School Violence: Causes and The Impact of Uniforms

“Every year, 3 million young people in the United States fall victim to crimes at school. Almost 2 million of these incidents involve violence.”1 As early as the 1950’s and 1960’s, the idea of school uniforms was batted around as a possible solution to “juvenile delinquency” in public schools.2 In the late 1980’s, uniforms began to gain momentum as a way to stem violence in school as designer clothing gave students a reason to attack each other. Almost weekly, late night news reports aired stories about students being beaten for their name brand Nike shoes or Gucci leather jackets and purses. Parents and educators increased their demands for uniforms during the 90’s as gang violence became more institutional and widespread.

Fifty years ago our children were extremely limited in how they could dress in the school house. Teachers and parents were very concerned and proactive in ensuring that students were appropriately dressed for their education. Our fathers’ generation required males to cut their hair so that it did not touch the collars of their shirts. Boys wore shirts that prevented them from flaunting their muscles. No one knew what kind of underwear the boys were wearing unless they were seen changing into their gym clothes in the locker room. Girls’ skirts could not be any shorter than their knees. They rarely wore dresses and never allowed their cleavage to be displayed for public consumption. Tight, form-fitted clothing was taboo. It was much more conservative and, as a result, school violence was virtually non-existent.6

Today’s children are free to choose just about anything they want to wear to school. It’s not uncommon to see boys and girls with exotically colored hair, multiple body piercings, and heavy makeup. Clothing defines the individual. Along with the continuing relaxation of clothing standards, schools are increasingly expected to take greater roles in educating and raising our children. Parents are moving away from their responsibilities in raising children that will respect authority.

In 1996, President William J. Clinton challenged schools to teach more “character education” in their classrooms. He also made the issue of uniforms a specific Presidential issue. “…if it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms,” Clinton said during his State of the Union address.3 Presidents don’t normally speak in terms so precise during these addresses. Rather, they tend to use broad generalities when addressing the nation.

Our children are under more pressure to wear brand name clothing now than ever before. Clothing has become a central issue in schools whether we want to believe it or not. As the years go on, more and more advertisements targeting children have attempted to convince them that they need designer clothing. As a matter of fact, based upon personal observation there are fewer commercials and ads for school supplies than school clothing. With celebrity role models increasingly touting their personal lines of clothing, the trend will likely continue.

The reasons both for and against uniforms are about as varied as the number of schools themselves. Some claim that uniforms will improve student behavior. Some claim that uniforms violate students’ First Amendment rights to free speech and expression. Yet others claim that uniforms stifle individuality and are meant to be another form of control, while some believe that uniforms will foster more individuality and creativity in finding ways to stand out.

In Prince George’s County, Maryland alone, one hundred thirty-one schools have reverted to a mandatory school uniform policy with another seven schools adopting a “voluntary” program of school uniforms. At a recent Board of Education meeting to discuss various issues affecting schools, the topic of uniforms was at the forefront. Debate was very heated and seemed to be divided along adult and student lines. Students spoke out against uniforms almost unanimously, while parents and teachers were mostly in favor of it. There were, however, some parents who were strongly against uniforms. The main reasons for their disapproval of uniforms were that it takes away their child’s individuality and will cost them too much money.

School uniforms are not unique to the United States. I grew up as a Navy brat and attended school in many states and countries. I attended school in Japan for four years where you can’t find a school that didn’t have uniforms. Possibly as a result, Japan enjoys one of the lowest school violence levels in the world. In the UK, uniforms have been a part of school life for more than a century. Lately, strong debate has convinced some schools to abandon their school uniform policies.

Uniforms tend to cost more than normal clothing would cost. This price increase in school clothing affects families differently depending on their social status and tends to sway some parents against supporting the issue. Here in Maryland, uniforms tend to be expensive. Using the baseline of a shirt, slacks, and shoes I compared how much it would cost on average to purchase these items at a department store versus the local uniform outfitter. The average price of one day’s non-uniform clothing from a department store is $72 for a white shirt, slacks and shoes. The same white shirt, slacks and shoes for a school uniform would cost $98 if purchased at a specialty uniform outlet.

Violence in schools was largely hidden from the public conscious as a serious issue until the Columbine, Colorado school shooting in 1999. Since then, adolescents have committed copycat shootings and similar violence all over America. School violence isn’t something that most students will ever have to deal with personally. Of the 48 students from eight different schools in my local area, only seven had personally been involved in some sort of in school or near school violence. Oddly enough, this is directly in line with a 1999 study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which concluded that 14% of students had been involved in a fight.4

As the number of schools requiring uniforms has increased, the instances of violence in schools have decreased. Unfortunately, no one has yet to make a direct connection between the two. According to the US Department of Education, violence in schools has been cut in half since 1992. In 2005, the latest year figures are available, violence was at its lowest level in the past 13 years.5 The report states that only 8% of students reported being bullied in school.

Professional opinions run the gamut about the causes of this reduction in school violence. Some credit more student involvement and character training that every US school must include in its curriculum. Others believe that more law enforcement presence in the schools is the cause. When I asked 15 teachers if they thought that uniforms deserved the praise for a decrease in violence in their school, 9 told me yes, while only 5 said no. The remaining teacher wasn’t sure. I also spoke with parents and asked for their opinions on this issue. Of the 22 parents I spoke with, 16 told me that uniforms were the answer to this problem. They believe that violence can only be beaten through education at school and in the home.

Schools with high instances of parental involvement in their children’s education enjoy a lower level of school violence. Parents are the single largest factor in preventing violence in schools with or without uniforms. It’s important that parents support the educational system and teach children by example and by enforcing school rules. They can also talk with their children about how to avoid and prevent violent behavior. When students, teachers, and parents participate in their communities and local schools in a violence prevention initiative, schools are more than 30% safer. 7

After studying the facts and conducting my own polling and research at nearby schools, one can easily come to the conclusion that while uniforms may alleviate some of the violence that seems to plague our educational system, it is not the be-all-end-all. Educators must continue to pursue other strategies in combating this problem. Schools with full time security and/or law enforcement presence tended to have a lower rate of violence than the ones void of it. Many teachers believe that character training, a direct result of President Clinton’s address, seems to be helping as well. School uniforms definitely haven’t been shown to increase violence in schools, which is never a bad thing.

1. W.M. Keck Foundation; The Challenge of School Violence; http://www.crf-usa.org/violence/school.html
2. Anderson, Wendell; College of Education, University of Oregon; School Dress Codes and Uniform Policies; http://eric.uoregon.edu/publications/policy_reports/dress_codes/intro.html
3. Clinton, William J.; State of the Union Address; January 23, 2006; http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/New/other/sotu.html
4. Center For Disease Control; Just the Facts: Violent Behavior at School; http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/fact_book/23_School_Violence.htm
5. US Department of Education; Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2005; http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2005/11/11202005.html
6. Eppinger, Russell E.; Widener University; School Uniforms: Does What Students Wear Really Make A Difference? 9 March 2001; http://muse.widener.edu/~egrozyck/EDControversy/Eppinger.html
7. National Crime Prevention Counsel; http://www.pta.org/archive_article_details_1117811527812.html

Veterans Are Not Above Reproach

Listening to the run-up to, the execution of, and the post-analysis of the Robert Mueller testimony today, I couldn’t help but notice the Alinski tactics in full display by the liberals. Specifically, Alinski’s 12th rule, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

In this case, the target is Trump as it always is, but now the liberals are incorporating Rule #3, “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.” In the lead up to and aftermath of the Mueller testimony in Congress, liberals who had never served themselves were quick to invoke Mueller’s military service and compare it to the fact that Trump evaded Vietnam like millions of Americans.

Even morons who did serve were trying to tell Trump supporters that didn’t serve that they should essentially shut up.

Twitter is full of these cowards who forget why THEY serve. One of the things I’ve noticed since leaving the military (though I recognized it while I wore the uniform as well) is that Americans tend to have a nearly worshipful attitude towards veterans. While this is laudable, it blinds them to many realities.

I’ve always believed that nothing makes veterans necessarily special just because they served in the military. When you’ve served for over 20 years, you’ve seen the true nature of the force and come to many uncomfortable realizations.

1. Not everyone that serves does so out of patriotism.
2. A lot of Soldiers are too stupid to survive in the real world and need the military where they are told when to wake up, where to be, and what to do on a daily basis. Absent those directions, they freeze and waste oxygen.
3. A lot of Soldiers will do the bare minimum to collect a paycheck, have a free home to live in, and clothes on their back.
4. A lot of Soldiers are cowards and are a drain on valuable resources, time, and effort.
5. A lot of Soldiers have superiority complexes that are fed with leadership and responsibility.

Naturally, there are also those that meet that idealistic vision of the American public about who a Soldier is.

1. There are some Soldiers who wouldn’t skip a beat jumping into harm’s way.
2. There are some Soldiers that would give you the shirt off their backs, go buy another one to replace it, and give that one away too.
3. There are some Soldiers that would serve for nothing more than food on their plates and a roof over their heads.
4. There are some Soldiers who love this country and truly honor the oath they took to serve.
5. There are some Soldiers who truly believe that your life is more valuable than theirs.

When I was in the Army, I made sure that my troops understood that when they wear that uniform, everything with whom they come in contact is their boss. We serve the American people. We are not better than them and we are not worse than them, but we serve them. As such, we should cherish the responsibility they’ve bestowed upon us and always act in a manner consistent with the vision they have of us, even if that vision is somewhat based in fiction.

I say this because there is a belief out there that people who serve shouldn’t criticize those who have. Somehow, by serving, we are supposed to be immune from criticism, especially when the person doing the criticizing never served. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We do not serve to protect our own rights; we serve to protect the rights of all Americans and the ability to criticize our government officials is a quintessential and fundamental right.

The fact that Bob Mueller served in the military and is a decorated combat veteran is irrelevant to his recent government position. That service may have been what set him apart to qualify for the job, but they are separate. One can criticize his post-military life while still honoring his military service. In fact, by criticizing him, you are honoring his service because you’re exercising the rights he fought to protect (I won’t engage in debate about whether Soldiers really defend rights; that’s another debate).

I’ve met a lot of sorry excuses for humanity who served honorably. I’m sure there are plenty of people who believe I fit into that category. I would never compare my service to their lack of service when debating something completely unrelated. I want people to criticize me. I want people to criticize everyone in government! No one is above reproach and government officials, no matter how small their role, should always be viewed with extreme suspicion. If you knew what the government was truly capable of, you would suspect every one of us!

I’ll end with this tweet that I think summarizes what I’m trying to convey here:

Letters From War

I love history, especially military history. And even more especially, World War II history. My grandfather fought in WWII over Germany as a bombardier in B17 and B24 bombers.

The other day, I was at my uncle’s house and he said he had something that might interest me. He opened up a box full of old papers from the 40s and 50s. My great aunt was apparently quite the looker in her day and there were a lot of letters from GIs to her. I came across one letter that I thought was too good to pass up and just had to share.

This letter is from a PFC Wayne L. Williamson who served in a medical detachment, I believe. I’ll put the transcript below the images for those that can’t read the letter.

world war ii letter page 1

world war ii letter page 2

Temple, Texas
March 28, 1944

Dear Mae,

Enclosed you will find the pictures that Bernard and I took the Sunday we ran into you. The only once enclosed are those of you because we got mad at ours and threw them away. I would of liked a couple more of you.

I was planning on bringing them in to you but you ruined that by moving back to Troy and so I’ll have to be contented this way.

And now there is a question that I have been wanting to ask you for a long time.

I have tried time after time to lead up to this matter but somehow I’ve never been able to; even though it’s been on my mind for weeks.

As you know, when I first met you my feelings toward you were those of a normal friendship; but after a while they developed into something more beautiful & sincere for that I want to thank you very much.

I don’t know whether or not it is proper to ask you this question since you and I have had a little misunderstanding; but I believe that you can forgive me for doing it.

Please promise me that you will never show this letter to anyone else and just keep it between the two of us. This is very important and personal to me and I hope that I don’t over step my self and hurt your feelings. What I want to know Mae is “do you think that Superman & Lois Lane will ever get married?”

I must close to get ready for guard duty tonight.

Please answer soon.

Your friend forever,
Wayne Williamson

The Republican Leadership Scam

“Do I think (Constitutional Carry) is bad policy? Yes.” So quipped Texas House Speaker an A Rated NRA Politician Dennis Bonnen to Dallas Morning News on April 5, 2019. But not for the reason Speaker Bonnen wants you to believe. Speaker Bonnen loves to make fake news like his good friends in the Democratic Party, often using Nancy Pelosi’s tactic of a “wrap up smear” to kill bills.

It is just another example of Speaker Bonnen using the “wrap up smear” tactic by claiming to the media that HB 357 Constitutional Carry allows for criminals to carry guns. It doesn’t. In fact the language used in the HB 357 specifically states that only law abiding gun owners legally allowed to possess firearms can carry without a permit. But that’s not what Speaker Bonnen has repeatedly peddled to a fawning, liberal media. The bottom line is that Speaker Bonnen thinks his Constituents and the Good People of Texas are ignorant and won’t learn the truth. What a great way to view the people who elected you, right? Most Texans can pull up the text of HB 357 and clearly see Speaker Bonnen is a pathological liar and thinks very little of them.

So what really drove Speaker Bonnen to kill this bill and why is the National Rifle Association and Texas State Rifle Association still backing him on this and many other bills? Simple: it’s money; specifically it’s the NRA money. See, one of the biggest yearly money makers for the NRA is Range Safety Officer Certification. Many of these Range Safety Officers also happen to be the License to Carry Instructors that you’re required to have sign off on your LTC Exam and Range Proficiency Test. In order to be an LTC instructor, you have be NRA certified.

Imagine how much money the NRA Would lose if suddenly you didn’t need so many RSO’s to teach these courses – many of whom do it independently but still need RSO Certification by the NRA to use other Range facilities. I bet it’s quite a chunk of change.

According to the NRA Website, it’s $125 just to do the online RSO Course; it’s more if you wanna add other certifications, which many do. That’s a real threat to the NRA’s bottom line. Imagine how unhappy the NRA Would be if Speaker Bonnen, their A Rated stooge, cost them money? I bet he wouldn’t keep that A Rating.

So there you have it: Speaker Bonnen’s “bad policy” in a nut shell is actually putting the NRA’s fat bank accounts ahead of Texan’s Rights and Safety. But, we can all take solace in what the NRA actually DID fight for: 48 hours of constitutional carry. All you have to do is lose everything during a natural disaster and have the government tell you leave your property.

Note: This is a guest post by Damian B. However, I wouldn’t publish it were I not to agree with it.

NRA Again Dividing Gun Owners

I used to be a proud NRA member. Now I’m just a member. A Patron Life member, but just a member nonetheless. They won’t be getting another penny of mine any time in the near future.

My frustration with the NRA began in 2013 and was initially personal in nature. After my arrest in Temple for lawfully carrying my AR15 while on a hike through rural Texas (surrounded by my family’s pastures) with my son, the NRA refused to help. I was told that if my case went to appeal, they would be interested in helping with that. Well, the case went to appeal and again the NRA did nothing to assist with the case.

Not only did they passively ignore my open carry case, they actively opposed open carry in Texas. They actually created a blog post that called open carry in public “not only is it rare, it’s downright weird.” But, the NRA didn’t stop there. They attacked law abiding gun rights activists that were fighting to further 2nd amendment rights in Texas by calling the open carry rallies a “dubious practice” that is “downright scary!” Dubious?! Scary?! To be fair, the NRA retracted its ignorant ramblings, but only after gun owners revolted and began sending in their shredded membership cards. Unfortunately, anyone paying attention would have recognized that the NRA slipped when it admitted that “using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.

I only rehash the past to draw attention to the present. Despite supposedly opening their eyes to the plight of gun owners, the NRA has recently exposed it’s lack of spine in defending the 2nd amendment by pushing for bump stock and “red flag” legislation. They’ve already accomplished the bump stock ban and many states are instituting their red flag bills.

Just when I thought they had learned their lesson about open carry, they go and publish yet another article critical of open carry using worn out, baseless, unsubstantiated, and ignorant claims. Author Karen Hunter begins her piece hoping to convince us that her “objective is not to sway you from one side to other.” Then, after going through the pro/con arguments between open and concealed carry, concludes her screed with “Personally, I lean more toward the concealed-carry-always viewpoint” and launches a full-throated offense against open carry.

Before I tear into her points, let me make something clear: I don’t care HOW you carry. JUST CARRY!! How and whether you carry is your preference and everyone has their own. While I and Open Carry Texas have pushed for open carry as an option, we don’t tell people that one is better than the other because, as Ms. Hunter TRIED to do, there are pros and cons to each method. My main point of contention is that once again the NRA is trying to stigmatize open carry for all the wrong reasons.

My biggest objection to this hit piece is that she insinuates that our rights and carry preferences should be adjusted because “there are many people who aren’t anti-gun but are not educated on gun facts or laws whatsoever.” I thought the entire purpose of the NRA was to educate?! I know that’s the point of Open Carry Texas. You don’t educate people on something by restricting their access to it. You can’t teach people that driving is fun if you tell people why they shouldn’t drive or keep cars hidden.

Hunter then goes on to say she doesn’t prefer open carry because “I really don’t want to cause unneeded alarm to anyone or induce any amount of gun-related anxiety.” I’ve been open carrying for years (before open carry was legal in Texas, I OC’d in other states) and I’ve never had to worry about “inducing gun-related anxiety.” This is NOT how you fix this problem anyway. The best way to handle anxiety is to confront anxiety by exposing them to the elements that cause it.

For example, after a major motorcycle crash, many people are scared to get back on one. There is a lot of anxiety and fear involved just seeing one. However, the way to overcome that is not to hole yourself up inside your home, but to expose yourself to motorcycles. If you don’t get back on that motorcyle, you’ll always live in fear of it. Same with combat veterans. One of the ways that we overcome much of our combat anxiety is to expose ourselves to the sights and sounds of combat. When I returned from Iraq, I couldn’t watch Saving Private Ryan or other combat movies with realistic sound effects. However, I learned that if simply fight my anxiety by confronting it I could overcome it.

Instead of retreating to remote places on the 4th of July, I forced myself to go and watch fireworks displays so that I could overcome my reactions to explosions. I generally don’t have problems now because I expect loud noises during certain occasions throughout the year. Now, I do still have reactions to the unexpected, but I have learned how to deal with those anxieties and control them instead of allowing them to control me.

I usually open carry because I can’t stand inside the waistband holsters. I find them uncomfortable especially considering that my EDC is a full-sized 1911. However, as an activist, I mainly OC because I want to expose the public to the sight of a law abiding citizen with a firearm so they don’t fear them as much. Ms. Hunter may want to perpetuate the irrational fear of firearms, but I don’t. The NRA may be okay with it, but OCT is not.

I’m going to be 100% honest here: open carry is not really fear-inducing to the vast majority of Americans. Those that claim it is are lying. OC is not what causes fear; ignorance and a lack of education is. You don’t fix ignorance by placating it. You don’t educate people by withholding educational materials from them. When OC in Texas was being debated, all the libtard gun grabbers whined about this exact claim: open carry will induce fear! Hundreds of OCT members have OC’d in thousands of places throughout Texas (and others in others states, I might add) and no one has every experienced someone running away in fear. There have been complaints, but these have come from the gun haters anyway. Who cares what they think? My rights aren’t dependent on the irrational or manufactured fears of others.

Finally, Ms. Hunter conjures up the worn out myth about the “element of surprise.” Why any gun owner wants the “element of surprise” instead of the element of prevention is beyond me. When you need to “surprise” an attacker, you’re already being attacked. One can argue that appearing disarmed through concealed carry makes you just as much of a target as open carrying and making your firearm a target. I would argue the former is more likely than the latter. The overwhelming majority of criminals prefer a soft target and will be deterred by a visibly armed person. On the other hand, nearly all criminals are likely to target someone they believe isn’t armed. This is especially easy to understanding considering that, at least here in Texas, only about 4-5% of the public is licensed to carry and surely the criminals realize their odds are good.

The only thing that Ms. Hunter and the NRA accomplished with this article is once again splitting gun owners into two camps: open carriers and conceal carriers. I wish the establishment gun rights “defenders” would simply shut up about open or concealed carry and simply encourage people to carry. The article was great in presenting some reasoned pros and cons about each mode, but then defeated its entire purpose through its advocacy of one over the other.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big deal to me if the NRA didn’t have such a history of attacking open carriers in the first place.

The Courts Have Turned Away from Their Constitutional Purpose

If you think that we have a wonderful criminal justice system, you’re kidding yourself. We no longer have an independent judiciary whose power is limited “to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority.” The key words here are “under the Constitution.” The Constitution dictates which laws can be passed, so that section isn’t as important. However, the Constitution doesn’t seem to be a care of a U.S. appeals court that just upheld a New Jersey law that limits the number of rounds a magazine can hold.

To summarize the opinion of the court: if bad people do bad things, you’re rights can be legislated away. Let’s break down what the judges said. There are many issues here that confirm our courts have lost their way and in many cases should be ignored. The 2-1 divided court came to several conclusions: the law does not burden the 2A’s right to self-defense “in the home”; it does not violate the 5A’s takings clause because there are hoops owners can jump through to keep their magazines; and it is not a violation of the 14A’s equal protection clause that the law recognizes that law enforcement officers are just better people than the rest of us and should therefore have more rights. Let’s break these down individually.

“New Jersey’s law reasonably fits the State’s interest in public safety and does not unconstitutionally burden the Second Amendment’s right to self-defense in the home.”

First of all, the court relied on unspecified “statistics” that point to a “160% increase in mass shootings over the prior decade.” This is a bogus way to determine the constitutionality of an unconstitutional law. The court never identified its source, nor did it define exactly what constitutes a “mass shooting.” The reason for this is because there is no accepted, legal definition of a mass shooting. As such, the meaning and definition has changed depending on the source. For example, the idiots at the Gun Violence Archive, a leftist, anti-gun website founded by a rich, leftist, anti-gun lawyer.

See, the problem is that the GVA defines a “mass shooting” so broadly that just about every shooting with multiple victims is categorized as one. This includes gang and drug violence or even shootouts between rivals. However, in 2013, a federal law identified a “mass shooting” as “3 or more killings in a single incident.” Even this definition is problematic because it makes the assumption that a gang shootout at midnight over a turf war or a drug deal gone bad is the same as a deranged sociopath who enters an office and slaughters a bunch of people. Anyone that isn’t reliant upon pushing an agenda can easily see these aren’t connected. The only thing that is consistent is the type of weapon used.

Even uber-leftist website Mother Jones disputes the numbers frequently quoted from the GVA. While the GVA claims that there are more mass shootings than there are days in a year, MJ has that number at around a dozen per year. The only 160% increase in mass shootings has been a 160% increase in redefining the definition. This is hardly a way to determine – as the courts should be doing – whether something is constitutional. The courts findings are nothing more than regurgitated, anti-gun talking points using flawed and discredited sources.

The court is also attempting to convey the idea that the 2A only protects your right to keep and bear arms “in the home.” By including those three words, the court is pushing the narrative that there is no right outside the home to keep and bear arms. Nowhere in the 2A do the words “in the home” appear. It says a right to keep and bear arms and the fact that the founders didn’t just keep firearms in the home for home defense is proof that this was never their intent. The law certainly does burden the 2A right – in the home or otherwise – because it limits me as to the extent of my self-defense. Assuming I am a “one shot, one killer” gun owner, the law limits me to defending against a group of ten thugs. What if I’m attacked by 11? What if I miss once or more often, which is natural under duress, especially to those that aren’t as well trained as I am?

Here’s what the court is saying here: you only have a right to self-defense in your own home up to a certain arbitrary amount. Beyond that amount, the court essentially went mute. Either I have a right to self-defense or I don’t. What difference does it make if I choose to defend myself with a 10-round magazine or a 100-round magazine if I’m defending myself? This is another hypocritical factor the court missed. They use criminal activity to determine the limits of lawful self-defense. I understand laws to prohibit or prosecute criminal activity, but that should never have a bearing on lawful self-defense. This is no difference than a state limiting me to the type of car I can drive because a particular model is used more in bank robberies. I’m not a bank robber, so my choice of car shouldn’t be limited despite the fact that I COULD use it to rob a bank if I were predisposed to do so. Likewise, since I’m not a mass shooter, I shouldn’t be limited to what I can “lawfully” possess as a gun owner.

From Politico:

Since the mid-2000s, the incidence of mass public shootings on a per capita basis has been a bit higher than it was in the preceding 10 years. But the rates over the past 10 years are no higher than in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when the frequency of mass public shootings led to the creation of policies designed to address violence in schools and workplaces. Most notably, the growing number of high-profile mass public shootings in that era helped bring about the 1994 enactment of the federal assault weapons ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004.

They also wisely note that when the court relies upon statistics that rely upon rates, the conclusions can be misleading. A single murder in a state like Alaska with 739,795 people will produce a profoundly larger rate than a single murder in a state like California with 39.54 million people. The raw numbers are not much different today when it comes to gun violence than they were in the late sixties, but today there are over 326 million Americans versus just 202.7 million in 1969. The rates haven’t changed much at all.

The court determined that the 2A is protected because it only “places a minimal burden on lawful gun owners.” In other words, “it’s okay to violate the constitution as long as it’s just a little.” So, state could easily ban some religions, as long as there are other options for people to attend to church…somewhere. A press can be free, as long as it reports what the state determines is okay. It’s okay to quarter a minimal number of troops in our homes and not offend the 3A. You have a right to due process…as long as you are only accused of certain crimes or you’re at least 5’6″ tall. I know it sounds crazy, but logically this is the path it leads to.

“The law also does not violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause because it does not require gun owners to surrender their magazines but instead allows them to retain modified magazines or register firearms that have magazines that cannot be modified.”

There are several ways the law provides for owners of magazines with a capacity to hold more than ten round to become “compliant” with the law. Owners can either modify their magazines to accept ten rounds or less, destroy firearms or magazines that can’t be modified, register the firearms or magazines that cannot be modified, or transfer them to an “individual or entity entitled to own or possess it,” likely in a state that actually values freedom. They can also surrender the items to law enforcement as a last resort.

The 5A says that government shall not allow “private property [to] be taken for public use, without just compensation,” but the law in question in this case does not provide for a single penny to owners who are being required to modify, destroy, or surrender their property. In fact, the court completely ignored the “just compensation” clause. Additionally, the 5A only allows for such takings “for public use,” another clause the court ignored. Simply forcing once law-abiding citizens to turn in their private property because a bunch of politicians put words together on a piece of paper demanding it does not mesh with the constitution.

The court relied on testimony from researcher Gary Kleck and Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS), but only quoted EGS refutation of Kleck’s self-defense gun use (SDGU) figures in which he found that most SDGU involved fewer than ten rounds. It completely ignored that they also found there were many SDGU involving more than ten rounds. Despite this fact, the court simply found that those that needed more than ten rounds for self-defense were somehow less worthy of protection than those only needing fewer than ten rounds. By its own admission, the court “concluded that the testimony of certain experts (the ones, of course, that were on the side of the 2A) was “of little help in its analysis….[because] their testimony failed to clearly convey the effect this law will have on reducing mass shootings in New Jersey or the extent to which the law will impede gun owners from defending themselves.”

The court found that “while a ban on LCMs (large capacity magazines) does not restrict the amount of ammunition or number of magazines an individual may purchase…without access to LCMs, a shooter must reload more frequently.” This line of thinking is ludicrous and immoral. If most shootings, as the court found through its testimony, involve just 2-3 bullets, why limit it to just ten? If they can limit to ten, why not one? Why not 0? If the goal is not to determine constitutionality, but to determine what will kill fewer people or what will take shooters longer to kill the same number of people, then the court’s logic would justify a total ban on guns. It would also justify banning every single semi-automatic weapon. It could justify banning people in the future from owning multiple magazines or possessing more than a pre-determined amount of ammunition. It would justify even owning more than one gun!

“Finally, because retired law enforcement officers have training and experience that makes them different from ordinary citizens, the law’s exemption that permits them to possess magazines that can hold more than ten rounds does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.”

In a footnote on page 13 of the ruling, the court stated that “law enforcement officers use certain firearms not regularly used by members of the military and use them in a civilian, non-combat environment.” In the footnote to this statement, the court wrote, “because their duties require access to LCMs, active military members and active law enforcement officers are exempt from the ban.”

If magazines carrying more than ten rounds isn’t necessary for self-defense, as the court and the state allege, then it’s statement that “New Jersey law enforcement officers regularly carry LCMs…and along with their retired counterparts, are trained and certified in the use of firearms.” Well, if they are banned, why do they need them? Surely, it isn’t for self-defense because these types of magazines “are not necessary or appropriate for self-defense” by the courts own admission. Ostensibly, the police have guns for self-defense and defense of others, right?

Once again, the court here contradicts itself. In United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), specifically noted that the constitution protect “arms supplied by [the people] and of the kind in common use at the time.” The most common firearms in use at this time are those that hold and/or are capable of firing more than ten rounds. Since it is the responsibility (and right) of the people to be armed and the courts have already determined that those arms are to be supplied by the people and “of the kind in common use,” the New Jersey law should have been found unconstitutional by an impartial court. The court had to have read this case because they referenced it when citing that “[t]he possession of arms also implied the possession of ammunition” in determining that “magazines are arms” since they hold the ammunition. That was the extent of the dynamic duo’s (the NJ decision was a 2-1 split decision) use of this key case law.

But, the law doesn’t just exempt active law enforcement. It also exempted retired law enforcement officers. Why? Because of their “‘extensive and stringent training’ and experience ‘confronting unique circumstances that come with being a police officer,'” which are “different from, and hence not similarly situated to, other residents.” Really? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t cops investigate crimes that have already occurred? Before a cop puts himself in danger of confronting a violent murderer, hasn’t the common citizen already been confronted by this same individual? Before a cop confronts a domestic abuser, hasn’t that person already abused someone violently? The only difference between the public and the police is that the police are paid to confront the people who already confronted the public. Therefore, we should be afforded the same means of self-defense as the police.

As for the “extensive and stringent training” argument, what about those civilians who never served in law enforcement who are more extensively and stringently trained than them? If the benchmark is having “extensive and stringent training,” why wouldn’t that apply to society as a whole instead of just certain government agents. I’ve met many people who have exponentially more and better training than what law enforcement receives. Even within law enforcement, having a badge doesn’t mean your are “extensively and stringently trained.” Some officers serve admin roles while others are on SWAT teams. Under this logic, doesn’t that mean that SWAT officers should have more rights than admin or traffic cops? And who decides what constitutes “extensive and stringent training?”

The fact that the court concluded this isn’t a violation of the equal protection clause is laughable.

The courts claims to have “carefully consider[ed] all of the evidence and the parties’ arguments,” but admits that it dismissed research it simply didn’t want to agree with. If this ruling isn’t overturned, this is the precedent it is setting.

The Self-Imposed Migrant “Crisis”

The moment that it was discovered a group of migrants planned to march (ie: drive) to the United States for asylum, we warned that they weren’t welcome here. In fact, the only people that want them here are those that are hoping on their illegal votes and abhor the rule of law – Democrats.

Over the past several weeks, every prediction about what these migrants would bring with them has come true: disease, crime, violence. Now that the migrants are in Tijuana, we’re seeing firsthand what their presence in our communities would look like. They come with no money, no skills, and nothing to offer. However, they do come looking for and expecting everyone else to take care of them.

The problem is that for a group of people who demands that someone else do what they should be doing themselves, they sure do have high expectations. For example, while Mexicans complains that their presence is costing the city of Tijuana $25,000 per day to feed, it’s never good enough. The migrants aren’t happy with their food, their living conditions, or their prospects.

This is all self-imposed. The migrants knew they weren’t welcome. They were told repeatedly by the government, the media, and the people around them. They didn’t care. Theoretically, they are fleeing from despicable conditions of crime and corruption, yet they went to Tijuana – the fifth most dangerous city in the world, according to Mexican think tank. The reason they went hundreds of miles out of their way to California as opposed to coming up to the US border at Texas is because they know that California is more friendly to criminals and illegal immigrants. They also know that Texans are well armed and will defend their country and state.

Trump was right about their presence being an invasion. 100% right. They are fleeing violence for a safer place to live and a job; Mexico offered that. They’re fleeing their country to help with Obama’s continuing goal of “fundamentally transforming America” (no, I’m not saying Obama is behind the caravan). Who flees a country they don’t like while flying it’s flag? If you think America is so great, why are you saying that when you get here you’re going to somehow depose Trump. You can’t expect to be welcomed with open arms into the country when you’re calling for the overthrow of its civilian leader!

Additionally, many independent journalists who are embedded with the migrants have exposed that the migrants are really attracted to our free social welfare programs. Let’s face it, if these people are let into this country, they’re going to be a drain on our society. They are going to suck down our taxpayer funded programs and services because they aren’t entrepreneurs and job creators. They will suppress wages by taking low-paying, manual labor jobs. Because of the low income levels, they won’t pay any taxes either. Very few of them even speak English, which is going to create greater complications within our borders in law enforcement and social discourse.

All one needs to see and hear about what kind of “gracious” guests these migrants plan to be has recently been revealed. It appears that since the illegals aren’t getting their way because we’re enforcing our immigration laws, they’re going to CREATE chaos through “human stampedes.” Their plan to overwhelm our defenses and system and take what they want since it isn’t being given to them.

Do we really need more people in this country who have no respect for our legal system? What good does it do us to bring in people who will just take what they want if it isn’t given to them freely? The migrants have made no qualms about resorting to violence to achieve their objectives. We’ve already seen how violent they can be in Mexico when obstacles are placed in their way despite being given options to their benefit.

Americans need to be paying close attention. If these guys (they aren’t women and children) think they can ram their way into our country, then Americans need to stand up to them. If they think they can outnumber us, then we need to outnumber them. The problem is that there isn’t much that can be done within the borders of Kalifornia because if you defend yourself, your state, and your country against these invaders, YOU will be treated as the enemy and problem. Californians also have virtually no right to self-defense in their state. The Kalifornia poliTICKians have made sure of that.

The Mexican government is now complaining about all the problems the caravan has caused, but they are responsible for it. They should have done what we are doing now and secured their borders. They should have enforced the rule of law against these South American Hispanics the same way they enforce the rule of law against North American white people. If an American pulled a tenth of the crap the migrants are pulling, we’d be locked in a third world Mexican jail being fed dirty water and stale tortilla shells.

If Mexico wants to solve the migrant problem, the solution is clear: start deporting them back home immediately.

Houston Police Department STILL Getting It Wrong on Open Carry

Over the past few years, I’ve come to a sad conclusion about the state of government and liberty in Texas. If you want to know about traffic law, domestic violence, or issuing warrants, ask a cop. If you want to know about just about any other aspect of law, ask nearly anyone else – especially when it comes to gun laws. That’s not a dig on them because it’s impossible for anyone to know every single law on the books. Texas alone has tens of thousands of laws. The problem is that when cops don’t know something, they simply make it up or enforce what they believe SHOULD be the law. I can’t count how many times I’ve been at an event and told by a cop that I can’t do something and when I try to actually show the cop the actual law, he/she refuses to even read it. The ego is too big. Thankfully, not all are like this, but an uncomfortable number are.

I’ve been educating the public and government officials (including law enforcement) for years about the limitations and extent of the law as it relates to firearms in Texas. Our gun laws are scattered throughout various codes, ranging from the Penal Code to Administrative Code to Education Code and Government Code. It’s a very tangled web and makes getting new legislation passed difficult because if you remove a section from one code and not another, you could effectively have accomplished nothing even if your bill passes.

However, the Texas open carry law is not that difficult to understand. Yet, despite the straight forward nature of the law related to the limitations on government and duties of license holders, there is still confusion – or outright willful ignorance – about what cops can and can’t do and what license holders have to do. I’ve written about this issue once already here, so I won’t rehash it verbatim. But, it greatly bothers me that there are still police departments that not only believe they have authority that they don’t, but try to convince the public that they have this authority and blatantly act against their rights. They claim to support gun rights, but will use any excuse to harass you for exercising them.

On the Houston Police Department’s website, there is a Q&A about the “new” open carry law. This appears to have been done under the old chief, Chief McClelland, but the fact that citizens who go to the site and type “open carry” into the city’s search engine is still a problem since the new chief hasn’t fixed it. Inquiring minds will come across this tidbit of false information:

20. If an officer sees me openly carrying a handgun in a shoulder or belt holster, is that officer legally able to ask me for proof that I have a handgun license?

Yes, since constitutional carry did not pass, the officer is legally permitted to ask you for your license. Also, when you get your handgun license, you are instructed that if a police officer asks you for your license, you must provide it.

I’m not sure what constitutional carry has to do with this response, but it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that constitutional passed or didn’t pass. Open carry, where legal as it is in Texas, does not constitute probable cause. When the open carry law was being passed, I had already done my homework and knew that cops demanding ID could be a potential issue here. Other states that passed open carry had to go back and pass additional laws that specifically tell cops not to do what the constitution says they can’t do and the courts have reminded them not to do – demand ID for simply carrying a firearm (again, see my previous post for all the legal details on this). So, I worked closely with several legislators, notably Senator Don Huffines and Representative Harold Dutton, to attach an amendment to the HB910 (the open carry law) that would SPECIFICALLY prevent law enforcement from harassing people simply for open carrying absent any other evidence of criminal conduct. In other words, if the sole reason for the stop and ID was because of open carry and nothing else, the amendment told cops to slow their role and leave peaceful citizens alone.

The new Houston police chief, Art Acevedo, immediately mobilized his statist law enforcement buddies and they flooded the legislature with phone calls demanding that the amendment be defeated. All of the law enforcement unions and associations piled on and threatened lawmakers to kill the 4th amendment protection bill. They actually fought against your right to be “secure in your person, papers, and effects!” They WANTED the ability to harass law abiding gun owners who were minding their own business. Now, I know that some people reading this are a bit more brainwashed that I am and are already thinking to themselves, “if you have nothing to hide, why not just show the ID?!” I always respond with, “if I have nothing to hide, they have no reason to harass me.” Why should I surrender my 4th amendment rights to exercise my 2nd amendment rights?! That makes no sense at all. The 2nd amendment is not a subordinate right.

Let me continue breaking down the HPD response. “[T]he officer is legally permitted to ask you for your license.” I don’t dispute that. The officer is legally permitted to ask you out on a date too. He’s legally permitted to ask you to do just about anything absent illegal conduct. Asking is one thing; demanding is another. Yes, he can legally ask you for your license. The question then becomes, “do you have to provide it?” HPD seems to think so.

Also, when you get your handgun license, you are instructed that if a police officer asks you for your license, you must provide it.” This is where HPD goes off the rails. I do know – because I get phone calls, emails, and social media messages ALL THE TIME about this – that there are LTC instructors out there putting out false information that license holders are required to provide their LTC if a cop asks to see it. They point to Texas Government Code 411.205 as their evidence, but this is false. Nowhere in that law does it say a cop can demand an LTC (or even ask for it). It says, “when a magistrate or a peace officer demands that the license holder display identification, the license holder shall display both the license holder’s driver’s license or identification certificate issued by the department and the license holder’s handgun license.”

Let’s break this down…again. To anyone with a high school diploma who graduated legitimately, it is crystal clear that nowhere in this section does it say “when a peace officer demands that the license holder display his license.” It says, “when…a peace officer demands…identification.” It also doesn’t say, “when a peace officer ASKS for identification.” Asking and demanding are two very distinct and different legal terms. Asking denotes a choice while demanding denotes a requirement. It also says “when” an officer demands that identification, which every cop SHOULD know they can only do when they have legal authority – when placing someone under arrest. An arrest requires PC. Open carry is not PC because the courts have already ruled on this.

Finally, basically once a police officer has been given the legal authority to demand something from a private citizen (ie: a crime has been committed), only then does 411.205 kick in. This actually only applies to license holders since citizens not carrying a firearm are not required to actually “display” identification. The average citizen, under Penal Code 38.02, is only required to provide name, address, or birthdate when placed under arrest. They don’t actually have to display anything. 411.205 places a more specific requirement on license holders once the 38.02 failure to identify statute kicks in. If a license holder is armed and a peace officer has authority to demand identification, license holders actually have to DISPLAY identification – they can’t just verbalize it.

That said, the legislature also remove any criminal penalty for failure to display an LTC, so even if they have authority to demand it, failure to do so is not a crime. It’s merely a, “hey, slave, show them your LTC. But, if you don’t, meh.” Of course, some police departments have doubled down on their statist power trips by reporting the LTC holder to the state trying to get their licenses administratively revoked, but there is no provision in the law for suspending or revoking a license for failure to display it. I have recording of a phone call with a DPS trooper in the LTC department saying this exact same thing. There’s nothing they can do, but some departments get butthurt over it.

Anyway, there you have it. Once again, I have to take time out of picking my toenails to contact another police department and formally put them on notice about their illegal policies and misinformation.

The Reality of Violence

I’m not a violent person. I abhor violence. Now, that doesn’t mean that I think there is a place for violence. Quite the contrary. I am whole-hearted believer in using overwhelming force in response to violence. Peace through superior firepower, to put it another way. I don’t believe that violence is EVER legitimate except in defense from violence. I know that sounds weird coming from a guy that was involved in the Iraq invasion, but that was also 15 years ago (sheesh! Has it been that long?!) Combat has a way of getting people to see things a bit differently.

Since Donald Trump was elected I’ve witnessed firsthand the rise of militant communism and leftists known as Antifa. Here in Texas, we also have a group of commies called the Red Guard that are based largely out of Austin. Personally, I have no problem with people pushing ignorant and stupid political ideologies. It’s important to know who is expendable in the next civil war or major catastrophe. However, instead of merely pushing communism under the guise of “anti-fascism,” these groups are getting violent and people are getting hurt. Thankfully, in the aggregate, the people getting hurt the most are the antifa morons themselves, but people are still getting hurt.

I was tagged in a post where the following video was shared and it precipitated this blog post.

This is the kind of violence I can get behind. If antifa wants to puff out their birdchests (or, in this case, their oversized pannus) and get violent, I’m fully supportive of beating them into a coma. I believe that the only language that communists fully comprehend is strength, resolve, and violence. When antifa gets violent, we need to get more violent. We need to ensure, however, that we aren’t provoking that violence. We should exercise our rights and they should exercise theirs. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t respond to the rest of their nonsense.

I believe that there are different levels of violence and not all of them are kinetic. For example, I consider it violence when a group of people is trying to hold a rally, protest, or other first-amendment protected activity and another group of opposition does everything they can to drown it out. The left is very good at using sound to overpower conservatives and the right. I consider that violence and would not object to kinetic violence being used as a response to sonic violence. If people are blocking my ability to freely travel, I believe in running them over. They are forcefully preventing me from exercising my right to move about unmolested. This is a lesser form of violence that deserves a response in self-defense, especially when those actions could potentially affect my ability to put food on the table or pay my bills.

And when people like those in the video get physical, our response should overwhelming and absolute. I guarantee you this antifa coward who thought he was a badass will think twice next time. Perhaps he will rethink getting violent without a lot of support, which means that the next response should be even more overwhelming. As more of these idiots get their skulls crushed in, fewer others will feel the need to get froggy in the future. Thus, violence will create peace in the long run. The less blustering among that crowd will see the stitches of their more aggressive friends and decide not to get involved – or even just to stop going.

The problem with the right is that we tend to be more religious and therefore we tend to condemn violence at all costs. Our side believes that street fighting is uncivilized and unproductive. Often, we believe that even protesting is offensive and useless. We prefer to simply turn the other cheek instead of responding. We believe this is the Christian thing to do. Unfortunately, that perspective isn’t entirely accurate. The Christian thing to do is to avoid violence as initiatory; not just to avoid violence. Sure, we should try to “turn the other cheek,” but we shouldn’t be cowards. I doubt highly that Christ intended for his followers to be victims their entire lives and simply allow people to abuse them without consequences. Turning the other cheek, in my view, means that we try to avoid violence or vindication if possible. When Christ saw the Temple being defiled He “cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves.” If someone is beating you with a pole, no one in their right mind should believe that Christ believes you should turn your head and not stop the beating.

It is my sincere desire that people would just disagree with each other. If you want to counter-protest, do it!! However, no one has a right to use their free speech to shut down the free speech of others. My rights end where another person’s rights begin. This is why when I go to a leftist rally, my intent is not to be loud and shout down the opposition, but to stand as an opposing voice. Sure, I’ll occasionally make a loud statement in response to something stupid being said, but I won’t in any way try to shut down their rally or make it to where they can’t be heard. They have a right to be heard just as I do. I’m always willing to sit down and talk peacefully with people with whom I disagree – including antifarce morons. When those people want to resort to violence, I’m always more than willing, capable, and excited to use violence in response. I love violence when used in self-defense. It’s cathartic and tends to force others to be peaceful all of the sudden when confronted with it.

No one should accept or tolerate antifa and far left violence. No one should accept or tolerate far right violence either. Violence in all forms (except self-defense) should never be condoned. I will never throw the first punch, but I’m incredibly accepting of throwing the last one. And it won’t be just one punch. I will stop when I believe you will no longer be a threat to me in any way. The solution is very simple. If you don’t want to go home bloody or end up in a hospital (or worse) simply be nice. I’m not a violent person, but I’m not completely opposed to using violence.

Beto O’Rourke Is Offensive to Gun Rights

Here in Texas, a major fight is at hand for Texas senator. Hoping for a second term, Senator Ted Cruz is being challenged by El Paso US Representative Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. While the media has definitely made it seem as if this is going to be a close race, I don’t buy it. Beto touts his accomplishment of visiting all 254 Texas counties as somehow a basis for defeating Cruz, but he refuses to recognize that nearly all of his policies are completely out of line with most Texans. What works in a liberal, border town like El Paso, doesn’t work in the rest of the state.

Perhaps his most abhorrent ideology is his disdain for the second amendment. Now, Beto isn’t a huge idiot and recognizes that Texas is a gun friendly state, so he’s having to craft his anti-gun messaging in a way that he thinks will fool most Texans come November 6th. You can always tell when a politician doesn’t support gun rights because they begin their discussion on the topic with, “I support the second amendment, but…” or “I’m a gun owner, but…” I call these kinds of 2A supporters as “butters.”

One only need look at his own website (which I refuse to link to – Google is your friend) to see his absolute and total disdain for the 2A. Nowhere on his page does he say or push anything that would PROTECT your right to keep and bear arms. Every single policy agenda he lists is, in fact, a restriction on some aspect of the 2A.

Texas has a proud and honorable tradition of responsible gun ownership for hunting, sport, self-defense, and collecting. Like so many Texans, Beto learned to safely handle and shoot a gun at a young age — taught by his Uncle Raymond who was a sheriff’s deputy and a jail captain. That shared heritage — that uniquely Texas experience — means that our state should lead the way in preserving the Second Amendment while working together to ensure people can live without fear of gun violence in their communities.

We should:

    Require background checks for all gun sales to ensure that firearms only get into the hands of responsible, law-abiding individuals.
    This means finally closing the gun show, online, and boyfriend loopholes.
    Stop selling weapons of war and high-capacity magazines to ensure that firearms designed to kill as effectively and efficiently as possible on the battlefield aren’t used in our schools, our streets, our churches, and our concerts.
    Block the erosion of Texas’ license to carry standards by opposing Concealed Carry Reciprocity, which would force Texas to allow anyone from states with weak to nonexistent conceal carry laws to disregard our own public safety requirements.
    Fully support federal research on gun violence so that we can better understand and address its root causes.

Let’s break this down in a constitutional sense. First of all, Beto is running for a FEDERAL, senatorial position. So, the federal law and constitution applies. The 2A is clear that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed.” Every law in any way altering or restriction firearms is an infringement.

First of all, Beto says that “our state should lead the way in preserving the Second Amendment while working together to ensure people can live without fear of gun violence in their communities.” There is no authority whatsoever in the constitution that allows for Congress to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms except to protect someone’s irrational fear of “gun violence.” This line of thinking is baseless when applied to literally any other form of emotional advocacy. If it’s the governments job to help alleviate people’s “fears,” then why do aren’t we severely restricting 18-wheelers. I would like to not live in fear of being run off the road every time I have to pass a big truck on the highway, especially while it’s raining. I would like to not live in fear of being murdered by a cop or dying as a result of medical malpractice. Should we ban 18-wheelers, cops, and doctors be banned because there are people who fear them? Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in this state by a wide margin. And exponentially more people die from medical malpractice!

Gun violence is a false term. It’s invented to push an agenda. There is no such thing as “gun violence.” There is only violence. The means to engage in that violence may vary, but violence is violence. It’s no difference being murdered or assaulted with a gun than with a fist, hammer, or knife. Violence is violence. The problem with these big government statists is that they recognize that controlling guns is the only way to truly control the people. This is obvious when you consider that every single gun control law conveniently exempts government officials from its grasp. Why is it okay for a cop to carry into a bar or courtroom, but no other law abiding citizen especially considering that licensed gun owners are 7 times less likely to commit a crime than cops are? Why is okay for a cop, active or retired, to carry in all 50 states, but not you? Because government wants a monopoly on the use of force and they realize that as long as you possess the means to resist their tyranny they can’t be tyrannical.

Next, Beto wants to “require background checks for all gun sales to ensure that firearms only get into the hands of responsible, law-abiding individuals.” We have background checks and we have laws that already prevent firearms from getting into the hands of irresponsible, law-breaking individuals. Felons aren’t allowed to have guns and they don’t purchase their guns legally. Criminals won’t suddenly start performing background checks on each other before each transaction. They certainly won’t undergo a background check before stealing a firearm. That said, I oppose background checks anyway. When we give government the power to determine who is “responsible,” what’s to stop them from determining no one is responsible – except government officials? If you want to disarm “law abiding” citizens, all they need to do is create more laws that turn law-abiding citizens into criminal out of thin air. For example, should UBC laws pass and two law-abiding citizens buy a gun from each other without a background check, those two people are now magically criminals. States have created felons out of thin air by merely passing laws regulating what types of guns or accessories the citizens can possess that previously they owned without a single issue. All background checks do is identify who is buying guns so that when the government is ready to ban them, they know who to go after. We’ve already seen it happen in California, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. You don’t make society safer by making it harder for law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms in self-defense.

This means finally closing the gun show, online, and boyfriend loopholes.” This is where Beto should be immediately disqualified from public office. He isn’t even intelligent enough to understand the very topic he has a position on. It’s illegal to purchase a gun online. Firearms cannot be shipped to a home under any circumstances “legally.” The “gun show loophole” is another farce and is simply the argument statists make to push for more control. The government doesn’t like when it can’t track who has a gun and frankly the government SHOULDN’T know who has a gun. I prefer to keep the government guessing so that they don’t get froggy although the fact that they do know there are over 310 million firearms in the hands of Americans is surely one reason government keeps itself largely in check. A Bureau of Justice Statistics – which the gun grabbers love to quote – survey of prison inmates found that less than one percent of the firearms used by felons were acquired at gun shows. Only about 1 our to 122 background checks, far less than 1 percent, are denied a purchase. If our government was serious about “ensuring people can live without fear of gun violence in their communities,” then of the approximately 80,000 applications denied annually, why are only about 40 of them prosecuted? Don’t even get me started on what the “boyfriend loophole” is.

Stop selling weapons of war and high-capacity magazines to ensure that firearms designed to kill as effectively and efficiently as possible on the battlefield aren’t used in our schools, our streets, our churches, and our concerts.” Once again, Beto displays his ignorance about the purpose of the 2nd amendment with this statement on many different levels. First, he fails to define what a “weapon of war” or “high-capacity magazine” is. There’s a reason for this. Muskets are weapons of war; or they were once. The M1 Garand and Mossberg shotgun are weapons used in war, but so are the Beretta and 1911 handguns. The evolution of firearms has always followed along the lines of military technology and one person’s “weapon of war” is another person’s hunting or sporting weapon. But, that’s all irrelevant distraction. “Weapons of war” are explicitly what the 2A protects. The “right of the people to keep and bear arms” is a direct qualifier to the right to “a well-regulated militia.” You can’t have one without the other. A militia is designed for times of war and the people who comprise the militia (“all men capable of bearing arms“) should have access to the kinds of firearms needed to fight it. Tench Coxe in 1788 answered the question about “who are the militia?” this way: “Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People.” When the government is the only entity with access to “weapons of war” what do the people do when/if the government goes to war with them?! That’s the exact question Beto hopes you never hear or have to answer. He’s counting on your ignorance. Couldn’t we also argue that starvation, taxation, tariffs, and words are also “weapons of war?”

Block the erosion of Texas’ license to carry standards by opposing Concealed Carry Reciprocity, which would force Texas to allow anyone from states with weak to nonexistent conceal carry laws to disregard our own public safety requirements.” This is about the dumbest thing I’ve heard Beto say. The problem with this line of thinking is that it treats the 2nd amendment as a second class right. I doubt very much that Beto would support states putting greater restrictions on free speech or religion, but he would agree that those rights are universal throughout the nation. Likewise, my right to be free from having troops quartered in my home; being secure in my person, papers, and effects; afforded due process; the ability to vote; and other rights covered in the Constitution are uniformly accepted throughout the country, so why not the 2A right to keep and bear arms. Setting aside the unconstitutional nature of licensing to begin with, do I not have the same right to self-defense in Florida as I do in California or Alaska? Is the Constitutional not the same one in each state? I can’t imagine Beto supporting states requiring out-of-state visitors to only visit certain churches (or not attend church at all), but that’s literally the equivalent of his line of thinking here. He believes that states should be allowed to discriminate against people’s 2A rights geographically, but no other right. Can you imagine if Georgia banned any out of state protesters from exercising their 1st amendment rights? To these statists, the 2A is a subordinate and, therefore, expendable right when compared to others. I don’t hear him complaining that every state in the Union is required to recognize every other states’ driver licenses despite different requirements among to acquiring one. So, while I don’t believe licenses should be required in any capacity, the fact they are should be accepted by every state. I have just as much of a right to defend myself in Austin, Texas, as I do in New York, New York, so why shouldn’t my Texas license be recognized just because they have more infringements on obtaining one?

Fully support federal research on gun violence so that we can better understand and address its root causes.” I can’t find this authority anywhere in Article I of our constitution. Besides, we don’t need to spend tax money on this research. There are already organizations that do this. The problem is that statists don’t like the findings which inevitably fail to support their agendas. They can’t control the narrative as long as they don’t control the research. This is what Beto really wants: to control the data so he can manipulate it to push his anti-gun agenda.

Look, owning a gun or growing up with a gun doesn’t make you pro-gun or pro-gun rights. It just means that you support YOUR right to own a gun, but no one else’s. It means you support the right to own what YOU own, not what the rest of feel comfortable with. The root problem with most liberal statists is that they project their own insecurities on everyone else. They don’t trust themselves with guns, so they can’t trust everyone else. They assume that the rest of society is as unhinged as they are and that is why they want to control them. Liberals are violent, so they assume everyone else is violent as well. When you’re a criminal yourself, you assume everyone else is just as bad as you are to a liberal. It all boils down to projection; not safety.

Skarr Body Armor Review

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to defend gun rights and freedom at a rally in Dallas. For some reason, I’ve received an uptick in violent threats since my arrest in Olmos Park. The statists aren’t happy with people who stand up instead of kneel down.

It was a beautiful day full of sunshine and a light breeze that eased the trapped heat within the concrete jungle of downtown. I had been looking into getting some concealed body armor after my buddy James Everard showed me what he typically wears and made some suggestions on what to look for. After being unlawfully tased in the back, I quickly realized that I need something that is not only bullet resistant, but stab resistant.

As I began my search, I quickly narrowed the field down to two companies: Skarr Armor’s SPV-06W vest and SafeGuard Armor’s Ghost covert armor. I had several specifications that I was looking for:

    level IIIA (up to 44 Mag)
    stab proof
    concealable (as much as possible)
    lighweight and breathable
    affordable

Ultimately, I went with the Skarr Armor. The Ghost Armor was nearly twice as expensive as Skarr and offered the same protection. So, for the first time, I suited up and made my way to Dallas. I decided to go ahead and just wear it the whole way up so that I didn’t have to fuss with it in the parking lot and also just to feel it out for comfort. 

It wasn’t restrictive and I didn’t even really notice I was wearing it. One of my worries was that because I have a shorter torso than probably most people was that it would ride up while I was sitting down. I didn’t notice that being the case at all. When I got to the parking lot, I got out and grabbed all my gear and headed towards the rally. 

It was a warm day and I was sweating, but I didn’t feel overheated in the slightest wearing the armor. In fact, I just felt the normal heat that I think everyone else was feeling. Having worn body armor for many years, I know what discomfort feels like while wearing armor in the heat and I didn’t experience that. I have worn my plate carrier at rallies outside of my clothes and felt oppressively overheated, but not with this. It was hot, but I wasn’t uncomfortable. Again, I didn’t even realize I was wearing it. A few perceptive people asked me about the armor, but others didn’t notice until someone else mentioned it. The most obvious places you can see were around the neck area where the bulged out a little probably because of my enormous pecs (/sarcasm).

Thankfully, none of the threats panned out this weekend and I survive another day. I hope I never have to test out the protection-level claims of the armor since I’m not going to shoot up my only only concealable body armor to find out if it works. I can barely afford body armor as it is, but I definitely can’t afford one to keep and one to test. I’ll be wearing the armor at other events as well to get more of a feel for it and see how it holds up over time and increasingly higher temperatures. 

You can get the same body armor at the Skarr Armor website here (no, I don’t get a finder’s fee or commission if you buy any). I highly recommend it so far. I did a LOT of walking that day wearing bags and a rifle as well as walking through a crowded NRA convention floor without feeling bulky or burdened.

You can find some great deals on outerwear tactical plate carriers and ballistic armor by visiting this blog’s parent site here.

Drones a Viable Counter-terrorism Tool That Must Be Combined with Human Know-How

Last month, Military.com reported on the development of the Gray Eagle, a new drone with a 56-foot wingspan and the ability to stay airborne for a full 24 hours. Fort Carson currently has 12 of these drones and they will soon be ready to be implemented in the ongoing war on terror.

The US Army considers drones to be a viable option for striking deep with drone operators staying close to the battlefield like a bunch of kids with remote control airplanes. But they need to carefully consider how they implement them and how they’re used.

Are drones a solid choice for counter-terrorism operations? The short answer is, yes. As Brookings.edu has wisely pointed out, they enable the military to target the enemy at little financial cost and at no risk to US forces.

While this is technically true, there are other factors to consider here. If we go on the word of Brookings’ Daniel L. Byman, drone strikes result in fewer civilian casualties than many alternative methods would cause, but that is a hard fact to confirm.

In 2016, the government claimed it had killed between 64 and 116 “non-combatants” in 473 counter-terrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya between January 2009 and the end of 2015. Credible, independent attempts to determine how many civilians the Obama administration had killed arrived at numbers in the hundreds or even thousands.

Documents obtained by The Intercept have revealed that special operations in northeastern Afghanistan killed more than 200 people, only 35 of whom were the intended targets. During a five-month period of the operation, the documents claim that almost 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.

None of this is to say that drones are not an effective weapon for combating terrorism. On the contrary, they have worked remarkably well when the military has employed them for taking out key leaders and denying terrorists sanctuaries in places like Pakistan and Somalia.

When it comes to entering enemy strongholds where intel suggests there many be a cache of radiological or biological weapons, it makes sense to target the enemy via airstrikes instead of boots on the ground, as it were.

Despite this, there is plenty of reason to believe that boots on the ground is integral to properly assessing threats. After all, a drone and its operator could never read a person’s body language up close and personal the way ground troops can.

Ground troops see things that an eye in the sky can never capture—they can see humanity, they can see someone subtly surrendering or informing them that there are children in a building with a target. These are things that drones will never do. At least, the odds are against it.

There is also the issue of drone failure or disruption; as we’ve seen with hobbyist drones here in the States, drones can collide with aircrafts as one did with an Army helicopter in New York City. These are all things that the military should be considering before deploying drones for special operations.

Special Weapons and Tactics Teams are typically armed with some variant of a 10mm pistol. Although such handguns are effective in common self-defense situations, they aren’t ideal for a SHTF scenario like the ones we face in broad combat environment. If you’re pinned down by ISIS in some Syrian s**thole, a pistol’s not gonna do you any good.

You’ve got a rifle, you say? So do they.

This is when drones could assist in an operation, but it’s important that they be implemented in concert with the human element of ground troops. It’s also imperative that we take note of what we’re up against. We’re not the only ones with drone capabilities.

ISIS have made their own mini-kamikaze fleet of drones; last year, factories built to modify UAVs were found in liberated regions of Mosul, pointing to an “increasing use by ISIS of weaponized drones,” said James Bevan, executive director of Conflict Armament Research.

In August of 2017, a suspected ISIS plot involving a drone attack on a Turkish air base used by the US Air Force was foiled when Turkish authorities nabbed a Russian national suspected of being an Islamic militant.

They have even used these drones to guide car bombs in addition to dropping explosives. The growing availability of commercial drones means that almost anyone can get their hands on one, often for very little money. This poses another conundrum altogether as homeland security needs to ponder the very real possibility of ISIS converts purchasing them on American soil for the express purpose of harming US citizens or authorities.

Defense Department spending plans portend a rise in funding for robotic systems in the coming years, according to a recent report by the Bard College Center for the Study of the Drone. The president’s 2018 defense budget has increased funding for research which suggests that he’s got his finger on the pulse.

With any luck, the boys in charge will place emphasis on studying and strategizing rather than rushing to send our the Gray Eagles when they’re ready for commission.

Democrats Sit Out American Values

Here is a summary of the State of the Union address last night.

Democrats won’t stand for the lowest black unemployment rate ever recorded? Even the CBC didn’t stand. They won’t stand for largest tax cut ever? #DemocratsSit.

Trump says terminal patients should be able to try life-saving treatments. #DemocratsSit.

Trump says Americans will start seeing more money in their pockets. #DemocratsSit.

Trump says we all share the same American flag. Half of Democrats won’t even stand for that.

Trump repeats our motto, In God we trust, and godless #DemocratsSit.

Trump talks about standing for our national anthem. #DemocratsSit.

Trump says he fired over 1000 VA employees who were not taking care of our veterans. #DemocratsSit.

Trump said he wants to reduce the price of prescription drugs. Even looks at Democrats. #DemocratsSit.

Trump says he expects trade agreements to be fair and reciprocal. #DemocratsSit.

Trump says he’s asking both parties in Congress to pass a bill to give us fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure. #DemocratsSit.

Trump says he wants to open vocational schools (despite the federal government having no business being involved in education and all) to help teach children a trade. Democrats love bug government, public brainwashing. #DemocratsSit

Trump expresses his condolences to a family in attendance who lost their children because of illegal immigrant gangs. #DemocratsSit

Trump says that Americans are dreamers too. #DemocratsSit

Trump says we need to work on an immigration reform package that is acceptable to both parties. #DemocratsSit

Trump says we should move to a merit-based immigration system where we admit people who have skills, are willing to work, and contribute to society. #DemocratsSit

Trump says he wants to put America first. #DemocratsSit

Trump hails the progress made against Isis in taking away nearly 100% of their territory. #DemocratsSit

Trump says that money for foreign assistance should only go to countries that are friends of America and have our best interests at heart. #DemocratsSit

Trump says that he stands with the Iranian people who are taking a stand for freedom. #DemocratsSit

The National Hearing Protection Act Should Be Music to Gun Lovers’ Ears

Gun lovers hear it all the time from people who didn’t grow up around firearms. “They’re so loud!” Fortunately for those with sensitive hearing, guns can be made quieter by using a device known as a suppressor.

Suppressors cut down on the sound and sight of muzzle blast by reducing the noise signature and visible flash. Their internal baffle components work to slow and cool down the gas which escapes when a gun is fired.

A common misconception is that suppressors completely silence a gun. In reality, this is not the case. Rather, a suppressor brings the decibel of gunfire down to a safer hearing level. By taking the decibel level down from around 180 to approximately 140 decibels, suppressors protect one against irreparable hearing loss.

On the downside, obtaining a suppressor requires some red tape at this time. Gun owners have to fill out a lot of paperwork and spend a bit of money to get their hands on a suppressor. That’s because suppressors are currently regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Luckily, a bill has been introduced in the House and Senate to change all this. The National Hearing Protection Act of 2017 seeks to eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers and treat any person who acquires a suppressor as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with regard to said suppressor.

The National Hearing Protection Act would limit regulation to simply passing a background check before one can purchase a suppressor. Naturally, one might wonder why the bill hasn’t been passed yet given that it seems like an easy fix. The problem is that the House and Senate are bombarded with bills for all sorts of things and the focus has largely been on tax reform and health care reform.

The bill was introduced on January 9th of 2017 and was swiftly referred to the Committee on Ways and Means as well as the Committee on the Judiciary, after which it was referred to the House Ways and Means…after which is was referred to the House Judiciary. Finally, on February 6th, it landed on the desk of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

There, it has stagnated ever since, but several organizations have stepped up to take action and get the legislation passed. The American Suppressor Association, Fight the Noise, Change.org and many other notable groups have come out in support of the bill.

They have turned to the public, imploring them to let their voices be heard by signing online petitions. Last year, the bill had 100 sponsors in the House.

The bill was tucked into the bipartisan Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, legislation that would cover everything from recreational fishing law and polar bear conservation to the elimination of authority to reclassify popular rifle ammo as “armor piercing ammunition.”

The National Hearing Protection Act has attracted consternation from Democrats and gun control groups. This controversy reached a fever pitch in the immediate aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. As with most of the anti-gun gun rhetoric, the bill was slammed as posing a risk to public safety.

Opponents of the legislation falsely suggested that making suppressors readily accessible would make it more difficult for law enforcement to identify where gunshots are coming from, particularly in the event of a mass shooting.

But those of us who have worked in the field already know that criminals do not use suppressors, not because they aren’t available on the black market but because they add six to eight inches to the end of a barrel, making the gun harder to conceal.

Furthermore, the company behind ShotSpotter technology have already found that they are able to pick up on suppressed fire with their software, suggesting that they can easily tweak their program to identify muffled gunfire.

Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and John Carter (R-TX) who proposed the bill have been vocal about their intent and it has nothing to do with placing anyone in danger. On the contrary, their agenda is aimed at saving hunters as well as their hunting dogs from developing hearing loss.

As Rep. Duncan has said, “My hearing has been damaged because of gun noise. Had I had access to a suppressor, it may have protected me, as well as millions of other Americans, from this sort of hearing loss.”

For those who want to see this bill become a reality, the right thing to do is to contact one’s local congressman. To find out their contact info, visit congress.gov for their phone number and email address.

Before one becomes defeatist about the bill lying dormant for so long, it is important to keep in mind that the National Hearing Protection Act remains in the top ten bills viewed by the public, a fact that no doubts catches the attention of the House.

As we wait for the wheels of justice to slowly turn in our favor, there are plenty of options for protecting your hearing when using firearms. Noise reduction devices like electronic earmuffs and noise canceling hearing protectors are widely available online. Some websites that offer ear and eye protection also provide a military discount and giveaways.

At present, the bill has 141 co-sponsors in the House. That’s in spite of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s attempts at shelving the bill for good. And those numbers can grow if we the people apply appropriate pressure.

Texas and the Road to Secession

Texas has always embodied a fierce sense of independence that goes back to times before westerners settled it. Its rural and vast lands served as a home to tribal natives that valued their independence and typically resisted any efforts to encroach upon its territory. After Spain colonized modern-day Mexico, it moved into the Texas territory where it came in conflict with the French in the eastern parts of the state. In 1820, Mexico declared its independence from Spain which included the Texas territory, marking the first infusion of the spirit of resistance to centralized power. Fifteen years after Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Texas began the process of attaining its own independence from Mexico and in another ten years it would join the United States as the 28th state. Sixteen years after joining the Union, it would vote to secede and join the Confederacy. Texas was a unique state with a diverse population, eclectic history, and physical features that has contributed greatly to this spirit throughout history.

Before delving into the reasons why Texas voted for disunion, it’s important to understand some background that contributed to this fateful decision. The main issue of slavery was rooted in Texas since well before its founding when Stephen Austin successfully got the Mexican government to grant the territory an exception to the recently passed abolition of slavery throughout the country in 1829. The constitution of 1836 after Texas declared its independence specifically protected the ownership within the states and prohibited Congress from passing any laws that prevented immigrants from their slaves with them. The only way to free slaves was to petition the Texian Congress or ship them out of the state for emancipation. This paper analyzes the reasons for and against seceding from the Union and then joining the Confederacy from a social, economic, military, and political perspective.

The road to Texas secession wasn’t as clear cut as many believe. The diversity of the state contributed to wide divisions about the decision to leave the Union. Contrary to popular opinion, there was a huge population of people that were opposed to secession who may have had their votes and views suppressed. Texans were very opinionated, involved in state politics, and independent. The citizenry was composed of a majority of immigrants, both American and from foreign countries. In fact, only a quarter of those that lived in Texas in 1860 were born there and a third of the population was from Southern states. These immigrants brought with them their slaves which would be a major contributing factor in secession. The number of immigrants that lived in Texas was unparalleled in any other Southern state. With such an eclectic diversity of population, delving into the history of how it was possible that secession was overwhelmingly popular in nearly all quarters of the state.

Texas was no stranger to conflict having survived as both an independent nation and a state, it had had to deal with threats from Mexico and native Indian tribes. As the largest state in the Union, Texas had already displayed an extraordinary ability to handle violence and respond in kind. The influx of Northerners into the state began to plant more seeds of discontent in the state. The Texas Democrat Party Convention in 1860 added more fuel to the fire by laying out in no uncertain terms its support for slavery and opposition to anything that stood in its way. Despite their seemingly irrational stance, the platform did not gain much opposition because of going slave revolts, Indian attacks, and unrest along the southern Texas border. Extraterritorial issues like the Harper’s Ferry Raid and violence in Kansas steeled up support for protecting the state.

It is not surprising why delegates to the convention were more predisposed to leaving the Union to protect the institution of slavery. The median age of delegates was about 40 years old and 83% of them were under the age of 50. The ages of delegates no doubt played an important role since most of them were too young to remember or had taken part in either the Texas Revolution or were involved in the process of annexation from the beginning. Almost 91% of them were born in slave holding states. The remaining delegates were either foreign born or from free states. Not a single delegate was born in either Texas or the Republic of Texas.

The decision to secede from the Union was a contentious, though nearly unanimous, one in a state that prized its independent nature. Sam Houston himself cautioned delegates and citizens alike against secession and joining the Confederacy. Houston was a staunch Unionist and refused to pledge his allegiance to the Confederacy after the secession vote passed successfully in Austin. Houston sat whittling a piece of wood when his name was called four times to respond to annexation and the convention ruled that his seat was vacant. So strong was the mood in favor of secession that when one delegate, Senator James Webb Throckmorton, stood to vote against secession, an individual in the chamber gallery hissed at him. In response, Throckmorton uttered the famous retort that “when the rabble hiss, may well patriots tremble.” Throckmorton was one of Houston’s few Unionist supporters in the legislature. Though he opposed secession, Houston believed that the people should have a final say in whether the state left the union, not elected bureaucrats. He frequently chastised those whose voices were the loudest fighting for secession as men who had never sacrificed anything for liberty and were suddenly using it as a rallying call.

The Declaration of Causes presented the arguments and justification for leaving the Union. Chief among the complaints in the document was the preservation of slavery and a belief that the federal government had failed to live up to its promises fifteen years earlier when Texas joined the Union. Another complaint was that Texans felt abandoned to deal with threats alone against continued invasions by Mexico and violent raids by Indian tribes. There is no mincing words in the Declaration of Causes nor room for ambiguity. It makes clear that slavery was the number one issue that caused it to secede. Texas was admitted to the Union knowing that it would be a slave state. It was not forced to abolish that practice at the time and many Texans were not happy that President Lincoln, a northern abolitionist, was elected. They feared that the election would lead to the “peculiar institution” of slavery being banned and they were right. The state felt as if the promise granted to them upon statehood had been broken. Fifteen years after being admitted as a state, Texas was still having to deal with Mexican and Indian violence. Texans believed that the federal government wasn’t doing anything about these encroachments upon the land and were having to defend their own territory without its assistance. This is one of the reasons that many in Texas believed it could succeed simply reverting to an independent republic. Delegates already felt as if the North and South were separate nations with little in common beyond the constitution, which they felt was being violated in many ways.

So strong was the idea of popular sovereignty that most Texans who voted to secede did not want to join the Confederacy, but were determined to instead revert to their status as an independent nation so that they could govern themselves. Paul Pollard notes that those who argued for remaining in the Union remembered how fervently excited their fellow Texans were to become a state. Generally, Texans from the “upper south” were opposed to secession while “lower south” Texans were more favorable. Walter Buenger divided Texans’ support of secession into four groups: those who supported secession prior to the 1860 crisis; those who were spurred into support by the election of Abraham Lincoln; Texans who agreed with the convention declaration passed on February 23, 1861; and those who never supported secession. In his master’s thesis, Jimmie Hicks breaks down political sentiments into just three groups: those who supported “Southern Rights” and swift secession in the event Lincoln wins election; those who agree with the “Southern Rights” argument of the previous group but believed that such rights should be defended in the Union to the greatest extent possible; and unionists that disagreed with secession completely as extra-constitutional. For his part, Governor Sam Houston cautioned the convention to engage in a “calm deliberation” before making any final decisions. He noted that none of Texas’s neighbors had seceded and it would be more beneficial to try working with them to force the federal government’s hand to recognize the “constitutional rights” of Southern states.

When all the votes were counted, Texans voted by a three-to-one margin in favor of leaving the Union. Texan immigrants from the Upper Southern states tended to vote in favor of remaining in the Union, while those from the Lower Southern states, which had more in common with the Southern, cotton-planting states, voted for disunion. Immigrants and Mexicans were divided over the issue. This trend wasn’t absolute. Teresa York analyzed why Angelina County voted against secession despite the pro-secession proclivities of its surrounding counties. She found that wealth probably paid a part in why Texans voted against secession since they were less likely to own much land or slaves.

Matthew Hamilton’s research into the extremely pro-slavery attitude in Brazoria County supports York’s thesis. He found that Brazoria County was the most valuable farmland in Texas at the time. Some of the largest owners of land in Texas were in Brazoria County, which meant they owned a large number of slaves to produce its prized cotton. Unionists almost immediately began protesting the vote as fraudulent and rife with intimidation, outright voter suppression, and violence on the part of secessionists. Many innocent people were roped in to the conspiracy theories of slave uprisings and either whipped or lynched. Public outcry was growing but, as one Fort Worth citizen wrote, it didn’t matter how many suspicious men were hung as long as they didn’t let a single guilty man go free.

Dale Baum balks at suggestions that the secession referendum was skewed by voter fraud. In analyzing the data from the 1861 vote, he compared the disunion tallies with the number of votes for the Democratic candidate in the previous presidential election since Democrats were the loudest voices for secession. He did find evidence that suggested voter fraud was present, but not to such a degree that would have swayed the overall outcome of the referendum. Baum identified several counties where it seemed obvious voter fraud played a significant role in altering the vote totals in favor of disunion, but he also found several other counties where the exact opposite result was reached. In Cameron County, armed men were stationed at polling places where unionists were given “friendly warnings” to leave or refrain from voting. He concluded that even though evidence is present that disunionists played a role in vote tallies for secession, there was too much evidence of higher than normal votes for remaining in the Union in most of the counties where cries of fraud were loudest.

Walter Buenger suggests that the real reason voters cast ballots so overwhelmingly in support of disunion was because Democrat opponents, Upper South Texans, Texans in rural areas, and minorities simply were not organized well enough nor as united to make a difference. This nearly unanimous support for secession came as a surprise to at least one delegate from South Carolina who was confused about how a state with an ardent unionist governor, limited number of slaves in comparison to other southern states, and in which most of its land was still a vast frontier would decide to secede and join the Confederacy. In fact, it seemed as if Texas was not even paying attention to the issue of slavery in the years leading up to secession. As a Senator, Sam Houston never fully considered himself as a Southerner or Northerner. During the Oregon territory debate in Congress, Houston proclaimed that his only focus was on the Union and the constitution. Despite the opposition from many unionists, once the convention had made the decision and the voters had agreed to the referendum, most of them recognized that the “die is cast” and joined the fight. Before the provisional government had even voted by a 109 to 2 margin to be admitted into the southern Union, the Confederate Congress had already passed a resolution to admit Texas.

Secession seemed to be a foregone conclusion beginning in the mid-1850s. Northern states were becoming increasingly hostile to the institution of slavery and passing laws that made it difficult to expand the practice. New states were being admitted into the Union where slavery was illegal, which caused those in the South to worry that their interests were not being represented in Washington. By 1860, the decision to secede was overwhelmingly approved by both the Texas legislature and the voz populi. While the voting appears to be nearly unanimous, a closer inspection of the atmosphere surrounding the issue reveals that violence, intimidation, and disenfranchisement likely played a role. However, even taking these threats into account, the decision to secede would likely still have passed with a vast majority of support.

CJ Grisham, 1SG (Ret), US Army
Historian’s Craft
Texas A&M – Central Texas
Warriors
Fall 2017 Semester

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Baum, Dale. “Pinpointing Apparent Fraud in the 1861 Texas Secession Referendum.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Autumn, 1991): 201-221.

Buenger, Walter L. “Stilling the Voice of Reason: Texans and the Union, 1854-1861.” PhD diss., Rice University, 1979.

———, Secession and the Union in Texas. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1984.

Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

De Bruhl, Marshall. Sword of San Jacinto: A Life of Sam Houston. New York: Random House, 1993.

Declaration of Causes. February 2, 1861. Austin: Texas Library and Historical Commission.

Grear, Charles D. Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State’s Military History. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012.

———, The Fate of Texas: The Civil War and the Lone Star State. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2008.

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