Gun Rights, Personal Security and You

Gun Rights, Personal Security and YouIn many ways, 2014 had been an exhausting year filled with events that illuminate the triumph of the human spirit as well as tragedies that shake us to our core.  It is unfortunate that the impact of the tragedies often outweigh the buoying nature of the triumphs.  Regardless, near-instantaneous global digital connectivity, the 24 hour news cycle and an unprecedented access to information send us an endless stream of facts, figures and opinions on just about every major event.  Even when supposedly objective data is presented, extreme elements of both sides obscure any kernel of truth by manipulating, exaggerating or committing hyperbole to promote their particular point of view.  This can leave the average American citizen to ask two essential questions: “What should I believe and what can I do about it?”

Gun Shooting, Gun Rights debate

 

In terms of triumph, tragedy and longevity, few social and legal issues can match the Gun Rights debate.  Rather than analyzing the merits of both sides of this long-standing issue, I will focus on the foundation of the Gun Rights debate, place it in the current context of personal security, and conclude with some thoughts on personal actions available to you.

The Gun Rights Debate

The Gun Rights debate traces its roots back to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788.  The original Constitution focused on establishing and delineating the powers of our three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial), but made no specific mention of gun rights.  Over two hundred years of hindsight make the ratification process seem clean and straight-forward.  However, Federalist and Anti-Federalist factions hotly debated each and every issue within the document.  As a result, the Constitution was founded on extraordinary compromise, but many issues were left unresolved.  In order to get the Constitution ratified in 1788, the framers agreed that the document was a foundational “start” to the process, but would continue debates on contentious issues that would be amended at a later date.  In 1791, the first 10 amendments were encapsulated into the Bill of Rights.  The Second Amendment, stating: “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,” was included in the Bill of Rights.

Since then, any number of events from the Civil War through the Cold War and some of our current tragedies stress ourThe Second Amendment of Gun Rights understanding of those 27 words.  In general, there are three different interpretations of the Second Amendment.  The first interpretation focuses on the initial clause and believes that it only authorizes each state the right to maintain a militia.  The second interpretation expands the viewpoint of the first by purporting that only individuals who are part of a state militia may keep and bear arms.  The third interpretation strongly focuses in the words as written, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Today, these differing interpretations are adopted by the political parties that align themselves with their belief in which entity is most responsible for ensuring and providing public security.  One extreme believes in a very powerful government that provides collective security supported by citizens who willingly submit individual rights to have their security provided for them.  The other extreme believes in a limited government that provides only the level of security required to protect from external attack while ensuring the rule of law supported by those who believe in strong individual rights and the right to provide for one’s own security.

So, where do you fall within this continuum?

If there was ever a metric that was hard to define, it is “American Popular Opinion.”  From our country’s foundation through the current day, there have been extreme views and thousands of intermediate variations on “what is right or what is the collective good?”  In the last 30 years, we have seen public or popular opinion in regard to gun rights vacillate and even spike in relation to major events.  While lawful use of firearms in self-defense tends to be woefully under-reported, unlawful use of firearms tends to be grossly over-reported.  In the wake of major events, parties on both extremes entrench in their respective ideological positions while the flames are fanned by an equally ideological media.  The truth, of course, can be found obscured somewhere in-between. Read More >>

About Author – Howard Hall

Howard Hall “Range Master at Aegis Academy – has served for nearly 20 years in the Marine Corps. He has served as a Platoon Commander, Company Commander, Battalion Executive Officer, Regimental Operations Officer, and Battalion Commander. He has multiple combat tours to include serving as a military transition team member in Fallujah. He is an NRA Certified handgun instructor and holds numerous Marine Corps training credentials. An active competitor in action pistol (United States Practical Shooting Association), long range rifle (NRA F-Class), and shotgun (Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association), Howard has earned numerous accolades and medaled during DoD competitions with the 1911 platform in bulls-eye shooting.

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Improving your trigger control one finger at a time

Earlier this year, I added yet another part of my aging body to the list of hurts and complaints. My wrists began to feel stiff and painful, and I had to admit that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome apparently is a real thing. I am already challenged by a set of appendages that are notoriously short with rather svelte paws. I have significantly damaged both hands in my career, my left hand goes numb regularly from scar tissue and the fingers can barely turn a key. My dominant hand was broken twice and I am sure a career playing piano is not going to be in my future. You may be asking yourself why is this relevant to firearms?

Our fingers, especially their ability to smoothly pull the trigger without disturbing the sights, are hugely important in becoming accurate shooters. Unless you’re a rock climber or practicing martial arts, chances are you do not actively work out your fingers. When I complained of stiffness and pain to my yoga teacher, she gave me some great suggestions that I found improved my trigger control. A few simple exercises can help increase dexterity and isolate each of the fingers from each other. A small advantage maybe, but any advantage you get in a gunfight is one to use. I am not discussing grip itself, hand position or trigger finger placement. All of which could be articles in themselves. The goal is to isolate the trigger finger itself from the whole.

Isolating our trigger finger from the rest is difficult. Our hands are poorly designed as tools for fine motor skill, especially under stress. Those who regularly practice complicated tasks like typing (at least for me) or playing instruments already have accomplished the same idea. A few processes are involved; one is the process of Myelination, the other is the tendon sheath keeping the tendons themselves lubricated and flexible. I am not a doctor, or even a manicurist, so my explanation focuses on how the tendons affect us. To read about Myelin and how it affects motor learning, click on the link. The tendons on the back of our hands all come together at the wrist in an area called the Carpal Tunnel, and in simple terms since they are bunched together, the signals telling you to move one finger cross over to the other digits.

We like to think that our fingers are precision tools, but only in certain ways. While they work in concert with the thumb individually to hold small objects, they are somewhat less precise with each other. When we move one finger, the signals cross and the other fingers move as well. Age, injury and lack of physical exercise can compound this. Often this is caused by inflammation of the tendon sheaths surrounding each tendon. The inflammation causes lack of lubrication on the tendon and restricts flexibility. Additionally, power is generated in the forearms so if we tense there it translates to the fingers. Try this for yourself, hold your hand vertical with all the fingers extended, but slightly relaxed, Try just curling your pointer or trigger finger and see how much the other fingers move. You can also feel your forearm flex. Read More >>

Posted by Aegis Academy Staff.

Children, Guns and Education

Toy Guns Education and SafetyThis morning we woke up to the news that a 12-year-old was shot by police over an airsoft gun for failing to follow their instructions and display his hands. Initial reports are that this gun had been modified to remove the orange identifier from the barrel. We have seen a number of children with toy guns shot over the years by police who were responding to a report of a person with a firearm. Typically it is a kid in the 10 – 14-year-old range. Older teens seem to have the common sense to know that walking around with a replica is going to cause some real problems. Younger kids with no exposure to guns other than what they see in the movies are the ones at risk.

We have a responsibility to make children safer, and education is the key. Children, guns and education is not really and option, its a moral imperative. A twelve-year-old is certainly capable of understanding the risks a firearm can pose. The real barrier is the education systems desire to wish guns away from our society. Their pursuit of some alternate universe where guns don’t exist is ignorant, irresponsible and quite frankly causing the deaths of between 250 and 300 kids a year, who simply didn’t know any better. We have more guns than cars in this nation, and children will be exposed to them. We can control that exposure through education, or continue to roll the dice and hope they figure it out on their own.

By the time a kid is 10 years old, he or she has seen literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of irresponsible role models on TV and in the movies. These tend to depict unrealistic, unsafe and / or poor safety practices. The fact that we are not providing education on firearms in our schools as part of the curriculum is insane. While the education system is busy suspending five-year-olds for making finger guns, about 275 of their peers will die in 2016 because the education system fears that which it does not understand.

Like it or not, your irrational fear of an inanimate object does not trump the basic human right to self-defense in this nation. The concept that we should ban firearms from the education system is about as effective as assuming Hollywood will adequately teach our kids to cross the street and to drive safely. Banning guns in the name of safety is not, has not and will not work. Education is the key to solving a number of social problems and the preventable deaths of young kids is no different.

Next are the parents. Toy guns are a great tool to teach responsible ownership practices, but you cannot treat them like other toys. What parent in their right mind would allow a child to modify a fake gun to make it look more realistic, and then allow them to take it to the park to play with it? I understand kids will do irresponsible things, sometimes without their parent’s permission. If you are going to allow your kids to own replica guns, they should be locked away with the real guns. Otherwise, you run the risk that your child will go to the park with it, be too nervous to comply with police commands, and be shot. When and if that happens its as much or more your fault then the child’s. Misdemeanor, if not felony child endangerment comes to my mind when I hear about things like this happening.

The police cannot differentiate between a real gun and a replica at more than contact distance – especially if it has been modified. In the age of mass murders, we do not want the police to respond to cases of individuals waving guns around with anything other than clear instructions and lethal force if those instructions are not followed. More than 80% of teen firearm-related deaths are gang related. The vast majority of those deaths occur in the 12- to 19-year-old age range. The concept that a twelve-year-old is not a potential threat is simply not the reality of the world we live in, no matter how badly we want it to be otherwise.

Police cannot fix this problem. Smart parenting and education can. If you love your kids, do your part. These tragedies will not stop until we as a nation demand education in our schools. While you may choose not to own a firearm in your house, the chances are that several of the parents of your child’s classmate’s do. Failing to give your son or daughter the education to make a responsible choice is putting them at risk.

This is a problem with a simple “common sense” solution.

Author ~ Patrick Henry

Patrick received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then seven years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary firm, specializing in training special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related qualifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the FBI’s Infra guard, New York City’s Mobile Trauma Unit and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.

Originally Published at Aegis Academy

Everytown for gun safety and the Impact of Social Media

The Impact of Social Media on Social Change

Everytown for Gun Safety - Aegis AcademyEverytown for Gun Safety hired Jeremy Heimans’ company Purpose to promote its cause of restricting Americans Second Amendment rights via local legislation. The message they push is reducing gun violence. Mr. Heimans is a social media expert, and a liberal activist. He opposes war, guns, anything remotely anti-gay and actively supports the LGBT rights movements and the delivery of aid to Syrian fighters on both sides of the conflict. Jeremy’s company is doing a very effective job leveraging social media to create awareness, but I am not sure he has cracked the code on converting that to social change, yet.

I was watching him speak about “New Power” vs. what he calls “Old Power” which he presented publicly at a TED talk in Berlin last month. You can watch the presentation below. The concept of social movements has been studied in depth in a variety of educational departments; history, economics, sociology and others I am sure. Jeremy’s supposition is that there is power in large groups. Using Occupy Wall Street as one example of the power of social media, he makes a bit of a leap in extrapolating awareness to what he calls “New Power”, but he readily admits that “New Power” may not be effective.

Awareness is step one

When we look at social change and the impact of successful social movements, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, or the Indian independence movement, they share some commonalities. They created awareness, built consensus, established specific, identifiable goals and converted on social popularity to enact governmental change. The Tea Party is a good example of a social movement that is still struggling to identify its unifying and specific objectives. Despite the lack of specific objectives, they have managed to drive some measures of change in the Republican Party.

The ability to “touch” a million or a billion people is certainly an interesting proposition. Flash mobs, occupy Wall Street, and Iranian social disturbances provide us some example of the short-term impact that social media can have. The question I was having a hard time rectifying is what did these movements accomplish? If the goal was social awareness, well then social media is clearly a win as it reduces the amount of time it takes to raise awareness. If the goal is social change, then I am having a much harder time finding effective parallels. The supposition that awareness drives change is inaccurate (and not one that he directly makes in his presentation). The real interesting point to me is how and what do we need to do to establish an effective conversion rate that equates to change?

Awareness does not equal change

Change takes work. Existing, entrenched power structures “Old Power” as Mr. Heimans likes to call it, is unlikely to simply turn over the keys to the kingdom because “New Power” yells loudly. There has to be incentive to change, specific objectives or demands, and ultimately it has to be legitimate cause. It’s not enough to be angry, you also have to be unified and specific in your demands, and ultimately right – or the movement falters and dies.

Everytown for Gun Safety - Handgun Classes - Aegis Academy

The million-man march was orchestrated by Louis Farrahkan, the African American Leadership Summit, The Nation of Islam and the NAACP. The march was largely orchestrated in response to the Republican 1994 congressional victories, which left the black minority community feeling vulnerable to exploitation. The March took place on October 16, 1995, nearly a year later. Ultimately, it pushed for “opportunity in the black community”, and nearly 20 years later, most will estimate that its loosely defined goals remain largely unattained. The black community certainly suffers a higher proportional share of social ills then other groups in society, but being right was not enough. What did “opportunity” consist of – specifically?

Conversely, the Occupy Wall Street movement resulted in millions of people globally taking part over the course of about 3 months of intense activism. The real spark was the Hacker group Anonymous promoting the cause in New York. The resultant global change was much like the million man march, beyond a short term flash point and media attention, not much… Occupy Wall Streets’ demand; End Consumerism! I suppose it is specific, but it’s simply the wrong goal. Do you really believe people can simply stop purchasing and go back to a barter system, trading in only what we need to survive? What is impressive about Occupy Wall Street was that it was organized in a few short months and sparked global actions. People did more than simply click the like button, they showed up.

Migrating Awareness to Commitment

What technology and social media enables us to do is tap into a wider range of people. People like to be angry, and stomp their feet over the social injustice. The problem, is in the past it was social injustice of the century or the decade and the time and effort to organize forced organizers to distill the ideas to a simple understandable goals that busy people could commit to. Now it’s more like the social injustice of the week, and next week, most of the crowd will have moved on. Awareness is no longer the issue, its now converting awareness to commitment that becomes the crux.

Back to Jeremy’s social campaign to drive Everytown for Gun Safety forward. Largely, like most of Mr. Bloomberg’s anti gun campaigns, this too is failing. It is not failing due to a lack of awareness. It is failing because it is simply a bad idea promoted under demonstrably false pretenses. The question we need to ask is why is society largely unaware of the facts surrounding gun ownership, yet so willing to become aware of the fabrications? The answer is Mr. Heiman’s theory of “New Power”. If the packaging of the message is marginal, you can expect a marginal response – regardless of the quality of the message. If the packaging is done right, people will pay attention to even falsehoods.

Everytown for Gun Safety - Aegis Academy - Domestic Violence

As we saw in the last election cycle, packaging and spending is insufficient to drive change. People are still capable of discerning facts from nonsense. No matter how you package bull-shit, it takes more then a slick wrapper to make a nation of free people consume it. That is what happened to Bloomberg’s Gun control candidates and propositions in 2014. The reality is social value is still defined by a relatively discerning population, and they know when they are being lied to.

While we can complain about the fact that John Lott is largely ignored, but that is largely our fault. The messaging is not reaching the people we need it reach. We have failed to define a socially supportable cause that connects with the masses. I have heard from some of my colleagues state that those people are unreachable, too ignorant to understand, or not worth our time. My response is that attitude is lazy, ineffective and exactly what keeps the perception that gun owners are cave dwellers alive. Touting the Second Amendment is simply not reaching a large enough percentage of the population. We have facts, the law and social welfare on our side. The only thing limiting the Second Amendment movement is the packaging.

NRA - Aegis Academy - Pistol Training

The NRA has made leaps and bounds in pushing quality images, content and using social media much more effectively in the past three years but we can still learn a lot from Jeremy Heimans and Purpose. Just imagine what Jeremy could accomplish if he chose to support a legitimate cause… Imagine what we can accomplish if we simply package the truth in a socially popular format!

Stay safe, and stay engaged!

About Author

Patrick Henry – President and Firearm Trainer

patrick-henry-aegis-academy-firearms-instructorPatrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then seven years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary company, specializing in training special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.

First Published at Aegis Academy