Archive for philosophy

Black Sheep

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

This is a wolf:


Except for the fact that he is not a wolf;


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

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

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

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

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

The wolves are human predators and prey on others:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

The responses look something like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you know the shooter is reloading?

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

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

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

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

A knife? Distinctly possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAGPUL Magazines Leave Colorado

Posted in Colorado, Firearms with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2013 by blackshepherd
English: Great Seal of the State of Colorado

English: Great Seal of the State of Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Magpul posted on their Facebook page that they are now making their magazines outside of Colorado for the first time. I am glad that Magpul followed through on their promise to leave Colorado in the face of reactionary restrictions on law-abiding citizens. I hope the loss of this great company will be a wake-up call to the anti-gun legislators in the Colorado State legislature. It will probably not.

Keep in mind that Magpul is a company that has solidly supported the military, law enforcement, and American firearms owners from its inception. It continued to support Coloradans with the “Boulder Airlift.” A program to get 30-round magazines into the hands of Colorado residents prior to the magazine capacity restrictions going into effect. Now they are voting with their feet and wallet in order to continue supporting the Second Amendment. This is an American Company that makes great kit for good people. But not in Colorado anymore.

There are a lot of angry Colorado residents outside of the Denver area. Many are baffled as to how these restrictions were even entertained, much less passed, in a state with the individualism and libertarianism that Colorado used to embody. Now jobs and money are leaving the state. The 2014 elections here are going to be interesting.

Check out the Magpul website if only for the great photos and quotes:

Gun Control Debate Part One: Where is your militia?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by blackshepherd

In the following posts I have highlighted typical arguments from gun-control advocates in green text. I did not make these up, they are verbatim from personal conversations or cut and pasted from internet comments.What I believe to be reasonable responses to these arguments are below them. In light of what I have written so far this will probably become at least a five part series.

Please feel free to point out errors in my logic or disagreements with my conclusions. I want to emphasize throughout that education is the cure to ignorance. The only evil in ignorance is not rectifying it. If anything that I write strikes up some cognitive dissonance please look inward and find the source of discomfort. These are your birthrights people, learn what they mean.


So you’ve got “Second Amendment” rights? Where’s the rest of your militia?

The right to bear arms is predicated on the necessity of a well-regulated militia.  We keep arms in a well-regulated militia i.e. law enforcement, and the National Guard.

Let’s start with the actual text of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Much debate about the meaning of the amendment seems to derive from the comma following the first clause. I will refer to the Supreme Court decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller available here: 

“The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.

(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederal-ists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

If you would like to argue the academic faculties and research capabilities of the Supreme Court that is your prerogative. However, I think it is fairly straightforward. The 2008 Heller v. Washington DC decision reaffirmed that the right to bear arms was an individual right. The 2010 McDonald v. Chicago decision reaffirmed that decision and made clear that it applies to every state, every city and every town in the United States. The militia refers to every citizen of the United States of America. Not the National Guard, not the Reserves, not any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency.

So there you go, fairly straightforward.

When the Constitution was written there were only one-shot guns and rifles with a three-minute time to reload.

The authors of the Constitution had no inkling of the possibilities of advanced weaponry such as automatic weapons and multiple round magazines.

To limit the Second Amendment to muzzle-loading weapons would be the equivalent of limiting the First Amendment to writings produced by quill pens and hand-cranked printing presses. No internet, television, newspapers, radio or any other form of mass communication would be protected. By all means neo-Luddites, pull your soapbox out onto the street corner and start spreading the word.  It is clear that the Bill of Rights applies to modern technologies.

In addition the premises of this argument are faulty. The great majority of volunteers involved in the American Revolution were armed with weapons which were the cutting edge of technology. The guns were often superior to what the British regulars were armed with. They were desperately short of bayonets which did turn the tide in several battles, especially early in the revolution. However, if you think it took a man whose livelihood or life depended on his weapons three minutes to load his rifle then you need to do some additional research.

I suggest starting here:

Anyway, since when is the Constitution written in stone? The Constitution has been changed dozens of times since 1787. They call those things at the end “amendments” for a reason. We’ve made changes in the right to vote, the right to own slaves, the right to buy and sell alcohol.

If, as gun control advocates claim, gun control laws really do control guns and save lives, there is nothing to prevent repealing the Second Amendment, any more than there was anything to prevent repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that created Prohibition.

If one truly believes that gun ownership is evil, your only ethical course of action is to remove the 2nd amendment altogether. And there is a reason that altering amendments is very, very difficult to do. But hey, if the vast majority of Americans believe as you claim then you should have no problem voting out the 2nd amendment. Good luck! In the meantime stop trying to legislate away the rights you don’t care for in a piecemeal manner.

You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

 You have the right to practice your religion, but not if your religion involves human sacrifice. You have the right to free speech, but you can still be prosecuted for incitement or conspiracy, and you can be sued for libel.

What they are trying to say is: All rights come with responsibilities and limitations.

They are correct, every right is subject to limitation when it begins to threaten others, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that even though there is an individual right to gun ownership, the government can put reasonable restrictions on that right.

Again from Heller:

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

        Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, con­cealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fire­arms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

So, the argument begins to become, “what are reasonable restrictions on arms?”

To be explored in the next section.



Gun Control Debate: Intro

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2013 by blackshepherd

I am writing the following as a response to the current media and political climate that is breathlessly demanding a “reasonable debate,” about” common sense,” restrictions on firearms. Frankly, I am tired of the ignorance, fear, and outright cupidity that seems to pervade the current discussion. The problem has become that I am unable to find anyone to have a reasonable or common sense conversation with. Many of my associates already agree with my stance on weapons and the role of the armed citizen within a republic. Many others, that may find themselves on the fence, have been brought around to my way of thinking with simple conversation and a few trips to the firing range. I do not know anyone that is firmly anti-gun or that even seems to agree with many of the current gun restrictions that are being debated at the federal and state level.

If one takes to the internet they are quickly beset with name calling and message board, one-line, shouting matches. Many of these un-reasonable arguments are fraught with fear, misinformation, and downright ignorance. As a result I have tried to compile as many firearms related arguments as I can and discuss them in reasonable manner i.e using reason. I have attempted to avoid statistics on the whole. Many statistics are quoted on both sides of the gun control discussion. The result is typically an argument about the methods of information collection, processing or analysis. I am not a statistician so I am staying away from numbers. I want to have a clear discussion in simple language about an issue central to all Americans. The result is an attempt to better clarify my own thinking, educate and elevate the discussion, and maybe learn something in the process. Hopefully, some will realize that they need to learn more about the subject to justify their opinions and political leanings. To that end I will extend an open invitation to anyone that is willing to learn. See the “Training,” tab of this blog.

Right at the outset I want to make my own opinion known. As a professional, I have spent the largest portion of my adult life earning my living with firearms. I have never shot an IPSC, IDPA, or three-gun match. However, I have repeatedly bet my life on my training and proficiency with firearms. More importantly, I have bet my life on the training and proficiency of the men around me and in turn taken responsibility for their safety. I believe that guns are not talismans, totems, or sacred objects. They are weapons made by mankind for the purpose of serving mankind. As such they are imbued with no will or thought. Firearms are neither good nor evil; they are as good or evil as the intentions of the people that wield them. At worst they are tools of oppression, totalitarianism, destruction and murder. At best they are tools of liberation, freedom, equality, and defense of the innocent.

For modern man firearms are a measure of defensive ability previously known only to the skilled warrior classes of the pre-industrial age. The right gun with the right training can negate disparities in size, strength, age, sex and numbers. This equalization of force is the ultimate in egalitarianism, feminism, and libertarianism.

Read on in future posts to explore the counter-arguments and responses to them…

Common Sense

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by blackshepherd

I don’t know who writes the talking points in Washington D. C. but they must be getting paid well. One cannot open a newspaper, traverse the internet, or turn on a television without hearing a politician or lobbyist using the phrase “common sense,” in reference to some aspect of proposed gun control legislation.

Well, as my grandmother always says, “Common sense ain’t that common.” Here are a few things that common sense dictates to me:

Criminals don’t do background checks; neither do crazy people.

Criminals and crazy people don’t care if they are breaking the law because they are either criminals or crazy.

The law-abiding are just that, law-abiding, leave us alone.

If you think that peaceful citizen’s guns are dangerous to you- you are either a criminal, crazy, or possibly a politician.

If you are a criminal, crazy, or a politician, we hope citizen’s guns do give you pause.

If you work in the entertainment industry no one cares what you think. Shut up and make us laugh clown. Seriously, I don’t take life advice from court jesters.

If someone is broke from buying guns and ammo then they are not the ones that criminals want to rob.

Your opinion has no effect on natural rights, take it elsewhere.

Your emotions have no effect on natural rights; tell it to someone who gets paid to hear it.

A decision based on emotion is not a decision; it is a reaction.

If you are old, disabled, or a woman you do not win physical fights with the people that commit crimes; get a gun and learn how to use it.

If you are a man, you are responsible for all of the people listed above; get a gun and learn how to use it.

Politicians and lobbyist that have never fired a gun have no business telling us about guns.

Politicians and lobbyist that have never had to defend themselves with a gun have no business telling us how to do so.

People with paid security, who have guns, have no business telling us about guns.

If you have a concealed carry permit for personal protection but do not believe that the great unwashed should, move to Europe.

If you claim to be a firearms expert but don’t know that magazines can be re-used;  Or think that a barrel shroud is the “shoulder thing that goes up;” you have no business calling yourself an expert.

If you don’t know the difference between semi-automatic and automatic weapons it is time to educate yourself.

If you think that a “clip” is any part of a modern firearm; educate yourself first, then consider having an opinion, or not.

If you think pissing yourself is rape avoidance, I pray that you never have to test the theory.

If you think that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “assault rifle,” do some research.

If you think that an AR-15 is a bullet spraying, demon possessed, instant death machine; get thee to the range.

If you think you understand guns because you have seen a lot of movies you probably also think you can ride a horse, win a fist fight or fly an airplane for the same reason; go pay someone to train you.

If you think that they were called “Minutemen” because that is how long it took to them to load their rifles; go read a goddamn book.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting. The American Revolutionaries and framers of the Constitution had just defeated the might of the British Empire; they were not worried about being tyrannized by herds of whitetail deer.

If you think that the government has your best interest at heart; go talk to a combat veteran

In fact, if you have never talked to a combat veteran; talk to a combat veteran

If you think that the government cannot break down in an instant; talk to someone that was in New Orleans when Katrina hit.

If you think that the US government will not tyrannize citizens, talk to the ancestors of the Five Civilized Tribes, or the Bonus Army; talk to the Nisei, or the Freedom Marchers.

Other people are keeping you safe; they have guns.

If you have never been involved in a physical assault; hug the nearest police officer, buy the nearest veteran a drink, and then shut the fuck up.

Anti-gun proponents seem to be either stupid or lying, the last time that I checked the Ivy League was not graduating a lot of stupid people; draw your own conclusions.

Politicians of any stripe have no business telling us what we do or do not “need” in relation to anything; fuck off!