The Well is Bottomless

How often have you been watching the news or just out in the world and said to yourself, “well, now I’ve seen the most stupid thing possible. It is not possible for anything more stupid than that to occur.”? I’ve said it to myself many times, but I know it isn’t true. The human capacity for being stupid appears to be infinite. The well of stupidity is apparently bottomless. This was made abundantly clear by a recent event here in Tennessee.  Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean.

Last Friday evening (February 2), Andrew Ward, a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officer, met his wife at the Outback Steakhouse in Cleveland, Tennessee, for his dinner break. They were seated and were enjoying a pleasant evening. A short time later, the manager of the restaurant approached Ward and asked him to return his weapon to his vehicle. He replied he could not do that, since he was in uniform and required to carry his service weapon. The manager walked away and made a phone call, before returning to the Ward’s table to let him know Outback was a gun-free establishment and they would have to leave, which they did.  The cause of all this was another patron, sitting at another table with her husband, who claimed she feared she would be shot.  She went so far as to demand the manager escort her to her car so she wasn’t shot in the parking lot.

Let’s look at this more closely;  peel back the layers of stupidity, if you will.  First of all, let’s examine the management of this particular establishment.  When confronted with an obviously baseless complaint, the manager wasn’t smart enough to solve this issue.  He/she chose to harass a uniformed officer rather than offer to seat the complainer elsewhere or apologize, explain Outback’s actual policy, hand her a gift card, and ask her to leave. No, this manager decided the uniformed officer was breaking the restaurant’s gun-free policy (we’ll leave this particular layer of stupid alone for now).  Then, our misguided manager had to call someone else, presumably his/her superior, who was apparently as stupid as their underling, since the result was the officer being asked to leave.  Two good, thick, layers of stupid, right there.

Now we come to the core of the stupidity in this story, the patron who felt the presence of an armed, uniformed, officer virtually guaranteed she would be shot. Really? Did she really think a sworn officer, in uniform having dinner with his wife, was going to shoot her? Maybe she thought the gun was going to hop out of its holster, drag itself over to her table, and open fire.  According to the MSM, it might be possible! If we assume she actually was that frightened, why didn’t she leave immediately?  Also, she apparently thought the manager was willing to take a bullet for her, since she asked him/her to escort her back to her car.  Her husband must be a real winner.

Being the cynical sort, I think her whole story is a load of crap. I think this woman is some sort of anti-gun or anti-police activist trying to make a point.  She was probably elated when Ward walked in the door because it presented her with the opportunity to make a point. I’d love to know this woman’s identity. I’d bet a paycheck her social media feed is full of nonsense from Mom’s Demand Action and MSNBC. She probably has a photo of Shannon Watts on her wall. No reasonable person would believe she was as scared as she claimed, especially of a uniformed officer. No, this was an opportunity to make a scene and try to make a point. It’s just sad she chose a place to do it managed by someone just as stupid as she, creating a perfect storm of stupidity.

I feel bad for Officer Ward and his wife.  They were just trying to enjoy an evening meal together. He did absolutely nothing to deserve this.  Thankfully, someone at Outback figured out how badly they had screwed up and issued an apology and a gift card. He has been gracious about the entire episode and hasn’t pursued it any further.  In fact, his original post about the incident has been removed. As for the patron, she just has to live with herself since there will be no recourse against her. She’d never step foot in my restaurant again, but that’s just me. I’m sure she feels really good about herself, but she can’t be a happy person. Not really. And I can only imagine the hell her husband must endure. People like her should remind us the well is truly bottomless.

Make This Stop!

For those of you who follow our posts, you know I try to advocate for gun safety as much as I can. It drives me crazy to read or hear about incidents where someone is injured by a negligent discharge.  There’s just no reason for it to ever happen. Even more maddening are occasions where children are able to gain access to an unsecured firearm and injure themselves or others. It happened again last week.

On Thursday (2/1/18), a 12-year old girl in California brought a gun to school in her backpack. According to news sources, she dropped the bag and the gun fired. One adult and four students were injured, including one 15-year old boy who was shot in the head.  Thankfully, he is expected to make a full recovery. While I am unclear on how one bullet struck five people, it is possible and not the point.  The point is, she was able to obtain a firearm and get it into her school. It does not appear she intended to do harm, but she did.

The question which keeps coming back to my mind is how in the world was a 12-year old girl able to lay her hands on a handgun?  Obviously, she didn’t go to a gun store and buy it, and I doubt most 12-year olds are well connected with the black market.  I can only assume it belonged to a parent or guardian who left it unsecured in a place where she had access to it.  They had a loaded gun where a child could get it, and didn’t miss it when she did.  Unacceptable.

Friends, as responsible gun owners and parents, we have to do better.  I understand having a firearm within easy reach. I have them in my home, too.  If you have kids in your home, you have think about these things and prevent them from happening. You have to consider how to prevent unauthorized access while allowing adult access in an emergency. It can be difficult, but you just have no choice.  In addition, you need to educate your kids. Teach them to never touch a gun without adult permission.  Take them to the range and let them shoot so there’s no mystery to it. But it’s still on you, the adult, to do your best to prevent anyone from having access to your firearm.

For those of us who carry a gun every day and are around them regularly, it is easy to become complacent. Just this week, I came home and laid my handgun down in a place where I don’t normally put it. Over the course of the evening, I forgot that I hadn’t put it in its usual place.  I didn’t realize my error until the next morning when I went to get it before leaving the house.  It is a bad feeling to look for your gun and not find it where its supposed to be! But it is a reminder we must always be vigilant and to never become complacent when it comes to safety. It’s up to us, responsible gun owners, to be responsible and prevent these incidents from ever happening. We have to make this stop!

I Hate Bullies

I hate bullies.  I always have. The pain inflicted by them was brought into sharp focus recently by the tearful video of young middle school student who had experienced a particularly bad bought of bullying at lunch and left school for the day.  His mother recorded his reaction and posted the video which has gone viral.  The reaction has been widespread and dramatic.  The young victim has been given support from everyone from movie actors to athletes, in spite of some negative comments about his family.  My first response was one of anger and sadness.  I think many of us have at least some idea of how this kid felt. It is a terrible, powerless feeling, one I unfortunately remember.

I was a tall, skinny kid.  When I say skinny, I mean I was 5′ 11″ tall and weighed 115 lbs when I started high school. Like I said, skinny. The problem was I had a 200 pound mouth. Not a good combination. I didn’t go out of my way to find conflict, but I didn’t really have enough sense to avoid it, either.  The end result was numerous negative interactions with larger boys.  Yes, I was bullied. One incident stands out in my memory. We were in the old gym at Line Street School for PE, I presume. I was sitting near the top of the old wooden bleachers for some reason, when a squad of them surrounded me.  Next thing I know, two of them had one of my legs each in hand and I was descending the bleachers involuntarily on my butt.  I’m sure it was hilarious, but I don’t recall thinking it funny. I remember most being so angry because there was just nothing I could do. To this day, nothing infuriates me like being powerless.

It was especially bad during the middle school years, but eased up during junior high and high school as everyone sorted themselves out into social cliques. I was lucky as I became a total band geek and surrounded myself with good friends inside and outside the band. Did what I went through suck?  Sure it did. Should it have happened?  Probably not, but it did.  No, I don’t think anyone should have been suspended or charged or anything else. It was just part of growing up and I have no doubt my thicker than normal hide is largely a result of those days. I don’t hold it against any of those guys. In fact, I can only remember one of them.  OK, I’d gladly punch that guy in the face, but I understand he’s still a flaming butthole and deserves it!

Back then, being bullied was sort of a right of passage, something you almost had to go through.  It toughened us up and prepared us for the bigger bullies who roam the real world.  We were taught to either turn the other cheek or fight back, depending on the situation.  If you did fight back and an actual scuffle ensued, both parties would visit the principal’s office, a note might be sent home, the combatants would be forced to shake hands, and that was it. No one was expelled.  No psychological counseling was necessary.  Law enforcement was not involved.  I’m not saying this was necessarily the proper solution, but that’s the way it was.

Given this experience, I think you can understand why it has been hard for me to understand the current reaction to bullying.  It has blown my mind to see parents filing lawsuits and charges being filed, never mind kids killing themselves or their classmates over it.  But things are different now.  Today, we have the miracle/curse of social media.  Where I could survive a day of middle school and make it home to safety, kids now simply cannot escape it even if they aren’t personally engaged on social media. For some, it just never stops. They’re under constant attack on Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, and whatever other platforms the kids are using these days.  I can’t imagine what that must be like. The other advantage I had was having a stable home, with two parents who loved me. I didn’t have to worry about whose week it was or if one or both would be there when I got home.  I feel for kids today.  I think it’s much more difficult now in a lot of ways than it was then.

So, yeah, I hate bullies.  I can’t stand to see the strong pick on the weak because I’ve been there.  Parents, we have to be aware of these kinds of activities and make sure our kids know they’re safe at home.  We have to give them the tools they need to deal with bullies and the other predators prowling their world. I don’t think its practical to talk about putting an end to bullying. Kids are always going to pick on other kids. Some of the strong will always target some of the weak. I think we can mitigate it by ensuring our children are raised to be empathetic toward others and with an understanding that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. They need to understand there are consequences to their actions, but they shouldn’t fear those consequences if they stand up for themselves or another classmate. I’ve told my daughter repeatedly to avoid conflicts if she can, but if someone puts their hands on her, she is to use whatever means necessary to back the offender up, including knees, elbows, fists, feet, backpack, whatever. She understands she will be “in trouble” at school, but not at home as long as she didn’t start it. I want her to refuse to be a victim.  I hope that attitude will stay with her once she’s past the school-age bullies and dealing with the scarier ones waiting “out there”.