Friday, July 22, 2011

Developing thoughts.

This is actually two posts from Google+ that I felt belonged together. Something of a realization on my part, as well as a demonstration of the types of people and policies that exist out there in the world.

Originally posted on July 17th, 2011.

I went to visit a friend last night at their hotel. I got there just at sunset, and had to park a good distance away. The walk to the hotel in question took me through two extremely narrow, isolated alleys. In both of these alleys I was watched by several people from a distance, though no one approached me. I got to the hotel, and low and behold, on the door is a sign that says "no firearms on property".

NOTE: taking a gun into such a place could result in a criminal weapons change. Simply being arrested for such a charge WILL torpedo a person's security certifications and their CWL status in the state of Oklahoma. Peace officers (police, federal agents, sheriffs, ect.) are not bound by such rules.

So, I walk to the front desk (just inside the door), and without saying that I actually have a firearm, I asked if the hotel would honor a Concealed Carry Permit. The manager said that they would not, and that they could prosecute if a guest knowingly walked on property with a gun.

(This is the right of the hotel since the building is private property. Just as any of you may elect to deny me access to your home for the same reason.)

So, I walked back to my vehicle, through the same two alleys, secured my weapon, and then walked back to the hotel, again through the same two alleys, this time watched by even more people. Many of my observers were clearly not part of the local festivities, though I didn't see any overt gang colors. Finally, I made it to the hotel, unbothered.

Once I was back inside, I walked up to the uniformed (unarmed and completely unequipped) security guard and asked him what procedures they had in place if someone were to attack someone else there at the hotel.

"We would just call the police." He said.

I nodded. "Just out of curiosity, what happens if someone were attacked between here and their car?"

"Well then, that's not our problem."

"Okay." I nodded politely. "What happens if someone came in here with a gun and started shooting?"

"That wouldn’t happen, there's a sign up front that says 'no guns'."

I smiled, nodded, and added, "Okay, cool." And then walked off before I actually said what was on my mind.


Now, a few days later, I had a chance to think about it some more, and I decided that I wasn't thinking my situation through to the fullest that time.

Originally posted on July 22nd, 2011.
You know, last week I posted a complaint about having to leave my sidearm in my car due to a hotel policy. Simply put, I was compelled to walk through two narrow alley's, under observation of several suspicious people, without the benefit of my sidearm because the hotel reserved the right to prosecute anyone who knowingly took a firearm onto their property.

Well, I got to thinking about that, and I have decided that I made some major mistakes as well in that process.

First of all, however, let me be clear; I fundamentally disagree with the idea that prohibiting firearms in a location automatically makes it safer. Each case should be considered individually, but the idea that a sign on a door and an unarmed, unequipped private security guard will make your place safer is flawed on several levels.

However, the law that lets me carry a concealed firearm does not trump the right of a private institution or person to control what is allowed on their property. In the end, they are exercising their rights just like I am. To tell them that they are wrong would infringe on the same power I have to control who walks into my home. You see, the proverbial blade cut's both ways. In good conscious I can say that the time to debate this was not, and never will be, after-hours on the front steps of a hotel. On top of that, a lot of hotels have this policy, and I should have considered that before parking my car. At the very least, it should have been a noted possibility.

Also, while firearms are heavily regulated, I own and am trained in the use of expanding batons and a can of OC spray (aka, pepper spray), which are not so heavily regulated. I should have just traded out my 9mm for my 24" expandable baton and/or my OC can. Sure, it's not a firearm, but even a gun doesn't offer you an absolute. More to the point, in my anger over the issue, I failed to improve my situation above being completely unarmed.

You see, these are important points because the same laws that let me carry a gun let others say they don't want them on their property. The truth be told, if I don't learn to respect those laws, and work within them, I'm really not much better off than I was before I had my CWL or even my sidearm. 

In the end, the most dangerous weapon I own isn't strapped to my hip, or trucked away in a pocket, it's between my ears, and as long as I remember that, I'm better off than a lot of people.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

out of nowhere.

I don't even know why I wrote this, but I felt compelled to, so I finally sat down and got it out of my system. I don't even know if there is anything interesting in it for others, but none the less, I don't shrug away from it.


Twenty years ago, I was the victim of a random, stupid act of violence. I was walking the streets of my neighborhood, a wooded, suburban subdevelopment in northern Virginia. It’s a nice place, filled with two-story colonial homes and large families. There were lots of two-car garages, tall trees and big laws. I walked all the time, it was my escape from the rigors of being a twelve year old; a chance to just clear my head and stretch my legs.

Imagine my surprise when out of nowhere, two miles from my home, a silver pickup pulls up next to me while I’m walking. There are four kids in it, all between sixteen and nineteen as best as I could figure. Two were in the cab and two were in the back. The passenger, the one closest to me, asked me the time. Not thinking anything of it, I looked down at my watch, read the time and looked up again. Before I could say anything, one of the kids in the back vaulted over the side, landing right in front of me. I was looking at his collarbone; he was that much taller than me. The kid in the passenger’s seat laughed manically, adding “He called your mom a ho, man. He called your mom a ho!”

I took a half step back, putting my hands up, ready to pivot on my back ankle and bolt the second I had the chance. I was right in front of a house with a steep hill for a front yard, the truck would never be able to follow me through the rain-ditch and up that hill. Even in that split second I remember thinking that even if they could only follow me on foot, I was better off being run down by for people than four people with a pickup truck. All I needed was one more step back and I would be far enough to turn and run.

I never got that second step.

The blow came so fast I never saw it. The kid in front of me lashed out with a closed fist, hitting the left side of my head and snapping my face down towards the ground like a sledgehammer. I saw stars and heard the impact as much as I felt it. It was like having someone box my ears.

I turned where I was, facing the relatively steep grade of grass just a few feet in front of me. I launched myself forward with everything I had. I screamed at the top of my lung for help. It wasn’t a cry, or a shout, it was the embodiment of what I was thinking at that moment; “My God, I’m being attacked and I don’t know what they are going to do to me now.”

I pushed myself as fast as I could up the hill, shrieking for help as loud as my lungs could push the sound. Behind me I could hear more maniacal laughing, all four of them were celebrating my retreat. I was maybe three steps up the hill when I looked back. My eyes caught sight of them just as the one who hit me jumped back into the back. The wheels spun and the truck shot off, all four faces looked at me with humor, joy and celebration in their eyes.

In that second, my mind stopped thinking as a victim, and snapped back to the present, back to who I was, and what I was capable of. I can’t even fully describe the transition, but I know it was faster than a light switch.

I remember thinking “Oh no you don’t!” as I lunged back, clearing the rain ditch in a single flying leap and running out into the middle of the street. The two in the back were still laughing, looking right at me, one of them was flicking me off as the truck slowed just enough to blow through a stop sight and take the right turn out of the subdevelopment. I could see all of it, their faces, their laugher, their joy, their absolute jubilation at having attacked me.

But I didn’t care, I wasn’t looking “at” them.

I was looking at the back end of their truck.

When the truck was gone, I turned once again and charged up the hill, still scared, still shaken, in pain, but now furious. The homeowner, a man I had never met before, came out his front door, worry on his face. “Are you alright?” He asked me. “I heard a scream for help.”

“I need to use your phone!” I said, breathless, shaking, and suddenly tired. “I was just attacked.”

Moments later he handed me a cordless handset. I dialed 911 and waited one ring for the operator to answer. I remember the first words out of my mouth. “Hello, operator, I was just attacked on the street by four guys. ” I must have sounded like I had run a mile; I could hear my own heartbeat, and I was still shaking. But I still remember the look of pleasant surprise on the homeowner’s face when I said the next sentence. “They were in a silver pickup truck, and I have the license plate number for you.”

Not long after that I calmed down enough to remember to call my mother, who promptly dropped everything and drove over. Not a minute after she arrived as Sheriff’s deputy pulled up as well. We all exchanged greetings and then he said something that I never would have expected. He was talking to my mother, but about me, so we were standing together right in front of him.

“Actually, just before I got here,” he explained “I got a call from Aquia Harbor; we think we have them already.” My mother was speechless, and I was pretty stunned too. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear that from an officer twenty minutes after the crime itself. “All I need,” he continued “if for your son to come with me and see if he can identify his attacker.”

My mother gave me a worried look, and asked me if I felt up to it. The worst of my fear was gone by then, and I was ready to go toe to toe with one of those thugs if I had to in order to bring him to justice.

“Just tell me where to go.” I said to the deputy.

“You sure you’re up to it?” He asked.

I nodded. “You’re damned right I’m ready!”

We rode over in his cruiser. On the way he asked me about the attack and I recounted it to him.

“So, you ran back out into the road just to get their license plate number?”

I nodded, still trying to put words to my logic. “It was all I could think to do. I wasn’t going to just let them get away with it.”

The deputy shook his head. “That’s pretty unreal.” He said. “I don’t know too many people who would think to do that after taking a hit to the face like yours.” The bruise on my face was forming up by then. Nothing was broken, thank God, but I was going to have a hell of a shiner in the morning.

“What would you have done?” I asked.

“Personally,” he said with a laugh. “Four-on-one; I’d of shot’em.” He patted his service pistol, “All four of‘em.”

“Okay,” I agreed, laughing as well. “But without the gun, what would you have done? Do you think I should have kept running, or maybe stood and fight?”

The man shook his head. “No, you did exactly what you should have done, you ran for help, and that probably why we aren’t having this talk in the back of an ambulance. I just think It’s damned amazing that you thought to run back out and get their tag number. If you hadn’t done that, well, I’ll be honest with you, there wasn’t much chance of catching them.”

I don’t know exactly why, but that startled me. I hadn’t even really thought about it until then, but I did have the choice to just keep running. And lord knows I had all the reasons in the world to. But I hadn’t kept running, instead, somewhere in my adrenalin flooded mind I made an decision to turn the tables and strike back the best way I knew how. But what really got me was how little thought I had put into the process; I had just decided to turn around and do it, no thought, no pause, just split second action.

We arrived a few minutes later. Aquia Harbor was a 700 home subdevelopment in the north of the county, and part of the dues everyone paid for covered a small team of private security guards who worked the entrances. I found out later that the silver truck had come up to the gate of Aquia Harbor minutes after the dispatcher had broadcast their description and tag number. The moment the guards saw the truck, they pulled the kids out and called the Sheriff’s department. By the time I got there it was sunset, and with the tall trees in that part of the state, most of the light was now from streetlamps. There were three deputies there, above and beyond the two security guards, and all four kids were lined up against a wall with a pair of headlights pointed at them.

I was told I could stay in the car, that I didn’t need to get out. But I did. I opened the door and stepped out so that I could see them all clearly. That was when I saw the guy who hit me, standing there with a cocky grin on his face, not a care in the world. “Second from the left.” I said to the deputy. He waived at his comrades, who walked up to the kid. I found out later that no one had told them why they were pulled aside, evidently they thought it was something to do with a busted tail light on their truck.

When they reached the kid he shrugged away from them. “Leave me alone!” He insisted. “Get your hands off me. I didn’t do anything.”

“That’s the one who hit me!” I shouted it so loud that is surprised even me. Everyone jumped a little, but the kid looked like he was about to have a heart attack. He looked in my direction, and I think he saw me, but I can’t be a hundred percent sure. I was madder than hell just then. I was ready to walk up to him and write “HIM” across his face with a sharpie if I had to. He probably could have pulled a gun at me just then and it wouldn’t have scared me. When I realized he was looking at me I added “That’s right! I’m the one you hit on the street back there, and I think these men want to talk to you about that!”

All four of the kids suddenly looked like someone had walked over their graves. That was when I realized that they actually thought no one was ever going to catch them, that they could get away with crap like that because they had a fast truck, and because they targeted a kid too young to fight back. The final proof was what I heard my stunned attacker saying as they stuffed him into the back of another cruiser.

“Its not possible… its not [explitive] possible…”

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I know it’s been forever since I posted, and that’s largely my own fault, though in my defense, I would like to point out that work has had be jumping through hoops (and then some).

I wanted to take a minute to talk about something a little more down to earth than just politics in general. The other day, I stopped by the local sheriffs’ office and picked up my Oklahoma Concealed Weapons License. Simply put, I am now allowed to carry a pistol on my person, out of sight, and in public. I’ve had more than a few people who don’t seem to understand my motives, and some who seem to actively choose not to understand. Please note, I am not requiring anyone to agree with me. I am accusing some people of refusing to understand my answers when I give them, but that’s another story entirely. I wanted to take a chance to address some comments I’ve gotten over the past year regarding concealed weapon’s carriage.

Invariably, the first question is always “Why do you have a gun?”

Well, the answer there is simple; money. As a private security guard, positions as an armed security officer pay slightly more than positions as an unarmed one. Additionally, having an armed license and a personal firearm makes me more marketable in the security field. That is the reason I purchased the weapon in the first place.

Second up; “Do you really think its necessary to carry a gun?”

There are two ways to answer that.

As a professional security officer, the answer is “You’re damn tootin!” If the client is paying good money to have an armed individual there, he had better get it. If I don’t want to wear my gun, you better believe that my boss will find someone who does.

As a private citizen, off the clock, I hope and pray (hard) every day that I never have to pull my gun. Furthermore, now that I have started wearing my weapon, I find myself more actively thinking of ways to get out of a room or building if all hell were to break loose. (NOTE: I did just say that I was looking for ways OUT of a situation, NOT ways to charge further into one.) The bottom line is that the moment I got my gun, I started looking for ways not to pull it if things went south in a hurry.

So, no, I don’t think there is any current threat that actively justifies a firearm.

However, the law does not require justification. The way the Oklahoma constitution is written, a private citizen with a concealed weapons license may carry a pistol without having to justify himself to anyone. If you don’t like that, change the law, don’t argue with me (good luck with either of those, by the way).

Next: “Aren’t you worried about having a gun in the house with a child around?”

Simply put, No.

When I first got my gun, I inspected it, made sure it was empty, and then put it on my desk and called my 5 year old son into the room. He took one look at it and blurted out, unprompted, “That-is-a-gun-and-I-am-not-supposed-to-touch-it-and-if-I-see-it-I-need-to-tell-you-really-fast!” (and yes, he got a really big hug for that!). So, to start out with, my son has a good understanding of what a grave issue just seeing the weapon is. Additionally, when not on my person, the weapon is locked, and locked up, away from anyone. I also do not use trigger locks, the locking mechanism I have blocks the weapon from being loaded, cocked or fired in any way. In fact, with the lock in place, you can’t even line up the magazine with the magazine well, let alone slide it in. When my weapon isn’t on me, its locked and secured, and I carry the only keys.

I’ve actually had people argue with me, saying “But your son could get your keys and unlock the weapon and load it and accidently kill himself.” At that point I just roll my eyes and tell them to “get real”. Yes, it is a physical possibility, but as a degree holder in safety, and a father who loves his son, I can say that the barriers between reality and that actually happening are more than enough to let me sleep at night.

As a side note, I wanted to address another topic I get hit with. A number of people have said to me “did you know that 9 kids a day are shot to death in the United States?” To be fair, that number varies a little, but I am trying to give a best faith average of all the encounters.

Well, the statistic is technically correct, but there are some underlying facts, depending on where you get your information from. First of all, a lot of statistics are collected from criminal investigations, and medical records. These are excellent sources to be sure, but it should be pointed out that both the justice system and the medical community group “kids” as anyone under 18 years of age. Furthermore, some studies reach as high as 19 when they try and quantify gun violence against children. An accidental death of a 4 year old with a handgun is almost certainly the fault of the supervising adult and the gun owner (who may well be the same person). However, the accidental death of a fifteen-year -old with a handgun can be an entirely different situation.

I have personally read material that says (for example) “over thirty three hundred children a year are killed by firearms.” Well, read a little deeper and you find out that maybe “children” wasn’t the best word to use there, because that particular study ran from 0-19 years of age (18 being a legal adult in this country).

When I read a little deeper into the study in question, I found the real number that I was looking for, but it was buried several pages in. According to the study, 214 “children” were killed by guns “unintentionally”. However, that number had no age breakdown that I could find (It may have been in there, but I know I didn’t see it). So, of that “9 children a day” figure, less than one of them was accidental, meaning that the rest had little to do with unsafe gun practices and probably had a lot to do with criminal activity.

My point here is not to throw out all gun violence statistic, far from it as a matter of fact. Rather, I would like people to look at the numbers objectively, and see both what they are really saying, and who is saying them. Unfortunately for us, groups like the NRA have a vested political interest in minimizing or ignoring these types of figures, while activist like Rossie O’Donnell can he heard saying lines like “9 children a day are killed by guns” all the time. In reality, both sides are correct, and both sides are being dishonest at the same time.

In the end, however, statics mean little to me. I intend to practice safe, responsible gun ownership at all times. As my son grows, he will have increased exposure to my weapons, if for no other reason than safety and education. If I were to ever decide that he, or anyone else, might actively try and take my firearm, I would react accordingly, including sleeping with the keys around my neck if necessary.

and as a footnote, I wanted to incloude the best summary of the second ammendment I currently know of.
(Sorry for the profanity, but as these two go, it was mild).