Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Don't You Dare Speak Outside Your Home!

By Dave Dargo

Insulting title, isn't it?

Courts of Appeal in this country are having a hard time with the second amendment. It's extremely frustrating to witness such convoluted logic and tortuous language being used to justify a continuing suppression of our fundamental rights.

We are fortunate that fewer states continue the suppression of our civil rights but for those who live in those states there is no relief from the mind numbingly elaborate arguments put forth to justify the suppression. Furthermore, these courts give succor to those organizations and politicians dedicated to stripping us of our fundamental rights.

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down its opinion in Drake v. Filko and the opinion is a difficult read.  One rather difficult passage reads:

"It remains unsettled whether the individual right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends beyond the home."
Every time I read that sentence, and I've read it many times, I shudder, I cringe, I nearly cry. A Circuit Court of Appeals judge actually wrote that sentence and it's not the first time someone who should know better wrote such a sentence. Not only did a Circuit Court of Appeals judge write that sentence but he got another one to agree with him.

The tortured logic it takes to even conceive of such a statement is shocking.

The first blog entry I wrote, "What Amendment Gives You The Right To Keep And Bear Arms?", touched on this issue. The Constitution of the United States of America grants you zero rights.

Let's say it together, "The Constitution of the United States of America grants me zero rights." Say it. Believe it. Live it. Only vote for those politicians who understand it.

The Constitution of the United States of America grants from the people to the government certain powers. The Bill of Rights doesn't grant us any rights. If you read the full Bill of Rights you will realize that it is a document that places further restrictions on the government.

Yet, we have judges at the highest levels of our judiciary who write sentences such as the one above that presumes that the second amendment gives us a right to bear arms but that right may not extend outside the home.

"It remains unsettled whether the individual right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends beyond the home."
Imagine if anyone at any time in our history attempted to author such a statement about the first amendment. The first amendment, like the others, gives us no rights - it prohibits the government from infringing on the right to free speech, among others. Could they have written:

"It remains unsettled whether the individual right to free speech extends beyond the home."
Now, I know it's tempting. There are a lot of politicians I wish wouldn't open their mouths outside their homes. But we all know the first amendment is there for a reason, just as the second amendment is there for a reason.

The concept that any of our fundamental rights is restricted to the home is an affront that insults the people. The people spoke well over 200 years ago when we penned the Constitution and we continue to speak today.

Let's be sure we exercise that first amendment right to speech outside the home and convince our fellow citizens to help elect only those politicians who will stand with us in support of the fundamental rights we all hold so dear. Until we have the proper people in the legislative and executive branches we will be subject to the unfortunate whims of the judiciary.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sight Picture-Perfect

By Dave Dargo

A lot has been written about sight alignment and sight picture but just how perfect must sight alignment be in order to be effective.

If we're more than a couple of feet away from our target then then when we need to get a sight picture. I see new students spend a lot of time trying to get the perfect sight picture when they are not very far from the target and we spend considerable effort in getting the student to comprehend the flash sight picture.

Illustrated here is a perfect sight picture showing perfect sight alignment (the front sight is perfectly aligned within the rear sight) and the target is at the proper position in relation to the sights.

If you're in a defensive situation, though, you certainly don't want to spend the amount of time it would take to get sight picture perfection unless absolutely necessary.

In a defensive situation you will probably want to get a flash sight picture where the shot breaks just as you have achieved the minimum necessary sight alignment: the front sight will be somewhere within the rear-sight notch and the target will be close to where it should be for a perfect sight picture.

How will you know what is good enough?

This depends on some simple math and your own experience. We generally want our flash-sight shots grouped within about 9" - think of a paper plate. How many shots can you quickly place in that 9" circle? The grip you established when you drew your pistol will determine how effectively, measuring both speed and accuracy, you can break your first shot. Your grip combined with trigger control will determine the effectiveness of your subsequent shots.

At some shorter distances, with a good grip and good trigger control, you may only need a single sight picture in order to deliver all shots on target - within that 9" circle. As the distances increase you will find that you need to establish sight pictures between each shot and the greater the distance the more "perfect" your sight picture will need to be.

How good does the sight picture need to be?  Let's look at some math.  You can find sight correction calculators on a number of websites and I'm using the formula presented on Brownells web site. Their calculator assumes you have a good sight picture and want to adjust your sights to improve accuracy. Through a little algebraic transformation we can determine how much error we get when we move the sights.
Error = (Distance from target X mis-alignment) / sight radius
"mis-alignment" here is how far off from a perfect picture you have the sights aligned
"sight radius" is the distance on your pistol between the front and rear sights

My M1911 has a sight radius, the distance between the front and rear sight, of 6.6".

If I am 9 feet away from my target and intend to hit a 9" paper plate I can have a misalignment of 1/4" in my sight picture and still hit that paper plate:
Error = (108" x 1/4") / 6.6"
Error = (27")/6.6"
Error = 4.09"
Assuming I aim at the center of the plate with 1/4" mis-alignment I will hit just over 4" from my target. A 9" paper plate has a radius of 4.5" so I'll still hit the plate.

I would not be happy with that shot but it would be effective. 1/4" mis-alignment is a large mis-alignment and 9' is fairly close.

What happens, though, when I move back? How much mis-alignment can I have and still maintain a hit that is less than 4.5" from my target point, the center of that paper plate?

Distance From Target

Where does experience come in? Experience and practice will help you establish how far away you can be and still use a flash-sight picture vs. taking your time for a more "perfect" sight picture.

Personally, I'm comfortable using a flash sight picture up to about 30 feet (10 yards) for a 9" target. Once I go beyond that distance I need to start taking some time to get a better sight picture. Once I go beyond about 75 feet (25 yards) I need to think about bracing myself to not only establish but also to maintain a good sight picture. At those distances I might start going to a braced kneeling position. At 150 feet (50 yards) I need to start thinking about prone.

These distances will vary for each of you. My nephew, who's a good 25 years younger than I am, can hold steadier and establish a sight picture much quicker than I; his effective distances from the target are greater.

When we want to practice trigger control and sight picture at the range we will often go to 65 yards (195 feet) and shoot in a standing position at a 10" square steel target. The sound of hitting steel is very satisfying, especially at that distance, and that distance gives us a good feeling about how we are at establishing and maintaining a perfect sight picture and exercising a steady trigger-press and trigger follow-through.

When training new students we try to move them quickly to faithfully trusting their flash sight pictures at close distances. To do so they need to consistently draw and present their pistol from their holsters. We also work with them to establish and maintain a good sight picture at greater distances from the target.

Eventually, they become aware of their capabilities and can deliver more accurate shots quicker. Training, application and practice are critical components of effective defensive pistol use. Pistol-craft is a dangerously perishable skill set and without proper practice your effectiveness at using a flash sight picture will diminish over time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hard Headedness

By Dave Dargo

I'm hard-headed. I'm obstinate. I have very strong and clear opinions about the difference between right and wrong. This doesn't mean I don't see shades of gray where it matters, it merely means I have very strong feelings about certain topics and feel there is no room for compromise.

Among those topics about which I am steadfast is the topic of our individual rights.

I am in unwavering support of the founding principles of our nation: limited government with the right of self governance, individual liberty and the free market.

There are those amongst us who would enact policy with complete disregard for those founding principles and claim that the United States needs to "change with the times".

I previously wrote in "Compromising and Common Sense" that the anti-gunners don't understand the words compromise and common sense. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia actually believes his universal background check bill is a reasonable compromise with gun owners.

David T Hardy recently wrote a good piece regarding the same subject and gives a good history of the anti-gunners tactics. In his piece he highlights the Brady Campaign's blueprint they proudly proclaimed in 1976:
We're going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily — given the political realities — going to be very modest. Right now, though, we'd be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time. My estimate is from seven to ten years. The problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns sold in this country. The second problem is to get them all registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal.
It should be of no surprise to you that the Brady Campaign wants to make all handguns and handgun ammunition illegal. You shouldn't be surprised that they also changed their target from handguns to guns.

Even if the gun-grabbers were to offer a true compromise I don't think I could accept it because one does not compromise away one's fundamental rights and gun ownership is a fundamental right.

Would you compromise away your children? Would you compromise away your health? Would you compromise away your right to speak your mind?

When the gun-grabbers ask us to compromise they are asking us to compromise away a right just as fundamental as the right to speak our minds or to protect our own lives and the lives of our families.

I challenge anyone to name a significant give-back the anti-gunners have ever delivered as a compromise. For decades their entire focus and mission has been to chip away at our fundamental rights and your right to defend your family.

The Obama administration is readying another gun-control push. Democrats in the U.S. Senate hope to re-ignite interest in "universal background checks". The media is complicit in its support of a false narrative regarding Trayvon Martin in order to roll back self-defense laws. Each of these is an attack upon our fundamental rights and responsibilities.

Are you going to allow the same governmental thought process that brought 58 minute 911 response times to the city of Detroit to disarm you and prevent you from defending yourself and your family?

The same statist elites will continue to attack your fundamental rights in order to increase the power of the collective. Don't let it happen.

Now is not the time for compromise. Now is the time for steadfast hard-headedness.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Common Sense Gun Laws

By Dave Dargo

The Chicago Tribune has two articles today that show the continued insanity of the anti-gun movement.

Chicago already has some of the nation's toughest anti-gun laws. They don't like guns, those political operatives managing Chicago, and they continue to show it. The Tribune article itemizes the new gun-laws the city has adopted. The new laws include a ban by anyone under 21 from purchasing any type of gun. Cook County requires that any gun that could be accessed by a child (anyone under 21) has to have a trigger lock and be in a locked container unless the person has the gun on them.

This is a similar ploy San Francisco is attempting in the wake of the Heller ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to require a gun be kept in an inoperative state in the home. The anti-gunners don't like that ruling so now they're itching for a another court challenge by requiring guns be rendered inoperative unless someone has it on their person.

The insanity exists beyond the city and county council chambers as we see in the second article which contains an itemized list of the shootings from the day before. Chicago had two shot to death and another five wounded.

How much longer must this experiment in futility be allowed to continue?

John Lott has studied the data regarding guns and crime perhaps as much as anyone and he reaches starkly different conclusions than governments such as Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

A very interesting statistic from his studies show that 3% of the nation's counties contain 70% of its murders. In other presentations of the statistics (at the 15:10 mark in the video) he points out that 78% of the counties in the U.S. have zero murders in any given year.

Anti-gunners and pro-gun rights people can't see eye-to-eye. The anti-gunners blame the object and the pro-gun rights folks blame the person wielding the object. As a result, the anti-gunners continue to try to pass laws that will only affect those of us who choose to follow the law and refuse to recognize the very real culture of violence that exists in these 94 counties and county equivalents (parishes, boroughs, independent cities, etc.). Most of these counties have very strict anti-gun laws and the other 2,450 counties, which have zero murders in any give year, have the highest level of legal gun ownership.

It's tiring to listen to one emotional argument after another. Not only do these arguments count on emotional appeal they lack any shred of real evidence and eschew the evidence that clearly supports the right of the people to be armed for self-defense.

Whenever I hear the phrase, "common sense gun laws", I immediately think, "O.K., this will have no logical argument backing it."

Common sense just ain't very common.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Honest Debates And Hypotheticals

By Dave Dargo

USA Today published an editorial a couple of days ago bemoaning this nation's "lax gun laws".

The most difficult thing about using that editorial as a subject is the difficulty of what to leave out. The editorial bounces from one baseless charge to another.

The most critical issue I have with the editorial, though, is the desire by many to tie what happened to George Zimmerman as a gun issue.

A tragedy occurred the night that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin met. I wasn't there but I did listen to the evidence presented and it's hard for me to find any disagreement with the jury's verdict. It has, unfortunately, become routine for these incidents to turn into elaborate kabuki theater designed to hold our attention for months or even years. The usual characters appear and dance their dances with little to no regard to any of the real-life people who are living through the actual tragedy.

There has been one difference in this particular theatrical escapade and that has been the unwavering attempts by the media to continue to mis-report facts in support of their biases against lawful gun owners. It wasn't good enough that the local police department investigated and found no reason to charge Mr. Zimmerman. It wasn't good enough that the FBI investigated and found no basis for charges of racial motivation. It wasn't good enough that Mr. Zimmerman waived his rights under Florida's "stand your ground laws" and it wasn't good enough that a jury found Mr. Zimmerman not-guilty.

The media continues to paint this as a racially motivated hate crime and the sole cause of Mr. Martin's death were the actions of a racist, cop-wannabe, vigilante itching to use his gun to kill an innocent child and being protected by an equally racist, vigilante "stand your ground" law.

They cry, "If only we had proper gun control laws this would not have happened."

USA Today claims that if Mr. Zimmerman did not have a gun then Mr. Martin would be alive today. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps Mr. Zimmerman would be dead. Perhaps Mr. Zimmerman would have just been beaten up and, after all, getting beaten up isn't so bad.

USA Today claims that, "...the Zimmerman case is a byproduct of a society that in the past three decades has made it easier for people to buy guns, to carry concealed guns, to take guns into more places, and to bear less responsibility to retreat from dangerous situations."

I wonder if it was Florida's too-tight gun laws that are the cause of Mr. Martin's death. Perhaps if Florida allowed open-carry of firearms then Mr. Martin would not have attacked Mr. Zimmerman.

We can speculate all day what may or may not have happened under different scenarios. The Zimmerman-Martin story is going to continue, though, because the gun-grabbers see it as an opportunity to accomplish what they've failed to accomplish thus far - take away our fundamental right to self-defense.

Those who would take away your rights think they know better than you what is good for you.

It would have been more accurate for USA Today to claim,
"...the 50% drop in homicides and violent crime over the last 20 years is a byproduct of a society that in the past three decades has made it easier for people to buy guns, to carry concealed guns, to take guns into more places, and to bear more responsibility for their own personal safety."
But, then again, why should any of us expect an honest debate from people who are so far removed from reality and driven by a fear of what they can't comprehend.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stand Your Ground

By Dave Dargo

Thirty-one states are, apparently, wrong according to Attorney General Eric Holder. Of course, this isn't the first time Mr. Holder has found himself in disagreement with a majority of the state legislatures and governors.

Thirty-one states have "stand your ground" laws. These laws exist because of the attacks made against self-defense laws by people who share many of Mr. Holder's beliefs.

Self-defense laws have been around for a very long time and basically state that a person has the right to use force to defend themselves against like force. If someone attacks me in such a way that I fear imminent death or serious bodily injury then I am justified in using force to stop that attack. If the force I use to stop such an attack results in the death of my attacker then I will not be held accountable.

A core component of the right of self-defense is that my actions have to be tied to stopping the attack. If the attack has already ceased and is unlikely to resume then I can't use force against my attacker. I don't actually have to be attacked in order to use force; I simply have to have a reasonable fear that I will be attacked and the attack will result in grave physical injury or death.

The components that go into self-defense often include the concepts of an attacker having the means, opportunity and intent of doing me harm.  Some examples may help illustrate this issue:

  • A person at the other end of a football field yells to me, "I have a knife and I'm going to come over there and stab you." Well, he may have the intent (as he stated), he may have the means (a knife) but he probably doesn't have the opportunity - he's going to have to run 100 yards to get to me. I'm probably not justified in pulling out my rifle and shooting him.
  • A person sitting across a table says to me, "I'm going to throw these feathers at you until you die." Again, I'm not going to be justified in shooting that individual to stop the attack.
  • A person is 20 feet away from me and produces a knife yelling at me to give him all my money. This person has the means, the intent and the opportunity. I'm probably justified in using deadly force to stop him.
At some point in the not-to-distant past, some people were prosecuted for murder in clear self-defense situations because the prosecutor argued that the person under attack may have had the opportunity to retreat and, therefore, remove the immediacy of the opportunity of the person attacking them. Some prosecutors actually argued that a person should run out of their own home in order to defuse a situation.

This didn't sit right with many people and it's easy to understand why; after all, if someone attacks me and I have a right to self-defense then why should I have to look for an escape before I can deploy physical force to protect myself. In reality, the time taken to look for an escape and the very act of escaping can introduce their own dangers into the situation. Nevertheless, over-eager prosecutors sought the conviction of otherwise law-abiding citizens who simply wanted to defend themselves, their families or even perfect strangers.

In order to stop the over-zealous prosecutors, states began introducing "stand your ground" and "castle doctrine" laws. These laws basically state that if you are under attack then you have no duty to attempt to retreat before using physical force in defense of yourself. Stand your ground laws generally refer to standing your ground in public and castle doctrine laws generally refer to what happens on your own property.

The media's biased reports continue to bash Florida's stand your ground law because of the Zimmerman trial - even though Mr. Zimmerman waived his rights under Florida's stand your ground law.  Mr. Zimmerman never claimed a stand your ground right and defended himself under the traditional self defense laws.

That hasn't stopped Attorney General Holder from pandering to the NAACP and declaring in a speech today, "Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."

Such a statement shows either an ignorance of stand your ground laws or a profound cynicism and bias that would allow him to bend the facts to meet the political demands of a constituency rather than serving to bring justice to all Americans.

The elimination of stand-your-ground laws would give an advantage to criminals and those who prey on the innocent. In Holder's world, you will be required to attempt an escape before using force to defend yourself. Worse, in Holder's world, you will need to prove that you couldn't escape, otherwise you will be responsible for whatever happened to your attacker when you defended yourself.

Stand your ground laws exist because of the hyper zealousness of prosecutors. They are a reaction to the political machinations of people like Mr. Holder and serve a legitimate purpose of protecting the rights of innocent, law-abiding citizens who choose to defend themselves and their families.

This is precisely the time and place where we need to collectively stand our ground and prevent Mr. Holder's attempt to interfere with our fundamental right to self-defense.

On Justice

By Dave Dargo

What is justice?

Saturday night we heard the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial: not guilty on all counts.

A jury heard the evidence, applied the law and found Mr. Zimmerman not guilty.

I listened to the press conferences after the verdict was delivered and that's when I got scared of what our criminal justice system has become.

The prosecutors acted as if they were the losing coaches who had to explain a championship loss in a post-game interview. There was no simple, "The jury made their decision and we thank them for their service." No, the prosecutors went back over the trial and discussed their tactics as if they were discussing why a pass-play was chosen vs. an end-run in the failed touchdown attempt in the final three seconds of the game.

The prosecutors continued to insist that Mr. Zimmerman was guilty and, if not for a bad play-call or two, their side would have won.

Criminal prosecutions are not about winning. They are not a substitute for mob action. They are not a stage for sweeps-week-style sensationalism. Criminal prosecutions are supposed to be about justice, brought when the evidence supports the case and used judiciously.

I did learn an important lesson from watching the trial, though: never, ever, ever, ever give "your side of the story" to the police. In this case the police believed Mr. Zimmerman and the prosecutors twisted each and every word into the worst possible interpretation. For that lesson in our criminal justice system, I am thankful.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Desperation, Politics and Judicial Activism

By Dave Dargo

Judge Winston L. Kidd of Hinds County, Mississippi has employed rather tortured logic to justify an injunction infringing on the rights of the people in Mississippi. Judge Kidd isn't the first person to misunderstand plain english in an attempt to infringe the fundamental rights of the people and I'm sure he won't be the last. Judge Kidd and his logic, however, represent a real threat to the rights we the people retained.

The State of Mississippi has simple language in its constitution regarding the right to keep and bear arms in section 12:

The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.
The language given above gives no rights to the citizen. Rather, it tells the government of the State of Mississippi that this right shall not be called into question. The language then goes on to grant a power to the state which is the power to "regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons". It's rather simple. The citizens have the right to bear arms in defense of their person but the state can regulate or forbid concealed weapons.

What does such language mean practically? It means that a citizen in Mississippi can bear arms openly in Mississippi but the bearing of arms in a concealed manner may be regulated by the state.

Consistency is something we can count on from the anti-gun statists who believe that the people can only do what the state allows. The statists are unhappy that mere citizens have the fundamental right to bear arms without the state's permission so they have stretched and stretched as far as they can to forbid it.

It started with some courts in Mississippi ruling that a pistol in a holster worn upon the hip is concealed. After all, parts of the pistol can't be seen when it's in its holster. The tortured logic of this definition of concealed reminds me of my best friend when I was three years old. If he didn't want anyone to see him he would cover his eyes; after all, if he couldn't see you then you couldn't possibly see him. He would run down the street with his hands over his eyes thinking he was invisible. Judges who ruled that a pistol being held in an openly displayed holster constituted concealment and, therefore, required state permitting were stretching the bounds of logic.

But, as if that weren't enough, the state's attorney general issued an opinion that Mississippians don't have the right to openly carry firearms because they weren't granted that right in the constitution. Once again, the constitution doesn't grant rights to the people. Those rights already exist. The constitution grants powers to the government and the only power granted to the state of Mississippi here is the right to regulate concealed weapons.

The state legislature had enough of this nonsense and passed House Bill 2 last year clarifying that carrying a pistol concealed does not apply to a pistol carried "upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible".

There, problem solved, we all now understand that a weapon that is carried in a belt holster is not considered concealed if the holster is wholly or partially visible. Wow, that was easy.

Easy, that is, until the elitists and Judge Kidd came along. Judge Kidd has issued an injunction blocking implementation of the law.

I love reading well written court rulings - it's almost like reading poetry. There is, unfortunately, nothing poetic about Judge Kidd's ruling. Judge Kidd asks, "How are law enforcement officials to determine which individuals are a threat to the general public?" Ignoring, for a moment, that this has nothing to do with the open carrying of a firearm, the honorable Judge Kidd seems to believe that if the weapon is concealed then it doesn't exist. Apparently the open carrying of a firearm represents some type of potential danger that concealed carry of that firearms does not represent. I remind you of my invisible friend.

The judge's logic centers on issues that are of no concern to the judiciary: the difficulty that law enforcement may have with enforcing laws or the feelings of the general public. The people have spoken through their legislature and it is up to law enforcement, the uncomfortable public and even judges like Judge Kidd to get over it.

Here is the most dangerous statement in the judge's opinion, "This Court has found no case law, or any other authority, which gives an individual the absolute right "to open carry" a weapon, as contended by the State."

Judge Kidd's court has now determined that if a right is not expressly granted to the people then no such right exists. This single statement demonstrates to me that Judge Kidd does not understand the source of our rights, the structure of our government nor the purpose of a republic founded on the principle that people grant powers to the government.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Crisis Of Violence

By Dave Dargo

"Every single day we wake up in the city of Chicago, some child, some young adult, some African-American male has been murdered. This is not acceptable." - Illinois state Representative Monique Davis
Illinois, under court order, recently changed their law and became the last state in the nation to allow its citizens to carry firearms for self-defense. Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation and fought the adoption of the new concealed carry law in favor of an appeal of the court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Even after adoption of the new law, Chicago politicians sought and continue to seek ways to keep their law-abiding inhabitants and visitors from being able to protect themselves.

"[Chicago] is the epicenter of gun violence in the nation." - Congressman Bobby Rush's spokeswoman, Debra Johnson
Intellectual courage is required by the citizens of Illinois and Chicago to get their elected leaders out of office. The pretenders who call themselves the leaders of Chicago are continuing to fail their constituents and the law-abiding citizens of that city by implementing politically correct, misguided and elitist policies that have no affect on violence but continue to restrict the liberties of law-abiding people.

The "leaders" of Chicago aren't the first to request the National Guard be deployed to quell the violence and the "leaders" of Chicago aren't the only city leaders failing to fulfill their duties.

Across this great nation the leaders of the largest cities facing the greatest increases in violence continue to call for more gun-control and government intervention. The intervention they seek speaks volumes about their own failures. Unfortunately, that failure doesn't spring from acts of omission but, rather, through "community organized" attempts to fight poverty through abandonment of personal responsibility in favor of supplication to the nanny-state.

For how long will we allow this government-knows-best experiment to spiral out of control destroying more lives in its path of destruction? How many failures must we witness before coming to the realization that these policies not only don't work but can't work?

These failing politicians continue to pander for votes from the very victims of the violence their policies have created.

Everyone has the fundamental right to self-defense.

Dear Chicago Politicians,

Your policies have failed and continue to fail. You are lucky to be in a position where tax payers fund your bodyguards. Please allow the law-abiding denizens of your fair city the same rights you retain for yourself: the right to self-defense. Your policies only strengthen and embolden the worst elements of society while suppressing the natural right of good people to defend themselves. Get out of office and get out of the way; you've done enough damage

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Thing Of Beauty

By Dave Dargo

This map shows the evolution of right-to-carry laws in the United States since 1986. You'll notice the only remaining may-issue states, in yellow; they are the most restrictive of our rights. Those states in green are the ones who most respect our rights to self-defense.

While there is still a lot of work to do, this map highlights how effective an educated electorate combined with focused lobbying can help us continue the fight.

Please consider joining the NRA and other gun-rights advocacy groups.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Land of Lincoln

By Dave Dargo

Illinois has just become the last state in the Union to authorize the concealed carry of firearms. They were a hold-out for a very long time, mostly due to the anti-gun politicians in Chicago.

As concealed carry permitting schemes go Illinois' is pretty good, so far.

The Illinois State Police have 180 days to make applications available and set up the licensing mechanics. Illinois will require 16 hours of training, the most in the nation, but will be a shall-issue state. Shall-issue states require that permits be issued to any applicant who qualifies.

While all 50 states now have a method for citizens to carry a concealed firearm, not all states are shall-issue. There are states that are may-issue - that is, a government official has to give the permit requestor permission in order to exercise the right. Generally, the states that are may-issue require the permit applicant to show "good and substantial cause" as to why they should be permitted to carry a concealed firearm. For those states that are may-issue and don't allow open-carry this means that citizens in those states aren't allowed to carry a firearm at all without the permission of a government official. Most states that are may-issue tend to be anti-gun and won't give permission which, effectively, makes them no-issue states.

Illinois has not yet determined who can provide that 16 hours of training or the rules regarding that training. Hopefully, the training will be sensible, practicable and easily procured. Illinois has also stated that they will not have reciprocity with other states' concealed carry permits; non-residents who wish to carry concealed in Illinois will need to qualify for and apply for an Illinois permit and the mechanisms to do so have not yet been defined.

We should celebrate that all 50 states now have a mechanism to "legally" carry a concealed weapon.

We need to continue to fight on two fronts:

  • Get all states to become shall-issue - that is, a state may not require an applicant to show "good cause" on why they should be allowed to get a permit but just the opposite - the state should be required to show "good cause" on why someone is denied a permit
  • Get national reciprocity implemented - a recognition that a concealed carry permit issued by one state is valid in any other state in the Union
Ultimately, I believe no permit should be required to exercise this fundamental right but as long as we require permits they should be issued to anyone who qualifies without regard to any government official's personal opinion.

Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming allow residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York are may-issue states and, for political reasons, most of them are no-issue states unless the applicant is politically connected. While some of these states are permissive may-issue states, that is, they are may-issue in name but shall-issue in practice, the state government still has the power to restrict the rights of their citizens.

Out of 50 states, 41 are now shall-issue for permits to carry a concealed weapon - this is great news worthy of celebration. We still need to work on the 9 that inhibit carrying of a weapon for self-defense but we have made a lot of progress over the past decade.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


By Dave Dargo

Colonel Dave Grossman writes in On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society about the conceptual sheepdog:

"One veteran I interviewed told me that he thought of most of the world as sheep: gentle, decent, kindly creatures who are essentially incapable of true aggression. In this veteran's mind there is another human subspecies (of which he is a member) that is a kind of dog: faithful, vigilant creatures who are very much capable of aggression when circumstances require. But, according to his model, there are wolves (sociopaths) and packs of wild dogs (gangs and aggressive armies) abroad in the land, and the sheepdogs (the soldiers and policemen of the world) are environmentally and biologically predisposed to be the ones who confront these predators."
I highly recommend Colonel Grossman's book. It is one that is likely to surprise you about killing in society and in war. Colonel Grossman's conclusion is that humans, generally, will avoid killing another person if at all possible. The percentage of soldiers, throughout history, who were actually willing to kill "the enemy" is actually a low percentage of all soldiers assigned that task. Training has been tailored over the many years to condition soldiers to kill.

Even though few are willing killers, we can all recognize the "wolves" and "packs of wild dogs" of whom the veteran speaks in his interview with Colonel Grossman. In his book, Colonel Grossman concludes that about 2% of the population is able to kill without regret or remorse. In War, Gwynne Dyer writes:

"There is such a thing as a "natural soldier": the kind who derives his greatest satisfaction from male companionship, from excitement, and from the conquering of physical obstacles. He doesn't want to kill people as such, but he will have no objections if it occurs within a moral framework that gives him justification - like war - and if it is the price of gaining admission to the kind of environment he craves."
Asiana Flight Attendant
Modern armies and police departments have moved from simple training to conditioning within their charges the desired reaction to specific circumstances. The conditioning is designed to get soldiers and police officers to react, almost instinctively, to dangerous situations in order to produce a greater chance for the desired outcome.

We saw the value of such conditioning in the plane crash at San Francisco International Airport just a few days ago when the flight attendants so efficiently and heroically "became robots" in getting their charges out of that plane.

There's good news and bad news in all of this. The good news is that your fellow man, for the most part, does not want to kill you.

The bad news is that we are seeing an increase amongst us of "wolves" and "packs of wild dogs". These predators not only choose to prey on society, they relish it, they live for it. These predators look for the slowest, easiest sheep upon which to prey and are ruthless in executing their task.

At the very least you need to keep from being a sheep; the prey for those packs of wild dogs.

Whether you decide to be a sheepdog or simply choose to not be a sheep then you should condition yourself to react appropriately in critical situations.

It's not enough to just buy a gun and get a concealed handgun license. Choose to train and condition yourself to respond appropriately. Train with us or with another company but train and practice and learn if you are capable of being the sheepdog.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Collective Act of Courage

By Dave Dargo

"Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." - Thomas Jefferson
Nevertheless, the following list of patriots helped usher in a new nation containing principles and sentiment worthy of the best man had ever offered. We owe them our thanks. Today, on the 4th of July, select at least one name from the list and read about that person; learn something new about the individuals who rebelled collectively and willingly signed their name knowing that, if caught, they had signed their own death warrant.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Are You The Gun Lobby?

By Dave Dargo

Condition Ready, L.L.C. is a family business. Baked into our family values is a belief in rugged individualism while always being there to help our neighbors. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation. Those responsibilities aren't ones we are willing to abdicate to some bureaucrat in a government office.

We agree with something President Gerald Ford said,
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."
We started our little business because, as with many family businesses, we were already doing something we loved and we wanted to formalize the process. We were already sharing with family and friends what we learned in our defensive pistol classes. We were already preaching about gun safety and readiness to anyone who would listen. We were already committed to spreading the word on something we take very seriously: safe and effective use of firearms for self-defense.

We weren't sitting around looking for a business to build, we were looking for a structure for a shared passion that already existed.

We firmly believe in the individual right to self-defense and the right to keep and bear arms.

We became NRA certified instructors to learn how to effectively teach what we ourselves were studying. We figured out how to build a web site and deal with lawyers, how to build presentations and range exercises, how to encourage our students to excel at something that was new to some and old hat to others. Before we knew it we had a process, a logo, a slogan and students.

Building a business is a scary process to go through. So much is unknown and after each problem is solved a new challenge emerges. But building a business is also intensely satisfying and exciting.

At the end of the day, though, the greatest joy we can experience is watching a student do things they never imagined they could do.

Being in a firearms related business can be tough because it's a "politically sensitive" industry.  The president of the United States calls us liars. An executive of the National Education Association says we're going to hell. The mainstream media says our students are paranoid.

We support many gun rights organizations because our government is getting big enough to take from us everything we have. In just the past twelve months we've seen encroachments on the first, second, fourth and fifth amendments; amendments designed to prevent the government from taking from us what our creator gave us.

When someone asks if I am part of the "gun lobby" I proudly answer, "You bet!"

I hope you answer the same way. Whether you write to your representatives directly, vote or join a gun rights organization you are helping preserve the fundamental rights that are unique to our great nation.

As we approach Independence Day please consider what else you can do to help the fight against big-government encroachment on our fundamental rights. We have a link on the bottom of our web site pages that make it easy to join the NRA at a discount. (You can also just click here to join the NRA.)

Use our link, use a direct link, join when attending one of our classes. Join the NRA, join the Second Amendment Foundation or join the National Association of Gun Rights, or join all of them.

Fight with us to preserve a foundational principle of a free people and proudly call yourself part of the gun lobby.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gun Rights vs. Property Rights

By Dave Dargo

A few years ago I was taking an Arizona Concealed Weapons class from an ex-Phoenix police officer. During the class he spoke of the issue of private property rights and the ability for a business to prohibit weapons from their property.

For most cases, it is perfectly legitimate for a business to prohibit you from taking firearms onto their property. The second amendment protects you from governmental violation of your rights and when it comes to the rights of a property owner the property owner can pretty much dictate the rules you must follow while on his or her property.

In Arizona, as with most jurisdictions, the extent of the power of the business is to eject you from their property; basically, they can kick you out. If you fail to leave someone's property after being asked or ordered to do so then you are trespassing.

That ex-police officer in Arizona, in explaining this particular legal issue, went on to say that one of the most difficult things to get arrested for was trespassing. In Arizona, the police officer would be called to the scene and would approach the trespasser with the owner of the property or the owner's agent. The police officer would ask the owner if he or she wanted the trespasser to leave. After answering yes, the police officer would ask the owner to tell the trespasser directly to leave. After that directive the police officer would then explain that the they've been asked to leave, they are trespassing and if they refuse to leave then they will be arrested.

Even after all that, this particular police officer said he made four or five arrests for trespassing every week. Usually it was someone arguing that they had a second amendment right to carry their gun anywhere they went. The trespasser simply didn't understand that the private property owner had the right to pick who they wanted to allow on their property.

The rules related to trespassing and gun rights is generally the same across the country.

Nevertheless, we end up seeing situations that we should never see.

In the video here, a Mr. Monaco was shopping in a Whole Foods store in New Orleans when the police officer acting as store security disarmed him, detained him and caused a lot of issues. Mr. Monaco was never asked to leave, Whole Foods at the time had no sign prohibiting weapons on their property and Mr. Monaco was a regular and recognizable customer of this particular store.

As gun owners we have a responsibility to respect the property rights of others. Unfortunately, even when we are respectful of those rights we often hear about property owners and the police not being respectful of our rights and recognizing that we tend to be a pretty law-abiding group of folks.

If Whole Foods and Sergeant Bowser of the New Orleans Police Department had shown some respect and a little common sense then we probably wouldn't be seeing the federal lawsuit that Mr. Monaco filed. You can read the lawsuit here.

I've read the end result of a lot of lawsuits like this one that have been filed across the country and the results are generally not so good for the government organization. There's already a lot of case law about the rights of citizens who happen to be armed and the mere fact that someone has a gun is not probable cause enough to detain and question someone. The flip-side of this issue is that police officers who are not used to dealing with an armed citizenry are at a disadvantage in that they lack experience on appropriate ways to approach the "problem".

I wasn't there and don't know what happened, though the lawsuit and the video, to me, appear to be pretty damning and indicate an overreaction in dealing with an armed citizen who was buying cheese in a grocery store.

Mr. Monaco is getting a lot of grief about his situational awareness and pistol retention abilities. Sergeant Bowser is getting a lot of grief about putting an apparently innocent man in a choke-hold and disarming him. If not for Mr. Monaco's poor pistol retention abilities we may have had a tragedy here rather than a lawsuit.

Based on the cases I've seen previously I would expect, at a minimum, that Mr. Monaco will receive an apology, a commitment to better training by the police department, a potential reprimand or re-training requirement on Sergeant Bowser and payment of his legal fees. Other municipalities have had to pay as much as $100,000 in damages for similar actions by their officers.

Perhaps something will come out in the lawsuit depositions that point to a problem with Mr. Monaco's behavior. Thus far, though, I'm lead to the conclusion that a police officer took his charge of protecting private property rights too far and ended up violating the civil rights of an armed citizen. Interestingly, as I've discussed before, carrying concealed in this particular situation would have most likely avoided the problem entirely.