Now gratefully back in warm weather after freezing my butt off in flooded Chicagoland for a week, I think it’s a good time to reflect on lessons learned from five horrifying days in Boston. I spent that week at the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. It was there, as I mentioned in my last entry, that applause spontaneously broke out when it was announced that the useless Universal Background Check had failed in the Senate. ILEETA’s 700-plus attendees train cops for the streets, instead of sitting in white shirts behind mahogany desks, and they know the reality. Maybe that’s why NRA always has a strong presence at the vendor booths during the police equipment expo there, and why the anti-gunners don’t bother showing up.
We sadly witnessed the spectacle of a major city turned into a ghost town, its citizens literally in lockdown and hiding in their homes from a single heavily-armed teenage terrorist. You may be sure that most who owned firearms had them loaded: the fugitive, and the brother he apparently killed by accident, had already kidnapped one citizen at the point of illegally possessed firearms. Despite a massive police presence, it was a private citizen who found the quarry; thank God the suspect was debilitated by wounds sustained in his shootout with brave Watertown Police officers and was in no condition to attempt to murder him. One wonders if that good citizen would have felt better at that moment if he’d had a familiar pistol at his hip when he pulled back the tarp on his bloodstained boat, and realized what he was facing.
We have much more to learn about this incident and how many more of these terrorists are inside our borders. Among the many lessons that will sooner or later become plain, one is certain to be this: in a nation of well over 300 million citizens policed by far less than a million cops, more people than ever will recognize the importance of the armed citizen that our nation’s founders so wisely memorialized in the Second Amendment.
It always sucks when good friends die. It sucks worse when they are people who’ve devoted their lives to the good of others.
Word reached me this week that Brian Stover had just died, claimed a few months before his 60th birthday by cancer he had valiantly fought. Brian was a sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, with decades of intense street experience behind him that had made him one of the best police instructors in the country. He had served for a decade as a member of the advisory board of ILEETA, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. Before that, Brian was for many years vice-chair of the firearms committee for ASLET, the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, and I do not exaggerate when I say that he did more work there than any two or three of the rest of us on that committee. The last time someone tried to shoot him and his deputies, Brian shot the offender with his department issue Beretta. Alas, a Beretta doesn’t work against cancer.
Shortly before Brian’s passing, Dr. Joe Davis passed away in Tallahassee. Joe was one of the all-time great forensic pathologists. Though some say the title character in the TV show “Quincy” was modeled on Los Angeles coroner Thomas Noguchi, others said Joe Davis was the template for that ultimate medical examiner. Joe led the Metro-Dade (now Miami-Dade) Medical Examiner’s Office to greatness, and made it sort of the Harvard grad school from which many other great MEs emerged from his mentorship. I first met him in the 1970s at a Second Amendment Foundation meeting: Joe was always a stalwart defender of the rights of armed citizens. His work had taught him that armed victims survived, and unarmed victims came to his stainless steel tables. When I was teaching at the Metro-Dade Police Academy a short time after the horrendous 1986 shootout that left two FBI agents dead and several more wounded, Joe was kind enough to drop by and give the officers in my class a complete briefing.
Some days before Joe’s passing, we lost Kevin Steele. Still working in law enforcement in his late sixties, despite fighting cancer, Kevin was best known as an authority on knife-fighting, but his expertise ranged across the martial arts and into guns as well. He was devoted to keeping the good guys and gals alive.
Their dedication, and their ability to face reality, made all three of these fine men advocates for the rights of private citizens to protect themselves with firearms. Each of them left powerful legacies for all of us who carry on in the justice system. May all those who follow be as inspiring as they were.
The difference is, the Easter Bunny doesn’t defecate all over your rights.
It ain’t a “those damn liberals” thing. Many true liberals have realized that the right to protect self and family is one that should be spread to all socio-economic levels of society, and not restricted to the wealthy and influential. Liberal law professor Don Kates and former Amnesty International leader Mark Benenson come to mind. So does the late Charlton Heston, whom too many forget marched with Martin Luther King.
But, hey, it’s a holiday weekend and time to lighten up. Whether you’re a devout Christian or a secular humanist about to enjoy a traditional time for American families and friends to gather, or anywhere in between, I wish you a Happy Easter.
If the name Keith Jones rings a bell with you, you’ve probably traveled in circles that involved officer survival training or armed citizen training. A Vietnam veteran who saw heavy hand to hand combat, Keith came back to the USA to become a police officer in a major city for some four decades. During that time, he won half a dozen gunfights himself and studied many more. The lessons he imparts have kept a lot of good people alive.
If you haven’t listened to one of his lectures, you can catch him on the Pro-Arms Podcast at no charge, here.
Keith’s lovely wife Kathy was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer of the pancreas. Friends are working to help. Ashley Gibbons at Sand Burr Gun Ranch is kicking off with an auction for one of my 40-hour Massad Ayoob Group classes. Or, simply send a donation to the fund listed at the end. Ashley explains it below:
What: MAG 40 with Massad Ayoob
Where: Sand Burr Gun Ranch Rochester, IN
When: June 20-23, 2013
MAG and SBGR are offering for auction to the highest bidder the tuition for one MAG 40 student.
100% of the proceeds go to Kathryn Jones, wife of Keith Jones to aid in medical expenses as Kathy fights pancreatic cancer.
How the auction works:
Bids for the auction will be accepted by calling Sand Burr Gun Ranch at 574-223-3316.
The winning bidder will be contacted at the end of auction by Sand Burr.
Winning bidder must meet the same requirements as all MAG students.
Auction starts March 22 @ 10 am EST auction ends May 1@noon
Opening Bid $500.00
Sand Burr Gun Ranch will post current top bid amounts on their Facebook page.
Sorry to have been away from the blog so long, but from the afternoon of Sunday, February 3 to the early morning hours of Saturday, February 9, I was involved in the premeditated murder trial of an armed citizen who killed a man who violently attacked him. On Friday, the jury came in with a complete acquittal. At least one happy ending for an otherwise ugly week.
On the larger front, news was much grimmer. We learned that the madman who murdered Navy SEAL hero Chris Kyle and another man, both of whom were trying to help the slayer cope with PTSD, had been set loose on society after threatening murder and suicide last September. In the rush to symbolically pillory gun owners, media and legislators largely ignore the real problem: homicidal maniacs who need to be institutionalized, and aren’t.
At this writing, Christopher Dorner remains at large. This extremely dangerous fugitive, who claims to be very heavily armed, is a fascinating study of good, evil, and madness. His Facebook artifacts show he had a lot of ego investment in being a member of two forces of good, the United States Navy and the Los Angeles Police Department. Feeling wronged when he failed at both, he embarked on a murder spree that is the very antithesis of the heroes he identified with. Once a designated, uniformed protector of the innocent, he now murdered two helpless people: the daughter of a cop he didn’t think had done enough for him, and her fiancé. Nothing less than absolute evil. He then opened fire on police officers from cowardly ambush, murdering one, and fled when they returned fire. Dorner’s actions set the stage for a tragic mistaken identity shooting subsequently by police.
Dorner sent a “manifesto” to CNN, damning the private ownership of AR15 rifles, “high capacity” magazines and the like, and praising Piers Morgan and the White House for their anti-gun efforts, while committing murder with the same type of weapons. He apparently feels his hurt feelings justify the murder of those who’ve done him no harm, and that of course is madness, as seen through the prism of common sense if not through that of the M’Naghten precedent.
But then, the same hypocrisy – take things away from law-abiding citizens, because monsters use them to murder those self-same law-abiding citizens – is shared by supposedly sane people in positions of power. I’m told that some of the media have soft-pedaled the spree-killer’s praise for the anti-gunners, but you can read the whole manifesto HERE.
Dorner’s murderous spree is unlikely to end well. I see a possibility, though, that he’ll turn himself in to one of his heroes, perhaps Piers Morgan; there’s enough narcissism in his “manifesto” that he might want to live to praise himself longer and more publicly, like the recent mass-murderer in Norway, instead of dying in a sick “blaze of glory.” Time will tell.