Updated on March 28, 2020
This week, we filed our lawsuit against Olmos Park Police Chief Rene Valenciano, his henchmen, and the City of Olmos Park. Here is a copy of the complaint. For questions or comments, please contact my attorneys. To see the video of events described herein,
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SAN ANTONIO DIVISION
CHRISTOPHER GRISHAM; JAMES
RENE VALENCIANO; J. LOPEZ;
HECTOR RUIZ; A. VIERA; CITY OF
Solomon M. Radner
Attorney for Plaintiff
26700 Lahser Road,
Southfield, MI 48033 (866) 939-2656
COMPLAINT AND JURY DEMAND
Plaintiffs, CHRISTOPHER GRISHAM and JAMES EVERARD, by and through their attorneys, EXCOLO LAW, PLLC, complaining of Defendants, respectfully allege as follows:
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
1. This is a civil rights action in which Plaintiffs seek relief for the violation of their rights secured by 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
2. Jurisdiction of this Court is found upon 28 U.S.C. § 1331 since this action arises under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
3. Venue is proper in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas because the majority of events complained of occurred in this district.
4. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and other applicable laws, the Court may award nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages, as well as equitable relief against all of the Defendants in their individual capacity, for the violations of Plaintiffs Constitutional rights and harm caused by their actions/inactions.
5. Plaintiff, CHRISTOPHER GRISHAM, (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Grisham”), is a law-abiding citizen of the State of Texas.
6. Plaintiff, JAMES EVERARD, (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Everard”), is a law-abiding citizen of the State of Texas.
7. Upon information and belief, all defendants are Texas residents and are being sued in their individual, supervisory, and/or Official capacities as permitted by law.
8. Defendant, RENE VALENCIANO, (herein after Defendant Valenciano or Defendant police chief Valenciano) was a Texas resident at all times relevant to this complaint and acted as a direct supervisor to City of Olmos Police Department employees as the Chief of police. He is being sued in his individual, supervisory, and official capacity.
9. Defendant, OFFICER J. LOPEZ, was a Texas resident at all times relevant to this complaint and acted as an Olmos Police Officer. He is being sued in his individual capacity.
10. Defendant, HECTOR RUIZ, was a Texas resident at all times relevant to this complaint and acted as an Olmos Police Officer. He is being sued in his individual capacity.
11. Defendant. A. VIERA was a Texas resident at all times relevant to this complaint and acted as an Olmos Police Officer. He is being sued in his individual capacity.
12. Defendant, CITY OF OLMOS PARK, is a municipality in the State of Texas.
13. On March 26, 2018, Plaintiff Grisham called Olmos Park Police and asked whether he would be approached by police if he or others were open carrying their firearms. He was assured by Chief of Police Defendant Valenciano that Plaintiffs and others who were open carrying pursuant to Texas state law would not be approached by police officers.
14. On March 27, 2018, Plaintiffs were walking on public sidewalk while open carrying. Plaintiff Grisham had a handgun strapped to his waist, and Plaintiff Everard had an unloaded rifle slung across his chest. Plaintiffs were both holding video cameras and recording the public view.
15. Upon information and belief, a witness called 911 and explained that someone was carrying a gun. The witness further explained that the men carrying the guns did not seem dangerous; rather, they looked like they just wanted the attention. The 911 dispatcher said something to the effect of “those are the second amendment people.”
16. Prior to arriving on the scene, the Olmos Park officers were made aware the call was regarding “the second amendment people.” Officers arrived, and Plaintiffs began recording the interaction with the officers.
17. Defendant Officer Lopez began yelling at Plaintiff Everard stating, “lay on the ground and disarm yourself or we will fucking disarm you.” At this point, Plaintiff Grisham moved to the corner where Plaintiff Everard was standing, and he continued to film the interaction with the officers from that angle. Several other citizens were recording this interaction as well. Several cars drove past the scene. At one point, a lady stopped to chat with Plaintiff Grisham, and a bicyclist casually strolled past the scene. An image of the scene can be found below.
18. Plaintiff Everard continued to ask the officers what crime he had committed. When asked to lay on the ground, he said he would comply if he was told why he was being detained.
19. Then, Defendant Valenciano and Defendant Officer Viera approach Plaintiffs. At this point, Defendant Officer Viera begins reaching for Grisham. Here, Grisham placed his hands in the air and took several steps back. Defendant Valenciano, without prior warning, shot Plaintiff Grisham with his taser while Defendant Viera shoved Plaintiff in his chest. An image of the scene can be found below.
20. The tasing caused Plaintiff Grisham to fall backward onto the pavement and smack his head on the pavement. Soon thereafter, it becomes apparent Plaintiff is bleeding and seriously injured. Plaintiff Grisham suffered a concussion and a serious abrasion to the back of his head. An image of the scene can be found below.
21. While Plaintiff Grisham is being assaulted by Defendant Valenciano and Defendant Viera, Plaintiff Everard is placed under arrest by Defendant Officer Ruiz. Once Defendant Ruiz had Plaintiff Everard cuffed, he took Plaintiff Everard’s camera and threw it into the street. Then, Defendant Officer Ruiz pushed Plaintiff Everard onto his knees. Once Plaintiff Everard was on his knees, Defendant Valenciano and Defendant Ruiz shoved Plaintiff Everard face first into the pavement for no lawful reason. Images from the scene can be found below.
22. Defendant Officers Lopez and Viera attempted to lift Plaintiff Grisham to his feet. Clearly disoriented and bleeding from the head, Plaintiff Grisham was unable to gain solid footing. In response, Defendant Officer Lopez and Defendant Officer Viera dragged Plaintiff by his arms and legs to the police car. Soon after EMS arrived and Defendant Valenciano waived them away, denying medical treatment for Plaintiff’s serious injuries. An image of the scene can be found below.
23. Valenciano had witnessed Plaintiff Grisham struggle to gain his footing, and saw that Plaintiff had to be dragged to the police vehicle. Nevertheless, he waived away EMS, who could have provided Plaintiff Grisham with the needed medical Care. Defendant Valenciano then directed Defendant Officers to take a longer route back to the police station in order to further delay Plaintiff Grisham’s necessary medical treatment.
24. Plaintiff Grisham suffered a serious abrasion to his head, a concussion, aggravated
PTSD symptoms, and chronic migraines due to his injuries.
25. Due to being thrown to the ground and face shoved into pavement, Plaintiff Everard suffered a fractured wrist and a serious shoulder injury. Thereafter, Plaintiff Everard underwent shoulder surgery to repair the damage caused by the unlawful arrest.
26. When Defendant Valenciano removed Plaintiff Everard from the squad car, he used excessive force causing injury, ligament damage to Plaintiff’s wrist and his hand. Valenciana used force on Everard once again when he asked about Plaintiff Grisham’s injuries.
27. After Defendants arrested Plaintiffs, Defendant Valenciano called over the radio that he has “squashed the rebels.”
28. Once Defendant Officers had Plaintiff’s detained at the police station, they proceeded to destroy Plaintiffs’ property. Specifically, the SD cards from the videocamera and GoPro and cellphones of both Plaintiffs were deleted.
29. Moreover, officers made false statements that Everard’s gun was loaded, that Mr. Everard’s gun was equipped with armor piercing ammunition, a felony in Texas, and that Mr. Everard refused to display his identification. None of these statements are true. Mr. Everard had done nothing unlawful.
30. While at the station, Plaintiff Everard was held at taser point and forced into leg shackles while being called derogatory names such as “retard” by Defendant Officers.
31. Plaintiffs were both held in a small room for 8 hours in handcuffs and shackles.
One officer tried to remove the shackles once they arrived at the station, per standard practice, but Defendant Chief Valenciano required the shackles remain on Plaintiffs. At no point were Plaintiffs combative or a flight risk to Defendants. The shackles were not used for legitimate safety reasons, instead Chief did so for maximum pain and discomfort as well as humiliation. The shackles were tight and caused pain to Plaintiffs.
32. Plaintiffs were refused food, phone calls, and answers to their questions. Several officers intentionally ate food in front of Plaintiffs.
33. Plaintiff Grisham requested and was denied a phone call to his attorney.
34. When they were finally transferred to San Antonio, they were held as taser point and in full physical restraints, to sign their property paperwork.
35. Upon information and belief, Defendant Officers were acting or otherwise responding to the scene pursuant ordinance 24-84. This order is unconstitutional and is superseded by state law.
36. There is a lengthy history of Olmos Officers harassing Second Amendment demonstrators. In fact, several other videos online depict similar instances of police misconduct being perpetrated by some of the same officers who were present and involved in the March 27, 2018 incident.
37. Plaintiff Grisham was charged with Interference with Duties of a Public Servant,
Obstruction of a Passageway/Roadway, Resisting Arrest, and Assault.
38. Plaintiff Everard was charged with Interference with Duties of a Public Servant,
Obstruction of a Passageway/Roadway, and Disorderly Conduct.
39. Two days later, on March 29, 2018, Olmos City Council repealed ordinance 24-84, explaining that it violated state law.
40. Later, all charges against Plaintiffs were dropped.
41. Upon information and belief, the Olmos Park police department, its Officers, and Defendant Police Chief Valenciano have communicated with other surrounding police departments in an effort to stop Second Amendment activists from exercising their first Amendment rights.
42. Upon information and belief, Defendant Chief Valenciano and Defendant officers have constructed and carried out plans to get Second Amendment activists off of the public sidewalk.
43. Olmos Park Officers are trained to forcefully pressure second amendment
protestors to stop protesting even when protestors are compliant with state and federal law.
44. On multiple occasions, Defendants have cited Second Amendment activists with bogus charges. Such charges are typically dropped prior to trial as they are meritless.
COUNT I VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Fourth Amendment – Excessive Force)
45. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in
all prior allegations.
46. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of State law.
47. Defendants use of force was objectively unreasonable.
48. Defendants never gave Plaintiffs a lawful order. Defendants did not have reasonable suspicion to detain Plaintiffs. Defendants did not have probable cause to arrest plaintiffs.
49. At no point did Plaintiff Everard resist officers. Nevertheless, officers unreasonably cuffed and shoved Plaintiff Everard. Plaintiff Everard never exhibited any signs of violence, nor did officers suspect Plaintiff Everard of being a violent criminal.
50. Defendants acted unreasonable when they tased and shoved Plaintiff Grisham for backing away from an officer who was unlawfully attempting to detain or otherwise seize Plaintiff Grisham. Plaintiff Grisham exhibited no signs of violence, and he was not suspected of being a violent criminal. Defendants used unreasonable force when holding Plaintiff’s at taser point once
in full body restraints.
51. Defendants were not in a high-pressure situation that would require split second decisions.
52. Defendants used so much force on Plaintiffs so as to cause Plaintiff Grisham to sustain a concussion and a serious abrasion to his head.
53. Defendants used so much force on Plaintiff Everard that they broke his wrist and caused him a significant shoulder injury for which he may be required to receive surgery for.
54. At all times relevant, Defendants were required to obey the laws of the United States.
55. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right to be free from excessive force of this nature.
56. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and/or grossly negligently used excessive force on Plaintiffs.
57. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for their physical, mental, and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment.
COUNT II VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Fourth Amendment – Unlawful Arrest)
58. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in all prior paragraphs.
59. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of state law.
60. Defendants acted unreasonably and unlawfully when they arrest Plaintiffs absent probable cause.
61. A reasonably officer in the Defendants’ situation would have understood that probable cause did not exist for an arrest.
62. At all times relevant, Defendants were required to obey the laws of the United
63. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right to be free from arrest absent probable cause.
64. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and/or grossly negligently furthered malicious prosecution against Plaintiffs.
65. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for their mental, emotional, and physical injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
COUNT III VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (First Amendment – Unlawfully Preventing Protected Conduct)
66. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in all prior paragraphs.
67. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of state law.
68. Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to be present on public sidewalks.
69. Plaintiffs have a statutory right to be present on public sidewalks in Texas while open carrying a firearm.
70. Plaintiffs were engaged in constitutionally protected conduct when they were recording while open carrying on a public sidewalk.
71. Defendants tased, shoved, and arrested Plaintiffs while they were exercising their First Amendment right to record officers on a public sidewalk.
72. Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, and/or unreasonably prevented Plaintiffs from recording police officers conducting their duties.
73. Plaintiffs had a clearly established constitutional right to record the police.
74. The Defendants’ acts deprived Plaintiffs of the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to citizens of the United States by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
75. As a proximate cause of the illegal and unconstitutional acts of the Defendants,
Plaintiffs were harmed and suffered damages as a result.
COUNT IV VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (First Amendment – Retaliation for Protected Conduct)
76. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in all prior paragraphs.
77. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of state law.
78. Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to be present on public sidewalks.
79. Plaintiffs have a statutory right to be present on public sidewalks in Texas while open carrying a firearm.
80. Plaintiffs were engaged in constitutionally protected conduct when they were recording while open carrying on a public sidewalk.
81. Defendants have frequently targeted Plaintiffs and others engaged in similar displays as Plaintiffs.
82. In retaliation for engaging in protected conduct, Defendants arrested Plaintiffs for carrying firearms and recording the public view on a public sidewalk.
83. Officers had no knowledge or information that would lead a reasonable officer in their situation to believe that there was probable cause to arrest Plaintiffs.
84. At all times relevant, Defendants were required to obey the laws of the United States.
85. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and grossly negligently retaliated against Plaintiffs for engaging in protected conduct.
86. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for their physical, mental, and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
COUNT V VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Fourth Amendment – Unlawful Search and Seizure)
87. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in all prior paragraphs.
88. At all times relevant here in, Defendants were acting under color of state law.
89. Defendants did not have reasonable suspicion to stop Plaintiffs.
90. Defendants never gave Plaintiffs a lawful order.
91. Defendants did not have probable cause to arrest and search Plaintiffs items.
92. At all times relevant Defendants were required to obey the laws of the United States.
93. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right to be free from unlawful search and seizures of this nature.
94. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and/or grossly negligently unlawfully searched and seized Plaintiffs.
95. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for their physical, mental, and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
COUNT VI VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Failure to Intervene)
96. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in
all prior allegations.
97. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of State law.
98. Defendants observed excessive force and other constitutional violations being committed by their counterparts.
99. Defendants had the opportunity and the means to prevent harm from occurring.
100. Defendants stood by and let the harm unfold.
101. The events did not unfold over a matter of moments, giving defendants ample opportunity and time to intervene.
102. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right to be free from state actors’ failure to intervene.
103. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and/or grossly negligently allowed their fellow officers to use excessive force against Plaintiffs and otherwise violate Plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights.
104. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for their physical, mental, and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
COUNT VII VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Fourteenth Amendment – Deprivation of Property)
105. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in
all prior allegations.
106. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of State law.
107. Defendants deprived Plaintiffs of their property without due process of law when they threw and destroyed Defendant Everard’s camera, when they wiped the memory cards of Plaintiffs’ go pro, and cellphones.
108. Defendants seized and destroyed Plaintiffs’ property without a court order, or without a hearing where Plaintiffs’ could be meaningfully heard.
109. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right not to have their property seized and destroyed absent a warrant or court order.
110. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and/or grossly negligently deprived Plaintiffs’ of their property without due process of law.
111. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for the loss of their property as well as their physical, mental, and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
COUNT VIII VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Fourteenth Amendment – Failure to Provide Medical Care)
112. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in
all prior allegations.
113. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of State law.
114. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires state officials to provide medical care to individuals injured in their custody.
115. As discussed herein, both Plaintiffs were severely injured by the force used by Defendants.
116. Instead of promptly providing medical attention, Defendant Chief Valenciano waved away the EMS vehicle and first responders who had arrived at the scene to take Plaintiffs to the hospital. They were told to keep it moving instead of providing treatment. After denying proper medical attention, Defendant Valenciano later instructs his officers to take a longer than necessary route, for no reason other than to prolong Plaintiffs suffering.
117. At the police station, Defendant Valenciano ordered WMS to stay back and not provide care to Plaintiff Grisham who was nearly passing out. He could not stand up on his own nor did he know the date.
118. Defendant Valenciano intentionally delayed, denied, and interfered with medical treatment when Plaintiffs were obviously severely injured.
119. Defendants’ acts and omissions demonstrate deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs serous medical needs in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
120. As a proximate result of the illegal and unconstitutional acts of Defendants, Plaintiff was harmed and suffered damages for his physical, mental, emotional injury and pain, fright and shock, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
121. As a proximate result of the illegal and unconstitutional acts of Defendants, Plaintiff was harmed and suffered damages for his physical, mental, emotional injury and pain, fright and shock, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
COUNT IX VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Malicious Prosecution)
122. Plaintiffs restate and incorporate by reference each and every allegation set forth in all prior paragraphs.
123. At all times relevant herein, Defendants were acting under color of state law.
124. Defendants played an integral part in the prosecution of Plaintiffs when the cited
Plaintiffs with tickets that were wholly unsupported by any legal basis or probable cause.
125. Defendants prosecuted Plaintiffs with malice when they cited Plaintiffs despite any legal basis to do so in order to stop Plaintiffs from exercising their First Amendment and statutorily protected rights.
126. Defendants prosecuted Plaintiffs with malice when they made false statements regarding the conduct of Plaintiffs and the ammunition possessed by Plaintiffs.
127. Defendants demonstrated malice in prosecuting Plaintiffs through various other dishonest actions previously stated.
128. Defendants did not have probable cause for citing Plaintiffs because Defendants never had reasonable suspicion to stop Plaintiffs, Defendants never gave Plaintiffs a lawful order, and Plaintiffs never engaged in any conduct which a reasonable officer would believe gave him or her probable cause to cite Plaintiffs.
129. Plaintiffs’ proceedings terminated in their favor.
130. At all times relevant, Defendants were required to obey the laws of the United States.
131. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right to be free from malicious prosecution.
132. At all times relevant, Defendants intentionally, knowingly, maliciously, recklessly, unreasonably, and/or grossly negligently furthered malicious prosecution against Plaintiffs.
133. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damages for their physical, mental and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.
MUNICIPAL LIABILITY 42 U.S.C. § 1983
134. Defendants Officers actions, and the actions of the Olmos Park Police Department in previous open carry instances demonstrate a policy practice or custom to deprive Plaintiffs and other open carry activists of their first amendment rights. On multiple occasions, individual Defendants and the Olmos Park police department have detained, arrested, or otherwise charged Second Amendment activists for open carrying per Texas State Law.
135. Time and time again, Defendants have cited second amendment activists with meritless charges, only to have these charges dropped prior to trial.
136. Despite the fact that these charges are frequently dropped, Defendants continue to cite Second Amendment activists in hopes to curtail the activists from exercising their First Amendment Rights.
137. Defendants’ actions and inactions constitute an impermissible policy practice or
custom that deprive Plaintiffs of their right to be free from retaliation for protected conduct.
138. At all times relevant, Plaintiffs had a clearly established right to be free from unlawful policies, practices, and customs.
139. Ordinance 24-84 was unlawful as it conflicted with Texas law permitting the open carry of fire arms. Thus, it was an unlawful policy or custom which was the moving force behind Plaintiffs’ injuries.
140. The City Council is a final policy maker for Defendant City.
141. Even if Ordinance 24-84 was not unlawful, it was an officially adopted policy that had plainly obviously consequences resulting in a constitutional violation.
142. Further, the City had notice of such recurring constitutional violations stemming from Ordinance 24-84.
143. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant City’s unlawful actions, Plaintiffs suffered damage for their physical, mental, and emotional injury, and for pain, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs, Christopher Grisham and James Everard, demands judgment and prays for the following relief, jointly and severally, against all Defendants.
a. Full and fair compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by a jury;
b. Punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a Jury;
c. Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of this action; and
d. Any such other relief as appears just and proper.
Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by jury of all issues so triable, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
Updated on March 13, 2020
If you’re a conservative – and especially if you’re a conservative student – you know that higher education is packed with liberalism and leftist ideologies. It’s everywhere. It’s pervasive. And it’s doing a disservice to society. It’s not just conservatives that have problems when they leave the service and make a commitment to achieve or complete a college degree.
Just prior to retiring from the Army, I decided to go back to school. It wasn’t entirely of my own desire. As I was transitioning, I conducted many very promising interviews with companies interested in my skills as a counterintelligence special agent. Because my main function was the protection of our country’s most sensitive and classified information, I interviewed with several companies to safeguard their trade secrets, manage their security operations, or work in project management. The interviews went well and would everything was pointing to a quick and easy transition into civilian life, except…
Keep on reading!
Posted on March 11, 2020
I finally shut down my Facebook page. I got fed up with all the nonsense and snowflakes there that couldn’t handle the opinions of other people. There’s this mentality on Facebook that everyone has to engage in groupthink and anyone that doesn’t get in line needs to be shut down – by any means necessary. I’m tired of being censored and having my opinions used against me. So, I’m restarting this blog on an active basis.
I have several goals for moving forward with A Soldier’s Perspective. When I first started this page, I was an active duty Soldier and talked about my experiences in the military. It began as an uncensored, honest view of life and what goes through the minds of Soldiers – at least, this Soldier. I was able to share my thoughts on many topics that were relative to the military life. Now that I’m a retired veteran, I still have those perspectives and they have crafted who I am.
After retiring from the Army, I went back to college and finished up my undergrad degree at Texas A&M. After graduation, I took a year off and started hosting a radio show until I decided to go to law school after seeing firsthand how difficult it is to get access to justice unless you’re rich, powerful, and/or connected. I saw how the system really works to create criminals in a system that is geared towards punishing the poor and weak. The system isn’t geared towards justice, but towards conviction rates. Prosecutors are not rewarded for ensuring that justice is served, but on how many cases they can win – whether or not those wins are justified. The name of the game is: Get a Plea Deal!! A plea deal = conviction. Conviction = re-election and promotion!
In addition to sharing my law school journey, I’m going to focus this blog on my activism for the second amendment and other civil rights issues. I plan to focus my legal career on defending people who are wronged by government agents, mainly bad cops, but also the education system and other government agencies. I’ve already purchased my law firm’s website which will not be live until I pass the bar exam and get cleared to practice law in Texas and Oklahoma: www.ISueBadCops.com!! I will be focusing my practice on criminal defense and civil rights litigation for ANYONE who has had their rights violated regardless of their political affiliation. I will also be updating my readers here on the status of my litigation against Olmos Park Police Department.
As before, I’m also going to be introducing some other writers. In the past, a few dozen writers populated these pages. They have all moved on but are always welcome to come back and maintain accounts here. However, I’m bringing on a variety of veterans to talk about what they do and see in their lives and how their veteran status has shaped what they do in civilian life. Stay tuned as I introduce them in the coming weeks and months.
I’m back, but what I don’t be continuing is my work on those Nigerian Military Dating Scams, which still continues. I simply don’t have the time to keep up with all of that, but I am willing to provide legal services to the victims of those scams and hopefully help to restore those people’s money to some degree. However, that is more of a political issue at this point and I encourage everyone to contact their representatives to address this issue and withhold foreign aid from countries where these scammers operate.
You can also follow me on YouTube where I will be making videos from time to time about various topics of interest.
Updated on December 3, 2019
Some words from a second amendment activist and law STUDENT (key word is “student”; I am NOT an attorney). Forgive the length, but hopefully appreciate the education because this case has never been overturned and currently the common law of the land.
Richmond Democrats will begin the process of dismantling the second amendment and Article I, Section 13 of the Virginia Constitution by passing what I call “ban everything” legislation. The legislation will make the number one hunting and self-defense rifle (and many others) “illegal.”
However, the Supreme Court has already ruled on these weapons and determined they were specifically protected. In United States v Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), the Supreme Court heard a case challenging the National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C.S. § 1132. In this case, the defendants, Jack Miller and Frank Layton, were arrested for possession of a double-barreled shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches in length (a short-barreled shotgun). The defendants claimed that the law violated the 2nd amendment and the district court agreed, throwing out the case. However, the feds appealed to the Supreme Court.
The court made several statements that are important to today’s fight. First of all, the court reiterated what and who is meant by the first clause of the 2nd amendment – “a well-regulated militia.” The court affirmed that the militia is comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. “In a militia, the character of the labourer, artificer, or tradesman, predominates over that of the soldier: in a standing army, that of the soldier predominates over every other character; and in this distinction seems to consist the essential difference between those two different species of military force.” Miller, 307 U.S. at 179 (quoting Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Book V, Ch. 1).
The Virginia Constitution is even more clear than the 2nd Amendment. Article I, Section 13, defines the militia as “composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state.” It doesn’t say “some people” or “military people.” It says the “body” of the people. You and me. If the second amendment only applied to the military, as those on the left suggest, then it would have been redundant. Article I, Section 8, Clause 16 of the US Consitution already gives Congress the authority to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia.” If Congress already had the authority under Article I to arm the militia, the second amendment would have been unnecessary to give the militia the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution already provided that.
However, the second amendment isn’t just about the militia. There are two clauses: the right to form a well-regulated militia AND the right of the people to keep and bear arms. So, now we get to the question of which arms are the people entitled to keep and bear. The Miller court answered that question.
The General Assembly of Virginia, October, 1785, (12 Hening’s Statutes) declared, “The defense and safety of the commonwealth depend upon having its citizens properly armed and taught the knowledge of military duty.” The CITIZENS, not the military! However, the court also noted that it is our responsibility to be proficient in the use of arms in defense of ourselves and our state.
Ultimately, the feds won their appeal and the case was sent back to trial. But, why, CJ? Here is where we get the answer as to exactly what is protected by the Second Amendment (thank you for being patient). The defendants, as I noted at the beginning, were charged with possession of short-barreled shotguns (sawed-off shotguns) in violation of federal law. The court determined that their shotguns were not protected because they were not “any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.” Miller, 307 U.S. at 178.
In 1939, the short-barreled shotgun was not a part of the military compliment of arms. The court reasoned that because the military didn’t employ such short-barreled weapons in its common inventory, that they were not necessary for the common defense. The specific right that the court acknowledged were those arms that were “ordinary military equipment.”
As we all know, the main military rifles used in the United States military was the Enfield, Springfield, M14, and M1 Garand Rifles. The 1911 pistol was also “ordinary military equipment.” In 1966, the US military began issuing the M16 (which was based off the Armalite AR-15). Since 1966, the M16 and its M4 successor have been the “ordinary military equipment” of the US military. Since 1966, the AR-15 has been specifically protected under the Second Amendment as “necessary for the common defense.”
I would argue that the Miller court decision also protects short-bareled rifles and shotguns today. During WWI, the US military was the only military that issued a combat shotgun, a modified Winchester Model 1897, known officially as the Model 1917 Trench Shotgun. However, the Model 1917 wasn’t a short-barreled shotgun. Today, the US Army employs the Mossberg Model 590A1 shotgun, which has a 14″ barrel. Every infantry squad and other units have these assigned to every team. I would argue that today the Miller precedent would actually protect these firearms in a way that they weren’t protected in 1939 because they are now in “”ordinary military equipment.”
Let me finally add that when Democrats lose on the gun control agenda, they will no doubt shift to trying to regulate ammunition. The Miller court also recognized that ammunition is just as vital under the 2A as the firearms themselves. “The possession of arms also implied the possession of ammunition, and the authorities paid quite as much attention to the latter as to the former.” Miller, 307 U.S. at 180 (quoting “The American Colonies In The 17th Century,” Osgood, Vol. 1, ch. XIII).
I hope you learned something! If not, at least I got a short break from studying.
Note: I am not giving legal advice. I am not an attorney. If you have legal questions, please contact an attorney.
Updated on October 9, 2019
Note: this post deals predominantly with open carry. Concealed carry is legal without a license anywhere in a vehicle in Texas.
I’ve seen a lot of debate among people about whether Texas law allows a person to carry a holstered firearm on the seat next to him or in a cupholder or some other place that is not directly on the person. Before I go any further, I want to make very clear that I am NOT giving legal advice. I am not an attorney.
Texas Penal Code 46.02(a)(1) states that “A person commits an offense if the person…intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun…” The code then goes on to state that the exception to this is having a license to carry. Section 46.02(a-1)(1) discusses handguns in a vehicle: “A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control at any time in which…the handgun is in plain view, unless the person is licensed to carry a handgun.”
The point of contention is the part where the law says the gun has to be “carried” in a way that is “on or about the person.” People unfamiliar with legal language and common law can’t grasp the concept that, under the law, you don’t have to physically bear the weight of something to “carry” it. This should be obvious in the way the law is worded. It doesn’t just say carried “on the person.” It adds the clause “about the person.” If “on” and “about” meant the same thing, the legislature wouldn’t have included both words. But it did, and people are confused for some reason still.
Remember that during Reconstruction the Democrats were really worried about armed black people. The 1876 Texas Constitution was worded to include ways with which the legislature could potentially restrict firearms – “with a view to prevent crime.” Just prior to our Constitution being ratified, the Democrats passed the first law to ban open and concealed carry to keep the “newly freed slaves and Mexicans” from arming themselves. The law was titled “An Act to Regulate the Keeping and Bearing of Deadly Weapons, Law of April 12, 1871, ch. 34, §1, 1871 Tex. Gen. Laws 25.” The law specifically banned “any person [from] carrying on or about his person, saddle, or in his saddle bags, any pistol, dirk, dagger, slung-shot, sword-cane, spear, brass-knuckles, bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured or sold for the purposes of offense or defense.” This law remained relatively unchanged until 1995 when the concealed carry law was passed.
In 1909, a man was convicted for having a pistol under the seat of his buggy. He wasn’t carrying it, but it was about his person. See Leonard v. State, 56 Tex. Crim. 84, 119 S.W. 98 (1909). In 1914, a man was also convicted and fined for having a pistol under his seat because the State considered it “carried” on his buggy. See Mayfield v. State, 75 Tex. Crim. 103, 170 S.W. 308 (1914).
There were also a few cases that were contrary to these cases. An 1897 conviction was overturned when the Court found that having a pistol in the front end of a wagon in which defendant was riding was not ‘about’ the person. See Hardy v. State, 37 Tex. Crim. 511, 40 S.W. 299 (1897). Another case held that having a pistol in a wagon about half-way between the seat and the rear end is not carrying ‘about the person.’ See Thompson v. State, 48 Tex. Crim. 146, 86 S.W. 1033 (1905). So, obviously this issue needed to be resolved.
In 1916, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the Supreme Court in Texas for criminal cases) heard a Houston case that addressed the very language of what constituted “on or about the person.” Wagner v. State, 80 Tex. Crim. 66, 188 S.W. 1001 (1916). Wagner was charged with carrying a pistol about his person and at his jury trial was found guilty and fined $100. Now, I won’t get into the defendant’s story about how it got there because it’s irrelevant to this discussion. Wagner appealed the sufficiency of the evidence.
His main argument was that he was never seen with the gun and never picked it up, so he wasn’t “carrying” it. Witnesses testified that they had not seen him with the gun either. The Wagner court finally settled the issue of what constituted “about the person”:
The Legislature must have meant something when it used the words ‘or about the person,’ and on principle using the word ‘about’…be held to mean, within the pistol statute, near by, close at hand, convenient of access, and within such distance of the party so having it as that such party could without materially changing his position get his hand on it…
When applied to persons occupying vehicles, the phrase “on or about the person” has been expanded to include the area “near by, close at hand, convenient of access, and within such distance of the party so that, without materially changing his position, the party could get his hand on it.” See Courtney v. State, 424 S.W.2d 440, 441 (Tex. Crim. App. 1968). In 1993, this definition was again used as cannon. Contreras v. State, 853 S.W.2d 694 (Tex. App. 1993).
So there you have it. The law allows you to openly carry a holstered handgun that is carried on or about the person in your vehicle. The courts have already held that this applies to the holstered handgun being on the seat or anywhere in one’s vehicle provided he doesn’t “materially chang[e] his position get his hand on it.” In other words, a court would likely find that an openly holstered handgun in the third row of a minivan probably isn’t “about the person.” But, having a holstered handgun in the seat next to you, between the seats, in the cupholder, on the dashboard, etc., fit perfectly within Texas common law for “on or about the person.”
Posted on September 14, 2019
This right here is why I oppose “red flag” laws.
First of all, NEVER answer questions from a cop or any government official on your doorstep unless you called them and then only answer questions specifically related to the reason you called them. NEVER talk about whether you have guns or how many are in your home. NEVER allow police into your home without a warrant. NEVER. I got this from a friend’s recent Facebook post:
From before red flag laws. Can you imagine the abuse with red flag laws? Why do I oppose “Red Flag” laws?
About 15 years ago, my former spouse was in a very bad spot. We had been divorced for 14 years and she was in the process of getting her home foreclosed on. With little and no job, she facing homelessness. Our divorce was much like our marriage, bitter. She had custody of my oldest son and knew that I would likely sue her for custody when I found out that she was homeless. She did two things. She arranged a move into a family homeless shelter, and she dropped a bomb on me.
My Ex-wife filed a petition for a restraining order against me, not for anything that I did to her, but for what she alleged that I did to my son 2 years earlier. She said that I hit him during an argument. For the record, I have never abused any of my children. She knew that the Department of Children and Families wouldn’t investigate me as too much time had passed and that they wouldn’t find any evidence to support her claim, anyways. She found out that by filing for a restraining order, her location would become secret, and that I wouldn’t be able to serve her, much less get her in front of a Judge if there was an active restraining order against me. It was a perfect plan to keep custody of our son, to continue to collect child support, and to stick it to me bad. She set out to Red Flag me.
A Sheriff’s Deputy knocked on my door. When I answered, I honestly thought that I was being served with papers for an increase in child support from her as I didn’t even know her situation, much less her allegations against me. This was a Monday afternoon, and my son had just spent the weekend with me, going home just 20 hours before. I had no clue. The Deputy presented the papers to me, and I was floored. She asked me if I had any firearms in the house. I was an FFL holder at the time, and told her so. I was asked to step outside. She made a call. Within 5 minutes, I had 3 additional police cars in front of my house. A total of 5 officers were in my home. I was ordered to open my safes and hand in my Log Book. They confiscated over 100 firearms, and more than 25k rounds of ammunition. After they loaded up everything that could find, I was given a court date to appear in front of a Judge in 14 days. My Concealed Weapon License was suspended, and the ATF was notified that my firearms and Log book were confiscated. I contacted an attorney, and told to wait until the court date as there was nothing that could be done until the hearing in two weeks.
I appeared in court for the hearing. There was zero evidence against me. My son wasn’t even allowed to testify for or against me. My fate relied totally on credibility. It turned out that I had more than her when I showed my spotless criminal record, my military record, my FBI background check results, and my numerous bonds from my employer. The Judge had no choice but to dismiss her petition, and relieve me of the restraining order. I was in for a rude wakening when I found out that it didn’t end there.
After the hearing, I took the dismissal notice, and the inventory sheet to the Sheriff’s office so that I could retrieve my firearms and ammo. They told me that they couldn’t “Just give them to me” and that I would have to sue them for my guns back. So, back to the attorney’s office I went. I filed a petition with the court against the Sheriff’s Office. A blazing fast 8 weeks later, I was able to get in front of a Judge again. He reviewed the case and granted my petition. The Sheriff’s Office had 30 days to return my property. On day 29, I got the call that I was good to go, and could pick up my stuff. Five of my guns and about 5k rounds of ammo disappeared while in custody. All my firearms had been fired for ballistics testing. None were cleaned. All were beat up, scratched, dinged, and marked with paint markers. I was told that I could file a claim with the County. I was told by my attorney that the Sheriff’s Office never loses and it would cost $5-10k in fees to try. This would have been in addition to the $2500 I had already spent.
In short, my Ex-Wife abused the system to her advantage, and used the court system to deny me my rights. My family and I were left defenseless for 3 months. The entire interaction with the police could have turned very bad in a hurry. Had this same thing happened in today’s political environment, I would have likely been served by a SWAT team. Yeah, I oppose “Red Flag” laws. It’s personal to me. I have been Red Flagged before. It is a process without any due process where all it takes is an unfounded allegation to destroy another person’s life.
Updated on August 31, 2019
I’m writing this after viewing this video by James Freeman.
This kind of stuff is why I’m in law school. In Texas, there is a statute still the books that makes it a “crime” to use “abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace” (Penal Code Section 42.01(a)(1)).
In Cohen v California (403 U.S. 15), the Supreme Court addressed a nearly identical California statute where a man was prosecuted for wearing a shirt that said “Fuck the Draft” and “Stop War.” The court held in that 1971 case that it
“cannot indulge the facile assumption that one can forbid particular words without also running a substantial risk of suppressing ideas in the process. Indeed, governments might soon seize upon the censorship of particular words as a convenient guise for banning the expression of unpopular views. We have been able, as noted above, to discern little social benefit that might result from running the risk of opening the door to such grave results.
“It is, in sum, our judgment that, absent a more particularized and compelling reason for its actions, the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display here involved of this single four-letter expletive a criminal offense.”
And yet, in 1993, when the state of Texas restructured it’s penal code, it failed to remove or clarify this statute that had already been essentially nullified by common law.
While 42.01(a)(1) hasn’t been deemed unconstitutional as a whole, it has been determined via several cases to only apply to the narrowly constricted “fighting words” exception. In S v. Hazlewood, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50983 the district court heard a case involving a dispute between a husband and wife in which the wife was telling cops to “fuck you” and calling them “motherfucker.” The cops arrested her for disorderly conduct. The state argued that because “bank employees and passersby were disrupted from their daily routines because of Mrs. Hazlewood’s behavior,” was was in violation of 42.01(a)(1). The court found differently under the “fighting words” requirement. Several court findings have limited the scope of this section to “fighting words.” See Duran v. Furr’s Supermarkets, Inc., 921 S.W.2d 778; Jimmerson v. State, 561 S.W.2d 5; and Estes, 660 S.W.2d at 875. Hazelwood specifically found that the use of “fuck” does not invite the public (nor officers, who are held to a higher standard) to violence as required by the statute (though not specifically stated in the plain language).The language uttered must specifically do that.
Yet, the officer himself said this isn’t the case. He specifically said that, “when you’re displaying these signs and people are calling because that is offensive to them, that is a crime.” Actually no it’s not. The cases above make that perfectly clear. Offensive speech is specifically protected as shown in Cohen above unless it incites the public to violence. Obviously, this wasn’t the case here because merely called allegedly because they were offended.
In this video, the initial cop even makes a statement that “I’ve already heard you say a cussword [sic] once, so…” as if using profanity in the presence of a cop were also a crime. The police fall under a much higher standard than the public for what constitutes disorderly conduct and “fighting words.” They are expected to take a higher level of verbal abuse than the general public by the nature of their jobs. “The First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.” City of Houston, Tex. v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 461. The 5th Circuit endorsed Hill by highlighting that “[A] properly trained police officer may reasonably be expected to ‘exercise a higher degree of restraint’ than the average citizen, and thus be less likely to respond belligerently to ‘fighting words.'” Enlow v. Tishomingo County, 962 F.2d 501, 509 (5th Cir. 1992). See also Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130, 94 S. Ct. 970, 39 L. Ed. 2d 214 (1974), which quoted Hill affirming yet another case.
The problem we have in Texas is (1) a lack of training and (2) a lack of attention by the Texas legislature to incorporate Court ruling into a revised and unimplied statute. In the Estes case mentioned above, the court found that “[t]he generally accepted definition of breach of the peace, and the one used by the court in this case, includes the admonition to the jury that cactual or threatened violence is an essential element of a breach of the peace.'” Quoting Woods v. State, 152 Tex. Crim. 338, 213 S.W.2d 685 (1948). The “fighting words” exception to the 1st Amendment was adopted in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 62 S. Ct. 766, 86 L. Ed. 1031 (1942). Then, in Woods v. State, 152 Tex. Crim. 338, 213 S.W.2d 685, 687 (1948) the court held that “actual or threatened violence is an essential element of a breach of the peace.” Using these cases, the Estes court didn’t completely invalidate 42.01(a)(1), but instead simply clarified that only “fighting words” and “actual or threatened violence” constituted a violation of the statute, not mere profanity or the existence of an offended person in public. The Hazelwood court applied these standards to speech against cops and added the element that cops are held to an even higher standard. So, the fact that Otto uttered a profanity in the presence of the cop is irrelevant.
Cops aren’t generally very intelligent about the law. They don’t concern themselves with precedents and what courts are doing until their higher powers drill it into their heads or the legislature changes the plain language of the law. They are not paid to understand the law; they’re paid to read it. They subscribe to the philosophy not of doing the right thing, but “you may beat the rap, but you won’t beat the ride.” They cannot stomach being offended, the law be damned. They will use their power to get you one way or the other.
The solution is simple here. The state needs to fix the disorderly conduct statute in many ways and also the failure to ID statute. The other solution is that CLEAT (Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas), those utterly despicable excuses for humanity, needs to train law enforcement departments about the common law related to 42.01(a)(1).
Updated on August 27, 2019
I don’t talk much about my church. I’ve mentioned it when necessary on this site, but only to reiterate why I believe a certain way on certain things. I’ve never, that I can recall, written a post strictly related to my faith. I tend to keep that personal or to only discuss in person. However, I’m making an exception today because my church has made a policy decision that fundamentally changes how I will worship. This post is not being written to debate my Christianity or your opinions on my religion. I won’t debate whether you think the LDS Church is good or bad. I don’t care what you think about that. Any comments that attack my faith will not be approved, simple as that.
I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I joined this church on my 19th birthday after much contemplation, prayer, and study. Prior to my conversion, I was a Baptist. And a Presbyterian. And a Methodist. And a Lutheran. And a Catholic. I’ve been baptized in search of truth more than John the Baptist probably performed baptisms! It wasn’t until I began looking into the LDS church that I found what fit into my understanding and prayerful consideration of the Bible (again, this is MY understanding, not yours and I won’t debate that here).
One of the things I really liked about the church – aside from the doctrinal issues I agreed with – was that the church was a fairly conservative faith. We believed in defense of life. We valued the liberties enshrined in the Constitution. We believed in helping to better our communities. There was never a shortage of people to go shooting with. And, above all, I was allowed to defend myself should the need arise.
I’m not what people would probably consider a “model Mormon.” I’m rough around the edges. I was a hell-raiser prior to joining the church and that obviously never dissipated. I didn’t wear my religion on my sleeve by constantly seeking or seizing opportunities to talk about the Book of Mormon or church doctrine. For a brief time back in the AOL days, I did run a chat room called “Ask a Mormon.” Because I had done so much personal research before joining the church, I wanted to share that information with people who had legitimate questions about our beliefs. Other than that, I pretty much didn’t discuss religion in public except when necessary to explain why I didn’t do some things or did others (like drinking coffee or engaging in political activities on Sundays).
Unfortunately, my relationship with the church was drastically changed today.
There is a (wrongheaded) school of thought within the Christian community that we are supposed to turn the other cheek. The theory goes that guns kill people and we shouldn’t kill people under any circumstances. Much of this theory is predicated on the teachings of Matthew where “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I say to you, ‘Do not resist the one who is evil, but if anyone slaps on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’” The problem is that this is often interpreted literally – that someone is literally using their hand and smacking us in the face. I read that as we should ignore those who insult us. I doubt very seriously that Christ was literal earlier in that chapter where he was talking about adultery and advising that we rip out our eyes if we find ourselves looking upon women with lust. I don’t think he meant that we literally rip out our eyes, but that we change our habits so that we refrain from this sort of sin.
In the Garden of Gethsemane (and elsewhere), Christ’s disciples had swords with them. For what use if not for self-defense? That’s what swords were for back then just as guns are used today. Obviously, Christ believed in possessing the tools to defend the lives He gave us or he would have forbidden his disciples from even carrying these tools around him. I find it hard to believe that Christ ever believed Christians should simply sit back and die when our lives are endangered. He wasn’t a complete pacifist as the turning of the changing tables in the temple indicates. We are counseled to be peacemakers, but sometimes to make peace you have to defeat a legitimate threat. At the end of the Book of Esther, the tyrannical king allowed the Jews organize to in self-defense “to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them.” Did they “turn the other cheek” and allow their enemies to simply slaughter them defenselessly? No, they “smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword” (Esther 9:5).
I find it offensive and unChristian that ANY church leader would prefer that their sheep be defenseless and senselessly slaughtered for some greater good. Changes in the Church handbook state that “[c]hurches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world.” That sounds great on paper, but do you think the people that want to murder us care what churches are dedicated for? Do you think Devin Patrick Kelley cared that the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs was “dedicated for the worship of God?” Thank the Lord that Stephen Williford was able to engage with the shooter and stop him from killing more people than he had already slaughtered!
Do you think that Matthew Murray cared that the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was a “haven from the cares and concerns of the world?!” He was able to kill two church members and injure two others before Jeanne Assam shot him and stopped the slaughter. Should she have just “turned the other cheek?”
And what about Emanuel Kidega Samson who opened fire on the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, killing one and injuring seven others? Do you think he was there to worship God? Thankfully, an usher named Robert Engle was there to confront the shooter who had to run out to his car to get his gun. Do you think he could have stopped the shooter sooner had he had his gun on him and those people may still be alive? After being pistol whipped by Samson, should Engle have simply “turned the other cheek” and expected to be pistol whipped again?
And let’s get more personal. Last year, John O’Connor entered an LDS church in Fallon, Nevada, and opened fire, killing one man and injuring another. It was a targeted attack and the shooter immediately fled the scene and ran to his home. I don’t know if anyone was armed at the time or even had a chance to respond if they were since O’Connor appears to have been targeting a specific individual, but shouldn’t members have at least the opportunity to defend themselves in these situations?
In 2010, Kenneth Ward entered an LDS church in Visalia, California, and gunned down the bishop during services in what looked to be another targeted attack. Shouldn’t our bishops and their congregations have the ability to protect themselves from people—possibly disaffected members—who may want to kill them because they feel as if they’ve been slighted? Or should our bishops just “turn the other cheek” and we can simply call another bishop to take his place?! I’m sorry, but that’s asinine. It’s completely ignorant to think that our buildings are these Utopian places of worship where evil can never exist and no harm will ever come of us, especially in these modern times where people can’t simply disagree or offended in peace, but resort to violence to solve their differences.
Yes, our churches are dedicated to worship and are places where we SHOULDN’T have to worry about the cares of the world, but when the cares of the world invade that space, then what? There is no magical shield around LDS meeting houses that protects us from outside’s evil.
In 1994, while I was in San Antonio and just before I joined the Army, I was attending a Fast & Testimony meeting. I was sitting up on the pulpit waiting my turn to share my testimony of the gospel when a female member of the ward got up to bear her testimony. Immediately, a man in the back of the congregation either stood up or walked into the room and began yelling at the woman and imploring her to come back to him. It was an extremely intense incident and when some brethren tried to quiet him down and get him to walk outside the room, he got aggressive and had to be physically removed. Needless to say, the bishop had to end the meeting at that point because the spirit had been drained by the incident. What if he had a gun? What if he intended violence? I was literally sitting in the chair next to where she was addressing the congregation. Could I have been killed?
To add insult to injury, the Church memo stated that law enforcement officers can carry guns in church, but no one else can. Well, that’s quite confusing to me. If a church is “dedicated for the worship of God and [are] havens from the cares and concerns of the world” what makes a police officer’s gun somehow exempted from this policy versus me having one. We both have them for the same purpose – self-defense. Ostensibly, the officer isn’t there to kill anyone and neither am I. I’m just as well trained as (or better) than any cop! In fact, cops don’t actually have that much training comparative to licensed gun owners, most of whom practice regularly, many of whom have taken many advanced self-defense course, and some whom teach them (to cops, even). But, yet, somehow the presence of a law enforcement officer’s gun doesn’t disrupt the dedication of our buildings for worship and somehow don’t translate our “havens” into kill dungeons and mine does.
Is the church now saying that it will ruin the rest of my life by having me arrested for nothing more than peacefully carrying a gun for self defense that isn’t hurting anyone? After all, the policy states that “All immediate threats are to be reported immediately to local law enforcement.” What is a threat? Some anti-gun, liberal member *(yes, they exist) who feels threatened by the mere presence of a gun? What if that person feels threatened by the law enforcement officer?
Is our leadership warning me that I won’t get into the celestial kingdom if I disobey the policy and take the risk? Can I truly “sustain” my church leaders if I blatantly violate their policy and carry anyway? For that matter, can I sustain leaders that want to disarm me and make me a defenseless victim because they don’t respect my right to exist? Is the church willing to make me uncomfortable by forcing me to worship in a place I no longer feel safe? Exactly what is the church telling me here? Am I a sinner if I carry in violation of church policy and hope not to get caught? Isn’t that not being “honest with my fellow man?”
If the church is telling me I cannot carry my firearm in self-defense inside the building—even concealed—I will honestly never enter that building again. I am not a lawbreaker, but I am also responsible for my own safety and refuse to rely on someone else for that safety. The police are not there to protect me. The courts have ruled this over and over again. I know many members around the country, but specifically in this state (and my ward) who feel the same way. If the church sticks to this policy, expect attendance to drop.
What really bothers me is that our church has as rich history of being called to arms in defense of each other and this country. As we were being pursued from New York, armed members stemmed off those seeking to slaughter us. There was an extermination order against Mormons in Missouri. We sent our own armed battalion to fight in the Mexican-American War. Those were guns WE owned. They weren’t provided for us. When President Buchanan sent the military to attack Mormons, we armed ourselves in self-defense (Nauvoo Legion anyone?) and prepared for battle. Thankfully, there was no bloodshed. Now, we’re expected to believe that there is no place for guns in this church?!
The church will claim this is about religious liberty. This is a hypocritical argument if the church is using right to violate another. Is the church saying that our right to keep and bear arms in self-defense is subordinate to our right to worship? Essentially, we’re being told to surrender one right to exercise another. That’s not religious liberty; that’s religious tyranny.
I will not lose my testimony of this gospel. I will not leave the church over this. I simply will never enter a church building over this. My faith is secure and strong. I can just as easily read my Bible and the Book of Mormon in the comfort of my own home. I can worship just as easily on the pot as in the pews. The church is making a HUGE mistake. I carry a gun so that I can live to worship and ensure that my fellow brothers and sisters can as well. I don’t carry in the hopes I get to shoot someone at church; I carry to ensure no one else shoots me in church. What the church has just done is tell Satan’s sycophants that the field it white to harvest at LDS meetinghouses. I won’t be cut down willingly. I will not return to church until our leadership reverses this policy and decides to simply follow state laws on the issue. Period.
Posted on August 13, 2019
“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
Updated on July 24, 2019
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.
Four things are clear after today:
1. Trump committed crimes
2. The GOP will destroy our republic to protect him
3. Pelosi won’t impeach
4. Mueller deserves respect for his service to this country
— Casey Stegman (@cestegman) July 25, 2019
Mueller: honorable, war hero, 25+ years service with no scandal. Trump: no public service, boasts about not paying taxes and assaulting women, racist, liar, lover of Putin. Remind me of Adolf Hitler. Not one bone of humanity or Christianity. #TrumpCrimeFamily#cubansagainstTrump
— Nina Vaughn Müller (@NinaVaughnMAC) July 25, 2019
Americans support service to Country like Robert Mueller and don’t support criminals like Trump.
— jewelh (@jewelofchicago) July 25, 2019
Even morons who did serve were trying to tell Trump supporters that didn’t serve that they should essentially shut up.
Trump sycophant who isn’t fit to speak about a man of Mueller’s stature and service to country.
— Emmy (@ehedie_3939) July 25, 2019
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:
I served my nation. National service is something to respect, but it does NOT make a man infallible nor immune to rational criticism.
“serve” Trump? No, I serve AMERICA. It would be nice if Mueller did, but he clearly serves a radical ideology instead…
— Matt S (@SubduedRadical) July 25, 2019
Updated on July 7, 2019
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.
March 28, 1944
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,
Posted on May 24, 2019
“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.
Updated on January 17, 2019
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.
Updated on December 10, 2018
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.
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.
Posted on November 24, 2018
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.