Monday, July 7, 2014

Unarmed and Paranoid

I had a anxiety attack today. No, I don't have phobias, I had just realized I left my weapon at home. I don't know why I did such a thing, I've never done it before.  I have never forgotten a gun unless it was secured.  For instance, I locked a gun in a lock box and forgot it was there.  I think once I secure a weapon, I know it's secure and tend to dump that info from my brain.  I don't always forget where I've put my gun, just occasionally I've forgotten where I've SECURED a weapon.
While in the military we were taught that forgetting where you put your weapon is an unpardonable sin. There are great consequences to being so negligent.  An Army vet put it this way:

"The first priority is locating your weapon. The military will literally shut down an installation to find an errant weapon. There is no stone they will not turn over, no length to which you will not be driven to find that weapon. They will recall everyone who was in your location for the last day, line them up, and read off serial numbers until they find it. I've seen people practically holding hands as they walk through the woods looking for a lost weapon. I've seen entire battalions placed on lockdown and forced to stay in their location into the wee hours of the morning, and they would still be there if the weapon were not located.

After that hell of wasting hundreds of people's time, keeping people from their missions or their families or their personal time, after making everyone so insanely mad at whoever was careless enough to lose their weapon, what happens to you?

You have no idea.

The very smallest punishment for misplacing a weapon, if it's found within a reasonable amount of time, is a "Company Grade Article 15." That means you can lose one grade of rank, a week of pay, and two weeks of extra duty. If that's all you lost, you got off very, very lightly.

More often, and especially if you lose your weapon in a combat zone, you're looking at a "Field Grade Article 15" if your chain of command is feeling very generous. You would risk losing at least one or as many as three grades of rank (E-4 to E-1), one half of your base pay for two months, 60 days restriction, 45 days extra duty.

That's only for enlisted though. If you do the same as an officer, you won't get the same slap on the wrists as a punishment. Your career is over. You may as well start looking around for a new job and hope you don't get a bad discharge.

So we check our sensitive items religiously. Normally there are two checks a day, and your gear is either on your person, or locked up somewhere secure. A lot of people tether their gear to themselves using a rope so there's absolutely no chance of losing something important. For attachments like scopes, you have to tether it to the weapon with a rope.

Accountability and personal responsibility for your equipment is something the military takes so seriously it's not even funny. Because if there's a fight, and you don't have your weapon, then you're a huge liability to everyone."

This is how the military deals with this type of negligence.  Here's another story to bring this home.

Susan Gratia-Hupp and her parents were having lunch at the Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen in 1991 when a mass shooting took place. The gunman shot 50 people in all, killing 24 of them. Of those fatally wounded, two included both of Hupp's parents. Hupp later expressed regret about deciding to remove her gun from her purse and lock it in her car, lest she risk possibly running afoul of the state's concealed weapons laws; during the shootings, she reached for her weapon but then remembered that it was "a hundred feet away in my car." Her father, Al Gratia, feeling he "needed to do something", tried to rush the gunman and sadly was fatally shot in the chest instead. Hupp, eventually seeing an escape through a broken window (broken by the shoulder of another horrified, fleeing victim), grabbed her mother by the shirt telling her "Come on, we have to go now!" As Hupp moved toward the only escape, she believed her mother to be following behind. However, upon reaching the safety of outside, she then realized her Mother, Ursula Gratia had stayed behind for some reason. Hupp was told soon after the incident that her mother had instead watched her daughter get to safety and then turned to her Husband. Ursula stayed by the side of her mortally-wounded husband, cradling him as he slipped away. Al Gratia died almost instantly. Ursula Gratia had time to glance up at the gunman afterward and back down at her husband when the crazed man then shot her in the head at point-blank range, killing her instantly.

I have known a law enforcement officer who would never be without his weapon.  He told me a good friend of his, who also was a policeman, did not carry to church one Sunday when a nut came in and killed several people.  This is why my friend was always armed.  He said, "I could not live with myself if this happened to me and I could have saved lives."

My fellow shooting, LEO's, and military friends.  Could you live with yourself?  If you can legally carry, always carry.  Then you won't be like I was the other day, unarmed and paranoid.

Semper Paratus