You’re Not Clever, Just Ignorant

I am tired of seeing posts/memes/cartoons portraying gun owners as ignorant racist rednecks who support the killing of children. This installment is aimed directly at those who post such garbage. I am sick of the condescension of people who call for “responsible gun ownership” but don’t even own guns. You think if gun ownership isn’t done by your idea of what the rules ought to be, it’s irresponsible. You could at least be honest about what you want, but few of you have the guts. I’ve pretty much adopted a policy of just scrolling by after taking into account the source, and I’ll probably continue to do the same. But I’m going to lay some facts on you anti-gun folks so you won’t have any excuse the next time you decide to post some leftist crap about us.

I was thinking about this recently during a pistol match. The folks in my squad included me (an archaeologist with 3 degrees), a civil engineer, a data architect, a chemical worker, a federal law enforcement officer, and other professionals. In the larger qroup of shooters at these matches you will find blue collar workers, construction contractors, environmental scientists, engineers, lawyers, and a wide variety of other professionals. In my shooting career, I have competed with men and women of various ancestry and background. I’ve never seen anyone treated any different based on the color of their skin or any other factor, for that matter. Some of us are members of the NRA and others are not. We’re all equal at the line.

When we get together, sure, we talk a lot about guns and shooting. Sometimes we talk about politics. But we also talk about our families, our jobs, how life is going, and lots of other topics. I have never once heard anyone talk about how anxious they are to shoot anyone else. In fact, we often discuss the weight of the responsibility of protecting our loved ones. We know our choices may not be the same as yours, which is fine. But we are sick of you telling us how evil we are for making the considered decision to take our safety and that of our family and friends as a personal responsibility.  If you are willing to stand by and watch something horrible happen to an innocent person, possibly someone you love, while you wait for the police or wish you could do something, that’s on you. I’m not wired in such a way. The next-to-last thing I ever want to do is point a firearm at another human being, much less shoot anyone. But the absolute last thing I want to do is have to live with someone in my life suffering serious injury or death because I didn’t have a firearm.

I know there are exceptions. I’m sure there are a few shooters who match all your stereotypes exactly. There are people out there who don’t behave in a responsible manner in any aspect of their lives, much less with a firearm. There are idiots, criminals, racists, and generally horrible people who own firearms. But they are clearly, statistically, demonstrably the exception. And I know you have every right to post whatever you want on your page. But here’s what you need to know: when you post these clever lines about how evil and stupid gun owners are, you are wrong and showing your ignorance. It is frustrating because I know many of you are highly intelligent. Why do you continue to be willfully ignorant when it comes to gun-related issues? Why do you continue to parrot the bald-faced lies fed to you by the media?  I don’t get it.

Please continue to post your ignorant, narrow-minded, mainstream media-provided nonsense if you like. Or, if you would really like to know about gun owners, why not talk to one? I’m always willing to discuss why I have made the choices I have and why I believe the way I do about the issue. But if all you’ve got is tired old fertilizer you learned on the news or Huffington Post, don’t bother. I don’t have time to talk to bleating sheep.

Feel free to comment if you like, but I’m not looking to start a debate. This is my opinion, which is based on research and experience, not my feelings or anything I’ve been told to think. I don’t care if you don’t like it. You are not going to change it.

The Broken Moral Compass

I’ve been thinking lately about what drives a person to walk into a church (or a theater, office building, school, etc.) and start indiscriminately killing people. Fortunately, I think few people can really grasp that level of depravity. After students committed murders on two school campuses recently, I keep coming back to the story about a thwarted plot here in Tennessee. Two 6th grade boys were planning to sneak weapons into their lockers and hide them until the last day of school, when they planned to kill as many students and teachers as possible before killing themselves. Luckily, the resource officer at their school heard rumors about their plan, followed up, and prevented a tragedy. No weapons were found on the boys or in their homes, and it is possible they would never have actually tried it. I’m grateful we’ll never know.

What were you doing in the 6th grade? I was trying to figure out how to be less awkward and how to avoid the biggest bully in my school. I was looking forward to running around outside after lunch and whatever was happening in PE that day (as long as it wasn’t the Presidential Physical Fitness Test or climbing that darn rope!). I was looking forward to getting home, having a good supper, and maybe watching a little television or working on whatever model aircraft I had going at the time. These boys were planning how to kill their classmates and teachers, as well as themselves. They’re 11 or 12 years old. How is it possible for a kid in the United States of America in 2019 to reach such a dark place at so young an age?  I wish I knew.

I know it is an incredibly complex issue, as are all things involved with human behavior. There are many factors which influence people in different ways. The news media, loathe to let a good tragedy go unexploited, tells us it’s because of poverty, guns, global warming, Trump, Bush, the NRA, and whatever else they’ve decided is a crisis on that particular day. Maybe there are aspects of some of those things at play. I think all this overlooks a bigger issue and one which may actually hold the key to preventing a lot of these problems: family.

The family unit, once the very foundation of American society, has been devalued for many years. Not so long ago when I was in high school, it was rare for a kid to not have both parents at home. Today, my wife (a high school teacher), has more students living with one parent, a grandparent, or other guardian, than those from a two-parent home. The divorce rate in this country is around 50 percent, at a time when the rate of marriages is decreasing. I understand there are many definitions of family. I know there are situations where it is healthier for all involved if one or both parents are out of the picture. Even in two parent households, too many kids are being raised by a device with a screen and not the parents. In addition, the media has been telling us for years how the father is a bumbler and isn’t necessary for a healthy household. I think they’re wrong.

Please understand I have nothing but respect for single parents who raise happy, well-adjusted kids. I know many who have done it and I honestly don’t know how you manage. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I don’t know how I would do it without my wife. So please don’t take anything I say in this piece personally. I’m not condemning you in any way.

A child’s moral compass is set very early by those around them. Ideally, it is set by the parents. There are so many lessons to be taught before the kid ever sees a classroom. By the time they get to school, they should have a good basis for how to treat other people. As they get older and are exposed to more people and more situations, the parents build on the early foundation with the help of teachers, clergy, and extended family members. Today, I wonder if the compass is being set in some cases. I’m sure there are some products of two parent homes who are monsters, just like there are lots of people who go on to do great things who grew up with only one parent at home. We were taught important lessons by both parents, one backing up the other if there was ever a question. My grandparents reinforced those lessons, as did a long list of teachers. Even the parents of our friends kept us straight! I think it was a better way to do things.

I’m not saying the family structure of a person is solely responsible for whether or not they commit a heinous crime, although I think it would be interesting to see if there is a statistical correlation. As I said before, it is a complicated issue and one not simply solved. But I have no doubt it matters. In the case of the sixth graders who wanted to murder their classmates, I don’t know what their home lives were like. I do know someone, or several people, failed to set a moral compass for those kids. Their failure could have been tragic.

Little Help for a Big Problem

I like to spend part of my lunch hour every day walking. It gets me out of the office, allows my head to clear, and gets me a little exercise. My walk takes me through the Old City in downtown Knoxville, which is a place of interesting architecture and even more interesting people. The area is frequented by suit-clad professionals, families, and more hipsters than you can shake an ironic t-shirt at! Sadly, it is also an area where many of Knoxville’s homeless can be found. I’ve had many encounters with them over the years. Most are friendly enough, ask for some money, and go about their business when you turn them down. I never give them money, but will offer to buy food for them occasionally. Most turn me down, but every so often, someone will take me up on the offer. I figure these folks truly are in trouble and I don’t mind buying them lunch.

A few days ago, an older gentleman stopped me on my walk and asked if I could help him out. He said he was a veteran and was broke. I have an especially soft spot for veterans in this condition, so I told him I would buy him something to eat if he was hungry. I didn’t really expect him to accept, but he did, so we headed off to a nearby Subway. It was a few blocks to the restaurant and he walked with a cane, so the trip took a few minutes. We had time to chat while we walked. I don’t instantly believe people when they claim to be a veteran. I usually ask what branch they were in, when they served, and where they served. A faker will have a hard time answering those questions. This gentleman convinced me pretty quickly as he rattled off his unit number without hesitation. He was a Marine, who did his basic training at Parris Island in the 1980s. I thought he was older than that, but he’s had a tough life. I’m pretty sure he was the genuine article.

He had moments of clarity and moments of confusion. I could tell he had some mental troubles, but he was mostly coherent. He said he came from Long Island, New York, but couldn’t really articulate how he came to be in Knoxville. He talked of an ex-wife who he caught cheating on him with his best friend, and how he could have killed the man but didn’t. He spoke about it like it had just happened, but then told me he had been in Knoxville for 6 weeks. In his mind, I think it did just happen. He had been a medic in the Marines, then came home to work construction. I asked if he was staying at the nearby mission, and he said he had been told to leave for some reason. He said he was on the streets and someone had stolen his jacket yesterday. He said he had no blanket or extra clothes. As I stood there and listened to his story and his lapses into confusion, I thought about how big this man’s problems were. Yeah, I fed him a meal. One meal. Where will his next one come from? When will he have another one? Where is he spending this cold, rainy night? How long can he survive on the street with winter coming? Questions to which I’ll never know the answers, but questions which trouble me.

Here’s a bigger question: how on earth is it possible for a person to serve this country and end up alone on the streets of Knoxville, Tennessee? How can this nation turn its back on these men? There is just no excuse for it. There are an estimated 40,000 homeless veterans in the US at any given time. Unacceptable. Our government has failed those who have risked everything to protect us! Many veterans are dependent on the Veterans Administration (VA) for medical and mental health services they desperately need. In many cases, they spend years waiting on treatment which they need immediately. This is just wrong and it needs to stop.

I’m not an expert on this issue, but I have a couple of ideas on how to make it better. Every person who is honorably discharged from the military should receive a card entitling them to free medical and mental health care at the doctor of their choice for life. Period. There needs to be a nationwide network of short-term housing options funded by the military for them and longer term where necessary. How can we afford this? How can we not? How can we justify sending billions of dollars to countries who openly hate us when American veterans are dying while waiting for care? How can we provide endless benefits to people who snuck into this country while those who have served it are homeless and starving? The money is there. It just needs to be put where it will do the most good, where it will allow us, as a nation, to do the right thing.

Until there is a leader in a place of sufficient power to make some hard decisions and get things done, I doubt much will happen. As is often the case, it’s up to us to do what we can to help these folks out. If you know a veteran who is at risk, be there for them. Talk to them. Find out what they need and help them figure out how to get it. Remember it is reported 22 veterans commit suicide every day. If you can afford to donate to a veteran’s organization, please consider it. If nothing else, buy a meal for homeless vet. It’s a small gesture in the face of a big problem, but the person you feed will appreciate it.

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.



How Old is Old Enough?

When should a person be considered an adult? Is there a specific age where, like it or not, you are an adult? 18?  21?  35?  Or is it an accomplishment? Your first full time job? Graduating from college?  Marriage?  For me, its hard to pinpoint a time when I started to feel like an adult. I was a pretty responsible kid, but immature in a lot of ways, too. I do remember after I had been married for a year or so, realizing how smart my parents really were.  Maybe that was it.  I’m really not sure.

The notion of adulthood has come to the forefront again with the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  As usual, the focus of how to prevent these things from happening has been solely on passing new legislation to regulate gun ownership.  In a disturbing twist, the mainstream media decided to use the children who survived this horrific event to further their agenda.  After CNN staged a supposed town hall meeting, several of these young people were turned into spokespeople for the cause.  This has caused other teens across the country to adopt the cause, resulting in the minor civil disobedience which took place today.  Great. A whole new generation being trained to throw hissy fits and focus on the wrong end of the problem.

As a result of all this teen angst, the question of age and adulthood has come up as it pertains to gun ownership.  The State of Florida, under political pressure to “DO SOMETHING”, recently passed legislation requiring the purchaser of a long gun to be 21 years of age, raising the age limit from 18.  This was much celebrated on the left, as the most recent shooter happened to be 19.  Many of the same folks cheering this bill have advocated for the voting age to be reduced to 16. Hmm. In other words, they think a 16 year old is responsible enough (at least the 16 year olds who agree with their agenda) to make decisions on who will lead their community and country. To me, there is a major logical disconnect here.

Let’s talk through this. At the age of 16, we put our kids in a 3000 pound car and send them out on the road. I’m on the road a lot. I can tell you first hand, it is a dangerous place to be, where decisions have to be made quickly. But a 16 year old can legally get out there put the pedal down. Over 2,000 teens die every year in car crashes.  On top of that, we give them a phone, knowing full well they are not physically capable of putting the darn things down for a minute. When I see someone doing something stupid on the road, I assume it’s because they’re looking at their phone.  Some have decided 16 year olds should be able to vote, based solely on some of the reactions of students to the Parkland shooting. I remember being 16. I had opinions on everything and would happily share them. Some things never change.  Anyway, I realize now I had a pretty poor understanding of the world and how things work at that age. I’m very glad 16 year olds can’t vote.

At the age of 18, you are considered to be ‘of age’.  You more or less get treated like an adult.  At 18, you can legally sign a contract, be sued, and die for your country. Yes, at 18, you can join the military, where they will issue you an M-4 (an actual assault weapon), and teach you everything about it, including how to more effectively kill our enemies. If you are killed in combat, you can receive a military funeral.  At 18.  But you can’t buy alcohol, and in Florida, you cannot buy a rifle.  Right.  Makes sense only if you’re more interested in controlling things you don’t like than actually protecting anyone.  Apparently, some magic happens in those 3 years and you become more responsible at age 21.  Yes, most continue to mature and gain some life experience.  But how can we justify letting 18 year olds vote and die for our country, but not buy a rifle or a beer?  Just. Plain. Stupid.

We need to decide.  The decision needs to make sense and be consistent.  You’re an adult or you’re not.  Maybe this shouldn’t be determined by age.  Are 18 year olds today as mature as those 20 years ago? I don’t know and I don’t really have a strong opinion either way.  I do know its silly to ban an 18 year old from buying a rifle, while we’ll issue one to him and expect him to risk his life using it.

Placing the Blame

Any time something bad happens, human nature dictates we assess blame for the incident. Whether it’s a minor traffic accident or a major crime, someone is to blame.  Sometimes multiple people.  Placing of blame can be important as it allows for efforts to prevent similar crimes to be focused where a difference might be made. But as is always the case, the anti-gun crowd immediately jumped on their favorite inanimate object of blame, the AR-15, and their favorite group of blame, the NRA, following the recent shooting at the school in Florida. It’s a familiar pattern which never ceases to irritate.

There are many people who share the blame for the horrors which occurred at the Parkland school.  Sadly, none of them are being discussed by the media.  Instead, they’re obeying their leftist masters and continuing to push the “guns are bad, especially the AR-15” agenda which has possessed them.  In this article, I’d like to discuss where the blame should be placed.  Sadly, there is plenty to around.

The primary blame lies squarely with the shooter. I won’t use his name.  This seems pretty obvious to me, but is apparently lost on the left.  Even though the media continuously showed the shooter’s face on TV, I never heard a single reporter actually lay the blame on him.  In dozens of Facebook posts continuing to today, I’ve yet to see any discussion of his responsibility for his actions from the left. By all accounts, this guy was a ticking time bomb.  His family was scared of him. His classmates were scared of him. He threatened numerous people publicly and posted photos of cruelty to animals. Everyone seemed to know he was destined to shoot up a school. He knew damn well what he was doing every time he pulled the trigger. He’s sick, but he’s still responsible.

He is not alone in his culpability. Since 2008, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office visited his home somewhere between 23 and 45 times (depending on whom you believe), many concerning specific threats he made against others. They were called an additional 18 times.  These threats should have resulted in his arrest and involuntary evaluation by a psychiatrist.  Had this happened, he could have been included on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and his attempts to purchase the weapons he used to murder 17 people denied.  In addition, the FBI had been notified at least twice about him, including once where he literally said he planned to become “a professional school shooter”.  But nothing was done.  Two agencies whose primary reason for existence is to protect the public, utterly and completely failed.  They failed to do the simplest of duties, but a duty which could well have stopped this crime.  People lose their minds over a kid chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, but these people let this guy go after making direct threats.  Unacceptable.

Speaking of failed duties, plenty of blame lies with the Broward County deputy assigned to be the school resource officer.  When the shooting started, he did nothing.  He stayed outside the school, listening to kids be slaughtered, kids for which he was responsible for keeping safe, for at least four minutes.  Think about that for just a second.  Think about standing outside a school for four minutes hearing the shots. Hearing the screams. And just standing there. There are reports that four other deputies were on site, who also did nothing.  There are also reports they were told to not entire the building by headquarters unless they had their body cameras turned on.  None had a body camera. I can’t vouch for the truth of that report.  It doesn’t matter to me either way. There was at least one armed, trained, law enforcement officer on scene who did absolutely nothing to stop this crime. I’m not going to question his courage, but he failed to do his duty.  Period. There is no excuse.  This opinion is shared by the Coral Springs police officers who were the actual first law enforcement officers to enter the school.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Department apparently suffers from a lack of effective leadership. Sheriff Scott Israel has shown himself to be more politician than law enforcement professional.  He has consistently deflected any blame for the lack of action based on numerous interactions with the shooter and for the lack of action of at least one of his officers. He sat on stage during the ambush staged by CNN as a “town hall” meeting, knowing all of these deficiencies.  But when questioned by the NRA’s representative, he refused to answer, choosing instead to fall back on the anti-gun frenzy in the room. He has passed up no chance to be on camera and blame others, not once accepting any responsibility. He may be the sheriff, but he is no leader. The failures of his department are his.

It is clear where the blame should be placed.  It also lies with a society which places little value on two parent homes or respect for others. It lies with the media who put the killer’s face on a loop and care more about their editorial spin than actually solving the issue. It lies with a general lack of respect for human life.  But none of these people or factors are being discussed. No, it is the NRA’s fault.  It is gun owner’s fault.  It is the AR-15’s fault. The NRA, which is made up of about 5 million people, most just like you or me, exists to protect the inalienable rights protected by the 2nd amendment, and to promote the safe, and responsible ownership of firearms.  It does not sell guns and it does not represent the firearms industry.  The NRA provides more instruction on the safe use of firearms to children and adults than any other group in the nation.  If you take a class on how to handle a firearm or for a concealed carry permit, odds are your instructor was trained by the NRA, at least in part.  The NRA was a strong supporter of the NICS system and continues to support improvements to it.  Not one of these mass shootings was committed by an NRA member, and one, the Texas church shooting, was stopped by an NRA member with an AR-15. But we’re labeled as murderers and terrorists somehow responsible for these incidents.  We’re told we don’t care about the lives of children. This is a narrow-minded, foolish approach and does nothing to solve the problem. The media is largely to blame for this, but too many just accept what MSNBC tells them and goes with it.

The vitriol toward the AR-15 is also ridiculous and based in ignorance.  The AR is not some super high-powered cannon and is not available to the public with the ability to fire automatically.  Your granddad’s deer rifle in 30-06 is more powerful.  It is not an assault rifle, as it lacks the ability to fire in a fully automatic mode. Sorry, but that’s part of the legal definition.  The modern AR is manufactured in such as way so it is not possible to make it fire automatically.  There are somewhere around 8 million AR’s in private ownership right now and they are almost never used in the commission of crimes.  More people are killed every year with fists than with every type of rifle combined.  ARs are excellent home defense weapons with the right ammunition, they are easy to shoot, and have low recoil, making them an excellent option for shooters of smaller stature.  They make excellent hunting weapons, again with the proper ammunition.  But the left and their media wonks have told the same lies over and over and over and the sheep believe them.  I’ve had people lecture me about the evils of the AR who I am reasonably certain have never seen one in person much less fired one.  But they know all about it because of what HuffPo or CNN said about them.  It is amazing how stupid smart people can be when their emotions get in the way.

Friends, no one wants this to stop more than me.  My wife teaches high school and my daughter is a student at the same school. Their safety means more to me than anything, so I take this subject very seriously.  This is a massively complicated issue and I don’t know the answers.  I do know the one thing which could be done today is for the Feds to demand every state to provide 100 percent of their convictions to the NICS so the background check system will work as designed.  It is unimaginable to me this isnt’ done already, but 38 states provide less than 80 percent of their convictions to the system.  These are people who have had due process and have either been convicted of a crime or adjudicated as mentally unfit.  There is no excuse for a state to not provide this information.  It needs to change right now.

At the moment, there are few strong ideas being discussed.  Allowing teachers who volunteer to do so and undergo additional training to carry firearms at schools has merit, but also raises concerns. I think providing armed security in the form of off duty police, hired security guards, or vetted volunteers from the community is a no-brainer.  We have armed guards in our banks but not our schools? I don’t want my wife and daughter to feel like they’re prisoners, but they’d get used to the presence of these folks soon enough.

Other ideas currently being discussed are designed to further the agenda, not solve the problem. The left is talking about age limits, adding the no-fly list to the NICS, banning bump stocks, and even a full-fledged ban on all semi-automatic weapons.  These things will not help.  They’ll punish law-abiding citizens and have zero effect on crime, but that doesn’t matter to the anti-gun people. The part I find most disturbing is the waste of time and intellectual energy. Instead of fighting these battles over and over again, why can’t we get past it and talk about the real issues?  How do we deal with the litany of societal ills which have brought us to this point? I don’t know, but I know banning ARs and attacking the NRA isn’t going to get it done.

It Must Suck to Be You

Hello, friends! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and your new year is off to a great start! I apologize for the lack of new articles, but the past couple of months have been extremely busy.  In addition, I’ve had a hard time coming up with relevant ideas and good ways to present them.  One thing I’ve learned about blogging is sometimes, you have more ideas than you can write about.  But other times, the well is dry.  There are always things going on and good topics, but I don’t always care enough to write about them!  Anyway, I’m glad to be back at it and I hope you’ll continue to read. Please feel free to comment and share our site with your friends!

One of the things I’ve noticed since the 2016 election is a significant increase in the overall negativity of my left-leaning friends.  This is no surprise.  I’m sure we all expected it after the national hissy-fit thrown after they lost a fair and legal election.  Given that, I expect the occasional ‘woe-is-me’ or ‘sky-is-falling’ post.  I think some of these people are just going too far for their own good.

I have one friend in particular who must do nothing but look for articles slamming any aspect of the Trump administration. This person’s feed is a non-stop cascade of negativity.  If it isn’t about Trump directly, it’s about the racist/sexist/homophobic nature of…just about everything.  Just today (so far), this person has posted five articles from the New York Times, along with single articles from Washington Post, Politico, Slate, Mother Jones, NPR, and other left-leaning sources.  Not all of these are necessarily political, but you get the idea. Every day is like this.  I just scroll past them, so it isn’t a big deal to me personally, but how healthy can it be for a person to focus so intently on their hate? It would drive me crazy.

A related problem has politics or social issues being inserted into every story.  This is nothing new, but it seems to be on the increase.  Another friend posted an article this week about the redeeming social aspects of the latest Star Wars movie.  The words “military-industrial complex” and “cisheteronormativity” (which I’m pretty sure is a made-up word) appear in this piece. I thought the movie was about good versus evil and cool special effects. I sat through the whole thing and never once did the issue of cisheteronormativity enter my mind. Sometimes a movie is just a movie.  Sometimes bad things happen between people of different races/genders/backgrounds which have nothing to do with any of those factors.  Inserting all of this stuff we’re supposed to be constantly worried about into every single aspect of life serves only to minimize it and cause fatigue.  There’s a time and place for concerning one’s self with important issues.  Those 2 hours in the theater for which I paid a stupid amount of money are going to be spent enjoying the movie and being with my family.  That’s it.

Yeah, I know, none of this is new.  I am aware that some conservatives did much the same thing during the previous administration.  I posted my share of it, I’m sure.  But it wasn’t the focus of my day.  I didn’t go out of my way to find articles to post slamming the administration.  I don’t have that kind of time.  I really hope my friends on the left side of the aisle are able to get past this.  I understand they’re unhappy.  Heck, I am too in some ways.  But what good does it do to spew this constant stream of crap from sources which are questionable, at best?  I just scroll right past it, so it only serves to focus their misery. It must suck to be them.

Party Over Principle

I read in the newspaper (yes, the old-fashioned ink-on-paper kind) Phil Bredesen is running for the U.S. Senate seat from Tennessee made available by the retirement of Bob Corker.  For those of you not from Tennessee, Mr. Bredesen was a two-term governor of our state and did a fine job.  He is also a Democrat.  My first reaction was “Good!  A decent human is running for that seat”.  I was glad to see it.  But after some more thought, I realized I probably won’t be able to vote for him.  Why might that be?  I voted for him for governor, so why not senator?  It’s that darn (D) after his name.  As governor, his party affiliation didn’t make much difference, at least not as he practiced it.  But in the U.S. Senate, I don’t think he could overcome his party affiliation.  That’s a shame, and it’s a symptom of much larger problems.

Recent elections have pointed out, with startling clarity, a lack of quality among those who desire to lead us. A friend once opined anyone who wanted to be elected to office shouldn’t be. Sadly, he seems to have been correct. How did we get to a place where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were our choices for President of the United States?  How was Roy Moore the best Republican in Alabama to run for the U.S. Senate? I think most will agree all were poor choices. The problem is most people who possess the qualities we should require of our candidates are not willing to subject themselves to the endless poking and prodding which comes with holding office. More importantly, they aren’t willing to make the moral compromises necessitated by the way the game is currently played. A person with leadership skills, integrity, a strong moral compass, and an ability to compromise makes a great employee or employer.  Their value in the commercial market makes it hard, if not impossible, for them to become politicians.  This leaves us with people who are ruled primarily by personal ambition in the form of a thirst for power, and greed.

The larger issue, in my opinion, is even when a good person chooses to run for office, they will be beholden to whichever party they have chosen to associate.  Bredesen is a great example.  He appears to be a good man.  As I said, he was a fine governor.  But in DC, his association with the Democratic party would require him to support policies with which I strongly disagree.  Whether he personally supports them or not will not matter.  He’ll have to play ball with the party leadership or lose their support.

The opposite is also true.  Although no real evidence has been put forth, Roy Moore appears to be a reprehensible human being.  Republicans in Alabama were forced to make a hard decision.  Those who voted for his Democratic opponent claim to have voted for their principles.  In saying so, they mean they voted against him because of his alleged misdeeds.  I certainly respect and understand their choice.  But they also voted for Democratic policies. Doug Jones says he’s a fiscal conservative and a supporter of the Second Amendment, but even if he has the fortitude to vote his principles, he’ll be drowned out by the leftists in his party.  In the end, did they really vote for their principles?  If you know a person is going to support policies with which you disagree, even if they’re a decent person, is it proper to vote for them as opposed to someone who will support policies you favor?  I certainly faced this issue with Trump.  I think Trump is a spoiled rich kid and an actor who is concerned only with himself.  I do not think he’s a man to be looked up to.  I don’t think he’s really even conservative. The only thing he has going for him, in my opinion, is he isn’t Hillary Clinton and her thinly disguised Socialist agenda.

What is the American voter to do? Right now we’re forced to vote for the lesser of two evils, which means we’re still voting for evil.  Something has to change.  More people need to participate in the process.  Voter apathy virtually guarantees the current state of affairs will continue.  An ignorant, or at least gullible, electorate will not solve this problem.  A news media guided by allegiance to a party and not journalistic integrity won’t, either.  I think it is going to take the emergence of a strong third party to make things change.  That’s a tall order, given the power the media currently wields.  They decide who gets heard and who doesn’t.  They even decide who participates in debates. Until this changes, substantive change will be extremely difficult.

In closing, I’d like for us all to remember these issues when we think about those who voted differently than we would like.  I’m trying to point out here that a vote for a person doesn’t necessarily indicate full support of said person and their personal background.  We all want to vote for people whom we respect, both personally and as politician.  We want people who have the courage to vote their convictions, even when they go against the party line.  Sometimes those people just aren’t on the ballot.  Until those people come forward with a desire to serve, we’re going to have to make compromises.  Compromises which will unfortunately lead us to once again cast votes for evil.

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.