shoot or not shoot in that situation, but I want the option. What I do know is that magazine restrictions do not stop mass shootings or any shooting for that matter. What they do is endanger the law-abiding gun owner.

If legislators are basing sweeping firearms legislation on these extremely unlikely mass-shooter scenarios, then they are living in a fantasy world. Educate yourselves people. If you are convinced that I am wrong about a mass-shooter scenario follow my prescription. Find a local firearms trainer or police officer with access to non-lethal marker weapons and a training area. Set up a scenario giving the unarmed victims every advantage you can imagine. Then try it, see what happens. Run it a couple more times with different scenarios, see what happens. Give the shooter the hardest simulations you can image: a limp, one eye, a gun that jams every other round. See how many unarmed people he “kills,” in your simulation. Then feel free to have an opinion.

The final question is this, “What are you trying to accomplish by limiting magazine capacity?” Proponents of these restrictions tend to ignore the fact that people intent on breaking the law will not be slowed by restrictions on magazine capacity. Magazines are not difficult to manufacture. Anyone that is motivated to do so can construct “high capacity,” magazines if they elect to break the law. So, who are you trying to regulate and why? Citizens need standard size magazines as much as, and for the same reasons, as the police. Magazine restrictions only restrict those willing to obey them, people on the right side of the law.

So you think you should be able to own bazookas and F-16’s?

This is one of the sillier arguments out there. No, I don’t want to own a bazooka or an F-16. Do you have any idea how much it would cost to buy bazooka ammunition or to fuel up an F-16? I don’t either but the phrase, “prohibitively expensive,” comes to mind. As we have already established there are reasonable restrictions on the Second Amendment. Anti-tank weapons and fighter aircraft are well-beyond reasonable, which is what makes the argument so ridiculous. If you are trying to equate magazine-fed rifles with missiles, bombs, and cannons; the armament on an F-16, that argument is the very definition of a false equivalency.

I am just fine with my AR-15. When the military finally buys a better rifle I am going to want that one too.

In the next segment we will discuss the effect that an armed populace has on government and the hypothetical of government break-down and outright war.