Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Louisiana's Strict Scrutiny Starts To Come To Life

By Dave Dargo

An article in the Advocate has an interesting lead-in:
Amid the growing confusion over whether Louisiana's litany of gun crimes violates its residents' turborcharged right to bear arms, the state Supreme Court has decided it will try to settle one of the most consequential questions: Does it remain constitutional to charge a person with a high-grade felony for having a gun at the same time as illegal drugs, no matter what kind of drugs or how much?
The case centers around Rico Webb, a 22-year-old who was caught with a marijuana cigarette and a gun. The amount of pot Rico was caught with would have resulted in a misdemeanor drug charge. The gun Rico was caught with was perfectly legal. The combination of the gun with the pot gave the prosecutor the opportunity to charge Rico, who has no previous criminal record, with a felony subject to a mandatory 5-10 year prison sentence with no possibility of parole.

This case centers around a fairly new Louisiana State Constitution amendment overwhelmingly passed by the citizens of the state. That constitutional amendment requires all gun laws must withstand a strict scrutiny analysis when challenged. I've written about strict scrutiny before. Strict scrutiny requires the government prove a law serves a compelling government interest and it is so narrowly defined that there is no less restrictive way of achieving that interest.

I believe that all laws should face strict scrutiny; there should be no law passed that fails to serve a compelling government interest and there should be no way to achieve that interest in a narrower manner. I believe in the presumption of liberty.

The Advocate's article attempts to equate the values of those who would argue for and against Louisiana's constitutional requirement that gun laws be subject to strict scrutiny in the state's courts. The article claims, "...[the amendment] goes far past the protections offered by the U.S. Constitution," as if that was a problem.

Firstly, it's not a problem to offer greater protections for personal liberty than those recognized by the federal government and, secondly, the people certainly have a right to weigh their own interests and strike a balance between government oversight and personal liberty. The amendment passed with 74 percent support.

Perhaps aiding in that support was the recognition that the government did not understand the interest balancing approach preferred by the people when:

  • The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in State v. Blanchard in 2001 that the state is entitled to restrict the right to keep and bear arms for legitimate state purposes, such as public health and safety and required only a "rational basis" for the law.
  • Over 1,000 firearms were seized from residents after Katrina
  • A police superintendent in New Orleans announced that nobody but police would have guns
  • A deputy police chief in New Orleans said the police would take all the weapons and no one would be allowed to have any
Could it be that the people of Louisiana had had enough and performed the very interest-balancing exercise envisioned by the founders of the nation?

In another article in the Advocate from November, Stephanie Grace claims that Governor Jindal was, "trying to protect Louisiana gun owners from some vague possibility of a threat to their 'freedom'."  The examples listed above were no vague threat and the people of Louisiana deserve credit for recognizing that fact.

It is likely that many of Louisiana's gun laws will fall as a result of this fairly new constitutional amendment. That is a good thing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Far Will You Allow The Government To Probe You?

By Dave Dargo

I remember when I was six or seven years old and was allowed to take my first solo bicycle ride to the store. Before I left, my father pulled me aside and cautioned me not to answer any questions from the police. I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out why I wouldn't answer any questions. It's not as if I had anything to hide.

But as I grew up the subject became more and more interesting to me and I still find interest in reading news stories about people who should have heard and headed my father's advice.

These days, though, it's not just about remaining silent. There are more and more stories about government authorities out and out lying in order to perform what would otherwise be illegal searches. There are more stories about the government using bribes, coercion and force to get people to do things they wouldn't rationally do - if they were to take a moment and think rationally about what was happening.

I saw some stories yesterday that made my blood boil - just as much about what the government was doing but also about what citizens were accepting as government intrusion into their daily lives.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The right against unreasonable search and seizure would exist without the 4th amendment. The 4th amendment is merely a reminder to the government that they are not permitted to violate that right.

This all started with an article out of Fort Worth, Texas about drivers being stopped at a police roadblock in order to gather samples of breath, saliva and blood.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is spending about $8 million over three years on a survey to find out how many people are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They claim the survey is completely voluntary.

If you read this story, however, you will find that police officers had set up a roadblock and forced all drivers off the road and into a parking lot where they could "volunteer" their bodily fluid.

Let's start with a simple fact: It is a seizure when the police stop you. If the police stop you for any reason they have seized you. When the police stopped people in Forth Worth they were seizing them.

Once directed into the parking lot the drivers were offered $10 for a DNA collection via cheek swab and $50 for a blood sample.

I couldn't believe what I was reading. I couldn't believe that police officers were seizing people and asking them to "volunteer" to participate in the study and I couldn't believe that people were "voluntarily" giving their bodily fluids over to the government.

I was curious about the study and searched for "nhtsa dna survey" and found articles about the same types of stops occurring in Alabama. It turns out that NHTSA is asking people to volunteer in 30 cities across the country.

The search, unfortunately, didn't end with just those stories. I found the story of David Eckert in Deming, New Mexico.

Mr. Eckert was driving through Deming and rolled through a stop sign. Before the night was over he was subjected to two X-rays, two digital probes of his anus, three enemas and a colonoscopy. The first doctor approached to perform these exams refused to do so because they would be unethical. The police simply started doctor shopping until they could find a willing medical practitioner.

The police didn't discover any drugs on Mr. Eckert. Mr. Eckert was forced to undergo the anal probes based on the following police justification to a judge in seeking a warrant:

  • Mr. Eckert's hands were shaking and he avoided eye contact during a traffic stop
  • Mr. Eckert refused to consent to a search of his person
  • Mr. Eckert stood erect with his legs together (clutching his buttocks)
  • A drug dog "alerted" to his car seat
  • An un-named police officer claimed that Mr. Eckert had previously hidden drugs in his anus
Mr. Eckert was later billed $6,000 for the "medical procedures" he was forced to undergo.

How much more of this are we willing to take?

We have a duty, individually and collectively, to throw out politicians who support our oppression. We have a duty to refuse to "volunteer" to be suppressed and we have a duty to expose the corruption of power that runs amok within our government.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Fear Of Our Oppressors Knows No Bounds

By Dave Dargo

I first saw the above video on The Gun Wire. There is a word, coined by Jeff Cooper, that accurately describes the two women featured in this story: hoplophobe. Hoplophobe comes from the Greek hoplon, meaning arms and phobos, meaning fear. It describes what Jeff Cooper called a "mental aberration consisting of an unreasoning terror of gadgetry, specifically, weapons."

One of the women interviewed in the video is concerned about bullets "whizzing past" her head. I, too, am concerned about bullets whizzing past my head and I carry a gun just in case that happens; I want to be able to respond appropriately to such a threat.

When I watch the video, it's difficult for me to think there's anything other than ignorance at play here. Just as Italian Rose wants a police state in order to protect her from guns, these ladies want private businesses to take a stand and prohibit weapons on their property.

At the end of the interview, though, the reporter lets us know their boycott is having difficulty as none of the other stores in the area are banning weapons. If they want to shop where weapons are banned then perhaps they should move to another state such as New York, Maryland or California.

Of course, we all know that the only people who will obey such prohibitions are those among us who are responsible, law-abiding citizens. The people who will have weapons in grocery stores that ban them are the very people with whom we should have the most concern.

When I see a video like this one I often wonder if the people are missing some genetic code that allows for logical and critical thinking. Have they ever actually thought about the fallacy of their position or is it all about feelings?

These women appear to me to be hoplophobes. These hoplophobes probably vote. Italian Rose votes and this just shows how important it is to participate in elections at every level of government.

Another fascinating aspect of this story is that it highlights a new gun law in North Carolina. Open and concealed-carry of firearms in grocery stores was already legal in North Carolina before the new law was passed.

Don't ever underestimate the ignorance of the people who are trying to take away your fundamental rights to self-defense.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Indoctrination Of Rose Is Complete - A Citizen Calls For A Police State

By Dave Dargo

There's an article in The Washington Post that discusses a "stark divide over gun laws". The article breaks down the overall attitude of American's as it relates to stronger gun-control laws.

The most alarming thing I saw, though, was a reader comment tied to the article that, unfortunately, isn't that unusual for the anti-rights groups:
I would settle for a background check for each and every transaction and every gun owner needing to have a complete comprehensive psychiatric examination before the initial purchase and check-up every 3-years thereafter. If you fail the psych test, your a prohibited person and must surrender your guns to law enforcement. Better yet, the psych test is given at police headquarters and if you fail they return home with you and confiscate your guns. Penalties must be increased for a prohibited person having a gun any gun. Police must also have the discretion to conduct Terry Stops and warrant less searches in targeted areas looking for illegal guns. I like Washington DC's policy if you have a empty shell casing without a firearm id card for that weapon you go to jail for years. Also if you have a permit for a 9mm and you get caught with a empty 380 casing, you go to jail. If this does not significantly reduce the gun violence epidemic in this country, we all know what's next. - Italian Rose
Rose wants us to have psychiatric examinations before we can buy a gun and every three years after that if we continue to own guns. She then goes on and advocates warrantless searches as a valid solution to "the gun violence epidemic".

To me, Rose appears to be advocating a strong police state reminiscent of the Soviet Union. When Leonid Brezhnev was the General Secretary, the Soviet Union used psychiatry to eliminate political opponents. If someone openly contradicted the official story line from their leader then they must be insane and in need of commitment.

Rose calls for these psychiatric tests to be conducted at "police headquarters".

Unfortunately, Rose is not a lone voice calling for such insane suppression of our fundamental rights. It would be easy to ignore Rose's comments if such comments weren't so prevalent in the mainstream media. I believe Rose would actually vote for such policies in order to satisfy her desires for protection against us evil gun owners.

I've always been fascinated by those who call for such a police state and have wondered how they missed the lessons of recent history.

The question is, has our educational system completely failed or does Rose represent what the educational system considers a success?

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Critical And Honest National Debate Is Needed Now More Than Ever

By Dave Dargo

The first U.S. presidential election in which I could vote was in 1980. Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and John Anderson were on the ballot. I was twenty years old and lived in Maryland "inside the beltway". Growing up in the Washington, D.C. area meant that the national political news was local news.

We had just had a miserable four years under Carter, preceded by some pretty dreadful years under Ford. Ford had his "Whip Inflation Now" campaign and Carter had his disastrous energy and economic policies coupled with equally disastrous foreign policies that left us with a "Crisis of Confidence" and malaise.

Reagan won the 1980 election and tackled, with a newly elected Congress, the deep economic and foreign policy problems we faced. Many of us still remember the immense foreign policy debates that went on and the insults thrown at Reagan as a war-monger. The Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union fell and a great economic boom started.

The 1980s was a decade of tremendous political debate on the future of the country and what it meant to be an American and what America, as an ideal, meant.

The debate we see today, in my opinion, is even greater and more important. I've written many times about my feelings about the true power of the federal government and how I believe it has overstepped its bounds.

Today, there are those of us who believe in limited national government. We believe the U.S. Constitution gave very limited power to the federal government for a reason. We want to return the national government to its proper role as defined by the Constitution.

On the other side is one political party that believes the national government is the answer to all problems and seeks to expand the powers of that government through bribery of their constituents and economic slavery. There's another political party that seeks much the same but at a smaller scale and slower velocity.

The U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power of the purse. There are many ways to legally affect change in this country. One of the legitimate ways is for the House of Representative to withhold funding from the executive branch. Doing so may carry enormous political cost. Failing to do so may carry enormous moral cost to future generations who may miss out on America's ideals.

The debates we are witnessing today are sad. There's a small group of lawmakers who are proposing their ideas and defending their positions. There are huge numbers of people who have resorted to personal insult and refusal to even discuss the issues. Those, on either side, whose only argument is a hurled insult do a disservice to the reasoned national debate we so desperately need.

I stand for limited national government and personal freedom. I believe in the presumption of liberty rather than the presumption of constitutionality when judging the validity of a law. I believe in the individual's right to liberty to make their own decisions and to own the results of those decisions. I don't want a nanny state, I don't want to be looked after by a collective and I don't want to be told what I can and can not do when it has no impact on others.

I want an open and honest debate about the future of our country. Democracy requires a free and open market of ideas. Despotism requires lies and half-truths to maintain the support of "useful idiots".

I don't mind if you disagree with me, just be honest about your cause and your methods to achieve your desired results.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 5 - Part 2

By Dave Dargo

I've made it through the school drills and though I'm a little disappointed at my performance in the demi-presidente drill I'm pleased enough about my performance on the school-drills to feel pretty good.

Now it's time to climb into the back of a pickup truck and get a ride out to the force-on-force simulator. Because I've been through a 499 course before I'll be going last so they can change the scenario before I get there. I have a sense of anticipation, nervousness and eagerness to face the challenge. In each of the force-on-force simulations I've done I've learned a great deal from my mistakes and had enough fun that I wanted to do it again in order to improve.

I've had force-on-force simulation in the Gunsite 350 course, Team Tactics for Two course and, of course, the 499 course. The force-on-force simulation uses a product called Simunition. Simunition is a training round that allows individuals to fire at each other with non-lethal marking rounds. Though they are non-lethal they still hurt and require significant safety protocols and equipment.

Before we head to the force-on-force area we divest ourselves of all objects: keys, watches, pens, combs, knives, ammunition, etc. Things can get pretty exciting during the simulation and we don't want anyone improvising. We get a pat-down search, get in the vehicle and are driven to the site where we get wanded down with a hand-held metal detector. Then we wait our turn before donning the protective gear: helmet, goggles, neck and groin protectors.

We get the call to head down to the simulation site where a simunition gun is placed in our holster and told a scenario.

I won't tell you the scenarios I've had because it's important that you experience the full joy of discovering it for yourself. There is, however, very little given in the way of description. It might be something like, "You've arrived home and found the door ajar." You might not want to go into your own home after finding the door ajar but the scenario will develop enough that you will want to go inside. After that, well, that will be a surprise for your own visit as I wouldn't want to ruin the experience.

During the scenarios you will face role-players who have specific instructions and will perform specific actions based on your words and actions. Say or do the wrong thing and you will get shot. Say and do the proper things from a tactical perspective and you can emerge with no shots being fired by anyone. The goal is to emerge unscathed and victorious without shooting any no-shoot individuals. Even knowing it's a simulation doesn't prevent increased heart and respiration rates. The purpose of force-on-force simulation is to place the individual in as realistic a training environment as possible without anyone getting hurt.

At the end of the simulation everyone de-briefs about what was done properly, what could have been done better and what was done wrong. We discuss why certain actions were chosen and if they were the best option at the time. Sometimes you only have a choice between a bad and worse option. Sometimes you have a choice between bad, good and best options. The simulation is designed to help you select the best options available to you if you're ever faced with a situation.

One could perform 5,000 of these simulations and the outcome would be different each time because we're dealing with multiple humans making multiple decisions. However, certain patterns do emerge and best practices should become part of your repertoire.

After my simulations I wanted to do more. It's like getting on a roller coaster and after the ride is over you just want to go again. It wasn't to be, though, as it was off to the scrambler.

Here is a video someone posted on YouTube showing a good run on the scrambler with a rifle:

The targets are out to 105 yards and we ran it with a pistol. Of the seven targets I had two hits and was disappointed. But, then again, the targets were at a great distance and I was just having fun with the program.

After the scrambler it was time for our class shoot-off. Every class I've been to at Gunsite has had a shoot-off where the students compete against one-another shooting steel. In this challenge we were to start seated and on the go signal we had to stand up, knock over a block of wood with our shooting hand, draw from the holster and shoot one head plate about 5 yards away, an 8" lollipop target about 15 yards away, a mini-popper about 10 yards away, perform a speed reload and then hit our half of a split popper.

The first person to properly knock down their targets wins that match and, in a class of 11, we each get about six matches to determine the winner.

In my first match I was a split-second behind in shooting my split popper but had a .45 ACP round vs. a 9 millimeter round and drove my target down first winning the first match.

Finishing the speed reload before knocking down my final target

Out of my six matches I lost one, tying for second place. Again, a little disappointing given my competitive nature but not so much that I actually felt bad. In the individual match I lost I know exactly what I did wrong - it was my form in not having a stable enough platform. After that particular loss I stopped looking at the targets while I was sitting and started doing exactly what I had been trained to do. I stood up and properly established my stance, drew smoothly on the target and delivered my shots. I didn't lose another match but 5 out of 6 wasn't good enough. The winner won all six of his matches. This is the second shoot-off where the winner has had a red-dot optical sight on their pistol. I might need to get me one of those.

After the shoot-off comes graduation. Gunsite has multiple "grading" levels for their students at graduation: Demonstrated Sound Understanding, Marksman, Marksman First Class and Expert. I'm pretty much stuck on Marksman First Class and am happy with that. I'd like to, someday, achieve an Expert rating but am comfortable with my consistent performance and will keep going back to Gunsite for more training and refinement. Each time I go I learn something new and gain valuable experience.

September, 2013 499 Class Photo
I didn't get the memo and am in the blue shirt
I shot about 1,250 rounds during the week. I'm a little beat-up and sore but very satisfied with the course and Gunsite. I can't wait to go back. At graduation they commented that I had put myself through the pain of a 499 class twice in the same year. "But," I said, "it's only offered twice a year."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 5 - Part 1

By Dave Dargo

The final day comes with a mixture of emotions. We've made it through four grueling days of square-range work, indoor and outdoor simulators, day and night shooting and one challenge after another. We've all been extremely safe with our pistol handling and there have been no concerns with any of our fellow students.

We can all see improvements in our gun handling and marksmanship skills and we're all eager to get through today's tests.

As we got through the week we've had feelings of exhaustion and disappointment in our own individual performance as well as feelings approaching giddiness when we solved complex problems. For me I hit a brick wall on Wednesday evening and had difficulty getting through that night's shoot. Thursday picked up for me and the night shoot on Thursday evening re-invigorated me with the challenges it presented.

But now it's Friday, test day. Today we will perform our school drills for marksmanship grading, engage in force-on-force challenges, have fun at the scrambler and do our shoot-off before graduating later today. Everyone seems to be excited to have made it to Friday while at the same time a little down about having to go home. Just as we're becoming competent at the challenges Gunsite is delivering to us it's time to pack it all up and head home leaving behind a place that has become home during the previous week.

For me the day started with a little warm-up on the square range. We immediately transitioned to our school drills for scoring. In the school drills we work with turning targets, drawing from the holster when the target turns and delivering the required shots in the required manner:
  • 3-yards, 2 seconds, two shots to each of two targets - standing
  • 7-yards, 3 seconds, two shots to each of two targets - standing
  • 10-yards, 4 seconds, two shots to each of two targets - standing
  • 25-yards, 5 seconds, two shots to teach of two targets - standing
  • 35-yards, 3 1/2 seconds, two shots to one target - kneeling
  • 50-yards, 7 seconds, two shots to one target - prone
It's a total of 20 shots for a total possible score of 100 points. The target is an 18" x 30" silhouette with an 8" center-of-mass circle. If the shot is in the circle it's worth 5 points, if it's in the silhouette but outside the circle it's worth 2 points. Beyond 15 yards the circle defining center-of-mass gets lost in the camouflage of the target's silhouette.

I felt good about my shooting while I was doing it but it's a long way back from the 50-yard line as we approached our targets to see just how well we did. My target looked pretty good but I couldn't really tell yet. I had five shots just outside the center-of-mass circle; shots approaching a 10-12" diameter. Those shots were well within the silhouette, though. I couldn't quite tell about the shots in the circle - it looked like 15 shots between the two targets but there were some double and even triple-shot holes. I got a lot of friendly grief from the instructor as he was scoring the target, "Next time spread the shots out so I can count them." He confirmed what I thought: 15 shots in the circles and 5 outside but on the silhouette for a score of 85 out of 100. I was pleased. The best score in the class was 88.

It was now time for the demi-presidente drill: facing up-range turn on the signal and engage three targets. Two shots center-of-mass to each of the targets, speed reload followed by a single head-shot to each of the targets. Par time is 10 seconds with a par score of 45. Go faster than 10 seconds and gain 5 points for each second but lose 5 points for each second over 10. The purpose of the test is to combine the pressure of speed with movement before shooting, and, of course, accuracy. Yesterday, during practice I was consistently scoring 42 points - I was shooting at the 10-second mark but usually had one shot outside the marked target areas but still on the silhouette.

Today wasn't so good. I delivered the body shots, reloaded and had a click when I went to fire the first head shot. I performed an immediate-action drill to clear the malfunction and delivered the head shots. Unfortunately, it wasn't a malfunction of the pistol but of me. I hadn't engaged the grip safety properly after the reload - performing the immediate-action drill forced me to re-grip properly solving the problem.

During any of the drills if you have a malfunction but clear it properly you gain that clearance time back. Because I didn't have a malfunction I didn't get the time back and lost points. By the time I was done I had a score of 25 - very disappointing.

My mistake caused a lot of discussion about grip safeties, the fact that we're not in the cavalry and that pinning the grip safety on a 1911 may cause issues for someone involved in a shooting. Regardless of the fact that some government beureaucrat forced Browning to install the grip safety contrary to his original design, the cause of me not firing was all my own caused by trying to be faster rather than smoother.

Now we had something that comes up during the simulators on each of the days and that's waiting. It wasn't my turn yet to go through the force-on-force simulator so I had to wait. Fortunately, no one else was back from their force-on-force simulation so we waited by shooting on the square-range and I have no problem spending an hour throwing lead down-range.

In the next section I'll go over the force-on-force simulator.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 4

By Dave Dargo

Another day that started at 8:00, broke from 4:00 to 6:45 and then the night shoot until 9:30. Another very long day with a lot going on.

We went through about 325 rounds of ball and 50 rounds of frangible with two indoor and two outdoor simulators; one set during the day and one at night. The daytime indoor simulator, though, did require the use of a flashlight and one student learned why you need two flashlights instead of one as his batteries went out at that critical moment.

We started out with the 499 school drills again to get us warmed up and ready to go. We then concentrated on the distance shots: 25 yards standing, 35 yards kneeling and 50 yards prone. Those positions are worth 40% of our marksmanship score and it's important to get those distances down. Everyone seems to be struggling to hit the eight-inch circle at the 35 and 50 yard distances. It's a combination of sight picture and trigger control and everyone seems to get one wrong when the other is right. However, it appears that everyone is starting to zero in on the right combination. The pressure is completely self-generated but there's something about knowing that target is going to turn away at any moment that causes people to quicken their shot. At 35 yards we have four seconds to go from standing still to drawn from the holster, kneeling and placing two shots in that circle. It's not a difficult exercise until we start to put pressure on ourselves.

Shortly after the drills started I was off to the indoor simulator. This simulator was much more complex than yesterday's and we have to continue to repeat to ourselves, "Look Everywhere!" We need to move smoothly, pay attention and solve each of the problems presented. We also better remember how to do one-handed pistol manipulation and malfunction clearances. Most importantly, the exercise isn't over until it is over and that point is not so obvious to everyone.

I did fairly well in the indoor exercise and was immediately off to the outdoor simulator.

I did a lot better than yesterday but not nearly as well as I need to. I'm still much more comfortable with the indoor simulators and its nice cozy compartments vs. all that openness.

Once I got back from the simulators it was back to ball ammunition and more school drills practice.

That completed the morning and it was good to have a lunch break.

Once back from lunch we broke into three groups to perform demi-presidente drills, 100-yard shots and to engage a remotely controlled free-wheeling target.

The demi-presidente is a drill where we start facing the instructor up-range. When he believes we're ready he signals the start. We turn to three targets down-range, place two center-of-mass shots to each of three targets 10 yards away, speed reload and then place a single head-shot in each of the targets. Par time is 10 seconds with a par score of 45. For every second over 10 we lose 5 points and for every second under 10 seconds we gain 5 points. Each shot in the center-of-mass circle or head-plate is 5 points, any shot outside those perimeters but on the silhouette is worth 2 points. My score was a consistent 42; I finished in 10 seconds and typically had one of the 9 shots on the silhouette but outside the marked zones. I was pleased. The most important component is smoothness. Firing those six shots at the three targets should have a cadence that sounds as if one is firing at a single target.

The 100-yard shots were very interesting as a 20 mph wind had picked up. We were to fire standing, kneeling and in prone. I went to the line and hit the steel with my first standing shot and like an idiot at a carnival I decided to go again. I ending up hitting the 100-yard target about 25% of the time in each position. Perhaps if I was fresher or there was less wind pushing us around I could have done better.

The robotic free-wheeling target is a little more interesting. Here is a target with two faces: one side presents a no-shoot and the other side presents a threat. The instructor drives the target around in front of us and it occasionally comes towards us with no threat and at other times it comes at us as a threat. We certainly can't take our firearm out and aim it at the no-shoot but need to quickly react when it becomes a threat. That moving target shows how difficult it really is to make a head shot. On the other hand it also shows how many shots can be fired center-of-mass and how effective stepping off the line of attack can be.

It was an incredibly full day and it was a relief when we broke for dinner. Of course, that gave us time to consider the night-time simulators that awaited us.

When we returned for the night-shoot it was starting to get overcast. It was pretty clear that we weren't going to get any help from the moon or any of the stars.

The indoor simulator moved quickly and was shorter than the daytime simulator, though still quite challenging. One of the refrains we continue to hear is, "Come on guys, this is 499." The goal is to deliver challenges that are complex enough that allow mistakes to happen. I certainly remember the effect of a mistake much longer than easy runs through a simulator.

The outdoor simulator, on the other hand, went from open-space to very-closed space with lots of vegetation. Vegetation significantly changes the strategy one has to deploy when using a flashlight to find hidden opponents. The vegetation will cause certain areas to appear "washed out" because of the light back-scatter and one has to carefully illuminate areas multiple times from multiple angles in order to determine if a threat is present. The challenges that came with tonight's outdoor simulator left me invigorated and ready for even more. One student described it as an e-ticket ride and I couldn't agree more.

In both the indoor and outdoor simulators one has to judiciously deploy the light with movement in order to prevent oneself from becoming the target. Getting the right combination of light-on, light-off, move and target engagement takes quite a bit of practice. In the case of the simulators we're working with static targets and it gets even more complex with live targets.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 3

By Dave Dargo

An exhausting day that started at 8:00 in the morning and finished about 9:30 at night, though we did take a 2 1/2 hour break for dinner.

This morning had us jump right into simulators, both indoor and outdoor.

The indoor simulator is a fairly straightforward shoot-house with static targets; both shoot and no-shoot. As I approached the door of the house the instructor said, "They're holding my daughter in there." Here's a clue, there's probably going to be a hostage target as well.

In the 499 class you're encouraged to move quickly and purposefully with three questions to ask: Where is the next potential danger area? From what position can I clear that area? How do I get to that position?

There are lots of doors and corners in this rather shabby house with well-worn furniture and appliances and we can't forget to clear the open windows. If someone can be there we better be clearing it. Even though the targets are static it is still a bit stressful as one attempts to solve each of the problems presented. One thought I had was I certainly wouldn't want a house with so many corners. Most of the distances in the house would dictate hammers rather than controlled pairs but we can also expect to have to make at least one head shot and we will have at least one no-shoot target. Being sure we understand what we see is critical - look at the hands of the targets to determine if they're a threat.

Immediately after the house clearing simulation we go to an outdoor simulator which is in an Arizona wash. I don't like the outdoor simulators though the hunters in the group seem to prefer them. The house exercises are a little more cozy and contained from my perspective and that allows me to break the larger problem down into a series of smaller problems. The targets in the outdoor simulators are a bit more difficult for me. The targets are grey pepper poppers and any no-shoot targets have the bottom painted red. We find the targets long before we are able to determine if they are shoot or no-shoot.

The only negative about the simulators is there's a fair amount of down time as we all wait for each other to finish.

After the simulators we were back on the square range and a smaller range shooting steel. We did the Dozier Drill as well as a number of other manufactured drills involving knocking over steel. Shooting steel is always fun as its a lot more satisfying seeing the immediate reaction rather than having to walk back and forth scoring a paper target.

On the square range we started to seriously practice the 499 school drills: 2 shots to each of two targets from 3 yards in 2 seconds, 2 shots to two targets from 7 yards in 3 seconds, 2 shots to two targets from 10 yards in 4 seconds, 2 shots to two targets from 25 yards in 5 seconds, 2 shots to a single target from 35 yards kneeling in 3 1/2 seconds and 2 shots to a single target from 50 yards prone in 7 seconds. All the pressure in these drills is internally generated but still palpable as each shooter attempts to better their score.

Besides the school drills we also worked on shooting while moving, shooting at moving targets and more and more school drills.

At this point it was time for a break so we went to Little Thumb Butte Bed and Breakfast for a nice dinner and some relaxation before our night shoot began.

At 6:30 we reconvened for another indoor and outdoor simulation with our flashlights ready.

The house simulation still wasn't overly complicated but the spaces became a bit tighter, the retreat positions became fewer and the targets were more hidden requiring a little stretching to get to the proper shooting position. Still, I prefer the indoor at night over any outdoor simulator.

But, alas, after I finished the indoor simulator it was time to go to the outdoor simulator. The same types of changes we saw to the indoor simulator applied to the outdoor as well.

Did I say I still prefer the indoor simulators? I learn a lot from the outdoor simulators but there's just too much going on for my taste.

We went through another 150 rounds of ball ammunition today and about 70 rounds of frangible in the simulators.

It was a long and busy day and we start again tomorrow with even more difficult problems to solve. I hope I can get through them without too much personal embarrassment.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 2

By Dave Dargo

The second day moved much faster though we shot about the same number of rounds. Yesterday, we went through about 230 of our 1,100 rounds of ball ammunition and today we expended another 245.

The weather, as predicted, is still exceptional with cool nights, down to about 45, and warm days, up to about 85. It is high desert so hydration can be a problem with some but we are constantly encouraged to drink water.

The morning started at the range at 8:00 and after about five minutes of dry-fire practice we went into the 350 school drills. At this point, the drills are timed with turning targets and we can score the targets as we finish each drill. All school drills are presentation from the holster and included single shot to the head from 3 yards in 1.5 seconds done twice, two shots center-of-mass in 1.5 seconds from seven yards, two shots center-of-mass in 2 seconds from 10 yards, two shots center-of-mass kneeling from 25 yards in 3.5 seconds and two shots prone from 35 yards in 7 seconds.

The center-of-mass circle has an 8-inch diameter. Shots inside the circle and head-plate are worth 5 points and shots outside the scoring areas but still on the painted part of the target are worth 2 points. This makes for 50 possible points and I'm typically in the 40-45 point range. I have difficulty with that 8" circle once we're out more than 25 yards. At that distance I'm just guessing where the circle is actually located because all I see is the 18"x30" paper target.

After the school drills things really began to move quickly.

Though we were still reviewing things we had already done in the 250 and 350 classes we started to move faster with the assumption that everyone was simply reviewing what was already known. As I mentioned yesterday, though, some students haven't been to Gunsite in years.

After the review drills which included pivots and turns we moved into one of the core components of the 499 class - one-handed pistol manipulation.

Most people find shooting one-handed different but still comfortable. Where it really gets interesting is drawing from a strong-side holster with the support hand and presenting the pistol for accurate shots with weak-side one-handed shooting. As interesting as that may be, it gets even more so as we have to clear Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 malfunctions one-handed on both the strong and weak side. Clearing a Type 3 malfunction with one hand makes one-handed speed reloading seem like a walk in the park.

There are a lot of tricks to being able to run the slide on a semi-automatic with only one functioning hand. Some of those tricks go out the door though when dealing with range safety issues and being sure to not cover any of your fellow students. We persevered, though, and made good progress. No matter how much progress you make in these exercises you won't be able to take the ugly out of correcting a Type 3 malfunction one-handed. If you need to clear a Type 3 malfunction then you better have good cover or fast feet.

The day also saw us practicing getting out of vehicles while under threat, ground fighting - basically shooting from different positions while on the ground: lying on the left side, right side, on your back and over your head and on your back shooting between your knees.

To finish the morning off we all moved back to 50 yards to practice our 499 prone exercise against steel. Shooting steel was nice because we didn't have to keep walking back to the target to see if we were hitting the scoring zone.

After our lunch break and before heading back to the range we saw a short video of Colonel Jeff Cooper explaining the combat mindset. If you're able to find a video of Cooper giving one of his speeches you should take the time to watch it; they are always entertaining and enlightening.

After lunch we spent more time on the square range covering more review from the 250 and 350 classes and started to practice some of the 450 school drill exercises.

In the 499 class we will shoot standing from 25 yards, kneeling from 35 yards and prone from 50 yards and we practiced all these positions in the afternoon.

We finished with retention position shooting with movement off-line before breaking for a briefing on tomorrow's exercises.

Tomorrow we start the simulators, both indoor and outdoor and during the daytime and nighttime. We also get to break early to have a nice dinner at Little Thumb Butte Bed and Breakfast before returning for the night shoot.

I think about how many rounds we shot and don't particularly think that 475 is very many for two days. But then I remember that these were almost all done two at-a-time presenting from the holster with 11 shooters on the line. The time to do it all adds up.

My pistol was slowing down at the end of the day yesterday and the same held true for today. I spent a lot more time in the grit today and I can feel the slowness in my hands when I run the slide. Worse, I can feel grit in the trigger as I feel for trigger reset after taking a shot. I think I'll need to tear the gun down completely to get all the sand out of it and I'll need to do that tonight or move to my backup 1911.

I've got a lot of work to do before I can get to bed and get some much needed sleep.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gunsite 499 Advanced Pistol - Day 1

By Dave Dargo

My first visit to Gunsite was intimidating. It was an intimidation caused by the unknown; I had no idea what to expect.  My brother-in-law, Jim Jeansonne, had been imploring me to go for years and I kept saying, "Yeah, maybe someday."

I finally took their three-day introduction course, 150 Pistol in July, 2010. I was hooked on the first day and have been back many times. I still have a slight sense of intimidation when the courses start but now it's because of the known. I know I'll learn a lot and I also know I'll be tested.

I had taken the 499 course once before back in May and came out again this month to reinforce what I learned and to see if I could improve my performance.

The weather for this week is expected to be beautiful: clear blue skies and temperatures beginning in the morning at about 45 degrees and warming up to the mid-70s.  Gunsite is located in Paulden, Arizona, about a 100 mile drive from my home in Scottsdale. I try to stay at Little Thumb Butte Bed and Breakfast when I go to Gunsite but, unfortunately, they were full up this week putting me at the Days Inn in Chino Valley.

There is an expectation that the students attending the 499 class actually paid attention in the 250 (Introduction) and 350 (Intermediate) Defensive Pistol classes. However, they don't just throw you into the deep end right away. They do, however, move you there quickly.

Many of the people I meet at Gunsite"get" to go once a year. I go a little more often. Some students in this week's class hadn't been to Gunsite in over five years. As a result of the mixed levels of freshness in each student's training, the 499 class is designed to get everyone back up to speed with the Gunsite way.

The first day is spent doing pretty much everything that was learned in the 5-day 250 class as well as part of the 5-day 350 class. The second day will be finishing up the 350 class review and then moving right into the meat of the 499 class.

We spent the first hour with some classroom review of firearm safety, getting the administrative housekeeping out of the way and getting down to the range. Once on the range, though, things moved very quickly.

Before the morning was over we were deep into the 250 school-drills: drawing from the holster and a shot to the head from 3 yards, two shots center of mass from 5, 7 and 10 yards, kneeling at 15 yards and prone at 25 yards.

Once lunch was over we moved to the 350 school-drills: drawing from the holster and a shot to the head from 3 yards, two shots center of mass from 7, 10 and 15 yards, kneeling at 25 yards and prone at 35 yards.

In the next few days we will move to 499 distances which move the final standing position to 25 yards, kneeling at 35 yards and prone at 50 yards with additional complexities thrown in.

Today also saw us:
  • Moving before shooting to simulate moving off the line of attack
  • Using tactical and speed reloading techniques
  • Delivering controlled pairs - This is firing two shots with three sight pictures in the sequence: sight picture, shot break, sight picture, shot break, sight picture.
  • Delivering hammers - Two shots with only two sight pictures delivered much quicker than a controlled pair with the sequence: sight picture, shot break, shot break, sight picture.
  • Clearing malfunctions:
    • Type 1 - failure to fire
    • Type 2 - failure to eject
    • Type 3 - Some call this a feed-way stoppage and we practice it as a double-feed
  • Delivering a failure response - two shots center of mass, one shot to the head
  • Delivering a non-standard response - multiple shots (more than two) center of mass and an optional shot to the head
We went through about 230 rounds today out of our weekly expectation of 1,350. The ammo package for class is 1,100 rounds of ball for the square range and 250 rounds of frangible for use in the simulators.

All of these exercises were done with the expectation that they were review for us and to let us warm up for what the rest of the week will bring. Having been through a 499 class before I know there's a lot that will be delivered during the remaining four days of this class.

The biggest issue I run into is maintenance of my 1911 during the class. It's dry enough and dusty enough that dust gets everywhere. This is especially true when inserting those magazines back into the well after retrieving them from the ground after a speed reload or dropping to prone on the sand and pebble ground. Lubrication helps keeps parts moving but more lube attracts more dust. I can definitely sense the slide slowing down by the end of the day and past experience tells me to clean the gun daily to be able to get through the next day. I only really think about this at Gunsite. When I'm shooting in Louisiana I can go seemingly forever without ever being concerned with the slide slowing down.

The other issue is protecting my hands. I wrap some Nexcare Waterproof tape around my thumb because it will inevitably get cut up from the slide after 500 rounds or so. I also place some Moleskin Plus in the palm of my hand. My palm can only take so much pounding from gripping the gun before it becomes an issue. I never notice any of these issues when I shoot fewer than about 250 rounds but when doing the intense, repetitive training through 1,300 rounds it becomes quite noticeable.

I'm looking forward to the week with an eager anticipation as well as a certain level of intimidation. I have to keep my body and mind fully engaged just to meet the minimal standards I've set for myself.

I keep going back to Gunsite in order to drill the techniques into my head and to, hopefully, maintain a minimal level of competency with my pistol. So far, I have over 300 hours of training at Gunsite in addition to training from others.

I know other people who don't want any training. I hear them say they've been shooting their entire lives and don't need anyone to show them the proper method of getting a sight picture or pressing the trigger. That is certainly their right.

I, however, happen to believe that the responsible armed-citizen has had training and would welcome input from those with more experience in order to be more effective with their pistol.

I'm in Gunsite's Advanced Pistol class with other students who have taken many of the same courses as I. Some of us are very proficient and some of us need a bit of help. Sometimes, it is the same person who is both proficient and needs help and I'm glad to be among those willing to invest in their pistol craft.

I know that each of us in this class will come out at the end of the week better enabled than the first day and that can only be good.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Compromise? They Don't Know The Definition Of The Word!

By Dave Dargo

How much longer can the madness continue?

President Obama addressing the Congressional Black Caucus
Foundation's Legislative Conference dinner in Washington, D.C.
on Saturday, September 21

President Obama urged his supporters "to get back up and go back at it". What does he want his supporters to get back to? Gun control so "dangerous" people won't get their hands on guns.

President Obama, and many other Democrats, believe that the answer to incomprehensible acts of violence by the deranged is to burden the law-abiding. He believes the answer to gang-land's culture of violence in his home town is to make it more difficult for us to get the guns we have every right to own.

From this article in USA Today, one learns that three people were killed and 23 wounded in the latest Chicago-land violence. A three-year old boy was one of the wounded shot in a park in the city.

Each of the mass shootings he and the liberal media like to trot out have been committed by certifiably insane people yet there's no talk of our "crazy people" problem.

The Chicago violence, which is very similar to the violence in many large cities, is culture-born. It comes from a culture that says violence is perfectly acceptable. Yet there's no talk about our "culture" problem.

The shooter at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard heard voices and sought help. No help was forthcoming and, despite his record, no intervention occurred and, therefore, he was never entered into the background-check system.

No matter how much we expand the background-check system it would do no good unless those who are mentally ill are entered into the system.

President Obama calls for common-sense legislation to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people yet he hasn't called for any programs to identify those dangerous people.

The President's call has nothing to do with keeping anyone safe and everything to do with expanding government control of our daily lives.

The cultural divide between those who want a nanny state and those who believe in individual rights is just as great as the divide between we law abiding gun owners and the perpetrators of violence in Chicago.

That divide is so great that there is no compromise possible. We can't continue to compromise away our rights and we have to stop compromising away our safety in the name of politically correct treatment of violent predators.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Do You Do When Reality Isn't Convenient To Your View Of The World?

By Dave Dargo

Another tragic day yesterday, this time at a military base in Washington, D.C. The man pictured here went on a rampage and the story is tragic. He made some decision at some point that he was going to kill other people.

Don't Even Mention His Name
The story, as it stands today, is that he legally bought a shotgun from a dealer after successfully passing a background check. He took that shotgun onto the Navy Yard in Southeast D.C. and killed an armed guard by shooting him in the head. He took the guard's 9mm gun and one of his spare magazines. At some point he took an AR-15 rifle from a locker and continued his attack killing 12 innocent people before either being killed or killing himself.

U.S. Representative, Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland has stated that the shooting will renew the debate about gun control. He went on to say, "I'm sure that it will renew the discussions about access to weapons that can be used to kill a lot of people quickly."

U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California said, "When will enough be enough? Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life."

Let's look at this particular individual and the renewed calls we see for gun control coming out of the progressive press and the Democratic lawmakers:

  • Let's have expanded background checks.
    • First - he went through the background check the hoplophobes want everyone to go through before buying a gun.
    • Second - he had a "Secret" security clearance. Doesn't a "Secret" security clearance indicate a more rigorous background check than the normal gun buyer is required to undergo? Doesn't this indicate that no level of background check would have found the issues this individual had?
  • We need to prevent people like this from getting access to "assault weapons".
    • He didn't buy an "assault weapon", he bought a shotgun and stole the "assault weapon" from the firearms lockup in the military facility.
At what point do the hoplophobes realize that reality doesn't mesh with their view of the world?

The issue is this individual may have suffered from PTSD and was involved in multiple shooting incidents before he went on this rampage. He was not convicted of any crime. No one can yet claim that he was adjudicated mentally unstable.

Without such adjudications he would not have made it into any background check system that would have prevented him from legally obtaining a gun.

He showed up for his rampage with the very gun the Democrats and Vice President Joe Biden suggest should be sufficient for home defense and they claim they have no interest in regulating: a shotgun.

Yesterday was a horrific day for those of us who abhor violence.

It is also proving to be a horrific day for those of us who appreciate logic and common sense from those who hold the power to pass more useless legislation.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Do I Oppress Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

By Dave Dargo

In my previous post I made a comment, "In a year where we've seen unprecedented attacks against many of our rights by a national government gone wild..."

I will expand on that thought here. At some point we have to realize that it's not one or two mistakes made by a rogue government employee in some distant office but, rather, a concerted effort by both the national and local governments to exert more and more control over our daily lives.

Fast and Furious
The first scandal seemed to only involve firearms being smuggled into Mexico in a botched operation to uncover actual gun runners. Conspiracy theorists, however, note that the operation picked up steam at the same time leading Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill were calling for increased gun control measures because of the unchecked flow of assault rifles from the United States into Mexico. The Department of Justice never did answer all the questions posed by the government oversight committees.

But, hey, what's one minor scandal in the otherwise smooth operation of the national government. Never mind for a moment that U.S. law enforcement officers and others were killed by some of the very weapons our national government helped criminals smuggle into Mexico.

Paramilitary Police Raids in America
The CATO Institute published a study outlining the increasing use of paramilitary police raids in the United States now estimated to occur 40,000 times per year. The reports included stories of swat teams raiding garden clubs and destroying organic vegetable gardens in the mistaken pursuit of marijuana farms. The CATO Institute also published a map showing a sample of some of the botched raids in this country.

The EPA Turns Everyday Life Into A Federal Crime
U.S. Senator Rand Paul reports on a number of cases where the EPA has gone overboard and charged, prosecuted and jailed people who were polluting with non-pollutants. One highlight from the story involves John Rapanos who was charged with "polluting" the wetlands by leveling the soil on his property. Under the "migratory molecule" rule, the Army Corps claims that any isolated wetland can fall under federal jurisdiction because there is a speculative possibility that a water molecule from one wetland may reach another navigable waterway. In Mr. Rapanos' case, the nearest navigable water is roughly 20  miles from his property.

IRS Runs Roughshod Over Conservative Groups
The IRS targeted conservative groups for special harassment including those groups who outlined "government debt" in their advocacy application or advocated to "make America a better place to live". These groups were required to answer questions such as what books members were reading, what members had posted on their Facebook accounts and the content of member's prayers.

The IRS also audited conservative groups, including the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Groups get audited all the time but what's remarkable about this particular audit is that it occurred in 2011 as the group was gearing up to campaign against the Democratic Party and President Obama.

IRS and Federal Election Commission Are Said To Collude Against Conservative Groups
One of the individuals involved in the IRS targeting of conservative advocacy groups was also involved as an attorney for the Federal Election Commission. The email referenced in the above linked article suggests an FEC attorney sought information from the IRS in order to influence an upcoming vote by the six FEC commissioners. The legal issue is that the FEC is prohibited by law from conducting an investigation into an organization before the FEC's six commissioners have voted to do so, yet the FEC attorney started that investigation in order to influence the upcoming vote.

Are we not to expect the IRS and FEC to collude in order to stifle political dissent?

The NSA Saga
As it turns out, contrary to Congressional under-oath testimony, the NSA does indeed spy on ordinary Americans. Worse than that, they get the support of a court system for some of what they do and they defy the courts for other things.

It turns out the NSA was listening in on real-time conversations and improperly collected calling records of ordinary Americans.

But wait, it gets better. We now learn that the NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with foreign governments. In this manner the NSA can claim they're following the law by not spying on Americans but buy turning raw data over to foreign governments they can have the foreign governments report back any interesting information they find.

The NSA and DEA
Let's not leave the issue to just spying. Let's include the DEA and perjury against Americans in court proceedings. It turns out the NSA is turning data over to the DEA for criminal investigations. However, the DEA can't legally use that information so they have to come up with plausible "parallel construction" of the information. In other words, the NSA gives information to the DEA. The DEA uses that information to create a case against someone. In court, though, the DEA makes up a completely different story about how they came about the information so as not to implicate the NSA.

At this point, the DEA is presenting false evidence against someone in a court of law. But the person's probably guilty anyway so it must be O.K.

It's Not Just Electronic Records
The United States Postal Service confirmed in the beginning of August that they photograph every piece of mail that goes through their system. Every letter you send is photographed by an agency that makes those photographs available to government agents when they so desire them.

International Travelers Targeted When Warrants Impossible To Get
Let's say the government wants to look at your computer and cell phone but doesn't have anywhere near the evidence necessary to procure a warrant. That's not a problem for them if you travel internationally. They simply add your name to the automated watch list and get your travel itinerary. When you return to the country they'll confiscate your electronic devices and keep them for however long they wish in order to examine them. The Border Patrol will send copies of your data to any other government agency that's interested. Basically, if you're an international traveler then no warrant is no problem.

The NSA Is At It Again By Corrupting Private Cryptographic Efforts
This one's a bit technical but is related to the known desire of the government, through the NSA, to be able to intercept all communications. People want their privacy so they encrypt their communications using some fairly common cryptographic processes. Well, those communications aren't so secret. It appears that the NSA has been inserting people onto the standards committees responsible for creating cryptographic standards to ensure that they can decode the communications.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist but it is extremely difficult to look at all of these things that have come to light in the last year or so and not think that governments have gotten out of control.

Your private phone call records are now recorded and kept by the government. Your mail is now photographed by the government. The government will manipulate the Border Patrol in order to gain physical access to your electronic devices. The EPA will stretch regulations as far as possible to hurt your private activity. The DEA now lies in court as a matter of policy in order to get convictions. The IRS wields its power to silence political opponents. Guns are smuggled to criminal gangs in order to justify expanded gun control laws.

Don't make the mistake of thinking these are isolated incidents; these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

Don't take freedom for granted. Become aware, become active and work to rid this nest of rats from positions of power.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Common Sense Prevails In Colorado

By Dave Dargo

In the frenetic push to embrace gun-control at any cost, two Colorado state senators failed to take into consideration the seriousness with which their constituents viewed their right to keep and bear arms.

The voters in the districts served by State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron voted yesterday to oust them from office; a more civilized form of running them out of town on a rail. The citizens, via a grass-roots campaign, stood up to billionaire Michael Bloomberg and other anti-gun provocateurs and waged a successful recall campaign against two of the loudest anti-gun voices in their state senate.

Voters rejected Senator Morse 50.9% to 49.0% and Senator Giron 56.0% to 43.9%.

Amazingly, neither the Denver Post nor Senator Morse get the message.

The Denver Post Editorial Board published their opinion, titled "Time to move on past Colorado recall elections," in which they call the recall elections an "ugly chapter in Colorado's political history".

They say that poor John Morse was targeted for his support of "modest gun control measures". The Denver Post repeatedly claimed that it was inappropriate to launch recalls simply for their anti-gun votes rather than waiting one year for regular elections. The Denver Post seems to fear that the recall process will now be used to undermine the system of regular, democratic elections.

Former Senator John Morse claimed the legislative session where he and his Democratic comrades passed stricter new gun laws "a successful one" and vowed that the Democratic party would "continue to fight".

The Denver Post seems to feel that recall elections should be for issues such as malfeasance and not for simple disagreements on political issues. The political sins of the former senators are much worse than simple malfeasance or corruption. Their transgression was ignoring the Constitution of the United States in a state where the majority of voters still respect that document. Their gluttonous desire to pander to those who would so brazenly trample on our rights, traditions and desires was the catalyst that fired up the recall movement that cost them their jobs.

Those who fight against our fundamental rights have been unable to understand the depth of our commitment. It is those who would so casually dismiss our rights who need to worry. In a year where we've seen unprecedented attacks against many of our rights by a national government gone wild, it is refreshing to see fellow citizens start to stand up for all of us for our rights.

The Denver Post wants us to move on and forget about this little political disagreement. I'm sure the anti-rights mayor of New York City would like the same.

Coloradans have acted as our collective proxy in delivering a message loud-and-clear that we will no longer sit idly by and accept as a compromise continued degradation of our fundamental rights.

I thank them for delivering that message and rather than "move on" as the Denver Post suggests. We will be moving forward and working towards the ouster of other anti-rights politicians.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are Prepared Drivers Paranoid?

By Dave Dargo

Some people believe that those of us who carry a gun are paranoid. There are even studies that purport carrying a gun leads to paranoia. The foundation for such beliefs, in my opinion, rests on the fallacy that guns don't belong in a civilized society. I believe that carrying a gun is no more than simple preparation for potential dangerous encounters; encounters that occur every day.

My wife and I often drive between Scottsdale, Arizona and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This drive covers approximately 1,500 miles of which 880 miles is Interstate Highway 10 through the great state of Texas. For much of the drive through Texas the speed limit is a very civilized 80 miles per hour.

Last Saturday, at about 9:30 P.M., we were driving near the half-way point across Texas (mile marker 460). We were driving 80 miles per hour and passing an 18-wheeler when we saw something in the road about 100 feet ahead of us. Now, we see a lot of debris in the road on these drives but we weren't expecting a round hay feeder cover.

These structures are approximately 6' x 6' x 8' and weigh about 250 pounds.

At 80 miles per hour one covers 117 feet in 1 second. This device was less than one second away. We, the truck driver and I, saw it that late because it was rust in color and couldn't be seen until fully illuminated by our joint headlights.

Even though I wasn't expecting this device in the road I was, nevertheless, prepared.

The feeder was standing on its end without about 2/3 in the right-hand lane and the other 1/3 in the left-lane, which was my lane.

I said, "Uh-Oh, this won't be good." That statement got my wife's attention and she looked up and said something completely different.

I realized the feeder couldn't be avoided, looked where I wanted my car to go, steered in that direction and hit the accelerator. I almost succeeded in avoiding being hit. The cab of the tractor-trailor hit the feeder and it caromed into the right-rear corner of my car.

We were very fortunate that the owner of the feeder returned and claimed responsibility. All-in-all we feel fortunate that if someone had to get hit by the feeder it was us as we drive a rather substantial SUV. We shuddered when we thought what would have happened to someone in a smaller, less substantial vehicle.

While waiting for the Sheriff's deputy to arrive the truck driver and I spoke at length about what happened. She couldn't have gone any farther right and I couldn't have gone any farther left because of steep drop-offs on both sides of the road.

The natural reaction when one sees an object in the road is to brake hard. If I had chosen that option then the damage would have been much greater and we would have hit it head-on rather than getting hit laterally at the rear of the vehicle. I knew from driving training and conditioning that accelerating is often a better resolution for these situations.

Because I attended Bob Bondurant's School of High Performance Driving many years ago was I paranoid of other drivers or was I simply preparing myself to be a better driver? Because I attended Gunsite Academy to am I paranoid or preparing myself to be better prepared in case of violent confrontation?

Is someone who teaches defensive driving skills a radical spreading dangerous ideas about mistrusting other drivers? Why am I, a defensive firearms instructor, labeled a radical for spreading dangerous ideas about predators in our society.

Being prepared is a good thing, it's the Boy Scout motto.

Just as we need to be prepared for the unexpected road detritus we also need to be prepared for the unexpected human detritus. Just as it's not paranoia to be prepared for the road hazard it's not paranoia to be prepared for the predator hazard.

I guess I could have ignored preparation and just driven headlong into the hay feeder. Perhaps I could have then told the insurance company that preparing to avoid such a hazard is paranoia and who want's to appear paranoid?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

We Need More Laws

By Dave Dargo

Curiosity led me to where curiosity often leads me, to Google. I was curious about how many new laws had been passed over the past few years.

The first page I found highlighted some of the 40,000 new bills and resolutions passed by state legislatures in 2011 to take effect in 2012. I thought that was a little old and I wondered if I could find out how many were passed in 2012 to take effect in 2013. I sure could, it was 29,000.

In just those two years our state legislatures passed close to 70,000 new laws. But it's not just new laws that affect you. Federal regulations also affect you and carry the same weight as laws. During President Obama's fourth year in office federal regulators issued 2,605 new rules. Over the past decade the federal government has issued almost 38,000 new rules. Federal regulations now cover over 170,000 pages.

These are new laws and regulations added to those that already existed.

70,000 new laws passed by state legislatures over two years, over 2,600 rules from the federal government in one year.

It has become impossible to know if you've broken the law.

How many new laws did your state pass last year and are you aware of all the laws and regulations you may have violated today?

That old phrase, "There ought to be a law," is one that I just can't buy.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sanity Reigns Supreme In Mississippi

By Dave Dargo

I previously wrote about Judge Kidd of Hinds County, Mississippi and his activist role as a jurist in declaring as unconstitutional a Mississippi law clarifying that open-carry is constitutionally protected in that state.

In that article I came down pretty hard on Judge Kidd as well as the Attorney General of the state for not understanding the structure of constitutions in general and laws in particular.

Judge Kidd declared that Mississippi's law clarifying the definition of concealed-carry unconstitutional. The law was an attempt by the state legislature to declare that carrying a firearm in a holster was, by definition, open-carry. Some judges and the Attorney General had attempted to declare that such carry was concealed because part of the pistol was hidden from view.

This was, as I stated at the time, another attempt by the anti-gun statists to foist their desires onto a populace that had already spoken time and again that they wished to allow the open-carry of firearms within their state.

The state appealed Judge Kidd's ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court and they issued their ruling yesterday. In a 9-0 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that Judge Kidd erred as a matter of law when he found the statute unconstitutional and also erred when he stated that "a reasonable person reading the bill could not discern what the law allows and what it prohibits."

The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously held that Judge Kidd was dead wrong in his reading, understanding and interpretation of the law.

That's not stopping the gun grabbers, though. State Representative John Horhn wants to introduce legislation requiring that open-carry of a firearm require a permit. Fortunately, that very same Mississippi Constitution doesn't grant power to the legislature to regulate open-carry of firearms. Representative Hohrn also wants Jackson and Hinds County to ban open carry and he says it's possible because of the Attorney General's opinion - the very opinion the upheld statute was designed to overturn. You can read more about it at MS News Now.

Thanks to No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money for breaking this story for me.

I had been following the story and eagerly awaiting the ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court and was concerned that it could drag on. However, the court, in its ruling, stated that it was not necessary to hear further arguments on the case and issued its ruling fairly quickly. Kudos to the court for quickly resolving this issue of law.

Open-carry has now been clarified by the legislature to be permitted as most in the gun-rights community had already understood it to be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My (Diminished) Hopes For Civilization

By Dave Dargo

I was in the IT (Information Technology) business for a very long time starting back in 1978. I saw a lot of neat, new things created and was part of some teams that created some really cool technology. It was a time filled with a lot of fun holding a lot of promise for the future.

I remember when I first started using email and I actually told someone, "email is great, I think it will bring back the lost art of writing."

I remember when hyperlinked text came into being on the internet and I actually said, "This is fantastic. Now we will have the opportunity to solve bigger problems through the collaboration of people who've never met."

While some have used these tools to help restore the language arts and others have collaborated to solve big problems, the reality is that blatherskites are daily inundating us with an increasing mound of evidence that thoughtful debate as a concept is dangerously close to meeting its demise.

I became rather dejected today as I looked for ideas on a gun story. I read a lot of articles and can often end up spending an inordinate amount of time looking at what passes for debate in the comment sections of those articles.

An article today in The Guardian describes a woman's angst as she hears about the active shooter drills her children practiced in school and the common-sense gun laws passed by Colorado being challenged by the NRA. The general gist of the article is that she believes that the gun-industry empowers the NRA to run roughshod upon the good, commonsense laws desired by the people of Colorado.

As one can imagine, such an article generates a lot of comments pretending to be debate. Some comments that caught my attention:
"Maybe you don't live in this ugly country, where domestic terrorism is the scourge of our society, where criminal organizations like the NRA dominate our completely corrupt political system. Where an outdated, increasingly irrelevant document, the constitution, dominates our lives. Where freedom of the individual to do anything is more important that the interests of society as a whole."
"All the white people are "terrified" brown skinned "illegals" will come and rape their woman and butcher their children. ( no, I am not a person of color). In other words, they are batshit crazy, and often dangerous."
I believe that people have a right to free speech and that anonymity is an important factor in protecting people who espouse unpopular ideas. However, I also believe the anonymity afforded to those providing comments on most news sites emboldens those commenters to say things they would never say in public.

Worse than what people are willing to say on these message boards is what people are willing to absorb into their own dialogue as valid debate techniques, techniques that spill into public "discourse". We see pro-rights people portrayed as racist, paranoid knuckle heads incapable of thinking for themselves. We see a poisonous narrative adopted by politicians who are masquerading as leaders. The debate points are barely a step removed from rhetoric designed to rally an illiterate and uneducated electorate into continuing to support the incumbent's desire for increased political power.

The only reasonable thing we can do is elevate the debate and try to maintain a civil, articulate position that is easily understood. We can't allow ourselves to be dragged down to a level that has to debate the relevance of the U.S. Constitution.

Maintain civility, logic, passion and compassion. Stay true to your beliefs and raise the level of debate to one you would proudly claim as your own.