Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Right and Responsibility of Self-Defense Posted By Connor Boyack On March 19, 2009

This article is from LDS Liberty - http://www.ldsliberty.org 

I don't usually publish articles from other web sites but this one was too good and written too well.  The author says it many times better than I could!


"There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has the right to forbid it… (Joseph Smith)

photo credit: ~Tatankanuk~

Husbands and fathers have three primary roles in their stewardship: provide, preside, and protect. It seems from my personal observation that they are generally prioritized and proactively worked on in this order. Almost all men recognize the duty to work and provide for their family; most men do a good job at being the patriarch and being the leader of the family; and some take the issue of protection and defense seriously enough to fulfill this duty. In today's world of outsourcing and delegation, though, it seems that most prefer to appoint the duty of defense to the police department rather than worry about it themselves. Political leftist fearmongering, Hollywood hype, and a general misunderstanding of the history and practical use of weaponry has resulted in a massively successful campaign to create an atmosphere in which very few people know how or are ready to defend themselves.

Joseph Smith-himself known for organizing a strong defensive force when faced with personal threats-once commented on this subject as follows:

There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has the right to forbid it, should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)

Also calling those who will not defend their families cowards and bastards, the Prophet seemed to emphasize this basic duty of every man. A similar statement was unanimously approved for canonization in the “declaration of belief regarding government” in section 134 of theDoctrine and Covenants:

…we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded. (Doctrine and Covenants 134:11)

Note the conditional: we are justified in defending ourselves, our family and friends, our property, and our nation when another recourse is not available given the time constraints. This caveat perfectly illustrates why every family should be armed and knowledgeable in defense. Most rely on the police to defend them should something happen, but the average response time of a police officer nationwide is seven minutes. This amount of time, of course, is an eternity when faced with an immediate threat. The reality is that the police do not prevent crime at all-their job is primarily to write crime reports after the crime took place. Sometimes they even get lucky and solve a crime. But by no means are they a proper and adequate substitution for personal defense.

From what I've observed, fear seems to be the main deterrent in taking the necessary steps to become armed and skilled. First, there is fear of the threat itself. If faced with a physical threat, some would rather give up and die, throwing their life upon the mercy of the assailant. These seem to be the “cowards” the Prophet described-unwilling to ensure the safety and security of themselves and their family. The other fear is a fear of the weapon. This irrational uneasiness stems largely from inexperience and ignorance. When properly trained and upon implementing necessary security and precaution, a weapon inside the home is no more a threat than the matches in the garage or the swimming pool outside.

Ignorance has never been a justifiable excuse for inaction. Whether the subject is education, food storage, health care, self-defense, or anything else, it is our responsibility to seek the proper training, experience, and self-confidence that will help us better fulfill the duties we inherently have and responsibilities associated with our role as protector of the family. Women are not exempt from this; just as the police aren't able to continually defend each individual, so too are husbands away at work or elsewhere on a regular basis. Thus, the individual right of self-defense is also an individual responsibility, and men and women alike need to equip themselves with the skills and tools necessary to successfully repel a would-be aggressor.

That aggressor can be a variety of things, from a needy drug addict to the government itself. As George Washington warned, we must be prepared to repel any and every threat we may face:

A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government. (George Washington, via Quoty)

Brigham Young, who agreed with President Washington, also went further on another occasion with this thought in saying that self-defense is a commandment from the Lord:

We all believe that the Lord will fight our battles; but how? Will He do it while we are unconcerned and make no effort whatever for our own safety when an enemy is upon us? If we make no effort to guard our towns, our houses, our cities, our wives and children, will the Lord guard them for us? He will not; but if we pursue the opposite course and strive to help Him to accomplish His designs, then will He fight our battles. We are baptized for the remission of sins; but it would be quite as unreasonable to expect a remission of sins without baptism, as to expect the Lord to fight our battles without our taking every precaution to be prepared to defend ourselves. The Lord requires us to be quite as willing to fight our own battles as to have Him fight them for us. If we are not ready for an enemy when he comes upon us, we have not lived up to the requirements of Him who guides the ship of Zion, or who dictates the affairs of his kingdom. (Brigham Young, via Quoty)

Self-defense is one of the few inherent rights that can never be fully delegated to another person. Those who would prefer to shirk this right and submit themselves to an attacker are certainly entitled to do so, since it is their life. This attitude, though, is cowardly and irresponsible-even more so when that individual has other people for whom he or she is responsible. Oddly, we all go to great lengths to insure our lives and possessions, yet few take the proactive (and less costly) steps that would make such insurance much less needed.

Taking the time now to acquire the necessary tools and skills for defense will prove immensely valuable should they ever be needed. Like so many other items in the preparedness world, we pray that we never have to use these things in anything other than practice and proper recreation. But anybody who takes their life seriously-and those of their family members, friends, and neighbors-has a firm obligation to invest the necessary time and money in an effort to become better equipped to successfully repel any potential threat. When you're faced with physical peril, all the previous fear, ignorance, and false trust in police will spell your demise should you be unprepared to use some sort of weapon in your own defense.

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we can not be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference in having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands? (Patrick Henry, via Quoty)"

Thank you to Conner Boyak and ldsliberty.org.

Semper Paratus


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Risk: Crowd Safety

I hate busy restaurants! Especially the big ones. They make me nervous. One time when I was a teenager I was in a busy restaurant and someone tripped a fire alarm. I witnessed the alarm tripping and knew there was no fire. I have never seen such a display of stupidity from human beings. First there was denial. No one did anything for about 1 minute. The alarm was loud so they did what Americans do best, gawked. They looked around expecting someone to tell them what to do. Then when someone, an employee, calmly said that what they heard was a fire alarm and would they please quickly exit at the marked exits. Instead of orderly walking out of the building, as a group they all stood up and ran toward the entrance, where they came in, some even running by exits that were close to them. Ever since then, I have not liked large crowds in confined spaces. That is not to say that I don’t go to a football game or concert, I am just very careful when I do.
I’ve been asked several times after telling that story about how I manage risk in a large crowd environment. One answer is simple: Unless you are absolutely required to be in attendance, avoid large crowded environments. Of course, when there are times when you have limited choice and must venture into that environment, or want attend a large event, then use good habits of situational awareness and adopt a bias towards action, or have a set idea of what to do, and do it without thinking.

Large groups of people will always attract a certain amount of risk. Never underestimate the volatility of people in large groups. Any significant event, even a “perceived” event, can result in a stampede. People are injured and die every year during Black Friday Sales events when they become victims of a frenzied mob. A fire, an explosion or an active shooter can all create a mob mentality that will take on a life of its own.

The secret to surviving any event in a crowded venue will depend almost entirely on your ability to control personal panic, to assess the situation and to take immediate action. If you panic, you dramatically increase your odds of injury or death.

Here are a few strategies that will decrease your risk. Concentration is initially involved, but after practice, these habits can become natural and seemingly effortless.

1. Situational Awareness. Keep your eyes up, off the smart phone and scan your environment. This can be challenging due to the large volume of people. But try actively scanning and looking for out-of-the-norm behaviors. People moving upstream and against the flow, for example, are out-of-the-norm. People moving faster or slower than the crowd, or whose gestures or attitude do not match the event.

I have a friend who works in a department store in theft prevention. In a glance, he can spot someone about to shoplift. Their behaviors are out-of-the-norm. A shoplifter will always stand right next to the shelf before he pockets the item, whereas a normal shopper stands back to be able to see the contents of the shelves.

2. Identify specific threats or threatening behavior. Look for menacing behavior or people who by their looks cause you to feel uncomfortable. Trust your gut. There may be a valid reason why they make you feel uncomfortable. If you are in proximity, move away. As always, look for orphans: bags or packages without owners. Alert security if you see them, but do not stand next to them waiting for security to arrive.

3. Identify exits. Whenever I enter a room, or area, one of the first things I do is scan for exits. Especially in a place I am unfamiliar with. Are there emergency exits? Are they alarmed? Are they locked? What about windows? Can they be opened? Is there a heavy object like a chair I can throw through the window to create an exit?

4. Look for exits on the opposite side of the room from the entrance or at right angles to the entrance. Most people will bypass emergency exits in close proximity to them to go back to the entrance they came in through. This behavior has led to many deaths in ballroom and concert fires. People who are panicking seek the familiar.

5. Identify cover. Cover refers to safety from fire. A brick wall may stop bullets, but sheetrock walls will not. Solid furniture may seem solid, but even a two inch thick oak table will not stop a 9mm round. But concealment doesn’t give the shooter a target. You must find something substantial if shooting starts. The engine block and front axle of a car for example may provide enough cover for one person. The car door, not so much. There generally isn’t much cover inside of a building and it’s best to head for the exit.

6. When an event occurs, grab your family members and head for the exit. Pick up and carry children. Have your family members (spouse, others with you) grab a hold of your belt. Move assertively towards the PRE-SELECTED exit. Move with the crowd “downstream,” but also in a diagonal direction until you can reach a wall inside. If outside, move along the edge of the crowd, where you can better control your movement. Don’t be afraid to damage or destroy the fixtures, or even the building itself to get out. This may include breaking open windows, kicking open doors, or breaking locks. Timidity will not be helpful, your primary concern must be your family. Once they’re safe, you can decide whether or not to render aid to others.

7. Carry essential gear. Essential gear for an outside event: Water bottle, First Aid kit with a tourniquet, multi-tool, sunglasses that also provide eye protection. For indoor essential gear, add a small pocket flashlight, as cell phone flashlights will not penetrate smoke and haze.

Temember that large crowds can be a risk. With a little planning, predetermined routes and action can save lives. The most important trait here is a BIAS TOWARDS ACTION. Take action to improve your crowd situation.

Semper Paratus


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

(OPR) Rockwell Philosophy

I had a discussion with a friend today that made me want to do this article on what I call The OP Rockwell philosophy.
Many members have a problem with Orrin Porter Rockwell. He dealt with things that most members would shy away from. Portwas fiercely loyal to Joseph Smith, later Brigham Young, and always to the Church. Porter was the kind of man that George Orwell was speaking of when he said:
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
I think most people, members and non-members alike, don’t have a lot of experience with violence. That’s not a bad thing, but what it does is numb them when confronted by real violence. I stopped on the highway once where a mini-van was on itsside. There were many people there but none of them were doing anything. This was not intended violence, but accidental violence. They were numb to it to the point where they couldn’t even think enough to call someone. Once I got people moving they were actually eager to help. When training with a firearm after you engage the target it’s important to look left and right. Have you ever wondered why this is done? Well, one, it lets you assess threats that may be coming at you from other directions. This is important but equally, I think, is the break in the concentration on the primary target. Often in a stressful situation will come tunnel-vision. By breaking contact with the front target you break that tunnel-vision. Fear is often your friend if controlled and used to your advantage. A book by Gavin de Becker titled “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence” explains how your gut instinct (which I know from experience is the Spirit) can steer you in the right direction. I heartedly recommend reading this book. Lt. Col. (ret) Dave Grossman wrote a superb article that says it better than I could say it.
By LTC(Ret.) Dave Grossman, RANGER,
Ph.D., author of “On Killing.”
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains:
What is worth defending?
What is worth dying for?
What is worth living for?
- William J. Bennett – in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.”
This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violentcrime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation.
They are sheep. I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me, it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep.
There is no safety in denial.
“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours. Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constantreminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.” Until the wolf shows up.
Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them.
This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.
Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero? Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle.
The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into “warriorhood”, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference. There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.
There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: Slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself. Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers – athletes, business people and parents. — from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. – Edmund Burke — Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep.
Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice.
But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many police officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying a weapon. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in church.” I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for “heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’ school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must besafeguards against them. Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked andkilled, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?”
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up. Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn’t bring your gun, you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear, helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in “Fear Less”, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: “…denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling.” Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level. And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself…”Baa.”
This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from “sheephood” and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.”
All I can say to this is Amen, Brother, Amen! So as I have learned about fear, and sheep, and sheepdogs, I have concluded that a Sheepdog I must be. I am not a law enforcement officer. I am no longer in the military, but in my experience I have found that I have a hard time living among sheep. I love the sheep but it is frustrating to deal with them. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I profess to follow the Shepherd. But I cannot be a sheep. I know too much.
Living with LDS members who are sheep is even more frustrating. But as a believer in Christ, and striving to be like Him, it's hard to explain to sheep why I am concerned about security and self defense. I believe that Christ would want us to care for each other and to take care of each other. His Apostles were armed. In the garden of Gethsemene when guards came to take the Savior one of His Apostles drew his sword. I'm sure the a Savior knew he was armed. The key is to be able to defend yourself, but to not " live by the sword" . This is what I call the OP Rockwell philosophy. Living among the sheep but doing my best to protect them. This is how I see Porter Rockwell's life.
Learn all you can. Seek training in your self defense art of choice. Be versatile. As much as I love guns, I know it’s important to be trained in other means of self defense. When you are trained, practice. Be prepared. I know the whole point of this site is to talk about guns and self defense, but I believe in a well rounded preparedness. Food storage, bug out bags, comprehensive first aid and medical kits and training. This only scratches the surface and we should be actively pursuing this knowledge. Self defense is only part of being able to care for your family and others. If you are not prepared for disaster or without-rule-of-law in the area of water or food, how can you be a sheepdog? If you are only worried about your family because you chose to ignore inspired counsel, I say you should say “Baaa”. Being prepared in most things is what I call the OPR (Orrin Porter Rockwell) philosophy. Be OPR ready.
Semper Paratus

Friday, April 4, 2014

Remember Chris

April 8 marks what would have been Chris Kyle’s 40th birthday.  Who is Chris Kyle?  Chris was a Navy SEAL sniper who did 4 tours in Iraq and was there in Iraq from the beginning of that conflict.   He was the most lethal sniper in American history with 160 confirmed kills.  He was awarded 2 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars for valor, among other commendations.  He was dubbed the “Devil of Ramadi” by Iraqi insurgents.  He was shot twice and involved with six IED attacks.  Chris also wrote a best selling book titled “American Sniper”.   He co-founded Craft International, a consulting and training firm that has trained military, law enforcement, and first responders in security solutions.  He was a father and husband and cared deeply for those who served in the military, specifically “his boys” that he protected.  He gave back to veterans and charity.
Chris and a friend were murdered by a fellow veteran who they were trying to help in 2013.
Chris Kyle was born in Odessa, Texas and received his first gun from his father when he was 8.  He was an avid hunter and bronc rider until he was injured.  After his arm healed he tried to enlist in the Marines but was turned down because of his injury.  A Navy recruiter told him about the SEALS and he had a chance to go to BUDS/S (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school after he joined the Navy in 1999.  He was assigned to SEAL Team 3, Sniper element.  He served in many major battles in the Iraq war.  In 2008 outside Sadr City, Iraq he made his longest successful shot at a range of 2,100 yards.
He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2009 and moved to Texas with his family. 
Chris  once said “If you hate war, that’s fine.  But you should support the troops.  They don’t get to pick where they’re deployed.  They just gave the American people a blank check for anything up to and including the value of their lives, and the least everyone else can do is be thankful. “
He was a true patriot who put his life on the line for this country.  When asked if he regretted any of his kills, which were not always men, he said: “I regret the people I couldn’t kill before they got my boys.”  He referred to the men and women he served with, from all branches of the military as “my boys”.  He said he didn’t enjoy killing, but he did like protecting Americans and allies and civilians.  “You don’t think of the people you kill as people,” he said.  “They’re just targets.  You can’t think of them as people with families and jobs.  They rule by putting terror in the hearts of innocent people.  The things they would do, the beheadings, dragging Americans through the streets alive, the things they would do to little boys and women just to keep them terrified and quiet.  That part is easy.  I definitely don’t have any regrets about that.”
He wasn’t perfect, but Chris Kyle was trying to be a good man.  He was trying to be a good husband and Father.  He was trying to be the hero many thought he already was.
For some reason, those who serve in the military are a little different.  Not better than anyone else, just different.  There is an understanding of one vet to another.  That deepens with combat.  Chris Kyle was a vet we can all look to for strength.  His wife and children have this same strength.  On Tuesday, April 8, remember, if only for a moment, Chris Kyle and his sacrifice and dedication to this great country and to all of us.  We miss you Chris!
Semper Paratus

"Making" Someone (Recognizing someone is armed)

Ever wonder if someone is carrying? I notice the people who look at others to see if they are carrying a weapon are those that carry themselves or law enforcement. Others do not. I’m not saying those that don’t carry are sheep, but many are. The sheepdogs are those who take notice of others in this way.
I just had an e-mail discussion with an old friend of mine. We met in jump school in the military. He works now for church security but is ex-FBI. We originally were talking about concealed carry but then we got on the subject of recognizing when someone is armed. These are some of what I learned.
These are common behavioral indictors of an armed person. Namely (and paraphrased):
1. Security Check - instinctively checking and rechecking to see if their weapon is still there.
2. Un-natural Gait - moving unnaturally due to being uncomfortable.
3. Jacket Sag - pistol in a pocket causing the coat to hang unusually.
4. Hunchback Stride - Stock of the long gun protruding from the armpit.
5. Bulges and Outline/Weapon - The imprint of the weapon against clothing.
6. Visible Weapon – My friend had a partner who once called this being over exposed.
7. Palming - Concealing the weapon from frontal view; hiding behind the leg.
These are the ABC’s response
A - Stands for Action; this consists of #2, 4 and 7 gunman signs.
B - Means Behaviors; Gunman characteristic #1, or anything else relating to it like looking to see repeatedly if a weapon is in their waist band. Other suspicious mannerisms count as well.
C - Denotes Clothing the suspect is wearing; #3, 5 and 6.
Applying the seven characteristics of a gunman to the first three letters of the alphabet allows for the rapid recall, and affording a life safety reaction quickly.
Being aware of others in certain situations is something I’ve talked about a lot. Situational awareness is something few practice, but most of us should. Especially in places we are comfortable.
I’ve talked about the Cooper color code. Here’s a reminder.
CONDITION WHITE- White is the lowest level on the escalator. In Condition White one is unaware, not alert, and oblivious. This state can be characterized as "daydreaming" or "preoccupied". People in White tend to walk around with their heads down, as if watching their own feet. They do not notice the impending danger until it literally has them by the throat.
CONDITION YELLOW- This is a relaxed state of general alertness, with no specific focal point. You are not looking for anything or anyone in particular; you simply have your head up and your eyes open. You are alert and aware of your surroundings. You are difficult to surprise, therefore, you are difficult to harm. You do not expect to be attacked today. You simply recognize the possibility.
CONDITION ORANGE- This is a heightened state of alertness, with a specific focal point. The entire difference between Yellow and Orange is this specific target for your attention. Your focal point is the person who is doing whatever drew your attention to him. It might be the fact that he is wearing a field jacket in August. It might be that he's standing by a column in the parking garage, instead of going into the building, or getting in a car and leaving. It might be that you have been in five stores at the mall, and saw this same guy in every one of them. His actions have caused you to take note of him, so you must assess him as a potential threat, just as the fighter pilot assessed the blip earlier.
CONDITION RED- In Red, you are ready to fight! You may, or may not, actually be fighting, but you are MENTALLY PREPARED to fight. In many, or perhaps even most, circumstances where you have gone fully to Red, you will not actually physically do anything at all. The entire process of escalating from Yellow, to Orange, to Red, then de-escalating right back down the scale as the situation is resolved, occurs without any actual physical activity on your part. The key is that you were mentally prepared for a conflict, and thus could physically act if the situation demanded.
Unfortunately we can be in white too often. Some places may include, our living room, at church, at work, or at school. Places that are very familiar we need to ensure we are alert and have situational awareness. When someone is out of place, or seems wrong, that’s when we should be ready for anything and applying the ABC’s above.
My friend “Choirboy” knows firsthand the dangers of complacency. He was caught unaware at a restaurant in Salt Lake City. An armed man tried to rob the register. He said he was lucky he was semi-concealed from the man and was able to draw his weapon and stop the situation from getting worse.
Remember to keep your eyes open and always have a plan. Stay in Yellow.

Semper Paratus


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness: Clean Your Guns, Be More Like...well you get the picture!

First we should talk about a cleaning kit. There are many on the market. Actually an incredible amount on the market. I would suggest finding one that you think will meet your needs and starting there. Here’s my take on bought “kits”, whether they be gun cleaning, first aid, or bug out bags. Most of these kits are only a starting point. With gun cleaning, I would find a list and start there building my own. Over the years my cleaning kit has morphed into a cleaning/repair kit. The basics of a cleaning kit are:
Cleaning solvent (find one that doesn’t harm polymer) non-chlorine ie. Breakfree CLP, Hoppe’s #9, etc.
Lubricant (gun oil)
A bore brush (for each caliber or gauge)
A patch holder and patches (for each caliber or gauge)
Cleaning rod (universal for pistols or rifles, 1 for shotguns)
Nylon cleaning brush (I’ve bought “gun” brushes, but mostly use an old toothbrush)
Flashlight (bore light can pull double duty)
Cotton swabs (q-tips or medical applicators)
Cloths (I use one to spread out as a cover cloth, and then others to clean and polish, cotton)
These are the basics. I have added: A small wire brush, fine steel wool, fine sand paper, dental picks, tooth picks, a small mayo-jar lid, bore light, set of screw drivers, Hex keys, hemostats/forceps, gun grease, spare parts and various screws, very small hammer, bore snake, bore mops. I would add manuals for each gun. I have a separate notebook full of manuals and other info about each gun.
Like other kits, a gun cleaning kit can be simple or elaborate. They are tailored to what guns you own and to your individual tastes and needs.
Next we should talk about safety.
The four gun rules apply when cleaning a weapon. They are:
1. All guns are always loaded!
2. Never let the gun muzzle point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the guard until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and beyond.
These rules are in effect even when you clean a gun. I also recommend another hard and fast rule.
NO ammo on the table or in the room where you clean your gun. No exceptions! If you clean your gun in the room where you store your ammo, change rooms. Get a card table or TV tray. If weather permits clean your gun on the patio. Your family will appreciate this since solvents and gun oil smell. For me I keep one other “rule”. I have to watch John Wayne’s “The Green Beret” movie when I clean my guns. I guess you can skip this “rule”. But that’s the only one! The rest stand.

Here is the gun cleaning steps:
1. Get your kit. We discussed these kits above.
2. Unload your gun! Remember my ammo rule.
3. Disassemble gun as much as manufacturer recommends. (I know many of you experienced gun nuts will balk at this.) These are the basics so until you learn more about your particular gun, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
4. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area. (One man’s smell is another man’s aromatherapy!)
5. Clean out barrel and bore. Use clean patches.
6. Lubricate the barrel. Remember only a light coating. Nothing should obstruct the bore or barrel.
7. Clean and lubricate the action. Scrape areas that have residue buildup. That’s what the tools and scrapers and brushes are for.
8. Wipe down parts and reassemble. Take special care to follow your manual.
9. Wipe down the whole gun with a clean cloth.
Store your guns in a cool, dry environment. A temperature controlled area is best.
Remember that polymer is plastic. It is very hard but is still a form of plastic and can be cracked, scratched, and scored.
I recommend cleaning your guns after each use. Do I always do this? I have to be honest, I do not. With new polymers, coatings, and metals, not to mention ammunition, I’ve found that it’s not so bad to not clean after every use. But like changing the oil on your vehicle, your gun will last longer and perform better if you keep it clean and well lubed.
For me it has also been a fun experience to clean guns as a family! My wife is tired of the The Green Beret movie though…

Semper Paratus

Kids and Guns: A Good Combination?

Mormons are known for many things, some being an emphasis on families and also for having big families. I would agree with this general statement even though I know there are LDS families of all sizes. I have a large family with several boys and several girls. Each one of them has fired guns throughout their lives. Our oldest is like me, a gun nut. The second oldest is a concealed carry holder in another state. From the youngest to the oldest, all have learned gun safety and good shooting practices. Not only am I a gun nut, I was a weapons instructor in the military. So my children didn’t have a chance.
After 30 plus years of marriage my wife has been exposed to guns for as long as my children. How have we kept them safe from curiosity and accidents all these years? It takes diligence and work.
Let me also say that when I was younger I was much more foolish. I think I was a bit “ate up” as we say in the military. I was way too selfish and way over confident. As I got older I learned that being cautious is not being weak. By the time my older kids were closer to leaving home, I became a lot more safety minded. I did not lock up our guns in our home. I taught our children respect for and the operation of, many weapons. I thought that was enough, and thankfully, it was. One of my rules is, “Never leave home without a knife or a gun.” These weapons must be carried safely and lawfully. So as I write about kids and guns, I speak from the present, not my “ill spent youth.” ( I credit my wife with seeing more in me than I was!) I think I was lucky on many levels. Don’t rely on luck.
Gun security in a home with children is two fold. First, is physical security. I’ve caught our children in various places in our home through the years of their growing up. I’ve learned that just putting a gun up high could be a big mistake. At first when our kids were little we kept the guns up and unloaded. As they got older, I felt we needed a defense weapon close at hand. The only way I know to do this is a lock box. There are many on the market these days. They are a vault that will secure a weapon, or anything else you want secure, in a small box that can be accessed quickly with a code. There are some that are biometric, which means your finger print will open the box. I’ve never used the biometric vault and have read good things and bad things about them. At one time, we kept a semi-auto pistol near the bed with a magazine in it. My kids could not pull back the slide. I knew this because I took them to the range and had them try. They weren’t strong enough. Like I said, I was foolish. It did work, but who’s to say when they became strong enough? Or would they have a friend who was stronger? Use a lock box. They are not expensive enough to warrant not buying one. Your guns should be in a locked vault or a locked cabinet or safe. Most of our weapons through the years were semi-automatic. When storing them I never felt the need to keep them loaded. I did and do keep loaded magazines with them. Some of you will not like this practice. What if the secured cabinet is left open, you say. I do not agree with this, but my kids are older. Do what you feel is right and follow your local laws. Trigger and chamber locks are an option if you do not lock your weapons in a safe or locked cabinet. Remember, there are always Grand kids or friends or family’s young ones that will visit or stay in your home. Act appropriately. To me, the only loaded weapon, ready to shoot should be in a locked box. Some will lock their stored weapons and lock ammo in another location. Lock and key (or combination) is the only sure way that no accident can occur. Like I said, when I was younger I stored weapons without being loaded and away from ammo, but that was dangerous and I do not recommend it.
The second safety feature is education. Teach your children what guns are, what they can do, how to safely handle them, and that they are not to be played with. Teach by precept and by example. One thing I know my kids know is the 4 safety rules. When handed a weapon if they did not clear that weapon (check to insure it is unloaded) then they would be reminded by me. Often to the point of irritation. “Clear that weapon!” was my mantra. ALL weapons are loaded and should be treated as such. I don’t care if you just cleared it. Treat it as if you made a mistake. Because maybe you did. Pointing the weapon in a safe direction is imperative. As a weapons instructor in the military I had a ball. It started off as a bandolier (the OD green ones that 5.56 ammo comes with stripper clips in them) rolled into a ball. After a few years I was awarded the “rubber rouser”, a rubber ball that I would hit any culprit with who put his finger in the trigger guard or on the trigger before the firing line was hot (that is, it was time to shoot and no one crossed the red line). I never employed the “rouser” with my kids, but they knew what I meant when I reminded them of this rule. Please, for my sanity, do not put your finger on the trigger unless your sights are on your target, in my presence. The life you save may be mine. Hollywood and TV can ruin even a trained shooter. I’ve seen it time and time again. That’s why I had the “rouser” because even experienced shooters can have bad finger discipline. When you do shoot, know what is behind your target. Law enforcement must assess this quickly. What “collateral damage” is behind my target? Always know what’s beyond your target. Teach your children these 4 rules and help them to be disciplined in them.
Also, you can help your kid’s curiosity about guns by answering their questions, showing them that guns are dangerous tools, like your circular saw, and by not putting off their questions by taking them to the range as often as they want. Just remember, when you take kids to the range you are not there to shoot yourself. You are there to help your kids to learn and become unafraid of safely used guns. They should be familiar enough with your weapons that they are not interested to try and handle them without your full help and attention. If they show no interest, let them know that they must learn to handle guns safely to protect them from guns danger, but also to protect their siblings and others who may come into contact with a gun. Let them know that there is a minimum training everyone in the home should have because guns are in your home. After their initial training, you can remind them often about what they learned. You as their parent must determine what age this should be. We used the age of 8 if there was no interest shown. You also must determine the youngest you would give this training. I have also given my kids training in knives and pepper spray. This is important training if you are to have guns in your home. Do not put it off or think there will be time later. First practice the first feature of gun safety by keeping guns locked (trigger, chamber, or gun safe). Then continue with education.
My Mother grew up as a child after the depression on a farm. My Grandfather had guns as a means of hunting and controlling predators. Even so, my Mother had no training and little exposure to guns. As a result, she is deathly afraid of guns. When she sees one she acts like it’s a coiled snake about to strike. I don’t expect everyone to be a gun nut like me, but an education about weapons and how they can be handled safely is something all people should know. Cars kill many more people than guns and yet we take it for granted that everyone eventually will be trained on how to drive safely. Gun safety should be taught and the rules adhered to by all that own guns. Many gun owners don’t think anything of that shotgun from Grandpa that’s been in the back of the closet for 15 years. They are not gun people so they don’t bother with training. This is where kids can be in danger. There are also some, like I used to be, who are lax gun owners who think their kids will learn by osmosis how to be safe with guns. They also practice very little security of their weapons in the back of their closet or high on a shelf. Do not let your kids become a statistic. Also, anti-gun proponents will use the “bad” gun owners as a reason for stricter gun laws, some of which erode at our 2nd amendment rights. Commit now to being a responsible gun owner. If you don’t have training, seek it out. Teach your children and leave a healthy and safe gun legacy.
Semper Paratus