Everything You Need to Know About the AR-15…

… but will never hear from the media. The level of ignorance surrounding this particular firearm is proudly broadcast on a daily basis. The claims of it’s power, lethality, and evil intent know no bounds. Listening to descriptions of the AR-15, one would think there are thousands of them wandering around on their own, shooting people at random with an endless stream of giant, hyper-velocity, super bullets. Never mind the fact more people are killed by fists, feet, and other blunt objects than by every kind of rifle combined. In response to the continuous ignorant stories and posts, I’ve decided to provide a simple, factual, description of the AR-15. Think of it as sort of a public service.

The Development of the AR-15

The Armalite Corporation was incorporated as part of Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Corporation in 1954 with George Sullivan as Manager. Fairchild manufactured aircraft and parts for the US military, so the intent of Armalite was to design firearms for military purposes. Shortly after opening his small shop, Sullivan hired a young engineer named Eugene Stoner as his Chief Design Engineer. Armalite’s first successful design was the AR-5, a unique take-down rifle designed to be used by aircrews in survival situations. The rifle was chambered in .22 Hornet and was equipped with a floating stock in which the barreled action could be stowed. The AR-5 was adopted by the military in 1954. A civilian version chambered in .22 Long Rifle, the AR-7, was released shortly thereafter. This design is still manufactured by Henry. Note that the AR in the names of these firearms clearly stands for Armalite Rifle, not “Assault Rifle” as so many ignorant journalists seem to believe.

The search began for the replacement for the venerable M-1 Garand in 1955. In its day, the Garand was an unequaled infantry weapon. But it was heavy and limited to 8 rounds of ammunition, so military commanders felt a replacement was needed. In response to the call, Stoner designed a light-weight gas-operated firearm chambered in 7.62 NATO. Dubbed the AR-10, it was futuristic with its pistol grip, straight composite stock, and carry handle. Armalite was late getting their entry ready, and were forced to use their hand-built prototype for the military trials. Although reviews were generally favorable, the rifle failed during endurance testing. Springfield Armory’s T-44 was selected, becoming the M-14 in 1957. Armalite sold the rights to manufacture the AR-10 to a few foreign customers, but only a few were manufactured.

Shortly after the M-14 was adopted, the US Air Force began looking for a lighter rifle in a smaller caliber. Stoner reduced the size of the AR-10 to accommodate the newly developed .223 Remington cartridge and the AR-15 was born. Without the capability to manufacture firearms in sufficient numbers, Armalite sold the manufacturing rights to the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt in 1959. The first military order for the AR-15 was placed by the USAF in 1961, the same year Stoner was hired by Colt. The initial order of 8,500 units was followed by one for 80,000 in 1963. The official military designation of the AR-15 was M-16. As the US involvement in Southeast Asia grew, it became apparent American troops were outgunned by Communist forces equipped with AK-47s. Difficulties with the M-14 in the field and in manufacturing lead to the adoption of the M-16 by all four branches of the military by 1965.

Approximately 300,000 M-16s were sent to Southeast Asia with no cleaning kits as Colt claimed the rifle was self-cleaning. This claim was quickly proven to be false by Vietnamese humidity and severe powder fouling caused by poor ammunition. In the field, the rifles were found to be prone to failures to extract a fired case once they became dirty. Reports of soldiers found dead with their M-16 partially disassembled became common. Improvements to the rifle were made, resulting in the M-16A1, along with improvements to the ammunition. Cleaning kits with clear instructions for maintaining the rifles were also issued.

Colt manufactured a semi-automatic version of the AR-15 for the civilian market, but it was used primarily for competitive shooting. They hold the trademark for the name “AR-15”, but this style of rifle has come to be known as an AR-15, much like a copying machine is often referred to as a Xeorox machine.  The first AR-15s manufactured specifically for the civilian market were made by Lewis Machine and Tool in 1989. Production of civilian AR-15s was curtailed by the infamous Clinton-era Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994. The ban was allowed to expire in 2004 after having no effect on crime. Since then, the AR-15 has become one of the most commercially successful firearms in history. They are produced in a myriad of configurations by every major firearms manufacturer except Glock. It is estimated there are as many as 10 million AR-15s owned by American citizens today.


Although the M-16 was born out of the AR-15 and the two are cosmetically very similar, they are not the same firearm. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle operated by the direct impingement of gases from the fired cartridge. In other words, gases are bled from the burning powder in the barrel of the gun to cycle the action. They are fed from a detachable box magazine, most of which contain either 20 or 30 rounds. They are typically equipped with a composite stock, some sort of hand guard over the barrel, and a pistol grip. The pistol grip is necessary due to the geometry of the stock. It does not make the gun fire faster. They can be had with the carry handle on top of the receiver like the M-16, where the sites are mounted on the handle and on a triangular post on top of the gas block. Most now come equipped with detachable sites mounted on a section of rail directly on the receiver. The variability of stocks, hand guards, grips, and sighting apparatus is nearly limitless. AR-15s generally come with either a flash-hider or compensator on the end of the barrel. These items divert the gases exiting the barrel to either reduce the flash caused by escaping gas or to prevent the barrel from rising during recoil. They do not make the gun more powerful or enable it to be fired more quickly.

An important thing to understand here is the semi-automatic part of this. This means it fires one round every time the trigger is pulled. Just one. There is no such thing as “fully semi-automatic”. It will not fire thousands of rounds a minute. None of that is true. It will only fire as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. It is not possible for anyone without a machine shop to convert a modern AR-15 into an automatic weapon. They are manufactured in such a way as to prevent that particular modification. Some older models could be converted fairly simply, but this is no longer the case. Even if you could convert it, the moving parts are not meant for the automatic rate of fire and will fail.

Let’s talk about magazines. If you state the AR-15 uses a “XX-round clip”, you are showing your ignorance. The AR-15 does not use a clip. The M-1 Garand used an en bloc clip, a sheet metal contrivance which held the cartridges and was inserted into the rifle’s action and ejected after firing. Some military ammunition is placed on a long sheet metal stripper clip, which aids in loading some rifles or their magazines. If you expect any knowledgeable gun person to pay any attention to you at all, do not use the word clip when referring to a magazine.  The standard magazine for the AR-15 holds either 20 or 30 rounds depending on the caliber, although those holding anywhere from 5 to 100 rounds are available. The larger magazines are heavy, unwieldy, and less reliable than the standard 30 round magazines, and are less common. Five round magazines must be used in most states when hunting.

The AR-15 was originally chambered for the .223 Remington cartridge. The military uses the same cartridge in the guise of the 5.56 NATO round. The military round operates at a higher pressure, so .223 ammunition is safe to use in all AR-15s chambered in 5.56, but the opposite is not true. The .223 is a moderate power rifle round. It is not anywhere near the upper part of the power spectrum. It fires a small, light, projectile at relatively high velocity, which makes it effective at close ranges. It is not a death ray. It does not cause worse injuries than any other cartridge known to man. In fact, there is still debate whether or not it is suitable for military use. The .223 is available commercially using bullets weighing from 40 to 80 grains typically, although there are others beyond that range.

For comparative purposes, let’s have a look at the .223 Remington compared to the 30-06 Springfield, one of the most popular hunting calibers in the US. The M-1 Garand was chambered for the 30-06. The table below provides the velocity and energy of both cartridges. The .223 data is based on a 55-grain bullet, while the 30-06 is based on a 165 grain bullet. The velocity is measured in feet per second, while energy is measured in foot-pounds. While the .223 is faster than the 30-06 at the muzzle, it quickly looses this advantage as the range increases. At 200 yards, the 30-06 is faster. The key statistic, however, is energy. This is the force with which the projectile impacts the target at the specified range. At the muzzle, the 30-06 has over twice the energy of the .223. In fact, the energy of the 30-06 doesn’t dip below the energy of the .223 at the muzzle until 500 yards. The point of this being, any discussion of the awesome power of the .223 is ignorant. It is an effective cartridge within its intended parameters, but it is far from being exceptionally high-powered.


Why the AR-15 is Popular

The AR-15 is unquestionably the most popular rifle being produced at the moment. There are many reasons for its popularity. No other rifle matches the AR-15 for versatility and modularity. The construction of the rifle in separate assemblies lends itself to being customized by its owners. Almost every part of an AR can be swapped for another by anyone with even a slight amount of mechanical ability. There is a huge market in receivers, bolt carrier groups, frames, and barrels. The owner can buy a stock AR and change it up however he/she wants, or they can buy all the parts separately and build their own. If the market for the major parts is huge, it is nothing compared to the market for accessories and furniture. The choices of stocks, pistol grips, and hand guards are nearly limitless. Other accessories, including sights, lasers, lights, scopes, flash hiders, and compensators, are too numerous to even attempt listing. The ability of the shooter to tailor the rifle to his or her purpose is likely the most popular characteristic of the AR.

The AR is a highly versatile rifle, largely due to its modularity. Few rifles can fill as many roles as adequately. With the correct combination of parts, it can work well as a hunting rifle, as a target rifle, as a competition rifle, as a defensive weapon, and just as a fun gun to shoot. The AR is easy to operate with a small amount of instruction. The recoil is very mild, which makes the AR an excellent choice for those with a smaller physical frame. They are inherently accurate, which, combined with the mild recoil, makes the AR a good choice for introducing new shooters to center fire rifles.  There is much to like about the AR-15, but it isn’t for everyone. Without a suppressor, they are extremely loud. They are relatively complex mechanically and must be cleaned and maintained properly to function reliably. Most people are more than capable of handling either issue.

So, there you have it. A brief, factual account of the AR-15. If all you know about the AR is what you’ve been told by the news media, most of this will be new to you. If you have any questions about any of this or if there are things I didn’t touch on, please feel free to ask. If you know someone who owns one, ask to go try it. It will not hurt you to pull the trigger and you just might learn something. It is much harder to fear something you understand. I promise you won’t be traumatized. If you are, that’s on you! If you still hate the AR after reading this and believe it to be an instrument of evil, at least now you can sound a little less ignorant.

Grow Up!

A story broke this week which has really gotten to me. It has no direct affect on my life, but it is really aggravating and indicative of a societal problem.

Here’s the story. Leyla Pirnie is a graduate student at Harvard. She is from Alabama and completed undergraduate studies in International Relations and Political Science. She was born to American parents in Turkey and is 24 years old. She is also a legal gun owner.

After a recent weekend away, Ms. Pirnie returned to her apartment to be confronted by her roommates. While she was away, her roommates took it upon themselves to search her room, including her closet, her dresser, and under her bed. When she asked the other women why they had done this, they told her they, “saw that you had a MAGA hat and come on, you’re from Alabama… so we just kind of assumed that you had something“. By something, they meant a firearm, which they found. When she asked why they felt it necessary to go prowling through her personal possessions rather than just ask her, one of them told her, “fear took over her body and she felt compelled to search my room until she found proof”.

As if this weren’t bad enough, and surely, it is, the roommates reported their find to David Lewis, their landlord. Mr. Lewis proceeded to contact the Somerville (Massachusetts) Police Department and request they come to the apartment to inspect the firearms to make sure they were legal. All was found to be in order. Regardless, Mr. Lewis informed Ms. Pirnie that she would have to remove the firearms from the premises, or her roommates would leave.  If they left, she would have been responsible for the entire $6,000 per month rent (That must be one hell of an apartment!). She refused to dispose of her legally owned personal property and had to move.

At this point, let me summarize. Six women with no personal relationship with Ms. Pirnie other than sharing an apartment with her, entered her private room without permission, rummaged through her personal property, reported what they found to their landlord, who summoned the police to inspect said property. All without the owner’s knowledge. If you are OK with this scenario, please stop reading here and click over to Huffington Post or Mother Jones and go in peace. If your blood pressure just spiked, proceed.

There is no evidence Ms. Pirnie caused any sort of discomfort for her roommates. She stated she did not discuss her political views with them at all. She never had her firearms out around her roommates and owned them legally. The other women had no reason to fear Ms. Pirnie or her firearms, as they obviously didn’t even know she had them until they searched her room. For now, let’s ignore the obvious violations of Ms. Pirnie’s rights. Let’s ignore the profiling and discrimination to which she has been subjected. A discussion of those topics would require a separate post.

I keep coming back to the fact these supposedly adult, educated, women didn’t have the maturity to simply talk to her about their concerns, whether those concerns were well founded or not. Once they found her guns, they ran to the landlord, who then didn’t have the maturity to question how the roommates came by their knowledge of the presence of the firearms, but got law enforcement involved instead. If anyone had bothered to ask, they would have learned Ms. Pirnie survived a physically abusive relationship and kept firearms for protection. I guess #metoo doesn’t apply to  women who have elected to protect themselves.

Come on, people! Grow up! A grown man called in the police because a tenant owned a gun? The responding officer should have at least given Lewis a stern lecture for wasting his time. It would almost be understandable if Ms. Pirnie had threatened her roommates or behaved in some irresponsible manner. There is no evidence this happened. No, this whole thing is the result of the media’s constant attempts to instill fear of gun owners into their audience. The people involved in this story lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to see the foolishness of their reaction. They are the result of leftist efforts to criminalize thoughts and beliefs which differ from theirs. This is what happens when universities don’t allow speakers of differing opinions to appear on campus. This is what happens when there are safe spaces. If we truly want people to get along, this has to stop. People have to be allowed to grow up.


Flawed Red Flag Laws

Someone is pounding on your door.

It’s dark and you glance at your clock as you are startled awake. It’s 5 am. No one whom you want to see knocks on your door at 5 am, so you pull your gun from the nightstand drawer before going to the door. You look outside and see police officers standing there. With no idea why they’re knocking on your door at 5 am, you lay your gun aside and open the door. They tell you they have an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) against you and are there to take your guns away, guns which you own legally.

This exact exact scenario played out recently in Glen Burnie, Maryland, when Anne Arundel County police officers attempted to serve an ERPO against 61 year-old Gary J. Willis. It appears Mr. Willis was placed in this position by a family member following a disagreement, although no details were available. He answered his door at 5:17 am to find two officers there to confiscate his firearms. Although he initially put his gun down, he picked it up again as he became irate at the officers and was killed during a struggle for the gun. He made a tragic, emotional decision and it cost him his life.

Mr. Willis should have never been in this position. Neither should have the LEOs. Mr. Willis is a victim of a new gun control tactic being put in place across the nation. So called “red flag laws” are now in place in 13 states, including the usual places where the 2nd Amendment doesn’t apply and crime rates are highest. While they vary somewhat in their mechanics, they follow a general model. A concerned family member or law enforcement officer can request a court order, an ERPO in the case of Maryland, which allows for the temporary removal of firearms from the subject of the order. Supposedly, these laws are intended to prevent a person who has exhibited behavior or made statements indicating they are a threat to themselves or others. The subject of the order can petition the court to have their firearms returned to them after the fact.

What is the biggest problem with red flag laws? There is no due process for the subject of the order until after the order has been executed. In other words, the subject has no recourse until after the police have entered his home and confiscated his property. This idea should send a chill down every American’s spine. Imagine if you have an argument with a family member. Whether you make any sort of threat or not, or behave in a violent manner or not, said family member could approach the court and have your property confiscated. How long will it be before any “concerned citizen” can have an ERPO issued? How long will it be, then, before your neighbor who hates guns/gun owners sees you loading a rifle case in your vehicle and has an ERPO issued? If you don’t think that’s possible, you’re fooling yourself.

No one wants people who are truly unstable or pose a danger to themselves and others to armed. But red flag laws are not the answer. The word of one person against another should not be sufficient to allow the state to so clearly violate the constitutional rights of a citizen. This lack of due process is simply not acceptable. Red flag laws put citizens and LEOs in danger as we have just seen in Maryland. I don’t blame the officers in Mr. Willis’s death. As I said, he made a bad decision and the officers apparently responded appropriately. But it was all unnecessary. The police never should have been there in the first place, at least not with the intent of taking his property. Once again, leftist laws touted as protecting us from “gun violence” (as apposed to any other sort of violence) do nothing but violate our rights and in fact, make us less safe.


Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Fake News and Junk Science on Guns

As my wife and daughter started preparing to return to school, we had several conversations about school safety and what to do in the case of a shooter. My wife sat through training sessions on the school’s plan in the case of a shooter and how to stop the bleeding in case of a gunshot wound. My daughter expressed concern about what she should do if it happened. In the meantime, I’m thinking, “How on earth have we come to a place where one of their leading concerns for the year is staying safe?”. It is incredible to me that our schools have lost their status as a safe place for students and teachers. I never worried about being harmed at school, other than if I shot off my mouth to a teacher or one of our offensive lineman. It seems our students and teachers are now in danger.

But are they really? After some thought, I reminded them they are as safe at school as they are anywhere else, and probably more so. At times, it seems like the news is filled with nothing but stories about school shootings. But this is likely the exception and not the rule. This seemed intuitive to me. I’ve actually heard it said there are fewer school shootings now than at any time in modern history, but had never seen any actual statistics. In fact, recently released statistics indicated I was wrong.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released its 2015-2016 Civil Rights Data Collection, School Climate and Safety report (CRDC), which includes data gathered via survey from every public school district in the U.S. According to the report, the CRDC:

…is a survey of all public schools and school districts in the United States. The CRDC measures student access to courses, programs, staff, and resources that impact education equity and opportunity for students. The CRDC has long provided critical information used by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in its enforcement and monitoring activities.

In addition, the CRDC is a valuable resource for other federal agencies, policy makers, researchers, educators, school officials, parents, students, and other members of the public who seek data on student equity and opportunity.

The CRDC gathered data from 17,337 school districts, represented by 96,360 schools and 50.6 million students. The data is gathered via surveys which all public schools are required to complete. This also means the quality of the data is dependent on the individual school and the staff member tasked with completing it. Keep that in mind. The 2015-2016 survey for the first time included a question concerning the number of shootings which had taken place within the school district. Surprisingly, 235 schools reported at least one school-related shooting. That’s a big number. It’s only 0.2% of the total number of schools, but its still a big number. The problem is, it’s wrong.

What? A government study, wrong? Yes, friends, it is wrong. And not just a little wrong. It is WAY wrong. On August 27, 2018, National Public Radio (NPR) published an article by Anya Kamentez entitled The School Shootings that Weren’twhich examined the results of the CRDC. What Kamentez found were serious errors with the data. To their credit, (and my ever-lasting amazement) NPR attempted to verify the results by contacting the schools which responded as having experienced a school shooting. Of the 235 schools which indicated they had a shooting, 161 of them told Kamentez there had been no shooting. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District reported 37 shootings for the survey period, when in fact, there had been none. There had been 37 incidents of “possession of a knife or a firearm”, data which should have been on the line above the line concerning shootings. They put the number on the wrong line. Likewise, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District reported four school shootings. When contacted by NPR, no one could remember there ever having been a shooting at one of their schools.

There are many more examples given in the article and I encourage you to read it. It seems the errors were the result of poorly worded questions, a poorly structured survey, and simple mistakes. In the end, NPR was able to verify 11 school shootings. As a comparison, Everytown for Gun Safety listed 29 school shootings for the same period. However, only eight of those were the same schools verified by NPR. Eight or 11, either one is far less than the 235 reported by the government. The only large market media outlet to report on this discrepancy, other than NPR, was the Washington Post. Nothing on any of the network news outlets or cable channels. I suppose reporting a number over 21 times higher than what it should be on something so important doesn’t rate a place in the news cycle. It makes better television to saturate the airwaves with fear every time one does happen. I’m just glad I was correct in telling my girls they’re safe at school.

A similar story on mass shootings broke to zero media coverage on August 30. No politician with a ‘D’ after their name worth their salt has missed the opportunity to let us know how “mass shootings happen in the US more often than anywhere else” and “the majority of mass shootings happen here”.  Much of this is an outright lie told to further the anti-gun agenda, but some is the result of a study conducted by Dr. Adam Lankford, professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama (insert jokes here). Lankford’s study, entitled Public Mass Shooters and Firearms: A Cross-National Study of 171 Countries was published in the journal Violence and Victims in 2016. The results of the study showed 31 percent of the mass shooters who killed four or more victims between 1966 and 2012 were located in the US. Lankford claimed a direct correlation between the rate of civilian gun ownership and that of mass shooters.

A quick perusal of Lankford’s article reveals three obvious problems or biases very quickly. At the end of the introduction, he claims the study is based on “quantitative analysis of all known public mass shooters who attacked anywhere on the globe from 1966 to 2012 and killed a minimum of four victims (N=292).”. In 56 years, there have only been 292 mass shooters world-wide? Really? This seems extremely low with only a small amount of thought. We’ll return to this issue later. Lankford’s bias on this topic becomes clear as the article continues. In providing context for the study, he discusses “American Exceptionalism” and “American Gun Culture”.  Under “American Exceptionalism”, Lankford states, ” Americans have historically enjoyed high levels of political freedom, but they have also struggled with high rates of violence, crime, and incarceration”, and “American individualism may be a great quality for entrepreneurship and innovation, but it may contribute to criminally deviant behaviors as well.”.

Lankford’s true colors are truly revealed in his discussion of “American Gun Culture”. After acknowledging American gun ownership allowed our victory over the British in the Revolutionary War, he wrote, “Less positive may be the fact that, according to a comparative study of 178 countries, the United States ranks first in gun ownership, with approximately 270 million firearms owned by civilians and a rate of 88.8 firearms per 100 people”. I fail to see how this is “less positive”. It all becomes crystal clear when he quotes noted authority on guns, Barak Obama.

In addition, the widespread availability of firearms in America may be contributing to the nation’s public mass shooting problem. As the president of the United States recently suggested,

We have historically respected gun rights. I respect gun rights. But the idea that, for example, we couldn’t even get a background check bill in . . . so you can’t just walk up to a store and buy a semiautomatic weapon—it makes no sense . . . We kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than anyplace else. Well, what’s the difference? The difference is that these guys can stack up a bunch of ammunition in their houses. 

And there you have it. The problem here is not the quote itself, which should surprise no one. The problem is Lankford presents it as fact.

The problems with Lankford’s study go deeper than just bias, but I believe they result from them. On August 20, 2018, Dr. John R. Lott, III, of the Crime Prevention Research Center released his response. In an article entitled How a Botched Study Fooled the World About the US Share of Mass ShootingsLott attempted to replicate Lankford’s study and identified numerous methodological problems and failures in the interpretation of the data. One major concern was with Lankford’s unwillingness to share his data. He shared it with the New York Times, who published an article on the study (along with numerous other papers and news outlets), complete with graphics of their own creation. Lankford refused to provide Lott with his data. When he approached the New York Times for the data, they told him Lankford asked them not to share it. This is very suspicious and goes against scientific scholarship.

The only source of statistics on mass shootings Lankford cited was the New York City Police Department’s 2012 Active Shooter report. This report relied on news stories from English language sources on mass shootings, introducing an instant bias against international cases. Lankford claimed to follow the same procedures in attempting to gather data as NYPD. In addition, Lankford reported on the number of shooters, rather than the number of cases. Lott found some cases of mass shooting were committed by up to 10 shooters. Reporting the number of shooters rather than cases served to inflate the numbers. Lankford also reported on the raw number of shooters rather than the rate of occurrence per the population of a given country, which is a major error in methodology. I doubt it was an error – it is enough of an elementary-level flaw to suggest it was done on purpose in support of his obvious bias.

Lott’s study relied on the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, supplemented by controlled internet searches using a variety of search terms. Looking at the period from 1998 to 2012, about 1/3 of the period examined by Lankford, Lott was able to identify 1,448cases of mass shootings world-wide committed by 3,081 shooters. This number is likely too low, given the lack of reporting from third world countries and those where the media is closely controlled by the government. As it is, this is 15 times more shooters in a 15 year period than reported by Lankford for his entire study period. The 43 cases which occurred in the US accounted for 2.88 percent of the attacks and 1.43 percent of the shooters world-wide. The population of the US accounts for 4.6 percent of the global population.

Aren’t both of the studies I’ve discussed here good news? Isn’t it a good thing school shootings and mass shootings aren’t as frequent in this country as we’ve been told? I think so. The question, then, is why hasn’t the media had anything to say about either study? I believe people would like to know it’s safe to take their children to school or to attend a concert. The sad truth is it doesn’t fit the agenda. It doesn’t strengthen the case being made for gun control by leftists and their puppets in the infotainment industry. They rely on the fear they peddle to convince people it is “common sense” to give up their freedom in the name of safety. When these things do happen, they make sure to run stories on it continuously for several days to make it seem as if they are a common occurrence. Every study which seems to reinforce this idea is widely reported, whether it’s based on junk science or out-right lies. The true danger in this is the continued focus on guns and guns owners and not on the cultural and social issues which cause mass murder to occur. I agree even one such incident is too many. I believe the one positive in all of this is a renewed focus on security, situational awareness, and personal responsibility. But we shouldn’t live in a state of fear fueled by fake news and junk science. Until the press remembers they have a duty to report factual information, whether it furthers their editorial agenda or not, it will be up to us to question everything these people tell us.

Yes, You ARE Coming for Our Guns

We don’t want to take away your guns. We just want common sense gun control laws. We support the Second Amendment, but no one needs military style weapons and no one needs more than 10 rounds in a magazine.

We hear these things all the time from the gun control crowd.  It’s a constant, never-changing refrain. I think most of them actually believe they don’t want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.  More and more are openly supporting bans and confiscation, but many still deny it.  They claim to be moderate in their views and only interested in public safety.  Logic dictates otherwise, however.

Join me, if you will, on a logical journey down the path of “common sense gun control”.  We’ll start with the assumptions which dictate the course our journey will take.  Statistics clearly indicate there is no correlation between levels of gun ownership and an increase in violent crime.  In fact, the opposite is true, a fact which has been proven over and over.  Therefore, we will assume no reduction in crime will occur based on any of the actions proposed by the gun control advocates. Based on this assumption, we will further assume they will never pay attention to this fact and will continue to advocate for more and more restrictions.  If you don’t believe they’re capable of blindly following their agenda in the face of direct contradictory evidence, look at what’s happening in London right now. Keep those tenets in mind.

Let’s pretend they get a win and manage to reinstate the magazine ban, which accomplished nothing during the Clinton administration.  Since no drop in crime will occur, they’ll keep pushing for more. Now it’s illegal to buy an AR-15 or any other scary looking rifle.  No drop in crime occurs, so on we go.  Next it’s semiautomatic handguns. Then it’s all semiautomatic guns.  Then it’s all handguns.  Still no drop in crime.  In fact, it increases.  Finally, with nothing left to regulate the sale thereof, their only option is to start banning ownership of ARs, handguns, etc.  A few sheep will actually turn theirs in, but most of us will not.  Suddenly, there will be newly minted felons in this country numbering in the scores of millions. This means law enforcement officers will have to come into the homes of private citizens, search their residence, and confiscate their personal property. And since guns are not registered, they won’t know who has them and who doesn’t, which means they’ll have to go into every single home.  Every single home in this nation. This, of course, assumes there are any law enforcement officers willing to put on their jack boots and go through with it.  As violent crime rages across this country at a rate never seen in modern times, they’ll look at each other and wonder what else the government can do to solve the problem.

If the image of police knocking on your door and searching your house even though you’ve done nothing wrong doesn’t give you chills, you’re the problem.  I don’t mean to be overly negative or to present a sky-is-falling argument. But what I’ve presented is the logical progression based on what we have seen and what we know. We’re seeing this play out now, as more and more people are openly calling for the Second Amendment to be repealed. At least they’re finally being honest about it. I know many people truly believe it is possible to regulate specific types of guns without violating the Second Amendment. They honestly think an increased level of safety can be achieved by simply regulating magazines or types of firearms.  When this proves to be false, they’ll honestly believe a little more regulation will make us safer.  Then a little more.  In the end, they will be coming for our guns.  Logic dictates it.



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!

Bump the Bump Fire Bill!

We knew it was coming. It was inevitable. The same old calls for additional gun control would be made. I get it. I hope to never turn on the news and see another story like Las Vegas. I understand the urge to “do something”. But that something needs to actually accomplish the goal, not serve as a means to another end. Doing “something” should include knowledge, thought, logic, and an understanding of how it will affect the citizens of this country. Once it became known the Las Vegas shooter had used “assault rifles” modified by something called a “bump fire stock”, the focus shifted and the knees began to jerk. Now, the usual suspects are yelling for them to be outlawed. Unfortunately, the usual suspects have allies on the other side of the aisle this time.

Before October 1, very few people had ever heard of a bump fire stock, much less knew what it does. This is probably because few people own them and one had never been used in commission of a crime until that day. I was aware of them, but I’m a gun guy. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with them, a bump fire stock is an accessory which replaces the regular stock and pistol grip on a semi-automatic rifle, such as an AR-15 or AK-47. The stock simply facilitates the bump fire technique, where the shooter pushes the rifle with the support hand while pulling with the shooting hand. After the first shot, the shooter leaves the finger lightly on the trigger, and uses the recoil impulse to “bump” the trigger, firing the gun again. This allows for a semi-automatic rifle to be fired more rapidly than normal. If used properly, a rate of fire similar to that of an automatic rifle can be achieved.

The NRA took the lead by calling for the BATFE to review the status of bump fire stocks and similar devices. This same agency approved the sale of them only a few years ago. It is the purview of the BATFE to classify items like bump fire stocks in terms of the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act. Their determination in 2010 was that bump fire stocks were accessories, not firearms as defined by either act. Therefore, they are legal for purchase without a background check or paying a tax. The wisdom of this decision is certainly debatable. In my opinion, they are good for little but burning through ammunition more quickly than usual. I have no problem with burning through ammunition quickly, but I’m not looking for a contrivance to make it easier!

Rather than allow the BATFE to review their decision, members of Congress have decided to introduce legislation to ban bump fire stocks and similar devices. In the House, Representatives Carlos Curbelo (R) of Florida and Seth Moulton (D) of Massachusetts introduced the so-called “Bump Fire Bill” (HR 3999), while (not surprisingly) Senator Diane I-don’t-know-a-damn-thing-about-guns-but-I-want-them-banned Feinstein introduced the companion “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act” (S.1916) in the Senate. The important language in each bill is nearly identical, although the Senate bill does actually mention bump fire devices while the House version does not. Here is the meat of the House bill:

“…to manufacture, possess, or transfer any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun…”

Seems innocuous enough, until you start asking yourself, “what does it mean?”. How legislation effects us lowly worker bees is largely dependent on how the law is interpreted. I submit to you this bill is open to some very dangerous interpretations.  Let’s look at it more closely.

“…to manufacture, possess, or transfer…”  I’ll start here. The key word in this sentence is “possess”.  If these bills pass, it will be illegal for you to possess one of these items. The Senate version allows for the newly created criminals to turn them in within 180 days. What if someone decides not to hand theirs over? Are the police going to be allowed to go into the homes of people suspected of being in possession of such a device and search for it? I doubt it. So, exactly how will this be enforceable? What is the point of an unenforceable law? What will lawmakers do when no one gives up their legally-purchased property? Not much, would be my guess.

“…any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle…”  Now we come to one of the real problems with this bill. This is where it becomes obvious the authors know nothing about what they’re trying to legislate.  First of all, notice the term “bump fire” appears nowhere in this bill. The Senate version does actually use it, but not the House version. Bump Fire Bill.  Right. I understand the language is intentionally vague, and vague laws are dangerous.

Time for a quiz. What is the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle? Anybody? You don’t know because it varies depending on the rifle, its state of repair, the ammunition, the caliber, the shooter, the weather, etc.  There is no industry standard for semiautomatic rate of fire. It is a statistic which does not exist. How, then, do we define an increase in the rate of fire? If you put an aftermarket trigger in your rifle, you will probably be able to shoot it faster. I installed the excellent Apex trigger in my competition pistol, which is semiautomatic. I assure you, it increased the rate of fire of my pistol! Will it and similar aftermarket parts become illegal? To make my point crystal clear, take a few minutes and watch these videos of world-record shooter Jerry Miculek shooting an AR15 against a bump fire-equipped AR, a Tavor, and a .50 caliber Barrett. All are semiautomatic, even though you wouldn’t know it from these videos. Will Jerry’s trigger finger be illegal?

This bill was obviously written in haste (we have to do SOMETHING!) with very little thought. It was written by people with no technical knowledge and little understanding of the issues at hand, leaving far too much room for interpretation. I suspect, however, the Senate version is exactly what Feinstein wants. I have no doubt she sees this as an opening. If this were to pass, it would not be long before someone decided aftermarket triggers, which make it easier to shoot accurately by lightening the pull weight, “increased the rate of fire” and made them illegal. Then it would be compensators. They help manage recoil, which “increases the rate of fire”. Then someone would come up with an arbitrary rate of fire and any semiautomatic rifle capable of firing faster than that would be banned. It is indeed a slippery slope, the kind of thing for which the gun ban crowd has been waiting. Let’s not make it this easy for them. I doubt either of these will make it out of committee. Neither should. I urge you to contact your elected officials and tell them to bump the bump fire bills.

Arguing About Things You Do Not Understand

The horrific events in Las Vegas this past week have us, as a nation, wondering why and how we can stop evil this deep. What can be done to stop this madness? Are we safe? How can we ensure our safety at public events? The answers to these questions are incredibly complex as they deal with human behavior. We are complicated creatures, to be sure. This particular evil-doer does not fit the typical profile in any way. What causes a retired accountant with no apparent financial issues, no criminal history or history of mental illness to attack a concert full of innocent people? I doubt we’ll ever know. How can we predict who will commit this sort of crime? I don’t know if we can.

What is predictable, however, is the reaction from the gun control crowd. The blood wasn’t dry before social media and the airwaves were filled with shrill cries for more gun control. It continues to amaze me when people are calling for drastic action in reaction to an event when almost nothing is known about what actually happened. They don’t stop to ask the most basic questions: who? what? where? when? why? Of course, the answers to those questions don’t really matter. They know what they’re going to say before it even happens. Remember, this is the “never let a tragedy go to waste” crowd.

The interactions that I’ve seen and participated in this week show a remarkable level of ignorance among those most strident for new gun regulations. My intention when I started this post was to list the more common statements which are factually incorrect and clearly demonstrate, using facts and statistics, how they were incorrect. But what good would it do? The people who are most ignorant of how guns work, what the laws actually say, how guns are purchased, which guns are used in crimes most often, and who is using them, would not read this post. They believe there is an “epidemic of mass shootings” and “this type of thing doesn’t happen in the more civilized European countries. They have chosen to believe what they’re told by the media and the leftist leaders who champion their cause. They are willfully ignorant, the most dangerous kind of ignorance. Their arguments are based solely on emotional response, the need to DO SOMETHING which I’ve often mentioned.

I have yet to see any of these folks offer a realistic solution which would actually DO SOMETHING. I asked one person directly what new laws would stop an event like what happened in Las Vegas. Her response was to end sales of accessories which enable a semi-automatic weapon to fire at an automatic rate and to increase funding for mental health. I really don’t have an issue with either idea, but even she conceded neither was likely to prevent it. What they really want is for the government to determine what weapons who should be allowed to own. They want the government to know exactly who owns what weapon. There’s only one reason for that. Even though most of them lack the courage to admit it, they really don’t want anyone to own any firearms, period. They are perfectly willing to accept the loss of freedom for the illusion of security. When faced with this argument, I always point out the number of firearms owned by US citizens right now. Are they willing to have the police or military go into private homes to confiscate those weapons? So far, I haven’t had anyone admit they’re willing to let it go that far, but its just a matter of time.

I understand the emotional response to a tragedy like this. I know it upsets me, as a husband and father as much as a gun owner, and I’d hate to meet anyone who wasn’t upset by it. I understand having an opinion about things you don’t completely understand. We all do. But if you’re going to argue about something, you’d have a better response if you were knowledgeable about the subject. The voting public has clearly rejected their argument, mostly because it has no basis in fact. I, for one, am not willing to trade my freedom for a false sense of security, knowing it will do nothing to curb violent crime. They can deny the statistics all they want, it doesn’t change the fact armed citizens are less likely to be the victims of violent crime.

The problem lies with the human heart. How do we determine who has that level of hate in their heart? How do we control what goes on in the human brain? How can we look at a person and decide they’re dangerous? Maybe there are signs we don’t yet know. We should certainly work toward identifying what those signs might be. But how do you do it without violating civil liberties or the inalienable rights of millions who commit no crime? That’s the hard part, and so far no one has an answer.

Why You Should Not Fear Campus Carry

Social media has been active with the usual gnashing of teeth and cries of doom as Texas’ campus carry laws expanded to community and junior colleges.  Texas is one of 10 states where it is currently legal for licensed students and faculty to carry concealed firearms.  In 2004, Utah became the first state to pass such a law.  There are now 11 states where it is legal for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm to do so on college campuses.  It isn’t quite that simple, as the laws vary greatly by state.  Utah, for example, simply said that state laws applying to where a concealed firearm can be carried apply on college campuses.  Tennessee is on the other end of the spectrum, as only licensed faculty and staff are allowed to carry.  In between, there are limits on where and when weapons can be carried and by whom.  Twenty one other states leave the decision up to the individual institutions, which is a de facto ban on campus carry.  It is expressly forbidden in the remaining states and the District of Columbia.

According to the anti-gun crowd, this is a recipe for disaster and calls for the usual emotional response.  Their protests are what we’ve come to expect and cover a wide array of knee-jerk reactions, but I have condensed them into five basic complaints.

  1. An increase in firearms on campus will lead to an increase in violent crime.  This is a common theme in just about every anti-gun protest and is simply not supported by the statistics.  Studies suggest the rate of firearms-related crimes committed by persons with a concealed carry permit is about 2.4 per 100,000 people, not even close to the 3,813 per 100,000 for the general population.  By all accounts, those who go through the training and red-tape of obtaining a concealed carry permit are more responsible and safer than the average citizen.  Based on my personal experience, those who carry a firearm on a daily basis are very aware of the responsibility which they have assumed by choosing to go armed.  In searching the internet, I was not able to find a single instance where a concealed-carry permit holder committed any sort of crime on a college campus.  That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, but clearly demonstrates the rarity of such occurrences.
  2. The college years are marked by excessive alcohol and drug use, which will lead to irresponsible gun use.  Drug and alcohol use are certainly serious problems among college-age students.  In every state, regardless of the laws governing campus carry, it is illegal to be intoxicated and in possession of a firearm.  Period.  It does not matter where you are or whether or not you have a permit.  If you are too impaired to drive, you are too impaired to carry a gun.  For me personally, I won’t even have a beer with dinner if I’m armed.  Legally, I could, but I have made the decision that I do not want any level of impairment if I have to make a shoot/don’t shoot decision.  We should be far more concerned with the damage done to students by binge drinking and driving while under the influence than drunken frat boys shooting up campus.
  3. College students lack the maturity and emotional stability to responsibly carry a firearm.  Tell that to the 18-21 year-olds who carry a rifle every day in defense of this country.  First of all, you must remember that in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, it must be legal for you to possess a hand gun, which means that you must be at least 21 years of age.  Some states allow for citizens as young as 18 to apply for a permit, but only if they are serving or have served in the armed forces.  We aren’t talking about children carrying guns.  We are talking about people our society considers to be adults.  Citizens.  Voters.  Yes, I know that not all 21 year-olds are created equal and I understand college can be an emotionally charged environment.  The pressures of maintaining grades, social interactions, and student poverty are very real.  Again, there is absolutely no evidence that concealed carriers are more likely to snap in such situations than other students.
  4. People carrying guns on campus will distract from the learning environment/create fear among students and faculty.  Why?  This is the least logical of the arguments against campus carry.  As we have already discussed, citizens with concealed carry permits are far less likely to commit a crime than the average citizen.  The more obvious question is, how will you know if someone is carrying if they are concealing the weapon properly?  That’s why it’s called “concealed carry”!  There are approximately 15 million people in the US today with a concealed carry permit.  Odds are (assuming you live in a state that actually aknowledges the Constitution) you walk by an armed citizen every day.  If you’re in a restaurant, you might be sitting right across from someone who is legally armed.  The only time you’ll know is if something bad happens and that citizen reacts.  Otherwise, you will never know who is armed and who isn’t.  How is that going to be a distraction?  The media is what creates fear, not legal gun owners.
  5. Campus and local law enforcement are sufficient to keep our campuses safe.  This argument holds as much water on campus as it does elsewhere.  When seconds count the police are minutes away!  If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I have nothing but respect for law enforcement.  They have a nearly impossible and often thankless job.  They do the best they can, but they can’t be everywhere all the time.  For example, the University of Tennessee Police Department in Knoxville has 54 commissioned officers.  There are over 28,000 students enrolled at UTK, along with over 1700 faculty and even more staff.  The Knoxville campus covers 910 acres in the middle of a city of just under 190,000 people.  That means there are 54 officers to keep nearly 40,000 people safe, assuming no one from the outside community is on campus.  Major surface streets run through campus, so there is never a time when others aren’t on campus. That’s about one officer for every 740 people.  Clearly, it is not possible for the police, in spite of their best efforts, to monitor the safety of all of those people.  The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 is a tragic example.  It took the police 3 minutes to arrive on scene once the call was received, then 5 more minutes to gain entry into the building.  That’s remarkably good time given the circumstances.  Unfortunately, it was not fast enough to prevent the murder of 30 people.  Could a student or faculty member legally carrying a firearm have stopped this incident or at least reduced the number of casualties?  We can’t know the answer to that, but logic dictates any type of return fire would have at least distracted the shooter, if not put him down.  Even if it had caused him to panic and end his own life sooner, at least less innocent victims would have been injured or killed.

Sexual assaults on college campuses are becoming more prevalent.  If we continue using UTK as our example, the problem has grown significantly in recent years.  Young women are trained now to fight as hard as they can and make as much noise as possible if they are attacked.  This is good training, but only marginally effective.  Why should we hamstring a young woman’s ability to defend herself by not allowing her the most effective means of defense possible?  Why is it accepted that women will just have to be a disadvantage in a physical confrontation with a male assailant?  Young woman deserve to be able to protect themselves, to be empowered to go where they need to go when they need to go there, regardless of the time of day or whether or not friends can go with them.  Legally carrying a firearm is the ultimate empowerment.  This is one of the reasons why the largest growth in gun ownership in recent years has been among women.

So, what scares you about campus carry?  Nothing should.  In spite of what is being said, no one is advocating for sending hoards of armed teenagers off to college.  Rather, the object is for the laws governing the carrying of a firearm to apply on public college campuses just like they do anywhere else.  As a citizen, why does my right to protect myself end when I cross an imaginary line and enter the campus at UTK?  There are literally places where you’re on campus on one side of the street and off on the other.  Am I more of a threat on one side of the street than the other?  As a parent, I want my child to be able to protect herself when she goes to college.  Sure, I want her campus to be as safe as possible to begin with, but I understand bad things happen in the safest of places.  I hope she’ll choose to get the training and apply for her concealed carry permit as soon as she can legally do so.  Like most everyone who carries, I want everyone to be as safe as possible, except for those who seek to do us harm.  I want them to be scared.  Scared that the next person they decide to mug or worse will be the one to end their criminal career, one way or another.  I want the next lunatic looking for somewhere to go out in a blaze of glory to have a hard time finding a place where they won’t fear being stopped immediately by armed citizens.  Right now, most college campuses are giant targets of opportunity for such people.  Thankfully, the targets get harder every time a state decides to allow campus carry.  If your state doesn’t allow it, I hope you’ll contact your representatives and encourage them to introduce legislation which will change it.  If you oppose campus carry, I hope you’ll sit down and honestly think about the reasons why you feel the way you do.  Ignore what the media tells you and look at the facts.  I think you’ll see you really have nothing to fear.



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.