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.

Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis

The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

Is Keanu Reeves Out-Gunning You

I’ll be honest, I haven’t done much competitive shooting. Not because I can’t, but because I don’t have a lot of time to invest in it. When I have time, I prefer to work on precision, not speed. Now, I do quick draw and fire drills because odds are that if I need to use my firearm, I’ll need to be quick on the draw and quick on the trigger. I just focus more time on point targets, muscle memory, and shot placement.

I don’t know what Keanu Reeves’ stance is on gun control, but it would appear that he’s pretty competent in handing guns. I guess if I had the kind of money he did, I’d pay to have the best instructors I could find to help me shoot better. He probably got a lot of free training as a benefit for some of the roles he’s played in Hollywood. Regardless, I thought this was a cool video and wanted to share it with you. The John Wick star is an impressive shooter.

Transgenders Incompatible with Military

Trump announced today that so-called “transgendered” people would no longer be able to serve in the military overturning an Obama policy that was put in place about a year ago. As a former Army First Sergeant, I support this move. The liberals and their lapdog media are losing their minds over this. It’s social engineering at its finest.

Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that “transgender” in the military would entail,” the president wrote.

While I support the president’s decision, it’s not for the reasons he seems to be focused on. The “transgender” issue is more than about medical care costs. No one seems to be talking about the effect on ground troops and leaders which goes far beyond any monetary issues. The military relies on good order and discipline and the issue of “transgenders” in the military causes many problems. I want to discuss those issues at the company level.

Before I do, let me state a few things matter of factly: 1) there is no such thing as a “transgender” person – one is either a man or a woman (for the purposes of this post, however, I will use this term); 2) no one has a “right” to serve in the military. Otherwise, there would be no physical standards, no weight standards, no intelligence standards, etc. So, this idea that anyone, including a “transgender” person, has a right to serve is a fallacy from the beginning.

First Sergeants are responsible for the health and welfare of their troops. They are responsible for their pay, their lodging, their discipline, their fitness and just about every other aspect of their lives. This isn’t about whether a “transgender” soldiers is as good as or better than a normal soldier. Yes, I said normal because there’s nothing normal about a man who thinks he’s a woman or vice versa.

Lodging is the first issue. When I still active I managed the Brigade barracks while I was processing to retire. It was a great pre-retirement job. Barracks are divided between male barracks and female barracks. How are “transgender” soldiers to be housed? Should a male who thinks he’s a female be roomed with another woman? What if a female soldier doesn’t want to be roomed with a man who think he’s a woman? What if a man doesn’t want to room with a woman who thinks she’s a man? We already have this problem with assigning rooms for homosexual people in the military. The problem is that when another soldier doesn’t want to room with a gay person, he risks an equal opportunity complaint for “discrimination.” Soldiers are forced to room with people that could find them sexually attractive whether they like it or not. That sexual attraction is why we room males and females separately.

The next issue is how “transgender” soldiers are supposed to dress. Does a man who thinks he’s a woman wear a female uniform or a male uniform? Is he allowed to grow his hair long since males must keep their hair groomed in a very specific manner? The Army’s regulation on grooming standards states that “Males will keep their face clean-shaven when in uniform, or in civilian clothes on duty.” Since women who think they are men are still technically, naturally, and scientifically still males, are they are allowed to grow beards? If a man that thinks he’s a woman is treated like a woman, the regulation doesn’t say that women have to keep their face clean-shaven.

Perhaps the biggest issue is fitness standards. Females have a much different physical fitness standard than males have. The standards are much lower for females than males. For example, young women between 17-21 only have to do 19 push-ups to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test and that number decreases every four years. A male in the same age group has to perform 42 push-ups to pass and that number also drops every four years. The same female has to run the 2-mile test faster than 18:54 to pass, three minutes slower than a male to pass. Using the same age group, a female is allowed to have 30% body fat, but the same male is only allowed 20%. How are “transgender” people supposed to be tested? Is a man who thinks he’s a woman allowed to be fatter, slower, and weaker since his mental illness tells him he’s a she?

The Washington Compost story highlights that the military spends more on Viagra than on medical care for “transgender” people. They also spend a lot on birth control for women – 71% of them use birth control to manage their menstrual cycle. What the Compost also doesn’t mention is that the military is a health care provider and nearly all insurance programs, military or not, cover Viagra. The Viagra issue is a distraction and deflection.

The pro-“transgender” crowd wants the entire military to accommodate an extremely small percentage of society to push an agenda that has no place in the military. The rest of society doesn’t have to billet their employees together, share tents, or bathe together. By caving to the desires of 0.6% of people at the expense of the 99.4% we are creating chaos, confusion, and a breakdown in order. It’s time liberals recognize that their policies create a distraction that the military doesn’t need. It needs to be focused on finding and killing the enemy and keeping this country safe from external threats. The “transgender” issue is simply incompatible with military service. It has nothing to do with being able to kill the enemy, which is only relevant about 20% of the time. It’s the other 80% where the problems exist.

Savvy Business Move – Company Gives Away an AR-15 with Every Roof

“If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.” – Jay Baer

With a limited marketing budget, Zach Blenkinsopp needed to look for a creative way to spread the word about his roofing company, Digital Roofing Innovations in Decatur, Alabama. That’s why the Navy veteran came up with a promotion where customers who hire Digital Roofing Innovations for roof jobs will also get a free AR-15 once the job is finished.

I first heard about the deal and the now viral ad that Blenkinsopp created after reading some of the backlash about it. As expected, anti-gun activists have been appalled at the idea of a business owner giving away “assault rifles” to his customers, even though what Blenkinsopp is doing is completely legal.

To me, this is simply a case of incredibly smart marketing. Let’s take a look at the ad itself to start.

The production value is certainly lacking, and if I saw this running on TV, I’d wonder what the company was thinking.

For an online ad, though, the ad does its job, and even though the sound quality isn’t great, you can understand everything Blenkinsopp says.

If there’s one way to describe this ad, it’s completely over the top. Blenkinsopp steps out of his car puffing on a cigar dressed in boots, American flag socks, tight American flag shorts, bandanas on his head and arms, a cowboy hat and a large red bowtie.

He’s puffing on a cigar, which he immediately sets on the hood of the car. He later drinks what appears to be a beer and whiskey, and he simply says “rifle” when he wants a gun thrown to him. He talks about Trump, bashes recycling and ends the video by firing off a few rounds.

To top it off, Blenkinsopp began the promotion on the 4th of July. There’s no better day to run a “free AR-15” ad than Independence Day, but there’s also another reason why this was a smart move. The peak season for roofing companies is towards the end of summer and early fall. Starting the promotion in July will drum up interest for the company at the perfect time.

“Over the top” was a good strategy for a promotion like this. Despite the attention he’s getting, Blenkinsopp is far from the first business owner to run a free guns promotion for his customers. It has been done quite a few times in the past, which means if Blenkinsopp wanted his promotion to stand out, he had to take it to the next level. Going the all-American route got his ad more exposure than it would have if he took a generic approach.

As far as the backlash is concerned, there’s a couple important points that many of the commenters are missing because they didn’t dig deeper into this offer. Most importantly, Blenkinsopp isn’t just tossing a customer an AR-15 after the job is done. Every customer who wants the AR-15 must go through a background check first, which means only those who could legally own an AR-15 can get one through this promotion.

Even after the customer passes the background check, Blenkinsopp doesn’t actually give them an AR-15. Instead, he gives them a $500 voucher for use at the nearby Cypress Creek Indoor Gun Range, and they get that after paying for the roofing job. Today, $500 doesn’t quite cover a new AR-15 off the shelf, at current AR prices, it gets you pretty darn close to other AR-15s for sale.

Of course, many commenters didn’t get the memo about the background check or the voucher. One commenter named Ray Shackleford went so far to say that Blenkinsopp is helping his customers kill people, which is about as ridiculous and irresponsible a statement as it gets. Blenkinsopp is a business owner running a promotion. I found this image of Zach in normal dress attire:

Tim Efferson commented on how customers can “get a free, unregistered AR from a half-naked drunk dude.” It seems like he added the word “unregistered” to make this seem like an even more dangerous proposition, but the state of Alabama doesn’t require the registration of any guns.

Another commenter, Alan Foster, wrote that he wouldn’t trust Blenkinsopp on his roof because of a lack of professionalism. Although I believe the criticisms of this “free AR-15” promotion are silly, I can see why some people wouldn’t want Blenkinsopp working on their roofs based on this ad.

Even though there’s no way to tell whether Blenkinsopp is drinking while handling weapons, it’s heavily implied. His demeanor can be abrasive in the video, and it’s no surprise that certain viewers are turned off by that. He doesn’t project professionalism, and if a roofer acted exactly like Blenkinsopp does in this video while on a job, customers may not be happy with him.

Reading up on Blenkinsopp, though, provides ample evidence that any worries of unprofessional behavior are unfounded. The man was in the Navy for eight years, and now he’s a successful business owner who hasn’t been in any trouble with the law. His company has excellent reviews on Facebook and Yelp, indicating that Blenkinsopp is someone who can be trusted on a roof.

The way Blenkinsopp acts in the video is Marketing 101. Even though he says it’s not a gimmick, there is a bit of a gimmicky element to it. Blenkinsopp is playing a character to get people interested in his company. I can all but guarantee that in his daily life, Blenkinsopp doesn’t drink one sip of beer and then toss the can into the grass. He probably wouldn’t get many barbecue invitations, and no true American wants to waste beer. I doubt he’s wearing the outfit from this commercial to his roofing jobs. And I don’t think he’s walking around yelling out commands like “rifle” and “whiskey” whenever he wants something thrown to him.

The Blenkinsopp we see in the commercial is a larger-than-life American action figure. When I see a Geico commercial, I don’t think to myself “How unprofessional, I’d never want a gecko handling my car insurance,” because that’s just a character used in the commercial to sell the product.

The style of this ad isn’t for everyone. Even members of the pro-gun crowd could find Blenkinsopp’s behavior excessive or dislike the implied alcohol consumption. But no matter how many people this ad angers, it’s a success. As the saying goes, any PR is good PR. As the “AR-15 went viral”, it brought an incredible amount of exposure to Digital Roofing.

It’s better for a business to have people who feel passionately about it on both sides than to be firmly in the middle and have no one interested in it. Digital Roofing Innovations could have stayed in that middle ground and gotten little, if any, attention. Instead, it took the more controversial approach, and it has paid off. Now the business has a group of fervent supporters who love its style. It has gained multiple customers already because of the ad. It has the anti-gun crowd upset, but the old adage “any publicity is good publicity” has been proven true time and time again.

When people post their criticisms, it only keeps the business in the news, leading to more potential customers finding out about it. A quick search for the business’s name brings up more media attention than it has ever gotten before, just based on this one promotion that probably cost under $100 to film and release.

At the end of the day, the way Blenkinsopp and his business handled its promotion isn’t what angers these anti-gun crusaders. That crowd just wants to see Second Amendment rights taken away entirely. They see the words “free AR-15” and their knee-jerk reaction is to criticize the business owner, even though his promotion is 100-percent legal and it requires the customer to go through the same background checks he would need to pass if he was buying the gun without a voucher.

Blenkinsopp received more than the standard anti-gun comments. Somewhat ironically, he had some people referring to him as a backwoods redneck for obvious reasons, and others calling him gay because of how he was dressed. For his part, Blenkinsopp has said that he’s an educated, well-traveled man with friends of many different backgrounds and lifestyles, supporting the idea that he is only acting in his ad.

He received some criticism for throwing a beer can into the grass on the side of the road and saying that recycling is stupid. I understand where these people are coming from, but it’s important to realize that this was done in jest. There are plenty of people out there who don’t recycle, but I’ve yet to meet someone who is actually against the act of recycling. Viewers should keep in mind that this is an ad. The whole point was attention, and Blenkinsopp used humor to do so. There’s no reason to take a few jokes so seriously.

Overall, I’d say that Blenkinsopp did an excellent job with his marketing strategy. He’s effectively offering a $500 discount on roofing jobs, which can often cost $10,000 or more. And if he set up a deal with the shooting range to send business their way, those vouchers may not even be costing him the full $500. It’s a small price to pay, and his company is still likely making a solid profit and gaining a ton of free press in the process.

There’s also the fact that his business is located in Alabama, a conservative state. Digital Roofing Innovations may be getting criticism from people online who have an irrational fear of lawful gun owners, but in its home state, the reaction is much more positive.

Government Gets Its Messaging Backwards on Deadly Traffic Stops

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” George Orwell, 1984

I read an article today and had to reread it twice to ensure that I was reading it correctly. It’s a piece about how some states are responding to the killing of an innocent victim of police cowardice, Philando Castille. Yes, I called it cowardice. And the cop that murdered Castille is a coward. It also comes following the recent murder of a woman in Minneapolis who had called 911 and approached the vehicle of a responding officer when the coward decided to end her life as well.

The title of the article alone gave me pause: “State tells armed drivers how to avoid deadly stops.” Let that sink in for a bit. Who is the state addressing here? It’s addressing the victims of these deadly stops, not the perpetrators. Here’s the first part I want to address:

“The goal was to create a set of standards,” Bolding said.

The new edition of the driver’s manual, published about a month ago, advises drivers with guns to keep their hands on the steering wheel during traffic stops and tell officers right away that there’s a firearm in the car.

It also tells drivers not to reach for anything inside the vehicle without getting permission first. And officers can take possession of guns, for safety reasons, until the stop is completed. The firearms would be returned if no crime has been committed.

(Photo: Pearl Gabel)

Several areas here stand out to me and practically scream lunacy at my face. A Democratic state representative says the purpose of his legislation is to “create a set of standards” to ensure that cowards cops don’t keep killing motorists. But, who do these “standards” apply to? Well, the drivers of course! The new manual lists a series of dog tricks that drivers must perform lest failure to do so be a justified reason to be killed. You…the person that got pulled over for a busted taillight must now fear for your life instead of fearing the impact on your pocket book if you don’t navigate their little pony show adequately. The onus, according to Bolding and his puppet masters in the state’s law enforcement agencies is on you; not the people with the guns and badges. Notice there isn’t a single word in that legislation about retraining cops or, hell, just not hiring cowards and handing them guns and a uniform!

When I was in Iraq our rules of engagement – during combat – were more strict against the enemy than the rules of engagement that our law enforcement agencies have against our own citizens. In other words, it’s easier for a government agent to kill an American here at home than for an American to kill the enemy abroad. If all I had to do was “fear for my life” any time I thought an Iraqi had a gun, there would have been a lot more dead Iraqis I left behind. I was in some extremely hairy situations in Fallujah and near Sadr City where I could have easily shot plenty of “threats” as they surrounded my team. But, here in America, all you have to do is exercise your rights peacefully, reach for your wallet (or reach for your wallet), or wear pajamas and BLAM! You’re dead. In combat, they had to actually represent a true threat by making the motions of pointing a gun at you or already be firing. In Afghanistan, we weren’t even allowed to fire back if they were firing from a protected or crowded place.

The problem with this bill or training or suggestions or brainwashing or whatever is that it will inevitably lead to even more badged cowards cops shooting drivers who, for whatever reason, do not conform exactly to what they are being told to do and what cops are being told the people have to do. I mean, what if someone has their hands on the wheel but goes to swat a bee that just landed on their arm? What if they need to scratch their back? Or what if their arms get tired? What if someone is simply nervous and forgets? By putting these rules in place, law enforcement would have even more cover under which to hide for killing another American. “He moved his hand from the steering wheel and I thought he would go for a gun!”

Finally, this idea of brainwashing people into thinking they need to get permission to reach for their Diet Dr. Pepper in the cup holder is prima facially absurd. Are we seriously supposed to be okay with every movement we make in our own vehicles dictated to us and approved by a government official before we do so? If I want to skip a song on the CD player, I now have to ask Big Brother for permission because heaven forbid if I can’t stand listening to another Taylor Swift song on the radio and want to change the station!

Am I also the only one that found the part about “firearms would be returned if no crime has been committed” repulsive? If no crime has been committed, why am I being disarmed to begin with? Last time I checked, we still had a 4th and 5th amendment right to due process and security of our persons and effects.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
? George Orwell, 1984

There’s another part of the article that concerns me as a patriotic lover of liberty and believer in the citizen-centered form of government.

The changes in Arizona happened without a law being passed. The Department of Public Safety worked with Bolding to produce the new guidelines.

“It all comes down to safety,” said Quentin Mehr, a spokesman for the state police agency.

Whose safety? How can it be for the officer’s safety if I don’t pose a threat to him? How am I safer by having my only means of self-defense taken from me? Sure, the high and mighty government agents might say, “I’ll protect you,” but that’s the very person I’m most likely to be shot by that’s taking my gun! I thought we had a 2nd amendment so that it would force the government to ensure I get to keep my guns “for his safety” because if he tries to disarm me, isn’t that what I’m supposed to be armed to prevent in the first place? In other words, shouldn’t it be more dangerous for a government official to disarm someone as opposed to allowing him to keep his firearm?

It’s not because the decades of brainwashing and weak-mindedness pushed through our public education systems and government agencies has dulled our senses to the point we are actually supposed to enthusiastically turn over our guns to help ensure the comfort level of its officials. We have been tricked into believing that our rights are subservient to their comfort. We have been tricked into the “for your safety and mine” mindset. Me having a gun is no threat to my safety, but him having one is. So, how is disarming me “for my safety?” Perhaps because cops are trained to simply shoot someone with a gun regardless of the actual threat so the mere fact that I have one means that the person trying to take it from me is true threat? If that’s the case, I definitely shouldn’t disarm. So, we’re stuck at an impasse: if I don’t surrender my gun, I run the risk of being shot by the cop; if I do surrender my gun, I’m defenseless against the risk of being shot by a cop (or anyone else).

In reality, the only person’s safety that is at risk during the 99.9% of traffic stops or police encounters is the person being stopped. After all, if you refuse to be disarmed because you’re neither a threat nor breaking the law, the cop can just shoot you. Your own safety is now only as secure as the bravery or professionalism of the cop. A coward will simply shoot you, assault you, or get other cops to help them assault you to physically remove the gun if you refuse to “comply” (don’t even get me started on the “comply” mindset). However, because I’m not a coward, I know my rights, I know I’m not a threat to anyone, and I don’t break the law (except for the occasional traffic infraction) I will not allow myself to be willingly disarmed without a fight. I allowed that to happen once and I learned firsthand that those who say that the place to fight is not on the streets, but in the courtroom, have never been through the legal system and seen that your rights aren’t protected there either. I will never be willingly or voluntarily disarmed again. I fully realize that this mindset may end up with me either in a coffin, a hospital or a court, but I will never surrender my firearm willingly again. I have adopted a very literal, Gonzales stance on being disarmed unless I am under arrest for an actual crime.

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” ? George Orwell, 1984

I got pulled over last year for allegedly stopping over the little white line when I got out of the way for a car I didn’t think was going to stop behind me. After asking the officer why she had pulled me over, I handed her my driver license and license to carry as required by Texas law. The officer asked if I had a gun in the vehicle to which I said yes. When she asked where it was I told her it was none of her business. She then asked me to exit the vehicle “for her safety,” but I told her that I was going to stay in the vehicle “for my safety.” She ended up calling for more cops and they debated the issue, but I was right. I remained lawfully and peacefully armed and I remained in my vehicle.

The fact is that cops are ten times more likely to commit crime than a handgun license holder. So, if I show a cop my valid handgun license, what is there for them to fear just because I have a gun? I don’t know about other states, but Texas law enforcement doesn’t have the blanket authority to disarm someone with a gun just because they’re talking to them. In fact, technically, they only have limited authority to disarm someone with a handgun license.

Texas Government Code Section 411.207 states, “A peace officer who is acting in the lawful discharge of the officer’s official duties may disarm a license holder at any time the officer reasonably believes it is necessary for the protection of the license holder, officer, or another individual.” A reasonable person would conclude from that reading that the mere possession of a gun should not constitute a “reasonable belief” that would predicate disarming someone, especially a license holder. There has to be some sort of measurable belief that the safety of the officer, the armed citizen, or other citizens is in jeopardy. I highlighted the part about the license holder because there is no other authority in Texas law to disarm someone. Now, obviously if someone doesn’t have a license in Texas, they are violating the law and the can be disarmed to be arrested. That’s common sense. Any cop that chooses to disarm a citizen for the sole reason that they are armed and the cop doesn’t feel comfortable or “safe” because of it is nothing more than a coward and undeserving of the label “hero.” That person is actually the antithesis of what those in uniform are supposed to be.

Since research indicates that cops are more likely to be criminals than I am as a license holder, perhaps the people need the authority to disarm them during encounters…for their safety, of course.

“We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.” George Orwell, 1984

What I find most telling about these rules and guidelines that Bolding and the law enforcement community want to implement is that nowhere in there are guidelines placed on the police themselves. Every single aspect of what they are suggesting has to do with changing how we behave, not the people that are actually killing innocent citizens – the cops. There are no suggestions about how cops should stop treating everyone as if they are going to shoot them as soon as they walk up to the window. The fact is that there are only about 50 or less felonious murders of cops over a collection of millions of stops each day. I couldn’t find any proof, but I’m willing to bet there are tens of thousands of stops every year of citizens who are legally carrying an firearm and not a single cop is killed. Perhaps if cops started treating people like…people…then they wouldn’t always be so afraid of them which makes them nervous and in turn causes cops alarm seeing them nervous.

My final point of contention is one that was thankfully addressed at the end of the article.

“Will Gaona, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said it’s not a bad idea to tell drivers what to expect when getting pulled over. But the manual’s new section does not include descriptions of a driver’s rights, he said.

For instance, the rules say a driver can be arrested for disobeying an officer’s order. Gaona said the rule book should tell people that they have a right to refuse an officer’s request to search a vehicle.”

Gaona is saying exactly what I am trying to here: This is about changing how we react to avoid being shot by them, but doesn’t do anything to reign in the out of control nature of too many cops in America who believe that everything they say is the law and that we are required to comply with every demand a cop makes. Cops are not our masters or our lords. They only have the authority that we the people give them by law and nothing more. The problem is that there is no effort given to either 1) educate the public about what their rights are or 2) educate the police about what their limits are.

It boils down to is fear. If cops are so afraid that everyone wants to shoot them, why are they cops? If the only way they can feel safe stopping citizens is by taking away their right to self-defense, they don’t need to be wearing the badge. Police work is only dangerous in their minds. 99% of cops will never need to unholster their firearm in their career. That’s a fact.

This fear is also triggered when someone like me who knows his rights asserts them. Cops aren’t trained and, in many cases, mentally capable of dealing with someone who challenges them or stands up for their rights. Too many police officers think that they are the moral superiority and are the sole arbiters and protectors of “the law.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either been asked if I’m an attorney, former law enforcement, or a judge. They can’t fathom that someone else may know the law better than they do and will immediately translate someone simply invoking their rights and demanding respect for them into “a threat.” Somehow, the badge means infallibility to far too many of them and they aren’t willing to stop and even consider that the person may be right because they feel like their power over the situation is far more important than whether the situation itself is even justified. Even when a cop is provided with a copy of the actual law and reads it, their ego insists that they are still in the right despite the piece of paper in their hands that says otherwise. Instead of admitting their error, they simply choose to arrest to save face. Their definition of “service” is “let the courts figure it out.” While the courts will dismiss the charges, that doesn’t change that a man is thrown in jail and is forced to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to go free in the meantime. I’m not talking about abstract issues like “constitutional rights.” I’m talking about black and white issues that are perfectly spelled out in law.

There was once a time when cops truly cared about your life more than their own. How often do you hear a cop say something along the lines of “I just want to make sure you get to go home at night?” Instead, we hear the common refrain that “It’s my job to make it home to see my family at night.” In other words, they are there to ensure their safety first, then yours. When I was in the military, we put ourselves in great danger to protect the public to our own detriment. I know that it does happen; some cops in Dallas during the shooting a year ago shielded others with their bodies, but I’m not talking about these rare instances where there’s an obvious villain and an obvious innocent which really triggers the natural fight or flight response more so than one’s courage. I’m talking about every day, on the street interactions with the people. The real heroes are the ones that choose to take the risk when the risk isn’t evident to defend the rights others even if they don’t like that person.

“Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O’Brien: Of course he exists.
Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien: You do not exist.”
? George Orwell, 1984

It’s Time for National Reciprocity

As a Soldier, I’ve traveled this country from coast to coast as the Army moved me to new duty stations. Thankfully, all of my duty stations were in the South, except for Fort Irwin and training at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey. Technically, Maryland is in “the South,” even though most people wouldn’t consider it to be any part of southern culture. So, even that duty station was technically in the south despite the fact we don’t want her.

As I’ve traveled this country, most of my rights have been protected irrespective of state borders. My right to free speech was no different while stationed in the D.C. area than it was in the Mojave Desert of California. My right to vote was unencumbered as much at Fort Ord as it was at Fort Hood. My right to be free of illegal searches and seizures was absolute whether I was in Huntsville, Alabama, or Hinesville, Georgia.

So, why is my right to keep and bear arms somehow different? I know the sycophants in the gun control crowd yell that people can’t be killed by free speech (yet they love to use the “yell fire in a crowded theater” excuse where being trampled could kill someone) or voting (tell that to all the countries our elected leaders have bombed). The right of a law abiding citizen to carry a firearm in defense of himself or others should be inviolable in every single state just as the rest of the Constitution is.

The problem with the patchwork of gun laws in the United States is that it requires a citizen who travels to understand all the intricacies of the laws each time he crosses a border. Nothing other right is like that. I know when I cross borders that I have to drive the speed limit, can’t rob a store, need to move over for a police officer or ambulance to pass with his lights on, should only use one parking space, can’t assault or murder people, must have a driver’s license, etc. The basic rules in every state are the same, but the right to keep and bear arms is a patchwork of over 20,000 gun laws that change depending on where you plant your feet.

The driver license is a good example of how messed up our right to keep and bear arms is. Each state in the Union has much different training requirements to obtain a driver’s license. However, that doesn’t mean that a driver’s license in the State of California isn’t recognized in Idaho simply because the way in which they license and what training is required to receive one is different.

A person traveling from Georgia to New Hampshire along I-95 – both states with good gun laws – with a gun in their vehicle would need some good luck making it through Maryland, New Jersey, or New York without becoming a criminal. How you carry along 2/3 of that round is perfectly legal until you hit that imaginary line. John Lott recently noted that, leaving out New York and California, 8% of Americans have a permit to carry a firearm. As we know, there are 33 states that don’t require a permit to carry in some form, so the number of Americans legally carrying with our without a permit is perhaps much higher.

Initially, I was a bit critical of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 because I’m a big state’s rights proponent; however, I don’t think this is a state’s rights issue anymore. The right to keep and bear arms is a natural right, not limited by artificial boundaries that call themselves states. Therefore, if a state is infringing on a fundamental right, the federal government should and ought to step in force them to recognize it. We shouldn’t even need licensing to begin with and then we wouldn’t be having this problem. I’d rather see the Constitutional Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 even though it’s not even needed – WE ALREADY HAVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY! We don’t just have a right to keep arms; we have a right to bear them too! Until we get to that point, H.R. 38 is a necessary evil for now that needs to be passed. The bill already has over 200 sponsors and since they aren’t doing anything about ObummerCare or lowering taxes, they should at least force the states to obey the constitution (yes, I know the irony in that statement).

No Special Treatment for Veterans on Gun Rights

I’m going to take a lot of heat for this, I predict. But, I say it as someone who actually benefits from these kinds of policies. I think the difference is that I don’t like it for practical and principled reasons. I read a story today out of Florida that concerned me a bit.

Florida has fast-tracked concealed weapons licenses to 82,000 active-duty military members and honorably discharged veterans since a terror-related shooting at a pair of military installations in Tennessee two years ago. | 9 Jan 2015 | by Matthew Cox

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who along with Governor Rick Scott helped expedite the permitting process as part of the state’s reaction to the Chattanooga shootings, on Tuesday highlighted the effort that has helped bolster Florida’s nation leading number of concealed-firearm permits.

Before I get to the point on this post let me first qualify what I’m going to say. I don’t believe that permits are constitutional in the first place. Permits to carry are nothing more than government stripping you of your rights and then selling them back to you. No one should have to get a permit to exercise a fundamental human right to self-defense. That said, I’m writing this posts based on the reality that currently exists understanding I find the entire system of licensing repulsive.

When I joined the Army, I didn’t join to defend or protect my own rights. I joined to “support and the defend the constitution of the United States” for everyone. I didn’t join to receive special privileges or extra rights. While I do and will continue to appreciate the support that troops have, it concerns me that too many people think that government personnel (troops and police officers) are somehow entitled to special treatment based on a personal decision to don a uniform.

Last I checked, those of us who serve in the military are still considered “service members.” We are in the “service” of our nation not to be serviced by the nation. If we are serving the American people, what gives anyone the authority to bestow more rights upon us that the people we actually serve? The first three words of the Constitution are “we the people,” “we the government employees.” The people created the government to, among other things, “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Do we as veterans believe that those blessings only apply to us? If you don’t think they do, why would you support laws that bestow greater rights to you than the people you serve?

The only thing I truly agree with is exempting those in the profession of arms from having to take a qualification course as a part of their licensing. As far as I know, every single service requires regular firearm qualifications and receives regular training on marksmanship and safe gun handling. We can argue all day long about where all troops are actually “trained” on those things, but then I would argue that there isn’t a single state in the Union whose training requirements are any better.

When I was active duty, my Texas license to carry was free. As a veteran, it costs me $40 (beginning September 1, 2017, it will cost $40 for all Texans). The story claims that the effort to expedite permits is “part of the state’s reaction to the Chattanooga shootings,” but fails to recognize that even if troops have permits, federal law, executive, and general orders prohibit service members from carrying onto a military installation in most cases anyway. In fact, I was almost arrested recently going into Fort Hood while carrying a concealed firearm.

In November of last year, the Department of Defense released DOD DIRECTIVE 5210.56 which allows post commanders to “grant permission to DoD personnel requesting to carry a privately owned firearm (concealed or open carry) on DoD property for a personal protection purpose.” When I got to the gate, I declared that I had a concealed firearm and told the guard, “before you let me enter, can you tell me if I’m allowed to have a concealed handgun on me if I have a license and don’t enter into buildings under the directive issued last year? Has Fort Hood created a policy?” He said yes that I just needed to have my papers, so I handed him my license and he directed to a secondary screening area. When an MP arrived, he asked for my “papers,” to which I told him I gave them to the guard. The guard gave him my license, but he wanted registration papers. I was confused by this and it was explained that all firearms must be registered with the post to be allowed in. Once registered, the gun had to remain in the home except when traveling between a residence and the range or going off post. He then said he was supposed to arrest me for having a gun that wasn’t registered and I told him that I didn’t want to come on post if it was illegal which is why I declared it to the guard first and told him to turn me around. I guess the guard didn’t know the law and thankfully the MP was understanding and let me leave.

While 5210.56 sounds like a great policy, the problem is that once permission is obtained (which Fort Hood doesn’t grant at all) it is only good for 90 days and has to be renewed. The fact is that commanders simply don’t care about the policy and continue to disarm their troops. I’ve spoken to many military leaders that like it that way because they don’t trust their troops with a firearm. My response to that is twofold: 1) what kind of leader are you that you don’t trust your troops with a firearm? and 2) it sounds like you have a training deficiency in gun safety and handling. But, I digress…

Soldiers and cops are frequently told, “thank you for your service.” Is it really service if we are being offered more freedom and liberty than civilians are and think that is a good thing? Are we truly serving or are we simply self-serving? For these reasons, I don’t believe that troops, cops, or veterans should be granted any special privileges or rights that the people don’t enjoy. To believe otherwise says nothing more than you believe you are better than the people you serve.

P.S. This goes for prosecutors, judges, and every other special class of government official.

Active Shooter on Base? There’s an App for That

Only in the Army could leadership devise such a asinine response to a potential active shooter on base.

The Army announced Wednesday plans to release a mobile application that would allow soldiers and civilians to rapidly alert first responders during an active shooter incident.

Does anyone else see the glaring irony in that statement? The app is for SOLDIERS (who are trained marksman) to rapidly alert FIRST RESPONDERS during an active shooter incident. So, are our Soldiers no longer first responders? It boggles the mind why the Army wants to maintain a victim status of Soldiers on bases instead of allowing them to respond. So, what will this app do to help “first responders?”

“If adrenaline kicks in and they forget what to do in the moment, all of that information is right there in front of them,” said Matt MacLaughlin, a civilian employee at TRADOC Senior Mobile Training Development. “It should help everybody respond to that situation in the fastest manner possible.”

“We’re going to try to think for you,” MacLaughlin said in an Army release. “Because there’s situations where you won’t have time to think.”

Let me try and flush this out logically:

Active shooter begins and “first responders” arrive on the scene. As the bullets start to fly, adrenaline kicks in.

MP: “I don’t know what to do.”
MP Sergeant: “Hold on, Joe, let me check the app and find out.”
MP: “I’ve just been shot!”
MP Sergeant: “Hang on, I’m almost done analyzing all the information in this great app. CRAP!! I lost my signal!”
MP: “Sergeant, don’t sweat it. The app will think for you. Just have faith…and can you hand me your pressure dressing. I’m getting woozy.”
MP Sergeant: “There’s not a section here on what to do if you get shot!”

Let’s stop with all this touchy, feely nonsense and start allowing our Soldiers to defend themselves. Hell, at the VERY least allow sergeants and officers to carry or establish a military installation license to carry option. I’m not a fan of licensing away rights, but the very people who are trained to respond to a threat are unable to do so because the government has disarmed them.

Now, I know what kind of nonsense the critics are going to spew if we allow Soldiers to carry a handgun on base. “I can’t trust some Soldiers to show up to formation shaved, in the right uniform, and on time, much less carry a gun.” That a subjective determination and completely baseless excuse. I hear that all the time against constitutional carry, but unlicensed carry is law in 33 states and it isn’t an issue.

There are only two reason a Soldier can’t be trusted with a gun: you’re a tyrant and toxic leader who is really worried that the troops he abuses on a daily basis will exact their revenge on their maltreatment or he shouldn’t be in the military to begin with if he’s that incapable of being trusted with a gun.

I’ve got a better idea on how to respond to an active shooter. Instead of saying, “there’s an app for that,” let’s say, “there’s a bullet for that!”

Where is our “pro-gun” president and vice president to put a stop to this?!

A New Beginning

Well, I’ve decided to leave Facebook and hopefully regain so much lost time to that pathetic platform. I’ll still be keeping my public page open so that I can share these posts until we are able to create a way to subscribe to updates.

I’ve realized that Facebook has really not done much for me besides fuel my anger, rage, and anxiety. It’s too easy to post a quick link with a reactionary response to some stimuli without sorting through and analyzing its meaning, purpose, or full understanding. With a blog, I’m forced to be more academic and explanatory about things that I share. I know that there is a risk to doing this at a time when society doesn’t have time to sit and read blogs posts. We’ve migrated to 140-character verbal darts and paraphrased postings.

There’s also a lot going on in my personal life that I think can be more helpful to discuss in this type of forum. The truth is that all Facebook did for me is fuel all the negative aspects of my life. Now, I’m not looking to turn my head to corruption or tyranny, but instead want to be able to more fully flush it out. It’s no secret that the past four years since my unlawful arrest in Temple and the corrupt trial that followed I’ve been pretty soured on the state of freedom and the growing disrespect of government towards the people.

I’ve seen this corruption and what unbridled raw power does to people personally. In the past four years, I’ve come to see firsthand what happens to people who stand for something and against corruption. I’ve learned that the state does not like having its authority challenged, especially when that challenge is justified and proper. I’m not one of those anarchist guys that hates government. I firmly believe that there is a legitimate role of government, albeit a small one. What I hope to accomplish here in future writings is to document my efforts to regain our proper role in government and its proper responsibility at both the state and federal levels.

What is our role? Our Constitution makes clear in its first three words where the power lies in American government: “We the people.” It is our role to ensure that we select people who will not only abide by the constitution, but serve in the best interests of the RIGHTS of the people. The problem is that the people right now are only concerned with electing those that will serve the best interests of the people at the expense of their rights. We have become brainwashed that government is designed to give us what we want instead of wanting them out of our way to get what we deserve. The reason they won’t is because most people realize they don’t deserve anything and won’t work to get what they want.

My methods aren’t exactly the most widely respected way of doing things. Too many people have been conditioned that we need to be seen, not heard. They believe that we are supposed to treat government officials with deference and blind obedience. They think that we are here to do as we’re told and we should bow to authority by virtue of its existence. There is an unwritten rule that it’s okay to criticize elected government officials, but when it comes to the rest of government, we’re expected to treat them as demigods, idols, or above suspicion.

As a Soldier, I was subjected to this form of worship and it bothered me then as it does now. Government officials are just people, no different than anyone else. I didn’t join the Army to receive special treatment. I didn’t do it to be respected or have power over others. I recognized that when I wore that camouflage uniform, I was a servant to every single person with whom I came in contact. They were my employers and I both respected and appreciated that. I made sure that every dollar I had to spend was spent as effectively and economically as possible. My dedication to fiscal frugality resulted in me being assigned to manage unit training and operational budgets at both the Brigade and Corps level. It also earned me the disdain of troops (and leaders) trying to game the system and milk as much money out of the taxpayers as possible.

As such, I expect EVERY government employee at every level to recognize their role in society. Authority isn’t always about power. Power only comes with legitimate authority. Authority comes with responsibility. Responsibility come from trust. Trust comes from the people. If the people don’t trust you, you can’t be responsible. People lacking responsibility have no authority and thus no power. It all boils down to government’s duty to ALWAYS ensure that government officials at every earn the trust of the people. It should never be taken for granted and it should never be solely based on what uniform or nametag we wear.

That is my goal here to document my journey to ensure this is how things remain.

Amazingly Skilled Harrier Pilot

There are pilots and then there are Harrier pilots. While I’m personally a fan of the A-10 and always will be (unless something comes along that really knocks me off my feet), I must admit that Harriers are #2 on my list. I’ve had my ass saved by an A-10 in combat and Harriers are just cool jets! Check out the video of this pilot who had to land on what amounts to a stool when his landing gear failed.

What’s Going On With Senior Army Leadership?

Throughout history, general officers have had a lot of responsibilities. They were from the elite class and were considered to be the gentlemen of the military. Until the latter part of the American Revolution generals were considered sacrosanct and were not targeted by enemy troops. Not much has changed over the past few centuries except a transition from European-style linear warfare to American-style total warfare. Generals have special court martial authority. They have virtual dictatorial control over the troops and land they command. They are treated like kings with their own chefs, drivers, and privileges. They make the laws that govern their units and the bases they command. They are the legislative, judicial, and executive branch of the military. A general officer letter of reprimand is a career killer and often used when non-judicial or criminal punishment isn’t possible since it cannot be challenged.

In the past few years, a growing number of generals are finding themselves in hot water. The same people that are responsible for discipline and good order are forgetting what that means in their own spheres. There aren’t a lot of generals in the Army – about 231. So, when a general gets in trouble, it’s a big deal. Generals demand accountability. When subordinate officers make a mistake, they are expected to own up to it and take responsibility for their actions. Even innocent mistakes that anyone would have made could ruin an officer’s career. While their careers are ruined in public, generals have the details of their discipline and accusations largely hidden from public scrutiny for fear of it reducing confidence in the corps.

So, I was a little surprised when I read Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby’s excuse for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate captain.

“I do not want to make any excuses, but you can see from my record that I have been deployed [eight] times for a total of [six and a half] years — practically every other year since 9/11,” Grigsby wrote in his response to the April memorandum of reprimand that sealed his fate. “Due in large part to this frenetic schedule, I have been struggling with my family situation for a while, attempting to balance a military career and be the husband, father and grandfather I desired to be and what my family reasonably expected from me.”

Can you imagine what the General’s response would have been if an enlisted soldier, NCO, or junior officer was standing before his desk and used the excuse, “my deployments made me do it!?” He’d have the book thrown at him.

When I was in Afghanistan, there was a similar incident with a general on Kandahar Airfield where I was based. I had briefed BG Jeffrey Sinclair on several occasions and even had to stand before him when that disgraced former blogger who shall not be named filed baseless accusations against me and attempted to disrupt our mission. Here’s a man that was judging me while he himself was doing far worse than I was even accused of doing. But, he was allowed to keep his rank, his pay, and didn’t serve any jail time.

A news release by the Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office listed the charges presented against Sinclair as including “forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, attempted violation of an order, violations of regulations by wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships and misusing a government travel charge card, violating general orders by possessing alcohol and pornography while deployed, maltreatment of subordinates, filing fraudulent claims, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and engaging in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

In 2015, a Major General was reprimanded for steering defense contracts to his friends. Brigadier General Bobeck was removed from command last year and remains under investigation for a similar reason in addition to an extramarital affair.

Military discipline begins at the top. The top needs to pick itself up by its bootstraps and do some self-evaluation. The last thing it needs to do is start excusing bad behavior due to “optempo.” Generals have it easy in combat theaters. They have amazing billets, delicious food, priority travel (including their own helicopters), and don’t have to generally worry about being shot at. I would take a general officer’s optempo with the perks that come along with it any day over the optempo and lifestyle of the average grunt.

Exempting Congress from DC Gun Laws Bad Idea

Before I delve into this subject, I want to make a few disclaimers. First, anyone that knows me knows that I am an unconditional defender of the 2nd amendment. I believe that “shall not be infringed” means zero infringements. None. Even felons who have served their time should have their rights reinstated. If they’re truly a danger to society, they shouldn’t be in society. I know plenty of people who are as hardline on the 2A as I am, but I don’t really know any that are more so. This post isn’t about opposing legislation that will expand gun rights so much as it is about a demand for equal protection under the law. I believe that congressmen, their staffs, and anyone else should have the right to defend their own lives wherever they set their feet. Yes, that includes hospitals, schools, courtrooms, and anywhere else corrupt politicians have deemed to be politically correct and necessary to ban self-defense tools. Second, I know that there isn’t an actual bill that’s been filed or considered yet, so we’re putting the cart before the horse at this time. Finally, I think it’s absurd that Congress even has to contemplate passing laws that essentially force government entities to obey the constitutional rights of the people and overturn laws that never should have been passed in the first place.

Within days of a Bernie Sanders supporter attempting to murder several key Republican lawmakers as they were playing softball, Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk from Georgia and Republican Representative Thomas Massie from Kentucky are suggesting legislation that would exempt congressmen from the tough restrictions on keeping and bearing arms in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital has already lost its Supreme Court battle over the right to keep arms within one’s home, but has steadfastly opposed the “bear arms” clause of the 2nd amendment outside of it. This suggestion for legislation may make some gun owners happy, but no one should applaud this effort to allow congressmen to exempt themselves from D.C. statutes. The irony here is that these same people are trying to exempt themselves from laws that they themselves gave the city the authority to pass in the first place.

Article I, Section 8 of our constitution gives Congress the authority to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over…the Seat of the Government.” In layman’s terms, that means Congress has the authority to dictate every single law in effect in Washington, D.C. In most cases, they’ve delegated that authority to a D.C. Council complete with a mayor. Obviously, this is a smart thing to do since Congress has better things to worry about most of the time than micromanaging a city – not that that has ever stopped them. However, that doesn’t negate their authority over the district just because they delegated it. For example, a battalion commander delegates authority to a company commander over his company, but that doesn’t mean that the battalion commander can’t dictate what the company does or its policies. Technically, Congress could completely dissolve the city council, fire the mayor, pass a law relating solely to D.C., repeal a law passed by the council, create a military dictatorship, whatever. If Rep. Loudermilk is so frustrated with D.C.’s unconstitutional gun control laws, all he has to do is get congress to overrule it. Simple as that. It could eve be argued that said laws do not require presidential signature.

As is typical of elected cockroaches, they are loathe to let a good crisis go to waste and this shooting is no different. The wounding of five of their own has awakened a sense of urgency to do something to protect these elitists who think their lives are more important than everyone else’s. It’s amazing that all it took was five of them getting hurt to get their attention. In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 violent crimes committed in the ten square miles of our nation’s capital. Of that number, 135 were considered homicides. Already this year, there have been 50 homicides and slightly more than 2,000 violent crimes! Where was Congress after each of those 5,759 violent crimes? Where were they after the 135 homicides? Where have they been after the 50 homicides and 2,003 violent crimes in just the past six months alone? Do they only care about the 0.08% of those affected, which is them? Don’t the 99.92% remaining victims of violent crime deserve self-preservation?

If Congress truly cared about the people, they would have been acting tough to allow law abiding citizens to carry in self-defense long ago. They are the ones being targeted and slaughtered; not Congress. They are the ones that have to walk the streets unprotected; not Congress. They are the ones that have to hope and pray that a police officer gets to them in time or, if they don’t, is able to catch the perpetrator after the fact; not Congress. They are the ones that are exposed where they live, where they shop, and where they work; not Congress. So, after an average 5,600 violent crimes annually in D.C., Congress suddenly recognizes D.C. gun laws are a problem after just five are affected.

I fully support a law that would allow Congressmen to carry their firearms in self-defense. They should. They are the targets of psychotic Democrats just like the rest of us. However, they shouldn’t be more concerned with only exempting themselves at the expense of thousands of others. There is a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress and in the White House. There is no excuse this can’t get done.

Today, I went to my representative’s district office in the hopes that he – John Carter – would either push for language or an amendment that included ALL law-abiding citizens to be exempted from unconstitutional infringements on our 2nd amendment rights in D.C. or vote no on any bill that creates another special class of citizen for elected officials. Since there isn’t a bill to reference, they didn’t have an answer for me right away. Like our representatives, I should be able to go to the nation’s capital and have the ability to defend myself should the need arise. As I travel through and among the contiguous states, I shouldn’t have to worry whether or not I’m carrying “legally.” I shouldn’t have to be disarmed when I visit my congressman’s office in his district either because the building is a “federal building” and therefore a “gun-free zone.” I kinda made a mistake today, but I won’t tell anyone. Let’s just say my gun didn’t jump out of its holster and hurt or threaten anyone.

Congress does need to fix the problem with D.C. flaunting the basic civil rights of Americans. But, they need to fix it for everyone; not just themselves.