Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sandy Hook / "Gun Control"

As we process and respond to the tragedy in Connecticut, one things the news media keeps saying is we should have more “discourse on gun control”. For those of you that know me, you know that I own firearms. I’m a firearms instructor, active in firearms-friendly legislative activism at the state level, a novice competition shooter, a state-licensed armed guard, and yes, an NRA Life Member. I teach Boy Scouts how to shoot. I own guns. I carry a gun more often than not (when I’m not working, that is). I’m well versed in firearms law as it pertains to individual ownership and carry (because anyone who carries a gun needs to be).

There is lots of talk about gun control on a daily basis. I try to tune much of it out, because my father once taught me something about wrestling with a pig. Sometimes, I attempt to have reasonable discourse – often it ends with folks who like to profess tolerance and acceptance telling me they are sick of arguing with me, and that they shouldn’t have to “tolerate” my kind. I always find that bit ironic.

Some of the discussion lately has gone so far as to suggest drastic restrictions on gun ownership – like the bans in the UK and Australia. News flash: The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld that the Second Amendment does, in fact, grant residents of this great country the right to keep and bear arms. If you truly want to discard the Second Amendment, I urge you to reconsider. The framers gave us 12 amendments as a proposed Bill of Rights to cover issues not addressed entirely in the Constitution (11 of those were passed as amendments, and the 12th would drastically increase the number of members of the House of Representatives, so it’s probably just as well it hasn’t passed).

Any argument that could be used to justify the repeal of the 2nd amendment could be used to justify the repeal of any of the amendments. I would fear for our country if it comes to this. What would life be like without freedom of the press, or freedom of religion? What about the protections against unreasonable searches and seizures? If we see the Second Amendment gutted, how long until we have “papers, please” checkpoints and searches throughout the country?

There’s a parable that is attributed to Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran minister and outspoken opponent of the Nazis:
First they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

This particular parable speaks volumes to me because I AM a Jew. Yeah, I’m even a member of JPFO, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (

For my Law Enforcement and .mil friends – if you haven’t heard of the Oath Keepers ( , I’d strongly encourage you to look into the group. Many elected and appointed public servants SWEAR to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Oath Keepers profess “Not on our watch!” They say they will refuse unconstitutional orders, such as firearm confiscation, or the unlawful detention of Americans.

And what of lesser measures? We had an “Assault Weapons” ban for 10 years. There is no real evidence it made a difference in firearms crimes. All it did was raise market prices for things like “pre ban” magazines and firearms. Registration? Well, why does the Government need to know what guns I have… unless it is a prelude to confiscation? On top of that, once they have the information, no good can come of it. The number of times that law enforcement has successfully used registration data to trace firearms in crimes is statistically insignificant.Now What?

I’m all in favor of discussing mental health, and “keeping the crazies from getting guns”, to quote something I heard on Facebook. I’m not convinced that more gun laws are going to make a difference in preventing another mass shooting event.

One thing that many of these shootings have in common is that they occur in areas where firearms have been prohibited. Add to the fact that several recent events have been stopped, at least partially, by folks lawfully carrying concealed, and I am having a hard time understanding arguments in favor of restricting concealed carry.

As for incidents, look no further than the Clackamas Town Center shooting last week. 2 Dead, 1 injured. An individual carrying a concealed firearm says he drew down on the shooter, but held his fire because he didn’t have a clear shot. The shooter than retreated and took his own life. In the Tuscon shootings, one of the civilians that ran TOWARDS the shooting to help was carrying a concealed firearm. Since that psycho was already restrained, he didn’t need to use it.

Oh, and I’m assuming most of my readers have already seen the “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event” video. It’s linked here anyway ( Look at 0:58 in the video. The Section 30.06 Trespass warning is clearly visible. ( The video illustrates the point that shooters often choose Gun Free Zones. On top of that, we are told that, as a last option, we should fight with improvised weapons – like chairs and fire extinguishers. Why must they be improvised? Oh, that’s right – we’re in a GUN FREE ZONE. So why does the shooter have a gun, again? Oh – he’s not really concerned with violating one MORE law, given that he’s planning on KILLING a whole bunch of folks. From what it sounds like, that’s exactly what at least some of the Sandy Hook staff did. And they paid for it with their lives.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Vending Machine

The other night, I was on with the Campus First Responder squad, and I got toned out at 3am for an “alcohol evaluation” – that’s Campus PD code for “come look at this drunk and try to talk them into going to the hospital.”

As I rub sleep out of my eyes, I go to the truck, driveacross campus, and meet up with campus PD. The call is in a vending area off ofthe lobby of a residence hall. I get a brief story from Campus PD – turns out,this guy came downstairs to the lobby, walked over to the vending area, andthen passed out. PD found him lying in a pile of quarters, out cold in front ofthe Coke machine.

So I work my way though the assessment. I ask him what hehad to drink tonight. At first, he gives me the ubiquitous answer “Two Beers”,but I press on, and ask again – “What did you have to drink?” So he starts:  “I had a Skittles. And a Reese’s, and a 3Musketeers…” I look over at the snack machine the patient is facing. Sure enough, I see he’s reading off the row of candy. Then he finishes off “… then I had a Fritos.” I look at the cop, and he looks at me. Both of us are trying to keep a straight face, and failing.

In the end, he signed a refusal (Press Hard, Making Two Copies), and I went back to bed, but not before I talked with the cop. Turnsout both of us had the same train of thought… we’d heard of a Skittles shot,and a Reese’s shot seemed logical… then we both noticed the vending machine,and realized he was demonstrating he could read candy bar names right as he gave the punch line: “…then I had a Fritos.”

And people wonder why I volunteer on the college campus.Not only is it a chance to take a break from ALS CCT and keep my BLS skills sharp, but sometimes the patients say the darndest things.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook - Some Links, The Victims and the Media

Over the past several days, the tragedy in Newton, CT, has been on the mind of our great nation, and the world. I was at work on Friday when it happened… A local paramedic I follow on Twitter summed up thoughts of my partner and myself Friday: “I have been on some nasty scenes @ work. I hope I never see something like this.”

Kelly Grayson has a great post up on the thoughts of all EMS and Public Safety being with not only those in the Sandy Hill School community, but in the Newtown public safety community. To the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and mutual aid EMS (including folks from my employer), Newtown and surrounding FD’s. Newtown PD, neighboring municipalities, and CT State Police, and all the federal agencies that are involved in the response to this horrific event – you are in the thoughts of every one of your public safety family. Thank you for doing what needs to be done, and remember – when the dust settles, you’re victims, too. If you need to talk, or get help – do so. There is no shame is that.

For the second link, there is an excellent blog post that I’ve read a couple of times now posted over at I strongly suggest that you read that, too. I’ve seen kids like “Michael” before. They do exist, and his is not an isolated case.

Now, to the actual events, and my take on them. When I found out about the shooting, I was at work. I turned on the news on the TV for about 15 minutes, caught the first press conference, and then just turned it off. I had no desire to watch talking heads talk about what they didn’t know and make wild guesses.

We live in a world of 24 hour news. I understand that they have a job to do – but that environment can be very toxic. I was at work as a security dispatcher on the day of the Virginia Tech shooting. CNN was on all day in our dispatch center, for a number of sound reasons. They showed the same images repeatedly for days on end as they talked about the events, the killer, and speculated about everything they DIDN’T know. I can’t really think of any benefits to that. All it does is cause stress to those watching it. On top of that, the motive behind many of the terrorists that cause such massive death is to go out in a blaze of glory. They usually leave manifestos and statements, and the media feeds into that by publishing their names and faces, as well as their life stories. They get to be household names in death, when, in life, no one knew who they were.

There was a posting floating around the internet over theweekend attributed to Morgan Freeman that called out the media on their vulture traits. Turns out, it wasn't Morgan Freeman – but that doesn't make it any less accurate. The Fourth Estate needs to do some serious soul-searching (if they know what a soul is, anymore), and really think about what their purpose is. If they want to help, they need to spend more time talking about each of the victims than the shooter – in fact, I’d argue that since the shooter did what he did to gain notoriety, that the worst punishment would be to not mention him. Don’t show his photo. Don’t print his name. Don’t talk with his relatives, and don’t speculate on his motive. In the end, he’s dead, and will answer to no earthly judge for his heinous crimes.

The text attributed to Freeman said something else that really illustrates this point. Let’s talk about “Active Shooter” events of the last few years: How many victims of these events can you name? How many if you discount Congresswoman Giffords? Can you name the date of many of these tragic events? For many of the events, the ONLY thing we remember are the locations, and the names of the terrorists. Let’s honor the victims, and not the event itself.

From WBZ News from Boston, the victims:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel D’Avino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hocksprung, 47
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Nancy Lanza, 52
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emile Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6