Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Texas, Open Carry and PSH

*My* friends in Texas are generally above average in cluefulness. I'm just blessed that way. They are not anticipating blood in the streets come the wee hours of New Years 2016 as Open Carry (the crippled pusillanimous version) becomes the law of the land in the Lone Star State.

Regrettably, many Texans are not nearly as well-informed and could not be bothered to actually look at how Open Carry actually works in the 45 states where it is already legal - in many cases for decades. Others are just anti-gun and, having lost their argument in the Texas Legislature, seek to re-hash it in the press amidst great hand-wringing and public pants-shitting hysteria - some going so far as to advocate "Swatting" persons lawfully engaged in Open Carry in the Great State of Texas.

For this second crowd - whether of the stupid faction or the malignantly evil faction - I have but a simple suggestion: "Knock it the fuck off!"

Texans just aren't that unique (Sorry, folks). They aren't uniquely evil, stupid nor incompetent. They have not discovered exciting new ways of cranial rectal infarction. In fact, Texans tend to be a bit friendlier and more direct than similar folks in the damp and soggy NW. It may be that the rain makes folks grumpier, passive-aggressive and foolishly lib-prog - but that is another discussion.

Yet, out here in Washington we've had Open Carry for decades - not the neutered Texas version turning up on Friday where someone needs to hold a concealed pistol license and have training - but the real deal where if you can own it you can carry it. It only requires a license (with no training requirement) to carry concealed.

Surprisingly enough there hasn't been blood in the streets, nor has there been mass hysteria. As with any other lawful practice where someone will buy themselves an invitation to go away, a stern talking to by local gendarmes or in truly special cases manage to stupid themselves right into a cell.

I'm not aware in the period where I've been present and cognizant (30+ years) of an Open Carry critter getting ventilated by a cop that couldn't tell the difference.

The main difference between carrying out here and back in Tx under the pre-1/1/16 regime is that I don't need to fret if my shirt gets blow open in the wind out here. It's the same gun, carried in the same holster, with the same number of spare magazines. There is *no* functional difference, unless I'm being consciously showy and using a Hollywood style buscadero holster (a darned rare occurrence, as playing ambassador eats time).

So. If you are honestly ignorant, stop wringing your hands and educate yourself on how Open Carry has worked in 45 other states. If you are a malice-filled SWAT-monkey eager to risk getting folks killed to push your toxic agenda of harassing law-abiding gun owners - I hope every single misfortune you wish on us strikes you, thrice over.

Falling forward....

In contemplating the tragic circumstances in Roseburg, San Bernardino, Colorado Springs and elsewhere - where terrorists, loons and terrorist loons went on homicidal rampagesone is faced with multiple choices in how to react.

You can tear at your hair and gather sack cloth and ashes for a rousing session of emotionalism with a strong theme of "there ought to be a law!" and "we need more gun control!" This lacks a certain amount of rationality, maturity or likelihood of actually accomplishing anything in terms of preventing shootings, mass shootings or the heat death of the universe. Murder is already very, VERY illegal (as is assault with a deadly weapon) and yet another law seems dreadfully unlikely to deter bad actors from acting badly.

You can campaign to address parts of the problem. While overall violent crime is down, mass murder is never a good thing and worthy of extra effort. This approach is somewhat more productive, if a bit long term and speculative. In this model you can work to improve immigrant screening, better fund domestic intelligence efforts, improve the availability of mental health care (and reduce the practicaly and perceived stigma of seeking out such care), seek to limit over-criminalization and work to isolate demonstrably violent bad actors - all this is to the good.

Despite the generally worthwhile nature of this approach (and I'd argue that if naught else, you score moral brownie points for such efforts), such long-term efforts fail to address the immediate "crap happening right here, right now" range of situations. These longer term efforts fail to address "What is the right action should it all go south right there in front of me?"

"Can't happen to me..." really kind of sucks as a plan. It may be unlikely, but the fates may make the choice to crap in YOUR hat one fine day and assuming that you are magically immune doesn't really prepare you for a better outcome than dying messily. Thinking it through and talking it over with folks you respect might at least allow for the chance of a substantially improved endgame.

Sometimes the very best option left on the table is to decide to die falling forward - the exits are blocked, the bad actors have numbers and logistics on their side, and life just generally sucks and appears to be a short term phenomena. A "sucks to be you" kind of day, if you will. The best option you have is to take down as many hostiles as you can on your way to the funeral parlor - if nothing else, every hostile you take down is one that is unlikely to ever get all anti-social with someone else in the future.

The key to doing this successfully is having made the decision, far in the past, just what the bar is for your personal final charge to glory - how bad does it all have to be before honor outweighs survival?

Give it some thought, and then some prayer you never find yourself in a situation so fouled up that it becomes a practical consideration.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

GC's Rules of Serious Social Interaction

Let's be really clear - I come at this from a lay perspective and my rules are based in that, not in years of gun-fighting, training, brawling or any of that other fun. I've been largely content to observe and learn from those who HAVE had those experiences, and the below is based on THAT and my own eccentric system of ethics and goals.


1) Be where the trouble isn't.
2) Failing #1, RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!
3) If, having failed at #1 and #2 being impractical for medical/moral/practical reasons - swiftly prepare to open fire at the center of what you can hit.

4) Repeat as needed until threat abates. 

Saying bad words with greater or lesser vigor at any point in this ritual is entirely your choice.  

Often #1 is fouled by other considerations ranging from "the only decent cheese shop in town is in the middle of the hood!" on up to "I'll be damned if I'll be intimidated out of my own city." How rational those motivates may be is a question left for the reader. 

If one MUST violate #1, try to avoid playing Lady Godiva. Don't go skipping naked through the crime zone with a bag of gold in one hand while singing "tra-la-le, please victimize me." Either be the visually baddest of the badasses on the block (and able and willing to back that up), or strive to fade into the background or as C/W singer Ray Stevens puts it "I just lead a quiet little life, sing my little songs, and don't do anyone harm" as you do your thing and get the hell out. 

Option 2 is fairly self-explanatory. Running away doesn't work terribly well if you are medically fouled up, aged or are entangled with mini-humans (or other critters) you cannot morally abandon. Using offspring and elders as bear food ("you don't have to the fastest - you just have to be faster than the next one the bear is chasing") is frowned on in most societies. 

The third option is best employed when things have gone thoroughly to hell, quite possibly to the point where survival is no longer a likely option. At this point, MANY considerations go right out the window as the goal shifts from de-escalation and conflict avoidance to conflict termination and acquisition of a sufficient honor guard. *

A gun isn't a magic wand. Some folks take a whole lot of persuading when you are trying to educate them on the virtues of non-aggression and require repeated high velocity lessons. Sometimes hostiles bring their friends, who ALSO require additional education. Thus is the lesson of GC's rule #4.

*The notion that ones status in hell is determined by the number of enemies that one slays in ones final battle - your "honor guard." Often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I ain't dead yet...Situational awareness.

Just running the Red Queens Race, which sort of gets in the way of regular blog entries.

Tam's post on situational awareness  kicked over the writing thing for me though. Was down in Pioneer Square last week after being trapped in traffic and discovering a need for dinner - and the only surviving Cajun joint in Seattle is down there - and I like a real jambalaya.

Now, historically Pioneer Square has been a tad rough around the edges. Its cleaned up a fair amount from the bad old days of the 19th century when hookers were dropping flower pots on the heads of passers-by, looting the bodies and selling said bodies onto the UW Med School of the day for use as cadavers.

These days you just have the occasional shooting, stabbing, mugging and drunken brawl. It's become a combination of a social workers dumping ground and Frat Boy Central (with a few bars that would best be described as either catering to the late stage alcoholic or the super-annuated frat boy/girl trying to recapture their youth by re-enactment). Events are not unpredictable - you have a whole bunch of desperate and often addicted folks through whom you are dragging high-value and frequently inebriated potential targets.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Anyway, I was down there at Marcela's and it was a lovely summer evening - I'd finished my meal and decided to take a little stroll to work off the pecan pie. It was, after all, still light out and in general things don't get frisky till after sunset. Also, at 6'2" and reasonably well filled out many of the frisky seem to be of the view I would make a poor target.

Walk was pleasant enough, but I realized a couple of things.

1) I'd gotten too comfortable. I'm used to hauling my iPhone 6 around in a breast shirt pocket and semi-visible. Various skanky sorts wandered up to ask if they could "use it" - which had me firmly saying "no, but thank you for asking" while reaching for various tools with a reasonable degree of subtlety. In the future, phone carry position will be more discreet.

2) This was the first time I'd been down to Pioneer Square *alone* in years. Alone seems to make a significant difference to the local predators. I think I will do any future solo  Pioneer Square strolls closer to high noon, regardless of how lovely the evening.

As Tam puts it - situational awareness is a constantly honed skill and it has a shelf life. If 95% of your existence happens around semi-safe locations in secure offices, malls, homes and other locations - you may have mal-adjusted assumptions and outdated data.

It seems to me Pioneer Square is, yet again, trending friskier. Protocols modified accordingly.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Same sex marriage, Tolerance, MYOB, Get Off My Lawn & the Constitution

As we grind towards a SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage, various socially conservative folks and organizations are suffering from an epidemic of pants-wetting and chest-beating.

In introduction, I'd point to the ever instructive tale "And Then There Were None" authored by Eric Frank Russell in 1951 that introduced the term MYOB (Mind Your Own Business) to the language and, to a significant extent, the philosophical landscape.

As with many things, MYOB is a multi-edged sword, as I'll explore later. Hang on tight...this may be a rough ride.


Until quite recently (on a historic scale), government more or less ignored the notion of who got married to whom. After the Civil War a variety of anti-miscgenation (no interracial marriage) statutes popped up, and in the early twentieth century heyday of eugenics the whole marriage license thing (i.e., "folks are too stupid to decide who to marry on their own! Government MUST STEP IN!") popped up.

However, beyond ensuring that participants in a marriage are competent and consenting adults entering into a civil contract of their own free will government has no legitimate role in deciding who can and cannot get married and its sole legitimate service is as a civil registrar and default adjudicator of disputed dissolutions.

Civil marriage, essentially a rather convoluted contract between two competent and consenting adults1, is a legal construct defining the obligations, privileges and responsibilities of those engaged in it (who gets the kids, what happens to property, survivorship, tax and legal rights, etc) and is somehow recorded in an official manner.

Some argue that even the default agreements defined by civil marriage should be dropped in favor of individually negotiated contracts of union, thus further lessening state involvement. See Alabama for recent efforts in this area.

The ethical argument is that civil marriage should be available to all competent and consenting adults, in such configurations as such adults believe will ensure their happiness - with neither subsidy nor penalty imposed by the state.

Religious marriage is an entirely different kettle of fish - a private institution whose activities, within exceptionally broad parameters, are protected by the provisions of the First Amendment. When little matters (say, human sacrifice or the use of peyote as sacraments) do come up for legal debate, they are held up against the harshest form of constitutional examination - "strict analysis" wherein the state actor (usually the folks saying "No. Human sacrifice is NOT ok." or "Peyote is bad, m'kay?") have to sell the judges (or SCOTUS) on the notion that not only is there some kind of compelling state interest, but that the state solution to that "interest" is  the least possible infringement on the right in question (here, freedom of religion).

Religious marriage can be considered either a second layer on the wedding cake, or a second sheet cake set parallel on the table to the first. Churches have performed marriages not recognized by the state, Churches have performed marriages not recognized by other churches, and the states have sanctioned marriages not recognized by various churches.

All well and good.

Each faith, within those very broad limits, gets to do its own marriage thing - but that marriage thing, by itself, bears no legal weight. This is also all well and good. Just because a particular faith doesn't like it if a Jew and a Catholic get hitched, or two muslim dudes (or dudettes) tie the knot, or when a Wiccan and a Buddhist of indeterminate gender get married to each other - doesn't mean that those things shouldn't happen - just that a particular faith cannot be compelled to honor or celebrate such unions.

Under such a relatively minor shift from our historic paradigm, everyone - more or less - wins.

Also under the shield of First Amendment protections is the right of people to make statements either celebrating or denigrating either a specific marriage ("YAY!" v. "Jason and Maria - the syphilitic leper marries the sociopathic nymphomaniac, we can but hope they do not reproduce") or a group of marriages as an entire class ("Same Sex Marriage is Bad!", "Inter-racial Marriage is bad," or even "Marriage as a broad general concept is bad!") - and then have those who disagree vigorously respond with criticism and unkind words.

II. You MYOB, too.

MYOB is a game everyone can play. Just be cause you marry someone that - for religious, practical or many other possible reasons - I consider exceptionally bad for either you or for society (or both), doesn't mean I get to do anything more than kvetch about it (and I should probably hold my tongue and let you discover your errors on your own). As long as everybody playing the marriage game is consenting, competent and adult - it's none of my business. (Note that offspring and policy regarding same should be considered a separate argument). 

III. Not everyone does it your way, nor should they have to...

Look. There are a bunch of different ways to do the marriage/family thing out there. So long as you start with competent and consenting adults - from a "does the .gov need to get involved" point of view, as a default you and yours should be allowed to go to hell in your own special and personalized way.

IV. Legal thoughts from a lay person

1) Yes. There are exceptions, with some states and nations permitting substantially sub-adult marriages. There are fights about "what's an adult?" and "what does competent mean???" and the ever popular "what's consent?" You'd think all these questions would be well settled, but no - even in the United States there are significantly different definitions for each of these terms.

2) Isn't marriage, and regulation of it a state level issue? Yes, yes it is. But two factors come into play - "Full faith and credit" and the broader requirement that states act within the bounds of the U.S. and their state constitutions. And off we go to Federal court....

What would you propose?

Get the state entirely out of the marriage business and limit their role to that of licensing and regulating private contract registrars (not unlike domain registrars), and beyond that dealing with the bad actors inherent to any situations where you have large numbers of humans interacting.

A few thoughts on the special snowflakes....or "Are folks engaged in long arm open carry the particularly badly behaved drag queens of 2A?"

So. Tell me how a bunch of drag queens showing up at a Catholic church and mid-service throwing a major hissy advances the cause of LGBT rights?

Or how would that same group of semi-theoretical drag queens, showing up at someones house, kicking in th
eir door, and starting to do a full-out drag show in the middle of the living room of a very startled resident improve LGBT relations with the broader community and protect and restore LGBT civil rights?

Finally, how would our same bunch of drag queens - now riding rental elephants complete with golden howdahs - crashing the local St. Paddy's day parade as a surprise participant improve LGBT rights/causes/etc?

In the first two cases, well before we would even have the discussion "well, how does this advance the cause and why was it a very bad idea?" we'd likely be having a lovely discussion of trespass on private property and breaking and entry...only then to discuss "gee, tell me again how this was such a great idea??" as the matter came up for hostile discussion the subsequent year in Olympia.

Any of the above would be counterproductive for the LGBT community (to put it mildly) and would merit (and likely receive) scathing criticism from that community.

Something roughly equivalent, less the elephants & drag queens & golden howdahs, resulted in a Supreme Court decision ( making clear that not only does a group have a right to associate freely - but that it has the right to refuse to associate.

This, perhaps, was not the intent of the LGBT activists - to score a SCOTUS decision effectively sanctioning their exclusion. This might, perhaps, be a lesson for those in the 2A community.

In other words, a group holding a private event (we'll get back to that shortly) has the right to insist on only admitting those it likes, that display "proper attire" (whatever said group might think such is) or persons that bring boxes of really good belgian chocolate. It may also, barring other provisions of law, ban from their event any person or class of persons the organizers feel either offensive or somehow compromise the First Amendment protected message of the organizers.

You will note the above uses "group" - not "LGBT" group. This is a game everyone can play, and was originally used to deny the right of a bunch of the LGBT Irish folk the right to march or participate in the Boston St. Paddy's parade - a private event.

Now, to our next question - WhAT IS A PRIVATE EVENT!!!!???

Now is a good time to grab an adult beverage and hang on tight.

A private event is some kind of event not sponsored or substantially organized by any governmental organization or paid for with government funds that has not been (for the most part, it gets a bit gray here) publicized as a public event.

As long as said event is held on private property and doesn't somehow violate other law(human sacrifice, as an extreme example, is considered poor form no matter where or at what kind of event you propose to do it at), participatory restrictions are pretty much fair game (consult your attorney for the few and odd exceptions).

A public event is *not* a private event. It happens when an event is announced as a public event or, in most cases, is a government sponsored thing (This comment applies ONLY to WA, and recognizes MANY exceptions). A public event or activity sponsored by a private body is still able to engage in some of the same restrictive practices that a private event may lawfully enact, but not all. IANAL - it's easier to "just not go there" and refrain from discriminating.

In WA, only Governmental bodies (specifically state/county/muni/odd-critters) are completely barred from most forms of discrimination - against gender/orientation/color/ethnicity/religion and, under separate statute, the lawful carry of firearms within the bounds of statue and precedent.

Now, the complex concept - you may believe (and even be correct) that you have the right to do something. That doesn't mean that the "something du jour" is a remotely good idea, isn't counterproductive, and might not look an *awful lot* like a false flag from the hostiles - but you have the *right* to do the "something du jour.*

It doesn't mean you should. It doesn't provide some kind of magic fairy dome immunizing you against criticism, even harsh criticism - particularly from those you claim to be helping who are in fact or believe they have been injured by your "something du jour." And it doesn't mean you have any right at all to demand support from those who you neither consulted, actively derided or simply ignored if it doesn't work out well.

It doesn't even mean that you are sufficiently festive in your "something du jour" that others - who if consulted and/or respected might otherwise have been neutral or even on your side - may not take steps (legislative or otherwise) to neutralize what they see as an active hazard to the well-being and rights of the community du jour (LGBT, 2A, Square Dance Association...fairly universal rule).

When that happens, everyone loses. Years long division that make working together well night impossible are formed, which serve only to ease the work of the hostiles (this is equally true whether we are talking 2A/LGBT/Warthog Breeders Association).

As someone with a wee bit of knowledge and experience of both the LGBT community and the 2A community - the LGBT community is "blessed" with its fair share of do-gooding "we want it all right now or will accept nothing" folks (aka "No Justice, No Peace"), and attention whores. The 2A community is equally blessed, heaven help us.

Neither community really benefits (beyond the "See crazy Uncle Sally over there? The one with the torch and pitchfork? Would you rather work with me or with him?" effect) from the non-consultative "in your face" my way or the highway approach. It can be useful as a last resort, but even then usually carries all kinds of backlash that can end up as a Pyrrhic victory.

The position "because four OC folk were denied access to a small Pride event I shall never again support gay rights for anyone" is a bit beyond the pale. It means you would never be able to work with potential allies, such as Pink Pistols. It means you would have difficulty working with pro-gun Libertarian folks. It is extending ones foot, drawing ones 1911, and opening fire upon the extended appendage. It also fails a fundamental concept of gun safety - target identification.

A far more productive approach might be to simply show up at the proposed site of the 2016 event for a *obscenely early in the morning picnic* with roughly a 100 or so of your best friends, OC'ing or CC'ing pistols, while wearing Pride shirts or Pink Pistols shirts (PP does not discriminate re orientation - if you shoot safely and not at them, they simply don't care)...and simply decline - politely - to vacate as you are present to attend a public event and to celebrate Pride held in a public place. If pushed, retreat to surrounding sidewalks and begin to pamphlet against bigotry.

Getting inside folks heads can neutralize hostiles, befriend fence-sitters, and build relationships that may be useful in pushing common causes forward.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guilt by Association

For some time now, the vast majority of "mass shooters" have been some variant on "progressive Democrat", and for the most part tetched in some fashion.

Does that mean we should round up Democrats folks of a given political/religious/philosophical bent and keep them in camps for the safety of the general public? Or that we should preemptively incarcerate all mentally ill persons?

Of course not - but this is what our anti-gun opponents would wish on lawful gun-owners: collective punishment for the misdeeds of the few.

Doesn't a tiny part of you whisper "What's good for the goose?"

[Alright. Since I wrote this post based on recollections of some articles from a few months back, it appears that the underlying assumption (or at least the provability thereof) that mass shooters skew (D) has been debunked pending further data. Mea Culpa. The fundamental theme, however, that individual bad acts are, in fact, individual and it is wrong to engage in collective punishment or tar an entire demographic with the actions of a few sick or evil persons remains. So there.]