sadly, not a new concept

A little while ago, I posted this quote on the Twitters: 

Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit: occidentis telum est.

To which Robb Allen responded

That quote was from the National Sword Association, bought & paid for by the swordsmith lobby!

On the surface, that is an all-too-appropriate characterization of how anti-rights cultist treat any argument that boils down to “blame the person not the tool”, but think about the larger concept for a second. 

You know that people – not the tools they happen to be using at the time – are responsible for their own actions.  I know this.  Any sane person knows this.  But we still have people, even to this “modern” day, who blame the object, not the wielder. 

And, as Seneca the Younger there demonstrates, this is not a new concept – after all, apparently it needed to be said, even back around 50 AD. 

Think about that for a second; nearly 2000 years have elapsed since Seneca last picked up his pen, but we are still saddled, both legislatively and culturally, with the positively bizarre notion that objects are to blame for people’s actions, or objects cause people to act in certain ways, or so forth.  For all that we consider ourselves modern, our society certainly has not matured very much past fetishists being terrified of little clay idols. 

well that is a little unsettling

So my house security system false alarmed a few days back, and I was on the work line when the monitoring company called my cell phone, so I could not tell them not to send the police. Once I looked up the phone number and verified they were a monitoring company, and then checked the web interface for my alarm system, I scrambled back home and arrived about the same time as the patrol car did. Externally, the house appeared fine, but since the police officer was already there, I figured it would not hurt to have/let him help with the clearing of the house – after all, he has that training.

No entryways were broken into, no windows were smashed, and nothing was so much as moved out of location; given that it was the basement motion sensor that went off, the cats might have managed to trip it, but it is supposedly capable of discriminating out anything under 50 pounds, and they do not mass that collectively. This is the third time the system has false-alarmed in our three years of home ownership, which I guess is not bad, but it is getting a bit annoying.

However, the police officer did have a few borderline-snarky things to say about my carry firearms laying around on top of my dresser (just as well he did not see the ones in the dresser), and, in fairness, he has a point. My safe in the basement might slow down a dedicated thief, but just laying hardware out in the open is certainly no deterrence at all.

By the same token, I am not going to disarm my bedroom entirely, nor am I going to bother tromping down to the basement every time I get dressed or undressed on the weekends, nor do I have anywhere acceptable to install a full-size gun safe in the master bedroom.

Which only leaves "bedside" or "handgun" safes. Which is a problem. Why? The majority of bedside / handgun safes are functionally worthless and can arguably be broken into by anyone with the most rudimentary of skills and tools. Now, in reality, unless we are talking about a four-figure safe bolted to a concrete slab, any given "safe" merely keeps the honest people honest, and keeps the idle, inquisitive types out, so the question becomes, "How much do you want to delay someone getting in?" I do not have kids, but I do have a rather noisy alarm system with a police response time of around 20 minutes, so the general idea would be to secure the handguns until the alarm convinced the criminals to leave; securing them until the police arrive is a bit unrealistic for this scenario.

So, what are the safe company recommendations? Are some companies safes less easy to pop open than others? And, if so, how hard it is it to get into in the middle of the night with the alarm waking me up? I would prefer a safe that does not require a key for entry – remembering where the key is, much less keeping it in a safe spot, just adds to the complexity – and while rotary dial safes are not high on my list either for accessibility, it seems they might be necessary for the "security" standpoint.


(Note: I completely and totally repudiate the specious notion that, if my firearms were to be stolen, I would be responsible for the criminal "being able" to do so. The simple fact is that by closing and locking my house, I have secured my firearms – if someone breaks into my house and relieves me of my property, whatever that property is, the thief is singularly and exclusively responsible for his actions. The other simple fact is that no home safe will stop a person interested in getting into it; the safe may slow the person down – which, after all, is the entire point of security – but this is one of the core problems with "safe storage" laws: the eventually result in you not being allowed to keep your firearms at home, period. I am only pursuing smaller safes now because I rather like the firearms I have accumulated, and I would hate to go to the trouble of replacing them.

All that said, I would point out that a single one of my ammunition cans is worth more, these days, than some/all of my firearms individually, and could be just as disastrous in the wrong hands. Strangely, you never see folks advocating much for the safe storage of that…)

quote of the day – h. beam piper

For words written in 1963, they surely do resonate poignantly today:

You were there; you saw what’s happening. The barbarians are rising; they have a leader, and they’re uniting. Every society rests on a barbarian base. The people who don’t understand civilization, and wouldn’t like it if they did. The hitchhikers. The people who create nothing, and who don’t appreciate what others have created for them, and who think civilization is something that just exists and that all they need to do is enjoy what they can understand of it—luxuries, a high living standard, and easy work for high pay. Responsibilities? Phooey! What do they have a government for?

Tell me the situation Mr. Piper describes above is not happening around us right now. Oh, sure, the hitchhikers – or looters, to use another terminology – do not have one, single, individual leader, aside from Our Glorious President himself, but the rest of it… tell me that is not what you see going on around the edges right now? Crap on a crutch; there is a distressingly non-zero percentage of people in "modern" society who do not understand, at all, how the water in their sink came to be there, and all of the necessary steps, technology, and technicians necessary for it to arrive… but you can bet your bottom dollar that if it were to ever stop arriving, they would be up in arms, demanding that Someone Fix It. Those people may not be barbarians in the wearing-fur-skins-and-beating-down-the-gates, traditional sense of the word, but how long do you think it would take them to reach that level if the lights really were to go out?

I need to stop reading old-school science fiction. The prognostication abilities of these writers is a bit too uncanny for the engineer in me to accept.

presented without comment


(Image found by way of The Smallest Minority, original source unknown. The "flag" being portrayed is a representation of the "flag" the Obama campaign developed back in September. The names are the four people who were murdered in the attack on the Benghazi consulate.)

case in point for park carry

And this is why folks like me lobbied our federal government to respect our individual rights to self-defense inside of arbitrarily-defined invisible borders:

Authorities say a woman was stabbed and sexually assaulted Friday afternoon on a trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The suspect fled the scene.

The incident was reported to park officials at 2:43 p.m. The 44-year-old victim was stabbed multiple times while she was on the Gatlinburg Trail. She made her way from the trail to Highway 441 and flagged down a visitor, who reported the incident.

Up until a few years ago, National Parks were victim disarmament zones… er… "gun-free zones", but, to my knowledge, they have never been "knife-free zones" or "penis-free zones", and even if they were, do you really think such signs or legislation would stop the kind of person who would repeatedly stab and sexually assault a woman on a park trail?

Even worse, this was not some backwoods trace in the middle of nowhere – this was a mostly (entirely?) paved, heavily-trafficked trail between the main Smoky Mountains visitor center at Sugarlands and Gatlinburg itself, the trail is never more than a few hundred yards from the primary road through the Park, and the attack took place in the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight. This may or may not have been an "isolated incident", as the authorities are trying to make it out to be, but it sure as hell did not take place in an isolated area – there are trails where the distance to the nearest road is measured in miles, and the number of people traveling them a day could be counted without having to take off your shoes; how long do you think it would take help to come there?

Now, am I trying to say that if this woman was carrying a firearm, she would have emerged from this incident unscathed, or in better shape than she is in today? Of course not. I have no way of knowing how the situation went down, if there was any way to alter its course of events, or if the introduction of a weapon of any type would have been sufficient to defuse it. But the possibility that a lawfully-carried firearm could have helped her remain safe and unmolested unquestionably exists, and to coin a phrase, "if it saves one life…"

Already folks are gearing up with pepper spray before heading off into the wilderness, and while that will deter some criminals, I would stress that it is not 100% effective, and would strongly suggest considering a more-proven tool for ensuring your safety, especially if you are hiking alone.

I sincerely wish we lived in a world where such precautions were unnecessary, but the honest truth is that we do not – criminals exist amongst us every day, and will prey upon us if we given them so much as a glimmer of opportunity. Take whatever measures you feel are necessary to keep you and yours safe, but understand that you and only you are responsible for your own safety, and should something befall you that you were not prepared for, "crawling to a nearby roadway for help" might almost be considered a best-case scenario.

(And this is all without even mentioning the threats and hazards of the four-legged predators who also make the Great Smoky Mountains their homes…)

it is a good start

But only a start. In a just world, I would be happy about this photo:


Perhaps not ecstatic – simply because that dollar value is tremendously low for the scope of the abridgements of Constitutionally-protected rights perpetrated by the city of Chicago – but at least happy.

But this is not a just world. And instead of those people whose names grace the bottom of the check being the ones who have actually pay it, the people of the city of Chicago are the ones on the hook for having to fork over that cash.

After a fashion, that does make sense – after all, they elected into office those scumbags who had no respect for the individual rights of American citizens – but not all of the people having to foot this bill voted for Emanuel, and not all of them support him now, and they are all getting screwed alike.

Until such time as cities, states, and nations hold politicians individually, personally responsible for their official actions, things like this will always grate on me. Sure, they beat the alternative of allowing our individual rights to be ground into dust under the color of "law", but they really are not doing anything to fix the actual problems, only addressing the symptoms.

learning from others

Over a year ago, we had our first documented incident of an open carrier potentially being targeted for a robbery due to his openly carrying a firearm.

Last week provided us the first example of an open carrier probably being killed by his own firearm:

Tyler, a customer at the BP station, was killed about 8:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, inside the store. According to court papers, Smith and Hamiel arrived at the BP together on a single scooter and followed Tyler into the store.

Tyler, 48, had a concealed-carry permit, but his handgun was plainly visible that night in his holster, Johnson said.

"The suspects walk in and one immediately reached for Mr. Tyler’s gun," Johnson said. Tyler did not draw his weapon.

According to court papers, Smith took Tyler’s gun during a struggle and shot Tyler in the chest after the victim chased Smith inside the store. Authorities said they could not confirm that Tyler was killed with his own gun until they get the results of forensics testing.

I am not going to discuss the merits of open carry vs. concealed carry or whatever else immediately springs to mind in this particular post, but, suffice to say, if you see this unfortunate incident as a reason to outlaw open carry, or even attempt to socially stigmatize it, you are an idiot.

Instead, I am going to do something that will probably piss off those kind-hearted folks who believe that no ill should ever be spoken of the dead, so if you are one of those people, you should probably skip this post in its entirety. You see, in the course of this disastrous chain of events, Mr. Blaine Tyler made two mistakes, which, when combined together, proved to be fatal.

First, Mr. Tyler failed to maintain situational awareness. From the news report, all indications are that Smith followed Mr. Tyler into the gas station, and thus was behind the open carrier and out of his direct field of vision. However, being the eyes-forward predators we are, nature has gifted us with a remarkably flexible neck, providing us the opportunity to keep an eye on situations to either side of and behind us. Maybe Mr. Tyler was in a hurry. Maybe Mr. Tyler had other things on his mind. But if there is one thing steaming around for a couple of years on the ocean has taught me, it is that a single mistake can kill, and will do so if you give it half a chance.

As people who carry firearms, and especially as people who openly carry firearms, it is incumbent upon us to be mindful of our surroundings and know what is going on around us – the best fights are those you simply avoid, and if you are forced into defending yourself, you want to know what are safe(r) directions to shoot. Typically, if I am openly carrying in public, my head is on a swivel and my arm, or at least my elbow, is resting on the firearm at my hip. Will that be enough to save me? Hard to say. Was Mr. Tyler doing something similar when he was attacked? Again, hard to say. But it is fairly likely he did not see the attack coming, and that is one of the first tenets of self-defense – you actually have to know about the attack in order to successfully defend yourself from it.

Secondly, Mr. Tyler made the inarguably poor decision to pursue the thug who just divested him of his firearm. He knew the criminal was violent, he knew the criminal was armed, and he knew that he was now disarmed, but rather than call the police – people who are paid, sworn, and trained to pursue violent, armed criminals – he decided to take that burden upon himself. Unfortunately for him, this worked out about as well as you might expect. It is entirely likely, and even understandable, that Mr. Tyler felt responsible for the criminal making off with his firearm, or indignant, or angry, or it was simply the reflexive reaction to a person taking something away from another person. However, chasing after an armed-and-dangerous thug while being relatively unarmed yourself, and immediately after an altercation with the thug in question, is pretty much a Very Bad Idea (TM) no matter how you cut it.

Hell, chasing after armed criminals even while being armed is not something we, as private citizens, should be doing (and, no, that is not my way of saying There Ought To Be A Law against such things, just me acknowledging that most non-police individuals lack the training, skillsets, and backup necessary to effectively and safely accomplish that risky task).

Mr. Tyler’s death is unquestionably unfortunate, and the responsibility for that murder rests exclusively and totally with his murderer (in this case, that person is likely to be Toby Smith, but he has not yet been convicted); however, his death provides datapoints we would be fools not to learn from.