What Should the NRA Say?

What is there to say after a tragedy? It’s always difficult to know what to say when some terrible event happens to us or in our nation. Too often, we feel like we have to say something, even if we don’t really understand the situation. This is true of regular folks, politicians, and organizations.  Conversely, there are times when something does need to be said.  In those situations, the right words can be difficult to come by, but are so very important, and silence is deafening. The National Rifle Association (NRA) finds itself in just such a situation following the resolution of the trial of the officer that killed Philando Castile.

As a refresher, here’s a run down of the Castile case.  On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was stopped ostensibly for a broken tail light.  Castile was a 32 year old school cafeteria worker near St. Paul, Minnesota.  He was driving with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four year old daughter.  He was pulled over by St. Anthony’s Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who believed Castile resembled a suspect from a recent robbery.  At some point during the stop, Castile stated that he had a firearm on him.  In spite of Yanez’s orders to not reach for the gun, he felt that Castile was in fact trying to draw his weapon.  As a result, Yanez shot Castile, who died at the scene of his wounds.

As you no doubt remember, Diamond Reynolds, who was riding in the passenger seat, broadcast the aftermath live over Facebook.  I will say that her attitude and actions while watching her boyfriend bleed out were deeply disturbing, but she isn’t the subject of this piece, so we’ll skip her for now. Her video, of course, ignited another series of protests and borderline riots before any facts were known.

The investigation resulted in Officer Yanez being charged with 2nd degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon. He was tried and found not guilty of all charges on June 4, 2017.  Yanez said that Castile was excessively defensive and appeared to be reaching for something on his right side, in spite of being ordered to not move. Like every officer in the age of the cell phone video, Yanez was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion before he was ever formally charged. Since the trial ended, the dash-cam video of the incident has been released.  I’ve watched it several times and it provides little clarity. It shows an officer who is genuinely frightened, but it does not show us if he reacted properly or not.  It seems that he fired very quickly, maybe too quickly, but we have to remember that none of us were there.  Not one of us really knows what happened in that car or what was going on in the officer’s head.

The aftermath of the jury’s decision has been predictable, if somewhat subdued.  Even though not more than a few dozen people saw the presentation of the evidence or heard the testimony during the trial, there are millions of opinions about the outcome.  I’ve been silent on the matter, just because of the above.  I don’t have enough information to really form a solid opinion. I think Yanez reacted too quickly based on what I’ve seen, and I saw no evidence that race played a part in his decision to fire. I could be completely wrong, but that’s how things appear to me.

The largest stream of vitriol I’ve seen is directed at the NRA.  Every Twitter post by the NRA right now is answered by trolls bringing up their lack of response to the verdict.  The general premise of the replies being the NRA and all gun owners should be greatly upset by the decision because Castile had a permit to carry his gun. Do they think a permit is a magical shield which relieves the bearer of all responsibility to follow an officer’s orders? Do they also think the permit itself telepathically communicates its presence to any officer in the vicinity before they are within conversational range? These folks then make yet another incredible leap of logic and declare the NRA has been silent because Castile happens to be black. Frankly, it won’t matter what they say or if they ever say anything.  The same people attacking them for not saying anything would no doubt attack anything they did say. I’m an NRA member and have been for many years, but I don’t know why there has been no formal comment from them. I suspect they feel the jury did its job and actually didn’t find sufficient evidence to convict Yanez, so there isn’t much to add. In the immediate aftermath, they had the good taste to say very little, unlike so many who didn’t let the last shell casing hit the ground before they tried to turn the event into political hay. NRA contributor Colion Noir has been anything but silent, expressing himself eloquently in a video and very personal Facebook post.  I urge you to watch and read Mr. Noir’s contributions regularly.

So what should the NRA say about this situation? I feel it safe to say no one within the NRA has more information than any of the rest of us. Assuming for a second the verdict in this case is just (based on law and evidence, not how we feeeeeeeel about it), I think they should issue a cautionary statement for those of us who carry concealed. They should emphasize the importance of being calm and doing exactly what the officer tells you to do when you encounter law enforcement while armed. Part of our responsibility as gun owners is to do everything we can to prevent something so innocuous as a traffic stop from turning into an armed confrontation.  We owe it to those who protect us to not put them in a position where they feel threatened. At the same time, as citizens, we have an expectation of either walking away or heading downtown in one piece, even if we’re legally armed. I think the NRA should simply express the sympathy many of us feel for Castile and Yanez and remind us all to be safe and responsible gun owners.

In the end, there is nothing which can be said to make this terrible situation better. A young man is dead and another’s life will never be the same. A little girl will have to live with what she saw for the rest of her life. I don’t know if it had to be this way or not, but words won’t fix it.

National Reciprocity Now!

Now is a great time in America for those of us who have chosen to be responsible for the safety of ourselves and our families by carrying a concealed firearm.  As of 2016, there were over 14.5 million citizens with concealed carry permits across the country, an increase of 1.73 million people over the previous year.  In addition, it is now possible to obtain a concealed carry permit in all 50 states, although it is much more difficult in some than others.  Also, there are now 12 states in which no permit is required in order to legally carry a firearm.  All of this in spite of 8 years of an openly hostile administration and never ending lies and intentional ignorance on the part of the leftist press.

One of the issues that still needs to be addressed is the hodgepodge of laws concerning the concealed carrying of a weapon in different states.  Today, states generally fall into one of three categories: no permit required, shall issue, or may issue.  In states where no permit is required, if it is legal for you to possess a handgun, you can carry it.  “Shall issue” states are required to issue a concealed carry permit to every citizen who meets the legal requirements.  “May issue” states restrict the rights of its citizens through the use of high fees, excessive paperwork, long wait times, and requirements for proof of need.  It is possible to obtain a permit in these states, all in the Northeast except for California, but it is difficult.

In an effort to alleviate some of the confusion, many states recognize permits issued by other states through reciprocal agreements.  My Tennessee permit, for instance, makes it legal for me to carry in every state except California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.  Vermont is also listed as not recognizing Tennessee permits, but to their credit, Vermont recognizes no permits as they are a true Constitutional carry state.  Others states should pay attention.  Most states have some similar reciprocity agreement with other states.  That’s great, but imagine traveling across the country and having to figure out where you’re legal and where you’re not.  Those of us who travel for business or make their living on the road have to be very cognizant of where we’re going and which states will be crossed in getting there.  Many of you will remember the 2009 arrest of Brian Aitken, a legal gun owner from Colorado who was arrested after travelling to New Jersey with two unloaded and inaccessible hand guns (along with scary standard capacity magazines and defensive ammunition) buried deep in his car.  Fortunately, his sentence of seven years in prison was commuted in 2010.

With the White House and both houses of the Legislature controlled by those more friendly to personal defense, it is time to remedy the situation by instituting national reciprocity.  The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38) will do just that.  The bill was introduced on January 3, 2017, and currently has 199 co-sponsors.  With the exception of  Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas, every co-sponsor is a Republican (go figure).  Simply put, the bill will require every state currently issuing permits for concealed carry to recognize the permits issued by every other state.  To me, this is simple logic.  What other inalienable right protected by the Constitution varies from state to state?  Imagine if your speech were limited in one state more than another.  What if you could only go to a certain church because of state laws?  Would it be OK for the police to need a warrant to search your property but not that of citizens in a neighboring state?  No, such abuses of Constitutionally protected rights would never be tolerated.  This is precisely what has been done with the Second Amendment and I see no reasonable argument for allowing it to continue.  Yes, I understand that there are limits on even inalienable rights.  In the case of states that limit a citizen’s ability to legally carry a firearm, they are denying them the essence of the right.  This issue was headed to the Supreme Court in the case of Peruta v. California, but SCOTUS, in a move that proves they are no longer capable of impartiality, has just decided not to hear the case because neither side felt assured of winning.  Read that again slowly.

The CCRA is a great start, but it will not end the confusing array of laws governing firearms across the country.  It will not necessarily prevent outrages such as the one which happened to Brian Aitken.  As a gun owner, it will still be incumbent on you to know the laws of the place in which you are travelling.  That will remain part of our responsibility as law-abiding gun owners.  But it will ensure that your right to carry your weapon concealed is protected regardless of what other draconian laws exist in a given state. As such, I fully support the CCRA and I hope you will as well.  Please consider contacting your Representative and urge them to support H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

As always, I thank you for reading!  I hope that you’ll leave your comments on the page and share this post.  You can also find us on Twitter @FrustratedAmer4.




Dads Matter

Today is Father’s Day and I have enjoyed spending it with my wife and daughter.  You just don’t truly understand your capacity for love until you have a child.  Being a parent opens some chamber in your heart not otherwise accessible, and it is a big one.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I found out quickly I had no clue what I was doing. I’m very lucky my wife is an amazing parent and partner, so I don’t have to try and figure all of this out myself.  I think having both parents involved in a child’s life is extremely important.  I also think the role of the father has been greatly diminished in modern society, which is a major problem if you ask me.

Before I go any further, let me say I have nothing but respect for single parents, male and female.  I honestly have no idea how you do it.  In the worst of times, when our daughter was sick and I was nearly sick myself with worry, I had her mom to share my concern.  I can’t imagine having to deal with all of the things coming at me on a daily basis by myself.  So please, do not take anything I’m about to say as any sort of criticism.  I personally think kids are better off with both parents in the home. They need a father who is involved in their daily lives!

The importance of a father’s role has been marginalized in many ways by modern popular culture.  Fathers are too often portrayed as goofy, lazy, stupid, or worthless.  Even when dads are portrayed with a good heart, its often tempered with some sort of craziness.  That’s wrong.  I think the father has a critical role to play in raising well adjusted children, both boys and girls.  How is a young boy supposed to learn how to be a man if he has no guidance from one?  Naturally, there are many versions of what it means to be “a man” and I have my opinion on that, but I won’t venture onto that slippery surface today.  Boys need to know that its OK to be a strong man and to do manly things.  They also need to know it’s OK to show their emotions, and how to treat women as ladies even if they aren’t acting like ladies.

A positive male role model is just as important for girls, if not more so.  A positive male figure teaches young girls how men should behave.  A father should show his daughter how she should be treated by the males she will encounter in her life.  Our relationship with their mom will form the model for their future relationships, for better or worse.  If you aren’t their role model, they’ll find one.  Who do you see on TV or in movies today who you’d want to fill that role?  I sure can’t think of anyone.  Kids pay attention to everything, whether you think they do or not.  They see how you behave and will learn from it.  What they learn then, is up to you.

Dads, don’t let anyone tell you we aren’t important.  We are!  It’s up to us to teach our children the important things we know.  It’s up to us to give them the confidence they need to succeed in the world, to teach them kindness and humility, to be strong, to work hard, and to enjoy life.  Take your kids hunting, fishing, or bowling. Take them to the library, the chess club, the science fair, or the dance recital.  Take your girls to the gun range and take your sons to dance class if that’s where they want to go.  Be there and be involved in whatever they’re doing.  Our kids and our society are counting on us.  I honestly believe a big part of the craziness we deal with today, like the whole ‘which bathroom do I use?’ issue, is due to a lack of proper male role models.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including those of you raising kids by yourself, kids you adopted, kids who came to you through marriage, or kids you’ve just mentored by being there.  Almost any male can father a child, but it takes much more to be a dad!