Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS

  It was August 1968, and a broiling hot day at Lackland AFB Texas. My training Flight was lying in the prone position waiting for the command to commence. firing from the range T.I. or Training Instructor. While milling around waiting for our turn to fire, our T.I. had asked all of us where we were from. I told him Tennessee and a kid next to me said North Carolina. He said "Well we got a couple of Alvin York's in our midst". I looked at the kid from North Carolina and he had the same scared look on his face that I am sure that I had. What the T.I. didn't know was that my experience with firearms were limited to firing my dads shotgun a couple of times and the one time that he let me fire a few shots with his 22 caliber pistol at a glass bottle perched on the bank of the Cumberland River near our house in West Nashville. I never hit the bottle.. Now, I was getting ready to fire an M-16 rifle capable of both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. If there is such a thing as attention deficit disorder, which I no doubt have, and then you combine that with fear, it is a terrible thing to behold. The T.I. had gone to great lengths to explain to us how to fire the weapon on semi-automatic or automatic by properly using the selector switch. The first command was to load five rounds in our magazines for orientation.

  Then the command to fire these rounds semi-automatic. While everyone else flipped their switches to semi, well  you guessed it, I flipped mine to auto. Quicker than you can blink an eye I fired off five rounds at the command of commence firing. The T.I. screamed "You f_ _king dipshit" and I felt a hand grab my belt and physically remove me from the line. Spewing forth a stream of profanities that R. Lee Ermy would be proud of, he thoroughly embarrassed me right there in front of everybody. Then he told me to return to the line and I was even more nervous than before. However I never fired my weapon again in full auto unless commanded to do so. Needless to say I did not qualify that first time out. I didn't feel so bad when I saw the large group of Airmen that also didn't qualify. While everyone else marched back to the barracks another T.I. was placed in charge of us. There was no screaming this time or intimidation. He was even kindly and patient with us while calmly giving us tips on marksmanship. For example breath control and how to squeeze the trigger rather than jerking it. This time I qualified with flying colors.


  Since that day I have never failed to qualify whether it has been on a military or civilian firing range. I have always fired expert and.I took to shooting like a duck to water. One time I was even asked to join the base pistol team for competitive shooting. I am a pretty good shot with a rifle but I seem to be more accurate with a pistol. However. I own a few guns but I am not a gun nut. Many guys I know are experts on various types of firearms. My knowledge is pretty much limited to the weapons I used in the Air Force. The M-2 carbine, the M-16 rifle, the M-60 machine gun, a couple of types of grenade launchers, the .38 caliber pistol and the Beretta 9 millimeter. Beyond that I don't know a whole lot. I am not an expert but there are many things that I do know about the proper use of firearms and the rules of engagement. There is nobody that is more afraid of being shot than I am. So that is why I have the proper respect for them. I know how quickly you can screw up and shoot yourself or somebody else by accident.

   First I want to talk about the 2nd Amendment. The greatest myth perpetuated by anti-gun politicians, and they do this on purpose, is to say something like we are not trying to take away your hunting rifles and shotguns. The Second Amendment was never about the right to hunt. It guarantees every law abiding American the right not only protect themselves and their families but the right to alter or abolish their government if it becomes tyrannical. John Locke said that you must have the means to protect yourself against the thief that enters your home. Once the thief ties you up he not only has the power to rob you of your liberty he can also rob you of your life. When government becomes the thief you must deal with it in the same manner that you deal with the thief who enters your home. We must always have the means to alter or abolish our government. Without the right to be armed there would be no United States of America today. The right to be armed also protects people from mass extermination. There would have been no Jewish holocaust or Armenian genocide if these people had been armed. The 2nd Amendment is an inalienable right that was given to man by God and it can only be legitimately removed by God. If anyone should be against guns it should be me for purely emotional reasons. My mother was killed by a gun. However I never once blamed the gun for her death. 

 As a Security Policeman, in the Air Force our use of force policy was pretty simple. Every base that I ever worked on, where there were priority resources restricted area signs were posted all along the perimeter fences which warned people that the use of deadly force was authorized. If a person was running or walking toward a resource I was authorized to shoot them if they didn't stop or turn around. Regardless if I could confirm that they had a weapon or not. We could not take that chance. However our goal was to stop them but if they were killed in the process that was just too bad. As a civilian I do not have that kind of power. Like a police officer I must be in fear of losing my life before I can use deadly force. Whoever I confront must have a weapon or I feel reasonably sure that the person has the capability of killing me or doing serious bodily harm to me. The difference between myself as a civilian and a police officer in Tennessee is that as a civilian I must retreat if possible. If the person turns and runs away or drops his weapon, he is no longer a threat and I no longer have the right to use deadly force. If he is stealing my car or some other property I do not have the right to use deadly force unless he does something that puts me in fear of losing my life. One of the things that many people do not seem to be able to grasp is that there is sometimes a justification for shooting an unarmed person. Like in the case of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. Both of these men created a situation in which the person being attacked felt like they were in danger of losing their life. In the case of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin was on top of him and pounding his head in to the ground. Michael Brown was charging officer Wilson after Brown had already tried to take away his weapon in the patrol car. Brown was strong as an ox and twice the size of Wilson.



  My training has taught me that a weapon is the safest when I am in possession of it. In the military I was taught to never separate myself from my weapon unless it was secure. For example my pistol was always in my holster and secured with a strap. My rifle was always in reach. If I was in a vehicle we usually had a weapons rack or it was next to my body. When we would eat in the chow hall the weapon was secured in a weapons rack next to our table. All other times it was on my shoulder or in my hands. As a civilian I have a carry permit. I hate our gun laws because they force me to violate my training. If a business or government facility is posted with a no weapons sign I am forced to leave my weapon in my car. As a veteran with twenty years of law enforcement, security, and weapons training my government trusted me to guard priority resources, presidents, V.I.P.'s and generals but as a civilian I can't carry a gun into a post office or a mall. If the gun is left in my car there is the possibility that I could forget it and a child could find it. Or a thief could break into my car and find the gun. In addition if I am confronted by a bad guy going to or from my car my family and I are vulnerable.


  I would like to live in a society where we have more guns, not less. Studies have shown that those states and cities where guns are mostly in the hands of law abiding citizens there is less violent crime. Those cities that have the strictest gun laws have the highest crime rates. That is because only the bad guys have guns. We should look at people like myself and others who have had firearms, security and law enforcement training as a national resource. Instead we force these people to go unarmed and when something violent happens such as a work place, or school shooting, they become victims like everyone else. As a national policy we should strive to eliminate gun free zones.  Criminals and active shooters are drawn to gun free zones like a moth to a flame. If something happens you are going to call 911 and guess what? They are going to send a person with a gun to your location. The only problem with this is that the bad guy is capable of a lot of mischief in those precious minutes it takes for help to arrive. By then you may need a coroner rather than a cop. I would like to see every veteran that can pass a background check and who was trained with weapons in the service to be issued a carry permit that would enable us to carry weapons legally virtually everywhere. The only exceptions being in courthouses where entry is strictly controlled and on airplanes. This permit could also include civilians with extensive firearms training and former police officers. This would place qualified people with a gun in places that an active shooter might target. Like schools, malls, movie theaters, office buildings, or anywhere that is posted as a gun free zone.

   A person that is properly trained with a weapon knows that you never point a weapon at anyone and  you never remove a pistol from it's holster unless you intend to use it. You never brandish a weapon  and you never fire a warning shot. I have legally carried a weapon since I was 18 and I have only been forced to fire my weapon one time and that was to scare off a pit bull. I guess you could call that a warning shot but I don't know if an animal counts. If I had that decision to make again I would have shot the dog because he was a danger to my grandchildren. I have read that most police officers have never had to fire their weapons in the line of duty. Many times when I stood guardmount in the Air Force we would hear about some idiot who shot himself or someone else. Or they put a hole in a gate shack somewhere because they were playing with a loaded weapon or practicing their quick draw. Many people tell me all the time that if they have to shoot someone they will just try to wound them in the arm or leg. All police officers, security officers and the military are trained to shoot at center mass. This is because in the stress of a shootout the chances of hitting a person in the leg or arm is slim to none. You are more likely to hit your target by shooting at center mass. 

  When I advocate that more people need to be armed many people will say something like "What if someone goes off their rocker and starts shooting people"? Of course I respond that if that happens then there will be more people around that are qualified to stop the guy that goes crazy. People who have little or no experience with guns freak out at the thought of more people being armed. When I carry a weapon I carry it concealed and not on my hip because I don't want to upset people and bring attention to myself. I also do not want to give up the element of surprise. The bad guy doesn't need to know that I have a weapon. Unfortunately there are people with gun permits that carry a gun on their hip in order to impress others or make a statement on how bad they are. I once threw a guy out of the mall who had a gun on his hip and a shirt that said (I Am A Bad Motherf_ _ker) At the time we did not have it posted that weapons were not allowed on mall property. However it was mall policy that guns were not allowed. The man refused to leave and I had to call the police. On top of all this he mocked me and cursed me. This man definitely did not need a gun permit. 

  I will hear people say if you kill someone in your yard or driveway make sure that you pull their body in to the house so it will appear to be justified. My philosophy is that I will use deadly force anywhere that it is justified. Whether it is in the middle of the street or in the middle of my house. I like the saying that I would rather be tried by twelve than carried by six. If someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night and I have a chance to get to my gun them or me will probably be dead. Anyone who breaks into your house knowing that someone is at home is the most dangerous type of burglar. They are there to kill or rape. In the state of Tennessee we have the Castle self defense doctrine. If someone breaks into your home you are justified in shooting them. 

  The issue of our 2nd Amendment rights is perpetually in the news and combined with the false issue of police brutality that is constantly in the news I wanted to try to help clarify these issues and put in my two cents worth. I will end this with what I think is a funny story. About twenty years ago my wife Debbie, my daughters Misty and Melanie, and my only two grandchildren at the time, were in Rossville Georgia. My ex son-in-law and myself were a few miles down the road touring the Chickamauga battlefield. To kill time while we were at the battlefield the girls wanted to check out a shop in Rossville. They parked, got out of the car, and were walking down the sidewalk toward the shop. Debbie was in the car with my grandchildren when she noticed a man that had been sitting on a curb get up and follow my daughters. He kept looking back as if he were checking to see if the coast was clear. About the third time that he looked back he saw Debbie sprawled over the hood of our car aiming my pistol straight at him. I don't think Debbie has ever even fired a gun and I don't know if she could have done anything more than put a good scare into him but her action had the desired effect. The man did a 180 degree turn and resumed his seat on the curb..     

 



            

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