Monday, December 28, 2015

Doc Holliday rides again!



Despite popular mythology, us Texans don't ride horses much anymore, or wear 10 gallon hats, or walk around town with a 6-shooter on our hip. 

That will all change on January 1, 2016, however.  The part about the 6-shooter at least.  Up until then it is illegal to "open carry" a handgun in Texas.  But we will soon be joining most of the rest of the country in allowing our citizens to do just that.  

On that date all CHL (Concealed Handgun License) holders will convert to LTC (License To Carry) holders, and anyone properly trained, vetted and licensed will be able to carry either concealed or openly.  What I can't figure out is why?  Why would anyone want to carry a handgun out in the open?


This lady looks to me like she could easily become a victim at any moment.  Someone walks up behind her with a sock full of quarters and pops her up-side the head with it, and he has himself a nice looking 1911-style handgun, while she gets a very expensive ambulance ride.  Or if a bad guy already doped up and fidgety walks into a convenience store to hold it up and sees her with that gun on her hip, he might just shoot preemptively and take her out.

I have no problem at all letting upstanding citizens who are willing to undergo the proper training and allow themselves to be photographed, fingerprinted, and vetted top to bottom, carry private firearms.  In the world we live in today, with the lawlessness that exists, and with the constraints (budgetary and otherwise) placed on our police, having the means to protect yourself seems quite reasonable IMO.

But I would personally prefer to go "gray man" whenever I could, kind of like having a big honkin' 454 under the hood of a vintage Buick Le Sabre.  I would feel safer not attracting attention whenever possible, knowing that if I really had to, if there was absolutely no other way out, I could defend myself.

Ever hear of the "little man" complex?  Is that what this is all about?  Am I missing something?  What is the point of open carry?  Somebody 'splain it to me.

S


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Now you see 'em, now you don't....

....I'm talking about homes, and schools, and businesses.  OUCH!

 Dallas area tornado damage from yesterday.

Tell me again how "climate change" is just a figment of our imagination?  This is NOT tornado season, nor is it normal to be wearing shorts at Christmas time, at least in the northern hemisphere, but it happened.  I know....I was preparing to head to more substantial shelter and had to decide whether to wear my shorts or take along my heavy winter coat, as it's supposed to turn blustery cold.  (I did both.)

We saw this coming.  Right now it's snowing in west Texas....1 to 2 FEET is expected....being blown around by 50-70 mph winds.  Drifts of 8-10 feet are expected!  In Texas!  Meanwhile, on our side of the front, it has been record setting warm....as I said, mid-70's.  And if you'll think back to meteorology 101, heat and cold that close do not play well together.

Sure enough, BOOM!

By mid afternoon yesterday super-cell thunderstorms were firing up south of Dallas, which is where we do not want to see them.  That's because these super-cells and their tornadoes travel north and east.  By about dusk they were here.  One coming up through downtown Dallas looked for a while like it would move right up towards Frisco and our humble abode. 

Fortunately for us it fell apart before it got here, but I had already told K to get together a few things and prepare to head to our parking garage.  We live in an apartment community where 4-story apartments made of lumber and brick/stone surround a very solid concrete 4-story parking garage.  We can get from our apartment to the safety of that concrete structure in <30 seconds.  Our apartments might explode, but our garage won't.  

I'm thinking K must have been a Boy Scout in a previous life.  She's "Always Prepared".  We keep some essentials in our respective cars, and it's pretty simple to grab wallets, keys, and of course the dog.  I felt rather stupid grabbing my heavy winter coat when it was still in the 70's, but today as advertised it's in the 40's and dropping, and raining heavily.

The major destruction and 11 deaths occurred from Ellis county to our south, up through south Garland, Rowlett, and the areas around Lake Lavon, east of me.  Eight of those fatalities were killed when cars they were riding in went airborne....they probably never even saw it coming as it was nighttime....and slammed down on their roofs.  My former home town had upwards of 600 homes damaged to some degree.

For those so inclined, you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to give a $10 donation.  Prayers would be very appreciated, too.

S


Monday, December 14, 2015

Sandy Hook school shooting anniversary....


It was three years ago today that Adam Lanza, a mentally disturbed 20-year-old man, stole guns from his mother's house and went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT where he shot and killed 20 innocent little children and 6 adults. 

Sadly there have been numerous other mass shootings since then across the country, several involving schools.  The question that is front and center on the news, particularly on this anniversary date, is, what can we do to stop this from ever happening again?

The most common answer, in fact the ONLY answer I've yet heard, is to pass some sort of firearms legislation.  Specifically, the prohibition of the manufacture/importation of new assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines.

Suppose for a moment such a law could be passed and signed into law.  I hope I'm wrong, but I honestly don't think it would stop many/any new mass shootings.  Why?  Just as in Adam Lanza's case, existing assault-style guns could still be stolen.  (We would never know for sure how many people were NOT killed thanks to such a law....you can't prove a negative.)

But if I'm right, what then? After the next mass shooting, and the next, and the next, what would be the next logical thing we could try to put a stop to the madness?  So far, some sort of "gun control" is the only idea I've heard put forward.  Is there anything else?

If anyone has any other thoughts/suggestions, I'd like to hear them.  (No, there is no way the government is going to go door-to-door and confiscate everyone's guns.  The resistance would be extreme and likely violent.)  Any ideas?  Please be as specific as you can.

S

NOTE:  Interesting fact I just heard on da news (not researched for accuracy):  26% of all guns purchased in the US every year are by the military, and 38% are purchased by federal/state/local law enforcement.  Together, government purchases from one source or another account for 64% of all sales.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!


Today I heard a sound bite on the radio from a County Sheriff in Florida that first had me shaking my head, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.  I went online looking for the complete message and found there were several similar messages from law enforcement officials in New York, Kentucky, others in Florida, and elsewhere.

It was the Marion County Sheriff, Chris Blair, who said, "If you are certified to carry a gun, I would like to encourage you to do so. Those who carry firearms responsibly and are confident in their abilities can---and should---be our first line of defense in an active shooter situation."  He went on to say IN NO WAY does he suggest armed citizens should act as vigilantes.

But here's what really got me to thinking:  It was the Brevard County (FL) Sheriff's office that invited its concealed handgun license (CHL) holding citizens to attend one of their self defense / tactical shooting / decision making classes.  Its purpose is to mentally prepare legally armed citizens on what to expect and how to react in a shooting situation. 

More education....how can that be anything but good?  Plus, it might be enough to scare away those who might not realize how life altering it can be to find yourself in that position.  Better to educate them in a "controlled stress" environment than to have them learn the hard way under fire.  

Little good can come from a panicked person with a gun.  And for those who are waffling on whether to have a gun or get a license, this will make the decision easier.  If you're not sure, then the correct answer is...NO!   To paraphrase Harry Truman, "If you won't be able to handle the heat, then don't go near the kitchen."

Why not take it a step further?  Just like you have several levels of higher university degrees, and several levels of drivers education for new drivers, why not have multiple levels of firearms competency?  Current / retired law enforcement and military MP's should logically hold firearm PhD's, while novices must complete basic course 101 (such as the NRA basic safety program) before being eligible to even (legally) purchase a gun.  

The rest of us could advance up the ladder in increments  once we prove our increased competency.  Those at the highest level could then effectively be "our first line of defense in an active shooter situation" until law enforcement arrives as the Sheriff suggested. 

There are private schools now that do essentially the same thing (proper self defense training and preparation), but they are usually held over several days at a remote location, and cost lots of $$$.  This could be training for the Everyman.

  
And *snicker* I doubt many gang bangers would willingly attend a class AT THE SHERIFF'S  OFFICE.  Hahaha! 


Advantage Good Guys!

I'd do it.

S



Monday, December 7, 2015

They said WHAT???


Will somebody please explain to me what has happened to the Republican Party....the GOP....the party of Eisenhower and Reagan and all the Bush's?  (Yeah, 'ol George W is lookin' pretty good all of a sudden, huh?)

Why yes, yes I can get BOTH feet in my mouth at the same time.

Republican front runner Donald Trumph's most recent epiphany is that he wants to prohibit any/all Muslim's from entering the USA "until our representatives can figure out what is going on."  Now, I understand he's pretty much fed up with Muslims, and a lot of others agree with him, but he needs to learn when to keep his big fat pie hole shut!

Lets think this through:  We want to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  That by all accounts will require "boots on the ground".  We don't want those to be American boots on the ground.  We want the countries in that region....Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, etc....to put their boots on the ground.  So we just insult the hell out of them by lumping them in with the ISIS thugs, Muslims all?  Brilliant! 

I understand the concept of pandering for votes, but damn! 

 Our next Fuhrer?

And it gets worse....Candidate/Senator* Ted Cruz today said, "We will carpet bomb them (ISIS) into oblivion.  I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out."  Yeah, he said that!  

The last time I heard anyone talking about making the Mid East "glow", it was in a comedy routine on the Don Imus show.  That character was funny.  This guy Cruz is DANGEROUS!

Please God, just make them both go away!

S

* On behalf of all my fellow Texans I'd like to offer our sincere apology for not euthanizing Ted years ago.


Whine, moan, and cry....Hey, it's what we do!


We've become a nation of world class pissers and moaners.  We whine about everything, but rarely have anything constructive to offer.  Why is that?  I think it's because we've forgotten how to...umm...THINK!  We're seldom challenged to think.  We just turn on the TV and let Rush or Rachael, Fox News or MSNBC or CNN or whoever, spoon feed us what they feel we should know, what we need to think.  No muss, no fuss.  We just nod obediently and then head to the water cooler where we regurgitate all our newly found "wisdom".   We don't seem to cross check what we're told, looking for a different perspective.

I throw out ideas and people quickly pile on with their (sometimes snarky) criticism, but when asked to suggest an alternative idea for consideration, all I hear is _____________.  They should take lessons from my wife, K.  In our almost 9 years of marriage she's offered many alternative ideas that, quite frankly, made more sense than mine, and my position then changed.  She helped me grow.  I LIKE people to disagree with me, so long as they can offer something else for me to ponder.  If I only wanted to hear from people who agreed with me, I'd just talk to myself in front of a mirror.  *ewww*

A current hot topic illustrates this:  gun violence in America.  We all agree, including me, it's out of control.  Yet the only solution I've heard offered is the same old thing the NRA and (mostly) Republicans have shot down (pun intended) over and over and over before.  Can anyone think outside the box and find something that might show results, yet be palpable to the NRA and their front men?  Can anyone today think constructively?

We need more creative thinkers like Candice Lightner.  She's the California woman who lost her 13 year old daughter back in 1985 to a hit-and-run drunk driver.  We already had laws against drunk driving, but she felt more was needed, so she founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.  Since then she has shamed many legislators into voting for tougher laws and more stringent enforcement, shamed many who have had one too many to call a taxi, and no doubt saved many lives.  Constructive thinking!

We need more people like John Walsh.  After his little son, Adam, was abducted from a Florida mall and killed back in 1981, John went on to start the TV show America's Most Wanted, which has helped apprehend over 1200 child predators and rescued over 50 kids.  Constructive thinking!

Somebody had to come up with the idea of Meals on Wheels, and grow food banks out of local soup kitchens.  Constructive thinking!  So, OK, these people all must have had supercharged personalities, and you don't.  

Can you not volunteer with your city?  To my knowledge most have plenty of openings for volunteers to work on Creative Arts Commissions, Planning and Zoning Commissions, Senior Affairs Commissions, Civil Service Commissions, or maybe deliver some of those Meals On Wheels or help at an animal shelter.  Expose yourself to something new.  Learn.  THINK.

Please come visit me here often.  Agree or disagree, I don't care.  But be prepared to show me why my thinking is flawed if you believe it is, and give me something else to consider.  But to just come here and whine, then go back to your room in mama's basement to live off your public assistance is doing no one a favor.  We don't need any more people using up valuable air.

S


Sunday, December 6, 2015

And it's only going to get worse....

I've been giving the terrorist attack in California considerable thought, and to me it's becoming more and more clear how things will play out.  (Note....you can redeem this commentary along with $4US at any Starbucks and receive a delicious hot beverage  :)

It's said the US has been spared much of the unrest between Muslims and non-Muslims that they've seen in Europe because, unlike there, we've done a relatively good job of welcoming and assimilating Muslims into our society.  (FYI, 65% of the 2.35 million American Muslims are foreign born.)  They feel they have a vested interest in our country and our economy, and enjoy the same unlimited chance for success that everyone else has.  But I sense that is changing in a big way.


In recent years Muslims seem very proud of the attention they've been getting on the world stage.  In my area (D/FW) for example, our 43 Mosques are very well attended.  I see many more Muslim women wearing head scarves, and even burkas, on the street.  Muslim families are proudly giving their children names that leave no doubt their religion.  They seem to be wearing their religion "loud and proud".

Meanwhile, non-Muslim Americans have been becoming more and more aware of and even resistant to their Muslim neighbors after the rise of international terrorism, which seems to be overwhelmingly orchestrated by radical Islam.  And it's not just confined to places like Lebanon or Palestine or North Africa.  Now it's becoming almost common in the UK and France, Sweden and Denmark and Germany, too, to people who "look like us".  And our politicians have noticed, too, and are milking it for all they can....think Trump, Cruz, and friends.

Now we've had a full-blown radical Islamist attack in OUR country.  We've made the big league.  The suspicion of American Muslims is high, and frankly, it's not without cause.  While only a tiny minority are thought to be true violent jihadists, polls say there are a surprising number of jihadist "sympathizers" and "supporters".  Would they call the FBI and speak up if they knew of an impending terrorist attack, or would they sit back and watch it happen?  And since you can't just look and tell which are which, people seem to be walking wide of ALL Muslims.  (So much for assimilation!)

The natural reaction of Muslims is to "circle the wagons".  It's rapidly becoming an "us vs them" situation, and this is where Islamic radicalizers (if that's a word) will find increasingly receptive converts.  A bad situation is noticeably beginning to accelerate.  Look for more San Bernardino's.


Wanna see a feeding frenzy?  Go to a gun show today.  And they aren't being attended just by Bubbas, either.  There are lots of people there who look JUST like me.  *wink*  The more talk there is of "gun control", the faster guns fly off the shelves.  I can only imagine how many guns are being sold under the radar!  We've come to feel our government has let us down and can no longer protect us, and with every new "incident", that feeling will intensify.

Where/when/how will it "hit the fan"?  Beats me, but don 't be surprised when it does.  Interesting times we live in, for sure.

S


Saturday, December 5, 2015

It didn't work the last time, so...ummm...let's try it again, only this time, we'll MEAN it!



I understand that the New York Times has a front page editorial that calls for the outlawing of private ownership of weapons that can cause mass casualties.  This is the epitome of the toothless rhetoric that we always hear after every tragic shooting spree.  Would this new law simply rely on voluntary surrender of such weapons?  *snicker*  Does anyone, even the wildest eyed wild eyed liberal out there think that is ever going to happen?  So why waste time writing, debating, voting on, and signing such a ridiculous DOA bill?

Our tendency to "pass a new law" to fix every problem has got to stop.  We're just wasting our time.  Worthless, unenforceable paper is NOT the answer.  We need to turn MENSA loose and task them with finding a real solution.

S




Friday, December 4, 2015

More gun debate



We had a thriving conversation going yesterday on how to stop gun violence in America.  The prevalent opinion was to just pass another law, and good things would soon happen.  I say don't waste your time and energy or get your hopes up that this will have any meaningful affect on gun violence.  So what will?

I remember hearing of a program a few years ago somewhere on the east coast (in Virginia, I believe) that was aimed squarely at this problem.  The police were authorized at the time of a traffic stop, if the driver was a prior felon, to search his/her vehicle to look for firearms they were prohibited to have.  It was wildly successful.  As the weeks and months wore on, lots of bad guys were ACTUALLY SENT BACK TO PRISON and their guns confiscated and destroyed.  Local crime plummeted, and soon other bad guys got the word and disposed of their guns in order to avoid the same fate.

Yea!  Keep up the good work, right?  No.  Word came down that the prison was too full of these returning felons and they couldn't take any more.  It cost a fortune to incarcerate a prisoner, and the taxpayers couldn't afford the bill.  So the program was terminated, and I would imagine things eventually returned to the way they were.  (On a side note, didn't President Obama just order the release of thousands of non-violent inmates from federal prisons?  See the problem?)

For any law to work it must be complied with, either voluntarily or by threat of enforcement.  Most people pay their taxes, and for the few who don't, the Feds will step in and enforce it with threat of jail time if necessary.  The same with gun laws.  Most people buys guns legally, following the law. But for the few who don't....it's apparently more than "a few"....there is really no widespread enforcement.  The bad guys aren't afraid of getting caught, and the profit incentive to sell guns illegally is enormous.

So to those who place their faith in passing new gun laws, this is why I say you're chasing a windmill.  If you want to see a meaningful decrease in gun violence, find those ineligible to own guns yet are in possession, and LOCK THEM UP!  It's gonna be expensive, but it will work.  Then we can have the debate over incarceration vs rehabilitation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I don't think many people who are not gun owners fully understand the requirements for purchasing a firearm through a federally licensed firearms dealer (the normal route).  




A one page "Yes" or "No" questionnaire must be filled out, and the dealer then sends the data on to the FBI for validation.  Their National Instant Criminal Background Check System quickly (?) checks the name of the prospective buyer against federal and state criminal records to see if he/she is disqualified from buying a gun.

So what is a disqualifier?  You can not buy a gun if you have been convicted of a felony, or if you have a warrant out for your arrest, or have used drugs within the past year (honors system?), or were ever committed involuntarily to a mental institution or were ruled to be mentally incompetent by a judge, are living in the US illegally, have been convicted of domestic violence or have a domestic-violence-related restraining order against you, have been dishonorably discharged from the military, or have renounced your US citizenship.  Run afoul of any of those, and it's "no gun for you!"

But what if one or more of these disqualifiers applies to you, but you still want a gun?  You can try buying from an individual without a check so long as the seller reasonably believes the buyer is law abiding and will not use the gun in the commission of a crime.  This sounds rather loosie-goosie (Southern term) to me.  

So lets just tighten this up, you might say.   Yes, that's an option, but you'll be working against a very powerful sellers profit motive, and you'll just drive more buyers right into the hands of the scum bags who live and work in the shadows. "Pssst....Hey buddy.  Wanna buy a gun?"  THIS is the secret  back door to gun ownership that we can't seem to get a handle on.

Most of these cash only, no questions asked, firearms are stolen.  Have you ever had one of those door-to-door salesmen try to sell you their new miracle cleaner?  They will want to come into your home and clean your sink or counters or floor to show you how great their stuff is, but in reality what they're doing is discretely looking around your house to see if you have any telltale signs that guns might be present, like hunters trophies on the wall.  Our local police have told me this is an organized crime activity that moves from town to town for several weeks at a time.  If your home looks like a promising target, someone will come back a week or so later and break in and get your guns.

Home burglars today are looking first and foremost for firearms, followed by electronics such as laptops and tablets.  (TV's are out...it's hard to walk out with a 65" flat screen.)  Firearms are easy to carry, bring top dollar on the underground market, and have lots of willing buyers.  Organized crime has long been involved in this illegal gun trade, and just as with their drug trafficking, they are very hard to catch in the act.  

Unless we can somehow get a handle on these back door transactions, we'll continue to experience gun violence.  We already have numerous laws on the books that in theory should shut down this trade, but they obviously haven't worked.  That's why I say to those who want to enact yet more (unenforceable) laws, have at it, but don't kid yourself into thinking they will make any appreciable difference.  I hope I'm wrong, but people who should know (law enforcement) have told me that we'll just be spinning our wheels.

S

 




Thursday, December 3, 2015

Guns just went to the top of this year's Christmas "want list"


Another mass-casualty shooting, this time in Southern California.  One of the shooters worked with many of those he killed, so "workplace violence", right?  Umm, maybe.  But he was also of the Muslim faith / political persuasion, had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia to pick up his bride (the second shooter), and started growing a beard upon his return, so "Islamic terrorism", right?  Umm, maybe.

There are lots of unanswered questions, but regardless, the call for more gun control will intensify once again.  The thing most apparent to me is that, even if the "gun controllers" get the new laws they want, they will still be disappointed.

Those who buy guns legally (with background checks) will still do so.  (FYI, the guns the Cali shooters used were all purchased legally.)  Those who buy guns without background checks will still do so.  Those are the guns that will be used in most crimes, making the owners of those guns criminals.  They're already criminals, so to them, what's the big deal breaking one more law?

Let's assume you could require background checks on all gun sales from this point forward, whether from a gun dealer or from an individual, and make it stick (which you can't).  There are already somewhere between 200 and 300 MILLION guns floating around out there right now.  Who owns those?  Have they been background checked?  This is reality, folks.

If the gun controllers think they will see any appreciable difference by requiring universal background checks in 6 months, or even 6 years, they are simply being delusional.  It will likely take many decades for enough guns to be sold with checks to new, properly vetted owners to see any difference at all. 

The reality is this:  If there was ever an issue that will cause otherwise fine, upstanding citizens to resort to "civil disobedience", restricting their Second Amendment rights to "keep and bear arms" is it.  In their minds, whether you agree or not, the Bill of Rights to our Constitution says it's legal to own guns, and as the Supreme Court has agreed, they wouldn't be breaking any law if they resisted.  You can argue until you're blue about the definition of "well armed militia", they won't care.

If you make new laws that in effect outlaw certain types of guns, you've just opened up a whole new field for organized crime to capitalize on.  It didn't work with alcohol back in the 1920's and 30's, and it won't work with guns today.  Too many people already have them, and too many others want them.

So IMHO even if the gun controllers do get their wish, the effect on the number of future mass shootings will be virtually non-existent.  If they want to try, go ahead.  They will just be pissing into the wind.  Don't expect any miracle results. 

Please don't shoot the messenger.

S