Jersey Justice

If you’re paying any attention to the news, you’ve been hearing that people are suddenly shocked to learn that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice cold cocked his fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator in February. (She later married him.)

But if you missed the news back then, it was probably because he was given a 2-game suspension by the NFL, and placed into a pretrial diversion program by the prosecutor in Atlantic County, New Jersey.  A slap on the wrist.  But now video of the incident has surfaced, and everybody is suddenly outraged.  The NFL has suspended Ray Rice indefinitely, and the Ravens have released him from his contract because despite all the dealings over this issue over the last several months, now they are really upset!  “Oh…when you said he hit his wife, you meant he hit his wife?”


Atlantic County DA Jim McClain: “Deal.”

But if you want to get outraged about something, take another look at the “justice” meted out by that same Atlantic County prosecutor who let Ray Rice avoid jail for brutally assaulting his wife.  If you want to see what New Jersey justice looks like, compare the Rice case to the case of Shaneen Allen.

Shaneen Allen is a single mother of two young sons, who was arrested and charged in Atlantic County last fall for carrying a firearm, and for possession of hollowpoint ammunition for that firearm.  As a resident of Pennsylvania, Allen would have been perfectly legal in her home state.  She has a valid concealed carry permit there, and her equipment is within the limits of the law in that state.

Atlantic County DA Jim McClain: “No deal.”

But what Shaneen Allen failed to understand is that New Jersey is a different animal…much different…than Pennsylvania.  For starters, New Jersey does not recognize the concealed carry permit of any other state.  Shaneen Allen did not realize this when she mistakenly crossed into New Jersey, and when stopped for a traffic violation, notified the police officer that she was carrying.

She was immediately arrested, and then the officer discovered that her gun was loaded with (gasp!) illegal hollowpoint ammunition, of the exact same type that almost every police officer in the country carries.  In fact, I’d be more than happy to bet that the cop who arrested her was carrying hollowpoint ammunition…OK for the rulers, not the peasants.

Since that day, Shaneen Allen has been denied pre-trial diversion, and is now scheduled to go to trial on charges which could result in 3-11 years in prison under New Jersey’s mandatory sentencing laws.  She has no criminal record, was not engaged in criminal activity (other than speeding), yet she is facing a felony conviction and prison for what was an honest mistake.  Ray Rice has not spent a day in jail…nor will he.

Before you get all “law and order” on me, understand that it was the exact same prosecutor and exact same judge who placed Ray Rice into diversion who also denied Shaneen Allen entry into the same program, although she did meet the parameters for admission.  This is not an instance of two different jurisdictions with different takes on the law and its application.  Simply put, Superior Court Judge Michael Donio and District Attorney Jim McClain looked at both cases, and concluded that Ray Rice should get a slap on the wrist while Shaneen Allen deserves prison.

This is a judge and prosecutor sending a message, and that message seems pretty clear. This is New Jersey justice.

You can donate to Shaneen Allen’s legal defense fund here, and let your elected representatives know that you support national concealed carry reciprocity.


The Good Idea Fairy

Universal Background Checks.  Boy, it sure sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

Ever heard of the “Good Idea Fairy”?  If you’ve ever been in the military, you have.  If not, the Urban Dictionary defines it as:

“An evil mythical creature that whispers advice and ideas into the ears of military leadership, causing hundreds of unnecessary changes and countless wasted man-hours every year. The Good Idea Fairy should be shot on sight if she is seen in your area.”


Widely regarded as the most accurate image of the Good Idea Fairy, drawn by Mark Baker

This is widely regarded as the most accurate image of the Good Idea Fairy, as drawn by Mark Baker


Of course, the Good Idea Fairy got her start in the military, but she didn’t stop there.  If there was ever proof that the Good Idea Fairy is real, it is the concept of universal background checks for gun transfers.  On the surface, universal background checks sounds like a great idea.  It’s really simple.  Everybody has to have a background check before they can have a gun…easy peasy, right?  Not so fast, Good Idea Fairy.

The first, most obvious problem is how to get criminals to submit to a background check.  The short answer is that they won’t, but the Good Idea Fairy thinks that this is exactly why universal background checks are so awesome.  Since criminals won’t get background checks, they’ll have a harder time obtaining guns!  But according to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only about 20% of criminals got their guns from retail sources such as gun stores, pawn shops, and gun shows, where background checks are already required by law (and where those criminals obviously passed the background check).  The other approximately 80% got theirs from street and other illegal sources, or from family and friends.

So the Good Idea Fairy seems to think that the solution is to require background checks on the other 80%?  How do you figure that is going to work?  I think we can agree that the street/illegal sources aren’t going to be doing any background checks, which leaves “family and friends.”


Background check?  I don't think so.

Background check? I don’t think so.


Background checks on family and friends is problematic for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it would be largely unenforceable.  Now, the Good Idea Fairy has a solution for that, which is that the government should simply be able to ask “where’d you get that gun,” anytime it wants, and there had better be a background check on file for whatever source you give.  That requires that records of background checks be saved in a federal registry…which is illegal under the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986.

And I know…the Good Idea Fairy thinks gun registration is just peachy.  But the Good Idea Fairy likes to ignore the fact that historically, registration of firearms has always preceded their confiscation.  It has to, because it’s much, much harder to confiscate the guns if you don’t have a list of who has them.  The Good Idea Fairy will tell you that’s nothing to worry about, though, because even if that was true, gun confiscation would never happen here in the good ol’ USA…because freedom.  Or something.  But she forgets (or ignores) the fact that it already has.


Image courtesy of Oleg Volk

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk


That is why everybody hates the Good Idea Fairy…and smart gun owners hate the idea of universal background checks.  They won’t stop the people who already are criminals, they will make criminals out of law abiding citizens, and they create an illegal gun registry.

(There’s plenty more wrong with universal background checks, but that’s enough for now…the Good Idea Fairy was never great at details.)


I’m So Confused!

There’s a story making the rounds that the New York City Council has introduced a new bill which would make their gun offender registry public, and allow residents to sign up for an email alert if a Registered Gun Offender™ moves into the neighborhood.


NYC Councilman Costa Constantinides admits gun control doesn't work. (Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste)

NYC Councilman Costa Constantinides admits gun control doesn’t work.
(Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste)


But why would such a law be necessary?  You see, all residents of New York city must apply for a permit to simply possess a firearm of any type…and I can’t imagine that the city is in the habit of issuing permits to those who are Registered Gun Offenders™ in the state of New York.

So what is the need to notify anyone that there’s a Registered Gun Offender™ in the neighborhood?  If existing New York gun control laws worked, those would be the least likely people in the neighborhood to have a gun, right?

I know!  Maybe it is so that the neighbors of the Registered Gun Offender™ will feel better, knowing that there is at least one person in their neighborhood who doesn’t have a gun!

I mean, if New York is afraid that a Registered Gun Offender™ might still be a risk to commit a crime with a gun…that would be like admitting gun control laws don’t work.

Which is it?  I’m so confused…



The recent shooting of an unarmed black man by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer has raised many questions about proper use of lethal force, and rightly so.  But there has also been a serious shortage of any rational discussion of the topic, and I’d like to address one aspect of that here.

One of the first aspects of the shooting that the layperson will latch onto is that Michael Brown was not armed with a weapon.  To some, this is irrefutable proof that his shooting falls somewhere between an unjustifiable mistake and straight up murder.  Many are unfamiliar with both the law regarding self-defense, and with the realities of violent confrontation, and thus they cannot reconcile that an armed police officer may be justified in shooting an unarmed person.

Disclaimer:  I do not have enough information to say one way or the other whether or not this particular  shooting in Ferguson was legally justifiable, and I have not come to any such conclusion.  There are multiple factors which will have to be considered to make that assessment.  My intent is simply to offer an understanding of how the single factor of an unarmed assailant does not necessarily mean that a shooting is not justified.  I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.


Image: KMBC-TV9, Kansas City

Image: KMBC-TV9, Kansas City


Once upon a time, I was a police officer.  There is a common hypothetical scenario which is used to assess police applicants, and it was presented to me when I applied to my agency.  It goes something like this:

You are a police officer on foot patrol in a deserted industrial area, when you hear cries for help.  When you locate the source, you see a burly man in work clothes and work boots standing over a fellow police officer, kicking him in the head.  The man has no visible weapon.  The officer is visibly injured, and is calling to you to help him.  Between you and the injured officer and his attacker, however…is a tall chain link fence. What do you do?

Often times, an interviewee being posed this question will offer different solutions.  Some typical answers, with the interviewer’s response:

Applicant:  “I’d climb the fence and help him.”  Interviewer:  “It is electrified.  You cannot climb it.”

Applicant:  “I’d run around the fence.”  Interviewer:  “It extends as far as you can see.  You cannot get around.”

Applicant:  “I’d crawl under.”  Interviewer:  “It’s set into concrete.”

Applicant:  “I’d pepper spray the bad guy.”  Interviewer:  “It is ineffective.”

And this goes on as long as necessary until the applicant is forced to decide between shooting the unarmed assailant, or allowing his fellow officer to die.  Some can never reach that conclusion.

Most will eventually conclude that sometimes it is justifiable to shoot someone who does not have a weapon.  Did you?  In 2011, the FBI reported that 726 homicide victims were killed with nothing more than the feet and/or hands of their attackers…more than were killed with rifles.

So how do we apply this to our understanding of the Ferguson shooting?  By recognizing that the knowledge that Michael Brown did not have a weapon is not by itself enough to determine whether or not his shooting was justifiable. There may yet emerge information to show that the officer was wrong, but this fact taken in isolation is not it. The totality of the circumstances must be taken into account…and we don’t know that yet.


Note:  For a more in-depth understanding of the legal foundations of self defense, I must recommend Andrew Branca’s excellent book, The Law of Self Defense.



Back To School

It’s back to school time, and back to business as usual in most districts.

We’ve already got brainless administrators suspending kids for behaving like kids.  Only a few days into the school year, and we have a 4th grader suspended for bringing a Nerf gun to school for show and tell.  Does anyone really believe that measures like this make schools safer?  Really?


School violence averted? Or anti-gun agenda served? (Photo: Scott Ramsey for 13WMAZ)

School violence averted?
Or anti-gun agenda served?
(Photo: Scott Ramsey for 13WMAZ)


The best case is that policies such as this are in place simply so that school administrators do not have to use common sense and good judgement when it comes to disciplinary procedures.  And whether by design or coincidence, it is a means to condition an entire generation to shrink in horror from not just guns, but anything resembling one.  Neither is right.

So what steps are school administrators taking to make schools safer from violence?  In some cases, courageous school leaders are taking steps to minimize casualties by allowing staff members to go armed, ensuring a more rapid and effective response to an attack.  This is a good thing.


Teachers and school administrators undergo firearms training in Missouri. (Photo: Rich Sugg for the Kansas City Star)

Teachers and school administrators undergo firearms training in Missouri.
(Photo: Rich Sugg for the Kansas City Star)


But most schools are either maintaining the status quo, or implementing half-measures with almost no chance of stopping a mass shooting once it has begun.  One of our local school districts recently conducted “training” for staff and faculty.  During this training, administrators conceded that police response would take an estimated 5-6 minutes…and yet they refuse to allow their adult employees to arm themselves to meet a threat. The only active measure presented was for a teacher to position themselves near their classroom door and to attempt to grab the gun from a shooter.

This is what makes me angry.  Unqualified school administrators standing in front of a group of teachers and telling them to just “grab the barrel of the gun and take it away.”  Simple, right?  Kind of makes you wonder why the police don’t just do that whenever someone pulls a gun on them, doesn’t it?  It’s because it is an extremely high-risk, low-percentage maneuver, done only as a last-chance option…and physical practice must be done to have any chance of success.  The police know that it is a much better idea to shoot a bad guy with a gun than to play Karate Kid…and most police are actually taught gun disarms (not just told about them).

So why would a school district give such foolish advice?

It is because the primary objective of such training is not to save lives.  It is to reduce legal liability.  The bottom line is that school district administrators would much rather have a teacher die trying to disarm an attacker with a gun, than have that same teacher shoot back with a gun of her own.  They know that disarmed teachers will probably die at the hands of an armed attacker, but at least they will die in an acceptable fashion.

If a teacher gets shot to death attempting to save school children by disarming a shooter, then the school superintendent can stand at a podium in front of news cameras and give the solemn but heroic account of what a wonderful person she was, and how much she loved her kids, and how valiantly she died trying to save them. In front of those news cameras, giving that tearful speech, the administrator enjoys the sympathy of the community…and perhaps avoids a lawsuit.

But if that same teacher has a gun, and shoots and successfully stops an attacker, but also hits a student in the process…then the superintendent has some explaining to do.  He is no longer an object of sympathy, but may be even viewed as partly to blame for the incident.  And he does not want to do that.  That makes him an abject moral coward who would rather a teacher die in a vain attempt to save lives, than explain why an armed teacher probably reduced the body count by stopping the attacker, despite hitting an innocent student.

In a way, this sort of thinking is denial.  It is a refusal to accept that if an armed attacker comes to your school, it is going to be a bad day.  People are probably going to die.  There is no good solution.

There is only bad and worse.  There is the scenario where a shooter roams the school, killing at will, until a cop with a gun arrives some minutes later and stops him.  Or there is the scenario where the killer meets almost immediate armed resistance, and is stopped quickly.

In both scenarios, there is a body count.  The only question is how many.  School administrators who dictate that their staff be disarmed are choosing a higher body count because they believe it to be more politically defensible.



Good Little Hypocrites

You have most likely heard by now of the recent workplace shooting at a Pennsylvania hospital complex.  By most accounts, a psychiatric patient became irate and shot a staff member, before a nearby doctor produced his own concealed firearm and shot the attacker, ending his assault.

You may also have heard is that the facility is part of the Mercy Health System, whose policy is to forbid the lawful carry of firearms on its premises.  While the criminal was not swayed by that policy, neither was Dr. Lee Silverman, the good guy with a gun who stopped a killer.


AP Photo

AP Photo


But Dr. Silverman also violated Mercy Health’s “no gun” policy…what happens to him?

Apparently, he will not be fired or otherwise disciplined, as reported by Bob Owens of Bearing Arms, and Mercy Health’s own Facebook post on the issue.  That is a good thing.  It would be an injustice to punish Dr. Silverman for defending himself and others as he did.

But the position Mercy Health appears to be taking is also quite revealing.  By failing to adhere to their own policy when it has been clearly violated by an employee, they expose it for the lie that it is.  A private citizen used a legal firearm to save lives…in spite of their rules. Had he followed their policy, more innocent people likely would have died, and Mercy Health knows it.

If they truly believed in their policy, they would enforce it consistently at all times, and not just when it suits them.  But like good little hypocrites, they will make an exception to their policy in order to avoid the bad PR, and to avoid punishing a good guy.  I guarantee you that had Dr. Silverman been discovered with a firearm on the premises prior to getting into a gunfight with a murderer, he would not receive the same consideration.  He’d most likely be looking for a job.

Here’s some free advice from me to you, Mercy Health:  If you find it necessary to make exceptions to your policy in order to accommodate the real world, your policy sucks. Might want to look into that.


Ignorance Is Bliss?

Ignorance may be bliss, but it is definitely not safe.

One of the latest PR pushes by anti-gun groups like the Brady Campaign is about “asking the question.”  They say that in the interest of safety, you should ask if there are guns in the home before allowing your kids to play at a friend’s house.  The implication is then that if the answer is affirmative, you interrogate the parents about how the guns are stored…and if you are unsatisfied with their response, I guess you “unfriend” that family immediately, and never let your child play at that house ever again.  Or something.


Simply asking doesn't make kids does.

Simply asking doesn’t make kids safer…education does.


But if you aren’t educated in firearms safety, how could you intelligently question a gun owner on safe storage? If all you know about guns is what you’ve seen on TV and in movies, how could you possibly make an educated assessment?  More importantly, how can you ensure that your children are safe when you aren’t around to supervise them?

There’s a better way:  Education…for yourself, and for your kids.

What if everybody had to learn at least a little about guns? Like maybe in school?  I learned basic gun safety from my Dad as a young boy, but at age 14 began to get formal marksmanship and gun safety training in JROTC. We set up traps and shot formal position rifle with air rifles, right in the classroom. We all went through the Tennessee Hunter’s Safety Course as part of class…whether we hunted or not. Whether I ever picked up a gun again, I at least had some education in their use and safety. How is that bad?


The NRA's Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program has educated 27 million children in simple gun safety.

Stop. Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell An Adult. The NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program has educated 27 million children in simple gun safety.


You know, regardless of your individual feelings on the topic, as a society we have largely adopted a similar attitude with sex education. The argument is that you can’t prohibit it, so you ought to at least teach people how to be safe. With sex, we acknowledge that ignorance is dangerous, and that at least a little bit of education is prudent. We may disagree about exactly when and how one might get that education, but I don’t know anyone who thinks that complete ignorance on the topic is wise.

But as the gun prohibition movement attempts to stigmatize gun ownership, and segregate gun owners from “proper” society, education in firearms use and safety suffers.  In today’s public schools, rather than learn gun safety as I did, children are punished for chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun shape, or for pointing a finger and saying “bang” in a game of cops-and-robbers.  Unless a parent or family member provides that education, children these days are much more likely to leave school and enter adulthood completely ignorant of firearms than ever before.

Like it or not, guns are a part of American society. But when our national policy is to stigmatize and prohibit…we institutionalize ignorance over education.  You can’t shield your children from every danger, but you can make them smarter.  Eliminate ignorance.


Image courtesy of Oleg Volk

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk


Doing The Math

If it saves even one life.

It’s an argument we often hear from gun prohibitionists.  They say that if we’ll just be “reasonable,” and give in and concede some of our gun rights…if we accept an “assault weapons” ban, a magazine capacity limit, or “universal” background checks…it might save one life.  They say that saving just one life is worth the infringement.  They say that it is only “common sense.”




Before we dive in, a quick disclaimer:  Civil rights should never be dependent on a cost/benefit calculation.  That sort of thinking can be used to justify any number of infringements and atrocities.  Rights are rights, and are absolute as long as their exercise does not interfere with the rights of others.

But for the sake of discussion, let’s stipulate that the only bar which must be cleared to restrict an individual freedom is that it, “saves just one life.”  If that were so, we could make a case to lower the national maximum speed limit to 10 miles per hour.  Such low speeds would certainly save at least one life, and likely thousands more.  Better yet, if we banned all motorized vehicles, we could completely eliminate all traffic fatalities!

Yet no one would seriously consider either of those proposals, despite the fact that it would clearly save at least one life.  Why is that?


It is because we as a society have done the math and determined that the benefits which we enjoy from having cars, and from being able to drive them at a relatively high speed outweighs that “one life.”  In fact, we have concluded that it outweighs thousands of lives.  While we will certainly work to make the roads as safe as possible, we are also clearly willing to exchange a certain number of fatalities for the convenience of personal, rapid transportation.  We will probably never reduce traffic fatalities to zero…and we’re okay with it.

You might say, “Hold on a minute, Dave!  It isn’t that simple.  Cars might be dangerous, but they are also essential to keeping our modern economy and society moving.  Without rapid, individual transportation, our economy and our quality of life would suffer.  Besides, eliminating all motor vehicles would also eliminate such things as ambulances,fire engines, and police cars.  People would die without those; the fact that we have such modern equipment saves lives.”


Well, it would cut down on traffic fatalities...

Well, it would cut down on traffic fatalities…


And you’d be right.  But therein lies the essential falsehood of the “if it saves one life” argument as applied to the gun control debate.  Our opponents do not want to concede that while the absence of guns might save one life, it could just as easily cost another life.  Lives are tragically lost to motor vehicles every day, but we balance that cost with the benefits they bring us, and the lives they save.  Guns are the same.  In fact, for every single tragic loss of life to the misuse of guns, dozens more are saved because an innocent person was able to defend themselves…with a gun.

Recognizing only costs, and ignoring benefits…”if it saves just one life”…is a false argument.  Applied to cars, it’s simply silly.  Applied to the civil right to keep and bear arms, it is a crime.


1,320 Words

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.

What do those words mean to you?


I Got Your Warning Shot Right Here

This is going to be a rant.  There, you’ve been warned.

Now then, let’s discuss Florida’s so-called “warning shot” law.  I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to get into the weeds and try to spell out all the specifics for you.  Andrew Branca has already done that much better than I can over at

But I will say that I have had it up to here with gun writers, bloggers, podcasters, and…let’s just call them all People Who Should Know Better®…denouncing the law for legalizing the firing of warning shots.

IT DOES NOT.  Again, read Andrew Branca’s analysis.

Since Florida Governor Rick Scott signed this bill into law, I have seen way too many People Who Should Know Better® proclaiming what an awful, stupid law this is for making warning shots legal, because everybody knows warning shots are bad.

As a community, we do ourselves no favor by posting to blogs, Facebook, etc. about how stupid this law is for legalizing warning shots when it does no such thing.  We criticize our political opponents for being ignorant of guns and the laws that govern their use, but I sure have seen a ton of People Who Should Know Better® going nuts over this law when they clearly have not read it and do not understand it.

Do your homework, people.  You’re making us look bad.  The information is available, and if you are a “gun person,” there is probably at least one person out there who places some value on your opinion.  At least make sure it is an educated opinion.




Now then…let me put on my firearms instructor hat…there we go.

Warning shots are indeed bad.  They are dangerous, they are poor tactics, and they are illegal in every place I know of (even Florida).  If you read this article and come away thinking I advocate the use of warning shots, go back and read the whole thing again.  It’s not that long.  If after a second read, you still think this means I am in favor of firing warning shots, the only further advice I could offer is that you might consider picking up the Rosetta Stone English language package.

Rant over.