2016 – The Year of the Butthurt Party

As the lead up to the 2016 general elections continue, more candidates are dropping off as the major candidates continue. As this quadrennial spectacle draws nearer to its climax, we see the emergence of the next great political group, the Butthurt Party!

Who are the Butthurt? These are the diehard supporters of the candidates that didn’t make it this far. They have been the fiercest, most vocal followers of their chosen one – and the most critical, rabid anti-whomever their candidate was running against. Their lawn, car and clothing are covered equally with pro-my candidate logos and slogans and anti-whomever logos and slogans. It’s been a bitter fight and they have been all in from the get go. If their candidate doesn’t win, they won’t vote at all!

But there’s a problem. Their candidate wasn’t selected. What do they do now?

As all primary and caucus contests do, they pit candidates from their own party against each other; the winner will go on to the final contest against the other party’s candidate in the general election. You know, sort of like the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only with more teeth and less civility.

You’ve spent months learning all the reasons why your candidate’s opponent is completely incompetent to lead – and now you’re expected to throw your support behind them in a show of party unity? You’re supposed to ditch all of your candidate’s logos, slogans, stickers and t-shirts for your hated opponents and be happy about it? What madness is this??

Welcome to the Butthurt Party of American politics.

One of the biggest issues with the way our political process operates is during all the run-up contests; the party members have been trashing the living crap out of each other to come out on top. Now they, and all of us, are challenged with how to turn all that hate and discontent towards each other into hate and discontent towards the rival party.

We’ve already seen some of the ‘reconciliation’ process begin. Stalwarts of the party are withholding their support until they can have meetings and, well… presumably negotiations over issues and points of power that are important to them. This is supposed to bring them, and their loyalists on board and ready to go into the general elections.

But what of the hard-core, anybody-but-my-candidate’s-opponent supporters? Will they be able to make that leap of faith or will they do as they are promising now and just not vote at all?

Here’s what it boils down to. For better or worse, we have a two party political system, especially at the national level. Like many people, I too wish there were more options available. But while there are always third party candidates, the elections are going to be decided by the two major parties.

It’s time to take a look at what is really important to you and decide if you can support what the candidates have to offer. Will it ever be 100% of what YOU personally want? Hell no! (If that’s what you expect then why isn’t your name on the ballot?) While you’re at it, also take a look at what the other candidate is offering and decide if you not voting is in your, or the country’s best interest.

Californians: Monday, May 23, 2016 is the last day to register for the June 7th primary.

If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #elections, #getoutandvote, #butthurt

*Image from the great folks at ActionFigureTherapy.com

The Thin Blue Line

The thin blue line on a field of black represents the police who separate the public from anarchy, the citizens from criminals, the good from bad. The line is thin since they are very few in numbers; always too few.

The men and women who wear the badge come from every corner of the community, all kinds of families, all faiths and all shapes and sizes. Yes, some even love donuts. The reasons they choose this life of service are as varied as they are, but the have chosen this life willingly and with full understanding of what it involves.

To serve as a law enforcement officer means putting yourself in harms way. Where others run from danger, the officers must pursue it. They will train in the law, in forensics and investigative technique. They must know how to compassionately deal with the mentally ill, the sick and injured, the disturbed and the impaired. They will see the darkest sides of the worst the world has to offer, as well as those who are viewed as doing no wrong. In the blink of an eye, they will need to make legal and ethical life or death decisions that will be scrutinized by the greatest legal minds in the world for decades to come. They must do this all with fairness and objectively.

In return, they can expect to rotate through day, evening and nightshifts for what seems like an eternity. They will work no matter the weather, even when others are told to stay home. They must battle exhaustion, insomnia, weight gain and weight loss. Stress related illnesses including PTSD are forever menacing. They can expect a higher rate of divorce and suicide than the general population, as well as the threat of death or disabling injury every day on the job and every day in their personal life because they chose to wear the badge. Yet still, they serve.

We now live in a time of 24-hour, seven-day a week news cycles fuelled by cameras in every cell phone with access to social media to spread truth, lies and judgment. It has been a doubled edged sword for law enforcement as it has shown them at their best, and at their worst. While the vast, Vast, VAST majority of officers serve with absolute distinction, a handful have disgraced the badge and what it stands for. It not only hurts them, but the entire community as well. I can tell you first hand there is nothing more disturbing, more reprehensible, more unacceptable to law enforcement than when one of their own has gone bad.

I was extremely fortunate in my time as a law enforcement officer to have served with men and women of integrity and courage. Many of these officers are still serving today. Through my later work and friendships, I am also honored to know officers in my local community and throughout the country at every level in a wide range of departments and agencies. I can say without hesitation, these too are officers of the highest caliber whom I would trust my very life with.

National Police Week 2016 is from Sunday, May 15, 2016 through Saturday, May 21, 2016. During this time the nation pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. Since 1791, over 20,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice in this country. Their names are engraved on the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. One of these names was a friend of mine.

If you have not, I encourage you to visit the memorial in person or online at www.nleomf.org/memorial and learn the stories of these heroes who gave everything for the communities they served.

Furthermore, I encourage you to learn what your local law enforcement officers are doing in your community and support them wherever you can; with your vote, your time, your funds, your words or your hands.

To those who have died with the badge as well as those who continue to wear it today, I thank you.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #thinblueline, #nleom, #nationalpoliceweek2016

Not So Smart Guns

Bond… James Bond. When it comes to high tech gadgets, nobody does it better than 007. Through the Bond movies we’ve seen cars that fly, swim and are invisible, jet packs, mini-rocket cigarettes, watches with lasers powerful enough to cut through inches of steel and of course, a signature gun – a gun that can only be fired by the owner.

While many of the Q inspired gadgets are pure movie fiction, some have come to exist in the real world, but with real world limitations. A couple of cars can fly, but they don’t look anything like a regular car. Some cars swim, but they are the odd ducks of the auto and boat world and they can’t go under water. And then there are signature guns, now called “smart guns” by those who believe they are the next greatest gun safety, a.k.a. gun control measure.

The technology has been around for years and generally relies on a ring, watch or band that must be held in close proximity to the firearm to activate it. The theory is if the owner is not holding the firearm with the appropriate activation device, it will not fire. The only current production firearm is a .22 LR pistol made by a German company, which uses a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip and requires a five-digit pin code for an eight-hour activation period. It is not currently available in the United States. A few tech entrepreneurs have jumped on the bandwagon and are working on prototypes with remote controls, electronic ammunition and RFID chips embedded in the firearm owner’s skin. Firearms with pin codes, fingerprint readers, sensors to identify the owners grip, Bluetooth activation and Internet connected schemes are out there as well.

Despite the lack of demand from firearms community, it is being legislated as a requirement. The President’s latest set of Executive Orders included a provision for federally funded research into “smart gun” technology. A 2002 New Jersey law stipulates that three years after “smart guns” are available anywhere in the United States only smart guns can be sold in the state of New Jersey.

It’s worth noting the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have both been very clear that they are not opposed to “smart gun” technology. What they are opposed to, and I firmly agree, is a government mandate for it. If the market decides they want it, then the products will flourish.

What could be wrong with a “smart gun”? In a word: technology. Aside from the issues of adding sensitive electronics to a machine with heavy shock and vibrations; batteries die and usually at the worst possible time. Add a little moisture, heat or cold and they’ll die quicker. Radio frequency connections are not only highly prone to interference but hacking as well. Being tethered to a device of any kind means you must always be wearing that device on the hand you will be shooting with. Take it off and you’ve got access to an ugly little brick. If you’re wearing gloves or have dirty hands with devices that check fingerprints, you’ll be out of luck.

In the research I’ve done (yes, I really do research) the inherent unreliability isn’t the worst part. The most frightening part is what is hidden inside the “smart gun” technology. Two core features are part of nearly all “smart gun” technologies; GPS and remote deactivation. GPS integration allows tracking of the firearm at all times, similar to your cell phone. Remote deactivation allows you, or someone else to remotely disable your firearm. That alone should scare the pants off you. At any time your family, employer or coworker – under California’s latest proposed enhancement to the Gun Violence Restraining Order law – could file a complaint against you and your firearms can be deactivated without your knowledge.

The real danger surfaces when those two features are combined. Similar to GPS software in newer drones, geofencing allows a virtual barrier to be placed around sensitive areas disallowing operation. The most common areas for drone operators are airports. Now move this into firearms restrictions. Government buildings, Post Offices and courts are the first to come to mind. But what about schools? Since anything within 1000 feet of a school is already a federally defined gun free zone, your firearm won’t work there. If you live within 1000 feet of a school – guess what, the Second Amendment won’t apply to you. Certainly banks will want to get in on the safety of geofencing their property. Who would need to use a firearm at an ATM?

Now consider a riot, protest or disturbance of any kind in your neighborhood. The beauty of connected systems is a geofence can be set up anywhere, anytime. The first action taken to an incident in your neighborhood can easily be a gun-free geofence set up around it to protect the first responders. It won’t matter if you are the one lawfully defending yourself at the time, all “smart guns” will be shut down.

Here’s the funny thing about so-called “smart guns”: The ONLY people who this will impact will be the law abiding citizen who wants to protect themselves or their family using their Second Amendment rights. It will have ZERO impact on criminals who will be using the plain old-fashioned pull-the-trigger-and-it-fires firearm that the rest of the world will still produce and can smuggle into the United States.

Firearms are supposed to do one thing and one thing only, reliably and accurately send projectile out the end of the barrel each and every time the trigger is pulled. Anything that has even the remotest possibility of preventing that from happening is a threat to your life. Safety, security and marksmanship are the sole responsibility of the owner, not a computer chip.

Is a “smart gun” right for you and your family? If so, that should be your choice, and your choice alone. If you prefer to have the regular, reliable kind of firearm then that should be your choice also, not the government’s.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #2ndamendment, #smartguns, #guncontrol, #gunconfiscation

Remember the updated malfunction drill: Tap, rack, check GPS, change battery, run setup, re-sync, bang.

United We Stand

This is a difficult year for those of us in the firearms community. Attacks on our rights are occurring at the local, state and national level. Traditionally gun hostile states are doubling down on new and creative ways of whittling away Constitutional rights. Firearm friendly states are being forced to defend themselves from external forces funded by political motivated elitists. Presidential candidates are vowing to destroy guns with Australian style confiscations.

While some states are making strides towards a return of Constitutional rights, others are working to strip them away. This conflict of ideology across the nation will undoubtedly wind its way through the judicial system to the Supreme Court. The next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court has the potential to trigger the reversal of the Heller and McDonald decisions and fundamentally reinterpret the Second Amendment into oblivion. Our next President will likely appoint an additional two to three Supreme Court Justices during his/her term.

Let’s be very clear on what is going on. The attacks on our rights, on our ability to own and use firearms, to defend our families, and ourselves is well funded and well coordinated. While feigning to support the Second Amendment, the goal is crystal clear; the elimination of private firearm ownership. This is a long-term strategy to systematically minimize then eliminate rights. Every incremental “common sense gun reform” “in the name of public safety” or “think of the children” restriction is another step towards the eventual outright ban.

So with all this at stake, why are we fighting with each other?

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of time and energy being expended bashing other firearm owners who flee to other states or are not doing ‘enough’ for the cause. Not only is this foolish, it’s counterproductive. If we can’t treat each other with respect, how do we expect the rest of the nation to treat us?

A lot of good people will undoubtedly migrate towards more free states. Let’s face it, even the most hardened, battle tested troops deserve a little time off the front lines and we know nothing of each person’s struggle. Consider how many firearm makers and related manufacturers have moved out of restrictive states. We haven’t stopped supporting them and we shouldn’t condemn some of our own for doing the same. Instead of ridiculing or berating them, we need to be understanding so they will continue to support those of us who remain and be strong proponents in their new home state.

Not all firearm owners can take the time to go to a rally or participate in a demonstration. Despite firearm ownership being lawful, some still need to live in relative secrecy because of their jobs or location. They are supporters just the same, but cannot be as vocal as others. Not everyone can speak to an audience, but they can write an email, a letter or contribute to an organization fighting on our behalf. There are many roles to play and we can each do our part in some way. But no matter what, we all must vote.

There are an estimated 350 million legal firearms in the United States, and the number grows every day. The owners span every possible race, culture, status, age, gender, religion and political affiliation. Imagine the power of that many united voices.

Without cooperation and participation from all firearm owners, the second half of Founding Father John Dickinson’s phrase is certainly going to kick in. And we will be the generation that allowed it to happen.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #2ndamendment, #unitedwestand, #gunconfiscation

Gun Confiscation Made Easier

This week the California legislature made progress on new ways to deny residents their Second Amendment rights by moving forward on a number of new anti-gun bills. None have anything to do with reducing crime or punishing criminals. All are aimed at taking gun rights – and guns, from law-abiding citizens. One of the most dangerous is AB 2607, an expansion of California’s unique in the nation Gun Violence Restraining Order law. This Bill would add employers, coworkers, mental health workers and employees of secondary or postsecondary schools to the list of persons who could deny you of your Second Amendment rights without due process.

For those who are unaware of how we got here, California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law came in the aftermath of the Santa Barbara murders of six individuals – three stabbed, three shot plus an additional 14 injured – by a disturbed college student who killed himself as police tracked him down.

The perpetrator had posted a number of disturbing videos online. Disturbing to the point where his family contacted the police about them. Six law enforcement members, four deputies, a university police officer and a dispatcher in training spoke with him outside his apartment. While typically two deputies are sent on welfare checks, officials said they sent a bigger response because they “were familiar with (him*)”. Before, during or after the 10-minute conversation with him, none of the law enforcement there, or at the two departments, looked at any of the videos or checked to see if he had firearms registered to him; an easy check in California. Shortly after the visit, the perpetrator took down the videos so as not to be discovered. He carried out his plans 30 days later.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, “The fact of the matter is our gun laws are so weak that when someone openly exhibits that violent behavior, they can still access guns.”

Hours (emphasis on HOURS) after the Isla Vista shooting, Nancy Skinner, a California state assemblywoman from Berkeley, drafted a bill that would create a system for “gun violence restraining orders” in which relatives, friends and intimate partners could ask a judge to temporarily block someone who is exhibiting violent tendencies from getting a firearm.

I’m going to make a comment here which may not go over very well with some people and for that, I apologize. While the internal departmental reviews concluded the officers acted appropriately, I say the California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is a political knee-jerk overreaction that came into being from an inadequate police response.

Six law enforcement personnel on scene, plus however many in dispatch in two departments, were aware of the videos and nobody thought to look at them. While the officers may not have had the “right” to search his room, nobody thought to ask for consent either. We’ll never know if the information from a firearms registration search and the videos, combined with the family’s report would have lead the officers to do a more in-depth interview or search. But summarily rejecting the investigatory value of that information and advocating a ‘we need more laws’ attitude is an insult to all officers who do the job.

Having succeeded at getting their foot in the door with a new way to strip you of your rights, California wants to extend this no due-process tool to a larger group. Any of your managers, coworkers or employees can say you are a danger to yourself or others – real or imagined – and your rights and firearms will be taken away. Consider the power anyone at your company will have, someone who didn’t get a promotion, got a bad evaluation or just doesn’t like that you own firearms. While making a false report is a misdemeanor, nobody will ever be able to prove or disprove what was said in a private conversation.

The burden of proof then falls on YOU to dispute the accusations to get your rights back and your property returned. The costs, not counting your own time, will easily be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars over months to years for legal expenses and costs associated with getting your firearms returned.

If you don’t live in California and think this will never happen where you live, think again. California likes to believe they lead the nation in rights smashing laws. Depending on how the elections go in November, this could very well affect you next.

If there is ever a time to get involved, it is now.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #gunconfiscation, #2ndamendment, #firearmsrestrainingorder

* I don’t find it necessary to carry on the legacy of psychopaths by continuing to name them.

Arsenals, Stockpiles and Caches – Oh My!

We’ve all seen the press conferences where a high-ranking law enforcement official or political gun grabber stands up with a crew of concerned cronies looking on from behind. In front of them, a table of scary looking guns and accessories is displayed. The description of the items usually includes terms such as ‘high-powered’, ‘assault weapon’ or ‘weapons of war’. Then, the requisite quote to emphasize how serious this really is: I’ve never seen a stockpile like this in all my years…

Whether called arsenals, stockpiles, caches or something else, the perp walk of guns is also commonly witnessed as ‘evidence’ is being staged on the front lawn of the suspect in question. The spectacle serves no crime fighting purpose other than to scare the neighbors and let the invited press get some good close-ups so the story will stick in the mind of potential jurors. I suppose it does also send a message. If you have a lot of guns and ammo, this could happen to you.

Just to be perfectly clear: I do NOT object to removing firearms from criminals. I DO object to using the criminal justice process to further political agendas with exaggerations and half-truths.

So, what exactly is an arsenal? In 1994, Handgun Control Inc., which later became The Brady Campaign, was trying to get legislation passed to create Arsenal Licenses using this definition:

Any person who owns 20 or more firearms or more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition or primers would be required to get an “arsenal” license. To obtain a federal arsenal license, a person would need to be fingerprinted, obtain permission of local zoning authorities, and pay a $300 tax every three years. Their home would be subjected to unannounced, warrantless inspection by the government up to three times a year. “Arsenal” owners would also have to obtain a $100,000 dollar insurance policy.

When was the last time a criminal used 20 firearms and a thousand rounds of ammunition in the commission of a crime? Is that even possible? And other than the obvious Second Amendment argument, why are these numbers so completely meaningless?

Collectors acquire firearms for the love of the craft, the history as well as for investments. Hunters, sport shooters, competitors and those who simply own firearms to defend themselves and their families know one firearm isn’t appropriate for every use. You probably own more than one pair of shoes too since even something that simple is purpose driven.

Buying ammo in bulk is no different than buying toilet paper in bulk; it’s cheaper in larger quantities. For anyone who shoots on a regular basis for training, competition, sport or recreation, buying in quantity and when it’s on sale can reduce the cost up to 50%. A single two-day training program can require over a thousand rounds. Buying in bulk also helps to insulate the firearm owner from temporary price spikes caused by political speeches about banning some kind of firearm or ammo.

Yet in the name of public safety and security, national, state and local politicians are trying to limit how many firearms or how much ammo you can have. In California where there is already a one-in-30-day limit on the purchase of handguns, anti-gun politicians are trying to extend that limit to include rifles and shotguns as well as party-to-party transactions. The result would be a strict one firearm a month acquisition limit. In New York, one ammunition-banning proposal would limit purchases to two times the capacity of your registered firearm caliber every 90 days. If you own a six-shot .38-caliber revolver you can buy 12 rounds of .38 ammunition every three months.

Are any of these laws going to prevent crime or limit it in any way when crimes are committed? Of course not. It’s as if these legislators are purposely trying to create a class of owners who are less competent to defend themselves because they can’t properly train with their firearms. Personally, I am a lot less concerned with someone who is investing their time and money in firearms, ammunition and training than with the gangbanger whose stolen six-shooter has five mismatched rounds because that’s all he has until he steals more.

So fellow patriots, be sure to hide your extravagant shoes and excessive rolls of quilted two-ply well. As soon as someone decides you don’t need those either, they’ll be laid out across your front lawn for all to view in horror and shame.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #2ndamendment, #gunandammobans, #gunconfiscation

Second Amendment Voter

Gun grabbers love to refer to Second Amendment supporters as single-issue voters. Portraying 2A supporters as being out of touch with the reality of the modern world and narrow minded is an effort to shame and ridicule them so they won’t be taken seriously. As you might expect, I disagree.

Let’s approach this from the context of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow ranked needs from bottom to top starting with physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The psychological theory is that the lower level needs must be met before the individual will have a strong desire for the upper level needs. In a very simple example: if you don’t have food, water and shelter, your desire for the fine arts and cultural pursuits are going to be pretty dim.

You are supposed to progress upwards as stability is gained in the lower levels but may drop back down through the list at any time due to your individual circumstances. When your lower level needs erode due to a change or loss, your primary concentration will be on fixing those foundational needs before you go back up.

So what does this have to do with the Second Amendment and voting? Think of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights as the foundational, base level need on Maslow’s chart. Everything that was built in this country, by this country, was born as a result of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by these documents. Freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press, the right to bear arms – all necessary and the basis for the success of the nation we live in today.

Unfortunately, the foundation of our nation is under attack nationally and locally. The presumptive Democratic nominee for President is steadfastly opposed to the Second Amendment and will do everything in her power to gut this right or repeal it outright. In addition, an anti-Second Amendment appointee to the US Supreme Court, as has been proposed by our current President, would most certainly guarantee any future firearms rights cases would be rejected. Landmark cases such as District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago would be in jeopardy of being ‘reinterpreted’ or repealed.

Here in California, the list of anti-Second Amendment ballot initiatives and bills grows almost daily. Each new one coming up with unique ways of stripping rights away from honest, law abiding firearms owners while doing absolutely nothing to increase safety or reduce crime.

Some contend the Second Amendment is outdated and an unnecessary relic from colonial times. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The protections expressed in these documents were the result of living under an oppressive government that no longer represented them. If that doesn’t apply to all of the rights today, nothing does.

It’s not that Second Amendment supporters aren’t concerned with international monetary policy or global environmental issues, it’s that they are focusing on an essential principle of our country first. Destroying the Second Amendment would eliminate a key part of the foundation of our nation. Just as the foundation of a single story house is critical to it’s stability, the foundation of a 100-story building is even more critical.

Patriots fought and died for our liberty. Our Founding Fathers had the courage to defy their oppressors, risking their lives and the lives of their families, to document what our new nation would be established on. The men and women of our armed services have been protecting it with their lives for nearly 240 years now.

For me, a free citizen of the United States for the sacrifices of those who have come before me, walking into a voting booth and placing my ballot for candidates who will support and protect the Second Amendment is an honor and my duty as a voter.

And when someone calls me a single-issue voter, I just reply: Damn right I am – for now.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #billofrights, #2ndamendment, #1stamendment, #2ndamendmentvoter, #singleissuevoter, #gunvote

Sticks & Stones

By now you’ve likely heard of the latest American college student fad – the “safe space”. A protected haven from the cruel outside world, it is a place where words that injure or harm cannot be spoken so feelings cannot be hurt.

What the hell has happened to our youth?!?

The epicenter of this sub-societal trend seems to be the students of the University of Missouri. The poster child for which is the now terminated Assistant Communications Professor Melissa Click who was seen assaulting a student journalist and yelling profanities at a police officer. As part of this saga, the University Police Department even encouraged students to report incidents where their feelings were hurt.

 

The most recent example comes from Georgia’s Emory University where 40 students reported feeling “afraid” and “in pain” due to a number of political messages written in chalk around the campus. The messages? Trump 2016.

The following quote seems to capture the essence of the situation there: “I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here]. But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well. … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”

Afraid? Afraid of what??

When I was a child – many, many years ago, my parents taught me a simple saying: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. The lesson is ever so easy. No matter what the words, they cannot harm you.

Fast-forward to our college campuses today. What kind of a country have we become where our college students, the next generation of community, business and political leaders, need to be protected from words? These are supposedly intelligent young men and women who displayed enough intellect to be admitted to an institution of higher learning. What does this say about the colleges and universities themselves? Is setting up “safe spaces” where feelings won’t be hurt actually preparing them for… well, anything in the real world? What are the job prospects for a college graduate who – when they see or hear something that falls outside their narrow belief system – feels ‘hurt’, ‘afraid’ or ‘in pain’, and thinks protesting from a “safe space” is the preferred course of action? And when the HELL did we stop teaching kids about Sticks and Stones?

This nation’s Founding Fathers were so concerned with freedom and individual rights that the first set of Amendments to the United States Constitution is the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment states:

“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.”

Notice it does NOT say – unless someone’s feelings could be hurt. I have no doubt the Founding Fathers understood granting everyone freedom of speech would be problematic. Inevitably, there will be times when views opposite to one’s own will be spoken. No other person is under any obligation to listen or even pay attention to them, but the person speaking does have the absolute right to speak.

This is why I have always felt the First Amendment is simultaneously the most difficult and the most important of rights. I may not like and I could even be disturbed by what someone else has to say. But if I do not defend that person’s right to speak it, who is to say my right to speak won’t be taken away next. Rights are funny that way. If not vigorously defended by everyone, for everyone, they can easily slip away.

An update: A recent report from University of Missouri indicates they are bracing for a 25% decrease in enrollments this year resulting in significant facility and staff layoffs. At the same time all other colleges and universities in Missouri are expecting record increases in applications.

Maybe there’s a chance for a few of our youth after all.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #sticksandstones, #safespace, #1stamendment, #constitution #billofrights

European Terror Bombs = US Gun Bans

Last week we saw another pair of terrorist attacks in Europe, these two at the Brussels airport and a subway station. The weapons of choice were bombs. Almost immediately anti-gun zealots put out a call for expanded gun control in the United States. The logic escapes me.

First off, let’s separate the two non-related issues. A terrorist attack using suicide bombs in Europe vs. United States gun control.

If you’ve seen any of the images from Brussels, you know the carnage of the attacks and the tragic loss of innocent life. Desperate people with no regard for human life willing to blow themselves up along with scores of innocent men, women and children for their ‘cause’ is nothing short of disgusting.

Already airports around the world immediately increased security in hopes of preventing similar attacks. The Belgium airport attacks were in the public, non-secure departure halls, before passengers are screened to go into the secure, gate areas. No attempts were made to go into the secure areas or on to the planes; the departure halls victims were the intended targets.

The debate is now on pushing the secure area of the airport out even further to the main entrances of the buildings or even to the entrances to the airports themselves. Of course, each time the security ring is pushed out further, it creates a human queue at that point, which then becomes the next soft target. Relying on barriers and safe vs. non-safe zones only relocates the threat to the next target. It does nothing to stop it.

As we’ve seen in these attacks and others around the world, lone wolf or small teams of individuals who are willing to martyr themselves in the name of a cause are extremely difficult to stop. It can be done and is being done, but the efforts are the most effective when their own community identifies the threats before they are in play. Once out in public, a suicide bomber can simply detonate themselves to kill and maim innocents if discovered at a security stop. Even if this is not their primary target, they still kill – and more likely than not, our first responders.

So, the connection between European terror bombings and US gun bans? It goes back to the Rahm’s Rule, the product of Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, which says, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Of course there is no connection but the anti-gun proponents want you to believe you will be safer if you and everyone around you gives up your firearms. After all, once all the legally owned firearms are gone, nobody will be able to hurt you.

But wait… What about the criminals who get their guns by illegal means? What about the terrorists, a.k.a. thug criminals with a cause who can get guns by illegal means? What about the guns that come into the country illegally? What about the guns that are made here illegally? And what about the other illegal weapons, the ones that are actually the weapons of choice for terrorists, the bombs that can be made by anyone with common every day items from the local hardware or auto parts store?

Disarming innocent people – people who have done nothing, committed no crimes and never will – in the name of protection from terrorists only turns them into innocent victims of terrorists. These are honest men and women who only want to protect themselves and their families and are in the best position to do so.

Preventing attacks like we’ve witnessed in Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Istanbul, Ürümqi, Tokyo, Oklahoma City, Boston, San Bernardino… is possible, but it takes time and hard work. It’s not just intercepting emails and phone calls, or de-encrypting cell phones. It means identifying those with the intent to kill early and deigning them the ability to do so. It means solving deeper national and international problems and reestablishing a moral compass in all communities that says it’s not okay to commit mass murder over ideological differences. It means leading by example.

The answer is certainly NOT disarming a population of law-abiding citizens leaving them with fewer rights and protections than the terrorists who are trying to kill them.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #terrorism, #2ndamendment, #righttobeararms

 

The Boss vs. The Leader

Sorry Springsteen fans, he isn’t The Boss I’m talking about. This is nonetheless a slight tangent from my usual post topics. A Facebook post I shared this past week brought to light a topic I have been thinking about for a while and I thought this would be a good opportunity to explore it further. Bear with me for a bit and I’ll bring it back around.

The boss is known by many titles: owner, manager, supervisor, crew chief, team lead and so on. Unless you work for yourself, it’s the person you work for. The leader on the other hand is the one who leads or commands others. Is there a distinction? I say there is. While a boss may be a leader, the leader doesn’t necessarily have to be the boss.

Workplace bosses may or may not be person we want to work for. They may just be the person who has been there the longest, had the right connections or was in the right place at the right time to get the job. Managing other workers or operations isn’t always the career path people want. Some get tossed into it with hopes they’ll be able to make it work. Some absolutely excel while others do not. Often times the only choice for unhappy employees is to go elsewhere.

If it sounds like I’m being hard on the boss, I am. It’s an extraordinarily difficult job and not everyone is cut out for it. It’s a lot more than policies, processes, procedures and catch phrases. I’ve always contended that managing mechanical, technical or other ‘things’ is easy, it’s the human part of the job that is difficult. Like many people, I’ve been on both sides of the equation and have seen the good, the bad and the very, very ugly.

Leaders on the other hand tend to be those we make a conscious decision to be with. In employment, we gravitate towards or stay with those we see as leaders with a vision we share. Leaders take the time to understand motivation and how it relates to individual and group success. They are fiercely protective of those they lead and are often more critical of their own abilities than of those around them.

Leadership skills, just like management skills, can be taught, trained, nurtured and grown. However just as wealth, stature, family or association does not equal success; education, training and experience don’t make one successful either. There is that something extra, that personal secret sauce an individual brings with them that determines the outcome.

Leadership is also very situational dependent. The individual contributor in one situation may be the leader in the next. Each of us has times we lead as well as times we follow. And not every situation demands a strong and dynamic leader to be successful. Standing in the produce section of your local market with a dory yelling THIS IS SPARTA!! isn’t going to get you extra discounts at checkout. There is also one of my favorite leadership quotes: “You know what they call a leader with no followers? Just a guy talking a walk.”

So why is this pertinent? This is an election year and a lot is riding on our vote. Our next President will shape national and foreign policy as well as determine the balance of the Supreme Court for at least the next generation to come. The results could very well gut the protections we now enjoy under the Bill of Rights. Elements of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments could be dramatically reinterpreted or revoked in totality in the name of progress towards a self-serving political agenda.

Our votes will decide who sits in the President’s chair as well as many other critical matters on Election Day. We can choose the leader we want to follow, or the boss we have no choice but to follow.

Bob

#oddstuffing, #thebossvstheleader, #leadership, #2016elections, #billofrights, #bornintheusa