Category Archives: Gun control

Do Something

Do something … helpful.  Some leaders are advised to “do something” to address a crisis… or address a trend adversely affecting the organization they lead (below, or even around).  I agree analysis paralysis is real, but suggest the gap between someone with a leadership title and responsibility… and someone effective at the job is … they do something helpful, not just… do something.

In the debate between the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution (the right of the individual to keep and bear arms) and gun control, precedent and history require our leadership to do something helpful, not just “do something.”  Revoking an individual’s 2d Amendment right, without due process (and ensuring such due process includes evidence, not some, perhaps irrational, fear) is “doing something,” but not “doing something helpful.”

The primary issue dominating the gun control debate is “protecting our kids.”  The best logical response to this problem is arming appropriate staff/teachers on every campus (three people, perhaps more depending on the size of said campus).   I’ve heard many objections to this solution and I agree:  we ought not arm every teaching professional or even some without care.  But there are plenty of educators… teachers and school administrators… who are highly proficient in the safe handling of a firearm, either from military experience (some 7 million Americans are Gulf War era veterans, to get a snapshot of the scope of American firearms proficiency) or a serious firearm hobby.

Although I’m not going to argue against a training regimen for armed staff, established at the local level, I’m largely against adding substantial training requirements to a teacher or administrator’s already jammed schedule.   I’m not suggesting teachers or staff be allowed to wear a pistol on the hip or lay a rifle on a table:  discretely stored and secured firearm within easy access for each authorized staff is what I recommend.  Firearms aren’t for confronting a belligerent  student… even a student with a knife or swinging a chair.  A firearm is for confronting an active shooter, and each school requires a tactical analysis and communication system for ensuring armed staff can respond quickly and effectively to an active shooter situation.

The latest uproar regarding gun legislation was triggered in Virginia Beach, where a government employee using a suppressed 45 caliber pistol and rifle with high capacity magazine to kill 12 (at this writing) and wound several others in a spree that led to an extended firefight with police.  Arming staff at a school won’t protect all government employees across the United States of America, and the renewed conversation regarding suppression devices and high capacity magazines serves to educate the larger public regarding existing (rather stringent) regulation.

I once owned a 45 caliber pistol that came “off the shelf” with threading at the end of the barrel for a suppressor.  Always liked the idea of adding to my comfort when shooting my pistol with a suppressor, but never had discretionary cash to complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms application to obtain one.  I’ve since sold that pistol… miss it, but imagine at some point I will replace it with a semi-auto pistol to enjoy modern enhancements on a newer model … and perhaps a suppressor.  We’ll see. 

I also once owned a 6.5 Creedmoor semi-auto rifle that I purchased so my daughter might enjoy hunting with me—lower recoil of a semi-auto weapon in this caliber was the draw.  The rifle came with a 20-round magazine… I bought several 10-round magazines (probably don’t need higher capacity for hunting deer) and another 20-round magazine.  I was offered a “hi-capacity” 40 round magazine (generally anything over 20 rounds is considered “hi-capacity”) but laughed with the gun store staff about the response of police in some places I’ve lived (“lay the magazine on the ground and put your hands on your head!!!”), when opting out of that purchase.  In my assessment, such magazine laws are silly, even stupid.  The Virginia beach shooter had a 45 pistol (at least 7 round magazine, probably 10) to go with his rifle… a thirty round magazine for the rifle didn’t materially affect the outcome there, and I’d suggest rarely affects the outcome in these kinds of shootings.

How can we endorse more stringent restrictions on suppressors, or magazines, than already exist?  Just as I can’t endorse much of the legislation under consideration in Virginia that just “do something.”  We need to do something helpful—and arming staff and teachers is that something. 

See my blog here (or my book here) for more about my recommendations.

Loudoun Firearms Restrictions

One of the reasons I live in Virginia is the state’s common sense approach to firearms and the 2d Amendment.  Unfortunately, the supervisors in the County where my daughters have lived most of their lives (Loudoun County) have recently taken to 2d Amendment infringement and gun range engineering.

Loudoun County Supervisors BR: LeTourneau, Higgins, Saines, Meyer, Buffington. FR: Volpe, Buona, Randall, Umstattd

This past Tuesday I delivered five copies of “A Citizen’s Guide to Marksmanship” and pictures of Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley and Audie Murphy to the Loudoun County supervisors meeting.  Unfortunately I had to leave early (before my slot to speak arrived).  Evidently the meeting went until well after 1am… reportedly the longest Supervisors’ deliberation in the County’s history.

You can find existing regulation here.

Evidently one of four men fired a machine gun recently, resulting in bullet strikes on several homes.  Certainly cause for concern… and no one was charged in the incident.  I am passionate about responsible gun ownership and handling.  I expect a lot of an  American citizen in general.  

Two Supervisor responses are an issue:  1) “training” to insure gun owners are familiar with the law; and 2) restrictions which specify gun handling and ranges on private property.  

Ignorance of the law is never an excuse in court.  Ignorance of the ballistics of your  firearm is no excuse either…  Without more information regarding the incidents cited above, we can’t comment on whether Loudoun County law enforcement couldn’t confiscate said “machine gun” or otherwise charge one or all persons associated with said firearm with some federal, state or local infraction.

Perhaps I will be able to attend the entire meeting next time.  My first comment, regarding Sitting Bull:  in the event a Loudoun County supervisor wants to place him or herself on the Reservation, so be it, but don’t bring the rest of the county with you.  Regarding little Annie and little Audie:  shooting practice on private lands and, indeed, learning to shoot at an early age, are fundamental to attaining expertise.  Be safe, be responsible.  But let’s not micromanage that process.

Teachers

Policy recommendation:  The Secretary of Education implement an Executive Order whereby  qualified teachers with Gulf War Veteran status are hired above tenured teachers with maximum five veterans hired per school (ie. they may replace tenured teachers in school systems to which they apply).  Such teachers are permitted to secure a personally (or National Guard) owned pistol in a desk safe for use during attack.

Discussion:  A friend posted an article stating that firing a pistol in a real situation “is not like TV.”  I’ve deployed to combat zone twice:  first as an unarmed contractor; second as a battalion commander with M4 “assault rifle” and 9mm pistol.  I opted to  leave my “unarmed” contract  after six months, in part due to a preference to face an armed terrorist with some sort of firearm, rather than without.

I didn’t receive a Combat Action Badge (pictured above), although I was probably close enough to exploding ordinance to receive one, and never discharged a firearm in the direction of an armed assailant.  That said, I participated in (and ran) innumerable training ranges (including “live fire” tactical exercises) where  fire control and avoiding engaging “friendly participants” was integral to success.

Gulf War veterans are trained to handle firearms as a matter of course.  While different units provide different levels of weapons training (unsure Airmen or Sailors receive the same level of firearms training as Marines and Army Soldiers), a teacher who was honorably discharged after serving in Afghanistan or Iraq might prefer to have access to a firearm in the classroom, vice without.

Random firing into a crowd of students (aka Callahan in Dirty  Harry movies) is a bad idea minus incredible marksmanship skills.  I credit a Gulf War vet with the judgment not to do this, and simply suggest an armed teacher pointing a firearm at a kid (all shooters I can think of were untrained and mentally unstable) and commanding him (usually a “him”) to put the gun down, will stop or slow additional shootings.

I will leave  the  conversation about replacing tenured teachers with qualified Gulf War vets to the education professionals, going so far as to say there are tenured teachers in the system that school leadership might be delighted to have retire or leave, and acknowledging the our population of 7 million Gulf War era vets are frequently un- or under-employed… and not because they aren’t qualified.  Let’s get a few  of those vets in the classroom!

 

Mid-course 2017

We are almost half way through 2017 and shootings are up, most prominently one targeting a Congressional Republican baseball practice.  Many of these, like the baseball practice, were visible suicides.  Shooters didn’t  study tactical options, select weapons in an attempt to maximize casualties or even determine in advance who was targeted.

Guns were the  tools, but something else appears to be going on here.  Cries for  help, without the option of life after the event.  The vitriol  of the 2016 Presidential election, or a culture of violence in this country might take the blame, but a general economic malaise along with a new nastiness for the person you are passing in the street…

Smile at someone today.  Bring some cookies to a neighbor.  Provide some employment advice.  Let’s turn this around.  In any event, the game goes on!

Common Sense for Veterans

Congress has been working on a law to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from adding a veteran to the National Instant Criminal  Background Check system without involving a judge or other “due process” step.  A group of senior officers from all services (united in an organization called “Veterans Coalition for Common Sense”) oppose the bill.

Officers like the ones testifying thought it was too risky for many contractors to carry a firearm in Iraq in the mid-2000’s.  DOD hadn’t done a good job of establishing a status of forces agreement, so there was no legal response for a contractor misusing a firearm.  Rather than fix the status of forces agreement, many contracts  simply denied employees access to a weapon.  Problem solved, except for the contractors who were seized and beheaded due to this policy.  I worked under such a contract and  chose to return to the US after spending six months “at risk.”

The generals and admirals are asserting that a concerned mental health professional or VA bureaucrat should have the authority to revoke a veteran’s 2d Amendment rights, in the event the bureaucrat thinks the veteran can’t manage his own finances or is otherwise mentally unstable.   The argument:  such issue reveals a veteran is “mentally defective” and shouldn’t be allowed a firearm.

I have been witness to senior officers talk about “priviledges,” not “rights,” in many cases addressing activities that private citizens cannot  be denied without due process.  While I agree a health professional who believes a patient is at risk to  him/herself  or others, should be able to initiate an efficient process to remove such risk, revocation of a right isn’t a trivial step.  A magistrate MUST be involved, whether the patient is a veteran or not, whether care is received from VA or not.

I’d argue the reason for our high suicide rates among service and former service members isn’t ready access to firearms.  What is the reason, you ask?  The existing law (called Uniform Code of Military Justice) gives too much authority to the military bureaucracy, much as these officers are suggesting for the Veterans Affairs here.  Due process means people are treated with an objective of  fairness under the law, not bureaucratic convenience or “needs of the unit.”   Common sense does not cavalierly disregard hard earned freedoms for the very men and women who gave up many of those freedoms to defend us.