An Open Letter to Police Officers


I’m writing this post for you today because I am tired of hearing about your brothers and sisters in blue being killed simply for doing your job. I’m tired of the disrespect and suspicion shown you by the press and some members of the public. I want you to know they don’t speak for the majority of us, and certainly not for me.

I read with horror the story about New York City Police Officer Miosoti Familia’s death on Wednesday. She was stationed in a mobile command center on a dangerous street in the Bronx when a recent parolee walked up to her window and shot her in the head. Thankfully for the tax payers of New York, he was shot and killed later as other officers tried to apprehend him.  Officer Familia was 48 years old and had been on the force for 12 years. She left behind a 20 year old daughter, 12 year old twins, and an elderly mother for whom she cared. She was not involved in a felony arrest or even a traffic stop.  She was simply monitoring a street, trying to keep local citizens safe. She had no connection to the parolee. Her only transgression was wearing the uniform and being on duty at that particular time and place.

Crimes like Officer Familia’s assassination have become far too common.  Already in 2017, 28 officers have died due to violence in the line of duty.  That figure represents 41.8 percent of the 67 officers which have died this year. But more seriously, it represents a trend toward the targeting of officers for no other reason than they represent the police. Last year saw several attacks on officers, most notably the sniper attack in Dallas which killed five officers and wounded seven more, as well as a similar incident in Baton Rouge which left three officers dead. Both shooters claimed to be angry about the treatment of black people by white police officers. That’s an odd motive since slain Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson happened to be black. I think the more important color in both cases was blue. Police blue.

Officers, I was raised to respect you and to seek you out in times of need. I was raised to be respectful of you regardless of the nature of our interaction.  I’ve had positive and negative interactions over the years, but I’ve always tried my best to show you respect. Today, it has become acceptable to hate, and even attack, police officers as a form of protest over perceived abuses. This was inevitable, given a national administration prone to instantly and publicly blame you after any instance where an officer killed a suspect. It didn’t matter the facts were yet to be known about the case. It didn’t matter that the involved officer’s life, as far he knew it, was about to be over. It didn’t matter that he might have been saving the lives of others as well as his own. All that mattered was making political hay out if it by fanning the flames of divisiveness and racial hatred. Of course, the true believers in the press were perfectly happy to assist by showing partial cell phone videos, interviews with crying relatives, and cherubic photographs of the smiling victim. Never mind that smiling kid had just tried to take the officer’s gun. All of this then became the constant news cycle loop for days, followed by detailed coverage of the protests and statements by Eric Holder condemning the police. Miosoti Familia got press coverage for one day. All of these ingredients have created a fetid stew of hatred which is now being acted out in violence toward all of you.

I’m sure your work is very satisfying. Helping people, protecting them everyday must be fulfilling and why most of you do it. I can think of no higher calling. But it comes at a high cost. Every day when you put on your badge, you know today could be your last day, your end of watch. That’s true for all of us, but your odds are higher when you run toward the gunfire instead of away from it. The courage it takes to do your job leaves me in awe. Every day, you see people on their very worst day. You are expected to maintain a level of professionalism in the face of everything from disrespect to homicidal rage few can muster and you are not allowed to make a mistake. Not one. Every action will be critiqued, second-guessed, and likely tried in the court of public opinion if not a court of law. Even when it is proven you acted properly, your career could still be over. And, you do all of this for meager pay and very little appreciation from those you protect.

I want you to know there are many, many of us who have the utmost respect for you and appreciate the sacrifices  you and your families make to keep our streets safe. I want you to know what is shown on cable news is not representative of how most of us feel. Most of us are more likely to buy you a cup of coffee or pay for your lunch than to swing a fist at you. I know you make mistakes. I know you accept the fact that if you make a mistake which costs someone their life, you are held accountable. But you deserve justice, just like anyone else. It is a sad state of affairs that finds us at time where the badge makes you a target. Please keep your head on a swivel, be safe, and know you are appreciated and respected.  If necessary, I and many others have your back. Thank you!

Paul G. Avery

The Frustrated Americans

What Should the NRA Say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Reciprocity Now!

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

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

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

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

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

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




Dads Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorial Day

I try to attend Knoxville’s Veteran’s Day parade every year.  A couple of years ago, it was a beautiful, unseasonably warm November day for the parade.  I took up my usual spot near the intersection of Gay Street and Summit Hill.  As the parade went on, I noticed a lady standing close by on the sidewalk. She had on a vest with several patches and pins for various veteran’s organizations.  She also had a large pin with a photograph of a soldier who I assumed was her son.  Then I noticed a smaller pin in the shape of a gold star.  I realized at that point I was probably standing next to a Gold Star Mother, a mother who lost a child in combat.  I wasn’t sure, but I glanced at her a couple of times as groups of veteran’s passed by and marching bands played.  Her face told the story.  I could see the pride on her face and the sadness in her eyes.  I felt like I was in the presence of someone very powerful.  I felt like I needed to acknowledge her in someway, but what do you say to a person who has made that kind of sacrifice? I thought hard about what I should do as the parade carried on.  As it ended, I turned to her, shook her hand, and simply said, “Thank You”.  That’s all I could come up with.  As utterly insufficient as those two words are to express what was going on in my gut, they seemed to be proper, as she simply nodded and smiled as tears filled her eyes.  I got a little something in my eyes as I walked back to the office. It was dusty, you know.

I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and that it is filled with family, friends, and fun.  But take a minute to consider the cost of the freedom you have to do those things.  Think about the courage it takes to be willing to give your life for your country.  Remember the estimated 1.1 million Americans who have done just that, and remember their families. Visit one of the 135 national cemeteries or any of the dozens of state veteran’s cemeteries.  Walk along the rows of stones and read the inscriptions.  I have been in several and always learn something from my visit. They are emotionally powerful places that provide a great deal of perspective.

My brief encounter with a Gold Star mom on a sidewalk in Knoxville will stay with me for a very long time. I consider myself very fortunate to have met her, even for a moment.  She, and all Gold Star families, will be on my mind tomorrow.


Look at this photo.  Look at it and remember when your child was 8 years old.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Like my own daughter, this little girl was loved by her parents, liked by her classmates and teachers, and had a nearly limitless future.  This little girl’s name is Saffie Roussos.  On Monday night (May 22, 2017), Saffie attended the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.  I don’t know Saffie, but if she’s anything like my daughter, she was still excited by all the things she’d seen and heard as the concert ended around 11:30 pm.  She was probably already thinking about what she was going to tell her friends about the show the next day as she exited the arena into the foyer that leads to the parking garage and Victoria Station.  That’s where Saffie died.

Saffie Roussos was one of 22 people killed by a terrorist suicide bomber Monday night.  She was the youngest.  She was 8 years old.  Eight. Years. Old.  EIGHT YEARS OLD!  Her short life was ended by a coward wearing a suicide vest who undoubtedly believed he was doing god’s will.  The murderer was a 22 year-old man of Lybian descent with possible ties to terrorist organizations in that country.  He was known to British security agencies and had been reported to have been radicalized, likely by some hate-spewing nut-job imam on the internet (merely an assumption on my part).  I will not give him the honor of using his name and you sure as hell will not see a photo of him on my page!  He entered the foyer as it filled with men, women, and children leaving the concert after a night of fun.  He wore a vest packed with explosives, along with nuts, bolts, and nails so he could be sure to injure as many people as he could.  He approached the doors at the busiest exit from the arena and detonated his vest, killing 22 people and injuring 116 others.

The other 21 fatalities included three 14 year-old girls, two 15 year-old girls, a 17 year-old girl with her 19 year-old boyfriend, an 18 year-old girl and two 19 year-old girls.  The rest were adult men and women ranging in age from 28 to 51 who were there primarily with their adolescent children or simply to pick them up after the concert.  Marcin and Angelika Klis were there to pick up their children, who are now orphans.  Philip Tron died while picking up his partner’s daughter, Courtney Boyle, who was also killed in the blast.  It seems apparent that this attack was targeted at young girls.  I don’t know anything about Ariana Grande’s music, but I would assume that her target audience consists primarily of adolescent girls.  I’m sure the planners behind this knew that very well.

With that in mind, let’s apply a logical analysis of this situation.  A 22 year-old man has somehow been convinced it will help his so-called religion defeat the infidels of the decadent West by killing himself and as many little girls as possible.  I want someone to tell me what threat any of the victims posed to his religious beliefs or his “people”?  A large portion of the audience probably wasn’t even old enough to vote, let alone cause any harm to him or Islam whatsoever.  All any of these people were doing Monday night was trying to have a good time and give their kids a fun experience.  And yet, somehow, they all deserved to die in the twisted eyes of the mullahs and imams who continue to brainwash these weak, stupid individuals who continue to commit these heinous acts.  How is it possible to make someone believe that their religion not only condones the killing of innocent civilians, but demands it and rewards it?  How do you hear reports of nurses washing bits of blood and flesh off of children and cheer?

As sad as this is, I didn’t react strongly to the news of this attack initially.  Yes, you feel bad for the people involved, but it has almost become common.  But then I saw this picture and the pictures of the other victims.  My blood turned to ice, then started to boil.  I keep seeing my little girl’s face when I look at Saffie’s.  She loves going to concerts and is quickly approaching an age where she’ll want to go to more.  I can not imagine what Saffie’s parents are going through.  They will never get over this.  I would never get over it.  I feel for the first responders and doctors who treated so many injured people, so many who were so young.  I feel for the Muslims who go about their lives every day like everyone else, but have to deal with the acts of fanatics like this.  I keep coming back to one question: why?  Why did Saffie and the others have to die that night?  I don’t have an answer.  I’m afraid there isn’t one.

Hug your kids extra tight.  Not one of the parents thought that Monday would be their child’s last day on earth.  But do not live in fear.  The only way this enemy wins if we change the way that we behave and limit our own freedoms.  Be vigilant, be careful, but do not be afraid.

Mountain out of a Molehill: Sheriff Clarke’s Uniform

A recent Twitter rant about Sheriff David Clarke’s uniform went viral to the point of being reported by the media. The problem is, it is chock full of logical and factual errors. The series of tweets railed against his uniform, accusing the Sheriff of wearing unauthorized items and implying (but not stating outright) stolen valor. Media reports took it one step further (imagine that), with headlines like  “Looks like Sheriff David Clarke’s “army” medals might be B.S.” Social media comments outright accuse him of stolen valor (even using the sharp sign, err… hashtag), along with the usual foaming-at-the-mouth ad hominem tirades.

Let me attempt to inject some sanity into this ridiculousness, if you please. Scattered within said 14-tweet screed, the author asserts the following: “You see all that shit pinned all over his dress uniform jacket? That’s not supposed to be there”, as well as “On the left side, you have what appears to be more badge replicas/pins and several ribbons, one of which looks unauthorized.” Also, “… and then up top, you have the flag pin arranged on the lapel as though it’s part of the uniform code. Pretty sure it’s not.” My problem with this is not his attack on David Clarke. If you read the entire series of tweets along with other of his writings, it is blatantly obvious he has an axe to grind with Sheriff Clarke. That’s his problem, not mine. I’m not here to defend the Sheriff, that’s his job. I’m here to defend logic. My first issue with this is quite simple, and best described in question/answer format. Who sets the uniform standards for a Sheriff’s Department? The answer: THE SHERIFF. Period. End of story. Therefore, every single point raised above is absolutely incorrect. If the good sheriff wants the uniform to be a pink leopard-print romper with a green Borat mankini on the outside, then that’s the uniform code. Another burr under my saddle was this gem: “It’s literally a sloppy assortment of badge replicas arranged neatly…” Which one is it? It’s either a sloppy assortment, or it’s arranged neatly. It cannot be both. My second issue is that in all the pics which were posted as evidence, I did not recognize one single solitary piece of military insignia. I will concede, however, the last point in time I was subject to Army uniform regulation (AR 670-1) was likely before the author of that rant was a gleam in his daddy’s eye. There are undoubtedly many pieces of authorized insignia which have been added to the mix since I’ve been out. That being said, the burden of proof is on the doubter. It is his job to specifically identify each piece of wayward insignia and why it doesn’t belong, according to standard. I won’t hold my breath.

The remainder of his missive is, as I mentioned above, mostly personal attacks on the sheriff. As I also mentioned previously, that’s not my problem. I’ll leave it at this; for the sake of logic, if you wish to raise an issue (with anything, not just this), be precise with your statements. Be accurate with your accusations. It is hardly within the realm of logic to accuse one of wearing unauthorized uniform items/uniform not being up to code when the target of your attack is the one who sets the code. Chill. AR 670-1 doesn’t apply to a sheriff’s department.

Whether or not said code is over the top is a separate issue from the above, and certainly open for discussion. Now that it has been mentioned and I’ve looked, his dress uniform jacket does look a bit busy. Frankly, though? I’ve got better things to worry about.

I do find it puzzling from a logical perspective to see this story was picked up by the media. Politically, though, it’s easy. If David Clarke was an outspoken Democrat and/or a Hillary supporter, there would have been nothing but crickets on this one. David Clarke’s only real sin is being a black man who supports Republicans and speaks out against the terrorist group BLM.

Cut Through the Noise: The Truth about Suppressors and the Hearing Protection Act


On January 9, 2017, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 was introduced in the House or Representatives (H.R. 367) and Senate (S. 59).  The bills are identical, each seeking to reclassify sound suppressors for firearms as regular long arms.  In my opinion, this is a bill which is long overdue.  By removing the $200 tax and onerous regulations on suppressors, they will become more affordable and accessible to American shooters, making shooting sports safer.  I see no downside, but that isn’t stopping the usual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by those who oppose anything making gun ownership easier or actually safer.  As is often the case, many of the objections I’ve heard are based on misunderstanding and outright falsehoods perpetuated by the media.  What I’d like to do with this article is provide you with some facts about suppressors, including a little history, what they actually do versus what you may think they do, and why this bill is a good idea.

The modern suppressor was invented in 1902 by Hiram Percy Maxim, the son of the inventor of the first portable, truly automatic machine gun.  Maxim’s device was patented in 1909 and was widely marketed to hunters and shooters across the country.  They were available to everyone and were popular devices.  Maxim’s Silencer (a misnomer that we’ll address shortly) was a tubular device that contained a series of baffles which trapped the escaping gases from the muzzle of a firearm, greatly reducing the report, muzzle flash, and felt recoil.  The same basic principals are used in modern suppressors.

The passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934 changed everything.  The original NFA was the first widespread attempt by the American government at gun control.  The act was largely a response to the waves of crime perpetrated by the likes of Al Capone and John Dillinger during the Prohibition era.  At that time, anyone could own an automatic weapon, although there were very few available and they were expensive.  They were, however, used by gangsters such as Capone and Dillinger in the commission of their crimes.  It was thought that if those weapons were banned, the result would be a reduction in crime (if this sounds familiar, you’re right).  Interestingly, the authors of the NFA were actually more concerned with handguns than machine guns and wanted to ban them as well.  The National Rifle Association (yes, the NRA) successfully lobbied to remove handguns from the bill.  The authors of the bill knew very well the American people would never allow their 2nd Amendment rights to be stripped in such a way, so it was decided to regulate these weapons through taxation.  The NFA placed a $200 tax (equivalent to about $3500 today) on “firearms”, which it defined as “a shotgun or rifle having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length, or any other weapon, except a pistol or revolver, from which a shot is discharged by an explosive if such weapon is capable of being concealed on the person, or a machine gun, and includes a muffler or silencer for any firearm whether or not such firearm is included within the foregoing definition”.  In addition, anyone who manufactured, imported, or sold these items was required to be registered with the Treasury Department and pay a hefty tax, and anyone owning these types of weapons were required to register them.  Private sales between individuals were not allowed.

To read the original transcripts of the hearings that lead up to the passing of the NFA, please follow this link and download the document available on Google Books.  It is a fascinating read and will be covered in more detail in a future post.  Interestingly, there was almost no discussion of so-called silencers throughout the proceedings, so it is unclear why they were included at all.  Gangsters the likes of Capone and Dillinger did not generally use suppressors.  They staged their crimes in broad daylight, relying on sheer audacity and superior firepower, not stealth, to commit their crimes.

Today, suppressors remain legal, but are not simple to acquire.  The $200 tax has not changed, although subsequent legislation and the creation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive (BATFE) has added layers of aggravation to the process.  Assuming you live in one of the 42 states where it is legal to possess a suppressor, the first step is to pick out and purchase the one you like.  Once you have made your purchase, the dealer maintains possession of the suppressor as you await approval from the BATFE.  You must submit two copies of completed BATFE Form 4, two finger print cards, two copies of your passport photo, and a completed BATFE Form 5330.20.  To complete Form 4, you must obtain certification from your Chief Law Enforcement Officer.  Once all of this has been submitted you wait for at least three months, and usually longer.  Once your purchase has been approved, the seller will receive one copy of your Form 4 with the tax stamp and will be allowed to release your suppressor to you.  Simple, huh?  That’s all you have to do to purchase a metal tube filled with baffles, which is legal to own and makes shooting safer.  Our government at work!

The primary reason suppressors were ever restricted and remain so is simply that most people do not understand what they actually do.  Maxim’s name for his invention, silencer, was more for marketing purposes than a functional description of the device.  The rise of spy movies in the mid-20th century showing assassins moving through the darkness and dispatching their target with a silencer-equipped pistol with barely an audible sound have reinforced the misconception.  Silencers do not actually silence the report of a gunshot, they merely suppress it.  Hence, the use of the term ‘suppressor’ by people in the industry.

The sound of a gunshot is produced by two different phenomenon that occur simultaneously when a shot is fired.  As the projectile leaves the muzzle of the gun, the gases created by the burning propellant escape, causing a pressure wave that is perceived by the human ear as a loud blast; a BOOM, if you will.  The second is the projectile breaking the sound barrier, which produces a sharp CRACK.  With the exception of specially produced sub-sonic ammunition, almost all commercially available calibers exceed the speed of sound at the muzzle, which is approximately 1125 feet per second (fps).  Suppressors only attenuate the sound produced by the escaping gases.  Each of the baffles inside the suppressor captures a portion of the gasses and directs the remainder forward into the next baffle, rather than outward in all directions.  They do nothing whatsoever about the sonic boom created by the projectile after it leaves the barrel, and this is a significant portion of the sound profile of a firearm. Using a suppressor also results in less felt recoil, which is conducive to accurate shooting.  If you’d like to see more information on this and how your ear perceives the sound, check out this series of slides prepared by Phillip H. Dater, MD.

The decibel (dB) level of a gunshot is dependent on many factors, including caliber, muzzle velocity, barrel length, and position relative to the muzzle.  The decibel level of a variety of calibers of ammunition is presented in the chart below as the blue bars.  This information is based on the work of James E. Lankford, who compiled the data from a series of five different studies.  They are presented as the peak decibel level for each caliber.  I have simplified Lankford’s data somewhat, as he lists numerous calibers and the weapon from which each was fired for testing. According to OSHA, “exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed 140 dB peak sound pressure levels”.  Sounds that exceed 140 dB can cause permanent hearing damage immediately.  As you can see from the chart, every caliber produces sound levels in excess of 140 dB.  If you think it’s ok to go out and shoot your .22 without hearing protection, you’re wrong.


Unsuppressed and suppressed decibel levels of common calibers.

OSHA further requires hearing protection to be provided to workers who are exposed to long term noises over 85 dB, which provides a good threshold for safe levels of noise exposure.  This level is represented by the yellow line on the chart.  Based on my own quick search of several manufacturers,  suppressors reduce the dB level between 20 and 40 dB, depending on make, caliber, and a number of other factors.  For this article, I have assumed an average of about 30 dB in noise reduction for every caliber.  That number is represented by the red bars.  The chart clearly shows that for every caliber, with the exception of the .357 magnum, suppressors reduce the dB level to below 140 where permanent damage can occur immediately, but for no caliber does it reduce the level to below the 85 dB level.  In other words, suppressors reduce the sound of a gunshot to a safer level, but not to the point where hearing protection is not necessary.  When you see our movie assassin fire a shot which goes “fffft”, that’s Hollywood magic, not real life.

Even though suppressors do not make gunshots safe for unprotected ears, there are numerous advantages to their widespread use.  Those of us who hunt understand that it is almost impossible to use hearing protection while hunting.  Great improvements have been made in electronic ear muffs that allow for normal hearing while canceling out any sound as loud as a gunshot.  They make it harder to distinguish between birds scratching in the leaves and deer walking right behind you, however.  The same is true for bird hunters.  Shotgun blasts tend not to be as painful as rifle shots, but a day in a dove field where the hunter might fire 50 rounds or more can do a lot of damage without protection.  Electronic muffs do not lend themselves to shotgun use and plugs prevent the hunter from hearing calls from other hunters, either identifying birds coming in or cautioning against shooting at low birds or non-game species.

For new shooters, the noise and recoil associated with shooting can be intimidating. This can lead to poor habits such as flinching, poor trigger control, and failure to follow through.  A suppressor reduces both the noise and the felt recoil, making learning to shoot a more pleasant experience for the student and the instructor.  As for ranges, many are under threat of closing as housing developments spring up on adjacent properties and fill with people who do not like the noise.  The use of suppressors can make ranges better neighbors and opens the opportunity for new ranges where none could have been built before.  If you frequent an indoor range, you know that you often have to use both ear plugs and muffs in order to shoot comfortably.  Even then it can still be very loud.  I think suppressors should be a must for indoor shooting.  For those who shoot a lot, such as law enforcement and competitive shooters, the use of suppressors during practice will help prevent the cumulative damage which comes from firing thousands of rounds of ammunition, even with protection.

As you can see, there are many good reasons why the Hearing Protection Act should be passed and no reason it should not be.  Criminals do not use suppressors.  Period.  They are big, bulky, and very obtrusive, all things that criminals try to avoid in a weapon.  Poachers, by and large, are not concerned with noise.  They rely on isolation and often darkness to conceal their activities.  If suppressors become more easy to obtain, there will not be roving bands of assassins murdering people at will with their totally silent guns, any more than concealed carry laws have led to the “blood in the streets” about which the anti-gun folks warned us.  Friends, I hope you’ll support the passage of the Hearing Protection Act by contacting your representatives and letting them know that you want to see a piece of truly common sense legislation concerning guns pass.  You can follow this link to get the information for your representatives, or you can submit forms here expressing your support for the bill.

As always, thank you for reading!  I hope you found this article informative and that you’ll share it with your friends.  Please leave me a comment here on the page.  Remember, ignorance is our common enemy!


Why Firing Comey Doesn’t Matter (right now)

I’m not sure it’s possible for one to not see the foolishness involved in the reporting of anything related to Donald Trump these days. Only the most partisan of Democrats could fail to acknowledge the obvious bias and agenda in what passes for journalism in the U.S. at this point in time. Before continuing, I will reiterate now what I have said many times; I am not a Trump fanboy. I was extremely skeptical of his candidacy, and he was far from my first choice. That being said, it is getting more and more difficult to pay much attention to the “reporting” taking place today when the desire to trash a public figure is so prominent that disparaging stories are written because he takes two scoops of ice cream with his dessert (insert eye roll here).

I’m a “big picture” kind of guy for the most part. I’m also a skeptic. For those reasons and more, I don’t often get swept up in the day’s stories. More often than not, I wonder what’s *not* being reported more so than becoming anxious about what *is* being reported. Because of that, I’m going to offer some food for thought about the President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

1. The Director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the President. Hearings don’t need to be convened, HR doesn’t need to weigh in – if the President wants to fire you, the President has that power. Period. End of story. Doesn’t. Matter. Why.
2. This particular FBI Director has earned scathing criticism from all political sides. One can only defend his job performance through a highly politicized and agenda-rich perspective. Many prominent Democratic figures are on record calling for his head.
3. The President exercised restraint and showed deference to protocol. How, you say? It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to see Democratic obstructionism has caused difficulty for this administration through foot-dragging in reference to cabinet nominations. The Director of the FBI’s boss is the Deputy Attorney General, who reports to the Attorney General, who reports to the President. Jeff Sessions wasn’t sworn in as the Attorney General until February 8th. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wasn’t sworn in until April 26th. Comey was fired on May 9th, just shy of two weeks after his boss was finally allowed to take his position. Hardly a questionable timeline given the circumstances. President Trump waited on the formal recommendation of Comey’s next two levels of supervision before ending his service as FBI director, when he could have done it on January 20th.
4. Rod Rosenstein is widely regarded by both sides of the aisle to be exceedingly apolitical, very ethical, and a consummate professional. This lends significant credibility to his recommendation for Comey’s dismissal. Given his record, it is unlikely he would produce a recommendation with which he disagreed.
5. Relieving the leader of an entity does not immediately end the activities of said entity. The only person in the FBI throwing up their hands and not doing their job any more as of May 9th 2017 is James Comey. Every other FBI agent reported for duty on May 10th and continued doing their work, and every investigation currently under way by the FBI will continue to be conducted until it is concluded or ordered closed. Judging by the apoplexia on display from the usual suspects, one would think no FBI activity at all has taken place since Comey was fired. There is simply no logic in acting as if this is the de facto end of any investigation.

Let’s review: We have an FBI director with an easily documented and indefensible record of poor job performance (marvel at my understatement), two levels of supervision recommending his removal, and the end of his chain of command has the clear and unrestricted power of dismissal. And your problem is?

Accusation: He was fired to hinder investigations which may cause trouble for the President.
Counter: Even if he was, it cannot be proven. Move on. The time to make hay in regard to this is if the new director takes provable action to actually impede any particular FBI investigation for political reasons.

Accusation: He was going to fire him anyway. He just waited on those recommendations, which he ordered to be written, as a form of political cover.
Counter: One could just as easily say, possibly with more credibility, he wanted to fire him but asked for input from every link in the chain of command between the two in order to make a more fully-informed decision. That shows good leadership. I may not like the man as a person, but do you really think given his record of performance he doesn’t know a thing or two about being a leader? The timing of it, as previously mentioned, was largely determined by Democrat foot-dragging.

There are multiple investigations being conducted by multiple entities looking into possible Russian interference in our election. There may be more. This firing will have no effect on the FBI’s ability to do what it does. For that matter, I think it more likely to cause a “double down” response, ultimately causing more scrutiny, not less.

Ultimately, I personally believe the Russia argument is a pile of excrement, and largely a product of sore losers hell-bent on causing as much pain as possible for this administration. There is much more documentable evidence of Democrat involvement with Russians than Republican. In any case, let them investigate. As I said, I believe nothing credible will come of it. If it does, then the necessary steps will no doubt be taken.

This firing is no smoking gun. At most, one should make a note to consider this as a small piece of the puzzle if a smoking gun is ever found. In the mean time, right now, the firing of James Comey just doesn’t matter.

Attitude of Gratitude

Like many of you, Saturday is a usually a day for getting the stuff done that fell by the wayside during the week.  At our house, that usually means grocery shopping, yard mowing, house cleaning, and other chores.  Our daughter has responsibilities too, including keeping her room and bathroom clean.  This is how she works off the expense of her cell phone.  Last weekend, her mom wanted her to clean out the drawers in her dresser.  They were over-stuffed to the point of being unable to close.  She’s a 13 year old girl, so this happens occasionally.  I reminded her at some point during the day that she needed to get it done and I got THE LOOK. If you have a teenage daughter, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  THE LOOK comes when you say something that is either so annoying or stupid the child doesn’t know how you remember to breathe.  This was followed by “I was going to do that next weekend”.  I told her today would be much better for her continued enjoyment of life.  She made it plain that she wasn’t crazy about that plan, but set about her task.

As I was thinking about this minor dust-up, it occurred to me the basic problem was the child has too many clothes and she doesn’t understand how fortunate she is to be in that situation.  I’m not the smartest dad, but it seemed to me that this was what you call a teaching moment.  Let me just say that she is a great kid.  We have no serious behavioral issues with her, just occasional bouts of teen ‘tude.  Anyway, we talked about it later that day and I explained to her there are a lot of kids who would be thrilled to have half of her wardrobe, and she should keep that in mind while taking care of her stuff.  She had pretty well gotten over herself by then, and she nodded in agreement.  By then, she and her mom had straightened things up, producing several bags of clothes to be donated to our local thrift store.  I gave her a hug and all was well.

I think there is a larger lesson here, a lesson we all need to be reminded of from time to time.  I think we forget to be grateful.  No, this isn’t some Pollyanna-unicorns and rainbows-type statement.  I know things are tough and the world is insane.  Believe me, I understand the struggle.  It gets harder every month to make ends meet.  The cost of food, fuel, insurance, and most everything else goes up while our salaries don’t follow suit.  Something is ALWAYS sucking up our time and money, forcing us to make hard decisions.  We are bombarded constantly by the 24/7 news cycle with reasons why we should hate the government, hate our neighbor, fear the boogieman, and just generally be unhappy.  This constant negative reinforcement is very effective and can work on you in ways you don’t even realize.  If you don’t try to counter it, it will just wear you down.

So how do we counter all of the doom and gloom?  It isn’t easy and the solution is different for everyone as we all have our own sources of trouble.  One thing we can all do is try to look at the positive aspect of our troubles.  Sometimes it is very difficult, almost impossible, to find the positive.  Personally, I’m a realist who leans toward the cynical, so I have to force myself to look for the so-called bright side.  But having a positive outlook can make a lot of our day to day aggravations look a lot smaller, and make the larger issues more manageable.  The example I used with my daughter was mowing the lawn.  I don’t like mowing the lawn, but I have to do it just about every week through the spring, summer, and fall.  No, I don’t like to do it, but I’m grateful I have great tools which make the job easier, and more than that, I’m grateful I have a lawn of my own to mow!

There are many more examples I could use.  For example, I am an archaeologist. We are underpaid relative to other sciences.  I’m partially responsible for recording and protecting our common past, which I think is a vital task.  Engineers with my education and experience make twice what I do.  Since the crash in 2008, our wages have been stagnant as companies just try to survive.  I am good at what I do and I work hard at it, so this is frustrating.  But, I’m grateful.  I have a job  I enjoy and which challenges me every day.  I have managed to stay employed when many of my peers have lost their jobs and had to seek employment outside of archaeology.  I’m still able to go into the field and do a good day’s work looking for lost treasure (actually other people’s trash, but treasure sounds better).  I realize how lucky I am to be doing what I do, so I’m grateful.

This blog was founded as a means of expressing the contributor’s frustration with politics and the lack of reason and logic that plague us in so many political discussions today.  We are truly Frustrated Americans.  For me at least, this frustration is tempered by the knowledge that we live in the United States of America.  I am grateful to be a citizen of a nation where I am allowed to vent my frustration openly and without fear of reprisal.  I can sit here and write whatever I want, be it serious or silly, and you can read it or not, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.  I am grateful to the thousands of Americans who have fought and died to preserve that freedom.  I am grateful for the opportunities which are available to all of us if we’ll just work for them.  We have major problems, make no mistake.  There are serious issues at play which can alter the course of our nation.  I’m grateful, however, for the fact that we all have a least some say in the outcome.

Friends, I hope you’ll join me in trying to adopt an attitude of gratitude.  There are days when it’s hard, when I get tired of the struggle.  It always seems I’m reminded of reasons to be grateful about the time things are darkest.  An amazing wife and daughter remind me daily.  I think we’ll all be better for it if we try to take a little time and consider the things for which we’re grateful.

I hope you enjoyed this article!  Please leave me a comment to let me know what you think and share the link with your friends.  Also, I’d like to attribute the title of this article to Knoxville radio personality, Hallerin Hilton Hill.  Mr. Hill hosts one of the best talk shows you’ll hear, the very best in this market.  He admonishes his audience every day to adopt an attitude of gratitude.  I hope you’ll tune in to his show.