Thanksgiving Dinner Discussion

For this year’s Thanksgiving wishes, the White House asked Americans around the country to talk about national security over dinner. Following the former chief of staff & current Chicago mayor’s strategy of “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”, the White House chose to push this latest chapter of gun control agenda on this national holiday.

The events that precipitated this were of course the horrific attacks on the citizens of Paris. Never mind that the fully automatic firearms and explosives used in the attacks were illegal in France anyway, or that private ownership and defensive use of firearms in France is almost unheard of. Those events, and the national call for caution in accepting refugees from the war torn Middle Eastern region can only mean one thing – pushing for more ways to restrict legal firearm ownership in the United States.

At issue, the use of the ultra-secretive terror watch list to be used as a means to deny purchasing a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee. How could any ‘reasonable’ person object to linking a terrorist watch list into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)? Could it be the Congress and the NRA want to allow gun sales to terrorists?!?

Once we stop laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion, we find the heart of the issue is the watchlisting process. Intended to be a mechanism to assist the national intelligence and security services, the list includes known or suspected terrorists. So what’s the problem? Perhaps it’s the fact that any US citizen or foreign national as well as their family and associates, can be included on the list for suspicion of terrorist acts, activity, or association with someone who is on the list – through no fault of their own, based on the loose standard of ‘reasonable suspicion’. If you have a little extra time and want to read about the program, Google “Watchlisting Guidance”.

The end result is any one of us could find ourselves on the Watchlist for a variety of suspicious, non-terrorist related activities on this nebulous list without ever knowing it. All of this occurs without judicial oversight or the ability of the named individual to mount any form of defense.

Should an individual discover they are on the Watchlist, most likely from being denied boarding an aircraft as a result of being on the subset No-Fly List; they can file a complaint through Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. Of course, they will never be told of a change in their status or the reasons why they were placed on the Watchlist.
The United States is a “a nation of laws, not a nation of men.” If we allow our Constitutional protected Second Amendment rights to be stripped away without due process in the name of national security, what is next; freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, or our freedom altogether? Where does it end?

So while we were discussing this latest attempt to expand the list of restrictions to lawful activity, here’s a few items we didn’t get a chance to talk about:

Homeless Veterans
Veterans unable to get medical care from the Department of Veteran Affairs
Accountability for the American citizens killed in Benghazi
Lack of prosecution of existing Federal firearms statutes
Border security & immigration policy

Maybe we’ll get to these topics over Christmas dinner.


#oddstuffing ‪#‎thanksgivingdinnerconversation‬, ‪#‎watchlistingguideance‬, ‪#‎2ndamendment‬, ‪#‎freedom‬

Eating an Elephant

By now you’ve heard California’s Lt. Governor has kicked off his 2018 gubernatorial campaign by proposing a new set of gun control measures. His proposal is inappropriately called the Safety for All Act of 2016.

There are two things to look at here, the political rational and initiative itself.

Unfortunately for California, this is more of a sly political move than anything. Every bit of opposition, criticism of the proposal or the Lt. Governor himself, brings his name into the press and public arena a little bit more. In other words, massive free campaign advertising. The timing is also important. By putting this on the 2016 ballot during a Presidential election where the presumptive Democratic Party Presidential candidate is a woman (sorry Bernie fans), far more of the Democratic base will be energized and going to the poles.

Even worse for California, the proposal does nothing to enhance the public’s safety. It only creates additional barriers and costs for legal firearms owners, as well as creating criminals from current legal activity.

There are a number of sections in the proposal. So I don’t rant forever, I’ll just focus on one: ammunition.

Anyone wanting to purchase ammunition will be required to obtain a State issued ID card, which will include a background check, for $50 for two years. While $50 may not sound like a large sum, this requirement will disproportionally impact lower income individuals.
Ammunition sellers would need to be State licensed. Employees would need to have State Certificate of Eligibility certificates and all ammunition would need to be behind the counter. Every purchase must be face-to-face – no out of state or Internet orders. All purchases would be recorded and point-of-sale background checks run. All of these serve no purpose other than adding costs and barriers for legal consumers.

Think this proposal is the end? Not so fast. Here are a couple of items this new system would enable. Keep in mind these are not things I dreamed up, these have come up already.

Consumers would only be able purchase ammunition in calibers in which they have firearms registered with the state. Never mind the fact you can legally change calibers, manufacture your own firearms or legally own firearms that are not registered with the State. Consumers would only be able to purchase ‘X’ number of rounds at any given time. Consumers would only be able purchase the type, brand and characteristics of ammunition approved by the State.
So why is ammunition the new front for Gun Control? Part of the rational comes from their interpretation of the Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In essence, the logic is: “It doesn’t say a single thing about the right to own bullets.” The idea that the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights would have differentiated between arms and ammunition is of course ludicrous. But to date the lower courts have been very forgiving of ammunition restriction laws, either not acknowledging a Second Amendment right or allowing what they call ‘slight’ infringements. Without a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court, this logic may be used as part of a wider gun control scheme.

So where do these types of proposals come from? One of the major forces behind this ballot initiative is the San Francisco based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. If you’d like to see their target list, take a look at Search Gun Laws by Policy page at Then take a look at the proposals in your own community and you’ll likely find much of it tied back to this group’s recommendations.

Why is opposition to this ballot initiative and other proposals important? The likelihood of an Australian-style forced gun forfeiture being successfully implemented in the United States is highly unlikely. What is more possible, and is the current strategy, is to take small, incremental, “common sense and reasonable” bites out of the Second Amendment until there is nothing left. It goes back to the old saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.


#oddstuffing #eatinganelephant #2ndamendment

No Victim Zone

Once again we have witnessed despicable acts of savagery against innocent men and women. In the Paris attacks alone (this was not the only attack over the weekend) the latest count indicate 129 killed and 352 injured. Why? Because a group of extremists chose to make their ideological statements with bullets and bombs. And while we are shocked, we should not be surprised. The only thing worse than the horrific acts of violence we have seen in the last three days will be what some demented mind will think up next.

Unfortunately, they succeeded here. Above and beyond the killed and injured, they terrorized the population of a major city, shut down the entire nation of France and sent shock waves around the world.

I’m going to make the bold statement that this does not have to be the way things are. We do not have to bear witness to the next set of attacks. We do not have to be victims. All it takes is one person or one small group to stop this.

If you’re thinking, there’s no way a person or small group, unarmed or even lightly armed, can make a difference in the face of these heavily armed, desperate men, this is my response. Bullshit!

Here are a few recent reminders: Three unarmed servicemen stopped an armed attack on a Paris bound train. A lone man stands up to an armed shooter in an Oregon community college. A nursing mother shoots and stops an attack by multiple armed home invaders in North Carolina.

What do these events, and many, many more have in common? Everyday people who decided to stand up and say NO! NOT me, NOT my family, NOT here, NOT now.

The state, be it national, state, county or municipality, is never going to be able to assure your safety. That job is yours and yours alone. And while you should have some kind of force multiplier available to you at all times, you always possess the one weapon you need to stop an attack. Your attitude.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a hate filled extremist looking to terrorize the world or the local meth addict looking to score his next high. It will only be stopped when enough people stand up and take direct, decisive action. It only stops when we decide to say NO! NOT me, NOT my family, NOT here, NOT now. Now is the time to declare yourself a No Victim Zone.


#oddstuffing #novictimzone #2ndamendment


A popular political promise these days is the notion – We’re going to hold the gun manufacturers accountable for gun deaths.
What exactly are we making them accountable for? Accountable for making a safe and legal product or accountable for everyone’s use of the product, lawful or unlawful, at some point in the future?

Okay, so let’s say this actually happens. It would require repealing Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and would be an unprecedented move by the US Government. It would also open Pandora’s box of lawsuits against any maker of any product ever used to harm anther person. But for now, let’s go with it.

First, we need to determine who can sue a firearms manufacturer. Obviously anyone injured or killed by someone committing a crime, that’s the core audience behind this push. But what about the criminal who is shot during a home invasion? Certainly that criminal has legal standing. What if a law enforcement officer shoots the criminal? Does the criminal’s legal standing change if an agent of the government is involved? And what if the officer’s actions are later determined to be unlawful? Should the person shot have the right to sue the manufacturer then? Naturally, our nation’s military use of firearms has got to be added in here too.

So refining the logic down a bit, if a shooting is “good” or justified, then you would assume there would be no legal liability for the manufacturer. If the shooting is “bad” or unjustified/illegal, then that would seem to invoke the civil liability. Bad = lawsuit, good = no lawsuit. That doesn’t seem quite balanced. We’re going to punish them for the bad but not reward them for the good.

As a matter of fairness to the manufacturers, maybe we should do a quick tally at the end of the year and put all the “good” firearm uses in one column and all of the “bad” uses in the other. But what about those cases where a firearm is used, but not fired? Certainly those should be counted. Maybe we’ll give a half point for each of those.

And then, how do we count the deterrent effect a firearm may have? Would our law enforcement officers be as effective if unarmed? Would any our current elected officials or political candidates be willing to visit <insert name of your favorite big city> with unarmed Secret Service, police or other security? And how do we count a criminal’s hesitation to attack, rob, rape or just plain kill someone because that person might be armed and able to stop them instead.

As foolish as all of this sounds, it’s equally foolish to hold a manufacturer liable for an individuals choice in how to use their product.

If a product – any product – is considered safe when used legally, then why would it be considered unsafe when used illegally?


#oddstuffing #accountable #2ndamendment


A couple of recent events got me thinking about the impact of volunteers in our community. Looking at the activities and organizations I myself am involved in, I saw more and more volunteers making a difference. It made me dig a little deeper.

Nationally, about 25% of the population performs some type of volunteer activity. That’s about 62.8 million people and an estimated $173 billion worth of service contributed. Chances are, some part of your life has or is being influenced by volunteers.

Volunteers are all around us. They are your family, friends and neighbors. They work in political, religious and community organizations as well as private, public and government organizations, non-profit and for-profit corporations, as well as by themselves.

The work they do ranging from teaching, coaching, driving, organizing, cooking, cleaning, building and writing code. Some provide expertise in their field to private companies or to individuals in need. They run private intuitions and clubs. They fight fires, protect our citizens and provide medical aid to those in need. They work tirelessly along side those who are paid for the same services. Many of these volunteers pay for their own training, certifications, equipment and uniforms as well as providing their own time and service. They come together for single events such as natural disasters or cleaning trash from beaches to the long term programs to care for those in need or fighting for constitutional / civil rights.

Their backgrounds are as varied as the jobs they do and represent every facet of life in our nation. Some volunteer to give back to the community, others as a means to learn a new trade. They give to provide services that would not be available otherwise, to share their knowledge and experience with others and to spend times with the ones they love. They do it to help others as well as help themselves.

In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville published his observations of Democracy in America recognizing the distinctiveness of our voluntary tradition. Since then, we have been known as a nation of joiners. And what a huge impact these volunteers make.

National Volunteer Week was in April this year, but I’m taking today to thank those who have raised their hand and volunteered.


#oddstuffing #volunteers

Is it Really Common Sense?

I’m hearing a lot of folks spouting common sense ideas these days. What exactly is this common sense they speak of?

Wikipedia’s definition: Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by (“common to”) nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.

An acquaintance of mine’s favorite saying was ‘you can’t teach common sense’. This always struck me as odd since if you can’t teach it, how did you learn it in the first place? Humans don’t start out with a whole lot of talent above the basic instinct level. Somewhere along the line you learned something and can apply it to your daily life.

What I’ve found is common sense on any given topic is very specific to your personal history. Example: If you grew up in a cold weather climate, it’s common sense to not let your gas tank get below ¼ in the winter. If you grew up in a warm weather climate and moved north, you probably learned this one your first winter when your gas line froze.

What common sense is not – A simple solution to complex geopolitical, socioeconomic or psychological problems that have plagued mankind since day one. Example: There’s a crime problem in large inner cities. A ‘common sense solution’, create more laws to address the crime. Great! You now have more laws to arrest criminals. But if the criminals are already breaking the law – criminals break laws, that’s how they became criminals in the first place, why would they care about one more law to break?

So why do you hear ‘common sense’ attached to all sorts of change, reform, update or solution? It’s usually a means to convince you that everyone else thinks this way and if you want to be considered someone of normal intelligence and knowledge – like they are, you should be thinking this way too.

If you have to be convinced into believing something is a common sense solution, it probably isn’t either common sense or a solution. It’s more likely part of an agenda they want you to support because it benefits them, not you. Buy into their way of thinking on this topic and the rest just comes easy. If they were right on this one, they must be right about the next one too.

So as we plow deeper into the season of political speeches, posts, posturing and solutions to all your problems with just one vote, think twice about anything being promoted as a common sense proposal. After all, isn’t that just common sense??


#commonsense #badpolitics #oddstuff