Skarr Body Armor Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democrats Sit Out American Values

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump says that Americans are dreamers too. #DemocratsSit

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

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

Trump says he wants to put America first. #DemocratsSit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas and the Road to Secession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamilton, Matthew K. “The Pro-Slavery Argument in Brazoria County, Texas, 1840-1865.” East Texas Historical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2 (Fall, 2014): 9-23.

Hicks, Jimmie E. “The Texas Secession Convention, 1860-1861.” Master’s thesis, University of Southern California, 1962.

Howell, Kenneth W. “When the Rabble Hiss, Well May Patriots Tremble: James Webb Throckmorton and the Secession Movement in Texas, 1854-1861.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 109, No. 4. (April, 2006): 465-493.

Jordan, Terry G. “The Imprint of the Upper and Lower South on Mid-Nineteenth Century Texas.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, No. 4 (December, 1967): p. 667-690.

Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas, 1861 (E.W. Winkler, ed.; Austin, 1912), 61-65.

Marten, James. Texas Divided: Loyalty and Dissent in the Lone Star State, 1856-1874. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Pollard, Paul A. “Texas and Secession: A Challenge to Popular Sovereignty.” Master’s thesis, Baylor University, 1978.

Richardson, Rupert N., Adrian Anderson, and Ernest Wallace. Texas: The Lone Star State. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1993.

Sandbo, Anna Irene. “Beginnings of the Secession Movement in Texas.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol.18, No. 1 (July, 1914): 41-73.

Texas Legislature. Senate. “Governor Sam Houston statement on secession to full Senate.” 8th Legislature, Joint Special Session. Senate Journal (January 21, 1861).

Wooster, Ralph A. “An Analysis of the Membership of the Texas Secession Convention.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (January, 1959): pp. 322-335.

York, Teresa K. “Piney Woods’ Dissidence: Angelina County in the 1850’s and the Secession Crisis.” Master’s Thesis, Stephen F. Austin State University, 1990.

The Road to Annexation: Foreign Policy & The Quest for Recognition In the Republic of Texas

The history of Texas is well-documented in various forms and fashions. Texas independence is a frequent subject of research for historians due to the peculiar and unique nature of its path to statehood. Texas is the only state that was once its own country and it is also the only state that was annexed as such. The story of Texas statehood and subsequent secession are matters of elementary history and generally common knowledge. However, little research seems to have been written about the foreign policy of the Republic of Texas during its ten-year span as its own nation and the internal struggle for statehood that seemed to cause more controversy than the entrance of virtually any other state in to the Union.

Immediately upon declaring independence, Texas began the arduous task of seeking recognition from foreign nations in the hopes of securing financing, investment, trade, and political relationships. It would take nearly two years for the United States to recognize the newly formed what would serve as a springboard for Texas delegations to secure the recognition of European powers. Such recognition was not easy to come by and diplomats were frustrated that their struggle for legitimacy took years to accomplish. For its part, Texas tried to hide much of its financial problems and ongoing conflicts with the indigenous tribes and Mexico to convince foreign nations that Texas was a stable and low risk economic power that would greatly benefit European powers. Texian leaders were under the false assumption that if the hoped-for annexation into the Union did not happen immediately, securing recognition would at least hasten this effort.

This paper will explore the foreign policy interaction between the Republic of Texas and other nations, mainly the United States and Europe. It will also analyze why it took ten years to be annexed into the United States despite vigorous efforts immediately after independence to become the 28th state. Research will be based primarily on primary sources documents and incorporate previous scholarly research on the subject to provide additional context, background, and clarity. I will answer to what degree foreign governments affected or interfered with attempts by the Republic of Texas to gain statehood or maintain its independence as a nation.

Mexican General Santa AnnaTexans were unhappy about the treatment of its people in the Mexican state of Texas. In November 1835, delegates drafted a declaration of independence (sometimes referred as the declaration of causes) and submitted it a committee that was formed to consider the prospect of independence. The declaration listed several causes for why Texas should declare its independence, the foremost being that General Santa Anna was refusing to abide by the provisions of the Constitution of 1824 and using force to impose his will upon Texans. This was ironic considering Santa Anna had proclaimed to be a loyalist to the constitution in his struggles with President Anastacio Bustamante.

After Texas declared independence from Spain, Santa Anna decided to force the Yucatan to pay over two hundred thousand pesos for the war. He also conscripted 2,500 citizens to serve in the Mexican Army to fight against Texas. This angered the Yucatan peninsula since it violated the agreements that had been made when it joined Mexico. Yucatan considered independence and the Texas declaration pledged its assistance to the Yucatecans in the Mexican confederacy. By 1840, the Yucatan and Texas had signed formal relations and the Congress had pledged a virtual blank check to the defense of the country should Mexico again become belligerent. In return, Texas would be paid 8,000 pesos each month to help pay for said defense. In return, the Yucatan declared that the Texans would always be welcome with open arms after which Present Lamar granted most favorable nation station to the peninsula.

Meanwhile, Texas delegates believed that if they did not demand independence that Mexico would continue despotic practices. Since Texas was already responsible for paying for its defense in the region, independence would no necessarily require the raising of an Army. Ethel Rather theorized that the declaration was not meant for the eyes of Mexico, but to draw the attention of capitalists in the United States.

David G. BurnetUpon gaining independence, David G. Burnet was selected as the ad interim President of the newly formed republic. Burnet was the son of a doctor who had served in the Continental Congress. When Mexico began offering land grants in the Texas province, Burnet took advantage of this opportunity and was granted land in the Nacogdoches area to settle 300 families. Burnet proved to be an inept businessman, but found his place in politics and became the head judge of the Brazos District Court. Due to his opposition to Texas independence, he was not selected to take part in the Convention of 1836, but defiantly showed up anyway. His audacity was rewarded when he was selected to be the provisional president of the newly formed Republic of Texas at perhaps one of the worst times in Texas history.

Internal issues threatened the fledgling nation. Provisional governor Henry Smith was embroiled in inter-party controversy and tried to dissolve the provisional council. In response, the council suspended Smith from acting as Governor and charged him with serious and weighty offenses like perjury, libel, and defamation against the council. Among them was $5000 given to Smith that was never deposited in the treasury that was a gift to Texas from Henry Rufus Willie Hill (Ambassador to Texas) in Tennessee. Neither the treasury nor the council were ever given an accounting of this money and the council feared that a pending million-dollar load would likewise disappear if Smith were given possession of it instead of it going straight to the treasury. The council passed a resolution making James Robinson the provisional governor. In lieu of trial, he refused to step down until he was voted out in the 1836 Convention a month and a half later.

Mexico refused to acknowledge Texas independence and made clear that any claims to land, loans made in its name, or contracts between the Republic and other nations would not be recognized. Meanwhile, a delegation from the Republic of Texas consisting of BT Archer, SF Austin, and WH Wharton arrived in Washington in April. However, they had not officially received any communications from the Republic of Texas with the official declaration of independence and the American government despite the declaration being reprinted in newspapers. They wanted something concrete and the delegates were worried that they would not receive something before the congress recessed.

Almost immediately upon independence, Texas began seeking admission into the Union. In a letter dated April 9, 1836 to Governor of Texas from WH Wharton (he was unaware that President Burnet was the president of the Republic, not a governor), Wharton implored the governor to join the Union and expressed that he would nearly everything he owned to achieve this objective. On May 26, 1836, President David Burnet sent a letter authorizing Commissioners James Collinsworth and Peter Grayson to secure recognition of Texas independence and annexation of Texas into the United States. One of the problems that faced the Republic was that dispatches were delayed due to hostilities the Indian tribes in the South.

Burnet listed several terms upon which Texas would agree to annexation, the majority of which were simply recognition of current laws and practices within the Republic. His third point was an emphatic defense of slavery within Texas and treated as the property of their respective owners. Slavery had been a part of Texas to some degree since before its founding. The territory had even been granted an exemption to the abolition of slavery in the Mexican Constitution of 1836.

By early April 1836, there was a lot of trepidation about the Mexican threat. In a letter to President Burnet from Texas Secretary of State Sam Carson dated July 3, 1836, he relayed President Andrew Jackson’s concerns about the ability of Texas to afford or equip forces to deal with the Mexican threat. Though upbeat at the positive progress made in Congress, Carson was worried about a secret agent named Marfit who was dispatched to Texas by the US Government spy on the conditions within Texas; specifically, the competency and strength of the military and the organization of the government. Later in the year, President Jackson reported to the Congress his opinion that the United States should delay the decision to annex Texas into the Union until either Mexico recognized its independence or until such a time had elapsed that there was no dispute as to its status.

President Sam Houston

President Sam Houston

In October 1836, Sam Houston became the first elected president of Texas. Houston was a controversial figure in both Texas and United States politics. At the age of 27, he enlisted in the United States Army to fight in the War of 1812 against Britain. After the British continued to refuse to abide by treaty agreements following the end of the American revolution and the island nation’s continued impressment of American sailors in its fight against the French. Marshall de Bruhl notes that Houston did not seek to become a soldier and decided to join after happening upon a recruiter set up at the courthouse in Maryville, Tennessee. The recruiter was offering a silver dollar to anyone who enlisted and Houston immediately seized upon the opportunity to join and the military and quit his scholastic life. This angered his father who was a major in the United States military and felt that it was beneath Houston to become a common soldier. Defiantly, he responded to his father’s disgust by predicting that, while his father does not “know me now…you shall hear of me” in the future. Meanwhile, Houston’s mother was compassionate and supportive of his decision and counseled him to serve with honor. It is unclear whether pressure from his father or other influential figures were responsible for an appointment to ensign from Secretary of War John Armstrong that Houston received six months after he enlisted, but Houston accepted and reported immediately to the 39th U.S. Regimental Infantry. Honoring his mother’s instructions Houston served with honor, bravely leading charges against fierce Indian foes in the Battle of Tohopeka that resulted in injuries that doctors did not believe he would survive. After his successful time as a military officer Houston returned to his home state and became a veteran politician serving as the governor of Tennessee and as a U.S. representative of the same state before moving to Texas in 1832.

By 1837, the United States government still had not recognized the Republic of Texas. The inability to raise troops, the lack of money to pay for its own defense, and the anarchy in neighboring Mexico were contributing factors to this delay. WH Wharton had another explanation for the refusal of Congress to act on recognition: it was all politics. In a letter to President Sam Houston, Wharton relays that the real reason for the delay is that legislators were concerned about the upcoming presidential campaign of Vice President van Buren. They were concerned that if they immediately gave recognition to Texas independence, the question of annexation would immediately need to be answered and that Van Buren’s decision on annexation or no annexation would cause him to lose the election. If forced to choose, support from either the North or South would hinge on that decision. This would, in turn, affect the re-election prospects of Van Buren’s party in Congress.

Meanwhile, relations between Great Britain, the United States, and Mexico were further strained when word came that Mexico had offered to sell Texas to Great Britain. Mexico refused to recognize Texas independence and believed that it had the authority and right to sell what it considered its land. Fearing annexation by the United States, Mexico was determined to create a buffer between the two nations. Both the United States and Great Britain were concerned that should either nation take possession of Texas, the balance of power would be tipped towards that nation.

Mexico was continuing to fund Indian hostilities against Texians. Acting Texas Secretary of State, James Pinkney Henderson, noted that the commander of the Mexican Army had paid the chiefs in eastern Texas $1000 and another $5000 worth of weapons and ammunition. Henderson was also trying to enlist the assistance of the United States since the Indian violence that was happening on the eastern and northern borders of Texas could have easily spilled into the United States. Texas minister Mecuman Hunt was hopeful that this development would spur the United States to become more predisposed to annexing the state.

Neither Great Britain nor the United States wanted the other to annex or acquire Texas. Britain still refused to acknowledge “the Band of outlaws who occupy Texas” but doubted that they could ever influence the destiny of Texas and instead worked to convince Mexico to walk away from their desires to reestablish control over the land. Britain was the primary economic partner with Mexico and feared that conflict with Texas would interrupt that relationship. In the United States, those pushing for annexation were concerned that an independent Texas would be more susceptible to British influence and that the Texas would become dependent on the island nation which would hamper trade with the United States. Pro-slavery Americans feared that enlightened British influence would cause Texas to abandon their support for and use of slavery.

In his November 21, 1837 address to Congress, President Houston continued to lament the progress in achieving American annexation. Acknowledging the financial instability of the Republic which he believed was embarrassing, he continued to press the body to pass legislation that would improve the situation with impotent land offices. Due to the financial crisis of 1837 in the United States, he was unable to secure a five-million-dollar loan to help prop up the economy. Texian currency was derived from American currency and suffered along with the neighboring nation. The onset of the Panic of 1837 naturally affected the ability of the Republic to maintain financial stability. Texas did not have its own currency, but accepted currency from several states. With a lack of stable and uniform currency, many people engaged in trade instead of relying on currency. In an effort to raise money Congress distributed $500,000 in paper currency, called star currency. These were essentially promissory notes since the state was virtually bankrupt and came with a 10% interest guarantee that were predicated on land sales to repay them within a year. A year later, Congress reissued the notes and printed an additional one million dollars in star currency without interest. The bill was vetoed by President Houston who was very protective of the Republics financial situation, but his vetoed was overridden by Congress. Within a year, the non-interest-bearing notes became devalued by 60% while the rest retained their value.

Houston’s vice president, Mirabeau Lamar, was elected to succeed him as president and held wildly differing views of how to financially manage the country. For example, Houston adamantly opposed the created of a national bank while Lamar tried futilely to convince Congress to establish one. Houston grew up among the Cherokee and his administration maintained a relationship of mutual respect. Lamar was also very hostile to Indians and engaged in a very expensive and costly effort to either exterminate them or drive them from within the borders of the Republic. Additionally, Lamar was incensed that Mexico had still failed to recognize the independence of Texas and approached Congress to build a navy to force Mexico by force to do so. Congress again rebuffed the president who sent out an expedition to Santa Fe to negotiate a secret deal for recognition. Instead, the effort failed due to its cost and the troops were forced to surrender. Lamar’s aggressive actions against the Indians, failed military attempted to force Mexico to capitulate on independence, and Congress’s irresponsible issuance of large numbers of promissory notes resulted in desperate circumstances after his administration more than tripled the public debt. These actions were highly ironic and hypocritical considering Lamar’s inaugural address began with the promise that his administration would be of peace with all peoples in the area.

Meanwhile, the fiscal situation continued to worry Washington, D.C., and continued to plague the state’s efforts at annexation. Lamar’s opposition to annexation played another key role in delaying annexation for at least three more years. He believed that Texas was destined to be a great empire and adopted the American attitude of manifest destiny to grow Texas territory exponentially. Despite these delays in annexation, U.S. President Andrew Jackson signed a resolution passed in both houses of Congress recognizing the Republic of Texas as an independent nation on March 3, 1837. This angered the Mexican government and resulted in their escalating efforts to bring the territory back under its proper rule, beginning with the capture of the Texian minister to the United States, Colonel Wharton. The Republic immediately appealed to the United States to assist in securing the return of the diplomat.

After securing the recognition by the United States, Houston sent J.P. Henderson to France to convince the country to likewise recognize Texas as an independent state. With France embroiled in a conflict with Mexico and Henderson saw the blockades of Mexican ports as an opportunity to convince the French to acquiesce to his request. Henderson sought an audience with Count Molé to discuss the arrangement and reminded him that the United States had given recognition a year prior. Molé agreed to meet with Henderson but could not receive him as an agent of Texas because Molé was concerned that doing so would be a de facto recognition of independence. Molé agreed to listen to Texas’ plea, but the language barrier between the two made conversation difficult and Henderson informed him that for the benefit of the two he would submit his statement in writing so it could be easily interpreted.

The exhaustive letter to the Count contained several reasons why France should recognize the independence of the Republic of Texas. Prior to listing these reasons, Henderson recited a brief history of the settlement of Texas followed by the grievances against Mexico that led to the Texas revolution, including the violations of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of 1824. First, Henderson highlighted the success of Texian military battles against numerically superior and well equipped Mexican forces as proof that the government of Texas was more than capable of defending its nation with forces that he believed were far superior in skill, courage, humanity, and adhering to modern-day rule of civilized warfare. Santa Anna and other Mexican generals were adept at torturing prisoners of war and killing others in cold blood while captive. Henderson no doubt wanted to convince the French that they would not be siding with a banana republic or population of lawless bandits. He appealed to the Count’s sense of humanity by highlighting the atrocities of the Mexican government against the Texians even after the revolution, specifically the massacre of Colonel Fannin and over 400 of his troops and civilians who surrendered or were previously held prisoner.

Meanwhile, the Texian military had performed with honor by treating prisoners with respect and allowing Santa Anna’s forces to retreat in peace after securing assurances that Mexico would recognize Texas independence. Henderson wrote that while the Mexicans had not honored the terms of the agreement in recognizing independence they had not executed a single incursion across the border since. Further appealing to French attitudes about Mexico, Henderson reminded Count Molé that the Mexican population, which he considered barely civilize, was no more than an unorganized gaggle in a constant state of instability and revolution since gaining independence from Spain.

Henderson then sought to convince the Count that following independence the Texian people organized to establish a legitimate government. He laid out how the new government was formed and that it constituted a government with a separation of powers and republican representation with judicial, legislative, and executive branches that has brought a sense of “prosperity and harmony unparalleled in any other Country under similar circumstances.” He neglected to mention that the republic was petitioning for loans to cover its debts and pay for its ongoing conflicts with Indians and centralist sympathizers in the frontier areas. Henderson did, however, inform the Count that Texas has vast amounts of land that will yield a large amount of revenue for the state to further sway the belief that the nation would enjoy much future success and stability. Texas also possessed an abundance of cotton, rice sugar, tobacco and other commodities with which it could enter into trade agreement upon recognition from France. Texians would benefit from France’s silks, wines, finished cotton textiles, and other items of commerce.

Texas Secretary of State Robert Anderson Irion worried that the ongoing Mexican-French conflict was going to spill into Texas and cut off trade between it and the United States. Irion requested that Texas minister to England and France J. Pinckney Henderson communicate to the French King that the Mexicans had occupied the port of Corpus Christi and that Texas would not be opposed to the French extending their blockade to the Texian coast to prevent further encroachment by the Mexicans. Henderson did not like that idea because Texas was dedicated to convincing the French that the Republic was able to handle its own security. Houston then sent artillery and other munitions to Corpus Christi to end the occupation. Irion sent numerous letters to Texas minister to England and France J. Pinckney Henderson to hasten the King’s decision making. In the meantime, Texas and France entered into trade agreement that was beneficial to both nations despite a lack of formal recognition from the latter of independence even though the language of the treaty identified Texas a most favored “nation” and referred to its authorities as a government which stopped just short of outright recognition. The agreement was contingent on Texas remaining independent of Mexico. Ironically, the trade agreement that the British had proposed was contingent upon Texas remaining a part of Mexico, but the French deal was much more advantageous and was more in line with Texian priorities.

After the Texas elections of 1838, Texas withdrew its petition for annexation after the US Congress adjourned without acting on the issue. Newly elected President Mirabeau Lamar was more interested in building up the nation than wasting time chasing after the United States begging for annexation. Henderson excitedly relayed this information to the French and British governments in the hopes it would finally agree that Texas was an independent nation and would be in perpetuity. The following year, the French government was thrown into disarray due to the King’s censuring of the Chamber of Deputies for their mismanagement of foreign affairs.

J Pinckney HendersonIn early 1839, Texas ambassador to France, J Pinckney Henderson, continued to be frustrated that Texas had not sent official documentation identifying him as a representative of the Republic. He was at a standstill futilely trying to seek recognition from France without it. Concurrently, England was resistant to providing recognition while the Canadians remained a threat to their influence in the North American colonies. Great Britain was also opposed to Texas’s use and policy of slavery (as was France), though they admitted that the Texas constitution allowed the practice that the British were obliged to recognize as an independent nation (at least, as independent a nation as it was considered at the time without official recognition). In early Summer of 1839, Texas Finance Secretary James Hamilton and Texas Loan Commissioner Albert T. Burnley sent a secret, joint letter to President Lamar suggesting that he authorize the payment of $50,000 to French officials to expeditiously gain recognition. They concluded that without what amounted to a bribe it would take no less than six months to gain French approval; however, with the money the French would bestow recognition in less than a week. France desperately wanted to enter into a commercial trade agreement with Texas that would include recognition, but Henderson explained to Lamar that he wanted to obtain recognition before agreeing to such a Treaty. French Foreign Minister Baron Pontois informed Henderson that France had historically completed these types of negotiations with other nations in this manner and Henderson relayed details of the proposed agreement to President Lamar. Henderson explained that exporting Texian commodities to France would greatly benefit the Republic since many products were in high demand there. However, the French insisted on a constant stream of ever-changing demands for Texas to reduce tariffs even more on agreed upon products and include new reductions on others going so far as to accuse Texas of having inferior cotton to the United States. Henderson recognized this as an attempt to undermine negotiations and refused to back down on decreasing the duty on cotton, especially considering that it is no higher than on cotton from the United States. Henderson was also concerned that if he agreed to reductions of duties on Texian products, he would have to do the same for other European powers which would have negative consequences on the Texian economy.

Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois de Saligny

Both nations finally entered into an agreement and in September 1839, France was the first European nation to grant recognition to the Republic of Texas. French Chargé d’affaires, Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois (he would later add “de Saligny” to his name and introduce himself to Texian delegations as the Count de Saligny), was later sent to Texas to report on the conditions there to determine the stability of the nation prior to agreeing to any trade treaty. Saligny’s report was troublesome. In a letter to Texian Secretary of State Abner Lipscomb on March 6, 1840, Saligny bemoaned the conditions in Texas, specifically the threat of invasion by Mexico; the devaluation of the Republic’s star currency to 20 cents on the dollar; and problems with U.S. merchants who were concerned over potential trade agreements with European powers.

In February of 1841, another scandal threatened Franco-Texian relations when a servant from Saligny’s delegation in Austin was attacked by an inn keeper named Richard Bullock. Saligny claims that his servant was attacked unprovoked, but Bullock’s pigs had wondered into Saligny’s stables and began eating corn that was meant for Saligny’s horses. In response, the servant – named Eugene Pluyette – shot and killed the pigs. Angered by this, Bullock attacked Pluyette with rocks and then began thrashing him with a stick. An angered Saligny demanded that Texian Secretary of State James Mayfield punish Bullock after he had attacked Pluyette two more times, one of which was with an axe that inflicted serious wounds. Mayfield attempted to assure Saligny that Bullock was being dealt with through the legal process, but Saligny was unhappy with the delays of the slow moving legal system. When Mayfield informed Saligny that Bullock was set for trial and that Pluyette must appear before the court to testify against Bullock, Saligny fumed and castigated Mayfield for what he considered a breach in international protocol. He replied that he would allow Pluyette to submit a statement, but would not allow him to appear before the court. Mayfield responded that the Texas Constitution afforded to the accused the right to confront their accuser, to which Saligny reminded him that the protections and privileges of international law forbade foreign ministers and their staff from being called before foreign tribunals. At an impasse and angered by the delays, Saligny felt as if the character and trust that France had bestowed upon Texas was undeserving of the indignation and insult it was subjected to.

Texian leaders had had enough of Saligny. He had become a distraction and did more harm than good in fostering positive relations between the two nations. Prior to the “pig war,” Saligny had received counterfeit money that he received from New Orleans and knew to be counterfeit. He used this counterfeit money to pay to teamsters and others who helped to set up his delegation. Mr. Saligny refused to redeem the counterfeit money so that the poor teamster was reimbursed for his work. The Department of Treasury decided to reimburse the teamster $300 and buy back the counterfeit money to preserve public confidence in the integrity of the French delegate. Later, Saligny refused to pay his boarding fee that he considered too high. These incidents hampered efforts by Texas to obtain a five-million-dollar loan and caused French ambassador to temporarily move his delegation to New Orleans. Saligny continued to cause problems and forced Texian diplomats to write to the French king and request that Saligny be recalled and a replacement foreign minister take his place. The Republic desperately wanted to maintain positive relations with France, but this was impossible under the current circumstances.

Belgium was not initially considered a prospect and the newly formed independent nation was not even approached until 1839. Texas recognized that the key to financial solvency and international respect depended upon international commerce and spent a lot of time and energy in Europe, spurred on by delays obtaining United States recognition early on. Belgium turned out to a be a tough sell. The global economic situation made it difficult to negotiation treaties, especially considering the main motivation behind the Texas push for recognition was to secure loans. The king understood that Texas was rich in resources, but wanted land for colonization and heavily reduced tariffs on linens and weapons – the main sources of income for the Republic at the time. King Leopold was concerned about relations with Mexico should Belgium open up commercial treaties with Texas. After King Leopold learned that Great Britain had entered into several treaties with Texas in 1840, he felt more empowered to engage in negotiations again. Negotiations were slow because Belgium maintained a desire for land in exchange for a $7 million-dollar loan in addition to lower rates on goods. Finance Minister James Hamilton intentionally neglected to acknowledge Belgium’s desires for land and colonization in Texas and invited British diplomat Camille de Briey to send a representative to Texas to see for himself that the Republic was a stable and legitimate nation. The representative, an artillery captain name Victor Pirson, was not encouraged from the moment he landed in Boston.

After a pessimistic response by American President Tyler about his opposition to European meddling in North American affairs, Pirson was weary. Then, in New Orleans, he was again disappointed by a report that a British effort to secure land grants had fallen through and that negotiations between Texas and Mexico were getting increasingly hostile after Sam Houston was again elected President. Hamilton also learned that Houston had revoked his powers to engage in treaties and that previous loan bill had been repealed. Hamilton had operated largely without the guidance (or approval) of Congress and that angered Houston who criticized his diplomacy and believed that he was conspiring with the British to establish an anti-slavery colony in Texas. Belgium never officially entered into any treaties with Texas largely a result of its interests in Guatemala and a desire not to risk relationships with Mexico and the United States. They delayed so long that, by 1843, the prospect of Texan annexation into the Union made any further discussions about foreign treaties a moot point.

Texas had an impressive degree of success in foreign affairs, but that success was slow in coming. The constant threats from Mexican and Indian raids, debt, and the uncertainty of whether the United States would annex Texas further contributed to this delay. Additionally, foreign policy varied widely with each new president. Typically, any treaties entered into by a previous administration were nullified, regardless of how far along talks had progressed or how close to finalizing a deal they were. The question of annexation played a role in every relationship with European nations because it created uncertainty. Some nations were unconcerned with the question of annexation because they had positive with the United States and Texas becoming a state would not have had any impact of arrangements in the newly formed state. In its short ten-year lifespan, Texas diligently and untiringly pursued recognition and economic success.

Mounting debts, the never-ending threats of violence from Indians and Mexico, an inability for the government to get its feet on firm ground, and constantly shifting foreign policy strategies severely retarded any efforts at becoming a great and independent nation. Even though Texas only succeeded in attracting recognition by a small number of foreign nations, it secured other beneficial trade deals. Those trade deals were typically one-sided since Texans could not afford to pay for many products without selling land.

The first ratification treaty submitted to the Senate by President Tyler was reject by a nearly two-thirds vote. Instead of admitting Texas into the Union as a state, the treaty would have admitted Texas first as a territory, but it would have required the Texas to give up all public lands to the federal government. No doubt, this provision would have been rejected by Texas if it had been passed and submitted to Texians for ratification. They prized private property and the maintenance of Texian land remaining under the control of the territory upon annexation into the Union. Finally, the United States would have paid off all of the Texian debt once admitted as a territory, something that greatly threatened the solvency and continued existence of the Republic. The treaty was rejected after bitter debate over the question of admitting another slave state which would have tipped the balance away from the strength of the abolitionist movement that beginning to take hold across the country. Mexico continued to refuse to accept the independence of Texas and senators were concerned that adding the territory to the United States would spark a war with the Mexicans. The debate lasted for three weeks before it was ultimately defeated.

One of the reasons – besides simply not recognizing the independence of Texas – that the Mexicans were opposed to any treaty giving its former territory any sort of recognition was that Mexico was still unhappy with operations of the Texian Navy under Commodore E.W. Moore. Moore had essentially taken over the Gulf of Mexico without President Houston’s approval. Houston was adamantly opposed to Moore because of his brazen and open opposition to much of the president’s agenda. Many Texian’s, however, supported Moore’s actions. Moore was charged with seven counts, but the court only found him guilty on the charge of “disobedience.” For his part, Houston decided that his friendly relations with the British and French negated any need for a Texian Navy in the Gulf of Mexico and disbanded it. Some have suggested that the reason Houston disbanded the Navy was to ensure that unproved hostilities would persuade the United States to intervene and hasten annexation.

The British tried desperately to convince Texas not to sign on to the treaty and made several concessions that Britain hoped would lead to continued independence. The British Earl of Aberdeen made an enticing offer to Texas that offered to work with France to end the Mexican incursions and encourage them to recognize the borders that Texas claimed. By this point, Great Britain was no interested in pushing the anti-slavery narrative and completely ignored the issue in the act. They were no longer concerned with angering the United States and instead was hoping to stem the tide of American expansion to the greatest degree possible and even hinted that it would risk war in the achievement of this goal. Oddly it was willing to potentially go to war with the United States to prevent annexation, but it would that it would abandon the effort is Mexico refused to agree to it. It appears that Great Britain was more interested in protecting its relationship with Mexico than with the United States. Aberdeen assumed that war with the United States was unlikely because he did not think the they would dare to go to war with the combined might of Great Britain and France. The proposal died after neither Texas nor Mexico would acquiesce to its terms.

With the election of pro-annexation president James Polk, President Tyler quickly moved to pass another resolution to create the State of Texas. Several aspects of the second treaty remained in place. The United States would absorb the Republic’s immense debt, but Texas would have to sell some land to help pay it off instead of bequeathing it to the federal government. In the few years prior to annexation, the Texas economy had virtually crashed. The Texian “Red Back” currency was worthless and few transactions were made with currency. The barter system was used in more than 90% of all transactions at the time. News of annexation increased the value of the notes nearly on par with its printed value. The Republic would be annexed into the United States as a state instead of a territory and be required to adopt a new state constitution that was compatible with the federal constitution. Texians would have to approve both the annexation and the constitution prior to formal action. Most citizens were happy with the eventuality of becoming since the federal government would help to secure security and provide for a sounder monetary system to replace the failed Texian system.

In February1845, Congress passed the resolution and sent it to Texas for ratification and approval. On July 4, 1845 – a date chosen symbolically – Texas voted for delegates to form a convention to approve and adopt the terms of the treaty. They also began the arduous task of creating a state constitution. The constitution was approved by voters in October and in late December President Polk signed the Texas Admission Act, making Texas the 28th state of the Union after two years of bitter debate over admitting another slave state into the Union. Under the treaty, the United States absorbed the Republic’s immense debt, but Texas was required to sell off some land to help pay it off.

CJ Grisham, 1SG (Ret), US Army
Senior Research Thesis
Texas A&M – Central Texas
Fall 2017 Semester

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US Department of State. 1844. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Edited by Hunter Miller. Volume 4 Documents 80-121: 1836-1846 Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1934.

Wharton, William. William H. Wharton to President Sam Houston, February 2, 1837. Letter. TSLAC.

———. W.H. Wharton to Henry Smith, April 9, 1836. Letter. TSLAC.

It’s Not a War on Cops

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could lead to liability for officers making false arrests. Naturally, police unions and their apologists in the media and in conservative circles aren’t happy about this. The NY Post called the case a “war on cops,” but I would argue it’s everything but that. The case revolves around some arrests for “disorderly conduct” of some citizens at a party. “Disorderly conduct” statutes are incredibly vague in many states and I’ve seen quite often cops using these laws against people for simply standing up for their rights or yelling at an officer. In Texas, we had numerous arrests of people lawfully carrying firearms because people were calling the police claiming to be “alarmed,” which is a trigger word in Texas law. Every case was dismissed and the arrests should have never happened. In many cases, the arrested gun owners even had copies of the law that the police refused to even look at when making the decision to effect an arrest. We are suing them.

Hopefully, SCOTUS recognizes the problem we have with modern day policing. Almost unanimously, I hear cops saying “the place to argue is in the courts” or “we’ll let the courts decide” whether an arrest is legal. There is no personal responsibility nor consequences for a cop throwing someone in jail unjustly. They process the person into jail and simply move to the next person. When charges are thrown out, there’s no consequences for the arresting officer or the department. No training; nothing.

Meanwhile, a person falsely arrested must spend hours (or days) in jail being treated like dirt by jailers and waiting to get bailed out, which costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. They are required to wear demeaning clothing, eat terrible food, and obey nonsense orders from power mad handlers (shut up, face that way, sit down, stand up, don’t look at me, stop smiling, etc – I personally heard them all). Then, the person must find an attorney to find the bogus charges to get them dropped. Once charges are dropped because no crime was committed, that person doesn’t get that money back he had to spend. Not even a formal apology from the officer(s) or department.

This isn’t a problem of “gray areas.” I’ve literally seen with my own eyes a person READING the law to a cop that makes perfectly clear they are well within the law only to hear the cops say “that’s for the courts to decide” despite the wording of said law being totally unambiguous.

We don’t expect cops to be perfect and understand that they will make mistakes, but those mistakes affect the lives of other people. Some lose jobs and others lose income. The arrest is kept in the system so next time they are treated worse because now they’re a “problem child.” If someone is falsely arrested twice (this is common for activists) the court will raise the bond even higher for a minor charge. At some point, cops need to have consequences for those mistakes just as we do when we make them. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” remember?

The problem goes beyond this. Police are killing so many people for simply moving their hands that they are putting out videos telling people how to avoid being shot by a trigger happy officer who sees everyone as a threat. How demeaning to have to put our hands outside of the window as if we’re some kind of criminal thug trying to prove we aren’t guilty of a crime. I remember when everyone was supposed to be treated with respect and as innocent. My position is if the police can’t approach a vehicle without thinking everyone is out to kill them, they really need to get another job. Granted, they should always be cautious, but not at the expense of citizen comfort. When did our safety become subordinate to theirs? This video teaches gun owners that they basically have no rights if a cop pulls them over. The fact is that someone who hands over their license to carry isn’t a threat to them and, therefore, cops have no right to disarm them. If anyone should be afraid, it should be the people. The Crime Prevention Research Center found that cops are ten times more likely to commit a crime than licensed gun owners and yet we are the ones being disarmed.

The Supreme Court needs to start protecting the constitution and the government.

This Month’s Obsession: Bump Stocks

If you’ve been following the fall-out from the Las Vegas Shooting, you may have seen a familiar pattern emerge. Instead of looking at the broader causes and events of that night, the Left have decided that rifles fitted with bump stocks are now solely to blame for it.

To hear the NY Times tell the story, the only use of bump stocks is to commit mass murder, and there is a large majority in the country who want them to be banned. It might be true that a lot of people now want them banned, but what national polls like this fail to take into account is the number of people who only heard of bump stocks this month.

That is, a lot of people don’t have any experience with actually owning or using firearms, and so they are susceptible to whatever liberal propaganda is flying around at that particular moment. Right now, they are told that bump stocks are evil. Last year it was large capacity magazines, next year it might be pistol scopes.

The Truth

In reality, banning bump stocks is not going to prevent mass shootings like that we saw in Las Vegas. I know I’m repeating an old argument, but it is one that bears repeating – if someone is determined to commit mass murder, legal restrictions on firearms are the last thing they are going to worry about.

Now, I’m not going to use this column to defend bump stocks on their own. I’ve never used one, and they remain a pretty niche item. Instead, and in order to combat the narrow focus of the left, let’s look at weapon modification more generally.

There has been a long and illustrious history of people modifying their own weapons, especially for hunting purposes. Rifles like the AR-15 are especially popular for this, and a huge range of after-market parts are available to adapt everything from the lower receiver to the caliber. Why do people spend hours modifying their guns? To make them better suited to their needs.

I’m not going to sit here and defend every single adaptation that can be made to a firearm. Some are undoubtedly done for less than noble reasons – to make a gun look more macho, or simply because the owner had too much time on their hands. But the vast majority of modifications are made so that a gun is easier to use, more effective, and ultimately safer.

And this is the point – that if we allow bump stocks to be banned, irrespective about how we personally feel about them, this will open the way for more regulation. You might think bump stocks are useless, but the choice and freedom to use them is worth defending.

The Problem

The issue here is one that comes up every time there is a well-publicized mass shooting. Not many people on the left actually own and use guns on an everyday basis, and so they lack a broad view of the issues they are talking about. Without basic knowledge of how people use guns, the left are very susceptible to myths – some would call them lies – about firearms.

The newest obsession is bump stocks, but you don’t have to look far to see similar campaigns. The current debate about de-regulating suppressors has been warped by another such myth: that suppressors are “silencers” that allow criminals to kill their victims silently. Anyone who has actually used a “silencer” will know that this is definitely not the case. Guns are incredibly loud, whether they are fitted with a suppressor or not.

With regard to bump stocks, a set of reactionary legislation is already being presented. The latest bill designed to ban their use is bi-partisan, a rarity nowadays, and it seems like the horror of Las Vegas might lead to this bill passing.

In some ways, this is understandable. The public demand that “something must be done”, and politicians rush to do “something”, irrespective of the actual outcome. Whatever side of the gun debate you are on, however, it is clear that such a narrow focus on a relatively benign rifle modification is no way to be making policy.

In short, I would argue that the left need to take a much broader view on gun control, and that this can only be done by talking to those who own and use weapons on an everyday basis. Only by doing this can we avoid the debate lurching from one narrow issue to the next.

Every Democrat is an “Empty Barrel”

Liberalism (progressivism) is a mental disorder. There’s simply no other way to explain it. This whole flap is over the phone call to families of the fallen, specifically the family of SSG Johnson, who were killed in Niger that President Trump recently made. First of all, a phone call from a president to the families of the fallen is extremely rare, so the fact that Trump even made phone calls is to be lauded. Or should be.

According to the douchebag Florida Representative, Frederica S. Wilson, Trump disrespected the Johnson by allegedly saying that “[Johnson] knew what he signed up for.” Everything depends on the intonation Trump used in that statement. For example, “He knew what he signed up for” in the sense of “that’s what you get for touching the hot stove” or the “He knew what he signed up for” in the sense of “he loved his country and was willing to give the full measure in its service.”

Let’s think about this logically for a second. Why would a president with so many things on his plate call and disrespect a Gold Star widow? It makes no sense. It’s illogical. And quite frankly, I doubt ANYONE in government would call a Gold Star widow in any way. Wilson is a race-baiting peddler of lies. She’s doing what Democrats and progressives do best: looking for any opportunity to be “offended” and hating anything “Trump.” These idiots don’t just get offended, they look for ways to be offended.

Don’t believe me? After General John Kelley spoke at a press briefing correctly labeling Wilson and “empty barrel,” Wilson and her race-baiters-in-waiting took to the airwaves to feign another round of racial indignity. Somehow, a military term for people who talk a big game but accomplish or say nothing of value is now a racist term. I’ve heard that term for 20+ of my active duty life on everyone regardless of skin color, religion, sex or rank. For those that don’t understand the phrase, let me flush it out for you.

I’ve had these Soldiers that were ass-kissers. When they’re around you, they are always trying to impress you in the hopes it will somehow further their career. Sometimes, they even claim the successes or accomplishments of others to make themselves look good. So, when they are nearby they are quick to tout their cause, but there is nothing behind it. Their claims are hollow or empty – like an empty barrel. A gun barrel can be a great thing, but it’s worthless if it’s not loaded or, as in this case, there is no substance.

This is why Kelley was 100% right when he called Wilson an “empty barrel.” She’s all barrel and no shot. How anyone with even a 1st grade level of common sense can find anything racist about that phrase is beyond me, but the Democrats are up in arms and jumping on the “I’m offended” racist bandwagon. I wouldn’t doubt that the Democrats sent Wilson to do their dirty work so that when she was criticized she could immediately play the race card. For progressives, everything is about race.

“Hey, what beautiful clouds!” “THAT’S RACIST!!!”
“Did you enjoy your weekend?” “RACIST!!”

Wilson isn’t the only “empty barrel” in Washington, D.C. There are at least 240 (I added in John McCain and Susan Collins) “empty barrels” in Congress. Heck, let’s be honest: there are really 535!

Gun Control Reality And Statistics That Everybody Should Learn

By Professor Michael Wargo, October 9, 2017

There are 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms, and this number is not disputed. U.S. population 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.000000925% of the population dies from gun related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:

• 65% of those deaths are by suicide which would never be prevented by gun laws

•15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified

• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons – gun violence

• 3% are accidental discharge deaths

So technically, “gun violence” is not 30,000 annually, but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spanned across the nation?

• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago

• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore

• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit

• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)

So basically, 25% of all gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.

This basically leaves 3,825 for the entire rest of the nation, or about 75 deaths per state. That is an average because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169 and Alabama had 1.
Now, who has the strictest gun laws by far? California, of course, but understand, so it is not guns causing this. It is a crime rate spawned by the number of criminal persons residing in those cities and states. So if all cities and states are not created equally, then there must be something other than the tool causing the gun deaths.

Are 5,100 deaths per year horrific? How about in comparison to other deaths? All death is sad and especially so when it is in the commission of a crime but that is the nature of crime. Robbery, death, rape, assault all is done by criminals and thinking that criminals will obey laws is ludicrous. That’s why they are criminals.

But what about other deaths each year?

• 40,000+ die from a drug overdose–THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THAT!

• 36,000 people die per year from the flu, far exceeding the criminal gun deaths

• 34,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities (exceeding gun deaths even if you include suicide)

Now it gets good:

• 200,000+ people die each year (and growing) from preventable medical errors. You are safer in Chicago than when you are in a hospital!

• 710,000 people die per year from heart disease. It’s time to stop the double cheeseburgers! So what is the point? If Obama and the anti-gun movement focused their attention on heart disease, even a 10% decrease in cardiac deaths would save twice the number of lives annually of all gun-related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.). A 10% reduction in medical errors would be 66% of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides……Simple, easily preventable 10% reductions!

So you have to ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, why the focus on guns? It’s pretty simple: Taking away guns gives control to governments.

The founders of this nation knew that regardless of the form of government, those in power may become corrupt and seek to rule as the British did by trying to disarm the populace of the colonies. It is not difficult to understand that a disarmed populace is a controlled populace.

Thus, the second amendment was proudly and boldly included in the U.S. Constitution. It must be preserved at all costs.
So the next time someone tries to tell you that gun control is about saving lives, look at these facts and remember these words from Noah Webster: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force at the command of Congress can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power.”

Remember, when it comes to “gun control,” the important word is “control,” not “gun.”

Because I Can

I keep a news ticker on various subjects so that if a news story comes out related to something I’m interested in, I get an email with a link. Obviously, I have email alerts about gun control, the 2nd amendment, open carry, etc. I also have one on my name so that I know when I’m mentioned online (Michael Yon has the same news alert on my name). I saw a link today with a story in the Irish Times with the title “Irish in the US on guns: ‘I bought a handgun, just because I could.'” (title was changed at the link) Somewhat early in the story, one author – Robin Latham – writes,

Last year, it became possible to do what is called “concealed carry” – put a handgun in your inside pocket or briefcase – and wander around 41 states, provided you have done a three-hour, $90 class to get a permit So I bought a handgun, just because I could.

This peaked my interested because that is exactly why I buy and carry a gun! It’s also my famous response to disgraced thug and former Temple Police Officer Steve Ermis when he assaulted me, disarmed me, and falsely arrested me in 2013. It’s my right and that right is protected by the US constitution. I thought for sure this was going to be a great article until…

It wasn’t…

The article is full of the same passive aggressive attitudes that most liberal gun owners have. Yes, I know there are liberal gun owners, but they would freely give up their guns for the cause if they could achieve their goals. They have this mentality of “gun rights for me, but not for thee.” What I think is happening is that liberals can’t trust themselves with guns and are so inherently violent that they assume everyone else is as violent as they are and can’t be trusted with guns. This author even hints at my theory when he writes, “It scares me that I could now kill someone very easily if I wished.” I don’t know a single gun owner thinks, “wow, I can kill people if I want to!” It’s illegal to kill someone if you wish. You must do so in self-defense. But, sadly he goes on…

The trainer said if you show the gun you must shoot to kill or the other guy will kill you. No shooting to slow them down or hurt them; within ten seconds you will be dead. In theory, if someone tries to mug me or highjack my car, I can defend myself. I am armed and feel like James Bond, I’m not sure I could pull the trigger.

Whomever his trainer is needs to lose his ability to train. The correct advice should be “if you pull your gun, you should be prepared to use it, if needed.” To tell people that if they pull their guns they “must” use them is both irresponsible and potentially illegal. Most crimes are deterred by the mere presence of a firearm. For example, a homeowner hears someone at the door and goes to investigate with a firearm. Most the time, by either seeing the homeowner with a gun or hearing the homeowner shout that they have a gun, the criminal will run away. Crime deterred. Researcher Gary Kleck flushes this out perfectly. These are just as relevant self-defense gun uses (SDGU) as actually firing a shot, but they generally don’t make the news. Most gun owners I’ve spoken to over the years hope to never have to fire their gun in self-defense. It makes a mess and the person has to live with having to shoot someone. I know there’s a lot of bravado by some people who say “if you threaten me, I’ll cap yo ass” but the reality is that most people would probably prefer not to or they can’t when the time actually comes. I’ve seen Soldiers in combat I thought were bad assess freeze under pressure and I’ve seen Soldiers I thought wouldn’t survive combat be amazing bad asses.

That said, if this guy owns a gun and doesn’t think he could pull the trigger, he’s putting himself in even more jeopardy by owning and carrying a gun. If a criminal sense hesitation, he may use that to gain the advantage and can easily disarm him and then use the gun against him and/or others. Never buy a gun if you don’t how or aren’t willing to use it unless your sole purpose for having it is to go to a range for fun. You’re only endangering yourself and others. Latham does conclude his testimony with sage words: “My point is, people kill people. Not guns, knives or screwdrivers.” Amen!

Next up is a short letter by Seán Bailey from Kent, Washington, who shares a picture of a magazine rack full of gun magazines (the kind you read, not load). He immediately jumps head first into the BS: “I know a man with an arsenal of more than 24 weapons.” Seán, that’s not an arsenal, I assure you. That’s hardly a collection. He then whines that the “Gun culture is pervasive and so tangled with machismo and self-reliance here in the US that I see no end to it.” It’s not gun culture, little snowflake, it’s called the freedom culture. The freedom culture has been around as long as there have been guns. In fact, it was around in the time of swords, bows and arrows, and spears. This “culture” is the result of a desire to stay alive and having the means to do so.

Our next ignorant statist is Cormac Lambe from the ATL. Ole Cormac here touches on all the talking points of the left by lamenting the age old “fact that this ‘freedom’ even exists highlights the powerful influence of the gun lobby.” The gun lobby isn’t why the freedom exists. The fact that the freedom exists is why there’s a gun lobby. What the left can’t bring itself to admit is that any lobby is only as powerful as its membership and the number of people that support the cause. In other words, the “gun lobby” is so powerful because most Americans support the right to keep an bear arms in self-defense. So, this influence isn’t the result of some organization or nebulous force out there; it’s people who are representing the interests of their supporters. There’s a reason that when the Democrats held majorities in the Congress and the presidency that they couldn’t get gun control laws passed and Obama had to resort to silly, unconstitutional executive orders. Cormac continues:

Last Sunday night, Steven Paddock propelled to the fore of American consciousness a level of extreme gun violence that, until now, had been associated with organised foreign terror groups. Yet, pro-gun voices blithely dismiss the carnage as the inevitable actions of a madman, pointing to mental illness as the primary factor in the deaths of 58 concertgoers and the injuring 0f 500.

He is partially right. This was an extreme act of gun violence that should shock the system of anyone with a heart and brain, but it was not one that is only associated with foreign terror groups. I bring your attention to the Branch Davidian massacre, the “war on drugs,” and a standard weekend in Chicago – all perpetrated by government (and that doesn’t include foreign entanglements). But, I digress. I don’t think the problem is mental illness, though anyone would be mentally ill who suggests that the conscious decision to murder anyone – let alone 58 sitting ducks and hoping for more – is the act of a sane person. It takes a special kind of emotional and mental disturbance to take the life of another person for the sheer hell of it.

The fact is that these leftists continually focus on “gun violence” and try to ignore the larger violence problem. Contrary to what the left wants us to believe, violent crime has been on a consistent decline since the 90s. This drop has occurred despite the expiration of the assault weapons ban.

Meanwhile, the number of guns in the hands of law abiding Americans has substantially increased.

I’m not saying that the decline in crime is due to the increase in guns. What I’m saying is that we can’t point to guns being responsible for an increase in it. The argument that “more guns equals more crime” is simply fiction. Cormac doesn’t bother mentioning any of that. Speaking of which, let’s continue:

If momentum to address the issue cannot be found in the aftermath of such an atrocity, it is hard to see when that urgent, widespread tide of political will might eventually manifest. That said, there is angry debate, and the appal that the Vegas shooting has created seems to have – for now, at least – shifted public sentiment further toward tightening of regulations.

The problem here is that “tightening of regulations” won’t have any effect. Exactly what law would have stopped what happened in Vegas? Even Diane Frankenfeinstein had to admit that she’s “not sure there is any set of laws that could have prevented it.” That’s because there isn’t a way short of a banning guns completely and going door to door confiscating them with force to solve the problem. You can’t legislate away evil intent. Even then, it wouldn’t solve the problem because criminals don’t buy their guns legally anyway!

By the time we get to the fourth contributor of this hit piece on liberty, we find some sanity in Peter Healy from Kentucky.

It is very common to see police and everyday Americans walking down a street with loaded firearms on their hips. Just about everyone I know in Lexington owns multiple firearms and large amounts of ammunition. Myself included.

It’s not the Wild West, it’s the civilized self-protected mid-west. Since the bad guys all can acquire firearms, they are only too well aware that we the people do too, which keeps a relatively safe status quo.

By the way, Kentucky’s homicide and violent crime rates are lower than the national average. Just saying. I’m not going to spend a lot of time with Peter because I agree with him. 😀 Needless to say, though, this is the only balance the Irish Times attempted to achieve since the next person, Dominic Kennedy of North Carolina noted that he could buy an AR-15 and strap it on his back around, but considered this right “a pretty odd system.”

I was beginning to get worried that Texas was noticeably absent until I got to Ross O’Donovan of Houston, Texas. I braced myself for the inevitable assault on liberty, but I was surprised to read that

Less than two weeks ago an armed man shot people at random in a church in Tennessee, killing one and injuring multiple people. There would have been more killed only for a brave member of the public, a licensed gun holder, who restrained him, saving many lives in the process.

This is what the left refuses to acknowledge when they use their argument that gun control is needed because “If gun control saves one child, it’s worth it.” (Barack Obama, 2013) This is a self-destructive argument because, while both sides can use it, what most important the life of the individual who had a gun and lived because of it. The left only cares about the lives of those lost in tragedies while the right cares about the lives of everyone.

What I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere in the Vegas debate is the fact that the concert was a gun-free zone. Obviously, if guns were allowed there most likely wouldn’t have been people there with rifles that could have shot back, but that gun-free zone certainly didn’t protect them. There was no magical force field that absorbed the evil.

I oppose the Texas law that prohibits guns in “51%” establishment, this is those places where 51% or more of revenue is generated from on-premises consumption. This generally refers to bars and clubs. Why? Well, Ross explains that it’s because “Earlier this year a patron opened fire in a bar in Texas, killing the manager and injuring others until he too was killed by an armed patron acting in self-defence [sic], who clearly saved lives in the process.” I don’t drink; why should I be disarmed? There are many designated drivers that are in bars to ensure that people can drink responsibly. Why are they disarmed? It’s already against the law in virtually every state to be drunk and carry a firearm.

Unfortunately, Ross then lost his focus and reasoning: “I think in no way should someone be able to build up an arsenal of weapons like what was available to the shooter in Las Vegas.” The Las Vegas shooter had a total of 47 guns that the police are aware of. About half of them were with him in the hotel or in his vehicle. I know a LOT of people who have more than 47 guns for various reasons. Some are collectors, others competitive shooters, and others just want one of each for the novelty of having a name brand or as an investment (I have several investment firearms). Still others just like guns which is no different than someone liking and buying cars, baseball cards, swords, autographs, or Star Wars memorabilia. How is someone that owns one gun suddenly more irresponsible if they own an “arsenal” (whatever that means) of guns? I’m no more deadly with my [insert # here – use your imagination] guns than I would be if had more, less, or even a tank.

There are two more stories – one supportive of and one opposing the right to keep and bear arms – but I’m bored and I’ve written enough already (over 2,000 words at this point). Look, even if gun control was the answer to ending tragedies as we know them, to do so would still be immoral and violate the natural rights of man. The left can talk about repealing the 2nd amendment all they want, but the 2nd amendment didn’t grant us the right to keep and bear arms in self-defense just as the 1st amendment didn’t grant us the right to attend church or speak freely and it won’t take away those rights. These are inherent rights that our founders only included to serve as prima facie notice to the government to keep its hands off. They wisely foresaw the kind of government we have today where our voices, our bodies, and our guns are under attack. If the left values life as they say they do, they would back away from this idea of taking away guns or repealing the 2nd amendment. Either effort is likely to result in even more violence as the people recognize that tyranny has arrived again on American soil.

Jimmy Kimmel Gets It Wrong on Gun Control…Again

Before the bodies were even cooling, the gun control echo chamber on the left kicked into high gear to blame everything and everyone but the shooter himself. The constant and repetitive drum beat of Democrats using a tragedy to push their agenda of completely disarming the American public is difficult to ignore. They are grasping at anything they can to undermine any efforts at increasing government control of fundamental liberties by assuming that every American is as prone to mass murder as the Vegas murderer. Now we have late night talking head Jimmy Kimmel using his stage to spread even more ignorance and scare the American public into a mob frenzy for gun control.

I’d like to break down and refute what he said and also provide some context that he conveniently left out. Specifically, I want to talk about the issue he brought up where Congress and President Trump repealed a Social Security regulation that would have disarmed people with “mental health” issues. Obviously, no one wants individuals who are unhinged, violent, or incapable of safely handling guns to have them – not even the most extreme gun rights proponent like me. However, the SSA regulation – like many gun control regulations – was nonsense and accomplished nothing other than providing Democrats with an arrow in their quiver of methodically disarming the American public in favor of an ever expanding police state.

Kimmel claimed that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, heard voices inside his head. This is impossible to know since the shooter is dead and so far no information has been released that he left a note saying otherwise. Ascribing these voices to why a person would commit such an act of evil is simply a way to further demonize “mental health” and push an agenda. The goal of the left is to chip away at liberty anywhere possible. It started with the push to bar “felons” from possessing firearms. Naturally, the intent of that act was to ensure that violent people weren’t able to, presumably, hurt other people. Ignoring the fact that felons don’t care about the law, Democrats and Republicans have used this springboard to simply make more and more things felonies. For example, Martha Stewart is a “felon” but she has never been a threat to anyone. Writing a hot check is a felony in many places. There are thousands of “felonies” on the books that have nothing to do with guns or violence (I wrote about my thoughts on disarming felons here). In fact, one study suggests that Americans probably commit three felonies per day and don’t even know it. Paddock had no criminal record and no one has said they know of any indicators that would lead someone to believe that a law related to mental health would have stopped him.

During his opening monologue, Kimmel said, “in February [Trump] signed a bill that made it easier for people with severe mental illness to buy guns legally” and then proceeded to allude to that action somehow being responsible for the heinous shooting. This is patently false. The bill he is referring to is actually a resolution passed by congress to overturn an SSA regulation that would have potentially disarmed millions of law abiding and non-threatening Americans. The resolution was signed into law by President Trump. This is nothing more than a springboard to establish a baseline from which to add more criteria to a growing list of excuses to restrict individual liberty and grow a police state. Let’s delve into exactly what Kimmel and progressives are advocating for.

The regulation in question was added to the federal register in December 2016, just before Trump took office. It was a part of Obama’s executive order forcing departments to seek ways to abolish the 2nd amendment as much as they can. The SSA responded to this mandate by creating rules to “identify, on a prospective basis, individuals who receive Disability Insurance benefits…and who also meet certain other criteria, including an award of benefits based on a finding that the individual’s mental impairment” meets established definitions of what qualifies as mental impairment. This sounds good, right? The regulation required the SSA to report these individuals to the National Instant Background Check System (also known as NICS). Individuals trying to purchase guns from an FFL would be flagged and potentially denied the purchase of a firearm. The reporting would also potentially trigger efforts to actually seize firearms from those that pop up in the system, like the Vietnam Veteran who had sheriff’s deputies enter his home and relieve him of his lawfully possessed firearms because he was deemed “mentally defective.” The SSA is simply trying to make sure that mentally unstable people can’t have guns, right? Well, let’s a take a look at what the federal government considers “mental impairment.”

Here is a partial list of just some of the diagnoses that the SSA regulation would have used to disarm Americans that Kimmel is up in arms over the Congress repealing (you can read the full list here) and what symptoms the government considers in its diagnosis. I’m intentionally omitting the disorders that I truly understand would made someone a danger to themselves or others if permitted to “lawfully” carry a firearm – not that a this would stop them:

Neurocognitive disorders (12.02) – These include, but aren’t limited to disturbances in memory, language and speech, perception, insight, judgment, and “insensitivity to social standards.” What is “insensitivity to social standards” you may ask. Well, it means that you don’t conform to standards of modesty, in dress, or of political, religious, or sexual topics. In other words, if you don’t support gay marriage, you could be deemed “insensitive to social standards.” And heaven forbid you have a bad memory. Other examples in this category include, human immunodeficiency virus infection (ie: AIDS), traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and vascular malformation.

Depressive, bipolar and related disorders (12.04) – These are characterized by an irritable, depressed, elevated, or expansive mood, or by a loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities, causing a clinically significant decline in functioning. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, suicidal ideation, a clinically significant change in body weight or appetite, sleep disturbances, an increase or decrease in energy, psychomotor abnormalities, disturbed concentration, pressured speech, grandiosity, reduced impulse control, sadness, euphoria, and social withdrawal. Heaven forbid you have a decrease in energy. After all, how are you going to carry all those bags full of automatic rifles and ammunition to the 32nd floor without energy? Interestingly, under this criteria, I would be screwed. After all, I’m frequently irritable and have lost interest in many activities I used to really enjoy. I also deal with survivor’s guilt related to my combat time and need medications to sleep and suppress nightmares. My energy levels, fluctuate between lethargy to hyper-vigilance (which will show up later in this list). I think every politician and most cops suffer from “grandiosity” so this regulation could easily disarm every one of them.

Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders (12.06) – These disorders are characterized by excessive anxiety, worry, apprehension, and fear, or by avoidance of feelings, thoughts, activities, objects, places, or people. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, fatigue, panic attacks, obsessions and compulsions, constant thoughts and fears about safety, and frequent physical complaints. Examples of disorders that we evaluate in this category include social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia (fear of large crowds), and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is one of the sections that perfectly describe PTSD. PTSD is not limited to the effects of combat. Victims of major accidents, rape, assault, and other traumatic events exhibit these symptoms (more on these later as well). In essence, had this regulation not been repealed, anyone with PTSD that suffers from anxiety, depression, fear, or had difficulty concentrating, copes with trouble sleeping or restlessness and fatigue, or doesn’t like to be in crowded places could be placed in the NICS and be prevented from losing their right to keep and bear arms. Armed goons in riot gear could smash down your door and seize your private, lawfully owned property by force. If this were to remain in place, is it any wonder why 22 veterans per day are committing suicide when they’re afraid to seek help for fear of being singled out? That number doesn’t even include non-veterans with PTSD – diagnosed or not – who kill themselves daily at similar rates.

Personality and impulse-control disorders (12.08) – Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, patterns of distrust, suspiciousness, and odd beliefs; social detachment, discomfort, or avoidance; hypersensitivity to negative evaluation; an excessive need to be taken care of; difficulty making independent decisions; a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control; and inappropriate, intense, impulsive anger and behavioral expression grossly out of proportion to any external provocation or psychosocial stressors. The regulation does not define what an “odd belief” is. Who gets to determine that? I think it’s an odd belief if someone who was born a man think he’s a woman. I think it’s an odd belief that people think government is responsible for your personal protection. I think it’s an odd belief to support government unconditionally and without question. I don’t even want to go into how someone with a “preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and control” is unfit to have a firearm. My wife loves orderliness, but I think she’s amazingly well-adjusted and sane. I think every liberal snowflake that whines about “triggers” and “micro-aggressions” are hypersensitive to negative evaluations (crap, did I just trigger them?). Perhaps the government wants to disarm those who “distrust” or are “suspicious” of them because they are concerned that their social engineering and brainwashing is unacceptable.

Autism spectrum disorder (12.10) – Autism is a very complex issue. Those who have it have such a wide range of experiences, attitudes, personalities, and life realities that it’s nearly impossible to pin down exactly who should truly be disarmed. Yes, there are some with autism that aren’t capable of responsibly handling a firearm, but most are easily treatable. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, abnormalities and unevenness in the development of cognitive skills; unusual responses to sensory stimuli; and behavioral difficulties, including hyperactivity, short attention span, impulsivity, aggressiveness, or self-injurious actions. At a time when we’re trying to destigmatize autism, do we really want to tell them they are not worthy of their natural born rights?

Neurodevelopmental disorders (12.11) – Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, underlying abnormalities in cognitive processing (for example, deficits in learning and applying verbal or nonverbal information, visual perception, memory, or a combination of these); deficits in attention or impulse control; low frustration tolerance; difficulty with organizing (time, space, materials, or tasks); and deficits in social skills. I mean, seriously? What does one’s difficulty to organize have to do with an ability to own a firearm? It’s not there are multiple ways to load a magazine. They are specifically made in a manner that bullets can only be loaded one way. Is the fear here that people will not be able to organize their gun safe and that may cause a catastrophic meltdown in society leading to anarchy? Perhaps if the Las Vegas shooter were less organized, he wouldn’t have been as efficient.

Eating disorders (12.13) – Okay. I really need some help here. What is the government afraid of? Are people with eating disorders going to shoot their food? What does being anorexic or bulimic have to do with being trusted with a firearm? These disorders are characterized by disturbances in eating behavior and preoccupation with, and excessive self-evaluation of, body weight and shape. I think that pretty much covers every woman in America, except the progressive feminists who think its actually attractive to be morbidly obese. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, restriction of energy consumption when compared with individual requirements; recurrent episodes of binge eating or behavior intended to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or misuse of laxatives; mood disturbances, social withdrawal, or irritability; amenorrhea; dental problems; abnormal laboratory findings; and cardiac abnormalities. I can understand why we should worry about someone misusing laxatives. After all, who wants to have someone projectile shoot diarrhea out their arse and contaminate your Taco Bell Big Box meal? My wife is constantly exercising. She power walks usually twice a day and hits the gym at least once a day. To many people who prefer to eat potato chips…never mind, that’s covered too. But, what is “excessive” and why is that bad? And mood disturbances? Can we disarm Nancy Pelosi now?

Trauma- and stressor-related disorders (12.15) – This is perhaps the one that concerns me the most. Essentially, what Kimmel wants to do in whining about Trump signing a law to remove this unconstitutional regulation is disarm victims of sexual abuse, rape, domestic assault, major vehicular accidents, and other traumatic events. In fact, I’m willing to bet that many of the people who were either injured or witnessed someone being injured or killed in Vegas will suffer from one of these disorders. These disorders are characterized by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or stressful event, or learning of a traumatic event occurring to a close family member or close friend, and the psychological aftermath of clinically significant effects on functioning. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, distressing memories, dreams, and flashbacks related to the trauma or stressor; avoidant behavior; diminished interest or participation in significant activities; persistent negative emotional states (for example, fear, anger) or persistent inability to experience positive emotions (for example, satisfaction, affection); anxiety; irritability; aggression; exaggerated startle response; difficulty concentrating; and sleep disturbance.

As we can clearly see, this regulation was overly broad and could literally be interpreted to disarm just about anyone. Anyone with contrary political motivations or ideas could be disarmed by political opponents. Anyone who challenged abusive police actions could fall under this regulation. It doesn’t take into account individuals, but disorders. Millions of Americans fall under at least one of the criteria above and function perfectly well in society. They are contributing members of society who don’t have a violent bone in their body.

I hate making comparisons to Nazi Germany, but this regulation is reminiscent of how the Weimer Regime laid the groundwork through laws and regulations that Hitler would later use to, ironically, disarm those loyal to the Weimer regime, political foes, and “undesirables.” These regulations seemed innocuous at the time, but were then broadly interpreted to disarm and isolate millions of people. Now before I am diagnosed with being “insensitive to socio-political standards, I don’t believe our government is anywhere near the potential for an American Hitler to come to power, these regulations would definitely be a stepping stone. In order for tyranny to reign, one must first disarm the people. In repealing this regulation, Congress and President Trump rolled back just one tool that a statist tyrant could use to push his agenda. Others include passing laws to ban modern sporting rifles, body armor, adding people to a “no-fly list” without a warrant or hearing and then making them a prohibited person, and other measures being pushed by Democrats and anti-gun Republicans. We must be ever-vigilant against these encroachments. Thankfully, we no longer have to worry that doing so will put us on a list!

Finally, those on the left that want the Obama-era regulation put back into effect would likely be disarmed under its provisions. Most on the left are mentally unhinged anyway as evidence by the BLM, antifa, and Red Guards movement. They are sealing their own fate by pushing such a reckless and dangerous regulation, but the left never was smart enough to recognize that their own policies rarely have anything but the opposite effect they desire.

image of solider putting on shooting glasses and eye protection when watching the 2017 eclipse

Amazon Has a Serious Quality-Control Problem that Could Put Shooters at Risk

When it comes to convenience and low prices, it doesn’t get much better than Amazon. Like many other shoppers, I shell out the $100 per year for a Prime membership, because once you’ve had free two-day shipping, anything longer is an agonizing wait.

I really like what Amazon has done in some areas of e-commerce. The retail giant has been a gamechanger, and its product selection is unmatched. But that massive product selection is a double-edged sword.

When you let almost everyone sell their products on your site, of course the quality of these products will go down and there’s a higher risk of counterfeiters. That has been the case with Amazon, and it’s starting to seem like every other item is some cheap Chinese knockoff.

Now, that’s not a big deal for many types of products. If a customer gets a t-shirt from China or somewhere else and the quality turns out to be terrible, it’s not the end of the world. They can probably get a refund, anyway.

But for gun enthusiasts like myself, Amazon’s lack of quality control is a serious problem. If I buy eye and ear protection for shooting, I need to know that it’s going to do its job. Otherwise, it could have lifechanging consequences.

How much of an issue is this, and how much risk is there in getting shooting equipment on Amazon? First, it’s important to understand how Amazon sells products and why the number of low-quality products is growing.

Low-Quality Products on Amazon Are More Common Than Ever

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you’re probably still familiar with shopping on Amazon. But if you haven’t sold products there or read about how that works, you may not know the ins and outs of selling on Amazon.

Amazon is part retailer, part marketplace. It has its own inventory of products that it sells on its site, but it also allows third parties, including individuals and companies, to sell their own products or existing products. Let’s say that you have a new pair of headphones you want to sell on Amazon. If these headphones are on Amazon, you would sell them through its current product page. If they aren’t, you would need to create a new product page.

You don’t need to ship anything to your customers, either. Amazon also offers a Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program, which allows sellers to send their inventory to Amazon’s warehouses before they’ve sold anything. Your products then qualify for Prime shipping and Amazon ships them out every time a customer makes a purchase.

This is all good in theory, but here’s what ends up happening – Chinese manufacturers undercut everyone with cheaper, lower-quality products. Many American Amazon sellers source their products from China, and Amazon itself registered with the Federal Maritime Commission so that Chinese companies can send goods by sea to Amazon’s warehouses here in the United States.

It can happen with any product. One Amazon seller, Jamie Whaley, patented a product called BedBand and sold it on Amazon for $13.99 per set. In 2013, business was booming. Two years later, many Chinese manufacturers had their own cheaper versions of her product, and they racked up scores of inauthentic reviews to outrank her in the search results.

That’s a big blow to the seller’s revenue, and Whaley is far from the only seller to have this happen. The proliferation of cheap Chinese goods isn’t just a problem for sellers, though. There’s also the possibility of a customer purchasing counterfeit goods.

There have been Facebook groups with hundreds of Amazon sellers reporting that their own products and deigns were copied by other sellers and sold at much lower costs. To customers, these products seem completely legitimate, especially when they’re part of Amazon’s FBA program.

If a customer notifies Amazon that a seller sent them a counterfeit product, Amazon can ban the seller, but the company isn’t actively policing its listings to find counterfeit products. Its system is entirely reactive, not proactive, and that can be hazardous to its customers.

Solar Eclipse Glasses Exposed the Danger in Amazon’s Reactionary System

The most recent example of how dangerous counterfeits can be on Amazon came with the August 21 solar eclipse. The experts warned us all to avoid staring directly at it without wearing a special pair of solar eclipse glasses, and of course, Amazon was selling plenty of those.

The problem was that only glasses certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) were safe to wear. Many of the options listed on Amazon as “solar eclipse glasses” didn’t have this certification. And even among those that didn’t, some sellers listed their glasses as “ISO-certified” anyway.

On August 10, Amazon emailed any customers who purchased potentially unsafe solar eclipse glasses to warn them and offer refunds. It also ended up blocking any sellers of solar eclipse glasses that weren’t on an approved list.

But again, this was solely a reactionary measure, and by that time there had already been plenty of orders for potentially unsafe glasses. One couple claims that they used solar eclipse glasses purchased from Amazon and have dealt with headaches and vision issues after the eclipse. They said they never received an email warning them not to use their glasses, and because of what happened, they’ve filed a class-action lawsuit.

The solar eclipse was a major event with plenty of media attention, which is one reason that Amazon was able to provide at least some notice regarding counterfeit glasses. What if you’re purchasing everyday products that need to be up to a certain standard, though?

Those Ear Muffs and Glasses from Amazon May Not Do Their Job

No gun range will let you shoot without your eyes and ears. You need eye protection, either with goggles or glasses, in case a shell casing or anything else comes flying towards your eye while you’re shooting. You need ear protection to prevent hearing loss, which can occur from the noise of just one gunshot.

You can get eye and ear protection shipped right to your door with Amazon, but just like with those solar eclipse glasses, there’s the possibility that you’re getting products that aren’t up to snuff.

When it comes to ear protection, ear muffs that provide the proper level of protection for shooters must be certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Many of the ear muffs on Amazon don’t have an ANSI certification. Even if you find ear muffs that say “ANSI-certified,” that may not be accurate. Remember, there were sellers slapping “ISO-certified” on solar eclipse glasses even though it wasn’t true.

Laura Harvsey confirmed this issue with her research, and stated “There are many ear protection products marketed to shooters on Amazon that have no ANSI certifications, and in some cases, sellers stamp on illegitimate certifications to deceive customers.”

Eye protection for shooters must meet ANSI and ISO requirements for certification, and this is another area where the products on Amazon fall short. For civilian shooting glasses like these, the eyewear must be compliant with ANSI Z87.1 high impact and ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 industrial safety standards. Military glasses must meet even stricter requirements, and only those that can do that end up on the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL).

Unfortunately, there isn’t a marking system for ballistic eyewear, which makes it difficult to separate the legit eyewear from the knockoffs.

How Can You Identify Low-Quality Products and Biased Reviews?

This isn’t to say that all the shooting-related products on Amazon are bad. There is effective eye and ear protection available. No matter what you’re shopping for on Amazon, you should know how to spot counterfeit products, low-quality knockoffs and biased reviews.

The first thing you should do is research the seller before you buy a product. A quick search can often tell you all you need to know. Is this seller only using Amazon? This is far more common with sellers who only offer cheap, low-quality products. When you can find a website for the seller or, even better, an actual brick-and-mortar store, it’s far more likely that they care about the quality of their products.

When it comes to reviews, it’s tough to tell who actually liked a product and who got paid to write a fake review. Companies often pay customers to write positive reviews, or they’ll even set up dummy accounts, purchase their own products and write positive reviews themselves. With that method, all those reviews will also be verified, which means they look more trustworthy because they show that the customer really purchased the product.

The easiest and quickest option is plugging the Amazon product into Fakespot. The site conducts an analysis of the product’s reviews and provides its opinion on the validity of those reviews.

Caution is the Name of the Game

I’m not looking to scare anyone away from Amazon, and there are plenty of products you can buy there without worrying about counterfeits, such as books and movies.

However, when it comes to any type of safety products, make sure you do your homework. It’s not worth getting the best deal on a pair of ear muffs if you end up with permanent hearing loss. Research the seller before you get any shooting safety products on Amazon, and when in doubt, go with a product that has a certification you can verify.

The Case for “Price Gouging”

While I was listening to Neil Cavuto on Fox News earlier, I was shocked about what was being said during an interview with the Florida Attorney General. The subject of the interview was “price gouging” in the state. Pam Bondi, the AG, is a supposed Republican but she made clear that she was going to aggressively pursue those that were “price gouging.” Both Bondi and Cavuto were outspoken against the practice. You may ask why I put that in quotation marks. Let me explain.

First, how does the State of Florida define “price gouging?” According to the AG website,

Florida Statute 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends. Examples of necessary commodities are food, ice, gas, and lumber.

Florida law and the attorney general are either not Republicans if they support this law or the Republicans have turned their backs on capitalism and the free market. What the state deems “price gouging” is really nothing more than supply and demand in action. I realize that some people may think this to be a heartless position, but those that oppose “price gouging” are actually more heartless.

During an emergency situation like this, we see people rush to stores and begin cleaning off shelves of every type of food, especially water. Prior to Hurricane Irma threatening the state, the price of a case of water was probably less than $3 for a case of 24 bottles. At least, that’s what I saw last week while in Florida to see my father who died this past weekend. A gallon of water probably cost $1. Now that the state is facing an historic hurricane in Irma, everyone is freaking out because they didn’t prepare ahead of time. I live in Central Texas, but we have enough water to last us at least two weeks or more. That’s for a family of four. I’ve heard stories of a case of water now going for as much as $99.

While I think paying $99 is both cold and heartless on the part of the seller and utterly idiotic for any buyer, this is how the free market works – and it’s not a bad thing. See, Florida restricts anyone from charging more for a commodity that “exceeds the average price…during the 30 days” before the emergency declaration. That means that the high demand, which is impacting the short supply, can’t be adjusted in an emergency.

There’s actually a very valid reason for raising prices on these commodities. With prices being artificially maintained at a lower cost than their value, the state is actually encouraging hording. Since stores can’t raise the price of water substantially to manage demand, it’s very easy for a single person or a few people to buy up entire stocks of inventory. By raising prices, it effectively reduces the quantity that a person can buy and leaves room for more people to purchase a popular product even if at a higher price. Sure, they can’t buy as much, but more people are able to buy SOMETHING. With prices mandated at lower levels, many people are left with nothing because there is no restraint on buying.

Naturally, there are some measures that can be put into place to mitigate this, like putting a minimum purchase allowance on these items, but then people only need to either visit other locations or have family members separately purchase their minimums. There are really no controls and nothing to stop people from getting back in line or going to different cash register. Higher prices control for that and keep people honest.

Real conservatives and libertarians shouldn’t be attacking businesses or individuals that are trying to profit off of a disaster. After all, there are many businesses whose sole service is predicated on natural disasters. Don’t roofers, contractors, plumbers, and carpenters also profit off of them? If someone is selling a product for $99 like the douchebag on Amazon and another person is willing to pay $99 for that product even though its real value is probably $5-10, then so be it. That’s how the free market works. We don’t have to like it, but if you believe in a free market and capitalism, you should at least recognize and support it philosophically.

If the government is so concerned with price gouging of commodities, then the government should provide those products to affected citizens at either a lower cost or free. After all, this is the true nature of government as opposed to regulating who we can marry, what kind of insurance we should have, or selling lemonade on the curb in our neighborhoods.

The AG’s website does contain some good advice, however:

• Plan ahead. Prepare for a disaster before it happens. Always have the following items on hand:
• Five gallons of drinking water per person in your household
• At least two working flashlights
• A portable radio
• A telephone with a cord – If the electrical power is lost, a cordless telephone will not work
• An ample supply of batteries to power these and other items
• A full tank of propane and charcoal if you have a charcoal grill
• Non-perishable food items
• Formula and diapers, if you have young children in the home

I recommend buying a 55-gallon drum and keeping it in your garage or someplace where you can keep the temperature mostly controlled and out of direct sunlight. Add about 1/8 cup of bleach (chlorine bleach, not scented or bleach substitutes) to the water to keep it sanitized. This is a safe dose to drink when needed, but I recommend removing the lid and letting it evaporate or air out for about an hour. If you have smaller storage containers, use about one tablespoon of bleach per gallon. You can also fill your empty milk jugs with water, but keep in mind those are very thin and can be easily punctured. Also, try to store your water in PETE plastic bottles as opposed to the HDPE (usually not clear). If you’re a soda drinker, refill those bottles as well with tap water. You can also fill up Ziploc bags (don’t get the cheap ones) and freeze them for an emergency. Don’t fill them up all the way to ensure space for expansion. Having some beverage powders also makes it more tolerable over long periods so you aren’t just drinking tasteless water.

As for food, we stock up on dehydrated fruits and vegetables as well as dry milk throughout the year. We also have a bunch of cans of wheat, sugar, and beans. Ramen and dry noodles are easy and inexpensive items to include in your food storage. If power is out for an extended period, obviously you want to eat your refrigerated foods first, but keep the door open as little as possible. Most big box stores like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Home Depot have the 5-gallon sealable buckets that you can put your food storage in. Dried foods are generally good for years before they spoil or need to be replaced.

Something that wasn’t included in the AG list of things to have on hand are portable rechargers for your phones.
While it’s on the pricier side of chargers, I recommend the Omnicharge for your emergency kit. I was lucky enough to have bought mine at about 60% off the list price when it was nothing more than a crowd-sourced idea. I love this thing. It charges my laptop once and my phones…I don’t know how many times because I’ve never needed to charge a phone more than three times and it had plenty of power left. It can charge multiple devices at a time and if you have a USB splitter can charge a virtually unlimited number of devices. I use the OmniCharge 20. Like I said, it’s going to set you back about $250, but it does and costs the same for one family as purchasing a bunch of individual chargers for each person.

If phone service is down, I recommend having a few Baofeng radios on hand as well. We use these at our rallies, in the militia, and at III%er or Oath Keeper events. They are good for long distances and can also keep you informed on what is going on by tuning to specific channels. They are rechargeable and can be recharged through a USB. Most vehicles have chargers and it probably doesn’t hurt to get a DC converter for your vehicle to charge items that don’t use a USB.

By being prepared, you will have not to rely on government and you will not be caught off guard by high prices in an emergency. Remember, you either support the free market and capitalism or you don’t.

keeping guns locked in a gun safe will not prevent violence or terrorism

More Gun Laws Aren’t a Solution to Violence

Any time there’s a shooting on American soil, it’s not long before the media follows with stories saying “I told you so” and stressing how we need better gun control. I try to keep myself informed of what the other side of the debate is saying, but it gets difficult with the blatant misinformation reporters will use in an attempt to prove a point. Case in point – I couldn’t believe when a reporter for a major news organization said an AR-15 felt “like a bazooka” and gave him “temporary PTSD” last year.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why those on both sides of the debate feel so strongly about it. In the wrong hands, firearms can take the lives of innocent people. But most gun owners are responsible with their firearms and don’t like the thought of anyone infringing on their rights. This is backed up by data and years of personal experience.

When it comes to gun rights, there are several important factors that many people are unaware of.

The Media Usually Gets it Wrong

There’s so much misinformation today in the media that it’s hard to know who to trust. You can’t take the news at their word. Sometimes, they use selective editing to support their own agenda. This is especially common with headlines, which can be far more sensational than the content of the articles themselves. Other times, the news is flat-out wrong.

After the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub, many newspapers reported that the shooter used an AR-15. The AR-15 gets a bad rap because it’s the most popular rifle in the country and because many mistakenly believe “AR” stands for “assault rifle.” It actually stands for “ArmaLite Rifle.” A police chief had said the shooter at Pulse used an “AR-15-type assault rifle,” and this was later determined to be a Sig Sauer MCX. This didn’t stop people from calling for a ban on AR-15s.

The media is similarly misleading when reporting on the number of gun owners in the country. This is a difficult statistic to track anyway, since gun owners often like to keep that information private. Poll results vary, but most show gun ownership has held steady for decades. That hasn’t stopped multiple news outlets from claiming that gun ownership in the United States has reached “a record low” and “its lowest point since the 1970s.”

There’s an obvious agenda with many news outlets to paint gunowners as this crazy, fringe group that’s getting smaller by the year. What they typically fail to mention is the millions of gunowners across the country who never cause any issues.

The Truth About Violent Crime and Gun Control

The obvious argument for gun control or at least stricter gun laws is that it will cut down on gun violence. Does the statistical evidence support that notion? The answer is a resounding “no.”

Let’s look at areas, including states and countries, that have instituted a ban on either handguns or any type of gun. This has happened in Great Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Washington D.C. and Chicago, and in each of those places, the homicide rate increased after the ban took effect.

Despite all the talk about the relaxed gun laws in the United States, the rate of gun homicides dropped by 49 percent from 1993 to 2013. And the number of guns available in the country has greatly increased during that same time. Experts can only estimate the number of guns available, but those estimates indicate the number of available guns has gone up by about 5 to 10 million per year.

The media also frequently mentions the number of gun-related deaths in the United States. What it fails to mention is that the majority of these deaths are suicides, as the number of suicides by gun is almost double the number of homicides by gun.

After a tragedy that involves a gun, the kneejerk reaction is to call for greater gun control. The numbers don’t support the effectiveness of this, and there’s another issue with touting gun control as the answer to these problems.

News Flash: Banning Guns Won’t Stop Acts of Terrorism

The sad truth is that if someone wants to murder a large number of people, they can find a way to do it. Many have selected firearms as their weapons of choice, but there are plenty of other options out there.

Gun control didn’t stop the 2016 attack in Nice, France, when terrorists used a cargo truck to kill 86 people and wound 458. It didn’t stop the recent attack in Barcelona, Spain, when terrorists drove a van into a crowd of people, killing 13 and wounding 130. If someone wants to harm others and they can’t get their hands on a gun, they won’t give up on the idea. They’ll find another method.

Vehicles have proven just as deadly as guns. I don’t see anyone calling on background checks before buying SUVs. We could just require everyone to use public transportation and stop letting anyone drive except for bus drivers. Of course, this would never fly, because it wouldn’t be convenient and it would infringe on people’s rights. But for some reason, the same people who would scoff at this idea are fine with infringing on someone’s right to bear arms.

Improving Gun Control Laws in the United States

Our gun laws must strike a delicate balance. The Founding Fathers considered the right to bear arms so important that they made it part of the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights, indicating that it’s something the government should never able to take away from its citizens.

The U.S. government runs on a system of checks and balances to prevent any branch of government from having too much power. The right of the citizens to bear arms also acts as a check on government power. The Founding Fathers wanted citizens to be able to defend themselves from potential government tyranny.

This means that taking away the right to bear arms is out of the question. Not only would it be almost impossible to pull off, but it goes against a fundamental principle of this country. People love to mention the stricter gun laws in Canada, or France or Germany, while ignoring the violent crime that occurs in those countries. But none of those countries were built on the same set of principles as the United States of America. Their way of doing things is fine for them, but it’s not for us.

What about better controlling who has access to guns? Federal law already requires that licensed dealers perform background checks for gun sales. Universal background checks aren’t a requirement, which means private sales can occur without background checks.

Requiring universal background checks sounds like a good idea in theory, but it would be difficult to implement because it would require all gun owners to register their guns with the government. That’s very unrealistic. Most gun owners don’t want to give the government information about what they have, and considering the violations of privacy the government has committed on its citizens over the years, that’s understandable. Read about what Edward Snowden revealed and tell me if you want to volunteer more information to the government.

“What About Safe Storage Laws?”

This is a common questions I get from gun control advocates.

Their argument is that, in the absence of banning certain guns and ammo, another way to legislate safety without infringing on our 2A rights would be safe storage laws. These types of laws would require gun owners with children to keep their firearms locked up, either in a storage closet or gun safe. The basic gist of these laws is that they protect children (and thieves) from using the firearm irresponsibly, and hurting themselves or others.

Look, I’m all for keeping your gun out of the wrong hands. If you spend most of your time at home, then investing in a quality safe is the right move. The quality of most gun safes today is much higher than it was when I bought my first gun, protecting against fire, water, and pretty much everything else you could imagine.

But are mandatory safe storage laws really necessary?

No “one size fits all” requirement will ever meet the needs of all American gun owners as everyone’s circumstances are different. Responsible gun owners without children in their homes will invariably have different storage needs than people with children in their homes.

If you have kids, it’s already common knowledge that you should keep your firearms in a secure gun safe so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. But if you’re a single man or woman or are married to a fellow gun enthusiast, you should be able to keep your guns wherever you please. A childless couple or single person may want to keep a handgun in their bedside table for instance. Gun owners who live in high-rise apartments will usually have different needs than a person or persons who live in the backwoods or the wilderness.

Firearms kept at home be stored inaccessible to unauthorized persons, including children. The NRA believes — and I agree — that it is and should remain the responsibility of the individual firearm owner, not the government, to determine how to ensure that guns are safely stored, and I couldn’t agree more.

Enforcement of a storage law could lead to abuses of civil liberties.

Enforcement of a storage law could lead to searches of homes in violation of Fourth Amendment protections. When we get into the realm of arbitrary storage laws, we reach a point where our civil liberties are stripped away and where Marshall law could be imposed at will.

This does not bode well for those of us who have enjoyed the safety and security that comes with owning firearms. Lots of American gun owners and civil libertarians know all about the fate that befell the British when mandatory storage laws went into effect. We don`t want to see that same awful fate occurring in our own country.

As far back as the 17th Century, the right to keep and bear arms was a time-honored tradition in Britain, but the passage of the Firearms Act of 1920 laid waste to that heritage. All of a sudden, citizens could own rifles and handguns only if they could prove they had a worthy reason for applying for a police permit or “firearms certificate.” Back then, self-defense qualified as a worthy reason for obtaining a firearms certificate.

Alas, the times they did a-change and, in 1936, British “bobbies” started implementing the following requirement for firearms certificates: “The firearms and ammunition to which this certificate relates must at all times when not in actual use be kept in a secure place with a view to preventing access to them by unauthorized persons.”

Nowadays, if you live in Britain, self-defense is not an acceptable reason for owning a gun. In some areas, the bobby cops won’t even issue or renew a firearms or shotgun certificate without conducting an invasive in-home visit to make sure that their standards for safe storage are met.

There is no legal authority for these inspections, but if a gun owner refuses to open his door to the police, his/her certificate will not be approved and there’s nothing he/she can do about it.

In several jurisdictions, the cops don’t just require gun safes but alter the standards for those safes on a whim. In a lot of districts, an acceptable safe is one that can withstand a half-hour attack by a burglar armed with a set of safe-cracking tools. And if it isn’t already clear, enforcement of storage laws distracts police officers from focusing on what they should be focused on—fighting crime.

So, while those who are tasked with protecting and serving us are supposed to be cracking down on illegal firearms, under strict and unnecessary storage law, these brave men and women would instead be hassling the law-abiding citizens of our country who own registered firearms.

Like any other responsible gun owner, I’m always saddened when a shooting occurs, and I don’t want guns in the wrong hands. But I also realize that despite what’s often in the headlines, gun homicides are going down, and more gun laws aren’t going to put an end to violence. They would only infringe on the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution, and emotional outcry because of a tragedy is no reason to take away fundamental rights from citizens of this country.