Bayou

Putting the gun news on hold to do some work on the Louisiana floods. This week, the latest on recovery efforts as waters finally receed, the political fallout, and how private companies are stepping up to help those displaced.

1.) Baseline. Roughly 13 people are dead after record flooding in Louisiana. Upwards of 30,000 people have been displaced and at least 40,000 homes have suffered considerable damage as well. About 1,000 pets have also been rescued as well.

In its most recent blog update, FEMA discussed the nearly 3,800 National Guard members in the area.

2.) Politics. As with Hurricane Katrina, there is a political element to it. Most notably accusations of media bias, as shown in a FOX News article entitled “Media that ripped Bush on Katrina ignores Obama on La. flooding.” President Obama has come under increasing pressure to visit the area, and the White House said late this week that he would be touring the flood zone this coming Tuesday.

GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, on the other hand, has already been in the flood zone in what supporters are calling, among other things, a “brilliant maneuver perfectly timed to complement his campaign revamp.” Critics are not so pleased, noting the Governor’s request that Obama and other figures whose visit would need a massive security detail hold off a week or two before visiting.

3.) Stepping up. Airbnb, a service which allows people to rent out portions of their homes to others, is putting a fair amount of effort into doing their part to help those displaced. The company has set up a page for those in the area to either offer a place to stay, and connecting them with those who lost their homes in the flooding. The company is waiving all fees normally associated with transactions on the site from August 14 to September 6.

4.) Final notes. Over on InSov, Nomad has posted a ton of ways you can help with the relief efforts.

While disaster relief as a whole was beyond the scope of the piece, I would suggest reviewing the topics we discussed back in “Lethal Ignorance.” Get a weather radio, preferably one that supports the National Weather Service’s Specific Area Message Encoding system. Analyze what the big weather threats in your area are (hurricanes in the southeast, massive snowstorms in the northeast, etc.), and equip yourself with the tools you need to stay ahead of them and sustain yourself through them.

Nothing good ever came out of “it can’t happen here.” Find what you need to have, do, and know in case it does.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Thrasher and Rhode

The first Olympic Medal for the US comes from an air rifle shooter, the first woman to medal in six straight Olympics is also a shooter, and why businesses want nothing to do with either of them. Great performances in Rio, but we really need to deal with the stigma of guns.

1.) Thrasher. First off, how cool is it that the first US gold medal is from a shooter with the last name “Thrasher”? Anyway, Ms. Thrasher took gold in the 10 meter air rifle event. Naturally, this has invited a ton of mockery from the perpetually angry anti-gun types in the country.

For her part, Thrasher (and her competitors), have been slightly irritated in how even Olympic sport is politicized if it involves firearms.

2.) Rhode. Normally, you’d think people would absolutely love when a woman competitor sets a record. Apparently that isn’t the case given the staggering lack of coverage of skeet shooter Kim Rhode, who became the first woman in any nation to earn a medal in six straight Olympic Games. (In other words, she has won in Rio this year, London in 2012, Beijing in 2008, Athens in 2004, Sydney in 2000, and of course Atlanta in 1996.)

Six games, meaning she has been at this for over 24 years and has medaled each time she has competed in the Games. That is a massive achievement, but doesn’t seem to be getting nearly as much coverage.

And it’s also not getting much in the way of corporate attention.

3.) Business. Put bluntly, the stigma the media and others have attached to firearms is making it difficult for Olympic shooters to get endorsements from outside of the firearms industry. If there is one upshot to that, it’s this from Bloomberg News:

“You talk about rifles and pistols and people are afraid, especially in Europe with the recent terrorism,’’ said Luciano Rossi, an Italian senator who is also president of the country’s shooting federation, and also vice-president of the international shooting federation. “We must offer a new image of our sport. If the spectators know our sport, they understand and love us, and if they love us, the sponsors come.’’

Considering the recent spike in people (particularly women) in this country getting into either the shooting sports or getting their CCW permits, we are seeing a change in how people (in this country , at least) perceive guns. As that fear dissipates, the environment may get easier for those competitors.

Until then, the very least we can do is recognize these Olympians for their historic achievements and the amount of work it took to get there.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Grab Bag: August 2016

An update on Midnight Run: Lethal Ignorance, an anti-gun pastor runs afoul of anti-gun laws, and can weed manage the symptoms of PTSD. A wide-ranging grab bag this month as we head into the post-convention phase of the elections.

1.) Good Samaritans. A new law in Ohio would protect people who rescue kids and pets trapped in hot cars. It’s an expansion of the usual “Good Samaritan” laws that focus on rendering aid to people.

It’s kind of sad that laws are needed to protect people trying to do the right thing from legal retaliation, but such is the world we live in.

2.) Anti-gun irony. In what is seeming to be a strange trend post-Couric “documentary,” an anti-gun pastor trying to raffle off an AR-15 with the purpose of destroying it, transferred it to a friend in such a way that Oregon laws do not allow. To top it off, the pastor is a law school graduate.

There is a comedy to anti-gun types being snared by laws they supported. We saw it with Couric, and now we have this.

3.) PTSD. I’m not here to beat you over the head with statistics on veteran suicide. Derek Weida had a fantastic video on that a while back.

No, I’m actually more interested in a study that looks to at least partially treat PTSD, and possibly bring down suicides in the process. A new study involving two separate research teams is looking for veteran volunteers to see if marijuanna can blunt the impact of combat-related PTSD. The researchers are adamant that they are looking for symptom management and aren’t about to start on if weed can cure the effects of PTSD.

It’s worth looking into, though results from the study aren’t expected for another two years.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Distracton

Dallas attacks is used to attack open carry, most guns used in crime weren’t acquired legally, and yet more attempts to ban semi-auto rifles.
Not much to cover of significance, honestly. (Is it really worth getting detailed on the DNC being anti-gun? No. You already know they are.)

1.) Open Carry. Despite having nothing to do with the attacks themselves, some are using the Dallas attacks to justify going after open carry. (Of course, the person who was open carrying during the attacks is now fearing for his life from people outraged enough to be angry, but not enough to follow the story.)

It’s worth noting that the “suspect” who was exonerated was open carrying a long gun, which has been legal in Texas for decades.

2.) Criminals. Of course, any new gun law wouldn’t do much as crimnals would still go around the law. Now, we have yet more proof of this thanks to a peer-reviewed study. The study, titled “Gaps continue in firearm surveillance: Evidence from a large U.S. City Bureau of Police,” shows that almost 80% of all guns used by criminals aren’t legally theirs.

If you follow firearms news and crime statistics, this is nothing new.

Once again, however, we must point out the obvious. Not supporting useless laws is not the same as opposing all laws. It’s a cute, but intellectually and fundamentally dishonest distraction that simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

There is a difference between having undying faith in law’s ability to prevent, and acknowledging that some laws simply serve no realistic purpose.

3.) Bans. Not that this is going to stop a group of people who, at this point, are desperate for a victory. Ammoland has a report out on anti-gun groups looking to ban semi-auto rifles like the AR-15. (And presumably the AK-15 ghost gun.) The most recent efforts are in Washington State and Oregon.

4.) Massachusetts. The Attorney General of Massachusetts is running into a bit of resistance for her unilateral ban on “assault weapons.” A Democratic State Rep, Harold P. Naughton Jr., along with about 58 other people in the Legislature, called the action something that “unfairly infringes on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

The NRA says it is looking at any avenue to overturn the AG’s action.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Normalizer

After three weeks of specifics, time to get back to the news. This week, the NRA at the RNC, plus Massachusetts’ AG sets off a staggering spike in gun sales, and “ghost guns” are back from the dead.

1.) The RNC. The NRA’s Chris Cox spoke at this week’s GOP Convention. Cox highlighted, among other things the vehemently anti-gun record of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The NRA also redoubled its efforts to spread the “Freedom’s Safest Place” campaign this week. The new push includes television spots which aired during the Convention and a website soliciting donations to keep the extremely strong ads on the air throughout this cycle.

In other convention news, it’s worth noting that despite fears of bloodshed and calls for the governor to suspend open carry (but not concealed for some bizarre reason) in Ohio, there were no massive reports of violence outside of the convention.

2.) Ghost gun. Remember those? The term practically invented (fittingly enough) out of thin air by Sen. Kevin de Leon is back and the law banning such things was signed into law this week.

So we have a bill signed into law based on terminology that isn’t real. Only in California.

3.) Massachusetts. The AG of Massachusetts unilaterally decided to implement an Assault Weapons Ban. As is typical with these sorts of things, the law set off a new surge of gun sales.

We know now just how many. Guns.com has a report out suggesting that just over 2,500 rifles were sold.

As is normal for these things, bans lead to abundance. Eventually, that lesson will be learned by the anti-gun crowd.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Lethal Ignorance

In the final special for the month of July, I’m going to kick off with a question.

It’s not something political, like “do you know your own Senator’s name.” (Although polls show most don’t.)

It’s not something statistical, like are you aware gun homicides have dropped since 1993.” (although again, most don’t.)

It’s very simple.
Can you swim?

Yes, “can you swim” is a question surveys show over half of Americans can’t answer affirmatively.

Consider the implications of being unable to know how to swim well enough to not drown…..and therefore not well enough to save someone else.

Additionally, a 2013 study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that just over half of Americans are aware of alert and warning systems (Emergency Broadcast Systems, tornado sirens, etc.) and fewer still are aware of what their local hazards are. That same study found that just over one-third of Americans have attended CPR training, fewer still First Aid training.

In other words, Americans are woefully unprepared for emergencies on a micro scale like when someone suffers a stroke in front of them, let alone natural disasters.

We talk about how dangerous this world is, and do nothing to attempt to be ready for the dangers we speak of.

This week, we look at all the angles of survival. We look at First Aid, CPR, AEDs, and how all three work together. We look at surviving disasters and environmental hazards ranging from extreme cold and avalanches, to extreme heat and the dangers of heat stroke. We will also look at ways to stay ahead of storms, not all of which need cell towers (or expensive phones for that matter). We will also look at Good Samaritan laws, including how you can lose protection under those laws in an instant.

1.) Disclaimer: It should go without saying that one Midnight Run neither constitutes medical advice nor First Aid or CPR training. This week is about pointing this audience in the direction of certified trainers, and how they can arm themselves with the information they need and the tools to help in emergencies. I cannot and will not pretend to know your skill level, medical experience, or frankly your ability to perform any of the actions we will discuss tonight.

I’m not a medical professional. In all cases of severe injury, 911 is your first best friend. The second is a medical professional.

2.) First Aid. First aid is defined as administering medical care to an injured/choking/unresponsive person before advanced medical care can arrive. It is the first line of defense because nobody can respond to an emergency faster than the people already there. The fastest response to a fire will come from the person closest to the fire extinguisher. Likewise, the fastest response to a cut will be the person closest to the dressing/bandages.

There are two major organizations that teach First Aid nationwide to just about everyone, the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. Both classes allow a person to be certified in First Aid, CPR, and the use of AEDs.

2a.) You’re the Patient. As an aside, if, God forbid, you should ever be the one in need of assistance, there is a relatively recent development in smartphones you should take advantage of. The most recent version of iOS allows for the user to input vital information about himself, such as emergency contacts, blood type, and any allergies to medicine you have through the Health app. The Health app also has a feature that places the Medical ID you create on the lock screen, making it easily accessible for anyone looking to render aid.

If you have an iPhone, use this feature.

3.) CPR CPR is a well-known (in theory) method of essentially taking over for a person’s heart when the organ has either become weak or an artery blocked. It is designed to keep blood flowing for long enough for EMTs to arrive and take over. Because CPR involves forcefully compressing the person’s chest, many are concerned about liability for doing so should the person survive whatever it is that caused CPR to be used in the first place.

4.) Good Samaritan laws. This is where the so-called “Good Samaritan Laws” kick in. All 50 states have one, and although they may vary from state-to-state, the main principle is that a person acting in good faith to administer aid to someone cannot be held liable for whatever damage he/she does in the process. For example, if in the course of CPR you manage to break a rib, you cannot be held liable. The reasoning behind this is that something like a cracked rib is an unfortunate, but incalculably better outcome than if the CPR had not been done and the person died right then and there.

But one area where it gets tricky is as follows. In many states (Georgia, for instance), the protection of the Good Samaritan Law is predicated on not accepting compensation of any kind. The rationale behind that should be obvious; you did what you did to save someone’s life, not because there might be a reward on the other end.

5.) AEDs. In the 1990s, the use of AEDs or Automatic External Defibrillators was approved by the FDA for use by civilians. In 2004, the FDA approved AEDs to be sold in stores. AEDs are portable, easy-to-use defibrilators that serve to either jump-start a person’s heart or try to reset it to a normal rhythm. They are able to analyze the person’s heart rate, and many of them come with instructions and voice prompts to guide someone through the process of using the AED. (Although, yes, training is the best way to learn how to do so.)

Automatic External Defibrillators are used in concert with CPR, and AEDs prompt the user when to begin CPR and when to allow the system to determine if another shock is warranted.

Put bluntly, AEDs are tools used to make it more likely for a person to survive. Many businesses now have at least one such device.

6.) Drowning. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let me briefly jump back to the intro. As we discussed, many Americans quite literally cannot swim to save their lives. The logical extension of this is that they can’t save anybody else’s lives either.

So how big a problem is this, really?
According to the CDC, around 3,536 people died from unintentional drowning annually between 2005-2014.

It doesn’t take too much to figure out how a lot of those can very easily be prevented. Not by banning something or other, but by simply learning a handful of skills.

7.) Weather. Up to this point, just about everything we have discussed has been small-scale stuff. Choking, drowning, etc. all happen on an individual level.

Let us wrap by discussing hazards on a much larger scale. Namely, weather and natural disasters.

While it is well beyond the scope of this Run to clearly define all natural hazards, there are a few I would like to highlight, and how to get around them. Severe weather, and avalanches.

The former is best handled through one of the foremost authorities on preparing for severe weather; which is of course the National Weather Service.  The NWS has been (at least trying) to get the word out about how to prepare for severe weather for decades now, and chief among those efforts is the widely-available but little-known “voice of the National Weather Service” known as NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards. NOAA Weather Radio is a network of local broadcasts from NWS Weather Forecast Offices around the country on seven frequencies specifically reserved for the service. There are radios specially designed to both receive the broadcasts, and play an alert tone when one is released for an area (this is particularly useful at night in tornado-prone areas).

The network covers virtually all of the United States, and radios are available for prices ranging from $25 to $100. There’s really no excuse not to have one, especially if you are in an area prone to severe weather.

Outside of the alerts that NOAA Weather Radio provides, there are very powerful apps you can use to stay ahead of storms. My personal favorite on iOS an Android is RadarScope. RadarScope basically allows you to look at a ton of information from the National Weather Service’s NEXRAD radar network. It does not provide a national mosaic, but instead focuses on providing raw data from the radar. Watches and warnings are also shown.

8.) Avalanches. There is one more event I want to focus on briefly; And that is the avalanche. Avalanches are when a large amount of snow, ice and rocks barrel down a mountain. Interestingly, there is a great series on avalanche survival from apparel manufacturer The North Face in association with the American Avalanche Association.

9.) Bottom line. Americans are woefully under-prepared for emergencies on a micro level, let alone disasters on a city- or state-wide level. This problem can be easily fixed through education and use of abundantly available technology. Self-reliance has become a strangely little-known trait in America, despite the fact that it is one of the traits that defined our country not too long ago.

Self-reliance is not simply being able to defend yourself against criminals. It is being able to assist yourself and others in all kinds of emergencies. Being able to both defend yourself against criminal threats and to assist yourself in an emergency is the very definition of self-reliance. Additionally, one who is able to swim well enough to save his own life can be easily trained to swim to save others.

The foundation that comes from that is borderline unshakable. When a community is able to rely on each other for assistance, and augments the abilities of emergency personnel instead of relying on them, virtually everyone benefits.

And it is not impossible. The way the community of West, Texas banded together after the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion is basically a legend that surprised everybody but the people who lived there.

The point is this. We are our own first response team. The people who are at a scene where an emergency takes place are the best first responders because they would have been there regardless. (You have to describe where you are to a 911 dispatcher. You don’t have to do that to yourself.) The training needed to administer what could be lifesaving care to someone is easily accessible, and the tools needed to stay ahead of severe weather are both inexpensive and extremely easy-to-use.

Put bluntly, get trained, get a radio, and get ready for whatever comes your way.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay alive.

Origins

In this era of emojis and “text speak” it should come as no surprise that misunderstanding English is incredibly common and easy. In fact, in some circles, it’s even profitable. One such circle is the anti-gun movement, which has done everything it can to obfuscate the meaning of the Second Amendment despite the fact that the words could not possibly be more specific.

It’s a modern wonder how much effort is being put into intentionally misunderstanding plain English that has lasted for centuries. This week, we break down the Second Amendment. It’s origins, the thought process behind it, and how the two “halves” of the sentence compliment each other rather than cancelling each other out.

By the way, a lot of this also comes from Stephen Hallbrook’s brilliant book, The Founders’ Second Amendment. You owe it to yourself to read that book. (Full disclosure: I am not part of any affiliate program, and do not profit from book sales made through that link.)

1.) Origins. It isn’t difficult to determine why the Founders saw the need for firearm ownership. After an incredibly difficult fight for independence, very few saw why they wouldn’t need a firearm. Additionally, many did not see the need for a Bill of Rights at all. To many Whigs, the rights of freedom of speech, press, bearing arms etc. were assumed as fundamental and not worth writing down. Gun ownership was so fundamental, that the Georgia delegation to the 1778 Continental Congress “sought to deny citizenship rights to those who refused to pick up a gun in defense of the revolution.” (Halbrook 2008, 149-150)

Chapter 7 of Hallbrook’s book opens with this passage:

IN AMERICA, declared Dr. Richard Price in 1779, “every inhabitant has in his house (as a part of his furniture) a book on law and government to enable him to understand his civil rights; a musket to enable him to defend these rights; and a Bible to enable him to understand and practice his religion.

(Halbrook 2008, 148)

This is a crucial part to understand. The argument is that “well-regulated militia” represents something along the lines of the National Guard or a State Defense Force. Yet, here, we see both that firearms were so crucial to the Revolution that some believed you shouldn’t be allowed citizenship without one and that it allowed for the individual to defend his/her rights. It is impossible, in that context, to argue that the Founders sought to limit the Second Amendment to a centralized government.

2.) Well-regulated militia. So what was the militia? Put simply, at the time, it was anybody who was able to fight. Regulated, Halbrook shows us, meant “adjusted by rule, method or forms; put in good order; subjected to rules or restrictions.” This has been something that anti-gunners have seized upon, attempting to wipe out the second half of the Amendment’s text altogether. In this case, “regulated” meant virtually all “able-bodied” men with training regulated by rules. (Hallbrook 2008, 330)

George Mason, one of the Virginia delegates to the 1778 Continental Congress, made it clear that the militia meant “ the whole people, except a few public officers.” Indeed, in one of his many statements at the Congress, Mason was worried that future governments would try to push entire classes of people out of the militia.

Under such a full and equal representation as ours, there can be no ignominious punishment inflicted. But under this national, or rather consolidated government, the case will be different. The representation being so small and inadequate, they will have no fellow-feeling for the people. They may discriminate people in their own predicament, and exempt from duty all the officers and lowest creatures of the national government. If there were a more particular definition of their powers, and a clause exempting the militia from martial law except when in actual service, and from fines and punishments of an unusual nature, then we might expect that the militia would be what they are. But, if this be not the case, we cannot say how long all classes of people will be included in the militia. There will not be the same reason to expect it, because the government will be administered by different people. We know what they are now, but know not how soon they may be altered.

In short, the milita was seen as essential to the Republic’s security. A well-trained, well-equipped group of men capable of fighting at a moment’s notice. The purpose of the Second Amendment was clear and obvious to all.

One thing that made being ready in an instant easy? Everybody was armed.

3.) Right of the People. The Bill of Rights does not create rights, but rather acknowledges and guarantees them. Indeed, the language of the Amendments shows that the authors of the Constitution already acknowledged those rights. (Recall that some didn’t even believe writing them down was worthwhile.)

For example, consider the language of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

At what point does the Amendment grant a those rights? It doesn’t. It says that Congress shall not create a law that infringes on a right that the people are presumed to already have.

In every Amendment, the individual is protected, and the Constitution lays out what can and cannot be done to the individual. The Fourth Amendment kicks off by saying “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Once again, the Constitution does not grant a right, but rather acknowledges and protects it.

So why, exactly, in a document built on protecting the citizen from harm and protecting the citizen’s rights, would the Founders reserve the ownership of firearms to the government. In other words, why would the Founders put in place a legal system to protect a citizen’s rights, while giving the government a monopoly on force?

Put bluntly, the first portion is the purpose clause. It lays out the rationale for the Amendment, but does not limit the right of the people. There is nothing suggesting that the Founders sought for the national government to have a monopoly on force.

4.) Bottom line. While there were people at the Continental Congress who sought to give the federal government a large amount of power, the Amendments that were added to the Constitution were clearly intended to protect the individual. While the Second Amendment is the only one to kick off with a purpose clause, the purpose is not used to negate the right. Further, it makes no logical sense that a document built on protecting the individual would subject that individual to an authority with a monopoly on force.

The Second Amendment, indeed the Constitution as a whole, is a product of Revolution Era thinking; of the purest expression of individual liberty and the means by which that liberty is defended. To them, the gun represented a way to defend one’s livelihood and, yes, one’s nation if need be.

While the army was meant to be the first line of defense, the militia (that is, the citizenry) was meant to be the last. The Founders set up a system with which to ensure the militia had exactly what it needed to be that last line of defense and to protect the liberty of the individual citizen.

As Patrick Henry noted in one of his many fiery speeches:

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Halbrook, Stephen P. The Founders’ Second Amendment. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.

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