Tag Archives: Occupy the NRA

Guns & Ammo Throws Editor Under the Bus

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Those of us who are both long time gun owners and supporters of regulations that make this society safer from gun violence breathed an ever so slight sigh of relief when Dick Metcalf wrote an editorial in the December 2013 Guns & Ammo which said what so many of us fully understand…that there are sensible firearm regulations which do not infringe on the Second Amendment, that there are common sense solutions to the “all too many examples of unsafe behavior”.

Was it a change in philosophy as this gun magazine, the largest and one of the oldest in the industry stepped a toe away from intransigence and toward sensible solutions? Apparently not.

November 6th, just a few days after the original article was published the Editor of Gun & Ammo wrote an “apology”…an apology for stifling conversation on one of the most important discussions in the national arena,  an apology for throwing one of its own under the bus…well, not exactly. Jim Bequette, the editor apologized for pissing off his “hopping mad” readers [and his “hopping mad” advertisers]. He also doubled down on Guns & Ammo’s hard core, unfettered backing of the Second Amendment and, as seems to be the rule in the gun debate, if someone comes to the table with opinions that are not lockstep with the NRA, with the enthusiast community, and more important with the gun industry…under the bus with them.

Mexican Standoff

“Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.” Editor, Guns & Ammo, 11.6.13

Yep…fire him because he opened up the conversation. Fire him because he had the audacity to stand up and say “maybe we need to give this some thought”. But thought is the last thing on the mind of the gun fanboy community, the last thing on the mind of the 85 advertisers to Guns & Ammo…well, 86 if you count the monthly Viagra advertisement.

But are we back to square one, back to that point where the gun enthusiasts come to the table in lockstep, an air of absolute intransigence?  NO, we are not. Because now we know that there are folks in the gun enthusiast camp who know that the NRA’s blind support of the gun industry is wrong, who know that the best solution for gun owners is to come to the table, not throw rocks at it. That toothpaste can’t go back in the tube…it is out and now both sides of this important subject know that there is a viable third side…that of gun owners who support regulations.  And that is good.

It is somewhat ironic…or possibly just a cosmic coincidence that Dick Metcalf’s article came out just about the same time as the SLATE gun death ticker turned over 10,000. Maybe it is just a coincidence that it came out just as Virginia elected a governor who actively came out against the gun lobby in a very gun friendly state. Maybe it was just a coincidence that it came out as news of families of five, in four different states died from gunfire. Maybe it was just its time.

I was asked if Dick Metcalf would continue to work in the gun magazine industry…I strongly doubt it. That group has a very sad history of banishing anyone who dares to not stay in lockstep with their fringe opinion. And that is a very sad commentary on those in the gun enthusiast community…that they so very much fear dissent, fear that at some point the realization will gel that just maybe it is their opinion that is wrong, that their intransigence and stubborn support for the gun industry was not defined with reason, with facts, but forged from fear, uncertainty and dread…along with a request for a donation to the NRA.

If it was about the Second Amendment you would not be reading this. It is not. It is about hobbyists who like to shoot, it is about gun lobbyists defending the billion dollar gun industry, it is about a generation who does not like to hear the word “no”.

Put simply, Dick Metcalf did the right thing and he is being pilloried by gun enthusiasts, by the gun lobby and by the gun industry. Guns & Ammo did the wrong thing…throwing one of their own under the bus based on his opinions. This simple litmus test will help define you as you draw your conclusions.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

 

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And The Verdict Is…

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Over the past sixty or so hours since the Zimmerman verdict there have been volumes of observations, discussions, debates, pissing contests and virtual barroom brawls as folks come to terms with both the verdict and their own perceptions of it.

Those that know me know I engage in many of these debates, not because I love to wallow in the mud but because I have found that debating with those of opposing or differing opinion helps me learn…I learn to clarify my thoughts and opinions and I learn to be a better person. And becoming a better person should be our main goal in life. Most else falls from that.

The Zimmerman case has become somewhat of a Rorschach test…our own opinions and views helping to define the inkblot.  Sometimes the inkblot is easy to interpret and sometimes it is a reflection of our deep subconscious  and either way we see what our perceptions tell us.

What I have learned is that seldom does a jury like this one have a simple set of evidence that matches a simply defined crime. More likely they have a janitor’s key ring full of evidence that needs to match a series of generic, worn locks and just as likely the pins and tumblers don’t quite match up…and that has to do with perception.

What we end up with is an interpretation of the body of evidence, interpretation of the law, the subjective nuances of the oratory of the opposing attorneys and value judgments of those who have witnessed the crime or interpreted the evidence – all viewed through a lifetime of experience. Pretty simple, huh?

To the element of “interpreting the law” we can learn much. The “confrontation” is where the crime begins. As pointed out by a good lawyer type guy… the confrontation begins when the first punch was thrown.  In the Zimmerman case, we don’t know who threw the first punch, we only know who pulled the last trigger. As far as I can read in the transcripts we only know that, at some point Martin may have confronted Zimmerman and started the last minutes of his life.

If my interpretation [there is that damned word again] is like that of many folks, I tend to look at the totality of the incident, not a parsed single event in the middle of a running confrontation. We are offended because we see the “incident” beginning when Zimmerman made a subjective interpretation of the everyday milieux of life that was happening in front of him. His initial interpretation of an unfolding scene tipped the first domino.

Intertwined in this case were another couple of significant issues. On one side it became a litmus test for the right to protect ones’ self and “stand your ground” and on the other side it became yet another example of racial inequality in the justice system.

People are asking very hard questions of our society…would the Sanford Police have treated Zimmerman differently had he been black? Would the media have treated the case differently had it been “just another black on black crime”? Would a black man have gotten the same $1,000,000 defense? Would a jury of six black women and black judge have rendered the same verdict? Would the media have taken sides on the issues of race and stand your ground if the races have been different? Do we have a right to protect ourselves, no matter the surrounding circumstances?

If any good has come from this case, it will hopefully be that ALL people will look hard at these questions and do something besides rationalize preconceived notions about them.

What I believe…

If George Zimmerman had stayed in his truck and called 911 as the guidelines for the Neighborhood Watch program suggest, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

If George Zimmerman had gone back to his truck and waited for the police as he was instructed by the 911 dispatcher, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

If the roles were reversed, and every element of evidence was the same but George Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white, Asian, or Latino, the legal system, from the time the cops arrived; from the time the public defender presented his defense; until the time the verdict was rendered, he would have been treated differently by our legal system.

The prosecution overreached in asking for 2nd Degree Murder and that a verdict of not guilty was correct.  As correctly pointed out, we don’t know who started the confrontation, we don’t know the details that led from following to pulling the trigger, we only have evidence that a confrontation did in fact take place. And to that, there was an obligation to give the benefit of the doubt. George Zimmerman was on trial, not the system, not stand your ground, not racial inequalities.

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Yesterday I posted up a photograph of Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson [Gregory Peck and Brock Peters] . The intent was to observe that, 53 years after Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird about race and prejudice it sadly still exists.

It may have been interpreted differently.

We like to think of the law and justice as clean, unbiased, and honest. And sometimes it is. But, like life itself it is more likely somewhere in the 254 shades of gray in between black and white.
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And yet again we go to interpretation…And more often than not we wear tinted glasses.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


NRA “School Shield” Report…Just More Mercenary NRA Advertising

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The Friends of the NRA released their School Shield report today. If you believe it has evolved from the original post Sandy Hook tone deaf “The only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” message from NRA talking head Wayne LaPierre you will be sorely disappointed.

You will also find that all twelve members of the task force are from law enforcement and security, none from education and five of those members are from RBT Solutions, a for profit security training group which would likely profit from their recommendations.

There is an old adage that says “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

To the report and its finding. The report is linked so you can read each and every word of it, but let’s summarize the 10 findings and 10 recommendations.

The Findings…

Finding No. 1: There has been insufficient attention paid to school security needs in our nation, and the greatest security gap falls within the medium- to smaller-size schools, which do not have the level of resources of the larger school districts.

In addition, another gap identified by the assessment teams sent out by the National School Shield Task Force is that older schools, constructed more than ten years ago, have greater security challenges than newer facilities. More recently designed schools have more architectural attention devoted to security features in contrast to the building design and layout of older facilities.

Finding No. 2: Many schools do not have a formal, written security plan, and even for those that do, they are often either inadequate or not properly exercised.

Finding No. 3: A properly trained armed school officer, such as a school resource officer, has proven to be an important layer of security for prevention and response in the case of an active threat on a school campus.

Finding No. 4: Local school authorities are in the best position to make a final decision on school safety procedures, specifically whether an armed security guard is necessary and supported by the education and citizen community.

Finding No. 5: Many public and non-public schools are financially unable to include armed security personnel as part of the school security plan and have resorted to school staff carrying firearms in order to provide an additional level of protection for the students and staff in the event of a violent incident on school property.

Finding No. 6: While the local school leadership should make all final decisions regarding the elements of the school security plan, the individual states, with few exceptions, have not made school security an element of adequacy in school standards.

Finding No. 7: School officials are not generally trained in security assessments or the development of comprehensive safety and security plans. Ideally, a school retains professional assistance in developing their school security plans; however, there is a compelling need for professional-quality online self-assessment tools.

Finding No. 8: Federal funding for the personnel costs of SROs has served as a pathway for increased security in our schools, but federal funding has proved unreliable as a long-term solution to the school safety and security needs of our nation.

Finding No. 9: There are numerous federal agencies and programs that provide valuable school safety resources; however, there is a lack of coordination between the federal agencies resulting in gaps, duplication and inefficiencies.

Finding No. 10: History teaches us that in most violent attacks at a school, there are multiple early warning signs, called pre-incident indicators, of a student or outside person who exhibits threatening behavior and poses a risk to the school.

To summarize…Schools haven’t paid attention to security, older schools are harder to secure, armed security is a must, there isn’t enough funding, schools can’t make their own security assessments and, did I mention armed security is a must and there isn’t enough funding.

So, you need armed guards and someone to tell you what to do and you don’t have reasonable  funding. Should I also point out that the authors of the report train armed guards and law enforcement and do security assessments? Win-Win for the consultants.

The Recommendations…

No. 1: Training A model-training program has been developed by the NSS Task Force for the professional training of armed personnel in the school environment.

This training will only be open to those who are designated by school officials and qualified by appropriate background investigation, testing and relevant experience.

No. 2: Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel Many states prohibit anyone other than a sworn law-enforcement officer or licensed security guard to carry a firearm in a public or non-public school. In order for a selected school staff member to be designated, trained and armed on school property, the states will have to change current legal restrictions.

No. 3: School Resource Officer Each school that employs an SRO should have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or an “interagency agreement,” between the appropriate law-enforcement agency and the school district. This contract should define the duties and responsibilities of the SRO, as well as the applicable laws, rules and regulations.

No. 4: Online Self-Assessment Tool An internet-based self-assessment tool has been created to allow any school (whether public, private or parochial) to have secure access to comprehensively evaluate and assess the security gaps and vulnerabilities of each school.

No. 5: State Education Adequacy Requirement State standards related to school security vary from non-existent to stringent. Although state responses to school security will naturally vary, there should be a common element that requires all public schools to participate in an assessment and develop a security plan based on the unique requirements of that particular institution.

No. 6: Federal Coordination and Funding Either through legislation or executive action, a lead agency should be designated to coordinate the federal programs and funding of local school safety efforts. The Department of Homeland Security should be designated as the lead, supported by the Department of Education and Department of Justice.

No. 7: Umbrella National Organization to Advocate and Support School Safety. Because of the limitations of federal, state and local funding for school safety, there is an important role that can be filled by a private non-profit advocacy and education organization. The National School Shield is in a position with adequate funding and support from the NRA to fulfill this important national mission.

The NSS mission would: (a) provide national advocacy for school safety; (b) supply ongoing online self-assessment and other tools for public, private and parochial schools; (c) make available best practices in school safety to help guide schools in the development of school safety and security policies; (d) fund innovative pilot projects and training costs for armed school personnel; and (e) provide state-of-the-art training programs in the area of school safety and security.

No. 8: Specific Pilot Program on Threat Assessments and Mental Health. As part of its comprehensive security plan, each school should develop a threat assessment team, which will work in coordination with mental health professionals.

To summarize…The NRA funded study suggests more guns in schools, training by NRA supported businesses, security consulting by NRA supported businesses and there should be an umbrella organization that is, conveniently funded by NRA, change state laws to accommodate recommendations. In other words, this 225 page report is nothing more than a sales pitch for the NRA and its business partners.

One of the recommendations…No. 2, Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel is a demand from the NRA to change state legislation to conform to the NEW NRA recommendations, erasing legislation such as the Safe School Act of 1999 that was championed by the NRA.

“First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.” Wayne LaPierre, 1999

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

The report makes it very clear that a guard in schools will eliminate the threats to students…but only glosses over the reality of Columbine…there was a trained security officer on site.

It also fails to address the events like the very recent kidnapping off a school bus in Alabama or the Chowchilla School Bus Hijacking in 1976 where buried in a quarry.

Further it doesn’t take into account events like the school shooting in Westside Middle School where, in 1998 five were killed and 10 wounded by students who set up a sniper position across from the school.

Put simply, this “Call for Action” from the NRA only takes into account in school events and its solution is to fortify schools.

Now, let’s look at the numbers. There are over 98,000 public schools in the United States, another 33,000 private schools and the 5,000 or so colleges.

IF a school building has just ONE security officer, and that officer is paid $35,000 per year, school boards and county sheriffs are going to have to come up with $3,400,000,000 per year in school districts and counties that are already laying off teachers and deputy sheriffs and police officers due to lack of tax revenue. Federal funds for COPS and CIS programs have been removed from the federal budget by Congress. And that $3.4Billion does not account for training, certification or school security assessments – which would have to be done every couple of years.  And it further doesn’t include the enhanced physical requirements that this report demands.

Now to a humorous, ironic part of this report. Back in December 2012 the NRA emphatically said that we should not have a knee-jerk reaction to the shootings at a elementary school, yet their entire proposal revolves around a shooting at a school…ignoring the dozen other mass shootings in 2012, from theaters to churches to malls to restaurants. And it certainly doesn’t address the other 10,000 killed by gun violence each year.

And one other thing…did you catch the part in the Recommendations that the Department of Homeland Security should be in charge?  These are the same folks who now run TSA.  And did I mention that five of the Task Force were/are part of Department of Homeland Security…

So, of the 12 members of the NRA advertisement masquerading as a “Call for Action”…five are part of the organization they want running things and five are from a private security company that recommends training and assessments.

Hammer Nail

 

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.