Friday, February 26, 2016

In other news: a rush in gun sales following the latest mass shooting...

Apparently it is news, and somehow supports some of the Gun Culture arguments, that concealed carry permits and gun sales have gone through the roof in the communities which have recently hosted the latest mass shootings. They report this like it's news. More guns is the only way to make us safer. Gun Culture proclaims that it is a natural reaction to violence, that people are responsible for their own protection, and that we cannot rely on laws to protect us. They are correct, in their first two points. This is not a call for more laws. That is a different discussion. This is pulling back of the curtain of the third argument, it is clear where the cause lies. People aren't just buying more guns because they understand the first two arguments. They are rushing to buy even more firearms because, well, it's simple. Because, we, as a society, refuse to do something about the killings. Until we do, the only solution will be more guns and more death.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I've been using the Internet wrong.

I've been using the Internet wrong.
I've suspected it for a while. A recent article prompted me to think a little deeper, look more inward, on how I interact with the Web. It was a Facebook post that starts, "America has become the land of the perpetually offended," by Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station:
I first met Jim when we were sharing posts about the mass shootings hitting the news so frequently over the last couple years. I shared my own experience as a LEO, an armed private security guard and trainer, and a mercenary in Iraq in 2004. But I digress...
Back in 1988, when I discovered the Internet, it was mostly mailing lists and USENET. There was even a BBS or two that I visited -- all via 2400 baud modem and a dumb terminal.
While there is a flood of information, the actual interactions of most Netizens hasn't changed. Actually, it's gotten worse.
While the Internet and all it contains is amazingly useful information, research, discusson and work it's also something else. It's a perpetual, ever ending, self-feeding, offended outrage machine.
I've found myself, especially over the last few years, drawn in, time and time again, over this offense, that outrage. In some cases there was clearly someone wrong on the Internet and it needed to be fixed (yeah, right). But mostly, it was outrage after outrage. My friend @courtnee has mentioned this too.
I've come to the realization that, especially on places like Facebook, Google+ and potentially, new places like this, can turn into nothing more than fuel for the Outrage Machine. Are there things that truly deserve our outrage and, this is key, our attention and energy? Absolutely. It is only through sharing issues and challenges in our society, by communicating about them, that we get visibility and, hopefully, eventually, some action.
But a lot of it, a vast majority, is just information meant to poke, to prod, to entertain, and to outrage. It's toxic, I'm coming to understand, reading headline, after link-bait, after shared article, after stupid comment (I'm doing much better at not even looking at comments anymore on any newspaper article or story). Someone committed a horrific crime, someone said something stupid about equal rights, women, homosexuality, or politics.
Ick. Done with feeding at that trough for the most part. The world is vast, the challenges many, and the opportunities for useless and fruitless outrage so very, very many. But that is only if we eat, consume and contribute the never ending cycle of sharing, of promoting offense and outrage, of entertaining myself with conflict.
Don't need it. Don't want it. Time to wean off of it.
Outrage and offensensitivity does not serve my life.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Enchanted Sidearms for the Police.

Let's just assume for a moment that this man did not have a weapon in his hands. Can you go with that?
Now let me address it from that standpoint. Deadly force is not authorized, by any use of force guidelines of which I'm aware, due to a suspect acting irrationally. Just because someone may want to complete a suicide by cop doesn't mean you oblige them.

There were two officers there. Were they so untrained, so unprepared with other use of force options, that their only solution to a problem such as this is to *take the subject's life*???
What kind of incompetent, uncaring, uncompassionate LEO does that? People call the police to solve problems. Sidearms are a solution to a very small subset of the variety of problems that police face every day. As soon as they become the primary solution, this is what you get.

When I was in the academy, we were in Defensive Tactics class every single day, for two hours a day, during 6 months of training. We practiced moving from one use of force option to the next, and back again, based on the situation at hand. Yes, that included holstering your sidearm to go hands on and subdue a suspect, for our own safety -- and get this -- theirs too.

Pulling your sidearm should not limit your options. It's not like some mythical sword in some fantasy novel, where it must taste blood before it can be put away.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ending the Shame

What is the malfunction of our society, here in America, where we treat addiction as a crime, instead of a disease or syndrome that we can treat?  Why cannot we realize, even for an instant, that laws don't prevent those addicted to alcohol or drugs, from falling into the abyss of addiction?  What is our malfunction, as a society, that we refuse see the tragic mistakes we make around addiction? Why do we not care?

Is it because, for most of the population, addiction is a thing that they think happens to others?  If that is the case, where the hell is our compassion and empathy?  I can tell you where it is. It's subsumed by self-pride.   You see, in our rush to hold ourselves up as stronger, better, without that particular failing, we judge those with addiction as possessing a weakness.  Those people, those drunks, those addicts, those thugs, those criminals; they are flawed.  And we aren't like that.  Not us, as we turn towards our daily drink, or stagger home from yet another weekend party, writing a hangover check that will be cashed the next day.

Are we truly that ignorant, in our hubris, in our pride, that we see this only one way; that the addict is weak and, since we are not addicted, we are not weak?  We are better.  More an adult.  More responsible. Yes.  Better.  Yes. There.  That makes us feel better, doesn't it?

And society thinks they will never fall to addiction, as they have that second candy bar after a stressful meeting at work, or start counting the hours until that after dinner drink, or drinks.

But they aren't addicted, not them. Not them.

The judgement rolls on, keeping alcoholics and addicts in the dark.  It prevents many who need it from seeking help, walling them off from the support of their fellow human beings. They end up trapped behind those walls, in a dark solitude, until, finally -- either they pay for this in their deaths, or finally swallow their pride and seek out help. Yet, that help is often in secret, so no one knows.  No one must know. If others knew, there would be shame, judgement, possible lack of status, of employment, gone relationships, loss of status as a responsible person.

"You are weak. You are an addict. You chose this. You should be ashamed. You should not have started. You should just stop."

I would bet some of the people saying things like this to addicts smoke cigarettes and tried to quit but have failed. There is also a chance they are veterans of many failed diets; overweight, possibly diabetic, looking down a road that ends in completely preventable death of cardio-vascular disease. Let's not leave out the "social drinker" who has, by sheer luck, not yet been pulled over for their first well deserved DUI, who is celebrating their status as life of the party, who looks forward to the end of the day for their drink.

The self-blindness of human beings is appalling, legion and pervasive.

The only way this can change is to bring light to what addiction is really about. It's not about weakness, lack of morality, or being less of a human than the blind judge. It's being all too human, but with some difference, some wiring that the Judge is fortunate enough to lack -- if in truth are not also afflicted with something they are simply blind to.

The only way to bring light to it is to speak openly, saying, "fuck you" to the judges of the world, and doing what is right for us, and for our fellow man.

Russell Brand had done so in light of the tragic and unexpected death of the great actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. He has spoken powerfully and courageously of his own daily battle with addiction. As Brand has stated so eloquently, because of the media circus surrounding other actors and celebrities, we expect them to fall to this. We possibly even cheer it (they deserved it, remember?), because a media that reinforces the shame of addiction and holds up victims as flawed and weak.  So, how are we are surprised by the death of Hoffman?


We are only surprised because of our sheer hubris and ignorance, not because we weren't paying attention.

On October 5th of last  year, I was given a tough life blow. I had a couple year relationship with a woman that I thought was based on mutual respect, honesty, compassion and, yes, on love. The outcome of that day was a feeling of being quite thoroughly and summarily dumped. I was set adrift, wondering what the hell happened. I was basically "laid off" from a relationship so neatly. What did I do, or not to, to make her decide that she didn't want me anymore?

In all honesty, the woman who said she didn't want me anymore isn't the villain here. She isn't. Decisions of the heart are often hard. I knew this. Though it would have been easy to turn on her, I deliberately chose not to punish her for not being able to be straight with me. I still feel some love for her. I can't be mean -- not to her. Not really.

But, the question remained; why didn't she want me anymore? I asked myself that question all the next day as I sat alone, drinking whisky. Drinking both numbed the pain and drove me deeper into self-doubt and depression. The numbness was nice, comforting, and something I thought I needed. Actually, in all honesty, I thought I was escaping the pain but, in reality I was weaving a trap, one I had made before. I did it when my mother died. I did it when my father died. I did it when my brother died.  I did it when my other brother died. I did it when my partner of five years dumped me the weekend my father died. Each time, I thought I was medicating my pain but, in reality it was just me hurting myself by starting the episode with these words:

"Fuck it," he says again, reaching for the bottle.

By the way, before I go on. To her, to my ex who dumped me in October: Thank you. Really.

You will see why shortly.

I can be mean to myself and I did just that. That night, as my loving partner returned from a day away, I was quite thoroughly drunk. Oh, I wasn't falling over, passing out, or throwing up all over our home. I was feeling no pain -- physically. She knew why I was hurting. She had seen this before and, true to her kindness, patience, and forbearance, simply let me go to bed and sleep it off.

The next day, I felt like hell. I suffered at work, finally giving up and calling her into an office before I left for home.

I sat down with my partner and said to the person who loves me, honestly, openly, "I don't know if I'm an alcoholic -- maybe I am -- but I want to stop drinking. I don't like the patterns I've been seeing in how I drink. I'm not present. I'm not clear enough. I'm getting too old for this cycle of drinking and not feeling well afterward. Also, I don't need it.  I really don't. I have to stop. I don't ever want to drink anymore. I know I said it three months ago and four months before that. This time, I mean it.  I really do."

There, I said it.  I said it to myself, to a person who loves me very much, and later, to a few others.

To her credit, that day, she found me a program to join.

By the way, the program I'm in isn't AA.  If you want to know what it is, just ask. I'll share it with you. The religious overtones, the punitive nature that I perceived in how AA dealt with responsibility, how they made you reliant on another for your success didn't speak to me.

I've been in that program since the week of my birthday. I should finish it this spring. All my program is, for me, is talking, clearly stating my intent, and keeping that commitment to myself and my partner. The other members are just those that I support and who act as witnesses to my intent. That intent and commitment is simple: I will not drink again, ever. Not ever.

I've seen others in this program who I would look at and say to myself,  "well, at least I'm not as bad off as that guy." Oh, in the past, I also have trotted out how I'm not a drug addict. No sir.  Not me.  I'm too smart for that. See?

And in that, I was doing exactly what I find so reprehensible about the judges of our society I addressed above. True, at least I didn't say it to that drunk, or that addict, but I said it to myself, and I said it to my partner.  Many times I pointed out to concerned others how I never had a DUI, never lost my job because of drinking, didn't make a host of bad decisions people usually associate with alcohol. I'm responsible. That was my justification to not look honestly at myself. I refused to see that alcohol wasn't good for me, that I didn't understand what it did to me but, mostly that I didn't care if I did know.

In the end, though, I needed was to be hurt enough, angry enough, or bored enough, and I'd hurt myself with alcohol. The sheer stupidity of hurting myself like that, after someone else has already hurt me by treating me poorly -- it just boggles the mind.

Facing reality is hard sometimes. I will tell you that facing it with a clear head sure seems to work for me much better than coming out of a self-medicated fog, into a hangover, collecting myself and waiting for the next blow.

No more. My life is mine. Sometimes it's going to be wonderful and sometimes it will be an abyss of difficulty. Either way, whether in triumph or despair, alcohol will not improve it -- not one bit.  Not at all.

With that said, I come back around to the shame. I've told very few people. Good friends have been told, others have guessed and, you know what?

Not one has judged me that I can tell. Not one. So, what was the shame about?

It's about you people. Those of you in organized religion, you in the media, you who are fortunate enough not to be addicted but also unfortunate enough to not have any damn empathy. It's you who keep those struggling in addiction there, with your Drug War laws, your gossip after holiday parties, with your unwillingness to support health (medical and mental) programs that would help our fellow citizens. It's also your inability to reach out to someone who needs it and ask, "are you OK?"

Because it's easier to judge, save a little of your precious tax money, demand that it not be spent on "those people", while you continue to operate in a empathetic void towards your fellow human beings.

Well, to you I say, "Fuck you."

I stand here, unashamed for my life or my decisions. I'll stand this ground. Free by my own decisions. I'll continue here, open, caring, and willing to spend whatever time anyone needs to become free of their shame and the dark abyss of addiction.

My arms are open. Whoever you are, you will make it. Just take the step. My arms are open.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Response to "My Life as a Tyrant"

Response to My Life as a Tyrant.

Update: He hasn't posted my comment.

Having served in a metropolitan police force a decade ago and having served as private security in Iraq in 2004; I hear you.  I hear you on the abuses in Kosovo (the tyranny) and on how citizens need to protect themselves.  My thought is that personal firearms are for personal defense; "protecting yourself or another from grave bodily injury or death."

Like you, I have little or no problem with legal carry and ownership, especially if the person carrying is qualified (most are not) to handle those firearms for self defense. Sadly, most are not qualified, most are not trained in bring their firearms to bear in a combat situation.  I'll touch on this later.

Now, what I write next may seem to disagree with you. It may be arguing for the banning of the possession of some weapons. In essence I'm not.  I just has some concerns about the ramifications of saying the 2nd amendment protects us from the tyranny of ourselves (our government).  As for protecting ourselves from the tyranny of our government? I don't know how that is possible or practical in any real sense.

Why?  That would mean weapons of war in the hands of civilians.  We are talking about AR variants in their many forms which, with the exception of one function (select fire), are basically functionally the same as the weapons you and I carried overseas.  You carried weapons of war. I carried weapons of war.  I'll say it again.  Many of the AR variants sold today by the manufacturers and dealers are functionally the same as what you and I carried.  The only thing missing is select fire.

Even with that function missing, you and I both know just how effective an AR variant is, even in single-shot mode.

Should the general population have access to weapons of war?  I really don't know.  I don't have an easy answer for that.  We could try to ban them, as we have attempted to do in the past.  It didn't work very well.  It especially won't work very well when the technology exists *today* to use 3D modeling software and a 3D printer to "print" an AR lower receiver and large cap magazines.  The latest version of that lower receiver shot over 600 rounds before failure. It cost almost nothing to produce.  *Anyone* with the software, the plans file and a printer could have made one.

Add all the accessory components available over the internet and from local dealers and -- Bingo!  Instant weapon of war.

There are more weapons in currently in the hands of civilians in this country than we have in the hands of trained military.  It's not practical, nor even possible, to collect them all. I don't think it will ever be.  Would you participate in the door to door search and ollection of said firearms?  When, not if, but when the inevitable confrontation breaks out, would you return effective and deadly fire?  That is the situation every front line solider and police officer would face.  The government knows this.

Can the government convince our front line soldiers and police to try to take them away? Can they convince our front line soldiers and police to get into firefights with civilians by deeming them domestic terrorists?  It's possible they can.  Such confrontations always depend on the willingness of the front line enforcers to carry out the orders of their superiors.

Even in your situation, you could not stop Joe.  No one would listen to you.

So we have an uneasy state of balance in this country. There are really more firearms out there already than we can every hope to take away.  They are in the hands of a populace that, to a significant degree, will not turn them in. There is even another significant part of the populace that, dare I say, is actually hoping someone will try.  Those are the deterrent to any real attempt to remove firearms from the populace.

But we also have a problem.  Those same AR variants are falling into the hands of people who are "good guys" on paper. Those good guys are turning out to be not so good.  They are mowing down innocent theater goers, children in schools, with those same weapons of war. Other "nice quiet men" (yes, they are mostly men), are using handguns to clean out coffee shops in Seattle to avenge supposed wrongs.

Now, the pat response to this from some "gun rights" advocates is to have more firearms out there, to arm more people, to arm our teachers, our firefighters, our first responders.  Really?

There has to be another answer to gun violence in this country than "more guns".  There has to be an answer to the Gun Culture in this country, the fear they continue to feed, the violence they continue to dismiss with rhetorical hand waving, and the hand they have in the same violence.  When I say Gun Culture, I'm taking about the people who don't see weapons as a tool but as a hobby, a fetish, a multi-million dollar line of business, and a security blanket.

That same Gun Culture fights, at every front, at any reasonable (yes some are quite reasonable) attempts to regulate the ownership, sale and transfer of weapons.  They see *any* regulation as infringement. I am of the opinion that they are wrong and, the thing is, it helps the mentally unstable, the criminal, the "bad guys" get access to what are basically weapons of war.

This United States of America has a real problem with gun violence.  That problem is fed through a deadly combination of fear mongering, afraid people, opportunistic politicians and capitalists, and entertainment where violence and firearms are the stars, not the actors.

I believe that we have a legal right to have the ability to effectively protect ourselves and others from the imminent threat of grave bodily injury or death.  I believe that firearms are effective and reasonable tools to that end.

I also believe that the firearm ownership in this country is an effective deterrent to outright government tyranny.

But I also believe we have a serious problem with gun violence in this country that cannot be solved with more guns and less regulations.

So, what are we going to do about it?

By the way, thanks for trying to stand up for what was right in Kosovo.  I ran into similar situations when I was in Iraq, and when I was a LEO.  It's sometimes hard to balance your career/safety/paycheck against your desire to do the right thing.  That balancing act isn't always easy.  Thanks for trying.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weapons of War

There is no sane reason to own weapons of war for sporting purposes.  The AR variants sold to the public *are* weapons of war for all intents and purposes with just one function removed.  The Assault Weapons Ban does not describe cosmetic characteristics but actual functionality. They describe weapons that are directly pattered, if not exactly the same, in all respects but one (select fire), of actual weapons of war issued to our troops and used in theaters of war.

Calling an AR variant a "sport rifle" is like calling a F1 race car with street tires a family car.  It's still a weapon of war, just like the street-tire-shod F1 race car is *still* a race car.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Get a better argument because this one is stupid.

Are you amused by this diversion from the actual discussion of a real problem?

This would be somewhat funny, sortof, were it not for the children they just finished burying in Newtown.

Show me the article where someone killed that may people in a "hammering spree" so easily and it might have a point.

The sheer stupidity of an argument like this is so old and useless for any real work it should be sitting on a porch, rocking in a chair, and telling kids to get off it's lawn.

Yes, people can die from the effects of cars, clubs, bombs, or strangling.

However, nothing, I mean nothing (and I know) beats the efficiency of a firearm. That is why they are used in wars -- to kill the enemy. Of all the classes of firearms, nothing, I mean nothing (or it would be used instead) beats some version/variant of the military assault (yes that is a real term) rifle.

You can have a car, a club, a knife or your strong manly hands all you want.

You wouldn't stand a chance against a reasonable skilled person who was pointing an AR variant at you. 

Like this one...

Posted Image

It can have a high capacity magazine in it, capable of carrying up to 30 rounds.

If I stagger tape a few together, I have an uninterrupted rate of fire until I go through just a little over 100 rounds. That means I can pull one round a second at a target for almost two minutes, before I have to drop this mag and slot another (call that five seconds).

It has an effective (lethal and useful) open-sights range of about 500 yards. Within 100 yards it's very deadly.

Put a 4 power mil-dot scope on one and the person wielding it is even more effective and at longer ranges too.

So make all the comparisons of the lethal nature of cars, clubs, knives, or even 747 aircraft all you want. That doesn't make those comparisons credible.

Almost nothing beats the effectiveness of one of these weapons for killing other human beings.

That's why the military uses them. That's why I carried one in Iraq.

Go find another argument to defend your fears of losing your military toys.

Your current one is stupid.