on the military and firearms

Let me tell you a story, though an admittedly dry, boring one. 

Regular readers will know that I am a United States Navy veteran*, and, specifically, a Surface Warfare Officer; in short, this means I directed other people to drive ships around oceans.  However, while ships are in port, they have something called a “quarterdeck”; I have no idea what happens to the quarterdeck when the ship is underway, but think of it like laps – they disappear when you stand up.  In any case, quarterdecks are where the visitors and crew of the ship embark and disembark, and where the only access to and from the ship – the brow – is attached. 

IMG_0216-001On the quarterdeck, you will find a variety of things – the ship’s log, a connection into the 1MC (the ship’s loudspeaker system), the various flags (assuming they are not already flying), and, of course, the Officer of the Deck (OOD) and the Petty Officer of the Watch (POOW).  The Commanding Officer (CO) of a ship is always responsible for the ship**, whether it is in-port or underway, but he cannot always be onboard.  When he is not and the ship is in-port, the Command Duty Officer (CDO) is his appointed representative, and is delegated some of the CO’s authority.  The OOD, on the other hand, operates as the CDO’s representative on the quarterdeck of the ship, with the POOW operating as the OOD’s assistant. 

OODs are responsible for ensuring the overall safety and operation of the ship while in-port – they pass 1MC announcements, sound bells for time progression, keep track of whether an officer is aboard or ashore, act as an interface between shoreside workers and onboard personnel for repair tasks, organize working parties, and check the IDs of persons attempting to access the ship.  Additionally, should the situation arise, OODs and POOWs are the ship’s first line of physical defense while in-port – both carry M9 pistols.  Depending on the ship’s size and threat condition, there can be additional roving/fixed patrols armed with a variety of other weapons, but if someone means to storm the ship, they are coming up the brow… right into the OOD and POOW. 

As a junior officer in the Navy, I stood OOD for four to six hours every six days for the first three years of my career.  Thankfully, all I did for those… countless… hours was check ID cards – there are a few stories I probably will not share, but the upshot is there were no shootouts on any of the ships I served on.  In order to be qualified as an OOD, however, I had to get qualified on the M9. 

Which is a sad story in and of itself. 

“Qualifying” on the M9 consisted of sitting through a presentation given by the Gunnery Mates on how to operate, load, and fire the M9… and then go to the range and shoot the qualifying course.  I was afforded no opportunity to practice, familiarize myself with the firearm, or do anything except get in front of the qualifying target and hope for the best.  Thankfully, I managed to qualify as a “Sharpshooter” (meaning I scored somewhere between 204 and 227 out of 240)… and that was the last time I ever fired that ugly-arsed POS in the Navy. 

400deckportholeHowever, despite the… lacking… “training” I received on that particular firearm***, the Navy, from my Department Head on up, trusted me to carry an M9 in Condition 2 with 45 rounds of ammunition in Pascagoula, Mayport, Ingleside, Norfolk, San Diego, Panama City, Manta, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Darwin, Brisbane, and other ports I am sure I am forgetting. 

Do you know what the Navy did not trust me to do, however?  The Navy did not trust me to carry a firearm off duty, or on the ship any time I was not on watch.  While I was stationed in Mayport, FL, I possessed a Florida CCW permit; if I dared to bring a firearm onto base, concealed or otherwise, and it was discovered, I would have been up on serious, federal charges and/or court martial. 

I satisfied the Floridian requirements for peacefully, responsible carrying a handgun in the state.  I satisfied the military requirements for carrying a handgun on watch.  It is even worth noting that I received and maintained a Department of Defense Secret clearance during my time in.  But if I were to go out into Jacksonville, purchase the same handgun, stick it in the same craptacular holster the military used, and carry it onto the base as a personal firearm, the reaction I would have received would have been… one I would rather not be on the receiving end of. 

Because that makes sense. 

So, yes, military bases are “gun-free zones”, in that private citizens cannot carry personal firearms onto them, just like every other “gun-free zone” in existence.  A lot of folks have been blaming President BJ Clinton for that particular rule, but the oldest thing I have found is Department of Defense Directive Number 5210.56 (*.pdf warning), dated 25FEB92, which states: 

It is DoD Policy to limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel.  The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried. 

It is worth noting this directive supersedes DoD Directive 5210.66, “Carrying of Firearms by DoD Personnel”, dated 17MAR86. 

DSCF4971-001Yes, military bases have gate guards – bases have between one and 10+ gates, with anywhere between two and 10+ guards (typically rent-a-cops of various types; we generally stopped using Marines at base gates long ago) per gate – and they might have some sort of roving patrol, but even that is not guaranteed (Pascagoula did not, and Mayport did not as far as I am aware).  However, once an aggressor were to penetrate the outer shell of security afforded by those gate guards, there is no immediate second layer of defense – calls would have to be made, forces would have to be mobilized, and all the while, service members and their civil service counterparts are… well, screwed. 

Why not allow service members to be their own second layer of security?  After all, you are your own first responder, and you are the only person legally or morally responsible for your own safety.  And, realistically, a vast number of military members – predominantly Marines and Army, granted, but more and more Air Force and Navy, thanks to the Individual Augmentation program – have received significantly more firearm-related training, if not real-world experience, than your average beat cop that would respond to a “mass shooting” event.  Why not allow them to put that training and experience to work, rather than be forced to “shelter in place”**** and wish they had ammunition?   

Oh, right, because the political points garnered by continuing the myth that “gun-free zones” victim disarmament zones work is more important than anyone’s life, military or not.  It is well past time for us to realize criminals do not obey signs, and disarming peaceful citizens only helps facilitate those who would prey on them. 

(* – And, thankfully, free of any and all legal, moral, or contractual obligations to the military, which means I can say whatever I want about it now. 

** – Barring two unique circumstances; can anyone name them? 

*** – That “training” is why I went out and purchased my very first firearm and then got interested in the firearm-owning community, ending up with this weblog right here.  So, thank the Navy?

**** – Can you imagine the Founding Father’s responses to the military – much less any American citizen – being ordered to “shelter in place”?  Good grief.)

(Image of me on the deck of the Cleveland shamelessly stolen from the Brisbane Times.) 

you should read this guy

After almost two years of absence, Reputo is back, and is hard at work making up for my laziness regarding statistics and hard numbers. First off, he looks at the actual monetary costs of the various school-safety solutions floated thus far, then the costs in terms of crime, and finally the specious notion that saving one life is worth any cost, closing with a positively epic quote:

Some like to point to England with their 50 gun murders a year as an example for the US to follow. Really, so you would be satisfied if the US only had 300 gun murders (adjusted up for population)? Say that to yourself, "I would be satisfied with 300 gun murders a year." I wouldn’t be, I want 0 murders. Would you be willing to trade more violence (but less death) in the US for a lower number of gun murders? Kids being maimed by a psycho with a molotov cocktail is preferable? Even if it is 10 times as many kids? Sorry, that logic defies my understanding. It is a comparison that a rational person cannot make. Trading one for the other is not fair, regardless of the multiplier you apply. I want less crime (I care not whether it is committed with a gun or with bare hands). So I continue to research ways that we have reduced crime and advocate those (surprisingly, probably the largest decrease in crime has nothing to do with our control, but involves the relative population size of 15-29 year old males to the rest of the country).

Likewise, I cannot understand the mentality that would be willing to trade X murders for Y rapes/assaults/batteries/etc., and have said as much in the past, but the average anti-rights cultists out there seem to believe this would be a perfectly reasonable, rational exchange to make… as if the decision was theirs to make at all. I am not in the habit of putting value on human lives, and those who do so are only trying to figure out how best to balance out yours.

Coincidentally, my father was just speaking a few nights ago about a 100% guaranteed-to-work solution to stopping almost all school shootings, mass shootings, and probably mass murders in general – ban all males under the age of 30 (given the premise that 99% of the perpetrators of those crimes fall in that demographic). Hey, if it saves one life, it must be worth it, right? He is at least willing to hold off on the ban until my birthday later this year…

Not content to leave it there, however, Reputo goes on to look at NY’s new laws, old laws, and the ineffectiveness of both, complete with a challenge to the "gun control" extremists out there:

But don’t we need to do something? Why? If whatever we are proposing to do has already been shown to be ineffective, why burden the government with more laws to enforce or burden the people with more laws to break. But, what if one life were saved? One life hasn’t been saved. There is no evidence that gun control has helped the crime situation. If you think that one life will be saved, show me the evidence.

I echo his sentiments – if there is actual, concrete, verifiable data indicating that "gun control" has a salutary impact on crime rates, then present it, and let us have a look at it*. Otherwise, kindly sit down and shut up; the adults are talking.

(* – Note: given the increasing dataset of crime rates, population trends, and countless other variables, the distinct and marked lack of any causal evidence of the efficacy of "gun control" in reducing crime is starting to look like evidence of absence.)

all i am going to say

Do not expect much of a post from me about the shooting at the school in Newtown, CT last Friday; I, for one, do not believe in using the blood of victims as a fuel to further my political goals, unlike your average "gun control" fetishist. My thoughts and prayers are unquestionably with the families of those killed in this horrific crime, though, and if you do want something to read, you should read this.

I will say this much: "gun control" failed those children. Connecticut has an "assault weapon" ban. It did not work. Schools are "gun-free zones". That magical forcefield did not work. It is illegal to carry a handgun in Connecticut in public without a license. That did not stop the murderer. The teachers and principal of the elementary school were disarmed by the force of law. Even though at least one of them tried to resist, he lacked the tools to do so effectively.

And yet, despite the abject and complete failure of "gun control", the answer is… more "gun control"? How does that even begin to make sense?

More to the point, how does it make sense to punish millions of law-abiding American citizens because one person chose to become a criminal? I am not responsible for other people’s actions. I am not accountable for other people’s actions. As such, I refuse to be punished for those actions. At least the asshole murderer (who shall remain nameless on this site, for reasons well-documented here) took care of his own punishment for us.

And one final comment: "gun control" remains racist, even to this day. Every month, Chicago sees more firearm-related fatalities than transpired in Newtown on Friday, with the overwhelming majority of the victims being of darker skin tones. "Gun control" extremists never seem to care about those people, though (probably because such caring would be something of a tacit admission that the draconian "gun control" in Chicago is not working out so well for the city). Likewise, we will probably never know how many thousands of Mexicans, and possibly Americans, were killed with firearms the federal government smuggled across the border into Mexico as part of Operation Fast and Furious. Unfortunately, anti-rights cultists do not seem to care about brown victims.

But give those blood-dancing, victim-exploiting vampires a school full of lily-white children murdered by someone using a firearm, and all of a sudden, it is "GAME ON!" (Yes, there were minorities represented amongst the Sandy Hook shooting victims, but there were also whites shot in Chicago; the point stands.) I do not think I can adequately describe my contempt for such people.

In the end, I hate that these children were murdered, but I also hate that people like Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who attempted to stop the murderer bare-handed, were prohibited from employing tools that have a recorded history of stopping spree- and mass-shooters. "Gun free zones" demonstrably do not work, and only create an environment where mass-murderers know they will not encounter any kind of armed, effective resistance. How about we give up on a failed program and try something else?

not a value judgement

Hypothetical time:

Say a lone gunman walks into a local Wal-Mart at 0100 on Black Friday when the store is at the most packed it is likely to be that year. Say he walks up to one of the floor managers and empties a magazine into the man’s chest, for whatever reason. Say two on-the-ball private citizens who happened to be lawfully carrying sidearms at this Wal-Mart made the hard decision and stopped the threat posed by the gunman before he had the opportunity to shoot anyone else. Say, in the process of doing so, one concealed carrier discharges nine rounds and the other seven. Say nine of those shots hit the gunman, killing him, while three more shots hit bystanders and six other people were wounded by fragments from the bullets or the things they were hitting (this sums to more than 16 rounds due to overpenetrating bullets).

Can you imagine the hell those concealed carriers would be in afterwards? They would be facing countless charges apiece, ranging from "reckless endangerment" all the way up to various flavors of murder or manslaughter depending on the mood of the prosecutor and would probably go directly to jail, do not pass go, immediately after the cops arrived and controlled the situation. To pile on top of that, the anti-rights cultists would be dancing in the blood of the wounded victims, proclaiming this to be "proof" that no one should be trusted with carrying a firearm around in public, and they would be tallying up those casualties as further "gun violence" "victims" to exploit in the future.

With that hypothetical situation fresh in your mind, what do you think will happen to the two NYPD officers who shot down the Empire State Building shooter, and who wounded nine other people in the process? Specifically, how do you think their consequences will differ from an average citizen in similar circumstances?

Like others, I am not going to come out swinging for or against the NYPD, but I am going to say that if the police officers do not face similar consequences that a private citizen would if he or she had just done the same exact thing (and you and I both know they will not), there is something very broken in the system.

But you already knew that.

you are your own first responder

Here is an interesting graphic for your weekend contemplation: 

policecivilianshootingrampage

And, no, I am not just pulling those numbers out of my ass; Davi Barker of The Daily Anarchist analyzed 29 mass shootings from 1949 forward and came up with that comparison.  Go ahead and take a look at his methodology; while I actually agree with the measures he took to ensure he was comparing apples to apples as much as possible, I still feel the sample size is a bit small to draw any serious, earth-shattering conclusions. 

That said, the notion that on-scene civilians can stop rampage shooters faster than the cops can only makes sense.  After all, those civilians are already present at the scene of the shooting, they are already aware of the pertinent details (like, say, who the shooter is and where he is), and they are only a scant few feet from the shooter, rather than miles.  Add to that the simple fact that the police have no duty or obligation to protect individual citizens, and the fact that more and more police departments’ standard operating procedures for spree/mass/rampage shooters seems to be “hold back until we have overwhelming force and then maybe move in and do something”, and the reason behind those wildly disparate numbers above suddenly become clear. 

I would, of course, stress that “makes sense” is not equivalent to “true”, but time will tell whether Davi’s hypothesis holds up. 

Tenuous though his conclusions may be, this question is an outstanding one for the “gun control” extremists, though: 

So, given that far less people die in rampage shootings stopped by a proactive civilian, only civilians have any opportunity to stop rampage shootings in roughly half of incidents, and armed civilians do better on average than unarmed civilians, wouldn’t you want those heroic individuals who risk their lives to save others to have every tool available at their disposal?

Citizens fighting back immediately rather than waiting around for police response seems to work out far better for the citizens, but when you compare armed self-defense to unarmed self-defense, the casualty numbers are 1.8 versus 2.6; given that one of the favorite arguments of anti-rights cultists is that “gun control” is worth it if it saves Just One Life, it would seem to me that encouraging law-abiding citizens to lawfully carry if they are interested in doing so could save Just One Life in rampage shooting scenarios as well (so long as you are willing to round up slightly). 

Furthermore, to take his point a bit farther, assuming Davi’s point is anywhere near accurate or in the ballpark, and given that anti-rights organizations across the board universally encourage people to not fight back (and have done so for decades) and instead wait for the police to arrive, well, that only substantiates my point that “gun control” extremists want firearm-related fatalities, does it not?  “Gun control” aids and abets violent criminals by rendering their prey defenseless, but encouraging people “give them what they want” and not to fight back goes beyond “aiding and abetting” into the realm of “encouraging”. 

Mass / spree / rampage shootings are unquestionably horrible things and those responsible for them should be punished to the utmost level possible (for example, the military is pursuing the death penalty in the case of the Fort Hood shooter, and rightly so), but the honest truth is that your odds of stopping them before they act are so stupidly small as to be unworthy of notice.  However, fighting back once the shooter has decided to act, and especially fighting back armed, seems to work out better in the end for you and most folks around you. 

So fight back.  If you are able and willing to carry a gun, do so everywhere you are legally allowed to.  If you do not carry a gun, understand that everything around you is a potential weapon, and learn, or at least consider, how best to employ it against someone attacking you.  And, finally, do not allow the Brady Campaign, CSGV, VPC, and various other anti-rights organizations to deprive you of arguably the best way to defend yourself and your family.

(Note:  I heartily disagree with the distinction between “police” and “civilian”; unless the police officer in question is a reservist or in some other way bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he is a civilian, just like you or me.  However, that is the terminology Davi used, and that is the terminology most news sources use, so that is what we are stuck with.) 

heroes walk amongst us

… Every day.

The murders and shootings that transpired in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado less than a week ago were unquestionably horrific and tragic, but the honest truth is that one person and one person alone bears the full responsibility and accountability for those events: the shooter behind the guns. The movie theater is not responsible for the shootings (though they are responsible for forcing their customers to remain defenseless while on their property). The movie producers are not responsible. The movie itself is not responsible. The NRA is not responsible. Gun owners are not responsible. The people who sold this murderous scumbag his guns/ammunition/accessories are not responsible.

Only the person who pulled the triggers is responsible for the deaths and injuries resulting from that action.

As such, Christian Bale was under absolutely no compunction to do this, but it shows the depth of his class that he did:

Christian Bale, star of the last three Batman films, met at the Medical Center of Aurora on Tuesday afternoon with seven patients injured in the mass shooting that occurred during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Hospital interim president Bill Voloch said Bale spent about 2½ hours at the hospital, where he met with five people being treated for their injuries. Two others came from Swedish Medical Center to meet Bale, who stars as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

[…]

Bale and his wife, Sibi Blazic, also met with a number of doctors, Aurora police officers and emergency medical technicians who were first responders when [name redacted] allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 others at Century Aurora 16 theater early Friday. Bale spent about 10 minutes with each person.

[…]

Voloch said Bale notified hospital officials that he wanted to visit the injured but asked that media not be notified. "He just wanted to meet with victims and police."

That last part is key for me; he did not make this visit because he wanted the publicity and good-will it would unquestionably generate, he made this visit because he wanted to provide what support and comfort he could to those who suffered or helped those in suffering. In other words, this was not about him, it was about them.

For a product of Hollywood, that is pretty awesome.

However, the awesome does not stop there. Predictably, "gun control" extremists have been unabashedly dancing in the blood of the Aurora victims, trying to exploit this tragedy to generate support for their own failed policies. The good news is that despicable profiteering has not been working, and the better news is some of the victims* have rightfully shown that blood-dancing for what it is:

Michael Eric Dyson, guest host on MSNBC’s Ed Show: Do you think that there should be a push for tighter gun laws given the horror that you just endured and how it has impacted you personally? Do you feel compelled to push for tighter gun laws?

Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim Jessica Ghawi: Here’s the thing, we can try to politicize this and make some sort of polarizing debate and make this a tenet of the election, but that’s not what we’re here to do right now. We’re here to celebrate the lives of the victims that have been lost.

If somebody wants to do harm to somebody, they’re going to find a way to do it. Whether it be with a weapon, such as a rifle or whether it be with any sort of means we should actually start to think about why people are doing this. And the reason why they’re doing this is because they want their names out there.

Again, it is that last part that is key, and that is exactly why the Aurora theater shooter’s name will never be written on this site, even though doing so would unquestionably help my Google Page Rank or whatever that thingie is called these days.

The Aurora murderer did not kill all of those people because of the guns, or because he was "misunderstood", or even because he had a personal grudge/vendetta against one of the movie-goers; as his court hearing all-but confirmed, he killed all of those folks simply because he wanted the fame, and I will be damned if I provide that to him. Furthermore, as Mr. Ghawi points out, given the complexity, scale, and bloody-mindedness behind the booby traps the shooter left behind in his apartment, people were going to die that night, regardless of whether the Aurora murderer used a firearm, a bomb, or a can of gasoline and a length of chain. He had decided he was going to kill folks, and that is that.

But we are not done yet; the real bad-ass is Mr. Justin Davis:

Less than one day after he escaped the chaos and carnage of the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting, lifelong Batman fan Justin Davis was back at the movies with a sense of purpose.

Davis, 16, was accompanied by his brother and a friend to a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a different Colorado movie theater.

“I just want to finish it, and for all those men, women and children that didn’t get to finish it, I want to finish it for them,” he said.

Why did he go back to the movies? Because f*ck you. Or, more specifically, f*ck the theater shooter, which is exactly the right attitude to take. The more you deviate from your normal pattern, the more you do not do things you would have done otherwise, the more you succumb to fear, the more the scumbag murderer gets exactly what he wanted, and I very much doubt any of us want to appease that particular waste of space. So screw him. Go about your life, do what you were going to do anywise, and do not give a psychopathic murderer the satisfaction of having people who may be walking around, but are still "victims" rather than "survivors".

Yes, some spineless lowlifes are trampling all over the memories and suffering of those murdered and wounded during the Aurora shooting, and while they should be ashamed of themselves, the seem to lack the capacity to do so or recognize what they are doing is wrong; however, more importantly, there are a non-zero number of folks who are willing to stand up and be identified as Americans who are unafraid of mentally warped murderers and who know that banning the tool those murderers use is going to change nothing. I have no respect for the former, but, thankfully, the latter balances things out.

(* – And, yes, Jordan Ghawi is as much a victim of "gun violence" as Joan Peterson is, with as much moral authority to boot (if not moreso, since he has not demonstrated a remarkable propensity for lying and a rather disturbing psychological unbalancedness).)

caliber beats candle

Regular readers should be intimately familiar with my belief that, in general, people tend to learn better through pictures than through explanations. Of course, given my occasional wall-o’-text posts, I frequently fail at applying that belief to real-world scenarios, but, in my defense, I have crafted more than a few posts showing the failure of "gun control" graphically rather than textually.

Today’s exercise in visual learning, however, comes by way of Joe Huffman and Barron Barnett, along with a helpful cast of fellow like-minded folks who are only interested in what works:

An explanation of the stage design is important. The brown target in the distance represents a "bad guy". The white targets represent innocent people. When scored only hits on the bad guy counted and hits on the innocent were heavily penalized. When the scores have been reported I’ll make anther post. I think I might have won this stage. I had a good time with five A-zone hits, one C-zone hit and no hits on the no-shoot targets.

The instructions to the shooter were:

Start position: Facing up-range holding a candle with both hands. Gun is in a concealed carry state.
Course of fire: Upon signal drop candle, turn, draw, and engage T1 with six rounds. Comstock scoring.

This stage design was to simulate the January 8th 2011 shooting in Tucson. It was this event which the Brady Campaign wanted to bring attention to. This was to stimulate political interest in more gun laws.

Candles (and fire in general) are great for memorials. Candles are great for churches. Candles are great for ambiance. Candles are so-so for emergency situations (given the increasing efficiency of flashlights). But candles are pretty much one of the worst tools one could use to defend one’s self, and, as such, will do absolutely nothing to stop "gun violence", or violence in general.

On the other hand, by reducing criminals’ recidivism rates to zero, an armed, trained, and willing population of law-abiding citizens stand a very good chance of making a significant impact on violence in general without having to resort to such tactics as guilt-tripping people who have committed no crimes or memorializing the rightful deaths of murders, rapists, and other criminals.

You are, of course, more than welcome to defend your family and yourself however you see fit, and by whatever means you feel comfortable with, and I wish you the very best of luck with whatever those methods are, and I sincerely hope you never have to call upon them. However, unless I am directly harming another person against their will, you have absolutely no right to dictate to me what methods I may or may not use to keep my family and me safe, and I tend to look very dimly upon those who would disarm me in the face of criminals who do prey upon us.

Live your life as you like, and leave the rest of us to do the same in peace. Why is that so hard for criminals and "gun control" extremists alike?