Dealing with Police

Cops Are Human Too.

Today’s column deals with carrying a concealed firearm and interactions with police officers. Today’s column is only partially about the law, because the law is only one part of the issue to be discussed.

Situation:

You look in your rearview mirror and see those red and blue lights flashing and you pull easily to the side of the road. You put on your flashers. You set the parking brake, lower your windown and you place your hands at the 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock positions on the steering wheel.

Now, let’s begin, but not from the position where you’re in the car.

We’re going to place you in the patrol car. You’ve just pulled over someone for a traffic violation. You’re running the tag, and you’re making a few decisions about the person you stopped. You note the vehicle, its age and cleanliness. It doesn’t fit the description of anything you have seen come across the computer recently (or maybe it does).  The driver is staying put.  You don’t see frantic movement.  But that doesn’t mean you’re safe on this stop. In the back of your head is the fact that six police officers have been shot just this week. Because of that, you’re going to be careful approaching this vehicle.

A Bad Example

Now, before we go any further, let’s take a look at how not to do a stop with a police officer. This comes to us via the concealncarry.net group and the video is a true public service.   It details Florida deputy Andy Cox and his stop of Joel Smith several years ago. At the time there was a lot of grousing about how the deputy did not respect the citizen’s right to carry concealed.  Respect, friends, is a two way street.

It takes two to tango. Yes, the deputy could have been more respectful, and yes, he clearly over-reacted to the display of the holster (the federal court found that while he couldn’t see the firearm, he was entitled to believe that one was in the holster). No question that Deputy Cox was a bit rattled by the experience. And, if we want to be nit-picky, Cox violated procedure by not disarming the suspect immediately.

But the citizen didn’t exactly endear himself to the officer in the first place. Take a look back through the dashcam video again. You’ll notice (1) the citizen dismounts from the vehicle without being directed to; and (2) he falsely claims his tag is not expired when it is. At no time does he say “I have a conceal and carry permit and I am carrying a pistol.” Had he done so, it’s doubtful there would be a problem here.  Actions create reactions.

Now, Florida law does not require a person to disclose to law enforcement, but it also doesn’t require you to say “good morning” or to say “excuse me” when you pass gas. That’s because courtesy and respect are required not by law but by good manners, and are demonstrated by our actions. So the proper way to handle this kind of matter is to show respect in order to get respect.  That’s what doesn’t happen here.

Back to our Scenario

Back to our situation, and now you’re waiting for the police officer to step forward. When the police officer approaches his first words will likely be “do you know why I stopped you?” If you do, say yes, and if not, say no, and then say “officer, I need to inform you of something for our safety.”  Yes, you read that right: our safety.  If you put the cop’s safety in danger, he will put your safety in danger.  Cox should likely not have said he would shoot Smith in the back, but then again, that was provoked by Smith’s failure to disclose the firearm.   Then you say “I have a valid conceal and carry permit, and I am carrying a pistol in a holster on my right hip. It has a round in the chamber, and it is a Glock so there is no safety. What would you like me to do?”

The Libertarians

Now, I can hear you libertarians out there saying “in the absence of a statute requiring you to declare your firearm, you are under no obligation to do so.” Yeah, I get that. Honestly, I do. But when your libertarian principles clash with the real world that the police officer lives in, that creates the kind of conflict that get people like Joel Smith arrested. Remember, you’re not declaring your firearm because you have a legal obligation to (unlike, for example, in Arkansas where you do have that legal obligation). You’re declaring your firearm out of respect for the fact that the officer has a right to expect to come home at night, and you can be seen as either a person who wants to make sure that happens, or someone who doesn’t care. If you fall into the latter category, you should not expect any respect from the officer.  Show respect to get respect.

The Police Reaction

It has been my experience that the cop may say “nothing, just keep your hands away from there.” In some situations (for example, where your car is the same model as something reported stolen) he may ask you to step out so he can relieve you of the firearm while you talk (no, dumbass, don’t take it out and hand it to him unless you want “here lies stupid” as an epitaph). The police officer might ask you to do something else.  Whatever he tells you to do, that is what you should do. Do not argue. Every answer should end with sir or ma’am depending on which applies. And for God’s sake, don’t start talking about calling your lawyer.  Even if you’re treated badly, the time to take that matter up will be later, off the side of the road, and in front of someone who can grant you relief.  Arguing with the officer will just piss him/her off.

Why did Joel Smith get arrested?  What Joel Smith did was essentially, through his actions, say “Surprise! I have a gun!” Cops do not like to discover this after you’ve reached behind your back several times and any one of those times you could have come back with a firearm.  If you’re obeying the law, and particularly if you’re on video, chances are very good you will be well treated.

So, how does the story end? I’ve never had an encounter with an officer end badly when I showed respect, even if I didn’t get respect. The time to argue over what happened and whether the cop is right in giving you a ticket is in court. You won’t win the discussion at the side of the road. The courts exist to protect your rights.

Joel Smith was not prosecuted for his supposed violation of the conceal and carry statute. At the time of the arrest, the statute was broadly worded such that Smith’s “display” was effectively a statutory violation (though it was not criminal because there was no intent to display the weapon).  The prosecutor, viewing the video, and finding Smith’s permit was valid, likely decided not to march off the cliff next to the officer.  As a side note, the Florida statute was amended in 2011 to say that a brief display of the weapon, in other than a threatening manner, was not a crime. That came too late to help Smith, but it will help you (in Florida anyway).  So Mr. Smith did not have to deal with a criminal charge in the end.

Instead, he hired a lawyer and sued, and learned the other lesson that comes with suing a law enforcement officer. Citizens don’t win. Courts grant police officers greater latitude than any other professional. They can make a reasonable mistake, and as long as they don’t violate a known constitutional right, they can’t be sued. The end to Joel Smith’s case is found here.

 

 

 

 

 

Citizen’s Arrest?

There is an interesting element of criminal law that often goes undiscussed because it is so seldom used. The power of a citizen, to arrest another, for the commission of a felony, or other crime committed in his presence, is poorly understood, but was widely recognized by the common law. Citizen’s arrests are so rare now that, when they are in fact challenged in court, it is usually because a police officer is making one.

You just read that and you’re shaking your head. You’re thinking “how can a police officer make a citizen’s arrest?” When he is not in the capacity or jurisdiction of his police department, a police officer has no arrest power greater than that of the ordinary citizen unless a specific statute gives him one.   In one case a police officer chased a man from his small town in Missouri a long way down the road to the point where he pulled over and was arrested for a narcotics violation. The Missouri court held that, being absent jurisdiction to make the arrest on the roadway, the police officer had powers no greater than a citizen, and as a result, suppressed evidence of narcotics unlawfully seized.

Privilege to Arrest

Generally, if you see a person committing an assault or an armed robbery, you are privileged to make an arrest under the law. The law in most states requires you to turn the offender over to the police or the courts immediately. But there is ample authority in most states for the idea that you can act to stop a criminal act. This makes perfect senses because the country is big and there isn’t a policeman on every street corner (until you’re going 6 mph over the speed limit, and then there is). We want citizens to act responsibly and restrain criminal activity. But the power is limited. You can’t get in your car and chase down someone who ran a stop sign. Vehicular offenses are, for the most part, not the kinds of things for which citizen’s arrest is permitted. Some Supreme Court precedent calls into question the citizen’s right to make an arrest for a misdemeanor punishable only by a fine. But irrespective of the nature of the crime, the power of arrest resides with the private citizen.

Make Sure You’re Right

Power, of course, must be balanced by responsibility, and trial lawyers make their money off people’s irresponsibility. So, for example, if you arrest someone for the “felony” of assault that turns out in retrospect to be a simple misdemeanor assault, you could be liable for false arrest under the civil law. There are, as near as I can tell, two stark situations where it is safe for the concealed carrier to make a citizen’s arrest, by force if necessary. The first of those is where the person to be arrested has used a firearm in the commission of crime that the arresting person has witnessed.

Suppose you walk into your QT and find Homer with his hands up and Cleetus with a .357 stuffed up Homer’s left nosril. Even if we simply look at the issue of assault with a deadly weapon, a felony is in progress. It’s also pretty reasonable that a person using a handgun in this manner is a felon, and therefore, a felon in possession. Two felonies. Add armed robbery to the list, and now you have a trifecta situation where you can be reasonable sure that your arrest of this person is unlikely to lead to civil liability.

The other situation is where the media announces that someone is on the loose, has a warrant for his arrest, and you recognize him. Consider, for example, Robert William Fisher. Here we have a guy who worked in health care as a respiratory therapist, and who murdered his family and then blew up his house.  Not only did he lose his nomination for Father of the Year, he earned police attention.  However, before he could be arrested, he took flight and has not been seen since.  If you wandered into your local Starbucks and saw the fellow sitting there, you would be privileged to arrest him. Why? Because on July 19, 2001, an Arizona Superior Court state arrest warrant was issued in Phoenix, charging Fisher with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson. So the state of Arizona has privileged you to make the arrest if you find him.

Sure You Can, But, Is It Smart?

Does that mean it’s smart to do that? No. It is not smart to arrest someone on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list because, if they have stayed off the list this long it’s because they have every reason to stay out of jail, and no reasons to go to jail. People like this tend to carry handguns, and then tend to react badly when cornered. So the best possible thing a person could do in that situation is to (a) not act with suspicion (i.e., don’t point at him and let him see you using your phone to google “FBI Ten Most Wanted”); (b) pay for your inordinately expensive cup of coffee; (c) go outside and more than 25 yards away from the Starbucks (reducing the risk from ricochets); and (d) call 911, and tell them to send the SWAT team.

The best reason to do this is that you are not a trained killer, and you have not already taken lives. You actually have something to lose.  The felon does not.  You are going to be just a split second behind the power curve if ol’ Bobby decides to whip out a gun and shoot it out with you. And of course, in a crowded starbucks you could hurt innocent people, or at least, people who’s only crime was paying too much for bad coffee.

The second best reason for this is that the guy might not be Robert William Fisher, and if the cops throw him to the ground, cuff him, and drag him off to the pokey, if they’re wrong, it’s on them, not on you.

There has never been a child who read a Batman comic book that didn’t dream of being the guy that nabbed a bad guy.  And the FBI files are full of people who called the FBI and were responsible for the arrest and prosecution of every kind of reprehensible criminal known to man.  Tips to law enforcement help ensure everyone’s safety.

Sadly, the files are also full of people who tried to make arrests on their own, without backup. Many of them are police officers. Officer Baxter in Kissimmee, Florida was shot down in the line of duty by a former Marine, and his sergeant, Baker, who was responding as backup was killed before he could even return fire. If armed, trained police officers cannot survive these kinds of encounters in situations where they are already on guard, it is foolhardy for the civilian in that situation to engage in risky behavior and play Rambo.

A Time For Action?

Does that mean there is not a time and a place to pull your weapon and stop a criminal act? Of course not: that’s why you carry. But remember that your first duty is to stay alive, and your second duty is to preserve innocent life. If all you can do is ensure that the criminal cannot escape until the police get there, and you can do that without firing a shot, you should.

You should shoot only where you absolutely have to shoot. The reasons are numerous, the first being that the very people you’re trying to help (the police) are apt to be put off that you didn’t call them first (assuming that was an option). Second, while dead men tell no tales, live ones frequently do, and the story will not be “there I was robbing this woman…” it will be “I was helping this lady with her purse, and my gun fell out, and the next thing you know some clown was shooting at me.”

You laugh now, but the fact is, criminals are often very good, very believable liars because they have so much practice.

The key to surviving any encounter with a criminal is outthinking them from the beginning. Situational awareness is an important part of that. If you can avoid the problem in the first place, that’s always the best approach.  And if you have time to think, you have time to call the cops.

 

My Email to Maria Chappelle-Nadal

Senator:

You took an oath when you were sworn into office.
An oath is a promise made before God.
Here is what that oath required of you:
“I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and faithfully perform the duties of my office, and that I will not knowingly receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law.”  Article III, § 15 Mo. Const.
As you are also aware, the constitution provides “and any member convicted of having violated his oath or affirmation shall be deemed guilty of perjury, and be forever disqualified from holding any office of trust or profit in this state.” Article III, § 15 Mo. Const.
 
Donald Trump was lawfully elected to the Presidency.  He was elected by electors under the Constitution.   There is only one lawful procedure to remove him, and that is impeachment.  Any other advocated method of removing him would be contrary to the Constitution.  By advocating for his assassination, you have violated your oath to “support the Constitution of the United States.
 
The duties of your office must also be performed faithfully.  By advocating for the commission of a federal felony (assasination) you have failed to faithfully perform the duties of your office.  What you did is in fact a federal felony (18 USC 879).  We do not expect our state office holders to commit felonies.
 
You called this a mistake.  No, madam, this is NOT a mistake.  A spelling error is a mistake.  Using “from” when you mean “form” is a mistake.  Poor word choice is a mistake.   These are things that are innocent, because they carry with them no blame.  What you did is not a mistake, because it is not innocent. You spoke from the heart, with hatred and bigotry.  You hoped for the death of a duly elected federal official.  It was knowing.  It was intentional.  It has brought discredit upon the great State of Missouri.  It has brought discredit on the Democratic Party.  It reflects your intolerance of other ideas and persons. 
 
I am asking the Attorney General to initiate proceedings in Quo Warranto to remove you from office effective immediately.  You can preserve your ability to run for office later only by resigning now.
 
You have no place in public office, and should remove yourself from public life.  People can disagree with your politics and it has nothing to do with the color of your skin or where your ancestors came from.  Not everything is about you.  We have enough division in this country without you adding to it.
You can email the senator at:  Maria.ChappelleNadal@house.mo.gov
 

The Lilliputian Strategy

The Emoluments Controversy

So, you’ve probably heard that President Trump, according to liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington That Applies to Republicans Only (CREW-TARO) filed a lawsuit against the president claiming that he violated Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

ARTICLE I, SECTION 9, CLAUSE 8

Oddly, CREW-TARO also asserts that the President violated Article II, Section 1, Clause 8, which provides in full:

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

So, what, precisely, is an emolument? The current version of the dictionary, reflecting the current use and understanding of the word says:

Emolument:  the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)

Websters goes on to describe the origin as from the Latin emolumentum, which was defined as profit or gain, and was derived from the latin word emolere, to “grind up,” as in grinding up grain.

So, what, precisely is the lawsuit all about?

Lilliputians!

Remember Gulliver’s Travels? In the story, Gulliver arrives on the land of Lilliput, and lays down to nap. When he awakes he’s been tied down by the far weaker Lilliputians. They effectively negate his size advantage by using multiple ropes to confine him. Well, that is essentially the purpose of the lawsuit here, because while the President is fighting these meaningless battles, he’s not making America Great Again (except, of course, he actually is with employment up, manufacturing up, and real GDP growth).

Here’s what CREW-TARO did. First, the alleged injury in their own right. They did it in a manner so vague as to be truly laughable. Witness, from the  Second Amended Complaint:

  1. Defendant’s violations of the Emoluments Clauses also have required CREW to expend a significant amount of time and resources to research and monitor Defendant’s business interests. Since the November 2016 election, CREW researchers have dedicated significant time and effort to developing a comprehensive understanding of Defendant’s business empire and conflicts of interest, particularly regarding his business ties to foreign companies and governments that run a strong risk of resulting in a violation of the Emoluments Clauses. For example, CREW researchers have compiled and analyzed data regarding the more than 500 business entities Defendant listed on his 2016 personal financial-disclosure form, developing that information for both internal and external uses. As part of that project, CREW researchers devoted at least seventy hours to creating a series of infographics to explain the Defendant’s businesses and income, emphasizing the Defendant’s foreign businesses.60 This project began on November 28, 2016 and is not yet fully completed. Every member of CREW’s research team has worked on this project on a near-daily basis.

Yeah, you read that right. Donald Trump sent someone over to CREW-TARO’s offices to force them, at gunpoint, to expend resources to see if the President is cheating, and by God, they had to create infographics to do it! Oh the horrors!

  1. In addition to the diversion and depletion of CREW’s resources, CREW is further injured because Defendant’s violations of the Emoluments Clauses increase the costs to CREW to carry out its mission in the normal course of business. By accepting presents and emoluments through nonpublic channels, Defendant’s violations will deprive CREW of information about financial support Defendant will be receiving from foreign, state, and the federal governments, forcing CREW to expend resources to uncover his violations of the Emoluments Clauses.

Yes, Donald Trump is increasing their costs of doing business by, let me see if I get this right, forcing them to do the business they say they’re in? So, I can sue Obama for forcing me to buy Aspirin then? Cause that asshole gave me a headache!

Standing

Now, when this lawsuit gets dismissed in federal district court after the October 18, 2017 hearing that is currently set (and that will be breathlessly reported on by CNN, Washington Post, and the NY Times) the liberal spin will be that it was dismissed “on a technicality.” But that will just be another media lie.

In fact, it will be dismissed because of a lack of Article III standing under the Constitution. Now, lots of people don’t understand the concept of standing, and the media always does a horrible job of explaining it. Basically, it boils down to this. You have to show that you have a significant injury, fairly traceable to the challenged conduct, for which the law can grant you a remedy. The remedy sought here is an injunction that forces the president to divest ownership of his business interests, which would itself be unconstitutional. CREW is effectively saying “okay, you want to be President, you can’t earn any money but your Presidential salary, and you have to get rid of everything you own.” Gee, that seems fair!

Here’s the problem with CREW-TARO’s assertions.  First, the plaintiffs are, among other things, restaurants and hotels that claim a loss of profits due to Trump Hotels and restaurants being better built, providing better food, paying better wages, and attracting more customers.  In their complaint (read it, it’s attached) they never provide any specific information about injury, and in fact claim that they “will be injured” by the President’s actions.  So, just like a Democrat, hollering before they’re even hurt.

Now, you may have missed the CREW-TARO lawsuit that they filed against President Obama when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. But of course, that’s because they didn’t sue Obama. No one did. And when the issue was brought up, Obama’s justice department concluded:

As we previously explained in our oral advice and now explain in greater detail, because the Nobel Committee that awards the Peace Prize is not a “King, Prince, or foreign State,” the Emoluments Clause does not apply.

How convenient! It is because the Nobel Committee isn’t a foreign state. But of course, its members are appointed by a foreign state actor. But why quibble about the finer points when no one cares because our first black president got an award he didn’t earn and didn’t deserve.

Now, flash forward to today. What’s the position of the CREW-TARO people with regard to emoluments? Well, first, let’s forget the dictionary definition. The President’s lawyers explain in their memorandum of law that lawyers get to define words all the time, so this is how CREW-TARO defines it:

Plaintiffs allege that the President owns and controls hundreds of businesses throughout the world, including some doing business as The Trump Organization. Id. ¶ 42. They allege that the President violates the Emoluments Clauses whenever such businesses receive “anything of value, monetary or nonmonetary” from an instrumentality of a foreign, federal, state, or local government. Id. ¶¶ 7, 37. In Plaintiffs’ view, a “present” is anything of value “provided without a return of anything of equal value,” while “an ‘Emolument’ … could cover anything else of value, including without limitation payments, transactions granting special treatment, and transactions above marginal cost.” Id. ¶ 37.

Motion to Dismiss at 22. I’ve linked the document here, and you should read it.

So, what does that mean, exactly? It means when Dung Wu, who is paid by the Chinese government to translate American books, walks into the coffee shop at Trump’s DC Hotel, and plunks down $10 for an overpriced cup of coffee, China has effectively provided an “emolument” to the President because Dung wouldn’t have had that $10 if it hadn’t been for China, and clearly Dung was trying to curry presidential favor.  Say What?   It means that when the Government of Saudi Arabia, that gave billions to the Clinton Slush Fund, er, sorry, Global Initiative, pays an amount actually due from a prior contract — rent on a suite of rooms in a Trump Condo in New York — they’re giving the president an “emolument.”  Isn’t anything of value a little over broad?  The president’s lawyers say yes, and their historical analysis in the memo is worthy of a read.

So… does your head hurt yet? Because it should.

Good Lawyering

The President’s lawyers, however, have done a good job of attacking the ridiculous lawsuit on the basis of standing. Essentially the lawyers argue that the defendants have not alleged any injury to them that flows from the President’s conduct, they have no standing, that the provision they attempt to enforce has different interests than those of the plaintiffs, and that because the President derives money from business operations that are outside the scope of his office as president, the profits so derived are not emoluments, noting that historically, each of the first few presidents, and many of the government officials, did not even derive a salary, but were instead allowed to operate their own businesses. The motion to dismiss provides the needed history as well as a cogent explanation of why the Emoluments Clause doesn’t stand for what the CREW-TARO people think it does.

In other words, the Emoluments Clause, which has never been litigated before, and is an issue of first impression, is being litigated in a venue that is rife with Democratic judges, and that has not even a smattering of merit.

And CREW-TARO will lose.

If I were the President, I’d ask for Rule 11 Sanctions.  I would be damned if I would let those small-minded bastards tie me down!

 

The Speech Trump Needs to Give

Good Evening America

Today the violence that was committed in Charlottesville, and encouraged by Governor McAwful, has been writ large in Seattle, and Durham North Carolina. Violent criminals have seen fit to destroy public property, unwilling to invoke the democratic process in preference for violent insurgency.  The only thing hatred knows is destruction.  It knows nothing of building a foundation for a free republic.

Today, I tell you the violence must stop. If the governors of these states do not take immediate action to restore order and protect citizens, I will nationalize the National Guard and send them in to restore order. Order will be restored, lives will be protected.  I will respect a state’s right to settle its own accounts, but I will not tolerate citizens being victimized by political violence.  I will stop it.

Today, I am declaring that ANTIFA is being added to the list of terrorist organizations. It has the same status under the law as the KKK, because it seeks to do what the KKK sought to do, just with a different motivation.  ANTIFA is not anti-fascist, it is in fact completely fascist.  Only criminals wear masks and cover their faces.  If they were proud of what they were doing, they wouldn’t be wearing masks.  They are cowards!

All too often the news media’s accounts of events coming at the time events occur is later found to be inaccurate, and in some instances, pure fiction. I waited to get a clear picture of what happened in Charlottesville in order to denounce hatred and bigotry, but even that did not mollify the press.  The violent left wing of the Democratic party and especially that part that comprises ANTIFA, must be stopped.  We will never endorse any kind of racial supremacy, but we will likewise never endorse political violence as a solution to a democratic problem.

Today I am asking Congress to pass the Stop Domestic Terror Act that criminalizes funding organizations that mount domestic terror. This statute is aimed at CAIR, KKK, ANTIFA, and other organizations that do not wait to invoke the democratic process, but instead riot or engage in violence. If you contribute to these organizations, if you fund them, or contribute services in kind, we are going to come after you.

This is the United States of America. There are no African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, or Irish-Americans – there are only Americans. We reject the color-coding and racial-profiling that the media engages in. We reject political correctness. We reject the tendency that the media has to divide, and we ask all Americans to come together and unify our great nation.

We should never fight amongst ourselves. We should seek to make all our lives better. When someone declares that black lives, or blue lives, or white lives matter, the suggestion is that other lives don’t matter, and as a nation we cannot tolerate that. American Lives Matter.  That is the end of the discussion.  I will fight for justice just as hard for the victim of an unjust police shooting as I will for the imprisonment of the person who shoots a police officer.  I will not regard skin color as germane to the issue.  The one thing the media constantly fails to report is that the majority of black Americans are murdered by other black Americans.  Murder is wrong, no matter what color the person is.  It should be prosecuted and punished that way too!

I designate August 31, 2017 as a National Day of Reconciliation. I ask my countrymen to fill their churches, fill their mosques and synagogues and kneel before God and ask for His blessing on this great nation, and then stand up and deliver on the promise of a free America, a better America, where we are all free to say and speak the things we feel in our hearts, but have the wisdom to know that hatred never cured anything in this world. It never built a bridge, it never built a road, never opened a hospital, never saved a child’s life from the scourge of poliomyelitis. Hatred couldn’t do that. Only love can do that. Only a willingness to sacrifice for this country. Only a strong and fervent desire with God’s help for this country to throw off the shackles of history and learn to live in the present day can make this country what it truly can be. Help me make it so.

God bless you, God bless our military men and women, and God Bless the United States of America.

The Blame Game

During the 1960s there was a cute little ditty called “The Name Game” that made a rhyme out of any name (or so it suggested). The deep and moving lyrics (well, as deep and meaningful as anything that came out of the 1960s) went this way:

The name game. Shirley! Shirley, Shirley
Bo-ber-ley, bo-na-na fanna
Fo-fer-ley. fee fi mo-mer-ley, Shirley!
Lincoln! Lincoln, Lincoln. bo-bin-coln
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fin-coln
Fee fi mo-min-coln, Lincoln!

It was a fun song, and during the 1960s it enjoyed some popularity, or at least until you tried it with a name like Buck, or Chuck, where the Fee fi , fo part of the lyric got a bit too racy for the airwaves.

Today we’re playing a different game. That game is the blame game. But the premise is the same, we can blame anyone for anything if we just give it enough thought. Of course, we might have to twist history, or forget history, to get that done. Take for example, the Civil War.

It is a popular and widely held belief that the Civil War was fought for one purpose: to free the slaves. This explanation withers under examination, because the North had nothing to gain by freeing the slaves. In fact, the emancipation proclamation didn’t come until later in the war as a way to deprive the South of the use of its slaves in battle. And our history suggests that slaves that headed north after the war were not greeted with the warm smile of welcome any more than they had been in the South. This History Learning Site sums it up nicely this way:

A common assumption to explain the cause of the American Civil War was that the North was no longer willing to tolerate slavery as being part of the fabric of US society and that the political power brokers in Washington were planning to abolish slavery throughout the Union. Therefore for many people slavery is the key issue to explain the causes of the American Civil War. However, it is not as simple as this and slavery, while a major issue, was not the only issue that pushed American into the ‘Great American Tragedy’. By April 1861, slavery had become inextricably entwined with state rights, the power of the federal government over the states, the South’s ‘way of life’ etc. – all of which made a major contribution to the causes of the American Civil War.

In other words, if we look to root causes, there is no one root cause. Yet, because people believe that the war was fought “over slavery” there is a belief that the confederate flag, statues honoring confederate generals, and all manner of similar shrines to a way of life gone by are somehow racist or offensive to blacks. Let’s be honest. No person alive to day was ever a slave in the United States. And any damage that was done was done to persons not now alive. It’s time to move on. But some people cannot let their anger at something they have only read about (in history books, ironically enough) go unmitigated.

Here’s the question that folks need to answer: what about tomorrow? If our views on race and religion and tolerance change, will our views of today’s heroes be cast aside, their images burned and destroyed, in an attempt to wipe out their history? If so, the devil must be laughing at this because the one sure way to repeat history is to ignore its teaching. If you want more war, more violence, and more dissent in this country, then understand first and foremost that there are always at least two sides to an issue.
The phrase “chinaman’s chance” comes from the way that immigrant workers from China were used to tamp down charges while blasting to build railways. Hundreds of Chinese died in the move west. Should we tear down our nation’s rail system, most of which is based on the routes blazed during the 19th Century?

George Takei continually rants about the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It was shameful and he has a right to be pissed. It was wrong. And the Supreme Court said as much. It happened on Roosevelt’s watch. Should we throw all his statues into the sea? Should we close the little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia where he passed away?  Should we disavow Mr. Truman too?  After all, he was on the ticket later?

John Kennedy gave us the Bay of Pigs disaster. Jimmy Carter gave us the debacle in Iran. Reagan gave us Iran-Contra. Nearly any great man or woman who climbs to the top does so while making mistakes – lots of them. Do we wash away the good in our attempt to purge history of its evils?

We could wash away the sins of the past.  We could excuse the Nazis their war crimes, Stalin his megadeaths, Pol Pot his genocide.  We could forget at the Hutus and the Tootsies.  We could whitewash what happened to the Zulu tribesmen, or ignore the fact that 2/3 of the population of Luzon Island was killed during the Philippine Insurrection.  We could just consign all that history to the dustbin.  And then we would have no benchmarks when the next petty tyrant set up shop.

Maybe it’s better to learn from those historical mistakes.  Preserve them.  Protect them while honoring victims and calling out the wicked.  We need to do that, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

Labelers & Enablers

 

A rose, by another other name, would smell as sweet, at least according to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. One assumes if you called a skunk Rosie, it would smell just as bad. There is, among humans, an unnatural tendency to place a label on something, then identify similar characteristics in others in order to apply that label to them. It’s an odious tendency, and it should never be tolerated.  Similarly there is a tendency among people who see two sides in conflict to identify with and enable one side over the other.  Neither of these traits is good for Democracy.

This past weekend a group of hateful idiots marched in Charlottesville. They were mostly undereducated, nonconforming, spewers of hate.  They’ve been told lies by their parents, friends, and relatives for years.  It isn’t your lack of education or your hateful views that make you unsuccessful, it’s ___________.  And they fill in the blank with blacks and Jews.  Most don’t really believe there is a “pure” race somewhere, but they think it makes them sound smart.  Most do believe that if you worship God differently than they do, or you have a skin tone a bit darker than theirs, then you’re not any good, because as we all know, Jesus preached…oh yeah, love thy neighbor.  Hmm…. They adopt the symbols of Nazis, and they label themselves the Alt-right.   They adopt the trappings of an ideology that killed more than six million sounds between 1939 and 1945, and they express its hateful beliefs proudly and in public.  This disgusts me.

And they are privileged to do it. They have every right to spout this ridiculous hate. The Supreme Court has consistently said that suppression of speech on the basis of viewpoint is contrary to the Constitution. The court has said that to preserve free speech for all, we must preserve it even for people we find awful (like the Westboro Baptists).   The bottom line is these people were citizens, engaged in a lawful assembly, doing what the Constitution says they can do. We can hate the ideology, but we cannot suppress its speech. Instead, we defeat hateful ideology with better ideology. That has always been the American way.

There was another group of hateful useless idiots present in Charlottesville. The ANTIFA group, long recognized as a Soros-funded anarchist organization, was there in force.  It is a group that exists solely to incite violence in the supposed name of preventing fascism. Yet, anyone who understands fascism understands that fascism is exactly what they advocate. Images of flyers distributed at the march indicate that they believe strongly in suppressing ideas they disagree with. That is most certainly not the American way.

But let’s make the point that ANTIFA and its clowns enjoyed the same freedom of expression, and were entitled to the same level of protection from violence as the Nazi clowns. You would have a protest, and a counter-protest, and it could all come off quite nonviolently if those who were supposed to preserve order kept them apart.

The city had made plans. They had the National Guard on call. They had a strong police presence. They had enough officers to keep the groups separated. They had a duty to preserve order and protect the protesters from each other.

And they did not.

That is shameful, and it was a political, not a police decision. Because the mayor decided that it was politically expedient to be on the side of the left-wing fanatics more than it was to be on the side of the people of Charlottesville, and so, he refused to stop the melee that resulted, and lives were lost as a result.  He should be criminally charged.

Now, a fight requires, at a minimum, two people. You can’t beat yourself up physically (assuming you are 100% crazy). You have to have someone else to have a fight.

The Alt-Right Nazis planned and organized the protest, but the left wing fanatics planned and organized the violence. Any time you wear body armor as well as bring clubs and ball bats to a protest, you’re not there to protest, you’re there to hurt people. This was ANTIFA.

This is not to say that the Nazi element shrank from the combat, or didn’t have a means to engage in violence too. They did. But their protest was declared unlawful and according to accounts of protesters, they were forced to run the gauntlet out of the park through swarms of ANTIFA protesters.  In other words, the cops lured them into the park with a promise of protection, then withdrew it and let the violence happen.

It takes two to tango.  But when someone attacks you, it is not wrong to defend yourself.  Please understand, this is not meant to be a defense of the Nazi group or its ideology, but rather, an indictment of the way in which the event was handled and has been reported by the media.  There were two sides there.  Both sides fought.  Both sides are to blame.

But the idea that it takes two to tango seems to be lost on the media.

In any school in America today if little Joey and little Johnny get into a fight, and they both throw punches, then both go to detention, or get suspended. No one bothers to try to decide who was right and who was wrong. Instead, we say “it takes two to fight” and we punish both. To the guy who threw the first punch, it seems fair. To the guy who took the first punch, not so much. But that’s the way it works because you can’t condone some violence without encouraging more of it. Much like you can’t suppress some speech without encouraging more suppression of speech. There’s a yin-yang kind of thing that applies.

So our president, when asked, adopts the schoolyard approach and condemns the violence on both sides of the melee.  This is because there was hate on both sides. He refused to blame only one side for the violence. And that was the right thing to do. But the media firestorm over the event simply couldn’t leave it alone. They wanted him to denounce the Nazi element, because it’s “alt-right” and Mr. Bannon has been referred to by many as “alt-right.”   So his refusal to denounce the Nazi element specifically amounts to… what? Ah, yes, in today’s mainstream media, it amounts to an endorsement of Nazis.

Then we have the people who believe it’s necessary to call the car-attack by one man an incident of “domestic terrorism.” Would the young ANTIFA woman who was killed be any more dead if it was labeled that way? Would she be any less dead if they called it second-degree murder? Why does the label matter, except for the need to link it to a political agenda.

The rules are off. The media never blamed Bernie Sanders for Steve Scalise’s shooting, but they now blame Trump for the car attack in Virginia because this guy may have supported Trump (note: there is no evidence of this that has been presented).

The media coup attempt against the President continues. If the media continues this war unrelenting, the violence will only grow. They will continue to stoke the fires of hate and radicalism, and the burning down of our country will be the end result.

Someone needs to stop and take a step back. What’s going on here is wrong, and every thinking person knows it.

Silence is Golden

“You know, if you just tell us what happened, I’m sure the Court will go easier on you.”

Yep, if you’ve seen a cop show on television, you know that this gets said to every generally good person accused of a crime. On TV we have the moral certitude that the wrong was committed. In the real world, not so much.  And the idea of a court rewarding honesty is good in theory, but I’ve seen no data that suggests it actually happens.

Someone once observed that confession is good for the soul. That may be, but it is not good for your freedom. Until such time as you’ve had legal advice, you should never speak to a police officer about the events that led up to a self defense shooting. “I am happy to give a complete statement once I have spoken to my lawyer.” Say that, and no more. Any time anyone asks you anything, say “LAWYER!” They’ll quit soon enough.

Also, don’t assume that what you say won’t be recorded. Not only do cops wear body cameras, but they can turn on the video recorder in their patrol car, and if they put you inside, in most cases it will record what you say. So things like “damn I nailed that sumbitch!” are just not good things to say in the back of a cop car.

You’ve probably read it so many times by now that you can repeat it in your sleep: you have a right to self defense so long as you’re not the aggressor, and you believed your life or the life of someone else was in immediate peril. You probably also know that you can only continue defending until the other person is not a threat. So if the bad guy falls down and drops the gun after your first shot hits him, you can’t pump five more into him while he’s on the ground.

There are about a million reasons why you should not talk to police, fire, or anyone else at the scene until you talk to a lawyer. The first is that you’ve been traumatized. You’ve had to take a life, and in doing so, you faced mortal danger. You’re operating on adrenaline. Your fine motor skills are crap. Your memory is trying to re-order the events in a way that makes sense. If you tell your story to three different people, you’ll tell three different stories because you’re working off short term memory, not long-term memory. And that’s a problem because inconsistencies in stories become “lies” in court. And anything you say can and will be used against you.

This is why in garden-variety cases involving criminal activity, the client is never allowed to testify.

Why?

Because everyone gets confused, everyone makes mistakes, and a seasoned cross-examiner could put Mother Teresa on the stand, and have a jury saying things like “that damned Mother Teresa, what a liar!”

This is because while trials are a search for the truth, lawyers look for and highlight the inconsistencies, which become “lies” when argument is made. Letting your client answer questions before trial gives the prosecutor the “didn’t you tell the police that…” arrow in his quiver. And, it’s worth noting that if what the criminal defendant says helps him, there were be no video, but if what he says hurts him, he’ll be on video. It’s also worth noting that notes taken by arresting officers where they may have written down something vaguely exculpatory will be thrown away and lost forever (with exculpatory information removed) once a report is written.   This doesn’t mean cops are bad people, it just means that having been subject to cross examination multiple times, cops understand how the game is played, and they take pains to play to win. And if you’re innocent, that sucks.

That’s because while cops and prosecutors are supposed to play fair, often, in their zeal to win, they don’t. I know this personally.

To borrow from the TV series Dragnet, the story below is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. In this case, the defendant was truly innocent, and it highlights the kind of specialized help that a lawyer can bring to a situation where the police are unlikely to want to play fair.

I had a client once who was accused of a sexual misadventure with an underage girl. The girl was pretty, about 19, and she did that whole crying thing very well. I suspect she purchased the cheapest mascara available so that she could look like she’d cried her eyes out. Her pretend vulernable nature brought out the protector in the cop assigned to investigate, who had never seen an innocent man – ever. If this cop was after you, he wouldn’t stop until he found the evidence (or created the evidence) to nail you.

The client was innocent. He didn’t do what he was accused of. He told me the girl had never been in his house, and I believed him. Early in the investigation I told him to go to his house and repaint the bedroom and living room with a new and different color. It didn’t matter what, as long as it was different.

I told him to change the placement of the furniture. So that it was different, and to have someone help him do that so there would be a witness besides him to testify to the way the room was arranged before and after. That same witness took before and after photos.

I knew if the girl had never been in the house, that she could not possibly describe the way the house looked, what was where, etc. But I knew that if I knew this flaw in the prosecution’s case, the prosecutor knew it too.

About a week after the client interview with the cops and two weeks after he’d repainted the inside of his house, the cops showed up with a search warrant and a video camera, and they videoed the entire house, especially the bedroom and the living room where supposedly all of the bad things had happened. They took DNA samples, etc., none of which came back.

So I pulled aside the detective and I said “you better not show the complaining witness this video because I don’t think she can describe the house without seeing it.”

He bit like a chicken on a June Bug. He assured me he would not show it. And on the stand, he stated he had never shown the witness the video (but of course, he didn’t need to show it to her, someone else could have). However, I’m sure that the girl watched the video several times. She testified at trial about the blue walls in the bedroom and the yellow walls in the living room, and how the bed was on the north wall, and the couch was on the east wall of the living room. She got up and marked where these things were on a big piece of paper hung on an easel in the Courtroom. On cross exam she said again and again she was absolutely sure. This couch was the right place. This was the right color for the bedroom. No, the bed was facing south, not north.

The prosecutor enjoyed this: “you’re making my case for me.”

He didn’t enjoy the first defense witness, the person who had helped the client paint and moved the furniture into a new orientation.

“Ms. X put the couch here. Was that where it was on May 9?”

“No, it was here.” He then pointed to a different location, and marked it in with a different colored marker on the prosecution’s easel.   I could hear steam escaping at the prosecution table.

“Were the walls in the bedroom blue on May 9?”

“No, they were a light gray on May 9.”

“How did they get blue?”

“I helped Mr. Y paint them.”

“Can you describe this photo please?”

“Sure, that’s a photo of me helping paint the gray walls blue.”

The prosecutor sat like a boiling teakettle at counsel table until counsel passed the witness and his first question was something like “what were you trying to conceal by repainting the walls and moving furniture?”

“Nothing sir. I was trying to expose a liar. And, it looks like I did.”

The jury was out about 30 minutes, but mostly because they wanted the pizza that was brought in for supper. The acquittal was unanimous.

In a self-defense situation, there will almost always be an assertion of wrongful conduct on the part of the shooter. Recently in Oklahoma, when a man shot three teens who had broken into his house, the victim’s parents were aghast that little Johnny got his ass shot off because he was breaking, entering, and carrying a knife. In Oklahoma, the prosecutor laughed.

In Illinois the prosecutor would have wanted to help slap on the cuffs. That would be the same in Maryland, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and California. Those “blue states” hate the idea that someone might use a firearm for self defense.

If you don’t have Delta Defense or NRA Carry Guard, you’re not prepared for what will happen if you ever have to use your gun to defend yourself. The time to prepare is now.

A Comedy of Errors

“Dragnet” Disclaimer

The story you’re about to read is true.  In order to spare the employees involved in this debacle the injury to their careers, I will use Pseudonyms for the companies involved, and not give locations in the unlikely event that someone can figure out the particulars.

Gun Safe

I needed a gun safe.  I had grandchildren coming, and long guns in locked cases, but my wife wanted them in a gun safe.  I did too, but I never thought she’d let me get away with buying one.  But she was all for it!

I live in City A, which has a…hmm… let’s call it Schmedlap’s Sporting Goods. They’re a national chain. They had a Field and Stream gun safe for sale. It was a nice 24 gun safe with an analog wheel (old style) combination lack. It was $449, marked down from $599. It was a heck of a deal. It would have been an outstanding deal but for the fact that here in City A they did not have any in stock, and wouldn’t have any in stock before the sale ended on August 5.

So, down the road about 60 miles is City B, which also sports a Schmedlap’s, and when called the helpful employees of the store in City B said that they not only had that 24 gun safe, but that they had four of them. Four! So that sounded good.

If I’d only known….

I own a pickup truck. This gun safe was much too big for the truck because of a cover we had put on the truck (one of the worst decisions I ever made). So, in order to buy and bring back the safe, I had to rent a U-Haul, drive it City B, pick up the safe, drive it back, and unload the safe.

“It’s awful big,” I told my wife.

“We can unload it,” she said, tipping it up easily with one hand.  “No worries.”

I shrugged. She’s a woman. She’s in tune with the universe. She’s keyed into that magical connection that transcends definition.

So I believed her.

“Rent a dolly with the U-Haul truck,” she said.

So, I did. I thought we could use a dolly, take it off the truck, get it in the house, and set it up. That’s what I thought.

More on that later.

Let’s fast forward to that moment when I walked in to that sporting goods store and sure enough they had 24 gun safes in stock. I handed the guy the sale sign, said “I want this safe,” and he said “I’ll bring it right out. Go up to the checkout, pay, and we’ll bring it up.”

So that’s what I did. When I got up there they asked me if it was supposed to be $699. I said “no, it’s on sale for $449.” So the gal checked by radio with the guy who gave her the UPC code. She said “Customer is saying it’s on sale for $449.” Apparently the guy confirmed what I’d said, so she said “Okay, I’ll change it.”

So I paid the money, took the receipt to the door, and two guys whom I’ll call Dumb and Dumber loaded the safe on the truck. They used a dolly. It looked easy. So I got in the truck, took it home, and then I unslung the dolly from the U-haul truck, and I am sure I must have looked like a Chihuahua trying to have sex with a Great Dane. During the next 15 minutes I nearly tore every ligament in my upper body. No matter what I did I could not get that damned safe up on the dolly. I tried. My wife tried. We tried together. No matter what we did, we could not get the safe balanced on the dolly.  And the idea of being crushed to death by a gun safe did not sound fun.

My wife fixed this by having the people who run a moving business, let’s call them Two dysfunctional males and a means of conveying Big Stuff (or 2DMMCBS), send over two guys to take the safe off the truck, cart it into the house, and unwrap it. They said they’d be there at 4, so I extended the truck rental to 5 (another $76 thanks).  I told them I had to have the truck back by 5.  So I relaxed that afternoon waiting for 4:00 p.m. and the unloading  of my safe.

Except at 4, we hadn’t heard anything.

“They’ll be here,” my wife said.

I wasn’t so sure. I assume you do not get confused with an Oxford scholar by working in a moving business. I assume you’re hired for your brawn, not your brains. So naturally, I called. Naturally, they weren’t coming.

They didn’t know anything about it. After I threatened to reach down the phone line and choke the living shit out of the woman on the other end, she put me on hold, called my wife, and, talking to someone who was rational at that point, worked out the details to send two men to our house, perhaps in the hope of undoing my promise to track her down and give her a piece of my mind.

The men they sent were terrific. I tipped them well. They pulled the safe off the truck, unboxed it, and much to my surprise, it was not a 24 gun safe.

Nope.

It was a 24 + 4 gun safe, a safe that actually was $699, not the $599 marked down to $449 that the company had on sale. At this point, and having unboxed it, pitched the wrapping, and paid off the knuckleheads at the moving company and U-Haul, and almost destroyed my lumbar vertebrae, there was no way I was calling them and offering to bring it back. I figure this is their error, they own it, and I am not about to do anything to call it to their attention.

I did consider it, however.

I thought about calling, revealing the error, and offering to pay half the difference. But I realized that doing that would probably get Dumb and Dumber fired, and they looked like the kind of guys that might really need their jobs. So, being kind to them, and figuring to stick it to the corporate oligarchs, I said nothing.

But at this point, if they figure it out, they’re going to have to deliver a 24 gun safe before they can come take the 24+4 gun safe back. And I’m not lifting a finger to help them.

So, all told, I spent $350 getting the safe delivered.

Schmedlaps would have delivered it for $320.

Some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.

Wheel Guns

I recently purchased a Ruger GP100 Match Champion.

IMG_5864

I picked it up in large part because I have always loved revolvers, even though they ceased being a practical everyday carry weapon when Glock, Kimber, Springfield, and Smith & Wesson started making reliable semi-automatics designed for conceal and carry. Still, if you are a big guy (and I am) you can get by with concealing a .357 Magnum on your person if you wear a tight holster and a loose cover garment.

One of the things that has always attracted me to the .357 Magnum is the power of the load, and its reputation as a man-stopper. Yes, I know, stopping power is not really “a thing” and no responsible instructor talks about it any more. But omitting it from the discussion does disservice both to the history of gunfighting as well as the developments that led to the use of the .45 caliber round in the M1911.

During the Philippine Insurrection Moro tribesmen took multiple hits from .38 caliber weapons and continued to fight, often with great effect, in close-quarters combat. The .45 was developed in order to bore bigger holes, effect greater bleeding, induce more profound shock, and ultimately, stop gunfights.

The Navy Seals say that two is one, and one is none. Recently an NRA writer opined that this means seals “aren’t good at math.” But that’s nonsense. The 2 is 1 motto is a reflection of Murphy’s Law.

You know Murphy’s Law. It says that whatever can go wrong, will. The corollaries say that if something goes wrong, it will be at the worst possible moment. The corollaries also say that if more than one thing goes wrong, the first thing to go wrong will be the thing that causes the most damage.

Seals are positively OCD about weapons lubrication and maintenance, and they don’t take grimy weapons into combat. But they swim with their rifles, the crawl through mud and muck with their rifles and sidearms, and eventually all of that will yield a weapons failure. Thus the 2 is 1 motto is meant to provide for a backup, even if that backup is redundant.

Redundant backups are a good thing. I have a full trauma kit in my range bag, but I also have a full trauma kit in my car. I have one in my house. I have this trauma kits because I know that bad things happen, and if I come across one of those bad things, I want to be able to do the things I was trained to do as a combat medic. Stop the bleeding, stabilize the patient, turn him over to compentent medical care.

The point is, we spend a lot of time in the real world preparing for things that don’t happen.  We crawl into tornado shelters even though there is almost no chance we’re going to get hit with the tornado.  We wear our seatbelt because if we’re in an accident, it will prevent greater injury.  We take precautions.  My .357 purchase is just that, a precaution.

All of this gets back, however, to the idea of stopping power. If you can’t survive the gunfight, all the preparation in the world was for nothing. Thus the idea of a five or six shot .357 in a concealed holster for that real world situation where the 15 rounds in the Glock 19, or the 17 rounds in the Glock 17 are not enough makes sense.  And that’s particularly true where the drug-fueled crazy person isn’t being stopped by 9 mm rounds; a .357 center of mass is pretty devastating, especially when using Critical Defense ammunition.

In the Gray Man novels, author Mark Greaney always reminds us that there is “no first aid in a gunfight.” The threat must be stopped before you can attend to the wounded. That’s especially true when you are the only person on your side of the gunfight.

So, I bought the .357, and I hope to get to the range soon and make sure it’s zeroed and ready to be placed in service as a backup weapon. I suspect it will most often serve as a safe queen, since my Glock 27 usually rides shotgun when I carry the Glock 22, or the Glock 26 rides shotgun when I carry my Glock 19. But I ordered a holster, and I will familiarize with it, and be certain I can use it if I need it, because that’s the only reason to buy a gun: to use to protect innocent life. I doubt I will train as much with it as my Glocks or my Kimber, but I will still train. Because having a gun and not training with it regularly is like having an alarm system you never arm. It’s worthless.