What Should Happen When You Violate the Public Trust

It doesn’t always happen but this time it did.

Ex-state Sen. Leland Yee gets 5 years in prison in corruption case
Former California state Sen. Leland Yee has been sentenced to five years in prison after being slapped with a variety of shocking charges including gunrunning and money laundering. In the state legislature, Yee was a staunch gun-control advocate who actively campaigned against “assault weapons” before the FBI connected him to a massive arms trafficking operation.

Ginny Simone revisits his case and her original report that spotlighted the depth and brazenness of Yee’s hypocrisy.

Former state Sen. Leland Yee, who once aspired to statewide political office, will spend five years in federal prison for trading his political juice for money.
In a courtroom packed with family, observers and media, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Wednesday imposed the sentence on the defrocked Bay Area politician, rejecting Yee’s bid for leniency and calling his sale of votes for money a “violation of the public trust.”

It’s Just Business

There’s no such thing as a “gun free zone.” As I’ve said before, they are only gun free until they’re not anymore…and that is usually because someone with murderous intent decided to walk right past that sign and start killing. At that point, the only thing gun free is the innocent victims with no means to fight back.

Ha ha! Take that, murderers!

So why would any business owner or manager turn their business into one of these so-called gun free zones? They always say it is to promote a safe workplace, but that isn’t it at all…especially since all but one or two mass shootings in the past 50 years have occurred in gun free zones.
Why would they do it? I’ll tell you.

They do it because they know that if a killer comes into your company cafeteria during lunch and kills 15 employees before committing suicide, that the company and its leadership will suffer little…if any…legal or social fallout. As far as legal liability, lawsuits against the owners of the property where such an incident occurred are rare. Successful lawsuits of this type are rarer still. So a company risks little legal liability by banning guns.

They also understand that as far as public perception of the company goes, there is also little risk to banning firearms. In fact, in the wake of a mass killing on company property, company leadership will probably be seen as sympathetic figures. They may give a solemn statement to the press about how sad they are over the deaths of their employees, and the world will feel sorry for them.

The only one at risk here is you.

Conversely, a company which chooses to allow its employees to carry firearms in accordance with the law runs a much greater risk. Imagine the same lunchroom massacre scenario, except this time an armed employee shoots back. The attacker claims one victim, but then an armed employee draws his legal concealed carry pistol and fires two shots in response. One shot kills the attacker, but one shot misses and accidentally kills a co-worker. Here we have only two dead employees, versus the 15 dead in the gun free zone, but now the company and its leadership are in big trouble. There will possibly be a lawsuit over the accidental killing of one employee by another, and it will be charged that the company is responsible for this death by allowing guns in the workplace. It will never be suggested that the actual cause of the death of the second employee was actually the armed intruder, who created the need for an armed response in the first place.

The company and its leadership will also probably not enjoy the sympathy of the public, but instead will most likely be trashed in the press and in social media as irresponsible and complicit in the death of the employee. It is quite possible that the head of the organization may be run out of his position by the negative attention.

So here we have two scenarios…one with 15 dead employees, and another with two dead…and the version with the highest body count actually works out better for the company. You see, business is all about the bottom line, and the bottom line here is that a business and its leaders actually risk less by keeping its employees defenseless. Never mind the risk to individual employees, denied the right to defend themselves. More employees may die in the company’s “gun free zone,” but the cold calculus of risk assessment says that even with a higher body count, the company fares better as an organization. Understand that although they may tell you they ban guns for your safety, they are lying. The truth is that they have simply concluded that it would be better to suffer multiple shooting victims than to risk lawsuits and bad press.
It’s just business…and that business is more important to them than your life.

Yeah, if you’d just go ahead and leave your gun at home, that’d be great.

“That’d be great.”

Do You Feel Lucky?

Well, do you?

Because according to Monica Moll, Public Safety Director at Ohio State University, “we’re very fortunate that an OSU officer was there and took quick action.” She was speaking of today’s attack at OSU by a terrorist who used a car and a knife to brutalize unarmed college students, sending eleven to the hospital, one with critical injuries.

“Fortunate.” A synonym for fortunate is “lucky,” and Moll is right…it was lucky that an OSU police officer was on the scene of the attack almost immediately, and was able to shoot and kill the attacker within a minute or two.
But there’s such a thing as bad luck, too. What if an armed officer had not been close by? What if the terrorist had four, or five, or ten minutes to hack at defenseless students with a knife before someone could be summoned to bring a gun to the scene and shoot him? Because the truth is that there will NOT always be an armed officer nearby; more often it will in fact take several minutes for one to arrive at the scene of a violent attack.

Ohio State University, like many college campuses across the country, is what is commonly (and falsely) referred to as a “gun free zone.” In fact, Ohio law prohibits the carrying of firearms into college buildings, and OSU policy bans them anywhere on the property, even in vehicles. And all such laws and policies do is ensure that the law abiding are disarmed and disadvantaged when faced with an attacker such as the one at OSU today.

In fact, today’s “fortunate” outcome should be viewed as testament to the fact that “gun free zones” are the only places where such attacks have any hope of succeeding, and that one good person with a gun can end such an attack quickly and decisively. But we cannot depend on good fortune to put a police officer in the right place, at the right time, every time. By ending “gun free zones” and allowing good people the arms to defend themselves, we can certainly improve our odds.

Luck is not a plan. Prayers for Ohio State.

March Madness

It’s that time of year again. A time when the best in the game square off and test their skills, and if they aren’t good enough…they get eliminated.

There you have my thinly veiled metaphor comparing our annual college basketball tournament to gunfighting skill…but it’s a valid one. Shooting a basketball and shooting a gun are both physical skills, and physical skills erode without regular practice.

But it’s not just about shooting, is it? After all, if all a basketball player did was stand and shoot set shots from the free throw line, what chance would you give him in the next big game? (And what if he only shot those free throws a couple of times a year?) In actuality, even if someone were 100% from the free throw line, but that was all they were any good at, you probably wouldn’t even consider them a complete basketball player. In order to be considered a basketball player, they’d need some ball handling skills, right? They’d need to be able to dribble and move with the ball, and do it without thinking about it.

And you’d have to be able to shoot from different distances and angles than just from the free throw line, too. Layups, hook shots, and even some 3-point shots all need to be practiced…and with either hand…to be considered a complete player. And in addition to competence in the physical skills, you’d need to develop some sense of game strategy and tactics; where to move, when to move, and then when and where to take the shot you’re capable of making.

So it is with the defensive pistol. Standing in a lane at your local square range and shooting a paper target at 7 yards is much like shooting free throws. It’s an important skill to have, but if that’s all you can do, you’re probably not ready to play in the big game. And at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, our game is to the death.

So what to do? My suggestion is to get your own March Madness on. In much of the country, this is the time of year when local gun clubs start spinning up their competitive schedule, and as you may already know, I am a big fan of competition for honing pistol skills. Don’t be intimidated to try it. There are all sorts of pistol games out there, for just about any skill level.

One type of match I recommend to get started in the competitive arena is a steel plate match. While some matches, like official Steel Challenge matches, may include drawing from the holster or a little bit of movement, most are much simpler. At a typical club level steel match, you’ll likely be allowed to shoot “off the table,” which is essentially from the low ready position. No holster required, and spare magazines, speed loaders, or moon clips can simply be laid out on the table in front of you. When the timer starts, you will shoot a certain sequence of steel targets for time. There may be a certain order in which you have to engage the targets, and maybe a mandatory reload, but that’s all there is to it.

And although it is relatively simple, the practice you get from shooting a steel match is a lot better than going to a square range and shooting “free throws.” You’ll fire multiple shots, at multiple targets, at different distances, and maybe even do some speed reloads…even on just one course of fire. These matches don’t require a lot of specialized equipment or a ton of ammo, and entry fees are usually a bargain.

The next level would be one of the “action” pistol sports, like USPSA or IDPA. These types of matches do usually require some equipment such as a proper holster and ammo pouches, but they don’t have to be fancy. While you certainly can get into a lot of specialized equipment, it isn’t necessary to get started.

In these matches, shooters will move through a variety of “stages,” or courses of fire which can be laid out in just about any way you can imagine. There will be multiple targets, sometimes moving targets, and some targets which may be partially obscured. You’ll shoot from all sorts of stationary positions, and sometimes on the move, firing multiple shots and reloading as you go. This is great practice for a variety of skills which can be critical in a defensive encounter…no “free throws” here!

Critics will often point out that these pistol games are just that…games…and that they don’t teach proper tactics. That is fair, but I don’t believe it is a problem, as long as you understand what you are getting from the game, and what you are not getting. While pistol competition may not be “tactical,” what it does give you is the opportunity to practice skills that you usually cannot practice on most public ranges. Skills like the draw stroke, multiple shots, multiple target transitions, reloads, moving safely with a gun in your hand, and even the occasional malfunction drill can all be worked in a pistol competition.
And in my opinion, the most important thing that this sort of practice develops is that it makes the mechanical operation of the gun itself automatic. When you can manipulate the hardware without conscious thought, it frees up your mind to solve the problem at hand, whether it is how to negotiate a USPSA pistol stage, or how to defend yourself.

So why not move past just shooting “free throws,” and get into some March Madness this year. Your pistol skills will improve, and you’ll have fun in the process.

Trojan Horse

The story of the Trojan Horse is one of deceit, wrapped up like a gift.
After 10 years of siege, the Greeks had been unable to conquer Troy. So Odysseus had a giant wooden horse built…the horse being the symbol of Troy…and offered it as tribute to Athena, as the Greeks apparently abandoned the siege. But an elite force of Greek soldiers was hidden inside the horse, emerging once the Trojans had wheeled it into the city, celebrated their apparent victory, and fallen asleep. The hidden Greek troops killed the guards and signaled the rest of their army to return and finish off the city.

Gun rights have been under siege for a long time, and our opponents have recently tried to attack using the terror watch list and no fly list maintained by the federal government. Anti-gun rights politicians and activists would like to see these lists used to prohibit anyone on them from purchasing a firearm, but there are several problems with such a move…primarily with the lack of due process before denying someone the exercise of a civil right.

But Senator Marco Rubio has a gift for us. Senator Rubio has proposed legislation which introduces due process into any denial of a firearms sale based on these secret government lists…and more. Were Rubio’s bill to pass, anyone who had been investigated federally for terrorism within the last ten years (whether currently on the watch lists or not) could have their firearms transfer delayed for up to three days, and it could only be stopped by an emergency petition granted in court. Once in court, the government would have to show probable cause that the individual in question was involved or terrorism, and failing that, the petition would be denied, and the government would have to cover the costs.

They would have to put up or shut up…sounds great, right?
It does, until you consider a few realities of the legal process.
First of all, these petition hearings are going to take place very quickly. Remember, they have three days to stop your gun purchase if they’re going to…so that’s exactly what they’re going to do. They will first immediately delay your transfer, and then you’re going to get served papers telling you that a hearing will take place in the nearest U.S. District Court, and it’s going to be in a couple of days. You’re going to be told you can appear with an attorney and contest the government’s petition. If you can’t get it together in those couple of days, tough. They’ll deny your request for a continuance and go ahead and allow the U.S. Attorney to present the petition.

If you’re lucky, the U.S. Attorney and the federal judge will not be Obama or Clinton appointees, and the petition will be denied, even though you weren’t able to adequately defend yourself in the allotted three days.

But another scenario might be that (since you couldn’t afford an attorney, or get one to take your case and appear in federal court for you on such short notice) the U.S. Attorney petitions the federal judge to stop your firearms transfer, and the federal judge (absent any case being made on your behalf) finds probable cause that you are involved in terrorism and stops the sale.

Now you’ve got ’em, right? Now they have to arrest you for terrorism (wrongly) and prosecute you (and lose, and get sued, yada yada). That will show ’em!
Wrong. First of all, the bill only says the government only has to show probable cause in the petition hearing to stop the sale of the gun. It doesn’t say they have to charge and arrest you. There is no language in the bill which says “shall arrest,” and there’s a big difference in the enforcement world between shall arrest and may arrest. That means they have discretion, and they don’t have to arrest you or charge you with anything…just grant the emergency petition and stop the transfer of the gun. (If you think the existence of probable cause is necessarily going to result in charges, then you haven’t been paying attention. Just ask Hillary Clinton or David Gregory, to name a couple.)

Remember, the whole point of denials based on terror investigations is not to catch terrorists, and it is not to stop terrorists from getting guns. The point is to add one more tool which can be leveraged against citizens attempting to buy guns. Once the petition hearing is completed and you’ve been denied your gun…in court…they have succeeded, and do not need to go any farther. They deny the sale and walk away. Of course, you can enlist an attorney and sue the government to get your sale approved. Who knows, maybe some day there will be a famous Supreme Court decision named after you. But who wants to go through all that?

It isn’t necessary, of course. As it stands now, the government cannot deny you a gun, even if you are on these watch lists. And the government already has the ability to investigate and charge anyone with terrorism, any time they can show probable cause. They can do that now, without Rubio’s bill. And no one believes that this bill or any like it will actually stop a terrorist from obtaining a gun. All this bill does is to slip in a weapon which can be used against us…a Trojan Horse dressed up like due process.

Stop Gun Violence Using This One Weird Trick!

Want to know the secret to stopping gun violence in the United States? All you have to do…as long as you are the President…is simply write out an executive order, dictating the ways law abiding citizens may buy and sell guns! It’s just that easy!

Now wait just a dang minute.

This is all it takes to put the brakes on violent crime? You mean to tell me that all this time, all we needed was for President Obama to basically sit down and knock out an executive order?

We probably ought to be ticked off that all along he had the individual, personal power to put a stop to violent crime, and he did nothing for seven years! All he had to do was put pen to paper and lives are saved? Come on, man! How many people died waiting for you to do what you did today?
I mean, I can’t imagine how angry the families of murder victims must be, knowing that but for the inaction of the President, their loved one would be alive today. Think of the lives he could have saved in Chicago alone if he had done this as soon as he took office. If this executive order is actually the life saving act the President claims it is, he has probably been criminally negligent for letting the killing go on so long.

But of course, none of this is true. The President’s show order will do precisely nothing to decrease violent crime, and will only hinder the law abiding from exercising their civil right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. In his speech today he wouldn’t even claim that it will actually prevent any crime, because he knows that is not true.

“It won’t happen during my presidency.”

What will happen tomorrow is that violent criminals will continue being violent…just like yesterday. And then when (not if) the next high profile murder takes place, the usual suspects will pop right back up and start pointing out the “loopholes” in the President’s little term paper…and then will call for even more useless restrictions.

It sounded so simple…

The Edge of A Razor

I’ve thought quite a bit about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia the past few days and like many of you, I am very concerned for the future of the 2nd Amendment. Indeed, the loss of Justice Scalia has very troubling implications for the integrity of the Constitution as a whole.
But it’s not supposed to be that way.

The United States of America as constituted was not supposed to hinge on the fate of a single individual. The Constitution and the Republic were not supposed to live or die based on whether one person lived or died. It is supposed to be stronger than any one person, and it is disturbing to note that it now appears that both have become so weakened that the loss of a single Supreme Court justice threatens it all.

And yet, I suppose it has always been that way. Who is to say how things might have turned out if not for individual figures in our history? What if General George Washington had fallen ill and died before crossing the Delaware into Trenton? What if an assassin’s bullet had found Abraham Lincoln in the early days of the Civil War, instead of after?

There are plenty of such instances we could point to which, if not for the efforts of one person, our nation would look very different today. I think the difference today is that we don’t need to look into the rear view mirror of history to see the impact .

All we have to do is to look at Justice Scalia’s opinion in DC vs. Heller, where the right of the people to keep and bear arms was upheld by the narrowest of margins…and we can clearly see that the 2nd Amendment balances on a razor’s edge. Like it or not, it took one man to preserve that right, and it will only take one to destroy it.

— Dave Cole


What If They Gave a Background Check and Nobody Came?

“What’s wrong with requiring a background check to buy a gun?”

I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me that question, but a story that surfaced this week might help provide a little clarity.

When a NICS background check is submitted for approval, one of the possible responses is “denied.” In the event of a denial, the applicant has the option of appealing the finding. The problem which surfaced this week is that the FBI announced that it is stopping the processing of such appeals “indefinitely.”

Due to the volume of new NICS background checks, the FBI says it has had to reassign personnel normally dedicated to the appeals process to handle the increase in new requests. What this means is that if you have been denied and appealed that finding, you can suck it.

But what’s the big deal? I mean, the 7,100 pending denial appeals are all bad people…aren’t they?
Not necessarily. While there are certainly some in that pool which were rightly denied, many are denied simply due to mistaken identity or other inaccurate information. Those people are being denied access to a Constitutionally guaranteed civil right for no other reason than bureaucratic inefficiency.

But hey…you have to break some eggs to make an omelet, and and you have to violate some rights to insure that criminals can’t get guns, right? That assumes that the existence of the background check system actually keeps guns out of criminal hands. While anti-gun rights organizations are fond of pointing to the number of NICS denials as evidence of the effectiveness of background checks, the truth is that these numbers have little to do with the way that criminals acquire guns.

Think he’s appealing a denied NICS check? (It’s a trick question: he’s not submitting to a background check in the first place)

This is because criminals simply do not submit to background checks. Criminals most often get guns from friends and family, black market street sources, or they steal them. Therefore, criminals are largely unaffected by the NICS system. So who does submit to background checks? Law-abiding citizens, that’s who. So the most likely person to be appealing a denied background check is going to be a law-abiding citizen who is the victim of mistaken identity or inaccurate information in the NICS system.

So as your mechanic might say, “there’s your problem right there.” Law-abiding citizens are denied access to a civil right, and criminals go about their business…simply because the government can’t get around to it. That’s what’s wrong with background checks.

— Dave Cole

Getting the Message

On Monday, Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich publicly announced that customers should not bring guns into the bakery-cafe chain’s stores.

“Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome. To this end, we ask that guns not be brought into this environment unless carried by an authorized law enforcement officer. Panera respects the rights of gun owners, but asks our customers to help preserve the environment we are working to create for our guests and associates.”

Two days later, a criminal pulled a gun and fatally shot a police officer inside a Panera restaurant in Abingdon, Maryland. He then fled the store and engaged responding police in a gunfight, killing another before being killed himself.

That’s some “Panera warmth,” right there behind the crime scene tape.
All of this happened in Maryland, a state with some of the strictest “gun safety” laws in the country, in the “safety” of Panera’s newly declared “gun free zone.”

I guess he didn’t get the message.
But here’s my message to you. There is no such thing as a gun free zone, because in a free society, gun free zones operate on the honor system. And in case you hadn’t noticed, murderers are not honorable.

Now if you are a fan of these types of restrictions, you might point out that the victim in the Panera store was a fully armed police officer. Granted. But one might also point out that even for an armed police officer, going and sitting right next to an individual known to be unstable when responding to a call of his disruptive behavior might not have been the best approach.

Carrying a gun is no guarantee that you get to go home safe at the end of the day, and even if there were armed citizens in that store there is no guarantee that the outcome would have been any better. But there are no guarantees in life, and every adult understands that. A seat belt does not guarantee you’ll survive a car crash, but it betters the odds so you put it on. And short of the seat belt failing mechanically, we don’t blame the belt for a fatal car crash…we recognize the crash as being too severe for the seat belt to save the driver.
Having a gun does not guarantee you’ll survive the crash, but it can improve your odds. Panera CEO Ron Shaich wants you to leave your seat belt off. Get the message?

— Dave Cole
UPDATE: When writing this, I did not notice that the original story about Panera CEO Ron Shaich was from September of 2014. Mea culpa. However, it doesn’t really change anything…kind of like “gun free zones.”