Archive for Gun control

Colorado is Pissed: Part Five

Posted in Colorado, Firearms, freedom with tags , , , , , , on July 20, 2013 by blackshepherd

Three different but inter-related stories are going on. Colorado is still pissed off:

Today is the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. As has become usual in the case of tragedy, the vultures are circling. The Michael Bloomberg sponsored “No More Names,” tour is in Aurora reading names of those killed in “gun violence,” during the last year. Unfortunately for them, their list includes the names of one of the Boston bombing suspects and other criminals legitimately killed by both police and citizens in self-defense situations. The anti-gun rally is expected to garner “dozens,” of supporters. So, at least 24 people. Gun Rights Across America and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners are holding a counter protest.

The fifty-five Colorado sheriffs who filed a lawsuit against Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, concerning recently passed gun laws, are continuing their lawsuit. However, on the 10th of July a federal judge declined to grant a preliminary injunction against the portions of the law concerning magazines that are “readily converted,” to hold more than 15 rounds. The law as originally written would have made any magazine with a removable base plate, virtually all magazines, illegal.

Using a savvy political move, the Governor avoided the injunction by directing the State’s Attorney General, John Suthers, to issue clarifying “technical guidance” concerning the laws. The guidance included a much more restrictive interpretation of what “readily converted,” means. Regulations were also clarified for grandfathered magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Originally, loaning the magazines was only permissible as long as the borrower stayed within “continuous physical presence” of the owner. Under the new guidance that is no longer necessary.

Both sides of the debate are claiming victory. The Sheriffs by celebrating the favorable clarification of restrictions. The anti-gun legislators by touting the lack of injunction against their laws as tacit approval. Personally I believe that both the Sheriffs and the people of Colorado would have been better served by an injunction against these immoral laws. However, the Sheriffs are continuing their lawsuit in federal court by challenging the constitutionality of these laws.

Links: Colorado Sheriff’s position paper

In better news, the Governor set Sept. 10 as the date for the state’s first-ever legislative recall election after a judge rejected a lawsuit aimed at stopping the recalls of two anti-gun state legislators, Senate President John Morse and State Senator Angela Giron. Denver District Court Chief Justice Robert Hyatt ruled that the recall may proceed.  He stated that the right of citizens to recall officeholders outweighed the technical objections to the petitions brought by the constituents and lawyers of Morse and Giron. The recall election is going to attract an inordinate amount of out of state attention and money. Things are going to stay interesting in Colorado.

Gun Control Debate: Part Seven- The Ridiculous

Posted in Concealed Carry, Firearms, Gun Control Debate with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by blackshepherd

I just don’t like guns.

That is OK, it is absolutely your right not to like firearms. My problem with “I don’t like guns,” is not what people say, but what they mean. Think about the last time that you heard someone say this. What was their body language? Typically they put their hands out in front of them as if to ward off a foul smell and make a face like they have just seen a rat on the kitchen floor. When the sentence “I don’t like guns” comes out of someone’s mouth what they often mean is: “I am afraid of guns and find them objectionable.” Or “None of my friends own guns and I don’t understand why anyone would want or need a gun.” or “The thought of having an armed stranger near me scares me.” These attitudes are OK too, except for the fact that they are often based on nothing more than ignorance and fear. Many people who have these attitudes have no experience with firearms other than what they see on TV, in movies, or on the nightly news. Others may have had a negative experience with guns, or gun owners, in the past and have never gotten past it.

 It has been my experience that many people in the “I don’t like guns,” camp are highly educated. The kind of people that will lecture others about the negative aspects of emotion on the decision making process. Often these are people that would not allow ignorance to color their attitudes in regard to any other aspect of their life. They would never presume to judge someone based on race, gender, sexuality, or age. However, when you ask them why they don’t like guns you typically get a well thought out and rational response like, “I just don’t like them!” From that point, it is a short step to describing gun owners as ignorant bumpkins or bloodthirsty paranoids.

If this describes you, shame on you. You owe it to yourself and your fellow citizens to do better. Educate yourself! Walking around with an irrational fear of an inanimate object is no way for a thinking adult to go through life. Find a reputable instructor or knowledgeable family friend and learn about the things that you claim not to like. You do not have to become a gun owner or lifelong shooter but you will learn something about yourself in the process. At a minimum, your opinions will no longer be colored by ignorance. You will no longer have to form your opinions and cast your votes about a fundamental right bereft of facts. Have the intellectual honesty to admit ignorance and do something about it; educate yourself.

Here are some good places to get started:

Guns are fetish objects.

Anti-gun individuals are fond of tossing this argument around because it sounds vaguely indecent and has connotations of deviant sexual behavior. Many of them are seemingly unaware of what the word “fetish” actually means and that it applies to them far more than to individuals who have actual experience with guns.

Fetishism is the attribution of inherent value or power to an object.  A fetish object is something believed to have supernatural or extraordinary powers, specifically power over other people, animals, or objects.

I occasionally admonish fellow gun owners because some do fail to keep in mind that a gun is a tool. A gun is not a magic wand that can be waved to make bad guys go away and it is not a totem or lucky charm whose presence makes you immune from danger. One must have the competence, expertise, judgment, and willingness to use a firearm correctly in order for it to function as intended. Just owning or carrying a gun will not make you intrinsically safer. Even expertise with firearms is not an ironclad guarantee against crime or tyranny. However, it is much preferred to the alternatives, ignorance and dependence.

My occasional soapbox moments with fellow gun owners are typically just a gentle reminder to train harder and smarter. Gun owners as a whole are well aware of the responsibilities and lifestyle changes that they have assumed by providing for their own defense. They know that potentially life-threatening situations are not something to entertain lightly and they have thought long and hard about the mental, financial, legal, and moral implications and repercussions of such an encounter. For them guns are tools, not fetish.

It is actually gun-control advocates who view guns as fetish objects. They imbue inanimate objects with all manner of evil intent and capability. They often claim that good, rational people will become blood thirsty killers because they have access to firearms. Simply look at the hysterical opposition to concealed carry laws. Anti-gun debaters will claim that if law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry guns then public spaces will turn into the Wild West. They imagine a dystopian de-evolution of society where citizens shoot one another in arguments over parking spaces. This is not reality. Good people do not change their character because they are armed. There is no malevolent spirit residing in firearms. They are simple machines. Gun-control advocates are the real believers in firearms as fetish objects because they blame inanimate objects for violence instead of people.

I leave this argument with the words of the immortal Col. Jeff Cooper:

“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”


Gun owners are compensating for small penises.

I almost refused to acknowledge this particular argument but it is fairly pervasive, in certain circles. It is usually the snarky final response of a gun-control advocate who is losing an argument based upon logic and reason. As infantile and stupid as this argument is, some people seem to actually believe it. Interestingly enough, those that subscribe to this particular fallacy rarely have the cojones to say it to someone’s face. So who is actually compensating?

My AR-15 is surely not a phallic symbol, if it were it would surely be a much larger caliber. My carry pistol is certainly not a compensation for my penis. If it were, I would have selected something with more than a 3” barrel. So where is the basis for this argument?

If you believe that gun owners carry firearms to compensate for small genitals please get in touch with me. We will go the range, shoot some guns and talk about real world experiences. After all that, if you still think gun owners are compensating I will be happy to take the Pepsi challenge.

Early 1980's U.S. 12 oz. "Pepsi Challenge...

Early 1980’s U.S. 12 oz. “Pepsi Challenge” promotional can, plus promotional button given for partaking in the challenge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gun Control Debate Part Five: Background checks for everyone

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2013 by blackshepherd

Universal background checks or a national gun registry would infringe upon no one’s rights.

Mandatory background checks seem to be the in-vogue panacea to eliminate gun crimes. How can anyone be opposed to anything that is as attractively worded as a “universal background check?” However, to ensure that the conversation is on an equal footing, we need to talk about what background checks actually are and what they do. Through my (decidedly un-scientific) studies, it appears that an alarmingly large portion of the population believes that gun buyers undergo no kind of background check. An almost as alarmingly large portion of the population believes that everyone undergoes a background check before buying a firearm. As is usual when discussing almost anything, ignorance is our real enemy. We absolutely need to know what the background check system is, and what it is not, before we can discuss its merits and drawbacks. This portion is informational and is a little bit dry. However, if we do not know what it means when someone says “background check” how can have a reasonable debate about it? Tough your way through it.

What is a background check and what does it actually check for?

When a US citizen goes to a registered gun dealer or Federal Firearms License Holder (FFL) to buy a firearm, they must go through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS. (Generally speaking, some states have slightly different procedures) NICS is a system to determine if a prospective gun buyer is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under the Gun Control Act of 1968. NICS was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and initiated by the FBI on November 30, 1998. A prospective firearms purchaser must show identification indicating that they are residents of the state in which they are purchasing the gun. Identification is also used as proof of age; it is illegal for gun dealers to sell long-guns (shotguns and rifles) to anyone under 18, or handguns to anyone under 21. The prospective buyer is then required to fill out a form 4473. This form requires a copy of a government-issued photo ID, the name, address, date of birth, and the NICS transaction number of the prospective buyer, social security number is optional. Form 4473 also includes the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, or firearms, being purchased, and a federal affidavit stating that the purchaser is eligible to purchase firearms under federal law. Lying on this form is a felony and can be punished by up to five years in prison, in addition to fines, even if no firearms transaction takes place.

Following completion of the Form 4473 the FFL places a phone call to one of three NICS call centers around the country, in Fort Worth, Texas, Barbourville, Kentucky, or Wheeling, West Virginia. The FFL transmits the information from the form 4473 to contracted employees working in the respective call center. A name and descriptive information search is then conducted using three national databases. These databases are the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which contains information on wanted persons and active protection orders; the Interstate Identification Index (III), which contains records of criminal history records; and the NICS Index which contains records not available in the NCIC or the III pertaining to persons determined to be prohibited from receiving firearms under federal or state law.  These specific prohibitions apply to anyone who:

 18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (1)
Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (2)
Is a fugitive from justice

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (3)
Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (4)
Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (5)
Is an alien illegally or unlaw-fully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa.

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (6)
Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (7)
Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (8)
Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner

18, U.S.C. §922 (g) (9)
Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

18, U.S.C. §922 (n)
Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year

If no prohibiting records are found pertaining to the prospective buyer then the firearms transfer proceeds. If the search matches prohibiting records to the buyer then the FFL does not complete the sell. Typically this manner of NICS check takes anywhere from five minutes to an hour to complete, depending on volume of sells at the time of the check. However, if a prospective buyer is flagged by a document in the system, the call is transferred to an FBI center in Clarksburg, West Virginia. An FBI legal examiner then searches the records system to determine if the sell can proceed. If the search takes more than three business days then the sale can go through. If it is later determined that the sale was fraudulent then the BATF has the responsibility to recover the firearm(s) from the sale.

Once Form 4473 is completed and the transaction approved, the FFL holder must retain records of the form in a “bound-book” or transaction log. An FFL must keep a copy of all completed form 4473’s in the “bound book” for at least 20 years in the case of completed sales, and for 5 years when the sale was denied by NICS.  The FFL is required to surrender the log to the BATF upon retirement from the firearms business. The BATF is allowed to inspect or request any copy of the Form 4473’s from any dealer during the course of a criminal investigation. Form 4473’s are given the same status as a tax return under the Privacy Act of 1974 and cannot be disclosed by the government to private parties, or other government officials, except in accordance with the Privacy Act. In addition, the sale of two or more handguns to one person within a five-day period must be reported to ATF on Form 3310.4. This form is worth a look if you have never seen it. Basically, buying two handguns within a five day period will get you reported to the BATF and your local chief of law enforcement. Draw your own conclusions.

If a person purchases a firearm from a private individual who is not a licensed dealer, the purchaser is not required to complete a Form 4473, though some states require individual sellers to sell through dealers, in which case the FFL procedures apply. In either case, it is illegal to sell a firearm if the seller knows, or has a reasonable belief, that the buyer is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm.

OK, so we know what the NICS system does, and how it operates. Does it work?

Yes and no. The NICS system works as it was designed. However, there are major flaws in the system and it is certainly not the answer to abolishing gun crime

One of the major issues with the NICS system is the massive lack of record keeping, especially when it comes to mental health and drug use. Over a decade and a half after it became operational, NICS is still a patchwork system that relies on woefully incomplete information. This is due to the fact that most states submit very few records to the system, and in some cases, none. Failure to submit these records facilitated the purchase of firearms by the shooters in Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Aurora. The “NICS Improvement Amendments Act” of 2008, provided federal grants in order to help states improve their ability to maintain records and provide them to NICS. Congress authorized $875 million to improve the system but since passage of the bill, only about $50 million has been appropriated. Published reports indicate that two dozen states have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the system; multiple federal agencies have also failed to provide records.

Another issue is lack of enforcement for existing laws. The DOJ barely prosecutes background check fraud. In 2010, 74,142 people were denied transfer of a firearm through NICS. Only 44 of those people were prosecuted and just 13 convicted of lying on their form 4473. The DOJ has yet to explain this lack of enforcement of existing laws. No one knows if it is manpower or funding issue. One would think that for people who claim to want to reduce gun crime, prosecuting NICS fraud would be a good place to start.

So, the current background check system is not great. Does that mean that we should stop using it?

Absolutely not, in fact information that the state and federal governments already have, like records of who is a felon, should be added to NICS as quickly and efficiently as possible. Those that have been adjudicated as mentally ill should not have access to firearms. However, the government does not need, and should not have, access to the medical records of the average citizen. The NICS system should be repaired and streamlined but it is not a panacea for gun crime.

A better use of resources would involve relentless pursuit and harsh prosecution of violent felonies involving guns. We know that criminals attain and use firearms. Make them pay for it. The majority of people denied through the NICS are felons, people with active restraining orders, or fugitives from justice. When one of these people lies on a form 4473, have the police show up and arrest them. The police will know right where they are, go and pick them up!

So why not have “universal” background checks?

In the minds of those that support expanded background check laws, the government should be able to able to immediately ascertain if a prospective gun buyer has any legal or mental issues that would preclude them from purchasing or possessing a firearm. This is just not possible. To make this a reality, the government would have to maintain a data base covering legal and mental health records covering every citizen of the US. Should the government have the authority to access the medical records of everyone in the country? I think not, the implications of such a violation of personal privacy are mind numbing. That level of intrusion would certainly be a violation of everyone’s rights. When there is an idea that is so abysmal that the ACLU and NRA agree on how bad it is, that is a real achievement. Universal background checks have reached this pinnacle of success. ACLU and NRA

When the government fails to enforce current laws why are they in a hurry to pass new ones? The Vice President of the United States allegedly said:

“Regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.”

Then why do you want to pass new laws? The words “political grandstand,” come to mind. What does it say to citizens who do their best to comply with the law when the government cannot be bothered to prosecute those who violate it? Do you believe that your average criminal goes down to the local gun shop, fills out the form to complete a background check, pays MSRP for a gun, and then uses it in the commission of a crime? The idea is ludicrous.

If you believe, as many media outlets claim, that a firearm can be purchased on the internet, I recommend that you try it. Ditto for exploiting the gun-show “loophole.” What is referred to as a “loophole,” is a personal sale between two citizens, unregulated by the government. This sale does not have to occur at a gun-show, it can take place anywhere. As mentioned above, it is still illegal to sell a gun to anyone that you know is prohibited from possessing it. Most folks are pretty leery of the people whom they sell guns, because most citizens are law-abiding. That is obviously not a fool proof method for ensuring that a gun buyer is not a criminal but neither is a NICS check.  The best solution is to provide incentives for voluntary checks. Gun owners do not want to sell firearms to criminals and would not hesitate to use a system that did not require record keeping. The effects on crime would be very small but similar to the effects of a mandatory FFL transfer. This solution would also allay much of the expense inherent to an expansion of the NICS system and likely increase participation in the program. (It is an interesting aside that many of those most passionate about expanding the requirement for background checks on firearms, are also vehemently opposed to requiring a valid ID be presented prior to someone casting a ballot. I am not making a value judgement but someone please explain that one to me, I just can’t follow the logic.)

One of the huge problems with mandating the use of the NICS system for private sales is that the law would be unenforceable without a national firearms registry. There is simply no way to know if someone sold a gun “off of the books,” without a registration and registration is not something that any student of history can support.  A national gun registry is absolutely a precursor to gun confiscation. A national gun registry does not contribute to the security of the law-abiding and is a role call for citizens that will be targeted for prosecution once currently legal weapons are made illegal. I don’t need to cite any totalitarian historical examples like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Take a look at California and New York. As these states make registration mandatory they are changing the classes of firearm that are legal to own. California is in the process of making every semi-automatic rifle illegal, despite the fact that these weapons are clearly “in common usage,” making them protected by the Supreme Court’s Heller decision. Take a look at Great Britain and Australia. In both countries registration has clearly led to confiscation. Registration is not an acceptable course of action in America.

Who would gun registration target? In Haynes v. US, the Supreme Court ruled that a felon cannot be found guilty of a crime for not registering an unlawful firearm, because it would be a violation of Fifth Amendment rights. Consider the possibilities of a law that requires the registration of firearms. A convicted felon cannot be convicted for failing to register an illegal firearm but a citizen that legally owns a gun, and fails to register it, will become a convicted felon. Proponents of a national firearms registry; who are you trying to punish and who are you trying to restrain, criminals or citizens?

Take a look at the sordid history of Prohibition in America. From the 18th Amendment to the “War on Drugs,” criminals will find a way to get prohibited items to the people that are willing to pay for them. Hence, universality of background checks cannot be achieved. At this point in the argument, someone with a mouthful of snark typically demands, “Should we just get rid of laws against assault, rape, and murder, since they don’t keep people from committing crimes either???”

No dumbass. The background check requirement is intended as a prophylaxis, a preventative measure to keep guns out of the hands of those that are prohibited from possessing them. The laws covering murder, assault, rape, etc. are in place to enforce the apprehension, prosecution, and punishment of those who have already committed a crime. The only practical reasoning for the expansion of background checks is to keep firearms away from those who are most likely to use them in the commission of a crime. These are the people most likely to acquire guns outside of a legal background check system.

I am trying very hard to stay away from statistics on this site; I am a shooter, not a statistician. However, politicians keep claiming that “90%” of Americans support expanded background checks. Where are these people? Is the 10% of the population that does not want these laws only in Colorado Springs? Either that fact is a really interesting statistical anomaly, bearing further study, or people making this claim are full of pre-digested, organic, materials. I have yet to talk to anyone in person who is in favor of new background check laws. I work in a strange place with some strange people so I guess anything is possible though. Someone get on here and tell me I am wrong.

At this point in the conversation someone usually gasps, “But we have to do something!” Look, if someone is on fire, they can run in circles, flapping their arms and screaming until they immolate; or they can stop, drop and roll, thus extinguishing the flames. Both are “doing something.” One option is effective, immediate, and improves the situation; the other is just a panic-induced waste of time.  I have made some effective suggestions above, but I do not have all of the answers. There are some good ideas out there. Rehashing the same tired programs that have demonstrably failed (Virginia Tech, Tucson, and Aurora) just because they are the government control, party-line, is not the answer. Show Americans an idea that will reduce gun crime, without infringing upon their rights, and they will get behind it one-hundred percent.

So, universal background checks would either be an infringement upon freedoms, or expensive and ineffective at the intended purpose, keeping guns from the hands of criminals. The final opposition to universal background checks comes down to trust. Those that are advocating for expansion of background checks have proven, time and time again, that they are not to be trusted.  They have stated, over and over, that background check expansions are “just the beginning.” Advocates for “gun control” have repeatedly demonstrated a desire to totally disarm the American populace. They have displayed a need to infringe upon the rights of others to the utmost limits of political will; as I discussed in Part Four. Those that would disarm the populace, truly believe that they know better than the American people, history, and the founding fathers of the United States. They believe that the Constitution is outdated, elastic, and an impediment to “progress.” Those on the side of liberty would be wise to judge proposed legislation based upon its efficacy and not emotional reaction. They would be wise to judge those proposing legislation by their private speech and acts, not their public rhetoric.  Anyone who values any of the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, would be wise to oppose those whose heart’s desire is to infringe upon those rights.

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’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:

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


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.


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 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.


Massachusetts has put forth “An Act To Strengthen and Enhance Firearms Laws in the Commonwealth.

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?


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.

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:


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.


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.

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.


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.


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:

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 (…/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:

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.


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.