Friday, July 31, 2009

I'll Do it in a Minute!

Overheard on the scanner:

Radio to any unit that can take a “suspicious situation” message on 123 Main Street, apartment A.

214 to Radio, I can take that.

214, neighbors are complaining of a horrible smell coming out of an adjacent apartment and have not seen the residents in some time.

237 to Radio, I’ll take a Signal 2 (backup) to 214

Radio to 237, 10-4; 214, did you copy?

This is 214, copy.

[Miscellaneous radio traffic ensues]

214 to Radio

Go ahead, 214?

Yeah, we made contact with everyone in the apartment. All are well and accounted for. It looks like the trash had not been emptied in some time, since that’s where that smell was coming from. We took the trash out to the dumpster and the smell has cleared out. Clear it to me as “assistance provided.”

See, the story would not end there at my house. If I had waited that long to take out the trash, there may not have been anyone dead when the police got there, but I very well might be after they left.

Health Care System Overhaul

If you are not sure where you stand with health care, or even if you have already made up your mind, take the time to read the following:

Yes, I know it's long, and it's just an opinion, but read it and the comments. Then, make your own decision.

H/T to Verum Serum, who summarized Megan's post.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hard Work

Last year, I sat in the doctor’s office, my emotions a mix of embarrassment and disappointment. After months of talking about it, I had finally gone in to get my first physical exam since before high school, 20+ years ago.

As the nurse took my basic measurements, she asked me to step on the scale. After the appropriate weights were shifted around and the beam rested at the midpoint of the scale, she read out my weight. 252 pounds. To the nurse, it was only a number, which she read matter-of-factly. But for me, that number represented a failure of self control.

I was shocked. It was the most I had ever weighed, and registered at least 20 pounds more since the last time I had stepped on a scale. I had never been this out of shape. More importantly, I had no idea that I was this big. In 10 years, I had gained 50lbs

Well, since I was not pleased with that, I resolved to handle this unpleasant business myself. After years of waiting for something to motivate me, I decided to motivate myself. I struck a deal with my wife. If I was able to get back to my wedding day weight—200 lbs, she would buy me the rifle I wanted—an AR15.

Over the last 16 months, I have lost 41lbs. Not a very fast weight loss (I've been stuck at that number for 5 months), but I have sustained it and have developed good habits in the meantime. I have had to adjust my motivation—medical bills and the recent election have placed the AR well out of my reach for the moment. Moreover, the rumors are true—the last 10 pounds are just about impossible to lose.

But, I am eleven pounds away from my goal. I feel tremendously better. I have more energy, and find myself playing with my girls more often. That, in itself, is a huge benefit.

Really, the only reason I write this is to motivate me once again to continue pressing toward my goal. It’s hard work, but then again, so is anything worth having.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I was recently introduced to the Revolutionary War Veterans Association and their Appleseed program. After doing some research, I think I'm going to attend one of their events near here. I already have a 10/22 with a sling, so I just need to round up a few more things. Has anyone ever been to one before?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quote for the Week

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Thomas Jefferson

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why I Shoot

Another one of my favorite blogs is Home on the Range. She put up a great post on why she shoots.

Go read.

Personal Responsibility

If you haven't the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you. Thomas Stearns “T.S.” Eliot

More and more I wonder what is happening to the concept of personal responsibility. The idea that I am responsible for my choices is becoming more and more quaint. It’s easier to blame circumstances, history, or even neighbors.

About two months ago, I was taking out the trash when I noticed a police car in my neighbor’s driveway and the family gathered near the door. Not wanting to be nosy, I took care of my business and started to head back inside. In spite of my best efforts, I managed to hear them loudly explaining their disagreement to the officer. I couldn’t make out exactly why they were angry, but judging by the profanity and volume, there was a lot of emotion involved.

The next day, I learned from the wife that her husband had been abusive for some time and she had finally kicked him out. She was surprised we had not heard their arguments, which apparently were common, long, and loud. She added that she was disappointed that one could no longer count on neighbors looking out for each other. She wished that someone would have called the police on them sooner. Thankfully, I didn’t really grasp what she was saying at first. By the time my mind got in gear, I was already inside and the conversation was long over.

After I had a chance to think it over, I felt sorry for her and her daughter. Here she was, in the middle of a dangerous situation, yet she stayed because no one had rescued her. She could not come to terms with the idea that, while she could not control her husband, she alone was responsible for her actions. We couldn't kick him out. She had to make the decision. Although she had finally kicked him out, it was a last resort for her. It was a decision she was "forced" to make because society had let her down. It was my fault for not calling police (never mind that I never heard anything). It was the other neighbors’ fault for not getting involved. The blame for staying fell on the shoulders of everyone but her. It’s a terrible role model for her daughter. Her inaction has taught her daughter that a man can mistreat a woman. Her dependence on others has set the standard for her daughter.

A fighting spirit, dignity, and need for respect, are God-given. But, if not nurtured, encouraged, and developed, those standards become nothing more than a romanticized ideal. No one will ever look out for me as much as I will. If I do not require respect, I will get none. If I do not fight the important battles, no one will. If I do not make the difficult decisions, I will have no right to complain about the results. In the end, my life will be a sum of my decisions, not a sum of what happened to me. Don't get me wrong, I will seek God's direction, but ultimately, the decision to move belongs to me, not to anyone else.

That's what I teach my children. We trust God, but do our part. We will not live life blaming someone or something else. We will not waste time feeling sorry for ourselves. We will understand that tough situations in life are simply opportunities to prove leadership and wisdom. We do not run from life's challenges but accept them as part of the color in life's tapestry.

Yesterday, as I was walking in the house, I see a familiar car pass me by. Perplexed, I watch the car pull in the neighbor’s driveway. It’s the husband. I watch as she welcomes him in. Looks like he’s moved back.

I'll be in my yard, binoculars in one hand, phone in the other, keeping an eye on the neighbor. After all, I guess it’s my job to protect her from herself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bungled in Boise?

Shortly after 1p on Friday afternoon, a homeless man was near the intersection of Americana Boulevard and River Street in Boise, Idaho. He had a duffel bag with him. John Dickey grabbed the duffel bag and ran away. The homeless man yelled out, “Stop hey, stop, that’s my stuff!”

At that time, Paul Brookhouse was driving by and saw the crime take place. He pulled over and intervened. As reported by KTVB, Brookhouse produced a firearm, identified himself as a police officer and detained the criminal. Unfortunately, Brookhouse, who has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon, is not a police officer.

As is often the case with real life, the story gets even more complicated. Prior to the police arriving, another citizen with a concealed weapon permit drove by. This gentleman, seeing what he perceived as a crime in progress, drew his firearm and ordered Brookhouse to drop his weapon. I’m not sure what Dickey was thinking as he lay on the ground, but at this point, he was probably afraid to breathe.

Finally, the police arrived and defused the situation. Thankfully there does not appear to be a report of someone else stopping by and trying to arrest the police.

Sadly, it appears that everyone involved (except, presumably, the homeless man and the police) may face charges. Dickey is facing charges for the crime, Brookhouse may face charges for impersonating an officer, and the third man may face assault charges for pointing a firearm at Brookhouse.

If I would have come up against a similar situation, would I have drawn my firearm? Unless someone’s life was in danger, this would be a minor property crime, not something for which the threat of deadly force would be permissible. Would I intervene in a more serious crime, especially if I don’t have all the necessary information? I think it is a question of degree—how much do I know and how serious is the crime. In this instance, the outcome could have become very tragic simply because the final intervener did not have all the facts. At least, each person showed restraint, and in the end, no one was hurt.

This case involved a minor property crime—one that appears to have already been concluded without any noticeable physical harm to the crime victim. Although it’s hard to second guess someone’s reaction in the heat of an incident, that’s exactly what the law will do. In my home state, you cannot use deadly force to prevent a property crime--life is more important than property. Of course, I don’t know Idaho law, but even if it allows taking a life to defend a duffle bag, it’s hard to justify that action. One lesson to take from this is that if you decide to carry a concealed weapon, the burden is on you to know the law. And, in the end, the burden will be on you to justify your actions.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quote for the Week

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. John Adams

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Bible and Self Defense

Bob S, of Three Boxes of BS, has an excellent pair of posts breaking down what the Bible says about self defense. If you struggle with the concept, you ought to go read.

The Bible and Self Defense (Pt. 1)

The Bible and Self Defense (Pt. 2)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stylish and Cool

I had a jeans incident some time ago. Well…

Today, my wife and a group from church were leaving to go out of town. I needed to pick up some things and drop them off at church for her. I threw on a striped polo shirt, drove to Wally World and got what I needed. I waited in line, took care of my business and headed over to church. There, I dropped off the stuff for my wife, helped some guys load up some equipment into a church van, and headed home.

On the way home, I stopped by the store. I walked in, and ran into a former law school classmate I had not seen in about 7 years. We talked for about 20 minutes, catching up on the last few years. The store was packed, and no matter where we stood, it seemed like we were surrounded with people and we were always in the way.

Finally done, I jumped in the Jeep and headed back home. As I walked in the door, I happened to catch my reflection in the mirror.

I was wearing my polo shirt inside out.

I really should not be allowed in public without adult supervision.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quote for the Week

But there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties; it tells the state to let people alone; it does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order.

Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir.1982)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Of Holsters and Toilets

There's been another gun-related toilet incident. Looks like the "facilities" and bad holsters don't mix.

Bullet from dropped gun hits woman in bathroom stall

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Super Cowboy

Some months ago, my wife’s nephew came into town for a couple of days, so I invited him to go with me to the gun range. He had never gone shooting before, and, as usual, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce someone else to the hobby.

At my house, we went over the safety rules, and I had him load and unload the firearms using snap caps. We arrived at the range and made our way to the only open lane, the last of the eight lanes. The range has a motorized target carrier, which has the target clamps about a foot or so above the bull’s eye of their normal target. We set up, reviewed the safety rules again, and I let him have at it.

Meanwhile, a small, yet loud crowd was forming over at the first lane. Every few seconds, there was a very loud bang, followed by cheers and high-fives. I glanced over and saw a young man, shooting a .50 caliber revolver at a target on the 7 yard line. Eventually, the crowd at the range thinned out leaving our super cowboy and his friends in the first lane, another gentleman somewhere in the middle, and then the two of us at our end. By this time, my wife’s nephew was shooting my Ruger 10-22.

Right after the revolver spoke again, I felt a painful pinch near my thumb. I tried to pull up my sleeve, thinking my watch had caught on a hair. I looked down at my hand and noticed that I was bleeding and had a piece of copper jacket embedded in my hand. I pulled it out and saw that the piece was relatively large, and had left a nice cut.

I grabbed a small towel from my range bag, wrapped it around my hand, and went to see the range officer. (Note to self: pack bandages in the range bag.) I found out I wasn’t the only lucky one. The shooter in the middle had also been hit by splashback. While we doctored ourselves, the range master walked into the range to investigate.

What happened? Apparently our local super cowboy had fired his hand cannon and hit the target clamp, which, if you remember, was at 7 yards out and is about a foot or so away from the bull’s eye. The bullet hit the steel clamp, broke apart and splashed to the right, hitting the other gentleman and me.

Ok... <>

Look, I know that shooting a .22LR caliber rifle is not as cool as a .50 caliber revolver. In fact, you mentioned, quite loudly, that my rifle sounded like an airsoft gun. Your friends thought that comparison was funny. I guess that just makes you a better man.

Or so you think.

It makes no different how big your gun is, if you can’t control it, it’s worthless. A .50 caliber miss at seven yards is less effective than a .22 caliber hit at 15 yards. It’s also more dangerous, since you obviously have no control over where you are sending it.

Chances are pretty good that I’ll never see you again. Moreover, you don’t seem like the person who would be interested in any kind of education, but, just in case you happen to drop by, here are some tips for you:

1. Don’t go to the range if your only goal is to impress. The range is the wrong place to engage in showmanship. In any event, there will almost always be someone at the range who shoots better than you do and you'll end up looking stupid.

2. Unless they’re coming to shoot or learn, leave your “crew,” or whatever you call them, at home. Your activities at the range require your full attention. You cannot take time to play to the crowd.

3. Learn how to handle the “baby step” basics before you start your shooting exhibition. To do otherwise will endanger all of us. Learn how to properly grip a gun. Learn how to properly line up your sights. Learn proper trigger control. Do all of this before you use a gun too big for you. And yes, believe it or not, that revolver was too big for you.

4. Understand that a big gun you can’t handle only makes you look like an idiot. Every shot my nephew made with my little “airsoft” 10-22 found its way to the target, as did his .40 caliber and 9mm shots as well. Many of yours did not. In fact, one of your shots injured two people. All you succeeded in doing was making a lot of people very angry at you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Conversation in the Kitchen

Me: Honey, did you salt the water before I added the spaghetti?

Wife: Yes, why?

Me: Greeeeaaaaaat... I did, too.

Presidential Leadership

Thanks to Anthony Bass (via Twitter), I discovered this new blog. Their latest post "Presidential Leadership" has some good leadership lessons, drawn from President Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Different View

Please take the time to read Old NFO's post, "Perspectives." I appreciate Michael Jackson's contribution to music, but sometimes I wonder if we're missing something here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Packin' Parishioners

Looks like Pastor Pagano's church service was a blast! Without a bang, of course.

(Yes, I know...two puns in the same post probably violates some sort of rule. That's no reason to go off half-cocked, though.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Quote for the Week

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.

Charles A. Beard

Friday, July 3, 2009

Honor and Remember

It seems like this has been around for a year or so. It might be old news for some, but I just heard about it tonight. George Lutz lost a son in Iraq in 2005. He designed a flag to remember those who, like his son, have fallen in defense of our freedoms.

From the website:

Spread the word.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Divided Attention

Since I'm fast running out of ammo, and both Wally World and my wallet are doing a poor job keeping up, I'm trying to make the best of my time at the range. It's fun to send bullets down range, but I sure hate to see them go. I figure while they’re headed to the backstop, they better be doing something for me as well.

On top of that, I have been thinking about entering a shooting competition, whether USPSA or IDPA, just to develop my skills and challenge myself. To that end, I have begun reviewing their rules, and trying to develop/practice skills in the necessary areas (all while obeying range rules and not giving the range officer a coronary).

This last time at the range, I wanted to practice reloading from slide lock, so I loaded three magazines with different quantities of bullets, and got to work. Because of the random number of bullets, I never knew when the gun would go empty. So, on top of normal safety rules, I had to concentrate on recognizing slide lock, manipulating the magazines, and quickly returning the gun to service; all while trying to hit the bull’s-eye. I had not done anything like that before, so my target looked horrible.

It was definitely an eye-opener for me. Most of the time at the range, I can line up in front of the target, get in the proper stance, focus on the front sight, and fire when ready. I like the way my groups look when I am able to do that.

Throw in a distraction, though, and my groups go to heck. What did this teach me? I’m not as good as I think I am. I need a whole lot more practice.

But beyond all that, I wondered how I would respond during a critical incident. A critical incident may have multiple distractions, and is, by its nature, unpredictable. As best as I can tell, these incidents don’t check your calendar for the most convenient time. You can’t pre-plan every detail. Instead, faced with a threat, you are forced to drag your mind out of whatever it was doing, and immediately bring all your senses to bear on the threat at hand. All this divided attention means it is highly likely that nothing will go textbook.

How many stories do we read about shoot-outs at incredibly close range, and yet no one gets hit. We hear stories of many rounds being fired, yet only a few finding the desired target. In the thick of the incident, it’s almost as if the body reverts to the lowest level of training. Something that would seem elementary during the calm of the range suddenly becomes infuriatingly challenging.

This is why training is important. The very basic skills need to be ingrained into our subconscious so that we do not have to concentrate on them when the time comes. That will not eliminate all possible mistakes, but it will go a long way to minimizing them.

The upside to this, of course, is that I must now return to the range so that I can practice some more. Then, I really do need to join a competition, even if only to proudly claim last place.

Now, if only I can find some ammo.