Sunday, February 23, 2014

A few thoughts on Open Carry and the Knee Jerk Condemnation thereof...

I have been a supporter of gun rights and other civil rights work for some years.

At the end of the day, Open Carry folks are the "drag and leather queens" of our movement. In the State of Washington, where carry is still largely accepted, we do ourselves no disservice with holstered open carry of handguns. Much like the aforementioned drag and leather queens, our open carry community members are the ones most likely to be out there loud and proud and getting interviewed for the media - because they are visible. For philosophical or other reasons, there exist  individuals who responsibly open carry  - often in the belief that it is wrong to require a license or otherwise exercise prior restraint upon individuals wishing to exercise a fundamental right - carry. Further, many believe that open carry offers the same benefit to the 2A community that "coming out of the closet" does to the LGBT community.

It is far easier to demonize someone (or an entire class of someones) that you've never met or a group with whom you've had a very limited number of interactions with the so-called "bad children" of that group than it is to demonize Aunt Sally, Uncle Jim, cousin Larry or "my brothers best buddy, Sheila-Sue that likes girls and fixes his car for him." Familiarity makes that whole "all LGBT folks" or "all gun owners" demonizing MUCH harder to accomplish - the "hey, I know someone gay, a gun owner, or both and they are pretty decent folks..." thing kicks in and the propaganda starts to break down in the face of that.

The question "is open carry always bad" is a red herring, at best. The real question, the one which requires actual thought, is "under what circumstances and by whom is open carry beneficial?"  I would suggest points for consideration:

* Is the firearm you propose to carry inherently frightening to the general populace (regardless of whether that fear is rational, and no, anti-gun loons do not count as "general populace" - neither do gun-owners, for this purpose)?

* Do you have the social skills to interact politely and diplomatically (see "non-confrontationally") with the general public and/or law enforcement when questions arise?

*Do you have the necessary skills to interact with media successfully?

At this point in history, I'd suggest that at about 98% or so of public gatherings that long arms or semi-auto firearms closely based on a long-arm platform are right out under the first test - and further, that they indicate an undesirable (for our purpose) degree of attention-seeking. It is possible that, with guidance, folks engaging in such can learn "how to win friends and discombobulate the anti's" - but only in the presence of a willingness to learn AND a willing teacher. Most that I've met carrying long arms at rallies and such are newcomers to political activity and while quite passionate, are often more focused on that passion and moral righteousness ("it's my RIGHT") than on *winning*.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone else in the OC movement I've met...they are our allies, not our enemies. It's probably less than constructive to deride an entire group of potential supporters just because of their outriders.

The second test addresses more of the "whom" part - if you are hot-headed or generally quick to anger, going for a quick OC stroll through some of Seattle's more liberal neighborhoods is likely not the best possible choice. There are certainly other regions of the state where the chance of less than enthusiastic acceptance exist. Odds are quite good that even if you are acting in an entirely lawful manner, that you are going to get to interact with the Seattle Police (a good number of which are alleged to suffer from mild to severe cases of "not from around here" and may not necessarily have the skills to interact successfully with an oversensitive soul). It'll be up to you, wherever you are open carrying, to be "the calm one" and "the ambassador" in any situation you stumble into - whether with SPD or the curious/concerned lil' old southern granny asking if you are a cop and "is that really legal?" "Why?" You need to be ready to patiently work with either of the above. If you can't, OC probably isn't for you (at least in any way beneficial to the 2A community.  When you OC, you take on a greater responsibility than all the rest of us quietly CCP'ing away - because you are *visible.*

Finally, the third test (optional as long as you never talk to the media nor allow yourself to be photographed by them). Talk to someone with media experience before you go so far as to identify yourself to the media. The media are *not* your friend - they are there in pursuit of stories that sell ad revenue. The bigger and splashier the story, the happier their managers. Big and splashy is *fine* - so long as gun owners are perceived as rational, intelligent and well-informed folks at the end of the day. However, controversy sells - so the media will gleefully seek out the most emotionally wrenching, shocking or just plain dramatic elements to portray - don't give them that.

Your mileage may vary. All this represents only my opinion on things, not that of any organizations that I may or may not be associated with in theory or in reality. If you want organizations views, you should probably talk to people who *do* speak for organizations.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Terror is not a sustainable condition

At least as far as I can tell, one can only do terror (and/or watch ones intellect leave the building) for a limited period. Then you have to either get over it and move in the most positive direction available or do some variation on curling up and preparing to die.

I've chosen the first option, hopefully rather obviously. I've done the angiogram tango and tomorrow morning will be doing the y-90 bead implant radiation thing. I'm feeling fairly positive about it, and hopeful that it will nuke the bejeezus out of the tumor.

I'm thankful for those in my life who've been gracious as I lost my marbles for nearly a month (they were, thankfully, returned about Tuesday before last) and am now working like a madman to try and play a mean game of catch-up. The world does not pause simply because I got told I am engaged in medical adventure.

Finally, I got to take four newbies (my brother, his brother-in-law & wife and their kid) out shooting this Saturday. All had fun, nobody was inappropriately perforated and things went well - but I learned a thing or two. One experienced shooter is simply not enough to work with four newbies is right high on the list of "lessons learned." Next time I take them out, I'll plan on taking along at least one other experienced shooter and perhaps two... and hope for warmer/drier weather.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Men are failing us"

Breda brought an utterly regrettable article to my attention via FaceBook some time ago that reminds me of many articles I've read elsewhere and of folks I've heard of speaking - claiming to represent the womens community or other "oppressed" communities - preaching the gospel of victimhood loud and proud. This particular special snowflake blurts forth:

"Where are our men? Why are they not protecting us?" Sanchez continued, her voice full of frustration. "Men are failing us. I feel as though we are not being protected."
 Perhaps Sanchez asks the wrong question. After decades of being told by the National Organization for Women and their fellow travelers that women are strong and intelligent individuals, worthy of respect and not needing the oppressive protection of men - just perhaps "Where are our men?" is the wrong question.

We've been told to go away. Repeatedly. That our services as protectors were neither required nor desired.

Is it any surprise that an awful lot of men went?


(From a discussion on FB regarding the unique vulnerability of real estate agents)

Carrying a firearm is an intensely personal decision and should be considered in the context of "this is not some kind of self-defense or safety strategy magic wand." If you make that choice, I would strongly encourage a comprehensive safety strategy to include de-escalation, exit choices and training. As a side note, I would equally strongly resist *mandating* such training.

In the Seattle area we are fortunate to have the Seattle Firearms Academy led by Gila & Marty Hayes (among other training institutions) where nationally renowned trainer Massad Ayoob regularly teaches. We are also lucky enough to have Kathy Jackson, author of the "Cornered Cat" living and teaching in our area.

My contribution?

1) Be where the trouble isn't, if at all possible.
2) Run away! Run away! (if you can - for some of us that doesn't work so well..)
3) De-escalate, if you can.
4) Shoot center of mass.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A few more steps...

It's been a busy week.

Monday evening I met with my pastor for a couple of hours, opening an ongoing conversation on faith, finality and hope. We talked for hours and I began my rapproachment with the Methodist church. Like all things human, it is flawed - but it is also a source of hope and comfort.

And, while I am confident that God (however you imagine him) is ok with last minute conversions - I'm also fairly confident that there is a fair amount more sincerity (as opposed to desperation) in a more measured approach and acceptance of faith. I've never lost faith entirely, but I have wondered and have certainly been distant from organized faiths for a very long time.

It is time to change that.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in Olympia dealing with political amusements (I-594/591) and offering a few comments. I had the pleasure of riding with Minuteman and meeting a  number of new folks while I was down there. I'll comment elsewhere on Effective Activism 101 (aka, "How to Not Be A Numbskull & Get What You Want").

Thursday, as related in the last post, was the "great coming out in the office" regarding the cancer adventure. I am deeply grateful that I work with and for a number of quality individuals of great dignity (well, most of the time) and graciousness.

Friday was my initial consult with the Radiation Oncologist. I went in with the view that some hope was better than none, and that even a Hail Mary play was better than rolling over. To my surprise and delight the fine folks at UW suggested they felt they had a significantly better than even chance of beating this thing if I went along with the plan.

I intend to, rather enthusiastically. This will include more focus on hydration and giving up some culiinary choices near and dear to me at the price.

That brings us pretty much up to date. I'm told that my treatment will be a candy-coated combination of "hurry up" and "wait" which, while trying, is a relatively small cross to bear. This morning I ran down for a Bylaws committee meeting in Puyallup (and got stood up - just because I'm trying to be a better person doesn't mean I can't be a tad cranky about such things).

What I'm learning at this point? Well, I'd suggest not casually putting off happiness (or at least alleviating misery) for some theoretical future "ideal time." I'll repeat that there is an awful lot of crud that can be gotten out of the way (insurance of various sorts, final p
lanning, etc) well before things get all critical - and that when things are all critical is usually the worst possible time to be dealing with those details. And that sometimes life blinds us to how many and how wonderful a group(s) of friends we have, and how much they love us - it shouldn't take something of this scale to realize such a thing, but often we're *busy*. 

Wake up and smell the roses - and hug a friend :)

Coming out is hard to do... Part III

Fear isn't rational and it isn't usually filled with fluffy bunny optimism.

This is, perhaps, the third time I've come out over one thing or another. Can't say that I've been thrilled at the prospect on any of those occasions, and this one is no different. There was fear of rejection, financial ruin and general dismay.

Wasn't made any easier by the fact I had a few moral qualms about breaking the news to folks (and my boss) right before they were going to be involved in major events and legislative testimony. Something about not wanting to distract them when I did not see any sort of clinical benefit from said distraction.

Well. This

Seems I ran out of patience for blinding irrationality and spin about a day in to legislative testimony down in Olympia. Law is serious stuff and shouldn't be sold through tragedy or blood-dancing. So, if I was going to be handed a cancer diagnosis, I was going to use it - to quash such hype as best as I could.

Talked with the boss the next day, and received nothing but support. (Remember that bit about fear being irrational and not necessarily based in reality?).

More on next steps tomorrow and we should be all caught up. .

(Oh, re "Part III" - once as gay, once as a gun owner, and now as a cancer patient...)