The Fourth of July is almost upon us, and there are safety concerns.
There are rumblings from ISIS that they are trying to instigate their minions and the mindless “lone wolves” they influence to do bad things to Americans on Independence Day. Ratchet your alertness level up one notch at least, and be ready to protect yourself, and yours, and those around you.
In commentary on another blog entry here, one of our readers asked about safety tips on fireworks. If it’s being professionally done in your community, my advice is to stand well back away from the damn launchers. A rearward perspective will probably give you a better set of “oohs” and “aahs” when they burst in the sky anyway. But it will also keep you and your kids more out of range of anything that could go wrong. The worst such debacle I know of occurred when a Chinese sky torpedo, which proved to have been defective, exploded in its launch tube in Michigan. Death and dismemberment resulted.
Be really, REALLY careful about fireworks at home. I’ve trained multiple one-armed people in self-defense shooting, who needed that special attention because in their younger days they were careless with home-made fireworks and assorted other incendiary/explosive devices. We can all learn from their suffering.
With all that said, I’ll be making noise on the Fourth one way or the other. I’m in the process of writing a pre-trial report in a murder case, where I’ll be speaking as an expert witness called by the defense for a young woman who saved her life with a gun when a man attacked her with deadly force. That, obviously, takes precedence over fun. If the report is done as soon as I hope it will be, this weekend I’ll be shooting an IDPA match with good friends. If it isn’t, I’ll take some time off to get out on my own home range and do some trigger pulling, to commemorate the armed citizens of 18th Century America who preserved my right to do so.
For many years now, I’ve been in my beloved home country to celebrate the Fourth. In my younger days, with kids to support, I couldn’t teach classes on holidays so July 4 usually found me in another nation earning money for my wife and children. Most often – before their handgun ban of 1996, which must have made the longbowmen of Agincourt spin in their graves – that was in one or another part of Great Britain. When I spent the Fourth in the British Empire, I would flush a teabag down a toilet in commemoration of the Boston Tea Party…and my British brothers and sisters understood.
The recent atrocity in Paris reminds us all of the continuing danger from homicidal fanatics. The cowardly murderers ran rampant, unopposed; according to some reports, one or both of the police officers killed in the massacre were unarmed and helpless to fight back.
President Obama is taking a lot of heat for not flying to Paris to join a reported 40 other heads of state in a show of solidarity. This is one thing I won’t criticize the man for. If I were head of Secret Service I would have stood in the Oval Office and screamed at him, “It’s nucking futs! Can you imagine a more irresistible target for Islamic terrorists than forty-one of you, including the head of the Great Satan itself?!?” I’m frankly amazed that there wasn’t an attack on the gathering, though I’m glad there wasn’t…and if the free world’s security services are smart, they won’t tell us if there was such a conspiracy and they were able to successfully abort it behind the scenes.
The prohibitionists and anti-self-defense groups will scoff at the idea that one or more people with handguns among the crop of victims might have thwarted two men who wielded AK47s. They don’t want to hear about Charl van Wyk, who stopped twice that many in a South African attack, armed only with his five-shot snub-nose .38 revolver. You can read about his case and more – and about dozens of helpless victims murdered when there wasn’t “a good guy (or gal) with a gun” to stand up for them – in the current issue of American Handgunner magazine: http://americanhandgunner.com/the-false-hope-of-gun-free-zones/ .
The authorities expect more such attacks throughout the free world and, yes, here. My advice is load, holster, and be ready.
It’s not about the odds…it’s about the stakes.
That’s enough about what I think. I want to hear what YOU think about this.
December 7, 1941, the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt correctly predicted would live in infamy. What followed reshaped the world, and very much shaped my generation, the boomers, because our parents and our culture had been so marked by World War II.
The lessons remain, even on the level of individual daily life.
Be prepared for crisis. If it doesn’t happen, fine. If it does, you won’t have to start behind the curve when you have to deal with it, as a largely unprepared United States had to in the early part of that war.
Don’t ignore a blip on the radar screen. Awareness and preparedness are two sides of the same coin. Preparedness isn’t enough if your guard is down and you’re totally blindsided; if you see danger coming but don’t have the wherewithal to stop in, you just get to watch in horror for a little longer as you are destroyed.
True then, true now. True in macrocosm and true in microcosm.
On this day of giving thanks, I hope you’re all with friends and family and, if you’re caught in the Northeast storm, I hope you get through it OK.
And if you’re in Ferguson, Missouri, well, condolences. I hope you get through that storm, too. If you’re NOT in Ferguson, you have one more thing to be thankful for.
For me, I’m thankful that I only have to watch CNN, currently the “all Ferguson, all the time” network, when I want to. Not until last night did they even mention the murder of the young black man who may have witnessed the Michael Brown shooting and given honest testimony that favored Officer Wilson. However, CNN didn’t make that connection. Conservative Treehouse did, a day or two before. Thanks, Treepers! . Indeed, some of the most incisive commentary on this whole case can be found at the Treepers’ main website This element of the case needs more investigation…
A lesson: mad dogs bite anyone, including their own. Among the casualties are the burned-down African-American church that Michael Brown’s biological dad attended. And the bakery of the nice black lady who, throughout the whole mess, had been providing free food for protesters. The difference between mad dogs and rioters is that no one blames you if you shoot rabid dogs.
Meanwhile, a couple of New York Times reporters have published the new address of Officer Wilson and his new wife. If that home is burned down, I think those reporters and their paper will bear significant responsibility. (Someone on the conservative side has, in turned, put the addresses of the two reporters on the Internet. Please, folks, encourage everyone to leave that alone: don’t let them turn “us” into “them.”) It would seem that some elements of the lynch mob have already put a price on Darren Wilson’s head.
Thanks to all the emergency service personnel who are sacrificing their holiday with their families for the safety of the good citizens of Ferguson and other locales that have caught the sparks of civil disturbance.
“No good ever came of mass emotion. The audience that’s easily moved to tears is as easily moved to sadistic dementia.” — P.J. O’Rourke
We’d have to be hermits not to know what happened in Ferguson, Missouri when the no-bill from the grand jury came in on Officer Darren Wilson on the 24th. It was what many had predicted. And, as also predicted, the embers from that conflagration flew a good distance, and sparked protests elsewhere, though none yet so violent as at Ground Zero.
This week I attended a large law enforcement training function where a police chief said, “It would be hard to imagine how this could have been handled worse in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.” What he was talking about was law enforcement’s failure to make certain things clear to the public about what the preliminary investigation was already revealing.
Back in 1972, when they first pinned a badge on me, I was told that we were the keepers of the secrets of the community. We owed the suspect/defendant and the victim alike their rights to privacy. We learned to say, “No comment” to reporters. “It will all come out in court.”
What I realized early on and have preached to brother and sister cops in the decades since is that this doesn’t work when the cops themselves become the accused. An accusation of wrongdoing that goes unanswered is seen as a silent plea of nolo contendere, which translates roughly from the Latin as “we do not contest the charge against us.” The general public doesn’t see much difference between that and a plea of Guilty…and “pleading nolo” generally results in a penalty remarkably similar to what would accompany an actual Guilty verdict.
On the evening of the 25th, on CNN, I watched Anderson Cooper speak as an impartial voice of reason alongside Mark O’Mara, who has performed much the same function for that network since he became a resident specialist there on legal issues. The clarity with which Missouri prosecutor Robert McCullogh explained the evidence the grand jury reviewed leading to their decision was ignored by those who came to Ferguson to act out – they started running toward their long-planned violent goal before they could have possibly heard it. Their minds were made up, and they didn’t want to be distracted by facts. But the reporters had to listen – cramming sleeplessly on the long transcript of what the grand jury had heard, or at least, what their research assistants gave them in digest form – and could no longer ignore the reality.
A four-way dialogue included O’Mara, Cooper, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Sunny Hostin. Toobin, apparently, had been convinced by the conjunction of the fact evidence and the eyewitness testimony of several African-American eyewitnesses with the account of the officer who pulled the trigger, and who spoke publicly last night for the first time on ABC. Only Sunny Hostin, who had been one of the leaders of the CNN “lynch the defendant” mob in both the Zimmerman trial last year and the Wilson hearing this year, disputed the facts that had come into evidence. The other three seemed incredulous, and she looked almost embarrassed to find herself still defending the now-discredited narrative of helpless child gunned down by racist cop. “He was unarmed,” she all but screamed, and seemed oblivious when O’Mara explained that when Brown was killed, he was lunging for the cop’s gun for the second time.