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Counterinsurgency Cops

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

CBS 60 Minutes recently did an absolutely fawning review of a police department in Springfield, Massachusetts, who claims to have implemented counterinsurgency tactics (hereafter COIN – Lesley Stahl incorrectly calls it a strategy, when it is more correctly a set of tactics, techniques and procedures).  You can watch the segment on your own time, but it’s worth pointing out that 60 Minutes didn’t do anything earth-shattering in this segment.  This is a fairly well known and well rehearsed report from 2012, and it is here that we will turn our attention.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) – It’s a story CBS 3 has been following - the success of a state and Springfield police initiative in the city’s North End.

Law enforcement and residents say it’s transforming their neighborhood and cutting crime by 68 percent.

“I wish every hotspot community could use it, it has changed the lives of people here,” said Jose Claudio, director of the New North Citizens Council.

Claudio has lived in arguably the city’s most dangerous neighborhood for more than 40 years.

But he and many others aren’t giving up on it.

“This is our city, this is our neighborhood, we need to all work together,” he said.

After a particularly violent week that claimed three lives in the fall of 2009, police and residents were finally fed up with the violence.

“It was, it was a wake-up call for all of us,” said state police Trooper Michael Cutone.

Cutone took a lesson from his time in the Army Special Forces in Iraq and applied them to the streets in the North End.

“Gang members and drug dealers operate very similar to insurgents…by paralyzing the community and instilling fear in the community,” Cutone said.

But it’s more than just locking people up.

“It starts with every neighbor, it starts with every resident of Springfield,” said Claudio.

Claudio invites people he knows involved in the community to weekly meetings. Community and religious leaders and Springfield and state police meet there to talk about recent arrests, complaints and programs that are helping teens.

Issues brought up at Thursday’s meeting led state police to a home on Washburn Street, where a group of kids has allegedly been terrorizing one family.

Cutone says all too often this neighborhood swallows young kids up into a world of fear and abuse.

And most of the time gangs are seen as the only way out.

“It’s very difficult for that young person to say ‘no’ and they get sucked into the gang, so we have to have a counter-message, and one of those counter-messages is Joseph Mendoza,” Cutone said.

CBS 3 first introduced you to Pfc. Joseph Mendoza last week just days after he had graduated from Marine Corp boot camp.

Since seeing his story as a North End kid staying out of trouble and succeeding, families have approached his mom on how they can do the same.

“First young man from this community to go to the student trooper program, a year later from that joins the Marine Corp,” said Cutone.

But his story is not the only one of hope and survival coming out of this neighborhood.

Some of the people that go to the weekly meetings have done time, learned the hard way and are now paying it forward in various ways.

“It’s very humbling and rewarding at the same time,” Cutone said.

Claudio says he knows that once this group continues to scrape away the crime, the people of the North End can turn a corner.

“If everybody takes that pride and makes it happen, this city will be the comeback city,” Claudio said.

C-3 policing is catching the attention of law enforcement all over the nation.

Since seeing its benefits, police from California and North Carolina have visited Springfield to learn about it.

Police in Paterson, New Jersey, have learned about the COIN approach allegedly used in Springfield, and are reaching out to their police department to obtain mentoring to adopt those same tactics.

Analysis & Commentary

The 60 Minutes report is more remarkable for what it doesn’t say concerning the application of COIN in America.  This didn’t begin in a vacuum.  The theoretical underpinnings for this approach have been in the developmental stages for a long time.

The so-called war on drugs was the casus belli for the militarization of the local police forces in the U.S., although it took time to effect the evolution far and wide.  Near the end of the campaign in Iraq, the favorite think tank of the left, the RAND Corporation, published a report in 2009 entitled Does The United States Need A New Police Force For Stability Operations?  In it, Seth Jones, et. al., conclude:

Weighing all considerations, the researchers concluded that the best option would be a 6,000-person hybrid force headquartered in the U.S. Marshals Service. The personnel in reserve status could be employed in state and local police forces so they would be able to exercise police functions in a civilian population daily and could be called up as needed.

The Marshals Service was deemed to have many of the requisite skills. However, its training and management capabilities would need to be expanded to take on this large mission, and it would have to recruit additional personnel as well. The annual cost, $637 million, is reasonable given the capability it buys. The cost savings in relieving military forces of these duties could be greater than required to create the SPF.

The Military Police option was attractive for a number of reasons, especially its capacity, training, and logistical capabilities, but its inability to engage in policing activities when not deployed was a major stumbling block. The Posse Comitatus Act precludes military personnel from exercising police functions in a civilian setting, and legislative relief might be difficult to get.

Not to be outdone or left behind, the military establishment has weighed in with papers advocating the use of U.S. troops for a similar mission on American soil.  One example, causing me forever to lose any respect for Small Wars Journal, was entitled Full Spectrum Operations In The Homeland: A Vision Of The Future, and SWJ followed this up later with Political Violence Prevention: Profiling Domestic Terrorists.  The former paper advocated the use of U.S. military troops for stability operations in America, while the later paper advocated the use of human terrain systems for profiling “domestic terrorists” (I discussed these papers here).

Just to ensure that we all knew that the full force of the think tanks was behind this effort, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point published Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right (via Western Rifle Shooters Association).  Several observations may be made at this point.  First, while the seeds for military operations on American soil by police and/or U.S. troops had been planted long ago, watching war occur for a decade across our television screens caused a change in those whose predilections would point them in the direction of waring on American soil.

This is how it is to be done, it was easy to conclude.  Social science with a gun: community involvement, town meetings, law enforcement knowledge of everyone all of the time, biometrics to track people (and especially men of military age), door kicking and killing as punitive measures, all sanctioned by the authorities and fully approved.  A new mission.  No longer will we merely perform constabulary duties.  We must rebuild our cities, bring stability, and ensure that the centralized planners work with the military leaders to guide us all.  The example has been set, and we’ve watched it unfold before our eyes for ten years.  It has been paraded across our television screens for years, and now we know how to do it.

Second, in order to effect this revised mission, they must have the same tactics, same military hardware, and the same doctrine.  Police involving the community sounds warm and acceptable to the uninitiated, but it has a dark underbelly.  The carrot and stick approach requires that they perform as COIN troops, as forces of occupation, to enforce their will.  War is, after all is said and done, the use of violence to enforce your will.

And this history of COIN in America has indeed been violent, partly because of the paradigm which guides the mission.  I know something about the mission because my son is a former Marine and conducted operations in Fallujah in 2007.  He performed counter-sniper operations, cleared rooms with an M4, cleared rooms with his Squad Automatic Weapon, performed satellite patrols, and operated an M2 aboard a helicopter targeting insurgents as they crossed over the Euphrates River into Fallujah after checkpoints had locked down the city.  Marine Corps 2/6 went into Fallujah hard in the summer of 2007, but there’s an interesting instance that demonstrates how SWAT teams operate in America.

The Marines had control of Fallujah, but on rare ocassion special operations would roll through the city on their way to Ramadi after bad actors.  On one such occasion when my son and one other Marine were coupled with Iraqi Police in one precinct, U.S. special operations based in Baghdad sped through his AO.  He stopped them, and emphatically stated, “If you ever speed through my AO like that again in an unmarked vehicle, without uniforms and insignia, I’ll light you up like a f****** Christmas tree and laugh while you bleed out.  You inform me the next time you’re in my AO.”

After that SO and the Marine Corps in Fallujah had a clear understanding and there were no more problems.  But special operations desires anonymity, all of the time.  I am unpersuaded that this is primarily for OPSEC or protection of families, since there is no anonymity for conventional Army or Marines.  But SWAT teams have taken on the same tactics in America, wearing hoods, prohibiting photography, and generally refusing to divulge their identities.

Hood1

Hood2

In Chicago SWAT Raid Gone Terribly Wrong, we discussed a case in which the Chicago SWAT team raided a wrong address, hurling profanity at the family, pointing weapons at children, and demanding that one eleven month old show his hands.  I later filed a FOIA request to find out the identities of the officers, and the request was denied.  To have divulged the identities of the officers would not comport with the paradigm of special operations.  But the problem runs deeper, and while we could run through the litany of dilemmas brought by the militarization of police in America, we’ll discuss it is three headings.

While SWAT teams have adopted the tactics of the military, they aren’t trained like the military.  One prime example of this is the death of Mr. Eurie Stamps.  Mr. Stamps was innocent of any wrongdoing.  The police of Framingham, MA., forcibly entered his home and forced him into the prone position on the floor.  One officer who had his finger on the trigger of his weapon stumbled over Mr. Stamps and discharged his firearm into the completely compliant Mr. Stamps, killing him.  My son has been trained to overcome the sympathetic muscle reflex to pull the trigger of his weapon if he stumbles, but SWAT teams have not been through such training, and will never sustain the pressure, get the training or be required to have such skills and abilities.

Max Velocity sums up the situation very well in his discussion of the horrible situation in which the head of a household finds himself in a SWAT raid.

Realizing that this is a Law Enforcement raid, you decline to open fire. The stack comes in through the door. If you decline to fight, you better drop that weapon before they see it, or they will riddle you with bullets. At this point, you are putting your trust in the restraint of the HIT team. They now own you, your house and your family. Remember, they are poorly trained and afraid. They want to go home at the end of their shift. Your safety is not really their concern, only as far as any liability goes. If they kill or injure anyone, they will cover it up and get away with it. You are encouraged to pursue these actions within the system of the courts, but there will never be any satisfaction to be had there. The courts are corrupt and stacked towards the HIT team.

Oh yea, and they just shot and killed your beloved family pet as they made entry.

Remember: It is very important to note that any danger created by the HIT raid is unnecessary and purely created by the actions of the HIT itself. The very methods they use are creating danger, in particular for the home occupants. The HIT is liable, pure and simple, for their unnecessary militarized actions. Any threat to “officer safety” is greatly overborne by the threat to civilian victim safety, and entirely avoidable by the use of civilized methods, as opposed to the current thuggery.

What to expect? If you are not killed immediately, you will have weapons pointed at you. You wife and kids will be rousted out of bed, the family dogs killed and laying around thrashing in front of them. Rifle barrels will be pointed at your family. Death is only a twitchy trigger finger away. You and your wife will be screamed at, cussed at, thrown to the ground and restrained. If you argue you will be tasered and beaten if not shot, until you ‘stop resisting.’ Anyone in your house who is slow to react, such as a handicapped adult looking relative or child, or an ornery old WWII veteran from the Greatest Generation, risks being shot and killed for not immediately complying with orders.

The HIT team now owns your house and your family. They will tear it apart looking for whatever it is they are looking for, even if it is the wrong address. Your kids will be segregated until a social worker arrives to take custody of them. They are now wards of the state until you are freed. You property will be torn up. You will be cussed at and threatened by HIT team guys looking like military in their full gear. They will take all your legally owned firearms and you will never see them again.

They are afraid, trigger happy, generally untrained to perform these functions, and poorly led.  In fact, SWAT teams in America will never rise to the level of control, discipline, leadership and training in special operations or the U.S. Marines.

Even if SWAT teams were trained like the military, their actions violate the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution.  This is true even if they obtain bench warrants for said operations (although oftentimes they do not).  They operate with virtual impunity since their actions have judicial approval.  In other words, they can generally find a judge who will sign anything.  Without judicial approval for these tactics they would cease to exist, and thus the problem has its cancer deep into the fabric of the establishment.  Judges are usually very well know and deeply influential in their communities anyway, and they not only know about these tactics, they approve of them, both implicitly and explicitly.  The brutality with which the occupants of a home are treated is seen as collateral damage in a society that needs to be controlled with the application of force.

The application of force isn’t discriminatory.  The Pittsburgh SWAT dragged a ten year old out of the bathtub and made him stand naked next to his four year old sister at gunpoint.  The Detroit police were all in a tizzy over an art gallery.

The moment the assault rifles surrounded her, Angie Wong was standing in a leafy art-gallery courtyard with her boyfriend, a lawyer named Paul Kaiser. It was just past 2 A.M., in May, 2008. Wong was twenty-two years old and was dressed for an evening out, in crisp white jeans, a white top, and tall heels that made it difficult not to wobble. The couple had stopped by a regular event hosted by the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID), a red brick gallery with the aim of “turning Detroit into a model city,” and arrived to find a tipsy, jubilant scene: inside, gallerygoers were looking at art and dancing to a d.j …

Only then did masked figures with guns storm the crowd, shouting, “Get on the fucking ground! Get down, get down!”   Some forty Detroit police officers dressed in commando gear ordered the gallery attendees to line up on their knees, then took their car keys and confiscated their vehicles, largely on the grounds that the gallery lacked the proper permits for dancing and drinking.

A naked ten year old in a bathtub, dancing and drinking at an art gallery … these are the things occupying the SWAT teams of America. In the case of Brian Terry’s death, border agents initially fired bean bags at the killers.  Yet bean bags were precisely what killed a 95 year old innocent man in Park Forrest (via Mike Vanderboegh).

The old man, described by a family member as “wobbly” on his feet, had refused medical attention. The paramedics were called. They brought in the Park Forest police.

First they tased him, but that didn’t work. So they fired a shotgun, hitting him in the stomach with a bean-bag round. Wrana was struck with such force that he bled to death internally, according to the Cook County medical examiner.

“The Japanese military couldn’t get him at the age he was touchable, in a uniform in the war. It took 70 years later for the Park Forest police to do the job,” Wrana’s family attorney, Nicholas Grapsas, a former prosecutor, said in an interview with me Thursday

Illegal Mexicans bent on killing, or a 95 year old veteran of WWII who had done no wrong.  Eh … what’s the difference?  Actually, the irony of these two cases is quite sad.  In the one situation that should garner our support for militarized policing – the border – the authorities are prevented from acting in a manner which would secure the border.  Illegal aliens are (a) promising votes for the Democrats, and (b) workers for Archer-Daniels-Midland and Monsanto as they scarf up family run farms, which they despise, while the American ratepayer and taxpayer foots the bill for medical care, uninsured motorist coverage, welfare and food stamps.  Illegal aliens are loved by the big corporations in light of the corporate welfare that we all pay, and an economic disaster for the balance of Americans.  The border is easy enough to secure, and remains open because the elite and powerful in both parties want it to be open.  So a better way to state this problem may not be that the use of force isn’t discriminating, but that it is discriminating according to the wishes of the power brokers in America.

Finally, the COIN narrative is false.  For those who are interested in the details of my assertions, see the category The Anbar Narrative.  This is a subject that Professor and Colonel Gian Gentile (of West Point) and I have discussed in detail together – that is, the Petraeus narrative is a happy story made for the masses who do not understand warfare.  Petraeus, it is said, stopped being brutal, befriended the people, brought peace to their neighborhoods, listened to the town leaders, and placed his folk in harm’s way in order to make the people safer and thus win hearts and minds.  Winning hearts and minds means that they give up the insurgents, and presto, counterinsurgency made easy.

But there is nothing easy about it, it didn’t exactly happen that way, and in the end more than a thousand Marines perished in the Anbar Province and more than 4000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines perished in Iraq.  Afghanistan was the campaign led by the social planners rather than a war fought by the NCOs and their men.  Thus we lost in Afghanistan.  Many tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and others perished in Iraq, and the scene on the street and in the countryside was brutal, bloody and awful.  The belief that the COIN narrative can be applied in America or any place else by coupling with the community is a myth, at least as far as that narrative has been told to America.

The police cannot apply such a paradigm in the hopes of ameliorating social and cultural problems, because the police and armed forces cannot change the soul of mankind.

Summary and Conclusion

The evolution of militarized police in America has its doctrinal roots long ago, but has seen an acceleration during the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The mission has evolved to one of COIN and stability operations, but this is a mission too far for constables.  No constabulary operation or operations can possibly bring cultural change to a community.  Thus the police have become occupational forces, without the training, discipline or leadership of the military, but with veritable impunity and complete judicial approval for their actions.

The use of force is indiscriminate, and armed invasion teams are being used to enforce trivial warrants that at one time would have been enforced by uniformed officers acting wisely and with restraint.  In many cases the innocent suffer, and animals are routinely shot as a potential threat before any other actions occur.  The police will always paint a happy face on their community involvement, but it’s corollary - de facto legalized home invasions by occupational forces – is the dark underbelly for which they anticipate and expect treatment as heroes, much like military troops returning from a hard deployment.

A man’s home is his castle and he has a God-given right to defend it, and thus armed invasion teams, state sanctioned or not and in all but the most extreme circumstances like situations with hostages, are evil and the men who perpetrate them are deeply sinful.  These raids violate constitutional protections, but the judiciary is in bed with the executive branch rather than acting as a balance and counterweight to it.  Judicial approval for these tactics is complete and comprehensive.

Max Velocity has another excellent article where he discusses for us the only possible solutions.  Submit or resist.  Resistance may and probably will mean that you resist alone.  But submission may be equally dangerous, as armed teams acting as LEOs have become a favorite tactic of crime gangs.  Submission may mean that you’re dropping your weapon only to learn that those invading your home intend to rape your wife and kill you and your children.  The health and safety of your family may be at stake, and in fact, the very health and future of the republic.  Choose wisely.  But remember as you choose, the same establishment who would send armed invasion teams to shatter the safety of your home would prefer that you not have weapons.  It makes their job much easier.

Update: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention, and welcome Instapundit readers.

Thanks to Western Rifle Shooters Association for the attention.  WRSA has some worthy ideas for confronting local leadership to ascertain where they stand on these issues.  All politics is local – or at least, it should be.

Thanks to Mike Vanderboegh for the attention.

Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.  David has some salient ideas on hood-wearing shooters.

Other reading:

Max Velocity Tactical, The Home Invasion Dilemma – Discussion & Scenarios

Max Velocity Tactical, Solutions – Followup To The Home Invasion Dilemma

Jack Minor, WND Reports On SWAT Raids On The Innocent

Prior:

Son, Will You Fire On American Citizens?

Police Arrest Man For Filming Raid, Then Shoot His Dog In Front Of Him

Yet Another Wrong Home SWAT Raid

You Have No Right To Invade My Home Or Kill My Beasts

SWAT Team Rams Wrong Man’s Car

The Hazards Of A Militarized Police Force

Another Wrong-Home SWAT Raid

Apparent No-Basis Raid In Kansas

Chicago SWAT Raid Gone Terribly Wrong

Jack Booted SWAT Raids

Police Officers Never Intentionally Pointed Guns At A Sleeping Toddler

Arkansas Town Unleashes SWAT To Patrols Streets

Ogden SWAT Team Raids Wrong Home

Yet Another SWAT Team Raid On The Wrong Home

SWAT Team Terrorizes Family In Wrong Home Raid

What Does A SWAT Team And Eight Children Have In Common?

SWAT Raids A Snake Shooting

SWAT-Capades

Continuing SWAT Raids Errors And Pranks

DEA SWAT Raid And Ninth Circuit Ruling

ATF SWAT Failure

D.C. Police Bullies

One Police Officer Dead And Five Wounded From No-Knock Raid

Judges Siding With SWAT Tactics

The Moral Case Against SWAT Raids

Department Of Education SWAT Raid On Kenneth Wright

The Jose Guerena Raid: A Demonstration Of Tactical Incompetence

Living In The Field Part II

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

I had promised to follow up my Living In The Field with Part 2.  Beginning with tents and tarps, weight mitigation gets very expensive, and then even with big money there are detriments to living in a tent.  When I wake in the morning regardless of the outside temperature (although it’s worse in the cold), the inside of the tent is soaked with condensation.  This cannot be avoided, even with the mesh at the top of the tent that allows it to “breath.”

This is a feature of every tent I have ever owned.  Furthermore, in the rain the entire system gets soaked, including the floor, and it’s a mess to put inside a backpack, potentially developing mildew and adding to the weight of your backpack until it’s dry.  As I explained in What Happens If Your Bugout Gun Breaks, there is another option.

The most useful form of covering for me has been a 12′ X 12′ piece of vapor barrier I obtained from a housing contractor.  I used Gorilla tape and grommets from Lowe’s to toughen up the edges and make it amenable to use with trekking poles.  In order to assist with runoff of rain, I made sure to put a grommet in the very middle of the tarp.  I simply find a tree and make use of 550 cord to lift the middle of the tarp above the sides.  It folds up tight and very quickly, and you’re back on the trail without much fuss.

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Find a friend who is a housing contractor, get some vapor barrier, and purchase $15 worth of parts from Lowe’s to make this tarp.  It’s the best one I have ever had, and it just takes some time to prepare it.

Speaking of trekking wet, I have done this so many times I wouldn’t be able to count them.  I spoke to this in the first article.  I made clear that it you’re out in the woods in a driving rain, you’re going to get wet.  Period.  There is no way to avoid it.  But in order to set the framework for this point I’ll let someone with more authority than I have make the point for me.

From David Miller on Awol on the Appalachian Trail:

I’ve been playing a game with my rain jacket.  The cold rain is no match for the heat that I am generating, so I get completely wet from sweat anyway.  I loosen my shoulder straps so I can worm out of the sleevesof the sauna suit one arm at a time while walking and without taking my pack off.  It takes a few minutes, but I’m covering ground.  About the time I finish, the rain picks up again, and I have to wiggle back in, still walking.  I must’ve done this eight times … I wake to the sound of thunder and rain on the tin roof of the NOC bunkhouse.  I hit the train about 10:30 after abandoning the fantasy that the rain would go away.  The walk from NOC is the longest continuous uphill so far, going from 1723 feet to 4750 feet in six miles.  The downside of dropping into towns is the climb out.  The trail is a stream.  Rain comes down in a heavy, continuous barrage.  My defenses – a hooded rain jacket, gaiters, and Gore-Tex pants and shoes – only hold for about two hours.  My shirt, pants and socks are all wet … The rain continues, and shows no signs of letting up.  I get chills once I stop walking, so I have some hot food and jump into my sleeping bag with wet clothes, testing the theory that body heat dries them out.  8 am: It’s been raining for more than 24 hours.  Sleeping in wet clothes is good for the clothes but bad for the sleeping bag … and even with a rain cover my pack slowly absorbs water from the space between me and the pack.

Those of us who live in the East don’t need to be told what NOC stands for.  I’ve been there many times.  My experiences have been much the same.  The coldest, most driving rain I ever experienced was at Jones Gap in the mountains of S.C. in December of 2012 (this competes with one experience at Cold Mountain in much the same conditions).  My poncho was absolutely waterproof, and yet at the end of my trek into the gap I was soaked to the bone from my own sweat.  That was the only time I have ever been in the wilderness and unable to get a fire going (partly because of poor planning).  Fortunately I had dry clothing and an Isobutane stove – and the tarp described above to keep me dry.

I hate to get all engineer on you, but in terms of mass transfer, unless there is a driving force or a differential in conditions, there won’t be any evaporation of your sweat.  The notion of “breathable” rain gear is ridiculous.  Regardless of whether the weave of the fabric can allow the water droplets from sweat to pass through, if the air on the other side is saturated (and when it’s raining it’s 100% relative humidity), there is no physical force to move the droplets through the fabric.  Breath-ability is nice for other kinds of parkas (when it’s not raining), but the holy grail of hiking dry in the rain is fantasy to experienced backpackers.  It just doesn’t happen that way.

Regarding coats and jackets, my favorite one has been the Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka.  I like it for the heavier fabric and especially for the hip length design with a drawstring around the midriff.  It has a snow skirt that zips to keep snow out (and for that reason it has been a favorite of ski patrol in the Western states), and the skirt helps to keep wind out where waist length parkas tend to suck in wind at the bottom.

The parka is good for rain for about two hours, and wind forever.  Of course, as with all functional and well designed products, this parka has been discontinued.  Mountain Hardwear has opted to focus on the city crowd who wants sleek, light parkas for walking back and forth from the parking deck to the office.  Years ago there was the 60/40 parka that had a cult following.  I was part of that cult.  Sierra Designs discontinued it (what did I tell you above about functional gear being discontinued?), but it’s available today, just for a very elevated price.

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My daughter models my Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka.  It’s a bit big for her.  That’s her jeep.  I have a truck.

I think I spoke to head cover in the previous article, but I’ll mention it again.  Ball cap style cover is fine for most conditions, but always needed whether from protection from the sun or warmth.  In winter I like my soft hat.  The one below drops in the back and provides warmth for my neck.  This has served me fine down to temperatures in the single digits and heavy wind.

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Mountain Hardwear hat, warmth in low temperatures and heavy winds.  I am generally a proponent of good gear, and Mountain Hardwear makes most of it very well.

I don’t think I said enough about weight in the previous article, and I said nothing about backpacks.  I have seen a number of so-called 3-day rucks, and frankly I’m unimpressed with all of them.  They are not tall enough to put the weight up high and provide meaning to having hip straps.

For a backpack to be any good it needs to be designed to couple with your body as a system, placing the weight on the hips (with the hip straps) rather than the shoulders, thus setting the center of gravity for the weight you’re carrying on your back over the legs rather than throwing your upper torso off balance.

Most 3-day rucks have hips straps, but are short enough that the hip straps wrap around the belly, providing no support at all for the weight.  It looks ridiculous and doesn’t supply any benefit.  If the backpack doesn’t place the weight on your hips, it’s worthless and will eventually hurt you.  Your spine isn’t designed for the compressive forces of humping a ruck around in the field with heavy weight being borne on your shoulders.

Folks who thru-hike the AT learn to shave micro-ounces off of their load.  They will carry a children’s toothbrush because it weighs less than an adult toothbrush.  With enough days in the field anyone begins to think the same way.  I like fixed blade knives, but they weigh too much for me to believe that they are the only option.  I use a tactical / utility folder with a serrated edge.  This tool can cut, chop, or stab.  Also, large fixed blade knives get in the way of my body movements, especially if I’m traversing steep terrain (which I usually am).

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My Ka-Bar Tactical Folder.  The soft sheath is suitable for attachment to molle straps.

A word about water purification.  Other than removal of turbidity and use of a ceramic filter I am not a fan of other means of purification such as tablets (although I know that some people use them regularly in the field), as there is a health effect on the thyroid of overdose of iodine.  Filtering removes protozoa (Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and Bacteria (e.g., E. Coli), but not viruses.  Boiling removes all problems.  So does bleach.

Treating Water with a 5-6 Percent Liquid Chlorine Bleach Solution

Volume of Water to be Treated Treating Clear/Cloudy Water:
Bleach Solution to Add
Treating Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water: Bleach Solution to Add
1 quart/1 liter 3 drops 5 drops
1/2 gallon/2 quarts/2 liters 5 drops 10 drops
1 gallon 1/8 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
5 gallons  1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
10 gallons 1 teaspoon 2 teaspoons

There are good reviews of water filtration equipment, and I recommend that you study the literature and see what you would like to try.

Water is very heavy (1 g/cc), and carrying it exhausting, so backpackers and hikers look for ways not to carry it on their backs.  Speaking of weight, the heaviest component of any kit in a tactical situation will be a weapon and ammunition (stainless steel has a density of 7.94 g/cc, brass has a density of 8.7 g/cc, and lead has a density of 11.34 g/cc).

I have a bag of 1600 rounds sitting near me at the moment, and for those of us who are weightlifters, it’s way heavier than a 45 pound York plate.  You’re not going to hoist that bag of ammunition on your back and traipse around the field with it very far.  Multiple guns and excessive ammunition aren’t going to be a feature of long term operation in the field.

And back to water, I passed an AT thru-hiker in Damascus, Virginia, last summer, and asked him what he was doing for water.  He had tried filtration for several weeks, but now he said when he sees water he “face-plants” in the water.  No filtration, no tablets.  Thus far, no problems.

I think he is risking extreme sickness, but I do understand adjustment to the various things in the local water.  From the age of 14 – 21 I worked at a Christian camp in the mountains of S.C. (summers and weekends) shoveling gravel, digging ditches, driving tractors and trucks, baling hay, driving jeeps, training and doctoring quarter horses, and doing maintenance.  We drank untreated local reservoir water, and when anyone new came to work with us they were usually sick for about two weeks.  We all got accustomed to it, adjusting our bodies to the source of water.

Speaking of this camp, there is one more thing I wanted to mention.  We hunted rattlesnakes and copperheads because otherwise we would lose horses to snake bites (they would be out of commission for a while if they lived).  I have been bitten by a Copperhead before.  In the hospital they used a syringe the likes of which I have never seen before, and the shot in my hip took about a minute to get all of the antivenin into my system.

My dog has also been bitten by a Copperhead, and her paw swelled up the size of a softball.  There was no treatment given to her except antibiotics.  Animals tend to do better than humans with snake bites, but if she hadn’t been 82 pounds she probably would have died.

At the time of my dog being bitten I did some research into antivenin and its cost.  It’s very expensive, and it’s formulated by injecting livestock with small doses of venom, usually in Mexico, and extracting the blood products after some period of time.  It has to be refrigerated and has a shelf life, and some outdoors outfitters have a stock available because snake bite it such a high risk (e.g., rafting companies for the New River or Ocoee River, for example, both of which I’ve been down).

Giving it to humans is risky because the blood products can carry stray bovine proteins that can be harmful to humans (because of poor QA in Mexico).  It’s only administered because the snake bite risk is higher than the risk of harm from the antivenin.  Dogs aren’t considered important enough to administer antivenin.  They’re on their own, as we are if we are bitten in the field without immediate medical care.  If you’re a couple of days hike from help, or if you’re solo backpacking and get bitten, you’re going to lose appendages, and you will possibly perish.  A Copperhead bite means amputation.  A Rattlesnake bite means death.  Be wary near water.

And continuing to harp on the issue of weight, this report from China is interesting.

A man from Sichuan Province recently made Chinese headlines for using several “bug-out backpacks” following the April 20 earthquake in Ya’an.

Li Yonggang, a 39-year-old freelance worker from Tianquan County, was interviewed by Southern Metropolis Daily.

After the magnitude-7 quake hit, Li ran out of the house wearing only his underwear, according to the report. He went back inside to get dressed, and brought out a large pack weighing nearly 55 pounds. He had prepared another four bugout bags for everyone in his family, except his baby son–his wife, mother, and two daughters each had their own pack.

Li’s bag was the biggest; the smallest belonged to his 6-year-old daughter, and only weighed 11 pounds. The packs contained tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, a compass, gloves, headlamps, and even surgical suture kit, the Daily reported.

Li took the big backpack to his father-in-law’s home, and set up three tents.

“I’m completely self-sufficient. I don’t burden anyone,” Li told Southern Metropolis Daily.

Li said that his family did not have to worry about lack of food, as the packs contained dry crackers, army-style cans, and tablets to purify water. He had also hidden 220 pounds of vacuum-packed rice in his house. Six days after the quake, he still had not asked local authorities for any food supplies.

Li’s parents were born in the 1940’s in China and experienced horrifying famine in the years 1959-1961. “Many people died of starvation during the three-years of famine. At least two relatives told me how that they had to eat human flesh from dead bodies to survive the famine,” he told the Daily.

After Li experienced the Wenchuan earthquake five years ago, he was haunted by his parent’s experiences and determined to try to protect his family. Li began learning about survival.

He purchased the necessary supplies, prepared the five backpacks, and rented three cabins in the countryside for his children to use as survival practice sites.

After the latest earthquake, Li told the Daily that he learned a few lessons. “I had too many cans. In case of a real emergency, we wouldn’t be able to walk far with that much baggage.”

Weight is everything, but it isn’t more important than making sure that you have a plan, gear and weapons, even if it’s all imperfect.

Prior:

Living In The Field

Surviving The Apocalypse: Thinking Strategically Rather Than Tactically

Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf

Towards A New America

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

Nonprofit Quarterly recently carried a commentary on Lindsey Graham and his comments on AR-15s that took a detour into the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Rick Cohen’s thoughts make for interesting reading.

Our impression of American behavior during disasters has been that people generally pull together, that adversity brings out the best in us. Sure, we know that people do very bad things, but the press often notes how people also go out of their way to help and protect their neighbors. In fact, that feeling of mutuality was what we thought undergirded the nonprofit sector in a democratic society.

It must be that we fell for some Panglossian view of America, if we are to believe Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Graham grilled Attorney General Eric Holder about the proposed ban on assault weapons. We haven’t seen the news reports that verify what Graham says happened—or sort of happened—to spark his support for carrying around military-style assault weapons:

“Can you imagine a circumstance where an AR-15 would be a better defense tool than, say, a double-barrel shotgun? Let me give you an example, that you have (sic) an lawless environment, where you have an natural disaster or some catastrophic event — and those things unfortunately do happen, and law and order breaks down because the police can’t travel, there’s no communication. And there are armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods. Can you imagine a situation where your home happens to be in the crosshairs of this group that a better self-defense weapon may be a semiautomatic AR-15 vs. a double-barrel shotgun?

I’m afraid that world does exist. It existed in New Orleans, to some extent up in Long Island [after Hurricane Sandy], it could exist tomorrow if there’s a cyber attack against [the] country and the power grid goes down and the dams are released and chemical plants are — discharges.

What I’m saying is if my family was in the crosshairs of gangs that were roaming around neighborhoods in New Orleans or any other location, the deterrent effect of an AR-15 to protect my family, I think, is greater than a double-barrel shotgun.”

As far as we can tell, Graham must be referencing a gang of white vigilantes in New Orleans’ Algiers Point neighborhood who, armed with shotguns and assault weapons, allegedly opened fire on African Americans “with impunity” after Hurricane Katrina; the militia was reportedly on the lookout for anyone who “didn’t belong” in the neighborhood, as reported by ProPublica and The Nation. If so, maybe Graham’s fears would have more of a basis in reality if he looked a little more like Holder and was facing a white militia armed with AR-15s.

It is in vogue to tell this revisionist history of Katrina.  We’ll deal with this shortly, but before we do that and in order to set the stage for our response, we will now be the ones to take a detour into another crisis to watch how a nation behaved.  We’ll address AR-15s, catastrophies and totalitarian governments, but for now let’s briefly revisit the fall of the Berlin wall, the role of one church, and the actions of the East Gernam Army.

OathKeepers has an interview with Lt. Colonel Gunter Spens, in which he describes the fact that the East German Army simply refused to obey orders to stop the protests at the wall and stayed on base.   True enough for part of the story, and as much as I admire Oath Keepers, it isn’t as simple as this and there is more to the story.  This is the church that brought down the wall.

In the GDR, atheism was the norm. Churches like St. Nikolai were spied on but allowed to remain open.

“In the GDR, the church provided the only free space,” Fuhrer said in an interview with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. “Everything that could not be discussed in public could be discussed in church, and in this way the church represented a unique spiritual and physical space in which people were free.”

In the early 1980s, Fuhrer began holding weekly prayers for peace.

Every Monday, worshippers recited the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Few came at first, but attendance grew as the Soviet Union began opening to the West.

The prayer service, Fuhrer said, “was something very special in East Germany. Here a critical mass grew under the roof of the church — young people, Christians and non-Christians, and later, those who wanted to leave (East Germany) joined us and sought refuge here.”

As a college student in those years, Sylke Schumann was one of the hundreds, then thousands, who joined the vigils in the sanctuary at St. Nikolai and then marched in the streets holding candles and calling for change.

“Seeing all these people gather in this place … from week to week and more and more people gathering, you had the feeling this time really the government had to listen to you,” Schumann said.

In October 1989, on the 40th anniversary of the GDR, the government cracked down.

Protesters in Leipzig were beaten and arrested. Two days later, St. Nikolai Church was full to overflowing for the weekly vigil. When it was over, 70,000 people marched through the city as armed soldiers looked on, but did nothing.

And even this report doesn’t tell the whole story.  I was a member of a church during this time that received regular (underground) reports from East German churches about the events of that era.  When society has rejected God and embraced totalitarianism, the men can become lovers of power or drunkards and whore chasers.   Not all men do, but many succumb to this fate.

But oftentimes the women – mothers and grandmothers who want their children to be raised with a sense of morality and the knowledge of God – toe the line.  Secretly they teach their children.  Their children learn to love their mothers and the instruction, and like ticking time bombs that explode later in life, that instruction proves determinative.

And toe the line the women did.  The crowds were heavily populated with mothers and grandmothers, and the boys who populated the East German Army remembered their instruction.  They wouldn’t discharge their weapons at their own blood, and whether it was the instruction in underground churches or the simple fact that the boys wouldn’t kill their mothers or mothers of colleagues, no rounds were fired.  It had little to do with orders to stay in garrison.  If the East German Army had deployed (as some of them did), they would simply have watched as the wall fell without a shot.

Now, let’s return to the issue of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  Except for the horrible racist, Aryan gangs who abused the black folk, it was a veritable Shangri La indeed.  Except for the white folk everyone would have gotten along just swimmingly.  White Aryan gangs in the middle of New Orleans.  You simply can’t make this up.

Except that this isn’t reality.  Revisionist doesn’t even begin to describe that view.  That view is an outright fabrication and falsehood.  A more accurate and honest accounting shows how rough the time was.

In the City of Vultures, a New Zealander is one of the few remaining police officers who has stayed behind to protect the helpless.

James Gourlie, 30, formerly of Christchurch, is one of six officers who have remained out of a district force of 200.

“This is my district. I will not abandon my district, my county, my workmates or these people,” he told the Herald On Sunday last night.

Mr Gourlie was speaking while preparing for another night patrol from the Hampton Inn, which he and fellow officers took over after their police station was overrun. For its single entrance, and the war zone outside, they have dubbed the hotel “The Fortress”.

It’s been six days and five nights of lawlessness since Hurricane Katrina hit. In the vacuum left by Katrina, anarchy has reigned. Human vultures have preyed on the helpless, pillaging homes and shops, committing murder and rape.

The decision to stay while hundreds of fellow officers fled has left them bitter. Mr Gourlie returned after getting his American wife Jennifer out of New Orleans.

When one fellow officer and friend pulled out for Texas on Friday, taking two automatic rifles and a shotgun, he earned his colleagues’ anger.

“They’re preserving their lives but they’re risking their friends,” said Mr Gourlie, of the “cowards” who have left. “You know what the New Zealand and Australian way is – and that ain’t the Anzac way. You sacrifice yourself for your mates.”

There are incidents every day involving weapons, although Mr Gourlie is thankful he has not yet had to shoot anyone. The times the officers have intervened, those desperate for help have wept and offered thanks.

A fellow officer was killed after warning looters away from a store. A looter pushed a gun against his head and pulled the trigger. “It was heartbreaking to see this police officer lying on his back, blood pouring out of his head.”

There are gangs of armed thugs in the convention centre. One young hood the officers pulled up was carrying a civilian version of a military M-16 rifle.

“There’s shooting. The thugs inside, they have come outside. They are running up and down, disturbing people with impunity. They know we can’t cross the road and engage them because we don’t know where their cohorts are. We are so vastly outnumbered, especially at night,” said Mr Gourlie.

There has also been murder and rape. In one awful case, a 15-year-old girl had suffered both, her body stuffed into an oven with her throat slit.

“I would expect something like this in a war zone in the Middle East. You’d be stupid not to be afraid. It’s how you face it that counts.”

The gangs in the centre have now destroyed the generators, and last night was the first Katrina’s survivors have spent without light. “That’s one of the reasons why people are so afraid today.”

I am certainly no admirer of Lindsey Graham.  His criticism of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul over their filibuster was petulant, and his friendship with John McCain shows that he wants to stay in power rather than hold government accountable.  But from the mouth of the unexpected sometimes comes wisdom, even if by accident.

Unfortunately like the author says, Ameica is indeed like this concerning violence and danger, even if his intended target – white gangs – is a fabrication of his imagination.  And during this period of peril for the citizens of New Orleans did the National Guard keep order?  No, to their everlasting shame they spent their time confiscating weapons from law abiding citizens.

And yet, the National Guard had no evidence that New Orleans wouldn’t devolve into something like the L.A. riots, leaving people helpless and defenseless.

America as we have know it is dead.  It is no more.  The cities are violent and the government totalitarian.  America is more bifurcated than it has ever been in history.  Ninety million people are out of the labor force, and something approaching half of America pays no income tax.  Keynesian economics has failed like a star burning out.  The first medium size city has gone bankrupt, taking with it nearly one billion dollars in pensions for state workers.  Note that this doesn’t include Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment payments, welfare, social security or any other federal program.  One billion dollars – just on state pensions, just with one medium size city.

While the states are going down, the federal government is working hard at making itself more totalitarian than before.

The ATF doesn’t just want a huge database to reveal everything about you with a few keywords. It wants one that can find out who you know. And it won’t even try to friend you on Facebook first.

According to a recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the bureau is looking to buy a “massive online data repository system” for its Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information (OSII). The system is intended to operate for at least five years, and be able to process automated searches of individuals, and “find connection points between two or more individuals” by linking together “structured and unstructured data.”

Primarily, the ATF states it wants the database to speed-up criminal investigations. Instead of requiring an analyst to manually search around for your personal information, the database should “obtain exact matches from partial source data searches” such as social security numbers (or even just a fragment of one), vehicle serial codes, age range, “phonetic name spelling,” or a general area where your address is located. Input that data, and out comes your identity, while the computer automatically establishes connections you have with others.

Many other specific requirements are also to be expected for a federal law enforcement agency: searching names, phone numbers, “nationwide utility data” and reverse phone searches. The data will then be collected to help out during investigations and provide “relevant information and intelligence products.”

To do this and similar things they are spending the wealth of your children and children’s children.  Ben Bernanke is trying ever so hard to keep hyperinflation under control and interest rates low in order to keep the deficit from exploding, but sooner or later America’s unfunded liabilities will come due and no amount fiat money will suffice.  Fractional reserve banking will prove to people when hard times hit that their money doesn’t exist and cannot be withdrawn from their accounts.  It’s just a waiting game, because the system cannot be saved.

The American experiment – subtended by wealth redistribution, race baiting, totalitarianism and the creation of taker class that leeches off of workers – is over.  It has been replaced by Fabian socialism.  But all is not lost.  America will be reborn in a different form.  Hard times are approaching, and there are some salient and hard questions that are a function of those hard times.

Will police, soldiers and Marines raise their weapons against American civilians?  The Louisiana National Guard did.  To each and every officer, soldier and Marine I tell you, you’d better not.  God will condemn you for it.  Your orders must be legal and moral to require your fealty, and notwithstanding the [il]legality of such an order, it would be immoral.  Will you confiscate weapons if so ordered?  You’d better not – God will condemn you for it.  Each man lives his appointed days, and then he will face judgment.  Do not face God having removed means of legitimate protection of the family.  And do not face God having been the stooge for a tyrant.  It matters little how long you live.  It matters much how you live, and how you perish.

To parents, you must teach your children and instill in them a reverence for and love of liberty.  Even for the old among us, you may very well end up training the very men who would otherwise be your tyrants, but who will remember their upbringing instead.  Mothers and grandmothers, you essentially saved the day in East Germany.  Don’t underestimate your role.  Teaching the children is the most important job on earth.

Men, don’t be naive.  God apparently granted a special dispensation to East Germany for a bloodless coup.  It won’t happen that way anywhere else.  The National Guard in many states has already shown that they will assist totalitarianism.  The race riots in Los Angeles were nothing compared to what it will be like in the event of an economic collapse in America.

Teach the children.  Defend the family.  It isn’t just a right, it’s your God-given duty.  And never, ever relinquish your weapons.  That would be as immoral as the actions of totalitarians in confiscation.  You shall not cooperate with the totalitarians and be approved by God.  Never give up.  God is on your side.

Welcome To Amerika!

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

The Obama administration is planning never before seen intrusions into the private affairs of U.S. citizens.

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

This will split our fiber backbone signals and dump every 1 and 0 that transverses it into government computers.  Every detail of life of all citizens is now subject to inspection and assessment by government overlords who can and will make decisions as to so-called “terrorist activity,” which could be al Qaeda or perhaps unorganized militia who prepare for any threat against the U.S., foreign or domestic.

This knowledge should be coupled with another stunning intrusion into our God-given rights we learned about today.  Bob Owens has a report for us.

Chuck Schumer’s S. 374, the Orwellian “Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013,” has been an empty shell… until he slipped in Amendment ALB13180 (PDF) today, which shows the “teeth” of the bill.  It is an extremely aggressive attempt to destroy the Second Amendment by isolating and criminalizing extremely common behaviors among gun owners.

Doubt me?

Take a looking at a sampling of what it Sebastian notes it would outlaw:

  • If you leave home for more than 7 days and leave anyone at home, that becomes a felony illegal transfer. 5 years in prison for each of you.
  • if you take a friend shooting and allow him to fire your gun, that is a felony illegal transfer. 5 years in prison for each of you.
  • If you have a gun lost or stolen and don’t report it within 24 hours, you’ve committed a felony. 5 years in prison.
  • If you lend a gun to someone for to try out at the range, provide a loaner for a student in training, let your son shoot a rifle you purchased while hunting, or provide a gun to a woman for self-defense, you’ve committed a felony. 5 years in prison for each of you.

Bob ends his assessment with the following almost desperate interdiction.

It’s inching closer.

May God have mercy on us all.

See also reaction at WRSA.  It’s possible, of course, to forestall such an eventuality, even if unlikely.  For example, the states who are currently considering or have passed laws against enforcement of federal gun laws could actually take their state laws seriously.

If such a federal law were to pass, a state could decide to confiscate and immediately destroy all form 4473s in all FFLs in their state, and warn FFLs to contact state police if any ATF agents enter their premises.  State police could arrest any federal agents who attempted to enforce federal gun laws and place them into the general prisoner population in state penitentiaries.  Threats to arrest state police or stop these actions could be met with National Guard troops to further effectuate the arrest of federal agents and enforce a cease and desist action to all federal employees, including federal judges who moved against such actions.

But this would have to happen all across the nation for it to be effective, and I find it unlikely that a governor would take these actions, regardless of the posturing that we currently see by the states.  The concept of States’ rights has fallen too hard and too far, and federalism has lost its appeal in the U.S.

Short of something like this, I am becoming increasingly pessimistic about a possible recovery of our national character.  When the people demand cradle to grave security and overwatch, the state responds with cradle to grave demand for omniscience for itself and cradle to grave compliance by the people.  It’s a deal with the devil for our soul, and America has made it a long time ago.

If this sounds judgmental, then I plead guilty.  Based on religious doctrine, which the epistemologists might call strongly held truth value, or incorrigible beliefs, I hold that gun control is evil.

The Bible does contain a few direct references to weapons control. There were many times throughout Israel’s history that it rebelled against God (in fact, it happened all the time). To mock His people back into submission to His Law, the Lord would often use wicked neighbors to punish Israel’s rebellion. Most notable were the Philistines and the Babylonians. 1 Samuel 13:19-22 relates the story: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles sharpened…So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in this hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon also removed all of the craftsmen from Israel during the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:14). Both of these administrations were considered exceedingly wicked including their acts of weapons control.

Gun control is like control over everything else.  The key word here is control.  It is at one and the same time a function of wicked rulers and a benchmark, or barometer or gauge, to measure their wickedness.  God doesn’t cede or relinquish rule over His creation for mankind, and totalitarian governance usurps the authority He demands over the actions of mankind.  God will not be mocked – He does the mocking.

God sits in the heavens and laughs and scoffs at the designs of man (Psalm 2:4).  Here is a warning to totalitarian rulers.  “Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way.”  Judgment will come, here or in the hereafter, and perhaps sooner and more unexpectedly than you think.

The only explanation for Senator Schumer’s totalitarian dictates is that he believes that Americans will go along with it.  To be sure, there are many who will … who will take measure of the situation and decide that they value peace and security over measurements of right and wrong.

But there are many who will not go along with such laws.  They will not allow themselves or their children or their friends or loved ones to be imprisoned for failing to take their weapons to a public armory when they go on trips, or loaning a rifle to their son to learn to shoot at the range.

We have covered this ground before.  Bob reacted the way he did because he understands in a way that the totalitarians and wicked rulers in Washington do not.  These measures will not stand.  They will fall, one way or the other.

Will our wicked rulers turn back before it’s too late?  Only God knows, but only time will tell us.  Here is a final warning: do not cross lines from which there is no return.

In the mean time, this isn’t your father’s country.  Welcome to Amerika!

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

Surviving The Apocalypse: Thinking Strategically Rather Than Tactically

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

In this article I have three objectives.  First I want to discuss what would happen to a lone wolf fighter if he tried to be effective without aid and assistance.  Next, I want to distinguish between thinking tactically and strategically concerning survival.  Finally, I want to describe things that might catalyze the need to invoke such plans, from rogue, illegitimate groups to patriots who will not relinquish their second amendment rights, regardless of the consequences.

In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we saw how good tacticians can provide broad outlines for tactics, equipment and knowledge of procedures for small unit maneuver, and can enable a lone wolf fighter to be effective for a short period of time.  But I said, and still hold true, that this is a bad paradigm for operations, and represents tactical rather than strategic thinking.

The lone wolf fighter faces a daunting set of problems.  From a small child, between riding and training horses, working, camping, hiking, shooting and hunting, I have spent thousands of days and nights in the wilderness.  I have experienced some or a lot of what I am going to describe, and seen others experience the balance of it (or in extreme cases, I simply know of people to whom this has happened or know that it can happen).

Within a couple of days of being in the wilderness, your personal stench is merely disgusting.  By the end of the first week, the putrid, toxic paste that develops around the groins of men becomes a risk to health and safety and can cause serious diseases.  Within another week your feet develop a cocktail of fungal infections, and within another week the skin begins to fall off of them.

Around this time sores develop across your entire body, and the clothing you wear and carry, from underwear to socks, to pants and shirts, to boots and sleeping bags, is fit for nothing but putting into a pit and burning.  Listen carefully.  You cannot carry enough baby wipes to prevent this process from occurring.  You can only slow it down.

In the winter, the cold will sap the energy and even the life out of your body.  It is even difficult to maintain proper hygiene in harsh weather like this.  I have been backpacking in such cold weather than my toothbrush froze into a solid block of ice between the time I pulled it out of the river and the time it reached my mouth.  Without proper dental hygiene, various dental diseases can develop, and these can be debilitating to anyone, much less someone in the wilderness.

In the heat the problems only multiply.  Dehydration is a constant concern, and the time it takes to boil water is precious, if you are able to get a fire going or carry an isobutane canister.  Rarely, there is a Godsend like fresh, naturally-filtered water.

Our Nalgene bottles are sitting under moss at the bottom of a steep rock face collecting potable water.  My 80 pound Doberman Heidi is drinking.  I almost lost her that weekend at Jones Gap.  She almost went down a waterfall, and my son Josh managed to catch her collar with his trekking pole.

I have also been backpacking in such a downpour that nothing would burn, and it would have taken a gallon of gasoline to achieve a fire that lasted for longer than ten minutes.  Assuming that you can find a potable water supply at all times, food presents yet another problem.  You simply cannot carry enough freeze dried food to meet your needs.  There are no Gunny Sergeants ordering up coffee in the morning and rations all day as long as you are in the field doing training.  There is no training.  This will be for real.  The lack of food energy is debilitating, and eventually deadly.

In the summer heat, there are snakes.  I have been bitten by a Copperhead before, as has my dog.  A Rattlesnake bite almost always involves loss of limbs, and in the field without medical attention, would be deadly.

My XDm .45, Ka-Bar folder, sleeping bag and one man tent.  The tent is barely big enough for Heidi and me.  I probably need a good, small two-man tent.

Ticks bring tick-borne diseases, and they can be deadly.  After every summer backpacking trip, I and my sons strip and search each other for ticks (or I have my wife do it, but it must be done soon from the field).  Lack of a partner to perform this inspection can be deadly.  Eventually without showers, washing, and proper hygiene, the body can get lice or scabies.  Without Ivermectin this is untreatable in the wilderness.  Marines will routinely shave their entire bodies of hair before deployment in order to avoid lice, but without this possibility in the wilderness in the absence of water and other sanitation, lice will be hard to avoid.

There are the very rare cases of those who become beached on a deserted island and live long enough to tell their story, or survive on the open ocean by drinking turtle blood.  But in the main, you simply cannot last for long as a lone wolf fighter, and if you think so, you’re delusional and like to nurture fantasies.  You can stay out for several days, but eventually you and your family must ensconce somewhere.  It might be in your neighborhood, it might be in the mountains or wilderness somewhere else, or it might be with multiple families.  But you cannot stay lone wolf for long.

In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we discussed standing down a SWAT team on your front porch, ready to breech.  This is a highly controversial issue, and there are those who will perish defending their second amendment rights, or more correctly, God-given rights.  They will choose to perish in their own home during an armed standoff with governmental forces.

But it must be remembered that those who advocate such measures are thinking tactically.  The SWAT team is also thinking tactically.  But the SWAT team reports to supervisors, and those supervisors report to managers, and they are all thinking strategically.  A thousands deaths at the hands of SWAT teams means only one thing.  Losses.  That is a losing strategy.

I’m not advocating against this sort of approach, so much as I’m observing reality.  I’m not saying that it should not happen this way, so much as I’m saying that it won’t happen this way.  The first bloody corpse dragged from a home invasion by government forces hunting for firearms will be the occasion for some deep soul searching by millions of firearms owners across the country.  This may happen sooner, when confiscatory plans are announced.

Americans are generally very adaptable.  Turning for a moment to a warning I had about foreign terrorists in the country, I observed that there are deep vulnerabilities in our infrastructure.

The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV.  They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike.  They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.

They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication.  It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas.  These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation.  Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time.  In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.

On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants.  Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack.  With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.

Bob Owens takes this down the grid to the next components.

They don’t understand asymmetrical warfare in the slightest, much less how it would be waged here. Let me give you just one small example of how a lone wolves or small teams can strike well beyond their size against a near defenseless leviathan.

After the Dot Com bubble burst in the early 2000s, I took a job in upstate New York for a subcontractor of Central Hudson Gas and Electric. I was part of a crew sent out to map electrical transmission line power poles and towers via GPS, check the tower footings for integrity, check the best routes for access, etc.

It meant I rode quads (ATVs) through mountains, swamps, forests, neighborhoods and farms all over southern New York, in winter’s icy chill and blowing snow, and in summer’s melting heat. It was exhausting work, often in beautiful scenery.

We probably averaged 20 miles of line a day, and that over the course of the contract I easily rode a thousand miles. I can tell you stories of flipping quads, sinking quads, going down a mountain without brakes, almost hitting deer at top speed, and parking on the remains of an electrocuted bear, but that isn’t really what I remember most about the job.

No, what I remember most about the job were the days we spent up near the Rondout Reservoir. What I remember in specific was discovering how powerless the government was to protect key utilities.

[ ... ]

Substations like the one above could be accessed not just from surface roads, but from access trails under the power lines by people with UTVs, ATVs, and motorcycles.

Just like the residential transformers in your neighborhood, the transformers in substations are cooled with a form of mineral oil. If someone decides to blast a transformer at its base as prepper Bryan Smith did, and the oil drains out, then the transformer either burns out catastrophically, or if the utility is lucky, a software routine notices the problem and shuts the substation (or at least the affected portion) down. The power must then be rerouted through the remaining grid until that transformer can be replaced and any other resulting damage can be repaired.

Were an angry group of disenfranchised citizens to target in a strategic manner the substations leading to a city or geographic area—say, Albany, for example—they could put the area in the dark for as long as it took to bring the substations back online. Were they committed enough, and spread their attacks out over a wide enough area, perhaps mixing in a few tens of dozens of the residential transformers found every few hundred yards along city streets, they could overwhelm the utility companies ability to repair the damage being caused or law enforcement’s ability to stop them. The government could perhaps assign a soldier or cop for every transformer, substation and switch, but they’d run out of men long before they ran out of things they need guarded.

It’s even more vulnerable than Bob hints.  The utilities in America don’t belong to the government (except for TVA), and the government isn’t duty bound to protect them.  They are private assets.  Even if the government could protect those assets (and they can’t), they wouldn’t.

If the DHS had a trillion rounds of .40 pistol ammunition it wouldn’t matter.  With America in the dark for two years, confiscation of weapons would be the last thing on the minds of law enforcement (that is, the LEOs who left their families alone and without protection in order to come to work).

And there you go.  Smart New Yorkers who don’t want to watch their friends perish on their doorsteps might choose to act strategically rather than tactically.  And that brings in a whole host of issues that need our attention.

When such a scenario occurs, are you prepared?  Do you have a place to ensconce your family?  Do you have the weapons and ammunition that you need?  Do you have means to make potable water?  Do you have freeze dried and canned food?  Do you have means to generate power when you need to, to plant seeds for crops, or provide covering and clothing to stay warm?  Are you allied with like-minded families who will assist each other in dealing with a scenario like this?

The questions run deeper than you think.  I sat across from the dinner table with a very dear friend of many years a few days ago, and heard him lament the fact that they hadn’t been able to afford to purchase firearms for family protection.  This family operates on a thin budget.

My thinking began: “Do I give him my .45, no, that’s my premier personal defense weapon … do I give him my .40, no, I have that one because it’s the same caliber as Josh’s gun … do I give him my .357 wheel gun, no, that’s the best CQB weapon ever invented my mankind … I cannot give him my rifles … ” and so on, and so forth.

Should I go buy a relatively inexpensive polymer frame semi-auto handgun and some ammunition in order to be able to assist friends and loved ones in their time of need?  We need to think through these issues.  Are you a diabetic?  Do you have the insulin you need for a protracted period of time?  Are there other medications you need?

And it might not take firearm confiscation to pull off catalyzing a scenario such as this.  Mr. Obama has created an America that is as bifurcated as it has been in more than 100 years.  More than 40 million people are on food stamps.  This roll is growing at more than 11,000 per day.  We owe so many trillions in unfunded liabilities that we will never be able to meet our commitments.

Ben Bernanke, the most notorious Keynesian economist in history, has clearly said that his printing money like he was drunk will not recover employment.  Translation: Keynesian economics is failing, and I am admitting it to the Senate today.  Yet I will keep doing what I’m doing.

Even states that think they are rejecting Obamacare because of opting out of the plan aren’t really opting out.  I know these things because my daughter is a Nurse and lives in this world.  She knows that the smaller hospitals will cease to exist.  They will be driven out of business.

The larger ones will stay in business, but they will bear the brunt of the penalties.  The penalties that America doesn’t yet know about involve penalties for treating and releasing homeless people, only to have to re-admit them later, or any of a large group of things that cause the hospital to have to pay the federal government money.  Obamacare will get its way, and we will all pay the price for it even if we opt out of participation.  States have no say-so, regardless of what the talking heads are telling you.

If you think that the austerity measures in Greece caused a backlash, wait until we implement them in America.  And we will, after hyperinflation hits, price controls are put into place, the supply of goods dries up and your money is worthless.  Gangs will roam the streets looking for anything they can take, the elderly may as well have targets on their backs, and the apocalypse will be upon us.  The government won’t be able to do anything about it.  The government will have caused it.

Are you ready?  Have you thought through the salient questions?  I haven’t thought through all of them either, and we all have some soul-searching to do.

As always, everything I have said in this article has been for educational purposes only.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Western Rifle Shooters Association for the attention.  Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

Firearms Manufacturers Boycott Anti-Gun States

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

In Gun Companies Holding The States Accountable we discussed a two pronged approach to addressing the anti-gun legislation that is brewing in certain states, New York, Illinois and Colorado being three key locations. The first of the two prongs involves a refusal to sell to law enforcement when the weapons being sought are prohibited to non-law enforcement.  At the time, LaRue Tactical, Olympic Arms, Templar Custom and Extreme Firepower had enacted policies against selling to law enforcement in New York. The second prong involved the courtship of firearms manufacturers to move to more gun friendly states.  I have mentioned that Remington Arms, Rock River Arms, Springfield Armory and Kimber were prime candidates for this courtship, and I had made a special plea for Remington to relocate to South Carolina along with other firearms industries to move to the South in general. Since publication of these articles there have been other firearms manufacturers who have joined the boycott of New York law enforcement.  Joining the expanding group are the following companies.

Barrett Arms has also joined the group, issuing the following statement.

Barrett’s Position Regarding the Assault on Liberty February 20, 2013 Barrett opposes those who are illegally disarming the American public from their efficient arms and creating superior armed elitist government agencies. Elected state officials of New York, having been sworn to protect our Constitution, have instead committed an offense against it and their citizens by stripping inalienable rights duly protected and guaranteed under the Second Amendment. By their deliberate and sinister actions, these officials now cause their state and local policing agencies to enforce these unconstitutional and illegal so called “laws”. By current law, Barrett cannot be an accomplice with any lawbreaker, therefore, cannot and will not service or sell to New York government agencies. Barrett also applies this stance to the individual elected official who, as a matter of public record, has voted for or created regulation that violates the constitutional rights of their citizens. This is an expansion of our 2002 ban against the California government due to their second amendment infringements, and shall apply to any future violators.

Additionally, the states are lining up to court firearms manufacturers.  South Carolina wants Remington and is telling them so.  Magpul has threatened to leave Colorado if the law is passed prohibiting the very magazines (PMAGs) made in their factories.  Alabama is recruiting Magpul, along with Texas, and Oklahoma is in competition with South Carolina in its quest for Remington. New York Governor Cuomo has stated that “There is no shortage of responsible venders who would want to assist New York’s law enforcement agencies keep New Yorkers safe.”  Perhaps there are still those who will supply firearms and firearms parts and accessories to New York law enforcement.  Colt is still smarting from losing the M4 contract with the Army. But the list of non-participants is dwindling rapidly, and it is best for reputable firearms manufacturers to make their decision sooner rather than later.

I had previously mentioned that I had sent notes to Smith and Wesson, Rock River Arms, Remington, Glock, Sig Sauer, Springfield Armory and Kimber asking for their official position on selling to law enforcement in states that have anti-gun policies.  I have received no response from these companies. Making decisions of this kind are major events in the life of a company.  Relinquishing revenue is serious stuff, and decisions like that are usually made at the board of directors level.  On the other hand, gun companies who lead the pack are also usually rewarded in the American civilian market, and this market is far more valuable than law enforcement or even military. Pressure on these companies is appropriate, and they need to hear from you concerning the totalitarian measures being taken in anti-gun states.  Who will be the first really large firearms company to refuse to sell to these states?  Once this first domino falls, the rest will follow.

UPDATE #1: Michelle Malkin has an article up focusing mainly on manufacturing aspects of this issue, although also briefly discussing the boycott of anti-gun states.  She has good information that complements my own.

UPDATE #2: reddit/guns has the most comprehensive list of companies to date that are participating in the boycott.

LaRue Tactical 2-8-13 Head Down Products 2-20-13
Extreme Firepower Inc, LLC (Per EFI, policy is several years old) Bravo Company USA 2-20-13
Tier One Arms 1-15-13 Exile Machine 2-20-13
Olympic Arms 2-12-13 Barrett 2-20-13
One Source Tactical 2-13-13 Crusader Weaponry 2-21-13
Templar Custom 2-13-13 Top Gun Supply 2-21-13
York Arms 2-13-13 Kiss Tactical 2-21-13
Cheaper Than Dirt 2-15-13 Nemo Arms 2-21-13
Bullwater Enterprises 2-16-13 Clark Fork Tactical 2-22-13
West Fork Armory 2-16-13 Old Grouch’s Military Surplus 1-16-13
OFA Tactical 2-17-13 Big Horn Armory 2-22-13
Smith Enterprise 2-17-13 MidwayUSA 2-22-13
Alex Arms 2-17-13 CMMG 2-22-13
Trident Armory 2-17-13 Rocky Top Tactical 2-22-13
Spike’s Tactical 2-18-13 Ace Ltd. 2-20-13
Quality Arms Idaho 2-19-13 Norton Firearms 2-22-13
Liberty Suppressors 2-19-13
Doublestar Corp 2-19-13
American Spirit Arms 2-19-13
J&G Sales 2-20-13

Courtesy of NC Gun Blog and refusetosell.org.  It is still necessary for the large companies to participate.  Reddit/guns has a list of e-mail addresses to whom you can write.

UPDATE #3: David Codrea has some salient thoughts.  “I’m reminded of “Braveheart,” where the titled and propertied lairds cut their own deals with Longshanks and withdrew from the field, leaving the freedom fighters to take all the risks and suffer all the losses. It’s past time the entire industry was put on notice and then held accountable for any cowardice in this time of threat on all fronts.”

UPDATE #4: Thanks to Ron for the link at reddit/guns.

Mental Health Checks Are Not The Answer To Gun Violence

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 10 months ago

The current focus by the politicians in their quest for social and human factors solutions to gun violence appears to be two-fold.  First, there is a call for universal background checks.  Even the NRA has indicated potential approval of this approach (while there is still vacillation and equivocation within the ranks of the NRA on this issue).  While this is tempting, it won’t solve any problems, and instead it will lead to a national gun registry.

But if there is vacillation on the issue of universal background checks, there appears to be growing consistency in the call for more intrusive and comprehensive mental health checks for firearms ownership.  Progressive and conservative alike, from politician to random interviewee on the street, casting aspersions on mentally troubled people and pointing to mental health screenings as the problem and solution, respectively, is the one area of agreement.

Walter Russell Mead weighs in in the affirmative on this problem – solution coupling:

Love it or loathe it, legislative gun control is unlikely to have much impact on violence American style. But there is another door to progress: taking care of America’s mentally ill. The good people at Mother Jones recently compiled a study, revealing that of the 62 mass shootings since 1982, 38 were carried out by a person suffering from mental illness (mostly men). Most had displayed signs of paranoia, depression, and other issues with mental health well before reaching for a weapon.

While most of the gun violence in America is committed by the clinically sane, the most horrific massacres are often the work of deranged people whose problems had come to the attention of family, neighbors or work associates.

I have shared before that I have a concealed handgun permit in my county, and in order to get permitted like this, one of the requirements is to sign over authority to examine your medical records to the county Sheriff.  Any admissions to one of five or six regional hospitals for mental health or substance abuse issues would have been reason to have denied my permit.  But I have often wondered, what if I had a recorded admission for some matter in one of the above two categories?  What would that have proven?  Little to nothing, as we will see.

What about the logical contraposition?  I am in a fitness for duty program because I have unescorted access to nuclear power plants.  Does that make me mentally stable?  How about law enforcement officers, since they are in a similar kind of program?  Anecdotal cases demonstrate problems.

Reports of Metro Police Lt. Hans Walters underscore the mental health component of the current gun control debate. Walters shot and killed his wife, a former police officer, and his son and then set fire to their Boulder City home before taking his own life.

Most would agree police departments conduct exhaustive background checks, screening tests, training and safety procedures before authorizing officers to carry and deploy a number of firearms. Yet a former colleague comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Walters “didn’t seem out of the ordinary at all,” adding that “Cops are pretty intuitive. They can tell when something’s wrong with someone. He seemed totally fine.”

Beyond the anecdotal level, there are problems with diagnosis and with the very nature of psychology.  One clinician weighs in this way.

Clinicians treating patients hear their fears, anger, sadness, fantasies and hopes, in a protected space of privacy and confidentiality, which is guaranteed by federal and state laws. Mental health professionals are legally obligated to break this confidentiality when a patient “threatens violence to self or others.” But clinicians rarely report unless the threat is immediate, clear and overt.

Mental health professionals understand that, despite our intimate knowledge of the thoughts of our patients, we are not very good at predicting what people will do. Our knowledge is always incomplete and conditional, and we do not have the methods to objectively predict future behavior. Tendencies, yes; specific actions, no. To think that we can read a person’s brain the way a scanner in airport security is used to detect weapons is a gross misunderstanding of psychological science, and very far from the nuanced but uncertain grasp clinicians have on patients’ state of mind.

What about diagnoses?

If mental health professionals were required to report severe mental illness (such as paranoid schizophrenia) to state authorities, it would have an immediate chilling effect on the willingness of people to disclose sensitive information, and would discourage many people from seeking treatment. What about depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder, along with other types of mental illness that have some link to self-harm and impulsive action? The scope of disclosure that the government could legally compel might end up very wide, without any real gain in predictive accuracy.

Diagnosis is an inexact and constantly evolving effort, and it is contentious within the profession. To use a diagnosis as the basis of reporting the possibility of violence to the authorities would make the effort of accurate evaluation much more fraught. And what of the families and friends of the mentally ill? Should their weapons purchases be restricted as well? A little reflection shows how unworkable in practice any screening by diagnosis would be.

And more clinicians weigh in similarly:

“We’re not likely to catch very many potentially violent people” with laws like the one in New York, says Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology at Fordham University in The Bronx….

study of experienced psychiatrists at a major urban psychiatric facility found that they were wrong about which patients would become violent about 30 percent of the time.

That’s a much higher error rate than with most medical tests, says Alan Teo, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan and an author of the study.

One reason even experienced psychiatrists are often wrong is that there are only a few clear signs that a person with a mental illness is likely to act violently, says Steven Hoge, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. These include a history of violence and a current threat to commit violence….

The next problem is that even if the science was capable of sustaining the load that we want to place it under, it still wouldn’t have the desired effect:

Perhaps most important, although people with serious mental illness have committed a large percentage of high-profile crimes, the mentally ill represent a very small percentage of the perpetrators of violent crime overall. Researchers estimate that if mental illness could be eliminated as a factor in violent crime, the overall rate would be reduced by only 4 percent. That means 96 percent of violent crimes—defined by the FBI as murders, robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults—are committed by people without any mental-health problems at all. Solutions that focus on reducing crimes by the mentally ill will make only a small dent in the nation’s rate of gun-related murders, ranging from mass killings to shootings that claim a single victim.  It’s not just that the mentally ill represent a minority of the country’s population; it’s also that the overlap between mental illness and violent behavior is poor.

Finally, it isn’t just anecdotal evidence that calls into question the whole notion that mental health professionals can bear the weight of societal violence, or even the warnings of mental health professionals themselves.  Evidence doesn’t substantiate the current emphasis on mental health as the answer.

President Obama has called for stricter federal gun laws to combat recent shooting rampages, but a review of recent state laws by The Washington Times shows no discernible correlation between stricter rules and lower gun-crime rates in the states.

States that ranked high in terms of making records available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System also tended to have tighter gun laws — but their gun-crime rates ranged widely. The same was true for states that ranked poorly on disclosure and were deemed to have much less stringent gun-possession laws.

For example, New York, even before it approved the strictest gun-control measures in the country last week, was ranked fourth among the states in strength of gun laws by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, but was also in the top 10 in firearm homicide rates in 2011, according to the FBI.

Meanwhile, North Dakota was near the bottom in its firearm homicide, firearm robbery and firearm assault rates, but also had some of the loosest gun laws and worst compliance with turning over mental health records to the background check system.

[ ... ]

The Times analysis looked at the Brady Campaign’s rankings for strength of each state’s gun laws and at Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ rankings for how states perform in disclosing mental health data to the background check system. That information was then matched against the FBI’s 2011 gun-crime rankings for homicides, robberies and assaults.

The results showed no correlation among the strength of laws and disclosure and the crime rates.

For example, Maryland and New Jersey — both of them populous states with large metropolitan areas — have tight gun laws but poor mental health disclosure. But New Jersey’s gun-crime rate was in the middle of the pack, while Maryland ranked sixth-highest in homicides involving guns and second-highest in robberies with guns.

Delaware and Virginia, which both ranked high in mental health disclosure and ranked 18th and 19th in the Brady tally of tough gun laws, also had divergent crime rates.

Delaware ranked among the top 10 in number of gun robberies and gun assaults, while Virginia was in the middle of the pack on its measures.

My own view is somewhat more pedestrian and pragmatic.  New programs to empower the government rarely avoid abuse, and man’s evil propensities always tend towards totalitarianism and excessive control.  The innocent who get swept up in the mental health screenings and refused means of self defense will be considered the price to pay for government control.  With the right administration, simply wanting means of self defense will be justifiable cause for denying such.

With so little good that can come from this emphasis, coupled with such a large chance for abuse, mental health isn’t the answer that the politicians tout it to be.  As I have previously noted, the common element in the high profile gun violence cases (theater, schools, churches and malls) is that they’re all gun free zones.  Glenn Reynolds points out that this causes a false sense of security.  “Policies making areas “gun free” provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking, but in practice, of course, killers aren’t stopped by gun-free zones. As always, it’s the honest people — the very ones you want to be armed — who tend to obey the law.”

This is, as it were, the low hanging fruit.  Tackle the easy things and leave the questionable ones behind.

Prior Featured:

What To Expect On Gun Control In The Coming Months

The War To Disarm America

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

U.N. Arms Treaty: Dreams Of International Gun Control

What To Expect On Gun Control In The Coming Months

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

We’ve discussed it many times, this proposed extended and expanded assault weapons ban proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein.  The new legislation may fail, but the White House has it’s own front in this war on firearms.  But their own propaganda betrays a serious weakness in their approach.

The White House is also developing strategies to navigate the rocky and emotionally fraught terrain of gun politics once final policy decisions are made. The administration is quietly talking with a diverse array of interest groups, including religious leaders, mental-health professionals and hunters, to build as broad a coalition as possible, those involved in the discussions said.

The president is expected to face fierce opposition from the NRA and its allies in Congress, including most Republicans and some Democrats.

But Biden signaled to those involved in the policy discussions that the White House is not afraid of taking on the NRA, the nation’s largest gun rights group. At the Dec. 20 meeting, according to Stanek, when one law enforcement leader suggested focusing on only the most popular proposals, Biden responded: “Look, what I’m asking you for is your candid opinion and ideas about extreme gun violence. Leave the politics to the president. That’s our job with Congress.”

They want to turn hunters against the NRA and modern sporting rifles.  Fat chance.  That didn’t work out so well for David Petzal or Jerry Tsai.  Their plans to divide and conquer the NRA will meet with disastrous results.  Every minute spent on such a tactic is wasted, and thus we have to hope that they expend a lot of energy on it.

But the later part of the strategy, i.e., politics, is far more fearsome and they have proven very adept at that approach.  Gun Owners of American (h/t Mike Vanderboegh) gives us an inside baseball look at the current tactics.  In summary, John McCain is working against gun owners by pressing (along with the Democrats) for a rule change that would essentially be a work-around of the filibuster rule.  Lindsey Graham has vowed to vote against new gun control measures, but since he is McCain’s lap dog, he may be looking for cover as he works silently behind the scenes to assist in Feinstein’s plans.  Joe Manchin has backed off of his public calls for new gun control measures, but he may be playing the same game as McCain and Graham.

Currently in the Senate, Rand Paul is the only immovable champion of second amendment rights.  If new laws pass the Senate, they must also pass the House before going to the President’s desk.  It isn’t clear what the House will do.  If history is any indication, they are in a weakened state, and lack any backbone anyway.

However, the Republicans stand warned.  If – controlling the House of Representatives – they allow new gun control measures to pass to the President’s desk, the GOP will cease to exists as a viable political party.  Voters are having difficulty finding differences between them and the Democrats anyway.  Caving on gun control would seal the fate of the GOP as a historical relic rather than a future possibility.

If new gun control measures don’t pass the Senate and House, the game is far from over.  The Obama administration is investigating the possibility of executive orders reclassifying semi-automatic firearms as title 2 weapons, thus doing by fiat what the legislative branch rejected.  The fight will continue, just in a different locale than the Senate and House.

Finally, if new gun control measures pass to the President’s desk (in which case he will surely sign the measures into law), it means more than just new background checks.  All semi-automatic firearms will be taxed, required to be submitted to the ATF for approval, controlled from crossing state lines, and prohibited from being bequeathed to your children or grandchildren in your wills.  Violation of any of these rules will turn you into an instant felon.  Of course, this would mean a resistance for which America isn’t prepared.

Karl Denninger writes:

It is time for We The People to take a stand, as did John Hancock, Richard Stockton, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Penn, Arthur Middleton and others.

Your right to life is not bestowed by government. Your right to liberty is not bestowed by government. Government never possessed those rights and you cannot bestow what you do not first lawfully possess.

You right to life and liberty were bestowed by your creator. Those rights inure to each and every one of us by virtue of being human. And here’s the point which many of you wish not to discuss:

A right without the ability and willingness to defend it is no right at all.”

Bob Owens writes:

“The Second Amendment of the United States was never written to protect hunting or target shooting. It was written by men who had just fought a successful armed revolution against the most advanced military of their day, and who wanted to ensure that future generations would be armed with weapons of contemporary military utility in order to stand against the day that once more, tyrants would attempt to consolidate power and lord over the people as their betters.

“Any attempt to take the contemporary arms of military utility our Founders wanted us to have, which includes the standard magazines and clips used in these firearms, is an act of tyranny that the Founders would recognize as an event justifying the use of force to retain our freedoms.”

“Tread carefully.”

Brandon Smith writes:

“There is no ambiguous or muddled separation between the citizenry and the government anymore. The separation is absolute. It is undeniable. It is vast. It is only a matter of time and momentum, and eventually there will be unbridled oppression, dissent, and conflict. All that is required is a trigger, and I believe that trigger has arrived…”

Mike Hendrix writes:

“This is a society preparing for war,” writes Bob Owens.

“Reluctantly, almost unwillingly, it should be noted. But the sad truth is, war is already being made upon it, and has been for a long time now. Said society has been more than patient, more than tolerant. But eventually, enough is enough. Everyone has their limit; freedom-loving Americans’ has very nearly been reached. A few more steps over the line, and the kettle is going to boil over.”

“Any liberal-fascists who think we’re all going to go gently into that good night really, really need to reconsider. We all have to hope they do. But we all have to be prepared for the possibility, the likelihood, that they mightn’t. “This far, no further” is more than just an empty slogan.”

“Gird your loins.”

Alan Halbert writes:

“We are in far more danger from these actions of our own government than from another Sandy Hook atrocity by a crazed killer.”

“The Second Amendment’s purpose is to provide for the citizens’ defense from all who would deny their natural God- given right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” against a criminal, a foreign or domestic enemy, or our own government. We will witness the end of the Republic if this proposed legislation is passed, since all of our rights flow from the citizen’s ability to defend them.”

“As for this citizen, I will never disarm or surrender my Second Amendment rights, much less willingly comply with such a traitorous act of Congress if enacted… it is actions like these that light revolutionary fervor in a nation and its citizens. It did so in 1776 and it will do so again.”

John Jay writes:

“…when it is done, and the regime defeated, no one will talk about what he did in the war. It shall have been terrible, and brutal. Executions, murders, assassinations and the inevitable collateral damage shall be the issue of the day. This is the price that those who attempt to impose a totalitarian regime in the America’s shall face. Many of us will die, and some shall become iconic photos hanging from lamp posts, stripped naked and hoisted by their ankles, as final witness and testimony to their arrogance.”

“Those who seek to take our weapons trifle with history, heritage and firmly held belief. It should be remembered, those of us who believe this way are god fearing, and shall invoke and beseech our God for support. We have a religious underpinning and faith that shall carry us through this, as opposed to those who seek to suppress us. They have nothing but naked ambition to sustain them.”

“Do Obama, Pelosi, and Feinstein have the stomach for this sort of conflict? Are they willing to initiate, in order to try and gain the rule they aspire to? We shall find out.”

Western Rifle Shooter’s Association writes:

“Understand that once the ball opens, there will be no stopping the righteous fury of viciously-indignant Americans, especially once the 2013 versions of Waco and Ruby Ridge are re-enacted by Regime loyalists across the nation.”

“No one associated with the Federal government or its mutant-twin ruling parties will be safe.”

“Especially once the guys with the scoped hunting rifles come in.”

Mike Vanderboegh writes that there would be a revolution if the government confiscates weapons, and Herschel Smith warns that there will be resistance and writes that the resistance won’t be “the peaceful kind.”  If it goes to the point of forcible implementation of the proposed legislation, it will be awful, bloody, violent and extreme.  Right now we don’t know for certain what will happen in Washington.  But depending upon that outcome, what will happen all across America has been written.  1.6 billion rounds of handgun ammunition won’t be nearly enough for the government.

You’ve been warned.

UPDATE: “Class II” has been changed to “Title II.”  I appreciate Glenn’s attention to this article.  Also, David Codrea gives a link.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to John Richardson for the attention.

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Mike Vanderboegh for the attention.

The War To Disarm America

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 12 months ago

There is a crescendo in incivility, with gun owners being called everything from stone age vigilantes to tinfoil hat Bircher NRA peckerwood with a long gun.  This is the social media equivalent of the posturing over guns that is occurring on the political scene, but it matters because it emboldens the politicians.

Democratic Senators are threatening a new “assault weapons” ban, something openly pursued by Senator Feinstein immediately after the election.  But in addition to the known anti-firearms politicians, the movement has gained supporters from the ranks of those whom we all knew were anti-firearm, but who persuaded the electorate otherwise.

A growing number of lawmakers – including a leading pro-gun senator – called on Monday for a look at curbing assault weapons like the one used in a massacre at a Connecticut grade school, a sign that attitudes toward gun control could be shifting.

Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from the gun industry, said Congress and weapons makers should come together on a “sensible, reasonable approach” to curbing rifles like the one used in the killings Friday of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

A hunter and member of the National Rifle Association, Manchin said the availability of such high-powered weapons does not make sense and called on the gun lobby group to cooperate with a reform of the nation’s gun laws.

A 10-year U.S. ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.

“We’ve got to sit down. I ask all my friends at NRA – and I’m a proud NRA member and always have been – we need to sit down and move this dialogue to a sensible, reasonable approach to fixing it,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

“Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. This never happened in America, that I can recall, ever seeing this kind of carnage,” said Manchin, an avid hunter who once ran a campaign ad showing him firing a rifle at an environmental bill. “This has changed where we go from here.”

Historical scholarship may not be his strong suit.  In 1927, Andrew Kehoe used explosives to attack a local school in Bath, Michigan, apparently being disgruntled over paying higher taxes to fund that school.  Thirty eight children were killed, with one family losing three.  Nearly every family in the town of 300 lost a child.

The only gun Kehoe carried was used to light one of the explosive charges.  The only weapon used by Timothy McVeigh was explosives.  But the point is not to show that it can be worse.  Those poor souls who search for answers in guns, mental illness, and societal problems will search in vain.  The problem is evil, and it is one of the oldest philosophical issues known to man.

The proximate answer for those who would perpetrate violence on you or your loved ones is to respond by stopping them.  Shopping malls, schools, public buildings, parades and other activities and places are often “gun free zones.”  This means that only the criminals have guns, and thus they are unimpeded in their nefarious aims.

The Connecticut shooter, as I pointed out, could have perpetrated his evil acts with single action revolvers and bolt action rifles if he had desired.  No one could stop him, and that’s the problem.  No one could have stopped the criminals who attacked Mr. Bayezes and his wife without the use of a rifle that will be illegal under the Ms. Feinstein’s proposed ban, along with a 30-round magazine.  He emptied one magazine and retreated to find another.

Mr. Bayezes did what what we all should have done, for we all have a moral duty to defend self and family.  Sacrificing the best home defense weapon because someone may use it to perpetrate acts of evil is like being forced to return to horse and buggies because there are 40,000 vehicle accidents every year.

But along with the factual silliness of being worked up over fully automatic weapons (which were not used) and other misdirects, there are nonetheless very clear plans being deployed for sweeping bans.  The Democratic Senators want it, Obama has said that he wants it, and communist China agrees.  The voters in West Virginia who thought they were voting for a conservative or defender of the second amendment got hoodwinked.  Manchin has declared that he is no defender of the second amendment, and the Democrats are getting their support lined up.

The proposed ban may not end with guns.  Token conservative David Brooks has floated the idea of an ammunition ban.  No doubt the Democrats have included this in their plans, but it must make them feel confident to see a “conservative” agree with them.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that you can buy them now while they’re legal and keep them.  Feinstein has made it clear there will be no grandfather clause in her version of gun control.  Besides, grandfather clauses are problematic anyway.  The federal government may not need to enact confiscatory policies immediately.

For example, they may make all or some of our weapons illegal, along with their high capacity magazines, and then empower gun ranges, local law enforcement officers, and gunsmiths to confiscate any illegal component they find, while they also call the ATF.  You may end up in a federal penitentiary if you take your firearms to the range or use them in self defense.

Make no mistake about it.  There is a war on guns and ammunition.  It wasn’t stated by advocates of the second amendment, but it has landed squarely in our laps.  Obama will never have more power than he does now, right after the election, still controlling the Senate, and right after a horrible event such as in Connecticut.

Gird your loins and prepare for the battle if you care about the second amendment and your rights under the constitution and God.  Now is not the time to be weak, weary or squeamish.  In many ways the progressives and statists have been waging this war for years, while many second amendment advocates have sat on the sideline.  It’s time for everyone to play in the game.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

Prior:

The Wrong Way To Argue About Assault Weapons

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

No One Needs ARs For Self Defense Or Hunting?

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

Dreams Of International Gun Control

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

Christians are redeemed, but they can be hypocritical and self serving.  They aren’t perfect.  Furthermore, while Christians can be (though they are not always) sweet and loving, they have always impressed me as perhaps the most pitiful, naive, stolid simpletons on the planet.  Sheep is a perfect description.

I can say those things because I am a Christian, and not in the sense of ”God is love let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya while we sway and dance ourselves into ethereal bliss,” but in the orthodox sense (e.g., belief in the trinity, the vicarious atonement, the deity of Christ, etc.).  God is love alright, but as professor John Frame discusses, to say that that’s all He is amounts to an exclusive reduction.  It’s wrong.  It’s acceptable to emphasize one attribute for pedagogical purposes, but not to define God.  God is a lot of things besides love, like justice, righteousness, jealously, and so on.  Also, I do not accept the hemeneutical and other pronouncements of the 19th and 20th century form, source and redaction critics any more than I accept the kumbaya movement.  They are equally vapid and vacuous, and not deserving of my time.

One sheep-like attribute of Christians is the tendency to be pacifist both nationally and individually.  Don’t be fooled about the magnitude of the problem.  It’s sweeping, comprehensive and ubiquitous throughout the Christian community.  Thus, the second amendment to many Christians who haven’t thought about it a great deal seems to be some sort of “last resort, sin if you must, it’s better to perish like Christ” acquiescence than it is a right, privilege or duty.

To heighten the problem further, these people vote.  They’re well intentioned, just ignorant.  You cannot go more than a few days without yet another strained attempt to deal with the issue of violence in America from a “Christian” perspective on the pages of publications both Christian and secular.  A number of examples are provided below.

Christian Panelists On “Assault Weapons”

Military personnel and members of police and guard units have needs that do not apply to individual citizens. The basic issue for our culture regarding gun-ownership is why do we want to own them? Does any individual citizen need an ‘assault weapon’ for hunting, recreational target practice or even for self-defense?”

[ ... ]

The commandment not to kill seems to be nearly universal. But the right to defend oneself from violence is equally attested. We see this mirrored in the ‘just war’ theory that began in late pagan Christendom and was codified by Thomas Aquinas during the 13th century. Among the conditions defining a ‘just war’ (according to current Roman Catholic teaching): ‘the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.’

All this is a means to say that unless a person has reasonable evidence that the evil being answered is equally armed, assault weapons have no moral excuse. To justify owning an operative assault weapon (leaving aside inoperative ones collected as one collects cancelled stamps) a person must be able to prove to a third party that someone or something else really is a threat to him and that deterring such threat requires force of that size. While there may be exceptional cases that could qualify, they are so few as to prove the rule that ‘assault weapons’ are not ethically defensible in civil society.”

[ ... ]

The opinions we express should not be taken to mean that we believe a ban on so-called “assault weapons” is Constitutional, but only that we believe “assault weapons” should not be as widely available as hunting rifles or regular handguns.

Are we as a society more safe or less safe with legal access to “assault weapons?” Do we have an ethical responsibility to advocate for changes in law necessary to ban the widespread sale of “assault weapons?”

A Pastor On Guns In Places Of Worship

This week’s column is offered as a public service to readers who intend to pack your pistol to next week’s worship service at the mosque, synagogue or church. Leave your firearms at home, in the gun rack of the pickup truck or check them at the door with the ushers. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 20, 2012, upheld a 2010 Georgia law forbidding firearms in the Lord’s house. I don’t know whether the law allows one to carry a rifle to a church sponsored hayride or bring a shotgun into a one of those wedding ceremonies that take place because of certain unplanned conditions, but at least houses of worship must legally remain free of firearms.

#This decision will not be universally welcomed, of course. In fact, the lawsuit challenging the legality of the law was filed by The Reverend Jonathon Wilkins, pastor of Baptist Tabernacle in Thomaston, in cooperation with GeorgiaCarry.org. These groups unsuccessfully argued that citizens have the right to carry registered firearms into places of worship. The Baptist Tabernacle had sued to allow its ushers and greeters to be armed, just in case something horrible happens in Upson County, GA, hardly a locale with a history of violent crime.

#Having been in a few tense board meetings over the decades I, for one, am grateful that the court ruled against these souls who — by a huge leap of illogic — cited Jesus’ obscure advice (Luke 22:36) about purchasing a sword as commanding the followers of Jesus to purchase guns and carry them to church. That’s a bizarre line of reasoning, to be sure; one might suggest that were we to take Jesus literally we would each purchase not a gun, but a sword, which, as far as I know, may still be legal to carry to church.

A Christian Who Will Never Own A Gun

I first begin with my place in the greater community. I choose not to own a gun and provide an opportunity for the violence that so often accompanies guns because this is how I would hope others would be in the world. Yes, many will label me a fool and accuse me of creating an atmosphere of inviting gun violence into my life, but when it comes to faith, my actions, while defying logic to many in the world, is an expression of my deep commitment to God.

[ ... ]

Secondly, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus give us permission to solve our problems, respond to aggression or even defend ourselves with violence. In word and in deed, we are often called to fight injustice and violence with words and actions that are distinctly NOT violent, even in self-defense. Turning the other cheek, defending with a sword, stoning of the prostitute, etc, Jesus reminds us of other powerful ways to respond to those who would chose to goad us into violent conflict. Yes, we do those things out of self-survival and self-defense, and justified by society or not, viewed through a lens of the Christian faith violence of any kind cannot be justified.

And finally, another Christian who argues in a similar vein.

Whether anyone else does or not, Christians should forsake that myth for the biblical story of the way of the suffering lamb. For me, one aspect of seeking to live that story rather than the myth of redemptive violence is choosing not to exercise my constitutional right to own a gun, while recognizing that many other Christians—among them some of my closest friends—have well-considered reasons for making other choices.

It could be argued that by choosing not to arm myself, I am leaving my family vulnerable to harm. I’m actually more worried about how our young son might be harmed by a weapon in our home, no matter how carefully stored, and about how he might be harmed in the homes of friends whose parents have decided to have guns, even when they have taken every precaution.

Even if our son were not physically harmed by a weapon kept in our home, my own conviction is that simply owning a weapon and keeping it in our home would do spiritual harm to him by reinforcing the myth of redemptive violence. The world is going to try its hardest to teach him the latter story; I’m going to try my best to teach him another one.

Analysis & Commentary

There are some factual errors mixed in with the emotional prose.  For one thing, the pastor has wrongly portrayed the recent 11th Circuit decision on guns in Georgia churches.  The case had to do with guns being potentially prohibited in churches that were adjoined by schools (carry in schools is prohibited), and “given that the facial challenge to the law would succeed only if it’s valid in all its applications, the Eleventh Circuit responds by pointing to a valid application – when the management prohibits carrying.  What effect the law may constitutionally have when the management allows carrying isn’t resolved by the Eleventh Circuit opinion” (I am indebted to Professor Eugene Volokh for this assessment).  I still believe that ”in addressing (under the rubric of the second amendment) the issue of whether weapons may be carried on private property where there is a policy against it, the court has erected and knocked down a straw man.”  In any case, the solution to this problem should involve clearer law-making by the Georgia legislature.

As for the emotional opinions on “assault weapons,” these are based on non-factual and arbitrary definitions of things that should scare all good people, or so they see it.  As we’ve discussed on the pages of TCJ, these objections just don’t bear up under scrutiny.  The better the weapon, the better the chance of proper defense of self and loved ones.  As for gun safety and the culture of violence that we are supposed to be nurturing, these are also irrelevant misdirects.  Gun safety is a choice, and ownership of a weapon doesn’t change the heart of man.  Last, as for the use of just war theory to argue against assault weapons for personal use (i.e., proportionate force), I confess that I have never seen such a silly, trivial, strained analysis before.  My judgment is that we’re justified in ignoring it entirely as an inconsequential contribution to the conversation.  While it might be an interesting thought experiment to use the moral judgments of just war theory to inform our understanding of other things, technically speaking, it conflates categories to invoke this doctrine into the issues of personal defense.  Furthermore, as we move from the issues of personal defense to national defense below, I am more an advocate of good war doctrine (see Darrell Cole at First Things) than of just war doctrine, which I think is dated and badly in need of repair work.

But aside from the factual misdirects, emotion and misunderstanding, common elements in these arguments are this way is morally superior, this way is better because I’m following the example of the suffering servant, Christ forsook all violence and we are to be like Him, all violence is frowned upon by God, think of the damage that we are doing to our children sort of appeal to broad, pacifist love and “kumbaya” acceptance, as well as the naive belief that this attitude is an effective way to address societal evil even if it isn’t effective for instances of individual threat.

I want to address these arguments in three headings.

Historical And Constitutional Perspective

In the “The Right To Keep And Bear Arms Report,” Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, the subcommittee observed that:

In the colonies, availability of hunting and need for defense led to armament statues comparable to those of the early Saxon times. In 1623, Virginia forbade its colonists to travel unless they were “well armed”; in 1631 it required colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to “bring their peeces to church.” In 1658 it required every householder to have a functioning firearm within his house and in 1673 its laws provided that a citizen who claimed he was too poor to purchase a firearm would have one purchased for him by the government, which would then require him to pay a reasonable price when able to do so. In Massachusetts, the first session of the legislature ordered that not only freemen, but also indentured servants own firearms and in 1644 it imposed a stern 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed.

When the British government began to increase its military presence in the colonies in the mid-eighteenth century, Massachusetts responded by calling upon its citizens to arm themselves in defense. One colonial newspaper argued that it was impossible to complain that this act was illegal since they were “British subjects, to whom the privilege of possessing arms is expressly recognized by the Bill of Rights” while another argued that this “is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defense”. The newspaper cited Blackstone’s commentaries on the laws of England, which had listed the “having and using arms for self preservation and defense” among the “absolute rights of individuals.” The colonists felt they had an absolute right at common law to own firearms.

Not only were families required to expend hard earned wealth to procure weapons, the men were required to bring them to worship and use Sunday for range time to practice their marksmanship.  Ownership of weapons was seen not just as a practical matter, but a moral matter because of the implications on defense of the family and country.  The colonists, who were certainly more orthodox than present day Christians, saw no call for pacifism within Biblical law or the examples of Christ.  On the contrary, in order properly to follow Him, ownership of weapons was a necessity.  Moreover, as David Kopel observes, from the earliest times in the founding of our country, even the Puritans enjoyed firearms.

Their laws about children and guns were strict: every family was required to own a gun, to carry it in public places (especially when going to church) and to train children in firearms proficiency. On the first Thanksgiving Day, in 1621, the colonists and the Indians joined together for target practice; the colonist Edward Winslow wrote back to England that “amongst other recreations we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us.”

There are always caveats, stipulations and complications when it comes to interpreting and applying the constitution.  But a plain reading of the text requires that if our understanding contradicts the fundamental exigencies and vicissitudes of life as it existed in the colonial times that hatched the constitution, then our understanding is in need of modification.  Weapons were ubiquitous in the colonies for sporting and recreation, protection against animals, protection against people and protection against governmental tyranny (“The British never lost sight of the fact that without their gun control program, they could never control America”).  Each was in its own way a threat to the safety and health of strong families.

Examination of the Biblical Data

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism Question / Answer 136, states the following: “The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life …”

For Scripture proof concerning the instance of self defense, it cites Exodus 22:2-3.  While seemingly straight forward, there are demurrals.

A little thought reveals that this passage is not saying that self-defense is good, but that it is bad. If a thief breaks into your house and you kill him in “self-defense,” you are to be put to death! Your blood must be shed to cleanse the land of the murder of the thief (Numbers 35:33). Now, granted, if it is night, and your injuries to the thief cause him to die, you will not be executed. “I’m letting you off this time,” the Lord seems to be saying; but only if it is at night (cp. Romans 13:12).

Pitiful interpretation, this is.  God is thus placed in the role of saying, “Oh, alright, I don’t like it, but I’ll let it slide this time if only you’re really sorry about it.”  This is a completely anthropomorphized God, with essentially nothing left of His character.  Only trite men see the Scriptures that way.

There is a better way.

Several times now, I have read the words of Christians who interpret Exodus 22:2-3 to mean that defending oneself using lethal force when one’s home was invaded was forbidden under Old Testament Law, at least during the daytime. If only one had done it, my inclination would be to blow it off. But since this interpretation is apparently widespread, I feel I need to answer it.

This interpretation relies on a twisting of Scripture in order to promote a preconceived pacifism, and I here attempt to rebut it.

What does Scripture say? In Young’s Literal Translation, the passage reads:

2`If in the breaking through, the thief is found, and he hath been smitten, and hath died, there is no blood for him;

3 if the sun hath risen upon him, blood [is] for him, he doth certainly repay; if he have nothing, then he hath been sold for his theft;

This is rather hard to understand. What is ‘the breaking through?’ Perhaps the New King James Version will be somewhat clearer.

2 If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

Aha! Now this is comprehensible. I like Young and rely heavily on him myself, but even I had trouble making sense of what he said there. Now, what does this mean? Well, first let us note that there are two contrasting scenarios. In the first, the thief ‘is found breaking in’. In the second, ‘the sun has risen on him’.

Those who take the view I here attempt to debunk interpret ‘the sun has risen on him’ to mean that the break-in took place during the daytime. Thus ‘found breaking in’ must mean the break-in happened at night. This obviously makes no sense. Why should the fact that he was found breaking in lead us to think it was happening at night? Why would the passage be written in such a confusing way? ‘If he breaks in, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed, but if he breaks in during the day, there shall’. This is nonsense.

The more reasonable interpretation would be as follows:

The assumption, first of all, is that the thief probably broke in at night. Thus, if he is caught while breaking in and the owner of the house defends himself, killing the thief, he is not guilty of murder. If, however, the thief escapes, and is found later, presumably after the sun has risen again, and he then is killed, this is murder.

In other words, the Law is saying that lethal self-defense is allowed, but we are not to hunt down thieves and kill them; larceny is not a capital crime. The sun having risen cannot be taken in a rigidly literal sense; it indicates the thief being found at some later time, rather than while he was breaking in as in the first scenario.

This is a much better exegesis and it doesn’t do damage to the consistency of Scripture.

Of course, Christ himself commanded His disciples to go sell their robes (if necessary) and buy swords for their self defense (Luke 22:26).  I reject interpretations of this passage as metaphorical, pointing to their upcoming persecution and difficulty.  That is contrary to the plain reading of the Scriptures.

But in any case, Jesus didn’t have to repeat the Old Testament commandments in order for them to be valid.  I also do not follow the dispensationalist theological model, and thus there is no hermeneutic principle that requires such reiteration.  As stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the O.T. moral law is valid, along with the “general equity” of the case law (19.4, even if not the specifics or the sacrificial law).

And in this line of thought, the best case for the necessity of self defense comes straight from the Decalogue.  John Calvin, commenting on commandment and prohibition, observes:

We do not need to prove that when a good thing is commanded, the evil thing that conflicts with it is forbidden.  There is no one who doesn’t concede this.  That the opposite duties are enjoined when evil things are forbidden will also be willingly admitted in common judgment.  Indeed, it is commonplace that when virtues are commended, their opposing vices are condemned.  But we demand something more than what these phrases commonly signify.  For by the virtue of contrary to the vice, men usually mean abstinence from that vice.  We say that the virtue goes beyond this to contrary duties and deeds.  Therefore in this commandment, “You shall not kill,” men’s common sense will see only that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbor’s life all the help we can … the purpose of the commandment always discloses to us whatever it there enjoins or forbids us to do” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chapter viii, Part 9).

Matthew Henry observes the same concerning Proverbs 24:11-12 (“If we see the lives or livelihoods of any in danger of being taken away unjustly, we ought to bestir ourselves all we can do to save them …”).  Far from a weak or forced case for self defense, this is one of the strongest in the Scriptures.  Thou shalt not kill means that thou shalt not allow yourself or those around you to be killed, thus says the Lord.  It isn’t an option – it is His commandment.

The Right and Duty to Bear Arms

In yet another anti-gun editorial, an ad hoc group of “clergy” weighs in against firearms under the rubric of respect for the sanctity of life.  One commenter remarks:

Because I am a person of good conscience and believe in the sanctity of human life, I carry a gun with me every day. You have stood in line next to me at the grocery store while my pistol was secured out of sight in my holster. I have sat in your pews locked and loaded. the world did not come to an end. I don’t shoot for sport and I’ve never hunted. I carry a gun to defend myself, my family, and others incapable of defending themselves, again, because I value human life. Pastors, of all people, should recognize that forces of good and evil exist in this world and should support the efforts of those who resist evil.

I too have carried at worship.  But concerning these “forces of good and evil,” it’s more than that.  Jeremiah (17:9) says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”  From the heart flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23), and Christ adds that man does and speaks what is in his heart (Luke 6:45, see also Matthew 15:18).  Denial of original sin might be theologically comfortable, but comfort gives way to reality when it pertains to defense of the family.  There aren’t just “forces.”  There are men with evil hearts who would perpetrate evil against you and your family.  Individual actions can be used by God to change men, but whether God may choose to work doesn’t change in the slightest His expectations concerning provision of security for loved ones.  Certainly, the warnings and stipulations of 1 Timothy 5:8 don’t stop with beans and bread.

One of the reformers, Theodore Beza, remarked concerning both highway robbers and tyrants, that ”Hence it comes about that the man who meets with highway robbers, by whom no one is murdered without the consent of the will of God, has the power in accordance with the authority of the laws to resist them in just self-defense which incurs no blame because no one forsooth has (received) a special command from God that he meekly allow himself to be slain by robbers. Our conviction is entirely the same about that regular defense against tyrants.”

To the contrary, God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers.

Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.  Finally, self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of human love. Christ Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:14).

UPDATE #1: David Codrea wisely remarks:

It’s not an easy subject to tackle.

I’ve always been kind of partial to this 1747 Philadelphia sermon, cited in the above:

He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one who has no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God has enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend [it]self.

Thanks David.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Gun Watch for the attention!

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Maggie’s Farm and Free Republic for the attention!

UPDATE #4: Calguns discussion thread.

Prior:

Save The Planet – Buy An AR!

Happy Assault Weapons Ban Sunset Provision Day!

No One Needs ARs for Self Defense Or Hunting?

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?


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